Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review #50: Renee's Treasure

9789352017188Name: Renee's Treasure
Author: Indrani Sinha
No. of Pages: 145
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 150/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Renee lives in a Railway Colony in Varanasi with her family. She has been promised a birthday gift by her Dadaji. In a sudden turn of events, she has to hunt for it through the lanes and by lanes of Varanasi, helped by her friends Anita and Sacchu. It must be kept a secret from the adults as Renee chases her dream in a race against time. Will Renee and Sacchu, venturing out for their secret exploits from the safe precincts of their Colony, ultimately find the treasure?

Indrani Sinha is a homemaker, who has taught in the primary section of various schools for many years. She loves reading, cooking and listening to old Hindi songs. She also likes to travel and see new places. Her father worked with the Indian Railways, so the family stayed in different towns because of his many transfers. During the course of her married life, she got the chance to live in many cities in India and interact with the people there. She and her husband are now settled in Delhi NCR.

It is Renee's eleventh birthday. Her paternal grandfather, Dadaji, tells her that he has got her a secret birthday gift. But she will have to find it on her own. Also she is not supposed to tell her parents. He will give her the first hint of the treasure hunt after she cuts her birthday cake in the evening. But in an unfortunate turn of events, Dadaji passes away later during the day, without giving her the first hint.

Renee's father is then transferred  to another locality in the city. On moving to their new quarters, Renee becomes friends with the siblings, Anita and Sacchu. The story is about their escapades to hunt for the promised treasure and how they got each others' backs when in trouble.

The story is set in 1960-61, in the city of Varanasi. That was a time when lives were less complicated and childhood was more innocent. The author well captures the essence of the times, relationship of kids with their parents and grandparents, and the innocence and comradeship in friendships. The author has also beautifully incorporated the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip to India in 1961.

The story is well-paced with lucid language. To me, the book cover spelled nostalgia. It is a refreshing read. I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it for young children.

I give "Renee's Treasure" 4 stars on a scale of 5.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review #49: The Last Bloom

Name: The Last Bloom
Author: Poulomi Sengupta
No. of Pages: 396
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 375/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From (Wordit Content Design and Editing Services)

'The Last Bloom' is a story of Priya, her dreams, aspirations and struggles to fit into her new college life and its politics. Priya was ecstatic, as she was admitted to her dream college. All her visions of adventurous rock climbing trips, long night jollification with bosom friends, class bunking in lieu of movie shows, tasting lip smacking street side delicacies with classmates-a new exciting world would now unfold before her! But college is different from Priya's idyllic dreams. In an environment as opposed to that of school, exposed to an educational system, which is controlled by political unions, will naive Priya be able to survive without any political protection? Caught between the college hero Suvo's charming words and her acrid tussles with conceited college dropout Vivek, will immature Priya be able to differentiate between cajoling false comrades and brutally honest well-wishers? Often degraded by the skittish Shweta and saved by the blunt rebellious Aashi, will Priya be able to identify her friends and stand up for them, against fierce opposition? As Priya undertakes her journey of self-discovery, will she succumb to her deep-seated fears and insecurities or will she survive the ultimate test of time?

Poulomi Sengupta is an alumna of IIT Kharagpur. Presently working in Mumbai, she loves her share of kickboxing and a colourful dose of oil painting to brighten the apparently mundane life.

Priya has enrolled in her dream university and aspires to get quality education. But her expectations are shattered when she experiences that the students are more interested in politics than education. Being one of a handful of students who boycotts the boycott to attend classes, she is sidelined and looked down upon. Also, she is disliked by most of her classmates who had their education in vernacular medium unlike her English medium education.

The author tries to address various issues like;
-Survival in an environment of politics without being attached to any political group
-Does student politics really help students or does it hamper quality education
-The need of student politics
-Why do students really join political parties?
-Flaws in our education system
-Pros and cons of vernacular medium of education

I felt the author tried to talk too many things at one go. The plot had potential but the flow of writing lacks maturity. The author has a good repository of words, but the beauty of their usage is lost in the average writing style.

The incidents in Priya's student life are also very boringly depicted, topics are explained and discussed beyond necessity. A bit of philosophy is thrown here and there, and actually becomes overbearing. I feel it could have been a much better read.

I give "The Last Bloom" 2 stars on a scale of 5.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Book Review #48: A Window Seat

Name: A Window Seat
Author: Vishala Katta
No. of Pages: 249
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 250/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From the publisher.

When a dying corporate professional escapes into a train to somewhere, he finds himself become a storyteller of old mythological tales. Tagging along is ten year old Hari who is looking for his parents he lost in the trains.

Together their adventures lead them to debating with priests, dancing with eunuchs, sharing meals and conversing casually about death with random strangers.

A runaway wife tags along with these annoying mavericks. Taking her first train she is all ready to be an actress.

That night, what begins as a harmless conversations changes their fate completely.

What makes them hold on to each other for longer? Do they find what they were looking for? What happens when they bump into each other few years later? But do all of them make it alive?
A window seat is all about those conversations with strangers that seem to change you unknowingly.

Vishala Katta writes about the untold stories that ordinary people carry on their shoulders. She finds extreme gleeful childlike pleasure in conversations with strangers and other creatures that choose to respond. Originally, an engineer, she set out to pursue her love for Communications at Mudra Institute of Communication, (MICA) Ahmedabad. She is currently residing in Delhi doing her daily corporate grind as a marketing and communications professional. While most of her day is spent on her seat at work, the rest of the time she is busy lecturing her better half about feminism and travelling to places with the sound of water.

I was quite excited by the blurb. The plot seemed offbeat and interesting. The cover also looked nice with the chugging train.

Stalin is the dying corporate, Hari is the ten-year-old urchin and Kuhu is the runaway bride. The story started out well with Stalin.He is suffering from incurable cancer and so decides to travel, looking for a miracle. His religious debates also were interesting. But he didn't turn out to be the storyteller the blurb promised.

Kuhu's part also started well, but somehow some things were absurd in her story. Like she is asked to visit a dead relative's family alone, in a distant town on the very second day of her wedding. She goes to the railway station alone in the evening (it is very near from her husband's home) in a new place, dressed in an obvious newlywed's attire. Her husband sees her off from home only. At the end, I actually felt sorry for him.

How Hari lost his parents in the train is not very convincing. And nobody noticed a lost boy at the stations is also not very convincing.

The plot had potential but the story didn't turn out to captivating. I was actually a little disappointed.
 I give "A Window Seat" 2.5 stars on a scale of 5. 
This book has been published by Leadstart Publishing. If you are a new author and want to get published, send in your manuscripts at