Book Review: Seductive Affair by Rishabh Puri

I’d received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. There were a number of reasons I accepted this, the biggest being that it had been a long time since I read a good romance. Reading the blurb told me that I was going to read one such. Of course, the title promises some steamy scenes, but there is more to it than just that, as I will get to in a minute.

Prisha is a career-oriented journalist. But when the boy she’s engaged to be married to insists that she give up work, she breaks it off with him. He is also condescending and wants her work to include cooking and caring for him, doing his laundry, making his bed, and having babies with him. So of course Prisha left.

Cut to a month later when it is her first day of work at one of the most prestigious papers of the country. She has an instant crush on a senior colleague who avoids her like the plague. But they have to go on a business trip together. Whatever could go wrong? Or should we ask, what could go right?

The reason why the book is more than just a love story is because of its strong, independent protagonist, Prisha. It is only beginning to be seen in today’s India that girls prefer not to marry a man if he wants her to sit at home and gets in the way of her dreams. It’s such a refreshing thing to see because all these years, it has been taken for granted that women should be the ones giving up for their families. And for a man to love her for who she is and what she comes with is something that has been there for a long time, but is only being seen more frequently these days.

The way the author has sketched all the characters in the story is encouraging to see. They don’t shed their characteristics at any point in the story. There’s no miracle showing them truly transformed, which one might usually expect. It’s uniform all along, and that is another reason why I love Seductive Affair.

Like I said before, the title does suggest a few steamy scenes. But they really don’t seem out of place. Instead, the romance in the story builds up quite naturally, in my opinion, and you don’t feel any sort of pinch as they happen. It’s an office romance, so of course you should expect them.

All in all, I’ll just say that if you are looking for a whirlwind office romance, then look no further. Seductive Affair is an easy, fast-paced read that will leave you feeling happy.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Amazon India.

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Book Review: The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S. Moore

I had requested a copy of The Man on the Middle Floor from NetGalley based solely on its cover. And I read it a long time after I got it. So long that I only hoped that it justified my faith in the unknown. But the problem with this book is – no, actually, it isn’t just one thing. There are too many to finish up in just a single sentence or even a paragraph. So this time, I will deviate from my usual form of review-writing and put down in points what I liked and didn’t like about it.

But before that: The Man on the Middle Floor is the story of Nicholas Peters or Nick, an autistic 24-year-old who is living on his own. He needs routine, because of his condition. And any variation agitates him. This leads him to a commit a number of crimes, though they don’t seem wrong to him in his condition. He is merely looking for peace of mind.

Karen Watson is a scientific researcher working in a hospital and doing case studies on autism, to the point of ignoring her children who live with her ex-husband. She is writing a paper and when she sees that Nick is autistic makes him her pet project. Tam is a cop who has just resigned from his post but he wants to do something for society.

These three people live in the same building and when their lives cross, whether the world topples over or rights itself is left to be seen.

What I Didn’t Like:

Oh, there is just too much that I didn’t like. Yes, for a minute in the end, I felt I was being too harsh and maybe things were like this somewhere in the world. But that doesn’t take away from how I felt as I read the story.

  • The book starts off in a confusing manner. Plus all I was hoping for is an explanation for how badly The Man on the Middle Floor started off. Nothing registered in my head because there really wasn’t a way to find out who the good guy was and who the bad guy was. This is uniform across the first half of the book, though it is clear in the end. Obviously.
  • Ideas and timelines are all over the place. I needed saving more than once or twice or thrice.
  • One of the main characters is autistic but that does not mean you repeat their dialogues either. Coupled with the very confused writing, this one grated on my nerves like no other.
  • At one point, I couldn’t even decide if I liked this book. To top it off, there are some explicit scenes that are really not necessary for the storyline.
  • While hating a character really reflects on the author’s success, Karen really pissed me off. An absolute hypocrite and a bad mother, in general a selfish person, the moment she entered the scene, I would want to rip her head off. She wants to help the world but has no idea how to help her own family. This somehow made me angry towards the story, mostly because of how I didn’t like how it started.
  • Did I say the narrative was repetitive? It kept harping on things over and over again, and it annoyed me to a degree that I was either in a mood to chuck the book across the room or get it over with as soon as possible.
  • Finally, when you question yourself as to why you’re still reading this book, you should know that it’s a bad one and you should be running away from the train-wreck as fast as possible.

What I Did Like:

Despite how The Man on the Middle Floor made me feel all shades of angry red, there were a couple of points that I did like. Here they are:

  • The book raises a valid point about divorced mothers. Of course, Karen sort of nullifies it all by the end, but it’s true, the point the author makes. If a man was divorced, he wouldn’t be expected to give up his career and help. But a woman is expected to put everything else down, including her career, and take care of the kids.
  • It talks about a topic as sensitive as autism and shows how the extremes of the disease can really get, both for the person suffering from it and for the people around them.

Its two positive points, however, do nothing to nullify its negatives. Unfortunately, despite the sensitiveness of the topic, the story did nothing to touch my heart. And that’s a shame, because I was expecting so much from The Man on the Middle Floor. But this is just my opinion, of course. It just might work for you if you’re prepared to sit through the initial few pages.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Jodi Picoult’s House Rules, that talks about Asperger’s Syndrome, was a better novel, in my opinion.

Picture Courtesy: Goodreads.

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Book Review: Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto

[Em and the Big Hoom is one of the 10 Books I Hope to Read in 2018.]

Em and the Big Hoom was gifted to me about 3 years ago. I remember being excited about it but I hadn’t really paid attention to the cover. And since then, it sat on my shelf, staring half-hopefully, half-forlornly at me. It is only yesterday that I thought, “Enough is enough. I cannot go on neglecting this book that I’ve heard so much about.” Thinking thus, I pulled out the book and it was then that the beauty of the cover struck me.

It struck me enough that I need to explain here how it looks. With a dark purple matte cover, purple stained pages, and a font that is ready to make your heart pump faster, this paperback copy is a delight to the eye. It is so beautiful that it sort of became difficult to breathe as I lay eyes on it. Even now, I have the savage urge to protect it with all I have. I finished reading it this evening but I haven’t yet removed the newspaper cover that I put on it when I started reading the book. You can imagine the rest.

Em and the Big Hoom is the story of two kids whose mother, Imelda, or simply Em suffers from a mental illness that forgives no one. Not Em, not her husband Augustine (called The Big Hoom), and definitely not her children. Told from the perspective of the son, Em and the Big Hoom delves into his mind and brings out thoughts that he even hated admitting to himself. How he deals with his mother and her illness, how the household goes on in different times that dance according to the diktats of her depression, and his relationship with the people in his family forms the story.

I couldn’t understand the word ‘Hoom’ and it’s pretty early in the story that the reasoning is given. I still feel that the reason it is used isn’t as compelling as it feels it is, but who am I to judge? But the title is not what makes this book.

What completely propels Em and the Big Hoom from the area of wannabe eccentric novel to a thing of beauty is its writing. It is frank and filled with dark humor – a humor that doesn’t offend you but makes you wonder why you never thought of those truths before. It breaks your heart every inch of the way and makes you want to cry softly – because screaming is for people like the Em. Us? We become the Big Hoom.

I want to go on and on about how well this book brings forward the angst while staying in the area of dark humor, but I simply cannot. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than living with a loved one and watching them suffer. And when the sufferer is one’s own mother, you are, many-a-times, at a loss as to how to handle it all.

The humor is placed in the most unexpected of places. There were times when I started chuckling and seconds later, I would stare off into space, feeling incredibly guilty for laughing while Em suffered. What is it about this book? I’d ask myself. And I’d get no answer. Then I’d read something about Em’s marriage and how she cried about it and how someone asked her, “Bachpan ke liye ro rahi ho?” And I’d purse my lips trying very hard not to cry.

Em and the Big Hoom vacillates between the past and the present. With the timelines being blurred in so many places, I had to concentrate hard in order to stay connected. But with a story such as this, this timeline mix-up is rewarding, because then, I understood the character arcs better. Plus it is so easy to read! Maybe if the resolution in so many other books that strive to be clever were like the one in Em and the Big Hoom, the world would be a much better place to live in and read.

All in all, Em and the Big Hoom is a book about mental illness, dealing with it, dealing with mental illness of a loved one, and most importantly, love. Must, must read!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Goodreads.

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Book Review: Legends over Generations by Ashraf Haggag

Legends over Generations – the title is pretty self-explanatory as to what this book is about. A nonfiction book that talks about prominent personalities across various fields, this book is enough to get a basic idea about what all these legends were all about.  Here is a short summary of the book:

“Since the beginning of human settlement, a lot of people came up with ideas, philosophies, beliefs, experiments, research, redesigning of thoughts, talents, and surveys to bring myths to reality. People contributed to various life aspects science, politics, literature, arts, social activities and so many other fields. These genius minds put a keen interest in every phenomenon right from when they were young. The zeal, passion, dedication, hard work and efforts they put into their work helped them discover something new about the world we live in.

In these Legends, we’ve seen inexplicable abilities that helped us define our existence and human life. Their names are engraved in the sands of time for their work in the welfare of mankind with different inventions that have made our lives easy, enjoyable and successful. The following chapters commemorate the greatest personalities we’ve ever seen who changed the world.

They are among the most influential people of today’s world. With practical advantages in various aspects, they have helped us to grow a better understanding of the world and different working phenomenon’s that governs us. Their way of shaping modern day culture is completely unrivaled.”

The first thing that struck me as I started reading this collection of exemplary life stories was how concisely the author, Ashraf Haggag, has gathered all the facts mentioned here. In every sentence, in every fact he puts forth, he is clear and eloquent in his descriptions. Of course, these facts aren’t a comprehensive list related to the legend in question but it is enough to keep your interest piqued and give you a starter course in general knowledge about the legend. I must say, however, that in a few places, it felt very stiff and formal, mostly because of the subject matter, perhaps.

There are a couple of things that grated on my eyes when I read this: the spelling mistakes, the punctuation, and the formatting. It could have been edited in a much better manner, but the chinks in the armor are there.

But the armor is strong enough that it takes the heat of these and plods on with a strength that will overwhelm you. Because trust me, looking at all the signatures and the facts related to them and the quotes attributed to them can inspire you immensely. Especially legends in the arts, for someone like me, are a huge inspiration in the direction I am going. Loved reading about them!

If you want to gain knowledge about legends like the Dalai Lama, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Che Guevara, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and William Shakespeare, I’ll recommend this to you with the catch that this is a great place to get basic knowledge of them about, but not a comprehensive data kit about them.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Legends over Generations was awarded the Book of the Month by tradition.co.uk in the month of April.

Find the trailer to the book on YouTube here: Legends over Generations.

Links to buy Legends over Generations on various platforms:

Amazon | Flipkart | Waterstones | Powells | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Legends over Generations - Author PicAshraf Haggag is a senior executive with nearly three decades of experience in close proximity to the corporate market. His more recent experience has also taken him to every facet of the hospitality industry.

Haggag has direct experience in many different aspects of business, including sales, marketing, revenue management, and administration. Having worked in Germany, the United States, Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, his global experiences have helped him realize that companies must target new market zones in order to grow and prosper in the international marketplace. He is eager to bring enhanced cross-cultural awareness to today’s business leaders.

Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

This poetry collection by Rupi Kaur is so beautiful to lay eyes on, physically. Yet, as I started reading Milk and Honey, I had a strange feeling that I was not going to like it at all. There was a tirade going on in my head that was yelling at me to walk away from this “trainwreck” as soon as possible. But I knew it wasn’t fair to the author. So I decided to reserve my final judgment for when I turned the last page.

Just a few pages in and I realized that a major part of me – the one that brought me into the book with the thought that I wouldn’t like what’s in there – was wrong. The writing is surprisingly good. It stands out because of the truths that it states page after page. Or in the beauty of the words written across the pages. There are minimalistic illustrations, too. And they are relevant to the topics at hand.

The thing about Milk and Honey is that unless you see it not as a poetry collection but as a collection of simple yet beautiful writings, you will not like it. Don’t read the book as a book of poetry, but as a little handbook of truths, and Milk and Honey won’t disappoint you. If you do go into it hoping for poetry, be prepared for crushing disappointment. But maybe this is the latest brand of poetry to be doing the rounds and becoming popular.

The reason why I give this disclaimer is that I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book, some of them dissing it pretty bad. They say that ‘putting a line break in normal sentences cannot be called poetry.’ But then again, I ask, it is called poetry, but you can interpret it your own way, right? That is the whole point of books and opinions in the first place, isn’t it?

Some writings are downright R-rated to the point where I cringed at them, trying very hard to keep my mind open. Those are few and far between. Some others are just plain, not deserving of a dedicated page in a book. But the rest of the writing is beautiful enough to make up for these shortcomings (according to me).

I don’t think Milk and Honey is a masterpiece. Definitely not. And I agree that it is overhyped. But I don’t agree with the opinion that this book doesn’t deserve to exist. I’m glad it exists because some of the paragraphs or writings – I don’t know what to call them – are too beautiful to have remained in the drafts of the Instagram celebrity called Rupi Kaur. If you look at the ratings of Milk and Honey on Goodreads, they are quite encouraging. But look at the reviews, especially the negative ones, and they literally rip this book apart. Which I think is really unfair.

So I reiterate this point again: Read this book for yourself and then form an opinion, which should always be the case, but more so here.

Also, a tip. Again. Don’t go into it with the expectations of Whitman-esque poetry and you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Amazon India.

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Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window, the latest thriller to be taking the reading world by storm, had my attention, too. Which is why I went ahead and bought it, to see for myself if it was worth the hype. This is A.J. Finn’s debut novel and I knew nothing about it before I dived into it. Except that it is a thriller, of course. 🙂

The Woman in the Window is about Anna Fox, a psychologist who suffers from agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of places, people, and situations that can bring on panic attacks. Anna, because of this, is confined to her house and doesn’t step out at all. She has the habit of keeping tabs on her neighbors through her camera. But when her new neighbors move in, everything is thrown around and tumbles on its head.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t like The Woman in the Window as much as I’d have liked to. And I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in this book. Every review that I’d read so far elevated this story to a level that had me intrigued to no end. Then of course, I had to go ahead and buy it, in the HUGE book haul that we had in June, along with 63 other books.

The first thing I didn’t like about The Woman in the Window is that it is repetitive in so many places that it is annoying. There are so many chunks in there that can be removed and it would still not make a difference to the storyline. Instead, it would transform the book into something much crisper and so much more fun to read. I don’t exactly hate the book, merely dislike it. But I feel it could have been so much better!

And then there is the sentence formation. I was and am so annoyed by the wannabe poetic writing in a number of places. If this was being written by someone suffering from agoraphobia, then my guess would be that they wouldn’t write like this. It’s written as if a full stop after every 3-4 words will give the text an unheard of brand of beauty. It does nothing of the sort. Instead, it looks like the author thought that readers wouldn’t understand what he is trying to say. And that grates on my nerves. Fragmented writing is not something I am a fan of.

Plus, the end. What was that all about? I felt that the end of the story could have been put in so much better a manner. But it was just a couple of pages of explanations and bam! The climax of the story was here! It’s so unfair because I was flipping the pages in the hope that a plot twist was coming soon, or the book was going to get interesting very soon. But all my hopes were dashed to the ground and I felt let down in the end.

Another thing that people have been raving about but I didn’t like as much was the reference to classic Hollywood movies. It’s not that I dislike it, but I was just indifferent to the whole ‘classic noir’ kind of vibe.

I don’t exactly want to put this book off because there are people who love it and there will be people who love it. But I’m all about putting forth honest opinions of books that I read.

Still, if you were to ask me if there was anything I liked about the book, I’d say there was. Whatever else might have annoyed me, the way the author put through the descriptions of agoraphobic behavior intrigued me. The confusion, the panic, the bits of suspense (only the little bits because I’d guessed 70% of the plot points), and the absolute chaos in Anna’s mind were the best parts of The Woman in the Window.

Yes, The Woman in the Window is a great start to A.J. Finn’s writing career, but I just hope that he only gets better with time and not get stuck in the rut that is this book’s plot and story.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Amazon India.

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Book Review: Two Women by Christene A. Brown

I had requested a copy of this book from NetGalley a long time ago and received it half-a-long-time ago. When I decided to read it, I didn’t remember what it was about Two Women that drew me in. Was it that the title had ‘women’ in it? Was it that, for a change, the story was ALL about women? Was it the cover that pulled me in? Whatever it was, I was glad I forgot because then, I could be surprised if I liked it. Or if I didn’t.

Bernice Archer raises two blind, middle-aged daughters, Eva and Ava. It is their tradition that she tells them stories spun out of imagination and inspiration. She has always told them that bowel movements are better than anything that men could make a woman feel. Is this a façade to save her daughters from the truth about their father? Or is she just trying to protect her daughters from the world?

One day, on her return from errands, she runs into two of her neighbors who inspire her stories of Violet and Rose – both of whose mothers had the same notion of woman’s submission to man. But Violet and Rose, Bernice discovers, are made of stronger stuff than their mothers. What follows is how Bernice and her daughters help Violet and Rose discover more than just their dreams.

Now that I am done reading Two Women, it feels like I’m not sure what I think and feel about the book. Sure, there were a few points where I was angered, a few points where I was sad, rare points that made me happy, and quite a few that annoyed me. And during the entirety of the book, I was in a bad state of mind. It annoyed me somewhat. Not in the Why am I reading this? sort, but in the Why do such truths have to be stated right now? way.

While the story of domestic abuse interlinked with soul connections is quite touching in hindsight, it didn’t work for me as much as I would have hoped it would. When you start off with blurred timelines that confuse the reader in the first few pages, one cannot be sure how it is going to go.

The story of Two Women is captivating up to a point. But then, it becomes repetitive. It takes away from the impact of telling a story of abuse and neglect. All you do in the end is groan and say, ‘Oh no! Not again!’ It annoys to see that they aren’t standing up to the atrocities.

Coming to Eva and Ava. They are 53-year-old twins. Blind, I agree, but for the entirety of the book, they act like hormonal teenage girls. I would understand where the hormones come from, because they have never been with a man before. But using that to overshadow what could have been a more impactful character pair is not fair, in my opinion. Eva and Ava could have been so much more than just blind twins.

In the end, though I sympathize with Violet and Rose and quite like their character arcs, there is not much else I like about it. The language and writing style are good, and the few spelling mistakes can be ignored. But overall, it didn’t much work for me. However, I still feel that this book should reach a wider audience just to show how people can change colors with their situations. It isn’t right most of the time, but it is what it is.

All in all, I’d say for Two Women, read it, but without any expectations. And then maybe, you’ll like it.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Goodreads.

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Book Review: Persepolis – The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

I’d been enamored with this graphic novel ever since I laid eyes on the cover. It is so enigmatic and suspenseful that it kept me on my tiptoes till the moment I opened it and started reading it. While I wanted to rush through the pages, I also wanted to take my time with this story.

The Persepolis that I read is a sort of an omnibus that has both parts of the story. On the whole, Persepolis is the autobiographical account of the author from being an Iranian child, facing repercussions of her country’s turbulent history. While Persepolis #1, or The Story of a Childhood is the story of Satrapi as a child – her journey from Tehran to Vienna, Persepolis #2 or The Story of a Return is, you guessed right, her return to her country.

With such supportive parents and grandmother as hers, Marjane, even as a child, was curious, had intelligent notions, and posed questions that only a child can. As Iran sank into turmoil, the need to get out of the country also grew. For to what end was living in an oppressive regime than to cater to the unintelligible minds of unnecessary revolutions?

Persepolis has such beautiful illustrations that the first time I opened the book, it almost made me cry. Its simplicity and the meanings it spells out makes it all the more majestic. It will shake you to the very core. With Marjane Satrapi being a feminist (yes, I can term her that), there are more times than one that I was absolutely proud and went, “You go, girl!”

Persepolis is more realistic than reality itself. While in real life, we don’t want to broach certain topics, Persepolis does it abundantly. It talks. And how! From the reality behind fickleness to that of selfishness, from intra-national racism to personal heartbreaks, from thinking about how man’s actions force our belief in God out of our system to the difference in social classes, from the importance of rightful forgiveness to looking out for oneself – it asks the right questions and makes you think.

Most importantly and at the most basic level, Persepolis shows how impressionable children’s minds are and how ideas that float around them mould them into the type adults they become. Of course, it all depends on us as to how we raise our children. If we strive to become modern, well-thinking parents like Taji and Ebi Satrapi, I think the world will become a lot better. Not only parents in countries like Iran, but those around the world – those who are and those who are about to be – could benefit a lot from learning about Taji and Ebi’s thinking.

This brings me to an important question that I asked myself. Why should only parents benefit from Taji and Ebi? Why can it not be that people in general pick up from the inspiring qualities that they exude from page to page? Why can’t everyone be the encouraging human beings that they simply are that translates into the way they handle parenthood? But I think these are difficult questions to ask because not everyone thinks the same and because the world is not a wish-granting factory. [Yes, I did. No more, though. :P] But mostly, I think not everyone can be like them because not everyone has read Persepolis. *runs away*

The moment I finished reading Persepolis, I felt empty, even though it ended on a hopeful note. I’m rationalizing it to be because it ended way sooner than I expected. And I realize now that I’ve been saying this a lot. In a way, this realization fills me with a certain, inexplicable joy because it means that I’ve been on a spree, picking up and reading good books. J

As I run out of words to gush about this wonderful graphic novel, all I can say is that bluntness is this novel’s biggest USP. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

Is it her fault that she was born where she was born?

Alas, dear child! If the world could only understand that it isn’t, it would be a much better place to live in!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Amazon India.

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Book Review: Cantilevered Tales by Jayant Kripalani

Artist Jayant Kripalani is used to bringing stories to life visually, be it in film, television, or theater. But he is also an author whose first book, New Market Tales, brought out nostalgia and history in full force. And now, his second book Cantilevered Tales, promises to bring reality to the fiction that we read. The story of everyday people and their quirks, Cantilevered Tales has a simple but attractive cover, and an even intriguing blurb.

I must admit I didn’t go into this one with a lot of hopes. [Sorry, Jayant Sir!] But when I did plunge into it, I was pleasantly surprised. There is simplicity in the way it is written, and in that simplicity lies beauty that is only enhanced by the humor and sarcasm.

Easy to read and enjoyable in numerous ways, Cantilevered Tales follows the story of Khokon Lahiri and the people around him, told from Khokon’s perspective. I finished reading this book in less than a day and I wish it had lasted longer. There is a joy that every page and every sentence in this book gives you – one that you can hardly measure. All you can do is smile.

At some points in the book, I laughed. At some, I smiled. At others, I flipped the pages in eagerness to know what would happen. The humor and the wit form a formidable story, and the breezy, beautiful language tops it off like layers and layers of artful cream on an equally tasty cake.

There are puns, there is a little swearing, there is surprise, there is warmth – and all of these blend well to give us a story that can be termed a little masterpiece in its own right. With its sociopolitical plotline, the story could have gone awry at any point. But it’s an ode to the author that it stayed firmly on track and ended up the way it did. I simply enjoyed my way through this beautiful, beautiful book.

However much I am in love with the book, there is something missing that makes me lop off a star. I just cannot put my finger on it. I love the book but I cannot commit myself completely. Does that make sense? I realize I sound like a commitment-phobic lover who runs at the first sign of increasing closeness. But I assure you, this is an absolute rarity. 😀

All in all, Cantilevered Tales, the story of a righteous bureaucrat and the people around him, and their quirks, is a must read if you’re looking for an easy, breezy story to entertain you on a hot summer’s day!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Goodreads.

Book Review: Demons in My Mind by Aashish Gupta

The reviews of Demons in My Mind had me intrigued for a long time and the blurb, even more so. The book stayed on my Amazon wish list for quite a while before the author, miraculously, approached me. And when I received the review copy from him in exchange for an honest review, I was absolutely ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to start reading it, though, of course, schedules.

Demons in My Mind is about three people: Rizwan, Murli, and Joseph. Each is going through their own problems in life. While Rizwan’s family is being threatened with dire consequences by a priest, Murli has problems with how the world sees him. Joseph on the other hand is finding it difficult to deal with loss. How these three conquer their minds and come together to become a famed fable forms the story.

Let me get started with what I didn’t like about the book because that will be over sooner.

Just after Joseph’s story ends, the narrative plunges into what feels like unnecessary descriptions, derailed linearity (which is explained later), and poetry. The poetry didn’t quite resonate with me and parts of the prose, which contained swearing (excessive in my opinion) by a couple of characters didn’t sit well with me, either. In these facets of the book, there is scope for improvisation.

That sums up what I didn’t like about the book. As to what I liked about Demons in My Mind, here is a list:

I liked the writing style of the prose. A lot many parts of the book have a consistency that is lacking in today’s stories. The author, Aashish Gupta, has done a wonderful job in putting his thoughts on paper clearly, something that I treasure in a story. And while at one point, it felt like the story took a complete nosedive, it redeemed itself in the end with its explanation. I went, ‘Oh, THAT’s why.’

Demons in My Mind is multiple shades of dark. It lives up to its title and if you’re expecting the story to be in just a lighter vein when compared to the title, I’d just say this: don’t. The story is graphically grating, and disturbing, but what it does in the end almost blows your mind. If you’re looking for a story with an adrenalin rush, even if it is disgusting, this is the one for you.

In addition to these, Demons in My Mind has a fast-paced narrative that is woven admirably with the emotions that it is portraying. With all its unexpected twists and turns, this debut novel from Aashish Gupta goes up a notch towards joining the ranks of those higher up in seniority.

Demons in My Mind shows in words, how it feels to be boxed in within one’s own mind. If you are someone who has experienced or is experiencing mental illness of any kind, you’ll probably identify with these parts of the book. When author himself suffers from anxiety and writes such a book as this, it is bound to touch the minds and hearts of the hordes of people who are struggling similarly.

All in all, Demons in My Mind is a stunning first time attempt, though there is, as I mentioned earlier in the post, scope for improvisation. While it is repulsive in some places because of what all the mind is capable of, it also brings a sense of identification in a lot of places. Liked the book a lot!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Goodreads.

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