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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Book Review: Beyond school by Chitra Anand

About The Book:

Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17-year-old Shail s final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure-cooker and the weight of preparing for the exams sends him fleeing rebelliously in the other direction. Along with Shail s journey from boyhood to manhood, Beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives of four main characters, seamlessly uniting the past and present of Shail, his parents-Urmila and Sushil and his mentor-Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, incredibly human.

About the Author:

Chitra Anand was born in Mumbai. She is a postgraduate in Physics and holds an Education degree. Beyond School is her first novel inspired by her journey as an educator.

My Review:
written in a lucid, and friendly narrative, the book seamlessly follows the story of Shail, a 17 year old, who is torn between his parents' expectations of him to perform well in Board exams and his own ambition to ace the soccer tournament.
Frog Books, an imprint of Lead Start Corp, Is churning great pieces. (Unconventional ones like The Devil's Gate). The writing is very real. And so is the plot. Very relevant. Very apt. Identifiable.
With just a little scope of improvement in editing, the plot and  story is ironically and undeniably tickling, heartbreaking at one time and so full of hope at another.
Above all it is so real, so bare and so open that one can almost dive into the book and look at things from Young adult's perspective.

Gladys' (mentor and teacher of the protagonist) character elicits a special, special mention. He character and its stort gives fodder for thought while simultaneously letting the plot seamlessly stretch, spanning two generations dealing with tgeur adolescence issues.  What Gladys is to Shail, her father was to her.
Her charcters probpem is quoted as "The girl worried: you needed to be nornal to exist peacefully in the school world-squint free eyes, twist less nose, correctly sized ears, unclipped lips, straight arms, stammer free speech, stupidity free brain ..."
Which makes us think, isnt this stuff we battle through our teenage. And then it strikes us dumb how real these stories are. Which is also the best part of the novel.

In the portrayal of Shail's skirmishes with his parents, advises lie with him for an untold gestation period and then at the least expected time, they come to fruitition.
His thoughts are an echo of this age of young-adult. When a teacher chides him calling him a terrorist,  he ponders why appreciation is never as intense as censure. And that such insults are too serious to get over, no panacea works for the wounded ego of the young-adult. No pacification, no compromise, no redemption.

More of such insights into the mind of people this age and more examples of how these are indeed our formative years, grab your copy. Although I doubt if this is temptation enough to buy a copy of ones own, but I would still have all school library shelves and all teachers and parents have a read.

Copies Available at all online stores:

1.    Flipkart:

2.    Amazon:  

Know More Inside Stories, Connect with The Author:
Twitter: @chtranand

Read the book? Write a review on Goodreads:

“This review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To get free books log on to

Spotlight: Beyond School by Chitra Anand

Title:  Beyond School
Author: Chitra Anand
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing  
Date: 2014
Price: Rs 124
Pages: 201
ISBN -10: 9383562404
ISBN-13: 978-9383562404

About The Book:

Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17-year-old Shail s final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure-cooker and the weight of preparing for the exams sends him fleeing rebelliously in the other direction. Along with Shail s journey from boyhood to manhood, Beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives of four main characters, seamlessly uniting the past and present of Shail, his parents-Urmila and Sushil and his mentor-Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, incredibly human.

About the Author:

Chitra Anand was born in Mumbai. She is a postgraduate in Physics and holds an Education degree. Beyond School is her first novel inspired by her journey as an educator.

Copies Available at all online stores:

1.    Flipkart:

2.    Amazon:  

Know More Inside Stories, Connect with The Author:
Twitter: @chtranand

Read the book? Write a review on Goodreads:

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Author Interview: RV Raman


Question: Congratulations on your first book. While it is not unusual for corporate insiders to pen down the novels, revealing the murky insides of the corporate world, what in particular, inspired you to write this novel?

Author: The corporate world is a fertile ground for stories – both inspirational and fictional. It has a fascinating interplay of every emotion one can think of, and every kind of conflict. Fiction, after all, is about emotive conflict. I saw an untapped potential for crime fiction there, and decided to give it a go.

Question:  Has it been your deliberate attempt to expose and uncover the vicious and dark side of the corporate India, what with the elements of scams, treachery, corruption and crime intertwined together in a plot that leaves the reader flabbergasted?

Author: Not at all. I set my novel in the corporate world simply because that is the world I know best.
Fraudster in entirely fiction, where I have taken great care to ensure that none of the characters or organisations reflect any real counterparts. I do not believe anything has been exposed or uncovered in the novel. None of the events in the book would be new to bankers, corporate executives or the finance profession.
Corporate India is no more vicious or dark than any other field of human endeavour – films, sports, politics, fine arts, the fourth estate – take your pick. But crime fiction, by its very nature, focuses on the dark side of humanity. 95% of the people in corporate India are good, honest folk who are busy making a living and building a better tomorrow for their children.

Question:  How handy has your experience in the sector been?
Author: Very handy. I do not believe Fraudster could have been written without experience in the sector. Take the presentation Sanjay & Subbu make to Visht, for instance. It is grounded in a bank’s credit appraisal and risk management processes. Similarly, the modus operandi of the real estate scam is based on reality. A retired Senior Vice President of a large corporate group was telling me last week that 10x, even 20x, overvaluation of real estate is not unheard of. Nor are fires that destroy factories.

Question: Should the readers expect more of crime fiction with settings in the corporate world from you?

Author: I would like to write more. The next one is set in the Indian stock market, and should be very relatable to the common reader – more people dabble in shares than in corporate finance.

Question: Have / would you write any other genre of books?

Author: I also write epic fantasy that is not related to Indian mythology. It is set 25 million years ago when the continents were adrift; before the Indian subcontinent rammed into Asia and raised the Himalayas. It is called the Shinmah Series written under the nom de plume of Kevan Dinn.

Question: Who is your favourite author and book?

Author: Can’t name just one. In crime fiction, I’d include all Sherlock Holmes and Poirot stories, And Then There Were None, The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, Sphere and Congo. In SFF, it’s Lord of the Rings and Asimov’s entire Robot/Foundation Series. And in humour, it’s almost any Wodehouse (I am partial to Blandings Castle novels).

7. What are the most motivational/inspiring lines for you?

Author: Hmm … I wish I knew.

“This interview is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To get free books log on to

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Spotlight: Fraudster by RV Raman

Title:  Fraudster

Author: R V Raman

Category: Fiction

 Publisher: Hachette

Date: 2014

Price: Rs. 250

Pages: 272

ISBN: 9350098008

Fraudster : The Story of Corporate India’s Black Sheep:
Fraudster is a suspense thriller from R. V. Raman set in the world of corporate finance.

Summary of the Book
Some people will do anything to silence anyone they think are obstacles. They won’t stop at anything, not even murder. In this thrilling novel, a young banker deposes before a commission investigating large-scale financial fraud. She is found dead the very next day. Meanwhile, a leader of corporate India falls to his death from his South Bombay flat. In a multinational accounting firm, the high-security server room is hacked. The hackers want more than just company secrets. Illegal finance, high-profile crimes and brutal manipulation combine in this tale of greed, treachery and corruption amidst corporate India’s worst members.

About R. V. Raman
R. V. Raman is an Indian writer and the former head of KPMG's Consulting Practice and the co-head of their Risk Advisory Services. He was also partnered with A.T. Kearney and Arthur Andersen, and boasts an experience of over three decades and covering four continents. Currently a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Management, Trichy, he teaches Business Strategy. He is based in Chennai and this is his first book.

Copies Available at all online stores:
1.      Flipkart: 

2.      Amazon:  

3.      Infibeam: 

Know More Inside Stories, Connect with The Author:
Twitter: @RvRaman_

Read the book? Write a review on Goodreads:

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I met Dan Brown and... ASDFGHJKL

Well, when I registered for the Penguin Lecture, and received my passes with much toil, I realized that when it comes to the following for Dan Brown, I have a lot of competition. But, what I failed to imagine was that there would be serpentine queues outside the venue, and people must have queued hours before the seating was to begin. Not to mention, the length of the queues was such that they went all the way to the dark shadows cast by the trees beyond the Asian Games Village complex. So many registrations had been cancelled, I should have surmised that the turnout would be overwhelming. Because when Dan Brown entered and was welcomed with a deafening applause, he seemed overwhelmed with surprised elation over the cheers and the standing ovation, perhaps, he was flattered by the magnitude of stardom his works have acquired for readers in India.

Brown who told the enthusiastic audience, some 1000-odd readers of all ages, that he visited India first when he was 19, and felt like he had come home.
I am still in trance of having seen the author and having heard him live, just a few hours before, so I will just highlight the best parts of those 70 minutes spent at Siri Fort auditorium. The lecture was titles 'Codes, Science and religion'

1. His stardom surpassed that of Amitabh Bachhan, a fact that the moderator for the event, Rajdeep Sardesai, himself a Penguin Author, stated matter-of-factly. Yet, he arrived well in time, and it was sharp 7 when he began. So much punctuality, it just had my friend in tears. With girls swooning over him as he arrived at the venue, one could have taken him for an actor. His words: Wow. Thank you. what a nice welcome. Terrific welcome. I am thrilled to be here.

2. His hilarity: Personally, I thought he would be a serious personality, but then I guess, Brown never ceases to surprise his fans. Joking about how the battle between science and religion is the definiton of his life: with a mother who was a church organist and a father who was a mathematics teacher. And the fact that sunday church service were as much a part of his childhood as were his fathers calculation over the best pizza deal at the pizza parlor.

3. He brought the number plates of his parents' cars that reflect their personalities, and his first book, that had a print run of one copy and was called ‘The Giraffe, The Pig and the Pants on fire' all the way across the ocean.

4. He even made fun of the fact that people find it upsetting when he asks the most obvious questions about God, telling the intrigued audience how he is assumed to be wreaking vengeance on God for not answering some childhood prayers. He expressed his confusion over reconciling the difference between science and religion.

5. All religions teach us the same thing: Kindness is better than cruelty, Creation is better than destruction and
Love is better than Hate

6. He was inspired by Hardy Boys to write.

7. He implores us to read the scriptures as metaphors, fables and myths so that we can draw our own lessons.

8. Pen is mightier than the sword. I believe it is. Because the thing about pen is that one pen can reach millions and millions of people. But with a sword, you have to work pretty hard to reach a million people.

Did I tell you he had to be encircled by bouncers from preventing him being attacked by crazy fans?

Check out why I love Angels and Demons here.

Book Review: Whole in the Clouds


Hidden in the pages of Whole in the Clouds you will find the ticket to a fantastical new world, complete with trees that sprout children, shy unicorns, elves who move at dizzying speeds, inchworms who wear spectacles and a pudgy little girl who is magically transformed into an ethereal beauty.

An unhappy orphan, Cora Catlin is a misfit at best, an outcast at worst. She feels out of place in her life, as if everything is backwards and part of her is missing. But her long, tormented hours in hum-drum Harborville take a decided turn upwards when she encounters an elfin stranger who tells of a mystical world that awaits her atop the clouds. As Cora travels to her new home by way of a magical elevator to the heavens, she finds herself and her companion physically transformed. As if an entirely new body wasn’t enough to get used to, royal parentage, talking pegasus’, a raging war and an alluring love interest who just happens to be the son of her father’s greatest enemy await Cora as well. Exploring this new land alongside her devoted dog Motley, Cora will unearth wonders and secrets beyond her wildest imaginings. She will discover the meaning of true friendship, love and what it means to finally feel whole—Whole in the Clouds.



Kristine Kibbee is a Pacific Northwest native with a love of language, nature, and animals. Kristine’s passion for creative writing began in her early youth and led her to Washington State University, where she earned a degree with a concentration in professional writing. Kristine has since had works published in The Vancougar, The Salal Review, S/tick Literary Review, and she is a featured columnist in the nationally syndicated magazine, Just Frenchies.

From the small town of Castle Rock, Washington, nestled among 22 acres of towering fir trees, Kristine relishes time spent outdoors with her two French bulldogs and one husband. She dreams of making the everyday world more magical with her fantasy novels.

Whole in the Clouds is her first middle grade novel

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My Review:

Without any circumlocution, I will get straight to the point of review. As a young adult, this book let me relive my childhood fantasies: replete with all elements of magic and fantasy. Infact at a point I anticipated a feature of unicorns and Will-o'-the-wisp, well, I am kidding. Right there, I knew I am loving the novel, it was such a great escape.
For the first two chapters I thought I might just be reading another drag story of how a misfit teen battles with bullying and retreats into self-contemplation. But the turn that the story took was a welcome change.

Clouden, of all things, deserves a special mention. The place is a fragment of my childhood imagination, and reading the story gave me an inexplicable pleasure. A tickling tinge.

but when all is said and done, (and read) I believe that the plot somehow lacks the dramatic panache that such a novel demands. So, for instance, when Cora Catlin leaves home, a letter as a farewell seems highly inadequate. Similarly, she accepts everything very easily. Not that she is naive or credulous, but in a way that this is what she expected. Frankly, that bogged down even my enthusiasm regarding the plot. Which makes me question: if this book is not for adults, is it entirely for kids? I still doubt that too.

Also, I have scratched my brain a lot, but couldn't fit in the title convincingly with the book.
Still, I'd say that the book's best part is the descriptio of Clouden, and oh! what would I not give to live in those magical places again?

Disclaimer: Thanks to Goodreads and Amazon for the book cover, about the book, and author information.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Book Review: Fraudster By RV Raman

About the book:

There are people who will do anything to silence the ones who come in their way, those who will stop at nothing, including murder. 

A young banker is found dead a day after she deposes before a commission investigating large-scale financial fraud... 
A doyen of corporate India falls to his death from his south Bombay flat... 
A high-security server room of a multinational accounting firm is hacked and the hackers aren't looking for just company secrets... 

Illicit finance, high-stakes crime and vicious manipulation come together in this story of corruption, greed and treachery among corporate India's black sheep. Arresting, fast-paced and written by an insider from the corporate world, Fraudster will keep you on your toes till the very end.

Paperback available in bookstores across India. Flipkart | Amazon |Infibeam
eBook available globally. Kindle | Kobo | Google Play | Nook 

About the author:

Over a career spanning three decades and four continents, RV Raman advised several banks, financial institutions and corporates on various matters. He has now turned to writing fiction set in corporate India, based on his insights and observations.

Having moved away from full-time roles, he now teaches business strategy at an IIM, mentors young entrepreneurs, advises select clients and writes.

Tired of extensive physical travel around the world, he now prefers less punishing mental excursions into fictional worlds of his own creation. He lives in Chennai. His complete profile is available here.

Fraudster is his first corporate thriller, and is available in most book stores including Flipkart &Amazon.

RV Raman on Facebook

My review:

What I am sure about in this novel is the fact that it keeps you glued till the end. To say that it has mind-blowing twists and turns in the plots, seems an understatement. One murder after another, one attack after another, and the writer has craftily kept us guessing till the end who the culprit is. 

No doubt that the author's experience in the corporate world comes in handy when he writes the story, revealing and disclosing such malpractices which the reader is taken aback with. 
When I started reading it, I had initially thought that the book will at best, be predictable. As luck would have it, it was everything but. 
That the setting in time is contemporary makes the reader even more intrigued: all the threats faced in IT operation, the perpetration of scams - everything is real to a fault.
I might need to dig lexicons to find a word more effective than 'thrilling' to describe the book. The plot twists outdo themselves every single time.
How all characters fall in place and raise suspicions with their activities was the best part of the book. However, one cannot deny that the end appears a bit too hushed, with little happening compared to the racy pace it had earlier. I was also a little disappointed in the way the culprit was finally revealed, it somehow lacked the dramatic flair that was otherwise characteristically remarkable throughout the novel. The end is, in no way, disappointing, but it does not match the grandeur of the rest of the novel.

My Judgement:
Better than even some of the bestsellers on the block, this one deserves to be picked.

"This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To get free books log on"

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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

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