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Sunday 25 January 2015

Author Spotlight and Interview: Shikha Kumar

The author joins us for an interview. Here we go!
To check our review of her debut book, read this.

1. Congratulations on getting published. When did you decide that you'd pen down a book?

SK: Well, honestly I decided to write because I believed I had stories to tell. Writing for some reason came natural to me despite of having any formal training or education in Literature. But then not just me, there many such aberrations in publishing world. So one fine day, dream shaped up into determination and rest what followed was course of action.

2. How did you manage to get time out from your professional demands to engage in the solitary pursuit of writing?

SK: We all have an alter-ego which we at times even keep away from the world with fear of being mocked up. But I decided to embark an journey in unknown terrain with just one funda “I have nothing to lose”. Time management was certainly a challenge, but when the self-drive is so insanely lethal I think even odds starts working in your favor.

3. The novel is an easy read, yet with twists and turns, ending predictably as all love stories go. Was writing this genre your desire?

SK: Well, happy ending could be predictable but how they reached there is the USP of the story. Easy read was intentional as I wanted my story to reach all age-groups. I didn’t write to flaunt my vocabulary, I get enough opportunity at work. Yes, writing Romance was my absolute choice because unfortunately despite being most crowded Indian genre it has nothing new to offer. I feel very satisfied when I’m congratulated for my strong story and true-to-life characters.

4. Is any character inspired from real life, Kunal and Shreya are so real, we cannot help but believe that they have indeed been an alteration of some real persons!

SK: Let me put it this way, they are absolutely fictitious but they have a traits familiar to each one of us. The anguish, stubbornness, co-exists in us with unshakable belief in love and unceasing desire to work towards happy-ending.

5. You have been immensely involved in the promotion of your book on social media platforms too. What do think defines a book's success today?

SK: I very strongly believe that marketing plays a very crucial role in not only success of the books but also in author's identity amongst readers and inside publishing world. I patiently waited a month to hear early reviews; it was when I heard encouraging response of my book I thought my horse is a safe-bet. Then it was no looking back and I’m leaving no stone unturned to reach readers. Rest every book does take it due time. I can only do my best, which I will better than best of capabilities.

Author website:

Book links:

Thursday 22 January 2015

Book Review: He fixed the match, she fixed him by Shikha

About the book

Shreya – I'm a highly qualified Delhi girl earning an enviable salary. My parents are having a tough time finding a suitable groom for me. However, recently they have a proposal from this very interesting guy from Mumbai. I almost get mesmerized when he starts talking to me. I think I like him very much. Kunal – I'm owner of a textile company in Mumbai. My Mom wants me to get married. Again. She has recently suggested a suitable girl from Delhi. What my Mom doesn't know is that I've met Shreya before once in my life and I've been looking for her ever since. I have a vendetta to settle. The author takes you along on a journey via roads of revenge, agony, remorse, attraction, titillation, tantalization and romance. Do Shreya and Kunal make it, or do they fall prey to their past?
Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: Vitasta Publishing Pvt.Ltd; 1St Edition edition (1 November 2014)
Language: English

About the author:

Shikha Kumar has a B-Tech degree in Computer Science from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Delhi. Professionally she’s as a Manager with Tata Consultancy Services. She has travelled to, and worked in different countries. She enjoys travelling, reading, writing and watching movies. This is her first attempt to present her writing abilities to the world.
 Home Town - Delhi, India

Official author website: 

My review:

I will begin with the best thing about this book: despite being a complete love story, this is a fresh plot, unlike the stale, overused plots of hatred-turns-into-love sequence of events. While this may come as a surprise considering the plot lays down this story only, the difference lies in the fact that here both the protagonists had a legitimate reason for hating each other to death. The author uses the element of surprise very well. Until the plot twisted into the love-hate story that it is, I couldn't even imagine that the simple plot will metamorphose into something so wicked, crooked and full of revenge. I liked the characters too! They were throughout just as they had been described initially.

I had feared that the vendetta settlement might get ugly, thankfully it didn't. The author has kept it a light-read, and Here i would mention how the Indian scene would benefit from such god quality chic-lit.
Having read the whole boo, I now find humour in the opening line: It's advisable to be careful about what you wish for; a cold breeze could be tornado approaching.
The cover and the title are so full of flavor and mischief, I adore these.
More on the characters: etched very carefully, they are diverse personalities with a past. the story proceeds over how their pasts intersected and landed them to the present. Both of them are broken, possessed by revenge in varying degrees, and professionally sound. Marriage seems to be the only thing offering them some solace, to mend their broken souls. Real life, as it turns out is different. the marriage that was supposed to be a panacea becomes the latest challenge in their lives. I especially loved those scenes and sequences where the families and parents were involved. For a refreshing change, the parents were not intrusive in a way that hampers or negates the love, rather propelled it.
Obviously, it had a cliched ending, but then, don't all love stories do?

Only one thing I found awkward was the forceful mention of one of the brands, time and again. While I am all for sponsorship and marketing, I am still to rethink on my idea of promoting brands for the sake of promoting them in a book! While this was done seamlessly in two cases, one of them was very misplaced.

My Judgement:

A fun, light-read, with all the idiosyncrasies of the Indian society, and love at its best, this is worth a read.

Author website:

Book links:

All images and information sourced from goodreads and/or author website

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Book Review: The Poetry of a common Indian Female By Virendra Narayan Desai

About the book

Whether a manager of a multinational bank or a lady security guard outside the ladies changing room in any shopping mall- A common Indian woman (in that case, any nationality!) fights all the circumstances with head on attitude! They can go to any limit for looking after their children and family. Fate only gives them one option- FIGHT! They fought, fought hard and finally conquered the destiny. Why? - Well, some of them, just to feed their children, and some of them to defy the barriers that were put upon them. As they say - Winners have scars! All the ladies in this book are winners and they do have scars! Want to know, how did they get it? and still came out victorious with a bright and a dazzling smile? Welcome to 'The Poetry of a Common Indian Female'. Come along and witness these truly spectacular, motivational stories of Common Indian Females, which would warm your heart. Witness these women as they fight; and re-live their stories! 

About the Author:
Virendra Narayan Desai is an Indian author. Born in Mumbai, India, Virendra obtained his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science & Engineering from the Shivaji University, Kolhapur. He is equally interested in, both from the smallest of atoms to the biggest of stars. This is his first book and plans to write many more (in short, always!)

He is currently based in Mumbai and is working on his second novel.
Author Website- 

My review:

The book is a very different approach to narration of stories. While we read the success stories of famous people, we feel a trickle of inspiration. But this book is a one of its kind, for it tells the stories which inspire to the core. They are common women like the readers, and what has set them apart from others is the fact that they have been warriors.
No wonder three cheers go for the intention and motivation behind the writing of this book.

However, the book is not a package. Somehow it lacks the expression to elicit the kind of response and empathy and praise that such a work should. The narration does appreciate the struggles of the women mentioned in each chapter, but it doesn't appeal at once. Somewhere the usage of words and expression phrases go awry. Some stories looked more awe-inspiring than others, which should not have been the case. 
I especially liked how the narrator built a rapport with some ladies in the book. But there was still scope for improvement as far as reading pleasure and bibliophilic utility was concerned.

My Judgement:

Not the best literary piece, but certainly the best humanitarian piece out there. A one time read.

Book Links:

All images and information sourced from goodreads.

Monday 19 January 2015

Book Review: The Mouse Charmers by Anuradha Goyal

About the book:

The advent of Internet has been a significant game changer for our generation. Mouse Charmers are a new breed of entrepreneurs in emerging India powered by the Internet and the opportunities that it offers to create new markets and to cater to old markets in new ways. Some of them have already achieved success where they can be called iconic and inspiring while others have powerful ideas that put them on the same path. Anuradha Goyal tells the stories of digital entrepreneurs like Flipkart, Zomato, ImagesBazaar, IndiBlogger how they started out, the innovations and technologies involved, their business models and unique marketing strategies. Inspiring and useful, The Mouse Charmers is an essential guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Publisher Random House India
ISBN-10 8184004923
Imprint Random Business
Number of Pages 344 Pages
Publication Year 2014 April
Language English
ISBN-13 9788184004922

Binding Paperback

About the Author:

Anuradha Goyal wears many hats to pursue her three prime passions - innovation, travel and books. She studies business innovation, especially business models and blogs about them. She has earlier co-authored the India Innovates Series published by CII showcasing innovations from across the country. She was a jury member for Economic Times Power of Ideas Contest in 2010. Her papers on business innovation have appeared in various journals and forums. She is one of Indias leading travel bloggers, writing a popular travel blog for a decade now. Her travel story has been published as part of an anthology Celebrating India and her paper on in-city travel appeared in travel journal Earth. Her stories regularly appear in various print and online publications. She has close to 400 book reviews to her credit on her book reviews blog. She is a keen student of Indian art history. She regularly speaks on these topics at various conferences and institutes.In her earlier avatar she worked in the IT industry for over a decade. She studied computer applications for her masters degree and physics for her graduate degree at Panjab University.

Connect with the author:

Website :

My Review:

This book is so much worth every penny spent on it. In a world where we all are netizens more than we are anything else, this book comes as the essential survival guide. 

The book profiles the first generation entrepreneurs and their start-ups most of which have now been in the digital space for over a decade, although their relevance (and that of this book) is now more than ever, at a time when e-commerce seems to have finally arrived.
The book is complete in itself: It starts with an introduction to the evolving digital scenario. The author brings to fore how we have evolved from being skeptical of buying even generic products to buying clothes and accessories which are not even standardized. 
It also encompasses how creative professions have opened up to limitless opportunities owing to the international exposure and ad-revenue models of websites.
Why it is important for everyone, businessperson or not, to read this book is because this is what the future looks like, and the book traces how all opportunities and breakthroughs of the future will source and emanate from these digital pioneers. 
As a result, we have never-heard-of struggles and facts about flipkart, Zomato,, imagesbazaar, Indiblogger , among many other digital success stories. 
The author has been really careful in the selection of the companies. While discussing about content-driven portals, she has chosen Zomato, Games2win, ImagesBazaar and Chai with Lakshmi. These are diverse and representative of all business models in a way that they are all-encompassing. Zomato is at the zenith of all content aggregator portals, and who are we kidding, it has become a favourite go-to portal for the urbane, metropolitan population. 
The book is replete with case studies and through research which makes it the most insightful piece of Indian contemporary non-fiction I have read.
While it may seem that it caters to the entrepreneurial-minded, this is not the case. It, in fact caters as much to the layman as to the specialist.
Here's hoping we have many more volumes to the series and a flourishing digital future ahead.
My Judgement:
Online portals acquire a life of their own in this informative book, You'd regret not knowing what the author has to share!

Book Links:

Sunday 18 January 2015

Author Spotlight and interview: Priya Narayanan

Priya has two published children’s books to her credit. Her first book for 5-8 year olds titled ‘The 
Moon wants to be Spotless White’ was released in May 2013 by Leadstart Publishing and has 
been received well by readers and reviewers alike. Her second book, ‘When Grandma Climbed 
the Magic Ladder’ was recently released in the e-book format, with the paperback expected to 
release later this year. Priya is currently working on a couple of ideas for picture books as well 
as a book for tweens.
(Our review here.)
Author website:

Today she joins us for an interview. Read on, and you are sure to find her poetic. personally, I love the stance she takes on different things, and well, we love children's authors because they bring words to life at an age when we need them the most!

Here we go!


Ques: What incited you into authoring a children's book?

PN: Well, I’m basically a poet at heart and writing poetry is an impulsive and ongoing thing for me. 
And then, I also write short stories when I find something interesting to write about. So when I 
became a mother, I instinctively started conjuring a variety of stories for my kids – stories that 
were rooted in the cultural and geographical context of our country, but just as fantastic as 
your Enid Blytons or Hans Christian Andersons. 
The thing is, even though writing for Indian children has picked up in the last decade with a 
number of dedicated publishers doing a wonderful job, the first books that jump out at you at 
any bookstore are Western publications. You’ll find a Ruskin Bond or Sudha Murthy or Anushka 
Ravishankar book nestled comfortably in the rear racks, while the front row is stacked with 
Barbie, Dora, Geronimo Stilton and the Wimpy Kid. And while I’m not against them at all, I feel 
that children here could do with more stories that they can identify with, stories that have 
Indian protagonists doing some fantastic or even crazy stuff! 

So, coming back to your question, the thought of contributing in a small way to the pool of fun-
filled but meaningful stories with an Indian context was what egged me to write for children. 
And to be sure, I found it a whole new ball game! It was exciting to step into the mind space of 
little children and start to think like them.

Ques: The story is very subtle and simple with minimal characters, endearing ones at that. How did you go about the plot etching and character-sketching?

PN: When writing for children of the 5-8 year age group, it is important to keep the plot simple and 
characters to a minimum so that the readers don’t get confused. At the same time, the characters should be strong enough to leave a lasting impression. When I first had my story idea, I was clear about two things. One, that the story would be set in small-town India, because there is an irresistible charm associated with a quaint little town flanked by a river on one side and hills on the other that I hoped to reveal to my urban readers and two, the protagonist would be a girl, because – why not? After that, things kind of just flowed. I spent a lot of time getting the ‘voice’ of the characters right, specially the Moon’s. I wanted him to be the one to add the necessary humour to the story, while Dhobi kaka would add the mature bit. As for Mitu, I wanted my readers to identify with her; so I kept her as real as possible in her moments of wonder, dilemma, gaiety, fright and other emotional ups and downs as she encounters various twists in her adventure. 

Ques: Moon has long been a subject of children's fondness with its  being called the chanda mama, yet it hardly found a place as a character. Your book brings a different side of Moon, and features it as the protagonist. What is your take on this?

PN: That’s true. Even in the best of children’s books, the moon is just the moon. Children’s books 
are filled with animals, trees, toys, vehicles and even maps and backpacks that talk! But never the Moon, even though it’s the one thing that all children are enamoured by in the night sky. However, that never was the case with me. Growing up, I’ve imagined the moon to be so many things – a giant idly, secret door to a parallel universe, a giant’s mouth and what not. So when I was discussing the Moon with my five year old in that vein, I thought -what could be more exciting than having the Moon talk to you? 
And I continue to push the limits of my imagination even now. For instance, in my second book – When Grandma Climbed the Magic Ladder, I’ve come up with a completely different explanation to what the dark spots on the moon are . . .it’s really fun to see things in a different light. Finally, truth be told, I do have a special corner for the Moon in my heart –and he somehow finds himself in every story I write, be it for children or adults!

Ques: Inculcating the habit of reading among children in this age of reliance on devices that have invaded even childhood, your views, observations and endeavour?

PN: Well, there are two sides to your question. The first is inculcating the habit of reading, for which 
I feel we shouldn't restrict the medium –be it an e-book or printed book. This is because the moment you put that kind of restriction, a child will stop reading! So as far as children are ‘reading’ a book and not ‘watching’ an animated version of the book, I think e-books are just fine. And they offer variety for children who get bored too soon, allowing them to switch between the digital and print books. 
To answer the second part about the invasion of devices in our lives, frankly, I don’t think that 
can be stopped now. Technology is a double-edged sword, and it is up to parents to regulate 
how much their children use these devices. As for me, I believe everything in moderation is just 
fine. That said, there is a certain charm to print books that can be touched, smelt and toyed 
around with, that an e-book does not offer. Picture books come in various materials – cloth, 
plastic, paper, hard board- and with a play of textures, smells and sounds . . . infants and 
toddlers cannot get these important experiences through e-books. 

So parents should aim to use digital media as tools to complement print books rather than use them in isolation, and help children value and love print books rather than be wary of them. In my opinion, e-books should ideally be introduced when a child is already reading chapter books. That way, since they’re at an age when they can appreciate the pros and cons of things, they can decide for themselves the medium that best suits their sensibilities.

Get to know more here:

Saturday 17 January 2015

Book Review: The Moon Wants to be Spotless White By Priya Narayanan

About the book

The vain Moon is devastated when he finds out about the dirt patch on his otherwise pristine white self. He wants to be scrubbed and cleaned by Dhobi Kaka to regain his spotless beauty. The Moon cunningly manipulates Mitu into helping him out in this mission.

But how will Mitu get the moon down to be cleaned?
Will kaka be able to restore the moon’s spotless beauty?
Will Mitu be turned into an owl for not keeping her promise?

Join in the fun-filled adventure of the Moon, Mitu and Dhobi Kaka, as the trio set out on their mission to help the Moon become spotless
Paperback, 46 pages
Published May 24th 2013 by Leadstart Publishing

About the author:

PRIYA NARAYANAN is an avid traveler, voracious reader, passionate designer, and doting mother of two. Clearly, she loves her adjectives! While as a child, she loved to dream, she now has to make do with daydreaming over many cups of coffee and chocolate chip ice cream. She believes that there are stories lurking around every corner, waiting to be captured and revealed to the world and she hopes to be doing just that year after year after year.

My Review:

First thing of all, I fell in love with the premise of the book: how the moon is vain and superficial, and he wants his beauty to be restored. He asks Mitu for help who, with the help of the Dhobi Kaka, grants his wish. But is a wish getting fulfilled just as delightful as the expectation of it?

This is what a quintessential childrens' book should be. A moral lesson hidden in a simple story which the kids will realize when they grow up, has a symbolic significance that cannot be overlooked. And yet, it makes sense even when you read in the innocence of childhood.

Kids will definitely find the character of Dhobi Kaka endearing, and rightly so, because this character has an old-worldly(no pun intended) charm to it, true to the format of childrens' stories we have been reading till date.

Some dimensions I deem befitting for a mention in the review. One, it emphasizes on the acceptance of imperfections, and flawlessly so. While we must not stop working on ourselves to become a better person, at the same time it is not possible for us to have it all. Striving for perfection is a good thing only as long as it doesnt interfere with out fundamental character.
The book secures brownie points from me for touching on the subject of exterior beauty. Pulchritude is not the be-all and end-all of it all. And this is a lesson kids need to learn as soon as possible in their lives.
Also, going through life, being with loved ones, fighting for your ideals leaves scars on you. We are not our skin. These scars are something to be proud of, not something to be shunned. I cannot thank the author enough for writing so beautifully about these things.

Coming over to the graphics, the accompanying images were so relevant and so accurately done, I reveled in the joy of being a kid back again.

My Judgement:

Brought back the unalloyed innocence of childhood and the lessons I always wished I learnt sooner in my life. Believing plays a great role in the plot, and hence this is a great book for kids!

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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

Kritika Narula's favorite books »


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