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Book: Ramayana, The Game of Life – Shattered Dreams

Ramayana, The Game of Life – Shattered Dreams by Shubh Vilas
Ramayana, The Game of Life – Shattered Dreams by Shubh Vilas

Recently I got hold of the book ‘Ramayana, The Game of Life – Shattered Dreams’ by Shubh Vilas. ‘Shattered Dreams’ is the second book in the ‘Ramayana The Game of Life’ series, after ‘Rise of the Sun Prince’. The epic Ramayana never seizes to amaze me every time I read, listen to the stories or watch it in a video format. Different styles of narrating the stories, from different point of views, the sub-plots and sub stories – I can reread, listen again or watch it again any number of times. So with that curiosity of finding something new, I decided to read ‘Shattered Dreams’ even though I had not read the first part.

‘Shattered Dreams’, the title of the book gives a bit of hint of the part of Ramayana covered in this book. Shattering everyone’s dreams except two (Manthara and Kaikeyi) in Ayodhya, the book is an emotional journey. The book starts with Dasharatha deciding to crown his eldest son Rama as the next king as he feels unfit to rule the kingdom because of his old-age. The first chapter describes about Dasharatha’s announcement of coronation of Rama and eventual celebrations and preparations. The second chapter deviates from the happening place of Ayodhya to Ravana, talking about his growth in terms of power and defeating the kings wide & far. The next subsequent chapters come back to Ayodhya where the world turns upside down. With Manthara’s evil plan succeeding, emotions change from happy & fun to dark & sad. This second book concludes with Rama going deep into Dandakaranya along with Seeta and Lakshmana, after turning away Bharata and rest of the family to reconsider his decision of exile.

Shattered Dreams is not like a regular novel which can be finished in one go. As the story progresses, there are many sub-stories with hidden messages in them. Plus the footnotes gives a detailed explanation on different life lessons which we can incorporate on our daily life. Shubha Vilas has done a commendable job in terms of this gem of an information.

Do I recommend this book to others? It depends on who the reader is. If you are someone who is reading Ramayana for the first time or would like to read it as regular novel in one go, then I don’t recommend this book for you. You will feel the narration a bit slow and stretched, with lots of details in each and every scene. But if you have read or know Ramayana and would like to take away something new and/or want to practice it, this book is for you. Treat this book as a daily dose of medication, take in bit by bit and enjoy the tidbits.

As per the Indian mythology, do you know how the peacock got those colourful feathers? From whom & why? Read the book to get to know about it. :)

Note: This review is a part of the Book Review Program by BlogAdda.

Interested in reading my take on few more books? Click here to read them.

Book: Salvation of a Saint

Book: The Krishna Key
Title: Salvation of a Saint
Author: Keigo Higashino
Pages: 372

I have read/watched quite a few thrillers and murder mysteries. And almost all of them revolves around ‘whodunnit’, but ‘Salvation of a Saint’ comes with a different plot searching for how and why the murder happened. When I read the excerpt of the book ‘Salvation of a Saint’, the blurb made it clear that who committed the murder. By clearly declaring the murderer (though not directly) by end of first chapter, it a quite a challenge to keep the reader glued to the book for the rest of the 370 pages.

Salvation of a Saint is mystery book by the author Keigo Higashino who is a well known mystery writer in Japan. Orginal book is in Japanese titled ‘Seijo no Kyusai‘ and translated to English by Alexander O. Smith. The story starts with the death of Yoshitaka Mashiba, and revolves around his wife Ayane, Detective Kusanagi who is smitten by Ayane even though she is the prime suspect, Detective Utsumi, the young energetic female detective and physics professor Manabu Yukawa (Detective Galileo, as he is referred by the folks at the police department). With Ayane the prime suspect having an ironclad alibi,the police are left with no other clues and staring at a blank wall.

The story unwinds with clues coming out of the closet one by one, but only to hit a road block after while. Take one step forward, then two steps back – that’s how the story revolves. The tussle between Detective Kusanagi who is falling for Ayane and his junior partner Detective Utsumi makes an interesting read with both of them trying to enforce their way of investigation – with Kusanagi not willing accept Ayane as a suspect and Utsumi in a totally opposite direction with her valid logical points. Being watching/reading mysteries and thrillers recently, I tried my part of deducing the mystery, but managed only a part of it and the main part of why and how was beyond my thinking.

The book comes out with a lot of expectations set by Higashino’s previous book ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’. Looking at the comments from readers who have read ‘Salvation of a Saint’ after reading ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’, the ‘Salvation…’ doesn’t live up to the expectations – the high level of expectations the previous book set. Though ‘Salvation of a Saint’ is an interesting book plenty of twists and turns hidden every other corner, I would suggest reading ‘Salvation…’ first and then pick up ‘Devotion…’ if you do not want to be disappointed. And along with Higashino, credit should be given to Alexander Smith as well for his wonderful work of translation. Never once I got a feeling that I was reading a translated work.

Do you like mystery? Go get a copy.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Book: The Krishna Key

Book: The Krishna Key
Title: The Krishna Key
Author: Ashwin Sanghi
Pages: 464

“The Krishna key” is a thriller (or should I say mythological thriller?) Ashwin Sanghi’s third book. After writing two books ‘The Rozabel Line (a theological thriller) and ‘Chanakya’s Chant’ (a political thriller), the third one digs into Hindu mythology taking us back to the times of Mahabharatha. The book is about a race between two groups/teams (the good and the evil) who want to get to that one prized possession left behind Lord Krishna. The race goes on in a very quick pace trying to bridge the gap between the current day and the times of Krishna five thousand years ago.

Being someone who has intersts in Hindu mythology and plus it had been a long time I had read a thriller, I got ‘The Krishna Key’ at the right time. The book starts off with a cold blooded murder. This results in a series of chain reactions starting with the arrest of one of the protagonist Ravi Mohan Saini. With the help of the small clue Saini got from his friend, he sets off ti uncover the truth. Travelling around to the historical places from drowned city of Dwaraka, Somnathpur, Kurukshetra, Mount Kailas and many more places, searching something which was left behind Lord Krishna. One should really appreciate Ashwin Sanghi for his background work that he has done before writing this book. (The references & acknowledgements section which is 11 pages long is evident to that). Few things which I like about the book were how Ashwin Sanghi goes on to describe simple things with the help of mathematics. He also goes on saying that Mohammad Gazni is infact a descendant of Krisha. But while reading this book through out I was reminded of Dan Brown’s work, probably because the way the story was plotted?

Like a book has its set of positive points, it also come with quite a few of negative ones –

  • I was surprised that ‘Karna’ was spelt as ‘Karana’ through out the book. I thought he is pronounced/written that way in Hindi speaking reagion. But Google and also discussions with couple of Hindi speaking friends I was told that it’s not!
  • Too many protagonists, or should I say almost all of them?
  • There was no crypticness in the clue sent to Saini from Varshney. I was able to decipher the message with in 2 minutes (not the complete answer, but the message), where as the lead characters took so much time!
  • Very less conversations. They were more of monologues, where in you get a three page long answer for a just one line question.
  • Everyone is know or interested/excited about history. Even the police who are supposed to arrest and take Saini back to the station forget their work and starts listening to the story told by him.
  • Too much of details. For example, Radhika’s chanting of ‘Hari’. I felt that could have been avoided or used not so frequently.

If you ask for my opinion, I would say go read the book if you are interested in Hindu mythology. Or else leave the book for now and wait for someone to make a movie out of this book with slight changes to the screenplay.

PS: This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.

Book: In the Hot Unconscious

In the Hot Unconscious
Title: In the Hot Unconscious
Author: Charles Foster
Publishers: Tranquebar
Pages: 215

There are books that get you hooked before you finish first couple of pages. And there are others that don’t, but changes the first impression gradually if you keep reading. I place this book ‘In the Hot Unconscious’ by Charles Foster in the second category. I was reluctant to continue reading the book even before reaching first page – right at the paragraph where Charles Foster mentions this book as a religious book! (personally I keep away from this genre of books). But I wanted to continue for two  particular reasons, one to get back to my reading routine and second, a more important one – I wanted to read about India from the eyes of a foreigner. Glad I did not put down the book. Along his journey across India, Charles Foster takes the readers along with him as he narrates his experiences and perceptions about India.

When it comes to penning down the thoughts and travels, Charles Foster has his own league. With a different style of writing and interesting choice of words, it took me some time to get adjusted to his writing. Here is an example describing an evening – ‘Up by the rock, in the evening, big furry bees like whirring mice with knittting-needle probosces, dipped into the flowers in the unbrowsed places’. With these words Foster effortlessly takes the reader like riding a wave from red lanes of Kodangallur to a tea shop along Nepal border to southern tip Kanyakumari. There were quite a few times where I couldn’t stop myself to go back and read those sentances again & again. There were also few times where I had to dig into dictionary. Along with the choice of words what caught interested me more in the book was the conversations, be it with Jagjit, the cheese loathing Sikh at Nainital or Kamalesh at the Nepal border. Each conversation more intriguing, confusing and contemplating than the previous ones (barring couple of cliched ones).

Charles Foster’s epilogue comes back to where the journey started, to Kodangallur, a small town in Thrissur district of Kerala. Through out the book, I was in a constant level of confusion probably because the author doesn’t come to any conclusions as if leaving that part to the readers. There were few moments where I was lost in time and couldn’t relate to the timeline of the author’s story. Just as Foster mentions in the preface, ‘This is a tale of my own confusion. The plot is simple enough. I went to India, and then came back. It is also an attempt to see whether or not confusion matters’ – there was no attempt to tackle the confusion.

If you ask for my opinion, I won’t list the book under ‘must read’ list. But in case if you get hold of the book, there is no harm in reading just to enjoy a unique style of writing.

PS: This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.

PPS: Slightly unrelated to context in the book, there is a statement which goes like “India’s a theatre of cruel slapstick”. Couldn’t agree more looking at current affairs in our country.