Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Review : Beyond Birkie Fever (Walter Rhein)

Book:  Beyond Birkie Fever
Author:  Walter Rhein
Publisher:  Rhemalda Publishing

It's not every day you log into your mail and find a mail from a person living thousands of miles away from you. It was the last day of July when author, Walter Rhein sent me a mail for the first time. He came across this blog and few reviews here. He gave details about this book and asked me if I can review it.

Two things always stop me from reviewing books. First, when you start doing it regularly, you get a plenty of requests to do it. I neither have time, nor the zeal to read every other book that’s available in the market. Second, my reviews about a book are generally not good. Honest reviews have always brought troubles for me. Still out of curiosity, I visited amazon link of Walter's book, he shared to me in his mail. With the quoted price there, I was sure about one thing. 'I'm not going to review this book.' Moreover, I was not sure how much my review will help Walter. But, I knew I may be the only Indian, he must have asked to review his book. So, my reply would not only be mine, but will represent a nation. He will make a picture of India and its people from my reply. So, I replied him with my views few days later. He still asked me to review it; inquiring my address.

Almost a dozen of mails got exchanged after that before the book finally reached my address in the last week of September. Even before I could open the envelope with the book, the sender’s location brought a smile on my face. It's not every day you get an envelope with a US stamp on it. I opened the book a few days later.

Author's Bio from the book: Walter Rhein was born in northern Wisconsin. As he grew up, he developed a deep appreciation for cross-country skiing, the American Birkebeiner, and the Worldloppet circuit. His pursuit of international cross-country ski races sparked a powerful wanderlust that resulted in a ten year period spent living and working in South America. However, a true skier cannot resist the call of winter forever, and Rhein was recently relocated to Wisconsin, at least for the time being.

Beyond Birkie Fever is an adventurous journey of author, Walter Rhein in America's greatest cross-country ski race called American Birkebeiner. He shares with his readers how his journey as a skier changed since a kid of 7 years till date with details explaining his experiences beyond anything that one would ever hope to imagine! Let us dig out to find more about the book.

Every year, thousands of people journey from all over the globe to Hayward, Wisconsin, for a world-class celebration of life, winter and the competitive spirit. Prior to the race, local participants find themselves in the throes of a unique and natural euphoria. They thrill at the prospect of participating shoulder to shoulder with elite international competitors in a wild race through the great Northwoods wilderness. The book is a common person's Olympic ideal!

The cover page has an image of few skiers skiing with their full zeal, which surely goes with the book. Though I got this book shipped at my place, still if I would have noticed it at a bookstore, I would have picked up the book. However, there is some scope with the cover for improvement. The page quality is good. I have not read many paperback or hardbound books from foreign authors so can't comment about the standards followed in other countries.

When you start with the book, you find founder David Landgraf's account of the first Birkie. I would say it's a good idea to start a book like this. It's like giving a cricket lover, a book written on Cricket starting with the interview of Sachin Tendulkar. A straight six by the author on the first ball itself! Those who have been involved with ski races will surely appreciate it.

I found language used at the start of the book a little tough. Maybe, I felt so as being an Indian, I don't use words used by the author here in my daily talks. But, as you move with the flow, you find it to go smooth. Incidence one after another of the author's life keeps you moving with the flow of the book. Narration by the author is brilliant and would make you imagine yourself drown in the story. I belong to a country where there is not much snow. Still, I could imagine the plot very well. The part where author mentioned about his grandfather is really humorous. I didn't expect such a good end from the author after few setbacks with his health. Though, he fully convinced me with the end of the book.

At the end, I must say, it was a refreshing read for me as I have been continuously reading Indian plots. The author was tremendous in taking me to a different world. I would rate it a 4.25 on a scale of 5.

There are two drawbacks I found with this book. First, editing part could be taken better care of. Second, if the author wants to trap markets like India, he must reduce the price of the book. 

On a personal note, I would like to thank Walter Rhein for choosing me to read this book. His next book, 'The Reader of Acheron' is soon going to hit the market. I wish the author, all the best for his next book and other future endeavors.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Short Story : I like her

‘Yes, I like her!’ I said.
She did not reply for few minutes.
‘What is there in her that is not in me?’ she questioned with anger mixed in her voice.
‘She makes me smile whenever she stands in front of my eyes,’ I replied her honestly.
‘Hmm..’ Her eyes turned moist.
‘I think smile would not be the perfect word here. I really die laughing when she is standing in front of my eyes,’ I said making the situation worse.
‘Is she a Delhite?’ she asked further.
‘Umm.. Not really! She is actually a Punjabi.’
‘She must have fooled you by her talks.’
It was time for me to be silent.
‘Speak up!’ she shouted.
‘Yeah, it’s something of that sort you can say.’ I did not have a choice other than being true. I was really bowled by anything this girl spoke.
‘I know. All Punjabi girls are like this.’
‘Hmm..’ I nodded.
‘How long have you known her?’  her voice was turning sober every passing second.
‘I don’t know,’ I replied.
‘Days? Weeks? Months? Years? What?’ her voice rose this time.
‘Maybe, an year. Or, maybe more,’ I tried my best to remember when I saw her first time. But, I could not remember that moment.
‘Fine,’ she said wiping the tears which rolled down her eyes.
‘Are you OK?’ I asked her.
‘Yes, I am.’
‘All right,’ I replied, meekly.
‘Is she very beautiful?’ she asked.
‘Not really. But, she is my favorite. I love hearing to her.’
‘Fine! Best of luck with your future,’ she tried to smile this time.
‘Thank you,’ I smiled.
‘Take care. Bye!’
I turned to pick up the bottle kept to my right and gulped a few sips. I got busy with my daily work. After few hours, I logged myself on facebook.
‘Can I see her pic?’ my chat box popped with her message as soon as I turned online.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review : Dented & Painted (Tirupathi Khemka)

Book:  Dented & Painted
Author:  Tirupathi Khemka
Publisher:  Notion Press

These days if you ask me to read a short story or a short story collection, I will be more interested in it than I could ever be. It is because of the short story collection I am working for these days. However, that is not the reason you will find me biased towards this short story collection. 

Somewhere in mid of May, Notion Press organized a contest and the winner was to receive a copy of “Dented & Painted”. To my hunger for free copies, I participated in the contest and like most other times, I won it. The copy of ‘Dented & Painted’ written by ‘Tirupathi Khemka’ reached my address in no time.

Businessman, industrialists, leader, visionary, innovator and philanthropist, Tirupathi Khemka, is known for his Midas touch. He added panache to everything he undertook; be it creating and managing multi-million dollar businesses, revolutionizing the power generation industry, pioneering the concept of airline charter in the country, breeding industrial relationships or generously supporting social causes. He has extensively travelled across the globe and has observed different societies, cultures and people as a profound enthusiast of human character.

Dented & Painted is a book that talks about 23 independent women who were oppressed, abused and used, and stories of women who avenged, repelled or survived in author's own word. Let us find out what it has to offer to its readers.

We live in tough times. Manhood established his world with his set of rules; womanhood strikes back, unfortunately playing by the same rules. Here is a collection of touching true stories of modern women and their lives in a contemporary society.

The cover page has an image of a woman, half wrapped in a saree. It is one of the covers that cannot be described in words. The cover page is capable of attracting you towards the book.  As you further turn the hard-bound cover, the page quality has been marvelous. It is one of the best page qualities that I have read in recent days which give a feel of its own. 

Language of all stories is crispy, engaging and touching and narration too has been good. There are a few typos that appear at the end of the book but that can be ignored. Just a few stories are normal wife-husband stories but they are very few and most of the stories are good which make you forget about them.  In recent months, we have found rape as an inhuman act but I believe the author has done its best in attracting us towards other issues faced by women. Few stories really showed how a man can go out of humanhood to play with a daughter/lover/wife's feelings. I am mentioning few of my personal favorites for your reference:

1. Prerna: Prerna story appalls me. It squeezes my heart and makes me think why should a child be pushed to the edge where the only option left is repulsion/withdrawal? And what should the society do to a man who pushes a child to the edge by molesting his/her body and soul? And what should be done to the man who does that to his own child?

2. Nikita: Nikita knows what she wants and she uses all her charms to get it. Fair? Unfair? Who’ll judge?

3. Chaaya: Why are woman suppressed? What Kind of a father would treat a little girl so brutally? What kind of a man treats his wife so inhumanly? What makes these men beat, rape and suppress woman in their lives? And how can a woman change this?

4. Tasha: Every decision has a price to pay, are you prepared to pay the price commanded for this choice? What will a child conceived in an orgy be like? For people who attend orgies, what age do they think would be good for their children to start attend orgies themselves? 

5. Mrinalini: The thing that keeps bothering me about this story is, why victimize faith?

6. Jhanvi: Why did she go back? She had the chance to get out of it. And why was she clinging on to Ritz? She knew he had got her into it?

At the end, I must say ‘Dented & Painted’ is a must read. I would rate it 4 on a scale of 5. The stories take you to every color of womanhood. You can feel the need to change your thinking that has been ruining the life of woman in many ways, may it be her father, her lover or her husband. The author has done a tremendous job in showing all the characteristics of woman. He leaves us with lot of questions in our mind. Do we really have the right to call us civilized with these questions? I really don't have an answer.

The only drawback I found with this book is it's price i.e. Rs 450/- Although, the book is hardbound but still I believe the author as well as publisher should have lowered the book price to make it reach the masses because many stories needs to reach to every mind.. every soul.

On a personal note, I’d like to wish Notion Press all the best for providing such a platform to many writers who are now heroes among their friends. And, I wish the author, Tirupathi Khemka best of luck for the book. I would love to read any future books by the author. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Life Is What You Make It!

Hold On! I know as you read the title of this blog post, you may think I am going to talk something about one of Preeti Shenoy’s book here. But, I would clarify that I am not. I am going to talk what the title actually means.

It has been one year now I have been blogging here. Few of you appreciated it and few others chose not to speak anything after reading my blog posts. Some of you imagined the short stories I wrote on this blog while some of you said me to work on my grammar. Each of your comments and feedback were important and is treasured to its best.

I started this blog almost one year back with the blog post titled, life similar to a samosa chat ( and as I complete one year of this blog I felt like writing a blog post again titled on life.  Let me tell you the reason why I started with this blog first before coming to what actually I want you to tell. 

For past few years I want to be an author. It was four months when I was tired sending my sample chapters to several publishers one after another with no positive response. And, the rejection is really painful. But, I did not want to kill my passion for writing. That was the time and my reason why I wrote the first blog post here. 

Himani Goyal, a dear friend and renowned book reviewer was the first to appreciate my blog post. And, appreciation has immense power in it. It was all your love that made me to write blog posts one after another. I started writing poems and short stories time to time. Most of them were appreciated by you. I even wrote few blog posts in Hindi which were loved by few. Meanwhile, I got approval for my first book from one of the leading publishing house. However, the publishing process is still a long way.

It was in December last year when one of my short stories, a day before my divorce got huge response from the readers. Getting wonderful response from the readers about my short stories, I started penning down all the short stories idea I had in mind. Till now, I have written 14 short stories and am planning to release my anthology. I have already sent the sample stories to few of the publishers and will send to few others in coming days. 

I don’t know how long I have to wait before becoming an author. I don’t know how many of us leave our dreams midway when we are tired trying it. It’s not about me. It’s about anyone who has ever dreamt. It’s about anyone who dared to dream big. Few of us leave our dreams when we see it’s getting tough to achieve them. I may have done the same a year ago. But, I didn’t. I may have been lucky to achieve my dream. But now when I see it, I smile thinking about my past. 

If my book could have been out a year ago, I would have been happy. There could not have been this blog, there could not have been my short stories collection and most importantly, there would not have been you reading me. So, at the end I believe what happened is not at all bad. It is actually the best that could happen.

Past one year has taught me a lot. I have made few authors, literary friends who admire my work, come forward for suggestions and feedbacks, and stop me from committing faults. I have learnt not only from my mistakes but more importantly from other mistakes. That is what I believe life is all about.

That’s all I wanted to say today. I hope I made my point. I know each one of you reading this, may have numerous dreams on your eyes. I don’t want you to leave them mid way. You may get obstacles, you may get slow to reach them but I don’t want you to kill them. Because you know ‘Life is what you make it’. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Good Deeds, Great Returns

We all must have heard about the proverb, 'Kar Bhala, Ho Bhala' from our childhood. I don't know what we say it exactly in English. But it's something like 'Do good, get good.' With the increasing rush in everyday life, we all are forgetting this and no more believe in this. Today, I want to share with you a small incident that actually happened with me few months back.
This blog would have been a little popular by that time. Maybe, that was the reason when I logged in my facebook account, I had a message in my inbox.
My book "ABC" by PQR Publishers has just released. I was wondering if you do book reviews on your blog.
Let me know. I can send you a copy.
I had never done a book review.  Neither, had a plan to do that in the near future.
‘No ma'am. I don't do book reviews. But, if you want I can send you the names of book reviewers who does that and are well known at facebook,’ I replied instantly.
‘Yeah, that will be good. Thanks,’ said the authoress.
I narrated name of seven reviewers one after another with a little knowledge about how they review a book. The authoress knew few of them, however was unaware about few others.
‘If you want I can talk with him for your book. He knows me well,’ I offered the authoress.
‘That would be good. If I have his address I can send him a copy,’ came her reply.
The authoress has full confidence on her book. She believed that her book has no errors and contains a good story.  So, she decided to send her book to every reviewer I suggested. She asked me to help me with the reviewers she does not know to which I agreed. While we were about to end our chat, a message popped on my chatbox , ‘Thanks man will send you a copy if you haven’t ordered my book yet. Give me address.’
I was surprised by her message. I repeated again, ‘I don't review at blog.’
‘Not for review, to enjoy!’ she replied.
I laughed at her innocent reply. I thanked her for the offering and confirmed the reviewers she did not know. I promised to arrange their addresses.
‘Thanks. Get their address and give me yours,’ she insisted again.
‘Ma'am! Why are you taking trouble to send me your book? I don't expect anything in return of helping others,’ I explained her.
‘Why not? Why are you taking trouble to help me? I want you to read it!’ she questioned me again.
‘I am like this only from the day I know myself,’ I replied with a smile.
‘Well I'm like this too. I have to do my karma.’ She seemed to be in no mood loosing.
I promised her to send my address with the addresses of the other reviewers she don’t know. We ended our conversation with another thank you from her end.
Her book reached me on 9th January. Due to my busy curriculum and other free books that I received in free book giveaways here and there, I read her book last month. She although did not lose any chance to abuse me publically for not reading her book even though it was sent to me free of cost.
As I was wondering what to write this month as my blog post, I thought of returning her good with a little good I can do. Yeah, I am reviewing her book. I don’t know how good or bad I review a book. So please, forgive me if I do a blunder. The review is written below.

About The Author: Ashwina Garg lives in Hyderabad with her husband and two kids. She studied accountancy and has worked as an entrepreneur, a German translator and a technical writer.
Synopsis of The Book:  Studied hard? Got the perfect job? Found the perfect mate? And Still Screwed up your life? Is it possible to do everything right in your life and still not be happy? Meet Sanjay, Aditi, Mayank and Jayshree.

Sanjay is US-returned software millionaire determined to have an arranged marriage aftr slling his company and braking up with his two-timing girlfriends.

Aditi is a commitment-phobic writer who cant figure out what her next book is about but has perfected the art of break-ups Manyank and Jayshree are the perfect couple. If only they werent dealing with rude relatives, killing deadlines, procreation pressures and those ultimate romance-killers... monotoy and boredom!

This light-hearted story traces the lives of these four successful, thirty-something friends who all come to the same conclusion...

My review: I have divided my review into two subparts. Pros and cons about the book. So here it is:

Pros of the book: I got to read something different. Shrishti Publishers has been coming out with so many college romances. So, I felt good seeing something out of college. Aditi's character in the book is too strong. I fell in love with her character while reading it. Sanjay in the book was good too. Their romances were explained well. Although, I feel it is tough to make me smile. But, the authoress did it with her book. I even dropped a few tears when Sanjay proposed Aditi. The chemistry between the other characters, Mayank and Shree is also shown well.

Cons of the book: The authoress had talked about so many brands that were appearing as aliens to me. For a moment, I thought her crazy. Beginning of the story is not so good. Moreover, the authoress has used names of so many dishes that are cooked in south. The book lacked suspense.

Overall, the book can be read in your leisure time. I would rate it 3.5 on a scale of 5. I would ask my readers and friends to please comment below how was the review. Thanks, in advance.

Note: I am not open for book reviewing. My curriculum keeps me busy. So, if I get a book I don’t know when I will be able to complete it. Therefore, I kindly request my author friends not to ask me to review their books.