Book Review: The Sialkot Saga

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Title: The Sialkot Saga

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Page: 588 pages

Plot: ‘When it’s a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.’

The trajectories of Arvind and Arbaaz, both ‘businessmen’ of a kind whose lives are unwillingly intertwined, ricochet off one another while they play out their sinister and murderous plots of personal and professional one-upmanship, all the while breaking every rule in the book.

Both are unaware that what they seek and fight over is the very obstacle in realising an ancient secret that dates back to a time long forgotten.

And yet, at the heart of it all, there lies tenderness… and pathos… and blood… and rare moments of an almost exalted happiness. So, can it be that a man is both sinner and saint, victor and victim, black and white?

Ashwin Sanghi, master storyteller and spinner of yarns, weaves together threads of the past and present, fact and fiction, history and mythology, business and politics, love and hatred while dangling you ceaselessly over the cliff with this chilling multi-layered narrative, keeping you guessing till a totally unguessable end.

And you’re left wondering whether it’s a matter of faith… or fate?

Favourite Quote: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you,”

Thoughts:  I have wanted to read this book since its release and finally I did. I am a big fan of Ashwin Sangi’s books. Inspite of his books being fictional, his research is through. I admire his style of seamlessly blending fiction with history.

Like all his books, this one too is based in different eras. The historic era mentioned in the book starts from Ashoka’s empire, proceeding to the other kings and their kingdoms. The second era starts from the times of the India-Pakistan partition and progresses across the lives of our two lead protagonists, Arvind and Arbaaz, between the year1947 to 2010.

The plot revolves around overly ambitious and power hungry Arving and Arbaaz. Arvind is brought up in a Marwari business family in Calcutta. He has a knack of business since a young age. He rises with his risky and instinctive buying and selling businesses and becomes one of the most renowned businessmen in the country. On the other hand Arbaaz has seen struggle since childhood, being from a under privileged family. He joins the underworld under the guidance of Abdul dada and a few friends and finds his way up to the pinnacle. Both their personal and professional lives are intertwined.

Majority of the book is focused on the lives of these two characters who carve their different paths to make their mark on the world. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, some unbelievable coincidence (a little more than one can fathom) the one mentioned in the epilogue being the most coincidental.  The characters are very well developed. Each character’s actions were justified and were in sync with the events. The partition period was narrated descriptively giving a proper understanding of the flow of events. But in my opinion the historic era lacks it’s due and it could have been elaborated a little more. The writing and the story line as usual was very captivating. The book is almost 600 pages but I did not mind it at all.

Over all, the book is a historical fiction with a quest to uncover a secret, towards the end.

Rating: 4/5

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Unboxing- ‘Steal the Limelight’ Fab Bag Oct’17

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Hello Wanderers! The festival of lights is here. Diwali is one of my favorite festivals because it means happy people around, a lot of yummy food, some quality family time, lots of gifts and shopping. ❤

I hope you all are having a wonderful Diwali. This month I received my Fab Bag on 15th Oct. The theme for this month’s Fab Bag is ‘Steal the Limelight’.

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I received a shimmery gold pouch which perfectly goes with the theme and the festive mood. I received 4 products in my bag.

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  • Mond’Sub Gold Facial Mask (Rs.250 for 60gm)- The mask looks like melted gold. This collagen mask is meant to moisturize the skin along with brightening and tightening it. This gold facial mask is a perfect fit for this bag.

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  • Kronokare City Detox Face Wash (Rs.150 for 30ml)- I have tried shampoo from Kronokare earlier. The best part about this brand is that all the products are sulphate free and organic. This product consists of peppermint, lavender and grapefruit oil. The facewash lathers well. It is a travel size product.

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  • Yuana Premium Hair Oil (Rs.337 for 50ml)- I am not much of a hair oil person and haven’t tried it yet. Hopefully I will try it soon. This oil is a mixture of seven oils. It has great fragrance. But I feel it is a bit expensive.

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  • Sugar Arrested For Overstay Waterproof Eyeliner – 01 I’ll Be Black (Rs.699)- Few products from Sugar Cosmetics were up for choice. They offered various lipsticks, glosses and eyeliner. I went ahead and picked this eyeliner since I had tried their lipsticks and glosses earlier. I loved the eyeliner. It is a felt tip. The liner is long lasting and is waterproof.

 

In all I am happy with this month’s Fab bag. The total value of this bag is Rs 1236/-. You can buy it here.

Let this Diwali bring light, wealth and prosperity in your life…

Once again wishing you all a very Happy Diwali and a Prosperous New Year!

 

 

Book Review: Then The Doorbell Rang

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Title: Then The Doorbell Rang

Author: Capri Jalota

Page: 364 pages

Plot:  One fine morning, Jane wakes up and stands upon the ledge of her 18th floor flat in Dubai Marina. Till a few years back, she was everything that would make anyone jealous – beautiful, rich and successful. But then the wheels of time turned. Today, she is miserable and lonely. Would she get over a deception? Can she forgive herself for deserting a friend? Would she ever find true love? Will karma get the better of her or will life give her another chance to correct the wrongs?

Then the Doorbell Rang is about Jane’s roller-coaster journey as she explores the mystical phenomenon called Life.

Thoughts:  This book is about love, loss, pain, fears, remorse, and friendship. The book begins with Jane standing in her balcony, contemplating her life.  We follow Jane’s life, our key protagonist. In the book her life is carved out  from her childhood to her mid-thirties. Jane is daughter of a British mother and an Indian Indian father, who raised her in the city of Dubai.

At a young age, Jane’s mother eloped leaving a letter for her with a lot of confessions and advice based on her mistakes. From then on Jane decided to be a woman who wants to lead a successful career and wouldn’t allow love to come in the midst of it. . But life never offers what you want. So Jane meets Uday and married him within a period of two weeks form knowing him. She thinks this will work out. But life strikes again. The story picks up from then on.

I loved the imperfection of Jane’s character. She made big mistakes and was coward enough to face them but eventually came around and rectified them. Most of the characters were well depicted and relatable. The narration is from Jane’s perspective with few chapters as journal entries from a first person’s POV.

The plot is as uncertain as life.. The story maneuvers between past and the present.  I loved reading Jane’s journey full of more downs than ups. It is filled with so many unfortunate incidents that are too much to bear for any individuals. My heart went out for her each time. The language is simple yet mesmerizing. The book is long but I didn’t feel that it was dragged at all.

I would recommend this book to those who would like to read realistic life stories filled with highs and lows…

Ratings: 4/5

PS: Thanks to the author and The Book Club for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Indestructible Brand

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Title: The Indestructible Brand: Crisis Management in the Age of Social Media

Author: Venke Sharma, Hushidar Kharas

Page: 172 pages

Plot:  Whether or not your brand is on social media, your consumers are. They are continuously sharing their good and bad experiences about your brand. Most brands are not prepared to deal with negative feedback which, if ignored, can spiral into a crisis. This book seeks to aid brand and business owners to structure organizations to be crisis- ready. Creating a crisis squad and a crisis playbook, envisioning various scenarios that can occur, and what the brand’s response should be are some of the areas the book delves into. It also recommends preventive measures that can save brands from social embarrassment, and social listening strategies that can alert organizations to a problem before it becomes a crisis. When everything else fails and a crisis is at hand, the focus shifts to executing the playbook, turning the conversation around leveraging evangelists and influencers. Once the crisis has ended, it’s time to audit the playbook and close the gaps, as well as evaluate financial or reputational damage done to the brand, and see how quickly one can recover. 

Thoughts:  I came across this book while browsing through the marketing shelf at Crossword and it caught my eye immediately. In today’s world social media is becoming a medium for consumers to voice their opinions and experiences. It becomes very vital for the brands to understand these mediums and address these customers on the social media platforms.

This book is about managing brand crisis that occur on social media The book offers ample of examples and case studies of various brands which have faced customer dissatisfaction, trolling and complains on social media. The book suggests various methods to manage such crisis and even prevent them.

The book is written in an easy to understand manner with a lot of solutions that can be adapted by the brands. It is simplified with reference images of various tweets, Facebook posts, etc. The book is not loaded with jargons making it easy to understand for a person not familiar to social media. The book is crisp and I was able to finish it in one sitting.

I would recommend this book to the marketing, branding and PR professionals and even the business owners to understand the crisis and take preventive measures even before its occurrence.

Ratings: 4/5

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Book Review: Who Shall I be Today?

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Title: Who Shall I be Today?

Author: Sunita Saldhana

Page:  64 pages

Plot:    Who Shall I Be Today?

A woman can never be “just” a woman. She is a million people in one person.

“Who shall I be today?” is a collection of poems that delves into what makes up a woman. It talks of a mother’s love and fears; a woman’s search for herself; the yearnings of the heart for that someone special. It tells of the hurt and pain that love brings, and the courage to pick up the pieces and start over again.

You will find tears and smiles, pain and pride. You will find fear and courage, nostalgia and anticipation. You will find woman in all her avatars.

“Who shall I be today” by Sunita Saldhana is something written from the heart. It is a celebration of womanhood. It is guaranteed to touch the soul of every woman who reads it.

Thoughts:  “Who Shall I be Today?”  is a collection of 57 poems penned down by Sunita Saldhna. The poems are about the various roles a woman plays in her journey of life. Right from the time when her young love flourished to picking up the broken pieces of her heart, from being a daughter to motherhood, from loosing herself to finding her path.

All the poems come from a space right from the author’s heart. The essence of womanhood is penned down beautifully with each poem being powered with emotions of love, fear, passion, pain, etc. The poems are written in simple language, striking a chord with every woman reader.

My top 3 picks from the collection would be ‘From Cygnet to Swan’, ‘Love Beyond Understanding’ and ‘Don’t Tell Me Not to Love’.

I would recommend this book to every woman out there so they can get be reminded how special is it to be a woman and cherish each aspect of it!

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: Thanks to the author and The Book Club for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Spotlight: Appointment with Yesterday

Book Details:

Book Title: Appointment with Yesterday: A Novel in Four Parts with a Prologue and an Epilogue

Author: Christopher Stratakis

Category: Adult Fiction, 334 pages

Genre: coming-of-age / WWII / immigrant experience

Publisher: IndieReader

Release date: January 2017

Tour dates: Oct 2 to 20, 2017

Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is no bad language or violence, but there are references to sex and sexual situations (including between a pre-teen and teen)
Book Description:

A poignant and compelling first novel, Appointment with Yesterday tells the story of Yanni, a cheeky and delightful Greek boy growing up in a small town on an island in the eastern Aegean.

Left in the care of his loving grandparents, Yanni endures the deprivation and terror of the German occupation during World War II and finally leaves his beloved homeland and family to rejoin the parents who had left him behind to make a better life for themselves in America.

Filled with heartbreaking and heartwarming stories of love, devotion, disenchantment, and dashed dreams, Appointment with Yesterday is, ultimately, the story of hardships overcome and a determined boy’s journey toward finding his destiny.

 

Buy the Book:

 


 

 

Meet the Author:

 

Christopher Stratakis was born and raised in Greece. After moving to America, he graduated from Drexel University in 1951 and New York University School of Law in 1955. Shortly after joining the law firm of Poles, Tublin & Patestides in 1960, he became a partner, specializing in admiralty and corporate law.

He has written and published several articles, lectured on professional and historical subjects, served as Legal Advisor to several non-profits (pro bono), and was an arbitrator in maritime disputes. He is the author of Mnimes “Memories” (2010), a book of essays, short stories, and poems that he wrote as a teenager. In 2015, he co-edited Chains on Parallel Roads, a book published by Panchiaki “Korais” Society of New York. In recognition of his extensive community involvement, he has been the recipient of several awards from religious, governmental, and educational institutions.

Mr. Stratakis lives with his wife in New York City. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of three. This is his first novel.

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Book Review: The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel

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Title: The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel

Author: Erin Bomboy

Page: 353 pages

Plot: The most prestigious ballroom dance competition in the United States.
Two dancers need to win.
Only one can.
Nina Fortunova wasn’t supposed to end up almost thirty, divorced, with her dreams of winning shattered. She teams up with Jorge Gonzalez, a Latin dancer, to reinvent the flashy Smooth style. When the Chairman of the Judges offers to throw the competition in their favor, Nina must decide how far she will go to win, even if it means losing Jorge.
Carly Martindale is doing everything she’s been taught not to do—placing her happiness first by dancing with Trey Devereux, the former three-time champion who’s returned to competition for mysterious reasons. Carly becomes obsessed with Trey and allows him to control her every move at great risk to her physical and emotional health. How far will she sacrifice herself, so Trey and she can win?

Co-workers, then friends, and now arch competitors, Nina and Carly face off to determine who will be the winner.

Bright, emotive, and told through dual narrators, The Winner examines the costs associated with winning, the internalization of parental ambition, and the effect of gendered roles on and off the dance floor. It’s perfect for readers who will love the old-school elegance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in a contemporary setting.

Thoughts:  I follow a lot of dance based reality shows on television and often view a lot of live dance performances. Most of the times I am in awe looking at the dancers swirl, like a poetry in motion. But what we see is the output of their hard work, which often goes unnoticed. I always wondered about what goes into becoming a fine dancer and this book offers exactly that.

‘The Winner’ is a tale of prestigious ballroom dance competition based in the United States. We have two protagonists in the book who desperately have to win this competition. It’s more than just getting a medal. But only one will succeed…

We follow two vivid dancers Nina and Carly in the story. Nina is in the final years of dancing at the Nationals. She is advised to retire gracefully by her well wishers and even her husband who happens to be her dance partner. But she knows she has to do this for herself and her mother’s sacrifices to fulfill the “American Dream”. Carly is a girl next door who takes up a summer job at a dance studio. She is in her prime years of dancing and soon realizes her potential and decides to compete with her former partner/lover at the Nationals. And the story begins…

I loved the characterization. Both Nina and Carly are affable and relatable. I could feel their joys and sorrows while reading the book. All the characters in the book are very well carved, well described and are kept real, making it easier for the reader to connect.

The book is a little longer than usual but it doesn’t feel dragged. There is not a single point in the book where I felt bored. I actually enjoyed reading the constant developments in the plot. The narration was captivating and well structured. It had a steady flow to it.

The book does offer a lot of interesting insights about ball room dancing, what goes on in the green room before the performances, what goes into being a fine dance. But apart from this it also explores other dimensions of romance, relationships, sacrifices, family, etc.

This cover is a perfect choice for a book like this. If you are interested in ballroom dancing or not, this book makes a perfect read for an afternoon curled up in bed with a cup of tea.

Ratings: 4/5

Erin Bomboy Head Shot.jpgAbout the Author: A native of Richmond, Virginia, Erin Bomboy trained as a classical ballet dancer before spending a decade as a professional competitive ballroom dancer. She holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter where she works as a writer, editor, and teacher in the dance field. In her free time, Erin enjoys bacon, books, cats, and wine.
She is the author of The Piece: A Contemporary Ballet Novel and The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel. Her next novel, tentatively titled The Pas de Deux: A Classical Ballet Novel, will explore the relationship between a ballerina at the end of her career and the much-younger dancer with whom she falls in love. Taking the shape of a traditional pas de deux, it will premiere in 2018. Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Twitter  

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PS: Thanks to the author and iRead Book Tours for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Unboxing: ‘The Object of Desire’ Fab Bag Sept’17

This month is the 5th anniversary of Fab Bag and I was super excited to receive it. I received my Fab Bag very late this month. When I contacted the team to find out the issue I was informed that they had received a damaged product from one of the brands and hence there was a delay in delivery.

I finally received my bag on 12th of the month and I was appalled to see the condition of the bag I received. When looked at it closely the bag had compact/powder marks all over, loose threads and seemed like it had been used before. I immediately raised my concerns with the team and sent them photos of the bag. They assured me that this had been overlooked by them and it was their mistake. They promised to send me a new bag and I am awaiting the delivery of the same.

The theme for this month was ‘Object of Desire’.  I received 6 products this month in a white pouch. Here is a full look of the bag and its contents.

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Apart from the bag being damaged, I didn’t like the bag. They have definitely sent better bags in the past and being the anniversary bag, I expected more from them.

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  • Iraa Insta Renew Multi Action Under Eye Cream (Full size 20g- Rs.490): I don’t use under eye cream since I don’t have dark circles under my eyes. But I do get puffy eyes in the morning when I don’t get enough sleep. I applied this cream at night before sleeping to see its effects on puffiness. The cream is lightweight on the skin and gets absorbed easily. I did feel a difference in the morning, According to me this was the best product I received this month.

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  • Tvakh Midas Touch Ultra Nourishing Lip TInt- (Full size- Rs.195): This came in a small jar. I don’t prefer any lip product in jars since I have long nails and the application becomes a hassle for me. Every time I try to remove the product to apply on my lips, the product gets stuck in my nails. Anyway the product is light weight with SPF. It offers a shine on application. The shimmer on the top looks really nice.

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  • Tvakh CE- Namom Lip Plumper (Full size- Rs.225): Like I said, I have my concerns with any lip product that comes in a jar. Apart from the hassle in application, I really liked this product. It is 99% natural and contains cinnamon and Aargon oil which helps in plumping up the lips. It feels light on lips after application.

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  • Seer Secrets Smoky Rose Geranium Body Cleanser 30ml (Rs.72):  I received a sample size product from the Seer Secrets. It is my first time trying this brand. Its scent is very floral and it truly refreshing. I am yet to try this product and have kept is aside for my travel kit.

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  • Seasoul Moisture Matt Lipstick Lead Free LIPSTICK -ML09 (WARM BROWN) (Full size-Rs.530): We had the option to choose our shade and I went ahead with warm brown since I wanted something dark yet causal. I liked the product. The application was smooth and it comes with a matt finish. The highlight of this product is that it is lead free. It also has benefits of Vitamin E and it moisturizes the lips.

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  • Sugar Tip Tac Toe Nail Lacquer in Deep Down Diopside (Full Size-Rs.299): Sugar Cosmetics launched a their new range of Tip Tac Toe Metallic Nail Lacquer. It has six shades in the range. I received a Deep Down Diopside which is an metallic emerald green shade. I preferred to have received some other shade. But the nail paint is quite opaque just after one stoke.  I just love all the Sugar Cosmetics products I am receiving.

Over all, this bag was a little disappointing because of two reasons. Firstly I had a bad experience with the bag. Secondly it did not fare well as a 5th anniversary bag.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: 13 Dates

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Title: 13 Dates

Author: Matt Dunn

Page: 334 pages

Plot: When Noah Wilson first encounters the quirky, opinionated and very beautiful Angel Fallon, his world is turned upside down. It’s clear she’s not his normal type, but Noah can’t stop thinking about her—which doesn’t bode well for the blind date he’s already late for.

Convinced by his friend (and self-professed dating expert) Marlon that thirteen dates is all you need to fall in love, Noah decides to give it a try with Angel. They should be incompatible: she’s impulsive and he’s a planner; he wants to settle down and she doesn’t ‘do’ relationships—or anything, for that matter—the way Noah is used to. But there’s something about Angel, and Noah can’t shake the idea that all they need is twelve more dates.

Despite some near-disasters involving rock climbing, saddle sores and jellied eels, it seems his plan may actually work. But even if they do reach the magic number, can that really mean they’ll just fall into their happily-ever-after?

Thoughts:  I would like to start the review by explaining the book title. Noah’s friend, Marlon had once read a theory in a Cosmopolitan magazine that it takes 13 dates to know if you really love somebody and are not just infatuated by them. Hence the title.

Noah is the male lead in the book. He showcases artist in his gallery. He is sweet, corny, socially awkward and sometime’s irritating. He is looking for a companion in life and wants to settle down. His friend, Marlon sets him up on a blind date. Noah decides to make a quick stop at Starbuck right before his blind date and bangs into Angel.

Angel, our female lead is a strong, independent, adventurous, unconventional woman who believes in living life one day at a time. Their first encounter scene is really comically narrated. Noah realizes that Angel is the one for him, but Angel has her own baggage. The question is will Noah be able to convince her to overcome her baggage? Will Angel let herself commit to Noah?

The plot is very light hearted, sweet and romantic. The writing in most places is causal and easy going. The punctuations are a little haywire.  I liked the lead characters and their chemistry. The plot will make you believe in love at first sight and in the power of love.  The book does have a very predictable course but there is a feel good factor about reading the book.

I liked that Noah, who otherwise seems to be unsure about things knows the minute he sees, rather hears Angel’s voice that she is the one for him. Inspite of Noah and Angel being poles apart, they find a way to make things work. Plus Mary, Noah’s land lady adds her own flavor to the story.

The book is a light-hearted romantic comedy which can be read in one sitting. It gives you a feel good factor in the end.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and Netgalley for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Mahabhatra Code

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Title: The Mahabharata Code

Author: Karthik K.B. Rao

Page: 191 pages

Plot: “The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here.

As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?”

Thoughts:  I have watched the epic of Mahabharata on television as a child and over the years have read multiple retellings of the age old epic from different perspective. But when I read the synopsis for ‘The Mahabharata Code’ the plot was different from what I had read before. It had a sci-fi element added to it and I had to give this one a read.

Narayan Rao is an Indian astronaut working with NASA. He is chosen as one of the crew members to visit a mystery planet. He chooses to go there with his better half, Shrishti. Little did they know that they will play a major role in restaging the great epic of Mahabharata on an alien planet.

I found the plot to be very fascinating with aliens, spaceships and Mahabharata put together. The author’s imagination for bringing these aspects together in a book is worth a mention. The narration has its highs and lows. There are times where the narration dips especially where Narayan and Shristi are having a conversation. What appealed the most to me in the book was the logical explanation given for various events which were otherwise considered “mystical”. I loved the part where Krishna is narrating the Gita to Narayan.

The characterization could have been better. I could understand what all the characters where upto but didn’t really connect with any of them. But what I really liked about the characters is the justification given for their actions.

I would recommend you to pick this book up if you are looking for a varied retelling of Mahabharata.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and TBC for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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