Neha


There are college romances, thrillers,  crime episodes and so much more.  However, rarely do writers attempt to weave a story around addiction, be it of any kind. The reality remains that there are various kinds of addiction that have gripped the society and more than the addict reaching out for help,  people near and around him/her need to keep a close watch on how far the addiction might take the patient.

This story revolves around Siddharth, the things he is addicted to and how this addiction takes over him completely. A guy, who would come across as a regular young college or working person and seemingly harmless actually has a side to his personality that only he's aware of.  And while trying to get rid of the addictions, he only delves deeper in its folds further ruining himself and his life. As a reader progresses with the story,  they get hints from the writer, subtle and easily overlooked, of what our protagonist is actually going through or suffering from. And slowly as the end approaches, the reality breaks through and pieces together.

The plot is relatively fresher than the other novels flooding the markets currently. This one is more like a psychological thriller once you complete it. In fact, so much that you read in one chapter starts making sense as the next chapter approaches. The characters seem real and kind of those people you meet in your day to day life,  nothing different or extraordinary, yet with something brewing inside each of them.

However, the essence of the novel is addiction and the failure to diagnose the extent it may affect someone's life and personality. The writer has done justice to this and the story line brings this out rather beautifully. No threads are left loose and each character blends in with the plot.

Overall, it makes for a good read, fast and refreshing, leaving an imprint in your mind long after you've finished reading it!
Neha
Some books have the ability to convey a lot more than just the plot or story and they do that in a rather implicit manner. As you read along, the story not only involves you but your mind also begins making comparisons between the characters and people you know in real life. The Coffee and the Cola is one such rare book.

The story is that of Rahul and is journey of finding a companion. He meets Radha, a young ambitious girl with a head as well as a few responsibilities on her shoulder, through a matrimonial website. Finding each other compatible, the two begin meeting regularly and gradually decide to marry each other. However, their engagement is delayed for quite a few reasons which creates a rift between them. And in comes Nora, a fun and jovial person, who brings in the colors and vivacity that were missing in Rahul's life. Just as the two are getting along comfortably with each other, Radha makes a comeback and Rahul finds himself in a fix. While not wanting to hurt either, he ends up doing exactly that.

The plot of this novel might sound that of a regular romantic triangle, it is the storytelling that is compelling and the indepth character analysis that pulls you in. Radha portrays the strong and addictive coffee that grown on you with every sip, while Nora is a cola, with its quirk and effervescence that leaves you thrilled and chilled. The way the characters are revealed, layer by layer, you, as the reader, can relate more to them and would even begin drawing inferences from real life people around you. You would even begin categorizing the women around as coffee or cola, depending on your perception and experience with them.

I'd not say that the story is exceptional, but the way of story telling is truly different and not another run-of-the-mill type. It engrosses you from the word go and keeps you hooked till the very end. I read this book in one go within 3 hours and still am connecting dots in the story. For, you see, not every detail is told there, there are plenty that the reader would connect for themselves.

A fun and light read with an amazing narration, it's hard to believe that this is the author's first novel. A perfect debut, it has something for every age group.

Go for it, is my verdict :)
Neha
There are very few who have attempted the genre of combining a bygone era with fiction and even fewer who have been able to hold the fort there. The Dawn at Dusk is one such story which attempts to combine the two and takes the reader to the 8th century when casteism had begun wreaking havoc on the society.

Shatvari is a beautiful brahmin girl who has everything going for her. While training in classical music, she imparts knowledge to a shudra boy, who begins harbouring special feelings for her. However, her alliance is fixed to another brahmin boy who is also her teacher's son. While life flows beautifully, there's a tragic twist that turns her life upside down. Even before she can grapple with what happened, the society conspires against her and throw her into the shamshans where chandaals reside. Thus begins her quest for revenge, a journey in which her son is included, albeit unwillingly.

In a parallel storyline, the Yaduvanshis and the Raghuvanshis are gearing to gain more kingdoms under their control. Their methods include unwarranted attacks as well as deceit. To avenge the wrongs done to his kingdom and people and save them from future attacks, the young Nishaad king Neel goes to the enemy state to know their weak points. However, destiny has other plans and the two kingdoms join hands against the enemies. Meanwhile, there are other characters interwoven in these two parallel stories who eventually come together as the story unfolds towards the climax. The bits and pieces are put together while Shatvari remains devoted to her cause of avenging the wrongs that the society leashed on her and her son.

This is an extremely complex tale of social agitation that brought about unrest among the suppressed. Every character has a unique aspect and contribution to the story, without which the entire puzzle would remain unsolved. The background is deep set in the 8th century and lends more realism to this story. It is the ease and flow of words by the author that make this complex tale interesting and read-worthy.

A tale told well, this is a good read for those looking for something different from the regular romances and love stories. While set in a different era, the stories and its characters keep you engrossed as you turn the pages. Pick it up if you're looking for something different.


Neha



Some stories make you cry, while others make you smile. Some leave you amazed, while others leave you wondering. This story makes you experience it all. There are tears, there are failures, there is love, there is maternal affection and at the end, the story leaves you with a smile.

A Knotty Affair is the story of Viraj and his struggles. His struggles start early on due to his weight and stammer. He tries to fit in and adapt with other classmates, but is ridiculed and laughed at all the time. Left with no friends, his only solace is his mother and her unflinching love and confidence in him. He joins college where his father teaches, strikes friendship with the beautiful and understanding Ruhi and falls in love. However, this little euphoria in his otherwise mundane life is short-lived when he realizes that it's a one sided relation which will not be reciprocated. 

A conspiracy shatters the small and cozy family. As they struggle to wade through it, a tragedy seems like the end of everything. Yet, they survive and thereafter starts Viraj's journey of countering his weaknesses and turning a new leaf in his life. He begins his life afresh but a strange turn of events make him stand face-to-face with Ruhi, and thus restarts the chapter of his life he thought was left far behind and forgotten. 

A Knotty Affair manifests human emotions beautifully. On one hand, there is a mother who stands by her son, no matter what, and there is a father who loves and wants the best for his child, but is unable to express it in words. Then, there is friendship and then love and commitment and the joy of seeing happiness in the eyes of those you love. This is what makes this story a true winner. 

The characters are well-sketched and the background makes them feel like they are people who live next door, those we see in and around every day, but are oblivious to their daily struggles. There is a sense of realism that pervades all through the story and that is precisely this novel's strength. Despite displaying and manifesting so many human emotions, the story is light and breezy. And that's its beauty.

A beautiful tale narrated equally well, this can well be in your next read in your list of something light yet very meaningful. 


Neha

With all the news in and around social as well as mainstream media, what happened in Kashmir in 1990 is no longer just a story. Its pain and agony is felt across generations. One can do justice to a story on the subject only if they've gone through it or seen it closely. This novel, named after the subject, reveals more about what happened before and after the tragic year of 1990 and how it affected scores of families for whom Kashmir was their home.

The story is that of a Kashmiri Pandit, Shiv, whose life turns upside down and everything looks bleak after his family is forced to leave Kashmir.  The family not only loses their home but also a family member and the pain and trauma they go through is immense. Slowly and steadily,   our protagonist regains his foothold after losing out briefly to wrong elements and bad habits. While he works towards his studies and attaining his degree, he also tries to find the lost elements of his life that got left behind in Kashmir, most importantly the girl he loved and longed to be with. The story even covers a bit of the Mumbai riots of 1993.

The two backdrops of this story are intense and the writer manages to reveal the pain and trauma through his pen.  The characters are sketched well and grow as the story advances. Though the story does not delve much into what exactly happened in 1990 and the massacre that happened then, it focuses more on how lives were affected and how families lost everything they called their home for generations.

Well written and fast paced, the story will go well with youngsters. If you're looking for a fresh story with real incidents, pick this one and you'll not be disappointed.

Neha

What happens when you mix two stories -  one an eternal mythology and another with a modern backdrop? Chances are that either will get lost in the merger and eventually the entire plot will collapse.  However, there are novels that have been able to weave together two stories parallel to each other and maintain the rhythm successfully.

To say that When Arya Fell Through The Fault meets the milestones laid down by its precedents in the past wouldn't be an exaggeration. The plot brings the mythological epic Ramayana in context with the story of a teenager living in the modern suburbs of California. While trying to make himself acceptable to the bullies in his school amid racial discrimination and utterly rude behaviour, Arya harms himself and his family in more ways than one. Gradually, he loses his reasoning and logic and makes a mistake that costs him and his family rather heavily. Thus begins a journey of self realisation and penance where he sets out to fight the demons, within him and outside.

While the story may seem simple, the plot is complex and interwoven intricately. It's not easy to bring together two stories from entirely differently eras, but the author does a lovely job here. So while you go back a bit to the history lessons,  you are able to put your present in it and analyse the situation thereon. To say that the great mythological epics hold the answers to life itself is what this novel sets out to say as well.

The characters are those you meet in your day-to-day life. You might like them or loathe them but they impact you and your actions. Whether you respond to them favourably or react to them in haste and anger is what eventually determines your personality and character. And the book is able to put across this little message in a simple way. A few descriptions might seem lengthy here and there and it does get a little preachy somewhere midway,  but the flow isn't lost.

The story remains with you, long after you've read it. As a reader, you begin to analyse your actions and reactions to life events and that's what makes the story successful. The words and tone are reader friendly, making it a light read, yet the message is deep and profound. It's a rare combination to find these two qualities in a book. So yes, this is worth reading :)

Neha
What happens when a character from a book grows on you gradually and you begin to feel its pain. You somehow know intuitively how the next turn of events will affect the character you are now almost breathing with. That's exactly how this story wraps around you and fogs your thoughts completely.

Her Resurrection is the story of Maya and the battles she fought trying to fend for herself. The battles were imposed and none of them chosen by her. Yet, she had to live through them while she dies a little every moment. What she clings on to is a rare kind of hope and her zest to keep fighting out every battle thrown at her.

The story engulfs you word by word. The characters slide in smoothly and good or bad, you can feel their presence around. There is no wordplay when introducing new characters and it's their thoughts, deeds and dialog that provide the reader an insight to their personality. As the scenes and the story unfold, you can feel the agony and anger of the protagonist, who fights nail and tooth and survives. The characters seem very real while the background gels in too. The flow of the story is smooth with the turn of events keeping you on the edge. 

 This story isn't merely about Maya's survival.  It's about her never ending battle with the demons present in our society and how she manages to save her soul from them. This is a story that haunts and inspires you at the same time. This one is a must read,  if it's a story with an edginess that you're looking for!
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