The Peshwa: War of the Deceivers

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Tell me that a 400+ paged novel about politics, war and strategy will have me rooted to the spot for over 6 hours and I’d probably have laughed in your face. Well, I’d have done exactly that before having read The Peshwa: War of the Deceivers by Ram Sivasankaran. Set against the backdrop of the Mughal Empire and the increasing agitation of the Marathas against the Mughals, this second installment in the Peshwa series begins with a sense of alarm as someone from the royal family meets an unfortunate end. It then picks up the pace, touching upon the conquests of Peshwa Bajirao Bhat as he tries to weed out the Mughals from his homeland. However, a secret group of assassins, known as the Scorpions, continue to pose a serious threat, ravaging villagers and disrupting Rao’s attempts to bring the Emperor to his knees. It falls on him to capture these elusive hitmen before they get to his family and lay waste to the Maratha Empire.

Ram Sivasankaran’s writing equips you with the tools for imagining exactly what he is trying to convey. I was glad to see that it didn’t focus too much on nature imageries, rather chose to spend all its powers of persuasion in delivering crisp scenes, with an equal amount of dialogue and description of the happenings. The cruelty with which the assassins and tyrants dealt a blow to the Marathas and Sikhs is absolutely horrendous. But the author had the good sense to depict it in a subtle manner and not get into the gory details that would’ve been entirely too harsh on young, impressionable minds.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are several words in Hindi, Marathi and Sanskrit – all of which have been explained in the glossary. Something that aided in making this book extremely gripping is the fact that each of the chapters (sometimes the subsections too) followed different storylines. So you could be reading about Bajirao or Emperor Muhammad Shah or Kashibai or Nizam Ul Mulk or any of the several other characters that are featured in this adventurous, action-packed story. While the illustrations that intervene the writing are simple, they reinforce what is being told and so were a welcome distraction.

Oscillating between pride at the depicted valor of some heroic historical figures and exhilaration at the pace with which the plot of the novel advanced, I couldn’t believe how genius some of the plot points were. It truly takes a mastermind to weave such intricate designs into a tapestry borrowed from Indian history. Speaking of history, I’m not sure to what extent some aspects of this novel are true and where exactly the author’s imagination steps in to add some seasoning. But collectively, this was such an impactful and awe-inspiring account. I took a peek at the Goodreads page and was so disheartened to see that a third book in the series hasn’t been announced yet. But be sure that the moment it is out in the market, I’m going to bring home a copy. Meanwhile, you should pick up The Peshwa: War of the Deceivers for a gala time. Take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed!

Thank you Writers Melon and Westland Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

★ ★ ★ ★.5

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All Your Perfects

In my opinion, an integral part of the new adult or adult genre is the sub-section comprising of stories about the newly-wedded. There is an excess in novels about students and early 20-somethings trying to figure out their place in the world. But I’ve seldom come across books that tackle the subject of marriage without having their characters be 40 year olds. And that’s where Colleen Hoover’s heartrending novel about a couple in their late 20s, whose marriage has become so strained that it threatens to rip them apart, comes into play. Graham and Quinn said the vows almost seven years ago, knowing full well that they would continue to love each other through thick and thin. But somehow the troubles of today have blinded Quinn to that promise. And as the miscommunication drives a wedge between the two, they must confront the reality that if their saving grace is not enough to hold them together, they are very likely hurtling towards the end of their marriage.

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Colleen Hoover’s writing never fails to tug at my heartstrings. The people that adorn the pages of her books are some of the most realistic and relatable characters I’ve ever read! There is almost nothing about them that makes you feel like they’ve been copied off a blueprint of typical contemporary fiction characters. While this book is all about learning to not shine too much light on your flaws, the male MC, Graham comes across as a near-perfect ideal partner. Well, almost ideal because that misdeed towards the end of the novel made me desperately wish for an undo button. I’m not going to condone that kind of behavior. But for the majority, he wasn’t egoistic or selfish or superficial in anyway. Their relationship, although predictable, was a perfect segue from the disaster that was Quinn’s previous relationship. And since heartbreak is something that can very well bring two people together, I wouldn’t call it cliched.

What I particularly loved about this book is that all the chapters go back and forth between two timelines – one when Quinn had just met Graham and another when they had been married for a few years. That helps ease the genuineness of their relationship into the minds of the reader and I found myself, soon into the book, growing to love their bond. The author’s writing style is neither full of ostentatious wordings nor too simple as to take away from bringing these people and their stories to life. I was hooked to it right from the start. Since it is an adult fiction novel, it is quite explicit in its sexual content. So fair warning to younger readers. Something I truly appreciated about this novel is that Colleen Hoover doesn’t try to make her plot cheesy or her characters deliver lines that can be construed as highly exaggerated. When you read it, you’ll come to realize that Quinn, Graham and the others are just like real people with real issues that bother them. It is convincing enough to leave you blubbering atleast once. I know I shed some solid tears a couple of times in the book, not necessarily because something bad had happened, but because their love seemed so pure and so beautiful.

Truly glad to have picked this up and chanced upon a story which addresses a medical concern that many individuals have had the misfortune of experiencing. I do not wish to explain further because that’s too much of a spoiler. Also, brownie points for how Colleen Hoover manages to imbue letter writing with such importance yet again. It is through letters that some of her characters single-handedly manage to “save the day”. I’d definitely recommend this book, whether you are in the mood for a contemporary fiction or not; read it, get empowered by it.

★ ★ ★ ★.5

Book Review — Cold Truth by Nikhil Pradhan

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Sakshi Prakash is a 10-year-old girl who goes missing from East Delhi. While the police are making zilch efforts to uncover the mystery behind her disappearance, a journalist follows the trails left behind by other such possible child kidnappings, and ends up unveiling an international conspiracy that’ll take the world by storm. Written in an epistolary format, Cold Truth packs a punch with its emphasis on corruption and the possibilities of the unknown.


While I’m always ready to devour a good mystery novel, it soon became apparent that Cold Truth was not what it looked like. It’s not a basic suspense fiction. The search for Sakshi spirals out and we come to realize how other cases, governments and agencies are involved in covering up certain life-altering mistakes. Amidst themes of conspiracy, experiments and the pursuit of truth, the plot execution has been managed splendidly. I would give brownie points to the author for thinking of such an intriguing plot.

As for the writing style and language, I’d say this book is apt for intermediate readers. Conveyed through chats, newspaper articles, voice transcripts, official documents and other different elements, the story is pieced together by the journalist’s narration. There are portions where the writing makes use of some medical jargon, but apart from that, the style is quite straightforward. If you’re not used to reading many jaw-dropping books, you should prepare yourself for the insane amounts of gaping-mouth scenarios that are inevitable once you begin reading this novel of Nikhil Pradhan’s. It is simply mind-blowing!

One issue I have with the book is that at times, I felt that the narrative would digress from the focal point of the scene/the chapter. The unnecessary bits could’ve been done away with. But on the whole, it is a spellbinding tome of 200 odd pages, which I finished in a sitting. This is one of those books (right up my alley!) that I’m not going to forget anytime soon. So highly recommend it!

Rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars

What do you get out of it? An unputdownable thriller that not only explores certain serious themes but also has a peculiar ending.

Thank you HarperCollins India for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

Book Review — I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

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On the precipice of Clare’s wedding, Edith (a total stranger) helps her realize what a big mistake she is about to make. Gathering all her courage, Clare breaks off her engagement to kind yet temperamental Zach. Weeks of anguish later, she receives a letter that informs her of Edith’s demise and that Edith has bequeathed a vacation home to her – the Blue Sky House. When Clare moves into this scenic property, she finds two ledgers that hint at a bigger picture. In an attempt to understand who Edith was, Clare and her bestfriend, Dev embark on a journey, connecting the dots of Edith’s far and wide imprint on other’s lives; in doing so, Clare discovers more about herself than she’d ever hoped to know.

Now, the synopsis may appear to be ordinary, but PLEASE DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THIS BOOK. It is spellbinding, heartbreaking and basically, a huge warm hug! I am still hungover. The author’s writing style is poetic in bringing out the minute imageries of every scene. You get to read the chapters from Edith and Clare’s perspectives alternatively; which means you are shuffling between two time periods – the 1950s and the present. When you get to the end of the book, this structure will make perfect sense, as everything falls into place magically. Some of the initial chapters from Edith’s perspective were a little too slow paced which deterred me from really getting into her side of the story. But once you cross the first 20-30 pages, you can’t help but be in awe of Edith. The storyline is beautiful; it creates a tidy little package of what it means to be alive, paying tribute to seemingly all human experiences.

Some of the themes explored in this novel are that of mystery, domestic violence, mental health, self-discovery, familial bonds and unconditional love. But as you read I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, you begin to notice just how much more flavor has been infused into it. You’d think that nothing could top off the very plot and her writing style, but hands down, this has some of the best characters I’ve ever read! No fluff or 1 dimensional characters. Each and every person in this book has such a unique vibe. It seriously made me reconsider what kind of characters I have been reading about for so long. Zach, although not one of the main characters, is highly bipolar and affects the story on a different tangent. I truly appreciate how violent and abusive behavior is dealt with throughout this novel. Edith, a female character to look upto, is righteous and so full of love for everyone. She has this knowing persona that convinces you she is more than just-a-normal-lady.

Also, what a complex family unit! Thank you for making me love the idea of large families. I wouldn’t say that this book is heavy on romance, because it goes above and beyond the love between a couple. Especially with regards to Dev and Clare’s equation, I feel like the author has hit home run in conveying something precious and real. Having said all that (I still want to say more), I want you to understand that no review would ever do full justice to what this book presents to its reader. It fills my heart and soul to have immersed in the multi-tiered stories that Marisa de los Santos has penned down. If this book doesn’t win a Goodreads Choice Award in 2018, then I’d be so so disappointed! A MUST READ. Just please pick it up once it releases. Please.

Ratings – 4.5 out of 5 stars.

What do you get out of it? Life. This book breathes life into its audience as it unearths the life stories of several people bound by fate and blood. It stands for everything I love about writing and reading.

Thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss for giving me access to an e-galley in exchange for a review. 

Book Review — 5 Ingredients Quick Easy Food by Jamie Oliver

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How often have you googled recipes only to realize that the ingredients required are five times more than the number of servings or that the time needed to prepare the dish is a lot longer than what you’re ready to invest? With Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick Easy Food, you don’t need to worry about a thing! It has clear cut instructions, pictures of ingredients, so you know exactly what’s required and drool-worthy snaps of the end product. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is. From basic dishes like egg fried rice and and steak sandwich to extravagant meals like smoky mushroom frittata and succulent lamb stew, this cookbook offers something for everyone. Split into 11 sections based on the nature of the dish (veg, fish, salads, sweet treats, pork etc.), this volume is diverse and incorporates different cuisines. So now, you can cook as per your mood and have a fabulous meal ready in no time! Concerned about nutrition? Flip to the very end where you’ll find tons of information about staying healthy, straight from a nutritionist.

Skim through to whichever section you prefer at that moment.

The structure and form of each recipe. Ingredients to the left, final product to the right and some basic instructions in the middle.
Made the Egg Fried Rice and Quick Steak Stir Fry.

Cooking is not one of my favourite things to do. And yet, when I had a glimpse of what this book offers, I knew I had to get a copy. I was pleasantly surprised by how everything had been made convenient for the reader. For starters, the instructions to each and every recipe are written in a simple and direct manner, that too in just a couple of paragraphs. More often than not, I’ve found that lengthy procedures make the whole ordeal even more troublesome because you have to take care of so many elements. Since the specialty of this book is that all the dishes were made out of 5 main ingredients, it was very comforting. Secondly, the structure of this book earns major brownie points. Each section has 9 – 12 recipes on average. That way you don’t need to run to the grocery store, every time you intend to cook. 85% of the ingredients are basics like eggs, sugar, meats, sauces, bread, vinegar and so on. The only thing that bothered me a little is that a select few of the sauces and vegetables aren’t as easily available where I live. Another thing that I really liked about this cookbook is that pictures of the ingredients are aligned to the left in a strip format. So you can flip through the pages and pull out recipes relevant to ingredients that you have at home.

You can’t go wrong with a cookbook that has been put together by a renowned chef such as Jamie Oliver. All of the dishes look really enticing. I’ve tried out three recipes at random, and true to the word, they have all turned out spectacular with minimal effort! *pat on the back* I highly recommend this book to everyone, even if you’re not much of a cook. Don’t be intimidated by the names of the dishes, they are as easy as can be. Get a copy and see for yourself!

What do you get out of it? You learn how to cook different cuisines with ease, while retaining the quality of the dish. Quick, quality cooking at your fingertips.

Ratings – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Thank you Penguin India for sending me this book in exchange for a review. 

Book Review — Charlatans by Robin Cook

Thank you Pan Macmillan India for sending me a copy of this book for review. 

Summary – The unprecedented death of a healthy man during a minor surgery launches the super chief resident of Boston Memorial Hospital, Noah Rothauser, into investigating the ethical stance of doctors at BMH. But little does he know that he has been expending his efforts in the wrong direction. His discoveries lead him to question his judgment of people, thrusting him into a vortex of gradual disintegration. When his career as a surgeon is threatened, Noah finds himself jumping on a flight out of the city, to trace the root of the problems. Robin Cook’s Charlatans delineates the world of medicine and fraudulence with astounding clarity.

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Review – What started out as an overwhelming trip to the ORs and a close monitoring of Noah Rothauser’s daily schedule soon picked up pace and became the most gripping medical-mystery I’ve ever read! I never thought I’d be intrigued by surgeons and their job, but Robin Cook’s careful interspersing of conflicts and elements of suspense made the whole story very interesting. The plot in itself is commendable because it compels you into thinking just how reliable our lifesavers are, be it doctors, lawyers or even the police force. Themes of betrayal, suspicion and romance add the necessary sparkle to prevent this chunk of a book from being boring. His writing style is wordy and yet easy to grasp. There were times when I was wondering why we are privy to every minute detail of the happenings in a day.

Creating extraordinary characters and fleshing out the process of their unraveling seems to be something Robin Cook is great at. I was equally mesmerized by the actions and thought processes of Noah as well as Dr. Ava London. It is said that they are “two peas in a pod”, but they are actually quite the opposite of each other. Neither of their personalities is predictable by a far shot. They possess such a surprising bunch of qualities. Although I’d hoped that Noah would grow a bit of a backbone. That being said, parts of the mystery became predictable for me because of nagging doubts that took root early in the story. Even Dr. Mason, one of the villains, is imbued with such annoying qualities that it elicits a strong response from the reader. As far as the characters are concerned, Charlatans presents something new. I really liked the inclusion of social media as a theme that is vital to the millennial generation. This novel successfully portrays the transience of morals, identities in a day and age that is governed by social media. The climax and the aftermath were inevitably shocking. Just when you begin to think that you’ve figured it all out, you’re proven wrong. This book is a must read and won’t allow you to come up for air!

What do you get out of it? In addition to understanding the workings of a hospital, you get an insightful glance at modern technology’s role in creating charlatans. Plus some fantastic character arcs!

Rating – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Book Review — Gods & Monsters Trilogy by Kelly Keaton

Today I am going to review the entire trilogy of Gods & Monsters by Kelly Keaton. Worry not, there wont be any spoilers for those who haven’t read the whole series. I will be just briefly talking about the plot, characters, and stuff.

The Darkness Becomes Her trilogy by Kelly Keaton follows Aristanae, a girl who has for a long time been uncertain about her origins. Having been adopted at a young age, she has no clue about her birth parents or why there is a sense of discomfort deep within her. One day she ventures into the forbidden area of New 2 – where everyone isn’t quite normal –  with the purpose to find more about herself. What she discovers is far from anything she could’ve ever imagined. Regardless of how much she wants to deny the truth, it all makes sense and she must learn to accept the choices made for her. But here too, amidst the whispered glances, she sees a kind of wariness in others. As the book progresses, faces of demons from history loom before her. One wrong decision and New 2 is once again reduced to dust. And this time it will be all her fault.

A Beautiful Evil and The Wicked Within pick up after heart wrenching cliff hangers. A War. Many Losses and A New Threat. People who once stood by her are being flung off the game board and soon she must be strong enough to escape a prison that no one has before. Filled with lots of shocks and surprises, the trilogy is a piece of wonder and addiction. Ari is not only being pitted against a God far more experienced than herself but must also face the rigid heads of New 2  when the Hands of Zeus, a relic integral to establishing peace in New 2,  goes missing.

I read these books months back and didn’t get a chance to review them. But they are so terrific and not many people know about it, so I just want to hold a banner and scream how awesome this trilogy is. Firstly the plot – brilliant concept! Who would’ve thought that Kelly Keaton could take a villain of mythology and bring out her side of the story. Not many people give that kind of importance to the anti heroes and so Kudos to the author for even thinking of such a perspective. All three books were very well thought out and there weren’t any draggy sequences. When New Orleans was destroyed years ago, three founding families came together and rebuilt it as New 2. But the secrets of the three founding families has made it a “weird personnel only” area and even the Government has washed their hands off New 2 & its inhabitants. Ari is really brave for even stepping foot into such a place but soon she grows close to a family of youngsters there – Sebastian, Violet, Crank, Henri and Dub. I think building a house of kids and teens who work for each other was another plus point of the novel. They really help her figure things out.

The romance in the novel revolves around Ari and Sebastian. Which made the third book all the more disheartening. Ari makes a huge mistake and we as readers are left clutching what is left of a shattered heart and mind. Yeah, that’s how much drawn I was to the trilogy. Sebastian’s grandmother who is the head of one of the families is a rather annoying and meddlesome character. I really adored Violet and her fascination with gowns, masks. She made me think of a cute little crocodile, for some reason. The book focuses on Pandora’s story too as well as that of some Greek Gods. I have loved New Orleans ever since The Originals and this book had tons of that, so thumbs up! With a new take on mythology and fantasy, Kelly Keaton deserves a standing ovation for a job so brilliantly done. Overall, one of the best trilogy I’ve read in a long long time.

Ratings – 5 stars on 5.

Mia