The Winds of Hastinapur – Sharath Komarraju – A second reading


Given that I am going to read the second book of The Hastinapur series by Sharath Komarraju (The Rise of Hastinapur) sometime soon as an ‘early reader’ of the book, I thought I would quickly re-read the first one in the series The Winds of Hastinapur so that I could brush up my memories of the story so far. And man, did this book take away my breath yet again or what.

As I have mentioned in my earlier review [Link to review], the first half of the book sets the stage for what is truly an unique retelling of the Mahabharata, reimagining the origins to quite a large extent while staying extremely honest both to the epic itself and the characters as well. While the character motivations for their actions are probably a little different when compared to the original epic, the fact that they don’t stray too far from the original premise of Veda Vyasa’s epic shows the reverence that the author has for it.

The following are some of the more striking incidents in the plot and its treatment that stayed back with me during the second reading of this book.

1- The extreme sacrifices made by the Ladies of the River in ensuring that they lived out their lives burdened with the memories of all the earlier Ladies of the River before them. Even to imagine a situation like this gives me a headache. As it is, memories (good or bad) from one’s own lifetime are bad enough to give me a headache, then just imagine living out a lifetime with memories of more than one previous lives.

2- Devavrata’s farsightedness and ability to put the greater good of the greater number of people when he decided to leave Meru and search his destiny with his father Shantanu in Hastina.

3- Satyavati, also called Matsyagandha, her thoughts on virginity and to paraphrase “She knew now that that was virginity; being pure in thought and action, being unafraid as long as your actions have nothing immoral about them; and taking pride in the gifts that the Gods have given you, and spit back on the shame that the world insisted on heaping upon you.

4- Ironical situations – The price Satyavati pays for having extracted the promise from Devavrata, despite having both her sons ascend the throne of Hastina, both of them didn’t even last for more than couple of years as the ruler. Despite keeping his oath of never ascending the throne of Hastina himself and ruling the kingdom, the irony of Devavrata having to run the kingdom all by himself for more than his fair share of time.

5-In case you wondered why the book is called what it is called, its last line has the answer to this question.

In a nutshell, if you are still wondering if this book is worth reading, then you just haven’t read either my original review or this post carefully enough.

Don’t wait anymore, purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].

Panther – Chhimi Tenduf La – Book Review

PantherGoodreads blurb: I see you. Legs like toothpicks, body and face all ribs and cheekbones. And that hair. Come on, what is it? Like friggin’ barbed wire. I see you with a hand-me-down cracked bat creaming a leather ball, in a sock, hanging from the branch of a mango tree.

Being accepted into an elite international school on a cricket scholarship doesn’t mean your life is going to change. Except it does, because hunky Indika – I for Indika, I for Incredible – takes you under his wing, drags you to posh restaurants and shows you pictures from glossy magazines of women who … well, never mind, that’s not the point. The point is: if your best friend snogs your girlfriend, can he still be Incredible? Was he ever? But don’t sweat the small stuff. There are cricket matches to win, examinations to pass, a horrifying past to forget, a sinister schoolmaster to avoid … and, of course, a first kiss to finally experience. Prabu’s life is never going to be the same again.

Funny, diamond-sharp and unapologetic, Panther is a novel about that familiar, fractured passage to adulthood that can make us magnificent if it does not kill us.


While all authors (at least the good ones) need to have the ability to harness the ‘voice’ of their main protagonists and antagonists, very few ones successfully manage to convince their readers so comprehensively that the lines between the author and his characters’ voices blur. The really good authors do so in a manner that the readers begin to believe that the author is narrating his own story and from his own autobiographical experiences rather than writing a novel or a story which is fully fictional in nature.

With Panther, the author Chhimi Tenduf-La almost managed to convince me that he had a childhood which was spent in a Sri Lankan Tamil rebel fighter camp, that he was separated from his parents and taken there, that he had deep dark secrets during these years that still sear his memories and scare him till date, that he developed this wonderful friendship with a Sinhala ‘wannabe Sachin Tendulkar’ and that the two of them had some really good times and a few bad times as well at school together. The lines between where the author is telling us a story versus where he seems to get autobiographical are so blurred that for most part of the book, I felt that Prabu, the protagonist was the author as well. That is how well the author has managed to get under the skin of this particular character.

As the blurb and the above paragraph states, this book is essentially a ‘coming of age’ story of Prabu, a young Tamil rebel fighter in Sri Lanka who is undergoing the process of rehabilitation in a country were a bitter, cruel and terrible civil war has ended and is currently coming to terms with its new multi-cultural reality. Cricket seems to be Prabu’s only way out of the messy situation he finds himself in at that point in time and it provides him with a gateway to an education and a school life which he wouldn’t have even imagined possible otherwise. But there’s another deeper, darker motivation behind him joining school as well, and that to me, is that makes this book more serious and way darker than it looks and reads at the outset.

Suffice to say that Panther gives us an unique insight into a whole generation of teenagers and youngsters who have grown up on both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war and provides readers with at least a vague idea of both perspectives, while being interesting and fun enough to read without getting all too serious about it.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link]


A copy of this book was provided to me by the author, Chhimi Tenduf-La expecting nothing whatsoever in return. Thanks Chhimi, this book was as enjoyable, if not more, than your earlier publication, The Amazing Racist whose review I had published here [Link to review]

Hadal – CP Surendran – Book Review

HadalGoodreads blurb: Taking a break from her job in Maldives, young, attractive and unhappily married Miriam lands in Trivandrum, with the idea of writing a novel. Honey Kumar is a police officer in charge of visa extension, on a punishment transfer from Delhi to Trivandrum for graft. Miriam wants to extend her visa. Honey Kumar demands sex in return. When Miriam refuses to comply, he fabricates an espionage charge against her. That Miriam is sleeping with Paul Roy, director of the Indian Space Research Centre, renders Honey Kumar’s job of trapping her easier.

Inspired by a true-life incident, this is an incisive critique of the rot at the heart of India and the corruption, physical and spiritual, that permeates the structures of authority, and how that deep institutional breakdown impacts individual lives.


Picture this; Miriam is a disgruntled Maldivian Govt Employee who is also a wannabe author who has just quit her job, packed her bags, turned her back on her husband and landed up in Kerala with the intention of penning down her first novel. Oh, and before I forget, she has also had a brief affair with Paul Roy, senior scientist with ISRO who by the way is married and has an eleven year old son and also resides in Trivandrum, Kerala.

Throw into this mix, Honey Kumar, inspector of police who is on a punishment transfer to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office, Trivandrum for having been caught accepting a bribe, and struggling really hard to settle down into his new role, the new city and overall with his new life in general.

What you get when circumstances bring these three in direct contact with each other forms the crux of Hadal by CP Surendran. Although the premise is based on a true story which I somewhat vaguely recollect reading in the newspapers some years ago, the truth is that this book deals more with the characters, their personalities, the myriad motivations for their actions and passion rather than with the true incident on which it is supposedly based.

And this works both ways for the book. While the fact that it is based on true incidents lends quite a bit of credibility to what otherwise seems quite an incredible plot by itself, the fact that the author chose to delve more into the individual characters and their sketches more than the happenings means that this book somewhat gets into philosophical and psychological territory more than I expected it to. In fact, after a point in time, the reader tends to forget the actual goings on in the book and would probably start to concentrate more on the individual characters and their mental make-up more than anything else. If you are the kind of reader who likes such detailed character sketches in your novels, then you would probably enjoy this book quite a bit. However, if you are the sort that likes a good yarn and puts a premium on the happenings more than the characters themselves, then this book might just about disappoint you.

The ending of the book is quite surprising, and quite frankly is worth the trouble of actually reading the book till the very end. While it is quite anti-climactic in nature, readers surely won’t feel cheated or short-changed by the author’s choice as to how to end the book.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review of the same.

Money Wise – Sharath Komarraju – Book Review

MoneyWiseGoodreads blurb: Do you obsess about money and yet not talk about it with parents or friends – and barely enough with the spouse? Do you worry about how much you have, how much you need, what you need to do to get more of it?

The world of money is bewildering. The biggest investment you will ever make is towards your financial education – and this easy-to-read guide provides just that. It answers vital questions such as:

– Where does money come from?

– Why do prices go up every year?

– How do I get out of debt?

– Should I invest in the stock market?

– What is the value of gold in our financial system?

– How do I make my investment portfolio shock-proof?

Practical, fun and straight to the point, Money Wise will equip you with the tools to manage your money with confidence and competence.


In all my years of reading books (and that’s more than quite a few years I must say) I have developed a steady aversion to the ‘self help’ genre of books for more than few reasons. The primary one among them being that the authors rarely tend to personalize advice and instead resort to generalizing and universalizing the concepts explained and the advice given. It’s almost as if the ‘one size fits all’ approach supersedes everything else in this genre of books. And to be honest, I don’t blame the authors and publishers for such books, because after all they do target the mass market and in such markets there is hardly, if at all any, personalization that can be done in books of this genre. It is in such a scenario that Money Wise: The Aam Aadmi’s Guide to Wealth and Financial Freedom comes as a breath of fresh air.

Coming from the stable of Sharath Komarraju whose earlier works in fiction I have thoroughly enjoyed (read my reviews of his books at this link) I simply had to read this book and the fact that Sharath is a friend of mine (virtual only, mind you) and offered a free review copy meant that I went ahead and read it. And as is the norm with him, he didn’t disappoint me one bit with this book.

Given that Sharath himself has quit his IT job and has been engaged full time in authoring books over the past four years gave this book a lot of credibility in that he actually has personal experience when it comes to talking about money and how to manage it successfully. Plus, the fact that I actually know all the concepts that he has talked about in the book meant that it served as a good reminder of all of them and got me thinking about how I could take some simple steps to ensure that I manage my wealth better.

While the book itself deals with the basics of personal finance and gives us pointers on the various asset classes such as real estate, gold, bonds, stock and cash itself, what I found particularly endearing about it was the fact that the author chose the simplest of terms to explain all of them and that too in a conversational manner. Particular care has been taken to ensure that the book doesn’t get too technical or jargon heavy and is clearly targeting the layman reader who at this point in time is probably even hesitating to take baby steps towards the direction of managing his personal wealth. I am quite sure that all readers of this book, be it a hardcore finance professional or a complete newbie to finance, will surely have something positive to take away from it.

The first few chapters of the book deal with money, putting it in perspective and the basics of personal finance and are dealt with in an extremely light-handed fashion, ensuring that readers are not put off by the sheer depth of information that the rest of the book contains. And Sharath goes on to tackle the tricky parts of personal finance, portfolio allocation, the various asset classes and related information in an extremely easy to understand manner, and this to me, is where this book scores high compared to the countless others in this genre.

To me, the last chapter about ‘The Permanent Portfolio’ struck a chord which prompted me to give a serious re-think about what I was doing with my money. If you want to find out what Sharath is talking about in this chapter, go on, buy the book and read it in its entirety. Trust me when I say this, this book is truly worth the investment of time, money and effort you put into it and I personally guarantee manifold returns for this investment.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author in return for a honest and unbiased review.

Mumbai Avengers – S Hussain Zaidi – Book Review

MumbaiAvengersGoodreads blurb: Five years after 26/11 – the siege of terror in Mumbai that brought the country to its knees – India still seeks justice. The terrorists who planned it have disappeared into the darkness they emerged from and Mumbai seethes with fury. All the Indian government has achieved is the establishment of counter-terrorism committees.

But one man will stop at nothing in his quest to avenge the dastardly act. Retired Lt Gen. Sayed Ali Waris of the Indian army masterminds a covert mission with a team of daredevil agents: a sharp policeman, a suave tech expert, a cerebral scientist and two battle-hardened army officers. They strike like lightning even as they are pursued by the Pakistani army and the ISI, combing through every land and possibility in pursuit of the deadly killers. From Sweden to Istanbul, through Dubai, Pakistan and Singapore, they annihilate the perpetrators with single-minded focus, veiling the deaths as natural ones to save the Indian government diplomatic and political embarrassment. The stakes have never been higher.

This is a nifty, edge-of-your seat thriller with an intricate plot and jaw-dropping twists. As Waris and his team navigate untold dangers towards a nail-biting climax, will Mumbai finally be avenged?


At the outset let me be honest in confessing that I picked up Mumbai Avengers by S Hussain Zaidi believing it to be a non-fictional book which dealt with the Mumbai underworld, which is the genre that this author generally dabbles with (all his previous books have been on this subject), and I thought it probably had to do something with a few vigilante gangsters in Mumbai avenging some wrong done to them. It therefore came as quite a surprise when I read the blurb and figured out that this was the rare occasion on which the author had actually penned a fictional book, that too in the spy thriller genre, and the blurb more than interested me in what the book might have to offer.

And when the action ended, and the dust settled after the breakneck pace at which the book hurtled along, I have to say that I am immensely satisfied and truly am left licking my lips in anticipation of more such fictional spy thrillers from the author if he so deigns to oblige his fans (of which he will have many more after this book for sure).

As the blurb reads, a group of covert agents who are not even authorized by the Indian Government or any of their agencies, under the able leadership of Retd Lt Gen Sayed Ali Waris of the Indian army, decide to stop kowtowing the Government line and wait for justice to be done to the main perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. A couple of battle hardened army men, a brutish policeman, a tech savvy Bengali and a femme fatale who also doubles up as the cyber/cerebral scientist; quite the motley crowd, aren’t they? And under the guidance of Waris, they set off on a journey of revenge which takes them from Delhi to Istanbul to Stockholm to Birmingham to Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan.

Now, if the places and cities mentioned in the above paragraph were not enough to pique your interest, the fact that their targets were the five masterminds behind the planning and execution of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks will surely get you interested. The author’s expertise in writing about the underworld, and his wide contacts with people from intelligence agencies and the armed forces means that he has left no stone unturned when it comes to describing the revenge plans in great detail. In fact, as one reads the book it is quite hard to believe that this book is the author’s first attempt in this genre, and the book itself has the feel of a seasoned veteran author of this genre. This speaks volumes for the amount of homework that he has done and the sheer amount of groundwork that he has put into this book itself.

The narrative is taut and doesn’t allow readers to pause even for a moment to catch their breath. All the action in the narrative is extremely believable and the author does have the gift to allow the readers to visualize the scenes as if they are happening right in front of their very own eyes. And in books in this genre, both the above play a pivotal role in ensuring that the book ends  up being a good one, and not just another mediocre one.

Click here to purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review.