Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review : Secretly Yours

Vikrant Khanna has penned a teenage romantic thriller in his latest offering "Secretly Yours " . He has two bestsellers to his credit, namely "When Life Tricked Me "  & "Love Lasts Forever " . He loves music .He writes poems as well. He knows to play the guitar. Vikrant Khanna is a resident of  New Delhi. He is employed in the merchant navy, as a captain.

This latest book is published by Penguin Books. Need anything else be said ? ! The cover shows a girls' face with a lost look in her eyes. There is a reflection as well.The reflection is on glass , it appears.The reflection is hazy . The background is bluish with shades of buff colour.The book has 271 pages. The book is dedicated to the author's family members at the start of the novel.It is followed by  the prologue in which the author talks about love & its profound effects. There are sixty two chapters in all. Lastly comes the extremely  short epilogue.The chapters are very short .Most of them are two - three pages long.The longest chapter is five pages. This egged me on to complete the novel faster & faster. 

This is the story of Sahil, a seventeen year old teenager. He is an excellent guitar player.He writes songs. He is part of a band with his friends.He just manages to survive schools & studies in the same order as all teenagers do. He is nagged by his worried grandma.He resents his family & himself.And this prods him now & then to self destruction.

He meets a girl, Anya at the Shimla festival.And he falls for her, hook , line & sinker. And she says that she cannot fall in love with him. Sahil fails to find any logic in Anya's statement. And he feels that Anya is the chosen one for him. Anya is all sweetness personified at times.At other times, she dispapears as mysteriously as she appears. Sahil  is baffled & yet ,cannot ask Anya for fear of losing her. Sahil meets with an accident. As he recovers slowly, he learns that he is able to read minds. And then , there is  no holding back.He tries to read Anya's mind. He is able to read it.Can he decipher ,what he reads ? Sahil is bewildered as he tries to unravel Anya's thoughts.He is afraid. What is his fear ? What happens to the Sahil Anya love story ? Are they made for each other ?   Does their love remain same or does it get stronger ? What is Anya's secret ? What about her friends ? And what about the grotesque murders which are happening all over Shimla ? Who is the murderer ? And what could be the reason behind the murders ? All this & more, makes for  an easy read .

The teenage angst is nicely captured. The teenagers are constantly eating junk & this is aptly described in the story. The rebel without a cause title  is  for the teenagers & Sahil is one teenage  rebel,a true representative of generation next. And though ,I have visited Shimla, I feel that I have missed so many places worth visiting there. Hence, need to visit soon.

The novel has its share of wry humour " germ filled eatables " & "what goes on in the minds of teachers while deciding on a place for a picnic " .Its another matter, that teenagers enjoy germ infested eatables as also picnics .I could relate to all the teenage rants as I have a teenager at home. This novel has given me a glimpse into  the world of teenagers .Thank you, BlogAdda for that !

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Spotlight : Dancing With Demons

Nidhie Sharma


Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.

Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.

When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?

Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.

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Watch It...


The Book Club introduces Nidhie Sharma to you

1. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you start writing?

My journey into the world of storytelling began way before I graduated with honours in English literature and was offered scholarship by the university. The early formative years took me into the world of the Panchatantra and classic English literature while I also watched my mother paint. At the same time, I got introduced to the joys of adventure sports too since my father was in the Armed forces. On hindsight, I think these early influences shaped my storytelling ability, albeit in a visual way.

I read voraciously through my teenage years and graduated to Booker prize winning novels quickly. I think reading good literature is hugely instrumental in widening mental horizons and giving the reader an ability to comprehend complex characters, their emotional and physical graphs, along with a unique insight into the geo-political landscape of the times the novel is set in. All of this is a fantastic bedrock and training ground for good writing.

I started experimenting with poetry and short stories initially, and a lot of the early writing during my childhood happened under the open sky in my garden, lying on the grass, dreaming about heroes, action and adventure.

At the age of twelve, I had written what might now be called a Novella. It was about the daily exploits of a girl and her group of friends and how they explored a new part of the nearby jungle every day, in search of wild animals, thrills, and adventure. It was autobiographical of course and my delighted parents had it printed and bound into a small book. They treasure it to this day.

Studying English literature in college helped me enormously in comprehending and interpreting works of literature and soon after, I started to write book reviews for national newspapers. I also wrote short stories every single day during those college years and I think that has helped me hone my craft.

I realize now that writing a drama set in the world of combat sports, which most critics have called visual and action packed, is no accident. Dancing with Demons is a sum total of all my early influences and experiences.

2. How would you describe your book Dancing with Demons? What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

‘Dancing with Demons’ is a gripping romance drama set against the backdrop of combat sports in India. It is the story of two fallen souls who must vanquish their inner demons to become the people they were destined to be. When the story begins, Karan Pratap Singh, an  angst-ridden boxer and the mysterious and volatile Sonia Kapoor are angry and emotionally damaged by their pasts and when fate throws them together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. "It was some night. Thunder and lightning playing, chasing one another like two furtive, carefree lovers, oblivious to the havoc they were wrecking. Sonia put her hand out of the window as the bus started to hurtle down the highway, to Mumbai. A sliver of lightning fell on the trees just ahead of them, setting a large bush on fire. Then thunder roared again... Perhaps this was an appropriate setting for what was to follow...two tumultuous lives on a head-on collision course.”

This book explores if redemption is possible without forgiveness and also delves into the depth and unsaid connection that Karan and Sonia have with each other. In fact, Sonia’s poems in the novel throw light not only on self-love and forgiveness but also on the passionate and intense relationship that these two anti-heroes share.

“I know I’m not easy to love
On somedays there’s no God above
And maybe it’s a messed up world
Into which we have been hurled
And maybe I remind you of you
So Love yourself darling, to love me too”

Overcoming one's limitations or demons is essential in order to fulfill one's true potential. That is the real core of this story. The good thing is, millions of people find a way to battle and overcome their inner demons. So there is hope for everyone and 'Dancing with Demons' is about that hope. It's about the light at the end of the tunnel.

This novel is a fast-paced story of love, loss and resurrection for both Karan and Sonia.  

3. What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

I was brought up in an army background that exposes you to adventure and the outdoors very early on. Having studied in various army schools across India, I trained in karate, horse-riding and attended adventure camps. Camping, trekking, hiking along with all the unforgettable misadventures shaped my love for the outdoors.

As a teenager, I watched live boxing matches as well. They fascinated me no end. Two men beating the hell out of each other while spectators egged them on. I noticed that every time a boxer bled in the ring, the audience cheered even louder. Human reaction to violence only shows how deep and primal that instinct is and this totally fascinated me back then. I started to watch boxing championships on the internet. Soon I was following the sport like a fan and started going for the big fights to Madison square garden while I was studying filmmaking in New York. I met boxers and coaches out of curiosity and interest. I spent time inside boxing gyms and also started to train and spar.

Personally, I love the raw athleticism in this sport and the fact that it is a skillful craft, needing strategy and forethought . Also, when the boxers fight, it is almost like a dance in the ring, lyrical and rhythmic, and that has drawn me to it visually as well. Given my exposure and interests, I think the stage to write Dancing with Demons, was set long ago.

4. What inspires you to write?

A lot of things actually but my mother’s abstract paintings have been my greatest inspiration. Almost nothing inspires me more than a work of art, even a great piece of music for that matter. The outdoors and the sight of a rising sun sometimes triggers the need to put pen to paper. Since I enjoy observing life and am particularly fascinated by human duality and contradictions, I spend a lot of time creating complex and flawed characters and then throwing them into a world I am familiar with. The writing that follows is automatically organic and un-manipulated. Ultimately for me, it’s almost always about exploring and learning something new through the process of creation.

5. And do you ever have a writer's block? What do you do to get rid of it?

I am very passionate about the stories I want to tell and on most days I don’t feel the block but when I do, I think discipline helps. I’ve realized through personal experience that showing up in front of that laptop every single day is the only way to beat it.

6. Who are your favourite writers and poets and have they in anyway motivated you to be better at your craft? If so, how?

My favorite writers are Rohinton Mistry, Ian Mcewan, Maya Angelou, Kiran Desai, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Samuel Beckett, John Donne and T.S Eliot, to name a few. The unparalleled quality of their writing is a huge motivation for any young storyteller and I’m no exception. Like I mentioned earlier, my journey into the world of writing began with reading good literature and I strive every single day to better my craft.

7. Apart from writing what are your other interests?

I enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports, photography, watching plays and music of all genres.

8. You are also a filmmaker, how do you juggle between both the crafts?

The first step for a Writer-Director like me is to put an interesting story in place and once that is accomplished, then it’s all about visually interpreting and executing it.

As a filmmaker, I think I  am lucky to have a unique advantage by virtue of being a novelist too. It has given me a deeper understanding of story, characterization, plot, subplots, genres, mood and tone,  all of which are an essential part of building an engaging narrative, be it for a movie or a novel. I also have greater understanding of the source material (the novel) and the training to adapt it for the screen. Infact, I have already finished adapting ‘Dancing with Demons’ into a screenplay and thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Although Cinema and literature are principally two different mediums, both aim at telling an interesting story well and despite their own unique challenges and audiences, I think it is possible to straddle them equally well if one has the talent, passion and training for storytelling.

Personally, I fell blessed that I am able to juggle between these two crafts and I’m having a lot of fun doing so.

9. Finally, what is your next novel going to be about and where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I write every single day and am sure the next story will find me soon enough.

The journey for ‘Dancing with Demons’ is still on and my full focus and energies at the moment are on directing the film.

I am a filmmaker-novelist and that’s all I know, so that’s where you’ll find me even five years down the line.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The two child norm ? !

This blog post was published on Women's Web  on 16th July, 2016.

There was a small news item in the Times of India dated 3rd July, 2016.It related to Bhopal  .It read , " 3 peons breach MPs-2 child norm ,sacked." It stated that they were removed from service at Damoh District Court as the year long enquiry determined that they had more than two children.It went to to say that more peons would be facing similar cation soon.The two chiuld rule was added to MP Civil Service rules in 2000.One of the peons who has been sacked has alleged that similar rule for candidates for panchayat elections was cahnged in 2005 to favour netas. The sacked employee said that many government employees in MP would face similar action.

This news item  is very  revealing. It depicts what we have known all along.And  that is ,commoners like you, me & us have to follow all rules, by -rules ,orders, laws,etal .And our netas,even Panchayat level ones  & above ( which includes all ...MLAs, MPs ) who are our law makers can flout all of them . Ooops sorry,  get them amended, modified ,etc to suit themselves. After all , they make the law / s , orders, by laws, rules etc  .So its quite obvious that they must have  ( some ,in fact ) actually, all the advantage over aam aadmi.And this starts from Panchayat itself as we in India believe in grassroot democracy...sabka saath, , sabka vikas.

  Chandrababu Naidu has been reported to have said that rich should opt for more than one child .He has opined that children are"  future assets" of the country. And why should rich have more kids because , perhaps, he feels that State need not bother to look after children of rich kids. Kids of poor will have to survive on the mercies of the government.And government has no mercy to show anyway.

And then there is  BJP MP ,Sakshi Maharaj who opines that each & every Hindu women must give birth to a minimum number of four children.This is a must, to protect Hindu religion as per Sakshi Maharaj.

And this number of children each Hindu woman must have, was further raised to five by BJP West Bengal leader, Shyamal Goswami .This all makes it so very confusing.

This means  peons must observe two child norm.Panchayat members & obviously MLAs, MPs, need not follow two child norm. Rich people should have more than one child.Hindu women must beget four or five or better still , nine children ( to accomodate views of  Sakshi Maharaj as also  Shyamal Goswami ) .

Our leaders have been spurring people to have more kids.Family planning be damned. So while one State government has two child norm in service rules, the head of another State government goads people to have more offspring.This means government & legislature are at loggerheads.Or worse, one State goes by two child norm , another state says two child norm should give way.This means finally , federalism is here to stay. And each state that makes up India can do as it wants officially.

And if people want family planning , they must be in MP.If well to do people kids more than one, they must reside in Chandrababu Naidu's Seema   Andhra.And Hindu Women on a pan India basis must beget four & five & cumulatively nine children .One point that needs clarity is if Hindu women in Seema Andra is poor, can she beget more than one child ? And in MP, can a Hindu woman ( not a panchayat member nor an MLA nor an MP  )  give birth to more than two children ? And in such disputes which will arise, which court will have jurisdiction ? Maybe new judicial forums will be set up.And these extra kid s that are begot as a result of this confusion  will head these courts.Because, in India more than three crore cases were pending towards the end of December, 2014.Hence , these new cases arising out of such disputes would come up only much later .

Government advertises family planning by way of  , " Pehla bacha abhi nahi, do ke baad kabhi nahi " .It means, first child after a certain time & none after the second child.And then to confound & confuse, the leaders say that two kids is just the beginning and not the end.

And all this will leave the women very exhausted .These same kids will transform into terrible teens .Just surviving one is so tough & to withstand four, five and nine is just impossible.Changing religion and or sex would be the away out then !

And I just can't follow why women have to bear the brunt of producing kids who would protect Hindu religion.Where does that leave men ? Men should protest ( as they protest everytime women scale higher & newer heights )  that they want to play their roles in this security set up.So , they must delve into our scriptures & determine how even men can give birth This will put dreams of Sakshi Maharaj & Shyamal Goswami on the fast track ! And our nation on to  the winding road to nowhere.

This blog post was published on Countercurrents website  on 13th July, 2016.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Blitz : The Secret of God's Son


Usha Narayanan


'The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita!

May the world perish!
May the world perish!'

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga.

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. To journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. And to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back-his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts . . . He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery.

And there is one powerful weapon still -- the secret surrounding his origin. Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity!

Grab your copy @

About the author


Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a light-hearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, which was published in July 2015. 

When she’s not juggling travel, writing and interviews, Usha reads everything from thrillers to romances, provided her cat isn’t fast asleep on her Kindle. She would love to hear from her readers here: 

You can stalk her @

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Media mentions

Praise for Pradyumna: Son of Krishna

Usha Narayanan has taken a quantum leap . . . to the outright spine-tingling narrative from the leaves of a time before. This book is Indian writing coming of age" Femina

"Like the best of our mythological tales, this too, is a multilayered one . . .There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception" The Hindu

"This engrossing tale takes readers on a mythological saga" Times of India

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