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Book Review: The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal

The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal
 

The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Neer, the head priest of the Himalayas, is troubled by the horrifying visions in his dream. On Ganga Maiyya’s behest, he embarks on a journey to the doomed island of Bali. The island, plagued with cyclic torments of Sekala and Neskala and suffering from constant rainfall, faces an imminent danger of drowning in sea. However, Neer’s power was no match for the strong evil forces that kidnapped the king and the queen, activating the volcano of Mt Agung. With the neighboring king of Java on his toes to attack and conquer the struggling island of Bali, will the gritty prince Erlangga, assisted by Neer, be able to save his kingdom? Read to find out how people turn towards the new dewtas introduced by Neer as the end becomes evident and how Eka-dasa-Rudra helps in arousing the most furious energy of this world, Rudra.
 

The New Dewtas by Suraj Kothiyal
Title: The New Dewtas
Author: Suraj Kothiyal
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing (Oct 17th 2018)
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, India
Read: paperback

Stars: ★★★☆☆
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 
 
 

My Review:

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review. All opinions are honestly mine. 😉

Rating: 3.5/5

Cover: Simple & Shiny, Dark & Bright

Paper and font: Ebony & Ivory

Readability, language: Easy on Eyes & Mind

Why did I pick this book:
1. The author himself called me with a request to review and agreed to an honest review!
2. The book’s premise got my attention. I enjoy Indian Mythological stories and this one for a change involved Indian Gods but was not set in India.

Balians believe in Neskalam-Sekalam, Evil & Good. They believe that an increase in one automatically feeds an increase in the other to keep the balance. The King of Java in a bid to usurp Bali has woken the old Gods and created an imbalance that threatens to destroy the island country.
Neer, a Himalayan Priest has had visions of Bali and a force has driven him to go there to save the island and introduce new gods to them in a bid to save the island country.
Can Neer introduce Balians to new Gods, can new Gods overcome the old Gods? Can Bali be saved?That’s the story.

Influences from Bali

The title ‘The New Dewtas, The Rise of Rudra’, has a Balian influence to its spelling and is appropriate to the story as the tale involves new Gods and Rudra being invoked to save the land. The cover has an Indian Roadside Piratey feel yet it’s good quality and depicts Shiva standing in the middle of a split Balian temple welcoming a new dawn. It’s a dark cover showing the emergence of new light with a blurb that tickles the mind and makes you want to know more of the story.

Based on a popular Balian folklore of Maharishi Markandeya who introduced Hinduism to Bali, The New Dewtas spins it’s own tale of the coming of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to Bali. Suraj Kothiyal through the story gives insight into the original Balian beliefs in ancestral spirits that protected the people, old Gods of myth and legend, and sekala and neskala, the balance between good and evil, the balance between everything actually – as more of one thing must bring about more of the other.

Set on the island of Bali Suraj Kothiyal has used the island, it’s people and its history to write out an adventure story with a prince and a priest fighting evil together. Mt. Agung the volcano, Mt. Sumeru the golden mountain, the gods Rangda and Barong, the mother temple Besakih, and the once-in-a-century Eka Dasa Rudra ritual are a part of this tale.
The book also has well drawn illustrations done by Sankha Banerjee which add to the visualisation of the story.

The Prince and The Priest

Erlangga, the Prince of Bali and Neer, a Himalaya Priest are the main characters of the story. Erlangga is shown as a strong but human character. He puts his island and it’s people above all else and yet he struggles with the idea of fighting his own mother, the Queen who has been bewitched and has transformed into Rangda, the evil witch. Neer is a young priest who must fight various temptations, rise above human failings, and overcome hurdles to spiritually further himself and save the island.

The characters have a lot of potential but I felt that Suraj Kothiyal has not explored them fully. The character detail feels superficial and to the point and most likely the reason why none of the characters made an impression on me. I would have liked to know more about Neer, Erlangga and a lot of the other characters too, like the Empu twins – their backstories, thoughts, motives, interactions,…

What Worked for Me & What Didn’t

The story is laid out well and holds a good pace mostly through out with a pick up towards the climax. I found myself full of anticipation and excitement towards the end and the book did not disappoint.

When I picked up The New Dewtas, I was sceptical about my liking it, the cover at first glance seemed cheap, the author’s note had errors, I wasn’t expecting much from the book. The writing style and language though grew on me and by midpoint I found I was enjoying the writing style; and there were no errors in the actual text of the story. The language is simple and the book reads like a simple Grandma’s bedtime story.

Wherein lies my biggest complaint with the book – it is not detailed enough. There were a lot of events and sub-plots that I would have liked to know more about. A lot of characters are introduced who seem important but it turns out they play trivial roles, like Takala, a girl who shows up as a possible love interest for Neer, but that idea goes nowhere. Sural Kothiyal offers all the information you need but not all that you want. This book has potential to be double the story with lots more action and detail filled in.

As of now though, The New Dewtas is a great light read, a simple tale of good triumphs over evil, and an insight into old Bali culture and tradition. I recommend you read The New Dewtas if you have an interest in mythology/folklore and it’s spin-off stories. Also if you have a thing for Indian Writing.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Suraj Kothiyal, hails from Dehradun with his family roots belonging to the Himalya region. His grandfather, who came to Dehradun from his home in Himalyas at an age of 13, serves as an inspiration for his debut novel, The Lost Devtas. The New Dewtas is his second novel.
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

December 27, 2018   No Comments

Book Review: Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde
 

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Grace Dixie, a young woman from a small town in Texas, has had her heart broken. She decides that the best way to deal with such a situation is to pack her bags and move to a new country. Luck is on her side, and she quickly gets a job as a runner on a documentary being filmed in India.

Thus, begins her roller-coaster ride filled with mad decisions, new friendships, curries, stomach aches and forbidden romance.
 

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde
Title: Goodness Gracious Gracie
Author: Anya Wylde
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Amazon CreateSpace (May 24th 2018)
Genre: Rom-Com, India
Read: ebook

Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 
 
 

My Review:

Note: I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

Cover: Simple and nice but not just ‘it’.

Paper and font: Easy on the eyes.

Readability, language: Simple and Funny.

Why did I pick this book: I absolutely love Anya Wylde’s writing style with a touch of Wodehouse, RK Narayan, Heyer, and her very own sense of humour that has me rolling with laughter. Her books are the perfect ‘pick-me-up’. Now, on to Goodness Gracious Gracie.

Like Indian food, it’s like nothing else

Gracie, runs away from her family vacation to join the crew of a documentary film being shot on an Indian business tycoon. Her best friend is getting engaged; she had presumed they would have a happily ever after and now she’s heart broken. She’s running away from it all to India, only the tycoon youngest son is smoulderingly handsome and nothing goes according to Gracie’s plans.

An alliterative title, Goodness Gracious Gracie rolls of the tongue nicely and suits the heroine and theme perfectly. The cover though nice, didn’t please me over much. I’ve loved Wylde’s previous covers and this one I feel lacks the oomph.

Goodness Gracious Gracie is a cliched romance plot thrown into the pan with Indian spices and served with a tadka. From the moment the heroine meets the hero at the start of the book, I knew what was coming, the heated chemistry, the stolen moments, the denial, the resistance, the final submission… it’s all there, and yet like Indian food, it’s like nothing else.

An ‘Indianess’ not seen often

Like her previous book in the Monsoon Series, Love Muffin and Chai Latte, Goodness Gracious Gracie is also set in India, in Mumbai and Goa during the peak of the Monsoon. Anya Wylde uses Indian people, our culture, the climate & weather, the cities and all that’s Indian to further her story. Her grasp of India and it’s nuances has me impressed.

There is an ‘Indianess’ to her writing, an understanding of India not seen often in non-Indian writers and it shows in her Indian characters. Gracie Dixie is a Texan gal, and half the crew is a Irish but everyone else in Indian. The hero Veer is a tall, dark and handsome millionaire, kind, thoughtful and family oriented, the man of many an Indian girl’s dreams.

His family seems perfectly cut out of an Ekta Kapoor serial – Paramjeet, a patriarchal father who’ll do anything to further his business, Ranjeet, a good-for-nothing son who doles out profound wisdom, a second son Cuckoo, who’s happy with a simple life, Natasha, a rebellious self-made daughter fighting the patriarchy and Veer, the dutiful youngest son, poised to take over the empire.

A romantic comedy with a strong feminist streak

The heroine, Gracie Dixie, has all the aplomb and niceness of a Texan girl. She embraces and experiences India with a naivety that Anya Wylde uses to hilarious effect. I’m still laughing about her first experience of a Mumbai flood and her fear of drowning in knee-deep water.

Goodness Gracious Gracie is a romantic comedy with a strong feminist streak. All the women in the story have strong characters and issues they must battle. Paramjeet’s Irish second wife, Liz who will forever be a foreigner in the land she has adopted, ice queen Mia, who has little soft spots in her hard exterior, fiery Natasha, who’s rebellion on a matter of prickle may cost her everything and Smita, who loves Ranjeet but cannot tell him.

Parting thoughts

Anya Wylde has drawn out an engaging tale, a feel good romance with the right amount of steaminess, adventure, drama and excitement. I couldn’t put the book down once I started. The book sets a good pace until climax with relevant sub-plots and intrigues that add to the story.

Why are you still here? Go get Goodness Gracious Gracie and get started. And while your at it, buy Anya Wylde’s other books too, you’re not going to be stopping at one. 😀

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Anya Wylde lives in Ireland along with her husband and a fat French poodle (now on a diet). She can cook a mean curry, and her idea of exercise is occasionally stretching her toes. She holds a degree in English literature and adores reading and writing. She blogs at anyawylde.blogspot.in.

 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

May 29, 2018   No Comments

Amazon Original Breathe: Why You Should Watch

Amazon Original Breathe

Amazon Original Breathe

TV Must Change!

 
5 years ago, Che and I gave up on TV, we realised we were not watching anything worthwhile, mostly we were surfing channels, killing time. However this move didn’t reduce our screen time, nah, but it did now become more quality screen time as we became selective about what we watched, even in what we binge watched.

Having access to content though isn’t enough, as most good content is non-Indian. I’ve grown up to Hum-Log, Nukkad, Hum Panch, Udaan, Malgudi Days and the like, and have longed for good, meaningful entertainment for many years, ever since Kyuki… So… Ofcourse I’m thrilled to see Amazon and the like investing in making a series of Indian ‘Original Series’.

Giants like Amazon investing in Originals in India, ups the ante, it makes for more varied quality entertainment, gives a lot of actors and artists more prospects and opportunities, and finally gives the Sony’s and Zee’s a run for their money and TRP’s. I’d like to see small production houses that have been creating great content on Youtube getting the backing of these big boys, I’d like to see them create more of their brand of content. We so so need good Indian entertainment!

Second Indian Amazon Original Breathe

 
Moving on, the second Indian Amazon Original Breathe has finished airing and I have thoughts on it, but lets start with a gist of the story.

Amazon Original Breathe

Amazon Original Breathe

Josh, a 6 year old with -AB negative blood has a congenital lung disease. He has 6 months to live unless he can get a transplant. However there are obstacles, Josh’s blood group is rare and he is 4th on the recipient list. His father Danny, who had promised his mother before she died to take care of their son, decides to take matters into his own hands and move his son up the ladder by killing donors.

Parallel Plot: Kabir Sawant, – an alcoholic cop, in the middle of a divorce and recovering from his daughter’s tragic death – starts to notice discrepancies in the deaths of citizens. He starts to investigate and as he tracks down the killer, he finds himself getting personally involved.

Anything more might be a spoiler…

Breathe Amazon Prime Original

Breathe Amazon Prime Original

My Two Paise…

 
Let’s start at the beginning. The core idea of Breathe itself is ludicrous. That a man killing so many people just to save his son makes for a good story, is plain silly. But let’s keep the unbelievable away for a bit…

Danny finds out that Josh is 4th of the recipient list, his reaction – start killing donors. But why not kill recipients? Wouldn’t they be the more acceptable deaths? Wouldn’t that move Josh up the ladder faster? Why kill absolutely healthy people?

Why does a cop notice deaths of regular people? Yes, there are irregularities, but really, in a city like Mumbai would these deaths standout? And would an alcoholic cop with severe emotional trauma be able to notice? Really? Are we saying alcohol promotes productivity?

That said, I watched Breathe right to the end, all 8 episodes. I had to know the end, would they do the cliched, would they end with the only societally acceptable proper way out? Breathe didn’t disappoint.

Watching 8 episodes wasn’t traumatic, frankly I quite enjoyed it. The series is strong, dark, hard and in your face. The ideas are ludicrous yes, but the series is entertaining and acting good, even if a little over done. The plot rolls out well and I found myself wanting to see the next part, each time an episode ended.

The story is unbelievable, I’d never do what Danny chose to, the idea wouldn’t even occur to me, the fact that it’s expressed in so much detail in Breathe disturbs me. I’d have chosen to live out what’s left to it’s fullest and go with a bang, and leave the recipient list to destiny. But, that wouldn’t make for a story and that’s the reason you should watch the Amazon Original Breathe.

We need more Original content that is Indian, we need more varied content, more intelligent content, series length that is tied by storylines and not TRP’s, stories that are relevant to our time and lives. That is why more people must watch Breathe, the Amazon Prime Original and share their views, for these series must be encouraged and supported. TV must change!

I’ve been strong with my words and expressions, so let me be clear, I’d give Breathe 3.5/5, a sure watch. The freedom of imagination is a crucial freedom, what may be ludicrous in my imagination world can be real in another’s. So, this world of Breathe could be real and when seen that way, this Amazon Original Series, Breathe is entertainment packed!

February 28, 2018   No Comments