A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

What I thought about The Man called Ove

‘Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say,’ said Ove.

Set in Sweden, this story of your everyday person and the things they face in life is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. The author takes us on a journey through Ove’s life, a short duration after his wife dies and while he is contemplating committing suicide to join her. Ove is a grumpy old man, who seems to put people off with his attitude. Little does anyone know that underneath that hard exterior, there is a wonderful man inside!

A perfectionist, Ove expects things to be a certain way, to happen in a certain way. He has a routine and he expects to keep it. When he is suddenly out of a job, he is thrown off center for a while. Add to this the death of the one person who truly understood him and accepted him for who he is and I am sure that you can understand Ove’s state of mind. If not, read on! This book is truly worth it.

We are introduced to an intriguing set of characters who make this story more colorful. Parvaneh, a pregnant lady with two children and a weird husband, seems to take it upon herself to bring Ove out of his shell. As Ove sets out everyday with the idea of killing himself, something happens to prevent it and make him postpone by a day, each day. A stubborn man, Ove has a set way of doing things and he follows the rules. He has come up through sheer hard-work and determination and all theses experiences seem to have shaped him. The entry of his wife into his life proves to add some color into it, but just enough for her to bring out the best in him.

This story shows us all sides of life and how it shapes a person and their attitude. We are shown how Ove has grown and how the people in his life have affected him. The story goes back and forth, thus ensuring that we get all parts of the story. The man called Ove, has a lot to say and a lot to teach us. It’s up to us to understand this and learn. We are also shown a side of him where he has made friends and lost them over something that ideally wouldn’t matter much to us. With a set mind and ideals, Ove is as stubborn as one can be. This story is about how to break out of this and adapt to the changes in the world around you.

The supporting characters in this story are well crafted and seek to bring out different shades of life. They are from different backgrounds, and show us various kinds of lifestyles and thought processes. The children are delightful and it is partially their innocence, coupled with Parvaneh’s bossy nature that seeks to bring Ove out of his shell. As he begins to help people again, frankly speaking, he is forced to, it changes him once more and gives him a new purpose in life.

A well-written novel, the author brings out the truth behind every person’s life, the hardships they face and the ease with which they can handle it when surrounded with people who love and support them. The simplicity of the plot and the depth of the characters make this a brilliant read.

Cover Reveal: Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

~ Cover Reveal ~
Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
12th July, 2017
Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?
About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
This Cover Reveal is brought to you by Book Review Tours

 

Book Blitz: Love, Murder and Mayhem – an Anthology edited by Russ Colchamiro

~ Book Blitz ~
Love, Murder & Mayhem
 
About the Book
Love science fiction stories that all include elements ofLove, Murder & Mayhem?
 
Then welcome to the latest anthology from Crazy 8 Press! This amazing collection from 15 all-star authors will delight you with superheros and supervillains. AIs, off-worlders, and space cruisers. We’ve also got private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travelers, aliens and monsters—and one DuckBob!
 
With tales ranging from wild and wacky to dark and gritty to heartbreaking and fun, take the deadly leap with authors Meriah Crawford, Paige Daniels, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Lois Spangler, Patrick Thomas, and editor Russ
Colchamiro.

 
You’ll never look at Love, Murder & Mayhem the same way again—and that’s just the way we like it.
 
 
About the Editor:
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.
As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.
 
 

Take a short and fun trip in the Yellow Bus with Giggly Bear!

About the Book:

Giggly Bear's Fun Trip in the Yellow Bus

A Fun Safety Rhyme for Young Readers

Did you know that children are safer riding the yellow school bus than in their parent’s vehicle?

Climb aboard and hear Giggly Bear and his friends teach kids valuable lessons on how to ride the school bus safely.

Giggly Bear’s Fun Trip in the Yellow Bus is the third book in the series Let’s Learn while Playing.

Children 2-6 year old will rhyme away to safety while learning new concepts and building vocabulary in this fun yellow ride.

Fans of Pete the Cat and The Pout-Pout Fish series don’t want to miss this adventure.

My Thoughts:

This is a simple enough read and a rather quick one. The author focusses on the importance of wearing seat-belts in the bus and being safe.

However, though the various parts rhyme, there is one part which keeps repeating throughout. Also, there is not a lot of detail about the circumstances of the trip or what happens when they reach their destination. We are only introduced to two main characters and one of them, Giggly Bear is the main character. There is no indication as to why that is his name and I assume it is not really important to know that! The author touches upon the topic of safety at a surface level but gives enough information and stress on the topic

Overall, this book is decent and the illustrations are captivating enough, though very less in number. The story is easy to read and understand and children will definitely enjoy this book and learn something from it, in spite of the lack of detail or a longer plot!

Book Review of The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards by Steve LeBel

About the Book:

Gods vs. Wizards ~ an epic struggle for survival

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…

My Thoughts:

 In this next book of ‘The Universe Builders’, Bernie now has a job and he is working on creating universes to please their customers. This book takes off from where the last left off, with the main characters now out of school and trying to find their footing in the commercial world. It is wonderful to see how the characters have grown and changed. If you have read the previous book(s), you’d understand this. If not, here is a brief idea of the basic plot.

Bernie and his friends are young gods. They have just completed God school where they learnt the art of creating universes, how to create life and how to find out what are the elements that when combined, would sustain life. In this book, Bernie has to restore the production of a particular plant on a planet. When Bernie arrives on the planet, he finds that there is a lot more going on. As he teams up with his friends to try to figure out a solution, he is faced with problems from the people of the planet. This story is also one of discovery and understanding, of strong bonds and friendship and trust. We watch them grow and mature a little, while Bernie’s cloud becomes naughtier by the minute!

A well-written novel, this book proves to be fun to read and is more mature in the nature of the plot as compared to the previous story. There the focus was on introducing the characters and making us familiar with them and the world. Now, it is more focused on the emotional depth of the characters and the plot. The story moves quickly and it is nice to read about a developing relationship between Bernie and Susie, which most of you would have seen coming. An entertaining concept, the author brings out a different perspective on life and creation.

Everyone who enjoys a good read in the fantasy genre would really enjoy this book and the others in the series!

Check out Voice Verso’s latest publication: Who Owns Mhow? by P. Narahari and Miss. Pervin Jahangir

Who Owns Mhow?

Who Owns Mhow?

Authored by – P. Narahari (ex-Collector of Indore) & Pervin Jahangir

Genre – Political/Academics

eBook Published at – VoiceVerso.com

About the Book:

Who Owns Mhow? is the first hand experience of an IAS officer Mr. P. Narahari & his fellow friend Miss P. Jehangir about small town named Mhow ( abbreviation for Military headquarters of War). This book out poured the anecdotes from P. Narhari’s posting as an SDM in 2014 to the very heart of central India. It gives us the detailed and insightful understanding of the entire social, political, geographical and topological first hand account of the formulation of Mhow. One of the most important task for Sub Division Officer(SDO) Revenue & Sub Division Manager(SDM), Mhow is liasoning with the Army. Since, it was the cantonment and Army area, the discussion in the entire book anecdotes upon the interaction of civilians & non civilians living and finding a neutral ground to build the socioeconomic upfront for the town. In this book and ex -SDM and now posted as the collector of Indore, Madhya Pradesh; showcases the very front view with in depth understanding of many civilians were seen running pillar to post as resumptions were being done by the Army. This book will be of interest for all the original inhabitants of Mhow, the civilians who own Mhow & the non-civilian temporary residents. This book can be of academic interest because of primary sources of data such as Gazetteers of British, Holkar & Indian governments. This book can be of interest for Research Fellows on Mhow.

This inspired the authors to come up with this book.

Book Buying Links:

Kindle – US

Kindle – India
Kobo
Kindle – UK
Barnes & Nobles
Smashwords

About Voice Verso:

Voice Verso is  an innovative Startup that provides eBook Publishing & marketplace for authors. It also serves as a social networking platform for authors & readers too.

Using their proprietor DIY (Do it Yourself) Drag & Drop flipbook based writing canvas, authors can interact & publish their eBooks & sell them

online. If you wish to try out the platform and kickstart your eBook Publishing journey, you can request an invite.

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Breathing Two Worlds by Ruchira Khanna

 
About the Book:

Neena Arya, a Delhi-born goes abroad for further studies and decides to settle down there. Determined to be a ‘somebody’ from a ‘nobody’ she blends with the Americans via the accent and their mannerisms while having a live-in relationship with her European boyfriend, Adan Somoza.
When illness hits home, Neena rushes to meet her ailing dad. Tragedy strikes and amidst the mingling with relatives and friends, she finds herself suffocated with the two different cultures that she has been breathing since she moved to the United States. How will she strike a balance between both the cultures as she continues to support her widowed mother? Will she be able to do justice to her personal and professional life after the loss?
 
Amidst the adjusting she bonds with an ally and learns about ties beyond blood. On what grounds will she be able to form an invisible thread that she has longed for since childhood?
 
Breathing Two Worlds ventures into cultures and ethnicity allowing Neena to ponder upon her foundation and priorities.
 
Available on Amazon
 
Book Trailer: 

 
Excerpt:
 
“Oh!” the Mom answered, but could not contain her curiosity with one hand holding the hyper toddler and the other on her hip she could not resist, “You two don’t look like brother-sister, hmmm. So, what is your relationship?” she inquired with a slight smile in a soft voice but without any inhibition. A handful of seniors sitting in the same room observed all the drama and nodded to each other while their fingers were moving on the Tulsi neck beads.
 
Neena rolled her eyes and thought to herself, “Jeez! We Indians are always darn inquisitive.”
Nikhil immediately got up and started walking towards the dining area. This was happening to them for the umpteenth time, and he was noaw tired of clarifying things. He had lived in this country for half a decade now and still he could never understand the fascination Indians had for marriage and children. 
 
Neena was confused at first because it was unlike Nikhil to be so rude. On the contrary, sometimes Neena referred to him on lessons in patience but today it was different. But then she didn’t have a choice; she felt it was rude to walk away from the young mother leaving the conversation unanswered. Moreover given Indian mentality in all possibility, she might even follow them till she had a convincing answer to her question. 
 
 
About the Author:

Ruchira Khanna, a biochemist turned writer, left her homeland of India to study in America, where she obtained her Master’s degree in Biochemistry from SJSU and a degree in Technical Writing from UC Berkeley.
 
After finishing her studies, Ruchira worked as a biochemist at a Silicon Valley startup for five years. After the birth of her son, Ruchira took a job as a technical writer, so that she could work from home. Soon, she began doing freelance writing work as well.
 
Her love of writing grew and she started working on her own books. After four years of freelancing, Ruchira published her first book, a fiction novel for adults called Choices.
 
Then came the children’s book The Adventures of Alex and Angelo: The Mystery of the Missing Iguana. She got a thumb’s up review from Kirkus Reviews.
 
In January 2016, she has published her second fictional novel Voyagers into the Unknown. It talks about the quest for happiness as the heavy hearted tourists travel miles from different parts of the world to Raj Touristry in Agra, India. Return to their respective home with a healed heart. This book talks about their journey!
 
In Breathing Two Worlds, Ruchira talks about ethnicity and cultures, and helps to strike a balance via a fiction-drama novel as her characters breathe two worlds.
 
In addition to writing books, she is a holistic healer associated with Stanford Healing Partners and also maintains a blog of daily mantras on Blogspot, called Abracabadra. Ruchira currently resides in California with her family.
Find her on: Website Blog

 

Review: The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

About the Book:

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)

Blessed by the sacred Gauriparvat, Mahishmathi is an empire of abundance. The powerful kingdom is flourishing under its king, who enjoys the support and loyalty of his subjects, down to his lowly slaves. But is everything really as it appears, or is the empire hiding its own dirty secret?

Orphaned at a young age and wrenched away from her foster family, Sivagami is waiting for the day she can avenge the death of her beloved father, cruelly branded a traitor. Her enemy? None other than the king of Mahishmathi. With unflinching belief in her father’s innocence, the fiery young orphan is driven to clear his name and destroy the empire of Mahishmathi against all odds. How far can she go in her audacious journey?

From the pen of masterful storyteller and bestselling author Anand Neelakantan, comes The Rise of Sivagami, the first book in the series Baahubali: Before the Beginning. A tale of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal, the revelations in The Rise of Sivagami will grip the reader and not let go.

My Thoughts:

I am sure all of you out there have watched Baahubali 1 and 2. Most of us have come to love the characters but as with most movies, we do not get to know some of the characters well. In this case, with the focus of the movie plot on Baahubali (first the father and then the son – who share the same second name), we are introduced to some very strong and compelling characters about whom we don’t know much.

This book, the first in a trilogy, seeks to close the gaps and give us an insight into those characters who definitely need to be explained. The major questions of – Who are they? Where are they from? How did they get to where they are today? – are brought up and the author seeks to give us the answers.

Sivagami, the strong-willed lady, who is ruthless with her decisions, is a woman who brings out the curiosity in people. Since the movies do not give us anything about her or how she came to be the Queen, this book tells us her story. A girl from humble beginnings, with a thirst for revenge, Sivagami is portrayed as head strong and determined. She takes her time to plot and plan, showing us the strength and cunning in her nature while at the same time, we are shown how much she cares for her friends and can go to any length to protect them.

The book also talks about Kattappa in his youth, at a time when he is just starting out, along with intricate details about his life, his father and brother. It is a completely different person that we are shown, which might take you by surprise, but remember, he is still an unsure youth, trying to understand and find his place in the world. His part of the story, running parallel, talks about his struggle to accept the way the world is.

This prequel has a lot of subplots and twists, bringing out the darkness of the times and the conspiracies and corruption behind the doors of the kingdom. Everyone has an agenda and something to hide. The characters are all portrayed in shades of grey, making us believe that they aren’t as bad as they actually are. Though the story is well written, there are many times when many of the characters introduced do not inspire empathy, in-spite of the dire circumstances. There is so much that seems to be cluttered together into this first part. It feels more like a rant on the system than a portrayal of emotions that arise due to the circumstances, with the nobles and the slaves, and then those who take advantage of and abuse their power!

Pushing these flaws to the side, the story has immense potential and brings out a feeling of nostalgia and a slight sense of satisfaction of knowing who these characters are. Of course, this is just the beginning, there is more to come!

 

Review: A Character in Reality by Nicholas Bridgman

Self Aware? Not  really.

Image result for a character in reality

‘A Character in Reality’ begins with Robert Gladstone, a fictional detective who becomes self-aware. He realizes that his actions are controlled by a narrator. He starts to communicate with the narrator and enters the real world. The story follows his journey in the real world as he struggles to get used to alien concepts such as liberty, and unrestrained human emotion.

The writing is lucid and is often crisp with a distinct lack of desire to be descriptive and verbose. While this makes the story relatively easy to follow, the relative minimalism in the work is hampered by significant flaws. At several points in the narrative, the first word which springs to mind is ‘superficial’. The lack of character development makes the driving motives of several characters extremely sketchy. The narrator in the story, rather ironically comes across as a rather unimaginative, incompetent author who conveniently swing from compassion to abject selfishness on an ad hoc basis.

His monolithic plot lines seem to leave no space for normal emotional interactions, which conveniently places Robert Gladstone in a position where he is forced to confront unrestrained human emotion for the first time. Even if this were overlooked, the subsequent experiments with human emotion come across as wooden and forced. At several points, there are missed opportunities to develop incidents into a thoughtful exploration of the issues covered. The point at which Gladstone confronts the narrator, threatening to kill him if he doesn’t reflect and the subsequent reconciliation take place over the course of a mere paragraph or two, merely highlighting the superficiality of the narrative, rather than the minimalist approach.

The latter half of the book seeks to incorporate issues related to immigrant rights, and the plot shifts to an election cycle where the legal status of Robert becomes the most significant issue. This portion largely suffers from the superficiality which carries over from the previous half and comes across as a half-hearted attempt to incorporate a pressing real-world issue into the narrative. The author deals with the sensitive issues of the partisan divide and immigrant rights in a highly reductionist manner, playing up traditional dichotomies without ever furthering the plot convincingly.

A Character in Reality struggles with a lucid narrative that fails to adequately capture the essence of self-awareness. There are several interesting plot lines, which aren’t developed. It largely feels like a missed opportunity. A little more character development coupled with a coherent plot line would have gone a long way towards making Nicholas Bridgman’s book an excellent read.

Review: The Vegetarian – Han Kang

Written by Han Kang, The Vegetarian has been translated into English by Deborah Smith.

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Before my wife became a vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.

This is how Han Kang’s second work available in English begins. The Vegetarian, a tale in three parts, follows Yeong Hye’s decision to become a vegetarian following a recurring dream. Each part is narrated from a different first person perspective. What starts off as a seemingly innocuous transition in dietary habits slowly evolves into a frightening tale of deprivation.

The first part, ‘The Vegetarian’ is narrated from the perspective of Mr. Cheong, Yeong Hye’s husband, a laid back person with a predilection for an unremarkable lifestyle. This part of the story traces his struggle to reconcile his dormant wife’s rapid transition from a docile housewife to a strong, aloof vegetarian who refuses to consume meat. He makes multiple attempts to try to restore normalcy, first through subtle coercion and then by involving her family.

I think that this part stands out because of Kang’s ability to subtly bring out the characteristics of a patriarchal society and its inability to deal with concepts such as mental health. This is epitomized in Cheong’s reaction to his wife’s deteriorating physical state as her paranoia becomes worse. He comments, in two separate instances,

“In any other case, it was nothing but sheer obstinacy for a wife to go against her husband’s wishes as mine had done”

“I resisted the temptation to indulge in introspection. This strange situation had nothing to do with me”

The ability of these simple sentences to paint a clear picture of a typical self-centred patriarch should not be underestimated. To deal with an issue which is often the subject of verbose description with pleasing brevity that doesn’t eschew clarity is something anyone reading this book should look out for. Towards the end of this part, Yeong-Hye attempts to commit suicide following her father’s attempt to feed her meat forcefully.

 The second part, ‘Mongolian Mark’ is written from the perspective of Yeong-Hye’s sister’s husband. He is an artist, largely dependent on his successful wife’s business. This section of the book is arguably the best portion of Kang’s work. The narrative starts off after Yeong-Hye’s suicide attempt and her subsequent divorce from her husband. ‘Mongolian Mark’ sees Yeong-Hye eschew other facets of ‘normal life’ as she continues to be haunted by dreams which she attributes to her life as a non-vegetarian.

In-Hye’s husband develops a strong attraction to the idea of using Yeong-Hye as a subject in his artistic work. The narrative entices the reader with several sexual overtones, coupled with an insight into an artist’s obsessive, consuming drive to consummate the ideas which float in their head. Readers should look out for this conflict between propriety, sexual desire, and artistic drive. A portion which stands out for me is the short incident of marital rape which occurs, when In-Hye’s husband, driven by visions of his desire for Yeong-Hye forces his wife to have sex with him, even as she cries.

“She might have lain there sobbing for hours in the darkness. He didn’t know”

“But the next morning, she hadn’t acted any different from usual”

The questions this part raises, about the validity of consent from individuals who are struggling with disabilities and marital rape are not only relevant questions but are dealt with in a manner which seems driven towards introspection, as opposed to impact. In my opinion, this is what truly makes ‘The Vegetarian’ a riveting read.

If this is not enough of an endorsement of Han Kang’s work, the promise of an equally excellent third part ‘Flaming Trees’, told from the perspective of In-Hye should appeal to you. In-Hye, the woman who seems to epitomize the catch phrase that ‘women can have it all’ goes through a gamut of emotions as she deals with her divorce and Yeong-Hye’s deterioration in an institution.

What stands out about ‘The Vegetarian’, is the ability to use a relatively terse storyline to effectively tell a compelling story and illustrate pertinent social issues, thus making it a book that should grace your bookshelf.