Book Review: I thought the adventure would never end

Sumedha Dogra – Book cover

Book: I thought the adventure would never end

Author: Sumedha Dogra

Genre: Fiction, Short stories

Review copy: Himalayan Book Club

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Liked It

Author Sumedha Dogra brings to life tales of nostalgia in an anthology of short stories – I Thought The Adventure Would Never End. The first two stories have female characters – strong and independent. Sanju masi and Sujata, the protagonists in the two stories, are leading lives on their terms. The writer draws up charming imagery of elegant old houses, amidst nature, filled with memories, where her leading ladies indulge in their interests – nurturing plants or writing.

Are they blissful or “bored”; “jaded by pragmatism” or jubilant in a suitable existence that women in their thirties seek? Is it true that “Life stops getting better than it is” for these women? In two tender stories, Sumedha brings forth some existential questions that make us ponder.

When a television-casting agent meets the interesting Ms. Angie, does his life turn upside down? The writer weaves a captivating story in Current Affairs, wherein what seems unconventional may be the practical way to accept life’s truths. A mishap in Goa helps a young mathematics teacher discover shades of his personality. In this catching story, To Integers and beyond, the writer experiments with themes of nostalgia and narrates stories from a school in Goa.

The Last Day of the Burger starts on an enterprising and humorous note, but does it stay that way till the end? As is the penchant with most people, their lives eventually are more ironic and their destinies more tyrannical than they can bear. In childhood play, a young, athletic girl tries hard to find a place in the team of her three brothers and gives Sumedha an energetic tale to tell. The last story in the book, Goodbye, has a line that lyrically sums up the spirit of this collection – “The yellow-colored memories of languorous afternoons spent on the lap of a lover.”

The writer has crafted humane stories with love, and they reflect her power of observation and imagination. The characters are relatable and they charm us, even when we can see where the story is headed. A weak element in this book is the editing. Some stories could have fewer words and the narration could have been better. If we can look past this, then Sumedha’s work is creative and entertaining, and a worthy attempt at storytelling about ordinary people.

Book Review: Stars from the Borderless Sea

Shalini Mullick – Book cover

Book: Stars from the Borderless Sea

Author: Shalini Mullick

Genre: Fiction, Short stories, Romance

Review copy: Himalayan Book Club

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Liked It

The stars manipulate destiny, passion is borderless, and longing is as deep as the sea, in Shalini Mullick’s book of three short stories. Shalini creates stories out of the mundane lives of men and women as they navigate the treacherous shenanigans of their hearts and nagging doubts in their minds. It’s the language of love that strings together the stories of youthful affection maturing into words that can only be contained in handwritten letters.

The stories are built on the vast premise of typical Indian households. The background of all of them is the dramatic transformation of an Independent India, with its still prevalent economic divide and enterprising people. Aroma of dal tadka and saccharine masala chai in a college canteen is juxtaposed against cold coffee and sandwiches in the first two stories. Red chilly pickle and mathris seem to represent the heat of resentment and saltiness in a newly married couple’s life in the third story. Such simple and vibrant details fill the spaces and instill the stories with life. Newspapers feature in each story, giving them a hint of nostalgia.

Shalini’s stories are well-written and have an emotional appeal. They endearingly elaborate on many aspects of life in India. The first story is well-researched in aspects of the Armed forces and the Rajwadas in post-independent India. There is a lyrical quality, a tenderness in the narration that stories of that era inherently possess. The kaleidoscope offers a peek into the many colors and flavors of our rich culture and society.

The second story has a more modern approach. It packs in a lot of elements, as it navigates the emotions of a successful couple and secrets that keep them distant through the years. The third is also centered on a modern working couple. I felt some of the narration was added to bulk up the word count. However, the writing is impeccable and it does not weigh you down.

The plotlines are predictable but generally most romantic stories have a common texture and theme, such is the nature of love. It’s the narration and the style that keeps one engaged. The author successfully keeps the reader involved. This is a good weekend read and will appeal to audiences who want to know more about Indian culture and those who want to read stories closer to home.

Book Review: Midnight Journey of a Seed

Book: Midnight Journey of a Seed

Author: Manish Srivastava

Genre: Poetry, Philosophy, Self-help, Spiritual

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Liked It

The Covid-19 pandemic had us struggling mentally and spiritually because none of us ever thought such a calamity would befall our modern society with so many amenities and scientific backing. Manish Srivastava writes in his poetry collection- Midnight Journey of a Seed

“There is a wild uncharted field

Between what science can explain

And what religion can claim”

With countries, communities, and families grappling with the horrors of a rogue virus of unknown origins, trying to make sense of a cloistered lifestyle bound by lockdowns, covered by masks, Manish is shaken and perturbed. Like many individuals, he takes a deep inward journey. He pens down his thoughts using the techniques of journaling and poetry. Taking cues from spiritual influences in his life and practical experiences as a family man and professional, he creates a book that deserves a space in our bookshelves. The pandemic way of life affected the writer, and the anguish and sensitivity seeped through the pages, both in prose and verse. 

Manish’s book is brave, as it calls out issues of governance. It is triggering because it revives the traumatic months of our world ravaged by the pandemic. Yet, his work is important because we are capable of collective amnesia, and it is imperative for the revival and regeneration of our civilization to remember what we have endured. He says, 

“At 70 cases we were alarmed

At 7 million we have become numb and disengaged”

The reflective writings remind us not to be complacent or casual. He calls upon the endurance and the commitment of our ancestors. We emerge from their seeds – tendrils, shoots, and leaves, with roots bound to the Earth. Manish’s work is meditative. He shares his spiritual practices, encouraging us to invoke a similar empathetic journey. The writing is straightforward, simple, and relatable. The tone is sad, lingering, yet hopeful, and at times even satirical. For how else can a writer shake us from the nonchalance of our precious existence?

The artwork by Sumitra Ahake, a gifted artist, further enhances the contemplative value of this book. Look deep inside each piece of Warli art embedded in seed and reflect on the message in the ink strokes. The artwork, poetry, and prose—all deserve undivided attention—consumed in whole or part. This book endorses the power of resilience and the need for individual awakening to develop a collective consciousness committed to nourishing the seed within us.

Grab your copy for a weekend journey into what we braced in 2020-2021. This book will make you ponder how we must approach 2022 and beyond, in the shadow of the unknown. Manish sums it up in one of his 77 poems:

“Life doesn’t care what we plan —

It gives us what we secretly long

To preserve our essence

In the middle of any storm”

Book Review: First Patients

Book: First Patients

Author: Rod Tanchanco

Genre: Medical NonFiction

Review Copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

The pandemic years have re-instilled curiosity and questions about discovering treatments and vaccines. The book – First Patients by Rod Tanchanco – arrives at an opportune time to quench this curiosity. Rod has compiled a set of 10 stories around various events that led to fascinating and life-changing medical discoveries. From smallpox to AIDs, yellow fever to mold, these carefully selected stories talk about accidental deaths and accidental studies that changed the course of medical history.

The writing is impeccable and takes you back to the time of the incidents. The tone and texture of the stories are engaging and relevant to the timelines of several scientific breakthroughs. A storehouse of information, this book reflects meticulous research with utmost passion for the subject. The writer’s enthusiasm and fascination are evident.

We see how the world of sciences is not only plagued by doubt and dissing of ideas but also by infighting, jealousy, and lobbying. Maybe discoveries benefitting humans would have arrived earlier and with more precision if all had the interest of humanity foremost. While many erudite men clamor for accolades, actual heroes are the commoners who either come across discoveries or are the “First Patients” oft sacrificed on the table of science. Between human avarice and selfless dedication, the population of Earth has survived medical odds.

Rod says in the preface that he wrote this book with “enthrallment, awe, and disbelief that swept me as I probed the ordeal of real people caught in unique medical dilemmas.” There are no other appropriate words to rephrase why one must read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I like to read about works of science and medicine. Even if you know all these stories, the depth and clarity of Rod’s narrative make the book a keepsake. Within each page, you will gain new insights into the field of medical care and knowledge. The book fills the gap by retelling “stories on the patients behind medical milestones” in the last three hundred years.

Book Review: Tech Trends 24/7 And the Impact of Covid-19

Book cover

Book: Tech Trends 24/7 And the Impact of Covid-19

Author: James P. Quinn

Genre: Contemporary, Technology, NonFiction

Review Copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

Tech Trends 24/7 and the Impact of Covid-19 by James Quinn is a relevant book for our technology-infused life. Rendered in a coffee-book format, the book is an impressive work exploring emerging and active technology trends. Quinn has embellished this well-researched work with photographs, surveys, and graphs. The interviews and inputs from leaders in trending technology-based organizations and creators provide inspiring thought-leadership.

James Quinn’s writing is to-the-point and reflects the passion for discovering how technology is transforming our lives. As incessant consumers of social media, with information at our fingertips, we think we understand the world of technology and our future. It may emulate the glossy infrastructure depicted in futuristic movies, but this book helps us understand how this future needs to be designed and executed.

For example, I found it interesting that modern workspaces are dense, but this formula failed with the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing protocols. A global pandemic demands a restructuring of collaborative spaces – from air-conditioning vents to lunch areas. A modern office needs to install touchless entry, voice-activated elevator buttons, and health screening machines when they thought their biometric identification devices were the coolest.

From the Internet of things (IoT) and its role in sustainability to digital twins and their role in user experience, there are more emergent trends and terms that one can keep up with. This book gives a bird’s-eye view of how technology is transforming cities, homes, offices, transportation, and even music and fashion. Technology, art, and creativity have become more interlinked than ever before. It is fascinating how digital twins are being used in the Notre Dame renovation.

The writer throws light on the role of artificial intelligence, robotics, and assistive technology in our daily lives. The underlying theme of the book is the use of technology for sustainability, wellness, and inclusivity. There is much to read and consume in this book as reference material. It is complete and interesting in its current form, but I see the potential of expanding the information into more segments, like educational and recreational infrastructure, healthcare and hospitality, agriculture and manufacturing, and everyone’s favorite – entertainment! A book that makes you want to know more about technology in its various avatars has done its job quite well. I am excited to know how the world will change in the Metaverse. I hope Quinn has plans to write more on this topic.

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