The Gunslinger by Suchita Agarwal: Book Review

Title: The Gunslinger

Author: Suchita Agarwal

Genre: Western, Fiction

The Gunslinger is a fast paced, action packed Western with trigger happy gunslingers, chases and unusual relationships. It has a wonderful storyline and subplots that are tied up neatly towards the end.

The story

Lola, a ten year old is on the run after her parents are murdered brutally. She finds an unexpected protector in Hunter, the dreaded Gunslinger. It seems hate and revenge would catch up with them very soon as they run from impossible situations and formidable enemies. However, there are surprises in store. People who have been thought dead show up, enemies turn protectors and the final battle for revenge is much deeper and goes back much in time.

Review

The story sweeps you along in a great rush of words. It starts right in the middle of the action and works backwards and forwards with such ease that you are taken along with the flow of words.

Like a true western, it has great action- guns, killings, chases and the pace never slackens. The backstory too has a brevity that would be typical of a laconic gunslinger. There is a detachment as well, especially in the scenes that show violence and again that suits the story and the setting very well.

The first few pages sets the stage for a seemingly simple chase and escape story, with a generous dose of revenge but as the story moves on, it surprised me with its twists and turns.

“She should have known Eastwoods took their quests, love and betrayal very seriously.”

And herein begins the saga that has its genesis before Lola’s birth to the present-day.

Nature’s elements are present in full form. This element of dependence on and oneness with nature is a recurring element.

“When you live with nature, you learn to read the signs. And as a reward, nature warns you when trouble is headed your way.”

The story has a very satisfying closure in terms of redemption, both material and emotional. The relationship of Hunter and the kid is very delicately handled, bringing out the nuances of the unusual and unexpected attachment between them.

What works well

The setting is superbly drawn out. The Gunslinger has every element of a Western thriller. The landscape, the chases and the fights add to a feeling of authenticity for the reader.

The characters are very well developed, not just in terms of their physical characteristics and linguistic quirks but also in an emotional sense. There are little touches that make the characters come alive for you- Lincoln and his weak eyesight, Lanky whose tongue has been cut off, the anger that Lola gives in to by throwing chairs at windows.

There is a wit that shines through the narration. The names of places, Highso and Lowso and their apparent discrepancies, characters like Twitchy-variant and boy-variant made me appreciate the writing even more.

The language is beautiful. Every now and then, it slips into the lyrical.

“She could hear the house scraping, like an old man trying to settle in an equally old chair.”

I liked the brevity and the efficiency of words. The writing is very crisp; there is absolutely no verbosity to slow the pace.

“Once they were sure she was safe, and out of earshot, the good cheer was thrown away like a mask at the end of a masquerade ball. Lines were drawn, Maggie with Fences, Romeo undecided, and Hunter, back to being the lone wolf that he was so comfortable being.”

Verdict

A fast paced thriller with an adroit plotline and memorable characters, The Gunslinger delivers the very best that a Western can.

You can download the book here. It is free for a very limited time.

Flowered Bytes by Anand Narayanswamy: Book Review

Title: Flowered Bytes

Author: Anand Narayanswamy

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir

Flowered Bytes by Anand Narayanswamy is a collection of musings, memories and viewpoints threaded together by the author’s unique perspective and experiences.

Book Blurb

Flowered Bytes is all about stories, which captures your mind. The book is not a big novel with lengthy pages but it includes crisp, concise and succinct short stories with a wide range of themes.

About the Author

Anand Narayanaswamy works as a freelance writer, blogger, reviewer and social media influencer and is based in Kerala.
Anand is the recipient of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award from 2002 to 2011. He has his own blog and has worked as a social media influencer for several brands.

Review

Flowered Bytes reads like the memoir it is supposed to be, with incidents and impressions making their way into the book. It is a collection of 16 anecdotes, succinct and driving home the point without much meandering.
There is some very sensible advice in Building a Healthy Lifestyle. It’s true that a positive attitude along with proper diet and exercise works wonders.
The author mentions the songs that are close to his heart in Relax your Body explaining how music can be therapeutic.
My Memorable Vacation Trip talks about visits to his native place and how various modes of transport gets him there. Flights, trains, rickety bus rides take him to the peaceful destination that he escapes to every year to unwind.
Combating Women Violence, Honest Civil Servant, Dream of a Clean India are some of the chapters that talk about social menances and how these can be countered.
There is a mention of career and the ups and downs he faced in his chosen field but he persevered against all odds and even against the advice of the people around him. It is inspiring to read about his conviction and how walking in faith and hard work eventually lead to success.
Optimism for the Future, Overcoming Fear with Confidence close the book on a positive and upbeat note.

What works well

The writing style is candid and the stories/incidents are honest. It is a narrative that is from-the-heart and gives a real glimpse into the author’s life and beliefs.
Since the book is a collection of musings, you can pick the chapters at random to read. I also had no issue going away and getting back to the book because it did not affect the flow of my reading. Every story/chapter is complete in itself.
The book cover is interesting and attractive to look. In fact, it was the cover that prompted me to pick the book to read because I was intrigued about the content.

What does not work so well

The book is a collection of incidents and opinions but at times it seems to jump from one topic to another. It would have worked better if the book were divided into sections like personal musings, travel anecdotes, societal issues etc.
The title of the book does not give anything away. Even after reading the book I was not clear about the meaning of the title. This leads to a certain disconnect of the content and the presentation to the reader about that content.

Verdict

Read Flowered Bytes for a relaxed, candid read about the author’s life and viewpoints.

Download the book from the virtual library at the Blogchatter website. Free for a limited time.

The Contemplation of a Joker by Manas Mukul: Book Review

Title: The Contemplation of a Joker

Author: Manas Mukul

Genre: Short Stories

The Contemplation of a Joker is a collection of 12 tales, with the overarching theme of love and loss. It touches on the various facets in relationships, about the coming together and the moving apart.

Review

The book starts off well with ‘Made for Each Other‘, a story that spans an entire lifetime. There is a deep pathos in love. I could also relate very well to the cultural background of this one and it stayed my favourite through the reading.

Most precious gift of God‘ is a lovely little tale of sibling love. There are others that are impressive, ‘Somebody that I Used to Know, ‘The Shortest Story of my Life‘ and ‘The Absence of her Fragrance‘, among others.

There are stories which have more rounded characters, ‘The First 100 kisses‘ and ‘With Love, from Russia‘.

The writing style of the book is very good. The language is easy to understand; it is colloquial and contemporary which gives the book a kind of lightness and relatability.

Most characters are drawn well, are likeable and the reader can root for them.

The stories are written with a lot of passion and emotion. There is much detail which draws the reader in.

However, I found a sameness in the theme, throughout the book. Also, the stories seem like the retelling of incidents. In many places, they feel half finished, with either the beginning or the middle missing.

The cover art is good, colourful, drawing the reader’s attention and the style elements put it into sync with the title. But the book fails to come up to the explanation of the word ‘Joker’ in the title.

About the Author

Mukul always liked stories but he loves telling them even more. He believes things are better said than kept behind curtains; that emotions are meaningful with expressions, and
so are thoughts which are of no use till they have words to support them.

You can connect with him on his blog-The Contemplation of a Joker.

You can write to him at mukul.manas@gmail.com

Social media links:

Twitter: @manasmukul
Instagram
Facebook

Verdict

Love stories with a twist. For the ones who have loved deeply and the ones who dream of a deep love.

Download the book for free(for a limited period) from the Blogchatter website.

The Life Lived by Preeti Negi: Book Review

Title: The Life Lived… Memories of an Ordinary

Author: Preeti Negi

Genre: Memoir

The Life Lived is a lovely memoir, a collage of memories from various stages of the author’s life. The simplicity and the candid emotions are touching and the incidents are very relatable.

Review

The Life Lived is a collection of true stories from the author’s life, arranged alphabetically through A-Z. These memories range from her childhood, spanning her adolescence, young adulthood and her recent past.

The stories are very interesting; some are quite unexpected and others made me think of similar things happening to me.

I fell in love with farmhouses and secret places in Attic Raiders. Birthday on My Own showcases a child’s vulnerability. Reading of Preeti’s friends, I almost started missing my own circle. There are mentions of sibling love and rivalry. I also enjoyed reading about the festivals and the celebrations.

The places are brought alive in the book, be it her hometown or her maternal grandparents’ farmhouse or her paternal grandparents’ house in the hills. There are places that she has traveled to. I really enjoyed reading about the Kedarnath Yatra in Om Namah Shivaya.

Questions that I Never Asked made me think of all the times I have been at that kind of crossroads. I also loved the Tiny Tales of the ‘Baby Lions’. The Youngest Memories made me cast around in my own mind for mine.

What Works Well

The cover art is very good and quite suited to the content of the book.

Preeti’s writing style is very clear and she has a knack of bringing situations and incidents to life for the reader. The emotions are so candid that I felt an instant connection with her memories. There is also a thread of hilarity in many of the situations which made me enjoy reading about the incidents.

The best part is that the book is a bunch of stories, that you need not read alphabetically or in a sequence (even though I did go chronologically). Read the first few chapters and you can ease into her life, the main people and the flavour of her childhood and adolescence.

By the time I finished reading the book, I felt that I had known Preeti for a long time, such was the relatability of the book.

About the Author

Preeti Negi belongs to the beautiful state of Uttaranchal, India. Born and brought up in a small town of Uttar Pradesh, she discovered her love for books at an early age. Her love for reading enhanced her day-dreaming habit and she eventually started weaving stories in her own virtual world.

She can be found occasionally tweeting @preetispanorama or visiting her page
on Facebook. You can definitely catch her at Preeti’s Panorama.

Verdict

A collection of memories, some sweet, some tangy, making up a life lived fully. Read this well written memoir to relive your own memories.

Buy The Life Lived…Memories of an Ordinary from Amazon.