Tuesday, May 27, 2014


My Review

I started reading in the night and could not stop reading till I finished Sumeetha Manikandan’s book at 1.30 am. All I can say is The Perfect Groom is a perfect novel with all the right ingredients.

Nithya is the elder daughter of a widow and they are dependent on an uncle and aunt who are quite nasty. When Nithya gets married to Ashok in the USA, everyone insists that she is the luckiest woman on earth as all expenses are taken care of by the groom’s family. But is that the truth?

There is Vasu who has also been ill-treated by the same uncle-aunt duo. His is a rags-to-riches story. He goes to California to receive an award. That’s where he meets Nithya after a ten-year gap. Nithya is excited, but feels that she has no right to be. Will she ever find happiness?

From Chennai to California to Mumbai, Sumeetha Manikandan has woven a lovely story about Nithya’s life in the first person. Having lived in Chennai myself and also having undergone immense interference from a number of relatives, I could so relate to the circumstances surrounding the widow and her young daughters. There is an excellent twist in the tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The best part was that the author has not shown any of the main characters as bad, just different. Beautifully penned! Congratulations Sumeetha!

And why would Ashok get married if he is not interested in his wife? You will have to read the novel to find out.


The Perfect Groom by Sumeetha Manikandan

The Blurb

Very little has gone right in Nithya’s young life. So, when a proposal from a young, handsome NRI comes along, her mother jumps at the opportunity and packs her daughter off to the US with her perfect groom.

Nithya seems to have settled in with Ashok, ostensibly happy, if as yet childless, in her new life. When an old flame comes back into her life, however, the cracks in her perfect marriage begin to show…

Meet the Creator of THE PERFECT GROOM

Meet Sumeetha Manikandan, the creator of The Perfect Groom published by Indireads. This is her debut novella and I must say that I found the story very interesting. It’s also very well written for a first time author. 

Sundari Venkatraman: Hi Sumeetha Manikandan, welcome to Flaming Sun. Give a description of your novel THE PERFECT GROOM ‘twitter’ style, in 140 characters. 

Sumeetha Manikandan: Meet Nithya, the bride of #ThePerfectGroom, a woman who rises above her #socialmileau to reclaim life on her own terms @Indireads #romance

SV: They say that debut novels generally verge on a lot of incidents from the author’s life, at least the characteristics of the protagonists. How much of The Perfect Groom follows yours? 

SM: Very true. Though The Perfect Groom is based on a true incident, I found it comfortable to set it within a background which I am familiar with. And many of my own characteristics are mirrored in Nithya’s.

SV: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? A full time author or...? 

SM: I would love to be a full time author. 

SV: The Perfect Groom is your debut novella. I read that you got the idea from something a friend said. For myself, I loved the Tamil setting in Mylapore that I could so relate to. What about your next book? I saw the title “These Lines of Mehendi”. Does that mean it is set in North India? Can you share something about this new venture?

SM: These lines of Mehendi is not set in the north. It is a story about a mehendi artist who lives in Mylapore. It is a typical romance. I will reveal more about it soon :)

SV: The Perfect Groom is a romance. Do you plan to continue writing in the same genre or…?

SM: I would be writing more romance novels in future. I am also toying with a plot idea for a historical fiction, which is in the research stage. 

SV: Any pitfalls that you would like to warn new writers about? 

SM: Have an open mind for bad reviews and rejection slips. I have always believed that we just need to keep doing what we really love to do and we will get our due, one day. Write, write and write more. 

Thank you very much Sumeetha for that interesting view into a writer’s life. I hope you enjoyed answering as much as I enjoyed asking the questions. Wish you all the best in your writing ventures. Looking forward to your new romance novel, These Lines of Mehendi

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Meet the author

The Author's Thoughts

An author and a freelance writer, Sumeetha Manikandan has been writing for many years now. After working in dotcom companies, like Sulekha for over a decade, she started freelancing from home. 

Her debut novella, 'The Perfect Groom' was initially written in a script format, which was later converted into a novella for Indireads. The Perfect Groom touches a taboo subject that is most often shrouded in secret whispers and exclamations in the tambrahm community. Inspired by a real anecdote, 'The Perfect Groom' is in parts the true story of a girl who rose above myriad challenges to make her own way in life.
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Saturday, May 24, 2014


While people are in awe of Superstar Rajni's stunts, can you imagine what his animated avatar can do?

Cast: Animation by Rajnikanth, Deepika Padukone, Jackie Shroff, Nassar, Shobana
Director: Soundarya Rajnikanth Ashwin

The 3D animation film opened yesterday. Venkat and I were keen to see it as we are ardent fans of Rajnikanth and went to Cinemax Sion late last night. The theatre was almost empty and we thought that maybe it was because people prefer the cheaper shows during the week. After seeing the film, we believe the reason could be something else altogether.


The film begins with the child Rana running away from his hometown of Kottaipattinam and taking refuge in Kalingapuri ruled by Raja Mahendra (Jackie Shroff). Rana trains to be a warrior and grows up (now Rajnikanth) and becomes the commander-in-chief of his forces. But Rana has a different agenda. He has come to Kalingapuri to free the wartime slaves belonging to his hometown. He does just that, making an enemy of Raja Mahendra and his son. He goes back to Kottaipattinam to become the commander of the armies there. But there’s a snitch. Raja Rishikodagan (Nassar) of Kottaipattinam has a bone to pick with Rana and maybe his whole family.

I am not going to say more here as I might give away the full story.


A human Rajnikanth could be a superhero in most of his movies. Can you imagine what an animated Super Star Rajni can do? At least a million times as much! His daughter Soundarya has made her father out to be a supreme hero - not just as Rana but also as Kochadaiiyaan, Rana’s father. You will have to watch the film to see the stunts both the characters perform.

The animation was good, but just that. Rajnikanth’s animated version of Rana is almost perfect except for his fat thighs. Why? He’s perfect as Kochadaiiyaan.

Deepika Padukone’s Vadhana looked extremely ugly in the first few scenes. She improved after a while. If the director could make out that she needed to be made better, why not go back and make the changes from the beginning?

All the promos had made me expect too much maybe. When I read that the makers of Avatar had been involved, I was too keen to catch the film. But all my expectations fell flat. I was expecting background scenes in the likes of Kung Fu Panda. Well, I wouldn’t say they were bad, but they could have been way better.

The story was quite good, but there was a glitch. There was a brother to Rana in the background. He never turned up till the last scene. And where did he suddenly spring from? Or is that a prelude to a sequel? That comes to the question: will such a film work with the Indian audience? I seriously doubt.

The war scenes were excellent with both horses and elephants looking gorgeous; but the song and dance sequences truly grated on my nerves.

The best part was Kochadaiiyan’s dance on Shivaratri. It was simply amazing and yet again the Superstar scores.

I have given an extra star for the efforts put in by Soundarya Rajnikanth Ashwin in her first attempt at directing an animated feature.

VERDICT: Watch it at your own risk.



Friday, May 16, 2014

Blog Tour: THE EVOLUTION OF GODS by Ajay Kansal

 The Evolution of Gods

The Evolution of Gods by Dr. Ajay Kansal

The Scientific Origin of Divinity and Religions

 The Evolution of Gods
Book Details

Title and Author: The Evolution of Gods: The Scientific Origin of Divinity and Religions by Dr. Ajay Kansal
Print Length: 214 Pages
Publication Date: August 2012
Language: English
Genre: Non-Fiction, Religion and Spirituality, Scientific Study, Atheism


Is there really a God out there, or is it something that human created so we could have something or someone to fear in cases where we go wrong? 

Did gods create humanity or did humans create gods?

Human interest in the origin of humankind has been documented throughout the recorded history. Did some divine power create the first couple? Religious scriptures the world over aver that one or the other god gave birth to humans, but science has not yet identified any supernatural power that created and governed human beings. Did primeval humans come up with the idea of gods to help them cope with their fears? Could it be that they attributed natural phenomena — unfathomable and frightening to them — to the working of invisible gods? 

The Evolution of Gods uses modern science to explain why, when and how religions and gods became the desirable explanations of the inexplicable events. It describes anthropological and historical facts about the evolution of religions and gods, in a simple and straightforward manner, to assert that human imagination created gods, and not the other way around.

The book begins with the epoch when the human race came into being, between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago. Around 100,000 years ago, humans invented language and began to discuss and analyze each happening around them. Whatever they could not comprehend, their priest attributed to some unseen power. At one point in time, we do not know exactly when it happened, humankind began an activity called worship. Humans began to worship each seen or unseen power, which was beyond their control, but could either harm or help them. They believed that worship protected them and sought the blessings of that power. Priests all over the world invented almost identical methods of worship, such as folding their hands, bowing, kneeling, flower offering, prayers and sacrifices

For example, anthropologists have drawn that ancient humans had largely inadequate protection against cold; their survival largely deepened upon available sunlight—something beyond their control. In that scenario, solar worship was a logical outcome. In a similar manner, the humans found thunder and lightning inexplicable and frightening. Gradually, they began to worship the sky as god. There is enough historical evidence to assert that the ancestors of Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians and Muslims, before their religions came into practice, worshipped the sun and the sky. Thus, history demonstrates that whenever humankind faced a new challenge, priests invented a more useful deity and consigned the older one to oblivion. 

For example, around three thousand years ago, cultivation provided several facilities to humans that paved the way for a population explosion. At the same time, farming exposed people to pets, rodents, mosquitoes, houseflies and parasites. All these factors together gave rise to altogether new diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, typhoid and plague. Apart from these diseases, population explosion also gave rise to social diseases such as poverty, inequality, injustice, crime and exploitation. All these together forced people to lead a miserable life no better than hell. 

Around this time, a few geniuses such as the Buddha, Moses and Jesus discovered the causes and remedies of human sufferings. For example, Moses suggested ten morals, sacrifices and prayers to protect people from their miseries. The contemporary priests transcribed prayers, rituals, myths, allegories and morals preached by these prophets after their death. The Holy Scriptures, such as the Vedas and the Bible were the compilations of such writings. These books advised worship, sacrifices, magic or morals to eradicate human miseries. The Suffering masses had no option but to follow those advices. These scriptures fashioned the organized religions of today. 

Let us think for a moment why there are many religions and there is only one science on the Earth. There is one concrete reason behind this irony; about one thing or concept there is only one truth but there can be many lies. This book is an effort to light a candle in the darkest corner of human consciousness.

 The Evolution of Gods

Readers' verdicts on the book on Amazon & Flipkart

"This book was one of my first reads and am glad that I read it.........this book teaches you to become a human being and not a Hindu or Muslim or christian or whatever....in my opinion this book should be included in the syllabus of schools so that children know the real meaning of the term"God".......a must read....I recommend this book to each and every human being on the earth!....double thumbs up!!" ~Pragya on Flipkart

"The book should be there in every Indian household. For in spite of scientific advancement, learned people still believe in "karma" and "God" theories." ~Kantilal on Flipkart

"Well written, well researched, and loaded with interesting facts. " ~Joseph Hunter on Amazon

"This book changed my age-old convictions" ~Abhishek on Amazon

Buying Links:
Amazon.com: Paperback | Kindle Ebook
Amazon.in: Paperback | Kindle Ebook
Flipkart.com: Paperback | EBook

About the Author:

Ajay Kansal is a professor and consultant pathologist. It was during his medical practice that he encountered human suffering in a big way that made him question the concept of Gods and drove him to write this book.
The Evolution of Gods is his first book and the only book written by an Indian author on the concept of the existence of God which talks of all religions and is not based on any one particular form of it. His next work is a romance which is currently in progress.

Follow The Author:

Giveaway #1:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2:
  • 10 copies of the book The Evolution of Gods up for grabs on Goodreads.
  • Giveaway open internationally.

Promo Tour Schedule:

Schedule for the Promo Tour : http://bit.do/TourSchedule

Tour Organizer:

Njkinny Tours & Promotions

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Blog Tour: THE REVENGE OF KAIVALYA by Sumana Khan

My Review

It’s about three and a half decades since I read a book belonging to the horror genre. I read The Exorcist and The Omen in the past and they kind of maimed me for life. I used to be fascinated by horror stories but not after those two. I even feared my own shadow for a long time. 

I don’t quite know what came over me when I decided to review The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan. I was fascinated with the blurb and said ‘yes’. Do I regret it? Not at all. Read on to find more.

To begin with, I must compliment the author on her flawless language. It was a pleasure reading excellent prose by an Indian author. I can’t say the same of all the books that I have read in the recent past. 

The story begins with the murder of Kencha, who is an expert at tracking animals in the jungles of Karnataka. He’s offered a job with a foreign TV channel when he saves a firang TV journalist’s life after he’s bitten by a snake. Unfortunately for Kencha, he meets a terrible death in the forest.

Young and handsome Dhruv is a forest officer who inspires loyalty in those who work with him. Along with Dr. Bala and Dr. Nithya (husband-wife team of mobile doctors), Dhruv does his best to find out how Kencha was killed. What they uncover is too incredible and terrible for words. 

Neel is the spoilt son of a rich diamond merchant. He wastes his life away living in a grand penthouse by himself. He is visited there by The Shadow that gives him the creeps. VJ is Neel’s best friend, who would not think twice about using his friend to make money. Neel meets Arundhati at the gym and falls for her unaware that she’s married to Ved and has a son to boot. 

When VJ gets to know that Arundhati is filthy rich, he decides to have her son Momo kidnapped for a ransom as he is in urgent need of money. For this, he hires the unscrupulous Matchu who no one has seen. VJ loses courage midway and decides to call off the kidnapping. But will Matchu agree?

Then there is Tara, the 35-year-old para-psychologist. She knows a lot about paranormal activity – theoretically. But can she face a real possession of a spirit?

Shivaranjani is the unfortunate one. Her father’s Indian while her mother’s American. Having grown up in the USA, the young woman arrives in Karnataka to visit her parents-in-law along with her husband Ravikanth. Her holiday turns into hell on earth – so much so that her husband believes that’s she’s all set to take off to the other world. 

Inspector Shakti Rao is a completely fascinating police officer who becomes a police woman by happenstance. How and why you will have to find out when you read the book. 

There are loads more characters in the novel and believe me when I say that the author has penned them so well that there is no question of the reader getting confused or mixing up the people. Each character has a role to play and he/she does it well. 

A thought came to me while I was reading the book – we are horrified of spirits, at least the bad ones. But what about the horrible human beings that roam the earth? I was fascinated by the way Sumana Khan weaves the story of Kaivalya’s ghost from the 16th century and terrible people like Matchu and Paramesha – sketching the way their horrible minds work.

The novel so reminded me of old books of fiction – many Tamil ones that I have read and some English too – where the story takes off at many points into brief tales that make short stories by themselves, like small rivulets going to meet the main river – a fascinating way to write. It does not detract from the main tale in any way, only enhances it. 

What I liked best was the positive way the author has handled the horror fiction and brought about a lovely end that leaves the reader happy and in no way horrified. 

I don’t want to say any more as I fear that I might let out spoilers. The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan is a beautiful tale penned by an excellent author that is a must read if you are interested in peoples’ stories. 

I go with 5 stars for this book. 

Disclaimer: I received The Revenge of Kaivalya from author Sumana Khan in return for my honest review as part of the Blog Tour conducted by The Book Club.

The Revenge of Kaivalya by Sumana Khan

The Blurb

Deep within the womb-like forests of the Western Ghats, an entity manifests itself at the malevolent moment when the ocean rises to devour hundreds of thousands. Kencha, an unwitting witness to Its birth, is soon found dead – his body branded with a strange message written in Halegannada, an ancient version of modern Kannada. Even as Dhruv Kaveriappa, Chief Conservator of Forests - Hassan division investigates Kencha’s death, he senses an unseen danger in the forests of Kukke, Bisle and Sakleshpura. Animals drop dead; plants wither away and just as he feared, the forest claims its first victim. Shivaranjini, on vacation in Sakleshpura, suffers a devastating tonic-clonic seizure moments after she returns from a visit to the forest. Soon, she begins to exhibit a bizarre personality disorder. Perhaps there is an outbreak of an unknown rabies-like disease? Or, as ridiculous as it seems, could it be a case of tantric witchcraft? 

The truth unfolds in a dizzying maelstrom of events - a truth far too terrifying to comprehend

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The Author's Thoughts

In the early stages of my manuscript, I knew the title of my novel had to be the name of the principal character. And it could not be just any name. It had to fit into the storyline - from a time perspective, as well as setting the atmosphere. It had to sound ancient and also define the character. Tall order!

As I read up on the history of Vijayanagara, I hoped to come across a good, strong name...but history, largely, is about men and their wars and conquests. I hoped to select a name from our puranas. But nothing clicked. What about our stotras? Maybe the lalitha sahasranama? Or ashtalakshmi stotra? One evening I sat mulling on 'Kausalya'...thanks to the most famous line 'Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravarthathe' from the Suprabhata :) I went to bed with that line in my head.

The next morning, somehow, ‘Kausalya’ had transformed to ‘Kaivalya’. I did not remember coming across the name in any of my previous research. Curious, I looked up what ‘Kaivalya’ stood for. And was fascinated.   Read More ........
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