First Published on Life as Freya Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review. All opinions are honestly minFirst Published on Life as Freya Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for an honest review. All opinions are honestly mine. 😉
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....more
Why did I pick this book: I absolutely love Anya Wylde’s writing style with a touch of Wodehouse, RK Narayan, HFirst reviewed on my blog Life as Freya
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. :D...more
I’ve been listening to audio books for two years now and yet this is the first time I've experienced a book like The Case of the Cursed Dodo. This booI’ve been listening to audio books for two years now and yet this is the first time I've experienced a book like The Case of the Cursed Dodo. This book is a full production with multiple voice actors, sound effects and background score. It was like listening to a movie, and in my mind I could see it all in vivid technicolour.
A mystery thriller, The Case of the Cursed Dodo starts off with Jake G Panda, the in-house detective at 'Wildlife’s Last Resort' receiving a call that gets cut-off mid-conversation. He sets out to find his friend, the Professor, who has disappeared. Along the way he gets kidnapped by poachers, rescued by the Endangered Underground and finds a mysterious Jade bird. Now he must solve the mystery of the bird before it’s too late.
First Impressions It was the title and cover that caught my eye first when I came across The Case of the Cursed Dodo. It was just so like those Famous Five, Three Investigators, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I’ve read ages ago. The cliche was comforting. The blurb closed the deal as I wanted a simple easy listen. And it was a simple easy listen, just not how I had expected it.
The Case of the Cursed Dodo as an audio book is an experience that will enthral. The production makes it a different thing altogether, it’s no longer a simple children’s mystery with a whole lot of varied endangered animals.
Plot, Setting, Characters The story begins at the Wildlife’s Last Resort, a flophouse for animals in trouble and quickly becomes a globe-trotting adventure, involving flying to Marrakech by Tortoise Air, searching The Critter Bazaar, escaping by The Creature Comfort Express and landing up in Extinction City.
This may be a children’s book but the play of words will be absolutely enjoyable for adults. I laughed many a time at the puns and old clichés. Have you spotted some of them? It was way too funny.
There is a whole forest of anthropomorphized animals as characters in the story. Here are a few - Jake G. Panda a panda, The Professor a.k.a. Harry a hispid hare, Rose an El Hierro giant lizard, Ernie an Asian elephant, Daisy Condor a California condor, Madame Baloni a wild yak, and Bedouin Joe a large Bimini boa among others. I enjoyed getting to know the whole bunch of animals, each with their own quirks of dress, makeup and mannerisms. They add so much to the story.
Note for Kids If you have kids this a great book to introduce them to a plethora of animals. There is also a Resources Section with links to fun activities and animal organisations.
Audio Book Experience Like I was saying earlier The Case of the Cursed Dodo as an audio book is an experience to be had. Each character has his or her own voice actor, the narration is excellent with each chapter starting out with a recap and scene setting, and the story progressing with sound effects and a background score. The language is simple and easy. The story has a good pace and an unexpected climax, there’s loads of action too!
I absolutely enjoyed The Case of the Cursed Dodo and heartily vouch for it. This is a book for kids for sure (I lent it to a 10 year old and she sat still for almost the whole book!). But it’s also for adults who enjoy verbal humour and word-play. :)...more