Broken Sky by Saurav Dutt is a very cerebral and involved mystery, character study, and social commentary. The story begins on the streets of Manhattan as a middle-aged cop stops to talk to a very unique homeless woman. The woman has clearly been on the streets for some time, but is wearing expensive items, such as a minx coat and diamond rings. She carries with her two suitcases, the contents of which she seems to have no memory, as she claims to have amnesia.
The scene soon changes to follow Andie, a young mother recently moved to Manhattan with her son because she is divorcing her husband. Dutt’s portrayal of these characters, their situations, and their world is incredibly detailed. The reader soon becomes engrossed in their stories, wondering what these two seemingly separate situations have to do with each other. The story quickly becomes a mystery as the reader finds out that Andie’s father is a convicted felon, her mother is presumed dead, and the homeless woman is searching for something important, running from something sinister.
The cover of the novel is beautifully done. It depicts the figure of a woman carrying a suitcase back dropped with rich colors. The reader will immediately want to know who the woman is and where she is heading, a question whose answer is not simple or easy, but fraught with danger, hurt, and uncertainty.
Although the formatting has some glitches (sometimes two or three different characters talk in the same paragraph, making it hard to follow conversations, some sections have weird spacing issues, and in the first part of the novel, dialogue is denoted with a single apostrophe instead of two and then it switches, etc.), these errors cannot fully distract from the rich detail of Dutt’s prose and the intricate characterization of the people and their situations.
Despite small editing issues and bits where the timeline gets jumbled and confusing, Dutt spins a beautifully written mystery and commentary on relationships, both familial and otherwise.
The Gnostic Prophecy by Mike Vasich is a mystery thriller with spiritual undertones. The story begins when Dr. Russell Kellar meets with a potential client to appraise an ancient scroll. During the meeting, Kellar realizes that the scroll could contain important religious connotations. After he texts a photo of the writing to his girlfriend, Professor Cerise Davenport, a mysterious being attacks. From that moment, Cerise is embroiled in a deadly mystery. Along the way, she meets an enigmatic little girl who seems to appear and disappear at will and enlists the help of an old friend who has a death wish.
Vasich’s writing is superb. The plot is intriguing, and the characters are interesting. The style and detail in the prose invokes an emotional response to the material. It is easy for the reader to sympathize with the characters and become involved in the action. The book is formatted and edited well, making it easy for the reader to appreciate the prose, the detail, and the story. The cover fits the novel well, using striking colors and images.
Readers will be sucked into this story easily. The mystery is an interesting one, with a variety of different players, all with their own roles to play. Who are the super strong figures that show up every time the scroll is mentioned? Where did the little girl come from? Is Russell still alive? The questions keep popping up, none with ready answers. Even agnostic or atheist readers can enjoy the depth and beauty of this tale.
The Complete Guide to Writing a Successful Screenplay by Melissa Samaroo delivers on the promise inherent in its name. Samaroo discusses everything from Hollywood/audience expectations, to developing plot and characters, to finding an agent and selling a script. The process of writing a screenplay is laid out in detail, with supporting examples that any reader could relate to.
The cover of the guide sets the mood. The colors chosen are professional and clean, the model is smiling, and there is a crew in the background. All of these elements scream success—the very thing the reader is trying to achieve. And which Samaroo is trying to sell between the covers of this book.
The editing and the format lend to an ease of comprehension and reading. Important points are set into sections by bullet points or subtitles. Key passages are highlighted or set apart from the body of the work with special indents or formatting. Thus, the guide can be read cover-to-cover by a beginner just looking for information on what to expect, or used as a sort of textbook, in which the reader flips to the sections that pertain to their individual process.
Samaroo writes a very thorough guide to screenwriting. She uses numerous examples, hoping to find something that strikes a chord with all types of readers. She gives information about less successful scripts/movies to shine a light on what to shy away from. It will even be interesting to apply knowledge about industry secrets when watching your next rental DVD.
How to Write Really Good Research Papers, Really Fast by Bob Ward is a how-to guide for college students on research papers. Ward writes in a straightforward manner, so that the reader can easily follow the concepts. The cover is simply a woman sitting in front of a laptop, clearly indicating (along with the non-complex title) that this is a manual, not a groundbreaking piece of literature. Ward creates something the most basic reader/writer can follow, which is his goal—to help anyone write a good paper.
The format of the piece also lends to ease of reading. Ward breaks down the process of writing into a few distinct steps, which if followed in detail, will lead to a good paper in limited time. Each step is clearly explained in each chapter, along with clear examples. There are clear headings for each step and example, making it impossible to forget or miss a concept. At the end, Ward shares his entire paper along with notes on his process/thoughts as he was writing it.
For a student in need of a quick guide to writing research papers, Ward does a great job. For most students, the concepts will not be new (or at least, they should not be), but Ward offers a great way to organize data to make the writing process flow easier.
Effed Up by Russ Woody is a first-person narrative starring Robert and his dysfunctional family. The reader enters Robert’s life as he is getting up-close-and-personal with a woman named Becky, who is apparently turned on by trauma scenes. While Robert is trying to block out the juxtaposition of pleasure and disgust and enjoy the moment, he receives a phone call that his mother is in the hospital. From Robert’s reaction and subsequent actions, it is clear that he despises his mother and is not close with his siblings or his father.
Through present moments and past recollections, Robert paints a clear picture of his effed up family. His mother is a manipulative, psychopath, his brother is a loser stoner, and his sister is a raging alcoholic. The only sane one, he thinks, is his father, who he doesn’t even know well because his mother never allowed the spotlight to be shown on anyone but herself. In the wake of tragedy, Robert must piece together the kind of man his father was, thus learning more about himself.
Effed Up is so humorous, it will make the reader laugh out loud. The characters are so absurd, so flawed, and yet so real, that the story is both completely fantastical and chillingly realistic. As much as the reader will laugh, she will also cry—tears of outrage, sorrow, frustration (at how dense Robert’s family is about their ridiculousness), and finally, joy. There are aspects of the characters and moments in the family dynamic that are guaranteed to ring true to everyone at one point or another.
While situations may be drastically different, the emotions Woody invokes about love, family, and friends will resonate with readers from all walks of life. In the end, the story is about one man’s journey to finding himself and learning what true family means.
Many many many Gods of Hinduism by Swami Achutananda is a comprehensive guide about Indian culture, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Achuthananda begins his text with a note to the reader about the importance of asking questions about who we are and why we are here on the planet. He posits that Hinduism is key to addressing these issues as the literature is vast and represents thousands of years of spiritual experiences.
First, Achuthananda addresses key aspects of Indian culture, such as the idea of karma, the life of Buddha, and the relationship between India and Pakistan. For Achuthananda, to understand Hinduism, one must understand the cultural and linguistic background of the religion.
Next, Achuthananda discusses key concepts of the religion itself. He points out the many different scriptures and talks about important symbolism. Mostly, he compares Hinduism with most Western religions to show the differences between the two and to highlight the essence of Hinduism.
Finally, he addresses some controversies in the religion itself. A big one being that some Hindu scripture hints that man created God. While this seems blasphemous to a Westerner, Achuthananda explains that the Hindu concept of God is so hard to wrap one’s head around, that people needed some concrete form of reference—thus the many Gods, which are actually multiple facets of one God.
This text is all-inclusive, interesting, and educational. Anyone who wants to learn about Hinduism should pick up this book, as it is informative about the religion and the culture from which it stems. The one thing that would make this book easier to read would be more concrete examples from the culture and the scriptures. Some of the concepts are hard to understand and examples would help illuminate the ideas.