ARC Review: Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello

Book Details:

Author: Rich Marcello
Release Date: 26th July 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Slice-Of-Life, Literary Fiction, Romance
Format: E-book 
Pages: 200 pages
Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing
When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

Book Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Watch this review on my YouTube channel

Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello is a beautifully written book about platonic love. It is an unusual love story about a retiree and a girl who is decades younger than him.

The characterisation was brilliant and helped me feel a strong connection to the main characters, Ben and Samantha. The writing was great and complimented the story beautifully. The concept is unique and engaging and the execution of the plot was flawless.

I’d highly suggest this book to all readers, especially those who like a well-written love story that goes way beyond the normal conventions and explores the depth of characters’ emotions.

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ARC Review: Burly by Paul Drewitt

Author: Paul Drewitt
Release Date: 
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: E-book 
Pages: 226 pages
Publisher: –

Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Burly by Paul Drewitt is a beautifully written book with honest prose and an excellent plot.

I was hooked right from the stat and was thoroughly engrossed in the story till the ending. I really liked this book and was able to relate to all the characters as well. But for me the best part about the book is the narrative style of the author.

I’d recommend this book to all readers, especially to those who prefer reading literary genre.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon (after the book’s official publication date.)

Book Review: The Greatest Game by Greg Rajaram

Author: Greg Rajaram 
Release Date: 15th April 2021
Genre: Philosophy, Drama, Literary Fiction, Surreal
Format: E-book 
Pages: 242 pages
Publisher: –
Ever since humans became self-aware, we have struggled to find the meaning of life. The price we paid for becoming intelligent was to become painfully ignorant of the difference between good and evil.

Adi, a 10-year-old boy, works together with two old philosophers as they try to unravel the prophecy of a promised King. With insatiable curiosity, Adi must work with the wise men as they rationalize with each other on why and how humans became intelligent. Together they attempt to answer some of the most profound questions related to existence. Does evolution end with human beings or is there an ‘Overman’ who can reach evolution’s pinnacle? Will this Overman be able to define values for humankind?
Centuries later a young boy promises his mother that he will always uphold the love that she has taught him. It is a promise that drowns him in the nectar of the gods. Krish grows up to be an engineer and joins a team of scientists as they try to create artificial consciousness in a machine.
Krish soon realizes that he has a bigger fight on his hands. A fight to preserve love in a desolate world. His quest for true love ultimately leads him down a path where he comes face to face with a fearsome snake delivering a kiss of death.
Humans have come a long way by questioning the nature of objects around us and pushing the limits of our intelligence, but it’s now time that we ask the greatest question yet: when does intelligence transcend to become consciousness?


Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Greatest Game by Greg Rajaram is a philosophical read with complex characters and plotline that will leave you introspecting about life and everything else in its wake.

This book a very fresh take on a concept well-loved and widely accepted therefore it was very interesting to read this book. I liked the author’s narrative style and the fact that the book was layered with complexity, intrigue and knowledge very well. I also liked the characterisation as they were all well-developed and rounded characters.

I’d recommend this book to all readers, especially to readers of philosophical fiction.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Review: Banshee And The Sperm Whale by Jake Camp

Author: Jake Camp
Release Date: 16th February 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction, Philosophical, Satire, Dark Humour
Format: E-book 
Pages: 254 pages
Publisher: Pski’s Porch Publishing
A sunset wedding in Kona. An ugly secret discovered on an iPhone. Experimental philosophical marriage counseling. Time travel. Diver Neurons and Angel Neurons separated by Sea and Sky. Banshee and the Sperm Whale takes the reader on a journey into the unconscious mind of Martin, a biracial chef from Denver who suffers from a particular kind of overabundance. Along the way, a modern allegory unfolds, and everyday notions about self-knowledge, the nature of good and evil, and possibility of finding meaning and spiritual significance in the face of inexorable uncertainty are turned inside out.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Banshee And The Sperm Whale by Jake Camp is a beautiful book full of deep and colourful ideas and concepts.

I absolutely loved this book because the author skillfully dissected a wide range of emotions. This book was so different from other contemporary literary fiction reads that I was overwhelmed with the joy of having found this gem of a book! I am truly grateful to the author for writing this brilliant book and letting his readers experience the dual nature of reality.

This book has a beautifully complex plot along with a well-written story that is highlighted by profound and introspective satire and an array of multi-layered characters. What else can you possibly ask for?

I’d recommend this book to all readers. This book is a must-read!

You can also read this review on Goodreads.

Book Review: Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe

Author: Pramudith D. Rupasinghe
Release Date: 29th April 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Sri Lankan Literature
Format: E-book 
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher: Vor Press
In the serene tempo of classical Soviet literature charmingly merged into modernity, Bayan is a unique blend from among the work of Pramudith D Rupasinghe. 
Bayan begins in the sunny Ukrainian summer and ends with a hidden, deeply meaningful message. It is not only the story of a strange, bearded old man who finds solace and a soulmate of sorts, in a traditional string instrument, while facing a common narrative of his era; it is a commentary on life, and a celebration of the ultimate coming of age. 

It juxtaposes the failure of physical strength and faculties to the accumulation of immense emotional fortitude. It lulls you into feeling safe in spite of the passing of transient seasons, the waning of political ideologies and the inevitable disintegration of the corporeal being. 
Bayan tells about changing world`s order, revolutions and the ravages of time, the music of life will go on.

Bayan is the only novel by a Sri Lankan author to be translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Burmese and Hungarian languages. And its German, Russian, Hindi and Sinhala translations have been added among the books of Sri Lankan authors translated into other languages. 


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe is a beautifully written book full of, and highlighting, a wide spectrum of emotions and emotional sensibilities.

It is difficult to summarise my opinion of reading this beautiful book because it was nothing short of an out-of-the-world experience and simply cannot be expressed in words. This book takes you on a journey to a time and place where you’d be struggling between contrasting emotions of wonder and revulsion. It is not an easy feat to write about the times of war and the post-war world because they both are two subjects that need a very good, and thankfully, Dr Pramudith – the author, did it so wonderfully well that I was left in awe.

This book is written beautifully well, interspersed with odd letters and poems, which made the experience of reading this book even more realistic. The characterisation was brilliant and I ached and pained for the plight of the characters. This book not only helped me understand the emotional background of many people who might have experienced the events told in this book but also made me reflect on the present times and how far the world has changed today from those of the earlier times.

This is a very good book that I will recommend to all readers, of all genres because it is an experience that no one should pass on.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon.

ARC Review: Dead Fish And What the Blue Jays Know by Debbie Ann Ice

Author: Debbie Ann Ice 
Release Date: 22nd April 2021
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Satire
Format: E-book 
Pages: 272 pages
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publisher, LLC
It’s the year 20-something—a changed yet still complacent America—and Lorraine Mulderon is mad. She’s mad that dying fish litter the shores of her small Connecticut coastal town. She’s mad birds seem to be dying, possibly indirectly related to fish deaths. She’s still mad about a wave of crow deaths over a decade ago. But, mostly, Lorraine is mad at the lack of madness.

She makes speeches. She phones lazy, and now corrupt, legislators. She is ignored. What has happened to passion? What has happened to our country? And now, what has happened to Lorraine? Lorraine disappears during a protest march. Her daughter, Haley, writes a letter to the world explaining her mother—someone who confronts grief and tragedy the only way she knows how and has depended upon those who tenderly watch over her—her daughter, certain friends, and a flock of blue jays.
However, as the blue jays reveal, Lorraine is not so tenderly watched over by the forces working against her.
It’s a dark future and our nation has normalized tragedy; however, DEAD FISH touches upon these intense themes with hope and humor. 


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dead Fish And What the Blue Jays Know by Debbie Ann Ice is a beautiful book about passion, love and loyalty. When I started reading this book, I wasn’t really sure what it was about and if I was going to like it much, but only a couple of pages into the story and I knew that it was going to be a great read. And to my utter satisfaction, it turned out to be that and so much more.

This book not only has a well-written plot but the concept itself is really good and necessary in its own right. I loved the characters and was able to connect and relate to them. The pacing and tension are apt and compliment the story beautifully.

I really enjoyed reading this emotional, at times funny and beautiful read and would definitely recommend it to readers of literary and women’s fiction.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Audiobook Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Author: Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Claire Danes
Release Date: 20th July 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Literary Fiction
Edition: Audible Audio
Length: 11 hours
Publisher: Audible a-list Collection
The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire—neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs…



I have no clue exactly what it was that put me off so badly while listening to this book. After having spent an entire day listening to this book, I think I totally wasted my time. I could have left it in the middle or maybe before that, but I really wanted to like it, so I did not abandon it. But now, after having finished it, I think I should have simply abandoned it after the first hour or two where it became pretty clear what the lead character had to offer.

Anyway, I’m trying to determine, what made me dislike this book:

✒︎ Was is the fact that the book was full of unnecessary details and ton loads of flowery prose? A lot of unnecessary details and exposition that was really not needed. Maybe if this had been shorter, it would have been beeter?! I wonder…

✒︎ Was it that more often than not it felt like the author tried to elicit sympathy in the reader’s mind by trying to make the reactions unnaturally nonchalant? This trick does work most of the time, but here it felt way too unreal, too forced. I hate when i am made to sympathise to anyone :/

✒︎ Was it because I found the character of Offred serving only one purpose, trying to make the author look good in terms of ‘see-how-I-created-a-female-lead-that-is-oppressed-and-can’t-do-shit-about-it-see-and-feel-sorry-for-her’? She had no personality… no voice… nothing at all (and not just because of the circumstances she was in, nope, even with all her flashbacks of the past life she still came across very bland) therefore, I was not able to feel anything (literally anything) for her, which is surprising because there is so much hype surrounding this book and I was obviously expecting some great things.

✒︎ Was it because the whole ‘totalitarian-government-taking-away-people’s-precious-freedom’ trope having been used and re-used relentlessly in a LOT of books, especially the classics? We all know what books they are… let’s just say they did it soo much better than why???

✒︎ Or was it because of the narrator? Maybe, maybe not. I am totally unsure of this.

I guess it was a combination of all these (and maybe more.) Anyhoo, I did not like the book and I will not recommend it to anyone as I have nothing good to say about it. Read it at your own risk.

Book Review: The Afterlives of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings

Author: Sam Meekings
Release Date: 1st August 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Edition: E-book
Pages: 290
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing
Who is that mournful man in the painting? THE AFTERLIVES OF DOCTOR GACHET tells the story of Paul Ferdinand Gachet, the subject of one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous portraits: one that shows what the artist called “the heartbroken expression of our times.” But what caused such heartbreak? This thrilling historical novel follows Doctor Gachet from asylums to art galleries, from the bloody siege of Paris to life with van Gogh in Auvers, and from the bunkers of Nazi Germany to a reclusive billionaire in Tokyo, to uncover the secrets behind that grief-stricken smile.



“I know some people argue that our lives are predicated on the quirks of our genes, that our destiny is inscribed in the code of our DNA. On the other hand, it is only when we are tested in the outside world that all the possibility bristling within us is whittled down and we really take shape.”

The Afterlives Of Doctor Gachet by Sam Meekings is a very delightful and a pretty compelling historical read with a powerful, well-written and brilliantly executed storyline. This book was such a good break from all the contemporary fiction I read. The plot was very unique, fresh and pretty captivating. I enjoyed reading this book a lot because I truly enjoyed reading each and every single sentence of this book (which is very rare  for me.) The writing was beautiful and the author’s style was pretty impressive. I guess I can say without a speck of doubt, and as rare as it may be, that in this book the writing was the best part.

I loved the characterization and character development in every chapter. I also appreciated the side-story of which was given in alternating chapters; it kept the story from being monotonous and made it very interesting.

I’d recommend this book to all historical-fiction readers and to anyone who is looking to take a break from their usual choice of books and might want to explore something refreshing and brilliant. Also, I’m sure Van Gough enthusiasts and fans would definitely love reading this book and exploring the background of the subject of one of his most talked about pieces.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Madrone by Jack B. Rochester

Author: Jack B. Rochester
Release Date: 15th July 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Edition: e-book
Pages: 340
Publisher: Wheatmark
The year is 1969. After an interminable four years under the boot of the US military, twenty-four-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers is ready for his real life to begin. His plans are straightforward: spend as much time as he can with his girlfriend, Jane, finish college, and become a writer. But when Nate is denied admission to UC Santa Cruz, he decides that a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily the path he’s laid out for himself. He can learn about literature on his own, and he’ll have more time to write if he isn’t in school. His choice doesn’t sit well with everybody. Jane’s father asks Nate how he’ll support Jane without a degree. Jane’s mentor offers to pull some strings at SC if Nate agrees to become his student. And when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself, even Nate is tempted by the allure of conventionally defined success. Picking up where Wild Blue Yonder left off, Madrone inspires us to consider how far we’ll go to remain true to ourselves.



Madrone by Jack B. Rochester is a beautiful sequel to Wild Blue Yonder, which picks up where the first one left off giving a detailed glimpse into the life of the protagonist, Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers, after he enters the next phase of his life and explores the world outside of the military.

Just like the previous book by author Rochester, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well. I’m glad that I got a chance to read the first book so close to this one because the whole story of Nathaniel felt like a nice long movie. The writing was really good and felt apt for such a beautiful story. The characterization was great as instantly I was able to connect to Nathaniel, and was able to relate to him while he went about living his life in a world that was new to him.

The book is based in the 1960’s and the author has done a commendable job in enabling people like me, who never saw that era, to be able to live it through his amazing cast of characters. The settings did not only make the book very interesting but also very enjoyable.

It is a good book with a heart-warming story and exceptional writing to compliment it, sprinkled with a cast of characters that would steal your heart in a blink and I’d recommend it to everyone who loves reading a meticulously constructed story with fully fleshed-out characters.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: The Year Of Oceans by Sean Anderson

Author: Sean Anderson
Release Date: 12th February 2018
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Edition: e-book
Pages: 324
Publisher: Riversong Books
Hugo Larson is a retired accountant living in North Seattle. Having recently lost the person most important to him, he attempts to make a life for himself in spite of that gaping absence. While he spends his time swimming, gardening, and accomplishing the mundane tasks of everyday life, he also has several important relationships to manage. Adrian is Hugo’s caring but foolish son, a young man desperately in need of career guidance. Hugo’s brother, Martin, brims with positive energy and a life many would envy: a kind wife, an illustrious teaching career, and a darling granddaughter—but at the implications of retiring. Then there is Paul, a serene next-door neighbor and friend who is haunted by his own loss, who goes on adventures with Hugo through the city. Despite all this, Hugo faces the heaviness of existence, confronts towering questions, embraces and then pushes away those close to him. Through the course of one year, he faces his past, struggles with the present, and questions the future.
What waits for Hugo at the end of that year?



The Year Of Oceans by Sean Anderson is a sensitive book about dealing with loss, the overpowering and omnipresent grief that ensues and about individual growth. It was a very likeable read, albeit being on the heavier side of the spectrum.

It was very interesting to read about Hugo, the protagonist, and seeing his journey for an entire year after the loss of his beloved. Many times I found myself feeling a wide spectrum of emotions that the protagonist goes through – sadness, frustration, loneliness, disdain and emptiness. But as the book progresses, the author artfully shows the growth of the main lead in a way that felt very real and relatable.

I loved the writing of the author as it complimented the story well. The story had a good flow to it and I was able to navigate through it easily. I liked the story from start to end, and in spite of an unexpected ending, I felt it was very apt for the book.

The best part about this book, though, was that the subject of death and the grief that one has to cope with afterwards (which is a very tricky one) was handled, to my pleasant surprise, quite skillfully with the much-needed delicateness and subtlety. It was a bit hard for me to read this book as the subject of loss, personally, is agonising for me to handle, but I’m glad that the author respected a person’s sense of loss, in general, and worked gracefully around it, touching on the nerves only as required.

A wonderful book for a debut novel that I’d recommend to everyone and anyone who can handle reading about loss, grief and pain related to a close one’s death.

this review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Coinman: An Untold Conspiracy by Pawan Mishra

27431418Author: Pawan Mishra
Release Date: November 4, 2015
Series: Those Who Remain Trilogy
Genre: Literary Fiction | Humor
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 230
Publisher: Lune Spark LLC
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon

Rating: ★★★★


Coinman, a junior level office worker in India, has a number of eccentricities. The laughingstock of the office, he finds no relief at home; his wife Imli, an obsessed actress, completely vanishes into each role. When tough bully, Hukum, beautiful enchantress, Tulsi, and the office sage, Ratiram, unite the office to conspire against Coinman, they have no inkling of an apocalypse looming inside the office.


I rarely read literary fiction but when I was presented with an opportunity to read Coinman I thought of giving this one a try as the author is a fellow Indian. Though initially I had a few reservations about reading it, this book turned out to be a really interesting one. Coinman is a really unique read about a man who is obsessed with jingling coins.

Author Pawan Mishra has done a great job writing about a character as bizarre as Coinman and that too with dollops of sarcastic and classy humor blending it brilliantly with the main conflict of the story.

Though I’m not a huge fan of literary fiction, this book was fairly good and I enjoyed reading it. At times, I was chuckling loudly making everyone around me uncomfortable… so you can imagine how much I enjoyed it.

This book cleverly explores the day-to-day problems, faced by people who are termed as different or socially awkward by the seemingly “normal” people or the people who proudly calls themselves as extroverts, with a fine layer of sarcasm and wit to make the reading a really pleasant experience. It also covers the issue of bullying, which, I’m sure, will make many heads nod.

Overall it is a brilliant read and I’d recommend it to everyone as there are a lot of other social themes which will appeal to the masses.

Other Stuff

Opening Line: It all began with high expectations.

Highlights: Storytelling and clever use of satire and wit.

Lowlights: None.

Final Thoughts: A very well written book.

You can also read this review at Goodreads, Flipkart and Amazon.