Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review: Radius 200 by Veena Nagpal

The Title of the Story: Radius 200
Author: Veena Nagpal
Cover: Goes well with the story. Love the strip of blue which is the very core of the story.
Editing:  Could have been better
The language of the author: Simple and easy to understand.  
Star Rating: 4 stars. 

The author has based her story purely on imagination.  As I peeled away the layers of the story, many questions arose in my mind. The things we take for granted, the relationships that we often neglect, what if one day they all are gone? What if, for one day, you are stuck inside your body with your mind broken into small fragments?

This book is not an easy read. It started with a triangle love story between Arjun, Om, and Kyra. But as the scenes become more political, you will see the subtle differences in the relationships. Especially between Arjun and Kyra. As Kyra searches for Om, secrets, and lies are exposed.

The relationship between the characters was a bit murky. While I liked the relationship between Om and Kyra but that between Arjun and Kyra was not dealt with properly. When Arjun is married with two kids, the way he makes love to her didn't gel well with me. I am not a prude. I understand these things happen but what surprised me was the utter lack of emotions involved in this scene. If two people are attracted enough towards each other, there has to be some quickening of the heartbeat. Some residue of an old love story or even just plain old lust. But in this case, there was nothing. There was no remorse in Arjun's part and that really became a huge flaw in his character. Every action has a reaction. In this case, his family became mere words on paper.

But on the other hand, when I see the characters of Jiji and her twins, I found the characters very well written. Either you will hate them or love them but the hunchbacks, the distorted faces will leave a mark on you. That is some powerful characterization here which I wish would have also extended to the three protagonists.

There were few scenes that were so graphic that I had to skip them to stop the bile rising inside me. The pain, the anger and the waiting of the residents of the Radius 200 area, is so heart wrenching, that you feel like telling the Indian government that even in a fiction, you failed me. (Sorry for this political thought but with the rape cases going on, the woman inside me is damn angry)  Forgotten, bewildered as to why their world had changed, they are only praying to get back their water. And in order to please the gods, they are ready to do any kind of sacrifice. Some of the descriptions would have spared me a queasy stomach.

The plot of the story is the winner here. Very unique. You are bound to put down the book in a few places and think - what if it was true and pray that such a day, that the author had envisaged,  never arrives.

Grab your copy from:
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Book Spotlight: CARTHICK'S UNFAIRY TALES by T.F. Carthick



Blog Tour by The Book Club of CARTHICK'S UNFAIRY TALES by T.F. Carthick


CARTHICK'S UNFAIRY TALES
by
T.F. Carthick

Blog Tour by The Book Club of CARTHICK'S UNFAIRY TALES by T.F. Carthick


Blurb



A damsel in distress. An evil dragon. A concerned father seeking a savior to rescue his daughter. A hero galloping off to the rescue – a knight in shining armor. Now THAT is stuff of fairy tales.

But what if the father’s real concern is for the dragon’s hoard; What if the damsel’s reason of distress is the marriage proposal by her pompous and vicious savior; and what if the story is told by the horse who bears not only the overweight knight but also his heavy, shining armor all the way to the dragon’s lair and back, facing certain death in the process?


What if there was more – much more – to all your favourite fairy tales than met the eye?


This book chronicles not one but seven such unfairy tales – tales told by undead horsemen and living cities. Tales of mistreated hobgoblins and misunderstood magicians. Tales of disagreeable frogs and distressed rats and bears baring their souls. Once you read these stories, you will never be able to look at a fairy tale the same way ever again.

     
Read an excerpt




This was wrong at many levels. The mayor’s despair and eagerness to solve the problem was understandable. But from what I have seen, no human problems come with quick fixes. Haste seldom helps. One requires patience to get to the depth of a problem and attack it at its root. A holistic solution does take a lot of time and effort but the benefits are long-lasting. Quick fixes, on the other hand, end up aggravating the situation. Take this situation of the rats itself, for instance. While the mayor may not have realized it, the fact was that the people of the town had brought this upon themselves. A few years earlier, people had complained of snakes. There were just a few of these reptiles, but still the people had complained incessantly. So, snake-catchers had been summoned to exterminate the snakes. Then, a few months’ later, stray dogs had become the object of the people’s ire.

“They keep barking all night. They just don’t let us sleep,” they had complained.

And they began to make a big fuss of how dogs were a public menace and exaggerated stories of dogs attacking humans started spreading, till finally the town council had to yield. Dog-catchers were commissioned and the dogs were done away with. With the elimination of their natural predators, wasn’t it natural that rats should multiply? But people just don’t realize these kinds of things. That is how people have been all the time. They wanted quick-fix solutions to all their problems then, and they want quick-fix solutions to all their problems now. They never learn.

Also, I suppose the mayor probably thought he would never be called upon to follow through upon his promise. So, he promised a grand reward just to appear to be doing something. That is another folly of humans, especially the leaders. They care more about perception than actually getting things done. And often initiatives undertaken to manage perceptions end up doing more harm than good.

Grab your copy @


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Paperback








About the author







T F Carthick is a Bangalore-based writer and blogger who has been blogging since 2008. He is an avid reader of Children’s Fiction, Science-fiction and Fantasy. Enid Blyton, J K Rowling, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams are some of his favorite authors. His paranormal thriller ‘Bellary’ was one of the three stories in the book Sirens Spell Danger, published in 2013. Six of his stories have featured in multi-author anthologies and literary magazines. He has written over 50 short stories, many of which can be read for free on www.karthikl.com.

He is an Engineer and MBA from India’s premier institutes IIT, Madras and IIM, Ahmedabad and currently works as an Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Consultant at one of the world’s leading Consulting Firms.






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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Knitted Tales Series


I am pretty excited to announce that I have started working on my Knitted Tales 2. While Knitted Tales dealt with emotions, Knitted Tales 2 will deal with myths and legends. When I say myths, I mean make-believe. How I perceive the Gods and Goddesses and their realms. 

These short stories will deal with the role of women in our ancient culture. Were they respected in our myths? Were they given the statuses of Gods in our global culture? While you will be surprised at my take I am sure many of you would agree.  And many will not. But then, that is life :)

The Goddesses from Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian are all powerful, but their power stems from their feminism. They had to fight for this power and like it's in our world, it was not easy for them too. Every realm and every culture had one thing in common - the battle of the sexes. While I am very proud and lucky only to know men who have given me only love and friendship - from my father to my father-in-law, from my brother to my son, from my boyfriend to my husband (fortunately both are one and same or I wouldn't have dared to write such a statement even if I am shouting about feminism..hahahhah), I do realize one thing though. To be a strong feminist is not about fighting men, but fighting for what I believe in. 

The Stories I have already written so far:

Atum: The first man when he landed on Earth. Do you get it .. Atum.. atom?

Baal: Falling in love can be dangerous. He was married and the naughty God fell in love with - Rain. So will his wife leave him?

Echo: This is one of the saddest tales I have read so far. Her voice always haunts everyone but there was a day when she lost everything - even her voice. 

Cupid falling in love. This story has been told many times in many different ways. I hope you like my take on this. The poor chap fell in love only to reject his love to save her from his mother's wrath. 

But then me being the weaver of tales do you think I will be happy without the twists and turns? Nope :) So what is the twist in my Knitted Tales 2? That I can only reveal in the pages of my book. 

I am excited and a bit nervous as I have always been about my Knitted Tales series, so do wish me luck. And before I say adieu, here is one hint I can give for my Knitted Tales 3 - Boo!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stepping Into The Temple with a Trail of Red - Happy Woman's Day

picture courtesy: BBC News
The whole day today I have been getting Whatsapp messages wishing me for Women's Day. Have you closely seen the word 'woman'? It almost sounds like woo-the-man. Some even say that it means "to win over a man. While the feminist in me shouts about rights and privileges, a question has started arising in our mind. What if we are burdened with the wrong name calling card? Why do we need the word man in my being a woman? 

And mind you, this word was coined by the most progressive of all countries - United Kingdoms. The pioneers who gifted the world with the English language. So why were the XY chromosomes given a single name and we the XX had to 'woo' a 'man and be called a woman?

Where did the word Woman originate from? Research tells me that that word was originally coined as 'wifman' meaning wife of a man which later over the decades was broken, mended, churned and finally emerged as a woman. How convenient :) So while the sexist out there snicker here is another interesting tale. 

How did the biological symbol of a woman come into being?
The circle with an equilateral cross below is the symbol of Venus's hand mirror.  Venus never went anywhere without it and since Venus represented feminity in the ancient Greek culture, the circle with the equilateral cross become our biological representation of women. 

So what is India's contribution to the world of being a woman? Living offshores, I have found something that has put me in a cultural shock. I interviewed 10 women from my friend list. 5 from India and 5 from the USA. I asked everyone if they worship God when they have their periods. 

Here is their answer:

1. Indian Woman One: We don't follow this anymore. Even my grandma didn't.
2. Indian Woman Two: Pagol? Me and God have our own personal relationship. So why should I hide my periods from my mother?
3. Indian Woman Three: Are you crazy? Those days are gone. I do my chantings even during my periods. 
4. Indian Woman Four: I don't pray to God during these times Rubes. 
5. Indian Woman Five: I pray, I dance and I do everything. Who made the rules? The rules are in our Shastras and they were made by men. 

Now take Two... 

1. Desi Woman in the USA:  I worship Rubes. Does not matter to me. 
2. Desi Woman in the USA: Oh no..we will burn in fire if we do this. 
3. Desi Woman in the USA: No never. I don't even cook and touch my husband. 
4. Desi Woman in the USA: Don't even come to my house if you have periods. I never go to anyone's house too. It will make the house impure. 
5. Desi Woman in the USA: Arrey no re baba. We are so impure during our periods that we should not even touch anything. 

Impure? We are impure because we are women? We can't enter temples during this time? Why? Because we will make the grounds of the temple impure? Who made the rules? Men who abuse their wives can go and do 101 parikramas and they are not impure - for sins are washed as we do the parikramas? But I have one question. How do you know the Goddess you are doing Parikrama around does not have periods during that time?

We are all talking about Gun laws in the USA. Every Indian male and female who have never visited the USA are shouting too. But what about this discrimination so close to home? For centuries. When are we going to raise our voice against this discrimination? Maybe that day we can say - Happy Women's Day in India. 

Recently heard a dialogue in Begum Jaan. Vidya Balan says : Hume Mahine na yaad dilao daroga, Kambakht laal karke jaati hai. 
Don't remind me of months Inspector, it leaves a red trail behind. (rough translation)



Monday, March 5, 2018

Cover Reveal: THE BODYGUARD BY RUCHI SINGH



THE BODYGUARD
by
Ruchi Singh

Blurb

Someone wants Vikramaditya Seth Jr. dead. 

He refuses the Z+ security option offered by the government. With too many variables, trust is hard to come by…

Esha Sinha prepares for her first assignment outside of active-army service, oblivious to the fact that she has to baby-sit a man who has no respect for rules or protocol—a man who is headstrong, a workaholic and a tenacious flirt. As the attraction between Vikram and Esha simmers and sizzles, another attempt is made on his life.  

The killer is resourceful and determined. 

The motive is unclear and perplexing.

Will they be able to nab the assassin before he gets to Vikram?


About the author


Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is 'romantic thriller'. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms. 


You can stalk her @ 

                     
  

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review of Prem Purana by Usha Narayanan

The Title of the Story: Prem Purana
Cover: Very Classy with an artistic inclination. Kudos to the artist.
Editing: Well edited 
The language of the author: Good command over the language. 
Star Rating: 5 stars. 

In an age when mythology is written, rewritten according to the perception of a writer's viewpoint, it's a miracle that we still remember Krishna or Rama as they were perceived during the times of Mahabharata and Ramayana. It's becoming equally difficult to distinguish between the original and the perceptions. Mythology is no more true to its form and changing rapidly according to the need of the hour. And it's not wrong to do so. Clinging to age-old values is not possible if one has to inculcate values amongst the younger generation. I think Amish Tripathi in his perception of Shiva has done a great job in bringing out the love of mythology amongst the younger generation. And with that, the floodgates have opened and many writers are now leaving their mark in this genre.



One of the leading personalities in this field is Usha Narayanan. With her Secret of the God's Son and Pradyuman she had captured the hearts of many mythological lovers weaving the story of Lord Kama's rebirth with all its fascinating details. Prem Purana, the latest publication of Ms. Narayanan is a collection of three short stories that kept me engrossed for a long time. I took time to read this book. Pages after pages, I lost myself in the story of Ganesha, Ravana, and Nal.



Ganesha's story starts with him meeting Riddhi and then Siddhi and Buddhi are introduced. Frankly speaking, I had no clue about the three wives of Ganesha and always thought he had two wives. The characterization of the three is very interesting, from being the beauty to a brain to a brawn. Somehow I found that the doctrine of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati is retold through these three sisters. Or maybe that is what needs to be told to the younger generation, every time, in every form. Ganesha needed all these qualities to fulfill the reason behind his future reincarnations. Beautiful thought. The way he went about wooing each of the sisters and how it ended with each of the sisters finding their true love is the crux of this beautiful saga. While Polygamy is no longer in vogue, we somehow have to raise our consciousness to understand that these stories are not about three women but three qualities in a woman. My research told me that it is us, humans, who have bifurcated the three qualities into three women but in reality, it was one for they all were one soul. And this is true in all the stories of our Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is my theory.



Ravana's love story sent a few chills down my spine. I had a mixed feeling about this one. Ravana, you just can't like in this story, yet he has a love story. Should I feel sorry for Mandodari or applaud her strength in finding something good in a man who is hated till today? There was not one redeeming quality in this man according to Ms. Narayanan's interpretation. Yet many historians and mythological writers believe that Ravana was a demon who dared to challenge the Gods but according to Ms. Narayanan's penning, Ravana was a brute who had no redeeming quality. Except for the last line where he recognized the great soul Rama was.  



While Ganesha's story was the innocence of love Ravana's was the fiery passion where a dark soul could love yet destroy the very person he claimed to have loved. As against these two stories Nal and Damyanti's story was about the pain in love. The pathos. How after getting the love of one's dear desire, one is not able to stay with their loved ones due to the wrong decisions that are taken on a spur of the moment. 



Each story deals with a particular rasa of love and each one has some message to impart. One of the strengths of a mythological tale is to leave some message for the present generation and I think Ms. Narayanan had achieved them beautifully. 



Totally recommended for those who love mythology and would love to know where our Indian philosophies of life and love stem from. 

Grab your copy from:


Monday, February 26, 2018

So what if someone has died, it's not my family. Let's talk of Karma.

Since Karma is everywhere nowadays and every small misdeed is in our Karmic books. Since God is no longer the benevolent love I thought he was for he seems to be keeping everyone's Karmic role and that too not in a fair way. A man and a woman marry hurting other souls and only the woman is punished. Or is the man punished here too as he will lead his life bereft of his love for a few more years? But what about the kids? Has anyone thought what Karmic sins they have done to deserve this?

I have kids too and I don't want my kids to ever hear false accusations like this. So here are the Karmic Rules I have broken:

1. I stole a chocolate from a friend when I was 6 years old. My intention was if I couldn't eat it neither should she. 

2. I  ate the sweets from the refrigerator and blamed my brother for it. He got a few, err - , slappings Indian parents were so fond of in those days. 

3. I met my first boyfriend and thought of flirting with him just for fun. Oh oh.. I have been punished beautifully already for it - I married him.

4. I married my boyfriend against our parent's wishes. Uh.. does it not make him sound like a man without any wishes? Just like Boney Kapoor? But what the heck - this is my post. He can write one of his own. 

5. I hate a few people in my heart and all of them know it. Hatred is bad Karma I tell you. You all can tell this to my kid. Because your mom hated Aishwarya Rai's beauty she died. 

6. I don't always want to be a wife or a mother. Sometimes I just want to be the woman I am. OMG! I should die and THIS should be the main reason. 

7. I have blocked a few people on FB. This is so freaking hurting the sentiments of others. Well, those who have blocked me what will happen to your Karma - THINK. REPENT. 

8. Sonia. I don't agree with all the things you do and say but I love you so this is a Karma Deal Breaker. 

9. Will my love for Salman really kill me? Should I say HEY SALMAN before I die or how will Karma adjust my not so brownie points?

10. I have a few dark secrets - chalo naughty people if I tell you everything in this post, tomorrow you all will have to start telling my kids as to why I died. 

AND IF ANYONE EVER SAYS THAT I DIED BECAUSE I WAS FAT - KASAM SE, I WILL BE ROAMING IN YOUR HOUSE AS A GHOST. THAT WILL BE YOUR KARMA.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Just Because we are daughters, Do we love our parents less? Priti asks in her review of Destined

I am not an agony aunt but after my book, Destined has come out I am getting a few letters from reviewers and readers which are pertaining to the subject - CAN A DAUGHTER LOOK AFTER HER PARENTS EVEN AFTER MARRIAGE?

Here is one review that has touched my heart.

JUST BECAUSE WE ARE DAUGHTERS, DO WE LOVE OUR PARENTS LESS?
One of the main reasons, I loved this book was because I went through a similar situation. My father was suffering from Stage IV cancer and his chances of survival were not much and doctors have given him very few years to live. Along with my mom, I was mainly responsible for taking care of him. My mom thought it would be better that if I marry a guy while my dad was alive. After lots of persuasion I finally agreed for an arranged match. But the moment guys would know about my dad’s illness and my main wish to stay in city and take care of him, they would just simply run away. The worst part was when one of guy who has refused the match earlier, asked to marry me again when my dad passed away. When my family asked him that why did he refuse earlier, he answered “If I would have married her earlier, she would not have focused on me and my family but now with her dad being out of picture, I am sure she would be a good match”


The full review can be read here and here is another question that a reader has asked:  When faced with such a situation what should I do - be the mother, the wife or the daughter? Can I have a few answers here please before giving mine? I think this is not an opinion that I can impart. But this should be a collective decision both men and women have to take. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sunanda Chatterjee Reviews Finding the Angel

Now in Paperback with Pustakmandi 
"I particularly liked the warmth of Aryan’s relationship with his mother, and Shefali’s with her Auntie, and the subtle secondary character of the Ranaut family servant, Hariram: 

I was thrilled to be asked to review Finding the Angel via a copy provided by the author because I had read the “Look Inside” section of the book and was already intrigued. And I was not disappointed. Set in contemporary Bombay and in the royal palace of the Ranaut family, this debut novel is a sizzling interplay between a feisty heroine and an arrogant hero. Shefali is an art curator who falls in love with Aryan, the Prince of the Ranaut dynasty while cataloguing their artefacts.

But just as the love (lust?) becomes too much for her, she runs away. Unfortunately, her sudden departure coincides with the disappearance of The Angel, the Faberge which has been in the Ranaut family for generations. With the burden of being considered a thief and the resultant effects of the company she works for, Shefali must find a way to redeem herself in the eyes of the man she loves, who is sure of her guilt.

I particularly liked the warmth of Aryan’s relationship with his mother, and Shefali’s with her Auntie, and the subtle secondary character of the Ranaut family servant, Hariram.

 Grab your ebook copy from Amazon
 Grab your Paperback from Pustakmandi, India.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Review of Knitted Tales By MAHESH SOWANI

Heart of the matter: Knitted Tales - Book ReviewRubina Ramesh’s debut book is a collection of short stories. Secret in the closet is about reincarnation of the servant girl Chunni who accidentally dies only to be reborn as the daughter of the woman who had killed her. This story is has a dramatic end, in which the woman is found dead exactly in the same circumstances as the girl did. I liked the end but the doctor directly suggesting past life regression in the first meeting itself does not sound credible.

Betrayal is a story from the dead man’s point of view. This story is about how a wife kills her abusive husband and tragically joins him in his death too. I liked the narrative from the dead man’s point of view. I also liked the end.

Chicklets is about racism and inherent good nature of humans, including the children. Set in the US, this story is realistic. I could identify with the girl who doesn’t fit in a given culture and ironically how her differentness turns to be an asset to forge a new friendship.

Lolita again focuses upon the dark secrets behind the glamour world. 

Rubina deals with incestuous relationships in No Regrets. This is a bold story which daringly ventures into an unforgotten romance between cousins.

SuvarnaRekha deals withhonour killing. The little Godmother is about sibling rivarly and how the older sibling has a change of heart. Though the subject is interesting, the opening where Arunee hurls unladylike curses creates confusion. At this point of time she is unaware of the new member in her family. She doesn’t even know that her mother is pregnant. It would have been better if this change in behaviour was reflected post the second child’s birth.

The Missing Staircase is about how a granddaughter meets her dead grandfather on her own death. The Other Woman is about a female activist who helps the wives who have been deserted by their husbands for another woman. In reality she herself is the other woman in someone’s husband’s life. Daddy Hear Me Out articulates the emotions of a young girl who is compelled to study a course which she doesn’t like.Cliff notes is a nice story. The narrator here is the Himalaya. I liked this story for the voice which the author uses.

Though death, the afterlife is a predominant theme of this collection, the author deals with a number of other sensitive topics as well. I give her full marks for the variety of topics she weaves her story around. I also liked the way she experiments with her style of narration. Read this book to understand how the same story can be told from different perspectives. It will be a learning experience. 

My Journey While Writing Lolita

2/17/2018

Today I have completed 16k words of my current WIP, #LOLITA. 

This story has been with me for a long time. I think from my school days itself. The life of an actress who comes from a very conservative family. What will be her thought process? How will she adjust to the Bollywood lifestyle? Is she really what she is portrayed to be?  Slowly Lolita has become someone I myself want to meet one day. She is a diva. Larger than life. Yet, she is searching for only one thing - true love. 

The biggest problem I am facing while writing this book is Knitted Tales 2. It's dying to come out. Those Gods are playing their own music in my head and soon people will think I am a cuckoo in my head. 

Oh another thing, Holidays are curses for a writer. When the whole family is at home, radiating happiness, never look at a writer's tight smile pasted on her lips. Ok - this is a bit far fetched even for me but there are days when I need to have that quiet spot under a banyan tree with a hot cup of kulla ki chai and my laptop. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Book Review: Seven Stories by Ravi Bedi

The Title of the Story: Seven Stories is well suited.
Cover: Not a designer stuff but not bad. Has a classy look
Editing: Well edited 
The language of the author: Good command over the language. 
Star Rating: 4 stars. 

Review:

An author with a distinct writing style is always a pleasure to read. Bold and vivacious the words of Ravi Bedi’s Seven Stories leap out of the pages and for a first time reader of books penned by this author, it’s a treat. All the stories are written keeping different emotional quotients in mind. Personally, I reacted to each story in a different manner. A woman, a daughter, a wife and most of all as a human being. The pull of the stories is great. Some of them leave a mark and some just give you just a momentary pleasure. But after reading all the stories, one can’t deny that this author has a few tales to tell. 

Save the Words strangely appealed to the writer in me. As a writer, I have dreamed something like this happening so many times. I am sure many of us have. Though I would have loved to have a linear path followed in this story for the ending became a bit far fetched but still, it is a  page-turner. What would you do, as a writer, if you are stranded in an airport and you suddenly find out one of your greatest critics is present in that airport?

The Nude Portrait is my favorite in this collection. A man entering an art gallery only to find his wife’s nude picture being displayed there. While I don’t know the legality of this, still it made a very beautiful read. I loved the way the husband handled the situation. Those sputtering moments, those doubts - each phase is written with conviction and that tad touch of humor is very endearing. What I loved most about this story is the way the author has managed to create that nail-biting moment of wondering what the husband is going to do. 

Drifting Shadow could be more aptly named as the Lady in the Cactus House :) Just kidding. Another beautiful tale of a drifter who lands up in Cactus house where he meets another broken soul. Their relationship quotient starts as tenant and landlady and moves on to friendship. The author has managed to capture human resilience, human endurance and the art of forgiveness in this short story.

The Seven Wood changed the tone of this collection. While till now I found the author dealing only with humane behavior, a tinge of negativity is added to this tale. Though infidelity and jealousy form the crux of this story, the ending does not enthrall me. It’s my personal choice but I don’t like stories that are told the roundabout way and if the ending is supposed to be left to the sensibilities of the readers, I would rather have a clear picture where I either feel sympathy or anger towards the murderer. Here I felt nothing. Sam Baxter is a more defined character in this story rather than Mike.And here I feel one goof up has occurred unless I got the story wrong. If Sam Baxtor was screwing Mike’s wife why did he address Claire as ‘Mrs.Baxtor’ on their first meeting. This confused the story a bit for me. 

The Lady with Long Hair again shifts my mood. A very honest story of a middle-aged man helping out a beautiful woman. In a beautiful way. I like again the husband-wife quotient here and the way the man was feeling very 'manly' till the problem didn’t crop up and after that, his wife took all the decisions. 

The Great Escape is one story I didn’t like. Though it had an Agatha Christie feel, it still lacked the finesse of having a sound conclusion as a mystery should have. Too many introductions to characters at one point in time made me very confused. Though the ending was salvaged, the author’s forte is mainly emotional drama and not a mystery and he should really play more with human emotions that came across beautifully in the first few stories. 

The Last Puff was a neat end to the collection. There is one dialogue I took severe objection to though in all fairness it was not written in the wrong light. “Then why don’t you lie down and enjoy rape, if it is inevitable?” Even someone having this thought process, as a character, insults me as a woman. And it was an unnecessary comparison and not using it would not have changed the story in any way.

Concluding on this collection there is only one thing I will say. This author has a strong voice. A strong storytelling inclination. He can play with words beautifully and I felt that his sense of humor is subtle yet in some places a reader will start smiling. Drama and emotion is his forte, at least in this collection. 

Recommended read for a lazy afternoon with a cup of coffee. 



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Friday, December 29, 2017

Spotlight: LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS by Rishabh Jhol

Blog Tour by The Book Club of LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS by Rishabh Jhol


LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS
by
Rishabh Jhol

Blog Tour by The Book Club of LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS by Rishabh Jhol


Blurb

Doubt has pivoted many a relationship across the centuries. Whether it is Othello suspicious of Desdemona or through the rise of paranoia as a trope in twentieth century writings. While paranoia naturally suggests the vulnerability of individual mind to social rhetoric, it is also the space for deep interrogation of the individual that renders him/her to paranoia. This novel presents that doubt has the potential to be a space of liberation.

Madeeha works in Jordan to rehabilitate Syrian refugees. Zehen, a political analyst from India, meets her in the US during their social impact program. He is intrigued and charmed by her, and falls deeply in love. But the world political climate, with its accompanying cultural narratives about terror and pain, infects Zehen’s mind. Zehen begins to suspect Madeeha as a possible mujahid. Will he find his truth? Fear doesn’t devastate; it stirs the inner pot. 

The novel uses Sufi philosophical terms to mark the journey to self-love and explores the tensions between Ishq-e- Mazizi (worldly love) and Ishq-e- Haqiqi (love for Divine). The novel uses the backdrops of various cities around the world to build its narratives – Cusco and Lima in Peru, Petra/Aqaba/Amman/Jerash in Jordan, New York/Philadelphia/DC/Chicago/Seattle/San Francisco. The cultures within each of these cities inform and influence the story so that each city becomes a character themselves participating in empowerment and liberation of the main protagonist.

It is a tender love story that triumphs heartbreaks and sets the foundation of deep lasting future relationships - a delightful emancipation from social intrigues and cultural constraints.

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Read an excerpt here:

Zehen was experiencing sweet joy in his heart. Memories bustled in the head. When did he first see her? Zehen searched his head madly. Orientation session? Corridor to the classroom? However, he tried, he couldn’t pinpoint the moment. A whirr of images, of moments, yet-to- be collaged. And a heart that already had a narrative, waiting to be inset.

We imagine that all romantic stories will have a sigh-worthy romantic beginning. But beginnings are when the heart awakens, when the soul remembers. A presence stills and emerges from the shadows of time.

His first memory was when she introduced herself in the class. They had gathered at Presidium University for a one-year course on Social Impact Leadership. Outside, the white fringe tree was laden with its grape-like fruits. The pine, oak and spruce waited for winter to tell the world how unchangeable they were. And the old Redwood stood proud like the institution itself. Inside, in the warm classroom, students from various cultures across the world had gathered. Icebreaker session was on and the usual round of introductions.

Introduction is a ritual. A cumbersome ritual. How does one reduce the tapestry of one’s entire existence, the colors, and the many weaves into a single palatable thread?



About the author


I was born into poverty. At the time of my birth, my parents shared a one -room hut with six other family members in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Delhi.

It was a hot day in the month of March 1995. I was in standard 4th and had an examination the following day. As was regular in that locality, we didn't have electricity that day. I couldn't study or sleep properly. One of the watershed moments happened when I came back from school the next day. We had an inverter installed at home. I knew we couldn't afford an inverter. But my dad was always convinced that the way out of poverty for our family is through education.

Despite an interest in creative writing, I chose to study a subject that society values more – Finance. Later, I got into one of the top colleges for finance in the country. My first salary out of college (in 2007, when I was 20 years old) was higher than that of my dad's salary at the time.

When I was 24 years old, I had everything that makes one happy – loving parents, great partner, close-knit group of friends, and career path that exceeded every goal. Yet, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad either; but it never felt like my life. I had carefully and meticulously built that life though. Contextually, it was the safe thing to do.

Following year though, I had to deal with the loss of my 7¬year old relationship and of my 5¬year old job. My identity was crushed. My biggest lesson was that you can fail at what you don't want, and what you consider safe; you might as well take a chance at what you truly want.

Next year, I got my ‘ideal’ job but walked away from it. Failure had taught me to be more ambitious and audacious. I had reached a point in my life where I wanted my work to have more meaning; and to stand for something more important than myself.

I started a political consulting company to maneuver social ascendance of marginalized communities by equalizing access to political capital. I primarily did topical research for MPs for their debates in the parliament and on TV shows. Partial project list includes:

Providing 108 rape survivors with medical, legal, financial, and social support over six months through one of my client's NGO
Getting amendments passed in the communal violence bill that tackle systemic bias towards Muslims
Helping three social entrepreneurs raise a combined total of INR 43 lakhs from their MP for community initiatives

Along with running my own company, I focused on my passion for writing and traveling as well. I solo travelled to all seven wonders of the world, and did two-cross country trips by train in India and in the US. I have also written and published three fiction novels.

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