Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review: Dangle by Sutapa Basu


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ms. Basu’s Ipshita is a character that will be hard to forget for a long time. Traveling across many time zones, Ipshita makes us a part of a journey as she loses herself between reality and make-believe. It is not that the readers don’t know that she is suffering from schizophrenia but the real challenge is to understand how Ipshita finally realizes that. “Does somebody want to kill me?” Is a statement that is constantly haunting her. Her paranoia is constantly making her doubt whoever is around her or imagine things and people who don’t exist. A bit of news or a childhood memory – anything can bring about a shift in her life.

When she meets Amar I started thinking that this is the true love that she had been waiting for. But then, I was introduced to Adi. Ms. Basu has done a good job in blending the real with the surreal. The third character that enters Ipshita’s life is Akash. He did not leave much of an impression on me. Maybe because he was not there for a long time in the protagonist’s life.

Each of these characters left an impact on Ipshita’s mind. The best part of this novel is the family love and understanding that is portrayed. In a true sense, you can call it the "hearth" of the novel – a place from where Ipshita draws her strength from. Adi’s character is that of a true friend in every meaning and he forms the backbone of her life.

Ipshita comes across as a very strong character. A young girl who had a traumatic past and some deep rooted memories – is bound to undergo what Ipshita was going through.

The only problem I had with this novel was the opening scene. I cannot understand why the airplane was scaring Ipshita so much. Why does she have to relate it to the attack on the Twin tower? For later in the novel nowhere is it mentioned about her having aviophobia.

Another thing I loved about this novel is the lack of dramatics. Every situation was very dramatic but Isphita’s reaction to every situation was very subdued, normal. This will not create a jarring effect in the reader's mind as you will be left pondering as to where Isphita is actually taking you. Did she even have a destination?

The language is superb in this novel and you can hardly find any flaw with the editing, characterization, and the storyline. Highly recommended for all types of readers.

Disclaimer: I got this novel from Kindle Unlimited and the review is my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Smitten Husband by Sundari Venkatraman

The Smitten Husband (Marriages Made in India, Book #1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Story

It was destiny in the form of “horoscope matching” that brought Sapna and Ram together. It was not "love at first sight". At least not for Sapna. Ram comes across as a totally love stuck hero which is kinda cute. While Sapna is not ready for marriage but due to parental pressure, she has to tie the knot. But Ram understands her reluctance and is ready to give her the chance to fall in love with him before consummating the marriage. What starts after that is a series of wooing and beautiful incidents that bring both of them together.

The Plot
There is not much of outside conflict in this story. The conflict lies within the heart of Sapna. I became a silent bystander hoping that she would soon realize what a gem Ram is. His silence contributes to the growth of her character. From a shy woman to confidence personified – hers is a beautiful journey.

Could I relate to the characters?
The characters are very relatable. As I always complain about all Ms. Venkatraman’s book – they finish off too soon. I wanted to know about the relationship between Ram and his parents a bit more and more than that while Ms. Venkatraman was very generous about Ram’s quotient with Sapna’s family, she really went miserly the other way round. I wanted to know more about how Lakshman helped out his brother. What was Chanda’s relationship with Sapna? Oh heck! I am greedy.

But the chemistry between Ram and Sapna is the oomph factor. The scene where she wears his shirt is one of those butterfly moments in your stomach. Ms. Venkatraman is a die-hard romantic no doubt.

What I liked
The love story between the two protags will make you finish this novella in one go. I loved the progressive nature of Ram and his gentle yet firm character will make you fall in love with him.

What I didn’t like
On the other hand, Sapna seems to have taken more from this relationship than she has given. A sort of equilibrium between the two would have been good but I am not complaining. She comes across as a pure Suraj Barjatiya heroine who finds her Prince Charming. Mr. Barjatiya, do have a look here.

A must read for all ROMANCE lover. A few sensual scenes are very well written and of course as Ms. Venkatraman’s fans will say. This book is ‘unputdownable’.

Disclaimer: I bought this book from and this is my honest review.

Book Review: Destiny Decides by P. G Van

Destiny decides..: A tale of two hearts in search of true loveDestiny decides..: A tale of two hearts in search of true love by P.G.Van

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Who can resist a biker speeding on the highway and focusing all his attention on you? The way which Ms. Van introduced Nick, he comes across as a heartthrob. The story is just like any other love story where a girl meets the boy after many years and finds out that she is still attracted towards him and the icing on the cake is, he equally loves her.

The love story begins.
Though Sameera was always attracted to Nick, but circumstances had driven them apart. And then one fine day he suddenly comes back to her life and brings back all those old emotions and love. In this love story, there is not much of a conflict. The parents are lovely, the siblings are lovable and the chemistry between the two protagonists is something to die for.

Then, how come this is such a long read?
Here the author has experimented with a twist. A subtle and underlining threat of mystery where we know that someone is looking for the two sisters and those mystery men are from the Royal family of Rajasthan. Interesting! For the story setting is totally on the Western shores and not much has been told about the roots of the girls’ background. Sometimes I felt that there are too many events in the story, and I wanted to just grab that page where both the lovers fall in love and gallop away to the sunshine, it is at this time that this thread of mystery proves to be very addictive. I wanted to reach the end just to find out who these men were.

What I liked about this novel
Some time back I had read that a writer is most comfortable in writing about those events and surroundings that she lives in. Clearly, this is true in the case of Ms. Van. You can understand her comfort zone in the way the Indians in the USA have been described throughout the novel. The lifestyle, the relationships and the interaction between the parents and children are very authentic.
The chemistry between the protagonists is very cute and the way Sameera dances for his mother brings out the beautiful and soft side of hers – which was not present in many of the scenes before. While Nick has been shown as a very understanding character, Sameera is often portrayed as a very strong one. Yet there is no clash between the two due to this.

The best part was the relationship between the two sisters, Sameer and Nate. Life becomes very easy when you have such sibling love around you.

What I did not like
The length of the novel. Once he understood, as a reader, that the protagonists are in love – I wanted more. I wanted to know why they were not quickly tying the knot. Pages and pages of the love story without any conflict often make the reader skip a few pages. The editing could have been better and if this author finds a good editor, there is no stopping her from reaching the best-selling list. She definitely is a storyteller.

For all those who love romances but the heat quotient is high – grab this book.

Disclaimer: I got a copy of this book from Kindle unlimited. This review is my honest opinion.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Darling, What You Don't Know

Time flies. One never knows how one reaches that stage of life when you either look back and reminiscence about the past with nostalgia or just move on. My trip to Kolkata was one unfolded a lot of family secrets to me.

Life is really funny actually. As you grow, you are supposed to be wiser. But then at a certain corner you find a parcel, all wrapped up with the memories of life, neatly tied with love from your mom. A bundle called Darling, What You Didn't Know. 

I found this bundle in my cousin's house. A small neatly packed box, that had one diary. My family members told me that they had kept it for me - as a memory of my mom. I was a bit hesitant to open it at first. After all, secrets always make your heart bleed. But all my cousins insisted and so I opened it. 

A small diary, written in my mom's small and beautiful handwriting. They were scripts. Beautiful short stories sculpted into scripts. I never even knew my Mom was a scriptwriter. Those yellowed pages, re-introduced her to me - as a woman. Today I have started a diary of my own. Hoping one day it would introduce me to my daughter. The day she would need me most, and I would be twinkling somewhere in the cosmos of life. 

So my darling daughter.. let's keep the family tradition on.. Coming one  What You Don't Know, err.. lecture from me soon. For Life. 

This post is for the Day 2 of the Bar-A-Thon Challenge. Today's Prompt, What You Don't Know

Blog-A-Rhythm is proud to present BAR-A-THON, the week-long blogging marathon for bloggers everywhere! Yes, that’s right. A whole week of blogging, keeping in mind the fact that the more we write, the better we get.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Spotlight: DANCING WITH DEMONS by Nidhie Sharma

Nidhie Sharma


Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.

Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.

When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?

Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.

Grab your copy @

Watch It...


The Book Club introduces Nidhie Sharma to you

1. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you start writing?

My journey into the world of storytelling began way before I graduated with honours in English literature and was offered scholarship by the university. The early formative years took me into the world of the Panchatantra and classic English literature while I also watched my mother paint. At the same time, I got introduced to the joys of adventure sports too since my father was in the Armed forces. On hindsight, I think these early influences shaped my storytelling ability, albeit in a visual way.

I read voraciously through my teenage years and graduated to Booker prize winning novels quickly. I think reading good literature is hugely instrumental in widening mental horizons and giving the reader an ability to comprehend complex characters, their emotional and physical graphs, along with a unique insight into the geo-political landscape of the times the novel is set in. All of this is a fantastic bedrock and training ground for good writing.

I started experimenting with poetry and short stories initially, and a lot of the early writing during my childhood happened under the open sky in my garden, lying on the grass, dreaming about heroes, action and adventure.

At the age of twelve, I had written what might now be called a Novella. It was about the daily exploits of a girl and her group of friends and how they explored a new part of the nearby jungle every day, in search of wild animals, thrills, and adventure. It was autobiographical of course and my delighted parents had it printed and bound into a small book. They treasure it to this day.

Studying English literature in college helped me enormously in comprehending and interpreting works of literature and soon after, I started to write book reviews for national newspapers. I also wrote short stories every single day during those college years and I think that has helped me hone my craft.

I realize now that writing a drama set in the world of combat sports, which most critics have called visual and action packed, is no accident. Dancing with Demons is a sum total of all my early influences and experiences.

2. How would you describe your book Dancing with Demons? What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

‘Dancing with Demons’ is a gripping romance drama set against the backdrop of combat sports in India. It is the story of two fallen souls who must vanquish their inner demons to become the people they were destined to be. When the story begins, Karan Pratap Singh, an  angst-ridden boxer and the mysterious and volatile Sonia Kapoor are angry and emotionally damaged by their pasts and when fate throws them together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. "It was some night. Thunder and lightning playing, chasing one another like two furtive, carefree lovers, oblivious to the havoc they were wrecking. Sonia put her hand out of the window as the bus started to hurtle down the highway, to Mumbai. A sliver of lightning fell on the trees just ahead of them, setting a large bush on fire. Then thunder roared again... Perhaps this was an appropriate setting for what was to follow...two tumultuous lives on a head-on collision course.”

This book explores if redemption is possible without forgiveness and also delves into the depth and unsaid connection that Karan and Sonia have with each other. In fact, Sonia’s poems in the novel throw light not only on self-love and forgiveness but also on the passionate and intense relationship that these two anti-heroes share.

“I know I’m not easy to love
On somedays there’s no God above
And maybe it’s a messed up world
Into which we have been hurled
And maybe I remind you of you
So Love yourself darling, to love me too”

Overcoming one's limitations or demons is essential in order to fulfill one's true potential. That is the real core of this story. The good thing is, millions of people find a way to battle and overcome their inner demons. So there is hope for everyone and 'Dancing with Demons' is about that hope. It's about the light at the end of the tunnel.

This novel is a fast-paced story of love, loss and resurrection for both Karan and Sonia.  

3. What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

I was brought up in an army background that exposes you to adventure and the outdoors very early on. Having studied in various army schools across India, I trained in karate, horse-riding and attended adventure camps. Camping, trekking, hiking along with all the unforgettable misadventures shaped my love for the outdoors.

As a teenager, I watched live boxing matches as well. They fascinated me no end. Two men beating the hell out of each other while spectators egged them on. I noticed that every time a boxer bled in the ring, the audience cheered even louder. Human reaction to violence only shows how deep and primal that instinct is and this totally fascinated me back then. I started to watch boxing championships on the internet. Soon I was following the sport like a fan and started going for the big fights to Madison square garden while I was studying filmmaking in New York. I met boxers and coaches out of curiosity and interest. I spent time inside boxing gyms and also started to train and spar.

Personally, I love the raw athleticism in this sport and the fact that it is a skillful craft, needing strategy and forethought . Also, when the boxers fight, it is almost like a dance in the ring, lyrical and rhythmic, and that has drawn me to it visually as well. Given my exposure and interests, I think the stage to write Dancing with Demons, was set long ago.

4. What inspires you to write?

A lot of things actually but my mother’s abstract paintings have been my greatest inspiration. Almost nothing inspires me more than a work of art, even a great piece of music for that matter. The outdoors and the sight of a rising sun sometimes triggers the need to put pen to paper. Since I enjoy observing life and am particularly fascinated by human duality and contradictions, I spend a lot of time creating complex and flawed characters and then throwing them into a world I am familiar with. The writing that follows is automatically organic and un-manipulated. Ultimately for me, it’s almost always about exploring and learning something new through the process of creation.

5. And do you ever have a writer's block? What do you do to get rid of it?

I am very passionate about the stories I want to tell and on most days I don’t feel the block but when I do, I think discipline helps. I’ve realized through personal experience that showing up in front of that laptop every single day is the only way to beat it.

6. Who are your favourite writers and poets and have they in anyway motivated you to be better at your craft? If so, how?

My favorite writers are Rohinton Mistry, Ian Mcewan, Maya Angelou, Kiran Desai, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Samuel Beckett, John Donne and T.S Eliot, to name a few. The unparalleled quality of their writing is a huge motivation for any young storyteller and I’m no exception. Like I mentioned earlier, my journey into the world of writing began with reading good literature and I strive every single day to better my craft.

7. Apart from writing what are your other interests?

I enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports, photography, watching plays and music of all genres.

8. You are also a filmmaker, how do you juggle between both the crafts?

The first step for a Writer-Director like me is to put an interesting story in place and once that is accomplished, then it’s all about visually interpreting and executing it.

As a filmmaker, I think I  am lucky to have a unique advantage by virtue of being a novelist too. It has given me a deeper understanding of story, characterization, plot, subplots, genres, mood and tone,  all of which are an essential part of building an engaging narrative, be it for a movie or a novel. I also have greater understanding of the source material (the novel) and the training to adapt it for the screen. Infact, I have already finished adapting ‘Dancing with Demons’ into a screenplay and thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Although Cinema and literature are principally two different mediums, both aim at telling an interesting story well and despite their own unique challenges and audiences, I think it is possible to straddle them equally well if one has the talent, passion and training for storytelling.

Personally, I fell blessed that I am able to juggle between these two crafts and I’m having a lot of fun doing so.

9. Finally, what is your next novel going to be about and where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I write every single day and am sure the next story will find me soon enough.

The journey for ‘Dancing with Demons’ is still on and my full focus and energies at the moment are on directing the film.

I am a filmmaker-novelist and that’s all I know, so that’s where you’ll find me even five years down the line.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#ATOZCHALLENGE True or False? The Ambiguous Origin of the Devadasis . Letter D

Disclaimer: none of my stories are my views. I am just presenting different views as was present or is prevalent at a certain period of time.
If we trace back the history of a Devdasi system you will find many ambiguities. But there is one that really caught my attention. It was totally against all that I believed in. Maybe this is a theory given by a man to show himself in his pious myth or just a justification of why a woman was treated like animals from time immemorial. I don't know.

According to Kalidasa's Meghdoot, the Kamasutra refers to these Devadasis as courtesans who were high skilled artisans. They were the ones that kept the art of Odissi and Bharatnatyam alive.  They were the ones whose voice used to sing in praise of the lord in the temples.

One fact cannot be denied that there is no mention of Devadasis in our Jatakas, but a few hints have been given in the Puranas. But the history can be traced till the downfall of Buddhism. A theory also goes that Devdasi's were the Buddhist nuns, who had to resort to prostitution after Buddhism died down in India.

The only difference between Devadasis and  sadhikas was that they were not celibates and could either chose one patron or several. Just like a man could in those days. (I am not at all pointing towards the moral aspect but stating things as it was.) But then with the British Raj, this system came under a lot of criticism and it was during this time the devadasi system began to be compared to prostitution. Till then no one had dared to call these learned women prostitutes. It was a way of life. Right or wrong- it was where women were educated in the Shastras and Vedas fine arts and due to the patronage they received were often and were often the richest class of the society. Till they were not declared as prostitutes by the advent of the Britishers in India.

Was this theory mentioned in Meghdoot a fact? Or is the origin of the Devadasis as scholars are myth?

Fact or Fiction? What would you call this? 

Monday, April 4, 2016

#ATOZCHALLENGE True or False? The Mystery of the Crop Circle: Letter C

Switzerland: Img. Src. Wikipedia
Crop Circle was one of the trending topics for debate in the early 70s when the first design was discovered as early as 1678. Some came up with the theory of meteor attacks while others blamed it on the storms leaving these marks in its wake. But no one could explain how these crop circles had such precise geometric designs and a few have been said to follow the theorems of geometry. Most of you would ask what is so great about it? Well, they all are made in one night. Farmers go to sleep for the night and when they wake up all they see are the patterns. Often Celtic marks or geometric patterns. Like someone wants to give, us earthlings, a message.
When Doug Bower and Dave Chorley in the 70’s came forward to claim that they had made the crop circles which seemed to have sprung overnight, I have a feeling people almost felt cheated. Of course, that is my theory :), but to think that such intrinsic designs could be man made is still acceptable but to think that they can be made overnight, is literally challenging even Hephaestus. 

This gave rise to a new profession namely the cerealogists and from the 1970s till today many such crop circles have been found. No one has seen anyone making them and they all have sprung overnight.
Tv9 Gujarat - Gandhinagar : Crop circle appears overnight, creates curiosity

One of them happened in India too. Gandhinagar, Gujrat. The problem is if it had happened in the cities one would have still thought of it not being scientific but overnight such occurrence in a village and villagers not knowing about it at all? Makes one wonder.

Personally I feel the pattern is not the same. If you see the indents.

Another advocate of this theory is the finding of the Rosewell stone having the same pattern as that of the crop circle in Chisledon, 4000 miles away from where the stone was found. What was unique here was not only the stone has been carved to precision without changing the shape and smoothness of the stone but also it has a unique magnetic quality which no other stone displayed in that area. Was it man made using the sandblasting method as one scientist proved that it is possible to carve designs on stones like this. If yes, how does one explain the magnetic quality of the rock? One would never know.  

Fact or Fiction? What would you call this? 

Tweet: Tweet to me if you think #cropcirlce is a fact or fiction. @rubinaramesh199