Friday, February 27, 2015

The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner

There was a time I read one fantasy fiction after another. New worlds , strange powers , similar tales of opression and ego pited against resolve of few souls who are obsessed to die rather than live as slaves. 

And then as suddenly I grew up or so I told myself. Apparently not. I still like a good fantasy fiction which can transport me to the new land and make me turn page after page to know who lives to see the end of the book with me ( or the beginning for them)

The labyrinth Wall, the first book of obsidian series is about Ariana who is a Mahk and her attempt to escape the labyrinth, the only home she hs known since she was created. Her creators produce Mahk and assign them  serial number like some factory producing machines and leave them to live as they want. In  land of no clran water and no food, collecting obsidian for creators or killing fellow Mahk for snatching their food is the only life Ariana has seen. Of course she never kills anyone but has stolen enough imes and being beaten too. 

One day she sees a man emerge out of one of the walls of the labyrinth and that gives her hope of a better wprld on the other side. Thus begins her adventures where she meets other Mahk , a creator gaurd and 2 strangers too. With such eccentric company , she can not decide whom to trust and how much.

What kept me glued to the book was the details and layers that make the labyrinth come alive for the readers. One can easily imagine the nooks and corners of this dark land and hope for success of the few brave souls running against time and creators. There are no loopholes in the setting of thisnworld and actions of the resident but the book has too many questions that remain untouched for the reader. 

The book does not ends on  cliffhanger note but neither it will leave you satisfied. That probably is something that disappointed me a little bit. Or perhaps i like to be made a little impatient for next part. 

The author has done real good job in developing the characters and showong both their good and mysterious sides. The action scenes are neither messy nor plain. Andsome interactions actully make you question if this really is a fantasy. 

My rating - 3.5/5 

Shatru by Vadhan , Kronikles Book 1

Shatru is the first part of the kronikles series by Vadhan which is basically the fight against evil. It isthe war of one human ( half breed actually ) against the darkness that's on rise again as it is forseen in the kaliyug.

SO what's new ?

The plot not so much but the writing totally wins. There is subtle humor and freshness to the action scenes at times. And that kept me glued to the book. That nagging feeling to go back to the book as soon as you can , the desperation to closr the last page and to be a little sad that you have to wait for the next part now.. this book gave me that.

Shatru is the best hunter in all worlds and that makes him become the focal point of war thats been fought before and will happen again too as soon as everyone realizes that darkness has begun creeping into their ranks and worlds. There are talking tree , devas , asuras , rakshas , gandharvas and a few more tribes that have their roles and tantrums within the world. All this is going to change and how !

I liked all the characters of the book and the fact that i could relate to the tribes describes since these are inspired from hindu mythology. Shatru and Kris together make a good team as well as the gaurdians that they report to. There was never a dull moment in the book nor any 30 page gap where i did not chuckle.

Go read this one for a good fun if you like fantasy fiction. Or even if you do not.

My rating : 4/5

Buy Shatru Kronikles Book-1

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cafune by Archana Kumar

There are poems and then there are poems by some you know.

There is expectations and anticipation for the latter and also much love when you read the verses , knowing how wonderful the person behind these thoughts is.


Cafune by Archana Kumar is not just love poetry or poems on feelings of heart re told. It is love in a way that many of the readers would relate to.


Say is a poem that asks you to say your heart in many or any way ( a sound advice ) whereas Gods became my favorite poem for being so amusing yet simply practical. Is it okay to be in Love Archana asked after listing so many things that you fear losing love to and when I read “she” I smiled for she had captured a story I once wrote on same thought. And as you are turning a little mushy reading the random images , suddenly a poem makes you aware of the world around and how love alone does not makes this world. And there is not just one feeling or thought that this gifted lady can touch with her words.


The poems are as heartfelt for a reader new to Poems and as sharply constructed to someone who has an eye for details and technique of this art. I really liked the haiku in the collection.  The poems also appeal to you for being short but meaty enough to feed your thoughts and feelings from their chest. I am glad there are poets who dare write their heart out on pages and the poems would link even strangers reading them.


I would though want the book to end on the poem “Beautiful “ for that poem is something that is so simple and sweet and heartwarming and hopeful too. If I had to learn a poem to quote somewhere , I will learn this one and share it with all.


My rating : 5/5


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Holy Sinners:Search of Kashmir by Major Saras Tripathi

Title-Holy Sinners: Search Of Kashmir
Author:Major Saras Tripathi
Publisher:Manas Publication
Source:review Copy
Price:995 INR/-

                       I have great respect for Army Men.Infact,that was the sole reason behind me accepting this rather 'heavy' book for review.Written by debutant writer Major Saras Tripathi, an ex-army Man himself, 'Holy Sinners:Search Of Kashmir' is a moving account of the senseless devastations,encounters,firings,militancy and life in the Kashmir Valley.

                     Divided into 14 chapters,'Holy Sinners' is no light read,but that doesn't mean that it's a dull or boring work.Major's writing may lack the craft and finesse of a veteran story teller but that doesn't take the sheen off this well- intentioned, decently executed work.The book not only portrays the hardships faced by the soldiers in the most hostile terrains but also serves to shatter a lot of myths about kashmiris.Our mainstream media quite often gives us a very hazy picture of life in the valley and it's only through books like this that we get to know about the real Kashmir and it's inhabitants.From the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits to the senseless killings happening in the Valley in the name of the 'holy war',the book gives a three dimensional view of the complex issues faced by citizens of the Valley.

                   As I had mentioned before, this is a work of non-fiction.It is actually a collection of real-life incidents which the author had experienced during his stint as a serving Army Officer in the Valley.Some of them are really touching and inspiring.From the illiterate mother in 'Mozi' who, despite losing her beloved son helping the soldiers when they are badly in need of help to the mild mannered teacher in 'The Gift Of Shroud',the book has got some really interesting stories to tell.For me,this work is a celebration of humanity,more than anything else.It's all about courage,hope and love for the motherland.

                   The writing is competent and is devoid of any literary pretensions.The writer deserves a pat on his back for doing away with lengthy descriptions and un-necessary detailing.One of the main positives of this book is that it never turns out to be a tiring read.The book packs in a lot of information on how the Army functions and also throws light into the hardships faced by  Army Men.The minor issues I have with this book concern the editing and proof-reading.Some chapters definitely need a little bit of trimming.The Cover page also could have been better,a lot better! At INR 995/-,I think this book is pretty expensive!But these minor flaws apart,'Holy Sinners' is an interesting read which deserves your time and money to be invested in!

                 On the whole,this book is an interesting work.I'm giving it a 3.25 out of 5


Friday, February 20, 2015

The Lemon Girl by Jyoti Arora

Lemon girl is the story of Nirvi and Arsh and one chance meeting that ties Arsh to her forever. The first meeting and the sweet cherished memory of that meeting stays alive in his mind forever. It is so well inked in his heart that years later when he meets her again , he is not ready to accept the new changed Nirvi. His "lemon girl" has masked herself behind layers of new life and yet , Arsh is adamant to bring her back though he does not know why this obsession. 

A well plotted tale of two people who are bound to each other by fate in inexplicable way. How much patience and love does it take to erase your past and make one hopeful for a future. How does one deal with demons overpowering the good heart you possess ? How do you finally forgive yourself and free your spirits for something you never understood your role in.

I truly enjoyed this story of new beginning, trusting yourself and of a guy's goal to bring happiness back to a girl. It is also a hopeful tale of Nirvi finding the right from wrong and taking a stand to win respect back in her own eyes. Jyoti's writing is very fluid and the conversations are real. The characters are well sketched and their reactions make them relatable in the context. 

Love the cover but the pages and the font might have been a little better. 

My rating : 3.5/5

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

" The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it.
It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

Surreal, lyrical and bewitching- such is the aura of this novel.
There are a lot of stories I've left in the middle to take a break for a moment or many moments.
But, The Night Circus has latched itself on to me like a fairy-tale latches on to a child's dream.
It is about Marco Alisdair and Celia Bowen, two magicians nurtured to become a part of a game with no rules, a game without an end until one of them dies.
Their mentors, Prospero the Enchanter and Mr. A.H. set the Circus of Dreams as a stage for their apprentices to take forward their long-standing rivalry.
But, the plan goes awry when their hatred eventually evolves into unconditional love and now their moves are for each other rather than against.
Amidst this entanglement, is the circus in all its glory, changing with the changing relationship of Marco with Celia, slowly withering away at first and then regaining its fame as one approaches the end. 

The most beautiful aspect of this fantasy novel is its imagery and the subtle portrayal of love in all its colours.
Set near an ahistorical Victorian London, the circus is a garden of ice where acrobats soar without nets, where patrons are in a maze of cloud one minute and on the ground the next, where an illusionist turns her coat to a raven for real and much more.
Then there is Celia and Marco, building love letters for each other for years, encased in tents.

This is a place which one craves to belong to, just for its beauty but abjures because of the indefinite cost adhered to it.
You dream of the place, it is abstract to you but still very real, fittingly put in words by Ms. Morgenstern-

“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des RĂªves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. 
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.” 

Soon to be made into a movie, The Night Circus is sure to leave any reader pensive. Give yourself a chance to fall in this dreamland where good triumphs over evil again, but in a way never heard of before.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

RapeScars by Gaurav Sharma

Some books surprise you and yet you cn not state why. Rapescars is the story of Akriti who gets raped by her boyfriend and his friends. And this is the least of her troubles 'cause the society and the fight to get justice takes away from her the scars but leave behind the bitterness  and guilt to last a lifetime.

The story has its fair share of twists and some predictability on the whole but its the tiny details and the layers that will keep you hooked. The rape , the stigma , the responses of society and the aftermath ; a bit of each is covered here and there in these pages. You have to admit its a huge task to take up such topic and at the end of the day its the writer's personal view. But saying that, i was partly convinced with the way the story unfolds. And am so glad for the strength Akriti portrays in the book. Cheers for her folks who stand with her and go through the whole humiliating situation with her. We need such stories, and more such strength for the women till the men learn to be responsible and fair.

I admired the writing style to be simple and the conversations very realistic. The subject, as much as it has been discussed in public still has never been covered from one end to other and the in betweens in this way.

My rating is not applicable.
Just read this and pass it.
It might help a few souls.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

She loves me,He loves me not by Zeenat Mahal

There are few stories which are more than about love and romance where you find yourself rooting for both beauty and the beast.  The latest novel by Zeenat is one such story of fate , hopes , persistence and above all the line we sometimes forget when we cross to the darker side.

Zoella has always desired Fardeen from a distance and even when he was engaged to the sophisticated Neha , she kept her dreams alive . This with the dream to make a name for herself and be independent one day. Fardeen , the brother of Zoella's best friend is the one who never got refused for anything , owing to money, looks and charisma equally blessed on him. A cruel twist in Fardeen's life leaves him alone and Zoella gets chosen to fill his life with care and love. The fairy tale that Zoella always wanted is presented to her with all ingredients of turning into a messy affair if she falters just once.

It is amusing to see how relationship dynamics are so weird and yet predictable at some levels.One can beat anyone at his / her own game andit stand true for both love and hate. Love the lovers and hate the haters lot more than they expect ; and you got their attention. But it is extremely hard work and one that needs lot of patience. Do Zoella and Fardeen have the will and patience to keep up the pretenses and let their presumptions make this tale work is what you have to find out.

The story has a realistic lovely setting of a well settled family, loving siblings and some amazing conversations spread all across the book. It is really sweet how Fardeen's family sides with Zoella and treats her with such cares. The book makes you laugh , smile, curse both Zoella and Fardeen and yet feel hopeful for love , for happy ends that they deserve.

Zeenat has turned me into a mush ball with this book and I could not have asked for another feeling this week. I am a fan of Zeenat's brilliant writing and light books.

My rating :4/5

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Mirrored Life by Rabisankar Bal , translated by Arunava Asinha

There are stories. Always. Stories about people , about other stories , about people telling the stories , about stories new and old and forgotten alike. Stories liek books reach you by fate. And its fate that sent Ibn Battuta on his travels , reciting and collecting tales of Rumi known to most as Maulana.

Followers of Rumi present Battuta with a manuscript of Rumi's life stories and he goes away from Konya spreading them. It is like he takes all the beauty and love form Konya ( the birthplace of Rumi ) in his heart and the gifts from fellow travellers and followers. The stories he shares are amazed as much as amazing 'cause they flow endlessly entwined with daily life of commoners.
For me these were all conversations , like snippets from an evening , the aroma of favorite cup of chai on a relaxing day. I was hooked to the book from the first page and more when the author mentions that no one can reproduce the stories as they were born. We can only share the qissa but not the physical surroundings or the emotional state of the people involved. And this is the same for this review I am writing.
I am so lucky I got to read this book that questions the answers and answers new questions. It was a difficult book to finish within a short time and I am guilty of avoiding reading more than few pages every now and then.
Do yourself a favor and read this book. ASAP.
My rating : 5/5 

Buy the book here 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How Did It Go by Prasun Choudhary

Title:How Did It Go?
Author:Prasun Choudhary
Source:review copy from the publisher

                 Prasun Choudhury's 'How Did It Go' is the coming of age story of five engineering students of I.I.T. Kharagpur.It is the typical desi campus story by a techie- turned- author trying (a bit too hard) to be an inspirational/self-help version of Chetan Bhagat's 'Five Point Someone'. 

              Written in the form of the protagonist Percy's journal,'How Did It Go?' traces his four years of life as an undergraduate in one of the most prestigious Institutions of the Country(read 'Indian Institute of Technology').It's about how he meets and makes new friends,falls in love and ultimately learns some big 'life lessons' from his failures.

              As the author rightly tells us in the beginning of this work,'HDIG' is no nobel worthy literature.It's a simple story of five friends narrated without any literary pretensions which infact turns out to be it's biggest strength as well.I'm sure that this book will remind atleast some of you of your long forgotten College days-the good old days in which you were a free bird and did whatever you felt like doing.The illustrations by Biban Roy are quite good and helps in setting the overall tone of the book.The writer has included a few practical takeaways from the small mistakes which he had made during his formative years which also works to the advantage of this book. 

              But sadly,all good ideas don't necessarily translate into fast entertaining reads. The basic problem with this book lies in it's execution.The writing is too verbose and fails to evoke any kind of emotion in the reader.Even though the writer has put in a lot of effort to pack in a number of amusing incidents in the book,all the efforts go down the drain,thanks to the mediocre writing.To make matters worse,the editing is also shoddy and as a result the narrative goes on without any definite direction for a major portion of the book.Agreed,the book is a collection of incidents in the college life of Percy and his friends,but there should be some sort of connection between the events so that the reader doesn't lose interest in the proceedings.Perhaps, this book would have worked better if it were an anthology of Campus stories!

             The characters are poorly developed and appear half-baked.Honestly,the protagonist,Percy never comes across as a likeable or a funny person.At times the book itself reads like a memoir rather than a genuine work of fiction.Btw,I just found out that there is a website called couponzdeal which is giving out discount coupons for buying books online.Check it out for yourself and redeem coupons.

 Verdict:Overall,'How did it Go?' works in parts.I'm giving it a two out of five.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Breach by Amrita Chowdhury

Breach is not just a cyber thriller but more like a beginner's guide to all good and bad of cyber world crime and Amrita has done a brilliant job with this book. A simple word "Breach" and multiple areas of doing that online - more than we can imagine and many of which Amrita has touched in the book.

The story starts within the pharma company Acel which is on the verge of filing the patent for a breakthrough drug Colare for fighting cancer. And not just that , Acel has taken the risky decision to split the tests and the data collection between US and its new division in India headed by Vir , whose love and career are both put at stake following this decision. Just when everything is supposed to go right , trouble begins with data from Indian end and it soon threatens everything Vir worked for , not to mention billions of dollars , reputation and credibility of Acel. Some one out there is corrupting the data that is so critical to prove the success of the drug and also wreaking havoc in the whole data storage.

The book , soon moves to multiple cities and characters , which bothered me a little bit in the beginning. All through the book , whenever a character is introduced , it is a good practice to give some background and character sketch which is properly done here. But the same also tends to overwhelm a bit. I feel the author should have done away with few characters, not bothering to give them a face and name.

Nevertheless , the book keeps you engaged while taking through all the processes followed for data collection , security and privacy while it is shared within closed teams. Meanwhile it effectively shows how it is not just the MNC or the government who are targeted but also the normal people get involved unknowingly. The Acel Indian team appears like mini heroes as they give up sleep and food to find the person responsible for their troubles.

I liked some of the subtle shady areas Amrita has uncovered and presented for layman person in order to make each of us more aware of what is happening around us. The book rushes through all of this in a good pace till the end where it lets down a bit. The motives of the one person who is responsible for all the mayhem are mere speculations and though I was convinced, I would have liked if there was some elaboration still.

All in all , it is a well written and well researched book that will surely entertain every thriller lover.

My  rating : 4/5

Buy Breach: A Cyber Thriller

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

"Once there was; once there wasn't.
God's creatures were as plentiful as grains
And talking too much was a sin....

-The preamble to a Turkish tale
              ....and to an Armenian one."

Daring to bring up a controversial issue such as the Armenian Genocide and Turkey's constant denial of the same, the Turkish author, Elif Shafak, an ardent feminist, set this story revolving around two young women- Asya and Armanoush.

On the one hand is the Turkish Asya, nineteen, who portrays a rather rudimentary self even though she is raised by her affectionate aunts and her grandmother, while on the other hand, Armanoush, twenty-one, is an Armenian-American girl who is much gentle and unassuming than Asya.
Inquisitive about her Armenian roots, Armanoush travels all the way from Arizona to Istanbul without her parents' knowledge. Her visit unravels the secret that links both their families and ties them to the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres.

Elif Shafak was put on trial for allegedly "denigrating Turkishness" when she revealed the contemporary mindset of the Turks and their Armenian counterparts regarding their history in this novel. Her style of writing is fancy yet straightforward,outspoken yet gripping. Through her narration,she brings forth her feminist ideology and tries to empower a woman's mind and heart, as she surely empowered mine. This is because I could really identify with Asya's character or maybe I crave to identify with her,to some extent . She projects an image of a rock-hurt by nothing but only her questionable past- which she thought was buried in some deep abyss never to surface again.

Her personal manifesto of nihilism suggests a deep rooted hatred for pretence but love for self. She is not a "tea-glass woman" , the kind of Istanbulite women Shafak truly criticizes. In this fashion, Elif Shafak drew a clear picture as to what kind of woman can survive the "traumatic culture" that Turkey, apparently, bred.

Still, what remains to point out is the psyche of the people of modern-day Turkey. They are "stuck between the East and West. Between the past and the future."
The secular modernists on one side and the conventional traditionalists on the other side are keeping the common man from speaking any critical word, which also, could be the reason why Elif Shafak got into trouble with a novel this honest.

To sum up, this book can give you goosebumps taking you across a crooked bridge from the troubled past to an unresponsive present along with some insight on Turkish-Armenian relations over the centuries.

'Indie authors have the opportunity to take control of the start of their careers!'

In the first part of the interview Ekta had told us about her journey as a writer and how hard it is to play the dual role of a homemaker and a writer.In this concluding part,she tells us about her favourite books,future plans and the prospects of indie publishing.Read on!

They say we are currently in the golden age of Indie Publishing.Madam,what is your take on that?

---I agree 100 percent! Now more than ever indie authors have the opportunity to take control of the start of their careers.Many people don’t realize that when a person gets published by a traditional publishing company, that new author doesn’t have much say in many things regarding his/her book. For example, if an author’s book becomes popular his/her editor may dictate that the next book be written in a particular way. The editor is trying to help the author capitalize on what made that person popular in the first place, but readers usually read a variety of things. They don’t mind if their favorite authors experiment a little bit. A traditional publishing company is often uncomfortable with experimentation, sometimes stifling a writer’s creativity in favor of a secure investment: what sold once will probably sell again.

In indie publishing authors have complete control. If a person wants to start his/her career with a YA novel and then try a romance next, no one will come in and say the author can’t do it.That doesn’t necessarily mean switching genres right away is a good idea, but at least the author can give it a try.The difference in control also applies to the amount of money the author gets paid—in other words, the traditional publishing company gets the majority of the money and the author gets a minimal cut. In indie publishing the author gets to keep most of the money. I say “most” because a smart indie author will hire a professional editor, a professional graphic designer for the cover and a professional formatter for the interior. A smart indie author will pay these professionals and then gets to keep the rest of the money.There are many things that complicate the pursuit of indie publishing, but it gives thousands of talented writers the opportunity to share their stories with readers. At the end of the day, that’s only a good thing.

 Yourfavourite author?genre?

---This is like asking a mother which child is her favorite! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed books by JhumpaLahiri, John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, some Nicholas Sparks. As you can see I enjoy women’s fiction, mysteries, and even love stories (not romance novels; there’s definitely a difference!) I LOVE fiction about World War II and the bravery—and depravity—of that time period.

Recently I’ve started enjoying middle grade and YA novels—The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the Mister Max books by Cynthia Voigt, among others.
Although I’m not an avid sci-fi/fantasy reader, I have a warm spot in my heart for the Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan. A close friend introduced me to the series when I was in high school, and despite the fact that it’s a fantasy series I think anyone who loves to read would enjoy it. At its core the series is about a group of friends who are trying to find out who they are meant to become and how their relationships with one another change in the process. Anyone can relate to that.
These days there are quite a number of desi authors writing in English. What do you think is your biggest USP when compared to your contemporaries?

---Although I grew up bilingual, because I was born in the States English is my first language. If I compare myself to desi writers authors who were born and raised in India (and I say this with the utmost of humility and meaning no offense to those writers), I know I have an advantage because I’m writing in my native language. When I add to that my experience with spelling competitions, I feel like I have a deep knowledge of words that I can apply to my work.There are many desi writers like me who were born in this country and who have had a wide exposure to words like I did. While we can relate to one another in terms of culture and the immigrant experience, I like to think that my particular upbringing, personality quirks and ideas about the world make my stories stand out.

Which author would you say you really look up to?

---This is a tough question to answer. I think I like JhumpaLahiri’s approach to her work, in the sense that she doesn’t let a schedule or a contract dictate how often she writes. For her fans it’s agonizing waiting for every one of her books to come out, but when it does we realize why. In order to write the way she does, a writer has to expend effort and energy and—most importantly—take time. Despite all the advice to indie authors that they should publish frequently, I think it’s still important—crucial, even—to take that kind of care of your work.

What are your top five favourite novels that you would recommend to all bookworms?

--- (Again, it’s hard for me to pick my top favorites, but here are books I would recommend without a second thought.)

1. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (a sci-fi-cum-historical fiction tale set in the future in England as well as simultaneously in the fourteenth century during the time of the Black Plague; it’s brilliant!)
2. The Book of Answers by C.Y. Gopinath (a satire on the political situation of India that captures in the most subtle ways the country’s current state; again, brilliant!)
3.All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (set in France during World War II, it tells the story of a blind girl and what kind of affect the war has on her family; this one will break your heart and take your breath away all at the same time.)
4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (I couldn’t stop laughing throughout this entire book. A widower decides he wants to commit suicide because he can’t live without his late wife anymore, but little things keep getting in his way and keep postponing the suicide. Anyone who enjoyed the Pixar movie Up will love this one.)
5. Wish by Beth Bracken & Kay Fraser; illustrated by Odessa Sawyer (The story is simplistic, because this is a YA book, but the illustrations are so lush readers will feel themselves sinking into the pictures.)

In India,bookworms still prefer paperbacks to e-books.Madam,when can we expect a paperback version of your books?

---Because I’m only releasing a pair of stories at a time, it isn’t cost effective to release two stories as a book; it would be too short. But I’ve strongly considered the possibility, when I’ve published enough stories, to put all of them in a collection and release that as a paperback. If I do decide to pursue that course, fans of the stories will know well in advance—I will definitely keep everyone up to date on the course that Prairie Sky Publishing will take!

---Thank you so much!

(As told to nikhimenon)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Interview With Author Ekta.R.Garg

 'The traditional publishing company gets the majority of the money and the author gets a minimal cut. In indie publishing the author gets to keep most of the money'

'I began reading at the age of 4 and always felt happiest in my free time when I had a book in my hand'

'Short stories have a hard time attracting attention; some people call them the weaker sister of the novel'

'It’s hard to find an audience with so many people in the same field'

Ekta .R.Garg rose to fame with her innovative 'Stories In Pairs' series.In this candid interview, conducted via e-mail in parts,she speaks about her inspiration,future plans and the benefits of being an indie publisher.Read the first part of the interview here.

In the acknowledgement section of 'Two for the Heart', you have revealed that your love for writing started during your school days. Can you elaborate a bit on that?

I began reading at the age of 4 and always felt happiest in my free time when I had a book in my hand. At the age of 8 I started writing poetry and short narratives for fun. I just found the whole idea of trying to express myself in the written word in a creative way so interesting. 

Soon after that I began competing in spelling competitions, which drew me all the way into the world of words. When you study to compete, especially when you’re studying hard because you want to win, you spend many hours reading these words and finding out what they mean. My hours of study and practicing spelling complemented the writing I was doing.

In the sixth grade our teacher gave us a writing assignment. She wanted each student to create an original story and said we could make it about four or five pages long. This was in the time when we hand wrote everything—no one was using computers in my school yet—so writing a story was quite an involved process.

I thoroughly enjoyed crafting the story and created a mystery with a pair of twins as the main characters. The girls go on a vacation and find a missing treasure. I actually wanted to turn it into a series at some point.

I enjoyed writing the story so much that I took a risk: I wrote a story 20 pages long. I felt a little nervous, because I didn’t want to get penalized for going over the limit. Instead my teacher gave me a high score and wrote “Interesting story! Maybe a budding author here!” in the margin of the last page.

That comment stayed with me and still makes me smile. I really think my teacher planted a seed that stayed and has now started bearing fruit.

You are also a publisher. What do you think is the biggest challenge for budding writers?

---Definitely getting discovered. One of the down sides of indie publishing is that thousands of writers have started competing for the attention of readers who have many other things demanding their time. It’s hard to find an audience with so many people in the same field. But it’s also oddly comforting; an indie author can just think, “I’m not doing this alone; I’m not the only person experiencing these hardships.”

What is the inspiration behind stories in pairs? As in, what made you come up with this brilliant idea of penning down stories sharing a common theme and a link?

---I have dedicated serious time and effort in the last three or four years to studying the publishing industry. When I made the decision in the summer of 2014 to begin indie publishing, I already knew I would face stiff competition from the thousands of other writers who had gone before me. In order to stand out from the crowd, I knew I had to do something just different enough to pique people’s curiosity.

I started with the idea of short stories. As the mother of two young children, I don’t have the time and energy to devote to a full-fledged novel. But because I’ve been conducting my own writing workshop for the last two years I knew I could handle developing and writing short stories.But short stories have a hard time attracting attention; some people call them the weaker sister of the novel, although I don’t agree with that assessment at all. It takes just as much skill, craft and art to construct a compelling short story as it does a novel.

Getting people to acknowledge that and understand it is a different matter.

I knew I would have to find a way to make my stories stand out. So I kept brainstorming ideas and decided to start publishing stories in pairs. But I wanted to make them special and thought I should find a way to make them connect. 

That connection also helps emphasize the larger idea behind Stories in Pairs: that we all have a story to share, and our own stories connect with other people’s stories. We never know how or when those stories will intersect or how big of an impact our stories will have on others. But no one can deny that those connections can and will happen.

 In the second story of the first book (Remembrance), Dr. Pooja Mehra is making a brief appearance. Can we expect her character to make a comeback in your future stories also?

---I don’t have any plans for her to appear in upcoming stories, but I definitely won’t rule it out. You never know where and when characters will appear in future stories!

You are playing the dual role of an author and a publisher. Which role do you enjoy playing the most? Why?

---No guesses about it: definitely writer! I love creating stories and characters and finding a compelling way to share those stories with readers. Now that I’ve begun publishing my own work, I know the probability of a growing audience is real.

Having said that, however, I find the challenges of being a publisher interesting. I won’t lie: I’ve definitely wished more than once for the big budget and big team of a traditional publishing house. But I also find an immense satisfaction in accomplishing each task, big or small, by myself. And because I’ve read so much about how the industry works and how other indie authors have succeeded, I already know where to go for answers to my questions. There’s enough comfort in that fact to allow me to be intrigued by this new role.

(The second part of this interview will be published tomorrow)


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Notes on 'Chasing Tomorrow' by Tilly Bagshawe

Image-Harper Collins UK
      (This post is not a full fledged review of this book.Infact,I have just tried to pen  type down the random thoughts which came to my mind after reading this latest 'Sidney Sheldon' sequel)

          No sane reader  picks up a Sidney Sheldon work (or even a wannabe one) expecting to relish a literary marvel.Actually literary fiction has never been his forte.Barring a few,almost all his books were paisa vasool stuff which provided mindless entertainment.So naturally, that was what I was hoping for when I picked up Tilly Bagshawe's much hyped sequel to Sheldon's 'If Tomorrow Comes'.But sadly,the book turned out to be a dud!

       For a book aspiring to be a con-thriller,'Chasing Tommorrow' is pretty low on thrills.There is hardly any suspense and the saddest part is that the author hasn't bothered to explain the intricacies (in the execution) of any of the high profile con-jobs of Jeff or Tracy.Tilly wastes a lot of time on unnecessary details and cheap drama instead.The typical example being the 'Tracy-Jeff break up' scene.C'mmon even Ekta Kapoor has stopped narrating cliched' stuff like this!  

     The book is a classic case of shoddy writing.The readers are taken for granted and there are too many things happening in the story with none of them making much sense.There is a lot of pointless globe trotting,some high profile con jobs(obviously minus all the necessary detailing about their execution),a bit of cliched family drama(Tracy-Nick/Jean Rizzo-Kids),a serial killer on the run and a frustrated officer investigating the murders in  Bagshawe's world.None of the characters are properly developed and as a result everyone looks half-baked and even stupid(at times).Agreed,the book is a sequel.But what about the new characters in this work?

     The half hearted romantic track thrown into the narrative(Tracy-Blake Carter) lacks any kind of fizz and so is the investigator's family track.The investigation sequences are laughable to say the least.Jean Rizzo seems to be a perpetual follower of his intuitions(which seems to have a cent percent positive predictive value!).Even at the end of the story, it remains unclear how the cunning Canadian came to the conclusion that Mr.D(Spoiler Alert) was indeed the 'Bible Killer'. Boy,this book is a mess!

     The two things that I actually liked about the book are 1) it's a quick read(though silly and tiring at times!).2) the book gave me some sort of insight into the Shroud of Turin.

Verdict- I'll give a 1.5 out of for this disappointing work from Tilly Bagshawe.Read it at your own risk,please!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Seal Of Surya by Amritanshu Pandey

I still remember the time when I had promised not to read indian fiction 'cause it only offered romance and teen mushy stories. Then i discovered mythology and as indian writing evolved to various genre, history fiction was always an untouched genre.

Am so glad that finally when I chanced upon that, it was with this book. While we might consider Rama as either god or human, the fact is some one founded Suryavansha thousands of years before him. And with him, there were various other princes and enemy clans too. And their ancestors who weresometimes right , sometimes wrong.

The Seal of Surya is the story of the first king of our lands - Ikshvaku who at the age of thirteen became the first boy king and each day of his living breath, he proved himself worthy of the title and respect. This is the story of his youth , his achievement and his shortcomings. The trail of his quest for first material and then a reason to justify the same is well articulated here.

Over years of reading fiction I realized that no matter how much you elaborate a story's cast or focus it on a character, the truth is that other parallel stories and people exist all the while. The art is to find the perfect balance in the stage set so as not to shadow the central character and his quest with those of the rest. This book is a fine example of that. The way the author has presented the story is no less than watching each development in this adventure on a large screen of my mind.

If only the whole of history was not just his-story but rather passed to us as our story , our own legacy that defines who we are and has been the guiding light of so many other tales.

I eagerly await the author now to tell us about the next generation of kings and warriors and so on till we identify the lines and tales of them all.

My rating : 5/5

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