Blog like a Pro (crastinator) in these 10 Simple Steps

With these 10 magical steps, you would totally have mastered the art of Blogging

Advertisements

Step 1: Create a blog.

Step 2: Promise yourself that you would write regularly.

Step 3: Write regularly for a few days.

Step 4: Get lazy and skip a day’s post.

Step 5: Get lazier and skip a couple of days more.

Step 6: By now you would have forgotten all about your blog.

Step 7: After a couple of months – Holy F**ing Sh*t! I had a blog!

Step 8: Do not write a post now as you are not ready yet.

Step 9: Think of some new ideas for posts.

Step 10: Repeat steps 2 through 9 for as long as you live.

Hell! No Saints in Paradise – Review

My first encounter with Urban Fantasy

Author: A K Asif
ISBN: 9352770552
ISBN13: 9789352770557
Edition Language: English
Format: Paperback
Published in: 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins

Hell! No Saints in Paradise is my first encounter with the urban fantasy genre – and it turned out to be the perfect pick. It was the title of the book which caught my attention – and A K Asif has done a great job in making the book as enjoyable as the heading.

Plot

2050, New York. In the aftermath of a grueling spiritual cleansing quest, Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, enters into an alliance with spiritual beings who send him on a perilous journey of self-discovery. A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan, now in the grip of a brutal fundamentalist government, and gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he must pose as a true believer. Will he survive long enough to infiltrate his father’s inner sanctum and complete his mission? Hell! No Saints in Paradise is both biting satire and allegory that takes urban fantasy to dizzying heights

(From Goodreads)

Review

Choosing the topic – the existence of heaven and hell -which has been subject to countless arguments and theories probably since the origin of human civilization, as the central thread of your book comes with numerous challenges. The primary difficulty is coming up with an innovative way to present the story – or it could indisputably be written off by the audience as old wine in new bottle. But A K Asif has created a fictional world which is entirely original and riveting – and that is why the book became such a compelling read for me.

The book requires a considerable effort from the readers’ end for the initial few chapters. As the concepts introduced in the story is entirely new and often bizarre, it all takes some time to sink in. But as the plot slowly unfolds, the endeavor pays off delightfully.  The writing style is commendable, as a story like this demands a lot of creative insight – something which I felt the author has in abundance. I was turning
The protagonist – Ismael – is an epitome of the modern youth. Clueless, confused, and not very thoughtful of his actions or their outcome, the character feels very authentic and relatable. The other characters are well crafted as well, each unique yet believable.

But I do have some grievances here – the female characters in the story lack depth. I would have loved a few more lines about Sophie and Laila than their attractiveness and sexuality. As much as I loved reading Ismael, I found it difficult to understand or justify his actions at times.

Though year in focus here is 2050, the author has made it a point not to include extreme technologies as most of the novels set in future do. That has considerably enhanced the reading experience for it was easy to lose focus otherwise.

The story has a considerable amount of sexual and graphic content and it might not be suitable for everyone. The religious references can be controversial as well, so readers’ discretion is strongly advised.

This is a read which is going to stay in my heart for quite a long period of time. I admire the author for taking the effort and courage to write about such a controversial topic and thereby gifting us this thrilling read.

Rating

3/5

This copy was sent to me by the publishers via writersmelon.com’s review program in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Assassinations: A Novel of 1984 – Review

On how Vikram Kapur impressed me with his portrayal of the 1984 riots.

Author: Vikram Kapur
ISBN: 9386702347 
ISBN13:  9789386702340
Edition Language: English
Format: Paperback
Published in: 2017
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books

It has been my secret regret that I haven’t read many historical fictions from indian authors despite it being my favorite genre. So when writersmelon offered The Assassinations: A Novel of 1984 for review, I didn’t have to think twice before signing up. And what a wonderful decision it turned out to be!

Synopsis

Prem Kohli, the handsome, ambitious son of a Sikh refugee, has the world at his feet. A glittering career lies ahead, and he has just got engaged to his college girlfriend, Deepa, overcoming her parents’ reservations about Hindus and Sikhs intermarrying. But, while Deepa remains occupied with their marriage plans, the Indian Army enters the Golden Temple. Prem cannot contain his rising anger at the desecration of the shrine and at the people around him who shrug it off as ‘teaching a lesson’ to the Sikhs. He begins growing out his hair and beard, and visiting the gurudwara regularly, where he learns about the militancy in Punjab. Matters come to a head a few months later, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated and anti-Sikh riots break out all over Delhi, as Prem is caught up in a vortex of violence and hate that threatens to engulf all of their lives.

(From the blurb on the book flap)

Review

I have not read anything else from Vikram Kapur, and he has moved me immensely with The Assassinations. The writing is simple, and the author has portrayed the horrors and brutality of the riots very convincingly. I was turning pages almost effortlessly – the writing is very fast paced but natural. Nothing seems forced.

The character development is also done very well, especially for Prem. The drastic changes which happens to his character after Operation Bluestar and the riots feel very genuine and deducible.

There are only a handful of characters in this book, and author has paid attention to each of them very well. They all feel very authentic and non-fictitious.

In the last few pages, I had feared that the author was leading us to a clichéd yet dramatic ending, which would have been a grave misfit in an otherwise realistic story. The fears were in vain though, there was no unnecessary drama. The novel ended as graciously as it began.

One thing I complain about the novel is that it has been too short a read. I would have loved a few more pages. Also, we do not see the lives of the characters without the veil of the historic incidents.

There are some descriptions of the brutality committed during the riots which might be disturbing to a few readers – so be warned if you are not a fan of violence on pages.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the read and would definitely recommend it to people who love reading realistic novels. I will be looking out for more from Vikram Kapur.

Rating

4/5

Fear is the Key – Review

Author: Juggi Bhasin
ISBN: 978-0-143-44000-0
Edition Language: English
Format: Paperback
Published in: 2017
Publisher: Penguin India

Plot

Rahul Abhayankar, the founder of Yummimages, a digital infotainment website finds himself in a difficult position when the other two co-founders – Suhel, his best friend and Simone, his girlfriend – become rivals. When Simone mysteriously disappears from a party he had organised to set things right between these two, Rahul has no choice but to take the matter to his own hands and set out to find her.

Review

When I read the synopsis and a few reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I had high hopes on this book. It saddens me to say that when I finally began to read it, from the very first chapter, I knew that this was not something I was going to like. I finished the book though – hoping in vain that there would be something in the book (perhaps the storyline, a good plot twist, a great ending?) – that I would like. I was let down there too.

If you are into books which are great bollywood candidates with all their spice and plot twists and suspenses – but with little attention to logic, then you would probably like this book.

Let me list out the things I didn’t like about this book as they are easier than the positives:

1. The writing didn’t work for me, and that was the first thing which put me off. There were several phrases used on the book, which I felt were awkward.

2. The story line, though it started out strong, fell weak at some point. There places where logic simply doesn’t work, and there are some instances which seriously lack good explanation.

3. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Character development isn’t very great, and a few of them, despite being central to the story, lack depth.

4. There are only three female characters in this story who actually set the plot in motion. And all three of them are sexualized beyond what I could tolerate. One among these, in particular, agitated me as she completely goes beyond her character to seduce the protagonist.

Now to the good things:

1. This is a very fast paced read. The fact that I finished it off in two sittings says volumes – as I am not a fast reader. And no, I didn’t skip pages despite all the negatives I have listed.

Rating

2/5

Mma Ramotswe – Or an Unusual Detective

Why Mma Ramotswe stands out among other fictitious detectives.

Mma Ramotswe! That lady with all her positivity and intellect and wit! And oh, her big mug of bush tea! She is unlike any female protagonist I have ever read- no, she is unlike any protagonist I have ever read, and I love her to bits!
media-20180123 (2)
I would categorize this as the story of a detective than a detective story. There are no big mysteries in it which would have you bite your nails or pull out your hair, but Mma Ramotswe has an abundance of human intuition and intelligence which she uses in an enchanting manner to solve the problems of the people who consult her – and there isn’t a single moment that isn’t lit!
media-20180123
But more than all that, Alexander McCall Smith has given me something else through this book – Africa. This is my first book (that I can remember) set in Africa – Botswana to be precise – and what a lovely picture the author has painted for me! The lovely people, the lush green meadows where the cattle graze, the Kalahari – Botswana is now on the list of places I wanna go to some day ❤️❤️❤️

Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar – Review

 

media-20180112


Author
: Kochery C. Shibu
ISBN: 9385285009
ISBN13: 9789385285004
Edition Language: English
Format: Paperback
Published in: 2015
Publisher: Niyogi Books

A story which smells like earth. Characters who are diverse and authentic. When you read Kochery C. Shibu’s novel Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar, you realise he has that ‘Indianness’ in his writing only a very few Indian English authors could boast about. This is a book which is definitely praiseworthy. There is such authenticity to its characters and situations, everything in it seems so real. The lives of the people who are brought together at the Dhauladhar ranges by fate, and their dreams – some fulfilled, some shattered – are narrated in a very down to earth manner.

The Plot:

Nanda – an engineer from Kerala, Rekha – a doctor and a kathak dancer, and Khusru – a terrorist are brought together at a dam construction site in the Dhauladhar ranges by their fate.  The construction brings about many changes to the village – most of them unwelcome –  which its inhabitants helplessly witness with heavy hearts. Many lives are lost, many dreams shattered.

The Review:

The book goes through the minds of multiple characters, each chapter is dedicated to one. There was some nostalgic element in the way they were narrated as it strongly reminded me of the way a lot of Malayalam books are presented. Each character is backed up with the author’s keen attention to detail, and it has undoubtedly added to their genuineness. He has described the ancient tradition of Kalarippayattu and the technicalities of the construction site so vividly that you have a clear picture painted for you.

The story flows as easy as a river does. There is nothing forced, nothing artificial. There is just the drama of real life. The language used is also simple, which makes it an easy read.

The character diversity is also a commendable aspect in this novel. Since the story is set around a construction site, it goes without saying that the people there would be from widely different backgrounds. They all are described very well, and no two are alike. Most of the characters are given at least some backstory that they seem absolutely palpable.

Now coming to the aspects I didn’t quite like:

The prose could have been better. I felt that there were detailed descriptions which were not really necessary and affected the reading experience. But in the author’s defense, it was made up beautifully by the genuine feel of the story.

There were just too many characters in the story, and a lot of them are forgettable. But there are also certain very well formed characters, with whom you could really connect with. I also felt that some characters didn’t get the importance they deserved, some got way too much.

I couldn’t connect with many of the characters. Rekha and Khusru didn’t manage to impress me – mainly because I could not understand why they did what they did. I felt that a few of the villagers should have gotten a few more pages for their story.

Considering this is the author’s debut book, it makes a very fine read. It has that Indian charm that very few Indian English novels can boast about.
You should definitely pick this book as your next read if you love authentic and simple stories.

PS: Thanking the author Kochery C. Shibu for kindly sending me the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed reading the book, and definitely look forward to more from him

My Rating:

3/5

 

The ‘Magyk’al Book Covers

On judging an entire series by their covers


When I was at school, each vacation called for a customary visit to my uncles’ and aunts’. It was during one such visit, my aunt gifted me with a copy of Magyk, the first book of a series called Septimus Heap authored by Angie Sage. She got it from a second hand book sale, and its front cover had been ripped of. But it still was the prettiest book in my collection.

Why? Because it was gorgeously illustrated. The typeface was really pretty and went well with the theme of the book and it’s misspelt title. And looking at the back cover, I concluded that it had had a very well designed front cover.

It took me a few years to realise that it was a part of a septology. I searched for the second book in countless bookstores but nobody had it. Back then, internet was a luxury where I lived and online shopping was out of the question. I had to give up my hopes.

I had forgotten all about the series when last year, I found another hard covered copy of Magyk at a second hand book sale near my workplace. I didn’t have to think twice about buying it – the front cover was prettier than I had imagined. I got the second book – Flyte – too from the same sale.

Now I turned to internet for rest of the books in the series. All of them were available in Amazon. But their cover design was very different from the ones I owned and I didn’t quite like it. I decided not to spend money on them. After all, the covers had a great part to play in my love affair with the series.

Last month, I got the next four books with matching covers from Amazon itself. I still have to get the last book, and I am patiently waiting for Amazon to stock it up.

Do not judge a book by it’s cover they say. But here I am, judging an entire series. And I am not ashamed of it, not even a little bit. These pretty covers make me happy and that is enough for me.

Do you have books in your bookshelf which got there just because they have gorgeous covers? Come on, I know I am not alone in this!