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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review : 'A Life of Adventure and Delight' by Akhil Sharma



'A Life of Adventure and Delight' is Akhil Sharma’s collection of eight stories, that focus on Indians, who live in the country and overseas. It contains all kinds of stories, but they have one thing in common, a melancholic side to each of them.  

The first one, ‘Cosmopolitan’ speaks of an abandoned man, left behind first by his daughter, followed by his wife. It speaks of his divorce and how he comes to terms with it. Gopal’s challenges with the whole process, is kind of funny. There is a touch of comedy to his entire mode of behaviour as a newly single man, who attempts to date a lady, with the help of magazines like ‘Cosmopolitan’. 

‘Surrounded by Sleep’ talks of a ten year old boy and the terrible accident his brother Birju  has, in which he is left without speech, without being able to eat, chew, or even roll over in sleep. Ajay finds himself prayimg to God or Superman, and also talks to him, and the constant conversation between the Ajay and Superman is the highlight of this story. 

The third story is ‘We Didn’t Like Him’ which, follows the central character and his cousin Manshu, from the time he is 14. Manshu is an odd boy, whom nobody really likes, due to his irritating habits. But, it is his losing his parents, one after the other that he changes. A change so tremendous, that Manshu soon becomes the local pandit. A pandit, who marries out of his caste, has two children and a sick wife too. The sadness of the boy does not end and you follow his grief into all his life too, but you are not really allowed to feel good or bad for Manshu, and you are seeing his character change and grow through the eyes of his cousin.

‘If You Sing Like That For Me’ is an interesting story, of a girl and her ‘love’ story. Her husband, who seems mild mannered and has a gentle way of expressing his love. She discovers this at odd times, the time she takes up a job as a typist, the time she falls ill, the time he cooks for her, the trip they both take to the Taj Mahal, and even the time she could not miss him, whenever he went on his trips. The time her father falls sick, and even the time they make love, but during this time, is when she falls in love. Four more stories to be read and finished, then I will close this book, and put away to be read at another time.

A Life of Adventure and Delight’ may not be perfect title for this band of eight stories. Weird adventures and a sly delight seem to spread inside me, as I continued to read them all. It did kind of touch me in funny ways, because they are all so different from each other; they have their own sense. It is a book that I do not have the heart to put down, instead to dwell on the stories, as they finish.

You can Buy the Book, right here. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Read up, began in Oct. 2013 and now, it is July 2017, Folks...



A long time ago, way back in 2005 I wondered how a person, a then
Ruskin Bond
journalist could also, write in general. I thought I would figure it out then. It became a tiny part of my life, where I talked of Harry Potter, and spoke of birthdays, at that stage. I also wrote about Ruskin Bond, who,
continues to be my favourite author, even today.

I also started out writing about nostalgia, something which I have become so familiar with. It was, is and am sure will be my most favourite topic. A little bit about my first international trip, on work. There, I was at Singapore and here, I was writing. Cut to 2009. 

I wrote my first ever Book Review, of Jeffrey Archer and his awesome book, ‘Paths of Glory’. I loved the book, and so, my first ever review of 'Paths of Glory', was born. 

And then in 2010, I wrote about Book Picking and what the characters were like and how much I like or hated them. Incidentally, my first movie review, and (ad review?) too. Did I mention politics too? :)

And then came 2012, and with it brought my favourite topics, 'Mythology, Realism and Magic'. They turned out to be my favourite topics for writing. Who would have thought that they would be the much-loved topics in my case?

Then, in 2012. My most favourite topic to talk about, Fairness Creams in this Racism laden country.  'Never give up: Fairness Creams in India' happened... 

Also, more books like Markus Zusak's ‘The Book Thief’ did and ‘Sins of a Father’ by Jeffrey Archer did. And Krishna Udayasankar’s ‘Govinda’ did to.
And then, there was Udayasankar’s ‘Kaurava’ and ‘Arjuna - Saga of a Pandava Warrior Prince' by Anuja Chandramouli, too. Anand Neelakantan’s ‘Asura’ happened and my tryst with Leadstart Publishers had begun.

It was them that suggested that I should consider reviewing books. And ‘Arjuna’ was the first book, I had ever reviewed officially, when I took up reviewing.

Anuja Chandramouli
So, it was interesting that I had decided to blog, permanently afterward. And with it, November 2013 was when my first interviews began. First, I had Anand Neelakantan. Then came, Anuja Chandramouli, Hitesha Deshpande and then Krishna Udayasankar.’ And also, the Editor’s Interviews began with Amish Raj Mulmi.
Then came, December 2013, and my first ever International
Diana & Michael Preston
Interview with Alex Rutherford, or Diana Preston and Michael Preston. Then all those publishers, including Harper Collins, Hachette, Penguin, etc. And even Literary Agents, such as Kanishka Gupta and Jayapriya Vasudevan, too…

And, so it began. All those books, authors, editors, publishers and even the marketing folks… zillions of them to thank and be truly grateful to. I could write a book on the interviews, I gotta say. I am so sorry, that I have not mentioned all of you, though of course, all of your mails, phone calls and messages were important to me, but I could not mention you all. Nothing would have happened if any one of you wasn't there.
My Partial Collection!! :)

It has been some time since October 2013, when I first actually began writing Sruti's BookBlog, and now, in July 2017 and right now, all I can say is ‘Read on, Folks…’ and do not forget to log in and become a fan of https://www.facebook.com/srutis.blogspot.in/ or http://srutis.blogspot.in/ I can guarantee a few more years at least. :)


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Author Interview : Samah Visaria, author of ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’



Samah Visaria

Read up, the Interview with Samah Visaria, author of 'Encounters of a Fat Bride'. In this interview, she tells us, how the entire book came about, what gave her the idea of the ‘fat bride’ element, how she relates the lives of her characters to lives today, the most challenging and fulfilling parts of the story, which character she felt most close to, what she thought was different about her book, her favourite authors and books, and much more, Folks…

How did ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ happen? Could you describe the journey?

‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ was one of many manuscripts I had been working on last year. It is one of the fastest stories I have written, and finding a publisher for it was easier than for any of my other work.

The journey has been fulfilling so far. Being a published author is any average aspiring writer’s dream and I feel blessed to have finally begun my journey as an author on such a high note.

What about the fat bride element? What gave you the idea?

As a writer I have many ideas for stories, and I maintain a list of topics that I update from time to time. This plot had been at the back of my mind for a while before I started writing, though I can’t pinpoint exactly what triggered it.

As a person I am observant of everything around me and for a while this arranged marriage process has had my attention. When I started writing the story I didn’t have a definite way to go about it, and developed the story on the way.

How much of ‘you’ was in it? Was it there at all?

Not much in particular. Maybe an incident or two would be from my life but the characters are not like me, at least not consciously.

What according to you is different about your book?

This is not an easy question to answer because there is a sea of books out there that I haven’t read. I’ll tell you what I like about my book. The book is easy to read. Some of my readers have finished it in one sitting.

So it’s a good option for those who are new to the world of reading. The language is simple. The story is relevant; it’s realistic so readers would connect with it automatically. It has the ability to make you laugh.

The idea behind the book was not to send a message but since it happens to do that, I take it as a plus point. Also, the cover is fantastic, won’t you agree? Haha!

How would you relate the lives of characters to the lives of brides or fat brides today? Any similarities?
There are similarities. A woman’s appearance is a major deciding factor in an arranged marriage, as compared to her qualifications. If you think about the characters in the story you may find that you know at least one person in your life who seems similar to one of the characters.

Like there’s always someone in a person’s life who considers matchmaking their forte. We all know someone who is trying to lose weight for a wedding, don’t we? And someone who is trying to find love, someone who is going berserk, planning their wedding.

What were the most challenging and the most fulfilling parts about writing ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’?

Most fulfilling would easily be the fact that it has put me out there in the market as a published author. ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ will always hold a special place in my heart, it is the beginning of my journey, and my innings with Penguin Books.

Most challenging part while writing the book was finding a comical voice to narrate a serious subject. Such a subject could be a very heavy and depressing read.

I can write the same story and sell it to you in a voice that will make you cry rather than laugh. The latter is tougher to write but easier to read.

However, there is another challenge with this book. Since the story tackles a number of serious subjects that are rampant in our current world people tend to make it a platform for change, and confuse the protagonist’s voice with my own as a person. They applaud me when my central character overcomes her ordeals and judge me when her imperfect side surfaces. It’s a challenge for me to be affected by neither.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?  

The protagonist is bound to be closest to me because I’ve spent a lot of time with her. But I love the grandmother. She’s so unpredictable and funny!

Who was it that told you that you could become the author, you are today?

My mother and my husband have always believed I would make it, but there is a long way to go. I have achieved very little yet.

When will your next book be out?

I can’t comment on this yet. We’re working on it.
 
Agatha Christie
Sidney Sheldon
Which are your favourite books and why?

They keep changing from time to time. I tend to get obsessed with a book for a while until I find another good one.

But Sidney Sheldon’s books are my all-time favourites. I have started enjoying Agatha Christie. I love thrillers that keep me hooked for hours.

Who are your favourite authors and why?
Twinkle Khanna (Wikipedia)

I like that you’ve asked my favourite books and favourite authors separately. It makes sense. I won’t go with the term ‘favourite’. I’ll tell you the authors of the recent times I admire.

Durjoy Dutta (Twitter)
Amish, for changing my take on mythology; Twinkle Khanna for her humorous sass; Savi Sharma for her marketing prowess; Durjoy Datta for showing us what stardom a writer can achieve; Anuja Chauhan for her originality.

What else do you do on a daily basis?

During work hours I write fiction, I write articles, I research on marketing my books, I play solitaire and waste time on social media. Outside of work hours I read, exercise and watch shows on Netflix.

What advice do you have for young writers like yourself?

I have so much to learn that I still need advice! To answer your question, I would suggest aspiring writers to keep more than one manuscript ready before starting the process of finding a publisher.

Don’t approach publishers with a concept; approach them when you have the final product. Have patience and keep writing.


You can  Read the Review, too and Buy the Book, here as well.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review : ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ by Samah Visaria



Encounters of a Fat Bride’ by Samah Visaria has its failings, but overall it’s not at all a bad read. It deals with issues of marriage like pressure to get married, not only from parents, but also friends and relatives, the apprehension with regard to one’s physique, and dowry, which it seems; we can never be rid of.

With the pressure of today’s worries like social media, it almost feels as if Madhurima Pandey, all of 25 years and 95 kilos can seemingly never marry. But she does find a job, in the midst of all the discussions and she has begun work. 

The topic was raised again and, because she does manage to get engaged. Harsh comes along, who seems alright. He does not have any recognizable faults, and seems decent. 

The faults, which Madhu looks for are impotency and homosexuality, due to the lack of interest and romance, which the guy possess. Meanwhile, her best friend gets married, and drunken calls are also made to Harsh, due to which she seems to get engaged in a hurry.

Hurry from the guy’s side, surprisingly! And also, the topic of dowry also began. A car was bought, with the plan to be given to the boy. Talks, between the parents seemed never to end. And so, the engagement is broken off by Madhu, when she does find out about the dowry.

Time moves on, and when one day, Madhu spots Harsh at the psychiatrist's. Now, surprisingly the doc is paid a visit, by Madhu and the ‘doctor client confidentiality’ does not really rise.

Will she still go ahead and marry Harsh? Do her loneliness and anxiety and all her issues with her own self, also come into focus? Does Madhu find out if there is anything wrong with herself and Harsh? Will the marriage take place?

The book does have a sense of humour. With its usual jokes on marriage and it’s over the top encounters, the book sure can make us laugh. It is also pretty straightforward. If not for the treatment of mental illness, the book could have been so much better.

You can Buy the Book, right here.