Thursday, July 27, 2017 0 Comments

#BookReview: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie





Purple Hibiscus or rather Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was on my TBR list for a long time. I heard a lot about the author and this book, so I finally ordered this book. It took me some time to finish this this book because I am not that old Tarang (there are so many other engagements/responsibilities that turned me into a relatively slow reader) who could finish a book in a few hours. Plus, I wanted it to go slow. 


Purple Hibiscus tells the story of fifteen-year-old, timid Kambili who lives under the shadow of her wealthy, over-religious and violent father. Kambili, her helpless mother and her brother Jaja are forced to live an entertainment-proof life within the confines of high walls around their house and 'to-be-followed-strictly' routine.


Kambili yearns for her father's 'conditional' love and makes efforts to please him.



'I wished I had said that.' She often thinks when her brother says something thoughtful that makes her father smile.

Her only companion is Jaja. "We did that often, asking each other questions whose answers we already knew. Perhaps it was so that we would not ask the other questions, the ones whose answers we did not want to know.”

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and her brother get a chance to stay away from their authoritarian father and live with their fearless and lively aunt, Ifeoma,  a University professor in Nsukka. Though financially weak, aunt Ifeoma’s house if full of life and laughter. In her aunt’s home, Kambili understands the true meaning of life, love, freedom and togetherness.

“It was what Aunty Ifeoma did to my cousins, I realized then, setting higher and higher jumps for them in the way she talked to them, in what she expected of them. She did it all the time believing they would scale the rod. And they did. It was different for Jaja and me. We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't.” 

But, how long can she live in her aunt’s house? How her (and Jaja’s) life is going to change? Read Purple Hibiscus to know the story of Kambili’s life.

I like fast paced stories, and Purple Hibiscus is a little slow in the first half, still I did not find it boring because of author’s soothing writing style. I instantly developed a fondness for her writing. It's so beautiful and authentic. It creates vivid imagery. The characters are very well defined. I personally liked the character of aunt Ifeoma, her daughter, Amaka and Father Amadi, a young priest.

There's a reason for every situation and character's behaviour. For instance, Kambili is so timid and silent that sometimes I felt she was not present in the story as a character (however, her fears and anguish are well expressed) but was a mere narrator. But, there is a strong reason of her odd behavior.

For me, Purple Hibiscus is a memorable book, a book that stays with you for some time (even after you have finished reading that). I loved Adichie's writing. Just one thing bothered me - there are so many Nigerian words (without glossary). It did not affect the gist of the story but it disrupted the flow of reading because these words are so frequent that I felt compelled to google search them to get the meaning. 

I'd recommend this book to everyone who loves intense stories and meaningful writing. Even if you enjoy light, fast-faced stories, I'd suggest you to read this one. I am looking forward to reading Chimamanda Adichie's next book, Half of a Yellow Sun. 







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Thursday, July 20, 2017 4 Comments

Show, Don’t Tell – do you follow this rule?




Show, Don’t Tell – this is one of the most common writing advices we often hear. However, you might have read some articles that say, ‘Show, Don’t Tell can be a terrible writing advice.’

Well, showing 'too much' can be a little annoying if not handled well, especially if the writer is not experienced. The new writer may become over-enthusiastic and write in an over-descriptive manner. It may tempt the writer to use too many unnecessary dialogues, in order to erm…‘show’. So, it’s very important to keep the balance.

I understand, as a writer and a reader, the beauty and importance of crisp narration, still I strongly advocate the concept of  – ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ for certain reasons –

It makes the writing authentic – as a writer, when you apply this rule, you use your observations. Things you notice happening around. Like the setting of a room or if the neighbour is watering plants in the her garden etc.

The way people speak. Their facial expressions, body-language and activities when they speak. Like someone tucks her curls while speaking. Or if someone is arranging clothes or fiddling with her mobile (or any other activities) when talking. 

These things are very important for authentic writing.

It creates vivid imagery. Let’s take this example –

Telling – I look out of the window. The weather is mesmerizing.

Showing – A gush of cool breeze caresses my face. I smooth out my curls as I watch colourful blooms flutter playfully. Champa tree, so close to my window that I can touch it if I try, effuses heavenly fragrance. Water droplets, hanging off the leaves, glint like diamond nose pins as sunshine kisses them. 

Get it? Descriptive but it creates nice imagery, no? Writing/narration seems more interesting if it creates vivid imagery.

It helps the story move more smoothly. If you tell everything, you become the narrator; your voice may sound similar. Every character of your story sounds like you, the narrator. And, if it happens, the writing seems dull and tiring, and it may disrupt the flow of the story.


So, these are my reasons. What's yours? What type of writer or reader you are? Do you follow this rule? Please share your views?









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Saturday, July 8, 2017 5 Comments

Rain And Memories









The house is breathing silence, reflecting solitude. Sitting on the wide window sill, with a mug of coffee, she watches the weather transforming dramatically. It looks like a shadow of an enormous bird who has started to spread its wing.

The dusk is about to fall. People have started to emerge, gathering in different groups. Even birds have claimed their favourite spot. They sit on a distant power line as if getting ready for an assembly. She likes to watch them, everything out of her window, but never wants to go out. She can stay at home for months without stepping for weeks.

She sips her coffee, feeling calm as cool breeze caresses her. Suddenly, lightning flashes. Now she waits for that thundering sound that would follow. She feels cool raindrops on her cheek. Her heartbeat rises as she looks at distant trees that are swaying classically. An exotic bird, perched on a wooden pole, flutters her wings and flies to joins a group flocking around, returning to their homes. 

This is it!

This collective occurrences affect her in a certain way, it happens quite often. Her heart fills with a deep sense of nostalgia, and a freshet of memories rushes in. It has now started to rain heavily. Fat raindrops hitting the ground furiously, making circular waves. She shuts the windowpane.

Memories – you can never be sure what stirs them.

The emptiness of her house tugs her heart. The soothing solitude is screaming now. She looks at the nicely made bed. He was right there. Just two years back. Lying silently. Smiling voicelessly. Looking everywhere without actually looking. There’s an assurance of togetherness even without words.

All togetherness don’t last forever. Sometimes, they come with a date written on it when goodbyes are scheduled. She learned to move on or she thought so. It’s easy to create new memories but can anyone learn to leave their memories behind and move on? 'I wish goodbyes didn’t leave haunting memories.' She thought. But, sometimes these memories are soothing as they connect you with someone who has become a memory. This thread is precious.

She gets up and lies down on the bed. Trying to search that familiar fragrance. That familiar touch. She closes her eyes and takes a foetal position. This is the place she finds solace. This is the place where slumber claims her amicably.


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Saturday, June 24, 2017 6 Comments

Anything But Books Tag




It's been a long time since I've written a tag post. Okay, let me rephrase it. It's been a long time since anybody tagged me. Thanks to Shantala who tagged me for this interesting tag post called 'Anything But Books Tag'. 

You have to answer some interesting questions that are not related to books. So, here it goes:

Name a cartoon(s) that you love.

I used to watch Tom and Jerry. Now, I watch whatever my 4yo likes (However, now he has upgraded his choice to 'regional' News channels, I wonder why). However, I like watching Max and Ruby, Motu Patlu and Peppa Pig.

What is your favorite song right now?

My current favourites are:
‘Channa Mereya’ (I can't get enough of it. I love Arijit Singh’s singing right from the Fame Gurukul days)

What could you do for hours (that isn’t reading)?

Internet browsing. If you think it’s reading in some way, then it would be watching TV, alone. 

What is something you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

Followers? Don't know if anyone would be surprised, but I love singing and I can sing well (Not a very good singer though). Sometimes, I keep humming same song that I annoy myself.

And, I love interpreting my dreams (I mostly remember them).

What is your favorite unnecessarily specific thing to learn about (this can do with books, I guess)?

Learning is beautiful, and I am a careful learner. I am learning to write better (Love to read on writing posts. Sometimes, sharing my On Writing experiences). I want to learn watercolour painting. (I have done quite a few. I know they are childish. But am I not courageous enough to share these?).

What is something unusual you know how to do?

I can touch my nose with my tongue. Can you do that?

Name something you’ve made in the last year (and show us, if you can).

This questions makes me feel ashamed because I can’t make anything (except my 4 yo’s craft projects.)

What is your most recent personal project?

My second book (Working on the first draft) and weight loss (Okay, it seems to be a never ending project but this time I’m serious). Working on some easy, small fitness goals.

Tell us something you think about often (maybe while staring out of windows).

I have an always occupied mind. I can’t recall when I am not thinking anything. Maybe, when I am engrossed in an interesting book?). I still think about my first book. About writing. Ephemeral ideas and 'I wish, what if' thoughts make my mind a mishmash or if I can say, a Farrago :). 

At this point of time, it’s mostly about my second book. Scenes, dialogues, situations…

Give us something that’s your favorite, but make it something oddly specific, not like your favorite food, but like your favorite food when you’ve been studying for hours and forgot to eat. Or, you know, something like that.

Studying for hours and forgot to eat? Well, it hasn’t happened. In fact, I used to keep several packets of biscuits and cakes while studying. But, my attention hovered around those packets and I couldn't focus until I finished them off!

Actually, I didn’t get this question. Still answering. I am fond, extremely fond of anything that's sweet or made from milk. 

That’s all from my side. I am tagging Kanchana, Namrata, Gayatri, Preethi, Harshita, Sakshi, Arti, Jyoti. Consider yourself tagged if you are reading this post. It's a fun tag and you would like to do it, won't you? Please leave your links if you decide to do it. Would love to hear your answers. 






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Saturday, June 17, 2017 4 Comments

Book Review: The Tree With A Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta





A Poem From The Book
.
.

'Stand for your right',
You tell me,
And when I do
You beat me down
Break my bones
And crush my soul?
I may raise my voice
Close my fist, and demand;
Or seek and desire
With polite words and a patient heart
So that you and I can live in peace
Forever, I wish;
You should pray
I choose the latter


The Tree With A Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta (Niyogi Books) is my third book that's based on Kashmir and its people, their lives.

The author says the incidents are inspired by true events, and he has visited Kashmir and met people to know the culture, lifestyle and their problems. It shows. The book seems well researched.

The Tree With A Thousand Apples is a poignant, heartbreaking story of three childhood friends - Deewan Bhat, Safeena Malik and Bilal Ahanagar, living in Kashmir - their families so close - at the time of insurgency.

'For us, Deewan bhai, whatever it takes,' says Bilal.

As the conditions in Kashmir worsen, Deewan and his family have to leave Kashmir for the sake of a safe life while Safeena whose mother becomes a 'collateral damage', and Bilal are left with no other option but to learn to live in the dark battlefield that the paradise, Kashmir has become.

After 20 years, Destiny brings them together and they try to fix things in their own possible ways. And then one day, a *letter* - a dangerous letter - comes that brings sea changes in the circumstances and eventually their lives.

So, what happens? What this letter is all about? How their lives transform? What about their friendship? What about the brewing love? You will have to read the book to find these answers. Finding these answers would be a moving journey, I can say that.

The author has an interesting writing style. The language is beautiful and clean, narration quite smooth. The life of Kashmir is very well described. The atmosphere of insurgency, every aspect and impact, is captured well. The story is peppered with regional language but it has a helpful footnotes (plus a glossary).

Here are some thought-provoking quotes :

'You brought your Indian Identity Card? It proves that you are an Indian.'
'Who else am I?'

'Why do you worry, the curfew is over.'
'You foolish children! Curfew is never over.'

'It was too ambitious to think ahead. It was too luxurious to be alive.'

However, in order to capture the essence of Kashmir and rage of insurgency, the author has missed the protagonists' personal feeling (and its development) for each other. Also, the *letter* (I mentioned above) confused me. I wondered (and wanted to know) what caused that sudden provocation.

But over all, it was a beautiful, thought-provoking and engrossing read. Very well written. Recommended to any book lover, no matter what your preferred genres are.


I received this book from Writer's Melon for an honest review.





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Thursday, June 15, 2017 2 Comments

Self Editing On Your Mind? Try These 8 Practical And Effective Methods



‘I am not a very good writer, but I am an excellent rewriter.’ – James A. Michener

For a writer, I believe, this is a very good quality. 

Writing is all about re-writing and editing, and careful editing is the essence of writing. No matter how beautiful your writing is, it loses its charm if it has silly errors in it. Also, good editing is not just for published books. It should be practiced even before submitting your manuscript to the editors. It enhances your chances to get noticed.

It’s true that hiring a professional editor is always a better idea because it’s a little difficult to spot your own mistakes and get merciless towards something that you simply adore.

But, self editing is not that difficult. Also, when it comes to hiring a paid editor, you may face two problems :
1. You have to choose wisely, after thorough research because there’s no guarantee of great results.
2. Money. When you are going for traditional publishing, you find spending money on editing unnecessary. And, if you are going with self/paid publishing, you consider it as extra expense.

However, in any case, your manuscript should be error-free. Period.

So are you writing a book? Self-Editing on your mind? Read my article on Writer's Melon. I have shared some practical and effective methods. You may find these helpful. Before I start, I must tell you that these are the tips that worked for me or something I skipped doing and regretted later.

Read The Full Article HERE

You may read my other recently published articles –  






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Monday, June 12, 2017 10 Comments

The Curious Case Of Déjà Vu





Lord Ram refused blatantly to take Sita along when going for his 14 Years exile, but Sita was adamant, especially when she heard that Lakshman was accompanying him.

Out of reflex, she said, 'I go with you in every Ramayan, then why not in this Ramayan?'
She surprised herself. 'Every' Ramayan?

Was that a case of déjà vu, which means 'already seen' or 'been there before'?

Life is a vast cycle of occurrences. And mythically, History does repeat itself. Every moment we are living now has been lived before and it will be lived in future. Exactly the same. And, the cycle goes on. Isn't it spooky? I wonder if this is the reason of déjà vu.

It happens with me a lot. I still remember the first time (probably) I felt it in my childhood. I was sitting on the threshold of a door, my feet crossed in the corridor that stretched along and my eyes were on the sunny courtyard. And right then, my grandmother said something to me. I looked at her and she was smiling. This was the moment! I felt that it has happened before. Obviously, talking to my grandmother and her smile was not new, but that exact setting, our positions and the moment made me feel like that.

Also, while listening to any song, certain tune or lyric creates a sudden imagery, an unknown picture, place or setting in my mind, and then a flood of emotions hit me. Like I have seen that setting before. Like I had been to that place before. Like it is related to my life.

Is this anything psychological, something related to the (dis)functioning of our brain? Or something related to previous/next life?  Does this happen to you? Do you think I am insane?


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P.S: Maybe this post seems unconvincing, but if you like reading romance with convincing situations and realistic characters, you will like my book, We Will Meet Again.






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