Wrong Means Right Ends : Book Review

First Impression: The cover of the novel conveys a confused pair in a trouble, and that matches the blurb. The blurb prompts a question, asking us to read to know what they lead does to get rid of a confusing complication that mushroomed.
Overall Impression: There are different characters, each of a kind which is properly fleshed out in this novel.  This novel makes room for romance and the author has used the space pretty well. A tinge of humor is peppered throughout to lighten the novel, and I would say it did work.
What did I like?
  • This book has fewer errors when compared to the previous release of the author.
  • I was worried about the regional language used in the previous book, and in this book, it has reduced to an extent. Makes the book a better read!
  • Lucid language used throughout – makes it a good read!
Frown Factors:
  • Predictable enough, that makes the reader skim than read
  • Reality takes a miss at some points and drama creeps in
Overall a decent read!
Rating: 3/5

Book Review: Tale Journey – A collection of 21 short stories

The author Kavya Janani approached me for a honest review of her début, and here you go!
First Impression: The first 2 stories were below average and I only frowned upon, while I liked the diction and word choice of the author, the editing was not up to the mark. The frown turned a smile when I read the next 2 stories and apparently, they are my favourite in the whole lot.
Overall Impression: The author has explored many a genres in this collection, While the love stories are a mix of already said stories and a few exploring the real deal of the author with her creative self penning down something beautiful, I was not thoroughly impressed with the thriller lot. I liked the horror stories, it had the necessary kick for the genre. Other genres – humor, family, friendship, and inspirational are all cat on the wall, I can neither categorize it great or lesser.
Rating: 3.5/5
What I loved in this book?
  • Diction
  • A few stories were pretty good and on par – you’re my mobilentine, case of a lucky girl, Christmas eve are my favourites
  • Narration – each story were from different POV and at different locations, and that’s commendable
Frown Factors:
  • Editing
  • Certain word usages were not appropriate to the context, it appeared artificial
  • Unnecessary descriptions at certain parts, especially in the beginning of each story
Having said that, the author has enough potential to stay proud. Writing material indeed, looking forward for more from the author to note the frown factors and to come up with a full-fledged novel. I hope the author chooses a good editor next time.

Ladakh in the month of May

I decided to spend 10% of my annual salary on a trip every year in the month of May. I usually don’t like to travel with family or very close friends where we end up talking (cribbing) about our awful life. So I wanted to travel with two friends who I know but I don’t know (hope you get the point) I posted a status that am planning Ladakh a few months back on FB and a few responded, after sharing the plan and details, 3 of us got set but unfortunately one had to drop out.
I kept reading many posts on ladakh visit and this blog by Rajiv Verma was of much use- http://webguy.in/
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That’s my college senior Karthika – A lovely companion
I love traveling within India, especially north, because it is rich in culture and heritage.
I have a very silly bucket list and I am done with a few in this trip:
  • Visit Ladakh
  • Witnessing snowfall
  • Stay in a tent
  • Do white water rafting (am done with paragliding at Goa, next on the list is Scuba diving J )
Things to carry:
  • Himalayas lip balm or equivalent (I swear you’ll need it more than anything else)
  • Sunscreen lotion of 40+ SPF
  • Woollen socks
  • Boots/shoes (No slippers please)
  • Gloves, mufflers, wind cheaters
P.S: At ladakh, the shops are open just for 6 months, so if you want to buy things, it is costly. You can bargain and get things for 20% less than quoted but still it would sound pricey.
You can get gloves for 200 INR and woollen clothes from 600 INR onwards. You can choose to buy them at the Tibetian Refugee Market. I spent almost 3 days there shopping there and I loved going around.
Note:
  • Try to reduce weight – walk and take stairs which will help you to travel at ease
  • Oxygen levels are low, and you might start panting if you walk uphill or use stairs (you can buy a small oxygen cylinder that costs 450 INR, they make it mandatory when you go to the lake side, if you don’t use – return and get 350 INR back)
  • If you have heart problem, asthma or breathing issues, please re-consider the trip
  • Choose to use tablets that would help to keep your oxygen levels normal and also, wouldn’t let you to puke often because you will be travelling through hairpin bends
  • Most talk Hindi – better to have at least one person who knows to converse in Hindi. Local Ladakhis are not good in English
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Travel:
No direct flights from Chennai to Leh. So flight/train journey from Chennai/Bangalore to Delhi and flights from Delhi to Leh.
Important places to visit and things to do at Leh
  • Nubra Valley (6 hours ride from Leh main and you can stay over in a tent camp)
  • Pangong Lake ( 7 hours ride from Leh main and again, a lake front tent stay)
  • Shanti Stupa (Leh is a place where Buddhism is predominant, and wherever you go it is Buddha) – this is an important place to visit as it has great views of the mountains
  • There are many monasteries around and almost, all are same. If you’re not of a type to look around places, just visit one – Diskit Monastery because right next to it is the giant Buddha statue. See both in one visit.
  • White Water Rafting – 600 INR for 6 kms and 1200 INR for 14 kms. 6 kms is just normal boating types, but 14 Kms is the best. The water is nothing but the melted glaciers, and know what? I jumped in the water and had a chilling dip J
  • Tso Morori lake – I didn’t visit (yet)
  • Sangamam – where lakes meet, the point beyond which you will go for rafting
  • Cultural dance – try their clothes too for 100 INR
  • Magnetic hill – they say in here the car will keep going without having to drive, but, nahhhh 😦
  • If you’re physically fit – trek at Lamayuru and try mountaineering
  • When you travel to Nubra you will get to see and play at frozen lakes, ice plateaus, mountains of different colours – purple, brown, yellow, and some metallic colours too. Throw ice at your folks and spend time at the ice plateaus but please use gloves and boots or shoes
  • Go on a pony ride, camel ride; see yaks and the flock of sheep, at the sand dunes. Nubra valley is where you’ll see the cold dessert with white sand, with snow capped mountains around.
  • These are just important places to visit, there are many more. And you can visit as per your choice.
Climate ranges from minus 3 to 8 degrees (Jealous aren’t you) 😛
People at Ladakh
They are sweet and religious people, very pious and sweet. As they get to sell things only for 6 months, their price is way too much.
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Ladakhi Food
Try Gesmo Restaurant and Lamayura restaurant for sure.
Things to buy from Ladakh
  • Dry fruits – Apricot – fruit and the seed, walnut
  • Kashmiri salwar suits
  • Wish bell (picture attached) ranges from 85 INR for a small keychain to 2500 INR that are big ones
  • Pashmina shalls starting from 1200 INR – 3000 INR
P.S – you’ll get to find the same things at Spencer plaza in Chennai or at Bangalore
 Best places to stay at Ladakh
Stay at the Old Leh Road – either Hotel Grand Dragon or similar on the road, there are many small spots near the grand dragon where they arrange trekking, mountaineering, rafting, share taxi to nubra and pangong lake.
Ladakh has a lot to offer, it throws different colour at different months of the year. You can choose to road trip (you can rent Royal Enfield) or trek when the river stays frozen (Chadar Frozen River Trek)
Am back with chapped lips, dry skin, great good memories and 2000 odd pictures! so when are you planning your visit? 🙂
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Ladakh’s airport is as small as a coffee shop

Y for Young Adult Fiction #AtoZChallenge

The fault in our stars, looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Mocking Jay, The Maze Runner, Perks of being a  wallflower and the list goes on and on and on! This era is the Young Adult Era where the all the more rare genre became the pepping hot genre of the global literature which includes Indian literature as well.
There are writers and authors I know who are gifted with the capability of jumping across genres and succeeding in every trial. There are a few who would choose to write a novel in the genre of the year. If you’re that, here is what you need to write a Young Adult Fiction.

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Here is the good news! Young adult is more of a target audience defined and the marketing strategies are also defined.
You can write a story so flexible where it is more like a thriller in which you can add elements of horror or fantasy or romance as per your choice.
Even adults these days read young adult fiction, as it is more like rewinding what is history!
So the age group of your audience is 9 years to 17 years or more.
If you have a plot in mind, and you want to flesh it out as a young adult fiction, here is what you need to concentrate on:
  • Generally, the protagonist is a young person falling under 15-18 year old
  • Use first person narrative
  • Pepper teen language throughout; don’t use sophisticated words that look bizarre. This also depends on the world building – a story based in the US will have a different language than a story based in a small interior town in India
  • Usually younger generation is well-known for the drama; they are usually narrow-minded and think of extremes so ensure that you use exaggeration. Even a forgotten record note would make them panic, if they fail in exams they would probably plan to run away from home. Use this properly!
  • The conversations need not be crispy and straight on face like those in Agatha Christie books. They usually speak with less or no analogies and use long sentences; they plead and fight a lot. Tap conversations, they are confidence in what they are and just do what they feel like doing – you can’t convince them, so tap immature talks and stubbornness.
  • Understand the hormones, and emphasis their keen nature – teens are very keen about things – right from sex to science. Add meat!
Hope that helps! Ensure that there is a vast different between Adult fiction and young adult fiction, research well, and pen down.

Encounters by Sumana Khan – Book Review

To start with I loved the cover design, the title and the blurb. The blurb promises a potpourri of stories with different themes. I loved the quality of the book cover and paper; so I was interested to read further.
Disclaimer: Received the paperback version of this book from the publishers – cinnamon teal, via The Book Club, in return for a honest review.

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There are 5 stories, each of a kind!
The first story pulled me into the story, as in, I loved the language, diction and vocabulary instantly. It was beautifully penned, revealing the character step by step – for those who have issues with revealing type of writing should probably read this story. Being 26 and single, I could so relate to Ratna, though having accomplished something mighty but having tagged as a burden for not being married is so on par with what any Indian woman would face. Though the story is bit on the predictable table, I loved the way it was written. Sumana as a writer wins here!
Reminiscence – the second story; is again a good one with minute details that would make one smile.
Happiness clinic – I so love this title; and so was the story. A family tale, it indeed injects fear and makes you introspect.
Best friends forever – A story that is totally different, looks like Sumana’s psychology degree played its part pretty well. A tale on hallucination and super natural stuff! A good read.
Am not a short story reader, but given the language peppered, this collection is on par with excellence. And, given that this is my first read of Sumana’s – am looking forward for more!
Rating: 3.5/5

X for X-rated #AtoZChallenge

X-rated or Erotica – one genre that is difficult to pen, there are chances that you write excellently well or just go so blunt that you wrote the worst piece ever that would totally shame you.
I am so conscious about this, because, my next flick is a contemporary romance with a bit of erotica playing around. Hence, I started reading good number of books that fall under contemporary, erotica, X-rated, etc… This gave a clear distinction of what a good erotica is from the bad, firstly, Indian writers fail in diction more often than not. They write screw worthy words instead of right kinky stuff. Erotica gives you the liberty to pen explicit content and 18+ details but nevertheless, you are not destined to write something creepy.
Here is what you should know if you are writing Erotica or have it subtly playing its part in the novel.
One best writer who scooped me off with Erotica is Heather M Miles. Extremely well-written erotica which is even better than fifty shades of grey according to me, X-rated is one genre that is seldom picked in Indian Writing Arena, or, rather people would don’t want the tag and stuff the patty to call it a romance burger.
Writing sex scenes are pretty much same alike other scenes, but, you have to write it with extreme caution because sex scenes are going to paint the scene and the reader should rather feel good (Aroused – the best) but never ever screw their face saying ‘Ewwww!’ you get that? Please play around words that would make one feel better. Research enough, or rather write subtle than to use details but please don’t use euphemisms that are laugh worthy.
You need not write every minute detail of the scene, don’t start off with him pushing her on the wall to the final dressing part, your readers are well-sex educated, and you need not teach them stuff. Write enough but don’t flesh out that would make the reader feel bad about reading it. Bear in mind – sex scenes are never skimmed but read word by word, so this is where you have ultimate control over your reader and you can use this time to show how good a writer you are.
Don’t make a normal guy – a super gigolo type or a college girl like a strip tease performer all of a sudden. Give them the right details; sculpt them enough if you’re going to use it as such.
Rather, best is to write down your fantasy. Sex scenes or erotica novels are supposed to turn the reader on; else, you have failed big time.
When writing it down, keep off the thoughts that you’re family is about to read this and feel terribly bad about you, which happens in most cases though! I am lucky, that my parents don’t read my book.
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W for WritersBlock #AtoZChallenge

One of the terrible problems when you are working on a novel idea is a writer’s block where you literally find it extremely difficult to continue writing. This is more of a stress or a burden, if you have a deadline either by your publishers or by yourself because most of us are not full time writers given the investment and returns from writing.
Writing needs extreme discipline, it is just like dieting, you can’t just eat all you want and expect to lose weight. You have to surrender yourself and work enough concentrating on losing weight. Likewise, with writing, I know a friend of mine who typically sits like a robot at 11:00 PM and types away till 12 and I am of a type, who can ONLY write in the night when all are asleep. So, if you have a disciplined scheduled for writing – chances are that you seldom fall under this block.
Also, it is important to keep off distractions when writing. Many authors turn off internet, switch off their phone, lock themselves in a room or even travel across with their laptop in a cottage to type away their story.
There are many options like Artist’s way where you write 750 words early morning like a task, which will help you from falling apart.
Once you sense the writer’s block there are common things that you can try, first is to try something else – like painting or photography that are of interest other than writing.
You can use this dreading time to read, if you don’t have other hobbies than writing, eventually, helping you more in honing your skills.
I usually have the habit of traveling – I treat myself with a trip to a place that would keep me off from thinking anything else. I would mostly come back with a refreshed mind to write more, with a story-line or a plot idea, sometimes! So choose travel.
Else, take prompts from your friends or surf online, pick some plot and write a really short story on it. Try to flesh out a short story you read, or try to write a short story on the novel you read. So, basically, you’ll be writing something totally different from what you have ever written!
Take a break – even if you’re not in writer’s block, it helps you to be a better writer.
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V for Vanity Publishing #AtoZChallenge

Vanity publishing – this is something I have discussed a lot about and I detailed reasons as to why one should NOT choose to vanity publish one’s work.
Here are my points that summarizes when one can choose to vanity publish
Vanity publishing is when the author pays upfront money to the publisher that usually ranges from 25,000 INR to 3 Lakhs as per the package the author selects.
Time = Money, once you choose to vanity publish, you need not do anything except to submit your final manuscript and pay the cash. All other things will be taken care by the publisher, all you have to do is to just approve.
You can choose to vanity publish when:
Please note: By now, you would have send your manuscript to many publishers who traditionally publish but failed miserably, yet you trust your script much and you still want the book to be released. Fair enough! So now go ahead!

publishing-package

  • Royalty – In traditional you would not make more than 20-30 INR per book, with vanity, you get around 50 INR
  • Transparency – You get to know the count of book sold at ease, they are mostly very transparent. In vanity publishing, the publishers help you with a consultant who will readily hear you and do as per your say, so you need not work on anything at all. Your book sales, your promotions, author copies, etc.. are accessible in just one click
  • Quality – There are publishers who cost cut and publish books that are of bad quality. Books that are shrunk to fit the page, font size, the font, etc.. make it difficult to read. In Vanity, you get the best quality. Paper quality, cover quality, font size, page nation, etc.. are done properly to fit the market standards
  • Distribution – Your book will be distributed online fairly well, the book will never go out of stock. There are vanity publishing companies that also do offline distribution if the books do well in the market.
If your manuscript gets rejected by traditional publishers but you still trust your script or if you have money than time or if you want better quality of books than those published by second tier or hybrid publishers or if you want your book to be priced reasonably less (self-published books cost more than traditionally published books) – go for vanity! Take a call!

U for Understatement #AtoZChallenge

One important aspect of writing is the use of figure of speech, something we seldom do.  Having read enough Indian author books – There are a few who use it extremely well and there are a few who just don’t know what it is. I know pals who write novels that sounds like reading information at Wikipedia. So here is one of the less explored areas – understatement.
You write less but it is deeper enough for the reader to understand a lot from it. There are many micro tales and harsh realities post of mine that gets comments that they are deep. Those stories are pretty much lesser than 40 words, this is the role of understatement.
Overstatement is just the opposite of understatement where everything in detailed manner, a reader would eventually just skim through and not read properly when overstatement is used. Ensure you use overstatement only when it is relevant.
You can try writing a scene using both overstatement and understatement to understand the difference that it makes, the less you write, the more careful you are about using words that are very deep and you move on easily.
Don’t use overstatement unless it is poetic, or beautiful. Use frequently used idioms, or figure of speech to convey. Use terms like “Days rolled” or “After a few years” to change timeline and use the mood you have previously created to subtly say what would have happened in between.
Here is an example of understatement from my own kitty!
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The Reengineers – Book Review

Received a free paperback copy from the book club in exchange for an honest review, at first, I thought this book might be of a type that talks about the life of an engineering student or so, but the blurb was totally different and with hints that said the book is based on Madras (My place) – I was thrilled to read.
The book starts off with a world building set in the 1990s of Madras right from suprabhatham to details that describe how madras was, but it was indeed a slow read in the start. I skimmed through pages until I hit something relevant and where the book started catching enough speed.

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I loved the language used by the author, good diction throughout and that is one major plus of this book.
The cover and the title are not catchy enough to grab a copy, but the blurb might interest many as it sounds tricky and magical.
The motivation of the characters could have been even stronger, but, nevertheless are good enough to lead the reader in the right direction. More of a self-discovery than anything else that makes the book a one-time read, it had promising fantasy at the right proportions and with a language so good, this book sets on par with excellence stealing away the heart of the reader after a point.
A few quotations are very beautiful and it sails to the depths of life. The book takes a turn from its genre YA or Coming-of-age and goes to the spiritual mode, which is something I don’t trust mostly. Might work for others!
A very good try indeed!
Rating: 3.5/5