Never say never

It’s been a tough time. I think I am having a mid-20s crisis, if there’s anything like that. Probably it’s caused by having too many expectations of what life should be. Sometimes I think the MICA hangover still continues. Or maybe there is no cure for one.
Some of my batch mates would probably scoff at me and try to reaffirm the idea that they still lead cool lives and are doing exactly what they wanted to do. Or at least keep up the pretense on Facebook.
But then I wonder, has MICA spoiled me? I find it still absolutely impossible to move on. I still want to have the same freedom of thought, the optimism of there being a world outside which was just waiting for me to step out and be conquered and the same life style, which I now realize is not quite possible. What I miss most is the time I had to do nothing but what I like. The things I love doing. I now realize that the world is not conquerable. In fact it is stubborn and difficult, amazingly selfish and self absorbed. In effect, it doesn’t give a shit.
Much of what life keeps on bringing is beyond my control.
How do you deal with the world forcing you to make decisions which you are not ready for? It almost feels like slowly sinking into quick sand.
What’s the point that I am trying to make, you’d ask now, reaching the point where you see no sense in wasting time reading this?
I guess this is a way for apologizing to myself for having stopped doing what I love. I am sorry, books and a lot more, for ignoring you since some time. I am sorry but I am just finding it hard to focus right now. Have I fallen out of love with you?
No, my dear, never. I am on my way back. I hope you’d understand.

Over and out.

But no, wait! Since I have named this post after this fantabulous and *inspiring* song by JB, here’s a youtube video of the song ‘Never Say Never‘ (:blush:, don’t judge me) featuring Jaden Smith. You need to watch it for Jaden Smith, such a kickass kid he is!

Okay, now you can go back to doing something productive like stalking people (if you’re single) or putting up Honeymoon/Karvachauth pics (if you’re married) on facebook. Bye.

Book Review : Love potion no. 10 : A Jana Bibi Adventure by Betsy Woodman

I was introduced to Jana Bibi last year when Random House India sent her first book ‘Jana Bibi’s excellent fortunes’ to me for a review. (Click here to read the review). I found Jana bibi to be an adorable creature.

LovePotionNumber10-3d

Source

The second book in the series, Jana Bibi returns with the same penchant for a life away from the mundane. And nothing mundane can actually happen in Hamara nagar, with a creepy fellow wanting to get his hands on Mr. Ganguly. At the same, love seems to be blooming behind the scenes for Jana Laird and some of her friends.

I am not sure what genre Jana Bibi falls in. Is it for children or adults? It’s amazingly light, simple at heart, but sometimes, has a very mature tone. Overall, it leaves a positive feeling in your stomach and is never a bore. However, I fear that Betsy Woodman may just get a little repetitive in the series, with almost the same plot line in every book (where there is something that threatens Jana and how she deals with it).

About the book: Love Potion no. 10 – A Jana Bibi Adventure | Betsy Woodman | Random House India | Fiction | 320 pages

Note: A copy of this book was provided to me for review by Random House India.

Book Review: The Guardian Angels by Rohit Gore

I finished reading The Guardian Angels by Rohit Gore last month, I do not quite know what I feel about this book, even after one week of having finished it. It’s like I can’t make up my mind about this one. However I shall try to put it all on paper (or cyber space).

The Guardian Angels by Rohit Gore is a story about Radha and Adi, who stumble on to each other during their childhood and share a special bond. The bond remains and strengthens, whatever be the circumstances as they advance in age.

the_guardian_angels_rohit_gore

Source

The book seems at first to be a typical Bollywood story of a rich boy and a middle class girl. However, you have to give time to the story to let it develop. Even if you think it’s your typical story, it does keep you interested enough to continue reading. It makes for some good Metro reading but at the same time, the story and the characters are too ‘ideal’, the characters are too perfect, and don’t seem to have many flaws, making the story seem almost surreal. Not to forget the very cheesy yet profoundly tragic ending. But I have to say one thing, it feels that the author has pored everything inside to write this story. It is not a half-hearted attempt and certainly not something that you can shrug off as your regular Indian writer fare. Read if you are a sucker for romances that remain unfulfilled in theory but yet make you feel as if there could be nothing more complete than this love.

About the book: The Guardian Angels | Rohit Gore | Grapevine India | Fiction |  328 Pages

Note: A copy of this book was provided for review by Mr. Rohit Gore.

Top news this week – Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and The Bone Season Series

It was quite a week for fantasy lovers this week as we saw news from popular fantasy authors and publishers about  upcoming books!

George R R Martin released an excerpt from his upcoming book ‘The Winds of Winter’, the next book in The Song of Ice and Fire Series, of which Game of Thrones was the first book. You can read the excerpt here, on his blog. Random House also has an iphone/ipad app, which serves as a guide to Game of Thrones and contains the excerpt.

original

Image Source

In other news, Bloomsbury is releasing new editions of all the books in the Harry Potter series. These editions have brand new artwork, by award winning artist Jonny Duddle. The release is set for September 1st, 2014. Rush to join the countdown here!

BjKLMeLCYAEJ7Rs

Image Source: Bloomsbury Twitter Page

To read an interview with Jonny Duddle regarding illustrating for the Harry Potter series, click here.

Also, Bloomsbury released the cover of ‘The Mime Order’, the next book in The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon. The Bone Season marked Shannon’s entry into the world of literature last year and it soon rode up the New York Times Best seller List. The Mime Order will release this year, tentatively in October, 2014. You can also read my review of The Bone Season and an interview with Samantha Shannon before its release.

Here’s the cover of ‘The Mime Order’ !

Bj1JEtWCYAEWa-i

Image Source: Bloomsbury Twitter Page

Are you excited about these books and waiting anxiously for their release ? Do leave a comment!

Book Review: Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman

In this book, Neil Gaiman has selected some of his favorite stories featuring monsters and beasts. Most of these beats exist only in myth or folk lore and some, only in our minds. These stories have been selected by best selling author Neil Gaiman, with stories by noted authors in the collection like E Nesbit and Saki.

UnnaturalCreatures_UK-Hardback_1365470096Source

The stories have been carefully chosen. The stories are subtly political, commenting on the present times. I felt as if each ‘monster’ in the story was a metaphor for different emotions in our lives. Sometimes they destroy us, sometimes they liberate us. Each reader would interpret the stories in their own particular way and that is what makes this book enjoyable. My favorite stories were The smile on her face by Nalo Hopkinson and Come Lady Death by Peter S Beagle.

If you are a fan of the short story genre, you shouldn’t miss this book. Also, proceedings go towards the non profit literacy organization called 826DC.

About the book: Unnatural Creatures – Stories chosen by Neil Gaiman | Bloomsbury Publishing | Fiction | 462 Pages. 

Note: This book was provided for review by the kind people at Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bye Bye 2013, Welcome 2014 !

First of all, Happy New Year !

2014-Wallpaper-HD-New-Year

(Image Source)

There’s something impossibly optimistic and happy about a new year coming your way. It fills you with hope and faith that things are going to be so much more better in the new year ! Not to forget, the pleasant surprises which may possibly hit you on the face in 2014. 😀

But before giving a proper welcome to 2014, it’s important to give a good farewell to 2013.

2013 started with a bang, with a job in hand, this time last January. Next followed the craziest last term at MICA and then convocation. Many things happened this year, most of which I am grateful for, even if I may crib about some things on those occasions when everything seems to start weighing down on you. I had some interesting experiences thanks to a sales job which is making me tougher day by day, made new friends, became more open to new possibilities and ended up spending the new year partying with completely unknown people, at a friend’s place (which is a first for me, considering my intrinsic shy nature). And I am happy I did that, it feels like growing up (And I don’t mean growing up in age).

2013 has also been an interesting year for this blog. It was started in the summer of 2012, largely because of a boring internship and nothing much to do. However, second year at MICA consumed me which led to a big lull and it wasn’t until the last term in MICA that I started being serious about this space of mine. 2013 was an active year with me updating quite regularly, with reviews of many new books (thanks to all the lovely publishers who keep sending me books and expecting nothing in return, except an honest review), interviews of interesting new authors in the literary scene and ‘literary’ spaces in the city.

Here are some stats:

views

I always imagined that most of the readers would be from India, since I do not publicize this space too much, except sharing it on facebook. However, I was glad to find that there are people from all over the world, who checked out this blog in 2013.

country wise views

Also, here’s a roundup  of 2013:

Books I enjoyed the most:

My Favourite Review: The Competent Authority by Shovon Chowdhury

Most viewed Author Interview: Supriya Dravid (A cool dark place, Random House India)

Most Viewed Book Review: Hitched – The Modern Woman and Arranged Marriage by Nandini Krishnan (Looks like today’s woman is really worried about marriage 😛 )

Most Popular Giveaway: Blood Red Sari by Ashok Banker and The Hit by Frederick Forsyth (I am not surprised!)

Most viewed non-bookish post: Free – A Poem for Independence Day

The Most active commenter was Abhiroop Banerjee who also did a great guest post called Tragic Pitfalls of Bibliomania.

This year also saw me making plans for taking this website to a whole new level. With priorities and aspirations clashing with each other, I haven’t really been able to set the balls rolling for the same. However, this will always remain a dream.

I have to thank you all for all the love shown to this blog and do hope that you shall continue reading this blog. On a personal front, I have been a little lazy these past two months and lost out on the momentum. There are reviews promised which haven’t been done yet and I can see a big pile of books waiting on the table. I also finished reading only 4 books out of my bucket list and I have learnt that although, most of the books I got from publishers have been good reads, I lost out on reading those which I had wanted to read from a long time. Next year has to be all about balance, but at the same time not losing out on adding new stuff to this space and information about all the new books coming out.

So here’s to a great 2014 ! May 2014 bring good things and good books into our lives ! 🙂

Book Review: Asura Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan

I miss MICA. Yes, I do. It’s not like it was Utopia (In some ways, though, it probably was, compared to real life). People living together in a campus means that there are bound to be the usual jealousies, back stabbings and the constant need to hide your insecurities by pretending to be someone you are not. It’s like an entire zoo of human emotions, in perfect biological balance. Just like society all over.

However, there are lots of things that I thank MICA for. Apart from the friends that I made (the ones of course who stayed till the end) and the great time I had, there are some things that you take away from MICA for which you’d always be in debt. One of them is the conditioning that an institution like MICA provides. The wide range of events happening on campus has something to offer to everyone (if you were intelligent enough to take advantage).

I first heard Anand Neelakantan speak at Reverie, the annual Literature festival hosted by the Literary Committee of MICA in early 2013. He shared the stage with Mallika Sarabhai, for a talk on ‘Mythology through the lens of art forms : Dance & Literature’, which revolved largely around the portrayal of women and the demonization of everything non-brahmin in our religious texts. Here’s a video of the same.

That is how I came to know about Anand Neelakantan’s book ‘Asura : The Tale of the Vanquished’. It was only later that I got a review copy and read the book, co incidentally finishing the book around Dusshera, this year. I was going to write about it on Dusshera, the day being perfect for writing a review of a book on Ravana. But one thing led to another and things in my life (or rather in my mind) became a little chaotic which led to inactivity on this website. But let’s not get into that. By the time  I write this review, Anand Neelakantan’s second book ‘Ajaya’ has already released (Check out the book on Flipkart | Amazon| GoodReads). But then, better late than never!

13563459

Book Cover (Image Source: GoodReads)

Asura Tale of the Vanquished is a story of the Ramayana from Ravana’s perspective. As part of readings for a class on ‘Imagining India’ at MICA, I read this essay by A K Ramanujan, titled ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ (Yes, it’s the same essay which was scuttled out of the DU syllabus).  No doubt, Anand Neelkantan draws influences from all the different folk versions that exist, of the Ramayana.

The book is written from the point of view of Ravana, alternating in between with a narrative from the perspective of Bhadra, a fictional character who is an untouchable. Bhadra stands for the marginalized common man, filled with all the classic positive and negative qualities embodied by man.

Anand Neelkantan writes an interesting story, in the sense that it portrays Rama as essentially a weak person full of failings, in his bid to be a God while Ravana, even when he is  defeated in the end, somehow emerges as the better person. You end up identifying more with Ravana with all his negative human passions than Rama, an unfair god who society forces you to emulate. Essentially, it brings to light how ‘Sanskritised’ everything is in our religious literature, and how we look for justifications, when we encounter problemmatic episodes (most of them which deal with the caste system and the portrayal of women) in them.

When it comes to the language and writing in general, it is decent enough and certainly not to be regarded as anything more than that. But you should treat Asura as an alternate narrative to that existing in the space of popular literature on mythology and read it for precisely the same reason.

About the book: Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished | Anand Neelakantan | Leadstart Publishing | Fiction | 504 pages | Rs. 250.

Note: A copy of this book was provided by the kind people at Leadstart Publishing, for review.