Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cover Reveal : Les Just Not Be Only Friendz (1) – a novel by Vikash Sharma

Les Just Not Be Only Friendz (1) – a novel by Vikash Sharma is set to have its digital launch on March 18, 2017. The paperback will be hitting the stores in the month of April.
About the book:

Les jus not be only friendz (1) is based on relationships and various phases of a graduate student’s life. The novel is set in Noida (NCR) in the time-period of 2009 - 2011.
The novel tells the story of a young, average performer and simple middle-class guy, who in desperate bid to not join his father's profession of selling mechanical spare parts in a small town, comes to Delhi after graduation to study in a Film school, hoping to make it big and become successful in a short time span. 
Aakash opts to stay with his old school friend Dhiru and his trouble making friends, who were perusing engineering from Noida. Before he could sink with the feel of Delhi NCR, he falls for a girl named Neha and finds him swept away by love and varied emotions. Dhiru does not like the progress in Aakash and Neha's blooming relationship and consistently tries to act as second fiddle.
In order to save his friendship with Dhiru and in seeking Neha’s love, Aakash goes through various troublesome phases, which test him over time and eventually changes him from a shy and simple person to a completely different kind.
Towards the end, in order to prove his true love to Neha, Aakash accidentally ends up doing something that he had never dreamed of. The incident terribly jeopardizes their relationship. Will they ever get back to each other?

About the author:

Vikash Sharma was born in Haryana in 1987. He has travelled various states of India, to explore about the lives of people, places, languages, cultural differences, festivals, religions, and the rest.
He currently lives in Mumbai. He is a freelance writer, photographer, traveller, producer and a filmmaker. He believes in wandering, seeking happiness in small things, and sharing it with people.
‘Les just not be only Friendz (I)’ is his first novel. He is currently working on the second part of the trilogy of ‘Les just not be only Friendz.’
Read more about him here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

#AuthorInterview: Vikash Sharma



Born in Bhiwani, Haryana, author Vikash Sharma grew up and finished his schooling from Jharkhand and Delhi. One of four siblings, he has an elder brother and two sisters. "Its interesting how we all live in different cities yet manage to meet more than 4 times in a year. My youngest sister stays with my parents in Jharkhand," said Vikash fondly when talking about his family.

"After finishing graduation, I pursued post graduation from Delhi and then shifted to Mumbai and joined a MNC there. Its been 6 years that I have been working in the VFX industry," said Vikash whose debut novel will be released this month.
Vikash's debut novel is titled Les Just Not Be Only Friendz (1) and is a story about eight people whose lives are interconnected in some way or other.  The book has its digital launch on March 18 after which the ebooks will be available on all major websites. The hard copy of the book is set to be launched in the month of April. While we wait for this exciting new story to be available in the market, we try to know the author a little more.



Vikash confessed that he'd been writing since his childhood and pointed a very obvious reason behind it. "Since I was born in 1987, there wasn't much to dwell on, technology wise. School books and T.V (with very limited channels) were all that we had at our disposal. As a child, I used to scribble and write one or two liners. They didn't make much sense then. But I was really fascinated by the work of various reknowned writers like Mahashweta devi, Munshi Premchand, Vikram Seth, Ruskin bond and others. All those numerous poems and short stories that I had read since childhood must have kind of acted as inspiration for me in some way," he mused.
So, why a book? What is the story behind writing this story? "Actually, small part of it comes from my interest of writing since childhood as I have already mentioned. However, it mainly comes from my post graduation which I pursued from Noida and because of having good friends, who could be portrayed into interesting characters in a good story, most parts of which are true and lifted from my own life experiences."
Like all of us who love to read, Vikash too cannot name any one author and say - that's my favourite. He however named a few he enjoyed reading a lot and they are Arvind Adiga, Amitav Ghosh, Rohinton Mistry, Khushwant Singh, Shashi Tharoor, Devdutt Pattnaik, Gabriel Garcia, Anurag Mathur, Milan Kundera, Ravinder Singh, Chetan Bhagat, etc. I noticed that he reads Indian authors and I smiled inwardly at the welcome change from people who read mostly foreign authors. 
I wanted to know who Vikash's muse is. Does writing come to him easily? "Writing has so many advantages that if I start penning them all down, I will easily consume a page or two in less than 5 minutes. But the thing with writing is, although its extremely pleasing once you are done with what you wanted to express yet initially, it's an extremely exhausting and arduous task. For some it might be easy but I find it very difficult. And personally, I feel that writers don't write with pen, pencils or their finger tips. They write with their own blood and sweat. And sadly, most of the time, don't get proper accredition for their hard creative work. As for my luse, that would be life itself." Honestly, I couldn't agree more with his views. Every book holds in itself the authors soul, blood and dreams, and these aspects are ignored most of the times while reviewing the books.



Set your priorities straight and then don't compromise or give excuses later. Do or do not, there is no try.
When I asked Vikash about one thing he has learnt from life, the above lines are what he quoted.

While he isn't revealing a lot about the book, he did throw some light to the story for our readers! "This book is centred around love and friendship. The protagonist Aakash is an average performer, from a middle class family and has everything at stake on his performance in next 2 years in Noida. The trouble ensues once he falls in love with Neha. Its the story of his love, friends, trials and tribulations and how he copes up with the mess around him. Its a troublesome love story, wrapped with friendship on the edges." He also tells that he has planned it to be a trilogy and this is of course the first book.
As is evident from his profession, Vikash is a huge movie buff. "I like watching movies, whenever I can. Through travelling, I seek inner peace and joy. Photography, Writing, and learning other languages are my other interests.

My hobbies include - plantation, regular exercise and creating something interesting or worthy everyday."

Talking about how he hopes his book will impact its readers, Vikash reveals, "Since all the incidents portrayed in the story are quite realistic and natural, I am quite sure that the readers will find the story relatable and will enjoy reading it. I am not trying to bring any change in the world. I dont feel that I need to. Although, I hope the biggest impact that I wish to see in the readers would be if they start reading again, the way the old generation used to. Reading should never become uncool. It never was. And so, it should never be."
Quite honestly, if this is the ambition behind every book that is written, am sure everyone will pick a book of their choice and read more!
Before we ended the interview, I asked Vikash to leave a few helpful words for aspiring authors based on his own experience so far. "Its a long process. Keep polishing your skills. Keep working on them. And one day, you will realise that you get it. You will be surprised that day. Enjoy that day. And then again, keep working on your next work."

He further added, "And about the process, well, with the advent of technology and other mediums at our disposal, its not difficult to find the whats and hows about writing these days. I wish you all the best. Hope to read and enjoy your work some day. Cheers!"


Connect with author Vikash Sharma at:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

#BookReview: Metro Diaries 2 by Namrata

On the jacket:


Give life another chance. Laugh a little longer. let go of your past. Hold onto what you love. In short LIVE rather than just exist!

Some told, some untold, some heard and some unheard – this collection of stories will make you look at life in a different light and make you ponder over its definition of it till now.

Review:

I dig short stories. So whenever the opportunity to read a collection comes up, I grab it. It is more inviting, it the stories are by the same author as the reader gets a taste of various moods of the same mind. In Metro Diaries - 2, which is the second part of the series as the name suggests, author Namrata has put together twenty short stories that revolve around life. 
From the stories it is evident that Namrata is a keen observer and I strongly believe that to be a good fiction writer, one needs to be a strong observer. Your writing skills pay part in the process much later. How minutely you observe things decide how you format your fiction, as what is fiction but a slice of real life! 
The stories which specifically caught my attention are Charlatan and The Pawn, though I must admit, each story had a distinct flavour of its own and managed to stay so. Each story has something to take from - be it the experience of chancing upon a sudden twist in the plot in Charlatan, or The Last Kiss where a story so sad that it engulfs you but you smile at the end of it, thinking how amazing a job the author has done.

Rating: ****/5

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#BookReview: The Girl Who Chose: A New Way of Narrating the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik

On the jacket:


‘You are bound by rules, but not I. I am free to choose.'
Two thousand years ago, the poet-sage Valmiki wrote the Ramayana. It is the tale of Ram, the sun-prince of Ayodhya, who is obliged to follow family rules and so makes no choices. And of Ravana, king of Lanka, who does not respect anybody’s rules or other people’s choices.
Over the centuries, hundreds have retold the tale in different languages, adding new twists and turns. But few have noticed that the tale always depends on the five choices made by Sita.

What were Sita’s five choices?

India’s favourite mythologist brings you this charmingly illustrated retelling of the Ramayana that is sure to empower and entertain a new generation readers.

Review:

The Girl Who Chose is an adaptation of The Ramayana, easy for children to understand. I remember being introduced to the mythology through a book with pictures and cartoon like dialogies written and my father used to read it out to me. I'd made him read it to me so many times that I could tell the story myself just by looking at the pictures. I must have been at the most, 3, then. Later, I'd read the grownup version of the story. Never in between. Never as a pre-teen or a teen when I could actually understand the story better because growing up, we didn't have such luxuries. I am quiet envious that children these days have so many options. The Girl Who Chose is simply written and covers almost all of the story's important parts. The illustrations make it more interesting to read and relate to. However, what makes the book a must read for every youngster is how, Pattanaik has not really written his own take of the mythology, but actually told the tale as it is known. He has also included tidbits and information about different forms of the story and good to know facts about them. Lastly, the book tells the story from Sita's point of view. Rather this is Sita's Ramayana. She is the hero, she is the protagonist. Unlike how we have been reading the story as Ram's story, here we have this story for kids, which tells them of Sita's contribution to Ram's life and the choices she made. She tells Ram, "You are bound by rules, but not I. I am free to choose." And, choose she does. From choosing to accompany Ram to the forest for 14 years, to crossing the Laksham-Rekha so that she can give alms to the saint, to waiting for Ram to come rescue her and not letting Hanuman do the same, choosing to go back to Ayodhya after her rescued her from Ravana and lastly, by refusing to return to Ayodhya, the place where a person's reputation mattered more than anything else, she made her five choices. Each individual choice is a lesson for every child and they have so much to learn from Sita on how to have a strong integrity.

Rating: *****/5


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Metro Diaries 2 by Namrata

About the book



Give life another chance. Laugh a little longer. let go of your past. Hold onto what you love.

In short LIVE rather than just exist!

Some told, some untold, some heard and some unheard - this collection of stories will make 
you look at life in a different light and make you ponder over its definition of it till now.


Reviews for Metro Diaries 1:

After touching your hearts with 'Metro Diaries - Love Classics' she is back now with 
stories that will redefine life for you!

The stories in Metro Diaries - Love Classics are free from any trappings of youthful slang and 
fashionable language stunts. These young adults are speaking to the readers with Namrata’s 
maturity shining through, and Namrata’s ideas of love. - Sakshi Nanda 

The language is fairly pleasant to read and the elaborate discussions between characters in 
each story must have taken a lot of work – because the most difficult job of all authors is to 
bring out human emotions in proper words. Thankfully, Namrata has concentrated upon it 
very well! - Dhivya Balaji

About the Author:


Namrata is A Lost Wanderer who loves travelling the length and breadth of the world. A 
published author in various anthologies and magazines she enjoys capturing the magic of 
life in her words. She is forever in pursuit of a new country and a new story.

Contact the Author:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

#BookReview: Faster, Smarter, Higher: Managing Your Career by Utkarsh Rai

On the jacket:


‘Utkarsh Rai’s book is a commendable effort that presents a holistic view of career management. A good read, especially for professionals in the early to mid-stages of their careers.’ —N.R. Narayana Murthy  Hard work is necessary for a job, but not sufficient for career growth. Given that workplace dynamics are ever-changing, one needs to anticipate and prepare for the impending twists and turns in one’s career. Lack of understanding of managing key relationships can lead to frustration in one’s career. Being in a hurry to rise, people often ignore to hone this skill, focusing too much on their subject matter expertise. Faster, Smarter, Higher provides clever and critical tips on how to manage various key relationships at work.

Review:

Having quit the corporate world seven years ago, this book was for me an enjoyable read. Had it landed in my hands seven years ago, it might have proven to be a helpful guidebook on how to survive there. This is like a go-to book for every corporate employee. No one can deny that practically every employee of the corporate world lives under a lot of pressure, irrespective of the designation they are in. The type of pressure, challenges and struggles do differ, but the fact that life is stressful, exists. 
Faster, Smarter, Higher is not only a book that will guide you in how to survive and rise in the corporate world, but also has valuable advice and tips from industry leaders. The book addresses very basic issues like how we deal with our goals and dreams, to more specific topics like people management - boss, colleagues, juniors, etc.

Peppered with relevant quotes by 51 business leaders at relevant points of the book, this makes for a more interesting read.

Rating: ****/5




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#BookReview: What Belongs To You by Garth Greenwell

On the jacket:


On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, drawn by hunger and loneliness and risk, and finds himself ensnared in a relationship in which lust leads to mutual predation, and tenderness can transform into violence. As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history, the world of his southern childhood where to be queer was to be a pariah. There are unnerving similarities between his past and the foreign country he finds himself in, a country whose geography and griefs he discovers as he learns more of Mitko’s own narrative, his private history of illness, exploitation, and want.

What Belongs to You is a stunning debut novel of desire and its consequences. With lyric intensity and startling eroticism, Garth Greenwell has created an indelible story about the ways in which our pasts and cultures, our scars and shames can shape who we are and determine how we love. 

Review:

I'll be honest, I haven't read a lot of LGBT literature. When the prospect of reading What Belongs To You came, along with high reccomendations, I had to pick it up.  

Has it ever happened to you that you've read a work of fiction but it seems very real? As if you have lived that? a lot of times, yes. When I was reading What Belongs To You, the first thing that kept me glued to it was how real the 'story' is. You know deep within that this could be anybody's story, or segments from lives of different people. Our protagonist, or the narrator is unnamed. The story begins with his encounter with the very charismatic and irresistable Mitko. They met at a public washroom and soon they were in an intimate relationship. I will be honest, I didn't fall in love with the story from the first page. The plot grew on me as I turned the pages - the credit of which goes hands down to the style of writing and storytelling. 

There are so many facets to the story that one might think they will get lost, but that doesn't happen. Mitko's life - how and why he starts to use his body to survive, and then the narrator and his sexual obsession with Mitko. The story is set in Bulgaria where our narrator, who is an American buying sexual flavours from Mitko, while what he really wants is love.
 
There are subtle references to the way the characters are developed which made me put the book aside from time to time, and just imagine them. Like how the narrator was practically desperate and needy for Mitko, yet took quite a satisfaction in giving money to the homeless Russian when he needed it. It gave him a feeling of surperiority and paved the consensus that they were not equal. Made sense, for they were in a society where a homosexual relationship should not be made public.

Rating: ****/5


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Monday, August 8, 2016

#BookReview: What Might Have Been by Lynn Steward

On the blurb

As a fashion buyer at one of New York’s most glamorous department stores, Dana McGarry is a tastemaker, her keen instinct for fashion trends and innovative ideas coupled with a razor sharp business sense. But like the elegant and conservative store that employs her, Dana is caught between two eras—between being liked and standing her ground, between playing by the rules and being a maverick. Dana is sensitive and beautiful, but what you see is not what you get.

Behind the cool and attractive facade, Dana is both driven by her need to control yet impeded by her expectation of perfectionism. As she competes to replace women at the top of their game, she is challenged by jealous colleagues. And when a wealthy love interest wants to open doors and support her ambition, she embraces Coco Chanel’s mantra of “never wanting to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.” As the women’s movement paves the way, Dana finds a path to the career she wants at the expense of happiness that was not meant to be.

Steward captures the nuances of 70s life in New York City and provides the perfect backdrop for an independent woman determined to make her mark. What Might Have Been is a story that transcends any period.

Review:

What Might Have Been by Lynn Steward is the second book of the Dana McGarry series. As the blurb suggests, Dana, our protagonist is a fashion buyer in the city of New York. And as the cover of the book suggests, this is a very warm and feel good story. 
Dana has had a very turbulent life of late, owing to her husband's infidelity and their divorce. That shouldn't make you believe that she is sad in life. Her career is going great and she has a nice personal life too. However, life as it is, it comes with its own twists and turns. 
Set in the 70s and with New York as the backdrop, the book grabs your attention right from the cover. I had finished reading it in one afternoon, that should explain how nicely it has been written. The book throws a sneak peak into the fashion worls from that time, as well as Dana's personal life and its upheavals. Interestingly, despite being part of a series, the book works well as a stand alone as well. I myself haven't read the first book and didn;t at any point of time, feel that I don't know the story in some way.  

It is lovely to see a career woman of the 70s, crumble and then stand up, bloom and become herself all over again. 
Rating: ****/5


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lynn Steward, a veteran of the New York fashion industry and a buyer on the team that started the women’s department at Brooks Brothers, created the Dana McGarry series, set at a transformational time in the 1970s world of fashion and in the lives of multigenerational women.

What Might Have Been is the second volume in the series. A Very Good Life, Steward’s debut novel, was published in March 2014.

LynnSteward.com

Pinterest.com/LynnStewardny

Facebook.com/LynnStewardnyc

Twitter: @LynnStewardNY
Buy the book here:

Saturday, August 6, 2016

#ProductReview: Pee Safe - Toilet Seat Sanitizer


It so happened that over the last few week, I've had prolonged discussions with different sets of friends, in person and in whataspp groups about the problems we women face with public toilets in India (even abroad, though not as much). This is not a topic much addressed however, of late the Indian government as well as UNICEF are creating a lot of awareness about the need of proper toilets and how important hygiene is.
However, a public place is a public place. Germs are bound to be present, even if the toilet seat is visibly clean. Door knobs, taps, handles - anything which has public access, will have germs. For me, this is a concern even when I am visiting someone else's home because everyone's cleanliness routine differs. 
A doctor friend suggested buying small, empty sprat cans and filling them with dettol idea. Not a bad idea, except that dettol smells. Which means we will smell too. Right when I was quite into all this discussion, and we were looking for manageable solutions - this arrive from Pee Safe - Toilet Seat Sanitizer. 


Pee Safe - Toilet Seat Sanitizer and Wet Wipes
In the package were spray cans of Pee Safe - Toilet Seat Sanitizer of three different sizes, to be used as per requirement. Also in it was a small pocket size spray, along with two packets of wet-wipes. Wo! My first reaction was - What a timing! 

Indeed! The first thing I checked, to be honest, was it's price. Because if this product works, I'd want as many women as possible to use it. The 10 ml pocket spray is for Rs 36, 40 ml bottle is priced at Rs 99, 75 ml at Rs 150, and the wet wipes are fr Rs 60 per packet. Not bad, not bad at all. At least in urban India, women would be benefited, I believe.

This is what Pee Safe claims to do! (c) PeeSafe

So, how is this used and where all can it be used. To begin with, on toilet seats. The brand has the following claims about the product:
- It kills bacteria.
- No harsh chemicals used; it also smells good.
- It can be used on toilet seats, door knobs, handles, etc.
- It is travel friendly.
- It is quick to dry.
- It helps prevent UTI, diarrhoea, and gastroenteritis.
After using the products for two weeks, I must say, I am impressed. Public toilets which do smell foul many times, now smell wonderful the moment this is sprayed - on toilet seat, door knobs or taps/handles. To use it, shake the can - spray on the area - wait for 5 seconds - use! As simple as that!
   

PeeSafe would be particuarly useful when travelling, at work or practically everytime when not at home. Buy the products from SafetyKart.

Friday, August 5, 2016

#AuthorInterview: Harleen Vij

Author Harleen Vij's debut novel The Abstruse is all set to be launched in the end of August, 2016. The blurb of the story seems very interesting and curious. Curious enough for me to want to discuss the book with her. Here are snippets of my conversation with author Harleen Vij:

Blurb of The Abstruse:

A college girl has the power to predict cricket matches. But her lover thinks otherwise- she has the power to see glimpses of future and he is right. Things take a turn in their relationship when they realize this. Their trust and love, which were once spontaneous, become carefully thought our choices. And then, she has a vision. A vision to do with her brutal death and her lover. Should she believe in her vision or her most trusted lover? Should she ignore the premonitions or plan escape?


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Tell our readers something about The Abstruse.

The Abstruse is about a carefree 23-year-old-girl, Aradhita. She is passionate about cricket unlike other girls around her. She begins her journey by predicting an unimaginable 400+ run chase for Proteas against the Kangaroos. The prediction of this match makes her a favorite amongst her friends who indulged in betting. Gradually, her predictions become freakingly accurate. Her best pal, Aarav, makes her realize that there's more to what meets the eye. She is clairvoyant and stays elusive about it. The Abstruse is also a journey of Aradhita and Aarav whose relationship sees the dark and light in love while dealing with her clairvoyance.

How did you settle on this title for your debut book? 

Abstruse means something beyond the known or unfathomable. Aradhita is dealing with something which is beyond her understanding. The Unknown was the preferred title but it was taken. So, I went ahead with The Abstruse.

Tell us something about author Harleen Vij.

The most difficult thing is to put words to describe yourself. Yes, even writers are at loss of words at times. The author in me is someone I'm myself trying to know. She's completely opposite to what I am. She is serious, observant and an introvert. Sometimes I feel like dealing with a split personality disorder but then, I feel, every author has two personalities. I am more of a carefree and calm person but the author in me is anxious and curious.

Who are your favourite authors?

Khushwant Singh, Amrita Pritam and Jhumpa Lahiri amongst the Indians and Haruki Murakami, Khaled Hosseini and Julian Barnes.

What next? Are you planning on a new book?

Well, of course. I am working on a couple of story ideas.

How was this journey, from conception of a story to being a published author?

Ah! Today, I would say that it's been a beautiful journey. I have seen the worst of times and the best times too. I have learnt, unlearnt and evolved as a person. Not only as a person but as a writer as well. My writing and story-telling skills have evolved drastically. It took me five years to get published and in these five years, I've seen life from many perspectives. I have seen the best and worst in people. I was a novice, both as a person and as a writer, when I started and today I feel glad about the time I took to begin my journey.

               Buy The Abstruse here:


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