Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

A romantic comedy that is funny, contemporary and sharp.

 

A makeup artist working day & night, living life on her own terms, making decisions for herself suddenly lands up in a situation where she is constantly trying to prove her worth, juggling between work and social life. The cause of her distress and the reason why she sees stars in the daylight is Akshay Agarwal, the man of her dreams.

Misha, our protagonist, is a fun-loving, cheerful girl, who is trying to pursue her dream of being a professional make-up artist. After several failed relationships, Misha finally meets Akshay, who unlike other boys is everything she could ever dream of. Owner of the Aggarwal Jewellers, Akshay is a hot-shot who has a lavish lifestyle and his clothes along with his smell, reek of expensive brands that you can’t even pronounce. He falls in love with Misha’s unconventionality, her quirkiness and upfront attitude. Despite belonging to the elite class, Akshay is humble and down to earth. The chemistry between Misha and Akshay is sizzling. They’re an embodiment of young love, passion and desire. However, as John Green once said, ‘Life is not a wish-granting factory’, our loving couple, face tough time ahead.

Enter, Didi, Akshay’s third parent. Misha soon realizes that pleasing her sister-in-law is more difficult than she imagined. She has to live upto the unbelievably high standards set by Didi, follow the traditions of the Aggarwal family and give up on her dream to become a make-up artist. Will Misha succumb to the demands and sacrifice her life & career to be the ‘bahu’ of the Aggarwal family? Or will she pursue her dream regardless of the societal standards forced onto her? That’s for you to read and find out!

Vibha Batra’s writing style is smooth, simple and extremely fun to read. It’s safe to say the book is a laughter riot. Several instances in the novel are quite hilarious. Misha’s references to bollywood, Big Bang Theory are sure to leave you in splits. Apart from that, Vibha has pointed out a rather gloomy picture of Indian standard for women. The judgemental nature and superficial display of affection is deep-rooted within the Indian families even today. Women face a lot of pressure to give up their jobs after marriage and working women are considered a failure when it comes to maintaining their personal life. Why, after so much progress and empowernment, women are still not able to decide for themselves? Why can’t women have a steady job AND a happy personal life? The reality is distressing. However, one can only hope for a more progressive mindset. The author also tackles a number of inhibitions about an independent working girl. Vibha shares her flat with her friend, Sammy, who belongs to the opposite sex. This is met with shock and disbelief by Didi, who resents Misha’s life choices and living arrangements.

Akshay also represents a man with strong beliefs and ideals, one who never backs from lending his full support to Misha and encourages her to work hard for her career. He refuses to conform to the rules and norms of his Sister and the Indian society at large. He is a full blown Feminist.

(Just when I thought i’d not swoon over a fictional character, Akshay pops up, eh.)

Another important and recurring theme in the novel is self-love, one that most of us overlook. Misha might come across as an independent-confident girl but deep down inside she suffers from low self-esteem and insecurities. She isn’t happy with her physical appearance or her distraught relationship with her parents. She is too harsh on herself and needs constant validation to feel accepted.

From Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi to wearing the latest collection of M.A.C lipsticks, to a high-end lifestyle and sizzling romance, Glitter and Gloss has it all! I am not one to read Rom-com but this particular novel is fresh and crisp despite having a few cliché moments.

Lovers of contemporary romance and YA, would find themselves flipping through the pages and smiling a devilish smile at having come across a book that’s oh-so-relatable!

What are you waiting for? Grab your book now

 


Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Format: e-book

Rating: 3.9/5

What are you waiting for? Grab your book now

Window Seat By Yashluv Virwani

A collection of short stories that speak of lost love, failed marriages, harships and life.

The smell of coffee, the hustle and bustle of a busy street, the touch of someone you love coupled with moments that seem like a dream along with literature and poetry are only a few of the serene experiences that have been narrated in Window Seat. It is an anthropology of short stories that has portrayed human idiosyncrasies in its purest form.

Debut author Yashluv Virwani has weaved beautiful stories in his novel Window Seat that transcend beyond boundaries, race and religion. There are 8 stories in the novel; each distinct and profound yet hypnotising making the readers come back for more.

The author has played with words in a way that casts spells on the reader. His words are soothing, hit right on the spot and add life and meaning to the characters. Speaking of which, characters in Window Seat are different from each other, their imperfections have been brilliantly played. The characters are you and me, they’re every person walking down the street, sitting in cafes, going to movies. The characters are us. And that’s what makes them so relatable. You can almost see your reflection in them and wonder how the author penned you down.

From poetry to detailed descriptions to breathtaking characters to burning passion and love, Window Seat is everything a good novel is made of. It’s a quick read and I’m sure you’d complete it in one sitting.

 

Blurb: What does a Window Seat remind you of? Your apartment in a high-rise building, in the lap of your couch, a cup of chai in your hand, a song on your lips, as you watch the world outside, with its share of glittering streetlights, honks and smoke, flow? Or the incessant journeys you undertake, in buses or trains, with music digging deep in your ears, as you see miles and miles of untamed wilderness ? I want you to go back to your childhood, in the cosy arms of the eldest member in your family, who, using the threads of magic, weaved a parallel existence around you, transporting you to a place away from all the things that bind you – because that is the land where stories work – a land that has no cages, only freedom.

Publisher: Half Baked Beans

Pages: 110

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

 

You can buy the book here: Amazon

Disclaimer: Received the copy from Half Baked Beans. Views are my own.

Book Review: Option B

“Seeking joy after facing adversity is taking back what was stolen from you”

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 176

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

I don’t know anyone who has been handed only roses. We all encounter hardships. Some we see coming; others take us by surprise. It can be as tragic as the sudden death of a child, as heartbreaking as a relationship that unravels, or as disappointing as a dream that goes unfulfilled. The question is: When these things happen, what do we do next?

Life, as we know it, is unpredictable. You’re walking down the road in your freshly cleaned and ironed white shirt only to have mud splashed across your entire body. You’re standing on the road, hailing abuses at the vehicle who did it, but there’s only so much you can do. Or maybe accidently dropping the scoop of icecream you’d been wanting to savour. These are small almost unimportant terrible things that happen. What does one do when they fail at an important phase of their life? How do you react when you lose a family member? Where do you go when you’re fighting to live?

You want to give up. Leave everything. And escape. But you don’t. You wake up every day, confused, miserable, but still ready to move on. When there’s no Option A, you kick the shit out of Option B. That’s exactly what this novel by Sheryl Sandberg is all about. To find the light at the end of the tunnel, to find the silver lining and learn to live some form of Option B.

The sudden death of Sheryl’s husband turned her world upside down. It came as a blow, one she thought she could never recover from. To make it worse, she couldn’t think of a life where her children would grow up without having a father. Happiness seemed like a distant dream. Sheryl feared her children would never find happiness again. They would never be normal. She would never be normal. Adam Grant, psychologist at Wharton and a dear friend of Sheryl jumped to the scene. Together they discovered how to cope with adversity and build resilience. Talking about Resilience Sheryl says:

I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strenght and speed of our response to adversity–we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.

So began a lifelong journey of Sheryl coping with the loss of her husband, maintaining her job as the COO of Facebook and ensuring her kids grew up to be strong and resilient. One of the foremost principle’s used in the book are the 3Ps that stunt recovery. This was formulated by psychologist Martin Seligman when he was studying how people deal with setbacks.

  • Personalization: The belief that we are at fault
  • Pervasiveness: The belief that an event will affect all areas of our life.
  • Permanence: The belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.

Studies have shown that the minute adults and children accept that they’re not in control of every situation, that they’re not to blame and that these hardships won’t follow them everywhere and will not affect all aspects of life, they recover quickly.

The book follows Sheryl’s everyday struggles which included attending her children’s school events alone or celebrating birthdays without her better half. One of the important points mentioned in the book which I personally found interesting was ‘focusing on worst-case scenarios’. Adam went on proposing that instead of trying to find the positives in an utterly miserable situation, one should think of how worse the current situation could be. I mean, come to think of it, you’re alive and reading this review right now( well, I hope you are). And the gift of life is probably the biggest gift ever. In Sheryl’s circusmtances, Adam reminded her that her husband, Dave, could have died while driving their children to school. His statement sent chills down her spine overwhelming her. She realized her children were still with her and that gratitude took over grief.

Option B is a sum total of not just Sheryl’s loss. It has tremendous stories of people from all walks of life who have defied all the odds, survived at the face of adversity and have overcome illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters and the violence of war. Not only do these stories inspire they also teach us how to persevere in times of hardships. They reveal how strong human capacity is and that pain usually bows down when faced with people who refuse to beaten by their circumstances.

I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.

Failure can either make you or break you. It’s easy saying you learn from failures. It’s difficult being on the receiving end. Talking about failures, Sheryl says, “Not only do we learn more from failure than success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely”. Imagine if we’d stop walking when we were little because we kept falling every time?

The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way. There are always things you can do better. It’s a game of mistakes

—-Greg Popovich

I spent most of my time underlining and making notes because Option B does offer deep insights and there’s so much to learn from the book. The writing style is simple, it’s not preachy and Sheryl has described her emotions in a raw and unfiltered way. You can feel the emotions deeply but at the same time there’s a sense of hope and faith that pain is temporary.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

Sometimes it takes going through something so awful to realize the beauty that is out there in this world.

April Wrap Up + Birthday Book Haul

A month in reading, birthday gifts and beach-ing!

I begin every post by expressing how utterly overwhelmed I feel at the pace time is running. Today is just the same. April has been the dullest month for me. Other than that, I spent most of my time sulking, putting off reading and writing. Or studying. But like I promised, I’m going to talk about my failures as much as my laurels(if any, lol). Oh, I also went for a vacation with my family which is probably the highlight of the month. So, YAY.

I managed to read 3 books. In terms of blog posts, I wrote 4. Let’s take a look:

  1. Iridescence: A poetry book with pictures which I absolutely loved. You can find the review here: Review: Iridescence
  2. Intentional Smile: A girl’s guide to positive living. Again, another book that’s written simply and has important things to ponder over and understand. Review: Intentional Smile
  3. Handmaid’s Tale: I’m sure most of you have been watching The Handmaid’s Tale series directed by Bruce Miller. Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t quite like this book. I had huge expectations with the book and the plot but it failed to make any impression on me. I think I had trouble getting used to the writing style and the way the story was crafted. Again, cheers if it’s your favourite book or if you’re loving the TV adaptation. Not a book I would read again.

 

I started reading The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain. I am still in the process of completing the above mentioned novels and safe to say I’m struggling. That’s the thing about classics; you have a love/hate relationship with them.

On to the exciting part. I received SOOO many books this month since it was my birthday and my sister and lovely bookstagram friends ensured I was stocked up.

  • A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashmi (I’d been whining over getting my hands on this book since as far as I can remember)
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Mr.Mercedes by Stephen King( My frist ever King novel)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R.CAREY
  • The Ice Twins by S.K.Tremayne
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Looking forward to reading all of the books. My excitement level is over the roof.

 

How did your reading go? Let me know!

 

 

Review: Iridescence

Life is all about pictures and words.

Author: Abhishek Gupta

Publisher: Half Baked Beans

Pages: 67

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Iridescence is a photo-poetry book filled with beautiful, breath-taking pictures combined with poetry that’s straight from the heart. Abhisek Gupta has weaved magic with his photography skills and the poems are an icing on the cake.

Whoever said a picture speaks a thousand words clearly hasn’t read Iridescence. Life is a  mixture of colorful hues. Some days its a bright yellow light shining down on you, on other days its a dark, starry night. The book showcases different pictures taken by the author at various conjectures of his life along with his feelings at that point of time. It’s interesting to read where the picture was taken and what state of mind the author was in. This shows that regardless of us being different to each other, we all stumble across certain points in our lives that are relatable and it makes us feel that perhaps we’re not alone.

In the words of Dr.Subhash Chandra( Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha) who wrote the forward to the book,” It is your story as much as it is mine; it is every person’s story. Delve into it to know you are not alone and to reinvigorate the iridescence of your soul”

The book is divided into two parts and is a blend of multifarious emotions running through our veins. I have a couple of favorite poems from the book one of them being Soliloquize.

The world is not the same,

Every day is a new game,

Like lanterns in the sky,

Consistency doesn’t lie. 

Through the above poem, the author talks about how each day is completely different from the other, how time has changed us and continues to do so. In the poem ‘We aren’t the Savers’ the author poses some serious questions. The world, as we know, is not the same anymore. It’s unfair, cruel and uncompromising. In the midst of it all, who is going to be our savior?

We can convince the grime,

To sterile our opportunities,

To immaculate our potential,

We have faith in god,

Because he turned our life this way,

And still we say,

We are actually not the savers. 

Iridescence takes you on a journey of self-discovery, it makes you ponder and reflect. A photo-poetry book you can go back to when you’re happy or fall back on when days seem rough. The combination of pictures and poetry makes it a delightful read.

Review: Intentional Smile

A Girl’s guide to positive living.

Author: Shazia Omar & Merrill Khan

Art: Lara Salam

Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Genre: Self-help

Rating: 4/5

Format: Paperback

Life is a series of hitting rock-bottom and getting back up. No one gets out without being grilled, marinated and roasted. Such is life. But sometimes the weight of the world gets too hard to carry. We lose our focus and sense of self. All of us have hit rock bottom at one point of our lives. However, how many of us have recovered from the fall? With everything that’s happening in the world around us, finding love, joy and happiness becomes an illusion. The silver lining keeps fading till you realize life’s nothing but a big giant pile of dump. It’s okay. Life is made that way. But what if the secret to living a happy life lies within you? What if the power to realize your potential has been hidden inside you all along, only you never considered tapping into the abundance that YOU are? Well, Intentional Smile is one such self-help book that’s going to help you look within and understand that life, after all, is pretty simple.

Shazia Omar and Merrill Khan have co-authored Intentional Smile which is a girl’s guide to positive living( I think the laws applied in this book are universal and not restricted). The book is a journey of self-discovery where gratitude , joy and abundance are the sole factors that make life worth living. Come to think of it; we spend our days whining and sulking about the tiniest things not realizing we’re being ungrateful for the million things that are still going right in our lives. Maybe if we’d take a minute to express gratitude for everything in our lives, our perspective would change. Life’s not as messed up as we think it is.

The book has been illustrated by Lara Salam who has done a tremendous job. It’s very rare to come across self-help books that are so picturesque and easy to follow. Most of the exercises, morning routines, chakras and Meditation cards are self-explanatory and easy to understand. Don’t you love books that are visually appealing?

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I think one of the most important themes in the book is self-love. One of the prerequisites to being a confident person is being happy with oneself. Social Media in this day and age has in a number of ways given false impression to different body types/skin and unreal expectations of how one should should like. Teenagers and mostly young girls are rubbed in a negative way resulting in low self-esteem, failure to accept themselves and lack of self-love. It’s so essential to know that you’re whole just as you are. The book captures and gives readers several practices and techniques to start loving themselves even more.

The journey of self-love begins with loving yourself

There’s a lot of criticism to positive thinking. An underlying impression that positive means staying happy all the time has made it difficult for people to come to terms with their problems. Thinking good thoughts, acknowledging your shortcomings and problems and believing in a better tomorrow is part of being positive. It’s humanely not possible to be an energizer bunny 24/7 but it is extremely important to accept you have a problem and then moving on from there. And how do you accept there’s a problem? You can try EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique. It is a technique to release all your negative feelings by tapping on certain acupoints. There is a clear diagram in the book to explain where your EFT hotspots are.

To free up energy for dream construction, we need to take care of ourselves so we feel good mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Don’t neglect your health.

You might think it’s easier said than done, right? But the authors, Shazia Omar & Merrill Khan, have spoken from their persoanl experiences. They’ve fought the demons and risen above it. Shazia Omar is a well-being psychologist and yoga teacher (she’s multi-talented; writer, mom and a believer too!). Merrill Khan is a child counselor, primary school teacher, wife , a mother and mermaid! (Super woman, eh?) Together these two weaved some magic and presented us with Intentional Smile!

Everyone has fears.

Becoming aware of your fears is the first step towars letting them go.

Identify your fears, then choose to let them go.

From morning routines to breathing exercises to setting goals to yoga, this self-help book has it all. And if you’re someone who loves visual representations of things, then, the art illustrations in the book are a treat. Intentional Smile is one book that’ll give you a warm fuzzy feeling from within and help you look at things from a better perspective. Start thinking good things to attract all that is good!

Remember, “You are a blissful warror princess”

 

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Review: UNNS: The Captivation

A secret Mission. A childhood love affair. Death and Revenge.

Author: Sapan Saxena

Publisher: Inspire India Publishers

Pages: 244

Genre: Thriller/Romance

Rating: 3.5/5

Blurb:

“Of course you know about the seven stages of love, but have you ever lived them?”

Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim.

Lovebirds since adolescence. Bonded by love, separated by circumstances. They part ways only to meet again. But this time, he is on a secret mission…

Are they in control of their own destiny, or its their destiny which is making them dance to its tunes? Only time would answer, as Atharva and Meher unwillingly and unknowingly transcend the seven stages of love.

A quintessential tale of love and romance marked beautifully by its own rustic old school charm.

 

My Review:

Caught in the midst of childhood love and innocence, Meher and Atharva, fight against all odds to defend what’s right to them. Atharva is a RAW agent, one of the best the indian government has ever seen. Meher, on the other hand, is working against the indian government who were responsible for the death of her father. Their paths cross but are they meant to be?

UNNS: The Captivation is a story about childhood lovers who take separate paths but destiny binds them together under circumstances that changes their life forever. Atharva, is on a mission and meets Meher after 15 years. Little does he know that the love of his life will eventually lead to his doom. The story keeps getting complicated as Atharva tries to decipher what’s happening to him. Suffering from a rare disorder, Atharva, despite his pain, keeps his eye on the mission till Meher arrives and ruins everything for him. Just when he could trust her, Meher, siding with the anti-national forces cons Atharva leading to his arrest on the charges of treason against RAW and India. A failed secret mission that lead to the compromisation of several other RAW agents. All this because Atharva was blinded by his childhood love. His credibility as one of the best RAW agents is on the line and there’s nothing he can do but surrender. His only regret: Why would Meher take advantage of his love for her?

The story does not end there. Infact, it keeps getting complicated. They meet again. Under different circumstances. But will Atharva’s love fool him once again? Or will he see right through Meher? That’s for you to read and discover.

The writing style is pretty simple. Sapan Saxena didn’t lose grip of the plot and was able to create suspense without making the reader pull their hair out. Although, there were a few errors as far as writing was concerned but since the story is indeed captivating one can skim through easily. I think novels that are a blend of romance and thrill go a long way in receiving readers’ attention and bringing parsie to the author. I really enjoyed the climax because it wasn’t cliche at all and did justice to all the characters.

If you’re into novels that have a bit of romance but at the same time are filled with suspense and thrill, then UNNS: The Captivation would be a good choice.

 

February Wrap Up

A month in books and reviews.

I hibernated in the month of february. Not much happened in terms of blog posts. I almost forgot I have a blog. (Sorry for the exaggeration). I suffered from lack of motivation and I decided no blog posts were better than poor quality content. BUT I did read 5 books, more than I read last month. Let’s take a look:

  • The Catcher In The Rye: J.D.Salinger’s novel talks about teenage alienation, a sense of abandonment, identity crisis and longing to find onself. It’s part of my second year syllabus and I personally didn’t like the book much. I know it is regarded as one of the finest pieces of literature the world has seen but it just didn’t resonate with me on any level. I had difficulty getting used to the writing style and I legit forced myself to read. It’s okay if its your favourite novel. No judgment. It didn’t appeal to me.

Blurb:

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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  • The Boy In The Striped Pajamas: I think its one of those rare books that stay in your mind long after you’ve read it. I knew it would be heart-breaking the minute I started reading it. The writing is simple and easy flowing. You’ll get it done in just one sitting. I was devastated towards the end and I don’t think I will ever recover from the heartache. Also, I plan on watching the movie in a day or two. Hoping it lives upto the book.

Blurb:

Berlin, 1942 : When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences

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  • The Color Purple: Alice Walker is one of the finest writers the world has ever seen. The book is set in rural Georgia and is a story of a woman named Celie who is abused and beaten when she was a child and raped by her father. It is her story of self-discovery and her triumphs and joys. It’s heartwarming to say the least. I highly recommend reading this book.

Blurb: 

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence

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  • An Ember in the Ashes: Where do I start with this one? I think it’s definitely one of my top favourite reads of all times. I am not even kidding. An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy novel written by former American Washington Post editor Saba Tahir. Fantasy novels have never been my go-to genre ever. BUT I am so happy I read this book. It’s the first book in the An Ember in the Ashes series. The second book A Torch Against the Night was released last year in August, 2016. And guess what? The book will be made into a movie and is in development at Paramount Pictures. Guys, we’re in for a treat. I ordered the sequel the day I got over with AEITA because I needed answers. Please read this book. (I’ll post the review of both the books when i’m done reading them).

  Blurb:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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  • Animal Farm: I guess most of you have read this masterpiece by George Orwell. It is an allegorical novella that was first published in England on 17th August, 1945. According to the author, the book is a reflection of the events leading to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Stanlisnist Era of Soviet Union. It was chosen as one of the 100 best English Language novels by the Time Magazine.

Blurb:

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

One night on an English farm, Major the boar recounts his vision of a utopia where his fellow creatures own the land along with the means of production and are no longer the slaves of humans.

Before long his dream comes true, and for a short while all animals really are equal. But the clever pigs educate themselves and soon learn how to extend their own power, inevitably at the expense of the rest of the community.

This well-loved tale is, of course, a satire on the Soviet Communist system that still remains a powerful warning despite the changes in world politics since “Animal Farm” was first published.

This production is based on Orwell’s own radio version which was first produced in 1947.

 

What did you read in the month of Feb? March looks like a productive month. I also hope I will be writing more. See you. 

Exam Tips: Last minute study hacks.

Last minute tips and tricks to ace exams.

It’s that time of the year again.

Last year I wrote a blog post on acing examinations which was not very specific but aimed solely on how to study. Today I am going to attempt to write and explain to you some of the last-minute exam tips and hacks I’ve learnt over the years and I’m still learning. Since most of you will be appearing for your University and Board examinations, I thought I’d help you ease off a little. And as I always say, do not let these marks define who you are.

  • LEARNING: Most of you might be at the revision stage right now (kudos to you, I have no idea how that feels) but I’m sure or I hope some of you still have to learn the subject material. So how do you do that when you’ve got revision to do?
  1.  You start by picking one topic a day and scheduling it with other topics you have to revise. Don’t learn every thing on the same day. If you’re short on time and studying one topic a day wont cut it then use what I call, “Divide and Conquer”. This means that you study a new topic in the morning and take up another new topic sometime in the evening/night. You revise your subject material in between the ‘learning’. This avoids cramming. Your brain needs time to process new information so be kind and revise instead of continuously hammering your brain to function.
  2. Before you start a chapter, go through the previous years question papers and see if the chapter is worth spending time on. Since time is paramount, you can’t waste it on a chapter that’s only going to amount to 2-3 marks. Don’t come at me, nerds, I know even 1 mark is extremely essential. But you’d rather lose 10 marks than 1, right? Prioritise what’s important. You’ll realize that you’ll be feeling less stressed and are able to study more. If you find some extra-time, go ahead and tackle the 2 mark chapter.
  3. DO NOT STUDY THE ENTIRE CHAPTER. When I gave my boards, I was of the opinion that I HAD to study everything. Every chapter has certain topics that are more important and always have a chance of being in the question paper. Focus more on them.  If you’re certain about a particular question, practice writing down the answers. You’ll be surpised how much time you save in the exam hall. Which brings me to my next point:
  4. Practice writing. I have always advocated using a pen and a paper while studying. Really, it works wonders. Keep making sub-points while you’re studying. Seeing answers written on paper have a higher chance of staying in your mind. I don’t know how it works but recalling answers become 10 times easier. Be creative, use diagrams, flowcharts, acronyms, anything that will help you retain information. You might feel you’re wasting time writing down answers but then when you sit down to revise, it’ll take you less time.(If you followed my advice of writing answers, you’ll already have a set of notes prepared. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? HA!
  5. Something I discovered this year was studying using Youtube. I gave my first year MA exams and was OBVIOUSLY behind schedule. Since I was required to read a lot of plays and novels and all that cool stuff, I realized watching videos on certain dramas helped. For instance, I read and watched, Dr.Faustus. I was not very sure of the context of the play and watching Youtube videos helped. Visual learners are in for a treat with this. I’m sure there are several videos on various subjects out there. Check out Salman Khan Academy, CrashCourses if you’re short on time and can’t find a quick fix.
  • ORGANIZE: I am still understanding what organization stands for. But I’ll try to break it down.
  1.     To-do-list: Make a list of the things you have to study for the day as soon as you wake up. This helps a lot. You kind of get an idea of where you stand and what you need to do. Also, ticking off things from the to-do-list is the single most best feeling in the world. Take it one day at a time. You have to try to stick to the list you’ve made if you want to avoid wasting time. BUT and there’s a big but, do not make a list that’s ambitious. I know you want to make the most of your day but always keep sometime for relaxation. Being well prepared is not directly proportional to 16 hours of studying. Even if you study for 4 hours with breaks in between, you’re doing fine.
  2. Test yourself. I think the best way to find out what you’ve learnt is to attempt question papers right after you finish a chapter. This works pretty well for me. You can dig up previous years’ question papers and see if you’ve understood the material. Again, this might not be the case for you. Maybe you’re better off answering questions after a revision. Great, do that.
  3. Study with a friend. I remember studying with my best friend for my 10th boards and during under-grad and we used to update each other on what we studied. Not only does it give you the encouragement you need, it also makes studying fun. And if you’re someone who is competitive, you’ll make sure you study way more than your friend does.
  4. Take regular breaks. Since you’re studying a few days before the exam, it might not be possible to take breaks often. What you can do is study for 2 hours and take a break for ten mins. No matter what you do, your brain needs time to process. Jumping on to different topics won’t help. I’d rather spend 10 mins watching cupcake videos then cram. (At least, I’ll learn something). I don’t think I need to say this but keep yourself hydrated at all times. Keep snacks and drinks at your disposal to avoid wasting time.
  5. If you’ve been trying really hard to study and are not able to focus at all, leave it for the time being. Just go for a walk or listen to music and come back to it. Forcing yourself is never going to work. If you find yourself still struggling, move on to the next chapter or a different subject. Tackle it again the next day or after a day or two. Sometimes you have to take a detour to find yourself home. *mic drop*
  • FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESS:  We all have THAT one subject that makes our insides curl and gives us nightmares. For me it was maths. I HATED IT. I no longer have to study numbers( Thank heavens for that) but I still get jittery when I think about it. Try to devote each day on such a topic. I know it’s hard but that’s the only way you’ll be able to score well. If it’s maths for you, then practice maths more than you would normally do. If it’s history or geography, study half a chapter or a full chapter everyday. The idea is to stay in touch with the subject so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming a day before the exam. If you score very well in all other subjects but don’t score well in one subject, your total goes down drastically. That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
  • STOP COMPARING:  I cannot stress how important it is to realize who you are and what your battles are. Your dreams are different from your friends. You’re not the same. Don’t get bogged down by what your friend is accomplishing or plans on doing. It’s easy to feel lost but losing yourself in the process sucks more. Just do your thing.

Please remember, these exams don’t carve out a future plan for you. Sure, it helps you get into a good college et cetera but they’re not everything. Don’t burden yourself with what others expect of you. Focus on what you want the most and never compromise on your mental state over something as trivial as exams. I say this from experience. Most of the things you’re worrying about won’t even matter in the future. Give your 100%. That’s all.

The above tips are very subjective. One formula does not work for everyone. I hope It was of some use to you. Do you have a study hack I could use? Let me know!

 

Author Interview: Kavita Kane

Meet the queen of Indian Mythology.

No other way to celebrate my 5Oth post on WordPress than to have the versatile author and senior Journalist, Kavita Kane talk to us about her love for mythology, what inspires her and a little something about her no one knows!

You can read the review of her latest book Lanka’s Princess here: Review: Lanka’s Princess

Get to know the author: 

A senior journalist with a career of over two decades, which includes working for Magna publication and DNA, she quit her job as Assistant Editor of Times of India to devote herself as a full time author. A self-styled aficionado of cinema and theatre and sufficiently armed with a post-graduate degree in English Literature and Mass Communication from the University of Pune, the only skill she knows, she candidly confesses, is writing.
Karna’s Wife her debut novel, (2013)was a bestseller. Her second novel – Sita’s Sister (2014) also deals with another enigmatic personality – Urmila, probably the most overlooked character in the Ramayan. Menaka’s Choice(2015) ,another best-seller, is about the famous apsara and her infamous liaison with Vishwamitra the man she was sent to destroy. Lanka’s Princess (2016) is her fourth book based on Ravan’s sister, Surpanakha, the Princess of Lanka who was also its destroyer…
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , Kavita currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband Prakash and two daughters Kimaya and Amiya with Chic the black cocker spaniel and Cotton the white, curious cat.

 

 

Interview:

  • Did your career as a journalist somehow inspire you to become an author? 
As a journalist I had written non fiction for more than two decades! I wanted to test my creative writing skills and gathering enough courage, ventured into writing a novel. That’s how my debut book Karna’s Wife came about. It was more about testing myself.
  • Did you always want to write on Indian Mythology? What has been your experience like as an author of Mythology?
Mythology as a subject greatly fascinated me while I was studying English literature when I came in contact with Greek, Norse and Celtic mythology besides the fact that I grew up on a staple diet of Amar Chitra Kathas! Another favourite subject was history so I guess somewhere down the line I unconsciously leaned towards mythology as a genre when I decided to write my first novel.
Mythology is a huge canvas where you can add colour without damaging the whole picture. It’s not about retelling ancient tales of God or simply about  good vs evil : mythology is a lesson in knowing about Man and his follies and fallacies. Holds true especially now.
I receive so many questions on my books and our mythology from readers aged 18  to 30 and I realise they want to know so much more. It’s a void they want filled by writers of mythology.
  • Tell us a little about your latest book, ‘Lanka’s Princess’.
As the title says it’s about Surpanakha, Ravan’s sister whom we rarely see as Lanka’s princess. She is that ugly woman whose nose got chopped off. Yet she is the one who started the war. She is the turning point in the plot and pushes  forward the second part of the narrative of the epic. Also, besides Ravan,  she is the antagonist of the latter part as was Manthara and Kaikeyi in the earlier section of the Ramayan.  Yet what do we know of her?
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  • Your books are always well-researched. So what’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
While researching,  I often find the way the stories in our epics and mythology are woven within another and this interweaving is truly amazing. It is like a maze and connecting the dots  is a challenge. For instance I just realised Shishupal and the Pandavas were maternal cousins! It keeps coming and I have to make a concerted effort to stop reading and researching and get down to some writing!
  • Of all the characters you have written about, which is your favourite and why?
Urmila! My first book was to be about her but not having enough research material on her, I started on Karna’s Wife instead. But Menaka was one of the more difficult characters to sketch, adding to her shades of grey yet not to make her dark and negative. She was a temptress, a consummate seductress who used her wiles to succeed, she was a mother who abandoned two daughters- certainly not the perfect woman, is she? Yet she fell in love with the man she was meant to destroy. She was the reason for the downfall and rise of the most powerful man. Must have been a remarkable woman and that’s how I portrayed her in my book Menaka’s Choice.
  • Describe your ideal writing space. 
Physically I don’t like to write on a desk. I find it confining. I just need a quiet room with lots of sunlight and greenery. Also I never write in the night. That’s when the ideas rush in!
  • What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Each time a reader gives his feedback, I am truly touched. The most humbling moment was when Karna’s Wife was compared favourably to the classic Mritunjay. Or the moment when I received a hand written letter by a 90 year old fan hand delivered by his grand son! It was incredibly heart warming.
  • A book that had a deep impact on you.
Most books do so in some way or the other and  it would be unfair to name one.
  • Million dollar question, are you working on another book?
Yes!
  • Lastly, tell us something about yourself no one knows. 
I hate chocolate!
I feel extremely honoured to have Kavita Kane on the blog and had a great time interviewing her.