Friday, September 20, 2019

#652 : More Unfairy Tales by TF Carthick : Review

Fairy tales were probably designed with an intention to develop positive thinking and inculcate the value of resilience of sorts in children. As adults, with education and real life challenges, these fairy tales probably make no sense. For example, the happily ever after would possibly look like such a big lie to someone who has lost their love.

The writer has narrated 5 fairy tales from a different perspective. From perspective of characters who weren't given prominence in the original tale. He turned characters who didn't matter into protagonists and twisted the endings to a realistic one of sorts.  In the writer's own words from the very first story's opening words, 

"Have you not wished someone wrote your story to be read by hundreds of people? I was lucky - someone did write it, and many have read it over the ages. Except that it was never really my story."

These words set the tone and the stage for the book perfectly, hinting at unusual perspectives and unpredictable narrations. The writer seems to have been blessed with a rich sense of imagination. Right from the character he picked to narrate to the endings and even with the title - unpredictable is the word! With simple, witty and poetic writing, the book was such a pleasure to read. Picking  a favorite story is hard, yet one story which stood out for me is Daughters and Lovers. I do not wish to give out spoilers by revealing the original fairy tale behind it. The original tale is close to my heart, while this re-telling is equally good. It is something I never did imagine happening. The writer has played the surprise element well with this story. 

The book seems to have a prequel. Hoping to read the prequel soon! 

Do buy this book and read it, it is worth every penny! 

(Carthick's Unfairy Tales Book 2)
T.F. Carthick


A knight rescues a damsel in distress. They marry, the whole kingdom rejoices, and everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

Or at least that's what Official sources say. But what tales do insiders tell? What secrets lie buried deep inside Davey Jones' Locker?

What, dear reader, about The Unfairy tales?

The stories the Knight-in-Shining-Armour and the Damsel-in-Distress have never wanted you to know. Tales which Fairyland had kept locked up in secret and thrown away the key. Until our rogue bard went back in time and ferreted out skeletons hidden within secret cupboards of desolate mansions.

Our fearless crusader of truth and justice brings to you the second volume of revelations from fairyland.

You will find five more unfairy tales hidden within the pages of this tiny tome, the sequel to Carthick's Unfairy Tales. Stories of elves out to decipher the ways of men and dwarves seeking to reclaim their own histories. Of spurned witches and lost wolves. These stories are going to change everything you have ever believed about fairyland and give you a peek underneath the gossamer threads of glamour and magic peddled by the Fae.
Read an excerpt

Grab your copy @ | | 

About the author

T F Carthick is a Bangalore-based writer and blogger who has been blogging since 2008. He is an avid reader of Children’s Fiction, Science-fiction and Fantasy. Enid Blyton, J K Rowling, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams are some of his favorite authors. His paranormal thriller ‘Bellary’ was one of the three stories in the book Sirens Spell Danger, published in 2013. Six of his stories have featured in multi-author anthologies and literary magazines. He has written over 50 short stories, many of which can be read for free on

He is an Engineer and MBA from India’s premier institutes IIT, Madras and IIM, Ahmedabad and currently works as an Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Consultant at one of the world’s leading Consulting Firms.

You can stalk him @

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Monday, September 16, 2019

#651 : The Worst Daughter Ever by Aarti V Raman : Review

Lasya 'LJ' Raghavan is the quintessential black sheep of the family. She is over-weight, stuck with a poor job and the so called love of her life ditched her for a receptionist. She is forced to meet up and live with her estranged family when her grandmother passes away whose last wish ensures that the entire family stay together under the same roof till her final rites are complete. What follows is a rather interesting physical fight and sweet romance with a smoking hot lawyer. 

LJ's family is typically the big fat South Indian family with the typical drama that goes with being a part of such a family. Crazy cousins, crazier aunts, mad rituals - the general setting of the story is as realistic as it can ever be. Narrated purely from LJ's perspective, the story is all about the internal conflicts of a once glorious writer, a failed playwright ridden with mounting debt. With a perfect plot and on point characterization, the book was a warm and witty read.  I particularly liked Ahalya's character. It was so emotionally realistic that at one  point I sincerely began to wonder if it were written based on a real life character. One very interesting aspect of the story is the portrayal of the relationship each character shares with the other. In reality, while few of us have fond memories of spending fun time with our cousins when young, when we group up, the whole dynamics changes. Throw in a precarious circumstance like infidelity, the equation goes off. The writer has explored and exploited this line of thought to the full. 

The book turned out to be one warm, fuzzy and perfect coming of age tale. 

Please do buy the book here

About the Author

Aarti V Raman aka #WriterGal is the author of over ten novels, most of which have hit the Amazon India and US bestseller lists in various categories. These novels include the indie-published contemporary romance ‘Geeks of Caltech’ series, the action romance ‘Royals of Stellang√•rd’ trilogy as well as standalone romances Kingdom Come, More Than You Want and The Perfect Fake. Aarti has also traditionally published novels with prestigious houses, namely White Knight, Kingdom Come and With You I Dance in the mid-2010s. The Worst Daughter Ever is her first attempt at desi chicklit. Appearing as a panellist at various lit fests across India since 2014 and as a motivational speaker during college fests, she also conducts writing workshops and dabbles in poetry in her spare time. Before turning to writing romances full-time as a successful indie-published author, Mumbai-based Aarti spent over a decade being a commercial editor and business journalist for prominent media houses in India and Southeast Asia. To learn more about Aarti’s writing journey, follow her on Instagram and Facebook (as aartivraman) where she eagerly interacts with avid reader-friends.

Go check out my Insta Profile to win a copy of this book!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

#650 : The Subtle Art of Not Giving A (add your choice of expletives or whatever!)

A post by a fellow Chennai blogger triggered this post - Do read it here

As an adult in the late twenties living in a "so" called developing nation, the trials and tribulations of life, the economy et all, seem to driving me against the wall. Overworked mostly and under-payed largely, life has turned into a rat race. With all markers of a recession in place and a general doomsday (the Amazon is burning, the Arctic is melting) in the loom, being in a cocoon with a false sense of security is hard, but not impossible.  The false sense of security leads to general inaction which implies the continuation of a lot of wrong or bad practises. 

While the world is slowly waking up to all the problems the "bad" practices has resulted in, it feels like it might be just a bit late to rectify it. Consider the big bad plastic problem. Since the government in my state banned the use of single-use plastics, I wondered how our ancestors survived without it. My grandparents used steel containers to store grains. Their grandparents used clay containers to store grains. Today, I cannot imagine using steel or clay for a very simple reason. They require maintenance. Storing grains in a non-air tight container for a considerable time (work out the math, food for two people with some dietary restrictions due to allergy doesn't consume much raw materials) attracts insects. The city I live in is humid. Imagine the breeding rate. So one has to periodically check and keep it clean. This takes up extra energy and effort. It is eventually a "choice" one will not make. Voila! yet another bad practise into the routine. Will we ever get rid of plastics?

Pondering upon these things will eventually lead to a sense of desperation and guilt if one is blessed with such a temperament. Imagine a whole lot of group of people with similar thought process and predicament. Sadly, with the advent of social media, people (me included) have become "talkers" and not "doers". Every other day, there is a video of eco-friendly practises shared by enthusiastic individuals who insist on following them to gain knowledge, but in reality, do we know if they are keeping up their words? This is applicable to every one who claims to spread positiveness of any form. 

Doesn't all this reek of negativity to you? How does one actually become positive? or may be even content? 


Sunday, August 18, 2019

#649 : Classic Cuisine and Celebrations of the Thanjavur Maharashtrains by Jaishri P Rao : A Review

Food is an integral part of life. There are people who live to eat and then there are the others who eat to live. I belong to the former category. Cooking, I realised since I started having my own kitchen, is an art. A pinch of that, a dash of this, a cup of that - all of it just works in putting up an edible dish. To bring out a tasty dish which would fill the soul of the eater is a herculean task. For novice experimenters like me, cookbooks and videos on Youtube are saviors. Gooblegram, Tasty, Hebbar's Kitchen, all help, but they can't possibly replace a written material. I'm sure that many would disagree with me, but let me elaborate. 

With the advent of Internet, Youtube and such channels, a recipe is just "Google" away. Voila! you have plenty of how to videos with step by step instructions to cook up a storm. However, imagine few years down the line. You've perfected the art of say, making a Payasam (Sweet porridge) with the help of these videos and some learning of your own from repeated experiments, how would you record it? how would you pass it on to the next generation? I do agree that these videos are forever since they are digital, but would they contain memories of all your experiments? Of course not. Think of it as our school text books. On a cheeky note, would Harry have become Slughorn's favourite if not for the Snape's portion book? (Pardon me, I cannot just not use a Harry Potter reference here!) You get the drift. 

This is one such gem of a book. Organised based on the festivals celebrated by the a particular community - The Thanjavur Mahararashtrains - the book is a celebration of Indian cooking. It has tested and perfected recipes which work like magic if you follow it to dot. I can personally vouch for that, having tried out a handful of ones from them. The book is also organised according to the traditional Indian calendar (Maharastrian particularly). This is one truly unique aspect of the book since other cook books commonly are organised  only alphabetically. With rich pictures of the food and other customs they follow, the book is a true celebration of soulful Indian food. It is evident that the author has put in a lot of thought and meticulously researched about various customs and presented a work which would aptly serve as a primer for that particular community for generations to come. Every photo, every recipe reeks of her passion of Indian cooking and customs. In spite of being oriented to a particular community, other than a few specific recipes, the rest are fairly common to most of South Indian state's food palette. The book will most certainly be a good place to start for people  who have very basic knowledge of cooking. 

It took me months to get around to reviewing this book, since it is truly one of a kind. I do not say this because the copy was gifted to me, some books just stay with you forever for what they are and this is of that kind.

Do buy the your copy from Amazon here (or PM for it)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

#648 : The Antagonists by Tina Biswas : Review

Political stories are something which I don't pick up often. Living in a "developing country" filled with an average political system and below average politicians, a fictional account of politics often pales in comparison with what happens in reality. This story turned out to be a bare, blunt and raw take on the political system in place. The dynamic yet dark side of the system consisting of people who believe in sticking to their principles which hinder growth, or worse, promote oppression has been portrayed vividly.

The protagonist (or should I say antagonist,) the chief minister of the Bengal state, Devi, is hell bent on ensuring that the coal mining project in Balachuria is not executed since it is handled by the "Marwari" Lohia group. In another thread, Anima Acharya, a neurosurgeon who returns back from the UK discover that her husband is cheating on her. Unable to handle it, she goes back to her ancestral town of Balachuria where she spent her childhood. 

With rich literary narration and an engaging style of writing, the book turned out to be a complete page turner. Having raised by a father who is a lobbyist, I could associate so much with the thread of the plot where one set of people were lobbying to get the coal project done, while the other set, namely Devi's side was lobbying to ensure it does not happen. 

The book turned out to be a pleasant surprise in terms of plot and characters. 

One engaging read!

Thanks to Fingerprint! for a review copy.  

Sunday, June 30, 2019

#647 : Eternally Artemesia by Melissa Muldoon - Review

Having read this writer's previous book, I was utterly confident that this story would end up increasing my desire to visit Italy and soak in it's culture. The writing and the story ended up exceeding my expectations. 

The story goes back and forth between two different yet very similar strong woman across different timelines with a beautiful converging point. Maddie, an art therapist is drawn to Italy by the art and culture the country has to offer, while Artemesia was a bold 16th century painter who was brutally raped and faced trial and was finally made an outcast for standing up for her rights. While Maddie has an inkling that she has lived a previous life, the proof to it just seems too far to reach until she moves to Italy to meets Camilla, an descender of the noble Crociani family who is a part the sexual assault and abuse survivor group who is counselled by Maddie. Camilla invites her to a family gather and "the past" of which she has an inkling blends with her present. 

The writing and the story was such an absolute delight to read. The writer has beautifully woven an intricate tale with multiple tones which perfectly captures the strength and determination of women who thrive brilliantly in testing times. Sadly, the book has been very aptly titled as "Eternally Artemesia" for all the trials that she faced, the rape, the abuse, the gross injustice, seems to be meted out to women of today's times as well. It literally feels like an "eternity" of  problems for women. 

With a perfect blend of history, art, romance and a bit of gore, the book was an absolute delight to read. 

Thanks to Laura of Italy book tours for picking such a book yet again! 

Meet the Author:  

Melissa Muldoon is the author of three novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia,” “Waking Isabella,” and “Eternally Artemisia.” All three books tell the stories of American women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future in Italy.

Melissa is also the author of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English ( Studentessa Matta means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include a podcast, Tutti Matti per l'Italiano and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy. Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all three of her books. Melissa is also the managing director of Matta Press. As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again, but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event. Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency—a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways. Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Eternally Artemisia, Waking Isabella, and Dreaming Sophia.

She also curates the Dreaming Sophia Art History blog site and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy, where you will find companion pictures for all three books. Visit for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Pinterest  ~ Instagram