Tuesday, January 7, 2020

#654 : The Lady in the Mirror by Charu Vashishtha : Review

The book is a collection of eight short stories involving various facets and traits of life - Jealousy, honesty, revenge. The characters are majorly women and they seem very realistic, it is fairly evident that some traits of the characters and aspects of the story have probably been modeled after characters the writer is directly acquainted with. The stories cover a plethora of “daily” subject ranging from god to effect of miscommunication.

Written in simple language, the stories were a simple joy to read. The narration, the characterization, the plotting were bare minimal reflecting much on traits as important as self-love. While the book may be an effective light night time read, it lacks the punch that a short story ought to deliver. There is no evident flaw with the way the stories are written, but then there is a feel of something that is missing that could have made it more effective. There are times when a reader wishes the story had that little unexplainable something extra, for me, this book was that case. In a way, the stories felt like a children’s moral tale only that it wasn’t really so.

It is quite a herculean task to bring a central theme in collection of short stories which look diverse at the outset. However, this writer has brought in a theme very subtly which the reader would probably realize upon completing the whole book and contemplating about it. The theme is not evident on the surface but could be related to upon pondering over the stories.

A good one time read.


Monday, September 23, 2019

#653 : #MyFitnessDairy - Being Grateful

Growing up, I wasn't the fittest kid on the block, since I was more in to books than physical activity. Transitioning into adult meant that habit just carried over. Initial days of my career warranted enough physical activity to ensure I was fit - running around boilers, climbing scaffolding to check things, walking around half finished structures - all of it kept me fit.  Of course, my mental health stared to deteriorate thanks to work pressure and time away from home. Settling into a comfortable job with no such heavy physical activity made me complacent. Add lost friendships, social pressure, marriage, hormonal changes,travel at work, and general stress to the mix, my health went for a toss. I gained lot of weight and started becoming irritated and felt like a failure. Before even I realized, my mental and physical health was absolutely at it's worst. There were days when activities which earlier used to give me pleasure - reading and writing - began feeling like a hard chore. Phrasing a grammatically correct sentence felt like a mammoth of a task. That's when I decided it was high time I did something to change this. I'm grateful for having people in my life who pushed me to change things in their small own way. 

I changed one thing at a time and my life has become far better. Keep watching this space for detailed account of what I did. 

However, today's post is related to mental well being - Of being grateful. 

On the journey for better health, I realized mental well being is far more important that any thing. Today, I'm grateful for a lot of things.  I think I can state with confidence that I'm at a better mental space today. Here are 3 things I'm grateful for,

1. I'm grateful for having had a loving childhood and great parents - No parent can be inherently "bad". Only circumstances change them. After all, they are humans too. Immaterial of how tough our life got, my parents were loving and I'm grateful for that, since it played a large role in the development of my mental framework

2. I'm grateful for having rock sturdy sounding boards - I have been blessed with two best friends - one of which I'm married to and other, who is my soul sister. I'm eternally grateful for them to have had my back in the journey to being a better person.  My husband can't have been possibly more patient!

3. I'm grateful for having a phenomenal spiritual mentor - This great person, without him, the journey to a better mental state wouldn't have just been. "Hope" is a word I had forgotten the meaning of. He made me remember it again and he does this for a lot of people on a daily basis without expecting much in return. If only 10% of his qualities have rubbed off me, I can safely state that I have lived life as a good human being.  Blessed to have met him. And yeah, he really didn't need to do what he does to people - touching their lives - but he still does - that's why I'm eternally grateful for having him in mine. 

These are three things which matter the most in my life and I'm grateful for them!.

More on well being soon. 


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 @

Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk 

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 www.karthikl.com.

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)