Saturday, March 23, 2019

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Sudesna Ghosh



Sudesna Ghosh is a versatile writer who writes novellas, short stories and children's stories. She also writes non fiction. In fact her first two books are non fiction.

Interestingly, we got in touch on Twitter because of her first book 'What Would I Tell Her @ 13 {published by Harper Collins India}, as I needed some inputs for my article and she was so kind to share her insights.



Then I read her short story 'It Started With A Cup Of Coffee' and I can say that it was one of the best short stories I read in 2018. It's a sweet story, engaging and very well crafted. 

Recently, I read her latest novella 'My Small, Thin Indian Wedding'. As the name suggests, it's about a wedding ---Reema's wedding. Reema, unlike many other girls, wants a simple, quiet wedding but obviously it cannot be everyone's favourite idea. So, it's not going to be easy.

My Small, Thin Indian Wedding is a modern take on love and relationship. The theme of the story is nice. I liked the well placed humour and wit. Also, it conveys some thoughtful messages. 

Today, I am in conversation with the author!



Welcome to my blog, Sudesna. My first question is somehow common but important. Why do you write? Do you believe that writing has changed you as a person?

Thank you, Tarang. I’m an introvert and bookworm who grew up with her nose in a book. I also wrote little short stories since my school days, so I guess I always loved being immersed in the world of books.

As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, writing has given me a vast space to let out my thoughts and feelings. In fact, I become deeply connected to my characters and find happiness in another world. 

And when I write nonfiction, I find myself becoming more and more articulate about matters that are important to me including mental health and writing. Writing has made me a better thinker. Writing gives me company.



What's your take on writer's block? How do you deal with it?

I believe writer’s block exists. It’s terrible when your mind is bombarded with ideas and you can visualise it all but your fingers just won’t move. I usually take long walks and allow myself a break from writing and go on a reading spree instead. Reading good books always acts as inspiration and then the motivation to get back to my own manuscript.

You prefer writing short pieces ---short stories or novella. What do you like about writing short stories?

Some authors have told me that they think novellas aren’t books. Also, most publishers ask for a certain big word count to make printing costs worthwhile. I find many novels too long as if the author has lost a sense of plot and is just going on and on for the sake of increasing page count. If it gets too boring, I can’t finish it. So yes, I can’t write just for the sake of filling pages.

Secondly, there are a group of readers who like reading short works that they can finish in one sitting. 

I love writing short stories and novellas because even when I speak, I like to be to the point and not waste words when not needed :)

You are an avid reader. What kinds of books you like reading. What's the best book you have read in recent times?

Yes, I love reading. I read both paperbacks and e-books on my Kindle these days. My favourite genre is women’s fiction, followed by sweet romance. It’s hard to name one favourite so I’ll name two I enjoyed recently - The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft, Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas.

Adding these to my TBR list! 

What would be your advice to new/aspiring writers?

Read a lot and write a lot. Write from the heart and you’ll find readers who can connect with you, no matter how small that number of readers is.

Well said!



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Review: The Reason Is You by Nikita Singh




Name Of The Book
The Reason Is You
Author
Publisher
Genre
Romance
Number Of Pages
 229
 Price


I remember I had read Nikita Singh's first book some 7 years ago, and I was really impressed for she was probably the youngest published author. After that, I didn't read any of her books except one which was co-authored by Durjoy Datta. So technically, it's my second book by the author. Impressively, she has written some 13-14 books, but considering this very fact this book, to be very frank, disappointed me.

The Reason Is You is a love triangle. Later, I realized that it's the sequel to one of Nikita's book. However, it seems like a standalone book. 

Siddhant, a doctor, is dating Akriti {Also a doctor}. During their very first date, Akriti gets a terrible news that shatters her life. Siddhant tries to console her. Even visits her home to comfort her and never leaves her side. But, Akriti slips into depression and suddenly gets cranky, rude and unreasonable. 

And one fine day, when Siddhant and Akriti are officially a couple, Maahi enters their life ---Maahi, Siddhant's ex-girlfriend.

So what happens now? Is it going to affect their relationship? How is Akriti {Who is already battling depression} going to handle this? And what about Siddhant's feelings? You'll have to read this book to know the answer.

OK, I have already said that I was disappointed. Let me tell you why:

My biggest problem is storytelling. It's dull and somehow lazy. It seems that Nikita 'had to' write the book and she did. 

As I said it's a love triangle. I liked the Siddhant and Maahi angle, especially their text exchanges {I have this thing for texts or emails. I always like it in a story}. I liked the ease in their relationship even though they were not in a relationship anymore. This actually made me curious about the first part of the story. 

The female leads: I liked Maahi's character but Akriti's character was painfully annoying. I'm not sure if depression means being constantly rude, unreasonable, cranky and judgemental, while you're quite open to meeting friends, going out for lunch/dinner and partying. I am not an expert but I thought it was not a very thoughtful portrayal of depression/mental health.

The ending is satisfying though.

Overall, for me, it was an average read. If you like light reads, if romance is your most preferred genre {unconditionally}, then you can try this book. 


I received this book from Writersmelon {if you are a book lover or writer, you must follow this website} for an honest review.







Sunday, March 10, 2019

Book Review: Draupadi ---the tale of an empress by Saiswaroopa Iyer,




I've loved watching or listening to mythological tales since my childhood, but my interest in reading mythological fiction is rather new.

When it comes to mythology, I feel Mahabharata is very advanced, way ahead of its time. And, Draupadi one the strongest mythological characters. So, when I got the opportunity to review Draupadi by Saiswaroopa Iyer {Rupa Publications}, there was no reason to even think twice.

Draupadi by Saiswaroopa Iyer is a well researched, imaginative portrayal of Mahabharat from Uttara's point of view. Uttara tells the tale of Draupadi, the empress when Janamejaya {Uttara's grandson and Arjun's great grandson} wonders why some people judge and blame Draupadi for the Mahabharat War.

While reading the book, I actually forgot that it's Uttara who was telling the story. It was an engrossing read, yes! But when I finished the book I couldn't help wondering  how Uttara knew so much about Draupadi ---her childhood, her intimate moments with her husbands etc. It was actually Draupadi's PoV.

Anyway, I'd take it as creative liberty.

The story is imaginative, as I said earlier. And this is the strong point of any mythological fiction, for we already know the basic story.

Certain things are beautifully expressed, like I loved Draupadi's first meeting with Krishna. Their friendship, their conversation, the way they understand each other.

'Too brave for an intruder, aren't you?' Draupadi said.

'Or too sure that a friend will not be harmed for trying to meet one, where someone like you are in charge, Krishnaa.'

I loved the conversations with her son when she was leaving for the exile. I really liked the way her relationship with her husbands has been portrayed, especially with Bhima. And the moment when she meets Arjun ---the man who was supposed to be her only husband ---for the first time as his wife.

And I am glad the author has dedicated a chapter to Nakul and Draupadi. I liked it.

However, there are certain things that bothered me ----in my very personal opinion.

The author has avoided the unnecessary details, which was OK but I felt that sometimes the writing was 'to the point'. I missed the descriptions of settings and appearances that create vivid imagery.

And, I was looking forward to the Bhishm and Shikhandi encounter, but that ended quickly as a brief summary.

Also, when I read a book ---any genre ---I look for beautiful quotes {I often share them} but I missed that in this book. There are thoughtful dialogues, yes, but I didn't find any memorable ones. But, I am sharing the one I really liked.

'It takes a warrior to fight till the end. But it takes a true leader to convince people for a new beginning.'

Overall, it was a good, engrossing read. If you enjoy mythological fiction, you must read this one.


I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.




Monday, March 4, 2019

Book Review: The Adventures Of Biplob The Bumblebee by Abhishek Talwar






Name Of The Book
The Adventures Of Biplob The Bumblebee
Author
Abhishek Talwar
Illustrator
Sonal Goyal
Genre
Children’s Book {6+ years}
Publisher
Puffin Books
No. Of Pages
32
Price


Reading children's book is fun. Even more enjoyable when you buddy read with your kid. Isn't it? The new children's book on my bookshelf is about Biplob ---a bumblebee, its adventures in garden with its friends: Various flowers and Balram ---the farmer.

Biplob is kind, helpful, very innovative and everyone's favourite{Obviously}! The story is educative and insightful. Also, children can learn moral values through this story. 

What does this story teach?

We Should Help Others.
We Shouldn't Judge Others Without Knowing The Whole Truth
It's Great To Come Up With Interesting/Smart Ideas. So Think, Think. Think!
Plus Some General Knowledge About Plants and Other Things.

Interestingly, the story is not preachy. It's entertaining and joyful. 

Children's books are more interesting if they have beautiful and meaningful pictures, for pictures make children more attentive and interested. This book doesn't disappoint on this ground. The book is full of bright and beautiful illustrations. Not just beautiful, but the illustrations make it easier to understand certain things.



Overall, a lovely read!

I received this book from the publisher for an honest review






Saturday, February 23, 2019

Watercolor Painting: Sunshine and shadows

I have not painted anything in the last 4-5 days {for some unavoidable reason} except one that turned out bad. It happens when I am not totally engrossed. There's no quick painting for me. And I know there would be an obvious and expected hesitation in my brush strokes when I will sit down to paint. :)

I am a beginner and a self taught watercolourist. So I struggle to paint so many things at this stage including sunshine and shadows. I try to practice whenever I find any such reference photos. Sharing what I tried recently.



Reference Photo: Pinterest

How do you like it? Do you think I managed well? The sunshine and the shadows?

Also, I tried a skyscape, which I like ---the sky especially. It was inspired by Peter Sheeler's YouTube tutorial painting.


Also, I wanted to ask you something ---have you ever painted plein air? I find it very fascinating. Want to do it but I rarely go out or travel. How was your experience of painting plein air?


Sharing with Paint Party Friday



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Couple Outside The Door


Photo by Mat Reding from Unsplash.com


What time is it? I can't figure out. Day or it's dark already? It doesn't look very bright. I faintly remember there was a party on the terrace of our building. I don't remember what I did there. I don't even like going to parties. But, if I remember about the party, it means I was there.

And who is this woman inside my house? Standing in front of me. I do not recognize her but it seems that she wants to say something. Right then, a sharp conversation attracts our attention. She turns to look at my main door and I am still wondering who she is.

Two people are talking right outside my door. A boy and a girl. Soon, the conversation turns into argument. Heated argument. I cannot comprehend what they are saying but it sounds like they are in a relationship, and the girl is demanding an explanation and the boy is unable to explain.

Now, they have started shouting. It really irritates me and I want to go and tell them to stop fighting, but it's their personal matter, you see. So, I'll just go and tell them to fight somewhere else. Right then, I hear a deafening sound, like someone has hit something with a heavy object. Again, again and again. The sound seems to be traveling to me, hitting my ears with painful ringing.

The door is slightly ajar and I look through the closed grill door. The boy is hitting the girl. The image is blurry but I, somehow, know he is hitting her. Suddenly, I wonder if the grill door is closed properly. I wonder if the boy has seen me. That I am the witness to his heinous act. A sense of fear grips me. I am about to approach the door when my eyes meet a pair of bloodshot eyes. The boy spots me looking at him. I feel like my shuddering heart has wedged itself in my throat.

The next thing I see that the boy, I do not recognize, is inside my house, his hands smeared with thick blood!

My eyes fly open, my heart still thundering.

Yes, you got it right! This was my dream two days ago. Considering the events I dream about these days, I should be writing crime thrillers. I will, someday. Hopefully. I have noted all my dream ideas, kind of a dream journal. Also, the unknown people I see in my dreams. Sigh!

Do you remember your dreams? Do you see unknown people in your dreams? Have you ever written any story that is inspired by your dreams? Please share, if yes. I'd love to read. I have written a story titled 'Not Without You' {that's inspired by one of my weird dreams}, published on Juggernaut reading app. Click the link, in case you want to read. It's short and free. :)


Friday, February 8, 2019

Watercolor Paintings: Different Landscapes


Hello,

Watercolour painting seems like an addiction. I painted almost daily in the last two-three weeks. Can't share all the paintings {some of them are bad}, so sharing what I like. Hope you like them too.




Reference Photo: Pinterest






This snowy and waterfall landscapes are inspired by Ekaterina Smirnova's YouTube painting tutorial. She is a great teacher. I was satisfied with the first one, but I was not really happy with the second one. Initially, it didn't look like a waterfall. So, I put it on the table and watched it. Slowly, it began to look like a waterfall. What do you think?

One of most important things that I have learned as a watercolourist is that we should not expect our paintings to look good while we are still painting or immediately after that. They look better after some time. Let it rest for some time before you judge.


And finally this one! I painted this on 26th January, our Republic Day. Honestly, I didn't plan the colours. I just started painting and then noticed that my colours represent the colours of  our National Flag! How lovely!


Sharing with Paint Party Friday





Wednesday, January 23, 2019

5 Much Loved Books I Did Not Finish {in 2018}




Last year, I wrote about the Best Books I Read in 2017. I was hoping to write another 'best books' post but last year, as a reader, was not very good even though I read some 46-47 books. I read some good books {Wrote about it actually. You can read my guest post 'Top 5 Reads By Women Authors' on Shalini's blog}, but there are so many well-loved books I could not finish, and it bothered me.

I really enjoy reading reviews, on goodreads especially. I read several reviews before buying a book. I used to believe that it was a wise thing to do, however this year's reading experience changed that perception. I have decided that I won't trust the reviews, entirely, from now on. Of course, I'll read them, but I'm going to follow and trust the blurb and sample chapters. 

OK, now about the books that I could not finish ---and trust me, I tried really hard even though I am an impatient reader {I tend to close the books unfinished if they don't grip me by 50-60 pages}. They left me utterly disappointed.

A Man Called Ove

Everyone was talking about this book on Twitter ---warm, funny, adorable, lovely, best book were the words describing the book. As usual, I visited goodreads, checked the {mostly positive} reviews and bought the book. As I started reading the book, I thought readers were right, but after some 3-4 chapters, it started to bore me. I found it slow, repetitive and boring. Plus, the old man who seemed adorable and realistic in the first few chapters, turned out annoying and insensitive.

I really wanted to like it ---so much that I read 119-120 pages---but eventually left it unfinished.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Honestly, I just google searched 'potato peel society', found this book and copy-pasted the title. I mean what's the point if can't even remember and pronounce the title of a book?

It is a book that got 99.9% positive reviews. All my reader friends loved it. It is, supposedly, a love story and an epistolary novel {novels written in letters format}. I bought it and started reading. I was almost sure I'd like this book but I found it boring and confusing. 

Not that it was my first epistolary novel. I have read two epistolary novels ---Love Virtually and Every Seventh Wave, the sequel ---absolute favourites! But Love Virtually is about two people who accidentally get in touch through emails, whereas in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, too many people are writing, too many letters to too many people. I couldn't keep the track who is who! Mainly because they all sound the same. Plus, nobody was saying interesting things. No wit, no humour, no warmth in the letters. 

Thankfully, I watched the movie recently, which I liked. Mainly because of the hero and the mesmerizing locations. Now that I have watched the movie, I have no intention of finishing the book, and I wondered what was the purpose of writing this book as epistolary novel? Why? Just because it's a different format?

Calling Sehmat

These days, I feel slightly inclined to read crime novels, and Calling Sehmat came with fabulous reviews. The subject is intriguing, especially because it is based on a true story about a female spy!

I bought the book, started reading and gave up after 77 pages. 'I'd rather watch the movie.' I decided. It was a good decision, as I really liked Raazi.

Calling Sehmat is a powerful story, but the way it has been told makes it unexciting {for me, of course}. The 'storytelling' is important. This book badly lacks the 'what next?' factor.

To Kill A Mockingbird

OK, don't roll your eyes, please. I feel really bad mentioning this book here. I felt a little ashamed that I hadn't read this book. It seemed that I was the only one, that's why I bought it.

At first, the book seemed like a pirated copy. The font was too small, pages rough. I even sent a couple of pictures to my friend to confirm. 'It seems original,' she said.

Honestly, I was too impatient to leave this book unfinished. Just 35 pages and I got bored. I wondered if it was a children's book. I may try reading this one, some day.


The Rosie Project

I was actually enjoying it. I even shared a quote on Twitter. I liked Don Tillman and Rosie but then {after some 100 pages or so}, it got really slow and started to bore me. The situations were somehow dull. Maybe, I can try reading this one again.


Special Mention:

Wuthering Heights ---the way readers talk about this book ---a love story, and Heathcliff, I still feel it should have been my kind of read, but NO. I tried to read it a few years ago but couldn't read beyond 3-4 chapters. I tried again last year, but No. I didn't know what was going on! I won't pick it up again.



That's all from my side. Is there any popular book that you did not like?




Friday, January 18, 2019

Watercolour Painting: Trying Different Things

I am a beginner --a self-taught watercolourist. I'm trying to practice and learn different things, however I always fear that I'll ruin my painting if I try to experiment. If you are a beginner, in any field, you can relate ---we want good results always, right?

This year, I decided to fight my fear of going wrong. Ruined 4-5 paintings, yes. But learned and managed okayish paintings.


I am not confident enough to paint on big sized paper. I usually paint on A5 size and even A4 seems big to me. But, I tried this painting on A4 size paper. I think I managed OK.

Also, I am trying to paint sunlight, shadows, figures and reflections. And salt technique. Here are some paintings I tried.



Do you like them? Do they look like sunshine and reflections? Are you trying something different? Do you have any suggestions? Please share.

Sharing with Paint Party Friday