Friday, October 4, 2019

Book Review: Nobody's Child by Kanchana Banerjee

Name of The Book
Nobody’ Child
Name of the Author
Crime Fiction
Name Of The Publisher
Harper Collins India
No. Of Pages
Price {Paperback}

'She's lost everything ...and when one has nothing more to lose, that's when they become fearless and unstoppable.'

___From the book

Nobody's Child is Kanchana Banerjee's second book, totally different from her first book {A Forgotten Affair}. It's a crime fiction with lots of secrets, drama, lies, deceit and action ___a complete package, you can say. And I really appreciate the author for creating such a dramatic crime story and such vile and wicked characters and situations. There were certain moments when I was like 'Ewww...', which is a good thing, I guess.

A young woman is found, on the streets, in a sad, wounded condition. She claims to be Asavri Bhattacharya ___an immensely talented singer with a sad past who had won Indian Koel, a singing reality show two years ago.

But how is that possible?

Asavri died in an accident just after winning the show. Is she really Asavri? Where was she? What happened to her? You need to read the book to know the answers.

I like Kanchana Banerjee's writing style ___it's engaging. The writing is neat and the story seems well researched, as she has portrayed the drama of reality show {and media, sadly} well. The characters seem like you've seen them on the television. That's why I feel that this book could be a good screen adaptation.

The cover of Nobody's Child is very striking and apt. The story has been told from the four significant points of view. Avneil ___a small time film journalist turned best-selling author. Kamini Pratap Singh ___a nobody turned powerful politician and mother of Tanya, the first runner up of Indian Koel. And Monty ___Asavri's love interest. He's an important character but I didn't get why his PoV was needed. Also, I didn't feel anything for this character.

Now, the story is told in first person narrative, and for me, that was the biggest problem. No, I really like stories told in first person, but telling this story in first person, from multiple points of view affects the element of suspense/mystery{and eventually the joy of reading a crime suspense fiction} in a negative way. The characters are telling everything about themselves ___what they did, what they didn't. What they know, what they don't. No revelation shocked/surprised me because the first person narration gives a fair idea of everything.

Also, there are certain things {that I would not like to mention} I found implausible. Maybe they are small things and you might not give them too much attention, however I couldn't help noticing.

I liked the way the story ends. Just like A Forgotten Affair, Kanchana's debut book, the ending of this book is satisfying.

'Don't fight the bad memories. Allow them to come and go. The more you resist, the more they will persist.'

If you're looking for a masala entertainer, if you enjoy reading crime fiction {with wicked characters}, go for it.

I received this book from Writersmelon for an unbiased review.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Forty Days

Photo by Paul Dufour {From}

Thankfully, I remember the name of the society he mentioned once. Just he didn’t mention that it’s very near to my house. It's a posh society. Suddenly, the image of my tiny flat flashes in my mind. I shake off the image, as the security guard asks for the details. 

I feel jittery, as the lift ascends. It's the first time I am visiting him. We are going to meet after forty days. I couldn't stop thinking about him in the last forty days. Strange and annoyingly sweet how sometimes you don't get tired of thinking of a single person.

Maybe, it’s my fault. He was just being kind to me. Too kind, actually. I was unwell and he came to check on me, as if he got a message. The way he cared, oh it still moves me. Everything seemed too good to be true. And then I said something odd that hurt him, perhaps. I was just being practical, you see.

I thought our relationship, if I can call it a relationship, was unique. We understand. We don't judge. We have another level of connection, but he disconnected himself, just like that. He responds to my messages though, sometimes. Like when I said I was sorry, he responded with a 'never mind.' and when I congratulated him on his new project, he messaged a thank you. This is not the way we communicate even though he is not talkative or expressive. 

The lift door opens at the 14th floor and my heart starts running. I press the doorbell and wait with bated breath. How would he react?

He opens the door, looking disheveled and sick. He stares at me blankly.

'Don't recognize me? Should I leave?' I say.

He runs his finger through his longish curly hair and steps aside.

'Are you unwell?' I ask, closing the door.

'Fever,' he says, his voice hoarse. 

‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ My palm, involuntarily, reach for his forehead. He closes his eyes, making me conscious of our closeness. I remove my hand.

'I’m okay,’ he says, as we walk towards the large living room.

'Have you taken the medicines or seen the doctor?' 

'Yes,’ he says without looking at me and flops down on a couch. ‘You didn’t need to bother.’ He looks at me finally, his expression unfathomable. ‘I can manage myself. And I have so many people in my life to take care of me.'

It hits hard. I force a smile. 'I'm sure you have.'

An uncomfortable silence is hanging between us and I stand like an unwanted guest.


'Ah no, I should be going now,' I say, expecting him to say, 'Stay.' but he says, 'As you wish.' And it feels like a slap.

'Please take care.'

He mumbles something I can’t comprehend.

'Sorry to bother you,' I say and rush out of his flat. A hard lump has wedged itself into my throat. No, I'm not going to cry.

I close the door of my flat and weep. There was something between us, I have always felt. Something unsaid. Our camaraderie and conversation flash in my mind like a film. I'm still standing near the door when the doorbell buzzes.

Who's that? I run towards the bathroom and splash some water on my face. The doorbell buzzes again as I approach the door. I open it and freeze. It's him!

Just the way I left him a few minutes ago. I open the door. ‘You could’ve called me. You’re not well.’

He simply enters the room and reposes on the bed, breathing hard.

'I'm sorry for my idiotic behaviour,' he says after a moment, his eyes closed.

'No, that's okay.'

His eyes fly open, and he straightens himself. 'It's okay?' His gaze is so intense, almost smoldering, that it makes me uncomfortable. 'We are not talking to each other. We are not meeting. I'm not responding to your messages. I behave like a shit and it's okay for you?' 

I open my mouth to say something but don’t know what. 'It's been forty days, for God's sake!' He raises his voice a little, for the first time. 

'Look __' I sit beside him. 'I understand. There must be something bothering you ___'

'Yes, something is troubling me and I don't know what to do.' The way he looks at me, I feel like wrapping him in my arms. 'I tried to busy myself in work. I thought I could deal with it. I went to my home town so that I could find some solace but no. That's insane. Nothing bothers me when I'm home. But this time I couldn't stay there for more than 3 days.'

Now, I am worried. What's wrong with him.

Then he smiles. 'But, Maa understood.'

'Understood what?'

'That I'm in Love.' His glance is looming over me. His enchanting eyes looks misty. 'I didn't know whom to talk.'

It seems that I've forgotten to breathe. I exhale a deep, quivering breath. I don't know if I should feel happy for him or feel bad for myself. 'Wow, you love someone so much that you fell sick?' I am astonished. Can anyone love someone like this? 

He is fidgeting. 'But why are you doing this to yourself?' I ask.

He ponders for a moment, running his fingers through his curly hair. 'Exactly, why am I doing this to myself?' He whispers, his eyes fixed on the floor. 'I think I was testing my own feelings.'

'So, the test is positive?' 

'Yes. 100%'

'Then why don't you go and tell her?' I say even though it hurts.

He raises his head and fix his glance at me. 'That's what I'm doing,' he says. 

What did he say? 

'That's why I have come here. To tell her that I love this silly girl madly. That she is driving me crazy. So much that it hurts to stay from her.'

Wondering if this story can be a sequel to 'What If I Tell You...'

Friday, September 13, 2019

Watercolor Painting: Minimalism

'Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.'

—Richard Holloway

Recently, I participated in an art challenge where we needed to paint using single colour {Monochromatic art}. And I really enjoyed that. Actually, I have realized that our painting sessions are much better if we use limited colours. That we {especially beginners like me} get a little confused when we use several colours for a painting.

What do you think? Do you like using limited colour palette or enjoy/like experimenting using different colours?

Sharing one more artwork I painted recently. I am not good at painting mountains but I like this one. And it's not minimalistic. :)

Sharing with Paint Party Friday

Monday, September 2, 2019

What If I Tell You...

I love this time we often spend together. Sometimes, just soaking the coolness of sunset quietly. Sometimes talking mindlessly about anything. Same time. Same place, sitting on the same rocks, watching the waves making countless trips.

And you! The way you smile while walking towards me. Or the way you narrow your eyes and I know you don't agree. The way you frown when you sense I am not okay. The way you clench, unclench your fist or rake your fingers, repeatedly, through your hair, and I know you are upset about something.

It just started after we met twice, just by chance. And then I found myself waiting for our meetings. I know you also look forward to it, for you never miss our meeting. Yes, you are always late. You are a busy man after all, and I am a nobody.

You know, I skip a beat whenever you look at me? I think something changed that day when you teased me about something and I got irritated. I got up to leave, and you gripped my hand, like a reflex action and said, 'Please don't go.'

I glanced at our entwined hands; yours strong, warm and a little darker, mine petite. And then you immediately left my hand and whispered a sorry. I said it was okay, while my heart thundered. I perched on the rock next to you, not bothering about the time anymore. You dropped me that day, waiting till I got inside the gate of my building.

Sometimes, I feel I can say anything to you and you would understand. But it's complicated, my feelings. Oh how I wish I could tell you everything I feel for you. But what if a sense if discomfort creeps in, if I do? I fear it might change something between us___ this comfort, this understanding, this unspoken promise of togetherness?

I think I've spilled some of my emotions and murmured something unintentionally because you ask, 'What?' Your face so calm, eyes enchanting, fixed on mine.

These overwhelming, stupid emotions!

'What?' I say, trying hard to be nonchalant.

'I thought you said something.'

'No, nothing,' I say, as I tuck my curls behind my ears.

Then we go back to admiring the crimson sun that looks like it's going to kiss the vast, restless ocean. Its reflection glistening over the waves. I love how the pinkish hue of sunset settles on your face so comfortably.
What if I graze your stubbled cheek? How would you react? Would you close your eyes, absorbing the warmth of my touch? Or pull yourself back and look at me, startled?

And I often wonder what you think when you look at me. Do you ever think of me when I'm not around? Do you feel the ache in your heart when we couldn't meet for four-five days, like I do? Do you also feel the same for me and struggle to share your feelings, like I do?

You sigh and look at me. I smile. It's time to call it a day.

Please read Forty Days and tell me if it can be a sequel to this story.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Watercolor Painting: 5 Things I Learnt As A Watercolorist

Painted it recently {Reference photo: Unsplash}

Well, I am not an expert, to be honest. I am a self taught watercolourist, and started painting, or rather started painting properly, last year. Painting is one of the most unexpected activities that I am doing. There was a time when I couldn't even relate to the term 'Art & Craft'. But my interest in watercolour painting is not just one year old. I started some six years ago, then stopped. But there's a quotation by Michael Jordan:

'If you can't stop thinking about it, don't stop working for it.'

I stopped painting but I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I started again. This time, thankfully, I have managed to keep my enthusiasm alive. 

Now that I have started painting regularly, I realized that there are certain factors that matter when it comes to watercolour painting. And if we do not follow them, they might affect our painting in a negative way and can kill our enthusiasm. 

So, here I am sharing what I learnt. I'm not going to talk about regular painting lessons. I am talking about what works for me.

Reference photo: Pinterest

1. Good Watercolour Paper:

It's the most important lesson I have learnt as a beginner. Watercolour painting is a little expensive medium. But when we are beginners, we do not want to buy expensive art supplies, which is totally understandable. It's okay to not buy very expensive colours and brushes, but it's essential to buy good watercolour papers. A little expensive {There are some good brands that offer reasonable price} but totally worth it.

Honestly, I used to paint on regular drawing copy. And many a time, the results were frustrating. So, I started buying watercolour sheets. I paint on the both sides, as I don't want to waste paper.

2. Don't Expect Your Painting To Look Beautiful While You're Still Working On It:

Reference photo: Pinterest

I was painting a night scene and I felt that it was turning out really bad. So bad that I felt like leaving that unfinished and paint something else. Thankfully I didn't. I completed it and realized that it was not that bad. The next day, it looked even better. 

3. Don't Try To Recreate A Painting:

I don't know if you do this but I did it quite often. And again the results were frustrating. A painting is already a recreated version. And if you try to copy that recreated version, the results are usually not that satisfactory. For me, reference photos work best. 

4. Understanding The Reference Photos:

So, when I started to follow reference photos {and not paintings}, I tried, really hard, to recreate EXACTLY what I saw in the photo. Maybe because my imagination is very limited when it comes to painting. I realised it later that it suppresses your own creativity and imagination. Set your imagination free. Take the reference photo as inspiration and try your version. 

Reference photo: Pinterest
This one I tried to recreate exactly. Not very happy with the result.

5. Be Patient:

Watercolour painting requires patience and time. Don't rush to apply all the colours when it's still wet.  Let it rest for some time. Understand that you will make mistakes. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. That's the way we actually learn, no?

As I said I am not an expert. I'm sharing what I have observed. What worked for me. Please share your views.

Sharing with Paint Party Friday

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Book Review: The Last Love Letter by Kulpreet Yadav

'Two people in the same room can be light years apart. The human mind is such a big Universe.'

----Kulpreet Yadav, The Last Love Letter

Practically, past doesn't exist. But memories do. And some memories haunt you so much that you find yourself stuck with your past, like Akash and Subah...

The Last Love Letter {Lovely title, isn't it?} by Kulpreet Yadav {Published by Rupa Publications} is about love, loss, grief and moving on. How, sometimes, we are too attached with our past and people we have lost that it gets so difficult to move on.

The story, enclosed in a beautiful cover, starts with a poignant love letter that Nisha {who is no more} wrote to her husband Akash. Akash is devastated, unable to handle the painful loss. But he has to, for the sake of his little daughter Sara.

Subah {nice name!} is a strong, focused and independent woman, battling with the darkness of her own past, even though she plays with a riot of colours ---on her canvas.

She hires Akash for the promotion of her painting exhibition. Their first meeting doesn't seem like a pleasant one, even though Subah connects with Sara pretty well. She has her own inhibitions, you know. But they often spend time with each other because of their work, and slowly something starts to melt in their hearts. But they are too hurt to accept and express their feelings to each other.

So, what's the destination of their professional relationship? Everyone deserves a second chance in love, no? You'll have to read the book to know the answer.

The Last Love Letter is a nice love story, with relatable characters. The emotions, the dilemma is expressed well ---you understand their feelings. However, I feel that the story is too predictable, mainly because it's been told from two points of view that leaves no scope for any surprise. Also, there are some unnecessary dialogues, small talks as we call it. I'm not a fan of such dialogues, so maybe it's just me.

Overall, it was an easy, nice and quick read. You'll find some interesting quotes. If you enjoy reading love stories, go for it.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Ruchi Singh

I had read Ruchi Singh's book Jugnu by chance. It falls under my favourite genre ---that's romance plus, some of my reader friends had cool things to say about this book. The problem {for me} was that the book was available in ebook format ---a format I found difficult to read. Then one day, I downloaded this book. Just like that. 

The moment I started reading, I was hooked. Surprisingly, I finished it in a single sitting---on my phone. Yes, it was that gripping! Now, it's one of my favourite romances. Then, naturally, I downloaded her first book, Take 2. Liked it too.

Recently, I read 'Guardian Angel', her latest book. Enjoyed it {However, Jugnu remains my favourite}. So, I've realized that Ruchi Singh's writing style works for me, always. I feel a connection with her characters {most important thing for me}. You can feel their emotions develop.

Today, I am so pleased to have Ruchi Singh on my blog. She has some interesting things to say. So, let's chat ---

Image result for ruchi singh jugnu

Welcome to my blog. Tell me about your writing journey ---that moment when you realized that you wanted to be a writer?

RS: Thanks for having me on your blog...

It happened by chance in 2013, when friends and family suggested I should write. It was like an epiphany that yes I can, and should write. 

Since I am very fond of novels, so I began with a novel. I immensely enjoyed writing Take 2, the joy in creating something new is quite potent. And when I won the Indireads Short Story competition in Oct 2014, I knew I will become a novelist. Recently winning the TOI WriteIndia contest was an awesome experience and added motivation.

What's the most essential element of a gripping story?

RS: The characters and their evolution through the story arc.

I couldn't agree more! Would you like to tell us about your writing process? Do you follow any writing schedule?

RS: There are no hard and fast rules. I normally need a broad level plot and framework to be in place before writing. In case of a thriller, the plot is complex and I have to work out on the timeline so I do it on paper, then I begin to write. 

For a romance where the focus is on emotional conflict, I go by my instincts and the characters I have created. 

There is no fixed schedule. When I am writing the first draft I mostly write everyday, but if the writing spree is interrupted it becomes difficult to start again. But it’s a good idea to write daily. 

Please tell us about your next book?

RS: I am writing an emotional romance which is again set in Kasauli, the backdrop of my second novel Jugnu. I’m also planning and plotting the third one in 'Undercover' series. There are lots of ideas floating in my mind, but very less time.

What's more difficult ---completing a book or marketing that book? Do you think social medial plays an important role in promoting your book?

RS: Its difficult to choose between the two, both have different challenges. But if I have to pick one it will be completing a book. Writing an interesting story which appeals to the readers is the key to the next step which is marketing. Marketing is not a phase, it's an ongoing task and can be done at one's own pace.

Social media plays a very important role in marketing. It's probably most effective, fastest and lucrative way to take your book to the audiences. 

I am on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, where I post the excerpts and reviews of my books. I blog at about books and people can read my flash fiction.

Is there any particular genre you find it difficult to write in?

RS: I think I can only write Romance and crime, rest all are difficult for me.

What would be your precious advice for new/aspiring writers?

RS: This would be a cliched answer, but still:

1) Read ‘On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft’ by Stephen King and follow it.
2) Buy a good editing tool and use it
3) Write, write, write and edit, edit, edit. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

Watercolor Paintings: Painting Without Reference Photos

So, I would consider it a development. That I have painted some landscapes without any reference photos and paintings are not bad, I think. However, I would not encourage myself to do that often.

I always need a reference photo to paint. When it comes to painting, my imagination is very limited, so yes I would call it a development.

Sharing some of my paintings that I painted without any reference photo.

Also, I have started to feel comfortable painting on large sized paper. OK, not that large but A4 size. I usually painted on A5, as earlier I didn't feel confident enough to try on A4. These two paintings are on A4 size paper, without any reference photo.

So, what do you think?

Sharing with Paint Party Friday

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Book Review: Summer Holidays by Koral Dasgupta

 Name of the book
 Summer Holidays
 Name of the author
 Family Drama
 No. of Pages
 Rupa Publications

'People misbehave with their loved ones, they take them for granted because they believe in a tomorrow when things will get sorted. But what if there was no tomorrow?'

---Koral Dasgupta, Summer Holidays

This quote is actually the gist of the story. 

The female and male protagonists {Mira and Rishi} of this story are siblings who haven't met in a long time {16 years} because of an ugly fight between their parents {Also siblings}. One fine day, they connect on Facebook and got in touch. They practically share a flat while studying in the same city {without telling their parents, of course}.

While Rishi and Mira bond really well, their parents' estrangement bothers them terribly. So, they make a quirky plan!

What's the plan? Would it work? You will have to read the book to know the answer. 

Family drama. Sibling love and bonding. With a hint of romance. Well, romance is always welcome but family drama/sibling love is not really my favourite genre when it comes to novels. 

To be very honest, the first impression was not very good because of the very same reason. Also, the book cover seemed a little dull. I thought this story deserved more vibrant cover. Still, I enjoyed reading this book! I'll tell you why.

The first thing I noticed {after the cover} and liked about this book was Rishi! He is so mature and witty! His dialogues are so thoughtful and interesting. 

'Spend it {time} to buy fun but never give away to the undeserved.'

Characterization is good, actually. Most of the characters seem relatable. Except Shiraz. Now, I don't feel good saying this because Shiraz is an important character even though he is practically not there. 

'Shiraz was your hero,' Mira says to Rishi but frankly I didn't find anything heroic about Shiraz. I felt this character needed more space. I was looking for something substantial that confirms Rishi's deep bonding with Shiraz {that he remembers him fondly even after 16 long years}.

There's another problem ---Rishi remembers too much. And so vividly. Rishi was just five when the fight happened so it bothered me that a boy remembers so much that he experienced at the age of five {and when he was even younger}.

Bonding between Rishi and Mira is endearing and very well expressed. There's a little bit of romance {in both Rishi and Mira's personal life} that's really entertaining. It acts like a refreshing change in the story. The author has created space for romance very nicely.

The author earns brownie points for writing this book from multiple points of view that switch frequently. This has been done so skillfully that it doesn't disturb or confuse you.

I liked the quotes ---

'There was no bigger solace than drowning in work when tense or sad. Perhaps the sense of helplessness inspired an energy that brought out the best in you.'

Overall, it was a sweet and entertaining read. If you are looking for an interesting, light and thoughtful read, Go for it.

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