Book Review

Book Review – Naive & Beautiful by Biswas Timshina

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The author of this book, Biswas Timshina, was felicitated in the inaugural Sikkim Literary Festival organized by Sikkim Manipal University for his contribution to the literature of Sikkim, and in the second edition, I was felicitated for the same. I have never met him, but I know his parents, who are quite close to my maternal uncle. However, that has no influence whatsoever in the following honest review of his novel ‘Naive & Beautiful’.

I have not had a great experience reading debut authors’ books. Most of them are riddled with grammatical errors and have a cheesy romantic (or friendship related) plot, and even if the story is different, the narration leaves a lot to be desired. Although I had heard that Biswas was talented, I didn’t have great expectations, to be honest. However, as I went through the book, I was pleasantly surprised. The author has excellent storytelling skills, a rare quality that I have seen only in seasoned authors. The way he moves back and forth in time, creates suspense, and in most of the stories gives a solid, unexpected twist in the tale, is laudable.

All the stories entertained me thoroughly. I loved the variety as well as the darker theme explored in many of the stories. I had certainly not expected that from a debut author. I had expected at least a few cheesy college romances, but I was glad to not find even a single instance of the same. Themes like politics, friendship, love, sensuality, guilt, jealousy, revenge, death, among many others have been weaved very expertly in the stories. Exotic cultures and traditions of Sikkim have also been presented in a few stories, adding to the appeal. The characterization was also pretty good throughout, and in some places, I did feel emotional.

The best part was the grammar and punctuation. It was far better than what I had expected from a debut author, especially the punctuation. I was amazed to find almost no punctuation errors throughout the book. Hats off to the author for the excellent editing, despite this book being self-published. He does have a way with words as well—his sentences are tight and sometimes quite stylish too. There were a few minor errors here and there—like using capitals for emphasis rather than italics, or the occasional grammatical error—but overall I was quite impressed with the writing.

However, there were two things I personally didn’t like. In one of the stories, there was too much description of sex and nudity, thus making this book unreadable by children and even early teenagers. I think the author could have been a bit more subtle and avoided at least some of the graphic scenes. Also, there was far too much usage of cuss words throughout the book. A few slang words here and there are fine, but I do think that it was overdone.

Overall, I think this is a very good collection of short stories by a debut author. He is talented, and I would love to read a full-length novel from him. With his brilliant storytelling skills, very good writing, and his uncanny knack of delivering unexpected endings, I think he could create a wonderful novel.

4 stars from my side, and I would urge all my readers to try out this book and support debut authors.

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Book Review

Book Review – Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Early last year, destiny showered me with a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had some work in Bangalore, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, one of the favorite writers (I had loved her novel ‘Sister of My Heart’) was also coming to Bangalore to attend the Bangalore Times Lit Fest. I got a chance to attend her session, interact with her and Murthy, her husband, and even get a signed copy of her latest novel ‘Before We Visit The Goddess’. I will cherish it forever. Not everyday do you get to meet an internationally acclaimed, award-winning author.

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Since I had to finish my novel ‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’, get it published, and promote it, last year passed in the blink of an eye. A month ago, I finally got a chance to begin the book. After a few pages, as expected, I was hooked. I hadn’t thought that Chitra ma’am could improve upon her language, which was already delectably brilliant in ‘Sister of My Heart’, but I was amazed. Her language is even more refined in this book, her experience having poured layers of class over her already exquisite talent. I don’t remember how many times I re-read more than half of the sentences in the book to appreciate their poetic beauty and try to learn and imbibe some of her marvelous qualities in my writing.

Just like Sachin Tendulkar, who used to delight cricket fans with his range of shots in all formats of the game, Chitra ma’am shows her repertoire by dabbling in almost every POV. Third person limited, first person, second person, she has implemented all with exquisite perfection. There is absolutely no head-hopping, an error which debut writers are almost always guilty of. The dialogues are impeccable and hard-hitting too, and I loved the strong, emotional encounters between the characters at several places. And obviously the editing is flawless—but that is expected from a Chitra Divakaruni book.

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The characters are beautifully developed, every scene adding layers over them, painting them with gray shades, garnishing them using snippets from the past. I felt for each of them and could relate to them. I did feel emotional many times too, but somehow—the same thing happened with ma’am’s previous book—the story didn’t push me enough to make me cry.

However, that is just a minor flaw in a brilliantly written book. I loved it from beginning to end, and I’m sure the characters will stay with me for a long time. The ending is wonderfully done too except for one question that remains unanswered and which is nagging me, urging me to shoot a mail to ma’am and ask her. However, that is totally the author’s choice and I respect it.

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Finally, I would like to say that this book is a must-read for all, especially for new writers as there is so much to learn from Chitra ma’am.

Despite it not being able to push me down the lake of tears, I am not qualified enough to give this masterpiece anything less than 5 stars.

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The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri

A lovely, heartwarming review of #TheFragileThreadOfHope by Yesha @ Books Teacup and Reviews. Available in the Amazon IN Kindle store at just Rs. 9 for a limited time. Download your copy now.

LINK: mybook.to/tftoh

Books Teacup and Reviews

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Publication Date: October 29th 2017

Read Date: April 23rd 2018

Genre: Romance / Contemporary

Pages: 408

Stars: 4/5

4 star_cropGoodreads blurb_edited

A gripping emotional inspirational fiction about love, loss, and finding hope in the darkest of times. 

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok…

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Guest Post

Guest Post – The First Year as a Published Author: Dreams versus Reality – By Leonora Meriel

It feels wonderful to have a talented writer like Leonora Meriel as a guest on my blog. Here’s what she has to say about following your dream.

 

A powerful dream

My earliest memory is telling people I wanted to be writer.

All through my childhood I read avidly and wrote stories, poems, even a novel or two. I studied literature at two universities in Britain and Canada, and never for a moment doubted what I was born to do.

On October 1st 2016, my lifetime dream came true: My debut novel The Woman Behind the Waterfall was released. I was 38 years old.

 

Why had it taken me so long?

Life is never a straight line, however shiny our dreams are. And the older we get, the less straight the line becomes. By the time I finished university, I was living in New York, working for the United Nations and then a law firm, married, then pregnant, and then moving to Ukraine. For the first time in my 20 years, life was far, far more exciting than the books I loved to read. And so I forgot entirely about writing and jumped wholeheartedly into the business of living a whirlwind, stimulating life. This excitement lasted throughout my 20s, and it was only when I celebrated my 30th birthday – the perfect opportunity for reflection and evaluation of goals – that I remembered about the dream I was meant to be fulfilling.

At that point, I was living in Ukraine, speaking Russian (and Ukrainian), running a business I had founded, with two children and a very exciting life. But it was time to start doing what I had been born to do: write novels.

 

Changes

Over the next seven years, I left the business I had founded, passing on my job of CEO to a co-founder and friend, moved to Barcelona – the most creative city I know – and wrote my first novel The Woman Behind the Waterfall. It was during the process of writing that I realized how valuable the experiences I had gained over the last 10 years were to my writing dreams. I had lived a lifetime’s worth of adventures. Now I had everything I needed to spend the rest of my life developing my skills as a writer, and fulfilling my dream.

 

The First Novel

The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a literary fiction and magical realism novel. It is set in a village in Ukraine and is about 3 generations of women, and their search for happiness. It is not a commercial novel, it is intended to be something different, beautiful, strange, challenging and provocative. It is meant to appeal to readers (as I had been) who love something new and eclectic and brave and raw. Something where you can feel the emotion of the writer and the pain of creation.

So, you can imagine, not many publishers jumped at the chance to publish something strange, beautiful, and not-very-commercial by a debut author.

However, I had an agent who loved the book and valiantly tried to sell it. After a year, she hadn’t found a publisher, however I had read enough about self-publishing to decide to release my novel into the world myself.

 

The road to publishing

It was a hard journey learning about all the different aspects of independent publishing. Cover design, structural editing, copy edition, proofreading, typesetting, distribution channels, a launch strategy, a sales plan, and so much more. Luckily, my skills as an entrepreneur came in handy as I was used to having to deal with multiple issues of different kinds and finding solutions. But it was a lot of hard work.

 

Launch Day

The Woman Behind the Waterfallwas launched in October 2016 in a London bookshop. I was surrounded by friends and family who had shared my dream and who had come to celebrate the day it came true. My oldest friend wrote a Facebook post entitled “Dreams can come true – now I believe anything can happen,” and wrote about my story. It was one of the most incredible days of my life. I truly felt that every minute of my existence had been leading up to this moment – looking out at the group of people who had shared my life and believed in me. I will never forget this.

 

The childhood dream

My childhood dream took 38 years to come true.

If I could condense those 38 years in a nutshell, I would say there were 20 years of reading and scribbling, 10 years of life experience, and 8 years of learning to write a novel. I would say, with retrospect, that this is a solid formula. And now I have the next 38+ years of writing novels that (hopefully) get better and better.

 

Lessons from fulfilling a lifelong dream

Here are some things I have learned about dreams:

  • Dreams are never fulfilled in a straight line.
  • True dreams will never disappear from your heart (even though I forgot about my dream for 10 years, when I returned to it, it burned as fiercely as ever).
  • Dreams will rarely come true exactly as you imagined they would. Most often, they will be better and more suited to your particular life (when you dream as a child, you often base your dreams on what you see other people have accomplished. You do not yet know what you are capable of accomplishing).
  • Dreams coming true are the most incredible feeling you will ever experience (for this feeling goes to the very depths of your soul and your heart, which has nurtured them for year after year).
  • Dreams make you generous (the intense and deep joy of your own dream being fulfilled makes you passionately want to help other people with their own dreams).

 

Conclusion

Since the publication of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I have launched my second novel and am busy writing my 3rd, 4th and 5th. I have received wonderful reviews for both my books, I am stocked in dozens of bookshops, I have made friends with writers, editors, publishers and many more people from the book world, and learned an enormous amount about independent publishing and the publishing industry.

While fulfilling my dream was incredible, it was also merely the first step on the path of a brand-new career – one that will challenge and amaze me for the rest of my life. From now, I can truly say that I am happy, and that I have done what I was born to do.

If any of you have a dream – especially if it is a dream to create – then know that it is possible. Keep believing. Keep working. It will come true.

 

“The Woman Behind the Waterfall” is literary fiction and magical realism

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Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village.

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.

All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.

Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?

Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble

 

Reviews for The Woman Behind the Waterfall

“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“The language is lyrical and poetic and, in places, begs to be read repeatedly for the sheer joy of it… A literary work of art.” ~~ Fiona Adams, The Richmond Magazine

“Rich and poetic in detail, it is an often dreamy, oneiric narrative rooted in an exaltation of nature… A lovely novel.” ~~ IndieReader

 

About the Author

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Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.

In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.

During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.

In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.

Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

 

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Book Promo

100+ reviews for The Fragile Thread of Hope!

100 reviews Amazon

Today, my #inspirational fiction #novel #TheFragileThreadOfHope crossed 100 reviews on Amazon. It had already crossed the 100 mark on Goodreads a couple of weeks back. It is a huge landmark for me, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all my readers for reading and reviewing my book. Means a lot to me. And most of the reviews are positive and/or constructive, encouraging me and helping me improve. 

Those who haven’t tried out my book yet, it is available at just Rs. 9 in the Amazon India Kindle store, a huge discount which won’t last for long. So download your copy now.

LINK: mybook.to/tftoh

#reviews #Amazon #Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review – Curious Tales from the Himalayas by Shaguna and Prarthana Gahilote

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I attended the launch of this book recently at our popular, critically-acclaimed bookstore, Rachna Books. It was a pleasant surprise to know that Prarthana Gahilote (one of the co-authors) was not only a senior special correspondent with Outlook magazine but also renowned Indian singer Mohit Chauhan’s wife. In fact, Mohit Chauhan sir himself came to the book launch and not only read an excerpt from the book but even sang a few lines from his popular song ‘Dooba Dooba’.

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I also managed to get a copy of the book signed by both Prarthana ma’am and Mohit sir. A few weeks ago, I began reading the book and finished it today.

Curious Tales from the Himalayas is a lovely collection of folk tales from the Himalayan region. All stories are diverse yet unified by a common thread of knowledge and mystical beauty. As told by Prarthana ma’am in her illuminating talk at the book launch, this book was an attempt to revive the dying flame of storytelling and folklore in this modern, smartphone-dominated world. If we are not aware of our roots, slowly we will lose our sense of identity and uniqueness. After reading the book, I felt a sense of satisfaction. Not only did I learn several aspects of the culture of our surrounding regions, I also found inspiration and knowledge. I believe this book is a must-read at least for everyone residing in the Himalayan region—if not for people all over the world—as it reintroduces us to these beautiful folktales touching upon various themes like human values, morality, and spirituality that define our heritage and tradition. I especially loved reading a  Sikkimese folktale about our very own Rangeet and Teesta rivers and the story behind their union.

The writing is simple, lucid, and error-free. As I learnt during the book launch, a lot of travel and research has gone into producing this book, and I applaud the authors for their sincere effort. After every story, the other versions of the story are also highlighted for reference so that readers don’t get offended that the story is different from what they have heard. This book should be made available in schools and homes throughout our region so that children can learn about these beautiful folk tales.

I loved this wonderful little book. Every story was nice and carried a subtle lesson in it. A must-read for all.

4 stars from my side.

Book Promo, Book Review

Book Review – #TheFragileThreadOfHope

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http://www.jyotibabel.com/2018/04/the-fragile-thread-of-hope-by-pankaj.html

A wonderful, heartwarming review of my inspirational fiction #TheFragileThreadOfHope that is winning hearts worldwide. 

Still available at a #SpecialPrice of just Rs. 9 (less than a Cadbury Perk  ). Download your copy now, before the limited period discount expires: mybook.to/tftoh