Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Book Review: The Four Patriots



My Rating:


The Four Patriots by Sumit Agarwal is a story about “friendship, faith and courage, replete with romance and patriotism. It is a tale of four youngsters who want to contribute to the betterment of India. The Quadro as they have been called in the book consists of Varun, an NRI software engineer: Salman, CEO of Coffee Moments: Raghav, a virtuous politician; and Aditya, an altruistic businessman.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part takes us through the lives of all the characters. There are four parallel story lines. Since there were too many characters, initially, it was difficult to keep a track of what was happening with whom but as I got into it, it became easier. The language is simple.

The second part is where the real action happens. These four characters come together and work as a team to solve all the problems. One can see the author’s passion to see India as a developed country in the way he engages with every possible problem that is plaguing our system from corruption to terrorism to black money. This part was rather dramatic. Almost Bollywood-like.

There is not a single dull moment in the book as the narrative is very eventful. It keeps you at the edge of your seat. How the characters emerge victoriously from every problem is very interesting to read.

The only thing I didn’t like is the weak portrayal of female characters. The tone is rather judgmental.  The author should have made an effort to delve deeper into building up the characters.

In a nutshell, pick up this book if you are looking to read something racy and entertaining.

Disclaimer: I received the copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Book Review: Welcome to You 20.0







Name: Welcome to You 20.0

Author: Atul Jain

Publisher: Notion Press

No. of Pages: 212

MRP: 299







 My Rating:


Welcome to You 20.0 by Atul Jain is a book about  "your journey to your best version by discovering and achieving your dreams". The book is divided into four sections. The first part is about introspection and preparing plans for yourself. The second part makes you look deeper into your plan and also takes you through the tools needed to achieve your vision. The third part deepens that understanding. The fourth part is about leaving your mark on others.

First, I was intrigued by the title. Why 20.0 and not 2.0? Well, you will find that as you go through the book. One caveat here, the book is influenced by Law of Attraction. If you believe in it, then the book will furnish useful insights. If not, there are parts which might not appeal to you. However, the other parts are still worth reading.

Let's get on with what I liked about the book.
  • The book begins with a moving tale of APJ Abdul Kalam and at different points, it draws from experiences of several people like Steve Jobs. By doing this, the writer has bypassed the trap of the text being too preachy keeping the narrative interesting.The language is easy to read.
  •  Important sections are emphasized, so it makes for a smooth re-read.
  • There are exercises in the book which are effective in mapping your career trajectory. They encourage you to think and bring out your wildest fancies.
  • The book is comprehensive and contains practical ideas. It delineates some difficult decisions you might have to make along the way.
  • I absolutely loved the idea of creating your own Wikipedia page.


However, at certain places, I felt that the book was a little dragging. There was no need to dive deeper into some topics.  While, at other places, he could have elaborated more.

In a nutshell, it is a quick, breezy read with a bunch of fresh ideas.




PS: I received the copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.`



You can buy book from here  http://www.amazon.in/Welcome-You20-0-Journey-Discovering-Achieving/dp/1946515078






Monday, 20 February 2017

Monday Musings- Dear Me






“Be the person you needed when you were younger”
As I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook wall, I came across this quote. It actually got me thinking about what I would tell myself if I could go back in time and talk to my 15-year-old self. So here it goes:

Dear me

This is your 21-year-old self. She has some advice for you. Listen(read) carefully. 

Get out of your textbooks and talk to people. It is going to help you in long run.

Stop beating up yourself if you get fewer marks that one time. Grades won’t matter, anyway. You will get through by life just fine. One exam of your life is not going to decide your future.

Stop judging yourself so harshly. People are doing it already. You just need to pat your back.

Don’t give into peer pressure. If you don’t want to go to that party, curl up inside the blanket and read a book instead.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Give that audition. Surprise yourself. Fall and get back up.

Don’t bottle up your emotions. Cry your heart out if that’s the only way to feel better. It is not a sign of weakness. Only strong people can be vulnerable.

Don’t let society dictate what is appropriate. Wear your heart on your sleeve. You are beautiful, no matter what. 

Be thankful for what you have. You don’t know how many people are living without things you take for granted.

Also, you are no longer afraid of dogs and lizards,  but rats still scare the hell out of you.

Love
Me





Sunday, 19 February 2017

Book Tour: Honeysuckle Holiday by Kathleen M. Jacobs





  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Little Creek Books
    (May 11, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939289904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939289902










   






ABOUT THE BOOK:

Honeysuckle Holiday centers on the life of twelve-year-old protagonist, Lucy. It takes place in the south, in the late 1960s. Lucy struggles internally to come to terms with her parents' sudden and mysterious divorce. She finds herself thrust almost overnight from a world of comfort and privilege into one of near marginality.

When Lucy’s mother hires a black woman to help her, the situation intensifies. As the story progresses, Lucy learns the mystery behind her parents' divorce and her father's uncharacteristic, almost unforgivable immersion in the KKK. Lucy comes to shed her unknowing racism, taking her beyond the ideals of youth, her love of books and the trappings of childhood knit closely to her very fiber. She learns to peel back the layers of human frailty (her own included) painful piece by painful piece, while struggling to hold on to the comforts of innocence. Honeysuckle Holiday is young adult, to adult reading.

PURCHASE HONEYSUCKLE HOLIDAY ON AMAZON.COM


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Kathleen M. Jacobs’s work has appeared in regional and national publications. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Humanistic Studies, and has taught English and Creative Writing on the high school and college levels.

Kathleen divides her time between the Appalachian region and
New York City. Honeysuckle Holiday is her first young adult novel. She
encourages readers to connect with her on her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.








Author Interview: Kathleen M. Jacobs


                                                 

ABOUT KATHLEEN M. JACOBS:

Kathleen M. Jacobs’s work has appeared in regional and national publications. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Humanistic Studies, and has taught English and Creative Writing on the high school and college levels.
Kathleen divides her time between the Appalachian region and New York City. Honeysuckle Holiday is her first young adult novel. She encourages readers to connect with her on her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

In your own words, please tell us about your book:

Honeysuckle Holiday tells the coming-of-age story of twelve-year-old Lucy Moore, growing up in Memphis in the 1960s against the racial tensions of that era.  After discovering her father’s uncharacteristic involvement with the KKK, Lucy’s mother moves the family from a life of privilege to one of near marginality.  With the help of a black woman she hires to help her with the children, the family is brought full circle, shedding their unknowing racism and embracing the need to re-evaluate their thoughts on race.  As Lucy struggles to hold on to the trappings of childhood and its innocence, she learns to peel back the layers of human frailty (her own included) painful piece by painful piece.

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

I very much like a quote by William Carlos Williams:  “I think all writing is a disease.  You can’t stop it.”  I have always walked around with a piece of paper and a pencil.  Writing always helped me make sense of things that were difficult for me to understand, to process, to come to terms with, which I never could achieve by any other means. Writing is the way I make sense of the world around me.  I’ve tried to not write, but I can’t do it.  And I can’t begin to imagine not doing it – ever.

Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?

What I recall specifically is a story that my younger sister penned, “Joey the Grape,” when she was probably seven years old.  I was completely taken with it, and it was actually that story that prompted me to write a story of my own that very much centered around a racial chant that my great aunt taught me when I was just about the same age as my sister was when she wrote “Joey the Grape.”  That chant became the core of Honeysuckle Holiday.  It never left me.  It still resonates with me all these years later.  Memory is a powerful tool for a writer.

Where do your story ideas come from? 

I think, for a great number of writers, ideas percolate over time, and the ones that get planted and grow in our spirits for longer than we ever imagined become fodder for future stories, or at least they become seeds that when planted grow into stories that present universal themes; for, as writers, we hope to engage the reader and take them on a journey that they’ll not only remember, but perhaps bring about a certain degree of transformation.

What do you think makes a good story?

Incorporating the five senses into every story is certainly a good starting point.  And being able to connect with our readers is then a gift.  If we can engage the reader in those bright gems of visibility, let them hear the nuances of language, let them somehow engage in the flavors of the story and its characters, then we will – hopefully – be able to bring them a renewed sense of hope in humanity.  It’s a tall bill, but when you think of the greatest stories told, it is also possible.

What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read, read, and read some more; and then, talk about what I’ve read and what might come from it in terms of my own work.  Picking up on conversations around me, while a bit challenging at times, brings insight, laughter, and possibilities.  It’s also tremendous fun!

Who would you say has been a major influence in your life?

Kind, patient, passionate, encouraging teachers of English and literature have been my core influences as far as writing is concerned.  When I was a student at WVU my freshman year, my English 101 professor (and I wish I could recall his name) wrote a comment on an essay I had written:  “Once again, your jovial style saves the day.”  I’ve never forgotten it.  And when I taught creative writing to seniors at Charleston Catholic High School, I sent a letter to Harper Lee, asking her for advice to share with my students.  One sentence from her reply was enough for all of us, and still is:  “Don’t fall in love with what you write to the extent that you cannot edit it.”

What types of books do you like to read?

My appetite for reading is insatiable.  For a very long time, I was happily buried in a mound of fiction – both classics and contemporary.  Southern writers:  Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, McCullers, Hurston, Capote (and I could go on and on) have always held me in their tight grip.  Poetry and non-fiction grab me at unexpected moments, most often when I am introspective.  But, I think, it’s the world of YA fiction and MG works that now have such a strong hold on me, and I find myself completely at their mercy.  And children’s work is gaining in momentum.

What would readers be surprised to know about you?

Holding numerous positions in education, business, banking, and the legal field – while at the time, I wasn’t aware – would enable me to write about a wide variety of issues, eventually working these experiences into my writing.  And yet, as I recall those myriad positions, I chuckle just a bit because I can recall writing stories as I ate my lunch and even using those microcassettes a time or two after I transcribed a legal document, recording the sound of my voice and a story idea. 

How can readers connect with you?

Social media  . . . again, I find myself chuckling just a bit, because after the release of Honeysuckle Holiday, my publisher, Jan-Carol Publishing practically insisted that I “get with it,” and I did.  Working with an IT genius, we created an inviting and beautiful (we think) website:  www.kathleenmjacobs.com.  You can also find me on Twitter @KathleenMJacobs.  And Kathleen M. Jacobs can also be found on Facebook.

What are you currently working on?

Final edits are in progress right now on my first Middle Grade novel, which is scheduled for release in the spring.  It is a mystery, filled with the promise of hope, healing, and a young boy who must make the choice between good and evil.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Once again, I must yield to the advice from Harper Lee when she wrote in her reply, “Write.  Simply write.”







Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Book Review: Of Mice and Men




My Rating:

Have you ever picked up a short story and thought,"Well, what could 100 pages entail?" You think it will be over as soon as it will begin. I thought that too. And, it turns out Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck was anything but just a short story.

This is the story of two friends- George and Lennie who are working extremely hard to realize their dream of owning a piece of land: a place where no would trouble them and they can do whatever they want. In search of work, they come to Curley's barn from where things go haywire.

The plot of the book is fairly simple yet it keeps you at the edge of your seat. The story deals with themes like racism and sexism which are woven into the plot seamlessly. In only 100 pages, Steinbeck has made all the characters alive. George, the ever-so- concerned friend trying to keep Lennie out of trouble.  The simple-minded Lennie just wants to tend rabbits. Their friendship is so heart-warming. And then there is Curley's wife who wants company. The characters are developed beautifully.  I love the author's style of writing. He described everything in so much detail yet it didn't seem superfluous, which I think is very difficult to achieve especially with a short story.

However, the ending of the book is heartbreaking. It makes you think what would you have done if you were in George's place?


In a nutshell, it is a quick read but be prepared to be emotionally drained.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Five Minute Friday- Breathe






You ever feel like everything is falling apart. You cannot speak because the emotions you kept bottled up inside are choking you, dying to come outside but unable to do so. Your eyes are brimming with tears and vision is blurred. Your heart is beating so fast you fear it might explode. There are so many thoughts racing through your mind that it is almost impossible for you to concentrate or think. And you are just sitting there wondering what in the hell did you do to deserve that?
In those moments of uncertainty, self pity and self loathing, all you got to do is breathe. 
Breathe slowly. Breathe lightly. Breathe deeply. Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. 
Breathe till all the emotions that are choking you come out in the form of tears out of your eyes. Breathe till your heart relaxes. Breathe till your mind slows down. And then, just breathe a little more.