A Very Chocolaty Road Trip – #SayYesToTheWorld

In the brief two years that I’d spent in Sweden, I was lucky enough to #explore the quaint little town (Älmhult) I lived in. Each day enfolded an #enriching #experience as I aimlessly wandered around town with a map app without which I’d be lost for hours altogether.

The flower-infested centrum (which doubled up as a park and bus stand), the city hall with its majestic lobby, the library boasting its monumental collection of parchment-y scented books, the little burger shack which serves perfectly salted fries and the list is simply endless. Funny how I never got around to the cinemas until the last month of my pregnancy. Despite my delicate condition, I never missed out on the blockbusters, FF7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Everything about Älmhult made me fall in love with the suburban life in Sweden and thus, my penchant for travel was born.

Autumn revives the little town in the Kronoberg county as the russet leaves festoon the roads and grass. When the effervescent silver flakes adorn the rooves and pavements during winter, you’ll know magic like no other.

My husband planned one such road trip without my knowledge and asked me to be open minded and hop in the car as he got behind the wheels. “Let’s get ice-cream!” he said as his happiness radiated another hundred miles.

“I just want to nap so bad though,” I whined and my body sang with pain as I stretched out my tense muscles. “Come on, it’ll be fun. You just sit tight and I’ll do the driving.” His argument did seem convincing and I resolved to unwind with some music and go on the drive. I had no inkling what was about to happen and where I was going. But knowing my impulsive husband, I knew better to pack a bag of supplies and some light snacks.

Off we drove to “get ice-cream” as I DJ’ed throughout the ride, we even shook on a truce to alternate between our favorites. I didn’t want to hand over the reins of choosing music, ultimately, it is the soul of any road trip. He kept driving for the next three hours and I gave him the look. “Dude, we’ve been driving for three hours?! Omg, I dozed off in between?! Where the hell are we going?!” I knew I was freaking out for no reason and he had craftily added his playlist in the meantime. The guy was not ready to answer and he just smiled at me. “Just a little further, babe. We’ll be there in no time.” I just gaped at him and slumped back in my seat as he chuckled. So, it was a surprise and he was hell-bent on keeping mum. Well, two can play at this game, I fished out my phone and opened my prized map app. We were going to Malmö, all the way in Skåne county! Going to another county to eat ice-cream was a little far-fetched, even for me.

We pulled up at the ice cream shop and Zayed grinned at me and I stared back with a puzzled look. He asked me to turn around and I yelped as I spotted a big-ass beach spread out before me. The three hours of uncomfortable sleep on the awkward car seat was totally worth it.

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Although the sun shined bright as a beacon, the cold winds still cut through the thin fabric of my jacket. The hoodie was a bad decision but I can’t be blamed as I didn’t know our destination. First, we ran into the ice cream shop like a bunch of kids and we were hella picky when it came to the flavors. I gawked at the glass box for a good fifteen minutes and the ice-cream guy shrugged at me. ‘I need to feel the flavor, yaw’, I mentally screamed at him. ‘Any minute now.’, I told the patient guy. I decided to play it safe and went with the very chocolaty flavor because he’d already dismissed a previous one with the word alcohol. (Because we’re halal af)

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I grabbed the cone and licked it along the way as I bathed in the sun and ran towards the water. Clear sapphire waves swept my feet and the winds kissed my dry and cracked face. At that moment, I embraced the now. I told myself, #SayYesToTheWorld and positively loved the blind date with Malmö, thanks to my over-adventurous hubby!

Travel is an exhilaration. Sometimes the rain blesses the leaves trickling and decorating the veins and the earth emanates a deep scent with an added dose of the wind kissing faces. Intrepidly, the sun might piffle through the clouds, bestowing its golden blankets and warming the skin.

Can you hear your heart rumbling in your ears? Rivers storming through exacerbating cracks and crevices. The deafening roar of thunder, making you cower in your tents. Don’t allow your fears and preconceptions to conquer you and let loose a little once in a while. You might just enjoy #TheBlindList experience like I did.

BOOK REVIEW: HOPE AND SUNSHINE BY DEBASMITA NATH GHOSH

hopeandsunshinePublication Date: June 28th, 2018
Publisher: Power Publishers
Pages: 199, Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 2.5/5
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: Naina Grover has an imperfectly perfect life, or is it perfectly imperfect? A Punjabi kudi from Delhi working in the city of joy, Kolkata is joined by her crazy cousin, Arjun and his sober friend Aditya to come of age while at a long – distance relationship which seems to be going nowhere. She knows it is a recipe for disaster but should she let go or not? Should she hope for the best? Hope she will be accepted?Hope she can settle down? Hope she can come to terms with a family secret bothering her for years now? Just hope. Keep hoping? And then, Hope welcomes a ray of sunshine. Naina welcomes you to look at life from her perspective. ‘Hop’e On!’


“Goodbyes are for those who love with their eyes because for those who love with heart and soul…there is no separation.”


When the vivacious Naina Grover struggles to balance her long-term relationship with boyfriend, Ved, enter Aditya, flaunting his suaveness and steely greys. How will she handle the pressure of the two men in her life in the city of joy?

Get your hands on Debasmitha’s debut novel – Hope and Sunshine to read more about the crazy life adventures of this dreamy girl.

My Take:

Book Cover:

The author has chosen a simple and chic cover to banner her story and although it might not be very impressive, it is certainly colour coordinated.

Characters:

Naina, Aditya and Ved are the golden trio around whom the story basically revolves. Arjun is the added bonus of a bonehead brother who brings the looney beans of being surrounded by family. Easily, he is that one cousin/best-friend who begs to be strangled and cuddled at the same time.

Naina is pitched as the gorgeous, kohl-eyed and unmatched beauty but we fail to see the description of the character rising to the surface. She could just be any hottie in my head, tall or short, no stress. I don’t know if I find that comforting by novel standards. Contrastingly, Aditya has the irresistible trademark ‘steely greys with a tinge of green’ and a side of the infamous ‘dark past’ which makes the protagonist go weak in the knees. The bland words like hot and handsome don’t do justice to our guy as my imagination begs for more detail to form a complete mental picture. Again, his character construction is so positive that the reader can’t help but root for him from day one which is a flaw and strength in itself because of the prominence of the instant hate for Ved. When these two are viewed from a comparative standpoint, cliched elements like the maturity level of Aditya and the proximity of the relationship between him and Naina play a key role in the development of the story. Ved, on the other hand, has nothing more than the nametag – “Boyfriend“.

Ved introduces a raw and insufferable feeling with his incessant addressing of ‘baby’ and successfully convincing the reader of his destitute nature. He takes little to no interest in what happens in Naina’s life and is hell-bent on shifting the spotlight of their relationship on himself. Through this disconcertingly cheap ritual, he easily becomes the taker and Naina, the giver.

Language and Writing Style:

Colloquialism may entertain the reader when it is rendered in a short dosage. It becomes a problem that cannot be overlooked when transformed into the prose itself. The story appeals to the reader with respect to the writing style as both are symbiotic. That was a major drawback for me as I wasn’t able to concentrate on the content of the book because of the aforementioned flaw. Also, the editing felt incomplete and kept diverting my attention from the story at hand.

Plot:

The simplicity of the overall plot invokes a sense of closeness with the characters as they are in sync with reality. Despite the clichés singing saliently throughout the book, I liked how the characters were relatable and frolicky. Although some loose-ends were hastily tied up in the end, the debut author manages to deliver a heartfelt tale of a girl filled with dreams and sunshine.

Final Note:

Looking for a light read while you travel or slacking at home during the weekend? This book is the perfect pick to just sit back and relax with a mug of cocoa.


Notes:

  • “I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset
  • The blurb is borrowed from Goodreads.

BOOK REVIEW: INDELIBERATE DELIBERATIONS BY SHIVANSH UMATT

idPublication date: December 11th, 2017
Publisher: Maple Press
Pages: 66, Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: Indeliberate Deliberations is a collection of heartfelt poems, twenty in total on various themes.The book is divided into four broad themes – Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth and Gory Musings. The poems borrow the recently popular art of free verse poetry, with no fixed structure. They express emotions, deal with heartbreaks, reminisce in the nature, or dance with the tunes of silent cacophonies. Composed within a short time frame of one year, you will surely relate to this tiny collection of short poems.


“Your tiny heart was pounding and

Your large bones were drumming

Against your coarse skin and

Your texture felt like rubble and

Your lungs puffed out air like

they’ve been waiting for so long.”


 

‘Indeliberate Deliberations’ is classified into four parts with respective themes: Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth and Gory Musings. The writing style adapted in this book is basically free-verse poetry and one cannot help but picture the poet slamming it on stage (Slam Poetry form). The combination of powerful words and pertinent imagery transports compassion and empathy through your bones till the very end.

My Take:

Under the theme – Abyss, there are five poems, namely, Flowery Grave, Bereavement, Incurable, Black is Beautiful and Ignorance. The central idea of the theme inculcated in these poems revolves around unfulfilled desires, yearnings of the soul, loss and hopelessness. The poet has cleverly contrived to incorporate vivid imagery and brilliant use of pin-pricking metaphors. Admirably, he brings the reader to their knees, sympathizing with the rupture of every feeling. The key elements that magnanimously contribute to the poems are technical devices like repetition and enjambments.

LatencyMisidentification, Scraps of Poetry, Hollow Memory and Mosaic

Again, you can see excellent use of writing techniques and he’s put the tools of the trade to optimal use. But too much wordiness can be the downfall of a poem. However, one could spot the ingenious classification of senses in connection with the poem – Scraps of Poetry. A similar technique can be found in Hollow Memory where he plays on the elemental connections. Although I couldn’t help but notice references like ‘Colors of the Wind’ from the famous Pocahontas song, there seems to be a steady rhythm of reflection and refinement in these poems.

Frost and Froth Changing Colors, Breathlessness, River of Love, Callings of the Night, Learnings, Hyperbole, Silence and Turmoil

The poems under this theme are a play on nature’s beauty in synchronization with human emotions, scrutiny, suffocation, frosty relationships and pain. There are many references to darkness, the coldness of the soul, loneliness and maybe a hint of supernatural elements. Some radiate positivity through the battle cry – carpe diem, while the others lean toward a volley of rambling emotions. The poet could’ve avoided the overuse of blunt and cliched metaphors in certain places to add more precision to his poetry.

Gory MusingsUnforgivable, I’m Not A Poet and Equivocal Truth

I found the poems to be physically explorative with vivid imagery but not gory in the literal sense. The only flaw was the unidimensional pattern of telling a story through the poetry. However, the collective vibes of angst, frustration and denial add vibrancy to the poems.

Final Note:

There’s an abundance of talent in this sixteen-year-old who has penned down some bafflingly astounding poetry and he has a long way to go. Honestly, I’m hoping to read more of his poetry and witness the evolution of his writing style.

 


Notes:

  • I was given a copy of the book by The Book Planet PR for an honest and unbiased review.
  • The blurb is borrowed from Goodreads.

BOOK REVIEW: When love happens by Manish Kumar

51RM7xgo8aL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Publication date: November 6th, 2017
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Pages: 138, Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 2.5/5
Source: Review Copy

Blurb: True love never dies. It is redefined every time you feel it. When Nish falls in love, little does he know the impact it is going to have on his life. Hailing from conservative backgrounds, love is
nothing less than war with the world for the lover and his beloved. Albeit limited communication, they still dare to dream of a life together. But with the pressure of attaining stability in life, he finds it
impossible to chase his dreams endlessly.
An unassuming man from a modest background, he fights helplessness
and challenges thrown at him by life, only to learn precious life lessons.
His faith in God gives him the strength to move on and find his calling
in writing and poetry. When Love Happens… is a tale of shattered dreams and redemption, of fear and fortitude, and above all, of the indomitable human will.


“If you are no longer important to someone, make yourself precious in your view. Let go.”


The Plot:

‘When love happens’ is Nish’s journey of falling in love and battling against all the obstacles life throws at him and a persistent quest to find peace and harmony.

My take:

The story opens to a window of forbidden love and the gruelling spell it has on Nish’s life. Love works in mysterious ways as he is torn between the million macabre thoughts that might cloud the minds of his family and the fact that he would give anything to be with his childhood love – G. It’s an ongoing war of raging hearts as we get to see the protagonist’s sacrifices and sufferings while he is in this wanton relationship.

The tone of the book goes on to be unidimensional from that point. All sorts of recklessness befall him and if I continue down this path I would end up telling you the plot-twist. But it’s mostly how uncertain life can be and the brutal unfairness of being in love and feel it’s the nastiest sting. Nothing is certain and a dark shadow of incertitude engulfs you in the worst possible manner. The protagonist faces a somewhat similar situation and the tale is of how he surmounts those hindrances.

As a reader, I was disoriented because of how brittle the plot-twists and the character developments proceeded. I think it’s only fair that the previous point is stated as I don’t want to sugar-coat my review with only the good stuff. Next time, maybe tweak the plotline a bit to the liking of the reader and infuse an element of surprise? (Just saying)

Writing style:

Coming to the best part of the book, he nailed the poetry (Shayari) with such precision that it honestly moved me. The author’s métier is poetry and he’s flaunted it in the right spots and serviced a great tenderness to it.

Woh thi koi oas ki bunde ya phir aag ki chingari,
Jala gayi dil mere phir se koi aag,
Mahsoos kar gaye hum kudarat ki is rachna ko…
Ye parwat, ye hawayaen, ye badal, ye jharne, ye panchhi…
Ye dhoon banaya jisne, phir se zinda kar gaya ek sangit…
Utar rha mere dil me phir se chhukar guzar raha koi…

Final note:

If you like any type of romance stories that you’d like to finish in one sitting, then this is your kind of book. No muss, no fuss, just a linear tale impregnated with beautiful poetry/Shayari.


Notes:

  • I was given a copy of the book by writersmelon for an honest and unbiased review.
  • The blurb is borrowed from goodreads.

BOOK REVIEW: Manthan (The Kalki Chronicles) by Utkarsh Pandey

Manthan By Utkarsh Pandey


Publication date: September 23rd, 2017
Publisher: Aarahan Publishers
Pages: 231, Epub
Links: Goodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5

Source: Review Copy

Time is a wheel that turns in circular motion. During this circumnavigation, The Earth according to mythology has undergone four Yugas, Satyuga, Tretayuga, Dwaparyuga and Kaliyuga. Hence, at the end of Kailyuga, Time and Earth return to the start of Satyuga.

Vishnu, the Preserver of the universe has the responsibility to maintain and sustain the Earth in this journey. He ensures that the world does not fall apart. To do so, his Avatars on Earth, guide humans to a new paradigm to ensure they tread on the path defined as per the laws of nature.

It is believed that we are in the fourth leg of time, the Kaliyuga. The Vedas and Gita mention that at the end of Kaliyuga, Vishnu will return to Earth as his tenth and final Avatar, Kalki and free the world from the shackles of Adharma. This is a fictional work, describing the journey of Kalki in the era of Kaliyuga and the challenges he faces in this journey. The characters and references in this book have been chosen from the ancient mythologies, however the story and the journey of Vasu is a work of fiction. ‘Manthan’ is the first in the series of books, ‘The Kalki Chronicles’. A journey of faith with all its highs and lows. I hope you enjoy being part of the Manthan that Vasu undergoes in order to become the great Avatar, Kalki!

Plot:

When the Gods (Devas) banter and bicker amongst themselves, fearing the wrath of Adi Parashakthi (Supreme Goddess) would befall them, they bank on a young boy named Vasu to vanquish the ultimate threat to Prithvi – Kali! Believed to be an Avatar of Vishnu himself, Kalki would rise to take charge, prevent the destruction of mankind and obliterate the dark ages or Kaliyuga.

My Take:

The first book of the Kalki Chronicles, Manthan doesn’t fail to keep on your toes as it draws you into the trio’s (Vasu, Padma and Bhairav) invigorating journey to save mankind from the clutches of Kali (Basically a good God gone bad). There are intricate stories within the actual tale itself which is a fanatical load of information. You might want to persistently pay attention to those details as it aids with a better grasp of what the author is attempting to convey as a whole.

Being embodiments of the Gods from Hindu Mythology, the characters are embedded with their essence and thus blessed with incredible powers (Some unbeknownst to them). Bhairav was one such character who possessed the potential of a five-hooded snake, gifted with shape-shifting and compulsion powers and so much more. The ingenious amalgamation of fictional and mythological elements make this book all the more special. Although I found the base of the story to converge with that of the Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series (Face it, they are going to be pillars of comparison for a lifetime), the author manages to steer the reader’s attention to the core of the story.

There were a few faltering episodes but you have got to hand it to this brave attempt to tell an amazing story of the Gods (Hindu Mythology). I’ve always been fascinated by this genre as and my very first book was Dark Things…by Sudha Kuruganti. It made me realize the potential of this genre in particular and the possible fictional reiterations it can produce. And thus, I began my quest to seek out these fruitful gems to feed my reader’s soul.

Writing Style:

The author has a no-nonsense tone and a pen full of gusto. The pleasing eloquence of the narrative and the subtlety in his language makes it a compelling piece you don’t want to miss. I think he has narrowed down the perfect modulation to relay this piece as it’s a combination of comfort and awe.

Final Note:

If you are fascinated by the texture of Lord Shiva’s hair then this is the book for you. Just kidding! It’s a tale of intensified mythological facts and stories, peppered with a generous serving of magic and lore! Oh and did I mention that there are DRAGONS! YES – DRAGONS! Pick this one if you are an ardent fan of Indian Mythology.


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Utkarsh is a Software Engineer, based out of Noida, India. An avid reader and photographer right from his school days, this is his first foray into writing. Utkarsh spends his time reading, watching movies and traveling. He lives in Delhi with his wife and newborn son.

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