Book Review: Adventures in Farland by Moshank Relia

AIF_FinalCoverPublication date: October 19th, 2017
Publisher: Rumour Books India
Pages: 104, Ebook (PDF)
LinksGoodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review Copy

Mira Rawat has heard tales of Farland all her life from her mother, who has described the magical place of gnomes, fairies, mermaids and animals, and especially its wondrous festival, the New Moon Party. Now, Mira has been informed by a man named Bushy that she has been invited by Princess Harmonica to attend the party. Bushy also uses a spell to turn her two friends, the mischievous and vexing boys, Bira and Vira, into rats so that they will not disturb the other party guests with their constant fighting and misbehaviour. At midnight, Mira, with Bira and Vira snuggled in her pocket, climbs Gunhill and is picked up by the pilot Starhead and flown in his plane to the party. However, the flight is cut short by a terrible wind, and Starhead is forced to land his plane near the Lost Forest. There, Mira discovers that Farland is in great jeopardy. Another Farland resident, Windman, has been generating great windstorms to prevent the Queen of Witches from reaching Dragon Hill. She intends to release the Dragon of Underhill, chained in its den beneath Dragon Hill, so that Farland will be burned and completely destroyed.


“Sunday is a fun day.”


Adventures in Farland is an endearing and whimsical tale of Mira Rawat and her boisterous twin buddies Vira and Bira. When Bushy, the messenger from Princess Harmonica extends an invitation to the New Moon Party in Farland, Mira can’t turn down the enticing offer. She ventures on a journey to the enchanting place buzzing with gnomes, fairies, mermaids, princesses, witches and queens.

Oozing with magical vibes and a reflection of Alice in Wonderland and The Adventures of Wishing Chair, this book swoops you back to your childhood days when your heart ached for nothing but a pure adventure. My personal favourite was the witch with the elixir apple to awaken the Dragon of Underhill (Way to go, girl). Although her evil plan fizzled out as she didn’t secure her ultimate weapon, she did go down swinging (and I loved every bit of it). And I almost forgot ‘The Laughing Village’ where the Policeman was adorable with the laughter pauses and broken sentences. I would feel positively at home if cast into it. The illustrations were on point, entrancing and beautiful, giving a certain finality to the fairy tale.

However, from an adult’s standpoint, you can’t help but see the flaws in the basic construction of the characters. Mira is the embodiment of beauty and bravery in this story, whereas Vira and Bira are trashed a bit for their naughtiness and sporting bellies. And their immeasurable craving for chocolates is entirely understandable. But I would’ve loved a crime-fighting trio instead of Mira taking away the cake in the end. The unfairness to the two characters nagged me a little because of their futile presence in Mira’s pockets as rats! If it’s any consolation, they got a redemption track of becoming well-behaved boys.

To sum up, this book is sweet and concise. A definite fun pick and I got a chance to rejuvenate the child in me, thanks to Book Planet PR.

adventures in farland.jpg


Notes: 

  • I received an ebook (pdf version) from the The Book Planet PR and my review is honest and unprejudiced.
  • The blurb is borrowed from goodreads.
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Q&A with Urvashi Pahwa

UrvashiUrvashi was born and brought up in Ludhiana. She completed her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Thapar University, Patiala and started working in an Analytics company where she fell in love with her profession. She has over seven years of experience in Analytics.
She has written many poems and stories and likes experimenting with different genres. She keeps herself busy with either her work or her hobbies – oil painting, and preparing handmade gifts for friends and family. Her weakness is a cup of coffee.
“Love Sutra – Secret to Happily Ever After” is her debut novella.

I’d like to thank Urvashi for the review copy (Kindle Edition) of Love Sutra: Secret to happily ever afterit truly was an immense pleasure to read her book. Super glad to have conducted this Q&A with her! (Here’s my review of the book)


“When a relationship begins, deep down in your heart you already know that it will work or not. If you hear your little voice that you are not compatible with the person or something else, don’t ignore it. Sometimes, the thrill of love can turn us blind. Don’t let that happen.”


What inspires you to put on the writer cape?

My mind is always bubbling with ideas. Writing is just a medium to express my thoughts and opinions. When I have a story in mind, I feel like sharing it with others.

Other than writing, what are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about Data Analytics (that’s my profession). I truly believe in the power that data holds, and the underlying patterns that can be revealed, just like opening a mystery box.

What genre do you prefer to read?

I like reading all genres, but I absolutely adore Fantasy novels because they take me to a new, unseen world.

How do you kill time when you got a lot of it?

I never get a lot of it because of a busy work schedule, but I try to squeeze out some at weekends. When I am not reading or writing, I can be seen dabbling with oil colours. My recent hobby is preparing handmade soaps – you will find a glimpse of it in my novella too.

The preferred mode of jotting down plot points for your book.

I get ideas at the weirdest of times – when I am traveling, while having lunch, or just before sleeping when the lights are off. These are the times when I don’t have anything to scribble on, so I just pull out my phone and make quick notes before I forget. I collate everything later when I finally sit to write.

Are you working on a new novel?

To be honest, I started writing my first Novel three years ago. I am still trying to make it perfect. It’s about the importance of friendship in college life.

My second Novel is about ‘the Indian bride’ which I wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last year. I need to refine these two before I reach out to publishers.

I wrote Love Sutra in a very short duration just for a competition. I did not approach any publishers for it because I wanted to learn the self-publishing process. So, my third novel is actually my first published work.

Now that your novel is out in the world, how do you feel?

It happened so quickly that I did not get any time to feel anything, but of course, I can call myself an Author now, and that in itself is an achievement.

How much of ‘you’ did you put into your characters?

In this novella, I did not put myself anywhere. These stories are just a result of my observation. I was a ‘shoulder to cry on’ for many of my friends.
But in my other two novels, I have put a lot of me in there.

Since this book is pretty much a love-guru’s guide, do you consider yourself an expert when it comes to relationships? Also, do you have a tip or two for the love-birds out there?

I do not consider myself an expert, but yes, I can help someone when they need me during a mood swing. I recently discovered that people read my answers on Quora.

Regarding tips for lovebirds, my sincere advice is “When a relationship begins, deep down in your heart you already know that it will work or not. If you hear your little voice that you are not compatible with the person or something else, don’t ignore it. Sometimes, the thrill of love can turn us blind. Don’t let that happen.”

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

Love is an integral part of our life; we cannot ruin it. And the pain of heartbreak is miserable. So, why to falter?

I want my readers to stay happy in their life.

These stories are just a direction; every situation is different. But there is always a solution. I want my readers to find that solution for themselves instead of drowning in misery.


That’s a wrap, folks! Hit the like button and leave a comment if you enjoyed this interaction! Come on, don’t be shy and show some love. You can check out more of Urvashi, here.

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BOOK REVIEW: LOVE SUTRA: Secret to Happily Ever After by Urvashi Pahwa

36561159Publication date: November 4th, 2017
Publisher: HP Publications
Pages: 170, Kindle Edition
LinksGoodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5
Source: Review Copy

What happens AFTER falling in love? Is there a happily ever after or love fades away?
It is hard to find love but even harder to keep it strong. Sometimes, little things that we overlook matter a lot.
Through a series of short stories, uncover the secrets of happily ever after. Take a ride into the lives of these five couples and explore how easy it is to keep dating forever.
The Stories:
•Casanova’s Lover – A girl falls for a Casanova. Her heart was bound to be broken but will she ever find love again?
•The Rich Wife – She can buy whatever she likes, but all she needs is time from her husband. Is it her fault or her husband’s?
• Love Birds – Young hearts meet in college and start living together but more they get to know each other, more they start fighting on silly things. And then they found a way to solve this forever.
•Miss Belligerent – Her husband was an entrepreneur. As a few challenges popped up, she clutched her claws on him, making his life miserable. How would he escape the situation?
•Mr. Always Right – He considered himself superior to his wife, and did not value her opinions, crushing her self – respect. Will she ever stand up for herself or will she keep enduring it?
 

“Suddenly, something happened deep inside her timid body, and she got up from her seat as if someone was holding her hand and was guiding her towards this man. It was the invisible hand of fate.”

As the title implies, this book plays out as a ‘love’ guide with the whats and what-nots to a successful and happy relationship. It’s an anthology focused on the love lives of five couples based on different scenarios. There is a brutal truth and a nagging tinge to the stories as it’s plunged into the depths of Indian culture. But a quick read, nonetheless which is the best part of this enticing novella.

Footnotes at the end of each story with tags such as ‘diagnosis’ and ‘prescription’ are bound to make you ponder about your own relationship and where you stand in it. Overall, there’s a ‘love-doctor-is-in-town’ feel but I liked those subtle yet thoughtful touches.

A quick run-through of my takeaway from the characters and the respective stories:

Casanova’s Lover: 

Nisha is probably that annoying and unsatisfied love-struck friend we’ve all had in our lives making it even more miserable than it can possibly be. If you don’t feel that way, then you are her. (Just kidding!) But hey, at some point we are all losers who’re hopelessly entrapped in the magical prison of love. Teenage whims, stupidity, and betrayal in print – well, you know the drill. Even though we prance around with smart words quick on our tongues to dismiss such frivolity, we’ve all been in her shoes at some point. And don’t even get me started on Nishant because I know a bunch of guys just like him and I’ll land a punch on their pretty faces any day. (For the win, ladies! amirite?)

The Rich Wife:  

I’m sorry but Shobhit is a bitch, I had to say it! And Aparna’s dream sort of made up for her uselessness (I can’t stop this brutality, sorry). Shruti is the true BFF who puts on the cape to save the day and Shobhit’s mom is pretty cool considering she is the momma-in-law. The ladies swooning over the jewelry though (*eye roll*), yeah that won’t do squat for your peace of mind. The simplicity of the story had a lot to convey.

Love Birds:  

The transformation of Aisha’s character from a logical and independent girlfriend to a clingy one is understandable and human. However, in this piece, you might empathize with Mohit and the bottle-neck situation he gets stuck in. But at some point, it felt kind of easy how they listen to their friends’ advice and ensue with the patch up routine. Definitely seemed like it aided the rhythm of the story.

Miss Belligerent:  

Your everyday tale of an ambitious young man in the clutches of a control-freak of a wife. Again, common but a leech in love, nonetheless.

Mr. Always Right: 
My favourite pick from the lot because I’ve been in tight spots like these, at a very early stage in my marriage (And thankfully found my voice and didn’t let things go to shit). Something most women from the earlier generation can relate to, I think, all that oppression and ‘a-submissive-natured-gal-is-what’s-on-the-menu’ crap. Throwing in a little bit of monster-in-law shenanigans and voila, a gal’s brains just blows up! Wife swag manoeuvers and checkmate, you just got your life back.

Trust me. Sometimes fights make a relationship thrive.”

This novella is worth the read, it’s quick, breezy and bound to reignite memories of a lost love, a failed relationship or just your successful and happy marriage!


Note:

  • I received a kindle ebook from the author and my review is honest and unprejudiced.
  • The blurb is borrowed from goodreads. 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec

the temporary bridePublication date: September 4th, 2014
Publisher: Virago Press Ltd
Pages: 211, Paperback
LinksGoodreads | Amazon India
Stars: 3/5

In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already traveled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen.

Vahid is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother’s kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs.

Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

“It’s true: what I seek is largely romance, the legacy of a country where women are compared to food, her breasts like pomegranates, her lips like ripe dates.”

So, I got a hold of this book through a debut book subscription box called books and wishes. The minute I set my eyes on the title, my interest was piqued. Craving to read this provocative book with words like food and love in the title, I could only imagine the adventure that lay beneath my fingers.

Riddled with high expectations and a yearning for the love story to hit me like a cannonball, I ventured into Jennifer’s crude and scandalous tale in a dreamy haze. She gives us a taste of her vivacious passion for food and cooking authentic recipes. The first few chapters are a whirlwind of her extravagant childhood, a penchant for traveling and dedicating herself to cooking classes in her London apartment. Now, this phase of the book gave me so much hope and I knew that I picked the right choice for the weekend.

Minute details about her hard-working immigrant parents striving to provide a lavish childhood for their children come across as relatable, at the same time, you might empathize with a kid who just wants a huddled evening with the parents by the fireside and not a platter of gourmet steak. Then we are yanked into her accounts of maturing into an independent life at an early age and how her parents inspire her to make something of herself that she would be proud of.

Driven by nothing her manic love for discovering new recipes and travel, she embarks on a journey to Iran. And that’s when it happened, I just wanted to get over with the book. Up until that point I was undoubtedly intrigued and driven but the ‘very realistic and human emotions’ that followed, failed to captivate my heart.

But the description of the Iranian food lets you taste it on your tongue. An abundance of pomegranates and rose-water in several dishes mentioned in the book will fill your senses, making you unaware of your actual surroundings. The sequences where she cooks with Vahid’s mother, warmed by the embraces of an intimacy of their family, satiate her longingness to simply belong somewhere. At some point, I was overjoyed that she wins over the mother with her expert fingers and sensitive soul.

“Herbs carried in special baskets, bread wrapped in knotted, muslin cloths, thick stews soured with unripe grape juice, carrots boiled with sugar and rosewater, yogurt hung from dripping bags, its whey dried in sheets on trays in the sun.”

However, the forbidden relationship with Vahid sounded tedious and irksome. (maybe to me?) Their love lingers about its strained nature in a country with binding laws regarding pre-marital affairs. The spotlight on the younger man, Vahid seems to justify his actions towards Jennifer but I couldn’t move past his selfish nature. Not even when she says convincingly nice things about him. Although she claims that she was the happiest after acquiring the ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card (marriage certificate), I wanted for her to just get out of the country and end the impending insurmountable pain. It’s amazing how people endure such brute hardships for love.

This is a well-written novel with little to no flaws in the language structure and the food imagery will enliven your imagination to no bounds. Every time she records a dish, you cannot help but salivate all over the pages. You might even experience hunger pangs and the dire need to explore all the cuisines she’s grazed through. Pick this book only if you have an abundance of free time.

“Roon e morgh – the leg of a chicken, Vahid’s favourite part, which he stripped of meat with his teeth before sucking on the bone. Also a name he gave me.”


Note: The book blurb is borrowed from goodreads.

Q&A with Sudha Kuruganti

sudha

Sudha Kuruganti has been writing since she was a kid of thirteen, first starting out by writing fanfiction of questionable quality. She’s now working on a novel. She loves books, anime, coffee, chocolate, manga, Beatles music, and dogs. Not necessarily in that order. When she’s not writing, Sudha works nine-to-five at a multinational organization in Gurgaon, India, dealing with corporate communications. In her spare time, she loves reading, working on various DIY projects, trying out new cake recipes and blogging.

After a nerve-wracking wait of three weeks, here I am, posting this exciting and mellow Q&A with Sudha Kuruganti, author of her debut novel Dark Things Between the Shadow and the Soul: Fractured Fairy Tales from Indian Mythology. She’s a super-cool person and I feel blessed to have read her incredible book and fan-fiction on her blog. Totally made me feel at ease and she freaking watches SUPERNATURAL! (NEED I SAY MORE?)

Let’s dive right into it then, shall we? (Here’s my review of the book.)

How did you conceive the idea of writing contemporary short stories based on Indian Mythology and what did it take to materialize into the book you’ve published today?

The book had its roots in Supernatural, a TV show that I enjoy watching. One of the pivotal episodes in the fifth (and final season to the story arc) depicted Indian gods in modern day USA—and while I enjoyed seeing gods I knew on screen, the ending for their story disappointed me.

I wanted to see more of that—figures from Indian mythology in modern settings, age-old gods and demi-gods dealing with a life where just one little twist had made things different for them. The idea of mythology fanfiction fascinated me.

I started out by writing a story a week, based on a set of fantasy writing prompts from a writing website. I posted the stories on my blog every Friday, and soon I had built an audience. At the end of the year, I decided to collect the best stories into an anthology. When I started out, I didn’t realise how much work it would take to self-publish—and do it well!

The title – Dark things between the shadow and the soul: Fractured Fairy Tales from Indian Mythology is quite intriguing. What made it click? 

The title is from one of my favourite poems, Sonnet XVII from One Hundred Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda. The original line is from a translation by Stephen Tapscott, “I love you as certain dark things are to be loved/in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

I think it captured the essence of the book—something that’s not easily defined, a sense of mystery lurking between the known and unknowable. Given that the genre of the book is so fluid—mystery, thriller, paranormal, horror, romance—all based on Indian mythology, I felt it just fit.

What kind of research did you indulge in to write this book? 

I’ll admit that I didn’t do too much research! I tried hard not to fit the mythology to my stories, I wanted the story to flow naturally and not seem like a force-fit.

I’ve always loved stories from mythology, so I know quite a bit about Indian mythology to start out with. When it came to getting a story ready for each week, I would let the writing prompts sit around for a week, which is when inspiration would strike. It would all flow very organically, from inspiration to idea to a link to Indian mythology.

Dark Things is a retelling of the age-old stories from Indian myths and epics with a modern–day twist. Do any of the characters bear similarities to people in real life? 

Not even a little bit. Some of the stories feature gods and goddesses in the modern day world, but some also just twist the well-known myths themselves with one tiny change from the original—what if a hero from the mythology we’ve grown up with was really secretly evil? How would a legend from mythology have played out if it had happened in real life, with human beings? These were the questions I tried to answer with characters I made up for the book—none of the stories have any relation to anybody or anything in real life.

Plunging into the writing/publishing world can be an experience filled with mixed emotions. How did you handle it all since this is your very first book?

I’ve always wanted to have a book with my name on it—and since I live half of my life online, I thought I’d take the plunge and self-publish. It’s not as easy as it looks! There are so many things to get right—editing, cover design, formatting—and then, of course, sales and marketing, which isn’t a piece of cake when you’re on a shoestring budget. I’ll be honest, there is a sense of disappointment when your first book doesn’t do as well as you hope it will, because everyone wants to be an E. L. James or a Hugh Howey!

Then of course there’s that immense sense of pride at finally getting the book out into the world where it can go out and become part of someone else’s life—like it has yours! It’s a wonderful feeling when one gets good reviews—it’s great to know that something I created made someone smile and made them happy.

Juggling your blog and writing projects, how’s that like?  

Not easy! There are days when I come home from work and can’t write a single word. About anything. There are months and months when my blog languishes in the doldrums with no new posts. (Like right now. Eeep.)

And then there are days when words just flow from my mind to my fingers to the screen and I can’t write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. The challenge is to make sure that there are more of the latter than the former.

Your preferred mode of writing first drafts. 

With a first draft I just write exactly as I hear the words in my head. I try not to stop the flow of the words when they come. When it’s all down on paper, as it were, that’s when I need to go back and edit, rewrite, redo and fix any errors that jump out at me on the first read.

How do you cope with writer’s block? 

Not very well, I’m afraid. One of my fan-fics has been left unfinished for a long time now, and it took a similarly long time for me to get started on the rewrites of my novel. When I’m in the block, it’s like I’m struggling to walk through wet sand. Every word is a struggle, every sentence a battle. But you have to keep going. Whether it’s a month later, or a year later, you have to start writing again. And one day it will come naturally again.

Some of your all-time favourite authors and books. 

I love all the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, but my favourite is Nightwatch, because I love Sam Vimes as a character. Another favourite is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Coming to the others, there are too many to list—childhood favourites and books I can read again and again, like Daddy Long Legs, Anne of Green Gables, TickTock and more.

What do you do in your downtime?  

Read. Write fanfic. Watch a lot of TV. Read a lot of manga and watch a lot of anime.

What’s your current read? 

There’s a book of Rumi poetry that I’m currently working my way through. It’s beautiful imagery, but it takes some time because the words need to percolate in my head so I can really get what the poet is trying to say.

Are you working on anything right now? 

I’m currently working on my first novel—a paranormal thriller about an ordinary girl caught in a deadly situation. Here’s a short synopsis:

When Bhavani first hears someone knocking from inside her mirror, she thinks she’s lost her mind. Trapped in an unbearable home life, stuck in a dead-end job; she’s sure the pressure has finally caught up with her. But the being from the mirror promises to set her life right, and Bhavani thinks to herself: what has she got to lose?
And at first, everything’s perfect.

As time goes by, though, it becomes clear that Bhavani’s reflection isn’t what it seems. It has needs of its own—and some of them are decidedly bloodthirsty.

You can read more here: http://coffee-clouds.com/upcoming-novel/
~


That’s it folks, thanks for sticking around! You can check out more of Sudha’s work here. Follow and interact her on the social media pages: Facebook and Twitter

Note: The author blurb is borrowed from Goodreads