30 December, 2015

Book Review - The Bestseller She Wrote

There’s no two ways about this book. It is an intriguing read from start to finish. With characters that are so achingly real and situations that you’ve heard from gossip vines – this novel covers it all in a careful and thoughtful way.

IMO: The Bestseller 'He' Wrote ;)


Master storyteller Ravi Subramanian weaves his story around the concept of love with all its finesse and flaws that makes for a rich read. Loving two people at the same time and falling in love after marriage are the two main concepts at the center of this novel. Love, lust, betrayal, manipulation and hunger for power – Ravi Subramanian handles these elements with gentleness and a firmness that engulfs you, keeping you turning those pages fervently.

What's the story about?
The story follows the explosive happenings when bestselling author Aditya Kapoor and ambitious Shreya Kaushik meet. Riding high on his success as a top novelist, highly secure in his corporate job, a proud husband to the perfect wife Maya and father to an adorable son Aryan, and a strong bond with his childhood friend Sanjay, Aditya Kapoor had it all. He’s the kind of person you envy and yet respect at the same time.

Shreya Kaushik is passionate and ruthless. It is a lethal yet alluring combination that could lead to utter devastation or powerful rise. Being Shreya, she does both. An academically brilliant student with a spectacular future in front of her, Shreya goes after what she wants driven by a ravenous hunger, consuming anything that can lead her there the fastest. Her friend Sunaina is grounded and tries to keep Shreya’s flights of fancy in check. Shreya is the kind of person you would love to hate but her charm would not allow you to do that.

Aditya and Shreya get off to a combustive start – and that sets the tone for what is to follow. While they begin as loggerheads at each other, Shreya turns into an overnight fan of Aditya’s works and is determined to realize her dream of being a bestselling author through his mentoring. Aditya consciously strays from his stable marriage to a lovely woman; Shreya’s youthfulness, freshness and vibrancy are an irresistible force that catapults him into a vicious situation from which there seems no way out.

His dalliance with Shreya causes him to lose hold over his professional and personal life. In the midst of this, Aditya senses a vendetta against him by someone. How well do you really know your friends and family? This is a question that hangs invisibly in front of Aditya as he races against time to uncover the crafty mastermind set against him.

How's the book?
This book has an exciting pace, thrilling developments and a nail-biting climax! There are small fun elements that the author has placed, one of my favourite being (spoiler alert) a character, Ramesh Karia being a play of words of Mumbai's ex-Commissioner of Police ‘Rakesh Maria’ – just exchange the ‘M’ in Ramesh and ‘K’ in Karia with each other ;) Read the story for more such nuggets. The only one point that I would have liked to read more about was Aditya's relationship with his family and son especially. This tender relationship wasn't explored much and I missed the warmth that could have been here.

What's on the cover?
The cover is somber mustard yellow with a female and male profile facing away from each other, an open book in between them. Love, betrayal, redemption are printed stating the outline of the novel. A statement of the book soon transcending on to the movie screen too makes it on the front cover. The back cover narrates about the novel along with a few testimonials.


About the author

Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bengaluru, has spent two decades working his way up the ladder of power in the amazinglyexciting and adrenaline-pumping world of global banks in India. For Ravi, The Bestseller She Wrote, marks the beginning of a new chapter in his writing. A significant departure from his usual fare, this is Ravi’s first book on romantic intrigue. (courtesy BlogAdda)

This is the first time I read a novel by Mr. Ravi Subramanian and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Need to scout around for his other books now.

Now for the technical stuff:
  • Publisher: Westland Publications
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9385152386
  • ISBN-13: 978-9385152382
  • Pages : 392
  • Cover: Mustard Yellow
Personal Overall Rating: 9.7/10

If you like a fusion of romance/thriller/drama then this is the book for you. It will keep you hooked and engaged throughout. Perfect for those rainy days or for reading snuggled under a blanket, with hot tea on a cold winter's day.

You can get your own copy at Amazon or Flipkart.


I would like to thank BlogAdda and Mr. Ravi Subramanian for sending the autographed copy of this wonderful book.
               
Here’s a trailer of the story for you:



I am reviewing ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Cheers,
Venice :)

12 November, 2015

Book Review : Khel - The Writings

I've always loved to curl up with a spooky movie or a chilling book. So I was all thrills when BlogAdda gave the chance to review Vishal Goswami’s horror book Khel – The Writings. I won’t give much away, just the necessary details.

Dare to play with Evil!


What’s it about?
Khel – The Writings turns something as innocuous as a deck of cards into a paranormal entity. The playing cards form the crux of the whole story. In this book, fictional Bhramdev, a hill station near Mumbai, is a pleasant location except for the dubious Haveli that everyone fears due to its dark history and mysterious occurrences.

Enter investigative journalist Sanya Sharma, a widow, also mourning the recent loss of her daughter in a fire. Surviving with a son and barely getting through life with the help of alcohol interspersed with psychiatric help, she is given a chance to investigate mysterious deaths that took place in the Haveli. It’s her last straw to hold on to for redemption – but at what cost?

Sanya partners with Bhramdev’s local police inspector Kabir to unravel the secrets and mysteries linked not just to the deaths she was asked to investigate but also the horrifying events that seem to follow her wherever she goes. Is there more to the Haveli than the local rumours? And was its Nawab and his family involved in something no one knew? These and more questions haunt Sanya ever since she immerses herself in the case.

Can Sanya turn the cards of fate around? Or do they trump an ace? Will the eerie writing on the cards come true for Sanya? Or can she defeat it at its own game?

What I thought about it:
PACE: Like I said before, a good horror story gives me an adrenaline rush. This one didn't really get me pumping except towards the latter half of the book. I found it a bit slow in the beginning, maybe the author wanted to set it before launching into the thrill factor, but a little more speed at the start would have piqued my interest a bit more.

STORY: I loved the concept of the writing on the cards. Really felt like it signified the cards dealing out your fate kinda story line which fit well. After reading and watching several ghost/paranormal stories before, I couldn't help feeling that there were strong influences of ‘The Grudge’, ‘The Ring’, and ‘The Conjuring’. Don’t worry, it’s not in major parts, just here and there. The story has a good element of intrigue and suspense, especially near the end. The script could have been made tighter for a more gripping read.

CHARACTERS: The protagonist, Sanya Sharma’s character tackles the supernatural events better than her real life crisis. She comes across as a warm, receptive and charming person were it not for her personal setbacks. She never gives up though on this unnerving case and follows it right to the end. Sanya exudes a contradictory sense of brittleness and toughness, uncertainty and determination, depression and steely will, making her an immensely human character which is great!

Kabir as the local police inspector could have been sketched into a more than just a sidekick role. His character held a lot of potential that was sadly untapped. He makes his mark as a stable guide and companion to Sanya as she explores the damned Haveli.

LANGUAGE: The book has been written in a simple and modern style. It’s easy to read with not too much unnecessary vocabulary. Two to three more proof-reads would have ensured a well written book. Minor spelling mistakes, usage of SMS language (e.g: Coz) and punctuation errors, coupled with a series of 3-5 sentences starting with same word drew down the excitement needed for such a book/story.

HORROR FACTOR: I would have to say, maybe a 6.5/10. Some parts were predictable and somehow the spookiness didn't quite come through. Again, the last part makes up for it. Now don’t you go reading the last part first!

COVER: The front cover sports a purple hued castle (Haveli), an ace of spades with a skull, and a blank eyed-red lipped spectre. The book’s title is written in blood red and white, with a horror-specific font.

The back cover also has a purple background with the gist of the story encapsulated.

About the author: Vishal Goswami is a MBA – Finance graduate from USA. He is passionate about reading and writing. This is the first time I read his writing and liked the simple and thoughtful way he penned down the novel.

Number of pages: 146 – I finished it in one sitting. The easy language and the adequate number of pages make for a quick read.

Genre: Thriller / Horror

Cost: INR 145 | $6

Published by: Frog Books

Personal Overall Rating: 7/10


If you’re looking to read a book to keep you occupied on a journey or if you want to take your mind off something for sometime, Khel – The Writings is a good book that serves both purposes well. If you’re looking to get spooked out of your bones, then this may fall short of matching up to your expectations - depending on how sensitive you are to horror. ;)

You can have this spook book for your own from Amazon.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


Venice :)

25 September, 2015

Over the Tipping Point

Why oh why
Do you put yourself through this
Every time?
They just don’t care
Except for themselves.
Tchah, tchah my dear
You’re better off
With someone else.
Can’t you see their cold eyes
Their domineering sneer?
Don’t you see the way they smirk
And in your misery cheer?
They don’t deserve you
But more importantly,
You don’t deserve them, you know.
So say your goodbyes or even better
Just walk away saying nothing my dear.
There are others out here
Waiting for your caring words.
Smother them with it,
Make them laugh with tears.
You may feel bad
And drowned in guilt
But don’t ever regret what you did.
Move on, kind child and do not
Ever, even for a second
Look back.

--

I think every patient, loving person has a limit that people cross way too often. People don't seem to value or respect those who give them their time and selves. Inspite of that, the patient ones give others chances repeatedly and forgive without even a whimper. This is for every caring, selfless person out there. Sometimes, even though it's tough, you just have to leave toxic people. For your own sake, be a little selfish sometimes.


Venice

16 September, 2015

Out of the Rut

I go through phases when I completely mess up every possible thing. My cooking reflects my moods and situations at that present moment. I'm normally a fairly good cook, but when something sidetracks me, I become the worst cook ever. Simple tasks are muddled and make the situation even worse. I think I just try too hard. Why do I do that? It’s like I'm fighting my inner battles and that destroys whatever I'm doing at that moment. My inner self is critically injured and the wounds show up in my actions.

Stuck in a rut. That’s where I am. Instead of floundering and struggling to escape, I guess I should stay calm, take a step back, and deal with the situation with a clear, rational head. Otherwise I'm just sinking more into mud. Exhausting myself and covering myself with more dirt. 

The one way I can think of looking at the situation from a new point is by writing it all down. And that’s what I'm doing right now. Writing about it to help myself out of this mess.



Venice

15 May, 2015

A Body Cries... No more

Taut muscles
Pushed beyond hysterical endurance.
Nerves strained to the ultimate extreme
The jagged splinters of will power
Shrieking in mad agony
Against the relentless onslaught of punishing abuse.

Hungrily reaching out for sweet delicate moments of old-forgotten rest

Failing in a micro-second
To meet infinite rest...


P.S: In our gruelling schedules of life, very often, we continue pushing our bodies against their limits. In doing so, we wreak havoc on our bodies and living, sometimes without even realising it. Rest is important, a good sleep is essential. We need to care for and love our bodies more, don't you think so?


Cheers,

Venice :)

12 March, 2015

Real Dreams

Sometimes I get dreams that are extremely realistic. The situations and people in them have an 'everyday-normality' about them that it doesn't feel like I'm asleep and dreaming.
Even after I awake, I immediately forget that I dreamed. I feel that 'oh, this happened yesterday or something.' Then when I check later to see what happened about so-and-so situation, I find that... it doesn't exist. It was just something I dreamed. It's nothing short of creepy sometimes, you know.
Like today, I dreamed that a blogger whose posts I regularly read, had posted a new one. I remembered even the title and went to check out the post. Only, it wasn't there. Because I dreamed it. Meh! :|
It gets annoyingly tricky sometimes. Especially if it's around something important like finance, conversations or arguments. They can be pretty convincing in the dreams. So convincing that when I wake up it's like walking in a minefield. 
I'm not sure if I said what I had said was in reality or in my dream, or if what the other person said was real or not. Yeah, it does feel like a delusion some times.
Some of my dreams feel so real. Like they are happening in an alternate life/space, whatever you want to call it. Thankfully, they aren't frequent so I don't get into much trouble. 
Ironically, I enjoy dreaming. They let me go beyond the boundaries of daily life. But, real dreams can take the fun out of the whole experience.
Have you too experienced dreams like these? I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Cheers,
Venice

01 February, 2015

Wa’l’king up my Spirit!

I don’t have just one definition for contentment, at least not right now. The little magical moments of life bring a smile to my face and keep me happy. Right from small kids chasing each other in the garden to being alone, each have a blissful effect on me.

However, one activity that always raises my spirit is - Walking. To the amazement of most of my close ones, I love a nice, long walk. Petite, dainty and slim as I am, they always joke that if I walked anymore I would be thin enough to pass through a gutter! That doesn’t stop me though. I carry on with joyful steps that are dictated by my feet.

Always one for adventure since a young age, I love navigating new routes to my destinations. My mother once narrated how when I was all of 5, I along with a friend of mine trotted off near the highway that ran near our homes. My friend returned sans me sending my poor mother into thoughts of me alone amidst speeding vehicles. Right then, in strutted little me through the turnstile to our lane with the merriest smile on my face. I reckon I had quite enjoyed the stroll! :D

Ever since then I’ve been enchanted by finding my own paths to places. Seeing new sceneries, noting the beauty in every lane, observing fellow passers-by, and generally enjoying the pleasant sensation of the gentle trod of my feet against the solid, earthy ground has always sent a soothing thrill that pulsates happily within me.

Don’t mistake me though. I’m not one of those fitness people who track their progress everyday or keep track of how many kilometers they’ve covered. I do it because I like it. The best distance I know I’ve covered is 3-4 kilometers from the railway station to my home. I’ve walked longer distances but have never checked the limit. For me, the passing scenes are much more interesting than the kilometers I’ve covered.

Sometimes for the fun of it I do check my speed though. I do that mainly when I’m not bogged down. I walk fast enough most of the times, probably because being light kind of carries me forward :P just kidding. Even so, when I’m in a tense mood I take my time and give full reign to my thoughts to run their steam off. Walking off my hurt, pain, or sadness works quite well. Mostly because I see things on my way that make me think how small my problems are, or I see something that touches my heart and makes me smile.

This one time, I was walking feeling all broken inside when across the road I saw a grandfather carrying his baby grandchild. The grandchild saw me, smiled, waved and chirped ‘bye, bye’ to me. That innocent greeting dissolved my anguish instantly and before I knew it, I smiled, waved and said ‘bye!’ to the baby, and just like that my heart immediately felt as light as a feather.

There are so many more instances during my innumerable walks that have cheered me out of my blues, reinforced my faith in humanity and carved heartfelt memories that I will always remember.

I know walking has many several health benefits too, including blood circulation amongst others. For me though it’s more than just that. For me, Walking is something exquisitely natural and pure. Walking is deeply intrinsic and special to me. It stems from inside of me, this desire to follow where my feet lead me and not bothering much where I land up – the world is after all round, so I always figure that if I feel lost I can always find my way back.

Know who else favoured walking for matters of importance? The late & charismatic Steve Jobs ;) He preferred discussing serious business matters over a walk - that was his walking element.

Do you like walking too? What's your walking element?


Cheers,


Venice :)

30 January, 2015

Being a Child AND a Parent

Challenges inspire you to be much more than what you think you are.

It was in the early months of 2010, when for the first time in my life, I was faced with a challenge so realistic that there was nothing else to do than overcome it. My mother at that time had unfortunately suffered from vertigo that left her weak and nearly bed-ridden to carry out her daily tasks of home. A home-keeper for nearly 20 years, she rested for most of the time; very unlike her bustling, work-loving nature.

With my father working hard at office, and a little sister still too young to handle serious housework, I took up the responsibility of managing the home. It wasn’t really new to me since from a young age I enjoyed fiddling around at home. Except for cleaning & dusting I pretty much handled household tasks quite well. What was new to me however, was managing my career AND home cohesively.

This was my challenge in 2010 - Managing a home, attending to my mother and handling my work. My mother’s condition required someone to be at home with her for a major part of the day. It wasn’t sure at that time for how long this condition of hers would continue. It wasn't a choice between work OR home for me; I wanted to continue with work and be in touch with all that was happening but I also wanted to be there for my mother. I knew I could do it, just how I could do it had to be answered.

Not before long, I came up with a solution that would help me handle both these matters in an equal manner. I took up a part time job that was from 9:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m which left the rest of the day free for me to manage home activities and look after my mother.

My days schedule was something like this: wake up, help with getting breakfast ready, get ready for work, go to work, come back, prepare lunch, go to pick up my sister from school, go grocery shopping, accompany my mother to various doctors/tests (on some days), do household chores, prepare tea, prepare dinner, sleep, wake up the next day. That was my routine for two whole years.

It wasn’t as easy as it looks written out here. The doctor’s diagnosis, the un-ending number of treatments, the innumerable tests, the not-knowing how long it would take my mother to recover, the infinite household tasks, juggling work, along with the uncertainty of her illness all combined to form tremendous emotional, mental and physical pressure - the magnitude of which I had hardly encountered before. 

There were many times when my energy would simply drain out with this daily regimen. I held out and put on a brave face for my mother and my family. My work was there for me at that time to take a bit of pressure off me. I made good friends there who were themselves mothers and we are still in touch even though we no longer work in the same workplace. They were my pillars of strength and I’ll always be grateful to them.

Here's me at my stress-buster workplace:



This period also brought me closer to my true love – Writing! If you see in my blog archives, the year 2010 and 2011 each have the most number of posts by me – 26. Not a huge number I know but stable enough. This was the period when I had the time to pursue my writing fervently. Blogging was especially therapeutic for me. It helped me channel my strenuous overload in a healthy and productive way. I even wrote a blog post about it at that time calling it Trainee Home-maker in which you will find a light-hearted but exact description of my daily grind at that time.

This was the period when I learnt that sometimes we don’t know our true potentials. We are much more worth than we think we are. Our true strength enables us to overcome our deepest, darkest fears. That strength lies in our will. When you’ve got to do something, you DO. There’s no two ways about it. 

Most importantly, the challenge made me realize that besides being a daughter, sister, employee, writer, home-maker and friend; I was a Child AND a Parent. It was a unique experience to be a dutiful child and a complete parent for my mother.

I am proud and happy that nerve-wracking as it was, this challenge brought out the best in me! I handled our home, attended to my mother, and also performed well at my job. It was never about work OR  home, it was work AND home.


P.S: My mother hasn’t completely recovered but her condition has improved, so much so that she’s back to being the workaholic she always has been (though in smaller doses).


This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus“.

Here's a beautiful video from Gillette Venus that encourages you to #UseYourAnd :




Cheers,

Venice :)

03 January, 2015

Open Plan vs. Personal Space-friendly Office

The concept of personal space is absent in most offices. Gone are the days of cubicles where you could sit secure in your cubby-hole and work away or unwind a little bit without having your co-workers having much knowledge of it. Now are the days of open plan offices where anyone and everyone can see every minute action of yours. There is simply no privacy and no personal space – you are like an open book to the whole office.

While it may be a great idea to have an open plan office from the point of view of more open communication and bonding, the idea has its faults. Co-workers, especially immature and unprofessional ones, don’t realize when they intrude on your duties. They harp over your head about this-and-that and of things that have no connection whatsoever to anything!

Besides this, several offices cramp everyone together. While you’re working your colleague’s elbow hits you, or the arm rest of their chair knocks into yours, or their mouse comes near your keyboard while their personal belongings creep near to your PC. It’s aggravating, annoying and at times intolerable to work in such situations.

The open plan also breeds an element of tremendous distraction. Your senses are open to your immediate surroundings. Focusing on work becomes a humongous challenge with the receptionist’s telephone ringing, clients walking in and out, seniors firing their assistants, sharing funny social media memes, etc. all pulling your senses in different directions leading to utter mayhem at your work desk.

Like in everything in life, there has to be boundaries set. An open plan office needs to make sure that while employees can still communicate freely and co-ordinate smoothly, they also need to be provided adequate room to perform well without external factors impeding their duties. Work performance is affected by the factors mentioned above and hence the demarcations have to be drawn for the optimal performance of every employee balanced with a friendly-office environment.

Since I’ve always liked Psychology, I’m going to be taking a slight bend here that’s connected to this topic.

While extroverts in the office might LOVE the idea of an open plan due to the immense opportunities it offers for interaction and communication, introverts privately cringe at being exposed to the whole world like that. Introverts gain comfort and are at peace when they have all their personal space for their own. An open plan office is enough to jar their senses and keep them from performing to the best of their skills, experience and abilities, to an extent. A quiet place, sound-proofed from noise, barred from distracting sights, and secluded from social interactions is simply heavenly bliss for introverts.

An open plan office does nothing but drain the energy of an introvert. Their head feels like a whirlwind or a tornado amidst the cacophony of an open plan office. Introverts need tranquility and breathing space in order to perform smoothly. An open plan office can actually affect their mood and make them feel deeply uneasy. It’s a very unsettling, restless feeling that crawls inside them in such an environment.

If you have introverts in your office, please take care of their preferences in order for them to work well. Sit down with them, ask them how they would like to work, make their work desks a place where they can adroitly perform the duties assigned to them. Then look back and see the satisfied smiles on their faces.

By all means, have an open plan office but remember that you have to make adjustments for those talented, hardworking employees who can work best in a slightly different environment.

After all, a successful office is one that has happy employees.

Here’s an example by Susan Cain, the renowned author of the best-selling Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking: Quiet Spaces where dedicated spaces are modeled into the office plan for those who need a secluded and focused environment to work in.

What are your thoughts about this? Do you feel your professional best in an open plan office or would you like to have space of your own to work in?

Cheers,
Venice :)