Lessons learned from the April A to Z challenge in 2017

survivor-atoz [2017] v1

There should always be a post about lessons learned after finishing a challenge, an introspective view of whether I achieved what I wanted to achieve or not. That’s my motto for almost everything. That’s how one grows!

  1. Life will always be difficult. During the month of April, I thought that the month was tough. I actually wondered if what I was facing was depression—such was my mood. But then now when the 10 days of May have passed and I feel a bit better, I think I can conclude that life is going to be difficult. It is up to me only to pick myself up and move on.
  2. I failed badly at writing daily in the challenge. In fact my posts were written in the spurts of inspiration. I don’t think I lacked the will to write; it was more of the time and mood thing. Lessons learned here is perhaps I should stop wishing to write daily. This might be 50th time that I have failed at it.
  3. I need to schedule things in advance rather than writing them at the last minute. Most of my posts were written after 11:30 at night. I was in so much of rush to post them that I did not even revise them properly. I need to learn to end this last minute rush. It is too taxing for my mind.
  4. There is no alphabet which won’t inspire me. When I started the challenge, I was afraid that I might not find sufficient things to write about. But despite all this, I did find sufficient things to write about. In fact, I had to even select from the many themes I wanted to talk about. So, only thing that I need to write is the will to write and the writing instrument.

Overall, the challenge was semi-successful. I was able to regain my will to write again, but then I failed at developing the daily writing habit. The good part of it was that I managed to finish 26 alphabets in this blog at least.

For all the people who supported me and discussed my posts with me, thanks a lot.

Y=Young Love= Bookish Confession#25

My confession here is my guilty pleasure too. This is my favorite reading section in any book. The first blush of relationship, the time the love start blossoming—I adore those scenes. I could literally be heard squealing “Aww” while reading such scenes. I would smile unnecessarily recalling those scenes (People do know I am weird, ;;P)

And I am not talking about only the love that exists in YA novels. This is the love, the romance that is everywhere—the unsaid feelings, or the exploratory love(now, it sounds like the exploratory research.. :P) I have read some of those beautiful scenes in the “elderly” women too.

I rarely have any complaints against these scenes. Unless they are badly botched up, they are going to satisfy me as a reader. The only requirement that I have for these scenes to not be the scenes of instalove. Instattraction is okay, insta-hatred is okay too, insta-liking is good too, but no first sight love scenes.

Despite this, in my opinion, many of the Indian romance novels lack in the presentation of these scenes too well. I cannot put my finger on what is missing in those scenes, but there is something which disconnects the readers from these scenes. I wish our writers will grow in their skills to write such beautiful scenes.

L=Letters=Bookish Confession#12

The people who have followed my blog for a long time, or those who know me can vouch for my fascination with letters. I think this comes with being the writer myself.

I belong to the messaging generation. XOXO, LOL, b4, u, luv, etc. have been my regular vocabulry for so long. In fact I had to practice writing in full forms in 2011. Such was my addiction. I recall a time when we used to 1500 text messages free for 15 days after paying some amount. I am a person who finished those in 1 day (and no, it was not a one-sided conversation). So, I get texting, IMing an Whatsapping. I truly do.

But then at the same time, I am in love with letters. The letters carry a part of the writer with them. The messages are the quick way to tell something, while the letters are the planned ways to express, to speak, and to tell the story. Letters are not mere words. They are the culmination of feelings, a bundle of emotions, and a harbinger of the news.

I know this is romanticizing letter, but then also, I cannot stop myself. This is the case with the books too. I have to read the book which says that it has letters in it. The conversation via letters is my favorite kind of conversation. I am truly embarassed to say that the author has already won me halfway if the book has the theme of the letters.

Despite this, I have encountered some awful books based on letters, but these have been few. This makes me question my reviewing hobby, but we all have our guilty pleasures. Letters are mine.

P.S. I do get some cards and letters from my pen pals, and I guess they make me happy in real life too. One of the regrets I will have forever is that there is a letter somewhere which never reached me and which I will never get to read. So I guess letters get to me outside the book world too.

K=Kidnapper andd stockholm’s syndrome= Bookish Confession#11

With K, I would like to bring the most perplexing theme for me– the kidnapping stories and the Stockholm syndrome. The first time I read about it was in the book, a fiction romance or something. I ignored the word (no dictionary or internet at hand then).  Second time I encountered in another forgettable Indian novel.

Then I read a story on Wattpad. This story talked about Stockholm syndrome and how the character fell for her kidnapper. I was interested in understanding why and what was happening. Why would somebody fall for their kidnapper; the life was not supposed to happen like that.

Next came the book called Stolen: Letter to my captor. The book is written in the form of a letter to the kidnapper and explains how her feeling moved between desire and anger. It is a weird book, the kind which you need to keep down after a few pages so that you can think about what is possible or not. The reality and mirages blurred together for me after reading the book.

I am still perplexed with this syndrome. I have read a lot on it. I have read essays, heard documentaries, and podcasts about it, but then I still remain perplexed. Probably it is something which victims can tell better, and I as a spectator(or a reader) cannot get. Probably it is just an attempt to turn another “bad person of life into a good memory”, but I still don’t get the “why” of it.

I met someone once. Her story was unbelievable. She said she was kidnapped and kept captive. I met her in an online community, and she told me she was afraid for her life. She had run away from her kidnapper after 20 years. I was a reviewer for her novel where she described her story. To say I was disturbed would be an understatement. I had no idea how to help her, whether she was even telling the truth, or even the country she lived in. She was secretive, and I was actually busy in my non-trusting mode (One of my online encounter gone wrong in real life at that time).  That further enhanced the Stockholm Syndrome weirdness for me. As I read more into the novel, I wondered more and more about this “love for kidnapper” thing.

Stockholm Syndrome

=

The psychological tendency of hostage to bond with captor

I have no idea where this online person is now (her novels are all gone!). I do believe that Stockholm syndrome does exist, but if anyone ever asks me to explain the why of it, I will probably just shrug; I don’t think I can answer this question still.

 

F= Families, especially dysfucntional ones= Bookish Confession#6

You know when I read books, both fiction and non-fiction, the biggest thing that keep on recurring in my mind is that I am so lucky. I have a family that loves me, a positive attitude, a good job, a home, almost everything. And then I feel jealous of the characters of these stories. Their life is an adventure because they have something going around for them, something bad. They have something they have to fight against. My issues look miniscule before their stories. It’s like people have to face the huge sandstorm, and I get a sheen of dust in my share.

Similar is the case with the families. I have read about so many problematic families, so many dysfunctional families. My own family is pretty much OK when compared to these. I mean they do not understand me (except for my mom), but they do not hate me or try to kill me or try to do whatever bad thing is happening around.

And then there are families which are cross connected. The child of ex-wife marryin the child of the ex -husband of current husband and wife or something of the sort where there is no relationship, but yet that subtle thread of binding is there. My  family doesn’t have even such entanglements. Everyone is pretty straight forward. There are no skeletons in the closets. I cannot even trace my geneology like they do in the book because there definitely will be no records. There are smaller stories around there, but there is nobody to confirm those stories, and all of it just becomes a mere speculation.

Sometimes, when I am disgruntled about my family or anything, and I am reading a book with a dysfunctional family– I feel guilty about being angry for my lot. I guess it can be same with many of the people.

I will like to end the post with this quote from Chris Patten which perfectly sums up my confession

 

“Those of us who had a perfectly happy childhood should be able to sue for deprivation of literary royalties.”

 

I wonder if I should be suing someone for the royalties I am missing.

 

Alcohol: My Bookish confession 1

olThe first day of A to Z challenge, and I am all geared up. When I first sat one fine morning 5 days ago to think about what I want to write, there were no doubts in my mind about some letters. A was one of them.

A= Alcohol

Now, I know alcohol is not really related to reading or writing (except for the few authors who claim to write better when drunk), but for me, it kind of is. I am a teetotaller. I am from a family where I did not see anyone taking alcohol. I did see the people drinking and weaving their way around drunk in the movies, but they were just there. One thing that was always told to me was that alcohol is a vice: can affect the physical and emotional health badly, can impair decision and so on (lessons of childhood).

Fast forward the time, and let us come to the time when I started reading.

My stint with the adult reading started with historical romances where the “sherry” was ever-present during the dinners, drinking port was the manly things to do, and Scottish whiskey tested the true mettle of the manhood. I was amused and chalked it off to European culture. Then came American novels where again the bars and pubs were the hangout zone, and beer was the best friend of the characters. I soon forayed into YA and new adult where again the forbidden alcohol and fake IDs made the way. Even fantasy novels had their own version of alcoholic drinks.

The Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese, Italian, European, and American TV series have similar situations.

I was just flabbergasted. What world is this where people cannot hangout without really drinking alcohol? What world is this where the alcohol defines the “coolness quotient”?  What world is this where there is a brew that people relies on to”forget their sorrows”?

A= Alcohol= Bookish Confession 1

I did encounter the people who liked to partake alcohol during my college days. I was a party to a few of the people who forayed into their first sip of alcohol and told me that it tasted bitter. I have been party to the drunk calls, drunk confessions, drunk “amnesia”, and so on. Still, I do not get the fascination of the alcohol. I still feel that the books and stories glorify the alcohol. They showcase that the alcohol means friendship, being cool, finding the love,  while that may not be the true picture. They all showcase the world where the alcohol is the staple drink everywhere while it is not so.

I have been told that I feel this way mostly because I am living in a cave where the light or “alcohol” never reaches. But truly that is not the case. There is a bar that I can see from one of the windows of my house. I am a working woman who has to attend some of the office parties (I hate them– too many formalities and show for my taste). I know alcohol exist, and there are people who enjoy it in healthy (and unhealthy) manner too.

But still, somewhere deep down, I feel that this is not the part of my world. And probably that is why I will never be a good writer. I have written about the characters who partake alcohol, but it is all on the surface. I will never scratch that surface and reach to the heart which desires the drink so badly. I will never enter the world where the characters need to be drunk to confess their heart or to forget their sorrows. I might create the world and paintings of such people, but they will forever be away from me because I do not need to be drunk to experience the life in any of the forms.

I read the books and scenes of bars/pubs/dinner parties/solo drink sessions and all. But I am never the character in that scene. I do associate myself with the characters in the books: I can see myself in the victims, heroes, villains, heroines, and even animals. I just never cannot see myself in the shoes of the person taking the alcohol.

This is my first confession, a weird one probably, but the bookish confession nevertheless. (And no, I never felt the compulsion to take alcohol. I cannot even take carbonated drinks because they taste bitter to me.)

Dancing with Demons: A Book Club Review

Changing the house is such a pain. If you forget to change one of your delivery address, your book will go to your past house, which is now someone else’s home, and then you have to retrace your steps to find that one book. That’s what I had to do to reach this book. After 10 days of dithering and follow-up of the courier office I finally got the book to read.

I would not have selected this book, but then I saw the cover which said “Soon to be made into Bollywood movie”. And I was hooked. I mean I don’t want to watch the movie first and then read the book. That’s the most boring thing to do in the world.

My decision was right or wrong I can’t say as in all honesty, the book was okay types. Not too good, not too bad. Like that mild coffee that could wake you up, but then that’s its only purpose. The book is okay. I have heard many people telling me that they were riveted by the book; I wasn’t, but then I wasn’t bored either.

 

DANCING WITH DEMONS
by
Nidhie Sharma
 
 
 
Blurb
 
Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.
 
Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.
 
When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?
 
Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.
 
Grab your copy @
 
What I liked

1) Boxing Background: There are many books which explore sports, but this was my first book which explored boxing as the sport. I am not a boxing person, but then the book took me to those rings and made me see the passion of boxing from the authors’ eyes. I guess this was the best thing for me in the book.

2) Fast Pace: The book is quite fast-paced. It zooms on without giving you time to get bored. That was another good point about the book. I felt I was on a mild adventure ride.

What I didn’t like

1) Universal StoryTelling Style: I sometimes feel I just should give up. This style is not going to appeal me, at least not in Indian authors. The book started off beautifully without any head-jumps, and then by third chapter it became jumble of head-jumps. I was left wondering why the author decided Universal POV style.

2) Lack of Chemistry: The book lacks chemistry. Everything happens or is read in the eyes. The two protagonist do not talk to each other much in the book, yet they end up falling in love with each. Not only that, they wait for each other too when one is going through difficult times.  If I ever encountered a person whose past I don’t know, I would probably like to talk first. The chemistry, if there, is not developed in the book.

3) Meh Suspense: I cannot reveal it as that will spoil the book for you, but the suspense of the story did not really grip me. The author maintained the suspense about the story for a long time, which in my opinion, was not really needed. The suspense did not add anything to the story except for some pretty words and sentences. (I guess that was the purpose.)
Overall Opinion

As I said, the book was okay for me. I won’t read it again, that’s sure, but while reading, it transported me to the boxing world. Probably it wasn’t my cup of tea because all my friends have LOVED the book (Yes, loved in capitals). Sometime it happens, right? You cannot feel what others are feeling for the book.

For me, book was a pleasurable one time read. It could have been so much more (there’s a lot of potential there), but it isn’t. For now, it is the story of the boxer who is trying to redeem himself.

Three Stars
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
The Book Club introduces Nidhie Sharma and asked a few questions, the details of which can be found on the link. I liked that she is a filmmaker and a novelist and she is able to juggle between the two arts of storytelling. She described her book as the following:
‘Dancing with Demons’ is a gripping romance drama set against the backdrop of combat sports in India. It is the story of two fallen souls who must vanquish their inner demons to become the people they were destined to be. When the story begins, Karan Pratap Singh, an  angst-ridden boxer and the mysterious and volatile Sonia Kapoor are angry and emotionally damaged by their pasts and when fate throws them together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. “It was some night. Thunder and lightning playing, chasing one another like two furtive, carefree lovers, oblivious to the havoc they were wrecking. Sonia put her hand out of the window as the bus started to hurtle down the highway, to Mumbai. A sliver of lightning fell on the trees just ahead of them, setting a normal bush on fire. Then thunder roared again… Perhaps this was an appropriate setting for what was to follow…two tumultuous lives on a head-on collision course.”
This book explores if redemption is possible without forgiveness and also delves into the depth and unsaid connection that Karan and Sonia have with each other. In fact, Sonia’s poems in the novel throw light not only on self-love and forgiveness but also on the passionate and intense relationship that these two anti-heroes share.
“I know I’m not easy to love
On somedays there’s no God above
And maybe it’s a messed up world
Into which we have been hurled
And maybe I remind you of you
So Love yourself darling, to love me too”
Overcoming one’s limitations or demons is essential in order to fulfill one’s true potential. That is the real core of this story. The good thing is, millions of people find a way to battle and overcome their inner demons. So there is hope for everyone and ‘Dancing with Demons’ is about that hope. It’s about the light at the end of the tunnel.
This novel is a fast-paced story of love, loss and resurrection for both Karan and Sonia.  
 
 
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