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New Year Giveaway – And We Remained by Asad Ali Junaid

So I have been absent for a while and that’s not only in the blogosphere but my college attendance too is running low of what I need in order to write my finals (scary!). I am simply enjoying the weather and lazing around reading, watching tv shows. But now that this year is also going to wrap up soon, I must step into my philosophical shoes and type in a couple of poems, prose and reviews asap!

If you’ve been following this blog or even browsing on and off, you might remember a book review I’d done – And We Remained by Asad Ali Junaid. Click on the link if you haven’t and you’re curious! Here’s a chance for you to win one of the three copies that the author is generously willing to give out to 3 lucky winners. All you have to do is spread word of the giveaway on any ONE social networking site; make sure your post can be publicly viewed and comment with the link of your post. It could be on twitter, facebook, tumblr or any other site.

This giveaway is open within India only. The three winners will be chosen at random and it will be declared on 19th January 2015.

Goodreads Synopsis:
It is Bangalore in the late 1990’s. There are tremendous socio-economic and cultural transformations taking place as a result of liberalization. How would these changes impact a group of friends in their late teens? How would they cope, find opportunities and what of their original identities would they be left with, after western ideologies are brought in and bombarded into their awareness by cable TV and new media?
Told through emails and first person account of events, And We Remained is a light and entertaining read of these friends as they experience love, heartbreak, prison, politics, drunken binges, strip clubs, sexcapades, US and Europe during their journey into adulthood.

About the author (from Goodreads Bio):
Asad Ali Junaid is a design professional in Bangalore working in the area of Human-Machine Interaction.
Junaid’s book – And We Remained – started as a story which needed to be told… and one which needed to be told differently. While he was struggling to get the narration style and structure right, he joined a three week in residence ‘Just Write’ fiction writing workshop where he got a chance to learn the nuances of and hone his story telling skills from authors Anil Menon, Anjum Hasan and Rimi Chatterjee.
Junaid writes whenever there is a compelling story inside him bursting to get out. Junaid has written several short stories and is currently editing his second book – which like his first one – has an absorbing story and is very different in narration style.
Junaid has been a resident of Bangalore most of his life except for brief stints in the US for higher education and work. He has seen Bangalore’s transformation from the sleepy town that it was, to an IT hub of today.
Junaid’s wife is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Their toddler completes their home while keeping them on their toes.

Now that you are sufficiently inquisitive about what could be in this book, perhaps participate and test your luck? Such growing writers, need nothing but an audience, someone willing to listen (or read in this case) to their story. I urge you to give this book a try!

Cheers!

- Meera

 

The Unpardonable Mistake.

Till today I wouldn’t have given a second thought to another’s misery at being mocked, at goofing up in front of more eyes than can count. In fact I openly laugh when someone slips, falls or jerks in fright. But imagine the plight of an individual who is expected to be flawless at all times and given a situation, her mistakes are the end of her career. The people she caters to, the platform that she respects have denied her the right to be human. Its harsh to say so, but why is it a lot more difficult to know people for the good they do than their mistakes? Why are viral videos those of goof ups?

As a media field enthusiast, and more importantly as a fellow being, it is not only alarming to know how cruel and purposeless people’s opinions can be but its a major buzz kill. When you are so passionate about your job and even the slightest mistake can result in a TC, you become so guarded that its no longer about the fun aspects but about doing it “right” at “all times” no matter what the situation. Having read and heard about the DD Anchor who is facing so much humiliation and disrespect because of her mistake, I think that all of us expect too much out of another. We aim for this image that no one really wants to uphold but we do it anyway. And when someone is unable to keep on the mask, we applaud ourselves for being superior, for not losing hold. We act to be perfect, we act to ‘survive”, we act to rise above all others. But who really wants to participate in this unending race? Were it not for her career in question, she need not care who thinks what. Cause at the end of the day, you’re going to make a lot more mistakes than you can keep tab of, actually more than the rest of the world cares to keep tab of. I know I hope to be a lot more supportive as a colleague, a student, an individual and urge people to flaunt their follies. Not for the fact of being human, but for being different and accepting it.

Cheers!

Meera

Nail Art – Coral & Aqua

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Meera

Book Review — Slightly Burnt by Payal Dhar

Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending me a copy of this book for review! 

Slightly Burnt is a story of two childhood bestfriends living in Delhi, who’ve been together through thick and thin. Never letting the words of the aged get to them, they’ve had each other’s back through the countless follies that mark teenage. Now that Sahir seems to have a secret , Komal is a bit apprehensive and seeks to confront him. But what she finds bewilders her beyond common sense and she starts to distance herself from the one person who knows her inside out. Amidst the drama that surely entails, her brother gets involved and soon Komal doesn’t know whom to approach with the matters of heart troubling her mind.

I hadn’t actually requested this book and was puzzled to find it in the mail. But the synopsis was quirky enough to catch my attention, plus its YA book written by an Indian author – something I’ve never tried before. Komal is your typical high school student who has her own worries about assignments, crushes, frenemies and so on. She shares a really close bond with Sahir since they were about five years old. I was actually envious of the kind of relationship that the author crafts in the novel between the two. Though they bicker like any two bestfriends would, they know everything about each other. The author’s writing style was very easy to get into and made me feel really in tune with their story from the start. Its a short read of 180 pages that you can easily finish in a sitting. Even though it appears to be a little predictable, its not. It is the ending that caught me by surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Believe it or not, I may even go back to it in between books because its a really cute and warm read. Unlike some novels, I felt that the conflict and the climax were drawn out appropriately and occurred neither too soon nor too late. The plot is driven towards promoting a liberal life, something not very common in India. That is a rather commendable fact in a novel which would be tagged YA. For people who aren’t very open minded, it puts them in a complex situation and makes them think; conflicting what they believe. Two thumbs up to Payal Dhar and I recommend this book to everyone!

Ratings – 4.5 stars on 5.

Meera

Nail Art — Golden Sieve

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If you look closely, you’d see the gold peeking out from underneath the magenta and green, hence the title! ^^

- Meera

Book Review — Hard Drive by Mary Todd & Christina Villegas

I received this book from Smith Publicity in exchange for an honest review. Thank you. 

Hard Drive is a heart rending narration of a family’s fight to unveil the truth behind the death of a loved one. Shane Toddman, an American engineer was found dead in his Singapore apartment on June 24, 2012. The Singapore Police Force were quick to conclude that his death was undoubtedly a suicide resulting from days of depression and anxiety. When his family arrived in Singapore, they found it dubious that Shane, who until yesterday was more than a happy to be returning home and highly optimistic in nature would ever think of taking his own life. With that thought in mind, Mary and Rick Todd, his parents, begin the tiresome journey of seeking justice for their beloved son. But justice in a foreign country is as fragile as a frozen lake. Particularly with large influential forces teaming up to disguise the truth and their cruelty. When the police, judicial system and their own countrymen desert the fight, the entire family is distraught with the superficiality of mankind. In a battle that brings forth clear evidence suggesting another conclusion, the Todd family will strive their best to reveal to the world, the actual culprits.

I was so happy to receive this book. But at many points throughout, it was a rather tear inducing task to keep reading despite the anguish and pain clearly etched out in Mary Todd’s and Christina Villegas’ words. Unlike any murder mystery I’ve ever read, this book takes the trophy. Not only because it isn’t fictitious but the extreme efforts put in by friends and family of Shane Truman Todd is so evident in the notes, website links, newspaper article references that have been included. It is well written and gives us readers a thorough understanding of what the Todd family were made to feel in their quest for truth. It is impressing and inspiring to know that there are families who persist regardless of the power they are going against. Reading the authors’ description of Shane, it would have been rather astounding if the truth behind his death were not revealed to the world. Whether it has been legally concluded or not is a different story. To have millions of people know the truth and have them fight alongside the family, would have been an immense source of strength though the difficult feat. The novel covers in a matter of 17 chapters, all the evidence that was accumulated by the family (even though gathering evidence is the job of the police force). I am ashamed to think that there are still institutions and people being controlled by money and status; who willingly turn a blind eye to justice for their personal gain. The book cover is made of a soft velvety material. Also at the end of the book, the authors have put in few photos of Shane through his life, which was so saddening to see. To know of such a story in depth makes one realize  how petty mankind has become. I salute the family for being so strong and persevering when many would not have. We all can gain a lot out of reading this book and I recommend it to each and everyone out there. Grab it, devour it and spread word. Pray for those who aren’t able to speak out in such loud volumes.

Ratings – 5 stars on 5.

Meera

Book Review — The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman

I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury India in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! 

In this fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Neil Gaiman gives the old tale a splendid twist. A far off queen visits the sleeping princess accompanied by three loyal dwarfs which gives the illustrated story a touch of Snow White. Encased in a tower covered by branches and roses, the dark magic that bid the princess to sleep is spreading far and wide. Swiftly many towns and cities fall under the spell with every human and animal in a deep slumber. Before the whole kingdom bears the brunt of one witch’s arrogance, the queen must fight her way through the wall of death which no other prince in shining armor or ambitious individual has ever crossed. While something devious lurks in the horizon, just beyond the queen’s reach, the citizens so far asleep, begin to stir and chase the group of four to God knows what end.

Initially it might seem like a children’s book despite what the blurb says about a “dark magic which twists and turns”. But I assure you, it does appease to the mature mind too. This being my first Neil Gaiman book, I didn’t know what to expect. He is a much hyped author and so naturally my expectations were raised. But sad to say, I didn’t see what the others were enthusiastic about in his stories. Definitely, his writing style and adoption of a sense of doom is characteristically used to build the plot. It was nice, a little suspenseful though not thrilling enough to keep me on my toes. However I don’t deny its simplistic way of addressing that “there are greater matters than meets the eye”. Read by children, it will surely help them understand that even if something is considered negative, it is worthy of other’s speculation and contemplation without blindly adhering to such tags. The queen is portrayed as being a strong, determined woman – definitely able as a queen – who even puts aside her wedding to address the issues of the townfolk. The illustrations were so intricate and absolutely fantastic that I spent quite a bit of time going over each detail. Particularly the printing is such (on glossy page) that you can run your fingers over the drawing in a kind of mesmerized fascination. Chris Riddell – kudos to you! I will certainly be keeping an eye out for other such illustrated books by him. Also I’ve decided to give Neil Gaiman another try because I refuse to believe that so many readers would consider him great if he were not. Its a short read of 70 pages that you can finish in a day, kind of predictable but fun all the same. Recommended to fans of Gaiman and graphic novels. I am going to read it all over again some time later. Final verdict being that I liked it moderately; just didn’t find it so great as others did.

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Ratings – 3 stars on 5.

Meera

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