Friday, 30 December 2016

An Ode To The Year That Was



I promise you this isn't the poetry you were expecting. I promise, this isn't something you'd revere. But I also promise that each word, each goddamn word has a significance. At least for me. I promise they are all laden with metaphors- the lines and words and letters. And I promise that I am hoping you find something, even if just a line, that makes sense to you. If you, like me, always look up to the next day as a fresh start, a rare opportunity, then know that I am rooting for you!


I will do everything but forget the year gone by

The bags under my eyes became permanent
The bags in front of my eyes became memories

There were days when I saved the day
There were days I could barely save myself

I started off trying to break from my comfort zone
I have ended up with no comfort zone at all

My quirks decided to come out of the closet
And I embraced them with giant bear hugs as they did

A lot of friendships found their elusive tuning
Some other inexplicable friendships got their tuning redefined

There was a moment when I thought I'd lost everything
There was another when I thought I'd need nothing more

Semi colons became more important than full stops
And all full stops were actually commas in disguise

It doesn't matter who became the Lucky 7 as long as you got lucky with me
It is more than just a mud cake laden with chocolate syrup on a spree

It is the promise that its never too late
It is the promise that you don't want to peak so early anyway

Maybe, Maybe became the coolest millennial Nonsense verse
And Toodles became the coolest millennial goodbye

We Spooned some
And spooned some (If you know what I mean)

I stopped using filters in instagram photos
I stopped using filters in my words
(I am still shocked most of the times at what comes out of my mouth)

So what if this year I didn't get to meet Randolph?
I turned 21, with atleast 21 memories of the year to boast of

Reading between the lines became important
Because when I say I suck at something, turns out I actually rock at it

Like adulthood, photography and coping mechanisms
Like bossing and leading and bridging chasms

The conventional just didn't hold an allure
The unconventional too had a bad trip

Shitty skype callls got replaced by stronger Whatsapp videos
And time zones gained a sudden importance

I never once judged people who fed off bling
I still shiver when you mention that thing, the 'thing' 

I also stopped shivering from the cold of the winter
I learnt to stare at the ink falling off the printer

There were days I fell every step of the way
There were days I made it unscathed
(Okay, maybe this was literal)

I finally found something I love in the city I have hated for so long
Hating and bidding adieu to college led to this all

Creeping people out became a conscious effort
Body language analysis was just the tool

Solace was sought in cozy nooks and fruit beers
Most decisions were taken without even a dash of fear (of the page duh!)

There were more firsts than lasts
Because Facebook just wont let bygones stay in the past.

I found comfort in those jumpy jeans
and did things I should have done in my teens

I may have missed on some deadlines,
Some deadlines may have hit me right at the target

New likes and weird interests may have built up
Or the built up rage may have thrown up

Pendants and cameras and brownies acquired meaning
Meaningful days were spent bookstore-hopping

Books, my best friends may have frowned upon me
Frowns might have been my only Metro company

I might have been sick more than the past
The memories box may have overflowed, there might've been a blast
But you dare not tell me to forget the year that was

It may have been the only time I saw the dull gloomy hospital walls,
It may have been easily the darkest hour, the steepest fall
But you dare not tell me to forget the year that was


That's all, folks!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Author Interview and Book Giveaway: The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

About the book:
Blurb: Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

About the author
Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel. 


Interview:


First of all, I absolutely adore the author. She has been one of the warmest persons I have been fortunate to come across through my years of blogging. And she has written a book that makes it to the list of the most creative ones for 2016, so there's that too.
What I especially like about the book is that it such a bold plot, and to think that it is a debut!

I have never done this before in any interview, but I would like to thank her right away for giving me this opportunity to firstly, read her book, and now to interview her.
And while, I am at it, may I tell you I am also in love with her artwork, especially 'And so we burn'. It's on her website!!!
(Oh, and she also clicked a book photo, may I boast, exclusively for me? Scroll a little further to have a look at it)
Here we go with my questions:


Kritika: Let's begin with the most obvious, cliched question: When did you decide you'll be a writer? Was it a conscious choice?
Tiffany: I never decided to be a writer.  Writing is the earliest thing I remember doing without being told to do so.  As a kid I would pick up that crayon and just scribble what was in my head.  As so many authors will say, I was just driven to write by that internal gear.  In the elements that make me, there’s that something that drives me toward story.  I want to read story.  Create story.  Live with story.  I’m lost without writing.  It’s my compass home.   

Kritika: One thing about writing you absolutely love?
Tiffany: Falling in love with the characters.

Kritika: One thing about writing you kind of hate?
Tiffany: Trying to get a foot in the publishing door.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen.  I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine.  It was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published.  This is the narrative so many authors have.  The road to publication can be heart-breaking and discouraging.  That’s what I’ve hated.  

Kritika:   How is the publishing process like for a debut author?
Tiffany: I will say one of the surprising things about the publishing process is how long it takes to move a book through the publishing house.  On average it takes about two years.  Waiting seems to be a major theme of the process.  You’re always waiting for someone to read.  Waiting for someone to review.  Waiting for the pass pages, the galleys, the publishing date itself.  Waiting is a major part of the process and to a debut author especially it seems like waiting is all there is. 

Kritika: When did you decide you write this book?
Tiffany: I was twenty-eight when I wrote the novel.  It was one of those Ohio summers that was so hot I just felt like I was melting.  All of myself just giving up to the heat and melting to a puddle on the green summer grass.  And thus the title was born, which means so was the book itself.

Kritika: Why did you write around the theme of devil?
Tiffany: I didn’t set out to write about the devil.  I always start writing a new novel with two things.  The title and the first line.  These two things lead the rest of the story.  So while I never set out to write about the devil, the first line determined I would.  I never outline or plan the story out beforehand.  I like for the story to evolve as I write it.  I always say I’m surprised myself how the story turns out.  I meet the characters and themes as I go along.  In this case, I met the devil page by page…



Kritika: What was it like to sketch the character of the devil?
 Tiffany: The devil is a character that is interesting to develop because the devil is universal.  Every culture has their version of the devil.  What I didn’t want was the stereotypical devil of red-flesh, horns, cloven feet, and forked tongue.  We’ve already had that version of the devil.  I wanted to explore the devil within ourselves.

Kritika: Did you jot down the plot first, or did you keep writing as it came? What part did planning play in this insidious plot?
Tiffany: I never jot the plot down beforehand.  To me writing an idea down can cause that idea to rot and lose its essence.  Planning for me isn’t the key to my stories.  If you plan too much you can domesticate the story and I like to preserve the wild life because in that wild, spinning chaos, you can learn so much more about the story and characters.

Kritika: The world wants to know: Why the name Autopsy? Why!
 Tiffany: World, I will tell you.  I always say the characters know their names before I do.  It’s my job as the author to pick up the hints the characters are leaving for me.  The more you develop a character, the more hints there are.  One day I had seen the word autopsy.  It’s as simple as that.  I looked up the definition to learn the word’s origin and knew that this was Autopsy’s name.  This was his truth.  I saw that much for myself…

Kritika: Tell us something about yourself as a person? Any quirk? Any secrets?
Tiffany: Writing is really the most interesting thing about me.  I wish I could tell you something exciting like I wrestle alligators or swim with sharks, but aside from writing, I’m pretty quiet and boring
Kritika: (to herself) Ah she is anything but boring.
Tiffany: Thanks again for doing this interview.


And, here is your chance to win two eBooks and read the amazing work by this woman:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good Luck!





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Friday, 2 December 2016

Book Review: Hyperbole And A Half by Allie Brosh

About the book:

Title: Hyperbole and a half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Published: October 29th 2013 by Touchstone
Pages:  Paperback, 369 pages
Genre: Humor/Non-fiction/Graphic Novel/Comic/Memoir
Rating: 5/5
Blurb:
This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

About the author

Allie Brosh has enjoyed writing ever since her mom tricked her into writing a story to distract her from her immediate goal of wrapping the cat in duct-tape. She started her award-winning blog in 2009. Brosh lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband Duncan, her two dogs, and six pet rats.


Find the author here: 



My Review:

Brosh has reproduced some of the most endearing stories from the blog in this book, and the result is nothing short of hilarious.
There are a lot of things that this book is. A LOT.
It is a comic/graphic novel. Because the visual part is a huge chunk of it. It is also a memoir of sorts, because in a very simple narrative loaded with visuals, she recounts how her life has come to be. There are anecdotes hinting at the the innocence of childhood, but also at the silliness of it. And to add to the amusement, all these anecdotes are real. Even the one where a goose is an unwelcome guest in the house. (There's proof in the book, I am not biased)

The graphics are interspersed with short descriptions of what she calls 'Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened', and as if the illustrations weren't tickling enough, the words reek of sarcasm, wit and the kind of wry humor that makes you giggle until you start crying.
Crying, because if you have been in the situations that she describes, you know that the humorous take is a huge favor she is doing to the world.
Take the comics about depression, for example. I have never seen anything put into words that could accurately hit the right spots when describing what it feels like to lose drive when depressed.
Her take on it, through this enviable combination of words and illustrations is the most raw, accurate and authentic rendition of this condition. The way she puts them, makes you laugh and cry, inexplicably at the same time, and I, for one, didn't know that that was possible. Her razor wit makes the reading and all the time spent around the book so much worthwhile.
The endearing part is that her take on every anecdote is infused with a kind of subtle humor in most cases, and explicit humor in othesr, that you cannot overlook the fact that the book is called 'Hyperbole and a Half' (and so is her blog)
If you think, crying with laughter isn't a thing, read this book, for it can make you smirk, chuckle, grin, laugh, sneer, chuckle, chortle, guffaw, and laugh all the varieties of laughter there are. And of course, it is a huge plus if you have been in situations similar to those described. (Which, frankly is unlikely)

No doubt then, that this book was also the winner of the Goodread's Readers' Choice Awards.
A HUGE recommendation from me. So glad I read this book!

Links to buy the book



Quotes from the book:









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Monday, 14 November 2016

Book Review: All Signs Lead Back to You by Aneisha Brahma





All Signs Lead Back to You by Aniesha Brahma




2013.

As the final bell for the day rang on their last day in school, Diya Rai, had a chill run down her spine. The chill of not knowing what the future holds for her and her high school sweetheart, Ashwin Chowdhury.
So she does a preemptive strike.
She dumps him before he can hurt her.

2015.

Two years later, Ashwin and Diya, cross paths. Each holds grudges, feelings and only one half of the story that completes them.
Told from alternating points of view, through a non-linear timeline, this is the story about
first love, second chances and ALL the SIGNS THAT LEAD BACK TO YOU.




Meet the Characters


Diya Rai – is the protagonist of the story whose actions have always had terrible consequences for those around her. Diya is self-absorbed and never chooses anyone else over her own self. Diya’s troubled past keeps her from letting people into her life. Even though she’s hurt Ashwin she wants him back in her life years later.

Ashwin Chowdhury – is her best friend in school and later on, boyfriend. He is left heartbroken by Diya but when their paths cross later on, he realises he doesn’t want anything to do with her. He lives with his mother and elder brother and hails from a upper middle-class family background.

Nina Gonzales – is Diya’s best friend in college. She and Diya had met during their admissions and had become fast friends with one another. Nina and Ashwin end up competing with one another to see who is really Diya’s best friend!

Rishabh – is the quintessential hot, rich guy that Diya dates in college. He seems to be in love with her, but Diya doesn’t seem to return the same affection towards him. Nina hates his guts.

Trina – is the girl Ashwin is interested in. She goes to the same college as Diya and Nina, and while Diya dislikes her mostly because Ashwin seems to be interested in her, Nina is indifferent to her.



Aniesha Brahma is an author who realized her passion for writing at the tender age of six. She also happens to be the social media manager for BEE Books. Her debut novel, The Secret Proposal (2012) was published by General Press and was followed by When Our Worlds Collide (2015) by the same. She blogs at: www.anieshabrahma.com and runs an online magazine, BUZZ Magazine. She can be contacted at: aniesha.brahma@gmail.com. She lives in Kolkata with her family and her five super adorable cats!













My Review:
This YA story has been inspired from a lot of YA fiction out there, especially Paper Towns. 
This is perhaps why the characters are the best part, with their quirks and histories and differences. 
The story is a light-read and if you are looking for some thought-provoking YA, then this might not be for you. The novel spans across a handful of school and college years of the characters and traces their story as they meet new people, redefine themselves, define their relationships and learn crucial lessons. 
The heartwarming part is how they let go and hold on to friends or support systems. That, for me, is the highlight of the plot. The comebacks and actions of the characters are amusing, but there isn't a particular highlight here. I wish the ends weren't so loosely tied. 
Overall, the book is a fun, fast read. 





Book available here: 



Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Book Review: Deceiving Bella by Cate Beauman


Ethan Cooke Security and their bodyguard team return to action in Deceiving Bella – book eleven in Cate Beauman’s Bodyguards of L.A. County series.

With over 7700 reviews and a 4.4 rating for the entire series, see why the Bodyguards of L.A. County is a multi-award winning series.

Buy It Now!


New to the series? No problem! Each book in the “Bodyguards” series is a stand-alone title. Although reading the books in order is preferred, it is not necessary.  Each title features brand new primary characters and limited overlapping secondary characters.  Don’t hesitate to jump right in!

 
Isabella Colby has always yearned for normalcy. Now that she’s settled in LA, she finally has it. Good friends, a pretty home, and her thriving career as the Palisades’ top skincare specialist are a dream come true. Bella is content until she meets her hunky new neighbor, but her attraction to the blue-eyed cutie is the least of her worries when contacting her long-lost father threatens to destroy her happy life.

Reed McKinley is more than ready to forget the past. His seven-year stint as an NYPD detective nearly got him killed. His wounds have healed and he’s starting over as Ethan Cooke Security’s latest recruit. With sixty-hour workweeks and little time to himself, the last thing on his mind is a relationship. Then he bumps into the gorgeous woman next door.

Reed and Bella become fast friends. Before long, Reed discovers that Bella is keeping dangerous secrets. Bella may have the answers to decades-old questions he’s been searching for. Reed will risk it all to uncover the truth, but he soon realizes that the deeper he digs, the direr the consequences.

About the author:


International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers' Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on her twelfth full length romantic suspense novel.



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 My Review:

I'd be lying if I said that this book didn't surprise me at every turn of the page. (Actually swipe of the touchscreen, but you get the emotion). The story has every possible element to infuse it with cliffhangers: buried pasts coming back to haunt, old relations getting revived and new ones being assessed, there's mafia, there's brutality, there's strife for justice and then there's a resurrection of normality. 
The author is done a brilliant job, and the book is flawless in that the characters are well-etched, the plot is finely tuned, and the expressions are raw and real. The reading is seamless, and effortless, and that is one indication of the effort that has gone into writing it. 
The title, as intriguing it is, makes sense early on  in the plot, and the story is unique, unlike any I have read before. A breath of fresh crime-fiction, if you will. Never once was it fanciful, unrealistic or over-the-top. The characters didn't unreasonably turn a new leaf for the sake of a plot twist, and the revelations were life-like. 
I especially loved the dyanamics that the different characters shared with each other: everything was intense, whether the shared history, or the multiple identities, or the tension. 
The pace of the novel is the kind that keeps the reader on their toes.
The author has such a command over the plot and her expressions, that she manages to say a lot by just narrating the stry, leaving bread crumbs as food for thought, for the readers to contemplate. And that is refreshing, because now a days a lot of books over-do expressions, and bog down the plot. 
Here the plot is a champion, and the expressions lead this champion to arenas that spike the intrigue of the reader. 
Definitely a recommendation for ya' all, and definitely a signal for me to hop on to more of the author's works. 


Read an excerpt from Deceiving Bella:

Should we get started?” Bella gestured to the kitchen.
“After you.”
She walked in front of Reed, hurrying to the table to pull out a chair. “Does this work?”
“Yeah, it’s fine.” He sat down. 
She immediately draped him with the black cover, wanting to get to his hair while it was still wet. “So, what are we doing here, exactly?”
“Just a cleanup, especially on my neck.”
“Sure.” She grabbed the sheers and took her place by his side, sliding her fingers though his short hair and stopped. “Oops.”
His shoulders tensed. “What?”
“Just kidding. A little haircutting humor.”
He tilted his head up, meeting her eyes. “A comedian.”
She laughed as he smiled. “I haven’t even started cutting yet.” She gave him a bump. “Try to relax. I promise you’re in good hands.”
“Chop away.” 
“Thanks.” She combed her fingers through his hair once more, using small snips to freshen up his look. Silent seconds ticked by as she breathed in the masculine scent that was Reed. He didn’t seem to wear cologne or use any fancy shampoos, but he smelled good just the same. “So, how was your day?”
“Not too shabby.”
She worked her way around his head, finding his cut a breeze to clean up. He easily could have gone another week without any problems. “What did you do?”
“Worked a little. Boxed.” 
“Fascinating.” 
“I could make up something about stopping a bank robbery in progress or rescuing a cat from a tree.”
She smiled. “The truth is fine, thanks.” 
“What about you?”
“It was pretty much a normal day at the office—a second-session tattoo removal, a microdermabrasion, two stretch mark reductions, the usual stuff.” 
“What’s the tattoo of? The one you’re taking off?”
“A woman’s name. Genevieve. The relationship didn’t work out.”
He winced. “Ouch.”
“Triple ouch. Tattoo removal is not a pain-free procedure, nor is it cheap—and he went pretty ornate with Genevieve. Hopefully next time he’ll pick a woman with a shorter name or abstain from getting himself tatted up altogether.”
He laughed. 
She grinned, loving that sound. Did he have any idea how gorgeous he was when he smiled like that? She picked up the clippers off the table and let her knees rest against his as she leaned in and gently lifted his chin, evening out his sideburns. She swallowed, feeling his breath on her skin and his eyes studying her face. Licking her lips, she met his gaze. “You better hope I get this part right, or you’ll have to tilt your head for the next four days.”
He sent her another one of his pulse-pounding smiles. “You’ll have to help me decide if I should lean more to the left or right.”
Oh, this cutie had the potential to be trouble. Her eyes darted to his mouth mere inches from hers as his five o’clock shadow tormented her sensitized fingers. She took a step back and a steadying breath. It was a good thing they were just friends—currently the only relationship status she was interested in.

Did you enjoy the excerpt?  You can read the first chapter on my website, www.catebeauman.com, or you can finish the whole book with the links below!

Amazon | Kobo | Nook | iBooks


Source of the review copy: b00k r3vi3w tours


To get your book reviewed, read my review policy here. And then contact me here.

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