Sunday, 8 October 2017

Book Review: Sayni and the Windowjet Brothers

About the book:

(Sourced from Goodreads)
Sayni and the Windowjet Brothers is about the importance of finding your own individual path regardless of the pressures to conform to a straightforward, mainstream route through life. Follow young Sayni as she seeks to find her passion in life by searching for pieces to build her life's compass. Every child's compass must be made very precisely, and each one is unique. As each compass develops, its child can follow theirs and find their way to a life of fulfilment and purpose. Sayni faces confusion when the opportunity arises to settle for a ready-made compass from a factory. Will she grasp the opportunity to own a completed compass, or continue in her struggle to build her very own? One thing's certain: the Windowjet people will have something to say!

Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: FriesenPress (April 19, 2016)
Language: English

About the Author:

(Sourced from Goodreads)
I grew up in a small city called Guelph, and have loved drawing, writing, and above both, making stories my whole life.
Check out my children's book Sayni and the Windowjet Brothers that I self-published in 2016. 
I also update a webcomic weekly on Mondays, check it out here:

in Guelph, Canada 


My Review

The reason I love reading Children's books is that the words they contain are the ones that kids acquaint themselves with, at a formative stage. So it is immensely intriguing to me to see what the books are talking to them about. This book is a greatly satisfying read from that perspective. It takes a fundamental lesson of life, simplifies it to its very core, breaks it down into a fragment of fiction and presents it in a very understandable form: you need to get lost to find yourself. 
Getting lost is so underrated in the literary narrative, and to bring it to the fore in a piece of children's literature is especially a feat. 
Another very pleasing part of the story is the metaphor that the compass becomes by the end of it: it is your life. You build it from your own memories, friendships and love for each other. These things together, in a concoction guide you through the ups and downs of your life. So profound, yet so simple. 

What helps the story of the book is the illustrations. The author is a talented illustrator- there is absolutely no doubt about that: the colors lend an aura to the story, which is in tandem with the theme and the ambiance created hence. Again, the hues and illustrations are comforting. 

A great piece of children's literature that should definitely occupy more shelves! 
I would definitely yearn for a sequel to this. 

Here is a short clip on the making of Sayni and the Windowjet Brothers. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

You Are a Bukowski Soul: An Ode

...don't worry, but you are screwed

And you thought you wanted the yellow,
but you forgot you have a Bukowski soul

you thought leaving would be the solution
but you knew, didn't you?
that life is grey
so this pursuit of black and white is always futile?

now you are here
and it is struggle all the same
but sweeter, where the realities of an 8 hour job
don't make you uncomfortable
Bukowski said so, didn't he?

he also once called love
a dog from hell
and you cannot agree more:
the truth transcends time zones and geographies

but you are a hero,
just like Bukowski at the post office
lack of, and yet inspiration,
and so tragedy permeates your life,
for which the story
is under production

took you long, didn't it?
long enough to realise what it was, you were after
It just eludes you, doesn't it?
what do you think can cure this malady?

cure you say, is a far-cry
and bring in humour to cope
because you remember Bukowski telling you
to laugh at the odds
something about death trembling at the life you lived

the touch conspicuous by its absence
the letters undelivered
words unsaid, emails not sent
is the fleeting tragedy you can drink to.

but bottles won't suffice to undo
the evil magic of this lack
in five years' time

and you thought you wanted the yellow,
but you forgot you have a Bukowski soul
greys are all you need, greys are all you want, greys are all you will ever have.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Readers with miserable attention spans: the oxymoron of our times

I log in to my social media accounts. Scratch that, I never logged out.
So, I hop on to social media for my daily dose of words. There are reams of stories there: micro-fiction, nano tales, haikus, memes and flash fiction.
I will lick through some Terribly Tiny Tales, or chew some Scribbled Stories. Might swallow a lot of memes and digest some flash fiction. It should be no more than 200 words. Two sentences, abrupt and unjust as they may be, should do the trick. You can find word count more clearly embossed on your screen than your own words in Word processors and website templates.

Because reading is now measured.

I click on a link that leads me to an important piece of long-form journalism. But the first thing I notice there is "6 min read". They are telling me it would take me 6 minutes to read this. Well, dear publisher, are you so sure of the mediocre quality of content on your page that you know I am not going to hover over a sentence I find well-constructed? You know for sure that I am not going to read such a long piece if it takes up more time of my day than my daily dump does? Of course you do. You care about content, not words. Words don't sell. Content does.

Because reading is now measured.

Savoruing a book, flipping through its pages, underlining quotes that you like, making a note of those quotes in a special diary, dog-earing pages, inserting multiple bookmarks, putting up post-it notes within pages, finishing the book, going back to these quotes, reliving the story in snippets: the stupid old-school reader seems to have the luxury of time. I think she doesn't have a goodreads book challenge to finish. Someone will tell her about it. Or it will slip into conversations innocuously when she'll be asked how many books she has read this year.

Because reading is now measured.

And yet.
We are all readers. Our loyalties lie with words. But we are not ready to see pages wither away, the book spines breaking apart, the words fading away, the trickle of blood from a paper cut.
We are all readers, even though reading is now measured.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Book Review: Breathing Two Worlds by Ruchira Khanna

About the Book:

Neena Arya, a Delhi-born goes abroad for

further studies and decides to settle down there. Determined to be a 'somebody'
from a 'nobody' she blends with the Americans via the accent and their
mannerisms while having a live-in relationship with her European boyfriend,
Adan Somoza.
When illness hits home, Neena rushes to

meet her ailing dad. Tragedy strikes and amidst the mingling with relatives and
friends, she finds herself suffocated with the two different cultures that she
has been breathing since she moved to the United States. How will she strike a
balance between both the cultures as she continues to support her widowed
mother? Will she be able to do justice to her personal and professional life
after the loss?

Amidst the adjusting she bonds with an
ally and learns about ties beyond blood. On what grounds will she be able to
form an invisible thread that she has longed for since childhood?

Breathing Two Worlds ventures into
cultures and ethnicity allowing Neena to ponder upon her foundation and


Book Trailer: 

About the Author

Ruchira Khanna, a biochemist turned
writer, left her homeland of India to study in America, where she obtained her
Master’s degree in Biochemistry from SJSU and a degree in Technical Writing
from UC Berkeley.
After finishing her studies, Ruchira

worked as a biochemist at a Silicon Valley startup for five years. After the
birth of her son, Ruchira took a job as a technical writer, so that she could
work from home. Soon, she began doing freelance writing work as well.

Her love of writing grew and she started

working on her own books. After four years of freelancing, Ruchira published
her first book, a fiction novel for adults called Choices.

Then came the children’s book The

Adventures of Alex and Angelo: The Mystery of the Missing Iguana. She got a
thumb’s up review from Kirkus Reviews

In January 2016, she has published her

second fictional novel Voyagers into the Unknown. It talks about the quest for
happiness as the heavy hearted tourists travel miles from different parts of
the world to Raj Touristry in Agra, India. Return to their respective home with
a healed heart. This book talks about their journey!

In Breathing Two Worlds, Ruchira talks

about ethnicity and cultures, and helps to strike a balance via a fiction-drama
novel as her characters breathe two worlds.

In addition to writing books, she is a

holistic healer associated with Stanford Healing Partners and also maintains a
blog of daily mantras on Blogspot, called Abracabadra. Ruchira currently
resides in California with her family.


her on:
Website Blog

My Review (3.5/5)

The book had me at its idea. The metaphoric title seems just apt, and someone who relocates to another continent/country can very well relate to the conundrum. The story follows the journey of Neena Arya as she adapts to the professional lifestyle and embraces the work culture of a new culture while still keeping herself grounded to her roots.
This dilemma is as old as time, or at least time since travel was invented. But the point is the story was simple, lucid and easy. It is a quick read too, and the occasional quirks of India and the clashes of the culture are an entertaining element.
The millennial generation will have these lives over and over again, in different forms, so the story makes a whole lot of sense. The interactions between the family members of the protagonist and her boyfriend were warm and cordial, which was a welcome departure from the cliche.

At some point I may have thought that this theme has now been beaten to death and something more crispy is worth exploration, but the story, due to its simplicity, made me finish it till the end. If for nothing else, for the metaphor!

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Book Review: Minced Bits by Maneevak

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Author's Ink Publications (2017)
  • Language: English

My Review: 

Precision is the order of the day. Brevity is a trait to be revered. Succinct descriptions and crisp endings are attractive to a reader pressed for time.
Haikus are all the rage.
It is the era of nano tales and micro tales and flash fiction.

And with that point in mind, as the book blurb says too, "In this fast paced world where no one seems to have time to read a book with a precious tale, here's an anthology of micro tales for all types of readers. In a few words these tales will feed your soul in the modern way.", the book acts like a Social media page on paper: A Terribly Tiny Tale, or a Scribbled Stories.

A lot of the micro tales have been laced with that wit that makes it endearing to the reader. For instance, the book begins and ends with these tales, respectively:

My mind suffered from indigestion, writing was the only antacid available for me. And thus began my pen, spilling ink...


And my pen pauses, the indigestion I talked about is cured. 

It is this sort of attention to words and thoughtful messages that make such a book worth reading. There are many tales that have a surprising twist, leaving the reader emotionally evoked.
That said, there are an equal number of stories that are predictable too. There's an equal number of witticisms that seem forced as there are the ones that appear fluid.
What makes this a good read, is the fact that after an overdose of this genre on social media, it was surprisingly refreshing to read this on paper.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book Review: Hellie The Hovercraft Elephant by Carrie Mortleman

About the book:

Title: Hellie The Hovercraft Elephant
Published by: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Published on: 15th April 2016
Pages: 38
Genre: Children's Book
Rating: 4/5
"I'm Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and I'm ever so tall, I'm Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant and I never fall. I have fur that is fairy floss pink, and it's wonderfully fluffy and light. For although I am an elephant, I'm an elephant in flight!" Hellie the elephant has a very special skill - she can fly! But when she meets Queek the mouse, she learns that the power of friendship is the strongest superpower of all. Children will love flying with Hellie on this magical journey that blasts through fear and zooms into fun and friendship.

About the author

Ever since I started communicating with Carrie, she has been absolutely adorable and patient. Her chirpiness and gusto for life needs no explanation once you read her goodreads bio:
I am Carrie Mortleman and I know I can fly - I just haven't figured out how to do it while I am awake... yet.
As a published children’s book author & illustrator I have the most wonderful job of writing and illustrating rhyming children's stories. I adore the cadence and meter of a well written rhyming children's books and I grew up on Dr Seuss & Roald Dahl.
My current children's books feature the unlikely friendship of a candy floss elephant named Hellie (who can fly) and a sugar mouse named Queek (whose magic power is his fascinating mind and wonderful ideas for zany adventures with his best friend Hellie). My illustrations are composed of yummy foods that I make with the overenthusiastic help of my young daughters including jelly aliens, toffee space houses and a chocolate painted planet Mars. My books are delicious!
I am a proud Australian who is lucky to have lived in England, France & Spain. My 2 English daughters, my adorable fuzzy labradoodle and my mad Brazilian husband fill the house with music, raw passion and abstract creativity.
My home is now a sleepy little seaside town called Calafell which is South of Barcelona in Spain and I love soaking up the art and inspiration this country thrives on.

Social media:


My Review:

Carrie calls her books 'edible literature' because all the creatures and characters are appetizing. There's not an iota of doubt that the characters she has woven and mothered are adorable.
What do you look for in a children's book? It should first and foremost have the ability to glue your kid to it, second, it should leave scope for less interpretation considering as kids can hardly dig deep to that, and finally, to put across a point by the end of the book that passes the litmus test on the moral barometer.
This book contains all these three qualities, the first one being fulfilled partially by the impeccable and consistent rhyming scheme produced.

A slight quirk of the book which might raise some eyebrows is the fact that the illustrations aren't pure in that they are animated illustrations put across on backdrops of actual, real photographs.

So, you can't eat the book. Or, can you?
On the imagination scale, this book scores high too! All in all, it is a definite recommendation from my side to all you parents of little ones out there.

A side note: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I usually assess a book apart from the writer, but make an exception when it comes to this particular genre of children's books. It makes sense to see the writer and the words as a single entity. Carrie is a very warm person and the warmth and positivity rubs off in her work too!

Links to the book: Amazon | Goodreads |

Source of the review copy: Author

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

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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Book Review: Colorful Notions: The RoadTrippers 1.0

Would you give up your high-paying job and comfortable personal life to drive ten thousand kilometers across India? Just for fun!

Three twenty-somethings dare to do just that! While the two guys take turns to drive, the girl gives voice-over as they record their entire journey on a handycam.

Ab, Sasha and Unnati are ordinary youngsters, rendered special by the feat they accomplish. As they recount their adventures, I crave to live their journey all the more. They look at each other with a glint in their eyes, as if refurbishing those memories, as they narrate their spooky time at Bhangarh Fort, strange escapades at Wagah Border and Sundarbans, car breakdowns, wild animals, near-death experiences and highway robbers! It's nothing less than crazy.

I doubted if I'd ever have the gumption to create such experiences. So I did the next best thing - I penned a book about them, and their roadtrip.

Colorful Notions is a journey of three young hearts on the Indian terrain and into the inner recesses of their souls, giving a new perspective to relationships, love and life.

My Review:

There is hardly any doubt that the blurb of the book gets to you. There will always remain something charmingly attractive about the idea of a road trip. Or the idea of undertaking a journey around the country. Or the idea of recording your journey into something concrete. The plot of the book is all of these things combined, and more.
There was a sense of variety in the experiences, which also seeped into the writing, words and expression. It wasn't trite or platitudinous. 

At certain places, it was funny- like a Bollywood movie that's not really supposed to be a comedy but the cinematography could easily render it as one. The style of writing does not impose anything- neither the seriousness nor the fun- which is perhaps both a good and a bad thing. Good, because the reader gets to give his/her own mood to the book, but it does little in the story's favor to endear the book to the reader. 

The better part of the book, for me, was without a doubt, the journey and experiences. So diverse and yet so real. India, with its different colors made its presence felt in a travel fiction such a this, and that was a major, major highlight. 
The way it ended, however, was a departure from the way all the rest of the book was. I am still not sure if I liked the pace, but it was definitely a one-time read. 

[Review copy received by The Tales Pensieve]

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