Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Ponni's Beloved: An English Translation Of Kalki Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan

AUTHOR: Sumeetha Manikandan

ISBN/ASIN: B01MUHYI5A

GENRE: Fiction / History

NUMBER OF PAGES: 266

FORMAT: Digital

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author profusely for this review copy!

SUMMARY:

Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice and pure love.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The original Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthy is a legendary piece of literature, (of course it was. It inspired this translation and some more like it). I have seen the set of 5 volumes, huge books that have adorned the shelves of many bookworms I knew, especially those from the previous generation. The books were treasured possessively and guarded with care. They were often perused in parts, with people seeking their favorite quotes or lines or events from the book. So from a bookworm's perspective, I knew it was a very important series of books.

Though my mother herself was a huge fan of the series and this was discussed at length with me, the only detail I managed to scrape through was the rough meaning behind the title. The reference to the river Ponni and the meaning of the word Selvan together combining to make the title seem interesting and alluring. But beyond that point, there was not much I knew about the actual story. It talked about the Chozha kings - that was an additional piece of info I had picked up from my dismayed mother's explanations. Despite being around this books since childhood, I have not read them. This was not due to lack of interest or enthusiasm, but due to the fact that I had grown used to reading English books and was not sure I had patience enough to touch the Tamil books. The series required a time investment I was not sure I'd be able to give.

This was probably why I jumped at the opportunity when an English translation of the book was offered for reading purposes. The fact that it was written by an author whose previous works I absolutely loved - was an added bonus. The cover looked perfectly fitting, of a man's profile tastefully drawn as a warrior's pose. The illustration will stand in your mind when you know what character it refers to and which point on the story it is relevant in. The summary, of course, covered just enough to keep the reader engaged without trying to best the original. 

REVIEW:

The first thing that struck me about Ponni's Beloved, once the initial thrill and magic subsided, was that, I would surely need to refer the glossary of 170 odd words and phrases the author has provided. And for this book, I felt very glad I was reading it in digital format which made the switch from and to the story and glossary easier with just a single click. Special praise to the team at IndiReads for this. The whole reading experience was made much better. I also thank the author dearly for translating these words and phrases patiently, and not resorting to changing them in the narrative or trudging on without explanation. Their combined efforts have made this a richer experience, and that attention to detail is the first thing I shall praise about the book.

It is not easy to translate a classic (how many ever times one has read and loved it). Nor is it easy to do justice to the original. The translator has to work with a knack that will make sure that the book does not confuse or disappoint the fans of the original and still manage to keep it entertaining to newer readers who have heard of it but not read it. Though I have not read the original, I still had to see the thought and dedication that has gone into the book and feel that, in some way, it was the best thing that could have happened to the casual young reader who wants to delve into classics but is afraid of losing interest midway. It takes special talent to narrate a well-known story in an engaging manner, and there, I feel, the author has done complete justice to the book.

The original Ponniyin Selvan was famous because it is an intriguing tale of politics, betrayal, love, conspiracies, passionate affairs and the actual events that moved and shook kingdoms. Ponni's Beloved captures all that beautifully, and hits the reader's imagination in the right spot. The characters are brought alive in front of the eyes by the descriptive narrative and the author has managed to successfully balance the description to be detailed enough without bordering on boring or long winded. The events in the story unfold in quick succession, with many characters making their mark on the reader's minds immediately. The whole book is an enthralling mix of emotions in a huge jumble that makes it an unputdownable read in places.

I am not elaborating on the story angle as it is already done by a legend. Instead, I focused on making this review about how effective the translation was. I have heard say that in translation, the beauty of the original is lost because certain word plays cannot be brought into another language. Especially since I knew Tamil well, and could sense how the original could have been, reading it in English was a very enlightening experience. But I would say the author has completely allayed my apprehensions. This book was written exceedingly well, giving me its own supply of beautiful, memorable lines. As with many IndiReads books, and from the previous books of the author I had read, the English was fluent without trying to sound like jargon, and it was a pleasure to read the Tamil words interspersed with the English narrative, effectively hearing how the original might have been.

That being said, maybe it was easy for me because I knew both the languages. I have read too many books that included slang and words from Hindi and other languages I couldn't really grasp to know how hard it would be if the words go over one's head. But since this is a translation of a Tamil epic, it has to use the words and nouns as is to maintain the story line. The names and places cannot be changed, and the occasional reference to the exhaustive glossary would really help move things along. Strangely, even perusing the glossary in between did not ruin the reading experience for me. This book is one I will treasure very much. The goal of a good translation is to bring the book to a language and open up the beauty of the original to new readers. It must also make the people (those who can, of course) eager to read the original. Ponni's Beloved does both, and I thank the author very much for that! 

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The way the originality was maintained in the words and descriptions
  • The glossary was a lifesaver. Yes I knew tamil. But I needed it.
  • The story kept me engrossed throughout after the initial few pages
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • The words, names and places are difficult to follow at times, but this was necessary to maintain the originality.
  • The translation itself worked wonders but there were places where I personally felt it could have been even better. But these are few and far between
  • The book takes some pages at first to get into the heart of the story so these parts must be read with an acquired interest.
VERDICT:

Whether or not you have read the original, the translation is a must read! It kept me engaged enough to read at a stretch. More such classics should be translated.

RATING: 4.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sumeetha Manikandan is a freelance writer and an author who loves to write and base her plots on the tambrahm community of Mylapore, Chennai. She is the author of ‘The Perfect Groom’ that has been a bestselling ebook on the top 50 charts of Amazon India ever since publication.

An avid reader, she loves to read across different genres – romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, mystery, fantasy etc. A history buff to the core, she is currently translating Ponniyin Selvan – the evergreen tamil classic epic history by Kalki Krishnamurthy into English.

Married to film maker K.S. Manikandan, Sumeetha lives in Chennai, along with her six year old daughter.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle

PRICE Free for Kindle Unlimited, Rs. 150 to buy

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tips for Committing to Getting Your Book Done! A guest post by Lauren Carr

Tips for Committing to Getting Your Book Done

By Lauren Carr

Whether intimately familiar with what goes into writing a book or not, people are impressed with anyone who has completed the task of writing a whole book.  There are thousands, if not millions, of people who have sat down to a keyboard to start writing a book, but never finished it.
The first hurdle that most encounter is what I call the Forty-Page Block. It’s not always page forty. Sometimes it’s page twenty-five or page one hundred. Whichever page number it is, at some point there’s a block that separates the authors from the wannabes.
At this hurdle, many writers will simply throw in the towel and walk away without looking back.
Others will try to get around the block in this book by starting a second book. Inspired by ideas from Book One, Book Two may even be a sequel to its unfinished predecessor. Then, the writer will be hit with another inspiration too good to ignore and abandon that project to start another and then another. I once met a writer who had over a dozen unfinished manuscripts.
The Forty-Page Block stems from loss of interest in the project after getting so far into the manuscript. Maybe the writer has a short attention span. Maybe the project isn’t worth the paperless word doc it’s written on. Whatever the reason, when the book ceases to be new and fresh, the writer doesn’t want to work on it anymore.
The authors who have one, two, or more books under their belts continue writing even when it’s not fun. There comes a time in every book when its author becomes miserable and wonders if it’s really as good as she had thought when she first started it.
At this point, every author who has ever finished writing a book makes a commitment to finish it. I personally have more than one completed manuscript tucked away in my mother’s basement that I intend to never show anyone. They may be bad, but I had made the commitment to seeing them to the end.
Even if your finished book ends up being trash, you’ll be a better writer for having finished it. Any time spent writing is time well spent. Like an athlete, you sharpen your literary skills. You learn what techniques work and what don’t. Then, you can take what you learned while writing this book on to the next one.
Here are a few more tips to help you make it easier to commit to finishing your book:
#1 – Find Your Writing Zone
Figure out when you do your best writing. That’s your writing zone. You know you’re in the zone when you can crank out pages. When I’m in the zone, I can easily write a whole section or two in a chapter. When I’m out of the zone, I’m easily distracted and lucky to write a single page. Find your zone and use that time. Then, you’re on your way to more productive writing.
#2 – When in the Zone, ONLY Write
This is hard. When an e-mail comes in, curiosity makes you have to check it. Get in the habit of only writing during it’s your designated writing time.

#3 – Focus – Focus - Stay Focused
Despite your best efforts, you’ll get dragged out of the writing zone—often. (Dogs need to go out. Dogs need to come back in.) Here are some defense tactics:
  • Shut down your email. Get in the habit of ignoring them until later.
  • Turn off your phones or refuse to answer. I leave my phone in the other room.
  • Shut down the Internet if you have to. I know more than one writer who designates their writing to computers that have no internet connection set up. This keeps them from being tempted to slip over to social media or check their email.
  • Shut the door if your office has one/Go Off-Duty from the Rest of Your Life. Ask your husband to take over for the family for a while. At one point, I hired a babysitter to come into the house to care for my family on Saturday afternoons while I wrote. If you can’t do that, tell your family that you’re off duty during your writing time.
  • Use music, if it will help you into the zone. Not only does this help you focus, it also drowns out background noise. Classical music actually stimulates creative brainwaves. Do whatever will work for you. You may have to experiment. I have found that certain music will inspire me for certain characters.
#4 – Tips to Maximize Your Writing
  • Write free flow. This means just get the words down and worry about how they sound later. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar, you just write. (This especially applies to writing your first draft.)
Even if you know that the pages you’re writing will end up falling victim to the delete button, keep on writing. You’ll be surprised how much of it will be useful. During the creative process, that garbage may take you on a path to golden material that you otherwise would not have found if you had stopped writing.
  • Set easy to accomplish writing tasks. Setting unrealistic goals, like writing the whole book in one week, will only leave you feeling frustrated when it doesn’t happen. Make a goal of writing one page while in your writing zone, or some other easy objective: 500 words is a good goal. Join websites where writers inspire each other to meet the challenge.
#5 – Be Kind by Rewarding Yourself for Getting’ ‘er Done
When you meet your goals, reward yourself. Watch a movie from Amazon Prime, a new song from iTunes, a manicure, or a nice long soak in the tub. Give yourself an incentive to write and you’ll write more.

But first, you need to make that all important commitment.

Spotlight! A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr




Book Details:


Book Title: A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr
Category:  Adult fiction,  430 pages
Genre:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:  Jan 31, 2017

Book Description:


After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple? 


Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~ Add on Goodreads



Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 


Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Shades Of Life by multiple authors : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Shades Of Life

AUTHOR: Saravana Kumar Murugan

ISBN/ASIN: 9788193166659

GENRE: Fiction / Short Stories

NUMBER OF PAGES: 326

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This book is a treasured gift from a friend

SUMMARY:

Life is a supernova of emotions, a multi-colored extravaganza and a celebration of colors that carve a way for us to be "expressive". These colors often vary from situation to situation. They may be vibrant, bright and attractive, or even bland and gloomy. Nevertheless, they invoke the soul from within and portray the various dimensions of life.

Come and explore the various shades of life - from the lighter tones of friendship and love to the murkier hues of revenge and murder - of human beings, of how their personalities and their situations mould them into their real selves - in this anthology of prose and verse, from authors across the world, Shades of Life.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

This book contained stories by many of my friends. And naturally I was more than interested to read this anthology. This book belongs to that category where I am naturally interested so the summary and book cover influence my opinion to a certain extent. They are not the deciding factors. But still, the cover is one of the most beautiful I'd ever seen, and very apt for the anthology. There was something about the subtle styling of the cover that attracted me immediately. The summary itself was simple and to the point, not focusing on any particular point or story.

Thankfully, the suggestion that 'shades of life' might include anything from friendship to revenge and how situations mould people hopefully will make the set of tales realistic and relatable.

REVIEW:

Maybe because this book was special because I'd wanted to read it for some time now, or because it was sent to me by a very dear friend with a personalised note, I loved and savoured it for some time before I actually began reading. And once I wanted to begin, I had to decide on where to begin (there was no doubt about what the first story I read would be! I meant the rest) and how to proceed reading the book. Since I had to begin somewhere in the middle of the book, I decided to proceed with it randomly, reading the stories and poems by names I knew, names I recognised and titles that caught my interest and attention. As I crossed off each name in the index with a penciled check mark, I carefully wrote down what I felt while reading the particular piece of work, in a single phrase.

The book was not a conventional easy read. Some of the stories were emotionally written, focusing on bringing out the emotions rather than finding closure. Some were more focused on bringing the whole thing towards a conclusion. No matter what they focused on, each of the stories in some way were very relevant to the theme. I have seen anthologies were it is difficult to identify the central theme unless it is explicitly mentioned. Shades Of Life thankfully is not in that set. The stories and poems have a lilting quality that might give you an unexpected surprise be it in some dialogue or one defining line of verse, things that might change your perception. But these instances are rare, because most of the time, the jolt of an impact is missing.

The book works because it really is a varied palette of emotions. No two stories are similar or feel fake. They are very close to reality, talking about the ordinary every day emotions that everyone will relate with. Each of the stories and poems focus on things that every human heart feels, making sure to never veer towards surrealism or unimaginably twisted realities. But the book falters in two major areas (not mentioning its obvious length that is more than average). The language in many stories is not really the best, with some stories having glaring errors. Though the book is interesting as a whole, I could catch neither the point nor the purpose of some of the stories. They lacked the twists and turns that would have made them more interesting and infinitely more enjoyable.

This was probably the reason why I took a long time to read all the stories in the book. Despite being about a very relatable concept, with a theme anyone could understand and identify with, the book felt like a drag in many places. There were a tad too many items in the book, not all of them making a lasting impression or a great impact in my mind. With that said, the book is surely an interesting addition to any collection, mainly because it presents a variety of emotions and stays true to the theme. The book will take you some time to read fully, but it surely is worth a buy for the rare but powerful gems it holds in its collections.

Some of the stories are especially pulled down by unimpressive language and glaring typos. Few others seemed like they were trying to sound important by using a word or phrase that did not sit well with the other paragraphs and felt like it was inserted as an afterthought. The book could have been made much, much better by proper editing and good language. I do not have any major complaints with the book as is, but it felt like a movie that is longer than average with some scenes that need not have made the cut, harsh though it may sound. It is better to remember that this anthology is a collection of stories that were submitted from readers across the country when a nationwide contest was announced.

I have a few personal favorites I could quote from, but I shall refrain going in depth into that mainly because I do not want to do the book an injustice by picking out very few stories from the vast collection that it is. Maybe, just maybe, I will read it all again, when I obviously go back to see my favorites, and as I peruse through a particular story or poem, something else interesting will jump out at me. The book, in that regard, is capable of providing such surprises.


WHAT I LIKED:
  • The theme of the book - it had a lot of potential and made an instant connection
  • The stories and the poems were very relatable. They also matched the theme very well, and did justice to it.
  • The cover requires a special mention. Be it in the watercolors, the circle of life (implied) or the colorful butterflies, there was something really alluring about it.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Some stories lacked any special impact and left the reader in me wanting more.
  • The book needs better language and good editing. That could have completely changed my opinion about the book.
  • The collection felt longer than average, an unfortunate occurence for an anthology where it is hard to decide which story stays and which goes!
VERDICT:

The book is a unique collection about a very beautiful, relatable theme. Definitely an interesting addition to every book lover's collection.

RATING: 3.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The book is an anthology with multiple authors. More information about the authors can be had from Goodreads.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback

PRICE Rs. 249 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

RM EXCLUSIVE!! Interview with Aditti Gaur, author of Adhira: Love Lost & Found

READERS MUSE: Hello Aditti, thank you for consenting to answer questions for Readers Muse. I am so excited to begin!

ADITTI GAUR: Hey! Thanks for having me for your blog, it’s indeed my pleasure!

Who is Adhira?

Adhira is the soul of every single caring heart. She resides in you, me and everyone. She has a very positive attitude towards her life. She lives life to the fullest without expecting anything from anyone and that is what makes her stand out. You will find different shades of her personality in every one. You just have to look at her with a positive vision. She is caring, compassionate & clement but at the same time unfair to herself. She believes only in giving and sometimes it makes us feel she is beyond human but such people do exist in this world. They not only live for others but actually die for others too. And Adhira is one such person, she can die for you. Sounds inhuman – again? I know, but this is what makes her unique and loved by everyone.

From the book, I learn that you have a lot of interest towards music. Please tell me more about that!

Yes. I love music a lot. It’s inseparable from my soul and I cannot even think of any single hour spent without music. Music encourages me, inspires me to write. It motivates me and fills me up with positive thoughts.

Was there one defining moment when you started writing Adhira?

I have no idea since when this story started knitting itself in my mind. Whenever anyone asks me this question, I have no concrete answer. I think I lived this story, it was nurturing within my soul since I started understanding about relationships. I always had a deep fascination towards intense and mature love-stories and that is how all this started. One fine day, I shared the initial idea of Adhira’s story with my husband and he suggested I should write it out. At first, we hadn’t planned to publish it but with time, when he read the entire manuscript, he urged me to get it published as a full-fledged book. That is how this book ‘Adhira’ came into existence.

What do you think are the three most important things people should value in life?

I think people should value themselves first. Because only if you love yourself, can you love others! Loving yourself gives your life a positive attitude towards everything you do and you eventually fall in love with everything by having that positivity in your heart. Secondly, most importantly, value the people who care for you. We should always value them, be it in our family or friends because they are the ones who trusted us when we are nothing.

Who or what inspired the title and the tagline of the book?

After completing the story, I started to search for a suitable title for the book. I searched a lot but nothing suited the book better than the name ‘Adhira’ itself. Adhira, in Hindu mythology means ‘restless’ No other title can justify the life of Adhira better than her name itself. So, I ended up putting her name as a title with a tagline ‘Love: Lost & Found’ which reflects the events of her life.

How did you choose to name your characters? And where they modeled on anyone you knew?

Adhira as a name belonged to me. My mother named me Adhira when I was 5 but she changed it because many people told her that the meaning of this name is not good for any child. As I grew up, I got to know about it and since then this name stuck in my mind. I have developed a liking towards this name and that is why I chose to name my first female protagonist – Adhira.

Another character from the book is modeled on someone whom I follow whole heartedly. Shekhar – his name and character is inspired (in parts) by the singer ‘Shekhar Ravjiani’. I am a huge fan of his voice and when I wanted to write about a character with similar characteristics, I penned down the imaginary character of Shekhar for my Adhira. Although, I have just taken the liberties in naming and the profession, the imaginary Shekhar is only my tribute to the original, and the life events are in no way real.

Apart from these two, all the characters’ names are fictional and a product of my imagination.

If you want readers to pick Adhira up, what would you say to convince them?

The only words I have to say to them are… If you want to feel love without getting mushy, go read Adhira. This is not just another love-story, this is much more than you can ever expect from love-stories.

Tell us about the sequel you are planning! (This is an RM exclusive, dear readers!)

Yes, I am writing Adhira’s sequel with haste. The story in the first book is incomplete. In ‘Adhira… Love: Lost & Found’ we talked about her disease. But the further process and her struggles (mainly with treatments) will be shown in its sequel. As this is a very sensitive topic to write about, I wanted to be fully aware about the pros & cons of the treatment methods.  I have done complete research on this disease ‘Bone marrow Aplasia’ and now I am meeting few specialists and doctors who can enhance my knowledge and can give me a practical view in addition to my research.

For now, all I can say is, if you loved Adhira as a novel or as a person in the first book, you would fall in love with her all over again in the sequel.

What do you take back from Adhira?

Adhira is my whole identity. She has become an inseparable part of me. She taught me how to keep calm in adverse situations, to tackle everything in life with positivity. Now, when someone asks me my name, I subconsciously answer them ‘Adhira’. *laughs* I know it’s funny but it actually happened with me many times. This is the effect Adhira has on me.

Can you share one memorable moment you had while crafting Adhira? As a Readers Muse exclusive?

There are many memorable moments and most of them happened during the editing process. I still cherish the 4 AM chats we had – discussing every aspect of the story in detail. Both me and my editor have many memorable moments but I will share my favorite here, the one thing which I can never forget. While talking about Shekhar’s character for one important scene, my editor mistakenly mentioned an image just the opposite of what I’d imagined about him. Her descriptions were so different to how I’d imagined Shekhar would be, but to our surprise it fit accurately to his personality. While editing one intense scene, Dhivya mentioned about ‘dimples’ on Shekhar’s face, which I never wrote or thought of at all. When she confessed that she’d always imagined Shekhar with dimples, I was wondering how the image can be so different. While re-reading the entire scene sequence I came to this change (the one she’d inserted) and burst out laughing because I’ve never ever imagine that she would go for this small and cute detail of the person she never saw in her life. The whole reason behind this shocking laugh was also that I knew she hadn’t seen Shekhar Ravjiani in real or in any picture. In-fact, I also haven’t noticed this detail in any of his picture, so I was not aware of this. This slight change in mid of the intense scene made us both laugh to the core. We still cherish this memory.

READERS MUSE thanks Aditti for her candid and interesting answers!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Guest Post by Rubina Ramesh, author of Knitted Tales

Readers Muse:

How did you choose the title for this book? (Was there a particular prompt or was it out of the blue?)

Rubina Ramesh:

Hi Dhivya,

Thanks for this lovely question. Knitted Tales was not my first choice in terms of ‘title’ and I had decided to call it “Someone’s Always Watching”. SAW, the acronym for the title would have suited very well with the group I belonged to in Wrimo India. It was called SAW and my title would have been a dedication to the whole group.

As I got all my stories together, I found that most of them belonged to a different genre. The title would have been apt if most of the stories were horror or psychological. But a few stories were a complete diversification from the title. Moreover, I didn’t have a theme. I just write what came to my heart and how my mood was at that particular moment. Thus, the subtitle, “a collection of emotions”. In fact, they were like patches, that are joined together to make a huge quilt. Knitted. I had knitted my emotional tales in a similar manner. :)


I feel the title of a story says a lot about the relationship between an author and her stories. Almost like the first sound that comes out of the mouth of a baby. The name that first comes to my heart, I name my stories like that. And you know Dhivya, here is one thing I don’t think I have even thought about until I started pondering over your question- I become attached to the titles of my story. My titles are decided much before I start compiling. But both my books Finding the Angel and Knitted Tales had to fight with titles like You Stole my heart and Someone’s Always Watching – I even wrote the names on scraps and picked one. It was Knitted Tales. I still fought against it but it slowly made a place in my heart and I just couldn’t accept any other name. We writers are so weird, no?

I thank the author for her brilliant and thoughtful answer! 

Knitted Tales by Rubina Ramesh : A Review




KNITTED TALES:
A Collection of Emotions
by



Blurb

What forces an innocent girl to become a sex symbol? Her desires? Or cruel fate? 

Is a lifetime enough—for avenging a betrayal? How do you hide secrets that never stopped haunting you? 

Can vengeance and secrets of your past devastate your present? How can long-buried crimes of yours suddenly raise their head? Can sinning be saving?

Is your spouse your soulmate? What if they never understood your feelings? Can you still live with them?

Lastly, does life give only two options? Live or die? What if there is a third?

In her debut anthology, Rubina Ramesh tries to find answers to these questions that are often from the heart and yet makes the mind ponder over the solution. Or is it the other way round? Either way, Knitted Tales is a bouquet of emotions that is bound to touch both your head and your heart.


FIRST IMPRESSION:

The Knitted Tales by Rubina Ramesh is a much anticipated book and I was too eager to read it. I thank the author for providing me with the review copy. The cover looked stunning and requires a special mention. The summary and the tagline of the story were only additional factors that made me want to read the book.

REVIEW:

Before I present a overall review, I would like to talk about each tale in the book because giving a generalised collective opinion would not do justice to this book of tales with completely different flavours.

A secret in their closet - one of the best beginnings a story could hope for, and a really imaginative tale with paranormal elements. The ending was especially chilling and I would remember this tale for a long time to come.

Betrayal - another thriller that plays well with the readers' perspectives. A well written tale with an ending I didn't really foresee, despite understanding the setting from the beginning.

Chiclet- She was showing us a mirror of reality and we did not like what we saw.

A simple story about the never ending menace of bullying and the most effective way to combat it. A tale that questions the parents' reactions to their children's experiences in school and how they become the advocates of the very things they seem to fight against.

Forgive me, for I have sinned

If silence had a sound of its own, then there would be a cacophony of screams.

A different kind of tale that talks in depth about emotions and the memories of the past haunting the soul. Loved it for the writing and the letter included in between.

Lolita

Some memories are like the unwanted dandelions in a garden. Unwanted yet stubbornly creeping back, even when resolutely cut every week.

A heart touching 'behind the scenes' tale of an actress. The story impressed me with the style and the way it described the events in metaphors. Brilliantly woven.

No regrets - the classic tale with the twist in the end. Talks about the nuances of marriage and how conforming to standards does not always translate into being the best. This tale wins appreciation for being a subtle reminder that an outwardly 'perfect' marriage is not always a happy one.

SuvarnaRekha - it is always a joy to learn how things came to be called the way they are. This is one such story, and thought it is fictitious, I really liked the imagination behind the tale. Prophesies can come true in the strangest of ways. Special mention to the author's note in the end of the story, explaining her reasons for writing this.

The Fairy Godmother - a tale about one of the most common emotions in childhood - jealousy at the birth of another child into the family. Gently nudges the sensitivity of parents to focus on doubling their love instead of narrowing their focus.

The Missing Staircase - a tale of love and regrets, the suspense was maintained well with the narrative intially confusing but making perfect sense by the ending. It took some time to get used to, but I rather loved the word play in this one. 

The other Woman - the story did not pack much of a suspense but it was full of emotions, and was one of the deepest stories of the whole lot. The beauty of the story is in its climax, the absolute helplessness against the inevitability of circumstances 

Daddy, Hear Me out - a must read tale for parents. It talks about identifying the abilities of the children and how unique they are, instead of trying to fit them into society's preconformed moulds.

Cliff Notes - absolutely wonderful in its dark element. A completely unexpected tale that is from an unexplored view point but talks about the darkness in human emotions. Easily the tale that had the greatest impact on me from this collection, not because it spoke of something different, but because it spoke of something so indecently common.

Overall comments:

I am always appreciative of anthologies for two things - they do not require the continuous burst of focus that novels require and could pack a multitude of emotions via different stories, unlike a novel. But on the other hand, a short story collection is also one of the most difficult things to pull off successfully, mainly because it is harder for each story to have a closure and an impact on the readers' minds.

Knitted Tales managed that very well, always holding my interest. I finished the entire book in one sitting and loved the different emotions in the tales. The book did not gloss over facts or try to pass off sub-par stories in the name of emotions. It was blunt, to the point and absolutely unique as a book.

I will nitpick and talk a bit about how the stories could have been even more perfect if they had been worded a bit more carefully. There was a dark undertone to most tales and that connects with most readers in an instant, at which point worrying about how the words are phrased takes a backseat. Knitted Tales is a book to be read in a retrospective mood. It has its memorable moments, though I wanted a few more memorable lines from it, but that is a personal complaint.

I loved the book as a whole mainly for the variety it presented and the unapologetically honest writing style that did not shy away from portraying the basest of human emotions in a straightforward manner. Special brownie points because it managed to do all this without earning even one twisted snort of disgust or an uncomfortable flinch from the reader. It did not resort to the stereotypes of the genres and that is why it has earned my respect!





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 About the author


Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time.  She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona.  Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer. 

Her other published works include:

'Home is where Love is’ a short story in the anthology Writings from the Heart. Ed. by Beth Ann Masarik. 
‘You Stole My Heart’ and ‘Let me Go’. Short stories as a part of the anthology Long and Short of It by Indireads.
'Wake Me Up' as a part of the anthology Marijuana Diaries by Fablery Publishers.


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