Saturday, February 3, 2018

Interviewing the author of The Jasmine Bloom – Mr. Rajat Narula


A writer will remain a writer all his life. No matter how many obstacles come in their life but the writer’s story sooner or later come out of a dream to become a reality. The US based author Rajat Narula’s story is somehow very similar. 25 years later when his picks up his writing skills, he knows he is ready to bloom as a writer. Today, I got a chance to interview with The Jasmine Bloom’s author Rajat and here are the excerpts from the interview:  


rajat-narula-author.jpg


Tell our readers about your background & how did you get into writing?
I wrote my first poem, as well as my short story, at the age of 13.  My poems started getting published, when I was about 18.  Around that time, I started writing a fortnightly column for a local newspaper, and wrote for about six months.  The appreciation I received for it gave me confidence that I could write well.  It was at that point, I knew I wanted to write a full-length novel. 
However, life intervened.  I was studying to be a chartered accountant, it demanded all my time, and I gave up the writing. 
Over 25 years later, after reconnecting with an old friend over Facebook, the talk turned to writing.  I wrote a chapter, showed it to family and a couple of friends.  They liked it.  And I decided to pursue my childhood dream, in whatever dregs of time I could find.  That’s how ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ was born.
I continue to work full time (I work for World Bank, based out of Washington DC), and write in my spare time. 

Which writers inspire you for writing?
My list of favorite writers is long.  It includes Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Khaled Hussaini, Emma Donoghue, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Kazuo Ishiguro However, one writer, whose style I really admire, and would love to write like her, is Jhumpa Lahiri. Her uniqueness is that she evokes emotions without being melodramatic. 

Where do you get ideas or inspiration for your writing?
The inspirations are all around you. People you meet, news you read, movies you watch, books you read, random conversations you overhear, sights you see, places you visit - all these things remain within you. Sometimes they percolate for years, enmeshing with other ideas and thoughts and a story begins to take shape.

What genre you enjoy the most while writing novels?
I like everyday stories about everyday people.  No fantasies, paranormal or space journeys for me.  I love exploring the inherent grayness of people.  Human beings have in this innate capacity of being good and bad both. I like working with life-like, flawed characters, and see what they can be like in different situations. 

I also like exploring relationships: lovers, spouses, siblings, parents-kids, and so on.  The intricacies of relationships and how they change with passage of life is also a subject of my enormous interest. 

What was the inspiration behind your recent book?
Many years ago, I watched a Harrison Ford movie called 'Random Hearts'. In the movie, Ford's wife dies in a car crash, along with the Senator for whom she worked. After her death, Ford finds out she and the Senator were lovers - and she was thinking of leaving Ford. Senator's wife finds out too and the movie was about their coming to terms with that truth. Ford and the Senator's wife also have an affair and so on. The concept of finding out about your partner's infidelity after he/she is gone fascinated me. I thought what if the situation was reversed. If the husband was the one who having an affair and the wife (who died) knew about it, but didn't confront him, while she was alive. After her death, when the husband finds out that she knew, how hard it would be to deal with that guilt. When the person you want to apologize is gone. That was the kernel of the story of 'The Jasmine Bloom'. Of course, it needed a lot of development, fleshing out the characters, introducing children in the mix, a potential corporate fraud and so on to make it an engaging story.

What does your family think of your writing?
My wife and daughters have been very supportive.  They are my first readers, and give me candid feedback on my writing. My mom (78 years old) and hasn’t read a book for the past thirty years, is currently reading my book, and is also giving me an interesting feedback.   

Can we expect your next writing stint & if yes, what & when?
I am currently working on my second novel, tentatively titled, ‘Azalea Heights’, which is based in United States. The central theme of the book is the inter-ethnic tensions and clash of cultures in US, particularly in the post-Trump world. Instead of one protagonist, the book has five! I am currently on my fourth draft and expect to complete the book this year.  Of course, there is a big gestation between completing the book and seeing it in print. If I am lucky, that process may get finished in one year, so that would mean 2019.  If not, it can be longer. 

Lastly, what writing tips you’d like to give to budding writers? 
First: Persist. I see several people starting, but then losing steam midway. It doesn't matter how good or bad your first draft is, but it is important you finish what you start. There is plenty of time, after the first draft is completed, to further improve the book. But the most important thing is to finish it.

Second: Write the best book you can. I finished the first draft of 'The Jasmine Bloom' in 18 months but it took me another 42 months to ‘complete’ it. I understand there are shortcuts available (self-publishing, editors) and the quality of writing of some of the bestsellers in India isn't quite the best, but you still want to give it your best shot. The book may be a hit or a flop, but you won't want your name to be associated with a shoddy, half-baked product.

Three: Don't write what you think can sell in the market. Write what you want to write. The story you think you can tell the best. For example, if college romance is what selling in India currently, doesn't mean you must write one too. If that's the story that you have in you, then of course! But if you have another story to tell, go ahead and tell your story. That way your truth will make the writing stronger and the readers will relate with the book.

To buy The Jasmine Bloom, visit: Amazon 

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Jasmine Bloom by Rajat Narula (Book Review)


This book is available at Amazon Flipkart and Infibeam


Title – The Jasmine Bloom 
Author – Rajat Narula
Genre – Fiction
Publisher – Srishti Publishers & Distributors
No of pages – 225



Main characters – Sameer, Kavita, Ritu, Pari, Tania
Other Characters – Ammaji, Harmeet, Imran


The Blurb
Sameer Chadha lives with his wife Kavita and two adorable daughters named Pari and Tania. Caught in a mid-life crisis, he is unhappy with everything. His corporate career is languishing and is increasingly alienated from his family. His wife Kavita is a part-time poet and a homemaker who dwells in her past all the time whereas Sameer gets carried away with one of his colleagues, Ritu.

When their lives collide with Ritu, a married woman coping with her abusive husband and an autistic son, a chain of events gets triggered that throws everyone’s life into the unstoppable whirlwind.


My Review
The Jasmine Bloom is an extremely impressive and descriptive novel written by very talented author Rajat Narula. The story is about love, lust, complicated relationships, loss, pain and an unquenchable thirst for happiness in life. It is a commentary on the fragility of modern family life and an eye-opener that how our unfulfilled desires can wreak havoc on everyone.

The plot is not something unusual but the author’s writing skills are simply flawless and impactful that grabs your attention until the last of the page of the novel.

The author has left no stone unturned describing each character painstakingly that one could actually imagine each one of them. Pari’s bubbly and cheerful behavior, Tania’s typical teenage character, Kavita’s sensitive side as a poet and a dedicated homemaker and amma as a maid, each character are portrayed so well that you could marvel at the author’s impactful descriptive writing.

With that same grace and ease, the author has managed to turn this simple story into an irresistible feast that keeps a reader at a continuous pace.

Each character has his or her own story that you could relate them in your real life. It usually happens when the romance trickles down and adultery enters in a modern man’s life when he is burdened with so many things at a time. The author daringly brings forth the stark reality of modern man’s life where he never seems to contend with his life. Kavita’s indifference, Sameer’s incapability of balancing life and career and vulnerability of involving in adultery and Ritu’s easy way to escape from harsh realities of life and getting involved into an extra-marital affair seems absolute reality that one could find easily these days.

Yet the author maintains suspense at the end, letting the reader seep into the lives of these characters. Through the characters like Pari and Tania, the author smartly conveys how adultery or fickle decisions are taken by adults impact children’s lives.

All it takes one wrong action to get into a whirlwind of troubles that soon become never-ending. Sameer and Ritu’s immature decisions not only jeopardize their families but force them to repent all their life.

One of the scenes from the Jasmine Bloom reveals how adultery can go to such extent where a man and a woman are not bothered by anything. When Sameer’s wife Kavita suffers from a heart attack at home, her daughter Tania frantically tries to call Sameer but he is busy having sex with Ritu. This is one of the scenes that make your heart cry in pain. 


Rajat’s effortless writing and narrative style leave you astonished as he sums up the story with a shocking end. 

I strongly recommend this novel as the author’s impactful writing and narrative skills will leave your jaw drop for sure.

The Best Part
An excellent and dramatic narration, extremely well-depicted characters and well-written scenes


Not so Good Part
Ritu’s decision of keeping baby from her extra-marital affair seems unconvincing and makes you question is this how Indian marriages are supposed to be.

Writing Style
Rajat Narula’s writing style is easy breezy. The story flows in an effortless manner and nowhere in the story, one could lose the direction. His descriptive writing is simply admirable. Below are few paragraphs from The Jasmine Bloom that shows how painstakingly minutest details have been captured by the author:

“Don’t know.” She shrugged her bony shoulders. She hugged him standing up on the sofa, without taking her eyes off the TV. 

Tomato paneer, black daal, and rice lay steaming on the table. A dollop of butter melted slowly on the daal. There was a bowl of cucumber raita and the lidded box for rotis.


 They were a few feet away when Tania lifted her head and his eyes met hers. In that moment, everybody else ceased to exist. Aditi vanished, Shruti and Avantika also. The angry cafeteria lady and her two assistants too. It was only him and her. And then they looked away and everything returned to normal. 



The book cover and the title
The title is apt given its frequent references in the story. The book cover is not that appealing. However, they say, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ and so is the story of The Jasmine Bloom. You will not be disappointed with the story as the author takes you for a whirling ride of emotions.

My rating 4.5/5 
I strongly recommend this book for its impactful storytelling and descriptive writing style. The novel ruthlessly sheds a light on our fickle modern relationships and it is totally worth your time and money.

About the author
Rajat Narula is a lead financial management specialist at The World Bank. His several articles and poems have been published in renowned newspapers and has won the Fairfax District award in USA for his poetry. He has worked and lived in India, Indonesia and USA.


Follow our talented author on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, January 6, 2018

When Love Happens by Manish Kumar (Book Review)











Book details

Title – When Love Happens
Author – Manish Kumar
Genre –Fiction
Publisher – Srishti Publishers & Distributors   
No of pages – 138

To buy this book, visit Amazon

The plot
Love can cause a life-long impact on someone’s life and it can change a direction of his/her decisions. It can impact on career, personal and professional life. It reflects in When Love Happens plot written by Mr. Manish Kumar. Nish falls in love with his classmate named G who belongs to a conservative family. Nish becomes very serious about his love towards her but she does not promise him anything. Though she keeps in touch with him during all these years. However, it badly affects Nish’s life but he tries to fight his obstacles by being determined.

At the end, G gets married to someone else as she does not go against her family whereas Nish throughout all these years fights odds and tries to become a stable person and focuses on becoming a writer. Eventually, he ends up becoming an IT engineer and a part-time writer.
 
Review
Everyone falls in love and fall out too and it is just another love story with an extremely mediocre plot. It fails to hold a grip on reader’s mind. The characters are also very mediocre in nature. The author wanted to express his personal experience story and how he fought throughout all his life but I fail to understand when and how he became mighty enough to fight his struggles. Till the page number 90, I could read same storylines again and again when the author says,’ I tried to focus on my life goals and become strong.’ But how many times?

The story has poor incidents with disinterested dialogues. Author has highlighted some of the incidents in his real life that took place but they are not at all entertaining and interesting. There is this one character called Chutki keeps saying,”Kya hai?”. The incident is poorly depicted.

lYes, the Love story is decent and could have been better if the author has narrated the story in the more interesting way. He could have peppered the story with rich words, great vocabulary and interesting lines.

Though I appreciate author’s efforts and genuine but the story miserably failed to impress.

Writing style
Very simple language and lacks rich words.

Book title and book cover
The title and the book cover is apt.

My rating
2.5/5

About the author
Manish Kumar lives in Bangalore and has been working with IBM for the past five years. He is fond of riding bikes and traveling to natural destinations. This is his first published book.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Unlikely Tails by Author Mani Padma (Book Review)







Book details

Title – Unlikely Tails
Author – Mani Padma
Genre – Fiction
Publisher – Creative Crowns Publishers LLP

No of pages – 125



To buy this book, visit Amazon or Flipkart 

My Review
Mostly, short stories contain in depth meaning of life that we usually miss out in lengthy novels. In fact, short stories can be quick breezy read for us especially when we have busiest lives and they can quickly freshen us up by infusing us good literary fodder.  Recently, I was chosen to review this book – a collection of short stories by Mani Padma and I am glad that I read it.
The short stories have been beautifully written, depicting agonies of life, dejectedness, rejection, horrifying facts and more. It is a perfect compilation of juices of life as our life is bit of a mystery, fear, hopelessness, and everything. The author Mani Padma has done fabulous job by complying all human emotions and neatly weaving into several short stories so one can enjoy the spice of life.

There are total 17 short stories and each is different from one another. Harmony is the story of a singer who has lost interest in music only to spend his days, full of dejectedness. But life has other plans for him when a girl comes to reside in his neighborhood area who was also tackling with her own problems. The author unfolds the mystery behind this short story at the end of it by telling after losing his sight in an accident how harmony enters in his life in the form of this lady singer, leaving him some space for hope.

‘Connections’ is yet another masterpiece by Mani Padma and is mysterious in many forms. The young lead in the story is willing to meet her mother who many years ago left her behind with her dad. Every time she talks about her mother, her dad opposes to her plans. But the young girl always has plans to run away from home and every time she discusses with Mr. Devraj’s personal assistant. However, this time her plan goes terribly wrong, leaving the PA in a shock when he receives news committing suicide.

 ‘Subjiwallah’ is a story for those who love reading horror or suspense. ‘Breakfast’ is a story about a woman whose marriage is completely loveless and seeks some excitement and entertainment out of her marriage but then at the last moment she changes her mind and decides to remain true to her husband.

‘Mamma’s house’ talks about a young girl who grows only to live in the past where she keeps chasing to fulfill her mother’s old dream. She feels her childhood home has always been close to her mom’s heart but time changes and so her mamma. However, the young girl never quits and pursues to buy mamma’s old house once she grows up only to make her mom surprised. At the end, mamma’s house remains no longer hers but belongs to the young girl as she continues to live in the past whereas her mamma has long before left the memories and attachment behind.

‘In Pursuit of Fame’ sheds a light on how parental pressure can disturb a little one’s life. ‘The Perfect Plan’ is a story about meticulously planned murder and the human’s creep psyche.

I won’t reveal all stories’ ending as you should enjoy this book which oozes human emotions flawlessly, giving you a chance to reflect and peep into your own life.  

The Writing Style
Mani Padma’s intriguing writing style holds a grip on reader’s mind, leaving him/her amazed with each story’s mysterious end. The author’s good vocabulary reflects in her writing style.

The Book Cover & the Title
I couldn’t understand what does the book cover wants to indicate at but the content inside it is good and that is what matter. After all, never judge a book by its cover. The title does give the justice to the stories as they are mostly unlikely heard, told or written ever.

My Rating
4/5
Yes, I totally recommend this book to every book reader who enjoy short stories as much as they enjoy long stories. Although it’s her solo debut, she has done absolutely good job by making it one entertaining read!

About Author
Mani Padma is the author of Unlikely Tails - A Compilation of Short Stories. She has worked as an Executive Editor for online magazine Fried Eye for 5 years. She is originally from Assam but now is based in Delhi.
To follow this author, visit her Facebook


This review is a part of the Biggest Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Can A Girl And A Boy Be Just Friends? Author Samrit Shahi (Book Review)



Book details

Title – Can A Girl And A Boy Be Just Friends?
Author – Sumrit Shahi   
Genre – Fiction
Publisher – Rupa Publications Pvt. Ltd.
No of pages – 235


Main characters – Aaryan, Boza Corbi, Ishita, Tanie, Sumer

Supporting characters – Shazia, Karan, Kabir, Batra. Rehaan


Book Blurb
He knows everything about her, right from her favorite books to her favorite bra. She knows everything about him, right from his favorite soccer club to his favorite x rated websites. He will complete her English homework, even at three in the night. She will arrange an Armani suit for him, even if it calls for flirting with ugly guys. He has her picture in his wallet. She has his number on speed dial. They discuss everything from periods to play station. They have tasted alcohol and then thrown up...together. They have bunked countless tuitions... together. They can’t live without each other. YET They don't love each other. They are JUST FRIENDS...


My Review
After a long time, I read something light-hearted, refreshing and wittiest  read that also gave me a nostalgic feel about school life. 

Just Friends is a story about Aaryan and his best friend Boza Corbi. It also revolves around Tanie and Sumer. Author Sumrit Shahi has done a fabulous job by jotting down a simple yet breezy story with some of the funniest incidences in between the pages of it. 

From the first page of the story to till the end of this book, I found a lot of funny incidents described in a light-hearted manner with easy dialogues. Dialogues like “She laughed, I laughed, problem solved” you could easily relate yourself as a teenager with such dialogues. 

Further, in 232 pages author effortlessly tells two different stories about two different individuals. The characters are usually from the high class family background and so are their manners dealing with relationships. 

The first story is about Aaryan, a seventeen-year-old with lots of ex-girlfriends and a popular guy in a boarding school of Gurgaon. He falls in love with Ishita, a student from Singapore. He meets her at MUN. He tries hard to impress her. At first, she doesn’t show any interest but eventually gives in. However, she realizes that the long distance relationship wouldn’t work for them and tries to distance herself from him. Aaryan is devastated with her behavior and soon falls in depression. On the other hand, his best friend, Boza keeps him encouraged for his love to Ishita. Boza is secretly in love with Aaryan but she never shows it. She would go to any extent to keep him happy by sacrificing her own happiness. They both are really close friends. 

It is Aaryan to discover whether they are just friends or more than that.

The second story is about Tanie and Sumer (though I bet you wouldn’t enjoy this part of the story). He is her new neighbor. They soon become best of friends. She is madly in love with Rehaan whereas Sumer shares a long distance relationship with Liaka. 

Unfortunately, neither Sumer’s relationship with Liaka works out nor does Tanie’s. When Tanie is heart-broken, Sumer does everything possible to keep her happy. Sumer starts loving Tanie but she is unsure about her feelings for him. 

It’s interesting to know how the author has effortlessly managed to weave two different stories in a single novel packed with a lot of rhymed lines, short poems and funny one-liners. The novel has a lot of funny incidents with the sexual overtone that makes a book not suitable for all age groups.
Two friends and their relationships isn’t a new formula but the author has certainly made the plot interesting and fun to read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially author impressed me with his unmistakable humor. 

Who wouldn’t enjoy serious stories all the time? 

Author has justified each role with his simplistic manner of writing. By the time you read 5-6 pages you know all the characters very well. A teenage love story yet extremely unique from the ones you’ve read in the past!

The Best Part
Simple plot backed by wittiest one-liners, incidents, breezy poems and rhymed paragraphs. 

The No-So Good Part 
None! 

The writing style
Author’s writing style is very easy, relatable to the common audience and free-flowing. I simply enjoyed the writing style and I couldn’t resist myself from noticing and making a list of them. Below are some of the paragraphs and dialogues that you shouldn’t miss:

“When the auditorium is dark,
The audience will bark.” 

“Damn Kabir, damn Boza, damn Shazia – they all could wait. I had just offered her the bait.”


“I pressed Sumer’s bell, I mean his doorbell and seconds later Aarti aunty opened the door.”

“He rubbed his hairy thigh and asked, ‘Why?’ He got up and started walking towards the kitchen. ‘Will you have something?’

A fan and a rope. ‘Nothing,’ I said.”

“You… you sleepster,” I shouted into the phone. It was just 1.30 a.m. and this guy wanted to sleep when his best friend was about to weep.”


          “Damsels and dramatics go hand in hand.”


“Listen Sumber, I am not fucking mad that I have been calling you like a fucking… a fucking… a fucking….’

‘Chocolate,’ Megha added from behind and I repeated without thinking what I was saying. ‘Sorry,’ Megha held her ears as I shot her a dirty look.”


The book cover & the title
The title is very apt given the plot of the novel. The book cover isn’t enticing but works. 

My rating 5/5
I strongly recommend this book for all the adults who were once a teenager. A quick, humorous read for sure! 

About the author 

sumrit-shahi.jpg
Author Samrit Shahi
Sumrit Shahi, a twenty-four-years-old, is one of the youngest bestselling authors in the country. He wrote his first novel at the age of seventeen which became a bestseller, followed by his other novels, Never Kiss Your Best Friend and A Lot Like Love… A Li’l Like Chocolate. 

Sumrit is also a screenwriter and has written for six-youth based shows including Sadda Haq: My Life, My Choice on Channel V India. He has won many awards and has been listed Top 30 under 30 young achievers in the country by Hindustan Times, terming him as a ‘Writing Rockstar Of The Young.’

To follow this brilliant young author, visit: Facebook | Twitter
 

  







Buy this wittiest read here, Amazon | Flipkart

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