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Posts from — January 2016

2015: My Year in Books 

My Year in Books 2015

For three years now, I’ve repeatedly tried to hit that 100 number. I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books in a year and fell short every year. But, I did read more than the last year, every year.

Playing the number game with something I absolutely love doing was a learning experience. I realised as I pushed myself to read more, faster, that I was losing interest in reading. If I wasn’t fully enjoying what I was reading I was literally dragging my way through the book. And that wasn’t fun!

The drive to read 100 books slowly from excitement became guilt. And it was some time in October that it hit me, that I was being silly and stupid. I dumped the challenge. I’m going to stay of challenges this year.

Instead this year I’d like to explore the book space that exists online. I’d like to join communities, make more friends, learn for about the book world, and all such things. I want to look-out, expand my book horizon, and also look-in at my reading history and see what I’ve been doing.

In 2014 I’d been swamped by review requests that I’d excepted, so in 2015 I’d been more careful about books I accepted, made time lines more clear, and learned to say ‘no’. This year I’m going to try and hold it there, and create space for reading books from my #ForeverTBR.

This post won’t be complete without the stats of last year, so…

Reading challenge

I’d didn’t do all that bad on the challenge – 74/100. And better than 2014 (2014-59, 2013-56, 2012-68, 2011-65).

Perry Mason was the biggest contributor to my numbers with 47 of the series read this year. I don’t know why but I’d put off Perry Mason all these years, but once I started mid last year, I couldn’t stop until I’d finished the series and watched a season of the TV series starting Raymond Burr. 😀

I accepted and reviewed 15 books last year.

11 books were written by Indian authors.

Pages read on 2015

I read 14799 pages, more than 2014 (13240) but less than 2012 (25412).

book stats 2015

Majority of books were read as ebooks on the Kindle and the longest book was Good Omens at 430 pages.

average rating 2015

2 books got 2 stars from me, 44 books got 3 stars, 25 books got 4 stars, and I gave only 3 books 5 stars!
Good Omens by Terry Pratcheet and Neil Gaiman
Learn how to Compost by Margette Riley
Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wylde

Goes with out saying that I recommend the three above, but here are a 5 more I recommend.

It’s a Wonderful Death – Sarah J Schmitt
Warrior – Olivier Lafont
The Seeker – Karan Bajaj
Palm’s Foster Home for Peculiar Stories – C. G.Salamander
The Heat and Dust Project – Saurav Jha, Devapriya Roy

That’s about it from 2015, let’s see how 2016 pans out. Happy Reading! :)

January 19, 2016   2 Comments

Indian Reads… #2: Chat with Author C G Salamander

 

Indian Reads… #2: Chat with C G Salamander about his book Palms Foster Home for Peculiar Stories

Interview with C G Salamander

After reading C G Salamander’s book I was intrigued by the workings of the mind that created Palms Foster Home for Peculiar Stories. And that’s the seed of this interview.

A fiction writer and a story teller, C G Salamander’s short stories and comics have been published in various anthologies and journals. His first book, Palms Foster Home for Peculiar Stories was released in 2015 and reviewed by me earlier.


(If you can’t see the video above, click here to watch on Youtube)

In our chat we talked about –

– what inspired his stories, how did cabbagism come about
– why his book is described as a ‘collection of episodic short fiction belonging to the comic fantasy genre’
– how did he become a writer, his journey to getting published
– his use of a pseudonym vs real name
– his upcoming comic book

I didn’t know much about the comic side of him [the book one, that is 😀 ] and I got to learn a thing or two about comics as we talked. Comics have come a long way from from my childhood (of Tinkle, Phantom & Amar Chitra Katha) and I have some catching up to do. :) I’d known that comics were a rage in the US thanks to shows like Big Bang Theory and websites like Panels(from the Book Riot family) but I hadn’t realised how much it was catching on here too. Should get back to them, where do you suggest I start?

I also got to understand something of the mind behind Palms Foster Home for Peculiar Stories. Do checkout my interview with C. G. Salamander and tell me what you think in comments.

Also, do read the book, here’s my review of Palms Foster Home for Peculiar Stories. :)

January 15, 2016   No Comments

Book Review: The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar

The Thirteenth Day by Aditya Iyengar

 

Aditya Iyengar's The Thirteenth Day
Title: The Thirteenth Day
Author: Aditya Iyengar
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications (June 1st 2015)
Genre: Epic, Historical, Action
Read: Paperback
Stars: ★★★★☆
Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US | Flipkart

 

Summary:

(Goodreads)

It is the tenth night of the great war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Bhishma, the venerable patriarch of the families, lies fatally wounded on the plains of Kurukshetra. On his deathbed he offers Radheya, his nemesis, a chance to rule the Kuru kingdom by capturing Yudhishthira.

In the Pandava camp, Yudhishthira, a reluctant warrior, tries desperately to hold his allies together and escape capture without appearing to be a coward. Meanwhile, his young and impulsive nephew, Abhimanyu, a warrior prince, dreams of glory and yearns for a chance to save the Pandava cause. The lives of these three warriors, Yudhisthira, Radheya and Abhimanyu, collide brutally on the thirteenth day. A story of how stories are created, how fact becomes fiction, how history becomes mythology and how men become legends, The Thirteenth Day re-imagines India’s greatest epic like never before.

 

My Review:

Note: Thanks Aditya Iyengar for offering me this book to read and review :)

Cover: Detailed!

Paper and font: Easy on the eyes!

Readability, language: Easy on the mind!

Why did I choose this book: A different angle to the many times retold story, caught my interest. I’ve read Draupadi’s perspective in the The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and have Uruvi’s (Karna’s Wife by Kavita Kane) point of view lined up. This was a good addition to the list. 😀

This is a retelling of the Mahabharata with the subject as Abhimanyu. This is his story – his quest for glory, his contribution to the war and his death.

As Abhimanyu’s story the title is appropriate for it was on the thirteenth day of the Mahabharata war that his valour on the battlefield made him a known name for ever. A darkish cover, there is something about it that I quite like, it drew me in every-time I walked past, inviting me to peer at the details. The blurb does a quick job of setting the stage and telling the reader what’s coming. Short and sweet.

I remember watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharat on Doordarshan, and the chakravyuh had made such an impact. I found myself cheering the young hero, being filled with indignation at his murder and feeling grief at his death; the emotions searing the character in my memory. So, this plot isn’t new and yet, it felt so because of the perspective.

Set in Kurukshetra the story starts out on day 10 of the war, when Bisma falls to the arrows of Arjun. In a bid to save the Kuru race, Bhishma asks Radheya to take the throne and bring about peace. The next couple of days are all attempts to capture Yudhishthira and it is these attempts that lead up to the chakravyuh. Aditya Igengar doesn’t just describe the war but also all that happens behind the scenes when the war is not on, in the camps and around the campfires, and does a good job of it.

The story is narrated from the perspectives of Yudhishthira, Radheya and Abhimanyu. The story unfolds with insight into their characters, their fears, their motives, their ambitions; I’d never before got to know Abhimanyu’s story this way. Aditya Iyengar has described each character well through the eyes of the main storytellers. The main and support characters are rich in detail and it felt like I knew them.

The story seems to follow a three act structure made up of days – 11, 12 & 13. There aren’t any loose ends but there is an abrupt end, smoothly delivered, such that the reader doesn’t feel all that bad about not knowing what comes after. The pace of the story is good with a build-up towards climax, that kept me glued to the book.

I enjoyed Aditya Iyengar’s style of writing and language. The Thirteenth Day was simple and easy to read both in words and sentences. The paper quality is good and the font makes for comfortable reading. The book is a breeze to read and an enjoyable one at that.

I’d recommend this book if your are a epic fan and even if you are not. For this book has insight into the minds behind the war and action & drama. So if you are someone who likes a good action drama, this is a book to pick up. YA and above.

Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US | Flipkart

About the Author:

Aditya IyengarAditya Iyengar has worked for ten years as a writer in advertising and television. He has been writing fiction for five years now, mostly in the hours between sunrise and ten AM.

Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

January 14, 2016   No Comments

2016: Doodling, Running, Gardening & More in Life as Freya

2016 in Doodles

Happy New Year Folks!

This seems to have become a ritual on Life as Freya; blogging at the beginning of the year is like this thing I’ve been doing for over 5 years now it seems. I hadn’t realised I’d been doing it and now it’s a ritual, a pattern, a routine, like so many other things in our everyday life. Little things we do everyday so often that, sometimes we forget we are doing them, their doing goes unnoticed.

I went back and read a few of my ‘start of year’ posts and they made me smile with fondness at my younger self. It’s just a couple of years but so much has changed since then. It was pleasant reminder of the joys and challenges, the fun times and the togetherness, love and our family and life as I know it.

Last year I put together a bucket list for the year and did good at it, I think. It was the year of ME and I did a lot of me stuff! I did hit my weight target, watched 100 movies, read 74 books, got started with my kitchen garden, and kept my eyebrows intact through the year. :)

This year I’m putting together a few buckets I’d like to work on. 😀

Reading Life

Reading

For three years now I’ve tried to hit the 100 mark in the Goodreads Book Challenge. It took me three attempts to realise that competition, even with oneself was’t the way to go. Reading for numbers just doesn’t cut it.

Of all the things I love doing, this one I love doing the most, so this year I’m looking to take this up seriously, paying more attention to the books I’m reading and being more unforgiving with myself about how I spend my reading time. I’m going to be more critical of my book choices and I’m going to try reduce my #ForeverTBR.

#99DaysofFitness

Fitness

I’ve been meaning to get fit but I spent most of last year hoping it would happen while I still lay curled up in the couch. It was only at the end of the year that I finally did something about it and got myself to Zumba class. The last month has been so much fun! (Thanks Yashodhara Lal for introducing me to Zumba in your book There’s Something About You)

Getting started helps, it’s still baby steps but now that the ball is rolling it’s easy to push further. A shout-out to Bhawna of YellowMellowLife who pushed me into putting on those running shoes for #Pinkathon at the end of this month. This year I’m back to pushing to finish that marathon. :)

Indian Reads...

Blogging

Last year I wrote 139 posts, that’s not a huge number but it’s the highest ever and double done in 2014. This year I want to explore the creative space beyond writing. Giving myself space on the reading front has opened up a lot of stuff in the blogging space too.

I’ve enjoyed dabbling with video the last few months and I’d like to do more in the video space this year. Maybe even start a podcast. I’d like to explore the overlap space of reading and creativity, and see what I can do with it beyond writing.

Corn from my OTG

Gardening

I spent a bit of time in the garden in 2015, trying my hand at ideas and experiments. We grew some veggies – corn, carrots, methi, coriander, radish, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, bitter gourd, but lost some too – palak, peas, chillies. The one thing that flourished through it all was my composting khamba. It’s a hit with everyone!

Got to get more active in the garden this year. I want to expand my potting space and do some more experiments; try my hand at more new plants and veggies. Also got to try and increase my compost production. :)

Quilled Earrings

Learning

This section has a few things to list –

– I’m going to learn to play the harmonica this year. I’ll start of with youtube I think, in the security my bedroom. 😀

– I’m going to take up a course related to books this year. I’ve tried my hand at Lit. Degrees before, so not that. I’m not sure but I’m leaning towards a librarian course for now.

– I’m also planning to plunge into some craft challenges. Putting together the quilling pieces for my 500 post winners was a reminder of how much I enjoy craft and why it has to be a part of my year plan.

– And I’m gonna learn to do Zen Doodling. I have to master doodling. 😀

 

2015 was truly my ME year. I went through some weird phases in my head but it seems to have been worth it, for now, as the fog is shifting and clarity is making itself somewhat felt.

2016 must follow from where the last year left off, so I’m hoping to better ME this year in all the areas I’m choosing. What I’ve left out in the above are the bits about working on getting more productive, better time management, setting routines, tracking tasks, packing in more stuff,… You know, all that stuff that makes you do more. 😀

Aside from do more, this year I’d like to take time out to notice, to see the little things around me, to appreciate the life I have, life as I know it, in everything I do.

What is your plan for 2016? If you run, tell me in comments, we should connect, being running buddies would be great. The same goes for reading and craft, I’d love to join a challenge. So, what’s in your buckets?

January 2, 2016   2 Comments