Confessions on an Island by Ayan Pal | Book Review

I once read somewhere that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Anger generates negativity. It does not have the capacity to be positive. And this anger is what leads to Confessions on an Island, both literally and figuratively.

An abducted woman trapped on an island is given a chance to escape, provided she tells stories emerging from the stories her intriguing abductor tells her. Clueless about why she is being forced to participate in this game of Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the woman, a bestselling author, decides to play along. And therein begins a thrilling tale, narrated in part by an island while also seen through the eyes of the abductee. The tale of a man and woman consumed by the power of their imagination and truth, even as the stakes are gradually raised. Soon the only way out is in – into the past, heart and mind. The island is ready to confess. Are you ready for the truth?

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I was lured by the title of the novel. Confessions on an Island has a unique format to it. The story is revealed through different characters: The island which is a silent spectator to the events unfolding before its eyes, the woman who finds herself trapped on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere, and the stories themselves as narrated by the abductor and abductee in a twisted game of Matryoshka. Every chapter moves in sequence between its three protagonists.

In the course of these stories, the author lays out myriad human emotions which are inexplicable in the normal course of events. His characters display shades varying between greys and black as he reveals a dark psychological game of thrill and torture leading to an unexpected climax.

In my reading of the book, while I found the concept intriguing, the plot did not resonate with me as I expected it to. I was unable to connect the events as they moved from one story to the next. The character sketches appeared to have lost their way in the goal of creating dark players of this torturous game. Editing was another area which I felt was not as clean and crisp as it could have been.

However, knowing that the author has planned two more books, I gather this will intrigue readers of this genre and pique their curiosity enough to find out what happens next.

Title: Confessions on an Island
Author: Ayan Pal
Publisher: Readomania
ISBN: 978-93-858541-3-2
Edition/Year: 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 192
Source: Author’s Copy
Rating: 3 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Ayan Pal is a Kolkata-based IT professional and author who has received several accolades in his career so far. These include the honour of his book being a record holder in the Limca Book of Records, the title of ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’ from Toastmasters International for demonstrating outstanding communication and leadership skills, and a ‘Brandon Hall Award’, considered as the ‘Academy Awards’ by Learning, Talent and Business Executives worldwide.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from VTU, Karnataka and has completed a course in Education Technology from SDSU, California.
As an author, he is known for his acclaimed short stories in the Amazon bestsellers ‘Chronicles of Urban Nomads’, ’21 Tales to Tell’, and ‘When They Spoke’. He has also contributed to India’s first composite novel, ‘Crossed and Knotted’, ‘Upper Cut’, ‘Her Story’, ‘Rudraksha’, ‘Arranged To Love’, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and ‘Long Story Short’. He is a columnist of lifestyle magazine ThnkMkt and blogger at Open Road Review.
Passionate about public speaking, Ayan also loves reading, creative writing, watching and reviewing films, listening to music, and binge watching his favourite TV shows. ‘Confessions on an Island’ is his debut novel.
To connect with him, find him on Twitter @ImAyanPal and Facebook @AuthorAyanPal.

Note – I received this review copy from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Cantilevered Tales by Jayant Kripalani | Book Review

Bag it All by Nina Lekhi | Book Review

I first came across the Baggit Brand in 1999. It was at the Shoppers Stop in New Delhi – A first-of-its-kind store that had opened at the first shopping mall in the city. With all those firsts, naturally, my friends and I were curious enough to make our way over one morning, after having finished an early class at college.

Being the bag lover I was, I distinctly remember being drawn to the product displayed at the Baggit counter. I was amazed at their price tags; couldn’t believe my eyes. I came out of the store that day with my first adult wallet. It was a beige compact tri-fold by Baggit which I went on to use for the next few years. Served me well too.

When I heard about this book about the Brand and its Founder, I was reminded of that first purchase and was curious to learn more about them.

The seeds for Baggit were planted by Nina Lekhi at the young age of 18 when she failed her First year of Commercial Art. What started in one half of the children’s bedroom in her parents’ house, only as a means to move forward from her failure and to prove herself, has today grown into a 100+ crore company.

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Along the way, Lekhi became a wife and mom, and navigated the new paths and destinations of her life. As the business grew, she roped in the support of her family who continue to be actively involved in the running of the Brand alongside her.

During her journey, she also came across Siddha Samadhi Yoga and became an ardent follower. She has imbibed their principles to maintain work-life balance as well as create a harmonious work ethic at her company, which has yielded profitable returns in both spheres of her life.

Bag it All is a management lesson that unfolds right before you on its pages. Lekhi tells her story of how the brand was created, the risks she took, and the practices she adopted.

The book is broken down into chapters that progress through the growing phases of the business, while also imparting a valuable entrepreneurial lesson at the end. She shares the practices that worked, as well as the mistakes that taught her valuable lessons.

Lekhi strongly believes that women can have it all –  A loving family, a successful company, and the opportunity to follow our passion. She reveals the secrets of her inspirational success story, that comes with a full serving of hard work and determination, along with a generous helping of good design and aesthetic which helped her take off.

In doing all this, she has created lasting business relationships with her employees, vendors, and clients, which go a long way in making Baggit the successful company it is today.

Title: Bag it All
Author: Nina Lekhi as told to Suman Chhabria Addepalli
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
ISBN: 978-81-8495-981-9
Edition/Year: First Edition 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Non-Fiction – Business, Entrepreneurship
Pages: 250
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Nina Lekhi is Founder, MD and Chief Design Curator of Baggit India, a market leader in bags and accessories. She has won several prestigious awards from the Indian government and media for her contributions. Baggit has achieved recognition from PETA for being a cruelty-free, vegan brand. Nina is an ardent follower of Siddha Samadhi Yoga (SSY) and maintains work-life balance by shuttling between Mumbai and the hills of Katarkhadak village (adopted by her to ensure rural employment and overall welfare) with her husband and daughter.
She can be reached on Twitter @ninalekhi.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

The Accidental Artist | Winner | Memories from Books Contest

Just like the surprise showers that brought some respite from the scorching May sun, I received some delightful news last evening.

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The Accidental Artist – A short story (flash fiction) I wrote for Readomania’s Memories from Books contest – was adjudged the Second Prize winner.

The cue for this contest was to write a fictional story, inspired from real life incidents, about your dearest memory with a book.

The Accidental Artist weaves a fictional story around my earliest memories with my favourite book. To this day, I vividly remember sitting by my mother’s side as she read it out to me.

To find out more about this book and be a part of my experience, follow the link to read this story – The Accidental Artist.

Don’t hesitate to share your own stories around your favourite books so we can relive some wonderful memories together 🙂

Image courtesy: Google Images.

A Day in Early Spring |Telegram Magazine | February 2017

Here is a magazine that has gained quite a following among writers since its launch in July last year. A literary magazine, Telegram aims to rekindle the flames of quality Indian fiction. They are a monthly journal of short stories, essays, book reviews, poems and much more. As the literary magazine culture disappears from the country’s newsstands, coffee houses and bookstores, it leaves a gaping hole for the discerning reader. Telegram hopes to cause a ripple in the direction of good stories, fiction and essays.

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Out with their eighth issue this month, the magazine includes a short story I wrote for their February theme: Shades of Love.

Even though global warming and climate change have impacted our weather cycles, the month of February can’t help but evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Add to that, Valentine’s Day bombards everyone’s timelines and love dominate our feeds, from which there is no escape.

A Day in Early Spring celebrates just one such love story where the fragrance of soon-to-arrive spring, coupled with the blissfulness of love, is enough to wrap you in its enigma.

The magazine issue is now live on Magzter.com, the world’s largest and fastest growing cross platform global digital magazine newsstand.

Click here, to read it online or download to your Android/iPad/iPhone device, and revel in its ode to love.

Image Courtesy – Telegram Magazine

A Step Out of the Box | Winner for February 2017 Muse of the Month on Women’s Web

As those of you following my writing are aware, Women’s Web runs a monthly contest on its website, based on a writing prompt.

In 2016, these writing prompts were either a direct quote from the featured author of the month, or a quote from one of their published works.

In 2017, Women’s Web introduced a new Muse of the Month series, one with a contemporary twist. Instead of selecting a quote or phrase from a book, the cue is a feminist GIF/video clip from a movie – either Bollywood or Hollywood.

For February 2017, the writing cue was a scene from the film Piku, where Piku confirms that if her friend wants to marry her, her 90 year old father comes along with her.

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via GIPHY

My entry for this month, based on the above cue, is titled ‘A Step Out of the Box’. It discusses the dilemma a married woman faces, in providing care for her ageing father who is living alone, away from his children. The story touches upon a concept that is still alien, but calls for attention in today’s times to bring a progressive change in our society.

To read the complete story, click on the Facebook post below.

Media Courtesy: giphy.com

Following Rules – Short Story on Readomania

Here is another short story, which was written in the genre of humour/satire, sometime last year. It received a very special mention for the quality of writing and has now been published on the Readomania website.

Following Rules is a humourous take on how we, as a society, tend to complain about issues which, in fact, may have been created by us.

Pratichi considers herself to be a responsible driver who stays within the confines of road and traffic rules. She is also a bit a feminist, and believes women drivers are unnecessarily given a bad name.

So how does she manage when she is running terribly late on one of the most important days of her life? Can she stick to the rules while all the rule breakers zip past her? Or will she succumb to the pressures of traffic.

Find out more by reading the full story at Readomania.com.

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If you have any such crazy traffic experiences to share; they could be yours or someone else’s; tell me, so we can all have a hearty laugh together. 🙂

Image courtesy: Google Images.

Book Announcement – Kunti’s Confessions and Other Short Stories

The year 2017 could not have started on a sweeter note for me. Earlier this month, Women’s Web announced a book containing short stories that represent the very best of short fiction published on their website in 2016. I am honoured and thrilled that this book includes a short story written by me.

Kunti’s Confessions and Other Short Stories, was launched on 7th January 2017 at the Orange Flower Awards in Bangalore.

Drawing inspiration from leading contemporary female authors in India today, including Anuja Chauhan, Anita Nair, Jaishree Misra, Jhumpa Lahiri and Namita Gokhale, every month readers of Women’s Web send in their own short fiction based on a writing cue from a novel by one such author.

Fifteen of these short stories have found their way into this book and they reflect some of the quiet joys as well as deepest fears of Indian women today.

My story, Personal Effects was selected as a winning entry for their December Muse of the Month Writing Contest and I have received wonderful reviews for it from the Women’s Web community of readers, and friends. No doubt, it comes as a wonderful surprise that it is included in this publication.

The book is now available for purchase on Amazon (as ebook) and Pothi (paperback).

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I am positive you will enjoy reading this as each of these stories emerge from the reality of women’s lives today and will therefore, resonate with all of you.

Don’t forget to leave your feedback on Amazon and Goodreads.

Image Courtesy – Women’s Web

Time to Smell the Flowers | #ILoveMyWork | Writersmelon

Back in November 2016, Writersmelon gave a writing prompt and asked to spin a little story around it.

The prompt was #ILoveMyWork and the idea was to write about the work you do, the work you’d love to do or whether the work that you’re doing is what you love.

An hour before the deadline, a limerick popped in my head which I recalled from something I wrote about a year ago. I thought it would make for an interesting insight into the work I did before and what I did now.

So I added about 150 words to it, just to make it worth its literary weight (in the literal sense), and sent it off as a laugh.

No wonder it came as a surprise when it got selected in the Top 10 entries.

Read it here: Time To Smell The Flowers. I am sure many of you will relate to it.

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Image Source: Stock Image from Dreamstime.com as also used on Writersmelon.com

Personal Effects | Short Story Winner | December 2016 Muse of the Month | Women’s Web

I am not sure exactly how I happened to stumble upon the idea behind this story. I do remember though, that I had been working on another piece of short fiction when the phrase ‘Personal Effects’ popped into my head. I knew right then that I wanted to use this.

I kept playing with it for a few days, unsure of the direction to take it in, until I read the December 2016 theme for Women’s Web Muse of the Month.

It was a line from the book, Shakuntala: The Play of Memory, written by Namita Gokhale – “There is love and understanding in this knowledge. There is sorrow.”

Suddenly, the story began to take shape and all the pieces fell into place.

Without a doubt, I am elated that ‘Personal Effects’ has been selected a winner for this month’s theme by Namita Gokhale, Founder director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and an author known for her adaptations of classical myths and literature.

You may follow the Facebook link as shown above to read the complete story.

Don’t forget to leave your comments on it. Your feedback will go a long way in helping me improve myself. 🙂