Knitted Tales - Review

Rubina Ramesh is usually very visible on social media as a marketeer and an entrepreneur promoting books. In the book "Knitted Tales", she takes off the hat of reviewer, entrepreneur and digital marketing strategist and instead dons the hat of a writer. After all despite all her other roles, at heart she is an author. This I think is important from the view of her other roles as well. I always believe one has to be really passionate and sincere about the product for one to be a good marketeer or an entrepreneur.

Without much further ado, let me get into the book. Let me go step by step - first the cover, the title and blurb. The cover image is quite intriguing and draws a reader's attention. The title is again quite an interesting one - knitted tales gives an impression of the stories being a labor of love which is what they are. The blurb gives intriguing tit bits from some of the stories making the reader curious and wanting to know more. So far so good. Coming to the stories themselves, they are a pretty good collection with a good variety. We have a couple of paranormal ones, a couple of mystic ones, a few tragic dramas, a few clever tales and a few innocent feel good drams thus covering a whole gamut of emotions. The overall language is good and the book is well edited. The stories are short and none of them meander needlessly. Overall the book makes quite an effortless read.

Now let me go over the stories one by one in the order of my preference starting with the ones I liked most towards the ones I liked least.

Cliff Notes - An interesting tale told from the point of view of cliff. A kind of mystic tale that winds down to a poignant end exposing the darker side of humanity.

Betrayal - A crime thriller of sorts that keeps the reader on the tenterhooks 

The Little Godmother - This story scores for the sheet innocence of it all.

No Regrets - A clever tale with an interesting twist in the end

Lolita - Playing upon the more popular novel with the same name, Rubina manages to weave together a poignant narrative.

The missing staircase - A surreal kind of a tale with a fitting end.

Daddy, hear me out - An evocative portrayal of a school girl's emotions regarding her career.

Suvarna Rakha - A cliched beaten tale embellished with mythic elements and certain element of surprise to make it an interesting read.

The Other Woman - A story that seems too good to be true with hardly any sign of conflict suddenly serves a whack out of nowhere towards the end.

Forgive me, For I have sinned - A convoluted kind of tale which might appeal to some.

Overall a book very much worth 120 Rs. of your hard earned money and 120 minutes of your time spent away from hard earning money. Do visit here to buy the book on Amazon.

Saved in Sri Lanka

I see books to be of two kinds – ones that make you think and others that give you instant experiences to lighten your mood. There are many that do both as well. But that is beside the point. The thing is we need some books just to lighten our moods. These are what are known as comfort reads. The comfort reads are characterized by predictable uni-dimensional story lines and genre tropes. But still as the name suggests, the ones who find it comforting enjoy the change the same type of story over and over in different settings through the eyes of different characters. Some genres tend to be such comfort reads – action thrillers and romance for instance. Neither genre has somehow held much appeal for me. I have my own comfort reads – mine are children’s stories and tales of exploration in fantasy lands. But then when my forays into social media brought me in touch with a host of romance writers, I knew the day was not far before I would be initiated into this genre. And yes it did when I participated in an online contest organized by one of my friends and ended up winning her book as prize. That is how I landed the book ‘Saved in Sri Lanka’ by Devika Fernando.

Having set some context, let us get to the story. Unlike me here, Devika does not waste any chapters setting the context and jumps straight to the story. We have Sepalika, a Lankan tour guide with a group of tourists on a tour around Lanka setting her eyes upon Daniel Byrne, an Irish tourist and love igniting in her heart on first sight. The whole story is told in third person from Sepalika’s point of view and takes us on a week long journey around Sri Lanka along with Daniel and Sepalika. As we discover the wonders of Sri Lanka along with interesting nuggets on the associated history from the fountain of knowledge on two legs as Daniel describes Sepalika, we also get to know some of her back story. We learn about her family, her dreams, her studies in England and her forced engagement to a local tycoon Mahesh. As the story progresses the romance between the two builds up more and more intensely that would have probably had the romance lovers drooling. For me though all that was more a distraction from the beauties of Sri Lanka. All the rich descriptions of the monuments along with their history, the wonders of nature, the local traditions, cuisines and the flora and fauna are the strong point of the book.

The language is clear and concise and takes you through the story effortlessly. There isn’t much of plot to speak of – there is a simple straightforward conflict and an equally straightforward resolution that won’t unnecessarily tax the reader’s brains. The characterization is limited to Daniel and Sepalika and the entire focus is maintained on them. Even there characters are not unduly complex with multiple shades of grey for the readers to decipher. They are simple people with simple desires. All these make it very good comfort fiction. Most of my favorite children’s fiction enjoy these characteristics too. That is why I feel if this story had been about four children solving a mystery as they go on a tour around Sri Lanka rather than a Sri Lankan tour guide and an Irish tourist falling in love, it would have been just my kind of book.

I will definitely pick up any book this author writes in any of my comfort genres if at all she writes one. As far as my understanding of romance genre goes, this is just their kind of book with all the nice candy floss emotions and detailed descriptions of physiques, clothing and accessories. So I would recommend it as a must read for all romance lovers for whatever a recommendation from a genre noob is worth. Others can still pick it up as a travel guide to Lanka.

You can pick up the book right here on Amazon.

No Safe Zone

When I try to think of an occasion when I was in a complete no safe zone, the one that comes to my mind immediately is on the day I bought my car. I had learnt driving not once but twice and had a valid license as well. But I had never driven alone. I was staying alone and so had no family members to accompany me either. I decided to take the plunge and take a drive to the subway for my lunch. Initially it was all fine - I just had to put my feet on the clutch, turn the key, bring on the first gear, slowly release the clutch, and wait for the car to move and then switch to second gear. Everything was going well as long as I was cruising along the by lanes with hardly any traffic. And then I hit the highway. Suddenly vehicles were coming at me from all directions. There was no one to give me any instructions – to turn right, turn left, speed up, slow down, change gears etc. I was all by myself amongst the crazy traffic. The large trucks and buses that would just crush me to pulp. I was totally terrified. But I managed to hold my nerves and slowly edge my way towards the subway restaurant. It was a huge sigh of relief when I finally managed to park the car outside the subway. But the very thought that I have to drive all the way back home completely took away my appetite. I hung on delaying the inevitable as long as I could, nibbling through the subway bit by bit. But finally the sandwich, the cookies and the coffee as well were done. It was time to get back to the no safe zone.

This post is published as part of the promotional campaign of the book No Safe Zone by Adite Banerjie, a very good friend of mine. She is an amazing author whose works have won acclaim internationally. You can buy her book here

Asterix and the surgical strike

“Did you hear about the surgical strike?”

“Surgical strike? What is that? I don’t think any such thing could have happened without my knowledge. I would have known if somebody had ordered a surgical knife from my husband.”

The third woman, a comely woman with a turned up nose spoke up. “I knew it all along. It is a ploy by Vitalstatistix to prevent my husband Geriatrix from challenging him for the chieftain’s position.”

“Are you questioning the integrity of Asterix?”

“I mean…. Asterix has rendered useful service to the village so many times.”

“But he is lying now?”

“I did not say that. But…”

The plump woman who had been quiet so far spoke up. “But why does Asterix have to steal the glory all the time? My husband Unhygienix should have lead this mission. After all he has so much experience in surgery. “

“You calling his gutting of the stale fish surgery? Come on…”

“Our fish is not stale.”

“It is”

“It is not.”

“All of you stop fighting. This is not the time for your minor squabbles.” A new woman had joined them.

She continued. “We are holding a banquet tonight to celebrate this most glorious occasion in the history of Gaul. You are all invited to join?”

“What glorious occasion?” asked the comely woman.

“Of course the success of the surgical strike ordered by my husband.”

“Your husband? What did he do? It was Asterix who did the strike.”

“Sometime back you were saying Asterix was lying about the strike and now you are saying he carried out the strike. “

“When did I ever say anything against Asterix?”

“Yeah, you are only gunning for my husband Vitalstatistix always, aren’t you?”

“And you always want to ride the success of other Gauls to blow your husband’s trumpet, don’t you?”

Suddenly she found her hair tugged hard to which she responded in kind. The other two tried to intervene only to have their hair literally torn apart by combatants. And in the blink of an eye, a two way contest took a four way turn.

“Ladies! Ladies! Please stop the fighting!”

“You mind your own business, Fulliautomatic, you sycophant!”

“Keep your sharp tongue for your old man, lady!”

Suddenly he felt a hard blow on his shin. “How dare you speak like that to my wife?”

“You always turn up everywhere like a foul smile, don’t you, Geriatrix?”

“Who said foul smell? You better not be talking about my fish.”

Meanwhile in Rome…….

“What do I hear? The Gauls have stuck a blow right in the heart of Roman territory?”

The generals stood silent, their head bowed.

“Speak up, men! Couldn’t the entire might of Rome stand up against two Gauls!”

“They had this…..”

“No! I do not want to hear about magic potions again.”

“But Caesar, the good part is this time we took minimum casualties.”

“Isn’t that even worse? It means you gave up without a fight. I am going to have you all decimated.”

“Wait, Caesar!”

“Et tu, Brute?”

“Lend me your ears, Caesar!”

“And my laurel wreath as well?”

“No Caesar! How can you say this of me? Not that I love you less, but I love Rome more!”

“Ok, whatever! Cut the dramatics and spill it out.”

“We can turn the lack of Roman casualties to our advantage.”

Encouraged by Caesar’s silence and keen look, he continued on, “Let us call out the town criers and have them declare that no strike ever happened. They will go all over the towns and cities and villages declaring no such strike happened.”

A slight smile emerged at the end of Caesar’s lip. “Yes! That might just work. Send out for the announcers! History is written by victors. So we shall conquer and emerge victorious by writing history. Veni! Vidi! Vici! ”

A scene in the middle of the sea…..

“The Gauls are celebrating the surgical strike!”

“But Romans are saying no such strike happened.”

“But we did get bashed up by that fat oaf. Isn’t that why we escaped back into the sea?”

“We get bashed up all the time. No one ever called it surgical strike before.”

“You are right. I am so confused now. If the Gauls are celebrating, it must definitely be something more than a routine bash up.”

“Maybe it has not happened yet. Maybe they are celebrating in anticipation of the strike!”

“No! I hope not. This anticipation is killing me! I can’t take it. Let us just drown our galley and be done with it. At least that way we deny them the chance to claim they did a surgical strike on us.”

And back to Gaul…..

“I think we have enough boars for the banquet tonight”

“Can’t we just pick up just a couple more? You know, in case we run short!” The large man gave the little man a sly wink.

“No, we have enough to go.”

“Not even a teeny weeny one? A surgical strike in the jungle!”

“You and surgical strike, Obelix?”

“Why? You think I can’t be subtle? See how delicately I uproot this tree. “One heave and a tree that had stood for centuries found itself traveling through the air.

“Ok! Ok! I get the point, Obelix. Anyways we did the surgical strike together. But no more boars. We have had enough surgical strikes for the day. If we do any in the jungle, the boars will go on strike in protest.”

The large man sighed. “You never let me express my natural self, Asterix. You are such a control freak. The surgical strike was fun and all but I wish you had let me bash up all those Roman legionaries. And now you are not letting me take any more of the boars.”

“Stop boring me, Obelix. We are getting late for the banquet. Let us be on our way.”

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces