@rabhinand
Ramya Abhinand
Book lover, Book Blogger and Book reviewer
How to Create Superfast Content for Your Book BlogSpread the love 121 1 It’s been five years as a book blogger. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in these years is to update the blog with regular posts. Balancing my reading as well as writing reviews often get to be quite tedious. Yet, I have to do it for the sake of my regular readers. After a considerable amount of brainstorming I identified ideas on the kind of posts this blog could have, or for that matter any other book blog. I try to retain my individual voice in each of my posts and also work towards bringing in a fresh perspective on a range of bookish topics. I worked on developing an editorial schedule that spaced out posts, reviews and listicles. Here is a simple list for fellow book bloggers to create engaging content to the book and reader community at large. Of course reviews What’s a book blog without reviews? To me it’s akin to a pizza without cheese. Reviews could also include books from yesteryear, classics and all-time bestsellers. Adding an authentic summary to it, along with an individual opinion, make them stand out from among the plethora of reviews that flood the online sphere on a daily basis. Listicles Honestly these are my favourite kind of posts. I love to group books and thoughts into little lists that serve as a quick read for my audience. I generally group books of a genre or author. I have realized over a period of time that these are the kind of posts my readers have loved the most. Short summaries of the books make it easy for readers. It has also helped readers make quick choices when they are trying to pick up their next read. Medium of reading I haven’t really written much about this but have read many posts that speak about apps and devices that aid reading. There is the Kindle, Mobi reader and audio books available these days. The choices are not limited, for apart from books, there are podcasts as well. Posts that highlight and suggest options for readers would be of great value. Book quotes Posts dedicated to book quotes could be introduced to readers once in a way. It sure is interesting to have multiple great lines in one single screen. I would recommend grouping quotes on the basis of either genre or author; adds more meaning to the entire post on quotes. Cover reveal Book publishers love doing cover reveals through book bloggers before a book is out. It creates a bit of hype around the launch of the book. I haven’t worked much on such posts, but do believe such posts are a great way to boost popularity in the bookish community. Author interviews Yet again, something I don’t personally enjoy doing, but well, if you are able to create an engaging and authentic Q and A session with an author, would highly recommend it. It’ll be a value to your audience and readers. Guest posts Guest posts are a wonderful way to keep the blog updated as you spend your time trying to finish the book in hand. Including fellow book bloggers speak about their favourite books or book haul is an interesting way to bring in a personal touch to the blog. Monthly and yearly round up posts Similarly, monthly and yearly round-up posts are a fun way of getting your regular readers to know more about what you loved reading and what you disliked the most. Reading challenges Beginning of every New Year most book lovers embark on one or the other reading challenge. I love speaking about mine as it not only keeps me motivated to read more and discover more genres; it in turn also motivates my fellow book lovers. Would you have other interesting bookish topics? Share your thoughts in the comments. Like it? Pin it! Featured image: Pixabay Spread the love 121 1
1
Holiday Stories And a Season Gone BySpread the love 24 The fierce summer heat nearly drained out my entire energy this year. Apart from my daily routine, work and the mandatory socializing my life requires me to do, I had to engage my two girls through their vacation. It was the heat that sapped my energy….not theirs! As I waited for the constantly eluding summer shower that would lower the temperature, the girls seldom seemed to be perturbed by the fiery heat of the season. The energy levels at an all-time high once the schools closed in the first week of May, they spent the first few weeks cycling around the cantonment, binging on mangoes and ice creams with friends from the neighborhood, running on the streets and just doing other crazy things we adults wouldn’t imagine. It’s amazing isn’t it? When we let kids be just kids they are happy and don’t complain about the things we adults often do- such as the heat. Love for reading Much as I was glad to see them be just kids, the sweltering heat in the afternoons made me force them to stay indoors. I am glad the older one loves to read which made the afternoon hours pass by. The library in the neighborhood is now a favorite weekend outing. Thankfully it is a generous place that allows us to borrow five books at a time. This generosity has allowed the older one to explore books of various kinds. Puffin’s gift So when Puffin sent them an anthology of short stories, the excitement of the girls could just not be contained. The Puffin Book of Holiday Stories turned out to be a favourite book for both of them this season. Where the older one read the entire bunch of fourteen stories all by herself, I enjoyed the time spent reading these stories aloud to the little one. Though a perfect read for a ten year old, the stories with a little bit of simplification worked for my younger one too. The stories are drawn from everyday objects and experiences. From the clever parrot called Carrot who enters summer school, to a young boy who swallows a whole snake, the tales are hilarious. The book features some lovely authors such as Ruskin Bond, Sudha Murty, Shabnam Minwalla, to name a few. The collection has stories of courage, humor, adventure, friendship and family. So along with just reading out the stories, it made for a lovely session to discuss such matters with the girls. The season winds up as monsoon descends upon us The last few days of vacation are probably the laziest of days. The girls reluctantly prepare their things for the new school session. Summer season has almost come to an end and the fierce sun has slowly moved behind the clouds. The walls of my home are still lined with the pink tinted bougainvillea, as I patiently wait for the monsoon showers to lash down. It is a season I love the most, with the freshness that it brings to everything around. Hoping there would be more books to read as we dig into crispy pakodas and a cup of hot chai to go with it. *This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest and unbiased review Spread the love 24
1
Of Bombay, Homes, Life and Other Things- Milk Teeth by Amrita MahaleSpread the love 46 For a debut novel Amrita Mahale’s Milk Teeth comes across as a fairly decent read. Set in Mumbai, or rather I must say the world that was once Bombay, it weaves a simple tale of friendship and love. From the changing face of a city to the changes in gen next, the book captures more than just middle class aspirations. It pulls in the right emotions, oozing out excessive nostalgia of a society that once was. Getting to the story Ira Kamat and Karthik Kini share quite a bit in common. Childhood buddies, the two grow up in a middle class housing society –Asha Nivas- in Matunga. Their mothers are friends too, thus giving them enough opportunity to play and grow up together. As years move on, the two slowly move apart, pursuing their respective careers and goals. Ira turns out to become a journalist on the civic beat, uncovering stories of corruption that is widespread around in the town municipality. Karthik lands himself a plush corporate job with a multi-national corporate. Years later they meet again and a web of emotions pull them together as they try to re-establish their friendship. Amidst this is the building they live in. Asha Nivas is caught in a tangle of re-development, and the occupants of the society are at loggerheads over the compensation they are owed from the landlord. The wind of liberalization is blowing, Bombay turns into Mumbai. The two young adults find themselves battling their own issues- Ira with her memories of a lost love and Karthik struggling to find his own true self. How do they untangle themselves from it all? Does life give them the answers to all their perplexities? Love, companionship and self-discovery, Milk Teeth may be a road already travelled. Yet it brings in an element of freshness in its writing making it a pleasurable read. Ooh and the ah! “In short, there was life beyond nostalgia. But surely there was life beyond greed too, beyond sucking your city dry….” There are words that spark an emotion, and then there are words that communicate a thought. When you combine the two you get a narrative that surely is going to be impressive. Mahale’s writing can stir in that nostalgia, irrespective of whether you belong to Mumbai or not. For, the middle class life and aspirations that have been sketched out in the book is relatable in every aspect. The detailing of simple pleasures, such as the families’ weekend outing to South Mumbai- the charm of Churchgate station and the breeze across the Oval Maidan, can well be felt. Simple straightforward dialogues between characters carry forth the story in a well-paced manner. Mahale has managed to address ideologies of globalization, feminism, religious differences and the changing value system, well within the periphery of her narration. The book does come with its own share of minor shortcomings (though I wouldn’t really want to call it one). It does wind up on a predictable note and the excitement that was generated in the first half of the book, does begin to fizzle out to a certain extent. But considering the exquisiteness in the choice of words and the descriptions throughout, I would prefer to overlook this shortcoming. Milk Teeth is a book that could stir in a whole lot of nostalgia. Read it with a relaxed mind; it would soothe you with its words, without putting much strain on your imagination. My rating: 3 of 5 stars View all my reviews The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format. Disclaimer: This blog post contains an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission, if you click through and make a purchase. Spread the love 46
1
Five Reasons Why I did not Enjoy Circe by Madeline MillerThere were many reasons to pick up Circe by Madeline Miller. The book comes with an interesting cover, has garnered rave reviews in bookish circles and has won the Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 for Fantasy Fiction. This also coupled with the fact that I have never read Greek Mythology till date, and was intrigued to know more about it. With all the excitement shrouding Circe, I embarked on my reading journey to only realize that I was soon to be let down. Now don’t get me wrong here, the book isn’t bad, but there really aren’t any strong reasons to make me consider it a favourite one. Circe- The mythical tale from Greece She is known to be an enchantress who wove her magic around Odysseus and possessed powers that could turn men into pigs, if irked by them. Circe- born in the house of Helios, the God of the Sun and the mightiest of the Titans, is strange in many a ways. Not a beauty, nor as powerful as her father or her siblings, she grows up neglected and ridiculed. This makes her turn around to the world of mortals for love and compassion. In the process, she discovers her strong powers of witch craft that could transform beings into unfavorable forms. Threatened by this ability of hers she is banished to a deserted island. It is here that Circe hones her skill, taming wild animals and turning men into pigs. But all doesn’t remain well for Circe. As a woman standing alone, she draws the wrath of men and God.Circe needs to fight it out, to protect the things and people she loves the most. She beckons her inner strength and power to combat to finally decide where she actually belongs- the Gods she is born to or the mortals she has grown to love. As interesting as this plot sounds, I must lay bare what clicked and what did not for me. Getting to the positive aspects of the book A character driven book: Circe is one of those rare books where it is the character who speaks out more than the plot. With a strong central character, Circe rules over every page. As you read about who she is and how she deals with the hurdles that come here way, you sense her inner strength. In the time of #MeToo, here is a female protagonist who teaches you to fight your own battles. The prose: Very expressive with metaphoric descriptions to communicate thoughts. Despite being a fresh take on the ancient Greek mythical, the authenticity is kept intact( so I did my google based research on the depictions to arrive at this conclusion). Riveting sections: Portions of the book had me hooked where I just wouldn’t want to put it down. But do note, this is barely 25% of the book. What I did not like It drags and drags and drags. Every episode and occurrence was far too stretched out over multiple pages. It did make me yawn, skip a few pages and take a break to stretch those frozen arms. There was too much effort to complete it. I would attribute this to the lack of crispness in writing. It indeed is a simple plot; yet unnecessary complexities added made it a book that required a lot of effort to read. Too many secondary characters seemed irrelevant to the central character of the book. In the initial half of the book, the secondary characters don’t add much value to the intrinsic part of the story.  It just was so time consuming to soak them up all in and I failed to keep a track of all of them. Loose ends: Various sub plots closed with loose ends left me with more questions than answers after I completed reading the book. The ending majorly failed for me. It seemed more reflective. After all that had been built around Circe and the strength she possessed, the finale seemed too weak, not befitting her persona depicted. So do you pick it upon? Pick it up if you love reading books that have a popularity or award tag. Pick it up if you savor anything to do with Greek mythology. Pick it up if the pace of the book being slow isn’t going to bother you much. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format. Disclaimer: This blog post contains an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission, if you click through and make a purchase. Spread the love5  107      112Shares
1
The Day Grandmother DiedPaati* died on a Friday. In the wee hours of a cold December morning in Bangalore, she breathed her last at the age of 97. As the first rays of the sun brought in the much needed warmth, we heaved a sigh of relief amidst the coldness of death. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I loved Paati, in fact all of us did. She was the back bone of the family. Yet, standing by the bedside that morning and looking at her still face, I was glad it was all over. It was a long drawn battle with Alzheimer’s. Days passed into weeks and weeks into years, until she was reduced to a mere frame. It was a painful sight. Unable to move she would have pipes to feed her and an attender who would take care of the body and its needs. Lying still on her bed, Paati slowly failed to recognize any one of us. But for some strange reason her life clung on to her body, refusing to let go. She was the kindest of souls in my life. I still remember my childhood days spent in her lovely little home in Chennai. The kitchen would be stocked up with the most yummy savories and sweets and every meal would be a surprise. She did belong to a generation that was far healthier. No wonder Paati outlived many family members who were younger than her. One person’s belief is absurdity to another Paati believed that there was more to life than eye can see. She would tell me tales of angels & demons, and that it is only good deeds that would land you a place in heaven. Stirring the demons inside would warrant a place in hell. She had once sat me down and expressed her deep down desire to leave the mortal world on “Vaikunta Ekadasi” day. An extremely auspicious days for Hindus, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is believed that dying on this day could liberate the soul from the cycle of birth and death. To me this seemed to be an absurd thought. I would spend hours arguing with her with all my scientific practicality that we humans are just a complex structure of energy blocks. The existence of hell & heaven and soul liberation is just religious folklore. During the days leading to her end, I would spend a great deal of time by her side holding her hand and staring at its great detail. The bulging nerves, the pale skin,the shriveled up palm and it’s hardened lines, it spoke volumes of who we actually are. That Friday morning as we sat preparing for her journey to the other side of life, my eyes casually fell on the Tamil calendar hanging by her bedside. It was Vaikunta Ekadasi day! Did the soul deliberately hang on? Was it paranormal or, just a mere co-incidence? I didn’t have an answer. But I heaved a bigger sigh of relief that her deepest desire of liberation from birth and death had been fulfilled. It didn’t matter any more if it sounded absurd. It just was her belief. How far do we need to go? Death begins when life ceases. And life ceases when we lose the ability to be an active part of our home, society and world; when we are robbed of our creativity and who we actually are. Paati had already died when she began her energy-sapping battle with Alzheimer’s. Just that her soul thought otherwise, and preferred to cling on to her body. Advancements in modern medicine present us with opportunities to live longer lives and fight life threatening diseases at a chronic stage for longer periods of time. But living too long with a declining state of health is worse than death in itself. Much as we all want our loved ones to live life for eternity- life that is just hanging on by a thin string is pain that only death can cure. A tear drop and a smile, life goes on It is said that the brain stays active for a few moments after that last breath. In those wee hours of morning, as Paati finally let go, a single tear drop fell from her eye. A faint smile froze on her face; it seemed she was at peace finally. Life sure did move on. Her rocking chair, the prayer beads and her memories became prized possessions. *Paati- Grandmother in Tamil| Featured Image : Pixabay Spread the love2  4      6Shares
1
Lessons from a Tenth BirthdayMy first born turned ten over the weekend, which means it’s a decade since I’ve become a parent. Ten years ago I breathed through all my contractions and saw that tiny bundle of flesh in my hands for the first time. And as cliché as it may sound, at that moment, I remember making that promise like all parents that I’d try and be the best one. But it is only after a decade that I realize that there is no such thing as a “best” parent. So like all other occasions, celebrating her tenth birthday seemed important. For, one surely needs to create warm memories for the child to carry for a long time to come. As the day passed with celebrations, party poppers, games, squeals and return gifts, I found my mind traversing back across years to my childhood- to my very own tenth birthday. Wondering why? I unabashedly admit that I am a product of the eighties and nineties It is something I am proud of and cherish dearly. No wonder nostalgia picks me up quite easily. My tenth birthday was special, but not in a manner most would deem fit in today’s Instagram times. Until the morning of my tenth, there weren’t any discussions of an approaching one in the household. Growing up in a traditional “Tambrahm” home, the concept of birthdays and celebrations were way different from the rest. Birthdays were celebrated on the day one’s Nakshatram appeared as per the Tamil calendar month (the star appearing on the sky as per the traditional lunar calendar). In fact in all innocence, we kids in the household believed that each person had two birthdates to celebrate in a year- a Tamil and an English one. Getting back to my tenth birthday (as per the calendar date), after a considerable amount of nagging (which was termed as a stubborn fit by my parents), in the morning hours before school my father decides to get me a packet of toffees from the local baker. I had them stuffed into a blue round tin biscuit box that was otherwise used by my mother to store her sewing accessories. I was ready to distribute them to my friends at school, not in the prettiest of frocks, but in the regular school uniform. However, it just did not matter, for clutching that blue box tight at my heart; I was the happiest child that day. How I loved the horde of children who swarmed around me trying to lay their hands on an extra toffee or two. My day was made. There was a more elaborate celebration on the day my Nakshtram came up on the Tamil calendar, with a feast of paal payasam (rice kheer) and a visit to the nearby temple in the evening. A tenth birthday was celebrated. Looking back, I am convinced that my heart must have been content. No wonder, even after almost thirty years these thoughts are still fresh in my mind. Sans a fancy party, clothes or a pile of gifts, memories had been made. Life was that simple!!! Reflections as a parent As I reflected on these thoughts this weekend, I couldn’t help but question myself. Was I actually creating warm memories for my daughter? In my quest to shower her with warmth and love on her special day, why did everything suddenly seem so superficial to me? Unexpectedly, the answers to these I found on my own, while reading the copy of Geroge and Weedon Grossmith’s Diary of a Nobody. The book is a constant companion and has never failed to make me look at life’s little pomposities and inanities in a different light. There is no denying that growing up and parenting too, is not really the way it was years back. Somewhere between being a child of ten, to a parent of a ten year old, numerous changes have crept in and around the world I am part of. The best of pleasure in life is still derived from little things! However, the definition of simple things has changed now. And accepting this understanding is what we as parents must do. Life probably isn’t that complex after all. It is just us, trying to adapt to the vagaries of time! *Featured image source: Pixabay Spread the love10  9      19Shares
2