The Liebster Award

Leibster award

An Award! A Nomination!….What ……what’s happening? Do I have to get on a stage! Receive a trophy!.. Do a speech!.. In front of…..PEOPLE!!……What’s that?……No, I don’t? , You sure?……….It’s just on the net?……Promoting new blogs by fellow bloggers ? ……Really?……Phewwwwwww , Yeah that’s my kind of award alright.

Thank you PRANEET SHEKHAR for nominating me. The guy writes some damn good poetry both in Hindi and English, so do check his blog out.

The Rules Are:

  • Acknowledge the blog/s who nominated you and display the award
  • Answer the eleven question that the blogger gives you
  • List 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate upto eleven other blogs that you think are deserving of this award (with less than 200 followers)
  • Let the bloggers know you have nominated them
  • Give them 11 questions to answer

Now, Let’s see..  11 Random facts about myself

  1. I love reading (pfff! you do book review blogs and love reading!…bahh!), yeah I get it, not so random after all huh.
  2. I have a job with… a company almost everyone in this world has heard about (don’t be so surprised, they will hire anyone these days it seems).
  3. I am a night owl.
  4. I also like poetry and Music, each and every kind, poetry specially Ghazals and Music specially sufi. Others too but these I admire the most.
  5. In books, I prefer ‘Historical Fiction’, ‘Mythology’ ,’Dark or High Fantasy’, ‘Pulp and Noir Fiction’ and everything else written under the sun……..or the moon.
  6. I like taking long walks, specially when its dark and the streets are deserted (No, I am not a serial killer….or am I?) and (No, I do not recommend it, have almost been mugged twice, almost)
  7. I like the rain, in all its fury and glory (Yeah the sunshine too, but who doesn’t like that)
  8. ‘North’ Indian food is life, don’t know what that is? Google it my friends, you are missing what heaven tastes like.
  9. I have grand designs and ambitions to see the world which are severely hampered by my laziness and lack of …well……funds.
  10. Ohh! and Assassin’s creed Brotherhood and Black flag are two of my best played games ever.
  11. I own a Kindle and a lot of books and am one of those unbiased guys who value words, in whatever format they may present themselves. Even audio books.

So, Whats next, Ahh Questions by PRANEET SHEKHAR :-

  1. Who Or What Inspires You?
    Ans:-  Life and Books, Books and Life, and the occasional beautiful face of-course.
  2. What Was The First Thought When You Started Writing?
    Ans:-  That “…..Absolutely in no circumstance…..should anybody be allowed to read this nonsense.”
  3. Which Is Your Favorite Post Of Mine?
    Ans :- Ahh you clever devil!. “मैं चुप रहता हूं…”  Because of these last words “बड़े तबियत से तोड़ा है दिल
    बस अब मुझे देखने तक को तरस जाएंगे!” I mean dilljalleee!!!!
  4. What Would You Do If There Is No Blogging?
    Ans:- Would irritate everyone in my social circle with my half attempts at poetry and my over enthusiastic book recommendations(oh wait, I do that already) OR hire the services of a psychiatrist perhaps.
  5. Where Would You Like To Go For Your Honeymoon?
    Ans:- Hmm….Bhutan. There’s just something about that country. OR Greenland/Antarctica, for obvious reasons.
  6. Which Language Would You Like To Learn?
    Ans:- Ahh many!…….Urdu, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian and French.
  7. Which Is Your Favorite Character?
    Ans:- It’s a three-way tie between ‘Sand dan Glokta‘ from ‘The First Law‘ series, ‘Tyrion Lannister‘ from Game of Thrones and ‘Harry Potter‘ from you know what.
  8. If You Could Have One Superpower, What It Would Be And Why?
    Ans:- Teleportation, like in the book & movie ‘Jumper‘, Why? Seriously?.. Morning Coffee in Brazil, Afternoon on a California Beach, Evening in an European night club and you still get to wake up in your own bed. That my friend is the LIFE!.
  9. Which Are The Two Words In Which You Can Sum Up Your Life You Have Lived Till Now?
    Ans:- ‘Endless Confusion’
  10. What Is Love According To You?
    Ans:-  Let…..me…….get………back……to you on that.
  11. If You Can Express Your Current Situation in Short Poetry, What It Would Be?
    Ans:-
    “बे-क़रारी सी बे-क़रारी है
    वस्ल है और फ़िराक़ तारी है
    जो गुज़ारी न जा सकी हम से
    हम ने वो ज़िंदगी गुज़ारी है”   ~ जौन एलिया

And now to pass the madness on, My Nominees For Liebster Award are: –

  1. Anabhigya
  2. At least I’m Well-Read
  3. Priya’s blog
  4. Funmi’s thoughts

My Questions to the nominees……

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. Do you keep deadlines for your blog posts?
  3. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  4. What is your greatest desire and your greatest fear?
  5. What’s that one place and one book that you absolutely love and would want everyone to travel and read ?
  6. If you could have one superpower, What would it be and why?
  7. Given the choice of anyone in the world whom would you want as a dinner guest and why?
  8. Wine or Whiskey Or Vodka or Beer or what? Why or Why not?
  9. Which was or is your favorite cartoon ? Why?
  10. What would you do if there was no “blogging”?
  11. A romantic one liner, for your present or future ‘Love to be’?

Thanks for the nomination again PRANEET SHEKHAR , and to all my nominees, I look forward to your responses. Keep writing keep reading.

liebster-award-a

कलाम क्या लिखूँ

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ज्यों की कैद कर सकूँ उनके सारे रंग, ऐसे शब्दों के बाण क्या लिखूँ

ज्यों की बरी हौं जाऊं उनकी सज़ा से, कोई ऐसा बयान क्या लिखूँ

जिनका होना ‘होने’ पर खुद ही एक क़सीदा हो, उन पर कोई क़सीदा क्या लिखूँ

उनकी नाक पें सजे नग पे, कुछ यूँ हूँ फ़िदा की क्या लिखूँ

शहद से मीठी मुस्कान हो जिनकी, उनसे मीठी जुबान में क्या लिखूँ

उनके चेहरे को पढ़ने में लग जाए सदिया, मैं एक ही जान में क्या लिखूँ

जिनके काजल से शर्मा गयी ये श्याही, कलम में इस,  उस श्याही से क्या लिखूँ

जिनके लिए क़यामत टाल दे ख़ुदा, मैं उनकी शान में क्या लिखूँ

जिनकी जुल्फों की छाँव से जलती हों रातें, उस गहरी शाम में क्या लिखूँ

जिनके नाम से भर दूँ सेंकडौ दीवान, उन पर ‘एक’ ही कलाम क्या लिखूँ

Her kohl laden eyes

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I have beheld a sight more magnificent

 Than the sparkling night skies.

 Drowned in them,

Lost in them,

Drunk from them,

 Them what?

Why, Her kohl laden eyes.

I have seen sadness more acute

Than a child’s wails and cries.

A caged soul in them,

A wet wrong in them,

A woeful song in them,

Them what?

Why, Her kohl laden eyes.

I have felt frustration more maddening

Than a cripple’s dance and tries

Crushed by them,

Rebuffed by them,

Handcuffed by them,

Them What?

Why, Her Kohl laden eyes.

Book Review: The Hero of Ages :- “Third Time’s Really the Charm!”

heroofagesen1-b

4/5 Stars, Goodreads Rating System

“THE BEST WAY TO FOOL SOMEONE, was to give them what they wanted. Or, at the very least, what they expected. As long as they assumed that they were one step ahead, they wouldn’t look back to see if there were any steps that they’d completely missed.” ~Brandon Sanderson

Oh you deviously clever clever man, Mr. Sanderson. I love it! There! There’s no other way to put it. This is without a doubt one of the best ending to a fantasy trilogy I have ever read. Don’t you love it when it all comes together beautifully, surprising you a bit at how perfectly it all fits.

Blurb :- Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world.

Ever since I started The Final Empire, I was apprehensive about the end of the series, the mistborn universe was so good, the characters were so well developed and the story line with all its structured magic and constant plot twists was so engaging, that I thought this is too good to end on a good high. You kind of feel that way about a fantasy series, but dear me, was I ever wrong to doubt, to lose faith because Brandon Sanderson is the real Hero of Ages for fantasy writing. Even though his writing style is simple, you feel the world for all its complexities and interlaced storylines ever so acutely. In some books you have to give a lot of leeway to the author, take his leaps for granted, stifling your urge to scratch away at the cracks or to demand answers to actually engross in the book like The Gunslinger by King, people have loved that book but I just couldn’t, there were just too many holes, leaps that I just couldn’t love it all the way. No such trouble here, The Final Empire was to my mind kind of a standalone book, it didn’t give you too hard a time about anything, introduced to an awesome new world, to a intriguing cast of characters and left you a little curious. The Well of ascension again furthered the world building, made you comfortable with the characters and DID leave you with questions, as the second book in the trilogy that was its rightful function. The Hero of Ages, was the end, the book of answers and although I did not expect it, Answers it did provide, for Everything! Each little story line was linked, it was all part of the plan, the dominoes all fell into their respective places in the end and you go ‘Woaaahhhhh!’

One of the main strengths of this book , is the character development of “Spook” , “Sazed” and “Tensoon” , though ‘Sazed’ has been one of my favorite characters in the series since Book 1, the other two were also infinitely enjoyable. The other strength is the Story-line itself, “You Don’t know what I do for Mankind.” The lord ruler had exclaimed in the first book, and boy was he right, I mean seriously, after reading this one you say to yourself “You knew nothing Jon Snow“, and that was the intention, crafty little Mr.Sanderson had the whole thing figured out since page 1 of book 1, he didn’t go in blind, he started this thing having the whole damn map and deliberately hid, blurred or plain hoodwinked us into not paying enough attention, until it was time and he went Abra-ka-Dabra. Good one Sir, Good one indeed.

The world building in these books was phenomenal, at par with Martin or Rowling or even Tolkein I dare say (Okay, maybe not that intricate, but pretty damn close). The landscape with its various dominances, the Ash mounds, the Red sun, the constantly falling ash, brown plants and the mists. I mean talk about a world which knew that there’s some seriously wrong shit going down in it, and you would get the Mistborn Universe. With its creatures and species and the whole hierarchical hullabaloo, its pretty fantastic.

This is a gem of a fantasy, a novel, a series rather, which every fantasy lover should read at least once, Okay maybe twice, maybe give it another go after reading all the side books too, okay maybe read it every two years, when you want to get lost somewhere.

 

Book Review: The Well of Ascension :- *~Appreciative Whistles 1, 2, 3……~*

Well of Ascension

4/5 Stars Goodreads Rating System

“I kind of lost track of time…”
“For two hours?”
Elend nodded sheepishly. “There were books involved.”   ~Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, That’s kind of how I felt while reading this book. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true, I experienced this one through Audio-book format, almost 29 hrs worth of audio, so time is one thing that I could keep a track of, though I still successfully lost myself into it.

The fabulous world of Mistborn with which Mr. Sanderson acquainted us in The Final Empire undergoes some dramatic changes in the trilogy’s 2nd installment. Understandably so if you think about it, What happens when you upset 1000 year old established order of things ? When you do the impossible and kill God ? When an empire which was united due to tyrannical terror has nothing to be afraid of anymore? When it’s ‘everyone for themselves’? And everything is up for grabs? The answer is simple, Chaos, chaos reigns. And so, what happens to the City which was home to the Almighty? It gets besieged of course, not by one not by two but by three armies, and the people trying to rule it, well, they find its not all that simple. After every Revolution comes a time of chaotic adjustment, that brief period where the people who fought so hard for their freedom doubt whether they have done the right thing. Specially, If there’s a chance that a thing worse than the overthrown tyrant ‘Lord Ruler’ waited in the shadows.

Brandon Sanderson, has earned himself a fan. Though, this is only my 2nd book by him, I absolutely love his storytelling skills, its completely engrossing. And though the book could feel like it drags a bit in the middle (not to me, nope, not to me at all) nothing was ever redundant. The plot of this book, Its fantastic characters and Sanderson’s writing prowess are absolutely awesome. This series, to my mind, is in league with the most famous fantasy works, a bit darker than ‘Harry Potter‘, and a bit lighter than ‘The First Law‘ series. This book, I felt was a preparation pad for all the characters of the series, understandable, the first one introduces you to the world, the problem and then stirs the pot quite vigorously, the second one would be chaotic, where everyone involved(The characters) will have to pull up their socks, tuck in their fears and grow and adapt through it all, the third, well, we could hope will be THE Showdown. Though, this by no means indicate that this book lacks action, although intrigue and politics take much of its space, the interest or the excitement in the story never wavers. The Characters of ‘Vin’, ‘Elend’ & ‘Sazed’ were most enjoyable, each struggling with a herculean task, their stories and POV’s were the focal point of interest and excitement.

I enjoyed this immensely, even though it had some cringe worthy romantic moments, but teenagers (the characters I mean), what could you expect, really. I am not even pissed that I will have to read the next one immediately, because that Ending, …well,…..okay, that Ending won’t let you rest with contentment, like the first one did. It practically thumps away in your head, you have to get the next one. I am very much looking forward to it. To all who love fiction and specially fantasy, Ladies and Gentleman, we have struck Gold with this series. Pick it up, oh you absolutely must.

 

Waiting for her Call

She said wait for my call

And as I sit here thinking

With a whirlwind in my head yet eyes unblinking

Reminiscing the exact moment of my fall

I can think of no good reason not to bawl

About love, women and the unfairness of it all

For is love really spring among seasons

A pleasure so unique amongst life’s many renditions

That it could make a practical man lose all reason

And make him bet everything on her toss or her roll

I hear the mocking sound of a clock chiming away

Belittling my vigil, its amusement echoing in this hall

For every second is a clap and every minute a slap

To the faith of this furiously expectant idiot of a chap

And yet he restrains himself, from banging his head on the wall

For he has been told

To wait for her call

Book Review: Midnight’s Children: – “A mind-boggling beauty of Literature “

Midnight's Childern

5/5 Stars

“To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world” ~Salman Rushdie

There’s something to be said about digressions, about the chaos of thoughts one after the other, mingling and colliding like waves of an uneasy ocean. Thoughts disjointed and devoid of sense in their individuality, yet in the end meaningful to each other, like various little pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle where two pieces could be as different as structurally possible and yet in the end complete each other and ultimately give that final reward ‘Meaning’, ‘Sense’ and of-course the feeling of accomplishment as we gaze at the full picture. The phrase “Learn how to see, Realize that everything connects to everything else” by Da Vinci comes to mind.

The narration of Saleem Sinai in this book gives truth to these words. Before delving into the story and its symbolism then, lets take a look at its structure, there are books written in First person style or a Third person style,  this uses both of them, sometimes Saleem refers directly to himself, sometimes still referring to himself he takes a third person approach, this amalgamation of narration gives this book a unique advantage, it can take philosophical detours and yet stay true to the story, it skews the events keeping the protagonist (in his delusion, truth , fallacy, we never really truly care) at the center of everything . Our hero (for the lack of a better word) is truly fickle in his tale and he admits it freely. This delving into the mind, sifting through thoughts, one moment at the start of something, the next revealing the end prematurely, connecting invisible dots, impossible theories. And you never really question any of it. Continuously in the tale he will give away the end, then delve back through much of his own musings of fantastic philosophies and start the story from the beginning, summarizing for our benefit all that transpired and how it connects (or seems to connect for him). Books that can successfully pull this off are hard to find (maybe “I, Lucifer” by glen Duncan or “The slow regard of Silent things” by Patrick Rothfuss), harder to read as well, not for everybody, the ramblings of a madman truly appeal to the mad, or do they? just to the mad?  The enormous success of this book decorated with “Man Booker Prize (1981), The Booker of Bookers Prize (1993), The Best of the Booker (2008) would suggest otherwise.

Magical Realism or Fabulism call it what you will, was a concept with which I had a passing acquaintance, courtesy of Neil Gaiman & his books “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys“, but to experience it so profoundly was a first, perhaps because I was familiar with the setting (India, Independence and its struggles) or perhaps Salman Rushdie is just a master of this world and his book an absolute masterpiece of this genre. And so we delve into the story which mixes realty and magic and cares not for the truth because “What’s Real and What’s true aren’t necessarily the same“. So,on 15th Aug 1947, when Nehru declared to the world “….At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…”, along with India awoke 1001 new born children, as special and full of possibilities as the newborn country itself. Midnight’s Children with fabulous potential and special powers of which Saleem perhaps was the greatest. But yet the story doesn’t start there, no sir, it takes 32 years and 170 pages to reach there, the story starts in 1915 Kashmir among rubies, diamonds and a spectacular Nose. With Saleem’s grandfather. To truly understand a person you have to swallow the world indeed. Or as he aptly summarized in the book.

“Who What am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”

You are getting the allure, aren’t you. And so, you hear him out from Kashmir to Bombay to Karachi to Dhaka to Delhi, you hear him out and all the lives that he touched or that touched him. The greatest of which was the nation itself, a life which rivaled history in its incredulity. The symbolism in the story might not be apparent to some, to me it was, but I can totally understand the confusion. The story travels with India on its journey to independence to partition to its flirtations with socialism communism to corruption to its wars of 1947  ’65 ’71 to its period of emergency 1975-77. Narrated by the person who shoulders the responsibility for everything and when I say everything I do mean everything.

The prose style Rushdie has used is marvelous, I have not read many post modern books but, this multitude of awesomeness has convinced me to pay more attention. The literary significance of this work would be apparent to almost everybody who read it. Frustrating is a word I am trying to avoid because generally frustrating books don’t keep me up at nights, when only the inability of my eyes to not stop burning force me against my wishes to give it a rest. So frustrating ,No, complex, Yes, maddening at times, Definitely, Goddamn this book is off the chain, a capital YES. And so this book will have a rare honor in my library, having a 5 star rating and a ‘mind-boggling’ tag. In one of the many reviews I read “This book is Rushdie’s love letter to India” and I concur, that is a most apt analogy, as this book not only celebrates the ‘crowd’ and multitude of concepts that form my country but also embraces the dark side of it, and shows that hope though not always but many a time trumps hate and when it does the result is a chaotic beauty of infinite proportions. I urge everyone to pick this one up, fully realizing that perhaps not everyone will be able to. So, to everyone who does the rewards would be fantabulous but beware ‘Here there be Dragons’.