Saturday, 8 February 2014

Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Stars: 3/5
Source: NetGalley

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?


What do you do when you're losing the person who matters the most and suddenly, everything else loses meaning? When all that's left is anger, grief and guilt? Elizabeth Scott explores this in Heartbeat where Emma's senior year is far from what she imagined it would be like. Her mother is brain-dead, still pregnant, kept alive by machines until her baby brother can be born. She's angry that her step-father chose this for her mother... chose to have her kept alive as a vegetable as she believes her mother never wanted the baby in the first place. Her grades have gone out of the window but still, she finds love and support in unexpected places.

Heartbeat was a very difficult book to read and I cannot imagine what it would've been like to write. It reverberates sadness and leaves you at a loss for words. Emma keeps going back and forth, from anger to grief to anger to guilt, and it's frustrating, sometimes monotonous, but also realistic... when she takes her time to waver towards acceptance. I think this was the strongest point of the point... how ongoing the cycle of grief and hopelessness was until the breakthrough.

While the relationship between Emma and Caleb was this ray of light in the otherwise dark place she was in... it didn't convince me. It felt like Caleb just happened to be there and that he had experienced loss at a similar scale helped. I was more gripped by Emma's relationship with her stepfather, the baby, the lingering presence of her mother and her perspective on school and life. How these things were challenged in the face of regrets and blame, and how she came to terms with them.

It took time to get into Heartbeat but at its core, it is a well-written, perspective-changing and poignant read about love, loss and how you never really move on from the latter.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Monday, 3 February 2014

Featuring: Mohini by Ramendra Kumar [Guest Post]

I'm happy to feature Ramendra Kumar on the blog today! Ramendra Kumar is the author of Mohini, which delves deep into the world of Bollywood. Scroll down to read about his take on movies, the kind of books he writes and more :)

A beautiful and charismatic actress, a sensitive and immensely gifted director, a scheming, wily but brilliant manager - Mohini is the pulsating saga of three individuals - each driven by an obsession. Set in the backdrop of the bold and brazen world of Bollywood, it is a tale of passion, intrigue and suspense. The narrative moves at a roller coaster speed and captures love in its myriad shades: infatuation, romance, commitment, lust and obsession...

A young girl growing up in the backwaters of Bollywood nurses a burning desire to become the number one star in the industry. In her ruthless, and sometimes reckless, pursuit she uses and is used by many individuals. However, there are two men in her life who love her to absolute distraction. Each in his own way helps her reach the zenith of fame and success. One she betrays and the other she rejects. Both unleash vengeance and in a strange quirk of serendipity are pitted against each other as the novel hurtles to a throbbing, thrilling climax…

Mohini is not merely a saga of romance - the tale offers an insight into the biggest film industry on Planet Earth - the murky manipulations, the dirty deals, the shameless shenanigans, the tears behind the glycerin, the pain behind the paint and the suffering beyond the celluloid.

Publication month: January 2014
Publisher: Bluejay Books Pvt. Ltd



Over the years there have been several debates regarding a particular tag to be attached to a movie : parallel or popular cinema, art or commercial cinema or realistic or escapist cinema. I loved what Shyam Benegal once famously said, “There are only two kinds of cinema – good cinema and bad cinema.”

I have always been a huge film buff and enjoyed the entire range - action, comedy, drama, pathos et al. I have admired Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Kundan Shah, Shyam Benegal, Sai Paranjpe, Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra and many others. But if were asked to choose the entire oeuvre of a director and then pick the best I would select Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Rajkumar Hirani. And if I were to pick one movie from repertoire of each of these master craftsmen it would be ‘Anand’ and ‘3 Idiots’. I have a few reasons for zeroing in on these two directors and these two movies which I would like to share.

I have so far written 24 books for children. In every book of mine I have tried to tell a story which is racy and has a reasonably high EQ (Entertainment Quotient). I believe that today a young reader has too many choices. Hence if she is not hooked from the first word to the last she would simply switch over to the some other medium. But then I also feel that only entertainment is not enough, providing escapist fare alone will not do. There should be a take away in the form of at least a hint of a whisper of value. It should not be thrust like the anti-tobacco messages on the idiot box or a Rajashree Production melodrama but rather it should be subtle tucked somewhere in the narrative so that the young one internalizes it without even realizing.

Both Anand and 3 Idiots offer dollops of entertainment. Rajesh Khanna, in his most memorable role, keeps you in splits almost throughout. Yet, even as the movie moves to a predictable denouement the value is clear : “Babumushai, zindagi lambi nahin badi honi chahiye.” In 3 Idiots Amir and his friends blunder their way through the movie. And at the end what remains is Amir’s brilliant performance and the message: ‘Strive for excellence, not success. Once you achieve excellence, success would automatically follow.’

In my first book for adults, Mohini too I have stuck to my credo. It has been called a gripping, racy, un-putdownable narrative that takes a behind the scenes look at the ‘the murky manipulations, the dirty deals, the shameless shenanigans, the tears behind the glycerin, the pain behind the paint and the suffering beyond the celluloid.’ However, it goes beyond the grim reality and the sordid drama to offer more than a dash of hope. It reiterates that it is not unbridled manipulation, naked ambition or overpowering obsession that can bring happiness. Joy and contentment can come from a simple, yet all powerful four letter word called Love. 

As I sign off let me humbly appeal to the marquee names of tinsel town and the czars and czarinas of the literary planet. Beyond the esoteric and the abstract, beyond the hype and the hoopla, there is a little space ‘rented out’ by the child in each of us. Reach out to that space with a bit of humour and a ripple of hope, a spot of joy and a slice of value.

                                                                   ~ RAMENDRA KUMAR 


Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is ‘A Writer by Passion’. An award winning author with 23 books to his credit, he spins yarns mainly for the young and the young at heart. He also dabbles in satire, poetry, fiction and travelogues. His work has been published by some of the best names in the business and translated into several Indian and foreign languages. His stories have found a place in text books and anthologies published across the world. Ramen, an inspirational speaker and storyteller, is a regular at leading seminars and literary festivals both in India and abroad. Mohini, his first novel for adults was launched on 1/12014. Its publishers Bluejay/Shristi had to go in for the second impression, because of the demand based on pre-orders, almost immediately after its first edition. Mohini has also been maintaining its position close to the top on Amazon's 'Hot New Releases' list.

To know more about Ramen you can visit his website or his page on Wikipedia. 

He is working as Chief of Communications, Rourkela Steel Plant, Odisha.