The Big Bad Wolf

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Nazkal has always been split off from the rest of the world. Living under the shadow of the great Himalayas meant there was abundant scenic landscape, but fewer eyes dared to appreciate it. What if the Grey Wolf found them?

Living in Nazkal had once been mostly about getting used to living with the Grey Wolf. It came when one least expected, so naturally, the people of Nazkal had learned to expect it all the time. Over this last decade, it’d stopped being as much of a problem though. All one had to do was wash every room in their home once every fortnight with holy water from the Ganges. Water blessed by the goddess of the moon would keep away her beast, or so they believed. And it worked, for the most part. Occasionally, a tourist or a bored youth would try to disprove this superstition and end up barely being more than a pile of bones.

But, no tourist has come to Nazkal in over twenty years. This tiny village was all but forgotten by the rest of the world now. When people shunned religion as nothing more than superstition, and instead chose atheism, fewer people came all this way for their holy pilgrimage. The Nazkalian people still scrub their floors with holy water, but the younger ones scoff when the elders mention the wolf. ‘The beast existed only in fairy tales,’ they would say to belittle their aged parents.

If only that were true… If only I was just a fairy tale…

The wolf lived in me, like a parasite within my blood. It coursed through my veins and flowed into my heart. It lived through me, growing angrier every day. Even as I write this with the last of my sanity, it’s there, snarling in the back of my mind, lying in wait for a prey fall into its trap; my mind is his to play with now.

I wish I hadn’t been so foolish in my adolescent years. How could I ever have thought this was a boon? The wolf has made me stronger, my eye sight shaper; in a village, on the edge of the Dark Woods, those qualities mattered most. I stood out amongst my peers and finally made my parents proud. I thought I was finally in control of my life. I thought I could keep the wolf sated with sheep and lamb when all it craved was man flesh.

My sanity and soul were his price for these gifts. For every heart I pierced, every neck I snapped and every life I took; I’d given away pieces of both to the wolf until one day I was myself staring at the twinkle-less eyes of my husband’s head, torn away from his neck. Blood has oozed all over this room. My floor had been scrubbed clean, but my hands were forever dirty.

Today, as I write this, I am more wolf than a woman. Finally, at the ripe old of age of fifty, the weight of those souls I stole surpasses my will to survive. When you find this letter, beside my slit throat, be safe in the knowledge that the big bad wolf your mamma tells you about finally can do you no harm.

With Love,

Your Granma.

 


This story was first published for storieo.com
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BookTube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I decided to take part in BookTube-a-Thon this year. My days didn’t feel busy enough with just Camp NaNo and having an internship, so why not add more?

BookTube-a-Thon is a week-long readathon that takes place from the 24th to the 30th of July. Ariel Bisset, a BookTuber on YouTube, hosts it every year. There are reading challenges, video challenges, photo challenges and twitter sprints. Check out this video for more information if you are interested in participating too. It’ll be fun to read alongside millions from across the world and share the experience.

So down below, I’ve listed the reading challenges and the books that I hope to read during the event:

Read a book with a person on the cover.

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That’s a handsome face, right? Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee is a story of a young ‘gentleman’ on a grand tour of England. It is his last chance to have some fun before joining his father’s business. He also has a serious crush on his traveling companion. I heard that it’s best to read this book without knowing too much, so that’s all I know, but from the reviews, it sounds like an amazing story. Can’t wait to read it.

Read a hyped book.

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Eliza and her Monsters‘ by Francesca Zappia is another book that I don’t know much about, but so many people I follow on Booktube have been raving about it. Guessing it’s got something to do with a girl named Eliza who is an artist. I can’t wait to find out more about what the fuss is all about.

Read a book in a day.

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Look at that gorgeous cover! The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman is a combination of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with some dark magic. I love Gaiman’s writing. It is so calming, but still very evocative. Also, it’s a short novella, so I’m sure I can finish it in a day. It’ll help keep me sane this week.

Read a character who is different from you.

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Again, I’m going into this story completely blind. (Let’s just assume that’s the theme for this readathon.) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda got a lot of hype a couple of years back. For some reason, I never picked it up back then. However, Becky Albertalli published another novel recently called The Upside of Unrequited, that I badly want to read. Just thought, I’d use the readathon as a good excuse to catch up on the former before I jump into the latter.

Read a book because of the cover.

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For this challenge, I chose Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor even though it is technically a re-read. But, it’s so brilliantly written that I want to read it once more. It might be my favorite book of 2017. Also, that’s a freaking gorgeous cover. It’s the only book I’ve bought just for its cover. I’m usually content with e-books because I have limited shelf space. So, this is also one of those rare books where I feel compelled to buy the physical copy. That sounds a little wrong, but you know what I mean.

Read a book completely outside

Read seven books.

I’m going to randomly pick up a book for these two challenges, firstly because I can’t think of a book that I’ll be able to read completely outside. Also, I want to be able to switch to a new book if I’m bored with any of the above books. So, these two challenges are like my free passes. If you have any suggestions leave them in the comments below, and I’ll check those out.

That’s my plans for the next week, what are yours? Are you taking part in BookTube-a-thon? If so, what do you plan to read?

 

Artful by Peter David | Book Review

ArtfulArtful by Peter David

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Artful is a graphic-novel adaptation by Nicole D’Andria of a book by the same name by Peter David. Laura Neubert has done the artwork for the book. The story follows ‘The Artful Dodger’; also known as Jack Dawkins, from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Apart from him, many characters from the classic appear in this book too, such as Fagin, Charley Bates, and Oliver himself. The story starts in London in the year 1830; a few years after Oliver goes to live with Mr. Brownlow. Vampires are trying to take over the city, and for reasons, it’s upto the Dodger to save the kingdom. I have to say, though there are many characters are from the world of Dickens in this story, I didn’t feel like it spoiled anything for those who haven’t read the classic yet.

Now, let’s get into the review. I thought that the artwork was stunning. It perfectly compliments the story and the time-period. However, the story itself was predictable. It was interesting, and held my attention for as long as I read, but at no point did I felt surprised by the story. As for the characters, perhaps it was the graphic format, but I couldn’t connect with any of them, except the Dodger. The bond between the characters developed too quickly. There is a bit of a romance subplot, and I couldn’t enjoy it because of the instant love.

Overall, I’d rate it at 2 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed reading this story but wasn’t blown away by it.

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Why should we read Fiction?

Why should we read fiction? 

This is a question that I’ve been asked many times in life, usually by friends who don’t enjoy reading. However, this time an interviewer asked me to submit an essay on why everyone should read fiction. Just felt like it would make an interesting blog post.

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Perhaps by fate or coincidence, this is very similar to the question I typed into Google just a few days ago. Having spent upwards of ten years in my twenty-three years on this planet reading books, I get this question a lot. My pride and vanity force me to say I read all types of books and enjoy them equally, though the truth is that fiction is the love of my life. The more fictional, the better in my opinion. I could live for days in the realms of fantasy but a few minutes with my textbooks had tired me out.

 

‘Why so? What could you possibly gain from fiction? At least, reading non-fiction has some merit. You learn something from nonfiction’ people ask. I cannot speak for all, of course, but I read novels because they have taught me so much more than classes and textbooks ever did. As much as I loved my school life, education these days have become more about memorizing than learning. It is more about scores than merit or character. Therefore, just like a child learns morals and virtues through folklore and fairy tales, an adult learns empathy and compassion through fiction. It is the closest means of climbing into another person’s shoes, without literally wearing someone else’s footwear. For example, through Harry from The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling taught readers that friendship, loyalty, and bravery were more important than books and cleverness. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games taught people never to judge an individual based just on appearance. Along with Charlie from The Perks of being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, I learned the importance of participating in life instead of standing by and watching everyone else live theirs. These are hard concepts to learn just by reading textbooks and sticking to facts.

 

Fiction also makes learning fun. It takes the tedious task of education and turns it into entertainment. Books like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has helped millions around the world understand the horror and the despair of the people during the World War 2 much better than history textbooks which focused on dates and statistics. Through The Martian by Andy Weir, people have a better understanding of space and astrophysics.

 

‘Movies do that too!’ some exclaim. I agree; they do provide a window into a person’s life. However, in films, we see the story happen to someone else. We are detached from the characters. They do not allow us to climb into the protagonist’s head. Readers get inside the character’s head. Sometimes, if it is a well-written book, they become the characters themselves. This is a power that fiction novels alone possess.

 


Let me know if any of you enjoy reading. What genres do you typically read and why? I’m actually curious to find out.

Creativity, Motivation and Over Expectations |Camp NaNoWriMo Weeks 1 & 2

I have a phone full of ideas that I’ve collected over the past five years. On my desk, there are stacks of notebooks with pages of half-baked ideas right this moment. I even have a few drafts of unpublished blog posts here on this blog. Still, I feel like I lack inspiration. Like I’m not a very creative person. I can’t write things off the top of my head. I’d have to mull over them forever just to write a short 100-words story. Even then, I’d spend ages structuring my sentences in frustration because I can’t get them to say what I mean. I’ve never been able to reach my goal for during any NaNoWriMo either. There was always some excuse to give up.

Last November, I had grand plans to write a novel, but I’d decided to join the event on October 28th. Being overexcited just from taking the plunge, I grabbed the first idea I had. I started writing it with less than a page of an outline (which wasn’t very good either). But all my good intentions jumped out the window after I’d written the first 2000 words. My story was the most boring piece of writing I’ve ever read (and that’s saying something); because I didn’t know how to write.

If I was the protagonist in a story, then I’d learn from my mistakes. Later, I’d come back to kick some ass during April. But no, just like my novel, I had no character development either. I did the same exact thing, only, I didn’t get past 1000 words this time.

Camp NaNoWriMo this July has been a blessing. My goal this time is to write. Just write. No word count goals, no strict outline to follow. I told myself, I’d work on the outline of my novel for one hour, daily; that’s it. Today, I have a 4000 words document full of notes and the first act completely outlined and ready to be written. It may not sound like much, but hey, it’s better to have my basic plot figured out rather than dull dialogue and pages of description of an empty field.

So, that’s been my Camp so far, how is yours?

Under a Carmine Sky

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There are many rules to a safe life in a city. Don’t stay out later than the sun. Avoid the narrow alleys and stick to the broad streets. Blend into the surrounding, never wear anything bright or colorful. Still, anyone experienced with assault would know, daylight does not guarantee one’s safety. Crimes don’t always happen in the middle of the night. Nobody plays ominous background music as a forewarning of what’s to come. Criminals don’t always wear an all black ensemble, nor do they have tell-tale tattoos. Sometimes, their body was just a plain canvas, clothed in a vermilion dress to match the evening sky.

Twilight tinted the world red like a filter on a photo. Although the sky looked like a pretty blush, the city itself took a turn towards Carmine.

Regretting the impulse to take a walk, Anna clutched her handbag closer to her chest. As usual, she slipped a pocket knife in the back of her boots, checked for the pepper spray in her bag, pushed her dark sunglasses up the bridge of her nose and picked up her pace. Ten minutes later she stepped into the Ivory Island Hotel and headed straight for the reception desk.

“Hello, I’m here to meet a guest.” She said to the receptionist who was a bored young lad, no older than sixteen. From her bag, she pulled out a thin satiny black envelope. The note inside had nothing more than an address on it, written in silver, slanted cursive calligraphy. “He’s supposed to be in room number 196.”

“Ah, Mr. David Taupe, this way ma’am, let me take you there.” He said, with his eyes fixed on her bare calves.

“No, that’s fine. Just tell me where to go?” Anna said, her voice shaky with nervousness, and he squished his eyebrows to form a straight line.

“First time is it? I thought Mr. David wasn’t into that.”

“Yes, it’s my first time. Could you just tell me which floor I’ve to go?

“Alright, it’s not my business.” He said with a slight shrug. “It’s the room on the third floor and the lifts are through here,” he said pointing to his left.

At the third floor, she got out and walked to the apartment at the end of the corridor straight ahead, knocked thrice in quick successions, and stepped back.

“Took your sweet little time did you.” A man’s adenoidal voice sounded from behind the door along the clanking of the door’s chains. “Good thing the wife is gone for a long trip this time, or you wouldn’t make a single buck.” The door opened to a man wearing a crisp gray suit that seemed ready to pop with the effort of covering his enormous belly. There was a faint hint of gray in the roots of his hair, and despite being an arm’s length away, Anna could smell the strong citrusy scent of his cologne. He didn’t wait for her to come in. Instead, leaving her to shut the door behind her, he climbed on to the king’s size bed.

The whole ordeal was over in less than a blink of an eye and a flash of silver. White, over-washed sheets turned crimson. The gray suit colored black as blood oozed from David Taupe’s abdomen and lungs while the knife stayed lodged firmly in his heart. His cheeks and neck bore marks when she’s muffled his screams.

Walking back in the darkened city half hour after leaving the cleaned hotel room, Anna thought to herself,

Pretty good for the first day at work. 


This story was written for the website called Storieo. Do check it out if you want to share your writing too.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman | Book Review

The Yellow Wall-PaperThe Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“I am glad my case is not serious! But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.”

The Yellow Wall Paper the story of a woman forced into confinement masking as prescribed treatment from her physician and husband. She longs to write and be in society but is forbidden from doing so because her husband thinks her ‘nervous condition’ could deteriorate, and so a woman suffering from postpartum depression descends into insanity.

This was truly more horrifying than so many horror novels just because of how close it is to reality. The story really drives home the history of women’s subjugation and the main character’s acceptance of it. It also emphasizes mental health issues as legitimate illnesses. Depression and anxiety are as real as a cold and need to be treated as such.

I listened to the audio version of this book produced by Chatterbox Audio Theatre. Highly recommend it to audiobook lovers because the production was of a very high quality. Do give it a try if you want to read this book.

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