Tag Archives: family

Knocked Out By Shaiju Mathew

Childhood and early adulthood are amongst the most cherished phases of our lives. We indulge in really goofy, crazy, silly, yet amazing stunts that, usually come too naturally as a part of growing up. And it’s funny how thinking about some incidents that made you cry back then now bring a smile on your lips.
A great way to relive most of our memories, in today’s fast-paced, workaholic schedule, is by reading Shaiju Mathew’s debut novel – Knocked Up.

On a quiet evening at BookChums’ hub with Shaiju, full of laughter and mirth, reliving such memories of “wackiness at its best”, we got to know a really humble and wonderful young man behind the writer.

Read on and find out for yourself!

So when did the “writing bug” bite?
●      Well…I’ve been writing poems from childhood days. We had a certain concept of  Newspaper in Education (NIE) in our school, wherein different schools would be featured in the  newspaper and students could send in their creative works. I wasn’t much into athletics and  this was my way of standing out in class – “getting featured in a newspaper!”

I also contributed a few of my short stories to the “Chicken Soup” series. So writing has always been a part of me.


What brought about the ideation of this particular book?

●    I have a great set of friends. And I used to pen a lot of “our” incidents in a journal of sorts  and was an avid blogger as well. When my friends (and other people) went through it all, there  was a lot of appreciation. It boosted my confidence and kinda triggered me to churn out this  book. The dramatization or as we like to call it the “masala” that I sometimes added to zing  things up a bit helped in pepping up the situation.


And the title – “Knocked Up” – was it a consciously chosen one or a random impromptu thought?

●    (Smiles) “Knocked Up” is a slang (in the US) …for you-know-what. Yes, it involved a bit of thought process and I had to wrap up the “knocked up” part in humor to cater to readers of all ages. I did not want to offend or fall in the bad books of say a 60 year old who’d pick up this book for the pure joy of it.


A clichéd question this one: how long did you take to write this book? And how much of it is real?

●    I was done writing the whole thing in about 20 days. I have a journal of sorts which helped me refresh my memories and like I said the “masala” was always there.
The book is 60% real (based on real incidents) and of course 40% fiction. All the friends mentioned herein are my real-life friends and we have pretty much lived up to most of the craziness penned in this one.

Tell us about your professional front.
●    I feel that Indian authors do not really get the kind of visibility or promotion that they truly deserve. Even a great piece of work fades away soon and the author is lost in the crowd. Very few publishers go about selecting your piece and pay a meager amount as royalty. So recently a few of my friends and me have ventured into a company –Magic Moments – wherein we help (Indian) authors gain more visibility. Apart from publishing their work we do help in editing, cover page designing, events, promotions and definitely share a good chunk of the profits (with the authors) earned from book sales.
Also, I’ve been working on some movie scripts. Hopefully Knocked Up too will see its movie edition.

 

What are you currently working on? What next do we see from Magic Moments?
●    As of now we are busy with certain events almost every month (of course related with the book promos). I am looking at certain movie scripts and also working on a script for the movie edition of Knocked Up.
Next year you’d definitely see the second part of the book.


Certain books/authors usually leave an everlasting print in our memory. What book/author has had the most influence on you and your writing?

●    Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner has had a tremendous impact on me. The emotions portrayed are very deep and humane. Also, his second book A Thousand Splendid Suns was a great one.
I grew up reading a lot of English Classics. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Ruskin Bond, Mark Twain and the likes so yes they too hold a special place.


What is it that you like doing the most, apart from writing?

●    I sing, read, travel, meet people, make friends, love to go for long drives and of course watch a lot of movies. My friends call me the “encyclopedia” of Bollywood.


Any comments on India’s literary scene as you see it (shaping up)?

●    We have a lot of talented writers in the country. But lack of visibility and promotions gives them a setback. I’m sure we can reach international standards provided we are given the right kind of platform. Hopefully Magic Moments should be able to do its part.


If you had a book club – what would you name it? And what would you be reading in there?

●    Oh we “creative” ones are all mad in the head. I guess I would name my club The Mad Men’s Club.
I’d like to have a hoard of light-hearted comedy and humorous books for its members. But yes, I wouldn’t miss out on housing age old classics and dramas too!

 

 

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Book Review of “House Rules” By Jodi Picoult

House Rules

By Jodi Picoult

 


The story is about a teenager (Jacob Hunt) with Asperger’s syndrome (well researched information about the syndrome brings in the little uniqueness the book claims to present) who is charged with the murder of a girl (who was hired to help him with his social skills).
Jacob is a nerd with zero social skills but possesses super intelligence with a passion for forensic analysis.Though it’s a beautifully written plot, it holds no suspense, no thrill, and gives out an obvious and predictably disappointing climax. Ample of controversy, multiple perspectives, legal conflicts, court-room drama dragging into lengthy conversations make it a bit monotonous. Moreover, most of her books follow a certain formula of approach, which by now has become unappealing.

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Book Review of “Handle With Care” By Jodi Picoult

Handle With Care

By Jodi Picoult


Well, this one seems to be a mixed bag of emotions. The ideation is bright but delivered in a some-what sloppy manner. By the end of it all it seems like the controversial topic was chosen just to keep Picoult’s formulaic trend running . Her knack to tackle tough subjects with ample twists seems to be disappearing.

The story is about a family with two daughters – the younger born with a rare disease – osteogenesis imperfecta, and how the family endures it all. With a bit ofcontroversial and heart-wrenching moments (about the younger daughter); the feelings of sympathy for the neglected bulimic elder; complex characterization; confused or rather inarticulate parents, the story flows at a slow pace but the climax seems very artificial.Yes, she does raise very logical and moving points – would you ever abort yourbaby if you know that it will be born with a disability? And if you proceed with such a pregnancy, how would you protect the baby from a lifetime of pain and suffering and how would you provide for the baby’s well-being for the rest of his/her life? Her insights are amazing and they sure make you ponder over a lot of things you generally would’ve taken for granted.

Apart from this central theme, the story has other issues that really appear mindless and an utter waste of time and energy.

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Book Review of “For One More Day” By Mitch Albom

For One More Day

By Mitch Albom

This one is a short and easy read. The main character (Chick Benetto) is a former baseball player, who tries to commit suicide but ends up waking up in a different world – somewhere between life and death. And he gets to spend one more day with his dead mother (who, btw, died eight years ago).

Good for a one time read, this is a story of redemption and how Chick strives to face the ghosts of his life. I could trace a link to Mitch’s previous book – The Five People You Meet In Heaven. The plot might strike as a bit different, but holds a similar feel as his previous novella. The grudges that he holds, the pain he endures, the guilt that engulfs him…all die out and he comes to peace with himself. A decently inspirational read amalgamating love, family,relationships, mistakes and forgiveness.
Pretty well written for a not so ground breaking plot. It keeps you hooked on till the very end with definite emotional moments.

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Book Review of “At First Sight” By Nicholas Sparks

At First Sight

By Nicholas Sparks

 

This is a sequel of Sparks’ earlier book – True Believer, which introduced to us the lovely pair – Lexie Darnell of Boone Creek, NC and Jeremy Marsh of New York City. But if you’ve not read True Believer, don’t stop. Give this a read. The first few pages do summarize the previous book pretty well. The readers get to know about the happenings of the last five years in the life of Jeremy Marsh and Lexie Darnell.

Jeremy is a freelance writer who takes it on him to expose forgeries and scams. He initially came to NC to investigate mysterious lights in a graveyard in Boone Creek. He visited the local library for his research which is where he met Lexie (the librarian). And of course, they fell in love.

After a whirlwind courtship, one night of sexual bliss and Lexie’s revelation a bit later that she is pregnant, Jeremy proposes marriage. And his life changes from that day forward.

This book begins with Jeremy moving to Boone to be with Lexie (his fiancé now).

Lexie has inhibitions of letting Jeremy stay with her before marriage, thanks to the gossip-mongers around who create unnecessary trouble and interference in their lives. They undergo the whole gamut of finding, buying, and renovating a new house; planning the wedding; having a baby.

He faces a writer’s block –and is unable to meet deadlines from his editor on a column and feature stories. Lexie is more engrossed with the wedding and the baby.
Jeremy thinks he is not yet ready to be a parent. He shows a lot of doubt and is skeptic about his capabilities as a father. The emotions and feelings Jeremy undergoes are brilliantly composed by the author.

Soon the newlyweds face the hardships of being in a relation. They even hit a road block in their relationship where communication is almost lost. Life changes drastically. Jeremy’s career is hanging by a thread, so is his life, he feels. Amidst the entire trauma that they both endure, Lexie still stands by him as a constant support.

The couple understands and realizes the joys and pains of being in a relationship. They have a lot of issues to resolve before they can move on. Do they do it? Pick up the book to find out. All I can say is that you will surely be surprised at the end of it.

 

It is a bit clichéd in certain ways. Falling in love at first sight; undergoing the emotions of a relationship; coming out stronger; supporting your partner when it is most needed; etc. but none-the-less, it is a story well told. The setting and the characters are interesting and “they touch the cords of your heart”. Portraying human emotions (love, betrayal, tragedy, new beginnings) brilliantly, Sparks has cast his magic once again.

 

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Book Review of “The Christmas Sweater” By Glenn Beck

he Christmas Sweater

By Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Jason Wright

 

Here’s a story that is not just for Christmas time, even though the title may make you assume so.

Twelve year old Eddie (the main protagonist) is utterly bitter after his father’s death. He longs for a bike as his Christmas present but ends up getting a homemade sweater from his mother. He compares his life to his friend Taylor’s, who seems to have it all – Disneyland trips and all the material things that claim to make a child happy. But what Taylor longs for is love.

Bratty Eddie mistreats his mother and grandparents, till he encounters lessons on Hope and Love.

This semi-autobiographical “heartwarming Christmas tale” is essentially about redemption, family, love and forgiveness. It is about second chances and how we all deserve forgiveness no matter how big or small the deed is.

No one stands by you through thick and thin but your family foremost. We all have storms (some external, some self created) rising and falling within us each day and we have to fight it all. But not at the cost of losing faith or showering anger on our loved ones. It teaches you to deal with adversity and to keep your faith alive in God and his mysterious ways.

The story is very simple; predictable yet thought provoking; the characters are familiar; the instances and experiences are relatable and leave an unforgettable impression that truly inspires you to be the person God intended you to be.

It has a universal appeal and a message that will surely stir the strings of your heart.

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Book Review of “The Last Song” By Nicholas Sparks

The Last Song

By Nicholas Sparks

 

Here’s an emotionally charged novel out of Sparks collection.

A string of human emotions flow– tears, joy, love, heartbreaks, redemption, forgiveness, flow through the journey of “The Last Song”.

It is more of a love story and family drama intervened with friendship and heartbreaks. A highly entertaining read. You’d feel the story is a bit predictable with artificial situations in between but it surely is very touching and moving.

Though the beginning was a bit slow, the story had a great plot, strong character building, and a wonderful ending, full of hysterical moments.

Set in New York, the story is about Veronica “Ronnie” Miller – a rather obnoxious, shallow and a rebellious teenager who is hugely affected by her parents divorce. She takes to wrong company, as a result. Until her father requests Ronnie and her brother Jonah to join him in his North Carolina beach town for the summer. Meeting him after a gap of three years wasn’t easy for Ronnie and so she tries to distance herself from him from the time she sets foot in NC.

It is in NC that Ronnie meets Will and Blaze and Marcus. She experiences love, friendship, trial and death. Her estranged relationship with her father takes a turn and the bond is restored. Learning valuable lesson along her way, she matures into a woman of substance.

Her transformation, realization and acceptance of situations adds a deeper meaning to your thinking as a reader too.

All characters have a unique personality and a defined point of view to interact, interpret and analyze situations. It definitely shows the great skills of Sparks as an ace author.

The characters felt real, believable and relatable. Ronnie as the rebellious, emotionally driven, teenager seeking vengeance from her father; getting involved with the wrong kind of guys; eventually turning a new leaf over after falling in love with the right guy. Jonah as the adorable kid connecting and bonding with his father. Will – the dream guy sticking around for Ronnie all the while. Steve – trying to do the best for his kids; his unconditional love and patience with Ronnie.

The story teaches you to forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes, and grow as a human being. Life is too short to hold grudges or to push people away. And life rarely gives you a second chance – so never let that go.

Overall, it feels like the story of every individual in some way or the other.

 

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