Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let me Clarify

Sigh, sigh, sigh.
Exams are coming, I don't know a THING! I'm not an average student: I'm actually pretty good, and usually whole pages of awful block diagrams and methods of thermal analysis and stupid, terrible things like rotational spectroscopy should make sense to me even if I'm reading through it like a novel. Guess what? It doesn't. I CANNOT bring myself to study this...this...(okay, I will not curse but you can substitute your choicest and strongest swear word right here) 
SO, I will not be here for a week. I have to pass. I HAVE TO. (Crap)
You think being bitten by a vampire is bad? Confront yourself with the education system of Kerala and worse, the god-awful series tests the college dumps on us...and you'll take teeth in your throat any day.
SO I have a new layout for the blog : thank you cutestblogontheblock for the background- the header is my own creation. If you guys liked it leave your thoughts please!
I love this nice summery header....I have an obsession with butterflies and science fiction: both of which has representation on the new Header. It took me exactly half an hour to make it: because I clearly knew what I wanted and where I wanted each element.

Writing Now: First chapters of Unholy Flame, second part of Shaded Grey.
                     Fifth chapter of Argentum
                     Little bits and pieces of something with demons in it.
Reading Now: Nothing except Engineering Chemistry and Electronics

I thought I'd simply share a picture I made by the way, just for fun....does it mirror my feelings? :p

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James: Review

'Truth or dare?' she asks.

I hesitate. I have so many secrets, so many things I don't want to reveal, but this is only a game, only a bit of fun. 'Truth,' I say finally. 'I can imagine one of your dares, and I don't fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.'

'Truth,' Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she's savouring the word. 'Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?'

'I think so. Try me.'

'Okay.' And then she looks at me curiously. 'So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?'

Katherine has moved away from her shattered once-perfect family to start a new life in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic Alice, and her life takes her in new directions. But there is a dark side to Alice, and as we learn the truth of Katherine's sister's death and Alice's background their story spirals to an explosive finale.

‘Beautiful Malice’. The name is simply captivating. I saw this book on the library’s new arrivals shelf, read the title and the tagline ( friendship can be deadly) and immediately knew this was what I was going to read next.
This is a good book. Not simply because it is written well and without too much flamboyancy but also because it is a starkly realistic and dangerously scary book. There’s no blood and gore kind of fright involved with it, it’s a true psychological thriller that’s nevertheless rather blood-chilling.
Katherine has been through a lot. She holds herself guilty over what happened to her sister, Rachel, and has been introverted ever since. She changed her name and changed her school, and until the most popular girl in school- Alice- asks her for a party no one even looks at her twice. Alice is like a whirlwind in Katherine’s life. She brings much needed gloss and shimmer, and is like the absolute fun person- her life is a party, and she has no rules. Alice is beautiful and can be incredibly cruel. Katherine and Robbie claims to be charmed by her, and unlike usual books I can actually understand what the author means by this charm. Although I really felt as though Katherine was walking on glass with Alice, there were parts of this book where Alice seemed to be truly fun. Robbie is supposed to be, simply, a supporting character but the beauty of Beautiful Malice is that EVERY supporting character- be it Philippa, or the lovely Mick, or even Katherine’s parents- are incredibly detailed and real.
The book starts off grippingly; the first sentence is absolutely RIVETING. From there it is a realistic yet frightening roller coaster, and as the book progresses, we begin to care for Katherine, we begin to want her happiness. And it keeps evading her at all times.
There was a part near the end of the book which I read, screamed ‘Are you kidding me?!’ and then cried over. I am not a crying-over-books person, so you can imagine how much Katherine and Mick and Robbie and Alice seemed real to me.
Especially Alice. The author has detailed her character incredibly well. While we shudder and gasp at what Alice is capable of, we also somehow realize that yes, this is something Alice would do, something we could expect from her. We get to know Alice, and that itself is a feat. She is chilling, charming, cruel and beautiful all at once. At first, we wonder if she is just ego-centric. But there is more to Alice than that- check this excerpt:
The thing is, I see Alice sometimes – at the supermarket, at
the gates of Sarah’s kindergarten, at the club where Sarah and
I sometimes go for a cheap meal. I catch glimpses of Alice’s
glossy, corn-blonde hair, her model-like body, her eye-catching
clothes, from the corner of my eye and I stop to stare, my heart
pounding. It only takes me an instant to remember that she is
dead and gone, that it can’t possibly be her, but I have to force
myself to get closer, to reassure myself that her ghost isn’t
haunting me. Close-up these women are sometimes similar to
Alice, albeit never, never as beautiful. More frequently, though,
on closer inspection they look nothing like her.
It is obvious, from this first page paragraph enough, that Alice has altered Katherine's life more than anyone would ever desire. 
I would have loved for Katherine to have a happy forever in this book. Again the author proves that she is hugely realistic, that life doesn’t always indulge us- not even in books. I may not be satisfied with the ending of this book, I may have felt heartbroken- but again, it is a hugely satisfying read for the mere fact that it is not just a book, it’s a piece of darkly shaded life itself.

 4 on 5

Cover Talk:
The cover image above is not the one that was on the book I got from the library. In India we usually get the UK version of book-covers so the one I got was this plain red one that looks like a poster more than a book cover. It's not that great, and the USA one is actually much better. It reminds me of danger and fragility all at once.
Still, for such a book, I wish the cover had been a little better, the text color just looks weird, and the background seems poorly lit and done hurriedly enough that there was no time to run it through photoshop to make it look more even and well-adjusted.
3 on 5.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Argentum-Sneak Peek

Original concept cover
So this is something I've been writing for a while. A long while,'s dystopian fantasy and I love it a lot. I've never put it on the blog because I'm waiting to finish the series entirely before I find a publisher for it. This will be the IT book - the one I'll really really seek to get published because I love it so much.
Only there are like a million different threads all tangling around in this book, so I may actually be set back by a few years before I'm fully satisfied with it.
This is a tiny eeny weeny bit of the story I simply wrote so as to understand my characters much better. Some of you wanted a more romantic scene from the earlier writing here it is....
The pic is just a random creation (I have a hundred for this book)

The girl I've used as stock is by catarinamzfernandez on DA. Thank you! 
The Excerpt:

I come to in the White Room, chained with words spinning around my arms and legs.
'I didn't choose to be in that memory' I say, murmuring, my face growing hot and flustered with what I had seen. I'm helplessly putting myself in Kenna's shoes-in her bare feet, more like- thinking I would happily be her just for his love. He doesn't look very loving right now, he looks angry.
'That is a very personal memory. I didn't want you invading those. Does Zan need my memories now,too? I'd have thought my life was enough....' Rian says, his eyes dark, bruised circles beneath them like he's suddenly ill and heartsick. Is it even possible for him to be sick in this place?
 He's pale and his lips are pressed in a thin line, like he's afraid he'd scream.
I sit on the white floor and watch, disturbed, as dark red flows slowly down the walls again. His heart's bleeding, I think obscurely, while he presses the side of his face against a wall.
'I didn't mean to be in there. I didn't mean to. I'm helpless; it's you who controls what I see' I'm wringing my hands together, my eyes riveted half on the walls, half on him.
He smiles sardonically. 'So I'm supposed to pick, huh? Pick the reels of my life you are to watch. I'll arrange them in priority, shall I? Or do you want to see the painful ones first? That might be interesting to you, hmm?'
His smile is mocking, his whole posture tense and rigid, his words spoken harshly. 
A shiver runs through me while I try to form words.
I can feel a lump beginning to form in my throat. I hope the lump doesn't get too many ideas and decide to run upto my eyes and dissolve in a puddle of water.
 I open my mouth to deny, to protest, but the strings of words wrap around my mouth as well, and the ones around my shoulders pull me up and off my feet. He looks at me calmly as I sway in the air, terrified, my heart beating hard against my chest, my eyes starting to water at the humiliation. He looks at me dully.
'You won't understand.', he says, coldly, his eyes completely drained off any feeling ',You won't know what love feels like. You're Updated, you've lost all that'
Or have I? It's the wrong question, I think, even as he puts me down with a derisive snort, rests his chin on his knees and looks like a lost little boy again. The question is not if I've lost every human feeling. The question is more layered, more nuanced.
The question is whether I've lost enough that I can't feel for him. What do I feel for him? Do I feel anything for him? I can't say, and I don't think I really know, myself.
'I'm leaving'
He looks up, sullenly. 'For now or forever?'
I meet his brown gaze evenly.
 I say nothing at all.
 Let him wonder.
A curious sense of triumph courses through me when he repeats the question.
'Are you going to come back, or have you had enough?'
'Either way, you won't have cared unless you're curious'
He shrugs. 'It gets boring in here.'
I smile to myself, and then I say my code, and the MedicEye brings me back to the real world. 

So what do you guys think?!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Entangled by Cat Clarke- Review

Paperback, 374 pages
Published January 6th 2011 by Quercus Publishing Plc

The same questions whirl round and round in my head: 

What does he want from me? 
How could I have let this happen? 

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here. 

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see? 

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here? 

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction


Ah, hell, this book.
I'm going to GUSH about the cover first because I think it's simply amazing. The colors, the simple style, the text- everything is just GORGEOUS. This, mark my words people, is the kind of cover I'd totally die for. 
First up, Entangled is like it's name. The story has different threads all tangling together to form a big picture which we disentangle only at the very end. The concept was not new or anything and I figured out what was going on within a few pages, but you have to give it to Ms. Clarke for going about the story with such panache. More than the storyline of Entangled I would read it for the characters. Grace is amazing as a character- so tender, yet so tough; so vulnerable yet so able to hide all that beneath her colored hair and pretenses. She's a raw, fun, easy-to-relate to character although I would never say I could empathize with her (I can't. I'm nothing like her) And I don't know what to make of Nat, or Sal, or even Ethan- who truly confused me at first until I realized the point to him being in the story.
Entangled is good because of the various relationships in Grace's life it focuses on. There's the bestfriend, the boyfriend(s), the parents. Her relationship with each one of them is so complex and tangled that I kept wondering how she was going to pull herself out of the mire. Again, this is Grace's brilliance as a character: she doesn't mope too much. Yeah, she mopes but her moping is weirdly fun. She has a sort of sarcastic voice, and she's not a person who is doing what she does for sympathy.
The other really interesting character (?) is Ethan. We wonder what the hell he is doing, who the hell he is, and maybe some of you won't get it even when the book ends. The explanation is not given easily, you have to think for it to come.
The other amazing thing about the book is its ending. It's not a conventional teen-book sunshiney ending, and neither is it some kind of tragedy-inspired sob-fiesta. You have to read it to get what I'm blabbering about- and I'm giving this book a good verdict hoping you WILL get it (buy the book, that is), and get what I'm blabbering about...I'm confusing myself. I must be entangled too.
The final verdict is that the book is good. It lacks BRILLIANCE, it maybe has, you know, ~brilliance~ but it's not BRILLIANT. (Whatever). I would read it for the characters, I would read it for the jigsaw-like storyline, and I would remember it for it's cover. That said, I would still have preferred a more poetic language to the book. (Ah, to each his own)

4 on 5

Cover Talk:
5 on 5

Friday, March 11, 2011

Art, and 100 follower giveaway!

Yeah, don't ask what this picture is about. It's all Chemical Match oriented. Thought it looked sort of nice as maybe a blog promotion slide or something. I'm still working on a slide-deck for the blog, you know, to display my images in and all. 
Now, there are nearly 100 followers for the blog and I don't have any books to give away (I get mine as ebooks) so I thought I'd have a different kind of giveaway.
So it's an ART giveaway, not a BOOK giveaway, and the WINNERS decide exactly what I design for you.
You can have anything of your choice- blog button (with html code), blog background, custom header, any kind of other art-related blog stuff (including customized Facebook, Twitter icons) - any TWO things for the FIRST winner, and any one art-piece for the SECOND winner.
1) Comment on this if you're entering the giveaway.
2) +1 entry for followers
4)Have fun with the art-pieces if you win
You can decide everything about the things I make for you, upto color and and images used, and whatever else you want me to do. It's all for FREEEE!
(That's why it's um...a GIVEAWAY)
So enter people! Start commenting!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ATTENTION: The New Blog.

SO I've been keeping quiet for a while, and the reason is this : The Chemical Match series, which I'm writing, needed its own blog so I can put up all my artworks and get the news to all you blogosphere-siblings out there without crowding Shaded (as it is already crowded with all the other stuff). My followers of old should recognize that this is the project I've been keeping under wraps. 
I'm crazy because I kept writing little bits of the story here and there, but never got a plot direction (maybe because this is my first character-inspired and not plot-inspired story). Anyway now I have something infinitely cool and strange and everything else I usually love about dystopian fiction. I even have names for the three books that will be in this series (unless I change my mind and add a few more, sigh) and those are ARGENTUM, INTERIM, and MORTEM...for now, at least.
I'm already in the sixth image for the stories (I think I should be an illustrator, really) and LOVE the way some of them are turning out. And, yeah, maybe I'll actually write them fast too instead of sitting here and painting the scenes.
I'm excited. Really.
And this is the blog for the series, with it's artworks and what not and sample chapters.


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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.