Of Memories and Feels

They say some things never end. Some things live on, even if it is in our memories.

Malhar is one such thing.

From the times of Junior College, from applying to Raga for the free t-shirts and thinking that writing was the only thing I was proficient in, until last night, when I looked at all my volunteers with my co-OGs and OC and thought, “We made this, this is our department,” it’s been a long journey. But it’s been one of the best ones.

Everything ends on 17th August, the stage is pulled down, banners folded, stalls demolished. Diaries are looked at fondly, photos are clicked, the department t-shirts a proud uniform upon ourselves. But for me, Malhar is eternal; the memories shall remain for ever.

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You nervously apply for the position you want, writing your app with the triple the amount of dedication and care you gave to your exam papers, getting it beta read and approved by your friends. You send it in, sometime before the clock strikes midnight, hoping your internet doesn’t choose this moment to act up and then you wait.

An email comes back, a call is made, an interview scheduled. You prepare, you wonder if this will be the year you make it. Your best friends wish you luck, some of them have made it and you couldn’t be happier, the others are taking the same journey with you. ‘Best of luck’ wishes are exchanged before the interview; you grin and make your way. And then you wait.

A few days later, a call comes. You look at the number on your phone, tinged with apprehension. Is it that call again? You pick up. You’ve made it. Everything begins the next day. You go to sleep with a huge smile on your face, dreaming of the memories you will be making in the next few months.

Your name is on the page, along with all those who’ve made it. Your best friends are there too, some aren’t. But life isn’t always equal and fair. You wake up the next morning, you make it college, wondering if everyone on the train knows your life is about to be completely different in the next few months by that look on your face.

You meet your team; you meet the person who took your interview. He tells you, you’ve got the thing you wanted. You’re handling the one thing you desire the most. You wonder if you can do it, but you stifle that insecurity down. You know you will do it, even if it kills you.

Summer holidays involved sleeping and lazing around. Now, they involve plans, deadlines, layouts and meetings. Everything is discussed minutely. Sometimes you wonder if all this will amount in the end or is it just a small speck in the book of the universe. “Eh,” you say as you go back to ideating and brainstorming.

You learn your Co-OG isn’t so bad after all, maybe you judged her too fast. You think, I really fucking like these people and that’s a good thing, I’ve got four months to spend with them. You get to know your team; you co-ordinate schedules to travel together, your WhatsApp chats have them as the first people you chat with, and as the month ends, you know the dream is becoming a reality.

College begins and your work is now out for everyone to see. As you proofread the first one, you anticipate the response, hoping it’ll be what you want it to be. And it is. You love it, they love it. And now, it is time for you to start taking interviews, for you to face nervous applicants, one you were for two years.

But then life happens to you. And you’re both thankful and frustrated. You can’t fathom, why me, why now of all times possible. But you power through. You wanted this and you want to do this through whatever happens. Major FOMO takes place, you miss out on loads of stuff but it’s okay. What matters most is still happening. You wait.

And then you return and are back in the frenzy, back in the eye of the tornado and you wonder how you lived without it. You meet the volunteers who didn’t know you, you love them and you know they’re a great team. You watch them bonding together and you know how amazing that feels, having been in that desk yourself, but nothing compares to knowing you helped form these friendships, these bonds.

Finally, after countless meetings, plans, agendas and discussions, the days arrive. You’re handed the t-shirts a day before. Unfortunately, being the idiot you are, you lose them. Frantic with worry when you discover this loss in the night, you wonder what the fuck is wrong with you. Your co-OG tells you she’s getting you one, you’re still upset. But you know it’s happening and nothing can dampen that.

You find them in the comps room; you’d spend hours there the previous evening. Of course. And now, it is officially here.

The beginning of the end.

The days go by in a blur, the newsletters come in, your name is on the Editors column instead of the Writers one, you’re wearing a t-shirt which says Organiser, you helped organise something for the one of the biggest college fests of your city.

And as day two comes to a close, you know there’s a special part of the night just for you guys. The workforce, and you revel in it. You dance, you sing, you scream. You do the YMCA with your best friends. It’s tradition, even if it is only the second year.

A sleepover happens. You eat as you discuss the day, with flailing hands and excited smiles. You sleep like a rock for maybe four hours before you’re up. It hits you. This is the day when it all comes to an end. The last time that t-shirt matters, the last time you will be an Organiser.

You cry. It’s almost over. You don’t know how to handle it. The day slowly draws to an end. The last events happen in the foyer, the quad and as you hear the music dying you know it’s over.

You meet with your volunteers, you pack up, and you all sit together. They give you those cards and chocolates and certificates and you clap, clap, clap. You have tears in your eyes. The end is nigh.

You go down, but not before the last few pictures are taken. You bid goodbye to the rooms you called home. And you all laugh and grin as you dance in the crowd, all together, one last time maybe.

The ceremony starts, you watch your best friend take the stage. You make funny comments with your best friend who sits next to you, you grin at the fact that one of you has made it up there. You still have the tears. Your own OC comes up; you clap so hard your hands might fall off. You laugh, you smile and you think, “Fuck, how can this be the end?”

But it is.

You get up silently, the memories warring with you. You want to say something, do something, but you do nothing. You hug everyone for the last time, give a watery smile and make your way out of the gate. You see the lights go off, one by one. People stream out; every t-shirt colour slowly makes their way home.

It’s over. But it is not the end.

Malhar will never end. No matter what happens, no matter how it got over.

We make Malhar what it is. And Malhar is life.

ARC August & BookTubeAThon TBR Lists!

Hey guys,

While my summer blog is being revamped into my book blog, here’s a post on my #ARCAugust & Book – Tube – A – Thon TBR books. While BookTubeAThon runs from August 3rd until August 8th. Here are the challenges and my books for the same:

The challenges:
1// Read a book with blue on the cover: The HitchHiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
2// Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
3// Read someone else’s favourite book: Still undecided.
4// Read the last book you acquired: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.
5// Finish a book without letting go of it: The Two Tinkles I was published in. Comics for Children.
6// Read a book you really want to read: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy.
7// Read seven books: For my seventh book, I plan on reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.

I’m probably not gonna finish these books with Malhar right around the corner as well as CIAs breathing down my neck, but I have to give it a shot.

READ A YA BOOK, PAL.
READ A YA BOOK, PAL.

Other than that, I also plan on doing ARC August, I’ve already linked up my blog and here are the ARCs I hope to finish this month:

Physical ARCs:

  1. Becoming Jinn
  2. Denton Little’s DeathDate
  3. Until The Beginning

E-ARCs:

  1. Everything Everything
  2. Another Day
  3. The Scorpion Rules
  4. The DUFF
  5. This Is Where It Ends
  6. Half Bad
  7. A Thousand Nights
  8. A Whole New World

So, that’s a lot of books and not as much time. But then, as they say, it is better to have started than not read at all.

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Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

P.S – You can follow my progress (if I make any, that is) on twitter where I spend most of my time: @niacarnelio or on Goodreads (friend and follow me) – Nia Carnelio. Cheers!

Of Irrational Fears: Getting Expelled

So I’ve realized (belatedly) that I might have a very irrational fear of getting expelled from my college.

Might be more Hermione than Fred & George than I expected.
Might be more Hermione than Fred & George than I expected.

Time for an eval:

I believe my irrational fear of being expelled or removed from my college stems from the fact that I have dreamed and worked far too hard to get into and stay in my college to ever leave. It was back in seventh grade, when I was 11 that I dreamed of picking Arts after tenth. Fighting criticism from people I knew to finally getting in when I was sixteen, it’s been four years that I’ve called my college my second home.

It’s been a scary place, sort of like applying to Hogwarts and getting in and meeting all these amazing people and learning SO SO much. From academics to extracurriculars to everything else under the sun, I’ve experienced it all in my college.

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People told me, you’ll turn into a snob when you go there, you’ll suddenly be too good to talk to us and everything and I vehemently denied that ever happening. But today, I know I am a snob. Somehow I’ve learned that talking to people and wasting your time is not snobbishness, you’ve got to do what makes you happy – because more often than not, you end up sacrificing your happiness to talk to someone you really, really don’t want to.

And why should I talk to you? Especially if you think everything I say is too-smart, overthought and not real or good enough for you? I am proud of my college, proud of the way I’ve learned to think outside the box, proud that I belong to a college where I’m part of an amazing family.

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Be it Malhar or Ithaka or Zephyrus, be it Onam Day or Game of Thrones Day (WHICH SO KINDLY HAPPENED WHEN I WAS ON BED REST) or Traditional Day,from lectures to the foyer, every single day I walk into the first Quad, knowing I am infinitely lucky to be a part of St. Xavier’s College, after all, it’s not just a college.

It’s a way of life.

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Of Busted Knees and Complete Mortification

Last Thursday started out as quite the usual day for me. Too bad, life had other plans for my near future. At around ten forty-five(ish) I avoided someone holding a scalding cup of coffee, but when I when to avoid the next one with a full plate of something – I had a spectacular fall and dislocated my right knee cap.

How very wonderful, isn’t it?

UGH THE PAIN.

AWW @#$* IT HURTS
AWW @#$* IT HURTS

At first it seemed like I’d just slipped and fallen, no biggie, happens. Then came the part where I could not stand. That’s when people got alarmed. It soared through the roof when they saw that my kneecap was not in the centre as it should be, oh no, but rather disturbingly to the right.

WHAT IN SEVEN HELLS
WHAT IN SEVEN HELLS

I could see the outline of my dislocated knee through my skinny jeans and it was then the tears started freefalling, fuck, that pain was bad but then, I decided it was too weird to have a kneecap on the right and deliberately pushed it back into the socket. By then, a couple of people had gone hunting for my friends to get them to me. The guy in front of me seemed very mystified and shocked at the same time at my guts or foolishness, we didn’t know that yet.

My friends turn up, one of them with a sprained foot of her own and then the agonizing pain hits.

The worst wasn’t even here yet. Staff turns up, people in charge are informed. AND THEN THEY GET A STRETCHER.

Seriously, they get me a stretcher to have me taken to the hospital, seeing as I’m crying my eyes out, howling in pain and am in clearly no position to stand.

I’m not sure you get my point here – a stretcher, through the college’s most crowded place, during the most crowded time – the foyer, during the 10:30 break.

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I refused.

But I was overruled. Crying eighteen-year olds don’t get to make decisions.

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I’m carted on the stretcher, sitting, clutching that one juice cup my friend forced on me to distract me, in a sitting position, just so I could watch my dignity float away.

Sigh. Of course, I was injured and that should’ve been the farthest thing from my mind, but hey, I was a teenager. So, sue me.

They almost take me through the middle of the place but thankfully change their minds. At this point, I’m still sobbing, my knee is on fire (in the most painful way) and I’m yelling for my friends who are coming with, yet still laughing at my sorry state.

I don’t blame them; I would’ve laughed at me too.

We get to the hospital, and I can safely say I’ve never been prouder to be a part of my college. They took me to get medical attention, got my leg X-Rayed, got me a crepe bandage and offered to accompany me home. Thankfully, I didn’t have to bother them anymore because my friend turned up and said she’d take me (she’d been in lectures until then). They even paid for my cab ride home – that’s more than 37 kilometres.

I came to my place, went to a hospital that put in a very uncomfortable knee brace and sent me off to get an MRI. My friend offered to stay with me because the hospital I was admitted to had an archaic rule of not letting males stay with patients. I went for an excruciatingly long MRI and got severely bored. By then, people had started texting me. I think they were worried I’d died.

My friend who’s come down from the States for the vacations came over to stay with me and we had an odd sleepover of sorts. I say of sorts, because the nurses and the nuns didn’t let me sleep. Neither did that acute pain, of course.

I got discharged the next morning with the doc saying I had a minor patella fracture.

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And now it’s been a week since I’ve been delegated to bed rest and missing three weeks of college. It sucks, especially cause Malhar is just around the corner.

I’m slowly getting back on my feet (metaphorically) and doing the things expected of me. I’ve got a major case of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out on stuff that everyone is busy doing.

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Clearly, just because my knee is busted and my life has almost come to a standstill, others are still moving on.

But hey, I’m getting better and it’s just two more weeks. And then I walk into CIA One.

-cries-

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

P.S – If you thought this was an exciting post, sorry, I like to write down these things as sort of a virtual diary. And my friend Christina made a rather spectacular pun on Twitter the day I fell: TWEET. Other than that, have a great day / night!

ARC Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Book: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

 Genre: YA / Romance / Contemporary

Publishing Date: 16th June, 2015

My Rating: 5 Stars on 5

Such a gorgeous cover.

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. THIS BOOK!

This is the first book this year that has given me such a major hangover after The Dream Thieves, but then all of Stiefvater’s books are love but I digress. I just finished Every Last Word an hour ago and since then I haven’t been able to function properly.

So it started when Netgalley approved me for this book and I was pretty surprised since I’d only just started reading on the site and had very few (two) reviews up. I picked it up in May, but then decided to press pause on it until the release date came closer [I know, I’m an idiot].

But I finally picked it up the day it released and even though University stuff called, I finished it in two days. Well, a major chunk [more than 80%] was read today – across train travelling, during lectures and I even put my Malhar work on hold. Like what.

The Review:

The book takes time to build up but once it does, it whooshes past you and without realizing it, you’re at 60% and you’re so close to the end that you’re wondering what are the plot points / twists and then, BAM – it hits you in the stomach like a bullet.

ELW is a beautifully written book where the protagonist is a popular girl, but with a secret – she’s diagnosed with Purely Obsessional OCD. As a psychology student from three years, I have loved reading and researching about mental illness as part of my academics. Seeing it put down in a YA book, that too with an MC is something that delighted me. Stone managed to make her portrayal of a teenaged girl in sync with the illness she has.

The book is a romance too, and I thought that’d be something on the side lines, but AJ and Sam are such a healthy couple and their history is very well developed too. Poet’s Corner is a wonderful little creation, but most of all I admired the way Stone wrote the Crazy Eights. People are not black and white; it isn’t easy to compartmentalize them into either good or bad. Stone highlighted those in-between stages in a teenager’s life very well – especially that of a stereotyped high school clique of girls.

BUT THAT TWIST.

Obviously I cannot give away the twist, the essence of the novel but that was something I did not see coming. I was genuinely blown away by that reveal and the way that it was written just had me hooked. I went through the last chapters hungrily, loving the way it was unfolding and how it was so, so good for Sam.

The writing is very languid, flows very calmly for me, pacing up when it needs to. I could relate to the MC so much, I felt for her, sometimes I could even visualize her in my head or myself in her place, wondering what I’d have done. Her dilemmas were real, her feelings could be tangible, her story was believable and that’s what made this book such an amazing read for me.

The romance – AJ AND SAM are such a great couple. That introduction to the book was quite intriguing too, and then there’s the secondary character, we don’t meet them often but they are so important to the novel – her mom along her therapist (who we do meet). Stone mentions in her acknowledgements how important a strong patient-therapist relationship is and how immensely it helps and all I can say is how well she wove that into the book.

Sam’s OCD told me there’s another side to the OCD I see portrayed as a joke on TV and in movies or to a sidekick to be laughed at in novels. Mental illness is not a joke and it needs to be heard. As I’d read once on tumblr: When you have fever, you take a day off, let your body rest. If your brain feels sick, shouldn’t you treat it first?

The taboo over mental illness, the stigmatization over seeking treatment, the ostracization or fear of by others for seeking help is horrible and maybe, just maybe the people who read this book will understand how twisted it is and how important mental health is.

This book taught me a load of stuff, and that’s something I love in the books I read. That’s the reason the book got a five not four stars from me.

And the reason I’m suffering from major book hangover.

Epic Reads, you get me.
Epic Reads, you get me.

I seriously recommend you pick this up. If you study humanities, like reading quality YA and if you’re looking for something different, pick up Every Last Word.

-I received a free e-copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.-

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

Author Interview With Sharon Huss Roat: Between The Notes

Hey guys!

This is my very first author interview, one huge step towards being a proper book blogger! Yay! I interviewed Sharon Huss Roat, author of Between The Notes, my review of which can be found here: BTN Review.

LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.
LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.
  1. How did you come up with the musical element of Between the Notes?

This story came together in such a strange way. I started with one girl and one boy, then added a friend, the family and siblings, another boy. Layer upon layer. One of those layers was Ivy’s music, and her stage fright. Music has always been a big part of my life. I played the clarinet when I was young, even got to travel around Europe performing and to Hawaii. Now I get to enjoy my son’s musical pursuits… he’s a vocal major at his performing arts high school, and also plays guitar, string bass and piano. He’s got a rock band and a blue grass band. And my daughter dances, so music finds its way into everything around here, including my books!

  1. Which of the scenes were the toughest and which of them, the best to write?

Honestly, I don’t remember which was the toughest… there were moments when I wanted to trash the whole novel because something wasn’t working, but that was years ago when I was on a first or second draft. I do have a favorite scene, but it’s toward the end of the novel and I don’t want to share a spoiler by describing it!

  1. If any one character could have a novella, which one would it be?

Ah, let’s see. I could definitely delve into the lives of James or Lennie a bit further and write a novella on either of them. But it might be even more fun to write about Willow or Wynn, who are the mean girls of this story and have their own stories to tell.

  1. What’s next in the YA world for you, after Between the Notes?

I’m currently working on a second, stand-alone novel for HarperTeen, which is also a YA contemporary. I won’t say too much about it yet as I’m still working on the first draft, but it is tentatively titled: HOW TO DISAPPEAR.

  1. As a debut novelist, what advice would you give to aspiring writers and maybe some for the readers too?

I think that both readers and aspiring writers don’t realize what goes into getting a first novel published: the YEARS of writing, revising, querying agents, being on submission to publishers, then the many rounds of revision. It’s a long and sometimes frustrating process, full of many opportunities for rejection and criticism along the way. So, to aspiring writers, my advice would be to keep at it and don’t get discouraged. To readers: be gentle!

  1. How was Between the Notes conceptualized? [Did you draw on personal experiences?]

There are so many little bits and pieces of ideas, influences and experiences that informed my writing of this novel. A case of mistaken identity, hearing about a friend’s stage fright, meeting a family with a disabled child, etc. I think it’s impossible NOT to draw on personal experiences while writing, but Ivy’s story is certainly her own and not based on my own life at all.

Rapid Fire:

  • Favourite Book: Jane Eyre
  • If you had to pick one: Lennie or Ivy? Ivy
  • What would be your last meal on earth? Garden tomato on white bread w/mayo.
  • The only thing you could take from your old house to your new one? Excluding my husband and children? My laptop.
  • Favourite TV Show and Movie. Don’t have single favorites in either categories, but off the top of my head a couple of faves: Downton Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice. (I’m in a historical mood!)

Lastly, what inspired you to write a book about mental disability and how much it affects others?

Brady’s mental disability was one of the layers I added to the story as I was revising. I met a family with twin boys, one of whom had an intellectual disability. He reminded me of Brady. I spoke to the boy’s mother at length, learned more about how his disability affected their family, including the expense of all his therapy and the impact on parents and siblings. It ended up being such an important part of Ivy’s story, I now can’t imagine what the book would be like without it!

Thank you, Nia, for having me!

Thank you so much Sharon! I loved your book and I really, really think everyone should go and get it. NOW.

Until Next Time,

Nia C.

ARC Review: Between the Notes

ARC Review: Between the Notes

Book: Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Genre: YA / Romance / Contemporary

Publishing Date: 16th June, 2015

My Rating: 4.9 Stars on 5

LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.
LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS.

So BTN is the very first YASH book win that I picked up, I wanted to read it before it released and review it too. Co-incidentally, it is also my first physical ARC, my first Author Interview was also given by Sharon Huss Roat, the author this amazing book.

So the book starts off pretty normally – protagonist is told she has to move, to the bad side of the town, leaving her huge home, her piano and all of her luxuries. But there’s something different in this book. Ivy, our MC, has an intellectually disabled brother who is six and who needs therapy.

She meets a cute guy (James) and the bad boy of the school (Lennie) is her neighbour. She really likes James, but are those sparks between Lennie and her?

I really, really liked the book because this time I could relate and understand both sides of the coin, even if I was only seeing one side of it – through Ivy. I felt bad for Ivy, because she lost her life, the one she as accustomed to and the idiot living next to her made fun of her and humiliated her. On the other side, I felt for Lennie too – he was used to be treated like scum by Ivy and her friends back at school and he probably didn’t deserve it.

One quote in particular stuck with me, and I remember it, just not word to word.

“I want the best for him, but it sucks that it means the worst for all of us.”

As an older sibling, I relate immensely to this. But since Brady needs more help than others, it’s refreshing to see how this isn’t painted on a something that’s taboo. I’ve read enough books where the disabled sibling is a shameful secret to the rich protagonist’s family and reputation and it’s only when the love interest shows an inclination to acceptance does it actually become positive. That’s twisted. This book is written well, labelling Brady as a challenge, and as their personal hero. The love that the family has for him, irrespective of what’s happening to them is such a delight to read about.

Reesa, the best friend, Lennie the next-door-bad boy, James, the cute one, the twins, the parents, and the evil ones are all very well thought secondary characters. And the flow was smooth and quick at the same time, it didn’t drag much. It’s a bit longer than other YA books at 400 pages but it is worth it.

I took out a bit of the rating because of the overdone trope: good girl meets bad boy etc. etc. But instead of giving it a 4.5 like I normally would’ve, there’s another aspect to the novel I loved – the musical element -Ivy’s love for her piano and her stage fright among other things.

  • So this reader is completely clueless. I saw the cover several times, marvelled at its simplistic beauty but after several views did I find the piano room. And it took someone to tell me the title was related and symbolic to piano NOTES – Between the NOTES. Seriously, what.

This is the only book after Simon vs. And Alive that I really liked so much, it’s probably getting me out of my slump.

I really think you should pick this book up; it hits the stores today and look out for my interview with Sharon Huss Roat immediately after this post.

Read it, love it.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

-I won a free copy of this book but that did not influence my review in any way –