Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Character Interview (Running to Stand Still by Lauren Rosolino)

Title: Running to Stand Still
Author: Lauren Rosolino
Genre: New Adult Romance

Having read, enjoyed, and reviewed Lauren Rosolino's Running to Stand Still, I felt like I knew the characters. But I still had many questions for them.

Running to Stand Still is the story of Jaime and her family. Her family the very foundation of which got disturbed the night her mother, Amy left them.

Amy didn't get to say much in the book. Her point of view was never really explained. And yet, the author wrote about her in a way that I had a soft corner for her. 

Here are my questions to her and her answers.

Hi, Amy. I know it was not easy for you to leave. The very fact that you made your last evening with your family special, says a lot. Was it worth it, the leaving?

Yes. It took a long time for me to make the decision to leave. I didn't take it lightly. I struggled with it a lot. to this day, I regret that I had to walk away, that I had to hurt the people that I loved so much just so I could breathe again. I'm not proud of the person I am, but no matter how much I tried (and believe me, did I try) I couldn't and can't change who I am. I will always hold on to the memory of that night for as long as I live. I'm not sure if it did more good than harm, but to have had that time with them, that one last little bubble of love and safety, meant the world to me. I carry it with me always.

Somehow I do understand that there was a burning desire in you to be a 'free bird' as Charlie puts it. Did you achieve it?

Yes. Being a vagabond gypsy is one of the few things I am good at.

Are you happy?

As happy as a tortured, musical soul torn in two can be. Which is to say, when I'm playing, singing, performing, I can feel fully myself, fully in my element, transcended from reality and all its heartache. Miserable when I'm not. But the catch-22 is that you can't live in a constant state of playing. You need time to step away from the craft to inspire the music, to infuse the chords and lyrics with breath and life and truth.

Thanks a lot, Amy.
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The protagonist in Running to Stand Still is Amy's daughter, Jaime and I had some questions for her too.

Hello, Jaime. In hindsight, do you think your wanting to leave was only about your mother having left?

We recreate that which we were taught. Or at least that's what 'they' say. And my mother taught me that there was nothing good to be found in staying. Because I believed her, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I created this line in my mind that I could only be happy and free if I left. All because of those words she spoke, they completely derailed me.

Did you ever make a list of what the 'perfect man' would be like? Is Colin like that? I have a feeling that the list would describe Brett more than Colin. Am I wrong?

No, you are not wrong. Not by a long shot. I never physically wrote out a list of attributes I wanted in a man, but there definitely was one in my head, that's for damn sure. And Brett was the epitome of that list: good-looking, put together, successful, thoughtful but not too needy, work-oriented, uncomplicated family life (preferably not much of one at all), and emotionally neat. I didn't want anything too messy.
The funny thing is, that list didn't start to form in my mind until all the shit hit the fan after my mom left and I started to pull my life back together. It was an aspirational list. But if I really think about it, the person I would've wanted if she had never left, the person I wanted before I went off the deep-end... that person is Colin to a T. Sincere, kind, affectionate, rough on the outside, but gentle on the inside. Colin is the kind of person you just want to run to when things are tough because you know that he won't baby you or patronize you (he'll tell you straight up what you need to know), but he will protect you with everything he's got. He's someone you can stand beside and behind when you need to. He's also the person who's not afraid to let you stand in front of him and do the protecting, when necessary.

Do you sing, or play guitar, or something else? Music does seem to run in your family after all :)

God, no. I wish I did. I'm kind of mad at my parents for not making me learn an instrument when I was young. I attempted the piano when I was in high school but it didn't stick. I was also in choir in the seventh grade. In another life, I would be in an all-ladies band, or lead guitarist/vocalist or drums with pink stripes in my hair. But alas, in this life, it has not come to pass (there may be hope yet!). Music is an integral process of my creative process, though. What I love about music, that the written word doesn't do quite as well, is capture the very essence of a moment in time, a feeling, a glimpse of life, with the interplay of melody and lyrics. It's unapologetic about being as emotional and honest as it can possibly be - it just lays it all out there in the open. And we need as much of that as we can get. Music feeds the soul, you know? Music is humanity in essence. We would be dead without it.

*  *  *

And finally, a question to the author, Lauren Rosolino.

I really want to know more about Jacob. He's such a sensitive person. I would really like to know more about his personal life. Or maybe we can look forward to another book where the focus is on Jacob.

I would love, love, love to write a book with Jacob as the protagonist. I should totally do that. (I'm going to do it.) But for now, this is what I can tell you: (this is taken pretty much verbatime from my post about him on my blog).
Jacob is still an enigma to me.

He was inspired by a bartender I encountered while out for my husband's 25th birthday in downtown Detroit before a Twenty One Pilots concert at the Fox Theatre. The second I saw him behind the bar, I knew he was going to be a character in my book. Here's what I do know about Jacob:

He's a vet. Former Green Beret. 7th Special Forces Group. Area of Responsibility: Mexico, Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean. Stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. He can speak Spanish and several Island dialects.
Plays on men's hockey league. Boxes at gym with Charlie. Does Cross-fit.
Quiet, reserved, a man of few words. Gruff.
Loyal, courteous, patient. Does what's right, what needs to be done. He endures. He is tough, observant. Judgement is one of his skills. He carries a weight from the past. See's the world as broken. And yet, he's a pragmatist. A realist. he accepts that sometimes peace necessitates violence.
Just wants to keep his nose to the ground and stay out of trouble. Wants to go to the gym, work at the bar. 
Greatly values the place he has in the Benson family. Loves them deeply. Would do anything for them. 
As for how he got there in the first place? I have no idea.
I have a sense that he's a Detroit boy. Raised in poverty, an indifferent/hostile environment.
And that's all I have for you for now :)

Thanks a lot, once again...
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*  *  *

*  *  *

Collin was who he was: simple and easy.
                  Me? I was jagged and complex. I wanted everything.
                  And despite how he made me feel—safe—it was clear to me that we’d never work out in the end.
                  That divide between us would always be there.
                  Because I’d never ask him to give up on the things he wanted.
                  And, while I sometimes wished I could be that person, I wasn’t.

Just seven more months. Then Jamie Benson can leave this goodbye town behind her and start her new life in Chicago. She can leave this place of broken glass and cracked sidewalks and rusted fences. This place that holds nothing good. She can leave the ghosts and spinning rooms and shattered promises in her rearview mirror and never look back.
But all the stories she’s been telling herself are threatened when, one night, while tending bar at her father’s hole-in-the-wall dive, she meets Collin—a boy who is good and honest and sincere in a world where everything is harsh and cold and detached. A boy who makes her feel safe.  A boy worth staying for.
Will Jamie be able to untangle the truths from the lies? Or will the sins of the past swallow her whole?

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About the Author - Lauren Rosolino

Author of The Charm Necklace and Running to Stand Still. Writer of stories about finding beauty in brokenness. 
She is a storyteller. Adventuer. Partner. Coffee drinker. Magic believer. Rebel with a gypsy soul. Lover of the woods and books, the woods and walks.
Born and bred in Detroit, Lauren grew up reading Harry Potter, watching Gilmore Girls, listening (and dancing) to a lot of music, and wondering why people do what they do. She graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in Psychology. Lauren lives with her husband, dog, cat, and bunny in Charleston, South Carolina.
To find out more and read her blog, Wonderstruck, visit www.laurenrosolino.com.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Varied thoughts, Different Perspective (Book Review: Thousand Unspoken Thoughts by Prerna Khatri)

Title: Thousand Unspoken Thoughts
Author: Prerna Khatri
Genre: Poetry

Prerna Khatri's collection of poems, Thousand Unspoken Thoughts are truly many thoughts entwined. 
These poems talk about varied topics, exploring introspection, love, silence, and more.

Prerna Khatri's poems are usually abstract, but there are others which almost tell a story.
Some are very short (5-6 lines), others run for a couple of pages.
Some poems talk of hope that lift your spirits, others have a lingering darkness that could haunt the reader.

The interesting thing about this is that you have no idea what you will encounter next. The poems go from sweet to passionate to introspective to spiritual to dark to self-congratulatory to inspiring, and even a soldier's voice.

The poems talk about love, finding self, looking within, spiritualism, and more.
There are hope and introspection and darkness.
The darkness was a surprise, I have to say. Surprising, and so well expressed too.

Love, passion, and silence are subjects that recur through this collection. But the perspective is very different from the usual...

"For even the hour and minute needle
Meet only twice a day,
Constant in conflict,
Constant in variation."

The sound of silence is loud in the words of Prerna Khatri. The voice of reason that tells you to enjoy the view, the ride...

"You might got numb, have chills,
At how much you've missed around you.
The silence in the wind,
The silence when you breathe,
The silence when you listen,
Everything's being lost,
In moments of unending speech.
Find that silence.
You'll find life.

It's waiting to be heard."

I enjoyed reading Prerna Khatri's poems. But what really left a mark were the many insights hidden in these verses.

"...the soul gives up faster,
Than its physical being."

There are some emotions I don't agree with, or maybe I should say I don't relate to. Whether I relate to the thoughts or not, I appreciate their expression.

Prerna Khatri's Thousand Unspoken Thoughts is an interesting ride. You journey into the many facets of feelings along the way. Some thoughts astonish you, others make you smile. 
I liked some more than others, but when I was done reading each one of the thoughts, I realised that they have left me in a reflective mood.

"How beautiful would it have been
If the world was blind,
And all that was left was human touch?"

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The italicised text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thousand Unspoken Thoughts’ Brings Together The Collection Of Poetry Of An Amateur Poet Who Uses Words To See Through The World. Prerna, Though Being An Advocate By Profession Believes That Writing Is Where Her Heart Lies. The Collection Is A Passage Through Her Mind, Where Innumerable Dreams And Aspirations, Are Brought Down To Ink. Her Writing Is Not Confined To Any Age Group; Hence, No Censor Certificate Is Required. Keeping That Thought Aside, She Believes In The Power Of Ink, And Her Poems Stand As Witness. 

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Saturday, 17 September 2016

A touching story of struggle and hope (Book Review: Akash Verma's A Broken Man)

Title: A Broken Man
Author: Akash Verma

A Broken Man is the story of Krishna and Chhavi.

Krishna, the guileless, Dalit boy, who has dreams. He has experienced too many harsh realities of life to be openly ambitious. But he has dreams, and sensitivity, and talent.
"My dreams are like a fire burning inside my heart."

Chhavi, the daughter of a powerful politician, belongs to high caste. She has had a sheltered enough life to naively believe that she can change the world. (This perception of Chhavi is the realist/cynic in me talking.)

A Broken Man starts in the glittering world of Bollywood, soon to go back in time to Lucknow University.

Through the words of Krishna, the author has portrayed the convoluted issues of politics and caste and caste politics with a surprising simplicity.
"It's only here unlike any other place in the world that you are born with two identities - your religion and your caste. You may not have a name, but you will have this identity sticking to you like your shadow. Wherever you may go, it will walk with you, never leave you alone."

A Broken Man is about a world that I know exists, but thankfully not from personal experience. A world that I have had a glimpse of when a certain someone is served tea in a cup that is kept aside and is not to be used by the rest of the 'superior' lot.

I know I am lucky that it is not a world I know. Lucky because this world of discrimination is poison for the one who discriminates and hell for the one who is discriminated against.

Akash Verma writes little details very effectively. A meal at a restaurant, the first experience of holding hands - there is a raw, hesitant tone to the author's expression in such situations. 
His narration is such that I feel I have seen the world of Krishna and Chhavi.

Even a fleetingly mention incident leaves an impact.
"He could never forget what he last saw of his family as they unsuccessfully tried to defeat the mammoth force of the ravaging stream. The sleeve of his younger son's red-coloured check shirt, that he had got stitched for a cousin's wedding the previous year, and the pain in his wife's eyes as she looked at him for the last time before getting pulled down by the gushing water. Was it the fear of death, the pang of separation or the helplessness of being the chosen one to die so wastefully?"

You, as a reader, live them with the characters.

The Hindi poems, which according to the story are from Krishna's pen are brilliant.
Some verses are translated in English too, but I feel that reading them in Hindi gives you a special insight into the thoughts of the writer.
And there are the stories that Chhavi tells, treasures that her grandma has told her. Really good.

The cover of A Broken Man is poignant. The defeated stance of a man imprisoned and all alone, overwhelmed by the chaos all around.

Dirty politics, caste discrimination, impossible relationships, and hope against hope... sounds like a filmy story. It actually is and I mean it in the best way possible.

Akash Verma's A Broken Man is a story of struggle and injustice that moves you. But despite its' title and the heartrending path the story takes, it is also a story of innocent wisdom, beautiful poetry, love, hope, and dreams that come true. 
I am happy I read it.

*  *  *

The italicized text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Take a deep breath before you are born here, my child! 

You take birth in a land where I struggled; gave it my sweat and blood. A land that I thought belonged to me..… unbridled, uncompromising. 

Krishna is a Dalit boy from Bihar who struggles to overthrow the chains that hold him back. Chhavi is a high caste Brahman girl fighting for the rights of others, propagating equality in a politically charged Lucknow University campus. After Krishna saves Chhavi from getting torched during a protest against reservation, love slowly blossoms, only to be ruthlessly crushed by a society that thrives on divisions of caste and religion. From student politics in Lucknow to the interiors of Bihar, from the corridors of power to the glitz of media and the film industry in Mumbai. 

A Broken Man is the quest of a deprived Krishna to redeem hope from despair, love from separation and success out of repeated failures. From the bestselling author of It Happened That Night and Three Times Loser, this is a story that reinforces our faith in what love can accomplish as it pushes us to achieve the impossible, making us tap our true inner potential.

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About the Author - Akash Verma

Akash Verma is an entrepreneur. His work has taken him across the country, and he finds this experience very relevant while giving shape to his stories. He has published two bestsellers till now. Akash is currently based out of Gurgaon, India. He is fascinated by Cinema, Literature, History and Travel.

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Book Review: Wrong Means Right End by Varsha Dixit

Title: Wrong Means Right End
Author: Varsha Dixit
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The second story of love and friendship in the 'Right Wrong Series' by Varsha Dixit is Wrong Means Right End.

As I was reading the Right Fit Wrong Shoe, I was wondering what Wrong Means Right End would be about. I hadn't read the blurb.
I had thought that had Sneha not been married, it could have been about her finding love.
Well, Sneha was married. Now she is not.

Ok, back to the beginning...

Wrong Means Right End is the story of Sneha, a happily divorced single mother, and Nikhil, who made a fleeting appearance in the previous book. 
When the two meet for the first time in this book, it is not a good start for them. There are antagonism and awkwardness. The apparent dislike between the two, and the obvious attraction make for a perfect kick-off for a story of romance.

Nikhil is good looking and filthy rich, just as Aditya in Right Fit Wrong Shoe.

Sneha's best friend, Nandini had been united with the love of her life, Aditya in Right Fit Wrong Shoe.
She is here too, newly married, and battling her own share of problems.
The backdrop has shifted from Kanpur to Mumbai. 

Oh, and there is Gayathri, the rich, spoiled girl to whom Aditya had been engaged previously. The fact that Gayathri is like family to Nikhil doesn't help matters.

Usually in such series, the couples from the previous books get a passing mention a couple of times. Not so in this one. Aditya and Nandini play an important role in the polot of this book. I do think though that even if one has not read the previous book, this book will work well as a standalone story.

The banter between the two friends has escalated in this book.

One very interesting thread that runs through the book is the mixed-up abusive words that Sneha and Nandini use.
"Thanks to Advey's habit of picking up only cuss words from entire sentences, Sneha and Nandini's colourful lingo had down downgraded to age-appropriate but confusing material."
So there is hitch, loody bell, and a lot more.

Question to author: Why did Advey never pick up the word 'Kulta'?
I do think this word was used once too often.

Loved Mona's 'Trust me, I'm a psychologist', and then making statements that had me feeling *facepalm*.

Just as in Right Fit Wrong Shoe, the writing is informal and relaxed, with the slang-factor turned up a notch.
The titles of the chapters continue to charm - I googled you, Blow your horn, Earth to Mars...

With Nandini adjusting to a new lifestyle, Sneha finding her footing in a new city, Nikhil and Gayathri out for revenge for being jilted by Aditya, the story of Wrong Means Right End moves fast.

Sneha's hot-headed actions, her care-a-damn attitude towards consequences of her actions, Nikhil's understated yet potent reactions, all make for a good read.

Click for My Review of Right Fit Wrong Shoe

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Wrong Means Right End tells the tale of Sneha, a single mother who is working hard to earn a living to support herself and her young son. Her focus solely lies on making their ends meet and she has lost interest in love or dating. Sneha's best friend Nandini is now happily married to Aditya, an industrialist. Nandini's concern for Sneha makes her act as a matchmaker, who wants to fill her life with love and happiness. Sneha's regular pace of life is disturbed when Nikhil, a man with whom she shares an unpleasant past, enters in her life. He is haughty and Sneha will go to any extent to keep her distance from him. If these problems weren't enough, another troublemaker, Gayathri, enters the picture to create havoc. Gayathri is Aditya's ex girlfriend who still likes him and is trying her best to jeopardize Nandini and Aditya's relationship. The only person that could help Sneha in stopping Gayatri is Nikhil. Considering their hatred for each other, will Sneha approach Nikhil for saving Nandini and Aditya's marriage?

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About the Author - Varsha Dixit


Varsha Dixit, the bestselling author of four successful contemporary romance books. Her debut book, Right Fit Wrong Shoe was a national bestseller for the year 2010. Varsha was a part of the Indian Television Industry and worked as an assistant director and online editor. She considers herself a dreamer who thinks deep but writes light. Even though creativity is gender free,Varsha feels blessed and enriched to be a woman. Currently, with her family, Varsha resides in CA, USA.

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Friday, 16 September 2016

A Fun Read (Book Review: Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe)

Title: Right Fit Wrong Shoe
Author: Varsha Dixit
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe is the story of Nandini Sharma and Aditya Sarin. The two share a history and are meeting again after over three years as the story begins.

Nandini's chemistry with her best friends, Sneha Verma is also an important and engaging aspect of this book.
The two friends work in an advertising agency.

Nandini seems to be content with her life.
"I just want to live my life the way it is happening. I do not want to expect, plan or steer it in any direction."

Based in the city of Kanpur, the author has given a truly Indian setting to this story.
Issues like sexual harrasment that affect us in our day-to-day life have been woven into the story.

Right Fit Wrong Shoe has been on my to-read list since I read Varsha Dixit's Only Wheat Not White
Once I had the third in the 'Right Wrong Series' - Rightfully Wrong Wrongfully Right in my hand, I just had to read the first two before reading the third one.
I knew they can be read as standalone stories, which I can also vouch for having read all three now. Still...

The Title
The title of Right Fit Wrong Shoe can be justified with the story if one really tries, but on face value, this title is not the right fit. But it is such a good title that I am not complaining.
And the titles that the author has given each chapter endorse her fondness and finesse for interesting, amusing titles.
Some of the unsuaual titles are - Aaj ki taaza khabar, Jab we met, Laaga chunari mein daag... almost, Gharwali Baharwali, and many more.

A funky cover, a Cinderella reminding title (am I the only one who thought of the fairy tale, I wonder), and both the figures (male and female) in a indifferent stance, is just the right cover for this romance of today.

Writing Style
With liberal use of slangs, and titles that are from our everyday lingo, Varsha Dixit has a very good and distinct writing style. 
Consider the phrase 'ignored him like expired cosmetics'. The narrative of Right Fit Wrong Shoe has many such 'never heard before' expressions.
If one does not know Hindi, and is not familiar with the common phrases or cultural reference, one would lose on the extra zing that these add to the narrative. One would not miss out on the story, but would miss out on a few smiles.

I found wrong
My one angst while reading this book... 
I can understand the reason behind Aditya's anger, and still I continue to insist that there is no situation in which physical assault can be justified. 
Aditya never hits Nandini, and as I said he is angry with good reason, but I would have liked Aditya more if his expression of this annoyance had been a little subdued.

The actual climax is not too convincing. On the other hand, in reality, don't we usually realise that most misunderstandings are becasue of insensible, unbelievable reasons once they get sorted out.

I love reading romances. I know how they are going to end - happily ever after. Maybe it is because of this certainty of 'everything will be fine' that one can relax while reading them.

Varsha Dixit's Right Fit Wrong Shoe is passionate, witty, and modish.
The light hearted banter, the uncontrollable passion, the respect for family, the mystery of past - all make this a fun read.

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Twenty-six year old Nandini Sharma is a girl who, likemost girls in India, has been taken over by Bollywood. She falls for her neighbour Adity Sarin. He is filthy rich and fairly intelligent. She mocks death and suffers for love. Right Fit Wrong Shoe may be Indian to the core, but contains urban language. The humorous book will have you laughing so hard that it will bring tears to your eyes. The book does not have graphic scenes or physical intimacy and the words used are delicate. The funny and romantic book is about a young woman's thoughts about the society she lives in.

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About the Author - Varsha Dixit


Varsha Dixit, the bestselling author of four successful contemporary romance books. Her debut book, Right Fit Wrong Shoe was a national bestseller for the year 2010. Varsha was a part of the Indian Television Industry and worked as an assistant director and online editor. She considers herself a dreamer who thinks deep but writes light. Even though creativity is gender free,Varsha feels blessed and enriched to be a woman. Currently, with her family, Varsha resides in CA, USA.

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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Introspective Quotes from Aarti V Raman's Kingdom Come

Title: Kingdom Come
Author: Aarti V Raman
Genre: Fiction (Romance, Thriller)

"He didn't believe in either heaven or hell... But he did believe, absolutely, in right and wrong. In truth. In justice. And in freedom. He believed in choice. He believed that we all got exactly what we wanted, because we chose it."

"The Woodpecker
The bird that chipped and chipped away at the branch in a tree to make a nest for herself and her chicks."

"Kids who bounced from foster home to foster home, learnt the value of being grounded to places rather than people early on in life. Places that you had been to, places that you dreamed about, were something else altogether. They were permanent. They were forever."

When all the stars in the universe conspired to give you the very thing you wanted."

"If there was ever a place on earth that whispered peace and serenity, it was here."

Click for My Review of Kingdom Come

Fun Quotes from Kiran Manral's Once Upon a Crush

Title: Once Upon A Crush
Author: Kiran Manral
Genre: Fiction (Romantic Comedy)

"What do butterflies get in their stomachs when they get nervous..."

"Maybe we humans needed to take lessons from the animal kingdom where all females were busy playing Prove Your Love with the Hapless males of their species before they consented to get down and dirty with them."

"Maybe marriage was a communicable disease."

"Complicated happens when bodily fluids are exchanged on a regular basis."

"... the funny wigs that airhostesses wore as part of their uniform, making them look like they were the airhostess version of Oompaloompas having emerged out of some cookie cutter airhostess factory run by Willi Wonka..."

"The scariest thing about growing up must be the realization that one's parents are closer to their date with mortality than one would like."

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Inspirational Quotes from Priyanka Sinha Jha's Supertraits of Superstars

Quotes from 
Priyanka Sinha Jha's Supertraits of Superstars

Title: Supertraits of Superstars
Author: Priyanka Sinha Jha
Genre: Non-fiction / Self-help

"Success can be as difficult to process and assimilate as a failure and rejection."

"It is the little things we do that make a big difference in how people perceive us."

"Money is a by-product of one's passion."

"When there is intense criticism, people tend to either shape up or ship out."

"Only a person standing in a valley truly appreciates the height of the mountain before him."

"A true master is one who imparts his secrets without fear that his student might surpass him."

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