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International flash fiction contest for everyone. Prizes worth $20,000. Apply before 23 November, 2017.

Hello Readers,

If you have a story to tell with less than 100 words on any theme of your choice. Continue reading…

The V Edition of the International Flash fiction contest is now open, under the motto: “The Word, bridging the gap between different cultures and religions”.

The micro-stories contest is organized by The César Egido Serrano Foundation, a non-profit foundation whose objective is to use words as a tool for understanding between different cultures and religions.

The rules of the competition are as follows:

  1. Writers from anywhere in the world may participate.
  2. Original work (two per author, maximum) with a word limit of 100 on any theme can be written in any of the following languages: Spanish, English, Arabic or Hebrew.
  3. The texts will be original, unpublished in all media (paper, blogs, electronic publications, etc.) and must not have been awarded prizes in any other contest. Those who do not meet this condition will be disqualified.
  4. An overall first prize of $20,000 will be awarded for the best story in any of the languages. Additionally, three $1000 awards will be given to the best stories from the remaining languages.
  5. The deadline for submission will end on November 23rd, 2017. (Spanish Peninsular time)

 

Register here.

To check out winners’ entries from the IV Edition, click here.

(Tip: For English write-ups go down to page 191)

To know more, click here.

If you came across this contest via my post and happen to make a submission, please use my code 55139 in the participation form. It might help me win something but only if YOUR submit wins. *winks*

 

p.s. Apologies for the short notice and good luck!

 

—Writtika

 

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It Happened One Wedding


Author: Julie James

Publisher: Jove

Published: 2014

Pages: 304

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance


 

I have been a fan of Julie James’ books for over a year now. I must say, quite a few of her books have proved to be my ‘happy pill’, helping me relax from the occasional chasm of chaos and thus, I have named them my absolute guilty pleasures.

Of course, the genre being a contemporary romance (read chick lit) doesn’t provide room for much variation with the plotline but a lot of improvisation—good improvisation to the story, characters has been made.

Sidney Sinclair, a successful investment banker. She is smart, gorgeous, independent, bold yet classy. A common picture that you see in Julie James’ books is that she does powerful female characters relatable in today’s time. She writes such amazing, kickass strong female characters that you simply wish to be friends with.

Vaughn Roberts, a special agent with the FBI. He is witty, charming, and sometimes obnoxious in a funny way. He is quite the man about town.

Both these characters unexpectedly meet, exchange rather a funny banter and move on only to be thrown together again for a wedding. The story revolves around Simon and Isabelle’s wedding where Sidney (Isabelle’s sister) and Vaughn (Simon’s brother) are asked to be the maid-of-honor and best man respectively.

After initial hiccups between Vaughn and Sidney, they call a truce and end up becoming friends and eventually to lovers. This whole “enemies to friends to lovers” part was obvious from the moment I started reading but what came along was something more than charming. I would dare say perfect. I admit if you have tried Julie James’ books you won’t be getting anything new, just a few ‘sprucing up’ here and there. But with this book, the ‘sprucing up here and there’ was too good to be real.

The usual wits between the two, the ‘man-speak’ codes Vaughn shared with Sidney and numerous other engagements between the duo were worth reading and total fun. I was grinning the whole read. Also, the inclusion of interesting supporting characters was brilliantly done and adds great flavor to the story. The writing style by Miss James was impeccable as always.

Verdict: If you are looking for an illuminating read that can make you contemplate, this is not it. If you are looking for a tear jerking romance filled with sacrifices, blasted letters, happy-sad endings, this is not it. If you are okay with a predictable yet entertaining plotline or simply want to pass your spare time, you know the title.

Let me know if you try it, we can talk Vaughn Roberts. *winks* haha

 

Before We Were Strangers


Author: Renee Carlino

Publisher: Atria Books

Published: 2015

Pages: 320

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance


To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.
You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.
We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.
Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M

The moment I read this blurb, I was smitten! I instantly knew I had to read it.

‘Before We Were Strangers’ is a beautiful, warm, feel-good romance novel you would end up going to bed with a happy heart.

Matt and Grace meet each other as students at NYU. They are next door neighbours who become ‘fast friends’. Their story spans for over 15 years following a multiple series of cute little moments. The characters are lovely and engaging and their story is simply a strong reflection of the common untold, unglorified lovestories.

Grace, a music student is a free spirit who never ceases to seize the day and Matt, a talented photography student. He is warm, funny, a subtle representation of a leading male character. I fell in love with him! I was rooting for Matt and Grace throughout the entire read. Plus, the writing style was “so amazing” that it pulled me into their story altogether—I delved deeper right in. Therefore, a massive round of applause for Miss Carlino! 😉

Coming to the story, it spans for more than one and a half decade of Grace and Matt’s life together, parted and then together again. A story about two people who beautifully fall in love and get separated only to find each other again, reconnect and give love a second chance. Déjà vu all over again? 😀

I found the whole plotline to be the usual universal way of how romantic comedies revolve, nevertheless without compromising the delightful sliver of romantic comedies.

Of course, the plot was comprehensible; but then again, I did not expect anything major from it, so it wasn’t a disappointment. It was a thorough delight reading about the two. There were a few bits and pieces which I did not like about this book but they were so minute that it doesn’t even matter. The ending was charming complemented with a tiny surprise that will kind of break your heart but in a good way.

Bottom line— I won’t say I loved it but yes, I liked it enough to highly recommend it to y’all. 🙂

The book also shares the POV of both the main characters which I felt add to the story and empathetically narrates the characters’ perspectives.

This was my first Renee Carlino book. I assure you her name is stuck permanently in my head now.

Verdict: With lovable, relatable, strong characters, this book is poignantly written. It beautifully captures the essence of first love, love lost, second chances and that true love has no expiration date.

If you enjoy a good contemporary romance and are looking for new titles, stop your hunt and grab a copy of Before We Were Strangers. Cheers! 😀



 

And in that moment, you realize how little control you have over your own destiny. From the time you’re born, you have no control; you can’t choose your parents, and, unless you’re suicidal, you can’t choose your death. The only thing you can do is choose the person you love, be kind to others, and make your brutally short stint on earth as pleasant as possible.

Like nothing else in life, sex is perfectly selfless and selfish all at once. Hot and cold, yin and yang, black and white, and all of the shades in between.

The way she could colour a black-and-white photo with her magnetism alone.

I’m really into girls with big platelets.

No Time for Goodbye

Gone without a trace. Until now…


Author: Linwood Barclay

Publisher: Orion Books

Published: 2008 (first published 2007)

Pages: 437

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense


 

‘No Time for Goodbye’ by Linwood Barclay is one of those books that transport you to a different dimension filled with nail-biting chapters. This book is a pure adventure to those who enjoy a good suspense.

I personally was immediately caught up with the captivating summary. You can’t afford to miss a book with a summary like this one…

Summary: The house was silent. No sound of her parents getting ready for work, or her brother late for school. Were they punishing her for last night? She’d been out on a date when she should have been studying, and had a huge fight with her father. So where was everyone now? Why had her family disappeared?

Twenty-five years later the mystery is no nearer to being solved and Cynthia is still haunted by unanswered questions. Were her family murdered? Abducted? If so, why was she spared? And if they are alive, why did they abandon her? Then a letter arrives, a letter which makes no sense. Soon Cynthia begins to realise that stirring up the past could be the worst mistake she has ever made…

 

It won’t be wrong to say that I was completely hooked to it right from the beginning (the summary did its charm).

The book starts with a 14-year-old Cynthia waking up to a quiet house one morning after a fight she had with her father the previous night. Initially she is relieved to find the house empty for it meant no confrontation with her parents but soon she discovers that her family had mysteriously disappeared without any trace of what had happened.

Fast forward 25 years, she is still haunted by unfathomable questions that unfortunate night left behind. She gets overwhelmed with the mystery of what had happened and finds her in dreadful ache asking the very primal question— if they are dead or if her parents (and her brother) just abandoned her; for she can’t decide which one sounds worse.

Desperate and determined to find answers, she takes help of a television show to gain any help and find out. The sudden disclosure of a strange fact by her aunt Tess, the unsettling feeling of being watched and a sequence of other mysterious happenings around the household leads Cynthia and her family to a downward spiral filled with vulnerabilities and uncertainties.

Coming to the characters, the book is written from the POV of Cynthia’s husband, Terry Archer. As the story spins around the questions related to the disappearance of Cynthia’s family; at moments, I felt that maybe the POV should have been through the eyes of Cynthia for she seems to be the obvious victim but after a little thought I came to a conclusion that, perhaps that very exercise could limit the reader’s imagination and to ensure a matured investigation towards such an incident, the exposure to a wider possibility of suspect(s) from a third-party viewpoint was needed. I also found Terry’s perspective was unbiased and thoughtfully written. There were trivial moments where you start questioning if the characters you are rooting for is innocent or not, or if they have secrets hidden deep down in their hearts, if they had anything to do with the disappearance of the family. You are in a moral dilemma about whom to trust.

This, I consider gave the book an extra nudge because then you start questioning every possible character’s involvement in the loss and that is exactly how things should roll.

Besides, Terry has this sarcastic humour going on which cracked me up in between and made the whole read more fun.

Another crucial aspect I liked was that; I was not able to recount what was going on and just when I figure out an implausible theory, the book brings out-of-nowhere twists (in a very realistic way though). This made me stick my eyes to the book all over till the end. And hey isn’t that what great suspense books are supposed to do? Play awful mind games and then slap you with the mind soothing answer. 😀

The writing style is straight up simple and the whole story was so gripping that I loved every bit of it. Brilliant work by Mr. Barclay! 🙂

Verdict: I really enjoyed this book and was blown away with the ending. (What a relief it was to find out!) Everything fits perfectly and makes sense. A thriller you don’t want to miss out and probably would end up adding to your favorite suspense/thriller collection. Highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a good thriller. There shall come many moments when you sure will be catching your breath!

Let me know what you think if you have already read it.

I Was Here


Author: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Viking

Published: 2015

Pages: 270

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary


 

Summary: The story follows Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend Meg’s suicide, as she delves into Meg’s secret life in search of answers.

Best friends Cody and Meg had plans together. Everything about their lives stride even until the day Meg goes off to college leaving Cody all by herself in a state of misplaced emotions. Everything Cody thought she knew/believed about Meg seems like a detached idea the day she receives a blasted email indicating her best friend Meg is gone, forever. This leaves Cody heartbroken, at loss and most importantly guilty.

Lost and angry, she finds herself at the door where Meg once lived; in her college town, to take care of a few personal matters. Once there, unexpectedly she finds an encrypted file on Meg’s computer, a file that fosters into a peculiar discovery about her best friend.

Set to uncover the truth, Cody embarks on a dangerous journey (accompanied by some help) which led her to the abysmal answers to why, how, someone like Meg ended up dead along with reflecting her own thoughts and guilt, and how forgiveness sometimes is all we need to mend broken hearts.

This book largely circles around finding answers to the anonymities and questions left behind by Meg’s death.

The entire plotline of ‘I Was Here’ was a bit slow with unnecessary details and mix ups. I also found, the additional budding romance made it even worse for me to go on, for it lacked a certain amount of connection and amity between the pivotal characters—they were plain awkward together. The romance was so not needed and too much clichè, eh?

I did not really grasp how the story was going to go which slightly intrigued me in the beginning but halfway through I ended up not really caring.

Written in utmost plainness, the book fails to capture my heart and I was glad I finished it off soon. It was an easy read but such a drag that if not for the pretty book cover, I would have thrown it off of my window exactly like Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings Playbook! Pfftt -_-

Talking about the central character Cody; I as a reader, found her desperately uninteresting and flat. I wasn’t rooting for her or to be more precise any of the characters. I don’t even feel like talking about the characters, the character buildup of this book was a thorough disappointment!

This book tries to communicate a story by holding a sensitive topic of suicide (and depression) and to be honest I am not sure if I liked the way the story unfolded and concluded. Funny thing is, I found that I liked the author’s note more enhanced than the book itself.

Verdict: The story perhaps might come out as raw and somewhat solo but it does not deliver what I expected. It was supposed to be a beautiful, touching story but it lacked that lasting effect and seems half cooked.

Your thoughts?



 

It’s an act of bravery to feel your feelings.

I was reminded just why God wants us to forgive. Not simply because it’s the key to a better world, but because of what it does for ourselves. Forgiveness is God’s gift to us.

How can you believe someone to be beautiful and amazing and just about the most magical person you’ve ever known, when it turns out she was in such pain that she had to drink poison that robbed her cells of oxygen until her heart had no choice but to stop beating?

Life can be hard and beautiful and messy, but hopefully, it will be long. If it is, you will see that it’s unpredictable, and that the dark periods comes, but they abate — sometimes with a lot of support — and the tunnel widens, allowing the sun back in. If you’re in the dark, it might feel like you will always be there. Fumbling. Alone. But you won’t — and you’re not.

 

 

 

We Were Liars


Author: E. Lockhart

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: 2014

Pages: 227

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery


 

‘We Were Liars’ follows the story of a very rich, powerful, beautiful family—the Sinclair’s. E. Lockhart manages to effectively create this haunting albeit beautiful story about the Sinclair family. Living off in a private island during each summer holiday, surrounded with finest of things and luxuries the Sinclair’s, is undoubtedly a power family to outsiders.

I was totally hooked to this one right from the beginning. I was so intrigued that my reading pace did not even falter once. I just couldn’t put it down!

The story is voiced by Cadence Sinclair, (soon to turn eighteen) whom we find in midst of a confused frenzied state. Back during her fifteenth summer at the Sinclair residence, something happened that steered her towards her current standing. To make things hard, her family does not seem to tell her anything about the forgotten summer. Thus, she finally ventures into the development of finding answers herself.

Now this is the part that will eat you up (and I prefer to not say much). I could not fathom what happened that summer. I came up with multiple theories; each one of them failed to discover the mystery. It does have an unexpected, “out-of-the-blue” ending. When the truth surfaced—I was shattered. I wanted to discard it. You might not be prepared for the truth (like reality) and it just drops in front of you like a bomb and your little world is destroyed in seconds. You are at a total loss. What can you do? You are dumbstruck. (I was) Talk about cruelty?!

Now coming to the writing style, the author did a fantastic job I would say. It is written in a poetic manner which is not snobbish or anything but very powerful and provocative— another great reason why I loved it so much.

‘We Were Liars’ remarkably sheds light to the repercussions of greed, prejudice and racism and the incurable flaws attached to them. As you reach the last few pages, you would only feel sorry and at loss and not rage.

Verdict: A quick and easy read. Readers who enjoy twisted endings will love this one. Brutally evil yet beautiful!

Extra: The book comes with a map of the private island and a family tree which is kinda cool and complements the read.

If you have already read it, I would very much like to hear from you. Shoot! 🙂



 

Do not accept an evil you can change.

Be a little kinder than you have to…

Johnny, he is bounce, effort, and snark.
Mirren, she is sugar, curiosity, and rain.
Gat, he was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee.