Farewell Jan!

I can’t believe that we are already bidding farewell to the first month of 2016.

Amongst many resolutions, one of my resolutions for the year was to click more, better photos & upload them on the blog. I love reviewing books but come on; everyone needs variety right? 😉

So here we go……

Some coffee and a fashion magazine is the formula for a perfect afternoon. (Barring the siestas) 😉

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My new dairy is my daily dose of inspiration

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Jan has been a season of weddings! One after another…. Love this time cause I get to apply mehndi!

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I know this is a bad image but I had to upload it. This is a very spicy Indian street food known as the bomb. It has carved potato as the base filled with sweet and spicy green sauce, sev, coriander, raw mango amongst the other fillings. One bite and all your taste buds come alive!

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Arm candy for the day!

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Fruit cakes are such a good break from the chocolate cakes….

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A long night drive, winter and a bon fire!

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Night sky with lighted kites on Makarsankranti…. Such a picturesque moment. I wish I could have done more justice to the image.

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When all fails, cupcakes come to rescue!

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A special homemade dinner…

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Paan…. It is the best way to end all meals

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My experiments with cooking: Bread Manchurian in the making.

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As I said the wedding season has kicked in and we all need a few tips on the trends this year!!! J

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How is your year coming up???

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Book Review: The Last of the Firedrakes (Avalonia Chronicles #1)

 

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Title: The Last of the Firedrakes (Avalonia Chronicles #1)

Author: Farah Oomerbhoy

Publication: Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Length: 488 pages

Plot- 16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

Favorite Quote: “I had to stop running. I had to turn and face my life head on.” Aurora Firedrake

The Last of the Firedrakes is a fantasy novella. This book is the first in the Avalonia Chronicles Trilogy. The book revolves around Aurora who lives with her uncle’s family since her loving adoptive parents died in a tragic car crash. Her evil aunt and cruel cousin leave no opportunity to put her down. Like this isn’t enough, Aurora is bullied at school. Practically she is all alone in this world and has no one to confide in. Aurora eagerly wants to turn eighteen so she can go off living on her own. One day her uncle plans a sudden ‘family trip’ to Red Manor which is quite surprising since Aurora has never been taken on any of the family vacations. With dramatic turn of events at Red Manor, Aurora gets whisked into the magical land of Avalonia.

Avalonia is astoundingly beautiful and magical land spread over seven kingdoms with magical creatures like pegasus, faes, mages (these are cool short forms for fairies and magicians), shape-shifters, etc existing there. I am in love with the way the author has depicted an entire new fantasy world. I would love to explore this world. I must mention the map at the beginning of the book. It makes it easier for the readers to navigate through the kingdoms. As the story unfolds, newer lands come to light. By end of the book I was quite through with the geography of Avalonia.

As the story progresses, Aurora comes across many dreadful situations which she was totally unprepared for. It is very interesting to see the development in Aurora’s confidence and strength from the time she discovers that she belongs to Avalonia and has a major responsibility to bear. Instead of shying away from it she takes it upon herself and that truly is commendable at the age of sixteen.

The characters in the book are very well portrayed and I simply loved the way the novel is written. The book has magic, mystery, fantasy, action, friendship and of course romance (one word ‘RAFE’). The book did remind me of Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia a little, but the book has its own uniqueness. It was very difficult for me to put down the book. I am eagerly awaiting the second book in the serise!

Ratings- 4/5 (One point entirely for the portrayal of Avalonia)

Book Tour Details:

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A complimentary copy of the book was sent to me but the reviews are my own.

Book Review: Enough to Keep You (Conflicted: The Love Diaries Book 1)

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Title: Enough to Keep You (Conflicted: The Love Diaries Book 1)

Author: Hazel Boyd

Publication: Kindle Edition

Length: 350 pages 

Plot- Enough to Keep You is a collection of love stories told through the eyes of five couples. Each perspective explores a different issue as it relates to love. Infidelity. Unrequited love. New love. Sexuality. Abuse in many forms. Creating a family, etc.

Favorite Quote: ‘Often time, people start at the beginning, but I am going to start from this very moment.’

Enough to keep you is a collection of vivid love stories. This book is the inaugural edition in the ‘Conflicted: The love diary series.’ The plot revolves around seven main characters and their counterparts. The book is narrated from all these characters’ point of view. These characters are Nicole, Claire, Rachel, Tori, Scott, Michael, Ashley. Each character has individualistic characteristics setting them apart. Their lives are intertwined.

When you read the book, it feels like you are reading a page out of one’s journal. The inner most fears, desires and emotions are on display unguarded and this is the key highlight of the entire book. It is very fascinating to see that when it comes to the matter of love, highly intellectual people like doctors, surgeons, lawyers, etc have no control over their emotions. The book explores various issues like child abuse, kidnapping, withholding a hostage for years, a lesbian relationship, infidelity , getting over past relationships, having a toxic relationship, maintaining a work- life balance, etc.

We might have experienced a few situations at a personal level, but we might never experience a lot of concerns raised in this book ourselves. Experiencing and diving into the psychological effects of such situations was the most interesting part of the book for me.

The complexities of a love relationship are brought to light in a very realistic manner. I would recommend this book for all those who are interested in reading complicated love stories.

Rating: 3/5

Note- I was sent a copy of the book by the author but the reviews are my own.

Book Review: The Nightingale

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Title: The Nightingale

Author: Kristin Hannah

Publication: St. Martin’s Press

Length: 440 pages

Plot: In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Favorite Quote: “Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.”

I am finding it a little difficult to review this book because I don’t think I will adequately be able to put in words the impact of this book. Let me try my best!

I decided to read this book after it won the Goodreads readers choice award 2015 for the best historical fiction. When I started the book, all I knew is that this book is about World War 2 highlighting the phase where Germany had occupied France. But the book is much much more than that. The best part of the book that it brings out the hardships that women and children have to face during the war since this is a much neglected aspect. The book begins with the line ‘In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.’

The story follows two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who embark on different journeys during the war. They have starkly different personalities from each other. Isabelle is a pretty looking schoolgirl who has been running away from school a lot of time since she feels abandoned by her father and sister after her Maman’s death. She is determined to join the French Revolution, not caring about the consequences. She is brave, strong, and independent. She is not afraid to say her opinion. I absolutely love Isabelle’s character from the very start. Vianne on the other side is a traditional French Housewife, very tame, grieves easily, trying to keep a low profile, protecting her children. At the beginning I found her character to be spineless but eventually her true character unwinds and I realized how really brave she is. Towards the end she became my favorite character.

The book is narrated over the years. It begins with Antonie, Vianne’s husband leaving for the war and Isabelle running away from school to Paris, where her father lives. Isabelle is sent to Vianne during the war, and that’s when the story picks up. The book perfectly describes the hardships of the war over the years, the lost childhood of the children, the impact on women during the war. There are times when your heart cries, goes out for the people living during the war, it makes you think what would have you done differently if you were in their shoes. It makes you want to save the characters from taking a reckless decision because you know they are at a big risk. It evocates a feeling of love and protection in you and I believe if any book can generate that feeling in the reader, it is a big big compliment to the author.

After reading this book I am so glad that we are not living in wartimes. The hardships are unbearable and every survivor of the war time is a hero by every right. The book is remarkable and I all I can say that I loved it!

Ratings 5/5

Confess: Book Review

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Title: Confess

Author: Colleen Hoover

Publication: Atria Books

Length: 306 pages

Plot: Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

Favorite Quote: “There are people you meet that you get to know, and then there are people you meet that you already know.”

I have been reading a lot of Colleen Hoover books recently. I love the way she writes. Most of her books’ protagonists are damaged young adults who meet their love interest and eventually overcome their struggles. “Confess’ is no different.

Auburn, the female lead, has newly moved to Texas with a heavy past. She has lost a lot of things and struggled quite a lot for a 21 year old. She is a hair dresser and looking for a way to earn more money to be able to afford a lawyer. (If I tell you why she wants to hire a lawyer, it will be like revealing a big twist in the story. So I will zip it here. :p) She sees a help wanted sign outside an art gallery and bam, she has her first ever encounter with Owen.

Owen is an artist, whose paintings are inspired from the confessions people leave at his gallery. (I love the part when Owen displays his paintings and the confessions with it.) They instantly connect, but what Auburn doesn’t know is that Owen, remembers her from years back but prefers to not reveal it. Auburn has her own share of secrets that she is keeping from Owen. Inspite of this there is a balance in their love dynamics. The book unveils from both Auburn and Owen’s point of view. This makes the reading even more interesting.

I personally loved Never Never sequel (desperately awaiting the third and the final novel. It is scheduled to release in Jan, yaaaay) and Hopeless a tad bit more than this book. I still don’t get why Owen chose not to reveal the plot twist mentioned at the end to Auburn. Revealing it would not have made a drastic difference in their lives; on the contrary it would have made them believe even more strongly in fate. Haven said that, Confess rightfully deserved to win the ‘Goodreads Choice 2015’ award in the Romance category.

Ratings- 3/5

 

 

Why Not Me?:Book Review

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Title: Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Published by: Crown Archetype

Length: 240 pages

Plot: In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

Favorite Quote: “People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster chambermaid on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work. I work a lot. Like, a lot a lot … Hard work is such a weird thing. As children and teenagers you are told it’s a really good thing, but for adults it suddenly becomes the worst thing in the world. We do a thing in America, which is to label people ‘workaholics’ and tell them that work is ruining their lives … The truth is, I have never, ever, ever met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.’ We can’t have it both ways, and children should know that. Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.”

After the success of the first book ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me’, ‘Why Not Me?” is the second book by the celebrity writer Mindy Kaling. Why Not Me is 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards for the Humor category. I haven’t read the first book yet but after reading the second book, I will surely read the first one.

The book is memoir of various essays written by Mindy Kaling. She has written about her school, career pressure, appearance, family & friends, one entire chapter is dedicated to her daily schedule. The book is a quick read with a lot of laugh out loud comments. Most of the women will relate to quite a few things Mindy has to say, especially about food. 😉 She has mentioned a lot of the incidence from her previous show ‘The office’ & here journey at bagging ‘The Mindy Project’. The voice in the book sounds so familiar. I wish I had opted for an audio book.

The book is humorous, witty, with lots of relatable moments. Mindy has been brave enough to let out her insecurities and when you read them you feel like you are not the only one to have such thoughts. It is kind of provides an insight to what most of the girls think.

Ratings: 2.5/5