Book Review: The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel

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Title: The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel

Author: Erin Bomboy

Page: 353 pages

Plot: The most prestigious ballroom dance competition in the United States.
Two dancers need to win.
Only one can.
Nina Fortunova wasn’t supposed to end up almost thirty, divorced, with her dreams of winning shattered. She teams up with Jorge Gonzalez, a Latin dancer, to reinvent the flashy Smooth style. When the Chairman of the Judges offers to throw the competition in their favor, Nina must decide how far she will go to win, even if it means losing Jorge.
Carly Martindale is doing everything she’s been taught not to do—placing her happiness first by dancing with Trey Devereux, the former three-time champion who’s returned to competition for mysterious reasons. Carly becomes obsessed with Trey and allows him to control her every move at great risk to her physical and emotional health. How far will she sacrifice herself, so Trey and she can win?

Co-workers, then friends, and now arch competitors, Nina and Carly face off to determine who will be the winner.

Bright, emotive, and told through dual narrators, The Winner examines the costs associated with winning, the internalization of parental ambition, and the effect of gendered roles on and off the dance floor. It’s perfect for readers who will love the old-school elegance of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in a contemporary setting.

Thoughts:  I follow a lot of dance based reality shows on television and often view a lot of live dance performances. Most of the times I am in awe looking at the dancers swirl, like a poetry in motion. But what we see is the output of their hard work, which often goes unnoticed. I always wondered about what goes into becoming a fine dancer and this book offers exactly that.

‘The Winner’ is a tale of prestigious ballroom dance competition based in the United States. We have two protagonists in the book who desperately have to win this competition. It’s more than just getting a medal. But only one will succeed…

We follow two vivid dancers Nina and Carly in the story. Nina is in the final years of dancing at the Nationals. She is advised to retire gracefully by her well wishers and even her husband who happens to be her dance partner. But she knows she has to do this for herself and her mother’s sacrifices to fulfill the “American Dream”. Carly is a girl next door who takes up a summer job at a dance studio. She is in her prime years of dancing and soon realizes her potential and decides to compete with her former partner/lover at the Nationals. And the story begins…

I loved the characterization. Both Nina and Carly are affable and relatable. I could feel their joys and sorrows while reading the book. All the characters in the book are very well carved, well described and are kept real, making it easier for the reader to connect.

The book is a little longer than usual but it doesn’t feel dragged. There is not a single point in the book where I felt bored. I actually enjoyed reading the constant developments in the plot. The narration was captivating and well structured. It had a steady flow to it.

The book does offer a lot of interesting insights about ball room dancing, what goes on in the green room before the performances, what goes into being a fine dance. But apart from this it also explores other dimensions of romance, relationships, sacrifices, family, etc.

This cover is a perfect choice for a book like this. If you are interested in ballroom dancing or not, this book makes a perfect read for an afternoon curled up in bed with a cup of tea.

Ratings: 4/5

Erin Bomboy Head Shot.jpgAbout the Author: A native of Richmond, Virginia, Erin Bomboy trained as a classical ballet dancer before spending a decade as a professional competitive ballroom dancer. She holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter where she works as a writer, editor, and teacher in the dance field. In her free time, Erin enjoys bacon, books, cats, and wine.
She is the author of The Piece: A Contemporary Ballet Novel and The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel. Her next novel, tentatively titled The Pas de Deux: A Classical Ballet Novel, will explore the relationship between a ballerina at the end of her career and the much-younger dancer with whom she falls in love. Taking the shape of a traditional pas de deux, it will premiere in 2018. Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Twitter  

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PS: Thanks to the author and iRead Book Tours for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Unboxing: ‘The Object of Desire’ Fab Bag Sept’17

This month is the 5th anniversary of Fab Bag and I was super excited to receive it. I received my Fab Bag very late this month. When I contacted the team to find out the issue I was informed that they had received a damaged product from one of the brands and hence there was a delay in delivery.

I finally received my bag on 12th of the month and I was appalled to see the condition of the bag I received. When looked at it closely the bag had compact/powder marks all over, loose threads and seemed like it had been used before. I immediately raised my concerns with the team and sent them photos of the bag. They assured me that this had been overlooked by them and it was their mistake. They promised to send me a new bag and I am awaiting the delivery of the same.

The theme for this month was ‘Object of Desire’.  I received 6 products this month in a white pouch. Here is a full look of the bag and its contents.

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Apart from the bag being damaged, I didn’t like the bag. They have definitely sent better bags in the past and being the anniversary bag, I expected more from them.

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  • Iraa Insta Renew Multi Action Under Eye Cream (Full size 20g- Rs.490): I don’t use under eye cream since I don’t have dark circles under my eyes. But I do get puffy eyes in the morning when I don’t get enough sleep. I applied this cream at night before sleeping to see its effects on puffiness. The cream is lightweight on the skin and gets absorbed easily. I did feel a difference in the morning, According to me this was the best product I received this month.

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  • Tvakh Midas Touch Ultra Nourishing Lip TInt- (Full size- Rs.195): This came in a small jar. I don’t prefer any lip product in jars since I have long nails and the application becomes a hassle for me. Every time I try to remove the product to apply on my lips, the product gets stuck in my nails. Anyway the product is light weight with SPF. It offers a shine on application. The shimmer on the top looks really nice.

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  • Tvakh CE- Namom Lip Plumper (Full size- Rs.225): Like I said, I have my concerns with any lip product that comes in a jar. Apart from the hassle in application, I really liked this product. It is 99% natural and contains cinnamon and Aargon oil which helps in plumping up the lips. It feels light on lips after application.

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  • Seer Secrets Smoky Rose Geranium Body Cleanser 30ml (Rs.72):  I received a sample size product from the Seer Secrets. It is my first time trying this brand. Its scent is very floral and it truly refreshing. I am yet to try this product and have kept is aside for my travel kit.

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  • Seasoul Moisture Matt Lipstick Lead Free LIPSTICK -ML09 (WARM BROWN) (Full size-Rs.530): We had the option to choose our shade and I went ahead with warm brown since I wanted something dark yet causal. I liked the product. The application was smooth and it comes with a matt finish. The highlight of this product is that it is lead free. It also has benefits of Vitamin E and it moisturizes the lips.

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  • Sugar Tip Tac Toe Nail Lacquer in Deep Down Diopside (Full Size-Rs.299): Sugar Cosmetics launched a their new range of Tip Tac Toe Metallic Nail Lacquer. It has six shades in the range. I received a Deep Down Diopside which is an metallic emerald green shade. I preferred to have received some other shade. But the nail paint is quite opaque just after one stoke.  I just love all the Sugar Cosmetics products I am receiving.

Over all, this bag was a little disappointing because of two reasons. Firstly I had a bad experience with the bag. Secondly it did not fare well as a 5th anniversary bag.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: 13 Dates

13 Dates

Title: 13 Dates

Author: Matt Dunn

Page: 334 pages

Plot: When Noah Wilson first encounters the quirky, opinionated and very beautiful Angel Fallon, his world is turned upside down. It’s clear she’s not his normal type, but Noah can’t stop thinking about her—which doesn’t bode well for the blind date he’s already late for.

Convinced by his friend (and self-professed dating expert) Marlon that thirteen dates is all you need to fall in love, Noah decides to give it a try with Angel. They should be incompatible: she’s impulsive and he’s a planner; he wants to settle down and she doesn’t ‘do’ relationships—or anything, for that matter—the way Noah is used to. But there’s something about Angel, and Noah can’t shake the idea that all they need is twelve more dates.

Despite some near-disasters involving rock climbing, saddle sores and jellied eels, it seems his plan may actually work. But even if they do reach the magic number, can that really mean they’ll just fall into their happily-ever-after?

Thoughts:  I would like to start the review by explaining the book title. Noah’s friend, Marlon had once read a theory in a Cosmopolitan magazine that it takes 13 dates to know if you really love somebody and are not just infatuated by them. Hence the title.

Noah is the male lead in the book. He showcases artist in his gallery. He is sweet, corny, socially awkward and sometime’s irritating. He is looking for a companion in life and wants to settle down. His friend, Marlon sets him up on a blind date. Noah decides to make a quick stop at Starbuck right before his blind date and bangs into Angel.

Angel, our female lead is a strong, independent, adventurous, unconventional woman who believes in living life one day at a time. Their first encounter scene is really comically narrated. Noah realizes that Angel is the one for him, but Angel has her own baggage. The question is will Noah be able to convince her to overcome her baggage? Will Angel let herself commit to Noah?

The plot is very light hearted, sweet and romantic. The writing in most places is causal and easy going. The punctuations are a little haywire.  I liked the lead characters and their chemistry. The plot will make you believe in love at first sight and in the power of love.  The book does have a very predictable course but there is a feel good factor about reading the book.

I liked that Noah, who otherwise seems to be unsure about things knows the minute he sees, rather hears Angel’s voice that she is the one for him. Inspite of Noah and Angel being poles apart, they find a way to make things work. Plus Mary, Noah’s land lady adds her own flavor to the story.

The book is a light-hearted romantic comedy which can be read in one sitting. It gives you a feel good factor in the end.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and Netgalley for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Mahabhatra Code

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Title: The Mahabharata Code

Author: Karthik K.B. Rao

Page: 191 pages

Plot: “The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here.

As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa’s scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?”

Thoughts:  I have watched the epic of Mahabharata on television as a child and over the years have read multiple retellings of the age old epic from different perspective. But when I read the synopsis for ‘The Mahabharata Code’ the plot was different from what I had read before. It had a sci-fi element added to it and I had to give this one a read.

Narayan Rao is an Indian astronaut working with NASA. He is chosen as one of the crew members to visit a mystery planet. He chooses to go there with his better half, Shrishti. Little did they know that they will play a major role in restaging the great epic of Mahabharata on an alien planet.

I found the plot to be very fascinating with aliens, spaceships and Mahabharata put together. The author’s imagination for bringing these aspects together in a book is worth a mention. The narration has its highs and lows. There are times where the narration dips especially where Narayan and Shristi are having a conversation. What appealed the most to me in the book was the logical explanation given for various events which were otherwise considered “mystical”. I loved the part where Krishna is narrating the Gita to Narayan.

The characterization could have been better. I could understand what all the characters where upto but didn’t really connect with any of them. But what I really liked about the characters is the justification given for their actions.

I would recommend you to pick this book up if you are looking for a varied retelling of Mahabharata.

Ratings: 3/5

PS: Thanks to author and TBC for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Summer of Impossible Things

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Title: The Summer of Impossible Things

Author: Rowan Coleman

Page: 432 pages

Plot: If you could change the past, would you?

Thirty years ago, something terrible happened to Luna’s mother. Something she’s only prepared to reveal after her death.

Now Luna and her sister have a chance to go back to their mother’s birthplace and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn they find more questions than answers, until something impossible – magical – happens to Luna, and she meets her mother as a young woman back in the summer of 1977.

At first Luna’s thinks she’s going crazy, but if she can truly travel back in time, she can change things. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?

Favorite Quote: “Stories are the only things that can ever really change the world. The stories that people believe in are the only ones that matter. Those are the stories that have the power to change everything we think we understand.”

Thoughts:  This book is a sci-fi, time travel fiction about a girl named Luna who is grieving the loss of her mother. She and her sister visit their mother’s birthplace to clear matters only to find themselves in more ambiguity than ever.

After landing in Brooklyn, Luna is magically able to travel through time and encounters her young mother in 1977. The story takes us through Luna’s struggle to firstly understand that she is not a lunatic but is able to travel through time and secondly to undo the course of actions that had taken place in 1977 to change the traumatic future. Will she make sacrifice for love?

The plot is very thought provoking. It makes you think about your past and how acting a little differently could have impacted your future. It is a book that will make you think hard even after finishing it. The writing is fantastic and truly magical. The book is a little long buy worth the read.

If you are a cynic give this book a shot and you might just start thinking differently.

Rating: 4/5

PS: Thanks to author for sending me a copy of the book via Netgalley.

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