Book Review & Giveaway: Ghost Owl

Title: Ghost Owl

Author: Nancy Schoellkopf

Pages: 187

Plot: Ghost Owl is a magical story of discovery, as a young woman seeks to understand her potential and confront her own shadow. Mariah Easter wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the world is as bright as noon—but for her eyes only. Urged by her godfather, she embarks on a mission to peer into the dark spaces normally hidden from view, leading her to confront the sinister nature of power, the vulnerability of the ill, and the hidden life of a homeless man: a journey that will bring healing to herself and the man she loves.

This compelling and inspirational tale, the third installment of the Avian Series, invites the reader to ponder the extraordinary treasures hidden in the ordinary events of daily life.

Thoughts: Ghost Owl is a third installment in the Avian series, but it can be read as a standalone book too. I haven’t read the first two parts and I read Ghost Owl directly. It is not absolutely necessary to read the first two parts but I would recommend reading it for better understanding of the magical concepts and the characters’ relationships.

The book starts of with our protagonist, Mariah having a strange recurring dream. She realizes that it is just not a dream but much more. She starts to see things as bright as noon even at night. Mariah consults her God father and decides to explore the possibilities.  She has different adventures night after night and decides to keep a journal about her experiences.

One day Mariah suddenly goes missing. Everyone is worried for her in the meanwhile Rafa, her roommate discovers her journal and carefully reads it just to find out where she could be. He and Mariah’s half brother, Dale visit places mentioned in Mariah’s journal with a hope of finding her.

The book is divided in twenty seven chapters. Most of the chapters are journal entries from Mariah and from Mariah’s perspective which are narrated from the first person POV. The remaining chapters are from the third person POV of the other characters. The flow of the book is easygoing and the edit seems crisp.

I found the dynamics of the relationship that Mariah and Rafa shared to be complex for my understanding. Since I haven’t read the first two books, it took me a while to latch on to the concept of Ghost Owl and its powers. But soon I understood the concept and started to enjoy my read. What I enjoyed were the parts with magical revelations and the idea of alternate dimensions which exposed the diverse possibilities.  It sort of created a metaphor for the readers to think of altering their lifestyles and decisions to lead a life that they actually wish for.

Meet the Author: Nancy Schoellkopf is the author of the Avian Series of novels including Yellow-Billed Magpie and Red-Tailed Hawk, as well as the short story collection Rover and Other Magical Tales. She has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying that she’s needed a second income, so this time around she happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cats, her garden and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

Ratings: 3/5

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

 
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Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger

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Title:  The Rose and the Dagger

Author:  Renne Ahdieh

Page: 416 pages

Plot: The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Favourite Quote: “It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”

Thoughts:   This is the second and final part in ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ Series. You can checkout my review for part one here. As you know I loved the part one and was eager to read the final book. I am so glad that book two didn’t disappoint me.

This book picks up right where the book one concluded.  After the stormy night in Rey, the city is a shattered. Shazi leaves Khalid and goes to live with her family and Tariq in the camps. Khalid and Shazi are separated with a longing to be reunited. After Shazi comes to know the curse bestowed upon Khalid and the kingdom of Khorasan, she is determined to set both the king and kingdom free from its spell.

She soon discovers that she is more powerful than she thought. She has innate magical skills which she needs to master. Jointly they find a way to dissolve the spell, save the kingdom and be together. Their path is filled with thorns. But as the book mentions, the best essence of the rose is the thorn.

The book is filled with a lot of twists and turns that are jaw dropping. The writing like the previous book is majestic. My favorite character is Shazi and I continue to remain a fan of her wit and courage in this book too. Sharzad is fiercer than before as our heroine. In the first book her heart was torn between revenge for her friend and love for Khalid. In this book she was determined and surely knew her heart’s desire. Khalid’s character changed from an evil being, a perceived emotionless husband to a protective, loving one. Their relationship moved from young love torn between love and hate to a matured, secured one. The other characters are also well constructed. This book has more magic, love, betrayals and action scenes compared to the previous one. The plot that was erected in book one was beautifully taken forward in book two. The plot is evocative and I was absorbed in the book from the start till the end.

Over all the book is beautifully written, with well constructed characters and an exciting plot which keeps you gripped throughout.

Rating: 4/5

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Book Review: The Art of Hiding

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Title: The Art of Hiding

Author:  Amanda Prowse

Page: 290 pages

Plot: What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Thoughts:  Nina McCarrick our lead is a housewife in her mid thirties living in a posh estate in England. She leads a luxurious life with her husband and two sons. One day her husband is meets with a car accident and dies. She finds herself in turmoil when she finds out that her husband hadn’t told her that they are nose deep in debt. She loses everything, their business, property, wealth and even her house. All she is left with is her two children to take care of. She has no money, no skills to carry on her life and yet she is determined to make it. Once again she finds herself in the modest house she spent her time as a child.

We follow the story from Nina’s perspective with a third person’s point of view. The story mostly revolves around Nina’s struggle to find her feet and nurture her boys after her husband dies. Her journey of transformation from a domesticated house wife to a strong independent woman is what makes this book thought provoking inspite of a common plot. What I didn’t like about this book are the parts where Nina’s relationship with other apart from her family did seem superficial.

I read a kindle copy of the book. The book is divided in 15 chapters. The language is quite simple and easy to understand. Over all the book has a common plot but Nina and her boys journey of starting from a scratch after losing everything is quite heart-warming.

Rating: 4/5

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

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Book Review: Soulmate: A Novel of Eternal Love

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Title:  Soulmate: A Novel of Eternal Love

Author:  Deepak Chopra

Page: 290 pages

Plot: One of the world’s foremost leaders in the field of mind-body medicine turns his talents and vision to fiction with an absorbing, mystical tale of a love that conquers death itself…

Gifted young doctor Raj Rabban is about to have his whole world turned upside down-when a chance encounter on a subway introduces him to the kind of happiness he never thought possible.

But life with his true soulmate is cut short by tragedy, and Raj must undertake a courageous journey beyond the scope of his five senses to regain it.

Favourite Quote: “Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment, are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events, and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.”

Thoughts:   I have enjoy watching speeches and video by Deepak Chopra and also reading non-fiction books by him. I quite like his philosophy and ideologies about mind, body and spirit. I was totally unaware that the author also wrote fiction until I came across this book at a library. I was immediately intrigued by the title and the author and had to pick it up.

In the book we follow Dr Raj Rabban who treats mentally ill patients. He is engaged to a self confident woman Maya and is soon going to marry her. One day Raj meets a gorgeous theatre artist, Molly on a train ride and is immediately drawn towards her. They end up spending a lot of time together to the extent that he starts cheating on Maya with her. He does feel guilty about it and comes clean to Maya eventually. Soon Maya and Raj call it an off. An unfortunate accident takes place and Molly is no more. But Raj can still see her, feel her and talk to her. She guides him, because she lives within him, as a soulmate.

I quite believe in the concept of souls travelling and evolving together over lifetimes. When I picked this book up I thought some new avenues will open up in this area and I will learn something more.  Sadly, I was met with disappointment.

Firstly the plot took a lot of time to build up. The way the story unveiled was quite slow and dialogues rather awkward. I honestly didn’t connect with any of the characters. Their portrayed personalities and the way they acted were quite off. Maybe the author wanted to point out that one breaks free on encountering one’s soul mate, but it didn’t come across convincingly.

I understand that the author wanted to convey a love that is beyond the worldly measures that is why Raj seeing Molly while was engaged to Maya was narrated so lightly but it didn’t sit well with me. Also, Maya inspite of being portrayed as a strong woman forgave Raj so easily and accepted him.  I didn’t like the unfaithfulness and dishonestly being justified by the author.

What I liked about the book were a few philosophies which were very thoughtful and it made me think. Book highlights for me were the parts where Raj started treating his patients with Molly’s help and his spiritual evolution, using unusual techniques.

The takeaway from the book was quite less compared to the efforts one has to take to read the entire book. By the end of the book I was left with confusing feelings about the book. I was trying to like it because of my fondness for the other but I simply couldn’t. Overall the book didn’t meet what was expected out of it. I would prefer to stick with reading the non-fiction books by this author.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

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Title:  The Wrath and the Dawn

Author:  Renne Ahdieh

Page: 395 pages

Plot: One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Favourite Quote: “Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

Thoughts:   There was so much hype created around this series that I had to read it. This is a fantasy fiction based in the kingdom of Khorasan. The Caliph of Khorasan, an eighteen year old king is considered a monster. He takes in a new bride every night and has her executed the next morning. Sharzad our female lead has lost her dear friend to this inhumanity and decides to take revenge for her death. Sharzad volunteers to be the next Calipha of Khorasan. The night after they are married, Sharzad narrates an enticing story to the Caliph and decides to reveal the end only on the next night. This is how she manages to survive night after night.

But nothing is what it seems like to Sharzad. She decides to get to the bottom of the truth of why the women are being murdered at dawn. The relationship between Khalid and Shazi builds, from hatred to empathy to love. Their love story is weaved by creating beautiful situations,with beautiful words. There were few phrases where reading once was just not enough.

Apart from the main leads I loved Despina’s character. She is Shazi’s hand maiden and so witty and quick. The other important character was of Tariq, an old friend/lover of Shrazad is determined to kill the Caliph and set Sharzad free. But the question was if Shrazad really wanted to be set free?

The plot reminded me of the Arabian nights. But there is much more to it. More than the plot I loved the way the story unfolded. The writing is what I liked the most about the book. Some people might be of an opinion that it was too flowery and over written but for me the writing is what made this book beautiful. I loved Sharzad’s character. She is so self empowered, determined and fearless. When her heart and mind were conflicted about Khalid, I struggled too. I was basically transported to Khoransan every time I was reading the book. Towards the end there is a little magic that comes into picture. Hopefully we will see more of it in the next book.

I am almost done with ‘The Rose and the Dagger’. Will be reviewing it soon.

Rating: 4/5

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Unboxing- ‘The Hitlist’ Fab Bag Nov’17

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Hi Wanderers, I received my Fab Bag on the very first day of the month. For the women who are confident, fierce & unapologetically themselves, the ‘Hit List’ Nov’17 Fab Bag has Makeup & Beauty products to match up to your energy.

I received a ‘Hologram’ bag which is trending currently. I loved the bag. This is one of the best bags I have ever received from Fab Bag. The bag contained 5 products. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

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  • The Nature’s Co Jasmine Sugar Body Scrub (Rs.425/- for 50g): This sugar body scrub is enriched with jasmine oil and is suitable for all skin types. It removes the dead skin and sooths the irritated skin. It claims to help get rid of tan and stretch marks. Since it is an oil based scrub, the product is not supposed to be used on wet skin. It will show better effects when used on a dry skin. The fragrance lingers on the skin for a while. This is a travel sized product.

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  • Kronokare Bash the Gloss Moisturizing Face Cream (Rs.292/- for 15g)- I received a sample size of the Kronokare face cream. The size and the packaging are perfect for the winter travels. The cream feels light on the skin. The best part about Kronokare products is that it is natural and sulphate free.

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  • Bella Voste Ulti-Matte Chubby Stick – Full size (Rs.499/)– The shade for this product was up for choice. I went ahead and booked the shade 01 Rose Crush shade since I was looking at a new shade to wear for daily use. It gives a creamy texture on application. The lipstick lasts for about 4 to 5 hours. The lipstick is infused with Vitamin C & E making the lips smooth and velvety.  This is my favorite and the only full sized product in the Nov Fab bag.

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  • Fadlor Naturalich Exotic Herbal Infusion Shampoo (Rs.100/- for 30ml)- This is again a sample size product  in the bag. The herbal infusions in the shampoo make it more exotic. I yet have to try this product

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  • Aroma Treasures Aloe Vera Gel (Rs.64/- for 30ml)-  This aloe vera  gel can be used as a moisturizer. It also works well on acne prone skin. The glow after applying any aloe vera based face product is quite evident. I tend to use more of aloe vera based products in winter and I am so glad that this was a part of my fab bag. I wished that a full size of the product would have been included in the bag.

In all this bag contained five products out of which 1 was full sized and 4 were sample/travel sized products. The total value of this bag is Rs 1378/-. You can buy it here.

 

 

Book Review: The Sialkot Saga

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Title: The Sialkot Saga

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

Page: 588 pages

Plot: ‘When it’s a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.’

The trajectories of Arvind and Arbaaz, both ‘businessmen’ of a kind whose lives are unwillingly intertwined, ricochet off one another while they play out their sinister and murderous plots of personal and professional one-upmanship, all the while breaking every rule in the book.

Both are unaware that what they seek and fight over is the very obstacle in realising an ancient secret that dates back to a time long forgotten.

And yet, at the heart of it all, there lies tenderness… and pathos… and blood… and rare moments of an almost exalted happiness. So, can it be that a man is both sinner and saint, victor and victim, black and white?

Ashwin Sanghi, master storyteller and spinner of yarns, weaves together threads of the past and present, fact and fiction, history and mythology, business and politics, love and hatred while dangling you ceaselessly over the cliff with this chilling multi-layered narrative, keeping you guessing till a totally unguessable end.

And you’re left wondering whether it’s a matter of faith… or fate?

Favourite Quote: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you,”

Thoughts:  I have wanted to read this book since its release and finally I did. I am a big fan of Ashwin Sangi’s books. Inspite of his books being fictional, his research is through. I admire his style of seamlessly blending fiction with history.

Like all his books, this one too is based in different eras. The historic era mentioned in the book starts from Ashoka’s empire, proceeding to the other kings and their kingdoms. The second era starts from the times of the India-Pakistan partition and progresses across the lives of our two lead protagonists, Arvind and Arbaaz, between the year1947 to 2010.

The plot revolves around overly ambitious and power hungry Arving and Arbaaz. Arvind is brought up in a Marwari business family in Calcutta. He has a knack of business since a young age. He rises with his risky and instinctive buying and selling businesses and becomes one of the most renowned businessmen in the country. On the other hand Arbaaz has seen struggle since childhood, being from a under privileged family. He joins the underworld under the guidance of Abdul dada and a few friends and finds his way up to the pinnacle. Both their personal and professional lives are intertwined.

Majority of the book is focused on the lives of these two characters who carve their different paths to make their mark on the world. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, some unbelievable coincidence (a little more than one can fathom) the one mentioned in the epilogue being the most coincidental.  The characters are very well developed. Each character’s actions were justified and were in sync with the events. The partition period was narrated descriptively giving a proper understanding of the flow of events. But in my opinion the historic era lacks it’s due and it could have been elaborated a little more. The writing and the story line as usual was very captivating. The book is almost 600 pages but I did not mind it at all.

Over all, the book is a historical fiction with a quest to uncover a secret, towards the end.

Rating: 4/5

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