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Posts from — September 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: The Magic of Friendship by Subhash Kommuru

*** Please Scroll Down For Giveaway ***


 
Title: The Magic of Friendship
Author: Subhash Kommuru
Paperback: 42 pages
Publisher: Kommuru Books (August 25th 2014)
Genre: Childrens Books
Read: eBook
Stars: *****/5
Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US

 
 

Summary: (Goodreads)

A flock of migrating geese stumble upon Tadoba, the land of the fierce tiger Babbar who does not tolerate anyone in his area. Will Babbar show any mercy? Can he change? Will the geese make it to safety?

This is a story about change — a transformation that comes with the magic of friendship. Personality may not change, but nature can surely change. This story will shows the value of friendship and how that can change a person, particularly one who is lonely and never really had the gift of laughter.

 

My Review:

Note: Thanks Subhash Kommuru for offering me your book to read and review :)

Cover: Simple and colourful.

Paper and font: Large and easy.

Readability, language: Simple language.

Why did I choose this book: I have read, enjoyed and reviewed another Children’s book by Subhash Kommuru – Chatur and hence was interested in ‘The Magic of Friendship’.

I don’t usually review Children’s Books and I’m most probably not the best judge of them since I don’t have children of my own. However, though it’s been years since I’ve been a child, children’s books still transport me to my childhood. It is from this forever child that the review comes. :)

The Magic of Friendship is the story of two friends who find each other and in doing so find happiness. The tale shows how the most unlikely of people can become the best of friends, how friendship is not limited by type, gender, caste or creed.

The title ‘The Magic of Friendship’ is an appropriate title for the story. The cover is colourful and the imagery goes with the title.

The plot is a simple one about the bridge of friendship and yet it has a lot of depth and learnings to take away. There are multiple morals to the story but the message is put across gently and subtly, so as to get the child to think and reflect.

The tale unfolds in Tadoba, a forest in India which has some tiger presence but beyond being a name to a place, the setting does not add to the story in any way. That leaves the story as something that can happen universally and not only in the ‘Magic Forest’ or maybe children today don’t believe in Magic Forests anymore.

Kommuru has chosen his main characters well. The friendship of a tiger and donkey is so unreal that you want to believe in it. It also makes for an excellent example of opposites can attract and be friends. The author has sketched out and introduced the characters well so they feel familiar and real.

The story is narrated well with simple language and a constant pace. The story also has a lot of sounds build in to make it a good bedtime story. The illustrations of Arul Anugragh Ross, add to the story and give it a vibrance that I think will interest children.

If you have kids aged 10 and below, I would recommend ‘The Magic of Friendship’, especially if your read them bedtime stories.

About the Author:

Though originally from India, Subhash currently resides in the US with this wife, Sujata and their two sons. Website – Kommuru Books.

Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US

 

Q & A with Subhash Kommuru


Q. Where did your inspiration for The Magic of Friendship come from?

Subhash: Freya Ji, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to connect with your avid readers and subscribers. Also thanks for giving “The Magic of Friendship” a chance and reviewing this story. The Magic of Friendship is a very special story while the title says it all, the story actually hits on quite a few other aspects of kids life like sharing, caring for others, relationship and most importantly it hits on topic of bullying. While bullying is a complex subject to address “The Magic of friendship” successfully covers one angle of that very complex aspect. In fact outlets like Pacific Book Review and Midwest Book Review spoke very highly of this two topic of Friendship and Bully were smoothly handled in this book.

When you read the story in whole you will find simplicity, fun and entertainment but as the story resonates in kids mind they start to demonstrate different levels of understanding and engage with the story.

I am a father first so I write all the stories for my son and then package it up to cater to all the kids. So all my stories are inspired by him.

Q. Why did you chose to pair the tiger with a donkey? Why not another animal?

Subhash: We read or see movies where certain animals go unnatural and do something different. For instance a snail faster than a racing car, a turtle riding a bicycle. I myself don’t understand why do stories have to limit themselves and make a character do something it’s not designed to do. When you look in the wild, there are different animals that exhibit different strengths. The Magic of friendship incorporates a tiger and a donkey and use them for their strengths rather than create a mouse which roars and rules over the forest or a shark that is scared of everything. Don’t get me wrong thought, I am all for imagination and fascination.

And by using donkey and tiger to their strengths and bringing them together there is an unusual pair that is created. In fact the Hindi edition of “The Magic of friendship” is under the title “Anokhi Dosti”.

Q. Does your choice of animals and names have a reason or story behind it?

Subhash: This is an interesting take to the question just before this, opens up a writers mind to present a different angle, so thank you for putting it so eloquently. In addition to using animals to their strengths, Tigers cause needs attention very badly. There are quite a few initiatives to work on their numbers. The lead character in my story “Babbar” is portayed as lonely and angry, I think those are two emotions that go hand in hand with their current state as well.

A donkey as an animal, in our culture is taken for granted, so in my story “Hasmukh”, the Donkey builds on that casual nature and then makes that character strong and exhibits its strengths which goes from being laughed at, to entertaining.

While those are two main characters in the story, every name in the story has real meaning to them like the younger of the geese is named “Chotu”, which in Hindi means the young one. So while you enjoy the story itself the characters with their names will bring sense of satisfaction.

Q. Why did you chose the forest of Tadoba for your setting?

Subhash: Tadoba is one of the most dense forest and is a real tiger reserve. In fact it’s part of India’s “Project tiger” which works towards conservation of tiger and its mission is to protect tigers from extinction. I grew up in Chandrapur which is home to Tadoba forest.

Q. You have written more than one book, where do your stories come from?

Subhash: One of the things that I as a father always dreaded was reading some meaningless stories to my son over and over again. That mostly happens when you read books which are just for kids and also those books sell them short. The Magic of friendship is catered with grown-ups in mind and also to challenge kids engagement and imagination. Only a parent can create such stories. You see we always talk about taking time out from our busy lives for kids. Most of us successfully do that, our attention and focus is always family. I feel that with changing times and hectic schedules we make extra effort to achieve this very goal and I don’t beleive that anyone dreads this, because at the end of the day family brings happiness. If you constantly do that then there is a story in you that can be told to kids. Trust me the best story for a kid is the one that you tell them. Does not matter Panchatantra, Jakata tales, British literature or also any of our titles, they just need your involvement.

Our books will certainly give you lots of room where you can fill gaps and encourage participation. Like letting out a tiger’s roar, making donkey sounds, act out funny scenes. And if that’s not enough these books like will also encourage you to talk to kids about festivals, celebrations and family values while reading our stories.

If parents take it upon themselves and not just trust TV/Movies, then we can deliver clean and meaningful content and drive out some of the shameful contents from the market, where they influence our kids with slangs and foul words to make them look cool and catchy.

While you engage with your kids, nephews, nieces, grand kids, students or anyone please do read books to them and I wish that you decide to present “The Magic of friendship”. Remember while they need to be smart in Math, Science, History and everything out there, but the most important thing for them is to be happy and that can be done with stories.

 

Giveaway:

 
This giveaway is open to all. To participate please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. There are three options and each option will get you one entry into the draw. The Twitter and Facebook options can be done everyday to increase chances of winning. :)

The winner will receive a Kindle copy of the book from Subhash Kommuru. (Only a Kindle copy can be provided, you can use the Amazon Kindle Cloud reader if you do not have a Kindle.)

Note: If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber the book is available to read in the program.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All The Best for…

 

September 29, 2015   4 Comments

The 500th Milestone Giveaway

*** Scroll down for Giveaway***

This is my 500th blog post, so the WordPress dashboard tells me.

Milestones are made a big deal of, they are looked forward to, they are celebrated, they make you swell with pride, filled with the joy of achievement. But milestones are just stones that get all their meaning from little squiggles on them. It is these squiggles that are the true milestones. And one can squiggle anything.

I have travelled many kilometres and many roads across this country and as a traveller I know well the joys and the sorrows of milestones. Some have found me wringing my hands and others doing a tizzy tango. Each milestone is special, is remembered, no matter it’s size and largesse.

I started blogging in 2004. (Don’t believe me, check out my first ever blog post – Mulangiri 22-23 May 2004.) Last May made that 10 years of blogging, I had big plans, I wanted a celebration, you know the works. But life had plans too and… you know the rest.

Then, Tuesday night the number 499 popped out at me from the WordPress dashboard. And I was like, ‘wow’. That may be a small number to most seasoned bloggers but it was big to me. I had actually written 499 pieces of text!, so what if that took me 10 years. 😀

So, (my favourite filler), I’d like to celebrate and share the happiness and sense of achievement I feel right now. I figured a very special giveaway is due. So ;), here’s the deal – 5 winners win something I have made. It will be fun for me to make each winner something special (plus I haven’t been doing craft in a while, and this will be a perfect push).

Giveaway

To participate in this giveaway, all you have to do is choose one item from the below list of 5 and tell me in comments. Next Friday I will pick 5 random winners using Random.org. :)

Winners will have to be a little patient though as I will have to make each individual prize.
The Giveaway is open to all, however if you live outside India, it will take me longer to figure out how to get your prize to you.

Large Snowflake (colours will be personalised)

 

Snowflake (colours will be personalised)

 

Candy Stick

 

Japanese Filigree Fan

 

Santa, The Santa Claus

 

Snowy, The Snowman

 

Striped Earrings (colours will be personalised)

 

Flower Earrings (colours will be personalised)

 

Chequered Earrings (personalised colours)

 

Bonus Giveaway

One of the 5 random winners will also win a personalised bottle. {Sorry, don’t have pics of the finished bottle, but imagine this being prettier with faery lights. 😉 }

***Please note, except for the bottle, all the others are between 2 and 5 inches in width and height.

I’m excited to see what you will chose. Each of these pieces was a labour of love {cliched I know 😀 } and I’m looking making them again. It’ll be such fun.

All the best. Don’t forget to tell me what you want in comments. :)

Winners Update:

 
Congrats Manidipa, Harishri, Sindhoor, Sindhu, Ashwini on winning in the giveaway. Congrats Sindhoor on winning the bonus prize. :)

September 24, 2015   22 Comments

Book Review: The Seven Steps to Closure by Donna Joy Usher


Title: The Seven Steps to Closure
Author: Donna Joy Usher
Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: Lush Publications(May 12th 2012)
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit, Romance, Contemporary
Read: eBook
Stars: ***/5
Buy On: Amazon.in

 

Summary: (Goodreads)

Tara Babcock awakes the morning after her 30th birthday with a hangover that could kill an elephant – and the knowledge she is still no closer to achieving closure on her marriage breakup. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers that, not only is her ex-husband engaged to her cousin – Tash, the woman he left her for – but that Jake is also running for Lord Mayor of Sydney.

Desperate to leave the destructive relationship behind and with nothing to lose, she decides- with encouragement from her three best friends – to follow the dubious advice from a magazine article, Closure in Seven Easy Steps.

The Seven Steps to Closure follows Tara on her sometimes disastrous- always hilarious – path to achieve the seemingly impossible.
 

My Review:

Note: Yay! This is the first book I’ve borrowed through the Kindle Unlimited program. :)

Cover: Cutesy!

Paper and font: Easy on the eyes…

Readability, language: Simple and easy…

Why did I choose this book: The cover and the blurb caught my attention while I was hunting for a light and easy read.

Tara who has been dumped by her husband was taking the dump real hard. After months of mopping her friends jump in to save her with an article from Cosmo – Closure in Seven Easy Steps. And there starts Tara’s journey to attain closure and find herself.

The Seven Steps to Closure is an appropriate title for the tale that follows with a sweet cover that also seems to fit in. However after I finished reading the book I didn’t feel the same way about the cover. The blurb is engaging and got me interested in the book.

The plot isn’t new, it’s similar to other closure stories like P.S. I Love You and such. But it feels different. Tara’s troubles are clear right from the start and the book revolves around her as she works out a way to get over her ex-husband.

Set in present day Sydney and India, the Sydney bits felt real but I can’t really tell since I’ve never been there. The India bits though real were very touristy – the image most foreign tourists paint of India – romantic, thieving, lecherous… That said the image fit in perfectly with the character of Tara. Usher includes Mumbai with it’s 26/11 attack before she moves to Rajasthan with Udaipur being the heart of the action.

The story revolves around Tara but her family and friends are an integral part of the story. There’s Lily Tara’s sister who is delivering her sixth (yes you read me right) baby, her mother Beth who is constantly rescuing and rehoming deranged animals, Nat who falls in love with the office cleaner, Elaine who carries her dog in her purse everywhere she goes, and Dinah who finally find herself to find out she is lesbian. The package of characters make for a good read.

It took me a while to warm up to the story; I read over 30% before I started to feel the interest. But after that I enjoyed it. There were no loose ends and unneeded subplots. It’s a rather straight forward story that gains momentum as it nears the climax. The climax though left me wanting action, it felt too decent (for want of a better word). It would have been nice to have a few punches thrown in. The end though is a sweet surprise and a nice twist to the happily-ever-after ending.

The Seven Steps to Closure is written is first person, which is the reason I think it took quite a while for me to associate the word Tara with the narrator. The language is simple and easy, it makes for fast reading but the pace of the book is slow at the start and starts to pick up only towards mid-point in the book. The book attempts to be humorous but I found very few instances when I laughed.

I enjoyed The Seven Steps to Closure. There were a couple of times in the beginning when I almost gave up, but I am glad read to the end. Usher’s writing has promise and I look forward to her other books. A good read if you can stick it through the first half.
This book has sex in it so – above 16-18 only.
 
Buy On: Amazon.in

About the Author:

 

Donna Joy Usher is a dentist who writes to ‘escape the seriousness of my day job’. She lives in Australia with her husband and two miniature schnauzers, Chloe and Xena. Apart from writing she loves to paddle board, walk on the beach and sip chai lattes at the local cafe. She blogs at donnajoyusher.com.
 

September 22, 2015   No Comments

Some Global Literacy Facts from Grammarly

I just had to do this… You know me, I’m a sucker for such things… 😛

The guys over at Grammarly have promised to donate $10 to a literacy-promoting charity of my choice as a part of their Grammarly’s Literacy campaign dedicated to International Literacy Day. All I have to do to make that happen is share the below infographic… So I just got to do this… Here goes…

Literacy Day

I’d like my $10 to be donated to ProLiteracy, as they are the only ones of the three doing work outside the U.S. too. :)

Infographic credit: Grammarly

September 17, 2015   No Comments

Giveaway and Interview: Ezebee.com – A Free Online Selling Platform for Artisans and Small Business

I’ve been doing giveaways for the last two weeks now, but this one’s different and that has me all excited. I hope you like it too. :)
***Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!!***


A few days back I heard of Ezebee.com for the first time. Curious cutlet that I am I headed straight to it and was left a little overwhelmed with the options. After a little lurking around, I realised it was a site that helps artisans sell their creations for people like you and me to buy. It’s a new online marketplace that is launching in India.

But there are other sites like that already, there’s ItsHandMade.com, CraftsVilla.com, and Afday.com that operate in India, so what makes ezebee.com different? Here’s Alice from ezebee.com answering that question and others.

[The ezebee.com guys are also giving away EZB’s worth $25 each to 5 lucky people. Check out the giveaway at the end to participate.] :)

Q. Hi Alice. Let’s start out with a little bit about ezebee.com.

Alice: Ezebee.com is an online platform where anyone in the world can sell anything they like, for free! It’s really easy to sign up, create a shop and start selling on ezbeee.com. We are not just your online shop, but also a social network where you can meet like­-minded people and connect with local and international vendors.

Q. How and when did ezebee.com first get started?

Alice: The idea behind ezebee.com was created in the summer of 2012, when friends, Ossian and Frank, discovered that there are many small businesses really struggling in the economic crises and the only way to keep these companies going, is to go online. It can be a lot of hassle to design, market and run your own website, especially with little time and money, so that’s where ezebee.com was formed! Ezebee.com is a place where small business owners can sell, network, blog, create events and keep their social media all in once place.
It was in February 2013 that ezebee.com was launched.

Q. Where is ezebee.com based out of?

Alice: The main office of ezebee.com is located on the sunny Mediterranean island Mallorca, in Spain. All our staff are very busy, but it is always nice to have good weather outside to enjoy after a hard days work! However the platform is of course, international!

Q. Which countries does ezebee.com work in?

Alice: We have showrooms in over 140 countries and counting, and the site functions in 9 different languages!
Our main markets at the moment are India, Germany and Spain.

Q. Why did you choose India for ezebee.com?

Alice: ezebee.com began in Europe but as we began to grow more and more, we decided to head outside of the continent. India is a country full of talented artisans and many of them struggle with setting up their company or doing things online. As ezebee.com is completely free of charge, we wanted to open into a market which could really see the benefits.

Q. Are there any special requirements for selling on ezebee.com?

Alice: You can really sell anything on the platform, as long as it’s legal! We do not think creativity should be restricted so if you are a business or individual who wants to share their products or services, you can, with us!
It’s easy! You can sign up in just a few minutes – or faster if you connect via Facebook or Twitter. Get started now!

Q. Do sellers have to ship their own products or do you provide shipping?

Alice: Shipping is done by the sellers in the best way for their company. They ship the items straight to the buyer in order for shipping to be as easy and fast as possible.

Q. Can users buy products from anywhere in the world?

Alice: Yes, users can buy products from any country as long as the seller is willing to ship internationally, most of them are, but you should check first!

Q. There are many different types of currencies shown. How does a buyer go about buying in his/ her countries currency?

Alice: There are a lot of different currencies on ezebee.com because we want to make it possible for anyone to sell with us. If you want to buy in your own currency, you can make an international transfer online, without a problem. For international transfers, it is probably better to use our internal currency EZBs as these will avoid transaction fees or exchange rates.

Q. What are EZB’s? How can users buy them? How much is one EZB worth?

Alice: EZB’s are the points we have on ezebee.com and can be used to swap and trade within the marketplace. One EZB is equal to about 1$ and translates to each currency accordingly. You can buy EZB’s on the site here ezebee.com/credits. You also earn them for being active on ezebee.com!

Q. How is ezebee.com different from other online e-commerces?

Alice: We are completely free and do not take commissions and there are no fees for opening a showroom with us. We believe that anyone should be able to start their company and sell online, despite where they are in the world or how much money they have.
We also have an internal currency where users can buy and sell products without needing money, this also helps people in countries with weaker economies sell for fair prices.

Q. If ezebee.com does not charge a commission. How does it make money?

Alice: Just like other big online companies such as, Google, Youtube and Facebook, we make money from advertising on our website.

Q. Any tips for people who are thinking about selling on ezebee.com.

Alice: Growing a business is like bringing up a child, you have to care for it and maintain the attention! When you make a presence online, people will notice and it will help to build a trust with the public. Stay active on the platform, be genuine, and talk to people!

The interview answered my many questions about Ezebee.com [Thanks Alice :)]. I hope it helps you decide about using it to buy and sell too.

If you are an artisan or small business, please do try out Ezebee. I’d like to hear how it worked out for you. I’d also like to know which other online marketplaces you use and which ones you like best. (This information is just for my knowledge and interest and is in no way related to Ezebee.com.) 😉

Disclaimer:
I have not received any payments for this post from Ezebee.com or its associates.
But they have offered giveaways, so on to it now. :)
 

Giveaway

 
This giveaway is open to all countries and sponsored by ezebee.com. To participate please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Five winners will be chosen by a random drawing at the end of the giveaway. Each winner will receive 25 EZB’s worth $25 in their account at ezebee.com.

There are three ways to participate and each activity gets you one entry. The Twitter and Facebook activities can be done everyday to earn extra entries until close of contest. :)

Happy Shopping and All The Best! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 15, 2015   13 Comments

Review: Lenskart – The Eye Checkup and Buying Experience

Should you buy spectacles online or offline? How good is the Lenskart eye-checkup? Ophthalmologist or Ophthalmic Technician? Physical store or Lenskart? This review answers these questions. :)

***Please scroll right to the bottom for just the review****

I’d been noticing for sometime that I was struggling with fine print on bottles or small print on hoardings but I didn’t give it much thought since it wasn’t impairing my daily life. Then two weeks back I started getting headaches when I had spent too much time reading or using the computer.

The headaches reminded me of childhood, I’d known these types of headaches through the many years I wore spectacles, before I got corrective surgery. Now they seemed back after almost 15 years. I figured I needed prescription glasses, but was undecided on the method of acquisition.

A post on Facebook about which was better online or offline, didn’t give complete clarity so I decided to try both. I figured I’d get an eye checkup both from the LensKart guys and a reputed ophthalmologist. The idea was to try both and compare. And while I was at it, also compare the physical spectacles buying bit.

 

***(All agents / LensKart Employees names withheld to protect their privacy.)***

Ophthalmologist or Ophthalmic Technician?

 

Lenskart Eye Checkup

I went through the Lenskart tour about eye checkups, was impressed with the detail and so booked an appointment. The fact that they were offering a free checkup helped as it made this a no-risk experience.

The certified refractionist / optometrist (as Lenskart calls them) turned up on the day of our appointment with two big bags. He setup his equipment and started off with the tests.

The first was with an small handheld auto-refractorometer, the second few tests were with a ball point pen to check basic eye health, followed by trial glasses and the ageless alphabet/number chart and finally another machine to check for distance between the eyes.

The tests done he gave me the below card and then offered me frames to try. On asking about qualifications I was told all Lenskart certified refractionists / optometrists are certified Ophthalmic Technicians.

The entire process took about 30 minutes. The Ophthalmic Technician was professional, easy to deal with and didn’t push for a sale. I quite enjoyed the process and the convenience of having it all done at home, except that the measurement the guy made wasn’t accurate.

Ophthalmologist Eye Checkup

A few days later I went to Dr. Vagh, a reputed ophthalmologist. After waiting for a while I was ushered into his room. A quick history chat was followed by my eyes first being checked with (maybe) a slit lamp machine with extra time spent on the current condition of the radial keratotomy I’d got done years earlier.

He then checked my eyes again with a table-top auto-refractorometer and finally with trial glasses and a projected alphabet/number chart. Since I could read the smallest standard small print without an issue, he challenged me with even smaller print.

As it turns out, I now have a reading power, and according to Dr. Vagh, 5 years before it would be expected [but he doesn’t know I’ve read more books then expected 😉 ].

Ophthalmologist It Is!

The choice between Ophthalmologist or Ophthalmic Technician was clear. There was a vast difference between the results of both. The Technician’s results state I only have spherical power but the Ophthalmologist found I have long sight with actual power in both eyes. The ophthalmologists tests and results from the alphabet charts also felt more bang on (you know what I mean). Ophthalmologist it is!
Please always go to a trustworthy ophthalmologist for an eye checkup.

 

Physical store or Lenskart?

Physical Store

I didn’t really experience this part but I have gotten spectacles so many times before in life that I am going to go by that for now. And that experience is neither here nor there. Sometimes it had worked out well and other times it had been hassling.

I did ask for prices at the clinic though and got a ball park figure. Crizal Lens would cost me Rs.2,900 with all their varied protection layers and quality. Frames started at Rs.1000 and on an average a good one would cost anywhere between Rs.1,500-2,000.

Over all the new spectacles from a physical store would set me back by about Rs.4,500. This didn’t include the travel costs to and from the store.

Lenskart

I checked the lens options and details out on LensKart and found it was way cheaper than the physical store, though they don’t offer Crizal lenses. The cost was less than Rs.3,000/- for the frame, Kodak Lenses, Anti-Scratch add-on and a pair of free sun-glasses.

I then ordered through the person who came home for the eye checkup since he would get a commission on the sale. I should have just ordered myself, it might have been easier. (I’d also have got the free pair of sunglasses that disappeared along with the anti-scratch add-on.)

To start off I got more than one email, saying the order hadn’t gone through and I should try paying again on 31st August night. The retry payment link in the email took me to page where the order was not specifically listed. All it gave were details of the frame and the amount to be paid. No details about the lenses or add ons.

Ass that I am, I went ahead and made a payment and then I was not asked for my prescription after payment. All this left me quite confused. I didn’t know what I had ordered and was worried that I’d be sent clear glasses as no prescription was taken.

After making a couple of attempts to call customer support, (only to be told on my second call that it was too late to call), I sent an email to support about my confusion on 31st August at 10:36pm.

The next morning I called the helpline around 12:30pm and asked the agent for my order details. She didn’t list the anti-scratch add-on so I asked her about it. She said it wasn’t there and to add it I would have to cancel and reorder. I asked her to cancel.

She put me on hold and then came back to confirm that I had the anti-scratch add-on on my order and I shouldn’t cancel. I then asked her to email me the order details as a confirmation, which she agreed to do. She also gave me an email ID to send my prescription to. Happy that I had got all I needed, I hung up and emailed the prescription.

A few hours later I received an email confirming receipt of the prescription. The next day on 1st Sept. I got an sms about my order being processed. On 2nd another sms saying the spectacles have been dispatched and on 3rd they arrived.

The email from the call centre exec. though never did arrive and I finally got an email reply from support only on 6th Sept. which I read with my already delivered new spectacles. The support email said “We wish to inform you that you have not added the anti-scratch add on which will cost Rs 200 during the order process.” Great! What was i supposed to do this late in the process?

Lenskart It Is!

Between the physical store and Lenskart, I’d go with Lenskart for ease of use. However I think nothing beats physically trying out a frame, so make sure to either ask for trial lenses or go to a Lenskart store. (I’m glad I had chosen my frame during the eye checkup appointment).

 

Overall Review

 

The Lenskart checkup took longer but was very convenient with time and place of my choice. However in spite of the inconvenience of going to an ophthalmologist, waiting for my turn and all that, it was at the ophthalmologist that I got the correct power prescription for my eyes.

Apart from the goof-ups in the ordering process and ones by customer support, the over all experience was good. I appreciated the vast options available in frames, the comparison chart of the various lenses and the after sale service and delivery.

Things I didn’t appreciate –
1. What is shown on the website should be available (if not it should be removed). I was forced into changing my colour choice due to unavailability after order.
2. The frame and the lens feel very plasticky, but then again that makes it very light.
3. Freebies should not just disappear. 😉
4. The items ordered being listed with more clarity on payment page would help.
5. I’d also like to see more integrity and speed from the customer service peeps.

Overall to answer the question ‘Should you buy spectacles online or offline?’, I’d say a both. Get your eyes tested by a trustworthy ophthalmologist, choose your frame at a Lenskart store and then buy the frame and lenses online on Lenskart. Also make sure to read and re-read your order carefully!

September 10, 2015   2 Comments

Book Review & Giveaway: Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wylde

*** Please Scroll Down For Giveaway ***


Title: Love Muffin and Chai Latte
Author: Anya Wylde
Paperback: 199 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (July 24th 2015)
Genre: Fiction
Read: Paperback
Stars: *****/5
Buy On: Amazon

 

Summary: (Goodreads)

Tabby believes she has found the one in Chris. Chris appears to think the same for he pops the question, and soon Tabby finds herself engaged.

Tabby thinks her biggest problem is picking out the wedding dress and refining the dinner menu. Chris begs to differ. He thinks her biggest problem is convincing his wealthy grandfather that she is perfect for the family or he risks losing a big fat inheritance.

Convincing his grandfather turns out to be more complicated than she anticipates. For one, he wants her to seek the blessings of his spiritual adviser. The trouble is . . . his adviser lives in India.

So, for the sake of love, Tabby journeys into the heart of India and battles monkeys, crooks, Delhi belly and the advisor himself in order to win over Chris’s family.

But while she is trying to make sense of an exotic new world, she begins to wonders why her heart beats madly for a man who is not her fiancé but his very handsome cousin….
 

My Review:

Note: Thanks Anya Wylde for offering me your book to read and review :)

Cover: Quirky & Eye-catchy!

Paper and font: Well formatted.

Readability, language: Easy on the eye and mind.

Why did I choose this book: I love Wylde’s style of writing and find myself constantly waiting for her next book. :)

Tabitha Lee Timmons lands up in India in a rather convoluted fashion, then proceeds into more convolutions typical of a large Indian family and if all that isn’t enough, she finally falls in love with a man, who is many things along with being an Indian Celebrity but is not her fiancé.

The title caught my eye and left me wondering what the book would be all about. The blurb made it all sound ‘definitely worth a read’ but still left the mystery of the title unsolved (you need to finish the book to get the pieces to drop). The cover is different yet similar to Wylde’s previous covers, contemporary, easy and enticing on the eye, simple and colourful.

The story of the foreigner girl coming to India, discovering herself, falling in love with India and a boy must have been told if not countless times, at least a couple of times before, but never this way. Wylde’s sense of humour and writing style make all the difference.

Set in North India, Wylde has done her research well and the set and character are true to life. Being Indian, I was amazed at Wylde’s understanding of India, it’s culture, people, land, customs and more. There is even a Chappalwale Baba in the story! Kudos Ms. Wylde on getting India bang on.

The characters in Love Muffin and Chai Latte are endearing and almost believable. I say almost because I know they are unreal yet some part of me hopes they became real. Tabby is a heart warming mixture of American, British and Indian quirks. Dev is truly the tall dark and handsome hero I have always dreamed of. Maya the quintessential Indian best friend. And Daarji’s family reminded me of my own family, only we don’t have the millions. ;D

I’ve read all on Anya Wylde’s books and know her writing style well, yet Love Muffin and Chai Latte took me by surprise. Her signature sense of humour is still right there just dialled up to our world today. The pace is good and Wylde does not leave any loose ends dangling. She kept me constantly wanted to read more, all the way to the end as she unveiled twists and little surprises along the way.

If you are wondering what to read, think no more and just pick up Love Muffin and Chai Latte. I promise it will not disappoint, that is as long as you have a sense of humour. :)

About the Author:

Anya Wylde lives in Ireland along with her husband and a fat French poodle (now on a diet). She can cook a mean curry, and her idea of exercise is occasionally stretching her toes. She holds a degree in English literature and adores reading and writing. She blogs at anyawylde.blogspot.in.

Buy On: Amazon
 

Q & A with Anya Wylde


Until now you have written Historical Romances. What inspired you to write a contemporary romance?

Anya: I never liked the idea of being boxed into a particular genre. The moment you start putting reins on your imagination, you stop being creative. I write what I feel like and I really wanted to write a contemporary romance novel. It was a risk but I think it helped me grow as an author. I learned a lot.

Love Muffin and Chai Latte surprised me first with Indian characters and then the setting in India. Why did you choose an Indian angle for the book?

Anya: I chose to set the book in India because I wanted Tabby to grow emotionally and spiritually. And India teaches you a lot in a very short time. I don’t know anyone who has been to India and not been affected by the experience in some way. They either can’t handle it or fall in love so madly with the country that they are changed forever.

Your understanding of India and being Indian is so true. How did you go about gleaning this knowledge?

Anya: A part of my life has been spent in India. Although, I admit I never truly felt at home in the country and could see it from an outsider’s perspective. I suppose that’s the reason I wrote the book from Tabby’s point of view rather than Maya’s.

Who was your inspiration behind the characters of Dev, Maya and Daarji?

Anya: I think all of us know a Daaji in our lives. Someone who is desperately fighting his pride in his old age.
As for Dev … I fell in love with my husband because he is the kindest man I know. Dev is kind, so I guess my husband was my inspiration.
Maya was a difficult character to write. She has so many facets that at times I didn’t know who she was or what she was going to do next. I sort of made her up as I went along.

Did you travel through North India to understand the setting of your book? What is your most memorable memory from your time in India?

Anya: I have lived in Delhi and I visited Amritsar briefly some years ago. Other than that I don’t really know Punjab. A few people very kindly helped me with the details.
As for the most memorable moment … I adore Mumbai with its smelly beaches, crazy traffic, gorgeous food and the humblest and the most wonderful people. Every moment that I have spent in Mumbai has been memorable. The city sneaks into your heart like no other place in the world.

 

Giveaway:

 
This giveaway is open to all. To participate please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below.
The winner will receive a e-copy of the book (in a format of your choice) from Anya Wylde.

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September 8, 2015   5 Comments

Kindle Unlimited in India – 7 Things You Should Know Before You Subscribe

The Amazon Kindle Unlimited program is finally here in India, but before you hit that subscribe button here are a few things you should know…

 

What is the Kindle Unlimited program?

Kindle Unlimited works like a library program that offers you options to borrow ebooks. There is no time limit for how long you can keep a book, unlike conventional paper libraries. However the books stays with you only until your subscription is valid.

Amazon is charging Rs.199/month, but for a limited time they are offering a discount – Rs.99 for 1 month, Rs.999 for 6 months and Rs.1,799 for a year’s subscription. They also as of now are NOT offering audio versions of the books.

India is the first country in Asia and the 10th country worldwide that Amazon has launched Unlimited in.

 

Is it truly unlimited? Can I hoard?

The program isn’t unlimited – neither in the number of books you can borrow nor in the number of books on offer. At any point in time you can only keep 10 books. If you want to borrow an 11th book, you will have to release 1 of the 10 books you have before you can get the next book.

Though you can’t hoard, 10 books at one time is still a biggie. That’s a fair number of books to read at the same time. It is important to note that you never own a book, every book taken through the Unlimited program is borrowed and has to be returned at some point.

If you made noted or highlights while reading, these will get stored but will not be accessible after returning the book unless you borrow or buy the book again.

 

How many books can I read per month?

One of the visitors to the site ebookfriendly.com, Patrick Rvs, decided to test the limits. He found that after you go through 1,000 books in a month ‘you get a mysterious “system error” that appears on screen’.

 

What kind of books can I expect?

Currently Amazon is offering a million titles in the Unlimited program, but (and that’s a BIG BUT), most of these are books that have been published by Amazon or it’s imprints. There are other publishers too but most big names in the publishing industry are missing. And there don’t seem to be any bestsellers on the list either.

That said, the selection isn’t all bad. There are some interesting authors and books I came across both in the global and the India sections. There was also a lot on offer in the comics section, with a lot of Amar Chitra Katha’s to read.

 

What devices can be used to read? Do you have to own a kindle?

Books borrowed in the Kindle Unlimited program can be read on all Kindle devices and Kindle Apps. This is one of the best features of the program as you are not limited to any device.

 

What other options do I have in India?

Being an avid reader I’m always on the look-out for ways to get more books. A couple of years ago I had taken up a membership with Just Books clc. They offer an excellent collection of paper books and the price isn’t all that high (way higher than Unlimited though) but the biggest drawback is that there isn’t always a library near you. Here’s a list of their prices –

There are also others like MyOnlineLibrary and EasyLib, who operate in the same price range.

Apart from these physical book libraries, there are no e-book lending libraries currently in India. However there are global e-book lending libraries like Oyster Books – $9.95/month, Scribd – $8.99/month and Bookmate – $8.99 but their price itself is daunting and not all books they offer are available in India.

 

Is it value for money?

In all enthusiasm I tried to subscribe yesterday as soon as I saw the program, but lucky or not, the Amazon system threw up errors and after about 10 tries and 2 customer service calls I gave up. It bought me some time to investigate the program and make a more informed decision.

As a lending/borrowing library, the Unlimited program seems great and is probably the best available for its price right now in India. It’s true it doesn’t have all the books you may want to read, but if you aren’t really looking only for those bestsellers that everyone one is raging about, this program may just work for you.

At Rs.1,799 for the first year, the Kindle Unlimited program is definitely worth giving a try to and I’ve decided to give it a roll.

What do you plan to do? Are you going to join? What is it that puts you off Kindle Unlimited? Where do you source most of your ebooks?

 

Kindle Unlimited – more useful links

Here are a few more useful articles/resources to help you understand Kindle Unlimited before you sign up.

What is Kindle Unlimited and how does it work?

Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription – 9 things to know

Amazon Kindle Unlimited vs. Scribd vs. Oyster

Image Credits: Images have been taken from the Amazon Unlimited section and Just Books website.

September 3, 2015   No Comments

Book Review & Giveaway: There’s Something About You by Yashodhara Lal

*** Please Scroll Down For Giveaway ***


Title: There’s Something About You
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins(July 15th 2015)
Genre: Fiction
Read: Paperback
Stars: ***/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

 

Summary: (Goodreads)

This is not your typical boy-meets-girl story. Okay, they do meet, but there are some complications.

Trish is twenty-eight. She’s unemployed, overweight, single and snarky. She knows all that. And if one more person – just one more person – tries to fix her, she might explode. Sahil is thirty-five. He has superpowers. Well, kind of. He seems to think so, anyway. He’s also hot (okay, in a geeky kind of way, but still). And he plays the guitar, helps the underprivileged and talks about his feelings. Aren’t guys like that supposed to exist only in fantasies?

When Trish and Sahil meet, magic happens. Real magic, you know, like fireworks, electricity, that sort of thing. But here’s the problem. Trish doesn’t want anyone in her life. She has enough to deal with – dependent parents, flaky neighbours, bitchy editors, the works. And yet, Sahil is determined to be in her life.

My Review:

Note: Thanks Indiblogger and Yashodhara Lal for offering me your book to read and review :)

Cover: Bright and Eye-catchy!

Paper and font: Ebony & Ivory…

Readability, language: Easy on the eye and mind.

Why did I choose this book: Since I’ve read Lal’s first book and had enjoyed it, when TSAY came up on IndiBlogger for review, I grabbed for it. :)

Trish is an ordinary, regular, sarcastic, overweight girl who is trying to find herself while trying to make ends meet. She had been living alone for a few years before her parents turned up and she is now unable to readjust to living with them. She is all messed up or so, she thinks. Enter Sahil into this melee, he’s the rich boy who is lost and trying to run away from the family business, the one who wants to do his own thing. The rest of the book is about how it all untangles and unravels.

TSAY’s cover is bright, cheery, colourful and inviting. There is a clear connect between the story and cover. The title is one that would work for any romance but in this case, it is only way past mid-point that I made the connect of the title with the story. The blurb is captivating and does a good job of setting expectations.

TSAY is just another romance but with a little twist that makes it a refreshing read. Lal toes a good line when it comes to balancing romance and all others parts of Trish, the protagonist’s life. Her creation of various sub-plots to cover the various facets of Trish’s life makes the book much more than an out and out romance and more fun to read.

The story is set in present-age Mumbai and Lal’s research and knowledge of the city shows. Most of the story unfolds around the sea, Bandstand in particular. Lal’s description of the smell, sight and sounds of living by the sea feel real and believable. Especially the parts about living near Shah Rukh Khan. 😀

The book revolves around Trish or Trishna as her father calls her. Trish is an everyday girl with her problems of parents, lousy bosses, excess weight, and all that, that I as an everyday girl can empathise with. Sahil her love interest grows on you as the various sides to him are revealed. He turns out to be this lovable kind geek and you can’t help but love. And then there’s Trish’s parents, her neighbours, her co-workers and bosses; they all are well sketched and add masala to the story.

TSAY is structured well and the pace is good too. Starting out with describing who Trish is, Lal goes through the story introducing characters based on need and furthering the story, holding a good pace. The subplots add to the story and don’t derail it, there are also no loose ends except one, which maybe is best left to guessing. The build up to climax is great and the end well drawn out too. My only complain is the family secret which I felt was a bit too much and was an easy route out to explain all Trish’s troubles.

I enjoyed Lal’s style of writing or rather Trish’s style of writing. It was fun to read and I found myself laughing a lot of times at Trish’s sense of humour and sarcasm. Here’s an example –

Notice the numbering on the left? I loved that the page numbers were on the sides of the page in the center so it was easier to keep tabs of the page I was on.

The language of the book is mostly simple with a few rare words I didn’t know. Both the writing style and the language is easy on the mind and makes the book an easy read.

I would have given 4 stars except I felt there was too much drama at the end, and some of it unneeded.

Overall I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it. It’s a good one to choose when you want a light read and you’ll especially enjoy it if you’ve known the struggle of finding the woman in you. Recommended for all ages and genders. 😉

About the Author:


Yashodhara Lal graduated from IIM-Bangalore in 2002 and has over 12 years of experience in Marketing. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband Vijay, and their three small children they call Peanut, Pickle and Papad. She blogs at www.yashodharalal.com.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

 

Giveaway:

 
This giveaway is open only to residents in India. To participate please follow instructions in the Raflecopter widget below.
The winner will receive a Paperback copy of the book by book post. This giveaway is not sponsored by the author.

May the odds be ever in your favour! :)

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Congratulations to Manidipa on winning this giveaway! :)

September 1, 2015   10 Comments