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Posts from — March 2016

Horn Ok Please, Long Born Family At Home: This Week in Books

The Summer HeatIt’s not Summer yet and the heat is already blinding!

The last week has been a packed one, loaded with fun, drama and excitement. My brother got married and the whole family turned up. (See the Wedding Pics on Chenthil’s FB Page)

I love it when my family comes together, it makes me so so happy. Che loaned me his Instax Wide and I had such fun taking pictures for a day. (sometimes he’s just chosweet) 😉

Family Collage

With all that’s been happening, I stuck to my running schedule and that made smile all the way though my weekly long run. I’m enjoying running, especially once I get into a stride but have got a nagging pain in my heel to be figured out. :(

We also harvested some potatoes and tapioca this week. :)

Potatoes & Tapioca

I also got two hampers this week. 😀

Burrp Hamper

I got this from the Burrp guys at the food tasting they organised at Horn Ok Please – a desigastro pub. The decor was fascinating and I really liked their posters, milk can seats and tiffin lights.

Bollywood Posters

Tiffins, Lamps and Milk Cans

Desi CocktailsEach of their cocktails has a desi twist and a found a couple quite appealing – do try the Kala Katta and Spice Trade

I also got a hamper from the ITC guys. A collection of four delicacies and two chutneys from their ready to eat Kitchens of India line. We’ve tried out the Yakhni Palao and Awadhi Halla and enjoyed both. Can’t wait to get started with the chutneys.

Kitchens of India Hamper

I haven’t been keeping up with the news in the middle of all this, so, got some catching up this week.

Some #TBR Additions

 

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Longbourn by Jo Baker
(Get Booked #20)

I had found The Help by by Kathryn Stockett fascinating, the story from the perspective of the house-help is an different tale. In Longbourn, Jo Bakers goes belowstairs and tells the Pride & Prejudice story from the view of the maids and footmen. The Help meets Pride & Prejudice, this one, I can’t wait to read…

At Home by Bill Bryson
At Home by Bill Bryson
(Get Booked #20)

I’ve read Bill Bryson’s A Brief History of Nearly Everything and I’m a fan. This one’s about the history of rooms in houses – bedrooms, dining rooms, drawing rooms,… Sounds interesting, nah?

Not many books this week and not much reading either. I’m hoping to fix it in the coming week. How has your reading week been? What are you reading? What have you been up to?

March 28, 2016   No Comments

Book Review: How To Get Your Heart Broken by Rose Fall

How To Get Your Heart Broken by Rose Fall

 
How To Get Your Heart Broken by Rose Fall
Title: How To Get Your Heart Broken
Author: Rose Fall
Paperback: 398 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Platform (March 21st 2016)
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult
Read: eBook
Stars: ★★☆☆☆
Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US

 

Summary:

(Goodreads)

A self-proclaimed cynic, Eli is unsurprised by her boyfriend’s betrayal. Yet, its impact goes beyond what she realizes; a cruel bet, an array of secrets, and a thousand lessons not yet learned teach her how to trust again as an unlikely boy shows her a kind of love she never knew existed.

After Eli finds her boyfriend cheating on her, she seeks an escape. She heads to the beach to spend the summer before college with her two best friends. When Eli is unable to move past the betrayal, the girls devise a distraction; a bet about their handsome neighbor. Yet their thoughtless competition goes too far and their friendships are tested as they began to wonder how much they really know about each other and themselves. In the chaos, they manage to learn the truth about love, self-acceptance, and the journey back from rock bottom.

 

My Review:

Note: Thanks to Rose Fall and YA Bound Book Tours for offering me this book to read and review :)

Cover: Soothing…

Paper and font: Easy on the eyes!

Readability, language: Easy on the mind.

Why did I choose this book: It was the cover that first attracted me, and the premise also seemed promising, so I thought, why not…

Eli who has just broken up with her boyfriend (who she caught cheating) is nursing a broken heart and wants to take revenge on all men out there. Rachel her best friend finds a way to do just that, only it’s one man – their good looking neighbour… Well, the books about that, but its also about 3 best friends, coming of age and finding oneself.

The title ‘How To Get Your Heart Broken’ makes sense but only in a round about manner. The cover is lovely, the mellow colours, the girl with her head on a boys chest, it all makes for a feel good cover, pleasing to the eye. The blurb is promising.

The plot was a new one for me, I never read something like this before. It’s clear quite early in the book that Eli is out to take revenge and break a heart like hers was broken. But, there are sub-plots, twists and surprises as the story goes along, some adding to the story and some adding pages to the story.

The story is set on a beach someplace (I just can’t remember if it was mentioned), the 3 girls are taking summer break before heading off to college and their separate ways. Rose Fall’s descriptions of the houses along the beach and the little beach town have stuck in my mind, the little blue house Eli, Rachel and Ash live in, with Ash’s grandfathers relics, felt so real.

Eli, Rachel and Ash are the main characters and each one’s life is explored as the story rolls along. Each one of them has a troubled past that they have to make peace with before they move on. This to me was the interesting part of the story, more relevant than the broken-heart-revenge bit and I felt Rose Fall did not do justice to the girls and their story.

Jessie the boy who is the target of the revenge, seems like an interesting character but here again Rose Fall falls short as the depth his character would have had is missing.

The story is structured well, I really liked how each chapter has a title that is linked in someway to the story of that chapter. Rose Fall also does not leave any loose ends and ties up the story she is telling well.

For me the story was slow paced (may not be for others), but I think that was because the story didn’t grip me at any point, I didn’t get sucked in and start to turn the pages waiting for what was going to happen next. It all didn’t build up to the climax, and when the climax did come, it felt disconnected. (There is a letter Eli writes at the end, that seems so unlike the girl I’d got to know through the book.)

‘How To Get Your Heart Broken’ is written from the POV of Eli, except for some parts where Ash’s perspective is shown through her diary. Rose Fall uses simple language and sentence structure that makes the book an easy read. I did find a lot of missing words though, mostly prepositions and some grammar errors. But these may not be there in the final book published as I think I read an ARC.

I liked reading the book but I do wish Rose Fall had given it more depth and explored more. I did like her writing style though and would like to see what she comes up with next.

Overall a good book but for the right age or person I think. I would recommend ‘How To Get Your Heart Broken’ to those younger than and in their early twenties.

Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US

About the Author:

Rose Fall
 
 
Rose Fall was born in New York City to Senegalese immigrant parents. She is currently studying Communication and Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill.
‘How to Get Your Heart Broken’ is her debut novel.

Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter

 

Giveaway:

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 22, 2016   No Comments

April’s All About Android Apps | #AtoZchallenge

A to Z Theme Reveal

That’s a pretty good title eh? It came to me as I sat watching the dogs finish eating this morning, mulling over how to write this post.

This is my third year of doing the A to Z Challenge, but it’s my first official themed attempt and my first time of being a minion too. That was a lot of info, so let me explain.

The A to Z Challenge is a blogging challenge that runs through the month of April [except Sundays, hey we need a holiday 😀 ], each day is a new letter in the alphabet starting with A, all the way to Z.

The post can be about anything, only condition is that the title should start or the topic should start with that day’s letter. You could choose a theme, or just wing it, all goes. But if you are doing a theme, a theme reveal is a good idea – and that’s what this post is!

Minion – haven’t talked about that have I. Minions are the ones who work behind the scenes to keep the challenge going through the month. All the little tasks and to-do’s that make the cogs move and wheels turn. Since this is my third, I figured a peek behind the scenes and a helping hand would be nice.

Now on to my theme… This year in the A to Z. I’m going to review, talk and share about all the apps I use on my Android phone.

Android Apps I use

I’ve been using an android phone for about 5 years now and over the years I’ve accumulated apps that I just can’t live without, some I’m still learning to use, some are new and others I’ve long stopped using [these I’m not going to talk about 😉 ].

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now. It was last years plan, but things changed and I landed up doing a Lesson’s from Dogs theme. This year, I’m all prepped and even have my titles chalked out, so Android App’s in April it is!

Alright, the challenge starts April 1st, make sure you join me; I’ll tell you which apps I love and you can tell me what apps you use and how you use them.

Until then, go check out the A to Z Challenge and join in, it’s not too late. You can also check out the other themes A to Z participants are doing on the A to Z Reveal page.

March 21, 2016   22 Comments

This Week in Books: The Year of The Runaways, Hexed, Smarter Faster Better

Elu and the Kindle

This week has been a rather quiet week on the books front. Rather it’s been a binge of House of Cards seasons. I don’t understand politics much, not Indian, not American but I’m watching in the hope that I’ll understand the US Presidential Elections this year, better, if I can glean something from House of Cards.

In between all that watching though, this week I did finally finish How to Get Your Heart Broken, caught-up with my podcasts and, cleaned-up and re-potted most of the garden.

The garden has been needing a lot of my time and attention, so for this season, I’ve toned it down and re-planned so I won’t have to spend lots of time in there and yet will be able to manage it. Got to focus on my running for the next few months, May isn’t to far and I want to do the TCS10K in under an hour.

I started listening to The Readers Podcast last week and have listened to only two episodes but I’m quite enjoying listening to Thomas and Simon. This week Simon did a special on the ‘Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction’ long-list. (It’s odd but not one book hit the spot for me, maybe their review after reading might help and something might get added to my #TBR.)

It was on their first podcast I ever heard, Ep. 148, that I first heard of the Bailey’s Prize, formerly known as the Orange Prize. It’s pretty cool that women are getting attention in various spheres, we need the push. Gender Equality is something close to my heart and it’s what I’m fighting for, it’s not about women being on top or being more powerful, it’s about men and women being equal.

And frankly we aren’t, we are still a long way to go to get there. That’s why the only piece of news that interested me this week was what Lionel Shriver had to say about the Bailey’s Prize. This bit of news I read in an article by Vanessa Willoughby and also heard on the BookRiot Podcast. Here’s what she said,

“This whole thing of treating women specially, as if they need special help and special rules, is problematic and obviously backfires.”

Lionel Shriver has a point, and I’d be inclined to agree with her but if she had maybe said this 20 years from now, or at least at a time when gender equality was actually real and true, or almost true. Not now, not at a time when we have just started out working towards equality!

#TBR Additions This Week

 
Moving on, here’s the list of books I added to the TBR this week. 😉 I’ve been vacillating the last couple of weeks but I’ve finally taken the plunge. I’m taking up the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge for 2016. (More on it in the the coming weeks, click on the link to know more)

I am not much of a horror person, both in books and movies, too vivid an imagination I guess, I have weeks of nightmares but Amanda Nelson convinced me on the show to give it a try, when she talked about how she has similar fears and nightmares to mine and yet is also now a horror fan. So, here’s my two picks to try.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
(Get Booked #19)

Considering my fear of horror, this one seems appropriate as it has no visual of the monster. It is just Something, something that if seen drives people to kill themselves. So people have to keep their eyes closed all the time.
In this craziness, Malorie must blindly navigate 20 miles downriver with her two children and she knows she’s being followed, but by what. Sounds scary and yet maybe, it’s my entry into horror.

Hexed by Michael Alan Nelson
Hexed by Michael Alan Nelson
(Get Booked #19)

A graphic novel might make it easier to deal with horror, since it would take my imagination on to the picture by providing visuals. It would also help me check-off my graphic novel to-do. 😀

The Year of The Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
The Year of The Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

It was the authors Indianish name that first got my attention, then the premise clinched the deal. This is supposed to be the story of three young Indian men living in Sheffield and trying to make a life in a new country. One of them even has a visa-wife. Add to this Sheffield, I’ve been there and reading a story about a place I’ve been to sounds exciting.

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Now this one’s a book on productivity; not my usual fare but it got lots of praise in one of the podcasts (not sure which) and considering this year I want to do sooo much I thought it would help.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
(Get Booked #19)

I missed adding this book in last week but the ladies reminded me again this week. The premise of the book is an interesting tangent to the usual Sherlock fare coming out these days. This story is about Sherlocks Grand-daughter and Watson’s grand-son, who land up in the same school and in the middle of a murder mystery.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
(Get Booked #19)

And continuing with the Sherlock frenzy here’s another I liked. This one’s about a girl who stumbles (literally) into Holmes who is living a retired life in Sussex. Holmes takes her under his wing and starts training her. Sounds interesting right, what also caught my ear, was Amanda Nelson’s brief complaint about Watson not being portrayed well. Got to check it out.

So, what have you been unto this week? What are you reading? Got some new books?

March 20, 2016   No Comments

Review – Places to Stay: The Lazy Frog, Goa (Carmona)

The Lazy Frog, Goa

This was the first time I stayed at The Lazy Frog but I know I’m going to be staying there again and again. :)

I’ve been to Goa many times over the years and each time I seem to go to a different part, this I’m grateful for, for it is not by my choice that it happens. It’s providence that takes me to different parts of that little state so I get a different experience every time.

This time we landed up in Carmona, South Goa, thanks to the Times Women’s Drive that finished there and had their after party at Zuri. In a bid to beat the rush (there were to be 1000+ women in the drive), we went hunting for a place to stay a couple weeks before the drive.

Looking though sites like Booking.com, Agoda, Air BnB and such we found The Lazy Frog on Booking.com. We liked what we saw and liked the price even more. It was completely in our budget and we booked it immediately.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Accommodation: ★★★★★
Cleanliness: ★★★★★
Hospitality: ★★★★★
Location: ★★★★★
Tariff: ★★★★★
***Disclaimer: I am NOT associated to The Lazy Frog in anyway. This is my unbiased review and opinion of the place, straight and simple. :)

Location:

 
The Lazy Frog is set in Carmona, South Goa, just off the main road, in an area that is filled with old world charm. There are old houses, quaint tea stalls, moving fish markets and wonderful people all around.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Carmona Beach lies on the other side of the road, about 2km away. The beach is quiet and peaceful with a couple of shacks around, perfect if you want some quiet time away from the hordes of tourists in Goa.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Getting there:

 
The hotel isn’t too far from Madgaon, about 9km from the railway station. The airport at Panjim is 29km away and Carmona Bus stand is around the corner. The hotel offers complimentary pickups and drops from all these places.

We used Google Maps to find The Lazy Frog since we have driven down. The map worked perfectly until the last turn, which is a small lane missing on the map. But people are helpful and we got directions easily. :)

Rooms:

 
The Lazy Frog, Goa

The hotel has 9 rooms (across two floors), a couple of which are triple occupancy. We had taken a 3 person room, so our room had one double bed and one single bed.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

The room was spacious and clean, with fresh towels and white sheets. Amenities in the room included an air conditioner which was super helpful in the heat, there was also a fan, TV, fridge, microwave and water kettle.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

There is hot and cold water available through the day. The shower is lovely and inviting, and the hotel provides shower gel along with towels.

Hospitality & Service:

 
We got to The Lazy Frog in the afternoon and the next morning I forgot to put out the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, so the room got cleaned. And I’m glad I forgot because I came back to some really cute towel animals.

The Lazy Frog, Goa

But I was also embarrassed, as I’d left a lot of clothes lying around in my rush to the beach and they had all been folded when I returned. The room service was impeccable, Salvadore’s a one-man army!

The Lazy Frog does not offer food, but you could request the night before for breakfast to be picked up for you if you want to eat in bed. Yep, the guys are friendly and accommodating like that. :)

The Lazy Frog, Goa

The Lazy Frog, Goa

They are also into frogs… Really into them! 😀 Apart from frogs galore, the hotel also offers free wi-fi, free parking and a designated smoking area.

Hosts:

 

The Lazy Frog, GoaThe Threesome – Roy, Olivia and The Frog

The Lazy Frog is rather new as things go, this is their first year but it didn’t seem so to me and after talking to Roy and Olivia I knew why. Both Roy and Olivia have lots of experience in the hospitality business and it shows in their hotel.

Kind and sweet, I enjoyed talking to the couple and getting to know them. They had lots of stories to recount and they opened their hearts and home with such love that within minutes I felt like I’d known them for years!

The Lazy Frog, Goa

Roy is a treasure trove of information. Make sure to talk to him and discuss your stay and what you have in mind. He gave us some suggestions of things to do and places to eat for the day and I’m so glad I took his advise. We absolutely enjoyed our day!

Rates:

The rooms are reasonably priced. We paid Rs.1600/- per day for our room with an extra bed.

My Experience at The Lazy Frog

 
This was my first time at The Lazy Frog and in Carmona, Goa but I so enjoyed the quite old Goan charm and the hospitality and peace of The Lazy Frog that I’m sure I’m going to be going back often. Plus it helps, immensely, that they are a pet-friendly hotel. I’d like to take my brat-pack to the beach someday and The Lazy Frog would be a perfect fit to that project with lost of space, spacious rooms and wonderful hosts.

I definitely recommend The Lazy Frog if you are looking for a place to stay in Goa. And if you do go there, give Roy and Olivia a hug for me. 😉

Details

The Lazy Frog, Carmona, Goa
Website: lazyfroggoa.com
Email: lazyfroggoa@gmail.com
Phone: +919545833366, +917066153390
Facebook Page

March 17, 2016   3 Comments

My Week in Books: StoryWeaver Dead Wake Pandemic and The Underground Railroad

One of my reading nooks

This year along with reading I want to spend more time getting to know the book space, exploring it to see all that happens it, how it works and learning it’s pulse.

One part of this project is tweaking my Twitter feed for this and getting more active on it. With this in mind, I’ve been pushing myself to spend more it on it and this week it paid off big. I came across Pratham Books StoryWeaver Project.

StoryWeaver offers a range of books for kids at different learning levels and ages, it even offers them in a large number of Indian languages. The cherry on it all, though for me was the bilingual books they offer. I printed off one to see how my househelp’s kid enjoys it. I’m excited to hear about her experience.

Story Weaver Books

If you have kids at home, you should check out the StoryWeaver project that apart from books also offers ways to create your own books and help translate others.

In other news this week I heard of another book site BookSlut shutting down on TeleRead. It’s sad to see and there’s speculation as to why Jessa Crispin is doing this but she says she doesn’t want to comment on it right now and that all the content will stay available ever after the last issue publication date of 14, May.

On the podcast front there wasn’t much news this week, though I did find a couple of new book podcasts to try out and see if I like them. There were two pieces of news though that did catch my eye. One was about an open ebook program for low-income groups in the US (crazy coincidence that I found StoryWeaver in the same week).

The other piece of news Jeff and Amanda talked about over on the BookRiot podcast was about how Middle Grade books have gotten bigger after Harry Potter, almost as if HP opened up new possibilities. Amanda’s point about fantasy becoming popular that that age group being a reason and HP helping the cause stood out.

And on the reading front, I made progress with ‘How to Get Your Heart Broken’ by Rose Fall. It’s slow going, I guess coz it’s not really my kind of story. :(

TBR Adds This Week

 
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
(Hush #86)

I came across the book on the Hush Podcast, a new podcast I listened to this week. The Titanic has always been a fascination for me, so something to do with it’s sister ship immediately caught my eye. Thad, Lissa and Julie discussed the book with spoilers but I don’t think that would spoil the book for, especially since its as Narrative Non-Fiction as Julie called it.

The story of the role The Lusitania and The German Uboat play in getting America into the war, should be interesting. Plus it’s been a while since I read non-fiction.

Pandemic by Sonia Shah
Pandemic by Sonia Shah
(BR The Podcast #147)

Another non-fiction on my list this week, this one’s about tracking Pandemics. Epidemiologists are in agreement that we are due for a pandemic and Sonia Shah explores Cholera (one of the deadliest diseases) from it’s source to it’s current state to reveal how a new pandemic might develop.

The last book I read about something similar was Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond many years ago and I remember enjoying it. Can’t wait to get started on Pandemic.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
(BR The Podcast #147)

The story of a slave trying to escape the horrors bondage via a secret underground railroad caught my ear. That Colson Whitehead comes highly recommend by Jeff O’Neal helped and that he is excited about this book releasing in September 2016 was the clincher. It’s on my list!

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
(Get Booked #18)

This isn’t really an addition as it’s a book my already reading (had stopped somewhere and have got to pick it up again) but it’s a cool moment for me to have the Get Booked https://bookriot.com/listen/also-some-camels/ guys mention a book already on my list. It’s like that ‘pat on the back’ saying ‘yep girl, right direction’. 😀

This books a memoir, self-help and life hack guru, all mixed into one, and I’m enjoying it.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
(Get Booked #18)

I like fairy stories and the premise of this one sounds soo interesting. The story of the eldest who gets cursed by a witch and then goes on an adventure to get the curse of becoming an old woman removed. There’s also a fire demon and a witch war to clinch the deal!

This week I seem to have picked a lot of non-fiction but it’s been a long time since I read some good non-fiction.
What did you read this week? What have you added to your TBR this week?

March 13, 2016   6 Comments

Review: Hobby In A Box – The Little Box of DIY Joy

Hobby in a Box

Disclaimer: I received a box from the Hobby In A Box guys in exchange for an unbiased review.

I first found Hobby In A Box through the workshops they conduct in IIM Bangalore on Sundays. It being too far for me, I reached out to find something closer and got directed to their website in lieu of no workshops in my area.

The concept of the site immediately struck a chord with me. I’ve seen this idea being implemented in the US but sadly it was lacking in India until now. So, what’s the concept?

The Concept

 
The idea behind Hobby In A Box is that most often what stops us from learning a new craft is the investment or procurement of material for that craft – either it’s expensive, you have to buy in bulk or have to travel far and wide to find them. The Hobby In A Box guys, solve that by putting all you need to try something new in a little box, so there’s no running around anymore, just the joy of learning and making something new.

Hobby in a Box

I loved the projects the guys had to offer on the site, and selected the Warli folk art box. Pretty soon I heard from Manveen (co-founder), she said that that box was out of stock but I could choose another. We got talking and in no time she agreed to surprise me with a box in exchange for a review. I ended that call gleefully rubbing my palms, wondering what was in store for me. :)

The box arrived a few weeks later and I was thrilled to find a kit for glass etching. I’ve done glass painting but I’d never tried etching out. Reason – good etching creams are expensive, have to be sourced from US, and have to be bought in a big jar!

Let’s Do It!

 
I opened the box to find two glasses, a jar of etching cream, a brush, a plain sticker sheet, a printed sticker sheet (a special extra for me!) and instructions.

Hobby in a Box contents

The instructions asked me to go to their Youtube channel and check out the tutorial on glass etching. I’m used to written/drawn instructions and this was a deviation but one that turned out really helpful, as Manveen explains the process really well through the video and watching makes it easier to implement. (Almost like attending one of her workshops.)

I settled down to try my hand out at etching, and following instructions put down paper so I don’t get etching cream on surfaces I don’t want etched. 😀

Hobby in a Box Etching set

The etching cream box had leaked and partially ruined the inside of one glass, so I tweaked the design a bit to hide it. I also added the glass from a candle lamp to see how it came out and did simple designs since it was my first time.

Hobby in a Box glasses

Hobby in a Box glasses stickered

Once the design was complete, the next step was to put on the etching cream.

Hobby in a Box glasses with cream

The tutorial video says the cream can be reused but mine dried and taking it off wasn’t an option. I had to wash them off. As I washed off the cream, the glasses looked like nothing had happened to them but as they dried, it was like magic watching the designs showing up.

Hobby in a Box etched glasses

The candle lamp was a gift from a dear aunt and it turned out so beautiful. I love it!

Hobby in a Box etching

The experience of trying out and learning something new was such fun. It was an afternoon filled with fun and joy. Che watched me going through all the steps with curiosity and amusement but even he was gushing at the end result!

My Experience

 
My Hobby In A Box was a complete success with etching cream left over, and now I’m looking for more glasses to etch. 😀
Having all I needed at hand to start a new project was super helpful, the video tutorial made the learning process easier and doing it was such fun. A quick shout out to the guys behind the scenes too, especially Manveen who was really helpful and a pleasure to interact with.

I definitely recommend trying out the Hobby In A Box projects, especially if you have kids, the box will make for a fun afternoon with your child. And if you live in South Bangalore, you should try an make it to their Hobby in a Box workshops at IIM!

Have you tried out a Hobby In A Box? Which one was your favourite? If you haven’t, head over to Hobby In A Box now! I’m off to select my next project but you don’t forget to tell me what you though of my lamp in comments. 😉

March 10, 2016   6 Comments

My Week in Books: Sherlock Holmes, Umberto Eco, Muslim-Themed Books & Americanah

One of my reading nooks

This week I didn’t get much reading done, but I did finish Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu by Vasudev Murthy and my review is up. It’s long one for the book as heavy and detailed, but do check it out. I’m looking forward to reading How To Get Your Heart Broken by Rose Fall in the coming week, and who knows if all goes well, I’ll be able to squeeze another one in too.

But it’s been a good week, I managed to catch up with a lot of old podcasts and I am now back on track and listening to the latest ones. I had a fairly huge backlog, actually I still have a few pending but those I’m not very keen on so it’s ok.

That’s been one of by big learnings last year – saying no. I’m pushing myself to say no to books I don’t want to read, ignore podcasts that don’t catch my interest, say no to things i don’t want to do, and be ok with it, i.e. not feel guilty. Usually the guilt drives me nuts and I land up feeling miserable.

Twin edged sword that since doing it also leaves me miserable. So, now I’m working on saying no and enjoying it. :) Anyway, like I was saying I got a lot of podcasts out of the way but that means lots of news and books. So, here’s the stuff that caught my eye/ear this week. 😀

News That Caught My Eye

 
It’s pretty old news now, that Harper Lee died but I’m still grieving her. To Kill A Mockingbird had made an impact in my mind and I still remember it. I did get Go Set a Watchman but with all the drama surrounding it I’ve been putting it off. Time to get to it now. Have you read it?

Lee’s death was big news, such big news that I completely missed out on the death of Umberto Eco, and he passed away on the same day Feb. 19th. I’m not a huge Eco fan but I do know of him and even own a copy of Foucault’s Pendulum. It came highly recommended so I’d picked it up but couldn’t get past 20 pages. It’s a heavy book! His most popular/famous book though is The Name of the Rose, which you should read if the things in DaVinci Code by Dan Brown intrigue you, for this ones way better.

In other big news Simon and Schuster is launching an imprint for Muslim-themed Children’s books – Salaam Reads. This is a big deal and it’s been a long time coming. With all the nonsense the world media (read US) has been putting out about Muslims, a balance for future generations can only be struck if we teach them about the Muslim culture at a young age. Understanding other cultures and religions will only lead to more tolerance. (I hope.)

“We have a chance to provide people with a more nuanced and, in my estimation, a more honest portrayal of the lives of everyday Muslims,” Zareen Jaffery (executive editor at Simon & Schuster)

Jeff O’Neal on the BookRiot podcast also had an interesting point, which was that the imprint shouldn’t become the only place where such books get published. These ideas and themes should become a part of regular publishing. Inclusion and diversity is the way forward and it should happen everywhere and all the time.

And the last bit of news that stuck with me was that Banned Books Week (in Sept.) this year is going to focus on diversity and books written by people of colour. This is such awesome news and a big step forward. I’m looking forward to this and I’m going to try and read at least one of these banned books. Are you?

Books Added This Week to My TBR

 
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(Get Booked #17)
This book called out to me for a couple of reasons –
Culture and how as people we create and deal with it is a topic that interests me. This books seems to be about life in a different country and culture and how the main character Ifemelu deals with it’s challenges. She even has a blog about it.
Another strong reason is that in our area we have a large population of Nigerians who come to study in a college near by. The culture clash is making for an almost tangible tension here, and I’m hoping this book will help me understand them better.
And lastly I’m looking to add more diversity into my reading and this book will do just that. 😀

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
(Get Booked #17)
This book got on my list the minute Amanda (or was it Jenn, hmm) talked about the heroine’s wig flying off and leaving her there bald and nak-head [couldn’t resist that 😀 ] for the world to see. It was a plus that the story is also about people, who are clearly not of the societal-mould, trying to fit in and their struggle to appear normal and have a normal family life. Hit’s close to home, me thinks.

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
(Get Booked #16)
A story about a fantasy world that you can get to only by sleeping with someone who has already been there and then getting marked for being there by a tattoo that is a a partial map of the place. That’s the premise I absorbed on the show. How can I not read this!!!

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
(Get Booked #16)
I’m going through Indian books/authors phase right now, so imagine my astonishment when the guys at Get Booked talked about a book based in India by an Indian author. I actually stopped by the side of the road and rewound to listen again. The mention of this book was like the universe telling me, ‘Read This!’.

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
(Get Booked #16)
This book has been mentioned so many times now on podcasts I listen to by gushing hosts, that this time I figured I must add it to my list. I’m not really sure if it’s my kind of book but it’s reviews have me wanting to definitely try it out.

In the coming weeks I’ve got to get more active on twitter, the idea being that I would like to stay on top of book news while the news is still fresh. Lets see how that works out.

Have you read any of these book I chose? Got any of these on your TBR? What book news was most interesting to you this week? What did you read this week?

March 6, 2016   No Comments

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu by Vasudev Murthy

Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu by Vasudev Murthy

 
Vasudev Murthy's Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu
Title: Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu
Author: Vasudev Murthy
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (January 5th 2016)
Genre: Detective, Drama
Read: Hardcover
Stars: ★★★★☆
Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US

 

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Still wondering what Sherlock Holmes was doing between his reported death in 1891 and his reappearance in 1894? All the world knew that Sherlock Holmes died at the Reichenbach Falls, tumbling over the jagged cliff in a deadly embrace with his nemesis Moriarty. But for history’s greatest detective, death was only the beginning. Rumors abounded that Holmes had been sighted advising the Japanese emperor, studying with the Dalai Lama, and protecting the president of the United States, but only Dr. Watson knew the truth. From 1891 to 1894, Sherlock Holmes was dead to the world and having the grandest adventures of his career.
It begins when an Italian scholar travels from Venice to 221B Baker Street, to beg the help of the legendary detective. He carries an ancient parchment, written in the hand of Marco Polo himself. It is a rubbing made from a brass disc found in the libraries of Kublai Khan, and it was torn in half centuries ago to protect the world from a terrifying secret, one that, apparently, first Marco Polo, then another great traveler, the Moroccan Ibn Battuta, took dramatic steps to guard. Where, if anywhere, is its missing half?
Holmes springs into action. He fakes his death at Reichenbach, and proceeds undercover to Venice. A murdered scholar, an archivist from the Vatican, British imperial politics and, of course, the dire hand of Moriarty propel Holmes and a surprised but resolute Dr. Watson, playing the roles they assumed in Morocco, on a perilous journey down the Sahara to the ancient city of Timbuktu and beyond. In deepest Africa, Holmes will confront ruthless criminals, an ancient culture, and a staggering surprise.

 

My Review:

Note: Thanks Vasudev Murthy for offering me his book to read and review :)

Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu by Vasudev Murthy

Cover: Beautiful!

Paper and font: Smellishous…

Readability, language: Requires Time and Attention

Why did I choose this book: I have been a fan of Doyle’s work and Holmes is one of my all-time-favourite detectives. So, this was natural progression, plus it was Doyle who left this back door ajar…

By making Sherlock disappear for a few years Doyle created a space that has been filled by so many and so much. This is Vasudev Murthy’s second book in this space. In this pastiche Sherlock Holmes goes on an adventure that involves eternal life, Ibn Batuta, Marco Polo, Tuaregs, Moriarty and Timbuktu.

The title is clear and sets the right expectations by informing the reader that the book is about Sherlock Holmes during the years he was missing, it also indicates where he was or where this book is set. I really liked the cover which is detailed with well chosen font and colours. The little detail of Holmes pipe was a nice touch. The blurb on the inside of the jacket cover is long and somewhat complex but that is a good indicator of what to expect from the book.

The book I received was a hardcover and I must say after a long time, I’m impressed by the print quality of an Indian Book. The paper smells lovely, the font is well laid out and reads easy, and the binding makes me want to keep this book on my shelf. It’s worth noting though that this book is published by Poisoned Pen Press and printed in the USA, so my calling it an Indian Book, in all aspects may not be correct.

The plot is brand-spanking-new and not like any other Holmes novel I have read. There are clear connects with Watson’s style of narrating but Vasudev Murthy also adds his own style and goes on tangents all his own. The objective is clear right at the start, and we know that Holmes is on a quest. The story follows mostly a linear path with subplots being a part of the main narrative rather than separate entities.

The main story is set in Africa, in the environs of Timbuktu but Holmes also visits Rome and Venice. Set in the 1890’s Vasudev Murthy shines here, no matter anything else about the book, in research he gets full marks. The people, places, time and situation are described in so much detail that it’s clear the author spent good time studying his subject, he also seems to have found good subject experts.

Apart from Holmes and Watson, who to most extents are described and behave as I’ve known them, there a bunch of other characters, each described in detail so that I could imagine each one of them and even felt a fondness for a couple of them. One character though stays through majority of the book – Hasso Ag Akotey the chief of the Tuaregs, he doesn’t play a vital role but plays a constant role. There is also the Pope and Moriarty who make appearances in the book.

The story is structured well and has a streamlined flow but it’s complex. I had been warned by the author and I’m passing on the warning. This book isn’t a light read, it requires time and attention. I had to focus and pay full attention to the book, and reading fast was out of question, as I had to slow down and absorb every bit so that I would be able to put it all together as it drew to climax.

Vasudev Murthy has drawn out an elaborate plan that covers a large time and space but in it all he keeps a hold on all the ends and leaves no loose ends. The pace of the story is constant right to the end, a slow and steady pace that’s more academic than thrilling.

The story is narrated by Watson which is consistent with how Doyle went about it, though at times it’s Watson telling it as it was told to him by key characters, and at those times I felt a break in the flow and a slight disconnect. Vasudev Murthy’s hold on all the languages he uses is clearly good, well, I can’t vouch for the French, Arabic and Tamasheq but his English definitely had me reach out for the dictionary often.

In summary this is a good book but only for die hard Sherlock Holmes fans who have the time to do some intense reading. Deeply researched and well written, this book comes recommended by Roger Johnson, the Editor of The Sherlock Holmes Journal and having read the book I now see why. Pick it up at your own peril, for this is heavy and you’ve been warned. :)

Buy On: Amazon India | Amazon US

About the Author:

Vasudev Murthy

Vasudev Murthy writes on music, humour, management and crime. A violinist and animal rights activist, Vasudev lives with his family and five snoring dogs in Bangalore, India. He has been published by Bloomsbury, HarperCollins, Editora Vestigio (Brazil), Poisoned Pen Press, Sage, Rupa, LiFi, Gamesman (Korea) and Kokushu (Japan).

Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

March 3, 2016   1 Comment