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Category — Miscellaneous

Review: Bookling’s Crate Book Subscription Box

Bookling's Crate Feb. 2017 Box

When I bought my first box there was no plan of unboxing boxes through the year, I just wanted to try out one box, so I started out with the cheapest box I could find, the Bookling’s Crate. But when the box arrived there was nothing cheap about it, instead it started an addiction I’m trying hard to keep in tight rein. 😉

Until now, I have unboxed two of the Bookling’s Crate boxes. The first in January, themed ‘Dreams of Heart’, left me unsure and I decided to withhold review until I could budget in another box. But I got lucky and I won a second box. 😀
**This is to say they have cool contests and that the following is an unbiased review. :) **

Bookling's Crate Jan. 2017 Box

Affordability

★★★★★

The Bookling’s Crate boxes are priced at Rs.799. If you have a code, then you can get a discount on that too! And if you buy a 3 months or 6 months subscription, you pay less that 799 a month.

What can I say, it screams “I’m affordable!!!”.

Value for Money

★★★★★

One of the cool things, the Bookling’s Crate box contains, is a list of items with prices, so I didn’t have to hunt the prices down. Here’s the numbers of each box –
January – 5 items – worth Rs. 1029.
February – 7 items – worth Rs.1196

In sheer numbers, I’ve got my money’s worth. And more I’d say, based on their second box.

Quality of Packaging

★★★★★

Both my boxes came packed well with lots of padding and bubble wrap, arriving in perfect condition. Each item packed well and tucked in well, so as to make for safe transport and an interesting unboxing.

Theme and Book Choice

★★★★☆

The January box was themed ‘Dreams of Heart’. The book was Heartless by Marissa Meyer, an excellent choice in my opinion as I’ve heard good things about the book from friends and it’s rated highly on GR – 4.09. Along with the book was a heart shaped scented vanilla candle from D’Lite Decorative, two sachets of green tea from Tea Treasure, a pack of golden playing cards, a small dreamcatcher on a keychain from MeSha Creations, 4 Harry Potter themed bookmarks, 2 Heartless themed bookmarks and a quote card.

All the items connect to each other and the theme in some way, but somehow it all didn’t sit well together for me, or maybe it’s because I’m not much of a candles and cards person. Hmm…

The February box themed ‘Ready for Anything’ had Freeks by Amanda Hocking as it’s book. I haven’t heard of this book but I have heard of Amanda Hocking and aside from that, this book has such a gorgeous cover. The book also resonated with me because I’ve just finished listening to Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Freeks I think will help with the Night Circus hangover I’m experiencing. 😀 (GR rating 3.68)
Apart from the book, the box also had a pencil cum wand from BlitheringCannon, two blends of coffee from BeanStalknLeaves, a leaf shaped metal bookmark from MeSha Creations, two Yoga bars, a Harry Potter themed tote bag and two bookmarks with quotes on them.

Unlike the January box, this box had me instantly connecting. Every item had me grinning gleefully, the items all connected and sat well with the theme; I don’t know why, they just did. 😀
I’d have given 3 stars in this section based on the January box but February bowed me over to 4 stars.

Joy of Unboxing

★★★★★

I absolutely enjoyed unboxing both my Bookling’s Crate boxes. The second one even more I think because I knew of some things in the box and I’d had to wait overnight to open my box. 😉

The videos above are the best gauge of my joy. I felt like such a child opening these boxes, experiencing pure unadulterated happiness for a little while as I immersed myself in each box.

Summary

.
I definitely recommend the Bookling’s Crate book subscription box. It hits all my checkboxes.
I’d like to see that something hatke in the theme and packaging that would make them unique but that would be a bonus. Just as it is, the Bookling’s Crate box is bang for your buck. Get it! :)

You can book your Bookling’s Crate box for just Rs.719.10. Use the code FREYA10 to get a 10% discount. (The box costs Rs.799/-).
{Please use the code or let Uthara who runs Bookling’s Crate know you came from me. They have a referral program too with goodies to be won. :) }

February 20, 2017   2 Comments

A Year of Unboxing and Reviews of Book Subscription Boxes

A Year of Unboxing Book Subscription Boxes

Last year I discovered Bookstagram, a large community of bibliophiles and book lovers on Instagram, and a new world opened up. Among challenges, book tags and what not’s, book subscription boxes also started to pop-up on my stream and I was enthralled. I drooled as I checked out the boxes, my heart craving and longing but the rational mind reminded me that shipping to India was way out of my budget. :(

Book Subscription Boxes, are a curated collection of books and bookish goodies based usually on a theme, packed in a box. The key to these boxes is the surprise factor and the simple joy of presents, materialistic ones, but hey, what the hell! :) And then some boxes like the ‘Once Upon A Book Club’ box go the extra by making the theme the book, so you get a bunch of goodies that come wrapped and marked with page numbers, and you open them as you read the book! (Gawd, I can’t wait to try this one.)
 
The Bookling's Crate and BooksnBeyond January 2017 Boxes

Then suddenly in January, I discovered Indian Book Subscription Boxes, first one, then another and then a flood of them. These were now affordable and I wanted all of them but that damn rational mind kicked in again to say, in those numbers they were again unaffordable. However this time, the bugger also had an alternative. How about one box a month through the year?

And there in lies the seed. So, this year I’ve set a budget of a 1500 bucks a month to buy a book box. That money can move around based on cost of boxes, what I mean is that whatever I save each month (if a box is less than 1.5k), will collect and I’m hoping to use it in the end of the year to treat myself to some of those US and UK based boxes. Yay! 😀

 
Watching my first unboxing video, I discovered the joy of watching a joyful experience, my own experience at that. It struck me that I should document my year of subscription boxes, in text, images and video. So, this year there will be at least one unboxing video a month, one book subscription box review and lots of photos and stories on Instagram of book boxes and their contents. :)

Review Parameters

 
In the spirit of fairness, I put some thoughts down on what I’d be reviewing a box on, plus it would help in writing the review. 😉

1. Affordability
2. Value for money
3. Quality of Packaging
4. Theme and Book Choice
5. Joy of Unboxing

Unboxed Book Subscription Boxes

 
Here’s the list of boxes I’ve unboxed by month (I’ll keep adding to it as I go along :) )

January

Bookling’s Crate

February

BooksnBeyond

 

Bookling’s Crate

(coming soon)
 
I’m already enjoying myself so much with these boxes, I can’t wait for the next month to arrive. :)
What do you think? I’d love to know. Have you tried subscription boxes? What was your experience? Any recommendations for me?
 

Photo Credit: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay

February 18, 2017   No Comments

Book Review: Sultan of Delhi: Ascension by Arnab Ray

Sultan of Delhi: Ascension by Arnab Ray
 

Sultan of Delhi: Ascension by Arnab Ray

Summary:

(Goodreads)

When a path is forged in blood, it is hard to find peace.

The son of a penniless refugee from Lahore, Arjun Bhatia has worked his way up from being an arms smuggler in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh to the most influential power-broker in Delhi.

But when the shadows of the past, of a friend he has lost forever and of a woman he can never be with, finally catch up to him, Arjun finds himself fighting the biggest battle of his life. For at stake is not just his iron hold over the government, but something even bigger—- his family…and his soul.

Spanning five decades and two generations, Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is an explosive saga of ambition, greed, love and passion.

 
Sultan of Delhi: Ascension by Arnab Ray
Title: Sultan of Delhi: Ascension
Author: Arnab Ray
Paperback: 301 pages
Publisher: Hachette (October 26th 2016)
Genre: Indian Fiction, Crime
Read: Paperback
Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from the author via Hachette India (and an B00kR3vi3ws Giveaway) in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Very Gangster!

Narration: Lovely smell and easy to read text

Readability, language: Easy with Lots of Desi cuss words

I met Arnab Ray at the IndiBlogger Conference sometime ago, it was the first time I had met him or had even heard of him but by the end of his talk, he had made an impression. I remember his wit and his own particular brand of humour. I’d enjoyed listening to him and so, when ‘Sultan of Delhi: Ascension’ came along I grabbed the book.

The Sultan of Delhi is the story of a sickly child who survives the journey to India during partition, and goes on to become one of the most powerful men in Delhi. Arun Bhatia has a drive to become someone and this drive takes him from being a mechanic to becoming a guns smuggler and then on to bigger pastures of Lyten’s Delhi, politics and business.

First Impressions

 
Some books manage to encapsulate the story in all it’s elements – title, cover, blurb and pages; The Sultan of Delhi is one of those books. The title is appropriate in that this is the story of the rise of a man to power; the cover shows the rugged drawing of a man holding a gun behind him, the image of a man who holds power and knows he holds power. And then there is the blurb that tells you the whole story and yet makes you want to read the book.

The plot is very Godfatherish, though I didn’t feel so while reading and realised only in hind sight, which says a lot for the writing. The plot feels new and punchy, Arnab Ray has delivered a complex plot simply, without any unnecessary complexities.

The story shifts from Lahore, to Uttar Pradesh and then Delhi as it unfolds over 50 years. Starting out at partition Arnab Ray draws a detailed background to his story right up to the 90’s, each place and setting adding to the tale, making it feel all to real.

Characters are the Core

 
The protagonist, Arjun Bhatia is a bad guy, it’s a fact established early in the book but the various facets of a bad guy are fleshed out well and I found myself feeling for and empathising with the character, and sometimes even rooting for him.

There are three main female characters, the wife, the mistress and the daughter. Each one of them is shown as their true selves, with both weaknesses and strengths. And the author brings out a lot of Arjun’s character through his relationship with them. For instance, when things go downhill, even though it is his daughter who delivers the worse blow, along with the hurt, Arnab Ray captures the pride a father feels for his daughter too.

Apart from the women who are given equal strength and voice as the male ones in the narrative, there are other characters that stand out. Arjun Bhatia’s sons and their friends as the typical rich spoilt kids with an unreal sense of reality. The ex-cop turned hitman with a wry sense of humour… The characters bring this novel to life.

Story and Style

 
The book is structured in three parts – Arjun’s initial years as a refugee and a gun runner, his move to Delhi and his rise to power and finally his battle to save his family and empire. The book starts out at a good pace and stays fast paced right up to the end. The author has tied up all loose ends and yet has left enough open to weave in part 2.

Arnab Ray’s language and writing style is very Hinglish, and I could connect and relate to it with ease. Be warned this book has a lot of profanity in it, in the native tongue too, but it adds that element to the telling, that punch that would be lost in translation.

Having picked up the book based on my only ever meeting with the author, the book delivered all I expected of Arnab Ray. Now, I can’t wait to read his three other books and this one’s sequel. (Before I started reading Sultan of Delhi: Ascension, I hadn’t realised this was a two part book, so to me the end seemed perfect, it felt so right. Then I realised there will be a second part, and now I’m all excited for it.)

In Short

 
Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is super masala fast paced read, perfect to settle down with on a lazy afternoon. You are going to want to read this at one go. Recommended if you like Indian Contemporary fiction filled with action and drama.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Arnab Ray - Sultan of Delhi: Ascension
Arnab Ray, better known as Greatbong, is one of India’s most widely read bloggers who blogs at Random Thoughts Of A Demented Mind. He is known for his sarcastic takes on the Indian film industry, Indian politics and society in general. He is presently employed as a research scientist at the University of Maryland and resides in the suburbs of Washington DC. Sultan of Delhi: Ascension is his fourth book.
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodReads │ Twitter – @greatbong
 
 

January 29, 2017   2 Comments

Book Review: Anomalies by Colette Freedman and Sadie Turner, Narrated by Lucinda Clare

Anomalies by Colette Freedman and Sadie Turner
 

Anomalies by Colette Freedman and Sadie Turner

Summary:

(Goodreads)

In the future there is no disease. There is no war. There is no discontent. All citizens are complacent members of the Global Governance. But one summer is about to change everything.

Keeva Tee just turned fifteen. All of her dreams are about to come true. She’s about to make the trip to Monarch Camp to be imprinted with her intended life partner. One day they’ll have perfect kids and a perfect life. But in her happy, carefree life in the Ocean Community, something weighs on her mind. She hears whispers about “anomalies”—citizens who can’t be imprinted. No one knows what happens to them, but they never seem to come back.

When Keeva arrives at Monarch Camp, her worst nightmare becomes a reality—she is an anomaly. After they are imprinted, the people she loves begin to change, and she starts to doubt everything she’s ever believed. What if freedom and individuality have been sacrificed for security? And what if the man who solves all the problems is the very man who’s created them—and what if he isn’t a man at all?

When Keeva finds a warning carved under a bunk bed she begins to understand: Nonconformity will be punished, dissent is not an option, insurgents will be destroyed.

 
Anomalies by Colette Freedman and Sadie Turner
Title: Anomalies
Author: Colette Freedman and Sadie Turner
Narrator: Lucinda Clare, Punch Audio
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: SelectBooks (February 9th 2016)
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Read: audio book
Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from the author via YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Eye-catchy blue!

Narration: Easy on the ears. :)

Readability, language: Easy on the mind.

Anomalies was my third sci-fi dystopian audio book, and I’m enjoying myself. It’s like I’m on a roll!

A World of Peace

 
Anomalies is set in a future world with no war, discontent and disease. People who survived the great war, now live in skill-based communities with their intended partners, governed by the Global Governance.

The book explores a world where people are happy, there is no illness, humankind is complacent, pliable and peaceful. This has been achieved by Sorbek Vesely, who heads the Global Governance that keeps citizens in check with advanced technology.

At fifteen children are sent to Monarch Camp where they meet their perfect partners and then go on to lead perfect lives in a perfect society. But there are anomalies, those who do not have perfect partners and who do not fit into the system. Keeva, the female protagonist is an anomaly.

The male protagonist is Calix, Sorbek’s son who he is grooming to be his heir. Calix hates his father, his methods and all he stands for, yet he is powerless to stop him.

Narration and Story

 
I can’t say more without giving up the story but I enjoyed listening to Anomalies on Audible. Lucinda Clare’s narration is excellent. At no point does the speech get monotonous and Lucinda Clare uses her voice well to switch between characters so each is distinct, she was a pleasure to listen to.

The authors have done an excellent job with world building, building slowly and in detail, so in my mind’s eye I could see this world as if it were real. Two characters’ POV also meant seeing this world from two extremes, the eyes of the oppressor and the oppressed. There are a lot of characters in the book, each one well fleshed out so I could associate with them as if I knew them.

The world at first glance seems great, but the peace and happiness is utopian and comes at the price of individuality with forced conformity. It made me sit back and question the value and importance of free will. Then there were Sorbek’s methods which while dishonourable and depraved, achieved peace, so does the end justify the means?

There’s more to the story than this of course, there’s another ancient race, a resistance and lots of action. The story sets a good pace and doesn’t let up right to the end. It’s 8 hours of listening and I found myself distraught at the end, wanting to continue and know more. I can’t wait for book 2.

The Short & Sweet

 
I enjoyed Anomalies; if you’re into dystopian sci-fi, this book comes highly recommended. The audio book with Lucinda Clare’s narration is especially recommended, I absolutely enjoyed listening to this book.

Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Sadie Turner - Anomalies
Sadie Turner is a Los Angeles-based producer and writer originally from Brighton, England, who works in business development with several Hollywood entrepreneurs. She has various projects in development, and also teaches yoga.
 
 
Colette Freedman - Anomalies
 
 
Colette Freedman is an internationally produced playwright with over 25 produced plays. She has co-written books with Jackie Collins and Michael Scott. Colette currently has several scripts in development.
 
 
 
 
Author Links:
Website │ GoodReads – Sadie Turner / Colette Freedman │ Twitter – Sadie Turner / Colette Freedman
 
 

January 20, 2017   No Comments

Book Review: Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kané

Lanka's Princess by Kavita Kané
 

Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kané

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Surpanakha, Ravan’s infamous sister—ugly and untamed, brutal and brazen. This is how she is commonly perceived. One whose nose was sliced off by an angry Lakshman and the one who started a war but was she really just perpetrator of war? Or was she a victim? Was she Lanka’s princess? Or was she the reason for its destruction?

Surpanakha, meaning the woman as hard as nails was born as Meenakshi—the one with beautiful, fish-shaped eyes. Growing up in the shadows of her brothers, who were destined to win wars, fame and prestige, she, instead, charts up a path filled with misery and revenge.

Accused of manipulating events between Ram and Ravan, which culminated in a bloody war and annihilation of her family, Surpanakha is often the most misunderstood character in the Ramayana. Kavita Kané ‘s Lanka’s Princess tells the story from the vantage of this woman more hated than hateful…

 
Lanka's Princess by Kavita Kané
Title: Lanka’s Princess
Author: Kavita Kané
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (December 1st 2016)
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology
Read: Paperback
Stars: ★★★★☆
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from Rupa Publication (India) in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Beautiful!

Paper and Font: Ebony and Ivory!

Readability, language: Easy

Why I picked Lanka’s Princess

 
Surpanakha plays an important role in the Ramayana tale by being that butterfly that flaps its wings leading to a world of destruction. She is the instigator of Ravana, her little sisterly act leading to war and the downfall of Lanka. Apart from that very little is told of her in the epic.

But how does Surpanakha get to that point of anger, hatred and revenge, where she wants to kill Ravana and will go to any lengths for it? What in her life led her to here? It was these questions that made me pick up Lanka’s Princess.

Lanka’s Princess is the story of a girl, youngest in the family, named Meenakshi for her beautiful eyes. A beautiful girl marred by life and situations, that bring out the worse in her, and bring forth Surpanakha, one who is hard as nails.

My Takeaways from Lanka’s Princess

 
Kavita Kané’s books usually have lead female protagonists who haven’t been given much voice in the telling of the epics. This is a first though, where the lead is an antagonist. Surpanakha as we know her has no redeeming qualities, by the end there is no good in her. But Kavita Kané explores the paths she takes though life showing the various little incidents that shaped her mind and soul into the demon she became, leaving me with mixed feelings in the end – animosity and sympathy for another woman dealth a bad hand of cards.

Writing mythological fiction must be challenging, these are age old stories that must be retold as new, with facts and timelines already fixed and the story well known. And yet, Lanka’s Princess got me to see a much neglected character in new light, her trials, her outlook and her choices that made her who she was.

In Lanka’s Princess, Kavita Kané explores Surpanakha’s character in deep detail, not holding back on her angst and negativity that fills the book. She shows up the importance even a dark skinned society gives to beauty and fairness, with Kaikesi, Surpanakha’s mother being the most vocal one, and the impact unkindess can have on a child’s mind and how far reaching it’s impacts are.

Through the book she also delves into the superficiality of Ravana’s love for his sister, Kumbha’s pure heart and his true love for his sister, the wrong that had been done to Surpanakha by Laxmana and the stereotyping of women done by men even back then.

The Book Itself…

 
Lanka’s Princess was an apt title as it was in her becoming the princess that she became Surpanakha, the hard one. The cover is lovely with an image of a girl in red and yellow contrasting well with the black background. The beauty of Meenakshi is captured in the eyes while her nails remind you of Surpanakha. The blurb grabbed me instantly.

The story begins with one of the rebirths of Surpanakha as a humpbacked woman and ends with another that explains her role in the cosmic cycle. In-between Kavita Kané has set the story in three parts and places, starting with Meenakshi’s childhood in the forest where her transformation to Surpanakha begins, the move and stay in Lanka where she truly becomes Surpanakha, and the forest of Dandak where she returns to start the war and take her revenge.

My biggest complain were the typos, grammar errors and missing words. Another proofread before publishing would have been so helpful. I enjoyed the story but the errors were a put off, and I really felt like knocking off a star for it. :( But I haven’t because the story is that good. :)

Parting Words

 
Lanka’s Princess is a well written story from the POV of much troubled and hated character, following her tale up to her death, telling a story not heard often. Kavita Kané sets a good pace with easy language that makes the book an enjoyable read. A sure recommendation if you are into mythological retellings and feminist writing.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Lanka's Princess by Kavita Kané
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , Kavita currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband Prakash and two daughters Kimaya and Amiya with Chic the black cocker spaniel and Cotton the white, curious cat.

 
Author Links:
FacebookGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

January 16, 2017   No Comments

2016: My Yearly Reading Review

2016: My Year in Books

2016: My Yearly Reading Review

 

“Sometimes in order to keep moving forward, not only must you take one step at a time, but you must be willing to look back occasionally and evaluate your past, no matter how painful it is. Looking back lets you know whether or not you are headed in the right direction.”
― G.K. Adams

Before I begin planning my read year in 2017, I thought I’d revisit 2016 to see how I fared in my reading life. I do this every year but this time I thought I’d make a video of it. :)

This is a two part video. In the first part I talk about

– My book stats
– How this is the lowest reading year since 2011
– Experimenting with audio books
– Participating in the Ninja Book Swap
– Why Kindle Unlimited didn’t work out for me
– Learnings from all this data. Things to keep in mind for 2017.

How was your reading year in 2016? Any milestones crossed? What were your challenges?

January 10, 2017   No Comments

Book Review: Raven’s Song (Inoki’s Game) by I.A. Ashcroft, Narrated by Mikael Naramore

Raven’s Song (Inoki’s Game) by I.A. Ashcroft

 
Raven's Song by I.A. Ashcroft
Title: Raven’s Song (Inoki’s Game)
Author: I.A. Ashcroft
Narrator: Mikael Naramore
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Lucid Dreams Publishing (March 14th 2016)
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic, Sci-fi
Read: audio book
Stars: ★★★★☆
Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

 

Summary:

(Goodreads)

A century ago, the world burned. Even now, though rebuilt and defiant, civilisation is still choking on the ashes.

Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct birds only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear.

Anna’s life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she’s gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses.

The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field.

If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist.

Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from the author via Author Assistant in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Dark and eye-catchy.

Narration: Easy on the ears. :)

Readability, language: Easy on the mind.

This is the second audio book I’ve managed to complete. I’d enjoyed my first book Project: Perception by Joshua Cook, (another fantasy) so much, I decided to pick up Raven’s Song for a listen. It seems like fiction is working better for me on audio, but that’s a topic for another day.

Raven’s Song is set a 100 years in the future, after the burning. This is a world of shields, radiation and raiders. In this world Jackson a smuggler, and Anna a woman from the past, must learn to use their magical abilities and stay alive.

It was the title that first caught my attention, they are beautiful birds – Ravens and have long been associated with magic. Then there was the cover that reminded me of the Omen series, one of the few books I’ve read in that genre. My mind was already made up to read the book, the blurb was that last nudge I needed.

The plot of Raven’s Song felt new and holds promise for the series as a lot of hints are dropped through the book about the core of the story. However a lot of questions remain unanswered at the end and I am still unclear about the heart of the series.

The concept of the world I.A. Ashcroft is creating for the series looks promising, set a 100 years in the future, a world ravaged by fires, a New York now contained in a shield, protected from radiation and raiders. My only complaint that he doesn’t explain how it all happened, I’m really curious and I hope Book 2 has the answer.

Apart from the main characters Jackson Dovetail, Anna Mathews and Agent Jayden Walker, there are other characters that I.A. Ashcroft has described well and made memorable. I’m looking forward to meeting them in future books.
Jackson and Anna are described well, but it was Agent Walker that stood out for me. His character has so many shades and secrets.

Raven’s Song starts off well and holds a good pace through out. This is a long book, 11 hours and 23 minutes! And I didn’t not get bored at any point, I couldn’t stop listening, wondering what would happen next. The story builds well to the climax and the end is a good primer for the next book.

I do wish though that so many questions had not been left unanswered, I would have like to know more about how the world was destroyed, where the gods mentioned in the blurb fit into the story and what the story really was about.

I quite liked I.A. Ashcroft’s style of writing, it light and easy to digest without big words and flowery descriptions. And yet there is enough dialogue and narration to make the book an enjoyable listen.

Mikael Naramore, the narrator brings the story and characters to life using different voices and styles for each character. His diction is clear with a good rate of speech, my Indian ear had no trouble at all understanding him.

I enjoyed Raven’s Song and I’m looking forward to book 2. I definitely recommend the book if you are a Dystopia Fantasy reader. However be warned, you will be left with a lot of questions and a wait for book two. :)

Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
I. A. Ashcroft dwells in Phoenix, Arizona, alongside a wonderful tale-spinner and two increasingly deranged cats. The author enjoys reading and pretending to be other people while rolling dice and wearing fancy hats.

 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

December 1, 2016   No Comments

5 Reasons Why the Tata Hexa is Great for Traveling With Your Dog

5 Reasons Why the Tata Hexa is Great for Traveling With Your Dog: My Tata Hexa Review

 
Dogs and Cars - Tata Hexa

Cars and dogs are a hit combination but not every car is comfortable to travel in with your dog. We are a family of seven, 5 of whom are dogs, so I have very specific requirements of a car. And the Tata Hexa pleasantly surprised me by meeting almost all of them!

Over the last 7 years we’ve travelled with the dogs in a variety of cars and each trip was a learning experience on dogs and cars; what works for them and what doesn’t. The most important lesson I learned when travelling with dogs – make sure your dogs are comfortable, it’s more important than you think.

Almost all dogs love cars but that doesn’t mean they are comfortable. The amount of cabin space, the roll of the car, the smoothness of the drive, the temperature control inside the car, these are some of the things that can make journeys fun for your dog and you.

It was some of these things I was looking at when I checked out and drove the Tata Hexa over the weekend. I wanted to evaluate how well it would work for me and my dogs, and with this in mind I build a checklist. Here’s 5 reasons why I think the Tata Hexa is great for traveling with my dogs.

 

Tata Hexa Cabin Space

A Spacious Cabin that Allows Movement

 
Just like we cramp after sitting in one position for a long time, dogs cramp too. In small or restricted spaces dogs get fidgety and restless. Dogs need space to move and stretch.

With my pack I’ve noticed they like to rotate between windows, taking turns at each one. The Hexa which is a six seater has a lot of space and windows which makes it a car I think my dogs will enjoying riding in and looking out of.

Of course it won’t fit all 5 of my dogs, very few cars can, but it can definitely accommodate 4 of my dogs – 1 big dog, 1 medium dog and 2 small dogs – with ease.

 

Tata Hexa Soft Edges

Soft Edges and Smooth Contours for Safety

 
Many people use seat belts for their dogs in cars, I prefer to let them move about and make themselves comfortable. It’s an arguable point but it’s what seems to work for my dogs.

However allowing free movement requires that the cabin be a safe space in which the dog does not get hurt. There should be no sharp edges and protrusions that can cause injury.

The Hexa has soft touch interiors, all the surfaces feel soft to the touch. They aren’t cushioned or squishy but neither are they plasticky. All edges are well rounded and there are no sharp edges.

 

Tata Hexa Drive

Smooth Both in Acceleration and Braking

 
I don’t like jerky drives, I hate being thrown forward and back. The dogs don’t like it either. Sudden acceleration and braking throws them off balance and disorients them.

It’s this jerky movement that is one of the main reasons dogs have motion sickness and may dislike cars. But jerky driving isn’t just about driver skill, it’s also about the car and its built.

Over the weekend I got to experience both the manual and the automatic variants of the Hexa. In both versions I found the drive to be smooth. The car accelerated and braked with minimum jerk, and there was barely any body roll too. Even in the off road test, the car controlled sudden braking well with its EBP (electronic brake prefill) technology.

 

Tata Hexa Cooling

Uniform Cooling Across the Car with Climate Control

 
Cars can easily become ovens for dogs. Without the constant movement of cool air dogs can over heat quickly inside a car and even suffer a heat stroke.

Keeping windows open when driving is one solution, but this is a dangerous thing to do. Dogs have been known to impulsively jump out of cars, get their heads stuck in windows and even get hit by high-speed insects and debris when they stick their heads out.

The safest and best option is to keep your windows closed and the air-conditioning running. However in most cars, it’s only the front row or first two rows that have air vents, and this makes for bad air flow.

In the Tata Hexa though, each row and seat has its own air vent and the fans for the passengers in the front and the back can be controlled independently, so there are no extreme temperature pockets and there is uniform cooling across the car. The air-conditioning also has climate control for cooling relative to the outside temperature.

 

Tata Hexa Music System

A Silent Cabin and Surround Sound Music System

 
Dogs startle and get agitated at sudden loud sounds, so a noisy truck coming too close or a loud honk next to the car makes dogs jump out of their skin.

White noise or music reduces the effect of the loud noises outside but in most cars the music across the car isn’t balanced and its louder at the back than in front. Now take into consideration that a dog hears 10 times what we do, can you imagine how loud the music would be to them.

The Tata Hexa however wins on both counts. The cabin is super silent, so silent in fact that, the person sitting right at the back can hear clearly the driver speak in a normal voice in the front. And the music system is top-notch with JBL speakers spread all around the car to give surround sound so you can keep the volume low and yet hear each note clearly. Together they make for a comforting atmosphere inside the car.

 

Tata Hexa Features

All the Little Bells and Whistles

 
Apart from these features of the Hexa, the Tata Motors team has paid attention to a lot of other little things that make traveling in the Tata Hexa an enjoyable experience.

There’s a chiller above the glove box where you can keep food and water cool with the help of the ac. So, you can have chilled water even on a hot day! And the windows have built-in sunscreens you can deploy easily to keep the harsh sun out.

Another add-on that wow’ed me was the carrier that can be added to the roof to make for more storage space. With the dogs taking up all the cabin room, the roof storage is critical.

Tata Hexa Carrier

 

Tata Hexa Air Bags

6 Airbags!

 
This is an excellent safety feature but just like with little children, airbags are not safe for dogs and can hurt them badly when they deploy. This feature was and is one of my biggest concerns but it seems like they will not be a danger to the dogs based on the image above, actually they might be great for the safety of the dogs.

 

Tata Hexa Logo

Summary and Parting Words

 
This was my first ever automatic SUV experience and what an experience it was. I enjoyed driving the car and was surprised by the control and ease of driving. It felt like a big car and yet didn’t feel like it.

The steering wheel gives lots of feedback and is very responsive. Not having to worry about gears on bad roads and traffic was such a blessing. I’m completely convinced about the automatic version except that it does not have all the driving modes and 4×4 option of a manual drive.

If you are a family with dogs, this is a car you should definitely consider. :)
 

Shoutout and thanks to Tata motors and Indiblogger for inviting me to test the all new Tata Hexa in Hyderabad. The Hexa will launch in January 2017 but bookings open in November 2016. Please check the Tata Motors website for more details.

October 27, 2016   4 Comments

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

 
This last week I’ve been doing a lot of crochet and that means lots of TV time. 😀 That also means, I’ve been on the look out for shows to watch and… long story short, it’s how I found out about ‘Yaaron Ki Baraat’ the new TV show about celebrity besties that starts tomorrow, Saturday 8th Oct at 8pm on Zee TV.

Now this post isn’t about ‘Yaaron Ki Baraat’ (though there is some info on it, scroll to bottom if that’s what you came for). This post is about me and my bestie and the one thing we love to do the most, together – travel. Here’s 5 moments from our travels too and reasons why I love travelling with my bestie. 😉
 

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

 

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

1. You can say anything, absolutely anything

 
Best friends don’t judge, that means you can say anything without having to worry about being embarrassed. And when you are travelling it’s wonderful to have someone along who you can say anything to.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

2. You can say nothing, and that’s fine too

 
With best friends silences are always comfortable. Some silences are uncomfortable but with a bestie you don’t need words, silence is golden and can say so much.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

3. Because they always get your jokes

 
Best friends always get your jokes, even if they don’t laugh at it sometimes. But isn’t it great to travel with someone who understands your mind and it’s workings.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

4. Sometimes you just need a cuddle

 
It’s true, besties are the best huggers, ever! And, it’s also true that, when you look back at all those lovey-dovey poses, it’ll bring a 100 watt smile to your face.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

5. You’ll have an adventure, guaranteed

 
I’ve done some of the craziest things ever with my bestie, some of them impromptu and oh the adventures we’ve had together! Best friends share a craziness and that makes for fun travel.

My bestie and I, boy! have we got stories to tell from our travels. The time we impulsively took an auto up a mist covered Talacavery and found not a soul on top. It was just us and the mountain. :) Another time we took a motorcycle trip to test my new bike, and enjoyed our time so much on the road, we had to race the sun to return before dark. 😀 And then there are all those times we’ve danced around a campfire with no care in the world. Journeys with best friends is the best kind of travel, ever!

What say you? :)

Now as promised, some info on the show because my bestie is a huge bollywood trivia queen and I know she’ll love this show.

Yaaron Ki Baarat (Read – Vivo Smartphone presents Yaaron Ki Baraat co-powered by Amazon.in and Brooke Bond Red Label) is a show that will put celebrity friendships to test through a series of fun challenges and tasks. The first one has Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan. And the hosts are Sajid Khan and Riteish Deshmukh. To me the combination sounds like entertainment. The first episode airs on Saturday, 8th October at 8 PM as Zee TV.

5 Reasons To Travel With Your Bestie

October 7, 2016   No Comments