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Category — Reviews

Book Review: Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde
 

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Grace Dixie, a young woman from a small town in Texas, has had her heart broken. She decides that the best way to deal with such a situation is to pack her bags and move to a new country. Luck is on her side, and she quickly gets a job as a runner on a documentary being filmed in India.

Thus, begins her roller-coaster ride filled with mad decisions, new friendships, curries, stomach aches and forbidden romance.
 

Goodness Gracious Gracie by Anya Wylde
Title: Goodness Gracious Gracie
Author: Anya Wylde
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Amazon CreateSpace (May 24th 2018)
Genre: Rom-Com, India
Read: ebook

Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 
 
 

My Review:

Note: I received a complimentary ARC copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

Cover: Simple and nice but not just ‘it’.

Paper and font: Easy on the eyes.

Readability, language: Simple and Funny.

Why did I pick this book: I absolutely love Anya Wylde’s writing style with a touch of Wodehouse, RK Narayan, Heyer, and her very own sense of humour that has me rolling with laughter. Her books are the perfect ‘pick-me-up’. Now, on to Goodness Gracious Gracie.

Like Indian food, it’s like nothing else

Gracie, runs away from her family vacation to join the crew of a documentary film being shot on an Indian business tycoon. Her best friend is getting engaged; she had presumed they would have a happily ever after and now she’s heart broken. She’s running away from it all to India, only the tycoon youngest son is smoulderingly handsome and nothing goes according to Gracie’s plans.

An alliterative title, Goodness Gracious Gracie rolls of the tongue nicely and suits the heroine and theme perfectly. The cover though nice, didn’t please me over much. I’ve loved Wylde’s previous covers and this one I feel lacks the oomph.

Goodness Gracious Gracie is a cliched romance plot thrown into the pan with Indian spices and served with a tadka. From the moment the heroine meets the hero at the start of the book, I knew what was coming, the heated chemistry, the stolen moments, the denial, the resistance, the final submission… it’s all there, and yet like Indian food, it’s like nothing else.

An ‘Indianess’ not seen often

Like her previous book in the Monsoon Series, Love Muffin and Chai Latte, Goodness Gracious Gracie is also set in India, in Mumbai and Goa during the peak of the Monsoon. Anya Wylde uses Indian people, our culture, the climate & weather, the cities and all that’s Indian to further her story. Her grasp of India and it’s nuances has me impressed.

There is an ‘Indianess’ to her writing, an understanding of India not seen often in non-Indian writers and it shows in her Indian characters. Gracie Dixie is a Texan gal, and half the crew is a Irish but everyone else in Indian. The hero Veer is a tall, dark and handsome millionaire, kind, thoughtful and family oriented, the man of many an Indian girl’s dreams.

His family seems perfectly cut out of an Ekta Kapoor serial – Paramjeet, a patriarchal father who’ll do anything to further his business, Ranjeet, a good-for-nothing son who doles out profound wisdom, a second son Cuckoo, who’s happy with a simple life, Natasha, a rebellious self-made daughter fighting the patriarchy and Veer, the dutiful youngest son, poised to take over the empire.

A romantic comedy with a strong feminist streak

The heroine, Gracie Dixie, has all the aplomb and niceness of a Texan girl. She embraces and experiences India with a naivety that Anya Wylde uses to hilarious effect. I’m still laughing about her first experience of a Mumbai flood and her fear of drowning in knee-deep water.

Goodness Gracious Gracie is a romantic comedy with a strong feminist streak. All the women in the story have strong characters and issues they must battle. Paramjeet’s Irish second wife, Liz who will forever be a foreigner in the land she has adopted, ice queen Mia, who has little soft spots in her hard exterior, fiery Natasha, who’s rebellion on a matter of prickle may cost her everything and Smita, who loves Ranjeet but cannot tell him.

Parting thoughts

Anya Wylde has drawn out an engaging tale, a feel good romance with the right amount of steaminess, adventure, drama and excitement. I couldn’t put the book down once I started. The book sets a good pace until climax with relevant sub-plots and intrigues that add to the story.

Why are you still here? Go get Goodness Gracious Gracie and get started. And while your at it, buy Anya Wylde’s other books too, you’re not going to be stopping at one. 😀

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

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.

 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter
 
 

May 29, 2018   No Comments

Amazon Original Breathe: Why You Should Watch

Amazon Original Breathe

Amazon Original Breathe

TV Must Change!

 
5 years ago, Che and I gave up on TV, we realised we were not watching anything worthwhile, mostly we were surfing channels, killing time. However this move didn’t reduce our screen time, nah, but it did now become more quality screen time as we became selective about what we watched, even in what we binge watched.

Having access to content though isn’t enough, as most good content is non-Indian. I’ve grown up to Hum-Log, Nukkad, Hum Panch, Udaan, Malgudi Days and the like, and have longed for good, meaningful entertainment for many years, ever since Kyuki… So… Ofcourse I’m thrilled to see Amazon and the like investing in making a series of Indian ‘Original Series’.

Giants like Amazon investing in Originals in India, ups the ante, it makes for more varied quality entertainment, gives a lot of actors and artists more prospects and opportunities, and finally gives the Sony’s and Zee’s a run for their money and TRP’s. I’d like to see small production houses that have been creating great content on Youtube getting the backing of these big boys, I’d like to see them create more of their brand of content. We so so need good Indian entertainment!

Second Indian Amazon Original Breathe

 
Moving on, the second Indian Amazon Original Breathe has finished airing and I have thoughts on it, but lets start with a gist of the story.

Amazon Original Breathe

Amazon Original Breathe

Josh, a 6 year old with -AB negative blood has a congenital lung disease. He has 6 months to live unless he can get a transplant. However there are obstacles, Josh’s blood group is rare and he is 4th on the recipient list. His father Danny, who had promised his mother before she died to take care of their son, decides to take matters into his own hands and move his son up the ladder by killing donors.

Parallel Plot: Kabir Sawant, – an alcoholic cop, in the middle of a divorce and recovering from his daughter’s tragic death – starts to notice discrepancies in the deaths of citizens. He starts to investigate and as he tracks down the killer, he finds himself getting personally involved.

Anything more might be a spoiler…

Breathe Amazon Prime Original

Breathe Amazon Prime Original

My Two Paise…

 
Let’s start at the beginning. The core idea of Breathe itself is ludicrous. That a man killing so many people just to save his son makes for a good story, is plain silly. But let’s keep the unbelievable away for a bit…

Danny finds out that Josh is 4th of the recipient list, his reaction – start killing donors. But why not kill recipients? Wouldn’t they be the more acceptable deaths? Wouldn’t that move Josh up the ladder faster? Why kill absolutely healthy people?

Why does a cop notice deaths of regular people? Yes, there are irregularities, but really, in a city like Mumbai would these deaths standout? And would an alcoholic cop with severe emotional trauma be able to notice? Really? Are we saying alcohol promotes productivity?

That said, I watched Breathe right to the end, all 8 episodes. I had to know the end, would they do the cliched, would they end with the only societally acceptable proper way out? Breathe didn’t disappoint.

Watching 8 episodes wasn’t traumatic, frankly I quite enjoyed it. The series is strong, dark, hard and in your face. The ideas are ludicrous yes, but the series is entertaining and acting good, even if a little over done. The plot rolls out well and I found myself wanting to see the next part, each time an episode ended.

The story is unbelievable, I’d never do what Danny chose to, the idea wouldn’t even occur to me, the fact that it’s expressed in so much detail in Breathe disturbs me. I’d have chosen to live out what’s left to it’s fullest and go with a bang, and leave the recipient list to destiny. But, that wouldn’t make for a story and that’s the reason you should watch the Amazon Original Breathe.

We need more Original content that is Indian, we need more varied content, more intelligent content, series length that is tied by storylines and not TRP’s, stories that are relevant to our time and lives. That is why more people must watch Breathe, the Amazon Prime Original and share their views, for these series must be encouraged and supported. TV must change!

I’ve been strong with my words and expressions, so let me be clear, I’d give Breathe 3.5/5, a sure watch. The freedom of imagination is a crucial freedom, what may be ludicrous in my imagination world can be real in another’s. So, this world of Breathe could be real and when seen that way, this Amazon Original Series, Breathe is entertainment packed!

February 28, 2018   No Comments

Audio Book Review: The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda, Narrated by Full Cast

The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda
 

The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda

Narrated by a Full Cast

Summary:

(Goodreads)

If you’re looking for trouble, you’ve found it. The name’s Jake G. Panda, and trouble seems to follow me wherever I go. I work in the protection racket at a flophouse for endangered critters called the Last Resort. I’m the hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It’s my job to keep these guests safe and outta harm’s way. This is the first of my many misadventures. A wild and woolly mystery involving a lost suitcase, a green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing animals. I’m calling this jungle noir The Case of the Cursed Dodo.

This hilarious first instalment of The Endangered Files follows Jake, a hardboiled panda detective, and an unusual cast of endangered creatures on a globe-trotting adventure that will appeal to young and old alike.

 
The Case of the Cursed Dodo by Jake G. Panda, Narrated by Full CastTitle: The Case of the Cursed Dodo
Author: Jake G. Panda
Narrator: Cast – Michael McConnohie, J.W. Terry, Dave Mallow, Molly Brandenburg, Antoinette Attell, Ian Whitcomb, Barbara Watkins, Bobb Lynes.
Paperback: 172 pages/2 hours 34 minutes
Publisher: Woolly Family Studios, October 3rd 2017 (first published November 23rd 2014)
Genre: Mystery, Middle Grade, Family Audio Drama
Read: audio book

Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

 

My Review:

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

Cover: Cliched Mysterious

Narration: Entralling

Readability, language: Simple and Easy

Why did I choose this book: I was looking for an easy listen. And this was a simple easy listen, just not how I had expected it.

I’ve been listening to audio books for two years now and yet this is the first time I’ve experienced a book like The Case of the Cursed Dodo. This book is a full production with multiple voice actors, sound effects and background score. It was like listening to a movie, and in my mind I could see it all in vivid technicolour.

A mystery thriller, The Case of the Cursed Dodo starts off with Jake G Panda, the in-house detective at ‘Wildlife’s Last Resort’ receiving a call that gets cut-off mid-conversation. He sets out to find his friend, the Professor, who has disappeared. Along the way he gets kidnapped by poachers, rescued by the Endangered Underground and finds a mysterious Jade bird. Now he must solve the mystery of the bird before it’s too late.

First Impressions

It was the title and cover that caught my eye first when I came across The Case of the Cursed Dodo. It was just so like those Famous Five, Three Investigators, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I’ve read ages ago. The cliche was comforting. The blurb closed the deal as I wanted a simple easy listen. And it was a simple easy listen, just not how I had expected it.

The Case of the Cursed Dodo as an audio book is an experience that will enthral. The production makes it a different thing altogether, it’s no longer a simple children’s mystery with a whole lot of varied endangered animals.

Plot, Setting, Characters

The story begins at the Wildlife’s Last Resort, a flophouse for animals in trouble and quickly becomes a globe-trotting adventure, involving flying to Marrakech by Tortoise Air, searching The Critter Bazaar, escaping by The Creature Comfort Express and landing up in Extinction City.

This may be a children’s book but the play of words will be absolutely enjoyable for adults. I laughed many a time at the puns and old clichés. Have you spotted some of them? It was way too funny.

There is a whole forest of anthropomorphized animals as characters in the story. Here are a few – Jake G. Panda a panda, The Professor a.k.a. Harry a hispid hare, Rose an El Hierro giant lizard, Ernie an Asian elephant, Daisy Condor a California condor, Madame Baloni a wild yak, and Bedouin Joe a large Bimini boa among others.
I enjoyed getting to know the whole bunch of animals, each with their own quirks of dress, makeup and mannerisms. They add so much to the story.

Note for Kids

If you have kids this a great book to introduce them to a plethora of animals. There is also a Resources Section with links to fun activities and animal organisations.

Audio Book Experience

Like I was saying earlier The Case of the Cursed Dodo as an audio book is an experience to be had. Each character has his or her own voice actor, the narration is excellent with each chapter starting out with a recap and scene setting, and the story progressing with sound effects and a background score. The language is simple and easy. The story has a good pace and an unexpected climax, there’s loads of action too!

I absolutely enjoyed The Case of the Cursed Dodo and heartily vouch for it. This is a book for kids for sure (I lent it to a 10 year old and she sat still for almost the whole book!). But it’s also for adults who enjoy verbal humour and word-play. :)

Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Marc Secchia - AranyaJake G. Panda is a wildlife investigator. A hardboiled Winnie-the-Pooh. He likes bamboo and saving endangered animals. He is the author of The Endangered Files, a mystery series about his misadventures in the protection business.

His partner in crime, the fella who helps write these books because, let’s be honest, it’s not easy typing with big, clunky bear paws, resides somewhere in New England. He has written his fair share of stuff, mostly for the big screen. And some of it has actually been projected. He likes to keep a low profile and lets Jake do all the talking.
 
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodReads │ Twitter – @jakeGPandaPIFacebook Page
 

December 16, 2017   1 Comment

Book Review: The Jeera Packer by Prashant Yadav

The Jeera Packer by Prashant Yadav
 

The Jeera Packer by Prashant Yadav

Summary:

(Goodreads)

I once changed the history of Uttar Pradesh state with a gun and a finger. One shot, one man. Right man, wrong man. But that was thirty years ago. I shot people through their heads then. I pack jeera in a basement now.
This is me and here is my story.

He was the best sharpshooter in the state. A true bullet artist. But he gave it all up to lead a happy, normal, stable life . . . with his loving wife and dear son.

And that proved to be his undoing.

Resonant and deeply affecting, The Jeera Packer is the gripping tale of a man who after three decades of playing the happy family man returns to his profession of old for one final work—to shoot the chief minister.Convinced that this is his raison d’etre, will he manage to pull off this one last act, as his concluding hat tip to the man he could have been? Will he be able to brush away the jeera dust and rediscover himself? Or has the middle-aged family man already throttled the sharpshooter in him?

 
The Jeera Packer by Prashant Yadav
Title: The Jeera Packer
Author: Prashant Yadav
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing (December 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 in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Old-world Gangster!

Paper & Font: Ebony & Ivory with easy to read font

Readability, language: Easy with Lots of Bollywood references

The Jeera Packer is the story of a sharpshooter turned good boy. Now a jeera packer, he lives a simple life with his wife and son. But he’s troubled with the thought of his life’s achievement, his Taj Mahal. To satisfy this emptiness he sets out to kill the Chief Minister, believing it his raison d’être. It’s a tough goal with hurdles and a lot to lose. Life after will never be the same again. Will the Jeera Packer really thrown it all away, his good life for a moment of glory?

Impressions

 
I hadn’t realised it as I read the book but now I’m thinking of it, I just don’t remember the protagonist being named, he is simply the Jeera Packer through the book. Hence apt title, eh? The cover with it’s old-world UP gangster feel and title written in Hindi, totally appeals to me.

The plot isn’t like anything I’ve read before. Prashant Yadav managed to surprise me a few times. Set in UP, the backdrop of central India adds to the story & politics; in my minds eye, it was like watching an Anurag Kashyap movie. The story holds a good pace with a climax I never saw coming.

Characters

 
The characters of The Jeera Packer are sketched out well, and each character grows and gets richer as the story goes along. The local dada who is now a The Dada in politics, the Professor his brother who loves him yet yearns the chair, his steward Lal Mani who has proved his genius by surviving, and the Jeera Packer, a man who left Dada’s side to live the normal life and now wants to kill him. There are a lot of supporting characters too, each one adding meaning to the tale.

Story and Style

 
Prashant Yadav has a different writing style, the likes of which I’ve not read before. It took the first few chapters for me to grasp his style, but after I got the groove of it, the story rolled out beautifully. The language of the book is simple with lots of Bollywood dialogues and references thrown in. I enjoyed and even laughed out at some of the references and connections.
There’s a lot of Bullet philosophy and trivia I connected to in the book too. I smiled many a time at the references of a fellow Bulleteer.

In Short

 
I enjoyed reading The Jeera Packer, it’s good masala, an Indian Mid-West tale with a good pace and strong dialogues. If you like dark, emotional, filmy, action novels, The Jeera Packer would be perfect for you.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Prashant Yadav - The Jeera Packer
A little boy who never grew up. A wise man who didn’t need to. A smartass who didn’t bother. Prashant Yadav went to IIT Kharagpur, IIM Ahmedabad & Stockholm School of Economics. He runs his own company, advises start-ups and practices karate.
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodReads │ Twitter – @pr_ashantyadav
 
 

September 23, 2017   No Comments

Audio Book Review: Aranya by Marc Secchia, Narrated by Siromi Arserio

Aranya by Marc Secchia
 

Aranya by Marc Secchia

Narrated by Siromi Arserio

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago, Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonising, building and warring. Now, the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom–the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

 
Aranya by Marc Secchia, Narrated by Siromi Arserio
Title: Aranya
Author: Marc Secchia
Narrator: Siromi Arserio
Paperback: 454 pages/14h 33m
Publisher: Amazon CreateSpace (June 13th 2014)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dragons
Read: audio book

Stars: ★★★★☆
Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

 

My Review:

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

Cover: So-so

Narration: Clear but Grows on you

Readability, language: Easy and Simple

Why did I choose this book: I haven’t read a dragon story since Eragon and Aranya promised even more, a shape-shifter dragon!

Aranya, Princess of Immadia is taken hostage by Sylakia, a island country that has ruthlessly conquered the island world. Aranya dreams of a black dragon and can set things on fire when she loses control of her emotions but she is unable to understand what it all means, until she gets thrown off a cliff for high treason.

Falling to her death, she transforms and finds her true self, an amethyst dragon. Flying away from death she sets out to learn more about herself and bring the tyrant Sylakian empire to heel.

A dragon shape-shifter, a dragon rider, dragon monks, dragon ships, an island world, tyrant rulers, and more made for a plot that felt quite new. The story centers around Aranya as she learns what it means to be a dragon, in the process we get introduced to different people, places and history of the island world.

Set in a large world made up of islands, from cold Immadia to warm sunny Remoy. There are oceans, cloud lands, volcanos, and different races of people in this world. Marc Secchia brings it all to life with his words, and the flying height and sight of a dragon make it even more beautiful.

Aranya is the protagonist of the story but Zuziana, princess of Remoy has an important role to play too. Aranya first meets Zuziana in the Sylakian tower and there begins their stormy friendship. They almost can’t stand the sight of each other but circumstances bring them together and as they get to know each other, they become fast friends, with Zuziana finally becoming Dragon Aranya’s rider. There are other characters too, quite a few of them and some of them make an impression. King Baran – Aranya’s father, Riaryan – the dragon monk, Yolathion – third hammer & the man she loves.

The story is structured well with Aranya discovering her powers in the first part, then going on a journey of discovery in the next and finally fighting for a cause in the third. The start of the story is slow until Aranya shape shifts for the first time, however Marc Secchia has used these initial chapters well to establish a few ideas and relationships. Once past this the pace picks up and hold well until climax. I did feel a drop of pace though between fights which are adrenaline packed with detail.

The story has little subplots through out and most of them add to the story. At the end though a lot of new sub-plots are introduced and most of them are left as unanswered loose ends to be completed and answered.

I listened to Aranya on Audible, narrated by Siromi Arserio. The language of the book lends itself well to listening, with language being simple and easy to follow. I’m not sure if it was me or the narrator, but Siromi Arserio’s voice took some getting used to however once I did, I enjoyed listening to her right to the end, all of 14 hours and 33 minutes.

Overall Aranya was a good choice to read/listen, Marc Secchia brings a beautiful world and a beautiful dragon with magic together to spin a tale I got hooked to, I can’t wait to read book 2. If you like YA Dragon Fantasy, Aranya is just the book for you.

Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Marc Secchia - AranyaMarc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.
He’s the author of 21 fantasy books in 3 languages.
 
 
Shiromi Arserio - AranyaA native of London, England, Shiromi Arserio is a stage actor, voice talent and audiobook narrator. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. In addition to narrating dozens of audiobooks, her voice can be heard in documentaries, e-learning projects and video games such as Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion. Shiromi currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and her two furbabies.
 
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodReads │ Twitter – @MarcAuthorFacebook Page
 

August 15, 2017   1 Comment

Audio Book Review: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Narrated by Colleen Winton

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Anne, a young orphan from the fictional community of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, is sent to Prince Edward Island after a childhood spent in strangers’ homes and orphanages. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, siblings in their fifties and sixties, had decided to adopt a boy from the orphanage to help Matthew run their farm. They live at Green Gables, their Avonlea farmhouse on Prince Edward Island. Through a misunderstanding, the orphanage sends Anne Shirley.

 
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Narrator: Colleen Winton
Paperback: 320 pages/10h 7m
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press (May 30th 2013, first published 1908)
Genre: Classics, Historical, YA
Read: audio book

Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from Post Hypnotic Press via AudioBookworm Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Cover: Classic

Narration: Clear, Cheery, Engaging

Readability, language: Easy and Simple

Why did I choose this book: I first read Anne of Green Gables as a child; I must have been really young as apart from remembering that I’ve read the book, I don’t remember much else. In the last few years I have found myself wanting to read the book again, so when I received a review request for the audio version I jumped at it.

Anne of Green Gables is the story of 11 year old Anne Shirley an orphan girl who is sent to the Cuthberts by mistake. The elderly siblings Matthew and Marilla had planned to adopt a young boy to help around the farm but Anne arrives instead. Anne will have to prove she is worth keeping if she is to stay and not get sent back.

First published in 1908, this classic is over a hundred years old and yet the story resonated with me. I found myself falling in love with Anne and wishing the book would never end. The story covers 6 years of Anne’s life with the Cuthbert’s, going to school, making friends and even her changing perspective of boys.

Set on the Green Gables farm and in the fictional town of Avonlea (modeled after Montgomery’s hometown of Cavendish), Anne is a most delightful companion to explore the terrain. Montgomery’s descriptions bring it all to life in way that made me feel I was right there and Anne’s imaginings had me grinning remembering the child I was many years ago, her imagination made the trees, the greens, the lake and every thing else more that they were, packed with life, stories and beauty.

When I started out listening to Anne of Green Gables, I didn’t think I would connect with a 11 year old child, but a soon as Anne made her entry I was hooked. A chatty red head with freckles, Anne is a child in her talk and imaginings but with a knack for saying the most uncanny truths. She made me sit up and notice the world around me in a different light.

Anne is forgetful, silly, stubborn, blunt but pure at heart. She wins over not just Marilla but all the people around her, slowly but surely. She forgets to put flour in her cake, gets her best friend Diana Barry drunk by mistake, tells Mrs. Lyne just what she thinks of her and yet they can’t help but love her, for she is also the child who loves and gives with all her heart.

Marilla and Matthew are two other characters I loved. Matthew is a man of few words, simple in his ways with a quiet strength of character. He is happy to listen to Anne ramble on and on, seeing her for who she truly is. Marilla is a strict lady with rules and set ways of doing things, who starts out unsure if keeping Anne is the right thing to do but gradually is bowled over.

There are just so many things I loved about Anne, so many incidents and situations that had me smiling and laughing sometimes as Anne gets herself into a spot and then with childlike magic gets out of it too. You just can’t help falling in love with her, she’s such a kindred spirit. Through the book she grows up, slowing learning and changing into an adult and yet she still has her childlike heart, pure and in the right place.

There is so much I wanted to list out in this review, so much I wanted to say about Anne, but words don’t seem enough and I just can’t make up my mind on which incidents to relate and which dialogues to share, there are just so many. You are just going to have to read or listen to the book.

I chose to listen and I am so glad I did. Colleen Winton has done a kickass job narrating Anne of Green Gables. She brings Anne to life, at times it felt like Anne was actually here, right with me and not a 100 year old character. Her diction is clear, her voice melodious and easy on the ears. Each character intoned and voiced differently so I was never got mixed up with the characters. It was 10 hours of blissful listening and I can’t wait to get started on Anne of Avonlea, the next in the series.

I strongly suggest you read Anne of Green Gables if you haven’t already. And if you have, then listen to it, it was just such a wonderful 10 hours I spent, I want to do it all over again.

Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
L.M. Montgomery - Anne of Green GablesLucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known for Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
 
 
Colleen Winton - Anne of Green GablesColleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award. After having recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press, she has embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.
 
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodReads │ Twitter – @Post_HypnoticFacebook Page
 

LMM signed photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada / C-011299

August 5, 2017   1 Comment

Audio Book Review: Heartborn by Terry Maggert, Narrated by Julia Whelan

Heartborn by Terry Maggert
 

Heartborn by Terry Maggert

Narrated by Julia Whelan

Summary:

(Goodreads)

Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

 
Heartborn by Terry Maggert
Title: Heartborn
Author: Terry Maggert
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Paperback: 238 pages/6h 24m
Publisher: Createspace (October 2016)
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA
Read: audio book
Stars: ★★★★☆
Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

 

My Review:

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

Cover: Dark and Inviting

Narration: Clear, Crisp, Engaging

Readability, language: Easy and Simple

Why did I choose this book: The cover was what drew me in and the world of angels closed the deal for me. :)

Heartborn is the first part in a series about angels and humans. Kieron comes from a land high above, a place of violence and bloodshed. A place more like our world than the world of angels. And he has fallen, in to the human world to save the girl Livvy who has just half a heart, but her heart is failing and time is running out.

I quite liked the cover, it’s dark with an angel wing in the foreground and a cosmic background that kept drawing my eye. The title is appropriate as Kieron is Heartborn; the blurb explains this a bit more – “… a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.” and more explanations are in the story.

Plot & Characters

 
A plot that bridges the world of angels and humans, I haven’t read a book like Heartborn before. That said, it wasn’t clear to me even at the end what or how the world’s were tied-up. Hints are dropped through the book of Livvy being a saviour of the angel world but no explanations are given.

The world of angels described by Terry Maggert intrigued me with it’s human-like fallibility, deception, politics and strife. That part of world building was done well and I throughly enjoying listening to all that happened in the world above. In comparison, not much detail of the human world is given and there are more questions raised than answered.

Characters were another bit of a sore point for me. The protagonists Kieron and Livvy didn’t make much of an impact on me. They seemed shallow and insubstantial, especially when they got to kissing without much ado. However the other characters made quite an impression – Kieron’s parents – Sinoff & Vassa, Cressa the Blightwing, and Dozer – Livvy’s best friend; they hold so much promise and I can’t wait to see more of them in the next book ‘Moonborn’.

Writing & Narration

 
Terry Maggert’s writing is simple and language easy, I didn’t have trouble following the story and the pace was good, building well towards the climax. I didn’t see the end coming and it did surprise me, brownie points for it’s unexpected and non-clichéd, non-Happily Ever After end.

My favourite part of the story was Chapter 16, the longest chapter, an hour and 8 minutes but packed with action, so much action I relistened to the whole chapter to relive the action sequence.

Julia Whelan was a treat to listen to, a soothing clear crisp voice, it was easy to follow her every word through the 6 hours and 24 minutes of listening time. She has done a good job of intonation and voice modulation, with shifting speaking styles to differentiate the characters.

Heartborn: In Summary

 
In summary, I enjoyed listening to Heartborn, both in story and narration. I can’t wait for the next book – Moonborn to know what happens next in the story. The world of angels Terry Maggert has created, has me fascinated and hooked. Heartborn comes strongly recommended if you are into Paranormal Fantasy.

Buy On: Amazon US | Audible | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Terry Maggert - Heartborn
Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie.
Terry Maggert lives near Nashville, Tennessee. When not writing, he teaches history, grows wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restores his 1967 Mustang.
 
 
 
 
Julia Whelan - Heartborn
Julia Whelan has appeared in many films and television series, most notably ABC’s Once And Again. She’s recorded hundreds of novels across all genres and has received multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. She has repeatedly been named one of Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voices and was Audible’s Narrator of the Year.
 
 
 
 
Author Links:
WebsiteGoodReads │ Twitter – @TerryMaggertFacebook Page
 
 

June 12, 2017   No Comments

Review of Sorts: Homecoming of Terror – House of Cards (Season 5)

House of Cards Season 5 Zee Cafe

Homecoming of Terror – House of Cards (Season 5)

 
House of Cards is a show I love to hate. It’s dark and morbid, and is all about how bad things can get, how bad people can be and just how many holes our political system has. As a story it shocks and disgusts me, as people are used and abused in the fight for power.

Evil has its own attraction though, it’s own magic and even if you don’t give in to it, it’s still facinating to watch it from the sidelines. I confess, I’m attracted to the morbidity of House of Cards and I just can’t stop watching it. 😀

When season 4 ended with Claire Underwood breaking the fourth wall for the first time in the series by looking the audience in the eye, it was a ringer for more to come or so I hoped. Frank Underwood maybe be the main protagonist but it is Claire who has had my attention through the last few seasons.

Claire Underwood House of Cards

Claire Underwood as a character has been building and getting stronger. And it is she who opens this latest season talking straight at the camera. If the first episode is an indication, then there are more things to come with Claire Underwood this season.

The Underwood’s though are still keeping up their classic hustle, juggling and controlling people and situations. And when nothing else works, creating situations and then controlling them. Frank’s is a reign of terror and chaos.

But this is also election year and so, the games, the ploys, the setups, the trip-ups, they are all, all the more visible. There is no way the world of House of Cards can be real and yet seeing the blatant use of every loop hole, the lack of basic decency and the loss of essential humanity is a shocker. The depravity of it all is scary.

Will and Hannah Conway House of Cards Season 5

Since it’s election year, there is also an insight to be had into what it takes to be a power couple. The single minded focus, the team work, the dedication, the price of it all and the toll it takes on relationships and family. And we get to see it all not just with the Underwood’s but also Frank’s republican opponent Will Conway and his wife Hannah.

House of Cards is a show I love to hate and yet I can’t stop myself from watching it. Maybe the shows depravity says something about me, yet, I can’t stop until the end. I’ve started and watched one episode, now there will be no stopping, the whole season will be watched. 😛

“Frank Underwood is coming to India with the television premiere of House Of Cards Season 5 on Saturday, 3rd June, 5 PM onwards, only on Zee Café!” #HOConZCafe

Shout out and thanks to Indiblogger and Zee Cafe for the opportunity to watch and review House of Cards, Season 5 Episode 1.

Photo Credit: HOC Poster, Claire Underwood, Will and Hannah Conway

June 2, 2017   No Comments

Book Review: Ponni’s Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan

Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan
 

Ponni’s Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan

Summary:

(Goodreads)
This is an English Translation Of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan.
Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Ponniyin Selvan is a masterpiece that has enthralled generations of Tamil readers. Many authors have written phenomenal books in Tamil literature after Kalki Krishnamurthy, but Ponniyin Selvan remains the most popular, widely-read novel. It has just the right mixture of all things that makes an epic – political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, huge dollops of romance, infidelity, seduction, passion, alluring women, unrequited love, sacrifice and pure love.

 
Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan
Title: Ponni’s Beloved
Author: Sumeetha Manikandan
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Indreads (February 16th 2017)
Genre: Indian Fiction, Indian Epic, Tamil Literature, Translation
Read: eBook
Stars: ★★★★★
Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

 

My Review:

Note: I received this book from the author via The Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

Though Ponni’s Beloved came to me for review, I thought the best person to review this book would be my MIL. Mom has read the original by Kalki and so is the best equipped to read and compare the books. The following are her words… [With a few of my edits 😛 ]

Mom’s Review of Ponni’s Beloved 😀

The original Ponniyin Selvan (Son of Kaveri) by Kalki Krishnamurthy with narrative pictures by the artist Maniam is one of the most unforgettable novels for Tamil readers.

In English Sumeetha Manikandan has captured the essence of the novel very well. The contents and narration of the story is almost the same as the original. She has not deviated in any way with the description. The flow of the story, the descriptions and the explanations were very good.

In Tamil the descriptions of the areas and the celebration especially in Adi Perukku (Chapter 1), Gokulashtami (Chapter43) & the Kuravai Koothu are so elaborate that the reader gets immersed in the story and feels like he/she is among the characters.
Sumeetha too has tried to involve the reader with her way of narration, however some of it is lost in translation. I had never expected that anyone could translate this without spoiling the flow of the story, but Sumeetha Manikandan’s Ponni’s Beloved comes quite close to the original.

Ponni’s Beloved has good momentum and once you start you can’t stop. The author has also used a lot of Tamil words which add to the feel of the tale. The book also has a bibliography at the end.

Some things that stood out in comparison to the original –

Kadambur described here is not the one near Kovilpatti. The hero Vanthiya devan is travelling from Kanchi to Thanjavur, so the place should be somewhere between Kallakurichi & Ulundurpet.

The one thing which is very much missing is the pictures of the artist Maniam, which added to the narrative along with the writer’s description in the original.

The character ‘Idupankari’ is spelt wrong. The sound of the name being important as Idumpankari means a person giving trouble.

Avvaiyar is blessed with old age, a boon she gets from Lord Ganesh and not Lord Muruga.

Parting Words…

I enjoyed reading Sumeetha Manikandan version of Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan and look forward to part 2.

Buy On: Amazon US | Amazon India

About the Author:

 
Ponni's Beloved by Sumeetha Manikandan
Sumeetha Manikandan is a bookaholic, thinker, feminist and a daydreamer, she reads across genres and is a crazy fan of history, romance and science fiction novels.
An avid reader of historical novels, she has been translating Kalki Krishnamurthy’s classic Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan for the past ten years and hopes to translate more of his novels to English.
Sumeetha is married to filmmaker K.S. Manikandan and lives with her nine-year-old daughter in Chennai.”
 
Author Links:
Website/BlogGoodReads │ Twitter – @sumeetha2 │ Facebook – Page
 
 

May 27, 2017   2 Comments