Thursday, November 28, 2013

WOMANIFESTO - TO LIVE, NOT JUST EXIST!


The oxford dictionary describes woman as:

1. An adult human female

2. A female worker or employee

3. A wife or lover.

(Origin from Old English words for Wife and Man.)

The same dictionary defines man as:

1. An adult human male

2. A husband or lover

3. A person

4. Human beings in general

But what amused me so much, was a footnote added, highlighted in a box,

“Many people now think that the use of the word man to mean human beings in general is outdated or sexist. You could use the human race or human kind instead”

          What the makers of the dictionary forgot to mention was, women were also advanced species that are, on an average intelligent beings capable of doing work on par with men, (which they were previously branded incapable of) and are having about as much grit and determination as a man (again a fact looked upon with an amused incredulity even by the politest of men). And that many women had to fight a long and hard battle just to change the word ‘chairman’ to ‘chairperson’. Yes, it is an ongoing, perpetual, perennial fight.

          But it has sadly also become a fight in which even the supporters of the cause have become hypocrites and opportunists. Most of the time when people flare up on hearing about women abuse and a sad story of their fellow sister the indignation is laced with just a merest hint of a patronising air. People have become followers of this cause just because it is rightly wrong to go against the popular opinion. There are people who look at niches in which their names can be noted as supporters of a noble cause. Because supporting women is the ‘in’ thing to do.

          Then there is the rare breed of people who really do care. These people do not shout out their ideals as slogans. Instead, they silently do their bit and hope for the best. They look for survivors of abuse; ask them to share their horrific experience. These are the set of people who are not ashamed to admit that they have gone through hell. They are also ready to motivate others who have gone through the same hell. This is one such attempt to do something that matters. People across the world have lent their voice for a campaign, to honour a brave-heart who lost her life, to remember her suffering and try to be brave, to make sure there are no more Nirbhayas. Come see what it’s all about, at Womanifesto – TO LIVE, NOT JUST EXIST!

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik: A Review


BOOK TITLE: Epic Fail

ISBN: 9780062093257, 9780061921261

AUTHOR: Claire LaZebnik

GENRE: Fiction/Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 180

FORMAT: ePub

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

SUMMARY:

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you.

Case in point:

- As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school--not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

- As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn't exactly on everyone's must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

          When Elise's beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince's best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/20539669-dhivya-balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A friend (chic-lit fan) lent me her e-reader to read this book.

REVIEW:

          There is something inexplicably relaxing about reading a chic lit. In hectic schedules, for fans of strictly story bound and content-heavy books titles, chic lit novels come as a breather. So I took up this novel as a friend suggested. And to be honest, it was nothing more and nothing less than expected.

          The story is a first person narrative of Elise, who has moved into a new town. Amidst three sisters and parents who are teachers of her school, Elise finds it hard to adapt, even though she and her elder sister are immediately absorbed into a hip group of friends. But Elise and Juliana are not star struck even though their classmates are off springs of famous movie stars and TV personalities.

          Elise finds herself attracted towards the outcast Webster, who is, for some reason avoided by his classmates and the school in general. She also thinks the star kid of the school, Derek is an obnoxious jerk. But as is expected in such novels, her notions are soon challenged and prince charming wins her hand in a happy ending.

          Basically, the book does not have any defined, serious plot. It is actually about a set of kids who face situations related to high school. There is an underlying message of adapting to new environments. But it is more about a romance strain between the lead and the star kid.

          Characterization is totally relatable and believable. There are no over the top heroics or fantastic elements. Even misunderstandings are acceptable. The lead is down to earth and her equation with her siblings is thoroughly life like.

          The author’s writing style is fluid, with no jargon or words that demand a dictionary to be made sense of. The sentences are small, breakable and not convoluted. The style is pleasant on the mind and easily visualized in the reader’s mind without too many descriptive words.

          The book is like looking through the diary of a teenage girl who has managed to record the events of a few days in her life in excruciating detail. And as is, we aren’t able to help the feeling of an abrupt end with not all problems solved. It seems (unintentionally so) that the author rushed up the ending a bit.

WHAT I LIKED: The characterisation, writing style, simple plot

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The abrupt end, and the explanation of events that have no obvious relevance to the plot.

VERDICT: Go for it, if you want to read a smooth, light novel.

RATING: 3.5/5 (that is because there was no real purpose/plot. The book is otherwise good in its story and writing.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

          Claire lives in Los Angeles with her TV writer husband and four children. She is the author if the novels: If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, The Smart One And The Pretty One, Knitting Under The Influence and Same As It Never Was. She is also co author of Overcoming Autism and Growing up on the spectrum. You can visit her online at www.clairelazebanik.com

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs. 250.60 for kindle edition

BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/Epic-Fail-Claire-LaZebnik-ebook/dp/B004NNUWWQ

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri : A Review

 
BOOK TITLE: The Homing Pigeons

ISBN: 9380349912

AUTHOR: Sid Bahri

GENRE: Fiction - Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 328

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Nimmi Vashi @ The Readers' Cosmos sent us this book as a part of her review program. We thank her for the same.

SUMMARY:: In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever…..
When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…..
They say Homing Pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines

REVIEW:
Love,lust,prejudice, male prostitution, Self-examination, contemplation and fickle minded confused people. That just about sums up the the story line.

The book is aptly titled “the homing pigeons”, for the homing pigeons always returns home to its mate, no matter how “far” it travels. That's exactly what happens with our protagonists. The above line can't possibly qualify as a spoiler can it? Putting two and two together, one can really predict the climax. That's how the book is written. A love story where the boy loves the girl and girl loves the boy, they don't tell each other, go on with lives,   meet midway and rekindle love, only to break up and drift apart? And it's titled “the homing pigeons”. It’s obvious isn't it?

Then where is the usual twist element? What is a love story sans a good twist! Well! There is plenty of it in this book. In fact, too many twists for my taste. You have decided that your lovers are going to be united, you have titled the book so, what is the point in putting a twist in every other chapter?

I guess the writer saw this question coming. His tag line – Not all love stories are perfect, but then neither are people – answers my question. Our protagonists’, like every other people on planet earth are imperfect. They have their own insecurities along with a bloated ego causing them to take all possible wrong decisions. Reality- bites!
Though one thing I found a bit far-fetched was Adiyta being “forced” to take up prostitution after losing his high paying job. In this patriarchal society, that idea seems more than far-fetched, it's virtually impossible.

The story is rather complex. The narrative forces the reader to concentrate and keeps them hooked. Reason: It's a twin narrative with a perpetual time travel. If you stop paying attention you might end up feeling disoriented and confused.

The book sort of left me feeling wistful thought the writer signs off in a positive note. For a debutant, Sid Bahri has done a great job. The writing was simple and crisp. He has beautifully dealt with usual prejudices of the conservative Indian society.

Love stories aren't exactly my cup of tea, especially if they are this mushy - “ Oh!I am in madly love ” sort. Thank god the writer spared me of that agony! Thanks Sid!

VERDICT: Give it a read. But a word of caution – Don't go for it if you are already depressed.

RATING: 3.8 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sid has been a necktie-clad executive in the corporate world. He has also been a necktie- clad waiter. He has written for charity and writes for writing for passion.  

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs.150


NOTE: This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program". To get free books write to  thereaderscosmos@gmail.com

Murder At Cold Creek College by Christa Nardi : A Review

Murder At Cold Creek College (Cold Creek #1)
BOOK TITLE: Murder At Cold Creek College
ISBN: 1492323829
AUTHOR: Christa Nardi
GENRE: Fiction – Crime & Mystery
NUMBER OF PAGES: 340
FORMAT: Digital (PDF)
SERIES / STANDALONE: Cold Creek #1
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The writer mailed us a copy for review. We thank her for it!
REVIEW:
When the writer contacted us for the review, we sort of jumped into it right away. Murder of a Womanizer, Psychologist in the play. Bring it on! Given my dear co-blogger's pile of “To-Read” books is overflowing, I dived to reading it.
Psychology professor Dr.Adam Millberg is found murdered in Cold Creek college's rec center. The usual suspects : Girlfriend (Plenty there), Ex-Wives ( again plenty : 4), colleagues and the students. The story follows the investigation of the murder narrated by Adam's Colleague Dr.Sherdian. Enter State police office Brett McMann who has been assigned to investigate. He takes Sherdian's help to crack the case and love blossoms between them (Well...okay! The case gets cracked).
There are multiple suspects ranging from Sherdian's colleagues Kim, Ali to various other staff and students in the college. Thanks to a fact that Adam was playboy and traps every other women with his charm. Our protagonist seems to be one amongst the handful women who didn't fall for his antics and kept him at arm's length. Thus she is chosen to “help” the cop out. Turns out Adam slept with a lot of women, took photos/videos of them in the act and blackmailed them. Not only did he simply blackmail, he kept ledgers of the blackmail.
Predictably, that turns out to be the motive for his murder. That's the ironical part of the book. Normally in a crime novel, the motive is elaborated then the murderer is found. But in this book, the murderer is “found” and the motive is later elaborated before the murderer is officially arrested.
The writer has done a rather good job of not revealing the suspects till almost mid way of the book. She kept me guessing till the very end. Initially the book seemed rather mysterious. It sort of lacked that suspense element in the start. But as the story line progressed so did the suspense element. The plot sort of peaked only when Sherdian's car gets vandalized. That is actually when the reader begins to really suspect whom the murderer might be.
There are strong influences of Nancy drew in Christa's writing. Though the story line is unique, for a seasoned Nancy Drew reader the similarities are hard to escape.
What I loved about the book: The writer clings on to that mystery and suspense element very well. The writing was clean sans that usual twisting redirection one finds in a mystery book
What could have been better: Way too many suspects and characters. Every other woman seem to have had an affair with Adam,
VERDICT: Definitely worth a read though it has the usual recepie for a crime novel
RATING: 3.8 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From childhood, as a fan of Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, Perry Mason, and the Hardy Boys, it was inevitable that Christa Nardi would continue her love of books and particularly mysteries. With a career in technical/nonfiction writing (under real name), it is not surprising that her love of mystery transformed into not only reading but writing mysteries. Christa combines her love for reading and writing on her blog. 
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital
PRICE: Rs. 187 (Kindle)


Monday, November 25, 2013

Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Can you keep a secret?
ISBN: 0440241901
AUTHOR: Sophie Kinsella a.k.a  Madeleine Wickham
GENRE:Fiction- Chic Lit
NUMBER OF PAGES: 368
FORMAT: Digital (E-Pub)
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Stumbled upon it while looking for a light chic lit to read.
REVIEW:
Chic lit. That one genre I turn to when I am going through a rough patch. That one genre people don't take seriously. That one genre which can make a woman in turmoil feel better!
This book was no different. The protagonist Emma cariggan like any other normal women has her share of secrets. On her way back from a conference Emma's flight is jilted by turbulence  sending her into  panic mode making her blabber all her secrets to a complete good looking stranger sitting next to her.
She forgets this whole episode until that “good-looking” stranger turns out to be her company's elusive CEO, Jack Harper who is visiting her office. What follows is a complete comedy.
Emma finally breaks up with her long time “perfect” boyfriend Connor and falls in love with Jack Harper who like most of the men in chic-lit stories, break her heart only to come begging later.
It's a feel good kind of story that ends in this happily ever after note. Typical Kinsella style.
One big drawback with Kinsella's writing – It's just too predictable. Especially if you have read the Shopaholic series. Its plain monotonous. Reality bites. It can’t end the same all the time can it?
Yet, no matter how predictable the book is, the reader is always left feeling good and happy. That’s exactly why Kinsella is famous and her books are widely read in this genre
VERDICT: Read it when you are down in dumps. Will do you good.
RATING: 3/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Madeleine Wickham (born 12 December 1969) is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming ("The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic") to the latest book on being married and having a child ("Shopaholic & Baby"). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Hardcover, Digital
PRICE: Rs.294.60 (Kindle)


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Between Boyfriends By Sarka -Jonae Miller : A Review (Part of Review Tour)

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BOOK TITLE: Between Boyfriends

ISBN: 9781452436890

AUTHOR: Sarka-Jonae Miller

GENRE: Fiction - Chic-lit

NUMBER OF PAGES: 309

FORMAT: Digital (PDF)

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone   

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani  

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: ARC as a part of blog tour

REVIEW:

Chic-lit books tend to have two possible “story – lines”. One, A brainless -Barbie doll protagonist who is usually down in the dumps in the start of the story and progresses to this confident girl towards the end. Of course there is this usual addition of boyfriends and a girls gang to go with that story line.

Other, A smart Barbie doll whose “oh-so-perfect' life gets all messed up and she sorts it somehow. Yes. Boyfriends & Girls gang here too. No change in that!

“Between Boyfriends” sort of follows the second story line though our protagonist, Jan Weston is no way a “smart Barbie”. She is rich, spoilt and is this haughty girl with a string of failed relationships behind her.
When she is dumped by her last boyfriend, Mike, she decides to “wait” for the perfect boyfriend (Read: Vows not to date the next guy her eyes see) who loves her. Of course, the usual post break up drama of under eating, drinking binge and sleeping randomly happens.

Jan not only is dumped by her boyfriend, her parents cut her off too. Reason: She quit college and joined massage school without telling her mom who is this hot headed lawyer (Honestly. She deserved that!)
Then there is gang of girls. The usual mix where one girl is “superior” to our protagonist in terms of beauty, dressing (The usual “girl” things *sighs*) and then there is this outcast/new comer who is initially disliked by our protagonist but then turns out to help her.

Managing finances, hunting for a job, staying away from men and “fixing” relationships – Pretty much sums up the story.

What I liked about the book : A positive ending. Simple and clear writing.

What could have been better:  The characterization lacked depth. All characters including the protagonist were really shallow.

VERDICT: If you are a woman and you are down in the dumps you might want to pick this book up and give it a reading.


RATING: 3.8 on 5

Review Tour : Between Boyfriends By Sarka-Jonae Miller


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At first glance, twenty-one-year-old Jan Weston has it all: a gorgeous boyfriend, fun friends, and wealthy parents who take care of all those pesky credit card bills. Then her boyfriend dumps her, her friendships fall apart, and her parents cut her off. Suddenly without money, without a man, and without a plan, it’s time for Jan to grow up. Determined to get her life back on track, Jan decides it’s time to make it on her own. Can she find her way as a single lady in San Diego? Can she fix her friendships, her job prospects, and her hair? And can she keep her vow that she’ll never date again, even after she meets a guy who just might be perfect for her? 
BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a sexy, hilarious story of living life, finding love, and growing up... but not necessarily in that order.

Book Links:
Goodreads 
Amazon 
Barnes & Noble 
iTunes 

About the Author:
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Sárka-Jonae Miller is a novelist and freelance health writer. She has more than 4,000 articles published on topics such as fitness, sports, martial arts, yoga, nutrition, travel, spirituality, and natural health. Her work has appeared on websites such as LiveStrong.com, Natural News.com,WeightTraining.com,andMethodsofHealing.com, as well as in the "Post-Standard" newspaper and both the New York and Washington Home & Garden online magazines. Sárka-Jonae is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is as a former personal fitness trainer and massage therapist. She is also an avid traveler, having spent time in Costa Rica, Canada, England, Mexico, and Paradise Island. She has also been to France and Thailand researching her next books. She lives in San Diego with a menagerie, including two cats, two dogs and a horse.

Author Links:
Facebook
Website
Pinterest
Goodreads
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mein Kampf By Adolf Hitler : A Review

Mein Kampf dust jacket.jpeg



BOOK TITLE: Mein Kampf
ISBN: 0395083621
AUTHOR: Adolf Hilter
GENRE: Non-Fiction – Autobiographical manifesto
NUMBER OF PAGES: 384
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: “Hitler” The name speaks volumes and my ever curious brain decided to make me dive for that untouched book in the library.
REVIEW:
DISCLAIMER: I am no supporter of Adolf Hitler. He was an “A” Class scoundrel for sure but that doesn't mean I can be biased while reviewing his book. This review is not intended to hurt any sentiments.
I am writing this review about 7 years after I read the book. Back then when I read the book, I wasn't mature enough to know certain things (To be elaborated later). All I knew was Hitler was the reason behind the reduction of a huge of the population of the earth. But now my viewpoint has changed. It has changed so much that I remember Mein Kampf like I read it yesterday. Thanks to growing up.
Mein Kampf (My struggle) is an account of Hitler's life, his aspirations, his thought process as narrated by him. He has split the book into two volumes, Volume 1: The Reckoning and Volume 2: The National Socialist movement.
Volume 1 : The Reckoning more or less narrates how exactly the seeds of “The National Socialist Movement “  was planted in his head. It is very apparent from this line as stated by Hitler; “While the Goddess of Suffering took me in her arms, often threatening to crush me, my will to resistance grew, and in the end this will was victorious” he was a fighter by spirit. He recounts how all the suffering changed him and his ideologies. How exactly did he suffer? He “was forced to earn a living” working as a daily laborer and as a painter. He went hungry for a long time yet he read books voraciously. Books seem to have been his best friend. He then goes on to state that he initially didn't understand two principles, Marxism and Jewry (Mr. Hitler. I don’t too. It would have been best not to have thought about those things back then!  Would have prevented a war you know).  But learning made him frame this mental picture of what earth & its philosophies were. In short, his rather crooked opinion of Jewish ideologies.
But Volume 1 isn't the interesting part.
Volume 2 is where the serious thinking comes in. In volume 2 he elaborates his plans to wipe out the entire religion of Jew in German. He seems to have done a thorough analysis of his ideologies and ways to implement it. (Read steps to achieve “holocaust” or Genocide”).
Volume 2 was more compelling than the first volume. One tends to believe that Hitler was a true patriot and his ideologies are justified. Technically he looked like a saint compared to politicians today. Yes. That's the powerful writing in action. It's a classic example of how a political propaganda must be written. Volume two contained most of Hitler's military blueprints and Political aspirations.
But there was this line in the last chapter, “All the persecutions of the movement and its individual leaders, all vilification and slanders, were powerless to harm it. The correctness of its ideas, the purity of its will, its supporters' spirit of self-sacrifice, have caused it to issue from all repressions strong than ever” which made me snap back to the harsh reality that Hitler's ideologies and methodologies were the reason many innocent people were butchered. Volume two is a true proof that he was the prime reason behind the death of 50 million people.
The book is an eye opener for someone who has no idea of the magnitude of his tyranny. This is “the book” for people who lack determination and that fighter spirit. But unlike Hitler one must learn to fight for the right thing.
How is it even remotely possible for one individual (who was a vegetarian and loved only one women) to influence the world so much, destabilize peace and massacre millions? Simple. His determination. His unwavering stand on his beliefs. Most important of all, his hypnotic influence on people via his books, his writing and his speeches.
The writer just wanted to explain to people, his ideologies and justify it. The book did that bang on. The debate of whether his ideologies are right or wrong is up to the reader. To any sane reader his ideologies would sound wrong. That's the beauty of the book. Hitler hypnotizes the readers, making them feel his ideologies are so valid. Yet his writing makes you understand how wrong he was. That’s the irony of the book.
There were a lot of people in the Axis coalition who were responsible for Jews being slaughtered. But why is Hitler unforgettable while no one even cares to look upon who the “others” were? Read this book to know why.
VERDICT: “The” book to be read before you die. A perfect example of “how to be” but “how not to be that”!
RATING: 5 on 5 (ONLY AND ONLY FOR THE COMPELLING WRITING. I DO NOT SUPPORT HITLER'S IDEOLOGIES)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADOLF HITLER (Do I even need to tell more?!)
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hard Bound, Paperback, Digital , Open Access Edition

P.S. I am not a political sciences student. But I am human. A human who has a perfect sense of right and wrong.