12 January, 2020

Gild the Weeping Lily by Manjula Variyam - [Book Review]

Book Details:


Title : Gild the Weeping Lily
Author : Manjula Variyam
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Print Length : 227 pages
Source: A free e-review copy from the author


Blurb:


She has been known by many names: Tatkhipa, Tadukhipa, Tadu-Hepa, Kiya. She was a princess of the kingdom of Mitanni, who lived and died more than three thousand years ago. She was the royal consort of Akhenaten, the ‘heretic pharaoh’ of Egypt, who ruled alongside Nefertiti. Her life is shrouded in mystery. It is irrefutable that she existed; yet, although she was the consort of a pharaoh, and was honored very highly, she disappeared from Egypt sometime during the last year of Akhenaten’s reign. 

Her name and images were erased from monuments and replaced by those of Nefertiti’s daughters. Her life and her disappearance have remained elusively mysterious. During her lifetime, relations between Egypt and Mitanni deteriorated.

 After her disappearance, both kingdoms were embroiled in turmoil at the highest levels. Could she have been the cause? Could a woman have changed the course of the history of one of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations?

Purchase Link:


My Review :

I love reading historical fiction, but I rarely get to read good books in this genre. I love to know about strong women in ancient times, their problems and how they could solve the issues in those times. 

This story covers the life of the Mittani princess Tatkhipa from her teenage years to her old age. The story also gives us a glimpse of Mittani culture, land, Egyptian traditions, customs, people, beliefs, etc., It is clear that the author has done a lot of research on this subject and she provides very detailed information on Mittani and Egyptian traditions.

The story is narrated well and captures the emotions and turmoil in Tatkhipa's mind at every stage of her life. I loved the romance and companionship of the Egyptian King and Tatkhipa. Even though fate plays harsh on Tatkhipa's life, at last, she overcomes her fears and takes an important action for her life in the climax. I loved the climax.

I enjoyed the characterization as well. I loved reading the part when Tatkhipa is young and faces the problems with confidence by starting a jewelry business. I would have loved to read more about Queen Tiye. I was disappointed that there is not much conversation or communication between Tatkhipa and Tiye. 

Initially, it was difficult for me to get used to the names mentioned in the story, but it became easy after 3rd chapter or so. The narration and pace are good overall, but at a few places, it seemed confusing on whom the narrator is referring to. 

The book cover is appropriate and the title of the book makes sense when we read the story. 

I would recommend this book to readers who love historical fiction. It is a plus if you are interested in learning more about ancient cultures and people.

My Rating: 4.5/5


PS: I have received a free e-review copy from the author in exchange for a review and this is my honest opinion on the book.

About the Author:

Manjula Variyam lives in Plano, Texas with her family. Her books span many genres: historical fiction, general fiction, children's books, YA fiction, and fantasy. You can contact her at manjula(at)variyam.com.



Until next time,




09 January, 2020

A different tree #ThursdayTreeLove

Found this tree different and unique on the way to Cripple creek,  Colorado.


Until next time,







Linking this post to #ThursdayTreeLove blog hop hosted by Parul.



08 January, 2020

Saved by Love by Shilpa Suraj - Book Spot Light and GiveAway









About the Book:

They meet under impossible circumstances.


She is kidnapped by terrorists blackmailing her father, a Supreme Court Judge. He leads the team sent to rescue her.



Trekking to safety through Ladakh... They are in danger of falling in love. But, Lt. Col. Arjun Rathod knows that Naina Ahuja, engaged to politics' rising star, is not meant for him.



Forever changed by her trauma, Naina walks out of her controlling family and forges a new life.



And then, she meets Arjun again. But this time, he is engaged to someone else.



Can they save their love or is it too late?


Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon * Pustakmandi





Read an Excerpt:



“Miss Ahuja? Naina?”



The almost soundless whisper had Naina’s eyes snapping open in the dark. A hard hand came up to cover her mouth even as a terrified squeak left her lips. A pair of dark, intense eyes in a face streaked with camouflage paint floated into her vision. “I’m here to rescue you. Your father sent me. I need you to stay completely silent when I remove my hand. Can you nod if you understand?”



Keeping her eyes on his strong, reassuring ones, Naina nodded quickly. The stranger waited to make sure she wouldn’t scream, and slowly lifted his hand from her mouth. Slipping a knife out from seemingly nowhere, he cut the rope binding both her hands and feet within seconds and levered her up from her prone position. Helping her to her feet, he watched intently to see if she was steady on her feet. Reassured that she wasn’t going to faint at his feet, Arjun moved quickly to the door and looked out. The guards were still unconscious from the light taps to the back of their heads administered by his teammates, and so far there was no sign of any other movement in the camp. Coming back into the room, he put his lips close to her ear to whisper, “Can you walk?”



Nodding mutely, Naina craned her neck to get a glimpse of his face from this angle. The stranger was so tall that he towered over her by almost a foot. Dressed all in black, with a mini arsenal strapped on to him, he looked like he’d arrived straight from hell. Apparently, the devil was her hero tonight.



About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.


An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.









Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Giveaway:

2 Winners. Signed Paperback copy of Saved by Love & Bookmarks. Open to Indian Residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until next time,

05 January, 2020

Word of the year 2020 and some Goals

Happy new year folks! Here comes my first post of 2020.

How did you welcome the new year?

We didn't cut a cake or awake till midnight on 31st December to celebrate. Kids were sick and it was an usual day. Let it be! This didn't dampen my spirits anyways.

Iam excited to write this post and share my word of the year and a few Resolutions/ should I say goals? 

Word of the year is a specific word that I want to focus on in 2020.

Pin it for later!




This year's word would be " Self-Care". 
My word for 2019 was 'Slow down'. I took things slowly in 2019 but I want to focus on me and my health as well this year. This post gives a history of my previous words for each year. 

I want to focus on caring for my health, my body and my mind. Every goal I set this year will be aligned to this word.


Here are some goals:



Personal goals:


  • Yoga atleast thrice a week
  • Having nutritious breakfast at right time every day
  • Sleeping before 10 am
  • Making time for hobbies- especially blogging and painting 
  • Keeping Saturday for myself to relax


Family goals :

  • Focus on cooking healthy meals
  • Helping kids regularly with homework 
  • Watching movies together 
  • Traveling atleast twice a year
  • Making crafts and painting with kids

Professional goals:

  • Improving technical expertise 
  • Being a better leader and role model
  • Work by gut and intuition 
  • No carrying work to home and no thoughts of home at work
  • Maintaining strict work hours without feeling guilty

Travel Goals :

  • Long distance trips atleast twice a year
  • Leisure travels or one day trips atleast 4 per year
So, those are all my goals for the new year. I hope the 20 square (2020) brings good luck to you all. 

Do you believe in the word of the year? Do you set any goals? 
Do let me know in comments.

Until next time, 

Linking this post to WOTY linkup hosted by Corinne from everydaygyaan.

01 January, 2020

Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Poems, Rants, and Short Stories by Simi K Rao - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title : Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree: Poems, Rants, and Short Stories
Author : Simi. K. Rao
Genre : Poetry , Short Stories
Print Length : 144 pages
Publisher : Written Dreams Publishing
Source : A review copy from the author


Blurb:

Life is not about achieving perfection, it's about reconciling with your imperfections.

Poems are fragments of life. In Simi K. Rao’s unique poetry collection for women, there are blissful moments; deep, invisible wounds; cries for help; declarations of defiance and philosophical observations. The poems and prose pieces compiling the collection are fragments of life elucidating the different phases of the human condition. Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree will leave readers wanting for more and have a deep impact on women of all ages.

Purchase Link:

My Review :

This collection of short and sweet poems featured by Simi is like the mirror of life's moments. These poems are some subtle moments expressing the feelings or reminiscing some lovely memories. 

I usually don't enjoy poetry, so I don't pick poetry books to read. But, this poetry is simple to understand and clearly written from the heart. 

I loved some poems like - War, Me is all I can be,  Life an ugly cousin.

The Stranger really reminded me of someone that I know. The poem 'Woman' is heart touching. I can relate to it being an Indian Woman. 

White Room is a good poem about Dementia patients. I loved the poems - Butterfly, Addiction, A seed of doubt, and Words.

The short stories are great too. But, I felt, the way the short stories and poems are organized might have been better. I couldn't see any flow while reading and so, it is like reading some random collection of different emotions. They might have been categorized by something.

I would recommend this book to beginner readers. This book is great as a travel read. 

My Rating : 4/5

About the Author:

Simi K. Rao was born and grew up in India before relocating to the U.S., where she has lived for several years.

The inspiration for her books, and other projects, comes from her own experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships, as well as stories and anecdotes collected from friends, family and acquaintances.

Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life.

Much of Rao's down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction, poetry and photography. She is an avid traveler and has visited many locations around the world.

A practicing physician, Rao lives in Denver with her family.

Until next time,


Where Shadows Meet by Colleen Coble - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title: Where Shadows Meet
Author : Colleen Coble
Genre : Suspense. Fiction
Print Length : 336 pages
Publisher : Thomas Nelson
Source : A gift from a blogger friend



Blurb:


“[An] outstanding, completely engaging tale that will have you on the edge of your seat . . . A must-have for all fans of romantic suspense!”*

Hannah is distraught when her parents are murdered—but what makes it worse is that she should have been at home with them . . . not meeting her forbidden love, Reece. Unable to face the community and her guilt, she runs away and marries him.

But Reece isn’t the man she thought he was. He controls her completely, and when she gets pregnant—against his wishes—he pushes her down the stairs as she approaches her due date. When she wakes in the hospital and he tells her the baby died, she knows she’s had enough. She runs again.

Years later, Hannah has become an expert on Amish quilts, and her visibility allows Reece to track her down. He begs her to come back, saying he’s changed—and sends her a picture of their daughter.

This couldn’t be real, could it? Hannah is certain this is just another way he’s trying to manipulate her, but the chance, no matter how slight, of seeing her daughter won’t leave her mind. When another member of her old community is found murdered—by the same poison that killed her parents—old fears surface. Was Reece the one who killed her parents in order to get her away? And is he killing again to get her back?

Purchase Link:
Amazon
My Review:

This story takes us through the Amish culture, their beliefs and their way of living. This caught my attention throughout the book. The author builds the characters, circumstances in a very convincing way.  

Hanah is a strong character though she takes a wrong decision in her life by choosing the abusive partner Reece. Reece is a complex character to understand and I couldn't get the reason for his abusive behavior even by the end of the book. It would have been great reading more about Reece. 

I liked the way the story goes through different turns and keeps it unpredictable for the reader. The climax is great. I loved the narration which is casual. The pace of the book is good. The author gave different quotes about Amish culture before each chapter and those are really wonderful to read. 

I recommend this book for its genuine storyline, characterization, and emotions. But, I didn't feel it as a romantic Suspense. It is suspense for sure, but only a little bit of romance.

My Rating : 4/5

About the Author:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. 


She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.

29 December, 2019

Gratitude List for November and December 2019 #GratitudeCircle

We have reached the last week of 2019. Are you all ready to ring in the new year in a few days? 

Before we welcome the new year, I think, it's time for us to be grateful for the last few days of 2019. 





Work-life and Flexibility :


November and December have been pretty hectic both in personal and work fronts. So, I am really grateful to my colleagues and my Manager for allowing me to work from home whenever required. This reduces a lot of stress.

Yes, there were many calls that I ended from early morning, worked some extra hours on weekdays, but because of the flexible timings, it became bearable.


Cakes and birthday celebrations :


We celebrated birthdays of some of our colleagues and ate great cakes too. I am grateful for the good and delicious food that I ate these 2 months. 


Books :


In December, I couldn't read as many books as I wanted to, as kids were sick a few days. I am currently reading this romantic novel in bits and pieces from a long time - The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Loved this quick read - Stories in a Satchel

Fun and Easy Crafting is an awesome book and my kids enjoyed making some cool crafts from the book. Whee to the Moon is an inspirational story about the life of Astronaut Neil.

Blue Girl on the night dream Sea is a different story and a good thriller. 

In November, I couldn't read any books as I just joined back to work. I am thankful for all those few hours that I got for reading. 
Books
PC: www.pixabay.com


Family health : 


In December, kids got sick. We had tough days working from home and taking care of them. But, I am grateful that at least we are together and have good medical support. 

These are some of the days when I thought of writing a gratitude list. In tough times, it's better to focus our minds on our blessings, right?

I have joined yoga recently and I am enjoying these classes. I couldn't practice regularly for now but from Jan, I want to spend some time daily on that. I am grateful for the yoga class that's available near to our home.


A long drive :


We always love to travel as a family. Unplanned trips are more fun to me than planned ones. I took one day off for Christmas and took enough rest at home by relaxing and reading books. We also went on an unplanned long drive and the drive was beautiful.

I am grateful to my husband who is a good partner for these sudden travel cravings. 

So, that's about the last 2 months in 2019.

What are you grateful for in December? Do let me know in the comments.

Pin it for later!


Until next time,





Linking this post to #GratitudeCircle blog hop hosted by Vidya Sury.





25 December, 2019

Trees that look like upside down paint brushes #ThursdayTreeLove


Until next time,







Linking this post to #ThursdayTreeLove blog hop hosted by Parul.


Stories in a Satchel by Shyamala Shanmugasundaram - [Book Review]

Book Details :

Title : Stories in a Satchel
Author: Shyamala Shanmugasundaram
Source : Kindle Edition
Print length : 165 pages

As of today(Dec 24th,2019), it's free to purchase on Kindle




Blurb:

Tanna's wedding is happening soon. He takes it on himself to clean the house and stumbles upon a satchel belonging to his dead postman father. Even worse, he discovers a bunch of letters that never got mailed. Tanna almost tosses the letters out but acting on an instinct of responsibility, he decides to post them. 

What happens to people when these letters arrive after more than a decade is explored through twenty-six stories that contain generous doses of love, betrayal, suspicion, frustration, ambition, and redemption. 

Strangely, each person would have chosen a different route in life had they received them in time…A misplaced letter, a new path…such is LIFE!

Purchase Link: 

My Review:

The collection of stories is about some unposted letters found in a satchel. When these letters are posted after so many years, they bring a mix of emotions in the people who receive them.

The concept is beautiful and each story though simple strikes an emotional chord in the hearts of readers. 

The Late winner is a simple story about a fictional piece submitted to the editor for a contest. The thought of what happens when bullets can become roses is interesting indeed.

Ambani heights Mani is a beautiful story of fate. How the life of a building security guard changed overnight with one letter. I loved the story.

The Closed Door - interesting characters. The climax was disappointing though.

Google Baba is a cool story with a tinge of humor. Nowadays, who doesn't know the helpfulness of Google?

Clipper is an emotional tale about relationships and trust. This is one story that shows how a single letter can break the trust or a strong relationship.

The story Second Chance is awesome. How good it would be if parents can take an act of revenge against the kids who completely ignore their parents after growing up.

Actually,  every story is beautiful with the required emotions.  If I have to do justice to the book, I should mention all stories. Since I cannot, I would simply say my rating.

My Rating : 5/5

I would recommend this book as a good gift, not only to the avid readers but to the beginner readers too.

About the Author:
Shyamala Shanmugasundaram is an author, freelance writer and the chief ideator of Kahani Takbak, a platform to promote Indian children's books, authors and illustrators.

 Reading and writing for children have been her priority over the last fifteen years. Her written works have appeared in national and international books, magazines and newspapers. 

Stories in A Satchel is her first short story collection for adults. To know more about her, visit www.shyamala.in

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