Book Review: Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella  

Posted by Divya A L in

The more I read Sophie’s books, the more I want to read! Though her books are categorized as “fiction”, many a time, one can relate to it. At times, when “weird” things have happened to me, I’d ask myself “why only me?” but her books made me rephrase it as “ ok… so, its not just me…” or “It was so wrong to be thinking about myself, a nut case!” J J hehe… Even if you are in one of those clumsy moods, you can always pick her books and start reading. Believe me you will feel a lot lot better! She’s growing to be my most favorite writer! J

Like her other books, this also is a total entertainer and absolutely hilarious! Its about how Lara meets her great grand aunt Sadie’s ghost, who would have died of old age (105years) and wouldn’t “rest” until she finds her most loved dragonfly necklace. Lara initially thinks that she is hallucinating her grand aunt, due to the miserable state of mind she'll be in, resulting from various mishaps – her boyfriend dumping her abruptly, lack of support from her best friend/partner at the newly set up hiring firm apparently doing bad at business. Sadie adds to her misery pestering Lara to look for her necklace and gets her to patronize with her telling that it was her “last wish”. But it doesn’t end there….

While Lara treasure hunts with the ghost, she finds Sadie very jubilant and so very young at heart (or soul rather). J She is one of those crazy and fun loving 1920’s girls that leaves Lara at awe! Eventually, Sadie uses her ghostly skills that help Lara in realizing that the guy who dumped her wasn’t really a right choice for her and also improve her business a great deal! The story takes a big leap when Lara discovers that Sadie is not like what her family thought her to be - an ordinary, achieved nothing in life, old woman. She is a part of history which even Sadie herself wouldn’t be aware of. On the other hand, Lara’s uncle, Bill Lington who claims to have started out a coffee business with 2 pennies and grew to be millionaire with Lington coffee outlets all around the world, would have actually used Sadie’s fortune to turn into one. When Sadie learns the truth, she sees no end to her overwhelming happiness (to have been part of history) and terrible vengeance on Bill. Her retaliation to Bill is "wow"! Finally, Lara finds her necklace and Sadie’s ghost never comes back….

Take aways:

What I liked the most other than the story was, Sadie’s attitude towards life. As I read through, I have to admit, I fell for the character “Sadie”! Life is not about leaving behind miseries and moving on, but also moving up and look forward to the best. Sadie compares it to an escalator - keep going on while moving up… Her young-at-heart, her twenties fantasies (which she infects to Lara) , enthusiasm, never take life too seriously attitude is all like magic!

We do face a lot of hardships in life but what really matters is how one handles it. After all, “you are not the only one….” A must read ! A must read !A must read !A must read ! (Hope Sadie hasn't gotten into me!) :)))

Its a 10/10 for this one! *****

Books review: The Shiva trilogy - Amish  

Posted by Divya A L in

After being suggested by a couple of friends and reading some fabulous reviews about these books, I ordered them online and yes, they were definitely a wonderful read…

In a very broad sense, the story is about Shiva and various others (characters picked from the actual Hindu mythology) who are on a quest to conquer evil with good and make India a better place to live in. On their voyage, the leader of the troupe “Lord Neelkant” aka “Shiva” is faced with difficult and tricky situations that initially makes him prejudiced about the evil that he fights. He eventually uncovers that his beliefs were false and finds new and different dimensions to his falsified assumptions. The more he uncovers the truth the more his perceptions towards the “good” and “evil” change.

The story is split across 3 books –

1. The Immortals of Meluha

2. The Secret of the Nagas and

3. The Oath of the Vayuputras (Not yet out)

Summary: The Immortals of Meluha

The story kicks off in a slow pace with Shiva and his troupe moving to the state of Meluha – the place where the Suryavanshis reside. The Meluha is known for its immaculate civilization offering an almost perfect way of life for its residents. The rules and policies carefully knit together by Lord Rama(the then ruler of Meluha) largely in the interest of the society, leaves no loose ends for any kind of illegal and unfair act in any aspect and meritocracy is the sole criteria for everyone in anything that they want to pursue. The concept of ‘Gurukul’ is quite interesting! Like any good system has a flip to it, Shiva abolishes an illogical and unfair ritual that had gotten into the system of Meluhans during the reign of Rama. Shiva believes in changing rules that were/could have been of some significance in the past and is utter non sense in the present. This change of rule also rescues his lady love Sati and they get married.

Suryavanshis seek help of the Lord Shiva to fight The chandravanshis – the neck deep enemies of Meluhans who are apparently allied with the terrorist Nagas and together they keep making illicit attacks on the innocents in Meluha. In one such attack, the Lord’s fav, brother-like, scientist “Brahaspati” is killed.

Almost immediately, the Suryavanshi declare a war against the Chandravamshis and turn out triumphant. The techniques used by the Suryavanshis in a war - like the tortoise formation etc are beautifully narrated. Very imaginative indeed, by the author. Later on Shiva realizes his folly – Chandravamshis are not evil, but they are only different. They don’t follow a set of rigid rules like Suryavamshis do. Each one is free enough to choose and do what they like that makes them a lot different from Suryavamshis – “disorganized”. Shiva also realizes that the chandravanshis played no role in any of the Naga terrorist attacks.... Shiva is more confused and his rage against the Nagas is undefiable…

The author is successful in keeping the readers engaged and infringing the curiosity about the nagas… At least I picked the second book almost immediately.

Summary: The Secret of the Nagas

The story in this book has a lot of twists and turns unlike the first one. Shiva explores various other cities including Kashi and marvels at how each of it is so different. Each of the cities varied a lot in the culture and tradition. The Kashi for example accommodates all kind of people seeking refuge and are the peace makers while another city is very conservative about its visitors.

As the story progresses Shiva is baffled by the knowledge that his enemy – the Nagas are the ones who turn out to be the saviours of many innocents. The Shiva himself receives a strange medicine from them that saves his son from death during his birth. Shiva is deeply puzzled about them being good or evil. However the death of his beloved brother makes his stance rigid in considering them to be “evil”. The Nagas also rescue Sati from the man eater tigers and at the end of it, the Nagas’ revelation leaves her stunned. Sati learns about her father's deception - hiding an important truth from her with a selfish motive of keeping his daughter happy and away from all the ridicule and difficulties she may have had to face otherwise.

When Sati unveils the info about the Nagas, the Shiva is as much stunned and astounded, but on seeing the Naga, he is again reminded of his beloved brother and the vengeance takes over him. The Nagas finally decide that the Shiva ought to know the truth and they take him to Panchavati – the place of the Nagas. What Shiva finds out is nerve clenching....

Take aways:

  1. Apart from the story itself, which is definitely a great work of fiction, the author has diligently taken care of portraying even the minutest of the details at his best. The description of each of the cities, the fight scenes, the lively descriptions of sunderbans etc are “wow”!
  2. The real beauty of the story is that the “Gods” of the mythology are portrayed as normal humans possessing no supernatural power. Everything that “seems” supernatural is backed up with convincing scientific justification. Be it about the Somras, or the telepathy…
  3. The meaning of “Har har Mahadev” – is well explained - one who sticks to dharma, one who makes decisions in the interest of the larger society, one who is as selfless as possible – he is the God in himself.
  4. Some of the conversations Shiva has with the Vasudevs are very thought provoking! I especially liked the one that talks about “desire” the “good” and the “evil”!
  5. Learnt a new thing - The opposite of "love" is not "hate" but "apathy" :)

Oops this was quite long! :P Looking forward to read the third book!

Book Review: Can you keep a secret? - Sophie Kinsella  

Posted by Divya A L in

Category: Fiction , total time pass!

Another awesome work by Sophie! A typical chick-lit story that gets one laughing till the stomach hurts.... This is way too hilarious even compared to the shopaholic series.

Mind you, never to read it in public - especially if you don't want to drag attention of people around you when you extravagantly try controlling your laughter and people gawk at your resultant weird face!

Its a story about this youngster Emma, who apparently has a lot of "tiny little" secrets which she reveals in a moment of fright to Jack Harper, a stranger she meets on a flight. She goes on and on telling him about all her secrets - like a brake failed train assuming the plane was going to crash and Jack is the last person she would see... But the real fright creeps in when the plane actually lands safely and she ends up in an awkward situation when the co-founder of the company she works for happens to be the same stranger she'd met in the plane. This is the best part of the entire storyline, which would probably nominate a winner for the greatest of the great laughter challenges!

She ends up chucking her BF for this stranger with whom she thinks she is truly in love with! All her happiness of finally finding a perfect mate evaporates like vapour when she hears him revealing all her secrets in an interview on a television show to market the brand of drinks lined up for girls - "the ordinary nothing-special girls"! She turns out to be one big laughing stock amongst all her colleagues and friends who never miss a chance to tease her about her secrets!

Feeling embarrassed,betrayed and deceived she is encouraged for a vengeance by her close friends Lizzy and Jemima.......

Highly gripping (read it in a day), well developed story line and the characters in it is a highlight... But a little too much of blunt language and descriptions may seem quite inappropriate!

Overall, I'd rate a 9.8/10 for this one...

Apple pie!  

Posted by Divya A L in ,

Since my childhood I hated apples and bananas. I always have managed to carefully pick them out of a fruit salad. Somehow I never liked the taste of it, until when I first had apple milk shake. I loved it in a different form!

Later on, I tasted them in the baked form - Apple pie. I cannot help but say, I LOVED IT to the core!

Tried making it at home last weekend, and as it turned out to be too good, here I am, posting its recipe.

Again, very simple to make!

1. 1 big ripe apple (skin peeled) diced into small cubes
2. Maida (white wheat flour) - 100grams
3. Unsalted butter - 100grams (Basically 1:1 of butter and maida)
4. Sugar/Sugar powder - 2 spoons
5. a pinch of cinnamon
6. 1 egg white (optional)
7. A scoop of ice cream - preferably vanilla or butterscotch flavor!

Method of preparation:
1. Grate the butter into the bowl of maida and mix them both until they turn into a coarse mixture. Now knead well (use very little of water/milk if required) to make it a thick but smooth dough.
2. Make 2 halves of the dough and roll them out to make half inch thick rotis to fit into a round glass bowl.
3. Grease the glass bowl with a little butter and place the first roti over it.
4. Now spread the diced apples over it and sprinkle the sugar/sugar powder and cinnamon on top of it.
5. Cover it with the other roti and seal the sides.
6. Cut through the layers of the above to make it into small pieces of the shape you desire.
7. Smear the top with egg white to get a golden brown color (This step is optional if you don't use eggs)
8. Bake it in the oven at 220deg for 45 min.

The hot yummy apple pie is ready! Tastes best with a scoop of ice cream!

DISCLAIMER: Think twice when you serve someone on weight loss regime :) Its definitely an high calorie yum, but never too much for a bite or two. ;)

Book Review: The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella  

Posted by Divya A L in

After reading this one, Sophie is now one of my most admired writers! :) I love her style, diction and her impeccable talent in the way she brings about the story.

Who this is for: Everyone who has forgotten about a personal/private/social life being obsessed with their jobs.

Brief summary:

Employed in one of the London’s top law firm Carter Spink, Samantha, a strong career oriented top notch lawyer(the skill derived from her bloodline), is head over heels in love with her job. She literally knows nothing other than what it takes to be a lawyer. She’s ridiculed often by her neighbor for her bizarre style of life and especially when she confesses about not even knowing to sew a button or make coffee!

Charging a lawyer fee of £500 an hour, Samantha hardly finds any time for personal life. Her hard work and dedication makes her even eligible to become the youngest Carter Spink’s partners which would be a dream come true for this young lady. Just an hour before the announcement of the same is made, an unfortunate revelation of her silliest mistake, not only results in losing out on partnership but she’s also is sacked from the company.

This undomestic Goddess then absconds to a village and accidentally takes up a job of a housemaid about which she stands no clue. While she struggles to manage through it she keeps telling herself that she is not made to be a maid. However, as she journeys along, she discovers the almost long forgotten, love, care, relationships and their importance! She almost forgets she was a lawyer and finds her new way of life relishing, until one day, when she realizes it wasn’t her mistake at all for which she was sacked from her previous job. She fights back and comes out triumphant with which she also gets a bonus – an offer to be an equity partner of Carter Spink, which a sane man would not reject even in his dreams… But Samantha thinks different… which eventually leaves her in a confused state of mind – to choose to be a partner in the law firm where her intelligence is respected or a maid where she doesn’t find herself stressful and burnt out.

Though the story is on serious lines, one will definitely enjoy the lighter part of it that’s pretty gripping and hilarious. The thoughts and emotions of Samantha as she walks through ups and downs are beautifully portrayed.

Overall, I’d say a 9/10 for this one!!!

Book Review: confessions of a SHOPAHOLIC - Sophie Kinsella  

Posted by Divya A L in

The one book that let me flip through its 328 pages in 12 hours!

The plot revolves around Rebecca, the "financial expert" by-chance it seems, and her egregious urge for shopping that eventually leads her to debt. Her ingeniously ridiculous ways of smacking out of her over expenditure on stuff she "really needs" or just "fancies" about possessing couldn't be more genuinely portrayed! I am sure every single female "species" can identify and relate to with atleast 80% of her shopahol- i-sm! Atleast in my case, I very honestly admit, it is 90%. I'm now convinced that I am indeed a shopaholic and Rebecca is more sort of an.. err... 'a shopa-maniac'!?!

Learnings, musings and take aways:
1. The shopaholics always try to get advice from anyone who seem to save a penny more than themselves. After her futile attempts at clearing the debt, Rebecca seeks her father's advice and at one point, also seriously "considers them" - CD or MMM (Cut down or make more money). She also ends up spending on a self help book which wouldn't help her at all!
2. Trying on CD, leads her into spending more money (considering it to be one time investment) that just doesn't seem to pay off. How can anyone in the world use a kitchen set up, if one doesn't know to cook! Even worse if your cookery classes cost you way too much than it would cost for the food for an entire year itself!
3. "life is short and has to be lived to its fullest" - Why cut down on what you like? try MMM - well, this one creeps into the shopaholic's head when she soon realizes that she has invested way too much on stuff she wouldn't be successfully using in order to spend less; but instead could have bought her favorite watch or glasses in that money spent! Rebecca plans to change her career and try something new. And most times she always crosses the heights of optimism on how rich she really can become.
4. Shopaholics will have friends who are very much their own breed.
5. The best way to think about not spending too much is to think of having a gala time and spend as much as you can till you can forget and be happy about your new possessions!
6. People in debt are one heck of a liars!!
7. Shopaholics always quote a discounted price of upto 90% (or even free out of a scratch card) when asked by moms, the cost of their new possession!

And as you flip through more pages in the book, you suddenly find that Rebecca, whose credit and debit cards from 5 different banks are blocked on debt, giving "financial advice" to callers on a television show, while one of her own bankers sit right in front of her all furious with rage during the show coverage!

She finally turns out to be a television super star who is "informative" but "approachable", "knowledgeable" but "down-to-earth" when it comes to advises on "managing your money" - a highly successful profession which pays her for advising on stuff which cannot be carried out at herself, but still be happy at ease with it!

In simple words, its deadly hilarious from the word go! Highly recommended for the female species while a must-read for the male species to get to know their better half (or any other female species) better! :)

PS: This is the first of Sophie Kinsella's shopaholic series and I am looking forward to read the rest of them!