Monday, 21 March 2016

Blogging from A to Z - April (2016) Challenge : My Theme for the Challenge

When I came across the A to Z blogging challenge for the month of April-2016, I felt both excited and overwhelmed at the same time. I am still not sure if I would be able to maintain my consistency; however, I am going to take the advice of experts and follow the tips given in Corinne Rodrigues' post

After going back and forth to several theme ideas, I have decided to select the theme of "Learn a Little French Every Day." While this theme may not draw a huge audience to my blog, it would definitely help me maintain my French learner spirit high. After all, there is nothing wrong in doing something for your own good ;)

So, what I am going to do is, select a verb each day, explain its meaning, usage by a few sample sentences in various tenses, and one or two proverbs (if possible) using this verb. I think it's going to be an amazing learning curve for me, and I'm very excited about it.

Hoping to get constructive criticism from natives, too.

À bientôt, mes amis!


Sunday, 20 March 2016

Book Review: Echoes of Paradise by Deanna Kahler

Echoes of ParadiseEchoes of Paradise by Deanna Kahler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Echoes of Paradise by Deanna Kahler is one of those books which remind the reader of the loss of their loved ones. Celeste meets Connor on a blind date set by her friend Sue. Celeste has come out of a very abusive relationship with Sue's cousin Andy and is not interested in dating for a while. After being persuaded by Sue for a significant amount of time, Celeste gives in and agrees to meet Connor. To her surprise, she feels an instant connection with Connor and is highly impressed by him. They begin seeing each other very often; however, Connor loves his freedom and wishes to travel the world. Celeste, on the other hand, has other plans for her future. Thus, they go their separate ways. Connor goes on to live in Rome, whereas Celeste marries Dave. Their love, however, does not die. Soon after marrying Dave, Celeste gives birth to a baby boy, Chip. In Chip, she finds her lost life and showers him with affection and care. Dave is an ambitious man, and he treasures his role as a provider to his family. He spends most of the time in his office while his wife, Celeste, craves for a companion. These differences lead them to the road of separation. Therefore, when she receives a message from Connor that he is coming back and wishes to meet her, she is ecstatic. But as luck would have it, Connor's plane crashes and he dies. Celeste's world comes crashing down, and she spends her each waking moment in mourning for her lost love. Little does she know that Connor is trying to connect with her from another realm. She notices signs everywhere but overrules these as her imagination. But when she receives a pink rose from Connor, her world is turned upside down.

As a reader, I found it easy to connect with the characters. Dave's jealousy with his wife's relationship with Connor, even after his death, is very realistic. Their marital problems are not out-of-the-world and, in fact, we are surrounded by a number of such couples, and this is another factor that adds to the practical approach that the author has taken. Deanna has poured all the emotions to express the pain that Celeste felt on losing the person whom she considered being her real love. The author has done a flawless job in bringing a life to all her characters. I believed the presence of these characters around me, rather than just in the book.

The story that the author has picked up is positively practical, and most of us are -- at present -- living it. And this is what has added to the believability of the plot. We have all heard about the signs that the dead ones send to their relatives, which some of us swear to have experienced ourselves, whereas the other skeptical set of people refuse to accept. What's true and what's not, is beyond the scope of my ability, let alone this review; however, the author's narration is quite entertaining and thought-provoking. I found myself pondering over the life after death while reading this book.

It was fascinating to read Deanna's perspective of an afterlife. Her vision of heaven is very refreshing; however when she went on to write about the activities that Connor could do in heaven seemed a little bizarre to me. When Connor goes on a fishing trip or when he skates in heaven, that's where the author lost me. Of course, an opinion on the afterlife is subjective and may differ from one person to another. For me, though, this view did not work.

I would rate Echoes of Paradise 4 out of 5 stars. I found the characters, their emotions, and the overall plot considerably easy to connect. The only problem I had was in believing that Connor was skating, fishing, and what not in heaven. This strange depiction was somewhat distracting for me. I would recommend this book to the readers who enjoy taking a walk down the memory lane, exploring intense emotions, and imagining what the life could be post death.

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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Book Review: Remember This by Shae Buggs

Remember ThisRemember This by Shae Buggs My rating: 4 of 5 stars Remember This by Shae Buggs is a romantic comedy with comedy being the main ingredient of its recipe. Lucy is a talented, beautiful, and independent woman. She is married to an amazingly handsome man named Mason. They have been married for about six years now. If I say that, their marriage is in a rough patch then that would be an overstatement of the year. A colleague of Lucy, Eli, is having a major crush on Lucy, even though he has a girlfriend. Lucy is enjoying the attention she is receiving from Elie. Although Lucy and Mason are living in the same house, they neither talk to each other nor share their bedroom. You see, what I meant by the overstatement. To add to the chaos and confusion, Lucy comes home to find an object to prove her husband’s infidelity. Mix her rage to many glasses of Alcohol and what you get is Lucy throwing a wine bottle over the head of Mason, which leads him to the road of amnesia. What follows next is a hysterical ride of Lucy helping Mason to bring back his memory.

 The main characters of the plot, other than Lucy and Mason, are Kara and Drey, who are Lucy’s best friends. The character sketch of Kara and Drey reminds me of Charlotte and Samantha – in the same order – of SATC. For the readers, who have not watched SATC, Charlotte is an innocent, family-oriented, a tad old-fashioned woman, while Samantha has a never-ending tendency of hopping on the bed with a variety of men. So, replace the name of Charlotte with Kara and Samantha with Drey, you have got yourself the perfect description of these characters. I believe the author got the inspiration for these characters from SATC, but one cannot be sure of these things. Anyways, the author has done an excellent job in drawing an image of the characters in the reader’s head by using the strings of words. Each character is believable and has a purpose to serve. The detailed description of their clothing helped in imagining the characters.

 The plot is very realistic. The cause of most of the marital problems, lack of communicating real feelings and not spending enough time with one’s life partner, is used as a foundation of Lucy and Mason’s problems. This increases the believability of the story. I am highly impressed by the writing style and narration skills of the author. I could not resist myself from making time to read this book until the end. There are minor mechanical errors in the book, like a few missing words, “I keeping watching, and others on the same lines; however, these do not make too frequent appearances and didn’t spoil the fun by reading this book. There is one loophole, which I believe the author missed. Towards the end, Lucy wonders how did Eli find out where she lives; however he had sent her flowers in one of the earlier chapters. Nevertheless, we can ignore it since there are many wonderful things in the plot.

My favorite thing about this book is the manner in which the author has captured little emotions of people. Like the irritation of Lucy, which she feels when Eli talks ill of her husband, is something that I can relate to. I can describe my hubby in whichever way I feel, but -- god forbid -- if someone else chooses to point out even one of his irritating habit, I would fry that person. Although humor remains the central theme of the book, there is one chapter in which I had to hold my mouth from making sounds while laughing; it was that funny. One thing that disappointed me was that after that instance, I kept waiting for another “ha-ha” moment, but that did not arrive. Having said that, a slight smile kept making its way on my face on several clumsy moments of Lucy. To conclude, I would say that, this is a book, which is worth the time of the readers, who enjoy romantic comedies.

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Friday, 11 March 2016

Official Book Review: A Dance with the Corporate Ton: Reflections of a Worker Ant

A Dance with the Corporate Ton: Reflections of a Worker AntA Dance with the Corporate Ton: Reflections of a Worker Ant by Lata Subramanian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Dance with the Corporate Ton: Reflections of a Worker Ant by Lata Subramanian is, to say the least, an insightful narration of the author's journey in the corporate world. She has started the book from the moment she started looking for a job to the point when she walked hand in hand with the top players in various industries to her early retirement from it all. She started her career as a Room Service Order Taker in The Oberoi Towers. According to her observation, she was not offered a job at the front desk of the hotel because that place was reserved for very attractive people. Anyways, she took her job very seriously but grew tired of the routine work involved in this job profile. Soon, she decided it was time to move ahead. She joined one of the leading advertising companies of that time in India, Lintas, and climbed a ladder of success almost reaching for the stars. With the zeal to work hard and constantly learning every aspect of the advertising industry, including the complicated lingo, she received various recognitions. However, these recognitions did not succeed in tying her to this one company, and soon she moved on to the next venture.

Her journey is a very mesmerizing one. I felt motivated, fascinated, and inspired while reading her story. It was as if Lata showed a mirror to me. I could relate to her feelings towards the bell curve involved in the appraisal process. As she felt overwhelmed by the process of grading her team members according to the requirement of this curve, rather than based on their hard work and dedication, similarly I feel every time the time of appraisal comes on my head. This strange criterion of judging and rating the people made her realize that she cannot get a flair for management. Her anger towards one of the organizations, where she worked, for handing over pink slips to the clueless employees after a merger is visible in every word of that chapter. That anger shows the purity of her heart and I admire her for it.

Lata has not just narrated her journey, she has given several pieces of wisdom. Her best advice is that one must be prepared and not depend on their employer's mercy. Throughout the read, she reminded me of myself. Her tendency to stand her grounds even when everyone stands against it is admirable. When everyone in her office was insisting her to get a makeover, she did not crumble, rather made a statement that she wishes to be judged by her work and not by her appearance. The evidence of her high moral values is visible until the last chapter. She has cracked open the corporate world and presented the forensic report of this entity for the world to see. I am sure the readers will be able to connect to her perspective of the world.

To keep the book entertaining, she has used humor, which is not "haha" funny, but is capable of bringing a smile to the readers. One thing that I particularly enjoyed was the cute graphics that are present here and there in the book. While reading, I used to get very excited to find these illustrations.
An illustration from the book: A Dance with the Corporate Ton

The mention of various famous TV segments, such as Mad Men, set the right mood and laid a fantastic foundation for the facts that she was making.While narrating her story, she paused at various places to ponder over a word and its origin, for instance. In the beginning chapters, when I was trying to understand where the story might flow to, I was fascinated by these interruptions; however, later these seemed like speed bumps and very distracting. Other than this minor issue, I loved Lata's writing style and her intense journey.

I would recommend this book to the readers who enjoy reading the journey of an individual in the field of career and wish to gain a deep insight into the corporate world. This book has everything for the readers of this category: humor, facts, inspiration, and an extraordinary experience.

Disclaimer: I have received this fabulous book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Read Confessions of an Ugly Girl to Know What Goes on inside the Head of a Girl who Considers Herself Ugly!

Confessions of an Ugly Girl (Ugly Girl Series #1)Confessions of an Ugly Girl by Alice Wasser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Confessions of an Ugly Girl by Alice Wasser is written in a journal style. You know how much we get tempted to read someone’s personal diary. Well, this book provides a way to pacify that temptation. Instead of chapters, this book is divided in months. The self-proclaimed ugly girl, Matilda Glockenfeld (Millie), writes about her everyday activities, fears, and passions. While reading the book, I got the feeling that Millie was talking to me. She is in love with statistics, so there are many stats related to various fields throughout the book. I found some of the stats quite fascinating. Like the one about “100 people die every year from choking on a ballpoint pen” was especially interesting. Who would have known that the simple act of chewing on a ball pen could lead you to death? Not me, for sure! Anyway, Millie writes about the fact that her suspected notion of not being beautiful received an affirmation by the total ignorance of boys towards her, throughout her life. There have been several failed attempts made by her only best friend, Donna Matthews, and her mother to get her to hook up with somebody. She gave up the hope of ever finding any guy who would be interested in dating her, let alone marrying her. Things take a turn when she meets a man named Sam, who shows an interest in her. He asks her out but she declines his offer. One major reason for this denial being her low self-esteem that has made it impossible for her to believe that any man could be interested in her; however, another reason that holds her back is the fact that Sam is in a wheelchair. After giving many thoughts to his proposal, Millie finds it hard to deny the attraction she had for Sam and finally, gives in. Although thinking about how people would react to seeing an ugly woman on a date with a handsome man in a wheelchair, she struggles to give this relationship all her heart. This is fascinating to read whether, against all odds, the relationship of Sam and Millie would survive or crumble under low self-esteem of Millie.

Alice has kept the tone of the tone mostly upbeat. Even though this is a story about a girl who considers herself ugly, the book has not drowned in melancholy. The humorous take of Millie about her “flaws” and all the problems of the life, in general, has kept me entertained to read more.

I don’t like to stare too long at the mirror in a public place, though. I don’t want someone to come in and God forbid, think I’m admiring myself. I don’t want people to think that I’m deluded enough to believe I look good. Usually, when I’m in a public place, I take a quick glance in the mirror to make sure there isn’t toilet paper stuck to my face or something, then head out.

Millie’s craving to be on good terms with her sister is relatable. I have a sister and whenever we have a fight, I cannot rest before things go back to normal; therefore, I understood her desire to be able to have a healthy, instead of pretentious, relationship with her sister. Her family situation is written with perfection and that was an element that made me connect with Millie, almost instantly.

Millie’s difficulty in coming to terms with having a long-lasting relationship with a man, who is in a wheelchair, is quite realistic. Whatever I would have thought if I were in her shoes, is written in the book and that increased the believability quotient of the overall plot. The impact of mean remarks made by the boys on girls is evident in this story. If Millie’s self-critical thought process had not received rude affirmation of the boys, she might not have the low self-esteem of this extent. There are many other takeaways in the book, which I leave for the readers to discover.

I had only two problems with the book. The overall confession of an ugly girl focused only on her romantic life for last chapters. In the beginning, there was a variety of her confessions, but in the end, it became like any other romantic fiction. The second problem that I had with the book was its predictability of twists. The problems that arrived in the relationship of Millie and Sam due to his ex-GF seems adapted by any romantic movie.

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Monday, 7 March 2016

Why I Absolutely Hate My Over-Sentimental Side?

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If you're sentimental then you know that you have a beautiful soul; a soul that knows the virtue of being able to shed a tear or two when you see another living being in distress. We are often introduced to our emotional side while leafing the pages of a family photo album. We are reminded of its existence inside of us when we hear of an arrival or departure of a loved one. There are many more circumstances when your sentiments overpower your other feelings. I admire a person who can put their sentiments in a beautiful string of words. However, the problem arises when one finds it difficult to face the world without feeling overwhelmed with sentiments. If I shed a tear here and there for one distressed person or the other, I would feel in control of my feelings. Lately, I have noticed that I have a problem with controlling the overflow of my sentiments. I am not writing this post to establish a deity, who cries for everyone; rather, I am writing this post in a hope of gaining a perspective or, possibly, an idea to control my sentiments. I came across a quote on Goodreads that fits perfectly with my situation:

“I drive around the streets
an inch away from weeping,
ashamed of my sentimentality and
possible love.”
― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell
You know, at a certain point in my life, I stopped watching news thinking that the less I know of the misery of the world, the more are my chances of being happier. You see, I chose ignorance over the truth. This ignorance eliminated my prospect of appearing in several examinations; nevertheless, that's fine by me. I vividly remember an incidence during my college days when I watched a movie -- I can't remember the name, though -- and this movie depressed me for over a week. I refused to take calls from my parents and buried myself in my own world. The extreme humiliation that the negative characters of the movie made the leading lady go through -- in front of her parents and siblings -- was enough to break my heart. I knew that it's only a plot, yet I could not stop myself from obsessing over the darkness of the plot. Over time, either my weak memory or my mom's scoldings helped me in getting over the whole thing. When I am out on the street and I see many people lying on pedestrian walks with hardly any clothes on them, I cannot stop from praying to God to help the poor. The sight of an accident, a rotting dead body of an animal in the middle of the street, and silent cry for help of the downtrodden tear my heart into a million pieces. I have started burying my face in the kindle books now; however, the requirement to be attentive on road forces me to look around every once in a while; the sight is almost never pleasant.

Now, there is another side to the story, which adds to the existing problem of this emotional fool. The quote of Naguib Mahfouz is enough to summarize my dilemma:

“It's a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”
 On reading it, I thought to myself, "Did he know me?" I am that tragic person, who has an over-sentimental heart and a skeptical mind. Well, I may be sentimental, but I do not wish to be added to the category of a fool. I would love to help the needy, but I refuse to walk into a trap and be mocked by that person, later. I wonder if the real saints, like Mother Teresa, ever felt this way. I read once that Mother Teresa provided shelter to a prostitute, who ended up stealing from her. Irrespective of the knowledge of her crime, she handled the situation gracefully without playing the blame game. She saved the prostitute from her sins. I choose to believe that she must have felt very bad about stealing from Mother Teresa; however, I don't know the after story of this incident. So, of course, Mother Teresa and saints like her were never scared of becoming a mocking stock or being fooled by others. They just wanted to help and that's what they did. I, on the other hand, am cursed for life to struggle with being an over-sentimental creature, who does not wish to let her guard down.

P.S. This post is dedicated to the Daily Post's prompt for the day - Sentimental.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Classic Book.5. Through the Looking-glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

For the readers, who follow my blog regularly, you must know the impact of Alice in Wonderland on me. I fell in love with this book and I had to read Through the Looking-glass; therefore, I started reading it the moment I got the chance. On completing my daily chores, I cozied myself on my couch and got ready to be amazed. To tell you the truth, my bar of expectations was set very high. From the beginning, I had a smile plastered on my face, because I anticipated the similar level of humor, if not better, from the characters, dialogues, and the plot of Lewis Carroll's work.

The book started with Alice talking funny things to her cat and the kittens. This conversation was adorable. I, myself, talk to my pets all the time; hence, those dialogues spoke to me. The closeness a person has to their pets is beautifully captured by Lewis.

I’m going to tell you all your faults. Number one: you squeaked twice while Dinah was washing your face this morning. Now you can’t deny it, Kitty: I heard you!
Only a pet lover can find the humor in her conversation. Anyways, the author's imaginary world behind the mirror is worth an applause. This book, like the previous one, is full of weird characters, conversations, and surroundings. Alice is innocent,as ever, and trying to understand what everyone is doing and why they are doing it. Moreover, her lonely feeling that she used to get in Wonderland keeps making an appearance to her in Looking-glass world, too.

The tendency of the characters of Lewis to make rude remarks remains consistent in this sequel of the book. The bluntness of these remarks made me laugh throughout the read.

“It’s my opinion that you never think at all,” the Rose said, in a rather severe tone. “I never saw anybody that looked stupider,” a Violet said
The thought process of Alice is cute as ever. She is my favorite character out of all the books combined. Her innocence, directness, and imagination are fascinating to me. When she meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum, she tries to be diplomatic to ensure that she doesn't offend them:

Alice did not like shaking hands with either of them first, for fear of hurting the other one’s feelings; so, as the best way out of the difficulty, she took hold of both hands at once: the next moment they were dancing round in a ring. 
The word play of the characters of Lewis continued to add a little humor to the overall plot in this story.

Here the Red Queen began again. “Can you answer useful questions?” she said. “How is bread made?” “I know that!” Alice cried eagerly. “You take some flour—” “Where do you pick the flower?” the White Queen asked: “In a garden or in the hedges?”
The imagination of the author is enchanting and interesting; however, it is not as hysterical as the first book of the series. I can't say that I was disappointed. Probably my high bar of expectation reduced the overall impact of the book. I did not laugh as much as I laughed while reading Alice in Wonderland. Nonetheless, this is a lovely book and I enjoyed reading it. As I said, I love the character of Alice and the consistency that the author has kept in her character in both of his books. I can't wait to hear what other readers thought of this book. So, add comments to this post and enlighten me!