book giveaways, Books

New Year Giveaway (India Only): The Book Thief

As the year 2014 is ending and a new year is starting, here I am with a new GIVEAWAY!

This time, I am giving away one copy of The Book Thief. Why? Because It was one of the best books that I read in the year 2014, it was so wonderful that it felt like a sin if I did not share this wonderful book with others. I love it when people read books, I love it even more that they love the books that I love ❤

So, in the year 2015, with the affiliate and the advertising money that I get from this blog, I will be giving away brand new copies of the some of the best books that I have come across!

A big thank you to the author Vipin Goyal for the book spotlight, which in turn helped me sponsor this giveaway! Check out his book in the side section, if you click on it, it would take you to the flipkart page that would give you more details about that book.

If you want to know more about the book thief, you can check out my book review here.

So, join in for a chance to win this brand new book!

Giveaway rules are as follows:

*The giveaway is for Indian Residents only.

*The giveaway starts on 31st December and ends 8th January 2015

*Enter by filling out the Raffle-copter below or click here for the Facebook link if the form does not open.

*Once the winner is picked, you will be notified and you would have 48 hours to respond, else you will be disqualified.

*The book will be shipped by me the cover might be different to the picture.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Books, personal

What I learnt in 2014 (Part 2): On Reading More

In the year 2013, I read 25 books. So, my goodreads goal at the starting of the year was to read 35 books. Which increased to 50 books in mid June…In the year 2014, I was able to complete 75 books! Compared to last year, it was quite a jump…especially since this year my workload almost tripled. So with triple the work, I was able to complete these many books.

I realized a few tips to increase my reading, which I will be sharing with you. If you wish to read more…read on!

Step one: Set Realistic Goals and Take Them Seriously

Just because your friend read fifty books, does not mean you can too. Each person has their own reading speeds. Take a look at the number of books you would have read last year, and increase the number by five. If you have not read any books last year, it does not make sense to challenge yourself to read fifty books this year. Instead start with five. And make sure you complete reading those five this year.

Step two: Sign up on Goodreads

Once you have set the challenge, log in to your goodreads account and accept that on the site. The goodreads will have a 2015 reading challenge, sign up for that. It would look like this:

2014 Reading Challenge

This challenge will track your reading, and let you know how much you are lagging or ahead in your reading, in terms of books. So, you can adjust your reading accordingly.

Also, you get to be friends with a lot of readers and check what they are reading, look at the reviews, and find out the books that would interest you.

Step three: Select your genres

When I look at my personal reading habits, if I am reading a book that I am absolutely in love with, it would take me a considerably shorter time to read it, than the book that is not matching with my tastes.

Figure out what you like and do not like? What interests you? But then try to read something out of your genre too once in a while, you never know what would catch your fancy. I have made a few book lists based on different genres, you could check those out under the “looking for book recommendations?” tab above.

Step four: Subscribe to book bloggers, fb groups and booktubers

There are a lot of passionate bloggers and booktubers out there who love taking about books. Follow them, to know more about books as well as to keep yourself motivated to read.

Here are a list of bloggers, fb groups and booktubers that I love who blog about books:

Bloggers:

http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/

http://thereaddicts.blogspot.in/

https://boundandgaggedbooks.wordpress.com

http://suchetabiswas.wordpress.com/

https://ahouseofbooks.wordpress.com/

https://abookwormsmusing.wordpress.com

http://austenprose.com/

Facebook groups:

NovelNerds

Bibliophiles-India

BookTubers:

Ariel Bissett

jessethereader

Katytastic

Little Book Owl

padfootandprongs07

polandbananasBOOKS

readbyzoe

rincey reads

Check them out, follow them and get to know more books!

Step five: Set Daily Goals

The thing that helps me read so much is that I set daily goals. I make it a point to read 50 pages from the physical book and 10% of the ebook everyday. This is the minimum threshold. Before sleeping I make it a point to read that much.

Step six: Carry your books everywhere

Whenever you are going out, make sure you have at least one book with you. So, if you are stuck waiting, or are just plain bored, you will be able to catch up on your reading.

Step seven: Get an ebook

I got my self a kindle paperwhite and that has made a hell lot of a difference. It is so light and easy to carry around! Also, it is socially accepted to be seen engrossed in a “tablet” more than a book. Plus, because of the inbuilt light, I could read into the night and on trips when it got dark. The battery lasts for hours!!! There are various versions of kindles that are available at Amazon.

You could buy one from:
Amazon.in

Amazon.com (For International readers)

This is the reader that I have, so I could vouch for it, you could check out different versions.

So, these were the few things that I learnt that helped me read more this year.

personal

What I learnt in 2014 (Part 1): On Friendships

This has been a great year..Soo, since the year is ending, I would like to write the last few posts of the year about a few lessons, thoughts and all the books that I read.

This year, I realized I was thinking a lot about bravery. It’s funny how in the movies we see the brave people as the “hero”, those who take on the troubles of everyone around them and fight for everyone. But is bravery really just that? I learnt that in real life, there are various different types of people, and unfortunately, not many people care to be brave any more. When choosing between easy and right, people usually go with the option that is easy and comfortable for them…irrespective of how these actions affect others.

So, basically, this year, a couple of people I considered to be very important in my life, decided that they want to “reduce contact” with me. By reduce contact it means that whenever they felt down, they’d call up to talk, but if I ever felt the need to talk…i’d get a “busy…ttul”, or ” geee…i’m with a friend/family..it’s not really a good time”, one even went so far as to call me “pathetic” for wanting them to listen to me as “they were being a support for their other friends, and it was too much to expect them to pick up the phone”..Each had their reasons for the same ranging from “I reduced contact so as not to hurt you more in future” to ” I felt awkward talking to you”..

While, I understand why they acted that way..and have absolutely no hard feelings towards them…I realized that I would be much better off without them in my life. And these were very special people, with whom I would want to spend every detail of my life…and I would not lie and say I was the most graceful person on earth and came to this decision quite peacefully. Quite the contrary, I had a real hard time accepting the fact that the ones who were close to me were making a conscious decision of hurting me by distancing themselves.

But then, I asked myself…do I really want people in my life who can hurt me, just so that they do not have to face any awkwardness or discomfort? And the answer was a big fat NO.

Later, these people did come back, did apologize, did want the friendship back… But, I could not bring myself to want those people back in my life. I missed all the fun times that we spent, and I did want that wonderful moments back, but now that I saw how weak they were, I just could NOT allow them to be a part of my life anymore. While I understood why they acted the way they did…I could not bring myself to respect them. And I cannot be friends and share my life with the people I do not respect.

So, that brought me to a revelation. I do not respect weakness of character. I do not respect people who are not brave enough to face the mess and stand up for themselves, but would rather take the weaker approach and close their eyes and do everything possible to wish the problem would get resolved if they just did the thing that would harm them in the least Also, I learnt that the weak people regret the decisions that they take in the moment of weakness.

I learnt that in future, If I am ever faced with a problem, I would need to deal with it. I would have to talk it out, I would have to ensure that the problem leaves, not the person. I learnt to value the people who have stuck by me through thick and thin. I never realized how absolutely special they were. I learnt that if I want someone’s friendship and trust, I would have to earn that by being a loyal and trust worthy friend myself. I learnt never ever to take someone for granted. I learnt that no person is valued more than your personal self respect. I learnt that good friends make your life a happy place, and they would always want you to be in their lives, and vice versa.

And last but not the least…I learnt that when you leave the people who are toxic to you (They might be wonderful human beings, but if they do not treat you properly, they deserve to leave), your life improved dramatically for the better. So, do not be afraid of chucking people out of your lives. If people complicate your life and hurt you, tell them that it is not ok. But, if they still CHOOSE to continue hurting you…chuck it..There are far more wonderful people out there who love you and want you in their lives. Focus on them!

I thank all those wonderful people who have stood by me, who love me and care for me, be it in real life or virtually, You all mean the world to me! I cannot thank you enough ❤

I promise to be there for you whenever you need! 🙂

Books

Pillow Talk: Book Review

Author: Freya North

Pillow Talk

Book Blurb:

What keeps you up all night? They were high-school sweethearts who hadn’t seen each other for seventeen years. And suddenly they’re in front of each other – in a tiny sweet shop in the middle of nowhere. Neither can quite believe it. These days, Petra works in London as a jeweller while Arlo has left his rock-and-roll lifestyle for the wilds of North Yorkshire. Out of the blue, their paths have just crossed. But for first love to have a second chance both must put their pasts to bed. However, there are skeletons in Arlo’s closet which keep him up at night. And just what is it that causes Petra to sleepwalk?

Review:

To be honest I did not complete the entire book. Simply because the story was oh so obvious right from the start, and personally, I do not like to read stories where everything is so cliched, and works out exactly as you think it would.

The story starts with Petra being in an emotionally abusive relationship with a jerk face of a “handsome and rich” guy who treats her like a piece of furniture. But, like every true heroine she thinks he is heads over heals in love with her, and it is OK if he makes fun of her in front of the world, talks rudely to her, and what not? After all, who wants self respect when they can have love?

Then we have Arlo, who does not want to be in a relationship with anyone at the moment. And is a musician, who teaches at school and dedicated one song to Petra when they were in high school.

And then the story kind of became obvious. But, still, like an ever hopeful soul I kept on reading. But then, Petra finds her “boyfriend” is cheating on her (duh!), and so they part ways…

There are many sub stories like Petra’s relation with her parents, and her sleepwalking etc. which was different, but that is so only for a few pages, before it loosing its novelty.

Also, I should mention here that it won the romantic novel of the year (RoNa) award in the year 2008..So, I guess there are people who have liked it…But then again there are people who have loved Twilight and 50 shades…so..to each his own.

 

Books

A Thousand Splendid Suns: Book Review

Author: Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Book Blurb:

Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move people to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with startling heroism.

Book Review:

I had read this book a long time ago when I had read it from a library. And It had somehow stuck in my mind ever since. The feelings that the book had given me were still fresh in my mind, although I had forgotten a major part of the story. So, I decided to buy it myself, and re read it.

I think in a way it was good that I had forgotten the story, because the intensity of it hit me again with an equal force, so, at the end I just had to put the book down and stare at the walls.

Khaled Hosseini has really outdone himself.  I do believe this is a better book in terms of writing efforts than the Kite Runner (Book Review if the Kite Runner can be found here). Although both are fantastic reads, I feel that as a writer, it is somewhat easier to write a believable character of the same sex. But, as a man, to write a story from two different female perspectives, in such a believable and beautiful way, deserves a standing ovation. What the kite runner did to male friendships, thousand splendid suns did for female friendships.

The first half of the Novel focuses on Mariam, her upbringing as a child born out of wedlock, her struggles to understand her father, and the fact that she was married off to a much older man at a young age. The next part of the book concentrates on Laila, her modern upbringing, her book loving, open minded dad, her best friend and crush, and in turns of affair getting married to an older man. It was interesting to read how Marian and Laila reacted differently to the same situation.

Language: Simple

No of pages: 367 (but, you fly through the pages in no time)

A beautiful read, which almost every level of reader would enjoy!

Buy A Thousand Splendid Suns

Books

The Secret Red Book of Leadership: Book Review

Author: Awdhesh Singh

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Book Blurb:

The hidden truths of leadership bitter or sweet revealed like never before!

Great leaders are like icebergs. They conceal more than they reveal. Indeed, mystery, and the art of retaining it, is integral to leadership. Leadership, then, is more an art than a science. It is not a reality that you can touch, feel and measure, but an illusion that is created by many tricks, which you should be able to learn and practise in a way that others are not able to grasp.

The Secret Red Book of Leadership synthesizes the Machiavellian politics, wisdom of Chanakya and the modern principles of management to develop some fundamental principles of leadership, which keeps you ahead and ensures success in your life.

This book, written by a serving officer of Government, is an eye-opener for anybody who aspires to be a leader, at whatever level nation, community or a small social group; and in whatever sphere business, politics or administration.

Review:

The book has a very practical approach to leadership. Instead of the lofty leadership theories, the book gives us practical examples and the means with which we can understand the role of leadership as well as the how a person can sculpt themselves into being leaders.

In order to understand the concept of leadership in a much better way, we see that the book has been divided into six separate sections:

The First Section deals with the need of leadership. Why do we need leaders? What is the relationship between the leader and the follower.

The Second Section deals with the dilemma of Leaders. How do leaders balance the work, do end justify the means? What is the importance of ethics in leadership?

The Third Section deals with the necessary evils of leaders. With great power comes great responsibility, and each leader deals with the power in their own ways.

The fourth Section is the facade of a leader. It shows how a person should brand themselves in order to be perceived as a leader.

The fifth section deals with the leadership development and the last part deals with practicing leadership.

The book has powerful ideas illustrated in a simple language, and is an interesting read for leaders as well as those who aspire to be leaders.

 

(I thank the author, Awdhesh Singh for sending me a copy for this book)

Books

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing: Book Review

Author: Mira Jacob

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

Book Blurb:

The story of a family, divided across generations and cultures, wrestling with its future and its past, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing is at once magical, mouth-watering and heartbreaking.

Of all the family gatherings in her childhood, one stands out in Amina’s memory. It is 1979, in Salem India, when a visit to her grandmother’s house escalates into an explosive encounter, pitching brother against brother, mother against son.

In its aftermath, Amina’s father Thomas rushes his family back to their new home in America. And while at first it seems that the intercontinental flight has taken them out of harm’s way, his decision sets off a chain of events that will forever haunt Thomas and his wife Kamala; their intellectually furious son, Akhil and the watchful young Amina.

Now, twenty years later, Amina receives a phone call from her mother. Thomas has been acting strangely and Kamala needs her daughter back. Amina returns to the New Mexico of her childhood, where her mother has always filled silences with food, only to discover that getting to the truth is not as easy as going home.

Review:

A few weeks ago, I was on a trip to crossword because I was feeling a bit down, I just went to browse around, while chanting in the head “You are NOT to buy anything, You are NOT to buy anything”. And I genuinely did not intend to buy anything..until..I glanced at a book with an absolutely beautiful cover…The blues, the blacks, the tree with the sparkling lights…It was just SO PRETTY..but I kept it back on the shelf and willed my self to walk away..that lasted for ten minutes..after which I found myself standing in line for the check out line with two books in my hand :/ Once again, the power of books override the power of will, not that I am complaining.

When I bought the Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, I got it solely because of its beautiful cover and an interesting title. I knew nothing about it, neither had I heard about it. But, it looked so lovely on my shelf ❤

When I got to reading it, I realized that what was inside the book, was even more beautiful than the outside (if that was even possible)

The book felt so good, because it was so real. There was no romanticism of India, nor were there any of  the nostalgic “Indian ties” paragraphs that most books that deal with Indian citizens living abroad seem to thrive on. The characters are real, their struggles are portrayed in such a way, that one can’t just not empathize with them.

When Amina, a photographer, gets a call from her mother who calls her home as her brain surgeon father was spending his time sitting on the porch and conversing with dead relatives, Amina took it with a grain of salt and believed this was another of her mom’s plots to get her home and introduce eligible bachelors.

But, she comes home and gradually finds her dad is indeed displaying signs of unnatural behavior.

It’s a 500 page book, but the language is quite simple. The reader actually glides through the book and in the end is left with a slightly melancholy, but uplifting feelings.

Buy The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

Books

Obstacles: Book Review

Author: Christopher Reardon

Obstacles

Book Blurb:

A child will die. You’re afraid to live. Would you go to all lengths to save him? Darkness knows no bounds, as Alcott, an African American doctor sees all too well. The man is petrified by death. His fragile existence rests at the mercy of the universe. This fact is far too much for him to handle. From unyielding nightmares to elevator terrors, he’s lost in paranoia.

Assigned to look after an ill child, Alcott’s horrors only heighten. Gari is a nine-year-old boy with a fatal disease. He will surely pass on within the year. Alcott bonds with him more and more each day. Part of him knows this grim fate just isn’t right.

Alcott befriends a hospital patient. This lunatic forces him to lug home an ancient text on bringing back the dead. Despite the man’s obvious dementia, Alcott attempts the scheme. Charging up a cliff, he recites the chant over ocean gusts.

A god woman glides in from the horizon. She instructs Alcott on the trials to save Gari’s life. These fearsome Obstacles require true strength. From battling sharks to wielding a flail, he must prove fortitude against genuine danger. Alcott decides his fate at this moment.

Death’s claws shall not grasp Gari’s soul

Review:

How far can you go to ensure that the one you love survives? Would you give up your life in exchange for theirs?

Obstacles by Christopher Reardon, is a fantasy book, with a refreshing and engaging plot.

Alcott, an African American Doctor, who is afraid of death, is asked to care for a dying boy, Gari. Alcott is so impressed by Gari that he feels it is unfair that such a lively child should have to face death so early.

So, when he chances upon a book that gives him a chance to fight for Gari’s life, he takes it. This leads him to a game “Obstacles”, which if he wins, would save Gari’s life (while taking his), but if he looses, he would forget about everything and Gari would die as per his fate.

The obstacles that he had to face were very entertaining to read, but most of all the ending was quite a roller coaster ride and totally unexpected.

A well written and a well executed book.

 

(I thank the author, Christopher Reardon for sending me a copy for this book!)

Books

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Book Review

Author: Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Book Blurb:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

Review

This could have been a lot more interesting.

The starting was quite amusing, I was looking forward to a fresh take on pride and prejudice. But a few chapters into the book, it became quite monotonous.

The story is essentially the same, the only difference is that every time any characters go from one place to other, they will meet an army of Zombies, and they will fight them all. Also, there would be mentions of these “unmentionables” in random conversations other than that, the story remains the same.

The Bennett sisters are trained fighters, so they are more strong and independent than their original counterparts, who where known for their skills in drawing, painting etc, these girls are known for their killing and fighting skills. Another interesting twist was the fact that Elizabeth was looking forward to meeting Mrs. Catherine as she is the “best fighter”.

You do not need to have read the original Pride and Prejudice in order to read this book.

All in all, I had very high hopes for this book, it could have been so much more. Not worth buying it, but if you find an eBook or a library copy, you could skim through it.

Books

Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone: Book Review

Author: J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Book Blurb:

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister adventure when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous, or both

Review:

I have read this book countless times now, and each time it has been as much of an interesting read as the first time. This review can be slightly biased ​as owe a lot to this series.

J. K. Rowling’s writing is just phenomenal, the way she breathes life into her characters, her witty dialogues, the way her writing create a scene so vivid in your mind that you forget you are reading. She makes up her world in your mind, and you just need to curl up inside and wish you never had to come out of it, ever.

I had borrowed this copy every time from a library, and by the time I had started earning, the first editions had stopped being in print. All of my other Harry Potter books were in first print, and it somehow did not make sense to get first two books of other edition. Then I came across secondhandbooksindia.com and got myself the first two first edition books!

I reread it, and it was phenomenal!

These books are like my comfort books, where I know that no matter what happens, Harry Potter would ALWAYS be there.

Buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Illustrated Edition

Buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Audio Book

BUY HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (Tamil)

Buy Harry Potter Aur Paras Patthar: Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone in Hindi

Buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Deluxe Illustrated Slipcase Edition (Deluxe Edition)

Buy Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Harrius Potter Et Philosophi Lapis Latin

Buy Harry Potter 7 Volume Children’S Paperback Boxed Set