Monday, 30 November 2015

Monday Moods: Bhopal Travelogue

My work is pretty travel-heavy. Thankfully, I get to, largely, pick and choose where and if I want to travel to! So, last week, when we had some very important work happening in Bhopal- a city I had hitherto not visited, I jumped on the opportunity to travel there.

Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is a beautiful city steeped in history. I wish I had more time to explore old Bhopal, go to the palaces and the Taj-ul-Masjid as well as visit the caves at Bhimbetka, which is only 70 kms away from Bhopal. Sigh. But, well, there is always another trip!

Here are some pictures from my quick trip to Bhopal:




Snuck in this pretty shot of the evening sky as my plane was about to land in Bhopal. It was a cloudy, hazy day- the first properly cold day this year, according to my local colleagues- and I just loved the cold, brisk air! Quite a refreshing change from Bombay's stifling heat! 




Bhopal is built around two lakes- a large one and a smaller one. I am not sure which one this lake is, but this is the view from VIP Road en route to my hotel. 





I stayed at the gorgeous Jehan Numa Palace Hotel in Bhopal. A once-upon-a-time palace of the Nawab Begums of Bhopal built in 1890, Jehan Numa Palace is beautiful in a classy and understated way. 




The property has a beautiful pool, which guests have access to. 



The hotel is done up very tastefully with beautiful handmade bits and bobs. This display of blue stone pottery is one such example. 



I am normally creeped out my hotel corridors, but the open and beautiful corridors of Jehan Numa Palace were anything but scary! 





Some pretty bougainvillea on the grounds. I love bougainvillea- they are so colourful and ubiquitous (in India at any rate)! 



Could not resist this picture of the pretty Kilim rug in my room and, er, my feet. Itchy feet and travel etc.? :) 


Hope you enjoyed a quick look at my Bhopal experience- unfortunately, much of it was indoors, but hey, at least it was all pretty stuff! :) 


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Stationery Sunday: Copper Cobra Field Notes TN from Zenkraft

I have a problem, an addiction. I am addicted to pretty, handmade Traveler's Notebooks (TNs)! To be fair, I do not buy multiples of the same kind. I try and add more variety to my collection. In that quest, the quest for variety, I ended up buying yet another Field Notes/ Pocket Sized TN from Zenkraft. This leather has been called 'Copper Cobra' and that's a perfect name for the coppery highlights that this beauty has!



I have been through phases of loving TNs that have a smooth, pristine surface and now, it seems, I am going through a phase where I love TNs with the rustic, weathered look. For instance, look at the striations on this beauty! So perfect! 





The Zenkraft TNs come with an appropriate sized notebook inside. I love how this fiery orange Field Notes complements the beautiful copper-hued leather. 





Beautiful pictures of my Copper Cobra.. just 'cause! So pretty! 

I can't wait to set this up.. saving this up to be my December travel companion! :) 



Saturday, 28 November 2015

General Whimsy: Happiness Lately.


1. Make-up and beauty things in grocery stores makes me very happy. Buy essentials and pick up make-up bits as well. Something for everyone. 
I lately picked up these Street Wear nail paints while grocery shopping. And I got them for Rs. 15 off for each of the polishes. So win-win. 
I love the colours I picked up. 

I also recently picked up 2 Lakme lipsticks from their 9 to 5 range. Creamy yet matte-ish and I got two brown/nude shades. I also like the rose gold packaging. 



2. Colouring books! Something that always brings me sooooo much joy.
And these one from Yellow Paper House are so lovely. 
I could colour in them for hours. It really is a great way to unstress and relax.
Aren't the tea things so cute?!
I  am also really loving glitter pens to colour. 




3. Dunkin Donuts...well how can donuts not make you happy?!


4. A slice of happiness. An almond, chocolate and brownie cake from Indigo Deli. 
So good! 


5. My sister's duppattas. Colour. Print. Silk and handmade and handwoven. I love the dupattas my sister has acquired over the years. So lovely and I really want to start borrowing from her closet. :) 

Hope your weekend is going well. 

Mine involves Murakami, movies and enjoying the slight winter nip in the air. Bombay finally feels a little chill today. 

:) 

Friday, 27 November 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton


Book: The Lake House

Author: Kate Morton

Pages: 593

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 6 hours

Plot Summary: Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.

Things I Liked: Quite a few things: 

1. The premise. With all of Kate Morton's books, it is the premise that gets to you first. The premise is very interesting- a cold case from 1933 about a missing toddler and how a young cop in 2003 tries to piece together what happens back then by using the information that's available very smartly and creatively. What is not to love?! A mystery plus the gratification one gets from historical fiction of travelling back and forth in time! Win-win-win! 

2. I loved the panoramic view of this book. This book starts in 1933, goes back to 1911, skips ahead to 2003, goes to the WWII years at some point- so much variety and so much of each of these time periods that we get to see via various characters. I, especially, loved Eleanor Edevane's perspective and story- her life in 1911-1918 and then again in the 1930s. Kate Morton always does a great job of moving effortlessly back and forth in time, which is why she is one of my favourite historical fiction writers. 

3. The Lake House covers many interesting issues/ topics but what I enjoyed the most are the ones connected to family dynamics. Secrets and what they can do to a family is one theme that is explored in a great amount of detail in this book and I love how nuanced it is. Is it important to keep certain things that impact the whole family a secret? Isn't it risky if this secret can possibly have dangerous and violent consequences? I won't go into specifics of what this great big secret at the heart of this story was, but suffice to say that the sharp reader will figure it out. 

4. The book covers the pre-WWI era and also the years between the wars leading up to WWII. The loss of innocence, lives and the impact of WWI and WWII can be felt vividly through the lives, loves and losses of our key characters. I wish more people would read about the impact of wars and realise that no one really wins in a war- we all lose something or the other. 

5. There are several wonderful characters in this book. 

Eleanor- she comes of age in this book and we get to see her from when she was 15 right up until her untimely death- who grows from an impetuous, carefree young girl to a woman burdened with keeping her family as 'normal' and happy as she could given the secret that she is protecting. 

Alice is interesting- she comes across more as a brat (even when she is older) and a fairly immature one at that throughout the book; not much character development there. 

Anthony (Alice's dad) is also an interesting character, someone that I felt the saddest for! 

Sadie- the cop who starts digging into this cold case- is nice but I wish there was more of a focused look into her as a person; I felt that we only saw her in bits and pieces, as though we were looking at a kaleidoscope. 

Clemmie- Alice's younger sister- a spunky and tomboyish girl who later joins the Airforce's ATA unit in WWII. Would have loved to have more chapters from her perspective. 

6. The writing is pretty good- as always. You stay engaged in the book and the almost-600 pages just go by very quickly. Never a dull moment. 

7. The resolution of the mystery was pretty nicely done. All the loose ends may have been tied up a little too conveniently, but there was a nice sense of closure and many things made sense. 

What I Didn't Like: A few things...

1. While I appreciate having chapters from multiple people's perspectives- always gives a multiple-paradigm view of any situation- but why have two chapters from the perspective of a 11-month old toddler?! If he can't speak and is 11 months old, he can't really be narrating things in a book, can he!? That was a bit much! Really?!!! 

2. While the resolution of the mystery of the missing toddler and what became of him was pretty satisfactory, it was also VERY convenient! Almost predictable! I wish that was not the case. I don't want to say any more and spoil the book because this is a good book and you must read it! :) 

Rating: 4/5 
Highly recommend if you are a fan of historical fiction and love reading about complicated families and interesting family dynamics. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Mini Reviews: Killing Ashish Karve and The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen by Salil Desai


Book: Killing of Ashish Karve

Author: Salil Desai

Pages: 260

Read on: Kindle (via our Kindle Unlimited subscription)

Read in: 2-3 hours

Plot Summary: Senior Inspector Saralkar is back at his desk after spending a rather annoying week at a Secrets of Living course, especially for police officers and he is itching for some action now. Luckily, an exciting new case turns up right away!

The body of Ashish Karve, a local businessman has been found in the back seat of his car. To PSI Motkar, Saralkar's diminutive assistant, it seems to be a straightforward case of suicide. But Saralkar's sharp mind is agog with the dark possibility of murder. As the case unfolds Saralkar finds enough motives for people, be it Ashishs business partner, his wife, his brother, his friend, his brother-in-law or even strangers to want to do away with him! Is the senior inspector becoming too fanciful in his imagination or is he on the right track in assuming that Ashish was killed?

Review: We tried these two books by Salil Desai because it came as a recommendation from Kindle Unlimited. Surprisingly, the books were quite well written and the murder mysteries were well crafted. In case of Killing Ashish Karve, the story builds very well and there are enough bread crumbs dropped by the author to hint at what the issue could be that led to Ashish Karve's death. 
The characters of Inspector Saralkar and Motkar and their interesting professional dynamic are pretty well crafted and you grow to like these hardworking and methodical police officers. 
The motive for the crime is slightly predictable but quite interesting, nonetheless. Also, the twisted family dynamics in the Karve family as well as Ashish's relationships at work all give us plenty of motive and potential killers. 
In sum, a quick and engrossing read. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Book: The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen 

Author: Salil Desai 

Pages: 336 

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: 2-3 hours 

Plot Summary: Late one November night, the mutilated corpse of a young Finnish tourist is found in a public garden in Pune. It looks like a case of brutal rape and murder, but Senior Inspector Saralkar and PSI Motkar find themselves probing further....delving deeper.

Standing virtually clueless, except for a single white sandal found on the scene of the crime, the policemen duo start looking for suspects.

Things get murkier when Saralkar's old friend and colleague, Inspector Patange, seeks his help to establish the identity of another murder victim - an old man found by a wooded hillside on the outskirts of Pune. Not only do the old man's injuries match the wounds inflicted on the Finnish girl, but he is also found wearing the other white sandal.

As Saralkar and Motkar struggle to find the link that connects the two murders, nothing is what it seems....The emerging truth seems far more dangerous and the motive far more bizarre! 

Who murdered Sonia , and why? 

Review: This is a very nicely crafted mystery book. The story is built up very well and there are multiple motives and suspects, so the real killer is not made too obvious. There are a few red herrings thrown in for good measure as well and I really liked that. The author also uses some amount of misdirection, which was quite good in keep the reader from getting too close to the real perpetrator. 
This is a pretty taut and engrossing read, which won't let you down. 

Rating: 4/5 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Book Haul: Books of November 2015.

Hello! 

A little book-haul today.
My book buying is on a slow beat lately. 
I don't mind. And my bank balance minds it even less. As do my over-crowded bookshelves. 

I picked up all of these books from Crossword last week. 
I liked Crossword, their selection of books and their vibe. 
On this particular trip though I was a bit miffed. There were people who were all trying to push a new membership programme on customers. Some Black membership. I am already a member of Crossword and have been for over a decade. It was annoying as hell to have people bug you over and over and try to get you to sign up and fork out INR 1500. I get it...it's their job and part of their duties to get as many people to sign up..but seriously take a hint, I said no and they still kept going on and on about the benefits!
Rant over!

Time to see the books! 
4 books and I am excited for all of them. 




How freaking gorgeous is this book cover and every single detail of this book! The art is so pretty. 




This book is full of delightful little illustrations! 
An added bonus! 







Books Bought: 

The Magic of the Lost Temple by Sudha Murthy 
Before and Then After by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan
Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel 
Lost & Found by Brooke Davis 

I love the books I've picked up and can't wait to read all of them.
I've already read the Sudha Murthy book. It was such  good fun.
Review coming soon! 

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mini-Reviews: Popular Indian Fiction.

Hello! 

Today's post is mini-reviews of some popular Indian fiction I've been dabbling in recently.
I'll be the first to say this isn't my usual go-to reading choices. I don't read 'popular' books a whole lot. I mainly read these books because of my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I essentially read all of these books for free. I figured this was a good way to try new authors and try new genres of fiction. A total win-win! 

So let's see what I thought of these books! 
I don't have a whole lot of say about these books individually so I thought of clubbing these reviews in one single post. 
These really will be mini-reviews. 


Book: Scandalous Housewives Mumbai.
Author: Madhuri Banerjee 
Pages: 255
Summary: 'Scandalous housewives: Mumbai' revolves around 4 housewives - Gita, Sarita, Natasha and Aarti, each of whom is fighting their own demons. These 4 friends, who call themselves 'Lovey Ladies' meet often in the park of Sapphire Towers where they reside and gossip about their life. Though they share the basic stuffs and pretend to be closest of friends, each one of them has a secret that they have hidden and are reluctant to share. 

What happens when are stuck in a marriage where there is no love? What happens if your husband stops paying attention to you and then suddenly, someone else does that? What happens when there is something vital missing in your wedded life? Apparently, you do adultery. That is what these lovely ladies do when they reach a point where life seems beyond bearable! And these events turn their life 360 degrees when someone finds out their truths and threatens to tell everyone about it! Their faith, friendship and love, everything is put to test at this juncture of life, where each one has their own bag of guilt to deal with!

Review: A book about four friends who live in the same apartment complex and share a close-isn bond. They are all pretty different from each other and have different lives and life situations and are each in their own way going through something challenging. We see each of these stories and see each of these lives up close and personal and get to know these women and their circumstances. 

I enjoyed this book. 
It was a fun and engaging read.
Not Earth-shaterringly good but not horrid too.
I enjoyed the time I spent with this book and these characters. 
It was a light and easy and quick read.
The plot and plot points were predictable enough and more than scandalous these housewives were largely sad and confused and stuck in a rut. 
Read if you like women's fiction and seeing the life of seemingly ordinary women. 
Totally readable but not entirely memorable. 


Rating: 3/5 


Book: Happily Murdered 
Author: Rasleen Syal 
Pages: 246
Summary: Who killed Gulab Sarin?

The radiant new daughter-in-law of the influential Mehta family dies mysteriously on the very next night of her wedding. The murder is an inside job, the police are certain. It could be anyone, the adulterous husband, conniving in-laws, jealous friend and the love struck ex-fiance. With an aim to save themselves and incriminate others, it is not long before these suspects turn into amateur detectives, hunting for clues and delving into hidden secrets only they can unearth. They coerce, pry and blackmail in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery. 

Will one of these nine unlikely sleuths finally unravel the mystery behind Gulab's death and avenge it? Or will the truth die as viciously as Gulab?

Review: I am always up for a murder mystery. And one set in a family is always an enjoyable thing. 
I was drawn to the very premise of this book and I liked it for most part.
We got to know most of the characters in this book and see their perspectives. I particularly enjoyed hearing and reading from the perspective of Gulab--our murder victim. I liked seeing her life and her thoughts on her death and circumstances. A pretty unique thing, seeing things from the dead victim's perspective! I really enjoyed that. :) 
The book got a little slow and draggy towards the middle and I just wanted the mystery to be revealed already. It really, really slowed down and got so repetitive. 
The book also has mostly unlikable characters and no one I could grow to like or root for! :( I hate when books are full of hateful people. 
Also the ending was a little disappointing. I didn't really buy the reasoning and the logic behind the perpetrator's actions. A little bit of a disappointing. 

Rating: 2/5 



Book: Eighteen Plus
Author: Apurv Nagpal 
Pages: 206 
Summary: The stories in Eighteen Plus are desi, wickedly naughty and laugh-out-loud funny. They are perfect for those hours at work when the boss is not watching, or for those empty moments at night after the kids have gone to bed and you both just cant sleep. 

Review: This was a collection of erotic/naughty stories set in modern India.
A quick and easy read.
The writing was decent.
The stories were of varying lengths, super short to some slightly longer/lengthy ones. I preferred the shorter stories to the long one. I thought they packed a better punch that the longer/more detailed ones.
The humour in this book was good too.
If you like erotica, this is a decent collection to try. 
I moderately enjoyed it.

Rating: 2.5/5 




Monday, 23 November 2015

Monday Moods: A Little Chumbak Haul.

Hello! 

And a Happy Little Monday to you. 

I am in a good mood today since it rained a little in Bombay last night. Actually it rained a good bit and rains always light my spirits. :) 

This Monday I bring you a little bit of joy. A little haul from Chumbak that I recently made. 

Three things only but I love all of them so much and they brought me so much joy. 

Let's see the pretties shall we!? 


First up this is beyond lovely backpack. I am so in love with all of the owls.
If you know me you know that I have a serious love for all things owls. Like I really, really love Owls. So when I first saw this owl backpack I wanted it and needed it. 

I won't lie the size was a little bit of disappointing. I thought it would be a tad bit bigger. Also the front leather pocket is not a pocket. It's a lie :) A little detail but no pocket. 
But I've carried the bag since and it fits everything I need and it was a joy to carry around. 


Look at them damn owls!
So pretty, so lovely. 

Also the elephants on the zipper are too cute. Such a cute little detail.





The backpack has two main compartments and the back compartment has a little pocket and a section to hold bits and bobs. 

Also the print is all over! 



We also a watch. With cats on it.
I like animals, can you tell? 

It came in a gorgeous tin with owls on it.
I've always been a fan of the Chumbak tins. 
And I adore this watch and I will use the tin to store some of my smaller earrings. 



And finally!

Bobesh! :)

My new big love.

He is meant to be a cushion but I love him like a toy...if that makes sense.

He lives in my bedroom is is lovely as can be.

Love the colours on him and he is so squishy and cute.

These are all of the gorgeous things I got from Chumbak.

:)

Bobesh is my favourite...as is the backpack. :) 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

General Whimsy: Weekend Watching--- Netflix Shows + Movies.

Hello! 

How has your weekend been? 

Mine was a slightly busy one. 

My sister has had to travel on work and we spent some time doing some prep for her travel and running some errands. 

We also managed to watch some movies and discover new TV shows to fall in love with! 

:) 

Thought I'd share and recommend some of the things I've enjoyed lately. 



1. Jessica Jones: I am a Marvel fan and watch pretty much everything that comes from the Marvel universe. :) My sister is a bigger and more avid comic book adaptation fan. If I have to choose between Marvel and DC I'd probably choose Marvel. 

My sister watches stuff from the DC-verse too.  She watched and loved Daredevil, another Netflix series earlier in the year and quite liked it. Jessica Jones is the newest offering from the DC-verse, she is  a super-hero/ private investigator. With a traumatic past looming large and the threat of Killgrave keeping her on her toes, this new Netflix series is a fun ride. I have seen the first 2 episodes and I am really loving it. 
Highly recommend. Plus it has David Tennant playing a really creepy and evil super-villain. So good!
I can't wait to watch more. 



2. Master of None: So funny! I like Aziz Ansari, he is funny and so immensely watchable. I really liked him in Parks and Recreation and he is so funny in Master of None, where he plays Dev, an actor living in New York. The show apart from being funny, witty and sincere and real, also talks of very important things like people of colour in TV, relationships with parents and old people and how their lives change as they grow older. Even though it talks of serious and important things, it does it in a real and not preachy way. I highly recommend this for some easy and fun viewing. 

Now on to some movies. Both starring Henry Cavill. I am having a bit of Henry Cavill moment. Don't judge...he is very hot and such a joy to watch ;) 


Man of Steel: Superman is my favourite superhero, ever since I was a kid. He is my most known and familiar superhero. And I make a point to watch all of the movies made with him. Somehow Man of Steel fell under my radar and I forgot all about it. Well, amended that this weekend and I am so glad I finally watching this movie. 

A fun and entertaining ride as always and such a new look and feel to a very familiar story. 
I loved this new imagining of this world. 
So good! 



The Man from U.N.C.L.E--- Who doesn't love spy movies? I know I do. And no one does  spy movies like the British do. This movie is slick and funny and fun and so full of cool, cool moments. 
Plus it'd full of vey likeable characters. So good. I really, really loved this movie. And it's set in the 60s and the fashion in this movie is such a joy to watch. 

:) 

This is what my weekend watching has entailed. 

Hope your weekend was nice too. 


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Stationery Haul: Happie Scrappie October 2015 Kit.

Hello! 

Time to share some prettiness on the blog tonight. 
Some stationery loves that we recently got in the mail. 
Happie Scrappie sends out monthly subscription kits out to those who subscribe to her wonderful stationery kit. Each month has a theme. 

In October the theme was Fruits. 
And Sam (the person behind Happie Scrappie) sent out whole lot of cute fruit themed stationery bits. 

Let's see the goodie shall we?! 

Be warned..these are so cute you might just go a little cray for it :) 


The kit comes in a super adorable envelope. Covered in cute little watermelons and a little bear in a delivery van! So much cute! 

The kit also came with a watermelon pouch which is so cute (I will say cute a ton of times in this post, just you see). The pouch is made from the softest velvet and I am not sure what I'll use it for...but use it I will. 




This is all that the package contained. 


Dashboards for planners
or 
bookmarks if you so choose. 


Sam's kits always come with these stickers. These ones above, for instance, can be used to track how many glasses or tumblers or water you drink in a day. 




Fruit sticky-notes. A slice of orange. 



A handy little list for writing down and tracking to-dos. Love the cute pineapple on it! 




A little notepad to add to the front pocket of your planner. Helpful for writing something inspiring or even making a weekly list of to-dos. 




Since we opted for the Traveler's Notebook kit this month, we got this really adorable notebook insert! The pages are full of adorable fruity illustrations and the paper quality is excellent! 




Every Happie Scrappie kit comes with a fantastic gel pen! I love this cute pear pen! 









These are little tags! You could use them as gift tags or for putting them in your planner as a cute decoration. We are thinking of laminating these and using them as bookmarks! 




Here is a dashboard. Can be laminated and used as a divider. So adorable! 





The inside of the insert- cute pages! 

We have been loving our Happie Scrappie kits and highly recommend them to anyone looking for a stationery subscription! 

Hope you enjoyed this post! :)