Thursday, 28 April 2016

An Absolute Scandal

An Absolute scandal by Penny Vincenzi is the biggest novel ( in size , about 900 pages) i have read in recent times.. Honestly my reading appetite had gone down drastically after marriage and baby . I picked this book with so much of self doubt, whether i would be able to read it despite its volume .. To my surprise , I finished reading the book mainly because i liked it :P .. So here is my review...

Set during the boom-and-bust years of the 1980s, An Absolute Scandal follows the lives of a group of people drawn together by their mutual monetary woes when the great financial institution Lloyd's undergoes a devastating downturn.  This book centres around the true events of Lloyds of London basically collapsing and what it does to the people who had invested in them. Apparently this was a huge scandal in the late 80's and devastated a lot of people. People who had invested were required by their contract to pay Lloyd's if Lloyd's was experiencing a loss.....and they had to keep paying for years! 

For Nigel Cowper, this means the destruction of his family business; his wife, Lucinda, is willing to do everything she can to help him—except give up her irresistible lover. The powerful, charismatic banker Simon Beaumont and his wife, a highly successful advertising executive, lose everything they worked so hard to acquire; but the ultimate tragedy is something that neither one could have anticipated. The well-to-do are not the only ones suffering: a self-sufficient widow is suddenly deep in debt; a single mother struggles to maintain a comfortable home for her children; and a schoolmaster and his frustrated wife find that financial problems deepen the cracks in their troubled marriage.  As their lives begin a downward spiral, these characters intersect in ways they never saw coming.

Keeping a track of all the characters was a little difficult in the beginning but once you get deep into the story, it gets easier. Simon Beaumont's character is well portrayed. Of all the characters that come in the book, his is the best. You almost fall for his charisma and class. Sometimes I felt his character is bordering towards being a womanizer. :P  And when he dies , I really felt so bad . But it was hard to believe Simon dies in an yachting mishap and such experienced yachtsman wouldn't have a safety harness .. I didn't like Lucinda's character for some reason (could be for leaving Nigel for Blue ) . The author made adultery so common in the book. There are so many that it's a little difficult to recall just who has committed adultery with whom. :P

The author has definitely succeeded in sustaining our interests with her lucid writing and intertwining plots. However, I was hoping to get more insight on the scandal. But the scandal is a mere excuse to get the characters together. We also don't get to know what happens of the law suit against Lloyds.. The author merely concentrates on the drama and aims to get happy ending for all of them.

 If you want to read a frivolous, carefree book for the entire holiday without finishing it in 2 days, this book is for you.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Move, Nourish, Believe.

Hey all..  How has March been treating you so far? My mum used to always say that March marches past fast .. It usually is the month of school exams.. It just goes too fast preparing for exams and stuff... Years after leaving school , I still feel month of March marches really fast.. First week is already gone and the soon it will be the end of first quarter of 2016. I have been busy reading books.. I am reading 3 now. I never do this .. I never start one book and move to the other without completing it.  I guess there is always a first time for everything :P . So the first one I am reading is Lorna Jane's MOVE NOURISH and BELIEVE... I don't review self help/lifestyle/memoir books.. There would always be parts you can relate to , parts you will find preachy, parts you don't agree .. So I've decided to take the good things ( from the book ) that suits me and leave the rest  :-)

It is such a simple logic to weightloss and healthy living. The book is absolutely simple and tells how following these three little steps ( philosophy ), you can achieve healthy life style. Thinking of it , honestly , it is so simple.. We will have to ensure we move enough and nourish our body with real food and not junk and then the best part is to believe we can achieve it .. To me, it is all about Belief without which it is impossible.. Belief installs self discipline in me.. The book definitely has made a positive impact on me ... Sometimes , all you need perspective in simple words.. If you get a chance , read it .. It would give you that extra umph..If you want to know more about Lorna Jane Clarkson and her philosophy , go to her website ..

The book is definitely inspirational.. My best takeaway from the book is keep my healthy lifestyle plan simple and just follow the principle Move , Nourish and Believe.. Such lovely thought to ponder on International Women's day.. Yeah .. how did you guys celebrate it ? My hubby wished me on the end of the day ( Better late than never :P ) .. Do women really celebrate it ? I doubt.. It is more commercial than real.. ( my opinion.. correct me if I am wrong :P )

I think I have mentioned how much I like the concept of establishing a morning routine .. Madame chic author Jennifer also speaks about it this week.. Watch it here.. Daily Connoisseur

Grab your coffee and read the best health, fitness and blog links of this week from Skinnyfitalicious here . - Skinnyfitalicious

Will catch up with you all next week with more fun things to read . I have got a busy weekend ahead until then see ya ..bye bye ..

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Talks of diversity ...

Hey all, How did the weekend treat you all ? My weekend was busy with the usual stuff ( grocery shopping, socialising , watching movies etc :P ) .. But what was more interesting was the 88th Oscars this week .. I saw it Monday afternoon ( in Australia , you see :P ..)  The sparkling Hollywood celebrities and the tantalizing show ... Did you guys watch ? The start was epic and very brave. The entire opening monologue of Chris Rock was just so good. Rock said in his initial words as host, "Well, I'm here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People's Choice Awards." . He nailed it when he said it was opportunity that they lack. Hats off to him.. Loved that !!! Talks of diversity continued throughout the four hour broadcast.

Oh my word, Priyanka Chopra.. she looked absolutely stunning and did pretty well in presenting the award .. :-) An Indian at Oscars podium is special, be it presenting or receiving... I do not follow Hollywood closely. To me watching Oscars is like getting to know them. I was so keen this year because I had watched quite a few of the Oscar nominees. I had personal favourites .. So the entire thing was enjoyable although I didn't follow them fully :P . Leonardo DiCaprio ( ahhh finally .. ) and Brie Larson were my personal favourites.. Brie Larson made me cry in The Room .. I also loved Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight.. And  the Mad Max : Fury Road was an entirely different experience . No wonder it won 6 Oscars .. After the Oscars, I so want to watch Eddie Redmayne in the  The Danish girl ... ahhhh well well , I can keep jabbering away about the whole Oscars thingie .. might be boring for some :P

Oh, I almost forgot to mention ( I am lying :P ) my blog has reached 1000 views this week.. The moment I mentioned this to my hubby , he asked , "is it 1000 views a day ???????? " .. Hahahahah .. No silly, in total... It might be little but definitely an achievement to me .. It has motivated me enough to post every so often ..
I recently read a post of Erin which says blogging is like having a relationship which is so true.. You can read it here.
With just last few weeks of summer left in Victoria Oz, I need to get prepared for Autumn....oops, we are in March its technically Autumn already :P... It sometimes feels weird when most of the world is getting prepared for summer, I need to do the opposite.. Hahah.. I shall keep you all posted.. :-)

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Dish

Hey all.. THE DISH.. Well, I am not talking about the movie Dish which is about a remote Australian antenna.. This is a book by Stella Newman. This is her third book after ' Pear Shaped ' and ' Left overs '.. Apparently the author seems to love food and her love for food is clearly visible in her book. :-)

 The book is about a food critic Laura Parker who writes a column called The Dish.. Laura comes to stay in London after a divorce . She tries hard to date and find the right person. She doesn't go further than 3 dates. On her way back after ending a date and dumping him or getting dumped herself , she finds this guy Adam. When Laura Parker first crosses forks with Adam Bayley, she's only after one thing: his custard doughnut. But when she takes a closer look she sees a talented, handsome man who outshines the string of jokers she's been dating. After spending the evening with him she realizes that it was his work she had criticized for that month review. To tell or not to tell, goes on in her mind. Would being honest break her new found joy with Adam at such early stage or would something sparkle between them ... 

I loved Laura, Adam and Roger ( Laura's boss ). All the characters have their own personalities and feel like real people, they just jump out of the pages, and you can't stop but you root for them and you feel involved, and you so want to know what's going to happen with all of them. You just care for them and want that everything went well for them. The author skilfully intertwines the subplots with the story. The romance between Adam and Laura looks so real and not pushy and not driven by just lust. Jess , Laura's sister is a very strong minded women who knows what she wants . Even such small characters in the novel are well portrayed and that compliments the character of the protagonist . This is a novel with all good characters and happy ending. There are no such characters you would hate or dread. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you enjoy food , you would greatly enjoy this book. It talks about food in such a way that your taste buds starts watering.. The author has given delicate details of taste and texture of food . She takes the food description to an entirely new level. I loved the email conversations and their spontaneous subject lines in the book. Truly hilarious and reminded me of my office days where 100's of emails kept flying by between me and my colleagues.. ( Thanks for that Stella ! ). What i didn't like was the story that Adam was hiding.. It didn't sound real and didn't really fit in the story and the character of Adam. May be i developed a soft corner for Adam and couldn't believe it but definitely handled well.

Overall it was like a scrumptious and wonderful garlic naan and butter chicken curry . Anybody who would love to devour a delicious love story with extremely tasty food should go for this book.. A wonderful read and lovely writing .. slurrrppp ...

Monday, 22 February 2016

A stroll down memory lane !!!

I recently took a stroll down the memory lane with so much awe at how my subconscious mind has recorded every little detail that happened in the past.. The library !!! yes ..that's what I am talking about. My mum used to take me to the Central library ( a huge and an old one ) in Madurai when I was as young as 8 years.. My mum was/is a voracious reader of Tamil novels.. I used to just accompany her on this little trip to the library that was filled with racks and racks of books of all sorts. My mum even encouraged me to read at that time and I was least bit interested. It was years later that I started reading but that may be because I was exposed to them at much younger age.. I recently visited the library and remembered glimpses of the Central library.. Hmmm my subconscious has recorded that piece of info ( Kudos to my memory !! )  and I can certainly link how it has lead me into the world of books .. Fascinating !!!

I keep cackling about books but trust me , there are loads of people who love books and are such readers that you cant compete.. I recently registered on Goodreads website ( too late ... better late than never :P ) . I saw some reading challenges like 100 books a year .. I am not a slow reader yet I don't think I can do 100 a year ( I started thinking of all excuses I can give :P ) .. It was like a slap on my face to wake up from my slumber .. What was I thinking !! I thought I read lots of books, then what would I call these bibliophiles .. I was thinking of more like 12 books a year ( silly me .. ) .. Now my target is 20 books this year ( hasn't increased much but let me be realistic ) .. I shall try and review all of them here .. Now you see why I visited the library ..

As I was browsing for books in the library, I stumbled upon this little surprise .. A blind date with a book... What an idea !! I quickly grabbed on to it .. I haven't been on any blind date before .. so the idea was thrilling .. I came home and opened the cover and it was a book of author Honey Brown.. Will tell you how the date went .. hahah..  Apart from my library nostalgia and my blind date adventure ,  I have one more event to talk about.. I recently made friends with mum of another kid who goes to school with my son. I had coffee with her Friday morning .. Ya,  I hear you mocking at me as to what is special about it.. It was nothing special or out of ordinary but...  Having coffee with somebody other than my hubby has become such a rarity these days that I simply am so PLEASED with it...  ( I know, I am sounding so desperate :P )..  I seriously do treasure such moments and thanks to god for sending a friend ... and just because I got one companion ( just for a day .. ) I wouldn't ofcourse stop blogging .. heheh

Lastly, I saw this trailer of movie Ki and Ka by director R Balki .. I thoroughly enjoyed it ( intrigued actually ) .. It has a very quirky storyline afresh pairing and hmmm ..cant wait to watch the movie.. yayy.. something to look forward to..  Catch you soon with more book reviews and coffee musings .. Until then take care all ..Bye

Sunday, 21 February 2016

If I Could Create A TV Show

Hello all... How have you been doing ? Well, wanting to be inspired for a blog post, I opened blogadda and saw the 'write over weekend' topic- " If I Could Create a TV Show " .. Honestly, the topic wasn't inspiring enough for me ( forgive me guys! ) ... Uninspired and discouraged , I turn on my TV to watch some food porn..Ya.. atleast I can feed my visual senses with gorgeous food.. I don't generally watch much TV except for some occasional indulgence :D ;-)

 Rick Stein's India was going on in Lifestyle Food channel.. Anything about India on TV catches my attention.. I am always curious to know what the outside world thinks of us :P .. Also my heart misses India a lot these days..( its gonna be a year in Oz ..).So I decided to sit and watch.. On a food channel, anything about Indian food is going to be lush.. Indian cuisine is definitely full of glamour ( visual treat !! ) and full of flavour .. gosh ..who can complain..

I started devouring the pictures of Rajma masala and lamb chops. Rick Stein was beautifully taking me through Rajasthan and its food.. So far so good... As I was enjoying the beauty of food and palaces ( taking a stroll down memory lane.. ) , there came the mood spoiler. They showed poverty stricken , busy and unclean streets of India and Bang !!! he said " That's India for you ." It might have been a wrong sentence at a wrong place but definitely did put me off from watching it ... Not happening !! In the rest of the program Rick Stein was going through Himachal Pradesh and Tibetan food but he had lost me somewhere in the streets of Rajasthan..

Oh ya .. agreed India has poverty. But what has that got to do with a food program that is totally absorbed in the rich flavours of Indian cuisine.. I have seen beggars in London and Paris too but I have never seen them shown in TV when they talk of English or French cuisine .. ( That's my humble opinion ) .. If I could create a TV show , I would create ' Alag's India ' and show all the foreign food lovers how mouth watering , appetizing and delectable Indian food is without showing glimpses of a small girl in rags or an old man limping and begging ..

Along with richness in flavour , I would like to bring out the richness in our hospitality and sociability, the grandeur of palaces and royal food thereby giving food lovers all over the world a large idea of why Indian cuisine is elaborate , authentic , medicinal and tasty.. Rick Stein did try to bring the essence of it but a slight shift in view ( might have been purely unintentional but ..) was enough to bring me down. What a picture of India would it create in the minds of the viewers ... Hmmm .. here you go blogadda .. If I could create a TV show without disparaging remarks of India and present a fully positive image to a foreign curry lover .. yummmm..

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Mrs.Funny Bones

Hello all.. oh ya, I finally read Mrs. Funnybones of Mrs.Twinkle Khanna.. it was not like I was longing to read her book but yeah I was curious.. I've always found her witty and funny ( sometimes )..So when I heard about her book it raised my curiosity.. I finished it in a jiffy .. and that's how the book is.. you know, when you need a break or to when to need to come out of  readers block, this book is perfect.. 

First of all, I should appreciate her effort.. she definitely managed to give us a glimpse of her personal life as she goes through it in a satirical way.. The actress turned interior designer turned writer Mrs. Khanna is funny and sarcastic but definitely did not make me laugh hysterically :P.. I felt the book is more like an extension of her blog and has a conversational tone throughout the book. I liked it . You get to know about Mrs .Funnybones ( her), the man of the house, the prodigal son and the baby.

She talks about life of a busy, middle aged mom who tries to reduce her weight and manage work and in laws and everything in between.. That sounds like me .. hence can relate to most of what she says... I also wondered why was she complaining about weight .. Man !! to me she looked perfect at the book launch show ... That's when you realise, you know, everybody these days feel different about their bodies and most women are on a never ending diet and want to loose more and more weight ( me too !!! ) ..There you go, she gives a perfect picture of  modern women . Multi-tasking everything like cooking, working at office, taking care of kids, worrying about weight and exercising :P .... Having said that , her complaints about baby stuff and dealing with domestic help kinda sounds more like whining ..There she sounds completely frustrated and utterly human, like you and me ( celebrity prejudice aside :P )... Amidst all that , she makes you feel certain important things in a very light hearted way.
A few excerpts that I really enjoyed ..

On her name: Naming me Twinkle was a foolproof way of making sure that I would get teased throughout my life, have immigration officers at various airports stare at my passport and shake with hysterical laughter and strangers stalk me with WhatsApp messages like, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, I hope you get hit by a car!’

On not being a philosopher:
As I am in the midst of my random musings, my reverie is interrupted by the man of the house saying, ‘I am hungry, let’s get some food!’

Sometimes I am glad I am not a philosopher – how would I ever complete a single chain of thought when someone is constantly asking me to do something? I don’t think Plato would have been able to write his dialogues if he had a wife who kept bugging him to pass the pita bread.

On her status in the house:
The man of the house has very politely informed guests who have come to see the baby that I am unavailable, as I am ‘milking’, and thereby sealed my status from cool chick to mooing cow.

On her sense of humour and her ‘prodigal’ son’s disdain for it: Him: ‘Mom, I have packed my Swiss Army knife.’
Me: ‘Why? Are you going on a school trip or trying to attack Afghanistan?’
Him: ‘Mom, your jokes suck.’

On her smartphone:
God was right when he told Adam to leave the apple alone.

She definitely is well read and has opinions on important things which comes out in every single chapter but I was certainly expecting a little more.. Overall a good book but could have been lots better. I would certainly read her next one and I think she has all potential to come up with a decent chic lit :P ( point to be noted Mrs. Khanna !!! ) and yes , please don't use the word " Blimey " anymore, you have already crossed the threshold :P

Monday, 8 February 2016

Sycamore Row

To be honest I haven't read many John Grishams . From whatever few I have read in the past , I have felt he was really good with plot. I usually read him when I don't have any David Baldacci or Jeffrey Archer. I certainly loved A Time to Kill  and The Broker. John Grisham's Sycamore row was rather disappointing compared to the previous ones that I have read ( as far as I remember ), especially it being a sequel to A Time to Kill.

Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County's most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.  The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?

So, the plot sounds interesting to begin with. As you proceed further into the story , it becomes boring and you understand that there is nothing much to say.. For a long time you find that the case doesn't proceed any further.. There is no suspense revelation .. Even the meeting with Ancil Hubbard was very straightforward and kinda obvious. Yup, the story about racism was touching but it was not worth going through the whole court room drama which was repetitive.

I should really appreciate John Grisham for his style of writing. He still managed to keep my interest to an extent. But I was hoping something interesting would pop up. I wasn't able to connect with Jake Brigance or Lettie Lang which was a great drawback I guess.. Overall a 2.5* book. I will still read more John Grisham. He hasn't lost me completely yet ..

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Introverting Outdoorsy ...

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Hi all .. How have you all been doing? I was doing alright all these days. It was a busy week with a small trip to Melbourne and my son falling sick with viral cold and wheez...Ahh ..the usual mundane stuff ( according to me ..) Amidst all these things that keep you busy , your mind always has these musings isn't it ? Some completely irrelevant to the present situation, some completely crazy, some spiritual ... My musing these days have been on my nature .. I was just thinking of how much of an extrovert I was and what am I turning into.. or am I becoming an introvert ? Or am I compelled to become one due to circumstances?
Hmm.. crazy thought !!! Ask my friends how much I talk. They shall tell you how much I love talking ( apart from how much I love coffee and many other things :P )  .. I get power and energy from it .. A good chat with a friend can fuel me up and get me going.. It isn't so these days :P . Firstly, lack of such good friends and secondly lack of practise I guess.. Ha-ha.. well, I think I have lost touch with the art of talking and entertaining people which I thought I was expert at :P
Shocking .. yes definitely shocking to me .. I am constantly doubting myself as to whether I am telling the right things ..That is so not me .. I speak my heart out usually.. Now, to avoid constant self doubt , I keep quiet ( or at least try to ).. Am I slowly leaning towards becoming an Introvert ? I will be terribly surprised if that is true...
Letting my pondering thoughts aside, I concentrate on preparing my small garden for the first summer harvest.. Yes ! tasty tomatoes and fresh mints .. More to come. Beets and potatoes .. I am so excited about growing my own veggies .. Especially after reading so much about the chemicals involved in supermarket veggies .. Wish I had more knowledge in gardening .. at least I shall try to make the most of my small veggie patch.. Gardening is more therapeutic to me that just a hobby..
I cant imagine it is already gonna be second week of Feb.. I haven't done anything about my goals .. I always wanted to have early start. But the already lazy me is becoming even more lazier.. What I need is a good self help book to motivate me .. Seriously I am a sucker for self help books :P .. I know a friend who hates self help books.. He says, " I don't listen to my parents , why should I listen to free advice of some body else " .. ( I have tried to put in a very nice way ) . I am in search of a good motivator.. Suggest some please .. I wanna buck up and do some exercise and diet..  

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Barista style coffee at home ...

Australian's are some of the most passionate coffee drinkers or so I have heard. Even in a small café, you can be surprised by freshly poured latte decorated with amazing patterns. It would be a sin if I don't go to cafe's staying in Australia . wouldn't it ? .. And my husband Mr.S has always  so generously accompanied me although he doesn't drink coffee at all :P

Look who I caught loving coffee just like me.. Maria Sharapova. She said so after her match that Melbourne coffees are the best .. hahaha.. Isn't that nice to hear. I am yet to try coffee at different cafe's of Melbourne .. I am not far Melbourne - soon I shall come :P

Q. You run a company where flavors are a big deal. You gave a big shout out to Melbourne coffee. Talk about coffee houses around the world.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I'm a big foody. I love to eat. I love to explore new restaurants. The food culture has always been an interest of mine. That's something whenever I go to a new city I like to kind of experience different foods, find different cafes.
The cafes here and coffee places are really up to par, they're really good.

My efforts to bring café standard coffees home ( without pinching your pocket ) has never diminished. I keep researching on how to bring the taste and texture of café coffees into your kitchen. Well, we keep discussing about the best coffee powders ( key ingredient ) every now and then . Apart from the coffee powder that you use , there is one other gadget that could bring café coffee home. It is a standalone milk frother. Remember, its all about getting there in a frugal way (atleast for me ..) . You don't have to invest in an expensive coffee machine.. A simple small gadget would do.


You get battery operated ones which are cheap and electric frother at different ranges. It is wise to invest in a good frother if you are going to drink more coffee ( like me ) .. It adds that famous froth of cappuccino into your cup of java.. If you love the lattes and cappuccino's , this gadget is a definite must..

I am sure a lot of you might say, " Oh, I was expecting some secret tip .. and you are telling the obvious" . Yeah, I am telling you this now because I recently stumbled on it and fell in love with it.. Like a child wanting to flaunt its new found talent, I was just waiting to tell you all.. That's all...

With the entry of this new boy ( a Lavazza milk frother ) in my kitchen, the amount of coffee that I drink at home has definitely increased .. Truly.. I mean , who wouldn't want to watch a movie or read a book with a creamy cappuccino in their hand .. I am off to watch " Spectre " with a freshly brewed home made café style coffee... I didn't like Daniel Craig as James Bond ( still don't like :P ) .. Hence  didn't watch any of his bond movies ...This is the first .. Hope I like it .. or whatever .. movie and coffee , what more do I want :P

So ok people , bye bye for now and meet you all soon with a book review ( been long time isn't it ..)