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Book review – Crowns of the twelve 2 – Moonlight

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As a continuation of the review on Crowns of the twelve, this book is also pulled from fairy tales.

Perhaps the author grew on me, perhaps her writing improved, but either way, I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth flowing and easy to read this book was in comparison with the first book in the series.

The story is inspired from the swan princess and actually has good morals. The emotions are depicted well and you end up liking Aowyn for her love and loyalty to her family

The characters are still a little juvenile, but they are nice, the character descriptions are good and the storyline unfolds rather well….all in all a good YA book.

I did get this book in exchange for my review….

 

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Book review – Crowns of the twelve 1 – Subtle Beauty

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SubtleBeauty

If you like fairy tales and fables, you will like the story line of this book. It is a slight twist of the Beauty and the Beast, as the description says, but it has bits of other fairytales woven into it.

Reviewing a book is a very personal thing, unlike reviewing gadgets or daily use products. Books call to readers differently. So to provide perspective to my review- , I like reading fantasy, I love fairy tales (I have Aesops fables saved as a favorite on my kindle) so ideally, Im a good target audience for this kind of book (although Im not a young adult)! The story line did interest me enough to go and get the next two books in the series as well, just for curiosity.
However, the language in the book is very off-putting. It sounds like the author does not know whether to stick with old-time English like the fairy tales or old, or to use modern language. Now Im no English teacher, but its a common strain through the book that the author “tries” to make the language sound fancy, and ends up spoiling situations that would have sounded a lot better in plain and simple English. Almost looks like the author flipped through the thesaurus and picked whatever word sounded fanciest to plug into random places.
For example, it sounds a little funny for a hero going to war and bidding goodbye to his fiancee “smirks” at her. Kind of killed the emotion for me.

However, the story itself flows at a good pace, and the language might not be an irritant to others. The author does try to insert morals into the story in places, so that is a good thing for young adults…The story is very predictable, but since it is pretty much based off of fairy tales, that is not something that takes away from the book. It is merely a fact.

The characters start by being interesting and likable. I grew to dislike the heroine by the end of the story, she seemed too silly even for a teenager. There needs to be a little something even in fairytales to make it believable (for example, the way beauty won over the beast’s heart in the original). However, the way the heroine acts is unbelievably stupid. Since it was the author’s intention to portray how silly the heroine was, and the author was successful, Id say the character portrayal itself was pretty good. The character herself, however, was annoying.

Criticism aside, I think the author has potential. She definitely captured my interest enough to get me to read her next book, and then the next, hence the 3 stars.
While this is not a book I would re read, it is good enough to pass time when you dont want to think too much.

I did receive this book in exchange for an honest review.

My take on stuff- cooling gel mat

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Summer is stealing in upon us. Well, not quite, but we do have warmer days now. And if you live with me, the house needs to be a nice, cozy 78 degrees. Last week, I had a taste of what it feels like to feel too hot in a house set at 78 deg. I caught the flu from my toddler  and was miserable with my headaches and fever. As luck would have it, I had recently purchased the frosty pillow gel mat at a discounted rate to review. I couldnt believe my luck!!

I pulled it out of my husband’s pillow case (yes, he has claimed my gel pillow!) and slipped it into its own case – a nice cooling blue. It felt amazing on my fevered brow! Here is how it looks, and the next pic is of the case it came with.I was comfortable just using it with its own case….its soft and comfy!

 

 

While I did get this at a discounted rate for my honest opinion, the views are my own…and I love this gel mat!

If you want to get yourself this great mat, go ahead and use this discount code for a full 30% off your purchase: 30TMSN15. That is awesome value!! Hurry up before summer gets here 🙂

Dogs are Gods way of giving us friendship and loyalty

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There are a number of  “dog” sayings that Ive loved:

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.  ~Roger Caras

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.  ~Author Unknown

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.  ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

 

If anyone has read of my obsession with my fitbit, its fair enough to say that I wouldnt log but 2000 steps a day if it werent for my dogs. they keep me healthy and fit. And yes, it needs discipline to have a dog. As a working mother to a toddler, the joy and duty of walking my fur babies has, unfortunately, been outsourced. I know they want their human parents to walk them. They get so excited when I pick up their leashes. While they love their walker, it’s not the same. It’s like having a nanny take you to the park instead of mom….its still fun and you still go, but it’s not the same.

No matter how busy I get and how high or low life feels at the moment, my dogs are my blessings…they are my constants in life, my pillars of love. I can fight with my husband, feel like my toddler hates me, not like anyone else I’m dealing with..but nothing ever changes the amazing love my fur boys have for me. Nothing changes how comforting it is to hug them, or how loyally they follow me around when I wake up early for work and they’d rather still be sleeping.

I can’t wait for V to grow up a little, and to take him to dog shelters, to volunteer with humane societies, to share the love these pure creatures have to give.

Its heartbreaking to think that these amazing babies of mine will live less than I will, under normal circumstances. And yet, would I want to trust their care to strangers in their old age? Maybe not. The best thing we can do for those we love is to ensure their lives are good till the end. It is much kinder to be the one enduring the pain of being left behind, than leaving behind people to mourn for you. Obviously, this is not under our control, but I hope that my dogs will never know the sorrow of pining for anyone in their pack. How will they deal if one passes on before the other?

What a macabre post this is turning into…back to cheerful things then.

Have you ever taken selfies with your dog/s? I love how patiently my pups pose…here’s one with Tux:

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Birthdays and motherhood

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Motherhood is a weird thing. Technically, you are kind of at the top of the pack. People, mostly little people, have to listen to what you say. You get to “decide” what everyone eats and when they sleep. So from a purely theoretical standpoint, you call the shots, youre the boss! Right?

Yeah, right!!! Reality, as we know, is very different. You are really somewhere at the bottom of the pack. People, mostly little people, will throw tantrums and refuse to eat what you make, so you make what they want to eat. Everyone, little and big, protests at their bedtime/turning down the volume of the TV so others can sleep/you name it. So in reality, you are really the office assistant’s assistant.

So how do people celebrate the mom’s birthday? At least while the kids are young – in my case a toddler – a birthday is just another day in a mother’s life. The husband may plan a great getaway, shower you with gifts, and in general be the romantic dude that used to sweep you off your feet before you became “mommy”, but you still need to change diapers, bathe little ones and be responsible.

Thanks to my super awesome hubby, my birthday was memorable. He whisked the family away to a mountain getaway by the lake, and showered me with a slew of Apple products I’d been eyeing. For a brief while there, I felt like the pampered girl who used to wake up on my birthday mornings, knowing I would be treated like a queen. And then I came back down to the reality of a toddler who is not sleep trained and refused to sleep.  And I came to this reality without regret. What, after all, is sweeter than an infant who needs you? And now I have my Apple Watch to play with while my son nurses to sleep 😉

 

Musings – mother of a toddler

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It seems like yesterday that we brought home a tiny infant with simple needs, few demands and little in the way of personality. Or maybe I couldnt read the personality of my little son very well. 14 months down the lane and I still struggle with being a first time mom. I am just getting to know my sweet little boy, and I feel like there is so much to learn about him! His needs are not so simple anymore nor are his demands ignorable (something I am guilty of doing at times when his cries are soft and work calls)

Is it possible to love a child more every day? I do – my boy is the joy of my life, my sunshine. And I worry that I am not doing enough with him…does that make me a bad mother? I dont go to the park every day, nor do I read him bedtime stories! When he is an adult, will that make a difference? I hope not.

And with my tiny angel now growing up, I miss the warm snuggles of a newborn who didnt want to be in ten different places at once.

I am getting back to the person that used to exist before I was pregnant, but it is hard. Its hard to be enthusiastic about a hair iron when I could be looking at a play tunnel for my boy. That is so inexplicably matronly and boring!!

And yet, I delight in finding him new toys to play with.

My nanny gave notice today. It shocked me – and I have this weird feeling of something ending. Some freedom (?), the reliance that she will clean up if I leave the kitchen a mess 🙂

But it brought home to me stronger than anything else, that I need not feel jealous of V’s time and affection. The only constants in his life for the next few years will be his father and I (and/or any potential siblings)

Millions of women have felt this before, and millions will feel this after me, but I cant get over the joy, amazement and awe of motherhood! The joy of tiny arms around you, a sweet nuzzle and snuggle with a small person wanting comfort- could anything be more precious?

After a hiatus!! Random thoughts

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So, its been a year since I wrote, maybe a little more! It has been an eventful time – I had a baby who is now 9 months old and I have a whole new list of things to spend time and money on (read babywearing, wraps, mei tais etc!!)

That said, this post is not about any of those materialistic joys of motherhood.

This is way more philosophical. I realized last night, after a very long day as I was getting ready for bed and I saw my little boy roll over in his crib, just how fast time flies. Now that is not a very original statement or emotion, but for some reason it hit home afresh.

I realized that nothing brings home your own mortality as having a baby. Nothing emphasizes with greater certainty that every day, every hour you take one step closer to your grave.

Every day, as my son reaches new milestones that will change his life forever, I realize how futile it is to expect anything to last. I try to grasp and hold onto these moments by taking a million pictures and videos, but none of that changes the fact that my baby will never be the little tot he was last month who was too small to grab things off the coffee table and just big enough to fit on my lap.

The human lifespan seems like a drop in the ocean of time. We are such fleeting beings, and yet we manage to do so much with our brief lives, both good and bad.

Dont get me wrong, I adore being a mother, every day my baby amazes me with his quirks and sweet habits. My heart melts when I see him cautiously crawl down a step or when he crawls to me and hugs my legs. But time is too short. These moments go by too fast.

Today and now, I promise to enjoy every single moment I can. 30 years down the lane, there will be no regrets, only a heart full of memories….

Home is where the heart is…?

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So they say. And I agree. Home is  where the heart is. What then would you call a heart that has multiple homes? What would you feel if you felt like a wandering mendicant for years and years? I guess you would feel what I feel!

That is very sentimental. Yes, I miss “home”….it has been 6 years and 8 months since I left my homeland. The first few years I was here…in fact the first 3.5 years, every other sentence would begin with “Back home, this is how we did it/it was lovely/ etc etc” You get the point. I refused to accept this alien country with strangers that smiled too much, roads that were too wide and devoid of pedestrians or animals, and where everything required you to fill out forms!

And well I knew it, this alien country called me an “alien” as well. I had limited scope to work, and earning my living  required permissions from “authority”. It was a strange tug of war – a struggle between fulfilling those dollar dreams you hear so much of when you grow up in Hyderabad, and retaining that patriotism, and love of everything Indian that I was so proud of. Mind you, NOT everyone felt that way. Most of my friends merely missed family, not the country.

Not I. I missed India, I still do. I miss the hustle and bustle of life there (contrast that with the fact that in the middle of the day, I can hear myself type here!), the colors you see all around you, the philosophy that seems to permeate the air (or was it only in Hyderabad where everything chalta hai ), the amazing smells of food, and yes, even the stench of the roads that people and animals freely use as bathroom/lavatory. And most of all, I miss my family. So if that is home, what is this? What is this little world that I have built for myself here, with my husband and my dogs, called? If this is home, why do I still say “Back home, vegetarianism is never a problem!”….and mean India of course!

Have I achieved the dollar dream? I dont know….is being nervous day in and day out about your visa status a sub clause of the dollar dream? If not, then no. Maybe the past looks rosy simply by virtue of being the past. You filter out the bad and remember the good. Has life improved here? Absolutely! I drive a nice car, live in a nice community, but somehow something is missing.

Back home (there I go again!), when we watched Oprah interview people who were depressed, I would wonder how anyone who could take a walk in the woods with their dogs, visit such gorgeous, clean beaches, or have centralized AC in the summer could be sad about anything…turns out woods near your house or clean beaches in the vicinity, or even all the facilities in the world do not contribute to peace of mind.

In the end, are we ever satisfied? Do we ever achieve peace by attaining material goals? I guess not! I guess there is some truth in MMY’s sayings that to find happiness outside, we need to first look within. But I must say, wisdom, or at least understanding, does come with age! Hopefully I can learn and understand some more before it is too late and I am a doddering old fool 🙂

Classics and favorites – Pride and Prejudice!

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I recently revisited an old favorite, Pride and Prejudice. I love Ms Austen’s skill of presenting the mundane in such a way as to make it exciting. Anyhow, since I now know most of the lines by heart, I wanted more. I found Pamela Aiden’s spinoff – Fitzwilliam Darcy – a Gentleman (a trilogy of books that represent the goings on of P&P from Darcy’ viewpoint).

I guiltlessly spent money on the books since the kindle version cost as much – the thought of a library never occurred to me – and set about devouring the books within three days. In addition to playing tennis and working, I pride myself in that accomplishment. As Ms Aiden would say – proper pride!

Not a bad book per se….I would have liked the end to go a little beyond P&P, but then the author only claims this to be the same story from Darcy’s viewpoint, so that is not really a flaw. I am, however, disappointed somewhat with the Darcy I met in her pages. I believe it is rightly said that one should not meet one’s childhood heroes, one is sure to be disappointed. Darcy was not my hero, but he was definitely my ideal crush. I grew up reading P&P over and over again, and with each reading, the character of Darcy grew a little more in my mind.

I am someone who dislikes watching movie adaptations of books I like. The characters as imagined by the director and producer never match what I have in mind…and having a very vivid imagination, all characters of books I read are real flesh and blood people to me. I was disappointed in Harry Potter, disgusted with Twilight, so-so about The Da Vinci Code and felt like my dream was taken and smeared with dirt with the 2005 P&P adaptation. Keira Knightly is the worst Elizabeth ever! The Darcy wasnt too bad….

Anyhow, I cannot blame Aiden for her representation of the character as she saw it. But to me, that spoiled my mental Darcy a little bit.

Do you read? Do you like movies that step out of the pages of books you love? I think it will take me a while before I can venture on another Jane Austen extension. I guess I will try Emma next – never liked her much anyway!

The sad story of Joe

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K…that is kind of misleading, but not all the way. I do mean Joe, but Joe as in Coffee, not as in a human. Those that know me know that I love coffee, cold or hot, creamy or bitter. I delight in it, but Im not addicted. I am no devil in the morning without coffee. In fact, most days I dont drink coffee at all. It is a treat that I relish when I do, though.

So…in tune with that love, I am a great follower of Starbucks. Some love it, some hate it. Rarely is anyone neutral about it. I am obviously on the “fan” end of the spectrum. So you can imagine my delight when I found that Starbucks has an android app. Finally I could consolidate my “Gold” card from Starbucks and the card on my keychain that has faithfully paid for my coffees and frappuccinos over the years. And you cannot begin to imagine my joy when I paid for my coffee with my phone! How fabulous…I can now get coffee if all I have on me is my phone.

Anyhow, I digress. That is not a sad story…the sad story I remark upon is the disastrous purchase of a Brew1 Single Serve coffee Brewer on Groupon. Being coffee crazy, I have been looking for a coffee maker, so when I found a gorgeous red one in my budget, I grabbed it. Unluckily, it arrived without the reusable capsule, and nowhere could I find the capsules that go with this coffee maker (lesson- do not buy something you’ve never heard of and cannot find on Amazon). After complaining about it to groupon, I went crazy and bought a black and decker Brew n’Go from Amazon. By the time that arrived, Groupon sent me the missing capsule for the Brew1.

End result? I now have two coffee makers for someone that does not brew more than a cup a day – if that. Im hoping someone will take one off my hands. If not, I guess I will use the coffee maker that suits my mood for the day! 😛