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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Book Review : One Indian Girl ( By Chetan Bhagat )


















For the first time, I have to admit that Chetan Bhagat's work is 'something special'. Having read each one of his creations, I can safely conclude that the guy is popular because of the connection he is able to establish with the readers. Yes, all this book have that one character whom the average Indian can identify with. And since the average Indian comes in all shapes, sizes and skin color, the characters keep changing. This time it is an Indian girl ( not an average one but someone very special ) whom quite a large number of female readers would connect with.

Whether it is the pseudo-feminist Debu, the debonair Neel or a sweet and nerdy Brijesh, it is a book that explores the male psych from a female perspective. Riya, the protagonist is clearly an overachiever with a cushy job at Goldman Sachs and a whole load of baggage regarding her physical appearance. Now, it may sound regressive but in the real world, Indian girls are still brought up to obsess over their looks. To keep things more alive, Riya has a mother who is constantly trying to marry her off. Magical touch isn't it ?

Almost every second girl earning a decent package and who has crossed the age of 25 can relate to this 'secret desire' to settle down. It is a different story that they will never admit to it and instead blame it on the pushy relatives. Also known as the Cinderella complex, it is nothing but an all consuming desire of having someone take care of you. Never mind that you end up mothering the guy even as you draw an equal paycheck. Huh ??

However, it is Bhagat's take on the guys which is clearly more interesting. He has stereotyped them in pretty much the same way as we females do. While it is very much possible for a writer to slip under the skin of a character, this is one epic effort. The male characterization is clearly one of the key strengths of this book.

As Debu shows us, it is an entirely different ball game to pay lip service to the concept of female equality and being man enough to accept a wife who earns more than him. Neel on the other hand belongs to the somewhat sparse tribe of super successful men who are still insecure in parts. Don't we call it the 'middle age crisis' or something like that ? Wanting to hold on to a younger woman apparently offers them some extent of redemption. These are the guys who keep the gossip mills going during the water cooler/tea/coffee breaks . And every organisation has one or two such specimens. Though not all of them happen to be star-crossed like that Phaneesh Murthy guy !

Brijesh is the sweetest of them all. A nerd who works with Facebook, he is not only the obedient son who also supportive of his wife. But not in a patronizing way . The weed episode in Goa establishes him as quite the cool guy. Towards the end when all everything comes together (or rather falls apart), we realize that he is only human but one with a kind soul.

Overall, a nice read. Not that it will leave you with much to introspect but a smile on the face is guaranteed  !

Statutory Warning - The male of the species may find this less than amazing . Especially the types who are inclined to pass judgement on anything (living / non-living) within the radius of mile or sometimes even more.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review : This Love That Feels Right ( by Ravinder Singh )
























There is nothing like bad publicity when it comes to selling a book. As it happened in this case, I desperately wanted to read this one after going through the reviews of a few individuals who had their knickers in a knot ( sorry for that colloquial expression...kids these days rarely use it ) because it treads on the treacherous premises of an extramarital affair. No. I am not pointing any accusing fingers at the author just because another individual decided to voice an 'unsavory' opinion in cyberspace.

If anything, Ravinder Singh deserves a high-five for writing this amazing book. In a consumerist world, where every single want/need calls for instant gratification, this is a love story that sweats, simmers and stews for the entire duration of the book instead of being subjected to a quick blast of the microwave. If you are wondering where that came from, that parallel is just the side effect of being into food blogging for seven long years. Now, coming back to the author, this is the first time I have picked one of his books and I am happy that I did so.

The plot is centered around a young woman caught up in a unhappy marriage. Naina falls in love with her personal trainer Aarav and it so happens that the attraction is mutual. Just as you think of dismissing it as yet another extramarital affair, Ravinder Singh plays it out with such emotional flair that one is left asking for more. Surprisingly, there is no action between the sheets as one would expect when dealing with this sub-genre. The story moves ahead in such a fashion that everything from their initial attraction to their subsequent inner turmoils are showcased brilliantly. And maybe that is the best thing about the narrative. It is all very real and convincing.

The introduction of a third character who serves as a common friend and helps Naina to break free from shackles of a conservative upbringing is great addition to the main plot. Manvika is not only smart and sassy but the polar opposite of the reticent Naina.

Though it touches upon the much debated topic of adultery, is the most poignant portrayal of a bond between two members of the opposite sex. Is it an attempt to sanctify extramarital relationships ? I very much doubt so for the story takes a positive though not exactly happy turn at the end. You have to read it yourself to get the point.

Does it succeed in changing my view of such relationships ? No, it does not. For in the real world, most of these individuals are selfish assholes. I have come across quite a few and I am sure most of you would have encountered them. Human relationships continue to be governed by very complex laws of probabilities and one literary piece cannot change that.

However, this is one book that I really loved and would happily recommend to everyone !!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Closure

















She opened a blank notebook. The only unmarked one that she owned. The pages had turned yellow over the twenty odd years that it had been in her possession. Even the once blazing golden threads on the leather cover had blackened considerably. She had bought it on a whim even though it had cost a bomb.

She traveled back in time. Going through the rows of shops at the Tibetan market on a trip to Pondicherry, the youngster had stopped abruptly at a small shop selling various curios. Her Dad had been holding her hand and the sudden ceasing of movement caught his attention. He looked at his little girl casting a wistful look at the various notebooks, diaries and pens displayed on the counter.

"Want one of these ?", he smiled at her while picking up one of the hand-crafted wooden pens.

"No Daddy. I want this. This one is calling out to me", she replied even as she held up a leather bound volume that had the most intricate pattern woven in golden threads.

He took one good look at the notebook his angel held in her hands and knew that it would turn out to be an expensive bargain. Though a part of him wanted to dissuade her, another one watched proudly as her slim fingers alternately caressed and gripped the fascinating article. "She loves it. She must have it", an voice whispered into his ears.

"What will you do with it ?", he inquired playfully.

A beautiful smile lit up the youngster's face making her seem even more angelic in the eyes of her devoted father. His question was the sign that she would get what she wanted. Her hero would never fail her.

"It is very special Daddy. I will use it to pen down the most beautiful story ever ", she replied back in a manner not unlike a spirited sixteen year old.

"Yes you will my dear", he said as he ruffled her unruly hair.

"Knock. Knock". A sharp rap on the door brought her back to the present.

"Another ten minutes please", she almost screamed. Tears stung her eyes. Flipping through the blank pages had brought back memories of heartbreak. All her relationships had been unmitigated disasters till she met him. The smile was back on her face.

Glancing at the mirror, she saw the radiant bride smiling back at her. The makeup was minimal, the jewelry sparse and the hair which just fell short of reaching her shoulders. A hair stylist had cleverly manipulated the short tresses with a few red roses to give it a festive look. But it was the simple red silk saree with an elegant golden border that owned her curves lovingly and made her appear like the bride.

She touched up her face for the final time and pulled back a few stray strands. On another day she would have left them loose but today they had the potential of spoiling the wedding photos. A pink blush suffused her visage as she realized her yearning for the feel of his strong fingers stroking her cheeks as he picked up the stray strands of her hair and lovingly tucked them behind her ears.

"Knock. Knock." Yet another impatient rap on the door. "Final call. Everyone is waiting", yelled her friend.

"Another two minutes please", she yelled back.

Picking up the notebook and her favorite Parker pen, she opened the first page and wrote 'Thank you Daddy'.

Turning it to the very last page, she continued

'The right guy is not the one who can make out the difference between Russian Red and Ruby Woo. But the one who understands why you choose to wear either.'

'Thank you Joy.'

Once she had put it away in a safe place, she hurried to open the door. And there he stood. Just where she had expected to find him. There was no trace of irritation on his face as he came forward to hold her hand.

"I can wait all my life dear. But these people gathered over here just cannot wait any longer to open the champagne", he cooed into her ears as they walked towards the car.


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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Seeking Love









































Copyright Alert - This is an original creation by the blog owner ! Please DO NOT copy or reproduce in any form.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Follo.in - The One-Stop Shop for Bollywood Dope

In a country divided by religious beliefs, Bollywood is perhaps the only unifying factor that succeeds in evoking familiar feelings among all countrymen. Given it's all encompassing wake, even Cricket, another strong cohesive force, comes a close second. Planning to disagree ? Grab some caffeine and jog up your grey cells to recall those India-Pakistan matches which just about manage to make people switch allegiances . I rest my case without any room for further arguments.
















For most of us, our daily dose of Bollywood news is sacrosanct. Whether it is a newspaper column, a movie glossy, TV channel or even your favorite RJ, we suck up these tidbits about our favorite movie stars, their professional lives or personal shenanigans with much eagerness. But if you have ever wished for that one-stop source that could update one on all the latest filmy 'gupshup' and even more, here comes your answer in the form of follo.in. It has all the news that you ever wanted to know plus exciting movie quizzes and a chance to win some autographed paraphernalia. So what are you waiting for ? Head out to follo.in and get your daily dose of latest Bollywood news. And don't forget to download the Follo App that lets you connect with your favorite celebs.

But coming back to the chauvinistic ways of Bollywood, things could take quite an interesting turn if the director's baton be passed on the likes of Farah Khan, Zoya Akhtar for remaking some popular movies. And to add more punch to girl-power, the lead (read 'male') protagonists would be replaced by kick-ass actresses like Kangana Ranaut, Richha Chaddha or even our 'desi' girl ( now almost settled in 'videsh' ) Priyanka Chopra.

Here is a list of movies that I hope would come up with an 'Estrogen' laden makeover -

1. Dil Chahta Hai - Replacing the trio of boys Aamir Khan, Akshaya Khanna and Saif Ali, it would be fun to watch an all-girl gang handle the rather tangled ropes of love and relationships. Not to forget the fun-tastic road trip that adds to the movie's charm. Any guesses about the casting ? I would bet on Priyanka Chopra, Richa Chaddha and Kareena Kapoor.

2. Three Idiots - There are enough female students in engineering colleges who would vote to an encore of this cult movie, albeit with an all female cast. Unlike popular perception, the girls in Engineering do have their share of fun. It's time someone explored the territory. I would put my money on the trio of Kangana Ranaut, Deepika Padukone and Shraddha Kapoor to go justice to this one.

3. Agent Vinod - Everytime I see one of these swashbuckling capers, I instinctively yearn for a 'desi version of Lara Croft. While there have been a few movies recently where the actress got to do some amazing stunts, none of them have been comparable to this phenomenal Hollywood character. Sunny Leone packs in the right attitude to play this deadly beauty though Priyanka Chopra comes close after her 'Quantico' success.

4. Andaz Apna Apna - Though it was not labelled as a hit, this endearing movie has made it to the list of favorites for many. The sheer comic timing of Aamir Khan and Salman Khan is unforgettable at the best. Considering that not many female actresses get to explore this genre, I would bet my money on Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra to add a few more interesting gags to the laugh riot.

For more such crazy takes on Bollywood and the celebrities, do check out follo.in .

Or connect via their social media handles -

FB – Follocelebs 
Twitter - @Follocelebs 
YouTube – Follocelebs 











Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Review : The Tantric Curse ( Anupama Garg ) / Rupa Publications
























"We do not fear the unknown.
  We fear what we think we know about the unknown." - Teal Swan

Tantric traditions undeniably fall into the second category. Much reviled for centuries and feared by masses, Tantrics are assumed to be loners who cast blood-curdling spells on hapless people. This book is an attempt to dispel such myths as it charts the course taken by the life of a female Tantrik.

The story of Rhea and Krishnam is one set in today's world and yet it regresses just enough to accommodate the internal workings in a realm inhabited by the Tantrics or seekers of the spiritual. Their initial days of friendship, the seamless transformation as they go through teenage and finally the maturity with which they seal their relationship is beautifully narrated in a language that is easy and flowing. 

Rhea's interaction with people from outside the 'sadhanasthal' is also beautifully documented. Her school friends reluctance to visit Rhea's residence, the fear that her background evokes among the college crowd and finally the balanced approach taken by her to 'cure' her patients speak volumes about the skewered perceptions of the masses regarding what can be defined as 'psychic powers'.

The twist in the plot due to which Rhea is separated from Krishnam and which makes way for Dr Vishnukant to enter their lives is handled with tenderness. The relationship between Rhea and the latter has a dignified angle to it and somehow works with the given story-line.

There are detailed explanations on each and every aspect of Tantra and Hinduism in almost every chapter. But they are integrated into the narrative in such a manner that they might as well be a part of the plot instead of being speed-breakers. 

Inspite of my earlier misgivings regarding a book based on a 'Tantric' plot, I thoroughly enjoyed it! It manages to portray relationships in all their simplicity and complexity at the same time even as it does a fair job of introducing the principles of Tantra. Though it fails to breach that barrier required for me to deem it as 'thought provoking', it is immensely enjoyable. I read it in the small gap ( I would rather call it a breather ) between two heavy weights ( Murakami and Orhan Pamuk ). And for a change, I have to admit that at times simple things can really feel refreshing ! Not revealing much of the storyline as that will make it a spoiler.

Read this one without any prejudices and you will love it !


Disclaimer - The book was sent over by the PR team for a review. However the opinions expressed are solely my own. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Review(s) : Little Vinayak / Monkeys On A fast (Karadi Tales)

"Children see magic because they look for it." - Christopher Moore

Childhood is indeed magical because children possess that unique ability to believe, to trust and most importantly, to accept. And that is precisely why it is the best time to indoctrinate them with values that will hold them in good stead throughout their life.

While there can be many ways of imparting life lessons to kids, I personally prefer doing it via the medium of books. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I have been surrounded by books right from my childhood days. I remember spending hours poring through those magical colorful volumes that transport one from the mundane real world to the realm of unparalleled possibilities. And I still love doing it. Even though I am mother to a four year old who keeps me on my toes most of the time.

These days I have been busy trying to initiate my kid to the wonderful world of children's books. And hence I was delighted when I was approached by the team at Karadi Tales for reviewing their volumes. They sent me two of their books for a review and I had a wonderful time going through them with my son.


Little Vinayak ( Shobha Viswanath/ Shilpa Ranade )













This is a beautifully illustrated volume about a baby elephant who is struggling to managing his extra long trunk. The story revolves around his everyday struggles, the equation with his family and the relationship he shares with his best friend who happens to be a monkey.






The problem is resolved when the baby elephant meets an adult who helps him to adapt to the situation. The plot touches upon the importance of a mentor in one's life. And it concludes with a beautiful message 'The trick is to manage the problem, and not let the problem manage you'.

The language is kept simple so that most kids can relate to it.  But at the same time, it is peppered with a dozen words that would add to their vocabulary.

At Rs 395/- per copy (hardcopy), it may seem a little steeply priced but one has the option of opting for the much reasonably priced audio book.

Overall, it is a wonderful book !! ( rating - 4.5/5 )


Monkeys On A Fast ( Kaushik Viswanath / Shilpa Ranade )





















The funnier one among the two, this ebook has turned out to be a favorite with my kid. It is a nicely woven story about a band of monkey headed by a chief named Chakku. They are faced with a peculiar problem that most people can relate to. These are a bunch of obese monkeys who resolve to go on a diet as instructed by the chief.

But do they manage to succeed ? Alas, the chief's grand intentions are brought to naught by a wily monkey who outwits him. And it is quite interesting to notice that he manages to do it in a very clever way, one step at a time.

The illustrations are neat and quite colorful too. The language is kept simple and easy to grasp.

Available in hardcover, paperback and audio to suit all budgets.

Amazing book !! ( Rating 5/5 )


I would like to add that the publishers have made it a point of including interesting trivia about animals in all the books. Don't you think it is a simple yet ingenious way of adding value to a book!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review : The Story Of A Suicide (by Sriram Ayer)

I love it when a book leaves me with a hangover ! If you haven't experienced that kind of a feeling ever, I have to say that you have not been reading the right kind of books. For books have the power to take one on an emotional roller coaster and change the way we perceive life in general. Good books are capable of providing an high that can last for days or even months.

'The Story Of a Suicide' could have been just another book based on the lives of a bunch of college students. But for the powerful narration that holds one spellbound till the very last. It deals with real and perceived issues faced by youngsters in a society that has undergone a tectonic shift on the moral front. Sriram Ayer has touched upon a plethora of topics like child sexual abuse, homosexuality, sexual liberation, voyeurism and egotism by painting his four characters in various shades of grey. This is a story that begins with an attempted suicide and ends with a real one which brings to fore the fact that youngsters view suicide as a quick escape to their myriad problems. Problems that have been aggravated by their self centered behavior and addiction to social media.

One of my favorite chapters in this book is the battle of wits between Caesar and Draupadi. Camouflaged beautifully as a stage act, it portrays the character of Charu and the battles raging within her. When Draupadi mouths the words "Why is being chaste, the cornerstone of a woman's character? And why does that rule never apply to a man?", it may as well be Charu speaking her mind. And this assumption gets vindicated when she puts up an explosive post on Facebook berating men and their sexually laced motives behind every achievement.

After reading the book, I could only conclude that if this generation gives up it's 'Me, mine and myself' approach, things would be much simpler. A cool headed and rational approach like Alex or atleast the presence of a person like him is what they need. After all, everyone can do with a person who does not judge them. Doesn't matter if it is a friend, family member or even a stranger.

Ironically, for a book that is based on sexuality, this one does not resort to sex to sell a few more copies. Not that it needs to .

This book is available online and can be read HERE.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tell Me a Magical Story

"Mama ! Mammaaa !! See what Uncle has got !", screamed my kid as he raced ahead of the courier guy who was carrying a slim parcel. As is the case with kids, he could not contain his excitement till he opened ( or rather brutalized ) the parcel to reveal it's contents. And in this case, he was even more intrigued when he saw the flattened toothpaste boxes. "Where is the toothpaste ? Who has taken it ?", I was bombarded with a million questions within the span of a few nanoseconds. To a four-year-old's rather fertile imagination, it was yet another 'whodunit' and he was getting restless to crack the case.

However, the last thing I wanted was cracks on my skull from incessant head-banging ( if it took longer than a split second to figure out the reason then you obviously do not belong to the tribe of despairing mothers ) . I told him that there were stories inside the cartons and we need to cut them open to reveal a world of magical sea creatures . He immediately took to the theme 'Coral Reef' which featured a quartet of sea creatures whom he felt the obvious need to christen . Hence were born 'Tio' the sea turtle, 'Hero' the sea horse, 'Stripes', the lion fish and 'Big Mouth' the barracuda.

The Coral reef with multicolored corals and light emitting fish ( inspired by 'Life of Pi' which he has watched half a dozen times) became their neighborhood complete with a school and a play area. Taking a cue from the trio of his real life friends, Tio, Hero and Stripes become buddies while Big Mouth becomes a feared bully whose stories they have been hearing for their mothers.

So here goes the story -
















'One day Tio, Hero and Stripes started for their school. Weaving their way through the beautiful coral reef, the three friends wondered aloud about what might lay on the other side of the reef. Their respective mothers had warned them not to stray from the beaten path. The reef was a hunting ground for Big Mouth, the much feared barracuda.

"Hey look there !!", Tio caught sight of a beautiful fish that glowed with a blue and red light. While they had all seen fish that glowed in the dark depths of the ocean, this one stood out. "Let's follow it . There may be more of them.", added Stripes, the most curious among the three. "Maybe we will find some delicious shrimps too", piped Hero who was an incorrigible glutton. Tio and Stripes laughed at their greedy friend. They continued to swim after the fish who ducked in and out of various corals as it led them far from their home.

Suddenly they came to a stop. This part of the reef looked very different from theirs. It was significantly darker and even the fish around them looked bigger and more fearsome. The three friends started getting scared. "Let's go back", spoke Hero who was almost on the verge of tears. He had forgotten all about eating. "Yes, lets turn back before we lose our way", spoke Tio who was the sensible one. They turned back only to find their way blocked by a huge fish with a really big mouth.

"I am Big Mouth", thundered the fish who looked terrifying. The three friends were really scared by now. They had dismissed their mother's warning as a mere tale meant to scare the children from venturing too far. But now they knew that Big Mouth did really exist and he was right in front of them.

Tio was scared too but he did not lose courage. He signaled to Stripes before moving right in front of the big fish. "You fatso ! Let's see if you can catch me first ", he dared Big Mouth before swimming away from him. The barracuda's mouth started watering at the sight of the juicy turtle and he sped after him. The turtle led him on a chase before he found the way blocked by a huge rock.

The barracuda gave a sinister smile as it approached the now trapped turtle. "I am going to swallow you alive", he bared his sinister teeth. Tio's heart started beating fast as he said a quick prayer. Big Mouth was really close to him and he was immobilized with fear.

Just then the barracuda felt a sharp stinging sensation near the tail. Pain gripped his body and he started thrashing around. Stripes had been initially scared to take Tio's hint but knew that their safety depended on it. He had tailed the barracuda as it chased it's prey. And when the latter's attention was completely focused on the turtle, he had moved in from behind and dug his poison laden fins into the big fish.

This was their chance to escape. The barracuda was in no position to chase them and they lost no time in swimming back to the safety of their own home. As always, it was Tio who led the pack . '

This post is written for Colgate and inspired by the characters of 'Coral Reef', which is one of the four magical story themes printed on the special edition packs .

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review : 69 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married ( Parul Tyagi )

"Marriage begins at the end of Honeymoon. The grand ceremony is not marriage. It is called a wedding."

















Those words set the tone for the contents of this book which can be aptly described as a practical guide to surviving a marriage. It is highly recommended for people who plan to tie the knot and are still into the honeymoon phase of their married life. And I recommend that you read the book right from the introduction portion so that you can accept certain portions in the later half.

The best thing I like about this one is that it emphasizes a lot on friendship in a marriage. Love may fade away but friendship does not. It makes sense to treat a partner as an equal just like you would treat a friend rather than burdening him/her with your share of expectations. And importantly stand by them when they need you the most.

The topic of having children is also dealt without mincing words. "How babies and their parents look on your Facebook Timeline is totally different from what the process entails in real life." . She could not have put it in a better way. Babies means sleepless night, giving up on vacations, going around looking like a mess at least for the initial months and even taking a career break. Believe me it is not an easy thing to do. It is my personal experience that one moment people around you will suffocate you with inspiring stories about how a mother is supposed to be all heart and sacrifice, but the very next moment they will share a story about someone who managed to bring up two brilliant kids inspite of holding on to a challenging job. One can very well imagine what it can does to a person who is already suffering from postpartum blues. Hence, as the author says "make an informed choice".

Another chapter that caught my attention was the one on the topic of 'Love marriage versus Arranged marriage'. Both come with their set of teething problems and infact those who have had a love marriage often need to work harder to prove themselves. Just like that pretty ( but deserving ) girl in your office who got the promotions when there were others waiting in queue. You need to prove yourself worthy and make your in-laws believe that your partner did not get taken in with your looks or money or whatever.

Now, I am not giving away the entire plot in this review. Buy a copy for yourself and read it. I promise you wont be regretting it.

Did a quick online review of this one . You can check it out here -




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Survival of the Fittest

Do you remember the pain of missing out on a podium finish just because you ended up with a bout of sickness during the exams ? Or the sheer dejection of not making it to the inter-school volleyball team thanks to the lack of a few centimeters ? Well, it is not enough to be good, one has to be better if not the best to stand out among a crowd.

Image credits : victoriaurological.org
























But these are just the better scenarios that I have described. Can you imagine the sadness of a kid when their own friends did not want them on the team because they were termed too scrawny/too short and hence considered to be the weakest link ? Yes, children can be quite cruel when they want to be. And this kind of labeling and social rejection can deal a blow to a child's self esteem and lead to serious body image issues at a later stage.

Image credits : thehealthinfosite.com


















Being a parent, it becomes a prime responsibility to ensure that a child does suffer due to any of these reasons. Apart from the long term risks factors due to nutritional deficiencies ( which are seldom evident ), there is always the immediate concern of ensuring that they do not lose out on school attendance along with those dozen little things that make childhood so special. Take a simple example where a kid is denied an ice-cream because he or she is always catching a cold. But seldom do parent realize that it might be caused by low levels of Vitamin D. This is where fortified foods and especially nutritional drinks come to the rescue. On an individual level, it can become quite daunting for the parents to track the vitamin/ mineral/ protein intake of their children. Hence a nutritional supplement which is designed keeping the general population in mind may be the best answer yet to fill the gaps in a child's diet.

Most health drinks have their focus on the RDA or the Recommended Daily Allowance. These contain enough of the nutritional supplements to ensure that the child's growth is on track and that they do not fall behind their peers. But what about those children who are already falling behind by a good measure ? Is there any way to ensure that they are brought to par ?

growthpluscalculator.horlicks.in
















And that is exactly what Horlicks Growth Plus promises to deliver! It helps kids in the age group 3-9 to 'Catch up on growth' by helping them add inches and weight. This product designed by pediatric experts targets a crucial age because is the phase when kids are most likely to lag behind their peers on these two parameters. The age group of 2-6 years is the time when kids are still building immunity hence they are susceptible to frequent bouts of illness. Plus, the majority of them are picky eaters which does not help the cause. And it is the combination of these two factors which result in children falling behind the recommended growth curves.

Go for it as it is the best chance for your kids to catch up on lost growth !!

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Malady called Domestic Abuse

The Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was a certified wife beater. While it is still being debated if homophobia or Islamic leanings was his primary motive behind carrying out the heinous carnage, his tendency towards domestic violence is certainly a precursor of the greater violence that he was capable of. However, like all good decent women do, his former wife chose to keep quite about it. That is till he opened fire in a nightclub killing 50 people.

Image courtesy : Getty Images



















Remarkably, the incident comes at a time when Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is undergoing trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who was ironically as campaigner against domestic abuse. He had been accused of violence by a former girlfriend and two weeks before the murder, Steenkamp had messaged the former saying that she was "scared" of him. His plea of 'culpable homicide' was changed to murder given his past record.

Image courtesy : www.independent.co.uk


















But even as Pistorius pleads to living in mortal fear of intruders, and walks the courtroom on his stumps to reinforce his vulnerability, we need to rethink if domestic violence is only about physical violence. Does the perpetrator need to have a powerful physique do harm ? What about the psychological aspect of it ?

Image credits : www.newham.gov.uk















Domestic violence is a sad truth. Most of us know a near and dear one who has been touched by it. While we often refuse to acknowledge that it happened in the first place and women are even taught to believe that it is the retribution for something which they did ( or did not do ), these two random and seemingly incidents highlight the dangers of domestic violence. While every wife-beater might not morph into a terrorist or a murderer, we need to be very afraid of these deceased minds.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review : Our Impossible Love ( Durjoy Dutta )























Buy online HERE.


This one should have been labelled 'Our Inscrutable Love'. Or still better 'Our Improbable Story'. For, it is the kind of story that lacks conviction. In some ways, it is rather similar to a masala potboiler Hindi movie but sadly, it trivializes issues like rape and gay rights. Plus the love story between a student and a counselor (deemed as a failure by his own parents) is hardly happening. If anything, it is just too superficial except for a few stray chapters when the author makes you cry and laugh out simultaneously. Not because it is funny but just coz it is so cliched.

Why did I pick this one ?? Now, for the longest time I had been reading mostly mythology written by Indian authors, fiction by Jeffery Archer and heavy philosophical stuff by Murakami/Orhan Pamuk etc. Wanted something lighthearted for a change and this one came highly recommended. Just don't ask me who did it ! Plus I got it on Kindle when there was a good offer .So, now I can happily delete it as I am done. I hate to give away by books even when they are real crappy and so I have a shelf space issue at home. Just the reason why I have promised myself that I every time I buy a book, the next one will have to be an Kindle version.

Getting back to the story, the female lead Aisha is a seventeen year old who is five years late into getting her periods. She is obsessed about it. And when it does come, she creates a scene. Well, that is what the author would like us to believe. Sounds incredible , doesn't it ! But the story gets even more incredible as we are told that the mother suffers from a kidney disease which has left the family under financial strain and the father has to take up whatever transfers comes his way to make some extra money.

The male lead Danish starts out as a loser cannot even garner enough marks to pass his exams. And yet his brother is an IIT genius who has got the startup guys queuing up at the doorstep. Plus, he is real lucky with the girls.

And somewhere in between we are introduced to Sarthak, Aisha's brother who prefers to keep to himself. We later get to know that he is gay and has been planning secretly to get away to Poland just because they gays marriages are acceptable there.

But the saddest part of the book is when Aisha is raped on a date and the manner in which Sarthak gets bullied just because he is gay. While the characters in this book are from a posh Delhi school, the real issue that the author has tried to deal with is 'Campus rape'. There has been tremendous debate on this issue and as to what constitutes to consent of the girl. One of the lines uttered by Vibhor (the accused guy) rightly exposes the attitude of the perpetrators. "Usually girls are so drunk after just one drink", he says and this often used as a excuse for committing the crime.

But the second half of the book in which Danish helps Aisha to cope with the situation and leads her back to a normal life is well written and commendable. Plus the way in which Ankit, Danish's brother, pitches in is quite sweet. The idea of developing an App to help people help others is a good one though not very practical.

This book works in parts and I have a lingering doubt that Durjoy Dutta started writing this one with something good in mind. But the final outcome lacks the desired sensitivity and sensationalizes trivial stuff. Despite all his efforts, one would still accuse him of using sex to sell the book.

Would I recommend it ? Well, he is already quite popular with the youngsters given that his target audience seems to be in the age bracket of 16 to 25. Maybe an overdose of sex works just right for them.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Book Review : Norwegian Wood ( Haruki Murakami )
























Norwegian Wood is Murakami's most normal book till date and his most iconic work too !! With a title inspired by the Beatles hit by the same name, it is solely responsible for his legendary status in the Western world. A love story where most of the characters are closely linked by death, it is devoid of a fairy tale ending. But what else can one expect when you have an mad genius like Murakami takes a shot at penning down romance .

The protagonist Toru lives a world of anonymity to escape his past. But the past has a way of catching up with one and he bumps into someone from his past. Naoko is the childhood sweetheart of his dead friend Kizuki. He falls in love with her and from thereon starts his foray into a world of despair.

The book delves into adolescent sexuality, masturbation, dormitory life, student politics and other such day to day issues that most youngsters have to deal with. But the high point of the book is a normal character, Midori. An absolute delight, the girl is almost like a ray of sunshine on a dark and gloomy day. Despite the problems that plague her family, she carries on living with a braveness that belies her tender age. When she falls in love with Toru, she is already in a relationship but cannot stop herself from being drawn to him. She loves him unconditionally and yet she does not let herself be treated as the doormat. Everything that she does makes it quite apparent that she is both human and superhuman at the same time.

Another lovable character is the woman Reiko who shares a room with Noako at the sanatorium. Her story is something that should be shared with every kid's parents. A child prodigy who has her special powers taken away from her suddenly, she describes her state in these moving lines."No more applause, no one would make a big fuss over me, no one would tell me how wonderful I was."

Overall, it is a wonderful book and arguably most enjoyable ( I think I will tie this one with Kakfa On The Shore ) among all of Murakami's works. Yet, if you used to his dark and oppressive volumes, it may actually comes across as a little too lighthearted. But one that cannot be deemed superficial by any yardstick.

Highly recommended !!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Review : The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks ( by Rebecca Skloot )
























Buy online HERE.

"HeLa cell /ˈhlɑː/, also Hela or hela cell, is a cell type in an immortal cell line used in scientific research. It is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line. The line was derived from cervical cancer cells taken on February 8, 1951 from Henrietta Lacks, a patient who died of her cancer on October 4, 1951. The cell line was found to be remarkably durable and prolific which warrants its extensive use in scientific research" - Wikipedia .

But Wiki hardly mentions anything about Henreitta Lacks apart from the fact that the cells were taken without her knowledge or consent. Nor do the 14,10,00,000 entries that a google search by the same name throws up. With the cells contributing so much to medical advancement, she certainly deserved for her story to be told. Believe me, lesser mortals have had their lives immortalized in literature and/or celluloid. 

Finally, it took a award winning science writer to take up a story like this one. The author Rebecca Skloot has done a commendable job in telling the story of the poor black tobacco farmer whose family still cannot afford healthcare. With a storyline that deals with Henreitta's life, that of her children and other descendants who believe that they have been cheated out of some very valuable ( true to an extent ), medical progress made possible by experimenting upon HeLa cells and the existential debate of ethics in research, she makes the reader go back and forth between various dates instead of putting things in a chronological order. I find that it is something that has worked in her favor and made the events in the book more relevant from an audience perspective. 

She paints a realistic sketch of what it must have felt to live in a tobacco plantation, the stark realty of the black society, their hush-hush existence during the days of apartheid and finally a family that is torn apart by the loss of a maternal figure, drugs, alcohol and not the least, poverty. The chapter where she is first diagnosed with the tumor and the rapid sequence of it's progression is quite scary. But then, that's cancer for you. It's swift and brutal at the best, and terrifying at the worst.

There are quite a few interesting insights into the kind of research that went into developing a cancer treatment methodology. It has quite some interesting bits, including one about the usage of radium. But more startling is the total absence of ethics in medical research in the 50's era. 'Many scientists believed that since patients were treated for free in the public wards, it was fair to use them as research subjects as a form of payment' more that summarizes the code on conduct of the medical practitioners of the time. 

The most galling part of the book is however the way the Lackses have been treated. Exploited by all and sundry, they are deeply suspicious of the anyone who as much as tries to gather any information about Henrietta. Sadly, the author's quest to get some recognition for the poor family ends on a heartbreaking note when Henrietta's daughter dies quite unexpectedly.

Science nonfiction is a recent thing for me as I am looking to move on from the days when I would curl up in bed with a Robin Cook on my hands. And my curiosity in this book was piqued even as I struggled to make my way through 'The Emperor of All Maladies' by Siddhartha Mukherjee . This one has a definite emotional connect and it hits all the right spots. But one must have a genuine interest in medicine or medical history to go through it's length.

A great book if (and only if) it is the right fit for you!!


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Regret (Haiku)

Most of us live with a regret about something that we did or left undone. If we could, we would go back in time and change it for the better ( who know ?? ) but usually it is too late. Even for a 'Sorry'.



Image credits : girlsmagpk.com





" Glazed Sheath of sorrow, 
Unforgiving shards of pain.
Regret! Rears it's head."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cervical Cancer Vaccine - What You Need to Know

Cervical Cancer - Cancer of the cervix, uterus and vagina are commonly grouped under Cervical Cancer. It is the fourth most common cause of death due to cancer among women. But interestingly enough, it is the most common cancer detected among women in the age group 15-34 years. Among women, it is the only type of cancer that can be caused by sexual transmission.
























Causes - Most doctors agree that cervical cancer can only develop if one has been exposed to HPV ( Human Papilloma Virus ), a sexually transmitted infection. And the risk increases as one is exposed to multiple strains of the virus, which is the case when one has multiple sexual partners. But at the same time, not everyone who is exposed to HPV will develop cervical cancer. HPV is just another infection that peters out by itself or goes away when treated with drugs.

The secondary risk factors which increase one's chances of developing Cervical Cancer are -
  • Smoking 
  • Weakened Immune System - HIV, AIDS and other disease/age can lower immunity 
  • Long term exposure to Oral contraceptives
  • Multiple Pregnancies are also linked to increased risk.
Who is at a risk ?

1. Women having multiple sexual partners.
2. Women having a single sexual partner who in turn has multiple sexual partners.

Therefore, one can safely conclude that any sexually active woman is at a risk of developing Cervical cancer.






















Prevention via Safe Sex - It is impossible to develop Cervical Cancer without being exposed to HPV. Hence practicing safe sex certainly helps in preventing it. But HPV can be transmitted through contact with  infected genital skin, mucous membranes, or bodily fluids. Therefore, a condom cannot provide full protection against it.


Prevention via Vaccination - Gardasil and Cervarix do not provide protection against all strains of HPV. It targets only those HPV strains that are known to cause Cervical cancer. But when one is already exposed to one or more strains of HPV, the vaccine efficiency is reduced. Moreover, the vaccine does not treat HPV if one is already infected nor it is effective in preventing other sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

But the vaccine provides some protection against anal cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer and genital warts. The vaccine's efficiency increases if given at a younger age.
















Right Age for Vaccination - The right time for this vaccination is before the onset of sexual activity. That is why it is recommended that it should be given to girls in the age group 11-12 years. But one can still take the vaccine till the age of 26. In countries like US and UK, Cervical cancer vaccination is not recommended for women above 26 years of age. Instead, they are advised to go for regular PAP smear test.

Who Cannot Take the Vaccine ? - Pregnant ladies are advised to stay away from the vaccine.

Note - Once a person is already infected with HPV, the efficiency of this vaccine is reduced.  Or, in some cases, it may even become redundant. Therefore, getting vaccinated is no excuse for skipping the Pap smear test once one crosses 25 years of age ( or even younger if one is sexually active ).


Monday, May 23, 2016

Shame on Me ???

Or is that shame on you ?? For making me ( and all women in general ) feel that menstruation is a cursed act of God and any and all visual images related to it should be hidden from public view. Or at least kept wrapped under layers and layers of brown paper. For that is what everyone including my neighborhood chemist would like me to believe.

Image source : rantchic.com

















It so happened that I paid a visit to the neighboring chemist to buy a packet of baby diapers. And since it was almost time for 'that time of the month' , I asked the guy to throw in a packet of my sanitary napkins along with the baby stuff. Now as soon as he put it on the counter, i nonchalantly picked it up and put it in a clear transparent bag that I was carrying with me. As I shoved the money towards him, I happened to catch his expression. The fellow seemed too scandalized for words. I followed his fingers as they pointed at my bag and more specifically at it's offending content. Taking pity on him, I put the bag back on the counter. Almost magically a brown paper bag materialized in his hands and in a jiffy he had the packet covered and placed in my bag. Then only did his expression return to normal. Ok, let's amend that to 'almost normal'.

This was just one of the random incidents that I recollected when I reminisced about my tryst with the sanitary napkin. Everytime I have felt pity and disgust in equal measure for these ill-informed mortals who have been taught to stay away from the 'bad blood'. This wonderful video that I found on FB proves that for all our technological advances, we remain slaves to our own prejudices .








What do you see when you look at this video ? A man peeing in public which is a common sight in India versus a woman holding a packet of sanitary napkins in a see-through bag ( a sort of firsts, isn't it ). At a cardinal level, both of these have to do with the discharge of bodily fluids. But while most people tend to ignore the man's indiscretion, the reactions to the woman perceived imprudence are just about hilarious. Especially the bit when one elderly lady gestured the guy to step away from the girl. What was she expecting ? Was the packet going to blow up if it sensed any kind of male presence ? Or did it contain some kind of contagion that could eliminate the male of the species if unleashed on mankind ?. None, as per common knowledge. They are just harmless layers of gel designed to soak up liquids. But getting back to the man, is there anything aesthetic about a man flashing his dangly bits in public ? If not, why does everyone (save a few) prefer to turn a blind eye to him ? To me, it merely seems that men are allowed get away with anything. And we, the so called 'progressive lot' are just too afraid to raise our voice and do away with this mindless status quo.

Agreed, all that blood can make one swoon ( ahem ahem..do i remember being told that men are the stronger lot ? ) but girls/women of a certain age have to deal with it every month. It is just a sign that the female reproductive system is up and working. Sanitary napkins are just a part and parcel of the whole thing. Not something that needs to be flaunted ( it's hardly that chic) but neither to be kept hidden under wraps. At times, the whole hypocrisy surrounding it seems to be similar to the one regarding the usage of condoms. We know everyone is doing it ( going by the billion plus population ) but we still prefer to live in denial. This scene from the movie 'PK' exposes our hypocrisy in all it's gilded glory.









But honestly, do you really need a martian to arrive on our planet just for raising all those relevant questions ? Why can't we think like 'PK' does ? Let drop the hypocrisy and adopt some rational thinking !! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles ( by Haruki Murakami )






















Profound and abstract at the same time, 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles' has been one of the most impressive books that I have read in recent days. Taking off with a mundane beginning that has a couple searching for their missing cat, the storyline quickly delves into their disintegrating marriage, a host of psychic characters, and surprisingly the evil happenings of World War II. It is not a neat little plot where all the strings are tied up but more like an magnificent abstract canvas on which the artist has painted discrete images with bold strokes.

Toru Okada's life in suburban Tokya is less than idyllic. He has lost his job and is hardly interested in finding another one. But when his wife Kumiko leaves him, he is completely shattered. Then there is his strange relationship with a sixteen year old girl who is fascinated with death. He discovers a dried up well and climbs down to the bottom to think with renewed clarity. A dream encounter with a prostitute in a hotel room leaves him with a purple scar on the face. And this scar is what draws another psychic woman towards him. She helps him with his search for Kumiko but at a price. He must turn into a 'prostitute of the mind' .

These surreal happenings in Okada's life are juxtaposed with the spine chilling and often nauseating events of the World War . One of the most memorable sections of the book is the skinning of a prisoner that is described in morbid detail. It is just too grotesque to be forgotten in a long time. The zoo massacre comes a close second on the grotesque scale.

And then there is the story of the shitty island which is actually symbolic of too many things than happen in the world. Things that propagate themselves by their own power to such an extent that after a point on one is capable of putting a stop to it. Not even the one who started it in the first place. Too philosophical ? Yes, it is .

If you have been wondering about the book's title,  'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles' is derived from the mechanical screeching of a bird that is portrayed as the harbinger of catastrophe. While it packs in quite a punch, this book is only recommended for die-hard fans of Murakami !!

[ If you looking to pick Murakami's works, I would recommend something like 'Kafka on the Shore' or 'Norwegian Wood' for the beginners. ] 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Borrowed Wings (Haiku)







Fear, before you clip them on,
For, they will be soon gone !!
Cannot fly far on borrowed wings !

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

She Rants !! ( A Mother's day Tribute )

Image credits: www.shutterstock.com
























The sun seems, 'oh so languid' !
But I can't afford to be stupid !!

The clock has began to tick,
and a hundred tasks await my pick.
Prioritize, that I must,
still need to slog till I go bust !!

I put the tea to simmer,
even as I shake the man outta his slumber.
The kid is next in line,
he awaits his turn as the adult falls in line !!

The kid turns out to be a handful !
Just not what i need with the maid giving me an earful !!
'They hardly cook at home', says the rabble rouser,
driving a wedge even as she diminishes the dishes like a terminator.

I consider ordering dinner from outside,
even as I juggle kid husband and breakfast side by side !
But it seems small mercies are not on the horizon,
hubby declines my proposal with the hint of a stomach infection !!

The kid is must look as neat as a pin,
to preempt snide remarks that I cannot bear and grin !
Mothers of the other kids can at times turn into a pain,
But I must refrain for I have nothing to gain !!

The empty house looks far from immaculate,
but all I do is to sit on the sofa and speculate.
I obviously need to regain my mojo,
I achieve that almost magically by purchasing a rye hobo !!

I am now unstoppable,
ticking off the tasks from the list before they turn into treble !
Woman and machine collaborate,
and every speck of dirt is set to obliterate.

Alas ! The kid is back home,
even before I can conquer Rome !
My efforts are all but undone,
and I wish I could shoot myself with a gun !!

Perseverance always pays somebody says,
I remind myself I try to ignore the kid's errant ways !
But it is the man who gives me the migraine,
for my all efforts always goes against the grain !!

Tried my best to match MIL's culinary prowess,
but never succeeded in conquering that fortress !
And when it came to mingling with his extended family,
I realized I had been cozying up to the wrong ally  !!

I chase away the silhouette of negativity,
and prepare dinner with remarkable sincerity !
Who wants to take a chance with food poisoning,
even if one's thoughts cannot seep into the seasoning !!

The man rightly claims domestic exception,
for his to nine to five exploitation !
But then I can always claim materialistic compensation
in lieu of forgoing any claims of relaxation !!

Grant me one last rant,
For I am in no mood for an endless chant !
Some TLC is all you need to profess,
for me to shower you with all that I possess !!


















Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Indiblogger Launches IndiPR.com ( A First of Sorts )














[Drum rolls. Fireworks. Champagne.] IndiPR makes a grand debut.

A proud moment indeed for bloggers who make up this vibrant community. On a more personal note, Indiblogger was the first blogging community I joined when I embarked on the blogging journey. Having seen it evolve continuously over the years, I was thrilled ( but not surprised ) when I came to know that it had adapted cutting edge Data Analytics to make marketing a win-win situation both for the influencer and the brand involved. 

Most bloggers have a personal connect with their audience. And hence the blogger views are more likely to find resonance with the target audience as compared to random views published on the internet. 

But now by letting selective bloggers carry the press releases for brands and hopefully making them a part of the launch events, Indiblogger is helping the community to expand it's sphere of influence. That' all the more power to blogging !! Yay !!

** Press Note -

IndiBlogger Launches IndiPR.com - A self-learning engine that automatically targets the right publishers


















Thousands of businesses, products and services are launched everyday across the world. When these products go live, a Press Release (like the one you’re currently reading) is usually the first order of business. Businesses of various sizes, including start-ups, can now have their Press Releases published by relevant influencers in less than 72 hours. 

IndiPR.com was built to make it extremely simple for a business to get their Press Releases published by top bloggers. All a business has to do is upload their Press Release and the ‘Automated Influencer Targeting Engine’, or ‘AITE’ for short, proceeds to accept applications and automatically shortlists bloggers based on various factors including internal ratings and rankings. Once shortlisted, the influencers do their research and publish their articles.

Anoop Johnson, Co-founder & Director of Marketing at IndiBlogger, adds, “With a starting budget of just USD 150, a business of any size will be able to get their press releases published by influential bloggers with a few clicks.”
IndiPR.com assists digital marketers with a variety of tasks including, but not limited to, SEO, content marketing, generating awareness and gaining much needed conversations around the product, driven by internet users on influencer platforms like blogs.

One of the main issues that most marketers face when working with influencers is the cumbersome process associated with identifying and targeting each Influencer. Karthik DR, Co-founder & Business Head at IndiBlogger says, “The amount of time that people spend in trying to identify and contact influencers is huge. With IndiPR.com, you don't have to worry about any of this as the system just needs your Press Release. The rest is history!”

In the future, IndiPR.com will carry more than just Press Releases. Influencers will be able to get creative assignments, get invitations to attend the trendiest launch events and be privy to the latest news on the planet before the world wakes up to it.
Renie Ravin, the Founder and CEO of IndiBlogger, says, “We believe that this system will help Influencers with fresh and new content on their site every day. In a way, you could be writing about the next Google without even realising its immense potential.”

Contact Information:
Anoop Johnsoncontact@indipr.com


Phone - +91-9900-001655 or 0124-4891498

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review : Cometh the Hour ( Jeffery Archer )























First the lament. My spirits soared at the sight of the beautiful sepia hued cover. It bears the illustration of the Gateway of India with a couple riding a scooter in the foreground. Yes, the action in 'The Clifton Chronicles' shifts to India. At least some part of it does. But does it turn out to be pivotal ? Sadly not . What could have been a meaningful subplot is cut short rather abruptly. Reason ? Honor killing. Accepted that the year is 1971 and we have come a long way ( really ?). But do we need to be reminded of our 'illustrious past' ? One more added to the list. Elephants, snake charmers, child prostitution ( dare you get me started on this ), honor killings, and it goes on and on. Yes, I am disappointed that Archer did not make much out of that 'India angle' except for imprinting the image of 'honor killings' in the minds of a global audience. So, remember never to judge a book by it's cover. Point made.

Moving on the job at hand ( mainly writing an unbiased review ), this is the 6th installment of the Clifton Chronicles . I have been following the series from the very first book and I find this one to be equally good though Archer's suspense bits are tending to get repetitive. It begins with the drama surrounding the Late Alex Fisher's letter. It's revelation paves the path for Emma's victory and the adversaries being routed .

The plot includes yet another takeover bid. This time it is Harry' publisher and a much bigger publishing house.There is a bit of small time drama in this section but nothing remarkable. The indisputable big stars in this plot are Lady Fenwick and Giles with Emma and Harry taking a step back from the limelight.

Giles ends up losing his political lead with the revelation of the letter. But that leads him to embark on a daring escapade to help Karin flee the oppressive regime in East Germany. This is one of the most engaging sections of the book and helps to further the plot. At least temporarily. One sees the two falling in love and then comes the revelation. Quite predictable and even I could see it coming.

But the most entertaining bits are provided by Lady Fenwick or more specifically, her shenanigans . One of the most scheming and plotting characters of this series, she manages to stay in limelight thanks to her despicable ( and also laughable ) antics. The way she takes Cyrus for a ride and still manages to extract her pound of flesh makes one squirm at her moral turpitude.

But the most heart breaking section is that of Sebastian.  The way he falls in love with another person, woos her, follows her halfway across the globe and then ends up losing her is quite saddening. Archer makes up for it towards the end of the book that sees him reuniting with Sam and Jessica. But not without the intervening drama that is Archers's hallmark.

A good read that promises more action with the last installment releasing in November 2016. Hope the final installment outshines the others and makes it worth the really long build up.

Note - Do not pick this up if you have not read the earlier installments . The plots for the Clifton Chronicles books are highly interlinked and one cannot really enjoy them standalone.