"There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." — Bertrand Russell

Friday, 6 February 2015

GOOD AND CHEAP: EAT WELL ON $4/DAY by Leanne Brown



This is my first cookbook review, so pardon me for any mistakes. Leanne Brown is a food-studies scholar and avid homecook in NYC by way of Canada. She released this book as a free PDF and after it went viral online, raised funds for prints.  For each one sold , a second copy will be given to a person or family who cannot afford it. In the author's words, she designed the recipes to fit the people on SNAP or food stamps in America.

But, the book is not only for the people on tight budget, but also for foodies across the world who seek food that nourishes the body as well as satisfies the taste buds. At first glance, I was drawn into the book by its catchy title and the big foodie in me started poking me to see what this simple looking book has to offer. It is tastefully designed and magnificently illustrated with color photos. After few handful tips on how to eat and shop well economically and some pantry basics- what you must have in your pantry, the book goes straight to the recipes, which are split into chapters for each meal-  Breakfast, Soup and Salad, Snacks, Slides and Small Bites, Dinner, Big Batch, Pantry, Drinks and Desserts.

Each recipe mentions the total expense incurred along with the cost per serving and tries to use as less ingredients as possible without compromising on the taste. The author has separated the add-on ingredients as additions and how to use them for additional flavour and depth. I loved the oatmeal section in the Breakfast ideas, which comprises of seven oatmeal recipes, with the taste varying from milky and sweet to savoury and salty. You’ll learn how to transform ingredients, even leftovers, into miraculous meals.

Instead of just sticking to one or two cuisines as most cookbooks these days do, the author covers Asian, Oceanian along with her native American cuisines and a wide variety of European cuisines. The language is aimed at home cooks and basically new learners. Instead of mere instructions in the procedure, the author suggests what not to do and even why the step is necessary at all. She has also divided some well known recipes into fast and slow methods. So this book serves the beginners really well.

What I missed in this book is the duration of each recipe. But since the book houses really quick and simple recipes with the main limelight on how much you need to spend to get each recipe right, it can be omitted.

So readers seeking what their plating or flavour profiles or techniques say about their personal cooking style, turn away immediately. This book is simply not for the restaurant professionals and the expert. Someone like me, who has just stepped into the art of cooking, the book is the best thing that happened to me. It is like having my mum by my side. 

Many thanks to Netgalley and Workman Publishing Company for an ARC of this book. The book is going to hit the stores on July 14,2015. You can also download a free PDF version from http://www.leannebrown.com/#what-is-good-and-cheap. But remember for every copy you buy, someone not so affluent can lay their hands on the print version of this book.

RATINGS: 4/5

SKILL LEVEL: Easy and Medium

WHO THIS BOOK IS FOR: Beginners and Intermediate

WHO THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR: Professionals and Experts

RECIPES TO TRY: Oatmeal (page 17), Yogurt Smash (32), Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup (40), Spicy Panzanella (51), Poutine (74), Beef Stroganoff (108), Spicy, Crunchy Creamy Polenta (124), Chana Masala (133), Deviled Eggs 8 ways (148), Pierogi (150), Tzatziki (158), Fast Melon Sorbet (148), Peach Coffee Cake (192).

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

ROSH ROHOSSER SATKAHAN by PROSENJIT BANDYOPADHYAY


Rosh Rohosser Satkahan is a 2014 bengali novel by author Prosenjit Bandyopadhyay. It features a collection of short stories of varied genres.

In the stunning debut novel, the author uses keen observation and vivid imagery along with brilliant detailing and narration to pull readers into the head of the characters.He layers the tension and intrigue until you are on the edge of your seat. I loved his big reveal in the twist ending tales. It requires sheer brilliance to conjure such mind boggling twists. The book's overall gritty realism will leave readers touched and inspired. Prosenjit Bandyopadhyay is an author to keep an eye on, Rosh Rohosser Satkahan is a brilliant and accomplished debut, I hope he's already working on the next one. Highly recommended to everyone :)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE by LORRAINE ZAGO ROSENTHAL



OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is a 2011 novel by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal of YA romantic genre, in which relationship of the female protagonist, Ari with her mother, sister, Evelyn is equally highlighted along with her lover Blake. Its an stunning page turner filled with drama, struggles, betrays and lessons. If you are looking for hormones and too many intimate moments in every other page, I would rather advice you not to pick up the book.

I simply loved Ari the way she was – her simplicity, honesty-the way she helped her sister and also handled her kids even though Evelyn was a foul mouth to her. Some of you may feel weird how Ari had innumerable crushes- the significant ones being her own ‘hot’ brother-in-law. But you always can’t keep your head cool when you are a teenage girl and there are too many handsome and hot guys around you. Eventually when her family inherited a huge fortune which enabled her to join the flashy HOLLISTER PREP- the ultimate school of the rich strata of the society, she felt nervous about her get up and worried that the rich girls would make fun of her. But things start getting colourful in Ari’s world when a rich guy, Blake asks her out. Soon both of them fall in love with each other and things get heated up within them. The pace of relationship between them was perfect. She shared an amazing chemistry. But, Ari’s world fall apart when Blake breaks up.

Set in Manhattan in the late 80s, the book is all about Ari Mitchell- how she achieved good grades to get up to her mom’s expectations, how her relationship with her loved ones changed with circumstances, how she got along her post break up trauma and how she see start viewing life in a new ray of hope, how she began realizing that there might be other things in life as important as love.

I simply loved the family dynamics in the novel. The book also explores day-to-day activities of Ari, but surprisingly I wasn’t bored at all. The smooth flowing writing with no unnecessary details got along with me amazingly. The section that touched me most was the break up. It left me wondering why always bad things happen with nice girls like Ari! The characters is this book are so real and well fleshed that get ready to face a huge sea of emotions of happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, despair and more. I felt so connected to it that it was tough for me to pull out of the story when it ended. The author deserves tremendous praise for writing such a real life story with full of real life complications.

  

Friday, 7 October 2011

HAUNTING VIOLET BY ALEXANDRA HARVEY


WOW! BRILLIANT! 


There are no other words to express my views regarding the recent YA horror cum mystery novel by Alexandra Harvey. This is my first Harvey novel and mark my words, I am clearly fascinated by the plot.


''She does not believe in ghosts. But they believe in her.''


Set in the 1870s, the story revolves around the young and pretty Violet whose mother blackmails relatives of the deceased by claiming that she has the noble ability to contact people from the afterworld. On her way to the country for a spiritualist show at the estate of a man of high society, Violet suddenly discovers that she really can see ghosts, among which one wants her to solve her murder. Violet should be careful when the murderer is still on loose. With the house full of guests and secrets, everyone turns into a suspect.


Since I was reading novels set in the 21st century for the last few months, I found this quite a refreshing read and reminded me of classics like Little Women, Oliver Twist...


I loved Violet's clumsy ways, how she hated wearing corsets which hinders her movement and breathing ability, how she found all proper ladies ways rather convoluted, how she hated the way her mother used her as a pawn in her endless quest for riches and prestige and how she was gradually falling in love....


Haunting Violet is clearly not a hardcore horror story which will give you nightmares but you can smell the pervading scent of danger throughout the book. Alyxandra Harvey did such an excellent job in her portrayal of the times that I almost felt as if I were transported to the late 1870’s. The description was interesting and at times, humorous-I was never bored. Many thanks to Dot Scribbles. It was through her blog this fantastic book came to my notice and I decided to read it.

Friday, 2 September 2011

SLEEPWALKERS BY J. GABRIEL GATES


''Something in the ruins waits''


No other words could have offered a better opening than these words for THE SLEEPWALKERS, a teen horror novel by J. Gabriel Gates. Its creepy right from the first line. It will drive your fingers to keep its pages turning even at the dead of night, will make you go numb and is also able to give you the worst nightmares of your lifetime.

As many book covers of the bestselling titles, the cover of The Sleepwalkers will also captivate you. It shows a blurry image of a bare footed girl. It will make you wonder whether its a ghost or something more sinister.

The 19 year old popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation day and planning to travel to Africa to enhance his profile as a journalist, when he receives a mysterious letter from his long lost childhood friend, Christine. As the plot thickens, Caleb along with his funny friend Bean travel to the place only to discover that its no more the same old place as he has known. In fact, things have taken turn for the worse. Children are disappearing with each passing day and the asylum has reopened with Christine being locked inside. Caleb vows to get her out. Will they all be able to make out alive or die trying? Christine's mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine's long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an a.m. radio. The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass. Sixteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will destroy the world. As Caleb  gradually unveils the mysteries, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead.

From the author of the very popular Dark Territory Series, the story promises you to hold on your seat with its well developed characters and its rich and engaging writing. It’s humorous, scary, creepy, cleverly written, lots of twists, disturbing, unsettling all in a good way. It is very well written, I could actually read it and imagine it happening. It wasn’t too far-fetched at all. I can't wait to recommend this book to the teens who complain that there are no "scary" books and then dare them to go to bed with the lights off.  


Many thanks to HCI books for sending me an advance copy for review. ''The Sleepwalkers'' is slated to be released on 3rd October, 2011.



Sunday, 21 August 2011

NIGHTSHADE BY ANDREA CREMER

''She can control her pack but not her heart." 


(MY RATINGS: 3.5/5)

I should preface this review with the fact that I was not a huge fan of werewolves YA paranormal novels until I read this book Nightshade. Nightshade introduces its readers to a new fantasy world of werewolves, who can transform at their will.

It tells the story of the strong Calla Tor, an young guardian or ''Alpha Female'' of her pack. In the world of Nightshade, the guardians are bound to serve the witches known as Keepers and in return they are provided with every comfort in life. The Keepers are in an eternal battle with Searchers, who used to be part of the Keepers until a schism centuries ago led them to split in two. Guardians are charged by Keepers with the duty of protecting sacred sites all over world, especially from Searchers but also from anyone who might stumble across them accidentally. These sacred sites are supposed to be kept secret and are forbidden.

Ren, the HOT young ''Alpha Male'' of another pack, the Banes is the mate chosen for Calla since birth by the keepers. Things are all right in Calla's world until a young human hiker Shay steps in and accidentally discovers Calla's true identity that she is a wolf. She’s known about the mating for a while and has prepared for it. But Shay’s arrival complicates that, because now here is something new, mysterious, and forbidden. It’s not just the third side of love triangle that Shay offers. Shay has a mysterious background. Despite being human, he’s also the nephew of a Keeper. He has a cross tattoo on the back of his neck that he cannot see. Even though his “uncle” is a Keeper, Shay knew nothing of the supernatural world — or his uncle’s true nature. Surrounded by secrets and forbidden knowledge, Shay and Calla set out to find the truth about the world around them. As a result, their lives, and the lives of their loved ones will never be the same.

The only thing that irritated me is the ending. Though the novel ends with a positive note, it is very abrubpt and at a few instances the plot was easily predictable. Otherwise Nightshade is totally unputdownable and addictive. If you are a fan of YA paranormal genre of novels with a touch of romance, its really worthy finding a place in your bookshelf.


Monday, 18 July 2011

BLOOD-BOOK 1 OF MERCIAN TRILOGY BY K.J. WIGNALL

''I do not remember being bitten. I wish I did, for then I would know the creature who did this to me and I would have a purpose, to track him down and repay him for the poisoned gift he gave me.''  
 (MY RATINGS: 3.8/5)

The story starts with a nearly 800 yr old vampire, physically 16, Will, waking up in his grave for the second time. Will, who was destined to be the Earl of Mercia, although he never lived to inherit the title. After he feeds upon a man Jex, he realises things are not the same as before. Something sinister is lurking behind the corners for him. On the verge of death Jex tells him about an evil person and mentions a girl who needs him and he in turn needs her. Will also discovers a diary whose contents rings a bell in his mind. As the story progresses both of them fall in love with each other and together set out to find the man who turned Will into a vampire, uncovering various deeply well hidden secrets. Was it the same evil man who Jex mentioned before his death?


From the first page, Blood puts you in the centre of a modern Gothic story, starting during the horror of the witching-burning era, the story travelling back centuries rather than mere decades. Each page of this paranormal fantasy gave me a warning of some terrible approaching danger.The story sent chills up my spine as I read further. K. J. Wignall has more to offer than the usual vampire-human love story. Its a darker fare right from the first page, full of richer suspense, horror, action, adventure and a little romance. I did really enjoy this book and I thought that the pace was great. Blood is a teen fiction but soon it will cross over adult readers.  


Many thanks to Eggmont (USA) for sending me a copy of the book to review. Blood- Book 1 of Mercian Trilogy will hit the stores on 27 September 2011.

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