Naiads #atozchallenge

Naiads or water nymphs are fantastical creatures I’d like to meet. If they existed they could keep the waters clean and pollutants free.

John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

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Count of Monte Cristo: A photo diary #atozchallenge

Discovering a set or a house created for a fictional character and visiting a place which inspired a writer to include it in his story is very different. I think I like the latter better. I’ve been to the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221 B Baker Street and I was quite unimpressed. Although the replication from fiction is brilliant. I couldn’t help thinking, well, all these artifacts aren’t real! Holmes really didn’t smoke this pipe or wear that hat did he?

However, Chateau d’If the fortress and then prison which inspired Alexandre Dumas to use it in his book the Count of Monte Cristo, really exists and it really was a prison once a upon a time. It is really a remote and uninhabited island. The only fabrication being, there were no single cells for prisoners originally but, there was one in the book and there is one now to tell the story.

Chateau d'If in the distance.

Chateau d’If in the distance.

The prison cells around the courtyard

The prison cells around the courtyard

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London in books #atozchallenge

Dear Reader,

By now you should know that I love books. I eat and sleep with them, gaze at them with adoration and mostly read them too. I am lucky enough to live in a city entrenched in history and popularity. So, as a tribute to London during my A to Z blog challenge, I’ve decided to list my top favourite books about London. These may not be the best, but are books that I’ve enjoyed reading, browsing and gifting friends and family, who have visited me in London.

London’165242_LondonStrangeTales_jkts Strangest Tales by Tom Quinn is a delightful and quirky book which I always gift the bookworms. It pleases, amuses and informs. You need not visit London to read it and that is why it is a wonderful book to gift, when you return home after a visit to London.

I remember spending two hours in a bookshop reading it before buying it for a friend.

 Bizarre London by David Long, on the other hand, is written for the ‘curious Londoner’. Youdo need to know London a bit to get the humour or the oh-

6436846I-know-where-that-is moments. At the most read it on the train or flight while you are travelling to London. Or, buy it once you’ve done the top 10 things to do in London. This book  will take you on a truly bizarre tour of London. Some of the curious facts mentioned here might make you jump of your seat and run off to check whether the facts were true.

160080_Inever_jktI Never Knew That About London by Christopher Winn does not have any shocking surprises or dirty little secrets but, it is treasure trove of history for the amateur historian. Real historians might turn up their noses but since I am not one of them I am happy to learn about London’s historical past in an easily digestible and amusing book.

I Never Knew That About London unearths the hidden gems of legends, firsts, inventions, adventures and birthplaces that shape the city’s compelling, and at times, turbulent past.

While parents rush from sight to site children need something to amuse themselves. Alsothis is London young travellers need to know more about what they see around them. So my favourite recommendation is an illustrated picture book. Although quite retro, Miroslav Sasek’s This is London will amuse and inform everyone.

Last but one of the greatest books on London. London a Biography by Peter Ackroyd. This is for the serious Londoner, the historian, the London obsessive, who wants to know moreLondon Petr ackroyd about this massive city-like living organism.

One of my recent finds at Waterstones is a gem and worth a mention. It’s unique and a window into London’s current situation with high rates of immigration. Not all immigrants are here for a chance of a better life. There are some who will always remain awestruck bystanders, or talented people who’ll look at London a little differently than most.

Reading Bhajju Shyam’s The London Junglejunglebook Book changes your perspective of the world and its people completely.

About the Author: Bhajju Shyam, of the acclaimed The Night Life of Trees, is the finest living artist of the Gond tribe in India. Intricate and colourful, Bhajju’s work is well-known throughout India and has been exhibited in the UK, Germany, Holland and Russia. From the walls of his tribal village home to international acclaim, Bhajju’s has been an incredible creative journey.

I hope you enjoy reading and discovering books like I do.

All the very best for your next trip to London.

Amrita

J. D. Robb #atozchallenge

concealed in deathMuch as I have loved reading Nora Roberts’ aka J.D. Robb’s in Death series over the years, I am sorry to say that I’ll have to stop reading them. There are 41 books in the series now and up until book 36, Calculated in Death, high standards of writing, plot and characters were maintained. However, there was a gradual deterioration after that and the latest, Concealed in Death, appears to be written by someone else completely. I do not recognize the style of writing and there is a distinct lack of clarity in the plot. It is as if someone tried to copy J. D. Robb but did a bad job.

However, I am grateful for all the happy times and edgy moments I’ve had with the series. Two of my favourites being:

n269271. Naked in Death, this is the first book in the series, where the readers are introduced to Eve Dallas a NYPSD (New York Police and Security Department, a fictional mid 21st century police department created by the author) Lieutenant and a business tycoon Roarke, who is another major character throughout the series.

Naked in Death completely hooked me and I knew this was a series I had to follow. The in Death books have every ingredient that I love. There is crime, drama, romance, fantasy and a bit of futuristic thrown in.

 

To those who haven’t read the series please follow the link down below to the J.D. Robb website. The ‘story so far’ as quoted below is from the fans section of the website.

IN DEATH—THE STORY SO FAR

Spoiler Alert! Contains key plot points from the In Death series. Please see the full books list for a quick series reference.

The In Death series begins in the year 2058 (with Naked in Death, July 1995), after an outbreak of warfare a few decades earlier known as the Urban Wars wreaked havoc across the globe and led to widespread destruction and death. After the wars, cities focused on renewal and revitalization. A series of resorts and vacation spots, such as Vegas II, exist off-planet in space, which is also where the majority of prison populations exist. On-planet, streets are filled with cars on the ground and in the air, able to switch between hovering and driving. Multiple high-tech gadgets exist in this era, like the AutoChef, which cooks meals and brews coffee, and ‘links, which are types of videophones used as a means of communication, but can also transfer data and hold information, almost like a circa 2010 PDA or smart phone.

Lieutenant Eve Dallas works as a homicide detective for the NYPSD (New York Police and Security Department). In the first book of the series, Naked in Death, Eve is a loner when she first meets Roarke, an enigmatic Irish billionaire and a suspect in her most recent case. Although it jeopardizes her case and her career, she falls for him and Roarke becomes her first and only love. They get engaged at the end of Glory in Death, the second book, after Roarke replicates Eve’s former apartment in his house and she moves in. Eve continues to grapple with their relationship and her growing dependence on him during the first two books. The couple is married shortly after the end of book three, Immortal in Death.

It is Eve’s childhood that continues to torment her: she was abused and repeatedly molested by her father, a seasoned criminal, and her apathetic mother was a drug addict and prostitute. At age eight, Eve was found in an alley in Dallas, Texas, covered in blood and with no memory of who she was or what happened. She was given the name Eve and put into foster care. Eve’s foster mother was no saint in the ten years that she had Eve under her roof, and she resurfaces in Memory in Death (book twenty-three), to blackmail Roarke to keep Eve’s childhood out of the headlines. Because of her ability to solve the more difficult and high-profile cases, Eve had recently become a media darling.

Through nightmare flashbacks, Eve comes to learn what happened to her before her childhood memory loss and has the worst of these in Immortal in Death (book three) when she realizes she stabbed her father to death while he was attacking her. Eve begins to piece together the fragments of her childhood from these flashbacks, and more than once, it involves a connection to a current case, like in Judgment in Death (book eleven), where the perpetrator was a business associate of her father’s, and from whom her father stole money. Once Eve marries Roarke, the nightmares become less wracking because he is one of the few people in her life to give her unconditional love and she feels safe with him. Throughout their relationship, their previous demons become less haunting as they build a life of love and trust, the first real family either has ever known.

Though Eve has solved homicides of every conceivable nature, she doesn’t solve every case immediately, or sometimes at all. A recent case came back to haunt Eve in Creation in Death (book twenty-five), when a serial killer who she never caught, nicknamed The Groom, returned to claim Eve as his final kill. But because of her own horrific childhood, the cases Eve finds most difficult are those centered on missing and exploited children and she often becomes deeply entrenched in the lives of the victims, seeking justice with an obsessive intensity.

Eve is an honest cop, though her passion for the job leads her to sometimes make emotional decisions that come back to haunt her. In fact, much of Eve’s strength comes from her flaws. She has been investigated by Internal Affairs, even having her badge taken away in Conspiracy in Death (book eight) when she is suspected of killing another cop. In Ceremony in Death (book five), Eve takes on a case behind the back of her former partner and mentor Captain Feeney, and puts strain on their relationship.

Many of Eve’s cases also have a personal impact on her and Roarke, especially given both of their fathers have extensive criminal pasts. In Divided in Death (book nineteen), Roarke confirms that his father was in Dallas doing business with Eve’s father right before she killed him in self-defense, connecting the two even then. In Judgment in Death (book eleven), a former business associate of Roarke’s is seeking retaliation by attempting to kill Eve. In many ways, this couple was destined to be together.

As Eve’s trust grows, she allows others in, and even begins to depend on them, forming a tight circle of confidantes, colleagues, and friends, who are all recurring characters in the series

                       Source: J.D. Robb.com

download2. Conspiracy in Death is a favourite for no other reason than it complicates matters by Eve Dallas being suspended from the job while on an investigation. This story tests the strength of each character profile. What I enjoy about these books are how strong all the women characters are, somewhere women in the world now would like to be. However, strong female characters does not mean that the males are weak. They are not. It is a beautiful and ideal balance. What is not to love about a world where you can fly over the approaching traffic and escape it!

Gender equality is a reality. Man has conquered other planets and the common man can travel there. Unfortunately quality of air travel has deteriorated for the economy traveller. Both, for intercontinental as well as inter-galactic.

I’ll be sad not to read about life in the 2060’s any longer but I’ll keep an eye out for reviews. If the next book is better and more authentic than the last, then, why not?

Iridiscent by KM #atozchallenge

I-A

Isn’t that a lovely word? As I was looking around in my mind and

memory for words/characters/titles beginning with ‘I’, this word kept

coming back to me. One dictionary defines it as “showing luminous

colours that seem to change when seen from different angles”. No

wonder it sounds so lovely. The accompanying photo (taken from

the Internet, no copyright Infringement Intended) shows an iridescent

ammonite fossil.

I also composed a poem for this post:

I SENT TEN CENTS;

SCENT, TINS, RICE, RENTS.

DICE, DINE, SIT, REST.

IT IS IRIS’ NEST.

I STIR, I TEND.

IS IT NICE? IS IT END?

Imaginative? Infantile? Impossible to understand? Surely you see why I

wrote this poem for this post after that introduction? Every word from the

poem is made with letters found in the word ‘iridescent’. What’s that? It

doesn’t make sense? Oh, come on. Be Inventive. Use your Imagination.

“I” did!

-KM

KM is my friend and reclusive writer who loves sharing her words but not her identity. Her blog Tithi Katha (translated as, ‘Tithi’s Tales’) is a treasure trove of her life experiences and vivid imagination. So, this April, the social media friendly me is going to share with you, every Thursday, KM’s writing. So stay tuned for more. Previous Thursday was spent Looking at the C-ilver Screen.

Honest Reviews #atozchallenge

I always review honestly but unfortunately some authors do not like it. No one likes negative criticism and sometimes it is mean to trash a book that has clearly not made the mark. When I come across a book which I genuinely can’t say anything good about I don’t review it. However there are always those books which you know could have been better. You can see that the author had a lot to say but got lost in the process of writing. To those authors I like to provide a balanced review. I point out the good and the bad in the book. What I liked, disliked and what I expected.

Isn’t that why I review? Doesn’t an honest opinion matter any more? Wouldn’t it be better to take the constructive criticism during a blog tour and not be in denial. Because at some point of time genuine readers will read your books and if they don’t like it they’ll tell more people. Better still save yourself while dedicated book reviewers are still reading your ARCs.

A common theme in every blog tour is that if you rate a book less than 4 we have to tell the author because they might not want such a review. What are we all so scared of? I read a lot of 3.5 books and like it. I might just like books that are less popular.

I understand that a blog tour is often just publicity, then why have reviews at all?

I also know that after my stance on honest reviews a lot of authors might decline to let me read their books! Sorry, but I’d hate it if someone recommended a book to me and it wasn’t good enough. I am sure you would hate it too.

Gino’s Italian Escape #atozchallenge

10003734_10153906781910504_1859138379_oI’ve  not reviewed a recipe book on The Book Drifter yet. It is more like something  I would do on the Drifting Traveller my other blog. However, this is a blog about all things related to books and stories so, I’ll tell you how I came to own a copy of Gino’s Italian Escape.

Gino’s Italian Escape by Gino D’Acampo is not a typical recipe book although it does have close to 200 recipes in it! It is a book about Gino’s life in Italy, the different regions in Italy and how Italian cuisine has evolved in different regions.

I quite enjoyed perusing through double page spreads of scenic Italy along with the mouthwatering food photography. It gave me a sense of perspective and the theory of where-my-food-comes-from is always appealing to a connoisseur of good food. However, I’ve also found enough reviews to the contrary. These reviewers are of the opinion recipe books should only have recipes. How boring would that be? I would rather have the stories that come with it too. Bear in mind Gino’s Italian Escape the book was an accompaniment to the TV series of the same name. No wonder it is so dramatic and visually appealing. Would you rather be feverishly writing down recipes from the TV like in the days of yore? I prefer the book. Really.

So how did  I get the book? I won it in a Twitter contest held by Square Meal on World Book Day. Nothing is more enjoyable than winning a book to remember World Book Day 2014 by.