Book review, Received for Review

The Pride March by Dr. Efthikar Ahamed


Format: Paperback

Length: 40 pages

Genre: Drama, Play, LGBTQ+

Publisher: Dattsons Publishers

Date of Publication: 19th September, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Book Pitaara began as a subscription box service but has now grown, acquired plenty of loyal subscribers and has branched itself to related business as well. I had a wonderful time representing them in the months of October, November and December 2018 and when I learnt that they had collaborated with publishers for book reviews, I knew I had to get myself associated with it.

The first review copies were from Dattsons Publishers and I received two books that dealt with LGBTQ+ issues. I first picked this book since I haven’t read much in the genre until now.

The Blurb

The Pride March is a drama about the plight of the transgender humans who are appallingly marginalized all over the world and about the social conditions prevailing in some parts of the globe which even lead them to get executed in the name of honour killing. Subtitled as “A Theatrical Journey into the Lives of LGBTs in 3 Scenes & 2 Verbatim” the play narrates various phases of Mohini, a young researcher who later becomes Mohan, the Transgender. A woman transforming into a man, after chasing her dream of becoming one and her espousal with the pain of wounds, the pleasures of pain, the pleasurable transformation, and the confrontation with the wrathful societal agencies form the plot of the play. It also discusses the issues of the lost honour – the anger of the patriarchal lost pride – through some memorable characters and incidents. The play sharply problematizes the honour killing committed by a father against his daughter which is a display of indignation by murder to protect one’s honour. The locale of The Pride March is anywhere in India and its time may be any year after 2015.

The Book

Although The Pride March is a book that is only 40 pages long, it tries to address a lot of important issues that are relevant in the society in the present day. The story follows Mohini, a transgender who aspires to complete his transformation to a man. He has a group of friends who understand the issue and are supportive to the point where they accompany him to the doctor for the gender reassignment surgery and the post-operative care. I was glad that he was surrounded by people who cared and who understood what he was going through especially since we later learn that his family was not supportive of the transformation.

However, certain parts of the story did not sit well with me. I did not support the way the medical issues were dealt with in the story. The depiction of a doctor who was openly smoking while consulting on a case as sensitive as gender reassignment and one who did not take care about the confidentiality of the patient was not believable now when the laws are strict about the patient being treated right and doctors being educated regarding these issues. I was also surprised with the way the post-operative instructions were supposedly told to the patient’s friends. But the book needs to be read, not as a medical novel, but as a slice of life in the LGBTQ+ community and these lapses may be forgiven by the casual reader.

The social issues were dealt with with a realism that is sometimes sorely missing in literature and I was glad for it. Although the end was predictable, it carried with it the anguish of two characters who failed to reconcile until it was too late and the verbatim at the end was moving. I found that while the author tried to maintain a certain level of believability with the characters, they were all dramatized to suit the theatre. I am not sure if I am a fan of the genre but it was an interesting literary adventure in the end.

The Author

Dr. Efthikar Ahamed currently works as an Assistant Professor in the department of English and Comprehensive Literature in Kerala. He was awarded PhD in English for his research work in the area of poetry and comparative study. He has presented various research articles in national and international seminars and conferences. His publications in different peer reviewed research journals and periodicals, both in English and Malayalam put him in the main list of much-sought-after academic creative thinker and writer in the region.

He has two books to his credit in Malayalam and two in English. The Pride March is his debut play in English.

TL;DR: A quick read that focuses on important social issues

Do you like reading plays?

What would you recommend to me in the genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Author Interview, Promotion

Author Interview- Thomas Leslie McRae

I recently read the books Pimp in the Pulpit volumes 1 and 2 by Thomas McRae. I got a chance to interview the author and here are some of the things that we spoke about.

Me: When did you first realized that you wanted to write?
TM: I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I love poetry and writing it, I also love short fiction novels. I love the idea that something I can put on paper can actually touch many lives, plus different people. Words are a powerful thing they can inspire or break people’s spirit so that is why I like to write. I like knowing that my words have meaning and that people are interested in what I have to say.

Me: How did the process of publishing your first book change you as a person?
TM: In the beginning it was a fulfilling experience, but to be honest Author House Publishing is all about taking people’s money and not providing quality work or support. Speaking as a self-published author I would recommend before you handover any of your money you do thorough research and stick to your budget and don’t let any self publishing company convenience you differently. I am grateful for learning things and experiencing some harsh lessons in life. But it’s a lesson I learned and I’m a better writer for it.

Me: Seeing that Pimp in the pulpit was inspired by your own life experiences what was the hardest scene that you had to write?
TM: To be perfectly honest nothing I wrote was all that difficult. Because speaking the truth is refreshing and uplifting I believe it’s sad that most people spend so much time trying to be politically correct, instead of being honest and direct about life and everything involving it.

Me: What was one of the interesting things that you learnt during the process of creating this book?
TM: I learned that people don’t like having the truth about themselves being broadcast for everyone to see. But it’s ironic that they won’t do or try and be better. If people spend less time putting on a show for everyone else and be the man and woman they say they are then this world would be a better place.

Me: What do you hope that your readers take away from the book?
TM: I hope everyone and anyone who is willing to keep an open mind will enjoy and learn from the story in this book. Because Pimp in the Pulpit has a little bit of truth, fiction and a diversity in characteristic and literary form. Families aren’t perfect but some are worse than others so always be happy and grateful for what you have.

The author and his brother who is featured heavily in the Pimp in the Pulpit books, as children

Me: What does your family think of your writing?
TM: Some of my family is supportive, but most of them genuinely are just putting on a show. They only care when there is an audience or if I’m doing radio, book bloggers or newspaper interviews. I try not to focus on that but dedicate myself to my craft as a writer and a author.

Me: Do you read reviews for your books? How do you react to them?
TM: I do read my reviews from time to time. I usually try to get a mental concept of the good and bad reviews, because accepting criticism and embracing good reviews is something you have to accept if you’re going to be an author. Not everyone is going to like what you write or understand your creative style. But always stay true to who you are and Never Lose Yourself in your literary journey.

Me: Describe a typical writing day.
TM: I don’t have any typical procedures. I write when I’m happy, sad or just bored. As long as I feel I have something to say, I will write it down on a piece of scrap paper and go back to reevaluate my thoughts and ideas.

Me: Writing can be emotionally draining how do you deal with that?
TM: I usually don’t get drained by writing, because writing is an excitement that touches the core of my soul. I love to write because it gives me purpose and it helps me see who and what I am.

Me: What are some of the common traps for aspiring writers?

TM: Speaking from a self publishing author perspective, I can honestly say one of the main traps you fall into when dealing with these self-publishing companies is being persuaded into going over your budget with false notion of support and marketing help. Many of these self publishing company’s will promise you everything from the stars and the moon but once the money exchanges hands they act like these real estate agents and grab your money plus run like the wind. Some will continue to take your calls but ignore you in general. So my advice is this- stand your ground and stick to your guns and don’t do anything that doesn’t work for you.

Me: Do you see yourself writing in any other genre?
TM: Anything is possible because there was a time, I wasn’t sure I would ever work up the courage to publish a book led alone trying to market it myself. So yeah it could happen.

Me: What does literary success mean to you?
TM: Literary success, it simply means to me knowing that I gave it my all and was able to get my message out to you the people. No matter how many books I sell I just want to touch at least one person with my words and my stories and that alone will be enough.

Me: What are you currently working on?
TM: As of right now my poetry book Fatal Impact is available online, for more information about that contact iuniverse publishing. But Fatal Impact is filled with passion and desire plus a variety of collection of poems such as spiritual, love, death, political and personal. It’s a good poetry book that  anyone and everyone could relate to.

Fatal Impact newest book available online can all be purchased at any online book retailer websites, Barnes and Google are the main ones.

Book review, Received for Review

The Code of Manavas by Arpit Bakshi


Format: Paperback

Length: 280 pages

Genre: Indian Literature, Mythology, Science fiction

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Date of Publication: 10th July, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

The Code of Manavas is the first book in the Maha Vishnu Trilogy. It has been quite a while since I’ve read any sci-fi and Indian mythology is always fun to read so I was very excited to read the book.

The Blurb

Book one of the Maha Vishnu Trilogy, The Code of Manavas, is set some two million years past ad 2050, when earth as we know it ceased to exist and so did mankind. A new race, the Manavas, now exists on Bhoomi, the erstwhile Earth, which is divided into two cities—Madhavpur and Ayudhpur. In the quiet and peaceful city of Madhavpur, a reclusive Krishna is busy with an immense task. He has to prepare a new abode for the Manavas before an impending apocalypse destroys them. He knows something that nobody else does—the Manavas are running out of time faster than they can imagine and there are no inhabitable planets to escape to. To make matters worse, there is someone in Madhavpur who wants to destroy Krishna and subjugate each Manava. The Manavas, it seems, are doomed. Yet Krishna knows there is a slim chance of survival for the Manavas, although there is a huge price to be paid for it. Will the various factions of the Manavas unite for the greater good? Will Krishna, who saved them during the turn of the last Yuga, be able to save them now? What will be the price to pay? Enter the mythical world of Maha Vishnu and get swept up in a fast-paced suspenseful narrative.

The Book

The book is set in the future and begins with the description of an advanced group of people called Manavas who have evolved from humans with the help of a mysterious element, Bhoomodium. Bhoomodium increases the cognitive efficacy of the people and also renders them immortal but it has other consequences that they discover as time progresses. The author’s research on cosmic phenomenon and scientific facts regarding brain functioning is apparent throughout the book. The Krishna in the Swarnim Yuga and the Krishna that we all know from the Dwapara Yuga have been connected to each other in a variety of interesting angles but I wish that they had been explored more.

While the first couple of chapters were engaging, the book started to veer off into expected tangents as the story progressed. The introduction of a tragic love story and a partial love triangle seemed unnecessary seeing that it did not play any role in plot development. It seemed half-hearted with the introduction of the characters of Vallabha and Meera who was created just to satisfy the author’s need to introduce female characters into the story. The lack of representation of women as lead characters or even as council members irked me but what really upset me was how the other women were depicted. The so-called ‘guide’ who knows the lay of the land ends up twisting her ankle and having to be carried by the man, she does not notice that a Leopard is stalking her even though it is her job to collect samples and must always be aware of her surroundings. She is then again rescued by the ‘hero’ of the story. The woman who claims to be strong and is outdoorsy falls off the boat at the beginning of the journey and needs to doze and rest while the man who hardly ever ventures out of his lab gets them to their destination. A very obvious ‘damsel in distress rescued by the brilliant man’ theme was apparent throughout the book. The women were all portrayed as having only romance on their minds with both Vallabha and Radhika needing validation of their feelings from Krishna.

The book was slow in some parts but skipped over details in others. The sentence flow did not seem consistent, almost like it was edited by multiple people at multiple places and it was not brought together in the end. The plot was pretty much see-through throughout the book and none of the characters were particularly likable to me.

The Author

Arpit Bakshi studied electrical engineering and has an MBA in finance from the University of RPI, Troy, New York. He now works for a prominent Indian bank. Arpit initially wanted to pursue a career in theoretical physics, but ended up opting for engineering (as most students of science in India tend to do). Since his childhood, two things have never failed to amaze him—the vast expanse of the cosmos; and the unfathomable depth of Indian mythology and spirituality. He believes that one should never stop learning and it is his love for science that has gravitated him towards writing this mythology-inspired science fiction. Arpit is based in Gurgaon, India.

TL;DR: A book with a promising premise that unfortunately does not deliver on its promise

What is your favourite science fiction?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @thefoodandbooklife

Book Reveal, Promotion

Policy of Truth by Scarlett Holloway- Blog Tour


Genre: Mystery

Length: 278 pages

Date of Publication: 22nd February, 2019

Pre-order: 22nd January, 2019

The Blurb

After ending an abusive relationship, all Tamra ‘Durty’ Simons wanted was to reinvent herself and meeting Lace Beck gave her the opportunity to do just that.
However, a long journey of picking up the pieces didn’t prepare her for Sting’s appearance in her life.
Brett ‘Sting’ Jackson, was on a mission. Infiltrate the Death Angel MC and keep an eye on them. It was supposed to be simple─until Durty. Trying to gather intel was harder when falling for Durty seemed inevitable.
A foundation based on lies is sure to crumble, but when a rival club attacks the Angels, Sting and the Muerte Roja put their lives on the line to ensure Durty and the club is kept safe.
When the truth surfaces and passions ignite, will love be the only thing that survives?

The Author

Growing up on Central Coast, Scarlett Holloway always dreamed of seeibg her name on the cover of a book and on the NYTBS list. What better way than to bring a part of her past onto the pages of a novel, as well as writing about issues that women face on a daily basis? When she is not in her bunny hole writing, she is a massage therapist, trying to her people through therapeutic healing. Scarlett is hopelessly devoted to her husband, who she lovingly calls her plotbunny, and her teenage son.

You can contact Scarlett Holloway on her social media here-

Instagram: Twitter: Facebook:

Author’s upcoming work

Scarlett Holloway also has a new book in the works- Texas Heat (Part I of the Double J Saga) to be released in April 2019.

If you wish to own a copy of policy of Truth, enter this giveaway by January 22nd. Click below to enter-

You can also follow the blog tour here-

Book review, Received for Review

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis


Format: Paperback 

Length: 120 pages

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Page Turner Publishing

Date of Publication: 9th September, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Kay Macleod organised an Indie Advent Calendar like she has been doing for the last two years. Through the advent calendar I met several authors and Tonya was one of them. I love reading children’s fiction. This seemed to be the perfect read for the Christmas season and I was very excited to read it.

The Blurb

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington in this adorable, illustrated chapter book for middle grade readers. There is no secret Santa gift exchange going on at her school, so she can’t imagine who it could be. Sophie’s best friends, Chloe, Valentina, and Mariama guess the gift giver is either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not so sure.

Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget!

The Book

The story revolves around sixth grader Sophie Washington, her family and friends, especially her little brother Cole with his corny jokes who was my favourite. It is almost time for christmas break when sophie begins to receive packages from her Secret Santa. In the boxes she finds her favourite candies, a gingerbread house, and jewelry. She racks her brain to figure out who could be sending things to her and how they know what her favourite things are.

Along with this vein of mystery, the book also has other important aspects like dealing with bullies, forgiveness, and the importance of friendship and which makes it a wholesome read. I was reminded of Enid Blyton books because of the very clear distinction between right and wrong, good family values, and kids who are still innocent and likable. I now desparately want to read all the books in the series for their feel good factor.

The Author

Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the Reader’s Favorite “Five Star” rated Sophie Washington children’s books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12 and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence and worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer.

Tonya was born and raised in Louisville, KY and has also lived in Michigan, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, London, England, and Strasbourg, France. She currently resides in Houston, TX. When she’s not writing, the author enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel and spending time with her husband and three children. 

Her work include:
1. Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee (2013)

2. Sophie Washington: Things you Didn’t Know About Sophie (2013)

3. Sophie Washington: The Snitch (2014)

4. Sophie Washington: The Gamer (2017)

5. Sophie Washington: Hurricane (2018)

6. Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica (2018)

7. Sophie Washington: Secret Santa (2018)

TL;DR: A feel good book with mystery, humor and wholesome values

What did you do this Christmas season?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

The Lively Library and an Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund


Format: Paperback

Length: 96

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Readomania

Date of Publication: June 2016

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

The author is a professional chess player which intrigued me since I played semi-professionally for about 7 years. The author also promised that I would love the smattering of words in my mother tongue, Kannada. I never find books with Kannada words in them so I was very excited to begin reading.
The book is curated and edited by Readomania, an independent publishing house who support new and up-coming authors.

The Blurb

Unknown to Nayan, the library he inherits from his deceased father, is a mysterious place. Hiriya Halepu, Pu.Nayaka, Kapshi and and many others live there. They have a secret world with celebrations, romances, pangs of separation and conflicts. This is the Book-World. As two souls in this world fall in love, they encounter a strange predicament that separates them from each other. Things go from bad to worse when an unknown enemy sends a threat of destruction to this whole mysterious world. They call their resolute protector, Helmine, who unravels many unknown facets of this world, in an attempt to save it from the danger. The lovers struggle to find each other, and Helmine tries hard to decipher the threat messages. But will she be able to save this world from destruction? Will the two souls in love be united? There are no easy answers. Because, this is no ordinary Library, this is the place where books come to life.

The Book

The Lively Library and an Unlikely Romance is a short read that started out promising. It is the story of a library that comes to life after sundown, something similar to The Night Museum movies. I was curious to see how the author would adapt the concept to a library. An unwitting son inherits a library full of very special books. They have leaders among themselves, they have books that are noble and books that are mischievous, they have a network similar to our internet, they have means of communication similar to our text messages. They form an entire community of their own.

Unfortunately, as the story progressed, I had to deal with quite a lot of disappointment. The characters that were introduced in the beginning were not developed later in the story. The owner of the library and the two young children who I thought would play a role in the story were only randomly seen. With a multitude of new concepts and characters, the book was too short to do any of them justice. The ‘unlikely romance’ also did not feature much in the story.

Another thing that irked me was that the author gave spoilers to a lot of books in the process of describing them. He even described how some books end which is just not cool. The entire story of Fahrenheit 451 was revealed. I bought the book just a couple of months ago and was excited to read it and felt betrayed by the author.

On the positive note, the book was excellently edited, had no grammatical inconsistencies and had no typographical errors.

The Author

Niranjan Navalgund is a young chess professional who derives great pleasure in learning about life through the game of chess. He is a former National U-17 Chess Champion and a Commonwealth Silver medalist in the U-18 Category. He has been conferred with ‘Indradhanushya’ (2007) ‘Giants International Award’ (2009), ‘Kreeda Ratna’ Award (2010) and ‘Belgaumite of the year’ Award (2012) for his achievements in the field of Chess. He is a lover of words and occasionally tries his hand at writing stories and poems. He believes that writing is a wonderful exercise for the soul. Being a bibliophile, he harbours a special interest in the New Age Philosophy. Unusual stories excite him. He hopes to visit the Panda Zoo, someday. Niranjan lives with his family in Belagavi.

His work include:

  1. Chronicles of Urban Nomads (2014)
  2. A Little Chorus of Love (2015)
  3. A Lively Library and an Unlikely Romance (2016)
  4. Over a Cup of Chai (2018)

TL;DR: A quick read that introduces quite a lot of interesting concepts but needed more pages to truly explore them

Do you like reading children’s fiction?

What do you most like about them?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @thefoodandbooklife

Book review, Giveaway

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran


Format: Paperback

Length: 126 pages

Genre: Poetry, Spirituality, Philosophy, Classics

Publisher: Fingerprint Classics

Date of Publication: 2017; First published in 1927

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I received this book as a giveaway win from @reader_viddh. Everybody has been raving about the book and it seemed interesting to find an insight into another religion so I was very interested in reading it. I am not a big fan of poetry but I found that the book was beautifully written and I could handle it quite well.

The Blurb

A book of twenty-six poetic essays written in English, Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet is full of religious inspirations.

With the twelve illustrations drawn by the author himself, the book took more than eleven years to be formulated and perfected and is Gibran’s best-known work. It represents the height of his literary career as he came to be noted as ‘the Bard of Washington Street’.

The Prophet has chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

The Book

The book begins with the prophet lamenting about having to leave the place that he has come to love even though he is actually going back home. It describes a pain that all of us have felt when we have been used to living in a place that is home away from home. I found the first half of the book relatable but as the book progressed it seemed to incline more towards a fanatical approach towards life than practical. But seeing that the book was written a century ago, I think it was way ahead of its time.

In the first chapter ‘Coming of the Ship’, the author says “love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation”. I found this to hold true even for non-romantic love. It is only when we lose something that we seem to realise its importance. Later in the chapter titled ‘Marriage’, he says “we shall be together […] but let there be spaces in our togetherness.” It amazed me to see that a book written in 1927 could place so much importance on individuality and space in a relationship. Compared to the relationship advice that we saw in the latter half of that century, I was sad that such thinking existed but we did not carry it forward.

About ‘Giving’, the author says “is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?”. He later gives more examples to show that greed is what consumes most people. This resonated with me because we now see countries that have an excess of resources being stingy and ‘saving up’ for a later date while in fact they would be more at peace and happier if they would just let people make use of everything that they have to offer. When asked about ‘Talking’, the author says “when you talk you cease to be at peace with your thoughts. And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.” I remember someone saying “when you talk you stop listening”. As an introvert who has trouble finding things to talk about in social situations, this made a lot of sense. I often find that people talk for the sake of talking and it does nothing to help the knowledge base of the talker nor the listener. This chapter validated a lot of thoughts that I had about talking and listening.

When asked about ‘Pleasure’, the author said: “your body is the harp of your soul and it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds”. Again, I was surprised by the amount of freedom that the author gives to the individual. Rather than telling the woman that she exists for the pleasure of the males, he tells her that she is in control of her body and her mind. Later in the last chapter, ‘Farewell’ the author says […] you are as weak as your strongest link. This is half the truth. You are as strong as your strongest link. To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam”. This is great advice even in the present day. We see so many interviewers asking the interviewee what his weakest skill is and instead of helping to work on it or on his strengths, he is not even given a job. Concentrating on the weakest link is a very negative approach to a situation and I believe that solving an issue using everybody’s strengths will be quicker than eliminating people based on their weaknesses.

The book is a quick read but has life lessons in every paragraph. It makes you think. As a person who does not read much of poetry, I must say that it managed to keep my attention throughout. I don’t read religious books so I was a bit apprehensive about what I would find in this book but I was pleasantly surprised that it did not allude to any religion even in a roundabout way. Although I did not agree with some of the chapters, I would recommend the book to everyone at least as a means of having a philosophical discussion if not a spiritual or a religious one.

The Author

Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer.

Born in the town of Bsharri in modern-day Lebanon (then part of Ottoman Mount Lebanon), as a young man he emigrated with his family to the United States where he studied art and began his literary career. In the Arab world, Gibran is regarded as a literary and political rebel. His romantic style was at the heart of a renaissance in modern Arabic literature, especially prose poetry, breaking away from the classical school. In Lebanon, he is still celebrated as a literary hero.

He is chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. The book sold well despite a cool critical reception, gaining popularity in the 1930s and again especially in the 1960s counterculture.

Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

TL;DR: A book written a century ago that still has lessons for us in the present day.

Do you read philosophical books?

What is your favourite?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Heirs of Power by Kay Macleod


Format: Paperback 

Length: 362 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 15th October, 2016

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I requested a copy of the book from the author as a part of the Indie Advent Calendar. Kay is the nicest person and I am having the best time interacting with her. She has a cool concept with the advent calendar where she provides opportunities for indie authors and bloggers to meet and collaborate.

The Blurb

After stumbling upon an otherworldly ritual, Kitty Fairlow discovers that her own incredible hunting skills are not merely due to a lifetime of training. She has been gifted powers from an ancient spirit, passed down by her father. She is a Constellation.
And she’s not the only one.
A new generation of heroes have each inherited unique abilities in order to prevent the corruption of their world by the Tenebri, a race that thrives on life energy. Kitty, along with a high-born Dancer and a snarky Juggler, must find their allies before the Tenebri army picks them off.
With the powerful enemy emerging, can the Constellations gather in time to put an end to the threat for good, or will their foe succeed and wreak the same destruction they have unleashed on their own world?

The Book

The book begins with the usual premise of a young, smart, and athletic girl discovering her hidden powers and ancestry. She is protected by her father but has her own set of family tragedies that put things in perspective for her when she is forced to make tough decisions. I was glad to see that the author did not make her inaccessible as most authors do. Kay shows that a female character can be tough and strong but at the same time, nurturing and sweet. I did feel that Kitty was a bit of a pushover in the first half of the book but as the story progressed, she started to stand up for herself and it made me respect her more.

What felt unbelievable to me was the fact that these were just second generation Constellations but none of the civilians seem to remember the war. A war, no matter how secret, would have affected the lives of hundreds of people and they would still be in the process of rebuilding. I surprised myself by being suspicious of every new character when they were introduced. I wonder when I got so cynical and I love the fact that books give us a peek into our very own souls.

The book has both action and humor. I enjoyed the banter between Kitty and Asher. But I felt that for a book that is 362 pages long, the story did not progress as much as I hoped it would. A couple of chapters very a tad bit slow but I attributed it to the need for the introduction of so many new characters. The author managed to flawlessly introduce concepts of energy beings and various powers without overwhelming the reader. The book is the perfect launchpad for the next book in the series and I hope that we get to see a meatier storyline in the sequel.

The next book in the series- The Mage-Lord’s Legacy is set to release on the 9th of December. The cover and blurb are available on the author’s Instagram here.

The Author

Kay Macleod is a fantasy addict who has always loved the concept of magical worlds.

She was the kid with dragons doodled around the edge of her school work, the one with her head constantly buried in a book. As a teen, she shunned partying to play Magic the Gathering and DM Dungeons and Dragons games.

Through the years, she always made up stories and took characters on amazing adventures, in the privacy of her own mind and later felt the need to share them with other people.

Kay lives with her husband and cat in Nottinghamshire in England. When she is not writing (or planning something  about writing) she is usually working, reading, playing bass for her church’s worship team, playing computer games (World of Warcraft, Dragon Age, Pokemon, Minecraft) or drinking tea.

TL;DR: A book filled with witty characters that makes you want to read the next book in the series

What is your favourite fantasy series?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @thefoodandbooklife

Book club, Book review

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


Format: eBook (Kindle) PicsArt_08-18-03.09.33-min

Length: 378 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Mental Health

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Date of Publication: 6th January, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

All the Bright Places was one of the BOTM for the Book Club. I love reading for bookclubs and readlongs because it is an almost sure thing that the books are going to be great. WE also find a lot of different interpretations of a story which makes for interesting discussions.

The book is apparently also being adapted into a movie which will be interesting. I am always on the look out for more books that deal with mental health because it cannot be talked about enough so I was very excited about reading it.

The Blurb

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

The Book

On the surface, All the Bright Places is a tried and tested story. A troubled boy and a sweet girl with a tragic past are brought together for a project and each one helps the other in ways that they do not understand and they fall hopelessly in love with each other. We have read hundreds of books and watched thousands of movies with the same plot. What makes this book different is the way each issue was handled. Mental health was not made trivial nor was it romanticized. It was reiterated that professional help is required and an individual cannot fight his way out without a strong support system.

I loved the character of Violet. She was not inherently good or bad. Her shades of gray made her endearing. Her struggles with guilt and trying to put on a brave face for her parents were moving. I did not take to Finch’s character so easily. I did not like the way that he expected the world to dance to his tunes while he did what he pleased. This issue cropped up again when Finch threw rocks at Violet’s window and threatened to wake up the whole neighbourhood if she didn’t go out in the middle of the night with him to god knows where. I wish authors would stop turning situations like this into something desirable. It sets a bad precedent when a girl who is clearly not comfortable with a situation is coerced into doing something because ‘it is good for her’.

I was glad that the author stayed true in descriptions of depression and manic. She did not try to miraculously find a cure for it nor suggest that falling in love with Violet and having those feelings reciprocated could cure Finch of his disease. I grew to like his character towards the middle of the book especially with the running for flowers scene. Having said that, I must applaud the author for painting this realistic picture and showing that dealing with mental illness is no joke.

The Author

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven’s first book for young adults. By the time she was ten, she had already written numerous songs, a poem, two autobiographies, a Christmas story, several picture books, a play, a series of prison mysteries, a collection of short stories and a partially finished novel.

In 2000 she started writing full-time, contributing to her web magazine and dabbling in TV. Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives in Los Angeles.

Her work include:

  1. The Ice Master (2000)
  2. Ada Blackjack (2003)
  3. The Aqua Net Diaries (2009)
  4. Velva Jean Learns to Drive (2009)
  5. Velva Jean learns to Fly (2011)
  6. Becoming Clementine (2012)
  7. American Blonde (2014)
  8. All the Bright Places (2015)
  9. Holding up the Universe (2016)

TL;DR: A beautifully written book that made me cry and put me in a big time book-coma

What are some of the books that you liked that dealt with mental health?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

Horse Town by Moshank Relia


Format: Paperback IMG_20181016_130023_580-min

Length: 74 pages

Genre: Children’s fiction

Publisher: Pigeon Post Literary Press

Date of Publication: 1st October, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

I love reading children’s books. They have an innocence about them that is always missing in every other genre. I had heard good reviews for the author’s debut book so I jumped at the chance to read this one when the author offered a review copy.

The Blurb

Horse Town is a story of two boys who are brought together by chance and bound together by their willingness to make sacrifices to each other- and strangers. The young boys, Arjun and Maruthi, live together in a single room, scraping together a meagre living by doing odd jobs.
Beside their residence looms the mansion of the reclusive Uncle Grim, a mysterious man who inexplicably receives free food and services from the townspeople. Uncle Grim is even rumoured to practice magic!
When two other boys from the town go missing and Arjun’s hard-earned coins begin to disappear, Arjun and Maruthi search for answers. Something has to explain these strange events. Could it be the peculiar and private Uncle Grim?

The Book

Horse Town is a short but sweet read. The book has beautiful illustrations both on the cover and on the inside by the author. It is a story of trust, friendship, and bonding. The story revolves around two orphan boys who have only each other to rely upon. Arjun has been living on his own for three years and his heart goes out to Maruthi who seems abandoned on the streets. He takes on the responsibility of creating a respectable life for the younger boy even though his efforts seem to be in vain.

The character of Uncle Grim gives the story a much-needed oomph. What was a simple story until then, takes a turn towards a mystery. We find ourselves rooting for Arjun at every turn. I was heartbroken when he believes that his trust was misplaced.

The story has you on your toes right until the end wondering who the culprit really is. It has naivety, intrigue, mystery and lightheartedness that make it a very ‘feel good’ book. It highlights the human nature of suspicion and showcases how important it is to trust your gut.

The author kept in mind the age of the book’s audience. The font is comfortable to read and the illustrations are simple to understand. The book can also be used as a readalong in schools or for parents that want to introduce the concept of trust, hard work, and friendship to young readers.

The Author

Moshank Relia is a graduate in English literature and has earned certificates in creative writing, sketching and theatre. He also holds a diploma in photography and has worked as a fashion photographer. He has trekked a number of high-altitude ranges in the Himalayas, including the mighty Rupin Pass (15,250ft.), Kedarkantha (12,850ft.) and the Kuari Pass (12,516ft.). His love for adventure, his deep affection for kids and his wide-ranging creative experiences drove him to write children’s fiction. Even though he is based in New Delhi, he can often be found sauntering along Camel Back Road, Mussoorie, where he spent most of his teenage years.

His work include:

  1. Adventures in Farland (2017)
  2. Horse Town (2018)

TL;DR: A short but in no way simple read that introduces concepts of trust, friendship and hard work to young readers

What was your favourite book as a kid?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life