Just Read

26 Mar

The Art Of Arranging Flowers – Lynne Branard

Ruby, in her forties, is a lawyer-turned-florist in the small American town of Creekside. Her sister Daisy’s death has caused her to withdraw into a shell, and the flowers are her only love and life. The townspeople believe that Ruby has magical powers – that she can make things happen with her flowers. It is Ruby they come to when they want flowers for someone recovering from an illness or to propose to someone. Ruby’s business is flourishing but, at the core, she is sad. The Art Of Arranging Flowers is Ruby’s story, of how a lonely little boy, a dog called Clementine, the local veterinarian and a scientist who has flown to the moon, as well as the tight-knit community of Creekside, help her recover.

The premise of the book sounded quite interesting, which is why I bought it. I found it an average read, though. The storyline is cute and the book does have its high moments, but overall, it was way too sad for my liking. It tries too hard to fit into the genre of magic realism, but it doesn’t. A few incidents in the book feel very unrealistic too, as if straight out of a movie. Though the book had a lot of potential, it didn’t do anything for me.

Maybe you’ll like the book more than I did?

The Cherry Cola Book Club – Ashton Lee

The Cherry Cola Book Club is about Maura Beth, the young red-headed director of the Cherico Library in the small American town of Cherico. The library has not been seeing many visitors lately, and the local government wants to close it down, allocating the respective funds saved to the building of an industrial park, instead. Maura Beth is determined not to let this happen and, as a last-ditch attempt to increase circulation, starts The Cherry Cola Book Club. The book club meetings promise great food and literary conversation, but will they really help Maura Beth achieve her goals? You have to read the book to find that out!

I loved this book! It is full of Southern charm, eccentric characters and all. There is romance in the book, but clean and sweet, with not a hint of vulgarity. And, then of course, there’s the library and the book club meetings to love. I loved the agenda of each of the book club meetings, and would have loved to personally be a part of them. The book highlights the sad situation of many public libraries across the world today, and that touched a chord with me.

Recommended? Definitely. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Cherry Cola series now!

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts about them?

What are you reading at the moment?

Overheard

23 Mar

My dad telling Bubboo (showing her a picture in the day’s newspaper): Bubboo, look at this maami. (Trying to divert her attention and make her smile)

The maami in question is Kareena Kapoor in an advertisement, looking ultra smoking in a chic hairstyle and scarlet lipstick!

When Amma Turns Stylist

20 Mar

Dearest darling Bubboo,

This mother of yours sometimes forgets that you are a little baby and not a doll. She gets extremely engrossed in dressing you up, choosing dresses for you for the morning and evening, matching and mixing colours and styles. Of course, she does bother to ensure that you are comfortable, well-fed and -rested before doing so, but you might have gotten irritated with her at some point or the other.

The thing is, she has waited so long for a girl – a girl to dress up in all the colours of the world. She does go overboard, a bit, at times, but she has your best interests at heart, always. She wants you to look adorable, to get to know what suits you and what not. Pardon her, grin and bear it, and love her for doing what she does. That’s all she wants.

Love,

Amma

PS: Amma can’t wait for you to grow up a bit more, so that she can put all those fancy shoes that squeak, pretty hairbands and hair clips on you. :)

Life And A Baby

16 Mar

I am busy reading a book, lying next to Bubboo on the bed. I am happy that she is keeping herself entertained.

Suddenly, a little fist appears on the page that I am reading, threatening to grab the book.

I hold the fist, make a few cooing sounds to Bubboo, and continue reading.

There are little whimpering sounds then, which I know will turn into full-blown sobbing if I don’t do anything about them. Soon.

I get up immediately, closing the book. I remember I have to place a bookmark in it, quickly, or else I will have to lose a precious few minutes going through what I have already read the next time I pick up the book.

Bubboo’s new melon teether comes in handy.

Orange Rasam: A Recipe

15 Mar

It is orange season now, and we have a lot of oranges in our fruit basket, all thanks to the OH. Being the big fan of oranges that he is, a bag of the fruits comes home with the OH from work almost every day. Most get eaten by him but recently, some went into the making of orange rasam – something that I have been thinking I will make since years, but that I finally made only last week.

I read up a bit about making orange rasam on the internet, and came up with the way I would make it – a mix of different recipes plus some personal preferences. It turned out delicious! I am sure it is going to made a couple more times before the season comes to an end.

Here is how I made it..

Ingredients (for 2 people):

A small cup of toor dal, boiled

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder to taste

A small bunch of coriander leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 dry red chillies

Turmeric powder to taste

A few curry leaves

Juice of 3-4 medium sized oranges

Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon

4 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

A pinch of asafoetida

For the rasam powder:

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

3-4 dry red chillies

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

8-10 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon chana dal

Method:

For the rasam powder:

1. Dry roast all the ingredients for the rasam powder in a pan. Let everything cool down completely.

2. Grind all the ingredients together in a mixer, coarsely.

For the rasam:

1. Take a little water in a pan and add the finely chopped tomatoes. Add the salt and curry leaves. Let cook till the tomatoes turn mushy.

2. Add the boiled toor dal, asafoetida, turmeric powder and red chilli powder to taste, as well as the dry red chillies, broken into two. Add the required quantity of water, to get the consistency that you desire.

3. Add the rasam powder and let everything cook together for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the finely chopped coriander leaves and crushed garlic. Let the rasam come to a boil and switch off the gas.

5. Add the orange juice and the lemon juice. Mix well. Check the taste and add more lemon juice if you require the rasam to be more sour.

6. In a small pan, heat a bit of oil and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Add the mustard seed garnish to the rasam and mix well.

Serve hot. Apparently, this rasam should not be heated too much after the orange and lemon juices have been added, as they have the tendency to turn bitter when done so.

Have you ever tried orange rasam? How do you make it?

Just Read

13 Mar

Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book – Terry Jones

When you buy a book just because the premise sounds interesting, without reading up much about it, there are two possible outcomes you can get – either you end up happy with your purchase or you end up disappointed. In case of Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book, it was the latter for me.

The book is based on the incident of the Cottingley Fairies, something which fascinated me immensely, considering I was an ardent reader of tales involving fairies, pixies, gnomes and elves in childhood. The story in the book is fictional, told in the form of the journal of young Lady Angelica Cottington, who can see fairies, and – gasp! – presses them in her notebook like some people do butterflies and flowers. The story is indeed interesting, but I thought it is more than a little twisted.

The journal looks beautiful, with the print like actual handwriting, but Lady Cottington did not seem to be very likeable. The illustrations are brilliant and apt for the story, but are quite ghastly. Of course, that could be just me!

I am not sure I would give this book to a six-year-old to read, the age group for which it is intended.

Recipe For Life – Nicky Pellegrino

Nicky Pellegrino’s Recipe For Life is the story of Alice and Babetta, two very different women from very different backgrounds. Alice is a young woman trying to run away from one ugly night, which changed the course of her life forever. Italian nonna Babetta has lived a hard life, and is now beginning to worry if her husband Nunzio is losing interest in living altogether. Fate brings Alice and Babetta together in a ramshackle Italian villa, Villa Rosa, something that impacts both ladies in significant ways. Interesting premise, right? Sadly, the book disappointed thoroughly.

There is not much of a plot, and I was left wondering what I just read, when I had finished the book. The story seems to meander here and there, without any real substance in it. Alice wasn’t very likeable, though Babetta seemed very sweet and someone worth meeting with in real life.

This one was definitely not my cup of tea.

Have you read any/both of these books? What are your thoughts about it/them?

What are you reading at the moment?

The Great Bubboo Lick

9 Mar

These days, whoever and whatever comes near Bubboo is rewarded with many wet little licks from her. Bedsheets, pillows, nappies, toys, her hands, the OH’s and my hands, dresses, wiping cloths – nothing is spared.

The OH and I take our cheeks to her mouth, and she gladly obliges. We come away happy, with big wet patches on our cheeks.

They are precious to us, these wet patches. They will do for kisses, for now. :-)

Just Read

3 Mar

Important Artifacts And Personal Property From The Collection Of Lenore Doolan And Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, And Jewelry – Leanne Shapton

Being the sucker for ‘unique’ books that I am, I was attracted to this book by Leanne Shapton as soon as I learnt about it. I have enjoyed most of the few graphic novels I have read, and was in the mood to add one more to the list. I was not disappointed.

Important Artifacts is the story of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, a couple, told graphically. Lenore and Harold’s relationship has been going through some twists and turns, the latest turn of which has been towards a break-up. Some of their personal belongings are ready to be auctioned off, and the book is in the form of the auction catalogue. The few pictures of the stuff that is being sold, and their descriptions, cleverly say a lot about Lenore and Doolan and their relationship.

I found the book to be a short but interesting read, one that I greatly enjoyed. Harold comes across as a jerk and the character of Lenore, while evoking sympathy, also speaks of positivity and smartness. This is a story that I could relate to, and I am sure many modern readers would.

Recommended? Yes. Don’t go looking for too much depth in the story, though.

Angelina’s Bachelors – Brian O’Reilly

When her husband Frank dies suddenly of a heart attack, Angelina is at a loose end. She doesn’t know what to do with herself and the rest of her life. Losing her job doesn’t make it any easier – it only increases Angelina’s worries about how to make ends meet. She turns to something she has always loved – cooking. She ends up cooking huge quantities of food, which finds its way to the homes of her neighbours and other friends in her locality. The delicious food has the neighbourhood asking for more, and leads Angelina to a job of cooking for a few bachelors who crave homely food. How this ‘bachelors’ club’ changes her life is what makes up the story of Brian O’Reilly’s Angelina’s Bachelors.

I was thoroughly disappointed with the book. The story is way too predictable, and the twists and turns too Bollywoodish. The descriptions of the food looked forced, as if put there just for the sake of putting them in the book. The recipes that have been incorporated too are very complicated and not homely in any way.

This is not something that I enjoyed, but maybe, someone else would like it better than me?

Have you read any/both of these books? What are your thoughts about it/them?

What are you reading at the moment?

Of Blah-ness, An Anniversary, A Birthday, Books, And Bubboo

25 Feb

Life has been quite blah for some time now. There hasn’t been anything exciting happening, except for Bubboo’s smiles and chatter. I am not complaining – I love being Bubboo’s mother – but sometimes it feels as if my days are revolving only around the changing of nappies and dresses and wiping up spit and changing diapers. I try to go for a 20-minute walk once a day, but on some days, even that is not possible. I try to whip up quick meals in the kitchen whenever I can. Any other free time is spent in reading or taking a long shower. Everything seems very blah, though. I am busy, yet not busy. I don’t really seem to have anything to do. It feels as if it has been ages since I went out leisurely with the OH, ate out, explored the city, or just talked to him without time constraints. The fact that the OH has been super busy at work hasn’t helped one bit.

To top it, Bubboo has been sick. She is recovering from a bad cold and cough, and has been extremely cranky. Children’s illnesses take a toll on their parents, especially when they are too young to articulate their aches and pains, and this illness has taken its toll on us, too. I seem to have caught the bug as well, and a sore throat and running nose have made me feel even blah-er lately.

Our anniversary came and went in January. The OH was flying to Delhi the very same day, and we didn’t get the opportunity to do anything special. The same was the case with my birthday last week. Plans for a relaxed lunch or dinner outside didn’t work out, and the day just went by routinely.

The last weekend saw me splurging on some books, mostly new authors, some interesting titles that piqued my curiosity. I ended up buying a few pre-loved books on a lark, without reading any sort of reviews about them. Then, the OH’s late anniversary-cum-birthday gift arrived, as a surprise – another lot of books from my TBR list – which I had been hunting for since forever. He knew the names and had asked his cousin in the US of A to get them for me. She landed in India over the weekend, and I was surprised to be handed a bag full of books!

In the midst of all the blah-ness, such little things have been the bright spots in life, for sure.

I now have a whole lot of interesting-looking stuff to look forward to reading.

Here’s hoping these lovelies help me ward off the feeling of blah-ness soon…

Just Read

23 Feb

French Milk – Lucy Knisley

I read Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life In The Kitchen last year and quite enjoyed it. It is one of the very few graphic books I have read. When I got to know about another of the author’s graphic books, French Milk, I wanted to read it immediately. The in-house Santa complied with my wishes, and I recently received the book as a part of my birthday gift. I finished reading it in a day – flat! Sadly, it turned out to be an utter disappointment.

French Milk can be considered as a food-cum-travel memoir, in the graphic form. It is a graphic journal detailing all that the author and her mother did when they visited Paris for a month, on a holiday, when she was an adolescent. Many readers have told me that this book is the best by the author, that it speaks of mother-daughter bonding in a very beautiful way, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. The author came across as a whiny, spoilt brat, smoking and drinking and shopping all the time, missing the boyfriend that she had left back at home. Yes, the mother and daughter did visit some lovely places and buy some gorgeous things, which made me crave to visit Paris, too. Beyond that, though, the book seemed to lack any depth. It reminded me of the days Amma and me used to spend exploring Ahmedabad, but I didn’t see any real mother-daughter bonding happening. The travel part of the book is good, but it  is not a great memoir, in my humble opinion. That made the book only an average read for me, in spite of the rather high expectations with which I picked it up. Of course, that could be just me! So, don’t hesitate to give this book a try if you love the genre – you might be surprised!

The Caliph’s House – Tahir Shah

I had been wanting to read Tahir Shah’s The Caliph’s House for the longest time ever. I finally got my hands on an e-copy recently, at a bargain price, much to my glee. The book didn’t disappoint totally, but it wasn’t a great read either.

The Caliph’s House is about the author’s (mis)adventures in Morocco, where he buys a house on what seems like a whim and takes his family to. The house, called the Caliph’s house or Dar Khalifa, is a beautiful, sprawling property, but there seem to be many problems therein. First of all, there are the jinns. Then, there is the huge task of getting a series of never-ending renovations done. Then, there’s the task of adjusting to the local customs and traditions, and learning to make a place in the hearts of the locals. All of this made for an interesting read, for sure. Tahir Shah is witty and humorous, and I enjoyed reading the book.

That said, the book seemed to lack depth. The author seemed to have no real interest in learning about the customs of the people living alongside him, in the same area. He seemed to do a bit of sight-seeing, but that too looked as if done without any love. His decision to move to Morocco too seems hurried, without a detailed thought process behind it. His wife and two young children seemed to face so many hassles because of this hasty decision, and the wife’s opinion seems to have hardly been considered. But then, to each his own. I don’t have any right to go judging the author’s life decisions!

This book falls into the liked-it-but-didn’t-really-love-it genre for me. Maybe you’d like it more than I did?

Have you read any/both of these books? What did you think about it/them?

What are you reading at the moment?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 462 other followers