31 Jan

Amish Tripathi’s Ram Chandra Series

Scion-of-Ikshvaku-Ram-Chandra-Series

Last few weeks, Amish Tripathi got many people around here excited by announcing a contest to guess the theme of his next book series. There were twitter/facebook contests for guessing the theme with #WhatsNextAmish hashtag.

I was not paying much attention to it though I had read the first two books of the Shiva Trilogy and liked them. I skipped the third because of its sheer size and people who read it commented it that it could have been 200 pages shorter.

Things changed when Westland Publishers sent a mail asking if I want to get involved in the Mystery Box Challenge associated with Amish’s new book. And I said an yes. I received the parcel last week at my office, but I had taken few days leave due to fever and the contest was over by the time I opened the parcel.

Nishita had already posted a unboxing video and I was pretty clueless looking at it.

The box is a solid wooden box with some decorations and with few golden and silver strokes. I loved the lock of the box.

Amish Tripathi's Ram Chandra Series - Scion of Ikshvaku

When I opened the box, it contained a vial of mud-like substance ( I think it is fine mud), a scroll with secret clue to guess about the new book series and the promotional letter from Westland Publishers.

Amish Tripathi's Ram Chandra Series - Scion of Ikshvaku Promotion
Below you can find the picture of the scroll containing the secret clue about the book. Since the book and the series title has been already announced, I am not going into much details. It looks like different people got different clues.

Amish Tripathi's Ram Chandra Series - Scion of Ikshvaku- promotion clue

So did someone guess the series correctly? Did someone win any of the contests? I think the first book will take few months to be released – around October 2015 and it looks like it is going to be a 4-5 book series. I think Amish has the potential to gain more popularity if he plays his game carefully. I thought that Shiva Trilogy could have been better with a better editor. I hope he takes his books a little more seriously this time.

Read my review of the first book of Shiva Trilogy below. Guess I missed writing the review for the second one :)

The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi : Book Review

26 Jan

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas book cover.

Raised in the 1940s in the mostly Irish neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, by an alcoholic mother and a union-wage father, Eileen yearns for more from an early age. Driven by this longing, she places her stock and love in a handsome young scientist and with him begins a family. Once her childhood neighborhood begins to slip below her standards, she pushes against her husband’s reluctance to find a home elsewhere. When it becomes clear that his reticence is part of a deeper, more incomprehensible psychological shift, the bricks of the life she thought she was building begin to crumble, and she and her son are left to grapple with a husband and a father who is, beyond their control, fading away.

In this heartbreaking debut, Thomas masterfully paints the sprawling portrait of a family that heroically weathers an extraordinary storm. It is wise to the ways in which people happen, over time and with each other.

Reading certain books are so easy. You get to live in an imaginative world with all those characters, and when the book ends you move on to a different book and get immersed in another world. Then there are those books which leave you disturbed and thoughtful occupying a space in your mind long after you finished reading that last page. We are not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas is one of such kind.

When I started reading this one, I did enjoy Eileen’s early life and its details, but after a few pages of reading I honestly had to push myself to read through the pages. I had even thoughts about abandoning the book, but I kept on. After all, this book came with a lot of recommendations and I just had to know what all the hype was about it.

Then came the second half and everything changed. When Learys’ life seems to be doing OK with enough of their own complexities, darkness enters their lives – slowly at first and then with full force threatening to take over their lives completely.  That is all I will say about the second half of the story.

The story picked up momentum and then you realize what kind of ride Matthew Thomas is taking you for, you are awed and scared. You are scared for Eileen and Connell, because you what know what is going to happen, but then they don’t know what their future is going to be. Imagine you as a reader knowing something and you just want to cry out to Eileen and make her see what is happening.

You see Eileen’s ambitions from early on and then you see some of them being lost on the way. The way she pushes herself, Ed and her son towards a path which she thought was the path to happiness. But Ed has his own ambitions and aspirations which might not be aligned with Eileen’s many a times. What happens then? Does they take the middle ground? Or does someone give up on their ambitions for the sake of love?

I think everyone calls this an epic story because of the way you live the life with Eileen, Ed and Connell. You are not a passive observer, you are an active but invisible character in the story itself, seeing everything and feeling everything that the family is going through.

You just have to read this book and experience it.  I hope I was able to convince you all to pick up this amazing book for the characters and the writing.

Warning: It is a heavy subject.

 Rating: 4.5/5
Source: eARC from HarperCollins
First Release: August 19th 2014
25 Jan

Move to Self Hosted WordPress – An Overview

Move to self hosted wordpress siteIt has been three weeks since I  moved my blog which had a custom domain name on Blogger to a self-hosted wordpress site, hosted on bluehost. I don’t want to write a big story about the movement, but I do want to write few points for anyone contemplating a move to self hosted WordPress.

Overall, I am loving the WordPress experience, but do want to write down a few fine points about what are the things involved. For detailed steps, I have kept three links under essential reads in the end of this post which are good enough for you to make the move and much more.

1. Why Did I Move?

  • I had heard a lot about WordPress being more powerful, but was shying away because of the work and complexity involved.
  • The best reason for anyone to move to a self-hosted WordPress site will be SEO. If are serious about blogging and want to rank higher in search engine results, you will need to be more serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and WordPress makes it so easy.

2. Cost

  • I had already purchased my custom domain name two years back from enom through Blogger, which costs me  around 10-11 US$ every year. If you do not have a domain name, you will need to invest around US$11 for the domain registration.
  • I decided to go with a bluehost hosting as it was known as the best hosting service provider around here in terms of value for money and support. The hosting for the basic hosting plan for a year cost me 60 US$.
  • I need to shell out around 70-75 US$ every year if I need to keep this blog up and running.

3. Installing WordPress

  • The whole exercise was to install WordPress on the blog, so I let bluehost take care of installing the latest stable version of WordPress on the blog. That is 4.1. That is quite easy. Bluehost will take care of all that.

Remember to create an admin user name and password during the WordPress installation and please keep something other than ‘admin’ as user name.

4. Moving the Posts and Comments

  • I used the inbuilt tool provided by WordPress to move my posts, images and comments over to the new site. It will take few minutes depending on the number of posts you have on your blog. I have just 260 odd posts and very few comments, so it was done in a matter of few minutes.
  •  You have to set up the Permalinks so that your existing posts are intact.

5. Changing the DNS Records

  • Since I already had a custom domain which I wanted to reuse or rather I wanted to move my blog from Blogger to bluehost, I had to go and manually edit the DNS entries in the eNom account so that the domain name points to the one bluehost has.
  • If you are buying a domain name from bluehost or your hosting service provider, they will take care of the domain name related activities. This is applicable when you want to keep a different url for your blog/site or you are moving from a Blogspot blog to self-hosted WordPress site.
  • I had kept the domain-renewal for auto-renewal out of laziness, and then I had to reset my Google apps password to get the domain name registration details(try user name bloggeradmin@yourdomainname.com – it works )
  • I have an option to transfer my domain registration to bluehost and keep everything under a single umbrella. But this is optional. My domain is still under eNom and I will transfer it later.

Note: If you are not in the habit of remembering all your passwords, you will have to look through your Google apps account carefully to find out your domain-registration user name and password.

6. Waiting

  • Once you have updated your DNS records, you may have to wait 1-2 hours before your blog actually comes up. I had the urge to move to WordPress at midnight and I got things up and running in few hours, which meant that not many people may have noticed that my blog went out of radar for a few hours (Google would have obviously noticed). Plan your move based on your site stats.

7. Installing Theme

  • While I was waiting for my DNS records to be perpetrated across the different servers, I decided to try out few free themes. Unlike Blogger, you will have to download the theme to your site directory, before trying out the theme. It is easy and can be done with a few clicks.
  • I am going to use the free themes available and will not invest in buying a customized theme for some time.

8. Issues

  • I faced issues with my urls and Google webmaster cribbed for a long time before the sitemap submitted had urls with missing ‘the’, ‘a’ etc. I had urls like ‘/the-citadel-a-j-cronin.html’. What will happen if someone tells Google that the page url is ‘/citadel-cronin.html’.
  •  You should be careful about these problems before submitting sitemaps to Google through Google Webmasters.
  • I had to re-submit my sitemaps to Google Webmasters again to solve some of the problems, but I have still few ‘Page Not Found’ issues to resolve.

The only thing I would say to all who want to move to self hosted WordPress site is that – There are lots of tutorials, blogs, sites etc telling you how to do each thing, so there is no way you can do a irreparable damage to your site because of lack of information. Information is all available on the internet.

Before you take this step you will need only three things – money for buying domain/hosting, lots of time and the dedication to see through the change.

Trust me, you will not regret it….I LOVE IT.

Essential Reads Before You Move

4 Jan

Moving to Self-Hosted WordPress Site

Moving to Self-Hosted WordPress Site from Blogger Custom Domain
Moving to Self-Hosted WordPress Site

Moving to a self-hosted WordPress site was something that was there on my mind for long, but I never could let myself take up the challenge till now…Then came the new year and I invested some time thinking about my new year resolutions!

I thought it was time to stop blogging entirely or take this book review blog a little more seriously. So I decided that I will move to a self-hosted WordPress site from my custom domain blog by Blogger.Is that useful? I believe so. If you don’t, do a quick search on Google!

I know I should have done it long back, and I even remember using a free WordPress blog to start this blog and then leaving it to create a Blogger Blogspot blog. This was years ago, way back in 2009. I was quite familiar with Blogger and was not very keen on facing the learning curve involved in having a WordPress blog.

After few years, I wanted to do some experiments with my blog and then paid up some money to get a custom-domain. This had kept me satisfied until a few days ago. I realized that I want more out of this blog and I have to put more effort too.

It is funny that I am afraid of WordPress when I write at least few lines of code every week.I should not have been afraid of WordPress. right?

Yesterday when I was thinking about my new year resolutions related to books and blogging,I decided to move to WordPress without much clue as to how to go about it. Few quick reads of posts by my favorite bloggers ensured that I do not even need a new domain name. I could keep the domain name and most of my Google search traffic with a bit of effort.

So keeping the long story short, here I am writing my first post using WordPress. Do bear with the constant change of themes until I figure out what I like best.

2 Jan

A New Year of Reading

A very happy new year to all of you !

Another year with a lot of possibilities. That is what I feel about 2015 in general.Moving to our own apartment and my daughter starting school are the much anticipated events of the year.

I have decided to challenge myself to read 50 books this year. I know it is a tough task when my hands are full with two kids and a full-time job, nevertheless I want to give it a try. I should actually make it 100 if you count those unread books on my book shelf and the kindle app.

If you ask me if I have made any new year resolutions, the answer would be yes. I want to read more non-fiction and work a bit on the Classic Club titles.

I discovered an awesome library which can help me with my new year resolutions. It is the Kwench library whose membership comes to me through my company. I love the amazing collection the library has and love that I don’t even have to step out of my office to get the book. It will be delivered to our mail room. I just feel bad that I can have only one book at a time. I have already 35 books in my wish list from this library.

I have almost stopped accepting any books for review as I have a lot of backlog to clear. There are a few books which was sent to me long back and I am yet to read/review them. I need to do justice to all those people.

When I say about stopping review copies, I mean those sent to me directly. I am sure I cannot resist those ARCs on netgalley. For the time being, I am not requesting many books as I want to keep my feedback/approved percentage higher.

I do not have any list of books that I want to read in 2015 as I want to read them on impulse. Deciding on the books to be read will not work for me. So I will read books based on my whims and fancies. Isn’t that the right way to enjoy reading?

I do want to increase the number of reviews posted, but then it is not an easy task to give justice to a book by writing a review. Probably that is one of the reasons why I don’t write more reviews here however awesome the book was.

Let me know about your Goodreads Challenge and new year resolutions !

30 Dec

2014 – My Year in Books

I try to end the year with a Goodreads Challenge update post talking about how many books I read in a given year, and if I were able to complete the challenge and all that trivia.

This year I had almost forgotten about the Goodreads Challenge as I blogged the Goodreads Challenge completion way back in September. To be frank, it was a kind of cheating from my side as I put a much lesser number this year. But still 30 books is a good enough challenge with a toddler and a newborn baby around.

I have read 40 books in 2014 though I had kept a figure of 30 books for the challenge this year. I am so happy that I could read a lot of amazing books this year.

 Link: The 40 Books I Read in 2014 

Goodreads has gone ahead and have listed out few more stats in detail to make things more interesting. These are quite self explanatory. Do find your stats on goodreads. I think a banner will come up when you click the ‘My Books’ tab at the top of your respective home page after login.

I read 40 books this year compared to 59 books in 2013. Still not bad at all ! The numbers for 2009 are much low because I would not have so diligent about recording my readings in 2009 which is the year I joined goodreads. Or may be I didn’t read much that year.

The ‘publication year’stats is quite interesting. Most of my reads in 2013 and 2014 had been ARCs from Netgalley. This explains the large number of blue dots on the top. I think it is time to diversify my reading a little more.

Looking at the above slides, I am determined to improve the ‘publication year’ stats next year and this indicates that it is time to take the Classic Club seriously. Did I tell you that I have not read even a single book for the Classic Club? :(

This post was originally published on www.thebookishreviews.com. All Rights Reserved.

26 Dec

Book Wishlist #5

I have heard so much good things about this dystopian novel that I really really want to read this one. Few years back, I had decided that dystopian fiction may not be my cup of tea, but I am ready to take some risk with this book.

I don’t have much clue about the book other than it is post-apocalyptic, but I believe the actual book is much  more interesting that the below description from so many reviews that I have read about this one.

Have you read this? If yes, do you think it is worth all the attention ?

Description

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

This post was originally published on www.thebookishreviews.com. All Rights Reserved.

25 Dec

Merry Christmas

Image Source

Wishing all of you a very very Merry Christmas. God Bless You all !

This post was originally published on www.thebookishreviews.com. All Rights Reserved.

23 Dec

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year

Today The Broke and The Bookish team has asked us to write Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year for the Top Ten Tuesday today. As of now, I am OK if Santa is not kind enough, but it would be great if the TH see this well on time :P. After all it is my birthday tomorrow :) I feel the same as when I was in college, but the thought that I will be 30 tomorrow is little weird.

So here is my list:

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: I think this is the book that I would have gifted myself for my birthday if the physical copy was not so expensive. I do not want to read a kindle copy of this one and so I am waiting for the book to be cheaper. So I would really love if it my Santa brings this one for Christmas.
  2. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes : After reading Me Before You, it is inevitable that I will want to read all the books by Jojo Moyes. My interest was more quipped when I read the short novella as a prologue to this one called Honeymoon in Paris.
  3. Night Film by Marisha Pessl : I heard so many good things about this book that I really want to read this.
  4. Charlotte’s Web by E B White: Dear Santa, I want an illustrated copy of this book if you can indulge me :)
  5. The Railway Children by E Nesbit: This book caught my attention when I was trying to figure out the 50 books to read for The Classics Club.
  6. Family Life by Akhil Sharma: This is a book with an Indian family setting and has lot of good reviews.
  7. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob: Another book with Indian setting, this book has been on my wish list for few months.
  8. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg: This is the single non-fiction book that I really want to read now, like within a few weeks. I think this book title is self-explanatory and I would like to know what this book has for a working mother like me.
  9. Landline by Rainbow Rowell: At a point of time, this was the only book to be seen and read around the blogosphere. So it is natural that I want to know what the hype is all about.
  10. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton : Another book which caught my attention while browsing through endless blogs and goodreads.
21 Dec

Sherlock Holmes (Graphic Novel) – The Hound of Baskervilles

This was another graphic novel experience for me. I liked this one quite a bit and I should say that I am hooked to graphic novels.

There is a point that I am utterly choosy about books these days, so the same is going to happen about this genre too. I am happy I have explored comic/graphic novels and have come out of the comfort zone of asterix/calvin books.

About this book- I do wish that the illustrator had added a few more shades of B & W to all the pictures. Do you think Sherlock’s coat could have more shades than just lines? I thought there was some potential in that though I am not sure if I will actual like it better in that way.

I don’t have to write anything about the story itself; this could be the most famous of all the Sherlock Holmes titles. This is a good start for all those kids who are ready to be initiated into the world of Sherlock Holmes. I hope the kids of this generation get to read the original stories before they watch all those different series that are run on TV and of course the movies too. There is nothing wrong with them, but they are so different from the original.

There are quite a few number of Dover Graphic Novel Classics that has come out recently. This could be a good way to read few Classics as they take far less time to read than actual books.

Source: eARC from Netgalley
Publisher: Dover Publications
Pub Date: Nov 19 2014