Saturday, January 14, 2017

2016 Flashback

            As we step in New Year, we generally have expectations of what new year will bring for us. But it is also necessary to rewind to the past year and see what we learnt from our experiences.

           2016 was an eventful year for me. Many happy and unhappy instances occured and each taught me a lesson of its own. Someone had said ‘we learn from our mistakes’, but I prefer to say we learn from each incidence which leaves an impact on our mind; be it a happy successful one or be it a mistake.

Flashback 2016





            January 2016 started with a bang with me being announced as one of the winners for HT Brunch #BrunchBookChallenge 2015. It was my first year of participation, wherein we had to read 34 books in a year and I had managed to read 36.

My prize for winning #BrunchBookChallenge


            I always loved to read books, but it was last year that I started posting my reviews for The Book Club. And… I won my first gift voucher for Sundari Venkatraman’s The Madras Affair contest. Reviewing books helped me read and understand the essence of a particular book and what the author wants to convey through his/her writing.

            February and March saw lots of health issues regarding me and Prerna as she was admitted in hospital for high fever and vomiting. Same day evening I had a great fall in the hospital and I, being me, ignored the pain as a sprain, which after 3 weeks of neglect turned out to be two hairline fractures. (1st time I was in plaster… 2016 was a year of many firsts for me.)

            With Prerna’s health and my fracture, my baking and chocolate making took a back seat due to which had to give away some of the materials and incur loses. L As this continued for next couple of months it led me to the dreaded D-word – depression. Had a tough time in those months dealing with things and becoming normal.

            April end did bring some respite as I got to visit me birth place Dombivali where I met couple of my school mates and my school bestie after may be a decade. Visiting school and the area where I resided was like childhood revisited.


Childhood Revisted

            Around the same time a blogger friend called up to say she needs a video of mine with Prerna for a mother’s day campaign. I was a nervous wreck. I have never faced a camera before and Prerna was camera conscious. Finally with help and encouragement of couple of friends I got the video ready and sent it to her. 2 days later again she called to say the brand liked the video snippet and now they want me in a video shoot for the social media along with couple of other mommy bloggers…Me in a video…UNBELIEVABLE!!! I have a really big big big phobia of being in front of camera and so I was unsure of this. When I spoke to my parents, they said “God is giving you an opportunity, grab it with both hands. Go for it." 



            So on the D-day I set out with butterflies in stomach and head buzzing with excitement. When I reached the studio I met Kim and Kejal, mommy bloggers and my soul sister Janaki. The whole day passed uneventful with loads of masti and bonding. Finally when the shoot wrapped up in evening, though we were exhausted but we were happy. This made May memorable.







            After 3 days when we saw the video I had tears in my eyes as it was so emotional. Thank you, Anusree and Ronald, for making this day a memorable day of my life.





           Next couple of months were bit hectic, dealing with Prerna’s changing hormones, mood swings and me getting used to her tantrums and all. In June received another setback with my health as continuous back and shoulder pain along with migraine and dizziness was diagnosed as slip disc. What followed next were sessions of physiotherapy and no stress and strain. Felt so dependent and handicap as for some time I was advised not to lift even Prerna. But I also met some awesome people in June. These personalities, with whom I had always interacted online, have read their books, their articles, their reviews but never had a chance to meet them in person. Who are they you may ask??? Well they are the awesome admins, authors and reviewers of The Book Club; Rubina, Nilima, Paromita, Sundari, Ashwini, Sunita and many more amongst others. Meeting them all in person and interacting with them was an awesome experience.



The Book Club Team

            In July, I got my 1st big win… won a kindle for reviewing Nilesh Rathod’s The Shattered Dreams. Also in July attended a workshop conducted by Allure Chocolates on coverture chocolates or Belgian chocolates. It was an informative workshop which gave me lots of ideas and knowledge.

Workshop by Allure Chocolates
       
     Come September, (as nothing worth mentioning happened in August, I skip that month), the birthday month of my not-so-little princess. Prerna completed 12 years. (Why do girls grow up so soon???)Since it was her 12th birthday I wanted to bake something special for her. Also wanted to try a couple of things which was on my to-do list. So made a doll cake with chocolate sponge and strawberry buttercream with edible chocolate candles filled with kesar pista filling (slurp) and for her friends at clinic made a checkerboard cake with coverture dark chocolate ganache. I did try leopard print on 2nd cake but it didn’t turn out that well but happy that I tried something new and it was well appreciated and it tasted yummy.


My 1st Doll Cake



            October is Diwali time. After attending the workshop in July tried my hands on Belgian chocolate for 1st time with three different soft center fillings and it was a hit… yipeeee…..



            November, another firsts… took courage and tried making a choco mousse cake and to my surprise it turned out delicious at first attempt. Also received my most awaited prize… My Kindle…



Mera wala Kindle :) 





1st Choco Mousse cake


           Another feather in hat was Chocodisiac became the official favourite choice of authors of The Book Club as the best Giveaway prize for their winners :) 



          Lastly comes month of December, last month of the year; wherein we all wait for Christmas and the current year to end.  I had won the blog tour of Paromita’s Shamsuddin’s Grave and the prize was a guest post for the author’s blog along with a gift voucher. Paromita sent me her questionnaire and lo, my 1st interview, my 1st blog post… what more can I ask. (Read here) What a fantabulous end to the eventful year. Also amongst all this mayhem I did manage to read 37 books for #BrunchBookChallenge this year.

            2016 was a mixed year for me; professionally it was ok and on personal front though health issues were main concern but still I manage to swim through it.

            So what did 2016 teach me? Well I did learn lots from the past year incidences. Initially I used to get upset whenever I used to see pictures posted by other bakers of their art. But then someone did speak out to me, What do you really want to do in life? It actually set me thinking and was an eye opener for me. I did have an heart-to-heart chat with….. ME.

            And I made peace with myself that even though I LOVE baking and doing stuff I do have my limitations; with Prerna and my health issues I can’t be a full time home-baker. So now I don’t feel bad when for days I don’t get bake orders. Instead I utilize my time for my spoilt teen and reading and learning new skills and improving my knowledge and admire works of skilled bakers on guild.




            Personally I have to let go my past and hurt deeply embedded in heart (which is little difficult) and look ahead. Acceptance plays an important role in bringing up Prerna. Though she is a differently abled child, her physical development will be normal, it's not going to stop or slow down. Initially I was scared just by its thought. But then I accepted that her development is a natural phenomenon, though reluctantly, I did accept it and then it did become little easy for me to face it.

            Previously, people used to say, it's difficult to raise a girl with special needs, as they grow older. I knew it is going to, but a recent chat with two of my friends who have boys going through this difficult stage and also with Prerna’s therapist made me realize; handling girls is easy than handling boys. Though both have their own and different set of issues and problems.

            Last but not the least; I learnt an important lesson towards end of the year not all who show as your friends are what they really show they are. Some are interested to know your issues not because they care for you or are concerned. They just want to know how much deep you are in troubled waters so that they can attack you when the time is right to strike, when you are weak and vulnerable. So choose your friends wisely. Instead of having hundreds of people whom I call as friends, I prefer to have a select few who will stand by me against hundreds if time comes.



Goals for 2017…




            Well, foremost top on my list is to recover from the damage done to my health by taking little care of myself because health is wealth and if health is good we can even climb Mt. Everest…

            To read atleast 40 books this year, even though target for #BrunchBookChallenge is 36 I am testing myself.

            As far as baking is concerned, well my bucket list for this is very long one… hope to tick off one item every month. I will keep updating about it on my Chocodisiac page as and when I accomplish it. {Fingers crossed}.

            I hope I have not bitten off more than I can chew. Time will tel.

            Till then folks, have a great rocking year 2017 and keep reading, commenting, sharing and supporting me as you have done since past 5 years.

            Enjoy… Love you all.


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Friday, January 13, 2017

Spotlight-Priyank's God & his Girfriend



Name of the book: God & His Girlfriend
Author: Priyank
Read some reviews:

1. Bani Jain
2. Alisha Patel 
3. Kapil Awasthi 

The Story:


Have you ever met a pretty girl in a suspicious condition with blood stained hands lying in a hotel room where you are staying in? 

Can a love story see its acceptance in the Indian society when the boy is from slums and the girl is born in a rich family? 

How many of you have met those girls who were molested by their known ones when they had not even crossed the age of 14? Isn’t forced and unwilling sex after marriage similar to a rape? 

Whether the prayers offered in love strong enough to bring back someone’s lost beloved from PoK? 

How many of you know a person whose deeds are completely ideal, something which only a God can do? 

Whether religion, caste or community should really be a parameter in deciding the hierarchy and dominance of people living in this world? 

God and his girl-friend is a mercurial story about two youngsters, from entirely different backgrounds who strive hard against their comfort to live with their passion. A boy from the slums and a girl from a rich lavishing family set out on an embarking journey to touch the moon. This takes them through many tests, eventually tying them up in love, followed by an unforgettable service to the nation as true stalwart patriots.





You can buy the book @

About The Author 


‘The HINDU’ calls Priyank’s books, which has stories inspired from real life to be perfect in portraying the power of love.

Bollywood film maker Imtiyaz Ali conveyed his words to Priyank at a literary event in Delhi that he could see Priyank emerging out as a potential story writer from his city Jamshedpur.

Priyank is an author, a start up lover cum aspiring entrepreneur, a story teller and a motivational speaker. He is a gold medal winner in creative writing at the National level. He was named as the Best Debut Author of 2014 by Aagman Literary Organization, a Delhi based literary and cultural house for his novel ” I am dead but my heart beats. ”

He completed his Engineering from BIT Sindri, Dhanbad in 2015. He has delivered story telling sessions and motivational talks across many organizations in a short span of one and half year. He is the founder of Embellish India, a start-up he kicked off while in college. Currently, he works for a Delhi based funded start up after resigning from his first MNC job at TCS.

Born in Amethi (Uttar Pradesh) on 29th October, in a Maithil Brahmin family and brought up in Ghatsila (a small town near Steel city Jamshedpur in Jharkhand), Priyank’s dream is to bring changes in the country and make it a better place to live in. Writing was never his passion nor his goal. It happened to him by chance, by destiny, in an attempt to fulfill someone’s dream. He loves cricket, travelling, sleeping and trying out new delicacies.


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Book Review-Soulless by M V Kasi




SOULLESS
by
M.V.Kasi




Blurb

They say when you take revenge you lose a part of your soul. 

But Sia hadn't felt her soul in a very long time. She only knew the soul-crushing fear and helplessness. Especially during the nights, when she fought an invisible enemy that terrorized her during the nightmares. 

Her days weren't any better either. She spent most of them trying to desperately gain control of her life while battling her various fears and addictions. 

She was only twenty three, but she had resigned herself to live the rest of her life that way. Fearing the unknown. 

Until it all changed one day. 

Now she knew. She knew that the monster from her nightmares was real. And also that her soul had been ripped apart from her. 

The memories had brought in fear, rage and pain, along with a strong craving for a swift payback. 

But revenge was a dish best served cold. And it required a complete absence of emotion. 
So now? 

Now she plotted. And she schemed. She prepared herself in every possible way to hunt and destroy her enemy. 

But every mission, however well planned can go awry. Sometimes it's because even though one can be soulless, there is always the heart. A very weak and desperate heart that was being stolen by a man. 

A man who was like a bright spark of vivid colors in her otherwise dark and dreary life. 
A man...who was only supposed to be collateral damage. 




Read an excerpt from #Soulless

"Need help holding the bag still?" a deep voice asked from behind her.
Sia yelped in surprise, hitting the kick-boxing bag accidentally, and had to jerk back, away from the heavy swinging bag. Her sudden movement dropped her phone from her hands onto the gym floor. She could see half a dozen pieces of what used to be her phone scattered around.
Shit. Most of her contacts were stored in that phone. Now she'd have to waste at least a couple of hours to buy a new one and retrieve her contacts list. But she had bigger worries, and a more immediate danger.
On instinct, she widened her stance, ready to swing around and kick the intruder in his face, either to dislocate his jaw or at least break his damn nose.
"Whoa, whoa, easy lady," said a laughing man's voice, moving away from her swing.
As soon as she turned around, the air left with a whoosh from her lungs. And it wasn't because of her move. It was because of the face in front of her.
She kept staring at the amused boyish grin with twin dimples on the man's face.
"That looks like one hell of a fall," he said as he looked down at her broken phone.
Sia didn't even bat an eyelid when the man knelt down and picked up the pieces.
"I think I can salvage this," he murmured, and began to work on fixing her phone.
His eyes were focused on the job at hand and he had an intense look of concentration as he worked over her phone. Sia realized that she was gawking at a complete stranger like an idiot instead of demanding her personal property back.
"Wait, you don't have to..." Her damn voice was soft and whispery as it drifted off.
The man looked up briefly at her and smiled.
That little stretch of his mouth muscles was causing havoc to her insides. And it wasn't because of the panic she usually felt, it was because of the beautiful face in front of her. And it was having a strange effect on her.
What the hell was happening?
Her usual cold and aloof protective barrier was having a tough time emerging. Maybe because she felt a false sense of security around him, due to his blindingly good looks combined with the boy-next-door smile. But she wasn't the type of woman who usually got affected by some pretty boy's face. Then what the hell was so damn special about him?
It didn't make any sense. He was just a guy. Weren't they all the same? Yet somehow she felt a strange sense of connection with him. Especially with his smile.
You are just horny. You are a twenty four year old with a good imagination and a healthy sex drive. Yes. That must be it, she rationalized, looking at his ripped body that was barely concealed in his work-out shorts. He definitely must be one of the personal trainers at the gym. Maybe used to attract the female clients with his smile and body.
"Like what you see?" he asked, without raising his head. He was still working intently on her phone, but had a small smirk on his face.
At his teasing remark, she snapped out of whatever thing had possessed her.
What the hell was she doing? She asked herself again.
He's just a good looking guy, and she's seen, and also been with several guys who were similarly good looking.
"I think I can fix my phone by myself," she said coolly, extending her hand as irritation slowly crept into her.
"I'm almost done. This is a newer model, so there are smaller parts that need to be placed in the right sequence. And besides, I caused you to drop it in the first place," he said.
"True. But you have already done enough damage. Maybe next time, you should stop and think before sneaking up on the gym members, during the early hours of the morning."
At her stern set down, he stopped what he was doing to glance at her.
His eyes blazed as he looked at her face, and then slowly, and unashamedly, he dragged his eyes down the length of her body, lingering on her toned arms and legs.
Instead of being offended, she felt his gaze ignite something. Soon, a warning siren went off in her head as images of them spending a dirty night ran in her mind.
Sia recoiled mentally from those images. She had stopped having random meaningless sex almost a year ago. And more recently, she had promised herself, she would not be distracted from her mission because of anything or anyone.
But right then, staring at the beautiful man with a sweet, melting smile, and a contradictory brazen look, she was ready to jump on him on the gym floor, and take what her body wanted from him.
Before she pounced on a complete stranger, Sia grabbed her phone from his hand, and took a few steps away from him to give herself some space. She subtly took some deep breaths to calm down even as his eyes continued to assess her.
When his eyes met hers, he smiled again. "By the way I'm Ajay, and you are...?"
Before she could reply another man's voice interrupted them. "Good morning, Ajay. How have you been bro?"
 A brief look of irritation passed on Ajay's face, but he turned and smiled openly at the guy who joined them.
"I'm doing great Ravi. It's been a while, and quite a set up you have here..."
Before he could finish catching up with the other guy, Sia began walking out from there. After collecting her water bottle and work-out towel, she moved towards the stairs, and glanced back briefly towards him.
He was still talking to the other man, but his eyes were on her, laughing at her in amusement. As though he knew she was running away because of him.
Dammit.




My Honest Review :

           Child abuse is one of the most common types of abuse all over the world. Often such kid’s complain and pleas are ignored by their parents and guardians thinking that they are cooking up stories, thus making such kids suffer in silence. Result, it affects them so much that it breaks their confidence and in some cases their psyche is damaged beyond repair. In most of the cases children are abused by someone close and known to them. It's either a family member or someone known to family and child, whom usually no one suspects or doubts, and therefore they escape from being caught and/or punished for their misdeeds.

            M V Kasi, in her book Soulless has dealt with this issue in a very brilliant manner.

            What happens when a nine-year girl, who has lost her parents at such a young age, is subjected to physical abuse for one year by a person whom she trusts and thinks to be a good person???
        
           The abuse continues till a Good Samaritan rescues her by staging her false death and tucks her safely in an orphanage. Luckily she is adopted by a lady and is flown to Boston.
          
         But what affect did the abuse have on her? Her soul is damaged and her memory blocks the instances of those dreadful things which she had to go through. The innocent girl has turned into a reckless girl hell-bent on wrecking her life with her wayward ways; thus bringing disappointment for her adopted mother.

But does Sia succeed in wrecking her life or she is successfully takes revenge from people responsible for her state??

Awesome story, liked the way the author has weaved the plot from past to present. Use of simple language, not too many characters are introduced or added. The manner in which Sia’s past is revealed to the reader is really commendable. Can’t wait to read what happens next in Ajay’s and Sia’s life in Ruthless. Does she get successful in avenging revenge from her uncle or she herself becomes an victim, again?


Hats off to the author for writing on such sensitive issue of child abuse. The manner in which Sia’s abuse turned her into what she became is well described. Must read if you like romance, little bit of mystery and suspense.  


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About the author


By day, MV Kasi works for a software company. She currently lives in Hyderabad, India with her husband and son.

By night, she gives in to her fascination to explore the human psychology and the various facets of life in her writing. She has particular fascination with successful people who are not considered 'normal' by society's standards.

Her love for reading has led her to start writing on her own. She likes to add depth to her characters and explore their psychological motivations. Due to the nature of topics and plots, she does not shy away from writing about sexuality or violence. Despite covering some heavy topics, she likes to infuse humor into her writing.



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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Review-The Evil Twin by P G Van



THE EVIL TWIN?
by
P.G. Van


Blurb


Vinnie lost her parents when she was ten and lives in San Francisco with her aunt and her teenage cousin. She never expected a simple act of kindness would be life altering. Reyan comes into her life threatening to shake up her focus and challenges her resolve. He is everything Vinnie wants in a man and he shows up just when she thought she had everything she needed to stay focused on her life and her goals. 

Will he crack her titanium tough exterior and get to her heart? Will she let him into her life especially with what she has been through since she was ten? Will she trust Reyan to help her recover from her emotional wounds? 

Will she get to the bottom of why people think they have seen her at places that she has never been to before. Does she have a doppleganger or a twin? 

Follow Vinnie's and Reyan's love story as she learns the true meaning of love, trust and family.


            

My Honest Review:

                      The Evil Twin by author P G Van is mix of erotica, mystery, romance, relations and friendship, all mixed in one book.

                       When I started reading the book, I thought it to be the usual romantic kind of story, but as the story moved ahead I just couldn’t stop till I finished it. One would think it would be a story of twins got separated or one child would be the good child and other the bad one, as the title might suggest. But I was wrong; this story is none of the above.

                       The portraying of the characters is strong and well etched. The story starts with as road accident and then follows a romantic lead with hints of mystery, dash of erotica and undertones of relationships and friendship. What got me hooked was the way the story is weaved by the author, no loose ends and no unnecessary introduction of the characters.


                       The end part of the story is unexpected and unique. The manner in which the author had introduced twists and turns keeps the reader guessing and hooked. The book cover is sensational and language simple. As the author has used first person narration to narrate the story, it makes the book an interesting read. Title, well the title did confuse me while reading but as a reader proceeds, he/she will understand why it's titled The Evil Twin

Grab the book @

Amazon India | Amazon USA

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About the author

P.G. Van


P.G. Van lives in San Francisco and she published her first novel, Destiny Decides… in October 2015 and cannot stop writing. She loves to spend time with family and is a strong believer of retail therapy (mostly shops for boots and purses!!). She enjoys giving her readers an escape to the world of love and romance.


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