It is definitely looking a lot like

Christmas! ūüėČ

christmas1.JPG

 

When I woke up today all grumpy because of my cold, cough, and body pain, I didn’t think that my spirits will be lifted by some snow (how ironic). I literally jumped up and down with glee. This is the scene just outside my window. It can not get better than this ūüôā

A Yearly Round Up

A round up of this year’s activities in my blog, because I did a lot than the previous year and I am really glad about it. In fact there are a few more friends of mine who know about this blog than last year and for me that isn’t a small thing. I still don’t want it to be known to my colleagues though. I am still not comfortable revealing my real name, which I sometimes feel that I should do, but I haven’t reached there yet. I am still content with my mask on and the real me is more boring than the virtual me.

So here we go.

I started¬†participating in Steve’s Music Mix / Cosmic Musicology as it is called now, from Feb 03, 2014. Here is my first post. Since then I am a regular for that game. I listen to enough music to play and to use the songs as answers. Just check it out. Its real fun and you are most welcome to join. Thanks Steve for that brilliant idea and I am really sorry I still couldn’t get some good questions for that game.

Started participating in the Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, hosted by Linda, from Mar, 1, 2014 and have continued since then, because it is pure fun and its interesting to see how different people interpret the same prompt and also how people from different parts of the world think and post alike for a given prompt. I am no writer, but am glad to take part in this prompt. Thanks Linda for this wonderful idea and hope to have the same fun in 2015 too. She is also starting a Just Jot It January, if anyone is interested. I am planning to take part, but am not very sure.

Did two mini series this year on my own, just for the heck of it ūüôā One was about the way I got introduced to various genres of the books (which still needs a lot to be covered, but then didn’t want it to be too long a series) and was named Portable Magic¬†and the other one was about my love for beaches and about the various beaches I have been to and my jog through the memory lane which was called¬†Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses.

I did cross 1000 followers this year, Yay!!! and started following some awesome bloggers too. I follow some on Bloglovin’¬†too. As usual the top 5 posts are related to the Weekly Photography Challenge but this year, the ‘Minimalist‘ Photographs I posted, scored me a lot of comments. I was very happy to see that my favorite photograph was appreciated by all. ‘Baralikadu‘ still seems to be the top search term in my blog (guess no one else wrote about that small quaint eco tourism place) which is followed if not closely by ‘beer shampoo‘ (urgh, I still feel the smell of it) and Chotta Bheem (I ain’t fond of him and his group, even now)

So that is it. I am sure I might have missed a few details here and there, but these are the big ones. Its been an awesome and fun year with respect to blogging and wish the same for 2015 too.

 

Portable Magic – Romance, Historically

It wasn’t until last year that I picked up my first Historical Romance written in the current times (that is to say ‘other than all the Jane Austen novels’). I had moved to a new city and had been assigned a new project which took all my holidays and weekends and I desperately need a break from it every day. And what better to pick up a light romance in those times which has an happy ending. And guess what, I picked one, and then next from the same author in the same series and before I knew it, I completed all the books from the same author. It was one of my earlier blogs.¬†Project Lisa Kleypas: That is my post on all the books from that author, even though it did have a few contemporary romance also in the list. I sort of liked that era (won’t be so keen to travel back in time to live there…all that tight fitting clothes and too much elegance, the pressure to behave very lady like…nah!!! not my cup of tea). It was fun to read all the hierarchy, Counts, Viscount, Lords, Barons and their relative feminine versions. Of course I can’t tell you exactly who came after who in the power hierarchy if you ask me. But for a new comer on historical romances, it sure was very interesting. Because we don’t have all those kind of clothing here. Might actually suffocate us in this heat here.¬†We did get a few passed on when we were ruled, but again if they don’t support this weather it cannot survive. ¬†

After some time again I picked up the series by another author Julia Quinn. It wasn’t planned, but again I sort of completed her books too. The post is :¬†Julia Quinn Series¬†But the best of the lot till now is the Bridgerton Series.¬†Boy, I just love that series. It was hilarious. I¬†really laugh out loud when I feel like it. So sitting in the single room in my Guest house, reading these novels and laughing out loud in many places, I know I would have come across as a manic person to the rest of them in the flat. No wonder people stood a good foot away from me every time I went to get my food down. What would you do , if you are in the middle of a romantic situation and you feel all that love flowing around and suddenly you read something like this.¬†

‚ÄúAnd, she was able to tell herself with some satisfaction, the man in question ‚Äď one Colin Bridgerton ‚Äď felt precisely the same way‚Ķ.
….His earth shook, his heart leaped, and Penelope knew without a doubt that his breath was taken away as well. For a good ten seconds.
Falling off a horse tended to do that to a man.‚ÄĚ

or

‚ÄúI‚Äôm not certain you‚Äôd know the right sort of man for you if he arrived on our doorstep riding an elephant.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI would think the elephant would be a fairly good indication that I ought to look elsewhere.‚ÄĚ

I know it is cheeky and many may consider it really a stupid dialogue, but I love these kind of lines. Takes the pressure away from that incredibly intense romantic situation. And I love to laugh at very unexpected situations, trust me, I have some very very embarrassing moments to my account. That series (Bridgerton Series) is by far the best one I have read so far. I especially love Mrs D in that. That old lady with the witty tongue and a cane makes me want to hug her as much as I would be afraid of her, if she were real. And since it is all about siblings and family it was a bonus for me.  And even though I have read a lot of other historical romances whenever I felt the need for them, but these three in the list remain my ever favorite. 

Portable Magic – Psychology and Philosophy

I tend to ask a lot of questions when I am in a right (or wrong, depends on how you see it) frame of mind. I have this friend of mine who used to talk to me about philosophy and thank God, he used to keep it simple for my understanding. It might seem to others that I argue with him a lot, but its more for my benefit of understanding rather than anything else. So this guy told me once to check out¬†Fyodor Dostoyevsky and promptly left the company to pursue his dreams. After a long time (almost a year or so later) I picked up this book ‘Crime and Punishment‘ in a deal that was going on in the book store. It was quite big for my comfort and I am always vary of Russian Literature. Don’t they tend to be sad, melancholic in nature ? Or at least that is what I have heard. At the end of this book, I felt like I did a Ph.D in Philosophy & Psychology. It was that intense for me. And you know what, this is the first book where I started taking notes. I usually don’t do this, but this book made me mark some line with pencil and write some lines whenever I felt something click. That book is with my friend now (and if you are by any chance reading this, you have yet to return me that book and yes I still have one book of yours to complete ūüôā ). But this book drained all my brain energy that I was left feeling both empty and full. A very very nice book.¬†To rewrite what I had earlier written in my original review of this book in my other blog.
“The interesting part of the novel is that you already know Raskolnikov killed this old lady even almost at the beginning. So the ‘Crime’ part of the novel happens much earlier in the literary sense of the word. But slowly as and when the story progresses, other versions of ‘Crime[s]’ come to the fore and these ‘Crime[s]’ are not done by the protagonist at all. There in comes a whole lot of characters like Razumikhin, his Sister, the lawyer, etc etc… The way the characters are interwoven, and have their own place in his life journey… it is really interesting….In certain places, yeah, its true that your patience might be tried a little bit, but if you get over it, then again its a amazing journey. In Part 4 there is a place where Razumikhin explains the character of Raskolnikov, it was awesome. And that too to his(Raskolnikov’s) own Sister :)…..
….
Part 6 Chapter 4:
Nothing in the world is harder than speaking the truth and nothing easier than flattery.
If there’s the hundreth part of a false note in speaking the truth, it leads to a discord, and that leads to trouble.
Part 6 Chapter 5:
…..that a great many men of genius have not hesitated at wrongdoing, but have overstepped the law without thinking about it.

I also tried Idiot by the same author, but wasn’t that impressed. I am yet to read Brother’s Karamazov which my friend says is ¬†sort of an epic. I have that book too but yet to read it. I was mildly surprised that such intense philosophical novels can interest me. So I wanted to try some other author and I picked up ‘The Interpretation of Murder‘ in Dubai airport for a read in the flight. But when I started I knew it would take time so I postponed it¬†to read it during my official visit to California. And the first week of my stay there, when I had so much of meetings to attend, I came back to my hotel to spend my nights with this book. It had psychology , mystery, philosophy everything. I just loved it. And then later, I picked up ‘When Nietzsche Weptwhich even though I was a little skeptical at first, caught me in its hooks slowly and I just couldn’t let it go. Its all about two people talking to each other almost through out the book. No physical action, except the action of their words and imagination. Everything happens within the confines of the mind. Again to rewrite my view on this book from my other blog
If you have already read this novel, you would know why I liked it. It was like being in the analysis sessions between Nietzsche and Breuer even without them knowing my presence. That is how I visualized it, or rather this novel made me visualize it. It makes you a viewer and in sorts, a participant of the process. You might also wonder if any of those questions or conversations were applicable to you? Now that I am done reading it, my head is heavy with so many thoughts and questions. Yet this book gave me a relief in one way. It confirmed my reasoning of a thought I had been having for some time now and that I should give it up *now*. It was interesting and comforting too.
…..
It also shows how interesting human minds can be and how it can also be manipulated to believe or not to believe. The intricate working of the minds, the effect of the mind on the body and vice versa.. Its so so interesting. I guess I can read about it all through my life time and would still be surprised.. 
 
I have read quite a few others too like ‘The Alchemist‘, but these three stand apart from my small list. I remember the stories and their impact on me when I completed them. I realized that when told in a certain way, even tough subjects (for me) like Philosophy and Psychology can be very very interesting. And if they come with a story …. well, what can I say, its like icing on the cake.

Portable Magic – That (Twi)Light that shone bright…once

Yesterday’s post on my introduction to Fantasy was a little too intense for me, so I thought I will remember something that is light today, even though I wanted to write about¬†some other genre that I was introduced, but thought of postponing it for a day or two.

One day, I was there in my Uncle’s house (who is also a book fanatic and he has encouraged his daughter to read , a lot) and his daughter had this book called ‘Twilight‘. Have you seen the cover of that book? It is so intriguing, well, as intriguing as an apple can be. But still, the blurb was something that interested me. I have not read any paranormal romance till then. Classical Romance with Mr Darcy, well, that is the ever lasting thing right. And it is slow, steady, dreamy etc etc. ¬†And there is no doubt that as a woman I love ‘Pride & Prejudice’. ¬†That was between humans: heads butting, witty comments flowing, regrets and make ups and all that. But what¬†romance can be there between a vampire and a human? Will that be any good ? ¬†Never get me curious about anything. My head spins till I at least know a little about it. So I borrowed that book from her. She was obviously a teenager and she had already moved on to other books (she is also a Jeffery Archer fan, hard core).

I should say, I was in for a surprise. OK, yes, Edward was the epitome of ‘The perfect¬†boyfriend¬†Vampire boyfriend’. And this girl Bella, in her prime teen is head over heels in love with a Vampire. I know my niece (uncle’s daughter) was going gaga over Edward when I told her that he was too good. But honestly, if that was a real life situation, I may not be screaming my head off running in the opposite direction, but I would know, that for all practical purposes, it is really a bad idea to fall in love with a vampire. And I know love can be blind sometimes, really. I have been there , done that. But even then I ain’t that stupid. But then why does Bella’s love for this vampire enamor me ? Because it’s someone else’s story and more over it is a fantasy and a fiction.¬†That surrealism was what hooked me to this book. The fact that a paranormal creature like a Vampire or a WereWolf can fall head over heels with a human and that the human can reciprocate it, and that love is¬†transcendent…what is there not to like.

If you ask me, I thought Bella was very irritating, may be because I did not remember being ‘that’ 16 year old. May be because I did not get to read¬†a story like Twilight in my teen times so as to have an Edward to dream of. Jealous much? May be a little. So once I got this one completed, I got the other books along with this book for myself. Yeah, I have those books with me. These books gave me a rush. All that romance, the angst, the fights, the werewolves, the vampires, the love, the lust – well, as a 30+ year old I was like ‘wow!!! are these for real?’ And yes, I promptly passed it on to my friends, who for some reason liked it. Thank God, I wasn’t alone in this insanity ūüėČ But again, I felt that only the first book was good and very captivating. The rest were very average. And please don’t even talk to me about these movies. I simply hate them.

If the book is good, I have this habit of conjuring images of those involved in my mind and associating them with voices. That is the main reason I don’t go for audio books. I don’t want anyone corrupting that. And I had this lovely image of Edward and , for some damn reason, Bella too in my mind. But the movies spoiled it for me. Who on earth thought of putting that guy Robert Pattinson for that role and why doesn’t a vampire have a fang. That is their specialty for god’s sake. And the twinkling diamonds….OK, I am not discussing those movies. Gets me all riled up. Coming back to the books. One of my friend who hasn’t read the book watched the movie and was like, ‘ what kind of crap is that ? ‘ He was going on and on about how pathetic all the movies in the series were. I told him ‘that he was¬†judging a series by the movies and those movies were one of the worst adapted series ever I have seen’. He was like ‘You like Twilight series, are you insane ? I thought you were smarter than that’. OK, that did it. You have no idea, how many times we have fought over this series. I know these guys who fight with me over this series are secretly hating Edward because all women go gaga over him. Because it was one woman’s fantasy of her perfect guy. What these guys don’t understand is that it is just that. It is a fantasy.¬†What is wrong with that ? What is wrong is to expect your man to be that perfect. To bring that fantasy into our real lives, that is what is messed up. Not all women like Twilight. I know quite a few who hate that series. But it also¬†doesn’t mean who read it are stupid.¬†I don’t like all the books, but that doesn’t stop me from reading it and completing that series. ¬†They can’t digest that I can like ‘Crime and Punishment’ as well as ‘Twilight’.¬†But sadly, that is the only paranormal fantasy romance I have ever read. I haven’t tried any other paranormal romance yet.¬†Because most of them are a series and I don’t think I can handle that. Romance is good. Paranormal is intriguing. Paranormal romance is¬†bewitching but I think that it will be a one time affair for me.