Friday, March 6, 2015

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Holi is an ancient festival celebrated in India since generations. Also called the festival of colours, Holi is celebrated on the full-moon (purnima) day in March or Phalgun season. After Holi, the winter ends and the spring season starts. So this festival also marks the starting of Spring.

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People rejoice by making tasty delicacies, playing with colours with their loved ones and there is a general atmosphere of merriment all around. "Holika Dahan" is also an important part of the Holi festival in which people pray for happiness and the general well-being of their family by lighting a bonfire. This bonfire also signifies the win of good over evil.

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The story behind the ritual of "Holika Dahan" is that there once lived a King named Hiranyakashyap who was very powerful and ruled the earth. Apart from being very powerful, he was also egoistic and thought himself to be God. People feared him and in fear gave him the standing of God which made him happy. But his only son, Prahlad refused to give his father the same standing as God. Angered by his refusal and even more angered by his utter devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashyap decided to kill him to show him that Lord Vishnu had no power in his kingdom and so could not save him but Prahlad stayed confident that he would be saved by God Vishnu and that nothing could kill him while he remained faithful to his God.

Hiranyakashyap tried to kill him in many ways. He tried to drown him but could not. Then he made him enter in a vessel full of hot oil but yet again, Prahlad remained unscathed even after entering the scalding hot oil vessel. Finally, he sought his sister Holika who had the boon of never getting burnt from Lord Brahma and so could not die from fire. Holika sat down with Prahlad in her lap and asked her brother to light her up, hoping to end Prahlad with fire but when the fire was lit, it burned and killed Holika instead of Prahlad who remained safe.

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This was the ultimate proof of Prahlad's devotion and the power of his goodness against Holika's evil and arrogance. Even the boon could not save her. This defeat of evil is re-enacted each year and people celebrate the power of good over evil.

In some parts, the bonfire also signifies the worship of Fire itself where the new harvest is offered to the fire and blessings for a good and prosperous year ahead is seeked.

The common delicacies made during this festival season include Gujiya, thandai, bhang, dahi bhalle and malpua. All kinds of food is prepared on this day to celebrate and rejoice with friends and family.
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Today is Holi and I hope you are having a great time with your family and friends. 

Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff wishes you a very Happy Holi...Have fun and enjoy! :)

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Welcome to my tour stop for Langston's Daughters by Juliette Harper. This is an adult contemporary mystery that is also very focused on family, small town and ranch life as well as some clean romance. This is the first in the series. It is appropriate for ages 16+.
The tour runs Feb. 23- March 6 with reviews, author interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for more information.

About the Book:

LL1EbookCover Langston's Daughters (The Lockwood Legacy #1) by Juliette Harper
 Kate, Jenny, and Mandy. Langston Lockwood’s daughters. His tyranny drove them away. His suicide draws them home. They inherit his land, his millions, and his mysteries. Meet the women of the Rocking L and the men who come into their lives. Together, they begin the journey to discover the truth about The Lockwood Legacy. From the pain of the past they find the strength to build a dynasty.

Book Review:
Langston's Daughters first attracted me when I saw the cover with its beautiful background and a mysterious woman who is facing the other side. Then when I read the blurb, I knew I had to read the book!

Juliette Harper is a new author for me so I started out with the book not having any previous impressions about the author. The book narrates the story of three sisters who are back home after their tyrannical father commits suicide. Faced with his unusual last terms, the new responsibilities and the mystery surrounding his death, these three women are faced with choices that will change their lives forever.

I loved the three heroines in this book. They are strong, well fleshed out characters that make an impression on the readers' minds. I loved Kate the most with her responsible nature and her mother like caring attitude towards her other sisters.

The author writes in a simple and engaging manner and brings out vivid images of the open and vast expanses of land, the wild yet breathtaking beauty of Texas and the family drama with suspense, mystery and a little romance, expertly in her book. The story plays out like a movie and had me transported to the world described in the book. The author team is very talented and I will be sure to check out their future work. All the best to them! :)

This was a quick read and though it starts out a bit slow, had me engrossed until the very end. An afternoon was well-spent reading this story and now am eager to read the next book in the series, Baxter's Draw. 4 out of 5 to Langston's Daughters and recommended to everyone. 

I received the book from the authors and the tour organizers and am very thankful to them. The above review is my honest and unbiased opinion and in no way influenced.

Buying Links:

About the Author:

Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of
Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. Like the characters of their debut series, The Lockwood Legacy, Juliette is a merging of their creative energies.

Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan from a long line of hardheaded Scots, knows the world of the Lockwoods like the back of her hand.

“We decided to write under a pen name because neither one of us by ourselves could have created Kate, Jenny, Mandy, and their world,” says Pauletti. “Juliette is a little bit of us both. We want to be her when we grow up.”

“Patti teases me that I just don’t want to own up to writing a book with romance in it,” Williamson adds, “but that’s not true. I like the Lockwood women and the way they tackle everything life throws at them. And before we’re done, they’ll be ducking a lot. I imagine coming into the office every day and saying, ‘Okay Juliette, what’s going to happen now?’ She tells us, and we get it down on paper.”

Reading order of The Lockwood Legacy series:

  Book 1: Langston's Daughters by Juliette Harper
Amazon US | Amazon IN

  Book 2: Baxter's Draw by Juliette Harper
Amazon US | Amazon IN

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Being optimistic is an art and we take optimism from small-small events in our daily lives. I wont say that I have never felt low and discouraged. I have felt all this and more but being pessimistic doesn't help and this was a lesson I learnt from my parents who are always smiling despite the challenges, let downs and difficulties they may face. I take hope from watching the people around me strive on to realize their dreams, the simple pleasures that bring a smile to their faces and the love and care they give each other especially when the times are trying. Reading inspirational stories that talk about people who braved everything to reach their destination is also another way I bring optimism in my life. 

But sometimes all this fails and it is then that I need the support from my loved ones like it happened that day when I was almost on the brink of pessimism and ready to give up on a dream that had been my motivation to work hard ever since my marriage.

I and my husband have been dreaming about buying our own house ever since our marriage four years ago but every time we like a house, the price has us taking a few steps back. After searching for years and still finding our budget lacking, we had started losing hope of ever being able to buy our own home.

With the disheartening realization that we would never be able to afford a decent sized house with our salaries, we were starting to feel very pessimistic and sad until the day my parents came to visit me. I greeted my parents and eventually, we sat down to chat and the topic of house hunting came up.

"I will never be able to buy my own house. I will never be able to earn enough."

 I wailed and went ahead pointing out all the houses I had seen and the ridiculously high prices that had been quoted to me. With no guarantee to keep with the bank to seek a loan, I told them how hopeless I had started feeling and unashamedly cried my eyes out while they sat stunned at my sudden outburst.

My mother patted my head while my father came to sit beside me on the other side and when I subsided with my crying, said, "You will have a house one day. Getting disheartened doesn't help."

My mother spoke up then, "How do you think we bought our home? We also struggled. Your father was just starting out with his job when we got married and within a year we had you. His salary just barely covered our expenses but still we had dreams of owing our own home one day. At that time, the maximum loan that your father could get due to his job with the bank was just a lakh rupees."

"How did you manage to buy a house then?" I asked. My interest had been evoked by now and I wanted to hear how my parents had managed to give me the house where I had grown up and which held a special place in my heart.

"You mother was always optimistic that we would own a house of our own while I always was doubtful if I could manage fulfilling the family's requirements and also pay the loan back with my meager salary if I bought a house. Despite my reservations, when we heard about the new LDA houses launched in Lucknow, your mother managed to convince me to invest in that and the rest is history. As you know, we bought the house that you have lived in all through your childhood."

My father rubbed my hands while he smiled with love in his eyes for his wife.

"Don't think that buying the house was easy for us. It was full of sacrifices, challenges and difficulties and sometimes we regretted our decision to invest everything that we had and more in that house but when we shifted there and saw your excitement and happiness, that was award enough for us to know that we had made the right decision." My mother told me.

"I am so proud you." I cried as I hugged them.

"Did I tell you that you mother even had to pawn her jewellery because we had no money to pay your school fees or buy even the groceries for one time. It was a very hard time and it will be for you too but never give up. Stay strong. Plan properly and you will also have your own home one day."

"Thank you, Papa. Thank you, Ma. You are right. I was stupid to be so pessimistic. Wait till I tell all this to N." I smiled feeling a new hope and optimism. Suddenly I could see all the options I could explore when buying a house.

Seeing their apparent love for each other and the good feeling I was getting, I was happy that they came to visit. Life was suddenly more colourful and the future more promising. This is the power of optimism. It gives us a motivation to be happy, dream and strive towards realizing those dreams.

Now, I am more confident, more optimistic and more patient with my dream of owning a home of my own. With time and careful planning, I will realize this dream but for now, I am happy that my parents stopped me from throwing away this dream while in the throes of negativity. 

I have pledged never to back to being negative and always seek optimism in my life. :)

This post is written as part of #lookup campaign by @housing. Read more about Housing here: 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Title and Author: Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat
No. of Pages: 260 
Publication Date: Rupa & Co; 3rd edition (1 October 2014)
Genre: Romance, Indian Writing
Language: English

Book Review:
Boy meets girl, falls in love with her except she just wants to be friends with him plus they both are from different Indian states. 
Sounds predictable and what with so many stories already focussing on this theme of social, cultural differences among the various states in the culturally varied India with every second person afflicted with a similar case of "I love her/him but she/he doesn't love me", I was reluctant to take up Half Girlfriend but when some of my readers pointed out that I had not reviewed CB's latest and expressed their desire to hear about my thoughts on the book, I decided to go buy the book and read it! :)

First things first, I must tell you my previous impressions about CB formed after reading all his previous books. CB is an author who writes simply, knows the issues that are common among the young Indians and has managed to make a place in their hearts. All these things make him respect worthy in my eyes. Coming to his books, I loved 2 States the best among his books and Revolution Twenty20 the least. His books are unpredictable. There is no guarantee that you will like them.

Half Girlfriend takes the author's writing journey forward and here too he focuses on the issues that are pretty common and so, will be empathized upon by everyone. The title is intriguing and makes one take a second look at the book while surfing in a bookstore. The blurb is mediocre but with CB, who reads the blurb? 
We just see his name and pick up the book! :)

When I started the book, initially I enjoyed reading about Riya and Madhav and their character development in the first 3-4 chapters. After this everything is the usual with nothing interesting to keep you bound to the book. The story could have been made more crisp, concise and simply more interesting. It drags and the scenarios and the change of places just didn't make me want to stop to take notice.

The writing style is simple and can be read by everyone but this book is not meant for serious readers because you, simply, wont like it. If you are an avid CB fan and a casual reader then can give it a try. If you are new to CB then I wont recommend starting the author's book journey with this book.

2 out of 5 to Half Girlfriend because I liked the title, the idea behind the book and the character development. The execution of the story fails and the scenes, after the initial part of the book, start looking too far fetched and a drag.

Buy From:
Amazon US | Amazon IN | Flipkart

Still Life Banner  
Title: Still Life Author: A.M. Johnson 
Genre: New Adult 
Cover Reveal: March 4, 2015 
Release Date: April 2015


Cover Designer :
J.E.B. Johnson

texture blurred bokeh drops on a black background


Still Life (Forever Still Series #1)
 Loss… a word Elizabeth Haddington knows only too well. Despite the tragedies she’s endured, she’s been able to rise from the adversity she’s faced and begin her life again. Being a self-assured and strong woman, she knows she doesn’t need anyone to make her whole. Hate, pain, and twisted memories are all Sawyer Bryant’s ever known. He’d slowly lost who he was and what he should’ve become. His only escape was the military… Eight years later, as an ex-Navy SEAL, he’s forced to confront his father and their disturbed and violent past. Then one day, his life is turned upside down, when he glimpses a woman singing in her car at a set of traffic lights. Thinking he’d never see her again, amazingly he finds her performing with her band at the local bar. This chance encounter brings these two lost souls together. Once Sawyer gets a taste of her melodic voice, there’s no turning back. For Elizabeth, when she meets Sawyer… she realizes she’s fallen hard. But is this really love she’s feeling or does love build slowly over time? What happens when fate turns things around on you, creates flashes you can’t turn from… moments that will shape your life? They are faced with the choice of darkness surrounding them or to rid themselves of the guilt and pain and move toward the light. This story is about life’s moments. How they can make you or break you, and one man’s hope that… Love, won’t judge him.

Still Life Teaser

Author Bio

Amanda M Johnson is originally from Florida. She now lives in Utah where she is a Full-Time Nurse. She is, however, always first a mother and wife. She began to love reading at a very young age and toyed with the idea of writing ever since she can remember. She loves all things romance!! Amanda is inspired by the indie romance community as a whole and embraces the title book whore with great pride!

Author Links

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

DRBanner   DR 

Dante Santoro knew he was destined for great things. Growing up with two dead beat parents, Dante was forced to become an adult before his time. Deciding to change the world, Dante distanced himself from the only life he knew, the life of drugs and crime.
After going through school and training, Dante became a detective in the local police force. Keeping focused on getting drugs off the streets, he limited friends and outside connections. Finding himself the perfect candidate to go undercover, he never anticipated the one person he thought was safe could jeopardize it all. Will Dante be able to succeed at making the streets a safer place or will his destiny alter the course of the life he lives forever?

Amazon US | Amazon IN

Jaime Nicole Whitley is a wife and a stay at home mom to her two children. She grew up in New Jersey where she continued her education and became a medical assistant. She now lives in North Carolina where her husband is stationed with the Army. Jaime also co-writes novels under the name Lena Nicole.

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