PRODUCT REVIEW: XAF’S BATH & BODY (SOAPS)

This is another review of Xafira Mendonsa’s hand crafted soaps. Today I am going to review two more of her soaps, both of which are extremely exotic.

The first soap that I have tried is Papaya. This soap is suitable for all skin types. Papaya is excellent for balancing the oiliness of the skin and is used to give a rejuvenated look to the skin. Moreover, this soap contains essential oils that keeps the skin tight! I found it to be a perfect summer soap!

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The second soap is extremely unique: charcoal and green tea! This soap bar absorbs odours, making it an ideal soap for someone who works outdoors or in a dusty and polluted environment. Activated charcoal is very helpful in washing away odour and green tea helps to rejuvenate skin cells and fight any inflammation. This soap helps to keep the skin clean, soft and moist. This soap is especially suitable to those having dry skin.

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The best part about these soaps is that they are free of artificial foaming agents (detergents), parabens, alcohol, petroleum and artificial preservatives.

I would definitely recommend these soaps to everyone. Though they are pricy, (each soap costs Rs. 250/), they are definitely long lasting and of excellent quality.

Xafira lives in Mumbai and can be contacted on 9821735666 or on 9967586929. She can be followed on her Instagram account Creativity with Taste. She is also available on Facebook as Xaf’s Bath and Body.

BOOK REVIEW: GREAT TEXTPECTATIONS

Book: Great Textpectations tempImageForSave

Author: Ruchi Vadehra

Genre: Romance Fiction

Published by: Rupa Publications

Number of pages: 225 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: The publishers Rupa Publications provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

The story is extremely contemporary and relevant in these times, as these days many relationships start and flourish virtually.

Amaya Kapoor is a single, attractive woman in her thirties living in Delhi. She works at Amaya Books which is owned by her family. Amaya is successful in her work but she has a dream of opening a bookstore that will be unique and different from other bookstores. She is also a fitness enthusiast.

While playing Scrabble online, she meets Rohan, who lives in Mumbai. Amaya and Rohan start to chat while playing the game. Slowly, but surely, they start to chat more and more frequently while in their professional lives, both of them are very ambitious and busy.

Amaya feels extremely comfortable and compatible with Rohan, even though she has never met him in person. Finally, they are able to meet when Amaya visits Mumbai for work.

Sparks fly even when they meet in person and from there, Amaya and Rohan are in a relationship that cannot be defined, as both of them live in different cities and Rohan is commitment phobic.

So of course the question raised in the story is whether Amaya and Rohan do manage to get together, overcoming various hurdles. The reader needs to read the book to find out.

I definitely recommend “Great Textpectations” to readers as it is a frothy, interesting and extremely enjoyable read. The story and the characters are all extremely progressive and modern.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This is Ruchi Vadehra’s first book. She belongs to a family of writers and lives with her husband, children and family in New Delhi.

HOW REVIEWING “LOVESTRUCK” BY PRASUPTA ROY GOT ME TROLLED & BULLIED ONLINE!

I decided to post this because I was extremely disgusted with what transpired yesterday and because I do not believe in letting myself be bullied.

Earlier, in this week, I received a copy of the book “Lovestruck” by Prasupta Roy to read and review. I received the copy through a fellow reviewer. I had never heard of the book, “Lovestruck” or the author Prasupta Roy before that.

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When I read the book, there were several points about the book that I disliked. The first one was that the entire book was riddled with bad grammar. So much so, that I was actually cringing in dismay whenever I came across a wrongly composed sentence, which happened ever so often in the story.

Secondly, at one point in the story, the protagonist’s husband asks her for a divorce and informs her that he is getting married to another woman next month. He also tells her that his fiancée wants him to get divorced before he marries again!

Whenever I review a book, I always try to find something positive to write about it. But at the same time, I cannot post a review falsely praising a book.

Accordingly, I posted an honest review stating my opinion on the book. The review was posted on my blog and Goodreads.

A short time after posting the review on Goodreads, I started getting trolled by a “gentleman” named Somnath Mazumdar who accused me of having a personal bias against the author. He also accused me of having entered into a deal for posting such a review and called me a “sick character”.

Excuse me if I sound ignorant, but I had never heard of Prasupta Roy till date. Is she such an eminent author that a rival author will enter into a deal with me for posting a negative review about her book?

Mr. Somnath Mazumdar did not stop trolling me there. He demanded to know my qualifications for reviewing the book and then finally ended by calling me a “fool.”

Again excuse me if I sound ignorant, but is there a certificate or a diploma that one should obtain before reviewing a book? If yes, then kindly let me know.

I will end my post here by simply raising this question: when an author publishes her book and anyone is entitled to read it, is a book reviewer not entitled to post her opinion on the book without getting bullied and trolled online?

BOOK REVIEW: LOVESTRUCK

Book: Lovestruck tempImageForSave

Author: Prasupta Roy

Genre: Romance Fiction

Published by: Half Baked Beans

Number of pages: 130 pages

My Rating: 2.5/5

MY REVIEW: I have received a review copy of “Lovestruck” from the author in exchange for an honest review.

At the outset I would like to apologise for my negative comments on this book as it is not my intention to hurt anyone. But I am merely sharing my thoughts on this story.

The story is littered with various grammatical errors that made me cringe every time I came across them. But the worst grammatical error was “the Pandora’s box”. I do not mean to sound like the grammar police but I have always understood that the article “the” is never used before a proper noun. I was especially unhappy with these errors as the author is supposedly an English teacher.

Coming to the story, Kaatyaani lives in Chennai and is married to Hemant. She used to be a teacher but gave that up when she got married as Hemant didn’t want her “going for a job”.

Hemant comes across as an extremely unpleasant character in the story. Though they are unable to have a child, Hemant refuses to get himself tested for infertility.

Kaatyaani is living an extremely unhappy life when on impulse she accepts a stranger’s friend request on Facebook. She starts to chat with Siddharth, i.e. the stranger over Messenger. Slowly, they grow attached and start to meet. The inevitable happens and they fall in love.

Life takes a turn when Hemant gets a new job in Bangalore. Kaatyaani decides to end her relationship with Siddharth and stay married to Hemant. However, their marriage worsens until Hemant informs her that he is getting married next month!

This took me by surprise as I was not aware that polygamy is legal in India, i.e. can Hemant get married when he is still married to Kaatyaani? Hemant then sends her the divorce document as his fiancée wished that Kaatyaani signs the divorce papers before they marry. Kaatyaani has to simply sign in a few places and send the document back to Hemant and just like that, they are divorced!

After this speedy divorce, Kaatyaani moves back to Chennai and starts working in a school. She tries hard to contact Siddharth but cannot find him. This again sounds strange that she only tries his mobile number but not any kind of social media or e-mail, when it was through Facebook that she met him in the first place!

I will avoid revealing the ending of the book as someone might want to read it. This is merely my opinion on the story and of course a reader might actually enjoy it and have a contrary opinion. A little editing and some research on the Hindu Marriage Act and divorce laws would certainly have helped to make the story better!

BOOK REVIEW: THE DIAMOND CROWN

Book: The Diamond Crown tempImageForSave

Author: VS Rao

Genre: Suspense, Fiction

Published by: Srishti Publishers

Number of pages: 119 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was provided with a copy of the book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The story has been translated into English from Tamil and is a breezy and fast-paced read.

The story begins with a meeting of villains: the leader Balaram, Parabrahma Rao, Ramjogi, Gajapati and the seductive damsel Kumkum. The plan is simple, they will steal the diamond crown of Dasavatar Baba during his birthday celebrations and substitute it with a fake crown.

The robbery is executed and the police are called in. But the case cannot be solved without the expertise of Detective Tempo.

It is very difficult to review the book without giving away the plot. But there is yet another villain in the picture. Kumkum is not exactly who she seems and it is difficult to guess whose side she is on.

The climax is certainly thrilling as the different characters turn against each other.

I recommend this book to readers as value for money.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: VS Rao is a celebrated Telugu author, playwright, translator and scriptwriter. He passionately highlights women’s issues.

BOOK REVIEW: PI AGENCY

Book: Pi AgencytempImageForSave

Author: Neelabh Pratap Singh

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: Cosmos Prints

Number of pages: 313 pages

My Rating: 4/5

MY REVIEW: I was kindly provided with a copy of this book by the author Neelabh Pratap Singh.

I had previously reviewed Neelabh’s first novel, “The Resurrection of Evil”, a mythological thriller. So my first thought on starting with “Pi Agency” was that this story was completely different.

Rashmi Purohit is a tough, no-nonsense woman who aspired to join the CBI but couldn’t do so. She is running her own detective agency, i.e. Pi Agency from the basement of her house with her two assistants, Akshay and Diksha.

Pi Agency is hired by Brajesh Arya, a rich businessman, to investigate a drugs cartel that has succeeded in getting Brajesh Arya’s son addicted to drugs.

An investigation is launched which turns out to be full of twists and turns with danger thrown in. The investigation involves the use of technology, going undercover, using a honey trap and also the danger of physical violence.

Rashmi Purohit comes across as a fine character as a dedicated and skilled investigator. The characters of her two assistants, Akshay and Diksha are also very nicely etched.

Does the Pi Agency succeed in tracking down the main culprit behind the drugs operation? That of course is the focal point of the story.

Pi Agency is an extremely enjoyable suspense thriller and I recommend it to readers. I will be definitely looking to reading another story about the next adventure of the Pi Agency!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neelabh Pratap Singh is a mechanical engineer by profession and a writer by passion. He can be followed on Instagram on his handle @authorneelabh.

BOOK REVIEW: DEAD TO THEM

Book: Dead to Them tempImageForSave

Author: Smita Bhattacharya

Genre: Thriller, Fiction

Published by: StoryMirror

Number of pages: 268 pages

My Rating: 5/5

MY REVIEW: The author Smita Bhattacharya kindly provided me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

“Dead to Them” is an intriguing suspense thriller with so many sub-plots that it is extremely difficult to review the book without giving away the story!

Moira Madhwa is a single woman who lives alone and works as a management consultant in Mumbai. When she has not been seen or heard from in several days, her colleagues and friends attempt to trace her whereabouts.

On the work front, there is her boss Himanshu, her colleague Kartik who appears to have had a complicated equation with Moira and her colleague Kavya who seems to be genuinely concerned about her.

Among her friends, we have Misha who is pregnant, her husband Piyush and Avni who is madly in love with her boyfriend Ashish. There are a lot of undercurrents and subtle tensions among her friends as well as colleagues.

The story is also partly told in flashbacks from Moira’s point of view.

As the search for Moira continues, it becomes clear that nothing is what it appears on the surface. The end of the story, is extremely unexpected and was surely nothing that I anticipated!

I highly recommend “Dead to Them”, as a highly enthralling and intriguing suspense thriller that will keep the reader guessing till the very end!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Smita Bhattacharya is a management consultant who lives in Mumbai. She can be followed on Instagram @smitabe