December 24th, 2016


Book Critique 2016 – 08/20/2016: Castle Doom (Once Upon A Castle #2)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here
For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars:  4 / 5
Recommendation: Easy and simple reads that take you to a fantasy world far, far away or may be right next to you but unseen.

Once Upon A Castle is a collection of four novellas by famed romantic authors - Nora Roberts, Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan and Marianne Willman - published in March of 1998. The second novella is titled Castle Doom and written by Jill Gregory. I had been reading a few non-fiction and lengthy fictions past few weeks so I wanted to pick an easy book this time. Hence this novella. Here's the review on the second story in the collection.

The plot opens with Lady Arianne riding towards Briar Knoll to free her brother, Marcus - Count of Galeron - who was imprisoned in the dungeons of Castle Doom. There has been a rivalry between the kingdoms Galeron and Dinadan for centuries and nobody knows why. But she didn’t want Marcus to become one more sacrifice in that long-ago started enmity and her distant cousin and cruel Duke  Julian - ruling the Kingdom of Dinadan - take over both the kingdoms. Added to that a gypsy had predicted that the banished Lord Nicholas was coming to wrest the kingdom away from the Duke's hand. Julian's mood was not friendly knowing that Lady Arianne was working on freeing Marcus and also that the gypsy's prediction may come true. But there was a time that Arianne remembered that under the rule of Archduke Armand - father of Julian - Marcus, Arianne, Julian and Nicholas had all played together, lived and had more fun in life to care for. Nicholas had been the oldest son of Armand from his first wife while Julian was his second son from his second wife.

Now Arianne reached the Briar Knoll in search of the dungeon guard, Galdain, who had the master key to the dungeon. But Galdain was asking for more than gold from her in payment and when refused he attacks her. A stranger comes in time to save her by fighting Galdain off her with all the skills of an experienced soldier. Who turns out to be the banished Lord Nicholas himself. After so many pleas and messages she had sent he finally had come. But will he see her as a child of ten that he had last seen her before he was banished? Or will he see her as a woman grown to fight for her land, stand beside her and help her free her brother Marcus? Or will he just see her as a woman? She was also angry at him for staying away from the kingdoms, leaving the people's fate at the hands of cruel Julian. She was livid at the thought that he had carelessly forgot the vow of friendship he had made with Marcus. And left to become what but a mercenary. But he had come even though it is at the end of the time - just before Marcus is hung. Will she trust him to free her brother? Will she understand why he left and became a mercenary? Will he realize that she was a warrior-princess? Will their hearts fight along-side and win each other while they work towards the battle against Julian? Why was Lord Nicholas banished in the first place?

A well-written plot taking you across lands and regions and battles and love. Another quick read about kingdoms, battles, princesses and warriors. A refreshing and smooth plot for those fast readers and readers who have less time at their hands.

Critique 2016 – 08/21/2016: Cherish Your Moments (House Warming Ceremony)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a Review
Prologue: Go here

Stars:  5 / 5
Recommendation: Go to them for event management of any kind with affordable price range and beautiful settings that suit your needs and choice.

On this day in August (21st) I had a small gathering with my family and near and dear friends to celebrate the house warming ceremony of my new home. Although I bought the home in November of 2015, I had to wait for my parents and family to come to perform the pending ceremony. While preparing for this ceremony it reminded me of the actual Gruhapravesham pooja I had done as soon as I bought my home in 2015. And made me think back at how much relief I had felt when my friend's company handled everything. So here is a review of that company almost a year later. :)

That pooja was held on Dec 4 2015 and I had taken the help of my friend's company Cherish Your Moments (CYM) (Facebook link here) They made my day very easy. I did not have had to arrange a single thing except get decked up and come in my best. From making the Rangoli in front of my home to decorating to getting the food ordered and delivered to serving the welcome drinks to helping in giving away the return gifts to cleanup and packing at the end, they handled every single step.

I had taken one responsibility of gathering the items needed for the pooja, but everything else they had taken care of it. Even then I had forgotten a thing or two which the CYM team took care of it, albeit it was a last moment add. I could have not done the event any better than they did. In fact they have gone above and beyond my expectations. And not to discount the peace of mind that someone else is taking care of everything for a change. I could happily be part of the event, enjoy my friends and the ceremony. Here are a few pictures of their efforts for my event.

CYM made my day a truly memorable one and I cannot begin to appreciate how much. Sadly my friend moved out of the state so did her company. Now if only I can find someone similar to them again here where I live. **Sigh**. Thank you CYM team and my dear Lalitha for making the most important day of my life a truly memorable one.