Book Review : Belle By Lesley Pearse

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Goodreads Review:

London 1910

Fifteen year-old Belle has lived in a brothel in Seven Dials all her life, with no understanding of what happens in the rooms upstairs. But her innocence is shattered when she witnesses the murder of one of the girls and, subsequently snatched from the streets by the killer, she is sold into prostitution in Paris.

No longer mistress of her own fate, Belle is blown across the globe to sensuous New Orleans where she comes of age and learns to enjoy life as a courtesan. Yet thoughts of home – and the knowledge her status as golden girl cannot last – compel her to break out of her gilded cage.

But Belle finds escaping tougher than she imagined, for her life is threatened by desperate men who crave her beauty and attention. Armed only with resourcefulness and spirit, she has a long and dangerous journey ahead of her.

Will courage be enough to sustain her? Can she make it back to her family and friends and find her chance at true happiness?

Author: Lesley Pearse

No of Pages: 624

Published: February 2011

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adult

My Rating: 3.8/5

My Review:

There is just something about books written on prostitution that makes me want to read them all that more. But no matter how much I read about it, the horror never ceases.

Belle is an independent and fierce girl who is snatched from the streets and sold into this vile profession. She is a very strong yet innocent character. And that innocence doesn’t vanish with the gruesome circumstances that she is put through.

My problem with the book was the timeline it provided. So much of it happened in two years that at times, it just does not seem plausible. If you go into details, the timeline does not make sense.

The story itself is remarkable. There are so many aspects and views on the same thing. You see prostitution from many different angles. Yet all of them are horrendous. It just makes you more aware of it.

My favourite character was Annie, Belle’s mother, who appears to be cold and heartless. Emotions just don’t come easily to her. Annie’s history explains her character to you. Her brought up tells you why she is the way she is.

One of the things that I loved was when Jimmy says that although, whatever happened to her was horrendous, it changed the lives of many people and brought them closer. I love when you can take a positive message from whatever happens to you.

I loved all the twists and turns of the story. What surprised me the most was the ending. It was normal. Nobody does normal endings these days. That normality amongst aberrant circumstances makes the story good.

It’s the kind of story that makes you do more. If Belle can do what she does, after everything that she went through, then we most definitely can.

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Nothing happened to the book. The spine didn’t bend or had any creases. Trust me.

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Letters To The Moon # 11

1445724254441Dear Moon,

I don’t know if I have mentioned this or not but I burn myself very easily. I am not klutz. I promise. I just seem to burn different parts of my body like you drink coffee, as part of your daily routine. If it was not for ice, I would have scars all over me. Not kidding at all. I am that person who burns herself with the Steak plate or steaming coffee, while frying Samosas, boiling water, making noodles, baking a pie, in short anything and everything. Continue reading “Letters To The Moon # 11”

Shaandaar – Movie Review

Actors: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Pankuj Kapoor, Sana Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor.

Director: Vikas Bahl

Release Date: October 22, 2015

Visualeks Rating: 4/5

My Rating: 3.9/5

Plot: 

The story itself is nothing special. It’s your average plot where a guy falls in love with a girl and has to fight off her dad to get her. So you won’t find anything special there. There are a few twists like every other Bollywood movie.

Cinematography:

Cinematography itself was superb. I loved the little details like dragonflies appearing real and then becoming a pattern on Alia’s kimono. It’s not your typical Indian movie in terms of how it is filmed. It has a lot of cute elements.

Songs:

I didn’t love any of the songs. They are all good in terms of accompanying the movie. But I would not hear them on repeat. You can hear the songs here.

Acting:

Acting wise, I absolutely loved Shahid Kapoor’s acting. I have never been his fan. But after Haider and now this, I am forced to change my view. His expressions were different at every dialogue. I can watch this movie again just for his acting, it was that good.

Pankuj Kapoor’s acting is flawless. He has a lot of spark which I loved. Seeing him, you realize where Shahid got his acting skills from. They look like father son, by the way they act and express themselves.

Alia’s acting was average. Honestly, I expected a lot more. And then there were the usual Bollywood bongia (mistakes) where she was wearing shorts while everyone else is wearing three different jackets.Other:

Another thing which I loved was how unconventional some of the reactions were at times where things were pretty traditional. You will see what I mean in a scene between Alia and Pankuj Kapoor.

The chemistry between Shahid and Alia was really good. The comedy was fantastic. I guarantee that you will laugh 90% of the movie. Some comedy movies just stay fun till the interval and than they go soppy. Not this one. It will make you laugh till the end.

Not So Good Things:

  1. All the songs were average. I had heard them all before watching the movie and Shaam Shaandaar was the only one I heard twice.
  2. Story is nothing special.
  3. The ending was very random. I felt like it was not concluded properly. Maybe the director left it like that on purpose.

You can watch the trailer below.

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The Ugly Naked Side Of Expat Life

I am booksick. I miss my books. A LOT.

One of the downsides of expat life is that you can never get too attached to a single thing. Because you never know when you may have to sell it or dump it. Or it may get broken during the move. It’s part of the adventure. The ugly naked part that nobody talks about. Unlike people who have lived in the same house for twenty years, we don’t get to keep every single report card and fill our attic with old toys and baby clothes as memories. We just don’t have the space or luxury to do so.

One of my favourite childhood books !
One of my favourite childhood books !

When I used to buy books, I made sure to think it through. Because there were many that I had to give up during our move from KSA to Qatar. So when we went to Pakistan for holidays after that summer, I took the majority of my books there. They are all nicely packed in cartons with Neem leaves, to protect them from dust and insects. But I regret that over the years. I wanted all my books in one place. Soon enough, I had another collection of books in my cupboard.

When I got married, I decided to let the books I had, stay at my mom’s place. Because I am always buying books. It just made sense to start over and have more in your collection. A few months ago, I went back and packed all the books in my room because they were gathering dust.

These are the top three shelves of my current bookshelf.
These are the top three shelves of my current bookshelf.

I already have the shelf in my current room, filled 90% with books. I know that the decision of leaving books in Pakistan and at my moms house was right. I simply do not have the space to keep them all here.

For some reason, right at this very second, I miss my books. I want to build a wall to wall shelf in my room and keep all my babies together. They are all so far apart, in different countries, in different cartons, waiting for their moment of glory. This is the moment where I envy people who have lived in the same place for ten years and have the luxury of building custom shelves. Their books are all in one place, proudly portraying the family that lives there.

If only this expat life did not come with such compromises.

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Letters To The Moon # 10

Dear Moon,

It’s Muaaz’s (younger brother) birthday today. He turned 18 today. 18 ! Can you believe it ? Because I cannot. It seems just like yesterday when he was turning 15. It’s been an year since he left for Pakistan. How time flies !

This year was probably the hardest for him. We were right here when Abbu was in the hospital. But he was miles away without any family, unable to come. We could see our dad and get updates from the doctors everyday. While he had to stay there, give his exams and just pray for everything to be okay. Continue reading “Letters To The Moon # 10”

Why I Hate Mornings ?

It’s time like these when I have to wake up at 6:30 to drop my other half at the service centre so that he can get his car back, that I abhor mornings.

In Qatar, a lot of service centers and car repair shops are located in Sanahiya which consists of tons of garages, very little roundabouts, roads blocked, construction everywhere and tons of traffic jam. It’s not my favourite place in the world. So you can imagine why I don’t like to wake up at 5 in the morning, just so I can witness the awesomeness of that place. 1444713761061

Today, it wasn’t that bad. But the traffic in between made up for that.

Qatar might not have wide roads but we have even wider footpaths. On which, nobody walks because even if they would want to (you know us lunatics who like to walk), the intense heat would give them strokes and nothing else.

Anyway, I was talking about mornings. In my house, everyone knows that no matter when I wake up, I have to be left alone for an hour. Because if you address me, chances are you would see my ugliest side.

What I find ironic and slightly troubling is that I have not stepped into the working world. Everyone always says that well, how are you going to wake up then ? My answer is, like I woke up for school, like I wake up right now, because I absolutely have to.

It’s like that dental appointment that you don’t want to go to. You know that it will hurt and you will be numb all day. You still go, because you know that if you don’t the pain will only get worse. 1444715497898

Sometimes you do things that you don’t like, in order to enjoy those that you do. You would not even know that I hate getting up early, because I wake up at 9:00 everyday, these days. Life is like that. You don’t always have everything in your hands. Sometimes you do things just because you have to.

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What’s On My Phone ? Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

I have seen a lot of youtubers doing this but for some reason never thought of doing till Noor from Noor’s Place did this with her first phone. That makes me feel old.

I got my first phone when I was in 9th grade. It was a Blackberry 9700, back in 2009 actually when BB’s were the rage. Anyway, I am not really into phones all that much. Don’t get me wrong. I love them. But for me, spending 3000 riyals ($823) on a piece of metal that goes out of date within six months is just useless.DSCN3342

Nonetheless, when I saw Samsung S6 Edge, I absolutely loved it. (Pehli nazar ka payyar ) I just could not bring myself to buy it. Two weeks ago, I saw the Platinum Gold version of the phone on some website, I was even more inlove. Then my other half, randomly gifted it to me. He does this kind of a thing a lot. I am not complaining. I am totally okay with amazing surprises and beautiful gifts. Ain’t got nothing against them.

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My lock screen is always changing but currently I am obsessed with water colour effect paintings and purple as a colour. The quote suits me perfectly because this brain of mine never stops thinking.

My home screen is pretty simple, I just have the apps I use constantly. So that includes Music, Camera, Gallery and Email. Then on the bottom you have the phone, Contacts, Messages and Internet. I also have the Google search bar here because it’s easy peasy to use it. The background picture is from when I went sailing with my siblings on Eid ul Fitr.

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Then I have the following apps on my phone.

  1. Phonto: I have been loving typography recently and saw this on Noor’s post so decided to try it. I like it but my problem is that it writes in a straight line. The text doesn’t automatically adjust to the size of the picture.
  2. Play Store: Everyone needs this one.
  3. Goodreads: I haven’t used this in awhile. I have been in a reading slump so I need to get on the bandwagon again.
  4. Tripadvisor: I am traveling in the next few months. And tripadvisor has been my best friend recently.
  5. Soundcloud: I have not used this a lot. But I plant to do that.
  6. Turkish: I am traveling to Turkey in a month. I figured that this was a good opportunity to learn a new language. Or atleast some basic words of it.
  7. Microsoft Apps: It has skype and outlook which I use very rarely.
  8. Google: This has all the google stuff like Maps, Chrome etc.
  9. Social: In this one I have Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, Pinterest and Messenger. I am obsessed with Instagram these days. I am refraining from joining Snapchat since I know I will be addicted like crazy.

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These just have all of my apps. I will go through the ones I don’t use as frequently but still keep on my phone.

  1. Maps: I would be lost without this one. The offline version has saved me so many times on the road.
  2. CamScanner: How do you not love technology when this is available ? I always need to scan something for various reasons and this comes in handy.
  3. Uber: I use this very few times when I absolutely need to.
  4. WordPress: When I have free WiFi somewhere outside and nothing better to do, than I just go and jot down my thoughts in here.
  5. ColourNote: I use this to make lists of things I need or just write down any ideas I have.
  6. Tic Tac Toe: Probably the only game I have. Like I said, I get addicted to things pretty easily, so I try to keep games out of my reach.
  7. NoCrop : I use this for Instagram.
  8. Podcast Addict: I used this app when my dad was in the hospital and I had to drive constantly from one hospital to another to the house and so on. Love it !

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I love this phone. One of the reasons I wanted this was because the camera is 16 megapixel. That is just amazing. I love the edge screen and the colour is to die for. All the edge functions are also very useful, especially the night clock. And my favourite has to be how you turn your phone to turn off the alarm. I don’t even have to open my eyes to see the button.

Tell me about your phones since that is with us more than anyone else.

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