Frost’s Favourites – A favourite book

I wrote about how I am starting this new category of posts. And I begin with a favourite book – These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. I love this book.

These Old Shades is the sort of book that amuses one. It starts off with a gentleman, the Duke of Avon, acquiring a page, Leon. There is the instant chemistry between the Duke and his impudent page. A boy and his master, his master who owns him body and soul. It becomes known to the reader that Avon knew that Leon was not who he was from the beginning, that Leon was Leonie! And so the Duke sets off to make Leonie his ward and make her live like a lady. A difficult task since Leonie has been living as Leon for the past seven years. Nonetheless, it was accomplished. As Leonie charms the world around her, plots are unravelled and Avon wants to avenge those made our heroine suffer, denying her her birthright and making her live a life of penury. But never fear for it is a happily ever after sort of tale.

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

Of course, it is also a romance, a regency romance set in the eighteenth century. There are plenty of romance authors who write great romances in this time period, but Georgette Heyer is the undisputed queen of this genre. There is everything that could captivate an audience – kidnapping, gunshots, suicide, deceit, romance… Oh, the drama! And the book is written so fabulously that it is such a delight to read. One can almost see the fluttering handkerchiefs, hear the clacking of a cane along the floor, smell the perfumes and the snuff. I certainly could appreciate Monseigneur’s very elegant flick of the lace at his wrists. The plot may not be the most riveting, but what captivates the reader is the dialogue and the conversation. One can’t help but need to keep up with Monseigneur’s wit and Leonie’s enthusiasm. There is the delightfully flighty Lady Fanny, the sober Mr Davenant and the very laid-back Lord Robert. Even these characters play their part and are an important part of the book. I know there are those who love a certain Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, but I think Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon is much more of a literary hero. Of course, there is the question of Monseigneur’s flexible morality and vindictive streak, but then Mr Darcy fair pales in comparison to the liveliness of Monseigneur. Monseigneur shall remain my favourite hero for all that he is – perfect!

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

There is a second book as well – Devil’s Cub. It is the tale of Avon and Leonie’s son, Vidal and his falling in love. Vidal is the perfect combination of Monseigneur and Leonie. Fiery temper, elite haughtiness, and an effortless nonchalance with a wit to match that reside in his very blood. While in These Old Shades Leonie is not an active participant in the plots, in this book she gets involved in trying to keep all the chaos from her prescient Monseigneur. But Avon being who he is, always knows and resolves issues before anyone can even guess what’s happening. One really can’t help but fall in love with Leonie and her Monseigneur.

I love this book and it is one of my favourites. I hope you enjoy it as well.

PS – There is quite a bit of French in this book, given that the story takes place in Paris and England. But it is a charming addition to the text and not a hindrance to the reader. C’est tout.

Padmavati Prithviraj

Book Reviews – Rani Padmavati & Prithviraj Chauhan by Anuja Chandramouli

I love to read. It takes me to a world that is unlike the one which I inhabit. And for this reason, I love reading historical fiction. I have been awestruck on trips to the museum or to the grand old palaces scattered all over India and have wondered about the people who walked those floors. There are notes aplenty about who they were and what they did, but those are just facts, tailored to suit the textbooks that we study from. But historical fiction is a genre that needs to be based on facts yet draw a picture vivid enough to tantalise the reader.

I have grouped two books into this one review – Rani Padmavati: The Burning Queen, and Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts. Both are Anuja Chandramouli’s latest works. First, let’s get to Prithviraj. I loved this book. Everything about it was great and it made for a fantastic read. Who hasn’t heard about Prithviraj Chauhan or his feats? This book shows us the man he was. Of the boy, who became the King loved by all. And more than all this it showed us that there were women who wielded power and manipulated history like they did their veils.

Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan by Anuja Chandramouli

A well-researched book, it shows us just the perfect amount of warfare, romance and politics. None of it was too much or too little, just the perfect amount for the reader to relish. The magic, of course, comes in the writing. Wonderful and joyously depicting happiness, discontent, jealousy, camaraderie and what not. Every feeling that one read about was experienced and that was what made this book a good read for me.

I first finished Prithviraj and then went on to read Padmavati. Initially, I was a little sceptical because of the entire ruckus around the movie. But, again a book is a much better option for me than a movie. Padmavati needs no introduction in this part of the world, though I would urge you to read this book just to understand what the fuss is about. As for the book, it was satisfactory. I say satisfactory because I read it after Prithviraj . Where I loved Prithviraj , Padmavati I liked.

Rani Padmavati by Anuja Chandramouli
Rani Padmavati by Anuja Chandramouli

I was under the spell cast by one book, Prithviraj , filled with drama of all kinds – romance, politics, treachery, war and then took up Padmavati. This one did not have as much drama in other aspects as it did with romance. Padmavati initially comes across as an intelligent well-informed child, and then becomes this subdued version of her former self. Where Prithviraj had Karpuradevi and Kanchanadevi as strong female characters who wore power as a second skin, Padmavati lacked such strong depictions (irrespective of gender). There was plenty of romance between Padmavati and Ratan, and the rest was not enough to actually justify the malice or politics. This perhaps makes Padmavati more of a historical romance. Only Alauddin Khalji seemed to remain a seemingly strong character with his greed unchanged. If it was not for Anuja Chandramouli’s writing I would have put it in the ‘DNF’ pile. The author manages to create yet another wonderful piece of fiction with her words.

I recommend reading both Padmavati and Prithviraj if you are a fan of history and would suggest reading Padmavati first or perhaps giving some time between these two books. Even if not, read the books for the joy that was Anuja Chandramouli’s writing.

Thanks to the author for providing the review copies.

You can get your copies here – Amazon (Padmavati, Prithviraj), Flipkart (Padmavati).

The Macalisters

Book Review – The Macalisters Book 1 & 2 by Erica Taylor

There are very few authors who can write good romances. And even fewer who can combine a romance and good mystery. Not the sort that will have you biting your nails in suspense, but the kind that you know who the bad guy is, but you want to know why and therefore keep reading. Erica Taylor has achieved this feat in both of her books A Suitable Affair, which is the first book in the series and then The Perfect Duchess which is the second.

In A Suitable Affair, we are introduced to the Macalisters – a bunch of siblings with their oldest brother (The Duke) serving as the head of the family. This book is the story of Susanna and Lord Westcott. Westcott is a part of a secret team that investigates crimes and such, Susanna is involved with a man thought to be a suspect, and fate keeps throwing them together. Eventually, they solve the crime, fall in love and live happily ever after.

In the first book, we are given a tease of the Duke and the Duchess, and the second book The Perfect Duchess is their story. Andrew, the Duke, is smitten by the twin sister of the woman who jilted him at the altar. There are too many questions unanswered and the book meanders through a maze trying to unravel secrets. There is intrigue and romance. There is the moment when you know who the villain is, but you want to know more – the why, the how, and the what for’s.

I enjoyed reading both these books; they were quick and easy reads. Just perfect for the holiday weekend! Both, A Suitable Affair and The Perfect Duchess, can be read as a standalone, but you will want to know what happens to the Macalister bunch anyway!

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Book Review – The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Way back in July, I read a book – The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. It has now been almost 6 months since I read it, but I still have the same weird feeling as I write about it now as when I read it. This review has been put off for a long while and I thought I better get to it before the New Year.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane’s first words “No coincidence, no story” are by themselves a tad bit haunting. If one dwells on that phrase, it brings about a lot of thought – introspective and otherwise. This book is definitely not a light read and is one of the most reflective reads I have read this year… Also, one of my favourites of 2017.


Li-yan and her family are a part of a remote Yunnan village and belong to the Akha tribe. They make their living with tea. (If you do not like tea, drop the book or you will want to try a cup even as you read.) Li-yan’s A-ma (mother) is a midwife and while helping her, Li-yan learns a lot about life, its injustices. The Akha traditions described are at times heartbreaking, but it is what is – their way of life. Li-yan goes to school, and upon encouragement from her teacher wants to do better than others. Her education comes to help the village when a businessman from Hong Kong comes along in search of aged tea – Pu’er – as he calls it. The village prospers and along with it the people.

If you don’t love tea, you can’t make good tea.”

A-ma and Li-yan have their own secrets. A secret grove of tea trees that have been handed down through centuries from mother to daughter. Li-yan gives birth to her daughter here. Since the child would have been a human reject as per Akha traditions, Li-yan leaves her at the doorstep of an orphanage. Through time we see a widowed Li-yan making her name in the business of tea, marrying again and moving to America and having a son. Embracing modern times and still upholding Akha traditions; balancing her new life and yet yearning for the daughter that she gave up. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane does end with Li-yan meeting her daughter, all’s well that ends well after all.

That being said, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is not your average feel-good book. Like I mentioned before, it is immensely reflective. The writing is what makes the book such a joy to read, for it is neither reverent nor lacking. It is a very matter of fact telling of Li-yan’s tale. But when it comes to tea – The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane takes on a life of its own. It evokes a rather lascivious need to sample and savour the flavour of tea – in whatever form one can get it. While one may just about be happy with a cup of chai, there is the greed induced that one can’t ignore. After reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane I do wonder if I can somehow get my hands on some Pu’er and savour it.

You can grab a copy here – Amazon


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Book Review – A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Once in a while, a book comes along with a great many pages. One would imagine that these hundreds of pages would feature the tales of a great many people and a great many things. But we have already seen a few books that tell us the story of a very few people but in nothing less than a few hundred pages. (Have you heard of The Order of the Phoenix, IT or A Dance With Dragons?A Column of Fire is much the same. Very few characters but a great many historic events, plot twists, and one great book with all of it! Some 900 pages and I might have skipped less than half a dozen of them. Ken Follett is indeed a master at work.

A Column of Fire is a standalone read but also the third part of the Kingsbridge series. The first of the series was The Pillars of the Earth, followed by World Without End. And I must add here that A Column of Fire has the minimum number of pages of the three. All three books revolve around a place called Kingsbridge, and their stories are centuries apart. A Column of Fire is a tale that happens in the time period 1558-1620. The book starts off at a time when being Protestant was a death warrant and ends at a time with an apparent modicum of religious co-existence. It does not matter that it was about 500 years ago; we still seem to be maintaining that stance and not getting better with practice.

Ken Follett is a master at writing historical fiction, he throws in his characters and real-life historical personalities into the book and we get a good history lesson in the mix. A Column of Fire is a lot many things, a romance, a historical, a mild thriller, and a political insight as well. Here we have the romance of Ned Willard and Margery Fitzgerald, a constant thing through the length of the book. The Willards and the Fitzgeralds and their many differences, business and religious, keep Ned and Margery apart. When they come together, it was not much of surprise. I must admit to the romance being very sober and bland. But I think it does get compensated for by all the plotting and the treachery involved.

A Column of Fire is an interesting read if you are interested in reading historical or thrillers. It does combine both, but I will not venture to say it is a gripping novel. The sheer volume will put most readers off. The pace of the book is average; there were instances when I wanted to push a character to just walk faster. What I really loved was the politics – the undercurrents, the thoughts and the decisions. These are abundant and the acuity of historical figures (both famous and otherwise), is rendered in brilliant clarity. Politics and decision making that happened in a room in a faraway castle, trickle down to affect those in Kingsbridge as well.

One would think that being a small town, there would be a sense of community. But religious difference plays a part and the divide is never more evident than when a new monarch takes over. Even when there is trouble at their doors, their differences keep them apart. The most wondrous plots are weaved when the author introduces the spies. Information is available to all those who seek it but then it is never free of cost. What do people do to get this information, why do they do it – all these questions have more than adequate answers in A Column of Fire.

If I were to surmise, I would say that A Column of Fire is a book with a good storyline, intriguing plot twists, and excellent writing. It is in no way a light read or a fast one. You may be spending a week or more with this one. If you do not mind the joy of a meanderingly slow read, this one is for you.

Go read!

You can find a copy here – Amazon.


A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3)A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Book Review – The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan is the first book of the trilogy Baahubali: Before the beginning. Long long ago, I had read Neelakantan’s Asura, the Ramayana from Ravana’s perspective. It was a captivating read. Of course, any telling of the Ramayana is a pleasure to read. They are all essentially the original fan fiction tales, IMHO.

So, have you watched Baahubali? The movie has two really strong characters – Sivagami and Kattappa. First, you see Sivagami (played by Ramya Krishnan) fight warriors whilst feeding a baby and then flee. She manages to save the baby at the cost of her life. Kattappa (played by Sathyaraj) is shown as the humble manservant/slave to the heir to the kingdom of Mahishmati. The movie ends with Kattappa telling the tale of Amarendra Baahubali, and confessing to killing his king.

Sivagami and Kattappa are truly bad ass characters. And the actors playing them are in no way lacking either. The Rise of Sivagami shows us what came before. Who was Kattappa? Who was Sivagami? And how did they get to where they are in the movie. The Rise of Sivagami is essentially a flashback into their histories. And also a glimpse into the complexities of the movie. Some questions are answered and for the rest, we have to wait for books 2 and 3.


Sivagami was orphaned at the age of 5 when her father was branded a traitor and tortured to death. 12 years later, she wants vengeance – against the king, kingdom and the people of Mahishmati. Growing up with her guardian, she is now sent to live her life in an orphanage for a few months, until she turns 18. But, she is also told a secret by one of her father’s maid servant on her death bed. This leads Sivagami to take a lot of decisions and strengthens her need for revenge.

The two princes of Mahishmati also play a part in the book – Mahadeva and Bijjala. We have seen them in the movie and here we know how their young minds are being shaped and understand so much more. The king plays an important part as well. In the few pages that he features, he comes across as a shrewd and manipulative person.

Kattappa is born a slave, the son of the King’s slave. The king obviously values and trusts his slave, while his eldest son & heir, Bijjala is ruthless. Mahadeva is far more just and compassionate. Kattappa’s rules and all that he is taught about being a slave is questioned by his younger brother who dreams of a free life, one with dignity and respect. Things come to a point that Kattappa still a slave and obedient, wonders about justice and fair play. He begins to act accordingly, as much as he can while being a slave.

There are so many more characters of interest in this book. And since the series is a trilogy, the next two books should be more interesting. But The Rise of Sivagami is packed with twists and turns, vile plots and gripping wars. Betrayal, scams, and prejudice find a prominent place as well.

The Rise of Sivagami is perhaps an Indian version of the Game of Thrones. There is a dwarf, an honest minister(who gets killed), a good prince, a bad prince, a glutton, wars, seduction, corruption, scandals, conveniently subjective piety, bigotry etc. And something tells me the next two books are going to be along the same vein. Hopefully, Anand Neelakantan does not make us wait for years before the next book of the series is out.

Also, this is the first time I am reading a book that has taken off from a movie and not the other way around. Though the author has worked best to give us an insight into the background and the story of Mahishmati, I fear I will always like Asura better than The Rise of Sivagami.  Anyway, I enjoyed reading this book. It was insightful about how Sivagami and Kattappa, and gave a much better understanding of the kingdom of Mahishmati.  It is written in a very simple manner and is paced well. There are no boring parts that you may want to skip.

I would definitely recommend it. Go read.

You can find it here – Amazon, Flipkart

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Book Review -The Scoundrel’s Honor by Christi Caldwell

I have been reading An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India by Shashi Tharoor I haven’t finished it yet. It is quite a demanding read. In between reading An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India I have had to take breaks and sneak in some lighter reads. The Scoundrel’s Honor by Christi Caldwell is one such book.

The Scoundrel’s Honor is the second book in the series Sinful Brides, the first book is The Rogue’s Wager. It can also be read as a standalone, which is what I did.


The Scoundrel’s Honor by Christi Caldwell is a romance set in 1822. Penelope Tidemore is an earl’s sister and comes from a family that has faced quite a few scandals. Ryker Black, a gaming hell owner, is the bastard son of a duke who grew up in the dark side of London. Caught in a compromising position, they now have to wed. She – because she cares for her family; he – for the sake of his business. How they get on is the rest of the book. Obviously, it being a romance, there is a good ending.

Ryker was sold at birth and was brought up by a goon who trained him to steal and worse. There are the prejudices that a man who has been through life as an orphan on the streets has for the titled lords and ladies. And Penelope shatters these as she doesn’t fit into any of the neat boxes that Ryker wants to put her in. The to and fro between Ryker and Penelope is fairly entertaining.

The book as a whole is a feel good read. A light romance, there is drama, romance, erotica, and some thrill as well.

If a good girl/bad guy romance is your thing, I’d recommend this book to you.

I received a review from NetGalley.

The Scoundrel's Honor (Sinful Brides, #2)The Scoundrel’s Honor by Christi Caldwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews



London, 1822.

Thanks to her older siblings, Lady Penelope Tidemore is no stranger to scandal. In order for her to make a good match, her secret longings for intrigue and romance must be quelled. Yet it is through terrible mischance that Penelope is caught in a compromising position—however innocent—with the darkly enigmatic viscount Ryker Black.

Mr. Black is no gentleman. Raised from the streets and proprietor of the most notorious gaming hell in London, Black lives in a world filled with debauchery and danger. Taking a Society wife from the very ton he despises is not part of his plan, even if the innocent Penelope turns his blood hot with desire.

But Penelope isn’t afraid of Mr. Black, and she soon discovers that his reputation as a scoundrel may be designed to hide a surprising vulnerability. As this unlikely husband and wife grow closer, they learn that what started as chance could end up sealing their fates.

About the Author

USA TODAY Bestselling author CHRISTI CALDWELL blames Judith McNaught’s “Whitney, My Love!” for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her notes and pick up her laptop to try her hand at romance. She believes the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before crafting them a well deserved happily ever after!

Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut where she spends her time writing her own enchanting historical romances, chasing around her feisty seven-year-old son and caring for her twin princesses in training!