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An Open Letter..

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Open Letter to Mr Narendra Modi

A Bollywood film called ‘Udta Punjab’ is to be released on 17th June, this year. A film I, and many others across India and the rest of the world, have been eagerly waiting for. Unfortunately, I have recently learnt that the Central Board of Film Certification (Censor Board) are censoring the film because of its subject matter; drugs.

I do not live in India, I live in the U.K. but that does not mean I am happy with this new controversial development surrounding the fate of this movie. Frankly, I am appalled with this decision to cut over 80 scenes from the movie as well removing the very essence of the plot; the state of Punjab.

My parents were born and bred in Punjab, my grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. My life is enriched with the culture and traditions of Punjab. I may very well be British but my heritage originates from Punjab. I, like many other Indian citizens, am concerned about this decision made by the censor board, for a variety of reasons.

Removing Punjab from ‘Udta Punjab’ defies the whole point of the film. ‘Udta Punjab’ will depict the horrifyingly high usage of drugs in Punjab, where over 70% of the youth are drug addicts. By taking Punjab out of the equation you are allowing the state to get away with issues that should be dealt with head on. Do you honestly believe people aren’t aware? I have visited Punjab many times and I have witnessed first hand the complications that arise from drugs and how the government of Punjab and India are idly sitting on their hands whilst a state tumbles head first towards its death.

For the first time, ever, someone has decided to finally speak about the issue of drugs and now you are doing everything in your power to stop them from highlighting a message that affects the future of your country? Not once has anything been done to try and reduce the use of drugs in Punjab. The government is fine with the state getting destroyed by drugs misuse but what irritates them is when someone brave enough comes along and makes a film on it. The hypocrisy of the Indian government baffles me.

The Punjabi government is known for banning films that portray the reality of their misdeeds and to some extent, if I put myself in their shoes for a minute, I can understand their (deluded) need to hide their mistakes. In the past, a couple of Punjabi movies have been banned in Punjab because of their subject matter. However this did not stop the outcry and outrage of the thousands of Punjabis around the world. The movies were shared on social media and were tremendously successful abroad, I should know, I watched them too.  But enough is enough.

Anurag Kashyap (a film director and producer) recently tweeted this:

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I wholeheartedly agree with his statement. I find it encouraging to see well known and critically acclaimed Bollywood directors putting their foot down and protesting against the censor board.

A lot of Bollywood movies have ‘item numbers’; songs that show female actors dancing and singing in a sexualised manner. I have always felt uncomfortable with the idea of item numbers purely because of the degrading manner in which female actors are portrayed. I have the uttermost respect for Bollywood actors and actresses that branch away from such sexism and provide entertainment through films that actually have a moral and ethical tie to them. ‘Udta Punjab’ is one of those films and it sickens me that the movie is being cut so those who place themselves on a pedestal can continue to live their privileged lives without any obstructions.

Drugs, rape, sexism, dowry, discrimination, homophobia are subjects that deserve to be spoken about. The youth of India deserves to be shown the truth about its country. The highest platform to get that point across is the Bollywood movie industry. With the exception of cricket, the Bollywood movie industry has the biggest impact on Indian citizens. Filmmakers who use that as an advantage to spread good are the ones I respect and when a filmmaker is using the same platform to talk about an issue that the majority of India needs to know about, why are they being hushed up? For what reason?

Mr Modi, you have constantly said that India is a tolerant country. Is it? When its own government and constitution cannot comprehend the importance of freedom of speech and expression, how can you expect your citizens to follow through?

Punjab is my hometown. I love the people, the traditions and culture that lives within Punjab. But if drug misuse is not brought under control, Punjab’s youth will descend towards their death. Growing up, I saw Punjab as a state that flourished with vibrancy. Now all I see is the aftermath of a state forgotten by its government and left to fend for itself. ‘Udta Punjab’ deserves to be shown in India and across the world. Those 80+ scenes deserve to be shown and Punjab itself needs to be brought to the forefront of every Indian’s mind because without that, the state and the people of Punjab and other states across India will continue to suffer.

Simran Gill

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Blog Tour: The Silent Girls by Ann Troup..

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I’m very excited to have the pleasure of being the last stop for the The Silent Girls blog tour. A fantastic book written by an equally fantastic writer.  This is my first Ann Troup read so without further ado,let’s find out more about this new and vibrant author. 

Author Bio:

  

Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.

Her writing space is known as ‘the empty nest’, having formerly been her daughters bedroom. She shares this space with ten tons of junk and an elderly Westie, named Rooney, who is her constant companion whether she likes it or not. He likes to contribute to the creative process by going to sleep on top of her paperwork and running away with crucial post-it notes, which have inadvertently become stuck to his fur. She is thinking of renaming him Gremlin.
She lives by the sea in Devon with her husband and said dog. Two children have been known to remember the place that they call home, but mainly when they are in need of a decent roast dinner, it’s Christmas or when only Mum will do. She also has extremely decent stepchildren.
In a former incarnation she was psychiatric nurse, an experience which frequently informs her writing. She has also owned a cafe and an art/craft gallery. Now she only makes bacon sandwiches as a sideline, but does continue to dabble with clay, paint, paper, textiles, glue…you name it. Occasionally she may decide to give away some of these creations (you have been warned!).
More about Ann and her books can be found in the following places:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads 


Blurb:

What if everything you knew was a lie…

This house has a past that won’t stay hidden, and it is time for the dead to speak.

Returning to Number 17, Coronation Square, Edie is shocked to find the place she remembers from childhood reeks of mould and decay. After her aunt Dolly’s death Edie must clear out the home on a street known for five vicious murders many years ago, but under the dirt and grime of years of neglect lurk dangerous truths.

For in this dark house there is misery, sin and dark secrets that can no longer stay hidden. The truth must come out.

Finding herself dragged back into the horrific murders of the past, Edie must find out what really happened all those years ago. But as Edie uncovers the history of the family she had all but forgotten, she begins to wonder if sometimes it isn’t best to leave them buried.

An unforgettable and addictive story, perfect for fans of Lesley Thomson, Diane Chamberlain and Tracy Buchanan. 


Review:

When I first came across came this book, I was intrigued by the cover and title, somehow a part of me knew straight away that there’s going to be something special about this book and I as I finished the last page, I was happy that my initial perspective was spot on. 

The story revolves around our protagonist Edie, who returns to Coronation Sqaure only to find herself tangled in a web of deceit that started long before. 5 murders, solved and forgotten. Or were they? As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that there’s much more to the stories behind the murders than what has been told and we join Edie as she searches for answers no one seems to know. 

As the lead, Edie was near enough perfect. She was full of strength, responsibility, leadership and love that allowed her character to be three dimensional. Her character growth was a joy to read. The decisions she makes and conclusions she came to highlighted the realism in this novel. Obviously it’s fiction, but that added element of realism really made the suspense that much better. I also enjoyed her interactions with the secondary characters, good and bad. 

I was pleasantly surprised with her writing style. I admit the first few chapters were a bit slow for me but after that Ann’s writing really picked up and the story began to flow seamlessly. Ann excelled in her setting. The descriptions were so vivid and I enjoyed learning about Coronation Square and everything that was weird and wonderful about it.

Overall, I found the novel a good suspense read that grips you from beginning to end.  There were enough twists and turns to keep me hooked and I found the plot to be very strong and it held the book together. I look forward to more from Ann and I will definitely go back and read her debut. 

Overall Rating: 8/10
Thank you for stopping by my blog today, be sure to check out the previous stops on what was an incredible blog tour! 

  

International Women’s Day..

 
In the last couple of months I’ve come across an organisation that fights for equality between males and females. There are already a few well known organisations that are challenging society norms as we speak. One such example is the He for She campaign. The reason I’ve decided to speak about the Pink Ladoo campaign is because it’s something that I can relate to intimately.

The Pink Ladoo campaign is also fighting for equality amongst South Asians by selling Pink Ladoos (an Indian sweet) to celebrate the birth of a baby girl.

As someone who comes from an Indian background, I guess it’s safe to say I’ve suffered gender discrimination in a variety of places from a variety of people. The sad thing however, is that my first glimpse of inequality was bestowed upon me before I was even born.

I am a Sikh. My parents were born in Punjab, India. My ancestors were Indian. I have three sisters, no brothers.

To most people the latter part of that statement would not raise eyebrows, however amongst Indians and South Asian culture, the very thought of having four daughters and no brothers would be deemed a criminal offence. Perhaps not as much now but definitely whilst growing up, I was constantly criticised for having no brothers, as were the rest of my siblings.

Growing up around and with Indian traditions and culture was, at times, difficult. As a child I was always made to feel as if my family was incomplete because my parents did not have a son, or because I did not have a brother. I was constantly belittled for being a girl. The statement, “oh only if you were a boy…” was ingrained into my brain from a young age. The fact that I wasn’t good enough because I was a girl, hurt me deeply and annoyed me to no extent.

As I grew up I began to see just how much discrimination females faced within Indian culture and I began to disassociate myself from such ideals. One particular traditional event that still gets on my nerves today is Lohri, this is a traditional event where the birth of a boy is celebrated. Big or small there’s almost certainly a celebration if you’ve given birth to a boy. I am completely against the idea of just celebrating the birth of a boy. A child is a child.

With that in mind, my family and I celebrated the birth of my 9 year old cousin when she was born in 2006. She is the pride and joy of our family and is loved and cherished by us all. She’s brought so much happiness in our lives and I’m so proud to say that she is my sister.

Although my sisters and I have grown up constantly being criticised for our gender, the one person who suffered the most was my mum. There is no one in this world who I love more than my mum. She’s an inspiration to me and she’s the one person who makes me want to be a better person.

Whilst my siblings and I were young, my mum was called names, ridiculed and ostracised for having four daughters. My dad faced difficulties too but most of the wrath was towards my mum. The culprit: friends of our family and relatives. The worst culprits in my eyes.

The constant whispers, gossiping and hateful looks drove my mum crazy but she didn’t let that phase her. She fought against these bullies to give the four of us our best chance at life. The unfortunate thing is that majority of the time it would be women criticising my mum. How a female can treat another female like that is beyond me. I don’t understand what goes on in their minds. The fact that they cherish having baby boys more than girls is laughable because they too, were at one point, baby girls. It astonishes me the lengths some women went to make sure my mum had a boy. My mum is a warrior for fighting against gender discrimination and it’s a subject that I too feel strongly about.

I fully support the Pink Ladoo campaign because a baby girl’s birth should be celebrated. She shouldn’t be shunned by society or aborted because the family wanted a boy. It’s awful the lengths some people still go to in order to have a baby boy. This needs to stop. Girls are as incredible as boys.

We are not the weaker gender, there is no such thing as the ‘weaker’ gender. We should not be dismissed nor should we be made to feel subservient. We give birth to the next generation and as individuals it’s important we take a stand to highlight just how pivotal our role in society and in this world is.

Today is International Women’s Day and I wanted to share this post to highlight that equality starts at home.

Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s fight for equality together.

#PledgeforParity

More information about the Pink Ladoo and He for She campaigns can be found in the following places:

Pink Ladoo He for She

I am afraid..


A couple of months ago my sisters booked tickets to go see an event at the O2 arena, a popular event which many of you in the UK will know as the Jingle Bell Ball. An annual Christmas concert for music lovers. At the time we were very excited when we received tickets and we were looking forward to what would be (we presumed) a joyous and entertaining evening. However in light of the recent terrorist attacks, I was becoming more unsure of actually attending the event.

For the first time in my life I felt this fear that almost consumed me. I didn’t let it show, nor did I speak about it but inside my mind all I could think about was whether or not I would be safe going to the concert. There were moments when I was tempted to just cancel the whole evening. As it turns out, we did end up going and the experience has taught me a lot about fear itself.

The second we arrived at the O2, I had this deep sense of paranoia that was really quite suffocating. I kept thinking of the Paris attacks and the most recent attack at Leytonstone train station in East London. My mind automatically thought the worst, yet there was nothing in my line of vision to even provoke that sense of fear.

As we walked towards the arena entrance I saw an officer with a guard dog, standing and casually looking over the crowd. His seemingly calm demeanour didn’t hide the stark reality of why exactly he was standing guard over this crowd of strangers.

Our first steps into the arena were halted by employees and officers who scanned us and checked our belongings before letting us through into the dome. Although the security went a long way to reassure me that I would be okay, a part of me was saddened by just how much life has changed. The constant reminder of our lives being in danger is always around us and what hurts most is that no matter how much we say we won’t let fear ruin us or how we’ll go to a certain event to defy terrorists, deep down we’re all subjected to this claustrophobic atmosphere every time we’re reminded of what has happened.

We’re all human. Fear is an emotion that is hard to control, just as any other emotion we might feel. It’s brave to say that we will fight it and carry on as normal but are we really ever normal again? Becoming paranoid at a loud bang or a suspicious package is something almost everyone has probably now been a witness to. Being afraid does not mean I am weak, it does not mean I am a coward or that I will let terrorists win.

It means I’m human. I have the ability to feel and be humane because I’m afraid for myself and others. That’s an emotion we can’t force ourselves to ignore and it’s an emotion that we shouldn’t be ashamed of.

I sang and danced at the Jingle Bell Ball whilst also permanently memorising the closest exits to me and where I would need to run should anything happen. Just because I’m living life doesn’t mean I’ll forget, even for a moment, that my life can change within a second. Keeping calm and carrying on is a good motto in itself but so is learning to deal with your emotions. We can’t control emotions as much as we’d like to, so don’t hide them. Don’t be afraid of fear, instead accept it and accept that it will be a part of you.

This whole experience taught me that fear doesn’t have to be a weakness, it can be a strength. For one, I’ve become more vigilant and if you want to call that paranoia then you can. I’d rather be paranoid than sorry.

The point of this post wasn’t to demoralise any of you but for you to understand that at the end of the day it’s okay to be afraid and that we are better off sharing our vulnerabilities rather than hiding them away where they constantly eat at us. We are sadly living in a time where we have to live amongst monsters who wish to destroy the peace within humanity. They are monsters, who are incapable of feelings and emotions. But we are not, and that’s what makes us different. Our bravery, courage, strength and yes our fear makes us human and as humans we should use our emotions to make this world a better place. I’m not ashamed to say I’m afraid because I know, for me, being scared does not mean that I am not strong and I know that I will never give up without a fight.

Be afraid, be scared, accept fear as a part of yourself because it is fear that will give you the courage, strength and bravery you need to fight against monsters. What makes us different is our ability to feel. Emotions are a powerful part of our body and mind and with that we can create a world where we can eliminate the evil that is incapable of any feeling.

BLOG TOUR: Wish Upon a Christmas Cake by Darcie Boleyn..

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Today my blog hosts the first review stop for the wonderful new novel by Darcie Boleyn, Wish Upon a Christmas Cake. There’s also a fab giveaway for all you lucky readers but before kick-starting the review, let’s find out more about our author and her debut novel.


Author Bio:

darcie

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

More information about Darcie and her debut book can be found in the following places:

Official WebsiteFacebookTwitter

Wish Upon a Christmas Cake can be purchased from the following places:

Amazon U.K.Amazon U.S.


Blurb:

The most wonderful time of the year?

Katie Warham has just one wish this year…to have the best Christmas ever!

If only she could lock herself away in a cloud of flour and sugar at her cosy little tearoom, Crumbtious Cakes, instead of spending the festive season trapped with her judgemental mother, crazy Aunt Gina and loved-up celebrity brother Carl…

But Katie never expected her ex-boyfriend, widower Sam – and his two adorable children – to turn up on her doorstep. She didn’t think that any man could tempt her under the mistletoe this year, but Sam might just prove the exception! And as the snow begins to fall and Katie puts the final touches to her famous Christmas cake, she begins to wonder, could her Christmas wish actually come true?

Review:

We’re hurtling towards that time of year where the festive novels are releasing and taking us on a fun-filled journey of love, family and friendship. Wish Upon a Christmas Cake is one such novel that gives us that in spades, and more.

The story revolves around our protagonist Katie, who like most people during this time of year, is really hoping to have at least one Christmas wish come true. Of course, you have to factor in that being a romance novel, happy endings are expected but the road to that dream being fulfilled is a slippery one for Katie as she turns and tumbles her way through her over-bearing mother, hilarious (in my eyes) Aunt and brother and the unexpected but most welcome surprise of seeing her ex-boyfriend again.

Katie is my favourite type of heroine; equal parts strength and vulnerability. She doesn’t let her vulnerability trample over her festive cheer and charges on with her life with a can-do, will-do attitude. It was a delight to get inside her head and see how everything in the past has had an impact on her future. Our hero Sam is just as wonderful and really brings out the best in Katie. The supporting characters add a great mix into this story and entertain you from start to finish, my favourite is definitely Katie’s brother Carl and seeing their bond flourish was one of the great highlights of this book.

The romance itself was perfect for a warm winter’s (or in this case autumn’s) night. I was pleasantly surprised by how sentimental the novel actually was. I had expected the romance to be warm but the emotional side of the story really tugs on the heart strings and is perfect for die-hard romance readers. Darcie does a brilliant job of interweaving the lives of both Katie and Sam and the Christmas season is just the added bonus in this festive romance.

Although there are a lot of Christmas romance novels now being released, I would definitely recommend readers to pick up Wish Upon a Christmas Cake as it gives you the perfect excuse to step into and enjoy the holiday season with a feel good romance novel. Darcie Boleyn’s debut novel is elegantly written and draws you in page after page and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Definitely pick up a copy this Christmas season!

Overall Rating: 8/10  


Giveaway: 

This giveaway could be the perfect gift for you or a friend. All you have to do is click on the following link to enter a draw to win a £20 Amazon giftcard!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bf63305746/

Good luck and thank you for stopping by my blog today, be sure to check out all the other stops on this tour!

Tour banner Christmas for JENNY

BLOG TOUR: The Broken Hearts Book Club by Lynsey James..

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Today my blog hosts a review stop for the wonderful new novel by Lynsey James, The Broken Hearts Book Club. Before kick-starting the review, let’s find out more about our author and her latest novel.


lynsey

 Author Bio:

Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left her job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

More information on Lynsey and her novels can be found in the following places:

Official WebsiteTwitterFacebookAmazon UKAmazon USGoodreads


Blurb:

Secrets never stay buried for long…

Lucy Harper has always been good at one thing: running from her past. But when her beloved Nana Lily passes away she has no choice except to return to the one place in the world she most wants to avoid…

Luna Bay hasn’t changed much in the eight years she has spent in London. The little Yorkshire village is still just as beautiful, but the new pub landlord is a gorgeous addition to the scenery!

Lucy only intended to stay for a day, yet when she discovers that Nana Lily has not only left her a cottage but also ‘The Broken Hearts Book Club’, Lucy is intrigued. Her Nana never have mentioned the club and Lucy can’t wait to get started, but walking into her first meeting she is more aware than ever that her past is finally catching up with her.

One way or another, Lucy must finally face the secrets she’s kept buried for so long – or spend the rest of her life on the run…

Review:

I usually don’t let book covers form my opinion on a book but from the very beginning I was hooked by this gorgeous cover and I knew instantly that I had to absolutely have a read of this book. I’m so glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed Lynsey’s novel.

This is my second James novel and  I was delighted by the way in which Lynsey created a warm and wonderful world that allowed me to escape for a few hours.

The plot of the novel revolves around our protagonist, Lucy Harper, who is returning home to Luna Bay, after a very long time to fulfill her late grandmother’s wishes. Lucy has been running from her past her whole life but when she arrives back home, her past finds a way of catching up with her. With lots of love, laughter and warmth, Lynsey unravels a story that brings you so much joy.

Although the initial premise is quite similar to a lot of romance novels, I really liked Lynsey’s take on it. She has a way with words that entrances the reader and forces them to keep reading on. Her writing is quite reminiscent of some popular American romance authors that I love and I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr.

The characters in this novel are all vibrant and relatable. Lucy makes for a charismatic protagonist who’s dealt with life as she thought best. I admired her and found her to be a wonderful character who blossoms as the story goes by. Having a strong protagonist is a plus but the supporting characters within the story are the perfect icing on the cake. Lynsey’s done a good job of creating a cast of characters that enlighten this tale of romance and intrigue.

I’ve been reading a lot of books where I’ve had to analyse every page in depth, so it was nice to break out of that to enjoy an easy read that allows you to relax and unwind. Although the ending is predictable I liked knowing that this was a no fuss, solid romance that would make me smile and that’s exactly what I got. Perfect for a cold rainy day and to curl up in front of the fire type book, that romance fans will enjoy. Lynsey writes wonderfully entertaining books and I very much look forward to her next.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Thank you for stopping by my blog today, be sure to check out all the other stops on this tour!

Tour banner broken hearts for JIN

 

Important Notice – Part 3..

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Unfortunately, as I have once again started my studies at university it has become difficult to update my blog every week. From now on I’ll only be posting reviews and other posts when I have some time. Every Thursday no longer exists, instead every time I have time I will either post a book review or blog post.

I’d like to thank everyone who still reads my blog even though I’m not the most consistent blogger. I appreciate all the support but from now on I’d like to post when I have the time to put effort into my posts and not just post any old rubbish for the sake of it.

Thank you for all the love and support you have all given this blog, I hope to see you along my journey of blogging.

In the meantime please do take time out to look around my blog, and I’ll see you soon! 🙂