Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag 2020

Hello dear fellow book lovers! Today I will be sharing my book choices for this MID-YEAR BOOK FREAKOUT TAG!

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag 2020!

June has come and passed us by, tipping us into the second half of this astonishing year. I’m sure you can easily decipher this both ways – half the year has passed by so fast and yet one wonders where the six months went. As a person from Assam, India, I have seen my own share of ups and down since December of 2019 when the anti-CAA protests shook my motherland and many of us Gen X to Gen Z realized and lived through ‘curfews’. Many of us went out and took to the streets to protest and ever since then, as these state-wide protests delayed finals and pushed them into January 2020, we were convinced that that was it. We had seen our fair share and it was enough. But it was not so. The movie wasn’t yet over.

It was the 15th of March, Sunday and I was lying on my bed, sad as I had just bid farewell to my friend who had come over for a weekend sleepover. That evening things took an unbelivable turn. It was declared that all educational institutions would be closed off from the next day, i.e., the 16th of March. And that’s the way it has been so far. It is July and I can see so end to this lockdown, what with the numbers going up everyday.

I think that was a pretty long introduction for this blogpost, or a rant, rather, but the word ‘freakout’ in the title itself perhaps sanctions that. And as we all know, 2020 is no ordinary year.

Nonetheless, today I want to share my books for this awesome tag created by Chami and Ely.

T A G Q U E S T I O N S

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020 – SWIMMING IN THE DARK by Tomas Jedrowski.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020 – THE VANISHING STAIR by Maureen Johnson.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to – A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A. Brown.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year – THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones.

5. Biggest disappointment – none, tbh…

6. Biggest surprise – AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Kelly McWilliams.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you) – Sarah J Maas!

8. Newest fictional crush – Jason from THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST, by Abby Jimenez.

9. Newest favourite character – Bryce Quinlan from CRESCENT CITY: HOUSE OF EARTH AND BLOOF, by Sarah J Maas.

10. Book that made you cry – THE TROUBLE WE KEEP by Cara Devlin.

11. Book that made you happy – APHRODITE MADE ME DO IT by Trista Mateer.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received) – A FORT OF NINE TOWERS by Qais Akbar Omar.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? – NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo, ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan, THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt, and FIND ME by Andre Aciman.

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Trust The Universe: A review

Trust the Universe by Dhiraj Taneja is a book that really puts forward the law of attraction. As long as you work hard and wish for something, the universe surely grants it to you.

synopsis

You are the universe.

Our strongest, most powerful connection to all the stars, the cosmos, and everything else around us that can guide us, is actually within us.
So often, when we get caught up in thinking that we need to “trust the universe,” we somehow think some external force is going to swoop into our lives and save us from all the challenges we are experiencing.

You know those moments when you tell yourself, “I just gotta trust the universe.” Whether it’s because things in your life feel chaotic or just plain overwhelming, sometimes you just know you need to surrender and learn to trust that things will work out.

In this book, the author wants to tell you that the universe indeed is a wish-granting machine. This universe literally gives you what you wish for. 

Also from the author Master the Money Game – Financial Freedom

my review
Trust the Universe

I was looking forward to picking up this book as I had previously read another one by this author ( Master the Money Game – Financial Freedom ), which was comparatively different – on finance. So, of course, I had to pick it up and see how it goes for myself.

What I learned

Here are some valuable lessons I took from this book:
1. You should always practice gratitude and the art of giving.
(This is also something that the author stressed upon in FINANCIAL FREEDOM)

2. The author also begins by talking about assets and liabilities. Having read both these two books, I found that this particular aspect of repetition dragged the flow, a bit. As such, I do think you should read this book first before you pick up FINANCIAL FREEDOM.

3. The importance of learning. As my father keeps on telling me, knowledge is like an inverted pyramid and there is no end. As such, always keep learning.

4. The author also talks about budgeting, how expenses should be lesser than income, etc. He also included some helpful debt repayment tips and tricks, which I am sure will be helpful for many.

5. Planning ahead – and I personally agree with this because having a bullet journal has really improved my life.

6. He also stresses a lot on the importance of lifestyle changes. It is very important and beneficial for us to surround ourselves with people who will inspire us and push us forward in life, instead of dragging us down.

Other aspects of the book

The author also talks about how one can grow his confidence, avoid procrastination, understanding perseverance, etc. Overall, the book is divided into concise 9 chapters, each of which delves deep into the various topics which will undoubtedly be helpful to many of the readers.
Honestly, if you are looking for some short inspirational read that instead of boring you will actually propel you forward, then definitely go ahead with this one.

What did not work for me

However, having read FINANCIAL FREEDOM, it is easy to see that the ideas he shares in that book pretty much evolved from this book itself. And as such, I found it a bit repetitive and that is where the problem came in for me. However, apart from that, I do think it was a very good book that was beneficial in its essence.

Verdict:

It was an interesting read overall and I rated it 3/5 stars!

Goodreads
Amazon

Videos!

Youtube video review of TRUST THE UNIVERSE

Youtube video review of MASTER THE MONEY GAME: FINANCIAL FREEDOM

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Ignited Emotions: A Poetry Collection

Ignited Emotions is a poetry collection by the book blogger Devanshi Sanghani. It is her debut collection.

Ignited Emotions
Ignited Emotions
synopsis

This book is a compilation of quotes and poetry that I have written over the years. This book is a journey of heartbreak from people leaving but also is a journey where we find ourselves in difficulty to pursue what we truly want to achieve. It is about accepting who you truly are, accepting life in its best form, and accepting the struggles that will take you to a better place. The words are meant to ignite your innermost feelings.

my review

Ignited Emotions is a little book of poetry, one that I had the pleasure of reading. Firstly, thank you for letting me read this book Devanshi and I wish you all the luck in this new sphere of your life.

The collection encompasses various short poems as well as a few long ones, a few write-ups, etc. There were also very aesthetic illustrations accompanying each piece of work. New age poetry has totally overtaken our lives especially because of the brilliant union of deep thought which are relevant today, and simple language, unlike the comparatively literary and complex ones which are admittedly still present.

The themes that were reflected in this work were those of self-acceptance, how seeking validation from others may not be the way to go, love and heartbreak, moving on, self-love, and giving oneself another chance, how self-pity is not worth it, etc. I have a few favourite ones which I shall include here.

I found that this book really tried to reinforce the idea of self-love and how it is essential in today’s world. After all, if you can’t give yourself time to heal and basically help yourself, how can you truly help someone else?

Verdict

It was a pretty good collection. There could have been a few modifications to the editing but considering it is a debut, it was pretty good. I rated it 3/5 stars.

Links:

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ARC Review of the spiritual book “UNBECOMING”

Unbecoming is a unique novel on its own right. Part-memoir, part-spiritual guide, and part-self help, this book comes out shining like a beacon, heralding forth a new era of spirituality.

Unbecoming: The Way Ahead pic
Unbecoming: The Way Ahead
synopsis
Unbecoming: The Way Ahead
Unbecoming: The Way Ahead

A Spiritual Journey

In today’s testing times, it is very essential for a highly evolved species like us, to know the reason why we are here. Technologically and in every other way, we have reached heights, that could only be imagined of. we have emphasized too much on the outside world, though, and in the process, the inner world, or that which is keeping you alive, is being overlooked. We are slowly understanding that material aspirations can only so much as fulfilling his desires, and wants to expand, as much as possible. This is because his true identity is that of expansiveness.

He does do not begin anywhere, nor does he end anywhere. Mysticism and the search for Truth have therefore begun to be seen as a way of understanding life that throbs within him. There is a huge shift in consciousness that s being experienced, globally, as never has spirituality and the need for it, been felt so intensely. This book is thus an attempt to help you visit that space within and try to, therefore, understand better what is it we have come here to do, who we are, and what is all this we see around us! In the author’s words –

“Through Unbecoming: The Way Ahead, I intend to reach out to all chosen Halers, Teachers and Therapists, who , in the coming months will play and huge role in the shifts we are witnessing now”

You can check out the Youtube video here:

my review

From the very first few pages, it was clear what the aim of the book would be (or at least, what the aim would be in my perception). I felt that it was a lot about Man and his journey in life. More specifically, his journey towards finding out his purpose.

Significance of the title

If we break down the work Unbecoming into “un” and “becoming”, it is clear what the general meaning is. To ‘unbecome’ is to reverse all the happenstance and experiences that have shaped you into the man you are today. As the author says, it is to peel back the layers of ego, belief system, prejudices, etc, and to unlearn so many things in order to understand existence.

How this spiritual journey began

The manuscript has a rather novel concept – the protagonist is shown as an aware and mindful being from his very birth. He registers his surroundings post his birth. From this very beginning few pages, one of the most important themes of the work is established.

“None of them seemed to recognize him and yet expressed sentiment of adortrion and happiness, only becasue it was expected of them”

Moreover, the husband is shown as someone who does not really want to go to the hospital to see his wife and son, but does so, because it is expected of him. These details really establish and give proof towards the fake and phony behavior that is so prevalent today. Do people really mean what they say or what they do?

Other Important Themes

The other theme covered elaborately by the author is that of SEXUALITY AND GENDER and not being comfortable in one’s body, therefore, GENDER IDENTITY.

The Spiritual truth about perception

Therein lies the crux of the matter. We are so enveloped by the emotions we MUST display, the standards we MUST possess; that amidst all these MUSTs and SHOULDs we lose our own voice and our individuality.

There is no universal truth in life. No one is either fully right or wrong. Truth in itself is a relative term and thus subject to change according to the individual’s background. However, emotions and feelings are universal and true. How one behaves towards others is essentially a reflection of the individual and so, a reflection of the entire humankind.

The Spiritual and motivational aspects

The author’s writing in itself is very inspirational. It touches you and compels you to wake up and take charge of yourself.

“You are the architect of your own life, free to design it any way you like”

As an everyday person, one might consider himself to be rather ordinary; not convincing enough in the essence of their being. But as the author says, what matters is that you have to CHOOSE to be powerful. That in itself also really reinforces the idea of balance between Destiny/Fate and your Will.

Writing style

The writing was very compelling and the most important feature of this book is how this story, or memoir or autobiography rather, has been tailored so as to read like a fictional novel. In this scenario it is very much alike to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

There are also poems or rather verses (they were still beautifully poetic), at the end of each chapter, followed by meditation exercises. This book can be read as one for personal development which is all-round and holistic, and it can also be read by couples as well, for it teaches how to draw strength from oneself and for oneself to be established as complete individuals first.

Verdict:

The book is a lot about transformation. I would say the first character just proves that if you are open to learning, you will only grow and learn more as Tim passes you by. I rate it 4/5 stars!

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What a Time to be Alive: A Review

“What a Time to be Alive” by Ajay Ramanathan is a fun yet introspective poetry collection, reflective of modern society.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external forces.

what a time to be alive
what a time to be alive
synopsis

This book may make you smile or this book may make you sigh. This book may make you ponder or it may force you to surrender. This book may challenge your convictions. It may even change your mind. But in the end, this book will make you say- ‘Ah! What a time to be alive’

my review

From the very beginning “What A Time to be Alive” grabbed my attention and I was thoroughly touched, amused, introspected, was despondent, and also laughed. This is a collection of poems that are varied in their subject matter, and their seriousness (or lack thereof), but are all interconnected by the same voice which seems to the recite the poems in the same modernist detached tone, while also imperceptibly talking about emotions. 

Diversity of topics:

That is to say, I was buoyed by the sheer diversity of the range of topics of these pieces. The poet makes references to global warming, sexism, and rape culture, survival versus living, social media as a boon/bane, the resolute nature of man in the face of hardships, anxiety, modern afflictions and addictions, illusions that mock us and our desires, and so on. But then, there are also quite a few really funny poems that will make you laugh out loud and just have a good time.

My favorites!

Before we continue, here are a few of my favorite ones. They are the weird but oh-so-real kind, that as a reader who liked them, I need to question what that says about myself! So in no particular order, my favorite poems from this collection include,

  • I want to
  • Conveyor Belt
  • The Ideal Relationship
  • Just Can’t Find the Feeling
  • Bags

Writing style

The writing style, like I mentioned before is kind of at a stark contrast with the emotions the words portray. In that, I believe that author has been able to well portray the kind of modernist emotional detachment of the modernist man from his emotions. Even when he talks about these deep thoughts, the modernist man is at least superficially, if not emotionally as well, is shrouded by a layer of detachment.

There is also a rhyming scheme present at times which makes the tones and the recitation a delight to thrive in. I would recommend perhaps reciting out loud the poems for that is a different experience altogether!

Title

The title is an apt one for this collection I believe. Despite the seriousness (or lack thereof) of the poems, they are all emotions and experiences we all go through, albeit at different points in our life. In that, the author has hit the nail right on the head! I love that on one level or the other, the reader is able to connect with them, just because of this relatable nature of each of these poems.

Verdict:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this poetry collection and it is one I definitely recommend to all the readers out there. I rate it 4.5/5 stars!

Links:

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Invincible You: A Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external forces.

invincible you 3
invincible you 3

If you’d rather check out the Youtube video, here you go!

synopsis

Why do we avoid things that let us down? Instead, why not use that to fuel to transform ourselves? Imagine you are afraid of something. Would you rather run away from it or overcome it to get to the next level? You can either let fear scare you or you can face it and channelize it to boost you to transform. Failure is inevitable but the mindset to be invincible can make you reach your goals faster. When you are on your deathbed, what will hurt you the most? Your failures or regrets? It is better to have tons of failures in life than regrets.
This book is a phenomenal blend of description and real-life incidents to help you develop a different perspective and look at the world differently. The real-time incidents will blow your mind and compel you to think, “If this guy can do it, why can’t I?” This book will serve as fuel to drive your life invincibly. If you feel you are invisible to everyone, you are just ordinary and feel stuck in life, yet you are hungry to transform, this is the book for you. 

my review

I for one, am quite choosy when it comes to non-fiction books, especially the self-help, motivational genre. That is because quite a few books in this category come off as too preachy and simply boring. But I was in for a nice treat for INVINCIBLE YOU, by Mehmood R Shariff. Yes it is what we can call a self-help book but it is not at all preachy, and that made sure that it got my full attention in the beginning. In fact, it is quite conversational in tone, informal and very much relatable for the average person, dealing with so many issues, whether internal or external.

Themes:

The book is full of stories pertaining to the author’s childhood and the experiences he had, and although different because of the health issues, they are essentially the same – of self-doubt, negativity, low self-esteem etc. But what was different in this book is that the author is able to connect with the reader – therein lies the value of a book I think. If the author is able to connect with the reader via his writing, the words take on a different meaning entirely for the reader – it is much more beneficial and touching, in that way. His stories were also interspersed with the important experiences, which shaped him. Getting a glimpse of that was actually very informative.

Perception:

The book also talks a lot about perceptions – it is your perception that shapes you and pushes your forward (or pulls you back from succeeding). What is important is that we turn each of our failure into a learning lesson and learn from it. We also need to be positive in our outlook and that is also something the author focused on, throughout the book.

The Writing Style:

The writing style really gets to you. Early on, there is an example of the bungee jumping and I felt like I was there, waiting in line to do it! I was short of breath and so excited for it! So that is to say that the author really is able to connect with the reader. There were also inclusions of various people who made it big, as one could say, and the author included their different life stories, the difficulties they faced and how to coped with them, in order to be where they are now. Few of these people include (and I bet you have already heard of them) – Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.

Also, kudos to the author for making it really systematic – the entire book was separated into 10 chapters and then further sub-divisions also broke down each subject into tiny components so that it was easier for me as a reader to take in. I really enjoyed the last bit though – the way the author differentiated between introverts, extrovert, and ambiverts, stating their advantages and disadvantages and it really made me believe that in today’s world, it might perhaps be better to be an ambivert.

Verdict:

Overall, I really found this a good and helpful read. I have acquired a few lessons from it as well, and in that, I believe the author has been successful. I rate it 4/5 stars. Read on to see the top 5 lessons I got from the book! Alternately, just watch the Youtube video to hear me elaborate on them all!

Invincible You 2
  1. Think positively! It is all about perceptions!
  2. Be original! Don’t be afraid to do YOUR thing!
  3. Have a mentor!
  4. Be self-disciplined because motivation may not always be there!
  5. Be kind and smile!

Links:

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Invincible You

April and May wrap-up! 2020 Book reviews!

Hey guys! I hope you are all doing safe. Today is day 79 in self-isolation for me and I have to say, I am doing much better than before. When I first started to isolate myself at home (March 16), I was very hopeful to us this break to read a lot and work a lot and just to b productive. However, as the days went by, they obviously took a toll. So I suppose it is not surprising that I got into a reading slump. As such, I did not read as much as I would have wanted to.

So anyway, I am going to compile a list of all the books I read during these two months. Today is just the second day of June and I am already more than 50% into my current read which is TRULY DEVIOUS by Maureen Johnson. As such, I think June might be a great reading month; let’s see. So without further ado, I’ll share the books I read in April and May, and attach any posts or videos I may have done for them.

April Books 2020

April Books 2020

Same But Different, by Holly Robinson Peete

It was an interesting book as it gave an in-depth view of living with a family member who may be autistic. I rated it 3.75/5 stars and here’s a glimpse of my raw and unedited review I wrote as soon as I finished it:

the feelings portrayed just got to me. The teenage frustration and angst have been portrayed so well.
What I understand is this: if you have a family member who is autistic, he is still your family member. It is perhaps normal and comparatively easy to write about how much you love them.
But opening up about the bad days, the days when you are angry at yourself and at each other – that is something that not everybody can do. Undoubtedly it puts you in a very vulnerable position and not everyone is ready to do that.
But I appreciate the honesty that laced these fictional albeit inspired by real people. I rated it 3.75 stars.

In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle

“You mistake love. Do you think it has to have a future in order to matter, but it doesn’t. It’s the only thing that does not need to be come at all. It matters only insofar as it exists. Here. Now. Love doesn’t require a future.”

4/5 stars. The way the author has constructed the plot – the way the past and future are intertwined, is so cool. I never imagined that the story would end up the way it did. It was totally unpredictable and up until the very end, I was wondering how the author would tie it all up. The characters all went through great development – their arcs were just as good and that especially of Dannie. her independence becomes stronger towards the end, from the beginning when she was kind of a flat character.
The interrelationships between the characters were also very dynamic and I loved the cute and brilliant friendship of Dannie and Bella!! I finished listening to this audiobook in just a few hours and I was a mess when it ended. I had to stop and stare into the distance and digest what happened. It was a beautiful piece of art. Special thanks to Libro.fm for sharing this meaningful ALC!

The Convenient Wife, by Penny Wylder

2/5 stars. A quick romance read.

Space Struck, by Paige Lewis

4/5 stars. I could hardly believe that this poetry collection was a debut. Replete with animal imagery, this is just the collection for the times we are going through.
I loved that the poems had so much depth and weren’t superfluous (as I find many contemporary pieces can be). There are various layers of emotions, shaded with self-awareness. I also loved the harmonious union of science and nature and the urbane. Thus, it is no wonder that I rated it 4.5 stars! Special thanks to Libro.fm for sharing this meaningful ALC!

The Happy Ever After Playlist, by Abby Jimenez

5/5 stars!
OH MY GOD!
If I knew adult romances were this good, I would have picked one up sooner!
I absolutely loved this book, and thanks to Libro.fm for the ALC!

Firstly, the characters were fleshed out so so well! The characters arcs especially were some of ht most realistic that I have ever come across in contemporary novels. The way Sloan processed through her grief was really touching and felt so real, that I was sobbing my heart out at times.
But then again, with Jason came his amazing flirting and I couldn’t help but blush as he made my toes curl with his teasing! These characters just felt so so real – (you definitely have to read this book!)

The other relationships were just so good. Sloan’s friendship with her friend Christian and Josh and Oliver (I only wish we could have seen more of Oliver in the novel) was amazing. It was beautiful and as I listened to this audiobook during the Corona Virus lockdown, I felt so grateful that I had real-life friends like them to help me through. Besides the obvious romance aspect of this book, it taught me to value a lot other things I have in my life.

And how can I even forget Tucker?! Admittedly, I am quite scared of dogs but Tucker just made me wish I had one to call mine – preferably Tucker himself, but I guess you can only wish for one person from a book (and I wished for Jason, duh!)

I absolutely loved this book and would definitely recommend you pick it up as well!
5/5 stars!!!

Christmas With Four Firemen, by K.C. Crowne

3/5 stars. Another quick romance read.

Istanbul: Memories and the City, by Orhan Pamuk

4/5 stars!
Quite an interesting read – it is full of imagery and transports you to Istanbul. The concept of time has been well enmeshed with the imagery as well – because the reader grows up with Pamuk and sees the rise and fall of Istanbul, as it were.
Moreover, because of its autobiographical nature, it tends to be intense and heavy at times so reading it at one go is not advisable. This is rather a book to be enjoyed as you sip on your cup of tea or coffee as it purs outside. I really liked it. My only wish was that the book should have included a bit more of the author’s life.

The Night Country, by Melissa Albert

4/5 stars!
I remember reading THE HAZELWOOD last year and I simply loved it. I was sorry the book ended and was eager to know about what happened AFTER. And I finally got my answer.
Now, firstly, because of the highly atmospheric (or creepy) nature of this series, I think it is best if one listened to it as an audiobook rather than just simply read (or not – not if your scare tolerance is low).
Compared to Book1 I think it falls a bit short, to be honest. But I really do not say that with much conviction, because the overall scenarios of both these books are really different. The superb atmospheric mystery that the author imbibed both books with, more so the magic she imbibed them with, was simply fantastic. I could not have hoped for a possibly better end. I really liked how the story ended.
The juxtaposition of the different worlds and the seamless quality with which they merged with each other, was again, fantastic. I have only the best adjectives to use to describe this book. Honestly, an amazing fantasy, and a twisted modern-day dark fairytale. Do pick it up! 

After She Wrote Him, by Sulari Gentill

4.5/5 stars!

My God! This was a fantastic read. I have never before come across a novel that so well threaded together the lines of literary fiction and crime. So well did this weaving take place that I was facing a dilemma – do I hurry up and finish the book at one go (like I would for any crime novel), or do I savour it and live through it a day at a time (as I do for literary fiction). That is to say, I was torn between my love for it as a crime novel, and contrastingly as literary fiction. AFTER SHE WROTE him is a pioneer in reaching for what has never been reached out for (at least in my humble reading career). If there are more books in this particular niche, I owe it to this, my first such novel, for introducing to this world.
Literary fiction novels have the capacity to make me think and introspect quite a bit. On the other hand, I am a criminal psychologist, trying to figure out the mystery when I read crime fiction. Bringing these together was an utter delight to my mind fortress and I applaud the writer for her superb skill in doing so.
The characters are alive – they jump out of the novel right at you – both with their realistic subtlety and also with the fantastic phantasm that the author creates. I lived through Madeline and I breathed through Edward. And may I just say that this twists your mind? You are left grasping for straws as you oscillate between deciding what is real and what is not.
My only reason for rating this book a 4.5 star and taking away the 0.5 was for the ending which left me pining for a more solid end. But that is not to say that I did not like the ending – in fact, I did. It was, at the same time, more solid and real than it could ever have been. But the book transforms you and you are left, longing to be a part of the lives of these two main characters.
I have really loved this book and can only try my best to persuade you to read it soon! Please do! It is a tour de force!
Thanks to #netgalley for #AfterSheWroteHim !

Foe, by J.M. Coetzee

4/5 stars! I read this for class, and it is a sort of a retelling around Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. It really questions a lot about various important aspects such as the responsibility of the author, the subalterns etc.

May Books 2020

May Books 2020

We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite, by Conyer Clayton

3.75 stars
I think this poetry collection was quite good. The manner of writing was quite superior and the words used really relayed the depth of emotions that were in here. However, the major themes running throughout seem to be that of loss, death (specifically abortion), life, etc. So trigger warning for that.
However, I do have to say that the collection overall, does give out the essence of real life, more or less as one person’s life may be.
The idea of birth is really powerful here and hence a symbol I infer, of hope. Newness is always refreshing and full of hope for the future. There are some beautiful lines here as well, and I highlighted them endlessly. For your reference, I shall share a few here – those that I found spoke volumes within the limited words.
.
Pick me, pluck me, rake me. Arrange me in a vase with water. Bring me inside, ensure my demise.
.
lose your lost love’s name, the one that leaves your throat raw. Don’t you know she dances like that for everyone?
.
You’re overheated, and liable for the burns you create.
.
You can’t run far from a week of heavy drinking, stumbling home hand in hand, secrets spoken in darkness – I’m practicing how I’ll lie in my coffin.
.
The season’s first loss of green escapes like resin from a woodpecker’s house. Lapped up in an eager kiss. Always cold on cold on cold.
.
We may resemble embers draped on the dock, the horizon slimy. A ladder of snake-skins. The dark difference. We are so much calmer, a glowing revolution. I almost didn’t answer you.
.
A lifeboat drifting in the wrong direction.
.
A lifetime spent in yearning.

The Ages of Lulu, by Almudena Grandes

4/5 stars! this was unlike anything I have ever read and honestly, I think this is going to stay with me for a long time. Pablo and Lulu’s love story is passionate and all-consuming and although this book does tend to delver more into the darker side of sexuality, passion, and love, I think it was done really well.

Take Off Your Startup by Samyak Kumar

4/5 stars! I think this is a really well-compiled work that explores every in and out of the business world. The attractive feature is that this is very much of a manifesto or almanac for the beginners or newbies to pick up. The author has done well in separating and categorizing the topics into step by step procedures. The inclusion of the real-stories was also very inspiring.
As a nonfiction book, this was really well planned out and was very informative. The way the author has included real-life stories in the middle was also a great point as I personally found them very inspiring. It is first reading the how-to that the author points out, and then immediately an example of how it all played out via real-life experiences.
The fact that it shows how you do not need an MBA to start a business – if you have the potential you can achieve anything, plays well throughout the book. As a student and a budding entrepreneur, it gave me quite a few pointers and ideas as to how I can plan ahead and act on it, so that I may achieve my goals. Overall, a really good book that I would recommend to all aspiring entrepreneurs.

Iphigenia at Aulis, by Euripides

4/5 stars. I read it as a part of a readalong where we read many Greek tragedies and oh my god! I am in love. Hoping to read Sophocles, Aeschylus and then maybe explore more.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

4/5 stars!
This was a wonderful memoir, brimming with emotion. It’s about the author growing up in an environment and a world which is not necessarily kind or accepting of Black people, let alone Black gay men. That is not to say that the author’s family was like that.
The whole idea of homosexuality is still one that is fraught with so much tension today – most kids are afraid or apprehensive of ‘coming out’ to their family and friends because, despite the law that does not criminalize it, society has still a long way to go.
The memoir was full of stories and the fact that it was narrated by the author brought a sense of closeness between me as the reader and the writer. It was really emotional, what with all the elements of family, homophobia. sexual awakening, etc.
That is to say, it was a hard-hitting book and a homosexual empowerment manifesto.

Chronicles of Kuru Women: Krishna’s Sister, by Priyanka Bhuyan

4/5 stars!
KRISHNA’S SISTER is the story of Subhadra (sister of Krishna and Balaram, and wife of Arjun). The reason that this book is interesting is that it brings forth a story and gives a voice to this another lesser-known woman from the Mahabharata. Recent mythological fiction novels have become a popular source and stronghold for the feminist viewpoint, with the help of which, the female characters are given a chance to bring their stories to the forefront. We all know that the Mahabharata is full of various related stories, but often they are ignored so as to not confuse the reader.
However, this was a great attempt by the author to share the story of Subhadra, a sister of a God, but also a warrior and an independent and strong woman, on her own terms, as well as a goddess herself, worshipped in the Jagannath temple at Puri.
The story was an emotional one that tugs on my heartstrings. It is about Subhadra – her life and her struggles, and the utter tragedies that befell her. But most of all, it is about how she overcame them all to emerge victoriously.
The author has written the story in a fluid way – we see the elements of family brought in, along with the love shared among brothers and sisters, the romantic love and subsequent pining she finds with Arjuna, and her later strife as a woman in society. The narration was on point, because despite the fact that all of this happened in the epics, thousands of years ago, the reader cannot help but relate with Subhadra. I cried with her, her pain, and her sacrifices. And like her, I too questioned the ways in which women have to sacrifice so much.
The author also explored her journey from being a Princess of the Yadav clan to being a queen in the Kuru dynasty, her relationships, and the dynamics among the Pandavas, with Draupadi and Kunti. Her relationship with Krishna was an adorable one and I loved the glimpses we got of the Lord.
Like all epics, the idea of destiny and fate is very powerful and prevalent here. Just like in the Greek dramas of West, of Sophocles, Homer, and Euripides, the inevitability of fate catching up to you, or the human strife and failure, to outrun it and escape it is very powerful in the Mahabharata as well. Especially if you consider the end of the Yadav clan but the continuation of the Kuru clan with the help of Krishna’s intervention.
The author with her concise writing has kept the reader intrigued and engaged until the very end. I truly enjoyed reading this book and I hope the author comes up with the rest of the books in the series soon!

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

3/5 stars!
It was a good read from the entertainment point of view. Overall, read it in a sort of mindless way perhaps, at least that is how I am going to continue reading the next 2 books. It is an entertaining read (like Twilight was, I suppose) but better not deeply analyze it.
PS. I seriously hope no one gets a sister like Taryn.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*
However I do have a few problems if I think really deep about it.
I think it really kind of says that bullying is okay as long as the bully has certain problems of his own. For Cardan really, the author gives an explanation for why he is cruel (growing up under his evil brother who beats him) and justifies the unkind deeds he does by just saying that he didn’t want anyone to get hurt or to die. I think it is really twisted and feels more like an angsty teen romance. Moreover, then the author seems to sexualize the situation between Jude and Cardan and I was not really okay with it because it kind of seemed sudden and forced and came out of nowhere. The relationship is really toxic and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cardan ends up betraying her or taking a revenge on her or something. He sure seems capable of it.
And Taryn was a bitch, pardon my French. The whole of the fey is weird to be honest, especially when you consider Locke and his relationship with Taryn and Jude.

Normal People, by Sally Rooney

3/5 stars! The first impression I got from the book was that the author informs us simply of what has been happening, and what the characters feel. But then, I quickly realized that it was not indeed so – because along with the protagonists, the reader also introspects and philosophizes with them, essentially moving closer to the question of ‘normality’ in relation to human relationships.
I believe that the title of the book is a paradox. On the one hand, it tells us that it is about normal people that society is filled with, for instance, Marianne and Connell’s friends, as opposed to them both who are weird. But when we look at it from that perspective, we see that it is not really so. Because, when together, Marianne and Connell are ‘normal’ with each other. As such this implies that in the way they different or weird from others, it is a degree of measurement which affects every individual of society – perhaps many of these hide it better and assimilate easily compared to the protagonists. Thus, who are normal people? Everyone and no one, both at the same time. Check out my youtube video!

A Family Affair, by Charlotte Lamb

Another quick romance read. 2/5 stars!

Financial Freedom by Dhiraj Taneja

4/5 stars! Like the name suggests, Master the Money Game: Financial Freedom is a book on how to gain control of your finances. As a student, finance is a topic into which we may hardly delve into, and the management of finances for most of us may extend to just dealing with the pocket money. As such, I think it was the right time for me to have come across this book. Firstly, let me assure you that you do not have to be apprehensive about picking up the book, thinking that it may be too difficult and may go over your head. Believe me, I was apprehensive before I read the book because I really don’t know much about this topic, but I have to say without a doubt, this is a great and helpful read, especially so if you are pretty much a newbie like me.
The writing was informal and really interactive in a way and the language used was easy. What I loved most was that the author did not use very technical terms which would otherwise make it really difficult for many of us to understand. Moreover, the author has included many quotes, which make it again, so much easier to relate with.
Now coming to the actual content, the author talks about various things – all of them important, but let me share a few which I think were relevant. His entire bit on the importance to be aware of one’s financial status hit me very hard. How many of us live by a budget or spent recklessly? In today’s world, it is so necessary to become self-reliant. As such the author’s conversational words relayed the meaning of financial freedom, how it can change one’s life, and how to get financial freedom! The author also gives examples of people like Grant Sabatier, Tony Robbins, Warren Buffet, etc. and as such it really made me, as a reader see that financial independence, financial freedom are reachable and attainable. It does not matter if you are in your early 20s or beyond.
Most importantly, even if you may not be able to inculcate everything that the author has said, this book was still beneficial to you – because the tips he offers are so very practical. And if you think about it, these tips are really effective and will help you! For instance, start budgeting, and cutting excessive spending from your life. And his emphasis on the point of a person’s perspective was also important – you are the master and that is how it should stay. You should never let money become your master.
I think this was a great book that I picked up, and as a person who has started earning and has just entered her 20s, this is the perfect time to start working towards the goals. This was a very helpful book surely! I rate it 4/5! Check out my youtube video!

All the Words Unspoken, by Serena Kaur

3.75/5 stars! All The Words Unspoken was a great book for me to have picked up for the #AsianReadathon. Apart from the obvious Asian rep (Indian, to be specific) the book also focuses on various other important issues.
The main message I seemed to get from the novel was that we cannot depend on others to heal us or make us whole. Rather, we need to fall back upon ourselves to work on our growth and development. Yes, external forces such as family and friends are there to support us (or not), but the ultimate determiner is we ourselves. We cannot let others determine our worth!
When it comes to the characters, their arc was a bit disjointed – especially that of Aryan, I feel. We get a slight glimpse of him towards the beginning and then only towards the, we are bombarded with his POVs. As such, it was kind of difficult for me to retain the fact that this is the same guy. When the story started I genuinely thought it was Maansi’s story but as it progressed, of course, it wasn’t just hers alone. Yet I do think the story focused more on Aryan and less so on Maansi.
Perhaps if the author had decided to reveal Aryan’s POVs a litter sooner, the story would have gone way more smoothly.
The themes covered were like sexuality, homophobia, family, marriage as an institution, societal norms, etc. I do think the idea was a great one and the author did well by mixing all of these together especially in the Indian expatriate community, you could say, where culture, religion, etc play a big influencer in all the decisions the characters make. The way the author has weaved in the different nuances of human behavior, based on nad affected by, external forces, events, experiences, and memory, added a great flavor to the narrative as well.
I also feel that it was a bildungsroman or a coming-of-age story for the two main characters who underwent growth and changed from who they were in the beginning. It is also a story of sexual awakening in a manner, and the author pulled off that aspect really well. And in this regard, I can definitely consider this book along the same shelf as CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.

Toranoi, by Sajid Iqbal

3/5 stars. I thought it was a half-baked story. There is a lot of scope for improvement.

April, May Books 2020
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Financial Freedom: A book review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external forces.

Financial Freedom: Master the Money Game
Financial Freedom: Master the Money Game

If you’d rather check out the Youtube video, here you go!

synopsis

This book is specially meant for beginners who don’t know ABC of finance.If you haven’t started .A great insight into who the real millionaires are – people that live well below their means and achieve great wealth through hard work and savings.Read this if you aim to be a millionaire yourself one day.

my review

Like the name suggests, Master the Money Game: Financial Freedom is a book on how to gain control of your finances. As a student, finance is a topic into which we may hardly delve into, and the management of finances for most of us may extend to just dealing with the pocket money. As such, I think it was the right time for me to have come across this book. Firstly, let me assure you that you do not have to be apprehensive about picking up the book, thinking that it may be too difficult and may go over your head. Believe me, I was apprehensive before I read the book because I really don’t know much about this topic, but  I have to say without a doubt, this is a great and helpful read, especially so if you are pretty much a newbie like me.

Writing Style:

The writing was informal and really interactive in a way and the language used was easy. What I loved most was that the author did not use very technical terms which would otherwise make it really difficult for many of us to understand. Moreover, the author has included many quotes, which make it again, so much easier to relate with.

The Content:

Now coming to the actual content, the author talks about various things – all of them important, but let me share a few which I think were relevant. His entire bit on the importance to be aware of one’s financial status hit me very hard. How many of us live by a budget or spent recklessly? In today’s world, it is so necessary to become self-reliant. As such the author’s conversational words relayed the meaning of financial freedom, how it can change one’s life, and how to get financial freedom! The author also gives examples of people like Grant Sabatier, Tony Robbins, Warren Buffet, etc. and as such it really made me, as a reader see that financial independence, financial freedom are reachable and attainable. It does not matter if you are in your early 20s or beyond.

Perspective:

Most importantly, even if you may not be able to inculcate everything that the author has said, this book was still beneficial to you – because the tips he offers are so very practical. And if you think about it, these tips are really effective and will help you! For instance, start budgeting, and cutting excessive spending from your life. And his emphasis on the point of a person’s perspective was also important – you are the master and that is how it should stay. You should never let money become your master.

Verdict:

I think this was a great book that I picked up, and as a person who has started earning and has just entered her 20s, this is the perfect time to start working towards the goals. This was a very helpful book surely! I rate it 4/5!

Links:

Goodreads
Amazon
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Financial Freedom: Master the Money Game

Normal People: book vs series!

Read on to find out what I thought about the popular new work by Sally Rooney, Normal People – the book and the series. Or if you’d rather just watch the video, check this out!

synopsis

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

my review

First Impressions for NORMAL PEOPLE: book vs the series

The first impression I got from the book was that the author informs us simply of what has been happening, and what the characters feel. But then, I quickly realized that it was not indeed so – because along with the protagonists, the reader also introspects and philosophizes with them, essentially moving closer to the question of ‘normality’ in relation to human relationships. 

This is one of the best adaptations ever. It was just so visually stunning. I was in love with the cinematography, the actors, and the utter depth of emotions they portrayed so well.

Significance of the title: Normal People

I believe that the title of the book is a paradox. On the one hand, it tells us that it is about normal people that society is filled with, for instance, Marianne and Connell’s friends, as opposed to them both who are weird. But when we look at it from that perspective, we see that it is not really so.  Because, when together, Marianne and Connell are ‘normal’ with each other. As such this implies that in the way they different or weird from others, it is a degree of measurement which affects every individual of society – perhaps many of these hide it better and assimilate easily compared to the protagonists. Thus, who are normal people? Everyone and no one, both at the same time.

What I disliked about Normal People, the book:

  1. I feel that perhaps the way in which the story has been written sheds Connell in a much more negative light than it does Marianne as if he deliberately and continually turns to hurt Marianne. He is shown as someone on whom lies the course of the relationship if one could even call it that. Whatever it was, I think that in this regard, the author may have done Connell an injustice in the way he was portrayed. Bringing about the mental health angle seemed like a convenient excuse for that.
    • Once Marianne tells Connell towards the middle, “You’re definitely drunk if you’re flirting with me.” The idea that Marianne now inevitably thinks that Connell has to be drunk to flirt with her, as if he wouldn’t do something like that (he doesn’t) when he is sober, does not sit well with me. Why does he so need alcohol to lower his inhibitions with her?
  2. As for Marianne, I believe that the author could have let us know a bit more about her family life – to show why she is the way she is. Her family is not the best – she has an abusive brother who hits her (“sometimes”) and who is continually passive-aggressive, tormenting her emotionally and psychologically. The mother is no better, to be honest. When Alan, her brother spits on her face, the mother fails to reprimand her wayward son and instead questions Marianne how she could deal with the real world outside when she could not deal with “a little sibling rivalry”. She then continues to mock her saying, “You think you are special, do you?”

The writing style and narrative structure of Sally Rooney

  1. As Rooney describes the scenes, the reader gets spectacular imagery as if a literary montage.
  2. I feel like the book solely relies on emotion and catharsis it can erupt in the reader.
  3. There are narrative skips and jumps, meaning that the timeline is not really linear. In the beginning, these jumps are not between very different stages, but as we move further into the narrative, these jumps are considerably disconnected as if snippets of memory that assault the protagonists as they live their life, characteristic of the modern fragmented soul, inevitably coming closer and closer to each other. 
  4. The story is also written in a rather episodic format, and now that I look back and introspect, this is how we humans, ‘normal people’ like us look back and retrospect.

Important themes in the book

  1. Isolation/detachment/aimlessness – there is a sense of detachment which is weird but then so reflective of normal modern society. Marianne feels that she is not part of the life in Carricklea.
    • “Really she has everything going on for her. She has no idea what she’s going to do with her life.”
  2. The lack of rootedness/a sense of not belonging/transience –
    • “Marianne had the sense that her real-life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t know if she would ever find out where it was and become part of it.”
    • Connell really thinks of the transient nature of things when he is on the Europe trip. I was really reminded of Holden Caulfield at this point and how he was absolutely disgusted with phoniness.      
  3. Originality as something deviant of ‘normal’ behavior –
    • Marianne appreciates beauty in its raw and primal form when she wants to see Connell having sex.
    • Connell is originally unwilling to let others know about his ‘relationship’ with Marianne because since she was not considered a ‘normal’ person in their circle, any association with her would taint him as ‘weird’ like her, and not a normal person, something that Connell desperately wants.
    • “Do we ever say what we mean?”
  4. Identity – The imposter syndrome was brought in well, in this aspect. As Connell grapples with his identity in college, the threader also starts to question these issues that plague all humans.
  5. Stability – In the beginning, I also feel that both these characters, as actual human beings with relation to each other, are lacking in conviction. Why cannot they assert and say that they want something rather than saying, and I quote from the book, “Say you want me to stay and I will”.
    • Then, I feel like Connell truly feels stability when he rescues Marianne from Alan and then confronts him, threatening to kill him if he ever hurt Marianne again. That is the point of change for him, I believe and he starts to work on himself, truly. He is really open to her at the moment.
    • “Trust me. I love you, I’m not going to let anything like that happen to you again.”

The excellence of the series!

  1. I loved the Italian countryside the most. The reflections on the pool as Connell calmed Marianne after the fight with Jamie was also stunning.
  2. I think that the book is also a very emotional one and the series has done fantastic in that it was able to bring onto screen those emotions. I did not cry when I read the book but I sobbed while I watched the grand acting of these two actors.
  3. The subtle changes that were in the series (from the novel) just made it more heart-wrenching. The way Connell was kind of a passive person who went with the flow and denied his relationship with Marianne was again heart wrenching on screen.
    • Also the way Connell sobbed after the Debs party – that just got to me.
  4. Moreover, in the book Marianne never really says ‘I love you’ to Connell (in the series she does), and so you have to ask who is the more repressed person here.
  5. The portrayal of when Connell was disgusted with the phoniness of university students who do not read the books but act as if they have, was also on point. This bit was better portrayed on the show. The imposter syndrome stuff was done well here.
    • The series also delves more into the mental health issues of Connell and the deplorable family conditions and relationships of Marianne – the abuse and everything.
  6. Regarding Marianne’s trauma (from the abuse she has suffered at the hands of her brother), she has come to believe that she deserves the bad treatment she often gets. In this context, I do have to say that the overlap that was done in the series – Lukas and her in the photoshoot session, while Connell reads his email in the background about what he thinks about this – that just because bad things may have happened to her, doesn’t mean that she deserves them, was very insightful and amazing. Something that the book was unable to do.
  7. The disconnect from life was shown very aesthetically via the slow sequences, for Marianne and Connell.
  8. The series also did well with the portrayal of other characters especially that of Niall and Lorraine.
    • The series also better explored the character of Niall. In the book, I honestly didn’t care about him enough – he just wasn’t there enough.
    • The mother-son dynamic was awesome in the book and it was just as awesome in the series. I loved it.

The endings!

The end of the book left me dissatisfied because it felt like they had not learned a lesson that they need to communicate! Instead, Marianne just pushes Connell away yet again yet simply telling him that she loves him.

In this regard, I think that the series does better. It establishes the two characters as two individuals on their own, yet with an undeniable need and want for each other. They are bound forever and in a way, they are in this healthy relationship that shows them their value based on their individual selves. In a way, it is a new beginning for them. 

My ratings!

  • I rated Normal People, the book, 3/5 stars!
  • I rated Normal People, the series, 4.5/5 stars!
Normal People by Sally Rooney: my ratings!
Normal People by Sally Rooney: my ratings!

Links

Goodreads
Add it on Goodreads!
Amazon
Get the book on Amazon!
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Book review: Krishna’s Sister by Priyanka Bhuyan (#BIRTHDAYBLOGHOP)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external forces.

synopsis

This is the story of a woman who had everything yet who lost everything and rose when everyone gave up to finally lead the empire of Bharatvarsha. For the first time, take a sneak peek into the life of the sister of the God who shaped Mahabharata to become the progenitor of the Kuru race after everything was reduced to nothing in the battle of Kurushetra.
Krishna’s sister is a mythological fiction of the life and story of Princess Subhadra in the backdrop of the great Mahabharat war and the sacrifice and pain that she went through. It also explores the relationship she shared with her brother and mentor Lord Krishna as well as her husband Arjuna and co-wife Draupadi. Subhadra is also worshipped as a deity in the Jagannath Puri, one of the holiest shrines in India.

my review

KRISHNA’S SISTER is the story of Subhadra (sister of Krishna and Balaram, and wife of Arjun). The reason that this book is interesting is that it brings forth a story and gives a voice to this (yet another) lesser-known woman from the Mahabharata. Recent mythological fiction novels have become a popular source and stronghold for the feminist viewpoint, with the help of which, the female characters are given a chance to bring their stories to the forefront. We all know that the Mahabharata is full of a multitude of related stories, but often they are ignored so as to not confuse the reader. However, this was a great attempt by the author to share the story of Subhadra, a sister of a God, but also a warrior and an independent and strong woman, on her own terms, as well as a goddess herself, worshipped in the Jagannath temple at Puri.

Krishna's Sister (ebook)
Krishna’s Sister (ebook)

The story was an emotional one that tugged on my heartstrings. It is about Subhadra – her life, her struggles, and the utter tragedies that befell her. But most of all, it is about how she overcame them all to emerge victoriously.

The author has written the story in a fluid way – we see the elements of family brought in, along with the love shared among brothers and sisters, the romantic love and subsequent pining she finds with Arjuna, and her later strife as a woman in society. The narration was on point, because despite the fact that all of this happened in the epics, thousands of years ago, the reader cannot help but relate with Subhadra. I cried with her, her pain, and her sacrifices. And like her, I too questioned the ways in which women have to sacrifice so much.

The author also explored her journey from being a Princess of the Yadav clan to being a queen in the Kuru dynasty, her relationships, and the dynamics among the Pandavas, with Draupadi and Kunti. Her relationship with Krishna was an adorable one and I loved the glimpses we got of the Lord.

Like all epics, the theme of destiny and fate is very powerful and prevalent here. Just like in the Greek dramas of West – of Sophocles, Homer, and Euripides – the inevitability of fate catching up to you, or the human strife (and further inevitable failure) to outrun it and escape it is very powerful in the Mahabharata as well. Especially if you consider the end of the Yadav clan but the fateful continuation of the Kuru clan with the help of Krishna’s intervention.

The author with her concise writing has kept the reader intrigued and engaged until the very end. I truly enjoyed reading this book and I hope the author comes up with the rest of the books in the series soon! I rated it 4/5 stars!

Nika with Krishna's Sister
Nika with Krishna’s Sister

Corporate Communication professional, an avid travel blogger, foodie, and movie buff all rolled into one, Priyanka Bhuyan has been doing freelancing since her college days. Her debut book-Kaleidoscope of Love, a collection of short stories is on the varied emotions of love was published in the year 2019 and was adjudged among the top 100 debut authors by Literature Light. She hails from the beautiful green state of Assam and Guwahati is where she calls her home. Currently in a workaholic phase, she has her parents, brother and her dog as her family. For more info you can follow her on girlsliketotravel.com

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This post is part of #Birthdaybloghop by Vidhya Thakkar and Neelam Sharma should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Hosts are not responsible for any infringement caused.”

After She Wrote Him: A review

AFTER SHE WROTE HIM
AFTER SHE WROTE HIM

Thanks to Netgalley for this fantastic read!

My God! This was an astounding read. I have never before come across a novel that so well threaded together the lines of literary fiction and crime. So well did this weaving take place that I was facing a dilemma – do I hurry up and finish the book at one go (like I would for any crime novel), or do I savour it and live through it a day at a time (as I do for literary fiction). That is to say, I was torn between my love for it as a crime novel, and contrastingly as literary fiction.

AFTER SHE WROTE HIM is a pioneer in reaching for what has never been reached out for (at least in my humble reading career). If there are more books in this particular niche, I owe it to this, my first such novel, for introducing to this world.

Literary fiction novels have the capacity to make me think and introspect quite a bit. On the other hand, I am a criminal psychologist, trying to figure out the mystery when I read crime fiction. Bringing these together was an utter delight to my mind fortress and I applaud the writer for her superb skill in doing so.

The characters are alive – they jump out of the novel right at you – both with their realistic subtlety and also with the fantastic phantasm that the author creates. I lived through Madeline and I breathed through Edward. And may I just say that this twists your mind? You are left grasping for straws as you oscillate between deciding what is real and what is not.

My only reason for rating this book a 4.5 star and taking away the 0.5 was for the ending which left me pining for a more solid end. But that is not to say that I did not like the ending – in fact, I did. It was, at the same time, more solid and real than it could ever have been. But the book transforms you and you are left, longing to be a part of the lives of these two main characters.

I have really loved this book and can only try my best to persuade you to read it soon! Please do! It is a tour de force!
Thanks to #netgalley for #AfterSheWroteHim !

Check out the book on Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads TBR list!

Other popular posts: How to Read More Books!, How to Ace Online University, Delving Into Audiobooks! etc

All the Words Unspoken: A Review

All The Words Unspoken

Thanks to Lizzie from #RedDoorPress for providing the e-arc. This does not in any way influence my rating. All opinions expressed are my own.

All The Words Unspoken by Serena Kaur was a great book for me to have picked up for the #AsianReadathon . Apart from the obvious Asian rep (Indian, to be specific) the book also focuses on various other important issues.

Independence/Self-dependence

The main message I seemed to get from the novel was that we cannot depend on others to heal us or make us whole. Rather, we need to fall back upon ourselves to work on our growth and development. Yes, external forces such as family and friends are there to support us (or not), but the ultimate determiner is we ourselves. We cannot let others determine our worth!

Characters and their portrayal

When it comes to the characters, their arc was a bit disjointed – especially that of Aryan, I feel. We get a slight glimpse of him towards the beginning and then only towards the end, are we bombarded with his POVs. As such, it was kind of difficult for me to retain the fact that this is the same guy. When the story started I genuinely thought it was Maansi’s story but as it progressed, of course, it wasn’t just hers alone. Yet I do think the story focused more on Aryan and less so on Maansi.

Perhaps if the author had decided to reveal Aryan’s POVs a litter sooner, the story would have gone way more smoothly.

A coming-of-age

I also feel that it was a bildungsroman or a coming-of-age story for the two main characters who underwent growth and changed from who they were in the beginning. It is also a story of sexual awakening in a manner, and the author pulled off that aspect really well. And in this regard, I can definitely consider this book along the same shelf as CALL ME BY YOUR NAME.

Themes, and an Indian expatriate community

The themes covered were sexuality, homophobia, family, marriage as an institution, societal norms, etc. I do think the idea was a great one and the author did well by mixing all of these together especially in the Indian expatriate community, where, you could say, culture, religion, etc. play a big role in all the decisions the characters make. The way the author has weaved in the different nuances of human behavior, based on and affected by, external forces, events, experiences, and memory, added a great flavor to the narrative as well.

Get the book on Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads TBR list!

Verdict:

I rated the book 3.75/5 stars!

You can also check out my popular posts: How to Read More Books, How to Ace Online University, Delving into Audiobooks! etc.

March Wrap-Up//Reading in Isolation

Earlier published as “Self-Isolation Week1 Reading Update!”

When I first wrote this post I had no idea that the isolation would turn into lockdown and one week would not only see its end but also a couple more weeks, until the beginning of another month. So I shall simply divide this post into three parts and add my reviews likewise:

  1. Phase 1 (1 March – 15 March)
  2. Phase 2 (16 March – 22 March)
  3. Phase 3 (23 March – 31 March)

Phase 1 (1 March – 15 March)

Here are the short reviews of all the books I picked up between 1 March to 15 March.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

I read this book for a class and was mortified to read how the psychological effect left by slavery on the former slaves ruined and left scars on the families for generations. It was a sad tale, but then again it also gave hope and the importance of this hope. I rated it 4 stars. It was also my second Morrison after The Bluest Eye. Goodreads.

Reef by Romesh Gunesekera

I read Suncatcher last year and I fell so much in love with the writing style that I knew right away that I would pick up more of the author’s work. that is why I picked up Reef and I was not at all disappointed. I rated it 4.5 stars and wrote quite a long review on it! Goodreads.

The King of the Sea

This was a 4star read for me. It was quite unique and I had not come across this style of writing except in a couple of modern books. Overall, I did enjoy this book. Keeping in mind that this is very much a metaphysical novel, the reader finds a lot of tangential and metaphorical phrases. I also posted a review on this. Goodreads.

Other Romance Novels:

  1. Dear Ava – 3stars
  2. Dating the Boss – 3stars

Phase 2 (16 March – 22 March)

Here are the short reviews of all the books I picked up in between 16 March to 22 March.

Reading A Room of One’s Own

So I read this seminal work for a paper that I am writing. Virginia Woolf’s essay is really important work and throws light on how the thinking was regarding feminist issues. It is interesting to note how different the differences were between men and women back in those days. Woolf’s style of writing – the iconic Stream of Consciousness – is also evident here, along with her sarcastic quips and witticisms. I do feel that some instances where she rambles quite a bit because of her specific writing style, was something I did not care much for. I do enjoy her writing style, but in this book, it felt like there was a lot of filler material. And I know that is probably a bit of an unpopular opinion, but oh well! I rated it 4 stars! Goodreads.

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood 1
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood 1

Reading Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood

I lived through this book. I was absolutely in love with the story and the characters and I certainly look forward to the next in the series. So it will not be surprising that I wrote a really long review about it (where I mention both my likes and dislikes from the novel). Needless to say, I rated it 5 stars. Click here to read my full review! Goodreads.

Revelations of a Secret Princess

What can I say? This was such a wonderful and wholesome novel and I loved every bit of it. This book was just up my alley – the romance was a slow burn and I loved that a child played a key role. However, I did feel like the protagonist got too carried away in her thoughts sometimes. Her feelings were portrayed very intensely in the novel and I for one felt like that was overkill. The background was really well written. I felt like I was truly there with the characters and I thrived on that. As for the villain, I did feel sometimes that the manner in which he was portrayed was not very realistic, to be honest, and his evilness could have been better portrayed. Nevertheless, I really did enjoy the story and I rated it 3.75 stars. Goodreads.

The Awakening

This classic featured the seminal protagonist Edna Pontellier. It was a poignant read because her awakening came at the cost of everything else. I made notes and marked almost every page. Her self-discovery was a tragic story that was wrought with various shades of emerging individuality. I loved the way the author shed light on her mindset – how she grew from a possibly protected woman into a woman of her own rights. Overall, I loved it and rated it 4 stars! Goodreads.

Stories of Us

Stories of Us

This collection of short stories by Bobby Sachdeva had a total of 41 short stories. This was quite an interesting short story collection. The sheer range of topics that the book covers are really wide and it is interesting to see how the author brings in his own twist to the story. The topics are all ones that prevail in Indian society. The cover of this book was really quite nice to see and I liked the stories. However, I also did feel that that certain X factor was missing and perhaps that could have spruced up the stories. There were also some really cool illustrations along with each story that reflected the topic. Again, the language used was really simple and there were some grammatical and typographical errors. I was oaky with it and I rated it 3 stars. Click here to read my full review for it. Goodreads.

Reading Pillow Thoughts I, Sea of Strangers, The Last Time I’ll Write About You, Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately, Heart Talk, On Love

I also went through quite a few poetry books in Scribd and enjoyed reading these. I rated them as follows:

  1. Pillow Thoughts I – 3 stars
  2. Sea of Strangers – 2.5 stars
  3. The Last Time I’ll Write About You – 3.5 stars
  4. Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately – 4 stars
  5. Heart Talk – 5stars!
  6. On Love – 3stars

Phase 3 (23 March – 31 March)

Here are the short reviews of all the books I picked up between 23 March to 31 March.

A Discovery of Witches

I had been so excited and eager to read this book ever since I first saw the series on the internet. Now that I have finished this book, I regret not buying the sequel! I got total dark academia vibes from this book and since it is the phase I am in, there could not have been a more perfect time to read this book! I rated it 4stars. Goodreads.

The Yellow Wallpaper

I read this short story for a class and I was astounded. The author did a really good job of portraying the cloistering nature of patriarchy on the individualism of the women in earlier times. Although our concept of feminism is different today, it is eye-opening to see how it might have started, the foundations of this movement in those days. I rated it 4stars. Goodreads.

Long Bright River

Oh my god, this book! I listened to it as an audiobook on Libro.fm and wow! The narration was awesome. Most importantly, the plot was so so good. This book is not a typical mystery. I like to think that this one was a nice union of the mystery with literary fiction. I was so enamored by the storyline, despite the rawness of the subject, the utter bleak nature of the story. I loved it and I think that the author did a great job with this book. I rated it 4stars and would definitely recommend everyone to read this one as well. Goodreads.

Reading Poetry, on Bullet Journaling and Romances

  1. Aphrodite Made Me Do It – 4stars
  2. Lettering for Planners – 3stars.
  3. Bullet Journaling – 3stars.
  4. Protecting His Mountain Bride – 2stars
  5. Married to My Dad’s Best Friend – 2stars

So these are all the 24 books I read in March. I feel quite happy and proud when I see this number, but I guess it was only because I got to stay at home. had normal life been going on, I doubt this would have been possible.

Anyway, I hope you all are doing safe and sound and are enjoying this time in your homes.

Stories of Us: A Review

Stories of Us
Stories of Us

Stories of Us by Bobby Sachdeva is a collection of 41 short stories. This was quite an interesting short story collection. The sheer range of topics that the book covers are really wide and it is interesting to see how the author brings in his own twist to the story. The topics are all ones that prevail in Indian society. The cover of this book was really quite nice to see and I liked the stories.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

However, I also did feel that that certain X factor was missing and perhaps that could have spruced up the stories. There were also some really cool illustrations along with each story that reflected the topic. Again, the language used was really simple and there were some grammatical and typographical errors. It was an alright read and I rated it 3 stars.

Blog Tour: Crescent City, House of Earth and Blood, by Sarah J Maas

Today is my blog tour stop for the review of Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood from Bloomsbury.

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood 1
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood

I am absolutely honoured that Amrita from Bloomsbury sent me a copy of my most anticipated read fo 2020!

Buy the book on Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads!

Synopsis:

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. Every night is a party and Bryce is going to savour all the pleasures Lunathion – also known as Crescent City – has to offer. But then a brutal murder shakes the very foundations of the city, and brings Bryce’s world crashing down.
Two years later, Bryce still haunts the city’s most notorious nightclubs – but seeking only oblivion now. Then the murderer attacks again. And when an infamous Fallen angel, Hunt Athalar, is assigned to watch her every footstep, Bryce knows she can’t forget any longer.
As Bryce and Hunt fight to unravel the mystery, and their own dark pasts, the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the deepest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir …
With unforgettable characters and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom – and the power of love.

“LIGHT IT UP, BITCH!”

I was yelping at this point. This book gave me all the feels – I was cackling like a manic and my dad just popped in and asked what the hell I was laughing about at 2 am. I was also a sobbing mess, bawling my eyes out – somehow saying “I can’t do this anymore” to my sister, who just laughed her ass off. I was happy and ecstatic and sad and feeling all the in-betweens!

“It was joy and life and death and pain and song and silence.”

SJM is an auto-buy author for me and I have been trash for her ever since I first read ACOTAR and TOG. And so, knowing that she is coming up with this humongous tome had me on the edge of the seat. I thought I would be able to rest once I got the book in my hands. But did I? NUH UH!

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood 2
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood artwork

“She was sea and sky and stone and blood and wings and earth and stars and darkness and light and bone and flame.”

The reading experience was sensational! I love the urban setting – with laptops and phones and internet, and cap-wearing angels, badass party princesses, and a swaggering Fae prince. The union of technology and magic, as well as the “in-between” (thumbs up in you know what I mean!), was on point.

The plot twists were unexpected and sudden and would make me put down the book and stare vacantly for a few moments. The politics among the different cliques (for lack of a better term) was intense but also peppered with witticism. The bonds that the characters shared were also so heartfelt and real that as a reader, I felt every bit of happiness radiating from them as well as every loss they were dealt with too. SJM is amazing at character development and the interpersonal drama aspects.

What is classic SJM is that her characters – both the males and the females – are fighting demons of their own. None of them have it easy and it is in their struggle that countless readers have found hope. I know I certainly have.   

However, I do think that certain characters were similar to the ones we have come across in the earlier books as well. I do think SJM pulls a Sam Cortland unfortunately. And I do believe that SJM hints at the fact that she will do what she does, further on in the sequels:

“If she’s smart, she’ll lie low and not attract the attention of any other powerful immortals for the rest of her life.”

(If you know, you know!) Also, that cover is smashing!

5/5 stars, without a doubt!

Thank you, Bloomsbury for sending across a copy of this riveting book!

The King of the Sea: A review

The King of the Sea
The King of the Sea

The King of the Sea was a very reflective read which often made me introspect and just stop and think of what the author has written. The writing is fu of musical cadences that are really soothing to the mind. There is a healthy union of poetry and spiritual tidbits that made a composite whole that I as a reader really liked.

Check it out on Goodreads!

Thought-provoking and novel, this book was quite different from most other works. Separate from the conventional manner of narration, this particular work of the author is all-encompassing both in regards to the story as well as the reader in his reading environment.

Check it out on Amazon!

What might pose a difficulty for most people is, I believe, the manner in which the characters speak. Keeping in mind that this is very much a metaphysical novel, the reader finds a lot of tangential and metaphorical phrases.

Towards the middle, I did think that it felt dragged but powering through those few pages, I once again reached the valley of introspection to read the book in.

The cover and title of the book is apt and I simply love how aesthetic this photo came out as! I definitely recommend this one to you all.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars!

Temporary Wife Temptation: A modern-day romance!

Temporary Wife Temptation
Temporary Wife Temptation

This was a modern-day marriage-of-convenience story that was a beautiful combination of tradition, romance and family values. I love how the author has given an Eastern twist to it – since most of the stories that follow this trope are set in the western world. I feel that when it comes to the Eastern side of the world, it just gets a lot more complicated. We have a family to deal with, we have extended family to deal with and so on.

I loved how these characters were well rounded. Apart from the budding romance, there are also the subplots – mostly the hurdles the two characters are trying to overcome. Garrett and Natalie are two people who are goal-oriented and know what they want. Garrett was the perfect alpha male – he was so encouraging and applauded Natalie’s business acumen.

Check it out on Goodreads!

I also loved that he was not the obsessive possessive lover that seems to be the equation nowadays. The way they blossomed was great – both as a couple as well as individually. The power imbalance, however, surprisingly was not much of a deterrent in their relationship and I huffed in satisfaction at that. Also, the sexual build-up was great although they did seem to have instant chemistry.

Check it out on Amazon!

However, one thing that I did not particularly like was how each chapter would begin suddenly. There was no thread of continuity there and I would have appreciated it if there were. However, it was a quick and interesting love story! I rated it  4/5 stars!

Swimming in the Dark: A love letter

Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

SWIMMING IN THE DARK was incandescent!! It is perfect for fans of #callmebyyourname and #aristotleanddante and also #redwhiteandroyalblue ! It was also my last read of February and my second 5⭐ read of the month!

The book is a beautiful and evocative story set in the early 1980s Poland. As such, the political scenario is quite an intricate part of the narrative and it also shapes the thoughts and actions of the characters. The story is told by Ludwik Glowacki a Polish man living in America. The whole novel is actually him reminiscing about his past, and more so, as if writing it for his former lover Janusz. Janusz is addressed in the second person and it really made me remember Call Me By Your Name. Ludwik’s story starts from when he was of 9 years of age and met and fell in love with his neighbour Beniek, a Jewish boy, to his early 20s romance with Janusz.

Check it out on Goodreads!

The book’s central themes include Ludwik’s realisation of his sexuality, the way he deals with it, especially in a society where this is frowned upon, and thus, the aspect of shame associated with it; discovery of his selfhood as well as the tumultuous political times of Poland wrought with various trials for the people.

Check it out on Amazon!

Swimming in the Dark
Swimming in the Dark

There is a beautiful sense of the bittersweet that envelops Jedrowski’s writing. I am entirely in love with it and am looking forward to a follow up to this fantastic debut. The way the author has portrayed the conflicting feelings that Ludwik has for Janusz because of their differing political ideologies etc, is also great. With such a lyrical prose and tragic undertones, this was a truly unique read, that will leave it’s warmth with me, like a dying hearth of fire, for a really long time.

The Rape Trial, by Bidisha Ghosal

The Rape Trial
The Rape Trial

The Rape Trial by Bidisha Ghosal was a quick read for me! I read it in just two days and I really liked it.
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With a gripping narrative, this book revolves a lot around rape, and rape culture and the surrounding factors like the repercussions of rape for a woman versus a man, the societal standards (often hypocritical), as well as power play, the political and the personal, etc.
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The book reads really fast also! However, I felt that at a few points there were some loopholes and a round of editing could have been done. Overlooking that, the writing style and overall narrative of the author is really well executed.
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The book also talks about the justice system and lays bare and opens discussion on whether it is wise for the common man to take justice into their hands or to leave it to the law (especially when the law is not effective) and such. The characters are also developed throughout the story and their depth well portrayed. I like the relations among all the characters. Moreover, the psychological aspect is an important one here.
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This was quite an interesting read. I rate it 3.75/5 stars!

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

Sixteen Stormy Days by Tripurdaman Singh

Sixteen Stormy Days
Sixteen Stormy Days

Sixteen  Stormy Days is about the sixteen days of debate in 1951, which led to the controversial first Amendment of the Indian Constitution. This book was a truly well-researched treatise on the why and how behind the major change in Indian Constitutional history.

Check it out on Goodreads!

In eloquent prose, the book goes over the changes that were made in the Constitution, which had been worked on for three years prior to this abrupt and fast sixteen-day debate. With the passing of the Amendment as the Constitution (First Amendment) Act of June 1951, various changes were brought in – most of which cause heated debates even today. To name a few, the fundamental rights were qualified in favour of the State, enabled the caste-based reservation system, restricted the right to property, to name a few.

Most importantly, the book also sheds light on the support as well as the opposition that this Amendment garnered.  The author also sheds light on the various icons behind it – such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, etc. Most importantly, it depicts how the originally liberal Constitution was reconfigured in a way that would be favourable to India’s first government, which turned to be authoritarian. What started as a major move by Jawaharlal Nehru and the super-majoritarian government, radically led to a system of coercion and repression on a vast majority of the Indian people.

The narration is smooth, however, having never had political science or history as my subjects, I found it a bit exhausting to read. Perhaps that is something a few readers may face but let me tell you that the end is worth it. You will come out a bit wiser and also perhaps with more questions, which will lead you down on a path of learning. I think this was a really well-penned book by the author. It was informative and with the eloquent writing, the reader really captures the attention of the reader. It was also a really quick read once I got into it.

I rated this book 4/5 stars!

Check it out on Amazon!

The Midnight Scrawls: A Review

The Midnight Scrawls
The Midnight Scrawls

The Midnight Scrawls was an okay poetry book.

More than that, it was a visual treat. The book is very much like an album and I loved the various shots that accompanied the poetic pieces. they were all in black and white and I think that that really enhanced and helped make the poems more impactful.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

As for the topics, the pieces cover a wide range such as innocent love, family, self-discovery, depression, and mental health, gratitude, war, religion, etc. There were also other snippets of works apart from the poems, such as letters and simple writeups, etc.

However, I do think that the execution could have been better. For instance, rounds of editing would have really cleared all the errors and made the reading experience much smoother. I also felt that certain pieces were a bit repetitive but overall, it was okay. Definitely could have been a bit better though.

I do look forward to seeing what more works the author comes up with. As for The Midnight Scrawls, I rate it 3/5 stars.

Glorious Shadows, by Krishna Sawant: A Review

Glorious Shadows
Glorious Shadows

Glorious Shadows is a collection of poems by Krishna Sawant which touched a wide variety of topics ranging from self-love to hope, with tones ranging from realistic to tragic as well.

While blank verse has become very common nowadays and you can find a poet around every corner, I do believe that Sawant has the special something in her writing. I felt her poems through me and although I cannot say I have personally experienced each and everything here, the emotions were portrayed in such a way that I could relate and empathize. Therein lies the quality of a poet, I feel and hence, I can truly say that Sawant has done a great job.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

There are also tiny illustrations at the bottom of every pg and the titles of the poems are added at the bottom as well, a style which is becoming more and more popular everyday.

There are various pieces that I personally loved and adored and I shall mention a few here:

  • Stop Selling My Soul
  • I Destroyed Myself
  • Sigh
  • Disguise
  • Nicotine
  • Silent Spectator
  • Atelophobia
  • Curdled Love
  • Maya
  • Rigid
  • Waxing and Waning
  • Writing of a Suicide Note
  • Flatlined
  • I

I rated this collection 4/5 stars.

A new fantasy duet: The Queen’s Assassin!

The Queen's Assassin
The Queen’s Assassin

Hey guys! Today is my stop for The Queen’s Assassin blog tour. Organized by The Fantastic Flying Book Club and I couldn’t be more excited! Don’t forget to check out the tour schedule on their website to get more exciting posts about the book!

The Queen’s Assassin

The Queen’s Assassin is about this girl named Shadow who is thrown together with the Queen’s Assassin Caledon Holt in a quest to get back the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

Now, I think this was a well-paced story for I read it in just 2 days (2 sittings to be specific). The adventure aspect was good, and as for the progress of the plotline, except for a few plotholes, I think the author did a good job.

Character development in The Queen’s Assassin

The character development is also good in terms of Caledon Holt. He is shown as this really revered and talented assassin who is great at what he does – he is the best really. But in terms of his feelings, that side is explored more as the story progresses. As for Shadow, her character is not shed much light on, to be honest. I found that her character is pretty much the same and her development is slight compared to Caledon.

Narrative style

However, in terms of the narrative, the writing style was weird. I like that in the case of Shadow, the narrative was in the first person. But there is a complete change when it comes to Caledon’s. It is in the third person and the tense is present perfect and the constant change got on my nerve.

What did not work…

The mystery also feel predictive to me regarding the real identities of certain characters (not giving any spoilers!) Therefore, I was not very surprised when it is revealed.

Towards the end, there were certain plot holes and some bits were just wrapped up conveniently I think. Certain facts were just very contradictory and I feel that that the author tried to pull a psychological sort of hit at the end.

That is not to say that I am not excited for the sequel – I very much am. I am eager to see where the story goes because I really ship Caledon and Shadow and I hope they get the ending they deserve, despite the cliffhanger that the author left us on.

It was a good read and I rated it 3/5 stars.

Check out the review for Lost Transmissions, Crown of Oblivion, The Nevernight Chronicles!

Norse Mythology

When it comes to Norse Mythology, I admittedly know very little. Ofcourse, Loki, Thor and Odin seem to be the most popular guys and so I went in knowing only these three. But the mythology of their culture is so rich! I am so glad I got the opportunity to delve deeper into it.
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The stories are very intriguing and like every other culture, Norse Mythology too has its own explanation and stories for the various natural phenomenon. I love that these stories are also inspired from the actual texts, but with certain twists by the author. They were full of adventure and drama and I was hooked throughout!
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And Loki was a constant source of trouble and mischief. I hate that he helps towards Ragnarok and I hate that I do not entirely hate him because he is just the fun factor that was needed.
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The gods are also portrayed as very human and selfish. They make promises without the consent of the other gods they have bound into their promises and it causes such a ruckus!
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Anyway, I really loved reading this book and also, this was my second #neilgaiman after #thesleeperandthespindle

Mythological Fiction: Raavanputr Meghnad

Raavanputr Meghnad by Kevil Missal is a new mythological fiction that follows the lesser-known Meghnad, Raavan’s favourite son, who fought on Ram’s side!

Ravanputr Meghnad
Ravanputr Meghnad

Mythological Fiction in Raavanputr Meghnad

Towards the beginning of this month, I had picked up Vyasa, a graphic novel on the Mahabharata. As such, it was only fitting that I also read a fictional twist on the Ramayana as well. Ravanputr Meghnad by Kevin Missal is based on the Ramayana, more specifically, Raavan’s favourite son Meghnad. However, the storyline is not true to the actual Ramayana and has been fictionalized, so do keep that in mind before picking up the book.

Get this book for yourself! Amazon Goodreads

Raavanputr Meghnad versus the Ramayana

The plot was an interesting one and it helped me to imagine another way in which the story may have happened. I quite enjoyed the path it took especially in regards to the development of Meghnad’s character. The change, which occurs especially after his meeting the love of his life, a Naga princess, was quite fast towards the middle. It is at this point that he realizes that his ways may not have been entirely right.

Narrative style

Changing narratives also kept the plot interesting and I liked getting glimpses into the actions, and thus, the minds of the various characters such as Meghnad, Prameela, Suparnika, and Laxman.

What I did not like about this mythological fiction

However, since it was inspired by actual mythology, the setting has been the same. As such, I think it was a strike against the book that the characters used modern slangs, which seemed out of time for the characters. Moreover, the author tried to bring in comedic elements through the familial bonds, which I do not think worked very well.

Verdict:

Overall, it was an enjoyable and quick read. I was absorbed while reading it and did like the overall arch. If you like mythological stories written with a twist, this is definitely one you should pick up soon. I rated it 3.75/5 stars.

Check out similar books: Upon a Burning Throne books 1 and 2; Narasimha; Greek Mythology; The Secret of Palamu Fort; Ashwatthama’s Redemption; Kaalkoot, etc.

An autobiographical travelogue: Dream Beyond Shadows

Dream Beyond Shadows: No Ordinary Tourist was a unique autobiographical travelogue that I really enjoyed. It was greatly introspective.

Dream Beyond Shadows
Dream Beyond Shadows

Synopsis:

If you are holding this book, there’s a chance you may be at a crossroads in your life, as once the author of this book was.
Feeling stuck and overwhelmed by society’s pressures, how can we learn, in today’s fast-paced and results-driven world, to truly dream beyond shadows?
Having touched the hearts of readers across the globe, Dream Beyond Shadows has now been published in its second edition, to celebrate the raw and compelling art of storytelling inscribed in its pages.
The book chronicles a turning point in the author’s life, a moment when he decided to turn against the current of his life and move in the opposite direction of social expectations and his own conditioned fears.

Author: Kartikeya Ladha

This was a 4 star read for me. I really fell into a thinking pit of introspection as I went over the words of the author. A few points of note:

Visually appealing!

The cover was the first thing that drew me towards this book. It was just very aesthetic and almost psychedelic. The pink and the purples in the new cover design was out of this world. On the same note, the chapter cover pages were also very aesthetic with the inclusion of the design. The book was also a visual treat along with the deep content. The inclusion of the pictures from the author’s life also gave a glimpse and made it easier to understand the life of the author and thus, his words too.

Inclusion of Poetry!

The poetry pieces were also great. I think they really brought together the narrative and gave outbursts of poetic emotions throughout, at regular intervals.

Imagery in the travelogue!

The book also has wonderful imagery. I love the way the author transitioned from the concrete jungles of the city (perhaps arguably the most famous city of the world) to beautiful Peru and then the dense Amazons. The book is also a travelogue in this sense and it gives you an amazing experience. I could almost see myself right in the center of it all.

An autobiographical travelogue

Overall, I think this was a beautiful book – a sort of a mix between an autobiography and a motivational book. However, the fact that it was a personal story made it all the more effective and thus the reader became undoubtedly more empathic while reading. I myself was sucked in. I am at a stage in my life where I am happy and confident about what I want and how I feel. But at the same time, I also have seen around me, people going through quarter-life crises regarding what they want, their future, etc. As such, it was a book I could really feel in my bones.

Verdict:

The narration is crisp and amazing and it totally gives you the ultimate traveling experience, while also making you ponder over the deeper questions of life. I really liked this book and am happy that this was my first non-fiction of the year, and most possibly the first travelogue I have ever read. I rated it 4/5 stars and recommend it to you all.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

My experience with the graphic novel

With reference to Pumpkinheads and Vyasa

Vyasa and Pumpkinheads
Vyasa and Pumpkinheads

I finally started reading the graphic novel from 2019 and it honestly has been a great journey so far. In my 5th semester, I decided to pursue a Visual Studies elective. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher under whom I explored this genre and saw what fun it is!

Graphic novel: Pumpkinheads

I recently picked up Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks and it was my first graphic novel of the year. To be very honest, I was suffering from a terrible reading slump and so I wanted to read something fun and not very intense. That is the reason why I decided to pick up Pumpkinheads, about which my bestie Gayatri had been raving about from the time she read it. and I really enjoyed it. It certainly helped me get over my slump.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

However, on that very note, it span over the time period of just a few hours. It is not a book with a lot of depth, so if that is what you are expecting it to be, you might be disappointed. I found it be a fun and flirty read. Moreover, it has great LGBT representation and it definitely broke free of the generic stereotypes of boys and girls. Lastly, I was blown away by the amazing art. The predominant colours were that of orange, burnt ochre, and all the autumn colours, which made the book an art piece to feast on. I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. It was a 3.75 star read for me.

Vyasa and Pumpkinheads: a glimpse
Vyasa and Pumpkinheads: a glimpse

Graphic novel: Vyasa

After that I was so in love with pictures that can take over your imagination, that I decided to go after another graphic novel and this time, I picked up Vyasa. This book is on the Indian epic Mahabharata, a personal favourite. The story is by Sibaji Bandyopadhyay and the art is by Sankha Banerjee. The way this book was written was amazing. I loved the recurrent jumps in time and the overall framing structure that combined the stories within the story. However, it was only the first part and I was left dangling.

Now I am eagerly waiting for the sequel to Vyasa: The Beginning. The art in this book is stunning as well and I was spellbound throughout. The fact that I finally have pictures that can accompany the stories I, and we all, grew up with, was a wonder in itself. I absolutely loved this book and I rated it 4.5 star read for me.

Check out the book on Goodreads and Amazon!

Check out similarly themed books: Upon a Burning Throne, What if it’s you?, etc.

A smashing collection: What the Eyes See

What the Eyes See is a smashing short story collection of 7 short stories; namely Sira, The Game, The Dreamcatcher, 1978, What the Eyes See, Karma, and The Angel Numbers.

What the eyes see
What the eyes see

Synopsis of this smashing collection:

How much of what you see can you believe?
How much can you trust yourself and the people around you?
Some time into the future, a 60-year-old man is suspicious about the Artificial Intelligence he has procured for his home.
Back in the ’70s, a man visiting his hometown for vacation has the most terrifying experience of his life.
In Delhi, a young woman gets a beautiful gift, which she later realizes might not be so beautiful after all.
In Dubai, a young entrepreneur realizes that giving a lift to strangers might lead to horrifying consequences.
These and many more… What the Eyes See is a collection of dark stories to take with you into the night.

A smashing anthology!

What the Eyes See is a collection of 7 short stories; namely Sira, The Game, The Dreamcatcher, 1978, What the Eyes Se, Karma, and The Angel Numbers.

Buy this book on Amazon! Mark this book on Goodreads!

These stories all have unexpected twists that will totally take the reader by surprise; I know I certainly was! I love that although the stories are linear in a way, they have a certain element that while disrupts the flow, only makes the reading experience better. A strong point in all of these short stories is the climaxes that are strong and powerful. I love the way they punch through the narrative.

Themes, and styles

 The writing style is great and fluid and intertwined with the wonderful imaginative powers, this collection provides a strong suit. A good mixture of suspense and horror, the stories also cover the themes of artificial intelligence, and the effect it can have on humanity, mortality, dystopia, magic, revenge, illusions, family, etc. the concepts of the plots for the different stories are really unique and has a wide range although, at the end, there is a common thread of horror/mystery running throughout.

Verdict:

The cover is also well made and really reflects the atmospheric nature of this collection. I quite enjoyed this book and I rate it 4/5 stars.

A Cinderella gender-swap: What if it’s you? Review+Exclusive Interview!

What if it’s You? by Mitali Meelan was a gender-swap on the classic tale of Cinderella that we have all grown up with. It is set in contemporary India!

What if it's you?
What if it’s you?

Read till the end for the exclusive author’s interview!

I was a bit hesitant going into the book because retellings of fairytales, that I enjoyed as a kid, is kind of a make-it or a break-it situation. But I am so happy to state that this book flew past my expectations! I absolutely loved this story and simply devoured it.

Check out the book on Goodreads

Buy the book on Amazon

A gender-swap on Cinderella, set in contemporary India!

In this story the roles are reversed  – we have Vihang who has a cruel stepmother and Saira who is a famous movie star. Their love story is quite an unconventional one and their HEA too also seems to be likewise. I really liked that the author has included a very modern literary conclusion to the story – with an open and ambiguous end. I am also very eager to see what the future holds for these two characters.

Progress in this modern gender-swap fairytale

As such, this was a very plot-driven novel and I love the character transformations that occurred especially in regards to their relationship with one another and how it affected their emotional well-being.

Themes, characters in this gender-swap tale

The book also covered a lot of themes; some of the most important ones were that of illusions and image, friendship and self-discovery. Regarding the other characters, the stepmother was the epitome of the stereotypical stepmother. She was surely a cruel one who is so often found in fairytales, both classic or otherwise. As for the stepbrother Chetan –  I do believe that he could have been better. But he was really influenced by his mother. And on the same note, I think his mother’s behaviour towards Vihang, had his own basic understanding warped. But what can I say about the father! I absolutely hated how he treated his own blood and believed a woman he met later on in life, more than his own son. But on the other hand, I can understand this very human folly – his blind emotional attachment towards the new wife.

A fantastic modern-day gender-swap YA story!

I quite enjoyed this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars.  

Check out the review of the first book I read in 2020: Good Girls Lie!

An Interview with the author: Mitali Meelan

Mitali Meelan is the author of three novels – What if it’s you, A Long Way Home (published by HarperCollins India) and The Guest (published by Black Ink Books), as well as Coffee and Ordinary Life, a collection of poetry. Meelan also has an audiobook on Storytel titled And Then We Met Again, voiced by best-selling author Ravinder Singh. Today, we come to get another glimpse into her life! Read on to know more about the person behind this wonderful story!

When did you realize you needed to write?

In my second year, when I wrote my first novel, The Guest. I felt that if I don’t write the stories of these weird, loud voices in my head, I might go crazy.

What would you say your writing process is like?

I plot my entire novel before I start writing the book. However, my actual writing process is messy. I don’t write scenes sequentially. I write whichever scenes I feel the strongest about and dive in. And I almost always end up writing a different book than the one I intended to write or plotted at the beginning. Some elements, plotlines, even characters change altogether midway.

But in the end, I’m always happy with the result because the book I plan before I write the first draft doesn’t foresee all the loopholes I’ve missed and roadblocks I’ll hit later. And there’s a lot more fun in writing a book this way, than just writing a meticulously plotted story that doesn’t give me the liberty to stray.

Any special quirks while you write?

I can type without looking either at the screen or at the keyboard. This is told (and imitated) by my sister. When I’m deeply into a scene (typing it), I will sometimes look to the side or towards the sky with a possessed look on my face. I’ve also been told it’s kind of scary. You wouldn’t want to see it.

What was the weirdest thing you had to research for when writing the book?

For writing What if it’s you? I only researched the current retelling on Cinderella with gender-swap, to ensure I don’t write something that’s already been done. But for A Long Way Home, I had to do some weird searches, like:

  • The inside of a real dance bar with dancing girls and the kind of clothes they wear.
  • What happens when you shoplift in India and can you get away with it.
  • What’s the maximum punishment you can get if you shoplift in India, etc.
  • For another unpublished book of mine, I had to research the consequences of a homicide.

What inspired you to write this particular gender-swap story?

The lack of fairytale retellings in the Indian setting and in the Indian market. I love retellings but none of the contemporary Indian authors were doing it. So I decided I should.

What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?

If you could wait until the next and final book in this duology releases, you’ll find out.

(Yay!! So we have a sequel coming out!!!!!)

What are your favourite books?

  • The Palace of Illusions and The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni,
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho,
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini,
  • The Liberation of Sita by Volga,
  • Plays by Vijay Tendulkar and Mahesh Dattani,
  • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

If you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you? Why? Criteria:

  • One fictional character from your book – Vihang, from ‘What if it’s you?’ He is a fun-loving, sarcastic guy who will do the cooking and find the best way to go about on the island while making the whole stay entertaining.
  • One fictional character from any other book – Othello, a past crush. The able-bodied war hero of Shakespeare, full of pride. He’s so opposite to Vihang that it would be fun to have them together on the island.
  • One famous person that is not a family member or friend – Ellen DeGeneres because I could take her along everywhere if I could.

What’s something you are really good at, that few people know about?

I’m somewhat good at playing the keyboard and finding notes on it by hearing a song. I don’t know what the notes or chords that I play are called because I’m not formally trained. But I can locate the notes once I hear the song, a thing I’ve inherited from my father who is much faster at it (although untrained). I do want to get formally trained in playing piano though.

What if it’s you? synopsis

A retelling of Cinderella with role reversal set in contemporary India

What if hearts met first
and then the faces?
Would love look different?

A 19-year-old movie-star returns to her hometown to finish her education. Having traded her childhood for fame and success, she now craves for a simpler college life and deeper friendships that go beyond flattery and fakeness. The town, however, gives her everything else but that.

So she hides a letter in a bookstore and asks the recipient to be her pen pal. Hoping to find one meaningful friendship in this old beach town of South Goa, she adds only one condition for her recipient to follow. They won’t reveal their identity until they form a strong bond of friendship first.

The letter is discovered by Vihang, a 20-year-old guy who gets bullied in college and bossed around at home by his stepmother and stepbrother. On a default flight mode, Vihang takes whatever life throws at him with a pinch of salt (and loads of sarcasm). As Vihang’s own life begins to fall apart, the girl starts becoming his escape from reality. And neither of them realises when the feeling of love begins to bloom.

A fantastic thriller: Good Girls Lie

Good Girls Lie by J. T Ellison was my first read of 2020. I really enjoyed this book and it ended up being a 3.75 star read for me. It was an amazing thriller!

Good girls lie
Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison

In my stop today for this blog tour of GOOD GIRLS LIE, by HarperCollins, I’m sharing my review of this amazing read!

An atmospheric thriller

The synopsis was very interesting firstly and drew me in with a moth to a flame. On that note, there are many spider metaphors in the book that kind of creeped me out. Moreover, I love the atmospheric setting of the book.

Shifts in narration

However, when there were shifts between certain two figures (I dare not give any spoilers but if you have read the book you will understand) and I would get kind of confused as to who is who. This specific thing took me some time to get used to and when they happened I admit I get a bit frazzled and confused.

A thrilling setting

Apart from this small fact, I enjoyed this book. The whole private boarding school, which is exclusively for girls – all of them privileged – was a delicious setting. The dynamics and hierarchy among the girls – both good and bad – felt very real and in a way, a bit sad. Why do girls see other girls as competition and create problems for them? Why not build each other up?

Character growth

 I think that the character of Ash could have grown a bit more. Compared to the length of the novel and the time span in it, she could have been a bit more developed by the end. I love the secret societies vibe that permeates throughout. SInce I have always wanted to be a huge old mansion full of secret pathways and tunnels and hence, I lived through each and every moment while those girls were traveling along with them. Of course, the hazing was cruel and unfair and extreme.

Verdict

The truth kept dangling just in front of me and I tried to grab on to it but only towards the end did I finally start to piece together what was actually the situation here. I really enjoyed the book and the whole secret societies vibe makes me want to pick up Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo ASAP!

Check out the books on Goodreads and Amazon!

You can also check out the best books I read in 2019!

Top Fantasy Books on my 2020 TBR!

Hi everyone!

And today I share with you all my final post of 2019, which is like a follow-up to my other post (Top 10 Books on my 2020 TBR!) In today’s post I have tried to compile a very ambitious list, of all the fantasy books I want to get to in 2020! Are you excited about any of these fantasy books?

Top Fantasy Books on my 2020 TBR!
Top Fantasy Books on my 2020 TBR!

Books mentioned:

  1. The Mortal Instruments
  2. Percy Jackson
  3. And I Darken trilogy
  4. Rebel of the Sands trilogy
  5. A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy
  6. His Dark Materials trilogy
  7. Carry On, Wayward Son
  8. Children of Blood and Bone, Children of Virtue and Vengeance
  9. Ninth House
  10. The Empire of Gold (Book 3 of The Daevabad Trilogy, with The City of Brass, and The Kingdom of Copper)
  11. Aurora Burning (Aurora Rising)
  12. Starsight (Skyward)
  13. Throne of Glass
  14. Lord of the Ring, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion
  15. The Cruel Prince trilogy
  16. Shatter Me trilogy

I have also made an IGTV video regarding this topic and I would love it if you could check it out. Click here to go to my Instagram!

The Nevernight Chronicles: A Review

The Nevernight Chronicles
The Nevernight Chronicles

Why I decided to pick up Nevernight:

I remember reading Aurora Rising sometime in mid-2019 and I really enjoyed it. It was then and there that I had made up my mind to read Jay Kristoff’s independent works. No wonder I ended up binging on the entire trilogy of the Nevernight Chronicles. The books in chronological order are Nevernight, Godsgrave, and Darkdawn.

Many many thanks to HarperCollins for giving me the opportunity to read this awesome series! This series ended up on the Best Fantasy Reads of 2019 video! Check this out!

Nevernight as adult fantasy

Firstly, Nevernight was an adult fantasy series – my second one after the Daevabad Series (The City of Brass, and The Kingdom of Copper) which I read in 2019 as well. Being pretty new to the adult fantasy genre, I did not know much about what to expect. But I was in for a treat. There are a lot of adult themes in the Nevernight and I for one was left reeling ever time a chapter ended. The entire series is a very fast-paced one and with full of action, it was definitely one of the best fantasy series I read in 2019.

A quirky writing style

Regarding the writing style, I very much am in love with the one the author uses. It is witty and laugh-out-loud funny and so very interactive. The swear words were so very imaginative and I was hooked to the way he writes. I think apart from the characters and the plot, it is this unique writing style that made it such a bestseller. The sarcastic tunes at the time had me rolling my eyes and the banter that the characters share was on point. The repetitive manner at times, make a staccato-like beat which gave me goosebumps at several points.

On-point world-building

The inclusion of the footnotes was another plus point to this series. It helped make the reader know a lot of the world – the political system, the social systems, the history and various other things in general. I have personally not come across this style ever before in fantasy. It just makes everything feel so real. The imagery throughout is on point. Kristoff has a stunning way of conjuring these amazing scenes right in front of your eyes and I was a sucker for that. It felt like I was right there, although at a safe distance from the weapons!

Maps and illustrations!

The maps are also very detailed and I love tracking Mia throughout. The overall content of the series is deliciously dark and written with a compelling voice. The themes of revenge, violence, tortures, ambition, etc., along with friendship, family, etc, were really well interwoven.

Setting and Characters

 The setting was very much like Rome and Venice into the middle ages and the magic system was amazing. I love the power that Mia has and her relationship with Mister Kindly. I love the characters although I do not like Ash much, to be honest. Not even as the novels progress. I just found her character to be unbearable unstable and she was just not someone I liked.

Darkdawn

However, compared to Nevernight and Godsgrave, I think Darkdawn did not fully reach the potential. I was a bit bored at parts although I did enjoy it overall. I think it could have been a bit better especially with the plot and the pace.

Verdict

Overall, I love this series and it ended up in my Top Fantasy Reads of 2019 list! I rated Nevernight 4.5, Godsgrave 4.5, and Darkdawn 4stars.

Check out the books on Goodreads, and Amazon.

Top 10 Books on my 2020 TBR!

Hi everyone!

I finally made a list of the top 10 books I want to read in 2020. These books belong to a variety of genres such as historical fiction, non-fiction, magic realism, contemporary, literary fiction, etc. What are the top books on your 2020 TBR pile?

Top books on my 2020 TBR!

You can check out my list of the top Fantasy Books I want to read in 2020 by clicking here!

So the top 10 books on my 2020 TBR are:

I have also made an IGTV video regarding this topic and I would love it if you could check it out. Click here to go to my Instagram!

The Grandmaster and other short stories

The Grandmaster & other short stories

There is a certain crispness to the stories. As far as short stories go, these were quite good and I did enjoy them. However, there is one thing that I found a bit extra – that is, at the end of certain stories, the finals line is in block letters. This is too much in-your-face and I did not like it.

Nonetheless, the twists to all of these 17 stories were superb and unexpected. I did not exactly guess the endings although I did hit a bit close to the truth for a couple of stories. The human relationships have been one of the key motifs throughout the stories. The inter-relationships of the people was quite interesting to see in all the stories, whatever path they took – positive or negative.

The stories were all quite light, fast-paced and easy to understand. At the same time, they did have an important thread running throughout.

It was an interesting and fast read. I rate it 3.75/5 stars.

Of Craft: Embroidered Life

Embroidered Life, by Sara Barnes, follows the craft of embroidery as practiced by Sarah K. Benning. And it is the ultimate craft inspo!

Embroidered Life
Embroidered Life

Craft of Sarah K. Benning

From beautiful botanicals to bold affirmations, the work of self-taught fiber artist Sarah K. Benning gives any embroidery enthusiast, art lover, or plant fanatic a new appreciation for the craft of needlework.

I absolutely loved the art that is this book in itself. It sheds light on Benning’s embroidery process and her successful business model, while also offering behind-the-scenes insights that really inspired me to pick up the needle and thread after almost a decade.

Aesthetics of this craft

There are also some amazing pictures of the various embroidery works done by Benning and they are so lush and beautiful! A lot of her works feature nature and plants and the colour green overall, and it was no wonder I was so very attracted to it. Following each picture, the author has also included notes to explain the meanings and processes behind the stitches.

How it inspired me

It also obviously pushed me to make my own embroidery piece and so I too ended up embroidering my personal logo. I had a great time making it and I realized that it is a kind of meditation. It just feels so good to sit down in the warm sunshine every morning and do the stitching. I really felt at peace doing it.

Craft for life!

Moreover, the book is so aesthetic, and the addition of the die-cut case with actual stitching on the front cover just amps up the aesthetics! Like the embroidery which is a very physical thing, the inclusion of this stitching on the front too is iconic for emulating that sense of touch.

A smashing book!

I think by now it’s obvious I think it is a 5/5 star book, don’t you?

Check out Embroidered Life on Amazon, and Goodreads !

You might also like: DIY reading nook !

Best Reads of 2019!

Top reads of 2019

2019 is almost at an end and I can definitely say that it has been an awesome reading year for me. I have finished reading 250 books so far and I know that that number will only increase until the 31st of December. So as a part of my Bookmas series, I decided to compile a list of the best books I have read in 2019! And in no particular order, the books are:

You Will Be Safe Here, by Damian BarrAn extraordinary debut that explores legacies of abuse, redemption, and the strength of the human spirit–from the Boer Wars in South Africa to brutal wilderness camps for teenage boys. It also talks about the feminine issues – both social, and historical – the suppression of women and the masculine power play over them, their objectification, etc.  The diary entries make you cry – just reading of the utter inhuman situations that they, along with so many other people were subjected to. The flashback method was also great and gives great depth to the story. One of the major themes that I saw throughout Part 2 is that of toxic masculinity. For instance, seeing Willem cry in desperation once, Jan had turned away – after all, boys do not cry. We also see domestic abuse scenario in this part. (See full review)

Check out my Youtube video here!

City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert – A delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person. City Of Girls is part memoir, and We see Vivian as a very practical, matter-of-fact woman, who accepts things as they are. Easter eggs in the book were the mentions of Gone With The Wind as well as the people associated with it. Dealing with trauma is something that is shown multiple times in the book, although very subtly as undercurrents that determine the actions of the characters. When we see Vivian and Celia get punished for their actions, we confront the hypocrisy of the society, just as the character mentions, the women are always punished but the men get away scot-free with it. (See full review)

We Should All be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Despite the tiny size of this book, the content was a vital key towards understanding what feminism is and why we should strive to be feminists ourselves. Feminism is such a controversial term and I honestly do not understand why. Why wouldn’t you want to be considered equal to the person standing next to you? We are living in the 21st century and as we move into the third decade, this issue continues to rile up so many. The book is illuminating specially if you want to understand what feminism is without going through theory books, and why we should seek for it and live it every day. I also loved the easy and interactive writing style of the author and am looking forward to reading more of her novels in the coming year.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel – The second graphic novel I ever read, and one that will rally stay with me, Fun home was a brilliant tour-de-force. While an autobiography, this work also brings to the fore, the concept of autobiofictionality – of what happened in the past and of how you actually remember things happening. The minimal colors used were juxtaposed against the complex matters in the book. We see the author coming to terms about her own sexuality while also realizing that her father had been a closeted homosexual man. There are also many repercussions to this – the mother stuck in the loveless, while convenient marriage; the father always trying to fix up the house in a way he cannot ‘fix’ himself, etc. There are also a ton of literary allusions in the book which truly establishes this as a seminal work in modern literature. 

Suncatcher, by Romesh Gunesekera – Suncatcher was a beautiful and poignant coming-of-age novel.Set in the 1960s Ceylon, erstwhile Sri Lanka, and it is a time of great political change all around. We follow the protagonist Kairo, a normal young boy whose life takes for an exciting turn when he meets the worldly and confident Jay. For all his dreams and hopes, Jay reminded me of Fitzgerald’s famous character Jay Gatsby. Another character who was very interesting was Uncle Elvin. If Jay reminds me of Jay Gatsby because of his visionary ways, Elvin seems to embody Rhett Butler in his manner of living. As for the writing, the language is descriptive and wholesome. One of the important themes was that of illusion. Be it the adults or Jay himself, everyone seems to be deliberately altering the way he or she perceives reality. (See full review)

Circus Folk and Village Freaks, by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal – Sanyal has played with magic to deliver to us a tale of absurd and unbelievable men and women, monsters and pets. The transformation from man to animal, man to monster etc. run rife throughout the “18 twisted tales” and provides an enjoyable and funny read. Under these trivial and funny stories though, lies witty undertones, which are deep and metaphorical in the essence. The various themes I interpreted in the book include, but are not limited to, issues of abandonment and finding one’s true calling, homosexuality, society’s reaction against this ‘perversion’, and suicide, identity, love, mental illness, etc. The verse is lyrical and rhyming and thus, sounds so musical. I definitely recommend reciting these out loud. It’s a magical experience. My absolute favorite poems from here are The Unlikely Love Story of Lingam, and Jeeva, The Elephant Man. (See full review)

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe – Anther book I read as a part of my course, Things Fall Apart is a seminal work in African literature. It follows Okonkwo, a man from the Igbo society living his daily life, until the advent of the colonizers. The book is also a microcosm of not just all of Africa, but also of all the people and countries, which have been colonized by the western powers. The writing style is simple and yet powerful. The fall of the people – as they slowly lose their own ways and culture under the pressure and influence of the English – is sad to read about. The story climbs up to a crescendo and the climax is a potent one, that left me reeling. This is a masterpiece that everyone should definitely read.

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison – The Bluest Eye was Toni Morrison’s first novel, published in 1970, and it is a controversial novel still, for showing themes of incest, child molestation, racism etc. By the time I had finished reading the last page, I was blown away by the lyrical quality of Morrison’s writing. The repetitions sometimes sound like a mantra that beats at your mind as you read of the terrible beauty that is this book. What is important, is the psychological implications the book also portrays throughout the shifting perspectives. It is a wonder, that Morrison wrote things that still affect the human race today – in that she is a writer on the human tragedies that are eternal and everlasting. The mental space is a big motif in this book. Replete with the truest essence of humanness, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is one of the best books ever. (See full review)

Becoming, by Michelle Obama – I read this book as an audiobook and while I absolutely loved the sound of Michelle Obama’s voice and her enunciation, the content blew me away. I still reiterate that this book should be included in school curriculums because of its powerful and inspiring story of the first black First Lady of the USA. And I am not kidding when I say that this book motivated me a lot. I could relate myself to the author as I have been quite competitive all my life – but competitive with myself. It has always been a very serious game for me- I always try to be better than I was yesterday and to see the same attitude in the author, really reinforced this belief I have in myself. This is a grand gift, this time of the year, for any young cousin or sibling.

Lord of the Butterflies, by Andrea Gibson – One of the best poetry collections I have ever read, Lord of the Butterflies deals with issues such as homosexuality, being a transgender person, dealing with this as a child, and accepting this about oneself; bullying, rebellion; familial love, family drama, etc. The poet uses beautiful lyrical lines that just drive the knife deeper into the heart, so to speak – because all of the poems are so poignant and meaningful and relatable in today’s context, that you cannot help but be sucked in, to the magic. Crying while reading a fiction book is pretty common for me, but I even cried while reading these poems for myself. The poems I absolutely loved was ‘Orlando’, followed by ‘Boomerang Valentine’, ‘Thankstaking’, etc. (See full review)

A tale on Kashmir: The Tree of a Thousand Apples

The book The Tree of a Thousand Apples is set in the beautiful valley of Kashmir and it is a beautiful book diffusing the full Kashmir feel!!

The Tree of a Thousand Apples

The Tree of a Thousand Apples
The Tree of a Thousand Apples

‘A few white petals of Jasmine have found their way out amidst the bushes. Their narrow stems and delicate leaves grapple against the sputtering raindrops. The old gardener must have had an illicit affair with the flowers; their love refuses to die.’

-pg126

A tale on Kasmir

In The Tree With A Thousand Apples, we follow the three friends Safeena, Bilal and Deewan as they grow up in the beautiful land of Kashmir. It is all smooth sailing until the night of 20th January 1990, when everything changes. Militants start attacking the Kashmiri Pandits, in their convoluted plans and desire for ‘Azad Kashmir’. It is an intensely poignant story of love, revenge, insurgency and the way it shapes the lives of those affected, etc.  Based on true events, this book really makes you ponder on the lives of the people who have really been affected by the inhuman acts of the insurgents.

Vivid Imagery

The major highlight is definitely the amazing imagery because you can simply paint it in your mind’s eye! The author has been really able to bring out the essence of the Kashmiri life – with his description of the food, the culture, etc.

Narration and Language

With an awesome narration, the author has really been able to convey the feel of the book. The language of this book was so so poetic and good! The author has also used local Kashmiri words, which make the experience just more real. You feel as if you are living it yourself as you read it too.

The characters have also been shaped well. Their depth was explored throughout the book. It was a well-paced read overall.

Plus points:

The book cover is also very aesthetic and so very eye-catching! The poems inscribed in between, also touch your heart.

What I did not like

What I did not particularly like, was the repetitive lines – it is something that I do not like in books, myself. The sudden jumps in scenes also made it a bit difficult to grasp the tale.

Verdict:

The book was a great read overall. I rate it 4/5 stars.

Check out the book on Amazon and Goodreads!

You might also like 99 Nights in Logar, Suncatcher, An Atlas of Impossible Longing etc.

A FANTASY and sci-fi gem: Lost Transmissions

Lost Transmissions is a lavish storehouse on lost or under-appreciated works of sci-fi and fantasy, in various fields like fashion, music, literature, etc!

Lost Transmissions
Lost Transmissions

I received a review copy from the publishers in return for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Sci-fi and fantasy storehouse!

This book is an amazing collection of essays, interviews, etc. If you are into sci-fi/fantasy, this is definitely a book you need to pick up. It also has been specifically divided into segments of Literature, Film & TV, Architecture, Art & Design, Music, Fashion and Fandom & Pop Culture.

Why pick up this sci-fi/fantasy book

I personally have been interested in fantasy for quite some time now. However, sci-fi is a genre that I need to explore more, and so this was a perfect revelatory starting point for me. Whatever your interests might be, it covers the wide ground. That is why, I believe, this book has something for everyone! The content is very expansive and since it covers a myriad of different topics, it also throws light on how sci-fi has affected broader culture. Not only is this a very informative book, but it is also really fun to read.

My likes and dislikes:

While the literature segment was my favourite, I skimmed through the fashion and music segments. I am sure that for some others, those two might be interesting. One of the pieces worth mentioning is ‘On Fantasy Maps’! A mention by me about a piece on the Voynich Manuscript was enough to make Dad eager to read the book too!

A superb cover and apt title!

The cover, as well as the whole presentation of the book, is superb. The illustrations also help make this a definitive book in the genre. The title was also very apt – as the book does talk about forgotten sci-fi related stuff – “transmission” is a really well-chosen word.

Verdict:

I rate this book 4/5 stars!

Check out this book on Goodreads and Amazon

Check out my reviews on Aurora Rising, Skyward, The Day That Nothing Happened, etc.

Intertextual retelling: The Sleeper and The Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle is an intertextual retelling comprising both the tales of Sleeping Beauty as well as Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Sleeper and the Spindle
The Sleeper and the Spindle

An Intertextual Retelling

This is a new retelling, combining the fairytales of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. I did not really know that going into it; I just thought that it was a Sleeping beauty retelling. However, the author has given an entirely new spin to it!

Female empowerment in intertextual reads

However, sleeping beauty, as it turns out, is not actually who we think she is. This is where the author brings in a delicious and dark new twist and it is quite interesting to see the turn that this story takes. This story however, does establish the two women as independent women with their own rights, pursuing what they want to, whether good or bad. They do not depend or long for a prince to save them and are neither pawns at the hands of others. They are makers of their own destiny and that was a good point added to the story.

Illustrations

The Sleeper and the Spindle
The Sleeper and the Spindle

I think that this is a good fairytale on its own rights, to introduce kids to – not everything is as it appears and not everyone is as helpless as they might seem to be. The artwork was quite different from the one I am generally used to but I loved it. I came across Chris Riddell’s illustrations once before in Summer With Monica by Roger McGough.

What I did not like

However, I would have liked the book to be a bit longer than it was. Because of this reason also, I think that it was a bit overhyped. It could have definitely provided more and I just think like there was something missing.

Verdict:

Overall, a really interesting read and I rate it 4/5 stars.

Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon!

Recommended reads: The Near Witch, Crown of Oblivion, The Raven’s Tale, After the Flood, etc.

An atmospheric thriller: I Will Miss You Tomorrow

A truly atmospheric read, I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid, was a strange and compelling read. I quite enjoyed it!

I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid
I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid

A Stephen King heir?

Firstly, I have never read anything like this before. But seeing as to how the author has been called Stephen King’s Norwegian heir, I will take that as a sign to go pick up King’s book soon.

Unreliable narrator

Moving on, this book is also the epitome of a thriller with an unreliable narrator. Recently, ‘domestic thrillers’ seem to have taken the reading sphere by storm and something that is common to them all is the unreliable narrator trope. So perhaps if you have been a fan of Gone Girl, The Girl On The Train, Into The Water, The Woman in cabin 10, etc, this is the book for you. And another thing that I have not come across before is an unreliable male narrator. So it was quite a new angle.

An atmospheric and thrilling edge-of-the-seat plot!

The overall plot takes place roughly across two weeks but the terrible weather makes it feel much longer. The details are vividly written and in its realistic portrayal, this book was novel for me. I really enjoyed reading it a lot.

A realistic atmospheric sense

There were weird paranormal/supernatural segments which were another twist added to the tale. I think this has been the perfect book for me to read, in order to expand my reading in this genre.

Characterization and timelines

The character is one of real interest – Thornkild Aske has many dimensions and the way his mind works was unique. His experiences and the way they have shaped him into the person he is now is quite a journey. The shifts in timelines were also a great addition to the narrative style that the author has taken up.

Verdict

I rate this book 3.75/5 stars.

Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads

Thriller recommendations: Impossible Causes, You Beneath Your Skin, The Silent Patient, The Third Mrs. Durst

A Refreshing read: Ruskin Bond

This little book was a refreshing read. Despite its easy and seemingly normal subject matter, this book has the capacity to change your outlook.

Plants1 - Ruskin Bond
A Little Book of Magical Plants by Ruskin Bond

Synopsis:

In this little book full of whimsical illustrations and thoughtful quotations, Ruskin Bond introduces us to his favourite plants. Meet the resilient rubber, the tantalizing tomato, the generous grass, the dainty dahlia, the nifty neem and many others. Bond’s simple and descriptive prose brings these apparently inanimate beings alive—each with a distinct identity, a singular quirk. A Little Book of Magical Plants is a handy guide to discover more about this often ignored world of ‘green growing things’.

My review:

This little book was a refreshing read. Despite its easy and seemingly normal subject matter, this book has the capacity to change your outlook. I think I read it at the perfect time – just in time for the new year. Through the simple yet descriptive prose that Bond is so famous for, he introduces us to his favourite plants. What is magical is how he opens our eyes to make us see the qualities each of these plants possess. We too should be just as resilient and kind and accepting of our own quirks.

Plants2 - Ruskin Bond
A Little Book of Magical Plants by Ruskin Bond

At a time when we as Indians are getting shocked every day because of the gruesome crimes happening against women, let us all pledge to be kind and brave and always stand up against whatever is wrong. I loved how nostalgic the writing seemed to get at times. The author adds his own anecdotes and it just lends a special flavour to the writing.

There are also beautiful illustrations that are very soothing to the eye. Moreover, the quotes are presented in calligraphy adding another layer to beauty to this already adorable book.

4.5/5 stars to this gem!

Links to Amazon and Goodreads

Check out my review for Live Oak, With Moss, a collection of homoerotic poetry, by Walt Whitman

Classic poetry: Live Oak, With Moss

This classic poetry collection is an intensely private reflection on Walt Whitman’s attraction to and affection for other men. 

Live Oak, with Moss
The classic poetry collection is an intensely private reflection on Walt Whitman’s attraction to and affection for other men.

One of the most beautiful books that I have ever owned, Live Oak, With Moss, is simply filled to the brim with the poet’s haunting love for the beloved. Whitman’s longing just soaks the page and flows to your heart. The way the poet has combined nature with these poems is stunning. It made these so much more potent, real and raw. Apart from this burgeoning sense of longing, these subtly erotic poems are filled with the hope for a distant time and place when there will be a wholesome space for all these men to gather and simply be themselves.

I am reading Song of Myself from Leaves of Grass, for a class this semester. So, reading Live Oak, With Moss was illuminating in a way I never thought possible. I was overwhelmed by the words and the emotions they swelled up in me.

Live Oak, With Moss, is without a doubt, one of the best collections I have ever read and felt.  

Links to Goodreads, and Amazon

Check out my review for Lord of the Butterflies

The End of the Year Book Tag

End of the year book tag
End of the Year Book Tag

2019: The Year That Was

2019 is almost at an end and I am somewhere drifting amidst anxious, excited and apprehensive for the new decade. However, it was quite a good year for me. I believe I have improved tremendously and am at a great place right now. My words for 2019 were DISCIPLINE and HARD WORK. Although I could have done better with the first, I can say that I did work hard this year.

2019 accomplishments!

I will be done with my 5th semester of university in a few days, I am done with 4 internships and currently doing my 5th, I have a good GPA, I have worked on my relationships with my friends and relatives this year, and I have read a ton! I also finally shoved aside my shyness and anxiety and started uploading on YouTube – something that I had wanted to do for a long time, and I have also worked on my expenses, and I am happy.

(You can check out my Mid Year Book Freak-Out Tag here)

Book Tag!

So since it is the end of November, I thought its time I uploaded a companion post to my End of The Year Book Tag YouTube video that I just uploaded. I am tagging a few of you, and even if I haven’t, feel free to do this tag yourself, and I think it is a great way to come across new books that might interest you as well! As of November 29th, I have read 240 books in total this year. 

  1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish? JANE EYRE
  2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year? SEA PRAYER and A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN
  3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for? NOPE
  4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year? FOREST OF ENCHANTMENTS, THE THORNBIRDS, and THE SECOND SEX
  5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year? NINTH HOUSE
  6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2020? YES! Stay tuned for that!

This tag was started by Ariel Bisset (check out her video here). I am also planning on doing bookmas maybe so stay tuned for that, and Bookmas was established by Hailey (check out her announcement video here).

Historical Fiction: The Orange Grove

A consuming historical fiction novel, The Orange Grove is set in 18th century France. This historical fiction is full of suspense, rivalries, and secrets!

A consuming historical fiction novel, The Orange Grove is set in 18th century France. This historical fiction is full of suspense, rivalries, and secrets!
The Orange Grove, by Kate Murdoch

Historical fiction

A thoroughly entertaining and delicious read, The Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch, is a historical fiction set in 18th century France. From the synopsis itself, I could imagine that it would be full of political rivalries, power plays, secrets, etc. So I had high hopes for the book. I am glad to say that it definitely exceeded my expectations.

Synopsis

With a glorious world-building, the plot largely takes place in Blois, in the chateau of Dux Hugo d’Amboise. Inhabited by the Duc, his wife the Duchesse, and five mistresses, it is a regal world. But this aspect itself was baffling for me – for a modern-day woman like myself, this is a curious living situation. As one would aspect, the women, although living in a more or less harmonious existence, often have certain insecurities brewing between them. The Duchesse is acquainted with the ways of her world – any respected nobleman could have mistresses. However, Charlotte is only okay as long as the Duc loves only her. But when the Duc takes on a new mistress, a young noblewoman. He seems thoroughly besotted with her and so, Charlotte feels threatened. And it is from this insecurity that rises, that the story really starts.

The setting

The author portrays the tense environment well. It is clear that the author has done extensive research on this subject and this historical era. The women resort to underhanded means and ways to gain favour at the Duc’s hand. There are various secrets which, if revealed, may shake the roots of the power relations. The setting and plot have been well constructed.

Characterization of Henriette

The character of the protagonist, Henriette, is a morally sound person, I feel. She too has secrets to keep, just like everyone else, but I admire her willingness to help and support another woman instead of viewing her as the enemy. I think this has been the root cause of disharmony among women throughout history. Women are raised to perceive one another as competitors. However, in recent times, this has definitely changed I believe.

Characterization

The characterization when it comes to the others too is well done. We see the characters escalating toward a certain point, the climax so to say, and then follows their rise or downfall. What is also commendable is how wonderfully the author has kept the reader engrossed throughout – whether it is in the case of Henriette, her daughter Solange, Solange’s cute friendship with Tomas, the other mistresses, the tarot reader Romain, etc.

Themes

The themes of friendship, enmity, status and power, morality, loyalty, etc. have been thoroughly played through the characters in the book. In the end, it was thrilling to see how these people support and hate or pull tricks on one another all for the sake of power. Fashion, culture, sexuality, entertainment, culture, etc have also been shown throughout the lives of these characters. It has been a consuming read and I enjoyed each and every page of this novel. I rate this 4.5/5 stars.

  1. Add it on Goodreads!
  2. Buy it on Amazon!

Recommendations:

  1. City of Girls
  2. The Duchess
  3. Emperor Chandragupta and Emperor Vikramaditya
  4. Delayed Rays of a Star
  5. Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping from Houdini

Greek Mythology: A Retelling

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is a retelling of 6 popular stories from Greek mythology. The author lends his humourous spirit to this collection!

Photo of A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys
A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys

Greek Mythology: Stunning art pieces

First off, I want to just spend a moment to rest my eyes on the stunning cover! I love the yellows and the browns and it is just so aesthetic! The warm tones provide the perfect spot of colour in this dismal weather.

A Wonder Books for Girls and Boys

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys is basically a retelling of 6 popular Greek stories – The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Touch, The Paradise of Children, The Three Golden Apples, The Miraculous Pitcher and The Chimaera. Most of us have already heard of Medusa and Midas in some morality play or moral stories, in one way or the other. This, Hawthorne’s method, too, proved to be a hearty experience.

Writing style

The stories are written in the story-within-a-story format and in this way, the author has involved a brilliant framing device. ‘Cousin Eustace’ a bright lad of 18, is telling these stories to his younger cousins, adding his own flavours to the curry, so to speak. Hawthorne’s blend of humour abounds this collection.

Add it on Goodreads!

Greek Mythology versus this retelling

The stories are not truly ‘faithful’ to the actual Greek legends, but instead, Hawthorne has added his own spirit and essence to these. He has rewritten these stories in a gothic or a romantic style. Although essentially the same, there are many funny instances that will make you laugh out loud at times. Each of these stories provides an exceptional experience to the reader and makes for one hell of a time!

Get it on Amazon!

Verdict:

Although there are also morals clearly thrust forward, it is not overbearingly so. Thus, it proved to be an interesting read and not preachy at all! I rate this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to you all. It is quite short and you can read it in an hour. You could also read it out to your children or siblings and I am sure that they will love them as well.

Recommendations on Indian Mythology:

  1. Narasimha
  2. Upon a Burning Throne I
  3. Upon a Burning Throne II
  4. Ashwatthama’s Redemption

Poetry that rocks! Swallowtail and Atticus!

The Dark Between Stars, Swallowtail

Hey guys! So today I have two poetry recommendations for you. I read both poetry collections recently and I adored them for their raw individuality.

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy

Swallowtail: A deep dive into the dissection of popular culture, and how the brightness and horrors of it can be mirrors into the daily lived experiences of women in America.

Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy was a great read. The most prominent themes include loss, grief, and coping. The words penned by the author, though burgeoning with the grief of a broken heart, are poignant and resonates with the deepest sadness in the reader. Rape culture has also been addressed here and it is stark in its imagery and leaves the reader gasping. Pop Culture References from Survivor as well as Harry Potter have also been brought in.

I absolutely loved it and rated it 4/5 stars! Including here, links to Amazon, Goodreads

Poetry by Atticus

I admit I like THE DARK BETWEEN STARS much more than I did LOVE HER WILD. This one does not only revolve around love but also delves into the deeper themes of self-love, etc. There is a certain dichotomy and duality with both the happiness and the sadness that trouble us. In this collection, the poet writes about falling in love, being in a relationship with someone, and then the aftermath of a breakup as well. He includes scenes from Paris, Jazz clubs, wines, sunsets, etc. Thus the whole collection is a sensory experience that is experienced wholeheartedly by the reader. As such, it is as if the reader is in the moment, experiencing this whole slew of emotions and the beauty lives on.

I rated this book 4/5 stars!

Recommended poetry reads:

  1. Lord of the Butterflies
  2. The Octopus Curse
  3. Walk With Wings
  4. Unlocked Silences, Ease

A coming-of-age: Suncatcher

An absolutely beautiful and poignant coming-of-age,  Suncatcher is set against the political unrest in the 1960s Ceylon and it is a coming-of-age which I definitely recommend to you all!
Suncatcher by Romesh Gunesekera

An absolutely beautiful and poignant coming-of-age, Suncatcher is set against the political unrest in the 1960s Ceylon and it is a coming-of-age which I definitely recommend to you all!

A coming-of-age novel!

This was my first Gunesekera book and by god, am I a fan now! Suncatcher was a beautiful and poignant coming-of-age novel, or a bildungsroman, as we lit grads like to put it.

Setting and background:

The story is set in the 1960s Ceylon, erstwhile Sri Lanka, and it is a time of great political change all around; the reverberations of these political happenings resonate throughout the book and control how the adults act or what they say.

Themes of illusions and traps

One of the important themes that I could figure was that of illusion. Be it the adults or Jay himself, everyone seems to be deliberately altering the way he or she perceives reality and moreover, an entire section on the construction of the cage and the way how Jay perceives it towards the end is reminiscent of the way the system has caged the people. Society, class, economic situation, language, etc are all dividing lines.

Coming-of-age: The protagonist

At the center, we have the protagonist Kairo, a pretty much normal guy whose life takes for an exciting turn when he meets the worldly and confident Jay.

The similarity to The Great Gatsby

For all his dreams and hopes, Jay reminded me of Fitzgerald’s famous character Jay Gatsby. Jay is a boy whose personality greatly mesmerizes and influences Kairo and he comes off as an idealistic visionary, a talented naturalist and a rebel. There are many layers to his personality, however, and as the story progresses, we learn more about him.

A coming-of-age: Jay and Kairo

However, as Jay seems to be oblivious to the unstable situation all around him, Kairo seems to be a more emphatic and emotionally intelligent boy who takes stock of the things going on around him, although at the time he may not understand their significance. Jay and Kairo as a pair, seem to be a juxtaposition of two vastly different worlds; where Kairo belongs to the bourgeoisie, Jay can be said to belong to the ‘landed gentry’, for lack of a better term.

The similarity to Rhett Butler!!

Another character who was very interesting was Uncle Elvin. If Jay reminds me of Jay Gatsby because of his visionary ways, Elvin seems to embody Rhett Butler in his manner of living. I do not know why, but I somehow saw Clark Gable, more specifically his persona as Rhett Butler as Elvin, which is full of fast cars, girls and his extravagant ways.

A realistic writing style

As for the writing, the language is descriptive and so wholesome! The author has been able to well portray the thinking of youngsters burgeoning in their pre-adult years. There is a sense of rivalry that seems to be present, the need to be the leader and to dominate, etc. The use of the native words adds a very original flavor to the book.

Verdict:

I absolutely loved this book and I hope I can pick up more from the author’s milieu. I rate it 5/5 stars. Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book. Also, the postcard is so aesthetic!

Recommended reads:

  1. An Atlas of Impossible Longing
  2. City of Girls
  3. The Dutch House

Links:

  1. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48348802-suncatcher
  2. Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Suncatcher-Romesh-Gunesekera/dp/1526621584/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3U20JYQ6SXBVS&keywords=suncatcher+by+romesh+gunesekera&qid=1574268544&sprefix=suncatcher+by+romesh%2Caps%2C456&sr=8-1

Another Thriller: You Beneath Your Skin

You Beneath Your Skin is an enjoyable thriller set in India and as a thriller, it sheds light on the rape culture, acid attacks, etc.

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas
You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

Why pick up this thriller:

With a thrilling premise, You Beneath Your Skin proved to be an important read. So if you wish to start with crime fiction, this might just be the one for you.

A slow beginning:

 The book started slow but did pick up the pace pretty soon. So I think that if you can just power through the first few pages, it will prove to be a pretty interesting read.

Plot and themes:

The plot was well developed and the book delves into important aspects of the female population, more specifically, the various things women have to face. Rape and acid attacks are horrible issues that are plaguing society today and the author has included this in the book. For me, it was bittersweet as reading about the suffering is never wholesome, but it is also necessary at the same time that we understand that this is a reality and acknowledge its presence and the injustice. Brushing it aside it a gross insult to survivors and through the book, the author has tried to address this situation.

Writing style and title:

With a crisp writing style, the plot is full of unexpected twists and turns and you just cannot put it down. Once a person delves into the read, the reader will understand how significant and meaningful the title is. Politics and the power that the higher-ups wield, and how they use it, also forms the backdrop of the political situation in the book.

Verdict:

It was an overall good read. I rate it 3.75/5 stars.

Links:

  1. Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/BENEATH-YOUR-SKIN-DAMYANTI-BISWAS/dp/9386797623/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1574174641&refinements=p_27%3ADAMYANTI+BISWAS&s=books&sr=1-1
  2. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48080944-you-beneath-your-skin

Similar reads:

  1. The Silent Patient
  2. The Millenium Trilogy
  3. The Third Mrs. Durst
  4. Impossible Causes

An Atmospheric Thriller: Impossible Causes

Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew

Impossible Causes was an atmospheric thriller and it was one hell of a ride, and when I first picked it up, I had not expected it to take the turn that it had.

Atmospheric setting

The whole idea of a secluded island with a tightly knit religious community was very interesting, hence, no wonder I pounced on it as soon as I could. However, I have to admit that the synopsis did not do justice to the actual story.

Check out my review for The Silent Patient

The atmospheric world-building

The world-building, so to say, was on point and could give you goosebumps because of its excellence, and the book has an atmospheric feel. The fogs on the island made me feel claustrophobic and such was the imagery presented by the author.

Check out the thrilling The Millenium Trilogy

Shifting timelines

We have two-time lines – one is the current one where we follow Viola after the ‘discovery’ of the body, and the other is a past timeline from the time of Viola’s arrival on the island; but the continuous jumps between the two timelines and the narrators were a bit abrupt and took me by surprise. It took some time for me to get used to that.

Check out my review of The Third Mrs. Durst!

Pace

 The beginning was a bit slow and I had to push myself; however, contrarily, I was hooked on in a strange way. The thing was that in the beginning, there were bits, which were unnecessary and yet, I kept reading on because I wanted to resolve the entire issue. In was only towards the latter half that I was actually on the edge of my seat trying to wonder where it was going. For all the hype, I think that this book falls short and I wasn’t that very excited to know much about the actual death, but apart from these issues, I think the story was well made.

Themes

The book covers themes such as secrecy, the power of voice, collective conscience, rape culture, misogyny, sexism, etc. The way in which the author has written the plot to encompass the universal issues that plague us was mind-blowing. The themes were excellent. I could not really guess what was happening until quite a bit past from the midway point.

Overall, it was quite an interesting read and I rate it 3.75/5 stars.

Links to get this book!

  1. Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Impossible-Causes-Julie-Mayhew/dp/1408897024/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1574056956&sr=8-1
  2. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40653128-impossible-causes

Uplifting Poetry: Ease by Mukhpreet Khurana

Why I picked up this poetry collection:

I had read the poet’s previous work Unlocked Silences some time ago and had quite liked his writing style. It had come out in 2018 and was widely accepted. I remember finishing it in one day, as I devoured the words one by one. I put page flags on almost every page and it is only perhaps due to the absence of flags right now that I did not do the same thing to Ease.

Ease by Mukhpreet Khurana, 2019
Ease, by Mukhpreet Khurana, 2019

Ease: A Poetic Journey Within is a poetry collection that focuses on spirituality, self-love, healing, and gratitude. This poetry collection is a collection of raw, unfiltered and simple poems.

Check out my review of Unlocked Silences

The content matter

In Unlocked Silences, the author had focused a lot on spirituality and the individual. This has continued in Ease and being of a spiritual turn myself (as much as I am able to), I related with it a lot.

Themes in this poetry collection

Ease is a collection of ‘raw, unfiltered and simple poems’, poems that will touch you each time you read them. And no wonder I got so many queries asking me which book it was after I posted snippets on my stories. Many of the poems, abstracts, and musings revolve around the themes of self-love, individuality, healing, and gratitude. In today’s fast-paced world, it provided me relief.

The individuality of this work

The poems are all thought-provoking and especially because of its non-romance centric scenario, it was a panacea to me. I loved it too and look forward to more of the author’s works. Khurana’s rhythmic and lyrical tunes and spirituality permeate through the works and render a sensory experience to the reader.

  1. Amazon
  2. Goodreads

Collaborations

There are also collaborations with other writers and the end product is magical. It is always interesting to see how the voice of an artist comes out in case of collaborations. It was also a great pleasure and surprise when I found that one of my dearest friends Tahoora has also lent her talent to this collection. She is an amazing artist and I am so happy to see her work manifested into this book!

Check out Tahoora’s Instagram account here.

Verdict:

I rate this book 4/5 stars and wholeheartedly recommend it to all those who are looking for a dose for spirituality, self-love, and gratitude through non-romance centric poetry. 

Passion, Hard Work and Discipline