All posts by nika

Anamika: A Tale of Desire in a Time of War

Today I am talking about one of the most interesting books I have read this year! Anamika, by Meghnad Desai, was a fantastic story set in the days after Aurangzeb’s fall.

Anamika, by Meghnad Desai
Anamika, by Meghnad Desai

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(This blog post also contains a review copthat was sent to me by the publisher. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

synopsis

He was a powerful man, as she could see from his hands and his stature. And again, those penetrating eyes. Something had happened in Anamika’s dull daily life. What did it portend?

It is the eighteenth century. Emperor Aurangzeb has fallen, the Mughal Empire is a shadow of its former self, and India is rife with civil war. In these times of gardi, you’d have to be a lion to win power, and a wolf to keep it. When the beautiful Savitri, the only daughter of the Chief Minister of Purana Zilla, marries into a rich merchant household in Ranipur, she becomes Anamika. Her future seems assured—she is to bear her loving husband Abhi many children, eventually becoming the lady of the house and perpetuating the family’s fortunes.

But a tragic accident on their wedding day renders Abhi paraplegic, seemingly dooming their perfect future. Anamika still finds bliss in her love for her husband, but her in-laws’ unfulfilled dreams of progeny threaten to consume and destroy her.

The intrigue that appears

But into her life enters Abdul—the illegitimate son of Shah Ahmad Khan, locked in a deadly war with his brother Hassan for the throne. This powerful, magnetic stranger upsets the balance of her everyday life, thrusting both Anamika and Abhi into a newfound world of intoxicating freedom, conflicting desires, and deadly deceit. Crossing paths with the enigmatic courtesan-turned-bodyguard Nadya, the motherly Niloufer, the spirited young warrior princess Sonal, and a wide and motley cast of soldiers, assassins, courtesans, eunuchs, princes, and queens, Anamika must make bold choices and adopt many names for the sake of both desire and survival.

my review

Anamika: A Tale of Desire in a Time of War a simply a stunning read – full of sensuality intertwined with the duty of necessity. It was especially stunning for its vivid portrayal of women as nuanced and real figures rather than the usual tropes of ‘angel of the house’ or the ‘madwoman in the attic’ that are often used in both English and Indian English literature set in those times.

And because it is the female sex that so thoroughly engrossed me, let me talk about it first!

Womanhood and its various layers

In Anamika, we have the eponymous Anamika who is a mature and independent woman (well, as independent as a married woman in those times can possibly be). She is a loving wife and the way she navigates her life in her married home, around her mother-in-law and a particularly lusty father-in-law was quite well written. Her resolution and will power especially after the accident that rendered her husband a paraplegic.

But then, with the arrival of Abdul, there is a sexual awakening in her. Her very first view of Abdul brings up thoughts in her mind regarding his “penetrating” gaze and the way his hands and stature denoted power. I thought this particular aspect of Anamika’s growth was also empowering in the fact that she is personally growing and looking after herself, after the time she has spent looking after others around her.

Show of strength

Then comes Nadya, who was a courtesan but is now Hassan’s bodyguard. The very fact that she masquerades as Nadeer and stays by his side to protect him, again brings to mind another nature of a woman – that of the more physicality of her strength. I loved the portrayal of Nadya although she wasn’t an absolute favourite all the time. Despite that, I do admire her resolution and strength.

Lastly, a few lines about two other female characters in the book. Hassan’s mother was a truly formidable (and a bit scary) woman who rules the zenana. Princess Sonal is another wonderful woman who does not let anything stop her from learning what she wishes – strategy and warfare, and that too from a French general!

Political intrigue, wars and royalty

Because of what I could infer from the synopsis, it was pretty clear that there would be some interesting political intrigue, seeing as to how it was set in the days after Aurangzeb’s downfall. And surely, a great tussle was at the center of it all. Hassan is the legitimate son of the king, while Abdul is the illegitimate son of Shah Ahmad Khan. And thy are each other’s greatest adversaries striving to bring the other down o their way to claim the throne.

My final thoughts

I thought that Anamika was a really very interesting story and I was hooked from the very beginning! I rate it 4.5/5 stars! Do pick it up!

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The Super Secret Book: A fantastic adventure!

Today I am sharing my thoughts on THE SUPER SECRET BOOK, a fantastic adventure full of superheroes and supervillains!

The Super Secret Book, by Tian En

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synopsis

Violet Vivien is your not-so-typical seventeen-year-old girl. Better known as the sharpshooting superhero KOOLARA, she has dedicated her life to defending Diamond City alongside the city’s teenage crime-fighting team, the SUPER SECRET! These six young superheroes have always made taking down bad guys look like a breeze with their high-tech gadgets and unparalleled combat skills, but when a powerful, mysterious diamond falls into the hands of a vengeful supervillain, the Super Secret is forced into the biggest fight of their lives and must reconsider what it means to be a superhero before it’s too late…

Check out my reading vlog for this book!

my review

The Super Secret Book was truly an amazing sci-fi, fantasy read. I loved how innovative and yet at the same time, realistic the author was with all aspects of it – the superb high-end gadgets, to the various nuances of human relationships among the heroes themselves.

The writing was great as well and I was hooked from the very beginning. With the turning of every page, it just got more and more thrilling and it is therefore, no wonder that I finished it so soon!

My favourites!

I have to say that my personal favourites were Lady Damage and The Mystery and I look forward to seeing more of them, and learning more about them in the next book! (I am so happy this is going to be a series!)

Overall, I think it was a wonderful middle-grade fantasy read. I rated it 4/5 stars and will probably pick it up again!

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The Most Notorious Jailbreakers: A review

Today I am sharing my thoughts on THE MOST NOTORIOUS JAILBREAKERS, by Abeer Kapoor, an astounding look into the most daring escapades by some infamous criminals of India.

A definite must-read for fans of MIND HUNTER, CRIMINAL MINDS, and just every other true-crime fanatic out there!

The Most Notorious Jailbreakers, by Abeer Kapoor
The Most Notorious Jailbreakers, by Abeer Kapoor

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(This blog post also contains a review copthat was sent to me by publishers. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

synopsis

Did you know Sher Singh Rana, Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi’s killer, walked out of prison with his friends dressed up like the police officers who were to escort him to Roorkee for his hearing? India’s most notorious conman, Natwarlal, who was sentenced for an incredible 113 years by various courts, promised to pay a police officer a large amount of money if he helped him to escape after which the entire bundle of cash just caught fire all by itself.

In The Most Notorious Jailbreakers, journalist Abeer Kapoor helps you meet some really ‘infamous’ people, all of them criminals, who have escaped the gated walls of prisons all over India. From a math and computer teacher who is actually a rapist on parole, to a backward caste gangster famous for his bloodshedding escapade, and a former PM of a princely state who will do anything to con the authorities; Abeer pieces together the escape plans of 16 such notorious convicts who gave authorities hell, every time.

my review

The Most Notorious Jailbreakers was a truly very interesting book! I was hooked on from the very start getting to know the ins-and-outs, the thoughts, and planning that went behind every escape. The whole idea of writing a book about these daring escapades was just so amazing that the premise was enough to hook me in.

First Impressions

From the synopsis itself, one can understand how these infamous criminals of India made out of the dreaded prisons. Apart from the entire criminal nature of it all, one is compelled to really applaud the ingenuity of these criminals. I mean, damn, were they super clever and sly! Could we do the same if we were locked up? Haha!

Writing style

I also think the writing style of the author was just very intriguing. Instead of making it into a list of actions and plans and such, the author weaved an intricate plot, much like the amazing money heist movies that draw us in from the very start.

Reading about these criminals was just such a cool time! It was like I fell down this rabbit hole once I picked up this book and ended up finishing the book in like three hours. With just 181 pages, this book was a real stunner. I really enjoyed this book (if that hadn’t been obvious so far)! The only thing it lacked was perhaps a few pictures of these prisons, and these criminals. I rated it 4/5 stars!

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The Great Godden, by Meg Rosoff: A Magnificent Tale

Today I am sharing my thoughts on THE GREAT GODDEN, by Meg Rosoff, a stunning story of family, love, and betrayal, set during one long summer.

A definite must-read for fans of CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, and SWIMMING IN THE DARK!

The Great Godden, by Meg Rosoff

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synopsis

Everyone talks about falling in love like it’s the most miraculous, life-changing thing in the world. Something happens, they say, and you know.

That’s what happened when I met Kit Godden. I looked into his eyes and I knew. Only everyone else knew too. Everyone else felt exactly the same way.

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer – the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter two brothers – irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.

From Meg Rosoff, bestselling author of the iconic novel How I Live Now, comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale – a summer book that’s as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and The Greengage Summer.

my review

One of the best new literary fiction of contemporary times, THE GREAT GODDEN is a beautiful story of a summer set by the sea, a summer that leaves devastating scars on the people of this family.

The Great Godden and The Great Gatsby

I loved how reminiscent it was of THE GREAT GATSBY. The title even, for that matter, felt like wordplay on this modern tale. Very much like how Jay Gatsby has put Daisy Buchanan on a pedestal and made this huge illusion of her, so much about the charming and enigmatic Kit Godden is all about illusions, all smokes and mirrors.

The characters

I loved the way the author let us know about the characters, all these players in the play, bit by bit. The relationships that bind them all are also explored in nuances. I believe that THE GREAT GODDEN is as much a study in human psychology as it was a tale of a family in the throes of summer before school starts again. While it wasn’t that strong on the psychology point, there were certain shades of it and I often wondered about why the characters did what they did. In the end, you are left to wonder, who is the ‘Great Godden’ – Kit or Hugo.

Verdict!

Overall, I loved this book and I definitely will be going back to it again! I recommend all to pick it up again and again! A definite 5/5 stars!

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Undertow by Jahnavi Barua: My thoughts

Today I am sharing my thoughts on UNDERTOW, by Jahnavi Barua, a new and stunning story of family, love and Assam.

Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua
Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua

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synopsis

Loya is twenty-five: solitary, sincere, with restless stirrings in her heart. In an uncharacteristic move, she sets off on an unexpected journey, away from her mother, Rukmini, and her home in Bengaluru, to distant, misty Assam. She comes looking for her beloved Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, but also seeks someone else-her grandfather, Torun Ram Goswami, someone she has never met before.

She arrives at the Yellow House on the banks of the Brahmaputra, where Torun lives, not knowing that her life is about to change. Twenty-five years ago, Rukmini had been cast out of the family home by her mother, the formidable and charismatic Usha, while Torun watched silently. Loya now seeks answers, both from him and from the place that her mother once called home. In her quest, she finds an understanding not only of herself and her life but also of the precarious bonds that tie people together.

A delicate, poignant portrait of family and all that it contains, Undertow becomes, in the hands of this gifted writer, an exploration of much more: home and the outside world, the insider and the outsider, and the ever-evolving nature of love itself. 

Check out the reading vlog I made for this amazing book!

my review

Set in Guwahati, Undertow has been a gem of a book and I was in love from the very first page. It was our first ever Book Of The Month for our very new venture – Assam Book Club.

Reading this book during this time in history (as I am self-isolating during the Covid crisis) is probably the reason why this book hit me as it did. I saw my beautiful state, or rather, my beautiful city from the eyes of Loya, who is visiting here for the first time. I was travel-sick in a way and at the same time, home-sick, and I wanted to roam about the city as I did once upon a time.

Undertow was also included in the longlist for the JCB Prize in Literature and it felt so good to be represented. In mainstream Indian literature, which is also mostly of Central India, we Northeasterners hardly figure except as token characters. So this was a refreshing and welcome change. I felt represented, my culture and my way of life felt represented. This representation of Assam, taking into consideration the time period it is set in, was actually very apt and I myself could remember various scenarios I faced as I grew up (particularly the political aspects).

Check out my list of THE BOOKS TO READ from North East India!

Check out these pictures where I dressed up as a typical Assamese bride. This was special because my Mom lent me her own bridal clothes for this photoshoot.

I also made a spread for this book where I took for my inspiration the vibrant blue of the cover. And here is when we spend a few moments to admire the symbolic cover (I’m a lit major after all). The girl felt solid and at at the same time, a lone figure amidst the blue swirling around her.

Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua - a BuJo spread
Undertow, by Jahnavi Barua – a BuJo spread

I also think that just like the beautiful cover, the writing too was full of stunning imagery. And it so was. I felt like I was a tourist here, but then again, the representation of Assamese life is so true and realistic.

The relationships among the people were also well portrayed, including all the various nuances and undertones of emotions. Anger, spite, love, sadness, guilt etc. were all shown via the actions of the characters. I think it was all so beautiful in its wholeness. The author also delves over the lines that can separate families, orthodox ones; over choices in one’s spouse, job etc. It was true in the case of Rukmini (spouse) as well as Loya (job).

Talking about the ending, which has understandably divided the readership into two, I have to admit that I am quite satisfied with it. It felt like the story has in some way come to a full circle. I would like to reiterate that I really do believe that ending was necessary and that it was justified.

Overall, I thought it was a gem of a book and you should definitely pick it up! 5/5 stars!

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BHAIRAVI: The Runaway by Shivani

Today I am sharing my thoughts on BHAIRAVI: THE RUNAWAY, by Shivani urf Gaura Pant, an era-defining Hindi author, whose works are often paralleled to Jane Austen’s.

Bhairavi: The Runaway by Shivani
Bhairavi: The Runaway by Shivani

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synopsis

A still, dense, ancient forest. A dark cave deep within. And in it a woman-child whose beauty can move the most pious to sin. Who is she and why did she jump from a moving train to land in the biggest cremation ground teeming with Aghori Sadhus?

In this story spanning generations and redolent with Gothic imagery, Shivani urf Gaura Pant tells the story of a woman’s life, her moral and mental strength, and her resilience. She also examines the choices women have in her beautiful, descriptive prose. With an erudite foreword by her daughter and scholar, Mrinal Pande, and a preface by the translator, this book is Shivani for the 21st-century reader.

my review

Bhairavi was a stunning book and I loved it in its entirety. Even during the parts where the characters were not particularly likable or the situation they were going through was not entirely conducive, I thought that it was so real and something that could have perhaps happened to someone we know.

Narrative technique in Bhairavi

Talking about the writing style and the language used, I think it was very earthy and very Indian in the sense that even though it was in English, it really had an essence that was essentially that of a particular people and their cultures. It also had a very folktale-ish vibe as if it is an oral story that is being narrated to you. I think this is because of the ways in which the author has incorporated the folktale traditions of India into her writing – for instance, when narrating the anecdotes or talking of the relationships between people and so on.

Mother-daughter dynamic in Bhairavi

Then comes the most compelling and riveting and at the same time, the off-putting relationship of the mother-daughter duo. Chandan is a beautiful girl, an ‘apsara’ and that is the reason and excuse for why her mother binds her in the way she does. Rajeshwari is an over-protective mother and when one learns of her past, it is in a way the reason why she is like that. But then again, having gone through what she had as a young girl, I believe she should have been more understanding of her daughter and her wishes.

In that case, I suppose the saying is right – we grow up to be like our parents. But is that justification enough? Is it even right?
While I believe it is certainly getting better in contemporary times, I cannot deny that there are still some parents who unjustifiably coddle their daughters. Let me rephrase that, they are over-protective and downright oppressive. Wouldn’t that explain why so many of the kids we know nowadays, are good at sneaking and lying? I think a certain bit of leniency is needed so that both the kid and parents learn to trust each other’s decisions and not lie and sneak around.

Human prejudices in Bhairavi

There are also various prejudices that were shown via the thoughts of Rajswari in this book. Westernized people do not get any respect from her; rather, she curses her meat-eating neighbour and then is surprised by the way modern women live. All in all, I do believe it is a good reflection of the times that the book is set in, but I do hope we take a lesson from it. Just because it used to be that way in that past, doesn’t mean we do not change the way it goes.

Bhairavi in the end

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and Chandan’s journey was a long and learning one. Of course when the book ended, she still had a long way to go. However, she finally was in control of her fate and life, as it were. Beautiful writing and real-living characters, with an honest portrayal of the various issues that plagued society then (and in some ways, even now)!

I rate it 4/5 stars!

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DEATH BY SHAKESPEARE: A stunning dive into Shakespeare’s methods!

Today I am sharing my thoughts on DEATH BY SHAKESPEARE, an amazing analysis of Shakespeare’s unique methods of killing off his characters!

Death by Shakespeare, by Kathryn Harkup
Death by Shakespeare, by Kathryn Harkup

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synopsis

An in-depth look at the science behind the creative methods Shakespeare used to kill off his characters.

In Death By Shakespeare, Kathryn Harkup, best-selling author of A is for Arsenic and expert on the more gruesome side of science, turns her expertise to Shakespeare and the creative methods he used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cleopatra made it seem? How did Juliet appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in perfect health? Can you really kill someone by pouring poison in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Macbeth died from lack of sleep? Readers will find out exactly how all the iconic death scenes that have thrilled audiences for centuries would play out in real life.

In the Bard’s day death was a part of everyday life. Plague, pestilence and public executions were a common occurrence, and the chances of seeing a dead or dying body on the way home from the theater was a fairly likely scenario. Death is one of the major themes that reoccurs constantly throughout Shakespeare’s canon, and he certainly didn’t shy away from portraying the bloody reality of death on the stage. He didn’t have to invent gruesome or novel ways to kill off his characters when everyday experience provided plenty of inspiration.

Shakespeare’s era was also a time of huge scientific advance. The human body, its construction and how it was affected by disease came under scrutiny, overturning more than a thousand years of received Greek wisdom, and Shakespeare himself hinted at these new scientific discoveries and medical advances in his writing, such as circulation of the blood and treatments for syphilis.

Shakespeare found 74 different ways to kill off his characters, and audiences today still enjoy the same reactions–shock, sadness, fear–that they did over 400 years ago when these plays were first performed. But how realistic are these deaths, and did Shakespeare have the science to back them up?

my review

Death by Shakespeare was such an intriguing read! From the name itself, I knew that it had to obviously do with the deaths that occurred in Shakespeare’s plays – the hows mostly. And being a literature major with fair dabbling in the Shakespearean arts, I was of course very intrigued and my interest was piqued.

What was better though, was how the author built it up. England in those days was full of pestilence, and personal hygiene was an almost non-existent thing. So it was inevitable that various diseases flourished. Now all of these are facts. However, I have to applaud the author for the amazing fiction-like way in which she has given us a glimpse of this England. And it was a great build-up to the actual 74 ways Shakespeare used to kill if the famous (well, mostly infamous) characters from his various plays.

The historical context in regards to the wholeness of death was the most intriguing factor to me. England then was not like today – many people today go on for years without witnessing a death happen in front of their eyes (I haven’t, touchwood) but then, it was pretty much an everyday happening. Public executions were common, plagues often plagued the people (wordplay there), and wars, battles, uprisings were common, sudden street fights (as one sees in Romeo and Juliet) were also common happenings. As such, death was one of the threads that weaved the everydays of the people. And so, Shakespeare did not have to look far for inspiration.

There is also a lot of conjecture in this book, too. And in a way, it again only imbibed in me the scientific temperament and I would think and think if it was possible, coming up with ways in which it was, and counter-ways in which it was not possible. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun reading this book and I hope you all read it too and moreover, take your time with it!

I rate it 4/5 stars!

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Circles and Squares: A Novel of a biography

Today I am sharing my thoughts on CIRCLES AND SQUARES, a book on the Hamstead Modernists who were indispensable in the Avant-Garde Art Movement.

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Circles and Squares
Circles and Squares, by Caroline MacLean
synopsis

Hampstead in the 1930s. In this peaceful, verdant London suburb, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson have embarked on a love affair – a passion that will launch an era-defining art movement.

In her chronicle of the exhilarating rise and fall of British Modernism, Caroline Maclean captures the dazzling circle drawn into Hepworth and Nicholson’s wake: among them Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Herbert Read, and famed émigrés Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, and Piet Mondrian, blown in on the winds of change sweeping across Europe. Living and working within a few streets of their Parkhill Road studios, the artists form Unit One, a cornerstone of the Modernist movement which would bring them international renown.

Drawing on previously unpublished archive material, Caroline Maclean’s electrifying Circles and Squares brings the work, loves and rivalries of the Hampstead Modernists to life as never before, capturing a brief moment in time when a new way of living seemed possible. United in their belief in art’s power to change the world, her cast of trailblazers radiate hope and ambition during one of the darkest chapters of the twentieth century. 

my review

CIRCLES AND SQUARES was more of a biography of some very iconic Modernists, wrapped in a novel format. As a person who is not especially fond of biographies, I thought this now was actually done quite well. The narrative blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction, and the reader is left waiting on the various events and escapades (sometimes scandalous) of these people.

I also loved the inclusion of the pictures – it felt like I was reading about people who are alive. The touch is reality is always kept tangible via the photographs. I quite enjoyed this book and I think any Art History Major would love to have this book!

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AHALYA: A Feminist Retelling

Today I am sharing my thoughts on AHALYA, a feminist retelling of Ahalya, one of the Pancha Kanyas in Indian mythology.

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Ahalya, by Koral Dasgupta
Ahalya, by Koral Dasgupta
synopsis

It is known that Ahalya was cursed by her husband, Gautam, for indulging in a physical relationship with Indra. But is there another story to Ahalya’s truth? Who was Indra anyway? A king? A lover? A philanderer? The first book of the Sati series, Ahalya hinges on these core questions, narrating the course of her life, from innocence to infidelity.

In the Sati series, Koral Dasgupta explores the lives of the Pancha Kanyas from Indian mythology, all of whom had partners other than their husbands and yet are revered as the most enlightened women, whose purity of mind precedes over the purity of body. The five books of the Sati series reinvent these women and their men, in the modern context with a feminist consciousness.

my review

Ahalya was a fairly new take on a character who has unfortunately not been explored much – and to the extent that, her story is often relegated to the backseat. I admit I myself first was truly intrigued by her when Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explored her characteristics and actions in THE FOREST OF ENCHANTMENTS, another feminist retelling of the Ramayana, from the female (Sita’s) gaze. Prior to that my knowledge of Ahalya was limited to what I knew of her thanks to all the stories I had listened to, growing up.

Initial thoughts

When I came to know about this book, thanks to PAN MACMILLAN INDIA, I was very excited to read it and delve deeper into her story. Unfortunately, this was an overhyped read, and although I enjoyed it, I am afraid it fell short of what I was expecting. I felt that this book was very philosophical in a way (overtly so) and it was the one thing that I was not extremely fond of.

Redeeming factors

However, I also cannot deny that it is due to this wordplay the author uses, that the utter beauty of the prose was rendered. There is a fantastic intertwining of the philosophies of life along with Ahalya’s own growth. This is the contradiction at the heart of it – while I did not particularly like the philosophizing much, I shudder to think what the narrative would have been like without this lyrical and poetic hand that the author has used.

Realism

The characters have also all been really humanized – no one is really good or bad. They are humans (although admittedly with some godly qualities) like us, and therefore not entirely black or white. There is so much of the gray area in their beings. I felt really touched by the insecurities and fears that hindered them in their pursuit of growth and knowledge. After all, isn’t that what happens with us too?

It is a wonderful undertaking by the author and I look forward to the other works in this series. I rate it 3.5/5 stars.

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THE LONELINESS OF HIRA BARUA: Translated Work

Today I am sharing my thoughts on THE LONELINESS OF HIRA BARUA, a collection of Assamese short stories that ooze the essence of my beautiful motherland Assam.

(This blog post may contain affiliate links. That means I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. It does NOT COST you EXTRA)

(This blog posts also contain a review copy that was sent to me by publishers. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

The Loneliness of Hira Barua, by Arupa Patangia Kalita
The Loneliness of Hira Barua, by Arupa Patangia Kalita
synopsis

Hira Barua, an ageing widow living in a conflict-ridden region of Assam with her beloved Tibetan spaniel fears she is beginning to resemble a lonely Englishwoman from her past. A vicious sexual assault by the invading military drives a group of women into a shelter home. On a fateful night, a group of prostitutes make an extraordinary sacrifice for the safety of their companions.

In these, and thirteen other piercing, intimate portraits, women navigate family, violence, trauma, ambition and domesticity with caution, grace and a quiet resilience.

Originally published as Mariam Austin othoba Hira Barua, this remarkable collection by one of Assam’s finest living writers won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014. In this brilliant English translation, Arupa Patangia Kalita’s powerful voice is brought to fresh and vivid life. Written in a variety of styles, from gritty social realism, folklore to magical realism, The Loneliness of Hira Barua is a modern classic of Indian literature. 

Check out my reading vlog for this book here!

my review

The Loneliness of Hira Barua is a collection of 15 short stories by Arupa Patangia Kalita. It was translated from the original Assamese মৰিয়ম আষ্টিন অথবা হীৰা বৰুৱা, by Ranjita Biswas. It is a collection of tales set in the beautiful land of Assam and a wonderfully visual one at that. Thank you to PanMacmillan India for sending me a copy of this amazing collection!

The Women in these Stories

At the core, these stories all revolve around women in various stages of life – young Mainao, the outspoken and righteous Surabhi Barua, married Nibha-Bou, to Kuntibala who showers love blindly upon her son, Brinda khuri, and ending with the eponymous Hira Barua. Along with the diversity in their ages, these women face various problems and Biswas’s translation sets a beautiful motion for the storytelling. The reader is ensnared by this lyrical and poetic writing, which is often interspersed with these various serious and sometimes tragic issues.

Themes

These women all face oppression in different ways – from archaic rules of society, and the patriarchal bonds that clip their wings, to blind emotions that bind them and make them blind to some perhaps not so right things. These stories deal with the militancy that once ravaged the state and at the same time, the loneliness that grips so many people especially in the late stages of their life.

It is also because of these serious topics that reading this collection was an intense affair for me. I would put it down and take a break for a while because my heart would break reading these stories. But then I would always go back to it because such is the allure of this beautiful collection of store. There is an astounding depiction of my dear motherland. Assam and her beauty are unfurled as if Bohagi has let open her voluminous hair leaving behind a beautiful aroma.

The Loneliness of Hira Barua, Books-as-Outfits Challenge
The Loneliness of Hira Barua, Books-as-Outfits Challenge

Overall, I loved this book and am surely going back to rereading it soon! 5/5 stars! Check out my Youtube reading vlog for this book here.

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Indian Authors you need to read ASAP!

On the occasion of Independence Day, I am sharing a few literary fictions, non-fiction, poetry and other works by Indian authors that YOU NEED TO READ ASAP!

(This blog post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at NO EXTRA COST to you)

(This blog posts also contain a few review copies that were sent to me by publishers. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP! 1
Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP!

According to Wikipedia, Indian English literature (IEL), also referred to as Indian Writing in English (IWE), is the body of work by writers in India who write in the English language and whose native or co-native language could be one of the numerous languages of India.

While I believe in the importance of reading works in your own mother tongue, I cannot overlook the vast and wonderful oeuvre of IEL that the children of the Motherland have birthed. So in today’s post on the momentous occasion of the 74th Indian Independence Day, I am going to share with you all 10 books by Indian authors, that are either recommendations based on my reading experiences or books that are in my immediate TBR piles!

Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP! 2
Indian Authors You Need to Read ASAP!

BOOKS BY ASSAMESE AUTHORS!

I am an Assamese so can you blame me for including this whole category? Haha! But seriously, these are two books I have included in my immediate TBR and I am super stoked. Do share your thoughts if you have read these and I would love to share them on my Instagram!

UNDERTOW by Jahnavi Barua

Undertow by Jahnavi Barua

Set in Bengaluru and Guwahati, UNDERTOW is a heartwarming tale of how relationships can face a myriad of changes in the face of love, opposition, and societal norms.

Click here to BUY.

THE HOUSE WITH A THOUSAND STORIES by Aruni Kashyap

The House with a Thousand Stories, by Aruni Kashyap

Set in Mayong, THE HOUSE WITH A THOUSAND STORIES is a “bleeding and triumphant” tale surrounding a fateful wedding where secrets are unearthed, and bloody acts of violence almost lay a people to ruin.

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LITERARY FICTION

AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING by Anuradha Roy

An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy

A book that has remained a personal favourite ever since the first time I read it, AN ATLAS OF IMPOSSIBLE LONGING is a hauntingly beautiful story of love and real estate, in a house set on the verge of decay on the banks of a once-mighty river. Check out my review here.

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THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

A quintessential reading when it comes to IEL, THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS is a household name today. If you still have not heard about it (and even if you have) it is time to pick up this book and maybe join me in a buddy-read if you can!

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FANTASY

PATH OF THE SWAN: THE MAITREYA CHRONICLES part 1 by Charu Singh
PATH OF THE SWAN: THE MAITREYA CHRONICLES 1 by Charu Singh

Two words: Buddhist Fantasy! I am super proud to say that PATH OF THE SWAN is a book by my professor and the copy I own is a personalized signed one! I am really looking forward to reading it and since I also have the sequel, I have no worries of being left high and dry on a cliffhanger!

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UPON A BURNING THRONE by Ashok K Banker
UPON A BURNING THRONE by Ashok K Banker

Another fantasy that is inspired by the epic Mahabharata, UPON A BURNING THRONE, takes a unique perspective on this classic tale we have all grown up with. Suffice it to say, it was an adult fantasy that I loved reading! Check out my review here.

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(Thanks to Simon&Schuster for proving me the review copy)

POETRY

CIRCUS FOLK AND VILLAGE FREAKS by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal
CIRCUS FOLK AND VILLAGE FREAKS by Aparna Upadhyaya Sanyal

CIRCUS FOLK AND VILLAGE FREAKS is a truly unique collection of poetry that I read and enjoyed a lot. I loved how quirky it was with an amazing rhyming and poetic skill by the poet. Check out my review here.

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(Thanks to the poet for providing me with a review copy)

SAFRAN by Aishwarya Nir
Safran by Aishwarya Nir

Another poetry collection which was a wonderful union of love as well as spiritual poetry. I am so proud that it is a personalized signed copy as well! Check out my review here.

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(Thanks to the poet for providing me with a review copy)

NON FICTION

CITY OF MY HEART by Rana Safvi
CITY OF MY HEART by Rana Safvi

CITY OF MY HEART was a beautiful translated work of Urdu narrative, which surrounds the famous Revolt of 1857, as well as the decay of the once-mighty Mughal Empire. It is a beautiful book and I loved the vivid imagery! It felt like I was in ‘Dilli’ and I couldn’t bear to leave! Check out my review here.

Click here to BUY.

(Thanks to Hachette for proving me the review copy)

SEX AND POWER by Rita Banerji
SEX AND POWER by Rita Banerji

SEX AND POWER is a definitive look at the powerful relation between sex and power (pun intended)! The author explores the idea of sexual morality, social perceptions of sex, and also modifies Nietzsche’s slave versus master morality theory! Another book on my TBR!

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And that’s it, my wonderful readers! I had a lot of fun compiling this list. I hope YOU have great fun (hah!) reading these books! Do share any books you think should have been included in this list! There is a huge gap and selecting only 10 books from across the breadth and length of India may not have been a just act by me. Nonetheless, as time goes on, you and I will enrich each other and keep on adding more books to our TBR piles!

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Hex: A Dark Academia and Witchy crossover!

Hex, by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, was an astonishingly original and sensual book, with bountiful imagery.

Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

I received an arc of this book from Bloomsbury. All opinions expressed are my own.

my review

A contemporary stream of consciousness

I admit towards the first like 50pages of the book I was rather scatterbrained and it took me some time to get into this quirky, yet what I now consider a contemporary form of an academic stream of consciousness, writing style. That is to say, it grew on me. The fourth wall felt like it was being broken down, but then the reader realizes that it is Joan who is being addressed by Nell. However, as one reads and delves into this terrific narrative, one cannot wonder but think if some of the words are directed at our own cores.

A reflection of our selves?

I was not comfortable with how it started with a seemingly compulsive obsession of a Ph.D. student towards her dissertation tutor, but this book was not aimed at making you feel comfortable. It was a restless read and it made me thoughtful and ponder over the various aspects of the life we live – be it within our own minds and hearts as apart from the life others perceive us to live.

Of balance, equilibrium and a letter to oneself

I felt that the idea of the binary or the dichotomy was very prominent here – how one thing balances the other is portrayed again and yet, subtly most, if not all of the time.
The narrator Nell is also the protagonist and the whole story is rather her compendium, a collection of notebooks where she pours out her thoughts and honestly, lives, and ponders over most of her actual living. In the beginning, when I was still getting into the narrative, I found her obsession bordering on psychotic, but as we went on, I found that it moved towards self-acceptance, so much so that in the end, we could see that the characters were finally on the right path to correct themselves or to straighten out their lives for a start.

The idea of poison and how humans can be poisonous to each other is also explored. In the beginning, I wondered and this is what I wrote in my notes, “Is Nell a poison to herself and to Joan?” I found it comforting when this idea was brought up towards the last few pages – between Joan and Nell, of how in a marriage, the person marries oneself but poisons the other. It again brings to the fore, the idea of balance and of equanimity between the two parties in the relationship (of whatever kind).

The end

While the book felt very unsettling towards the beginning I have to admit that it ended on a note of hope, with the characters finally turning over a new leaf(except maybe Barry) and at peace with themselves. I wouldn’t say I was pleased reading this book but my grey cells were thoroughly intrigued throughout, more so post the first 50 pages of the book. On that note, this is a stunningly original work. Definitely recommend as I ended up rating it 4/5 stars!

Amazon
Amazon
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Goodreads
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SECRET CRUSH SEDUCTION: An ADULT ROMANCE

Secret Crush Seduction is another one of Jayci Lee’s adult romance in The Heirs of Hansol series and my love continues to grow for these characters and Jayci Lee’s writing!

Secret Crush Seduction
Secret Crush Seduction
synopsis

She’s done waiting for what she really wants. Aspiring fashion designer Adelaide Song wants to prove she’s more than just a pampered heiress. All she needs is a little courage—and the help of deliciously sexy Michael Reynolds, her childhood crush and her brother’s best friend. But when her secret crush turns into an illicit liaison, Adelaide realizes mixing business with pleasure spells trouble for all her plans.

my review

Another day, another novel by Jayci Lee in the Heirs of Hansol series (or rather a night of twisting and turning in my bed as the skies turned light outside and by the time I was done reading it was literally 5.30 am outside!) and I could eat my heart out.

I read the first book in the series TEMPORARY WIFE TEMPTATION (read it if you haven’t already!) and I loved it. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to read the sequel. Also, Lee says she has finished writing the third book as well, in the Acknowledgements, and I CANNOT KEEP CALM!

Stunning fleshed-out characters

Dare I say how much I loved ADELAIDE?! She is this fiery spirit and I loved her independence, her work ethic, and her will and determination to turn her life around.

The adult romance

Also, I found this relationship VERY VERY mature. Of course, there are miscommunications but they are not for the silly reasons that are used as tropes in various romance novels and you as a reader are left screaming at the characters to JUST TALK IT OUT!!! In this book, they do talk it out and I just honestly think it is very very mature and realistic compared to most books in this miscommunication or lack of communication trope.

Amazing use of tropes or Classic Lee

Also, the friends with benefits trope, and the friends to lovers trope are very much common but Lee’s way of twisting her story into a perfect conglomeration (I use big words now after reading about this heroine who has an MBA) of romance, friendship and the huge WORK PROJECT at the core was fantastic. Dare I say that it was also a bit of an office romance?

Verdict on this amazing adult romance (it’s clear isn’t it?)

Whatever I am trying to convey with these seemingly calm (I hope) and logical paragraphs is that I love Jayci Lee’s writing and ahh!! I am so eager to read Colin’s story!! But I dread the end of this series too! Anyway, I rated it 4/5 stars!

Anyway, READ THIS BOOK IF YOU HAVEN’T (in case I haven’t made that clear so far, which I sincerely hope I have) and then ALSO READ TEMPORARY WIFE TEMPTATION!
If you need more of a push (or a kick to your behind really) read my review of TEMPORARY WIFE TEMPTATION too!

Temporary Wife Temptation
Temporary Wife Temptation
Jayci Lee Books
Jayci Lee ‘The Heirs of Hansol’ books 1&2
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Reading Rush 2020 Wrap-up

Hey guys! I hope you had a wonderful week. I for one, was transported into an entirely different world. Or rather, worlds. The last week (July 20 to 26) I participated in the Reading Rush Readathon and had the time of my life!

Reading Rush Wrap-up
Reading Rush Wrap-up

What is the Reading Rush?

The Reading Rush is basically a readathon and the time when we drop everything else and read. There were a few prompts and one could either opt to choose one book for each or stack up.

Being me, I was of course super ambitious, and although I could not read every book I wanted to, it did go great and I read 6 books! So without further ado, let me tell you all about the different prompts and the books I read.

You can also check out the TBR video I made where I go over all the books and the synopses.

You can also check out the VLOG I uploaded on Youtube today!

Prompt 1: Read a book that is the same colour as your birthstone

Being an August baby, my birthstone is Peridot, which is lime green in colour. So I decided to pick up SEA PRAYER by Khaled Hosseini.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

It was a sad and intense read. It was so poignant; despite the short length, it was full of immense longing and pain and nostalgia. I was very much moved. I had previously read A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS, and this book with Hosseini’s impeccably strong and conducive writing just got to me. The illustrations were superb as well! It was a solid 4star read for me.

Prompt 2: Read a book that starts with ‘The’

For this prompt, I picked up THE ROANOKE GIRLS by Amy Engel.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This was a tale very twisted. It was mysterious and yet as I read it, I unconsciously knew the secret that haunts the Roanoke Girls. And I know this because when this stunning secret is revealed, I was not really shocked. Rather it was a confirmation of what I had already known all along. It is full of the hidden and repressed longings of the girls [due to the dominant and yet cunningly manipulative and seductive patriarchy that grants the man supreme hold over them all. This hold is not forceful but rather groomed into them since their birth. It is a twisted tale of love and oh, what love.
It is brilliantly executed and well placed. I loved it and definitely recommend it to all. It was a 5star read for me.

Prompt 3: Read a book that inspired a movie you have already seen

For this prompt, I decided on ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan.

Atonement by Ian McEwan
Atonement by Ian McEwan

I had already seen the movie and it remains, to date, one of the best movies I have ever seen. However, I did think that the writing style of this book was unnecessarily long and twisted as well as unnecessarily descriptive. I think perhaps the fact that I have already watched the movie, may have affected my understanding and viewing of the novel but that is not to say I did not enjoy it. It was certainly wonderful but could have been way shorter. Overall, it is a beautiful tragedy and I could definitely pick it up again, albeit after some time. I am not ready for my heart to be completely broken again. It was a 5star read for me.

It was also the second Ia McEwan book I picked up, the first being the book for Prompt 4.

Prompt 4: Read the first book you touch

For this prompt, I chose my first ever book by Ian McEwan – ENDURING LOVE.

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

It was as much a psychological novel as it was a literary masterpiece. McEwan has a superb mastery of language, seamlessly binding together utterly contrasting worlds of the entities of psychology, literature, and the hold over the readers’ catharsis. I was hooked from the very beginning by the story and the wonderful and seductive mix of literary fiction and psychology. It had a wonderful quality of the mystery of the unknown and fear of the known. It was a terrifying and exhilarating read. I rated it 4stars.

Prompt 5: Read a book completely not in your house

For this prompt, I picked up a wonderful anthology and read it on my grandma’s balcony.

Fearless Love
Fearless Love

FEARLESS LOVE was a superb anthology of works revolving around the LGBTQIA lives. These poignant and close-to-the-heart pieces from a variety of writers, in the ways that they expressed them in (short story, poetry, song lyrics, research essays, etc), throbbed with the resonance of their lives and the ways in which they matter, despite how society says otherwise. I rated it 5stars.

PROMPT 6: Read a book from your least read genre

Now this is where I started to stack up. Literary Fiction is a genre in which I have only started to dive in. As such, I believe the books ENDURING LOVE and ATONEMENT, were apt for this prompt as well.

PROMPT 7: Read a book set in a different continent than the one you are in (Asia)

Since I am in India (Asia), I felt that all the other book excepting SEA PRAYER and FEARLESS LOVE were apt for this prompt too. However, I did have an audiobook of PERSUASION from Netgalley and so I decided to pick up this classic set in Europe.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Like all of Jane Austen’s other works, this one too was a social commentary wrapped within a romance at the core. However, as is classic Austen, there is a superb intertwining of the social with the private. It is as much a social commentary as a journey into the minds of the characters and the psyche of theirs, all of which were affected so much by the social norms and expectations.
The narration was a fantastic one however I do believe the narrator could have included a bit more expression in his narration. Other than that, it was a perfect couple of days that I spent with this short yet significant read. I loved the classic Austen story and look forward to reading more of her works including Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. I rated it 5stars!

My Reading Rush Experience

I had a lot of fun this time around and if you haven’t participated in a Rush before, I definitely recommend you do. It is the best time you can have as a bibliophile, chatting and connecting with other such book lovers during this readathon!

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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!

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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:

Goodreads
Amazon
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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:

Goodreads
Amazon
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Invincible You 1
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.”

Women-centric literature: A book list #Birthdaybloghop

“And since a novel has this correspondence to real life, its values are to some extent those of real life. But it is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex; naturally this is so. Yet is it the masculine values that prevail. Speaking crudely, football and sport are “important”; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes “trivial.” And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing-room.”

– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
women-centric literature
women-centric literature

I recently compiled a list of books from my bookshelf, and the main theme that seemed to bind them all was the fact that they were either written by women or were about women in different spheres of life. Needless to say, many of these books, when they first came out, were often subject to various controversies, specifically because they also dealt with the themes of female independence, sexuality, intellectualism as well as female interrelationships.

Although these books all belong to various genres (literary fiction, nonfiction, bildungsroman, Post Colonial studies, dystopian, graphic novels, contemporary literature, etc), they have a common thread of continuity running through these. These follow women who are growing in one way or another (physically, emotionally, mentally, etc) and as such are often placed in contrast against the largely conservative and patriarchal society. All of these women are rebelling, in either a small or a big way, against the society that strives to repress them and their beings.

These are books that I have either read or am planning to read, specifically because of the subject matter. I believe that in one way or another, these can be great references when studying feminism, because like I have reiterated continually, they all deal with women and their rights, in various degrees. So, here is my book list of 25 books, including 3 special mentions, which I think every person should read.

  1. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin – A rich and exotic collection from the master of erotic writing!
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – The trials and tribulations of the March sisters during the American Civil War.
  3. The Ages of Lulu by Almudena Grandes – A groundbreaking novel of sexual exploration which was an overnight sensation and sparked international controversy!
  4. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde – A cyclical chronicle of the author’s coming-of-age and the different women who shaped her.
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – A dystopian novel that is utterly convincing in its representation of a society that does not let women read and uses them as breeders.
  6. The Loves of Faustyna by Nina Fitzpatrick – A sexual odyssey across the social and political scenario of Communist Poland.
  7. Orlando by Virginia Woolf – A love-letter to Woolf’s lover Vita Sackville-West, Orlando is a journey across three centuries.
  8. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – A retelling of the Jane Eyre story from the eyes of the madwoman in the attic!
  9. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir – A powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a groundbreaking exploration of inequality and otherness.  
  10. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – A feminist text that argues for the need for literal and figurative space for a woman to flourish and dedicate time to herself.
  11. The Awakening by Kate Chopin – One of the key first-wave feminist texts, that portrayed the stifling cage the institution of marriage was for one woman, who found respite in an extramarital affair.
  12. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – An intensely emotional read about a young girl suffering from mental health illness.
  13. The Color Purple by Alice Walker – An empowering story of a Black woman who faces multiple hardships, until she takes charge of her own destiny. Narrated via a series of letters.
  14. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – A seminal nonfiction work that serves as the most basic and relevant modern reason why one should be a feminist.
  15. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel – A graphic novel that explores sexuality, literature, and the effect of shame of closeted homosexuals.
  16. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi – Often described as a Middle Eastern version of Sex and the City, Embroideries deal with female sexuality, the concept of virginity, and independence.
  17. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – A fun read set during the years before and after the WWII, City of Girls is an exploration of one’s identity and sexuality, amidst the glamour of fashion and showgirls. Also, narrated by an old woman looking back on her life.
  18. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – The only book in this list, written by a male author, Madame Bovary is much like The Awakening in the sense that it follows a married woman trapped in her marriage, seeking emotional fulfillment in reading, spending and ultimately in adultery.
  19. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – One of the best-loved works in Victorian and children’s literature, it is about resilience and hope in the face of extreme hardships and sadness.
  20. Emma’s Secret (A Woman of Substance series) by Barbara Taylor Bradford – The Woman of Substance was a book that my aunt loved and heavily annotated, and as many would agree, a story of the indomitable spirit of a woman who with a mean entrepreneurial streak became the richest woman in the world.
  21. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – A reimagining of the Mahabharata from the eyes of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas.
  22. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – A book series that was a childhood favourite of many, and was again relieved via the Netflix series Anne with an E.

Special Mentions:

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  3. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
women-centric literature
women-centric literature

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.

Delving into Audiobooks! Tips & Tricks!

Audiobooks are one heck of a way to get into reading, to be honest! I love that they make me free to do other household chores. I am often listening to audiobooks while I wash the dishes, water the plants, or take a walk. However, I do understand that audiobooks can be daunting for many of us, especially non-native speakers of English. So today, I’ll be sharing a few tips and recommendations and I hope you will all find them beneficial!

Delving into audiobooks!

Here are the 8 tips which will probably help you all, just as they helped me when I was starting with audiobooks!!

Delving Into Audiobooks!
Audiobooks: How-to Pt. 1
  • Begin with a light read – like a poetry collection, or conversely, begin with a fast-paced thriller! For me, it was the fast-paced thriller/literary fiction that did the job – Long Bright River by Liz Moore.
  • Often as a beginner, listening to an audiobook can distract you if you are doing something that requires you to be actively focused on it, as opposed to doing the job by mere muscle memory. That is why I personally recommend you to first start with doing such muscle-memory jobs while listening to audiobooks.
  • This tip is especially for non-native English speakers, myself being one such example. Obviously it is difficult to understand someone who is speaking very fast. As such, I would recommend you to perhaps start with 1x and then increase the speed as you grow comfortable. I personally have become accustomed to 2x now.
  • The way a particular narrator narrates the tale, can make it or break it for the reader. Of course, this is subjective for every reader, and so if you have perhaps heard someone say that a particular audiobook (that you have been meaning to listen to) is not really great, don’t simply give up. Check it out! On the same note, always try to listen to the sample track before buying the audiobook for the same reason. Check it out before you commit to it or before you completely push it aside.
Audiobooks: How-to Pt. 2
  • If you are struggling to get into a physical book, then try to read it while also listening to the audiobook. This is a way of active learning, so perhaps you can also do it for college/school/work readings.
  • Always try to look at it in a positive manner. If you go in, thinking you won’t enjoy listening to audiobooks, chances are, you probably won’t. So keep an open mind!
  • Do not get discouraged. Since it is your first time delving into an audiobook, chances are there might be a couple of misses before the hook clicks in!
  • Lastly, check out my Audiobook Playlist on Youtube where there are quite a few audiobooks. Moreover, Librivox.org is a good source to get audiobooks!

Here I am also sharing recommendations of fabulous audiobooks (based on my personal experience, as well as recommendations I have come across!) I hope you all fall in love with audiobooks too! Here’s to a happy journey into a new world!

Audiobook recommendations!
Audiobook recommendations!

Check out my latest blog posts: How I read 250+ books a year! , How to Ace Online University! , Why you should NOT use Linktree! etc.

How to Ace Online University

With the lockdown seeming indefinite now, classes that had been postponed, are back in full force with their online counterparts. While we might not have as many scheduled online classes in a day as we had at university, the pressure has been undeniable there these days. I figure it is due to the fact that for most of us, the home environment is not at all what we would like a work environment to be – perhaps it is just not conducive with all the distractions around. Being a final year student, it has become my priority to stay on top of my classwork and self-study. So today, I’m going to share a few tips with you all, ones that have been helping me stay one step ahead, of this pressure that comes with the online university lifestyle!

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links (at no cost to you, of course! 🙂)

Regular sleep and exercise!

Regular Sleep and Exercise
Regular Sleep and Exercise

A healthy mind and a healthy body are so important at this time. The basic logic here is if you are not keeping well, how do you expect to stay on top of your game? I have been working out every day so that is really helping towards a regular sleeping time. Otherwise, I had hardly any physical activity during the day so I was not tired and couldn’t fall asleep at a decent hour. I would stay up with 3 or 4 am and it hampered me the next day, and so on. But ever since I have started to work out regularly, my sleeping has become so much better!

Have a planner and a daily schedule

Have a planner and a daily schedule
Have a planner and a daily schedule

A planner just makes life so much easier. For instance, the most obvious thing you can use it for, is to keep a note of your class schedule, so that you do not end up missing any. Moreover, it also helps you keep a track of your reading progress, assignment submission dates, etc. along the same lines, it also helps if you make a schedule for yourself. I like to get up early and help my mother with the household chores before I take a bath and get dressed and put on some makeup. This helps me psychologically and puts me in the study mindset. Acting as if it is a normal workday really helps. Here’s a link to buy the planner I use: https://amzn.to/2y4CD2R 

Have a designated study/workspace

Have a designated study space
Have a designated study space

I cannot stress this enough. The mind is programmed in such a way that you will inevitably fall asleep if you work on your bed. Therefore, having a separate space and going to it regularly only to work, will condition your mind into automatically starting to work. Besides, posture plays a key role in this. If you’re leaning back and lazing about trying to work, chances are you probably will not be able to really concentrate. However, if you are sitting up straight, you will also be aware and less prone to daydreaming!

Take breaks

Take breaks
Take breaks

Breaks are really important to rejuvenate yourself. I have been using the Pomodoro technique for ages and find that it is really helpful. In this technique, schedule yourself to work for 25 minutes and after it is over, take a five-minute break. This is your first set, you could say. Do this three more times, so that you have done 4 sets in two hours. Take a half/one hour break now. I like to hydrate myself during these breaks. Despite the fact that most of us are at home, we often forget to drink enough water. Perhaps, going and chatting with your family members, or doing a couple of easy exercises will also be great.

Set deadlines for yourself

Set deadlines
Set deadlines

Deadlines really help me to actually get work done. When you know you have tons of time on your hands,  chances are, you will probably end up procrastinating. I usually set huge assignments in a 2/3 day schedule and work my way through well. This has worked for me. However, if this does not work for you, you can also try actually finishing the job at one go. The most important thing is, to separate the entire task into smaller ones and complete them one by one.

Make study groups

Make a study group
Make a study group

If you are a competitive person like me, or someone who is too laidback (this works either way), make a study group. I have one with two of my friends and we work well together. We set our goals for the day/week and work our way through slowly while sharing updates. In this way, if one of us actually slacks, the fact that you are accountable to the rest of your study buddies will make you want to finish your tasks. Most importantly, I would like to note here, that it is advisable to make study groups with only the classmates who you know will be serious and will not just laze about procrastinating. 

So these are a few short tips to make sure you ace your online classes. At the end of the day however, your own discipline and desire to ace are what will matter and push you. These will simply help propel you further, the main engine being your own will and determination. I hope these tips will help you.

You can also check out: How to read 250+ books a year!

Why You Should Stop Using Linktree and Create Your Own Landing page!

(Why using Linktree is not feasible in the long run and an independent self-sustaining alternative route to your own website!)

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

― Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Being a business or an influencer on Instagram means that you probably have quite a few links you want to share with the world. And knowing how Instagram lets you add only one link in your bio, is, therefore, a problem. And this is where platforms like Linktree and Bio.fm came in.

You can create a landing page containing your various links, with the help of these platforms. Then you can add the URL of this one landing page’s URL in your bio. In all fairness, this is really helpful for all of us. However, the main issue is that you are still one click away from your own sites. It is not a direct route, but rather a bypass.

Here’s how using the Linktree looks like:

And it leads to:

So basically, while we cannot deny that Linktree has been very useful, there is still a better self-sustaining alternative.

The aim of adding a link in the bio on Instagram is to lead the visitor to your, say, website. And if you have only one such link to add (only website, or only a Facebook page, etc), then it is feasible to add just that one direct link in the bio.

But most often than not, we have multiple such links we need to attach. And that is why people end up using the Linktree which provides a landing page where all your platform links are noted. However, it is still a Linktree landing page and not your own page, and therein lies the issue.

In the long run, don’t you think it is better to depend on yourself for this? What if the website you are using (Linktree, for example), to make the landing page crashes one day (as Linktree has done previously)? What if, for whatever reason, that site just gets brought down? Where will you be then?

This is where your independent landing page comes in. This is what I do and what I would advise you all to do, too. Instead of making a Linktree landing page, make your own!

How I do this, is simply by creating a Contact Me/Reach Me page on my website. Most of the time, anyway, whenever you even create a new blog or website, there are a few pages that come by default and the Contact Me page is one of them.

Simply customize this already available page into including your links and then, add the URL of this page in the Instagram bio. As simple as that! You can design it and add your brand style to it and make it your own. Here’s what I do on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/pretty_little_bibliophile/ bio:

And it leads to a page on my own website:

I hope you all found this blog post helpful and informative as to why you should have your own independent landing page! Make sure to screenshot your landing page and tag me on Instagram!

Want to read 250+ books a year like me?! Check out this blog post!

How to Read 250+ books a Year!

An update of How to Read More Books?

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links (at no cost to you, of course! 🙂)

Hey guys! I’m sharing 13 tips today to help you read more books! These are tried and tested (I read 265 books in 2019 and have already finished 50 by mid-April 2020) .

  • Get a planner (Get mine: https://amzn.to/2y4CD2R )
  • Set monthly TBR goals
  • Set deadlines for each book
  • Indulge in guilty reads
  • Read books that you love; from the genre that you love
  • Keep a book with you always
  • Take part in readathons
  • Follow #bookstagram accounts that inspire you (Here’s mine, if you want to check it out: https://www.instagram.com/pretty_little_bibliophile/ )
  • Join book clubs and book discussions (Comment if you want to join mine, or alternatively, DM me in Instagram)
    • My April Book Club pick is THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead. I will be sharing my views with you in the April video. If you want to contribute, you are more than welcome to email me at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com
  • Use physical dictionaries

I hope these tips will be helpful to you all as well! Don’t forget to tag me in the Instagram tags and stories when you apply any of these!

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.
.
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.
.
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!