Category Archives: BOOKS

🌻A Mid-Year Update🌷Life, Books, Writing and more!🌼

Now that June is over, I think it’s an apt time to share with you all, an update of my life and how it has gone for the first half of the year! So today’s blog post is a mid-year update of my life, my writing, reading and Youtube!

Mid-Year Update
Mid-Year Update

I think it goes without saying, that the first half of 2021 has been overwhelming. But before I delve into it all, I want to ask you all how you are. How did you feel for the majority of this time? Did you have anything going on at the time – school, college or a job? How have you been coping? Do you think you need to pay more attention to yourself?

In this increasingly online world, I think we all can agree that the personal and professional have merged. The line separating them has blurred; there are no divisions. We are compelled to check our email inbox regularly. We don’t have separate family/personal time and work time, anyone, because an email or a call may come that will disrupt the difference you may have attempted to set up. And so on. So let me know. Share your thoughts. Perhaps in this way, your heart will feel lighter, as I hope mine will too, once I am done writing this blog post.

Mid- Year Life Update

On the 16th of March 2021, I completed one whole year of being in isolation. And I shudder to think that in just another six months (less than that, to be honest), 2020 will have been two years ago! I certainly cannot bring myself to believe that.

My life has been disrupted much like yours. I was dreaming of moving to a city to start my MA. I was dreaming of that ever since 2020 when I graduated with my BA degree amidst the deadly pandemic, the likes of which we had never seen before. But then, because of the said pandemic, my admission into the next phase of study life got delayed and delayed.

Usually, a new scholastic year starts in August/September. And this first semester runs for roughly six months, ending in December/January. And the next semester then runs from January/February to June/July. What I mean to say is that any semester has a definite five/six months worth of classes. But the pandemic brought a stop to that as well.

The Infamous Delay

My admissions, which ideally should have been over by August, took on forever. in fact, it got delayed to the extent that my first semester of MA, started in January 2021, an estimated six-month delay postponing it to the extent that the first and second semesters of ALL first years students (either BA or MA) had to be reduced to a period of three months, so that by the time August 2021 could come around, we would catch up to the usual timings.

So that has put a damper on everything. As students, we are questioning how much knowledge we have actually gathered in this rushed situation. But we are still hopeful. It’s going to be okay.

I have started my second semester from June onwards and it’s starting to get a little bit hectic now. But a highlight of this period has to be the fact that I just got an email from the authorities of my university, that I will be getting a merit scholarship because of my first semester results. I was simply stunned. I did not know that there was this merit scholarship scheme in my university and so it came as a wonderful surprise. My parents and very happy of course, but they hope that I will take some time off for myself.

Time for a Break?

If you told me this a few years earlier I would have laughed outright. Parents telling you to study less? Why that’s the stuff of legends! But my parents probably saw my hard work during my BA years (I finally passed summa cum laude and the hard work paid off) which was when they had first told me to “relax a bit”. Perhaps they see the same now, but while the success surely makes me high, I do need to take a breather.

Ever since passing my 12th board, I have been constantly working. I finished six internships during the three years of my BA and now I am doing another one. I am managing my Youtube, writing on Medium, updating my Instagram regularly and whatnot. Perhaps at the end of this year, I just might take a much-needed break. But that’s for later.

Mid-Year Writing Update

I have started to put down my writer’s cap more firmly on my head. You see, I have finally started to write more regularly and I am loving the mental stimulation it has been providing. At the same time, I am admittedly also taking it slow and only writing when the inspiration strikes. Based on my previous experiences, I know that forcing myself will usually backfire and I want to avoid that at all costs.

I am also publishing my works on Medium and oh what a delight it has been. Getting validation in the form of claps, highlights, amazing comments and the “Congratulations! You are a Top Writer” emails has been a constant drug I am thriving on.

A book review I wrote recently, is a favourite from my writing samples. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed was a wacky book and I am so in the mood for more!

I also dedicated posts each to my mom and dad for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day respectively!

Right now, I am doing a challenge where I am hoping to write at least 12 articles in July. It has been going well so far and so I hope I will have good news to share when I will write the end of the year update.

Mid-Year Reading Update

Oh, but where shall we start about my reading. I read a total of 146 books within the January-June period, but unfortunately, my reading was not as good as I’d like.

Currently Reading

And that is also why I decided to read less but more consciously from July onwards. I am reading two books currently – Mouthful of Birds, by Samanta Schweblin and A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth. Most importantly, I am tremendously enjoying both of them!

My Top 10 Reads of the First Half of 2021

That said, I also made a list of the top 10 books I have read this year, across various genres such as Adult Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Adult Romance, Poetry and Non-Fiction.

New Books I Want to Get To

Two of these are books that I have acquired recently and the latter two are actually new releases! These are The Maidens, Plain Bad Heroines, Ace of Spades, When The Girls Are Sleeping, and The River Has Teeth.

Biggest Disappointments

I was sad that this happened, but then again, you cannot absolutely love some books, without disliking another. So the books I thought were disappointing were Jane Eyre, and Blood and Honey.

Biggest surprises

I assumed I wouldn’t really maybe like these books, but I ended up liking them more than I had expected! Those were Skim, I Am Heathcliff, I Would Leave Me If I Could, Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom, The Empress of Salt and Fortune, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones and the Six, Supplicant, and the Heart Stopper series.

Mid-Year Thrillers Recommendations (BONUS!)

I also got to read/listen to some fantastic thrillers, including The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, The Devil and the Dark Water, The Girl Before, Believe Me, The Guest List, The Hunting Party, Every Vow You Break, and The Wife Upstairs.

Mid-Year Youtube Update

Monthly Wrap-ups

Collaborations and Sponsorships

Thanks to your support I was also able to do some amazing collaborations and sponsorship projects!


I also had fun filming a few vlogs, both in terms of reading and lifestyle.

Book Recommendations and Tips!

So as you can see I sure had a lot of fun exploring my creativity during the first half of this year! I can only hope that this continues.

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And that’s pretty much it, lovelies! If you have any thoughts about these books, do share them down below in the comments. Alternately, if you have also written a mid-year update, let me know!

Previous posts that you can check out:

  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid: A Review
  2. Girl in White Cotton, by Avni Doshi: A Review
  3. Notes on Grief, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A Review
  4. The Jasmine Throne, by Tasha Suri: A Review

The Vengeful and the Depraved in ‘The Dangers of Smoking in Bed’

And how it made me face my own depravity

'The Dangers of Smoking in Bed', by Mariana Enriquez
‘The Dangers of Smoking in Bed’, by Mariana Enriquez

(THE VENGEFUL AND THE DEPRAVED IN ‘THE DANGERS OF SMOKING IN BED’ first published on Medium publication Coffee Time Reviews. You can read the full review here)

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

Let me begin by sharing the ways in which I tried to describe the feelings that came to my mind, as I read this collection of short stories. There were a lot of horrified oh-my-gods, and quite a few disgusted oh-my-gods; I thought they were compelling, some scary, some sobering, some that made me very very uncomfortable, and some that just confused me. But was it a powerhouse? Hell yes.

Argentine author Mariana Enriquez, who has been compared to Shirley Jackson and Jorge Luis Borge, brings to us a compelling collection of stories that suck you in and yet, at the same time, really repel you. Each of these stories is unconventional and is a horror-take on some issues, which, at the core, are often socio-political in nature. Perhaps ‘macabre’ is the right word to use for her works.

My Thoughts and Why You Need to Read It ASAP

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed was truly a book unlike any other. At first glance at the synopsis, one might think that the stories are gross and disgusting and that would be reason enough to rate it really low. But on the contrary, I have quite possibly never read anything like this. I loved it, yes, with all its weirdness, its fetishes, and all its horror. I read it and I loved it and I rated it 5 stars.

We both knew what the ending might be, and we didn’t care.

I went in knowing that I might have to face the dark at night. And that was indeed saying a lot because I am generally not a scaredy-cat. I can watch a ghost/demon/horror movie at 3 am when it’s pitch black and fear can come in the shape of a headless man standing in the corner of your room when it is just your jacket hung up on the hook. And so, to say that I was spooked might not be an understatement.

One of my top 5 favorite stories in this collection has to be Our Lady of the Quarry. It’s got the usual teenage drama, jealousy, and parties and boys. But it also has a gruesome revenge plot that I was taken aback by. But that is not all. I faced my own depravity when I felt my righteous anger at the two characters who, I ended up believing deserved what came for them. It was an unsettling end but what was more unsettling was my own reaction to it and how my dark side came out so easily. Perhaps, our dark sides are ultimately not that deeply embedded in us, and are just lurking around under the skin?

Perhaps, our dark sides are ultimately not that deeply embedded in us, and are just lurking around under the skin?

What was it about this author’s power that pulled me in? That made me understand my boundaries more and made my depravities and my fetishes more recognizable? What made me deny my denial of this knowledge? Should I now create an altar and worship this goddess writer? Or would that make me weird enough to be clubbed together with these characters in the stories?

What was it about this writing, these stories, and the characters’ unreliability that made this such a mind-blowing read for me? Was it because I was forced to face the basic and the basest of human desires and capabilities? Was it because I was forced to face my own humanity (or its lack thereof)?

The Unavoidable Discourse and Disappointments

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed has some unavoidable socio-political and cultural themes that are underlying the horror and the grime but may perhaps be the core of it all. From stories of people being ‘taken away’, to people being ‘trapped’, it is full of such subtle jabs and hints of a cultural and political makeup of a people, of a country.

There were also a couple of stories that seemed a bit mild to me and therefore not very memorable. But that is to say, perhaps I have already been influenced, corrupted, and debauched enough to find them mild. It certainly is a dark ride, one that makes you question your own morality, your own humanity. Proceed with caution!

Final Thoughts

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is not an easy read. It is certainly not a comforting read either. But if you are one among those who revel in the macabre and the horror and the freakishness, this might be for you. If you want to expand your senses and dabble with that which is outside your box and makes you uncomfortable, this is for you. Go for it.

If you want to see more such book-related content check out my Book Instagram page, and Youtube Channel!

Check it out on:

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The Jasmine Throne: Blog Tour and Review

(And Why You Need to Pick It Up ASAP!)

My thoughts and review of The Jasmine Throne, a 2021 desi sapphic adult-fantasy bestseller that you need to pick up as soon as possible!

The Jasmine Throne banner
The Jasmine Throne, by Tasha Suri

(I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher Orbit Books and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour)

A desi adult-fantasy with just the right ingredients!

The Jasmine Throne was in my most-anticipated releases of 2021 and I was so happy that I could participate in the blog tour! I was intrigued from the beginning and I have to say, I loved every bit of it!

🌻And so I also gave my own twist to the book cover!🌻

My take on The-Jasmine-Throne cover

The Jasmine Throne is set in a world much inspired by medieval India and along with the author’s spellbinding imagination and writing, the end product was a novel I was not going to forget anytime soon!

We follow the two protagonists Malini, an exiled princess of the kingdom and sister to a very hate-mongering Emperor, and Priya, a maidservant who is tasked to take care of her. But not all is as it seems. Behind the now, needle flower drug-addled mind of Malini, there was once a sharp wit and political wisdom and Priya has her own secrets to hide – her history as a temple child.

Apart from them there are a host of other characters – princes, rebels, lords and ladies, all of whom play various major and minor roles in the culmination of this story. Executed with stupendous talent, the world of The Jasmine Throne is one you will never forget!

Desi Representation and Other Highlights in The Jasmine Throne

🌻Women in saris

🌻The food (Oh my god, I swear I have lost count of the number of times I have smacked my lips as I read on through the nights)

🌻Traditional and religious beliefs (or rather, the way they reflected our own differences in worship and practices)

🌻The architecture (havelis, temples, pleasure houses and all of it!)


🌻Women rising against the patriarchy!

🌻Morally-grey characters and Sapphic Leads!

The-Jasmine-Throne book cover
The-Jasmine-Throne book cover

Relationships and Family Dynamics in The Jasmine Throne

Oh what a tangled thread this bit was! Human relationships and all its nuances were nudged upon via the interactions of these characters.

Malini’s brother wants her to burn to become pure. Priya’s brother wants to use her for his own agenda. Malini and Priya need to work together despite the doubts and queries about the other, that plague their minds.

We have Bhumika, a former temple-child and Priya’s temple-sister who has chosen her path to survive. There is Rukh who is torn between his loyalties. We also have Prince Rao and Prince Prem who are making allies and enemies in the path to achieving their goal.

As I read, I was amazed at the ways in which all of it was intertwined and how it affected the people and their actions.

Myths and Allusions in The Jasmine Throne

I especially love how the author included myths and legends from our own stories and alluded to them often in the book. It was like coming across Easter Eggs that really made me, as an Indian person, feel represented and alive!

Priya once tells the story of how a man was born under lucky stars and therefore could not marry another human. And so her marries a tree. For those that know, this is very much inspired from the ways Maanglik people conduct their marriages.

There was also a reference to the ‘palace of illusions’ in the form of a pleasure house that was literally named as such. Priya spoke of a beautiful queen who had many husbands – clearly a reference to Draupadi from the epic Mahabharata.

There was also the story of how Aloran people did not reveal their true names to others. It was in fact very relatable as we often do not reveal our names (those assigned at birth by the priests, and written on our astrological charts, made at the time of our births). I remember how I and my brother were told never to reveal it except for religious purposes.

World-Building, Politics and Romance

The world-building was definitely one of the best points about the book, if not the best. I loved how an entire nation was conjured up by Tasha Suri’s imagination and was given life to. The legends and historiography also helped in this regard. It was such lush imagery, that as a reader it clearly brought up images in my mind’s eye.

When it comes to the politics of this world, it is inevitable that I also talk about the secrets that the characters held close to them. They held their cards close to them throughout and it was only on the crucial points that the important bits were revealed!

A lot of the book is political precisely because of the way in which Malini and Priya meet. Being a politically exiled person, albeit a princess, Malini’s actions are limited and at the same time, every action she takes has some importance. Without trying to reveal much or give any spoilers, I must say that it is in some ways very reflective to the world today – in the curbing of the people’s ways of living, be it sexual, philosophical, political or even religious.

The romance was thrillingly slow-burn and it kept me on the edge of my seat. From princess/maid dynamics to allies to lovers, it was a long ride and I was rooting from them throughout.

What Didn’t Work

My only complaint was the way the middle bit of the story became slow. The pace was dragging and I thought some of it was just filler material and could have been done without.

What ‘The Jasmine Throne’ is about

The Jasmine Throne cover
The Jasmine Throne cover

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication date: 08 June 2021

Cover art: Micah Epstein (illustrator)Lauren Panepinto (designer)

Age group: Adult

Genres: Fantasy

Trigger/Content Warnings in The Jasmine Throne

  • Immolation/self-immolation
  • Child murder
  • Human sacrifice
  • Abusive family dynamics
  • Forced drug use, depictions of addiction/withdrawal
  • Colourism, xenophobia
  • Violence against women
  • Homophobia/internalized homophobia
  • Body horror

About the author

Tasha Suri
Author Tasha Suri

Tasha Suri was born in Harrow, north-west London. The daughter of Punjabi parents, she spent many childhood holidays exploring India with her family, and still fondly remembers the time she was chased around the Taj Mahal by an irate tour guide. She studied English and creative writing at Warwick University, and now lives in London where she works as a librarian. To no one’s surprise, she owns a cat. A love of period Bollywood films, history and mythology led her to begin writing South Asian influenced fantasy. Tasha Suri has won the British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer Award and Starburst Brave New Words Award.

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Check out the book here:

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An Unforgettable Bisexual Icon: Evelyn Hugo

Why you need to read ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’

'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo', by Taylor Jenkins Reid
‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

(AN UNFORGETTABLE BISEXUAL ICON first published on Medium publication Coffee Time Reviews. You can read the full review here)

Who is Evelyn Hugo, you ask?
Why, only the greatest star the world has ever seen!

My thoughts on ‘The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo’

But seriously, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is an unforgettable read with an equally unforgettable bisexual heroine, the likes of whom we haven’t seen much in the contemporary bookish sphere. It is a book that left an imprint on me. For the longest time, we women have been told to be kind and demure, and polite, even as we try to make our way towards the pinnacle. And Evelyn tell us,

My mother raised me to be polite, to be demure. I have long operated under the idea that civility is subservience. But it hasn’t gotten me very far, that type of kindness. The world respects people who think they should be running it.

From ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is where the book breaks all expectations. We get to see a flawed, ruthless, selfish, kind, ambitious, sexual woman who knows what she wants and is willing to work her ass off for it. Evelyn Hugo is a woman who we can admire and at the same time, also dislike.

LGBTQ representation in ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’

But the reason why I am telling you about it today is that it is the first book I have come across that places a bisexual character on the forefront. For the longest time, sexuality has been considered a binary — you are either a heterosexual or a homosexual. But I ask, what about the Pansexuals? The Asexuals? The Bisexuals? And mind you, there are a number of sexualities across the spectrum today. 

I’m bisexual. Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box.

From ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The representation is actually on point — you have a bisexual icon, there are some amazing secondary characters who are also homosexuals; and there are people of color (biracial, Latinx, black). All of them are well-formed and it is such a delight reading about them. So during this year’s Pride Month, if you are still unsure of which book to pick up, pick up this one. It will remain with you forever.

If you want to see more such book-related content check out my Book Instagram page, and Youtube Channel!

Check it out on:

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My thoughts on ‘Girl in White Cotton’

Hi friends! Today I’ll be sharing my very conflicted thoughts on Avni Doshi’s Girl in White Cotton, aka, Burnt Sugar.

Avni Doshi's 'Girl in White Cotton'
Avni Doshi’s ‘Girl in White Cotton’

I read this book as a part of my bookclub in May. If you are looking for a bookclub to join, we read books nominated for various prizes. Do join READ WITH NIKA BOOKCLUB

What ‘Girl in White Cotton’ Meant to Me

‘Girl in White Cotton’ was a book I picked up in May and it left me with such complicated feelings. It is described as a “love story and a story about betrayal… between mother and daughter”

A complicated mother

The thing that I could simply not comprehend was how difficult a mother Tara was. What made her act that way? What made her so… uncaring about her daughter? I have to admit that sometimes I am a person who tends to see things in black and white. And this experience of reading the book placed me in such a position where I simply could not understand the motives of the mother in acting the way she did. I think a mother is supposed to love and care for her child – not necessarily at the cost of her own selfhood – but at least actively taking action for the good of her child.

A conflicted daughter

And this is where the issue lies with me – I hate Tara for making Antara go through all that she did. The games that the mother played were not well accepted by me either – she is hot and cold, and constantly confuses her daughter Antara. Therefore it is no wonder why Antara seems unable to form stable emotional bonds with those around her. I mean, superficially they seem normal but as the reader, we get to see her emotional turmoil – one that she herself is not completely aware of. Moreover, as the aspect of memory came up again and again, I felt like both mother and daughter were becoming unreliable narrators. 

Who is responsible?

And in general, Antara is not responsible for how her mother made her feel, I believe. The reason she had all the conflicted emotions about her now-old and dementia-ridden mother, is because the mother never really gave her any security – physical, emotional, or mental. And the end just confirmed my emotions – Tara is nothing more than a vindictive soul.

Final Thoughts

As a story it made me feel so much – I applaud the author’s talent, I really do. These characters made me angry and confused, and I was definitely in for a ride. But I have to say, objectively speaking, it was very good and therefore no wonder it got nominated for so many prizes. I can say for sure that I will definitely be reading any future novels of Avni Doshi.

If you want to see more such book-related content check out my Book Instagram page, and Youtube Channel!

Check it out on:

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you might also enjoy these

Popular Youtube Videos

  1. Books for beginners
  2. Massive Flipkart Book Haul
  3. Autumn-themed bookshelf and reading nook
  4. Bookshelf Tour
  5. Massive Book Unhaul
  6. How to Read More Books