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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.

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MORE THAN WE BARGAINED FOR: The Romance Novel You Need To Pick Up ASAP!

Today’s blog post is on the recently released romance novel More Than We Bargained For. By Fiona West, it is Book 4 in her Timber Falls series! Spoiler Alert: I totally loved it!

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the
publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour.
All opinions expressed are my own.

More Than We Bargained For, by Fiona West
More Than We Bargained For, by Fiona West
synopsis
More Than We Bargained For, by Fiona West
More Than We Bargained For, by Fiona West

Wanted: renter for rural Oregon mountain lodge. Single mom divorcees named Starla preferred.

Starla Moore despises a mystery, and there’s no bigger mystery than Sawyer Devereaux. He comes into the library on Thursdays like clockwork, but rarely talks to anyone else. Not that she despises him; after all, he’s easy on the eyes, quick-witted, and that Southern accent makes her swoon. But in the midst of a divorce, her only romance is the bookish kind. Worst of all, crashing with her bestie won’t be an option soon, especially since her final fling with her husband had one very specific unintended consequence…

Regaining consciousness with his head in the cute librarian’s lap was a rude awakening; Sawyer thought his health problems were under control. Sans driver’s license, there’s no way he can live in his little cabin alone…or keep up with the anonymous book donations he’s been leaving to make Starla smile. When he finds out she’s struggling financially, he proposes a trade: his housing for her driving. Surely he can keep his feelings a secret for a few more months…

He’s given up on his dreams; she’s just figuring hers out. When the rumors start, will it push these two misfits together…or drive one of them out of Timber Falls for good?

my review

With perfect banter and writing, West’s fourth novel in the Timber Falls series, More Than We Bargained for, pulls you right in.

For a person who has recently found discovered a love for adult romances, More Than We Bargained For, was a welcome surprise. I loved the small town setting, the meddling neighbours, clingy ex, and the temperamental children! It was their loveliness (and annoying nature, at times), that truly made the difference and gave this book such a a heartwarming vibe.

Starla is a recently divorced mom of two young kids. Unfortunately, she is now down on her luck. As such, all of the difficulties she faces, and the way she reacts to them, makes her so real. As I read on, I couldn’t help but chuckle remembering the impulsive decisions I have made in my life, all the meddling I’ve had to face from my relatives and friends. And it made me feel so close to Starla!

Here is a peek at the picture I clicked for this book – Giving Starla a desi twist in my purple sari! To see more such pictures, check out my Bookstagram account!

More Than We Bargained For, by Fiona West
More Than We Bargained For, by Fiona West

Sawyer and depiction of a chronic illness

As for Sawyer, he is a lovely man. I think More Than We Bargained For has to be the second book I have read, which features a protagonist with a chronic illness, the first being in The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. There are so many layers to him and I loved getting to know him more and more, as I read on. Well, to be perfectly honest, I was moping and indulging in self-pity, totally jealous of Starla for landing this wonderful man, hah!

Let’s talk about another aspect – the kids. In many books, the kids are either too obedient and hardly ever cause any trouble (so not realistic), or not in the picture at all! I was quite happy with the way they were portrayed in this book – sweet, often surly, and naughty. Having raised almost 10 cousins and a sibling, I should know! I quite enjoyed their bantering too. And their relationship with Sawyer – oh my my! My ovaries were cooing.

Verdict:

Before I turn this blog post into a love letter for Sawyer, I shall take my leave. But not before stressing on how much I enjoyed reading More Than We Bargained For! I am thinking of picking up the first book in this series so stay tuned for that one too! I rather More Than We Bargained For a 4/5 stars.

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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

(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 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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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.

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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.

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(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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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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Youtube video review of TRUST THE UNIVERSE

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