Tag Archives: #university

My 21st Birthday Book Haul 2019!


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Thank you all so much for your wishes! I was blown away by all the messages you guys sent me! And well, now according to that poll, here i. With my #birthday #bookhaul . I didn’t buy many books this time because I’m out of space. So I bought 5 books I’ll be needing for uni classes and only 2 for … Umm recreation (?)
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1. The African Trilogy by #chinuaachebe from @everymanslibrary
2. Leaves of Grass by #waltwhitman from @fingerprintpublishingbooks
3. A Streetcar Named Desire by #tennesseewilliams from @penguinindia @penguinclassics
4. Death of a Salesman by #arthurmiller
5. The Grapes of Wrath by #johnsteinbeck
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6. A Gathering of Shadows by @veschwab from @titanbooks
7. A Conjuring of Light #ADSOM
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I also got a #bulletjournal for the second half of the year. It’s a dotted one from @menorah.stationery and I’m loving it! I post my bulletjournal pics in @pretty_little_dilettante so you can check that out. I also got a @tombow_india black #brushpen and I’m loving it’s smoothness!
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#qotd : when are your birthdays guys? And what was the most memorable birthday you had?

How to read more books? Or How I have read 100 books so far into the year!

It’s only August, and I have already read a record 100 books! Which is way more than I have ever read in one year. I have always been an avid reader and reading was never boring to me; I’d rather read than watch YouTube/Netflix- something that still stands. Unless, of course, it has a certain Peter Kavinsky in it 😉 (I mean, that is one beautiful man! Have you seen the movie yet?)

So anyway, like I have been saying, this year has been a phenomenal reading year for me. And I can only hope that this streak continues. So without further ado, let me state a few points which I have personally used this year and they have helped me immensely in setting this record.

  1. Since you might feel that to read a novel, you need more time, I would definitely advise to get a planner. What it does, is helps you prioritize the things you need to do or have to do, and sheds light on the time you waste as well. I personally keep a bullet journal and that has helped me immensely in organizing my day to day activities and as such I find myself with enough free time on my hands.
  2. Set monthly TBR goals! (TBR stands for To Be Read.) So I try to set a goal of 10 books each month- when I think that it’s a busy month, or else I set a minimum of 20 books per month.But you also have to keep in account, the size of the book- don’t be disheartened if you read, say perhaps, just 5 thick books. The size or the number of words/pages really matter as well. I read books with a minimum of 300 pages each mostly, so I can easily cross 15 every month, unless I’ve got exams or such school activities. Setting a goal always helps!
    1. Now one thing that always works for me is to set higher goals that I think I can achieve. It’s something like the saying goes- aim for the moon and you’ll fall on the stars (?). Something like that I suppose. Now this ideology really helps me- because I am a naturally competitive person with myself- I always am aiming to do better than what I have done previously. So if I set the goal at 20, and I only reach 15, that’s a pretty good number too! However, the catch-22 here is that this can also affect someone else in a completely opposite manner. So I definitely recommend you try this one out once and go on from there. This sub point is so not for everyone.
  3. Set deadlines for each book. Setting deadlines just as goals, really help too. While I have specific deadlines for the books, I sometimes fly past them- I am a university student after all, and I have to give more importance to my course books, of course. Nonetheless, it really helps me to finish the books I want to. My deadlines vary as such- 150-200 pages – maximum of 2 days; 250-350 pages – maximum of 3 days; 400-500+ pages – maximum of 5 days.
  4. Indulge in guilty-reads! Sometimes, when I can feel the ominous onset of a reading slump, I go back to my guilty-reads. Guilty reads can be described as those books that you really love- but would not call them something serious, rather something light and for mindless fun. For me, the guilty reads are all the vintage Mills and Boon books. (How many of you have also loved them?)
    1. Going on the same vain, do read books that you actually love. Don’t force yourself to read something you hate (unless you have to, for school! ;)) If you keep on forcing yourself to read books you hate, your brain will condition you into hating the process of reading itself!
  5. The most important tip perhaps is to keep a book with you always– an eBook for when you go out but are not carrying anything except your wallet and phone perhaps, and an actual paperback copy for when you have a bag big enough to fit it in. Then, you can also read whenever you want. If you are a person who prefers to read a single book at a time, then make sure you also have an eBook of the same.
  6. For inspiration, take part in readathons– something I actively do and also host in my Instagram book account, aka a bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile). On the same vein, follow a few bookstagram profiles that can help inspire you.
  7. Join book discussions. This will condition your mind into looking forward to these sessions, as a result of which, you will actually finish reading the book.
    1. Also join book clubs! (Feel free to join mine!)
  8. If you think you need help while reading, regarding the word meanings, keep an actual dictionary with you, rather than using your phone. This will ensure that you won’t stray and end up watching a YouTube video or two.
  9. Always have a set space for your reading/studying. This goes for both active and passive reading. Continuously indulging in this, will condition your mind to just read/study in that place. I have my desk where, I automatically start working, because that’s the place where I have always read and studied, and the like.
  10. A bonus tip- if you really find difficulty in reading while there is a lot of noise in the background, you might like having some white noise (This goes even when you are studying.) I use the Tide app or Rainy Mood website to block out any unnecessary noise!

You can reach me at my email, nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com

Lots of love,

Nika!

Chanakya: The Legend Begins (Itihasa Series Book 1), Ashok K. Banker, 2018

(Previously published at https://indiabookstagram.com/housenika/chanakya-the-legend-begins-itihasa-series-book-1-ashok-k-banker-2019/ )
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Title: Chanakya: The Legend Begins
Author: Ashok K. Banker
Publishers: Westland Publishers
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 156
Genre: Historical Fiction
 
Synopsis:
Jurist, war strategist, kingmaker. Master administrator. Author of the Arthashastra. But before the legend, there was the boy: Vishnu Gupta.
Pataliputra, capital of the great Nanda empire, is teeming with crime and corruption. Granted unlimited authority by the hedonistic emperor Mahapadma Nanda, evil mastermind Maha-amatya Kartikeya has the city in a vice-like grip.
But another name bubbles up through the chaos; there is talk of a young genius, Vishnu Gupta. When the Maha-amatya investigates the rumours, he recognises a future rival in the boy. He is determined to destroy this competition from the roots – family and all. Vishnu must gather all his wits and his formidable knowledge to protect everything he holds dear. The holy scriptures, his brilliant interpretations of the Vedas and the power of his unmatched mind: these are the only tools he has against the might of the most powerful man in the empire.
Epic storyteller Ashok K. Banker imagines the life and formative years of India’s greatest genius, a man whose influence persists down the ages. In this first instalment of a thrilling trilogy, he recreates Chanakya’s early struggles and triumphs.
 My Review:
Never having read about Chanakya before, apart from the basics in history textbooks, I was eager to pick up this book and I am so very glad I didn’t wait any longer. Chanakya: The Legend Begins, is a well-written historical fiction book that gripped me from the very first pages. It’s not long either and so I finished it under 3 hours, and I wasn’t even reading it continuously.
The plot was well-made and I feel that it will prove a good foundation for the upcoming sequels in the trilogy. The events were all well-paced and the string of connection which led one to the other, was also well held. The pacing we see was good without any rushing and it proves just as well.
The characters are all worth noticing- whether they are good or bad. In Chanakya, or Vishnu Gupta, as he was earlier known, we see s mere child, striving to be the best among people seniors to him by decades. His drive and eagerness to learn for- the thirst for knowledge, and also his intellect leave a lot to be desired in the reader. And justly so. I am eager to read more about the prodigy. In the cunning Prime Minister, Maha-amatya Kartikeya, we can also notice the shining intellect and thirst for power. In some ways, he and Chanakya are no doubt, very alike. I also feel that Chandra will play a bigger role in things to come.
The writing style was also good and the editing well done. I commend the writer for starting this exciting series and admit that I am now committed to finding out what happens next.
Verdict:
I genuinely loved the book and I rate it a 4/5 stars. Will definitely pick it up again just before the release of the second part, so that I am all refreshed and ready to delve into the politics of Magadha.

Some Very Dignified Disclosures, Anumita Sharma, 2018

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Publishers: Pratishthaa films & Media
Genre: Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
It is an ordinary summer evening in a remote village near India and Nepal border; Roli’s mother and grandmother are quarrelling beside the well of their dilapidated feudal mansion. Roli is lurking in the courtyard; no one from her joint-family pays attention, and suddenly her father appears and clasps his wife’s throat. Roli watches in horror and envisions her mother’s spirit releasing from the dead body. Her future gets haunted by the twin spectre – mother’s ghost and father’s crime. The narrative moves to a small town, in the large household of a village acquaintance, where Roli shifts for higher studies, and encounters various fascinating lodgers, including an eccentric priest, who collects sundry items on streets to construct a house, and catches an exotic bird which dazzles the neighbourhood, a perplexing night watchman, whose mysterious doings make the priest lose his mind, a bored wife of a sailor, who dabbles in occultism, a scholarly librarian, who convinces Roli to accept her troubled past, and the unhappy wives of her landlord play an intriguing role in her attachment to another of the tenets- a temperamental young man, who becomes Roli’s love interest. The protagonist is an imaginative teenager. She loves reading and is attracted to people with mysterious backgrounds – very much like the characters of her favourite novels. A sympathetic village woman gifts her amber necklace, which smells like ambergris, and details many supernatural incidents involving it. Does the necklace hold magical powers? Will the fragrance of ambergris capture the man she loves? Can Roli find success on the treacherous winding roads of adulthood? Anumita Sharma is the author of The Curse of Yesterday. Inherently a poet, a wordsmith, and voracious reader, Anumita loves telling stories set in the rustic environment of Eastern India.
My Review:
I can easily classify this as the first Indian magical realism book I’ve read and I truly loved it. The overall effect was exquisite and I was hooked from the very first pages. The fact that it was written in poetic prose, made the effusive paragraphs almost lilting and soothing to me. The imagery that the author has created through the patterns her words create, is very picturesque indeed.
The writing style of the author is something that I have fallen in love with. The language used is beautiful but somewhat of a higher level and hence may not be easily understandable to beginners. The poetic tune that the author has inlaid the words with, are beautiful and exquisite and I have found no fault with them at all. Although the pacing isn’t fast, it is definitely well-matched with the narration and the actions taking place. The whole experience was something dreamlike and ephemeral and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now, I do feel that while I was hooked from the very first pages, there will be a few who may find the beginning a bit slow, but fret not! Once you think it catches speed, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime. A lack of dialogues may also put off some people but the autobiographical way of narration is a personal favourite and moreover, I think it did great justice to the story.
When it comes to the characters, the author has done well to let the readers interpret for themselves, the protagonist, as the story unravels through her own eyes. Roli as a protagonist was a beautiful person and I will be lying if I say that I do not relate with her at all. Apart from that, her own self is admirable. The other multitude of female characters were all nice to read about- the author has nuanced upon different qualities through each of them.
I also especially loved the way the author has kept the ending- it’s not close-ended but it’s definitely something close. The open and kind of an ambiguous ending left the scope for many possibilities afterwards and keeps the reader reeling long after finishing the book.
Verdict:
I have really loved this experience, and Some Very Dignified Disclosures has included itself into my most-loved books list and I shall definitely recommend it to others as well! I rate it a 5/5 stars!

Hope and Sunshine, Debasmita Nath Ghosh, 2018


Publishers: Power Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Naina Grover has an imperfectly perfect life, or is it perfectly imperfect? A Punjabi kudi from Delhi working in the city of joy, Kolkata is joined by her crazy cousin, Arjun and his sober friend Aditya to come of age while at a long – distance relationship which seems to be going nowhere. She knows it is a recipe for disaster but should she let go or not? Should she hope for the best? Hope she will be accepted?Hope she can settle down? Hope she can come to terms with a family secret bothering her for years now? Just hope. Keep hoping? And then, Hope welcomes a ray of sunshine. Naina welcomes you to look at life from her perspective. ‘Hop’e On!’
My Review:
While Hope and Sunshine proved be a quick and mindless summer read, enjoyable and of the chick-lit vein, the overall output was average. The plot was nicely prepared however, its elaboration needed a bit more effort. Not to say that it isn’t a good book- Hope and Sunshine made for a good enough debut. The characters, were also very realistic in the fact that their emotions were nicely structured. However, I found Naina definitely as a very flawed person, without being too literal of course. I also liked the themes that the author has brought in to this book, which mostly are friendship, the work culture, family and of course, love. I think they were explored fantastically. However, there are certain portions where I felt that the storyline dragged and that really slowed me down a bit. Moreover, the grammar and the editing needs to be worked upon- the language used is very much colloquial, i.e., too informal for a book and I would have appreciated a much more streamlined approach.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particularly captivating either and although I did moderately enjoyed it, I do not think I shall be picking it up anytime soon.

Catharsis and Beyond, Alpana Srivastava, 2018

(Previously published as ‘Catharsis and Beyond, Alpana Srivastava, 2018 in www.indiabookstagram.com )
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Publisher: Pblishing.com
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 83
Synopsis:
These are the delicate yet strong strings of a sensitive soul. Mostly they are cathartic but sometimes they are beyond that… the moods vary from spiritual currents to a passive resistance of the inner struggle through a female heart or from the balanced harmonious life to the ecstasy of complete freedom. The absurdity of social culture finds the satiric tune in a few verses and some are the quiet expedition into the agitated mind.
My Review:
The word ‘Catharsis’ literally means an overflow of intense feelings. Catharsis and Beyond has a really related synopsis that reflects the content of the book.
The 44 poems that were in the book, all covered different themes and each one was reflective and introspective in its own. Some of the themes were of hope, innocence, contentment, the idea of perfection that we have and that we strive for, simplicity in everyday lives, desire, the peace that everyone seeks, nature and its pollution, humanity, letting go and contrastingly, holding on to name a few. Some other significant themes were chauvinism and love, lust, the strife everyone faces to reach their goals, along with hard work and determination; impermanence of our everyday lives, our existence, freedom, and so on.
I loved the idea of inserting photographs between the poems and it’s quite novel compared to most poetry collections. I also liked that in the beginning, the author has devoted a poem to her Guru. The whole book is very concise and can be finished in only one seating and I like this aspect a lot. There were some grammatical errors that I think may be jilted me out of the trance I was in while reading the poems. I definitely recommend it to all beginners who wish to foray into the world of poetry. This is a good book to start with.
Verdict:
I rate it a 4/5!
 
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Pi Agency, Neelabh Pratap Singh, 2018

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Publisher: Self-published
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 313
Blurb:
Rashmi Purohit is a failed CBI aspirant. With no future in Indian law enforcement, she turned to working alongside the law. Now running her own agency out of her claustrophobic basement, Rashmi is dying for a notable case and a big break.
A wealthy entrepreneur with a troubled, drug-addicted son seems like the perfect client. But when Rashmi and her impetuous, barely-competent employees stumble into a Dark Web-based investment conspiracy, the detective knows she has kicked a hornet’s nest. Rashmi might just solve the case – but only if it doesn’t kill her, destroy her agency, or make her betray her father’s legacy one last time.
My Review:
The book was a gripping story, nail-biting and nerve-wrecking at multiple instances. The concept was really unique and the concept itself was not something that I have ever come across before. The gradual flow towards the climax and then the subsequent descent to the denouement was knee-jerking without being abrupt.
The characters were well—built too. We could see different aspects of their lives- Rashmi with her hidden and suppressed feelings of hatred and guilt, Diksha with her frustration, and Akshay with his resourcefulness. The bond of friendship which kept them together was also well shown, especially the dependence they had on each other.
I like the themes that are there in the book- the main among which is, addiction and its effects on our youth today. The other theme, of the ease, which the internet has provided us, is also a thought-invoking one.
The cover was something else that I liked as well. Faces on book covers is a personal preference and so it’s not surprising that I loved it. The dark and eeriness with the grain effect also gave a mysterious vibe and conveyed the utter essence of the story. However, at times, I felt like the author used too many technical and boring dialogues, including many jargons. Apart from this one point, I did not find any problems with this story.
Verdict:
Definitely a must-read for beginners in the mystery genre. I rate it a 4/5 stars. This is a book that will definitely entertain you!

Seductive Affair, Rishabh Puri, 2018

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Publishers: Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Genre: Romance
Synopsis:
Prisha Khatri is a regular college graduate, focused on her career, desperate to finally move out of her parents’ house… and freshly dumped by her successful fiancé. When she lands a job at a prestigious media house, she’s glad to have something to take her mind off her heartbreak.
What she doesn’t expect is to be landed on a business trip with a famously fiery reporter Rajesh Lagheri. He’s travelling to a business conference for a story, and doesn’t seem impressed by her involvement. But as soon as they’re out of the office, things change, and it becomes clear that there is more to Rajesh’s trip than meets the eye.
As Prisha is drawn into the story he’s trying to hide from their editor, their hunt for the story grows more intense, and she finds herself growing closer to Rajesh. As their chemistry threatens to overwhelm them and Prisha is pulled deeper into the Seductive Affair, she must decide what matters most to her – matters of the head, or of the heart.
My review:
Seductive Affairs was the second book I read in August and I have not been disappointed. Now there have been many negative reviews regarding this one, but I would like to point out that although it wasn’t a serious read, Seductive Affairs was a perfect romance book. I love the fact that it was kept short without any parts that dragged unnecessarily, and a very Mills and Boon-esque vibe.
The plot was pretty simple and the way the author went about it was great too. I found the pacing well-proportioned and subsequently, the flow of the whole story was very pleasant. It is to be noted however that Seductive Affair is quite literally a light read- a mindless one. It’s very easy-peasy and hardly evokes any strong emotions in the reader. This is the type of book that would do well as s slump-reliever.
The characters were also very well made; I found Prisha a true woman of the world- she’s not willing to be suppressed in the face of an ultimatum to either choose the guy or her dream. I found her to be an independent and amazing girl- worth being an idol. Rajesh was also worth admiring- his drive and determination show that hard work with passion truly leads you to the past of success. The cover was also very alluring and I do believe that it portrayed something very much related to the title of the book. The synopsis shown was also very good!
Verdict:
I rate this book 3/5 stars. It was a truly fun read.

My Love is Away From Mortality, Vansh Arora, 2018

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Publishers: Kalamos Literary Services
Synopsis:
What will you do if the love you nurtured with utmost care walks into the territory of evilness?
TheManav, an atypical sleepyhead cares about nothing but his sleep. Life is good for him as long as he is in the premises of his bedroom.
Aditi, a pro-level pessimist boasts her proficiency in envisioning worst possible consequences of every situation.
After bumping in to each other, the course on which their life was previously treading begins to witness a complete transformation. The tender age pushes them to believe what they shared was more than a mere comradeship. They try to repel the feeling at first, but it intensifies to such an extent that both of them end up getting swallowed by it.
However, they must keep an out for the lurking danger as there is a person who is on the quest to bereave them of something which will certainly put their and whole world’s fate in jeopardy.
How will their destiny unfold?
My Review:
The plot was pretty well prepared by the author even though I felt that it was being unnecessarily dragged at some points. The themes of friendship, love and other emotions such as apathy, anger, faith etc., showcased the humane factor and made the story more relatable as well as the characters themselves. The little snippets of the horror story also lent quite the mystery to the whole book, and I think we will only know more about the entire story in the sequel. The twist at the end was something I did not expect at all!
The characters were somehow very likable to me. To be truthful, I wasn’t entirely fond of either Manav or Aditi as I am completely opposite to what they are, but then as the story slowly progressed, I did start to accept them as human beings and like them too. The other characters were also complex in their own ways, especially Kusha. Without revealing much, I shall just say that you’re in for a ride! The blurb was also a plus point as it attracted me for sure. And that’s why I decided to give it a chance.
My verdict:
I rate this story a 3/5 stars and look forward to the sequel.

Child of Paradise: Listen to your dreams, Pratibha R DH, 2017

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Publisher: Flugel Publishing House
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 340
Blurb:
Life takes an unexpected turn when Tia meets the boy whom she secretly had a crush on all through her school years. Not only does Ron steal her heart but he seems equally besotted in a true blue sense of the word. Tia’s friends who had always known about her infatuation are more than thrilled as Ron is absolutely a girl’s dream come true – a stunner with a heart of gold.
Everything seemed just so perfect and it looked like the universe finally heard her wishes…if not for one person who didn’t want her to be with Ron. And it was none other than the person Tia loved most in the world – Rianna, her sister. The bizzare part of it all was that Rianna was no longer alive! Tia was continuously haunted by dreams of her sister who kept warning her off Ron.
Her sister’s case being closed off by the police as suicide was something that had left Tia deeply perturbed even years after her passing away. As Tia follows her instincts and tries to solve the mystery surrounding her sister’s death she comes up with evidence that might just open up a can of worms and shatter her whole family.
Will she be able to fulfil her sister’s last wish? Will she make the right choice between love and justice? This story is a journey of corporate ambition, greed, lust and betrayal. A paranormal crime novel that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and family drama while at the same time leave you twitching to unearth the mystery of a death, unresolved.
My Review:
Child of Paradise was quite an interesting read and I have never read a paranormal crime fiction of this type before. The author has obviously done quite a lot of research before writing this book and it is evident from the first chapter itself- from the medical stuff to the psychic/spiritual ones. That was commendable in itself.
The plot of the novel has been well laid out and it is clear from the different twists and turns we come across as we keep on flipping the pages. Different forms of the novel such as an epistolary, a bildungsroman, and also, of course, social novel, could be seen. The framing devices, though a few, used by the author through the use of the emails, text messages and letters, works really well and binds the story together. We also see the mental growth of not only the protagonist but also of the dead sister herself. The social aspects that the reader brought in through the different conversations, meetings in the story as well as the work lifestyle were very well portrayed, keeping in mind the real situation in India. The themes of love- familial, platonic as well as romantic; friendship, and mystery were very well planned out. The writing was beautiful and very well edited and I hardly found even a single grammar/editing error. The way of writing was also very relatable and the author could incite laughter from me as I read the funny interactions among the characters in the novel. The events are also very nostalgic at parts without being monotonous.
The characters were well formed and the author has taken pains to make them as believable as possible- they are round, displaying a number of emotions for a number of various situations around various people. The relatability that the reader can share with the characters in the book is very high as well. The author has also subtly invoked the image of the independent women, one that I love.
The one thing that I didn’t like was the introduction of so many characters because it made me very confused. Frankly, I was lucky since I always sort of take notes or make family trees when I read a book. The cover was nice in a simple sort of way, but there is much scope for it, especially the spine of the book. I honestly have no other issue beyond these.
Verdict:
This book was a great read, and I really enjoyed it a lot. Definitely recommend for fans of thrillers, mystery and romance books. Would rate it as a 13+ book and I personally shall be picking up again. I rate this a 5/5 stars.

The Blue Moon Day, Santhosh Sivaraj, 2017

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Publishers: Invincible Publishers
Genre: Short Story collection
Synopsis:
Things were never the same for five ordinary individuals who got struck at cross roads and there was no way they can run back. They had no other choice but to take a plunge into their deepest fear and leave the rest to destiny. Their characters was tested out of their comfort zone and it witnessed abstruse results; a PhD scholar fights to win a pizza making contest and a tennis prodigy running for his life in a war torn, bloodied Island. Extreme circumstances and their consequences made these ordinary individuals extraordinary . Was the test imposed on them by someone? Or did they invite it on themselves. The Blue Moon Day is that Once in a Blue Moon day story which questions an individual’s priorities, ridicules the worldly routines and finally redefines happiness.
My Review:
This book is basically a collection of 6 interrelated short stories and like many other reviewers have said before, it has been wonderfully executed. Considering the fact that it is the author’s debut novel, it is par excellence.
There are different plots in all these stories, exploring various aspects of human life. They are all very true and relatable- and makes one introspect at times. Other than that simple fact, there is the entertainment factor too, which the book fulfils very well. The characters are so real and almost tangible. As one reads, it feels as if one is truly living the experience. In short, I loved the character arcs.
The writing style is above average- it is not something very simple, but nonetheless, it is really good. The epistolary form – with the letters are always very revealing and adds the emotion to the work. And the mystery element makes you turn one page after another. The cover is beautiful and very much related to the stories in an abstract/metaphorical way. Despite the fact that it is purely fiction, in one way or another it is a self-help/motivational book for everyone. It teaches through the help of examples. However, at times there were excessive exclamation marks or the use of symbols to write profanities, which I think was absolutely unnecessary. The language was too simple at some points though.
This book really inspires and gives hope to the reader that it is never too late to turn your life around- you just have to find it in you to do so.

Verdict:
I rate this book a 4/5 stars and recommend it to those looking for a short but meaningful read.

First Breath, R. Kumar, 2018

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Publishers: Self-published
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis:
“First Breath” is the collection of poetries which are not written, they are lived; which are not on papers, they are in hearts. This book is result of author’s passion towards writing which he started unintentionally at the difficult verge of life. This book is example of fulfilling one’s goals, fulfilling one’s passions. This book contains poetries about LOVE, BETRAYAL, TRUTHS OF LIFE and PERSONALITIES WHICH INFLUENCED LIFE.
My Review:
First Breath is the debut work by its creator, R. Kumar. It has four sections containing poems about love, betrayal, influencing personalities and the face of truth. These four sections are named as Rain of romance, Ember of love, Thunder of magnificent creature, and, Cloud of screwing truths.
Now I have to admit that the subjects the poet has chosen are very relevant- like depression, family, relationships etc., he the overall work needs a lot more finesse. However the execution has left a lot to be desired. There are a lot of editing and grammatical errors. For instance the name of a poem- the title itself is wrong- ‘decesion’. And the words become very repetitive at times as if the poet is actually writing a song. And yet, I found no tune or flow in the words. The author is obviously an amateur however it doesn’t have to imply that the work is bad- though a lot of editing and proofreading nod drafting have to be done. The poet also uses some very strange comparisons at times, and they hardly make any sense. There was a poem ‘Be Mine’ where I was wondering if it was a poem or rather a song.
Verdict:
I didn’t really enjoy this book unfortunately and can’t say that I will recommend it to anyone else. For the value of the subjects only I give this book a 1/5 stars.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. And with this, perhaps the most famous ironical sentence ever, begins Austen’s masterpiece. First published in 1813, it achieved instant success and its popularity has endured till this date. With a working title of First Impressions, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has remained an evergreen favorite among all in the literary world. Every English major has read it and moreover, there are so many others who aren’t majoring in English, but are still among this classic’s ardent lovers.
Pride and Prejudice follows the trials and tribulations of the five Bennet sisters- Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, with all their various quirks and mannerisms. It is a truly funny and satiric novel in the sense that it subtly pokes fun at the various stereotypes in Regency Era England.
We see the irony in appearance and character- for instance, in the fine-bred Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her condescending manners, Mrs. Bennet with her silly and loud ways as well as Mr. Collins who surely loves to hear his own voice. There is also a comparison made between simplicity and intricacy in between Jane and Mr. Charles Bingley, and Elizabeth and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. The novel’s title may be a reference to Mr. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice against him; however, it goes both ways.
Since Pride and Prejudice can be classified as a novel of manners, we can also see quite a few social themes that haunted every action and thought of people in 19th century England. Reputation is one major theme in this novel, but it comes into prominence with Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. At the base of the story, we can say that Pride and Prejudice is a story of two young people coming together, as love inexplicably binds them together. It is thus no wonder that love should be one of the major themes of this novel. Financial status or class is another recurring theme- it is what drives Mrs. Bennet with the threat of the entail hanging of her head, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh when she visits Elizabeth towards the end, and expresses how unfit any union of her and Mr. Darcy would be. In the same vein, social appearance, humility and prejudice are also among the few other themes.
Personal growth is quite a major theme throughout the novel- it takes place in the two major characters of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Taking this factor, Pride and Prejudice can also be classified as a bildungsroman. A lot of the storyline is also taken forward through the medium of letters- among Jane, Elizabeth, Caroline Bingley etc. thus we see an effective use of the epistolary form as well.
I remember that that first time I read this, was back in 2012 when I was perhaps in the eight standard. I had loved it then and I loved it as I possible read this for the hundredth time this semester. It truly is a wonderful experience every time I read it and one of the obvious choices when people ask me for classics recommendations. I rated it, as usual a 5/5 stars; I do not know anyone who would grant it any less!

Corridors of Life: A Talk with your own Soul, Ajay Kumar, 2018


Publishers: Invincible Publishers
Genre: Self-help
Synopsis:
Life is full of hurdles, so we need to retain the artistry of overcoming the issues of life. No one is here to entertain you, everyone is working for themselves and the POWER OF CHOICE arbitrates every possible situation. This motivational manual will take you on a journey which will describe the basic hiccups of life and the effortless way to tackle it. Remember one thing always that:
“You are only the reason for the future version of yourself.
It’s your choice which can upgrade or degrade you”
Ajay, founder of Pephour.com , a blogging website which points out the problems existing in society. Being a motivational speaker and a Life Coach, he’s on a mission of empowering millions of youths across the nation. Also with a keen interest in poetry gave him a way to inspire number of people by his words. His dream is to be alive in millions of hear by his words.
My review:
A motivational book which touched upon quite a few different aspects of life, Corridors of Life was an enlightening read. The advice was very easy to understand, and relatable as well. It was positive and also constructive at the same time. Each chapter was something of its own and you can understand it even if you start at a random chapter and not in the order as given in the contents page.
The addition of anecdotes by the author make the whole point come across very easily; these examples make the subject matter very understandable as they are certain instances we have all seen but seldom introspected upon. The subject matter of this book was very diverse as well, covering topics such as the power of the mind, anger management, the willingness to learn from others, the 3 worries in life, the 3 rules for success in life, the 3 pillars in a positive relationship and so on.
However when it comes to the editing- grammatical errors, syntaxes etc. there is much scope left. It’s one thing that leaves a bad aftertaste in most books. Otherwise, the language used was pretty simple without the use of jargons or any technical terms.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars and hope that further editions will completely do away with the errors.

Spirits in a Spice Jar, Sarina Kamini, 2018

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Publishers: Westland Publications
Genre: Non-fiction
Synopsis:
For Sarina Kamini’s Kashmiri family, food is love, love is faith, and faith is family. It’s cause for total emotional devastation when, ten years after her Australian mother is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, unaddressed grief turns the spice of this young food writer’s heritage to ash and her prayers to poison. At her lowest ebb, Sarina’s dead Ammi’s typed-up cooking notes become a recipe for healing, her progress in the kitchen marked by her movement through bitterness, grief and loneliness—the daal that is too fiery and lumpen; her play with salt that pricks and burns. In teaching herself how to personalize tradition and spirituality through spice, Sarina creates space to reconsider her relationship with Hinduism and God in a way that allows room for questions. She learns forgiveness of herself for being different and comes to accept that family means change and challenge as much as acceptance and love.
My Review:
Spirits in a Spice Jar is a story of personal growth and understanding- that of the author mostly, but also of myself as a reader. Noted as a non-fiction, this book also dabbles in the various genres of autobiography, epistolary, a cookbook, and philosophy/spiritual. It has been an enriching read, that certainly must not be missed by those seeking the meaning of their lives.
We follow the author as she explores her rich heritage, almost a decade after her mother has been diagnosed by the Parkinson’s disease. Food serves as a medium to help her come to terms with her grief and denial, as she tries to understand herself by cooking through a set of recipes her Ammi had used. It is a spiritual journey for her as she comes to terms with who she is as a person in herself, as a wife, a mother and a daughter, and accepting and loving that; her experience in discovering her own faith is also awe-inspiring. The mother-daughter dynamic is also realistically portrayed here and I applaud the author’s bravery in doing so- baring her deepest feelings. There is this magnificent web of emotions juxtaposing the author’s role as a daughter/child for her parents and as a mother for her own children.
The naming of the chapters was also an interesting thing- for food marks milestones in our lives; so much so that it would be sad to disregard their importance in our lives- even those of the smallest of cardamom pods. As the blurb of the book says, “food is love, love is faith, and faith is family”; food is cathartic, while cooking can be an anti-depressant for so many revelers. The book also covers the social impact of what the exodus of her ancestors, who were Kashmiri Pandits, did to the later generations. The language used is comparatively easy and understandable, often recessing into philosophical meditations by the author. When it comes to the book cover, I feel that they are very essential as they convey the depth of the story and also attract the readers. Spirits in a Spice Jar has a beautiful rustic themed cover, that resonates with the Indian in me, personally. Artfully placed bay leaves, peppercorns, and star anises almost produce a mirage of an almost tangible fragrance for me. It is a soul-stirring.
However, I do think that adding more family scenes would have been preferable- especially those of the author’s life as a small child living with her two brother and happy parents- of the happy times, basically.
Verdict:
I had a heartwarming, heart-stopping time reading this book. There was an instance of a full-on sob fest as I made my way through it. Not a book I will be forgetting anytime soon, for sure, I rate Spirits in a Spice Jar a 5/5 stars.

ABC Calling, Vineeth Menon, 2017

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Publishers: self
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Synopsis:
Meghana, who is about to leave to the US for pursuing her Masters.
Adithya, an Assistant Manager at Syndicate Bank.
August 15, 2015: India celebrating her 69th Birthday.
Set in the ‘state with many worlds’, ABC Calling is a tale enveloped with love of two persons from different pages of life.
Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book by the author in return for an honest review.
My review:
The whole plotline of the novel was truly well- planned out especially when one takes into consideration the cliff-hanger one is left with, in the end. It sings out for a sequel as it has a lot of loopholes, which I feel are entirely left loose by the author intentionally- the ending asks for it. the whole suspense aspect is a joyride and it spices up the story in the parts where it drags a bit. The narration is very engaging and keeps the reader hooked.
Meghana, and Shivani are amazing characters and the author has put in a lot in their acute realistic portrayal. They portray the real women of today with their perspectives on life, their views, and emotions as well as their sensitiveness and empathy. Nebessa is a mystery altogether. Adithya is also another such round and intricate character. The humour element brought in by the author through these characters are also great.
However, there can be quite a bit of proofreading and editing to be done on this book. The punctuation and the errors at some points leave a bad aftertaste. The dialogues can also be improved.
Verdict:
I rate this a 3/5 stars.

Flying Without Wings, Rishabh Puri, 2017

Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers India and Black Ink

Synopsis:

For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she’ll never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams – someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one. This is the story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love.

Review:

I’d like to begin by saying that most Indian romances are too stereotypical and too lovey-dovey for my taste. They have so far never been able to overcome the love I have for my Mills&Boons. However, Flying without Wings was an exquisite read and I truly loved it with all my heart.

In terms of the plotline, I found it truly very believable and the common trope of poor-girl-meets-rich-boy had its very own twist making it a very enjoyable read. It also explored the various other aspects of life apart from love- like addiction, loss, friendship, family etc. and these themes were well written and portrayed in the actions of the characters. Milli and Karan are the protagonists of this novel and as we see their evolutions throughout the story, we can understand the different needs and wishes that drive people. Both of them are so different from each other in terms of their job, their salaries, their familial backgrounds and their ways of life. And yet, the one thing that pulls them together is the realization that despite their busy schedules, they are such lonely souls. I must admit that Rahull was not a favourite of mine and yet I found him very relatable- he shows his own shades of grey as a human.

The characters, though few, were very believable in all their true colours- with their feelings of grief, love, etc. The fact that they were shown as all-round characters also help a lot in this sense. For instance, it’s not just the search for love that drives the people, unlike in so many Indian rom-coms; they have their own careers thus managing all the various facet of life. In terms of the editing and grammar, I was delighted not to have found any errors as they are so common in most Indian romance novels.

Some things that didn’t add up made me a bit discomfited, however. For instance, the fact that despite the lower-middle class household portrayed (or even third-class, one could say), Milli seems to have a sedan. It was a bit difficult to digest that considering the fact that they hardly had any money to repair the sink when it broke. Moreover, I was wondering if opiates aren’t costly since the mother seems to be popping them like candy, along with her alcohol addiction as well. These were a few inaccuracies that just didn’t add up at all.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 4/5 stars and recommend it to, all those who are ‘suckers’ for romance- a must read.

7 Books in 7 days!

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So a while back, a group of my friends decided to do the #7days7books challenge. This is a 7-day long read-a-thon basically, where one tries to read and complete 7 books. This is also the first time that I have participated in a read-a-thon and I have been pretty excited about it as well! So, without further ado, let me list the books I have decided to read over this period.
Book 1- Finding your G-spot in Life
Author: Geetika Saigal
Publishers: Invincible Publishers, 2018
Synopsis:
The Probability of your parents’ meeting: one in a million. The Chance that they had you and not another genetic version of you: one in 4 million billion. (yeah, that’s a number too!) The Number of moments you have lived (knowing that any of us could pop-off any moment): ~9.4 million in our lifetime.
You, Yes YOU, are a miracle.
Do you not then deserve to lead a miraculous life?
A life that you know is meaningful to you, that doesn’t leave you feeling like you are simply running, not knowing where to and why so. So go on, give yourself and your life the best shot.
How?
By ceasing this race to ‘somewhere’ for just a few hours; Re-discovering Your Real Self, Re-aligning Your Thoughts, Revamping Your Life – All in (nothing worthwhile is simple!) 4 STEPS + 15 Do-it-for-Yourself EXERCISES.
This book is written for all of us, whether you’re just starting out your life or wishing to change it.
Book 2- Call Me By Your Name
Author: Andre Aciman
Publishers: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
Synopsis:
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.
The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable.
Book 3- Not Exactly Love
Author: Anindita Sengupta
Publishers: Vishwakarma Publications, 2018
Synopsis:
Not every love is smooth sailing and not every love has a magical ending and yet, without a generous dose of ‘Love’, life would certainly be devoid of its most thrilling experience.
A tumultuous trip, an inevitable attraction, a passionate kiss, magical memories, beautiful chaos, taking a risk, giving a chance, holding on and letting go all define this strange animal we call love.
Everyone craves it but is the definition of love the same for all?
‘Not Exactly Love’ is about 10 different women navigating through the sea of love and attraction. Ten stories about adventures of the heart and the games that it plays with the mind! But still… should we give love a chance?
“NOT EXACTLY LOVE”
Book 4- In a Cult of Their Own
Author: Amborish Roychoudhury
Publishers: Rupa Publications Pvt. Ltd. 2018
Synopsis:
‘Cults become cults, they are not made. It’s the becoming that is interesting, not the making.’
There are some films that sure fizzle out of the theatres in a heartbeat, but figure out a way to survive. Through a torrent leaked online, on an old bootlegged DVD or VHS, or YouTube upload and then in the hands of the omnipresent Twitterati—the films form a ‘cult’ of their own.
This book is a tongue-in-cheek ode to these cult movies of Hindi filmdom, ones that despite not having made moolah at the box office, still made it to viewers’ memories for reasons—good or bad. Drawing from his own reminiscences of growing up on these delectables and also face-to-face interviews with actors and directors such as Aamir Khan, Pankaj Kapur and Deepti Naval, the author celebrates these underdogs in a manner that is extremely readable and relatable.
Book 5- Flying Without Wings
Author: Rishabh Puri
Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers India and Black Ink, 2017
Synopsis:
For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she will never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams- someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one.
This is a story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love. Will Karan take a chance and dive- blind-folded and headfirst- towards his dreams? Will Millie be willing to stand by Karan’s side in sickness and in health, just for a glimpse of his smile? This is a story of hope and joy in times of heartache and trial =. Of finding the perfect person in imperfect situations. And of love’s power to carry us through our darkest times.

Book 6- Till the End of Forever
Author: Vivaksh Singh
Publishers: Srihti Publishers & Distributors, 2018
Synopsis:
The past is always mysterious. It neither leaves completely, nor stays fully. Who would know it better than Ayaan. He was its victim. And so was Avani. When these two crumbled souls met, they realized in their togetherness that only a broken piece can complete another. Together, they start fighting the pain of their past, feeling the bliss of the present and appreciating their lives.
But just when they thought things were perfect, life played its cards.
Ayaan, who was trying to put life’s pieces together, broke down when he was held responsible for a closed one’s murder.
And Avani… well, her life was going to take such sharp turns that she would crave for death.
Alas, this was just the beginning of what destiny had planned for them!
Will Avani wait for the scars to heal or will she fight with her bruised soul? Why does the truth keep going deeper as she chases it?
Deeply sensitive and brutally thrilling, Till The End Of Forever is a romantic thriller that takes a dig in the dark sides of god, nature of human pain, power of selfless care, and proves how true love can make you live till the end of forever.
Book 7- A Cage of Desires
Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra
Publishers: Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd., 2018
Synopsis:
There’s a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there’s the kind that brings you down on both. You don’t need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.’
Renu had always craved for love and security, and her boring marriage, mundane existence somehow leads her to believe that, maybe, this is what love is all about. Maya, on the other hand, is a successful author who is infamous for her bold, erotic books.
What do these two women have in common? How are their lives intertwined?
Renu’s thirst for love and longing takes her on a poignant journey of self-exploration. The answers come to her when she finds the courage to stand up for herself, to fight her inner demons and free herself from the cage of desires . . .

Bitter Betrayal, Penny Jordan, 1989

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Before I begin, I would like to state how very lucky I consider myself to have found out about BookChor, and if you haven’t, let me tell you-you are missing out on the best steal deals on books that there ever have been.
I bought Bitter Betrayals from BookChor for less than 100INR, and I am very glad of it. Mills and Boon’s books have been my guilty pleasure, ever since I started reading them at 17. I like that they are quite lighthearted and fluffy to read- often short enough to complete in one seating. Bitter Betrayal is one such book.
I think the author has very tragically described how rejection can change a person like we see in our protagonist Jenneth. This brings to light also the bitter side of the real world- something one does not always see in books of this genre. The various issues or themes, this brought up were very thought-provoking- trust, self-esteem, friendship, and of course love. The author has also brought in the real-life issue of sex- sexual relationships without the entanglements of love, especially in Eleanor. This perhaps will help to slowly dispel the “virgin” concept, so much prevalent in the Mills and Boon series, especially of the 20th century. Brotherly/familial love and concern is also another theme seen here- we have Nick and Kit, and then Angelina, all of whose love for Jenneth is clearly seen in the book.
Apart from the characters, I saw a few irregularities in the plot. The whole way that the marriage came about- the reason, which everyone had so easily accepted, seemed too far-fetched to me. It felt like the author was trying to just get Jenneth and Luke, her male counterpart, to tie the knot, in any way that was possible. Like in most Mills and Boon books, the man is always arrogant and dominating, and Bitter Betrayal is no exception. However, we were given glimpses into Luke’s point of view at times, and I found it a refreshing take.
I have read a Mills and Boon after a long time and truly enjoyed it. However, it was a light read nonetheless- something I picked up one night when I couldn’t sleep. As such, I rate it a 3/5.

Indeliberate Deliberations, Shivansh Umatt, 2017

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Publishers: pblishing.com
Indeliberate Deliberations, as the synopsis says, is a collection of heartfelt poems, on the four broad themes of Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth, and, Gory Musings. Like most poetry, these days, the pieces in Indeliberate Deliberations are seen following the free-verse poetry, without a fixed structure.
In terms of quantity, there are a total of 21 poems in the book and they are all very heartwarming. The editing/proof-reading has also been done in a very good manner, because of which the quality truly shines through, despite the small size of the book.
Keeping in mind that everyone interprets the same author’s same works differently, I would like to state that I found Abyss focused more on the harsh realities of life, Latency on the perception of self, Gory Musings on guilt and other such emotions that eat away at a man’s soul, and Frost and Froth on the comparison between nature and human life. The poems were very relatable and the author has written very well- I believe he will go a long way. I finished reading it thrice now, ever since I got it from the author’ it’s that good!
Considering the fact that I have been hungering for poetry books for quite some time now, I would also like to say that I liked this book a lot- 4/5 stars by me.

Lean Days, Manish Gaekwad, 2018


“I am okay sleeping with someone who does not read books as long as they are not defiant about it.”
– Manish Gaekwad, Lean Days

Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers
Synopsis:
Fed up with his tedious desk job, a young man decides to quit on an impulse. He wants to write a novel but doesn’t think he has a story to tell. So the would-be writer, who was raised in a kotha, sets out to travel, hoping to arrive somewhere: at a destination, at a story.
But it’s not just about arriving. What about the journey? The joy and pain of trudging through the country without a plan, or a map? If his aim is to write, who will document his search for inspiration, and for love?
Lean Days is the story of an artist’s voyage through the country, mixing history with imagination, and finding people and places whose stories he can tell along with his own. It is a book of journeys without an end in sight, about the yearning for romance and succumbing to the temptations of the flesh.
The plot
The story is about a gay man travelling across India with the aim to find inspiration for his novel. Can be classified as an autobiography, epistolary novel as well as a novel of manners. It’s a journey through multiple cities along with a myriad of cultures, customs, foods and religions of the people. It is an exceptional journey mostly as the character explores facets of his own individuality including his sexuality, of the fear of rejection, openness, trust etc.
Throughout this journey from one city to another, and through the haze of memories associated with that particular place, he not only gets closer to his inner desires but he also discovers his inner self.
It is a really inflective book in the sense that it forces us to introspect about our own views and expectations of love, sexuality etc. Being gay in India is not easy especially in the times the author portrayed. As the protagonist travels from one place to another, he also collects some souvenirs like a comb in Hampi, a book in Srinagar, and so on. His journey begins from Bangalore, where he relives his days spent in the old Indian Coffee House, now shifted to a more modern setting, and continues with Hyderabad, Delhi, Ajmer, Srinagar, then Ladakh, Chandigarh, Manali, Lucknow, Kathmandu, Lumbini, Banaras, Calcutta and finally, to where the writer actually belongs to, i.e., Bombay. The themes of sexuality, self-discovery, love, lust and also the whole concept of self was worth reading about and shed quite the light on matters that need to be discussed more.
The writing style
I am really impressed with the writing style of the author- Lean Days is truly an ongoing autobiography done right. He has beautifully captured the thoughts and fears of a regular Indian man who has to be defiantly secretive of his feelings in a mostly homophobic India. This is the sort of book that needs to be read more in the community and moreover, to be written about and I’m happy to see this ongoing change in the current generation- the willingness to be respecting of all people despite their varying sexualities and behaviours. The overall writing style is quite simple, albeit very realistic and to the point. The pace that the author has adopted for the book is also very great as the protagonist travels from one city to another- sometimes happily, sometimes not, and sometimes in between.

The characters
I could really relate to the nameless protagonist throughout the book. The other characters are well created with a believable as well as relatability. They are all flawed and display varying shades of grey- thus making them more human and real in a fictionalized story.

Cover
The cover was kept minimalistic and I admit I was truly very attracted to the cover in the beginning. The background to the neon pink “Lean Days” truly gave the kotha vibes.

Verdict
I rate this book a 4/5 stars keeping in mind the characters, the plotline as well as the themes covered. It was an exciting journey.
Note: Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India and the author for giving me the opportunity to read and write an honest review in exchange for a copy of this book.
Amazon Link for the Book: https://www.amazon.in/Lean-Days-Manish-Gaekwad-ebook/dp/B079VY663G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1528966200&sr=1-1&keywords=lean+days

The Nirvana Threads, Rachel Tremblay, 2018

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The Nirvana Threads, Rachel Tremblay’s latest book, is a modern day interpretation of 90s magical punk and spiritual romance, a combination which I have never come across before. Sometime back, I reviewed the first chapter of the book, and I remember being very pleased and eager to read more. And so, when this book was released on the 1st of June, the author was kind enough to send me one too! Another disclaimer: although I was given this book by the author, my thoughts are entirely from a personal viewpoint and have in no way, been influenced.
One thing I would like to point out is that there is a lot of parallelism between the stream of consciousness method applied by Virginia Woolf and the similarities in our protagonist Carlie’s journey. Having said that, I propound that there has been no plagiarizing if you’re thinking in that line; I had meant the method itself.
We have our young protagonist, Carlie, a young woman living in the 90s, whose life changes after a life-altering accident. In the review I wrote for the first chapter, I was very much impressed with the way the author has beautifully portrayed the hollowness in the independence that people strive for. Carlie is a person facing a harsh reality- she does not really have any friends, and her parents are just people who gave her birth. They are just ‘family’ without the emotional connotations that otherwise come to mind when one talks of their families. It’s her husband who is her only ‘home’ in the world; someone others have not approved of, but in her defence- “She loved the fiery spark in his eyes, his sense of humour, and their common love for music. And his smile. His smile that showed his good heart. That was reason enough for her.”
The accident in itself is a great loss for her and almost a foreshadowing of the great change that is to come, as we see in the blurb! There is mention of a brother who lifts up her gloomy mood while she is recuperating in the hospital and I cannot help but be eager to know more.
It is June 1994, when “she climbed aboard the spaceship, as she kept calling it, and flew high above and away from Johnny’s game-board piece, wondering if his warm soul was enjoying a similar view.” Yes, that’s how the author had ended the first chapter and it had left me restless.
The journey in one sense is a journey of growth for Carlie- she’s broken and she heals with the help of her “Nirvana Threads” like she fondly calls them. She learns about acceptance and the meaning of selflessness and love, and it was a spiritual journey for me too. The book in its essence is a spiritual journey of a young woman, as she fights after a heart-wrenching loss and her subsequent healing. I myself was very moved with the story and I think that most will be too. I am a spiritual person as well, and that’s why I suppose I could connect with it the way I did. Having said that, I also feel that this book is a miss-or-hit because I feel that while many will love this, there will be a select few who won’t, and that would just mean that some people won’t be able to connect with it.
The plot was very well woven- I especially loved the intense episodes Carlie had- the author has described them beautifully and I was almost in tears during them. The characters were well planned out- I loved Damien! Leo, Hazel, Lucas were also very well planned out. I think that the author has done a great job in exploring the different facets of human life and jotting them down so well on paper. I personally would have loved a sequel to this- I would love to know more about Carlie’s story. The characters were magnificent and tangible and real for me, even though I truly felt that it was more of a plot-driven story.
I rate this a 5/5 stars and wish the author a hearty congratulations for this amazing, touching and beautiful book!

What your soul already knows, Dr Salma Farook, 2018

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I want to begin by saying how very lucky I consider myself to have been sought out by the author to review her book. I think this is perhaps the best motivational book that I have ever come across without being too preachy and boring, but simply mesmerizing.

Like I said before, it is a self-help book, quite a short read and free of jargons so that everyone can understand and I’m sure, relate to it. The author offers various views into the aspects of health – be it physical or mental, finance management, your personal well-being, attitudes to life, etc. The text is written in a very simple and relatable manner, with the help of various anecdotes of the author’s life itself. I enjoyed the way it was written- in a very beautiful and elegant manner.

The size of the book is quite small, running to just under 130 pages; it can be finished being read in one seating. Nonetheless, the content is very powerful. It has a very reflective tone and is at the same time, a powerful reminder for self-belief and is a guide to living life fearlessly. The author has very concisely written about real-world issues that one dabbles with in their daily life. There are also some explicit to-do’s stated in the book that I personally will/have been implementing, of course. Like- the Frugal Experiment, practicing gratitude, Swedish Death Cleaning etc. There are also a few other theories I need to practice more, as I have come to realize after reading WYSAK- to practice gratitude every day, and to learn that progress is better than perfection and also that while money facilitates happiness, it does not brew it.

There are many other wonderful life lessons that I have taken from this book and I surely will love to reread it again and again over the course of the coming years. My only regret is that I do not own a paperback! Keeping on the topic, I would also like to congratulate the author for having published this life-changing book that I’m sure will help a lot of people get through their lives. Definitely a 5 star read for me!

April Book Haul, 2018

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April was a month when I was pretty broke, and that’s why I got only two books for myself. These are both books that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, and I was ecstatic when I ordered them!
Firstly, I’ve got An Enchantment of Roses by Margaret Rogerson, which I loved and rated a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a book set in the Fae realms and fantasy as such is a personal favourite of mine. Readers of S.J.Maas, such as yours truly, would definitely love this book. See the review I wrote for this book here! An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson, 2017
Next, I got Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyami, which also belongs to the fantasy genre and is a bestseller too. I have come across raving reviews for this book and that was what made me but it. However, I have not yet read it; it’s placed in my June TBR. I’ll definitely be writing a review for it as well, and so, keep an eye out for that!
# qotd: how many and what books did you haul for April?
 

Scion of Ikshvaku, Amish Tripathi, 2015

So recently, I completed reading this book and I give it a solid 5/5 stars.

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It was so very realistic and corroborated by many believable facts, that at times I forgot that it was just a fiction. This is my first Amish Tripathi book and I must say that I have been enamoured by his style of writing. The narrative is compelling and just simply forces you to look deep into the recesses of your mind and soul. The attention he has given to detail is perfect and in the words of First City, ‘…one must congratulate Amish on reintroducing Hindu mythology to the youth of this country’.
The plot is exquisite and the characters are round and real in all aspects. I have never really liked Ram but despite that, I loved his character in this book. It is true that his law-abiding nature was perhaps his hamartia; although not quite, since he does go to heaven in the end, I suppose. This is a very close retelling of the Ramayana, fictionalized no doubt, but all the very more interesting for it.
It has given me a fresh perspective of the instances that might have been, apart from all the stories we have been told by our parents/grandparents. The women in this book are shown as very intelligent and self-dependent ones, which I see has become a trend in modern day retellings and all for the better I feel. Nonetheless, Sita being shown as the Prime Minister of her kingdom is quite an empowering fact in itself. She is not quite the damsel-in-distress we have often thought her to be. The bonding between the brothers is also beautifully shown with the occasional expected silly talks and jokes.
We also see the hatred that can arise in a person because of particular instances that may have happened in his past/childhood. For example, we have Ram who is blamed because he was born on the very day his father lost the battle (his first ever loss) at Karachapa to Ravan, the king of Lanka and also a very good trader.
The politics, I feel, is the most attractive feature in this book, apart from the Ram-Sita scenes, of course. Vishwamitra and Vashishtha are no doubt master players in this whole situation and the introduction of the Vayuputras and Malayaputras just adds more spice to the stew. I have not read the Shiva trilogy before this like I have already stated in the beginning, and as such, it was a bit difficult for me to catch hold of the histories and agendas of these two sections. For this matter though, I would definitely suggest reading that trilogy before reading the Ram Chandra series since that series comes chronologically before this one as well as being the first in publication orders as well.
If you want to gain a fresh new perspective on the Ramayana then I would definitely recommend you to read this amazing work and you will be delighted to know that the sequel follows Sita and also converges with this book towards the end. I have personally started reading the sequel and I’m loving it. Definitely, a must-read if you would like a new point of view for this great epic, keeping in mind that this is not the actual story but simply a fictionalized retelling to which the author has added a few of his own twists and turns.

Resolutions //2018//

This is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable. This year I will be fierce!

 
This quote pretty much encapsulates all of my resolutions for the upcoming year. Honestly, I am seriously going to try to be the best version of myself and just push myself as hard as I can.
In the academics field, I will obviously try my very best. Frankly, my aim is to be the best that I have been before, and this is the conviction that will push me further. I am competing with myself- I have to be better than I have been. I will also strive to complete my assignments at all times, and study every day!
In the fitness sphere, I obviously need to work harder, build up my stamina and see my running streak. I also intend to go to the gym regularly, except on Sundays and when I’m in the middle of exams. I also intend to eat healthier and reduce my fast food intake.
When it comes to books, I think I will set my reading challenge goal at 40 again, just like 2017, because 2018 is going to be a busy year, with two back-to-back semesters, that will surely suck all of my time, as I will prioritize my academic reads over any sort of recreational reads.
As for the miscellaneous section, I intend to be quite fashion-oriented and be presentable at all times in public. I also intend to work on the strained familial relations I am having at the moment. Also, I will strive to keep my room clean at all times, which is a prerogative!
So, I think that is all! It seems like my resolutions are quite many, but they are so basic, I feel. Anyway, I wish all of my readers a happy and successful new year, and may 2018 be the best year ever for you! God bless!

The Year That Was //2017//

Hey everyone!

I know it’s been a long time since I last posted. A lot of things have changed. I just finished my first semester finals. The results have not been declared yet, but I’m sure that I haven’t failed in any subject, so I’m a second-semester student now. Well, pretty much. Classes start from the second of January, 2018.

I honestly feel that this year has passed so fast! It was only a few months back that I sat for my 12 finals, and now, here I am. This year, a lot of changes have occurred- I’m a high school graduate, and now I’m a first-year University student. I’ve lost contact with a lot of classmates; it was inevitable, after all, and yet I have retained some of the friendships I made in the two years I spent in the higher secondary school where I studied my junior and senior years.

My best friend and I are back together in University now, and I couldn’t be happier in that regard. Our homerooms are even on the same floor in the same building. As for myself, I might have already stated that I’m an English major. My education has been going on perfectly, and I’m very happy studying for school. It never seems like a burden, and I think it is definitely because I have always loved English literature. And didn’t someone already say, do what you love?

My finals lasted for almost a month, in December, and I was very ecstatic when it ended on the 21st. these days, I’ve been trying to replenish myself with good food, exercise and sleep, so that I’m all swanky new and energized for the new semester.

I’ve read a total of 47 books in 2017, and I’m almost finished with the 48th. Successful reading year, definitely!

My personal relations with my father had been very strained in the beginning of the year, and I’m glad to say that it is so much better now. Some familial relations are still strained and well, some people you just can’t change. I have also let go of a lot of toxic people from my life. I’ve lost a lover and gained another. And it will be, perhaps, the greatest regret of my life- losing him. But I consider myself very lucky to have moved on with a different guy, who genuinely loves me. My relations with my professors are in a really great shape, and I’m proud to admit that they love me. My new friends are kind to me and very understanding. I like them.

Healthwise, I have been in perfect shape. My MMA classes have also helped a lot. I’m so much stronger and fitter than ever before. I can run for longer, work hard physically for longer. And it has also worked wonders for my mental willpower and determination.

So that’s it. My reflection of 2017, the year that was. I’m hoping for a lot of things in 2018, but that is for another post entirely.

With lots of love,

Suze.

BACK TO SCHOOL: THE BEST GUIDE TO AN AWESOME NEW YEAR!!

Considering the fact that school will be starting soon for me and most of my friends here in India, I thought why not do a back-to-school blog. I realize that school will probably not be opening for a lot of you guys now itself, but when the time comes, you can find this as a proper guide and that will be quite helpful. I hope.

Also, I have a pdf file that is a list and will definitely help you while shopping. I’ll link it here- back to school essentials list

So without further ado, I’d like to now start with the list in question.

Miscellaneous etc.

  1. Lunchbox- Since I’m a foodie, it’s no wonder that I’ve put this first. My lunchbox is a pretty lime green and pink combination. My brother actually got it for his last birthday and since we’ve never even opened the packaging, it’s obviously brand new. It also comes with its own set of a fork and spoon and another small container within in and is thus quite good.
  2. A water bottle- It’s quite common to find drinking water facilities all around campus but I do prefer to have my own source of hydration with me. And even when it’s close to empty, I can always fill it up in those drinking water facilities. The water bottle I bought is a pretty pink one, and I particularly love the shape of it. Also, I got it for 90 rupees INR.
  3. A school bag- This is up to you now, whatever you prefer. Although I would suggest going for quality and durability over the aesthetics. I got myself a tote- it’s very large inside and can even hold my laptop and water bottle. It’s a simple black because I wouldn’t be comfortable with any other bright colors. Also, I got it for 750 rupees INR. I also have a backpack which I got with the previous laptop I bought. It’s huge, has compartments for my laptop separately, as well as for water bottles, books etc.
  4. A purse/wallet- Decide very carefully on this one. Are you someone who prefers to carry just ash along with the student card and keys? Or are you all cards and keys? Depending on that, the size will differ. I would suggest Mimco purses with wristlets. As for me, I got mine on Amazon at 250 rupees INR.
  5. Umbrella- This is for those students who are currently experiencing rains or get too much sunlight. Again, opt for durability over designs. Also, try to get a dark colored one so that the light doesn’t come through. Mine is lavender on the outside but it’s black inside, so there’s no chance of light coming through.

Electronics

  1. Pendrive- You’ll obviously need it.
  2. Power bank!
  3. A hard disk!
  4. An I-pod- In case you commute daily to and fro school in a bus/metro like I do.
  5. Headphone/ear buds- Of course.
  6. Laptop/Tablet
  7. Calculator.

Stationery etc.

  1. Pens- roller balls or gels, whichever you prefer. I personally prefer both at different times. In classes where you need to take fast notes, I’d advise you to take ball pens so it won’t smudge. Also, decide on the colors you want. I always used black (for headings), green (for sub headings and important lines) and blue (for normal text).
  2. Pencils- Mechanical or normal lead ones.
  3. Erasers
  4. Sharpeners
  5. Rulers- try to get a foldable one. It’s space saving.
  6. Highlighters- Some people prefer to have a set of whole colors, others don’t. I prefer the neon green, pink and orange. That’s it for me.
  7. Marker pen- Or Sharpies. For the stuff you might need to write on the surface of those assignment CDs or plastic covers on folders/binders.
  8. Post its/page flags/page markers- You know why.
  9. Cellotape
  10. Cellotape dispenser- Of course you can do without it, but I prefer using a Cellotape on a dispenser. I don’t like searching for the loose ends on them, otherwise.
  11. Scissors- A big one as well as a small one (to put in your pouch).
  12. Page cutter- For the times you can’t use scissors.
  13. Correction tape/gel- I use the gel, simply because I’ve never come across the tape version around here. I’m sure you’ll get them online.
  14. Gum/Glue- I use gums, strictly.
  15. Page clips.
  16. Stapler- and pins.
  17. A Pencil pouch- Decide on the type you would prefer. I bought one simple red one at 50rupees INR and another transparent one at 70 rupees INR. I support the transparent ones always. It saves time as you can see the thing you want and get it immediately without having to search about. Also, prefer to have a pouch that is not too big so that you’ll have to think about what you put in and thus reduce the chances for over-cluttering it.
  18. Geometry Box.
  19. Index cards- Especially if you’re taking a language class. I also used it for Biology (definitions) and Chemistry and Math (formulas).
  20. Copies- This I leave to you. I prefer one notebook per class and not at all being in favor of the multiple-subjects notebook. And I love the Classmate ones. I use both the single lined as well as plain paged ones.
  21. Plain sheets- For printer use. Also, for regular use, if you’re a kind of person who prefers pages instead of whole notebooks.
  22. Folders/stick files- For the loose sheets you might need to take to class on some days.
  23. Plastic folder bags- or the above-mentioned folders. I prefer this.
  24. Display files- For your certificates. Keeps the dust off and helpful when you need them for job/internship interviews.
  25. Binders- Simple ones with a plastic pocket on the front is good. Also, what would you prefer- three rings or four or simply 2?
  26. Page protectors- I used to put one at the first, in a binder, and I put in that subject’s syllabus and thus it was very good. Alternately, you can put in the timetables etc.
  27. Page punching machine- A single one is a must have and another one should be for your pages- the ones you need to put in your binders. Then again, if you have the multiple one, you won’t need a single one!
  28. A planner- This is the one thing I swear by! It doesn’t matter if you are in middle school, or high school or college or even UNI! Get one. There are lots of affordable and cheap ones in the market.
  29. A diary/journal- When you need to relieve yourself of all the frustration and stress, writing them down helps.
  30. A table calendar- I use one. Really helps.
  31. Display board- to be placed in front of your study table where you can put up important to-do’s as well as formulas and the periodic table.
  32. Push pins- If you have a display board, obviously.

Optional stuff.

  1. A few books- For the times you’ll need a break. For most people, I would suggest simple chick-lit stuff, but then again some would prefer books where you need to concentrate a lot. Choose by yourself.
  2. Bookmarks.
  3. Table tray/storage box.
  4. A hand-fan- For when you need to stand in a queue or under the sun while the assembly is on.
  5. A small mirror.
  6. A small hairbrush/comb.
  7. Compact powder- If you get oily.
  8. Tissues!!
  9. Hand sanitizer.
  10. A small pouch

I’ve tried to add all of the things I think a student might need for a back to school shopping session. Please comment if you think I’ve missed something.

Also, follow for more of school related stuff that will soon be coming up.

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