1.5 stars, Book reviews

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

Genre: Romance

Date Published: November 17, 2020

Synopsis:

A trio of second-born daughters set out to break the family curse that says they’ll never find love on a whirlwind journey through the lush Italian countryside by New York Times bestseller Lori Nelson Spielman, author of The Life List.

Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love.

Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.

Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse. 

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Add on Goodreads | Audible

My View: For a monthly challenge on my fav GR group, I had to read a book with ‘star’ in the title. I zeroed it down to three books and then chose this one because my friends voted for it. I mean, Tuscany!!!

A few pages in, I felt I was being set up for disappointment but all those 4-5 star reviews made me feel it would only get better from here on. Ummm… Before I begin with my rant, let me jot down the good things.

That first page, ah! It made me hungry. The two really good things about this book- Italy and the description of food. I was constantly googling recipes. Oops!

There were about three quotes in the book which I highlighted and shared. I liked those life lessons.

And therein end the good things about the book. Here begins the rant.

I HATED the plot. I didn’t like a single character and I was constantly verbally abusing the characters in my head. That’s supposed to be good, right? Feeling so strongly for the characters. Not really. Not when it feels like the book should have been written in 1950s or about the 1950s. It just didn’t belong in the present era.

My feminist self was screaming out loud. Why, you ask? Let me count the things.

  1. The MC and her sister drool at every guy that comes along. I mean really(?)
  2. They are livid because they won’t get married! Or there’s a ‘curse’ that tells them so. Are we in the 21st century or am I mistaken?
  3. Most characters are people everyone walks over.
  4. The moral of the story is they finally decide to stand up for themselves. Like finally!
  5. Bitchiness is counted as ‘oh poor thing, she was going through so much’. I can’t tolerate this!! So not okay with me!

I think I might have liked this if I was born in the 1920s and was reading this in 1950. It’s way too late for now. Like what were you thinking, girl(?)

This was going to be a 1 star but because of those three quotes and all that food, I will give it a 0.5 extra. There, I said it.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?

1.5/5 stars – Between I didn’t like it and It was okay.

About the Author

Lori Nelson Spielman is a former speech pathologist, guidance counselor, and teacher of homebound students. She enjoys fitness running, traveling, and reading, though writing is her true passion. Her first novel, The Life List, has been published in over thirty countries and optioned by Fox 2000. Her second novel, Sweet Forgiveness, was also an international bestseller. Her third book, The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany, releases November 17, 2020. She lives in Michigan with her husband and their very spoiled puppy

Promoted Post

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

3.5 stars, Book reviews

Stepping Beyond Khaki by K Annamalai





Genre: Memoir

Date Published: January 18, 2021

Source: The Good people at Bloomsbury India 😀

Synopsis:

How did the rape and murder of a young girl transform a rule-obsessed officer to take on a more humane approach?

Why did people start calling him Singham just a few years into his policing career?

What is it that made a shy, simple village boy dedicate himself to a lifetime of commitment towards public service?

Stepping Beyond Khaki: Revelations of a Real-Life Singhamis a tell-all memoir by celebrated former police officer K. Annamalai. With a career spanning a decade in the state of Karnataka, he earned the respect of the people with his humanistic action and his style of leadership focusing on empowering subordinates. Further, Annamalai pitches significant questions that rarely get discussed-are politicians bad? And is politics a place where good people fear to tread?

By stepping away from the spotlight and bringing out the real heroes whom he had encountered in his policing journey, this is unlike any other policing memoir. Truthfully told with a dash of idealism, it also prescribes changes that are much needed in politics, policing and in our daily governance mechanisms. It brings out the inherent goodness of the common man and the role the general public play in keeping this democracy functioning.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart | Add on Goodreads

My View: Up until early last year, I held a common view of the police: they can’t be trusted, don’t go to a policeman even when you need to, they are unfit, take bribes, and are dangerous to your safety (especially as a female).

This changed in March 2020. March 2020, I shared space with constables, and I talked to senior superintendents while on COVID duty for those quarantined after traveling abroad. And that changed everything. My perception of police emerged from that of what I held above, to them being humans who work more hours than normal, are underpaid, hardly get time to spend with family, put their lives on the line, and are hated by the public. During the span of a month, I was also witness to the loss of a young constable who was going home after finishing his duty at 3am and in order to save a drunk person on the road, he swerved and lost his balance, and died. He was 23. Last March made me know more about the police than I ever had before. It gave me a real picture, away from what I had been told, and what media told me.

So when I got a chance to read this book, I grabbed it, wanting to know a first-hand account. I am embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard about Annamalai before but I am glad to have gotten to know him through this book. He’s a marvellous person, reaching where he did on his own abilities. Reading this book was a breeze and I got lost in his life story, admiring his courage, his long-term vision, and his methods. While reading this book, I was made aware of (by someone who did better on current affairs than me) some things about him that are against my own views but the author hasn’t mentioned them in the book so I will put them aside.

Annamalai goes into the minute accounts of a daily life of a policeman and all that they sacrifice and go through. He talks about the grassroot level and helps bring awareness to aspects of a policeman’s life that go unnoticed.

This book is an eye-opener. It is revealing, humbling, and brings to you the other-side view most people are not privy to. It seems like an unbiased account of the real deal.

Towards the end, the book becomes a little dry when delving into the political arena albeit Annamalai has mentioned some really good measures that the govt needs to take to ensure smooth functioning of the police and be able to provide help to those who need it. If only someone on the political level reads this and takes a step in the right direction.

It’s a great book to give you a glimpse into the life of a policeman.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?

3.5/5 stars – Between I liked it and I really liked it.

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: Jan 2021 and Feb TBR

Read in Jan 2021: 10 books and 36 short stories

Short Stories

Book(s) of the month 4 stars each to

February 2021 TBR  

and Three Days and a Child

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 10
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 1
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 5 (3 newly acquired)
  4. Read huge books (at least 4) – Shantaram, Gone with the wind and one more – 0
  5. Re-read  books – 2
  6. Read more non-fiction (atleast 10) – 2

Total number of Pages read: 2835

How was your Jan reading-wise? Leave a link to your wrap-up post and I’ll come visit.

2 stars, Book reviews

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi





The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Genre: Historical Fiction

Date Published: March 3, 2020

Goodreads Synopsis:

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does. 

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart | Audible | Add on Goodreads

I picked this up from GR book award nominations section, saw the wonderful reviews and decided to go for it. It started off really well, then went downhill and never revived itself. I really just wanted to finish reading it after a point.

I was confused about all those raving reviews before realizing that this book was written keeping in mind the international audience and what sells to them. It was not meant for Indian readers who would find the loopholes and would not be swayed by the ayurvedic remedies and the cultural overwhelm and would be able to realize the hurried yet not real plot and the stunted character development. It felt like there was a rush to reach the happy ever after ending and so it was.

The characters and situations were often implausible. Several times, I found myself shaking my head. And those idioms had me gritting my teeth, half the time they were just inserted where they didn’t even fit.

This book is meant to overwhelm an international audience making them believe they have got a glimpse of Indian culture, the truth is far from it. I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only one who felt this way when I read some other reviews, not all of them by Indians. Some non-Indian readers also did see through the whole ‘let me pitch this colorful, intense, surprise-me-at-every-page’ India to them and they will be sold to the idea.

This book really could have been so much more. The Henna Artist had potential but it didn’t live up to it.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?

2/5 stars – It was okay.

Author Bio:

There comes a point in every daughter’s life when she begins seeing her mother as a person separate from her family, someone who has an identity outside of motherhood. That was the moment I began re-imagining my mother’s life, and that re-imagining became THE HENNA ARTIST. I was born in Rajasthan, India, and moved with my family to the U.S. when I was nine. Even after graduating from Stanford University, and working in advertising and marketing, I never considered becoming an author. But taking my mother to India in her later years changed all that. In 2011, I got my MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. It took 10 years, a lot of research, and many trips to India to complete my debut novel, and I’m thrilled to share my writing and publishing process on YouTube: http://bit.ly/alkajoshi
I live on the Monterey Peninsula with my husband and two misbehaving pups, so let me know if you’re going to be in the neighborhood.

4 stars, Book reviews

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

7610Genre: Non-Fiction

Date Published: December 30, 2003

Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bold and inspired teacher named Azar Nafisi secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids in Tehran, fundamentalists seized hold of the universities, and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the girls in Azar Nafisi’s living room risked removing their veils and immersed themselves in the worlds of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. In this extraordinary memoir, their stories become intertwined with the ones they are reading. Reading Lolita in Tehran is a remarkable exploration of resilience in the face of tyranny and a celebration of the liberating power of literature.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart | Audible | Add on Goodreads

My View: As I sit here gathering my thoughts about the sublime essence of this book, I don’t feel like letting go. Not yet. The magic, the hold that it had on me was unparalleled in its intensity. Wanting to rush back to its pages every day was the kind of pleasure rarely found in the mundane existence these days.

The Iran, I had read about and forgotten, the pages of Persepolis, washed clean from my memory, once again, rose to a reality that goes on in one part of the world. Nafisi’s words, making you stop and ponder on your life, often comparing it with that of women in Iran. But she stops you from doing just that. “Somehow there was little consolation in the fact that millions of people were unhappier than we were. Why should other people’s misery make us happier or more content?”

The constant push and pull of wanting to leave off yet staying on for your identity and hope that things will change. This and countless other scenarios that lead one to sink into the mire of relentless thoughts, making you sit up and take notice, reflect, and ponder. Reading Lolita in Tehran is the epitome of everything that was once reticent, now opening up to words and feelings that lie deep at the heart of the life there.

The book constantly shocks you, jolting you awake of your indifference and ignorance. It makes you feel. It makes you want to do something about everything that is wrong and unfair in the world. And yet, you sit, bound by an invisible rope, at a loss of words and actions. There’s this intense desire to close one’s eyes to the reality happening in front of your eyes. The point when you want to stop reading for the fear of what you might encounter but the need to know doesn’t let you stop.

And you read on, getting entangled in the life of Nafisi and ‘her girls’, afraid of their fate and destiny, wanting strongly to etch their future with hope and delight. But being unable to hold any impact on their lives, standing still as a bystander as life parts them away from their innocence bringing along dark reality into their worlds. You cringe from the truth, wanting to hear the fictional lies than to reconcile with the truth.

There’s this constant desire to touch her ‘magician’ intimately, to coax out of him, his life story, and tend to his wounds. For in his words and actions, emerges a fragile self hidden beneath the wisdom of the ages and the nonchalance that marks his actions.

Nafisi and her words lead you to a world far away from your own and she leaves you there, long after you have finished reading the book. And there you are, trapped in the Islamic revolution, covered with a chador and veil, bereft of your beloved books, needing to have a chaperone for your visit to the pastry shop with a fear of being arrested lest a strand of hair or last bit of makeup shows through. You live that life, day after day, year after year, until one day everything breaks loose and you give up. If not for Nafisi, I would never have known her world this intimately, seeing it from such close quarters.

Highly recommended for an insight into Iran and the times it has been through.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?

4/5 stars – I really liked it.
4 stars

 

 

Author Bio:

Azar Nafisi, Ph.D. (Persian: آذر نفیسی) (born December 1955) is an Iranian professor and writer who currently resides in the United States.

Nafisi’s bestselling book Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books has gained a great deal of public attention and been translated into 32 languages.

 

4 stars, Book reviews

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

410428Genre: Fiction

Date Published: September 12, 2006

Source: Owned Copy

Goodreads Synopsis: All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart |

 Add on Goodreads

My View: I read this book for the first time in 2011 and fell in love with it. It was marked as one of my all-time favorites and awarded 5 stars. And then I remember picking it up in a book fair because favorites need to be bought and re-read, right? Even gifted to friends. So after doing all that, this paperback kept staring at me from my bookshelf waiting to be picked up. I almost did, several times but nope.

Fast forward 9 years later and 2 weeks of home quarantine helped me get my reading goals in line (the only ones that made the cut, haha) and here I was pouring over this book. Scared as hell of whether or not it will keep up to my old expectations (one of the reasons I hate re-reading favorites. Poor Anna Karenina bit the dust not too long ago) but went with it nevertheless.

This line from the synopsis, “The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling” sums it well. The book had me drooling over all the book references, the gigantic libraries, the first editions, and the love of reading in the main characters. Oh my, oh my. My imagination was running overtime, hiding in the lanes and alleys between ceiling-high bookshelves, propping into a corner, resting my back on a shelf and turning the pages, lost in the story until the light streaming through the high, wide windows dissipates and it’s time for dinner.

Setterfield takes you on a journey through the two protagonists’ lives, weaving in and out, drawing similarities. You can’t help but feel for them. Wanting to know the truth, to scratch the surface and delve deep into when it all began.

The characters are painfully sketched, each one embedded in your memory as a long lost friend that’s come back from oblivion. And you hold them close wanting to hear their life stories.

The only thing that disappointed me was the mystery. Something that appealed to me 9 years ago didn’t do so to my more mature brain which felt, “not this, anything but this”. But there it was staring me in the face and I wrapped up the book with a sigh. Hated putting the book off my favorite shelf. Still good but didn’t make the cut. It always surprises me how what we loved once, we don’t years down the line. We might appreciate it but the love’s lost somewhere in the years that went by.

Would I recommend this book? Why not? Go read this one, for the love of reading, if nothing else. It’s a tad bit long and a bit dry towards the end.

I didn’t know there was a movie! Got to watch that now.

Have you read the book? What did you think of it?

4/5 stars – I really liked it.


4 stars

Author Bio:

Diane Setterfield is a British author. Her bestselling novel, The Thirteenth Tale (2006) was published in 38 countries worldwide and has sold more than three million copies. It was number one in the New York Times hardback fiction list for three weeks and is enjoyed as much for being ‘a love letter to reading’ as for its mystery and style. Her second novel, Bellman & Black (2013 is a genre-defying tale of rooks and Victorian retail. January 2019 sees the publication of her new title, Once Upon a River, which has been called ‘bewitching’ and ‘enchanting’.

Born in Englefield, Berkshire in 1964, Diane spent most of her childhood in the nearby village of Theale. After schooldays at Theale Green, Diane studied French Literature at the University of Bristol. Her PhD was on autobiographical structures in André Gide’s early fiction. She taught English at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie and the Ecole nationale supérieure de Chimie, both in Mulhouse, France, and later lectured in French at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. She left academia in the late 1990s to pursue writing.

The Thirteenth Tale was acquired by Heyday Films and adapted for television by the award-winning playwright and scriptwriter, Christopher Hampton. Starring Vanessa Redgrave and Olivia Colman, it was filmed in 2013 in North Yorkshire for BBC2. The TV rights to Once Upon a River have even sold to Kudos (Broadchurch, Spooks, Grantchester).

Diane Setterfield has been published in over forty countries.

Diane lives in Oxford, in the UK. When not writing she reads widely, and when not actually reading she is usually talking or thinking about reading. She is, she says, ‘a reader first, a writer second.’

4 stars, Book reviews

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

37570546Genre: Non-Fiction

Date Published: April 2, 2019

Source: Online Library

Goodreads Synopsis: One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart |

 Add on Goodreads

My View: I picked up this book long after two of my pretties told me to do it right away when one day, I just couldn’t get into anything else. And lo and behold, I think it took me 2, max 3 days to wrap this beauty up. Don’t you make that mistake. Pick it up sooner than I did.

First things first, Lori Gottlieb, you are amazing. Even more than your book. Because as a therapist I know how hard it is to bare your soul and tell the rest of the world that we are as vulnerable and fragile and it’s okay for us to undergo therapy just like everyone else out there. It takes a strong self such as you to drive that message home. Revealing your raw, tender self and those myriad number of emotions- my, my, I am in awe. So proud of you really.

Lori has done a great job bringing the storyline together. It weaves in and out without making you feel like you lost your place. From her personal life to the clients’, it’s really been brought together very well. A huge thank you to the clients who agreed to their lives being penned down and out there for everyone to see as much impersonalize one may do it.

Let me cite the reasons why you might consider picking up this book.

  1. You are considering going for therapy.
  2. You are in therapy.
  3. You are a therapist thinking of going for therapy.
  4. You are a therapist who’s in therapy.
  5. You want to know how a therapy session might go like without having to actually go for one.
  6. You are interested in therapy and the nuances of it.
  7. You want a good, engrossing book to read.

I guess that’s more than enough reasons and covers atleast 80% of the world, if not all.

This book is a fitting tribute to the world of therapy and all therapists out there. But it makes for a great reading for everyone including lay persons. I am really hoping it gets across the message of ‘it’s okay for a therapist to go for therapy’. It sure needs to get around.

Lori Gottlieb, thank you for sharing your personal journey so that ours could be a little easier.

P.S. I am glad you wrote this book instead.

4/5 stars – I really liked it.
4 stars

Author Bio:

LORI GOTTLIEB is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE, which is being adapted for TV with Eva Longoria. In addition to her clinical practice, she writes The Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column and contributes regularly to the New York Times. She is sought-after in media such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, and NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

Learn more at LoriGottlieb.com or by following her @LoriGottlieb1 on Twitter.

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: January & February 2019 and March TBR

The year has begun on a slow note but I am definitely getting out of the reading rut.
January 2019

February 2019

March TBR

2019 Challenge Updates

  1. Read at least 50 books (Goodreads goal) – 4
  2. Read more classics (at least 10)
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 1
  4. Read huge books (at least 3) – Shantaram, Jane Eyre, A suitable boy, 100 years of solitude
  5. Re-read- Anna Karenina, Thirteenth Tale, To the Lighthouse
  6. Read more non-fiction/ memoir/ autobiography (at least 20)
  7. YLTO Challenge

2019 Popsugar Challenge

Regular
1. A book becoming a movie in 2019
2. A book that makes you nostalgic
3. A book written by a musician (fiction or nonfiction)
4. A book you think should be turned into a movie
5. A book with at least one million ratings on Goodreads
6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover
7. A reread of a favorite book
8. A book about a hobby
9. A book you meant to read in 2018 – The Japanese Lover
10. A book with POP, SUGAR, or CHALLENGE in the title
11. A book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover
12. A book inspired by myth/legend/folklore
13. A book published posthumously
14. A book you see someone reading on TV or in a movie
15. A retelling of a classic
16. A book with a question in the title
17. A book set on college or university campus
18. A book about someone with a superpower
19. A book told from multiple POVs
20. A book set in space
21. A book by two female authors
22. A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title
23. A book set in Scandinavia
24. A book that takes place in a single day
25. A debut novel
26. A book that’s published in 2019
27. A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature
28. A book recommended by a celebrity you admire
29. A book with LOVE in the title
30. A book featuring an amateur detective
31. A book about a family
32. A book author from Asia, Africa, or South America
33. A book with a zodiac sign or astrology term in title
34. A book that includes a wedding – Today will be different
35. A book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter
36. A ghost story
37. A book with a two-word title – Spider’s Web
38. A novel based on a true story
39. A book revolving around a puzzle or game
40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading challenge

Advanced
41. A “cli-fi” (climate fiction) book
42. A “choose-your-own-adventure” book
43. An “own voices” book
44. Read a book during the season it is set in
45. A LitRPG book
46. A book with no chapters / unusual chapter headings / unconventionally numbered chapters
47. Two books that share the same title
48. Two books that share the same title
49. A book that has inspired a common phrase or idiom
50. A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent

3/ 50 Done

How was your February reading-wise? Leave a link to your wrap-up post and I’ll come visit.

4 stars, Book reviews

Ignorance by Milan Kundera

Genre: Fiction

Date Published: September 30, 2003

Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: A man and a woman meet by chance while returning to their homeland, which they had abandoned twenty years earlier when they chose to become exiles. Will they manage to pick up the thread of their strange love story, interrupted almost as soon as it began and then lost in the tides of history? The truth is that after such a long absence “their memories no longer match.” We always believe that our memories coincide with those of the person we loved, that we experienced the same thing. But this is just an illusion. Then again, what can we expect of our weak memory? It records only “an insignificant, minuscule particle” of the past, “and no one knows why it’s this bit and not any other bit.” We live our lives sunk in a vast forgetting, a fact we refuse to recognize. Only those who return after twenty years, like Odysseus returning to his native Ithaca, can be dazzled and astounded by observing the goddess of ignorance firsthand.

Buy it here – Amazon India | Amazon USThe Book Depository | Flipkart |

 Add on Goodreads

My View: My relationship with Kundera has been of a strange kind. For the longest time, I thought he was an Indian. Yes, I know. You can kill me now. *facepalm*

My first brief tryst with him was with Identity which I ambitiously thought I would borrow from a friend and finish it in a single night after I had had a long day and a couple of drinks. Pretty ambitious indeed. I think it was an easy read and I made it to page 50 but the flight home next day prevented me from finishing it.

And then came The Unbearable Lightness of Being which I had my eyes on since forever and finally had my own copy. I thought it was going great but somehow somewhere down the line, I put it by my bedside and forgot all about it.

A library visit introduced me to Ignorance and three days after having borrowed it, I finished it. Kundera. That’s Kundera for you. Or rather for me. Unique. Puzzling. Eliciting different reactions with different books. Sometimes I put him down, sometimes he’s unputdownable.

His writing. His slow-moving plot. His deeply etched characters. Their stories. Their life and yours depicted in them.

He takes you on a journey of worlds that intersect. Those that were once known, became alien, and then you try to familiarize yourself with them yet again only to realize that they no longer exist. These worlds that you once knew. They have vanished, disappeared since you left. And it’s futile to look for a part of yourself in the rubble of the past.

His words, mesmerizing, beseeching. Reminding you of things that once were. Making you ponder, reflect. On the mundane of things which you see with new eyes. His writing that creates magic.

“I imagine the feelings of two people meeting again after many years. In the past, they spent some time together, and therefore they think they are linked by the same experience, the same recollections. The same recollections? That’s where the misunderstanding starts: they don’t have the same recollections; each of them retains two or three small scenes from the past, but each has his own; their recollections are not similar; they don’t intersect; and even in terms of quantity they are not comparable: one person remembers the other more than he is remembered; first because memory capacity varies among individuals but also because they don’t hold the same importance for each other.”

Give Kundera a try. Maybe you will get lucky with the first book you pick up of his. 😉

4/5 stars – I really liked it.
4 stars

Author Bio:

Milan Kundera is the only author today who can take such dizzying concepts as absence, memory, forgetting, and ignorance, and transform them into material for a novel, masterfully orchestrating them into a polyphonic and moving work.

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, for more than twenty years.

He is the author of the novels The Joke, Life Is Elsewhere, The Farewell Party, The Books of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short story collection Laughable Loves, all originally written in Czech.

Like Slowness, his two earlier nonfiction works, The Art ofthe Novel and Testaments Betrayed, were originally written in French.

challenges

2019 Reading Goals

RC.jpgMore than a month into 2019, probably time for me to make some yearly reading goals. Yeah, I think I didn’t get the new year announcement on time. Sigh.
I am trying to get my life on track. Emphasis on ‘trying’. So let’s do this!
  1. Read at least 50 books (Goodreads goal)
  2. Read more classics (at least 10)
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20)
  4. Read huge books (at least 3) – Shantaram, Jane Eyre, A suitable boy, 100 years of solitude
  5. Re-read- Anna Karenina, Thirteenth Tale, To the Lighthouse
  6. Read more non-fiction/ memoir/ autobiography (at least 20)
  7. YLTO Challenge
  8. Popsugar Challenge

popsugar reading challenge.jpg

What are your yearly challenges?

 

 

wrap up

2018 Wrap-Up

Let’s look at what I accomplished last year.
Books read: 93
Pages read: 21053
Favorite Book of the year

5 stars to 

Other favorites

Challenge Updates
  1. Read at least 40 books (Goodreads goal) – I read 93 books, yay!
  2. Read more classics (at least 15) – 9 😦
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 16 😦
  4. Read huge books (at least 3) – Shantaram, Gone with the wind and one more – Sadly didn’t do this.
  5. Re-read two favorite books – Anna Karenina and Thirteenth Tale – Nope 😦
  6. Read more non-fiction/ memoir/ autobiography (at least 10) – 16, yay!

2018 ultimate reading challenge

  1. A book you read in school
  2. A book from your childhood
  3. A book published over 100 years ago – Heart of Darkness
  4. A book published in the last year – Genuine Fraud
  5. A non-fic book You can do it
  6. A book written by a male author – The Gift of Therapy
  7. A book written by a female author – Sunbathing in the rain
  8. A book by someone who isn’t a writer – When breath becomes air
  9. A book that became a film – The painted veil
  10. A book published in the 20th century – Changing Planes
  11. A book set in your hometown/ region – How I Became a Farmer’s Wife
  12. A book with a name in the title – A Man called Ove
  13. A book with a number in the title – Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
  14. A book based on a true story – Dying Well
  15. A book someone else recommended – 1984
  16. A book with over 500 pages
  17. A book you can finish in a day – Ghachar Ghochar
  18. A previously banned book
  19. A book with one-word title – Malice
  20. A book translated from another language – Moonrise From the Green Grass Roof
  21. A personal growth book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
  22. A memoir or a journal – Tiger tiger
  23. A book by someone from another country – The Notebook
  24. A book set somewhere you’ll visit this year – The Blue Castle
  25. An award-winning book – Pulitzer Prize – Angela’s Ashes
  26. A book you read in school
  27. A book with a character with your first name
  28. A book with a place in the title – The Mayor of Casterbridge
  29. A book set in the future – Cinder
  30. A play – The live Corpse
  31. A scary book – Dracula
  32. A funny book – Where did you go, Bernadette
  33. A book of short stories – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
  34. A trilogy or series Me Before You
  35. A bestseller – The Hate U Give
  36. A book you own but haven’t read – Haroun and the sea of stories
  37. A book about philosophy
  38. An epic poem
  39. A Victorian novel
  40. A book of poetry
  41. A book with a colour in the title
  42. A book with an appealing cover – Everything everything
  43. A book about psychology – Love’s executioner and other tales of psychotherapy
  44. A book about science – The Mind’s Eye
  45. A graphic novel – Asterix the gaul
  46. A self-published book
  47. A book from a different culture– Shanghai Girls
  48. A young adult book – This sky
  49. A book of non-fiction essays – At the same time
  50. A book by an author you haven’t read before – Gifts
  51. A book set in a country you’ve never been to – Into the water
  52. A book set in the place you live today

39/ 52 Done

Definitely, lots of improvement is needed. Haha. Hoping 2019 is better reading-wise. How was your 2018?

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: September to November 2018 and December TBR

I haven’t read much these past few months so combining these posts together.
September 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December TBR

2018 Challenge Updates

  1. Read at least 40 books (Goodreads goal) – Goal completed87
  2. Read more classics (at least 15) – 8
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 16
  4. Read huge books (at least 3) – Shantaram, Gone with the wind and one more – 0
  5. Re-read  books – 0
  6. Read more non-fiction/ memoir/ autobiography (at least 10) – Goal Completed – 16

Total number of Pages read this year: 17078

2018 ultimate reading challenge

  1. A book you read in school
  2. A book from your childhood
  3. A book published over 100 years agoHeart of Darkness
  4. A book published in the last year – Genuine Fraud
  5. A non-fic book You can do it
  6. A book written by a male author – The Gift of Therapy
  7. A book written by a female authorSunbathing in the rain
  8. A book by someone who isn’t a writer – When breath becomes air
  9. A book that became a film – The painted veil
  10. A book published in the 20th century Changing Planes
  11. A book set in your hometown/ region – How I Became a Farmer’s Wife
  12. A book with a name in the titleA Man called Ove
  13. A book with a number in the title – Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
  14. A book based on a true storyDying Well
  15. A book someone else recommended – 1984
  16. A book with over 500 pages
  17. A book you can finish in a day – Ghachar Ghochar
  18. A previously banned book
  19. A book with one-word title – Malice
  20. A book translated from another language – Moonrise From the Green Grass Roof
  21. A personal growth book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
  22. A memoir or a journal – Tiger tiger
  23. A book by someone from another country – The Notebook
  24. A book set somewhere you’ll visit this yearThe Blue Castle
  25. An award-winning book – Pulitzer Prize – Angela’s Ashes
  26. A book you read in school
  27. A book with a character with your first name
  28. A book with a place in the titleThe Mayor of Casterbridge
  29. A book set in the futureCinder
  30. A play – The live Corpse
  31. A scary bookDracula
  32. A funny book – Where did you go, Bernadette
  33. A book of short stories – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
  34. A trilogy or series Me Before You
  35. A bestseller The Hate U Give
  36. A book you own but haven’t readHaroun and the sea of stories
  37. A book about philosophy
  38. An epic poem
  39. A Victorian novel
  40. A book of poetry
  41. A book with a colour in the title
  42. A book with an appealing cover – Everything everything
  43. A book about psychology – Love’s executioner and other tales of psychotherapy
  44. A book about science – The Mind’s Eye
  45. A graphic novelAsterix the gaul
  46. A self-published book
  47. A book from a different cultureShanghai Girls
  48. A young adult book – This sky
  49. A book of non-fiction essays – At the same time
  50. A book by an author you haven’t read beforeGifts
  51. A book set in a country you’ve never been to – Into the water
  52. A book set in the place you live today

39/ 52 Done

How was your November reading-wise? Leave a link to your wrap-up post and I’ll come visit.