Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: September 2021 and October TBR

Read in September 2021: 3 books

Book(s) of the month: I know there’s a lot of controversy regarding this book but it was really good so I have mixed feelings.

October 2021 TBR

I am snailing my way through War and Peace.

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 43
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 9
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) –20 (8 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) – 11
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 15262

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: August 2021 and September TBR

Read in August 2021: 7 books

Book(s) of the month: Both hard-hitting non-fiction.

September 2021 TBR

Have you read War and Peace? This book has been on my shelf for more than 14 years now. About time!

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 40
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 9
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 19 (7 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) – 11
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 13449

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: July 2021 and August TBR

Read in July 2021: 3 books

Book(s) of the month: Didn’t like any that much.

August 2021 TBR

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 33
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 8
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 15 (4 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) – 9
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 11649

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: June 2021 and July TBR

June has been a busy month so reading hasn’t been that great. What about you?

Read in June 2021: 4 books

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Book(s) of the month: 4 stars to 

What a Brilliant Audiobook! Highly recommend!

July 2021 TBR

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 30
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 8
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 14 (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) – 9
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 104507

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: May 2021 and June TBR

Been such a dismal month reading wise. Was yours better?

Read in May 2021: 6 books

Book(s) of the month: 4 stars to 

June 2021 TBR

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 26
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 5
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 13 (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) – 9
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 9803

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: April 2021 and May TBR

April has been a difficult month for India and especially, the latter part of the month, I have been distressed or been trying to find COVID resources for friends and strangers. No end seems in sight. I try reading to distract but it seldom helps.

Read in April 2021: 4 books

Book(s) of the month: 4 stars to 

May 2021 TBR

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 26
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 3
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 10 (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) – 7
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 8511

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: March 2021 and April TBR

I know. I know. A little too late but you can’t blame your girl for traveling the moment she got an opportunity. The world we live in, that’s a priority. So here I am a little later in the month, telling you all about what I read which frankly wasn’t much.

Read in March 2021: 4 books and 22 short stories

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Book(s) of the month: 4 stars to

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April 2021 TBR

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 22
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 2
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 6 (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) – 5
  7. Total Stories read – 87

Total number of Pages read: 7575

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

Month TBR Pile, Month Update

Month Wrap-Up: Feb 2021 and March TBR

Read in Feb 2021: 8 books and 29 short stories

and Three Days and a Child

Short Stories

Book(s) of the month: 5 stars to

March 2021 TBR

2021 Challenge Updates

  1. Read atleast 50 books – 18
  2. Read more classics (at least 10) – 2
  3. Read more owned books (at least 20) – 6 (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) – 4

Total number of Pages read: 5784

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

Continue reading “Month Wrap-Up: Feb 2021 and March TBR”
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

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.