Here’s what arrived in my April Big Book Box.
Here’s a vlog to show you all the goodies. 😀
Here’s what arrived in my April Big Book Box.
Here’s a vlog to show you all the goodies. 😀
Book(s) of the month
2018 Challenge Updates
Total number of Pages read this year: 11436
2018 ultimate reading challenge
36/ 52 Done
How was your May reading-wise? Leave a link to your wrap-up post and I’ll come visit.
Date Published: February 28, 2017
Source: Penguin Random House Review Copy
Goodreads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
My View: I kept hearing about this book on and on. So much so that as a Secret Santa last year, I gifted this book to my giftee even without having read it! So imagine my pleasure when my request to review this book was approved.
And there I had it. This beautiful book in my very hands. I kept saving it for later because I wasn’t sure I was ready for this awesomeness yet.
And then I began reading. I finished it in 2-3 weekdays. It isn’t a kind of book that will go for a slow read.
The subject matter is sensitive and I did get to know about so many of these incidents when I read through the author’s notes and googled one incident after another, apalled at the racism, the unfairness of it all.
However, as much as I am impressed with the subject matter and agree that a book on this topic needed to be written, I can’t say it lived upto the hype for me. I went in expecting amazing and ended up with an above average book. I think the problem lay in my not being the target audience. I should have let YAs stick to this instead.
One thing that kept getting in the way of my liking this book better was the 16 year old Starr who refused to behave as a 16 year old, more like 10 maybe. I acknowledge that this might have to do with cultural differences but I am not so sure about that. I wish she acted her age and then maybe my head could wrap itself around it.
I hope this book starts up the much needed conversation and helps people be more fair in their behavior and not look at everyone from racism tinted glasses.
If you like lots of drama, this would be right up your alley!
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.
Thank you, Penguin Random House for the review copy. All views expressed are my own and unbiased.
Date Published: January 17, 2018
Source: Penguin Random House Review Copy
Goodreads Synopsis: Auroville has a reputation as a cosmopolitan, spiritual township, but it remains an enigma to outside observers. What is life really like in the community? What do its residents believe in, and what are they aspiring toward? This anthology of writing from the community, edited by a long-time resident and representing forty-odd authors from around the world, seeks to shed light not only on Auroville’s ideals but also on its lived reality. The polyphonic narratives in this eclectic collection-including fiction, essays, poetry and drama-capture something of the dreams, hopes, disappointments and sheer hard work that make up this complex, layered and constantly evolving place.
Enlivened by cartoons and accompanied by rare archival photographs, Auroville: Dream and Reality is a view from the inside of this remarkable experiment in communal and intentional living.
My View: Auroville. I had no idea this was a community in itself until a couple of years back. I only knew it as a tourist destination near Pondicherry and that I wasn’t able to visit it on my last visit to Pondicherry a few years ago. However, this book! There was a reason I asked to read and review it. I was intrigued by this whole community in itself. And technology be damned, I am just not the kind of person to google to satisfy her curiosity. Give me a book any day and I am happy. Especially this being an anthology helped.
The book unravels Auroville like I believe has never been done before. From where it all began to why and how, to what has actually turned up, it’s a journey in itself over the years. The anthology gives a plethora of information, lived experiences, pictures to feast your eyes on, and a deeper knowledge of Auroville, its inhabitants, their relationships with others, Auroville, and themselves.
The book is not merely all essays but also prose, poetry, even cartoons. There are love stories with sad endings and relationships that began and those that broke. There is the mission, the dream behind Auroville and the reality that it is, today. The book is raw, replete with truth, hiding nothing, being the way it is.
‘Auroville: Dream and Reality’ has quenched my thirst for walking in its labyrinths of passages and unveiling it like a new bride. I do wish to step into this world of its own, someday. Never to stay but always to visit and see it with my own eyes.
Akash Kapur has done a brilliant job collecting the material for this book. No wonder it has taken him 10 years to do it! But it’s all worth it. A must read for those interested in the magic and mystery of the place called Auroville where people from 45 countries reside together in a jumble of languages but aspiring to abide by the Mother’s mission.
Akash Kapur is an Indo-American journalist and author. He is the author of a non-fiction book titled India Becoming, which was selected by The New Yorker and The New Republic as a Best Book of 2012; by Newsweek as one of its three Must Reads on Modern India; and by the New York Times Book Review as an “Editors’ Choice.” The book was short listed for the Shakti Bhatt prize, and an episode from the book was also excerpted in The New Yorker magazine.
Thanks to Penguin Random House for the review copy. All opinions expressed are my own and unbiased.
Translators: Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin
Genre: Short Stories
Date Published: August 29, 2006
Goodreads Synopsis: Collection of twenty-four stories that generously expresses Murakami’s mastery of the form. From the surreal to the mundane, these stories exhibit his ability to transform the full range of human experience in ways that are instructive, surprising, and relentlessly entertaining. Here are animated crows, a criminal monkey, and an iceman, as well as the dreams that shape us and the things we might wish for. Whether during a chance reunion in Italy, a romantic exile in Greece, a holiday in Hawaii, or in the grip of everyday life, Murakami’s characters confront grievous loss, or sexuality, or the glow of a firefly, or the impossible distances between those who ought to be closest of all.
My View: Murakami. *Sigh* Here we go. After two books and two short story books, I am beginning to get Murakami. No no, don’t get me wrong. No one can ‘get’ Murakami (not me, at least). I have even come to doubt if Murakami gets Murakami! What I mean is that I have made my peace with him. So while Kafka on the shore had me pulling my hair (read more about that here) and wanting to hunt Murakami down (which I tried to unsuccessfully, on my trip to Japan), Colorless Tsukuru had me heaving a sigh of relief. Men without women had me rooting for Murakami (more on that here) and recommending the book to each and everyone I knew.
What did Blind Willow and Sleeping Woman do? It made me urge all my bibliophile friends to drop whatever they were reading and begin this with me because I wanted to talk! Which is what you want to do when you are reading a Murakami. It feels better to have some company while hitting your head on the wall. And my precious friends did give me company. Not one, not two but four friends decided to give me company. With one story a day each. 2 stories later, one dropped out. 3 stories later, another one dropped out. 4 stories later, the last two dropped out. *Sigh* It was good while it lasted. We had all these different interpretations going on. It was fun!
But I didn’t give up. That has to be something, right? I persisted. And not with a push or force. It was natural, I wanted to. I decided to take it slow and continue reading one story a day. Giving it time to find its way through the mazes of my mind, set its rhythm with my breath, and settle in somewhere deep within the recesses of my heart. Murakami weaves a net and you fall in, struggling in the beginning but the more you struggle, the more you are tangled up and then eventually you give up, you surrender. And it is then that it hits you. How good it feels not to have to struggle. Just to let go. To be. To savor the breeze in your hair, to let the world pass you by. And you’re there, entangled but content.
I have come to realize interpretation isn’t everything (grapes are sour, eh? 😉 ). Sometimes the story and the writing needs to be savored and inhaled not inspected and analyzed. Murakami is one such author. He pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. No matter if you don’t understand what just happened.
You should read it. Don’t fall into the ‘interpretation’ trap though and you’ll be just fine.
Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as ‘easily accessible, yet profoundly complex’. He can be located on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/harukimuraka…
Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.
Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse ‘Peter Cat’ which was a jazz bar in the evening in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife.
Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini’s opera), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells’ song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood(after The Beatles’ song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).
I am doing this yet again!
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team
Participate in all daily challenges.
Introduce yourself #insixwords
Librocubicularist, bookaholic, procrastinator, itinerant, food connoisseur
I read a bit of The Gift of therapy and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore.
I read a bit of The Gift of therapy and listened to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore. Started Reading The Hate u give.
Show Me Your Precious
I read a bit of The Gift of therapy (10 pages), listened to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore (30mins) and started The Hate U Give (95 pages).
I read The Gift of therapy (10 pages), listened to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore (20 mins) and read The Hate U Give (60 pages).
Space Scavenger Hunt
Mercury – Favourite short story/novella – The ones who walk away from Omelas
Venus – Favourite book with female protagonist – Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Earth – Favourite book about nature/nature word in the title – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Mars – Favourite book with a red cover – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Jupiter – Favourite tome over 500 pages – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Neptune – Favourite book set at sea, on a boat, or under water – Salt to the sea by Ruta Septeys
Pluto – Favourite books featuring a dog/with a dog on the cover – Marley and Me
Sun – Favourite book set in summer – The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I finished reading The Gift of therapy. Read a bit of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore and Auroville.
I just read some more of The Hate U Give. This was a busy day, I was working and then attending a film fest.
I am almost through The Hate U Give (read till the very last chapter).
Date Published: May 26, 2011
Source: Owned Paperback
Goodreads Synopsis: The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
My View: I finished reading this book on December 3, 2017. It’s more than 5 months past. There’s a reason I didn’t write a review then. I couldn’t. This book set off so many things in me. There’s a reason I am writing this review today, on this very precise day. Suffice it to say, this book undid me. Not because it was beautiful or because it was disastrous or because it was both. Even without reading this book, for a challenge last year in one of my GR groups, I had to read a book with a title that described my current relationship status and as a joke (or maybe not), I chose this book’s title. At that time, I didn’t realize how close this book would hit the reality. Let me stop being morose and talk about the book instead.
Abby and Maddox. Do I love them? I don’t. Do I hate them? I don’t. Are they crazy? They are. Is their relationship doomed? Maybe. Maybe not. Do I feel for them? I do. I do. I do.
People have loved this book, hated it, slammed it completely. And if I didn’t know better, I would have flung it across the wall too. But I know. I know. And I couldn’t put it down. Not because of the disaster that their relationship was but because I knew what was going to happen. And I waited. In watch, I waited. And it happened. And then it didn’t.
I don’t think I am able to be completely objective about this book. It caught my attention for the first half for a reason and didn’t in the second half, for a reason too. I don’t think being objective is possible. Will I be reading it again? Maybe. Maybe not. Will I be continuing with the series? I won’t.
Should you read it? Maybe. Don’t go looking for reason or sanity. Think of the characters as fools. As people are in love. Or when they know Cupid is going to strike. All reason fails them. They can’t think straight. They follow their heart. That’s all they do.
So should you read it? Do. If you aren’t scared of disastrous relationships. If you like flinging books on the wall. If you like your heart broken over and over again. You get the point.
Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.
Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists in all four categories. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers series, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1. In 2015, books two and three of the Maddox Brothers series, Beautiful Redemption and Beautiful Sacrifice, respectively, also topped the New York Times, as well as a Beautiful series novella, Something Beautiful. In 2016, Beautiful Burn made an appearance on the New York Times and USA Today, and was also named iBooks’ Romance Book of the Year. The same year, A Beautiful Funeral also topped the New York Times bestseller list.
Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: apocalyptic thriller and 2014 UtopYA Best Dystopian Book of the Year, Red Hill; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters, Happenstance: A Novella Series, and Sins of the Innocent.
Jamie is the first indie author in history to strike a print deal with retail giant Wal-Mart. Her self-published novel, Beautiful Redemption hit Wal-Mart shelves in September, 2015.
Jamie lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado with her husband, Jeff, and their three children.
Find Jamie at www.jamiemcguire.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Instagram..
Synopsis: In modern Melbourne, Rosemary is introduced to a horrific truth about her parents, Shabana and Ted – a truth that goes all the way back to Kolkata, 1975. Even before the national crisis of the Emergency, social divisions are widening. Dark times are gathering.
Kolkata is also where Shabana and Ted meet: Shabana is a maid in the foreign office, while Ted is a young diplomat from Melbourne. The two form an unconventional relationship that grows into love under the shadow of Urdu poetry and Western literature.
Against cultural differences, both fight for acceptance – Ted from his manipulative mother, and Shabana from her overbearing father. They find themselves caught in a web of family secrets and betrayal, all to be re-introduced forty years later to Rosemary.
Will Rosemary take revenge?
Or will she disappear into the realm of her happiness?
As an Indian ex-pat and an independent woman in her forties, author Nandita Chakraborty knows a lot about the pressures of a cross-cultural existence. After moving to Melbourne in search of a more modern life in 2000, Nandita had her own cross-cultural love story after she married a much older Anglo man. She experienced firsthand how love could divide and create huge misunderstanding between families. Despite having experienced many disappointments including the breakdown of her marriage Nandita has always been an advocate of love. After her divorce she like so many fell victim to a horrific blackmail encounter via an online dating experience. An occurrence which has become prolific in society today, especially for women. However, it was one of the darkest periods in India’s history known as ‘The Emergency’ which inspired her most recent love story, Rosemary’s Retribution.
Win a paperback copy of Rosemary’s Retribution.
About the Author – Nandita Chakraborty
Nandita Chakraborty was born in Kolkatta, India into a small conservative family that has always been associated with arts. Her father was famous Bengali film producer, Dhiresh Kumar Chakraborty, who won many accolades in the field of Indian Cinema. His film, Aakaler Sandhane, was the first Indian film in a regional language to win the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1980. He also won the President’s gold medal and was an international award winner at the Venice and London Film Festivals. Her sense of creativity started at a young age. Along with her siblings, she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven in the hills of Meghalaya, India. Later, the family settled in New Delhi, where she attended Sri Venkateswara University and studied Political Science by day – and by night she would attend fashion and visual merchandising school.
In her third year in college, she went on to pursue Diploma in Visual Merchandising in Delhi, leaving behind her career in Political Science. She began to work with a well-known designer in India; and found fame and fortune down that path but it still did not leave her creatively satisfied. In 2000, she came to Melbourne, Australia where she started her own fashion boutique with her then husband. It was not until after a difficult divorce when she began searching for something that would define her purpose in life. She found solace in writing again. In 2011, Nandita fell 40 metres during a horrific rock climbing accident which left her with a traumatic brain injury resulting in a cognitive
In 2017, Nandita successfully published her second novella, Meera Rising – which was launched in both Australia and India.
These days Nandita is still living and writing in her adopted hometown of Melbourne and being inspired by love.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Date Published: March 2018
Dying Well is an inspiring love story telling of how a man celebrated life while facing his death with grace and dignity. His widow guides you through decisions made and actions taken on their nine-month journey from diagnosis through celebrations and goodbyes, to a peaceful death free of fear and regret. She shares lessons learned as their family came to terms with her husband’s impending death and found ways to make this last stage of his life as loving and joyous as possible. This uplifting end-of-life story offers a thought-provoking perspective on dying, one that may help you and those you love achieve what’s most important at the end of your lives.
My View: I haven’t been taking on review requests, for the most part, considering my reading is moody and I pick up books from the library and then I buy some to participate in buddy reads. However, when the request for review for this one came in, I immediately said yes. One reason being I am focusing a whole lot on non-fiction this year. And secondly, the book’s synopsis spoke to me both psychologically and as a person. So here I am.
It’s easy to get tangled in Susan’s life without realizing it. She weaves her life into a story, introduces the characters, makes us get a feel for them before venturing on to what happens to these characters. And this is precisely what happened. Reading ‘Dying Well’ is not just about life and death but so much more. About family and relationships and savoring the joyous moments of life.
Susan comes across as courageous, practical, well organized and someone who has her head firmly planted on her shoulders. And through her words, we get to know Bruce, her husband who knew what he wanted and how he wanted it in the face of death when most people would crumble and hang onto every thread of life left.
Reading this book is taking a journey with Susan, a difficult one but it has its moments of celebrations and joys that make us feel proud of their entire family and experience a sense of contentment about how Bruce lived the last few months of his life.
This book is about embarking on a journey with bravery and courage. It’s a lesson in dying and how to do it well; how to really live until the last moment of one’s life when death is staring you in the eyes. This ensures there are no regrets and you have lived your life well.
It’s a must-read for anyone and everyone who has a family member with a terminal illness or is undergoing one, themselves. It gives you a perspective of how until death arrives, every moment of life is to be celebrated and made use of, with friendships fostered and relationships made even richer.
Giveaway – 1 Paperback Copy of Dying Well (US/ CAN)
Susan didn’t set out to be a writer but when life presented her with a compelling story that needed to be told, she rose to the challenge, beginning a new phase of her life. She hopes that what she learned can help the reader, or someone they love, achieve what’s most important to them at the end of their lives.
Susan Ducharme Hoben is a former executive consultant with IBM’s Strategy and Change Consulting practice. She put her mathematics degree from Cornell University and graduate studies at Georgia Institute of Technology to good use in a thirty-five-year career in information technology that began with systems engineering with IBM and ended with consulting. Upon retirement, Sue founded a travel journal about luxury barging in Europe.
Susan lives in Connecticut on ancestral land, and frequently visits her six granddaughters (and their parents) in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Nashville, Tennessee. She celebrates life every day, never turning down an invitation, especially if it involves travel or dancing. Since retirement, in addition to regular sailing trips in the British Virgin Islands and barging trips in France, she seeks to expand her horizons by exploring a new destination each year, whether on safari in Africa, trekking the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, sailing the Gulf of Thailand, or striking a yoga pose on the mountain peak that rises 850 feet above Machu Picchu.
2018 Challenge Updates
Total number of Pages read this year: 8802
2018 ultimate reading challenge
28/ 52 Done
How was your April reading-wise? Leave a link to your wrap-up post and I’ll come visit.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology
Date Published: 1989
The collection of ten absorbing tales by master psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom uncovers the mysteries, frustrations, pathos, and humor at the heart of the therapeutic encounter. In recounting his patients’ dilemmas, Yalom not only gives us a rare and enthralling glimpse into their personal desires and motivations but also tells us his own story as he struggles to reconcile his all-too human responses with his sensibility as a psychiatrist. Not since Freud has an author done so much to clarify what goes on between a psychotherapist and a patient.
My View: I have been wanting to read Yalom since forever so when I was looking at what to start my Psychology Series with, I came upon this in my library and rest, as they say, is history.
From the very first page, Yalom intrigues you, leaving you wanting to know more about his style of therapy and the cases he has decided to discuss. Each and every case study he presents is starkly different from the other. His approach also seems different from one to another, citing how he personalizes the treatment to each client. There is a lot to be learned from each case study and my number of highlights in the book are tantamount to the fact.
I loved to know Yalom’s side of the client perception, especially because he was so frank about what he felt even when he was ‘judging’ the client and it was so refreshing to find a therapist who has no qualms in acknowledging what he was feeling irrespective of what feeling that is. It assured me as a therapist and brought back to me the realization of the therapist being a mere human too.
I took away so many lessons from this book. Written in the easy, quick read style, Yalom manages to instill techniques and therapeutic skills within each case study and you leave richer than when you began reading them. It’s a hard-to-put-down book, even better than any thriller and a perfect beginning to my psychology series. I am definitely going to go back to Yalom for more. And you should too if you are interested in therapy.
Here’s what arrived in my February Big Book Box (arrived March end).
Here’s a vlog to show you all the goodies. 😀