Posted in 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.

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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.

Posted in 4 stars, Book reviews

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

35996816.jpgGenre: Non-Fiction

Date Published: March 2005

Source: Online Library – Audiobook

Goodreads Synopsis: The second child of a scholarly, alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family’s nomadic upbringing from the Arizona desert, to Las Vegas, to an Appalachian mining town, during which her siblings and she fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.

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My View: This book tore out my heart and stamped on it, again and again until I couldn’t breathe anymore. Oh, the feels. And to know that this was someone’s reality, the way they were born and brought up and lived. It’s just too much.

I couldn’t help but draw a comparison with Angela’s Ashes even though they are starkly different from each other. But the pain sometimes has no identity. It meshes from one into another and goes on until you emerge out of it stronger than you would have ever been.

It’s hard to believe Walls is where she is and with every single word of the book, I commend how far she has come. The author being the narrator was the best thing ever because she knows the inflections, the pauses, the pain. This is her story and no one could have read it better than her.

This book is devastating. It would melt your heart. It would wrench at your insides. It would make your stomach cramp but you would want to keep listening, waiting for it to get better. Does it? Get better? Read and find out for yourself.

Every once in a while comes a book that makes every book before it, disappear into the oblivion. This is one such book. Pick it up. Get into Walls’ world, see it from the inside.

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

Author Bio:

Jeannette Walls is a writer and journalist.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, she graduated with honors from Barnard College, the women’s college affiliated with Columbia University. She published a bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, in 2005. The book was adapted into a film and released to theaters in August, 2017.


Posted in 3 stars, Book reviews

How I Became a Farmer’s Wife by Yashodhara Lal

39704956.jpgGenre: Fiction/ Non-Fiction

Date Published: April 19, 2018

Pages: 328

Source: Harper Collins India Review Copy

Goodreads Synopsis: Mild-mannered Vijay is the perfect good Indian husband – responsible and predictable. Well, at least he was, until he decided to turn Farmer! Vijay’s unsuspecting wife Yashodhara is caught off guard when, tired of the rigours of city life, he actually rents land and starts dairy farming! As if Yash didn’t have enough going on already, what with her high-octane job, three children and multiple careers. As Vijay dives deeper into his quirky hobby, the family is plucked out of their comfortable life in the steel-and-chrome high-rises of Gurgaon, and thrown headfirst into a startlingly unfamiliar world – complete with cows and crops, multiple dogs and eccentric farmhands, a shrewd landlady and the occasional rogue snake. Will these earnest but insulated city-dwellers be able to battle the various difficulties that come with living a farmer’s life? A laugh-out-loud romp that’ll leave you wanting more!

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My View: For someone who thinks forever before picking up a book by an Indian author, it took me seconds to decide I wanted my hands on this one. The premise, by itself, was so interesting. And I am glad to point out the book did not disappoint. For a person who loves anything to do with gardens and plants, this was a delight!

I had no idea how hard it was to be a farmer but well, Yashodhara has unraveled it all in this very funny, quick read. The hilarious dialogues and witty comments make this an enjoyable read.

The book draws a parallel between three generations, their actions, and reactions, all of which create a funny scene and you find yourself nodding your head to how it relates to the people around you.

The book never gets boring and you find yourself turning page after page and miss it all when the book finishes.

If you are a wannabe farmer or are trying to discourage someone from stepping into farming, this just might be the book you are looking for. 😉

3/5 stars – I liked it.
3 stars

Author Bio:

Yashodhara Lal’s USP is in taking the ordinary and making it hilarious. She graduated from IIM-Bangalore in 2002 and has over 12 years of experience in the Marketing Domain across two large corporations in FMCG and media. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband Vijay, and the three small children they call Peanut, Pickle and Papad – all of whom never fail to provide her with material for her entertaining blog at

‘Just Married, Please Excuse’ is her first book. ‘Sorting Out Sid’ is her latest work of fiction.

Thank you, Harper Collins India for the review copy. All views expressed are my own and unbiased.


Posted in 3 stars, Book reviews

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

13526165.jpgGenre: Fiction

Date Published: August 14, 2012

Pages: 330

Source: Online Library – Audiobook

Goodreads Synopsis:

A compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

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My View: I kept hearing about how funny this book was. It was years before I finally picked it up. Was it as humorous as everyone thought it to be? Not for me. The main character, Bernadette is insane. Insanely funny? Not really.

I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy this book. But going by the recommendations, not as much as I should have.

I did like the characters for their eccentricity and the plot for its uniqueness. However, as the story advanced, it started losing my attention and I just wanted to get it over with. I would say the first half is interesting while the latter is so-so.

It’s okay for a one time read. It takes more to make me laugh so perhaps I am an anomaly. You may give it a try and see if it tingles your funny bone.

3/5 stars – I liked it.
3 stars

Author Bio:

Maria Semple’s first novel, This One is Mine, was set in Los Angeles, where she also wrote for television shows including Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. She escaped from Los Angeles and lives with her family in Seattle, where her second novel takes place.

Posted in 3 stars, Book reviews

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

34530151.jpgGenre: Young Adult

Date Published: February 28, 2017

Pages: 438

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. 

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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!

3/5 stars – I liked it.
3 stars

Author Bio:

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.

Posted in 3 stars, Book reviews

Auroville: Dream and Reality: An Anthology by Akash Kapur

39286244.jpgGenre: Non-Fiction

Date Published: January 17, 2018

Pages: 256

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.

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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.

3/5 stars – I liked it
3 stars

Author Bio: 

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.

Posted in 4 stars, Book reviews

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

9833 (1).jpg
Translators: Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin

Genre: Short Stories

Date Published: August 29, 2006

Pages: 333

Source: Library

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.

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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.

Life happened.

You should read it. Don’t fall into the ‘interpretation’ trap though and you’ll be just fine.

4/5 stars – I really liked it4 stars

Author Bio:


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:…

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 ChronicleThe 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).


Posted in 3 stars, Book reviews

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

11505797Genre: Romance

Date Published: May 26, 2011

Pages: 319

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.

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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.

3/5 stars – I liked it
3 stars

Author Bio:


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 or on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Instagram..

Posted in 4 stars, Book reviews, Giveaway

Giveaway (US/ CAN): Dying Well by Susan Ducharme Hoben

39014241Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Date Published: March 2018

Pages: 249

Source: Publisher

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

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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.

4/5 stars – I really liked it.

4 stars


Giveaway – 1 Paperback Copy of Dying Well (US/ CAN)

Enter the Giveaway here.

Author Bio:

Author Photo color 2 High Res_03080613

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.

Posted in 4.5 stars, Book reviews, Psychology

Psychology Series #1: Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

My Post.jpgI am starting Psychology series on Reviewing Shelf and would be reviewing Psychology related books in this section.

Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology21027.jpg

Date Published: 1989

Pages: 304

Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

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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.

4.5/5 stars: Somewhere between ‘I really liked it’ and ‘I loved it’.

Author Bio:

909675Irvin David Yalom, M.D., is an author of fiction and nonfiction, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University, an existentialist, and accomplished psychotherapist.
Posted in 4 stars, Book reviews, children's

I need to pee by Neha Singh, Meenal Singh, Erik Egerup


Neha Singh (Story)Meenal Singh (Illustrator)Erik Egerup (Illustrator)

Genre: Children

Date Published: 2018

Pages: 32

Source: Penguin Random House India

Goodreads Synopsis: Rahi simply loves slurping refreshing drinks, and so she always needs to pee. But boy, does she hate public loos! On her way to her aunt’s in Meghalaya, she has to pee on a train as well as stop at a hotel and even the really scary public toilet at the bus depot! And when those around her refuse to help her with her troubles, her only saviour is her Book of Important Quotes. Travel with Rahi and read all about her yucky, icky, sticky adventures in this quirky and vibrant book about the ever-relevant worry of finding safe and clean public restrooms.

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My View: Such an innovative book, this, I just had to read it! What? Don’t judge me! I am a kid at heart, you know. And I am sure looking at those brilliant illustrations, anyone would scream with delight. I might have, just a little bit. And so did my three year old niece, with her eyes round and curious and gleaming when she took the book from me.

I am glad someone has written a book on this very important topic. What? Stop laughing! I am serious here. Humph. It’s such a good book to educate children on the laws regarding emptying their bladders in a restaurant or hotel without having to pay or buy something. I love Rahi’s book of important quotes, such a testament to children’s innocence.

I really enjoyed reading this book and so did my niece who learned a lesson or two from it. The beautifully etched illustrations are a delight to behold. I know my niece would be after my life to read and re-read it to her until she has got it backwards (the process has already begun). Get your hands on this, all you parents and uncles and doting aunts. Your kid is going to love it! (And you will too. Shhh.)

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

Thank you Penguin Random House India for the review copy. All opinions are my own and unbiased.

Posted in 3.5 stars, Book reviews

Still Me (Me Before You #3) by Jojo Moyes

36598421.jpgGenre: Fiction

Date Published: January 23, 2018

Pages: 480

Source: Penguin Random House Review Copy

Goodreads Synopsis: Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.

Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything. 

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My View: I am glad I don’t read the first book in the series the moment it is out. It gives me the privilege to read the series back to back. I think that’s helpful as I have a terrible memory and I need to read the next book right away. This was one of those series that I read back to back. And boy, am I glad?

After reading not so good reviews of ‘After You’, I still decided to listen to it as an audiobook and happened to love it. So when I saw ‘Still Me’ was up for review, I snagged it right away from Penguin Random House.

And that was when I decided to sacrifice my four night’s sleep. Not like four full nights but a couple hours every night for four consecutive days. Although I didn’t regret that behavior when I kept telling myself, just half an hour more, just an hour more. But did I regret it when I had to wake up for work in the morning? Ah, yes! But did I repeat the same thing for three more days? I sure did. Call it crazy, call it insane. But I had to know what was going to happen to Lou. She no longer was a mere character. I had got to know her intimately for so long. I couldn’t just let it unroll slowly. That would have been painful. So for four nights, every couple of hours, I was in Lou’s world, getting better acquainted, crying with her, smiling with her and just being there. Moyes captivated me with Lou and her family. Oh, I do love her family. And Lou. She’s just one of a kind. I wonder if someone like her exists. I think I would want her as a friend. She’s that kind of a girl.

Yes, the plot goes from A to Z, there are way too many twists and turns. Some I like, others I just go along with to see how things will fare for Lou. But hardly at any point was I tempted to keep the book down or take a break. Nah. Joyes had my attention with every word. I just couldn’t look away except when the clock struck 1am and I had to, without wanting to, shut it down and get some winks.

There are new characters in this book, several of whom I love and some I hate. Each of them holds their own and are adequately etched for the reader to feel like we know them personally. Lou’s family, ah. I do love them, I really do. And Lily. Lily is amazing even though she has a very minor part to play in this book. Her actions made me laugh. 😀

I think Moyes is done with the series. To be honest, I am a little sad. I was mesmerized with Lou and her life. And after reading the three books, one after the other, there’s a gaping hole in me which wants more of Lou. I know many readers are quite done with her. But I liked knowing Lou and her character has developed by leaps and bounds with each book. That sure is something to enjoy.

I think you should get this one if you are following the series. It won’t disappoint you.

3.5/5 stars – Somewhere between ‘I liked it’ and ‘I really liked it’. 

Author Bio:

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full-time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

Thank you, Penguin Random House for the review copy. All views expressed are my own and unbiased.