Wednesday, December 11, 2019

#PratsReads - Top Ten Tuesday : Favorite Quotes from books read in 2019

Top Ten Tuesday used to be a weekly post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. Luckily for me, this week's topic is a freebie so one can chose any topic to make a list of. This is my first time doing the tag and I have decided to pick my favorite quotes from the books I have read this year.

“...each one's different. They have similar elements, though. All stories do, no matter what form they take. Something was, and then something changed. Change is what story is, after all.” ― Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

“I asked once, and the library assistant told me there were more than a hundred thousand books there, and more than sixty million pages of documents. It's a good number, I think: ten pages for every person who died. A kind of monument in paper for people who have no gravestones.” ― Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book

“I deserve it all because I’m willing to give it all. I would have worked through the darkness with you, Rule. What I won’t do is watch you walk away from me every time something happens that has the potential to hurt you” ― Jay Crownover, Rule

“Of course you could do more - you can always do more, and you should do more - but still, the important things is to do what you can, whenever you can. You just do your best, and that's all you can do. Too many people use the excuse that they don't think they can do enough, so they decide they don't have to to do anything. There's never a good excuse for not doing anything.” ― Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

“I read somewhere," said Kate, "that people are made of stardust." 

 He dragged his eyes from the sky. "Really?" 
 "Maybe that's what you're made of. Just like us." 
 And despite everything. August smiled.” ― Victoria Schwab, This Savage Song

“That's how it works: someone important believes in us, loudly and with conviction and against all substantiation, and over time, we begin to believe, too - not in our shot at perfection, mind you, but in the good enough version of us that they have reflected.” ― Kelly Corrigan, Tell Me More: Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say 

“A small shift in the gravity between us and suddenly all my stars are out of alignment, planets knocked from their orbits, and I'm left stumbling, without map or heading, through the bewildering territory of being in love with your best friend.” ― Mackenzi Lee, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue 

Because by the time you finally see each other, you're catching up only on the big things, because it's too much bother to tell about the little things. But the little things are what make up life.” ― Jenny Han, To All the Boys I've Loved Before 

“You could find beauty nearly anywhere if you stopped to look for it, but the battle to get through the days made it easy to forget that this totally cost-free luxury existed.” ― Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil 

“After all, everything in here is just pieces of paper with words and lines on them. They're not even very valuable. Pieces of paper with words and lines on them have the ability to change the world...They always have.” ― Elizabeth Camden, Beyond All Dreams

Monday, December 9, 2019

Regional: Nizhalukal by Priya Vijayan

                   Nizhalukal is the debut work of Priya Vijayan. The book is about the journey of Meera, who is wrongly convicted for a crime which she hasn't committed. Joining her in her truth finding mission is the private investigator, Abhimanyu.The story which opens with Meera's life in prison, soon changes track and gets into a full blown investigation mode.
                  The main issue which I have with this book is it's amateurish feel.The characters are grossly under developed and the book largely reads like a rough first draft.The 'Who', 'Why' and 'What' were largely unconvincing.There are also abundant loop holes in the narrative and the Agatha Christie- esque climax didn't actually work for me.

On the whole,I 'm going with a 2.5 out of 5 for this work.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Regional: Dubai Days by Sajeev Edathadan

                           Sajeev Edathadan’s ‘Sampoorna Kodakarapuranam’ was a book which I enjoyed a lot. So, I picked up his follow up work, ‘Dubai Days’ with quite high expectations. But to be very frank, ‘Dubai Days’ left me with mixed feelings.
                           Like his previous work, in ‘Dubai Days’ also Vishalamanaskan uses his trade mark humour to take the narrative forward. Edathadan is also brutally honest and doesn’t have any qualms in reminiscing about his noble up bringing. But the basic issue with this book is that many of the ‘stories’( incidents) included in this compilation don’t have enough meat in them to have any re-call value. The pick of the lot is undoubtedly the one in which Vishalamanaskan talks about his mother and how she ensured her children a successful future overcoming all the hardships. 

On the whole, ‘Dubai Days’ is a time pass read. I’m giving it a 2.75 out of 5

PS- I hope Edathadan will let go his fetish with ‘However’ atleast by the next book.


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Regional: G.R. Indugopan's 'Beeja Bankile Penkutty'

'Beeja Bankile Penkutty' is the collection of two Novellas by G.R. Indugopan. The first one ,'Paasham' tries to explore the after effects of a 'mischief' done in the prime of youth and also goes on to delve into themes like fighting one's own 'inner demons', while the second story, 'Beeja Bankile Penkutty' is about the unusual relationship between a meritorious student and a girl who works in a Sperm Bank.

Like Indugopan's previous works, 'Paasham' explores the lives of people who live in the lower strata of the society and has almost the same tone as the stories featured in 'Padinjare Kaalam Chorakakkalam','Ammini Pillai Veettu Case' and so on.I think, by now, the author has become a master of this sub-genre.The characters are raw, rustic and are mostly believable.'Beeja Bankile...' has more of an urban setting and is also a largely enjoyable tale, but one gets the feeling that the theme could have been explored further.

On the whole, this compilation is worth your time.I'm giving it a 3.5 out of 5.


Friday, December 6, 2019

#PratsReads - Bookish Naughty Or Nice Tag

I recently re-discovered bookish tags on blogs ( though some lovely book bloggers I follow on twitter). While I was wondering which one to do, I got tagged by Leah to do this one, which originally was started by Jenn.

The rules -

Rules Tag & link the person who tagged you
Tag and link back to the original post by Jenn
Tick/cross off the ones you’ve done
Tag 10 people to join in!

Even if you weren't tagged by anyone, just join in!

1. Received an ARC and not reviewed it ✔

Yes, My NetGalley dashboard is clear evidence of this. Never done this with books that come from the author/publisher directly though.

2. Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetGalley ✔

 I have never able to cross even 50% *hides behind the book pile*

3. Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did) 

 I *never* make such promises knowing that I may or may not write a blog post about the book.

4. Folded down the page of a book

Nopes. One thing I never do to books.

5. Accidentally spilled on a book 

 Never.  Don't attempt to eat or drink absentmindedly if I am reading. 

6. DNF a book this year ✔

I consider them to be postponed perhaps. But you never know ;)

7. Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it 

 No. I don't pick ugly covers but I won't buy only for pretty ones either.

8. Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) ✔

I have read while I am meant to do everything else - Work, chores, eat, sleep, meet friends or even pamper my husband .. you get the drift :D

9. Skim read a book ✔

Mostly romance/erotica. I skip the sex scenes after the first one. 

10. Completely missed your Goodreads goal ✔

 Only once. In 2012 [Dont know how that happened ] 

11. Borrowed a book and not returned it to the library 

 No. won't happen. 

12. Broke a book buying ban ✔

What ban? *looks at the 3 books I bought today* 

13. Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about ✔

 Yeah. That's why I do not promise to review every book I read. 

14. Wrote in a book you were reading ✔

I do not mind writing in books. I sometimes leave notes for the person in books I gift or ask people to do the same for me. 

15. Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads 

Never happened since I started using Goodreads.

16. Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend

No. I borrow rarely and often it becomes a gift :D

17. Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book 

No. I would be happy if someone borrows a book I own and reads it. More the merrier.

18. Broke the spine of someone else’s book

 Not a chance. 

19. Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged 

No way!

20. Sat on a book accidentally ✔

 When you are surrounded by books, that can happen. Right?

Final Score: 9 /20
Did I just dodge being on the naughty list! phew!
Where's my reward?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

#PratsReads : WWW Wednesday - Book I read

This meme/tag is currently hosted by Taking on a world of words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Here are my quick answers - 

What are you currently reading?
I am currently listening to the audiobook - The starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Considering how amazing this book is ( even at 15%), I should be done by next week. 

What did you recently finish reading?
I finished A Violet Fire by Kelsey Quick last night (Linked to my review post). It gave me the kind of high a good story and cast gives you, and a little heartache as I realized very late that the book is a part of a series and the first part is releasing on Dec 9th. 

What do you think you’ll read next? 

I have not picked a new book to read today as I wasn't out of the previous story & Starless Sea is hypnotic too. This month , I have decided to spend most of my reading hours on the books on Kindle Unlimited, published by some of the indie authors I know through the writing community on twitter. I have about 4-5 books downloaded so I will be picking one of them along the audiobook as I read / listen to multiple books at a time.

Got any feedback on these books or a suggestion for me ? Do comment :)   

#BookReview: A Violet Fire [Vampires of Avignon#1 ]by Kelsey Quick

A Violet Fire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across A Violet Fire through a review post on Leah's blog. Luckily the book was still available on NetGalley for requesting an ARC and I picked it immediately.

In the Vampire Stratocracy of Cain, human blood is scarce. For centuries, councils have sought to assuage the blood shortage by enslaving and breeding humans, turning them into profitable supply units for the rich and the abled.

Today, eighteen-year-old Wavorly Sterling is officially a supply unit, bound to serve her blood willingly to her master for the rest of her life. One of only few humans that was not bred in Cain, Wavorly knows freedom better than anyone, and she is determined to escape the clutches of her oppressors, even if by the hands of death.

But surprises lay beyond every certainty, and within every doubt. Where Wavorly's hatred for both vampires and her enslavement once flowed free as blood, it merely trickles as she grows to admire her reserved, yet receptive master and savior, Anton Zein.

Set in a richly detailed world of fantasy, A Violet Fire is a gripping journey filled with passion, betrayal, lies, and the encouragement we all need to take a stand for our freedom--no matter the cost.

I had started to believe I was over the vampire tales when I finished the House of Night series in 2011 [ damn! that's ancient history it seems ] but then I read AFV. And I read like there is no tomorrow
Two nights of sleeping (very) late and I finished it within 60ish hours. This is not a typical vampire movie with clear wars and petty drama. This is a well-established world of Vampire as the ruling class with their own rules and needs and how humans are enslaved for their cause. 

The book starts with Wavorly's attempt to escape her destiny and failing that, we see her anger and her tendency to speak her mind without caring for the consequences - including her own death. Though this does not change much, it is the very reason that adds such freshness to the plot and the dialogues as the story moves. Though I do not have much love for Wavorly for her exhausting dilemma and struggle, there was something about the story that kept me engrossed and by the end, I was totally invested to know the future of Wavorly and Lord Zein.  

Lord Zein - without being over the top cheesy or brooding, there was enough to like his character and at times take his side too. The other casts were also well developed and used efficiently in the world-building and to move the story at a good pace in the direction it had to. I loved the story and writing so much that when I realized that there is a sequel to the book, I was kind of sad closing the book at a cliffhanger! SO. NOT.DONE !

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

#PratsReads Reading Wrap up : November 2019

So, I am once again trying to do a wrap up of my reading adventures on a monthly basis. This will cover all books that I have not reviewed in detail ( and might never do ) or ones I re-read and I have any new thoughts on the same. So here is the list for Nov 2019 [ Review posts from the blog linked ] - 

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - Historical fiction | 5 star | Story of a Jew Prayer manuscript passed and saved from destruction over centuries.

You beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas - Indian thriller | 4 star | story of an investigation into a series of murders in Delhi involving a psychologist and a police officer and their families. 

The treasure syndicate by Jatin - Indian mythological thriller | 4 star | A group of five men seeking a treasure buried centuries ago for using it for the benefit of society. 

The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer - Thriller | 4 star | Detective Natalie Ward series (book#5 ) | A case from the past gets linked to the present and it complicates a lot of things for Natalie. 

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya - Indian historical thriller | 4 star | A couple in present times searching the truth about a couple in the past , bound by a stone figurine. 

Mixture is the new secret by Anusha Sridharan - 5 star | a small Poetry collection coupled with some lovely pictures. 

Marked Men series [books 2-6 ] by Jay Crownover - Adult romance | 3.5-4 stars for various books | Stories of a group of tattoo artists & friends and their search for love and meaning in their life. 

Apart from reading these lovey books,  I finished writing and published two kindle books of my own - The Muse ( a short fiction ) and Mosaic ( poetry collection ) [ Linked to amazon page of the books ]

Monday, December 2, 2019

#BookReview: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In March, before I got my library card made, I could only read in the library so I picked some very short books to finish in 1-2 hours. It started with The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. This made me explore more books that are about book or reading and I came across "People of the book" multiple times but I never picked it.

A few months later, this book was mentioned and discussed again in the book "End of Life Book Club" and this time I decided that there were enough signs now for me to read it. Luckily I found the audiobook easily and over the last whole month, I finished the book.

People of the Book is the story of Haggadah (Jewish prayer book used during the festival of Passover) which celebrates the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. In particular, this book is about Sarajevo Haggadah which is an illustrated text of the Passover Haggadah. It is a fictionalized version of various "people" and places this manuscript traveled in its life till it finally resurfaces and is put up for display in a museum in Bosnia in 2002.

The book starts with the discovery and analysis of the manuscript for conservation. The different stuff captured during this take us down the history of the manuscript and how these things - a bloodstain, hair, wing of a butterfly, etc become a part of the book. The book alternates between the present as seen through the eyes of conservator Hanna Heath and the past as narrated by the person associated with the manuscript. With each passing month in the search of the truth in the present, we go more and more deeper into the story of the manuscript and the people responsible for creating and preserving the same.

When I began reading this, I had a doubt that my ignorance on the history of the place and the religion might be a hindrance in enjoying the book but it was actually a nudge for me to read about the manuscript and the history of the conflicts later in a more factual account. The fictional version piqued my interest and made me connect to the journey of the manuscript through centuries. Along with the book's story , the reader learns the art of creating such manuscripts , of preservation and the importance of these in telling the stories of older generations.

The book also has amazing characters who give this story a distinct turn and mood in different chapters. The structuring of the story works like a mystery book and keeps the reader engaged.

This is one of the best reads for me in this year and I loved reading about this book and the ways books have carried voices of hope and learning for all, across the years and religions and places.

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Woman In the Window by A.J.Finn

                I am not sure whether I can really call this post as a review. Infact, I don't intend this to be read as one either. A lot has already been written about this book and it has already become some sort of a global best seller by now. Frankly speaking, more than the merit of this work, it has become what it is now as a result of smart marketing and aggressive media push.
               The book falls in the same zone of 'The Woman In Cabin Number 10';(Ruth Ware)  'The Girl on the Train'(Paula Hawkins) and 'Her Every Fear' (Peter Swanson).Anna Fox suffers from agarophobia and she lives alone in an apartment somewhere in Newyork. She has just parted with her family and spends her time drinking too much of alcohol and binge watching on old English Films. Her only connection with the external world are the website/on-line community where fellow people with agarophobia share their experiences and the window in her room which overlooks to the next apartment.One Night, she sees something bizarre through her window and the shocking secrets which follow take the story forward.
                 Now, I will come to the issues which I have with this book. It took it's own sweet time to establish the characters(there aren't many either!) and the principal character Anna turns out to be a really annoying and irritating female.The suspense about her family was easily predictable and for the first 200 pages or so, nothing really happens(except for whatever already revealed in the book blurb) and our heroine simply wastes (our) time trying to remind us of all those classic films(which she loves), chatting in that online community of her's and making us convince how 'twisted' her mind has become.The book picks up pace only towards the final forty pages or so, thanks to the 'un-expected' villain(thankfully, I never saw that 'twist' coming!)

On the whole, this one is a really over-hyped thriller. It's an okay work at best. Nothing less, Nothing more! 


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

#BookReview : The Treasure Syndicate by Jatin Kuberkar

When Kaliyug resolved to enter Aryavatra, and encountered the lats Pandav, king a curse gave the world it's first 'Nidhi-Palak' or The Guardian of treasure Troves in the form of Lord Kuber's mortal son, Suta. In time, the Guardian bloodline scattered all over the world. Acharya Agnihotri is an astrologer. He searches for hidden treasures, to fulfill his destiny as a 'Nidhi-Palak'. Dr. Mahesh secretly finances missions for Acharya. Kumar is favored by unfathomable luck.. Jabbar is a legendary digger, and Srikanth is just a common man. United, they form the Treasure Syndicate, always a team of five; a motley mix with an uncanny balance. Bound by the elaborate framework of coincidence, destiny, and fate, the mission of the syndicate is not a cakewalk. The danger is real, and the conditions are never favorable. A hunting past awaits Acharya's team, as the Kaliyug threatens to turn the mission upside down.

Every time I read thrillers that tie the present to the past, the science to mythology and stories from India's culturally rich heritage transcending centuries, I feel a different sense of pleasure and pride. This book gave me the same in abundance. The story hooks you from page one and made me wish I had a weekend to myself to read this much sooner than I did. It is narrated in a way that all stories and the layers of the mysterious Treasure Syndicate are revealed in a very timely manner to the reader and there is never a dull moment in the book. A treasure hunt is worth the thrill, joy & sense of satisfaction it brings to the person reading about it and this hunt had it all.

The story not only narrates the fears and doubts of every person who is bound to the treasure but also presents so many chances for the reader to observe and not to judge any situation or person blindly. there are so many social messages woven into the story in a subtle way that gives the story a very happy vibe. For some readers, it might not be an exact science, but all the methods and steps followed by the syndicate for finding the treasure and handling it were explained in a scientific way. The book clearly shows the research done by the author on the ways of the treasure syndicate and to present it to the reader so brilliantly with no loose ends. There is a lot of symbolism used in the book which enhances the depth of the plot. 

Though I felt the end reveal was a little rushed and the plot twist was not necessary, this is still one of the best Indian fiction I read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My rating: 4/5 

Book Links: Goodreads * Amazon

About the Author: For the mortal world, I pretend to be a Software Engineer who works hard (or hardly?) in the hours of a day. I am the guy next door, a hardcore Harry Potter fan and a movie buff. I literally ‘live’ every movie, I have strong opinions about its content and I hate it when a movie based on an interesting concept is messed up for the sake of commercial value.
But beyond the boundaries of this ‘cholesterol-rich’ coil, I am a rider of rapturous thoughts. I am a thinker, a philosopher, a seeker, a story-teller, a writer, a wanderer and every other thing that a thought can be. At times some of these figments fire out of my thoughtful bowl and command me to write, muse, create, recreate, destroy…EXPRESS!

Who am I?  I have been asking this question to myself for 33 years, and I got a different answer always. Sometimes I get confused and think, am I asking the right question to seek the correct answer? or maybe that am I missing the whole fantastic universal drama around me while I am busy finding an answer to an irrelevant question? Does the answer even matter?

Contact the Author:

#PratsReads - Top Ten Tuesday : Favorite Quotes from books read in 2019

Top Ten Tuesday used to be a weekly post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish , but was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl . Luckily for me, ...