Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking – Thoughts

So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.

Written by Stephen Hawking in his book: Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Those are the last words from the book and they are so powerful, don’t you think? This is Stephen Hawking’s last book and released posthumously. It draws from his personal archive and was completed in collaboration with his friends, family and academic colleagues.

You would already know, that I usually lean towards fiction and heavily towards fantasy, feminist and romance genres. But once in every two or three months, I do pick up a non-fiction, based on the description of the book. The author could be anyone, and the content could be anything from a wide variety of subjects. However, what I look for in a non-fiction book when I buy it is – Does the blurb pique my interest? Does it inspire me? Does it talk about some of my own questions and thoughts about life?

I haven’t read any other of Stephen Hawking’s books, so I have no point of comparison. But I had chanced upon this book at the airport once and was instantly hooked to the array of questions that he thinks and addresses in the book. Questions like, “Does God exist?” “What about aliens?” “What is the future of human race?”, “What’s inside a Black Hole?”

I have to admit that for the controversial questions – like the one about God and afterlife, we don’t exactly get a clear answer, and that’s fine anyway. But we get to understand some of his arguments. However, I really enjoyed reading his answers on some of the other subjects like, time travel, space travel, understanding black holes, the future of human beings the role of AI in our lives and so on.

His writing, at least in this book, is crisp and easy to understand. There aren’t a lot of technical and complicated jargons and formulae and I felt that this book is really one for the masses. For people and kids who are just curious about everything and want to know what one of the greatest scientists of our generation has to say about them.

I would recommend this book even if you’re not into science or non fiction or Stephen Hawking, just because of the fact that these questions can make for really interesting discussion points ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, is it strange that I just read the book and NASA and Space X announced sending humans to space for the first time since 2011? I for one, am really excited and wishing it to be a successful launch, whenever they do launch! ๐Ÿ™‚

Questions to you guys:

Do you read a mix of books like fiction and non-fiction?

What is a non-fiction you recently read and would highly recommend?

Deviant characters in Books & Movies – Why are we attracted to rebels?

I’ve been obsessed with the Chinese show on Netflix and the book its based on – The Untamed / Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, lately. The story has two lead characters – Wei Wuxian, who is the nonconformist and Lan Wangji, who is his opposite, a stickler for following rules and doing the absolute right thing. And that got me thinking, what is it that draws me and many others to literature or movies which have gray characters?

I started to think back upon my years of reading and watching TV/movies to find out which characters left a lasting impression on me, and I saw this pattern, that I was drawn to rebellious characters. As a society, we have all these rules of propriety and culturally acceptable behavior that we strive hard to follow. But then, why are most of us drawn to the rebels?

Warning: This might be longer than my usual posts, but I’ll love it if you read till the end ๐Ÿ˜€

Here are a few of my favorite characters and why I love them, to drive my point across a little:

Anne from Anne of Green Gables: Anne had stolen my heart from the first time I read about her. But did you notice, that at the period the story was set, Anne’s ways were quite unacceptable. She was loud, argumentative, boisterous, had too many opinions. But she had a heart of gold and she never judged anyone and was always ready to help, no matter what. And slowly, she endears herself to everyone in the village.

Fox Mulder from the TV series X-Files: David Duchovny playing Fox Mulder in X-Files was probably one of my first celebrity crushes. X-Files was one of my favorite show growing up. I just loved the slightly eccentric, untidy, rule flouting Fox Mulder, who wanted to find out the truth, no matter what it took. He never got promoted, wasn’t involved in any sort of FBI politics or power game and didn’t even care that people made fun of him. His passion was addictive.

Sherlock (from both the books and the latest TV series) – I loved Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the genius and utterly disliked detective, Sherlock. Sherlock doesn’t have time for petty discussions or even small talk. He is really rude. Everyone hates him. But everyone goes to him to solve a case since he just cant resist a puzzle. You’ll notice that he will go to any lengths to save the people he cares about, even if he doesn’t let it on.

Tea of the Embers from The Bone Witch Trilogy: I still have the final book to finish, but I cant argue the allure Tea has, being the youngest and yet the darkest bone witch with immense power. Her ideas of defeating the faceless are very nonconformist too and she doesn’t hesitate to voice her opinions and become unpopular in the process. But one thing we know is, she is fighting for the same cause and will unearth the truth.

Delilah Bard from Shades of Magic Trilogy: Delilah Bard is a cut throat thief. She doesn’t have time or patience to be pretty, friendly or nice. What she lacks in etiquette, she makes up with her sharp mind and skills. But once she’s got your back, she will protect you even if it costs her everything. Courage is something she has plenty of.

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows Duology: If he weren’t the lead character of the books, he could’ve almost easily passed on as a villain. Absolutely ruthless, money minded, cunning, and again, with no patience for playing by the rules. He makes his own rules. But one thing he protects even more than his sinister reputation, is his band of misfit friends.

And finally, the character who inspired this whole post, Wei Wuxian, Yiling Patriarch from the book Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation and TV series The Untamed: I haven’t finished the TV series or the book yet, but I’ll get there very soon. However, I’m in love with the characters already. Wei Wuxian has terrible manners and has complete disrespect for all kinds of rules. But his heart is in the right place and he never leaves his friends behind.

There are many more maverick characters like the ones mentioned above, that I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention, but what got me thinking next was, what sets these characters apart from similar geniuses like – Moriarty, Voldemort, The Darkling, and the Joker? If you see, most of them do have very similar personalities and I know at one point this year, I have rooted for both the Joker and The Darkling. So why are they the villains?

The answer according to me, lies in the very popular Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang and finding your balance. All of my maverick and rebellious characters were saved from over stepping and crossing over completely to the dark side by their Yang counterparts.

The soft spoke Jacqueline Van Maarsen for Anne

The straight thinking, rule following Dana Scully for Mulder

The kind and caring Watson for Sherlock

Righteous Kalen for Tea

Focused, loyal and dependable Kell for Delilah

And kind, quiet, morally upright, brilliant Lan Wangji for Wei Wuxian

That’s where Joker, Voldemort and The Darkling lost out, I think. They couldn’t find or keep their light-partners to save them from falling over. If I may get a bit more philosophical at this stage, sometimes I feel that we’ve all got this yin and yang within us, and finding the balance is usually the hardest part. Even now, I battle between my own selfish instincts and desires to remind myself that there are some lines that should not be crossed, no matter what the intent.

Questions to you guys:

If you’ve managed to reach the end of this super long post, a huge thanks a virtual hug first of all! ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you enjoyed my post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Who are some of your favorite gray characters?

Do you enjoy reading books or watching movies/shows with gray characters?

A story on a secret

May 15th – Mid way to the month of May and I’m glad to say that I’ve been writing a short story daily so far, and that Story A Day -May 2020 has been going well for me. I will post a separate post on the lessons learnt so far, but today, its a sample short story that I wrote for the prompt for the day. I hope you enjoy the story. Do let me know your thoughts , corrections, or even critiques on the story below ๐Ÿ™‚

The prompt for today was to go to Postsecret.com, choose a secret and write a story around it. The secret postcard I chose was: “I have been on both sides of #metoo”. And here’s my story ๐Ÿ™‚

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โ€œYou know you can go public or press charges against him right?โ€ย 

My best friend Sheila was absolutely outraged when I told her what happened last evening. But I wasnโ€™t so sure. I thought back to the evening and the days that led to it.

I wasnโ€™t an attractive woman or the woman guys usually fell for. But I knew the tricks by now. I was a walking talking โ€˜how to win a guy in four dates manualโ€™, if I was honest with myself. I had had too many heartbreaks, too many Cindrella like expectations, before I figured it all out. It took the magic out of being in a relationship, but at least I knew I had the power to fuck anyone I fancied. I had tried and tested many guys over the years to prove my theory and to hone my honeytrap skills. This had been my purpose in life for the last three years, since the numerous times I’d had my heart broken and my spirit trampled upon. I had vowed to make men fall for me and never fall for any of them.

To me, it always seemed like, guys wanted sex, and so they should just be thankful that they got one without the hassle of emotional attachment. It seemed to me, the perfect win-win situation. The rat got the cheese in the end. It didnโ€™t matter that the rat was in the lab the whole time. What was inconsiderate about that, when all that the rat wanted was the cheese, right? Its not like the rat had feelings, right? Thatโ€™s what I thought.

Now, I was a leader. A go-getter. A CEO in my start up. Ruthless, sexy. Men couldnโ€™t get enough of me. Men wanted me. I still wasnโ€™t the stereotypical attractive woman. But my power, my position, and the rumours that I never got emotionally attached made me irresistible to men. And I knew why. I had years of experience practising on these rats.

Until Sam, that is. Funny, how there is an exception to every rule. An argument that you just canโ€™t win.

โ€œI cantโ€™โ€, I replied quietly.

โ€œBut why? What is wrong with you? Youโ€™re one of the most powerful and ruthless women I know of!!โ€, Sheila paced around the room, showing her exasperation with me. I knew that pace. That tone of voice. She looked up to me. Aspired to be cold and calculated like me. And I was letting her down by not pressing charges. I almost cringed at the example I was setting.

โ€œI wasnโ€™t raped, Sheila. You know it was consensual.โ€

โ€œBut, but, you could always say it, isnโ€™t it? I mean, you did tell him to stop right? When you realised you wanted more?โ€

Sheila was fishing for a salvation for her hero, where there was none.

I thought back to that evening and the many days that led up to that evening with Sam. The teasing, the competition, the cat and mouse game. The building up tension. I had played this game many times over the years. With so many rats, or mice, if they sound cuter. I didnโ€™t care if I hurt anyone in the process. Because men are just interested in sex right? All they want is to fuck a woman. Why would they get hurt?

Only now, I realised, how wrong I had been. That after all these years, for a change, I had been the rat. The mouse. If it sounded cuter to you.

I fell in love with Sam. But this is not a love story. Sam had been one of the many rats I had experimented on and released into the wild. Never knowing, that I had broken his heart in the process. This was a story of revenge.

I looked at Sheila, my best friend, and the only thing I could come up with, that made the most sense, was, โ€œIโ€™ve been on both sides of #metoo.โ€

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There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon – Thoughts

Knowing her, is loving her

There’s Something About Sweetie is the second YA romance novel from the Dimpleverse series. In the first book, ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’, we get to see career minded, level headed, independent Dimple fall in love with traditional, romantic Rishi. In this book, we get to see Rishi’s younger brother fall hard for the amazing and Sassy Sweetie. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh man, I’m in love with Sweetie myself now. What a refreshing story and one with a message that a lot of young girls should read and know about. More than the love story or the romance, I fell in love with Sweetie’s personality and her determination to fight against body shaming and bullying.

Many of us go through body shaming throughout our lives in one form or the other. Either weโ€™re too skinny or too fat or too fair or too dark or have too much body hair or have too little hair..the list is endless! People, even the well meaning ones, just can’t seem to figure out what the hell they want from girls and women! And its really frustrating and demotivating to the core. Sweetie is talented, kind, beautiful, has a voice to die for and is the fastest track runner in her high school. And yet, she has to deal with insecurities that are brought on by straight up rude and well meaning friends and family, because she is fat.

I love how she says, fat is just the opposite of thin. It’s people who have given the word a negative connotation, really. I love her for standing up for herself, and all the while being kind to everyone she meets and being respectful of her culture and her parents too.

The romance between Ashish and Sweetie is to die for! I was really impressed to see that popular and handsome guy Ashish is actually not shallow and sees people for who they really are.

I also felt amazed by all the friends that Ashish and Sweetie have. Everything else is perfect in the book too. We see a cameo of Rishi and Dimple as well! And Pinky is introduced in this book too!

I for one, can’t wait to read 10 things I hate about Pinky – the third book from the Dimpleverse universe ๐Ÿ™‚

Questions to you guys:

Are there any other books that are fun and interesting and deal with body shaming that you would recommend for me to read?

If its something you’re comfortable sharing, what’s one body shaming pet peeve that you wish the world could be rid of to be a better place?

Book Series to Binge Read – Part 1

How’re all the lovely people doing these days? Oscillating between feeling blessed and wanting to tear your hair out? Because that’s me since the last two months. I haven’t been up to date with my blogging over the last week I think and I apologize for that. To make up, here’s a sort of discussion-worthy post since I know for sure that all of you will have tons of recommendations from your own binge-worthy book series list, and I’d love to hear about them from your posts or in the comments below! ๐Ÿ™‚

These are the series I recently binge read and really enjoyed. I haven’t included older series that I had read like ten/twenty years back like Narnia, Nancy Drew, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, etc in this list for that reason. Also, they are in no particular order, and there will be more such posts as and when I finish the other series I’m currently in the beginning or middle of ๐Ÿ™‚

The Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab

Oh!! This series has been like a super favorite series of mine and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If for nothing else, then pick it up for a heroine you will absolutely fall in love with. Delilah Bard – you rock girl!

All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Read this for the brilliant way the author has linked real history and historic figures to this fictional tale of witches, vampires and warvewolves. This is not vampire diaries or the twilight and although the romance was not up to my liking, the amount of research the author has put in and the flow of the plot, made this series a binge read for me.

Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

I don’t have words for how much I have loved this duology. I have not been able to forget about the characters and it has been a year I read these two books! The plot, the heist, the characters and their chemistry, ohhh….this one is for all kinds of readers I think ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, for some honorable mentions, since I did binge read all of these book series too, but they’re not completely on the super duper top book series list of mine yet. But I binge read them, so that means they were entertaining enough ๐Ÿ™‚

Grisha Trilogy/Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

This series might have made it to the top list had I read it before I read Six of Crows. But sorry Leigh Bardugo, you have just outdone yourself with the SoC books, so I couldn’t find the same amount of love for the Shadow and Bone trilogy, although, it was an exceptional series in itself. I mean, the Darkling as the villain – epic.

The Hazel Wood Duology by Melissa Albert

I had high hopes from the overall series, since I was absolutely in love with the first book. But the second book – The Night Country, left me a slightly disappointed. So binge worthy reads, but the sequel might not be as great as the first one.

Astra Steadfast trilogy by MC Frank

A simple, fast paced re-imagination of a futuristic world where books and human interaction is forbidden. Inspired by Fahrenheit 451. I really enjoyed this series and the re-imagination of Ray Bradbury’s concept and the slow burn romance between the lead pair ๐Ÿ™‚

Roxanne Fosch Files Trilogy by Jina S Bazzar

Extremely detailed world building. A series which mixes science fiction with fantasy. A coming of age story of a girl pitted against all odds. A binge worthy series for fans of Jessica Jones ๐Ÿ™‚

Questions to you guys ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you read any of these? I’m sure you have..heh heh..

Hit me up with some duologies/trilogies that I can read and feature in my next post! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜‰

Heir of Fury (Roxanne Fosch Files #3 – Finale) by Jina S. Bazzar – Thoughts

I have a special relationship with the Roxanne Fosch books, because this was the first fantasy/sci-fi ARC that I had reviewed as a blogger. I had put my heart and soul into reading and reviewing the books in this series and chatting with the author, Jina, who is an amazing human being and a very modest and hard working author as well. I had to say this, because I have tried my best to not let my feelings get into the way of my reviews, but I might end up being partial to this series because of my history with Roxanne. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just saying ๐Ÿ˜€

Trigger Warnings: lots and lots of violence

Heir of Fury is the final book from the trilogy. Roxanne has come a long way from the first book – Heir of Ashes. She started as a fugitive. Hunted by everyone. Hardly trusting anyone. Coming to terms with her abandonment. Seeking a million answers about her past, about who she really is. Struggling to trust anyone because of the horrors she has gone through. She felt a lot like Jessica Jones to me and I loved her from the start.

Now in the finale, Roxanne has got her feet on the ground. She has grown up from the scared child on the run, afraid of letting anyone in to a ruthless fighter. She has found the answers to a lot of her questions and found out who her allies are and who her enemies are. She might have even found a potential love interest. But now, she has much bigger things to worry about. Like losing her soul being Remo Drammen’s familiar and being forced to carry out his evil work. Will she survive? Will she be able to defeat Remo? Will she be able to live a normal life with the person she loves? And what/who will she have to sacrifice in order to get the ending she wants? We get the answers to all these questions in the action packed finale of the series.

I agree with another blogger who recently reviewed the book, that in the starting few chapters, the pace of the story is quite slow. It does feel a little info-dumpy and even all the helpful definitions of the runes and sigils or symbols at the start of the book, don’t ease out the amount of information that is given for each ritual. Sometimes it can get confusing for readers too, if you’re used to a single genre. Since this series is a mix of fantasy and science fiction both. But once you get a hang of it, its doesn’t bother much.

The finale has a lot, and I mean a lot of action. And really gory action. Picture Wolverine tearing down his enemies. Something like that, with a lot more gore I think. The entire series is in fact packed with action and some really detailed fight scenes. So if action is your thing, you might enjoy this series.

Roxanne is relentless. But even though she is a preternatural being, she feels very human. Her best friends are humans after all. I loved the return of some of my favorite characters in the finale – Zantry, Diggy, Vicky, Mwara, Dathana and my favorite of all, Frizz. I also mourned the loss of some of the characters as much as Roxanne does. I won’t let out any spoilers, but I cried in that last scene. But there are a lot of other characters and multiple worlds, dimensions, that I didn’t feel connected to as much. Like the Sidhe queens or the Enclave members. The hunters – Roland maybe was OK, but I found all the side characters and new characters that were introduced in the finale too many to keep track of. That over whelmed me a little.

All in all, I enjoyed this series a lot and will miss the gritty and relentless Roxanne.

Note: This book was released on 29th April 2020 and I think the first book is available for free on Kindle Unlimited in India at least..if you want to give it a try ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m Participating in Story a Day May – 2020!!

I’ve been participating in the Story a Day May and September challenges since two years now. And similar to how I fared with my last two NaNoWriMos, I always start well, and then somewhere down the line, lose focus and forget to keep up. Last time I participated, I managed to write 15 out of 30 stories, some alright and some awful I think ๐Ÿ˜€

What is Story a Day?

Story a Day is a writing challenge that was started by Julie Duffy (you can check out her website here), to encourage writers to write more and build a sustainable writing practice. She sends out a prompt daily, if you subscribe for the challenge, for the whole month. You can go away and write your story, and choose to publish it on your blog or any other platform or just share them with the other participants on her website. and the best part is, the prompts and the challenge is FREE!!!

Story A Day Super Stars:

This time, I’ve gone a step ahead and made this serious for myself. I’ve invested financially to hold myself accountable to write more, and hopefully in the process, learn more. So I’ve signed myself up for the Super Stars group!! I’m nervous and excited at the same time and I have no idea if I’ll be able to stick to this, but I really want to. I know I’ll give it my most sincere shot for sure.

That probably means less Netflix and more writing..heh heh ๐Ÿ˜€

So, wish me luck guys! And if you’re participating in the Story A Day challenge too in May, do let me know how its going. I’d love to read your stories if you want to share them with me too ๐Ÿ™‚ And maybe, I will share some of my stories here on the blog, from time to time ๐Ÿ™‚

The Finished Books Tag

Thank you Sahi @ My World of Books for tagging me to write this post ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope my tag is at least half as informative and interesting as yours ๐Ÿ™‚ You can check out her answers to this tag here.

Here are my responses to some of the questions regarding my reading process ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you keep a list of the books you’ve read?

Yes, I actually started this when I became a member of Goodreads. At first Goodreads was the only place I’d track my books – books that I’ve read, currently reading or want to read. But over the last two years, I’ve also been maintaining a book tracking journal – nothing fancy, but I usually create a tentative TBR list at the beginning of each month and write a short summary of each book I read, as and when I finish them ๐Ÿ™‚

If you record statistics, what statistics do you record?

No, I haven’t been recording any statistics other than the count of books I’ve read, via Goodreads ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe something to consider going forward, to check what genres I read, so that I can pick up more genres and different authors.

Do you give 5-star ratings for books and if so, what do you score books out of and how do you come about this score?

I used to rate books on the following criteria –ย  story, characters, entertainment and did I learn anything new from the book, to give it a 5-star rating or not. But then I just became a really no-fuss reader and started giving 5-star ratings to any books that struck a chord with me, made me cry, made me laugh – basically entertained me or moved meย ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you review books?

Umm, yes, but I don’t do a lot of formal or author requested reviews, since I don’t like the pressure and I don’t like saying I didn’t like the book, if I really didn’t like it, since I know how hard it is to writeย or publish a book,ย and I dislike being dishonest too ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I just review for fun, for my personal use and maybe if other readers are interested to know about my thoughts on a book I read, or if I want to discuss the book with other readers. I do support a few authors, whose street team I’m on, so I do review their ARCs too ๐Ÿ™‚

Where do you put your finished books?

If its an e-book or audio bookย then on a ‘Read’ shelf on Goodreads. And if its a physical book that I own, then I have the left hand side of my current bookshelfย for the read books, which is slowly getting filled up. So I might have to devise a new mechanism soon! ๐Ÿ˜‰

How do you pick your next book?

I’m a half and half kind of reader. So part of my next book pick is based on the book club selections for the month and the other part is purely based on my mood, so whatever satisfies my mood from the million recommendations that I list down everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you have any other rituals for when you have finished a book?

Oh absolutely! I’m a very ritual sort of person, when it comes to personal things ๐Ÿ˜€ So I do the following when I finish a book:

  • Close the book or end the e-bookย and shut my eyes for a few seconds to savor the entire book in a sort of mental flashback in my head
  • Take Instagram/blog worthy picturesย  -sorry, let me change that to ‘Try to take’..LOL
  • Write my personal review notes for the book in my book journal
  • Write a more politically correct review on my blog and Goodreads
  • Share my blog on FB and post the Instagram picture
  • Update Goodreads to ‘Finished reading’ for that book
  • Place physical copy of book on the Read shelf of my bookshelf and feel really proud of myself ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Wait for a day or two, depending on how much impact the book had on me, before picking up my next read ๐Ÿ˜€

So, that’s it!! Those were some of my book-ish rituals. I hope they weren’t too boring! ๐Ÿ˜€

I tag:

The Bookaholic

Laughter Brothers

That Reader Bee

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum – Thoughts

Its books like these that make me thankful to be part of a global book club/book community, since I wouldn’t have even thought of picking up this book, had it not been chosen as the BOTM selection for one of my online book clubs. And I’m glad I read it.

This would be around a 4/5 stars kind of book for me, mainly because of the subject of the book (not for the meek hearted), and also the different female characters and their decisions, which according to me makes this a really good choice for a book club, since there are a lot of discussion points that come up in the book.

Trigger Warnings: Domestic violence, murder, rape

In a nutshell, the story is about Isra, a Palestinian woman (not more than 19 years I think), who grows up in Palestine, but is married off quickly and goes to America with her husband and his family. And then, it is the story of Deya, Isra’s eldest daughter, who is narrating her story in the present, and trying to find out more about her parents, especially her mother. Although it seems that the story is just about these two women, there are a few other characters who I felt had their own story going on as well, and seemed like really strong characters – my favorite being that of Fareeda – Isra’s mother in law. There is also Sarah, Isra’s sister in law, and the only rebel in the family, initially. We also have side stories of Adam, Isra’s husband and all the other men folk that she interacts with in the short span of her life.

This is the first book I’ve read about what it is to be a Palestinian woman, so I’m not sure if I can take everything written in the book as face value or as the baseline for their culture and their treatment of women. In the book, it’s simply abhorring. I’ve read many books in the past about women’s struggles in eastern countries, but usually, there is at least something good going along in the story too. Some hopeful or positive characters. But in the case of this book, it probably took me as much courage to finish it, as it did with The Handmaid’s Tale. And the worst part was, the author claims, that this is how women are treated there in reality.

The story does have a redemptive ending, but I felt it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more for the women in the story and I was left heart broken for the most part of the story. This is not a story I wanted to read during this lockdown period, but I wanted to finish and discuss it with my book club members too. At least now that its over, I can go back to being in denial and hiding behind my romances and fantasy books. Yes, Im a coward that way.

There were some really good discussion points in the book and I’ve noted a few of them here. I would be interested to know your thoughts on these questions too ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. In one of the conversations between Sarah and Deya, Sarah comments, that people who love reading, are usually lonely, and that’s why they turn to books. I felt that was quite true in my case. What about you?
  2. In another conversation between Sarah and Deya again, Sarah says, it is easier to be happy and content. But that means, you will continue to suffer and things will never change. It takes sadness, discontent, desire, passion or anger to change things and bring a revolution – do you agree? I felt that although I agreed with the second part of her statement, I wasn’t so sure about the first one. Because I find it really hard to be happy and content.
  3. There was a really interesting discussion between Deya and one of her marriage suiters, Nasser, where they argue about destiny and having control over one’s destiny. Nasser mentions that everything is pre-destined. But Deya argues that she doesn’t believe so. Read the book to see the rest of the argument and I felt both parties had a valid point. What do you believe in? Pre-destined destiny, or a destiny that we can make for ourselves?
  4. Many times in the book, the women think, they deserve the violence and injustices committed against them. They say and think they have no choice but to accept this as the way of things, because that means they will be a part of the community at least. And community and familial pride/respect is more important and freedom and self respect – have you seen this thinking lately around you? Because I see this a lot even now in my own family.

All in all, a hard hitting and worthy book to read. But I’d like to know more Palestinian women’s views on the book and the authenticity of the treatment of women that is shown in the book – is that the norm or an exception?

Stay At Home Series – Episode 4: Parenting S-Poofs! :D

We’ve got a 3 year old, who will turn 4 next week. Other than the child-boss, we’ve got me, the mom and him, the dad, all living under the same roof.

This segment is brought to you by the failing parents association.

Starring: Me (mummy), R (the child) and Him (Papa)

We have a clear screen time policy, oh sorry, wait, I meant, we HAD a clear screen time policy – only an hour a day. Now, this is how our screen time policy works:

9 am:

R: Mommy!! Is it ipad time yet?

Me: You cant watch ipad as soon as you wake up!!! Don’t you know the rules???

(R is really clever and chills on the bed until 9:25 am, and I have my morning meeting about to start in 5 mins)

R: Mummy!! I’m hungry! I want to brush now! I want to change into my princess dwess!! Now! Now!

Me: Just watch your ipad sweetheart! Until mummy finishes her morning meeting!

R: Are you sure mummy?

Me: Ignores and lets her watch ipad for the next hour and a half (sigh) Point R.

We also follow a balanced diet routine for our daughter. A diet that consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, pulses, meat, carbs. We include variety in cuisine too, being global citizens and avid travelers, we don’t want her to be a fussy eater. It was an added effort, not for us, but the cook. This is how our diet plan looks now:

Breakfast: Chocos

Lunch: Rice/Roti with daal, most probably yesterday’s daal because we didn’t have time to cook. (R loves it by the way)

Snacks: Grapes and chips/cookies/chocolate (R is in her personal heaven..now if only mummy could arrange for some fries..grrr)

Dinner: Pasta/Noodles with as little veggies as possible, because who the hell is going to cut all those veggies man?!! Point R again.

We believe in instilling creativity and inspirational learning for our child. That’s why she went to a Montessori based child care and pre school. Education should be fun after all. But children should also pick up skills very early in life – its a competitive world. This is how fun and creative learning at home looks like now:

Me: Papa, can you ask her to write 1-10 and A-Z in different color pens please??

Him: Umm, darling, we’ve run out of pens

Me: Use the crayons then!

Him: Cough, we’ve run out of paper..

R: Papa!!! Can you make my stuff toy animal talk instead? (Does she have secret hearing abilities??)

Mom and Papa play pretend all day long. At least she’ll learn good housekeeping skills? ๐Ÿ˜€

We also are becoming excellent at switching our brains between that of a 4 year old and that of a 40 year old professional ๐Ÿ˜€

We’re parents with very low expectations and demands from our child really (cough, ahem). So sleep is really important for us. I meant sleeping well for the child. So we can Netflix and chill. Naps are absolute must. And she needs to be in bed by 10 pm every night.

Now:

R: I WONT SLEEP!! EVER!!! AAAAARRRRRAAAAAAAHHH (while running around like a maniac in the house because she knows mom and dad are sitting and doing work on their laptops.

Him at 11 pm in the night: I give up. I’m going to sleep. You can stay awake and do whatever you want.

R: Really??!!! Best day ever!!! (and being even more hyperactive by now)

Me: Making dagger eyes at him , which say, take her to bed and make her sleep, because I will go insane if I don’t get my reading time in!!

Him: R! Come to bed, Ill tell you two stories ๐Ÿ™‚

R: No! I’ll only come to sleep if you tell me 100 stories!

He sighs, and I wonder, maybe she’ll make a great lawyer? Hopes..

Point Me and Point R. Papa looses ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰