Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Illustrations by Rovina Cai – Book Thoughts

Bookish Discussion:

Isn’t it great when you discover a book that is under hyped or was never on your radar and you just happened to stumble upon it and it made you really happy? Which is one such book you stumbled upon recently and loved and would recommend to everyone?

Thoughts on Elatsoe:

Story Blurb: This is a story written by an own voice author about a 17 year old girl – Elatsoe/Ellie and her heroic adventure. Ellie belongs to the Lipan Apache community and lives with her family in an America where humans and supernatural beings co-exist. I was instantly attracted to this world since X-Men is one of my favorite movies and worlds to be in. Like X-Men, there are people with good abilities and then there are those with abilities used to harm others. For instance, Ellie can raise the dead and her best friend is the ghost of her dead dog, Kirby. But then there are also Vampires and Faes, and evil ghosts, amongst other supernatural beings inhabiting this world.

Trigger Warnings: Death of a loved one, xenophobia, some amount of torture and gore, murder

When a seemingly innocent yet tragic accident claims the life of her beloved cousin, the story starts and we go on an adventurous and really scary journey with Ellie and her friends and family to bring her cousin justice.

Plot, World building and Writing Style: The story isn’t as straightforward as I expected it to be. In fact, what is interesting is that while we get to read Ellie’s story and find out who the villain is, the illustrations on the top of each chapter tell us a different story, about Ellie’s great great grandmother – Six-great, and in some ways the stories are connected, yet not connected as well. I really enjoyed the simplistic world building, as well as the familial and friendly style of writing. I need to check out more of Little Badger’s works πŸ™‚ There are some very scary and gory scenes in the book, which spooked me out completely. I love the horror genre, so I was absolutely delighted by those scenes. But if you’re weak of heart, then maybe, read this in the day πŸ˜‰ I also enjoyed all the little back stories narrated by Ellie’s parents, about their folklore.

Characters: There are quite a lot of characters in the story, but interestingly, they all stay with you. My favorite characters however were Ellie, Kirby and Jay. All three of them are so amazing together. They gave such a fresh face to what friendship is. I think there might be some romantic feelings that Jay has for Ellie, but I loved the fact that everyone accepted that this 17 year old can be asexual and that its completely normal! When will we have that in our world, I wonder. Soon I hope.

I think the only thing that was slightly disappointing for me was the cost and availability of this book. I wish it was more hyped and I wish it was available in countries like India. Even the hardcover on Amazon India is very expensive. So I had to buy the kindle version of the book, however I don’t like reading illustrated novels on kindle one bit. Maybe one day, I’ll get my hands on the book πŸ™‚

So, have you read this book? Do you have any recommendations for books with asexual representation that I should read? πŸ™‚

Will you support my writing?

As many of you will know, I aspire to be a published writer one day. I do count my blogs as published writing too, but I’ve also been submitting short stories on Reedsy at least once a week and would love for you to have a read and leave me some feedback or comments if possible:)

If you would like to read some of my submitted short stories on Reedsy, you can check them out here πŸ™‚

Thank you so much for supporting me on my writing journey πŸ™‚ I am also trying to finish the first draft of both my previous NaNo projects this year. I’ll keep posting updates on my writing life here, if this is something you would be interested in reading about as well.

Do you enjoy writing?

What are some websites that you have found useful that I could follow too?

DUNE by Frank Herbert – Book Thoughts

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Frank Herbert, DUNE

With all the Classics that I’ve read lately, with the exception of Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, I found that the writing style is quite verbose and hard to follow. However, with all the Classics, once you’ve made the effort to read through the tome and navigate the language, you find that you have experienced something valuable. As a reader, you feel the depth and the immense vision all these writers had. How progressive they were, even during their time.

It is difficult to read J.R.R Tolkein, Frank Herbert, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy. But oh my gosh, all the unabridged classics Ive read so far, have felt so good once I read them.

Dune is the first book in the 5 part epic sci-fi series written by Frank Herbert first published in 1965. I bought this beautiful edition of the book and read it to be on time for the second movie adaptation starring Timothee Chalamet. The book is 600 pages long, and this edition also has a foreword by his son and lots of Appendices.

Thoughts on Dune, the first book:

1. The plot is expected. In fact, right at the beginning you know what is going to happen in the end. The rest of the story is about the journey and the world building and introducing the readers to the world of Dune and how Muad’dib comes to power.

2. The world building though, oh my gosh. I cant imagine the vision of Frank Herbert, and how he thought of such a rich world in 1965. He has covered it all so deftly in the first book itself – the ecology of Dune, the philosophy and religions, the trade and commerce of Arrakis along with other planets that form a part of the Guild (us Earthlings are a part of that too..heheh), of the political structure, I mean, I was simply mindblown by the world building πŸ™‚

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.

Frank Herbert, DUNE

3. I was also blown over with the philosophy of the book. The mind as a source of extreme power is key to this story. All through the book, the author hints at the power of the mind, in controlling oneself and in controlling others. You wonder, whether there is truly some magic that is at play, or is it years of training and selective genetics that has created the leaders and their supernatural abilities. You wonder, if the prophecy created Muad’dib, or did Muad’dib use the prophecy and religious beliefs of the Fremen and the Bene Gesserit to further his accession to power.

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times to develop psychic muscles. — Muad’Dib

Frank Herbert, DUNE

4. Now coming to the characters – I think for me, this is where the first book fell short of my expectations as a reader. I’ve read some very good fiction and for me, the depth of a character and their character arc is very important. However, except for Lady Jessica, Stilgar, and the cruel Baron, I found most of the other cast unimpressive and almost flat. The worst disappointment was the main protagonist – Paul Muad’dib. I couldn’t feel anything for him throughout the book. He felt cold like the night dessert and completely devoid of any emotions. I couldn’t understand any of his feelings and to me, he felt even more cruel and calculating than the evil Baron. I hope they do a better job in the movie. Maybe the later books do justice to his character, but I don’t know if I’ll be reading the other books in the series.

5. There is zero romance in the book and the depiction of women and their role is close to none or mostly negative and inconsequential. Probably expected from the patriarchal society and mindset of that time. Chani is shown as Paul’s soulmate, but oh gosh, their relationship feels stripped down to ‘the mother of my first born’..gahhhh. And Lady Jessica, although powerful, kind and intelligent is shown in quiet a negative light throughout the book – as a conniving witch. 

I’m not sure if Ill be reading the rest of the books in the series. It seems like a huge commitment. Or maybe I’ll just read one book a year – like a five year plan LOL..:)

Bookish Discussion:

Have you read the book Dune or the entire series? What were your thoughts? Who was your favourite character?

The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

Frank Herbert, DUNE

Traveling during Covid Times – Fratelli Vineyards and Japalouppe Equestrian Centre

STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE POTHOLES IN THE ROAD AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY..

BABS HOFFMAN

2020 had been a hard year for travellers around the world. All of us had to be cooped inside our homes to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from the dreaded virus. Now we’re in 2021, and the virus is still around. The vaccines are hopefully around the corner, but some of us have started taking tiny steps to travel and be outdoors again, taking whatever precautions we can.

Traveling after covid will be different. I think all travellers will accept this fact, that traveling will now have to become more local, more responsible and definitely slower. I for one, am glad for that. Earlier, it was difficult to plan slow travel for people like me, because we had to be in office for a certain number of days. But work from home seems like the new norm, and suddenly, lots of ‘work-cation’ avenues seem to be opening up for working parents of nuclear families πŸ™‚

So, when we returned to Pune in November, we planned our first travel trip with another friend and their family to a near Vineyard – Fratelli Vineyard. This vineyard is around 185 km from Pune along the Solapur side and it took us approximately four hours to reach here.

Pre-requisites for staying at Fratelli:

  • Book your rooms in advance
  • Need a covid test or a medical certificate confirming that you don’t have the virus
  • Arogya setu app update

We left home at 10 am from Pune and reached the facility at 2 pm. The roads were surprisingly good and thanks to all the work from home, there was hardly any traffic. We stopped by a few times for nature calls and to eat home made lunch by the roadside. We also came across this beautiful water body called Vir Dharan, just an hour into the journey and noted it down for future plans to probably come here for a picnic πŸ™‚

Vir Dharan

The Vineyard and resort is situated in a remote end of a village and its perfect for a destination where there are hardly any people and where you can easily practise social distancing. The resort in itself is majestic, and when you reach, you are given a welcome drink – for us it was sparkling wine and pampered with a huge spread of Indian and Italian lunch. Our friends were a day early, so we had the advantage of having an opened bottle of wine and home cooked food already waiting for us πŸ™‚ They have four rooms available for overnight stay, and we had booked all of them, so it was even better – for safety and convenience both πŸ™‚

The view from our room πŸ™‚

The resort has a common dining area and their wine manufacturing and tasting area is downstairs, in a separate place. The wine manufacturing tour was shut down due to covid, but that didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. We spent the next two days simply relaxing, drinking wine with cheese, and being completely pampered by the service of the staff on premise there. Our kids were delighted to be able to run around uninhibited on the property and the cooks would cook up delicious meals all through the day for us. It was the most relaxing, and fun three days that we had and I highly recommend the place, for their service, cleanliness and their wines and in-house cooked meals πŸ™‚ I got to spend a lot of time reading on the grass, soaking up the sunlight and it was a reader’s dream come true! πŸ™‚

The next place I want to talk about is : Japalouppe. This place is around 25Km from Balewadi, Pune, situated just before the toll on the old Mumbai highway. Imagine my surprise when I found out about this gem of a place from a friend and didn’t know that this place has been in operation since 20 years now!

Pre-requisites for Japalouppe:

  • You need to book in advance again, especially for weekends, since they seem to be overbooked lately
  • They have different batches – morning, afternoon and evening batches and separate tickets for children below 7 years and adults
  • The ticket includes a tour of the animal farm, a pony ride if you’re lucky, and a meal that is cooked in the canteen on premise

Again, we planned to go with the parents of my daughter’s friends so the children could have a weekend outing. We went for the evening batch which starts at 3 pm and wraps up by 6 pm. They’ve started these batches especially for the weekends to avoid over crowding and annoying the animals.

A little background about the place – Japalouppe actually started off as a purely Equestrian and horse riding training centre. But only a few years back, they started extending their farm to rescue and take care of abandoned animals. Their animals are the friendliest I’ve ever seen, and they mentioned they’ve adopted or rescued dogs, cows, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigs, and many other animals from the streets or callous owners. The children are given a little bucket with carrots, leaves and bread crumbs that they are allowed to feed as snacks to the animals. And the best part was that you can hold some animals such as birds, guinea pigs, lambs and the rabbits. My daughter was delighted and probably left a bit of her heart there πŸ™‚

We wrapped the outing off with their high tea and canteen cooked snacks of mini pancakes with chocolate sauce, vada pav and idli chutney. We had all worked up an appetite ourselves so the snacks were even more delicious πŸ˜‰

And that’s a wrap. We ensured as much as possible to have our masks on, and wash our hands or use sanitisers. Both facilities along with guests on site made sure that the required social distancing protocols were observed, which in itself is hard to do in a populated country like mine, hence commendable. I was also happy to see people being civil and mindful of the virus and following the required norms.

I can’t wait to visit few more nearby places and soak in the beaches or mountains or whatever nature has to offer. If I do manage to visit someplace nice again, I’ll write about it.

What are your travel plans for 2021? Have you started traveling to remote places with family or close friends? If yes, I’d love to read about recommendations in the comments πŸ™‚

2021 Goals – Reading and Life – Keeping it Simple

I was talking to my sister and best friend two days back and telling them all about my goals or to-do lists and my best friend said, “Prachi di, have you added some chill time in your goals too? Your goals sound too much, even to hear about!

We laughed it off that day, but a day later, I realised I was again setting myself up for failure by slotting in too much. So, I went back to my original 2021 goals draft and edited it to make it simpler πŸ™‚

The key words for me this year will be : Simple, Share and Soothe.

That is, I want to keep my work, life, goals – simple. I want to try and share my writing and thoughts more, and I want to do things that will soothe my body and soul this year πŸ™‚

What are your key words this year?

So, here are my revised goals for 2021:

  • Reading : I’ve set up the same 72 books to read goal on Goodreads, but its not going to be a hard and fast rule. I want to read for joy and to widen my horizon and thought process. So I want to try and include more of the following in my reading:
    • Non fiction reads
    • New releases
    • Books from my existing TBR shelf
    • Finish the below series:
      • Deathnote series
      • Throne of Glass series
      • Curse-breaker series
    • Read as many books as possible by the authors below:
      • John Boyne
      • Kurt Vonnegut
      • Neil Gaiman
      • RF Kuang
      • V.E. Schwab
      • Rin Chupeco
      • Fredrik Backman
      • Others, if discovered, will be added
    • Track my reading better – via graphs if possible

  • Writing : I still feel like I’m not where I want to be with respect to my writing life. I’m definitely improving my writing practise and hours each year and I’m happy with that. I feel like I’m still quite far from publishing a novel, but one has to write a book first πŸ™‚ So here are my writing goals this year:
    • Write 500 words daily – This could be as part of journaling, or blogging or writing a short story, or a chapter of my novel WIP. I can take 1 day break in a week, but that should be it. This was inspired by Stephen King’s memoir on writing
    • Track my writing practise using the tracking mechanism that V.E. Schwab uses, which she kindly shared with her followers on IG. I found it simple and easy to follow πŸ™‚

  • Other life goals for this year : As with each year, I like to add something that will help me grow as a person and some self care routines. I also remove some goals that aren’t working out or don’t look feasible. So for 2021, I want to try and stick to the following goals for my life:
    • Run or walk daily (with 1 cheat day a month) for 30 minutes – so that’s a total of 353 days and I’m on track so far for this month πŸ˜€
    • Try and do more charity to help children in need, wherever and however I can
    • Try and learn a new skill or practise an old one (maybe something from the ones listed below):
      • Learning a new language on Duolingo
      • Gardening
      • Rekindle playing the keyboard or drums

And that’s it! Those are my goals or things I want to try and attempt and achieve in 2021 πŸ™‚ You’ll notice I haven’t included driving a car or traveling in this year’s goals, since I cant plan for them with the current situation. Wish me all the best!! πŸ™‚

How about your goals? What have you decided to do in 2021? Do leave me a comment or a link to your blog in the comments, so I can stop by and cheer you on too πŸ™‚

2020 Reading Wrap Up

In the beginning of 2020, I wrote a post about my reading goals for the year. You can check out the detailed post here.

Here is a snapshot of how my year of reading was in 2020 πŸ™‚

  • Goodreads Reading Challenge 2020 – I had targeted to read 72 books in 2020, and I’m glad I achieved this one goal. To see which books I read in 2020, you can head out here.
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  • Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2020 – 12 books under each of the categories. You can check out her blog and the reading challengeΒ here. And here is a snapshot of the books I read for the MMD Reading Challenge 2020:
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  • My Goodreads Book Club – Kick Up Your Heels’ Book of the MonthΒ selections – 12 books. I don’t think I read any of the chosen books for this year other than the book in Jan – The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.
  • South Asian Reading Challenge 2020, that was hosted by Fanna @Β FannatalityΒ and Nandini @ Novels and Nebulas. I tried to keep up with the selections from this challenge, but I think I wasn’t able to read most of the selections. That’s a loss for me because there were some really good books that were a part of this reading challenge. Maybe, if they’re doing a repeat this year, I can participate again πŸ™‚
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  • The Unread Shelf Project 2020 – I read 12 books from my owned books unread shelf this year, from Whitney’s blog. You can check out her challenge on her blogΒ here, if you’re interested. I did read a lot of books from my existing physical TBR shelf, but I lost track of the prompts and the books under it, so it would be hard for me to update that here.
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  • Here are some of the series I started and finished in 2020 πŸ™‚
    1. The Grishaverse Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
    2. The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
    3. The Hazel Wood duology by Melissa Albert
    4. The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco
    5. Roxanne Fosch Files by Jina S. Bazzar
    6. The Blood of Stars Duology by Elizabeth Lim

  • Here are the new releases that I read in 2020:
    1. Children of Virtue & Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi
    2. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
    3. The Night Country by Melissa Albert
    4. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (one of my favourites in 2020)
    5. Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Kotugno
    6. Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
    7. Crescent City by Sarah J Maas
    8. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klune (I absolutely adored this book)
    9. Exhalation by Ted Chiang (Another favorite read of 2020)
    10. A Burning by Megha Majumdar
    11. Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu
    12. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam Ju (One of my favorite books in translation)
    13. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
    14. These, Our Bodies Possessed by Light by Dharini Bhaskar
    15. Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno – Garcia
    16. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Another favorite of 2020 and also a first read by the author)
    17. Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (My favorite romance of 2020)
    18. Azadi by Arundhati Roy
    19. Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
    20. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (A book that left me thinking for few days)

I wanted to write about the longest book I read and my favourite books, or the books that impacted me the most, but maybe I’ll leave that for another post πŸ™‚

Have you read any of these books in 2020? What were your thoughts or your favourites from this list? πŸ™‚

2020 – A Year of Mostly Failed Goals

I know it is quite pessimistic to start your first blog with a post titled – 2020: A Year of Mostly Failed Goals.

But, this blog is sacred to me and I’ve got to be honest here. I had lofty goals for 2020, and then the world went into a lockdown and I failed most of my lofty goals. That’s normal right? I’m proud to say however, that I used the word ‘mostly’. That means, I didn’t completely fail. Thats a big win for me πŸ™‚

Here was my post about my 2020 Goals : Click Here, if you want to read the entire post πŸ™‚

And here is a snapshot of what I did and didn’t achieve in 2020, if you don’t want to read my original post:

  • Buy an automatic car and learn to drive it : EPIC FAIL
  • Blog More : Hmm, If you see the detailed post, I didn’t do half of what I had planned to do with regards to blogging. But in December, I did create and add a header image for my blog and I’m really happy with it. I just wish it was better formatted. But for that, I might have to move to a self hosted site?
  • Write Daily : I didn’t. I wrote on some days, but I should’ve kept a track of how many days I actually wrote. That is going to be one of my goals in 2021
  • Get fitter and exercise more : I had a long list of activities for this goal, but again, this was a half – half kind of win. I did manage to keep up with an almost regular exercising schedule throughout the year, but I didn’t run or swim or dance as much as I had planned to
  • Read 6 books per month, aka read 72 books as part of the GoodRead’s challenge : I TOTALLY NAILED THIS ONE!!!! Woo Hooo!!
  • Other reading goals : I’ll do a separate wrap up post for this one, because reading is my soul and it needs a special blog dedicated to the wrap up πŸ™‚
  • Run a half marathon : Nope, didn’t happen
  • Visit my mom and visit my sister in the US : The lockdown actually gave me the option to live almost an entire year with mom, which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. For this, I am utterly grateful. However, the flip side was that I wasn’t able to meet my sister last year 😦 I hope that will be remedied this year
  • Go for another long trek : FAIL
  • Do more charity for kids : I wasn’t able to help children with respect to their learning journey as I had planned earlier in 2020, but I was able to make a few donations and I’m happy with that for now. I want to continue this into 2021 as well. I hope I’m able to bring some smiles in whatever way I can
  • Travel : I couldn’t travel like I had planned to, in 2020. But I did travel to my mom’s place in Odisha, I went to the Konark beach twice, and I wrapped up the year with a visit to Fratelli Vineyard in Maharashtra. I’ll write a blog about this soon too. So, it wasn’t so bad after all πŸ™‚

That’s it folks! Some wins and a lot of misses. In hindsight, a lot of things that mattered, were done. And that’s what counts right?

Some Calvin Wisdom πŸ˜€

So even if you feel like you failed all your goals in 2020, or missed out on all the things you had planned, write a post like me, go back down the year and see for yourself, if there were some surprise joys and wins in 2020 after all πŸ™‚

Happy New Year!! Now its time for 2021 life and reading goals. But, that’ll be another post. So stay tuned πŸ˜‰

How was your 2020? Do drop me a link to your year of reflections post, if you write one. I’ll love to read it.

Stay At Home Series – Episode 10 : How I achieved my Goodreads Challenge and read 72 books in 2020 :)

I was actually going to write about something else on my blog today, but if I’ve learned one thing this year, it is this: Nothing goes as planned. So always be ready to improvise..LOL

I can’t believe I actually managed to read 72 books this year!! I am so proud of myself for achieving at least ONE goal this year! LOL

When the year started and then lock down started, I honestly started to worry about my Goodreads challenge, because as a working mother, there were suddenly too many additional chores that were added to my day, which used to be outsourced earlier. I used to read a lot while a work, or when I travelled to work, but now it was all work from home and no travel time. However, my partner and I worked out our me time and with some sacrifices (aka reducing screen time drastically), I was able to manage πŸ™‚

I looked at my Goodreads books read count over the years and here’s a snapshot of how my reading has grown with each year.

I thought I wouldn’t have been able to read more than 62 books I read in 2019, but its always good to challenge yourself and see if you can make it.

A lot of my friends asked me, how I did it. The one common question every reader gets is, “How do you manage to read so much?” You won’t believe me if I told you, that I’ve asked the same question to other reader friends who have read 100 or even 300 books in a year! And no, reading isn’t their profession either! They have a day job or are students like most of us. Reading is for fun and for companionship πŸ™‚

I thought I’d write a blog titled ‘How to read more’, but I felt that was too pretentious for me, since I am learning too. So I decided I’d write about how I managed to achieve my GR’s challenge of reading 72 books this year πŸ™‚

  • One thing I’ve learned over the years of reading, is that reading can also be a skill. So like every other skill, the more you practise it, the better you get at it. I realised, that the more I read, the faster my reading speed became! So now, I can finish a 300 page fiction book in about 3-4 days – of reading an hour and half per day
  • I literally don’t do anything else. I’m active only on my Instagram account on social media, and I just scroll there when I post, which is once a day, for maybe 15 mins. I don’t watch any series or movies on screen or even if I do, they are very rare. So in a day, after I finish all my usual home, parenting, personal and work chores, I get about two hours of free time, or you can say me time, which I use to read
  • I have a book at all times with me. If I’m walking, I have my audiobook. If I’m at the playground with my daughter in the morning, I carry my physical copy of a book, if I’m in the playground in the evening, I have a kindle app on my phone or I carry my kindle. It can be the same book or different books, but I read every time I get some free time in between πŸ™‚
  • I find it easier and faster to read physical copies of books. So I have ended up buying a lot of books this year, which has turned into another hobby of book collection now. But it keeps my excitement alive and I’m thankful that I’m privileged enough to be able to afford to buy physical books
  • If I’ve read a heavy or sad book, I try to mix it up with some fantasy or light fiction
  • I don’t read a lot of non-fiction since those take longer to finish. However, this year I read more non fiction that any of the years before that and I’ll write a post on my non fiction reads in 2020 soon πŸ™‚
  • I also found that buddy reads, virtual book clubs, book discussion groups on discord and having your own little book community definitely helped in reading more and wanting to read more and keeping the fun of reading alive

I think those are some of the things I thought about at the top of my head on how I achieved my GR reading challenge goal this year. I hope I’m able to continue the streak or read even more next year πŸ™‚

If only I was a genius like Matilda πŸ™‚

So let me ask you now, how do you read so much? πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰

2020 Holiday Cheer(s)!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!! This message goes to posterity πŸ˜‰

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

(A shoutout to Tenet and Dark because I’m obsessed with time travel and philosophy apparently LOL)

I wanted to write a ‘What I did on Christmas in strange 2020‘, but I would’ve had to wait until tomorrow for that, and I wanted to wish everyone on my blog today. So change of plans…hehe

Christmas here started on a super note! It’s even better because its Friday! πŸ™‚ My daughter woke up and ran straight to check if Santa had left her a present, and well he had πŸ˜‰

Mom and I added our own cheer to Christmas morning, by making some hot chocolate and laughing for 20 minutes because I wanted to take Instagram pictures and Boomerang videos of us with our mugs and she kept saying, “why is my head nodding like this in the picture?” or “My hot chocolate will get cold!“. This was the final outcome which went on IG πŸ˜€

Moms are such munchkins!! πŸ™‚

We have a small Christmas get together planned in the evening, and I’m looking forward to some good food and cocktails. At first I was worried that it would be a bigger gathering, but the hosts culled the head count, so now its just three close families, which I’m more comfortable with πŸ™‚ I’m not sure how I feel about the alcohol these days. I have fond memories of partying and getting drunk, but age is catching up and well, alcohol doesn’t want to be my friend anymore it seems..sigh..

The best part of Christmas this year was that I got Secret Santa presents after ages!!! And I got books as presents! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ A huge THANK YOU to my secret Santas for sending me these beautiful books. I truly feel blessed πŸ™‚

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s memoir ‘On Writing‘ and learning some very useful tips on writing. I hope as the year rolls to an end, I can implement his advice and write more next year.

I’ve got many books on my Wishlist, but since I buy and collect books almost every month, I don’t think posting a list of my Christmas Wishlist for books will make any sense here..hehe πŸ˜€

So, on that note, have fun, eat, drink, hug your family and laugh with your friends this season! πŸ™‚ See you in the next post then! πŸ™‚

Blood of Stars Duology by Elizabeth Lim – Book Thoughts

Bookish Discussions:

What are some series that you felt started with a bang and had a lot of promise, but didn’t manage to live up to expectations?

Thoughts on Blood of Stars Duology:

When I read Spin the Dawn last year, I was bowled over. Many reviewers called it ‘Mulan meets Runway’, and rightly so. I loved the chemistry between the lead pair Maia and Edan, I loved the fact that it was Maia’s story and journey, I loved the journey she has to go through to make the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars, amidst the backdrop of political intrigue and magic. I loved the simple and dreamy narration style from the author and I loved the family dynamics between Maia, her father and her three brothers.

So, as expected from every reader, who is mesmerised by the first book of a series, the author had set the bar really high for herself with Spin the Dawn.

I had to wait a year and more to get a copy of the finale – Unravel the Dusk and finally read it and learned about the ending of Maia’s story. So many questions were unanswered from the first book and I definitely wanted to see Edan and Maia again. It didn’t help that the book distribution was delayed due to the Covid restrictions. But I finally finished reading the second book last week. And well, I was a little disappointed with the second book.

I feel terrible saying this, because in the author’s own words in the acknowledgements, I think she struggled in writing the second book too. I think when the hype becomes so high, it creates an unnecessary pressure on writers and as an aspiring writer, I can very well empathise with the pressure of following up to a hugely successful first novel. But as a reader, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed.

In hindsight, I think this duology could’ve very well be a single book, maybe slightly longer – 700 pages maybe?

The story is continued and we see more war and action scenes between the two warring emperors and also Maia’s constant battle raging within her good self vs the demon who is trying to consume her soul. I liked that Ammi gets a lot of presence in the second story and I really appreciated the focus on the platonic relationship between Ammi and Maia. But I felt like Maia wasn’t as invested in their friendship as Ammi was.

I was looking for more scenes with Lady Sarnai and Edan. Somehow I thought Lady Sarnai will have a pivotal role and while she does have an important role, it came too late in the story and didn’t feel enough πŸ™‚ I also missed Edan and Maia’s chemistry somehow, in the second book. Edan felt almost like an afterthought in most of the scenes.

I think overall the duology is good, and everyone should definitely read the first book – Spin the Dawn. I just wish, there was more to Unravel the Dusk, or maybe I’m being too harsh? I’d like to know your thoughts too, whether you felt the same, or if Im being overly critical of the follow up book? πŸ™‚