Reviewing Romances – Take a Hint Dani Brown and Call Me By Your Name

Bookish Discussion:

Do you read romance novels? If yes, what kind of romances do you prefer reading? Contemporary, regency, funny, quirky, new age, rom com?

Thoughts on Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Oh I so love Talia Hibbert’s romances! I mean I’m a newbie to her books and before this I have only read, Get a Life Chloe Brown, but I loved both the books so much!

In the second book about the love life of the Brown sisters, we see the nerdy, aromantic, bisexual, plus sized heroine Danika Brown struggle with her feelings for rugby player Zaphir Ansari, who in many ways is her opposite because he loves romance and romance novels but also has his own battles with anxiety and depression.

The banter between the lead pair, between both the protagonist’s families and best friends is as funny and entertaining as the first book and the romance itself. I really loved the second book and highly recommend it if you’re looking for an easy and feel good romance novel that isn’t sappy at all and breaks a lot of stereotypes πŸ™‚

Thoughts on Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

What? Two romances back to back? heheh

In hindsight, maybe I shouldve read this before I read the fast paced dialogue heavy Dani Brown romance because it took me a while to get a hang of the narrative style in this book. There’s very little dialogue and sometimes the scenes and the narrator’s thoughts, although beautiful and romantic and melancholic, felt repetitive.

All that said, once you overcome these hiccups, its really a lovely and heartbreaking love story of Elio and Oliver. The description of the summer days in Italy and Rome, where the story is set is simply breath taking! I wish I can be part of such gatherings, lazy summer days of biking and swimming, summer evenings of discussing books, long dinners, conversations, music and love, one day too πŸ™‚

The famous peach scene was not of my taste, but if you like explicit descriptions in your romance, this is definitely one to read.

I picked up this book to read after I saw the trailer of the movie with Sam Smith’s Fire on Fire playing in the background and I love Armie and Timothee so much that I had to read the book πŸ™‚ Now I cant wait to watch the movie..

So have you read any of these books? Which one would you pick if you had to choose one? πŸ™‚

Four Years of Blogging on WordPress!!

I just wanted to write this post to acknowledge my four year blogging anniversary with WordPress. I have been blogging since long before, almost ten years now. I was on blogspot earlier, before moving to WordPress. But I feel like the journey of blogging has been a really big and important part of my life all of these years. Yes, the platform has changed, yes my content has diversified, yes the technology has become fancier, but the way I feel when I write about something and the way I feel when some stranger reads my thoughts and tells me that they hear me, hasn’t changed a bit πŸ™‚

So a big thank you for all the friends I’ve made so far via the blogging platform on WordPress. You can’t imagine how much some of your comments mean to me. A big thanks to all the people who take time to read about my random ramblings about travel, life and books πŸ™‚ And a big thanks to WordPress for giving me a platform to write and share my thoughts πŸ™‚ I hope to keep writing for many more years to come and I hope to make many new friendships via this writing journey.

My Posts four years back

My first post : Trip to Diveagarh

My first book review post: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Book Reviews – Mexican Gothic and Anxious People

Bookish Discussion:

Have you read a book that scared you more psychologically than paranormally?

Have you read a book that was actually felt like going to therapy?

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia : Thoughts/Review

This book was a part of the Spooky read October month, but I managed to finish it only in the first week of Nov.

The story definitely has all the spooks – the gothic setting of the manor at High Place, eerie characters with the creepy Howard Doyle, the handsome and unsettling Virgil Doyle, the timid Francis Doyle and the stern and uptight Frances Doyle. It definitely isnt an easy task for our protagonist Noemi to figure out what is haunting her sister and how to solve it.

There are a lot of themes that I’m afraid of as a person that the author uses to scare her readers with – both psychological such as claustrophobia and insanity as well as paranormal such as ghosts.

I listened to the audio book for this and I think my only problem was the pacing of the plot. I found it a little slow for my liking. But maybe that’s how gothic horror novels are supposed to be?

It felt very similar to the Turn of the screw on which the Netflix Haunting of Bly Manor is based. I read the audiobook version of the book so maybe that’s what made it slower?

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

We cant change the world, and a lot of the time we cant even change the people. No more than one bit at a time. So we do what we can to help whenever we get the chance. We save those we can. We do our best. Then we try to find a way to convince ourselves that that will just have to…be enough. So we can live with our failures without drowning.

Jack’s Mum (aka Fredrik Backman) from Anxious People

This was my first read by Fredrik Backman, and honestly speaking? I think I’m in love with the author’s brain, and the way he thinks. I felt like I got a much needed therapy for free. Well, the book did cost me, but lets call it extremely budget friendly therapy πŸ™‚

I couldn’t exactly figure out what the story was about. Maybe it was about a bank robbery? Or a hostage drama? Or about love and life and death? About friendship and loneliness? Or maybe like the author says, the story is just about a bunch of idiots? Whatever it was, when I finished reading the last page of the book, I realised, I didn’t want this story to end. I wanted to keep reading about Anna Lena and Roger, about Jack and Jim, about Julie and Ro, about Nadia, Zara and Lennart, about the bank robber and the monkey and the frog. I wanted to live in that apartment with them. Because it felt like they were friends. Like they would understand my anxiety about nothing and say just the right things πŸ™‚

The book helped me understand my mother a bit better. It helped me deal with my husband a bit better. It helped me feel slightly less guilty about not being the perfect parent. It helped me ‘feel’ something for strangers after ages. It helped me smile a bit more. It told me that in a world full of bleakness, even a small act of kindness can go a long way. You can never know how something inconsequential you’ve done one day, can change someone’s life.

I loved the translation and the simple, light hearted and heart warming narration in the book. If this is the way Fredrik Backman writes all his books, I can’t wait to dive into all of them πŸ™‚

Life Diaries and Reading Wrap Up – October 2020

October has been such an amazing month. I read a lot and I even went out and I met with some family and friends and we celebrated Durga Puja and Halloween with a closed group, lockdown style. In a nutshell it was as good as it could getπŸ™‚

Books I read β˜ΊοΈπŸ“š

I read the below books as part of the Scaredycatreadathon reading challenge:

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Ridell. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Dragon Republic by R F Kuang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Besides these, I read the below books as part of book club picks or recommendations from friends ☺️

  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • A curse so dark and lonely by Brigid Kimmerer ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • These, Our bodies possessed by light by Dharini Bhaskar ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Life and fitness updates

  • I didn’t run at all in the month of October because it was too hot and I was starting to get headaches after my runs. So I decided to give that a break. Instead I went on a lot of walks in the park with my family and did a lot of Zumba at homeπŸ™‚
  • We couldn’t celebrate Durga Puja at all this time and it was quite depressing because that’s a big festival for us. However we did meet with a few close family members and we did eat a lot of delicious food πŸ˜‰πŸ˜
  • We celebrated Halloween as well. Well basically my daughter celebrated Halloween by dressing up as her favourite witch character and celebrating it as part of her online class celebrations πŸ§™β€β™€οΈ
  • These adorable chicks gave us a short visit on one of the days and it was the best Saturday morning ever!πŸ’–
  • And finally we also went on this really amazing trip to Deras Dam and went on a short forest ride through the Chandaka forest reserve in Bhubaneswar. It was so beautiful, peaceful and green and was such a balm for the soul and the eyes during these difficult times πŸ™‚

So that was a shortish wrap up of my October ☺️

How was your October? Did you read some really spooky books? πŸ§Ÿβ€β™€οΈ

Did you go out or stay indoors?

Did you work out or reach any of your goals?

I’m still trying to figure out my plans for November and I did want to participate in the Nanowrimo this year but I have an injury and I am not sure how I’m going to be writing so let’s see how that works out πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ™ƒ

These, Our Bodies Possessed by Light by Dharini Bhaskar – Thoughts

Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake

and dress them in warm clothes again

How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running

until they forget that they are horses

It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,

it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio,

how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days

were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple

to slice into pieces.

Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it’s noon, that means

we’re inconsolable.

Tell me how all this, and how love too, will ruin us.

These, our bodies possessed by light.

Tell me, we’ll never get used to it.

Poem ‘Scheherazade’ by Richard Siken (Crush)

Every once in a while, you stumble across a book, that sings to you. You read many books, some take you on an adventure, some make you fall in love, some make you laugh, some make you cry, some shatter your heart and some are just not worth your time. But then, in your journey through many such beautiful books, you come across those few books, that sing to you. That talk to you, whisper into your mind, telling you, “I know you and I know your heart.”

I love reading books without reading about their reviews or the story. I go in, not expecting anything. And I absolutely love it when a book surprises me so much and in such a great way. I’ve been trying to make my way through the JCB shortlist titles this year, and its no wonder that this was one of the books that has been shortlisted for the JCB Prize. It absolutely deserves it and has become one of my favorite books this year.

In this story, narrated by one of the central characters – Deeya, we travel through the lives, loves, desires and heartbreaks of three generations of women – Deeya’s grandmother Ammama, her mother and the story of the three sisters – Tasha, Ranja and Deeya.

If you liked narration and stories like Circe, this is definitely a book I would recommend. It is like a soothing bed time secret story for women, narrated by women. I felt a pull towards the story and Deeya’s thought process especially because I found so many similarities in the way we think. Throughout the story, there is the constant push and pull that each of the protagonists experience between their personal desires, their inner conflicts and what society expects from women in general.

I have highlighted many passages in the entire book and I can’t stop recommending it enough. I’d recommend this book highly if you’re a woman, and even more if you’re an Indian woman, are married or somewhere in between, are lost between what you want and what others want you to want. The book doesn’t give you any answers as such, but it gives you friendship. When you read it, you feel, through these characters, that you’re not alone, in the way you feel πŸ™‚

Have you read this book or any of the other JCB Prize shortlists this year? Which have been your favorite and what were your thoughts regarding this book and especially the ending? πŸ™‚

Stay At Home Series – Episode 8: When the Gods went on a vacation

Photo by Binti Malu on Pexels.com

My daughter finished her online class, which actually means I finished her online class, since four year olds have the attention span of a Dory fish.

Then she looked at me with an exasperated expression and said, “When will this Corona virus end??

I don’t know sweetheart..but I’m sure it will be soon“, I assured her with a placating smile that most parents put up when they’re lying to their children.

Are you praying to your Gods, bache?“, my 65 year old mom asks from across the table. She addresses my daughter as bache most of the time, an endearing way of saying, child.

Yes! I do! Every day! I don’t know why God won’t help me or listen to my prayers?!“, she sounds even more frustrated now. Her eyebrows arched up like that of an actress showing discontent, and her tiny little mouth scrunched up, making the overall effect quite adorably comic.

It’s because the Gods have packed up and gone on a vacation. They decided we were a bunch of naughty children and they were tired of our fake prayers. So they decided to take a break and go on a vacation“, I said, because being the agnostic in the family, I couldn’t blatantly tell my daughter I don’t believe in Gods, the way my extremely pious and religious mom does. Also, children always believe in Gods. They’re magical. I used to believe in them too. Until I grew up.

But mummy!!! There are sooooo many Gods! I prayed to at least 5 Gods in grandma’s puja room! Surely, not all of them have gone on vacation!“, she cant believe they’re not listening to her prayers and making the virus magically disappear.

Yes darling, they’ve all gone on a vacation and are having a big party!

My mom looks cross at me. She’s throwing dagger eyes at me. I ignore her.

Don’t listen to mummy, bache. She doesn’t know better. I’m sure Gods are listening to you and soon the virus is going to go away. And then schools will start and you’ll get to meet your teachers again, and meet your friends and go to school!!“, my mom assures her darling grand daughter about the power of Gods. She sounds really convinced and excited. Maybe my daughter gets her dramatic abilities from my mom, I think.

My daughter is quite for a whole minute, before she speaks and says…

Oh, its OK. I don’t want the Gods to return from their vacation anytime soon. I can go to school later too…no problem. I can be nice to the Gods. I don’t want the virus to go away…

Sigh…Clearly, not having to go to school trumps making the virus go away.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation, which truly took place. I’d love to hear about the funny things your children are talking about during this lockdown, in the comments section πŸ™‚

Five Book recommendations from my nearly five year old

My daughter is four and a half years old and loves being read to. I think I’ve already achieved my parenting goals. Now only if this continues as she grows up πŸ˜‰

Child experts say that you should communicate with your children like equals. So I took that literally and asked my daughter to choose five of her favorite books and tell me why she loves them. And this is what she picked..

You and Me Always by Caroline Pedler and Stephanie Moss

What my daughter loves about it: Because the dog is so cute mummy!! I really want a dog like him..pleeeeassee??!!

Why I recommend it: Adorably illustrated, the story is a great book to read about the special bond of friendship between dogs and humans

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

What my daughter loves about it: Because now I know Unicorns are real. It says so in the book!

Why I recommend it: As it says on the cover of the book, this is a story about believing in yourself and your dreams. No matter what others tell you, your dreams will lead you somewhere magical one day.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

What my daughter loves about it: Did you see mummy? (between giggles) How did he throw a whale up there?? (More giggles)

Why I recommend it: I just love Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations and story writing style. In this book, he talks about never giving up. You may not get what you set out for, but you’ll definitely get something good.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

What my daughter loves about it: Look at all the silly faces the crayons make mummy!! (lots of giggles)

Why I recommend it: Talk about writing a children’s book about inclusivity! I love the way the crayons have voices in this book and how they want to break out of their stereotypes. I remember writing on a similar prompt, about a purple crayon. It’s a great writing exercise too.

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb

What my daughter loves about it: Paper Dolls!! Can we make some too mummy??

Why I recommend it: Well, Julia Donaldson can’t go wrong. I love her Gruffalo series and what the ladybird heard series. But we found this gem and my daughter loved this story about pretend play and how some things never die, and always live on in our memories πŸ™‚

I hope you enjoyed these recommendations from a four year old. I thought they were great reads for 4-5 year old children. I would love to hear your child’s favorite books in the comments, so I can bring more books for my little girl to read πŸ™‚


Rotis are round and Parathas are triangular

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro on Pexels.com

It all started when my cousin sister and I were making rotis/chapatis/Indian bread in the kitchen, as was the norm these days. No wait, it actually started on the night when my sister was trying her best to turn the round blob of play dough, oh sorry, I meant wheat dough, into triangular shapes, because that’s the shape you’re supposed to cook parathas in.

Luckily I had the easier job of just roasting them over the fire and the pan. Yay..

After the third paratha and spending another ten minutes on trying to shape it like a perfect triangle, but failing and turning it into something that looked like a cross between a turnip and India’s map, she was flustered and remarked, “Why the hell should parathas be triangular in shape??? I mean, isn’t it enough that women are always stuck in the kitchen and that our cooking is complex enough as it is, that they had to go and define shapes for the breads we eat??!! I mean, pray tell me, what is the scientific value of taking small balls of dough – making them round and flat first – and then folding and refolding them like a fucking piece of origami, until it forms the perfect triangle, so that we can eat the bloody parathas??”

She did have a point. So I decided to add fuel to the fire – favourite Hindi serial (TV series) quote, usually said by evil plotting woman in the show, because, only women are evil. Didn’t you know?

Exactly? I mean, isn’t it enough that we have to knead, dough, roll, flatten, roast to optimal capacity to cook our daily rotis, that we had to add shapes for them too? Who the hell decided that rotis should be gol/round and parathas should be triangular??”

My cousin nodded in agreement. It felt like we were going to bring about a revolution in the kitchen.

Yeah! I say we make the rotis irregular in shape. And the parathas will be heart shaped!

Why heart shaped?“, I asked a little concerned.

Because they’re not good for the heart. Too much of it. At least this will act as a reminder to eat fewer parathas and have a scientific justification for its shape!”, my cousin replied, looking very convinced.

Later that night, my mom and daughter and husband were served turnip and heart shaped parathas. They didn’t even notice and ate it all up. πŸ™‚

Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Why is our cooking so complex? Why are there so many processes involved and why is there a need for such precision for presentation? Ok, for a second let me even accept that food is an art and presentation means respecting the food. India is a tropical country, food needs to be prepped and cooked more here. That spending time on your food would mean better health for you.

But then, when we have advanced so much, why not make some processes simpler? Or cut down some processes? Surely, the shape of things shouldn’t matter in the pursuit of good food and good company right? Surely, these steps weren’t just added by men to keep their women restricted to the kitchen, right?

**This post was first published on starryeyedenigma blog**

October 2020 TBR

Why are there soooo many amazing books releasing in the last quarter of the year??!!! I’m stuck in every book lover’s dilemma – the question of how to read all of these books in the limited time that I have. Any great magical solutions guys? I’m all ears πŸ˜€

I know we’re already almost halfway through October and to think that I’ve not even tackled half of my TBR this month! Magic! I need some serious magic in my life. So here’s a list of all the books I want to read in October πŸ™‚

  • The Scaredycat readathon selections (also subject to change, based on delivery of actual books)
    • Prompt 1: Books that you’re scared of reading (due to any reason)
      • I chose The Dragon Republic for this one, because it will serve two objectives. One, Ill be able to finish it as part of the October month reading schedule for The Poppy War readathon, and two, the prompt since I’m sure Im going to be in tears by the end of this book
    • Prompt 2: Books that you’re scared into reading, because FOMO:
      • Throne of Glass – I might have to read this on kindle though, but super excited because I’m buddy reading this with a friend. However, I’m not sure if we will actually start it this month!
      • The Graveyard Book – I actually just finished this one and loved it! The only book I’ve managed to finish this month..ahem
    • Prompt 3: Books that you’re scared by (like actual spooky stuff)
      • I picked Mexican Gothic for this one. I really wanted to read the hardcover, but looks like I’ll have to settle for the kindle version of the book
  • Unravel the Dusk – Book 2 of the Spin The Dawn duology and I’m really looking forward to buddy read this with an amazing group of readers! I also have the hardcover of the book, so it couldn’t get better πŸ™‚
  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely – I received the paperback last week and will be reading this as the BooksOnToast book club pick for the month πŸ™‚
  • These, our bodies possessed by Light – Another JCB shortlist title that I own and really need to read
  • Anxious People – This would be my first Frederick Backman and readers have said nothing but super reviews about the book and I can’t wait to dive into this one!
  • The Bone Shard Daughter – Now this is one that I’ll have to take a call on. I ordered the physical copy of the book from a bookstore, but it seems it won’t reach me this month. But the book is also a pick of The Book Clinic’s book club BOTM and I do want to dive into the discussions. Should I also get a kindle copy or listen to it on StoryTel or Audible?
  • Light Fantastic – This is the second book from the discworld series and funnily, the one I skipped because I went straight ahead to read Equal Rites and Mort after I finished The Colour of Magic. Also, this is Sharin’s pick for The Shiny Happy book club this month, so will be double the fun to dive into the crazy world of disc world characters again! And then, when I return back to Pune, I’d have Sourcery waiting for me πŸ˜‰
  • Hyperbole and a Half – A dear friend introduced this book to me two days back and we decided to buddy read it rightaway! And I’m having such a laugh reading it so far! It’s a total blast!

So, there you go. It’s 12th October today so I technically have 20 days to read 10 books. Which means, two books a day. Magic, I tell you. I need some magic in my life..LOL πŸ˜€

What do you guys think? Can I read all the books I’ve set out to read? Do you also have an equally lofty reading goals this month?

Life Diaries and Reading Wrap Up – Sep 2020

Can you believe it, this is my first life diary and reading wrap up post in 2020? Shudder.. Well, because 2020 has been such a shit year in general, it was hard to write a life diary entry without sobbing or whining my heart out. I could have done a reading wrap up though. Reading has been a saviour so far in 2020.

Trips I made in September:

I went to the park to run, I went to the beach in Konark, in Odisha with my family to enjoy the sun and sand and I went on a road trip to Rourkela in Odisha. All the trips were like a balm to the soul πŸ™‚

Books I read:

I read 9 books in September and most of them were part of the Coffee Readathon Challenge prompts. I had such a brilliant month of reading in September though πŸ™‚ You can check out the books I read for The Coffee Readathon here, where I have updated my original post with the books I actually ended up reading for the prompts πŸ™‚

  1. Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman – Such a fun children’s book about imagination!
  2. Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar – Netgalley copy and another super children’s illustrated book promoting LGBTQIA rights
  3. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu. Review here
  4. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Review here
  5. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Ju. Review here
  6. Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu. Review here
  7. The Poppy War by R.F Kuang – My favorite read for the month. Review here
  8. Darius the Great is not OK by Adib Khorram – Favorite feel good read. Review here
  9. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. Review here

Other highlights in September:

  1. It was my birthday month and I had such a special birthday! I was completely pampered, got to eat a lot of delicious home cooked food and was loaded with presents and book presents from family and friends! Couldn’t have asked for anything else..except for the corona virus to go away. LOL!
  2. I couldn’t run much though, because it rained on most of the days here. Instead, I replaced running with a lot of dancing, dance workouts and Zumba at home..It has been super fun so far!
  3. I joined in The Poppy War readathon hosted by Nandini (Novels and Nebula) and Krisha (Bookathonblog) and we read The Poppy War in September, and I was absolutely blown over by R F Kuang’s writing and the entire concept of the book!

Considering everything else, I think September was a great month! I did almost everything I love doing πŸ™‚ And made new friends and enjoyed the beach and the sun! πŸ™‚

How was your month of reading in September?

What are the things you are doing to manage your mental health?