The House In The Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune – Thoughts

I have got to be a really lucky reader. Another 5-star read for me already! The House in the Cerulean Sea was the book club pick for the month for the Book Clinic book club. I am so glad I found this gem of a book and had a chance to read it. If you loved Wonder by RJ Palaccio or The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime by Mark Haddon, or the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, then this book will be a great pick for you πŸ™‚

It’s a straightforward story. The eternal fight between good vs evil, the underdog vs the system, the oppressor vs the oppressed. But what had me completely enamoured were the characters. And TJ Klune’s style of writing. I loved the self deprecating, satiric humour in the story. I loved the fact that although there were some very serious subjects that were being talked about through this story, it was narrated through the eyes of endearing characters and with such simplicity and light heartedness, that I didn’t feel like I had a headache or that everything sucked in the world, when I finished the book.

Because the book is about hope, love, friendships, redemption, finding your courage and coming out stronger than you believed you were. Also, how gorgeous is that cover?? (**heart eyes**)

There were so many notable and inspiring passages in the story that I think I ended up highlighting almost half of the book! πŸ˜€

I also have a new favorite – Linus Baker. I’m in love with Linus Baker’s character. What a gem of a person. The rest of the cast is equally interesting and unforgettable.

Read this book if you want to read something happy and come back a better person. Or read this book if you just want to check out a few prompts from your reading challenge because this story includes a range of them starting from – own voice authored story, positive LGBTQIA references, stories about magic and children, fiction, a book situated on an island, a book about overcoming prejudices or body shaming or accepting yourself, a book about kindness…you get the picture. The list is endless. πŸ™‚

I want to explore more of T.J. Klune’s work now. I should get into pre-ordering the next books that he’s going to release. πŸ˜‰

Bookish discussions:

Have you guys read this book? What was your favorite moment or quote from the book? I have so many, but here’s one I loved πŸ™‚

β€œI am but paper. Brittle and thin. I am held up to the sun, and it shines right through me. I get written on, and I can never be used again. These scratches are a history. They’re a story. They tell things for others to read, but they only see the words, and not what the words are written upon. I am but paper, and though there are many like me, none are exactly the same. I am parched parchment. I have lines. I have holes. Get me wet, and I melt. Light me on fire, and I burn. Take me in hardened hands, and I crumple. I tear. I am but paper. Brittle and thin.”

Sal (R.J. Klune) from The House In The Cerulean Sea

Do you think there will be a sequel to this book? I couldn’t find any mention of a sequel anywhere, but just wanted to check, since I didn’t want to miss the sequel if there was one πŸ™‚

The Shadow Glass (Bone Witch Trilogy #3) by Rin Chupeco – Thoughts

I’m in love. There, I’ve said it. It has been a while since a fantasy series held my heart since the Six of Crows duology and the Shades of Magic Trilogy. And now, I’m officially adding Rin Chupeco’s Bone Witch trilogy to my everlasting hall of favorite books/series to read! You will see me gushing about this series for a while to come now, since this series covers so much diversity in its content – a book written by a POC author (Rin Chupeco is from Philippines and her dedication in the beginning of the books and her acknowledgements at the end made me love her even more!) , a book/series representing a culture other than yours, books with LGBTQIA representation, books with strong sibling relationships, books with strong friendships, you name it, and this series has it.

But lets talk about the finale of this stupendous series. I cried. I already knew what was going to happen from the first book itself, and still I cried. This is the first time that I read a book or a series, where you’re given the ending or most of the shocking points leading up to the ending, from the first book itself. But the alternate timelines moving between present and past still had me completely hooked.

The finale continues Tea’s narration of the story, part in the letters she has written and provided to the Bard and part in person when she finally meets the rest of the crew in their battle against the villains in the story. A whole lot of twists and plots are revealed and I really hadn’t seen any of them coming. The ending was heartbreaking, but I don’t think I could have thought of a better way to wrap up Tea’s story. A lot of my favourites get their happy ending, and I think overall, the author leaves enough hints for readers to feel that the book has a happy ending for everyone involved. We even find out who the Bard is! There wasn’t a single open thread that wasn’t closed nicely in the finale. Thats what I call an enriching and satisfying read.

It will be hard for me to give a detailed review of the final book without giving away spoilers and I really want readers across the world to read this series and give it the love and fanfare that it deserves. Especially if you’re a fantasy buff.

I have added some hints as to some major events in the book, in the profile picture. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about πŸ™‚

Bookish discussions

Have you read the Bone Witch trilogy? If not, what are you waiting for? Please read them right now πŸ™‚

What is a book or series you’ve read recently from a culture other than yours, that you would highly recommend?

The ‘I Should Have Read That Book’ Tag

This Tag has been long due and I’m finally getting on to posting my answers for this tag πŸ™‚ I was tagged by Nikita @ Prose and Pancakes for this. Thank you for tagging me Nikita and I hope you enjoy reading my answers πŸ™‚ You guys should check out her blog for some really good book-ish discussion posts πŸ™‚

The Rules 

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post.
  • Link to theΒ creator’s blogΒ in your post
  • Answer the questions below
  • Tag 10 others to take part in the tag (I’ll cheat here a little and probably tag 3 bloggers:))
  • Enjoy the tag!

A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read

One of my friends has always been telling me to read ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover, but for some reason, I still haven’t gotten around to picking up this book. The blurb hasn’t captured my interest much, to take it to the top of my TBR.

A book that’s been on your TBR forever and yet you never read it.

The Calvin and Hobbes Complete Collection. I am such a fan of this cartoon strip, yet, I’ve never read the complete collection and I keep dreaming that one day I’ll buy or own the entire comic strip and then finally read it.

AΒ book in a series you’ve started and haven’t gotten around to finishing.

Oh there are quite a few, since one of my friends gifted me with the first for a couple of a series, but I haven’t been able to complete them. So I’ll mention one such series here, which I really want to finish and complete, just because I’ve enjoyed the first four books so much! I just have to get my hands on the kindle copy for the rest of the books I guess, since the libraries are closed here due to the pandemic lockdown. It’s the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett πŸ™‚

A classic you’ve liked the sound of, but have never actually read.

Another genre that I haven’t read enough of. I’ve been rectifying this one classic at a time since the last year, but you have to admit, its not easy to read a Classic πŸ™‚ However, I’ve recently read some really good ones, which despite their complex writing style, had me completely hooked. So one classic that I’d like to read next would either be the Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury or Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I even have a beautiful green soft leather cover version of the book, but alas, its stuck in my other house now, and I can’t read it unless I am back there, which doesn’t look like anytime soon. So illustrated man on kindle might be a more plausible option πŸ™‚

A popular book that everyone but you has read

This is a tough one. I feel there are so many books that others have read which are highly popular in the book community, and I haven’t read it yet. There might be many such books in all the genres. But the two that come to the top of my mind – Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead from the literary fiction genre and The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas from the YA Fantasy genre.

A book that inspired a film/TV adaptation that you really love, but just haven’t picked up yet

I recently started watching Lemony Snicket’s – A Series of Unfortunate Events, series on Netflix and enjoying it so much that I wished I had read the books first. This will be rectified soon I hope πŸ™‚

A book you see all over Instagram but haven’t picked up yet.

The current books that I’ve been seeing all over Instagram are Star Daughter and Hunted by the Sky. I’m waiting for my copy of Star Daughter to arrive by September, so soon, I wouldve picked it up and gushed over the beautiful cover as well! So excited!!! πŸ™‚

So, that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading this tag and I hope I’ll rectify my ‘should’ve read these books’ situation to ‘Yay! I’ve finally read all these books’ status πŸ˜‰ Although I’ve tagged a few bloggers below, please feel free to do this tag if you find it interesting and post your blog in the comments section below, so I can see your TBR and increase mine! πŸ˜€

I Tag:

Grace @ appelerunchat

Anna @ books and bookends

Bookish Ravenclaw

The Tiger At Midnight by Swati Teerdhala – Thoughts

I’m trying to diversify my reading by joining in different reading challenges hosted by awesome book bloggers. I might end up sticking to a particular genre more, but I’m happy I’m reading the same genre by diverse or own voice authors.

I picked up The Tiger at Midnight as part of one such readathon – The Indialitreadathon. This readathon started from 27th July and ends on 3rd August. There are different roles a reader can take on to participate in this readathon, but the basic premise is that you have to read a book by an Indian author.

One of the roles was that of a Scholar, where you read a book written by an Indian author, which is more than 400 pages long. As a side quest, the reader has to recommend three Indian authors or books by Indian authors to other readers.

Here are my thoughts on the book I picked for the readathon πŸ™‚

What I enjoyed about the book:

  • First of all, getting to read a fantasy written by an Indian author with Indian protagonists, world building that is very Indian, be it food, language, names, clothes, custom was a treat in itself. The book had some good Indian representation I felt.
  • The cat and mouse chase and banter between the two leading characters. I just adored every scene between Esha and Kunal
  • Esha’s fight scenes were really good. The way she crouches, ties up her saree, or uses her whip, had me completely picturing the scenes with her fighting. I wish I could see them on screen
  • It was complete entertainment from the word go. A fast paced plot that keeps you interested in the story throughout
  • Most Indian fantasy is based on mythology or adaptations of the same. But I liked this one, because it was original. Not sure if it is based on a mythology that I’m not aware of though
  • The first book has well wrapped ending, so even though its a trilogy, you can read the first book and choose not to read the second or third. No cliffhangers! yay πŸ™‚

What I didn’t enjoy as much:

  • The writing and the world building was a little simplistic for me. I’ve read some really good world building in fantasy, so I ended up comparing it sub consciously πŸ™‚
  • Although Esha and Kunal’s scenes kept me thoroughly entertained, I somehow couldn’t buy into their chemistry. Especially when I read about Esha and Harun. I had the same problem with the rest of the supporting characters. I felt like I couldn’t care about any of the characters and some characters were introduced too late in the story and we were just told that they are important to Esha, instead of really feeling it from the story
  • However, I think this is going to be a trilogy and this was just the first book. So maybe things get more interesting in the second and third books. For me however, I’m still debating if I will read the rest of the series or not..

Here are my three book recommendations (books written by Indian authors) for the side quest:) :

  1. The Queen of Jasmine Country by Sharanya Manivannan
  2. The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  3. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Bookish discussions with you guys:

If you’ve read Tiger at Midnight, do you think I should continue with the series, now that the second book is out too?

What are some books by Indian authors that you would recommend? Would love to hear in the comments πŸ™‚

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Thoughts

Another first for me. Not the length of the book, since I read Crescent City a month back, which was longer than 800 pages. But the author. My first read by Leo Tolstoy πŸ™‚

Im absolutely in love with this Barnes & Noble collector’s edition that I bought for this book! πŸ™‚

Have you read a book and found that while you were reading, you went through a gamut of emotions, starting from boredom, to anger, frustration, to being really interested in what is being discussed in the book, or suddenly getting invested in the characters who you didn’t like at first? A book where the plot had nothing new, but everything else written in between made a lot of sense and you just wanted to discuss everything written in the book with someone else? A book that somehow made you feel like you had become slightly more learned than when you started, but also made you wonder, there wasn’t anything new that was written in the book, so why didn’t I realise this earlier?

I think that’s the thing with books that we call Classics now. I have to be honest, I have a tough time getting into Classics on the oft chance that I pick one up. Even my beloved Pride and Prejudice, was hard to get into. Like the Liz Bennett scenes in Pride and Prejudice, I only wanted to read the parts with Anna Arkyadevna Karenin in this book. But like P&P, Anna Karenina isn’t just Anna’s story. In fact, she probably gets just 30% of the overall plot time. The story revolves around the relationships, lives and inward struggles of other characters too – such as Anna’s husband Alexey, her lover Vronsky, her brother Stepan, his wife Dolly, Dolly’s sister Kitty and her husband Levin. There are a lot many supporting characters that I can’t even remember now. So, it took time for me to get into the hang of the book.

There were parts when I wanted to shut down the book, or wondered, where is he going with this? Or where I was just plain bored because I was reading pages of observations. But there were more parts where I was so interested, that I re-read the paragraphs again, to savour what was written.

Leo Tolstoy touches upon a lot of subjects in this book:

  • Feminism – How infidelity is treated differently when done by a man versus when done by a woman. Strangely, even after years, looks like we haven’t changed much in our thinking
  • Socialism – A lot of arguments are presented in many passages, for, against and with different flavours of socialism. The overall tone seemed to be in favour of helping the working class by providing them with better opportunities, but everyone in the book agrees to some extent that there is no definitive right way to reach an ideal society where everyone is rewarded equally
  • Marital and Familial relationships – The major theme of this book is taking a deeper look into the mechanics of a family life. What happens to men when they marry and are expected to remain in a monogamous relationship and answerable to their wives all the time? When they are the sole provider for the family? What happens to women (at least in that society when women didn’t have many options) when their husbands start getting bored of the family life, or go astray, or when they realise that they’ve given up a major chunk of their lives and bodies being mothers and wives only? Is only motherhood sufficient to make a woman happy and satisfied with her life?
  • Death, Faith and Belief – Suicide is another common recurrence in the book. What drives a person to commit suicide? The search for answers and questions regarding the higher power are also put across with a lot of thought and the book actually ends on a nice positive note on the subject of faith and finding one’s place in life

There were a lot many subjects that were touched upon, but I’ll end up writing a two part blog review then if I write about all of that!

To me, this was a sad story. A tragic love story. The ending felt like an afterthought by the author, but I’ll have to read what other readers have written and thought about the ending, or the last part of the book to be able to form a better opinion. So although the overall story was a tragedy, the ending/last part of the book is a positive one and takes away some of the pain from the previous parts.

Overall, I think this book needs to be read with a buddy or as a book club read, savoured slowly like a glass of Whiskey. It takes time to get into, and you appreciate it better in small sips. After the third sip, the burn gives way to the smoothness of taste and the feeling that you’re in good company.

Bookish discussions

If you guys are reading or planning to read Anna Karenina and want to buddy read, please hit me up. I’d love to re-read and discuss with someone πŸ™‚

Have you read any other works by Leo Tolstoy? I’ve heard only about War and Peace other than this? Which did you prefer, if you’ve read both?

101 Stories in 101 Words : a collection of shorts by Neha Mediratta – Thoughts

Let me start with the good stuff:

1. Each story is just 101 words
2. If you’re on the India Kindle Unlimited, you can download it for free!
3. Even though the stories are short, some of them pack a punch with their endings

This collection of a 101 short stories was a treat to read. Especially if you’re into short stories, or are looking for a book by an Indian author, or want to support a new and upcoming author, or going through a reading slump and can’t keep your focus for longer than a paragraph, this is the book for you.

The stories touch upon a variety of subjects, so there isn’t a theme as such. Some stories are violent, some sweet. Each story is titled alphabetically. There is a small image attached to each story, but I couldn’t figure out the meaning behind the image. Maybe a question to ask the author one day πŸ™‚

A super short review/book thought keeping in line with the 101 worded short stories πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy the stories if you get around to reading them.

Recursion by Blake Crouch – Thoughts

But on a night like this, of a restless mind and dreams of ghosts, time feels secondary to the true prime moverβ€”memory. Perhaps memory is fundamental, the thing from which time emerges.

Barry Sutton, from Recursion (Author: Blake Crouch)

I read a science fiction book after ages. There was a time in my growing up years, when I was obsessed with X-Files and Micheal Crichton. Science fiction was the only genre I read for many years. Now I feel, like a lot of the science fiction I read back then, has turned into reality now. And it hasn’t even been that long. Sometimes knowing the speed and power with which science and technology are disrupting and changing our lives, makes me tremble with excitement and fear πŸ™‚

Coming to ‘Recursion’ by Blake Crouch. Another first for me. I haven’t read any of his previous works, but from reviews online, it seems that he has written a lot of amazing books, some which even have been adapted on screen. Some readers even felt that Recursion may not have been his best book, even though it has been nominated for quite a few reader’s awards in the sci-fi genre last year.

The story of Recursion at its heart is about the power of memories in our lives. Detective Barry Sutton and genius scientist Dr. Helena Smith are at the helm of this story. Helena creates a machine (a chair), which has the power of inserting a memory in the subject’s mind. Her study starts with the intent of helping patients with Alzheimers, but something happens, that results in a major breakthrough and changes reality as we know it. What happens after that, is pretty much the story.

I think as a species, we have always been fascinated with memories. Either via nostalgia, history, or by subconscious memories that turn up as dreams. Many science fiction shows are based on this – take many episodes from Black Mirror. What if we could relive our best memories, if we had that choice? There is an element of time travel and butterfly effect in the overall plot as well. Multiple timelines, multiple histories, but all resulting in some sort of the same ending. These are themes that have been my favorite too.

So, I really enjoyed the build up and the concept that the author explores in the story – memory and time. But I have to admit, that about 30% of the book towards the second half became really repetitive and frustrating for me, as a reader. I lost interest in those scenes and almost skim read to reach ahead, because nothing consequential was happening for a long time in the story. There were some moments towards the end, where the author muses about life, memories which redeemed some of that stalemate situation in the plot, but it didn’t feel adequate. Because the story and premise started with a bang, the ending felt flat to me – maybe a little too simple/easy? At least it was a sort of happy ending πŸ™‚

I plan to read more of the author’s books to get an idea about his other work, because I really enjoyed his thinking and style of writing in this book.

Bookish discussions

Have you guys read Recursion? Or any other book by Blake Crouch? Would you recommend any other book that I should check out, by this author?

What is your take on memory? If we had the technology to revisit our past, would you take that option, or would you let the past be, and create more memories from the present for the future?

Stay at Home Series – Episode 6 : Five Fashion Concepts/Designs

I was watching this episode on ‘Fast Fashion’ by Hasan Minhaj from his super entertaining show – The Patriot Act on Netflix, when this idea hit me!

I’m not into clothes (no I don’t walk around naked, you pervert :P). I just mean, shopping for clothes has never been a priority. If I could manage, I’d literally live in a pair of pyjamas or maybe two – to wash and alternate. But I do know about the love and satisfaction many of my closest friends from all genders get when they buy fashionable clothes. Its the same feeling I get when I buy and hoard new books πŸ˜€

So I thought I’d be philanthropic and just throw my superb fashion concepts and ideas to all the retailers out there to come up with their new ‘2020-2021 pandemic line‘. I don’t know if they’ll be eco-friendly, but they’re definitely feminist – big on gender equality, since everyone can wear them, or rather will have to wear them if they want to go out πŸ˜‰

I apologise for not having any graphics to give you a better picture, so I hope you’ll just read and let your imagination fly! πŸ˜‰

  1. The mask-tops : Get them in all colours and in turtleneck or boat neck styles. Masks will be attached to the neck of the garment so you can cover your mouth and nose with the neck of your top! Stylish, color coordinated and saves you the hassle of having to dangle another mask by your ears!
  2. The Sani-belt: No, not sanitary napkins. These will be the new in-vogue belts, in different sizes, shapes, designs, with or without bling, but with a holster, where you’ll keep those germ killing sanitisers! So buy that bling-y belt, wrap it around your dress/pants, hit that club/playground and sing, “PUMP IT! Harder!!” Now you’ll never forget your hand sanitisers or be worried about fishing it from that black hole of a bag!
  3. The glove-hand tops/shirts: Airport travel? Hanging out at a crowded place? Sweaty hands? We’ve got you covered! Now our tops will have detachable extended sleeves with finger fittings. So you can just slip on those snug gloves and not have to carry those strange surgical gloves and forget you’re not a surgeon πŸ˜‰
  4. The Devi-hands accessory: Inspired by the many hands of the super amazing kickass Goddesses from our mythology. These hands will be the new necklaces. Choose from a set of two extra hands to ten! Now you can use one set to scratch your nose, another to gobble that gupchup/golgappa/panipuri/puchka, and another for holding your toddler’s hand! The germs won’t even realise what hit them!
  5. The veil accessory: Never knew veils would be back in fashion eh? Oh sorry, we already have them out in the market in different forms – home made, designer, eco friendly, cheap plastic – they’re called masks these days πŸ˜›

I could come up with these so far, considering my brain seems to be functioning in strange ways (bordering hysteria and madness), during the new normal. I come up with jokes and ideas like the above and torment my family, while laughing hysterically like those evil villains. So I thought I should also torment strangers on the internet. I hope you guys were tormented or laughing hysterically – I’m praying its the latter, for my sake πŸ˜€

Random discussions

Please add on your ideas on the new fashion concepts in the comments too! The crazier, the better!

If you’re a retailer or a fashion designer and you like my ideas, I’d like a commission so I can retire πŸ˜‰

If you were offended by anything I wrote, I’m sorry ..I was just kidding πŸ™‚

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J Maas – Thoughts

Through love, All is possible….

– Crescent City #1, Sarah J Maas

This is my first book by author Sarah J Maas and I am floored. It didn’t matter that it was an 800 page behemoth of a book, the longest book Ive read so far. Because the story just flew through. I felt like I was watching a fantasy show on Netflix! πŸ™‚

Trigger warnings: Death, abuse, gore, drugs, addiction

In this adult fantasy story, the first one from the Crescent City series, we follow our two main protagonists – Bryce Quinlan – half human half fae and Hunt Athalar – angel turned slave, team up to solve a gruesome murder case. Add in a missing relic, shape shifters, werewolves, Prince, a witch Princess, a 400 year old witch, many other angels in the backdrop of a brewing civil war between the humans and the beings with power, this book was one hell of a rollercoaster ride.

It took me a while to get a hang of all the different creatures in the story. I actually had to draw out the characters, the seven heads, and all the bits and pieces of information that is provided in the beginning of the book, to get it all straight in my head. But once you get a hang of it, the rest of the story quickly falls into place.

There were some difficult parts for me in the story though. One of them is mentioned in the trigger warning too and I can’t talk about it in the review post, without giving away spoilers. But those scenes made me tear up many times in the book. I read at night these days, before going to bed, and there were a few nights when I cried thinking about how much I missed my dad too. At least, it helped me remember him even more πŸ™‚

The ensemble cast was well written. Everyone gets a reasonable amount of story space to show their history and a bit of their personality. However, Bryce’s character stands out the most. I was impressed with how SJM brings to light the way we treat and judge women on the basis of their clothes or their lifestyle, without even getting to know them. High time we stop doing that, isn’t it? πŸ™‚ Girls like to have fun just like everyone else – what’s wrong with that?

I was dreading that this will be one of those books with a cliffhanger, because most series have that. But I’m happy to say that its not, so if you don’t like books ending in cliffhangers, this one is definitely for you! There will be more books in the series and I’m wondering if the next stories will continue Bryce and Hunt’s journey or will each book feature different protagonists in the lead. I’d like it to be the latter since I want to read more about some of the supporting cast in the story too πŸ™‚ Also, wasn’t Syrinx the cutest!! And Lehabah..respect. That one particular scene reminded me of Rue’s scene from The Hunger Games – goosebumps.

Bookish Conversations πŸ™‚

Have you read this book yet? I’d love to read your thoughts as please leave behind a link of your review in the comments section if you feel like it πŸ™‚

What do you think the next books in the series will contain? More of Bryce and Hunt or more of some other characters – like Ruhn and Hypaxia or Fury and Juniper?

Have you read any other books from Sarah J Maas? Are they equally fast paced and filled with action? Which one would you recommend to read? πŸ™‚

Celebrating StoryFest 2020 at StoryADay

Calling all readers and writers! Story a day will be hosting StoryFest 2020 this weekend, June 27-28. Short stories from a variety of genres by different writers – some experienced, some amateur, will be available to read for free during this period πŸ™‚

If you’re interested in reading some short stories for free, do head over to the website on the coming weekend, and support the writers with your comments, feedback or simply by reading πŸ™‚