Posted in My Bibliothèque, Non Fiction

{ Book Review } – Like a Girl by Aparna Jain!

Like A GirlLike A Girl by Aparna Jain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up Like A Girl after coming across a post by Shikha of @chicabeingme who is one of the 26 wonderful illustrators who has worked on the lovely illustrations in the book about 56 amazing women from vastly diverse backgrounds from across India. Picked it up last night and sprinted through these amazing women, picking up again today after lunch because I couldn’t wait. Like A Girl has been penned for everyone, as a bedtime reading for the young as well as for adults like me who are looking to रफू ( darn ) some holes in my awareness about the amazing icons from India who happen to be female. I almost typed ‘female’ icons earlier but hit backspace because they are icons to all of us and not just other women. There are names on the list that you will recognise at a glance, historical figures, sportswomen, artists, activists and more. And their tales are told with a beautiful personal touch to each with a manner that kids would find inspiring and adults would find endearing. But just like not all triumphs have to be professional or academic, some can be deeply personal and private, some of these women have emerged as heroes in a manner we don’t always identify as a win. And therefore, the parts that left me more significantly awed and overwhelmed were the ones on Bhanwari Devi, Shah Bano Begum, Rashida Bi and Champa Devi Shukla, Gauri Sawant, Dayamani Barla, Birubala Rabha and Irom Sharmila Chanu. I am sure I am missing quite a few names here but that is what you have to read the book for. 🙂

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Posted in Fiction, ManBooker LongList 2017, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy!

The Ministry of Utmost HappinessThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Since I have officially given up trying to read the remaining 4 books of ManBooker Longlist 2017, let me at least attempt to pen down my thoughts about the ones I managed to read. I am almost afraid to type this because it is most definitely an unpopular opinion that I am going to voice. Hence, the disclaimer –  Maybe, it is just me. It was such a huge letdown that it slightly hurts to dissect. And therefore I will try my best to not pick at it much. My biggest grouse with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is that it has too many characters, like an Indian Soap Opera. This is not always a bad thing, but in case of this book, it prevented me from warming up to its central characters. Almost all of the book, to me, is a dense, slow-moving, and hastily strung together jumble of the author’s political views and anecdotes with “names changed to protect privacy” kind of modifications. And funnily, they seemed to have been made to make recognition even easier. It would have been impactful if the book was peppered with them all over the story rather than the story being peppered in between by, an almost venomous at times, mockery of pretty much everything about the country. It is not the unfairness or fairness of it that is the problem, not at all, it is the frequency and sheer volume of it that strains the reader’s nerves. It might work in an editorial of a newspaper, but certainly not in a work of fiction, especially one that had the potential of blooming beautifully, to begin with. I see no point in stealing the spotlight from the narrative to make a political statement in a beautifully set up work of fiction. Sadly, it doesn’t live up to its promise of developing into a beautiful tale in the forthcoming pages.

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Posted in Kitchen 101, Recipes

Stuffed Parantha Masala!

Finally getting around to updating this recipe on the blog. I tried this recipe on a dear dear friend Anuja’s, recommendation and loved the fresh flavour it brought to my paranthas. A few pointers before you try this recipe. This is not meant to be radically different from YOUR way of seasoning the parantha filling. If you @ me in your comments cooing “Oh but I do it this exact way all the time! ” with an implied “There is nothing new here!”  then well, I am sincerely delighted for you ( no sarcasm here ) but FAIR warning, I am going to ignore your comment. You might as well stop reading further right now, right away. I don’t mean to claim that this is the best seasoning in the world, nor is it revolutionary. I liked something and I am sharing this for the interest of people who showed interest and who were up for trying out something new for fun, not for people who want to make it a competition about whose masala is better. It is only for folks who are curious. You might already be using 80% of the ingredients I mention here. With that out of way, I will get to the good things. I added this to a potato stir fry I made and it tasted excellent, a fresh flavour to my good, but always tasting the same Aloo ki Sabzi. I have a gut feeling, it will taste great on roasted veggies too. I have tried to recreate/reverse engineer this using the list of ingredients I read on the pack of a store-bought Parantha Masala from MDH. I haven’t used all the ingredients mentioned on the pack though, because I like to use things like ginger garlic in its fresh form. I will share more of my experiments with it on Instagram! Cheers!

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Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, My Bibliothèque, WarTime Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale!

I have already talked about my newfound for love magical realism in my review of The Bear and the Nightingale. Stories with magicians and monsters are charming, but what I have realised recently is how much I love stories that talk about magical that is invisible to the naked eye. The kind of magic that exists only in the mind of someone who believes in it. For everyone else, it is just another feature of our mundane lives. And it is the magic of toys that Robert Dinsdale’s The Toymakers delves into. Of course, one could argue that the toys described in Papa Jack’s Emporium are indeed different from the ordinary toys we see around us. In my opinion, that you missing the point. To a certain extent, every toy is just a toy. A rubber duck or a stuffed rabbit is only a rubber duck or a stuffed for everyone else other than the child who has a special relationship with it. It is the power of belief that separates the believer and sceptic. And that is what makes The Toymakers magical in my opinion. Because it is intended for the child, that burrows deep into the psyche of every cynical adult.

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Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – Pottermore Presents Short Stories from Hogwarts by J K Rowling!

So, I stumbled across these by chance on Amazon and like an old faithful, I had to get it. About these eBooks, they are collections of articles from Pottermore peppered more than generously with insights from J. K Rowling about her thoughts and rationale on why she named and shaped certain characters the way she did. But even for a seasoned Pottermore lurker like me, some of the information was a revelation. I have made my peace with the fact that there is never going to be something as amazing as the 7 books again in the Potter Universe ( Sorry fans of Fantastic Beasts, but that is how it is for me! ). But each of these books had something interesting that adds to my appreciation of how beautifully the Magical World mirrors the Muggle World. Let me talk about my favourite parts of each of this books now.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Short Stories

{ Book Review } – The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier!

The Birds and Other StoriesThe Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you need any proof of how amazing Daphne du Maurier’s writing is, do give The Birds and Other Stories a go. I don’t need that reassurance though, I have already jumped over the boundaries of blind faith in her writing by this point. But, still, every du Maurier story gives me high, honestly! Yes yes, you can roll your eyes and say that I have caught the revival bug, but I am just glad that I found her work even if I found it this late in my life. Because it is simply amazing!  Also, her writing lends itself to cinematic experience so naturally. Even as I was reading the first story of this anthologies, I found myself thinking about how amazing the story would be when turned into a movie. It was only later that I learnt that several of her works have been adapted to the silver screen by Hitchcock. While my opinion of the movie The Birds is not as amazing as its story, I still am a huge fan of the book. In any case, as one read The Birds, one realises how vivid are the images that form in your mind even as you are reading it. As bizarre as it might sound,  The Birds was indeed an extremely “visual” experience for me.

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Posted in Fantasy, Magical Realism, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden!

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across The Bear and the Nightingale while browsing through the winners of Goodreads Readers Choice Polls last year. As much as I rely on Goodreads, I am a cynic when it comes to judging a book purely on its Goodreads numbers. It is also an unusual choice because I don’t pick up books from the genres of Magical Realism and Fantasy that readily. However, I read 2 more books after I finished this one: the sequel to this book, The Girl in the Tower and The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. Maybe it is the craziness in the world around me in the past couple of months, or maybe, something inside me has tweaked but I find myself enjoying the feel of Magic and Fables with a hint of dark thrown in. It is those darker, sombre tones of the book that distinguish it from Children’s Stories, making them appealing to mature readers.

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