Posted in Fiction, Food and Drink, My Bibliothèque, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Vegetarian by Han Kang!

I have always believed that that Literary Award Winners do not turn out to be great for me. So, when my previous pick, “All the Light You Cannot See” turned out to a good one, I started on The Han King with a lot of optimism. But, I wish I could say I could I enjoyed it. Because The Vegetarian by Han Kang did not turn out to be the book that left me revelling in its after-effects. I say this because that is what usually happens to me when I really enjoy a book. And that is also the reason I don’t rate books in x number of stars or points out of 10. How I liked/did not like the book is often impossible to quantify in numbers or stars. To begin with, The Vegetarian was nowhere even close to what I had thought it would. The book and its premise had got me super curious and super interested but it was way off my expectations/initial impressions of it. Not that it is always a bad thing, but when that happens, I am no longer 100% invested in finishing it. In this change, it is a short book so I hang on to it, but the progression didn’t translate into the book getting interesting for me. I already suspect that anyone reading my review will find it inexplicably bizarre, which is exactly how I found the book to be. But I will give it a try.

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Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr!

I had added this book in my TBR because of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction it won in 2015. But books that win literary awards don’t always go well for me. I started with the audiobooks, and I have to admit, listening to all the proper nouns in their correct pronunciations/accents/inflections was what helped me get into the mood. It was only after the first few chapters, that I really developed an interest in the mood, which basically means that I found it interesting enough to make to the end. The title refers literally to the vast segment of the electromagnetic spectrum that is invisible to human eye. The visible spectrum is just a slice of the huge spectrum we cannot see. Metaphorically, it means the tragic stories, traumatic experiences of another set of people that never even made it to the mainstream news. Here is how I liked the book.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance

{ Book Review } – The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau!

The Ingredients of LoveThe Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book in the week before I watched the movie Bareilly Ki Barfi. The movie is only loosely based on / inspired by the book, borrowing only the basic plot. Everything else is quite different, with the Parisian flavor being quite dominant in the book while the movie is charmingly Desi.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Thriller

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier!

My Cousin RachelMy Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Cousin Rachel is not a straightforward story of whodunit if you ask me. Yes, it is tightly knit, full of suspense and ambiguity and everything about Cousin Rachel screams guilty. But, it doesn’t take a straight path. It is an old fashioned mystery and I was partly charmed by the elegant and yet strange backdrop of an English Estate. If you have watched Downton Abbey, you would know what I mean at once. Rachel is a character whose entire persona is shrouded in black. There is a sinister, creepy feeling about Du Maurier’s Rachel that gives you a tingling sensation every time she appears in the book. I do not know the answer to most basic question of this story, and while it would be a blatant lie to say that I don’t care about the answer, the truth is that it was far more fascinating to watch her in action, peep from behind the door of her boudoir than to actually know if she killed her husband. The reader knows that Rachel is no saint and yet, you don’t want to put the noose over her head just yet. The feverish curiosity that du Maurier’s writing invoked in me rendered me pretty much incapable of playing detective. I had sort of surrendered myself to become a mere witness to the series of events without becoming the judge. I read the whole book with a mixture of burning curiosity and a paralyzing helplessness.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa !

The Sari ShopThe Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa is the story that brings out the contrast between several strata of our society which cohabitate the Indian Cities but are as unlike each other as it would be possible to be. It begins the apparently insignificant Sevak Sari House in the main Bazaar of Amritsar. It follows the eyes and the ears of Ramchand, a lowly salesman at the shop who seems to be a misfit in not only his world but everyone else’s too. He is mostly invisible to everyone, it’s almost as if he doesn’t exist and, like all the other salesmen who man the counters in these tiny shops, blending seamlessly into the walls with customers’ eye moving from one shelf to another shelf, one counter to another counter, scarcely paying any attention to him.

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Posted in My Bibliothèque, Mythology, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Kaunteyas by Madhavi Mahadevan !

The KaunteyasThe Kaunteyas by Madhavi S. Mahadevan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I chose this book from Kindle Unlimited catalogue because I wanted something not too taxing to read. The title is slightly misleading because it is not a book on the Pandavas, but the life story of Kunti. My opinion of the book is mixed: I love love love her writing style, ( some of the quotes are on point and impactful!! ♥️ ) but the story is nothing much. I am guessing I feel this way because Mythology is an extremely abused genre these days. I am probably reading too much of it, and I definitely taking a break now.

But here is my argument as to why I would pick up an another by the author. It is because I could find gems that gleam through the dull narrative. Also, there are a few places where I feel the scenes feel very mundane, say for example, where Kunti meets Karna and tells him the truth about his parentage.

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Posted in My Bibliothèque, Non Fiction

{ Book Review } Hidden Figures : The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly!

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space RaceHidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hidden Figures is a true account of a group of black American mathematicians ( I won’t use ‘African Americans’ because the book doesn’t discuss their ethnic heritage so it would be wrong to assume ) who provided substantial contributions to the advancements made by US of A in aircraft tech and space research between 1940s to 1970s. It follows the lives of 3 mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who were “computers” with NACA ( now NASA) called so because they used pencils, slide rules and computing tables to perform complex calculations that would help the engineers model or modify aircraft tech.

It begins in an America which was still shackled by “equal but separate ” adage, which wasn’t true factually speaking. Separate schools, separate bathrooms and separate sections in cafeterias just scratch the surface of the discrimination that was on rampart. The bigger problem was white folks calcified and calloused attitude to this discrimination. The Black schools lacked severely infrastructure and facilities. Even qualified black graduates could not apply to most of the positions in the civil service or private sector, definitely not the white collared ones. A lot of beaches and resorts were out of bounds for them, even the well to do populations, even the ones with the means to pay for them.  They were declined services almost in all such places. The Great Depression that followed WW II was a creak, a tiny opening in the door, for these well qualified, highly deserving women, the who, until then, had to be satisfied with underpaying teaching jobs and such. However, it did set the tone for more opportunities in the days to come. Each of these women came from a background, no different than you and me, and grew up instilled with values, self esteem and a thirst to prove themselves and reliance on work hard. One of my favourite quotes from the book is something young Katherine Goble’s father taught each of his children:

You are no better than anyone else, and no one is better than you.

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