Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Eating Wasps by Anita Nair!

Eating WaspsEating Wasps by Anita Nair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If books chose a word to represent themselves, Eating Wasp would choose Poignant. Because it leaves you restless and sad, akin to a traumatic experience where you feel a little shaken, gasping while you still try to make sense of what elapsed. Like the protagonist, who actually eats a wasp as a kid, it leaves you a little stung and tainted with the venom. You only try to scratch the itch thereby making it worse, but it is not until much later that anything makes sense. I did feel that the book and its stories were exceptionally sad and brought out emotions even as I was reading it. At first, I thought it contributes to literary merit of the book that every woman who reads this will relate to it. But now that some more time has elapsed, the fact it is so relatable horrifies me. What does it say about us as a society if the intersection of our individual sets of horrific experiences is so wide, let alone that ideally it should’ve been a null set.

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi!

A House Without Windows

A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read A House Without Windows for The Reading Women Podcast challenge in 2019. A House Without Windows is all that you can conjure up when you close your eyes. It is dark and desolate. It is bleak and cold, somewhere the warmth of the sunshine cannot reach you. It is where nobody can take a peek in and ask you how your are doing. It’s walls are tall and insular, it’s fenced covered by barbed wire to make it impossible to escape. It is not like a prison, in A House Without Windows, it is a prison, a women’s prison called Chil Mahtab. A place where women can be sent for a variety of crimes. But mostly they are sent their because they are deemed to be guilty of anything unacceptable to the men in their family and he men who wrote these laws. Even the framework of this laws is so vague, one has a hard time comprehending the intricacies. However, here is a thing about repression – just like a course of reckless self medication, after a period of time, it doesn’t work. After a time, this House Without Windows becomes an oasis in the middle of a stretch of desert. The absence of Windows is in fact reassuring, even comforting. Maybe only of a fleeting moment, but these women here feel safe in here. They are finally in a place where the worst has already happened and they mercifully cannot be accused of anything more heinous than what they have been sent her for. So, when you do pickled up this book, I would recommend you wait for the last chapter to make up your mind about what does the title really stand for – a repressive prison or a protective fortress?

The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here

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Posted in Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Thriller, Women's Fiction

{ Book review } – The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh!

The Water CureThe Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up The Water Cure warily, I admit. Had it not been longlisted for ManBooker I wouldn’t have picked up nor would it have appeared on my radar immediately because dark, dystopian fiction with shades of regressive tendencies in characters is simply not my genre. But, as I went further and further into the book, I had to grudgingly admit that it made a really good thriller. For me, a good thriller is one that starves me of info at the right time and in appropriate amounts, forcing me to supplicate to the plot line and be attentive to the storytelling. After a languorous start, The Water Cure drew me in. And not just that, it had me riveted until the end.

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Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Mythology, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer!

<!-AvishiAvishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Avishi is a lovely reimagining of a female warrior named Vispãlã mentioned in Rig-Veda as the first recipient of a prosthetic leg. As she lost her leg after being injured in a battle with Khela,  she was bestowed with a prosthetic made of iron by the twin Gods Ashwini Kumars, so that she could continue fighting.

I will be honest, even before I proceed further, that I had not heard about the character Vispãlã before I picked up the book. So, I will refrain from commenting about the historical accuracy of the research or the other details from the era. I picked it up as my monthly free eBook under my Amazon Prime subscription ( look for a segment called Reader’s Delight on the site under Kindle eBooks ). And it was a fairly engaging read, if not mindblowing. The fact that it did not blow my mind is not the book’s fault. In my opinion, I am not at all disappointed by it, even if I might not have been mightily impressed by it. The fault lies in the fact that there has been a slew of books in this genre by Indian Authors, hence my senses are probably a bit dulled by all that. So, setting that aside, I think it is a pretty good book. In fact, ( at the risk of offending a few ) I will say that I liked this one better than the Meluha Trilogy, because, Avishi is less hyper, less melodramatic, simpler but more effective writing. In fact, barring this book, I hold a bitter grudge against authors of books in this genre that they overwork the angle of mysticism and mythology, making it sound quite artificial after a few initial chapters. Thankfully, with Avishi does better than that. Avishi is a more realistic story that one is able to digest even if it finds roots in mythology.

The story goes something like this: Brought up in the forest school of Naimisha, under the tutelage of Maharishi Vahni,  Avishi has grown up trained to be a warrior. She knows that she was adopted at an early age, but barring some recurring nightmares and rather faded memories of her childhood, she does not know or remember much about it. However, destiny eventually brings her to a settlement of Ashtagani, which functioned as a republican confederacy and relied on self-sufficiency in sharp contrast to its neighbor, Vrishabhavti which functioned as a monarchy. Aggression from its neighbor and some evil political scheming leads to a situation where Avishi finds herself in extremely tumultuous circumstances, putting both her and the settlement of Ashtagani in danger. It is this that leads her to the battlefield and how she loses a leg while fighting the ruler of Vrishabhavti called Khela. Revealing more than this about the story would be unfair to those of you who might want to read it so I will stop here,

I haven’t read many books by the author, Sai Swaroopa Iyer, but from whatever I have heard about her work ( all good I must say ), she writes stories with strong female protagonists. What is most refreshing about this book for me was the fact that it is imagined in a time when some of our current social set up or rules, that we now consider the norm, weren’t so rigidly in place. Like in this book, matrimony in society wasn’t a must. Children were born out of loyal and often a long-term companionship, but solemnizing a marital contract was not compulsory.  Similarly, there was no demarcation of roles for sexes, people could pick a profession based on their strengths and not because of their gender. At the same time, the book makes sure that it doesn’t give an image that the society without these norms, or rather a different set of norms, was flawless. It had its own set of problems as the book reveals as the story progresses. So, I must say that I found the premise and the beginning of the story fairly engaging. The story moves at a decent pace, it is never boring, and if you are looking for something in the segment of mythology inspired fiction, this would be a good choice. However, I cannot say that it let me spellbound or that is a work of the genre whose parallel I haven’t found yet. It was also slightly predictable, and in a very small part in the latter half of the book, I felt that it grew a little more stereotyped. You know, how all the stories about kingdoms and conspiracies go. So, if you are looking something in this genre or you have liked similar books in the past, go for it.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Foursome by Natasha Diddee!

FoursomeFoursome by Natasha Diddee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, Foursome begins on a day when 4 best friends, who have been hiding a secret from each other until then, meet to mourn the end of Tara’s marriage. Sana, Upasana and Arpita, who have gathered to console Tara, find that there is not one, but four whirlpools that they are currently caught in the midst of. The journey from this to untangling of all the tangles in the lives is what comprises the plot line of Foursome.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton!

The Wednesday SistersThe Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wednesday Sisters is a story where the flavour of sisterhood dominant, but it is also about the battle that each individual fights in his/her own life and the one everyone else is oblivious to. Sometimes our own friends aren’t privy to this information. It is about 5 women, who met in a park in suburban Palo Alto on an afternoon. There is no single thread that connects them, so to speak, and their relationship blossoms out of conversations around the humdrum details of their lives.


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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 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 Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and SensibilityJane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jane of Austin is a wonderful, contemporary spin on Jane Austin classic ‘Sense and Sensibility’.Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves uprooted from their recently settles lives running a tea shop in San Francisco due to unforeseen circumstances. In the aftermath of their father’s business scandal, they again face a sad prospect of disturbing their barely settled lives and are forced to move to Austin, Texas. The duo packs up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again. They do so grudgingly, but the developments in their lives are not all smooth, When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the relationship between the sisters’ strains which is surprising considering how they have held on to each other all these difficult years. Also attracted to Jane is retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but he holds back his feelings because of his disability and also certain personal circumstances, he is bitter about his return not just because of his scars from the war but also the scars of his past.

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Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Mythology, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan !

The Rise of Sivagami (Baahubali: Before the Beginning, Book 1)The Rise of Sivagami by Anand Neelakantan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you come across books which are pure temptation? I mean, I knew that the book I was then reading, A Man called Ove, was a much better book in all respect, but somehow, was rendered helpless against the lure of this one. 😬 I am a Bahubali fan, not a supremely crazy one, but a fan nonetheless. So, I bought this after a brief wait. The miser than I am, I usual don’t buy new releases, but then it was Bahubali. I started the book with the misconception that it would start at the birth of Sivagami, and merge with the story at the beginning of the movie. A little later I learnt that is a part of trilogy that maps the kingdom of Mahishmathi, as a extension of the Bahubali universe. The story begins with a young Sivagami and you suddenly notice all the streaks of the character in the movie. ( Although I admit, I just kept seeing an image of Ramya, younger, I don’t think I can separate that from the character, just yet ). From a childhood where she witnesses her father being awarded a death sentence for treason, to a teenaged orphan, the transition is subtle and natural. However, she is not the fundamental character of the book.

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