Musing Mondays – 1

Musing Mondays are hosted by Miz B.

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Musing Mondays asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!
• What are you currently reading? What do you think you’ll read next? What did you recently finish reading?

I’m just going to talk about reading. It is funny how much my reading pattern has changed in just over a couple of years. There was a time when I refused to touch an e-reader. Husband was the first in our family to cross over to the dark side. But then for him, gadgets win over books anytime. He bought the Kindle as a gadget. He kept trying to entice me to try it. For the longest of time, I refused to even consider it. Blasphemy! How could he even think that a cold device could replace a lovely, warm, inviting book. Even better if it is a well-thumbed copy, like an old book of my grandfather’s that I still have. The smell, the feel, everything.. of a book, how could an e-reader ever replace books. It was unthinkable.

Did you notice the past tense? Well, that’s because all that has since changed. I still love reading a proper book, but somewhere along the line, I slowly started picking up e-books. I think it started first when I took husband’s kindle on a holiday. It felt like a sort of freedom. I didn’t have to carry loads of books! What a brilliant idea! And I could read it everywhere, I loved the e-ink, it almost felt like paper, and I could read it everywhere. I read it on a hot, sunny beach, and that was where, I think I finally fell for the Kindle. Then on, I stopped being completely anti-Kindle. It started to make more sense. It still wasn’t half as interesting as a proper book, but it had other advantages.

Slowly, over the last two years, I have started reading more and more on the Kindle. It is so very convenient. I can carry it everywhere, I can get review copies so much easier on it. Books are cheaper on the Kindle (I know, I am cheap!), and given our nomadic lifestyle, sometimes, transporting boxes of books are the biggest expense.

From a one Kindle family, we are now a three Kindle family. Daughter has just started reading on the Kindle too. And I have got a new one for Christmas!

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Isn’t she gorgeous!!

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The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

Another book that I picked up purely by instinct. I think this is the first book by the author that I have read so far.

Melody Browne is a  single mother with a 17 year old son. She lives in Covent Garden in a council estate and works as  a Kitchen Assistant(a fancy term for dinner lady). She goes out on a date(after years) with a lovely man she met on a bus. It takes her a lot of courage to go on a date at all. They go to a hypnotist’s show, from where her life goes a little crazy. She has flashes of memory which she does not recognize. She does not remember anything before the age of 9. He oldest memory is at the age of nine, when she is rescued from a burning house, with her parents and one painting. She does not have any recollection of her life before that. But after her experience at the hypnotist, she starts getting flashes of memory.

She starts finding out things from her past and it leads her to the missing pieces of her memory. I can’t say much more without relating the whole story. It is a fascinating read. A very quick read, fast paced, keeps your interest throughout, and leaves you thinking of how easily fate could change life in an instant…

I would recommend it for a quick read. Some thing light and interesting and at the same time captivating. 3/5

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult and a Challenge

One thing I find I rarely do is review the books I read. Mainly because I worry if I could do justice to the books and because I get lazy. Smita’s review challenge hopefully will motivate me to review the books I read. I would like to review at least 1 book every fortnight.

So here I go, signing up for Smita’s Let’s Review More n More books” Challenge.

 And my first review before the first week of the new year ends.

Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors and last week I discovered a book of hers that I had missed. For some reason, I was under the impression that I had already read Second Glance. Reading through the back cover, I realised that I had missed this one.

Ross Wakeman does not want to live. Ever since his fiancee died in a car accident, he has lost the will to live, but he seems to lead a charmed life. No matter what he does, he does not succeed in dying. All he wants is to join Aimee on the other side.

In desperation, he turns to ghost-hunting. He hopes to see Aimee’s ghost and is close to giving up hope. He ends up in an Abenaki burial ground, and from then on, nothing works as it normally does.

Meredith Oliver’s daughter Lucy is haunted by inexplicable nightmares. Nothing they do seems to matter.

Shelby lives an unimaginable life keeping her nine year old son away from the sun. He suffers from a life-threatening ‘allergy to sunlight’. She will do anything for her son. Ethan, her son, longs to fit in, to be normal.

How do these come together? You’ll have to read it to find out. It combines Picoult’s skill of weaving medical conditions , genetics, paranormal occurences, nail biting suspense, and ethical issues into her  stories makes it a wonderful read.  While this is not one of her best(in my opinion), but it still is un-put-downable. I read in a days time. I would give it a 4/5 simply because I have read better books from Picoult.

Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

I picked up this book for a lark(like I pick up most books these days). Some of the books I pick up like this end up very disappointing. This one on the other hand, was anything but disappointing.

It was riveting. The story of Devi, a girl born in Coorg in late 1800s. Devi is a wilful child with her mind of her own, unlike other girls at that time. She decides at the age of 10 that she would marry the Tiger Killer, Machu, her best friend Devanna’s cousin. Devanna, on the other hand grows up, desperately in love with Devi, who is completely unaware of his feelings. Devanna is a very intelligent child and is mentored by the local Reverend. He shares a love for Botany with the Reverend, and both of them spend a lot of time together finding specimens in the rich Coorg forests. His dedication towards biology pushes him into a medical school education, which turns the tide for everyone involved.

The way their lives turn out, weaved in with what is happening in Coorg at that time, makes for a fascinating read. The beauty, traditions, and the culture of the place is brought out beautifully by the author. The book transports you to the Coorg that Devi lived in. From the older times when Coorg was untouched by outside influences, to when Eurpoean influences gets the locals to change their names from Kalamma to Kitty, just as Nari Malai gets changed to Tiger Hills.

The story is fast paced, with shocking twists and turns, making us empathize with the characters at so many levels, even when they end up doing things which are not quite right.. A story of love, unrequited and requited, a story of the things people do when consumed by emotions, a story of how normal lives can change in an instant.

A book that gripped me through it. I would not call it a fast read, but a book which refuses to let go, even after you turn the last page.

Eating India and Monsoon Diary – Book Reviews

I chanced upon 2 books by Indian authors on food in India. What better combination, a book on food, especially for a foodie and avid reader like me.

Eating India : An Odyssey into the Food and Culture of the Land of Spices.

by Chitrita Banerji

The book had me hooked from the very beginning when the author starts to describe a Bengali wedding – something that was so much a part of my childhood, where we had Bengalis as neighbours, friends, family friends, dad’s colleagues.  The book is a fantastic journey into the cuisines of various parts of India, exploring the possible origins of dishes, the foreign influences that made what we eat today, so part of Indian cooking. So many ingredients that we take for granted today, was part of what we got from various parts of the world, like potatoes, onions, and even the Bengali Rossogolla, might have other origins, which the author tried really hard to track down in the book.

The author’s love and appreciation of food, irrespective of cuisine, comes through in her writing. Her descriptions so vivid, that she made some of the food, which I actually, don’t like, sound delicious. For me, it was a wonderful read and also made me want to try out the variety of cuisine that our wonderfully diverse country has.

Monsoon Diary : Reveries and Recipes from South India

by Shoba Narayan



I picked up this book on a whim. The cover looked good and so did the synopsis. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.  The author takes us down the memory lane with her reminisces filled with food, along with the recipes. Starting from her initiation into eating adult food( Chor-unnal in Malayalam) to the time that she is married. Each memory associated with some sort of food. Be it the food that she shared with her school friends , her cousins or her roommates, while in college. The flavour  captured beautifully in her words. How food was so central in everything that she has done. Even the permission to go abroad for higher studies was based on the fact that she was able to churn out a wonderful traditional meal.  She talks about the time when she tried fusion food (international fusion at that) on her husband, much to his distress, all he wanted was an authentic South Indian meal.  It was a wonderful read, though I am too lazy to try out recipes, reading was soul satisfying enough for me.

The Italian Wedding – Book Review

As I had promised, my next book review is of The Italian Wedding.  I am refraining from posting reviews of everything I read to avoid shoes and chappals being thrown at me 🙂

There is something about books in Italian settings. I love them as much as like Indian books. Most of these also have the most mouth-watering descriptions of food, which makes it an even better experience. I know, it is probably stereotyped, but that certainly does not stop me from lapping it all up.

The Italian Wedding

by Nicky Pellegrino

Pieta Martinelli is a bridal designer working for a famous Bridal Designer. She is very busy at work and at home, planning her younger sister’s wedding dress.  Living with her Italian dad, Beppi Martinelli,  English mother Catherine and younger sister Addolorata, who is a chef in her dad’s restaurant Little Italy, in London.

Her family has a long running feud with another Italian family in the same locality. She and her sister have always been consumed with curiosity about the feud, because they have never been told anything about it.  As events unfold, her mother ends up relating the story of how she and her father met and about the feud. As she hears the story, she also starts to understand her mother, who was always in the background, who both sisters more or less ignored.

It was an enchanting read. Beautifully incorporating interesting recipes as well as interesting comments to the recipe while moving the story forward really well.

This is the first book of hers that I have read and I am certainly going to pick up more of hers. I just loved the way she writes.

I am not going to be doing any more book reviews for a while. The books I read recently have not been worth reviewing. Have been going through a lot of inane chick-lits. Now re-reading London by Edward Rutherfurd, an epic of a book, which I had loved reading. I had mentioned about this book here as well.

Late night reading and Book reviews

I have been reading loads these days. There are days when I sat up reading until late at nights and feeling sick and woozy in the mornings. I am just not a night person, but with a good book in my hand, I can’t not finish it before going to sleep.

The other day, I read under a duvet with a flashlight 🙂 Reminded me of my childhood. Also reminded me to get one of those book light which can be clipped on to the book while reading – that would have been far more comfortable to read with! Growing up, I used to read so much that my parents used to worry that I get marks in school simply because the teachers liked me. So they used to try and regulate the amount I read, and I used to find ways of reading all the same.

As I said here, I have been picking up books rather randomly from the library. I never seem to get the latest bestsellers, so I just go by my instincts and seem to end up with great books(thankfully!).

I finally managed to lay my hands on Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Arranged Marriage. This had been on my wish list for ages but had been evading me. Well, all I can say is that it was totally worth the wait.

The collection of short stories depicting women in various situations brought about by their circumstances. Be it an abused woman’s story narrated by her little daughter, or the new bride who finds herself a widow in America, or a happily married woman who finds one day that her husband wanted to leave the marriage and grab at a chance of real happiness. Each of the stories brought out the feelings of the protagonists, ending in despair, triumph or just accepting what life throws at them. Every story was a wonderful read and I was disappointed when I came to the end of the book. To say that I loved it, would be an understatement. Waiting to get my hands on her other books.

 

Amongst the other books I read, Joanna Trollope’s books stood out. I had read her Brothers and Sisters earlier and quite liked it. Last week I picked up two of her books. Marrying the Mistress and The Rector’s Wife. Both were amazing reads. In Marrying the Mistress, she picked up a really sensitive topic of a much married older man taking the decision to walk out of his marriage to marry his mistress who was young enough to be his daughter. How the various relationships in both their lives were affected and how many individuals one decision of this sort could affect and how each of those people behaved was beautifully crafted. And not for a minute did anything seem tacky.

The Rector’s Wife is about a village priest and his wife who are trying their best to live within the set expectations. So far, Anna, the rector’s wife had performed her role in every way possible, but her daughter being bullied in the local state school and her son’s aspirations to travel propels her to get a job in a local supermarket to earn some money.  This causes a lot of raised eyebrows in the parish. Trapped in the expectations set by her role as the rector’s Wife and the need to be independent and do something that she wants to do, she gets pulled in all directions and widens the gap between her and her husband.. Again, I love the way, Trollope has woven the various relationships, including the emotions of her teenage son and her supportive mother and mother-in-law.  I could not put the book down until I finished it off in one session.

I am now reading Trollope’s Next of Kin which is right now, just as gripping.