All posts tagged: Fiction

Book Review: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

“They say a witch used to live in these woods, a long, long time ago…And there, she bore the wolves who chase the sun and moon. They say she went to Asgard and was burned three times upon a pyre and three times she was reborn before she fled. They say she loved a man with scarred lips and a sharp tongue; a man who gave her back her heart and more. They say she loved a woman too, a sword-wielding bride of the Gods; as bold as any man and fiercer still. They say she wandered, giving aid to those who needed it most, healing them with potions and spells. They say she stood her ground against the fires of Ragnarok until the very end until she was burned a final time. All but her heart reduce to ashes once more. But others say she lives yet.” The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec is a reimagining of Norse mythology’s end of the world, Ragnarok, and how it came to pass. It is told from …

2 kindles with the covers of the books the henna artist and the secret keeper of jaipur, both by Alka Joshi. They're laid out on colourful cloth with jewellery

Book Review: The Henna Artist Jaipur Series

This is a combined book review of Alka Joshi’s The Henna Artist and The Secret Keeper of Jaipur. These books are part of a trilogy, with the final instalment yet to be released. I am not waiting with bated breath for the final book – I doubt I’ll read it. Read on to know why.  The Henna Artist Review The first book, The Henna Artist, came highly recommended as Reese Witherspoon had chosen it for her book club, and it has also topped many Bestseller lists. Goodreads also rates it very highly. My opinions differ significantly. The book started off well enough. I had good hopes for a mystery or even a romance. She aimed for a bit of both but lost my interest mid-way through the book. The writing is not excellent, and the story gets predictable very soon. The characters are not fleshed out, and we know them only superficially. I did not feel for any character in the book.  The protagonist, Lakshmi, is portrayed as an empowered, independent woman with progressive ideas …

5 Best Audiobooks on Audible

I have previously written about my preference for audiobooks while I work. If you need to commute long hours or go on a trip, I highly recommend taking an Audible membership. I know people who prefer to listen on their walks and while cooking as well. Here are my top 5 Audible recommendations that are epic. They draw you into their worlds with enchanting stories and enigmatic storytelling. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: This has to be one of my favourite books and on top of my list just for how it is told. It’s a novel I enjoyed immensely. The characters and events actually seemed real to me. The idea of a man voluntarily being under house arrest for an indefinite period in a fancy hotel seemed complicated and unrealistic to imagine. But somehow, Towles succeeded in making his book realistic—and endearing! The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai: Check out the full review here. I recommend the audiobook over the written book mainly because of all the beautiful Vietnamese verses …

Books by Ismat Chughtai on a blue backdrop with a gold necklace

Book Review: Ismat Chughtai

For someone who loves to read and has studied English literature in school and college in India, it was very disappointing to learn about writers like Maanto and Chughtai so late in life. It enrages me that we teach a handful of English writers and completely ignore great Indian writers. “Faith is one thing, the culture of one’s country is quite another. I have an equal share in it, in its earth, sunshine and water. If I splash myself with colour during Holi, or light up diyas during Diwali, will my faith suffer an erosion? Are my beliefs so brittle and judgements so shaky that they will fall to pieces?” Ismat Chughtai – the story-teller Ismat Chughtai was a contemporary of Saadat Hasan Manto. They wrote during the time of India’s independence. Both were put on trial for indecency in their writing then finally acquitted. However, it put a downer on both their temperaments.  Chughtai’s Lihaaf or the Quilt was considered quite progressive for its time, talking about female sexuality. She has also written screenplays …

Kindle with the cover of Klara and Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro on a bed of colourful Lego blocks

Book Review: Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is a dystopian science fiction story. It is much like Never Let Me Go but, somehow, not as brilliant. That is not to say Klara and the Sun is not readable. Far from it. Kazuo Ishiguro Nobel Prize winner, has a special talent for making you believe his sci-fi world is as believable as our own reality. He writes with an elegant simplicity conveying complex feelings.  “Hope,’ he said. ‘Damn thing never leaves you alone.” Klara, an Artificial Friend  The book is set in a future where it is possible to have your child genetically engineered to enhance their academic abilities. Schooling is provided at home by on-screen tutors, limiting all social interactions. For those who can afford it, an AF (Artificial Friend) is their constant companion. Klara is an AF for Josie. We follow Klara’s journey as she narrates her life experiences from the store window to her stay with Josie. Although Klara is exceptionally intelligent and observant, her knowledge of the world is limited. We see …

Kindle cover of Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi with a bunch of pink roses on a white fabric

Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom

Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom reviews were almost entirely positive, so I was at first worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But oh! It did. It is a book about relationships with family and oneself, religion and race, love and loss, and mental health. The narration is by a young woman named Gifty. She was born in America to Ghanian parents. She has an older brother who overshadows her at every juncture of her life, but he is also her hero – someone she loves and looks up to. She talks about how her mother migrated to America in the hope of a better future for her firstborn son. Her father had followed reluctantly. After she was born, she could see the unhappiness in her father, who eventually chose a path away from them. “My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It’s those who stay who are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of …

Book Review: The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. We follow the Tran family across generations, as narrated by a young girl, Huong and her grandmother, Dieu Lan. Throughout the book, we come across the human cost of conflicts. While we come to realise how some people are self-serving, we also see the true power of kindness and hope.

Book Review: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Kindred by Octavia Butler takes you back in time. It is not just historical fiction, but one that involves some time travelling (not the sci-fi kind).  For Dana, a regular night is turned upside down when inexplicably she travels back in time to save a young boy from drowning. Then just as mystifyingly, she’s back at her home with a time lapse of just a few seconds. If her husband wasn’t there to witness her disappearance, who would have believed her? She keeps going back and forth to the same place and realises how her own life is linked to the people she meets on her ‘travels’. “As a kind of castaway myself, I was happy to escape into the fictional world of someone else’s trouble.” It’s not easy to do a Kindred book review. Slavery in the antebellum South of the United States was a time of unspeakable horrors and dehumanisation of an entire race. It was perpetrated not just by the White men, as most often portrayed, but also by the White women …

Book Review: The Nothing Man by Catherine R. Howard

Do you love the edge of your seat? Do you love staying awake till the early hours of the morning? If you do, you’re probably a reader, and this book is for you. The Nothing Man by Catherine R. Howard is an exciting murder mystery unlike any I have read before. The premise of the book is that a young girl, whose life was turned around after her entire family was murdered, has grown up to write a book about the experience. She hopes that the killer is still alive and wants to catch him after all these years. “…fiction only really worked if it was built like a lattice through which you were repeatedly offered glimpses of absolute truth.” There’s not much I can add to it without giving away any plot twists. All I can say is that this was a wild ride. There are twists and turns, especially at the end, that catch you off guard.  “These are no dark magicians. They have no special skills. People seem to forget that we …

Reading Challenge: 2020 (Fiction) Part 2

How’s your reading habit? Are you in a reading slump where you want to read but are not able to for whatever reason? I had been there for a very long time. When I decided to get back to reading, I had to schedule it, like I would do any other work. Can you read a book a week? It is possible if you set a goal to read 25 pages every day. If you read fifteen minutes daily, you will finish a 250-page novel in just over one week. Make a start. Pick up books you know are going to be easy to read or are about topics you love to read about. Here are some more fiction books I read this year. These are all long books, mostly dealing with difficult life situations. Each of these books takes you on a journey over years of the lives of the people involved. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende: How do you begin to tell the story of a friendship that has …