Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas

Book Review

Fiction | Romance | Hope | Emotional

Reading Your Perfect Year made me feel like I was watching a rom-com movie. It’s a feel-good, emotional, and inspirational kinda dreamy love story. Set in Hamburg, the story is centered around fate. The two protagonists in this book are Jonathan Grief and Hannah Marx. Hannah fills a New Year journal for her boyfriend with a list of things to do for every single day of the year. But Hannah’s boyfriend suddenly goes missing on New Year and her Filofax planner is found by Jonathan Grief on his bicycle handle.

Jonathan Grief is a rich man in his 40s who has inherited his dad’s famous publishing house called Grief and Sons. He is a lonely, uptight divorcee with only a drowning publishing house left to look after. He constantly complains about everything that doesn’t appeal to his sensibilities. He believes he is living a perfect, content life until he finds the Filofax and realises how much he has been missing out on life by not paying attention to the simple joys.

I’ll tell you one truth: if life’s taught me anything, it’s that you should only do what excites you. Everything else is a waste of time. No one should act against their heart and their own convictions.

Charlotte Lucas

Hannah Marx on the other hand is an optimistic, happy, and over-energetic person who runs a successful child care business called The Little Rascals with her friend. She makes a journal full of ideas for her boyfriend to bring hope and positivity in his life. However, she loses all her zest for life after she finds out that her boyfriend is never coming back.

Fate plays a major role in this book. It all starts with the Filofax finding Jonathan. He tries to find the owner of the Filofax but in vain. So, he decides to live his life by following the things planned in the diary which include tasks, motivational quotes, attending events, etc.

Make a break with your habits, test yourself, expand your horizons! If you usually hold the phone in your right hand, use your left. Do your shopping in a different supermarket and buy different brands..

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein.

Jonathan laughed and shook his head. He had never seen it like that, but it was so true. It was insanity!

Charlotte Lucas

Hannah inevitably finds out that some insane stranger has been religiously living according to the things that she had planned for her boyfriend. Finally, the day comes when they meet. Of course, the story doesn’t end there. There are more emotional ups and downs that they go through which you’ll have to read to find out.

Life was for living, regardless of how long you had left.

Charlotte Lucas

Not highly recommended but a good read. Your Perfect Year is about love, friendship and also some serious topics like dementia, death, and divorce. You can indulge in this light and breezy book if you’re in a marshmellow mood. Cozy up with your cat and enjoy reading this book on the weekend!

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become deeds. Watch your deeds; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. From the Talmud, or so it says here.

Charlotte Lucas

Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas, translated from German by Alison Layland.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

#Book Review
Fantasy Fiction|Thrilling|War|Magic

This book was on my Want to Read list for really long, I finally decided to read it and I am glad I did. Uprooted by Naomi Novik is a fantasy novel that will take you on a magical journey through a homely village, a Dragon’s cold tower, warring kingdoms, and the corrupted Wood.

The protagonist of this story is Agnieszka, a 17-year old girl, who loves her village – Dvernik, her family, and her beautiful friend Kasia. The villagers of Dvernik always live in a certain kind of fear, the Wood surrounds the village and many of them have lost a loved one to the Wood. It is not that the people get lost in the forest, the Wood is pure evil and whoever enters the Wood encounters horror and death.

“There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage.”

Naomi Novik

The Dragon, a powerful wizard, protects the villagers and keeps the corruption of the Wood under control. However, the people pay a terrible price for the Dragon’s help. Every ten years, the Dragon takes a young girl from the village to serve him. This year everyone was sure that Kasia would be chosen as she was an ideal choice – young, beautiful, well-mannered, and she could manage all the household tasks. Agnieszka on the other hand was a messy tomboy. Agnieszka knew the Dragon would never choose her but she feared for her dearest childhood friend, Kasia. When the day of choosing arrived, everyone was surprised with the Dragon’s choice.

Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true..

Naomi Novik

Now, this is not a story about a Dragon and a girl, it is a lot more! That was just the beginning, honestly I couldn’t believe that a book with around 450-pages could have such a dense plot line. Just when you start thinking, “Alright, now this is where the story is going to build up, bam, mystery solved!” I guess, this is something that makes the book all the more interesting to read. The story keeps you going, it isn’t boring, and it doesn’t feel rushed. In fact, the story is super descriptive. You can vividly imagine how it must feel like to be in the Dragon’s tower, Agnieszka’s room, Prince Marek’s mythical kingdom of Polnya, and the dark, creepy forest.

Every day I could watch the Spindle running riotous white with melted ice, and a band of open grass widening from the lowlands, chasing the snow up into the mountains on either side. Rain swept over the valley in silver curtains.

Naomi Novik

Uprooted is a story that has magic, magic spells – Vanastalem being one of my favorites. It is about a strong bond of friendship, romance, war between kingdoms, and the ultimate war with the evil Wood. The only part where I felt slightly let down was how the book ended, I found it way too convenient and more like a happy ending of a movie, but I still enjoyed reading it.

I recommend that you definitely read, Uprooted, if you want to escape reality and enter into a realm of fantasy. Somehow, it even feels real and believable. It’s easy to get absorbed into the story, I loved the character growth of Agnieszka, and the fantastic world-building. The underlying theme of being uprooted affects not only the protagonist but also the other important characters involved in the story.

I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn’t care: I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.

Naomi Novik

They come and go like seasons, the winter that gives no thought to the spring.

Noami Novik

The Girl in the Tree by Şebnem İşigüzel

Book Review

Fiction|Trauma|Family Strife|Love

A Girl in the Tree written by Şebnem İşigüzel is a story of a girl who has given up on the world and decides to live in the trees. It is an emotional tale of a teenage girl who talks about Gezi protests in Turkey, constant war in Istanbul, bombing attacks, political realities, and violence in society. The harsh realities and the tragic events leave her with no hope of a better world. So, she runs away and climbs one of the tallest trees in Istanbul’s Gülhane Park. Here she reveals multiple reasons that have led her to take this drastic step of spending the rest of her life in the trees. But, a kind and helpful soul comes around like a glistening ray of hope and an unexpected love story unfolds.

The girl is disappointed and frustrated and does not want to reveal her identity. It all starts with the death of her favorite singer. As the story progresses she shares how she loses her two best friends in a bombing attack. Like her mind, which is in a state of disorder, the girl narrates the events in a disorderly fashion, transitioning from the past to the present.

The girl talks about her dysfunctional family and how she has grown up seeing her mother living a sad and lonely life. She is passionate about writing but is brutally criticized by her school teacher much to her despair. The girl shares all these memories while being perched in a stork’s nest. She hops, skips, and jumps from one branch to another, from one tree to another to avoid being seen by the people in the park.

A bell boy, Yunus, who works in a hotel near the park notices the girl and helps by bringing food, water, and warm clothes. He regularly checks up on her and protects her. They get close and share stories of their past. Yunus showers her with love and care, and even ends up losing his job while trying to protect her. He offers her to run away with him and start a new life but The Girl in the Tree is determined to live the rest of her life away from the emotional miseries of the world.

The Girl in the Tree is a Turkish fictional novel translated by Mark David Wyers. It deals with the struggles of the common people in Istanbul where there is no freedom of speech or women’s rights. All there’s left is grief, political strife and violence. Hence, the girl believes that living in the trees is the only way to attain spiritual freedom. This book has a unique and bold tone where the girl is directly interacting with the readers. The rage and unrest that she is going through is captured extremely well.

I recommend that you give this book a read if you’re intrigued by the offbeat story that is set in a violent political background.

Books That I Read in 2020

Hello New Year!

Before I start my journey with books in 2021, I am sharing the books that I got the time and opportunity to read in 2020. Also, writing a brief summary about the books (without any spoilers). Hopefully, this post helps you find some interesting books to consider reading this year.

1. Educated by Tara Westover
Educated is memoir that discusses the life journey of the author. Born in a Mormon survivalist home, Tara’s father isolated the children from the mainstream world. He does not believe in the government, public schools, or health care. Tara never attended school and only receives formal education at the age of seventeen. Despite her innumerable setbacks, Tara educates herself and lives a successful life. This powerful tale is narrated beautifully and is very inspiring. Educated is a book about family ties, personal struggles, power, and success.

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Educated by Tara Westover

2. Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
A debut novel, this book has three distinct sections – Folly, Madness, and Ezra Blazer’s Desert Island Discs. The first part discuss a romantic relationship of a young American editor, Alice, with an older famous writer, Ezra Pound. The second part is a tale about the struggles of an Iraqi-American man who is detained at the Heathrow airport by the immigration officers. The last part is a detailed interview of Ezra Pound and his experiences. Asymmetry is about love, daily struggles of Iraqis, power, and justice.

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday


3. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
An incredibly unique book that I couldn’t put down. It plays with multiple themes and concepts. It is one of the few books where a clear story is not necessarily important. However, it is extremely interesting as you keep wondering where the story is really heading towards. It can have multiple meanings depending on your viewpoint. Written by Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore is a book about a 15-year old boy called Kafka and his life experiences.

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You can change direction but the sandstorm chases you. This storm is you. Something inside of you.”

-Haruki Murakami

4. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Mahabharata is one of the most famous epic mythological Indian stories. It is about a war between two families – Pandavas and Kauravas who fight the epic battle at Kuruskehtra for the throne at Hastinapur. The author Chitra Banerjee recreates this story of Mahabharata in The Palace of Illusions but from the point of view of a woman. The lead character of this story is Panchaali, also known as Draupadi, who marries the five Pandavas and goes through a life of pain, suffering, and also triumphs. This book discusses the identity of women in a male dominated world and is mainly about revenge, family, power, and war.

5. The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Forest of Enchantments is a journey of Sita and her tragic love story. This is another book by the author Chitra Banerjee that retells the other famous epic Indian story called the Ramayana. The original Ramayana is written by Vyasa from a patriarchal perspective. In this book, the author brilliantly narrates the story of Sita while highlighting the emotions and sufferings of the women that are often neglected. The struggles, humiliation, disappointment, and tragedies faced by Sita, Madodari, Kaikeyi, Urmila, and Surpanakha are, for once, not downplayed when compared to the men – Rama, Lakshmana, Ravana, and Dasharatha.

6. Quiet by Susan Cain
The quiet ones often prefer listening over talking. However, they are often misjudged and face issues of self-doubt. This book emphasizes that introverts are equally important and powerful. Susan Cain, who is also an introvert builds this confidence and teaches us to be more kind to ourselves and the people around us. She shares success stories of some of the most powerful introverts such as, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates, JK Rowling, and more. Quiet, is a great read for introverts as well as extroverts.

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Quiet by Susan Cain


7. Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki
This is another uniquely interesting story which is about a friendship between a young boy and a reclusive older man whom the boy refers to as Sensei or teacher. The central theme is loneliness and how Sensei has lost faith in humanity. It is about their life choices, how destiny can affect their life, and how some mistakes can never be forgotten. Excellently narrated by Natsume Soseki, Kokoro connects with you on a strangely deep level.

8. Life by Lu Yao
Gao Jialin, the protagonist of this story is a school teacher in his country village. Due to local politics, he loses his job and it throws his whole life into disarray. At this low point, he finds comfort in a romantic relationship. But, Gao Jialin is ambitious and believes he deserves to have a better life. To fulfill his stubborn dreams he decides to leave behind his rural life and moves to a big city. An easy read, Life is an emotional story that gives a very realistic portrayal of the urban and rural divide.

9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
It is an amazing story about a little French girl and a German boy during World War II. Loved this war novel, it is a must-read!

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

10. ⭐️Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson⭐️
Oathbringer is book three of the Stormlight Archive, this epic series has got me hooked! You cannot help but lose yourself in the fantasy world of the Stormlight Archive. It is a story about Roshar, Parshmen, Knights Radiants, Shardblades, Sprens, war, and a lot more. If you enjoy reading high-fantasy, then Stormlight Archive is one of the best ever!

11. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
There is an explosion of a therapeutic medical device called a HBOT chamber. Was it an accident or a planned murder? The story is centered around murder mystery that deals with a fast-paced and thrilling courtroom drama. It is about challenges of parenting, secrets, lies, identity crisis, troubles of a teenage girl, and relationships.

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Miracle Creek by Angie Kim


12. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Finally, got a chance to read this famous classic novel and I loved it! It is a story about four sisters and their journey from childhood to womanhood. The rich descriptive language and wonderful character buildup make this book extremely personal and special.

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


13. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Oddly comical, this book is about two sisters, Korede and Ayoola. Ayoola murders and Korede cleans up after Ayoola kills her boyfriends. Korede loves her sister and cannot hand her over to the police but what happens when Ayoola starts dating the person that Korede has been in love with?

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite


14. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
One morning, Kya wakes up and watches her mother walk out of the door and she knows life will never be the same again. Where the Crawdads Sing is a story of a young girl left alone in an isolated marshland and an intriguing murder mystery of Chase Andrews.

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens


15. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
This graphic novel is a piece of art! It narrates the famous story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but with a dark twist, a must-read!

*Please click on the link below if you wish to read a longer review that I’ve written for this book on my blog.
Book Review for Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman


16. The End is Always Near by Dan Carlin
This book is written by the host of the popular podcast, Hardcore History, Dan Carlin who takes us through a crash course in history. He shows us how all the great empires have suffered similar problems which continue till date such as, climate change, famine, plague, and war. This book gives us historical perspective on problems that we think exist only in this generation. Dan Carlin makes the reader aware that while the end may always seem near, humanity has prevailed so far.

17. Alone by Christophe Chabouté
A stunning tale beautifully illustrated by Chabouté. It is a story about a lonely hermit who has spent his entire life alone in a lighthouse and has never interacted with the rest of the world. This graphic novel is a heartwarming masterpiece!

Educated by Tara Westover

Memoir|Self-help|Inspirational|Family

Book Review

Educated, is a memoir written by Tara Westover. Before I begin the book review I have to say that I am in awe of Tara, she is my hero and I aspire to be as brave, determined, and confident as her, someday.

This book recounts Tara’s experiences of growing up in a Mormon survivalist family that is always preparing to survive an Apocalypse. Tara does not get a proper education until the age of seventeen as her father believes that the public health and education system are corrupted by the Illuminati. Stuck between the curiosity of exploring the outside world and the confusing dominating views of her family, Tara has a troubled childhood. At the age of seventeen, Tara finally decides to join school and get an education. The path of self-discovery from hereon, though not smooth, slowly brings a profound change in her life.

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.”

Tara’s life begins at the Buck’s Peak mountain in rural Idaho. She lives an isolated life with her Mormon family. Her father is paranoid, extremely religious and owns a metal junkyard. Her mother is a midwife and later gains recognition as a herbal specialist.

Tara is the youngest child and has six siblings – Tony, Shawn, Tyler, Luke, Richard, and her sister Audrey. The children are expected to work at the junkyard with their father from a very young age. They are loosely homeschooled by their mother. Tyler, was the first child who takes serious interest in studies and decides to leave home. Tara being close to Tyler feels betrayed when he leaves her. Soon, Tara like the rest of her siblings is expected to work at the junkyard.

The children face multiple accidents at the junkyard but they are never taken to the hospital, all injuries are attended to by their mother. Luke gets burned while working with his father, Shawn has multiple accidents at the junkyard and while riding his motorcycle, Tara injures her neck in a car accident, Tara’s mother has a serious brain injury, but every time the father refuses to take any of them to the hospital for treatment. He believes that it is all a part of God’s plan and they can only be healed by Him. Tara also faces abuse from her violent elder brother, Shawn, soon she starts believing that her actions must be sinful for which she is being punished.

“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.”

I often had my hand over my mouth or I found myself on the edge of my couch while reading about these horrifying accidents. But all these incidents do not dampen Tara’s spirits, she keeps going, keeps trying and believing that only she can make her life better. It takes tremendous amount of courage to continue on a path that is explicitly forbidden by your family. While reading the book, I could feel Tara’s state of mind being torn between her family and her idea that she controls her life. Tara through self-education passes the ACT examination and joins BYU. Her dedication, interest and enthusiasm to learn new subjects eventually earns her a doctorate in history at Cambridge University.

“He said positive liberty is self-mastery—the rule of the self, by the self. To have positive liberty, he explained, is to take control of one’s own mind; to be liberated from irrational fears and beliefs, from addictions, superstitions and all other forms of self-coercion.”

Not everybody has it easy. Children expect love and support from their families, they believe that their parents always know best and they grow up trusting them. But, every family has a different way of raising kids. Just because Tara’s parents did not bring her up in a conventional way does not mean they did not love her. All the tough times and trauma that the children face made them stronger. Despite the hardship, there is nothing that they cannot possibly do if they set their minds to it. The fact that Tara could articulate about the trauma and abuse that she faced in her childhood reflects how strong she is physically and emotionally. Her past experiences might have broken her many times, but she is now living her life on her terms and this is why she is a real trooper.

The reason this book feels personal is because each of us have been put in a situation where we feel like an outsider and do not know any of the rules. Her story is inspiring because of her absolute self-belief and determination to continue down the path that she has chosen. We can all draw on Tara’s strength while in a similar predicament. Educated, is a wonderfully written memoir by Tara Westover and I consider it a must-read!

“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.”

“But vindication has no power over guilt. No amount of anger or rage directed at others can subdue it, because guilt is never about them. Guilt is the fear of one’s own wretchedness. It has nothing to do with other people.”

Tara Westover

QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Self-Help|Heart-Felt|Insightful|Behavioral Psychology

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Book Review

QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, written by Susan Cain is a book about introverts. It is a wonderful guide for all the introverts who face self-doubt and find it difficult to live up to the challenging demands of a society that is dominated by extroverts. This book, Quiet, inspires introverts and teaches us to embrace ourselves.

So, who are Introverts? Introverts are quiet, reserved, prefer listening over talking, enjoy conversations with a small group of friends, and feel comfortable being alone.

This book is not just for introverts, it also needs to be read by extroverts. In fact, this book is for everyone. The society sometimes fails to appreciate the innovative and creative minds of the silents ones. As a community, we need to understand the personality traits of introverts and know why introverts behave the way they do. It helps in changing the perspective of people on how they need to regard introverts. 

What Can You Expect from this Book?

  • This book discusses the temperament of introverts and shares success stories of famous introverted personalities. Revolutionary leaders such as, Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks, though shy, brought a change to the world in their own way.

“Eleanor, Al Gore, Warren Buffet, Gandhi, and Rosa Parks – achieved what they did not in spite of but because of their introversion”

  • It talks about the society which has adopted the extroverted ideals in schools, colleges, and workspaces. The enthusiastic, expressive, and confident students are considered to be smarter, attractive, and interesting to be around. Whereas, the shy, skinny, and quiet ones are regarded as slow and bland.

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

  • So, to negate this myth, the author cites examples of some of the legends such as, W.B. Yeats, Chopin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Warren Buffet, and J.K. Rowling, who though quiet, have made a powerful impact with their intellectual creativity. Imagine living in a world without them!

“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.”

  • At workplaces – group thinking, team activities, and collaborated methods of working are not always effective. Susan Cain proves this point with her research and statistics by elaborating that majority of the people are most productive and brilliant when they are working alone.

 

  • She also talks about how different cultures in the world have different ideals. The Western culture is prominently extroverted where being talkative, athletic and vivacious is considered ideal. But, the Asian culture is more on the introverted side. It discourages students from talking in class and encourages reading, listening, and writing. In this part of the world, introverts are admired for being contemplative and reflective.

“It was no coincidence that the 1920s and the 1930s, Americans became obsessed with movie stars. Who better than a matinee idol to model personal magnetism?”

  • The society needs both introverts and extroverts. Extroverts can continue doing what they do best and introverts don’t have to change themselves to fit in. They just need to accept themselves for who they are.

 

  • Also, it does not mean that introverts are not suited to be in a field of work that requires them to be more outgoing. What is important is that introverts need to get the adequate amount of downtime to unwind.

“Proust called these moments of unity between writer and reader “that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.”

  • Introverts need to recharge themselves and this can happen only when they get to savor their solitude.

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

  • In the book, the author also talks about how introverts and extroverts are often drawn towards each other, be it friendship, a romantic relationship, or at work. This is why, the book is vitally important for both personalities to understand each other.

 

  • Quiet, is also great for parenting. Introverted kids need to be encouraged and accepted for who they are, instead of pushing them towards becoming someone else.

Now, I am going to take some time to appreciate the title of this book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This hit me in the right spot and was the sole reason why I decided to read this book. I am an introvert and I really needed someone to tell me that’s it’s okay to be me. Well, introversion is not a choice isn’t it, we are just made this way!

Most introverts will agree that they are tired of answering the question,

“Why are you so quiet?”

Probably, people asked me this because they were just curious. But, it is not necessary for people to always be loud and talkative. 

I remember my teachers writing remarks in my report card, “Good in studies, but quiet.”

Every time people asked me this question, I would go deeper into my shell. I started feeling that there was something wrong with me, why can’t I have conversations easily with random people? Why am I not good with small talk?

Earlier, I was not sure about myself to give them an answer to this question with confidence. Maybe now I can or maybe I will continue holding myself back, but what’s more important is that, now I am a lot of more comfortable in my own skin. 

This question does not bother me anymore. In fact, I am glad that I come under the “quiet” category. Yes, I am reserved and I feel lost in large groups but I love one-on-one conversations with like-minded people and you will have my total undivided attention. 

I am extremely thankful to Susan Cain for writing this book and for helping me and thousands of people out there in understanding themselves, or their introverted partners, family members, and friends.

“You are told that you’re “in your head too much”, a phrase that’s often deployed against quiet and cerebral. Of course, there’s another word for such people: Thinkers.”

Highly Recommended

At least one-third people that we know are introverted according to Susan Cain. Reading this book will give you a unique insight and perspective on how thinking minds work and hence I consider this book to be a must-read for everyone!

PS: Apologies for getting too carried away while writing the review of this book and peppering it with personal anecdotes!

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

War|History|Fiction|Heartfelt

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Book Review

All the Light We Cannot See is a book about the tragedies of war written by Anthony Doerr. The tone of the book is melancholic yet hopeful. It is centered around two protagonists, a six-year old French girl, Marie Laurie, and an eight-year old German boy, Werner Pfennig.

It is a deeply moving story where the author wonderfully captures the difficult circumstances of war and its effects on the people involved. This book is not about what happened during World War II, nor is it about Hitler or the Jews. This book is about how war affects the lives of ordinary people by uprooting them from their homes. It is about people who do not wish to participate in the war and have no choice but to bare the consequences of it. At the same time, it highlights the strength of humanity where we can live through unimaginable situations. In the end, we can always find a reason to live and survive.

All the Light We Cannot See is a fictional war novel about many things. It is about the strength of a blind girl that survives through war. A confused yet an intelligent orphan boy who loves to learn but is captured in a terrible period of war. A father, trying to do his best for his daughter. A sister who is worried that her brother will get influenced by Nazi ideologies. A soldier from World War I who loses his brother and is haunted by the ghosts of war. A friend who loses his life because he is considered too weak to serve the country. This book highlights how individual choices and freedom do not belong to you, but to your country. Only by serving the country, can you survive. Moments of weakness, betrayal, shock, horror, and hope are what makes this book so special and real.

“Wherever her great-uncle is, could he have survived this?
Could anyone?
Has she?”

“Walk the path of logic. Every outcome has its cause, and every predicament has its solution. Every key its lock.  You can go back to Paris or you can stay here or you can go on.”


*Spoiler Alert* Below is a detailed summary of the book which reveals some of the plot points.


Marie Laurie is a blind girl who loses her eyesight due to cataract at a very young age. She lives in Paris with her father, who loves her dearly and works at the Museum of National History. Her father builds a miniature version of the neighborhood for his daughter so she can navigate through the area independently when the need arises. Marie regularly accompanies her father to the museum and this is where she learns about a valuable blue diamond, the Sea of Flames, and its legendary curse. When the German army invades France, Marie Laurie and her father flee from Paris and arrive at Saint-Malo to live with her great uncle Etienne.

Meanwhile, Werner Pfennig lives in an orphanage with his sister Jutta in a town called Zollverein in Germany. He is a brilliant kid with an exceptional skill in fixing radios. His talents and expertise with electronics capture attention. Soon, Werner is presented with an opportunity to study in a specialized training school in Berlin. Werner with a hope for a better future and thirst for knowledge decides to attend the school by leaving behind his sister. Only upon his arrival, he realizes that the fears of his sister were right all along – the boarding school is a place that teaches Nazi values. All the while at the boarding school, Werner does everything that he is expected to do but deep inside he is guilty and knows that he has made a wrong decision.

While the city is being bombed and attacked, Marie Laurie holds onto hope and ends up saving Werner’s life with her radio broadcasts. In turn, Werner saves Marie who is trapped in her house with a German officer. This story is about their journey, experiences and how their lives intersect during war.

“He says, “You are very brave.” She lowers the bucket. “What is your name?” He tells her. She says, “When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” He says, “Not in years. But today. Today maybe I did.”

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Mystery|Murder|Drama|Hope

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Book Review

Miracle Creek is a story about a family that moves from South Korea to a town called Miracle Creek in Virginia for a better way of life. Pak Yoo and Young along with their daughter Mary set up a therapeutic medical device called a HBOT chamber. HBOT, is a hyperbaric oxygen chamber with pressurized oxygen. This therapy involves breathing in pure oxygen to heal patients with special medical needs. Soon, an unfortunate event occurs – a mysterious fire explosion of the Miracle Submarine, resulting in the death of two patients. Was this incident an accident or a murder? Miracle Creek is centered around this murder mystery that deals with a fast-paced and thrilling courtroom drama.

It is written by debut author Angie Kim who includes many of her life instances in this story. Angie Kim, similar to Mary’s character also moved from South Korea to Baltimore with her family at a very young age. The author tackles difficult themes such as immigration, identity crisis, and challenges of parenting based on her personal experiences. Angie Kim is a practiced trail lawyer who draws on her experiences for a realistic courtroom setting.

The story starts with a slight tension in the air followed by the fire explosion of the Miracle Submarine. From here on begins the courtroom trail, where the mother of one of the patients is charged with murder. As you proceed, the story goes into the background of the main characters involved in the accident. These include, Pak Yoo – father, Young – mother, Mary – daughter, Matt – patient of HBOT, and Elizabeth – mother of her deceased child, Henry, who finds herself accused of committing the crime.

The murder mystery keeps you gripped right from the beginning till the end. You will find yourself guessing and reaching a conclusion on who might have possibly committed the crime. Can it be the South Korean family for the insurance money? A frustrated mother? The protestors who are against unsafe medical treatments for autistic children? Or an angry wife? I personally had three suspects. I cannot say that I was surprised and neither was I certain but it was a clear ending with no loose ends.

The story is not just about solving a murder mystery but it also deals with many powerful themes and problems which we face regularly in our lives. There are many excerpts in the story which are brutally honest and true. I found myself agreeing and relating to many of them. This book deals with elements such as autism and parental challenges, immigration and its language barriers, neglected childhood resulting in teenage rebellion, infertility and self-doubt, making it a heavy and full-filling read.

“There’s something, though, about the sounds that other people make. Not talking, necessarily. Just their sounds of living – creaking upstairs, humming a tune, watching TV, clanging dishes – that blot away your loneliness. You miss them when they’re gone. Their absence – the total silence – becomes palpable.”

Coming in at just under 400 pages, Miracle Creek is an easy recommendation if you are looking for something entertaining. It is a varied and heavy read with glimpses into the lives of several different characters.

“We all have thoughts that shame us…but if that were to actually happen, that’d be unbearable”

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

My dear girls, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

I have been a silent observer of your marvelous life story. How much I adore each one of you, I feel I know you all oh-so immensely. For this, I thank Louisa May Alcott for bestowing upon the world this wonderful, sweet story.

Many moral lessons have been wrapped around each one of my little sisters. How splendidly you’ve all grown to become women of high praise and beauty.

Meg, a girl with many dreams settles with a man who loves her true and deep. You make a wise decision of choosing love over rich fantasies. Regardless, Meg, your two beautiful souls, Daisy and Demi, are worth more than all the riches of the world.

Jo, my love. You are a diamond in the rough. Your strong will, challenging nature, talent, wit, and kindness inspire all the women, one of them being me, to be better than they can ever be. How could you be lonely, when you are surrounded by us who love you so dearly, just the way you are. 

Beth, a delicate beauty with a compassionate soul. How the hearts cried to see you in pain and misery. Yet sweet Beth calmed the crumbled hearts like a gentle autumn rain, like a little bird with its many soothing melodies.

Amy, a mischievous little girl grows up to be a charming beauty. How the worldly travels and experiences have turned you into a fine artistic lady. A keeper of Laurie’s heart, you have gotten the best of all, a lifetime of love, happiness, and memories.

Laurie, my sweet lad. You chose Jo for which I will always love you so. It hurt to see your heart break. Guess, it was all for the best. For eventually, you chose happiness and gave me hope that you would not end up being miserable and lonely. You and Amy were meant to be. 

No matter the hardships, life has taught the March family, dearest Laurie, and the readers to find happiness in little things and to face difficulties with a smile. This book creates a wonderful imagery by taking you back into the good old world where life was simple and beautiful. The Little Women is about family, love, friendship, and togetherness. This book will always hold a special place in my heart.

Yours Lovingly!

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My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

Crime|Dramedy|Unsettling|Family

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My Sister, the Serial Killer, is a story of two sisters, Korede and Ayoola. Ayoola kills and Korede protects. This pretty much sums up the entire story.

What makes it interesting to read is the unique narration by Oyinkan Braithwaite, where a dark theme is narrated with a comic element. Though a short novel, you cannot help but get involved with the characters.

Korede, the elder sister is a nurse by profession. She is reliable, hard-working, and fiercely protective of her younger sister. At the same time she is also resentful of her sister’s flawless beauty.

Ayoola is a carefree, happy-go-lucky soul who always gets what she wants and she is used to men falling in love with her beauty almost instantly. She is extremely close to her sister and shares all her secrets with Korede, including the murders of her boyfriends.

Every time, Ayoola kills a man, she summons her sister by saying, “Korede, I killed him.” As always, Korede goes running to save Ayoola and tries her best to clean up her mess. But, what happens when Korede’s long love interest, Tade, falls for Ayoola’s beauty too? Will she save her sister or Tade?

My Sister, the Serial Killer, is Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel. It is a dark comic fictional story which is easy to read and the story flows really well. At first, you feel the storyline does not progress beyond Ayoola’s beauty, how she is the favorite child, and Korede though being smart always feels worthless. But soon, the story picks up pace, a lot more characters come into the picture and the story evolves.

When Korede finds out that, “More than three murders makes you a serial killer”, she is clearly frightened and worried for her sister. Ayoola’s merry disposition after committing the crimes makes it all the more weird. Introducing another character in the story, Muhtar – a coma patient, who is Korede’s only source of comfort and companion with whom she shares all her secrets and thoughts.

My Sister, the Serial Killer, deals with crime, loyalty, love, an abusive father, and gender roles. This tale also has undertones of self-worth, dependency and frustration with Korede always feeling that she is a step behind Ayoola. It is about family-ties, where both the sisters feed off each other and are equally guilty of their crimes. Ayoola for committing them and Korede for hiding them. Like the author herself says, “They are two sides of the same coin.” This book is a quick, fun, and interesting read.