A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker

#BookReview
Cultural|Ethnic|Family|Loss|Courage

This beautifully written memoir is heartwarming and inspirational. Life can present us with unpredictable situations for which we aren’t ready most of the times. One such event occurred in the life of an eight-year-old child and this story is about how the family faces this devastating loss. What makes this book so powerful is the determination and courage of the family during times of distress.

When Murna Moreland loses her husband, the responsibility of her five young children falls upon her. Being a homemaker, she has no idea how to provide for her family. So she entrusts her eldest daughter, Hope, to take on the role of a guardian for her younger siblings. Murna goes to the United States to work so she can provide her children with a better life.

During the time away from their mother, the five siblings continue to live their life diligently while taking care of each other. Murna works hard every single day without losing hope and by curbing her fears so she can reunite with her family soon.

A Season of Disruption is a short yet impactful memoir written by Jacqueline P Walker. It discusses death, family, relationships, courage, and hope. Through her story, we can learn how to face challenges, and even though things might seem like they are falling apart at the moment, they will eventually fall back into place. It’s all about holding onto hope and staying strong.

Synopsis of A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker,

Obstacles are a part of life. Overcoming them motivates others to persevere and soar! A Season of Disruption is a fictional memoir that tells a story of courage, love, and the willpower to withstand challenges that often break and defeat families.

Widowed due to a twist of fate, Murna Moreland, a Caribbean homemaker, makes a nearly unimaginable choice. She leaves her children—alone— in Jamaica and journeys to the US to find opportunities. Murna anticipates that she will be able to have the children join her soon.

Meanwhile, with their father’s death and mother’s departure, 15-year-old Hope assumes guardianship for her four younger siblings. Together the children strive to survive, believing that the separation from their mother will be brief.

In the US, Murna diligently focuses on reuniting her family but obstacles delay and derail her plan. Unwilling to accept defeat, she crafts a risky scheme that will either quickly bring her family back together or keep them apart indefinitely.

You can also find my review on the website: Reedsy

Close Watch by Signe Christensen

#BookReview
Thriller|Fiction|Suspense

Nobody likes the feeling of being closely watched or followed but it’s terrifying to know when somebody actually breaks into your house!

Close Watch by Signe Christensen is a fictional story about Amber, a normal person trying to live a normal life. After her recent breakup with her boyfriend, Sam, she feels like she is constantly being followed to a point where she feels creeped out in her own house. When she reaches out to the police, it leads nowhere because of the lack of information. However her two friends, Karen and Maya, are a great support. Amber relies on them the most, they are always by her side and try to keep her safe. But after Amber’s several attempts to ignore the feeling of being stalked and being threatened, she decides to escape from the city for a while and spend a few days in her aunt’s cottage in Dorset. What happens if this turns out to be a wrong decision?

Close Watch is a entertaining thriller that is easy to read. The story is well narrated, the element of suspense and character building is strong. As a reader I felt dragged into the story right from the start. The book is lighthearted and not too intense. Even though, you might get the feeling that you know who the stalker is going to be, it is a nice read right till the end.

Also, find my review on this website: Reedsy

Happy Here and Now by Matt Tracy

#BookReview
Self-Help|Happiness|Motivational|Self-Improvement

Happy Here and Now: Lasting Happiness You Can Count On gives you the tools that are required to stay happy during the sunniest of days and stormiest of nights.

We are all happy in one moment and sad in the other. We are beings with so many emotions and feelings that sometimes we get carried away by them and end up losing ourselves. We don’t often pay attention to the little joys of life and also the little problems.

Sometimes acting on every emotion like anger, fear, or sadness can have a negative impact on our life. It can even make us regret our actions. Happy Here and Now by Matt Tracy is a self-help book that discusses situations and behaviors that we usually don’t pay attention to or tend to neglect. It is more like a guide that will train us to understand those emotions better, process them, and sometimes learn to let them go.

Grieving must happen, and emotions must be felt, whatever they are. Fear or hatred or worry or disgust must be acknowledged. That is healthy.

Matt Tracy

This book also talks about understanding what happiness really is, how to be grateful, thankful, and forgiving. It’s about listening to our thoughts, becoming more aware, and believing in ourselves. At the end of each chapter, there is a section called Living It that we can follow to pay attention to our emotions and bring changes in our day-to-day lives by being more aware of our habits and trying to improve them.

I found this book interesting to read and found myself agreeing on multiple points that I never considered important. Happy Here and Now is a must-read!

Being aware of your thoughts leaves room for intuition to flourish.

Stop living for the future. Enjoy now.

Matt Tracy

Also, find my review on this website: Reedsy

The Champion by Wayne Rajah

#BookReview
Fiction | Fantasy | Relationships |

A painfully sweet story of a mother and a child set in a fantasy world of monsters and magic

The Champion is a fantasy fiction novel written by author Wayne Rajah. The protagonist of this story is a twelve-year-old boy named Calvin with a superpower that allows him to fly. Calvin’s mother, Miss Khumalo is diagnosed with a terminal illness. When he finds out that his mother is suffering, Calvin uses his superpower and the help of his mentor, Athwall, and decides to take his mother on a mythical journey in an attempt to save her life.

The story begins with Calvin waking up after seeing a dreadful nightmare. As we proceed further into the story, we realize that Calvin is haunted by a series of these disturbing nightmares and they have become a constant in his life. 

“The room shakes! Oscillates! Now a frenzy of seismic activity and an earthquake! It feels like the tremor is inside my head! My head hurts! My head always hurts! My body hurts! A flash of light in the distance, lightning! And then a thunderous roar! My skull splits open, the hemispheres of my brain part. My body was violently shaken, side to side, side to side! The earthquake continues!”

Wayne Rajah

Usually, after the nightmares, Calvin puts on his cape and flies out of the window of his room into the night sky. He enjoys flying high in the darkness of the night when the rest of the world is asleep. He recalls the vivid nightmares and often wonders if they could possibly be true. But, the cold breeze helps him calm down and he uses this time to observe the world below him by admiring the countryside, the Crown River, and the moon that he addresses as Cynthia. 

Calvin’s ancient protector, Athwall – who has lived a thousand years – is Calvin’s only friend and protector. According to Athwall, Calvin is the Chosen one and someday Athwall will reveal the special task that only Calvin can perform. 

“I start to fly, out of my control! Hurtling into the sinister abyss, not knowing where I am going or in what direction, just hurtling on ahead. There is space out there even if I cannot see it. What speed! Immense speed! My heart flutters, races!”

Calvin has looked at his mother as a hardworking and active woman who is always on her feet. But when he notices that lately, his mother has been looking weak and exhausted, he starts worrying. Until one day, his mother faints on the ground and he finds out that his mother only has a little time to survive. Will Calvin be able to save his mother? Will he complete the task that Athwall has set out for him?

This story is a journey of a young boy trying his best to save his mother from dying by seeking help from his mentor, Athwall. The story discusses all the struggles that Calvin, Athwall, and Miss Khumalo go through and the difficult choices that they need to make on this journey. This involves crossing treacherous paths and fighting tremendous monsters on the way to their destination. When they finally reach their destination, the story takes an unexpected twist.

“Athwall says that he will reveal everything to me in a good time. He tells me that I am special, that I am the Chosen. For now, I’m just trying to enjoy everything. Who else in this world can say they can fly? Athwall says it only happens once every hundred years. My ancient protector has lived long enough to see them all, over a thousand years. He says that there is always a special task for the Chosen.” 

The book started off on a good note and got me hooked into the storyline. The reason I found it interesting was that the story started with a letter that was addressed by a doctor to his patient. Personally, I love reading stories that have letter communications between the characters. However, I was quickly disappointed when the letters never made an appearance after the first chapter. I found the book needlessly long and felt like it could have dropped a few pages, especially the graphic description of the recurring nightmares. I also felt like the long journey was invalidated by the surprise reveal at the end which left me a disappointed. I was a little confused with the turn of events and I had to go through the entire story again in my head to understand what just happened.

The story is well-written by debut author Wayne Rajah, the message that the author is trying to share is noble. As a pediatrician, he has created a fictional story about parents and children that he sees on a daily basis. He is inspired by the struggles and sacrifices that are made by both parents and children and has captured this in an entirely fictional universe of his creation.

“Letting go takes courage. Their story is one of true struggle, courage, strength and overcoming adversity.”

Wayne Rajah

Also, find my review on the website: Reedsy

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Book Review

Memoir | Inspirational | Politics | Success Journey | Autobiography

Where do I begin? How can I say something different about this book that you don’t already know, I guess I cannot because this book is about Michelle Obama. But I can certainly say that it will have a lasting impact on its readers in its unique way. Becoming is a memoir about Mrs. Obama’s personal experiences from childhood to becoming the former First Lady of the United States. It’s about her journey, her successful journey, that was not just rosy but also about taking the rough with the smooth. What makes this journey so amazing is that it’s relatable and at the same time inspiring.

Here’s a memory, which like most memories is imperfect and subjective – collected long ago like a beach pebble and slipped into the pocket of my mind.

Michelle Obama

There are three parts to this book: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More.
Just the name of the chapters is good enough to inspire me. Sometimes the hardest part can be understanding yourself, your limitations, your strengths, and it’s all about learning to embrace them.

In the first part, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson talks about her childhood. The place where she grew up which is the South Side of Chicago, about her close-knit family, her neighborhood, and her school. As a kid, she was competitive, a go-getter, and was determined to excel at school. She also took piano lessons from her mother’s aunt, Robbie, at a very young age. Even though they had little money while growing up, her life was filled with rich experiences that have taught her to appreciate the little joys. Her brother, Craig, has been a constant support in her years of growing up. Her father taught her to be strong, brave, and to keep going no matter how hard life gets at times. Her mother taught her the most valuable lessons while she was growing up and she continues to be her role model. Despite the racial inequalities that she had to face at times, she managed to study at Princeton University and also graduated from Harvard University.

Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to other people.

– Michelle Obama

The second part, Becoming Us is about Michelle and Barack Obama. There was excitement from deep down when I reached this part. It’s hard for anyone to not get attracted to Obama’s magnetic personality and his mesmerizing smile, not that Michelle is any less charismatic. When these two powerful personalities come together sparks are bound to fly. Becoming Us is Michelle and Obama’s journey – of how their relationship evolved from colleagues, friends to lovers. When they were truly connecting, I was all starry-eyed while reading it, and it has to be one of my most favorite love stories. Further on, Michelle talks about the good times as well as the bad times that they had to go through because of their immensely demanding jobs. Although, it felt like Michelle had to make more sacrifices in this relationship we cannot hold Obama responsible for any faults since politics is a field where your life belongs more to the public than to your family. She also talks in-depth about motherhood and their lovely girls, Malia and Sasha.

Barack was serious without being self-serious. He was breezy in his manner but powerful in his mind.

There was no arguing with the fact that even with his challenged sense of style, Barack was a catch. He was good-looking, poised, and successful. He was athletic, interesting, and kind. What more could anyone want?

– Michelle Obama

The last part, Becoming More, is about what it takes to be the First Lady and its tremendous responsibilities. She talks about how she managed to learn things that nobody tells you about and how it feels like to be living in the White House. Never a fan of politics, Michelle Obama was worried how their lives will no longer be private anymore. Every little thing was going to be noticed, criticized, or appreciated. Doing the most mundane things like sitting on the balcony to enjoy a cup of tea was out of reach for her. They had become the most important people and with that came many duties towards their country. As the First Lady, Mrs. Obama tried to make the most of this opportunity by putting effort into inspiring children and young girls with the Let’s Move and Let Girls Learn initiatives. Her Joining Forces initiative along with Dr. Jill Biden was aimed towards supporting military families and the Reach Higher initiative encouraged young students to take charge of their future. Even though the Obamas couldn’t bring an immediate change, they worked towards making the country as they think it should be with the hope that future generations will see a better world.

We were planting seeds of change, the fruit of which we might never see. We had to be patient.

Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?

– Michelle Obama

What makes this book special is telling normal people, like me or us, that celebrated icons have a normal life too and that in turn can make us feel special. They also go through the same emotional ups and downs but nobody shares it in such depth. She is like one of us, living a simple life, doing simple things, and having similar dreams. Nothing over the top, just a normal person getting through life one day at a time. Some excerpts in this book have taught me how life is so short and how we need to make the most of it. She talks about things that sometimes we are terrified to even think about, like death. Nobody tells us how to deal with death, by sharing her intimate experiences, she tells us that even the difficult times will pass, and soon dealing with the terrible pain of loss will not be so hard.

This is an autobiography that’s not just about her, I guess it’s her way of teaching valuable life lessons like a mentor who is looking out for us. It’s not a self-help book but when you have a guide like Michelle Obama why wouldn’t you want to look up to her and learn how to deal with the difficult times. Her honesty and deeply personal experiences are not a boastful act but a subtle way of motivating people to face challenges and to be courageous.

There are so many amazing quotes in this book, I wish I could list all the ones that I have highlighted while I was reading it but then I guess I will end up quoting the entire book. I will hold myself back and only share some of the best ones that you might enjoy reading too.

I’ve smiled for photos with people who call my husband horrible names on national television, but still want a framed keepsake for their mantel.

It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful—a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids—and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.

I’d been raised to be confident and see no limits, to believe I could go after and get absolutely anything I wanted. And I wanted everything. Because, as Suzanne would say, why not?

Dominance, even the threat of it, is a form of dehumanization. It’s the ugliest kind of power.

When I was a kid, it was easy to grasp: Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people.

Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result

For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end

– Michelle Obama

It was hard for me to write a review for this book without getting carried away and adding my opinions on situations that resonated with me. Thank you for reading this review till the end. Clearly, I am a huge fan of the Obamas, I will keep it short by saying, “I highly recommend this book so, please go read it!”

PS: I remember the day when somebody told me that I look like Michelle Obama and I had gotten annoyed because obviously, they were not comparing personalities, it was about my skin color. I guess the annoyance came from my childhood experiences where I was often told that I look like Halle Berry or Kiran Bedi because I was a brown-skinned girl with a boy-cut hairstyle. Even though it was supposed to be taken as a compliment I found the comparisons to be a little crude. But now, I feel proud that the person who compared me to Mrs. Obama has given me one of the best compliments ever and I hope that someday I get to be a strong and wonderful woman like her. Here’s to becoming like Michelle Obama!

Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.

– Michelle Obama

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.

You can also find my book review here Discovery.

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