❄️

Do summer friends melt away like summer snows, but winter friends last forever, as an old saying goes?

Farewell fair weather friends! Meanwhile I’m all bundled up in my furry throw, engrossed in a book called Winterlust: Finding Beauty in the Fiercest Season by Bernd Brunner from which I borrowed this quote.

Winter is here, I’m telling myself not get cold feet by worrying too much about cold feet, and instead embrace the beauty of winter.

Day 6: Bookquet

Day 6 Inktober 2022: Bouquet

A source of immense happiness and joy, the best companions whether you are chilling at home or stuck in traffic, they can change your mood and make you smile, get rid of those unwanted thoughts, feelings of sadness and loneliness and take you to places never imagined, they are your mentors, your guide, your buddy to laugh and cry with and with them you make lifetime memories. Books are the best gifts you can give someone (me), just like a bouquet of flowers, they will never fail to light up your mood and your mind. Read read read, it’s all that matters, stories will always hold a special place in our hearts.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

#Book Review
Fiction| Diaspora| Family| Culture
Rating: 4.5

Sometimes I feel like the book chooses me rather me choosing it and The Namesake is one such book that precisely resonates with my current state of mind. A diasporic feeling of not belonging anywhere, a feeling of an identity crisis, and confused decisions. Jhumpa Lahiri in the Namesake perfectly captures the immigrant experiences and emotional turmoil of leaving behind your motherland, your families, and childhood friends to start a new life in a new country. 

This big move is a process of experiencing happy times, difficult times, and questionable times, which often involve uncertainty and fear. And of course, there’s always hope of things getting better as time passes. But there is never a time when we stop wondering “Was this the right decision?” 

Despite these numerous feelings, Ashima in the Namesake tries her best to adopt to the American lifestyle with her husband Ashoke. The Ganguli family makes new friends (Indian friends), spends weekends together and builds new bonds. They give birth to two kids, Gogol and Sonia. Ashima terribly misses her family when their son is born. She waits for years for her grandmother to send her a telegram naming the baby as it has been their age-old tradition. But when there’s no response, Gogol becomes the official name of their son.

The story progresses onto the lives of the kids and the vacations that they take – which is most of the time to India for festivals, for the loss of loved ones, for spending time with the family, or to stay connected to the familiarity of their culture and traditions. Gogol and Sonia find all of it hard to relate. But as they grow old, Gogol realizes the hardships that their parents had to face upon uprooting their life and leaving behind their family which he thinks is something that is impossible for him to do.

The Namesake is not story with a beginning or an end, it is an experience. A family that I got to know in a few pages of this book. I can see myself getting to know the Ganguli family if I ever lived on Pemberton Road, going through the same feelings of loneliness and trying to stay together and creating a mini India just to feel at home. Just to have that sense of familiarity and comfort. As I complete reading this book on my return flight from India to Pennsylvania, I fondly close the book and my eyes with a warm feeling, processing the emotions, and remembering all the times that I spent with my loved ones. I take these memories along to a new country that I now call my home. 

PS: The Namesake is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It’s very well-written and has an intriguing story that immigrants as well as non-immigrants will certainly find interesting to read. A definite must-read, I highly recommend!

Emotional Strength Explained By Alicia Pozsony

#BookReview

Self-help| Self-improvement| Life| Emotions

A quick, powerful, and effective self-improvement workbook – aimed to help us build emotional strength by practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Emotional Strength Explained by author, Alicia Pozson, is a quick, powerful, and effective workbook that is aimed to help us build emotional strength. In life, we often have ups and downs and we face challenging circumstances that can affect us in many ways. This book teaches us to acknowledge those emotions and weaknesses, accept them, and work towards becoming emotionally strong. 

Emotional Strength Explained is more than just a self-help or self-improvement guide, it is a workbook with a targeted approach. It asks you questions that we might often ignore, they are simple questions but important ones that we need to prioritize. It encourages you to self-analyze and write down your vulnerable emotions and deepest thoughts so you can face your fears. Healing always begins with self-awareness, self-talk, and self-love. It is a slow and step-by-step approach towards building emotional strength. The practice worksheets in this book will help you track your progress so you can emerge as a strong and confident person.

It is a wonderful book that shares the secrets of success and inner peace. It teaches you to find solutions, to face criticism or judgment, and self-reflect on your thoughts. The best part about this workbook is that you can always come back to it every year or whenever you find it necessary to continue making this journey stronger.

Once you have the strength and bravery to be open to see things you may not want to see, you are ready for the next thing.

– Alicia Pozsony

What are your thoughts on open-ended stories?

Dear reader, today I have a controversial topic to talk about – open ended novels. There was a time when I much appreciated open-ended stories. The mysterious cliffhangers would leave me wondering, “Oh what would have happened if he had chosen the easy path?” Or “Oh is she going to remain mysterious without revealing her true identity?” Or “Will she continue packing lunch for him as a mysterious stranger without meeting him?”

As I reader or an audience I have drawn my own conclusions feeling a sense of power. The unresolved narratives gave me a sense of liberty. I could use my imagination to give a unique ending to the story or sometimes I have left it unresolved too because not every story needs to have an ending. Some movies, books, podcasts, and paintings invited more ideas to be shared amongst friends and family for interesting conversations and perspectives.

HOWEVER, on the other hand this trend seems to have caught on a little too much, isn’t it? Many writers and storytellers seem to choose this path of ambiguous endings for their incomplete stories. Which I now find a little frustrating. Somehow all I am reading or watching or listening to lately are open-ended stories. “I need an ending, please!!”

There are too many stories with abrupt endings, it seems like the authors don’t really want to try and want the readers to do their job for them. I don’t find stories without an ending artful or intriguing anymore, it’s rather a lazy approach. What’s with the unnecessary tease? Why do we have to spend hours and not get answers to all the important plots? Some stories do not even require any layers of complexity.

“What really happened in this book?” “Why did I have to spend hours reading the damn book?” “The author might as well have ended it after the first chapter and called it a cliffhanger.” Why should the reader take the trouble of reading pages after pages and end up with nothing. Sometimes movies with abrupt endings are still fine as they’re over in a few hours. But with books, when there is no sequel, I am not really sure if randomly abrupt and ambiguous endings are fun or entertaining anymore.

Sorry, I’m done ranting. I just finished reading the book Paper Palace and I’m not very happy with the unresolved ending, hence this post. I know it’s not an easy job to write a book of hundreds of pages but as a reader, I’m requesting all the amazing writers to give their readers a good ending, open or closed as long it’s good. Thank you for reading till the end and if you’ve been on the same boat then I’m guessing you’ll share the same thoughts on this subject. If you do, then please do throw some light on your thoughts and share it with us.


The Witcher: The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

#Book Review
High Fantasy| Fiction| Action| Magic

After watching the TV series, The Witcher on Netflix, I was enthralled by the story and decided to read the books. And boy, I’m glad I did! It has to be one of the most interesting fantasy books that I’ve read after Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.

The Witcher – Geralt of Rivia, is the main protagonist who is a fearless monster hunter with impressive magical powers. Along with having incredible physical prowess, agility, and extraordinary fighting skills, Geralt also looks fantastic, at least in my mind this grumpy White Wolf looks gorgeous. Henry Cavil in the TV series does complete justice to this character and looks terrific. Anyway, coming back to the book review, the Witcher earns his living by getting hired to battle evil demons in exchange for money. Many find him dangerous, many hate him or are afraid of him, many are impressed by his mastery of destroying the evil, and many like me are just head over heels over this fictional character. In the Last Wish, there are multiple stories of Geralt hunting down different types of beasts. Then some chapters bring to light Geralt’s past and how he became a Witcher. What I absolutely enjoyed while reading the book is the unique style of writing, Geralt’s short and witty dialogues and how he likes to engage in cold conversations with the antagonists, the funny banter with his bard friend Dandelion, and the gripping conflicts of the Witcher with the monsters.

It is a super entertaining fantasy series that might take a while to get immersed into if you come expecting the same plot as the TV show since it is not narrated in the same order or fashion. I definitely recommend reading the books as it is an excellent treat for all fantasy book readers.

Books That I Read in 2021

I cannot accept that it’s already 2022, what happened to 2021? I guess most of us felt like 2021 was gone before it even began. Last year felt like a blur to me and in between those fleeting days I somehow managed to read twenty books. Before I start my journey with books in 2022, I am sharing the books that I read last year along with a brief summary for each of them (without any spoilers). I will also mention some of my most favorite books and I hope that this post helps you find interesting books to consider reading this year.

  1. Midnight Library by Matt Haig:
    The book is about a woman named Nora Seed who finds herself in a library lingering between life and death. There are innumerable books in the library that allow Nora to undo her regrets, explore parallel lives, and choose a life which she would love to be in. Will she give up her present life and choose one that she always dreamed of? Midnight library was one of the most read books in the year 2020. There were mixed reviews about this one, I cannot say I loved it but it wasn’t bad either.
    It’s a good book and you can read my full review here, Midnight Library.

  2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik:
    Uprooted 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. 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 the protagonist, Agnieszka, and the fantastic world-building.
    Loved this book and you can read my full review here: Uprooted.

  3. Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas:
    This book was more like a rom-com movie. It’s a feel-good, emotional, and inspirational kinda dreamy love story which 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.
    Not highly recommended but good read if you are in the mood for something light and easy. You can also find my full review here: Your Perfect Year.
  1.  The Girl in the Tree by Şebnem İşigüzel:
    A very uniquely powerful story of a girl who has given up on the world and decides to live in the trees. This book 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.
    I recommend this book if you are in the mood for a uniquely interesting story about war. You can read my full review here: The Girl in the Tree.
  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama:
    Becoming is a memoir about Michelle 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. I absolutely enjoyed reading this autobiography because it was very inspiring and that’s what leaders are supposed to do.
    Highly recommend this one and you can read my full review here: Becoming.

  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger:
    Loved this book, it’s a classic after all! The protagonist is Holden Caulfield and the book is narrated in the voice of this sixteen-year-old boy. The character of Holden is simple yet complex, it’s kind of hopelessly attractive. The Catcher in the Rye is a book about teenage angst, alienation, rebellion, and depression. The style of writing is extremely unique and the narration is in the form of a stream of consciousness. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this classic book of literary realism and definitely recommend the literary aficionados to give it a read, if you haven’t yet!
    You can read my full review and my personal thoughts on The Catcher in the Rye here. 

  3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
    An incredible novel that tells us about the Biafran civil war of Nigeria and how the lives of people are affected by the turbulence of war. It is a powerful and impactful story about Nigerian history that also discusses relationships and love. Half of a Yellow Sun is a book that highlights topics like postcolonial traditions, racism, and different ethnicities. Amongst all of this, love is also a prominent theme that remains in the book right till the end, even though it gets a little complicated and twisted due to the complexities of the characters and situations.
    It is a great book that I highly recommend you read if you are in the mood for a love story in a war background. You can read my full review here, Half of Yellow Sun.

  4. Phoenixville Rising by Robb Cadigan:
    Phoenixville Rising is a novel written by local author Robb Cadigan who also resides in a town named Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It’s a fictionalized version of history that follows the story of Boo and Sketch, and the remnants of a once bustling steel town. In the absence of the steel mill jobs, the youth of the town are drawn towards petty crime and gang culture.
    You can read my full review here, Phoenixville Rising

Reedsy Books

I am super picky when it comes to books (otherwise too). Last year, I got the opportunity to write reviews for a website called Reedsy and it required me to read new books mostly by debut authors that haven’t been published yet. Some of the books that I had to review were selected not out of excitement but I did it anyway for the opportunity. I cannot say that all the books were great but some of them were good enough. Hopefully someday I will discover an excellent book on Reedsy that could become a bestseller and I would be the first one to have read it! A few of the books that I have reviewed below might not be popular at the moment but have the potential to become a best-seller with more recognition. You can also follow my links to read my full reviews on Reedsy.

9. Close Watch by Signe Christensen:

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 is a fictional story about Amber who is constantly stalked and how she ends up feeling unsafe no matter where she goes. A good suspense novel written by Signe Christensen. You can read this book on one of those weekends when you are in a mood for some easy and quick to read thriller stories.
You can read my full review here Close Watch

10. A Season of Disruption by Jacqueline P Walker:
A Season of Disruption is a short yet impactful memoir written by Jacqueline P Walker. Life can present us with unpredictable situations for which we aren’t ready most of the time. 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.
Read my full review here A Season of Disruption

11. Wanderer by Court Young:
This poetry book discusses the author’s journey of falling in love with a wrong guy, heartbreak, pain, hope, and finding forever love. Some of the poems are also about traveling and seasons which reflect the poet’s state of mind. There are some books that you read and then regret. This was one such poetry book that wasn’t my cup of tea. But if you are in your teens going through a breakup or if you are in a mood for something emotional, then this book is good enough. Read my full review here Wanderer

12. Midnight Light by Brian Paglinco:
This turned out to be a uniquely interesting book of poems that romanticizes the concept of death, nature, love, and redemption. Midnight Light is a combined passionate labor of love by two friends Michael Pace and Brian Paglinco. Michael weaves the rich and rhythmic poems through his writing and Brian has provided captivating photographs that frame the theme of this book. The poems are written artistically and without hesitation about certain themes that are difficult to discuss.
Read my full review here Midnight Light.

13. Happy Here and Now by Matt Tracy:
It is a self-help book that discusses situations and behaviors that we usually don’t pay attention to or tend to neglect. 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. This book is like a guide that will train us to understand those emotions better, process them, and sometimes learn to let them go.
Read my full review here Happy Here and Now.

14. The Champion by Wayne Rajah:
The Champion is a fantasy fiction novel where 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, to take his mother on a mythical journey in an attempt to save her life.
Read my full review here: The Champion.

15. Paradise Taken the Diary of Eden Flores by Omar Gonzalez:
A heart wrenching and impactful story! When the innocence of a child is tainted by the gruesome realities of the world, then paradise becomes an unattainable dream. This book is a collection of true events about a girl named Eden Flores. The author, Omar Gonzalez, captures Eden’s life experiences remarkably in this book and shares them with us in the form of stories and poems. It’s a short book that you can finish in one sitting thereby making it an easy recommendation. You can find my full review of Paradise taken here.
Read my full review here: Paradise Taken the Diary of Eden Flores.

16. Lighthouse by Christopher Parker:
This book is about a mysterious journey into a magical realm where there’s suspense, love, & of course the lighthouse. Struggling with the loss of her mother, Amy Tucker finds herself with her father following a case in the mysterious town of Seabrook. There, a chance encounter with Ryan sets in motion a chain of events. The long dormant lighthouse which is the centerpiece of the town comes alight much to the fascination and joy of the local townsfolk.
Read my full review here: Lighthouse.

17. Eli And The Mystery Of The Hallowshine Dragon by Eve Cabanel:
This is a picture book for children. It’s a fantasy story about a moon elf, Eli, who helps her friend Luna in solving a strange mystery of the enchanted forest. When Luna’s baby bunny transforms into hard rock candy, she runs to Eli for help. This transpires into a tale full of bravery, friendship, and the healing power of love. So if you want to read a story to your child, then pick this one! Kids will love the beautiful and attractive illustrations in this book. It’ll help in sparking their imagination and increasing their curiosity.
Read my full review here: Eli and the Mystery of the Hallowshine Dragon.

18. My Name is Wilma by Kirsten Bett:
My Name is Wilma is a quirky book that will take you on a journey of exploration of the world through the eyes of a cat. If you’re a cat lover, then cozy up and enjoy the ride. The story is narrated from the cat’s point of view. Wilma begins on the Dutch tulip fields where her life was rough and rugged. It is only after she meets her humans, Kirsten and Willem, does she realize how wonderfully sheltered a cat’s life can be. Sadly I was expecting the book to get better but I started losing interest and somehow managed to finish the book.
Read my full review here: My Name is Wilma

19. Eat Your Rice Cakes by Margaret Weiss:
Eat Your Rice Cakes is a self-help book for people suffering from celiac disease. Margaret Weiss takes us through her journey of diagnosis, struggles of living with the disease, and finally acceptance of her condition. This book is a great resource for other patients who have their own struggles with celiacs and also for readers who are curious about the disease.
Read my full review here: Eat Your Rice Cakes

20. Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest by Martin Boško:
This book is a collection of poems assembled by the author, Martin Boško, through one calendar year. The use of imagery, powerful expressions, and moving poems give us an insight into the inner workings of the poet’s mind. It takes you on a journey inspired by Greek mythology while also tugging on the heartstrings with feelings of love, betrayal, and longing.
Read my full review here: Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest.

Top 5 Favorites Books for 2021:

  1. Catcher in the Rye
  2. Becoming
  3. Uprooted
  4. Half of a Yellow Sun
  5. Paradise Taken the Diary of Eden Flores (Reedsy)

Happy Reading!

Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

#BookReview
Classic|Literary Fiction|Young Adult|Isolation

Everyone has heard about the book, The Catcher in the Rye. It’s a classic after all! I had heard about it too but never got the opportunity to read it. When I saw this book in the library last week, I grabbed it with both hands. It is a tiny little book with hardly 240 pages and it’s that kind of a book that seeks attention. You know that feeling where you can’t just walk past the book doing other chores without feeling guilty. It’s like the book was waiting for me to pick it up and start reading. I am not sure why I am saying all this, I guess I am still under Holden’s spell. But what I’m trying to say is I was tremendously excited to read this book and when I finally sat down to read it, I couldn’t stop. The Catcher in the Rye was all that was on my mind.

The protagonist is Holden Caulfield and the book is narrated in the voice of this sixteen-year-old boy. What can I say about him? When I first started reading it, I wondered why Holden is always angry and annoyed with everything and everybody. He hates his prep school Pencey because he finds it to be fake, he doesn’t understand the point of studying subjects with which he cannot relate, he hates his roommates and their nasty behavior, and he dislikes many other things which will go on right till the end of the book. After failing in all subjects except English, in which he is brilliant, Pencey Prep expels him. Holden is a teenager who is afraid like any other kid to go back home because he knows his parents are going to be super upset. The holidays are about to begin and Holden is expected to be home by Wednesday but he finds it difficult to spend another day in the school hostel so he decides to leave on Saturday and explore New York.

Holden is a restless kid who smokes like a chimney, he doesn’t sleep, doesn’t eat, and is constantly looking for companionship in everyone. Be it a cab driver, a person sitting next to him in a cafe, or a pub. He walks around the streets of New York late at night freezing his tail off wearing his red hunting hat trying to find a place where he can find someone to have an interesting conversation with. He thinks of all his friends that he can call and speak to but is afraid he might wake their parents. So he walks around like a madman smoking and striking up conversations with random people. But every time he does that he is either disappointed or he is asked to shut up and leave. He also meets his terrific ex-girlfriend Sally but is again disappointed after meeting her. Nobody gets him.

The Catcher in the Rye is a book about teenage angst, alienation, rebellion, and depression. The style of writing is extremely unique and the narration is in the form of a stream of consciousness. Many readers dislike the frank use of language, profanity, and use of sexuality but it didn’t bother me much. I felt the book was so expressive, fluid, and descriptive that by the end of it, it almost felt like I knew the character personally. Like Holden could be your friend or that weird guy that you would have been around at least once in your life. I have always been curious to know what goes on in the mind of these ‘weird fellas’. Holden is a good kid who had to deal with a lot of terrible things at a young age, like death and suicide. He is sensitive, has a reclusive nature, and acts like he hates the entire human race. But this is a thinly veiled cry for attention as we see Holden try to create connections throughout the book and he only wants the world to be a better place. When he comes across someone smart but not a good person he expects better from them. He has an extreme personality with extreme expectations from life where he wants to experience unconditional love, real honest people, and a better world.

The character of Holden is simple yet complex, it’s kind of hopelessly attractive. We’ve all had these feelings where we have been frustrated with things that happen around us. We curb those feelings, don’t act on them, build a wall around us and surround ourselves with people who understand us and our values but we don’t do anything about the horrible things that happen outside the wall. Because what can we do, we are only a minuscule unimportant part amongst billions of other people who have their own way of thinking. J.D. Salinger has expressed these raw feelings and emotions with so much honesty that you might feel disgusted to read certain lines but that’s the truth, and the truth is often disturbing.

The Catcher in the Rye is an interesting read for adults but could be misleading to a malleable teenage mind. Ahh, the review turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. If you managed to read the entire review, thank you, really! Apologies if the writing was erratic with too many opinions. But the book does that to you, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this classic book of literary realism and definitely recommend the literary aficionados to give it a read, if you haven’t yet!

#21 Fuzzy Bunnies

Day 21 Inktober : Fuzzy

A room full of soft fuzzy stuff like plush rugs, pompom throws, velvet pillows, sheer curtains with tassels, extra soft socks, woollen sweaters, and fuzzy bunny slip-ons. With warm and inviting colors like white, cream, pink, and brown to make the kind of room that I’d love to nuzzle in with a book and a fluffy cat.