Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sister Reads | My Top 13 Books of 2013

Hello, hello! The New Year is barely three hours away and, yes, an exciting time is being had by us as we cook something yummy and watch movies at home. So much better than trying to beat the traffic and get to any restaurant or some such, in my opinion.

2013 has been a good reading year for me. I discovered some new authors I love and I read about topics that I hadn't read about before. The latter, really, is one of my top reasons for loving to read as much as I do. I love that books can take us to a different world, open our minds to magic and that books can help us walk in someone else's shoes. Books are magical! So, without further ado, here is my list of the 13 books that I absolutely loved in 2013.

I started the year by reading Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love. I loved this book for its great writing, the subject- I did not know much about Rumi or Shams Tabrizi apart from their poems- and the lovely "rules" themselves. I reviewed the book HERE.

Kate Morton is an author we discovered last year. The Secret Keeper was a book I read way back in January and really loved. Kate Morton's writing style is very beautiful and I love how her stories switch back and forth between two time periods. This particular book was all about family and secrets and World War II- all things I enjoy reading about. 

The Light Between Oceans is a simple yet beautiful story, which also happens to be very well written. There are several dilemmas that the characters in this book face and I enjoyed the complex motivations of each character. I reviewed this book HERE.

Those Who Save Us presents a very different and, in my opinion, an essential perspective on World War II Germany. There is so much written about- in fiction and non-fiction- about the Holocaust, the way life was in the UK, other parts of Europe but not so much is written about how things were in Germany. The Book Thief did that and so does this book. Those Who Save Us is a wonderful story of struggle, survival and the cost all of it extracts on your soul. Anna is barely 20 and pregnant when she has to fend for herself in Weimar, Germany against the backdrop of the rising power and cruelty of the Reich. She tries valiantly to do her bit for the Resistance but when it seems like she will be caught and/or shot, she makes the harder choice of trying to survive for the sake of her young daughter. 
What I love about this book is the whole theme of survival and shame. Anna was so ashamed of the choice she makes that right until the end, she does not take credit for the "good" that she did. Her daughter, Trudy, who has grown up without fully knowing the truth of the war years, assumes things about her mother that are just not true. The mother-daughter dynamic in this book makes it a very interesting reading as well. 

Markus Zusak does it again with I am the Messenger. This is a wonderful, heart-warming and lovely book about caring for those around us- in our community and our lives. The review is HERE.

The Round House is a coming-of-age tale set within a Native American Reservation. Again, this book was a lovely peek in the lives and culture of Native Americans as well as a wonderful coming-of-age tale of the protagonist- Joe. I reviewed this book HERE.

A Sherlock Holmes novel that truly reads like something Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself wrote!! Can there be a higher compliment than that? I don't think so! This was an amazing book and it took me back to my tweens when I used to devour Sherlock Holmes books during summer vacations! The review is right HERE.

One of the best non-fiction books I have EVER read! One of the best books I have read this year. What a charming and lovely voice Jeannette Walls has! The review can be found right HERE.

Speaking of best books and charming voices, one simply has to mention Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides. What a brilliant book about gender, identity and what it is like to live your life as the real you. This book is simply magnificent and I should do a full review of it soon! Highly, highly recommend! 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is a simple, poignant and sweet tale of a boy who is going through the very worst time in his life. It is about growing up and things that make us sad and learning to deal with loss. It is such a lovely, lovely book. Pooja has reviewed it HERE.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a magical (hah and magical realism induced) story about the need for human beings to connect and that simple truism that if you want something badly enough, the universe will send it to you. This is a lovely charming book about relationships and love and it is set in Alaska during the Gold Rush! Highly recommended! 

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a thought-provoking little book about the consequences of words and actions, no matter how unintentional they may be. I reviewed the book HERE. I highly recommend it. 

Last but not the least, Stef Penney's The Invisible Ones is a well-written, exciting read with likeable characters and a peek into the life, beliefs and culture of the Romanies. Ray Lovell, half-Gypsy, is a private detective specialising in cheating spouses. When another Gypsy, Leon Wood, approaches Ray to look for his daughter, Rose (missing or the past six years), Ray gets pulled into the fringe world of the Gypsies.  The book has two main narrators- Ray and JJ (a 14 year old who is the missing woman's cousin by marriage). Through their eyes, the reader is led into the fascinating world of the Gypsies- a group of people who are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their "traveller" ways in our fast-changing world. As Ray intensifies his search for Rose, long-buried secrets of the Janko family begin to tumble out with shocking results. 

Hope you got a few books to put on your reading list for 2014! I have a few books that I super excited about reading next year and I hope I can read as much as I did this year! 

Happy New Year, guys! :) See you in 2014! :) 

Monday, 30 December 2013

My Top 13 Books of 2013!!!

2013 has been a good reading year for me. No, a GREAT year. I read 179 new books and re-read some 10 old loves. That is a lot of books! I don't know if 2014 will be as good or whether I'll read as much. As long as I read good books I'll be happy girl. 

When choosing my favourtie books of the year, I tried to think of the books I've read and pick ones that have stuck with me. I also looked at my Goodreads and saw if based on ratings I could pick my top books- figures I gave 27 books a 5/5! And a majority of the books I read were 4/5. So that rating system didn't help much. So in the end I just picked books I really enjoyed and ones I see myself going back to. 

So in no particular order...of merit...here are my favourite books of the year 2013! 

1. Agatha Christie Books: This was the first time in my life I started reading Agatha Christie and I cannot believe it took me this long! Seriously! I can't quite pick just one book to name as a favourite so I am cheating and picking most of the ones I read this year. I've read about 9-10 books by her this year and I plan to read some more. I thoroughly enjoy her writing, characterization and her insight into human nature. I just cannot recommend them enough! 

2. The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair: I loved this book and had never heard of it before I chanced upon it at a bookstore. See this is why I love bookstores! This book had me gripped from the very beginning and I loved the story, the people and the setting of this book. I have a full review HERE. 

3. Afterlife: Ghost Stories from Goa by Jessica Faliero: Another random pick from an online bookstore, mainly because it was really cheap, I adore this book! Read it in one sitting and loved the ghost stories and the characters and the premise. The twist in the end is  both amazing and sad. I reviewed it HERE

4. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: I read Anna and The French Kiss last year and really enjoyed it. But this book I loved, mainly because Cricket Bell is just awesome. Read it for a lovely, happy, quick read. I did a full review HERE. 

5. Jaya: An Illustrated Re-Telling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik: Oh my God! I really loved this book and read it in like 2 hours. The Mahabharata (an Indian epic) is one of my all time favourite story. I LOVE it and enjoy anything to do with it. I have read other re-tellings of this epic and therefore thought I could perhaps skip this one. Wrong! 

This was a wonderful book with a lot of the side stories and myths, I enjoyed it very much and even got/forced my dad to read it. I will do a proper review very soon. 

6. The Things Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This was my year of discovering this author and I read 2 more books by her after this short story collection. I adored the writing and the setting of these stories. A full review of this book is HERE. 

7. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: I loved this book and really loved the characters and the setting of New Orleans in the 1950s. It was a sweet, heart-warming read and a full review is HERE

8. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: Jack The Ripper, ghosts and a boarding school! Sold! Loved this book. Read it on a rainy afternoon and was sufficiently spooked! A review is HERE. 

I still can't get my hands on the next book in the series and it pisses me off! Need to read it soon. 

9. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: I LOVED this book. The only non-fiction book to make it to my list and if there is one book you read out of my top 13 I'd urge you to read this one. It breaks your heart and makes me cry but it also fills you with hope. I loved the writing and I cannot wait to read more of the author's works.  Full review HERE. 

10. The Cuckoos Calling by Robert Galbraith/ JK Rowling: I honestly bought this book only because JK Rowling wrote it. I love her and will support anything she does! But this book is pretty remarkable. I am a big mystery/thriller/whodunnit books and this one didn't disappoint. Full review HERE

11. The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri: This might be the best book I've read all year. Lahiri is one of those authors whose writing I love so much I can read them talking about just anything. Even mundane things seem wonderful when Lahiri writes them. I enjoyed this book and recently did a review HERE.http://thewhimsybookworm.blogspot.in/2013/12/sister-reads-review-lowland-by-jhumpa.html 

12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Loved it and recently gushed about it HERE. I can't wait to read more Gaiman. 

13. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: I had meant to read this graphic novel for a long, long time and finally this year I read it and loved it. The story, the feisty characters and reading about Iran. I also read Embroideries by the same author and loved it. Review can be found HERE

As a bonus jonas here are some other books I loved this year: 

Whoa! That is the 13 books I enjoyed the most this year...I think...I am sure 2 weeks later I'l think of another great book and want to come back and add it. Like I said, I did read a lot of great books this year and very few terrible books, so this list was a little difficult to compile. 

What are the best books you've read this year? 

Do tell. 

I hope 2014 is a wonderful year for all of you. 

Happy New Year guys :) 

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Vignettes~ 2/// Causeway Day.

One of my all time favourite things to do in Bombay is to take a walk on Causeway. Colaba always has a way to cheer me up. A walk on the busy stretch, littered with delightful little stalls with unexpected treasures always makes me smile. I love finding a good bargain and of course the haggling makes the shopping expedition truly special. 

Recently, I spend the day with my family walking around Causeway and spent the evening sitting on Marine Drive and getting gently breezed. 

A cup of chai at Hotel Olympia- a place I had seen a million times but never stepped inside. On this day, dad insisted we stepped for a quick cup of delicious tea. 

The dessert counter at Cafe Leopold, I need to sample some of these goodies! 

Causeway treasures. 

We spent the evening sitting on Marine Drive, closer to the Nariman point bit and it was lovely. We even had 10 rupee coffee and watched the world go by. 

Obligatory Queen's Necklace shot. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Book Haul! Faa laaalaaa la la la la la!

These are the 13 books I got for Christmas (like I need an excuse to buy books!). A mix of classics/modern classics/horror and a truckload of Agatha Christie books! 

I got all of these online for a pretty good deal. 

I want to read more Fitzgerald and therefore got 2 of his books. 

The Agatha Christie books just make me so happy and I got each of them fro 100 bucks or less! 

All these books make me giddily happy :) 

Hope you guys had a Merry Christmas and tell me if you got any books?