Monday, 31 August 2015

Mini-Reviews: Short Story Collections.


I've read quite a few short-story collections in this past month. 
Personally I am a big fan of short stories. They are a perfect read for a busy days and busy lives. Stories to dip in and out of. Read all in one go or read one and re-visit the rest of the stories later. Perfect for busy days. And I find short-stories are great to read along with other books as well. 

Since there isn't always much to say about each short story collection, I figured I'd group of a few books together in this post. 

Book: Excess, The Tehelka Book of Stories 

Edited by: Jai Arjun Singh and Nisha Susan 

Review: I had picked this book up on a random whim while browsing books on Amazon and thought I'd give this anthology a chance. 
Sadly this was an overall disappointment.
The collection boasts of quite a few up and coming writers, some I've read and others I read for the first time here. I liked that I could try and sample the writing of people I hadn't read before. 
I liked only 3-4 stories in this book out of 12 odd letdown certainly. 

Rating: 2.5/5 

Book: A Lovesong for India- Tales from East and West

Author: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Review: This is my second time reading something from the author. I read Heat and Dust last year and I didn't really love it. I loved the writing but the story and characters wasn't at all something I enjoyed.
This book was nice and I enjoyed the many stores in it. I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection. Some of the stories are set in India, others abroad but all of them have an Indian element or character in them.
I really enjoyed the writing and story telling in these stories.

Rating: 3.5/5

Book: Another Man's Wife

Author: Manjul Bajaj

Review: I loved, loved, loved this book!
The writing was really good and all the stories were different from each other.
A collection of stories set all over India, from Shimla, to Goa, Lucknow, Gujarat and big cities and little villages. I loved this diverse settings of the stories. I enjoyed all of these stories, I loved them and loved the time I spent reading this book.
The title story in particular is stunning. It talks about the dispossessed tribal people in Gujarat, those affected by the Narmada Dam project. It was poignant and heart-breaking and thought provoking.
I highly recommend this book. I can't wait to read more from this author.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Stationery Sunday: Pocket Sized Traveler's Notebook

So, I received my first ever leather Field Notes sized (5.5x3.5 inches) Traveler's Notebook! I ordered this from an Etsy seller called 'Naked Cow Leather'. As you can see, it is a gorgeous camel brown leather and is super soft! I asked for the edges to be stitched and for a pen loop to be added. You get these extras by paying a small additional fee.

Now, not that one needs an excuse to buy more stationery, but I do have a fair amount of travel coming up and so, I want to try using the Field Notes size to plan, journal and use as my on-the-go doodle book whilst I am on the road. I think this little TN will be just the thing!

In terms of set-up, I just did the basic- I added in a dashboard- that's just some pretty paper that has been laminated- to hold post-its/ sticky notes and other page flags and such that I can quickly reach when I am on-the-move. I have added two little pocket-sized notebooks- one to do my daily journaling in and the other to act as a scheduler/ planner type book.

And yes, we don't get Field Notes very easily in India and so, I found these cute Memo Books at a bookstore and picked them up. They are the same size and are more readily available. I need to see how they fare with ink pens and different inks, though, but these are still a good alternative.

So, that was a little sneak peak into my newest travel companion. As I start using this TN a bit more, especially, whilst I am traveling, I'll share more pics and thoughts about it.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Review: The Weightloss Club by Devapriya Roy.

Book: The Weight Loss Club

Author: Devapriya Roy

Pages: 304

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 days

Read On: Paperback

Plot Summary: Set in a middle-class housing colony, this is the story of stay-at-home mum Monalisa, who cannot clean the kitchen counter enough times; Meera, who is bullied constantly by her traditional mother-in-law; college-going Abeer, who isnt sure how to impress the glamorous Mandy; academic Aparajita, who has no takers on the marriage mart; philosopher Ananda, whom no one takes seriously; and Treeza, a former school secretary now sunk in gloom. Into their midst arrives Oxford-returned Sandhya: half hippie, half saadhvi, full spiritual guru. Under her aegis is formed The Weight Loss Club, throwing the lives of our heroes and heroines into utter and delightful disarray.

But while chemistry brews and equations change, one question remains: who is Brahmacharini Sandhya, and why on earth has she moved into Nancy Housing Cooperative?

General Thoughts: I bought this book on a blue day. A day I was in need of cheering up and this book seemed funny and sweet and just what I needed. Of course I waited a few months to read it and when I read it I loved it a lot! 

Things I Liked: 

1. I found the writing really nice, light and fun and yet very well crafted lines and such good story telling. 

2. The setting of the book was really nice too. A middle-class housing society with it's many inhabitants and their lives and stories were all very interesting and engaging. 

3. I also love books set in Calcutta, a city I spend all my summers in. 

4. I really loved that this book showed how cosmopolitan Calcutta truly is, it's not just Bengalis living in the great metropolis. This book shows a North Indian family, an Anglo Indian family and an East Indian person living in one society. 

5. There are so many stories in this book--- a typical obsessed Bengali mother, a young woman trying to loose weight to get married, a middle aged man dealing with a mother on her death bed, a Sadhvi trying to help the people in this housing society and a couple dealing with loss. Each of these stories were very interesting and I loved them all. 

6. There is also the story of a Sadhvi- Sandhya interspersed within the narrative of this housing society. I found her story very interesting and also loved the slight history lesson about the East Indians living in West Indies. 

7. The pujo preparation in the building was also fun to read about. 

8. The love story in the book is also sweet and progressed very nicely and believably. 

9. The book tackles several important issues such a parental pressure on their kids academic life,  loss of a child and infertility, postpartum depression, loneliness, societies expectations about marriage and what makes a desirable life-partner. Things that need to talked about and were dealt with so well in this book. 

10. All of the many characters in this book are so well-crafted and fun and memorable and seem so real and genuine. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I wasn't a big fan of the college fest story arc and the young people in the book. I didn't care for that story at all. 

Rating: 4/5 

I really enjoyed this book and enjoyed my time reading it. I highly recommend it.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Book: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Pages: 396

I Read: On my Kindle

Read in: Across 3 days

Plot Summary: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. 

After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? 

General Thoughts: I have had The Martian on my Kindle for more than a year or so. I bought it after I read some rave reviews of the book on Goodreads and the premise sounded interesting. I don't know why I picked it up now to read, just when I was beginning to come down with the mother-of-all bronchitis and such, but, boy, this was such a great choice! The Martian is a smart, funny, sufficiently science-y and overall well-written book.

What I Liked: Here's the list:

1. The premise. I know, I know, the crazy-sounding premise of an astronaut being left behind on Mars and how he manages to brave all kinds of, haa haa, literally, astronomical odds, to survive got me curious. I mean, how can one survive on Mars?! It does not have O2 or any usable/ potable form of water.. and what about food? So, like I said, it got me curious and I was intrigued!

2. Not wanting to spoil things, but the ways in which Mark uses the resources he has to survive on Mars are just so simple and so well thought out (scientifically) by the author. Mark does simple things and tweaks the devices, food and uses basic science to survive and, even thrive, on Mars for about a year and a half!

3. Mark is an amazing character! He has a really funny voice and a never-say-die attitude. He has setbacks and deals with it in his characteristic wry and dry sense of humour. Mark manages to stay optimistic, strong and mostly happy through his various trials and tribulations on Mars. His voice is just so much fun and such a joy to read!

4. The other characters in the book are the various scientists, administrators and other technical experts at NASA. Some of the notable characters that I liked reading about were Dr. Venkat Kapoor (the head of the Mars Mission), Mindy (the girl who plays a crucial role in getting Mark any kind of help from Earth), all of Mark's colleagues on his Mars spaceship. There are several characters who move in and out of the story but you don't really have to work hard to keep up with who they are and what their purpose is in the overall narrative.

5. Mark's journey on Mars- literal and metaphorical- is very enjoyable! As readers, we get a very real sense of the Martian atmosphere, of the issues that Mark is dealing with, the things he does to fix whatever gets broken, how he manages to produce food and find himself usable water. It was, to me, an extremely riveting and interesting read.

What I Didn't Like: Not too much, but, umm, the book was sort of predictable. And cheesy. But, I didn't mind that too much!

Rating: 5/5

Even if you are not a sci-fi and/or fantasy fan, I would still recommend that you go read this book. It is fun, has some nice characters and a hero that you can really root for!

Friday Favourites/// Fox + Bag + Bookmark + Funky Places!


And a super duper happy Friday to you! 

I am bringing my Friday Favourites a little early to you today(pretty much at the stroke at midnight in my time zone) Thursday was a bit glum...spent mostly in bed trying to feel better. And then I spent most of my evening watching the News and being  equal parts horrified and scandalised by the tragic Sheena Bora murder case! People can be so awful sometimes! 

Moving on to cheerful favourite things to focus on this week! 

1. Super cute Fox cards/journaling cards from Happie Scrappie! I am in love with all things Fox and these cuties are perfection! 

2. A tiny little gorgeous bag that my sister picked up from Jaipur. So lovely. Handmade and so vibrant. 

3. A colourful bookmark that we recently found again tucked into an old book. 

4. #Pani meaning details and design sensibility we saw at Colaba Social. 

5. And the best dang chicken burger ever...well at least in Bombay..the Crispy Chicken Burger with the works at Indigo Deli. So good! 

Hope your Friday is nice and the weekend is everything you hope for. 

Mine will be quiet one. 
I don't see myself doing much. 
Staying in and fighting off the stomach fun at all! :( 

I will be back with book reviews when my stomach is not in such agony! 

Happy Reading :) 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Travel Diary//// Road-Trip to Shirdi.


Exactly a week ago today I went on a road-trip to Shirdi with my family. 
Shirdi is best known as being the home of Sai Baba- a religious and spiritual guru. A man who lived very simply and preached love, helping others, forgiveness and charity. My family deeply believes in Sai Baba and whenever my parents are in Bombay, they make a trip to Shirdi. 

So off we went...we left early in the morning at 5:00 am and it was smooth sailing for a while. Quiet early morning scenes. Pitch darkness and then the quiet sunrise. Cloudy skies and open roads. It was all good. We drove through Igatpuri, a place I've only seen through the windows of a train or while driving by. I really want to visit it and spent some time there. It looks beautiful and serene. 

We hit a spot of trouble half way there, dog ran into our car (the dog was fine) and damaged our radiator and compressor and soon enough our AC stopped working and our horn sounded like a whimpering goat. :( Funny but not fun! 

We made it to Shirdi at 10:15 am and went straight to the temple and stood in line.
It took an hour to get darshan and we had an amazing darshan...we could stand in the main temple for a while. 

Then we headed to lunch and then we waited for our car to get fixed.
The garage in Shirdi couldn't do much so we headed out to 4:00 pm. 
The road was lovely and it was nice-ish having the windows down and the wind in my hair
We got to Nasik at 6:00 pm and it is such a lovely little city and the weather was so pleasant. 
It took another 3 hours for our car to get fully fixed. I must say, the folks at the Honda service center went above and beyond to help us out. 

Finally we hit the road and headed home. The late night drive on the highway was fun too. 
We finally got home after midnight utterly exhausted! 

While I enjoyed the drive and the temple visit..the rest of the day was pretty dismal. 
But you know what I love about my family? 
I love that we can laugh and find funny moments in the darkest of times.
I love travel, even small day trips like this. 

Here's to more travel...albeit without such road-blocks! 


Monday, 24 August 2015

Monday Moods/// Old Books of Mine.


Hope this Monday is treating you well. 

My week is off to a funny start--- my poor sister is down with bronchitis and fever. :(
And my ear feels funny...that pre-cold feeling. 

So lots of tea is being had and I am reading some Feluda stories to keep me happy. 
I had some warm, fluffy idlis and vaada and I am much happier.:) 

For today's Monday Moods post I want to show you guys some of my older books. Books I've had for 7-8 years and books that live under my little bench thingie. A storage spot of some of my precious books! :) 

I clean these books out once a year. Dust them. Air them out. Re-org them and dig out old loves I want to read. 

These are some pictures I snapped during the latest cleaning spree of my old books. 

I wish I had a proper library for my books. A room just for my loves. 
But for now this works...a wooden chest to hold my treasures. 


Happy Reading guys! 

I'll be back with some reviews tomorrow. I've been reading some lovely books!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Stationery Sunday: My Neendori Set-Up.


On today's edition of Stationery Sunday, I am going to talk to you about the uber-cute world of 'fabric doris'. Just like you have Traveler's Notebooks (TNs) in all kinds of leather, you also get them in a variety of cute fabrics!

One of the first fabric doris that we ordered was from Love Neen over on Etsy. Neen has a very cute, slightly Kawai inspired, collection of fabrics and her work is of a very high quality.

Let me show you how I set up my Neendori. I am using regular sized Neendori to jot down thoughts about my currents reads. This helps me later when I sit down to review a book and generally I like having a space to keep track of my thoughts as I am reading a book. 

So let's see how I've set up my Neendori. 

Isn't the floral print just lovely?! 
I am mad for all things floral and when it came to picking out my first ever fabric dori I obviously went for a floral number. 
I also chose a mint coloured macaroon sticker to adorn my dori. 

The back of my dori, just as pretty as the front.

A front of my insert notebook. It was plain brown, which is totally fine...but I decided to use this paper doilly to decorate it a little bit. The paper doilly came as a decoration of the package in which my dori arrived. 

A Little Miss Bad bookmark to mark the page I am on.

Like I said, I am mainly using this book to make book/reading goals and keep track of the books I am reading and my thoughts about the books.

I have also added a little booklet to maintain a long List of Happy Things.

I really love my Neendori. It's so well made and sturdy and the prints in her shop are all gorgeous.

I love fabric doris and I love that there is so much choice in fabric doris. Leather doris are nice, obviously but fabric doris just make me so happy.


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Weekend Reads & TV Shows.


Weekend is here and I am so glad for this week to be over! 

My plans for this weekend are simple..Read and watch a TV show I've been loving! 

 My current read//// Another Man's Wife by Manjul Bajaj. A collection of short stories set in India and by an author I've never read from before. So I am excited to read this book. I am only a few pages in but I do like the writing style and the stories all seem interesting.

Next Read/// It's time to delve back into the world of Feluda again. I love Feluda and Ray's stories are always delightful  to read and re-visit. It's been a little over 6 years since I read this and I am excited to get back to this. :)

Weekend Watching/// UnReal---I discovered this show this week and I am so in love and obsessed with this show. It's based on the behind the scenes of a reality TV show which is supposed to be like The Bachelor. It shows the contestants and their struggles and politics and also the producers of the show trying to get the best TV moments ever. It is interesting and disturbing and hardcore and a really intense show. 

It's great for those who love shows like this and any other reality show. I am not the biggest reality fan but I do watch a few shows here and there. It was interesting to see how people are manipulated and 'produced' into being volatile and loud and fighting.

I am loving this show. I only have five more episodes to watch to complete the first season.

What are your plans this weekend?

Have a lovely weekend guys :)

Friday, 21 August 2015

Friday Favourites: Places I Love--- A Spoonful of Sugar.


Happy Friday. 

Boy am I happy this week is nearly over and done with. :) 

What a week this has been! 

This is a flashback sort of post. 

About a place I loved dearly. 

A Spoonful of Sugar a little cafe in Bangalore was a place very close to our flat and a place we ate at all the time. Most of the time we picked up our food and ate at home but some days we ate at beautiful cafe itself. Simple, indie and pretty and so welcoming and charming. 

We loved pretty much everything they had on their menu. The food was fantastic and the desserts were out of this world. You have got to try them. 

I clearly remember this evening...we had been out all day and came to the cafe at near closing time. We ordered our food, got coffee and had a lovely meal. Also these pictures reminded me to find this floral backpack of mine and use it soon. 

And I think...this was a Friday as well! :) 

Have a lovely weekend guys. 

All I plan on doing is reading, resting and eating some yummy food!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Vignettes: Necklace + Sunset + Coffee!!!


Happy Thursday folks! 

And all I did this Thursday was sleep, eat fruits and rest. 

Yesterday, I took a roadtrip with my family to Shirdi-- a temple town. The trip was full of bumps. 
A dog ran into our car---the dog is fine---but the car was a mess. Busted radiator and compressor and a nasty dent in front. First out AC went out. And then the horn went kaput. 

Long story short we spent nearly 10 hours getting our poor car fixed. God bless, seriously bless the great dudes of the Honda dealership in Nasik for helping us out! 

We got home at 12:30 am having left at five in the morning! 

A long, long day! 

So let's talk about something happy instead. 


1. A favourite necklace. Elephants and other happy shiny bits. 

2. A lovely pink tinged sunset. 

3.  My spice box full of everyday essential Indian spices. 

4. Printed leggings and super comfy flats. 

5. A lilac satchel. 

6. Coffee I love! 

Today all I want to do is eat my dinner, drink some lemon tea and watch some shows on my laptop. 

And decide on my sister's new laptop..

And start reading a new book. 

Will be back soon! 

Happy Reading.