Monday, 27 May 2019

Summer Reads Volume 1: An Assortment of Thrillers

Hello, hello!
Since we are still a bit away from the monsoons descending upon us here in India, I thought it is not too late to share some summer reading recommendations of the thriller variety!

Let's get started, shall we?

1. Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh 
This is an interesting, twisty-turn-y story about a serial killer, who likes to inject himself a little too much into the investigations of the murders that he commits. Normal serial killers like to be eye witnesses or hover around cops, but this one, he likes to be on the jury. So, there is a serial killer on the jury and Eddie Flynn, ex-con turned super-lawyer has to catch him before the bodycount goes up. A very edge-of-your-seat kinda book.

2. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This is a really interesting book! A woman is accused of murdering her husband. All the evidence points to her being the killer. However, since that night, the woman has not spoken a word! Psychotherapist, Theo Faber believes that he can help her. And then begins the most interesting thriller/ crime story/ murder mystery that I have read this year. Highly recommend!

3. Never Tell by Lisa Gardner 
This is a gripping, fast-paced thriller with three strong female protagonists and a murder that is a lot more complicated than it looks! A man has been shot three times, but his computer has been shot 12 times! His heavily pregnant wife is accused of the crime because she is at the scene holding the gun. Detective DD Warren and vigilante Flora Dane are keen on solving this crime for their own pressing personal reasons. This is a good one!

4. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
I have reviewed this book right here. So, do go and have a read. This was a book that made me think and was a nice little murder mystery to boot!

5. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor 
This is a story that moves in time between present day and the protagonist's childhood in the 1980s. A series of murders take place and chalk drawings show up when they happen. Who is this killer? What is he after? Why is he back after 30 odd years? An interesting and quite gripping book about childhood memories and trauma and, of course, a clever killer.

If you have read some fun summer reads, do let me know here or on my Instagram (@whimsybookworm).

Have a good one, people!

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Book Review: The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey

Book: The Satapur Moonstone

Author: Sujata Massey

Pages: 375

Read: The Paperback Edition pictured above

Read in: 3.5 hours

Plot Summary: India, 1922. 

A curse seems to have fallen upon the royal family of Satapur, a princely kingdom tucked away in the lush Sahyadari mountains, where both the maharaja and his teenage son have met with untimely deaths. The state is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur's two maharanis, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law.

When a dispute arises between the royal ladies over the education of the young crown prince, a lawyer's counsel is required to settle the matter. Since the maharanis live in purdah, the one person who can help is Perveen Mistry, Bombay's only female lawyer. But Perveen arrives to find that the Satapur Palace is full of cold-blooded power play and ancient vendettas.
Too late she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace's deadly curse?

General Thoughts: This is Sujata Massey's second book based on Perveen Mistry, one of the only woman solicitors in British India. We read and loved A Murder on Malabar Hill by Massey last year and we loved it! Read the review of that book here. So, when heard that the second book in the series- The Satapur Moonstone - was out, we simply had to get our hands on it! 

Things I Liked: 
1. The premise is very interesting. A royal family with two mysterious deaths in a short span of time! Obviously, it can't be a coincidence! So, something sinister is at play and palace intrigues can be oh-so-interesting! The book delivers in spades of messed up family dynamics, a mysterious royal enemy lurking in the shadows and various attempts at poisoning the next Maharaja and Perveen herself! So, the premise does live up to its exciting promise! 

2. I loved meeting Perveen again. She is such a dignified yet assertive, honourable and strong woman. She is very focused on doing her duty and what is right even at the risk of harm to herself. I liked that she was traveling alone on a government assignment and even though she was nervous, she overcomes all her misgivings and handles whatever is thrown at her with great presence of mind. 

3. I also really liked Colin Sandringham, ICS Officer and agent to the state of Satapur. A saheb, who was quite assimilated to India and the Indian ways of doing things. He is not one for asserting his power over people without just cause and I liked the budding romance between him and Perveen! 

4. The actual mystery of the Satapur palace is very interesting as well. Though, it is easy to guess who the killer is, the whole journey of figuring out the motive and so on is nicely done. There are a few red herrings as well, which is something I always appreciate! 

5. As with A Murder on Malabar Hill, the attention paid to historical details is quite impressive. The whole era is brought alive and the dynamics between the princely states and British India is brought out very well. There are also some mentions of the nascent Freedom Movement, which makes me hope for the next book to include more of that in the backdrop. 

6. As always, the writing is very good. I savoured the book and was reluctant to read too fast because I wanted to stay immersed in the world of 1922. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Book Review: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Book: The Flatshare

Author: Beth O'Leary

Pages: 400

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 3.5 hours

Plot Summary: Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window.

Things I Liked:

1. I love me a good romance read! I love it even more if there is some amount of character development thrown in and a nice little character arc for each of the protagonists! So, I was super happy to read The Flatshare because apart from being super cute and fluffy, it also had interesting character arcs for both Tiffy and Leon. 

2. The premise of the book is very interesting and relatable. Post the 2008, economic recession, young people everywhere are struggling to make ends meet, especially, in the insane real estate markets in big cities like London, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai, Melbourne etc. So, the premise of a boy and a girl sharing a one-bedroom flat in a unique manner is totally realistic! Leon works as a nurse in the night shift at a Palliative Care Unit and Tiffy works in a publishing house for DIY and Craft books. So, she is at work when Leon is at home and vice versa. The two, hence, embark upon this post-it based communication system, which is super charming. I love the notes they leave each other and how their friendship is formed through these short missives left all over the house. 

3. While this is a rom-com-ish kind of a book, but what I really like about it is that both Tiffy and Leon are carrying heavy burdens of their own. Tiffy has just been dumped by a controlling, emotionally manipulative man and Leon's little brother has been wrongfully accused of armed robbery and is in jail. I really liked how each of these issues is handled and resolved in the book. 

4. Tiffy and Leon are such cute and likeable characters. Tiffy is very kind hearted and always goes above and beyond to help those around her. Leon is, in many ways, a typical older sibling. He is quiet, introverted but fiercely protective of his younger brother- Richie. Leon is not some alpha male, but he is the one, who helps Tiffy face her ex and overcome the gaslighting and abuse that she'd been through. 

5. Tiffy and Leon's friends are also such sweet characters! I love a book with good people! There is also a cute sub-plot about Leon trying to find the long-lost (like World War II long-lost) love of one of his patients from a war. He, actually, goes all over England looking for the right Johnny White, who his patient had fallen in love with during the War; the ensuing shenanigans are also quite funny. 

Things I Didn't Like: Not one thing! This is a really great book! 

Rating: 5/5 

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Book: When We Left Cuba

Author: Chanel Cleeton

Pages: 346

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 4 hours

Plot Summary: The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart.

General Thoughts: Last year, I read and loved Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. Here's the review, if you are interested in reading it. It was, truly, one of the best books of 2018 for me! If you read the review, you will see that I mention that I would've loved to know more about the protagonist (Marisol's) great aunt- Beatriz Perez, a woman with an interesting past and life. So, obviously, when I saw that this book is based on Beatriz, I simply had to pick it up! After all, I love historical fiction and I was already in love with the world of characters created by Cleeton in her debut novel. So, what's not to love, right? 

Things I Liked: 

1. I liked Beatriz. She is intense, determined, loyal, gutsy and stubborn. She wants to kill Fidel Castro as she believes that he was the one, who ordered to have her twin brother- Alejandro- killed at the end of the Cuban Revolution. She is consumed by the need for revenge. She is 22 and her whole focus is on how she is going to kill Castro and avenge her twin's death. 

2. I like the setting of the Cold War era in America. Those were interesting times, for sure, and the author does a good job of bringing alive the tumult and uncertainty of the days leading to and during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

3. Like the first book, I liked how evocatively the author brought to life the world of the exile Cuban families, especially, that of the Perez family. We see how they are trying to adjust to their changed circumstances in Florida and are doing what they can to move on with their lives. Also, what I found interesting is that as each year went by, they kept hoping that they'd be able to move back to Cuba at some point, but, of course, that never happened. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Oh boy! Where do I start?! I had such high expectations from this book because of how good Next Year in Havana was! Plus, I really liked what little we saw of Beatriz in that book and so, getting to know more about her eventful and unconventional life was something I was really looking forward to! However, this book was such a massive letdown in that regard! The book has very little about Beatriz as a spy actually doing espionage-related activities. There is a lot of time spent on her meetings with a CIA operative, where she keeps asking him to send her to Cuba, so she can kill Castro and he keeps telling her that she needs to do smaller things before something that big! Apart from that, we repeatedly get to see Beatriz's relationship with her "powerful American lover", which, after the first two times is just repetitive and dull! 

2. The author has not bothered investing in showing Beatriz's life as a spy or even her starting Law School. Instead, we get a very lame encounter between her and Castro, where, spoiler but no spoiler, she does not end up killing him! I was really annoyed to read a whole lot of nothing about such an interesting, unconventional character like her! In hindsight, Next Year in Havana had a lot more interesting anecdotes about Beatriz than this whole novel dedicated to her! 

3. The author spends a lot of chapters on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Look, maybe a lot of people don't know what happened and what went down and how it was resolved, but I, honestly, did not need multiple chapters on it! Similar sentiment about the Bay of Pigs Invasion. She should've followed the balance of her first book in terms of historical context and personal journeys of the characters. This book was just skewed and felt very rushed- like her editor told her that, "Look, you're hot right now, write another book super quick!" 

Rating: 2.5/5 

Monday, 13 May 2019

Vignettes/// Windows.

Dhanraj Mahal
One of the first buildings to be built in the Art Deco style in Bombay. It housed my dad's office for 35 plus years. The building is not much to look at from the inside, but the facade is really interesting and grand. 

Naval Buildings, Apollo Bunder

The Elphinstone Building, Horniman Circle 


One of my favourite elements about South Bombay's Gothic architecture are its windows. They are not big or spacious as the French windows, but their shapes are so charming and I love the little curved flourishes that they have. Just adds a bit of round-ness to the stark buildings. 

Hope you enjoyed this little photo tour. :) 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Book Haul: Kitab Khana Books. (Books of April 2019.)


In early April, I found myself in my favourite book shop. Kitab Khana is one of my favourite places in Bombay. I browsed the bookshelves and came home with 4 books. And here they are. 


1. Small Days and Night by Tishani Doshi
2. Hijabistan by Sabyn Javeri 
3. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman 
4. The Mountain of Light by Indu Sundaresan 

These two books I've already read and loved. 
Tishani Doshi's writing is sublime and lyrical and this story in particular will stay with you, long after you've finished the book. 

Hijabistan is a collection of short stories about women in hijabs but so much more. I really enjoyed these stories. 

Once I read this book, I can finally watch the film that everyone seems to love so much. 

Indu Sundaresan is such a fantastic writer and I am always game to read something by her. 
The story of the Kohinoor diamond should be a good time. I can't wait to read this book. 


Books are just the best thing ever! 

Monday, 6 May 2019

Book Review: The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Book: The Mother-in-Law

Author: Sally Hepworth

Pages: 352

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 3-4 hours

Plot Summary: Someone once told me that you have two families in your life - the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don't choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they'll never have the closeness she'd been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something.

Things I Liked: 
1. The Mother-in-Law is a book about relationships and complicated family dynamics. Now, old readers of this blog will know that these are two things that I love reading about because families are just so interesting. Like Tolstoy said, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

2. The book is told through two voices- that of Lucy's (the daughter-in-law) and Diana's (the mother-in-law)- and the author has done a great job in creating these two distinct voices and characters. We get to see Lucy's life from the moment she first met her mother-in-law to-be, Diana. We see Lucy's life as a young wife, a struggling young mother and the little incidents that formed her, mostly, strained relationship with Diana. We also get to see Diana's life from when she was a young 19 year old girl. We get to see an event and a phase of her life, which played a defining role in making her who she is and the values she lives by. 

3. The characters are very well crafted. Lucy is an interesting character- she is honourable, loving and tries very hard to adjust with her husband, Oliver's, family. She is keeping a secret and for a while, everyone seems to think that she has had something to do with Diana's death. The book works backwards to show the conflict and complicated relationship between these two women and how each of them looked at the same situation from a different lens. 

4. Diana is a complicated character. While she is well crafted, but there are things about her that we don't fully understand as readers. Diana, in her own words, is not a warm and fuzzy person, which, obviously impacts her relationship with her kids and their spouses. Plus, she is very firm on her values and beliefs. She has learnt some key lessons very early on in her life and she stands firm by those learnings. Diana's character raises a very interesting question- to what extent is it okay to stand firm by one's beliefs? Is it okay to stand firm even if you could help someone, who is genuinely emotionally and physically suffering? Is teaching a life lesson more important than being there for someone? The questions are difficult with no easy answers and this is what I liked the most about this book! 

5. As far as the murder mystery aspect of this book, there are plenty of suspects with a few key reasons to want Diana dead. As we dive deeper into Diana's life and the days leading to her death, we get to see who these people are and what their issues with Diana were. This aspect is also done nicely. There are a few nicely done red herrings as well. 

Things I Didn't Like: 
1. I wish we'd have a clearer sense of how Diana was with her kids. She is shown as a loving, supportive wife, deeply in love with her husband, but her relationship with Oliver and Nettie (her kids) is shown briefly and mostly from the kids' perspective. So, I wish we'd seen this from her side as well. 

Rating: 4/5 

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Hello May 2019 + Monthly Goals + Current Reads.

Hello May!

Hello Summer! 

Hello Flowers! 

Hello Mangoes! 

Usually, I am not a big fan of May, one of the hottest months of the year. I just don't do well in summer. I tend to hide away during May, away from the sun and the humidity and look towards June and the rains. 
But this May I am hoping to put a positive spin on things and not just hide away. I mean not as much.  I am not about to go brave  the afternoon sun but I don't want to hate on May for no good reason. 
So the plan is to immerse myself in books and tackle some bigger books for once. 
Maybe read a classic. I haven't read a true blue classic in a while now. 


1. Read well. Good books and big books. 

2. Eat a ton of mangoes. 

3. Eat fruits. The only things I want to eat during summer is fruits.

4. Watch MCU films. I am still in an Endgame haze and the only thing I want to watch is films from the MCU. 

5. Blog more regularly, April was a watershed. I only blogged some 10 times and I want to do better. 

6. Post more book reviews. It's not even funny how many book reviews I am sitting on and need to post. Too many good books to share. 

7. Paint. Put my water colours to good use. 


My May is already off to a good start. I've read one good book, Bombay Brides by Esther David. A collection of interconnected short stories set in the Bene Israel community. I enjoyed the setting of these stories and the world they exist in and loved learning more about a culture and community I know very little about. 

I am currently reading The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal. I am really enjoying it so far in. I hope to spend some quality time with this book today and maybe even finish it. 

Plot Summary: The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters—Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirnia—were never close and barely got along growing up, and now as adults, have grown even further apart. Rajni, a school principal is a stickler for order. Jezmeen, a thirty-year-old struggling actress, fears her big break may never come. Shirina, the peacemaking "good" sister married into wealth and enjoys a picture-perfect life.
On her deathbed, their mother voices one last wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. After a trip to India with her mother long ago, Rajni vowed never to return. But she’s always been a dutiful daughter, and cannot, even now, refuse her mother’s request. Jezmeen has just been publicly fired from her television job, so the trip to India is a welcome break to help her pick up the pieces of her broken career. Shirina’s in-laws are pushing her to make a pivotal decision about her married life; time away will help her decide whether to meekly obey, or to bravely stand up for herself for the first time.
Arriving in India, these sisters will make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives—and learn the real story behind the trip Rajni took with their Mother long ago—a momentous journey that resulted in Mum never being able to return to India again. 
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a female take on the Indian travel narrative.

I hope May treats us well. 

Be Good May. 
Be Kind. 
Be Gentle.