Tuesday, 10 January 2017


#NewYearNewMe may be all about health and fitness, but reading challenges are a thing of habit to me by now. This year, again, I’ve devised my own reading challenge. The challenge contains books I already own, to make sourcing easier. There’s also an affinity to Indian writing that I can’t get over!
I intend to read 50 books at the very least, in the following categories:
  1. A biography of a writer 
  2. A book based on a fairy tale 
  3. A book based on mythology 
  4. A book by a Bengali writer 
  5. A book by a Japanese writer 
  6. A book by a Kannada writer 
  7. A book by an African writer 
  8. A book by an author you don’t like 
  9. A book by an Indian diaspora writer 
  10. A book by your favourite author 
  11. A book by a Malayali writer 
  12. A book by a Marathi writer 
  13. A book from your neighbouring country 
  14. A book of poems 
  15. A book of short stories 
  16. A book from Oprah’s book club 
  17. A book recommended by a friend 
  18. A book that has been gifted to you 
  19. A book that was made into a movie 
  20. A book whose cover you love 
  21. A book with feminist overtones 
  22. A book with LGBT overtones 
  23. A book with more than 4* ratings on Goodreads 
  24. A book you have owned for long but not yet read 
  25. A book you started reading but did not finish earlier 
  26. A Buzzfeed recommendation 
  27. A children’s book 
  28. A detective novel 
  29. A fantasy 
  30. A free ebook 
  31. A historical fiction 
  32. A horror 
  33. A humourous book 
  34. A national award-winning book 
  35. An international award-winning book 
  36. A non-fiction book by an Indian 
  37. A play 
  38. A romance 
  39. A science fiction 
  40. A thriller 
  41. A travelogue 
  42. A war book 
  43. An ancient book 
  44. An autobiography/memoir 
  45. Re-read a book you read in school/college 
  46. A translated work in your mother tongue 
  47. A self-published writer’s book
  48. A book borrowed from a friend 
  49. A book published in 2017 
  50. A graphic novel
Based on these, I made a TBR jar for 2017, in which I put in 52 titles under these headings. 

I’ll pick up one each time I want to read a one, and this way the books would be both pre-decided and by chance! Since I’m bound to read over 100 books, this TBR jar contains only serious reading. The rest I’ll pick up based on my whimsy! I’ve set my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge to 52, and I am all set to start! Oh wait, I’ve already finished 6 books, and #nowreading 2 versions of Ramayana side-by-side — one by Ralph Griffith and another by C. Rajagopalachari. #happyme 

#2016ReadingChallenge - How I Fared

I read a total of 161 books in 2016.

  • Most-read genres: Detective fiction (21% of 161 books), Indian writing (15%) and Children's literature and Fantasy (11% each). 
  • I've liked 66% of the books I read (rated 4 and 5 stars on Goodreads). 
  • My most-read authors were Roald Dahl and Lilian Jackson Braun with 6 books each. 

As for the #2016ReadingChallenge that I started with a friend at the beginning of the year, here's what I managed.

January: New writers (new to me)

Kaleidoscope by Rachna Gupta
The Murder Pit by Jeff Shelby
The Patna Manual of Style by Siddharth Chowdhury
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
Lines Across Oceans by Nalini Priyadarshni and D. Russel Micnhimer
Skylines by Neelam Saxena Chandra
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

February: Romances

The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Or Forever Hold Your Peace by Donna Abraham
Paro by Namita Gokhale
Only Wheat Not White by Varsha Dixit
Alphabet Soup for Lovers by Anita Nair

March: Women writers

The Hollow by Agatha Christie
A Thousand Unspoken Words by Paulami Dutta Gupta
The Magician’s Guild, The Novice, The High Lord (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan
That Quail, Robert by Margaret A. Stanger
The Saturdays, The Four-Storey Mistake, Then There Were Five, Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The Moonglow Cafe by Deborah Garner

April: Plays

King Lear by William Shakespeare
The League of Youth by Henrik Ibsen
Red Oleanders by Rabindranath Tagore
Four Short Plays by John Galsworthy
Boiled Beans on Toast by Girish Karnad

May: LGBT books/writers

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Letters in the Attic by Bonnie Shimko
Shikhandi and Other Stories They Don’t Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik
Atlantis by Mark Doty
Lumberjanes series by Shannon Waters, Noelle Stevenson

June: Award-winning books

Goat Days by Benyamin (Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, 2009)
Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar (Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, 2000)
Relationship by Jayanta Mahapatra (Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, 1981)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Man Booker Prize, 2008)

July: South Asian writers

Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
Mountains Painted with Turmeric by Lil Bahadur Chetri

August: Memoir/Bio/Autobiographies

Out of Line: A Literary and Political Biography of Nayantara Sehgal by Ritu Menon
Cracking The Code: My Journey To Bollywood by Ayushman Khurana
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell
Someone Could Get Hurt by Drew Magary

September: Regional books

Bhrandalayam by P. Keshavadev
Deliverance by Gauri Deshpande
Half-a-rupee Stories by Gulzar
Man-eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

October: Books you’re scared of reading

This didn’t pan out exactly as I wanted. Could not finish 3 books in the “scary” category. So unless I change this heading to include books dealing with the occult, this month wasn’t on target. Anyway the books I might want to count in are:

Nolander by Becca Mills
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Darkangel by Christine Pope
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

November: Graphic novels

Maus by Art Spiegelman
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza

December: Mysteries or thrillers

The Cuckoo’s Calling by JK Rowling (Robert Galbraith)
The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew #5)
The Cat Who Turned On and Off by Lilian Jackson Braun
Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer
Smashed Potatoes and Gravy by Ginny Gold
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen by NL Wilson
Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

#2016ReadingChallenge by Namitha and Meryl

Themed Reading Challenge 2016

Rule: You have to follow the theme of the month in reading at least 3 books that month. You are free to continue reading more books of the theme of each month, or stop after the third one, or read anything else during the month. 

January:     New writers
February:   Romances
March:       Women writers
April:        Plays
May:        LGBT writers
June:        Award-winning books
July:         South Asian writers
August:     Memoir/Bio/Autobiographies
September: Regional books
October:    Books you’re scared of reading
November:  Graphic novels
December:  Mysteries or thrillers

This means you'd read at least 36 books in a year, which is neither too much nor too less! 

#2015ReadingChallenge by Popsugar

2015 was a great year in terms of reading. My Goodreads account clocked 189 books at the end of the year. While most of it was random or impulsive reading, especially a lot of cosy mysteries and new writers, I also participated and completed the 2015 Reading Challenge set up by Popsugar.

Well, I modified a few of the categories to suit myself - for example, 'A book your mom loves' had to be changed because I've already read the books she loves (meh). I did not do 'A book that scares you' because I am not fond of horror per se; the only horror writer I've enjoyed is Stephen King; and I couldn't lay my hands on one until two weeks ago (I'm keeping that - Pet Sematary - for next year). I also had to skip 'A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t' because I actually read everything that was prescribed as text in school/college.

The original challenge is this:

My 50-book challenge is as below:

1. A book with more than 500 pagesA Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, 806 pages. Read from June 28 to July 21. My thoughts on the book here.

2. A classic romanceThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read from November 26 to 29, after at least 3 false starts earlier. Here's my review.

3.  A book that became a movieThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Read on October 27, during a journey from Ahmedabad to Bangalore. Here's what I think of the book.

4. A book published this yearBrailling for Wile by James Zerndt. A new writer, with 5 books to his credit. I also read his The Korean Word for Butterfly and liked it. Read from April 18 to 21, just weeks after its release. My thoughts on the book here.

5. A book with a number in the titleSix Years by Harlan Coben. A pacy crime thriller, but I'm not impressed. Read on January 23-24, on a train journey from Ahmedabad to Mangalore.

6. A book written by someone under 30The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. She wrote this in 2003, when she was 26 years old. (I know, perhaps this is a bit of cheating, but I got tired of checking out writers' ages!) Read from June 10-12, and did not like it much.

7. A book with nonhuman characters: The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. So racist that I was shocked. Read on February 20-21.

8. A funny bookPiccadilly Jim by PG Wodehouse. Do I even need to explain myself for this one? Of course I loved it! Read from April 21-23.

9. A book by a female authorWhen God is a Traveller by Arundhati Subramaniam. Now, I read so many women authors, that this selection is purely because it was poetry, and I loved it SO much. Read from July 5-9.

10. A mystery or thrillerA Quiet Life in the Country by TE Kinsey. The first book I read this year, having carried it forward from 2014 (read from Dec 28 to Jan 2). This is Kinsey's first book, and a thoroughly entertaining cosy mystery at that!

11. A book with a one-word titleAirport by Arthur Hailey. Read from February 23 to March 7.

12. A book of short storiesNaked Voices by Saadat Hassan Manto. Poignant and insightful, a true master. Read from July 12-21.

13. A book set in a different countryIn Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin, based in Pakistan. Read from March 9 to April 12 (yeah, it was a bit of a dragging read).

14. A nonfiction bookHow to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. Another long read - February 6 - April 28. Review here.

15. A popular author’s first bookNot a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer. Archer was in Bangalore to promote his latest book Mightier Than Sword and my friend got me a copy of this one - his first - signed by the author. Read from August 12-21.

16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yetSomething Fresh by PG Wodehouse. The first Blandings book. Read from August 6-12.

17. A book a friend recommendedDante’s Wood by Lynne Raimondo. Recommended by my book group friend Rajesh Nair. Read from May 16-20. The premise of an almost blind person investigating a murder was too good to let go!

18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning bookThe Color Purple by Alice Walker. The best book I read this year. Read from December 10-18. My thoughts on the book here.

19. A book based on a true storyBlack Tornado by Sandeep Unnithan; based on the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Read from November 2 to 27. This category took me a long time to figure out. I didn't want to read a memoir or autobiography, and I'd already read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which was the only book based on true story that I could think of. And then one of my friends Venu Gopal Narayanan posted about this one in our book group, and ta-da!

20. A book at the bottom of your to-read listLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott. Read from November 29 to December 9. This was highly recommended by Meryl Garcia, and has been in my to-read list for more than five years now; but unfortunately, this turned out to be just not my kind of book. Or maybe I should have read this in my teens.

21.  A book more than 100 years oldLove Among the Chickens by PG Wodehouse (yes, I read a lot of him!). First published in 1906, read on January 2 &3.

22. A book based entirely on its coverThe Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I saw the cover on Scribd and was enchanted. I am into Fantasy and Children's literature! Read from May 5 to 8.

23. A memoirAnd Then One Day by Naseeruddin Shah. One of the most honest and insightful (on acting) autobiographies I've read. Read from June 25 to July 7. My review will tell you more.

24. A book you can finish in a dayDouble Shot by Cindy Blackburn. A cosy mystery, read on February 3. I read a lot of books in a day this year, but chose this one as a representative. Blackburn's Cue Ball Mysteries are something to look out for!

25. A book with antonyms in the titleThe Prince and The Pauper by Mark Twain. I never thought I'd enjoy a classic written in old English so much, though I took a long time to complete it. Read from November 2 to December 10.

26. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visitGolden Bats and Pink Pigeons by Gerald Durrell, set in Mauritius. Islands are such a nice place to vacation, arent' they? Read from May 22 to June 2.

27. A book that came out the year you were bornThe Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett, read from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2. Came out in 1986. I'd also shortlisted Stephen Kings It, but preferred fantasy over horror thriller finally.

28. A book with bad reviewsOne Life, One Love by Rochak Bhatnagar. Bejeezus! Horribly written book, thin, cliched plot. More thoughts here. Read from July 25-27.

29. A trilogy: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, books 3-5: Princess in Love, Princess in Waiting, Princess in Pink.

30. A book from your childhoodThe Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene. Began reading this adorable Nancy Drew series that I first read in high school. Read this book in August, with my sister Anju.

31. A book with a love triangleThe Fifth Man by Bani Basu, translated by Arunava Sinha. Read from Sept. 23 to Oct. 23. It was enchanting!

32. A book set in the futureThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The funniest science fiction I've ever read. Read from January 10-14. I hope to read more of the series in 2016.

33. A book set in high schoolThe Princess in The Spotlight by Meg Cabot, read on Feb. 5 & 6. My apologies, but I read a lot of the Princess Diaries at the beginning of this year!

34. A book with a color in the titleBlack Beauty by Anna Sewell. Read from Feb 1-3. I loved it!

35. A book that made you cryJohnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Read, with tears streaming down my eyes, from May 27 to June 1. A long review, but one that I wrote pretty emotionally.

36. A book with magicA Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. The second of the Tiffany Aching sub-series within the Discworld series. Man, I can't come tp terms with the fact that this man is no longer with us, and the Discworld isn't going to be expanded! Read from May 18-22, review here.

37. A graphic novelLucille by Ludovic Debeurme, originally written in French. I read quite a few graphic novels this year, and this was one of the first in the real "novel with graphics" category. Read in May.

38. A book by an author you’ve never read beforeCongo by Michael Crichton, read from Jan 6-10. Always wanted to read Crichton - hopefully I'll read the Jurassic Park in 2016. My twopennies on the book here.

39. A book you own but have never readSnehichu Theerathavar by ONV Kurup, a collection of Malayalam poems. Owned for over 5 years, read from Sep. 2-19, and though this was the great lyrical master Kurup, I did not enjoy the collection. The repetitiveness of meter and the patriarchal images annoyed me.

40. A book that takes place in your hometownEzhamathe Poovu by M. Mukundan. A set of 11 short stories that blur the lines between reality and dream-world. But I had to cheat a little in this category, because I couldn't find any book set in Thrissur; so I had to settle for something based in Kerala. Read from July 21 to 28.

41. A book that was originally written in a different languageSelected Poems by Gulzar , translated by Pavan K. Varma, read from September 25 to October 5. This collection contains both the original Hindi poems and their translations, and is an absolute treat. The translations do full justice to the originals, and people like me, who aren't sure of meanings of certain Urdu-influenced words in the original, will find this collection most satisfying.

42. A book set during Christmas: Death of a Dapper Snowman by Angela Pepper. I wasn't sure which book to read in this category, and this was an accidental read rather than a planned one. A quick, fun cosy mystery. Read from June 4-6.

43. A book written by an author with your same initials: Falling For Rachel by Nora Roberts. I couldn't find anyone with the initials NV, so I settled for NR and chanced upon Nora Roberts. And thus this became the first Mills & Boons.The story was quite good, some unexpected twists there. It even had me choking up in places. Considering I am not a regular M&B or Romance girl, I quite liked this one. Read on February 4 & 5.

44. A playOedipus Plays of Sophocles, translated by Paul Roche, read from August 24 to September 6. This could even have fitted in the trilogy section, but I hadn't read any other plays this year. The reading was not at all cumbersome, and I quite enjoyed it. Reminds me to pick up a couple of Shakespeares next year.

45. A banned bookPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi. American Library Association lists this as being banned due to "gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint; 'politically, racially, and socially offensive', 'graphic depictions'". Chicago Public Schools apparently banned this from students' reading in March 2013, followed by challenges by several other schools and colleges to this day. I read this from October 23-27 during an Ahmedabad trip, and loved it SO much. The beautiful artwork, a narration that weaves together the personal, the social and the political narratives effortlessly, and honest depiction of the self - these help Persepolis become an outstanding piece of literature.

46. A book based on or turned into a TV show: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. This was my first Gaiman, read from May 22-27, and I'm a convert. This is a novelisation of the series of the same name that appeared on BBC Two in 1996. Gripping, fantastical and thoroughly enjoyable.

47. A book you started but never finished: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, read on February 16 and 17, after two failed attempts at reading it years ago. I found the language too roundabout and boring at the time, but this time I thoroughly enjoyed it! I admit I had the help of the BBC mini series on Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice itself, to help me orientate myself to the language and imagine its enunciation and expression properly.

Now come the three categories that I substituted into the list, for convenience, mostly.

48. A comic book/manga: Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson. I wanted to separate the genres graphic novels and comics, with the main distinguishing factor in my head being that of audience. Lumberjanes is a children-to-teen focused work of artistic literature, with adventure, pranks and superheroism, based loosely on Greek mythology. Read from April end to May 1st week.

49. A book you didn’t likeThe Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear. Pure rubbish limericks. Can't say how the average rating on Goodreads is 3.5. Read on August 6. All I have to say is:
There was an old poet named Lear
He wrote verses that were unclear,
He thought they were funny
And delightfully loony,
That stupid old poet named Lear.

50. A travel bookFive Weeks in the Amazon by  Sean Michael Hayes, read from October 5 to 23. My review of the book here.

For the next year, my friend Meryl and I created our own reading challenge, which I hope would be easier and more flexible for a normal reader to follow. Check it out here

Sunday, 13 September 2015

#TornadoGiveaway 2 - Book 84: Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya

Name of the Book: TELL A THOUSAND LIES
Author: Rasana Atreya

Read some reviews:

1. Ruchi Singh 
2. Carol Kean 
3. Jane 

The Story:

In a land where skin colour can determine one's destiny, fraternal twins PULLAMMA and LATA are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart. Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. With three girls in her family, the sixteen year old is aware there isn't enough dowry to secure suitable husbands for them all. But a girl can hope. She's well versed in cooking, pickle making, cow washing -- you name it. She's also obliged her old-fashioned grandmother by not doing well in school. Fair skinned and pretty, her twin sister Lata would rather study medicine than get married. Unable to grasp the depth of Lata's desire, the twins' Grandmother formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Distraught, Lata rebels, with devastating consequences. As Pullamma helps ready the house for her older sister Malli's bride viewing, she prays for a positive outcome to the event. What happens next is so inconceivable that it will shape Pullamma's future in ways she couldn't have foreseen. TELL A THOUSAND LIES is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but ultimately realistic look at how superstition and the colour of a girl's skin rules India's hinterlands.

You can also buy @

About The Author 

Rasana Atreya 

Rasana is the author of Amazon bestseller 'Tell A Thousand Lies', which was also shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. UK’s Glam magazine calls this novel one of their five favourite tales from India (June 2014). Her other works are 'The Temple Is Not My Father' and '28 Years A Bachelor'.

Now on to more personal stuff – Rasana would like to be able to tell her readers that she once stopped a robbery single-handedly, except she’s terrified of robbers. And geckos. And two-year-olds who throw tantrums. When she’s not running scared, she’s mother to a girl and a boy who were respectively six and eleven years-old when they wrote and illustrated 'The Mosquito and the Teapot'. She lives with her husband and children in Hyderabad, India, where a lot of her stories are set.

Stalk her @
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Now for the Rafflecopter: Gather as many points as you want to. The more points you get, the more you have a chance to win it all. Show your love for books.. Tweet, Like and Spread the Word... Thank you for being a Reader... You keep the Authors motivated... This is our way of saying a Thank you :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#TornadoGiveaway is an initiative of The Book Club. Click on the icon to go to the event page of the Tornado .. Lots of fun awaits you :)

#TornadoGiveaway 2 - Book 83: The Ray Synchronicity by Lata Sony

Author: Lata Sony

Read some reviews:

1. Silvia Villalobos
2. Madhavi Kuppachi 
3. Noshi Chadha 

The Story:

In a busy market place, Major Vohra spots a suicide bomber from his eBombVest. He whispers his suspicion to a stranger near him. The stranger takes out a gun and shoots the bomber between his eyes. To Vohra’s surprise, instead of keeling over the bomber visibly changes and confesses.

That’s the Bioray gun at work. No one knows from where the gun and the other Bioray weapons arrived and why. The military maintains a dignified silence. The politicians reveal nothing.

But it's no use trying to keep these weapons a secret. Because nothing is hidden from the powers that really matter -- the Rays and the Shadows.

At a place where metaphors turn literal, where feelings take shape and come alive, reside the Universe's oldest powers. Assisted by Time, they create a series of events to bring in a new age.

The powers believe that mortals Ketu and Arnavi are the best bet to bring in the future. If their past doesn't kill them first, that is.

You can also buy @

About The Author 

Lata Sony 

Lata Sony's mantra is to go along with life until something different comes along. Like the average software professional, she merrily went about her life in the quest to attain the ultimate rating of outstanding performance next appraisal, when along came a famous palmist who foresaw her future as a novel writer. So she participated in a contest with a publisher and won the first round for a publishing contract, when along came India's most successful self-published author Rasana Atreya. Lata got so sold on Rasana's posts and talk at an Amazon event that she abandoned the contest and the traditional marketing bandwagon to jump into the self-publishing one. Does it come as a surprise then that her debut book is titled after synchronicity?

Spiritual at heart, Lata Sony likes to convert mythological Gods and demons into extra-terrestrial beings and their blessings and curses into thought-missiles that trigger destructive or constructive actions in humans. Read her books to unravel spiritual mysteries the science-fiction way.
Stalk her @
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Now for the Rafflecopter: Gather as many points as you want to. The more points you get, the more you have a chance to win it all. Show your love for books.. Tweet, Like and Spread the Word... Thank you for being a Reader... You keep the Authors motivated... This is our way of saying a Thank you :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

#TornadoGiveaway is an initiative of The Book Club. Click on the icon to go to the event page of the Tornado .. Lots of fun awaits you :)