Book Chronicles – January 2018 reads!

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The first month of the year has just flown past with a swoosh and its time for me to do a compiled post of all the reading I could manage to do in January. And I am proud to say that I have managed to finish 5 books out of the 50 I have set for myself to read in this year. Yay!!!

Without further ado, let me take you through these books and let you decide which ones you might wanna add onto your reading list too.

Book #1

Book Title: In the land of the invisible women Author: Dr. Quanta. A. Ahmed

Book #1 turned out to be based on life in Saudi Arabia of a young Muslim woman who is a doctor/surgeon and has been bought up with western cultural sensibilities. She studied and practiced medicine for few years in the progressive United States, till she accepts a year-long assignment in a hospital in Riyadh.

(This book has been gifted to me by my twitter buddy Pallavi who sent it as a Xmas gift)

The book is her viewpoint of living in an Islamic nation which has pretty strict laws, especially for women and even stricter punishments. Her suffocation at wearing an Abaya all the time to hide her beauty, her frustration at being side lined by her male colleagues in the hospital and rules for unmarried women in public places – all translate the vivid change in her lifestyle and how she accustomed to each of them.

The best part for me in this novel was her journey to Mecca and the transformation that brings in her vis-a-vis the people she meets and situations she encounters there. She isn’t overtly religious but the discovery of an acceptance in her of a higher power and the love that she feels pouring into her – it’s quite a powerful read.

I recommend this book for peeps who would be interested to know more about how a feisty young woman manages to find peace in a rule driven land where women have no speech, rendering them invisible!

My rating – ****

Book #2

Book Title: The magic of the lost temple Author: Sudha Murty

I picked up this book at the recent New Delhi book fair which was held in January in Pragiti Maidan. I spotted lots of books by this author (whom I have been meaning to read since long) at the children corner. Undeterred I picked this one as I loved the cover and the blurb.

Sudha Murty has brought out the child in me as I read about the young girl’s stay at her grandparents home sans her parents. I have spent many summers in my maternal grandparents house while my parents were busy with other things and I did end up having a lot of “adventures” there.

In this book too, we follow the story of city girl Nooni who takes some getting used to the ways of the village and can’t help comparing every chore at how its done differently in the city VS the village; from taking a bath to taking a walk – the point of views are interesting to note.

Her grandma tells her a beautiful tale which has partial local historical/cultural significance and it bewitches her to wonder if its true. The story follows her trying to prove that the tale is real and the trouble she gets into.

I simply adored the writing and tale-telling and recommend this book for young children and even adults like me who can’t resist a well told tale.

My rating – ****

Book #3

Book Title: Fangirl Author : Rainbow Rowell

I had stumbled onto this YA author when I picked up a copy of Eleanor & Park which was a super sweet love story set in high school and was etched out just right. So when I saw this one in the bookstore, I didn’t hesitate in picking it up. ( Discovered a newly opened bookstore this January)

Fangirl is a typical Rainbow Rowell fare – sweet, soft and very real representation of the emotional life of a teenager. The storyline is based on writing Fan fiction – a genre made most popular after Harry Potter (I think) and consists of online fan clubs/blogs of people who write out more about the story / characters of a popular book even after the author is finished off with it. Incase of a sequel, there is lots of speculation about how it will turn out and what will be the changes, etc.

So our heroine and her twin sister are going off to college but she is devastated as her sister doesn’t want to be roomies anymore. Cath is shy, quiet and dependant on her sister Wren for a social life. Wren feels there is more in life than just being with her twin by default and so tries to spread her wings.

The quandry of being half of a twin pair and what it means to be without your other half is heart wrenching and very relatable in the book. The two sisters relate to college in their unique ways and get into all sorts of situations.

One becomes popular and gets a hot boyfriend while the other lands into trouble with alcohol and almost dies. In between Cath also writes the fan fiction novel as she wants to, despite a lot of flak from her English writing teacher who is failing her. Oh and it doesn’t help that the father often has nervous breakdowns or that the mother abandoned them all, only to return now which is received with mixed feelings from all concerned.

Read this book people; typical chick lit but it will make you feel good. More importantly the writing is superb and doesn’t let you down even once.

My rating – ****

Book #4

Book Title: Isla and the happily ever after Author: Stephanie Perkins

I read a collection of love stories complied by the author Stephanie Perkins and felt she had a really good hang of what a love story should read like. So when I saw this book, I immediately bought it.

The tale begins in NY where our heroine is spotted mooning over her school crush whom she can’t speak a word too on account of being tongue-tied in his presence. Plus he has a very hot girlfriend. Plus he has never noticed her. But today she is stuffed with pain numbing meds, owing to a dental procedure she had and so is more than inebriated which leads to her being less inhibited in front of him.

Medicine induced haze over, she is mortified and wonders if she should change schools now. She doesn’t see him for the rest of the holidays and goes back to her school in Paris where she again bumps into him, to slowly realise his fixation with her too. What follows is a heady romance, full of loads of kissing.

But human nature being what it is, Isla gets cold feet and dumps him as she suspects he will eventually do it to her. She finds solace in the company of her best friend who is also autistic but understands her perfectly.

The story is set in an Art school in Paris where both are sent by their parents on account of them being multi cultural.

I loved how the story is narrated via the arty part of the male protagonist who is a brilliant artist and emotes more on paper than in real life. The kissing scenes are mind-blowing hot and I will re-read the book just for them again.

Do I even have to say it? Pick up the book ladies!!!

My rating: ****

Book #5


Ok let me start by saying I will not be able to do justice to her writing or how I feel reading it in my review here. I am mesmerised and blown away with her writing style and will say this; none compare to her in my opinion. She is better than JKR on every level and embodies every trick in the book to make her stories layered with so much depth and softness that I ache after reading them.

My 5th book for January is Strange, the dreamer by Laini Taylor.

Strange the Dreamer is an orphan who was bought up by the monks, till a chance encounter with fate lets him run away to be adopted by a library where books become his best friends. Strange grew up on hearing fragments of magical tales from a crazed out monk and in the library he spent years on researching the one story that fascinated him the most. A story of an Unseen city where the streets are paved with Lapiz Lazuli and polished clean so that the women can trail their long hair behind them as they walk and not get it dirty.

The story also has demi gods who are blue in color and live in a city shaped out of a metal that has a will of its own and can be moulded into forms by the minds of one of the gods.

There are the usual hideous creatures and mythical beasts, strange languages and customs and dreams where one can will anything into anything.

I was reminded of star wars, star trek and the Lord of the rings while reading this and then some other tales as well for the tale is reminiscent of them. But in no ways is it a copy – its 100% original and hooked me from page one.

I am waiting for the sequel andΒ  hope its out soonest. Loved the book cover and btw that’s a moth and not a dragon-fly/ butterfly. The dreamer visits dreams via them. Intrigued? Go buy the book now!

My rating *****

Well thats a wrap for this January folks! What do you think of my reads and their brief synopsis? Did I induce you to read any of them?

My Rating Meter

5* – Do not miss this book ever as its gonna go down as a cult classic

4* – If you are into this genre, I would heartily recommend reading this one

3* – Feel good but not essentially a quick read

2* – Disappointing read

1* – What was the author thinking?

Read my Book posts of this year here:







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16 thoughts on “Book Chronicles – January 2018 reads!

  1. I am a big fan of Sudha Murty’s writing. I haven’t read this one yet though.
    Going to pick up The Magic of the Lost Temple and In the land of the invisible women after reading your post. A great post to begin the year with.

    1. I think Sudha Murthy is fantastic too Mayuri – not sure if she writes older books too. If you have any recco of her books to read, pls do share with me.
      The land of invisible woman was an incredible read for me vis-a-vis the cultural exchange it gave me – I would love to hear your views on it once you have read it too pls!!! Infact I am thinking of passing this book along like a chain – would you be interested in borrowing it? I will send to you and you can send to the next person…….

    1. Thanks Naba; this first book seems to have intrigued a lot of my readers; I am looking to pass it around from one reader to another; let me know if you would be interested in borrowing/ reading and then passing along to the next one!!!?

  2. I have read “Magic Of Lost Temple”, Shalini, courtesy my daughter! Its such an interesting plot.
    Look forward to lay my hands on “Strange The Dreamer”.
    Thanks for the review of the books.

    1. Thanks Angha! I am sure your daughter would have loved it!!! Pls do read the Laini Taylor and share with me how it was for you!

  3. I loved the story of the first book ‘In the land of invisible women’. I always find myself intrigued by such stories of women living in the middle east and Afghanistan. How they lead their lives, we living here will never know!
    I also liked ‘Isla and the happily ever after’.And, I will definitely look for it thanks to all that you have praised about it! πŸ˜›
    But, more than these, I need to pick up a Sudha Murthy, for sure! Haven’t read a single one by her yet!

    1. Thanks a tonne Shilpa for that lovely bit of praise! I am so glad I could induce you into reading a few of them. The one on the Saudi Arabia is a revelation. I had seen a documentary in a film fest about the Mecca and the Haj- it was filmed secretly and it recounted pretty much similar stuff – I was intrigued to read about it from a female perspective. I also loved the tidbits of Islam and the interpretations of certain laws and rules from the Quran which were just lovely to read! I do hope you pick up this book to read as its got a lot of powerful stuff about women and coping mechanisms that were inspiring to read. Its one of the best book I have read to date on the Middle east.
      Yes Sudha Murty is amazing- I am planning on checking her entire range out for this years reading!!!
      Do share your reviews as and when you do read any from my list!!!

  4. Although I haven’t read any of the books you have mentioned here, your ratings and reviews make me want to read them.

    You had a good month in terms of reading, keep it up! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Soumya – that feels good to hear! I hope you do read some of them and share your reviews too – it will be fun to compare notes. πŸ™‚

  5. Great going on the book reading front, Shalini. I have read quite a few Sudha Murthy’s books, but havent read this one. Fan Girl is on my TBR, hope to read it soon. Happy reading!!

    1. Thanks Shilpa – I quite liked Sudha Murty and will check if she has books for grown ups too!! I do hope you get to read Fangirl- I think it was quite a sensational read for me – light hearted and fun!

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