Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Apr 11, 2014

Review A to Z – The Joy Luck Club

Here comes my first book review of the challenge. TheJoy Luck Club is a fiction by Amy Tan. I got this book to read as a part of our little book club that I am part of (some of you know about it already) and scheduled to read it during April. But as fate would have it, I ended up getting this book in March and immediately began reading it. Just about ten pages into the book I got a review that it was sort of boring. My expectations were low. However rules demanded that read it and I am super glad that I did.

The Joy Luck Club is the story of four American daughters and their Chinese mothers who moved to USA during the war. The story moves from past to present, while mothers remembers China and daughter struggle to understand. It gives us insights to Chinese traditions, customs, families and culture in China and in USA.

Each character in the book is well defined and seems to be the protagonist in its own ways. When the book ends, it leaves you with a sense of longing for more. It appears that the author has purposefully left the endings slightly open ended where life has not come to a full circle just yet.

The word Amy Tan used are easy to mouth but the names are a bit too much to remember. It is a book that can be read and re-read and reveal something new when picked up for the third time. It is over many generations and many lives and yet so simplified and neatly arranged.

I found myself going back and forth at times but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is one of those books that I say “remains in you”.

A 4.5 out of 5 for this book.

P.S. – If you want to read it, I would love to share it. Also, I got to know while writing the post, that it is also a motion picture.

Linking it to UBC and A to Z challenge.

Have you found Shades of Life on Facebook yet? Please check it out here

Please take out time to read more about the featured blogger for the month of April here.

Guests are always welcomed at Shades of Life. Drop me a line at and I would love to share your thoughts here.

Apr 8, 2014

Reviews A to Z – Five reasons for Goodreads

Yesterday I shared about a library that helped me read when I didn’t have enough money to regularly buy books. There is another website which now helps me plan my reading list. It is Goodreads.

My reasons to like it are pretty simple.

1. Challenge – I absolutely love Goodreads reading challenge. It gives me the push that I need.

2. Reviews – Most book reviews at Goodreads is genuine and not paid. I have come across several negative reviews for certain bestsellers. It helps me form an opinion of my own.

3. To-read shelf – It reminds me of a website I earlier used. Shelfari. This helps me remember my books to buy when I log in to flipkart or walk in to the book store.

4. Recommendation – GoodReads recommends a wide spectrum of books based on read or wish list. It’s software detects the genre and recommends similar books. A good thing is that if I rate a book below three, it doesn’t include it in recommendation list.

5. App – Lastly I love the mobile app by Goodreads. It is light and quick. It is like my own list of books with me at all points.

My experience with Goodreads is thumbs up :)

Linking it to UBC and A to Z challenge.

Have you found Shades of Life on Facebook yet? Please check it out here

Please take out time to read more about the featured blogger for the month of April here.

Guests are always welcomed at Shades of Life. Drop me a line at and I would love to share your thoughts here.

Apr 7, 2014

Reviews A to Z - Friends of Books

Those were the just out of college days when pocket was empty for a bigger half of the month. Buying a book was a luxury that I could not afford on regular basis.  Also, buying books wasn’t this easy also. The Flipkarts’ and Amazons’ of this world weren’t present. Libraries weren’t an easy option too. They were either too far, or too expensive (a library had an annual membership fee of Rs.3000, I never had that much money to spare at one go).

In one of those days I discovered an online library called Friends of Books. It sounded pretty interesting. I made an account and selected ten books that I wanted to read. I selected my package, which was about Rs. 750 for six months and asked them to deliver the book. In next five days, I had two books out of my selection at my place. I read them at leisure and once I was done, went back to the website and asked for next books. The courier guy came with next set of two books and collected the ones I had read already.

The system was smooth and without glitch. The book collection is average with almost all popular bestsellers available. Book delivery took not more than seven days and payment was in cash to the courier guy. The company later changed the terms, and I could pay my subscription online.

Very soon, they came up with a bookstore for used books. Even today it is one of my favorite spots for buying used books. One, the books they sell or lend comes in good condition. There are no torn pages, rarely dog eared, not marked or underlined, many time plastic covered, yellowed pages yes, but many hard bounds too. After all, if you get a good hard bound, who minds yellowing of pages?

For me Friends of Books is a wonderful library that delivers. I’d rate their service a 4 out of 5.

Linking it to UBC and A to Z challenge.

Have you found Shades of Life on Facebook yet? Please check it out here

Please take out time to read more about the featured blogger for the month of April here.

Guests are always welcomed at Shades of Life. Drop me a line at and I would love to share your thoughts here.

Are you a member of a library? How is your experience?

Mar 20, 2014

Book Review – Hold my Hand by Durjoy Dutta

Contrary to what you might be thinking, this is not part of a book review program by any group. This book was released in 2013, and I had not realized its presence on any bookshelf until this Saturday.

Bored and idle, my restless mind got diverted to my friend’s bookshelf and there, midst of all spiritual and self-learning books rested “Hold my hand by Durjoy Dutta”. I picked it up, turned it around and started reading. Primary reason – I was too tired to read a “heavy” book. Secondary reason – the cover looked cool.

I read three chapters of the book while my friend made tea and then asked her to borrow it. Once back home, I killed my Sunday reading it.

Well! The book. Maybe because the author mentioned the book twice, I strongly feel that the writing is inspired by the famous “The fault in our stars”. Set in Hong Kong, it revolves around a lanky teenager and a beautiful young but blind girl. Just like romantic movies, they meet by accident and a romance blooms until the villain comes in picture.

I found the book quite smooth. I cannot say it’s boring, but it couldn’t grip my attention. Story was quite predictable, maybe because a lot was already said in the blurb. There are few characters without a specific need but they add to the story.

All in all, between a biography and a memoir, the book gave me a good light read to spend my Sunday. I'd rate the book a 2.5 out of 5.

Have you found Shades of Life on Facebook yet? Please check it out here

Please take out time to read more about the featured blogger for the month of March "Aditi Kaushiva" here.

Also, check out the post by a non-blogger who penned down her feeling.

Guests are always welcomed at Shades of Life. Drop me a line at and I would love to share your thoughts here.

Mar 12, 2014

Book Review - Double Jeopardy

Before I begin the review, I’d like to give a highlight of my day on which I downloaded this book from Indireads, i.e. yesterday.

My day yesterday began at 5 am and consisted of 600 km travel through the day. It was supposed to end at 10 owing to a headache. At about 9.45, just checking mail before I slept, I decided to download the book from Indireads and prepare myself to read it the next day.

One the download was completed, my phone automatically opened the file for me to preview.

What began as preview of the book at 10 pm, ended at 1.30 am in completion of the book.

The write-up:
Sanya last saw the twins, Arth and Ansh Sharma, when she was ten years old. Now, all grown up, she has come looking for gentle Arth, the twin she has loved ever since she can remember. But instead, she is confronted with fiery Ansh, who is hell-bent on seducing her. And what’s worse, she can’t seem to stop herself from responding to him.
As she chases Arth and is chased by Ansh, Sanya finds herself on a crazy roller coaster ride with no way of getting off. How will she deal with these two very different men in her life? Will she be able to convince one twin that she loves the other?

My take:
The story is simply written and characters are nicely woven into the story. Each character plays his part well and the story keeps on edging you to read further. Sometimes it reminded me of romance of Mills andboons and some times emotions of Cecelia Ahern

A complete story, well rounded in 56 pages, Double Jeopardy is what I say a good light chick-read. I rate the book a 3 out of 5.

P.S. Thank you Sundari Venkatraman for sharing the book for review.


Have you found Shades of Life on Facebook yet? Please check it out here

Please take out time to read more about the featured blogger for the month of March "Aditi Kaushiva" here.

Also, check out the post by a non-blogger who penned down her feeling.

Guests are always welcomed at Shades of Life. Drop me a line at and I would love to share your thoughts here.

Mar 5, 2014

Book Review - To kill a mocking bird

I recently finished reading “To kill a Mocking bird” (50th edition) by Harper Lee and the prompt for review has come just in time. Yes, it is astonishing that I had not read this book for so long. But even though they keep telling that don’t judge a book by its cover; I do so more often than not and end up delaying many reads like that.

When I began reading the book, I had to force myself to keep going. I was surprised that how people liked it. But when I shared my thoughts with others, many said that they felt the same thing and I must not give up.

The story revolves around an eight year old girl Scout and her brother Jem. Their obsession with a neighbor who never stepped out of his house was sometime hilarious, sometime boring. As the story goes along, the case of negro alleged for a rape evolves the characters and makes the story gripping.

The second half of the book is so gripping that it was tough for me to put down. A tale so innocent yet so profound, is a wonderful mix which rightly makes it a bestseller for many years.

My rating for book is 4 out of 5.

Linking it to Write Tribe Festival of words Day 3 and the prompt today is Book review.

Have you found Shades of Life on Facebook yet? Please check it out here

Please take out time to read more about the featured blogger for the month of March "Aditi Kaushiva" here.

Also, check out the post by a non-blogger who penned down her feeling.

Guests are always welcomed at Shades of Life. Drop me a line at and I would love to share your thoughts here.

Dec 10, 2013

7 reasons for books versus E-books.

I love Books. I believe that became more than evident when I took up the project of 30 days 30 book reviews. But as much as I love books, I dislike E-books. On this particular day, Prompt assigned by Write Tribe for Festival of Words, I took a step back and tried to find reasons to this dislike.

1. I love smelling books. The smell of pages and glue itself is magical for me, and I cannot smell my e-reader. It will be weird.

2. Books don’t get discharged. In the world of endless gadgets that occupy all the socket space in my house, I am left with no space to charge my e-reader. As a result, every time I want to pick up to read, I am left with a switched off gadget.

3. I love collecting book. I have a huge bookshelf which has various hard bound and paper backs. I can’t imagine all my books on my e-reader.

4. Believe me or not, I find the whole concept of buying an E-book a waste. I have tried to buy a few earlier but lost them by deleting.

5. Several E-books come with a restriction on sharing. Since, I feel that I should encourage as many to read a book as I can, I hate it when I cannot share them.

6. I have been asked by my ophthalmologist to avoid strain on my eye. Another reason for me to pick a book over an E-book.

7. I have a relationship with each of my book. I like to take them around, flaunt them, enjoy when people enquire about them. In case of E books, I can’t do that sadly.

What is your relationship with your books? E-books or books, what are your preferences?

Linking to NaBloPoMo - 

Dec 6, 2013

First phone call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

I am one of those people whose faith in afterlife lies at somewhat threshold.

Mitch Albom’s First phone call from Heaven tests that faith.

When a young girl announces that she received call from her dead sister, media turns all its attention towards her. What follows is the series of believers and non-believers, others who receive calls and many who wait for calls.

Mitch Albom has wonderfully covered a situation from all angles. He shows us obsession of believers and anger of protestors. He shows us how church loses its faith and town mayor sees it as an opportunity.

Amidst all this, there is a man, coping up with his wife’s death, resolves to get to the bottom of the story.

Was the phone calls part of a big plan? I’ll rate the book as 4. It is a wonderful gripping read. 

Linking it to NaBloPoMo - 

Nov 24, 2013

Girl who introduced me to Gandhi

I once attended a local book club. We met every Saturday and read a chapter or two from the selected book. We then sat and discussed the author and the plot for about an hour. We read classics and non-fictions. Biographies were my personal favorite.

The mission of the group was to encourage more and more people to read. From what I joined as a group of four, it eventually grew to become a group of thirty five. However, as the group grew, quality of books that were read diminished.

Eventually I began to feel frustrated. I had paid up my fee for the year, but I now lost interest. The book club was not helping me any longer. Sloppy mystery books and ugly romances were not my taste.

In particular, I hated a couple of girls who could never comprehend a chapter in one go. I discussed the issue with the coordinators. They requested to join in for couple of more weeks and see if they could help. Rather than agreeing on to the first book that came their way, they requested everyone to get their selections and ask for an open voting.

One by one, each of them were presenting their suggestion. A murder mystery, a raunchy romance, all too boring. I didn’t vote for any. The only girl who was left was the quietest in the room. I sighed.

But when she presented her book, I looked up in surprise. This time, she raised the bar. She presented to us “My experiment with Truth” giving us crisp reasons to read it and gathering maximum vote.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Nov 22, 2013

Coming back to the books

The smell of old books floated in the air. She stood there, inhaling the thick air that filled her thoughts with nostalgia. The room was locked for over three months, awaiting her arrival. Her grandfather’s will demanded that the key to his library could be handed over only to his only grand-daughter.  For, in the family of business tycoons, she was the only child who loved literature.

Like her grandfather, her paa who had majored in English and had scripted many popular plays and prose, she dreamt of becoming a popular author.  However she was still struggling with a couple of her work under print. They were critically acclaimed but never popular.

Now that she was there, she re-lived many years that she had lived in this house, away from her parents to be groomed into a sensible young lady at the convent she attended. She stepped ahead and felt the arms of rocking chair and recalled when she would wait for him to settle down in that chair so she could wrap herself around his legs and not leave till her demands were met. The strong mahogany wood table, reminded her of her duty to arrange things up on that table. She felt the leather back of his chair, where he would sit through the long evenings, furiously typing away a novel or immersed in his thoughts while he created a plot. A half typed page on the type-writer, a tick sound when she pressed a key reminded her of how this would be the only voice in the room while she finished her homework.

She then saw that smaller chair and table, made for her to sit and study, while paa worked. It was this place that introduced her to fairy tales and horror stories. At this very table, she learnt about Jesus and stories of Ram and Buddha. Although, she learnt her subjects in her school, this was the place which gave her the world of her dreams of being a writer and made her who she was. It was at this table where paa told her about his will and she had innocently asked, “Will these books will be divided too?”  He told her that she will know eventually.

Standing there she remembered the day when she had to move out of the house for her graduation. Just over there, she had hugged paa from behind and cried. She promised to come back in holidays and he laughed. He held her hand and pulled her to face him. He then asked to promise that whenever she returns, she will finish the pending piece of work. She thought he was mocking and said, “Paa, you have never let me read any till they get published, how will you let me work?” Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, “When you come back, I will be able to trust your ability to write.”

Fifteen years, yes that’s the time she took to return back. Every holiday, she planned and postponed. Sometimes it was for summer school, then internship. Eventually it turned into excuses like too short breaks to travel, then family, marriage, kids, holidays with them, etc. Today she understood, why paa laughed when she said that she will be back soon.

She saw on the table, all her books were lined up. She picked and opened one. Corrections were made, appreciations were written, and comments were scribbled with a pencil on almost every page. Each was dated differently, as if the book had been re-read several times.

She opened the first drawer. There kept his unfinished book and a note. A biography of their lives, which he had left for her to complete.

The book was later published as her first non-fiction, a bestseller and an award winner.

Based on Write Tribe Wednesday prompt - the smell of old books

Nov 14, 2013

Because books are our best friends

Children are like buds in a garden and should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they are the future of the nation and citizens of tomorrow. -  Jawahar Lal Nehru

When I was in school, I remember we would celebrate Nehru’s birthday with pomp and show and had big community lunch. Teachers and headmasters who were strict year round served us our meal and we would feel really special. Even today, we get SMS and messages wishing us Children’s day.

The idea of this celebration is to honor children and the first Prime Minister of India. This is the day to celebrate childhood. Celebrate those who are free spirited, loving, hopeful and the future.

It is extremely sad to know and acknowledge that there is a major group of children which is being pushed in darkness of slavery and child labor, missing their growth years due to poverty or illiteracy.

However, today isn’t the day to be gloomy and sad. There are many organizations, governmental or NGO, registered or non-registered groups that are working to re-kindle the light of education and hope in these children.

 I came across one such small group of volunteers through a Self Help Group, who help children continue their education after they have finished their primary schooling.

In the absence of mid-level schools (1st to 5th grade) in the village, these kids, especially girls are forced to discontinue their education because they are unable to go to a school which maybe two-five km away from their homes. These kids are eventually fed into the world of household chores or support parents as labor. Soon, these kids forget their dreams of being educated and start taking independent work as a labor or artisans. Worse case, they are forced into early marriages or become the unemployed uneducated unruly lot.

This is not to sham the government initiatives, but a bitter reality.

“Hands” a Self Help Group formed in the community of adda workers in a village called Faridpur in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, decided to not have their children the same fate as theirs. The members of the group, with support of a local NGO run a community school in villages so that the children can continue their schooling till 5th grade and then go back to a proper school nearby.

On 12th November, I got a chance to visit them and interact with the group. What I heard from them was wonderful. There are two schools in the region. They are run by volunteers and paid teachers. Volunteers, on their weekly off day collect funds from local society to purchase books, furniture or pay teacher’s salary. The education in these schools is free of cost and most of the children are ex-child workers.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Ernest Hemingway.

Therefore, a group of Write Tribe members decided to donate books to the school in case we all agree.
We can also look at the possibility of donating some furniture for these children, since winter fast approaching it gets tough for them to sit on floor and study.

I am leaving you with a few pictures and an invitation to come forward and donate a small amount if you may please. Feel free to contact me for suggestion or inquiry. If nothing else, do drop a comment to let me know what your thoughts are

Sep 30, 2013

Day 30 – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

For this special day (special because it is the last day of my 30 day project), I searched and searched for a special book and delayed the post by another two days (the 30 day project turned out to be a 50 day project) but in the end my Goodreads list came handy.

Persepolis is the only book I hadn’t reviewed amongst the Top rated books on Goodreads shelf. Also, it is different than any other book that I have read/reviewed.

Persepolis is a memoir of Marjane Satrapi in form of comic-strips when she narrates her growing up years in Iran. It beautifully describes growing up in Iranian Revolution with simple yet powerful strips.
It describes the culture, the child’s views on emperors and impact of war and politics on human life.

Why I love Persepolis is because it managed to tell us so much in so little words. It is engrossing and funny, yet sad and thoughtful. It is one of the best sad stories written light heartedly. I love Persepolis because it is one of a kind. I love it because the comic strips re amazingly cute and powerful.

Persepolis is a must read. 5 out of 5 stars to this book.

Sep 26, 2013

Day 29 – The timekeeper by Mitch Albom

“Time and tide wait for none”. A phrase that we have often heard.

Mitch Albom’s latest book – “The Time keeper” is the wonderful reminder for the saying that goes on for generation.

In this story the man who first counted time is punished for counting the most precious gift. At the end of his punishment, he can relieve himself by teaching two people true meaning of his choice. And then begins his quest to save a young girl who wants to end her life and an old man who wants to live forever.

In this wonderful book, Mitch Albom once again has managed to make us introspect, subtly reminded us to not be obsessed with the world and time and live each day beautifully.

In his race against time, the father of time presents us with an engrossing story that leaves us grasping for more.

Another bestseller by my favorite author, The Time Keeper is a must read for the young and the olds. A sure gift for your loved ones. I rate the book 4.5 out of 5.

Sep 25, 2013

Day 28 – Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

As the last days of this project come closer, I bring to you more of those books from my bookshelf which are kept under a section called special. It maybe the content, narration, my relation to the book or some XYZ random reason…but these books are the ones about which I can launch into an explanation as soon as someone pick them up.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is also a book from the same list. It is one of the most engrossing romance/thriller novels I have ever read.

The book was released in 2001 and has won several prizes including the Orange Prize for fiction.

It revolves around the people held as hostages in Vice Presidential house while they were at a party. In this group of people there is a Chairman of large Japanese company and an American singer.

The story is short but detailed, and as a reader I had no problem visualizing the author’s imagination. It is a love story, but not entirely. It is a thriller but not brutal. It has romance but not girly.

It is a very neutral, very beautiful book that concludes without you having to make an effort to try to finish it. My rating – 4 out of 5.

Sep 24, 2013

Day 27 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

One should not judge a book by its cover, but when the cover itself is so captivating, one can’t help picking up the book for synopsis.

I got this book from someone and a look made me want to read it. A fantasy fiction, the only that I liked ever.

The book starts with – “The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

I must say that the book that starts with that sort of anticipation, grabs your attention in first two pages.

A wonderful book written in a spell casting prose, it leads you to a dream world of your own. The book is magical, in writing and in plot and I often wondered at the magnitude of author’s imagination.

It is a must read book. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Sep 23, 2013

Day 26 - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Here comes another guest post for my project 30 days 30 books (which has now become 60 days 30 books, and is coming to an end with Thanks to wonderful guest bloggers who helpfully contributed to complete the project)

Nikhil shares with us a review of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury on his blog called “Aficionado”. In his post he says – “I am so glad that I finally read Fahrenheit 451. FYI I read this book sometime back & had this review scribbled down minutes after I finished the book but never got a chance to post it .But now today’s the day. No more delay.”

In addition to the above he praises the book with - “Writing is crisp though. This book never feels as if you are reading a classic(in a “doesn’t bore you” sense) because it is so fresh & way ahead of its time that anybody who prefers staying away from classics can also give it a try.”

A little introduction to the guest – In his new yet notable blog Nikhil is doing wonderful job of writing about books and movies he’d like to read/view or has read/seen. He has his opinions and he puts them across gently. His blog carries a lot of pictures of the book/movie he is talking about.
Introducing his blog he says – “A little insight to things that i feel is worth sharing/reading or let say "Worthwhile reading" as we call it. A Slice of everything is what you tend to find...”

Coming back to the book – Had I not come across this review I would have completely missed out reviewing a wonderful book that I read years ago. One of my first classics, I highly recommend this book to all who think that the classics is not their choice.

Sep 22, 2013

Day 25 –Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Devakaruni

Is it wrong to have really high expectation from an author who has delivered some excellent books one after another?

My case of reading Oleander Girl was of high expectations not met. Having read the Palace of Illusion, I was expecting magic in this book too.

Frankly speaking, the book in itself is beautifully written. Each character is well built up, layers and layers of complicated personality wonderfully explained. Confusions, misunderstanding, fear, love, weaknesses beautifully portrayed, displaying the author’s strength in building characters. However, the story is not what could keep one from keeping the book down.

Adventures of the protagonists or the problems of the characters around her, none of the stories were really gripping. Incidents over incidents make it very sad until the last fifty pages. There are hardly any moments when you can smile while reading.

Though I liked reading the book but it wasn’t something that will really stay with me. It could have been more engrossing than it was.

A good book for weekend reading if you don’t let the problems of protagonists affect your mood. A 3 out of 5 for this.