Posted in Blogabbery Dazzle, Book Reviews

Book review: Cupcake Conundrum by Dola Basu Singh

I had a good reading month in January. Between audiobooks, ebooks, and physical copies, I made good progress. So when Feb began, I wanted to continue the streak but with a shorter read this time. I also wanted to read something on my Kindle, because I read only 1 ebook in January. And, I also wanted to finish reading something for the February prompt of #ReadingWithMuffy2022 (a book with a pink cover), so that I’d have the rest of the month to write my review. (I am, yet, writing it only a couple of hours before submission, so that is something to say!)

Book Details

Dola Basu Singh’s Cupcake Conundrum fit the bill perfectly (of my requirements listed in the paragraph above). It is an ebook, it is available in the Kindle Unlimited catalog, it is just about 100 pages long, and has a pink cover. 

About this book

At the centre of the plot for Cupcake Conundrum is a cooking competition that our protagonist, Tara, and her crush once-upon-a-time participate in. When one of the judges falls dead after eating the cupcake she prepared, Tara finds herself in the middle of a controversy she cannot afford to be in. She is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, but things take a strange twist when what she thinks is turned on its head.

Why I picked this book

I know Dola Basu Singh as a fabulous editor and writer, and I’ve been in awe of the bits and pieces of her work that I have had a chance to read previously. Obviously, I had to read this one. 

What I liked about this book

Dola is one of those writers who can never disappoint you. And Cupcake Conundrum is testimony to that. It is brief, fast-paced, and will keep you interested right through. It is equal parts predictable and unpredictable. But the star is the journey that will take you between these points. Even if you do figure out the mystery, the how of it will keep you gripped throughout. Without a second thought, this is the most perfect read for a lazy Sunday morning.

What I disliked about this book

There’s really nothing that you can not like about this little dose of some fabulous entertainment.

My rating

5/5

This blog post is part of the blog challenge
‘Blogaberry Dazzle’
hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla 
in collaboration with RRE Studios.

Posted in Blogabbery Dazzle, The Bloggers League

Why I love my Kindle?

I love my Kindle given how it took me several years to finally make a place for a Kindle in my life. And today, I think gifting myself a Kindle is definitely one of the best things I’ve done for myself.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and, if you are as stubborn as me, I hope my reasons for loving my Kindle will help you decide if you want one or not.

Instant delivery of books

The hardest thing to do after I’ve ordered a book is to wait for it to be delivered. With a Kindle, or any e-reader for that matter, it takes me all of 10 minutes to place an order and have the book delivered to and downloaded in my library. 

Friendlier to the pocket

Ebooks on Amazon are almost always cheaper than the paperback and hardback copies, sometimes as less as 50% of the paperback/hardcover cost. Plus, there’s no delivery charges no matter how rare a copy you order. 

Brightness and font adjustment 

I don’t like sleeping in a sharp night light but then that makes it difficult for me to read at night. Or, even if I left the lights on for a while, I can only read books that are lightweight, so they are easy for me to hold while lying down. My Kindle solves all of these problems. Although I don’t recommend and practice reading in the dark, in the off chance that I have to, all I need to do is up the brightness and the font.

This is also one of the reasons my mother loves the Kindle so much and has been able to make bedtime reading a habit now.

Super lightweight

This one is a game-changer for me. In the form of a Kindle, I can carry as many books as I want wherever I want to. And obviously get new books delivered to wherever I am,, on my Kindle library.  

Do you own a Kindle? What do you like the best about it? 

Do you not own a Kindle? Are you considering getting one? 

Disclaimer

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration.’

Posted in Musings, The Bloggers League

5 ways to get out of a reading slump-The Bloggers League 2022

I am the queen of reading slumps, I fall into one so often. A lot! And while there are a bunch of things I do to get out of a slump, often, I cannot recall one immediately. 

So, for the listicle prompt of the The Bloggers League 2022 Week 2, I figured it would be a good idea to list these things down so I, and anyone who needs to, can have something bookmarked.

Read along?

Stop reading

When you are in a reading slump the worst thing you can do is force yourself to read a book that has pushed you in that very slump. I know a lot of us find it difficult to DNF a book but what happens is you just get slower when you read when you don’t want to read and this makes you feel a lot more miserable. So, take a break, give yourself time to recover from whatever pushed you into that slump, and then get back to reading when you want to read and to what you want to read. 

Quit/Be flexible with your reading challenges

Reading challenges can be overwhelming. Personally, I have a very divided opinion on them. When I am able to find time for my reading, the numbers motivate me and help me read faster and make more time to read; when I am not able to find the time, which is very often, they stress me out. Now, I, personally, cannot not do numbers, because that is just how I am wired. So, I make my reading challenges flexible and choose ones that let me be flexible.

For example, I am doing the #ReadingWithMuffy2022 reading challenge this year, which requires me to read a maximum of two books in a month, which I can get along with. 

You can choose to do a weekly challenge, a monthly challenge, a time-based challenge (over a number of books/pages read challenge). 

Basically, find something that works for you, if you do want to do challenges, because these challenges are meant to help you grow as a reader and not stunt you. 

Listen to an audiobook

Seemingly, I cannot stop talking about my love of audiobooks because they are so convenient and so conducive. Especially if you are in the numbers game. 

So, when you do not feel like investing your time and energy in a physical book, just plug in your earphones and enjoy an audiobook. Best thing, you can lay down, do your chores, squeeze in a workout, or just up your step count, while you are listening to an audiobook. I mean, if you can drive the numbers on your step counter and your reading challenge, can you find a more perfect win-win?!

Read comic books

A lot of us may still have comic books from our childhood and obviously, they are easy breezy reads that you can get through with in a few hours. 

If you don’t own comic books, here’s what you can do (non-sponsored suggestions):

  • Check out Bookelphia. They have a decent collection of comic books that you can rent at a reasonable price and have them delivered to your doorstep. 
  • Check out the comics collection on Kindle Unlimited. They’ve got a decent collection too and a very nice reading experience to go along with it.

Visit a bookstore

Now, this might turn out to be a fairly expensive hack, but this is something that has worked for me. Walking between aisles and aisles of books gives me this uncontrollable urge to lose myself in a book and makes it easier for me to decide if I want to DNF my current book or give it a chance. 

An alternative to this, because I have tried to find ways to make this as less expensive I can, is visiting places where you can buy books on weight. I’m not sure of this scene post the pandemic, but I’ve been to one before the pandemic, and I think they are great to check out old books, preloved books, rare books, and the likes.

These tips are non-sponsored and are something that have genuinely worked for me. I hope these tips and my experiences will help you find something that works for you. Let me know in the comments what you do to get out of a reading slump.

Disclaimer

This article is written as a part of The Bloggers League conducted by Vidhya ThakkarNeelam Sharma and Siddhi Palande powered by Penguin IndiaDreamland Publications and Acclidesign should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Hosts are not responsible for any infringement caused.”

Posted in Blogabbery Dazzle, Book Reviews, Reading With Muffy

Book Review: The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

Book details

I bought this book a few years ago (I think soon after it was released) from one of my book shopping expeditions at Crossword in Kemps Corner (in Mumbai), which has now sadly closed down.

About the book

The Mystery of Three Quarters is a Hercule Poirot-resurrection by author Sophie Hannah. It is book 3 in the New Hercule Poirot Mysteries series.

Hercule Poirot is accosted by 4 strangers claiming that he has accused them, through a letter, of the murder of a 5th stranger, who, he is assured was not killed. Poirot has a thousand questions and sets out to seek answers with the help of trusted companions.

You can read the blurb on Goodreads here.

Why I picked this book

Because it had birds on it, which is the January prompt for the #ReadingWithMuffy2022 challenge.

Also because this one has been sitting on my shelf for a really long time.

I have not read an Agatha Christie before; I did one time but I DNFed the book a couple of pages into it (I will, of course, be revisiting the book at some point, but that is a story for another day).

Which makes this my first ever Hercule Poirot read and which means that I haven’t read it as fan fiction. I also have nothing to compare the brilliance of Sophie Hannah’s writing (which I have experienced) to the genius of Agatha Christie (which I have not experienced). So, my thoughts on this book are independent of the history of Hercule Poirot and the master of his creator.

What I liked about this book

When I started reading TMOTQ, it took me a while to get used to it. And then, boy was I hooked! So much that I even downloaded the audio book on Audible, and heard the story when I couldn’t read it. What. A. Thrill.

As a standalone (since I did not know before today that this book 3 in a series), TMOTQ is a fun, hilarious read, with generous amounts of wit and suspense. It starts of great, although it took me a few pages to be intrigued. And then it takes off. Brilliantly.

What I disliked about this book

The revelation I was waiting for. When it came, it was such a startling disappointment that I did not know what to do with all that breath I was holding.

The excruciatingly dragged end is a massive killjoy. 

My rating

I’m going to give this a 3.5 stars and recommend it as a fun read for when you don’t want your grey cells to work too much. 

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration.’

Posted in Musings, The Bloggers League

4 non-expensive ways to satisfy the book hoarder in you – The Bloggers League 2022

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write. Even though I am super excited and grateful to The Bloggers League for an opportunity to instill some life in the musings section of my blog, my mind was as blank as the many new notebooks lying in a corner of my stationery cupboard.

I have thought of and discarded so many ideas before stumbling upon something I felt I could write about.

All books in the stack above have been duly hoarded or bought in FOMO

As somebody who hoards books to escape anxiety, I now own a lot more books than I can read. While this is a classic situation, it can get out of hand disastrously if left unchecked. Like, I get anxious and buy a whole bunch of new books, and then I cannot read them and I get anxious all the more. Basically, I create my own vicious circles and trap myself in them. I am not even going to get into the money I have spent, because that is a whole new vicious circle.

But before we dive into the core content of this article, thank you, dear reader, of this article, for stopping by and reading these words I have penned while watching the first movie in the Hotel Transylvania series, still in my PJs, and thinking about which pizza I want to have for dinner.

Disclaimer
This post is not sponsored by any means. These are just recommendations of things, which I have invested in with my own hard-earned money, that have actually worked for me brilliantly.

Invest in a Kindle/Get into the habit of reading ebooks

I have been team paperback since forever. Ebooks were absolutely not my choice unless there was no other option. Even then, if it was possible, I’d get them printed (yeah, I am rolling my eyes at me).

Getting a Kindle was the game changer. I took a KU subscription and read some books on the Kindle Android app, but it was reading on a Kindle that convinced me. I borrowed a close friend’s Kindle to read one book and see how it worked for me, before I invested in my own.

On Amazon, ebooks are often cheaper than the physical copies and, obviously, occupy less space, so it is a win win on almost every front.

It should suffice to conclude by saying that every single penny I have invested in buying a Kindle for me and my Mom has been worth double.

Get yourself a Kindle Unlimited subscription

I CANNOT harp enough about how much of a blessing this subscription has been. KU’s ever-growing catalogue has a very decent collection of reads that you can borrow to read everytime you want to buy a new book, but are not in the position to invest in a physical copy at the moment. I cannot comment on the extent of diversification of titles and authors in the KU library, because that is a zone I am yet to explore. But when it comes to sorting out things financially, KU is a deal worth every penny.

One of the first books I read from the Kindle Unlimited catalogue

Get a Storytel subscription

When I first tried Storytel, the first audiobook I heard reiterated the fact that I do not have the attention span for audiobooks. The second time I tried Storytel was during the first lockdown, when I was going through a very difficult personal phase and I needed something to shut out my thoughts while I washed utensils and clothes. I did not want to listen to music because it is easier to drift off, and I did not want to watch OTT because I was constantly moving around the house a lot.

Storytel literally turned out to be my saviour. It is cost effective and comes with a very pleasant collection of books. There’s also regional literature and they are growing, so this one is worth investing your money in.

My Storytel bookshelf has started resembling my physical bookshelf

Sign up for book reviews on NetGalley

This one is great option if you have made your peace with ebooks. You don’t have to invest anything except your time and a commitment to review all the books sent to you for review. Confession: This one did not work for me because the MOBIs received from NetGalley don’t come with page numbers; your reading progress is tracked in time and percentage read. I kind of have an OCD for tracking reading progress in page numbers. Someday, I will be able to read these too.

Are you a hoarder too? What do you do to control the urge to buy books every time you are going through something?

Disclaimer

This article is written as a part of The Bloggers League conducted by Vidhya Thakkar Neelam Sharma and Siddhi Palande powered by Penguin IndiaDreamland Publications and Acclidesign should not be repurposed, republished or used otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger. Hosts are not responsible for any infringement caused.”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Sita’s Kitchen by Raghav Khanna

Book details

I received a paperback copy of Sita’s Kitchen from Rupa Publications, in exchange of an honest review.

About the book

Sita’s Kitchen is a very well-put-together narrative of Sita’s personal and professional journey from a small kitchen in the hills to a Michelin-starred restaurant in London. It navigates the turns her life takes as Sita sets out to fulfill a long-standing dream when Arun and his executive assistant, Ben, discover her cooking prowess. You can read the full blurb here.

Why I picked this book

The blurb and the cover charmed me the minute I read more about this book to decide if I wanted a review copy or not.

What I liked about this book

Everything. Raghav Khanna’s writing excels on whatever parameter you choose to judge the book on. Facts, on point. Narration, on point. Characters, on point. Pace, on point. There is nothing about this book that put me off for even a single second.

Worth mentioning, among a whole lot of things, are the two PoVs the author chooses to narrate the story through: Sita’s and Ben’s. One expected, one unexpected. The trend of writing a story from multiple PoVs is catching on, but this one is a very refreshing value add to the trend. What is even more outstanding is how, through these two PoVs, the author paints a layered image of Arun. Brilliant!

The author’s choice of vocabulary is another thing that impressed me a lot. He sticks to a very simple, non-complex telling, but weaves his words beautifully. Here’s an example:

He had probably made up his mind about what he had tasted and what he would do with it, but he was seeking consensus—not so much from a place of self-doubt but a ‘told you so’ to his narcisstic self.

Raghav Khanna, Sita’s Kitchen

One of the most well-done things about this story is Sita’s relationship arc with the various characters in the story. Especially with Arun. It is predictable, of course, yet beautiful.

This one is definitely a must-read. Definitely.

What I disliked about this book

Just one little thing, but I wouldn’t want to give out a spoiler.

My rating

📚📚📚📚📚/5

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Secret Life of Debbie G. by Vibha Batra and Kalyani Ganapathy

Book details

Very grateful to Vibha Batra for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the book

The Secret Life of Debbie G centers around Soundarya, a teenager, whose mother is about to remarry, whose friends are seemingly doing better than her, and who is constantly bullied for her weight and skin color by her schoolmates, and who is constantly looking for validation from everybody who does not matter. You can read the full blurb on Goodreads here.

What do I think about this book

From the blurb, TSLODG gave me serious Gossip Girl vibes. There’s even an angle in there that is similar to something that happened in GG. However, this does not mean it is Gossip Girl.

Leveraging how social media is a part of the day-to-day of Gen Z, and how it often shapes their oversharing and overbearing personalities, TSLODG employs a fun, non-preachy tone to set the tone right on various issues that plague Gen Z. These include their obsession with a certain kind of body, a certain skin color, a certain kind of lifestyle, a certain kind of validation, and with the idea that the world revolves around them. In sketching Arya’s character to become overbearing and rude because of her insecurities, the authors, Vibhy Batra and Kalayani Ganapathy, have created a very relatable example for people to understand and identify their own toxic behaviour traits. In getting irritated at and then analyzing the way Arya reacted to certain situations, in some places, I realized that her responses were pretty much like mine would be in that situation.

What I liked about this book

The cover and the whole packaging of the book is mind-blowing. It is bigger than the usual paperbacks, and I, for one, was really thrilled when I held it in my hands for the first time. IT IS WRITTEN AS A COMIC BOOK, and that makes it a super fun, super light, and fast-paced read. Something that will make it so easy to be consumed by people across age groups. (It was great company for me when I was in the hospital for a viral infection and did not have the mental and emotional bandwidth to process anything more intense than this.)

What I disliked about this book

There could have been a little more depth, a little telling of what was wrong with Arya’s behavior, more because I thought some chapters/scenes ended too abruptly. The graphics could have been clearer too, I suppose.

My rating

📚📚📚📚/5

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews

Book Review: Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana! by Jas Kohli

Book details

The good people at Rupa Publications gifted me a copy of Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana! In exchange of an honest review.

About the book

Lights! Wedding! Ludhiana! is the story of a middle-aged man caught in the glitz, glamor, and show-off that makes the daily life of his family and of practically everybody in the city of Ludhiana. The fact that he is a staunch environmentalist does nothing to help his outlier status.

The fact that we have wedding season in India only goes to show that we live for and immeasurably love our weddings and everything about them. And it is this fascination with weddings that forms what the narrative revolves around.

Why I picked this book

I was completely sold at the cover and the fact that the story centres around a big fat wedding in Ludhiana. Sounded like a sure shot entertainer!

What I liked about this book

The cover. It is eye catchy and fun, and I know I’d have gravitated towards it if I’d spotted it on a shelf in a bookstore. It has satire and humor in a fun balance. The characters are realistic and relatable. As are the situations. The language is simple and overall, the story makes for an interesting read.

What I disliked about this book

It is very superficial. It’s like it touches a lot of points but does not delve deeper into the issues. I am guessing this was deliberate to keep the story as light and as fun as possible, but I feel that there was scope to probably add one more layer of emotions to the story, and still keep it light and fun.

My rating

📚📚📚.5/5

Posted in Promo Post, Rachel's Random Resources

Promo Post: Gloria by Katherine Shaw

Gloria

For all intents and purposes, Gloria Harrison has the perfect life: a rich husband, a beautiful home, and all the free time she needs to work on her art. And yet, she is deeply unhappy. Initially resigned to be pushed around by her snobbish, manipulative husband, Greg, she discovers a shocking truth about him she simply cannot ignore, and has to get out.

As Gloria’s world unravels around her, she has to team up with friends new and old to escape not only her husband’s clutches, but also the country, even if that means giving up everything. 

Gloria must rediscover who she used to be and realise her true worth to finally free herself from Greg’s stranglehold forever, or risk losing the person she holds most dear in the world – her daughter.

Purchase Links

https://mybook.to/GloriaAmazon

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/gloria-73

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/gloria/id1574984606

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gloria-robert-shaw/1108724822?ean=9781838378608

Author Bio – 

Katherine Shaw is a multi-genre writer and self-confessed nerd from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, spending most of her time dreaming up new characters or playing D&D. She has a passion for telling the stories of underdogs who must rise up to defeat the hardships they have been dealt in life, often with a focus on female protagonists. She is currently working on her debut novel Gloria, a contemporary domestic thriller launching in September this year, alongside several short story projects that are in the works. You can find out more at her website (www.katherineshawwrites.com), and she is always happy to chat on Twitter (@katheroony). 

Social Media Links – 

https://twitter.com/katheroony

https://instagram.com/katherineshawwrites 

https://www.facebook.com/katherineshawwrites

Giveaway to Win a Signed Paperback of Gloria and more (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494440/

Posted in ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Rachel's Random Resources

Book Review: A Lethal Arrogance by D. S. Lang

Book details

I received a ARC copy of this book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange of an honest review.

About the book

Arabella Stewart is back from the war. Even as she deals with the scars of the war, she struggles to get her family business back to his former glory. In the middle of this, a new struggle presents itself in the form of the murder of an overbearing snob. She teams up with Jax Hastings, who she shares a complicated history with. This is book 3 in the Arabella Steward Historical Mystery. You can read the full blurb here.

Why I picked this book

I’ve always liked the sound of anything set in an historical premise. There’s so much nostalgia in the simplicity of the setting and so many learnings to entertain and enrich one’s mind. Although I’ve not read the first 2 books in the series, it was tough not to give this one a try when I learnt that it is a historical mystery set in the 1920s.

What I liked about this book

The vibe, of course. The cover is a winner too. Coupled with great writing and what an amazing use of vocabulary that is innovative and convoluted. For example:

His quick acceptance telegraphed the depth of his discomfort and fatigue.

Telegraphed. What a word to use in this context and how beautifully it has been used!

What I disliked about this book

Probably because I haven’t read the first 2 books in this series, my list of dislikes for this one is longer than my likes. The pace is slow, there’s too many characters to keep track of, I felt like I did not know Arabella enough, and the mystery did not keep me too intrigued.

I mostly read it because I had a commitment to keep.

My rating

📚📚📚/5