Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian || Sherman Alexie

Author : Sherman Alexie
Genre : YA
No. of Pages : 230
Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published on: September 12th, 2007
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

synopsis

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live. (bleh, don’t you just hate it when the blurb tries to sound like a review? Leave that to the readers, I say)

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This book was an unexpectedly enjoyable read for me. Unexpected because a) I know absolutely nothing about the Native Americans, so I had no idea what to expect. b) this book was banned for its sexual content and language in America so naturally, I had to be wary.

This book has no fixed plot; it follows the life of a Spokane Indian boy Arnold Spirit aka Junior who was born with a congenital brain condition which alters his appearance (he has a bigger head and feet than the average kid) drawing ridicule from his schoolmates and people in his own reservation. What Arnold wants the most is get out of his reservation and go to another school which happens to be an all-white school so he is forced to get head-on with racial hatred every single day. This book talks candidly about alcoholism and extreme poverty in the Native American community. It talks about racism in such an open way only a 15-year-old boy could. Such serious topics are handled in a heart-warming, funny way and the reading experience is enhanced by the little cartoons drawn by Arnold that appear throughout the book. I found Arnold’s voice relatable despite our cultural differences and him being a decade younger than me.

The world, even the smallest parts of it, is filled with things you don’t know.

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There wasn’t much I didn’t like, except that through Arnold’s narration, the book read more like an MG book than a YA one. I wonder if that’s why the language got called ‘explicit’? 😀 there was nothing so explicit about it if you ask me. YA readers would know how YA protagonists get way more action these days 😂

One more thing, I feel like the topics dealt with in this book were moving and powerful, however, the characters didn’t leave a lingering impression on me. I can’t really put a finger on why.

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Now, one can’t really talk about this book without talking about the author Sherman Alexie who is a known sexual offender. Like Shruti @thisislitblog queries, is it okay to like the work of a despicable human like him? can we separate the art from the artist?

I’m going to swallow my guilt and say yes. I used to believe a writer’s work is an extension of their true selves; this may be true in some cases but it’s also a severely flawed logic. because by that logic, writers who write crime novels and abhorrent serial killer characters are secretly psychopaths (I know…it is not a pleasant thought) so this time I’m going to allow myself to like this book but I’m not likely to read any backlist or frontlist books of this author’s and support him.

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I read this book as a part of the Banned Book Club which is a meme hosted by Shruti @thisislitblog where we read one historically challenged book a month. We support free speech and fight censorship every chance we get. Join our Goodreads group and get in touch with Shruti if you would like to join our Twitter group chat!

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~Mathangi.

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Book haul: Giggles – Biggest Little Bookshop, Chennai

“Book Haul? Not againnn!” you might think, Reader. but deep down, you know how we are. I visited a book shop, so how could I not buy books? Would it ease my guilt if I call this my birthday present to myself? Questions…questions… but what’s done is done. Enough about myself, I’m here to tell you about this classic Indie book store that I visited recently. Giggles – Biggest little bookshop is located just behind Spencer Plaza, in the premises of Vivanta by Taj which is undergoing renovation presently so I had to step around rubble and debris to get to bookshop.

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Did you know Giggles has been around for 43 years? How it has escaped my knowledge all these days, I will never know. I got to know about the shop through Instagram, found some news articles after digging around and have been wanting to visit ever since. The bookshop is run by Ms. Nalini Chettur with whom I had a chat couple of times over the phone before actually visiting the shop – she was an inquisitive, well-read, gracious lady. She already started referring to me as ‘customer’ even before I visited the shop for the first time. 😀

When I finally got round to visiting, I found that, although it was a small space, Giggles houses so many new Indian titles that I have not come across even on Bookstagram or the blogosphere yet. Unlike big bookshops that display only the fast/best selling titles, Giggles has a handpicked collection that is sure to tempt even the casual browser into buying a few (ask me how I ended up buying 5 books 😂) Ms. Chettur quizzes you about your taste in books and then suggests you books accordingly. Her lifelong passion for books shines through when she talks.

I even got to meet one of the regulars at the bookshop – Nanditha, who handles the Facebook page of Giggles. When Nanditha mentioned this book  – Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn, a collection of ghost stories based on Japanese lore, I expressed interest in buying it. Giggles did not have a copy of the book but Ms. Chettur contacted the nearest distributor and made sure I had a copy in hand within 20 minutes just so I don’t have to make another trip for this one book! Color me impressed! ☺️ Suffice to say, I spent a happy evening browsing through the dusty bookshelves and chatting about books.

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I bought these wonderful titles that I’m really excited to read (while I pretend my TBR’s not already overflowing with unread books)

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I was sad to learn that they might close up shop soon due to issues with space and even if they move to a different venue, Ms. Chettur may not be able to run the shop single-handedly anymore. As much as I would like the shop to keep going, can’t help but feel like the spirit of Giggles might be lost if someone else takes over…

However, pulling down of the shutters is not imminent so you should definitely visit this store if you’re in Chennai and up for discussing/discovering books over some chai. I understand they have plans to hold some book exhibitions soon, do keep an eye on Giggles’ social media pages listed below for more information on the same.

Pro tip: Make sure you call ahead before visiting, they are open only for a few hours in the afternoons and closed on Sundays -> you can find Nalini Chettur’s mobile no on their facebook page.

Giggles’ social media: Instagram page || Facebook page

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Have you chanced upon any interesting meetings/conversations at book stores? I’d LOVE to hear! Do share in the comments. 🙂

Happy Reading!

~ Mathangi

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Review: Happily || Chauncey Rogers

Author : Chauncey Rogers
Genre : MG / YA Fairy-tale retelling
No. of Pages : 299
Publisher : Independently published
Published on: April 3, 2018
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

synopsis

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, 
make it.

Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

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I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical when I first saw that HAPPILY is YET another Cinderella retelling. I had felt the same way about Geekerella which I read last year, and it had pleasantly surprised me (← sly plug of my review) Now, history has repeated itself with this book. While Geekerella is a straightforward modern retelling, Happily by Chauncey Rogers is an entirely fresh take with original characters.

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When it’s announced that ANYONE who fits into the glass shoes can marry the prince, surely the ugly stepsisters couldn’t be the only ones scheming, in the ENTIRE kingdom?

That’s where our protagonist Laure comes in. Laure is a poor street urchin living off whatever she steals on that day and she realises that the simple task of getting into those shoes can be her ticket out of poverty, and hopefully this kingdom that she hates so much. She decides to grab the chance by any means. Life is not so simple and straightforward of course. Luc, a poor, young merchant, is out for Laure looking for revenge for upsetting his business (…his cart. read the book, you’ll know what I mean 😀 ) and thereby leaving his family hungry. Our girl Laure is smart, she convinces him to team up with her and help her fit into the glass slipper and and get to the throne so that both of them get what they want. This sets off an entertaining chain of (mis)adventures involving looted riches, bandits, fights, a rival kingdom and much more! I enjoyed Laure’s biting snark and her cynical world view. Luc, in contrast, was a friendly, warm, precious bean who could bring upon a change of heart on someone like Laure even.

Has it ever bothered you that, in the original fairy tale, the prince could have just identified the girl he danced with by her face rather than her foot size? yeah, that little plot hole is tied up in this book, I really liked that. 😀

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There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the book but while it was nice to read about the kingdom and its quaint markets, the horse carriages, its merchants, the palace etc, I didn’t really get a “feel” of it, you know what I mean? I wasn’t really “transported” to Éclatant. Other than that, the setting of a kingdom struggling under an incompetent king was perfect for the story.

If I had to be reaaaally unfair, I’d say this: the ending was too perfect, too happy for me. I know…that’s a new low, even for me especially seeing how it’s a fairytale retelling and the book is titled Happily for Hades’ sake. It’s not the book ok? it’s just me that’s a sucker for heart breaks and tragic endings.

If you like your heart getting all gooey and hot chocolate-warm, you should definitely read this book. Like I mentioned earlier, Happily is a wonderfully fresh take on Cinderella with a generous dash of originality.

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Thank a tonne to the author for entrusting me with a copy of his book for my honest opinion.

Happily releases on April 3, 2018 (one day before my birthday, just saying 😀 )

You can buy the book on Amazon here — Happily By Chauncey Rogers (this is not an affiliate link)

About The Author:

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Chauncey Rogers was born in Arizona, and since then has hopped back and forth between the mid-western and western United States. He married in 2012 while attending school in Utah. His favorite movie since he was three is Jurassic Park, and he wishes very badly that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were real, though he doesn’t believe in them as much as he used to.
In March 2017, he published his first novel, Home To Roost. In October 2017, he published Cleaving Souls.
He currently lives in Kansas City with his wife and two children.
Author website: http://chaunceyrogers.com
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Does this book sound like something you would like to check out?
Do let me know in the comments! 🙂
~ Mathangi
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Review: It Must’ve Been Something He Wrote || Nikita Deshpande

Author : Nikita Deshpande
Genre : Contemporary Romance
No. of Pages : 272
Publisher : Hachette India
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

synopsis

When obsessive book-lover (ahem, book snob) Amruta – Ruta – Adarkar arrives in Delhi to work as a marketing executive for Parker-Hailey’s Publishing, she learns that the world of books is not as cozy as she’d imagined. Her eccentric taskmaster of a boss expects marketing miracles to happen on shoestring budgets and in record time, and surviving the job (and the city) means she’ll have to master the local art of jugaad really fast. Worst of all, she’s stuck being a publicist for Jishnu Guha, protein-shake lover, serial selfie-taker, and bestselling author of seven cheesy romance novels, the kind she wouldn’t be caught dead reading.

As Ruta struggles between work and life in a new city, she finds, much to her annoyance, that she needs Jishnu’s help more than she cares to admit. But with her own parents getting a divorce, can Ruta dare to fall in love, especially with someone who’s so impossibly different?

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What drew me to this book was that it was set in the world of publishing, because which bookworm doesn’t like to read about something / anything related to the publishing world? Another was that the heroine is just the type I can relate to and like to read about: a clueless millennial struggling to make her mark in the world. Suffice to say I wasn’t disappointed. I got all of this and more. I loved the humour in this book; really, there was something to elicit a chuckle in every page. The writing style was so breezy and easy to follow. I loved how Ruta is not only a book-snob but also highly opinionated about EVERYTHING! #relatable 😀

Sample this quote here ↓ She’s taking a jab at a Marathi wedding ritual that lets the groom’s family rename the bride (wtf????? but really I’m not surprised at all considering how patriarchal most of our wedding rituals are *eyeroll*)

Because marriage in our culture is akin to buying a puppy at a pet shop and saying, “I am your new owner, and I shall call you Fluffy”

I enjoyed how Ruta’s personality shines through her interactions with her aunt, her best friend Jyo and her cousins. I love how hard she tried to make her cousin rethink her life decisions. She is idealistic, but not without flaws. Jish even calls her out on her bullshit once or twice.

Now, I’m not a big romance reader at all and I truly appreciated the minimal amount of romance in this book. Most of the fluff is in the latter part of the book and even my bottomless, black hole of a heart declared it cUTE!!😍

Based on the blurb, I imagined Jish to be more of an assholey, I-let-the-fame-get-to-my-head sort of person. But guess what!! yes well done, you guessed it. He wasn’t. Under his carefully made-for-camera personality, there’s this big-hearted, genuine fella. The kind of guy who would come without question if you called at 3 AM. I super-enjoyed the conversations between Jish and Ruta and how they help bring out the best in each other and in turn bring out the fuzzies in the readers!

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This was a quick and breezy read for most part and I don’t have complaints, except that the pacing seemed to lag a little once we’re two-thirds into the book. Or may be it just felt that way because Jish disappeared in that part of the book, I don’t know. 😅

I’d be lying if I said the book-snob in me didn’t ever-so-slightly cringe at the use of regional-accented English in some places, although I think it was done to show the reader the kind of language Jish employs in his books and how it explains their appeal ’cause so many people speak that way as well.

That brings me to my last point: there are some, not many, but some Hindi phrases used throughout the book and I would have liked a footnote with the meaning added wherever needed. Not that they were hard to understand, given the context but I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out on some inside joke every time there’s a Hindi phrase. This is not the first book I’m noticing this trend in – remember having the same problem with Glitter and Gloss (my review)

There’s an appeal to the authors and publishers: please include footnotes for any language other than English, just to be safe (not all of us know elvish OR Hindi😂) it would help capture a wider readerbase too.

Would ya look at that, I have rambled on too much as usual! Here’s a TL;DR: basically this was a cute, entertaining read and I definitely recommend. Look forward to more books from Nikita Deshpande!

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Do you like romance novels and to what degree? let me know! I’d say the romance in this book was my threshold, can’t handle more than that. 😂

~ Mathangi

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Review: Audition by Ryū Murakami

Author : Ryū Murakami. Translated by: Ralph McCarthy
Genre : Horror / Mystery
No. of Pages : 200
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
My Rating : ★★★/ 5

synopsis

Documentary-maker Aoyama hasn’t dated anyone in the seven years since the death of his beloved wife, Ryoko. Now even his teenage son Shige has suggested he think about remarrying. So when his best friend Yoshikawa comes up with a plan to hold fake film auditions so that Aoyama can choose a new bride, he decides to go along with the idea. Of the thousands who apply, Aoyama only has eyes for Yamasaki Asami, a young, beautiful, delicate and talented ballerina with a turbulent past. But there is more to her than Aoyama, blinded by his infatuation, can see, and by the time he discovers the terrifying truth it may be too late. Ryu Murakami delivers his most subtle and disturbing novel yet, confirming him as Japan’s master of the psycho-thriller.

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Audition was a total impulse purchase! I’d got this in my Eloor library haul only because it’s horror+written by a Japanese author. This turned out to be a very interesting read. Based on the blurb, I went into the book expecting some level of creepiness and horror elements, and of course it had some truly stomach-churning gory scenes. Can’t say I was disappointed. I definitely enjoyed the whole femme fatale, lady psychopath thing Asami had going on. Honey-trapping unsuspecting men is a trope that never gets old for me. 😂

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My problem with the book was not the gore, but the extremely slow build-up. Because of that, it felt like things escalated too quickly and ended all too soon. The ending was a bit disappointing in how quick and easy it was. I also thought the story was weirdly structured; it would have really helped if the chapters were differentiated to show the readers whose POV we’re supposed to be reading. One thing I never understood was how a vital piece of Asami’s past highlight for potential spoiler: the bit about her stepfather’s abuse of her is told through Aoyama’s dream. That doesn’t make sense AT ALL. why would he dream about something that had nothing to do with him? That’s not how dreams work??? This is why I think having a couple of chapters through Asami’s POV would have elevated the reading experience as a whole, in my opinion.

After finishing the book, I went and watched the movie because apparently, it’s a cult classic?
and holy shit?? Reading it was one thing, but *watching* it was a whoooole different experience. They didn’t have to add new torture scenes is all I’m saying….

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That said, I still think the book was better. I’d recommend this if you are in mood for a bit of gore and a quick read that doesn’t take up much of your time. This book checks all those boxes.blog divider 3

Happy Reading!

~ Mathangi

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Cover Reveal: Breachers by Anthony Thomas

Hello, my fellow readers, sniffers, consumers of books!

Today, I present to you *drum roll* my first ever cover reveal! 😀

I’ve teamed up with the Fiery Seas Publishing to reveal the cover of the book Breachers by Anthony Thomas.

Let’s get the essential details out of the way first, shall we:

BreachersBy Anthony ThomasFiery Seas PublishingScience FictionSeptember 18, 2018

synopsis

Jason Conners is the last person you’d expect to run into a burning building, unless of course there was something inside worth stealing. Call him what you want: criminal, thief, asshole, but hero? Absolutely not. Jason’s questionable behavior and disturbing antics can only be attributed to one secret.          

He can change the future, but with great power comes great responsibility? Hell no. His ability makes him the best thief in the city, and nothing is off-limits. Until Jason’s carefree attitude gains the attention of the Rogues, and the government.

The Rogues want him to stop catastrophic events from taking place, and the government has their own agenda. When the hunt begins, Jason is caught in the crosshairs and learns that breaching is not as limitless as he thought.

Can this anti-hero give up a life of easy money and become the savior the Rogues need, or will it cost him everything—even his immortality?

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I love anti-heroes because most of the time with an anti-hero in the picture, there is no evil cackling, plotting to destroy the actual hero or any of the unnecessary drama that comes with a villain. They act out of pure self-interest and I respect that. That is why the plot of this book appeals to me so much. The cover makes it look every bit of the thriller the book promises to be. I really look forward to reading Breachers, which releases on September 18, 2018!

A little about the author of Breachers, Anthony Thomas:

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Anthony Thomas settled in the city of sin, though part of him will always remain in the small farming town in Northern California. When he’s not hunched over a keyboard, Anthony enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and two dogs.

Social Media:

Website http://www.anthonythomasbooks.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/anthonythomasAU

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Do you like science-fiction thrillers? Does this book sound like something you would enjoy? Have you read anything similar? (…am I asking too many questions?) I would love recommendations. 🙂

~ Mathangi

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Library Tour (and book haul!!): Eloor Library, Chennai

Last year, I had created a new post category on the blog called “Library Tour” with the intention of sharing more posts about libraries in and around my city, Chennai. Till now, it has a grand total of one post: Here

That’s mostly because there are hardly any good libraries that I know of in Chennai. Even the ones that are there, aren’t exciting like the ones I see on social media (usually located in a faraway city or country which might as well be Narnia) and don’t stock up on new releases often. Sad, isn’t it?  So when I read about this Eloor Library in news, I jumped for joy. Only it was in news for the wrong reasons: the library is closing after 27 years due to a gradual decrease in the memberships. 😦 A silver lining was that they were having a library sale with really good deals so I decided to visit with my bestie anyway.

It was a beautiful old space with dusty, worn wooden shelves lined with well-thumbed and yellowed and fragrant books! The only sounds were the rhythmic and soothing creaking of the old fans, the muted chatter of readers, and flipping of the pages. I loved every inch of it!!!😍😍

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pray tell me how are these books ‘New Arrivals’😂 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Maybe we were too late for the sale, or maybe they didn’t stock up much in the recent years, or maybe I was just being nit-picky, but I felt like the offering was quite thin (both quality and quantity-wise). I didn’t find too many books that interested me (which, might I add, helped my book buying ban immensely??? so yay!)

That is not to say I didn’t buy anything AT ALL! Here are the books that I bought! 😀 I was so glad to find three hardcovers from the Series Of Unfortunate Events (with this, I only have one book to complete my collection! 😀 )

I’ve heard so much about Amy Tan’s books but never actually owned or read one until now, so I’m excited to read The Hundred Secret Senses. Got ‘Audition‘ because the blurb promised a bloody and compelling horror-thriller — and did not disappoint! I’ll put up my review of it soon.

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So there you go. This trip has been an experience filled with fond memories – definitely enhanced by the presence of my bookworm best friend Madhuri!:D Even though I’ve known about this place for less than a month and visited only once, I feel like I’ll miss it once they close down.

Have you read any of the books that I’ve bought? How did you like them? I’d love to hear! 🙂

~ Mathangi.

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