Book Haul || Chennai Book Fair 2018

Would you like to know a cold, hard truth about me?

……….

I love used books! Phew. There. I’m really oversharing today aren’t I…

Okay but is there any other treasure trove for used books like book fairs? I think not, my pals!

The Chennai Book Fair (CBF) is the biggest and one of the few book fairs that happen in my city, Chennai, and its 41st edition completed just recently. The fair is famous for featuring local publishers and tons of books in regional languages, but it also features stalls from the English publishing giants such as Penguin India, HarperCollins India etc. That’s not what we are discussing today, though.

A couple of years ago I discovered that CBF houses many used book stalls that contain gems that I would have never come across normally, in Amazon or at any big bookstore, and for unbelievable prices too. The book hoarder in me died metaphorical deaths out of pure joy. From that time, it’s become the one event I look forward to the most in a year. In 2017, I found lots of wonderful books and went crazy, buying about 21 of them. This year, the collection was a tiny bit underwhelming but I still immensely enjoyed browsing through the book stalls.

Here are the books I bought this year. Quite a mixed bunch, most of which I picked up on pure whim but, as they say, #NoRagrets.

IMG_20180116_225709_130

The chocolaty-est GANACHE on the proverbial cake, of course, was this!!

IMG_20180116_105755_001

This would quite possibly be my most exciting book purchase EVER. Look at ’em glow!! I have only read Jane Eyre in the ebook format and I’m really happy to own a hardcover of what is one of my favourite classics. I’m super excited about Rebecca. It’s been on my TBR wayyy too long.

Here’s a couple more pictures 😀

IMG_20180116_105615_916IMG_20180129_112031_706

 

With this, my tiny shelf is well and truly overflowing with books and I really should NOT buy anymore this year…(here’s the part where you extend your supportive hand to me)

So what do you think? Have you read any of these books? Share with me! 🙂

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Advertisements

Review: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic || Leigh Bardugo

Author : Leigh Bardugo
Genre : Fantasy/Fairy-tale retelling
No. of Pages : 288
Publisher : Imprint
My Rating : ★★★★ / 5

I think I’ve cracked it, guys: Leigh Bardugo is actual Grisha. I mean…there can be no other explanation for the magic she weaves with her words. She must be a Fabricator of Words or something? Must be.

I completely fell in love with the Grisha-verse after reading the Six of Crows duology and was only too happy to pick up this book as my first read of 2018. Best. decision. ever.

Here’s the thing: The classic, watered-down version of fairytales we were fed on always did seem awfully tame to me, with their gold-hearted princes and predictable, happy endings. Bleh and more bleh. Give me more of THESE atmospheric tales with deliciously dark, unpredictable twists!

I urge you, parents, to chuck the ol’ Cinderella and read these tales to your impressionable, young offsprings. These stories will teach one to never take anyone at face value, never underestimate someone, nor trust a person easily, and the dangers of hope. Actual survival skills.

7f2baf2475810864c7aca601cb5ae95b

Ayama and the Thornwood – This story puts a very interesting spin on the Beauty and Beast story and it was slightly reminiscent of the Greek myth about King Minos and the Minotaur too. Ayama, a girl who is constantly overlooked and taken advantage of is forced to confront a monster in the woods and in the pursuit, she ends up learning more about herself and what she wants from her life. Yes and yes! Rating: ★★★★★

“You see, some people are born with a piece of night inside, and that hollow place can never be filled – not with all the good food or sunshine in the world. That emptiness cannot be banished, and so some days we wake with the feeling of the wind blowing through, and we must simply endure it as the boy did.”

The Witch of the Duva: If you take unpredictability and multiply by 75 times and you get this story. I suppose it was a spin on the Hansel and Gretel tale with a witch in the woods and all. I thought I knew where this was going but by Holy Mother of Tardis, I didn’t. Not by a long shot.  Rating: ★★★★

The Too-clever fox: This was a story about a fox who was the Ugly Duckling of the family but builds a good rep in the woods solely through his smarts. It was an entertaining story, albeit a predictable one. Rating: ★★★

The Soldier Prince: I haven’t read the classic fairytale version of this story so I had no idea what I was getting into but nothing could have prepared me for this. It was terrifying and I loved it. Rating: ★★★★

The Little Knife: Okay this one started out like a regular story of a beautiful girl and her greedy father trying to make money off her under the guise of finding her a suitable man. To be honest, I was a little bored in the beginning but then Bardugo hits you with a whoop-ass twist in the end. I am thoroughly whoop-assed (ass-whooped?) Rating: ★★★★

When Water Sang Fire: I’m confused about how I feel because I thought this was a gorgeous story, I absolutely loved Ulla but something felt amiss. Incomplete. I didn’t quite get what happened to Ulla at the end of it all. Highlight for potential spoiler: I think I’m still sad about Ulla and Signy not ending up together? I mean, how can they not? what happened to the whole We were not made to please princes?

“But hope rises like water trapped by a dam, higher and higher, in increments that mean nothing until you face the flood.”

So the average rating comes up to a 4 but you see, the stars don’t matter at all. Irrespective of my rating, the point stands that I’ll read basically anything Leigh Bardugo writes, including my own obituary.

Have you read this book? Do share your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

Happy Reading!

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

 

My Reading Resolutions For 2018

First of all, let me wish you a very Happy New Year! May you find joy and success in all your 2018 endeavours. 🙂

If there’s one thing we all like to do in the beginning of a new year, it is reflection and planning. (...ok ok that’s two things)

ref

You know how terrible we readers are when it comes to remembering the books we read, but a little throwback to my 2016 bookish resolutions and the very helpful summary provided by Goodreads tells me that I’ve had a rather good reading year!

In 2016, although I surpassed the number I had set for myself, I basically didn’t make conscious decisions when it came to choosing books, I’d just picked whatever came my way. That changed in 2017 and I’m happier for it. I didn’t quite reach my goal of 70 books, but I did discover new authors, read a few classics, and explored different genres. All this combined made for a very satisfying year indeed. 🙂

plan

For 2018, I’ve decided not to worry too much about numbers. 30 books or 70 books – it is all the same. Ultimately, what matters is what you read and what you take away from it rather than how many books you read.

I have also decided to NOT give in to the temptation of new books and finish the very many unread paperbacks I have bought in the past years (before the ever-growing mountain of books topples over me, bringing instant death. Poetic justice, some might call it)

divider

To keep myself motivated, I want to try my hand at a few reading challenges this year:

Firstly, the Goodreads challenge – I’ve set my goal as 50 books this year. I know I said it’s not about numbers, but 4 or 5 books a month does seem achievable, doesn’t it?

reading challenge

Secondly, the Brunch Book Challenge, courtesy of the HT Brunch magazine. Incidentally, they have challenged readers to complete a minimum of 50 books too, including 10 books by Indian authors. I have been wanting to join this challenge since 2014, and 4 years later, I have finally arrived. 😀

Third, the Popsugar reading challenge. I have never done this challenge before either but the 2018 edition has some very interesting prompts that caught my eye! Yet again, this challenge include 50 prompts for 50 books. I shall try my best to get through at least 80% of these. 😀

divider

I’m entering these challenges only to keep myself on my feet, and to help me when I feel like I’m stuck in a reading slump for too long. I wouldn’t advice fretting too much about not being able to complete challenges like these. We read books for the joy, knowledge, and the experiences they offer; wouldn’t want reading to turn into a chore. 🙂

I also want to be more active on my blog and bookstagram than I have been in the past year. This is going to take some serious motivation and discipline, but I hope I can make it through.

Here’s to a fresh start and great books!!

tyrionlannistercheers

What are your reading goals for 2018? Share with me in the comments. 🙂

~ Mathangi

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

 

 

2017: My Year In Books

As we draw closer to the end of 2017, I look back at the books I’ve read this year and realise how good 2017 has been reading-wise. Initially, I had set my Goodreads challenge goal to 70 books, but I changed to 60 later because reasons 😛

Numbers aside, this year feels wholesome because I discovered many excellent new authors (like Keigo Higashino. what was I doing all my life without reading Higashino-sensei’s books?!?) and was able to read a diverse variety of books many of which I loved!

2017 is also the year I got a new Kindle Paperwhite and I believe that dramatically increased my reading speed (and possibly saved my eyesight?) !

Goodreads has beautifully captured my 2017 reads and I’ll try to reproduce that here:

my year

TOTALS

I read 18,139 pages across 60 books

img_bookstack_72-af5338cf446ae1165cc3f6436c3922d0

img_ruler-68214fa67308250e6aa96f778203068a

23301805

SHORTEST BOOK
52 pages
We Should All Be Feminists
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed on blog: Click here
23395680
LONGEST BOOK
608 pages
Illuminae
by Amie Kaufman
My Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed on goodreads: Click here
img_ruler-68214fa67308250e6aa96f778203068a
Most popular among the books I read turned out to be The Hunger Games – which I really enjoyed (but haven’t reviewed because what is there left to say that hasn’t been said already? also I’m lazy)
Looks like the least popular is Toppers by Aayush – you can find my review of it here
popular
Highest rated among my reads is also one of my most favourite reads of 2017: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo!! God I loved this duology so much.
ck
Now, I definitely felt like I have given many books 4 and 5 stars this year but Goodreads says my average rating is only 3.6. I find that strange??? but okay.
avg ratingThere ya go. That was the highlights of my reading year.
Here’s the full list if you’d like to see that 🙂
1
2
3
45
6789
 Let’s make this my wrap-up post for 2017. I hope to be more active in 2018 and continue the streak of reading books that make me happy. Quality over quantity, Y’all. 🙂
Wish you a very Happy 2018!!
~ Mathangi
1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Review: Glitter and Gloss || Vibha Batra

Author : Vibha Batra
Genre : Contemporary Romance
No. of Pages : 184
Publisher : Bloomsbury India
My Rating : ★★★ out of 5

Synopsis :

Misha is a make up artist who, after a series of mishaps and twists and turns, falls madly in love with Akshay who reciprocates her love with ardour. The only hitch in this perfect romance is her prospective sister-in-law who thinks Misha is everything a Bahu shouldn’t be: garrulous, geeky, gawky, gainfully employed (especially the last bit). The questions is will Misha win Didi (and the Kha-Pee Panchayat) over with her Stepford Wife Act? Will she continue to be the poster child for the inherent evils of the Bahu Brigade? Or will she learn to ‘lau’ herself before the whole world and its wife can do the same?

wil gg

Misha, the protagonist of the book, could not have been more relatable. I’d call her the millennial-next-door: a self-deprecatingly funny, hyper person with self-esteem issues and struggling to carve her own niche in her professional life. I definitely saw a bit of myself in her. When she meets the charming Akshay, she definitely dreams of a whirlwind romance, but what she could not have dreamt of was dealing with his possessive and over-bearing elder sister. That’s the problem with Indian marriages: you gotta charm the pants off the entire family!

As if that isn’t bad enough, what does one to do when your would-be in-laws expect you to change your entire *self* in order to be accepted into their *honourable* family?
To Misha’s credit, she tries her hardest to dodge some bullets and take some head-on. What follows is a comedy of errors that is equal parts entertaining and engrossing.

I really liked that Misha’s professional side isn’t glossed over either: there is a lot of details on the kind of products she uses and I, a total make-up noob, found it informative.

widl gg

My only gripe was that the narrative was peppered with colloquial Hindi phrases which I could not follow, on account of not knowing the language. I get the feeling this book would have been a lot funnier to me had I understood all of that.
Annnnd as cute as Misha and Akshay’s romance was, it was all a bit too insta-lovey for my liking. I get why it was rushed through though, for Akshay was merely a third wheel in the action between didi and Misha. 😀

Glitter and Gloss is a refreshingly cute, hilarious read and I’d recommend this if you’re struggling with a reading slump; this book is guaranteed to pull you right out of it.

Thanks a tonne to the author for entrusting me with a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. 🙂

Happy Reading!

~ Mathangi

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Review : The Empty Grave || Jonathan Stroud

Author : Jonathan Stroud
Genre : YA/Supernatural/Thriller
No. of Pages : 448
Publisher : Disney-Hyperion
My Rating : ★★★★★ out of 5

Any number of hyperboles I use to state how perfect the fifth and final installment of the Lockwood and Co series was, would be only an understatement; that’s how perfect I thought it was. For those unfamiliar with this series, Lockwood and co is set in a version of London, England plagued by ghosts and an unspecified time period (and I think that adds to the charm of it) This country-level haunting is called the Problem.

In this world, children with psychic abilities known as Talents are the only line of defense against the ghosts as they are the only ones that can see ghosts. Adults are pretty much useless and helpless. Kids with a strong psychic ability go on to become “Agents” and work for psychic investigation agencies run by adults. Anthony Lockwood, of course, does not trust the adults. At the age of 15, he starts his own psychic investigation agency which comprises of exactly 2 employees excluding himself. Lockwood is the charming,  charismatic leader of the gang with enough recklessness to jump into dangerous situations with his coat flapping and the stylish rapier swinging by his side.

George Cubbins, the researcher – means he ploughs through the archives researching every single detail about the haunting before going on a case and helps keep the team alive during their ghost-hunts. He’s also obsessed with finding the root-cause of the Problem and possibly solve it. Which ensues a lot of crazy experiments.

Lucy Carlyle – a Talented agent with a rare psychic gift that lets her ‘connect’ with ghosts. This ability slowly grows and develops with age, so we actually get to see how she deals with it through the length of the series.

IMG_20171028_110634_614

And of course, there’s the hero of the show – the snarky, sassy, evil spirit that is trapped in a jar, whom we endearingly call the Skull. The Skull is sort of Lucy’s personal confidant (shhh that’s how it is. don’t let her tell you otherwise) because she is the only one that can talk to/hear him. The whole series is narrated through Lucy’s perspective and she’s a textbook example of an unreliable narrator.

Since the Lockwood and Co is a psychic investigation agency, there’s a lot of fun Sherlock-style investigations, exciting chases, gruesome murders (now I got your attention, didn’t I? *wink) The world-building in this series is AMAZING; the types of ghosts, the abilities of the agents – their strengths, limitations these are explored extremely well. It’s got a ton of chillingly scary/creepy moments which made me wonder why these books are categorized under Middle grade and it’s perfectly balanced out by delightfully dry, british humour.

Book #4 The Creeping Shadow had ended with a heart-stopping cliffhanger which shook the entire foundation of what we were led to believe in the past books. So the expectations I had for the fifth book shot so high they may have escaped earth’s gravity and into the outer space….(Listen, I never claimed to be good at hyperboles)

IMG_20170603_173324

I spent a whole year in the painful anticipation of character deaths and pain and more pain from the fifth book; but Mr.Stroud has managed to spring a whole lot of delightful surprises both character development wise (looking at you, Quill Kipps) and plot-wise and has given the ending we deserved. Basically, The Empty Grave was like getting a box of carefully picked out, personalised presents when you were expecting to be given the Pandora’s box. The only tears that were shed were that of happiness (which was the exact opposite of what happened with Ptolemy’s Gate, so one can hardly blame me for having such low expectations)

Most of the loose-ends were tied up perfectly in the book and some left deliciously dangling, open for interpretation. As much as I would love another Lockwood book, I think TEG was the perfect finale to end things for this particular story arc. But obviously, we need more short stories from this world. There’s a lot of case stories that are crying out to be told, like what exactly happened at Mrs.Barrett’s Tomb?? We need to know!!

Speaking of character development, can we talk about Lockwood? and how he ventured out of the shell he’d carefully constructed around his feelings and let out his emotions that were bottled up for YEARS? He still has some ways to go, but this was a good start.
Lockwood and Lucy’s relationship is  so, so great because it’s the kind of stuff entirely built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and admiration (when you are ready to jump off buildings hand in hand, you know it can’t get better than that) it was about time Lockwood let Lucy in on a personal, emotional level too. I love it so much because their relationship works both in a romantic and a platonic way (which is may be why I wasn’t big on shipping them.) I absolutely loved how Mr.Stroud has treated their relationship;in a very subtle way but it speaks VOLUMES. There was ample material in this book for neutral, non-shippers like me to turn into Locklyle trash. That’s all I’ll say.

This is a  bitter-sweet situation because I’m sad the four-year journey with this series has come to an end and I’m going to miss the agonising hiatuses, making up headcanons, staying up reading meta theories on tumblr and most of all, the wonderful kids of Lockwood and Co. But I’m also glad to have been a part of this journey right from the start.

IMG_20171104_144441_906

It’s been over a month since I finished the book, I’m obviously still high on it. If I’d written this review as soon as I finished, it would have just been incoherent screaming in all uppercase letters about how much I loved everything. (not that it’s much coherent now. I don’t want to give out any spoilers) Thank you, Jonathan Stroud for giving me one of my most favourite YA series of all time.

Recently Lockwood and Co has been optioned to be made into TV Series and I couldn’t be happier about it!! It warrants its own post with lots of gushing, may be I’ll make one once we get more info on this. For now, here’s the news article announcing the same.

If you are looking for a perfect Halloween read, Lockwood and co is THE series you should be picking up.

Happy Reading!!

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35

Mini Book Haul || October 2017

Come October, the time of festivities begin in India. It’s also when all the online super sales start, so it’s generally a good time to indulge in retail therapy without putting a gaping hole in your pocket.

Speaking of retail therapy and not ending up with empty wallets? I can’t not talk about this godsend website BookChor . If you’re not already aware, BookChor has a wide collection of second hand / used books as well as new books in very afforable rates. There are books for as cheap as Rs 35!

I discovered this site in 2016 and have been a regular customer since then. They have sales quite often and are the sole reason I have not been able to impose a stringent book-buying ban on myself. :/

Coming to my haul, this is from their recent Dusserah sale. I swear, I was only going to look through the list of books they have! and maaaay be buy one or two. Somehow my hand slipped and I bought 7 books. Oooops.

cruel-intentions-gif

IMG_20171022_213950_192

List of books :

That was all the books I ordered whereas The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter was thrown in as a free blind-date! 😀 This would be my first Inspector Morse mystery too.

This has turned out to be an exciting stack, I’m really happy with my haul. Now to figure out how to sneak these books into my already teetering TBR pile and read them before 2017 ends! (at least, no one can ever blame me for lack of ambition!)

Happy Reading! 🙂

~ Mathangi.

1a765a1d8189585ce6e3c411fba93f35