Mrs Funnybones #booktalk

Mrs Funnybones-2

Book Title: Mrs Funnybones
Author: Twinkle Khanna

After the entire world had read it, reviewed it and heaped praises on it, finally I got around to reading Twinkle Khanna’s Mrs Funnybones. In fact, this really isn’t a review at all, just some thoughts about the book. If you’re one of the minuscule number who, like me, haven’t gotten around to it you could take a read.

I read her columns, along with millions of others, and like them too but somehow I kept pushing the book away. The thing is I’m a novel -reader. Bits and bytes of storytelling don’t tempt me. But then the kids’ had their exams and I was looking for something  short, light and happy that I could read on and off between their multiple calls for help. Mrs Funnybones fitted the bill to a tee.

This is a collection of, what seem like journal entries or blogposts, from the life of Twinkle Khanna – a mom of two.

What would have otherwise been random disconnected, though interesting, slice-of-life entries, transform into an engrossing read by her unfailing wit and self-deprecatory humour with bits of life-learnings thrown in. The book is a perfect mix, specially in my current preoccupied state of mind.

I shared this quote on twitter last week. I loved it and apparently, so did some 600 other tweeples.

 

Mrs Funnybones quote

Twinkle Khanna had a short stint at Bollywood, is the wife of a famous actor and the daughter of one too, however the book doesn’t read like the life of a celebrity. And yet there is no effort to block off the famous family members or shy away from the fame – the husband’s or the mom’s. They step in and out of the pages of the book perhaps just as they walk in and out of the house – easily, naturally, nonchalantly. I enjoyed those  glimpses.

The book has plenty of endearing moments – her sleeplessness over an impending photoshoot as also her worry when a bunch of family members descend at her home for a festive get-together, her rush to the book-store to buy a book that her son needs for an assignment, her impatience with fasting for Karwa Chauth, yet finding the fun in the festivities. Enjoyable, relatable.

The best thing about Mrs Funnybones is that she finds a connect with you without ever getting mundane.

I have to add, though, that try as I might I cannot picture her hailing an auto with two children in tow. Are the days of famous people being mobbed really all gone? Or even that bit where she’s frying McCain samosas in the kitchen, drenched in sweat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disbelieving her, just finding it hard to. No, it isn’t the same thing.

Last Thought: A perfect read for the in-between times.

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Big Little Lies – A Review

Beat About the Book

Book Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Lian Moriarty

This review is long long overdue and yet I’m doing it not because of a professional commitment but because I’d promised myself this book was too good to be buried in my “read’ list and forgotten. I know I’ve raved about it on social media so that almost all my friends have read it and yet I’m going ahead with the review because it’s worth it :-).

I already said in my Teaser Tuesday how Big Little Lies kept me awake at nights. I’ll add now that it lived up to its promise right up to the last chapter.

The Story

This is essentially the the story of three kindergarten moms whose children start school together. They all go to Pirriwee Public School. There’s Madeline, mom of two – a teenage daughter (with her ex-husband) and a kindergartener. There’s the ethereally beautiful Celeste who has a pair of rambunctious twin boys and there’s Jane and her son. There are two more moms who are a crucial part of the story – Renata, the high-flying executive mom and, Bonnie, wife of Madeline’s ex husband.

Did I just confuse you? Well just go over this again because these are the ones you need to watch out for. There are half a score more that had me thoroughly confused for the first few pages of the book. However as I read on they began to take on personality and form alignments and cliques.

That’s the best bit about the book – it unravels slowly, page by page and that is what keeps you hooked.

But I’m digressing. Back to the story.

The book opens with a murder but you don’t get to know who was killed till the very end. So while most thrillers focus on figuring out ‘who did it’ and ‘how it was done’, in this one we’re also wondering who died. A murder investigation thread runs through the book.

But that isn’t the only mystery. On the first day of school Jane’s son, Ziggy, is accused of bullying Renata’s daughter Amabella. While Amabella says it’s him, he steadfastly refuses to accept his crime. His mom, Jane’s believes him instinctively, but she has a secret which prompts her to doubt him.

What I felt/thought

Big Little Lies has the distinction of making me break my resolve of never reading the end of a book before I actually get to it. Twice.

This might make the book seem like a thriller, which it is, but to say that it is just that wouldn’t be fair. It is much more, bravely tackling issues like domestic violence, rape, co-parenting, single parents, stay-at-home moms vs working moms and teenage angst. There are scores of everyday issues that kindergarten moms handle – last minute school projects, birthday parties, playdates, bullying and of course parent politics. I could identify with a lot of it and that’s what made the book enjoyable.

The TV series

While I’m at it, I also have to mention the television series based on the book starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley.

I watched it after I read the book because I simply didn’t want to step out of the Big Little Lies haze.

It’s a great watch with some wonderful moments and inspiring dialogue. My favourite bit is where Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste, takes up a case (she was a practicing lawyer before she had the twins). She scores a win in the negotiations and comes away on a high. And she shouts out, ‘Being a mother is not enough for me.’ I loved that scene. The sense of freedom she feels in verbalising that thought, which perhaps has been dormant  in her head for some time, is so beautiful to watch. Also, the scenes of domestic violence are brutal. They made me snap out of my long time crush on Alexander Skarsgard (which I’d developed after watching The Legend of Tarzan), completely and very rudely, I might add.

It is available on Hotstar in India, in case you want to watch it.

That said, I have to mention that the book is much better. It is much more layered revealing the story bit by bit while never letting the pace flag. Do read it first. You’ll know why I say so once you do.

Last thought: Go for it.

Big Little Lies #TeaserTuesday

I started reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty yesterday and it kept me awake till past midnight, till my eyes closed and I crashed on the bed without removing the covers. That, dear friends, never happens to me, no matter how tired I am, and on a school night too, when I had to be up again at 5 am.

This one is that good.

big little lies

 

Sharing a passage from the book for Teaser Tuesday – the brain child of Should Be Reading. I fully intended to do this yesterday but you know now what happened.

The book had many many passages I loved and identified with but I’ll talk about all of that when I review it. Here’s one I quite agree with. The unfairness of this question has baffled me time and again.

“I mean a fat, ugly man can still be funny and lovable and successful,” continued Jane. “But it’s like it’s the most shameful thing for a woman to be.”
“But you weren’t, (fat and ugly) you’re not—” began Madeline.
“Yes, OK, but so what if I was!” interrupted Jane. “What if I was! That’s my point. What if I was a bit overweight and not especially pretty? Why is that so terrible? So disgusting? Why is that the end of the world?”

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If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Which was the last book that kept you up through the night?

Piles to read before I shop

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Hola folks and happy new year. I know we’re almost done with 1/12th of the year but I like to think that while we’re in January the year is still new.

Here I am with my 2018 reading plan though I’ve already done four books and am mighty pleased with myself. It’s a good start, I’d say.

Last year I’d drawn up a rather elaborate list of categories and books I’d planned to read. I made decent headway during the first few months and then I lost my way.

The thing with books is that new ones keep dropping onto your radar in a terribly distracting manner. Before you know it you’re at your kindle ordering one and then another one and then another and you’re reading ones you’d never planned to but found that you just had to. That’s what makes sticking to a list so very tough. A friend’s recommendation, a great review, a FB group discussion anything can lure you away.

So I meandered. And to tell you the truth, I am not one bit sorry because I read some super fabulous books that’ll remain on my favourite list for ever. This is one act of unfaithfulness that yields wonderful results and no regrets.

However this year, I am setting goals which are more realistic and, hopefully more budget friendly.

Reading Resolution No1

I’m staying away from all Challenges except the one on Goodreads where I’ll be reading 37 books. That might sound like an odd number. Last year I’d pledged 35 and managed to complete the challenge. I wanted to raise the bar just a little bit and 40 sounded too much so 37 it is.

Reading Resolution No2

In addition to that first one I am also taking up the ‘Read My Own Damn Books Challenge’. This, I think, is a fabulous idea, which kicked off way back in 2015 at Estella’sRevenge . Considering that I have half a dozen unread books on my kindle and a tottering pile by my bedside I really should get to them. I don’t think I’ll finish them all but try I shall.

Reading Resolution No3

Finish last year’s list. I’d gone to a lot of trouble to make the list and it has some wonderful books on it. It would be a shame to dump it all.

So there, that’s it. That’s my reading plan for this year.

If you have a reading plan or resolutions around books do share with me in the comments or leave a link if you’ve done a post. Would love to drop by and catch up.

Linking up with Shantala’s #ChattyBlogs

The Conundrum – A Review

Book Title: The Conundrum
Author: Ajita Jabal Shah

 

The Conundrum

 

The Story

The Conundrum tells the story of Maia, brought up in a relatively sheltered world by open-minded parents who encourage her to follow her dreams. And that of Ajay, a poor farmer’s son, who has toiled his way to college. They don’t seem to be made for each other and yet they come together to make a story that makes its way from Baroda all the way to Champaner.

What I liked

This is a simple story, simply told. To begin with, I liked Maia as the protagonist. She’s a modern-day girl, smart and pretty and a bit of a feminist, just the way I like them. The arranged-marriage-groom-hunting scenarios were only too real and brought back memories. The masala chai and the ‘letting the youngsters talk’ were only too familiar.

My favourite, however, were the little touches that the author included in her descriptions. The smells, the sights, the clothes – those are things that made the story come alive for me. The smell of Rajnigandha, the sight of a flaming Gulmohur, the Bougainvillea and the Banyan, the singing of bulbuls and chirping of sparrows – those  images stayed with me.

What could have been better

On the flip side, I wish the author had taken more time to build the characters, other than Maia. Given that this is a love story (according to the blurb) we didn’t get to see many glimpses of Ajay’s life and as a result couldn’t form a connection.

Also there were a host of other characters, too many of them – Nirav, Swapna, Nupur, Manan, Nitish, Nalini, Neelu. They ended up cluttering the narrative. Fewer characters with more flesh on them would perhaps have worked better for me. I would have definitely liked to know more about Nitya, her life and her struggles, given that she has such a pivotal role. The book needed to be longer.

Oh and there were easily avoidable editing errors:
‘Ringed a bell’ for ‘rang a bell’, ‘Effluent sangeet ceremony’ instead of ‘affluent ceremony’, and ‘sheer korma for sheer khurma/khorma’.

Last thoughts: This one makes for a light easy travelling companion.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

#BookLover’sTag

BookLoversTag

That’s the latest bookmark my daughter made for me

Many of my book loving friends have taken up this tag and I couldn’t resist it either. Talking about books and comparing reading habits with other book lovers is fun, isn’t it? So here goes – my attempt to answer 13 questions on books and reading.

1.  Do you have a specific place for reading?

Nope. Somedays it’s the beanbag on the balcony, somedays my bed, somedays I curl up on the sofa in the living room. Sometimes, when I want to be around the children, I even make place for myself in their room among sketch pens and stuffed toys and other such mess. So just about any place is good.

2. Bookmark or some random piece of paper?

Bookmarks, generally. However with three readers in the house there is a constant struggle for them resulting in deep debates on which bookmark belongs to whom. For instance, if my daughter makes one and gives it to me – is it hers (because she made it) or mine (because she gave it away)? We still haven’t figured that one out. In desperate times I make do with old receipts or pamphlets or ends of teabags (the dry ends, okay!) or even a comb. One time I put the TV remote in my book and had the whole house looking frantically for it. That was fun, for me, not so much for the others, perhaps.

3. Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yup. Drink, for sure. Tea and books make for a perfect combination, isn’t it? I participated in the Write Tribe Contest on Tea and Books and won another book for this picture. That’s what I call a win-win situation :-).

Another book, another cup of tea, another happy evening. #teawithwritetribe #amreading

A post shared by tulikasingh (@obsessivemom06) on

Eat, not so much, unless you count snacks as eating, or chocolates, which I do. Occasionally, if the book is super gripping I might take it to lunch or dinner too. I do strongly recommend having munching material around while reading. Makes the whole experience much more fun.

4. Music or TV whilst reading?

Nothing. Ideally I like to read in silence. However since the children came along I can read with music, television, arguments, laughter, teasing, fighting… pretty much anything.

5. One book at a time or several?

One. However, if the book isn’t too engrossing I might wander off with another one and then come back to it.

6.  Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I do prefer to read at home but I’m not too particular. I’ve read at the dentist’s clinic (the wait is pretty long and the book helps take my mind away from what is to come later), on the steps of the clubhouse while the children are in an activity class or on a bench in the park.

7. Read out loud or silently?

Silently. Are there people who read aloud? Even if they’re reading for themselves? That would be odd, no?

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Mostly, no. However some books are made for skipping lines/pages. Have you read The Hunchback of Notre Dame? The descriptions are mind bogglingly long and I mean pages and pages and pages of descriptions of the church on and on and on. I completely hopped, skipped and jumped through that. The story was beautiful though, sad and touching.

9. Break the spine or keep it like new?

Keep it like new as far as I can.

10. Do you write in books?

No way. But if I’m reading a book for a professional review I like to make points. Kindle is a blessing because I can highlight the bits I need to get back to.

11. What books are you reading now?

I am between books, so to say. I bought Shashi Tharoor’s An Era of Darkness (at just Rs 199 on the Kindle! Thrilled with that!) and am wondering if I should start with it. But then again I think it will make me just too angry/outraged. I recently read Lolita and that had me feeling sick for ages. So perhaps I should stick to something happier and keep this one for the vacations.

12. What is your childhood favourite book?

Like most people from my generation Enid Blyton ruled all the way. I loved her Faraway Tree series as also St Clare’s, Malory Towers best of all.

13. What is your all time favourite book?

I refuse to answer this one. It’s like the twins asking me who I love more. And perhaps only the recent ones will jump out of my memory which would be so very unfair to the ones I read earlier. So no, I won’t answer that question at all, thank you.

If you liked the tag and are a blogger, do take it up or else share your preferences with me in the comments.

Two romances and some catching up

Chicklit

So I woke up early this month, figuratively of course, to find that I was five books behind in my Goodreads Challenge. All through this year I had maintained a steady pace and kept a book or two ahead. But these last few months had been exceptionally trying and I lost touch.

I was pretty freaked out, I do hate backing out on a commitment even if it is to myself. And so I went on a reading frenzy. I am so very glad I took up the Challenge. It proved a great way to get my reading back on track.

I’d set aside a pile of books to read but I put them all away in favour of something light and happy. Something that wouldn’t demand much from me in terms of attention because the children were home and I knew I’d have to be on random call. So I picked up my favourite go-to comfort genre – light romance.

I began with two books I’d picked up during a Books by Weight sale. They’re both fan fiction in a sense – one on my all time favourite book, Pride and Prejudice and the other on a television series I loved, Downton Abbey (My ringtone has been the theme song from the show for a long time). Interestingly, both brought together American and English sensibilities that was fun to read.

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

… is the story of three women living in an upmarket apartment building but very different in their circumstances as well as attitudes. The concierge is a fan of the show  and organises a screening of the first two seasons. He invites the residents for an evening of sampling not just the show but also a bit of British culture. That’s where three women end up connecting and sorting their lives.

Although this is definitely chicklit, it isn’t about twenty something women complaining about bad dates. The women are older, Brooke is a single mom to two kids, finding her feet after her recent separation from her husband, Claire is an empty nester struggling to write a novel while Samantha is someone who marries for security and money and is trying to understand her relationship with her husband. Those individual stories were  interesting. And there was romance too, so that was a bonus.

However the story had nothing to with the series so I was a little disappointed. The title lead me to believe there would be some kind of a connection. Conversely, having watched the show isn’t necessary to enjoy the book, so that could be a plus. As a standalone book, it was a decent enough read.

Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter

..is my other read. It is the story of a 29 year old American girl Emily who runs a book store. I loved that bit. Any self-respecting female runner-of-a book-store has to be in love with Mr Darcy and so is Emily. The yearning becomes stronger as a result of scores of really bad dates. It’s Christmas and everyone is going away for a holiday and on an impulse (which might have been a nudge by her fairy godmother) she takes up a Jane Austen guided tour. On the bus she realises she’s the only young person around among a sea of silver-haired women other than the rather obnoxious reporter, Spike. He’s out to discover why Mr Darcy remains the heart-throb of women across ages.

While on the tour, Emily encounters Mr Darcy, the real Mr Darcy. The difference between real and fantasy blurs as Mt Darcy begins to fall in love with her.

This is a light easy read if you have nothing else to do. There’s enough humour to keep you going with some really sweet bits. However there’s a supernatural element that didn’t come through and in the end the book ended up as a rather confused mix. It remains a forgettable read.

Oh my one source of annoyance was an Indian character called Parminda. Please, it’s ‘Parminder’. And she’s into yoga. In Goa. Such careless stereotyping puts me off, even though it’s just a small side character.

After these books I went on to read a bunch of others:
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies by JK Rowling
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbagh
Rekha, The Untold Story by Yasser Usman
Letters from Kargil by Diksha Dwivedi
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult
Origin by Dan Brown
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

That’s nine books in a month! I didn’t even know I was capable of this. And with that I’m all caught up with my challenge. I can now relax and read at a steady pace through December.

So what have you been reading? Did you take up a reading challenge? How’s it going?

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Linking up with #Chatty Blogs from Shanaya Tales

And with My Era’s #BookTalkbooktalk-badge-2