Monday, 30 March 2020

And the Mountains Echoed. (Mindscape Review)

Hi Readers! I type this on mails, all the time, so here it goes again – Hope you all are well & staying home & safe! So, needless to say, WFH has given me a lot of time for things I love to do, such as binge reading for 5 hours or binge watching for 5 hours. So, this is the review of the book I just finished reading. This was the only book that I hadn’t read by Khaled Hosseini. Given that I had immensely loved his earlier books, I thought it was about time to read this.

You can check out the review of The Kite Runner here.
You can check out the review of A Thousand Splendid Suns here.
And, now below is the review of And the Mountains Echoed!

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one...Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari - as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named - is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

Unlike Khaled Hosseini’s earlier 2 novels, this one is a little bit different. It does revolve around the people of Afghanistan, but instead of 2 main characters, it is made up of little stories of a lot of people of Afghanistan that nicely tie up together. What is common in all three is that they will have you surging with all the emotions & leave you all cried out. The story writing, as always, is wonderful. The author knows how to play with words & readers’ feelings. If you haven’t read it already, you definitely should!

It’s about a father abandoning his daughter & a son abandoning his mother & a sister abandoning her sister. It’s about how the loss of a daughter-like sibling takes a toll on a brother. There are stories about abusive mothers & their daughters again turning into abusive mothers themselves. There is a story of how a man compels another man to sell his daughter & how years later the same man makes their reunion possible. All these stories feel extremely real. They are about loss, more so than anything. They are about a complicated tangled mess of families. They are about regrets & love & selfishness. In a nutshell, these stories are about time & how different feelings are connected to the passage of time. You will be able to relate to bits & pieces of it. And, if you can’t, it’s because you still have the time to repair your own relationships.

I have rated this novel at 5/5 on Goodreads, as I have the other 2 novels of the author. What I loved about this novel is how REAL it gets. How the decisions you make can impact your & others’ lives incredulously. After I read the first chapter, all I was waiting for was Pari & Abdullah’s reunion. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be what I had hoped it to be, I had hope for something. Because these seem to be real stories of real people, it had to have a real ending too, undoubtedly bitter-sweet. And, while I was impatient to get to their reunion, while reading, I understood the real theme of the novel & how wonderful it was. Picking up people relevant to Pari-Abdullah’s story line & getting in depth about their lives was the new element in this Hosseini’s novel, which I have come to love. I loved the main story but the tiny stories depicting the lives of Parwana & Masooma, Nabi & Mr. Wahdati, Idris & Roshi, Nila Wahdati & Pari, Adel & Ghaloom, Markos & Thalia! All these stories of people of Afghanistan just made the novel richer. I’m saying it again, if you haven’t already read it, you MUST!

I have now completed EIGHT BOOKS in March alone & the total has reached FOURTEEN BOOKS this year. Currently I am reading Delia Owens’ ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. I’m focussing on this alone as of now, so I will complete it this week!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Atlas of Reds and Blues. (Mindscape Reviews)

Hi Readers! Hope you all are safe & staying home! As for me, this is the 5th day of social distancing at home. Being an introvert, it isn’t so much of a problem for me to stay indoors, but I’m sure even I will crack sooner or later. Because I am at home, I have all the time in the world. My sleep schedule has gone for a toss. I keep reading a lot. I’m also watching the TV shows which I didn’t have the time to watch earlier. I’m working out in the morning. Doing all these things before & after & rarely during WFH has made me quite productive.

When it comes to my 2020 Reading Challenge, I have read 12 books so far. You can stay updated by sending me a friend request on Goodreads! I have now started reading Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ & I'm also reading Delia Owens' 'Where the Crawdads Sing'. Instead of being lazy, like I was in the past 4 days, I thought I ought to write some blog posts as well. And, so here you will find the book review of Devi Laskar’s ‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’. This is probably the shittiest book I have ever read. I had started & stopped reading it THREE TIMES before, but on the fourth try, I finally murdered the monster. Never have I been in such a complex situation where I found reading to be an absolute task!

An arresting debut novel which bears witness to American racism and abuse of power, tracing one woman's shift from acquiescence to resistance.

When an unnamed narrator moves her family from the city of Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small southern town. Despite the intervening decades, the woman, known only as The Mother, is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrant parents, her truthful answer, here, is never enough. She finds herself navigating a climate of lingering racism with three daughters in tow and a husband who spends more time in business class than at home.

The Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a baseless and prejudice-driven police raid on her house, she finally refuses to be calm, complacent, polite—and is ultimately shot. As she lies bleeding on her driveway, The Mother struggles to make sense of her past and decipher her present—how did she end up here?

Devi S. Laskar has written a brilliant debut novel novel that grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, a sister, a wife, a mother to daughters in today's America. Drawing inspiration from the author's own terrifying experience of a raid on her home, The Atlas of Reds and Blues explores, in exquisite, lyrical prose, an alternate reality that might have been.

I had been wanting to read this book for a really long time. The Goodreads description sure had me impressed. I think it is time for me to not rely on Goodreads description all the time. This is the second time, it has led to me a disappointment, the first one being The Rhythm Section. I even bought both these books because they looked so promising.

Okay, so about the book. I get what the underlying message the author was trying to communicate. The second-rate judgement. The implying racism. I get it. It’s important to write on these matters. But writing about them & having a voice are two different things. The thing that most bothered me was the writing style. What Goodreads mentions as ‘lyrical prose’ is nothing but ‘lazy writing’. It is a different style for me to read, yes. But, I am very open to new styles especially when it comes to books. This one just didn’t do it for me. The story is butchered into a million parts. It is really difficult to understand the link of one thing to other: whether it’s her childhood continuation or her adulthood continuation & how it all holds up together.

After reading books like ‘The Hate U Give’ which focusses on racism toward African-Americans, it is impossible to read anything on a related matter & actually like it. The standards set in that book are high & it has become the level against which I will review similar / related books of that nature. In ‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’, I didn’t find a single thing that will make people weep because of the cruelty of racism like it does in ‘The Hate U Give’. The Atlas of Reds and Blues is not written well enough, in all terms: novel style or prose style or metaphorical style or social matters style.
I cannot stress how difficult it was to read the book. It was pointless & fails to set a tone with the American or Indian or any reader.

I rated it at 1/5 stars on Goodreads. I haven’t rated below that because there were about 2 or 3 monologues I liked & the message is important.
I had been wanting to take this out since a lot of time & I’m glad that I finally did! I already feel a lot better! I also read a few really good books which I will review soon, I promise!

 Until next time,

Saturday, 14 March 2020

The Silent Patient. (Mindscape Reviews)

Hi Readers! As you know, I was in a terrible phase reading bad book after bad book. It’s even worse than being in a reading slump, to be honest! But, then I read All the Light We Cannot See, which was the single most amazing piece of literature. It made me feel so amazing & I felt a lot of feelings while reading it! If there comes a day, when I am not still overwhelmed by the book, then at that time maybe I could review it! Not any time soon!

So, after reading that one, I started reading ‘The Silent Patient’ because it was shorter & a different genre altogether. I legit completed it in 3 week days! I mention week days specifically here, because if I had started it on a Saturday, I’d have completed it on the same day! Here goes its review.

The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller & actually a debut novel by Alex Michaelides. It won the Goodreads Choice Awards Best Mystery & Thriller. It’s the dark & twisted story of a woman named Alicia Berenson. After many years of happy marriage, one day she shoots her husband in the head five times & then never speaks a word again. Alicia is our silent patient.
The novel has 3 parallel stories. One is by Alicia which is in the form of her diary from a couple of months prior leading to the day of murder. Second is the part of Theo Faber, the psychotherapist who treats Alicia. He is also the narrator of it all. Third part is Theo’s personal life.

When you read a novel like this where a lot is happening, you always find a three dimensional perspective towards the characters. Like, how Alicia sees herself when she’s writing her diary, as against what everyone close to her thinks of her, as against how Theo sees her. So, you never really know which is the real Alicia until the end. I think that’s what made it a real page-turner. So, common thing between all the perspectives is that Alicia is a painter. She loved her husband Gabriel who was a fashion photographer. She has a history of mental illness which originated when her mother dies in a car accident in which car Alicia was also there & followed by her father’s suicide. So, all in all, her childhood was quite messed up and yet not a good enough foundation for why she would kill her husband one day.

As for Theo Faber, there is one part of the story where he treats Alicia. In this part, he seems really determined like it’s a mission for him to get her to speak. His life at The Grove where Alicia is a patient is something so ordinarily ‘work’ and yet it turns into something else entirely. I felt that he was acting less as a psychotherapist and more of a detective. So, the point of it being a psychological thriller is pretty much missed. As for his personal life, he has a wife named Kathryn or Kathy. It starts off with how cute their love story began but it ends on an entirely different note as well. In such a novel, when there are such unnecessary love stories mentioned, it bugs me, but I have come to learn that these exist for an important reason. And, I was right about that. This is in no way a spoiler for seasoned readers, so please!

While reading it, you will always wonder about things.
Will she speak again?
Can Theo make her talk?
Was she in fact guilty or innocent?

I cannot give out any spoilers on this one, so I’m skipping the ‘Story Line’ part. Overall, I found the novel to be a bit overrated. It was unpredictable, yes, but given its hype, I was honestly expecting more! There are a lot of similarities that are mentioned between Theo & Alicia. And I don’t mean just about their childhood, their marriage. It’s more about these random incidents early on in the story. But, that never went anywhere. That I thought were some lose ends.
Also, Theo tends to pile up all of everyone’s fucked up issues to their childhood. I mean, is that all there is to psychotherapy? Unresolved childhood problems? Because of this, it didn’t quite touch on the psychotherapy aspect in depth, or at all.

Having said all this, I think it was a good debut novel. Even though there were some obvious misses, I have rated it at 3.5/5. The thing I liked was how it is an unputdownable book. But after reading at a stretch for so long, the much-awaited twist wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Anyway, I enjoyed reading most of it. By reading this novel I have now ticked the ‘A Debut Novel’ category form my 2020 Reading Challenge!

Now I have started reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles’! I will keep you posted on the progress!
Until next time,

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

March Book Haul!

Hi Readers! In case you hadn’t noticed the bold font, here you go – It’s my birthday month! I’m definitely not one of those to sulk on their birthdays because they’re growing old. I definitely don’t care about that (yet.) So, anyway, I’m over joyous now that I will get everything from my wish list from all the people who love me! And, the best part is HALF OF MY WISH LIST IS OF BOOKS! So, my parents gifted me FIVE BOOKS this birthday!!

After reading really pathetic books like The Rhythm Section & House of the Sleeping Beauties, I have firmly decided to read only PULITZER PRIZE WINNING BOOKS or CONTEMPORARY FICTION GENRE, at least for a while. But, to keep the balance I have also bought some highly recommended books. I recently read a fantastic book – ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE BY ANTHONY DOERR, which is the 8th book of the year! Check out the details of my Birthday Book Haul!

Goodreads description says-
“When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.”

The description itself has me intrigued. I love such long books that are written across a period of time. I’m definitely reading this one next! It has won a lot of awards like Booker PrizeNational Book Award for FictionGoodreads Choice Awards Best Fiction! It has a 4.3 rating on Goodreads.

The Goodreads description is quite big, but it starts with this-
“In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.”

This is a HISTORICAL FICTIONAL novel, which is sure the genre I have grown to love! It has got a lot of great reviews as well! It has won Goodreads Choice Awards in 2015! Its Goodreads rating is 4.57.

Goodreads description says-
“Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.”

This book was won Goodreads Choice Awards Best Mystery & Thriller in 2019! I’m so intrigued to read this, especially because it’s been a LONG time since I read any GOOD MYSTERY novels! This one has been recommended a lot by few of my family & friends as well! It has a Goodreads rating of 4.07.

Goodreads description says-  
“Sylvia Plath's shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.
Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.”

This book was published in 1963 so it sure is long overdue. I had started reading it on e-book, but I lost track of it. So now that I have the hard copy of it, I’m sure I will finish it! It has a Goodreads rating of 4.

Goodreads description says-  
“Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.”

After loving 2/3 of Murakami’s books, it is safe to say that I am a fan! This book is highly reviewed & now that I’m a Murakami fan, I’m definitely plan on reading ALL OF HIS BOOKS! Also, by reading this one I can check off the item ‘A book published in the year I was born’ from my Reading Challenge!

So! How great is this? I sincerely hope to like at least 3 of these 5 books. As for my TBR, it keeps growing! Apart from the above books, some of the books I will read soon include Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, Guzel Yakhina’s Zuleikha, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. The list doesn’t end here or it doesn’t really end. Period! But, I know I am on the right track when it comes to my Reading Challenge! I have a good feeling that I will be able to read 52 Books this year!
Here’s to my birthday month & here’s to a lot of reading!!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

The Rhythm Section. (Mindscape Reviews)

Hi Readers! The year is NOT AT ALL going as planned. We’re already in March & I am way behind all my goals. I will have to revisit the 20 Things to do in 2020 because I’m failing miserably in it. It’s not just that I am unable to do it, it has got more with I don’t want to because I’ve lost all interest. I gave up watching TED Talks after one month of commitment in January. I haven’t learnt any recipes. I don’t have any ideas or will to write short stories. I haven’t even visited a temple yet which was the easiest thing to do. The only thing going a little bit on the path is reading & fitness. Everything else has gone wrong.

I have finished reading 6/52 books now & of these I liked only 2. I hate the fact that I am extremely picky about books and yet I pick the bad ones! Why does this happen! So, anyway, I read an extremely pathetic book named ‘The Rhythm Section’ by Mark Burnell. The sole reason I read this was because its movie adaptation stars Blake Lively. And secondary reason being I can check the ‘Read a book being made into a movie this year.’ It was SO NOT WORTH it. The movie turned out to be a flop which is obvious because the book itself is so horrible. And the only joy I’m going to get from this book is by writing an extremely CRITICAL REVIEW.

It’s the story of a woman who changes names & personalities for one goal of vengeance. As the original Stephanie Patrick, she is a helpless 22-year old with no future & not that much life left in her. As Lisa, she is a prostitute. As Petra Reuter, she is a world-known assassin. As Marina Gadenzi, she’s just a girl next door. When Lisa lives her life off selling herself, she meets Proctor which is a journalist. He tells her how the unfortunate flight accident which killed almost her entire family was actually a terrorist attack.
Once she knows this, she sets firm on vengeance by killing her family’s killer. She takes a path where she joins an organization in which she starts with training, goes on with cold blooded murder & ends not so well.

The story is not plotted very well. The base line is a helpless woman going after the person who killed her family. What starts with something this basic ends up with almost laughable twists & turns. There are a lot of terrorist names thrown around. There are many parts where there are so many names mentioned that you basically become clueless as to who exactly is who. There is a lot of pathetic attempts at adventure in the novel. Some sections are just pure meaningless & totally avoidable. Some parts which mention the history of irrelevant people is just a waste of time. I haven’t seen such confused perception from the author’s view point when it comes to character development. There are also a lot of flaws in it which I won’t bore you with. It was a complete waste reading this. I don’t have an iota of understanding as to how someone rational could like such a book. Please do not read it. It’s a shame on the Crime/Thriller genre & would definitely have you disappointed.
What astonishes me even more is this is the first book in a Five Part series of Stephanie Patrick. It is baffling that this book is the foundation of something big. Probably something even more boring & miserable. Please don’t think twice about it & pick another book instead. Anything else would be better. Also, don’t go by its Goodreads description which sounds way more interesting than the actual story. This is the first time Goodreads has deceived me so let me build up a bit on my trust & commitment issues.

Anyway, I hope I have made you aware from the real horrors of the book world. After reading The Rhythm Section, I had to read SOMETHING GREAT! After a lot of consideration, I started ready Anthony Doerr’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ which is the Pulitzer Prize winner, 2015. Five minutes in, I knew I chose right. I know that I am going to enjoy this one! Stay tuned for a good review!
Until next time,

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