Monday, 22 June 2020

My Favourite Genres of Fiction!

HiReaders! How are you all? What are you reading? Well, for me, I am currently stuck in the Chaos Walking Trilogy. ‘Stuck’ being the keyword. I read the first book, which was okay. But, now I am not able to find any motivation to read the second book. But, more about that later! Apart from that, I am also reading bits & pieces from Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ at tortoise pace. All these feelings of being stuck in books & reading crappy books finally lead me to write this post!

There are a lot of genres of books; categories & sub-categories & just so much! But, I won’t get into detail, partly because I don’t know the details of the Genre Family Tree. So, based on the books I have loved & liked so far, I made a list of my Top 5 Favourite Genres! As you all well know, I always read fiction, so all these are fiction genres. While I have read Non-fiction, in the form of memoirs, biographies & such in the past, I cannot say they are my favourite. I have read books of poetry, also not a favourite. I have come to realise that I only like particular kinds of books & so below goes the list! Hope this helps if you are stuck somewhere too.



The first & the most obvious favourite is Historical Fiction, which anyone who reads my blog even a bit, must know. I think this genre constitutes about 70% of my favouritism as compared to the rest on the list. It also happens that extremely good historical genre novels end up winning Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which is another criterion I incline on before picking a book up.

Historical Fiction to me is basically a story stretched over a long period of time, the plot of which is based in the past, extra points from me if it is based in the World War period. (I know, but I can’t help it.)

My Favourite Historical Fiction novels are All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Some others on my TBR, which I am dying to read are A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, The Underground Railroad & The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, The Song of Achilles & Circe by Madeline Miller.



This is basically the opposite of Classics, which I am not a fan of, with a few exceptions. Contemporary or Modern fiction is basically stories post World War II. There isn’t any better way to describe it. When I read a few books which became my favourites, I did not know that this was contemporary fiction. As much as I love historical fiction around World War II, I also love post-WWII literature.

Some of my absolute favourites from this genre include A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. And, I also have a lot of books from this genre on my TBR, including The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.



Well, who doesn’t like Mystery? And by Mystery, I am also allowing myself to include Crime & Thriller in this, because one is really incomplete without the other. The thing with these novels is that they are a page-turner. I start reading one & in just a couple of days or sometimes even in one day, I have finished it. I like that about it. But, the main aspect with mystery novels is that they need to be good, not just a page-turner. I mean, what’s the point if I read all day because it is so gripping only to end on a predictable end or not as satisfactory? That happens with me a lot. My expectations are set so high, I am never TRULY pleased with any mystery novels.

The only ones that did include Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon, The Dry & Force of Nature by Jane Harper, Inferno by Dan Brown, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. I know how hyped Alex Michaelides’ ‘The Silent Patient’ was, but I expected more from that novel. I also really tried with Gillian Flynn, but it wasn’t for me.

In mystery & thriller novels, usually the best books are underrated, as in the case of Jane Harper. My favourite authors in this area are Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown & Jane Harper. I definitely need to find & read more good authors of this genre! For now, these are on my TBR; Pretty Things by Janelle Brown, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware.



Before you expect too much from me, let me translate. Fantasy = Harry Potter & Magical Realism = Murakami. Yes, there are other novels in each of these genres, but for me, these are the winners.

Some of my favourite Murakami books are Kafka on the Shore & A Wild Sheep Chase. And, those on my TBR are The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, The Elephant Vanishes, IQ84, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage & many more!



I can’t say that humour is my preference. But, given the kind of dark novels I like to read, I need to maintain some balance, so here it is. For me, Humour can be anything. It could be funny memoirs by funny people or actually humourous novels by P.G. Wodehouse or just a badly written YA novel that is so bad, it becomes funny.

Some of my favourites are The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling, I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. I plan on reading a lot more of Wodehouse!



I honestly have read my fair share of bad books & I do not intend to go down that lane. So, from now on, I am strictly going to choose books from the above five genres. And yes, some of those could also be bad, but I will feel less miserable because I tried my best! Anyway, tell me what genres you prefer in the comments below!

Until next time,

Thursday, 18 June 2020

My Honest Opinion on Gilead. (Mindscape Reviews!)

Hi Readers! I took up to reading Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Gilead’ a couple of weeks back and boy, did I struggle with it! It saddens me how this was one of my most researched book before I bought it and yet it lead to disappointment. It isn’t a big book and still I found it incredibly difficult to read, even 10 pages at a stretch. Usually I don’t give up on books. No matter how bad, I always finish them. But, I couldn’t finish Gilead. I read about half of it & then I decided there was no point in continuing because the rest was more of the same.



Twenty-four years after her first novel, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life.


I decided to read this novel on two basic factors; one, it was historical fiction, two, it was about War. Books with these two combinations are usually IT for me. Some of my favourites consist of these two factors – All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, The Book Thief! Also, another component was that this book had won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005. So, how could any book consisting of the HOLY TRINITY turn out to be something so pathetic? I asked that question to myself every time I thought of dropping the book, until I finally did.

As the description says, the story is narrated by a minister John Ames where he writes letters for his young son for him to read when John Ames will have died. It sounds good, I know, but wait. In these letters, he talks about his stories, his father’s stories, his grandfather’s stories & so on. We also get a lot of content on God, faith, preaching & all of that. And yet, it fails miserably. Nothing from this is in-depth. It is just at the surface leaving the reader to never truly understand the familial bonds or the faith in God. The content of all these stories put together amounts to everything insignificant in our daily lives. These letters are nothing but random straggling musings of a dying minister with a pinch of advice and more of mundaneness connecting no dots along the way as the story progresses.

The writing was just so imperfect, to begin with. All these stories and reminisces have no context. They just keep on going as randomly as possible, page after page, with no connections to each other at all. How some people found this writing insightful is beyond me. The prose of the novel is such that you will question yourself time & again as to why you are reading this mass of long sentences put together with no meaning.

Gilead obviously did not work for me. The story was just so PLAIN BORING that I had no motivation to continue reading it. The writing was painfully miserable to read. Even though the idea was impressive, the output is entirely bizarre, dull & just not worth it. The stories, as I said, are so random that you cannot dissect characters to actually know them. Also, I just couldn’t relate to anything that came out of the poor man’s memories. It’s not readable, but also not relatable. There is no question of guessing what happens next, and for this book that’s not a positive, because whatever it is you sure can guess it would be a whole lot of dull to read. I rated Gilead at 1/5 on Goodreads. Not once did I have to re-think on my rating or my approach to a book, other than Gilead.

Until next time,

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

The Nightingale. (Mindscape Reviews!)

Hi Readers! I have finally finished Kristin Hannah’s ‘The Nightingale’ & I loved it! In the beginning I had to strain my eyes because the font in the book was tiny. But, as soon as I got used to it, I finished it about 3 days or so. Everyone who told me that this was an amazing book, I need to say a BIG THANK YOU to them! It indeed was! Just like when I started ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, I knew I’d like it a few pages in, this was the same.


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a historical fiction novel set in the WWII telling us the story of two sisters – Vianne & Isabelle. There are two story lines. First one is during the war, which is 95 % of the book, set from 1939 to 1945. The other is in 1995, 50 years after the second world war, where we see an old woman who has survived the war. Is it Vianne? Is it Isabelle? You will only know at the end. Both the story lines are written so amazingly well. There are many people whose lives we see getting affected because of the war. We see how every person reacts in a different way; some to survive, some to fight back, some to right their wrongs, some following orders & some to just live another day. Every person in this novel, no matter what part they decided to play, have shown that bravery can be a hundred different things. There is not only one correct way, there are hundred correct ways.


Vianne Mauriac is a resident of Carriveau, France, who lives in a nice house with her husband Antoine & daughter Sophie. She teaches at a school along with her best friend of fifteen years, Rachel. Initially, Vianne is just another traditional woman who keeps to herself, her family & lives her life happily. She has never lived alone & so when Antoine gets called in to fight, she becomes another woman. She does what is necessary for her & her daughter’s survival. In her own way, she transforms into someone exceptional.

Isabelle Rossignol is Vianne’s younger sister. From her childhood, she has always been shunned by those close to her. First her mother dies, then her father leaves her & then her sister leaves her. She has never been loved by anyone. And maybe this is just one of the minor reasons she decides to join the Resistance & fight back against the Nazis. She is not afraid of anything & jumps head on in a situation without much thought. She is rebellious & impetuous at times too, but always so incredibly heroic. This amazing balance between the sisters is lovely to read.

Another character is Captain Beck. A German who stays at Vianne’s home during the war. I really liked this character’s portrayal. How human he was made to be. Even though he was in the enemy group, time & again, he saved Vianne’s life by giving her information that could have cost him gravely.

Rachel de Champlain lives next door to Vianne. She is married to Marc, has a daughter Sarah & a new-born son Ari. Rachel is another woman of incredible emotional strength. Just like Vianne’s husband, her husband also gets called in to fight. Not as wealthy as Vianne, she keeps going for her two children.


I have rated the Nightingale at 4/5 on Goodreads. I really loved Kristin Hannah’s writing in this novel. She has written such an incredible story with an amazing character arc for ALL THE CHARACTERS while stating how bravery is defined differently for every person & leaving no loose ends. When you get into such kind of novels, you expect death of main characters & yet the way she has beautifully drawn out everything toward the end is simply an artist’s perfection.

We can predict a few things to happen, but when we get to it, they hit differently. Some of the adventurous incidents are written with such detail & imagination that will have you hold your breath. Some are so miserable that you will cry. There is so much reality in this book which gives us such a clear idea of how the war was like. The book has so many things in it; purpose, hope, defeat, survival, love, courage & so much more.

There are a few parts which were not to my liking. But, if I mention them here, they will be spoilers, so just this once, I will keep the critics to myself. I will say this. If you like ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, you will like ‘The Nightingale’. They are nothing alike, but they are stories of purpose & hope & love. Reading each book was rewarding in its own way. And, if you love historical fiction, this will definitely take the win. If it helps, this novel has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction in 2015!

I hope you liked this review enough for you to take this book up for reading! Let me know your thoughts! Another review for Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead will be up soon!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Currently Reading!

Hi Readers! I have been busy with work these past couple of weeks, which is why I have had less time to read. I just realised today that I haven’t posted in a while & so I thought I would update you! Work is just one of the reasons for my slow reading. Another major factor is because I am currently reading FIVE BOOKS! This is why it is taking so long.

It is such a weird time. Summers are not ending as I am expectantly awaiting monsoons. The ease of lockdown seems nonsensical. I have baked so many cakes that I am now nauseated by the thought of it. There are all these reasons to put me off & this is mainly why I am reading five books at the same time. I have always been moody, more so now. And, I really need a book that matches my mood. Reading five at a time works perfectly well with my changing moods! So, even if the progress is slow, I am enjoying it! And, anyway, my target is 52 books this year & I have already read 31 books, so I am way ahead of schedule!

Check out the books I am reading! The ones I love! The ones I hate! And the ones I tolerate!



I will finish this one first of this lot. Not because it is good, but because I need to be done with it. This is the first Pulitzer Prize winner which I have absolutely found mundane. It is also the first War era books that I have not enjoyed at all. I am halfway done with it & I am going to finish this just so I won’t need to look at it again!


The Nightingale is the most amazing so far, from this list. I have only read it a bit. But, from that, I know it is going to be good. This is another historical fiction novel based in the WWII period. The only problem is that the font in the book is very tiny which makes it painful & gives me a headache. If it weren’t for that, I would have already finished it.


I recently finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince leaving me with the last book of the series. Even though I know what is going to happen & even though I am re-reading it, I just want it to last longer. I am definitely going to take my time to mull this one over.


I only started this one yesterday. It felt like the right book to read given all the injustice happening around in the world. It has five or so chapters with 3 sub-chapters. These are stories of women. I have only finished reading the first sub-chapter & I am glued to it. The narrative is really different from most books & quite captivating. I look forward to reading the rest!


Lastly, Becoming by Michelle Obama! I started this last year & yet I am only 50 pages in! I have watched Michelle Obama’s talks & read her articles & really found them inspiring. Why I am unable to make any progress with the autobiography is beyond me! I have decided to read at least one chapter every day, which is going poorly as well. But, one of these days, I will complete reading this glorious book!


So, that’s all for now! I will come back with a book review soon! What are you all currently reading? I hope only amazing books!!

PS: You can always check out what books I am currently reading on the left banner of my Goodreads Reading pile!!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The Dutch House. (Mindscape Reviews)

Hi Readers! I recently read ‘The Dutch House’ by Ann Patchett. Now, this book is rated at 4.17/5 on Goodreads. Also, it is recommended in every article that gives stellar book recommendations. It is historical fiction post WWII. The author Ann Pachett’s books are always bestsellers. All these four criteria are as best as it can come. I need all these areas to decide if I should buy or read a book. And yet, despite checking all these areas, ‘The Dutch House’ was a disappointment. Here’s the autopsy.



The Dutch House is the story of two siblings Maeve & Danny Conroy written across five decades. We see a distant mother who leaves them when they both are still kids. We see an absent father who keeps to himself. We see Fluffy, the nanny; Sandy, the housekeeper & Jocelyn, the cook. All three of them are more parents to them than their real parents.

To brief it, Maeve & Danny grow up in the Dutch House. It becomes the House from which their mother leaves. It becomes the House in which Andrea, their stepmother comes in with two of her children. It becomes the house from which Andrea throws out Maeve & Danny when their father dies. And ever since then, it becomes a part of them. Even after twenty years, Maeve & Danny meet to have deep conversations while sitting in a car in front to the House, re-visiting their past time & again.


The narrator in the story is Danny Conroy, which was such a poor choice. Throughout the novel, Danny comes off as self-absorbed, irrational, ambitionless & to a certain extent just so mortal. He claims he is writing the novel for his sister Maeve who is the only person he has. But, ironically, he only tells his own life tale, ignoring Maeve completely. He talks about his education & how he became a doctor & then stopped being a doctor. He talks about his marriage to Celeste. He talks about his kids, May & Kevin. He mesmerises his love for his absent father. Danny Conroy is as drag as a character as they come.

Maeve Conroy deserved better. In her childhood, we see how much of a brilliant character she could have been. She is brilliant, tall & intimidating. The author built so much scope for Maeve and never ended up using it. There are no efforts taken on her character! She studies maths, becomes an accountant & then work at a frozen vegetable shop forever. She has no relationships to such an extent that we don’t even know sexual identity! She is on the cover page of the book & yet she isn’t even the highlight of the novel because we got Danny mansplaining everything in a crude manner. That really bugged me. Apart from being overshadowed by Danny, she is also overshadowed by her mother (Elna Conroy.)

As for their mother, Elna Conroy, such a poorly portrayed character. If the author wanted to show her as a saint, she has failed miserably. Elna is the most pathetic character in the novel. Sometimes, I feel she is worse than their absent father, Cyril Conroy. Cyril, though absent toward his children, did little things for them. He took a divorce from an unstable wife who hated the Dutch House. He married someone who loved the Dutch House. He mentored Danny in the real estate business in a very subtle manner. In his own way, he was the good enough attempt in the story.

As for the title of the novel, there were so few things surrounding the Dutch House. There could have been a lot of scope on that as well.


To be completely honest, reading this novel felt like reading a very dull first draft from an amateur debut novelist. We have a deluded robot of a narrator, reprehensible characters which we cannot get in the mindset of, dull story line & predictable end; all of which make a complete disappointment to the historical fiction genre. When I read it halfway, I knew it would not get better, because it was just so plain & dull to read. I think the author tried to make an impression with the Bildungsroman attempt of writing, but it has failed for me. Now that I read the book, here I am thinking, what was the point of it?

Was it about not being stuck in the past?

Was it standing up for yourself?

Was it about forgiveness?

Was it about maturity?

Was it about hope?

Because if it were any of this, the opposite of it has happened in the book.

This time I did a lot of research before actually buying the books & now one out of five has already failed me. I rated this book at 2/5 on Goodreads. Here’s to hoping the rest do better! If you have read & liked this book, please tell me what is it you liked in the comments below!

Until next time,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...