Tuesday, 26 January 2021

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Book Review!

Hi Readers! I sure as hell did not think I would be back so soon with another review, but what can I say? Madeline Miller has become one of my favourite authors! You all already know how much I enjoyed reading Circe & this weekend I finally read The Song of Achilles. And, OH MY GOD! No matter what I would have read about the book, nothing could possibly live up to the expectations of how truly amazing it is. Madeline Miller has made me love Mythological Fiction & I will always look forward to reading all the books she writes.


Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.


We have our protagonist – Patroclus. You cannot help but connect with him & picture  him as your friend. Starting from worrying about fitting in with others to dedicating himself to his love to fighting a war for his love, every single thing Patroclus has done in this book, is something we all have, in a more mortal or human sense. He is the underdog who is okay with being so, as long as he is with Achilles. He is someone who knows how to understand people in a deep sense. I loved his character throughout the novel. Usually, I would have found Patroclus & Achilles’ relationship to be a bit co-dependent, but I am not going there. I am not the one to fall for love stories, but oh this one got me right in the heart, which is why this post is entirely from my heart as well!

Oh, Achilles, what can I say about him? I don’t know why but I always pictured Achilles as Timothée Chalamet. From his boyhood, Achilles always comes off as the man who knows how strong & great he is. Undoubtedly, he has amazing skill in fighting. There’s always a charm & confidence in everything that he does, at least that’s how I was able to picture it. Given his stature, he always stood up for Patroclus, first as a friend & later on as a lover.

While reading this story, I felt utterly charmed by Achilles & felt like a friend of Patroclus’s. It’s like I was the person Patroclus talked about Achilles to & then we both had dreamy talks about him. The mixture of romance with war always leaves me heavy hearted. This time it also left me completely speechless.



I am glad that I read Circe before I read The Song of Achilles, because this one is way superior to it. Similar to Circe’s story writing, this novel also has a fast-paced rhythm to it, which only makes it all the more interesting. Madeline Miller’s writing is so lyrical & poetic during the romance aspects of the story; thundering & inspiring during the action aspects of the story; and it is miraculous throughout. Because of these wondrous combinations, the story comes alive in the reader’s mind making it so personal that all you can do is go with the flow & live it with all the characters. Very few times I must have felt the emotions that I felt when I read The Song of Achilles. And, all of the credit goes to the impeccable writing style.


I must say that I haven’t read a book with so many factions to it. Historical fiction itself has sub-sub genres to it, at times, but 4 factions in one book is downright an achievement. I love reading Historical Fiction, as you all know. But, I am not a fan of Mythological fiction or romance or action genres. But, when all these came together, the result was something out of this world.

As much as I enjoyed reading those early flirtatious moments between Achilles & Patroclus, I also enjoyed reading about how everyone fought against the Trojans. As much as I loved reading about the times on Mount Pelion, I enjoyed reading Achilles’ stay at Scyros. There was literally never a dull moment. It’s one adventure after the other and it is an eventful journey till the end.


The brilliance of this novel is such that the sentences that made you laugh earlier become the death of you later. Those of who have read the novel, know exactly what I am talking about. You read through the romance from their boyish crushes growing into young men training in war & medicine. You see them supporting each other through all of that character development. We see Patroclus becoming more mature and more in touch with himself. We also see Achilles becoming more skilled but also more in touch to the prophecy leading to his proud ego.

While reading the story, I always thought that Patroclus will somehow play an indirect part in Achilles’ death & I was incredibly sad when I read about it eventually. Even if I knew it was coming, it was such a gut-wrenching pain while actually reading through the ending. Nevertheless, the poignance in it made the story all the more devastatingly beautiful.

I have rated Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’ at 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads. If you haven’t read it yet, you must!

Until next time,

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah Book Review!

Hi Readers! I am finally here with my first book review for the year! This is actually the 4th book I read this year. I didn’t really feel like reviewing the others, but I had to write a book review for Firefly Lane! This is the third Kristin Hannah book I read & naturally I liked it. I had wanted to read more of Kristin Hannah's books. Since Katherine Heigl & Sarah Chalke are starring in the Firefly Lane series on Netflix, I had to read the book before the series is out on 8th Feb! Finally, I read it & here are my overpouring thoughts!


From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.


As I said before, it is very difficult to collect all my thoughts about Firefly Lane. There are so many amazing things in it, but also a few things that don’t quite fit. I wanted to LOVE this book, but because of these many little wrong things, I just couldn’t take the leap.

It’s a remarkable story, yes, but what is the story even? It’s a roller-coaster story of a friendship, but was that even friendship in the first place? It’s the story of how two women choose different life paths, but is it even about feminism if those paths are so unrealistically extreme? It’s a story with an eventual betrayal in friendship, but why doesn’t it feel like the most horrible heartbreak it is meant to be? It’s a story spanned across 30 years, but does it even count for it? I think for every amazing thing in this book, there is a counter-productive thing that doesn’t quite make it amazing as a whole.


Starting with all the good points, I loved all the feels in the book. Be it the heartfelt moments where Kate & Tully promise to be best friends forever or the heartbreaking moments of arguments between Kate & her daughter Marah. Be it the dilemma moments for Tully to side with Kate or Marah. Be it the constant sexual tension moments with Tully & Johnny. Be it the inferior complex moments Kate felt with Tully. Even if you might not have lived these moments yourself, they somehow become so real, that you always end up connecting with the characters over those emotions.

With Kristin Hannah, it is always this way. Her writing is so powerful that, no matter how different the characters might be, you always connect with them. Be it a secret soldier in the World War or a wife in an abusive relationship literally living isolated from the world or a mother so exhausted she forgot to live for herself. I’m sure if Kristin Hannah were to write about a psychopathic person living the life of a Social Media Influencer with millions of followers but all this person wants is to secretly murder people & drink their blood, I’m sure I’d find some way of connecting with that person. All hail Kristin Hannah!


When I first started reading the book, I thought, “This will be a light read. A cute story about a 30-year long friendship!” But, I was so wrong. There are so many hidden lessons in it that you have to work to figure them out. I loved how Kate & Tully chose two different paths. Tully follows her ambition & makes it big in the news world. Kate follows her heart, falls in love & devotes herself to her family. It’s amazing how the challenges, sacrifices & rewards of both these journeys are written for Kate & Tully.

What I found ironic was how extreme this was. Yes, Tully becomes famous & has her own Talk Show, but she has NO ONE to love in her life except for the Mularkeys & the Ryans. And, Kate becomes so engrossed in motherhood, knitting, bake sales & such that she COMEPLETLEY abandons her dream of becoming a writer. I mean, in the real world it is not this extreme. Women can achieve their dreams & have a family. Secondly, even after reaching the height of success in their individual paths, they both always seem to be ‘missing something’ in life. I think this part about them ‘missing something’ had entirely an opposite effect to the feminism angle in the book. It could have all been pieced together better is all I think.

Lastly, we also understand about Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I have watched Grey’s Anatomy for the past 10+ years, so I had heard of this, but turns out not many women are aware of this type of breast cancer. It is all the more scary because its symptoms are not similar to those of breast cancer, such as lumps etc. I think it is important to research a bit about it & read it for all our own sakes.


Let’s talk about the apparently remarkable story of friendship, shall we?

When it comes to friendships in books & movies, I always have something of a sixth sense to actually evaluate them from a real perspective. The only friendship story to which I opened my heart & closed my eyes to was for Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’. It’s the single most flawless story of friendship & every time I think about it, it makes me want to bawl my eyes out. Then there are friendships in other books that never quite hit the peak, which I experienced to be true in Firefly Lane.

Tully is the quintessential extrovert who adopted introvert Kate into friendship. I think this was why Kate was still the shy & geeky girl even when she was a 30-year-old woman. Tully, on the other hand, was always bitchy & considered herself superior to Kate. Because of Tully’s issues with her mother, she never quite became a grown-up either. She was always that 10-year-old girl waiting for her mother’s approval even when she was a 30-year-old woman. Both Tully & Kate never grew up, which I feel was an important factor in why they stayed best friends for over 30 years! There is absolutely no character development. For a character-driven novel, it does not have much character growth. Kate remains the underdog & always goes back to Tully. And, Tully with her proud ego never apologises because she know Kate will come crawling back to her. Tully’s bitchiness & over-bearing nature matches exactly with Kate’s spinelessness & mousy nature which is the behind-the-scenes highlight of this apparently remarkable story of friendship.

I have been in enough friendships & also seen enough friendships to know the difference between friends & enablers & just loneliness making you do things you don’t really want to do.


Like with every other novel, I always judge the predictability of the story along with the complexity of it. Firefly Lane does not fare well on either of these aspects. Tully & Kate’s friendship is shown to be rock solid, that you can always sense there is a big fight coming. It is mentioned in the Goodreads blurb, but I hadn’t read it earlier, so I was kind of on the edge of my seat waiting for the big fight. And when it actually happened, I was disappointed. Even though it was heartbreaking for Tully & Kate, as a reader it did not feel heartbreaking to me. Many of their earlier fights had more weightage than the one that actually broke their friendship.

Apart from this, there always seemed to be a tension between Tully & Johnny. It was such a relief that their separation was not because of Johnny, as it felt almost too predictable.

Given the length of the book, I knew there would be another disaster on the way. And in most cases, it is always with death, especially in the case of an estranged friendship. I would’ve been far happier if it were Tully rather than Kate, but I think a part of me knew it would be Kate.

Now for the simplicity of the story. While reading the book, it comes off as entirely simple. Nothing special or extraordinary about it. Given all the clichés in the novel, I am surprised I enjoyed the reading experience.


For a person who gave 4/5 stars to Firefly Lane, I sure had my problems with it. But, these problems cropped up after actually reading the book. It was a fun, albeit emotionally wrecking journey to read the book, basis which I have based my rating. And when I started thinking on it, I realized how it was not what it seemed to be. Did any of you feel this way about the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

January Book Haul!


Hi Readers! How is you reading going this year? I found out that there’s a movie adaptation of Firefly Lane coming on Netflix, and so I had to read Kristin Hannah’s book before that. This is how my January haul kind of started. But, I ended up reading Firefly Lane on e-book, because the book’s delivery was after the movie release date! Anyway, I am just looking for literally any excuse to buy & hoard books!

These books have been on my TBR since forever. So, obviously no regrets! I haven’t exactly planned on which to read first. Check out the Goodreads blurb & rating! I will read these & post a book review soon, I hope.



Goodreads Rating: 3.56/5

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 352

Award: Book Prize (2018)

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences



Goodreads Rating: 4.04/5

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 373

Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction & for Debut Novel (2020)

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.



Goodreads Rating: 4.07/5

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 336

Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2020)

From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.

A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile, and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea shows Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.



Goodreads Rating: 4.09/5

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 382

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?


Goodreads Rating: 4.09/5

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 312

Award: Booker Prize Nominee (2019)

An intensely powerful new novel from the best-selling author of The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour

'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'



Goodreads Rating: 3.84/5

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 368

Award: Orange Prize Nominee for Longlist (2008)

From one of Turkey’s most acclaimed and outspoken writers, a novel about the tangled histories of two families.

In her second novel written in English, Elif Shafak confronts her country’s violent past in a vivid and colorful tale set in both Turkey and the United States. At its center is the “bastard” of the title, Asya, a nineteen-year-old woman who loves Johnny Cash and the French Existentialists, and the four sisters of the Kazanci family who all live together in an extended household in Istanbul: Zehila, the zestful, headstrong youngest sister who runs a tattoo parlor and is Asya’s mother; Banu, who has newly discovered herself as a clairvoyant; Cevriye, a widowed high school teacher; and Feride, a hypochondriac obsessed with impending disaster. Their one estranged brother lives in Arizona with his wife and her Armenian daughter, Armanoush. When Armanoush secretly flies to Istanbul in search of her identity, she finds the Kazanci sisters and becomes fast friends with Asya. A secret is uncovered that links the two families and ties them to the 1915 Armenian deportations and massacres. Full of vigorous, unforgettable female characters, The Bastard of Istanbul is a bold, powerful tale that will confirm Shafak as a rising star of international fiction.



Goodreads Rating: 4.04/5

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 496

Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2019)

Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.



Goodreads Rating: 4.25/5

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 432

Award: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2017)

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


The irony is, despite buying so many books, I have only read on my e-book this month. I am going to try really hard to read the unread books on my bookshelf before reading e-books! Have you read any of these books? Any suggestions on which I should read first? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Award Winning Books of 2020!

Hi Readers! You all have already read the 75 books I read last year. 
I thought I will write something more about books! As you all know, I read a lot of prize-winning books. They are guaranteed to be good in most cases & that leave little scope for disappointment. So, I thought of doing a compilation of all the major Book Awards of 2020! I always find myself going online and finding this list from different websites time & time again. How amazing would it be to have them all in one place?

I have included the most prestigious & major book awards here. This includes Nobel Prize for Literature, Pulitzer Prize Award, Booker Prize Award, Women’s Prize for Fiction Award, JCB Prize for Literature Award, British Book Awards, Walter Scott Prize, Goodreads Choice Award. Now, all of these have categories & if I follow that, it will be a big list so I am going to mention the award-winning books in the categories of Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Autobiography. For others, there is a plain longlist, shortlist & the winner. For these I will only skip the longlist. There are about 20+ 2020 Book Award winners in this post & also few more books that made it to the Shortlist! I hope you find this post to be useful in finding your next book to read!


The Award that needs no introduction is of course the Nobel Prize for Literature! This year Louise Glück won The Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2020 "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal." She is an American poet and essayist. After this news came up, I naturally did some research for her top poetry books. These include-

The Wild Iris


Faithful and Virtuous Night


The First Four Books of Poems




I have always trusted books that are Pulitzer Prize winners. They almost never disappoint & are always gripping & leave you fascinated! Check out the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners!

Fiction: The Nickel Boys by ColsonWhitehead

Biography: Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser

Poetry: The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Non-Fiction: The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin

The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care by Anne Boyer, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides & Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler.


The Pulitzer Prize winners that I have loved so far are The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I also have a few Pulitzer Prize winning books on my TBR like Less by Andrew Sean Greer, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.



Similar to The Pulitzer Prize, I have also always trusted The Booker Prize winners. In this, there aren’t genres, because mainly there are fiction novels. They share a Longlist of books followed by a Shortlist & then finally the winner! To have more recommendations for you, I have also added the books on the shortlist for The Booker Prize for 2020!

Winner: Shuggie Bain by Stuart Douglas


The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Though I haven’t actually read any of the Booker Prize winners, I have a lot of them on my TBR. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, Milkman by Anna Burns are few books that I plan to read very soon.



Of course I am going to mention the most amazing literary award that is Women’s Prize for Fiction! This Award dates back to 1996, which I think is simply fabulous. It has a pattern similar to The Booker Prize, so check out the winner & the shortlist below!

Winner: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell


Dominicana by Angie Cruz

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

Weather by Jenny Offill

Again, the books on my TBR which are Women’s Prize for Fiction winner are The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I definitely need to add more to this list!



The JCB Prize for Literature is a much more recent Award than the other on the list. It’s mainly an India-based Award which started their journey since 2018. Check out the 2020 JCB Prize Winner followed by the shortlist!

Winner: Moustache, S Hareesh, translated from the Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil


Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu

These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light by Dharini Bhaskar

Prelude to a Riot by Annie Zaidi

I read the 2019 JCB Prize winner which was Madhuri Vijay’s The Far Field, which I did not like. But, here’s to reading brilliant Indian literature!



I did a bit of research before writing this, so that I will have a compilation of all the best Book Awards in one place. I stumbled across this gem during this research. Given that I love British literature, I am going to make it a point to always check for the British Book Award winners! Check out the winners below across different categories.

Author of the Year: Bernardine Evaristo

Book of the Year: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Fiction Book of the Year: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Crime & Thriller Book of the Year: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Non-Fiction: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo



While doing my research on prize winning books, I also stumbled on The Walter Scott Prize. And, the best part is this Prize is entirely dedicated to Historical Fiction! Also, a lot of the book are based in wartime. It’s what I have been looking for & I am always going to read The Walter Scott Prize winner every year. This mind-blowing British Literary Award was founded in 2010, giving me 10 amazing historical fiction book recommendations! They also have a winner & a shortlist which you can check out below.


Winner: The Narrow Land Christine Dwyer Hickey


Isabella Hammad, The Parisian

James Meek, To Calais, In Ordinary Time

Joseph O'Connor, Shadowplay

Tim Pears, The Redeemed

Marguerite Poland, A Sin Of Omission



Last but never the least one is our collective favourite – Goodreads Choice Awards! Let’s be honest. We are all obsessed with Goodreads, so naturally we are all also obsessed with Goodreads Choice Awards. I am sure you have already seen the winners in this category, which is why I have included only my favourite genres. You can check out the remaining genre winners here!

Fiction: The Midnight Library by MattHaig

Mystery & Thriller: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Historical Fiction: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Autobiography: A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Non-Fiction: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Poetry: Dearly: Poems by Margaret Atwood


To be honest, I am super proud of myself to compile this list, because it is definitely going to make things easier for me & I hope for you too. If you love this post, I will make this an annual feature or also compile 2019 & 2018 Award winners! Let me know if you want me to add any more awards to this list. Always happy to expand my wisdom when it comes to books!

Until next time,

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