Just Read

17 Dec

The Storied Life Of AJ Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin

I think expectation spoiled this book for me. I kept reading about this book on every book blog that I read, all wonderful things. I wasn’t sure about whether this book was for me the few times I came across it in bookstores, but wanted to read it all the same because of the sheer number of good reviews it had received. I downloaded it on my Kindle recently and read it in a couple of days, ending up disappointed with it.

The Storied Life Of AJ Fikry is, as the name suggests, the story of AJ Fikry, a youngish bookstore owner who is a bit weird. He has recently lost his beloved wife and is sinking into a life of despair and nothingness. One fine day, he finds a little girl, Maya, in his bookstore, left in his care by her mother. The book goes on to narrate how AJ Fikry deals with this unexpected finding.

The storyline was simple and very much realistic, well narrated too. Most of the characters are good-hearted and likeable – and I think that was my problem with the book – most everyone was too saccharine sweet. AJ Fikry is a book lover, and I loved the way he thought of the various books he read throughout his lifetime and the ones that he sold. I think every book lover would be able to relate to those parts.

I was expecting the book to be mind-blowing, but it turned out overly simple. I was, kind of, underwhelmed with the book, if you know what I mean. It wasn’t a bad read per se, but it wasn’t great for me either. Judging by the number of people who have loved this book to bits, I would say, maybe, it is just me who feels that way.

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage – Molly Wizenberg

This turned out to be yet another book that was spoiled for me by expectation. Two disappointments in a row, sigh!

I loved, loved, loved Molly Wizenberg’s debut book, A Homemade Life, and can’t stop recommending it to people. I think it is a great foodie memoir, written with a lot of warmth, one that I was able to completely relate to. As soon as I knew the author’s second book – Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage – was out, I wanted to get my hands on it. I found a great deal on Amazon for the book recently and immediately downloaded it, much in glee. Sadly, it disappointed me to no end.

Delancey is the story of how the author and her husband, Brandon, went on to open a restaurant and how their life changed after that. I had expected the warmth and love that reflected in A Homemade Life, but this book fell extremely short of that. The narration of the story seems lifeless, without any kind of passion or love. There were some descriptions of food that were beautifully done, I must say, and those were the only parts of the book worth reading. Food is what this author writes about best, according to me.

I am not sure if I am the only person who felt this way about Delancey, though. So, if you have read and loved A Homemade Life, maybe you would like to give this one a try too and see for yourself?

Have you read any or both of these books? What were your thoughts about it/them?

What are you reading these days?

Ramblings of a confused mother

16 Dec

It has been almost two months of being a mother, and I am still often clueless about whether my child’s tummy is full or not. Feeding issues have been a part and parcel of the journey of motherhood for me, right from the start.

Many a time, after I feed Bubboo, I am struck with a doubt as to whether she has had enough or not. On rare occasions, after a feed, she is happy and gurgly, leaving me in no doubts about the satisfaction of her hunger. At other times, she lets out little screams every now and then, often quietened by cuddling or the changing of her diaper. At some other times, she is quiet for a while after a feed but then starts crying inconsolably, only to be satisfied by the giving of more milk.

All of this has been a harrowing experience for me. More often than not, I end up wishing I could know exactly how much milk has gone into her tummy, while breastfeeding.

The confused and frustrated mother in me has this question – The system of reproduction is complicated enough. Why did God have to make such a complicated feeding structure for babies, on top of that? Why can’t there be a light somewhere on a baby, which turns green when she is hungry and turns red when she is full?

I tell this to the OH, and I am greeted with bouts of uncontrollable laughter. Poor me, no?

Any Ideas?

15 Dec

Would any of you have any ideas about this?

Waiting to hear from you guys!

Top New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

10 Dec

2014 was not a great year for me in terms of reading. I did read a fair amount of books this year, but did not experiment much in terms of genre or writers. I discovered a few new authors, though, and hope to read more by them in the next year.

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I present to you the top new authors I read in the year 2014, in no particular order of preference.

1. Madhur Jaffrey

This year, I read Madhur Jaffrey’s memoir about her growing-up days in Delhi, Climbing The Mango Trees: A Memoir Of A Childhood In India, and quite enjoyed the experience. It is a charming book, full of nostalgia and droolworthy descriptions of the food that the author grew up eating.

I would love to read more by the author, but all I could find were cookbooks written by her. No more memoirs or foodie fiction.

2. Molly Wizenberg

I loved the author’s debut book, A Homemade Life: Stories And Recipes From My Kitchen Table, and absolutely loved it. In fact, it was one of my most favourite books for this year. Such a beautiful foodie memoir, something I could absolutely relate with.

I am looking forward to reading her second book, Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. I have already downloaded it on my Kindle.

3. Erica Bauermeister

I loved the first book that I read by this author, The School Of Essential Ingredients. The prose was beautiful, the characters very real, the storyline compelling, and there were loads of gorgeous descriptions about food in the book.

I would definitely love to read more books by her.

4. Jeanne Ray

I recently read Jeanne Ray’s Julie And Romeo, and liked the book quite a lot. The author’s writing style is crisp and witty, and the book made for a lovely light read.

The author has written a few other books as well, and I am definitely going to lay my hands on them soon.

5. Pamela Timms

Pamela Timms’s Korma, Kheer & Kismet was such a delightful read, I didn’t want the book to end at all. I loved how the author brought to life the small shops that you find in the narrow alleyways of Old Delhi, and the many flavours that she discovered there. The imagery was vivid, and I could see everything I read about as if it were happening right in front of me.

I don’t think the author has written any more books apart from this one. If she does, though, I would be more than happy to read them.

6. Lucy Knisley

I loved Lucy Knisley’s Relish, the very first graphic novel that I read. It is a memoir about the author’s growing-up days, told in the form of beautiful, very apt graphics.

I would like to get my hands on the other graphic novels by the author. Apparently, she has written a few more.

7. Nirupama Subramanian

Nirupama Subramanian’s debut novel, Keep The Change, was quite an enjoyable light read for me. The story was no great shakes, but I liked the way it was written. Very down-to-earth, very realistic, a lot of fun.

I am eager to read her second book as well, which is called Intermission.

8. Shoba Narayan

Reading Shoba Narayan’s foodie memoir Monsoon Diary was an absolute treat for me. I loved her descriptions about the types of food that she grew up eating, her family, and the important events in her life.

I would definitely like to read her other book, Return To India: An Immigrant Memoir.

9. Nicky Pellegrino

I discovered Nicky Pellegrino’s books this year too. I liked the first book by her that I read, Delicious, though I wouldn’t include it among the best chick-lit books I have read. In spite of its flaws, the book did have its own charms.

The author has written quite a few other books, which I am eager to discover.

10. Sophie Blackall

Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall was one of the most unique books that I read this year. With its real-life romances and beautiful illustrations, it made for a very interesting read. The book is a collector’s item, as I said in my earlier review on the blog.

I wasn’t able to find any more books written by the author, but I would definitely go for them, if there were any.

Who were the top new authors you discovered in 2014? I would love to hear all about them!

The Latest Addition…

9 Dec

…. to this list of baap-beti conversations is a story about a Jersey cow.

Apparently, Appa has ordered a Jersey cow on Amazon, so that Bubboo can get lots of milk at any time of the day or night. Amazon has dispatched the cow and it is due to arrive any time at a bus station near us. From there on, the cow will be put into a local bus, which will bring it to our doorstep. The plan is to tie up the cow in the parking lot of our apartment and to tie a hammock between its legs, so that Bubboo can lie down comfortably and directly suck in milk from the cow any time.

Every day, on Appa’s return from work, there are questions to Bubboo as to whether the Jersey cow arrived or not. Traffic jams, logistical delays and so on are invented to explain why the cow is not home yet. Payment has been made in full, though, through credit card.

What imagination, I say! I don’t think I stand one bit of a chance in telling such stories. :(

PS: Why don’t you stop by my photo blog and say hello to the latest addition on Bubboo’s crib?

Are Any Of You…

4 Dec

… as paranoid about identity theft and information misuse as me?

I wasn’t, till I read about it in Joanne Harris’s The Lollipop Shoes. Till then, I hadn’t even thought of the concept. Now, it is scary to think about the fact that someone can get to know everything about you from your garbage can, from the papers that you throw away so recklessly. For instance, a discarded courier receipt can give so many details about you to an interested party – your name, where you shop from, your phone number, your address, etc. etc. etc. After the book, I started paying careful attention to the paper that I trashed. I began shredding the papers that could divulge details about us before throwing it in the recycling bin. The OH also started doing the same, after I told him what I had read.

These days, we order a lot of stuff online. Clothes for Bubboo, bed protectors, books, diapers and so on. Some things are cheaper than their MRP when bought online, we have discovered – how we don’t understand. Anyway, all this online buying business does generate a lot of trash. I go through each carton we receive carefully, shred the necessary labels and papers before I discard them.

Better be safe than sorry, me thinks. What is your take on this?

Just Read

3 Dec

Keep The Change – Nirupama Subramanian

Keep The Change is the story of B. Damayanthi, who feels trapped in her average life as a middle-class Tam-Brahm, a resident of Amman Kovil Street, and as a small-time employee at an accounting firm. What’s more, she hates her name too – it is so very non-glamorous, just like her. All Damayanthi wants to do is get out of the rut, be admired and appreciated, and find a dream lover. When she finds a job at First Global Bank in Mumbai and moves out of the constraining atmosphere of her home in Chennai, she has the perfect opportunity to begin living the life she has always dreamt about. But will she? You have to read the book to find that out!

I had an enjoyable experience reading this book, which happens to be the author’s debut. It is a light, fun read, full of very Indian English. Humorous and witty, the book is no great literature, but the storyline is something most girls will definitely be able to relate to. Damayanthi’s story is narrated through letters from her to her friend Victoria aka Vic, who apparently is super sexy and lives a charmed life in London.

What I liked the most about the book is that Damayanthi is not dumb. She is the average girl next door, with her own fears and dreams, not the beautiful do-no-wrong heroine straight out of a Mills & Boon novel. She has a brain which very much works, and she has her heart in the right place. Her story is very much ground in reality, and is not something most of us can only imagine.

My recommendation? Go for it, if you are looking for something breezy and yet not entirely brainless to read.

Julie And Romeo – Jeanne Ray

I discovered Jeanne Ray thanks to this post of Sangitha’s, and I am so very glad I did. Her Julie And Romeo was an absolute delight to read. Now, I am eager to read more by this author, and she has indeed written a few more books.

Julie And Romeo is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet’s story. It is the story of two florists, Julie Roseman and Romeo Cacciamani. The Rosemans and the Cacciamanis have been arch rivals for generations together, and no one can really remember how the feud started. Moreover, the fact that both families are in the business of flowers inevitably puts them at loggerheads with each other. One fine day, Julie and Romeo, both in their 60s, run into each other at a business conference, and… fall in love! This is, naturally, unacceptable to both families, their respective children included. Will the family feud prevent Julie and Romeo from getting together or will their love endure? That is what the book is all about.

The book is very well written, full of wit and humour. Though there are a number of very movie-like and unrealistic scenarios, Julie And Romeo makes for a fun and very entertaining read. I kept thinking, throughout my reading of the book, that it would make a lovely Bollywood movie, albeit a through-and-through entertainer.

Grab a copy soon. Recommended, if you are looking for a light, not-too-serious read and don’t mind a bit of deviation from real life.

Something From Tiffany’s – Melissa Hill

Gary and his girlfriend Rachel, as well as Ethan and his girlfriend Vanessa, are two different couples vacationing in New York at Christmas time. Both men decide to buy Christmas presents for their girls from Tiffany’s, but two very different things – Gary buys a silver charm bracelet for Rachel, while Ethan buys a whopper of a diamond ring, intending to propose to Vanessa when she opens her present. However, fate has other plans for them. Gary and Ethan bump into each other on the street, and their Tiffany’s bags are accidentally exchanged. What will happen when Vanessa discovers the charm bracelet in her parcel and Rachel the diamond ring in hers? That is what Something From Tiffany’s is all about.

I picked up the book thinking the premise was quite interesting, but I was downright disappointed. I can do with some deviation from reality in my books, but this storyline was utterly dumb. Totally unacceptable. The book is extremely long-winded and seemed to go on and on and on. I struggled to finish it, because I wanted to find out how it all ended.

Recommended? Not at all.

On Goodbyes

2 Dec

When I was newly married, my mother-in-law would urge me to go out of the house, till the front gate, to bid goodbye to the OH every morning as he left for work. ‘I used to send him off every morning so far. Now that you have come, you continue the tradition,’ she would say. My mother-in-law believes that her sons and daughter and daughters-in-law have to face the complexities of the world as soon as they get out of the four secure walls of the home, and so they should be sent off properly every morning. The OH does travel a very long distance for work, too, and hearing his accounts of the things he sees on the way to and from work, I am inclined to agree with my mother-in-law.

Anyway, I used to feel very awkward bidding goodbye to my new husband. We used to live in a ground-floor house then, and the neighbours, sitting around and basking in the sun, would be looking on. I was the new daughter-in-law in the neighbourhood, after all. I would feel extremely embarrassed. Till the day I began feeling that it was an extremely romantic ritual, a beautiful tradition that I should always continue. I began to send the OH off with a huge smile on my face, a cheerful greeting and a wave. He would leave with a smile on his face, too.

I am happy to say we continued this tradition even after the OH and I shifted to our own apartment. Every morning, irrespective of what I would be doing, I would step out onto the balcony of our house when the OH would leave. He would look up from the apartment gate, smile, and we would exchange silent goodbyes. I would smile back and mentally wish him all the very best for the day. I would feel like something was missing on the rare days I could not follow this ritual.

After Bubboo’s birth, the balcony goodbyes have been dwindling. I am either feeding Bubboo or changing her when the OH leaves or she is crying her heart out then. Otherwise, it is way too cold to bring her out to the balcony. We have taken to saying our goodbyes in the house itself, with the OH planting kisses on Bubboo’s and my forehead before he leaves. On most days, Bubboo’s kiss is followed by a lot of cooing and more kisses and cuddles, till the OH realises that he is going to be marked absent at work if he doesn’t leave immediately. Then follows a mad dash on his part, and I tell him to drive carefully.

I am eager to see the day when Bubboo will wave her Papa off to work from the balcony of our house, with me looking on. Or will she cry and refuse to let him go?

December Photo A Day Challenge

1 Dec

I have taken up Fat Mum Slim’s Photo A Day Challenge a couple of times before, and have quite enjoyed the experience. When the list for this December’s Challenge was out, I couldn’t resist. The themes were interesting and I needed an excuse to get back to routine life again. So, guys, I am in the challenge this time.

Please do visit my photo blog every day this month and show some love there! :)

Delivery Ke After Effects

28 Nov

Post delivery, some things have been happening regularly.

Some 10 people ask me about the state of my breasts and whether I am lactating enough, almost every day.

At least five people ask me why I am walking when I try to get out of my house for a breather.

Even if I step out onto my balcony for a few minutes, there are at least three neighbours asking me why I am standing in the cold wind.

My house help asks me every day why I don’t have a cloth tightly tied around my stomach or a scarf around my head.

Every day, at least five people advise me on how I should be sitting and standing and lying down.

There are at least five other people who inquire after the kind of diet I am on, every day.

The problem with these recommendations is that most of them are conflicting with each other. Some are delivered with an ‘You evil mommy, you! You don’t do what is best for your baby!’ look.

Dealing with all of this is more difficult than it was dealing with the pregnancy and the delivery. :) In the midst of this madness, I am trying my best to go with my gut feeling and to do what feels right to me.

One good thing that has happened from all these suggestions and advice is that I have discovered ‘Antu Unde‘, a Kannadiga delicacy that is, apparently, a must in the diet of new mothers.

This is one bit of advice I haven’t minded receiving, for the laddoos are extremely delicious.

If you are a new mother yourself, please do get yourself some of these unde. Well, get some even if you aren’t a new mother. They are lovely!

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