Two DNFs later | The Book Update

Monday, August 8, 2016

It's been four weeks since my last update and I wish I could say that I read a ton! But, sadly, I barely read for two of those four weeks, and of the books I did read, I DNF'd one and am on the way to DNF-ing another. Let's talk about that first DNF - Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. I had a worry that this book was not going to work for me. Still, I wanted to give it a try and see what the whole hype was about. I think I lasted about 15% of the book before giving up on it. The suspense was there, but to me, the book was so badly written that I couldn't make myself read any more of it. I had so much trouble with the author's sexual objectification of women, all the many stereotypes (hey, are you 50+ and unmarried? Then I think you are a cat-lady too.), and the strew of words that were in this book just to up the word count but not to really add anything to the story. And then, when Meg shared the ending with me on Litsy, I totally cringed. At that point, I just didn't want to read it.

Finished reading


It already feels like it has been a long time since I finished reading The Handmaid's Tale, but it wasn't that long ago. Although it took me a while to get into it, it turned out to be so amazing and hard to put down. Atwood definitely has that slowly-growing-on-you effect. I was worried when I started the book that I was going to dislike it but by the end of it, I loved the book (and Atwood) so much that I now can't wait to read more of her books.

You Are a Badass - short story, I loved it. It could have done with a lot less repetition, but it was quick, it was very relevant, and it was also a very conversational book.

I finished the Harry Potter play last week. It was so good to be back in that world but it was not the same thing really. For one, reading a play is not fun - I'm sure it's more fun to watch it. For the most part, this book just reminded me how much older I am than when I was reading the first seven books - it almost feels like a generation passed by.

Currently reading


I started reading Underground Airlines last week, after nearly DNF'ing Smoke. I've only read one book by Winters so far but he is an author I want to read more. Underground Airlines imagines a USA that did not go through the Civil War. There are four states still practicing it, and what's worse, the states that don't do slavery, however, do enforce some level of discrimination. Plus, it is considered illegal to allow anyone to escape slavery. So far, this book is very thought-provoking. As for Smoke, I love the writing but I can't say the same for the concept or the pacing. It's excruciatingly slow-moving in plot, so I have put it aside for now. If I am still curious about it after I finish Underground Airlines, I will go back to it.

In the car, I'm listening to Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. This is my first time with her and I love it so far. Why did it take me so long to read her books?

What's Next?

I still have Karan Bajaj's The Yoga of Max's Discontent to read - this happens to be a print book which is why I still haven't started it. My reading almost entirely consists of ebooks, though I did manage to read the new Harry Potter book in print. Other than that, I want to go back to some backlist reading, or at least read without a plan. I still have a few ARCs to read but I'm considering pausing that. What has been your favorite book so far? Maybe I can find some ideas there.

Post-Party Edition | This Week's Five

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hello Internet? It's me, Athira. It's been a very long time since my last post. Two weeks, if we're keeping track. The first week was all about the birthday party. The week after had to do with recovering from the party. I don't really know if I'm back yet, but I'll try.

1. The Party

Speaking of, the party went very well. We had a few friends and family come from far - Boston, Miami, Raleigh, and DC, so it was exciting to see everyone. Shreya, of course, decided that she didn't want to nap in the morning, which meant that she got increasingly grumpy as the day wore on. However, she humored us when it was time for the cake. So the T-time went fabulously. It was honestly a long tiring day but we finished the day with coffee at a local shop and some much needed foot massage.


2. Swimming

Today we went for our first family swim session with Shreya. It was fun! Shreya loves playing in the water and although she was being cautious, she had a ball. Now we just need to figure out how to squeeze this into a regular routine without sacrificing sleep or cooking.

3. Baby Album

I have decided that I want to make a scrapbook for Shreya's first year. That is quite a bold statement for me because I have not done any kind of scrapbooking yet. Nor am I as artistically inclined as I want to be. So we'll see what comes out of this - a genuine scrapbook or an I-Give-Up-I-Made-A-Photo-Album instead.

4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It's finally out. I had pre-ordered my copy at Amazon but decided yesterday that I didn't want to wait for it. So I went to my local B&N and purchased my copy. Then I proceeded to revere it for several minutes and update my social status wherever I talk about books before starting to read it. So far, it's interesting. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a play and not a full fledged novel. I also try to remember that J. K. Rowling didn't actually write it. Point being that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is turning out to be a very different reading experience from the original seven books. And… I sort of miss that.


5. Argh, this weather.

I am so done with the heat. This summer is brutal. I can't even imagine what it's like in the hotter cities. Last week was completely 90+ F over here with this week in the upper 80s. I just hope that we don't lose power for longer than a few hours during any of the freak thunderstorms that have been greeting us in the evenings. What are you doing to stay cool this summer?

Year One | This Week's Five

Sunday, July 17, 2016

1. A one-year old babe

You know how for the first few months of every new year, we keep writing the previous year in all our books, journals, and checks? That's what is happening to me every time someone asks how old Shreya is. On Wednesday, she will turn one. That's a milestone that felt so far away at one time. And it's here already. Her party is going to be next weekend but I will take Wednesday off. Every day of this week, I will likely be in a "This time last year..." mode. (For instance, this day last year, we were at the hospital thinking I was in labor but was really not. However, the next night, it was going to start.)

We still have a lot to do for next week. Stuff to buy, food to order, decor to plan, house to clean. The cake has been ordered, thank goodness. It's fun, doing all this. It also reminds me every day that this girl is growing up... fast!

2. Margaret Atwood

Last night, or rather at midnight, I turned the last page on Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. This is certainly one of the most frightening books I have read; it even changes the meaning of dystopian lit for me. When I read books like The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead, I find the dystopian aspect of the books entertaining rather than something to dread. The Handmaid's Tale however, felt so relevant and plausible that it scared the heck out of me. It didn't help that the book was a timely read. There's so much bad happening in the world today that the news is just bursting with it.

3. When phone apps are rabbit holes

I have a page on my phone that is just for distractions. It started with being a row and a half high but now it's getting crowded. It's where I love hanging out most of the time. I do have another page that is just for reading but since I don't see reading as distraction (rather it's necessary), the reading apps go to that page. On the distraction page, there are two apps in particular that I have been using a lot - Litsy and Pokemon Go. Are you on Litsy? If you are, find me - I'm readingonarainyday there. This is one awesome book app. It could do with some more improvements but it's so easy to get lost in there with all the many bookish posts. It's what I wanted my Tumblr blog to be so I'm glad to have this app. As for Pokemon Go, I'm playing. Slowly. A little at a time. I used to play this game a lot years ago so there's a nostalgia element as well. What I really want to do is go for a walk soon and catch a bunch of Pokemons. Are you playing too?


4. In the Kitchen

I generally go between phases when I want my meals to take care of themselves and when I want to be taking care of them. Right now, it's the latter and it's been so much fun making delicious meals. We recently got a Vitamix and we have been making a lot of smoothies and beverages (lemonade or coffee). I'm trying to cash in on my current culinary enthusiasm so that I can bookmark some quick healthy and easy meals for when I don't have that enthusiasm anymore.


5. Work

My office has started summer hours this month. I did not sign up for it, however, but if I did, I would have got Fridays off (of course, I have to work Mondays to Thursdays to death). This means work gets insanely busy on those four days and then everything quiets down on Friday because most of my colleagues are out. I have to say I like these quiet Fridays.

How is your weekend going?

Finally, a chunkster | The Book Update

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Almost halfway through one of the busiest months, I'm surprised that I am still reading something. It helps that when I'm tired, reading is all I really want to do, even if I generally pass out a couple of pages later. This past week, I finished two books, started three books, and even DNF'd one. I started listening to #Girlboss on Monday and even if it was supposed to be a quick listen, I realized that I couldn't bring myself to care much for the story. When the author starts off with a disclaimer that this is not a feminist book, I pretty much sigh with frustration. Maybe it's not a feminist book, but then you don't have to bring it up, you know? I love reading stories about successful women but I don't like it when those successful women try to shy away from the f-word. You can call it whatever you like, but if you don't like the word, don't bring it up at all. Feminism isn't a bad word and it's high time we stopped viewing it as such. Anyways, moving on...

Finished reading


After a few weeks of reading the same book, I finally finished Britt-Marie Was Here. It typically takes me at least two weeks to finish a decent sized book nowadays. Someday, I would like to graduate from these 250-400 page books to meaty chunksters but I worry that I would be reading said chunkster for months. Britt-Marie Was Here was a fun read, as close to quirky awesomeness as A Man Called Ove and better than My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. Interestingly, this one also had a plethora of philosophical passages, which was a nice touch. As for Saga Vol 6, I wasn't expecting to be able to read it so soon. It was released only last Tuesday and I found that my library got the ebook almost instantly. This is excellent to know because I hope this is true for other comic series volumes too. Saga Vol 6 was just as much fun as the previous volumes (read my review of this series here).

Currently reading


Speaking of chunksters, I am actually reading one at the moment - A Game of Thrones, though we will see for how long. This is my third time starting this book. Yep. The first time, I abandoned after about 20% of the book. (Spoiler: Nothing much had happened in the book by that point.) The second time, I think I read even less - only half that many chapters. This time, I feel a lot more invested - maybe the end of another season of GoT (and a strong one too) has something to do with this. It's going to be another 9(?) months before the TV show comes back and I'm looking to fill it with some GoT fantasy. What I'd really like to do is read another GoT-like series (preferably filled with strong women), so if you have any recommendations, please throw them my way!

In the car, I'm listening to You Are A Badass, after seeing this mentioned on Andi's blog. Yes, self-help again, though truth be told, the chief reason I picked this audiobook was because I was looking for some lifting pep talk. Work is becoming a little too demoralizing lately and I need a little pick-me-up on my drives. The jury is still out on what I think of this one. When I'm not reading A Game of Thrones (one chapter a day), I am thumbing through A Handmaid's Tale. Margaret Atwood is one of the top authors I wish I have already read, so I'm glad to finally get a taste of her writing. I have to say that her books are a little hard to get into though (I had had some trouble with The Blind Assassin in the past), but after about the 20-25% point, I could not put the book down. I had a lot of trouble convincing myself to go to sleep last night.

What's Next?

I am pretty sure these books will keep me occupied for a while, though I may finish A Handmaid's Tale sometime this week. I will likely be looking forward to my pumping sessions so that I can read more of the book. After that, I will be picking up Before the Fall by Noah Hawley or The Yoga of Max's Discontent by Karan Bajaj. I am not very sure I want to read the former - many of the recent reviews have me feeling sure that I will have much the same concerns so we'll see.

Saga by Brian Vaughan

Thursday, July 7, 2016


On first glance, this is a series that only some would consider to be their cup of tea. After all, it involves a complex inter-galactic network of living beings, much like Star Wars, with some characters appearing human while many are not. It is a still-running series, like The Walking Dead and superhero comics, so it requires a different kind of reading - one with lots of waiting, recollecting, and rereading. This is also a series that may need the right mindset before you start it, because sometimes you want to read about humans in a real world, and fantasy just wouldn't cut it.

This is where Saga breaks a lot of conventions. Yes, it involves very fanciful-looking characters. Yes, it is sort of in the space-operatic genre, though it actually is not (bear with me here). Yes, it is fantasy too, which is a genre you either read or don't. But, it is also none of those things. It is not about fanciful characters or space opera or fantasy. It is very much about this world that we live in, especially the one we see today, where xenophobia and racism appear to be on the rise, even though we have made a lot of progress over the past many years.

At this point, I have read all the six volumes (a total of 36 issues) but I won't go too much into what the plot arc is because much of it can be spoilery if you haven't read it. But I want to write more about why I connected with this series and what I thought about it, in general. At the core of this book are three characters - Alana, Marco, and their daughter Hazel. Alana and Marco are not from the same planet. Instead, Alana is from a certain planet called Landfall and Marco is from Landfall's moon. (Translated to Earth-speak, that would be two different countries, see?). These two populations have been at war for so long that nobody even remembers why they are at war. (They have even managed to bring the rest of the galaxy into their war, so everyone has a side in this book.) But one thing that is even unthinkable for the residents of this galaxy is a marriage between the members of these two populations, which is the barrier that Alana and Marco have crossed and have caused many heads of state to put a price on their heads.

Unfortunately, this means that Hazel is viewed with a lot of distaste and is called all sorts of names in this book. The three of them are mostly in hiding but this isn't easy when the entire world is behind you. So along their journey, they meet some very interesting characters (ghosts, talking animals, a cat that can sense if you are lying, bounty hunters), they get separated for years due to circumstances out of their control, they make very unlikely friends, and they learn a lot about humanity (or whatever the equivalent of humanity in a galaxy is).



There was so much to love in this series that I'm going to bullet them below:
  • This series' strongest point is just how relatable it is. Despite all the horned, winged, robot-like, and one-eyed characters, I could easily find a parallel in the real world. It didn't require any suspension of disbelief on my part nor did it require me to extend my imagination to be able to "accept" this world.
  • It's laugh-out-loud hilarious! I am very surprised I didn't get a hernia from all the laughing I did.
  • And also very bookish. Alana loves books and has a total bookgasm when she sees her favorite writer's library. One of my favorite bookish quotes in this book is "anyone who thinks one book has all the answers hasn't read enough books." And that, my friends is why we should continue reading more books, but I digress.
  • Alana is seriously one of the most kick-assy women I have come across in a book. She doesn't let anything come in the way of what's important to her and she had all the energy in the world after birthing a baby. (This may be the only thing so drastically different from reality. I was passed out after my labor.)
  • While we are talking about kick-assy women, Saga has an amazing representation in this cast. There is every kind of person on these pages but it isn't any utopia because there is still a lot of narrow-mindedness. It's not as if just because Character X has been discriminated against, that character is super accepting of other discriminated characters. Just like in the real world.
  • Did I already say relatable? I mean, there was so much I identified with in this book. Especially in Alana and Marco's relationship and interaction. It was so uncanny because my husband and I kept going "That happened to me too".
  • Speaking of the husband, he loved the books too. It is not often that we respond the same way to a book. He is tougher to please and I read less science fiction. But in Saga, we both found a lot to love.
I could go on. But the bottomline is that this series is likely not what you think it is. If fantasy is not your thing, you will still enjoy this series. If fantasy is your thing, you will be surprised how little it is about fantasy in general. If you have already read this series, you will know what I mean.