From my bookshelf – November’18. The story of a “supposed” spy.

From my bookshelf – November’18. The story of a “supposed” spy.


Mata Hari, by Paulo Coelho, is the story of a woman way ahead of her times. She was convicted for spying during the 1st World War, but, from the story she wrote about herself when in custody, she comes across as someone who was falsely labelled a SPY for the sole reason that she did not conform to the rules of the society she lived in.

Frankly, I did not know her story would grab me by my shoulders and take me away to a world back in the 1800s and leave me feeling awestruck!

In her own words, she was a woman born in the wrong times and wished the world to remember her as a woman who lived with courage and paid the price for doing so.

Raped by her school principal when she was sixteen, abused by her husband whom she married to leave her world and move to Indonesia to live a better life, she learnt how sex and love were not related to each other, at all. Had it not been for a dance performance she saw one evening, her life would have continued to be the nightmare that it was ever since she married.

It was in France, where she moved after separating from her husband, that she found an audience for her exotic dances which were bold and seductive. She claimed it was her own dance style that she had actually witnessed on one of her tours around Indonesia.

Wanting to earn money to live a good life as her husband had stopped sending her any, she became a courtesan and then the exotic dancer who left the audience awestruck. Her dances were crude versions of the original Java dances. She wore a flesh coloured body stocking which gave an impression that she danced in the nude. Her provocative style of dancing brought her much acclaim wherever she performed.

During World War 1, she met and fell in love with a Russian pilot. When he was wounded in a fight with the Germans, she wished to meet him in the hospital where he was staying. But, the French agents made a deal, that she would meet her lover only if she spied on Germany.

They also later offered her an impressive amount of money if she continued spying–an amount that she felt would help her lead a lavish lifestyle that she had grown used to. Sadly, she did not receive any money, but was arrested while travelling from Spain.

She was executed by a firing squad for playing the role of a spy, but, according to her, it was because she lived her life on her own terms, refused to bow down before the norms of her society, that she met with such an end.

I really liked reading the book and finished it in two days. A page-turner, it gave me a glimpse of the times from all those years ago– not very different from what we see today–with rules laid down by men to be followed by women who are expected to stay “within limits” and get labelled “immoral” if they dare to live life on their own terms!

Have you read ‘The Spy’? If you have, how did you like it?

Do share with me what you felt about the story of Mata Hari–the woman…



Was she really a spy?

From my bookshelf, October’18 — The story of a little boy.

From my bookshelf, October’18 — The story of a little boy.


Wonder, the book by R. J. Palacio, is about Auggie–August Pullman–a fifth grader, who suffers from the Treacher Collins Syndrome. It’s a medical condition that has left his face disfigured. Having being homeschooled by his mother, Auggie now has to join the Beecher Middle School so as to experience the real world.

Auggie has an elder sister–Olivia– an extremely caring sister who understands that her brother needs all the attention of their parents, more than she does.

At the new school, there are children who are petrified by his face, but there are also some, like Summer, who look beyond the disfigurement, at a child who is not only adorable, but also very articulate and intelligent.

Wonder is Auggie’s story, of how, despite being so against joining a school, ends up enjoying school life, making new friends and winning everyone’s heart.

What I loved about the book:

Everything about the book just stole my heart! RIght from the first word, I fell in love with the story and with Auggie, as well as the other characters in the story.

His parents, who care about their son, put his insecurities about the school to rest and are open to his opting out of the school if he finds it uncomfortable. It can be such a tight rope walk for parents with children who need their constant attention due to some medical condition. Giving equal attention to their children can be a tough thing to achieve.  Auggie’s parents do their best to give their all to both their kids so that they bloom into beautiful individuals.

His sister, Olivia, or Via, as she is called, knows and understands how her brother needs all the attention because of his condition. A girl who treats her brother like a normal child and is, yet, very protective about him. It can be a really difficult situation, having a sibling with special needs and with the focus being on them, the other child is sure to feel left out. In spite of it, I liked how Via takes it all with a smile and learns from Life. The perfect little elder sister.

Auggie’s friends, especially Summer, a child whose caring heart never differentiates between Auggie and the other kids at school. She becomes his best friend right on the first day of school and could, actually, teach us adults a thing or two about accepting people as they are and not judging them on the basis of their appearance.

Oh, and Mr. Lawrence Tushman, the director at Beecher Prep. He welcomes Auggie into the school and makes sure he feels at ease in the new surroundings with the help of three of his classmates. We could do with more teachers like him–caring, understanding and with a clear conscience; whose only intention is to help mould their students into wonderful human beings.

And, how could I forget, Daisy–Auggie’s pet dog, who loves her human brother, but, sadly, dies in the story. Her death made me weep like I did when I lost my Chikoo.



There are some quotes in the story that grab our attention and urge us to look within and ask ourselves if we are being the kind of humans we were meant to be.

Courage. Kindness, Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.

Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.

It is not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.

And, this one, Auggie’s precept:

Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world!

So, be kinder than is necessary, and remember to be a friend….a true friend.

I am sure you will love this book. Our children could do with such stories of kindness and courage in today’s world where appearances are given more importance and instant gratification is the way of life.

Next on my list is, to watch the film!



From my bookshelf, August’18 – Books by women writers.

From my bookshelf, August’18 – Books by women writers.

Okay, first things first. I know “women writers” is, oh, so politically incorrect! But, frankly, I feel so so proud reading books by writers who are women!  And being a woman, I know what it is that they think, feel, and experience in order to give us some of the best literary creations. And, thus, the “women writers“. I hope you can sense the feeling of pride in my tone.

So, this month, I read two wonderful books by women writers–one suggested by my friend, Ramya Abhinand in her blog – ‘The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, by Kavita Kane, and the other, a gift by my friend, Shalini Baisiwala –  ‘The Colour Master’, by Aimee Bender.


Affiliate disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you click on the image below and use it to make a purchase. 


The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, by Kavita Kane.


This is the story of queen Satyavati, wife of King Shantanu from the epic, Mahabharata. It was ‘Jaya’, by Devdutt Pattanaik that made me fall in love with the Mahabharata, so when I read Ramya’s post on this book, I decided I just had to read it!

It is the story of the rise of Satyavati from poverty to royalty, her struggle to make a place for herself in the hearts of her subjects and her desperation for an heir to rule her beloved Hastinapur.

Kavita Kane has brought Satyavati alive through her description. Satyavati’s abhorrence for the life she leads as a fisherman’s adopted daughter, surrounded by filth and stink; her yearning to rise above her poverty and her dreams of acquiring the throne, for which she is ready to use her beauty, her body.

I liked how the author has sketched Satyavati’s portrait as a dark-skinned, voluptuous beauty who awakens lust in every man who lays eyes on her. The love scenes did feel a bit out of place–rather, more Mills & Boon kind. But, I will ignore all of it because of the narration, the treatment of the story and, yes, for Bhishma–my favourite character from the epic.

The story is of people’s aspirations to achieve it all in life, dream vivid dreams for their future, make grand plans that are so against nature and then watch them all crumble to the ground. You can sense  Satyavati’s agony at Life slipping away from her hands as she loses her two sons; your heart goes out to Bhishma who, for the sake of his father, vows to remain celibate all his Life and crush his happiness for the happiness of others. Your heart just goes out to these characters–be they good or bad.

They were humans, after all, and despite being so powerful, they suffered as a result of their decisions, their choices and expectations. Human foibles have been so well portrayed in this story. It’s relieving knowing they were just like us!



Just like every other book on the mythology, I couldn’t put this book down till I finished reading it. So, I will give it 4.5 stars. The love-making scenes and the very slow progress in the latter part of the book take away that half star. Otherwise, it’s a book I enjoyed reading as much as ‘Karna’s Wife‘, by the same author.

Do read the book, if you haven’t already, and let me know how you liked it!


The Colour Master, by Aimee Bender


When Shalini asked me which book I wished to read from her collection, I picked this book, for its uniqueness and its quirky stories. Shalini had done a post on this book as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and that’s where I read about it.

For starters, the writing is really really unlike any that you might come across. Well, I did find it unique, in that, it has this element of fantasy that I hadn’t come across ever since I read my last ‘childhood’ story! There’s magic in every story, if I could put it that way. The characters in each story come across as people from real life, looking for love, companionship, seeking pleasure through sex…a lot like the real world, but with a strangeness found only in imagination–the kind that is far removed from the real world!

It is a collection of short stories that are a mixture of emotions: humour, sorrow, intrigue, too. Most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the title story–The Colour Master–the story of a woman who recreates colours from nature and uses those to dye the clothes of royalty. Be it a dress that resembles a moon, or a sun or a newly bloomed rose, or even the sky.

The story just transported me to that fantasy world where the artist brought clothes to life. I won’t even be able to express what I read and what I felt for lack of the right words. The story just needs to be read to be enjoyed. The powerful imagination of the author translates into the stories that take us to a land far away from the ordinary world we live in.

There were a couple of stories that failed to evoke an interest in me, no offence meant. I failed to grasp the meaning behind their magic, I guess.


I would give a 5 for the imagination, the vividness in expression..well, to be frank, I really have no right, whatsoever, to rate such a magical book. Have you read it? Do give it a try.




From my bookshelf, July ’18 – Sudha Murty special.

From my bookshelf, July ’18 – Sudha Murty special.

This month began with a book I had bought for my 8yo nephew. A book on tales from the Mahabharata. He didn’t show the kind of enthusiasm for the book that I was hoping he would. Of course, it’s wrong on my part to expect such a thing from him. He prefers general knowledge to fiction.

So, the book was sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time when I decided to give it the attention it deserved. And, what should I say? I loved every story in there!

The Serpent’s Revenge. Unusual Tales from the Mahabharata, by Sudha Murty.

A beautiful book with tales that you may never have heard, unless narrated by your grandparents, or parents. Tales from the Mahabharata about characters other than the main ones. Tales that are bound to fascinate the young and the old, alike.

I always enjoyed listening to stories as a child. Mother would regale us with stories from her vast repertoire every night. And, I remember, we would never be satisfied with one story. We would always plead for “Just one more!” before we went off to sleep.

This book by Sudha Murty satisfied the curious child in me with stories that are fascinating, entertaining as well as enlightening.  I relived those childhood moments of our ‘story-time’ that hold a special place in my heart to this day.

The book is a page turner, with short stories about characters from the epic with names that can be tongue twisting, at times, and with tales that can be mind-boggling!

The curses and the boons that were put on people at every instance amused me, frankly. However, these being just stories–fiction and not real–were considered the best way to instil in people the virtue of goodness. Good deeds were rewarded with boons and wrong ones with curses that lasted a life time. So, “Do good”–that’s the message this book brings for us all.

And, at the centre of it all, is our favourite deity–the mischievous, but loveable, Lord Krishna. The kind and compassionate One who guides His children through every obstacle Life brings.

Do read this lovely book. I assure you  time well spent. Moreover, you will have a treasure trove of stories for your little ones. An unputdownable book, I finished reading it in three days. And, so will you, I am sure!


Three thousand stitches, is also by Sudha Murty.


This book is a collection of true stories from Mrs. Murty’s life.  Stories from her youth, her work for the Infosys foundation, her travel and her life have been shared in this book.

I love the way she writes–with simplicity, clarity and a warmth that every story exudes. The characters are from our world–people from every strata of society– who touched her life, shared their experiences with her and also gave back the love she showered on them through her foundation.

Not every story ends on an emotional note, but it did leave me misty-eyed at places where the actions or the words by the characters struck a chord or left me overwhelmed.

Be it the story of the Devdasi community from Karnataka, or the one with the two snobbish women Mrs. Murty met at an airport. Or, the story of how Mrs. Murty was the only female student at the engineering college she enrolled herself in with the support of her father when all others discouraged her to do so, or even the one about the biggest entertainment industry in the world–the Hindi film industry–every story left me spellbound.

The realness of the characters was brought alive by Mrs Murty’s fluid language each one of us can relate to.  The narration of every story felt more like a conversation I was having with her–the kind I really enjoy, when the writer expresses in such a way, you feel them sitting by your side, regaling you with tales from their life!

Right from the first story, Mrs Murty had me glued to the book. I so wished she had included some more such heart-warming stories about people from the real world; people we, too, come across, but rarely spare a second to understand or interact with.

Do pick it up, in fact, I would suggest picking up both these books and all the others by Mrs. Murty.  It will be an enriching experience, indeed!


Which books by the author have you read? Do share.





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B – Books and Book Reviews. #AtoZ

B – Books and Book Reviews. #AtoZ


Books are a uniquely portable magic!”

_Stephen King.

Isn’t it true?

You open a book and begin reading the words carefully put together by the writer and you are transported to a  world where live people leading lives you might never, or, you wish you could.

Books, for many of us, give the relief we need as we face the vagaries of Life.  For some, they are the best friends who make their need for people redundant.

But, apart from it all, books are the best teachers we could ever have. And, being writers, the need to read books can never be discounted.

Some of my favourite books are from the fiction genre, especially suspense/ thrillers. In non-fiction, I  like the real-life inspirational stories, like the ones by Dr.Brian Weiss, and Anita Moorjani.  And, it’s these non-fiction ones that have inspired me while writing my posts.

I love mythological ones, too! Jaya, by Devdutt Pattanaik,  for instance. And, some historical stories, as well. No romance, or chick-lit for me, though. Guess, I have passed that age where we know what Love is all about!

I was a voracious reader earlier,  but then, Life took over and reading became a luxury I could hardly afford. So, it was only after I began writing that I realised how important it is to read; read so that you improve your writing,  and develop your craft, rectify your syntax errors and learn the magic formula required to grab a reader’s attention.


Book reviews happened by chance. Couple years ago, motivational speaker, Priya Kumar had her book release. She approached many a blogger to review her book and publish the review on their respective blogs. I was one of those bloggers, too. It felt wonderful being requested to do the review by her, but daunting, as well.

Never having done a book review, I had to first learn the art of reviewing books and writing an honest, impartial review. Sentiments cannot be hurt, and yet you need to put across your views about the book – whether it is good, likable, or read-at-your-own-risk kind.

There are a few book reviewers whom I follow closely. Bloggers who have carved an identity for themselves reviewing books, and from whom I learned a lot.

So, if you wish to learn what book reviewing is all about, do visit these blogs. Just reading the different genres they have reviewed will give you a fair idea of how to go about it.

There are also some blogging communities that offer books for reviews. If you wish to try your hand at it, do visit these sites and register there to receive books. Do follow the rules they have laid out for book reviewing.

Book reviewers I admire:

Shantala Nayak

Tulika Singh

Anamika Agnihotri

Mithila Menezes

Lata Sunil

Ramya Abhinand


Things to remember for book reviewing:


Read the book, thoroughly.  Of course, that’s understood!

However, try not to skip the parts that seem tedious.

Write an honest review.

Never trash the book, especially if it’s a début work, and do not praise it to the skies, either. 

And remember, not all might agree with your view of the book. So, do give reasons for the criticism, as well as the commendation. 

Take care not to reveal the end!

And, if there is something you wish to disclose, mention “spoiler alert”!


That’s it.

If reading is a hobby, then sharing reviews of books you enjoy reading is one of the best things to share on your blog!




If reading is your hobby, reviewing a book is the best thing to do on your blog!


April 2018 A to Z blogging Challenge


My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge is all about my blog, Metanoia, and my blogging journey from the time  I started, 5 years ago. The lessons I learnt, the tips and tricks I picked up from fellow bloggers and the guidelines I could have used back when I began. 

You will find all of my A to Z posts here.