Book Reviews

Book Review- Turtles All The Way Down- John Green

Synopsis from Goodreads: It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

What I thought about it:

Plot: This is yet another beautifully written book by John Green. With parts of humour, emotion and neardy content perfectly sprinkled across the book, this story forms for a very interesting read. Initially, the plot was a little slow and I took a little time to get into it. However, I still found it to be throughly enjoyable. My only issue with this plot is that although, a lot of people have told it to be very realistic, I felt that some parts of it were a too little farfetched for a story entering teenagers. I like that the characters were shown to be independent and capable of making their own decisions. However, as a teenager, it is not just about how you are. There is an entire world around you. You will not have parents who will just let their children take money from people. You will also not have children left to the care of housekeepers when the parent is declared missing. I honestly don’t see that as something realistic. But apart from that, I just loved the way that the story was written.

Characters: I LOVED the characters. Each character in the story, had their uniqueness. They were all beautifully crafted and were so well rounded. Even characters like Aza’s mother or Davis’ brother Noah or the groundskeeper- Lyle, all of them were unique and were important to the story in one way or another. I believe that a lot of work went into building each of these characters. I loved Aza’s character. All her struggles and her fears just make the character feel so real. Daisy, Aza’s best friend is my next favourite character. She brings life and humour throughout the story.

Description of mental illness: The theme of mental illness- anxiety and OCD runs throughout this book. Aza is shown to be a character who suffers from OCD and anxiety and I feel like it was a beautiful and honest depiction of the same. As someone who has battled with anxiety and obsessive thought for a very long time now, I could connect to this book instantly. There were some parts where we see Aza’s struggle and it was just too much for me to bear. I was also listening to the audiobook and these parts were particularly difficult and disturbing for me. I think all in all it was very well represented. I have heard that Green himself suffers from OCD and I think the depiction in the book was so brutally honest only because of that. It shows that it has been written by somebody who has lived through it.

My Rating: 4/5

I loved it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to read a YA book on anxiety and OCD. A truly amazing read.

What are your opinions about the book? Do let me know in the comments

diary entry

The day I really noticed her…

It was a different for her today. I could see it in her gait. She was happy, cheerful even- long time since I had seen her like that. Seeing her smiling and laughing out loud made me wonder if there was something else in her head, or rather her heart, that she was supressing. I bumped into her on purpose, not once but one too many times that day, only to make sure she was okay. Of course she didn’t recognize me. After all, I came alive while she slept. The first time I ran into her, I looked right into her eyes and saw a twinkle in them. That is when I knew it was real. That is also when I knew that the happiness was both contagious and intoxicating . So I kept colliding into her in an attempt to catch a glimpse of that rare happiness.

I paid her a lot of attention today, but nothing compared to the allure of watching the wheels of her mind reel as she watched the play.

I saw the nervous smile and the desperate attempt to keep a conversation going with her friend as she walked in to watch the play. Because I knew her so well, I wouldn’t hesitate to make any kind of inference about what she felt. I live inside her head after all! One could also say she feels what she does because of me. So if she says none of this is true, do not believe her. She does that very often.

So there she was, fidgeting with her phone and hoping she had camouflaged enough into the audience. That’s when the play began. Well not the play, but the introduction to the play. The man in the front called it the “forum play”. In that split of a moment I saw a jolt of curiosity rise in those eyes. They had still not dimmed from the exhaustion of the day. It was like, she wanted to drink in all that the world could offer about a genre like that.

The play began. So did the slight tremble. The nervousness was no longer about being in a crowd. It seemed to go well beyond all of that. She seemed generally uneasy with everything that was going on around her. Despite never experiencing something like that, the terror of a fragile relationship, the noise of things falling apart had always scared her. It made her uncomfortable. The nails of her left palm dug into her hands as she nervously kept trying to operate her phone with the other hand. Well, this might be the time to probably say, “Kudos, to the actors !!! If you can make her so uncomfortable, you have done your job well. ”
The play ended and the her hands unclenched. She put on the facade that she had perfected over time- the vein on her temple bulged up reminding her it was over. That was her defence mechanism. But before she could compose herself, the next play began. It was called “The mask”. She looked up, with a sense of familiarity. The work, ‘mask’ seemed to unveil something in her. In spite of knowing her the best, I could not place a finger on the causality of her angst.

And then the play began. And within a few minutes she began the fidgeting again. This time it was like she didn’t want to know what was happening while still being completely aware of her environment. Something seemed to upset her more than the previous play. It was as if she was going through it all. I wanted to put her out of the unease. I even tried telling her to walk out. But she couldn’t. She always reasoned herself from getting out of difficult situations and that is where my ability to take care of her always ended. She attempted to keep the unease to herself. But her emotions slipped out of her like a the water from a pregnant river on a rainy, stormy night. Her friend noticed her discomfort and asked her to walk out. But she couldn’t. While it made her uncomfortable to watch the same scene over and over, mesmerized with awe she looked on at how people who intervened not only enacted what they thought was a better course to the play but they also seemed to mirror their actions had they been confronted by something similar. The childlike curiosity had taken over yet again.
Once things were wrapped up, the twinkle in her eyes returned. But it was no longer a like a wild red flame. It had tamed into a blue smouldering.

I followed her back home to see how long the liveliness in her eyes would stay alive. But she didn’t let it die until she gave into her drowsiness. While back home, she seemed to get lost in a non sensical banter with her friends. It was fascinating that such teasing and laughing with friends brought her alive.

I wish she was more gregarious. But let’s not be very ambitious!! As she lied down and gave into sleep, I sat by her and wondered what was really processing in that head of hers as she oh so readily confided in me how she felt. I wished she put it out in the open more often. And as this thought crossed me, I saw a sneaky thought pass that drowsy head. Seemed like she had a plan to express herself and it seemed like I would play an important part in it too.

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My 2020 TBR list

2019 just flew past and I feel like I am still running to catch up with the new year. With 2019, being a bad reading year, I am hoping to do better this year. I am also very bad at sticking to lists but there are a few books that I really have been meaning to get to in the past few years. So I think it will do me good to put down some of those so that I can get to it at least this year. So here is the list of the books that I wish to get to this year:

  1. If I Die Today- Shashi Deshpande
  2. The Midnight’s Children- Salman Rushdie
  3. The Lunar Chronicles- Marissa Meyer
  4. Six of Crows Series- Leigh Bardugo
  5. Shades of Magic Series- V.E. Schwab
  6. The Wrath and the Dawn- Renee Ahdieh
  7. The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
  8. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
  9. When Dimple Met Rishi- Sandhya Menon
  10. Passenger- Alexandra Bracken
  11. Circe- Madeline Miller
  12. The Night Circus- Erin Morgenstern
  13. Children of Blood and Bone- Tomi Adeyemi

So here it goes! I hope I am able to read at least 5 of the 13 books mentioned above. How do you guys read? Are you impulsive or do you stick to lists?

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New Year! Yet another new start

Hello Everyone!

I am Sanjana and this is my first post here. I have been wanting to start a blog about my love for reading and writing in almost forever. This post has been in the drafts since July of 2017. But I guess the the fear of failure makes you put away things for two and a half years. So, in all the time that I have had, I have been motivated, nervous and demotivated so many times that I decided that the only way to get out of this vicious cycle is to snap out of it and begin writing. So here I am. I am still wrestling with the thoughts of messing up miserably, but I think I will give it a try anyway.

I started off 2019 by wanting to read 70 books through the year. Honestly, it has not been a great year, reading wise.  I managed to read about 28 books and the following are the best of the books that I read this year:

1. Everything is Figureoutable- Marie Forleo

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This was the most recent book that I finished in 2019. I had listened to the audiobook and it was just plain amazing.  I never thought that I could ever be so hooked to a non fiction. What struck me the most about this book was how beautifully it was written. Very quickly, I forgot that I was listening to a book. It just seemed like I was just talking to a friend. I was obsessed with this from the very first line. I started listening to in on my way to work one day and listened to it throughout the day at work. If you are looking for a book with great advice that is written beautifully, this is it! You will not be able to put it down until you finish it. I believe that this post is also a result of the book!

Favorite quote: “You can do whatever you set your mind to if you just roll up your sleeves, get in there, and do it. Everything is figureoutable.”

2. Becoming- Michelle Obama

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Michelle Obama is indisputably one of the most inspiring women we all know. This was the first audiobook I listened to this year. Having had the entire world watch their lives from afar for eight years, this book is a beautifully written window into their lives. Written so candidly, she recounts her childhood, her education, socio-cultural and political experiences in the country as she grew up, how politics became a part of her life and her journey through losing her father and becoming a mother herself. This book never feels long and makes for a delightful read.

Favorite quote: “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result.”

3. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from someone who’s been there – Cheryl  Strayed
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This is a collection of the best columns published by Cheryl Strayed as Dear Sugar. This is again one of those books that gives you amazing advice without sounding preachy. I remember making a long face when my friend first gifted this book to me. ” Just give it a try!”, she said. “You’ll like it”.  I was still skeptical. But when I finally did start reading it, I was pleasantly surprised. The responses that Sugar provides are just beautiful and personalized that it makes for a really great read.
Favorite quote: “There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.”
“Be fearless enough to let love transform you.”
4. Eliza and Her Monsters- Francesca Zappia
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Eliza Mirk is a shy awkward girl in the real world, but she is also the popular creator of  Monstrous Sea- the webcomic that she has created anonymously. She is an introvert who doesn’t have any friends at school. But in the online word, she is Lady Constellation, the creator of a famous webcomic. She then meets Wallace. Wallace is himself a great fan- fiction writer of Monstrous Sea. Eliza and Wallace get to know and become closer to each other. As Eliza contemplates about revealing her identity as Lady Constellation to Wallace, her secret is accidentally shared with the world.
This book had it all. As a person who has been suffering from anxiety for a very long time now, I think this book does a great job of depicting it. I found Eliza’s character highly relatable, although she did make me want to scream at her during some parts of the story. My only issue was that it took me a long time to get into and actually finish this book.  However, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to read a young-adult,  contemporary book about mental health in general.
Favorite quotes:  “My point is we ascribe value to the things we care most about, but sometimes we don’t stop long enough to take a look at the bigger picture” 
“You found me in a constellation.”
5. The Palace of Illusions- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
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I grew up to the stories of Mahabharata. However, all the stories usually were about the male heroes of the story.  Numerous tales exist giving us an insight into each of those characters. However, this book is different because of the reimagination of the character of Panchali. We see an entirely new perspective to the character otherwise known for her valor and beauty.  Since we have all heard the same story innumerable times, it might take you a while to get used to seeing Panchali in a whole new light. Towards the end of the book, I had mixed feelings about her character. While I grew to be fond of her, she also made me frustrated and in some instances outright despise her. However, I think this is what made me really like the book. Chitra successfully humanizes the character of Panchali by depicting her, not as an epitome of purity, valour or beauty, but as a a human with faults and blemishes. It successfully challenges your perception of the great war and all the characters in it. It is a book for anyone looking for a historical or mythological retelling.
6. One of Us is Lying- Karen M McManus
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Five students walk into detention one afternoon and one of them dies. It is soon revealed that he was killed and each of the remaining students had motive. I got hooked onto this book right from the very first page. McManus does a great job of building the story and creating the suspense throughout the book. Even if you might end up solving the mystery long before the book is complete, you will still be addicted to the captivating writing in this book. I agree that this is not one o of the best mysteries that there is, however, it does a great job in  mapping the events and building the scene. One of the main reasons that I loved this book was that it was narrated in different POVs, and I really adore those.
There you go! These were the best books that I read in 2019. It really was not a great year for reading. I read a lot of books that I didn’t want to and was hence in a very long reading slump. However, with the New Year right round the corner, I have decided to set my target of reading about 75 books in the coming year.  Do share with me below, any advice on how to get over a reading slump and what you get through them.