Tag: reading

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (J.K.Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany).

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

-J.K.Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released back in 2016. I have been meaning to read it for years. I had heard some mixed reviews about this book and didn’t want to ruin in any way my love for the original books and movies. The script of this play was published, in the form of a book. I found the kindle version a few weeks back and thought it was a good time to start reading it.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child mainly follows Harry’s young son Albus as he goes to Hogwarts. He is sorted into Slytherin and befriends Scorpius Malfoy. Albus is not very happy at Hogwarts and feels the weight of Harry’s legacy. He is tensed and feels misunderstood. Harry doesn’t approve of Albus’s friendship with Scorpius as there are rumors about him being Voldemort’s child. Meanwhile, Harry Potter now works at the Ministry of Magic and has to live with his past and its guilt.

The story begins to gain pace when Amos Diggory, visits Harry’s home. Cedric Diggory, Amos’s son was killed by Voldemort because he was with Harry during the Tri-wizard tournament. There is a rumor that the Ministry of Magic has acquired a time-turner that Amos wants Harry to use to save Cedric. He plays on the guilt Harry already feels about Cedric’s death. Harry refuses to validate this rumor. Albus overhears them.

When Albus is leaving for Hogwarts, Harry and Albus get into a big argument and say things in the heat of the moment. Albus runs out of the room. Harry starts having bad dreams soon, and his scar aches. It makes him very restless and worried. Albus and Scorpius dig information about the time-turner and decide to use it to save Cedric. Inadvertently, changing history.

The play is full of magic and adventure that we associate with the Harry Potter series. There is time-travel, and we get to see different alternates to the story we know. Albus and Scorpius have a great friendship even though their parents don’t approve of it. They trust each other. Their actions seem careless but, they are just kids and, they think they are doing the right thing. Harry, Hermoine, and Ron are grown-ups. Their characters have different issues now. It was since getting to know these versions of them.

Albus and Harry share a difficult relationship. Both of them end up miscommunicating with each other. It is realistic in a way, but, at times, can be frustrated because neither of them wants to listen to the other. Albus hates being compared to his father and the weight that Harry’s legacy carries. Being sorted into Slytherin makes him feel alienated from the rest of his family. The themes of friendship, betrayal, trust, and family are at the center of this play that is reminiscent of the world that is already familiar to us.

I think this book as a standalone is pretty good. If compared to the original seven books, it falls a little short but, it is still a good book overall. It is a new adventurous story in a world we already know; some characters we already know so, it is interesting. I enjoyed reading it.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Currently Reading (October ’20).

Currently Reading (October ’20)

My reading list for this month.

  1. Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe.

I have read any books by Sidney Sheldon before so, this will be a first. It is not written by Sheldon, but it is based on his extensive notes. Angel of the Dark is a thriller tale, surprising and suspenseful. I am only a couple of chapters in, and it seems promising and mysterious. I like it so far. Serial killer stories are fascinating if done well.

2. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo.

I have picked another suspense/thriller book. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is a Norwegian novel that is 7th in the Harry Hole series. I haven’t read any of the other books. Hopefully, that won’t be an issue. It focuses on detective Harry Hole as he tries to catch a serial killer. I randomly downloaded this book after reading the description and haven’t started it properly yet. It has an intriguing premise and seems focused on darker aspects too.

3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K.Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany.

This play is based on the original story of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling, Thorne, and Tiffany. The book focuses on Harry’s son, Albus, and the weight he feels about living up to the family legacy. Reading this is nostalgic; it a familiar world. I am only a few chapters in, but so far so good. The way the story progressed is surprising yet not uncharacteristic.  

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Book Review: A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry).

A Fine Balance

-Rohinton Mistry.


A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is set in an unnamed city of India during the period of The Emergency (1975 – 1976). This is the first novel by Rohinton Mistry that I have read. It is a long novel and complicated in terms of its plot, so I don’t think I will be able to summarize it here properly. I’ll try my best to explain the story.

The story focuses on four main characters – Dina, Ishwar, and Omprakash, who are uncle and nephew, and Maneck. The four characters come from different social settings. Dina was born in a well to do family, but after her father’s death, her older mother took her in because her mother was unable to provide for her. Dina’s older brother mistreated her regularly treating her like a burden. She rebels against him when she marries Rustom Dalal and they are happy together until Rustom dies in a car crash three years later.


Dina is determined and spirited enough to fight against the odds. This time she doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone and make her own way by starting her tailoring business. Ishwar and Omprakash are the tailors Dina hires to work for since her eyesight isn’t the best. Ishwar and Omprakash have fled their village to escape from caste violence against them. They want a fresh start in the city, and they get jobs as tailors for Dina. Surprisingly, they meet Maneck, a student from an idyllic hill station who rents a room as a boarder at Dina’s house later on. Maneck’s friend disappeared without a trace which still weighs on him and is the reason he moves away from his college campus housing. Their lives converge with each other, and in times of unrest, they form a solid understanding among each other.

A Fine Balance can’t exactly be classified as a political novel, but the Emergency period setting makes in an underlying theme. The characters come from different backgrounds so, the experience of each of them during this time differs from one another. This gave an insight into a period of unrest and crises from four perspectives which make the story is so realistic. Rohinton Mistry’s writing perfectly captures the essence of Indian culture in terms of his descriptions, and it transports you to those places and time. It touches on practices like the sterilizations, mass detentions, caste, and religious discriminations which were carried out during this time regularly.


The story takes a much darker turn and the true extent of the Government’s practices are exposed. It is hard to read through those parts. The freedoms citizens get that we take for granted; the story shows how horrific and anarchic it can get if these rights are taken away. For each character, the effect of the Emergency varies. Ishwar and Omprakash live in slums which are targeted areas for sterilization and labor camps. It is eluded that Maneck’s friend was an activist, and he was detained by the Government because he opposed, and nothing was heard of him again. Dina’s landlord constantly threatens her with eviction using thugs to do his dirty work.


I was unaware of the intensity and the extent of the effects on people’s lives at this time in the history of the country. The story is grounded, and at any point, doesn’t seem forced or unrealistic. The novel is pretty lengthy, but it is engaging throughout and doesn’t feel dragged on. I liked reading this book though, at times, it got too heavy. It is not something I’ll pick up again anytime soon, but it is one of the best books I have read. It is a must-read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the image above.

Book Review: The Princes (Manohar Malgonkar).

The Princes

– Manohar Malgonkar.

The Princes by Manohar Malgonkar is an Indian fiction novel. The story is set in India during the times of British Colonialism, pre and post-independence era. It is about the survival of the Indian Royals during a time of change in the country.

The protagonist of the story is Abhayraj, the prince of Begwad, who is the only heir of his father. The story begins in the post-independent India but the narration shifts to the past, as Abhay reflects on his life. Abhay is an intelligent kid, and for the most part, he is not prejudiced against anyone or anything. He is taught to be a gentleman from a young age and carry himself a certain way. His father is very demanding of him, and at times it takes a toll on him.

Abhay is the narrator of the story. The story focuses on all aspects of his life. His childhood days, the first girlfriend, joining the army during World War II, his father’s struggle, and his mother’s wish to escape her life. Abhay grows up with all the treasures fit for a prince and is never wanting for anything. It is interesting to read about the character at different points in his life and how the social landscape around him affects his conduct.

The story discusses a lot of problematic aspects prevalent in society then. The inferior treatment of individuals based on caste is seen through the treatment of Kanakchand’s character, who later becomes an activist and politician. The treatment of Abhay’s mother by his father is appalling, and in general, the system of having concubines is considered the norm. Throughout the story, Abhay fights not to turn into his father, but on one occasion he does something cruel and accepts the fact that he is his father’s son after all.

The transition from British Raj to becoming an independent state is not exactly smooth. Especially for the royals, their treasures were taken and their power. Many of them tried to save as much as they could by any means possible. Abhay’s father says that he refuses to be the last king of Begwad and see this chapter of history close. I didn’t know much about dissolving the princely states and making them a part of India as a whole. The transition of this wasn’t easy, and there was resistance, but with a wave of democracy, they had to give in.

The writing paints a picture of the life during those times and I realized how much history I was unaware of regarding this period. Abhay, as the narrator, is pretty reliable though he tries to be objective; it doesn’t work all the time, which might be on purpose. This is the only book by Manohar Malgonkar I have read, and his writing style is intriguing and easy; he doesn’t digress too much. The story set a good pace from the beginning, and it continued throughout the novel.

The Princes is different than I expected it to be. It has a good story with the right amount of historical context to keep you interested. Surprisingly for me, it was also emotional in parts, and you can’t help feeling empathetic towards Abhay. I enjoyed reading this book.

*Get a copy from Amazon by clicking on the image above.

Currently Reading (September ’20)

Currently Reading (September ’20)

The books I plan to read this month.

  1. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is set is an unnamed city of India during the time of The Emergency from 1975. There are four main characters – Dina, Ishvar, and his nephew Omprakash, and Maneck. These characters come from varied backgrounds but develop a solid bond during times of turmoil. Only a couple of chapters in but, the story has a good pace. The historical events are in the centerfold of the story which makes it interesting and grounded.

2. 1984 by George Orwell.

1984 by George Orwell is a dystopian fiction novel. It was written in the 1950’s but is still relevant and relatable. The story is set in the future, in the year 1984, where the world is drastically different than before. I started reading this book a few months back but I never finished it. I don’t know why I stopped; I had liked the part I read. So, I am going to start reading it again this month and finish it.

3. The Princes by Manohar Malgonkar.

The Princes by Manohar Malgonkar is a story about Abhay, a young prince of Begwad. The story focuses on the princely states in India during British colonization and how these states steadily declined as India came closer and eventually became independent. The novel begins in the present but, then shifts from past to present. The way it is written makes it easy to keep track of the story. I am enjoying reading this novel.

Book Review: Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly).

Lilac Girls

– Martha Hall Kelly.

This is a book I have been meaning to read for a while but it wasn’t easy to find. Finally, I read it and it was worth the wait. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is set in the time before, during, and after World War II. The story of this novel is based on a true account of Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York who helped the Polish women of Ravensbruck camp. The story of Lilac Girls focuses on three main characters – Kasia, Caroline, and Herta who come from different backgrounds and countries but their lives intersect. Caroline helps the medical experiment survivors from Ravensbruck by bringing them for treatment to America almost a decade after the war is over.

Caroline is an ex-actress who comes from a wealthy family and volunteers at the French Consulate in New York City before the war. Caroline and her family have a strong sense of their French roots and enjoy many traditions of their culture. It is also the reason Caroline works dedicatedly at the consulate. Kasia is an 18-year-old girl living happily with her family and friends in Lublin, Poland until Nazi Germany invades Poland on 1st September in 1939 and her life is turned upside down. Herta is studying medicine in Nazi Germany and dreams of being a surgeon but there are restrictions for women in the medical field under the Reich. She is ambitious and determined from the very beginning and has complete faith in Hitler’s vision for her country.

The story is pretty straightforward in terms of timelines and events. The novel is divided into three parts. The first part gives an insight into the background of the characters and this really helped me understand the motivations and personalities of these women. The second part was difficult to read because the main focus of this is the course of their lives during the war. It is not outwardly described in a gory or violent way but it is more about the emotional reactions which get to you. The third part of the story is Caroline, Kasia, and Herta’s life after the war ends.

The characters in the book are what make this novel unique. Caroline does everything in her power to help French children during the war. She does so at a personal cost at times and even when things turn hopeless she keeps doing what she does because she knows this is the least she can do to help. Kasia is a rebellious girl but she wants to help change the situation in Poland. She starts helping the Polish underground in Lublin with the help of her friend and her crush Pietrik. One day she is followed by a German officer after doing an assignment she begs Pietrik for and is arrested. Kasia’s mother and sister Zuzzana, Pietrik, and his sister Luiza who have come to collect the envelope from Kasia are all arrested along with her.

Ravensbruck is where Kasia ends up with her sister and mother, a labor camp in Germany for women. I didn’t know much about this camp and the medical experiments conducted there until I read this book. These women stick together, helping each other stay safe that too at a personal cost. It’s heartwarming to see them help each other this way in a situation where one wrong move meant your death. The experiments were inhumane and the way is written makes us understand the gravity of it. It is at the camp that Kasia’s mother, Halina, is taken under Herta’s wing as a nurse and where Halina dies. This is the only time Herta shows some emotion. Herta is not a fictional character and is based on a camp doctor in Ravensbruck. She believes in what she is doing and it seems like she doesn’t care but somewhere deep down she feels a little remorse for her actions. Most of the time though she is detached and cold focusing only on her medical research with no thought of the human cost.

Caroline has a personal connection to France during the war, a married actor she falls in love with named Paul who is also taken to a camp when France is invaded but survives. Kasia comes back with her sister to Lublin where their father still lives and has trouble adjusting to normal life. She finds Pietrik and he is having a hard time too but Kasia is trying to forget but her guilt about her mother makes her angrier and angrier. Pietrik and Kasia get married and have a daughter who is named Halina after her mother but Kasia doesn’t want her to be named Halina. She snaps at everyone about the tiniest things but slowly realizes she needs to let go. With Caroline’s insistence, Kasia goes to Germany to confront Herta who was released early from prison. Once she confronts Herta and finds out what happened to her mother at the camp that she is finally able to move on with her life and leave all the darkness behind.

Martha Hall Kelly has been able to give a lot of heart to the story through her characters. Kasia and her family are the fictional characters but the story revolves around them in a way and, they are instrumental in telling the story of those Polish women who suffered at Ravensbruck during the war and treated unjustly after the war. It is a beautiful and inspiring story yet it is so sad and heartbreaking.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: Why Not Me? (Mindy Kaling).

Why Not Me?

–  Mindy Kaling.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling is a memoir which is a collection of essays about her life, career and experiences. This book has been on my shelf for years but I wasn’t really familiar with Mindy Kaling so I didn’t read it. Recently, I watched the series The Mindy Project and loved it. So, now that I was familiar with her work I thought I’ll read her memoir.

This collection of non-fiction essays about life is a clever and interesting way to write. The way it has been written, the format was new to me and in a way it makes the writing stand out even more. The essays are fun, witty and surprisingly relatable. It starts with awkward childhood stories than navigates through college life making it way towards career and personal life. Mindy Kaling’s experiences are relatable which I didn’t expect to be honest but it was a pleasant surprise.

She doesn’t care how she will be perceived by others, she mentions that in the book too which made the stories or essays authentic because there was no sugarcoating. The way she freely talked about drifting apart from people you thought would be a part of your life forever but it doesn’t happen or how she looked for friendships in wrong places and people and disappointments about her career. Her awkward behavior around people is amusing and funny especially around famous people as she says that she is socially anxious. As a person who doesn’t know how or what to say in social situations, I could completely relate to her.

Mindy Kaling doesn’t hold back about her insecurities or vulnerabilities throughout the book may it be about herself or her career. She candidly talks about the life in public eye and how celebrities are expected to carry themselves at all times. The constant comparison with others for example – articles like who were this better? She tries to subtly emphasize the point that all celebrities are regular people too and at times that is forgotten when they are held to different standard.

 The title of the book itself has a deeper meaning which didn’t even cross my mind as I was reading it. Why Not Me? The title of the book refers to the constant question she is asked that how come you are so confident? This question she felt implied that you have so little to be confident about then where does t come from?  Mindy Kaling explains how confidence is about entitlement, about believing what you deserve.

I don’t usually read non-fiction books especially memoirs or biographies but I am glad I read this one. It is honest, relatable and so witty. The way it is written, divided into different parts of her life and experiences makes it more interesting. The book is funny and it is deeper than one would expect it to be, it has a good message.  I enjoyed reading this book.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Currently Reading (July ’20).

My reading list for this month.

  1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

I don’t usually read non-fiction books but this book was a gift. It is been sitting on my shelf for years. I recently watched The Mindy Project television series and I liked it so I decided that now I will read this book. It is kind of like a collection of humorous essays written by Mindy Kaling. I am only a couple of chapters in but it is a fun read. It is relatable, insightful, and witty.

2. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is inspired by a true story during World War II. Three women Caroline Ferriday, Kasia Kuzmerick, and Herta Oberheuser come from different worlds until World War II begins with the invasion of Poland and their paths cross with each other. I haven’t read beyond the first chapter but historical novels always intrigue me and this one was no different. I look forward to reading this book.

3. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst is a love story between Alexa and Nicholas. Alexa and Nicholas have known each other for years because Maggie is Alexa’s best friend and Nicholas’s sister. Alexa is in a tough financial situation so when Nicholas makes his proposal to her. They get married only in name for Nicholas to be able to inherit his father’s corporation. The story can be predictable in a way but the element of fantasy and unique characters is enough to hook you on the book.

*Get a copy by clicking on the images above.

Currently Reading (June ’20)

My reading list for the month.

  1. If You Stay by Courtney Cole.

If You Stay is a story of Pax and Mila. Both of them come from different backgrounds; Pax drowns himself in drugs and women while Mila is down to earth and sweet. I am a couple of chapters in as of now and it is intriguing. There is an element of mystery surrounding the characters’ past especially Pax which I am super curious to find out.

2. Worth the Risk by Jamie Beck.

Worth the Risk is the third book of the St. James series. I read the other two books a while back and I wanted to read Jackson’s story. This book focuses on Jackson St. James when he decides to go to Vermont so he could prioritize his sobriety. His landlady is sweet young mother Gabby who Jackson finds alluring. Gabby and Jackson both seem to have different issues about their past yet they seem perfect for each other.  

  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

I have been meaning to read A Tale of Two Cities for years but some reason I always stop after the first chapter. This time I have picked it up again and finished the second chapter so that is a promising sign. Set during the French Revolution, this book parallels the story between two cities London and Paris. It being a historical novel is a huge draw for me.

Currently Reading (May ’20)

Currently Reading (May ’20)

My reading list for this month.

  1. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught.

I read ‘Perfect’ written by Judith McNaught and I liked her writing style. I found this book pretty randomly. I haven’t read historical fiction and romances much before but I think it is a fascinating genre. I started reading this book a couple of days ago and I have already finished 200 pages of it. The plot of the book focuses on the passionate and star-crossed love story of Elizabeth Cameron and Ian Thornton. The book is fast-paced and interesting. I think I’ll finish this one very quickly.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I borrowed this book a couple of years ago from a library but never finished it back then before I had to return it. I was almost halfway through the book back then and now that I have a copy, I am going to start from the beginning. I have read just a chapter of it as of yet but the premise of the story keeps you hooked. Never Let Me Go is a dystopian novel yet it is grounded in the real world with its setting which enhances the impact of the story. This time I am going to finish reading it quickly so there are no breaks in continuity for me while reading.

3. All the Bright Places by Niven.

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it at least 4 years back for the first time. Its been too long so I am going to read this again because I liked it so much the first time. The story of Violet and Finch is fun, self-aware, and heartbreaking. The character of Finch is so well written and the way Violet and Finch help each other is beautiful. I can’t wait to read this book again even though I am sure it’s going to end with me crying over it again.

4. Selected Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

I have been reading a lot of short stories lately. I never felt brave enough to start reading Crime and Punishment or any other works by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Reading classics can seem like a task at times but I want to read his works so reading the short stories will kind of ease me into his writing style. I read the first two stories and they are really good. The descriptions and the writing style is unique and it’s not as heavy as I expected it to be.

*Get a copy from Amazon. Click on the book covers above.