Sun, Sand, Stars and Dreams

The chronicles of a misfit Indian teen



Starry Dreams’ Review: The Butterfly Season by Natasha Ahmed provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for a review. I’d like to thank them for their initiative to promote debut South Asian authors and also for fuelling my reading habit.

On her first holiday in six years, Rumi is expecting to relax and unwind. But when she is set up by her long-time friend, she doesn’t shy away from the possibilities. Ahad, a charming, independent, self-made man, captures her imagination, drawing her away from her disapproving sister, Juveria.

Faced with sizzling chemistry and a meeting of the minds, Ahad and Rumi find themselves deep in a relationship that moves forward with growing intensity. But as her desire for the self-assured Ahad grows, Rumi struggles with a decision that will impact the rest of her life.

Confronted by her scandalized sister, a forbidding uncle and a society that frowns on pre-marital intimacy, Rumi has to decide whether to shed her middle-class sensibilities, turning her back on her family, or return to her secluded existence as an unmarried woman in Pakistan.

We follow Rumi from rainy London to a sweltering Karachi, as she tries to take control of her own destiny.
~Goodreads description

The butterfly season is a debut novel by Natasha Ahmed. (It has a super pretty cover, by the way!)
It tells the story of Rumi, a thirty year old woman from a conservative Pakistani family. Rumi (beautiful name, though) did not marry or do anything that traditional Pakistani girls are meant to do. She is a successful architect, but she spent her youth taking care of her ailing mother, which consequently led her relatives to consider her as a foolish woman who whiled away her youth and is now destined to live as a spinster throughout her life.
After her mother died, she takes a long overdue vacation to London, to visit her younger sister. Her sister Juveria is a conservative Muslim, who grew even more conservative after moving to England.
Once there, Rumi meets Ahad, a charming British-Pakistani, who succeeds in wooing her.
But, then, Rumi has to face the challenges of her disapproving family coming to know of her relationship.
As an Indian, if there is one thing that this book taught me, it is that life is nearly the same on either side of the border. The over-emphasis on culture and tradition and a stigma attached to certain things, pre-marital sex for one.
Rumi’s reluctance and hesitation to break the bounds of her societal traditions are wonderfully written and extremely relatable.
The coming-of-age novella describes how Rumi manages to break free from the chains that bind her and fly away as an independent woman.
I love how Rumi’s character develops and how she learns to live and love.

Brilliant light read. A feel-good novella.
4 stars.


Starry Dreams’ Review: Half-girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat

Once upon a time, there was a Bihari boy called Madhav. He fell in love with a rich girl from Delhi called Riya. Madhav didnt speak English well. Riya did. Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didn’t. Riya just wanted friendship. Madhav didn’t. Riya suggested a compromise. She agreed to be his half-girlfriend.
~ Book Blurb

I’ve this kind of love-hate relationship with Chetan Bhagat. Somehow, I feel compelled to read his novels and then hate it.
So, this wasn’t new either. And no, I did not pre-order the book like half the population in India did. (Although a friend of mine did, and I read it from her.)
This is one formula that CB has been following for a few books now.
(1) Begin with a dramatic prologue: cues, suicidal instincts in 2 States, suicide in The Three Mistakes of my Life, and now death (believed) in this one.
(2) Launch a Bollywood style masala love story. With absolutely no plot.
(3) Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. All ends well.

And this was no exception.
In fact, it was worse than the other novels by him.
2 states was believable and plausible, to say the least.
Revolution 2020 and 3 mistakes of my life had some kind of plot, at the very least. However vague.
But, this was vague to the extreme.

The entire book seemed like a mismatch of a lot of Bollywood movies (Ranjhanaa for one) with a hint of The Walk to Remember thrown in for good measure. I’m sorry Chetan Bhagat, but, I don’t really get the romance (if you can even call it that) between Riya and Madhav. At least your other novels had some kind of a love story. This had plain creepy, stalking.
Coming from a village boy from Bihar, who had just landed in Delhi, thoughts like dating and girlfriends, seem a bit too fake. Although, the chauvinist mentality can be believed. Isn’t it obvious though? Madhav plays basketball better than Riya, although Riya was rich enough to have professional trainers, because,…. Wait for it…. Madhav is a boy.
Madhav has the right to tell Riya, “F*** me or f*** off”, but when Riya leaves him for that, she turns out to be the evil witch.

A bit too cheesy (bit? Pfft. Whom am I kidding!?) and clichéd with Madhav being a ‘prince’ of an obscure village in Bihar. And Riya being the ‘un-typical’ rich girl, who hates her family and runs away.
St.Stephen’s is one of the toughest colleges to get into, in India. But, our beloved protagonist, as idiotic as he is, manages to get in. And the wonderful lady quits it in her second year to have an arranged marriage with a man who told her that, after marriage, she could be his travel partner as he travels around the world. (which sane person ever quits St. Stephen’s on as flimsy as an excuse as that!?) The so-called multi-million happy wedding takes place, and a divorce follows soon, because the Prince Charming turns out to be abusive. But, Riya’s mother is more worried about what ‘the society will think about her divorce’ than her daughter’s safety.
There are quite a lot of plot holes as well. Riya divorces her husband because she finds incriminating photos on Whatsapp on her husband’s phone in 2008.
Whatsapp was founded only in 2009. Conclusion: CB doesn’t know to use Wikipedia either.
I’m sorry Chetan Bhagat fans, but this was one book that totally pissed me off. Yes, I know. I know that he’s a writer for the masses and many Indians started reading because of his novels.
But, I’m not convinced.

Redeeming points: Slightly relatable at times, to people from India or for who have an experience with Indian colleges.

Rating: One star itself is a bit too much for this book, maybe.

Bottom line: Definitely not a love story. More like a stalking predator and a lady with Stockholm Syndrome.

Sherlock Season 3, for the uninitiated. a.k.a. Annoying Spoilers (The Fandom Chronicles, Part #1)

No! No! Before you avert your eyes and skip to the next post, because you haven’t watched the first episode of Sherlock Season 3, I assure you that this post contains no spoilers.
Mostly because I haven’t watched it myself.

So, it didn’t air in the place I live and I don’t think it’s there online yet. So I haven’t watched it. Also because I was caught up with exams and stuff for senior year and I thought of reducing time I spend watching TV and reading novels.
But, now I am forced to avoid all social media, and my phone as well, for fear of Sherlock spoilers.
In fact, I logged out of Facebook and didn’t log in for a record THREE days (and counting!)
Because if there is one thing that I hate the most (apart from Dentists and Chemistry, obviously), it is a spoiler!

If I thought all my spoiler-o-phobia will reach a fever pitch, only if I log into social media, I was sorely mistaken.
I was reading the newspaper as usual, when I came across an article about Sherlock. I loved finding news about my fandoms in the local newspaper.
I continued reading, thinking nothing much would be given away, since it was the local paper and it hadn’t aired here till now.
But, I reached the part where it went,”The plot revolves…..”
Eeeeeeeaaaaaaaccccchhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! SPOILERS!
I flung the paper as far as it could go.
I mean, couldn’t they have at least marked the article with a ‘spoiler alert’ or something.
Well, I guess it was my fault too, because I shouldn’t have read it, knowing it was bound to contain sensitive information.
Yet again, my insatiable curiously played the spoiler.

The A-Z Book Survey

I found this Survey on Attempting Reality’s blog and then on Underwaterraven’s as well. So, I thought of attempting it as well.

In the words of Attempting Reality (who’s totally awesome an if you haven’t already, do check her blog out), “It’s the A-Z Book Survey and I am about 90% sure that this tag was invented for me and the other million-or-so 17 year old girls who love reading, writing, chocolate and dogs.” (Psst! I think it’s totally true!)

Without further ado, here goes.

Author you’ve read the most books from:
If I could count books I read when I was younger, then it is Enid Blyton. I’d read all the books in the Famous Five series, the Secret Seven series, the St. Clare series, the Mallory tower series, and quite a few assorted books by her.

Best Sequel Ever:
The Harry Potter series. The only series in my opinion that became better as it progressed.

Currently Reading:
A good Indian wife, by Anne Cherian

Drink of Choice While Reading:
I don’t usually drink anything while reading, because it distracts me a bit.

E-reader or Physical Book?
I don’t have an e-reader, unless you count an iPhone to be one.
Although, in my iPhone, I do get to read books which aren’t available locally, nothing could beat the feel of having a real, physical, papery book in my hand. (One which has the true book-ish smell.)

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: Um, Etienne St. Claire from ‘Anna and the French kiss’, or Zain Altaf Khan from ‘Battle for Bittora’ or even Sirius Black from ‘Harry Potter’, if it wasn’t for the huge age difference.
(Yes. I seem to have an attraction for handsome, dark-haired males with a bad childhood.)

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton

Hidden Gem Book:
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton. (Again)

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
When I read my first Famous Five novel in second grade, it was my first book which crossed 200 pages and it took me around a month to read. But, I read the same book over and over countless times and improved my reading speed considerably.

Just Finished:
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Kinds of Books You (generally) Won’t Read:
Werewolf-Vampire romances, fantasy.

Longest Book You’ve Read:
Will my Physics reference book count? It has nearly 1600 pages and I’ve read it entirely.
If not, I’m not exactly sure, maybe Eragon, or Ootp.

Major book hangover because of:
Harry Potter.
And more recently, “Allegiant”, the third book of the ‘Divergent’ series.

Number of Bookcases You Own:
One thin and tall one in the house where I’m living currently and two long broad ones in my house back in India. (Although only one of it is fully filled.)

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
I don’t usually read a book over again, ’cause it kind of ruins the thrill of finishing it, for me.
But, the Famous Five book, “Five get into trouble”, is one book that I’ve read over and over for almost a year, because I didn’t have any other book which I considered good enough, in second grade.

Preferred Place To Read:
Somewhere in my room, sometimes dangling from my bed even. 😛

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
― The Fault in Our Stars

Reading Regret:
Reading the ‘Twilight’ series (the first two books at least), and actually fangirling over it for almost a month. (Thank god I came to my senses after that!)

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):
The Lord of the Rings.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
PoA, The Book Thief, The secret Keeper

Unapologetic Fangirl For:
Harry Potter. Legal thrillers, Jeffrey Archer’s books, murder mysteries.
Also, happy, light reads. The occasional chick-lit. (Occasional? Pfft. Whom am I kidding?)

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
Well, I was excited for Allegiant’s release, but now that it has already been released, I don’t exactly know what books are coming out now.

Worst Bookish Habit:
Starting a book and then abandoning it midway.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Your latest book purchase:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, way back in July, although I haven’t read either till now. (Note: ‘Purchase’ being the key word.)

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
Inferno, by Dan Brown.

So, there!
Until next time,
Anu. 🙂

P. S. If anyone out there is still reading my blog, I’m sorry to say that I won’t be posting anything new for another two weeks. I have my mid-yearly exams coming up (from tomorrow, actually) and I really need to study. But, I’ll be back in December!

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