Reading Challenges and Book Club Reads

Reading challenge is a challenge that basically challenges your ability of reading. It makes you read more in a year and it expands the diversity of reading.

In 2019, I took only Goodreads challenge and i finished it. To have a goal to read a particular book makes you more efficient in reading. So in 2020, I have decided to participate in a few reading challenges as well as book clubs. The book clubs and reading challenges that I’m going to participate in 2020 are below.


TBR Pile Reading Challenge

This challenge is created by Rick through his bookstagram account.

The Rules are:
1. Post a picture of your TBR pile (your full pile doesn’t have to be in the picture if it is too big) before 12/1
2. In the captions make sure you state the following (wording of your choice):
-“I’m joining @(all of us in this message) for the 2020 #TBRpilechallenge”
-Your own defined goal for the challenge for 2020 (number of books from the pile to read, for each book bought read X from the pile, not buy new books until the pile is gone… anything that makes your pile smaller!)
-“I challenge…@(tag as many of your bookish friends you want to challenge)”
-Share the post to your stories and use the hashtag #TBRpilechallenge and tag all of us in this group
During the challenge:
Whenever you finish a book from your pile, post a picture of it and in the captions along with your regular message state that (again wording of your choice):
-“I just finished book number X for the 2020 #TBRpilechallenge”
-Keep challenging as many bookish friends as you wany.


Reading Women Challenge

We all know how this works. Reading Women group will post a prompt and we have to follow the prompt throughout the year and finish the challenge. The prompts are:

Image courtesy: Reading Women Official Instagram Page

ReadingWithMuffy

This challenge is created by Muffytales. Again here they will provide prompts for every month with a few extras and we have to follow those to finish these. The beauty is there will be a winner every month and at the end of the year, they’ll provide a mocha box by TBB box.
The prompts are:

Image courtesy: Muffytales

Book Critic’s Book Club Reads

This club was started by me in order to lure more people into reading. This is an online book club and there is no botm. So instead there are prompts to finish. The prompts are:

All 3 images are from my book club’s official page

Femibook’s Feminist Book Club

I always wanted to read more feminist books and this book club is just the right choice. So Femi started this book club and there is a botm and we get to discuss it every week. You can join this book club by requesting Femi.


Apart from these, there are many reading challenges and book clubs. But I feel I don’t want to stretch myself by choosing too many. If you have any interesting suggestions, please drop a comment below.


Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

In this poignant and melancholic memoir, paul kalanithi asks an important question to the reader. ‘What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?



As I read the book, I realised a thing. This isn’t a book about dying. This is a book that records the journey of a man who’s dying but couldn’t do anything about it. This is a book that documents the changes and other realization he faces during this journey.



Paul quotes, ‘There is a moment, a cusp when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment‘. Paul let us live in that particular moment with him through this book.



If you think that this book is a guide for cancer patients and survivors, then you will be disappointed. Instead, this book is an account of the journey faced by the person who faces death. There’s something humane and raw about his writing that taps something in the reader.



In this book, we see Paul as a literature student who searches for the meaning of life in literature. Then we see him becoming a doctor and a surgeon. The enthusiasm with which he faces the medical emergencies is contagious. We learn so many things about his life and a glimpse of what is in Paul’s mind.


When he finds that he has cancer, he writes how it feels to be a cancer patient. He writes about how difficult it is to adopt from being a surgeon dealing with cancer patients to an actual cancer patient. He makes us almost hopeful for his survival when his scans came clear. But we kind of know the answer before we even start this book, aren’t we?


I admire his courage and compassion with which he faces the inevitable. The message he leaves for his daughter is a message for all. I couldn’t talk any more about the epilogue written by his wife. She embarks the same journey with him. She’s on the sidelines supporting him whenever needed and cheering him whenever there is a tiny victory. She was his pillar of support.


I was deeply affected by the epilogue that I literally sobbed at the middle of the night. I was in a reading slump for nearly a week because I couldn’t start anything after this book.



If you are expecting it to be an easy read then don’t read this book. You can argue that he’s privileged and he didn’t represent even a percentage of cancer people. But what makes his book special is, he didn’t pretend to be a person he’s not. Even when facing death, he didn’t lose his compassion. He greeted death like an old friend. And that makes him honourable.


I don’t want to rate this book. After all, we can’t provide a score for real-life experiences, can we?


I want to share one thing with you people. This blog has been listed among the top 100 Indian book review blogs by feedspot. Check out their page.


Book Review- Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies is my second Moriarty book and I liked it better then the first one (The Husband’s Secret). The author weaves a women-centred story with a multitude of characters and has done a wonderful job.


The book is written in layers. Superficially we can see helicopter parenting, women-hating other women for no particular reason, working mom vs stay at home moms and all other things. But in its deep layer, we can see domestic violence, bullying and struggles of a woman accepting the ageing process.


The story revolves around three women Madeline, Celeste and Jane who keep secrets of their own. What starts as a lovely friendship between them somehow connected to a murder. But we don’t know who died or how they died. The author introduces a multitude of characters and we have a good old hide and seek game between them.


What I liked in this book are women. There are so many women with so many traits that I wanted to keep reading about them. The book is surprisingly girlish and we have women bantering, gossiping and fighting for no reason and it made the books lively.


The author also has a brilliant plot there the characters are relatable and narration is vivid. Another thing about this book is talks about every problem that a woman faces in her lifetime.
We have a working mom who tries to look after her child, a stay at home mom who tries to connect with her teenage daughter, another mom who faces domestic abuse but can’t do anything about it until it’s late and a rape victim who has body dysmorphia. The story goes in and out revolving these characters.


When I’m reading this book I realised how complicated women’s minds are and how we have a potpourri of emotions! The women in this book had their share of differences. But when it came to helping another woman, they discarded all the differences and helped her.


Though the author talks about domestic violence and bullying it is not deep enough to create an impact. But that doesn’t make this book less interesting. Though the concepts are shallow, the story delivered what it wanted to deliver. Also, I personally felt that the book is lengthy and has a few unnecessary parts.


Big Little Lies is a book which shows us the little lies we keep telling ourselves to feel better. For example, when Celeste sees their family pictures on Facebook posted by Perry, she lies to herself that they are a happy family. Big Little Lies is another example of showing how perfect people’s lives are when they are not.


The unexpected twist comes at the end of this book and blows our mind away. Through the characters and small conversations throughout the book, the author has foreshadowed the murder that happened and who died.


Big Little Lies started as a normal women’s fiction and proceeded to talk about body dysmorphia, domestic violence, physical abuse, problematic teenagers and cheating husbands. Oh! Don’t forget the unexpected twists. At last, Big Little Lies is a special package of suspense and sarcasm.


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Book Recommendation: The Curse of Anuganga

THE CURSE OF ANUGANGA BY HARINI SRINIVASAN

Title: The Curse of Anuganga

Author Harini Srinivasan

Publication: TreeShade Books

No. of Pages: 296

Blurb: (as in goodreads)

Circa 403 C.E. India. In the thriving city of Nanivardhana, lives Shaunaka, a young man who yearns to go to Pataliputra to see the world and make his fortune. But he is forced to join his father’s jewellery making business and soon finds himself in the workshop a job in which his heart clearly did not lie. Thankfully, along comes distraction in the form of two extravagant weddings royal nuptials at the palace and another wedding at the extravagant corner house in the Buddhist quarter of the city. This house, known for its opulence and sheer size, is owned by Vinayashura, an affluent trader fabled to have mysteriously deep connections to the royal family. Shaunaka is given the charge to work on the bride’s jewellery at the corner house, but instead of the mundane task at hand, a morbid sight awaits the trader’s wife’s bloodcurdling screams bring Shaunaka to Vinayashura’s bedroom where he is found murdered and lying in a pool of blood! Who killed Vinayashura? Why? Shaunaka finds himself at the heart of the mystery and his logic and keen observation skills land him the duty of assisting the head of police to solve this murder. 


Why do I recommend this book?

I got the book as a part of the review program in Outset.

This book is one of the best historical fictions I have ever read. This is a classic cat and mouse chase with a lot of palace intricacies and a spotlight to Gupta dynasty.

First of all hats off to the author for writing this book based on very less research material. Needless to say, the book is well researched and compiled. It amazes me to read the culture of ancient people and their lifestyle is woven with true facts.

The second reason why I recommend this book is, it is written with one of the unique backstories which give us insight to a different time period. The writing is flawless and the characters are well developed and relatable.

Another thing I liked about the book is its writing style and the plot. The author used the right words at the right time. As this book is a murder mystery, the suspense is alive till the end of the book. The author made the reader bite nails in anticipation. I was guessing and second-guessing the characters linked with the murder.

Coming to the negatives, I didn’t like the name of the book. I actually didn’t think it went appropriate with the story but that is purely my point of view. Also, I felt at some places there were too many descriptions for my taste. Apart from that, I really enjoyed the book.

Overall, it’s a treat to read and I highly recommend this book for all the historical fiction and murder mystery lovers.

My Rating: 


Book Review: The Girl in the Tree

The Girl in the Tree

Author: Şebnem İşigüzel 

Translated by: Mark David wyers

Publication: Amazon Crossings

Book type: E-ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.


Blurb (as in NetGalley):

A young woman climbs the tallest tree in Istanbul’s centuries-old Gülhane Park, determined to live out the rest of her days there. Perched in an abandoned stork’s nest in a sanctuary of branches and leaves, she tries to make sense of the rising tide of violence in the world below. Torn between the desire to forget all that has happened and the need to remember, her story, and the stories of those around her, begins to unfold.

Then, unexpectedly, comes a soul mate with a shared destiny. A lonely boy working at a nearby hotel looks up and falls in love. The two share stories of the fates of their families, of a changing city, and of their political awakenings in the Gezi Park protests. Together, they navigate their histories of love and loss, set against a backdrop of societal tension leading up to the tragic bombing that marked a turn in Turkey’s democracy—and sent a young girl fleeing into the trees.

Narrated by one of the most unforgettable characters in contemporary fiction—as full of audacious humor and irony as she is of rage and grief—this unsparing and poetic novel of political madness, precarious dreams, and the will to survive brilliantly captures a girl’s road to defiance in a world turned upside down, in which it is only from the treetops that she can find a grip on reality—and the promise of hope.

About Author and Translator:

Şebnem İşigüzel was born in 1973. Her first book, Hanene ay dogacak (The Future Looks Bright), won the prestigious Yunus Nadi Literature Award for published collections of short stories in 1993. She has gone on to write eight novels and two more short story collections. The Girl in the Tree, published in Turkey in 2016, is her first novel to be translated into English. Mark David Wyers completed his BA in literature at the University of Tampa and his MA in Turkish studies at the University of Arizona. From 2008 to 2013 he was the director of the academic writing centre at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, during which time he drew upon his master’s thesis to write a historical book-length study titled “Wicked” Istanbul: The Regulation of Prostitution in the Early Turkish Republic. He has since dedicated himself to working on translations of Turkish novels, published examples of which include Boundless Solitude by Selim İleri, The King of Taksim Square by Emrah Serbes, The Pasha of Cuisine by Saygın Ersin, and The Peace Machine by Özgür Mumcu. His translations of Turkish short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and journals.


My Review:

This book is my first experience in reading a Turkish literature translation. And I should say that I had a good experience in reading this book.

The narrator of this book was a girl who thought that she could live in a tree. The narrator introduces herself as ‘The Girl in the Tree’ to the readers as she doesn’t want to use her name.

This girl believes that the world is made up of stories and we all are other people’s stories. She narrates her life through the stories of other people in her life. First few chapters of the book were confusing. But the story picks up its pace after a few chapters.

As I am not a native Turkish speaker, I hope that the translation did its justice to the original book. The book is full of dynamic women who face life in their own style. The women of this book are enigmatic and inspiring.

The writing style was immaculate which is an added bonus. Also, I like the way the story progresses and ends.

I do have a few things bothering about this book.

  1. Why does a girl have to live in a tree? Is there no other way to escape from reality?
  2. What did she learn from the stories of other women in her life?
  3. The character development is absent or I couldn’t sense it.
  4. The girl in the tree is distracted, confused, ingrate and repeating the things again and again and again. After a point of time, I can’t cope with her.
  5. The beginning of the book is vague and confusing.

Apart from these, this book is a pretty good read which has a lot of women and talks about the importance of mental health. At last, I fell in love with this book which is unexpected. I love this book because it is challenging to read. I learned many new words. I also got an insight into Turkish culture ( a little though).


My Recommendation:

I would recommend this book for a hardcore literature fan or to the people who like to read challenging books.

My Rating:


Review Policy

When I started to do book reviews, I was clueless. I didn’t know what to consider and what not to consider while writing a review. Then I started my research on writing a book review and I read a lot of reviews by my favourite book bloggers and some on bookstagram. After a lot of efforts, now I have an okay-ish format of reviewing a book.


My Review includes,

  • A short introduction of the book
  • Blurb (as in goodreads or amazon)
  • My Review – where I will be sharing my opinions about the book
  • Would I recommend this book?
  • My Rating

Please note that whatever opinions I am sharing here are my own and it’s not influenced by anyone or any particular reason.


Genres I would like to review are:

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-fi
  • Historical fiction
  • Mythology
  • Contemporary fiction
  • YA
  • Thriller / Mystery
  • Any history related books in non-fiction

Genres that are not for me:

  • All the other non-fiction except the one I mentioned above.
  • Poetry (not a big fan)
  • Romance and Erotica (please just no)
  • Religious texts (I am an atheist)
  • Technical books (difficult to understand)
  • Recipe books and other cook books
  • Other academic books

I know that I am particularly new in this field and I don’t have much fan following. But I charge money for the time I am going to dedicate for the book in order to provide a honest review. The money which you are going to pay WILL NEVER affect the way I review a book. 

I take 15 to 20 days to review a book. So, please be patient. If you want me to review your book, you can reach me at bookcriticsblog@gmail.com. and I will respond to your mail within 3 days.


My Rating system:

I rate the books on following categories out of 5 with an overall rating at the end.

  • Character development
  • Plot development
  • Quality of writing
  • Pace of the story
  • Thought Provoking

Rating Scores:

Thank You so much for your time and attention people.