Friday, March 16, 2018

Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng


Mia and her daughter, Pearl, had been leading a very nomadic life so far. Moving from one place to another in a year or two. Eventually they came upon Shaker Heights in Cleveland and thought that they should settle here. They rented an apartment from the Richardsons. Mia was an artist and so that she could pay for her supplies she did some odd jobs here and there. She earned barely enough to keep both of them fed and sheltered.

Life of the Richardsons was on the other end of the spectrum. They had always lived in Shaker Heights, had well to-do jobs and led a very cookie-cutter life. They had 4 children – Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. One day Moody meets Pearl, they became friends and this is where th story starts. Life of Mia, Pearl and the Richardsons slowly starts to inter-twine. While Mia and Mrs Richardson lead a very different life and are very different personalities, they have some very similar motherhood patterns. They let their children be. Except that Mia is not as judgemental as Mrs Richardson. When their presence in each other’s life started increasing, that is when it started to get complicated. And that is when Mrs Richardson investigated Mia’s past to find anything that would be damaging.

It’s a very intriguing story and if life did not get in the way, I would’ve liked to spend a full day to read this book cover to cover. It was always hard to keep it down. Highly recommend reading it!

Friday, March 9, 2018

This is how it always is

Author: Laurie Frankel

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Loved reading this book! Would have liked to spend a day just reading this book! I actually took it on our vacation which is where an accident happened to the book and I had to pay a fine to the library. I was not very happy with myself for the accident not so much because of the fine – I read a lot of books from the library so I’m gotten much more benefit from it – but that this why I always worried about taking library books with me on vacation. Regarding what happened – I put the book and the water bottle in the same bag. Somehow the bottle’s cap was loose and it leaked water. Worst part was that the bag’s bottom was water proof so the water accumulated rather than leaking out of the bag! Anyways, you learn from your mistakes.

Coming back to the book. It’s about a family – a father and a mother with a six kids. Everybody around them was surprised that they were having another one when they had their sixth kid. Sometimes they were surprised too. They liked to think that they were having yet another in the hope of having a girl. All their other kids were boys. So was the sixth one, Claude. However once he was no longer a baby, he was not so sure that he’s a boy. He liked to dress up like girls, play with dolls and so on. His parents believed in letting their children be what they are. They were opposed to him doing either. Initially he would wear dresses at home but change to boy clothes for school. One year he took a purse like lunch-box to school which perturbed his teacher a lot. Gradually it dawned on the parents that maybe their kid is a transgender. What follows is the story of a family who go through much trials and tribulations to work with that reality. Of course, it is the hardest for Claude.

What made me love this story is the way the author handled all the situations. Sometimes so real and sometimes just ideal – you wish every one would handle things this way. Rosie the mother is a doctor and very pragmatic. Even though she wants Claude to be his/her own self, somewhere down deep she just wishes that go back to what he is physically. Penn, the father, is a author/story-teller and just like he makes his stories take any turns, he is ready to do whatever necessary for Claude to be what he/she wants to be. Some conversations between husband and wife are so philosophical and fodder for the brain! In the initial stages when they’re discussing which way should they go, they both agree that letting Claude be her would be the right way if that is what he wants. Rosie says that that’s not going to be easy to which Penn replies that we never thought parenting would be easy. That easy is not what we’re looking for. Easy and the right way never go hand in hand. It’s not just the character of the parents, it’s the kids too. They’re always asking the right questions about their brother/sister. How they handle the situations. It teaches you that when life will have it’s twists and turns, they will be unexpected and hard to maneuver. Expect them to be hard. Once you know it will be hard, you will do the right thing. 

Highly recommend reading this book!

Friday, March 2, 2018

White Girl Problems

Author: Babe Walker

It has been a long time since I read a book full of humor. So one day I started searching on Amazon for highly rated books in the humor section. I believe I came across “White Girl Problems” then.

To be honest, I’ve never found a book as painful to read as this. It was as if I was reading chapter after chapter of nothing. Maybe the humor was not what I’m used to because I hardly laughed on anything in this book. I think the last chapter was probably the best. I could see how the situations could be so hilarious but the way they were expressed they didn’t seem funny to me. There were times when I felt sorry for the protagonist. Clearly that was not what I was expecting from this book.

I think FWP (First World Problems) or in this case White Girl Problems, would either irate you because there are bigger problems in the world to worry about or bore you because there are bigger problems in the world that interest you more. However if expressed rightly they do appear funny a lot of times! For example the meme below (courtesy: is funny to me:


Well if you have reached till here to still see what I say about this book then my recommendation is do not waste your time on it Sad smile. The only good thing was that it didn’t take me too long to read this book.

Friday, February 9, 2018


Author: Frederik Backman


I had read Frederick Backman’s “A man called ove” and really loved it! He is so clear in his mind on the character sketches and equally clear in his expression. You can imagine each and every character in his book as to how they would look, where would  they live and so on. That, I feel engrosses you completely into the story, you feel a part of it. He does not disappoint in this book either. The first book had some humor in it and I got this book thinking it would be too. Even though it didn’t have humor, it didn’t matter. The story was very entertaining and engrossing.

As the cover and title suggest, the book is about a town called Beartown. It has a run down economy, businesses and schools are shutting down. The only hope it has is (ice) hockey. They’ve had great players in the past and there are more in the making. Its not all about hockey though. It is about the lives of the people whose life revolves around hockey, directly or indirectly. Mostly a few school going kids who come from different backgrounds and how their background has shaped them. Maya, who loves to play guitar and would like to be as  far away from hockey as possible but her father is the manager of the hockey team and was himself a great player. Amat, from a single parent household who dreams of hockey day and night. Kevin the best player on the hockey team and from one of the richest houses in Beartown. There are twists and turns that keep you on the edge. All in all I would highly recommend this book.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Smarter Better Faster

Author: Charles Duhigg


As the punchline says the book is all about how you can be more productive and effective in everything that you do. While some things maybe applicable in the work environment alone, a lot of things people can apply to their personal life as well. Each chapter focuses on an aspect that you need to cultivate in order to achieve more productivity. It has plenty of examples to drive in the point and also a lot of techniques how one can inculcate them in their life. The author has collected data from many different fields and that makes the book very interesting to read. From GE to Google to Toyota to some high schools. It talks about how you need to have a high sense of motivation, a productive team, good focus, smart goal setting, ability to manage others and make informed decisions, how to be innovative and to absorb data.

There were a couple of things that were interesting. For example – how a team works is more important than who is in the team, a commitment culture goes a long way vs the startup culture, to make an informed decisions it’s important to know about the failures and so on.

Unfortunately the more I write about the book, the more I would reveal the content and that may take away from the joy of reading this book. I would highly recommend this book. It was very interesting, inspiring and full of great content!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Cinnamon star bread


KAF have a monthly bakealong where every month they share a recipe that the bakers can then make. I've always wanted to participate in the bakealong because just by doing it once a month I would’ve tried 12 new recipes! However you know how it goes. You may want a lot of things but you can only do so many. This recipe was posted for the Holiday bakelong in December. So when the opportunity presented itself – we had to take dessert to a get-together – I jumped on it and decided to try it out. KAF blog said that it is not as difficult as it looks and I took their word for it since you know KAF is my trusted baking site. Sure enough it turned out be quite simple and straightforward. It does take a lot of time because of all the periods when you need to let it rise but it’s not active time. So start well in advance – around 4-5 hours before you need it. Or freeze/refrigerate it the previous day. The result was very impressive and yummy! It was the star of the get-together Smile I followed the recipe as it is without any changes.


  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar*
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  1. First, measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
  2. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead in a food processor to make a soft, smooth dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until it's nearly doubled in bulk. I kept it for 60 minutes and it was half way there. Then since it’s winter here and we do keep our house temperature on the cooler side I kept it in the oven with the light on for another 30 minutes or so.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes. Again I put it in the oven.
  5. On a lightly greased or floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10" circle. Place the circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on the surface, then evenly sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4" of bare dough around the perimeter.
  6. Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process — egg, cinnamon sugar, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare.
  7. Place a 2 1/2" to 3" round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.
  8. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
  9. Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter.
  10. Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes.
  11. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  12. Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it's nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
  13. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.
  14. Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Peak – Secrets from the new science of expertise

Authors: Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool


This book is an extension of the growth mindset. If you haven’t read the book Growth Mindset by Carol S Dweck then I would highly recommend reading it. That opens the door for this one – in my opinion. I was looking through my archives and realized that I never posted a review for that book!! That makes me so sad because I really enjoyed that one and would definitely want everyone to read about it. Anyway, this review is about this book so let’s get the train on the track.

The author talks about how to be an expert at something and after reading the book I thought to myself wow that was a really thick book just telling you how to become an expert at a sport, music or anything else. However now that it’s been a couple of days since I read it, I feel that it was important to have that much content to drive the point.

In the authors’ opinion (which I’m fully subscribing to), you can become an expert if you want to. There’s no such thing as “you need to be born with a talent”. They quote various studies and have also studied some of the famous people like Mozart to understand how people like Mozart get to where they were. Or Roger Federer for that matter. It was not because they had the music gene(or the sports gene) in them. There’s a lot of hard work behind it and a lot of targeted hard work. They use the term “purposeful practice” that will get you skilled at anything. Purposeful practice is defined as one where:

  1. You have well defined specific goals.
  2. You get feedback at every step. There’s no point practicing if you don’t get feedback on how to improve what you practiced. That could be coming from you or from a teacher or somebody else.
  3. You get out of the comfort zone. To keep making progress you will need to step out of your comfort zone. Otherwise you will stagnate.

This is not easy. When you are not good at something, to keep going at it in the hope that you will get better one day is not easy. You need a lot of motivation for that and there are techniques for that as well. One of them you make it a habit. If you want to learn to play an instrument, make it a habit to play it every morning at 7am. Then it becomes like just another thing you do every day.

However this will not get you to become an expert. The authors opine that you can become an expert at any field where the progress can be measured and somebody else has already been an expert at that. Latter is important because then you can use the techniques used by people before you and even improvise on them; as well as you can get teachers/trainers who have already studied the experts in that field to analyze what’s the best way to practice.

That said there may be other hurdles in you trying to become an expert. The younger you start learning something the easier it is to become an expert as your brain is more adaptable. That means your parents need to be dedicated to whatever it is that you are learning and should be able to take you to the practice sessions and all. That you should be able to afford the resources that you need.

After reading the book, I feel that if somebody is an expert at something and we say “oh he/she was born with xyz” or “he/she has natural talent” then we are undermining the effort and hard work the person put in getting to where they are.

Highly recommend reading this book!