Reading Bingo Challenge 2014


Last month I came across this post by Cleopatralovesbooks. A Reading Bingo! I mean how awesome is that. Its also a great way to end the year.

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes:

The best thriller I’ve read for a long long time! 

In the book, “Pilgrim” is the code name for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed a secret U.S. espionage unit. Now in anonymous retirement, he is called upon to lend his expertise to an unusual investigation but ultimately is caught in a race against-time to save America from oblivion. Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, published the book in May. MGM has bought the movie rights.


A Forgotten Classic

The Outsider by Albert Camus:

A new version of L’Étranger translated by Sandra Smith.

“Smith’s version of L’Etranger is both erudite and agile. It deserves to become the standard translation of Camus’s masterpiece.” –Lucian Robinson



A Book That Became a Movie

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne:

Set during World War II where Nine year-old Bruno meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pyjamas. One of the very rare cases where the book and the movie are equally good.




A Book Published This Year

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin:

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew.

                                                      Hands down my favorite book of 2014.


A Book With A Number In The Title

Mr. Penumbra’s 24Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan:

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.



A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay:

Sarah Kay’s debut collection of poetry featuring work from the first decade of her career. Sarah (26 Years) is the founder of Project VOICE, an organization that uses spoken word poetry as a literacy and empowerment tool. She is well-known for her TED Talk “If I should have a daughter…”.




A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing in this category.


A Funny Book

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes:

The One Plus One is funny, poignant and charming story with characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. Its about family, about belonging and about love and a wonderful read.





A Book By A Female Author

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows:

So far this year I have read 24 books by female authors (check my #ReadWomen2014 shelf on goodreads). The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is Mary Ann Shaffer’s first and only novel (she died in 2008). The book is set in 1946 and is in the form of letters exchange between Juliet Ashton, a successful writer and a group of people on Guernsey who lived through the wartime German Occupation.


A Book With A Mystery

A Man Without Breath by Philip Kerr:

“This ninth Bernie Gunther tale (after Prague Fatale) focuses on two months of 1943, mixing real-life characters with fictional ones. Kerr’s historical knowledge and writing skills merge these elements seamlessly in a gripping story of murder, but it is Bernie who holds it all together even as he questions the absurdity of attempting normalcy during war. Mystery, historical fiction, and military history buffs will join existing Bernie fans in welcoming this latest installment in the series.”—Library Journal


A Book With A One Word Title

Honour by Elif Shafak:

An honor killing shatters and transforms the lives of Turkish immigrants in 1970s London.This is the third book I’ve read for Elif Shafak this year after The Bastard of Istanbul and The Architect’s Apprentice.




A Book of Short Stories

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri:

The title is taken from one of the stories in the collection which, like all the stories, explores the lives and loves of Indians in their native land and in their adopted, Western homes.





A Book Set On A Different Continent


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:

“Stalin deported and murdered millions, but he could not destroy the seeds of memory, compassion, and art that they left behind. From those seeds, Ruta Septeys has crafted a brilliant story of love and survival that will keep their memory alive for generations to come.”—Laurie Halse Anderson

Read my review here.


A Book of Non-Fiction

Complications by Atul Gawande:

A collection of 14 pieces, some of which were originally published in The New Yorker and Slate magazines, Gawande uses real-life scenarios – a burned-out doctor who refuses to quit; a terminal patient who opts for risky surgery, with fatal results – to explore the larger ethical issues that underlie medicine. He asks: How much input should a patient have? How can young doctors gain hands-on experience without endangering lives? And how responsible are these doctors for their mistakes?


The First Book By A Favourite Author/The Second Book In A Series

Underdogs by Markus Zusak (Wolfe Brothers, #1-3):

The first three novels by my all-time favorite author Markus Zusak. This trilogy includes The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry.





A Book I Heard About Online

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton:

The Miniaturist has generated a lot of buzz in the blogosphere. This post by Naomi Frisby convinced me to read it. I’m so glad I did.







A Best Selling Book

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom:

#1 New York Times bestseller, that has sold more than six million copies.





A Book Based Upon A True Story

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman:

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust” (The New York Times).


A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

I have no idea.


A Book Your Friend Loves

A Constant Suicide by Brian Krans:

My friend Kenna keeps introducing me to awesome books. This is one of her favorite books.

“One of my favorite books. Some may say this glorifies suicide, but it doesn’t. It has changed my life in a very good, positive way.” – Kenna




A Book That Scares You

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver:

Does motherhood scare me? YES! thanks to Eva Khatchadourian and her son!






A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto:

‘Two stories, “Kitchen” and “Moonlight Shadow,” told through the eyes of a pair of contemporary young Japanese women, deal with the themes of mothers, love, transsexuality, kitchens, and tragedy.’



A Book With A Blue Cover

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt:

A moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don’t know you’ve lost someone until you’ve found them








Reading Bingo Challenge 2014 is created by Retreat (Random House).


Review: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion.


GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world’s most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.
Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.

Then Rosie told me we had ‘something to celebrate’, and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.

I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.

The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace.

And of losing Rosie forever.


The Rosie Effect is the highly anticipated sequel to the hilarious book The Rosie Project. (I can’t believe it’s been a year already).

The book is set in New York City where Don and Rosie -married- are living now. Everything was going well until Rosie dropped a pregnancy bombshell. In Don’s words, I had been taken to the edge of an unstable equilibrium, and then struck with the maximum conceivable force. And that’s when Don’s relationship with Rosie starts to encounter difficulties.

 ‘Her mother died when she was ten. Even if her mother- her mother’s love- wasn’t perfect, Rosie had no chance to find out. So she went off looking for a perfect father, who didn’t exist, of course, and then she found a perfect husband.’

‘I’m not perfect.’

‘In your own way, you are. You believe in love more than any of us. There’s no grey with you.’

Although not as funny as The Rosie Project, I absolutely loved reading Don’s views on marriage and how he prepared to become a father. The book made me fall in love with Don all over again. These books will always be special to me.

‘Jeeesus,’ she said. ‘You don’t have any feelings at all.’

I was suddenly angry. I wanted to shake not just Lydia but the whole world of people who do not understand the difference between control of emotion and lack of it, and who make a totally illogical connection between inability to read other’s emotions and inability to experience their own.’

Around the web:

1- If you haven’t read The Rosie Project yet here’s 10 reasons why you should.

2-The Rosie Effect is out today and it has been getting good reviews already. Get a copy here.

3- Exciting news about The Rosie Project Movie.

Thanks to Mr.Simsion and Penguin books Uk for my advanced copy.

Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard.


When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.


My thoughts:

Set in Paris during the early nineties, Madame Picasso traces Eva Gouel’s(a.k.a Marcelle Humbert) life from the moment she leaves her hometown and moves to Paris where she works as a seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge until she becomes Madame Picasso.

“I am Marcelle.”

“And I am Picasso.”

“Yes, I know,” she said, smiling awkwardly at her own response.”

“But did you know also, mademoiselle, that I am going to paint you?”


Out of all the women in his life, Eva Gouel is the most elusive one.There’s not much written about her and this is why Madame Picasso is a very compelling story. Although Picasso have never painted Eva, a number of his works contained the words Jaime Eva. Or Jolie Eva. Ma Jolie.


A collage of shapes and warm colors came together like sweet music on the canvas. She marveled at how whimsical the painting was, and yet how sensual. It was another moment before she saw the inscription. Three small words that defined the canvas were painted into it. Jaime Eva. I love you Eva.

“Ma Jolie” Paris, winter 1911-12

The book sheds light not only on Picasso’s love life but his many friends as well and you get to know Picasso the man not the myth. I quite enjoyed reading about Guillaume Apollinaire, and Max Jacob. Highly recommended for those interested in art history, Picasso’s life and historical romance! Original and Compelling.

Madame Picasso around the web:

Buy: AmazonBookdepository


Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin MIRA for the advanced copy!

Publication: 26/08/14 by Harlequin

Word War II Fiction: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.


In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus



In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina’s father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?


My thoughts:

The history of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States (1940-1991) is not as well-known as that of Germany and the Holocaust. I myself had a limited knowledge of the brutality that Lithuanians experienced under the Soviet and the German occupation. This book is an eye-opening journey to this part of history.

Between Shades of Gray chronicles the 12 years Lina and her family spent at work camps in Siberia. When Lina was taken from her home she was only a teenager dreaming of becoming an artist. And it was this dream that kept her alive during those years. Drawing was the only thing the Soviet couldn’t take from her. Lina drew a lot but the only drawing in the book is of a map that shows the timeline and the locations that Lina and her family were sent to. I was really hoping to see some of her drawings; I think it would have added a lot to the story. A graphic novel would be great as well.


Although the story is fictional, many events were written after Ruta’s visit to Lithuania where she met some survivors from the Soviet annexation. Some members of Ruta’s family were deported to work camps or imprisoned; her grandfather was an officer in the Lithuanian army. He was on an execution list but he managed to flee to Germany and eventually settled in the U.S.

The one thing that bothered me was the abrupt ending of the book. I wasn’t prepared at all! I thought I had a 30 more pages to read but turned out it was a preview of Ruta’s next novel (Out of the Easy). You can only imagine how disappointed I was. I had so many questions about the characters. I wanted to know what happened to them in the future. What happened to Lina and Jonas? Did they find their father? What about Andrius and his mother?  Kretzsky?  The bald man?

Between Shades of Gray is without a doubt a brilliant story. It tells us that Love is the most powerful army. Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy. Love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit. And we certainly need more love in this world nowadays.


Find it on GoodreadsBookdepository (You can read an excerpt here.)

 Between Shades of Gray around the web:

 Connect with the author:



Word War II Fiction: August reading challenge.

There are many challenges and read-a-thons going on right now and since I wanted to do something special this august I’ve decided to dedicate this month to reading Fiction Set During WWII. 

Here’s what I’m planning to read:

  1. All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr.
  2. The book thief by Markus Zusak.
  3. A man without breath by Philip Kerr.
  4. The boy in the striped pajamas by John Boyne.
  5. Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys.
  6. The comeplete maus by Art Spiegelma.
  7. The night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque.
  8. A thread of grace by Mary Doria Russell.
  9. The guernsey literary and potato peel Pie society by Mary Ann Shaffer.


Feel free to join and dont forget to tag your posts using #WW2Fiction.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: review and interview with author Gabrielle Zevin

 A place is not really a place without a bookstore.

The Review

                                                                                                           A.J. Fikry is a bookseller and the owner of Island Books (which by the way has the most beautiful slogan ever: “No man is an Island, every book is a world”). If there’s one thing you need to know about A.J, well he is a big snob. He doesn’t like children books, fantasy, young adults, series, poetry, chick lit or even debuts. What does he like? Short stories!

A. J’s life is a big mess right now. His lovely wife Nic just died, the bookstore sales aren’t that good and to make matters worse his rare copy of Tamerlane by Edgar Allen Poe has been stolen. But all of this is about to change when a strange package appears at the bookstore.

We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.

The book is divided into chapters. Each chapter starts with A.J’s thoughts on different short stories. I quite enjoyed reading his opinion on The Luck of Roaring Camp & What We Talk about When We Talk about Love. The book is well written and the language is quite beautiful.The characters are unique in fact it’s probably the only book I’ve read and loved all of its characters with no exception (even Mrs.Cumberbatch!). Everyone should read this book. Eveyone!

We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.



The Interview

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is now a New York Times Best Seller, the #1 Indie Next Pick, and the #1 Library Reads Selection. How did this story come to you?

I published my first novel about a decade ago and these last ten years have been a time of enormous change for the publishing industry. For instance, when my first book came out, there were e-books, but no one read them! Essentially, I write books about issues I’m trying to figure out, and with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I wanted to write a book about why bookstores matter to a community and how the stories we read define our lives.


– Why did you choose to start the book with Rumi’s quote: Come on, sweetheart let’s adore one another before there is no more of you and me?

It’s interesting. No one has ever asked me that question before. It’s a love poem, of course, but it’s also about the temporary nature of all things —paper books, bookstores, childhood, parents, us. In life, it is sometimes tempting to act as if because something is impermanent, it has less value. But everything is impermanent. We must love what we love for as long as we can. We must honor what we love by acknowledging its impermanence.

– You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, what is your favorite book? What is yours?

Favorites are difficult. I’ve been telling people it’s Charlotte’s Web. I think it is such an incredibly wise novel about mortality, friendship, but also writing. Charlotte the Spider is kind of my Yoda. But it might just as well be Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. I love this book for its humor and narrative jauntiness. I just finished The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, and that’s my favorite book from this year, I’d say.

-Maya had a unique childhood. Have you thought about writing more about her? Maybe a sequel?

Yes, I have thought there was more to explore with Maya, but I don’t necessarily see myself writing a sequel anytime soon. I like where I’ve left everyone.

– A.J Fikry is a huge fan of short stories. What about you? Do you have any favorites?

I am a fan though I don’t write them. My favorite collection from last year was probablyBobcat by Rebecca Lee. For individual stories, let’s see… I love “Brownies” by ZZ Packer and “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” by Amy Hempel.




Many Thanks to Gabrielle Zevin for her time and kindness.

Grab yourself a copy from Book depository. You can also win a copy from Mensis Liber (till June 24th) – Thank you Kenna for introducing me to a great book.


Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books) That I’d Like To Own.

Top Ten Tuesday is bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week features a new Top Ten list (in case you didn’t notice I LOVE LISTS). This week’s list is about all the bookish things that I’d like to own.



1) Bookshelf: It’s really sad that IKEA decided to discontinue the EXPEDIT SERIES, I really liked those bookshelves. The new substitute Kallax looks pretty good. I hope I can one of those.
Expedit (left), Kallax (right)


2) PosterThis tfios limited edition poster from DFTBA.

3) Bookish mug: Super awesome mug from LennyMud.

4) Penguin Clothbound ClassicsWhat can I say I love pretty covers!


5) Frostbread candles: this is probably the best thing on this list. Fresh roses with a hint of lilac and hyacinth. How can anyone say no to this?


6) Bookish Tea: Prologue Tea Co. Too good to be true.

7) Tote bag: Awesome Great Gatsby tote bag from Out Of Print. Purchase of this bag sends one book to a community in need.

8) Bookend: The perfect bookend for The Rosie Project trilogy.


9) Library kit: My own library kit.


10) Book Journal: to keep track of books I’ve read.

What about you? Do you have a list of bookish things that you’d like to own?