Saturday, July 30, 2016

Monthly Rewind: July

3 Things About My Life This Month

A homemade lemon cheesecake with peach slices!

1. I spent an amazing final week in India. Our last week was filled with visits from family--I got to see my cousin after eight years and she's the only one who's around my age and it was so nice to catch up! My grandmother's best friend also flew down from North India to spend the weekend with us. She has a close friend who lives in the same city but who has a huuge house and we stayed up late watching movies, drinking wine, and grilling tandoori chicken and paneer on his barbecue. We also went on a long four kilometer walk on this road that's shaded by banyan trees, planted by a childless couple a few years ago. It was beautiful and I'm so grateful to have left India with so many wonderful memories.

2. I was on, arguably, the worst flight of my life. From Frankfurt to Newark our flight back home from India was turbulent and terrible. I was asked to participate in all kinds of additional security screening both in Frankfurt and in Newark (because, you know, I look low-key terrifying apparently) and, to top that off, they lost one of our bags on the flight. So. We did get our bag after three days, thankfully, but it was an experience I don't want to repeat.

3. I'm kind of getting into...booktube? I've enjoyed a lot of mediums of the book blogosphere that aren't traditional reviews, from podcasts to interviews and blog tours, but I've found it really tough to get into booktube. I don't find a lot of booktubers I like to listen to or watch or, really, whose tastes align with mine. I follow the bloggers I follow because I trust their recommendations implicitly but it's harder for me to know that on booktube because so many of the videos are fun tags. So, if you have recommendations of booktubers I should watch, let me know!! I really want to get into this sphere of book blogging but I don't know where to start or if I'm doing it right so...HALP!

Top 3 Books I Read this Month

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The Rose Society is the sequel to The Young Elites and is even better than its predecessor--a definite favorite of 2016. Hope and Red is a novel I practically just finished and I'm so impressed by it. It's an adult fantasy that took me by surprise and I'm really looking forward to the sequel already! And, of course, The Wise Man's Fear is brilliant. The sequel to The Name of the Wind, this book is as engaging as its predecessor and Patrick Rothfuss does not disappoint.

3 Most Popular Posts this Month

1. Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

2. 2016 Releases from the Second-Half of the Year that I Cannot Wait to Read

3. Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Post I Wish Got a Little More Love

Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I am just so impressed by this series. I've been struggling to find a YA Fantasy series that I can really get behind, especially since fantasy is the new "in" trend in YA now, and it isn't until I picked up this series that I actually found it. Most YA fantasy reads like fantasy-lite, rip-offs of epics like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones that have been re-written, with a few more love triangles and a lot less politics. It's a disservice, I think, to young adults who genuinely love fantasy and can take on the vicious, often violent nature of adult fantasy, including the complex world-building. I have high standards for my fantasy, so a lot of fantasy-lite that many readers have been loving have failed to make me join the bandwagon. But I totally adore this series--it's vengeful, full of politics, unpredictable (really!!) and the characters are all good and bad, falling into shades of gray. The Young Elites is great and its sequel is even better, which is a tough act since most YA Fantasy novels that even start off promising quickly veer away into disappointment. But not Marie Lu's sophomore series. Read. It. You won't be disappointed.

Posts I Starred in My Blog Reader this Month

Jennifer Aniston wrote this fantastic piece in the Huffington Post titled, "For the Record" talking about media--mainly paparazzi--coverage of the lives of celebrities and particularly celebrity women and what those expectations can do and how harmful they can be. Essentially, it's about objectification. Of course, I am all about women ranting about female injustices. Duh, I loved this piece.

Here's an article I came across titled, "Why You Could be Better Off Alone." I think everyone gets a lot of crap for being single or, more so, for doing things alone. For eating alone. For sitting at a table alone. For taking a vacation alone. I love doing things with my friends but too often I've just decided to not experience something if my friends weren't free or couldn't join me--and that's doing a disservice to myself. I firmly believe that you shouldn't let the perceptions of others dictate whether or not you do something by yourself. If we could all stop being sympathetic to the person eating their lunch or dinner by themselves and instead appreciate their courage and gumption and let them enjoy their time with their thoughts, I think we'll all be better off for it.

Obsession of the Month

If you follow me on Goodreads, you may have noticed that I sped through the entire Elemental Assassin series this past month. Yes, all fourteen released full-length novels and three of the novellas that are most important to the series. So, it's safe to say that I've obsessed with Jennifer Estep and her adult urban fantasy series, starring Gin Blanco and her whole crew of friends and family. I'll be posting a series review of the books that have been released (there are, so far, two more scheduled) later this month but let me just say: this is one hell of a good ride. Few writers can hold my attention for fourteen books, but Gin's adventures just get more and more interesting. They're never repetitive or boring or tedious, which can sometimes even happen after THREE books with the same protagonist, so I don't know how Estep does it, but it works. In fact, Book 12, Black Widow, is my favorite of the series and, IMO, the best book. Book 12. If you haven't already, and are a fan of UF, definitely don't miss out on this.

3 Things I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

1. Friends! I didn't manage to meet a ton of my friends in July, but I'm hoping to catch up with them in August--even some friends who live farther away!

2. Mentor! Wellesley's Hindu Chaplaincy is going through a weird phase right now, where our old chaplain left and an interim will be in place this year and then we'll finally get a new, official one the year after that. I'm really close with the chaplain and was so, so sad that she would be leaving Wellesley but, as luck would have it, she's moving to NJ! So I'll be seeing her next month, along with her family--who I am also irrationally attached to. She's been a mentor, teacher, friend and older sister to me during my time at Wellesley so I'm really looking forward to spending some time with her and introducing her to my family.

3. I'M GOING TO PARIS! As many of you know, I will be studying abroad in the South of France next semester. It's a program arranged through my college--although I applied to study in a different university from the one the program is linked to--and we have an eight-day orientation in Paris before we make our way to the South of France to meet our host families. I'm so, so excited about this entire semester since I've never been to Europe and this will be my first time--and what better city to begin my European journey with than Paris?

I'm also incredibly nervous, though. Of course, nervous about speaking French for four months, nervous about taking classes in French, nervous about conversing with my host family, nervous about the inevitable culture shock, nervous about making friends, nervous about signing up for my courses, etc. But I'm also nervous that Paris will...disappoint. I've been dreaming about Paris for YEARS. I've been seeing it in movies and television, envisioning it in my favorite books and memoirs and now...I'm so scared it won't live up to my expectations.

But, despite my fears, I can't really imagine that I won't love my time there. There are a lot of unknowns and new experiences which will be charging at me, head-first, all at the same time, but I'm sure that being in Paris will make them a whole lot more manageable.

What are you looking forward to next month? What books did you read this past month that were fantastic? Any exciting trips or plans to round out the summer? I'd love to hear in the comments below! (And don't forget to recommend me booktubers and, as always, books! If you have any places I shouldn't miss out in Paris--or all of France, for that matter--please let me know! I've never been to Europe and could use any and all advice!)


  1. Oh, God. Your life. Your life, Keertana. So full of adventures, scary and exciting adventures! I wish you all the best. I'm sure you'll do swimmingly well. I hope you'll keep us updated here because I live vicariously through people whose life is more exciting than mine. ;)

  2. Hello, so what are you majoring in college?

  3. I am afraid I am not a tbooktube gal. I liked to read blogs while watching tv so nah not for me

  4. My daughter read and loved The Young Elites and is eagerly awaiting the final book. I think my husband will read it when the 3rd book releases.

    I'm going to have to revisit Elemental Assassin. I listened to the first book and didn't really care for Gin, but seeing your love for the series makes me reconsider. Plus, I have the 2nd and 3rd audio already.

    You get to have a semester in FRANCE?!!! I'm so jealous! I hope you won't be disappointed by Paris. I do think its an amazing city, and even with high expectations it would be hard not to appreciate the beautiful architecture, history and wonderful food. Plus, chocolate! Maybe you'll find your own Sylvain or Dominique, lol!

    I'm actually flying there on Thanksgiving day and traveling to Bordeaux, Loire Valley and ending with seven days in Paris. I've already been, but I have a long list of things I didn't get to the last time I was there. Tea at Laduree, The Paris Opera House, Sacre Coer, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and Library at Invalides just to name a few.

    Wonderful post, Keertana! :)

  5. I'm so happy to hear you had a great time in India and got to see your cousin after so many years! Sorry about the plane ride though and the annoying people at the airport. sigh. It's rough out there, but it's great you are home safe and sound and it seems like you'll be having a nice August visiting with friends!

    And ooh Paris! My sister spent a couple weeks there with an exchange student (the French student stayed with us a couple weeks earlier that year) and she did love it, so I hope the experience is lovely for you too. I'm sure it won't disappoint. France sounds wonderful and my sister loved it - Paris and the other cities she visited.


  6. I'm living in the south of France, you need to tell me where you're going!

  7. OH MY GOSH YAY KEERTANA!!!! Jennifer Estep has been a longtime favorite author of mine, and I couldn't love her Elemental Assassin series more. I'm so excited you binge read the whole series! YESSSSSSSS!

    And your flight sounded miserable. I'm a terrible flyer anyway, so turbulent flights are just about the death of me. I should really take something to calm the nerves when I fly:)

  8. Okay you made me hungry (I want that pie!), glad you are safe at home (ugh flights!), and generally happy you had a good time and jelly of Paris (can I go? LOL). Hope that fight goes smoothly. I don't think I could do that. Granted I only know a very small smattering of French, when I've tried to speak it, Spanish comes out instead. Darn brain. You need to write about those adventures so I can live vicariously through you. :)

    I also want to read all of your 3 top reads this moth and so glad you caught the Elemental Assassin bug! :D

  9. I've found it really tough to get into booktube, too. I tried, but decided it’s just not for me in the end. If you find booktubers you like to watch, please share with us.


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