How To Read Literature Like A Professor – Thomas C. Foster: Book Review

Summary:

What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey? Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface — a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character — and there’s that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.

In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun.

Review:

Rating: 5/5 stars

Thomas C. Foster is your friend and favorite professor rolled into one. How To Read Literature Like A Professor solved a lot of my problems, and I can assure you, it will do the same for you, provided you are reading it for the right reasons.

Firstly, I’d like to mention that this book is used in a lot of colleges/high schools as a legit recommended reading. (LUCKY YOU). In my opinion, every English class in high school or an undergraduate year should use this book to make lives easier. I am not even exaggerating.

I am an English major in my 2nd year of college as an undergraduate, and this book helped A LOT (understatement). But that shouldn’t be a surprise, the book seems to have been written exclusively for English majors. Right? Wrong.

How To Read Literature Like A Professor isn’t only for us poor fellows doomed with a lifetime of overanalyzing. We learn all this in class anyway, albeit not in such a clear and fun way. This book is for anyone who reads. Any bibliophile who would like to really understand a book. You don’t need to be studying Literature to know a book, to read a book properly. This guide book of sorts gives you a completely new and enriched insight to literature.

If you are a student of literature, doing your masters or PhD, this might not be very useful to you. Foster mainly explains key concepts and tricks that help you read literature, and fill in the gaps your high school English teacher or college professor should have filled (They never do. They’ll expect you to know all this magically).

Foster uses a lot of examples in this book, but it shouldn’t be a problem, because (a) the examples are from pretty common books and (b) whenever he mentions a book, he explains the plot and other details so that you can understand the context.

Conclusion:

I highly recommend this book to all book lovers who need a little help to get to know books better. Not only is Foster’s writing witty and fresh, it also motivates you to go and read some books and really understand them.

Happy Reading!

~Sreepurna 💖

The List // Beauty and the Beast Retellings : Readalongs and Reviews (#BATBretellingthoughts)

QOTD: Do you know of any Beauty and The Beast Retellings? Are any of the books I have listed in your TBR?


As promised, here’s the list of Beauty and The Beast retellings that I know of, that I have read or intend to read in the near future.

(Read)

1. Beastly – Alex Flinn: Review coming soon. Also, I intend to watch the movie soon. Because Alex Pettyfer.

2. Lord Of Scoundrels (Scoundrels #3) : Loretta James : Review coming soon. Can be read as a standalone.

3. When Beauty Tamed The Beast (Fairy Tales #2) – Eloisa James : Can be read as a standalone. Review coming soon.

4. A Court Of Thorns And Roses (A Court Of Thorns And Roses #1) – Sarah J. Maas : Who hasn’t read this? I won’t do a normal review, but I might tell you about how this book was a perfect retelling of Beauty and The Beast.

(TBR)

5. Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hudge : Heard great things. And the cover? Dayum ❤

6. Uprooted – Naomi Novik : Fantasy. And as far I have heard, it has a “whimsical” writing style. Which kinda intimidates me so Idk what to do about this book 😂

7. A Rose In Winter – Kathleen E. Woodiwiss : Historical romance I am guessing? I have read Woodiwiss’ novels before. They are entertaining enough but a bit dragging.

8. Beauty – Robin McKinley : Well, now that’s a direct reference to BATB. We’ll see how the story goes 🙂

9. Hunted – Meagan Spooner : This fantasy (?) novel recently came under the spotlight so I am intrigued.

10. Seven Nights In A Rogue’s Bed (Sons of Sin #1) – Anna Campbell : Obviously this is only for readers like me who don’t mind the (more than) occassional trashy romance. Hey, they are delicious okay? No judging.

So let’s go over the rules again:

If you want to join,

1. Review any of these books / Take a picture of it and post it on Instagram if it’s on your TBR

2. Basically let’s just discuss and fangirl and debate.

3. Tag me in the blogpost or the Insta post.

4. If it’s an Insta post, add #BATBretellingthoughts

OR

You can just read the reviews that’ll be coming soon and comment your thoughts and just like the post 😂 I don’t ask for much 😂😂

Let me know your spoiler free thoughts about any of these books.

~ Sreepurna.

How to motivate yourself to study (10 steps) // Study motivation tips 

I haven’t done a non-book-review post in ages!😂

I am a freshman in college, and my first semester just ended. Can’t motivate yourself to study? Trust me, there is no one more sympathetic than I am. But if your finals are near, and you just CAN’T sit long enough to study, here are some things that can help you to concentrate more, and be more inspired to study.

Comment below if you already use any of these tricks or found this article useful! ^_^

1. Get inspiration! : Studyblr

Studyblr is this community on Tumblr that post pictures and tips and tricks about studying. They post about everything study-related, and I swear this is SO inspiring. When you see other people studying and working hard, it triggers this part of your brain, and makes you go, “Hey, I can do this too!”. If you aren’t on Tumblr, you can search with the same keyword on Google Images or Pinterest.

However, like all things Tumblr, studyblr is also very addictive, and sometimes you just end up wasting a lot of time looking at pictures of other people working instead of getting your own work done. So I’d suggest you do this a while before you start your actual preparations. That way you’ll be inspired, but it won’t take away the crucial hours of the week before the finals.

2. Dress for success 

I am not telling you dress up like you are going to a party, no. Dress comfortably, be relaxed. But sometimes getting too comfortable makes you feel lazy, specially if you already have a habit of falling asleep while studying. So dress a LITTLE less homely, maybe wear a pair of jeans instead of PJs?

3. Search for your study space. 

It doesn’t matter where you study as long  as you can concentrate there. I know everybody says that you shouldn’t study on your bed, but I don’t own a study desk, and my bed is where I get most of my studying done. It’s completely your own decision. You can also try a library or somewhere outdoors if that’s what works for you.

4. Tidy it up!:  Clean your study space

This one is a no-brainer. The moment a desk or your bed is cleaner, you’ll feel more motivated to begin working. So pop those headphones and start cleaning that messy desk before your finals week, and KEEP IT CLEAN.

5. Start planning: Schedule

You don’t need any fancy BuJo (although I am guilty of using a DIY-ed one 🙈 ). Just get a clean piece of paper, decide your study schedule for the day or preferably the whole week. Working with a checklist next to you is VERY motivating and you’ll definitely be more driven to finish your work, and put that tick on your schedule page.


6. Words mean a lot: Inspirational quotes

I used to hate those typical inspirational sayings, but during exams they just make so much sense. By nature I am an unambitious person, and that is VERY detrimental to my studies. These quotes make me want to work harder and achieve something, even if the feeling is temporary.

Tip : You might want to put these quotes somewhere where you’ll see it often. Like maybe as your phone wallpaper?

Check Pinterest for more, but REMEMBER TO GET BACK TO STUDYING.

7. Phone a friend!: Discuss studying with friends

I am against group study because I love my friends and I have too much fun with them to put all that aside and actually study. But, when you aren’t together, it’s easier to change the topic when you are texting. Try texting about studying. Ask them what they are studying now, how much they have completed. Also, if they have any doubt, explain the topic to them, and you’ll be done with your own revision that way.

8. Take what you need

Before sitting down for a study session, take out all that you might need, so that you don’t have to get up again and again to bring over stuff. This decreases distractions. (I feel like making a post about “Things you need for a study session” 😂) (I am on a roll)

9. Keep away distractions

I ALWAYS need my phone to study because I study a LOT of things online (Sparknotes, JSTOR, Wikipedia :p ), so it’s very difficult for me to keep away distractions. I can neither switch off the phone, nor turn off the WiFi. So what I do is turn off notifications for Whatsapp and other apps, and I also close any tabs that might distract me (like Kindle. How many times have you started reading a book when you should be studying?)

10. Be creative : Make your notes pretty 

Don’t spend a lot of time on this. Most people think this is an utter waste of time, my friends have even laughed at my notes, but this works for me. I like being creative and artsy, so decorating my notes is one way to make myself sit with my notebook and read the material. If you are a very studious person who uses up every second to study, or if you are a person who does not study AT ALL and won’t know where to draw the line, I suggest you don’t do this. But it’s fun. And colourful notes help you remember things better.

…………………

However, these are just some tricks that worked for ME. I hope it works for you, but obviously we are all different people and I can’t guarantee you that these tricks will work for sure.

Remember to comment and follow me for more such articles!

~ Sripurna ❤

*All photos used are taken by me. Please use credit in case you use it again.*

A Torch Against The Night (AEITA #2) ~ Sabaa Tahir : Review

Summary

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.


Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.


But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.


Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Review :

Rating : 4 /5 

Thank you Harper Collins India for the review copy. ❤ 

Okay so don’t kill me. I know EVERYBODY loved this book. And while I admire Tahir’s writing style, the story was just not my type. First of all, I am tired of these brave young things saving the world. It’s too cliche right now,  after the numerous fantasy or dystopian novels we have read about the same topic. Moreover, there wasn’t a single character I could relate to. I respected them all, Laia, Elias, Helene – they are marvellously courageous people, but they aren’t close to my heart. I did not like the path the story took, some actions were unnecessary. Also, somehow Helene started taking up a huge role, shadowing Elias and Laia, and because I didn’t like her from the first book itself, I resented the fact that she took up the limelight. The lack of emotions in the characters also tires me. The AEITA fandom showers love and emotion, but the characters themselves are so stoic, even in the saddest situations. I get that it’s part of who they are, the plot requires them to be this way, but I don’t necessarily like it. 

All this being said, I think this book is WONDERFUL with respect to the writing quality. The sentences are beautifully constructed, and the world-building has been vivid. The language used is so very appropriate with that setting.

There were surprise elements which shocked the hell out of me, and I was moved by many of the scenes. There is a lot of intelligent action in this book. Sabaa Tahir is an amazing author, however, I believe this just isn’t my genre anymore. 

~ Sripurna ❤

“Tanya Tania” by Antara Ganguli : Review 

Tanya Tania

Antara Ganguli


Summary:
“Last night there was a snowstorm that made my window disappear. I woke up gasping at the heater. This is my first letter in three years. First letter since I left Pakistan. First letter since Nusrat. “

Tanya Tania is a story about two young women coming of age in two countries that are coming of age. Tanya Talati in Karachi and Tania Ghosh in Bombay, daughters of college best friends, write to each other of what cannot be said to anyone else: a mother who has gone from quiet to silent, sex that has become a weapon, a servant with unforgettably soft hands and a country beginning to play with religion. When Tanya’s brother receives a kidnapping threat, she sets in motion what no one could have predicted, least of all Tania, who finds herself alone in a forbidden bazaar in Bombay, listening to the sounds of a riot torn city coming closer and closer and closer . . .



Written in letters that span six years, Tanya Tania is a story of what it means to be between childhood and adulthood at a time when two countries are struggling with what it means to be Indian and Pakistani, rich and poor, confident and lonely. A story of love between girls, between families and between countries, Tanya Tania, is, at its heart, a love story about what it means to be human.



Review:

4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending me a review copy of this book.

Things I liked about this book:

• For the past few years, I have read almost nothing by any Indian author. I have always had a prejudice against them (you can’t blame me, because the prime examples of Indian authors seem to be Chetan Bhagat and Durjoy Dutta, and I have tried readingtheir books. Enough said) . But recently I came across a few other books which totally changed my perspective. Antara Ganguli’s Tanya Tania is one such example.

 Tanya Talati and Tania Ghosh, both were extremely well-constructed and realistic characters.

The concept of a book through letters is something I loved. The only other time I have come across this concept was Cecelia Ahern’s Love Rosie, I had loved it then, I love it now.

Tanya Tania also taught me some parts of the history of our country, about the last decade of the 20th century.

Things I didn’t like about this book:

The ending was sort of anticlimactic. It just wasn’t enough, because the whole book was built towards the ending, but it just fell flat there.

I couldn’t relate to either Tanya or Tania. They were supposed to be normal teenagers I am guessing? But I couldn’t relate.

Overall:

Even though the story falls slightly flat, the writing style and the small and big lessons you learn from this book cannot be ignored. If you ask me whether you should read it, I’d say yes, definitely.

~Sripurna.

What Lies Between Us : Review

What Lies Between Us

Nayomi Munaweera

288 pages

Pan Macmillan

*ARC provided by publishers in exchange for an honest review*

Rating: 5 STARS

Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors comes the confession of a woman, driven by the demons of her past to commit a single and possibly unforgivable crime.


“The walls of my cell are painted an industrial white, like albumen. They must think the color is soothing. Where I come from it connotes absence, death, unrelenting loneliness.”


In the idyllic hill country of Sri Lanka, a young girl grows up with her loving family; but even in the midst of this paradise, terror lurks in the shadows. When tragedy strikes, she and her mother must seek safety by immigrating to America. There the girl must reinvent herself as an American teenager to survive, with the help of her cousin. Both love and loss fill her life, but even as she assimilates and thrives, the secrets and scars of her past follow her into adulthood. In this new country of freedom, everything she has built begins to crumble around her, and her hold on reality becomes more and more tenuous. When the past and the present collide, she sees no other choice than to commit her unforgivable final act. This is her confession.


REVIEW:

The walls of my cell are painted an industrial white”

Devastating. Disturbing. Mind-boggling.

This twisted tale of a young girl who is wronged, turning into a woman whose shadows of the past force her to commit an unforgivable crime, won’t let you breath for a long time since you keep the book down.

What Lies Between Us is a story filled with a lot of suspense. The brutal honesty in the narrator’s voice just makes it more believable. Its one of those randomly picked books which are surprisingly engrossing.

I was born in Sri Lanka, a green island in the midst of the endless Indian Ocean”

The narrator is a fresh character, and this entire Sri-Lankan background in the story taught me a lot about the culture in that country (which is a lot similar to ours). The author also uses small, seemingly irrelevant stories or tales in the middle of the story, which gives you subtle hints about what MIGHT happen, without revealing much. Munaweera keeps you guessing things till the very last page of the book.

I finished this book in one morning, so fair warning, don’t sit with it unless you have quite a bit of time, because I assure you, you won’t be able to put it down.

Lastly, I’ll warn you again, this book is devastating. It’s dark, so very, very dark. It is going to ruin your perception towards things, disturb your very core with its candor. Read it only if you can handle it.

Thank you Pan Macmillan for giving me the opportunity to review this wonderful book.

~Sripurna

The Queen Of The Tearling: Review

THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING 

ERICA JOHANSEN

SUMMARY:

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.


Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.
Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.
Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”
Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.



RATING: 3.5 stars

REVIEW:

Things I liked about this book: 

The presence of an unique main character. Kelsea Glynn is not the self-sacrificing Katniss, neither is she the bold and beautiful Celaena Sardothien. She has her own personality, and its a breath of fresh air.

The Tearling world has a new aura to it, which is different from any other book I have read.

Character development is fabulous. Kelsea, the Mace, and even Queen of Mortmesne are all deep characters with lots of shades to them.

Things I didn’t like about this book:

Very slow beginning.

I am a romance-genre person. This book has no romance in it. I know that’s a prejudiced opinion, but I’m making it clear– this is NOT a shortcoming of the book, its just a reason why I personally wasn’t very excited about it.

Okay so I am shallow thay way. Deal with it.

Maybe because I read this just after finishing a Sarah J. Maas book, but I found the writing style of The Queen Of The Tearling quite boring.

Overall:

If you want to read a book with a strong female protagonist, adventure and interesting characters, featuring a fantasy world, and want a break from romance, The Queen Of The Tearling it is.

~ Sripurna.