The Big Book Box | Review

In case anyone is wondering, I was paid no money to write this review. Or to post the photos that I’ll shortly be posting on Instagram. (Face it, nobody *pays* a book nerd with 100 followers on her blog to review their stuff.)

Now that that’s out of the way, hello all!

As everyone knows, I’m an avid follower of Booktube and I frequently suffer from a very serious affliction called “Owl-crate-envy” when I watch my favourite Youtubers unbox their fancy owl crates,. I’m certain I’m not alone in this. Right? Feel free to chime in indignantly in the comments, fellow-bookworms!

Weelllllll…. book lovers of India, I’m here to tell you that we have something of an equivalent in India! YES! Big shoutout to my friend Varsha who linked me to them! They’re called The Big Book Box . They have fun variants of their monthly boxes for people with different budgets as well as limited edition boxes. I ordered the Cappuccino box for myself, which is the biggest regular box, and decided to go only with a one month subscription because…well…money.

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Ooooooh wazzindis?

I’m going to tell you the negative things about the Big Book Box in this part of the post that shall come to be known for all eternity as the “pre-gushing”.

So, firstly, my box was very, very late. Their website says that they ship boxes ordered in the previous month in the first week of the month in question. I planned accordingly to have the box sent to my house, rather than my office, because I was home for the first two weeks this month. I figured it should definitely come by the 2nd week at least. BUT the box came today, the 23rd. So, I had to tell the irritated delivery guy who called me while I was at office, to give it to my elderly neighbour while my dog barked his head off that a rando is loitering outside his territory conversing with his human. Inconvenience all round. I’m chill with receiving the box anytime but I like to know with reasonable certainty.  So… that was an issue.  Maybe it was just a one-time thing. I’m unsure. 🙂

Secondly, one of the books that I was sent is a sequel. And I haven’t read the first book. I’m a bookworm with a serious book-buying problem. Why are you sending me three books, in addition to the three books I bought this weekend, and then making me buy a seventh book this month by making me buy the first part?*

Well, that was that with the complaints. Now, on to the loot!

This is how the box looks: ^_^

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As you can see, it’s a bright happy sky-blue, full of promises, like a clear summer day when you’re a kid.

It only gets better as you open it. The theme for the May Box is Women of Substance, which is fabulous on so many levels.

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The back of this card has a sweet letter from the management of the Big Book Box.

The box is a great collection of books, bookish merch, pretty goodies and FOOD.

They’d thoughtfully included a box of nachos and salsa so that I may munch as I read. That’s how I know for sure that the people who run The Big Book Box are true-blue bookworms.

They also sent a mason jar, which is something I’ve always wanted but which was a bit extravagant for me to buy for myself.  It will be put to good use during this sweltering tropical summer. 🙂 The best part is that it comes with a reusable hard plastic straw.

They sent a little scented candle, which the letter said is lavender-scented, which is one of my favourite fragrances. That’s a happy coincidence.

They also sent a cute floral coaster, which is a bit sad since I just bought uber-cool Batman coasters this weekend. It is pretty though, and probably more work appropriate that the Batman ones.

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One incredibly clever thing they’ve sent is a little sack of painted pebbles which can be used to play tic-tac-toe.

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So you lay this flat…
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…and then you tic-tac-toe!!!

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They sent bookish themed pins which took me back to a simpler time when my college bags were cloth and covered in pins. Let me tell you, guys, my pins were a conversation starter! Now I carry fancy leather handbags which truly stifle my original style, which is geek chic.

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That’s how they look!

They’re female-themed in addition to book themed (Well, except the first one below, which is universal :p) and I think y’all deserve a close-up of each of them.

They’ve sent a simple but charming Deathly-Hallows-themed dream-catcher which is a delightful addition to my happy wall.

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It dances in the breeze. 🙂

They’ve sent a Frida Kahlo bookmark. 😀

They also sent these information cards on inspirational women, along with lovely cartoons of them that I can’t stop staring at. Here’s a visual treat for you as well:

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And now we come to the item that I think will make more people eat their hearts out than anything else on here:

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THIS HARRY POTTER NOTEBOOK…

…Where the pages look like this:

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THOSE SYMPTOMS YOU’RE SUFFERING FROM? THAT’S CALLED A CUTENESS OVERDOSE.

And nowwww, the books! 😀

They sent the June issue of a magazine called Barefoot Sunshine, which is a name which makes me smile. It’s going to be my reward for finishing this post. If I like it, I may subscribe to it. They have a subscription option right on their website. I miss receiving magazines in the mail. 🙂

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The Cappuccino box has three actual books in it:

One is a paperback called Perfect by Cecelia Ahern. It’s the sequel to Flawed. That they’ve sent me a sequel upsets me, but the book itself seems interesting. So yay.

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They also sent a tiny hardback called Raymie Nightingale by Kate Dicamillo, which is giving off Jackie Wilson-esque vibes, which makes me happy.

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And now we come to the pièce de résistance, the book that has me the most excited, the book that I intend to read to my future children, the book that i am convinced will pass, well-loved and battered, through generations in my family is the best book that I could have ever hoped to see in my box:

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YAAAAAAAS

I will read one story from it each night, as suggested by the brilliant people at the The Big Book Box.

I definitely recommend that you buy this box at least once in your life. Indulge. Treat yourself. Why would you deprive your dad of the joy of coming home to you kneeling  by your teapoy fishing through packaging in a box while grinning like a maniac? Why would you miss the opportunity of having him chuckle that you look like a kid again as you rip bubble wrap off of your new mason jar? Get it, guys. Because it’s worth it.

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Go ahead and check them out. 🙂

Tell me in the comments if you guys have tried out the Big Book Box before, or if my review made you want to. :p Tell me if you’ve read any of the books here before, and what you thought of them. And mostly tell me which of my loot made you the most jealous! Let me know in the comments, guys!

Hoot.

–Sin

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*Purchase numbers indicated here are approximate and merely indicative and cannot be taken to include Kindle purchases

Ack! Help me categorise! 

Here’s the thing, guys. I’m reading Norse Mythology right now and I have a couple of non-fiction books I want to read after including The Big Short. So I thought I’d make the rest of May a non-fiction fortnight. But. BUT. IS a book about mythology truly non-fiction?! Or is it fiction? Help me figure it out. Please! I NEEDS TO KNOW. If I can’t figure it out, the rest of May will have to be called “Fortnight”. 

Give May a makeover, guys! Give me your opinion in the comments! 

Hoot

–Sin

Unexpected Book Recommendations and How I Deal With Them 

(Spoiler alert: I deal with them poorly.)

How have I never heard of Diana Wynne Jones?!

Some context: I am reading A View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. I am at the part of the book where he talks (has written?) about people he’s known.

I’ve just read the one about Diana Wynne Jones.(I have also flipped to the next page and seen that the next essay is about Terry Pratchett and I’m itching to read it. But first; this post.) I read the first few lines and then I said, “Who the fuck is Diana Wynne Jones?” I almost said it out loud, which was problematic, because I was in court at the time.

Then I googled her.

Apparently,  she is wildly popular, and has written a large number of books in the fantasy genre (which I adore).  She’s been compared to J.K Rowling (whom I adore) and to Gaiman himself (whom I have stopped adoring and started worshipping.). Neil Gaiman seems to delight in her writing, and it seems to be right up my alley. But I have never heard of her!! I’m in shock, if that wasn’t already evident.

But eh. Better late than never, right? Neil Gaiman said that he read her books in his twenties and it felt like coming home. I am in my early twenties. It seems to me to be a clear sign.

So… I went ahead and bought one of her books off Amazon and will be getting on to the task of remedying my ignorance as soon it is delivered.

Yes, it breaks my oath to not buy more books until my birthday.

No, I have no shame.

No, this isn’t even the first book I’ve bought since I started reading this book. I also bought Coralline on my Kindle earlier today. Heh. Whoops.

(Should I simply stop reading non-fiction, guys? It seems to be a downward spiral of more book-buying every time. Don’t answer that.)

I think that I’ll do daily posts about The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel after I start reading it.

I AM VERY EXCITED.

Now I’m off to read about Terry Pratchett!

Have you guys read Diana Wynne Jones? What do you think of her? What do you think of A View from the Cheap Seats? Do you like Neil Gaiman? Do you think I’m insane for buying so many books? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for now, guys!

Hoot

–Sin

 

 

 

Currently Reading — A View from the Cheap Seats

I am sitting in court and reading The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman while waiting. God bless the day I decided to install the Kindle application on my phone

I came across a delightful idea in one of his essays which I wanted to share with you guys. In the days when I was at college, I would have run to a friend’s room and gone into ecstacies. Now that I’m an adult, I am forced to attempt coherence in my excitement

(It occurs to me that the worst thing about adulthood is not the waking up early or the responsibility but the loneliness. What do you think? But I digress.)

Neil Gaiman has a brilliantly put opinion on the differing roles of a creator and an academic. 

It is the job of the creator to explode. It is the task of the academic to walk around the bomb site, gathering up the shrapnel, to figure out what kind of an explosion it was , who was killed, how much damage it was meant to do and how close it came to actually achieving that.

I agree with him completely. What do you guys think? Do you think you’re better suited to being a creator or an academic? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday Morning Commute Thoughts

I’m currently reading The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed. It’s the story of three Somali women who lived during the Somali civil war. It’s a beautifully written book and it prompted me to talk to you about the cathartic experience that is a good book. 

The weather is beautiful and even the fact that it’s Monday and I have a long day ahead of me does not take away from the joy that good prose gives me. 

As I grow older, I realise that being a writer isn’t just a childhood dream but a real, honest longing that I can’t overcome. As this longing increases in intensity, I notice the music that the written word produces more and more each day. 

Gone are the days when I sped through books, desperate to know what happens next. Now, after coming across a particularly delightful line, I set my book down and stare at the ceiling for a while, marvelling. I wonder what humans have done to deserve the delight that is language  And I thank my lucky stars for the family and the time I was born into. I hug the book to my chest. And I smile. As long as the words I’ve read dance on my tongue and in my mind, I stay smiling. 

I may take an extra day or an extra week to finish my book at this rate. And that’s okay. As long as there exist words that send me into ecstacies, everything will always be okay. 

“Kawsar closes her eyes in embarrassment, the kisses making her skin sing” That’s the latest line from the book that I’m delighting in. In case any one is wondering. But there are several brilliant lines in the book. Read it. 
Do you prefer plot-heavy stories or language-heavy stories? What kind of language are you more comfortable navigating; flowery or simple? Have you read this book or any of Nadifa Mohamed’s other books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Ghachar Ghochar | Book Review

This is a review of the book Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag.

This is a book originally written in Kannada, translated to English by Srinath Perur. I bought it on the recommendation of the owner of  Bookworm, which is one of my favourite stores in Bangalore. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author before. After buying it, though, I’ve started to notice this book everywhere. It seems to be gaining popularity by the day, and deservedly so.

I want to begin by saying how embarrassing and shameful it is that I read the English translation over the original text in my native tongue. The truth is, though, that I am a product of colonialism and schools that preach English hegemony like the pope preaches the Bible (I went to “good”schools, in other words.) and I am far more comfortable with English then any Indian language. My Hindi teacher told us that the key to learning a language is to think in that language and I’ve been thinking in English for as long as I can remember. I can read Kannada though, albeit far more slowly, so I am going to try and read the original text of the book at some point. Additionally, I want to read more books in Kannada. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Now to the book: The back of he book likens Shanbhag to Chekhov. I must confess that I’ve never read Chekhov, but if his books are anything like Ghachar Ghochar, I want to read him post haste.

The book is set in Bangalore, and I am partial to books set in Bangalore, which is my hometown. It is in the first person. The narrative is non-linear, which seems to be rather common these days in all literary fiction, but which continues to be one of my favourite literary styles. It is the story of the narrator’s family.

The story starts off at a café where the narrator sits, obviously in mental turmoil. His thoughts are meandering, and naturally drift in the direction of his family. He reminisces about his childhood and his family’s sudden rise to affluence. He reminisces about his past relationship and the state of his marriage. And as he remembers and thinks, a story emerges, mundane and yet, disturbing.

This book is definitely worth a read. It captures your imagination and makes you smile and worry and fret. It makes you care for the protagonist and his family. All this is in spite of the limitations of a translated version of any book. I really want to read the original.

Tell me what you thought of this book if you’ve read it. Also, suggest other good books written in Kannada.  What do you think of translated books in general?

Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for now, guys!

Hoot

–Sin

 

The Bone Clocks| Book Review

This is my review of the book The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

I don’t know what it is about books that have the word”Bone”in them. I always feel attracted to them. I don’t always enjoy them, but I always feel like reading them. Huh. Well, you’re welcome for the random insight into the twisted mind of the Sindhu. Now to the review:

This is my second David Mitchell book after Cloud Atlas, and I loved both even though they’re completely different books except that they both mess with your head. In a good way, of course. What even is the point of reading a book that doesn’t mess with your head at least a little? Am I right?

This book is a combination of all things good, in my opinion. It has all my favourite genres. Fantasy, bordering on science fiction; dystopic, futurisic elements; a family saga spanning generations; in one beautifully written, sophisticated brick. I read a major chunk of it over one delightfully undisturbed weekend. I adored this weekend, but it also broke my heart a little because it wasn’t that long ago that this is how I spent nearly all my weekends. Growing up is hard and painful. I’m grateful for books like this that let me in and give me a metaphorical window seat in a cottage in a meadow to have for as long as the book has pages.

The book starts with Holly Sykes, a fifteen-year old, who decides to run away from home because her mum doesn’t like her boyfriend. Simple enough, but then …it goes batshit crazy. Her running away changes the course of events completely for her whole family. My reaction through most of this book was, “What in the name of god is going on?” But when the plot finally resolved itself, oh, it was so completely delightful, I could have wept. I don’t want to give away much more of the story, though, because everything is a spoiler.

Some David Mitchell specialities that I’ve noticed in both of his books are: jumping through time in his narrative, skipping years, going into the past and the future with ease; changing perspectives from character to character flawlessly; and combining fantasy with social commentary so that you forget you’re reading fantasy until it whacks you in the face. Both of his books have fantastical elements but it’s more pronounced in the Bone Clocks.

I also really enjoyed the character development in this book. I am always enchanted by characters whom I root for despite their (sometimes) despicable flaws. I am convinced that I can never create a likable, relatable character, and that it takes skill that I simply don’t possess.

(I don’t know that you can take my word for the likability of a character, though, to be honest. I remember when I studied Julius Caesar in high school, and my professor told me that Shakespearan characters in his tragedies always had a ‘fatal flaw’ for which they needed to be punished, regardless of how virtuous they otherwise were. The way I view people and the world is somewhat different. I like most people when I first meet them. I do realise that there are bad things about them but nearly everyone I meet has that one redeeming, human quality that makes me want to hug them. Something that makes me go “aww”. People are…cute. They’re all grey and imperfect and worthy of love. I realise that this is naïve, and believe me when I say that liking people doesn’t lead me to trust them or count on them, so I’ll probably not get screwed over. So, worry not. The fact remains though, that it only takes one vulnerability to make me love a person.)

Yes. The princess of digression is back!

But, back to the Bone Clocks. Would I recommend it to other people? Hell yes. I feel like there’s something in here for everyone. And it’s a promisingly fat book, which is a huge plus. Give it a try, guys! Five stars from me.

That’s all for today!

Hoot.

Sin

Here are my social media links. I post cool things sometimes:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Book Haul!

Confession: I buy a lot of books! A lot more than I read these days, which makes me sad. I don’t usually do book hauls, because I don’t know if they work in blog posts as well as they do in videos.

However, I am particularly excited about this book haul because one of my favourite second hand bookstores in Bangalore, Bookworm, expanded. EXPANDED. In this day and age, when people are debating whether the time of independent bookstores and physical books is over, the owner bought a 5000 sq ft location and opened a brand new bookstore, moving from the tiny-ish basement location. I still adored the tiny basement location, of course, but this is something else!

I went at the beginning of this month and it was so beautiful, so spacious and just such a lovely atmosphere, that I simply HAD to buy a buttload of books, regardless of how many unread ones are already chilling at home. Judge me all you like, but I was helping the independent book-selling industry! What did you do with your effin’ day, huh, Judgment-face?

Anyway, here are the books that I bought, some second-hand, some shiny and new, but all discounted. Because I’m a loyal customer. And because I buy way too many books. 😛 IMG_20160410_180207710There. Books I’ve been dying to read, books I’d never heard of before, authors I’ve been dying to read… all in one beautiful picture. This picture sort of represents my reading style. A bit of fantasy, a bit of science fiction, a lot of literary fiction, a tiny smidgeon of non-fiction, a lot of humour, some Indian writing… but one thing is completely off, as I just realised: No women! I read a lot of women as a rule, consciously to be more diverse, but I also migrate towards women writers sub-consciously because I like their writing styles and the themes they write about. I’m surprised at myself.

Huh. Who knew that book hauls lead to so much introspection?

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Have you wanted to read any of them? Let me know in the comments!

Patti Smith Tells Me What to Read

When I was a kid, before the usage of the internet was popular, I bought my books exclusively by browsing through the bookstore and picking up what looked interesting. I didn’t always buy and read books belonging to series in the right order, allowing my imagination to fill in the bits that didn’t quite make sense. But the overleaf or the last page of the book would contain the names of the other books in those series and I would keep an eye out for them. When I finally found and read the prequels of the books that I had read first, it was a cathartic experience. I’ll never regret reading my books in this strange way. But it did mean that I ended up getting stuck reading a certain author or publisher a lot.

The only reason my reading didn’t stagnate is because I tended to gravitate towards books about people that read a lot and write a lot and want to be writers or are writers, as a kid. (Whom am I kidding? I still gravitate towards such books)
In these books, there would be those treasured times when these fictional people that I felt I could relate to so much, read real books by real authors. And then I would get extremely excited and go hunt down those books. I found one of my all-time favourite children’s books, A Little Princess, this way. New books! New worlds! So magical.

To date, I adore reading books about obsessive readers and writers; about people who didn’t drop their reading habits, blaming adulthood for their default. And I adore books about writing and the writing process even more. My all-time favourite book (Spoiler alert: It may be toppled soon by a new book) Bird by Bird is about writing. And nothing– NOTHING– can beat the joy of getting book recommendations from such books even in the age of Goodreads and Booktube.

One such book that I had been reading for a while now is M Train by Patti Smith. It’s her second memoir, and it released in 2015. I took some time to get my hands on it because of Amazon’s idiocy, and it took me some more time to make myself read it because of the enormous number of unread books I have. I decided to start it over after reading about a third of it because I wanted to annotate it. After all of these obstacles keeping us apart, I finally finished reading it last morning. She reads like me, but more so; getting obsessed with authors, with stories, with the lives of the fictional people in those stories, etc. And she has made me fall in love with her and with all of the things she loves. She thinks of writing as prayer, the way I do. I feel like she just gets me.  I got so many book recommendations, so many author recommendations from her, that I felt cross-eyed. I wonder how many books I’ll own and have read by the time I’m her age.

In one part of the book, she speaks about how much she loves Mikhail Bulgakov, and I’ve had one of his books on my shelf for absolute ages and I bought another one recently. So… I’ve decided that it’s time to give this Russian writer a chance, even though I have a rubbish record of finishing Russian books. I haven’t finished anything by Tolstoy, I didn’t finish Doctor Zhivago, or anything by Gogol till date. I just think that the Russians have a style of writing that involves a hell of a lot of backstory and digression, and I’m unused to that style. Maybe once I’m accustomed to it, I’ll actually be able to read the other authors too: Especially Pasternak, because  Doctor Zhivago has such an interesting premise, which is right up my alley and I really, really want to be able to finish it.

So get tuned for two Bulgakov books in a row, and stay tuned because it’ll take me forever at the speed I’m reading these days.

What do you guys think of Patti Smith’s books? Her music? Do you like Bulgakov? Do you read any Russian literature? Tell me in the comments!

Here are my customary social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Keeping reading, guys!

Cheers.

Hoot,

Sin

Literary Would You Rather

I’m stealing and answering the questions published by 101 Books. He’s done 6 of these and I’m randomly doing the third one because I like the number three.

So… Let’s begin!

Would you rather have to read backwards or read upside down?

Upside-down seems easier, although it would slow me down. I’ve tried to read upside-down in the past with reasonable success, so I’ll go with that.

Would you rather be a man named Evelyn Waugh or a woman named George Eliot (both famous authors)?

I know for a fact that George Eliot chose to call herself that. Her actual name is Mary Ann Evans. This is something I learned in primary school when we studied an extract from The Mill on the Floss.

Evelyn Waugh, however, was given the name Evelyn. It was one of his middle names, to be fair, and he chose to call himself Evelyn as well, but I still feel like George Eliot had more choice in the matter. For some reason.

Also. Girls called George! Famous Five! Big, big fan. I wanted to be a guy for a few years because of feisty, curly-haired George.

So, I’d definitely want to be a woman author called George Eliot. 😛

Would you rather have to live through Stephen King’s The Shining or James Dickey’s Deliverance?

<SPOILER ALERT>

If I do want to be menaced and have murder attempted on me, I’d rather these things not be done to me by my dad. Also, I’d rather not have the supernatural involved.

So… Deliverance would be my answer.

However, I haven’t actually read Deliverance, but I have read The Shining, so maybe my answer will change once I read both books. Who knows?

Would you rather permanently be two-feet tall and completely literate, or normal size and permanently illiterate?

Two feet and completely literate. Hands down.

Would you rather read Infinite Jest or get hit in the head with Infinite Jest 10 times (it’s 1,100 pages and more than 480,000 words)?

I’d rather read it. In fact, I own it and intend to read it eventually. 😛

Would you rather have Scarlett O’Hara as your wife or as your mother?

Dear God. I abhor Scarlett. ABHOR her. I know she isn’t meant to be likable and she’s a strong woman, blah blah blah, but the idea of being related to her just brought back all thoughts of how much I hate her.

I don’t know how awful it would be to have her as a mother, because my mother is a wonderful person and an even better mother, but I do think marriages are for life and that’s easily 30 to 40 years of my life as opposed to the 18 or 20 with my mother. Hard cold logic. Very helpful. Always.

(That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in divorce because marriage is a sacrament, or anything like that. It just means that I’d like any marriage I get into to be for the long haul, and I think that divorce is a hassle. Plus, if I married Scarlett O’ Hara, I would judge myself big time.)

God, what horrible questions! Hahaha. They were fun to answer, though. You should try too. Here are the answers that 101 Books gave to his own questions. Enjoy! 😀

That’s all for today,

Hoot.

Sin

Here are my social media links. You know the drill:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer