So many good books to look forward to in March!! Here are a few that I’m excited to read! If you’re interested in any of them, be sure to check out my links to learn more and purchase a copy for yourself! All purchases made through the links below go to support this site.

 Anita de Monte Laughs Last
Xochitl Gonzalez
“…mesmerizing novel about a first-generation Ivy League student who uncovers the genius work of a female artist decades after her suspicious death.”

Pub Date: March 5

Thunder Song: Essays
Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe
“….razor-sharp, clear-eyed collection of essays on what it means to be a proudly queer indigenous woman in the United States today”

 Pub Date: March 5

The Inhumans and Other Stories: A Selection of Bengali Science Fiction
Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay
“first English translation of a cult science fiction favorite by Hemendra Kumar Roy, one of the giants of early Bangla literature, and other sf stories from the colonial period in India”

Pub Date: March 12

Say Hello to My Little Friend
Jennine Capó Crucet
“Scarface meets Moby Dick in this groundbreaking, darkly comic novel about a young man’s attempt to capitalize on his mother’s murky legacy—a story steeped in Miami’s marvelous and sinister magic.”

Pub Date: March 5

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension
Hanif Abdurraqib
“a clarion call to radically reimagine how we think about our culture, our country, and ourselves.”

Pub Date: March 26

Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout
Cal Newport
“Do Fewer Things. Work at a Natural Pace. Obsess over Quality.”

Pub Date: March 5

The Formula: How Rogues, Geniuses, and Speed Freaks Reengineered F1 Into the World’s Fastest-Growing Sport
Joshua Robinson & Jonathan Clegg
“riveting saga of how Formula 1 broke through in America, detailing the eclectic culture of racing obsessives, glamorous settings, gearheads, engineering geniuses, dashing racers, and bitter rivalries that have made F1 the world’s fastest growing sport.”

 March 12

Twelve Trees: The Deep Roots of Our Future
Daniel Lewis
“global exploration of nature and survival as seen via a dozen species of trees that represent the challenges facing our planet”

March 12

All Are Welcome: Wherever You Go
Alexandra Penfold (Author), Suzanne Kaufman (Illustrator)
“…modern and inclusive picture book that celebrates the many milestones of a child’s life ranging from a school play to graduation…”

 March 12

Islas: A Celebration of Tropical Cooking—125 Recipes from the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean Islands
Von Diaz
“…intimate reflection on tropical island cooking’s bold flavors and big stories, with 125 recipes…”

 March 12

Hi, Friends! I hope you had a good reading month! I got a chance to read some wonderful books in February – some old, some new, some yet to come! As always, I have a one-word review of the titles books below, but please head to my shop to learn more about these books and purchase a copy of any that catch your interest! (All purchases made using the link help support my site!)

P.S. Distilling my thoughts down to one word to describe these incredible books is really, really hard!! 🙂 I will have longer, professional reviews coming for The Formula and The Wives, so stay tuned for when those are published! For the others, be sure to follow me on Instagram @gracerajendran for brief reviews as I read them!

The Formula: How Rogues, Geniuses, and Speed Freaks Reengineered F1 Into the World’s Fastest-Growing Sport by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg (March 12): ENTERTAINING!

A Garden Called Home by Jessica J. Lee and Elaine Chen (March 5): HEART-WARMING!

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie: FUN!

Whalefall by Daniel Kraus: SUSPENSEFUL!

The Gulf by Adam De Souza: EVOCATIVE!

Slow Productivity by Cal Newport (March 5): THOUGHT-PROVOKING!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer: RIVETING!

The Wives by Simone Gorrindo (April 9): ENGROSSING!

Happy Reading!

Inks & Accoutrements for my 100 Day Project/2024

What is The 100 Day Project?

Every year, starting February 18, thousands of people around the world participate in a free community project known as “The 100 Day Project.” The purpose is simple – to unlock dormant creativity, encourage consistent creative practice and joy, and/or to improve pre-existing skills by repetition and practice. All are welcome to join in and the project can be anything that inspires you. Possible commitments could include: listing three things daily that you are grateful for, spending 10 minutes a day learning a new language, knitting one row of a scarf, or learning one guitar chord each day. It can literally be anything that you would like to spend time learning about or practicing.

What I’m doing for my own 100 Day Project in 2024:

I have a large number of beautiful fountain pen inks and I am really into fine writing and stationery! Unfortunately, I don’t get to use all of my stash regularly, so this project is the perfect way for me to give my inks some love. Therefore, this year, my project will be to swatch my fountain pen ink collection!

What are the supplies I’ll be using? Mainly a paintbrush and dip pens in a 2023 A6 Hobonichi planner. I never got around to using it as a planner last year and, this way, this beautiful journal will have a second life! I also ordered Col-o-dex rotary card refills that I will also be swatching to create a customizable catalogue of all of my ink, present and future! (See photo below. I got mine from Cult Pens.)

I’m looking forward to sharing my progress here and also on Instagram. You can follow me @gracerajendran and the hashtag #GraceRajendran100DayProject .

How long will my project take?

Since it takes time to create the pages, photograph things, and write up posts, I am going into this realistically noting that I will take more than 100 chronological days to complete this project. And I am absolutely fine with that! So many times, I find myself rushing through challenges and tasks to post an end-result on social media or meet some other arbitrary deadline. We have so many deadlines in our (day) jobs anyway, that I want to leave them out of my creative practice as much as I can. So, for this project, I want to take my time, enjoy the process, learn what I want to learn, and do things as slowly as I need, or want, to.

How you can share your own project:

All are welcome to share their 100 Day Project progress on Instagram using the hashtags: #The100DayProject and #DoThe100DayProject.

Some of my inks

Col-o-dex rotary cards

Here are the new releases in February that I’m excited for! I have reviewed JoyFull so when that review is published, I’ll link to it here and make a separate post for it but, in the meantime, here are some brief blurbs from the publisher. As always, I’ve created a collections page on my store where you can learn more about each book and author and purchase a copy if you’d like!

MY BELOVED LIFE by Amitava Kumar
An absorbing, exceptionally moving novel that traces the arc of a man’s life, an ordinary life made exceptional by the fact that he has loved and has been loved in turn. (Feb 27, 2024; Knopf)

THE FOX WIFE by Yangsze Choo
Manchuria, 1908. In the last years of the dying Qing Empire, a courtesan is found frozen in a doorway. Her death is clouded by rumors of foxes, which are believed to lure people by transforming themselves into beautiful women and handsome men. Bao, a detective with an uncanny ability to sniff out the truth, is hired to uncover the dead woman’s identity.
(February 13, 2024; Henry Holt & Co.)

THE BOOK OF LOVE by Kelly Link
In the long-awaited debut novel from bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Kelly Link, three teenagers become pawns in a supernatural power struggle.
(February 13, 2024; Random House)

SMOKE AND ASHES: Opium’s Hidden Histories by Amitav Ghosh
Ghosh unravels the impact of the opium trade on global history and in his own family―the climax of a yearslong project.
(February 13, 2024; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

1927. Olivia “Livy” West is a fearless young pilot with a love of adventure. She yearns to cross oceans and travel the skies. When she learns of the Dole Air Race—a high-stakes contest to be the first to make the 2,400 mile Pacific crossing from the West Coast to Hawai’i—she sets her sights on qualifying. But it soon becomes clear that only men will make the cut.
(February 6, 2024; MIRA)

An abandoned English manor. A peculiar missing portrait. A cozy, deviously clever murder mystery, perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Anthony Horowitz.
(February 13, 2024; Hanover Square Press)

JOYFULL by Radhi Devlukia-Shetty
A passionate self-taught cook and nutritionist, Radhi Devlukia-Shetty’s JoyFull is abundant and inviting. With more than 125 plant-based recipes, it is designed to balance health and satisfaction.
(February 27, 2024; S&S/Simon Element)

In this uplifting memoir, a professor and activist shares what birds can teach us about life, social change, and protecting the environment. Trish O’Kane is an accidental ornithologist. In her nearly two decades writing about justice as an investigative journalist, she’d never paid attention to nature. But then Hurricane Katrine destroyed her New Orleans home, sending her into an emotional tailspin.
(February 27, 2024; Ecco)

THE CURE FOR BURNOUT: How to Find Balance and Reclaim Your Life by Emily Ballesteros
In The Cure for Burnout, burnout management coach and TikTok influencer Emily Ballesteros combines scientific and cultural research, her expertise in organizational psychology, and the tried-and-true strategies she’s successfully implemented with clients around the globe to demystify burnout for our post-pandemic world – and set you on a path toward a life of personal and professional balance. 
(February 13, 2024; The Dial Press)

ON LOCATIONS: Lessons Learned from My Life On Set with The Sopranos and in the Film Industry by Mark Kamine and Mike White
This page-turning account of starting at the lowest rung on the production ladder among enormously famous & outrageously demanding people will be devoured for its insights, gossip, humor, & storytelling. Married and with a child, the author takes unpaid gigs to get a foot in the door, and eventually ends up working on all seasons of The Sopranos, often named the best TV show ever.
(February 6, 2024; Steerforth)

BIG MEG: The Story of the Largest and Most Mysterious Predator that Ever Lived by Tim Flannery and Emma Flannery
Internationally bestselling author and renowned scientist Tim Flannery and his daughter, scientist Emma Flannery, deliver an informative-yet-intimate portrait of the megalodon, an extinct shark and the largest predator of all time.
(February 6, 2024; Atlantic Monthly Press)

What books are you looking forward to in February and are there any here that you’re interested in checking out? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram!

Happy Reading!

The ocean has been on my mind for weeks now… 


Receiving a beautiful, old copy of Moby-Dick for Christmas has really made me want to read some books set on the ocean this year. I’m not ready to re-read Moby-Dick (again), but I’ve never read Hemingway’s Old Man And The Sea and I’ve been wanting to for a while so that’s on my list for March.

However, I’ll be starting off the year with a book that was just published this month and that I’m eager to read! Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Karr Roberts. I talked about it in a couple of posts this month already if you’d like to read more about it!

And, in February, I will be reading Whalefall by Daniel Kraus because I’ve been intrigued by it for months now! Publisher MTV Books describes it as a “scientifically accurate thriller about a scuba diver who’s been swallowed by an eighty-foot, sixty-ton sperm whale and has only one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out.”

I’m not going to write out my list for the entire year because I want to be able to add things that I may discover as the months go by.

You can read more about and purchase copies of these books on my page HERE.

I LOVE literary totes and have quite the collection – totes I’ve bought, totes I’ve been sent by publishers – and now, it’s a dream come true that my own art is on a literary tote too!!! This features a quote from the Seattle Arts & Lectures event back in September 2023 with Ann Patchett in conversation with Melinda French Gates. I was struck by the beauty of something she said during this event – “We, as humans, communicate with stories.” – so I illustrated the quote, which now lives on forever in the form of these beautiful tote bags available through Seattle Arts & Lectures.

The totes are 100% cotton in a natural canvas color, 15″W x 14″H x 3″D, with 22″ webbed handles in forest green.

You can purchase the tote bags and support the transformational work of Seattle Arts & Lectures HERE.

Over the past few years, our new family tradition has been to gather on New Year’s Day and make pooris and potatoes, while working on a jigsaw puzzle all day. Pooris are a puffy, deep-fried Indian flat bread and they taste especially good with a spicy, tangy, potato curry. It is one of my favorite meals and my mother made it for almost all of my childhood birthdays!

My mom is such an amazing cook that I wanted to share her recipe for these potatoes with you all, in case you would also like to try making some! So, without further ado, here’s the recipe to Shakunthala’s Potato Bhaji:



3 medium Russet potatoes cooked in water with skin. Remove skin after it is cooked and 

coarsely mash. 

1 medium yellow onion, chopped 

1 teaspoon black mustard 

1 teaspoon of urad dal 

2 whole dry red chilies 

2 hot green chili peppers, split

5-6 curry leaves 

1 inch fresh ginger finely chopped 

1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric powder 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

Salt to taste 

2-3 Tablespoon vegetable oil 

2 tablespoon cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped 

1 cup water 


Step 1: Heat oil in a wide pan and first add mustard and when it pops, add urad dal, dry red chilies, green chilies, curry leaves, ginger, onion, turmeric powder, and salt continuing to sauté until the onion becomes translucent. 

Step 2: Add water and lemon juice and bring it to boil, then add potato and cilantro while mixing well until it is thick and loose. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!

And here’s what pooris look like! If you don’t feel like making pooris, you can also enjoy these potatoes with rice or stuffed into a tortilla!

I read quite a few books in January!

  • Two were for a book club: Chain-Gang All-Stars (for my book club at work, since we will be hosting the author soon) and The Mysterious Affair At Styles (for the Official Agatha Christie reading challenge)
  • One was for my Ocean-themed Reading Challenge: Wild and Distant Seas
  • Two were for professional review: JoyFull and Masquerade (I’ll post the reviews when they are published)
  • Two were books that I received from publishers: The Uncharted Flight of Olivia West and The Framed Women of Ardemore House
  • And I am slowly reading through a copy of The Pickwick Papers this year as that was a holiday gift from a friend last year. I’ll be reading a little bit of it every month this year until I’m done.

    I don’t rate the books I read as I don’t like comparing things that are so different and wonderful in their own ways. If I don’t like something, I just don’t finish it or post about it. With these posts, I just want to share the books I loved so that you can check it out for yourself and see if it suits your tastes! Instead of a rating system, I like to use one word or phrase to describe books and, if you’re interested in longer reviews, please check out my Instagram (@gracerajendran) ! :

    I’ve made a collection of all of these books on, where you can also read more about them or purchase a copy for yourself. If you do, be sure to let me know on Instagram or in the comments here – I would love to hear what you were excited to read!

    I really enjoyed reading all of these and got to experience a wide range of genres – fiction, speculative fiction, classics, fantasy, mystery, and even a cookbook! I usually like to read an art instruction book or a nature book during the month as well but, as you can see, I really didn’t have time to add those in – January really did fly by for me! How did it feel for you?

    Happy New Year! May 2024 bring you many joys and wonderful books to read!

    In case you’re looking for a new read in the new year, here are some January releases that I’m particularly excited about. This post is all fiction: literary, romance, science fiction, etc. I will post another list soon for nonfiction.

    If you’re interested in reading more about each book or purchasing them, click on the book title to be sent to the book on Every purchase using one of my links helps support my website. You can also check out my entire January 2024 Fiction list on by clicking here: January 2024 Fiction Book Releases


    WILD AND DISTANT SEAS by Tara Karr Roberts (Jan 2)

    You all know how much I love Moby Dick and books about the ocean in general, so you can guess why I’m excited for this one!
    From the publisher’s page: “Wild and Distant Seas takes Moby-Dick as its starting point, but Tara Karr Roberts brings four remarkable women to life in a spellbinding epic all her own.”


    MARTYR! by Kaveh Akbar (Jan 23)
    The publisher’s blurb calls this: “A newly sober, orphaned son of Iranian immigrants, guided by the voices of artists, poets, and kings, embarks on a remarkable search for a family secret that leads him to a terminally ill painter living out her final days in the Brooklyn Museum.”


    THE BULLET SWALLOWER by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (Jan 23)
    I got to meet Elizabeth on a pre-pub party over the summer and, therefore, got to read her incredible book early! This is a beautifully-written magical realism set in the American West. It will fill you with wonder and give you so much to ponder long after you read the last pages.

    The publisher says: “The Bullet Swallower tackles border politics, intergenerational trauma, and the legacies of racism and colonialism in a lush setting and stunning prose that asks who pays for the sins of our ancestors, and whether it is possible to be better than our forebears.”


    THE STORM WE MADE by Vanessa Chan (Jan 2)

    I was lucky to meet Vanessa during a pre-pub tour and so got to read this amazing book early!
    I was captivated from the first page. The storytelling is amazing and I really felt so much for the characters and their experiences in Malaya (present-day Malaysia) around WWII.

    Publisher MarySue Ricci Books says: “A spellbinding, sweeping novel about a Malayan mother who becomes an unlikely spy for the invading Japanese forces during WWII—and the shocking consequences that rain upon her community and family.”



    I also had the pleasure of meeting Janice last summer on a pre-pub tour and got to read her book early. This is an exciting and thrilling mystery told in the form of transcripts,
    Interviews, emails, WhatsApp messages etc. The story is very intriguing and the format of the novel makes the reader feel like an active and immersed participant!

    Publisher Atria Books describes this as being “about a true crime journalist who revives a long-buried case about a cult—and finds herself too close to the story.”


    YOUR UTOPIA by Bora Chung and translated by Anton Hur (Jan 30)

    Publisher Algonquin Books describes it as “From the internationally acclaimed author of Cursed Bunny, in another thrilling translation from Korean by Anton Hur, this collection shares tales of loss and discovery, idealism and dystopia, death and immortality. ​”

    “For so work the honeybees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.” – William Shakespeare

    One of the highlights of my summer was visiting some nearby lavender farms and, of course, where there is lavender, there are bees! In particular, bumble bees and honeybees are two of the main pollinators of lavender. These plants are very attractive to pollinators because they are rich in pollen and nectar and produce a large amount of linalool (a naturally occurring alcohol that occurs in many flowers and spice plants).

    Honeybees are any of a group of insects in the family Apidae (order Hymenoptera) that in a broad sense includes all bees that make honey. However, what is commonly known as the domestic honeybee usually refers to the single species, Apis mellifera. Apis is Latin for “bee”. The first Apis bees appear in European fossils at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary – about 33 million years ago. However, these bees are thought to have their origins in South and South-East Asia.

    Honeybees are social insects and live together in hives or nests. A colony generally contains one queen bee, a female; up to a few thousand drone bees, or males; and tens of thousands of female worker bees, the latter of which perform dancing movements inside the hive to communicate the location, quality, and distance of food sources to their fellow hive-mates.

    Honeybees obtain all of their nutritional requirements from a combination of pollen and nectar. Pollen is the only natural protein source for honeybees and nectar is collected by worker bees as a source of water and carbohydrates in the form of sucrose.

    During the winter, the bees draw closer together in the hive to conserve heat and, when nectar sources are low, the worker bees drag the drones out of the nest and do not let them return, thereby starving them and reducing the consumption of winter honey stores.

    Most bees are polylectic, which means that they gather pollen from a wide variety of flowers. However, some bees collect pollen only from flowers of certain families or certain colors. Oligolectic bees gather pollen from only a few related kinds of flowers, which their mouths are adapted to.


    The head is the area of information gathering and food input. It contains the eyes and the mouthparts.

    The thorax is the area of locomotion and contains 2 pairs of wings, 3 pairs of legs, and 3 pairs of spiracles for letting air in. Legs have pollen baskets, which is, as the name suggests, used to carry the pollen around. Its special concave shape and hairy edges help to keep the load in position while the bee flies.

    The abdomen is the area of digestion and reproduction.

    The sting is attached to the digestive tract and is designed, with barbs, to prevent the sting from being pulled out. When a worker bee stings, it tries to get away, but the barbs prevent the sting from coming out, so the sting breaks off and is left behind. The sting and accompanying venom gland will then continue to work on their own to pump venom into the victim, while simultaneously releasing a pheromone to mark the victim, alerting other bees to continue to sting them.