Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Classic, Literary Fiction, Drama, Coming Of Age, Young Adult
Louisa May Alcott is an American writer. She has written poems and short stories that appeared regularly in journals around 1850s. Though she is famous for writing Little Women, she has also authored other books like Flower Fables and Hospital Sketches.
Little Women is the story of four young March girls under the care of their mother Mrs. March for years as their father is away at the war. Margaret March a.k.a. Meg, the eldest at 16, Josephine March a.k.a Jo, second at 15, Elizabeth March a.k.a. Beth, third at 13, and Amy March the last at 12. The family is poor and is only able to look after themselves as much as they can. While Meg and Amy wish they had more money, Jo and Beth are happy with what they have. Mrs. March knows how each of her daughters are, and is close to each of them. The daughters too are close to each other. Due to their good nature, their neighbour Mr. Laurance and his grandson, Laurie, become close to the family. They interact with their grandaunt often at whose place Jo works. Laurie’s tutor, John Brooke, likes the girly Meg. Laurie falls for tomboy Jo. Beth falls sick, which is pretty serious in those ages when medical science had not developed much. Amy becomes an artist. What happens in each girl’s life is what you get to know by reading Little Women.
I first heard of the book on the famous sitcom Friends where Rachel and Joey discuss books. I later got to know it is a classic. When I started reading it, in the beginning I got bored. Maybe it was because I could not relate much to the times of 1840s and 1850s. The initial pages tell you about Marches’ lifestyle. As and when the story moves forward, I started to enjoy it. So much about the sisters bickering with each other and love back all the same. What got me glued to the book and did not let me put it down was the relationship between Jo and Laurie. Louisa May Alcott has described it in detail, with every expression and emotion, that I simply read on. I found myself rooting for them. Amy comes out as a surprise towards the end. Watch out for her!
I can say, the only two classics that I have thoroughly enjoyed are Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women is for everyone, irrespective of age, gender and geographical location.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Fiction
Imprint: Alfred A Knoff, New York
Jo Nesbo is a musician, song writer and economist, as well as writer. His Harry Hole novels include The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard and Phantom, and he is also the author of several stand-alone novels and the Doctor Proctor series of children’s books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel. The Son, known as Sonner in Norwegien, is one of the stand alone works of this multi-talented writer. It was published in 2014.
Sonny Lofthus is happily settled in the prison convicted for the crimes that he didn’t do but is getting drugs as a compensation. He doesn’t have a care for the world, but every prisoner thinks he is divine and goes to him to make a confession whenever they feel burdened by their conscience. When Sonny gets to know that his father was not a mole but was a victim of conspirers, he breaks out of the prison to avenge his father’s death and other meaningless deaths for which he was made scapegoat. In the process, he falls in love with Martha who is caretaker of the drug addicts hostel where he takes refuge. Simon Kefas, a aging but efficient police officer who was Sonny’s father’s partner and friend, starts looking for the son who ends up finally looking for the Twin who heads the mafia in Norway. With government officials conspiring against Sonny and unsure whether Simon is helpful or not, the son forges is way ahead to reach the Twin. How he does and what he does is for you to not just read but to enjoy.
It took me some time to get used to so many characters thrown at me one after other. But they all are well etched and distinct characters that are not just brought in to be props but to move story forward. Reading the novel felt like I was watching a movie. Everything was well described and was catering to my imagination.
The Son by Jo Nesbo is a must read. Don’t miss it.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Sinjini Sengupta is a poetess, columnist and a short story writer. By profession, she is an actuary. Her debut novel Elixir is based on mental health.
Manisha is an actuary in an MNC. She is married to Amit who is working hard for his startup. Theirs is an arranged marriage with no love, and no understanding from Amit’s end. Manisha feels lonely as her husband doesn’t give her any attention, and whenever she tries to tell him anything, he ignores her. Amit always takes his mother’s side though he knows his wife is right. In his ignorance towards his wife, he doesn’t notice that she is suddenly happy with her life and suddenly screws up at her job for which she was always praised. Her strange behavior catches his attention and bothers him. This even takes them on the verge of divorce. But what is this strange but seemingly normal life of Manisha that is troubling people around her? Read Elixir to get your answer. Or rather rush through it. Why? I will tell you.
As mentioned above, Elixir is a novel about mental health. But reading it will give readers a mental illness. Author has used “you see” so many times that it starts to get on the nerves. Every character talks like that as if there is no difference between one another. The writing or terrible editing has left too many commas for the readers making the narration unreadable. The narration is incorrigible. Even after three chapters can’t understand what Manisha is doing. Maybe that is what the author wants to convey; not let the readers understand the story. So much of description that cannot be understood has killed my imagination and made me turn to Facebook often. The author’s attempted sophisticated description about everything is suffocating. To top it all, Manisha is always wondering whether it will rain today or not. She has a reason, but this wondering is overdone, left me wondering why I am reading it. I understand that Sengupta was describing Manisha’s loneliness. But in that attempt, she makes the reader feel lonely with her book. The experience of reading this book was truly traumatic.
Read Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta if you have nothing better to read. Oops, you can’t read until the last three chapters. Till then, you ought to rush to keep your sanity.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Birds of Prey is a debut novel of Archana Sarat, a chartered accountant turned writer. She is also a poetess. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.
Anton Pinto is a police officer turned tour guide in Goa. His colleague and friend, Rajesh, comes seeking his help in a case of disappearing men. Anton, who had quit his risky job for the sake of his wife and daughter, because he almost died in his last case, reluctantly agrees to help his friend and goes to Mumbai where the new case is filed. All three men, who have disappeared so far, have gone missing in the same way by following an old limping lady. Who the lady is? Nobody knows. When the dead bodies of these three men turn up in a forest area in a sack, case intensifies. At the same time another man goes missing in the same way. Anton goes looking for a common link between all these men. That’s when he comes across Swarna whose peculiar behaviour arouses his curiosity. But is Swarna the culprit or someone else? Why are men missing in the same way? What is the common link between all these men? Will Anton succeed in stopping more men from going missing? You have to read Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat to get your answers.
Apart from few editorial mistakes, Birds of Prey is an outstanding crime thriller by an Indian author. Archana Sarat couldn’t have gotten any better debut than this. The narration is superb. Superb is an understatement. Archana’s vivid narration incites such emotions that sometimes you feel nauseated and sometimes high on adrenaline. I had to go to work, so took about three days to finish this book. But my boyfriend couldn’t resist finishing the book, so took a day off and finished reading Birds of Prey in a day. This book is a definite recommendation. Don’t forget to read it as soon as possible.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy.
The Lively Library & Unlikely Romance is an appreciable debut novella by Niranjan Navalgund, an author and a chess player from India.
Nayan, an arbiter in the chess tournaments, is now looking after a library that his father has left behind. It was Nayan’s father’s last wish to reopen the library which was very special for him. Why was it special for his father? Nayan doesn’t know. In absence of humans in the immediate surroundings, the books of the library come to life. They have their own world in which they are equipped with all the counterparts of human world. These books fall in love and get married too. Like humans, they too face curses. And they have their own gods too. Pakshi and Helmine are the cursed divine entities of this lively library. While the books are going about their day-to-day lives, they get to know of an upcoming danger. What is that danger? How did they get to know about it? What will they do to protect themselves from this unknown danger? Read the Lively Library & Unlikely Romance to decode the codes of this book world.
For a novella, The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance does good with the brief descriptions and scenes. But as a reader, I felt that the concept of this book, though beautiful, got wasted without the elaboration into grandeur. This concept honestly had such potential. A grand fantasy world got shrunk to a tiny segment. The author could have built on each chapter with more details to cater to the imagination of the readers. I am disheartened by the shortness of this life of the lively library. The calculations in between the narration distracts the flow. And the curses could have been explained in detail too. It is such a loss to the readers! Nevertheless, whatever is narrated is enough to give you a peek into the lively library as the book also has illustrations to aid to your imagination.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Zombie romance, Classic retelling
Imprint: Quirk Classics
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith is a classic retelling, in a lesser unknow subgenre zombie romance, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The author has written several books in other lesser known genres. Another of his famous work is Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Slayer. You can read our reviews of Pride and Prejudice’s graphic novel and illustrated book by clicking on the options.
Seth Grahame-Smith is a smart boy. He didn’t have to write much. All he had to do was include ninja lifestyle descriptions, zombies and a few fights here and there without changing the Goddess Jane Austen’s original. Sorry, Seth actually kills Charlotte Lucas in his version. How and when? It is for you to find out by reading this book.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been personally gratifying at so many levels to a Pride and Prejudice fan like me. I have three instances where I kind of appreciated Seth for his version. First, there is an instance when Mr. Bennet actually asks Mrs. Bennet to shut up, which I had been wondering why it didn’t happen since the time I first read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Anyway, if Mrs. Bennet shuts up, how will the show go on? So, she gets to be herself. Second, Elizabeth kicks Darcy’s ass for separating Jane and Bingley, and for insulting her family while he professes his love for her during her stay at Mr. Collins and Charlotte’s house. The usually slight rudeness in the original had not gone down well with me. Thirs, Darcy kicking some zombie-asses on the beautiful grounds of Pemberley to help Elizabeth when she single-handedly tries to fight a herd of zombies without any ninja weapon. What an entry to the scene! Absolutely heroic and saving-damsel-in distress kind. Well, it is satiating enough.
Apart from the minor inclusions and modifications to the storyline, rest is same as the original version. Nobody would read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies until they have read the original. So, if the original is good or bad, then the same applies to this version as well. You won’t lose anything by giving this a read.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Dystopian fiction
Anthem is another offering from Alice Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum a.k.a Ayn Rand, the same author who gave us The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Readers who like, or at least read 1984 by George Orwell, can instantly relate to Anthem.
Anthem is set in the world of far future, where men and women don’t have a name but are designated a pseudo-right with a number as their names, where people don’t have a separate house for themselves and live in huge dormitories, where in the name of equality and justice, humans have denied themselves the right to live the way they want to. Equality 7-2521 is a promising young man who deserves and is talented but is given the work of a street sweeper during the distribution of youth to different employment. He chances upon an undiscovered underground place from the Unmentionable Times i.e., our current time. During the great shift, people completely abandoned all the technology, including electricity, and are relearning and rediscovering everything from the scratch. Equality 7-2521 falls in love with Liberty 5-3000, a beautiful maiden assigned to work in the farms. In this world, it is forbidden to fall in love with anyone because it is against the rules to prefer one person more than others in the world of equality. Both Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000 know they love each other but are unable to express their feelings as it is forbidden to use words ‘I’ and ‘love’, and talk about feelings. Quality 7-2521 finds about electricity from the undiscovered underground place and goes out to share the knowledge with the designated scholars. After listening to him, the designated scholars demand his arrest and death because a designated street sweeper thinks he is superior to the designated scholars. What does he do now? If he is arrested and killed, what happens to Liberty 5-3000? Hang in there! You can find out by reading Anthem by Ayn Rand.
While reading Anthem, initially it is difficult to understand whether Equality 7-2521 is only one person or a group of people. That is the trick of Ayn Rand’s narration. That narration of hers helps to make the reader understand the plight of humans in this dystopian world. It is difficult to find any bad point about Anthem even just to mention here.
If 1984 by George Orwell was not depressing enough for you and if it did not scare you enough to worry about the world you will leave for your future generations, do read Anthem by Ayn Rand. It will make you cry yourself sleep.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction.
Imprint: Partridge India
Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates is the second book in the Secrets of Zynpagua series by Ilika Ranjan. The first book, Secrets of Zynpagua: Return of the Princess, garnered great reviews and the third book, Secrets of Zynpagua: Birth of Mystery Child, is out now and is up for grabs. Ilika Ranjan is not only a children’s book author. Her first book was a fiction about corporate life called “Puppet on the Fast Track.”
Search of Soulmates starts with Anika, the princess of Zynpagua, getting a premonition that Zynpagua is going to be under a threat again soon. Her premonition turns true when Drudan, the evil scientist, returns with the support of magic of a mermaid to rule of Zynpagua and also rule over the Earth. The demon planets help the evil to reduce the goodness blessed by the good planets and everything falls into place for Drudan and his mermaid. But Anika, with the equipped with the teachings of Venus, fights Drudan, mermaid and their army of evil people and disgusting sea worms, with the support of her mother Sussaina, brother Vivian, Lady Carol – the queen of kingdom of clouds, her grandson Leo, a snake Romeo and a tortoise Mootu along with a flock of magical rainbow birds and peregrine falcons. Femina, who was turned into stone, comes back to life thanks to Anika’s uncle Frederick. To know how an eleven year old princess Anika fights evil, how Femina comes to life and whether they win or lose, read Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates.
Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates is a good sequel to the first book, but needs heavy editing to be done. Apart from that, the story is good enough to cater to children’s imagination. It is a good progress in the Indian scenario for children’s books. It is also an attempt to have both religion and science in one place. Children will definitely enjoy this second book in the series.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Historical fiction
Ruth Fielding series was published in the USA during World War I. There are thirty books in the series and Ruth Fielding at the War Front is the fourteenth in a row. Three authors wrote different books in the series with the pseudonym Alice B Emerson. As a matter of fact, Ruth Fielding at the War Front was written by W Bert Foster.
Ruth Fielding is posted to the same French war front as her boyfriend Tom Cameron. After reaching there, she enquires around about him but gets rumours that he went on the other side to help Germans, but doesn’t believe them. Her friend introduces her to Countess Marchand who takes an instant liking becomes mutual. But Ruth Fielding doesn’t like the countess second son Major Henri Marchand as she feels she doesn’t do enough for the alliance against Germany. She also hears the rumours that the Countess’s first son Count Allaire Marchand is Missing in Action. If this is the scenario of her social life outside the hospital, inside the hospital premises, she observes a mad man called Nicko coming in several times to distribute chocolates. His physical appearances resembles that of Major Henri Marchand and Ruth Fielding becomes further suspicious about him when Nicko is seen talking to the wounded German soldier being treated on the French side. Amidst all these happenings, there are rumours from the villagers saying they are seeing a ghost. What does Ruth Fielding do now? Where is Tom Cameron? Is the ghost real? Can she trust Major Henri Marchand just like she trusts the Countess? What happened to Count Allaire Marchand? Who is Nicko? Read Ruth Fielding at the War Front to know what happened next.
Though Ruth Fielding at the War Front is in the middle of the series, the readers can read it like a stand-alone book as the characters are newly introduced through the story. But considering the storyline and the complexities, there are not many hurdles in Ruth’s path. Except few misunderstandings, everything’s a smooth sail. At least, the struggle is not shown much in the story.
Nevertheless, Ruth Fielding at the War Front makes a great read for kids and a one-time good read for young adults.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Play, Fiction, Drama
William Shakespeare doesn’t need any introduction. He has numerous plays, novels and short stories to his name. There is so much of him, yet we cannot have enough of him.
The Winter’s Tale is a play by William Shakespeare telling us the story of the kingdoms, Sicilia and Bohemia through their royalties. Leontes is the king Sicilia and his wife, the queen, is Hermoine. Leontes childhood friend is Polixenes who is the king of Bohemia and is about to go back to his kingdom after a really long vacation in Sicilia. Seeing Leontes desperately trying to make Polixenes stay for more time, the very much pregnant Hermoine succeeds in convincing the king of Bohemia to stay back. This creates suspicion in Leontes regarding illicit affair of his wife with his friend. He believes the child in Hermoine’s womb is Polixenes’ and not his own. He sends his wife to prison and asks his loyal servant Camillo to kill the Bohemian king. But Camillo, who knows that his king is out of sorts, helps Polixenes escape to Bohemia and he himself goes with the Bohemian king to Bohemia. Hermoine gives birth to a baby girl, but Leontes doesn’t accept her as his. Their son, the prince, dies as he is separated from his mother. Hermoine too dies in prison. Paulina, wife of Antigonus, both loyal to Leontes, tries to convince the king, but in vain. Leontes orders Anitgonus to take the baby away and kill it. But Antigonus leaves it in Bohemia and gets killed by a bear in the process. On the other hand, Leontes learns from prophecies from the Apollo oracle that he made a mistake regarding his family and repents. What happens to the two royal families is the rest of the story.
There is no doubt that William Shakespeare has a good story in store with The Winter’s Tale. Most of the Hollywood and Bollywood movies are based on his stories. The only downside of this play is it is an unabridged version. It takes the readers some time to get used to the language and understand what is happening. Do give it a try.