Young Adult/YA

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy.
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854156

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.

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Anthem by Ayn Rand

Anthem by Ayn Rand

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.

Secrets of Zynpagua - Search of Soulmates by Ilika Ranjan

Secrets of Zynpagua: Search of Soulmates by Ilika Ranjan (Secrets of Zynpagua #2)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction.
Imprint: Partridge India
ISBN: 9781482886672

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.

Ruth Fielding at the War Front by Alice B Emerson

Ruth Fielding at the War Front by Alice B Emerson

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.

What’s Neema Eating Today? by Bijal Vachharajani (Illustrations by Priya Kuriyan)

What’s Neema Eating Today? by Bijal Vachharajani (Illustrations by Priya Kuriyan)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children
Imprint: Pratham Books

What’s Neema Eating Today? is a children’s book by Bijal Vachharajani with illustrations by Priya Kurian. It is a book that tells kids as well as adults on what to eat according to different seasons. Not only the names of tasty fruits and vegetables, the illustrations also make the book all more enjoyable. The colourful pictures will definitely make kids want to eat fruits and vegetables, especially the Neema gobbles her food in the illustrations. Apart from foods, the book also explains about different season. So, this book is good for kids, and also to adults who want to read to their kids. The author and illustrator of the book needs a huge round of applause for not using a fair skinned girl to depict Neema.

Loose Strings by Dr. Dale A Grove

Loose Strings by Dr. Dale A Grove

Review by Shwetha H S

What would have happened if many of our eminent scientists had not died or deviated from their scientific aims in their lives? Humanity would have technologically developed, but not sure for good or bad. In another universe, a world called Regnus is highly developed, so developed that its citizens are at the dead end of any kind of technological development because they have exhausted themselves in every possibility. To stay as the most developed world of theirs as well as neighbouring universes, the History Security Officers are assigned the tasks of distracting scientists of different worlds and hindering them from reaching their goals. On one such mission, Regnus’ History Security Officer Rakena meets Dr. Wolfe Sterling, who is trying to save science on Earth. What happens to the history science on Earth? Does Rakena succeed in altering Earth’s scientific history? Will Dr. Wolfe Sterling resist the alien beauty’s ventures?

Loose Strings has a good storyline with multiple time travelling and travelling between universes, complex ideas of physics which you don’t need to understand in depth to enjoy the story. Since all the characters are humans and similar to humans, the reader doesn’t have to think about the complexities of the alien anatomy. But the problem is there are so many characters; even the supporting characters have their own supporting characters and storylines. The story is fast paced, but there are times when there are abrupt shifts from one scene to another, or a character doing something which wasn’t actually necessary or called for. But the only point that becomes difficult to accept is the element of God in the Sci-Fi novel. It almost becomes like preaching Christianity to the readers with the help of aliens. Dr. Dale A Grove lets the readers down when he starts talking about God.

Except for the God part, the novel must be for its unique time travel and multiverse travel story. Sci-Fi lovers will enjoy this if they ignore the sudden inclusion of the Almighty.

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Review by Shwetha H S

It has been years since Prince Charming rescued Princess Snow White. Don’t you want to know what she has been up to? David Meredith tells you what our naive princess has been up to in her happily ever after in a life after marrying Prince Charming in this story based on the fairy tale by Grimm brothers. Hang in there because this is not just a mere extension of a fairy tale.

Snow White is not a princess anymore. She is a queen now. With her husband, King Charming dead and her daughter Raven’s wedding nearing, Queen Snow White is indifferent to everything is lost without her loving husband. In a bid to get out of the depression, the Queen decides to take a stroll in her own castle and absentmindedly ends up in her tormenting but dead stepmother Lady Arglist’s chamber. There she finds the famed Mirror on the Wall. Contrary to the popular belief, or our understanding from the original Snow White tale, the mirror is not an ally of the villain and is just a reflector of truth.

The mirror shows and tells Snow White what she has been denying for all those years and tries to make her see the light. It makes Snow White realise when and why she actually started hating her stepmother, the strength she had to brace against Lady Arglist’s abuses, the helpless determination to escape from her tormentor, how she was saved by her dwarves and her prince, how her husband made a lady out of a girl, how her husband helped her in the matters of court, how she had found the long lost courage to stand for herself in the absence of her husband against usurpers, love and devotion of her husband displayed vividly on the verge of her death and escape from it, and love and admiration of her Raven proven when King Charming dies unexpectedly. Through all this, the mirror makes Queen Snow White understand that she and her husband lived wonderful years together, she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, her daughter and her kingdom, and she was no more and damsel in distress.

Through this story based on a fairy tale, the author David Meredith conveys the message that girls should stop acting damsel in distress and waiting for their Prince Charming, and instead should stand tall and charm their way to their life goals. This is a story worth reading because it tells you what happens after the mythical “happily-ever-after” and even Snow White had a life like us.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Review by Shwetha H S

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander is one of the books that’s part of Harry Potter’s curriculum in Hogwarts. Though this book claims to be an encyclopaedia about magical animals, it turns out to be a mere catalogue, all the magical animals in alphabetical order. It is a commendable effort to come up with seventy-five species of magical animals, but the descriptions don’t cater much to the reader’s imagination regarding the physical appearances of certain animals. Considering this book to be part of Hogwarts’ curriculum, how can students rely on this book? At some places the description is just splendid, but for rest we have to just keep calm. Unsure about how the animals are meant to be, now the reader has to rely on the movie version of this book. But, the way categorisation of beasts is done and how each animal or beast is different from the other, makes us appreciate the mesmerising world of Harry Potter and other witches and wizards. Of course, now Muggles too.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Review by Shwetha H S

You don’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble will come looking for you. This is an idea I got of those times when it wasn’t enough to just mind your own business. Young lad Jim Hawkins falls into an adventure that every boy dreams about when Billy Bones walks into Admiral Benbow, an inn run by the Mr. And Mrs. Hawkins. Trouble in the form of weird people come looking for Billy Bones and poor Jim gets unknowingly drawn into the whirlpool that spits him into the sea along with Dr David Livesey a man of principles, Squire John Trelawney a good shot for a tell-tale, Captain Smollett who speaks his mind, Long John Silver an ever-changing sea-cook and many other sailors on the Hispaniola. I can tell you this much of why they all go on that ship. They go sailing to the Treasure Island looking for the seven thousand pounds of gold hidden by Captain Flint. What happens next that Jim Hawkins and Dr David Livesey will tell you in this gripping story.

Except about the language of the sailors, I can’t bring myself to complain about anything else. But if the sailors too spoke just like other men of land, then it wouldn’t be much fun, would it? I can’t even complain about too many characters here as they were required to work on the Hispaniola. Not only humans, you get a talking parrot that’s named after the formidable Captain Flint. Some plot twists are expected and awaited, but some make you say “what did just happen?” Thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson for telling this marvellous adrenaline-filled story over and over to past generations and still ready to do the same for the coming generations. Your Treasure Island is a treasure as a whole and has aged just like a good wine; will never be old for the new.