Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Fiction, Drama
Imprint: Bloomsbury, India
Antara Ganguli is a Gender and Development Specialist with UNICEF. She is also a writer. He debut novel is Tanya Tania.
Tanya, a Pakistani-American in Karachi starts to write letters to Tania, an Indian in Bombay, now Mumbai. The story is set in the times of Babri Masjid issue, 1992. The two girls are poles apart in characteristics, yet they connect with each other as they continue to exchange letter. The story is in epistolary form, but in two timelines. 1992 and after three years. The girls write to each other in 1992 but stop writing after a few months. Why? Not because of the Babri Masjid issue and the fact that Tanya is a Muslim. Then why do they stop writing to each other? Only Tanya keeps writing to Tania after three years only to stop after a few letter. Why? You will get your answers only from Tania.
Antara creates characters that are too real. Though the story is set during a real-life incident, it is a fictitious story but difficult to believe so. Tanya’s and Tania’s mothers are best friends since college in the USA. Tanya is your typical Miss Goody Two Shoes, trying to study well and get into a good university back in the USA. Tania is also your typical Queen Bee, trying to keep her boyfriend to herself and be more famous in school. Tanya has Chhoti Bibi whom she treats just the way she has to treat a servant. Tania has Nusrat whom she considers her best friend but is also her servant. Tanya has a twin brother. Tania has an elder brother already studying in the States. Tanya’s parents, American mother and Pakistani father, once very much in love with each other, don’t quarrel but don’t talk to each other either. Tania’s parents quarrel often but love each other. So different from one another, yet so relatable.
Tanya starts writing to Tania because of her mother’s suggestion. After stopping to write in a few months, Tanya again starts to write to Tania because of her psychiatrist’s suggestion after three years. I felt like Tanya is a blinded horse. Tania has a mind of her own and knows what she wants. I could relate to Tanya throughout the story, but in the end, I could not. I was able to imagine the narration of Antara Ganguli, as if I was watching a movie and not reading a book. I can’t tell you more than that. You have to read the book. YOU HAVE TO!
Yes, I recommend this book to every reader.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is the most boring book I have read in the last three years. I struggled to read. So, heard it on the audio book, but still it was painful. I have no idea why James Joyce wrote this book. Why would anyone be bothered with such a dry story? I couldn’t take it while reading. Therefore not going to relive it by writing a proper review about it.
Just happy that I got this tattered copy of the book free of cost and I didn’t spend a single rupee to read it.
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: 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: 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
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.
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.
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.