Reviews

The Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju

Queens of Hastinapur by Sharath Komarraju (Hastinapur, #3)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Mythology
Imprint: Harper Collins, India
ISBN: 9789352773138

The Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series. First two were Winds of Hastinapur and Rise of Hastinapur. Hastinapur series is a retelling of Mahabharath. This retelling shows how humane and materialistic the characters of the epic saga are compared to their depictions in the original and other versions.

Gandhari is striving to secure her chance to be the queen and the future queen-mother of Hastinapur. Pritha is striving to secure her place in the heart of her husband, the king of Hastinapur, Pandu, who has taken Madri as his second wife. The gods on Mount Meru are striving to resist the flourishing of Hastinapur to prevent the great empire, under the aegis of Devavrata, invading their abode on the holy mountain. Devaki is striving to keep her new-born alive so that he can grow up to kill his uncle Kamsa. King Kamsa is striving to keep his kingdom Mathura safe by coming into an alliance with King Jarasandha. The gods on Mount Meru have to now strive to keep themselves safe from the strong alliance of Kamsa and Jarasandha because Kamsa will definitely try to avenge the theft of the black stone magic by the gods from his kingdom. Jahnavi, Ganga’s apprentice, sent by the gods to Mathura, along with Kubera and Nishantha, gets caught by Kamsa and they all strive to get out out of the prison. What happens to all these women who are striving in this game of power? What happens to the men whose lives are entangled with the lives of these women? Ganga continues to tell you the epic story of Mahabharath.

Since the Queens of Hastinapur is third in the Hastinapur series, you need to read the first two books too to understand what is happening. After watching B R Chopra’s Mahabharath on television, this fresh retelling that shows each character in a different angle is welcoming. But, compared to the first two books, the Queens of Hastinapur’s narration seems pale, especially the part of Jahnavi, Kubera and Nishantha. Rest of the book’s narration is tolerable.

Hoping that the birth and upbringing of Krishna will not make women suffer more, hoping that the fourth book in the Hastinapur series will have a better narration than the third one, do give the Queens of Hastinapur a read.

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Illustrated by Alice Pattullo)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Illustrated by Alice Pattullo)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Classic, Drama, Illustrated version
ISBN: 978163159076
Imprint: Rockport Publishers, USA.

To read about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and its graphic novel version, click here. To get a review of the illustrated version by Alice Pattullo with Rockport Publishers, read on.

To misinterpret a classic is one thing and to ruin the enjoyment of a classic is another. And Rockport Publishers have succeeded in ruining the pleasure of reading this illustrated version of theirs by gaudy illustrations by Alice Pattullo and horrible editing and spelling mistakes. Did the publishers not have an in-house editor or could they not hire one? Here is a list, but non exhaustive, of mistakes that can easily be found in the book:

  • Keep keep instead of keep
  • Me instead of my
  • Combinationa
  • Coining instead of coming
  • Ouly instead of only

Don’t waste your money on this illustrated version of Pride and Prejudice. The illustrations will haunt you. Not worth feeling bad about a classic as great as this work by Jane Austen.

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.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Chick lit, Romance, Drama.
Imprint: St. Martin’s Griffin, New York.
ISBN: 978-0-312-32119-2

Though Emily Giffin has written many novels, her more famous work is Something Borrowed. It was not only a bestseller, but all was made into a major movie with minor changes to the storyline and characters.

Rachel has turned thirty and is still single contrary to her dreams and hopes of being settled by this age with someone who loves her and whom she loves in return. Her best friend Darcy is getting married in a few months. The fiancé is Rachel’s classmate and friend Dexter. In inebriated state and in absence of Darcy, Dexter and Rachel have sex and try to forget it later only to find out that they both like each other. Rachel is surprised to find out Dexter has always liked her but was discouraged by her own indifferent and casual behaviour towards him. Now that they both know the truth and love each other, the only obstacle in the path is Darcy who wants everything her way and likes to put up a show for everything everywhere. Dexter hinders from breaking the engagement but also doesn’t leave Rachel to be on her own. On consultation and persuasion of her good friends Hillary and Ethan, Rachel decides to leave Dexter to be his coward self and goes to meet Ethan in London as she is also fed up of being Darcy’s sidekick since childhood. What does Dexter do now? Does Rachel’s life change in London? Does Darcy turn out to be a better person or stay the shallow ever? Read the book to catch up on the lives of these friends.

Something Borrowed dwells on the ethics of friendship, moral dilemma and seeking happiness for self. It does feel dragged at places but it can be justified as it helps in showing the reader the mindset of Rachel. Since the story is both in book and movie forms, the comparison can be made. There are minor changes in the movie compared to the book. For example, in the book Darcy is dark haired and is wearing a red dress for Rachel’s birthday party, but in the movie she is blonde and is wearing a white dress. In the movie, the characters Hillary and Ethan are merged in one character that is Ethan. In the book Ethan is already in London as the story begins, but in the movie he moves to London later. Nevertheless, both book and movie are good. But for the first time, being a reader, I felt the movie was better than the book. Go for either of the forms of storytelling. You will like Something Borrowed.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Review by Chandrika

Agatha Christie is well known for her thrillers and detective works, and this one from her is the top selling mystery novel ever. A very interesting part of the story is that the plot is based on a children rhyme “10 little soldier boys”. The rhyme is contained in the novel before the story begins, and narrates how one by one everyone dies, for different reasons, and how less and less remained alive, and then finally, there were none (and thus the title).

The story is about how 13 people are lured for a holiday cum part time job for a short time to a remote island which is about a mile off coast, and how one by one they end up losing their lives in a very mysterious way. When the killings start, the remaining ones will break their head and do everything they can to figure out what’s going on. With no one to trust, since they were unknown to each other, all of them are scared and anxious of what happens next and who dies next. As the days go by, leaving them less and less in number, it makes the reader also to put some detective thoughts and think who is behind all these murders.

The story grips your attention throughout the book and it’s definitely worth a read if you are looking for a book to stick on to for a few days, because you would not want to keep it down. The only not-so-perfect thing I felt about this novel is that the mystery is revealed at the end in about just 3 pages. For all the 330+ pages of ‘what happens next’ and ‘who’s behind this’, you might not like the fact that the suspense is revealed in just few paragraphs and you will be left disappointed that it ended so soon. Anyway, I don’t even think there is any better way to do it, for that’s the way the story is woven.

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.

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare

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.

If You Were Me and Lived In the American West by Carole P Roman (Illustrated by Paula Tabor)

If You Were Me and Lived In the American West by Carole P Roman (Illustrated by Paula Tabor)

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children, Nonfiction, Educational
Imprint: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, North Charleston, SC
ISBN: 1532877846

Carole P Roman, a children’s books author, is best known for her series “If You Were Me and Lived In…” that tells children, and adults, about how life was at different places during different times. She collaborates with different artists for illustrations of her books.

In the book If You Were Me and Lived In the American West, Carole P Roman tells us what it was like to live in the times of the Great Migration, with the help of neat and appealing illustrations by Paula Tabor. The author tells us about where the people started from, how they travelled during migration, what happened throughout the journey, what they did once they reached the west, what they ate, what they wore and where they lived. It must be appreciated that the author also talks about the Red Indians and has tried to explain as much as possible keeping the children in mind.

As usual, the books of “If You Were Me and Lived In…” series by Carole P Roman are informative for both children and adults. Yet another good book from the series.

Blinks in Blackout by Dr. Hari Parameshwar

Blinks in Blackout by Dr. Hari Parameshwar

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Fiction, Spiritual
ISBN: 938404356-7
Imprint: Good Times Books Pvt. Ltd., India

Dr. Hari Parameshwar is an India author who has written books such as Many Paths Many Answers, Chase of Choices and The Pillar Invisible. He is also a management consultant and an expert in airport infrastructure. Blinks in Blackout is his fourth book.

Vikram Purohith is a corporate bigwig who takes a long leave to go on a vacation since the last time which he doesn’t remember. Due to miscommunications and freak turn of events, he is unable to go on the vacation where he is supposed to meet his estranged wife and daughter one last time before his divorce. Back home, he slips over spilled water, falls down the stairs with nobody, even his household staff, to help him. His conscience is working, but he doesn’t know whether he is dead or just unconscious. What happens next is the story you get in Blinks in Blackout.

Though the theme is of corporate life and how it changes everything, there is a good share of spirituality, morale and ethics too in Blinks in Blackout, just like in other books by Dr. Hari Parameshwar. Narration by the author is good as usual but the book needs a lot of editing to be done. Also what might bother the reader is the elaboration of the concept or theme that could be explained in a few words or pages. All in all, Blinks in Blackout is a good one-time read.

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Fiction, Classic
ISBN: 0-09-990840-9
Imprint: Arrow Books

Ernest Hemingway is an American novelist, short story writer and journalist. Though he has written many acclaimed works like A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, it is The Old Man and The Sea that truly brought him fame with Pulitzer Award and later Nobel Prize in Literature.

As the name suggests, The Old Man and The Sea is a story of an old fisherman and his love-hate relationship with the sea. Santiago is an old fisherman who has not caught any fish in a long time. Manolin, a young boy who apprenticed with the old man before he went broke, still cares for the old man but works for another fishing boat. One day, Santiago goes fishing early in the morning into the sea after waking up Manolin. The old man catches a huge fish that starts dragging him and his skiff along with it further away from the mainland for days. When the old man finally kills and ties the huge fish to his skiff to take it back home, he is worried about shark attacks and whether he will be able to ward them off without much damage to his catch in his deteriorated physical and mental condition. Will he survive or die saving his catch? Or will he survive and save his catch? Or will he survive and not save his catch?

The whole story is about the confidence the old man exudes and the love and confidence the young boy has on the old man. The author might have other interpretations. Even the reader might find his or her own interpretations. But reading too much between the lines might strain your brain.

The Old Man and The Sea is yet another classic that you can read to tick-off from your list.