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.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography
Imprint: Anchor Books, a division of Random House Inc., New York
ISBN: 0-307-27563-9

Mitchell Albom, known to the world and in the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, as Mitch Albom, is a sports journalist and radio broadcaster turned novelist. He has written many books related to sports, and fiction and nonfiction novels. He is most famous for his books Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Morrie Schwartz is a professor in Brandeis University and Mitch Albom is his newly graduated student, a favourite student. After graduation, Mitch is engrossed in his own life and loses contact with his “coach.” Years later, when a successful Mitch hits a road block in his work field and is made to sit at home due to worker union strike, he sees his coach on a national TV show. Morrie is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is sure to die soon. Shocked to see his professor in such condition, Mitch reaches out to him. Even after no communication since the graduation day, Morrie welcomes Mitch as though nothing has changed. They make it a habit of meeting every Tuesday so that Morrie can teach Mitch about different aspects of life because no one can explain life better than a dying man. Mitch, with Morrie’s approval, records their “classes.” Each Tuesday, Mitch finds his professor in a more deteriorated condition. Mitch worries but Morrie wants to serenely die. ALS consumes Morrie’s body completely and he knows that he will die at any moment. As per his wish, he serenely passes away when his family is under the same roof. After Morrie’s death, Mitch publishes Tuesdays with Morrie, which the old professor always called “the last thesis” of his favourite student.

Tuesdays with Morrie is not a self-help book. It is a book that imparts an old dying man’s knowledge about life to others. It is not preaching kind, but tells you from the view point of a person who had been there, done that. If it helps, you can imagine Morrie as Arthur in the movie, The Holiday. A dying man has courage to make fun of everything, even death. By the time you near the end of the book, your heart will be heavy, but you will wish it never ends. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lives. Read the book to know what “the last thesis” has to offer to any soul that is lost in the daily humdrum.

Dane Cobain

Guest Post: Unexpected Things That My Editor Picked Up On by Dane Cobain

Hi, folks! My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m the author of a supernatural thriller called No Rest for the Wicked and a book of poetry called Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, as well as an upcoming literary fiction novel called Former.ly.

Today, I’m here to talk to you about the bane of every author’s life – the editing stage. Editing was famously compared to murdering your babies, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that – if you’re working with a good editor, it’s more like sending them to secondary school.

But it can get tough – sometimes you disagree with your editor, and have heated debates about comma placements and whether the word ‘internet’ should be capitalised. For the record, I don’t think it should be; Pam Harris, my editor, disagrees, but she let me get away with it because I was able to back it up. The BBC doesn’t capitalise it, and neither does the majority of the tech press.

So today, I thought it’d be interesting to take you behind the scenes and to talk about some of the unexpected things that Pam picked up on when she was working on Former.ly.

To begin with, I expected the main problem would be Anglicisation – I’m British and she’s American, and so we both have a slightly different approach to spelling and punctuation. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was for her to pick up on some of the accidental Briticisms that I scattered throughout my work – the word ‘answerphone’, for example, makes sense to British people, but Americans know it as ‘voicemail’. Voicemail also makes sense to the Brits, and so the tweak was made to make the manuscript as accessible as possible.

A good editor will also pick up on characters’ behaviour, and Pam was pretty good at making me reconsider whether my characters were doing things because that’s who they were and how they would’ve reacted, or whether they were doing things because I needed them to do them for the sake of the story line. Thanks to Pam, I also removed a bunch of unnecessary subplots that just muddied the waters and made it harder for readers to focus on what I wanted them to focus on.

And then there’s other stuff, like whether ‘no-one’ should include a hyphen or not. I usually hyphenate it, but Pam convinced me that it’s best practice not to, and she backed it up with a number of industry style guides. That’s one of the interesting things about the English language – in some places, it’s ambiguous, and it’s also constantly evolving. Style guides exist to make sure that people from all walks of life are able to publish consistently, which makes it even more important for you to adhere to them if you want your manuscript to be on par with the professionals.

All in all, an editor has their work cut out from them, and I’m glad that I’ve found someone like Pam – she writes books herself, and so she can look at my manuscripts as both a writer and an editor, and she has an incredible eye for detail.

Editing is important. As both a reader and a writer, I find it easy to tell whether a book has been professionally edited, and badly edited books usually score a low rating from me if I even manage to finish them at all. But done well, the editing process is like polishing and varnishing a wood floor – not the most fun while you’re doing it, but it makes a huge difference to the final product.

Guest Post: The Best Place to Retire in India by Nilesh Rathod

Every five years, we have a circus played out for appointing someone as the President of India. A President who will live in the largest palace of the world to preside over nothing! Most of his time would be spent on touring places, providing lip service and cutting ribbons. Any assurance or promise he will ever offer will simply be a request to the elected government. Even the speeches he gives in the parliament or his addresses to the nation are not his own, they are written by the elected government. He just reads them! I do not intend to demean the office (or any of its honourable inhabitants) since it exists, but I really question this insistent waste of tax payers’ money to serve something largely useless.

What’s the history here? King George VI, the king of British India, was represented by his Governor General to govern India. There were constituent assemblies much like our current day parliament then too. But their purpose was to serve British interests and not Indian interests. Anyways, India got its independence on 15th August 1947 and under the leadership of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the constitution of India was re-drafted.

Largely adopted and adapted from the British administrative system. That administrative system had a King whereas, we fought over 200 years to get rid of one! Well! So we cannot have a King, but can certainly have his constitution. Now instead of cleaning up the whole muck and re-drafting the constitution, we simply replace the King as an administrative head of the government to what we now know as the President! While the King was tyrannical but the President (post) is useless. I won’t go into a full budget of such a position, but I am told the telephone bill of his palace alone is 60 lacs a year.

In reality all powers vested with the President are only customary. There are no real powers. He can veto a few laws for a while and pocket-veto (remain undecided and hold decisions) a few more, but can change nothing permanently. Whatever he accepts including ordinances require to be duly passed and accepted by the elected representatives of the people in specific time lines. And by the way he can propose nothing, it must come to him for consideration from the Government of the day!

Carrying over the then unlimited Veto powers of the British Monarchy under a alternate term of “President” and without any such powers was a thoughtless proposition. Was it done so as to quickly get a constitution in place without having to tamper with the tenants of British Administrative law or worst still think about newer or better ones? I don’t know really.

This also gets me to the subject of Rajya Sabha and its members. Why do we need a bicameral assembly? Why cannot the democratically elected Lok Sabha make the laws instead of a full additional layer of members in the Rajya Sabha who add nothing but delayed implementation of much needed laws. And not to forget while we already have a President to pay for, now we also need a vice president to preside over the Rajya Sabha!

Should I even talk about the Governors for each of the state and their palaces and entourage and the costs thereof? My opinions are strong, but show me some sense in this. To me this is the best retirement home one can have. Look at the list of its residents, and tell me if anyone did anything else after that. And while this has nothing to do with any of the residents in person, for some of the most respected sons of India held that office in the past and continue to hold it. It is merely talking about governance as a means to an end.

Owen Mullen

Guest Post: Rejection by Owen Mullen

I always have the same reaction to rejection. I take it personally. And since it seems to be the story of almost every writer I have ever heard of, becoming an author wasn’t perhaps the best decision.

Rejection – and we hear this all the time – is part of the publishing process. Accept it they say. Learn from it. Usually this advice comes from people it isn’t happening to. Don’t they realise just how devastating it can be. In Old Friends and New Enemies, Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron sums it up. Charlie says, ‘Big boys don’t cry. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to.’

Believe me I’ve wanted to plenty of times.

Creating anything requires courage and commitment, even before you get to the bit about talent, and of course it is an invitation for others to criticise; that’s understood. Learning to play the piano really badly can and probably will take years. When you are writing a book you pour yourself into the thing for months, trusting you are producing something worthwhile [‘cause who sets out to write a bad book?] until the day you type the final sentence. Then you send your child out into the world and wait to see who is prepared to give the waif a home. So often the answer is: very few. Some give the kid a good kicking and send him home in tears. Others treat him a lot worse than that.

I thought I was prepared for rejection. I was wrong. The first letter telling me that ‘after due consideration my book didn’t fit their list’ was like a punch in the gut. I got over it just in time for somebody else to kick me and my book into touch.

And so it began.

After a while I got used to it. [that’s a lie, I didn’t] What I won’t ever get used to is just how rude people can be. For example: I sent a manuscript to an agent who passed it on to a colleague without letting me know. Months went by. One day I got an email from the colleague, a woman, apologising for not getting in touch sooner and promising to start reading at once.

‘No problem,’ I replied. ‘You’re on it now. Hope you enjoy it.’

Six months later she wrote back. ‘A thousand times sorry. Started it last night.’

‘Okay,’ I said, ‘Speak soon.’

I waited. And waited. And waited.

And never heard from her again.

That’s one kind of rejection, another is what comes back from people who just didn’t like what you’ve done. Or people who want to write your book for you. Loads of them about. There will be others who love your stuff and pour lavish praise on you, and it’s tempting to want to think that must be the truth. Because it suits us, doesn’t it.

This is where it gets complicated; impossible though it may be to see it in the heat of the moment, sometimes the criticism will be justified. Only when we step back from the emotion of it can we identify the truth. When that happens, it presents an opportunity to improve that a writer should welcome. For me the objective isn’t to be right, it’s to be good.

Never forget, whether they think you are the cat’s meow, just so-so, or have produced the worst book of all time, it is only somebody’s opinion. And they’re entitled.

Perhaps Kipling had writers in mind when he wrote this:

‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same.’

Right on Rudyard!

My advice: get your thick skin on, keep an open mind and don’t stop writing.

The Muse’s Fables: The Fondom of Ufasino Collection by Rachel Nkyete Nyambi

The Muse’s Fables: The Fondom of Ufasino Collection by Rachel Nkyete Nyambi

Review by Shwetha H S

We all are aware of Aesop’s Fables, which the famous ones in their genre. Rachel Nkyete Nyambi presents the Muse’s Fables, which are set in sub-Saharan Africa. True to the nature of fables, each one in this anthology will teach not only children but also adults how to live and let live. This collection of Muse’s Fables has nine stories.

You will meet Nkoh the bully, a disobedient Khola the Antelope, Prince Nyamekye and Pendo, a jealous Zuli, Nduru the squirrel and Mboma the snake, the Princess Bride Kagiso and simple Balondemu, Enam who comes to Baka, Kiburi who wants marry Prince Chinua, and friends turned lovers Chidi and Kianga. Apart from the fables, the best part of this book is the glossary at the end; this truly gives a glimpse into the culture of African countries. As an added bonus, you get to read a few poems from Rachel’s upcoming poetry collection.

Fables are meant to teach you lessons of life and the Muse’s Fables don’t fail in serving their purpose. One can read them to revive their childhood or read them to children. Either way, fables are welcome to our lives at any phase.

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.

The Vigil and Other Stories by Gita V Reddy

The Vigil and Other Stories by Gita V Reddy

Review by Shwetha H S

I must applaud Gita V Reddy for writing the Vigil and Other Stories. Except three, almost all the short stories are about women, no doubt about that. No, not about successful or famous women like in Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman. The Vigil and Other Stories talk about the daily plight of women who seem to be normal and lead regular life, not for themselves but for the sake of others. If the Vigil is about a pregnant woman who is getting used to behave like one and stay away from her promising career, then the Gift is about the power of love of an innocent woman. Time and Space is about an old woman who has been taken for granted by her family. This way, there are fifteen stories that tell you what a woman goes through every day. The stories talk about caste system and domestic violence too. My personal favourite is Sita’s Lives. Here, the author has interpreted the sorrow and the thoughts in Sita after she was exiled by her Ram when she was pregnant. I have not seen any television show or read any book that has described this phase of Sita from her point of view. This interpretation will slowly gnaw and eat you up as you read the story. So powerful are the thoughts, they will make you see the whole Ramayan in a different light.

“When you banish me, you who are maryadapurushottham will be writing a law which will render innocent women of coming generations homeless and destitute.” – Sita in her thoughts for Ram

A must read. Don’t miss out on this wonderful anthology.

Vietnam Vengeance by Keith Kluis

Review by Shwetha H S

To raise awareness among others about the plight of Vietnam war veterans, Keith Kluis has written Vietnam Vengeance: One Divided by Two. As the name says, it is a story of vengeance by two war veterans, Paul Grayson and Christopher Stone, who plot looting the money made by all those who were pro war. Things take a different turn when Ellen Nantucket, who is grieving the loss of her brother Steve in Vietnam war, enters their lives; one life at a time. Unable to wait for Paul’s plan to take care of their intentions, Christopher plots his own revenge plan without informing even his friend. What happens next is for you to know.

The story is very slow and takes a toll on you in the beginning. Just when the story starts to become interesting, it is rushed. A lot of characters are introduced just for one or two appearances. The phase of changes in Christopher’s personality is also rushed. Otherwise, this book will make a fine one-time read.

The Blogger Recognition Award

Thank you, Trisha, for nominating We Read That Too!

Since we are nominated, we are allowed to nominate our favourite blogs as well. There are few rules to these nominations that are going around. They are as given below.

  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.
  • Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you’ve nominated in the post.
  • Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.
  • Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing!

Note: You can decline the award if you don’t feel up to doing the above, but remember—you have to earn it by doing the work! 🙂

Well, We Read That Too was started to share the readers’ thoughts about the books that they have read. As given in our blog pages, we want to pester people by telling them how awesome the books we read were. Initially, we read and reviewed the books we already had or recently bought. Thanks to our readers and followers, our book review blog slowly became famous in its own way and here were are nominated for the Blog Recognition Award (yes, we are recognized now all around the world in the literary community). Again, we thank each one of you.

Just like we were nominated, we are nominating 15 blog which are unique in their own mesmerizing way. They are:

  1. Shwetha H S
  2. Passionophoria
  3. Cezan Koby
  4. Raghavendra Vijaykumar
  5. Beautiful Life with Cancer
  6. Elephant Zen
  7. Vinay Kumar
  8. Trickster Chase
  9. Book Guy Review
  10. Fifty Shades of Reality
  11. William the Butler
  12. Weird Short Stories Written by Christian Tanner
  13. Mary Clark
  14. Aficionador
  15. Keith Garrett Poetry

Have fun reading 🙂