Carthicks Unfairy Tales #BookReview

Carthick's Unfairy Tales

I thought this majestic horse was a befitting backdrop for fairy tales.

Book Title: Carthick’s Unfairy Tales
Author: TF Carthick

I’d seen this one on social media and the title seemed intriguing. Then Shantala from ShanayaTales recommended it and the link was right there waiting for me and so here I am with the review.

Carthick’s Unfairy Tales takes seven well-loved fairy tales of our childhood and turns them on their head. Cinderella, Princess and the Frog, Goldilocks, Jack and the Beanstalk, Pied Piper of Hamelin, Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel and Gretel get a complete makeover in this short story collection.

You know the story, right? But this is a whole new interpretation, a different point of view, one that blurs the boundaries of good and bad.

So we have a Cinderella who isn’t as sweet a girl as we thought her to be and Rumpelstiltskin isn’t a nasty old goblin after all. A princess doesn’t go weak in the knees when her frog turns into a prince while the prince may not be good and kind and chivalrous.

I enjoyed figuring out who would be the narrator in each of the stories and the different point of view gave a fresh perspective.

The language is simplistic but you get bits of interesting life philosophy thrown in. Sample this one from Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

You have to try everything. You need to poke your nose everywhere. Isn’t that what being human is all about? You call it intelligence, curiosity, spirit of enterprise and other fancy names. But the fact remains that you are nothing but nosy busybodies. 

If I had to pick a favourite, it would be Rumplestillskin. It kept me hooked and the end took me by surprise/shock. That’s all I’ll say to keep the review spoiler free.

Last Thought: If you’re looking for something sweet and sappy, this one is not for you. However, if it’s the unusual and unexpected you’re after, even dark and twisted maybe, give it read.

Advertisements

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – #BookReview

Eleanor Oliphant-2

Book Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman

When one receives two recommendations for the same book on the same day and then is urged on by a few others, one’s will-power really stands no chance. I am only human after all. That’s how I found myself heading over to Amazon and clicking ‘Buy now’ on Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Four days later, it has been delivered and read.

The story

The book tells the story of Eleanor Oliphant (obviously) a thirty year old woman. She is a quaint character, dry and friendless, who leads a simple life, with few interests and no ambition. She has no friends and doesn’t miss having them either.

She has a mysterious, perhaps dark, past, moving from foster homes to juvenile shelters, never staying at one place for too long, never forming relationships. All she seems to have are weekly phone conversations with her ‘mummy’ who is in some kind of prison and continues to have a strong hold on Eleanor’s life.

She works at an office – the one she joined right after college, and has been there for nine years. She is aware that she is the subject for gossip and ridicule and doesn’t quite mind it, even laughing at the jokes cracked at her expense.

Then one day she gets caught up (rather reluctantly) in rescuing an old man who has collapsed on the street. That’s how her life begins to change, one bit at a time.

What I loved

I didn’t warm up to Eleanor through the first few pages. But then she isn’t a loveable character, definitely not one you can love at first sight.

She improves immensely over the pages. I grew to love her quirky sense of humour. Her world view is endearing – she finds the entire world strange even while the world thinks she is the strange one. The matter-of-fact way in which she accepts her exclusion is at once funny and sad. I loved how she accepts her looks despite the scar on her face.

Initially, I found it odd how judgemental she was. She judged everyone, all the time, without even being aware of it. She judged them for the way they behaved, the way they ate or conducted themselves as also the way they dressed and looked. Which is why it was gratifying to watch her grow out of that mindset, one that had been fostered in the early years of her life. It was wonderful to watch her find her own voice, which was gentler, kinder, more considerate.

The book brings out in heartbreaking, frightening reality how much our childhood experiences mould the adults we become. This was the most remarkable thing about it –   Eleanor’s transformation – her journey from merely ‘fine’ to happy and content. That remains my most precious takeaway – that being fine is not enough, that life is much more. Life is about relationships, about finding love and happiness.

The not so good bits

First, there was the bit about her mother. Considering that she affected Eleanor so strongly I wanted to know more about her, about their relationship, what was it that led to the ‘accident’. But we never get a really clear picture – only the bits and pieces from Eleanor’s rather shaky memory. I was left with many unanswered questions.

However, my major issue with the book was that it had too many shades of two of my most loved reads – A Man Called Ove and The Rosie Project. Those two are so high up there among my all time favourites that I could not help but recognise them here.

Comparisons are odious I know, but also inevitable.

When it comes to portraying a curmudgeon with a heart none can beat Ove. One connects with him right from the first page when he goes to buy that iPad (this one also has Eleanor going to buy a computer). Then there’s the likeness with the inimitable Don Tillman of The Rosie Project, as the wonderfully sweet scientist with Asperger’s Syndrome. Eleanor’s portrayal of social ineptness reminded me of him and his character was crafted so much better that her oddities didn’t stand out. Perhaps had I read this one first I would have enjoyed it without the comparisons.

Also, she’s never had a McDonald’s burger in thirty years of her life?

Last thought: This one is most definitely worth a read. Do pick it up.

Have you read the book? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Click on the link below to buy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine at Amazon.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy the book on Amazon through this link, I will get a referral fee, at no additional cost to you. 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine #TeaserTuesday

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman came highly recommended and lived up to much of its promise.

Eleanor Oliphant

The protagonist Eleanor is an unusual character, rather dry and uninteresting, but with a unique perspective towards people and life in general. Here’s my pick from the book.

I feel sorry for beautiful people. beauty, from the moment you possess it, is already slipping away, ephemeral. That must be difficult. Always having to prove that there’s more to you, wanting people to see beneath the surface, to be loved for yourself, and not your stunning body, sparkling eyes of thick, lustrous hair.

The review shall be up soon on the blog. Do drop by for a read.

 

 


download

If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Which was the last book that kept you up through the night?

Mrs Funnybones #booktalk

Mrs Funnybones-2

Book Title: Mrs Funnybones
Author: Twinkle Khanna

After the entire world had read it, reviewed it and heaped praises on it, finally I got around to reading Twinkle Khanna’s Mrs Funnybones. In fact, this really isn’t a review at all, just some thoughts about the book. If you’re one of the minuscule number who, like me, haven’t gotten around to it you could take a read.

I read her columns, along with millions of others, and like them too but somehow I kept pushing the book away. The thing is I’m a novel -reader. Bits and bytes of storytelling don’t tempt me. But then the kids’ had their exams and I was looking for something  short, light and happy that I could read on and off between their multiple calls for help. Mrs Funnybones fitted the bill to a tee.

This is a collection of, what seem like journal entries or blogposts, from the life of Twinkle Khanna – a mom of two.

What would have otherwise been random disconnected, though interesting, slice-of-life entries, transform into an engrossing read by her unfailing wit and self-deprecatory humour with bits of life-learnings thrown in. The book is a perfect mix, specially in my current preoccupied state of mind.

I shared this quote on twitter last week. I loved it and apparently, so did some 600 other tweeples.

 

Mrs Funnybones quote

Twinkle Khanna had a short stint at Bollywood, is the wife of a famous actor and the daughter of one too, however the book doesn’t read like the life of a celebrity. And yet there is no effort to block off the famous family members or shy away from the fame – the husband’s or the mom’s. They step in and out of the pages of the book perhaps just as they walk in and out of the house – easily, naturally, nonchalantly. I enjoyed those  glimpses.

The book has plenty of endearing moments – her sleeplessness over an impending photoshoot as also her worry when a bunch of family members descend at her home for a festive get-together, her rush to the book-store to buy a book that her son needs for an assignment, her impatience with fasting for Karwa Chauth, yet finding the fun in the festivities. Enjoyable, relatable.

The best thing about Mrs Funnybones is that she finds a connect with you without ever getting mundane.

I have to add, though, that try as I might I cannot picture her hailing an auto with two children in tow. Are the days of famous people being mobbed really all gone? Or even that bit where she’s frying McCain samosas in the kitchen, drenched in sweat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disbelieving her, just finding it hard to. No, it isn’t the same thing.

Last Thought: A perfect read for the in-between times.

Big Little Lies – A Review

Beat About the Book

Book Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Lian Moriarty

This review is long long overdue and yet I’m doing it not because of a professional commitment but because I’d promised myself this book was too good to be buried in my “read’ list and forgotten. I know I’ve raved about it on social media so that almost all my friends have read it and yet I’m going ahead with the review because it’s worth it :-).

I already said in my Teaser Tuesday how Big Little Lies kept me awake at nights. I’ll add now that it lived up to its promise right up to the last chapter.

The Story

This is essentially the the story of three kindergarten moms whose children start school together. They all go to Pirriwee Public School. There’s Madeline, mom of two – a teenage daughter (with her ex-husband) and a kindergartener. There’s the ethereally beautiful Celeste who has a pair of rambunctious twin boys and there’s Jane and her son. There are two more moms who are a crucial part of the story – Renata, the high-flying executive mom and, Bonnie, wife of Madeline’s ex husband.

Did I just confuse you? Well just go over this again because these are the ones you need to watch out for. There are half a score more that had me thoroughly confused for the first few pages of the book. However as I read on they began to take on personality and form alignments and cliques.

That’s the best bit about the book – it unravels slowly, page by page and that is what keeps you hooked.

But I’m digressing. Back to the story.

The book opens with a murder but you don’t get to know who was killed till the very end. So while most thrillers focus on figuring out ‘who did it’ and ‘how it was done’, in this one we’re also wondering who died. A murder investigation thread runs through the book.

But that isn’t the only mystery. On the first day of school Jane’s son, Ziggy, is accused of bullying Renata’s daughter Amabella. While Amabella says it’s him, he steadfastly refuses to accept his crime. His mom, Jane’s believes him instinctively, but she has a secret which prompts her to doubt him.

What I felt/thought

Big Little Lies has the distinction of making me break my resolve of never reading the end of a book before I actually get to it. Twice.

This might make the book seem like a thriller, which it is, but to say that it is just that wouldn’t be fair. It is much more, bravely tackling issues like domestic violence, rape, co-parenting, single parents, stay-at-home moms vs working moms and teenage angst. There are scores of everyday issues that kindergarten moms handle – last minute school projects, birthday parties, playdates, bullying and of course parent politics. I could identify with a lot of it and that’s what made the book enjoyable.

The TV series

While I’m at it, I also have to mention the television series based on the book starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley.

I watched it after I read the book because I simply didn’t want to step out of the Big Little Lies haze.

It’s a great watch with some wonderful moments and inspiring dialogue. My favourite bit is where Nicole Kidman, who plays Celeste, takes up a case (she was a practicing lawyer before she had the twins). She scores a win in the negotiations and comes away on a high. And she shouts out, ‘Being a mother is not enough for me.’ I loved that scene. The sense of freedom she feels in verbalising that thought, which perhaps has been dormant  in her head for some time, is so beautiful to watch. Also, the scenes of domestic violence are brutal. They made me snap out of my long time crush on Alexander Skarsgard (which I’d developed after watching The Legend of Tarzan), completely and very rudely, I might add.

It is available on Hotstar in India, in case you want to watch it.

That said, I have to mention that the book is much better. It is much more layered revealing the story bit by bit while never letting the pace flag. Do read it first. You’ll know why I say so once you do.

Last thought: Go for it.

Big Little Lies #TeaserTuesday

I started reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty yesterday and it kept me awake till past midnight, till my eyes closed and I crashed on the bed without removing the covers. That, dear friends, never happens to me, no matter how tired I am, and on a school night too, when I had to be up again at 5 am.

This one is that good.

big little lies

 

Sharing a passage from the book for Teaser Tuesday – the brain child of Should Be Reading. I fully intended to do this yesterday but you know now what happened.

The book had many many passages I loved and identified with but I’ll talk about all of that when I review it. Here’s one I quite agree with. The unfairness of this question has baffled me time and again.

“I mean a fat, ugly man can still be funny and lovable and successful,” continued Jane. “But it’s like it’s the most shameful thing for a woman to be.”
“But you weren’t, (fat and ugly) you’re not—” began Madeline.
“Yes, OK, but so what if I was!” interrupted Jane. “What if I was! That’s my point. What if I was a bit overweight and not especially pretty? Why is that so terrible? So disgusting? Why is that the end of the world?”

download

If you fancy joining in, here’s how…
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title and author so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

Which was the last book that kept you up through the night?

Piles to read before I shop

IMG_20180123_132401-2

Hola folks and happy new year. I know we’re almost done with 1/12th of the year but I like to think that while we’re in January the year is still new.

Here I am with my 2018 reading plan though I’ve already done four books and am mighty pleased with myself. It’s a good start, I’d say.

Last year I’d drawn up a rather elaborate list of categories and books I’d planned to read. I made decent headway during the first few months and then I lost my way.

The thing with books is that new ones keep dropping onto your radar in a terribly distracting manner. Before you know it you’re at your kindle ordering one and then another one and then another and you’re reading ones you’d never planned to but found that you just had to. That’s what makes sticking to a list so very tough. A friend’s recommendation, a great review, a FB group discussion anything can lure you away.

So I meandered. And to tell you the truth, I am not one bit sorry because I read some super fabulous books that’ll remain on my favourite list for ever. This is one act of unfaithfulness that yields wonderful results and no regrets.

However this year, I am setting goals which are more realistic and, hopefully more budget friendly.

Reading Resolution No1

I’m staying away from all Challenges except the one on Goodreads where I’ll be reading 37 books. That might sound like an odd number. Last year I’d pledged 35 and managed to complete the challenge. I wanted to raise the bar just a little bit and 40 sounded too much so 37 it is.

Reading Resolution No2

In addition to that first one I am also taking up the ‘Read My Own Damn Books Challenge’. This, I think, is a fabulous idea, which kicked off way back in 2015 at Estella’sRevenge . Considering that I have half a dozen unread books on my kindle and a tottering pile by my bedside I really should get to them. I don’t think I’ll finish them all but try I shall.

Reading Resolution No3

Finish last year’s list. I’d gone to a lot of trouble to make the list and it has some wonderful books on it. It would be a shame to dump it all.

So there, that’s it. That’s my reading plan for this year.

If you have a reading plan or resolutions around books do share with me in the comments or leave a link if you’ve done a post. Would love to drop by and catch up.

Linking up with Shantala’s #ChattyBlogs