Monthly Archives: February 2017

Of Men and Women #Teaser Tuesday 5

It’s time for Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading. Here are a few lines from my current read – Yajnaseni – the English translation of the Oriya novel of the same name by Pratibha Ray. The translation is by Pradip Bhattachrya.

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“When I saw or heard that in the king’s royal apartments many queens, bedecking themselves, kept waiting for him, the king might or might not visit one queen’s apartments, then I wondered how it would be if it were the other way about? One queen and a thousand kings! They would spend night after night waiting for her! He whom the queen loved best would be made the “Chief King” by her. Hearing my views the sakhis used to laugh, “Princess! Keep those thoughts to yourself….”

I’m more than half way through the book and I haven’t exactly warmed up to it but these lines said by the fiery princes Yajnaseni are a thoughtful commentary on how unequal men and women were, still are, in many ways.

 

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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!

Wonder – A Review

Wonder by RJ Palacio

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Let me begin with a warning – this is going to be a rather long post (by my standards).The book more than deserves it. This one came highly recommended. It has won several awards too and I’d planned to read it with the kids. One chapter down the line I decided I couldn’t possibly read just a few pages a day and ended up finishing it on my own.

Meanwhile, our nightly read aloud sessions continued and we managed to complete it only recently.

Here’s the story

Wonder tells the tale of a ten-year-old boy August Pullman (Auggie) born with extreme facial abnormalities. He has been homeschooled till grade four due to the various surgeries that he has to go through. In grade five his parents decide to send him to a private school, Beecher Prep. Auggie considers himself a normal kid but his physical appearance sets him apart. He desperately wants to blend in but that cannot happen. He knows, dreads and hates the constant stares, the looks of revulsion, or worse, those of pity.

The book talks about his experiences in the school, his attempts to fit in and find friendship.

Now for the review

Wonder is not only a fantastic story, it is told ever so beautifully as well. The story unravels through multiple point of views. This makes it very interesting because it shows us glimpses of Auggie through the eyes of various characters and how they learn to love and accept him over time. The book is broken up into short two-three page chapters which makes it perfect if you’re taking turns reading it with your tween. Almost every bit of it is a veritable quotable quote, full of simple wisdom.

Auggie’s character is wonderfully etched – smart, funny, sweet and kind. He is well aware of the way he looks and even finds it in his heart to joke about it, to the unexpected delight of his new friends. In the end what stands out is his courage and kindness.  Palacio’s ten-year-old voice is very believable.

The supporting characters are delightful too. Each of them – Auggie’s sister Via, their parents, Via’s friend Miranda, her boyfriend, Justin  – all of them have a back-story which makes them real and relatable. That is perhaps why the book has spawned a number of ‘Companion Novels’ and turned almost into a series. (Auggie and Me, Pluto, Shingaling, 365 Days of Wonder)
Via was my absolute favourite. I would love to read a spin-off from her perspective. What would it be like to live with a brother who takes up almost all of your parents’ time,  energy and attention? – that would be interesting.
I loved the parents too. They taught me some valuable lessons through the book.

I wondered whether I (and the kids) would relate to an American school setting. Interestingly we weren’t distracted by it at all. Not for one moment did our focus shift from the core idea of the book – the challenges of a ten-year old kid, which are quite the same the world over. The children identified with Auggie, with his struggle to fit in, with the peer pressure, how cliques are formed to include some and exclude the others. Palacio got the middle-school friendship dynamic bang on. She talks about how cruel the kids can be and how very kind as well.

I was apprehensive that it would turn out to be a sad heavy read given the subject but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Of course it has those heart-breaking moments when you wish you could reach out and hug Auggie and Via and their parents, and to tell them that all would be well. But then there are also happy, fun moments when your heart swells and you cannot but smile. That’s the magic of Wonder – it makes you cry and laugh by turns. And in the end leaves you with a full heart, raising a cheer to Auggie and his warm circle of family and friends.

The Julian Chapter: The edition I read came with an additional Julian’s Chapter – the story told from the point of view of the lead antagonist. I do believe, strongly that children aren’t born cruel or mean and that their parents often are part of the reason they become that way. Yet to me that chapter seemed like Palacio was making excuses for Julian’s behaviour – his bullying and his meanness – in a forced attempt to justify him. I have to admit though that it worked for the kids. It helped them see where his bad-behaviour came from. And in the end it served to make them less judgemental even about the not-so-nice kids, so I cannot really complain.

Another flip side – if I have to find one – is that the book might seem simplistic, the characters too good, too sensible. But sometimes you need to read a feel-good book simply because it leaves you with a happy feeling. Even more importantly, you need to get your tween to read this one.

Last thought: Put aside all cynicism and pick up this ever so fabulous read.

A Wonderful Book #Teaser Tuesday 4

My current read is a truly wonderful book, quite aptly named Wonder by RJ Palacio. Here’s a line, or rather two lines, for this week’s Teaser Tuesday, which is hosted by Should Be Reading. Do make time to drop by at the end of week for the review. This one is an exceptional read.

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“There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie,” she said, looking at me. “But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.” 

 

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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!

Love Muffin and Chai Latte – A Review

Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wylde

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When Shakespeare said what’s in a name he couldn’t have been more wrong. I picked up this one based solely on the name. Love Muffin and Chai Latte sounded a delicious mix of East and West. The blurb confirmed what I thought about it – the story of an American girl who moves to the England and then to India, written by a non-Indian author – this I wanted to read.

The Story

This is the tale of Tabitha (Tabby) who flees to England when her sister marries her (Tabby’s) fiancé. There, she meets Chris. Within a year of dating each other Chris proposes to her. She’s taken completely by surprise but agrees to marry him because, well because she’s been thrown out by her landlord, is jobless and of course because she quite likes Chris and he convinces her it wasn’t a ‘pity proposal’ at all, he was going to ask her anyway. Tabby is aware Chris is Indian but doesn’t know exactly how much of an Indian he is. Alarm bells should have rung when she discovers Chris is actually Mr Chandramohan Mansukhani and has a large extended family in England and India and also that she would have to win the approval of his grandfather, the arrogant inflexible Daaji to get married to him. Lulled into a sense of security by Chris and his beautiful sister Maya, she travels to India to  meet the family and that’s where the fun begins.

The Review

This is a book you’re either going to hate or love. I loved it. But I’ll get to that in a bit. First, let me try to warn you off because I believe in giving out the bad stuff first.

The story is full of exaggerated stereotypes – there’s a chappal babaji who blesses people with a tap of a slipper, auntie ji’s of all shapes and hues, slimy men and plotting women and a hunk of a dream hero – who’s upright, brave, famous and a rather unbelievable philanthropist.

The situations Tabby gets into range from clichéd to unbelievably ludicrous. There are kidnappings, blackmailing, shooting, narrow escapes and a typical airport scene, yeah right out of a Bollywood film. Oh and there are some poo jokes too.

There I’ve put it all out.

However, all of that worked for me. The mix of family and friendship and romance with a very generous dose of humour made it a perfect light read. It had plenty of laugh aloud moments with tongue-in-cheek one-liners. Without giving out spoilers I’ll say certain situations had the most unexpected, unbelievable riotous endings. Some parts, like the description of the aarti at the Ganges, touched me just the way they affected Tabby. She proves to be likeable enough heroine – with her loneliness and complexes and her affinity to put her foot continuously in her mouth, she’s fun.

This one is a Bollywood masala script. Read it without going into the hows and the whys and you’ll love it. Analyse it and it’ll fall flat.

Last thought: A crazy comedy that deserves to be read.

Of loves and crushes

 

100-word-drabble

Pakhi knew she loved him. Nothing would stop her now.

She had woken early to talk to dad, while mum was fast asleep. He was easily convinced. Mum was the fly in the ointment, hard to persuade.

Pakhi faced her anxiously. “I love him, Ma. There’s no one like him in all four corners of the earth. You know I love him. Don’t stop me,” she pleaded.

“Let her go,” added dad. “It’s not everyday that SRK comes to town. Let her have her fifteen minutes of fame.”

“I’ll go with her,” beamed start-struck mum, he’s my crush too.

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Linking to #BARWoWe

The prompts for the week are:

Fast asleep
Fifteen minutes of Fame
Fly in the ointment
Four corners of the earth

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My Father Is a Hero – A Review

My Father is a Hero by Nishant Kaushik

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The story

Vaibhav Kulkarni is a single father to a bright young daughter, Nisha. She is ten-years-old, an ace student, a star singer and also helpful, smart and thoughtful.

Then on the day of her birthday something happens that changes her. She loses interest in everything – school, studies, music, friends. Despite Vaibhav’s repeated attempts to unravel the mystery behind Nisha’s listlessness as also his attempts to cheer her, things continue to spiral downwards.

In a desperate attempt to find his daughter’s happiness Vaibhav goes all out to fulfil her dearest dream.

What I thought

To begin with I loved the cover, though the girl looks much younger than a-ten-year old and that bag doesn’t look like it could belong to a ten-year-old either, but I will ignore that. I do love books on relationships and a father-daughter connect is a wonderful peg. That was what made me reach out for this one.

However, that was the only good thing about the book. My biggest grouse was that the entire father-daughter relationship revolved around ‘sacrifice’. Every incident and every conversation steers around and focusses again and again on how much Vaibhav is sacrificing for his daughter, how his life revolves around Nisha and her achievements.

That got really tiresome. Sacrifice is such an overrated virtue, anyway, specially when such a big deal is made of it. I kept looking for the fun in their relationship and warmth and tenderness. All I found was more sacrifice and duty and responsibility. It bothered me that there seemed very little happiness in the Kulkarni household.

What’s worse Nisha seems terribly aware of all that her father was doing for her. Despite all her virtues she didn’t endear herself to me.  She’s much too good. Not only does she top each exam, she also wins the music competition every year. She manages her assignments on her own, goes for music classes on her own then waits dutifully for her father to pick her up. Despite never having been abroad she manages to negotiate the streets and find her way all on her own.

Where do they make children like Nisha?

There’s nothing of a ten-year-old in her. She mothers her father. She makes him blush when she tells him of her teacher’s crush on him. And yet she cannot tell him what she truly wants. Sample this: Vaibhav asks her, ‘Nisha did you want this party to be organised in the farmhouse?’ She chose her words carefully in order that they revealed nothing about what she wanted. ‘It was not my idea.’ And conveniently enough Vaibhav can’t see through her response. That irked me – the fact that there was no true closeness between the father and daughter.

The climax did a little to lift the story but seemed contrived and unreal. I am almost sorry to say I didn’t enjoy the book. The idea it began with had been so wonderful.

Last thought: Sadly enough, this could be given a miss.

PS: Do ten-year-olds colour their hair? And call their classmates ‘hot’? With two ten-year-olds in my house, I sure hope not.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Writers Melon in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Chai and Muffins #Teaser Tuesday 3

My current read, Love Muffin and Chai Latte by Anya Wyldeis proving to be a laugh riot and it is with this book that I’m joining in for  Teaser Tuesday hosted by Should Be Reading. I have plenty to say about it but will keep it for the review. Coming up soon.

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“I am going to be Mrs Cuckoo Singh in two months. Is that something to be excited about? Would you like to be called Mrs Cuckoo all your life? His mother has started calling me Cookie already. Cookie Singh.”
She shuddered.

 

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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!