Author Archives: Obsessivemom

About Obsessivemom

Mom Blogger, Book Blogger, Reader, Writer, Editor. Found at obsessivemom.in and BeatAbouttheBook.wordpress.com

Ghosts and Writers #BookBytes 12

I am currently reading Eating Wasps by Anita Nair. Here’s a quote that caught my eye, specially as a writer.

“Ghosts and writers are more alike than you think. We can be what you want us to be. We can hear your thoughts even if you don’t tell us. We can read the silences and shape your stories as if they happened to us. And I was both: a ghost and a writer.

Eating Wasps by Anita Nair

I firmly believe that observation is the most important tool of a writer. Do you agree? Do you see the stories behind people, even strangers? You might not know the stories but do you shape them in your imagination?

When you’re travelling in a bus or a train do you watch the man standing with an impassive face and understand the turmoil of his mind? Do you look at the vivacious group of giggling teenagers and smile at their naive thoughts? Do you watch a couple sitting together and know the relationship they share?

Do you weave stories about the people you see around you?

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for August 6th.

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Ravan: Enemy of Aryavarta #BookReview

Book: Ravan: Enemy of Aryavarta
Author: Amish Tripathi

I have a soft spot for this series by Amish Ramayan series because it was with the first book  Scion of Ikshvaku that I kicked off this blog. I loved that one. I was curious about how Amish would handle this multilinear narrative and that was what made me pick up Sita and now Ravan: Enemy of Aryavarta.

The story

The book traces the life of Ravan, son of Rishi Vishrava and Kaikesi. Disliked by his father and not particularly fond of his mother Ravan, is a lonely child. He has a streak of cruelty that makes him torture small animals and watch them die.

If he has one tender place in his heart, it is for his baby brother Kumbhakaran. Ravan leaves his father’s ashram with his  mother, his uncle Mareech and Kumbha to protect his (Kumbha’s) life.

He knows he is made for great things and he sets out to achieve what is rightfully his, Kumbha and Mareech by his side. From a small-time smuggler he turns into a pirate and powerful trader. Unfettered by the values and principles that hamper others he forges ahead.

However, there is one pure, unsullied memory from his childhood that refuses to leave him – a face, a voice that could potentially steer him away from his reckless path. He seeks out that face but on the verge of turning over a new leaf it is snatched away from him. Filled with rage, he unleashes it on the Sapt Sindhu. Ravan thus emerges as the quintessential villain. He challenges the authority of Kubaera the businessman ruler of Lanka and displaces him to become king.

As he notches up victory after victory he is unaware that he is part of a larger plan, a cog in the wheel rolling towards a greater goal, orchestrated by the great rishi Vishwamitra. 

Ravan was a disappointment

First there’s the voice of Amish. He speaks the language of the millennials and that gets jarring, specially in a mythological setting (Remember Hanu Bhaiya in Sita?). I get that it’s his style and I did love Meluha though it had the same voice. Perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve grown up listening to the Ramayan and so find it tough to adjust to this pop-version.

My biggest complaint however is that the book turns plain boring in bits. There were too many and too detailed explanations and descriptions – of the Sapt Sindhu, the caste dynamics, the trading system, of traditions and palaces. There are too few dialogues, slackening the pace of the story.

Then there’s the story itself. Amish is known to give his own twist to every tale. I’ve liked his twists, I’ve liked how they tie in neatly with the original familiar story. However here, without giving out spoilers, all I’ll say is that Ravan as an angry lover-boy didn’t seem believable at all, more fantasy than mythology.

Then there’s the reference to Sabarimala. In his previous books he brought in references to a gory rape and then Jallikattu, this time it was Sabarimala. Perhaps that’s an attempt to weave in current events but it seems like a forced addition to the narrative.

The saving grace was the portrayal of Kumbhkaram – the endearing, good-natured giant. He is Ravan’s conscience and emerges (almost) as the hero of the book.

Also, I’m a little curious how Amish will take the story forward now that Ravan knows who Sita is. I’m hoping with all the war-action the next one won’t be a disappointment.

Perhaps the author should stick with lesser-known mythological re-tellings. He certainly has the knack for bringing alive mythological settings, of building up strong characters and of springing surprises.

Last thought: Read it only if, like me, you’ve committed yourself to the series. You might find yourself skipping pages though.

Memories #BookBytes 11

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” 

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

That’s the quote I’ve picked today. Isn’t it a beautiful thought?

The big moments of our lives remain etched in our memory for a long long time – winning a race at school, that first job, your wedding day, holding your baby for the very first time – those are the big ones, the ones we’re not likely to forget.

What I’d like to bottle, however, are the small, innocuous moments when life seems perfect for that one day or one hour, even though there’s nothing special about it.

I would pick out moments from my childhood – when we went on one of our precious few vacations to a hill-station and climbed a mountain peak then sang our way down with dried leaves crunching beneath our feet. I’d bottle up memories of freezing winter days when we’d come back from school and mom would hand us warm freshly ironed clothes to change into or a cold glass of lemonade on a hot May afternoon.

I’d bottle up this weekend when the kids and I snuggled together and watched Hunger Games while it rained outside, or when we sat out in the balcony studying together or even now as I sit writing this post on a cool cloudy day with sparrows chirping at my window.

A million happy moments disappear undocumented into the labyrinths of our memory, those are the ones I’d like to keep bottled up.

What are the memories that you’d like to bottle up?

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for July 16th.

On Loving Your Children #BookBytes 10

It’s time for BookBytes and I’m doing something I’ve not done before – sharing two quotes instead of one. In my defence – they share a theme, and the first one reminded me of the second.

The first is from Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, which I read recently. It’s a wonderful book – just the kind I like. It talks of a family, two families actually, and the fascinating ways the characters’ lives intertwine – the way they connect and affect each other. Here’s the quote I picked.

To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all at the same time. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

There’s so much love in this quote. How beautifully it depicts what a child means to a parent! It reminded me of another quote from another one of my favourite books – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. The book will remain with me forever as a bit of heartache.

“It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man – the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated off-spring – you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.
I look at him and see the baby I held in my arms, dewing besotted, unable to believe that I’d created another human being. I see the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied  by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history.” 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is perhaps why parents find it so hard to separate themselves from their children, why they forgive them so easily, why they’re ready to face the worst odds for them. In their heads they see the baby, the toddler, the teen in a grown man/woman.

Agree?

Picture Credit: Pexels

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for July 2nd.

Freedom

Sofia sat crouched at the edge of the cliff, muscles tense, senses alert. A wave of vertigo threatened to drown her and she averted her gaze from the valley below. She forced herself to breathe deeply willing herself to relax, muscle by one tiny muscle.

You can do this, she said, slowly, gingerly, stretching out one leg, then the other. An intense urge to draw back to the safety of the ledge hit her again. She fought it down …. again.

She let out a shaky breath which turned into a nervous laugh at this small victory.

She forced herself to look down focusing on the brilliant shades of green. She smiled at the distant cluster of houses, far enough to mute the mundane sounds of everyday life yet offering the comfort of human presence.

With growing confidence, she stretched out her legs, threw back her head and let out a delighted whoop.

This is what she had driven miles for.
This freedom from fear.

It was a birthday ritual – a gift to herself.
And she’d do it again – another year, another fear – she’d demolish them all, one by one.

Happy birthday to me, said she, smiling softly.

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Do you have a birthday ritual? What’s your idea of a perfect birthday? Would love to hear about it

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Linking up with Mayuri and Rashi for #WoWe. Do drop by their blogs every Wednesday if you want to flex your creative muscle.

Behind Closed Doors #BookReview

Book: Behind Closed Doors
Author: BA Paris

Jack and Grace are the perfect couple. He’s a rich, good looking lawyer completely in love with Grace, while she is his perfect companion, graceful and elegant, one who throws perfect dinner parties in their perfectly beautiful home. The two are never, and I mean never ever, apart.

Grace has an autistic younger sister Millie who is due to come to live with her and Jack soon. And Jack is looking forward to it as much as Grace is, perhaps even more.

So is this couple for real? Is there a catch?

Before I begin to tell you the good and the bad let me just say that Behind Closed Doors was a complete edge-of-the-seat page turner. It kept me awake reading late into the night and then I couldn’t sleep because I was scared of the nightmares that might come to haunt me.

There really is a kind of morbid fascination in reading about someone purely evil. The blurb almost gives it away and one knows from the start that Jack and Grace aren’t as perfect as they seem. Within the first few pages we get to know that Grace is being kept prisoner by Jack who is a psychopath.

That there, was my first issue with the book – that we get to know the real Jack too early. The mystery could have been built up better if his real nature was revealed slowly over more pages. That the POV is Grace’s might have thrown up some problems but it could have been done.

I have to reiterate though, that knowing the real Jack doesn’t take away from the tension. You read on in horror wondering what he would do next, whether Grace would try to escape and what would happen when she does.

The other thing that bothered me was how Grace transformed from a terrorised wife to a perfect hostess. Is it even possible to behave normally, to interact with people, socialise with them (Jack wanted that) and not let them have a hint of what you’re going through when you’re in the grip of such absolute terror? I get that Grace had a strong motivation to fall in with Jack’s blackmail but I wondered if it was physically emotionally possible to keep the pretence going. How long can one make excuses to not go for dates with girl-friends, to not meet anyone without the husband?

Though the end was not difficult to guess the ‘how’ of it kept me intrigued. However, when it did come it seemed too easy. That’s an issue I often have with books – the build up is great but the end is a let down.

And there was one major loop hole. If you have read the book, or when you read it, I’d love to know if you figured it out.

Though the suspense in the book wasn’t great, the edge of the seat tension definitely was.

Last thought: A page turner, despite some loose ends.

Linking up with the Write Tribe Reading Challenge – This is my review for ‘A book written by someone of a different nationality/colour/ethnic group than you’.

Celebrating Differences #BookBytes 9

Some books come into your life at a particular time, at a time when you need to read them. When that happens the book takes on a whole new meaning, it becomes more than a story to be read and forgotten, it becomes part of you.

Hola folks. And welcome to another edition of #BookBytes. I’ve been reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak and the age-old Sufi wisdom in its pages has blown me away completely.

Here’s the quote I picked for today:

We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is an amount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

These lines hold special significance in the modern context when countries, societies, communities, even thought processes are getting increasingly narrower, more intolerant and rigid. It pains me, terrifies me even, somedays when I think where this could lead us. And I wish I had a magic wand that would make us all more accepting, more open to and appreciative of differences.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
  • Put in the logo (above) so it’s easy to spot.
  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Do join in.

The next edition is scheduled for June 18th.