book review

Book Review: The BFG, by Roald Dahl

4:48:00 PM



When I read books that have been adapted into movies, inadvertently, I check to see if the movie is as good as the book. In the case of this one, the BFG by Roald Dahl, I felt the book held more promise than the movie (which is the case more often than not anyway).

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is a story about an orphan named Sophie who sees a giant during the witching hour. This leads the giant to capture her and take her to Giant Country, far away from the eyes of other human beings. This giant (BFG) lives in a cave, is the only friendly giant (who doesn't eat humans), is shorter than the other giants and thus oppressed by them. He also blows dreams into the ears of children. The book, you could say, is Sophie's adventure with the BFG, and how the two of them manage to tame the other giants and such.

I don't know about the movie, but I had fun reading the book. The funny language of the BFG (though one does need time to get used to it), his manner of talking or his giant ears, how friendly he is with Sophie... all that felt right for a children's book. It was also nice to read about some of the dreams. A couple of them felt familiar, so innocent, yet that's what we would have dreamt when we were children. I don't know how much I like the character of Sophie, or the other characters either. Some quotes in the book felt true, whereas others felt unnecessary to add to the humor that was already there.

Would I read it again? Maybe not. I would read other books from Dahl to see if they are better, or indeed, if this one felt great because it was the first time I read a Dahl book.

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R. No payment was taken for this review; these are the unbiased and uninfluenced thoughts of the reviewer about the book.

asian fiction

The Party Worker by Omar Shahid Hamid

12:25:00 AM

When a Jewish woman is killed on the steps of the Natural History Museum in New York, disparate lives are thrown together for one purpose: to bring about the downfall of the Don, the uncrowned king of Karachi.


The Party worker opened with a scene of betrayal and murder, kind of setting the tone for this book from the start. Written by a police officer based in Karachi , it was no surprise that he caught the true pulse of the city and its nuances so beautifully in the book. Even with so much death , apathy and unfair scenarios , there is a life to the city, a hope and certain character to the place that gives birth to this stroy.

The party Worker - Asad is gunned down on order by the very person whom he trusted to save him. He survives the shootout and thus opening the investigation into the Party he belonged and the founder / leader of the same - the Don.

The story moves to and fro between Karachi and Network ,between past and present , between opportunitists and the dumb followers. The life of Karachi is so closely shown that the Neywork pages appear dull. The story is fast paced and full of twists but it also lack a little depth . The change in characters is not fully explained. And my biggest problem was with the swears and the hinglish language. Some  places , it really was a turn off. some characters were kind of wasted in the book,specially the women characters. Overall this was a much enjoyable read.

My rating : 4/5 


4 stars

Book Review: Angry River by Ruskin Bond

4:26:00 PM


I love short stories. They are perfect to read after those heavy reads that take a lot out of me as a reader. On that front, I think Ruskin Bond’s books excel. I admire the author a lot for his simplicity. I found this book at the library and just the title alone made me wonder what it had in store.

Angry River shares the story of Sita, her small family consisting of her grandmother and grandfather, and their life on an island at the middle of the big river. The river floods when her grandparents aren’t around, leaving Sita in a dilemma.

The story, I feel, is one about hope and faith. Sita’s seemingly simple and happy life is disrupted by the flood, but the girl, who has grown up near the river and hearing of its tale from the grandparents, continues to be hopeful. She tries to survive, rather than get panicked. The story, on its face, is a simple one. There aren’t any unexpected twists and turns, and neither does the storyline call for one. It’s engaging in its brevity too. There are just four or five characters through the story, but the focus is the young girl and her struggle during the flood. Her innocence is well portrayed, as is the fact that the stories she has heard is from her grandmother. This in turn is reflected in her imagination. I remember the stories of Krishna, Sita and others from Indian mythology being shared with me by my grandmother as I was growing up. It’s the same with Sita, and that is something beautiful.

This book is a quick read, and a beautiful one. I would definitely read it again, even if just to take a break from the longer length stories/novels around.

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R. No payment was taken for this review; these are the unbiased and uninfluenced thoughts of the reviewer about the book.

memories

Earliest reading Memories

8:52:00 PM


As long as I can remember , I see my mother trying her best to drown us in books. she was so dedicated to this cause that the school librarian would allow her to get extra books for me and my sister for the summer vacation. Of course it did not really help us, since half of the books she picked were GK and science books. Nevertheless , we always were allowed to pick any story book from places we visited or from relatives home. And some how , that set me on the path to read a lot of Panchatantra , Nandan , champak etc.

Once ( and many more times ) my English teacher discovered me reading in the lunch break, she asked me to read English novels to improve my vocabulary. She suggested Famous five but after few books when I chanced upon Hardy boys, I was hooked. Frank Hardy , first literary crush ( and still a favorite ) made sure I finished the whole series within an year. By the time I finished school, I was done reading Hardy boys , Famous five , few goosebump books and not a single Nancy Drew ! I still have never read a Nancy Drew book. Oh , how could I forget that I read HP 1-4 books in the same time.



I kind of forgot reading while in first two years of college. In third year , one of my seniors left a book in my room one night and since she was gone for a week, I finished the book. Luckily she was an avid reader and would happily lend me her books once she read them. the only memorable book from that time is "Memoirs of a Giesha" which I should mention that I did not like it first. Many years later , when I started working , that year Harry Potter book#7 was released and It was the first HP book that I bought. Previous ones I read were borrowed from a friend or library , whenever I heard of them. HP#7 revived my reading interest and in the same year I read most of the popular fantasy fiction. The fact that there was a Strand book store within Infosys campus helped me pick one book every month and before long , I was reading one book per week. there are countless books that have kept  me awake all night and made sure I never reach office before 11 am. so many weekend plans have been ruined by me as I could not leave the book and hence was late to the party ( at times , never making to the party at all ).

About four years back , I started reviewing books and that has made me appreciate the hard work that goes into getting a book into reader's hearts so much. Even the bad ones deserve some respect for the fact that some one wrote those 100+ pages while I can not even write a proper review without much effort ! 

But most of all , books have made me connect to many wonderful people from all over the world. The stories , the characters , the places - real or fictional have captured my heart and soul every time I have picked a good book. The high that an awesome fantasy fiction series have given me is unparalleled so far. It isn't a surprise that books have been my first love from the time I formed any opinion about love and that is some thing even my life partner does not wish to compete. He though does wish I can quit my night reading habit so he can sleep peacefully :D

What is the earliest book memory you have ? Share with me in email or comments.

AA Freda

Goodbye Rudy Kazoody by AA Freda

12:22:00 AM



Without going into much details about the title character , I can say that this book sure hit the right spots for me. The story of a group of teenagers ,led and kept in line by Spike ,as told by his cousin Joey will make many of us think of our childhood and the age of crushes ,love , lust and mistakes.

The story set up in a time and place when lot of Italians emigrated to America. The story covers the friends , the families ,the issues of immigrants and the impact on the kids specially. Though Spike is the hero of the area, the guy who seem to get anything he sets out to get because of his hard work and virtues ,I loved Betty. She is the kind of person/ friend I feel I am. I liked the dynamics of their relationship from the beginning and the way each character is molded deserves appreciation. It is a story that covers all important topics but maybe that is where lies the problem. It is too detailed at places. Yet , it is engaging read.

My rating : 3.5 / 5 ( I took .5 away for the frustrating mystery about the title )

Quote-

Besides, Betty has to find a way to come to terms with herself. She has to realize just how great she is. It’s fine to be normal. You don’t have to be perfect; all people make mistakes. As soon as she recognizes that, you’ll see Betty in a brand new light, I promise you.”

Aliza Galkin

The fat man's monologue by Aliza Galkin-Smith

11:16:00 AM

A popular history lecturer realizes at mid-life that he is not accountable to anyone, and decides to pursue his great passions: food, women and human history. Traveling through northern Italy, Wales, Devon and other locations, he learns and writes about food and the colorful stories behind it. In a charming, funny and witty monologue, he touches on his cravings for food and women, with detours into history. 


First thing , as much this book feels like a memoir , I doubt this is actually one. But it is still such an entertaining and lovely read , specially if you have any passion for food or cooking. The book is in first person , the story of  a history professor whose interest apart from history is to eat and understand what his food is made of. This love for food makes him meet Aviram , an ex student whose journey was partly inspired by the professor's teaching. Together Aviram & the professor navigate various experiments in food - Aviram cooking them , professor eating and providing critical reviews of them which in turn lead to the beginning of a blog post on history and food of different times and regions.

What I realized reading the book was that we all have a similar association with food - based on phases and places in our life , food is always an integral part of the experiences, whether we realize or not. This book , in terms of the women he meets , also explores different diets and food habits without boring the reader much. Also , the journeys that the professor takes to explore history and food , makes one wish for similar travels and to wonder about the places he eats at. The book is really heart-warming , realistically funny tale of a guy who loves food , history and people who like food. It is a happy world he wants to stay and even his flaws make him lovable.


My rating : 3.5/5

The book is free for Kindle Unlimited users

Fantasy

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

10:35:00 AM


HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGONS
Book 1 of "Temeraire"

ISBN - 9780345481283
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2006
PAGES - 353 (Paperback)
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Del Rey

AUTHOR - Naomi Novik

SYNOPSIS - Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire

QUOTES - 

  • And we must still try or we would be leaving our friends to fight without us. I think this is what you have meant by duty, all along; I do understand, at least this much of it.
  • I am beginning to feel the need of a glass of wine to fortify myself against this conversation.
  • I should rather have you than a heap of gold, even if it were very comfortable to sleep on.
  • It seems to me that if you wish to apply laws to us, it were only reasonable to consult us on them, and from what you have read to me about Parliament, I do not think any dragons are invited to go there.


FL Speak -  Temeraire. 

Goodness, it's a tough word to pronounce, isn't it lads? 
(please try to read this in British accent as I'm pretending right now) 

Aah, where do I begin? It's love at first page. Dragons. There you go, mate. That's the magic word. Who doesn't love them? Eragon has one, Harry Potter rode one. The point being, we love them. Now this isn't Middle Earth or Narnia. It's London. And it's building up for a war against the French who are led none other than that arrogant bastard, Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Yes, my dear, it's alternate history. Wars are fought with battleships in the seas, military in the streets and... Yes, the aerial corps comprising of those awesome swashbuckling men and women riding atop those beautiful and deadly dragons. 

That's the setting. Our reluctant older hero finds an egg and before long the young hatchling has decided to bond with him. And as a proud citizen of England, he has no other choice but to report to duty. In this case, vigorous training for the duo. Book 1 was all about duty, those English manners of the 80's, friendship and learning. And in between there were betrayals and wars which is almost normal. Right? 

I can tell you that this is going to be a wonderful series if the later books are penned the same way. I simply love the crisp, simple writing. There's never been a need for additional flair to make a story more compelling. Naomi's greatest strength lies in the fact that her words make it believable. Of course it's complete sane to duel with swords atop a dragon hundreds of feet in the air. It's also sane to believe that Napoleon was a gigantic prick (who also has more dragons btw). Bad guys somehow always have the upper hand. 

DRAGONS.

Oh Naomi, you stole my nights.

RATING - 5/5

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