Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Book Thief By- Markus Zusak

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The Plot:

Set in Nazi Germany, during the World War II, The Book Thief is a classic Historical fiction, that follows the journey of Liesel Meminger. The book is narrated by Death, taking us through the horrors of the world war and the lives of those affected by it. The book thief, Liesel finds solace in the books that she steals, and later goes on to write her own book which leaves behind in the rubble of destruction and death.   

The story:

The story begins with death – the death of Liesel’s little brother – in a train carriage, as she travels with their mother. As they bury her brother, she steals her first book – The Grave Digger’s Handbook, that she finds on the snow.

Unable to take care of her children, Liesel’s mother leaves her daughter at the footsteps of foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, in the fictional town of Molching in Munich. The girl is traumatised, yet she finds love in the warmth of Hans’ abundant care and Rosa’s fiery temper. Hans helps her read her first stolen book. The book becomes sacred to her as it is the last thing that connects her to her mother and brother. Every book she steals has some connection to her life.  

She also befriends Rudy, her neighbour, who falls in love with her. Their adventures together and how they stick to one another is emotional, yet fun-filled.

Another interesting part of the story is when Hans takes in a Jewish fist-fighter, Max, whose father happens to be Hans’ friend during the war. Giving refuge to a Jew might have been the biggest risk ever, yet Hans shelters him and hides him from the Nazis. Max and his sketchbooks help Liesel develop as a writer.           

What I liked:

The Book Thief is close to 600 pages, that is how voluminous the book is! Yet there’s never a dull moment in the book. It is not only Liesel, who manages to steal your heart along with the books she steals but every other character manages to wind themselves into your heart too! Whether it is Hans, reading a book to put the scared Liesel to sleep or Rosa, who calls Liesel ‘Saumensch’ – a pig – whenever she’s annoyed and yet it becomes a term of endearment for the little girl, whether it is Rudy who never gives up on trying to get a kiss out of Liesel or Max, who shares an affinity of words with Liesel - we never get enough of these characters!

The narration by Death is gripping, and the book itself is a treasure! As you move along the book, you contemplate the fragility of human life, on the futility of wars, on compassion, on stolen pleasures, and death. The book is not a grim or depressing read though, the narration and characters are lively and make you smile.  

There are delightful expressions like – “The sun – looks like a pat of softened butter – melting into a warm, creamy mashed potato cloud – in the middle of a bottomless powder blue bowl”.

Sample another, when Rudy introduces himself, “Have you ever seen a lemon? That’s what my hair looks like.”  

Or Death’s account of what remains after a war, “So many humans. So many colours. They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of each other.

All the little details that the author has put in, the melodrama, the delightful words, and phrases, the mellifluous language, all make it a reader’s delight. In fact, if you are a Grammar Nazi - pardon the unsavoury coincidence – you would find the book peppered with adjectives and sprinkled with adverbs, and phrases that paint a virtual rainbow of words on your page!  

Final words:

There are two ways people enjoy food – the fast food lovers and the ones who like an elaborate dining experience. If you are the former, this book is definitely not for you. But if you are the kind that would take time to take in the flavours, and relish every single morsel at your own leisurely pace, then, this book is a must-read.

It made me cry, it did! And rarely does a book do that to me. I think you get it, right?


Monday, May 25, 2020

Book Review - Love.exe by Manju Nambiar



The Plot:

This is a sweet romantic tale by Manju Nambiar, which details the protagonist, Nitya’s journey into finding the love of her life. The book delicately balances Nitya’s ambitious nature while she seeks to uphold her family values and traditions. It could be the story of every middle-class Indian family ever – be it the familiar coterie of aunts, uncles and cousins influencing family decisions, or the moms and aunts taking TV serials literally, the banter over wedding ceremonies or the travails and frustrations of keeping up with your heart – it touches the chord in all the right places.     

The story:

Nitya is an intelligent girl and is accepted into the prestigious Stanford University, in the US of A. But like all traditional families, hers too will not let her get away unless she’s married. After all whoever’s heard of a single girl living it up in a foreign country, right?! Nitya, therefore, decides to stage a marriage of convenience with the groom chosen by her family. But due to certain twists in the story, the wedding is called off. Yet Nitya manages not only to fly away to her dream destination but also to land a plum job there. Life takes an unpredictable turn when she bumps into her ex-fiancĂ© at her workplace but will she be able to forgive him for the broken marriage? What happens next in their lives is what the rest of the story is all about.    

What I liked:

I liked the story – it’s predictable, but who doesn’t like a mushy romance? The ending left me feeling good and with a smile on my face. The story flows well and the narration kept me hooked to find out more. The setting and conversations feel natural and I could identify with the characters, especially the members of Nitya’s family.  

I also liked Nitya’s character – it’s strong but not arrogant, giving yet not subservient. It’s difficult not to fall in love with her.   

What I would have liked:

I don’t intend to be a grammar Nazi, but I felt the editing could have been better and errors in grammar and punctuation could have been avoided. Also, certain passages were described in too much detail and I found myself unwittingly skipping those which seemed to stretch too long. Other than that, the narration was flawless.

Final words:

This is a nice little story with relatable characters and familiar family values. If romance is your genre, this could be a good book to snuggle in bed with, on a beautiful, rainy day!  

Go for it!





LOVE.EXE: 
A Sweet Romantic Comedy Making You Fall in Love by 
Manju Nambiar



Blurb

If you are looking for a feel-good heartwarming love story with a happy ending, this is your right pick!

Nitya Balakrishnan, a young girl from Kerala had it all planned out. She was going to live the life of her dreams in the United States of America. And she thought she had nailed it when she was accepted into one of the best universities in the world. But the cosmos had other plans and conspired to drop love.exe into her.

He came with a bang and stole her away in a breath. Love was not quite there in her agenda, but her heart wouldn’t hear of it. The human heart has its own little brain with its strange logic that remains elusive to our reasoning. For once, she just let it be, only to realize that there is no undo button.

This coming of age, a beautiful tale of love, relationships, and dreams would prick your soul, bring a smile to you, and tear up your eyes. A must-read!
     

Grab your copy @

Amazon.in | Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk 

About the author




"My work is mostly reflections on society with a satirical flavor. The characters in my book are people you can easily connect to and have met all your lives. I try to make the read entertaining, light, and pleasant. To me, writing is a medium to spread comfort, positivity, and good humor.

I have had a racing mind since childhood, which does all kinds of analysis, interpretations, and conclusions of everyday mundane events but have always held my tongue tight for fear of sounding politically incorrect. I found writing to be a perfect platform where I got to finally vocalize my thoughts and ideas. 

Manju Nambiar hails from the southern state of Kerala, India. A computer engineer by profession, she now works in one of the leading firms in San Jose, California where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her hobbies include reading, hiking, playing with her daughter, and catching up on the latest technologies and trends in the Valley."

You can stalk her @

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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Monday, August 12, 2019

Her Saviour

The water that was knee deep,
Had begun it’s ascent again,
The lifeless bodies floating outside,
Made her heart scream out in pain.

There was no one she could call out to,
She stood before her Lord,
Panduranga, hear me out she cried
Clutching the metal God.

She felt a kick within her womb,
A tear escaped her eye,
Would her unborn live to see the day,
She looked askance at the sky.

The lamp in the small temple,
Flickered and dwindled and died,
Her hopes refused to die out though,
Vittala, Vittala, she cried.

Eyes closed, and heart chanting,
Her ears strained to hear some sound,
In this watery, slushy graveyard,
Would she ever be found?

Then she felt strong arms,
Wrapped around the small of her back,
Famished, and tired and fraught ,
The world around her turned black.

It was bright when she opened her eyes,
The world nothing like she’d seen,
But Her Lord had saved her, he did indeed,
Her Vittala in military green..

Monday, December 31, 2018

Bidding goodbye to 2018! *Gratitude Circle*


2018 has been a mixed bag of sorts. But I guess, every year is like that – a little sweet, a little sour. Looking back, I realise that true happiness is not about having everything your way but being thankful for whatever you have, no matter how much! It is always the little things that count – small, yet bringing us unbridled joy!

I’m thankful for all that caused my cup of happiness to overflow – some despite bringing sadness and grief.

Here’s -

To New Beginnings!

It took more than a nudge and a push from two of my staunchest cheer leaders – my sister, Aarti, and my son, Shusrith - to put me on to the track to new beginnings. I’m grateful to have these two indispensable gems in my life. They seem to believe in my capabilities more than I do, they know how to shake me out of my slumber and do and say (scream at me, if need be!) whatever it takes to propel me to act. If it were not for them, I’d probably still be deliberating my every move without acting on any! Thanks to their encouragement, I’m gainfully employed doing something that gives me immense satisfaction. A job that doesn’t feel like a job but rather like an extension of myself – something that I was born to do!


To family and love!

Dad celebrated his 70th birthday this year. I’m grateful to my entire clan for showing up for the celebrations! More than three generations of the family, from different parts of the country, gathering under one roof to show their love to us, was more than overwhelming. In this day and age of digital communication, it was heart-warming to have the family take time out from their hectic schedules and to be present physically to share in our happiness.

Bheema Rathi Shanti homa!

To Friends!

I’m grateful for friends who are my backbone. Friends, who didn’t keep count of whose turn it was to call. Friends, who kept listening to me even if I managed to chew their ears off with the same beaten track over and over again. Friends, who ensured I stayed sane even in the midst of insanity. Friends, who I've turned to at any time of the day or night. Aparna, Smitha, Ajay, Deepthi, Deepak, Sanchita – thanks for being there! You rock and I love you all!   



To sickness and health!

Two extended family members got diagnosed with the dreaded ‘C’, but I’m grateful that they stayed strong and fought back. I’m grateful that they came out victorious. The will they showed to stay positive in the face of adversity, the grit they exhibited while dealing with the pain of the disease and the treatment, became a source of inspiration for all of us. They did not let themselves or others feel sorry for them. It was truly a lesson we all needed to learn.

Hubby turned diabetic, I had turned obese, but, I’m grateful for the support and strength we found in each other to get fit. We walked together, pushed each other to eat healthy, (sometimes, literally!) but by the end of the year, I’m glad we made a happy turnaround and how! I lost oodles of weight, hubby has his sugar in control and now we do happily splurge on an occasional treat!


To grief and loss.

I’ve lost far too many dear ones this year. Yet I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to know these wonderful people. I’m grateful they were a part of me growing up and had a role in making me what I’m today. Two of my dearest - Giri Dodappa, and Doctor Upadhyaya - you will be missed but thank you for being a part of my life.   


I’m grateful for the people I have in my life today. I’m grateful for those who keep me in their prayers every day. I’m grateful for their unconditional love and hope they know I love them as much. I’m also grateful for the ones that have slipped away. They must have come into my life for a reason, they taught me what they had to and left when the lesson was learnt. I’m grateful for opportunities and things that fell into place like a huge jigsaw puzzle! 

To conclude, here's a quote from Zig Ziglar, that I find to be quite true!

  

How has 2018 treated you? What are the things you are grateful for? Do share in the comments below.

Wish you and your families a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2019!  


Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: The Fisher Queen's Dynasty by Kavita Kane.


The Plot:
This mythological tale by Kavita Kane is set at the beginning of the Mahabharata and traces the life, the history, the ambitions, and the travails of the woman who is the grand matriarch of this epic story. It is an extraordinary story of Satyavati and how the lineage that originates from King Bharata ends up being carried forward by her alone.  

The story:
Mahabharata is not an alien subject for the lover of mythology but the story of the Fisher Queen Satyavati sure is to many. I had read about her in a passing reference in most books but never a complete book devoted to her. The story of Satyavati and her meteoric rise from the daughter of a chieftain to the queen of the most powerful dynasty and later the realisation of how all her ambitions and struggles have been in vain form the crux of the story. Whether you love her for being a strong woman and a person who fights to get the best out of her life or you hate her for being the beginning of the end, you sure cannot ignore Satyavati. Her story needs to be told and to be read, for it holds a mirror to the modern day dynamics of purpose, prestige, and power.

What I liked:
The author has an innate sense of language that is delightful to read and satisfying to devour! Her choice of words are immaculate and her characters are strong with a mind of their own. The research is exhaustive and it is amazing to see how far back the author has travelled to make this account truly belong to the woman she wishes to chronicle. Many parts of the story were new to me and I had not heard of some of the characters. At the same time, the familiar bits of the story were delivered in a fresh package making this novel a page-turner.
What I also liked about the story is that the author makes no attempt to judge any character and leaves that decision to the reader. To not lead a reader to the conclusion you have in mind can be very tricky and it is commendable that the author manages to stay away from shaping your thoughts for you.   

What I would have liked:
It can be quite a balance to not let research look like it, but the strain of the research did start to show in certain parts. I found myself unwittingly skipping few passages which seemed to stretch too long. Other than that, the narration was flawless.

Final words:
This is a beautiful story, with an great portrayal of a not-so-well-known mythological character. I have read all of Kavita’s previous books and have become a huge fan of her writing. Strong female characters and adept retelling of familiar tales are her forte.
I’d strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story, not just of mythology. Go for it!

The Blurb:

‘I learnt to love like a man—to love without feelings. And I shall never forget this lesson.’

Matsyagandha, Daseyi, Yojanagandha — the queen of Hastinapur, Satyavati. Abandoned as a baby, preyed on by a rishi, she hardens herself, determined that the next time she is with a man, she will be the one to win. And win she does: the throne of Hastinapur for herself, and the promise that her sons will be heirs to the kingdom. But at what cost?

In a palace where she is disdained and scorned, Satyavati must set aside her own loss and pain if she is to play the game of politics. She learns to be ruthless, unscrupulous — traits that estrange her from everyone around. Everyone, except the man she cheated of his birthright.

A piercing, insightful look at the grand matriarch of the Kuru family, the woman who set off the sequence of events that ended in the bloody battle of Kurukshetra, The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty will re-align your reading of the Mahabharata.
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