Fresh from the bookshelf

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Over the years, I have realized that every and now, there comes a book that turns out to be what you never expected it to be. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency  by Alexander McCall Smith is definitely one of them. And what made it all the more special was the way I found it on a nice corner table in one of the quaint cafes here in Singapore. This book was left by someone as part of the bookcross initiative. Bookcrossing is a belief that every book needs to travel the world. Each book has a unique BookCross Id. and all you need to do is pick up the book, have fun reading it and then leave it someplace where someone else will pick it up. You can login to the bookcross website and see where your book came from and where it has travelled. Mine came all the way from Holland. You can then leave an entry there as to where you picked it. This becomes like the book’s travel journal. So exciting, right?

Pretty much like the book itself. I had read about this book on several blogs and it was on my to-read list as well. The title piqued my curiosity and like many of you, I thought it will be a mystery or similar plot. This book is much more than that. It is a story that portrays the beauty of being human and the joy of little relationships in such simple and subtle ways that you can’t get enough of.


Precious Ramotswe is a Motswana woman has her own detective agency, the only one in Botswana and is the protagonist and main detective. In this first book of the series, Precious solves mysteries in the most logical and simple ways that it is a delight to read them without all the build-up that other suspense novels have. Infact, what really keeps you on the edge of your seat is finding out what mystery she will solve next and how she will cleverly do it.

What made this book special is the simple narration. There is nothing elaborate and it speaks of the human nature so beautifully that it is an absolute delight to read. The lives of people in Africa, especially Botswana is portrayed through the people Precious meets, the mysteries and some snippets from Precious’ past. Some of the thoughts and lines by Precious are simple truths but hit you hard.

I loved Previous’ character immensely. She is such a resolute woman, one who is independent, has her heart in the right place and smart, oh yes! Right from mysteries surrounding missing husbands to witchcraft, this book sees Precious solving them all sans any buildup of suspense that you find in thrillers. Read it for the its beautiful human interaction, the protagonist and most importantly for the freshness the book brings.

Don’t Blink by James Patterson

dont blinkdont blinkdont blinkdont blink

Nick Daniels is a reporter who has the opportunity to conduct a once-in-a-lifetime interview with a legendary baseball player who is media shy. He is waiting for the player to run up at New York’s popular Lombardo’s Steak House when a gruesome murder happens right next to him. Inadvertently he has collected a vital piece of evidence. This creates a war between the mafia and  lands him in an adventure where he runs for his life.  Pursued by threats, humiliation, narrow escapades, he is bent on unravelling the mystery and writing his story. Amidst all this is his rocky relationship with Courtney. How does he unearth the facts? How many lives will be sacrificed towards the cause?

I enjoy thrillers. But somehow, I took a few days to finish this in different sittings. This is my first book by James Patterson and I kind of had some expectations. I wouldn’t say it was a bad book but somehow it did not bring me to the edge of my seat at all. So, I don’t really recommend it. But if you like similar genres, give it a go. Nothing big here.


I’ve got my ..

nose buried in quite a few books. This year has started on a reading high even though my reviews hardly reflect that. Sometimes, I just feel so lost in the book and the million thoughts that loom over my small head that I fail miserably to makes notes of it. How do I note down a gazillion questions that don’t find answers but give rise to more questions? Anyhoooo, I better gather the scattered thoughts  and start writing about my reading experience before I close this window for another day.

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle

I chose this for 2 reasons: the title (Tquila mockingbird from To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee) and the phrase “literary twist”. Yeah, I choose books like that. It sounded so tempting that I bought it on my Kindle at 3A.M. one fine morning. To summarize in one word: I loved the book. I loved the wit, the precision, the information and just the way it has been brought together in neat little chapters that have brilliant wordplay with literary gems and end with food/drinks. What’s not to like, right?


The book consists of 5 parts namely, Drinks for the dames, Gulps for guys, Bevvies for bookclubs, Refreshments for recovering readers and Bar bites for book hounds. Each drink recipe is assigned a very witty name associated with a particular book e.g. Love in the Time of Kahlua is a wordplay of the book “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez. Each recipe comes with a satirical description of the book it is named after followed by the recipe and measurements. I don’t enjoy alcohol and I am the one who orders virgin everything or sip on some wine occassionally. Nevertheless, I loved this book. My favourite section was ofcourse the one on bar bites. I actually marked a few recipes. Read it for the wit, read it for the unique way it has been written and for the sheer joy that the names of drinks such as The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose, The Last of the Mojitos, Love in the Time of Kahlúa, Romeo and Julep, A Rum of One’s Own, Are You There, God?,  It’s Me, Margarita or Vermouth the Bell Tolls, all named after books, brings. Go on, read this one. One of those rare times when you can have your drink and read it too!

The man who was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K.Chesterton

I picked this up to read on my Kindle as well because I loved the intrigue and curiosity that the title created in me. Plus, I love Chesterton. I grew up listening to Bernard Shaw and Chesterton’s wit by pa.


The book begins in the most interesting of ways. Two passionate poets argue  about the society, its good and bad.  The focus is on whether chaos should reign the world or order be the true characteristic of mankind. Starting from this, we are drawn into the heart of anarchy characterised by several events and people where none can be expected to be who he is. The main protagonist, Syme, a policeman/poet joins a bizarre group of anarchists. These anarchists each have a name of the week as their title and Syme is given the title of Thursday. The events leading up to this itself are very amusing. However he quickly discovers that it may be harder to hide who he is in the group  as he discovers some surprises about the anarchists themselves.

I was piqued to know the ending, to say the least. But the ending I must say is not easy to comprehend. It wasn’t for me. I tossed and turned in my sleep because I wanted to find answers. The book is an allegory. It is also a symbol of fight between law and order vs. anarchy. While the book was written more than a hundred years ago, the question still holds true today. Apparently, when Chesterton wrote this book, the threat of anarchist movement was large. Even to this day, we have a lot of forces that fight law and order/ go against it. But different readers feel differently about the ending the true meaning of the book. There are several explanations offered – Christianity, Communism, experiencing pain to reap the good and so on. But I never really understood the book in its entirety. What started off as a good James Bondery expressed in unique detail with superb wit (as always!), turned out to be one seductive web that threw questions about life and society. What I also inferred was the masks people wear to hide/protect themselves from others. We aren’t what we show ourselves to be.

The book is written beautifully. The story moves in and out of locales and yet does it with such finesse and fluidity that not many can boast of. I loved Chesterton’s language and the ubiquitous humour. Sample this:

His respectability was spontaneous and sudden, a rebellion against rebellion. He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else. His father cultivated art and self-realisation; his mother went in for simplicity and hygiene.

I wouldn’t recommend this book for everyone. If you enjoy an allegory, some drama, some mystery and a blend of the remaining genres all in one, do read this one. And when you do, please tell me what you make of it. I am yet to sleep in peace.

The Buddha in the Attic

Some books, no matter how short, draw you in, sweep you off your feet and leave you asking for more. They make you travel back in time, bring the characters right in front of you almost as if you can touch them and see for yourself how vivid words can be. They make you sad in a happy kind of way and happy in a sad way. They tell you stories of an entire generation in a few pages and few lines even. They make you feel something you cannot place and that feeling lingers when you are at Mc Donald or even just staring at the ceiling at home, lying on your favourite couch.

One such book is “The Buddha in the Attic” by Julie Otsuka. The book is inspired bythe life stories of Japanese immigrants who came to America in early 1900s. Otsuka has drawn upon a large number of historical sources and explores the fate of a large group of picture brides brought from Japan to US.  Narrated in the first person plural, the novel opens with the women on the boat travelling from Japan to San Francisco.


The book through its incantatory sections traces the lives of these women from their arduous voyage where the girls excitedly compare photos of their husbands-to-be and fantasize about unknown features in a foriegn land; to their arrival and first-nights with their husbands; to their endless back-breaking labour as migrant workers in the fields of white owners and as helpers for white women; their struggle to adapt to a new culture and langauge; their experiences in childbirth and raising children who reject Japanese heritage; and finally, the arrival of war and how every Japanese is viewed suspiciously and their trials and the agonizing prospect of internment.

The book had me spell-bound. I loved how Otsuka has divided the book into chapters, each signifying an important phase, a collection of experiences that talk to you. It is a story of loyalty and identity. The expectations and fears of Japanese women about America is described beautifully. But if you ask me about my favourite sections, I will, without batting an eyelid, say “Babies” and “Children”. I loved how the chapter on babies opened – “We gave birth under oak trees, in summer, in 113-degree heat. We gave birth beside wood stoves in one-room shacks on the coldest nights of the year…. we gave birth quietly,  like our mothers who never cried-out or complained….. we gave birth secretly, in the woods, to a child our husband knew was not his…. “As I sit to type the lines, I realize I may just reporoduce the entire chapter.

What makes it all the more powerful is the first person plural narrative. Honestly, I hadn’t read a book until this one,  that followed this narrative style and spoke so powerfully to me. When Otsuka starts a line with “One of us..”, I loved the way it made me think of a single woman amongst the group of Japanese women I had drawn in my inner mind and sometimes, I just couldn’t figure out who it would be. Sometimes, I had a great deal of confusion identifying that woman. I loved the writing style – so simple, so classy, so power-packed and so poignant.

The women’s lives in America and how things are different from what they had been led to expect is beautifully portrayed. Many a time we have certain perceptions of a foriegn culture that come from all sorts of sources but when reality strikes, you realize how different things actually are. Sometimes they turn out to be better and sometimes not. Sometimes they shock you to the core but you go on like it has always been a part of you. But as a reader, it moves you, shocks you and makes you want to change things for the characters in some places. And yet, quite pradaoxically, you find the sadness and tragedy beautiful. It evokes something in you and makes you realize that you love reading for this same thing. And reinforces why stories are the best. Again, what makes Otsuka‘s writing spectacular, is its ability to convey so many experiences, so stories as one collective journey through a narrative in first person plural.

Read this one for the sheer narrative style; for the story of an entire generation in brief chapters; for the poignant description of children’s dreams that differed from those of their mothers; for the reminder that life enjoys playing with us by bringing about rifts between expectations and reality; for the shocking tales of so many women who call themselves “We”.



Dear Mr. Knightley and a wonderful bonus! :)

Imagine being granted a scholarship on the grounds that you must write a letter sharing your progress  to that mysterious person. Now, imagine a book that is a collection of these letters. Outpourings of a heart that make you want to stop and realize that it is Sam‘s life you are reading and not your own.  And the icing on the already delicious cake? Lots of Jane Austen for you. Yes, my dearies. That’s right.

I fell in love with the title “Dear Mr. Knightley” because, if you know me, you know I love letters. So, when Booksneeze sent me a copy of this book to review, I was only too happy to do it. Who is Sam? What is the past that she guards so fiercely? Who is the mysterious Mr. Knightley who asks her to write letters? Will she ever meet Mr. Knightley?


Sam receives an extraordinary opportunity when a certain Mr. Knightley offers her a scholarship to study at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism on the condition that she updates him of her progress. The book traces a beautiful transformation of Sam as she steps into college, the process of making friends, living up to expectations, finding love amidst fighting other battles, all the while seeking solace in books. I expected a cute, happy book but was quite blown away by the depth at places.

The language is simple with a good dose of Jane Austen (ofcourse!)  and was a page turner for me. I enjoy first person accounts and the interesting premise only aded to the good experience. There were instances where I was a little impatient and wondered why the transformation took so much time but then that’s life, right? Things don’t change miraculously always. And fighting those demons and healing yourself is no  crash course either. Dear Mr. Knightley is an epistolary novel that turned out to be a lovely debut for me!

Now here’s the bonus. Katherine Reay, the author of this lovely book, was kind enough to do a small interview for my blog. This is my first interview with an author and I am pretty kicked about sharing it with you all. Thank you so much Katherine for being so nice!

1. I totally enjoyed your book! How did the idea for the book come about?

Dear Mr. Knightley started during my recovery from an injury. Many of the ways I defined myself were removed for a time – tennis, running, tae kwon do, cleaning the house, driving carpool, volunteering, even standing in the kitchen cooking…. I was housebound for several months recovering, praying, reading and, eventually, writing. I started reading the classics, beginning with Jane Austen, and spread from there. When I got to Jean Webster’s Daddy Long Legs, I found context for the character already developing in my head. It all rolled from there…

 2. Sam undergoes a transformation that is beautifully reflected in the letters. Is Sam’s life based on someone you know personally?

 Sam shares no common history with any one I know personally or with me. That is why I say at the back of the book that all mistakes are my own. I need to be so careful about that because my book is fiction, but for some, such an experience is reality. When writing I worked to make Sam’s life bigger, tougher, and more challenging than many of us face so that we could more easily sneak into her emotional world and realize her struggles are universal – because, regardless of our circumstances, I think we all strive to define ourselves, face insecurity and fear, seek a place to stand and belong, and search for a family to love.

3. What do you enjoy most about writing?

Honestly, I love it all. As my sister says, “You get paid to live in your head.” But “most”?  I think I like that moment when the skeleton is on the page (my initial 50K word draft) and I get to start layering emotions. That’s a wonderful time.

4. Loved reading so much of Jane Austen. Was she a great influence in your life? Who are some of your other favourite authors?

She is huge for me. I have read all her novels repeatedly – and they are brilliant. I also return again and again to Tolkien, Lewis, Dickens, and Chesterton. Now that said, I don’t spend all my time in the past – there are innumerable great books out today and I try to inhale as many as possible.

5. Tell us a little more about your family.

I have a wonderful husband, three fantastic kids and a dog. The kids are thrilled with the book – they think it’s much more glamorous than it is and that’s fun.

 6. How does your family feel about your book?

My immediate family is bursting with joy, but my extended family is completely surprising and delighting me. I knew they loved me etc., but to hear all my cousins on Facebook and Twitter raving about the book is so fun. It’s nice to connect across the miles this way.

 7. What are your hobbies?

Ah… so many. I play tennis, I run, I read, I cook, I try to clean the house, I only needlepoint in the summer while visiting my parents and watching movies, I love gluing things back together and fixing stuff and I fly fish.

 8. Any more books in the pipeline?

Lizzy and Jane is next and in the editing process right now. It will be out next fall and I am so excited about this story. It’s got all the big guns: sisters, conflict, food, Jane Austen, Hemingway (threw you there, didn’t I?), love, and breast cancer. I know that last one is a bummer, but it’s a reality that so many of us experience either personally or walking the journey with family and friends. Basically Lizzy and Jane is the story of a young woman, Lizzy, who has excised love from her life and, as she helps her sister through chemotherapy, she starts to put it back in – in all its wonderful and varied forms.

Thank you Katherine!

So peeps, have you read this book yet?



The English Teacher

 I have not overlooked my love for authors from R – from Roald Dahl to Ruskin Bond to Rudyard Kipling to R.K.Narayan and why, even R.K. Laxman, one of the best cartoonists in my opinion.

the english teacher

The English Teacher is written by R.K. Narayan and is considered to be the last of the series preceded by Swami and his Friends and Bachelor of Arts. Based on the life of an English teacher at the Albert Mission College, Krishna, this story is known to be autobiographical and hence largely based on R.K. Narayan’s life.

Krishna‘s wife Susila is away at her parent’s place post-delivery of their daughter. As the story unfolds, the couple move to a small rented place and thus begins a period of marital bliss. Their daughter Leela becomes the apple of their eye and it all seems like a paradise, until fate decides otherwise. The happiness that seemed to perpetuate every nook and cranny is only short-lived. Krishna‘s life undergoes a huge change and he is benumbed by the events around him.

Just when tears cloud your vision, fate teases him again. A stranger seems to have the strangest message for him from someone he couldn’t even imagine. And it is here, that you see hope and extraordinary insight in the form of conversations. During this time, he also meets a profound man, the headmaster of a school for children with whom he builds a wonderful relationship. As if all these were dots, the climax (or a new beinning) signifies the process and how the dots are beautifully connected making way for inner peace and wisdom.

I picked this one up from Higginbothams at Ooty a couple of months back and am so glad I did. I LOVED reading it. It made me ponder and made me want to read endlessly and yet had me dying-to-know how it would all unfold. If a book does that, I know I have a gem.

I stuck page tabs one after the other hoping to come back to lines so simple in language but so big in thought. That’s why I love this man.  Like Spectator puts it, “The hardest of all things for a novelist to communicate is the extraordinary ordariness of human happiness. ” R.K. Narayan does it with such elan and finesse that you don’t even recognize the attempt until much after you have closed the book and it all dawns on you and creeps into every hair cell of your body.

Each character is woven intricately – from the bindi of Susila to her saree’s colour to the glow on her face and her expressions – I could see her in front of me. The emotional turmoil, the happiness derived from simple everyday pleasures, the euphoria of dreaming big, the joy of companionship, the innocence that is a child, the humour in a staffroom – everything is depicted par excellence.

“These tiny phials had compressed in them the essence of her personality, the rustle of her dress, her footfalls, laughter, her voice, and the light in her eyes, the perfume of her presence. The bottles were empty now but the lingering scent in them covered for a brief moment the gulf between the present and the past.”

One beauty about RKN’s writing is how he manages to write a one page story in 100 pages and yet make it seem to vivid as a motion picture.

I took away a lot of beautiful thoughts and gained a lot of reminders and insight through the conversations between the characters.

“Wife, child,brothers, parents, friends…. we come together only to go apart gaain. It is one continuous movement. They move away from us as we move away from them. The law of life can’t be avoided. The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother’s womb. All struggle and misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. … A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life….”

As I read the last few lines –

” A cool breeze lapped our faces. The boundaries of our personalities suddenly dissolved. It was a moment of rare, immutable joy – a moment for which one feels grateful to Life and Death.”

I was numb  for having been transported in place, time and soul to magical realism.


And some more reading.

Restoring Grace ( by Katie Fforde)

This is the first book I read by Katie Fforde after I picked it up from the local library. Being chick-lit (can I call it that?) it was something very very different from what I normally read.

Restoring Grace

The story revolves around Grace Soudners and Ellie Summers, both of whom discover a new friendship pretty much by chance and out of dire need for a friend. While Grace is broke and needs a lodger, Ellie who is pregnant from an ex-boyfriend, moves in with her. When the curtains fall down, Grace and Ellie discover some valuable paintings that can help Grace. But ofcourse, there are a lot of other people and issues that threaten this from happening.

That’s it. It is all about their life. But the problem doesn’t lie there. Inspite of having read it and enjoyed a few parts, I felt frustrated and angry at the protagonist. Grace comes across as someone who makes one mistake after another and is such a doormat, repeatedly allowing people to walk over and trample her. While I think it does happen in real life, sometimes too much of it can take away the inspiration and joy that you find in a book.

The plot is slow and though it could have turned out to be something much better, it simply doesn’t. Not even after giving it a 100 pages.

Did not work for me.

A bride for Tom ( by Ruth Ann Nordin)

I picked this one up on my Kindle(for a super duper low price) after I finished reading “The Shadow of the Wind”.  After that wonderful read, I wanted something light, really light. “A bride for Tom” is just that – super light and you will finish it even before you begin.

A bride for Tom

Tom Larson is having a difficult phase finding a wife thanks to his “clumsiness”. Enter Jessica Reynolds, engaged to Peter, who wishes to set this right by helping Tom overcome his clumsiness. What follows is very predictable but I read it for the sheer simplicity of the language and fun. There is nothing new you will learn here or be inspired by,  but you still get entertained. Quaint, no evil and you still turn pages thinking of something exciting to happen though you secretly know the story already. You know what I mean?

But the language used in quite a few places does not sync with the era in which the story is set. That left me feeling a bit “Erm?!” at places.

The sequel to this is “A husband for Margaret” – something that is touted to be better by some readers. I will be reading that sometime soon as well.  A light read during journeys and nothing fancy.

What have you all been reading, you wonderful folks?

Oh, happy week to you all! 🙂

‘The Shadow of the Wind’ – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

If you don’t believe in magic, please read this book. For it is just that.


When the lovely lady here shared her delectable review here, I was drawn to it. The way, Daniel was drawn to “The shadow of the wind” in this book. The plot, the characters and the flawless flow of language captivated me and I believe I have left a part of myself in the book, refusing to leave, wanting to linger.

Have you felt the taste of contentment that comes when you read stories within stories, an intricate maze, beautifully constructed with absolute precision where there are no loose ends? That feeling of bliss as you unravel one mystery after the other, impatiently waiting to know what happens but never forgetting to savour every detail?

This book is that piece of magic. In Daniel’s own words,

“This is a story about books… about accursed books, about the man who wrote them, about a character who broke out of the pages of a novel so that he could burn it, about a betrayal and a lost friendship. It’s a story of love, of hatred, and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind” (178).

Young Daniel is introduced by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books  –“A labyrinth of passage-ways and crammed bookshelves rose from base to pinnacle like a beehive, woven with tunnels, steps, platforms and bridges that presaged an immense library of seemingly impossible geometry.”  The Cemetery of Forgotten books is a secret place that houses some of the rare and forgotten titles . Isn’t that so poetic? A place where books go to sleep but are still kept alive? I fell for it when Daniel’s father says:

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens” (6).

When his father, as per tradition asks him to choose a book for himself and protect it for life, Daniel finds “The Shadow of the wind” by an author he has never heard of,  Julian Carax.  He is  mesmerized by the story and the writing and wishes to read other books by the author. Strangely, not only is the author not familiar, but his books seem to have been destroyed by a character from his own book, who still seems to be on a quest to destroy any other existing copies.  In his journey to find more books and protect the copy he has,  he gets drawn into the life of Julian Carax. And strangely, Daniel’s own life seems to mirror that of Carax’ in many ways. Daniel gets drawn into the quest to find more about Julian Carax. As he grows older, he meets many new characters and is further drawn into a story that gets more and more intriguing and dramatic with tragedy, horror, suspense, passion, romance and above all – hope.

This is one of those few books where almost every page has a quote. Where I fell in love almost every minute I read. Where I had goosebumps throughout. Where I found hope and passion amidst gloom and darkness.

“The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.”

Where I saw shadows and walked down the streets of Barcelona. Where the characters seduce you and the writing style is almost on par with old literary masters.

“. . .sometimes one feels freer speaking to a stranger than to people one knows. Why is that?”
“Probably because a stranger sees us the way we are, not as he wishes to think we are.”

Here’s more amazement in store: This book is actually a translation. But you will never find it out. Not with the kind of eloquence with which it has been written.

Because Zafon is one genius of an author. He knows a book lover too well. He knows that for a book-lover, the book is not just a story. It is a sneak-peek into the author’s mind. An insight to worlds untravelled and an avenue to meet new people. He knows that a book tells us much much more than the mere story.  And that’s how he has etched a beautiful plot with poetry on almost every page, weaving stories within each other that flow so smoothly as though one; where Julian Carax, Daniel, Nuria, Fermin, Isaac, Penelope, Jacinta, Fumero linger on your mind long after you have closed the book. Where you see shadows everywhere. And you begin to understand as to why Julian Carax’ books are being burnt.

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echoes of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a place in our memory to which, sooner or later – no matter how many books we read, how many words we discover, or how much we learn or forget – we will return. 

While the book is sheer brilliance mostly, with loose ends tied up neatly, I had one little doubt though. A lot of the mysteries are solved in the end in a  long letter written by a character who didn’t seem to be involved in some of the events.  It is possible that I may have overlooked something or Zafon must have gotten carried away. Anyways. That does not make this book any less than a must-have and a must-read.

“Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.”

You may find it a bit too artistic at times, even normal conversations. But I loved the style. I started marking quotes to re-read and share and realized half-way that I seemed to be highlighting the entire book.

 ‘People are evil.’

‘Not evil, ‘Fermin objected, ‘Moronic, which isn’t quite the same thing. Evil presupposes a moral decision, intention and some forethought. A moron or a lout, however, doesn’t stop to think or reason. He acts on instinct, like an animal, convinced he’s doing good, that he’s always right and sanctimoniously proud to go around fucking up, if you’ll excuse the French, anyone he perceives to be different from himself, be it because of skin colour creed, language, nationality or, as in the case of Don Frederico, his leisure pursuits. What the world really needs are more thoroughly evil people and fewer borderline pinheads.

I know this review is filled with quotes – but you will realize how hard it is to not share them when you read this book. Please go and read this. Because I don’t think anyone can review it adequately without rewriting the book. Because, you wouldn’t want this book to land in that cemetery of forgotten books .

The Hunger Games trilogy

This is one trilogy that I cannot write about. I mean, I love it so much! Yet, here I am. Because I loved it so much that I think my blog will be honoured to have this here. Okay, that was too much of a love declaration.


 I love sci-fi. But that’s not the reason why I love this trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Throughout the trilogy – The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, there is something about Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist that made me want to cling on to this through night and day until I could store it all up neatly in the deep pit of my tummy. Yeah, I devoured it. For such is the character of the protagonist. The love that the author has for Katniss’ character shows through the pages. And really, that’s not something you see about often.

The trilogy starts off with Katniss introducing the storyline. Here, I must admit that I was a little not too impressed. But that was only for about 10 pages. Once I started to know more about the nation of Panem, the ruthless Capitol that dictates the 12 districts in the most outrageous of ways and the hunger games, I just couldn’t stop.

The Capitol has its own way of entertainment – the Hunger Games. Each district sends in 2 children beteen 12 an 18 years drawn through lots for the game.   These participants have to fight it off on the arena until one is left standing. When Katniss volunteers to save her sister Prim, her character awes you. And when Katniss makes the first kill in the arena, with not much remorse, you like her more. While evil is not always the answer to evil, viewing it as justice meted out to evil changes everything. And what makes one appreciate the sequence is the kind of understanding and worldy wisdom that 12-18 year olds show in the series. Call me blinded by love, but there really is a lot more to the story than that observable on first glance.

A post-American America as some say. An inhuman Capitol. 12 districst that contribute in different ways – electronics, agriculture, coal etc. And this strong, honourable,independent and heroic  Katniss.  And then, there are the rest who you will love equally – Gale, Peeta, Rue, Prim and ofcourse Haymitch. Children suffering, unable to walk away.

If there is one thing I wanted more of, it would be history. How did this come about? Why were some of the customs in place at all? and so on..

Yet, all the 3 books impressed me immensely. I highly recommend it. Else, atleast the movie, though am yet to watch the first one.

Have you read this already? How do you feel about the series? Who is your favourite character?

The White Tiger

I had been wanting to read this book for long now. I had heard of it so much and I hadn’t read any of Aravind Adiga‘s books until then. So, I grabbed this when I saw a copy at the library.

The white tiger

The white tiger is an engaging tale of Balram Halwai who hails from rural India and how he goes on to become the No. 2 driver for a rich family and what ensues from then on.

The book is actually a collection of letters in 7 parts to the Chinese Premier who is on a visit to India. Set to be realistic and harsh, the tone of the letters is just that. And satirical? Very. Balram talks of how the India portrayed to the foriegners is not the real India. He traces his life from a “wanted” poster of his all the while connecting the dots to the events that led him to become a murderer. Descriptions of both ends of the spectrum ( the rich and the poor) and the wide disparities are highlighted throughout the book.

Balram comes across as someone unrepentant for his actions. The author probably intended to show this character off as being the pragmatic, “call a spade, a spade” protagonist. The narrative is engaging in quite a few parts, the harsh realities of India are depicted well in certain sections and overall, there are a few sentiments I shared with the author. The life of a driver is something I didn’t know much about. This book has attempted to provide an insight into their lives to some extent.

Yet, somehow this book did not work its magic on me. The character failed to induce much empathy. I did not understand certain actions and felt angry at some instances of insensitivity. I felt as though the protagonist was himself a puppet in some parts. It may not be just another rags to riches story but I felt it could have been crafted better. I cannot put my finger on it but this book did not see me getting into the shoes of the main character. Not because I haven’t been in those circumstances but because the character did not strike a chord. At times I felt angry and Balram’s unrepentant tone throughout did not help much. There is quite a bit of India bashing happening. So, if you don’t like that, then you may not enjoy several parts of the book.

Having said that, I did finish the book pretty fast hoping for something better to happen in the succeeding pages. There are a few issues I concurred with Balram towards the end. While it did make me think in some parts, I did not emerge enlightened whatsoever. I guess I expected something more all along. Not a good attitude, frankly speaking.