Favorite Agatha Christie Novels

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Mystery novels and I have a long, long history between us!Even the first novel that I ever read belonged to mystery genre ;The Three Investigators Series; The Mystery of the Talking Skull. My entire childhood can be summed up in two words; mystery novels. Later on I was introduced to and embraced in the spell binding world created by Agatha Christie and thus there was no turning back. So I have decided to pay tribute to the queen of Detective novels by listing six of my all time favorite Agatha Christie novels.

6. The ABC Murders

A classic Herclue Poirot mystery which consists of drama, family feud, romance, action, adventure and an ending which signifies the detective’s eureka moment that finally solved the case.

Poirot receives a mysterious letter signed by “A.B.C”, hinting some act of crime is going to be committed very soon. Soon two murders take place in an alphabetical order with an ABC Railway Guide present at both the crime scenes. The little Belgian detective must race against time to stop the murderer from striking his third victim and save an innocent man from meeting with an unfortunate fate.

P.S. You’ll be surprised to know who turns out to be the actual culprit and applaud Christie for her art of weaving stories by linking all the hidden hints (ooooh, alliteration!) together. That’s what I did, at least 😛

5. Death comes as the End

Quite a strong title, no?

The novel set in Ancient Egypt, unlike the other contemporary novels by the author boasts of a story as strong as the title. A revered priest’s life turns upside down after he marries a woman much younger than him. Certain incidents find his newly wedded wife to be a victim of raging angst from his family members. Soon she is found dead and it seems her vengeful spirit is back to settle old scores…

One more thing that distinguishes this novel from the others is that, the narrative is presented in a first person perspective as opposed to the other third person perspective approaches.

You would love reading the gripping tale about a ghost who has crossed the realms of the dead to avenge her murder or is it another mystery all together? No spoilers ahead!

4. Death on the Nile

A masterpiece of a novel which showcases a melange of human emotions including bittersweet love, sympathy, greed, selfishness and of course Poirot’s brilliance.

A young woman approaches the detective to assist her in distress. She and her husband are being stalked by her husband’s ex-lover. Poirot, however, refuses to accept the case. The couple, then boards a cruise steamer to escape the stalker. It is then despite all efforts to avert it, a murder is committed; the young woman seeking Poirot’s help breathes her last. It is time for the Belgian’s grey cells to actively work, to solve the mystery, before the murderer strikes again.

I recommend you read this novel carefully and pay attention to all the characters, as this string of people are repeated once again in a different setting, but pointing to the same motive hidden beneath the veil of crime.

3. The Mystery of the Blue Train

Herclue Poirot boards the uneventful Le Train Bleu in hopes of undertaking a peaceful journey. However, his plans are interrupted as one of the passengers is found to murdered and a world famous jewel is missing from her possession. With a train full of passengers as suspects and two cases to solve, Poirot has to rack his brains to distinguish the truth and lie from the water tight alibi that point to real murderer.

P.S. This was the first Agatha Christie novel I read! I loved reading about how the author made the detective solve two cases that appeared to stem from a single act of crime and saved the innocent from meeting with an unfortunate fate. Having difficulty in choosing a book for the upcoming weekend? Just take a deep breath and unravel the mysterious murder with Agatha Christie.

2. Appointment with Death

The author narrates a story about a dominating ex-prison warden and her family who are travelling for a vacation, together. The matriarch influences her children heavily and never allows them to think for themselves. While travelling, she leaves a queer remark to one of the passengers and is soon found to be dead. It now falls upon the able shoulders of Poirot to deduce the culprit and find meaning to the old lady’s quaint remark.

One factor which distinguishes the novel from others is that is that, it is written from the perspective of two vital characters in the novel and does not include a third-person perspective. It keeps you glued till the very end and leaves you satisfied as you finish the novel.

Finally, my favorite book! The best for the last…

1. Murder on the Orient Express

Ohh! One of the few novels that made me gasp at every page! It has so many topsy-turvy incidents that give the story a new depth. The best thing about this novel is that it never loses its narrative in the backdrop of various side stories and it includes character continuation, which is rare to find in Christie’s novels. Instead the author offers new elements, characters and plots to satisfy the thirst of her readers.

A mismatched group of passengers board the Orient Express with Poirot and witness the most bizarre murder of the century. A famous criminal on the run, seeks help from the detective to avert mortal peril and is found dead, the next morning, with inexplicable knife stabs. The detective treads on the journey of catching the culprit or is it a heist which is carried by a group of culprits?

Please, please readers read this novel once. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed!

Before signing off today, I have a question for my readers. What would you like to read my next review about;a stand-alone or a book series? I would be waiting for your replies.

If you like my post, don’t forget to like, comment, reblog anf follow my blog!

Cheers!

The Sun is also a Star: Nicola Yoon

Happy Friendship Day people! I couldn’t think of any other book to review than the one which celebrates friendship and love in their truest sense, on this day!

Rating : 4.1/5

Highlights

  1. A vibrant cover, which would make you fall in love with it at the first glance.
  2. An amazing title which leaves you confused and curious at the same time.
  3. An unconventional love story which spans over a period of ten years. The depth of the story makes it an interesting read.
  4. Multi-perspective novel, which provides the reader the POVs of each character, instead of a third-person perspective that novels usually seem to present.
  5. A fantastic ending, which you never would have expected. Don’t worry, no spoilers ahead!
  6. Paperback and pocket friendly 😛

Plot

Two teenagers, Natasha, an immigrant girl, who analyses everything scientifically and Daniel, a free spirited boy, fond of literature and poetry, meet accidentally. Their encounter blossoms into a beautiful friendship and gradually they fall in love over the course of a series of adventures they share for a period of twenty-four hours. Their unconventional love story, changes course as the fate has other plans. Natasha has to leave the country on account of illegal immigration, leaving behind the most beautiful moments of her life behind…

Writing Style

The author beautifully presents the thoughts and incidents playing in the minds of the characters and weaves them into a story. As a reader you get immense satisfaction in reading the tale from each perspective, rather than a third-person perspective that novels usually provide. The content and character arcs are written in an intriguing manner with a sprinkle of realism that you instantly fall in love with the two awkward teenagers. You begin reading the story expecting it to be an usual love story, where you would find two characters madly in love with one another and the universe coming together to unite the star-crossed lovers. However, your stance changes completely after realizing how the characters are presented in a humble and grounded manner, dealing with far graver problems and discovering themselves in the face of understanding friendship in love and love in friendship. It’s truly a delightful real.

Review

First of all, let me bring to light, I am not a fan of reading love stories. This is the first love story I have read in my life and I feel amazed while admitting, I liked it…I never thought I would!

Coming to the review, it is one of the novels I felt satisfied after reading. Right from the beginning, to the various sub-plots and the ending, everything is perfect in an ethereal manner. You start living each emotion in the novel with the first word you read and continue to do so till the last page.

Just one tiny thing I felt, could have been better in the novel, is the pace of the ending. No doubt, the ending is unexpected and peaceful, the pace seems to be too fast. While reading you get used to a pleasant pace of the narrative and suddenly the author rushes us to the point where her characters reunite, the readers faces trouble adjusting to it.

Has this novel changed my perspective towards love stories? I think it’s too early to comment on that having read only a few novels. But definitely, I would like to read more of the author’s works.

Would I recommend it? Affirmative. I think it would make a perfect read for a weekend getaway or the gifted to a friend who loves love stories or otherwise. I think you should read it once, you will not be disappointed.

What are your favorite love stories to read? Tell me in the comments section and let’s see if your recommendations turn me into a hopeless romantic at heart. Lol.

If you like my post, don’t forget to like, comment and reblog. Also, don’t forget my blog for book reviews, poems and more…

Until the next time,

Cheers!

Review :The Silent Patient

Hey readers! Hope you had a great weekend full of happy, unexpected surprises!

I think all my fellow book lovers can agree on the fact, no matter how hard the day had been for us, just the inviting sight and wafty smell of books as we enter a bookstore, makes us happy beyond words! Who knew my happy visit to a bookstore, a few days ago, would spiral into something special and coincide with my love of writing. I am building too much suspense, right? Well that’s the result of the latest novel I read ;P.

Alright, let me help you guys unravel this mystery…I have joined hands with an awesome bookshop Rajat Book Corner (which leaves no stone upturned to promote reading of books through its various initiatives ) for multiple book readings and reviews! I would be reviewing random books selected by the owner of the bookstore himself, over the course of next few days.This is the first collaboration in these exciting series and this week’s pick is ‘The Silent Patient by debutante author Alex Michaelides from the genre: fiction/psychological thriller.

“Only she knows what happened.

Only I can make her speak.”

Plot

A woman, a famous artist,shoots her husband dead and hides behind the veil of silence for years on an end. A man, a psychotherapist, intrigued by this incident, decides to heal the accused murderer and break her silence. The plot of the novel mainly revolves around how successfully Theo manages to wake Alicia from her still stupor, until things take a turn for good or for worse. Caution, no spoilers ahead!

Writing Style

The novel speaks to us through two distinct mediums. The first voice belongs to the second protagonist of the story, physiotherapist Theo Faber. The second voice is of our leading lady, Alicia Berenson who communicates with us through the pages of her diary. The author has used two different methods of writing, and fused the abstract (Alicia’s diary) with the actual ( Theo’s narrative), making the plot gripping and edgy till the very end. The novel is divided into four parts, each providing a view into both flashbacks and the present, taking the story forward. The best element of this book is that, the protagonist’s character arc is developed through the eyes of the other characters and her paintings; a writing style which plays full justice to contemporary literature.

Highlights

  • A good work depicting contemporary style of writing.
  • Is a treat for mystery/ psychological thrillers.
  • Great amount of dialogue in the narrative, instead of third person perspective, which adds more realistic touch to both the story and characters.
  • Is extremely pocket friendly for me, no guesses as to how and why. Lol.

Review

There are a few things that I wish to bring to light about this book in this review. First of all, it’s a great debut novel by the author. A big shout out to his creative, imaginative and writing skills which were put together to create something worthy to be read and to adapted into a movie soon after its release! You can guess , how great the story is already.This was my first time experimenting with a book that falls in the category of physiological thrillers and I am intrigued enough to read other titles soon. These books keep the readers at the edge all the time, bubbling with curiosity as to what would happen next, at the same time enabling them to question their conscience. Cool, isn’t it?

This novel is exactly as you do not expect it to be. You are presented with the most unique twists and plot leads when you start believing the story will tone down and vice versa. One begins the novel by reading about the main character Alicia and then the focus jumps to the second lead, Theo, going back to Alicia only for short intervals. So at the end, the reader is left wondering who actually the ‘silent patient’ was; Theo or Alicia? Let’s have a discussion on this in my comments section, once you are done reading the novel.

You are bound to be amazed by its ending, which acts as both the strongest anchor and biggest loop of the story. It is open to interpretations at the same time providing a concrete boundary to draw conclusions from.

I wish the author writes a sequel delving more into the life and character of Alicia Berenson. How thrilling would it be to read her silent thoughts! Well let’s hope for the best and I hope this message reaches to the author.

For me, this book stands at 4.3/5 with all its enjoyable parts and little snags here and there. I would definitely recommend this exciting piece of contemporary literature to my readers for its different style of character development, narration, plot and of course, *ending*. I would be eagerly waiting for that discussion…

I am glad that I read this unconventional book, which gave me an insight into the wide-world of genres that I am yet to read! For that, I am glad that the owner of the bookstore suggested I read and review this particular book. Do visit the store’s site for exciting book offers, reviews, author interviews and many more. (Link provided above).

Also, don’t forget to follow my blog for book review, poetry and much more.

Cheers!

Wonder: Book Review

Hello people!After a long, long time, I am back to doing book reviews. Ta-da!

What marks this review to be special, is that it is a test of ability and my dedication towards writing. Well my followers are well aware of the fact how I love to rattle on and on about things that I wish should be brought to light. So a friend of mine challenged me recently and has placed a large sum of money (at least for us) on a bet,daring me to finish this review within five hundred words. Now, I have a point to prove and I’ll fight till the last ounce of courage to do the same!It’s my reputation at stake after all!

“You truly are a wonder!”

Admirable Plot

R.J Palacio pens down a beautiful story revolving around a ten-year old boy August “Auggie” Paulman and his struggles of adjusting in a new school, mysteriously hidden underneath a giant astronaut’s helmet, which he refuses to take off most of the time. Being encouraged by his loving, protective, supportive family consisting of his mother, father and elder sister Via, he succeeds in finding courage while facing the world and wining the hardest battle of his life; accepting himself the way he is.

Fascinating Writing Style

The narration of this story takes into account multiple perspectives of all the leading and secondary characters, a writing style which is uncommon in most literary works. You begin the novel by reading about Auggie and his views towards the world and finish the novel, reading the story of ancillary characters through their own words, connecting the dots of significance in their lives. I loved the author’s style of writing where parallel stories and character arcs run throughout the story, playing justice to each character and each event. The writing is strong, well-developed and tugs at your emotional strings at unexpected moments, providing many hoops for the reader’s revaluation and personal growth.

Awesome Highlights

  • Although it might seem, from the first glance, the story does not only focus on the main character. It is about a melange of characters coming together and embarking on a ‘wonder’ous (see, what I did there?) journey of doubt ,conflict and victory.
  • Deals with an extremely sensitive topic, but the narrative never appears to be preachy or ordinal.
  • The narrative seems more of a journal/diary entry instead of an outsider’s view, so the readers connect to the characters more quickly and easily.
  • The most lovable character is the family dog, with whom you fall in love at the first glance!
  • Is available in paperback and pocket-friendly 😛

Book Review

It is a non-conventional story about blurring boundaries of outer beauty and acceptance of the inner divinity. It takes into account various issues of the contemporary world including adolescent insecurities, upholding social images and helicopter parenting. The distinct writing style in itself carves out the message; loud and clear; it’s all about inclusion and acceptance. The characters in the novel speak to you through their own words and you live their lives with them.

Apart from the abrupt ending and a little lack of humor, the book is an amazing read. I know, most people will not agree with me on the humor part, but unless a writer does not involve hilarious moments, the narrative seems incomplete to me,

After I finished reading, I found out this novel is based on real events. I would have loved to read the author’s own reaction and how she dealt the situation in the story in some or the other way. I t would have added a more special and realistic touch.

The book stands at 3.9/5 for me. I suggest all to people, who have doubts in their abilities to succeed in life, to read this book. It would change your perceptive towards problems and you’ll be instilled with courage to deal with them.

Did you notice, I have used synonyms of ‘wonder’ as my adjectives in paragraph titles? Of course you did, I have full faith in my readers! Speaking of which, I also had full faith in my abilities, I would be able to win this bet!And, I did! So, I am waiting for the bet money, my friend…

Let me know in the comments section, if there is any book, you would like me to review.

Don’t forget to follow my blog.

Cheers!

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Book Review (Part II)

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Hello people! Today seems to be a wonderful day! Can you guess why? We are finally out with the final part of our collab! DRUMBEATS!!!

You may recall our reviews of the book “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” (Linked Here;inkandthoughts and Here;lifeofchaz ), but do you know what really happens behind the scenes? Well if you don’t, here are a few things you should know about how the magic of “collabing” works.

Things That Go Into A Collab

  • Trying to get Chaz to read the book for two and a half months. 
  • Trying to explain to Chaz concepts one-hundred times because he never understands the first time. 
  • Trying to work with ten hour time difference living on opposite sides of the world. 
  • Waking up at 3AM to finish writing posts and making Instagram posts. Take a guess, as to who did that… 
  • Attempting to book plane tickets to India in two days, and then cancelling because a certain “someone” threatened the other about their collab answers. 
  • Hiding out in a car to escape mothers to talk to bloggers in the U.S after staying up all night. 
  • Losing hope that the post will ever be done. 
  • Being astonished when “someone” finally finishes the book and writes up a post.
  • Learning what Instagram is and what “Boomerang’s” are. 
  • Surviving after talking to each other for weeks on end. 

A small sneak peek for the readers, who thought it would be easy to work on a collab. Trust me, it is not, especially when two dumb heads come together to talk about intellectual things. In between taking jabs at each other, every now and then and cracking lame jokes, we tried to perfect our art of coming up with philosophical answers. This final draft pays testimony to our numerous attempts of answering these questions and polishing them till they were the best (at least for us)! So please don’t judge us too harshly!

Bhagyashree’s Brainiac Questions to Chaz

1) Being a foreigner to the novel did you have any preconceptions or notions about the story? How did they change after completing the novel? What are your thoughts about the author after going through her works? Would you continue reading her works here after?

Chaz working hard on his reading.

I had no idea what this story was going to be about. It’s funny because when I looked it up, I saw the word “romance” somewhere in the synopsis and falsely assumed it was a love story. (I told that to Bhagyashree and she could not believe me!) My thoughts could not be more different than what they were starting the novel. Roy now reminds me of a strong political writer, and I think I would probably read another one of her works if she continues to publish. I am looking into reading her first novel now as well!

2) How did you interpret the title both at the beginning and at the end of the book? Do you think the story plays justice to the title or it talks about finding acceptance in pain?

Chaz attempting to read .

I’m honestly still not sure what to think about it. (This is the hardest question out of all of them!) The characters ended up in their own little communities together, but it’s hard to imagine any type of happiness after all of the pain the story weaved through. I did not think this was going to be a happy story in the beginning though.

3) The book talks about how political turmoil affects people from all walks of life and their adverse reactions to situations concerning them thereafter. Do you think the author justifies them or piques the reader’s sympathy towards these people in any way? Or it is just an attempt of condemning these actions?

I think that the author does a great job in portraying these struggles in the way that she does not try to pique sympathy with over-the-top techniques. I had mentioned in my review about the “rawness” of the story, and in that sense the author just shows what is happening. It is up to you if you want to feel bad or not, but the story is not going to wait for you to make a decision.

4) The author challenges the very idea of attaining happiness by orthodox means through her characters. Do you believe an individual’s circumstances come into play here more than his/her own choices? How do you think the lives of these characters would have turned out had they succumbed to the guidelines entrenched with rules and boundaries?

I think that Roy is trying to abolish the old rules and boundaries that society has put up ever since we can remember. We are in a big turning point as far as social movements go, and the author celebrates that with the choices that she has her characters make. The characters may have had an easier life if they had confined themselves to the old rules, but it is clear that they would not be truly happy if they never remained true to themselves.

5) The novel talks about development in the sense of losing grasp of one’s roots. Do you share the author’s acceptance that this is the way forward? Do you think reading and writing about the struggles of the ‘silenced’ would help make society more empathetic towards these people and eventually alternate avenues of development would emerge?

Chaz still attempting to read, but at a different camera angle .

Yes – telling the stories of the silenced does go a long way in making people more empathetic. We have seen examples of it happening before ,with, every social movement that has succeeded. If you look at the world’s history you can follow the lines of each movement and how they succeeded. These stories play an important part in the development of those movements.  I am in full support of it and in full support of losing grasp of one’s roots. Just because the roots are there, it does not mean that they are worth losing. (In this case they are!)

6) There are a variety of social issues discussed in the novel ranging from social inequality, exclusion, domestic violence to depression and political turmoil among others. Which of these varied themes according to you needs to be extensively written and widely read in the current times?

Chaz’s pup doing all of the work for him .

Would it be a cop-out to say that all of them should still be explored? While there are progressive movements that are in different stages than others, and some of them much further along, we have seen that it is important to keep writing about them even after the movement has come to a “success”. Everyone should be able to experience the freedoms that they deserve, and the battle for them is unfortunately not close to being over, but at least we are living through the most progressive time in recent history.

Chaz’s Clever Questions to Bhagyashree

1) Media can portray only the negative aspects of certain events and culture to skew people’s perceptions which end up making them blow certain things out of proportion. Do you feel this novel portrayed anything unfairly?

That is the beauty of this novel, it never presents anything with a backdrop of fairness or impartiality. It presents the facts as they are, leaving it on the shoulders of the capable readers(like both of us, an oxymoron in itself, isn’t it ) to form their own opinions. I won’t say that the novel has portrayed anything in negative light, but yes, it would have been a good idea had the author included other perspectives than just the characters themselves. And a more, well-mapped plot, that does not include everything that the characters (or the author herself) come across, would have mellowed down the story for people like us. Although, when we talk of Roy, as a precocious author, we can’t really expect that to happen, so I guess what we are left is, broaden our understanding!

2) How important is a well structured plot for you? Did you feel the same way I did, or do you think that the message of the story is much more important than making sure the story beats are in the right spot?

I believe both a well-structured plot and powerful message go hand in hand, in the making of a great story. One without the other fails to create the charismatic impact that the author wishes to cast on his/her readers. On one hand the plot steers our imagination on a well routed path, the message of the story, on the other hand, lets us run our imagination wild, on uncharted lands in search of interpretations. I disagree with the notion that the author should focus on either of the two things while carving a story, but surely, the plot shouldn’t have too many backstories and character arcs framing spontaneously, like we have in the book. That just leads to the reader losing momentum of the story.

3) We had spoken about if this book was required to read in schools in India. With so much discussion on censorship lately, do you feel works like these should be encouraged to read? How young is too young to introduce these dark themes during class?

Roy’s works have always tackled the dark realms of truth in an unpretentious manner. Once you decide to read her novels, you can expect yourself to be drawn in a labyrinth of reality, that you are aware of, but fail to acknowledge its presence. Censoring stories like these, would mean holding back the links which connect people with the reality behind the farce reality. So I believe works like these should definitely be encouraged to read right from the time we learn to distinguish between right and wrong and form our own judgments and opinions. Coming to the last part of your question, you can’t expect a scenario where kindergartner kids are debating on these issues, can you? (But then, you would be dealing with the smartest set of kindergarten kids on this planet, a bit unrealistic no?) I understand your concern about the impact this novel revolving around relatively dark themes can have on young minds, so I ‘ll say, teenagers on the brink of adulthood and people beyond this age bracket with their well developed analytical and conclusive skills, would be the best audience for the book.

4) Pain is everywhere in this story. Do you share in any of the pains and struggles that some of the characters in the story faced? Which of the struggles are you fighting against the most in your own life? 

Months flew by, waiting for Chaz to finish reading.

Each character in the novel deals with different kinds of pain and battles his/her own victories. Acceptance of an identity, pain of losing loved ones, trying to be befitting in a world you don’t belong to and the courageous struggle to start anew are some of the core threads discussed in the story. It wouldn’t be a misnomer to say, we are bound to face the pains and struggles of each character in some way or the other in our long, long lives. Given a choice, I would go for the pain and struggles of accepting and adapting to a change, faced by the country, rather than any specific character. Now that more makes sense, since about to start college. Lol!

5) There are a lot of themes involved in this novel that have to do with family relationships, especially motherhood. We saw Anjum ripped from her family, and family ripped from her, plus the same for the other characters. How important is it to listen to your family? Should they control who you really want to be? 

Family is an exceedingly important part of who we are, what we do, the choices we make and how we lead our lives. However, I don’t believe being a part of a family should entirely dictate the terms of our choices and the way of our living. There is a very fine line between looking up to your family for guidance and acting according to their predictions up to the point you suffocate your freedom. The entire burden of balance lies on this willowy line. I guess as long as this line doesn’t slant too much on either side, you’ll be fine. A hard task surely, but worth trying. If not anything, you would have some great things to laugh about, later on!

So this brings us to the end of my first collab ever. I hope as much as I enjoyed working on it, even you guys would enjoy reading it. I would love to hear what you people think about it in the comments section.

A big shout-out to my fellow blogger-turned-friend Chaz, who helped me remain calm during moments of panic at the inability to finish the post on time (or was it the other way round?) and making my tedious wait worthwhile. Let’s collab once again next month, what say? ;P

I would love to continue working on such fun collabs in the future. Well, fellow bloggers you know whom to reach out to, if you feel interested enough to read a book together, review it maturely ( or immaturely, same thing) and discuss the book, in every creative way possible. You guys already know my Instagram handle and my mail id, i you want to reach out to me.

I would be eagerly waiting for your reviews and messages!

Don’t forget to follow my blog for book reviews, collabs and more!

Until the next time,

Cheers!


The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Book Review (Part-I)

Hello people! The world is such a small, strange place, isn’t it? The land on its surface is divided by boundaries and its people are united by art, literature, history, legacy and above all,emotions. Who would have thought, two strangers , residing in different parts of the world would bond over a hardbound collection of words, dwell over it, derive at conclusions and create something so beautiful out of it!

I remember messaging a super cool blogger who goes by the name of Chaz Green (you guys must already be familiar with his amazing blog-Life of Chaz ) two months ago, asking for a collab and expecting no answer in return to be honest! I guess he was too kind to respond to a two-and-a-half month old baby blogger (don’t even know whether its a real thing or not) and agree for a collab. So after a lot of discussion (about how it is NOT a love story and who gets to have the best spot on our collab poster:P), we decided upon a book by a profusely acclaimed Indian author, Arundhati Roy; ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’, read it together and the result; the first ever collaboration of my life with another blogger! So, this blog post holds a special place in my heart and will remain etched as a beautiful memory forever! Oh God, why do I turn poetic, every other moment of my life? Just for the heads up, it’s not Chaz’s fault that we are posting this blog about a month later than we decided to. It’s just that,he happens to test your patience to decide, whether you are worthy for him or not! Plus I got the premium spot for my picture, but you could get that,of course!

How to tell a shattered story?

By slowly becoming everybody.

No.

By slowly becoming everything.’

Plot

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness narrates a hard-hitting story which revolves around three characters from different backgrounds, who are brought together by the common links of pain and non-acceptance. The novel begins with introducing us to Aftab, a young boy hiding a secret in his heart right from the moment he was born and struggling with his identity in the world, till he transforms in Anjum and pledges her allegiance to the world, which challenges the very existence of rules and boundaries. It then delves deeper into her transformation, the challenges she faces, the ever lasting relationships she forms and the journey of her embracing motherhood. The story then travels to how Anjum loses her spirit in the light of 2002 Godha train burning (apologies, non-Indian readers you will have to read about this beforehand, to understand the novel), leaves her world, or as she calls ‘duniya’ once again and starts anew in a graveyard. As time elapses, she befriends other outcasts and establishes a hotel-cum-resting place for weary travelers along the graves, depicting how hope can be found in the darkest of places. The story then moves forward, where we witness a massive protest at Delhi and how the characters are one step away from meeting each other.We then have a rendezvous with the next character Biplab Dasgupta, a diplomat who tells his story of how he fell in love with S. Tilottama along with two other men Musa Yewsi (who becomes a Kashmiri millitant) and Nagaraj Hariharan (who carves a sparkling career in journalism in Kashmir)  in college. He then jumps to the present revealing how the sudden appearance of his first love created upheavals in his life. The story is then told through Tilo’s perceptive,joining dots of her story from childhood till date. The rest of the story, then completes the puzzle of how and why the characters meet and how the Ministry of Utmost Happiness is finally established in a world outside, yet lying inside the real world.

Characters

If you happen to meet Chaz at some point of your life, do me a favor and ask him how many new Hindi words he learnt and how many he remembers along with their meanings. Trust me, you would definitely be surprised at his answer and be amazed at the amazing character he is! Be prepared, Mr Green!

Jokes apart, every character arc in the book, develops vehemently and fits well in the story. The author does not shield the characters in the veil of pretense or sympathy, but presents them to the world, as they are, urging the readers to accept them in the same way .

Anjum: The protagonist of the story who transforms herself from a young Muslim boy, Aftab, to a transgender who goes by the name of Anjum. It is through her eyes, we see her struggles of shedding an identity and accepting a new one and finding hope in the shards of her broken world. Her strong personality, graceful demeanor and strong will to fight back against the current are the things that appeal to the readers and urge them to know her story.

S. Tilottama : An architecture, who finds herself in the midst of a political turmoil while following her lover, Musa. She later marries Naga and improves her relationship with her dying, estranged mother. She ultimately finds her happiness in rearing a child named after her lover’s first born.

Nagaraj Hariharan: One of the three suitors of Tilo. He works as a renowned journalist in Kashmir and marries Tilo in the later part of the novel. After she leaves him, following fourteen years of marriage, he is devastated and struggles to find balance in his life again.

Biplab Dasgupta: A diplomat and an ardent admirer of Tilo, who plays an important role in saving her from meeting with a drastic end. He later meets with Musa and broods over how he wasted his life in search of a treasure which never was his.

Musa Yeswi: A Kashmiri insurgent and a master of disguises. It is in search of his love, Tilo embarks on a dangerous journey and nearly losses her life. He later befriends Dasgupta and they both reminisce their good, old days, to rekindle the spark of happiness.

Other characters in the novel, help take the story forward in an interesting way, with their backstories and struggles running in parallel. which proves to be a different read, than most of us are accustomed to.

Writing Style

The plot of the novel is well knit and keeps you at the edge, barring some parts. The book is divided into different parts, each focusing on a different era of India’s development and how the different characters deal with these changes. The story is narrated in a third person perspective, never really giving the readers a chance to delve deeper into the minds of the characters. I feel the story has a kind of abrupt ending, which focuses on only a few characters being able to learn the true purpose and the source of happiness of their lives. Just like reality, though! I think, that is the beauty of this book, it never paints a fairy land for the readers. It grasps the reality in its words, accentuates them and presents them to the world.

Review

This probably the second hardest part, you guys know, what the hardest part was, right? So apologies in advance, Miss Roy if we do not live up to your expectations of the review…

So the book begins on an interesting note, depicting the life of a transgender in the Indian society in the wake of the changes that take place in the country. With some more characters appearing in the story and so many event taking place, you seem to lose the momentum of the story after some time. With the introduction of the other characters, the plot becomes uptight again and you start craving for them have a happy ending, which they had been searching throughout their lives.

With the melange of social issues going on in the book, you find yourself dragged in a part of a world, which you wanted to avoid for a very long time. It would be a good idea, to read about these issues beforehand, so that you don’t feel disoriented while actually reading.This book tugs at the strings of your heart and acts as a soother at the same time, only you need to keep your emotions in check and mind at work, while deciphering this novel.

This book stands at 3.8/5 for me. I was expecting a little sprinkle of gentleness and cheerfulness at the end. which would have truly paid justice to the title. But never mind it is a good read, although a serious one, with a stinging story line and open interpretations. Only strong hearts, tread ahead!

This post isn’t complete yet!Next up is a discussion on the book where both the bloggers have put in their hearts, souls and different perspectives to analyse the book from each and every angle! Tried to make it sound serious, but you know how it is with us…

So visit our blog again, to know how different thoughts and emotions are brought together by words!

Cheers!

The Kite Runner: Book Review

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Hello people! What’s new? I have had pretty adventurous last few weeks trying to juggle time between college applications and reading!These times can be pretty tough, no? Somehow, I managed to sail through and now I am back to my blog. I hope you people haven’t forgotten about my blog and excuse me for not being regular…

So before analyzing the book, some words of enlightenment…Keep the title of the book in mind as you finish reading the last page of the novel as it is the medium through which you realize how beautifully the book transforms from being about one character to another! Trust me, the moment is so emotionally entrenched, it is enough to give you goosebumps and stays with your soul forever.

” For you, a thousand times over.”

Plot

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a novel which spirals between the past and present of two characters Amir and Hassan, poles apart, but sharing a common thread which links their life forever. In the beginning of the novel we meet a grown up Amir, settled in US.A, faced with apprehension and dilemma as he receives a message calling him home. A home which he had left long back. A home which he called ,Kabul. The words then travel back in time and two carefree boys , with the elder one (Amir) narrating their tale, comes into view. The story then moves forward describing the incidents of the nonchalant childhood of the dedicated friend Hassan and the dependent owner Amir. In an attempt to win his father’s respect and love, Amir and Hassan enter into a kite flying competition, which changes their lives beyond redemption. As time flows by, the political turmoil increases in Kabul, To avoid the tumultuous Amir shifts to U.S.A with his father and starts over. Years later unavoidable circumstances call him back to his homeland to discover some startling truths which give him a chance to repay his debt to Hassan.

Writing Style

The novel is written mostly in first person perspective, divided by different time periods. The story is narrated by the protagonist Amir with dashes of life experiences provided by the other characters. It takes into view the various political aspects that plagued the world during the late 1990s to early 2000s and and how common people were affected during those onsets. The only addition in the novel which could have satisfied the readers’ (or specifically my ) curiosity had we gotten a chance to read about his life, through Hassan’s point of view.


Characters


There are mainly six characters in the novel aided by other characters who help take the story forward.


Amir : The (legitimate) son of an Afghan businessman whose mother died during childbirth. His friendship with his servant, Hassan, forms a major part of the story until the time his cowardice forbids him from saving Hassan from a horrific fate during childhood and pushes him in a trench of self-consuming guilt all through his adult life. In the circle of life (The Lion King feels, right?) he ultimately absolves his sins and becomes ‘The Kite Runner’ for a child who linked his past and future together.


Hassan: The (illegitimate) son of an Afghan businessman who was fostered by the same nursemaid is Amir’s(I gave away the spoilers, already). His dedication towards his master and fearlessness turns him a target for bullies, for which he has to pay a great price. His life revolves around his master cum friend who ditches in him in the hour of need. His unflinching support and trust for Amir results in his untimely demise and is survived by a son, who is later adopted by Amir.


Baba: Father of Amir and Hassan who leads a dual life; a life full of fun, ambition, celebration, friendship and laughter and another full of guilt. He is shown to be a man who lives and dies for his principles at the same time, betraying them as he commits the biggest folly of his life; non acceptance of his own blood. His attention and love is always craved by his elder son Amir and provided in abundance (although secretly) to Hassan.


Shorab: Hassan’s son who is later adopted by Amir, after his parents’ demise. He comes across the readers as a replica of his father, who reminds Amir of his friendship and guilt everyday, until he dons the same role of a man, he had left behind in childhood.


Rahim Khan: Baba’s oldest and most trustworthy friend who provided Amir with all the love he had been missing since birth. He is the boys’ trusted confederate and adviser who later on provides Amir a chance to let go of his guilt.


Soraya: Amir’s wife and a school teacher who supports him throughout his writing career. She accepts the idea of adopting Shorab when she comes to know his identity and works tirelessly to bring a smile on his face , no matter what it takes.


Book Review


This book narrates a a timeless story which stays alive through time. Many themes are touched upon in the course of novel like friendship, gallantry, fatherhood, political turmoils, emotional, physical and mental abuse and the author plays full justice to each one. Each character has its own story to tell and fits in the narration perfectly. The plot is extremely gripping and keeps you at the edge all the times. With each page you turn, you begin on a new journey of the characters which ultimately culminates bringing together shards of life away from pain to laughter.


It is almost perfect, but there are a few things which could have elevated its status even more. A glimpse into Hassan’s life, his thoughts, his feelings, his relationships would have provided more depth to the story. A peek into Baba’s other life where he faced remorse and guilt and learnt to deal with it would have been a literary artwork. Also, a detailed description into Amir’s teenage years dealing with pain and sleepless nights, if provided, would have been a delight for the readers.


It is not just a tale to be read and forgotten about. It is a tale to be read, lived and remembered throughout. So this book is definitely a 4.2/5 for me. It would be a perfect literary getaway for the coming weekend. So grab this book and do read it, if you haven’t already and be prepared to float through the lanes of Kabul in search of a boy and boyhood, lost far behind.


Let me know in the comments section, if there is some book of your choice that I should review.


Till the next time, enjoy the weekend and don’t forget to follow my blog.


Cheers!

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The Pursuit of Happyness: Book Review

Image result for pursuit of happiness book

Hello people! How’s it going? For the record, I am having a pretty terrible week (sigh). The Big Bang Theory is ending this week and we might never see Dr. Sheldon Cooper and his antics again… With so many epic sagas ending this year, it’s going to be difficult to find happiness in our lives once again, right?

Coincidentally the book I had been reading recently, is ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’. Wow! Is there a divine power at play these days?

So coming to the book, I really could not understand, why the title of the book was chosen to be ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’? I have come up with two possible theories for that. One maybe, it is a story of life and struggling against the odds to find happiness (which seems likely). And the other inspired by the daycare where happiness was spelled with a ‘y’, and the protagonist was determined to let his son know the right thing. Maybe, maybe he was also determined to let the world the right thing about himself too; his worth, his potential underneath his dark skin. Which of the two, do you think is the most appropriate theory?

While you read a book, you either like a book or do not like it (although it seldom happens)! But this book has forced me to choose a middle path of partially liking this book.

” The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.”

Plot

It begins with the author Chris Garner, a successful stockbroker, taking us on a tour through his life, his struggles, his failures, his decisions and finally his victories. Carving his escape through an abusive childhood, without a father figure, he enrolls to render his services into Navy. With time he becomes an able medical practitioner(the only black on the team of whites) practicing in the Navy later joining his senior and dabbling in the field of research. He marries a woman as he prepares for medical school. Infidelity causes his marriage to drift apart and him embracing fatherhood for the first time. Determined to make it big, he decides to work as a stockbroker against the wishes of his family. He faces extreme shortage of money, rejections and failures but ultimately he wins big and establishes a multi-million company.

Characters

Chris Gardner: The protagonist of the novel. He begins his journey of life,aspiring to be Miles Davis, an actor and later leads his life as a Navy soldier-turned-medical practitioner and researcher- successful stockbroker. His experiences as a childhood, mold him as an adult and is reflected in his ways of upbringing his children. One relates to the struggle he goes through to reach to the top and gets inspired oneself to move along no matter how difficult the path is.

Christopher Gardner Jr.: The only guiding light in his Poppa’s world, when his path becomes too dark. Although only his childhood is reflected in the book, his antics are enough to melt your heart and his words are enough to leave a lasting impression on your soul.

Bettye Jean Triplett: The protagonist’s mother and his first guide to the world beyond. It is her belief in her son that leads to him believing in himself and ultimately meeting his destiny. Her actions seem serene and timid all her lifetime, which sows seeds of serenity and calmness in her son, an attribute of whose worth he realizes much later in his life.

There are other characters in the protagonist’s life, who impress him, inspire him, torment him, help him, teach him and ultimately make him a bigger and better person. It would take the entire space of blog post to describe each one of them, so how about you guys read the book and you describe the various characters to me in the comments section?

Writing Style

This novel is mostly written in the first person perspective with a prologue and epilogue by the author himself. The book is divided into different parts, each describing a phase of his life. You begin the book by reading about his childhood and finish it as you read about his roller coaster ride to success. His journey of establishing his own company and running it, is not shown in the book. This is one aspect which the readers, I am sure ,would have loved to read. Only if he had taken us with him on a trip to his company scaling the heights, this book would have been more interesting to read.

Book Review

Well the book is quit an amazing read, but there are some things which could have been presented in a better way. The struggle of a boy (transitioning into manhood) among abuses, poverty, violence and lack of a father figure sure generates empathy in the readers’ minds and makes us applaud the author for coming out of bad memories of childhood so beautifully. We are then transported in his youth and his ‘misadventures’ in that phase of life. While I was impressed at how high he was soaring profession, I cannot help but felt indignant about his infidelity. Had he not committed this blunder, I sure his life way have turned out to be happier right from the beginning. Although this blunder resulted in him having his bundle of joy (or joys, should I say)in his hands, but any satisfaction, any gift cannot justify this deed of his. We then meet a young father, testing his destiny and working hard to meet both ends meet and at the same time waiting to fly. The words in these pages sting your heart hard and you cry with the author and wipe your tears with the motivation provided by his son. As I have said earlier as well, the book ends abruptly. If only the authors have provided an insight into the world of the author’s company, this book would have soared heights. Also, the topic of the author’s relationship with his biological father and mentors is touched upon briefly and not explored fully. Encounters and relationships like these need more in depth writing. Apart from these glitches, this book is a good read over the weekend and acts as the best gift for budding entrepreneurs. You remember those childhood stories, completed with ups, downs and many morals at the end. This book is just like those stories, only for adults and not for children.

For me, this book stands at 3/5. I con’t believe I am saying this, the movies with the same name moved me more than the book. Probably it was Will Smith’s acting and presence on screen. Never mind, it’s always better to read the book than to watch a movie. Just for the heads up many parts are omitted from the movie, the focus being on the last part of the book only. So you will have to read the book anyways, to know the complete story. Or you can just refer to my blog (wink)!

I hope you had a better week than mine and you guys are better at handling your emotions when some faced with some tragic ends!!!

Until the nest next time, let’s reminisce about the good ol’ Big Bang Theory days!

Don’t forget to press the cute, little, white and blue ‘Follow’ button on my blog!

Cheers!

The Help: Book Review

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Hi everyone! I have now become a one-month old blogger! A question has been nagging me since the past few days…Am I still new in the blogging world? Should I change me tags?

Jokes,apart I hope something exciting happened with you over the weekend. My weekend was pretty mundane with an exception of buying three new books, which will be read and reviewed pretty soon!

Before beginning, can we just focus on the cover of the book? It’s not just a book cover, it is a piece of art in the truest sense. Just look at the bird in the center, doesn’t it appear to be speaking (or singing) to us through the cover? And of course the other two birds, a little distant and hesitant, but nodding their approval and supporting their leader! It you finish the book and glance at the cover once again, you will realize the three characters are the same. The leader etching her voice in our minds and the other two, supporting her! A big shout-out to the creator for such a brilliant portrayal of the theme! I hope one day my books are also privileged of having such brilliant pieces of art as their covers…

Summary

American author Kathryn Stockett pens down a beautiful story about different people and their lives, emotions, struggle, resistance, friendships, love, losses and victories. The story is set in the town of Jackson, Mississippi, where we meet three head strong women, Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson ,colored maids who also help raise children and Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, a young graduate, who aspires to be a writer. Skeeter’s attempts of unraveling the mystery behind her family maid Constantine’s disappearance, leads her to a realization that colored maids are treated differently and they have to lead harsh lives. She then decides to bring this truth in front of the world,in the form of a book, with the help of all maids of her town. The pages of the book, bring the lives of all three protagonists together and leads o unexpected friendships, unexpected emotions, unexpected struggles and unexpected victories…

Writing Style

The books is divided into chapters in lieu of the characters and is a fine example of first-person narrative. Two of the three protagonists are black and stories from their point of view are refreshing. Apart from being strong, bold and unique, one remarkable thing about Stockett’s writing is that, it grasps the attention of the readers right from the beginning and never losses ground. It is hard to believe that it’s Stockett’s debut novel. Each character in the story has a story to tell and the articulate writing plays justice to every character, every incident in the novel.

Characters

Primarily there are three characters; Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny, but other characters like Mrs Hilly Holbrook, Mrs Celia Foote, Mrs Elizabeth Leefolt, Stuart Whitworth and Constantine Bates take the story forward.

Aibileen Clark: A colored maid in Mississippi who first introduces us to her world in the novel. She is a loving, caring and nurturing lady who has raised over a dozen white kids. She lost her only son, Treelore in an accident and misses his presence in her life. She is a courageous lady and the first maid who agreed to reveal the deplorable lives of the domestic help in the town to Skeeter. Her ability to hide her emotions in times of trouble give her a very calm and poised demeanor.

Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan: A fiery, young graduate, aspiring to be a writer against her mother’s wishes of getting married. She is a strong willed woman, who is ready to fearlessly face all the obstacles in the pursuit of her goal. She is one of the few people who never uses others to her own advantage and treats everyone equally. Her caring nature and gratitude for her loved ones know, no bounds. Her confident sense of humor is prevalent throughout the book.

Minny Jackson: The best cook in the entire town with an honest opinion, which she never fears to present to the world. She often tells her employers what she thinks of them, often resulting in her frequently getting fired from her jobs. In the early parts of the novel, she is shown to be afraid of her abusive husband, but over time she gathers courage and ultimately wins over her fears and starts her life anew sans her painful past and shackles. Her courage to share her stories, further inspires others as well and together they bring out a story, which is revolutionary and heartfelt at the same time.

Mrs Hily Holbrook: A egoistic racist and pretentious lady belonging to the elite circles of the society. Her vain pretense and attempts to uphold her honor causes rift between Skeeter and herself.

Mrs Celia Foote: An arch enemy of Mrs Hily Holbrook (although unbeknownst to her) and (an employer) and student of Minny. Her acts of defiance causes ripples in the ideal society.

Mrs Elizabeth Leefolt: Another vain and pretentious employer of Aibileen, who suffers from Postpartum Depression. Her antics and irresponsible behavior towards her child, make you wonder how the little child is blessed to have Aibileen around her, as you read along.

Stuart Whitworth: A dignified young man, who plays Skeeter’s love interest. He is the first person to know about the controversial book Skeeter plans to write, which he keeps a secret and supports her unwillingly.

Constantine Bates: Probably the most important character in the novel, according to me. She is Skeeter’s family maid, who disappears suddenly. Skeeter’s attempts to know about her whereabouts lead to the realization and hence the collection of stories from the servants’ quarters of the elite households.

Book Review

This debut novel by the author provides a fresh narrative of stories by the black community, a topic which has not been probed enough in the past. It also offers a contemporary style of writing, where different stories are narrated by different characters from a first-person perceptive. This book is like a colorful canvas of emotions. You feel angry, sad, happy and satisfied with each page you flip.

Instead of each character, I would like to say, each page has its own story to tell. The plot keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout its course and you feel robbed of a faithful companion as you finish the book. Complex relationships between each character is perfectly captured and eloquently described which multiplies the beauty of the book.The story which finally emerges from the debris of lies and secrets, shines bright against all odds.

How a novel can be both serious and savagely hilarious at the same time, is exemplified in this book. If only a little more light could be thrown on Minny, this novel would have escalated from being near perfect to absolutely perfect. Although you would be both surprised and shocked towards the end, when you find out what antic of hers had made Mrs Hily Holbrook vulnerable to the society. (Alright, no spoilers ahead!)

It is not just a good book to read, but it is life to be lived. So I would rate this book 3.8/5. Read this book once and trust me you will never be able to forget it in your lifetime. It becomes a timeless tale told through the pages of time.

(Let’s see if you remember what I always say at the end of each blog!)

Cheers!