From my bookshelf, October’18 — The story of a little boy.

From my bookshelf, October’18 — The story of a little boy.

Wonder.

Wonder, the book by R. J. Palacio, is about Auggie–August Pullman–a fifth grader, who suffers from the Treacher Collins Syndrome. It’s a medical condition that has left his face disfigured. Having being homeschooled by his mother, Auggie now has to join the Beecher Middle School so as to experience the real world.

Auggie has an elder sister–Olivia– an extremely caring sister who understands that her brother needs all the attention of their parents, more than she does.

At the new school, there are children who are petrified by his face, but there are also some, like Summer, who look beyond the disfigurement, at a child who is not only adorable, but also very articulate and intelligent.

Wonder is Auggie’s story, of how, despite being so against joining a school, ends up enjoying school life, making new friends and winning everyone’s heart.

What I loved about the book:

Everything about the book just stole my heart! RIght from the first word, I fell in love with the story and with Auggie, as well as the other characters in the story.

His parents, who care about their son, put his insecurities about the school to rest and are open to his opting out of the school if he finds it uncomfortable. It can be such a tight rope walk for parents with children who need their constant attention due to some medical condition. Giving equal attention to their children can be a tough thing to achieve.  Auggie’s parents do their best to give their all to both their kids so that they bloom into beautiful individuals.

His sister, Olivia, or Via, as she is called, knows and understands how her brother needs all the attention because of his condition. A girl who treats her brother like a normal child and is, yet, very protective about him. It can be a really difficult situation, having a sibling with special needs and with the focus being on them, the other child is sure to feel left out. In spite of it, I liked how Via takes it all with a smile and learns from Life. The perfect little elder sister.

Auggie’s friends, especially Summer, a child whose caring heart never differentiates between Auggie and the other kids at school. She becomes his best friend right on the first day of school and could, actually, teach us adults a thing or two about accepting people as they are and not judging them on the basis of their appearance.

Oh, and Mr. Lawrence Tushman, the director at Beecher Prep. He welcomes Auggie into the school and makes sure he feels at ease in the new surroundings with the help of three of his classmates. We could do with more teachers like him–caring, understanding and with a clear conscience; whose only intention is to help mould their students into wonderful human beings.

And, how could I forget, Daisy–Auggie’s pet dog, who loves her human brother, but, sadly, dies in the story. Her death made me weep like I did when I lost my Chikoo.

*Sniff*

 

There are some quotes in the story that grab our attention and urge us to look within and ask ourselves if we are being the kind of humans we were meant to be.

Courage. Kindness, Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.

Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing.

It is not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.

And, this one, Auggie’s precept:

Everyone deserves a standing ovation because we all overcometh the world!

So, be kinder than is necessary, and remember to be a friend….a true friend.

I am sure you will love this book. Our children could do with such stories of kindness and courage in today’s world where appearances are given more importance and instant gratification is the way of life.

Next on my list is, to watch the film!

Love,

SHILPA…

From my bookshelf, August’18 – Books by women writers.

From my bookshelf, August’18 – Books by women writers.

Okay, first things first. I know “women writers” is, oh, so politically incorrect! But, frankly, I feel so so proud reading books by writers who are women!  And being a woman, I know what it is that they think, feel, and experience in order to give us some of the best literary creations. And, thus, the “women writers“. I hope you can sense the feeling of pride in my tone.

So, this month, I read two wonderful books by women writers–one suggested by my friend, Ramya Abhinand in her blog – ‘The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, by Kavita Kane, and the other, a gift by my friend, Shalini Baisiwala –  ‘The Colour Master’, by Aimee Bender.

 

Affiliate disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you click on the image below and use it to make a purchase. 

 

The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty, by Kavita Kane.

 

This is the story of queen Satyavati, wife of King Shantanu from the epic, Mahabharata. It was ‘Jaya’, by Devdutt Pattanaik that made me fall in love with the Mahabharata, so when I read Ramya’s post on this book, I decided I just had to read it!

It is the story of the rise of Satyavati from poverty to royalty, her struggle to make a place for herself in the hearts of her subjects and her desperation for an heir to rule her beloved Hastinapur.

Kavita Kane has brought Satyavati alive through her description. Satyavati’s abhorrence for the life she leads as a fisherman’s adopted daughter, surrounded by filth and stink; her yearning to rise above her poverty and her dreams of acquiring the throne, for which she is ready to use her beauty, her body.

I liked how the author has sketched Satyavati’s portrait as a dark-skinned, voluptuous beauty who awakens lust in every man who lays eyes on her. The love scenes did feel a bit out of place–rather, more Mills & Boon kind. But, I will ignore all of it because of the narration, the treatment of the story and, yes, for Bhishma–my favourite character from the epic.

The story is of people’s aspirations to achieve it all in life, dream vivid dreams for their future, make grand plans that are so against nature and then watch them all crumble to the ground. You can sense  Satyavati’s agony at Life slipping away from her hands as she loses her two sons; your heart goes out to Bhishma who, for the sake of his father, vows to remain celibate all his Life and crush his happiness for the happiness of others. Your heart just goes out to these characters–be they good or bad.

They were humans, after all, and despite being so powerful, they suffered as a result of their decisions, their choices and expectations. Human foibles have been so well portrayed in this story. It’s relieving knowing they were just like us!

 

Rating:

Just like every other book on the mythology, I couldn’t put this book down till I finished reading it. So, I will give it 4.5 stars. The love-making scenes and the very slow progress in the latter part of the book take away that half star. Otherwise, it’s a book I enjoyed reading as much as ‘Karna’s Wife‘, by the same author.

Do read the book, if you haven’t already, and let me know how you liked it!

 

The Colour Master, by Aimee Bender

 

When Shalini asked me which book I wished to read from her collection, I picked this book, for its uniqueness and its quirky stories. Shalini had done a post on this book as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and that’s where I read about it.

For starters, the writing is really really unlike any that you might come across. Well, I did find it unique, in that, it has this element of fantasy that I hadn’t come across ever since I read my last ‘childhood’ story! There’s magic in every story, if I could put it that way. The characters in each story come across as people from real life, looking for love, companionship, seeking pleasure through sex…a lot like the real world, but with a strangeness found only in imagination–the kind that is far removed from the real world!

It is a collection of short stories that are a mixture of emotions: humour, sorrow, intrigue, too. Most of all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the title story–The Colour Master–the story of a woman who recreates colours from nature and uses those to dye the clothes of royalty. Be it a dress that resembles a moon, or a sun or a newly bloomed rose, or even the sky.

The story just transported me to that fantasy world where the artist brought clothes to life. I won’t even be able to express what I read and what I felt for lack of the right words. The story just needs to be read to be enjoyed. The powerful imagination of the author translates into the stories that take us to a land far away from the ordinary world we live in.

There were a couple of stories that failed to evoke an interest in me, no offence meant. I failed to grasp the meaning behind their magic, I guess.

Rating:

I would give a 5 for the imagination, the vividness in expression..well, to be frank, I really have no right, whatsoever, to rate such a magical book. Have you read it? Do give it a try.

Love,

SHILPA…

 

B – Books and Book Reviews. #AtoZ

B – Books and Book Reviews. #AtoZ

 

Books are a uniquely portable magic!”

_Stephen King.

Isn’t it true?

You open a book and begin reading the words carefully put together by the writer and you are transported to a  world where live people leading lives you might never, or, you wish you could.

Books, for many of us, give the relief we need as we face the vagaries of Life.  For some, they are the best friends who make their need for people redundant.

But, apart from it all, books are the best teachers we could ever have. And, being writers, the need to read books can never be discounted.

Some of my favourite books are from the fiction genre, especially suspense/ thrillers. In non-fiction, I  like the real-life inspirational stories, like the ones by Dr.Brian Weiss, and Anita Moorjani.  And, it’s these non-fiction ones that have inspired me while writing my posts.

I love mythological ones, too! Jaya, by Devdutt Pattanaik,  for instance. And, some historical stories, as well. No romance, or chick-lit for me, though. Guess, I have passed that age where we know what Love is all about!

I was a voracious reader earlier,  but then, Life took over and reading became a luxury I could hardly afford. So, it was only after I began writing that I realised how important it is to read; read so that you improve your writing,  and develop your craft, rectify your syntax errors and learn the magic formula required to grab a reader’s attention.

 

Book reviews happened by chance. Couple years ago, motivational speaker, Priya Kumar had her book release. She approached many a blogger to review her book and publish the review on their respective blogs. I was one of those bloggers, too. It felt wonderful being requested to do the review by her, but daunting, as well.

Never having done a book review, I had to first learn the art of reviewing books and writing an honest, impartial review. Sentiments cannot be hurt, and yet you need to put across your views about the book – whether it is good, likable, or read-at-your-own-risk kind.

There are a few book reviewers whom I follow closely. Bloggers who have carved an identity for themselves reviewing books, and from whom I learned a lot.

So, if you wish to learn what book reviewing is all about, do visit these blogs. Just reading the different genres they have reviewed will give you a fair idea of how to go about it.

There are also some blogging communities that offer books for reviews. If you wish to try your hand at it, do visit these sites and register there to receive books. Do follow the rules they have laid out for book reviewing.

Book reviewers I admire:

Shantala Nayak

Tulika Singh

Anamika Agnihotri

Mithila Menezes

Lata Sunil

Ramya Abhinand

Community for book lovers:

Writer’smelon

The book club

Do visit these bloggers and the communities if you would like to give reviewing a try. It’s a fun way of widening your horizons!

Things to remember for book reviewing:

Read the book, thoroughly.  Of course, that’s understood! However, try not to skip the parts that seem tedious.

Write an honest review. Never trash the book, especially if it’s a début work, and do not praise it to the skies, either. 

And remember, not all might agree with your view of the book. So, do give reasons for the criticism, as well as the commendation. 

Love,

SHILPA…

Why we need books

April 2018 A to Z blogging Challenge

 

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge is all about my blog, Metanoia, and my blogging journey from the time  I started, 5 years ago. The lessons I learnt, the tips and tricks I picked up from fellow bloggers and the guidelines I could have used back when I began. 

You will find all of my A to Z posts here.