Book review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle) 

Length: 288 pages

Genre: History, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Australia

Date of Publication: 27th January, 2018

Rating: 4/5 stars


I love reading historic fiction. It is one of my favourite genres. I especially love books based on the World War and the Holocaust because they represent a period in history that we must never forget. I had heard a lot about this book and could not wait to get started.


The Blurb

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions. 

The Book

I love reading historical fiction. It is one of my favourite genres. I especially like reading books based on the World War and the Holocaust because they represent a period in history that we must never forget. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a memoir of Lale, a Holocaust survivor. It begins with Lale being herded into the infamous cattle wagons and takes us on an emotional journey through the three years of his survival in one of the most horrific concentration camps in history.

Due to the author’s style of writing, the first half of the book did not have the kind of effect on me that I thought that it would. I don’t mean to imply that the story isn’t powerful because it is. But it did not make me bawl. However, the second half of the book and the Afterword by the author felt more personal and broke my heart to a million pieces. Some of Lale’s story seemed to rely mostly on luck, especially towards the end but for someone who lived through the unluckiest part of history, Lale can have all the luck in the world and it would still seem inadequate in comparison.

The Author

Heather Morris is a Native of New Zealand now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an academy award winning Screenwriter in the U.S. In 2003, she was introduced to an elderly gentleman “who might just have a story worth telling”. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed her life, as their friendship grew and he embarked on a journey of self scrutiny, entrusting the inner most details of his life during the Holocaust. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.


TL;DR: A moving tale which could have been written better but one that is important for the world to know


What are your favourite historic fiction reads?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Advertisements
Book club, Book review, Readathon

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 430 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Historic Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: Del Ray

Date of Publication: 5th October, 2017

Rating: 5/5 stars


I received this book as a part of the January 2018 Aurora Box of Dreams. I had in fact, requested this book in place of their BOTM but as happens with the best laid plans, I just didn’t seem to be able to begin reading this book for nearly a year. With the end of 2018 fast approaching, I had a few book blog goals to complete. One of them was to read books that were on my shelf for too long. First of such books was All the Bright Places which I received as a birthday present from my Bookstagram buddies and next was The Bear and the Nightingale.

Even with this goal in mind, I did not seem to find the inclination to start reading the book. I knew it received good reviews, I was sure that I would love it but I just did not seem to begin. Finally I saw that ecstatic yet chaotic had a readathon planned for this book and the next book in the series and I took it as an opportunity to begin reading. We also plan to read the next book in the series, The Girl in the Tower in time for the release of the last book of the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch.

The book is the first in the Winternight trilogy and has won several accolades like Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2018)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy & for Debut Goodreads Author (2017)HWA Debut Crown Nominee for Longlist (2017)


The Blurb

“‘Frost-demons have no interest in mortal girls wed to mortal men. In the stories, they only come for the wild maiden.’ 

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods… “

The Book

The book begins with the description of little Vasya and her rebellious excursions to the forest. I didn’t like the heroine much in the beginning but she grew on me as the story progressed. The book is fast paced with plenty of fantasy creatures that delight the reader. The influence from Russia for the landscape, the names, and the culture was very intriguing. The monsters and the demons were quite different from what we usually find and I found some of them particularly cute.

I was very glad that the author included both strong and open-minded men as well as weak, power-hungry, and superstitious ones in the story. I was even more glad to see strong female characters for  the little girl to draw inspiration from. What I really loved though, was the world building. It made everything come alive, especially the Winter King and his treasure. I was also intrigued about the subtle message to the reader regarding the importance of tradition and the call to not discard the old ways in favour of the new but to integrate them both together.

The Author

Born in Texas, Katherine studied French and Russian at Middlebury College. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, among other places. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she wrote much of The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont.

Her work include:

  1. The Bear and the Nightingale (2017)
  2. The Girl in the Tower (2017)
  3. The Winter of the Witch (2019)

TL;DR: A fast paced book with plenty of fantasy creatures that delight and a world building that makes everything come alive.


Have you completed your reading goals for 2018?

What were they?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @thefoodandbooklife

Book review

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Statistics

Norse Mythology

Format: Paperback 

Length: 283 pages

Genre: Mythology, Fiction, Fantasy, Short stories

Publisher: Bloomsbury publishers

Date of Publication: 6th March, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars


I kept hearing rave reviews of Norse Mythology everywhere and wanted to read it. I like reading mythology and historic fiction and had previously loved Circe and The Song of Achilles that deal with Greek mythology and plenty of Indian mythology so I was very excited to start this book.


The Blurb

The great Norse myths, which have inspired so much of modern fiction, are dazzlingly retold by Neil Gaiman. Tales of dwarfs and frost giants, of treasure and magic, and of Asgard, home to the gods: Odin the all-father, highest and oldest of the Aesir; his mighty son Thor, whose hammer Mjollnir makes the mountain giants tremble; Loki, wily and handsome, reliably unreliable in his lusts; and Freya, more beautiful than the sun or the moon, who spurns those who seek to control her.

From the dawn of the world to the twilight of the gods, this is a thrilling, vivid retelling of the Norse myths from the award-winning, bestselling Neil Gaiman.

The Book

The book is divided into chapters, each describing a Norse legend. The stories of Loki’s children, of Sif’s golden hair, of Odin’s sacrifices, of Thor’s strength, and Loki’s cunning are something that we have heard of. It was good to know the real reasons and back-stories of each of them. But unfortunately, the stories seemed to bore me because of the style of writing. Almost everybody that has read Neil Gaiman’s writing raves about it so I think I must read another of his books before I boycott him completely but I did not expect this book to disappoint me so much.

The stories that really got to me all had to do with Loki and his children. The descriptions of Hel and of the wolf brother killing his younger sibling were very sad. I would begin to hate Loki for all the trouble that he causes in each story but also feel sympathetic to him when he tries to find a way out of it. As the author says, you can hate Loki but you can’t help but love him. My favourite line from the entire book is Thor saying “When something goes wrong, the first thing that I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.” That sentence is so quintessential of both Thor and of Loki!

Some of the scenes of the Avengers movies made more sense to me after I read this book but I felt that it was a very cut-and-dry approach to storytelling. Sentences seemed to be repeating themselves and the stories skipped a bit in between and left things to the reader’s discretion. It may have been my high expectations that lead to the disappointment but I wish that the book had more to offer.

The Author

Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading.

Neil Gaiman is credited with being one of the creators of modern comics, as well as an author whose work crosses genres and reaches audiences of all ages. He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama.


TL;DR: A quick read with multiple short stories that explain the Norse Gods and their myths


Do you like reading mythology?

What is your favourite?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

The Pride March by Dr. Efthikar Ahamed

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 40 pages

Genre: Drama, Play, LGBTQ+

Publisher: Dattsons Publishers

Date of Publication: 19th September, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


Book Pitaara began as a subscription box service but has now grown, acquired plenty of loyal subscribers and has branched itself to related business as well. I had a wonderful time representing them in the months of October, November and December 2018 and when I learnt that they had collaborated with publishers for book reviews, I knew I had to get myself associated with it.

The first review copies were from Dattsons Publishers and I received two books that dealt with LGBTQ+ issues. I first picked this book since I haven’t read much in the genre until now.


The Blurb

The Pride March is a drama about the plight of the transgender humans who are appallingly marginalized all over the world and about the social conditions prevailing in some parts of the globe which even lead them to get executed in the name of honour killing. Subtitled as “A Theatrical Journey into the Lives of LGBTs in 3 Scenes & 2 Verbatim” the play narrates various phases of Mohini, a young researcher who later becomes Mohan, the Transgender. A woman transforming into a man, after chasing her dream of becoming one and her espousal with the pain of wounds, the pleasures of pain, the pleasurable transformation, and the confrontation with the wrathful societal agencies form the plot of the play. It also discusses the issues of the lost honour – the anger of the patriarchal lost pride – through some memorable characters and incidents. The play sharply problematizes the honour killing committed by a father against his daughter which is a display of indignation by murder to protect one’s honour. The locale of The Pride March is anywhere in India and its time may be any year after 2015.

The Book

Although The Pride March is a book that is only 40 pages long, it tries to address a lot of important issues that are relevant in the society in the present day. The story follows Mohini, a transgender who aspires to complete his transformation to a man. He has a group of friends who understand the issue and are supportive to the point where they accompany him to the doctor for the gender reassignment surgery and the post-operative care. I was glad that he was surrounded by people who cared and who understood what he was going through especially since we later learn that his family was not supportive of the transformation.

However, certain parts of the story did not sit well with me. I did not support the way the medical issues were dealt with in the story. The depiction of a doctor who was openly smoking while consulting on a case as sensitive as gender reassignment and one who did not take care about the confidentiality of the patient was not believable now when the laws are strict about the patient being treated right and doctors being educated regarding these issues. I was also surprised with the way the post-operative instructions were supposedly told to the patient’s friends. But the book needs to be read, not as a medical novel, but as a slice of life in the LGBTQ+ community and these lapses may be forgiven by the casual reader.

The social issues were dealt with with a realism that is sometimes sorely missing in literature and I was glad for it. Although the end was predictable, it carried with it the anguish of two characters who failed to reconcile until it was too late and the verbatim at the end was moving. I found that while the author tried to maintain a certain level of believability with the characters, they were all dramatized to suit the theatre. I am not sure if I am a fan of the genre but it was an interesting literary adventure in the end.

The Author

Dr. Efthikar Ahamed currently works as an Assistant Professor in the department of English and Comprehensive Literature in Kerala. He was awarded PhD in English for his research work in the area of poetry and comparative study. He has presented various research articles in national and international seminars and conferences. His publications in different peer reviewed research journals and periodicals, both in English and Malayalam put him in the main list of much-sought-after academic creative thinker and writer in the region.

He has two books to his credit in Malayalam and two in English. The Pride March is his debut play in English.


TL;DR: A quick read that focuses on important social issues


Do you like reading plays?

What would you recommend to me in the genre?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Author Interview, Promotion

Author Interview- Thomas Leslie McRae

I recently read the books Pimp in the Pulpit volumes 1 and 2 by Thomas McRae. I got a chance to interview the author and here are some of the things that we spoke about.


Me: When did you first realized that you wanted to write?
TM: I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I love poetry and writing it, I also love short fiction novels. I love the idea that something I can put on paper can actually touch many lives, plus different people. Words are a powerful thing they can inspire or break people’s spirit so that is why I like to write. I like knowing that my words have meaning and that people are interested in what I have to say.

Me: How did the process of publishing your first book change you as a person?
TM: In the beginning it was a fulfilling experience, but to be honest Author House Publishing is all about taking people’s money and not providing quality work or support. Speaking as a self-published author I would recommend before you handover any of your money you do thorough research and stick to your budget and don’t let any self publishing company convenience you differently. I am grateful for learning things and experiencing some harsh lessons in life. But it’s a lesson I learned and I’m a better writer for it.

Me: Seeing that Pimp in the pulpit was inspired by your own life experiences what was the hardest scene that you had to write?
TM: To be perfectly honest nothing I wrote was all that difficult. Because speaking the truth is refreshing and uplifting I believe it’s sad that most people spend so much time trying to be politically correct, instead of being honest and direct about life and everything involving it.

Me: What was one of the interesting things that you learnt during the process of creating this book?
TM: I learned that people don’t like having the truth about themselves being broadcast for everyone to see. But it’s ironic that they won’t do or try and be better. If people spend less time putting on a show for everyone else and be the man and woman they say they are then this world would be a better place.

Me: What do you hope that your readers take away from the book?
TM: I hope everyone and anyone who is willing to keep an open mind will enjoy and learn from the story in this book. Because Pimp in the Pulpit has a little bit of truth, fiction and a diversity in characteristic and literary form. Families aren’t perfect but some are worse than others so always be happy and grateful for what you have.

The author and his brother who is featured heavily in the Pimp in the Pulpit books, as children

Me: What does your family think of your writing?
TM: Some of my family is supportive, but most of them genuinely are just putting on a show. They only care when there is an audience or if I’m doing radio, book bloggers or newspaper interviews. I try not to focus on that but dedicate myself to my craft as a writer and a author.

Me: Do you read reviews for your books? How do you react to them?
TM: I do read my reviews from time to time. I usually try to get a mental concept of the good and bad reviews, because accepting criticism and embracing good reviews is something you have to accept if you’re going to be an author. Not everyone is going to like what you write or understand your creative style. But always stay true to who you are and Never Lose Yourself in your literary journey.

Me: Describe a typical writing day.
TM: I don’t have any typical procedures. I write when I’m happy, sad or just bored. As long as I feel I have something to say, I will write it down on a piece of scrap paper and go back to reevaluate my thoughts and ideas.

Me: Writing can be emotionally draining how do you deal with that?
TM: I usually don’t get drained by writing, because writing is an excitement that touches the core of my soul. I love to write because it gives me purpose and it helps me see who and what I am.

Me: What are some of the common traps for aspiring writers?

TM: Speaking from a self publishing author perspective, I can honestly say one of the main traps you fall into when dealing with these self-publishing companies is being persuaded into going over your budget with false notion of support and marketing help. Many of these self publishing company’s will promise you everything from the stars and the moon but once the money exchanges hands they act like these real estate agents and grab your money plus run like the wind. Some will continue to take your calls but ignore you in general. So my advice is this- stand your ground and stick to your guns and don’t do anything that doesn’t work for you.

Me: Do you see yourself writing in any other genre?
TM: Anything is possible because there was a time, I wasn’t sure I would ever work up the courage to publish a book led alone trying to market it myself. So yeah it could happen.

Me: What does literary success mean to you?
TM: Literary success, it simply means to me knowing that I gave it my all and was able to get my message out to you the people. No matter how many books I sell I just want to touch at least one person with my words and my stories and that alone will be enough.

Me: What are you currently working on?
TM: As of right now my poetry book Fatal Impact is available online, for more information about that contact iuniverse publishing. But Fatal Impact is filled with passion and desire plus a variety of collection of poems such as spiritual, love, death, political and personal. It’s a good poetry book that  anyone and everyone could relate to.


Fatal Impact newest book available online can all be purchased at any online book retailer websites Amazon.com, Barnes and noble.com Google Books.com are the main ones.

Book review, Received for Review

The Code of Manavas by Arpit Bakshi

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 280 pages

Genre: Indian Literature, Mythology, Science fiction

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Date of Publication: 10th July, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


The Code of Manavas is the first book in the Maha Vishnu Trilogy. It has been quite a while since I’ve read any sci-fi and Indian mythology is always fun to read so I was very excited to read the book.


The Blurb

Book one of the Maha Vishnu Trilogy, The Code of Manavas, is set some two million years past ad 2050, when earth as we know it ceased to exist and so did mankind. A new race, the Manavas, now exists on Bhoomi, the erstwhile Earth, which is divided into two cities—Madhavpur and Ayudhpur. In the quiet and peaceful city of Madhavpur, a reclusive Krishna is busy with an immense task. He has to prepare a new abode for the Manavas before an impending apocalypse destroys them. He knows something that nobody else does—the Manavas are running out of time faster than they can imagine and there are no inhabitable planets to escape to. To make matters worse, there is someone in Madhavpur who wants to destroy Krishna and subjugate each Manava. The Manavas, it seems, are doomed. Yet Krishna knows there is a slim chance of survival for the Manavas, although there is a huge price to be paid for it. Will the various factions of the Manavas unite for the greater good? Will Krishna, who saved them during the turn of the last Yuga, be able to save them now? What will be the price to pay? Enter the mythical world of Maha Vishnu and get swept up in a fast-paced suspenseful narrative.

The Book

The book is set in the future and begins with the description of an advanced group of people called Manavas who have evolved from humans with the help of a mysterious element, Bhoomodium. Bhoomodium increases the cognitive efficacy of the people and also renders them immortal but it has other consequences that they discover as time progresses. The author’s research on cosmic phenomenon and scientific facts regarding brain functioning is apparent throughout the book. The Krishna in the Swarnim Yuga and the Krishna that we all know from the Dwapara Yuga have been connected to each other in a variety of interesting angles but I wish that they had been explored more.

While the first couple of chapters were engaging, the book started to veer off into expected tangents as the story progressed. The introduction of a tragic love story and a partial love triangle seemed unnecessary seeing that it did not play any role in plot development. It seemed half-hearted with the introduction of the characters of Vallabha and Meera who was created just to satisfy the author’s need to introduce female characters into the story. The lack of representation of women as lead characters or even as council members irked me but what really upset me was how the other women were depicted. The so-called ‘guide’ who knows the lay of the land ends up twisting her ankle and having to be carried by the man, she does not notice that a Leopard is stalking her even though it is her job to collect samples and must always be aware of her surroundings. She is then again rescued by the ‘hero’ of the story. The woman who claims to be strong and is outdoorsy falls off the boat at the beginning of the journey and needs to doze and rest while the man who hardly ever ventures out of his lab gets them to their destination. A very obvious ‘damsel in distress rescued by the brilliant man’ theme was apparent throughout the book. The women were all portrayed as having only romance on their minds with both Vallabha and Radhika needing validation of their feelings from Krishna.

The book was slow in some parts but skipped over details in others. The sentence flow did not seem consistent, almost like it was edited by multiple people at multiple places and it was not brought together in the end. The plot was pretty much see-through throughout the book and none of the characters were particularly likable to me.

The Author

Arpit Bakshi studied electrical engineering and has an MBA in finance from the University of RPI, Troy, New York. He now works for a prominent Indian bank. Arpit initially wanted to pursue a career in theoretical physics, but ended up opting for engineering (as most students of science in India tend to do). Since his childhood, two things have never failed to amaze him—the vast expanse of the cosmos; and the unfathomable depth of Indian mythology and spirituality. He believes that one should never stop learning and it is his love for science that has gravitated him towards writing this mythology-inspired science fiction. Arpit is based in Gurgaon, India.


TL;DR: A book with a promising premise that unfortunately does not deliver on its promise


What is your favourite science fiction?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @thefoodandbooklife

Book Reveal, Promotion

Policy of Truth by Scarlett Holloway- Blog Tour

statistics

Genre: Mystery

Length: 278 pages

Date of Publication: 22nd February, 2019

Pre-order: 22nd January, 2019


The Blurb

After ending an abusive relationship, all Tamra ‘Durty’ Simons wanted was to reinvent herself and meeting Lace Beck gave her the opportunity to do just that.
However, a long journey of picking up the pieces didn’t prepare her for Sting’s appearance in her life.
Brett ‘Sting’ Jackson, was on a mission. Infiltrate the Death Angel MC and keep an eye on them. It was supposed to be simple─until Durty. Trying to gather intel was harder when falling for Durty seemed inevitable.
A foundation based on lies is sure to crumble, but when a rival club attacks the Angels, Sting and the Muerte Roja put their lives on the line to ensure Durty and the club is kept safe.
When the truth surfaces and passions ignite, will love be the only thing that survives?

The Author

Growing up on Central Coast, Scarlett Holloway always dreamed of seeibg her name on the cover of a book and on the NYTBS list. What better way than to bring a part of her past onto the pages of a novel, as well as writing about issues that women face on a daily basis? When she is not in her bunny hole writing, she is a massage therapist, trying to her people through therapeutic healing. Scarlett is hopelessly devoted to her husband, who she lovingly calls her plotbunny, and her teenage son.

You can contact Scarlett Holloway on her social media here-

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ascarlettssong/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScarlettsSong Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thescarlettholloway/


Author’s upcoming work

Scarlett Holloway also has a new book in the works- Texas Heat (Part I of the Double J Saga) to be released in April 2019.

If you wish to own a copy of policy of Truth, enter this giveaway by January 22nd. Click below to enter-

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/efe433001/?fbclid=IwAR3nvcwXrAjQpWvmlPRFycR8Zjp9nDEGjDnd8dDtZMddaGZXSOJXx1mVTXE


You can also follow the blog tour here-

Book review, Received for Review

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis

Statistics

Format: Paperback 

Length: 120 pages

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Page Turner Publishing

Date of Publication: 9th September, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


Kay Macleod organised an Indie Advent Calendar like she has been doing for the last two years. Through the advent calendar I met several authors and Tonya was one of them. I love reading children’s fiction. This seemed to be the perfect read for the Christmas season and I was very excited to read it.


The Blurb

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington in this adorable, illustrated chapter book for middle grade readers. There is no secret Santa gift exchange going on at her school, so she can’t imagine who it could be. Sophie’s best friends, Chloe, Valentina, and Mariama guess the gift giver is either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not so sure.

Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget!

The Book

The story revolves around sixth grader Sophie Washington, her family and friends, especially her little brother Cole with his corny jokes who was my favourite. It is almost time for christmas break when sophie begins to receive packages from her Secret Santa. In the boxes she finds her favourite candies, a gingerbread house, and jewelry. She racks her brain to figure out who could be sending things to her and how they know what her favourite things are.

Along with this vein of mystery, the book also has other important aspects like dealing with bullies, forgiveness, and the importance of friendship and which makes it a wholesome read. I was reminded of Enid Blyton books because of the very clear distinction between right and wrong, good family values, and kids who are still innocent and likable. I now desparately want to read all the books in the series for their feel good factor.

The Author

Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the Reader’s Favorite “Five Star” rated Sophie Washington children’s books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12 and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence and worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer.

Tonya was born and raised in Louisville, KY and has also lived in Michigan, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, London, England, and Strasbourg, France. She currently resides in Houston, TX. When she’s not writing, the author enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel and spending time with her husband and three children. 

Her work include:
1. Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee (2013)

2. Sophie Washington: Things you Didn’t Know About Sophie (2013)

3. Sophie Washington: The Snitch (2014)

4. Sophie Washington: The Gamer (2017)

5. Sophie Washington: Hurricane (2018)

6. Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica (2018)

7. Sophie Washington: Secret Santa (2018)


TL;DR: A feel good book with mystery, humor and wholesome values


What did you do this Christmas season?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

Book review, Received for Review

The Lively Library and an Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 96

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Readomania

Date of Publication: June 2016

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review


The author is a professional chess player which intrigued me since I played semi-professionally for about 7 years. The author also promised that I would love the smattering of words in my mother tongue, Kannada. I never find books with Kannada words in them so I was very excited to begin reading.
The book is curated and edited by Readomania, an independent publishing house who support new and up-coming authors.


The Blurb

Unknown to Nayan, the library he inherits from his deceased father, is a mysterious place. Hiriya Halepu, Pu.Nayaka, Kapshi and and many others live there. They have a secret world with celebrations, romances, pangs of separation and conflicts. This is the Book-World. As two souls in this world fall in love, they encounter a strange predicament that separates them from each other. Things go from bad to worse when an unknown enemy sends a threat of destruction to this whole mysterious world. They call their resolute protector, Helmine, who unravels many unknown facets of this world, in an attempt to save it from the danger. The lovers struggle to find each other, and Helmine tries hard to decipher the threat messages. But will she be able to save this world from destruction? Will the two souls in love be united? There are no easy answers. Because, this is no ordinary Library, this is the place where books come to life.

The Book

The Lively Library and an Unlikely Romance is a short read that started out promising. It is the story of a library that comes to life after sundown, something similar to The Night Museum movies. I was curious to see how the author would adapt the concept to a library. An unwitting son inherits a library full of very special books. They have leaders among themselves, they have books that are noble and books that are mischievous, they have a network similar to our internet, they have means of communication similar to our text messages. They form an entire community of their own.

Unfortunately, as the story progressed, I had to deal with quite a lot of disappointment. The characters that were introduced in the beginning were not developed later in the story. The owner of the library and the two young children who I thought would play a role in the story were only randomly seen. With a multitude of new concepts and characters, the book was too short to do any of them justice. The ‘unlikely romance’ also did not feature much in the story.

Another thing that irked me was that the author gave spoilers to a lot of books in the process of describing them. He even described how some books end which is just not cool. The entire story of Fahrenheit 451 was revealed. I bought the book just a couple of months ago and was excited to read it and felt betrayed by the author.

On the positive note, the book was excellently edited, had no grammatical inconsistencies and had no typographical errors.

The Author

Niranjan Navalgund is a young chess professional who derives great pleasure in learning about life through the game of chess. He is a former National U-17 Chess Champion and a Commonwealth Silver medalist in the U-18 Category. He has been conferred with ‘Indradhanushya’ (2007) ‘Giants International Award’ (2009), ‘Kreeda Ratna’ Award (2010) and ‘Belgaumite of the year’ Award (2012) for his achievements in the field of Chess. He is a lover of words and occasionally tries his hand at writing stories and poems. He believes that writing is a wonderful exercise for the soul. Being a bibliophile, he harbours a special interest in the New Age Philosophy. Unusual stories excite him. He hopes to visit the Panda Zoo, someday. Niranjan lives with his family in Belagavi.

His work include:

  1. Chronicles of Urban Nomads (2014)
  2. A Little Chorus of Love (2015)
  3. A Lively Library and an Unlikely Romance (2016)
  4. Over a Cup of Chai (2018)

TL;DR: A quick read that introduces quite a lot of interesting concepts but needed more pages to truly explore them


Do you like reading children’s fiction?

What do you most like about them?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @thefoodandbooklife

Book review, Giveaway

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 126 pages

Genre: Poetry, Spirituality, Philosophy, Classics

Publisher: Fingerprint Classics

Date of Publication: 2017; First published in 1927

Rating: 3.5/5 stars


I received this book as a giveaway win from @reader_viddh. Everybody has been raving about the book and it seemed interesting to find an insight into another religion so I was very interested in reading it. I am not a big fan of poetry but I found that the book was beautifully written and I could handle it quite well.


The Blurb

A book of twenty-six poetic essays written in English, Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet is full of religious inspirations.

With the twelve illustrations drawn by the author himself, the book took more than eleven years to be formulated and perfected and is Gibran’s best-known work. It represents the height of his literary career as he came to be noted as ‘the Bard of Washington Street’.

The Prophet has chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.

The Book

The book begins with the prophet lamenting about having to leave the place that he has come to love even though he is actually going back home. It describes a pain that all of us have felt when we have been used to living in a place that is home away from home. I found the first half of the book relatable but as the book progressed it seemed to incline more towards a fanatical approach towards life than practical. But seeing that the book was written a century ago, I think it was way ahead of its time.

In the first chapter ‘Coming of the Ship’, the author says “love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation”. I found this to hold true even for non-romantic love. It is only when we lose something that we seem to realise its importance. Later in the chapter titled ‘Marriage’, he says “we shall be together […] but let there be spaces in our togetherness.” It amazed me to see that a book written in 1927 could place so much importance on individuality and space in a relationship. Compared to the relationship advice that we saw in the latter half of that century, I was sad that such thinking existed but we did not carry it forward.

About ‘Giving’, the author says “is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?”. He later gives more examples to show that greed is what consumes most people. This resonated with me because we now see countries that have an excess of resources being stingy and ‘saving up’ for a later date while in fact they would be more at peace and happier if they would just let people make use of everything that they have to offer. When asked about ‘Talking’, the author says “when you talk you cease to be at peace with your thoughts. And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.” I remember someone saying “when you talk you stop listening”. As an introvert who has trouble finding things to talk about in social situations, this made a lot of sense. I often find that people talk for the sake of talking and it does nothing to help the knowledge base of the talker nor the listener. This chapter validated a lot of thoughts that I had about talking and listening.

When asked about ‘Pleasure’, the author said: “your body is the harp of your soul and it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds”. Again, I was surprised by the amount of freedom that the author gives to the individual. Rather than telling the woman that she exists for the pleasure of the males, he tells her that she is in control of her body and her mind. Later in the last chapter, ‘Farewell’ the author says […] you are as weak as your strongest link. This is half the truth. You are as strong as your strongest link. To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam”. This is great advice even in the present day. We see so many interviewers asking the interviewee what his weakest skill is and instead of helping to work on it or on his strengths, he is not even given a job. Concentrating on the weakest link is a very negative approach to a situation and I believe that solving an issue using everybody’s strengths will be quicker than eliminating people based on their weaknesses.

The book is a quick read but has life lessons in every paragraph. It makes you think. As a person who does not read much of poetry, I must say that it managed to keep my attention throughout. I don’t read religious books so I was a bit apprehensive about what I would find in this book but I was pleasantly surprised that it did not allude to any religion even in a roundabout way. Although I did not agree with some of the chapters, I would recommend the book to everyone at least as a means of having a philosophical discussion if not a spiritual or a religious one.

The Author

Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer.

Born in the town of Bsharri in modern-day Lebanon (then part of Ottoman Mount Lebanon), as a young man he emigrated with his family to the United States where he studied art and began his literary career. In the Arab world, Gibran is regarded as a literary and political rebel. His romantic style was at the heart of a renaissance in modern Arabic literature, especially prose poetry, breaking away from the classical school. In Lebanon, he is still celebrated as a literary hero.

He is chiefly known in the English-speaking world for his 1923 book The Prophet, an early example of inspirational fiction including a series of philosophical essays written in poetic English prose. The book sold well despite a cool critical reception, gaining popularity in the 1930s and again especially in the 1960s counterculture.

Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.


TL;DR: A book written a century ago that still has lessons for us in the present day.


Do you read philosophical books?

What is your favourite?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life