Book review

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 451 pages

Genre: Historic Fiction

Publisher: Scribner

Date of Publication: 6th May, 2014

Rating: 5/5 stars


I received this book as a part of my birthday book mail from the #bookdivas and I absolutely loved it. However, I could not get to reading it for about 5 months! This was one book that I knew I had to read before the year ended and I’m glad that I did.

The book has won several accolades such as Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2015)Audie Award for Fiction (2015)ALA Alex Award (2015)Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction (Runner-Up) (2015)Ohioana Book Award for Fiction (2015)Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction (2015)Idaho Book of the Year Award (2014)National Book Award Finalist for Fiction (2014)Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction (2014) and Nominee for Best of the Best (2018)International DUBLIN Literary Award Nominee (2016)

The Blurb

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

The Book

The book hooked me from the very first page. The young life of Marie-Laure reminded me of a book that I read a long time ago where a grandfather trains his blind grandchild in puzzles and educates her by taking her around the museum, though I have forgotten the name of the book. (If any of you know it, please tell me!)

I loved reading both the points of view but I enjoyed Werner’s experiences and his way of looking at the world more than Marie-Laure’s. I was glad that the author did not turn her into a simpering little girl but showed that people who are sight impaired can play a pivotal role even in the times of war. I expected the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner to be interconnected much earlier in the book. Certain parts of the book seemed to be dragging on a bit too much and seemed unnecessary to the entire plot. The end left me dissatisfied. I had a higher expectation for the book but on the whole, it was an intriguing read. What really moved me was the part where Marie-Laure is haunted by her experiences when she re-visits the places of her childhood. War displaces the lives of everyone, but children have it worse than everyone else.

The Author

Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector About Grace Memory Wall Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho. Become a fan on Facebook and stay up-to-date on his latest publications.

TL;DR: A moving story that surprises you and makes you realise that the repercussions of war reach far and wide.

What is your favorite genre?

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

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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

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 club, Book review

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle)

Length: 322 pages

Genre: Historic Fiction

Publisher: Knopf publishers

Date of Publication: 7th June, 2016

Rating: 5/5 stars


I read homegoing as a part of a readalong on Instagram along with Nikhat, Nikita, Unnati, Orishtha, Vasudha, Geethika & Debbie, Aanvi, Miss Literateur and The Book Knight.

I love readalongs and book discussions because it opens your mind to other possibilities and interpretations of the same written words. It always amazes me that the same sentences could mean so many different things to different people.

Historic fiction is one of my favourite genres and the growth of a culture is always interesting to read. African history is steeped high with the intermingling of cultures and races and it is tragically beautiful while being infuriating at the same time. I have previously read books on the same subject and was curious to see what this book held and I was certainly not disappointed.


The Blurb

The book begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

The Book

A sentence that makes sense even now with all the oppressors and the religious wars-“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man. But the only reason he is god instead of Nyame or Chukwu or whoever is because we let him be. We do not fight him. We do not even question him. The white man told us he was the way, and we said yes, but when has the white man ever told us something was good for us and that thing was really good? They say you are an African witch, and so what?”

“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man. But the only reason he is god instead of Nyame or Chukwu or whoever is because we let him be. We do not fight him. We do not even question him. The white man told us he was the way, and we said yes, but when has the white man ever told us something was good for us and that thing was really good? They say you are an African witch, and so what?”

Homegoing covers the lives of eight generations of Gold Coast residents in West Africa. It begins with the arrival of the whites for trade in the form of barter of goods and continues to show the brutality of the slave trade, the atrocities of the whites over the blacks and finally the life of blacks in segregated cities after the Civil War. I had recently read The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas where she shows how much of inequality still exists in the world based on skin color. To read about the reason for the development of that racial discrimination was enlightening. I had previously read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs and watched Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino, both with brutal visuals of the plight of slaves and this book reminded me of some of those scenes that I had trouble getting out of my head again.

The book is written from the points of view of various characters, some powerful men and women, others helpless slaves. I love books that discuss a situation through all the different characters who have been affected by it. I loved how the author linked every chapter to something that happened in one of the previous chapters. It gave the book a continuity that made reading it a treat. The brutality of the living conditions, the whippings, the burnings and the very concept of owning another human being were gut-wrenching. I had to stop reading a couple of times because the imagery was so powerful. It was great that I had the other girls reading along with me to discus what we felt and to just be there for each other.

The book is divided into exactly two halves though I do not see the necessity. The last quarter of the book was not as powerful as the rest of the book but I attributed it to the fact that it covered parts of history that I already had read about. It was a beautifully written story with complex characters and it is one of my favourite reads of this year.

The Author

Yaa Gyasi was born in Ghana and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she held a Dean’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Her short stories have appeared in African American Review and Callaloo.


TL;DR: A powerful book that takes the reader on a journey across generations and continents and challenges some of the pre-set notions in history.


What is your favourite book in the historic fiction genre?

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

Book review

Circe by Madeline Miller

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Circe

Length: 333 pages

Genre: Mythology, Historic Fiction, Fantasy

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishers

Date of Publication: April 10th, 2018

Rating: 5/5 stars


As you know by now, I am a huge fan of mythology. One of my favorite genres is historic fiction. I love Greek mythology and wanted to own this book ever since I set my eyes on it. The number of giveaways that I have entered for this book on Instagram is atrocious! Finally when my birthday month came by, my Bookdivas sent me Circe in a birthday book-mail and I was over the moon!

I had already read and loved The Song of Achilles by the same author so I had very high expectations from this book. It certainly did not disappoint. Mithila and I buddy read this book and had the best time ever! Click here to see what she thought of the book.


The Blurb

From the Orange Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author of The Song of Achilles comes the powerful story of the mythological witch Circe, inspired by Homer’s Odyssey.

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.
Circe is the daughter of Helios, the sun god, and Perse, a beautiful naiad. Yet from the moment of her birth, she is an outsider in her father’s halls, where the laughter of gossiping gods resounds. Named after a hawk for her yellow eyes and strange voice, she is mocked by her siblings – until her beloved brother Aeëtes is born.

Yet after her sister Pasiphae marries King Midas of Crete, Aeëtes is whisked away to rule his own island. More isolated than ever, Circe, who has never been divine enough for her family, becomes increasingly drawn to mortals – and when she meets Glaucus, a handsome young fisherman, she is captivated. Yet gods mingle with humans, and meddle with fate, at their peril.

In Circe, Madeline Miller breathes life once more into the ancient world, with the story of an outcast who overcomes scorn and banishment to transform herself into a formidable witch. Unfolding on Circe’s wild, abundant island of Aiaia, where the hillsides are aromatic with herbs, this is a magical, intoxicating epic of family rivalry, power struggles, love and loss – and a celebration of female strength in a man’s world.

The Book

For someone who claims to love mythology, I was ashamed to find that what I thought I knew about Greek mythology did not even scratch the surface. My knowledge was mostly from other books and movies but it was in no way comprehensive and how could it be with the countless Greek Gods, Goddesses, Demigods, heroes, and monsters? They are like Cerberus the multi-headed dog. You think you have a handle on one of them only to discover that there are a hundred more. Add to this, the innumerable centuries that the Gods have lived and you have a very complex history and genealogy to understand. I was glad that the book stayed true to its name and we were allowed to discover the secrets of Circe from the time before she was even born. The sentences were beautifully crafted with the classic Miller style that I have come to love. The descriptions of the island, the animals, the Gods, and the monsters were very vivid. I loved how every chapter effortlessly paved the way for the next.

Circe is my favorite kind of character. She is tormented and made miserable by her circumstances but has a strong will and proves herself time and again. I loved how even as a child, Circe did not just take things lying down. When nobody wanted her brother, Circe took him in. When nobody wanted to help a fallen God, Circe was there. When nobody dared to dream of the ancient power in the flowers, Circe did. The adult Circe went on to tame wild beats and triumph over wild men. She did not falter when she had to raise her child by herself no matter how difficult he was or how many Gods she had to defy.

It was sad to see how even so many centuries ago, even with all the powers in them, women were still seen only as commodities. The prettiest fetched the best alliance through marriage, the most powerful gained favors of Kings across the world and the ones who were not considered worthy were left to fend for themselves. I was glad that Circe was not one of those simpering women who were shaped in the courts of Helios and Oceanus; aiming only to hurt each other and to obtain another shiny trinket in order to lord over the other nymphs.

Circe is a study in work ethics. She worked hard for all the powers and knowledge that she gained and never took them for granted. She was powerful enough to stop the mighty Athena, to walk to the depths of the greatest oceans and come out with a prize, to survive Helios’ wrath and build a beautiful life for herself but she never forgot that without continued hard work all that she had achieved was for naught. It is a lesson for all of us who would rest on our laurels and decide that we have had enough. If Circe could endure for centuries, can we not endure for decades?

The Author

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes.

Her work include:

  1. The Song of Achilles (2011)
  2. Heracle’s Bow (2012)
  3. XO Orpheus: Fifty New Myths (2013)- Contributor
  4. The Brown Reader: 50 Writers Remember College Hill (2014)- Contributir
  5. Galatea (2013)
  6. Circe (2018)

TL;DR: A beautifully written and moving story that has parallels even in the modern day society


Do you read 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

Chanakya by Ashok K. Banker

Statistics

Format: Paperback IMG_20180807_163755-01-01-min

Length: 156 pages

Genre: Fiction, Historic Fiction

Publisher: Westland Publications

Date of Publication: 25th June, 2018

Rating: 4/5 stars

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


I love the books that are sent by WritersMelon for review. They are usually well written and well edited. I was really excited when they had this book up for grabs since Historic Fiction is my favorite genre and kept my fingers crossed that I am approved for it.


The Blurb

“Jurist, war strategist, kingmaker. Master administrator. Author of the Arthashastra. But before the legend, there was the boy: Vishnu Gupta.

Pataliputra, capital of the great Nanda empire, is teeming with crime and corruption. Granted unlimited authority by the hedonistic emperor Mahapadma Nanda, evil mastermind Maha-amatya Kartikeya has the city in a vice-like grip.

But another name bubbles up through the chaos; there is talk of a young genius, Vishnu Gupta. When the Maha-amatya investigates the rumours, he recognises a future rival in the boy. He is determined to destroy this competition from the roots – family and all. Vishnu must gather all his wits and his formidable knowledge to protect everything he holds dear. The holy scriptures, his brilliant interpretations of the Vedas and the power of his unmatched mind: these are the only tools he has against the might of the most powerful man in the empire.

Epic storyteller Ashok K. Banker imagines the life and formative years of India’s greatest genius, a man whose influence persists down the ages. In this first installment of a thrilling trilogy, he recreates Chanakya’s early struggles and triumphs.

The Book

It is always wonderful to discover the stories behind history especially Indian history. I always feel like there aren’t enough stories to cover the intricacies that have occurred over the past centuries.

We have all grown up studying Chanakya and his Neethis A.K.A his Rules of Justice. Chanakya’s Arthashastra is said to have played a role in the formation of the Indian constitution. We all know of Chanakya as a serious and wise Brahmin so it was wonderful to see him portrayed as a boy of seven. Although fictitious, I fell in love with the wily little boy who routinely outsmarts adults. The author was descriptive and I could vividly picture the entire Gupta family and the courtiers of Pataliputra.

The book had a lot of observations by the author that were worth re-reading. My favorite among them was-

It is with such tiny adjustments that we normalize evil. allow tyranny to make its house within our democratic mind, permit the erosion of freedom and justice by those who warp and bend it to serve their own ends. The intelligent mind questions and doubts everything; devious oppressors know this and use it to force us to question even the most stark facts. Whom will you believe, the tyrant asks, me, or your own lying eyes and senses?

I also applaud the author for touching on sensitive issues such as human trafficking and corruption at all echelons of power. It was interesting to see that the problems that the society faced in the 300-200 B.C are still prevalent in modern day society and the powers to be are still trying to curb the society of these menaces. Vishnu Gupta’s understanding of the inner workings of the delicate political hierarchy was invigorating to read. I can’t wait to read the next book in this aptly named ‘Itihasa’ series!

Although a short read, it was fast paced and packed a lot of happenings. I finished the book in a single day and I cannot wait to read the rest of the story.

The Author

Ashok K. Banker is the internationally acclaimed author of over 60 books that have sold over 3 million copies in 21 languages and 61 countries. His hugely successful Ramayana series is credited with having launched the genre of English-language mythological retellings and influenced an entire generation of authors.

An Irish-Portuguese-Sri Lankan-Indian born in Mumbai, Ashok now lives in USA with his family. He has worked as a journalist and as a screenwriter and can be found online here.

His work include:

  1. Ramayana series
    • Prince of Ayodhya
    • Siege of Mithila
    • Demons of Chitraka
    • Armies of Hanuman
    • Bridge of Rama
    • King of Ayodhya
    • Vengeance of Ravana
    • Sons of Sita
  2. Mahabharata series
    • The Forest of Stories
    • The Seeds of War
    • The Children of Midnight
    • The Darkness Before Dawn
    • The Eclipse of Dharma
    • The Sons of Misrule
    • The Kingdom of Beasts
  3. Itihasa series
    • Ten Kings
    • Ashoka: Lion of Mayura
    • Ashoka: Satrap of Taxila
    • Ashoka: Master of Magadha
    • Shivaji
  4. Crime Novels
    • The Iron Bra
    • Murder & Champagne
    • Ten Dead Admen
    • Blood Red Sari
    • Burnt Safron Sky
    • Silver Acid Rain
    • Rust Black Heart
  5. Romance
    • Love Stories from the Mahabharata
    • Bombay Times
  6. Science Fiction
    • Gods of War
    • Vortal: Shockwave
    • Awaken
  7. Short Fiction
    • My Father Drank My Lover and Other Stories

TL;DR: A real page turner that will steal your heart and make you wish for more


Do you like Historic Fiction?

What is your favorite book in that genre?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Semmaari: A Lamb’s Gamble by Semura, Translated by Anantha Venkataraman

Statistics

Format: Paperback

Length: 212 pages

Genre: Historic Fiction, Indian Literature

Publisher: Notion Press

First Publication: 27th July, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars

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


I was contacted by the author on Goodreads to give his book a read. I am always on the hunt for Indian mythology or historic fiction and this seemed perfect for those genres. This was also to be my first book translated from an Indian regional language and I was very excited.


The Blurb

It is just a game. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything!

Something that begins as a humble game, topples the world for a shepherd, Semmaari. His intelligence catapults him to the peaks of glory, but, little did he know that greed, betrayal and envy have dug deep trenches for him to fall.

In this game of ‘lambs & tigers’, where the shepherd is just a sheep, will the lambs escape the snarling jaws of the tigers with wit, courage and love, or, will the tigers prevail, with their rage, agility and cunningness?

The Book

The book is based on Aadu Puli Aattam, the traditional game of Lambs and Tigers. It begins with the writer’s family going on a holiday only to discover an ancient game of Lambs and Tigers and the story behind it. The story then moves to the period of history where Kings routinely sponsored artists to adorn their courts and kingdoms. I loved the little history lesson that the author inserted into the story. The description of how sculptors discovered a standardized method of measuring time and distance was mesmerizing.

While the first one-third of the book was well written, the parts that followed were filled with spelling errors and grammatical inconsistencies. I was apprehensive about the story and dialogues being lost in translation and I was proved right in certain pages. The sentences that may have had a musical tone while written in Tamil seemed repetitive when translated into English. Having said that, the author and the translator have both made enormous efforts to make sure that words in regional languages have a translation in parenthesis.

The wit of the shepherd was fun to read. Most of the parts in the last half of the book seemed too good to be true in reality but the book read as a story that can be used to teach children the importance of never giving up and the merits of thinking on their feet. It was a quick read at 212 pages but the story although interesting, could have been made more snappy with better editing.

The Author

Samura is an avid follower of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam. He is an engineer with an origin in Chennai. He worked with Microsoft earlier and is now employed as a Software Development Director at Oracle, Bangalore.

His work was very well received among the readers and BOFTA film institute students who expressed interest to convert a few of them into short films.

His work include:

  1. Siliconpuram (2016): An anthology of short stories
  2. Semmaari (2018)

TL;DR: A quick read that is sure to interest readers who love historic fiction


Have you read books that have been translated from other languages?

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

Book review, Received for Review

Pralay: The Great Deluge by Vineet Bajpai

Statistics IMG_20180707_200458-01-min.jpeg

Format: eBook

Length: 330 pages

Genre: Historic fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

Publisher: VB Performance LLP

Date of publication: 10th January, 2018

Rating: 3/5 stars

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


When I saw that Readers cosmos had one of my favorite genres (historic fiction) up for review, I couldn’t not read it.


The Blurb

“Even death is afraid of the White Mask…”

1700 BCE, Harappa – The devta of Harappa has fallen…tortured and condemned to the dungeons of the dead. His murdered wife’s pious blood falls on the sands of the metropolis, sealing the black fate of Harappa…forever.

2017, Banaras – A master assassin bites into cyanide, but not before pronouncing the arrival of an unstoppable, dark force. A maha-taantric offers a chilling sacrifice.

325 AD, Bithynian City (modern-day Turkey) – Unable to foresee the monster he was untethering, an extraordinary monarch commissions a terrifying world-vision spanning millennia.

1700 BCE, East of Harappa – A mystical fish-man proclaims the onset of Pralay – the extinction of mankind. The Blood River rises to avenge her divine sons.

What happens to the devta of Harappa? Is Vidyut truly the prophesied saviour? Who are the veiled overlords behind the sinister World Order? What was the macabre blueprint of the mysterious emperor at Bithynian City? Turn the pages to unravel one of the world’s greatest conspiracies and the haunting story of a lost, ancient civilization.

The Book

Pralay is the sequel to Harappa and continues where the first book ended. The book switches between the present day India set in 2017 and the old Hindustan set in 1700 BCE. The switches are clearly marked and do not confuse the reader. The author draws parallels between the two worlds throughout the book. The conspiracy theories, the revealing of the truth that has been buried under years of hearsay and the talk about Knights Templar and other mystical orders were reminiscent of the Dan Brown books without seeming to draw anything from them. The book felt fresh, if a tad bit slow.

The book begins with a summary of what transpired in the first book of the series. The Devta of Harappa is tortured by the very people who he worked tirelessly for. He swears vengeance on every citizen- man, woman, and child. The story in this book revolves around Manu, the savior of Harappa and Vidyut the last Devta, both of whom try to save the world. Manu is helped in his endeavor by Matsya, the mysterious God-like being and Vidyut by his grandfather, the Trikal Darshi. They also have a group of dedicated loyal friends with them.

Even though the book is 330 pages long, it felt like it was just setting the stage for the last book in the series. The story did not progress much from the first book and I was perplexed as to why the author needed to be so descriptive in this one. The modern day mafioso and the World Order seemed to not play any role in this book and it looked like it was written because the author knew that he would need them for the next book. What I liked about the book was the fact that the author was very clear in his definitions of Indian traditions, the Vedas and the words in regional languages. The descriptions of the paranormal occurrences were chilling. I just wish that the book could have had a definite conclusion so that it can also be read as a stand-alone.

The Author

Vineet is a first-generation entrepreneur. At age 22 he started his company Magnon which is now among the largest digital agencies in the subcontinent, and part of the Fortune 500 Omnicom Group.
He has won several entrepreneurship and corporate excellence awards, including the Entrepreneur of the Year 2016. He was recently listed among the 100 Most Influential People in India’s Digital Ecosystem.
Vineet’s second company Talentrack is disrupting the media, entertainment & creative industry in India. It is the fastest-growing online hiring and networking platform for the sector. He is an avid swimmer, a gaming enthusiast, a bonfire guitarist and a road-trip junkie.
His work include:

  1. Build from Scratch: Strategies, Practical Insights and a Stepwise Guide Into Building a Successful Start-Up Enterprise (2004)
  2. Street To The Highway: The Unspoken Secrets Behind Converting Small Businesses Into Large Companies (2011)
  3. Build from Scratch (2013)
  4. The 30-something CEO (2016)
  5. Harappa: The Curse of the Blood River (2017)
  6. Pralay: The Great Deluge (2018)

TL;DR: A historic fiction set in two contrasting worlds, the book paves the way for the next book in the series


Do you like historic fiction as much as I do?

What is your favourite book in the genre?

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

Book review, Readathon

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Statistics

Format: eBook (Kindle)

IMG_20180610_110751-01-01-min

Length: 352 pages

Genre: Historic Fiction, LGBTQ+

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

First publication: 20th September, 2011

Rating: 5/5 stars


Last month BooksNBeyond had a #slaythetbr readathon that I participated in. Since June is Pride Month, the theme of their readathon is #loveislove. The Song of Achilles was the first book that I picked for their prompt “A book sent in a books n beyond box”. It is also the third book for the #pridereadathon organised by Sai Ram and Dhruv Singhal, the 1st being Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and next Less. Historic Fiction is my favourite genre and I absolutely loved this book right from the first chapter.


The Blurb

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

The Book

The Song of Achilles begins with the protagonist Patroclus, a young prince struggling with meeting the high and unrealistic expectations set for him by his father, King Menoitius. When he accidentally kills his bully and fails to lie his way out of it, he is exiled by his father. Fortunately for him, he is fostered by King Peleus of Phthia where he meets his beloved Achilles. The boys grow up in Phthia and in Mount Pelion under the guidance of Phoinix the councelor and Chiron the Centuar. How the love blossoms and how grownup responsibilities destroy everything that the boys hold dear is what makes up the story.

I love a book that is written from the point of view of the underdog. Patroclus, the unassuming sidekick to Achilles’ godlike divinity is given a voice of his own. His struggles are struggles that all of us face- to learn, to grow, to have his own identity. However, he understands that Achilles is destined for greatness and does not stand in his way nor demand anything in return for his undying devotion to his cause. The innocence of the love that grown between Patroclus and Achilles was beautiful to watch. Thetis’ treatment of Achilles and later of Pyrrhus was sad to observe. It seemed that all she cared about was their fame which would indirectly reflect on her. Her disapproval of Patroclus is something that we seen even in parents. However, she redeemed herself in my eyes in the last few pages.

I loved Achilles throughout the book. He was aware of his greatness but treated everyone with fairness, was not conceited nor was he entitled. However, he broke my heart with his treatment of the Greeks at the end of the book and I blamed him entirely for what happened to Partoclus. The interaction of the Kings and Princes reminded me of Game of Thrones but was more believable. Odysseus was one of my favourite characters and I wish he had more roles to play. I was picturing the movie Troy with Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana for the period costumes and landscapes.

I was glad for the Character Glossary at the end of the book. We have all heard of these Greek Gods, Goddesses and Heroes but the story that we know slightly differs from the author’s. This is explained at the end of the book and gave me closure. I was glad that the author stuck to the real story. That is, after all what historic fiction is all about. I was impressed with the handling of the LGBT theme in that era. It is very sad to see that what was considered normal in the 1st Century AD is considered by many as abnormal in the 21st. The book is fast-paced and difficult to put down and the story will stay with me for a long time.

The Author

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.


TL;DR: A beautifully presented story of characters that we are all familiar with, shown in a new light.


Do you love historic fiction?

What is your favourite?

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