Categories
Book Review Books

Book Review: The Hollow

What is the first thought that comes to the mind of a famous detective as he walks in for a luncheon and finds that a man is dying of a gun shot wound and someone is standing next to him with a gun?

Agatha Christie is a name that needs no introduction. She is arguably one of the best crime writers of all time and Hercule Poirot a formidable detective. A group of relatives and close friends have gathered to spend a weekend together at The Hollow and one of them is killed just when Hercule Poirot arrives for a lunch party at the house of the Angkatells. The wife stands over the dead body with a gun in her hands and everything seems simple enough about the case until it isn’t.

There are many twists in the plot and police’s and Poirot’s suspicion moves from one member of the party to another. Some family secrets are revealed during the investigation and everytime Poirot seems to be getting close to the answer, the facts bring a dead-end. The simplicity of scene of the murder confuses Poirot and this simple murder creates the biggest twist in the story.

Agatha Christie’s characters are as always perfect and meant to be there. She creates the perfect suspects and all of them have a motive for murder. Hercule Poirot is as always dynamic in his presence but this time he doesn’t have much investigation to carry out. Compared to her other works with Poirot at the helm, this has lesser presence of him and most of the story revolved around the Angkatells and their guests at The Hollow. The Hollow is more of a victim’s and suspects’ story rather than a story of Poirot’s investigative prowess. But, it is a good and enjoyable murder mystery.

My rating: 4.1/5

Categories
Book Review Books

Book Review: The Desolations of Devil’s Acre

“How many people would spend their lives among shades and ghosts, were they able? Every parent who’d lost a child, every lover who’d lost a mate: If they had the choice, wouldn’t most do the same? We’re all riddled with holes, and there were days when I would’ve done anything to patch mine, if just for a while. I was glad I didn’t have a choice. Gladder still that I didn’t have the powers of an ymbryne. The temptation to misuse them would’ve been overwhelming.”

The Desolations of Devil’s Acre: final part of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It all comes down to the final battle between the biggest evil Caul and the peculiar children in this sixth and final instalment of the series. There is no need for me to say that I had been waiting with eager excitement for this book to release.

The Desolations of Devil’s Acre starts where The Conference of the Birds ended; with the world going black for Jacob and Noor. They both find themselves in the backyard of Jacob’s grandfather’s house and from there on another struggle to survive begins.

Caul is back and more powerful and dangerous than before. He has a vendetta against his sister, Elma or Miss Peregrine as she is widely known and wants to enslave all peculiar children to do his bidding. What ensues now is a struggle to survive and defeat Caul before he destroys everything the ymbrynes have been working hard to build and protect.

The novel is full of action and there is never a dull moment. Where The Conference of the Birds may have been a little slow in the beginning, this one starts with a fight with a wight (eyeless men who kill without remorse) and continue with one adventure after another. Time travelling right into the middle of 2nd World War is also aptly written. Ransom Riggs has done justice to the setting of the War and to the whole fantasy genre as a whole. And the photographs he uses add to the joy of reading this book. It renders a surreal quality to the story and the author’s idea of using the photos has been great.

My one complain: all the original peculiar children should have been part of more action. I guess I am a bit biased towards them but once you start a series with particular characters, they sort of grow on you and you want them everywhere. Other than that, I think it was perfect.

The fact that this was the last part of an amazing book series made me want to read the book as fast as I could and yet not want to ever end the series. I had read the 1st part back in 2016 and I am so glad I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to read. I know for sure that soon enough I will be re-reading the series from the beginning.

My rating: 4.9/5

Categories
Book Review Books

Book Review: The Confessions of Frannie Langton

The Confessions of Frannie Langton has affected me more than I thought it would. Frances Langton, our protagonist, a “mulatta” girl – as she is often referred to as – is charged with the murder of her master and mistress, George Benham and his wife Marguerite Benham. The story starts with the trial of Frannie who is being called The Mulatta Murderess by the press. She is writing her story on advice of her lawyer who has given her some papers, pen and ink to occupy herself while she is imprisoned.

Her story begins with her childhood, while she is a slave at “Paradise”, a Jamaican plantation where she is an reluctant assistant to Langton, who conducts horrific experiments on the slaves. He then gives her away to Benham in the hope of gaining some favour after his wife and her brother turn him out of Paradise.

As her new journey begins, with new kind of chores, Frances finds herself in love with her Madam and from hereon nothing is as simple as it should be. And, suddenly Frannie finds herself implicated for the murders of her master and mistress.

I never would have done what they say I’ve done, to Madame, because I loved her. Yet they say I must be put to death for it, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?”

Frances Langton’s story starts with these lines and with this our author, Sara Collins has built a wonderful, moving and engrossing story of a slave who falls in love with her mistress. The fact that she doesn’t “believe” that she has killed them instead of saying that she “has not” killed them is in itself beginning of a most intriguing story.

Slavery, slave trade and macabre of all that used to happen in such estates as Paradise in the name of Science has been intricately woven with the life story of Frannie Langton. Sara Collins uses various shades of gothic novel in this period novel and she is not afraid to write about the grotesque.

Depression, drug addiction and homosexuality are also some of the taboo topics that this wonderful work talks about. The love and attraction between Frances and her Madame are not only central to the plot but is also a reflection upon the dreary nature of society of that time and even now.

In this fast moving novel, the journey we partake with Frannie through Paradise and then London to the gallows where she is being held during her trial, is a memorable one and kudos to the writer for writing such an awesome story. This is one intriguing work and I loved it a lot.

I will not declare the murderer or what the jury decide at the trial, and end with Frannie’s words –

“A man writes to separate himself from the common history. A woman writes to try to join it.”

My rating: 5/5

Categories
Daughter Women's Day

नारी

दस हाथ नहीं मेरे, फिर भी मैं दुर्गा हूं।

आँगन में बिखरती जो हँसी है, मैं वो बेटी हूं।
रक्षाबंधन में जो भर दे प्यार, मैं वो बहन हूं।
दिल का हर दर्द जो बांटे, मैं वो दोस्त हूं।
आंखों में जिसके कई सपने हैं, मैं वो दुलहन हूं।
रसोई में जिसके स्वाद का विश्वास है, मैं वो अन्नपूर्णा हूं।
दफ़्तर का काम जिसकी तपस्या है, मैं वो सहकर्मी हूं।
हर सुख–दुख में जो साथ दे, मैं वो पत्नी हूं।
आंचल में जिसके सुकून है, मैं वो मां हूं।
कहानियों में जिसके खुशियां हैं, मैं वो नानी हूं।
डांट में जिसके दुनिया का सुख है, मैं वो दादी हूं।

मैं वो नारी हूं जो इस धरती की नींव है।

Categories
Daughter

Say Cheese!

I believe that photos are very important part of our lives. They preserve our memories, our happiness and also our sadness. Some photos remind us of what we have left behind. Others show us how far we have come. They hold in themselves a lifetime of love, happiness, tears, joys, events and so much more. Those who know me, know that I love taking photos. Selfies and nature and people, all I need is a camera and light.

My first camera was a Kodak KB10. With a reel of 36, it gave me the chance to capture all the moments I wanted to. I have albums full of the photos I used to take. The precise way we had to take a picture because the reel was limited and the excitement of having the photos developed was an altogether different experience.

That was soon replaced by digital camera, specifically the camera in my mobile phone. With an unlimited opportunity to take photos, I took photos everyday, everywhere. These were the memories after all.

This habit of taking photos continued and when Little Miss was born, I just went click-click-click everyday, with her every smile, every movement, every new dress. If you chance upon looking at my phone gallery, you will find hundreds of photos of the time when she was little.

But as she is growing up, I am finding it so difficult to click her pictures. She is not exactly camera shy but to find her in the right mood is turning out to be more challenging than I expected. I try to coax her, bribe her, shower kisses, whistle to her, sing songs but it is proving to be one impossible task these days.

The moment she realises that the phone is poised to take photos, she either goes away, turns her face away or gets too close to the camera. When she was younger, all it took was the word “selfie” to get her to look into the camera and smile. And now, it takes whole lot of patience and few dozen prayers to the Gods to help me take one decent picture.

But then, we all know she is a special child with an enchanting smile and big beautiful eyes, so all the hard work results in some great photos that we cherish and it’s totally worth it 💕.

Categories
Daughter

Observation is All it Takes

Over the last few years, as entertainment has spread its roots through digital means, various platforms have multitude of programs for children. I know we are not supposed to expose our kids to mobile phones and stuff. Screen time is not good for them. But sometimes you just have to give in.

In our case it’s nursery rhymes and pre-school educational shows on YouTube whenever Little Miss wants. Quite recently, she has also started showing her interest in musical videos with children. When she enjoys a particular song, she laughs and always turns around to look at whoever is with her to share her liking.

Since Little Miss is not yet speaking and cannot operate the Tab yet, she is dependent on us, the grown ups to turn it on and play songs for her. One day she was playing with her toys when she suddenly went to our room and started crying. She would try to go to the corner where the tab was charging and make her Grandma understand something. When she would not understand, Little Miss would start crying again. It took her a few minutes to realise that her grand daughter was asking for her tab but when she did, Little Miss got her wish to watch some of her favourite songs. Then came the happy smile. Aah! It’s so wonderful, you could sit and watch her smile whole day.

When you have a child who doesn’t speak or points at what they want, you start picking on their gestures and behaviour. There is always a tell as to when they are getting hungry, thirsty or sleepy. Same way, we observe and we know what Little Miss wants or likes or dislikes. It’s exactly like when your child is small and won’t go to a certain uncle or aunt no matter how hard they try. It’s just a simple fact that your kid does not like that person. You just have to focus on the gestures.

So for now, we focus on her activities and one day I know Little Miss will start making demands and we will fulfill all the genuine ones happily.

And if you want to know my favourite, it’s “All the animals are playing in the band, they’re having so much fun..” 😊

Categories
Book Review Books

Book Review: The Conference of the Birds

A prophecy, a girl who needs to be saved from an unknown danger and lots of action, the fifth book in the Peculiar Children Series, The Conference of the Birds is another riveting book.

Starting from where we left off in A Map of Days, we follow Jacob as he rescues Noor and takes her to Devil’s Acre with him. Finding herself for the first time in a place full of peculiars, she is overwhelmed and overjoyed at the same time. She meets the wards of Miss Peregrine and they accept her as one of their own.

What follows is a brainstorming session to find and understand the meaning of the prophecy which makes Noor so important for survival of the peculiars and how to get her to safety. At the same time, Jacob is sucked into the dissent between the peculiar clans of America even as the Ymbrynes try to sort it all and bring peace in Peculiar America.

Ransom Riggs creates another masterpiece and does justice to every character of his book. Jacob and Noor may have been in the spotlight but he ensures that every one of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children get their share of storyline. Also, Ransom Riggs gives a lot of focus on importance of friends and family. Even though Jacob acted impulsively and left Devil’s Acre to find Noor alone, his friends followed him to help, giving him a lesson that family always stands for one another even when they are angry at them. They also accept Noor as one on their own without any questions because she is Jacob’s friend.

The story is full of action and where A Map of Days had seemed a little slow to me, The Conference of the Birds moves ahead full throttle. Jacob, the only hollow-hunter left to help the peculiars, is again set on the task of finding a hollow and wights after they escape from their prison in Devil’s Acre. The discovery of a new Loop of what I would call “Dead People Walking” is wonderful and eerie. There is also the budding romance between Jacob and Noor as they find themselves coming closer amidst all the chaos.

The ending paves way for another sequel and I’m sure with the return of the ever powerful and super evil villain, Caul, the next book too will be full of action and adventure.

My rating: 4.9/5

Categories
Daughter

Smile.. It’s Contagious and It Helps

Every morning I wake up with the hope that today will show some progress. Over the last three years or so, I have felt heartbreak and been clueless like very few can even imagine. But, I have also felt joy in little things to the extent of being overwhelmed.

The other day, a funny incident happened. Little Miss had recently started getting down from our bed to the floor without any help from us. This particular evening, she is playing on the bed and spots something on the floor that needs her immediate attention. So, she turns around and starts sliding down the bed.

Normally, what she does is after turning around on her belly, she holds on to the bedsheet and slides down till her feet touch the floor. Then she takes her hands off the bed, sits on the floor and crawls to her destination.

This time, she turns, starts sliding down on her belly but somehow she does not manage to get a grip on the bed and goes slipping down the bed on to the floor, landing on her bum. Generally, such a misstep brings about a crying episode from any child as this constitutes a classic “I fell from the bed”.

But she doesn’t cry. She just looks at the floor, looks at me and then starts laughing. She has found this sliding and slipping down the bed quite funny and I can’t help but start laughing with her. Her laughter is so joyous that I still find a smile creeping up my lips as I reminisce the moment.

Parenting Little Miss is full of such unadulterated happy moments. All we, as her family, do is enjoy life with her as she does. We have let go of all pre-conceived notions of parenting and childhood. And I have realised that once you let go of the yardstick set by the world, life becomes easier and happier.

Until next time, Little Miss and her Mom say Bye.

Categories
Daughter

Hello from Little Miss and Her Mom

Motherhood doesn’t come with a book. There are no answers at the back, no cheat codes, no shortcuts here. All you have is you, your baby and the moment. That one moment where you go through the worst imaginable pain and the best imaginable feeling. That moment when you change from a pregnant lady to a Mom is the best moment.

When I look back at the time Little Miss was born, a lot of memories are hazy but I do remember the pain and the joy when I looked at my new born daughter’s face. Ok, even that’s a little hazy but it’s mainly because I hadn’t thought of asking one of the nurses to carry my spectacles with her. That may have given me a clearer vision.

If you were to ask a mother how her child is doing and she will be full of awesome stories of the child’s latest antics. Ask a mother of a special child how her child is doing and the answer will depend on the kind of day the child and mother are having. If it’s a good day, her stories too will be full of laughter. But, if the day has not started well, there will be no story. Only a sentence or a non-committal shrug.

Joys of motherhood really is dependent upon how your kid is doing and this is something I’ve come to realise over the past few years as I watch my kid grow, or as I hope that she grows.

My kid is just one month shy of turning 4 and as you may have guessed by now, she is a special needs child. It is Autism Spectrum Disorder but complete picture may not be clear for some time. Questions like how and why have no answers here. It is as it is. Something random like the cards you are dealt with in a game.

After almost a year long deliberation, I have decided that I am going to take you down this path with me. I will share with you this journey that has happy and sad moments. The special days that we spend with our special child who just has to smile to make our day perfect and lives just a little better. When she looks at the picture of a lion or tiger and roars, the hardwork of roaring everyday is rewarded. We have our little joys, they may be few and far between but they are sweeter than anything. I will celebrate my little triumphs here and may share my frequent failures too.

Until next time, Little Miss and her Mom say Bye.

Categories
Book Review Books

Book Review: A Map of Days

The fourth part of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs does not disappoint. Having finished the first three parts back in early 2017, I came to know of this fourth instalment only last year. Since then, I have been meaning to read this but never actually managing to squeeze this in my never ending TBR pile. But this July, I finally managed to read the book and enjoyed it.

A Map of Days starts where Library of Souls left, the Peculiar Children appearing at Jacob’s door to save him from his parents who were about to commit him to asylum. The Peculiar Children are now ageing at a normal pace, just like normals and they wish to use this advantage to blend in with the others in today’s world.

What starts for Jacob with a commitment to help the children and the ymbrynes soon transforms into his desire to be a hollow – hunter like his grandfather. He now undertakes a mission to help another peculiar with some of his friends.

A Map of Days, like it’s previous three books is very interesting and full of unexpected twists. Ransom Riggs has continued the story in the same engrossing way and the pictures he uses add perfect surrealism to the story.

Transition between years as the children and Jacob move from one time zone to another is seamless and attention to details of a particular era is commendable. Emma & Jacob’s relationship is also worth mentioning. Though Jacob had loved his grandfather, Abe, ghost of dead grandfather as Emma’s lover is still haunting him & Emma as deep down Emma is still not over Abe.

Personally, I think the book could have moved at a faster pace. The attention to details is important here specially when you are “loop” travelling but it also slowed down the plot a little. A little more action would certainly have given the readers some more fun. But, other than that, I can find no fault in A Map of Days. It is a must read series for all.

Two of my favourite quotes from the book:

“All my life, normal people had mostly baffled me-the ridiculous ways they strove to impress one another, the mediocre goals that seemed to drive them, the banality of their dreams. The way people rejected anything that didn’t fit their narrow paradigm of acceptability, as if those who thought or acted or dressed or dreamed differently from them were a threat to their very existence.”

“it’s a lot of cheese.” “It’s the pinnacle of human achievement,” he declared seriously. “I thought Britain was an empire. But this—this—is world domination!”

My rating: 4.8/5