Tag Archives: family

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

It has been forever since I read a young adult novel. I thought I’d outgrown them but when I went back home and sat at that most loved spot by the window, I remembered countless such summer days through my teenage, completely absorbed in ‘Harry Potter’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and ‘The Hunger Games’. ‘Fangirl’ was the only young adult novel on my reading list and I decided to give it a try.

TLDR- I wasn’t disappointed.

The book traces Cath’s freshman year in college. Her twin, Wren, decides she wants to interact with more people and hence lives a life of her own, completely alienating Cath. Thus deserted by her ‘built-in best friend’ and with a supremely weird and unapproachable roommate (who comes with a boyfriend who forever hangs out in her room), Cath navigates the intricacies of college life. Cath’s obsession with Simon Snow, a fictional boy-wizard and her success as a fan fiction writer bear no weight in her new universe.

The premise is new. While certain sub-plots ended a bit unresolved for me, the overall experience was quite a refreshing change from the challenging books I had been setting out to read for long. Much attention is paid to character depth and this is one of the high points of the book. Rowell traverses through a range of relationships, the twins’, their relations with their dad and estranged mother, and with the variety of people Cath meets. But none of this is what the book is about.

‘Fangirl’ is a celebration of fandom and nerd power. It is a huge shout out to all the people whose souls belong in an alternate world. In more ways than one, Rowell propagates the idea of fan culture and deems fandom an important, even necessary part of life. With such an unequivocal stand, her love for fan culture permeates through the entire book and leaves you wanting more.

The structure of the book is interesting, with the narrative interspersed with extracts from the Simon Snow series and Cath’s own fan fic writings. Basically two stories for the price of one.

9/10 would recommend. A breezy narrative with no major jolts that takes you through the pain and joys of starting new and growing up.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Having come across many references to this book of late, I was more than faintly intrigued when I spotted this one at the very back of my uncle’s bookshelf. He told me to go for it with low expectations, but how could I? The work of a Pulitzer Prize winning author, I had huge expectations from this one.

It certainly didn’t disappoint. The book is a peek into the life of an Indian-American family. The new bride, Ashima Ganguli, lands in America, far removed from her bustling hometown in Calcutta and initially, she finds it hard to adjust to life in a foreign land with a culture so starkly different from hers. With the birth of her two children, Gogol and Sonia, she gradually eases into the role of an Indian-American mother. The children, meanwhile, identify more with America than India.

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The book traces the family’s life, the people they meet, how they cope with their dual identities and the constant struggle the parents face in deciding how best to bring up their children.

It is an eye-opener of a book, to put it mildly. For living out your life in a foreign land, without the reassuring presence of the people close to you, is never an easy choice to make. And those who do, are constantly assailed by thoughts of those they have left behind, all they have given up in their dream for a better life.

A warm and engaging piece of work, Jhumpa Lahiri draws you into her setting with ease. It’s, above all, a comforting novel that will make you deliberate on the important things in life. A sense of completeness is apparent, since the author manages to convey the myriad emotions that exist in a family such as the Gangulis.

While the beginning few pages are needlessly drawn out, that remains the only blemish in an otherwise very satisfactory read! A film adaptation of the novel, directed by Mira Nair, starring Sean Penn and Irrfan Khan was also released.

’24 Hours’ by Greg Iles

One of the better books I’ve re-read in a while-’24 Hours’ is a satisfying piece of thriller.

I recently watched the movie ‘Butterfly on a Wheel‘ starring Pierce Brosnan and Gerard Butler and was immediately reminded of a similar storyline I’d read before. After a bit of digging into my book-shelf, I managed to locate this book and was convinced the movie is based on the book. However, a few seconds of google-search proved I was wrong- the movie has nothing to do with the book.

Anyway, since I now had the book in my hand, I thought I’d give it a read. A sleek, neat thriller it turned out to be. Will Jennings and Karen are living the dream life. The couple dotes on their daughter, Abby, who is a juvenile diabetic. When Will leaves home for a weekend to attend a medical convention, little do the pair realize that their lives are soon to be turned upside down. Abby is kidnapped for ransom and the kidnapper tells Will that he has carried out kidnappings periodically and that it’s only the money he is interested in. However, Will and Karen instinctively know the stakes are different this time-the life of their daughter hinges on their ability to outsmart a professional criminal, who seems invincible. In 24 hours. Does Abby survive? Does the family reunite?

Well-written with enough intrigue and suspense, the book qualifies as a good thriller. Thriller buffs will surely find this one to their liking! A book that reiterates the fact that familial love trumps every other hardship, ’24 Hours’ is well worth your time.

P.S. A few more seconds of google-search leads to this information-The 2002 movie ‘Trapped‘ is based on ’24 Hours’. Oh well.

You can buy the book here-

http://www.amazon.com/24-Hours-Greg-Iles/dp/0451203593

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/24-hours-greg-iles/1100310127

 

‘Winter Solstice’ by Rosamunde Pilcher

‘Winter Solstice’ by Rosamunde Pilcher is one of those books you can curl up in sofa with, a strong cup of tea by your side. It makes no pretenses about it, it’s a true-to-form Christmassy story of love, hope and living.

Five lives intertwine one Christmas in the most remarkable of ways-a grieving widower, Oscar Blundell, finds solace in his friend, a sixty something Elfrida Phipps, with the heart of a sixteen year old girl. Carrie and her niece, Lucy, meanwhile, are thinking about giving Christmas celebrations a miss this year and so is Sam, recently separated from his wife. All five of them find refuge in the most unlikeliest of places-Estate House in Scotland, of which Oscar owns half.

The book demands nothing more from the reader than following the storyline. There are no bad guys here, just the commonplace problems of common people. It’s a book designed to leave you comforted and satisfied at the end. However, that doesn’t make it any less interesting. It’s a charming book, replete with Pilcher’s trademark humour and touch. Beautiful descriptions, well-sketched out characters and great pensmanship make this one a delight to read.

A book to spread the Christmas cheer around!

Diving Through Clouds by Nicola Lindsay

This is a novel with a heart. A big, open heart.

Imagine if you were dead but still there. Or here, whichever makes sense. Kate Fitzgerald is deceased but she doesn’t cease to exist. She is in a sort of limbo state, able to see people and hear their innermost thoughts. Cool, right? Not so much so when you end up finding out that your husband has been having an affair for ten years behind your back and that your daughter, who stormed out of your life eight years back, now has a son.

So what does Kate do? She learns to forgive. She learns to understand. Together with her grandson Matt (who is incredibly the only person who can perceive her),she brings her family together. Something she wouldn’t have thought possible had she been alive.

This is a great novel, filled with humor and emotion. It’s a perspective you’ll have rarely seen before and kudos to Lindsay for a brilliant portrayal of a dead protagonist. Let me just say it’s a heart-warming story with a supernatural undercurrent running through. If you’re thinking ghost stories don’t get you excited, let me assure you this is nothing like one. I’d probably never have read this one either if it hadn’t been one of the stories in my Reader’s Digest Select Edition copy, but now I’m immensely glad I did.

A good read for a relaxing afternoon!

http://www.amazon.com/Diving-Through-Clouds-Nicola-Lindsay/dp/B000H2NB9S

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/diving-through-clouds-nicola-lindsay/1006837773?ean=9781466836006

Happy Reading! 🙂

Here I Am

This was it. Every choice, every sacrifice, every decision she had taken in her life finally came down to this. She felt excitement, she felt a tingling in her nerves she had never experienced before. It was midnight.  She was ready.

She knew she ought to be resting before the big day. But she simply couldn’t. She didn’t want to miss any moment of the final few hours before her life changed. She walked slowly in her yard, recollecting and remembering. She would be leaving behind a lot of things, a lot of memories, a lot of people. She had lived in the same neighbourhood since she had been a kid. Everything about her home was familiar. She had always felt secure, loved and protected. Nothing could touch her here. She had hated it.

She wanted to experience, live life on the edge, do something that would make people notice her. She resented the fact that she was a plain Jane. She didn’t want to be just another person, lost in the crowd. She wanted to stand out. She just didn’t know how.

She smiled, thinking of the numerous nights she had spent in her room as a fifteen year old, desperate to be noticed. Her grades were good, never excellent. She had good friends, a few enemies and supportive parents. It hadn’t been enough.

11.09.2001

She would never forget the day. Huddling with her parents on the couch as they watched the Twin Towers fall. But unlike her parents, she wasn’t trembling or scared. She was concentrating on the people she saw. She saw the injured, she saw the dead. They couldn’t hold her attention for long. The firefighters, the FBI, the NYPD-they did. She saw the ones in charge. And that did it for her.

Here she was, seven years later, a new recruit at the CIA’s Counter Terrorism division. She had come a long way. She mattered.

Dawn broke. The first rays of the sunlight hit her. She shielded her eyes, then let her hand drop and stared into the light. She carried pride in her heart and belief in her self. She had made it happen. It had all come together and she was ready.

Notes:

When the impulse suddenly overtook me, I simply had to write this. The protagonist is somewhat inspired by a friend-she’s someone who’s always on the lookout for a chance, a challenge, anything to prove she’s up for it. And suffice to say that it has changed my own outlook on a lot of things.

Feedback would most certainly be appreciated. Cheers!

 

A Place To Hide

I read this book about a year back in a RD Condensed Edition and it proved to be an extremely engaging read.

‘A Place to Hide’ is a 1987 novel by Evelyn Anthony (the pseudonym of Evelyn Ward-Thomas). It chronicles an uncertain period in the history of Ireland, when the IRA (Irish Republican Army) denounced the British rule of Ireland. Frank Arthunbot, born to an Anglo father and a native Irish mother, has long been trying to find out where his true allegiance lies.

Disowned by his step-mother and father for acting as a paymaster for the IRA, his only comfort in life is his half-sister Claire, whom he loves deeply and the best.
Frank is kidnapped in Ireland when he refuses to condone the atrocities being committed against the civilians by the IRA.

This deeply emotional story follows Claire as she goes in search of her missing brother to Ireland, with scant regard to her own life.

The character detailing stands out. The story might seem to lose a bit of pace at times but all things considered, it’s a decent read.
Evelyn Anthony weaves a suspenseful story of deceit, long-held prejudices, a country at conflict with itself and above all, the triumph of sibling love.

Well worth a read, if only to know more about the IRA and the events that went down during the time.

Here are a few links to buy the book, in case you’re interested enough to give it a read-

https://openlibrary.org/books/OL2725001M/A_place_to_hide

http://www.amazon.com/A-Place-Hide-Evelyn-Anthony/dp/0399132074#customerReviews

Happy Reading!