Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Turtles all the way down- John Green

Looking for Alaska, the last one by John Green had left me so impressed that I waited eagerly for his next one to be out, a plethora of questions running through my mind;  for instance- what would he write about next, will it be as good as  Looking for Alaska, how would the story go etc. But, I can now say the wait was worth it.

I have to give it to the author for thinking so differently when it comes to the story. There’s always a tinge of gloominess in it and yet it makes you like it, because it is meaningful and potent. Saying so, yet again his story and content was dynamically strong just like his characters. Set under the cultural references of Star Wars and The Tempest with sprinkle of fan fiction all over, it is a story of a sixteen year old, anxious girl who is consumed by her thoughts, it’s like they never leave her. Aza who has an obsession of microbes always finds herself trapped in a whirlpool or a tightening spiral because of her contemplation, it’s like they are two people- Aza and her intrusive thoughts. She meets an old friend Davis Pickett, whose father has disappeared the night before the raid, as there was a search warrant against him. Aza and her best friend Daisy set out on a quest to find the billionaire missing man to earn the reward which has been announced on his name. The billionaire’s investigation takes a side step when Aza falls for Davis. She feels heavily for Davis’ younger brother Noah who desperately wants his father to come back and is having problems dealing with his disappearance. Fighting her tumultuous friendship situations with Daisy and her own strenuous and obsessive thoughts she decodes the mystery of the missing billionaire. And how? Well, that’s the mystery solved in the book and how brilliantly! The story has a convincing end which shows Aza winning her best friend back, solving the mystery of the fugitive billionaire and learning to take control of her tightening spiral.

I love the characters John Green builds; you come to know more about them once the story starts peeling them. To think of a character like Aza would have required so much brainstorming. She will not come across as a likeable character rather you might feel indifferent of her, but once you move in the plot her persona grips you and you really feel for her. Her best friend Daisy is quite the opposite of what Aza is, bubbly and cheerful. The other characters aptly described are that of Davis and Noah. The brotherly status between them shows for itself that they have always been devoid of fatherly love. The bond that Aza and Davis share has been described very beautifully. Quoting intermittently from The Tempest in their conversations makes it impressive- amazing write up there!

Every book always has a part where the reference to the name is explained. In this one, the explanation, the reference and the way it has been described left me spell-bound. It relates beautifully to the protagonist Aza, justifying her dark and complex life.

I am all sorts of impressed with the book, be it the writing which is impressive, captivating and creative; the characters which will not let you forget them after you have finished the book; the story which is a brilliant compilation of mystery, emotions and thrill.

A recommended read from my side. Thumbs up!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Secret to Hummingbird cake- Celeste Fletcher McHale

Two things caught me into reading this book, first was the book cover- A pretty cake sitting on its throne; the second was the name of the book- very inquisitive; such that you'd want to know the 'secret' immediately. Although I read this book over kindle, I plan to buy a hardcover of the same for keepsake and to enhance the beauty of my bookshelf. Books with such pretty covers are keepers.

I really liked this book for a couple of reasons; reasons which I will elaborate shortly. But, I have to admit that at times simplicity feels underrated. This one is such a simple book with a simple story of three friends. The story is not unique, you will feel you have read books on similar lines before; yet this one steals your heart.

The protagonists are three females; thick friends, such that they know when the other one has skipped a heart beat, but strikingly varied personas. Sometimes it so happens that you just need a moment to connect with someone and what lasts is a strong bond of friendship for decades to come- this kind of friendship has been showcased in here; the one all hope for and some find. The book starts with an ongoing introduction to the three characters- Carrigan, Ella Rae and Laine. While Carrigan and Ella Rae are the one's with the wild streak, Laine is the softer, wise and subtle among them all. She is often found advising Carrigan on her marital issues which apparently she is dwelling in since sometime,  while Ella Rae has nothing much to say to her except - whatever makes you happy; such vivid are their responses and hence their personalities! The book starts off a little slow and feels dragged initially and you wonder when the hummingbird cake is going to make an entry, the excitement perks up when there is just one line about the hummingbird cake in the early pages and then you have to wait a long time to read about it again.

The story is quite plain, Carrigan, Laine and Ella Rae are dealing with a situation they best can. It speaks about the void that is created after your loved one's are gone, it shows how with a little love and more understanding relationships can be sustained. I can't give the slightest hint of what the plot is because that might give away from the excitement of reading the book, and also because it might mislead the readers to predict the story. So, let me jump over to the writing of the book. Like I said before, it starts off slow, paving up the story and characters but it is just to build up what is coming ahead and make it more relatable. The words are so well put, that when Carrigan pours her heart out you will feel her hurt, when she is angry you will feel her anger and when she is emotional, it is going to choke you. And, why I talk about Carrigan more is because the narration is her perspective. The humor sure is going to make you chuckle once a while. This book is a masterpiece combination of emotions, humor, love, life and friendship put together with dexterity. I got near to tears at more than one places, and often thinking during reading this book- who my Laine and Ella Rae are? I haven't got the answer yet. This one here, just shows how perfect a simply put story with a sprinkle of emotions and skillful writing can turn out to be. I am not usually a chick-lit book picker, but this one surely adds up into my list of the one's I have liked. 

I don't know if I have done a fair job writing this review, because while reading the book there was a storm of emotions running inside me, from time to time I disliked Carrigan's behavior or was not able to understand Laine, though I loved how they understood each other flawlessly, at times I felt the book was being dragged and some parts were unnecessary. But, when I reached towards the end I realized may be all that 'formed' the book and it wouldn't have looked so good without all the build-up. 

And the secret to hummingbird cake? well, lets just say if you 'love' reading the book you might find the secret yourself.

A must, must read!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Indestructibles - The perfect book for the babies

They gnaw, they chew and they always want to put it in their mouth, they are book eaters more than they are book readers. And certainly, as a parent you are concerned about the stuff they put in their mouth and worrying if they might have swallowed something harmful when you were not looking. And as a person who loves books you might be worried about the books being spoilt.

Indestructibles - the solution to all the aforementioned worries and problems. 
Indestructibles is a series of books or rather can be called as a brand of books which is made from a paper like material which is wear and tear proof, and is non-toxic for the babies if they happen to put it in their mouth. It is washable so, Bye bye stains!

All these qualities make it an easy maintenance choice for your little one without comprising on your wish to give them books. They will chew, and they will try to tear it but least be assured when they are done with all of this, they might look at the pictures on the book at least once. That one glance of few seconds is going to make this a worthy buy. Not to forget, Indestructibles provide a variety of books to choose from with a little something for the babies to learn, and parents to teach.

I bought Arjun the one which has Baby Faces and expressions. He enjoys looking at my face with rapt attention when I re-create them for him. Every book will bring with itself a little memory for you to hold on to, with this one - Arjun held the book like it should be held, for the first time. It was a delight to see him.

Go, hurry! Order one for your little one now before there’s a ripping sound of a page being torn or a piece of paper being relished in the mouth.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Franny and Zooey - J. D. Salinger

It so happens a lot of times that we buy a book solely because we might have read one of the author’s best works. I ended up buying Franny and Zooey because of the same reason. I had loved J.D.Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, in fact it still remains one of my most revisited books; but my views regarding the former are quite mixed.

It is said that you come to know how the book is turning out to be after you have read the first 100 pages. Well, to be frank, this time I was blank when I completed 100 pages of the book. So, the first impression of the book was rather puzzling. The book has been created in two parts, a short story - Franny and the novella - Zooey.

In the short story, Franny, who is troubled by the selfishness and the non-realism of the people around her meets her boyfriend for a weekend, only to pounce on him at every single thing he has to talk about. Sensing her situation as unstable, and her mannerisms uncontrollable, she tries to calm herself down by chanting a Jesus prayer, a new theology she has come to believe in.

The book apparently is about the two youngest members of a certain Glass family. How, they say that they both are freaks, and why so; where Zooey is a budding actor while Franny is going through a spiritual situation putting her whole family to worry about her as she goes starving, not-sleeping, and basically reckless about everything around her; people included. Zooey finally steps in to talk to her buddy sister about her state, after being continuously coaxed by their mother. In the heat of the discussions he says a lot too much. So, this is where the conversation part gets a little interesting. However, I found myself shifting from the hooked-zone of reading frequently, may be because intermittently it felt like blabbering.

As far as the protagonists are concerned, their characters can be described as freakish, just like they call themselves. Zooey is a talker, and eventually succeeds in convincing Franny with his sage advice. There is a mother to these children, Bessie who appears on and off with her worries for her daughter and chicken broth.

Various spiritual phenomenons have been dealt with in the book, and they are mentioned as a result of Franny's state of affairs over reciting a Jesus prayer which she learns about from a pilgrim book that she is reading. Zen Buddhism, Hindu spirituality and Jesus prayers are talked about to name a few. The last few pages make the book worth it where Zooey is talking to Franny about the faith facade. And it really impressed me what he says about pious conviction, keep spiritual faith if you have to, but do not let it leave you, your duties and responsibilities towards life. It is meaningless if you have to starve and put yourself in a miserable situation because of that.

The writing is a typical J.D. Salinger style, raw and factual. His writing style forms one of the perpetual points of selling his book to the readers. His characters are always unique. And he presents them in a very distinct manner. I might not out rightly suggest this one to read, it's not a book to fall in love in the first reading. But yes, for the likability of the author, one can surely pick this one up. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

It is never too late to start again:

Since a month I have been thinking about how I would start this post, the one after a long break. I could swear on the Game of Thrones series of books (which I am yet to read but am officially a fan) of how much I have missed writing the reviews, blog posts and reading more books.

Being a new mum is overwhelming and exhausting at the same time; more so if the child is active enough to be crawling to all the corners of the house and keeps you on your toes. So yes, it has been an incredible journey so far and I am sure there's a lot left to explore as a mother.
I have always looked back at my childhood to the time when reading was our hobby, me and my sister's. Our summer vacations would be about reading story books, our Christmas holidays about getting them as gifts and always waiting for the time when we would buy some new ones to add to our collection. A lot of credit goes to my mum who always encouraged us to read. The memories are still afresh. I want to be able to build the same kind of memories for my son. Growing up he may pursue his interests whatever they are, as a parent I will always encourage his interests, but a part of me innocently wishes that he develop a liking towards reading, to explore the magical world which exists in between the pages where creativity and imaginations knows no bounds, and where knowledge exists in abundance. Growing up, I want him to love his books and his soccer ball equally. Many people feel and question that such small babies don't even understand what's in the book that you read to them. I agree they won't, at this age. But, telling them stories, showing them colors, patterns and pictures and making them feel the book are not just excuses to feed them or put them to sleep but also bond with them. Doctors these days suggest the same as it helps with the development of the brain at some level. And as I always say, Its better to start them early.

I bought Arjun, my boy, his first book when he was 2 month old. And have started to build his stack since then. It's a small one for now. I make it a point to buy one for him when I buy one for myself. I am going to share my experiences and stories of baby books and Arjun on the blog also.

So, now that I am willing to be back, I am going to make an attempt to kick off Flip-a-leaf again. The posts will be vivid- reviews, stories and bookish posts. Currently, I am a slow reader, and unable read as much as I would love to. So, I try to grab the opportunity to read when time permits but I am sure there will be something for the flip-a-leaf readers and followers to browse on the blog. 

For short book reviews and bookish posts, follow Flip-a-leaf on instagram: nups5_flipaleaf

Goa- A new revelation. All credits to this dainty place- Literati Bookshop Café   The ceiling-high bookshelves I was in Goa last m...