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Showing posts from March, 2018

Book Review: From Quetta to Delhi by Reena Nanda

As said that the book is a partition story. Well, in reality, this non-fiction book is about family history of a Punjabi family that had to move again and again from one place to another for all reasons that they could not control. The story has been narrated from a woman’s point of view, Shakunt. The story is back staged against two to three different landscape of once belonged to one nation/region. In prominence, the story is about loss and memories. Through the narration, Shakunt relives the days of her life she spent as a once settled family and then as migrants.


The book is full of Punjabi jargons, poems, and rises to imminent heights when it comes to delivering the real Punjabi culture of that era and region. It has been referred as Punjabiyat, much antithesis to what we see today in the Bollywood movies like Singh is King, etc.
Quetta was a city in Baluchistan region when there was no India and Pakistan partition. Basically, it was a Punjabi dominated region, however other peo…

Book Review: Untouchable by Ruskin Bond

Untouchable by Ruskin Bond is a short story throwing light on the social division based on the caste system in India. Ruskin is alone in his house because his father has fallen sick due to malaria and got admitted in the hospital. The kids in the neighborhood don’t like him and vice versa. Thus, he doesn’t play with them or they with him. He remains alone and aloof. To help him in the house work, there is a sweeper boy who routinely sprinkles water on the window and doormats to keep the house air cool. Ruskin describes the sweeper boy of his age, around ten. He remains in khaki knickers, upper body bare and brunt with the sun, and naked feet. He is extremely black but his teeth are white.

His main job is to fetch water from the water tank and sprinkle water around the homes during summer. Also, performs other homely chores. Every time he sees Ruskin, the boy shows his full white teeth. Ruskin feeling odd and irritated always shouts at him and says, ‘Get out’. Since Ruskin is a son of…

Book Review: Four Boys on a Glacier by Ruskin Bond

Four Boys on a Glacier is a very short story written by Ruskin Bond. This story seems to be stem from Rusty’s adventure series, as the narrator is Rusty. He along with two more friends, Somi and Anil, pack up their bags and rush to Kapkote. From here onwards, their trip to the glacier somewhere in the Himalaya will start. They walk along the river, through the forest, rest in the village. From a tiny village a boy call Bisnu joins them – though he is younger to them but confident of carrying their bags. He is powerfully built.

They rest in the forest guesthouses not visited by anyone for the years. The guards of the guesthouses often are from Nepal. From one of the guards they hear the tale of Yeti and Lindini…snowman and snowwoman respectively. The boys discard the fable much annoyance to the guard. When they reach the glacier, they become the first persons to achieve that from their town – possibly they came from Dehradun. During their return trip, they drop Bisnu in his village an…

Book Review: The Big Race by Ruskin Bond

Unlike today when there were less modes of entertainment, children of that era took immense pride in playing with the non-harmful insects like butterfly, grasshopper, and beetles. The Big Race is one such short story by Ruskin Bond where some children put their beetles for a race.

The narrator has a bamboo beetle called Maharani, caged in a cupboard box stuck to an apple. Anil’s black rhino beetle is called as Black Prince, and Kamal’s beetle is ordinary but it has a long pair of whiskers (people suspect it as a cockroach but it isn’t that). These three beetles are the prominent racers of this story.
The racecourse was about six feet long made of cardboard and lanes are separated by the walls to avoid intermingling. When the race commences, Anil and Kamal’s beetles lead the race while the narrator’s beetle is slow because from it the apple has been snatched away. However, things turn out something else by the time race could end. The winner is Maharani. The winner gets prizes in the …

Book Review: I Too Had a Love Story by Ravinder Singh

Some books are too simple but yet become bestsellers. They aren’t full of surprises or climaxes, but full of honesty. It has been noted that in India trendsetter books easily become bestsellers. For example, IIT Five Points by Chetan Bhagat – the book talked about IIT and it became a bestseller. Here, today we have Ravinder Singh’s book, I Too Had a Love Story. This book was an instant success and even today tops the chart when it comes to best sellers. Why and how. Simple, the book was based on a simple love story that most of us, at least from India, can relate comfortably, secondly the book introduces love through a matrimonial site (possibly through shaadi.com). This was something new to the Indian readers, way back in 2008.

Also, its tragic end made it little heavy for romance readers. Though the book is a work of fiction, but the author asserts that most of the events spiraled in this book comes from his own love story. No matter what, people enjoyed reading it, especially youn…

Author Highlight: Sharon Gupta Discusses her Book ‘The Shakespeare Murders’ and Stories from her Life

It’s time for another author interview. Today, with us, we have Sharon Gupta, who currently lives in Chandigarh, India. Sharon is a Civil Servant in the Ministry of Communications. She’s from Delhi, but she has lived all over the country. She has a multicultural background and she’s travelled extensively abroad and in India. Besides writing, Sharon loves music and plays the guitar. She speaks English, Hindi and French. She believes in living life to the lees!
What is the genre of your book? (For example, fiction, poetry, fantasy, romance…) The Shakespeare Murders, is a fictional thriller set in the Elizabethan age. Please visit The Shakespeare Murders Facebook page for interesting trivia, character studies and videos about the book. The link is https://goo.gl/rYgjhA  Please describe what the book is about in short. William Shakespeare worked for a company of players (as actors were called in those times) called The Chamberlain’s Men. They performed his plays at The Globe Theatre in S…

Book Review: Animals on the Track by Ruskin Bond

‘Animals on the Track’ is a short story by Ruskin Bond. Ruskin and his grandparents are moving to a new home in Lucknow. With them are some animals, grandfather books tickets in the first class compartment so that animals can also be transported without causing disturbance to other passengers, as in the first class crowd is comparatively less. With them they take a teenage tiger called Timothy, a parrot who speaks a lot, and Ruskin picks up a squirrel in his pocket.

They are going to Lucknow on a train. Animals are quite and behaving well except the squirrel that is running pell-mell to get roasted ground nuts from passengers. The squirrel often comes to Ruskin and hands him some roasted nuts. Soon, when the grandmother retires on the upper berth, Ruskin opens the bag placed under the berth for food. Upon opening it, he finds that a curled up python is resting inside it. The snake has eaten up all the sandwiches and other food items except the apples. Python was not included into the…

Book Review: The Funeral by Ruskin Bond

The Funeral by Ruskin Bond is a short story about a small boy’s father’s funeral. The boy is sitting in a dark corner and his face expressions are not visible to the mourners whether he is crying or silent. Two of his Aunts have refused him to attend the funeral. His mother left him years ago. Today, he has become an orphan – his father was his great friend with whom he used to share stories and go for long walks. The coffin is lying in another room. He is so silent that he is finding it hard to accept that his best buddy in the world has departed and soon he will be buried deep down in the earth. Soon, he will be put away in an orphanage and the cook and other servants of his home will be rendered jobless.

Soon, the coffin is taken away to the cemetery and mourners begin walking behind it. Some are going in cars. He walks at a distance. He hides behind a wall and sees the process – all he can hear the voice of padre Lal. The coffin is placed quite deep in the earth. He wonders how h…

Book Review: Getting Granny’s Glasses by Ruskin Bond

Getting Granny’s Glasses is a short story by Ruskin Bond based on the tender relationship between maternal grandmother and her grandson Mani, an eleven-year old boy. His mother passed when he was one year old. Since then, Mani and his father are both under the care of grandma. She is seventy but performs all the chores of home as she is a young energetic girl. She has blurred vision but is able to make out roads to the home and other objects of need in the kitchen and elsewhere.

Though she dons a pair of glasses but they are well over ten years. The pair is dull because of spots and scratches. Mani and his father have been forcing her to replace the glasses but she is hesitant to do that. If she goes with his father then Mani will be left behind and with the second proposition she thinks that Mani is too young to accompany her till the eye hospital in Mussoorie.
Major difficulty is how to travel till Mussoorie, which is the only nearest place from their village for an eye hospital. F…

Book Review: A Tiger in the House by Ruskin Bond

‘A Tiger in the House’ is a short story written by Ruskin Bond. Ruskin’s grandfather once went with the party of tiger hunters in the Tarai jungles of North India. The party was from Delhi, they were naïve and grandfather was a seasoned player of the wild – he was not a hunter but knew how to tame and behave with the wild animals like tiger and lion. The trip was luxurious but they returned empty handed. None of the hunters succeed in hunting down any tiger or lion. Well, grandfather found a cub and brought it home. The cub was named Timothy. He started living with the family, as a cub he was not harmful to anyone. Initially, he drank milk but as he began growing, he was given meat as a food.

With time as the tiger grew young, his behavior towards humans began changing. Soon, grandfather transported the tiger to the zoo of Lucknow. After some months, when grandfather happened to be in Lucknow, he visited the zoo and went straight forward to the cage where Timothy was interned. Grandf…

Book Review: The Playing Fields of Shimla by Ruskin Bond

Probably, the short story ‘The Playing Fields of Shimla’ is based on some part of Ruskin’s life. In the story, it is given that the narrator, a boy of around ten, (Ruskin himself) becomes dull and melancholy in life after losing his father two years ago, and his mother is married to someone else. So, in a sense, he is like a complete orphan with no moral support.

But in some way, he is happy being in a boarding school in Shimla. In the school, he made no friends and spending time roaming here and there – passing time with nature. Other boys of the boarding school are rowdy who believe in torturing teachers by different ways. Clearly, no match for a silent chap like Ruskin.
Then, he begins noticing a silent boy like him, his name is Omar. He too does not mingle with others. Ruskin senses that he may be a fatherless chap like him. They find a bonding being developing between both of them. But the rules of the boarding school aren’t lax enough to allow them for mingling. They both belon…

Book Review: The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sudaresan

First in the Taj Mahal Trilogy, this novel explores the love affair of the Mughal Emperor Salim and his twentieth wife Mehrunnisa who was a refugee from Persia. The book is about how she eventually became his wife despite coming from a very poor family. The book is a great read for those who love Phillipa Gregory’s books. The author has done wonderful justice to that era by providing lucid descriptions of that Mughal era.

The description of palaces, cities, towns, clothes, food, rituals and festivals is overwhelming. Reading descriptions carefully, the India of that era comes alive vividly before your eyes. You can feel the soft murmur of silk curtains, the clunking of wine goblets, the heavy scent of jasmine flowers and sandalwood and incense in the palace rooms, the rough Gulal of Holi, the soft giggles of the harem ladies as they lounge in the courtyards of the palace, the heat of the plains and the cool of the heavy monsoons, the jingle of gold, ruby and emerald jewelry, the dazz…

Book Review: Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims

Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims is a hilarious novel that makes light of drinking habit. The novel revolves around a woman Ellen, who at thirty nine realizes the mess going in her life and thus contemplates to be more organized and fashionable. She has a family to take care of that consists of two children, son Peter and daughter Jane. Simon, her husband, is a tech obsessed guy.

Managing everything in the household with an equal élan is something that is missing from her life. When things go over her limit, like her kids fighting brimming with sibling rivalry and ruining their family plans for occasions like Christmas or vacation, then she takes up drinking like a gambler to sooth her mind. And then kids ask why Mummy drinks?
The story is more about family dramas and events over a history. Written in simple and funny tone, the tale is very much relatable to every mediocre middle-class family. Ellen is a different woman and mother as compared to some of her peers. For this reason, she a…

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn is a psychological suspense thriller – well the question is, would you wait for too long to see the climax get in. On a plus side, the language is good but fails to grip the interest of the readers.


The book is too draggish. At times you liked the book – its cover, synopsis and first few pages but midway you realize that the story could have been much shorter – the description of a movie on TV is unnecessary to the narration. Though the language and narrative style of the book are outstanding but the length of the story may bore you to the tears.
The story does not seem like moving from that flat where the protagonist stands on the window of her home for days and days. This foolish act makes the readers lose sympathy with the protagonist. Soon, some family comes to live beside her home. From there on, thankfully, the story sees some events and sets forth. This is a well-written book but not something that you can enjoy thoroughly. You must be wond…

Book Review: A Long Walk with Granny by Ruskin Bond

A Long Walk with Granny is a short story written by Ruskin Bond, like most of his other stories; this too explores the lives of hill people. This story, in particular, highlights the basic struggle of the people that is enrooted in the foothills of the Himalaya.

As the story goes, Mani is an eleven-year-old boy raised by his maternal grandmother, who cannot see things exactly. She is apparently blind and her spectacles are spotted and full of scratches, they are over ten years old. Quite a long time for a single pair of spectacles! It’s pity that she cannot see the boy whom she loved most and raised by herself. The boy’s mother died when he was just a year old.
Mani’s father insists that a new pair of spectacles be arranged for granny. But she refuses as she cannot think of going away leaving Mani alone. Thus, Mani decides to go with her. The nearest eye hospital is in Mussoorie from their village – almost two days journey. First, they need to walk till Nain, there they will stay at …

Book Review: The Room of Many Colors by Ruskin Bond

The Room of Many Colors by Ruskin Bond is a lengthy story, well stretching over thirty pages. This story has no fixed plot – it is rather divided into many subplots and thus handles various circumstances of human lives, like from a child’s pesky questions to a princess’s superstition for snakes to a gardener falling in love with a princess and the days of Second World War. The narrator is Ruskin Bond himself, aged seven. He lives in an old-getting palace with his father. His mother has left him but why – that’s unknown to him. However, he is happy with his father who answers all his clumsy questions.

In the palace, his father is tutor to some elite-class students, they come from royal families. Ruskin wanders here and there catching insects and roams in the palace garden and everywhere. Whenever there is a ceremony or an occasion or a birthday, the palace gardener will prepare beautiful nosegays for the occasion. His name is Dukhi (means sad). There is a Christian Ayah that takes car…

Book Review: Will You Still Love Me? by Ravinder Singh

Will You Still Love Me? by Ravinder Singh is a light romance short novel. The author shot into fame with his debut tragic love story called ‘I Too Had a Love Story’. Since then he had been writing light but slightly tragic love stories. This book is about love at first sight in the flight. The story is between Rajveer from Patiala and Lavanya Gogoi from Meghalaya. They meet in the flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh. The girl asks for the window seat and from there on the conversation begins….and for Rajveer it is love kind of thing.

The scenes presented in this book are commonplace, more of them like we often see in the Bollywood movies. The book is good with some aspects like road safety – due to a road accident the story takes an unprecedented turn – but overall it was necessary otherwise tragic element would haven’t added in it. Also, the girl is from North East and the boy from Punjab, North India. The kind of cultural differences they face and how they handle to come to the terms …

Book Review: Born Evil by Ruskin Bond

Born Evil by Ruskin Bond is a lengthy story covered in the book ‘Death Under Deodars’. This story discusses the possibilities of a person being born evil. Being evil is not about genetically approved thing – argues Miss Ripley Bean with the Royal hotel pianist Mr. Lobo. To justify the assumption they take the case of Hitler. Miss Bean is of the opinion that Hitler was a cruel man who killed black men, Jews, and many other innocent people, but, on the other, hand he never let animals killed. As their discussion gets dredged up ahead, she, Miss Bean, takes the example of Alexandra. The story of Alexandra dates back to thirty to forty years back when India was a colony of the British and Dehradun was the center of recreational things for the allied troops.

Alexandra was an innocent looking beautiful boy of fourteen. School teachers, girls, headmasters and whosoever knows him were fond of him. He was silent and hated everyone for no apparent reason. He would often take part in fighting t…

Book Review: Death Under the Deodars by Ruskin Bond

Death Under the Deodars by Ruskin Bond is a lengthy story but not a novella. Set in Mussoorie, the year is 1967. This story has many characters only to make it look more thrilling. Though it is a murder mystery but the beautiful thing about this story is that the criminal is being caught without a proper investigation.

The Royal hotel before independence belonged to the father of Miss Ripley-Bean, she was sixty eight and still spinster. Her father passed it to Nandu on one condition that two rooms should be allotted permanently to his daughter Miss Ripley-Bean. So, she was the permanent resident of that hotel. Every year the hotel hosted its Annual Flower Show in the month of October. Flower enthusiasts and expert gardeners would bring in the flowers for competition. The awards were given by the Princess of Kapurthala.
Characters like retired colonel Bakshi, Miss Gamlah, Nandu, the hotel pianist Lobo, Miss Ripley-Bean, Dr Reinhardt the dentist and many other people were there in the …

Book Review: The Earthquake by Ruskin Bond

The Earthquake by Ruskin Bond is a short story covered in many of his short stories collections. This story talks about the famous earthquake of Assam and Bengal which took place on 12 June 1897. Surely, Ruskin wasn’t born then, but this story is about his grandfather and his father was a child then. His grandfather is in the habit of spending unnecessary time while bathing in a tub. Sometimes, he will sleep there or splash water like a child for hours. On the other hand, grandmother always expresses concern over his bathing habit, and instinctively she was sure that if the natural calamity strikes anytime then the grandfather will be found in the bathroom.

When earthquake jolts the earth and buildings and dams and other thatch-roofed houses tumble down to rubble, grandfather runs for his life from the back door, since the front doors are obscured by furniture, thatch, bricks, etc. This earthquake causes much damage to the property and many lives are lost. Though its center was Shill…

Book Review: Gone Fishing by Ruskin Bond

Gone Fishing by Ruskin Bond is a short story based on the trust between a faithful servant and a house owner. The name of the house was ‘Undercliff’ because it stood under a cliff and it was owned by Robert Astley. Robert was a bachelor in his thirties; instead of getting married he chose to be a nomad and traveller, free from worldly responsibilities.

Leaving the house under the care of Prem Bahadur, who had been serving the family for well over thirty years, he went away. Before going he instructed Prem Bahadur to keep the house maintained, and for that every month Prem Bahadur would collect money from his lawyer Mr. Kapoor. Initially, he used to return home like in a year or so. But since a long time he had not come. He was seen in Sri Lanka, then in Burma, and then in Java and after that there came no news of him. Well, Prem Bahadur’s dedication didn’t wince even by an inch. He continued to keep his dressing gown and slippers ready. He always waited for him optimistically. He wou…

Book Review: Song of the Whistling Thrush by Ruskin Bond

Song of the Whistling Thrush by Ruskin Bond is a short story covered in the book ‘White Clouds, Green Mountains’. The author is in awe with the nature that exists in the mountains. In this story, he shares one such story where he developed good bonding with a hill bird called Thrush. Hill people call that bird either Irstura or Kaljit. The writer often sees that bird and listens to her songs any time throughout the season. Most of the time he finds it flying around a stream. They often cross each other and have the presence felt.
When one of the water pipes of the writer’s house blocks and a puddle of water forms in the ground because of extra water, the bird takes chances to bathe in it and then suns herself on the tin roof of his home. He finds a queer melody in the voice of that bird. Prakash, the milk man, has a legend about this bird. The god Krishna fell asleep near a mountain stream, and while he slept, a small boy made off with his famous flute. On waking up and finding his f…

Book Review: The School at Chalet by Elinor M. Brent Dyer

In the early twentieth century a lot of serialized fiction for children came under publishing. Some of the famous writers then were Nesbit, Enid Blyton, Kipling, Frank Richards, and many more. Their books were instant success, probably for two reasons: it was a new kind of literature aimed at young readers, and most of the children’s books were based on or had boys as a central character. Male chauvinism worked everywhere. Well, but if you talk about children’s fiction with girls as a main character, then probably you would rely only on Enid Blyton’s Saint Clare and Malory Tower series.

Well, today many might not know that for girls there was a very famous serialized fiction series that ran almost for twenty five years i.e. from 1925 to 1950s. It was written by Elinor M. Brent Dyer. She was born in England, and herself was a teacher when she began writing story books based on school life, characters like Joey, their family, homes, holidays, etc. She wrote Chalet Series. The School at…

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is a Bildungsroman novel. Set in a graveyard, the protagonist Bod Owens is raised and educated by dead Mrs. And Mr. Owens. The story is inspired by The Jungle Book of Rudyard Kipling; however, the setting of the novel is different. Mr. Gaiman mentioned at the interviews that how he had read Kipling multiple times and how he's been inspired by The Jungle Book in specific to pen down this masterpiece.

The book is a children’s fantasy novel, done through eight chapters – short stories – and the protagonist grows in each story.
The concept is built around: a human child being raised by supernatural occupants, also a special aspect of this book. Jack (the bad man) kills the family of the toddler (who was upstairs when the murders were taking place). Later on, he climbs up a hill and there he is taken by the supernatural occupants (spirits, ghosts, ghouls, etc.). Even dead believes in charity work, for this reason they not only take him in but also rai…

Book Review: The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee

The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee is a popular Chinese fiction written in eighteenth century. It has been translated into English for the whole world to read by Robert Van Gulik and it displays a very interesting perspective of how the Chinese loved their detective novels and the judicial system of the Middle Kingdom. Just as we Indians had and loved Birbal, Naseeruddin Khwaja, and England Sherlock Homes; similarly every country has a favorite detective fiction character. Though this trend is quite among English writers, well China was no exception either.

After reading this book, readers will have a broader perspective and understanding about the tenacity and peculiarities associate with Chinese detective fiction.
Basic details like name of the criminal, background, and hereditary details are found explained in the very first chapter.Then the game of chase begins between the investigator and the criminal. Readers will know the puzzles but in pieces, as they read they come to know ab…

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This fabulous book brings back the reminiscences of teenagers and early adults who were really deep down in the video game playing between late eighties to early nineties, you know there were certain tropes that most of these games used and how enjoyable were they. It sounds strange today but bay back then you like a silly person, over the top way, immersed yourself in this strange world of gaming, sometimes great and at times crude visuals.

‘Ready Player One’ is a book that expertly reconstructs this very familiar feeling for 80's kids who grew up lingering around video games, movies, comics, and books. This is a book written by someone who loves all these, and explicitly for people who love all these things even today.
Even if you were not a gamer or unfamiliar with any of the eighties pop culture, you can still enjoy this book’s plot. It is just useable but it’s the minor details that you would recognize and relate with, this further raises this book to a new experience. While…