Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review 2018-2- Carthick's Unfairy Tales by T F Carthick

Who doesn’t like fairy tales? As children we loved listening to fairy tales where the world seemed like a perfect place. Cocooned by the safe and secure environment around us (or maybe I’m speaking of the times when I was a kid), we believed in such a world. Until adolescence struck and the phrase ‘happily ever after’ sounded more like a myth.

Recently there was a video about how every fairy tale had a fixed prototype in its plot. The damsel in distress, the princess in jeopardy, who had to be rescued by the handsome, courageous prince was the recurring theme in most of these fairy tales. When I read Cinderella or Snow White to my daughter I don't really think about the damage that I’m causing inadvertently. But the video made me think, why did Cinderella require a prince? Was she too weak and docile to fight her own battles?

Carthick's Unfairy Tales brings a new twist and a complete new perspective in the old fairy tales. The stories are retold from a fresh point of view which sheds a disparate light on these tales, a view that we would have missed on seeing while reading it innumerable times before. Here’s a short review of each story in the collection.

  1. ·     Of Mice and Horses- This tale is narrated by a rat who is worried by his fellow mouse living in a delusion that he is a royal horse. It was difficult to guess which fairy tale this story is based on until midway. The twist in the ending is apt and remains true to the nature of book showing how nothing is fair in fairy tales.
  2. ·        The Frog Who Would Be King -  This is my favorite one in the book and tells a story of a princess who is tricked into kissing a frog and then has to save herself from being married to an obnoxious prince. I could feel myself cheering for the princess and wondered why couldn’t there be more such female models in fairytales.
  3. · No Country for Wild Beasts- This story is narrated by a baby bear who is angry at a girl who invaded their home and disrupted their lives. The story is shorter when compared to others but I liked the way the original story was used to depict how humans take things for granted and muddle with nature and animal habitats.
  4. ·  The Beans of Avarice- This story depicts the attempts of a magician to get hold of magical secrets from the kingdom in skies using a simpleton boy’s help. I found the story to be humorous because it depicts the tale from the villain’s perspective.
  5. ·   A Tale of One City- This is a slightly dark story that is narrated by a town. What I liked about it is the ending which perhaps mirrors the desperate times of America’s political situation of today.
  6. ·  What the HobGoblin Did – Another interesting tale of human greed and cruelty which feels like a consistent theme throughout the seven tales in this collection.
  7. ·  The Hunger Diaries – This is another grim story narrated by Hunger, the Ravager and his attempts to claim two children, Hansel and Gretel and present them to his brother Death and how the children outwitted them.

Throughout the retelling I loved how the author imbues fresh perspectives and new twists in the tales which makes you forget that you are reading a retelling of the ancient fairy tales. The stories illustrate the satire and subtle humor of the author and the narration never makes you realize that you are reading someone who is trying his first attempt at publication. What makes the stories more interesting is the unusual point of views as each tale is narrated by a character who is an integral part of the fairy tale but may have been ignored in the original version.

It takes a lot of imagination (and a risky venture if I may say so) to take an old story and put a new spin over it AND engage the readers. But kudos to Carthick for doing this and he makes it look effortless (although we know it to be far from truth). I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and I'd rate the book 4 stars.

I look forward to reading more from Carthick. 

Buy the book using the below links -
Kindle Version

Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review 2018-1- Jonathan Aycliffe's Naomi's Room

The first book that I read in 2018 is Jonathan Aycliffe's Naomi's Room. I bought this book in Broadway Book sale in Goa during my vacation. I had never heard about the author before, so I trusted my gut instincts and also the fact that book was being sold as cheap a rate as 50 bucks. What attracted me to the book was the blurb which talked about a couple, Charles and Laura whose daughter Naomi, disappears on Christmas Eve and the horrors that follow after.

That’s why I love these quaint, old, second hand book stores, because sometimes if you are lucky enough you come across real gems (that’s how I came across this wonderful book The Witch Doll), books that no online stores sell.

Naomi’s Room is a psychological horror fiction that starts off on a brilliant note. Charles and Laura are the perfect couple, and with their small daughter Naomi they form the perfect family, until tragedy strikes on Christmas Eve. Charles and Naomi go for a shopping trip to London and Naomi is lost in a large toy shop.

The next day her body is found mutilated in a small alley. While the couple try to cope with their loss, the weird and frightening occurrences in their house, scare them and give them hope too. Hope to see their daughter and talk to her again. Meanwhile a freelance photographer called Lewis, helps Charles to understand more about the paranormal activities in his house.

The problem is in the last 75 pages of the books, everything goes a little haywire and cliche. The explanation to the haunting and the detailed flashback into the past becomes tedious to read. The climax is a little gory and becomes too eww, but that’s OK, it’s expected from a horror fiction. The ending seemed a little hurried, like too many things happening at once. Overall the book definitely gives you the creeps, especially the Victorian Gothic settings and the narration of the haunting. A good horror read from an author other than Stephen King.

So I’m happy that I got to enjoy my first read in 2018. I’d rate the book a 3.5 on a scale of 5.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Reading Challenge -2018

Happy New Year 2018.

What I like about new year is that it feels like a fresh beginning, a chance (or at least we fool ourselves into believing it) to forget the mistakes that we did in last year and start a new chapter in life. There’s hope and there’s resolutions. That reminds me the subject of my post.

Resolutions. I have one resolution this year and hope that I stick to it. I’m not good at sticking to something for a long time. I’m keeping it simple, so what I hope to achieve in 2018, is to read more. Yes, that’s it, and given my immense love for books, it should be easy to achieve. I have taken up the Goodreads challenge for 2018 and I am keeping a realistic target of 50 books. What I also want to do is broaden the scope of the books that I read. I usually read books from Crime/Thriller genre and very rarely stray away from this genre.

So I have decided to prepare a reading challenge that will make me explore books from diverse genres. That should make things more interesting, I think. The list was prepared by adapting from the popular Popsugar Reading Challenge and some, I have added my own.

o   A book made into a movie you’ve already seen

o   True crime/or about a real serial killer

o   The next book in a series you started

o   A book where the plot is covered in 24-hours

o   A book with an animal in the title

o   A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym

o   A book that was published in your year of birth

o   A book that was published in 2018

o   A book that has two authors

o   A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift

o   A classic that you’ve always wanted to read but never got around to reading

o   A book that you loved reading when you were a child.

o   A book mentioned in another book

o   A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner

o   A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to

o   A book that will make you laugh out loud

o   A book that involves a book store or library

o   A book about terrorism

o   A book about criminal psychology

o   A complete book series

o   A book that I’ve not read and has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time.


So that’s my list. I also intend to cover a short review of the books that I read and plan my to-read pile in the beginning of the month. So, as you can see, this is going to be lot of fun! 2018, here I come J 


Monday, October 30, 2017


Susan was sweating profusely despite lying in an air-conditioned room. It did not help that she was in an unknown place, surrounded by people she didn’t know, speaking a language she didn’t understand. As another contraction hit her, she screamed out in pain ‘Mama!’ Her mother ran to her side and grasped her trembling hand.

‘Mama, I can’t bear the pain any more. Please get the baby out. Please’

‘Su, I just spoke to the doctor. It’ll be over in few minutes but until then you have to tolerate the pain darling.’

As the contraction subsided, Susan gulped in air as if the baby had been suffocating her. ‘Mama you have given the nurse instructions, right?’

‘Yeah, but are you sure that you don’t want to see the baby’s face? You can’t hate it so much, can you?’ Her mama asked her but Susan turned her head the other way. The tears rolled into the pillow making a wet patch.

No, she didn’t hate the baby, not yet. But she was worried that once she saw the baby’s face, she wouldn’t feel love for it. She’d feel revulsion, she would feel anger and she would be reminded of the horror of that night all over again. When she looked into the baby’s eyes, she would remember those demonic eyes on top of her, lids half-closed in ecstasy as she struggled to escape. This baby wasn’t borne out of love, rather it was the aftermath of a violent rape.  Of course she could have got it aborted but her orthodox Christian values made her believe that she would be committing a sin in doing so. She had decided to give birth to the baby and then put it up for adoption.

As another contraction racked her body in pain, all thoughts were driven away from her mind. She just wanted this ordeal to be over.

Susan opened her eyes groggily. A tiny bundle had been placed beside her and she could see a pair of small legs that were kicking steadily at her sides. Susan opened her eyes wide and she was about to call for the nurse when her eyes connected with the baby’s eyes. The baby was looking at her and the small puckered mouth was making gentle crooning noises as if to placate its mother. For a baby that was just born, it was surprisingly cheery and joyous.

Looking at the baby, Susan was not reminded of that terrible night. Neither did she go through the unspeakable agony that she had experienced in the last nine months. She could only wonder at the way her heart was suffused with an intense love and desire to pick up the baby and shower it with kisses. God works in miraculous ways and if He gives us pain, He also gives us a way to build courage and determination to overcome the pain. The baby was the miracle in Susan’s life, the balm that healed her wound. At last she had understood that.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
                                             (By E.E. Cummings)

This post was written for Write Tribe Problogger Challenge.
#writebravely #writeproblogger

Friday, October 27, 2017

Music Therapy

Today is the 8th post for WriteTribe Problogger Challenge and quite frankly I didn't think that I would survive. I had given up writing for around a year while I was busy preparing for my MA exams and I remember when I was writing the first post, I felt weird, typing on my laptop. It felt unfamiliar giving a voice to my thoughts.

And today's theme is a little different- we are supposed to write a post using a song as a prompt. It interests me because music is one of my stress-busters. I love listening to songs no matter what mood I'm in. And I'm a hardcore Bollywood fan- no Eminem or Bieber for me, no Sir. Give me Arijit or Kumar Sanu any day. But one singer I simply adore for his versatility, to bring alive any kind of song- sad, mischievous, brooding, romantic, nostalgic is the immortal Kishore Kumar.

There are so many of his songs that I love- the list is endless... Recently I have started using Hungama app on my phone, and I just love it. You can browse any number of playlists and there is a good collection of songs. I came across the below song during one such browsing session. I was listening to it in the office bus during my journey from office to home. And I was moved to tears. I had to control hard to stop the tears from flowing and embarrassing myself in front of my colleagues.

And it’s so damn hard to believe that it’s the same Kishore da who gave his voice to the rib-tickling and  funny song Ek Chatur Naar from the laugh-riot movie Padosan.

Coming back to Zindagi Ka Safar from the movie Safar- what I love is the lyrics and the soulful rendition by Kishore da. For instance the below lines-

Zindagi Ko Bahut Pyaar Hamne Kiya
Maut Se Bhi Mohabbat Nibhaaenge Ham

To give a little background, in the movie, the hero, Rajesh Khanna is suffering from a terminal disease and although he loves Sharmila Tagore, he cannot profess his love to his lady because he knows that his life is short. In the above two lines the hero says that he cherished and loved his life, but at the same time, he is also ready to accept death. To show true courage even while facing death and to welcome it with loving arms - this only a Bollywood hero could teach us.

This song reminds us that no one is immortal on this earth. Some may live a little longer but in the end, we all end up as ashes. The song also reminds us that there are some lives that are very short, that ended even before it began. The uncertainty of death and the importance of living life fully before meeting death as a friend is beautifully portrayed.

Do let me know if you love Kishore Kumar’s songs and if you have a favorite.

This post was written for WriteTribe Problogger Challenge.
#writebravely #writetribeproblogger