The Permanence of Things

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Utterances and actions
Not fitting one’s nature,
Can, regardless of how unintentional,
Hamper one’s reflection.

Absences temporary, wholehearted not,
Need no invitation for a homecoming.

Gathering foes and somebodies you used to know,
Ever present challenges of life.

A wacky sense refreshed by the wind
Bubbly days hyped up by company
Little things, deep meanings
Eternal boons and permanent fixtures.

– Meera

Book Review — The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending me a copy of this book for review. 

Feodora and her mother have been wilding tamed wolves for years now; deconditioning their submissive nature and helping them revert back to being animals of the wild. Feo grew up learning wolf habits more easily than human ones and has a splendid rapport with them. Wilding wolves is more than their hobby, it encases their entire life.
So when General Mikhail Rakov, of the Tsar’s army, compels them to distance themselves from the wolves; both mother and daughter are adamant about their refusal. Rakov is not used to being put down and their decision eventuates in grave consequences. Threatened by the army, Feo, accompanied by her wolves and several friends she makes on the way, are on the run to save what matters the most – their loved ones and freedom.

A magical story is told with a twelve year old as the protagonist. Never before have I read a children’s book that is encompassed with so much adventure, strength of will and maturity. Children’s books during my childhood seem so bleak now – lacking content and realistic portrayal of life. Feo is a ballsy character who is extremely fond of her wolves and despite how aggressive the wolves sometimes are, she never backs off or gives up on them. It shows how unconditional their bond is. The plot of ‘wolf wilding’ is a brilliant idea and well elaborated in the novel. Just one thing I found to be a little obstructing was the fact that even though the wolves were no longer “pets” or tamed, they still followed Feo & Ilya around. Certain of their behaviorisms didn’t go well with the wild-again-wolf scenario. Apart from that, the book was a wonderful journey.

Alexei’s character, though elfish and stern (at times), seemed flat. There were times he got a tad bit annoying. Whereas, the immense strength and maturity Feo shows throughout is unfathomable for someone her age. Katherine Rundell’s writing is comfortable, you are able to get a vivid picture of the snowy Russian setting that she aims to deliver. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and at no point did I feel like it was too immature or childish. As a 20 year old, I was completely able to appreciate and understand the happenings in the book. A truly great read!

Ratings – 4 stars on 5.

Meera

Book Review — Around The World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

Phileas Fogg is an extraordinary man. He is rarely daunted by the potholes in his way and equipped with a steadfast determination, attains what he so wishes. During a game of whist, a casual conversation turns to a challenge which sends Mr. Fogg on an adventure around the world within eighty days. Needless to say, his carefully planned trip doesn’t come to pass without trouble. A grave misunderstanding and treacherous weathers question the probability of him winning the wager. Around The World in Eighty Days is a quick, delightful read of Mr. Fogg and his companion’s experiences in changing regions and clime.

There appears to be many editions of this text, and I happened to pick a short abridged version. Usually I wouldn’t read abridged versions of classics but keeping in mind, the plot of this novel, I feel that the 120 paged edition was more appropriate and not draggy. It is fun enough that you are constantly wondering if Mr. Fogg’s overconfidence would cost him dearly. Afterall twenty thousand pounds for a bet is far too much. The protagonist is shown to be extremely stiff, lacking the expression of basic emotions which make us human. He seems not only detached from his surroundings but also very mechanical in his mien. Along the way, he makes certain acquaintances who stick with him till the end. Its a wonder how they dealt with his personality. His relationship with one such acquaintance, his counterpart to be precise, sounded flaky, perhaps because of the absence of any history or sound reason. Passepartout, his servant, is a fickle character, who only comes to his senses towards the end. There are a few cultural references (of India) that I found easier to understand. The end was fitting to some extent, not very apparent/obvious hence a good way to wrap up the text. The writing too was good, characteristic of classics. I enjoyed it but didn’t absolutely love it. Will definitely try something else by Jules Verne.

Ratings – 3 stars on 5.

Meera

Book Review — Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending a copy of this book for review. 

In this epistolary novel, Leah Thomas pens down a friendship so rare; a sense of optimism seldom seen through the characters of Oliver Paulot and Moritz Faber. Each a vital component of this touching narrative, teach us that sometimes youngsters can be a lot more mature than they are given credit for. Oliver is allergic to electricity and has epilepsy. He lives far from civilization, cocooned in a no-electricity zone with his mother. On the other hand, Moritz was born without eyes and uses a pacemaker to stabilize his heart. Through letters, they become the best of friends; becoming a sort of life jacket for each other. Except for one misfortune – neither can meet face to face for that would mean the end of one. Oliver and Moritz have always yearned for a shot at normalcy and to discover their apparently common history. With the help of loved ones, they strive to get there. But sometimes life gets too overwhelming when bullies, loneliness, love and suppression get the best of the two boys. Because You’ll Never Meet Me is not just the sun shining through the storm, it is a flag of strength and endurance.

Its been long since I enjoyed every page of a book from to start to finish. This novel is so captivating with its innocence and beautiful writing that it will for long be a standard of YA epistolary fiction for me. Oliver for most of the book is a very cheerful, buoyant character who urges Moritz to be strong and dauntless. Moritz initially is a very rigid, serious person who doesn’t appreciate Oliver’s forward nature. But slowly as they share their woes with each other and learn to be a “kickstand”, both of them grow to become more satisfied and happy. Dual narration is not an easy writing technique and Leah Thomas has done a commendable job of bringing out the perspectives of two very different individuals in her novel. I absolutely love her writing style, which is very fluid and simple. Not too many complexities and such.

There is also a mysterious air in the novel, as Oliver wishes to know about his father and similarly Moritz about his mother. This suspense, however, does not intervene in the process of creating a very contemporary setting for the novel. Liz, Oliver’s neighbour is a spirited girl who shows Oliver that not everyone sees him as a “freak” and ultimately he starts liking her. But I really didn’t like Liz’s character and many a times, she seemed shallow. Moritz too gets his heart set on someone and I definitely cheered them on. The plot, the characters, the writing all come together to give life to this wonderful story. BYNMM deserves more than a five star rating, it deserves to be read over again – because its just that amazing! Please please give this book a try, you most certainly won’t regret it.

Ratings – 5 stars on 5.

Meera

Book Review — Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Now and then, in this workaday world, things do happen in the delightful storybook fashion, and what a comfort that is.” ― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women follows the life of a family smiling their way through poverty and war in a materialistic society. Four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – with their unique, and at times conflicting, personalities strive to make their mother and neighbors happy; be it charity or socializing with the quiet Laurie. They have their own bothers to deal with but that has never stopped the March family from looking for the silver lining. A truly captivating and motivational tale of life in the Victorian times.

This book has a halo around it. Period. It is so beautiful and heartwarming that your everyday obstacles seem trifling. The mature and sensible manner in which  the March family deals with their poor state is commendable. I loved how they would stage plays for each other and base their efforts around making the best of what they had. Since they couldn’t afford tickets to musicals and such. There’s a great deal you realize after reading this novel. You learn how not to blow things out of proportion. You learn how the bonds between family members cannot be ruptured by mere sibling rivalry/misunderstandings. There are certain temporary characters who try to discourage the sisters carefree nature. But their attempts are in vain. Mrs March’s upbringing has taught the girls to not feel inferior regardless of what anyone implies. It often reminded me of the care with which my parents brought me up. Romance is not an integral aspect in it and still the novel is rich in morals and good living.

Not only is the writing fascinating but I have always been fond of the Victorian setting. There isn’t much of the fanciful living like balls and jewelery that you associate with the time, but somehow it wasn’t needed to make it a whole. Since the very beginning I was rooting for Jo and Laurie to get together. Their relationship is what I’d call effortless and smooth. There’s no awkwardness because of Jo’s boyish nature or Laurie’s shy manner. He is a very helpful character who had the misfortune of making a slight err in judgment which leads to a rough patch, but he and the family get past it. Meg is the epitome of grace and pleasant conduct. Unlike Jo, she doesn’t speak her mind bluntly. There were some moments that took my breath away, and I’d wish with all my heart that things would get better. All in all, its a classic read; sweet and inspirational. You must read it atleast once.

Ratings – 4 stars on 5.

Meera

The One Where Time Flies Soon

A few haiku to mark two splendid weeks.20150607_145927

Dance of the corn fields
Usher in the beginning.
Smiling faces wait.

Calm before a storm
Sense the inevitable.
Yet we look away.

A savior lighthouse.
Knowledge shines through the dark times,
While hungry hands wrote.

Sunny and gusty
Days warrant new dynamics.
To Deal or no deal?

The mist elevates
To clarity, as echoes
Bare a better truth.

Mama Turtles wave.
I see my path home in the
Gentlest of manners.

Two weeks depart like
A wish on the wind and soon
The rest will follow.

– Meera.

Book Review — Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan

I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury India in exchange for an honest review. 

Betty Plum who never before approached boys with romantic intentions has her eye on the new boy in school. Surely his smiles mean something or so is her wishful thinking. Toby is the typical girl magnet – mysterious with a notorious reputation. When he invites Betty to audition for vocals in his band, she is beyond ecstatic. Not realizing the compromises she would have to make, she agrees to audition. And that’s when a horde of issues land in her way; driving her to quit school, turn to her father’s girlfriend for help, upset one of her bestfriends and miss her mother more than she ever has. Would spending time with Toby mean neglecting who she really is? Love Bomb is a warm story of high school students and what it takes to realize the importance of loved ones.

I was a little apprehensive about reading the book solely because of its title, but the cover was bright and the synopsis seemed fun so I gave it a try and read it in a day. The writing style is more on the simple side but nothing wrong with that. The story appears to cater to younger teenagers but being a 20 year old, I could still smile and understand what was going on. Because lets face it, we’ve all been there and done that! Betty lost her mother when she was two, hence, what she knows about her is through the letters that her mother wrote for her. Her relationship with her father is very friendly and you’d think she would be okay with her father moving on. But surprisingly, Betty throws tantrums and detests the idea of his girlfriend. I found that to be immature and unnecessary. Bill is her guy bestfriend and a really great, relatable character. They’ve known each other since they were babies and so share a close bond. I liked his character the best, not only because he is so well equipped with language and knows his poetry well but also because he is always there by her side. One of the best features of this book is the subtle yet essential way in which Jenny McLachlan has incorporated love quotes from different literary texts into the novel. The concepts of love triangle, bullying are pursued through this book, which we can relate with. Its a quick, light read and has a ton of fun quotient.

Ratings – 3 stars on 5.

Meera