Book Review: The Caretaker of Imagination, by ZR Southcombe

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” – C S Lewis

Looking at books like Harry Potter, Aesop’s Fables or Grimm’s Fairy Tales, I can’t help but agree with the words of C S Lewis. For those books may have been written for children, but are enjoyed years on by most who read, child or adult. Also, when it comes to children’s books or fantasy novels, the title and the cover do matter more than others. When the author approached me for a review for this novel, it was the title that made me curious – The Caretaker of Imagination.

Blogging from A to Z: Z for ZR Southcombe
Blogging from A to Z: Z for ZR Southcombe

The book follows John and his cat Theo as they “run away from home”, leaving their world in pursuit of adventure. And adventure does follow! They meet a waiter, who turns out to be a pirate, or so John thinks, and the waiter sends them to a friend of his, Edgar, who turns out to be someone unexpected, and who tells stories. Edgar sends them off to find The Caretaker of Imagination, so they try to enlist the help of that “pirate” waiter. And another adventure begins.

To take a 42 year old accountant and his cat (yes, you read that right) and send them off on an adventure in a car named Myrtle was brilliant. I loved both their characters immensely and enjoyed reading about their adventure. It showed me that there can be fun and adventure around the corner if I believe there can be, and let my imagination run wild. I loved the tone of narration and the characters that popped up, be it the pirate or Edgar or the wizard or Jess or Midnight. It was the fun which made the book a quick-read. I loved Jane Thorne’s illustrations a lot, and thought that the first illustration, of John and Theo in Myrtle, would have made a brilliant cover page than the current one, though the current one is not terrible or anything.

When it comes to fantasy, I love books that come to life in my imagination, and I really felt that this one did. I want to know more about the character of Lucy, who I feel has a wonderful imagination too, so I hope a sequel or another book comes from the author with one of Lucy’s adventures. I’m really glad to have read this book and I hope to read more from Zee’s pen very soon.


The Bookworm Rates This: 5/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 5/5
Book Details
Title: The Caretaker of Imagination
Author(s): Z. R. Southcombe
Illustrator: Jane Thorne
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN/ASIN: B00UB7IH9S Publisher: Self-Published
No. of Pages: 62 Price: INR. 62

Reviewed for the author, who gave me a soft-copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 30th April 2015)

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Book Review: Witness the Night, by Kishwar Desai

Blogging from A to Z: W for Witness the Night
Blogging from A to Z: W for Witness the Night

When it comes to crime fiction, there are some books that are well known, like Sherlock Holmes or any of the Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple books of Agatha Christie or Inspector Virkar series of Piyush Jha, to name an Indian author in English off the top of my head. Then there are some books which are kind of hidden gems. One such book is Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai. I don’t remember how I came across the book, but it was the cover page that first caught my attention even before the blurb made me pick it up.

It’s never easy to read about issues like child abuse and such, and for a fact, I know it’s very difficult to write about them. So to take up such a theme in a book, and combine it quite nicely with other issues too, and on top of that, make it a murder mystery, it was quite breathtaking. Durga is a child who is the main suspect in a murder case, the victims being her own family. But Simran Singh believes that she couldn’t have done it. She’s a survivor, and as much a victim as the rest of her family. And sets out to solve the case and prove Durga’s innocence.

The introduction penned from the viewpoint of Durga and the detailing of that scene… it creeped me out, but it kind of rung true. How the police view the case and how they want to close it was well dealt with, and it was saddening to read too. I liked the character of Durga’s sister-in-law too, who believes in Durga’s innocence more than anyone else. I also liked how she’s brought into the picture and how the character develops. And I like the ending as well. The book is a mixed bag of things, like I said before. While that works in favor of the novel, it also works against it, because at times, it takes away from the genre of the novel. The power of that introduction dies away after a bit because of the social issues that one is left to ponder on.

I do feel that Witness The Night is a book that needs to be read. But it definitely could have been better. Not a one-time read, but definitely an easy read.


The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5

Book Details
Title: Witness the Night
Author(s): Kishwar Desai Genre: Crime Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9788172239220 Publisher: Harper Collins
No. of Pages: 213 Price: INR. 225

I own a copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 27th April 2015)

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Book Review: Sights & Sounds of the World, by Khushwant Singh

Blogging from A to Z: S for Sights and Sounds of the World
Blogging from A to Z: S for Sights and Sounds of the World

Books help us to travel without actually leaving the place where we’re reading it. It’s even truer when the book in question is a travelogue. Like some books are found in the most unexpected of places, I found this one hiding between two reference books at the library. I might have let it pass by, but for the author. Khushwant Singh is a name known to most book lovers in India, and one who I have enjoyed reading. I hadn’t read a travelogue from this man, and I thought it might be a worthy read.

Through the book, the author takes me along to many places, some which I know and some which I don’t. Most of the places are new to me. From Minicoy Island, one of the few inhabited islands in Lakshadweep, to Norway and Italy, I travel without leaving my desk. Even small observations help to build a picture of the place in question.

“What I like most are the beauties of nature: mountains, forests, lakes, fast-moving rivers, sea-sides in all climates, and at all hours of days and nights. You may not share all my passions, and may find repeated references to them somewhat boring. I crave your forgiveness.” He writes so in the prologue. I share those passions with him much, and whenever I travel, I do like to head to those places which have the beauty of nature, but yes, maybe a lot of them in one book might have pushed away some of the interest I have. But that’s acceptable perhaps.

Is there a Khushwant Singh charm to the writing? Absolutely, without doubt there is. It appeals to me in the sense that it adds to my knowledge of these places he visits. But it won’t serve any purpose sitting on my bookshelf when its tales would appeal more to another, possibly someone who has visited or might visit these places.


The Bookworm Rates This: 3/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 3/5
Book Details
Title: Sights and Sounds of the World
Author(s): Khushwant Singh Genre: Travel
ISBN/ASIN: 9788187478256 Publisher: India Today
No. of Pages: 295 Price: INR. 250

I found a copy at the library. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 22nd April 2015)

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Book Review: The Essential Rumi (Poems by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks)

Blogging from A to Z: R for Rumi
Blogging from A to Z: R for Rumi

 

Poetry is fascinating because it has simplicity in depth and depth in simplicity. True, not all poets manage to do that with every poem. An exception I can think of is the great Gulzar sir. I found that in his recent collection. One who brings the latter definition is Rumi.

Jalaluddin Rumi was a Persian poet. I got introduced to his writings mainly through the verses shared by my friends, which endeared me and made me look for more verses or quotes of his. I found many. One such verse which charmed me was

“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” ― Rumi

If he could enchant my muse with a quote, I wondered what a book of his verses would do. It was Godsend perhaps that that day, my friend asked me for a wishlist. I gave her this book, and it was granted. And yes, I was quite taken by the poetry of Rumi as I read it. How simply he puts them at times. It makes me think, “How come I didn’t realize that before reading?”

Let me give you an example of one from this book.

I am so small, I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?
Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.

A verse… the first two lines of it asking a question, and the second replying to the question. It makes me think. Who asks the question, and is Rumi giving the answer? Or could it be that I’m asking the question, and after some pondering, my own heart gives me the answer? And if it is so, how come I didn’t see it before? Where was I looking?

The book is not just poetry, but philosophy as well. And it appeals to my sense of poetry and thought. Yes, there are some that go over my head too, but most of the poems in this collection are possible to follow if I give it a bit of thought. I wouldn’t say they are extremely likeable, sometimes I just move on to the next, but like every poetry book, I savor this slowly too. There’s no way I can be a poet like Rumi, but I can aspire to be.


The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 4/5

Book Details
Title: The Essential Rumi
Author(s): Rumi
Translator: Coleman Barks
Genre: Poetry
ISBN/ASIN: 9780140449532 Publisher: Penguin Classics
No. of Pages: 310 Price: INR. 350

I own a copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 21st April 2015)

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Book Review: Quidditch Through The Ages, by Kennilworthy Whisp (JK Rowling)

Blogging from A to Z: Q for Quidditch Through The Ages
Blogging from A to Z: Q for Quidditch Through The Ages

Like I said once, there are some books that are intriguing because they are found in books. It was a delight to see three such from the Harry Potter books published as the Hogwarts Library series.

Quidditch Through The Ages is first found in the first book when Hermione gives it to Harry. I didn’t know what to expect from the book itself. Like the other two in the Hogwarts Library series, this too is presented well, like a library book with a borrowing card printed at the front and such.

I enjoyed reading about the history, in particular the descriptions of ancient Quidditch balls, and the Quidditch moves like the Bludger Backbeat etc. And also, the Quidditch teams of Britain and Ireland. It was nice to read more about Ron’s favorite team, The Chudley Cannons and Ginny’s favorite team the Holyhead Harpies.

It’s fun to revisit the world of magic that I got to know through Harry Potter. This book is wonderful to read for a Harry Potter fan, and I’m glad to have it in my shelf.


The Bookworm Rates This: 5/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 5/5
Book Details
Title: Quidditch Through The Ages Series: Hogwarts Library #2
Author(s):
JK Rowling as Kennilworthy Whisp
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN/ASIN: 9781408835036 Publisher: Bloomsbury
No. of Pages: 105 Price: N/a

I own a copy of this book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 20th April 2015)

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Book Review: Philia and Sophia, by Nikitha Hingad

A poem to me is a piece of the poet’s heart. It touches a chord with the reader. From a collection, there are a few that do, if not all. This book is divided, as the title says, into two parts – Philia and Sophia.

Philia is a compilation of poems and writings about love and the romantic love most of all. A few poems in this part of the book made me smile. Most of the poems in this part are simple and direct, and rhyme with ease. That rhyme helps it to roll off the tongue when reading.

The most memorable poem for me from this section of poems is the one titled “Love is not…” The poem compares love with the elements and concludes with a bit of depth. I do not necessarily agree with the poet’s comparison, but that doesn’t bring it down in any way. The definition of love changes with each person, so I quite enjoyed reading that what the poet has written.

To be frank, I did not enjoy most of the poems in this part much. They didn’t appeal to me. They didn’t make me stop and think on the; re-read them. It felt like a childish interpretation of love.

Sophia is a compilation of poetry and writings with a message sometimes evident, sometimes hidden. This part was better than the first one, with the poems feeling closer, more urgent, and more complete. It also encompassed more than just one thing, so that helped.

From this section, the most memorable poem for me is “It’s not I”. I very much enjoyed reading it, and went back to it afterwards too. I could relate to it, and especially with the ending couplet. But it also made me wonder if the poet had thought the lines through. “It’s not I who fail, but the loser within” didn’t make sense to me. Other than that couplet, the rest felt true.

This section was much better, and I went back to a few poems which had made me stop and think. It made me wish the poet had written more on Sophia than about Philia.

Blogging from A to Z: P for Philia and Sophia
Blogging from A to Z: P for Philia and Sophia

Any book is first judged by the cover. It’s what makes us pick the book up. Yes, the blurb at the back or the genre (if we’re fond of it) helps suppress or ignore a bad cover, but the cover definitely matters. For a collection of poems related to love and wisdom, the cover felt right out of a chick-lit or romance novel theme. It didn’t fit, I feel.

I like the pencil sketches that are scattered in between the poems. I enjoyed seeing them, and I felt they made the book more interesting too. I appreciate that effort which she has taken. Perhaps a pencil sketch of a girl at a table, writing, might have made a better cover page.

The book has interesting poems, but doesn’t quite make a mark.


The Bookworm Rates This: 2/5
The Bookworm Rates This: 2/5
Book Details
Title: Philia and Sophia
Author(s): Nikitha Hingad Genre: Poetry
ISBN/ASIN: 9781482846065 Publisher: Partridge Publishing
No. of Pages: 180 Price: INR. 350

Reviewed for the author, who gave me a soft-copy of the book. The views expressed here are my own, frank and uninfluenced.


(© 18th April 2015)

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