The Harry Potter series is perhaps my favorite fantasy series ever and one of my favorite series ever, across any genre. When I had acquired the box set of the books, I came to know of three accompanying books too, that formed The Hogwarts Library collection. Without further ado, I bought those three too. I had read Quidditch through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them earlier. This book completes the set.
There are few authors who make a mark on the reader even with short works. For me, one such author is Neil Gaiman. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, so when a friend recommended that I read The Sleeper and the Spindle, I didn’t hesitate. The cover intrigued me further as well.
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.
|Title: Quidditch Through The Ages||Series: Hogwarts Library #2|
JK Rowling as Kennilworthy Whisp
|ISBN/ASIN: 9781408835036||Publisher: Bloomsbury|
|No. of Pages: 105||Price: N/a|
(© 20th April 2015)
It is not often that a book appeals just with two lines from the back blurb. But when I read, “We are our stories. We tell them to stay alive, or keep alive those who only live now in the telling”, I knew this book held promise. It made me intrigued to know more about “Plain Ruth Swain” and her story.
Why does Plain Ruth Swain have to be trapped in the attic room? No one knows. Not her. Not the doctors. And she puts it in the words of those around her, who, even though she is old enough to hear it, try to keep it subtle, saying “something amiss”, “fine except for falling down” etc. She sees her great grandfather when she can’t sleep, following him as far as up a tree, not him, just a bit of him. Like that, bit by bit, I’m introduced to the family; her grandfather Abraham, her mother Mary, her father Virgil and her aunts. She is also surrounded by something I try escaping into, books. And in those books, she seeks her father, reading her history to us as the rain of County Clare falls on the roof above her.
Some books have to be savored, not processed instantly. They’re like the old cameras. The story, like the negatives (film), takes time to develop. This is one such book. Slowly, we are introduced to the character of Plain Ruth Swain, and we find that she is, after all, not so plain. She is as deep as her precious books make her. From Ruthie, we get so many wonderful, memorable words. The one that captured my attention is just one of many.
“The clock of one day is not the same as another. We invented time to make it seem so, but we know it’s not. Things speed up and slow down all the time.”
What a beautiful way to put it that one day is different from another. From Ruthie, we see that even if we’re trapped physically, we needn’t be mentally. There is an escape that is sweeter than most others, one into the written word. And with that, find a new way of life.
For a moment, if I forget the brilliance of this main character, the story lacks a bit of interest. I’ve not read some of the books in this book, so the book becomes a bit unfamiliar. And the characters around Ruth aren’t as fun as her. I wonder if this is like life. One character would be interesting, but not their world. And the setting doesn’t quite sit well at times either. But those are things that, to me, were lost mostly in the character of Ruth Swain.
The cover design, with words running like a river, made beautiful sense for this novel, and it is one that I would read again someday, just as slowly, just as eager to let the story sink in.
|Title: History of the Rain|
|Author(s): Niall Williams||Genre: Fiction|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9781408863855||Publisher: Bloomsbury|
|No. of Pages: 358||Price: Rs. 499|
(© 9th April 2015)
A book in a book, or in a favorite series is always fun to see. Like Richard Castle’s books Heat Wave, Naked Heat etc. But that’s nothing when you think of the text books in my all time favorite series, Harry Potter. The History of Magic, The Standard Book of Spells, Goshawk’s Guide to Herbology etc. are books that stay in the mind of any Harry Potter fan long after the series has ended. To see three of the books being made into a set Hogwarts Library was nice. It stands proudly in my collection.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a book that looks at the magical creatures in the world of magic that the Harry Potter series creates. I cast my mind through the Defence Against the Dark Arts or Care of Magical Creatures classes and remember the creatures like Cornish Pixies, Kappas, Hinkypunks and Werewolves from the former and Hippogriffs and Flobberworms from the latter. Not to forget the detention in the Dark Forest where they meet Centaurs and Unicorns. I’ve always wanted to know more about them and this book does it.
Is it every bit as magical as the Harry Potter series? Yes. Absolutely, it is. But it’s a text book for reference, and it doesn’t look at language to help me visualize the creatures. It’s informative, not imaginative (even though it is fantastical). But I don’t mind that. The way it’s presented is absolutely fun. Notes written on the side by those who read it; the first page proclaiming the book belongs to Harry Potter etc. make it feel like the book was actually owned by a student. I liked reading about the creatures, especially different breeds of dragons and Billywigs and Imps. There are some, like the last two I mentioned, that don’t form part of the series, making it more interesting reading too.
They say this set is a collector’s item. I agree. I’m glad to have collected it and read it, and I’m sure it’ll help bring a smile when I re-read it. This book is, and pun intended, FANTASTIC.
|Title: Fantastic Beasts
and Where to Find Them
|Series: Hogwarts Library #1|
JK Rowling as Newt Scamander
|ISBN/ASIN: 9781408835050||Publisher: Bloomsbury|
|No. of Pages: 88||Price: N/a|
(© 7th April 2015)
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing… yes, there’s no doubt about it, what intrigued me from the start was the title, and that beautiful cover page. And it helped that my friends were also talking good things about the book.
The story is about Amina, about an Indian family living abroad and their troubles, their present, their past and their future. The story happens between India and abroad, the former being from their past. Events that are set in the mind of the characters, and through the story, set into ours.
The story is about adapting, like how Amina adapts to the photography world, to make her name in that world. It’s about exploring, yet ignoring the past. To understand why the present is shaping up as it is, with her father hallucinating but unwilling to accept it, her mother telling her so, but claiming it is nothing serious etc. Amina has to explore her family’s past, but in doing so, ignore the memories and ghosts that she has in that past, like the criticisms she faced and of course, that one gathering that stands out.
The story is about relationships, be it family, friendships or professional relationships. It is that close-knit group feeling that brings a feeling of home away from home.
The story is about choices. It’s something that binds us to our lives, and the characters to theirs. Sometimes, I wonder why I chose to read the novel, but it doesn’t pull me away from the book.
The story is about emotions. It’s about the trauma that the characters go through, each having their own to share with the reader. And the way the story is narrated, the reader feels those emotions too.
For a debut novel, I find Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing to be excellent. Interweaving time frames is no easy task for a writer and Mira Jacob does that well. Maybe it is the genre, but the pace is not even. Sometimes the pages turn, keeping me engaged and wanting to know what’s next; and it is so slow at other times that I want to skip a few pages and see if it picks up. It’s a book that will stay on my shelf for a while to come, and I might, I just might read it again soon, emotional as it may be.
Not perfection, this book, but it comes pretty darn close to it.
|Title: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing|
|Author(s): Mira Jacob||Genre: Literary Fiction|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789384052706||Publisher: Bloomsbury India|
|No. of Pages: 502||Price: Rs. 599|
(© 28th February 2015)