Category Archives: Book Review

Square Astronaut, Round Hole || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 15: OUTPOST

Have you ever taken an effort to actually listen to a song mentioned in a book that you read? Do you end up liking such songs?

Space Oddity is one such song that I heard because of a book and ended up loving it way too much. Astronaut Chris Hadfield in his memoir, ‘An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth’ talks about recording this song on the International Space Station (ISS), which is his modified rendition of the classic Space Oddity by David Bowie. If you ever ask for non-fiction recs, you’re sure to hear about this book from me. Although it’s a perfect book to read for people from any profession or field of study, it’s a must-read for astronomy enthusiasts!

While I was thinking about this prompt, my mind raced through some other ideas at first. At one point, I thought about drawing something related to Robinson Crusoe; but then this book popped into my mind out of nowhere, and what’s more outpost-ly than an astronaut floating far, far away from the Earth?

If you’re interested, do listen to ‘Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can’, an album of songs that Chris Hadfield had recorded on the International Space Station.

Space Oddity, a rendition by Chris Hadfield
Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can

— Suri

The First Time And The Last Time || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 13: DUNE

“If you please – draw me a sheep!”

“What!”

“Draw me a sheep!”

We first meet the little Prince in the Desert of Sahara,  asking for the drawing of a sheep. We meet him last in the same place, falling as gently as a tree, without a sound.

‘It is here that the little prince appeared on Earth, and disappeared.’

The Little Prince is a classic novella by French aristocrat, writer, and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It starts with the narrator crashing into the desert, and then meeting the young prince. The prince is childlike, but not childish. He talks about mundane things – about his life on his asteroid B 612, about his lovely Rose, his tamed Fox and the others that he meet while on his way to Earth.


The book gives us an insight into how deeply are we bounded by ‘matters of consequences’, how we as grown-ups slowly start forgetting the little things that made us happy and inspired us, as a child.


When Vaishnavi from vcreative learnt that I was reading this book in September, she made sure that I saw its movie too. The movie has a different POV, that of a young girl’s. It even explores the story after the book is finished. It’s a really beautiful movie. Embedding its trailer below:


— Suri

My Fancy TBR Pile || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 7: FANCY

How do you decide what to read next? Do you have your TBR (To Be Read books) all planned out in advance? If yes, is it planned yearly, monthly, bi-weekly or weekly? Do you rigidly stick according to your plan?

I’ve never really planned my TBRs. Ah, that doesn’t mean I don’t have any TBR pile. Of course, I do- in the form of physical books and ebooks! But since July this year, I tried to make a monthly TBR, and surprisingly did read according to it. I couldn’t tick off the entire list, but at least could read half of them each month, some of the titles that were burdening my pile since years!

How do I decide what to read immediately after my current read? Ah, that’s simple.

  1. If the current book is a 5/5 for me, I’ll check out the blurbs of the other books by the same author. Then I’ll start binge reading all the works by the author one after the other (only if the next books keep me interested too).
  2. If the current book’s setup and timeline catches my fancy, then I’ll google up more books based on that era (like I do for books related to WWII), and thus stumble upon a completely new book – that was originally absent from my TBR – and start reading it.
  3. If I like nothing about my current book, I merely look through my TBR (I have an excel sheet maintained for it) and then pick up one book based on the blurb or sometimes even randomly.
  4. If I have ample of time and energy at my hands, I’ll start a new book series or something non fiction. 
  5. If I don’t have much time yet want to read, I’ll check out some light, standalone books – mostly YA (Young Adult genre). Even graphic novels are perfect for this category.
  6. In some cases, I randomly come across a book on goggle or bookstagram, will check their reviews and start reading that immediately! 

— Suri

As Quiet As A Mouse || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 6: RODENT

I’ve read a good number of books related to the Holocaust, and yet Maus by Art Spiegelman stands out. It stands out for its approach on the subject, it’s raw and honest delivery and its comical style, which is rare for a subject as serious as the Holocaust and WWII.

Maus is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman, serialized from 1980 to 1991. It depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The work employs postmodernist techniques and represents Jews as mice, Germans as cats, and Poles as pigs. In 1992, it became the first (and is still the only) graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Wikipedia

Part one of this book deals with the father’s experiences before and during the World War. Whereas part two shows us the story of the survivor’s son, who was born after the war and yet had to face scores of difficulties due to a troubled relationship with his father, and the suicide of his mother. I’m currently reading the second part.


— Suri

Oathkeeper || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 4: BLADE

I ship Jamie and Brienne from the ASOIAF (A Song of Ice and Fire) series so so much! I haven’t watched the GoT (Game of Thrones) series yet – except for season one – but the character arcs of these two people in the books is one of my favourites.


I tried to depict the scene where Jamie gives his sword to Brienne so that she could save the Stark sisters with a sword that was reforged from Ned Stark’s sword, Ice. 


The description of this sword as given in the ASOIAF books:

The sword has black and red ripples through the steel. Its scabbard glitters gold and is decorated with a row of lion’s heads and smoldering red rubies. The pommel has a golden lion’s head with ruby eyes that shine like two red stars.

What’s your OTP? Um, what is an OTP you ask? OTP equals One True Pair/Pairing, meaning your favourite couple in any series or book or fandom. They need not actually be a couple in the story, but in your head, they make a perfect couple.


— Suri

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel || Blog Tour

Book Title: The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

Author: Sheela Chari

Publisher: Walker Books US

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Genres: Middle grade, mystery

Book Purchase links:

Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Bookshop

Based on the Peabody Award–winning podcast, this tech-filled adventure series pits intrepid Mars Patel and his outcast friends against a brilliant, enigmatic billionaire as they race to figure out why kids are disappearing from their school.

Mars Patel’s friend Aurora has disappeared! His teachers are clueless. His mom is stressed out about her jobs. But Mars refuses to give up—after all, his own dad disappeared when Mars was a toddler, before he and Ma moved to Puget Sound from India. Luckily, Mars has a group of loyal friends eager to help—smart Toothpick, strong and stylish JP, and maybe-telepathic Caddie. The clues seem to point toward eccentric tech genius (and Mars’s hero) Oliver Pruitt, whose popular podcast now seems to be commenting on their quest! But when the friends investigate Pruitt’s mysterious, elite school, nothing is as it seems—and anyone could be deceiving them. Slick science, corporate conspiracies, and an endearingly nerdy protagonist make this a fresh, exciting sci-fi adventure.

Praise:

Interweaving podcast transcripts, instant message threads, emails and newspaper stories, Chari deftly constructs a mystery that is strong in both plot and character. Mars’s friend group is as diverse as their unique abilities, and their teamwork and loyalty are unshakable. Based on the Peabody Award–winning podcast, fans of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and Stranger Things will clamor for more of Mars Patel. —School Library Journal (starred review).

Author Bio:

Sheela Chari is the author of THE UNEXPLAINABLE DISAPPEARANCE OF MARS PATEL, based on the Peabody Award-winning mystery podcast. Her other novels include FINDING MIGHTY, a Junior Library Guild Selection and Children’s Choice Award Finalist; and VANISHED, an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book, Edgar finalist for best juvenile mystery, and Al’s Book Club Pick on the Today Show. Sheela has degrees from Stanford University, Boston University, and New York University, where she received an MFA in Fiction. She teaches fiction writing at Mercy College and lives with her family in New York.

Author Links:

https://sheelachari.com/

My Review:

This book is based on a podcast, sounds fun already? Well, I don’t remember reading a Middle Grade book with an Indian or an Indian-American rep before, so the fact that one of the protagonist- Mars Patel is of Indian ethnicity was so relatable. The use of pronouns and also bullying someone with the wrong pronouns was subtly inserted into the story, but has made a mark. The book is like a fast paced thriller, the kind of which MG kids are sure to enjoy! I really wanted to see more of Mars’ mom, to get to know her. I loved the family dynamic and also the friendships portrayed in the book. Plus, it’s a sci-fi adventure, involving many little drones. I loved the book, can’t wait for the next book in the series!!

Ratings: 4/5

About the Show

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel is a scripted podcast for middle-grade kids performed by middle-grade kids. It is a fun, high-quality serial mystery that can be described as Goonies meets Spy Kids meets Stranger Things for eight- to twelve-year-olds. It was selected as one of the top fifty podcasts of 2016 by the Guardian, was honored with a Peabody Award, and was nominated for two Webby Awards (Best Audio Drama and Best Sound Design/Original Music Score). The show is enjoyed around the world by kids and adults alike. Check out more about the podcast on www.marspatel.com.

Make sure to drop by the other tour stops:


— Suri

Anne Frank’s Radio || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 4: RADIO


Can you imagine staying put in your house for an undefined period? I think we all got to experience a bit of it, during the initial stages of lockdown due to the pandemic. But, was it the same as it was for the Jews during Nazi Germany, during WWII? Definitely not, not even close.


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is a classic that most of us already know about. I got introduced to it through my school textbook, we had a short chapter about her diary. I may have mentioned it in passing about wanting to read the entire book, because a few days later, my mom gifted it to me.


This book is like a toned-down account of the atrocities of a war, as seen through the eyes of a teen. I feel blessed to be able to go out without the fear being seen, to just be able to look outside the window to smile at a passing stranger, to buy my own food and just wander around, to even use the internet and have an online presence! All of it that was restricted to the people living the Secret Annex, along with Anne, and the number of Jews hiding elsewhere.


A radio and a few trusted friends were Anne’s only connection with the outside world. Anne and the seven people whom she lived with would all gather around their radio during the news briefings- for a sign, for a hope that they would be free, and that things would go back to normal again.

Do I recommend this book? Oh yes, it’s one of those books that you just can’t NOT read! So pick it up when you can.

There’s even a YouTube series based on her diary by Anne Frank House. It’s a really short series with a very cool concept- instead of a diary, they’ve given a video camera in Anne’s hands and the story begins. Except for this camera/diary swap, rest of the incidents are true, as written in Anne’s diary.

Embedding the series here:


— Suri

The Sassy Sweetie Project || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 3: BULKY

I liked the book ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ , but I loved its companion novel ‘There’s Something About Sweetie’; which is kind of surprising considering the fact that I tend to stay away from romance books.

There’s Something About Sweetie deals majorly with Fatphobia. But even if you’ve never been body shamed personally, there’s still so much you can relate to while reading this book. The desi rep is so accurate, especially the parents of both the protagonists.

In this sketch I’ve tried to depict the scene when Sweetie and Ashish meet for the very first time, and she ends up winning the duel- err, a running race. Oh yes, they start running the moment they meet. 

I loved Sweetie’s zeal of proving herself, her strength and confidence through her secret Sassy Sweetie Project (although she couldn’t keep that secret from Ashish for long ).

The details about her athletic events and Ashish’s basketball matches were interesting too – which would be fun to watch on a screen. Which reminds me, there’s an upcoming Netflix series based on these books called Mismatched; so keep an eye for that, you guys!

Thank you Faguni for introducing me to Sandhya Menon’s books! Check Faguni’s blog for more South Asian recommendations.


— Suri

Leo Valdez as a Child || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 2: WISP

After much contemplation and discarding n number of ideas for today’s prompt, I finally settled on this- wisp of hair and wisp of fire.


Let me take a moment here to introduce you all to my boy, Leo! 
Leo Valdez, the demigod son of Hephaestus (the Greek God of Fire and Blacksmiths) and the late Esperanza Valdez (a mortal). He’s sassy, he’s smart and he’s a person who I adore with all my heart!


When he was five, he drew a picture of a flying boat with a bronze dragon head as the masthead in crayon, but it was blown away by the wind. There were so many main characters in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, but Leo’s characterization attracted me the most. I know Percabeth rocks, but our seventh wheel here is no less.

If you are looking forward to reading this series, make sure to read the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series first to get acquainted with the Percy Jackson world.


— Suri

Magrathean Sperm Whale and a Bowl of Petunias || BookishInktober2020

#BookishInktober2020 prompt 1: FISH

I know what you’re thinking.

‘But it’s a whale, Surabhi! A whale is a mammal, not a fish!!’

I know. Tell that to my brain though. Ever since I came across this prompt, I couldn’t get this image out of my head.

We hardly flinch when a pen falls from the table. We might roll our eyes when a book falls down. When a bowl of flowers fall, we might get momentarily worried, but we end up forgetting about it pretty soon. Have you ever wondered about a whale falling? From the sky?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is one of my favourite reads ever. I read it at a time when I craved for an adventure, and this first book ended up providing me one! I am yet to read all the books in the series yet- still on the fourth part when I left some years ago.

It’s the perfect mix of adventure, fun, comedy, physics?, sci-fi (invented physics?). It makes you wonder and think and laugh. So grab your nearest towel (you’ll know why when you read, I promise) and hitch a ride to the galaxy along with Arthur Dent, our hapless protagonist.

This fanart was inspired by the following long quote.


“Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.

And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.

This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.

Ah … ! What’s happening? it thought.

Er, excuse me, who am I?

Hello?

Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life?

What do I mean by who am I?

Calm down, get a grip now … oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It’s a sort of … yawning, tingling sensation in my … my … well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach.

Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what’s about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that … wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do … perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What’s this thing? This … let’s call it a tail – yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn’t seem to achieve very much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now – have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?

No.

Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation …

Or is it the wind?

There really is a lot of that now isn’t it?

And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like … ow … ound … round … ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground!

I wonder if it will be friends with me?

And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


— Suri