Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-Simply Mouthwatering

All of us may have read at least one Roald Dahl book as a kid and some may have read all his books. I come in the former category because I never really got around to reading Roald Dahl books as I was engrossed in Nancy Drew, Harry Potter or Agatha Christie series as a kid. The few Roald Dahl books I have read are Famous Five, the Mystery series but my favourite remains ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.’ And I recommend it to anyone of any age. In one word, the book is DELECTABLE! It is a feel good book that will be loved by anyone.

The story is fairly simple yet an interesting one. Charlie Bucket, a small kid and the hero, hails from a poor family. He loves chocolate(which kid doesn’t?) and he longs to visit the Wonka Chocolate Factory. But he can’t because the factory is always shut and no one leaves or enters that place. However, one lucky day. the newspapers announce that the Wonka Chocolate Factory is set to be opened for five lucky kids! Willy Wonka, the eccentric yet clever and brilliant owner of the factory, has placed five Golden Tickets in any 5 of his million chocolates. The children who get the ticket will be allowed to visit the factory and Charlie Bucket becomes one of the lucky few. His visit is the most wondrous of dreams, with chocolate overflowing everywhere and I mean literally everywhere!

The sheer scale of imagination that appears throughout the book-whether in characters or the story or the various types of chocolates-is so captivating that you would find the book brilliant!

‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ is literally a ‘sweet ‘ book with a happy ending. The language is simple, the plot engaging. The reader will never get bored while perusing it and the childish simplicity of the book with chocolate as its theme is what sets this book apart and makes it a great read for anyone. Children will find it hilarious and delicious and adults will be taken back to their childhood days when longing and dreams were  real!

All in all, its a wonderful book, a light read and anyone who has a sweet tooth or even anyone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth will surely develop one after reading  ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’.

Go, hurry, get your taste buds rolling with this fabulous book!!!

Heidi

Switzerland Alps are world famous. For us Indians, they have captured our imaginations through endless Bollywood movies where the hero and the heroine romance in them. Many have seen them in travel shows and many know the Alps only for endless snow sports or Roger Federer. However before the advent of films and travel shows there was an amazing, innocent book called ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri that extolled the Swiss Alps beautifully.

‘Heidi’ is a marvelous classic and a must read.

‘Heidi’ is the name of the protagonist, a five year old orphan who is sent by her aunt, Dete, to live with her gruff, old grandfather in the Swiss Alps. As time goes by, Heidi merges with the surroundings and comes to love the mountains dearly. Her grandfather’s rudeness and hostility also begin melting by Heidi’s copious warmth and innocence.  However, all does not remain blissful up in the mountains. One day, her aunt comes back to take Heidi to Frankfurt to be a loving companion for a rich invalid, Clara. Over there, in a big city, away from the mountains which she sorely misses, Heidi becomes good friends with Clara but she can never forget her beloved Alps. She eventually falls grossly ill and the only remedy for her is to return. In summer, Clara visits Heidi in the Alps. Clara’s stay and the healthy mountain air help cure her.

‘Heidi’ is an immensely touching story. Its vivid and mesmerising descriptions are memorable  long after the reader has finished the book. Heidi’s cute adventures, her simple mountain life with Peter, her grandfather and the goats, her love  and her charm for everything are perfect. The Swiss mountains are more than just picture perfect; they are nothing short of paradise in the book.

‘Heidi’ has a childish feel to it and that is its strongest point beside the scenic Swiss Alps where it is set. Even though you will find this book tucked away in the ‘Children’ Classic’ in most bookstores, it can be read by anyone: an adult or a child. It will appeal to any age group. Anyone who loves nature, children, the mountains and their sense of purity, will find ‘Heidi’ pleasurable and three times better than any Bollywood film or travel show!

Angels and Demons

As I said in my 1st post, my favourite genre of books is detective fiction and second favourite  is thriller, suspense and crime fiction. This genre’s sheer fast pace and its gripping intensity gets me completely hooked. So it is no wonder that ‘Angels and Demons‘ by Dan Brown got me completely hooked as well.

It is actually a prequel to ‘Da Vinci Code’ but for some reasons unknown to me, Dan Brown wrote ‘Angels and Demons‘ after ‘Da Vinci Code.’ Well, let’s not dwell on that for now, lets move on to the story.

When physicist Leonardo Vetra is brutally murdered in his lab at CERN(Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire) in Switzerland, Robert Langdon, a famous Harvard professor of religious iconology, finds himself in a deep, destructive mess he didn’t ask for. To find the murderer, he teams up with Vetra’s daughter, Vittoria and in the perilous journey, they discover a heinous plot hatched by Illuminati, an organisation which was believed to be defunct, in which they plan to blow up the whole Vatican City. Robert and Vittoria cross through dangerous territories, race against time and overcome several twists and turns to eventually unearth shocking truths and  know the murderer’s identity in what is a very surprising and shocking end.

The story is a triumph in suspense fiction because it is unusually high on excitement and is brimming with nail biting scenes. ‘Angels and Demons‘ is very unique because of the eclectic characters that are involved in the book. There has hardly(or perhaps never?) ever been a thriller which has a symbologist, a physicist, CERN, the entire Vatican city and several other singular characters together.Langdon and Vittoria’s journey takes us to innumerable intriguing places-not just the inner sanctums of CERN but also The Sistine Chapel, The Secret Vatican Archives, Piazza Novona, Pantheon and so many more. This unusual mix makes ‘Angles and Demons’ one hell of an adventurous and explosive tale that will keep any reader on the edge of their seats throughout. Like the myriad characters, the book  has so many different elements that join together to form a perfect thriller. ‘Angels and Demons‘ not only has science but also religion, history, legends, architecture and of course gruesome murders, frantic suspense and dollops of mystery.

It is one genius novel and simply unputdownable!

A Thousand Splendid Suns-Hauntingly Beautiful

It is difficult to describe in words what I exactly felt and thought about ‘A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS‘ by Khaled Hosseini because it was so unique and personal. I will still attempt to write a review on the book. Hopefully it will be useful.

It is one of those rare gem of a book that elicits a thousand emotions-from deep despair to breathtaking bliss to anguish and anger to innocent happiness. This book is simply-and there is no other word for it-REAL.It is not based on a true story but the incidents could and have happened to millions of people in Afghanistan. I really loved this book simply because it is deeply moving and touching and in a sense it is not just a book but a reality-a harsh one- that Afghans faced and continue to face after the Russian invasion in 1979.

The story is about two girls-Mariam and Laila and how their lives intertwined as a result of circumstances. Mariam is a bastard. Her father, Jalil Khan, is a rich businessman in Herat(Mariam’s birthplace) who got his housekeeper(Mariam’s mom, Nana) pregnant. Mariam is conveniently married off in Kabul to a tyrant, Rasheed, at a tender age of fifteen. Laila, by a brutal turn of circumstances, ends up in Rasheed’s house. Initially hostility reigns between Mariam and Laila but gradually, they become close and a marvelous friendship amidst utter breakdown and destruction develops. The end of the story is hopeful, a poignant display of love and survival.

One of the misunderstandings about the books is that it is entirely set during the Taliban’s rule. However, in fact, only a part of the book is set during that time period. The story spans from 1960s’ to the early 200s’. The story, thus provides a brief history lesson of Afghanistan.

For me, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns‘ was absolutely flawless. The narrative was beautiful. It essentially deals with the brutality that women face in Afghanistan due to harsh patriarchy. These themes can be relevant among indian readers as even in India, women are still suppressed and denied freedom(although perhaps not at such an extreme level as in Afghanistan).

For many people, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns‘ was depressing because of the sad events. It was painful, yes, and it did leave me shocked at some passages but I did not find it depressing. To only read happy books with cliched and predictable endings is stupid for me because then you are not being aware of the problems around the world. I agree that is is highly emotional, very sad but then it is reality. Countless women have faced and still face such horrors and discrimination in their lives. I was crying throughout the book and I do not think there is anyone who wouldn’t be moved by this singular story.

It is definitely a must read and if you can’t even read it, just think about those for whom it was not just a book they could ignore but life that they faced every single day.

Great Gatsby

Great Gatsby‘ by Scott Fitzgerald was not a book I would usually pick to read(although my Junior College teacher did recommend this book). And so I read this book as part of my English Literature class.

What did I think of this book?

Frankly, this book is brilliant and proffers a valuable insight into the America of 1920s’. However, in order to actually understand the myriad symbolism, the nuances and the general feel and brilliance of the book, one probably has to read the book more than once(unless one is an amazing reader who can pick up symbolism on the first read itself). A background knowledge of the author and his circumstances as well as his feelings when writing the book will go a long way in helping the reader understand the general purpose of ‘Great Gatsby‘.

That said, I’ll proceed to the story. As the title suggests its about a man named Jay Gatsby who belongs to the the increasing number of nouveau riche people springing up in the US in the 1920s’, who throws a gazillion grand, elaborate parties in his equally splendid mansion. The narrator is Gatsby’s neighbour Nick Carraway. The story represents the utter degradation of American society and its people by weaving its way through Nick’s perceptions and the love between the enigmatic Gatsby and Nick’s cousin Daisy. Subtly Fitzgerald has conveyed why Gatsby is great and has thus, by doing this, justified the title of the novel.

Great Gatsby‘ is replete with symbols such as the ‘green light’ and the ‘valley of ashes.’ It can be seen as a love story or as a comment on the hollowness of the American dream or as a symbolic novel. I see it as a mix of all three. I will refrain from reviewing Fitzgerald’s writing style and the characters. The former because I do not think I am qualified and knowledgeable to do that and the latter because I can write pages and pages of character analysis after having studied the novel so thoroughly. And so many pages on just that one topic can be downright boring!

To conclude I would definitely put ‘Great Gatsby‘ on my ‘must-read’ list because of the story, its representation of the Jazz Age from a completely different angle, an angle where the 1920s’ is not all glamorous but in fact quite superficial and status centered; its writing and its unique symbolism. However the book requires mental effort  as understanding its purpose can be difficult(I too understood the book wholly only after our English Literature madam explained it brilliantly). So for those  reading for pleasure and time pass, this is not the book for you because without understanding the actual purpose, the story will appear merely ordinary(which it is not).However for the classic literature fans and those with an intellectual bend, ‘Great Gatsby‘ is really great!

Keep Off The Grass

I like Indian writers. There is just something about their writing that I connect to and after reading an obscure review in an equally obscure newspaper about Karan Bajaj’s ‘Keep Off The Grass’ that  I decided to read it. The prologue itself got me really excited and the rest of the books lived unto my expectations completely!

In a nutshell the story is about Samrat Ratan, a 25 yr old US born investment banker on Wall Street, who is dissatisfied with his job and thus enrolls in IIM so he can experience India and achieve happiness that eluded him in the US.

The story might come across as the usual ‘finding your roots ‘ type of a book but surprisingly it is not. The story is devoid of cliches, quite unpredictable as Karan Bajaj skillfully takes us on Samrat’s unique and bizarre journey in India. It is very insightful and it forces us(well at least me) to ask questions about the happiness in material things and the corporate world’s burgeoning competition. There are moments in the book in which existentialist questions do come up. Though this does not mean that the story is all about that. His style of writing is also very impressive- not very decorative but simple and easy to read and comprehend. Yet it does not come across as amateurish. One of my main fears was the use of too much management jargon because I may not be able to understand it because I am not familiar with it. However he has used that jargon minimally. He has also constructed the story well with each ending line of the chapter becoming the title of the next chapter.

The main character, Samrat Ratan, is a confused soul who is in a desperate search for things we all look for- mainly happiness. The other main characters are his two best friends in IIM, Shine Sarkar and Vinod Singh. Shine Sarkar’s theories and opinions on practically everything like marijuana or the nature of existence are quirky and interesting yet at times a bit depressing and cynical(but I usually like his ideas).His name ‘Shine Sarkar’ can be perceived as referring to the actual government who like the character can often be quite lazy and at times downright depraved. Also in the climax, his name can be drawn as a parallel to the fact that the government and those associated with it can always get way from any kind of trouble. Vinod Singh’s friendly, warm behavior an his patriotism are well carved and I just wished that there were more like him in India.

On the negative side, I think that the characters should have had more depth and description especially in terms of looks and past lives and behavior. There is also no main female characters-just rough sketches of them like Radha, Christine or Sandhya(although I am glad he has not written a stupidly mushy love story about Samrat falling in love and marrying an Indian girl as a sure means to happiness). His descriptions of India are not refreshingly new(except the Jaisalmer part of the book).

On the whole, this book is a good read with insightful thoughts and questions and a very surprising and unpredictable end. It is honestly written and is quite interesting. The book hovers between light and relatively heavy reading. It is definitely worth a read! 🙂

Hello world!

Heya, My name is Aakanksha Singh. I live in Mumbai in India. I love doing  loads of fun stuff and one of them is reading. I love reading books of any genre, mostly fiction. My favorite genre is detective novels or crime and suspense. I do like different genres but somehow I really do not like reading romantic novels particularly mills and boons. My favorite books include the Harry Potter series, Heidi, Oliver Twist, Tell Me Your Dreams, Da Vinci Code, Agatha Christie novels and so many more!!!!!! I am a complete bookworm!

In this blog, I will post my reviews on some books that I have read. Hopefully these reviews will help you all in knowing the books better. So enjoy your stay here and post comments on anything you want. Any constructive criticism is also welcome!!!!