THE STATIONERY SHOP BY MARJAN KAMLI

Genre- Historical fiction/Romance

Rating- 4/5

Look at love
How it tangles
With the one fallen in love
Look at spirit
How it fuses with earth
Giving it new life

Roya, a teenage girl who loves to visit the local stationery shop.  Mr. Fakhri the owner of the stationery shop keeps all the work of famous Persian  poets like Rumi, Hafez and translated work of famous English writers.

That fateful Tuesday when Roya was touring the shelves of the stationery shop and was reading one of her favorites; Rumi, she met Bahman Aslan. Mr. Fakhri said about him that he is the boy who would change the world. Roya didn’t know by then that he will actually be the boy who would change the world, her entire world.

They met, fell in love and were engaged. There tooka turn of events and they both decided to elope. Oh! Young love! As decided to meet at a square Roya waited for Bahman but found her in the midst of a political riot that took place on that square. Mr. Fakhri came for her but before he could say anything to her, he was shot dead.  Her beloved stationery shop was burned to ashes and Bahman did not turn up on the square. That was the day young Roya lost everything; Mr.Fakhri, the stationery shop, Bahman, smile and hope. That was 1953.

The Iran that Roya and her family rooted for was changing and this forced Roya’s father to send his both daughters abroad to study, to become next Helen Keller or Marie Curie.

60 years later. When Roya is seventy seven years old and married, she discovers that Bahman is in US. Roya is crowded by so many questions, the flashbacks and need for the closure.

This book is about family, Rumi’s poem, politics, class, love, heartbreaks and secrets. There are events that will pop up when you would least expect them. There are incidents when you will close the book and question everything. You will learn about Iranian culture and festivals.

The characters (even small ones) will stick by you long after you have finished this book. You are in for a ride.

But the biggest question that will keep you going will be, Why did Bahman did not turn up that day on the square?

A cozy and a thoughtful read.

by- Annice Dominic

A BURNING by Megha Majumdar

Debutante Novel of MEGHA MAJUMDAR

Genre: Political Fiction
Rating- 3.8/5

“This is how my life is going forward- some insult in my face, some sweet in my mouth.”- Lovely

Jivan,  PT Sir and Lovely. The characters divided by religious backgrounds, gender and life purpose.

Jivan is a Muslim girl from slums who is a responsible daughter. One Facebook comment taking a jab on the government regarding terrorist attack and she landed in jail.

Lovely a transgender driven by the fire in her belly to become an A Lister actress fights the general notion of belonging to a ‘different’ gender. She learns English from Jivan.

PT sir is a simple family man with an income to list himself in a lower middle class family. He is driven by his spirit to do something for the country lands himself with a political party. He is the sports sir in the same school where Jivan studied.

That’s how their life intersected.

In this cautionary tale Majumdar took a risk by writing from the vantage points of three main characters. This novel will make you think twice before you post anything on the social media. It will hit you hard with the fact that in this contemporary India  people with particular religion pay huge cost.

And above all, the very base on which this novel stands-POLITICS, can be brutal.

Apart from the main characters, other characters were like fireflies  blinking in the dark night, important to give different perspectives.
Aruni Maa, Jivan’s parents, Americandi, Mr. Denath these are the characters that played pivotal role if moulding the main ccharacters.

Megha Majumdar did a great job in her debutante novel by writing about the reality of different aspects of the society. Her writing is raw and is for the mass. She used lucid language which can easily connect the reader with the characters’ life.

I would give this a 3.8 stars as a debut novel of the writer. Looking forward to read more from her.

By: Annice Dominic

… This Too Shall Pass

I know you are hurting. I know you have tried solitude, drugs and even laughter to numb the screeching pain.

I know you are anxious and paranoid and breaking silently.

I know you are stuck and not only within these four walls but also in your mind; the worst place to be trapped in.

And I am here to tell you, ‘it’s okay!’ It’s okay to feel vulnerable. That’s a part of being human. It’s scary but worth it. We all have been there and we have different ways of dealing with things.

I want to tell you to just hold on a little bit longer. Just to see one more sunrise, one more rainbow, one more heartbreak.

Don’t be hard on yourself. This too shall pass; just grasp tightly to that one person, one song, one book and you will be just fine.

  • a. dom

MY SINGLE FRIEND BY JANE COSTELLO

Genre – Romantic comedy

Rating– 4 / 5

Lucy and Henry are best friends since childhood and now roommates. Henry is a studious, spectacles-wearing nerd and Lucy is smart and creative and independent woman.

They both are opposites with only one thing in common; they both don’t have a substantial love life. Forget great, not even mentionable love life. Henry is drab, surrounded by books and hence SINGLE whereas Lucy pretends to be someone else while dating and hence, ends up heartbroken and SINGLE.

One fine day Lucy with her other two girls friends decided to give Henry a makeover; just for fun. This project unleashes the real Henry; sexy, smart and funny. Lucy is astonished as well as confused about her feelings for Henry, her best friend! Is the Henry she knew changed? Who is he and what will happen to their friendship?

MY SINGLE FRIEND has every element that a chick-flicks and rom-coms MUST have. It is funny and I found myself laughing out loud at many instances. More than Lucy, I like the characters of Dominique and Henry. It’s a fast read and page turner and you will enjoy every bit of it.

Girls are surely to fall in love with the nerdy Henry-before the makeover. It’s a light read which I prefer picking up after and intense read. I will suggest girls to read this if you are into chick-flicks also guys who secretly love them.

By- Annice Dominic

THE SCARECROW BY MICHAEL CONNLLEY

Genre – Crime Mystery

Rating– 3.5 / 5

Jack McEvoy is a famous crime reporter and a bestselling author of the novel that he investigated himself. Unfortunately this was almost a decade ago and he is about to get laid from the newspaper he is working with due to technology invasion and budget cut.

Before leaving the job he has two weeks to train his replacement Angela keeping his pride in the back seat. He decides to take control of his otherwise boring life and write a killer new novel.

In the course of the investigation of a young drug dealer who was falsely charged of the murder of a bar dancer, Jack stumbles upon something bigger and grave. He is now chasing the serial killer of the women with special body type.

First thing first, this is not The Poet so comparing it would be a waste. (I did this and did affect my ratings) The read was gripping and it tore open the sad reality of the print media after the arrival of the blog culture. There was a time I was terrified of the fact that how easily your every move could be tracked. It’s like they know when you breathe in and when you breathe out.

Unlike other thriller stories, the readers were aware who the killer was right from the very beginning and we read through his POV.

Though the ending was already known to us but still it could have been dramatically climatic. Right from the start where the characters were described, I could tell the story line. Faithful readers of Connlley would definitely agree that this was his not so “Michael Connlley” work. But again, it’s difficult to rise every time to the bar he has set for himself.

by- Annice Dominic

KNOTS AND CROSSES BY IAN RANKIN

Genre – Crime Mystery

Rating– 3.5 / 5

Publisher– Orion

Detective John Rebus is a detective in Edinburg. His ordinary neighbourhood city is suddenly terrorised by serial killings of young girls. He is put on this case. In the meantime, he is receiving anonymous cryptic letters which he fails to understand.

Failed marriage and cold relationship at the work place made Rebus vulnerable to many things. Once a part of Britain’s SAS, Rebus hides underneath a lot which he suffers every night.

As the terrifying killings proceeds, Rebus realises that the killing has something to do with the letters but he could never connect that the answer lies in his past from which he was trying to run from years.

This is the first book in the Rebus’ series. For me the best part is the character revelation of the antagonist. He is sharp, sly and what I think makes a man most dangerous; calm. Though the book is the foundation of the series, it’s a fast read and easily lets the reader connect to the characters.

Though to me the mystery was extremely detached from the solution and slightly towards the not-so-believable side but as a debut novel for the series its quite appalling and I would definitely read others in the Rebus series.

By- Annice Dominic

…to all the believers

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We are humans. We don’t learn from our mistakes. We idolize them, write books and create master pieces of those “mistakes”.

When this is all over, which seems like an eternity, we will be back to “normal” I guess.

What will be considered as ‘normal’ now? I think the definition will change. More love? More laugh? More pain? More determination? Maybe.

I love the quote by Hafiz, Even after all this time the Sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.”

Isn’t that true? The sun still rises, in the east. The moon still pulls oceans with its gravity and the birds never forget to sing in the morning. The dew drops are settling on the blades of the grass and the lady bird taking small flights. The bees are still savoring the nectar of thousands of flowers and building the comb with sweet potion.

Then what will change? We? Humans? I hope. God I hope that we change, for good this time. We are greedy, fragile and egoistic beings who “think” we own this world. That’s the primary characteristics of being a fool. We are fools.

But this is for all the believers. This is for the fools who know we are nothing. This is for the misfits, artists, loners, and self-doubting people. I know you are still there. We may be handful, but we do exist.

Keep believing that the world is still beautiful. That this world, that we call our home, is ruthless sometimes. It knows how to balance out things and keeping the morality alive.

Keep writing from your hurt. Keep singing from that broken crack of your heart. Keep painting from the blood.

Just don’t stop!

 

  • Annice Dominic

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

*Book review*

Rating: 4/5

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Rich Mr. Ackroyd is carrying a dark secret about his lover, Mrs. Ferrars. Before they could ever talk about it, she kills herself as she was blackmailed by someone who knew her secret. Mr. Ackroyd, heart broken and agitated wanted to know the blackmailer that Mrs. Ferrars mentioned in a secret letter. But before the untold could ever surface, he was murdered brutally in his own mansion.

Just when Hercule Poirot thought of retiring and living in the country side, he landed up on this case. Dr. James Sheppard, also the narrator, accompanied  Poirot in the investigation. On several occasions Hercule Poirot compared Dr. Sheppard to his favorite partner Hastings. This made the narrator an absolutely important character.

There is no dearth of suspects but surely of evidences. And here Hercule Poirot used his ‘little grey cells’ to go deep and discovered something that he was not prepared for.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd revolves around time line. At exact what time the murder took place and where were all the suspects. Every minute mattered. In the process of uncovering the truth, many foul secrets are surfaced. And we the reader enjoyed it from everybody’s vantage point.

Ms. Christie has again proved why she is known as the ‘Queen of Crime’. Discovering the murderer will definitely come like the bolt from the blue.

 

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

*Book review* (no spoilers)

Genre: Historical  fiction.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

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Its 1957, Madrid. Under the dictatorship of General Franco, Spaniards are living (or rather surviving) the war after the war. Spain is hiding dark and deep secrets. Everyone in the story is hiding something. Secrets are bad.

Daniel Matheson. An America oil tycoon’s son. He is eighteen and full of dreams of being a photo journalist. Spain has opened its arms for tourism promising new world to outsider, while shutting the doors and windows for the Spaniards.

Ana.  A maid in the hotel where Daniel stayed with his parents. They meet and fell in love. Simple? No. Love stories don’t thrive easily in wars. Ana and his family are hiding secrets from everyone, even from themselves.

Among all the secrets and war and sunshine in Spain, Daniel finds himself asking questions through his photographs. Unable to perceive answers he discovers Ana to be the only person who understands him. The tour for Matheson family is about to end and so the bond build over the hot days in Spain. Or is it?

Though I am not a big fan of historical fiction, I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. Ruta is brilliant in her writing where she did not exaggerate any part of romance or Spain under the dictatorship. It was written in simple language. The characters that she created were so real and raw, that I wished I was there in the 60s (hypothetically)

Few moments between Daniel and Ana, Fuga and Rafa were so poignant that I re-read some of the lines describing their exchange of emotions, words and silence. These moments were thought provoking and were the foundation of story.

Each and every character was an integral part that created this novel into a heart-wrenching story. Author was smart in describing the back story of the characters justifying why they were the way they were. They developed strongly.

They say that love can enter even through the tiniest crack in the wall. Will this happen with Daniel and Ana? Even when there are almost two decades between them and plethora of secrets and silence?

This book left me thinking what humans are capable of; love, hate, endurance and patience. And now I have to read murder mystery, my rebound read.

  • Annice Dominic

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

*Book review* (no spoilers)

Genre: Adult fiction.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

This novel is the one of the few novels that stired the deepest emotions in me. I finished reading it in two days as I was unable to put this one down.

It’s an young adult fiction. A beautiful yet simple story of two teenage boys. Ari and Dante. Completely opposite of each other yet complimenting at the same time.

This book is modest. So modest that its unbelievably special and beautiful. The characters try to discover the secrets of the universe, and that only by going deep within and being vulnerable they will be able to unfold the truth.

The friendship that Ari and Dante developed was delightful to read. Some phrases, messages and quotes mentioned will make you go back to read them again second time so that they may seep deep into you.

If I have to mention the book in the simplest way, it would be that after when I finished reading it I just held it and cried. It was that beautiful.

How can a book be so beautiful? .