October 01, 2016

Book Review:


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by John Tiffany
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For the sheer nostalgia, for reintroducing us to Hogwarts, for making us wish this series had never ended so we never had to experience this bittersweet feeling, I rate this a five on five.
Scorpious Malfoy is a delightful addition while many of our usual suspects aren't as spicy as one would like them to be. There is a lack of descriptions, of the quirky tidbits that Rowling amply uses in Thorne's prose. While as a play one can imagine the wondrous stagecraft it could induce, as a book, it falls short of conjuring the rich details that the Potter books generally come with.
What is still beautiful is the magic. Hogwarts is still alive, in a better less darker world. It is unconvincing and insufficient in many parts making us crane our necks to see the sidelines for what Thorne missed to add. What is Hagrid upto now? Are Molly and Arthur still around? How is George holding up? And why are Harry's other two kids so insignificant? In a play, the above questions can easily be pushed to the backstage. As a book (although simply a script), you demand that we engage more. After all, we've been around, ever since ' The Boy who Lived'.

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August 12, 2016

Book Review: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was just what I needed to pull me out and get me to face what I should become - a disciplined half-ass! I tried it as an audiobook and Gilbert's voice sure made the book more personal. I felt like a friendly senior writer, who I often have coffee with in the college canteen, was chatting with me and passing on the wisdom.

The whole book is wrapped on that idea - to get you to intimately view the creative process and become acquainted with it; not demonise it into a warped depression-loving monster that many of us shape it into. I loved the anecdotes she had dispersed across the book - they made every point she made more relatable and instilled a "hey, I can do that!" kind of confidence within.

If you are a writer/artist/pursuer of any type of creative living, this is definitely a book you should listen/read. I highly recommend the audiobook, but I am sure reading this is going to be extremely pleasant, as well.

Overall, her book already got me to begin writing a few pages everyday and that loosely translates to the fact that the big magic is a fact! :)

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May 05, 2016

Truly Transporting Prose: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A Book Review

Book Review of Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Purple hibiscus was a window into the life and politics in Nigeria through the eyes of Kambili, the narrator. I haven't encountered an author in recent times who could captivate me in a way that I forgot my surroundings, and instead smelt the fufu cooking in Sisi's kitchen or the wet sand of Nsukku's rain. Adichie's prose is simple yet transporting, so intimate that you get into the garb of the characters and throb with their pain and joys.

The characters are so intricately etched that you are invested in the story throughout, egging them on mentally as you turn every page. The book makes you hungry to try out the African cuisine. I searched the internet to source a place where I can buy their colourful wrappers. And while I am at it, maybe I will try some cornrows in my hair as well! Adichie is that good in convincing us about the beauty, tradition and richness of the land.

Kambili's thoughts - from fearful to independent - are so gently evolving that we, as readers also grow with her and the story. The political instability of an entire nation is wonderfully portrayed in the microcosm of Kambili's life.

The best characterisation is probably that of Eugene; you definitely have not seen such a layered believable and scary human being anywhere in the books. The dichotomy in which religion exists in today's world - destructive and constructive - is displayed in the contrasting natures of Eugene and Father Amadi.

I cannot stop thinking about the book although it is over a week since I finished reading it. This is a simple tale so well told that it keeps tugging at your insides asking questions on life, religion, growing up and truth.

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April 21, 2016

The True Art Of Filmmaking- In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch: A Book Review

In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Walter Murch is a kindred spirit. He effortlessly blends philosophy and films, magic and editing and brings forth a book that arouses the thinker in you.

His words make you curious enough to trace paths across movies you have loved and wonder at how much was planned and how much emerged out of inexplicable coincidences. He redefines everything you thought about films; every blink matters and a film is as immersive as the dedication and submission of its crew to its making.

The insights are not just in films but spills over to such lengths and breadths of life and choices that I was blown over by this man's intelligence.

Every filmmaker and writer needs to read this - this is a Bible on craft!

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April 11, 2016

The Absorbing Non-Fiction Novel -In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: A Book Review


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant and evocative with detailed psychological descriptions, In Cold Blood by Capote is one of the best I have read on crime. So used to the 'detective' mileu I devoured as a child, this sensitive, engrossing and striking account of a cold-blooded murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb made a refreshing literary change.

'In Cold Blood' is intense and viscous. What is most astounding about this book is its narrative structuring, flow and the neutrality of tone in profiling murderers; all of it adding up to chill you to the bone!

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An Endearing Biography Of A Dog - The Call Of The Wild by Jack London: A Book Review


The Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is always a good idea to drift off your comfort zone and attempt a new genre. When I picked up Jack London's 'The Call of The Wild' it was as much a dare to myself as it was the comfort that it was a thin volume even if it didn't work on me.

I was pleasantly surprised as I got pulled more and more into the life of the half St. Bernard, half Scotch Shepherd, Buck. His growth in character and sheer physical strength through his diverse adventures riveted me.

Be it the bleak icy trails or the forest teeming with lives, they were descriptive enough to make one feel like they are witnesses to the landscapes. One is in Buck's mind throughout - one could hear the calls of his ancestral wolf packs as much as he did - such was the magic of London's vivid prose.

The book held me in its clutches in a manner not unlike Buck holding Thornton's hand between his teeth in wild loyal love.

The Call of The Wild is a brilliant book about the life of a dog that also raises pertinent questions on how we treat the non-human life around us. A must read!

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A textured masterpiece! Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez: A Book Review


Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a texture to this book. During the younger days of Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza, it is smooth- like notes of a song, the soft touch of silk and pears. Their middle ages are like the almonds that are referenced in the book - hard shelled and grainy. And old age is amoebic, shifting textures every day, unpredictable, even wild.

The book absorbed me with its details, made me smell, taste, feel the lives the protagonist lived. Although in parts, I felt the love of Ariza's a little impossible to comprehend and laborious, I simply could not stop reading. you are so drawn into their lives, witnessing the old world ways of courtship, love and waiting that it is a shock when you put it down and realize you live in a different one.

The book is lush; meant only for those who want to get lost in the pages and the labours of love.
It is a beautiful book, but quite a long read!

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Why in the world was this book panned? The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: A Book Review


The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am still wondering what stopped this book from becoming the bestseller it deserved to be. Indeed 'a big novel about a small town', The Casual Vacancy showcases Rowling's prowess as a plotter. She creates a detailed world out of Pagford, with characters whose motives and pasts are as exciting as her engaging style of writing about them.

The character off Krystal Weedon is probably one of Rowling's best till date. To have fleshed out the confused teenager coming from a disturbed background, with responsibilities too major to bear stuck in a prim little town atmosphere where she cannot even aspire to straighten out and belong was sheer genius. The dialogues throughout the book were just so real. The book truly played out like a film in my head.

I couldn't part from the book for a second and I relished every page of it. Rowling really needs to write more such prose.

I have no idea why anyone panned this book!

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Maira Gall