Poetic pen

Tell a Tale

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

Imagine you are living your life as usual with a family to come home to and work that you look forward to. The future seems bright and suddenly one day you wake up as a slave. You try to get out of that nightmare, but the harder you try, the more the reality hits right on your face. That's exactly Solomon Northup experienced, and his misery lasted for whole big 12 years before he was finally rescued.

Based on a true story, this book is a memoir of those twelve years spent by the author. Born a free man in New York, Solomon Northup was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery.

While we sit in our cozy beds and curl up with a book - this book; we feel terrified and extremely sorry for the misery they must have gone through. It is that moment of truth we must realize and thank the generations before us for making us come to a world where we can raise our voice - where we do not need to prove that we are free!

The story is heart wrenching and keep the reader on its toes. The best part is that is unexaggerated - the author has very clearly stated bad ad bad and good as good. Yes, a slave he was - but he was glad to be a slave to a good human at heart.

Then, there is a short story inside about a mother and her two children. The lines below left me sore in throat. I was speechless. This violation of innocence is the worst part about child trafficking. Poor little souls have no idea wat they have been tricked or forced into. All they want is love and that warm hug from their family. I always have goosebumps thinking of the sudden and cruel realities of evil being thrown upon them. I am sure I cannot even imagine a child earning to obey out of fear when just hours or days before everyone was at his or her service.

"The lad was a sprightly child, that answered to the name of Randall. Most of the time he was playing about the yard, but occasionally would cry, calling for his mother, and wondering when she would come. His mother’s absence seemed to be the great and only grief in his little heart. He was too young to realize his condition, and when the memory of his mother was not in his mind, he amused us with his pleasant pranks."

It was not only the child, the plea and wails of the mother too - which obviously fell on deaf ears and blind eyes. I could not help but cry my heart out on those pages.

"Life is dear to every living thing; the worm that crawls upon the ground will struggle for it."

The book is full of lines and phrases I went back and reread to confirm if I comprehended it correctly. This was such an eyeopener and realization of sad realities and bitter truth. We are sitting in the comfort of our house and wonder if we are doing too much work or too little! Imagine a slave who is forced to do some work which he is constantly dreading upon to not to be in less amount than the day before and at the same time praying that it's not more too - for that would set the new standard right then and there.

Below are some lines so aptly describe the reason of being someone so cruel ad stonehearted. As we say - it's not a person who is wrong it's the education and environment around him/her that's to blame:

"It is not the fault of the slaveholder that he is cruel, so much as it is the fault of the system under which he lives. He cannot withstand the influence of habit and associations that surround him. Taught from earliest childhood, by all that he sees and hears, that the rod is for the slave’s back, he will not be apt to change his opinions in mature years."

While the author was rescued and became free, I could not help but wonder about the fate of his fellow mates specially those who were the slaves of some cruel men!

Would I recommend it to my friends: YES! BUT WITH A WARNING OF BEING READY TO BE SCARED AND BE THANKFUL TO TIMES THEY ARE LIVING IN.

I picked up the free copy from Amazon classics. The book is currently in public domain and can be easily read free of cost. If once does wish to go ahead and buy it – it’s a great book to add to that bookshelf as-well.

IF you wish to add “Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup” to your bookshelf, visit the links below to purchase the book from Amazon. Below are some links. Alternatively, go to the Amazon search results and pick the publisher or price you are comfortable with:

    

Note: I may get a small commission if you purchase using them - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Monday, August 17, 2020

to you, with love by Shravya Bhinder

The Blurb: Right from their childhood, Sahil and Arya have been very different from each other. While Sahil is careless, carefree, 'new money' and 'the brat', Arya is too sensitive, reserved, shy and not easy to talk to. And that is probably what attracts Sahil to her. Slowly and very delicately their story progresses, and in comes love and things begin to take on a golden hue.

However, soon their life begins to unravel. Sahil learns why Arya is so private when the most damning truth about her life is revealed. And as soon as they cross that bridge and move on, another cruel blow threatens to tear them apart.

It's now about a life beyond life, and about a love somewhere among the stars . . .

How Did I Like The Book:

A love story after so long! I am a sucker for romance books and ‘to you, with love by Shravya Bhinder’ gave a much-needed refresher I need to get back to reading. 

It is a cliché love story which we all pretend to detest yet enjoy it to our heart. These are the stories we relate to the most.

 What I liked:

1.    Easy read - It was an easy to finish book. The author chose not so fancy language and writing style.

2.    Notes - Yes, yet again the use of little love notes made me fall for the book.

3.    Ending - second half of the last chapter was the one I liked the most. 

 What I did not like:

1.    Predictable - the story line and incidents were too predictable. I did not mind them, but some unexpected turn of events would have added the icing on the cake.

2.    Use of phrases like, I would not want to share the personal details, I would come to it latter etc. They could just have been avoided.

3.    Spelling mistake - Page 120 - “I lifted the back rimmed glasses off her face...”

 There were not many lines I felt like noting down. Here is one. 


 It’s a book for someone who wants a small break and can be enjoyed over a cup of coffee.

Would I recommend it to a friend? Hmm... maybe not. 

But that does not mean that I did not like it. I did enjoy reading it. It made me smile and cry once or twice. It’s an average love story and is worth a try.

IF you wish to add to you, with love by Shravya Bhinder to your bookshelf, visit the links below to purchase the book from Amazon.


      

Note: I may get a small commission if you purchase using them - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Homeschooling Activity For Kids - Move Like An Animal

Homeschooling is the in term these days and parents are bound to work on it willingly and unwillingly. For us, it has turned out to a time we do various activities at home (mostly assigned by school only) for fun learning.

 Here, I would be writing about one such activity which looks very simple and just for fun, but has it's own set of educative value.

 All we need for this activity to do is an enthusiastic child, paper and pen/sketch pen/pencil. Here it goes.

1. Cut the paper into small pieces/chits.

2. Draw an animal and write the action to be followed. Below are some samples, but any animal and it’s activity which seems easy to imitate can be written:

a.    Slither like a snake

b.    Chomp like an alligator

c.    Swing like a monkey

d.    Stretch like a Giraff

e.    Roll like a pig

f.    Roar like a lion

g.    Hop like a bunny

h.    Leap like a frog

i.      Chew like a cow,etc

     3. Fold the chits.

 

Child/player will pick one chit then he/she will name the animal and read the sentence (parents can help the learners – this would be needed only once or twice after that they would remember it with animal image). Then child does the action written in the chit Repeat until all animals in the chits are done.

Here is our DIY video for the same. I did the cutting if chits, writing and drawing. The kiddos helped me color the same. Elder siblings can be asked to the parts of cutting, drawing and writing. It would give them a lot of confidence and that sense of responsibility.

Do watch till end to see the enthusiasm and big smiles on kiddos faces. We have the chits saved and it’s a go to game anytime anyday.

 

Child/player will pick one chit then he/she will name the animal and read the sentence (parents can help the learners – this would be needed only once or twice after that they would remember it with animal image). Then child does the action written in the chit Repeat until all animals in the chits are done.

Here is our DIY video for the same. I did the cutting if chits, writing and drawing. The kiddos helped me color the same. Elder siblings can be asked to the parts of cutting, drawing and writing. It would give them a lot of confidence and that sense of responsibility.

Do watch till end to see the enthusiasm and big smiles on kiddos faces. We have the chits saved and it’s a go to game anytime any-day.

This is a simple and fun activity which helps the children develop their listening skills, teaches them to follow instructions and enhances their vocabulary in early years.

Playing this fun game brings a lot of laughter into the house and makes the sibling and friendship bond stronger.

As the children move and jump sound, they get to exercise their tiny bodies.

Do let us know if you decide to try it out. We would love to her out how it went...

Monday, April 27, 2020

Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale

I saw the "Milk Teeth" by Amrita Mahale at one of the counter on duty free at airport. Like a common citizen, thought of checking the cost at amazon before buying, saw it free on amazon and tapped buy now! Yes, that's how this book entered my Kindle.

Almost all the reviews I read said that it's a true story of Mumbai, of the people of Bombay. Honestly, That put me off initially. But thankfully I kept my hold and went ahead with the reading.

I am not a Mumbaikar. I am a Delihite by birth, education and living. But does that mean I do not relate to most of the book? I mean, there have been communal riots in Delhi also, so dreaded bomb blasts, middle class values, morals, all of it. Mumbai has locals, Delhi has have the blue line and DTC buses I have hanged to the doors of, sandwiched between sweaty people and I I dare say, molested in manners I would not like my parents to know ever. The brutal truth and fact that I and my friends and families have looked for that one sign of religion and faith before boarding an auto-riksha or taking a deep breath realizing later on cannot be denied. I have watched some jungles of Delhi turning into high-rise set of buildings which in turn are a new hub of robbers/crimes of all sorts just as jungles were thanks to the so called privacy of societies and barren roads adjacent to those boundaries. I have watched my own parents grow old in front of myself, saving every penny to pay my school fee, to buy that Maruti 800, to get their daughter married and of-course investing all they had into a brand new structure we call reconstructed home. I have witnessed the moral values of middle class and so called upper middle class families taking flips with every stage of life and it's turns. I have seen love and romances of every form blossoming, getting rotten and many many times pretending to be long forgotten right in front of my eyes and my circle.

So yes, I could relate it all very well with "Milk Teeth" by Amrita Mahale.

The writing style of Amrita Mahale - not too difficult to make one pick a dictionary every now and then, yet not too easy to let it sink in by just skimming through is really appreciated.
I loved the little childhood fights, teenage romance which took and evolved over time and still not making the plot to a love story.
There were a few lines which made way to my notes and thus make a nice re-read.

Is there anything I did not like about the book?
Yes, I hope the writer had managed to keep me hooked right from the beginning. It took me a while and a small push to not turn to skim reading or even worst, quitting in between. Had it been gathered my attention a little earlier, that one star could  have been here.

To make a summary, I can say that Milk Teeth is the story of every Indian born in mid 1980's. The novel very subtly depicts hushed hypocrisy of Indian Middle class families and their morals which are crashing like a piece of glass making them see their own multiple faces. It's not a great story, But it's worth a read and the author Amrita Mahale has been very successful in making a mark with her debut writing.

Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes I would to a friend who is mood for some Indian and not too heavy read.

IF you wish to add Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale to your bookshelf, visit the links below to purchase the book from Amazon.

        

Note: I may get a small commission if you purchase using them - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

About the Author:
The introduction to Elif Shafak on both her GoodReads profile and own website goes like - "Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books. Elif's work has been translated into fifty languages!"
Head on to the links to let the author speak for her-self.

The Blurb Says:
Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground - an old Polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past - and a love - Peri had tried desperately to forget.

The photograph takes Peri back to Oxford University, as an eighteen-year-old sent abroad for the first time: to her dazzling, rebellious professor and his life-changing course on God, to her home with her two best friends, Shirin and Mona and their arguments about Islam and femininity and, finally, to the scandal that tore them all apart

How I felt about "Three Daughters of Eve"
Although I started this book sometime in December 2019, "Three Daughters of Eve" by Elf Shafak turns out to be my first read for the year 2020. This was my first read from Elif Shafak. I did not love the book, but I did like it a lot.



What I liked:
1. Easy Read: The book talk about some sensitive issues like god and politics. Despite of them, it felt like an easy book to read and follow through. Bonus - In case the reader is not too interested in the detailed accounts of these topics, they can be easily skimmed through without really loosing or skipping any event or plot.
2. Seamless Oscillation between two time zones: The story go to and fro between two eras with almost every chapter. The writing style made me wanting to read the current chapter quickly and explore the other era.

What I did not like:
The title itself says that it's a story of three women, but sadly, it revolved around Peri majorly and only touched upon the other three. I would have loved to read more about the 'baby in the mist', three friends and their bonding.


My favorite part of the book was the chapter - "Notebook'. I actually sat down a while and pondered upon it for a few moments before moving forward. These were the pages I would love to read again and again.
Then there was "The Hospital" - which left me angry and shocked. T read it with my eyes wide open and disbelief. Initially I could not decide my emotions! It's just beyond words to express...
Another instance which made me smile was a "Christmas Tree" decorated with Islamic items and devotees. An innocent child did that so that she could make her mother happy about the celebrations from another religion.

Would I refer it to  a friend?
Yes! I can refer it to someone looking for easy and light read with the cautionary warning of a few sections. This was my first read from the author - Elif Shafak and it definitely made me curious enough to read more of her work.



Visit the links below to purchase the book from Amazon. The paperback version is currently under "Amazon Associates Program Excluded Products" which means the affiliate link to the same is not available. But you can always visit the links below and then switch to your desired format :)

     

Note: I may get a small commission if you purchase using the link above - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Jenga Blocks Game: How to Play and Benefits


Jenga is a popular game which can be played anywhere any time with minimum 2 players. The standard game set consists a set of 54 wooden blocks. The blocks are stacked in sets of three making the tower eighteen blocks high. Each new layers must be rotated 90 degrees along the horizontal axis from the one below it.

Each player takes turn to remove a single block from the tower placing it back on the top. As a thumb rule, the block must not be removed from lowest and highest level of the tower. The players must only use one hand at a time to remove the block and re-stabilizing any block or tower in the middle of the game is not allowed.
The game continues till the tower falls. The last player to remove and place a block successfully wins the game.

Jenga is a fun game which can be played by any age group. When we play it at home with the kids, we make the rules slightly easier allowing them to use both hands and re-arranging the tower in between

Here is a video where the little munchkins are playing Jenga.




Benefits of playing Jenga:

Improved Decision-Making Skills
The player gets to decide which block to take off ensuring that the tower remains steady. Jenga blocks helps it’s players to decide and reap it’s consequences.

Increased Patience Level
Quick or unplanned move has high chances of making the tower topple. The player must be slow and steady while removing the blocks to maintain the balance. Also, there are high chances that the other player takes off the same block you had your eye on for the next move. But then, you can’t do anything about it except move and make another smart move.

Teaches to Plan Ahead
While the player needs to only work about his or her turn to make a move efficiently enough to keep the tower standing, sub-consciously, the players want their tower to stand tall and high. Also, as mentioned in the point above, while the player is taking it’s turn, next players is already deciding it’s next block to be moved. Thus, planning ahead is a crucial part of Jenga game.

Helps to Balance Hand Eye Coordination
Jenga not only requires to take the block off, making sure that the

Induces Fine Motor Skills
All the capabilities described above when combined and learned together form a strong base for amazing motor skills in both adults and kids.


The market is full of different variations of Jenga with colorful blocks. We have the basic version which can be brought from the link below:


Note: I may get a small commission if you purchase using the link above - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson


The Blurb:  Saudi Arabian princess clad in riches and hidden behind her black veil, Sultana talks about the dark, hidden secrets she had to live with, in her past and about the living treacheries bestowed upon women in Saudi Arabia.
With no freedom to take her own decisions and known only as a bearer of sons, Sultana is the strong woman at the heart of the story in Princess. From her turbulent childhood to her arranged marriage and later being displaced for another wife, Sultana shares her history of the appalling oppression in her everyday life.
From the marriage of 13-year old girls with men five times their age to the killing of young women by stoning, drowning or isolation in the "women's room," the book tells readers how women are left to rot to death in this land. Sultana opens up about the atrocities committed by the Saudi establishment, standing up for right despite the risk of being killed.
Narrating her story to Jean Sasson, Sultana reveals the darkest secrets beyond the veils of the secret society where money, sex and power reign supreme and violation of human rights is commonplace. 
How did I like the book?

Well, this might be one of the most difficult reviews I have written. Like everyone, it’s the claim of being a true story which attracted me to it. If the title was just - “Story of life behind the veil “, leaving out true and Saudi Arabia, would it have made me pick it up? I would say yes.


This book was recommended by my friend Rajshri and I do not remember her mentioning that it’s a true story while doing so. Moral - I would have liked it the same even if it was not claimed to be true.

While most of the restrictions and practices were already either heard or read somewhere, reading them as an overall subject with surrounding details made my heart wrench. I made sad faces, frowned, gasped in awe at quite a few incidents mentioned in the story. Not because I was surprised or shocked, but because I could relate them to some character.

The author has been able to strike the chord at right places most of the times using easy and simple language.

What I did not like:

Editing - I am not sure the pages, but there were a few sentences I could notice which needed better editing.
Rushed up - There were a few sections which felt very hurried and more detailing could have made them much interesting and gripping.
Have a few more related to Sultana’s reactions - but I am assuming that I might get the answers in next two series. I do not want to state them to avoid spoiler.


It would be hard to mention my favorite chapter of the one which touched me most. After a certain time, I lost noting down much details. The ones I noted, “My sister Sara” made me stop and think for quite some time.

I would recommend anyone to read this book not for my culture or religion, but for the plight of some women in the name of same. This stand true for almost all religions and I am sure every culture has one or other myth or misconception women have or had faced sometime in past.



There are many controversies around the authenticity of story. Many of them answer themselves in further series - still many remains questionable. Read a few reviews, stay away from spoilers- many of them do not even warn of the same, and make your choice. From me, it’s a gripping read.

Would I pick up the other books in series? I would say that I might go for them sometime.

Follow the link below to read my favorite lines:
Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson

Also, if you decide to give the book a shot, follow the links from amazon as below:

          

I may get a small commission if you purchase using them - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mr. Majeika and the School caretaker by Humphrey Carpenter

The Blurb:
When old Mr Jenks retires, St Barty's School advertises for a new caretaker. Unfortunately there's only one applicant - Hamish Bigmore's Uncle Wilf who is just as rude and bad-tempered as Hamish. When Mr Majeika is hurt in an accident it becomes clear that Uncle Wilf is working for the wickedest of witches, Wilhelmina Warlock! It's up to Mr Majeika to work his magic and put things right again.

How the kiddo liked the book:
My son got this book from school library and thus he had no escape finishing it. He completed the book in 4 days.

The kiddo loved the book - which he generally does with all. I could see he was enjoying reading it and only things which made him to put it down was that he is still not comfortable with novels. Thus I had to push him a little.

He found the book really funny and kept calling me once in a while to re-read a few sections. His favorite character was the bad guy - 'Hamish Bigmore' because he was really naughty and ofcourse 'Mr. Majeika' because he did magic.

Below is the review in his own words! Do show some love to boost him up...



How I liked the book:
As a parent, if my child likes the book, I like it too. I read it too and actually had a nice laugh ad smiles all through it. It is divide din seven chapters with each chapter making sure to not let the child get bored and put it don without finishing it.

The language is also very simple for children to understand. Also, there were a few pictures here and there which the kiddo was always looking forward to.

The book and other books from Humphery Carpenter can be brought from amazon using below links:


        Link to Mr. Majeika Series


I may get a small commission if you purchase using them - WITHOUT YOU BEING CHARGED AN EXTRA PENNY.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Secret Garden By Frances Hodgson Burnett


Have you ever read a book that is predictable with every chapter and eventually you can predict it page by page, but still – you want to go on an on with it? You never ever want it to finish?

Well, the very famous children classic - “THE SECRET GARDEN BY FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT” is one such book, or at least I found it like that.

It is the story of two 10-year-old children Mary Lennox and Colin Craven living in two opposite parts of world. Both are spoiled to the highest level a child could be raised to. The story begins with Mary and how she finds her way to another part of world, makes friends and eventually, her journey to find Colin. The plot then revolves around these children discovering themselves with life and experiences and the mother nature.


I could go on and on writing more about the novel and it’s blurb, but then I honestly feel that one should really go and read it. I think, anything more written here might serve as a spoiler.


Coming to my reaction to the novel. I have already admitted that it’s one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The book has so much simple lessons of life in store. The lessons, we all know all through but somehow tend to not acknowledge them. Also, it’s a perfect example of what a child can do to other child and why they must have a company to grow with.


Magic of mother nature, positive attitude, determination and optimism flows all through the book.


Imagine a ten-year-old making another child of same age and same level of tantrum, sleep by singing and talking softly!!!


After reading it, whenever I am asked about a book I found lovable and flawless, my answer would be “The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett until I find another one like it.

Then, there is a chapter which talks about how a bird called robin feels about humans around him. He talks to his wife and it was just hilarious and true at the same time!


I cannot believe myself when I am talking with such positive attitude about a book. I think, I should just stop and leave you with that It’s a gorgeous piece of simple writing where the message, the emotions, the surroundings, everything is described just perfectly.


There were of course many lines and phrases I read and re-read. A few of them, I have put up in the post also. There are total 27 chapters and my personal favorites are "I SHALL LIVE FOREVER—AND EVER—AND EVER!" and “The Curtain”.


Would I recommend it to anyone else? Did you read the whole post? Because if you did, I need not answer it now! Go get it reader! In case you have a kindle unlimited subscription or own a kindle or use the kindle app on any device, guess what? It’s free on Amazon Classics.




If you like my review and plan to give it a shot, you may try that by above link. They point to my Amazon Affiliate and when purchased from, I get a tiny commission with no extra charge to you.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Narasimha (The Mahaavatar Trilogy #1) by Kevin Missal


The Blurb Says:
Narasimha, once a brave soldier, has left the war and lies low as a physician in a village. But a familiar face from his past seeks his help to stop the tyranny of the blind usurper Andhaka. If Narasimha refuses, the world might just end. What will he do? And why did he leave the war in the first place? Prahlad, the interim king of Kashyapuri, is torn between the ideals of his unrighteous father and his love for Lord Vishnu. Whom will he choose? Hiranyakashyap, the ruler of the Asura Empire, wants to avenge the death of his wife. To do that, he must go through the Trials and get the ultimate weapon - the Brahmastra. But the Trials have sent so many others to their death. Can Hiranyakashyap survive?

How Did I Like The Book
"Narasimha (The Mahaavatar Trilogy #1)" was my first read from the author Kevin Missal. I have read many great reviews about his previous writing and has really high expectations since the book had been doing rounds since some time on it's promotions etc.

Now that I have the book in my hands and have read it, did it meet my expectations? I would say yes and no at the same time.
First of all, I really liked the book and can recommend it for a light read to mythology lover.

What I Liked:
1. The chapters: I really liked the way the chapters were named on lead characters instead of trying to give a title to them. This also enabled me to be ready and get back to the story of another character from where I left it. Yes, if looked upon carefully, it's basically a collection of multiple stories interrelated with each other.

2. The Good and The Evil: The author has not depicted any character as a hero or a villain. It's all up to the reader what they interpret out of them and how they perceive their actions. All characters has their own positive traits along with a dark/grey side.

3. The Avatar: Of course the book is about the ultimate avatar but then we have always seen the god or the demon from various popular mythological tales where the God has this illuminating aura around it and flawless, fearless an unbeatable right from the beginning and the reverse when it comes to a demon. As the popular IndianBookTuber said, that the avatar discovers itself rather than just being there and doing his/her job.

What I Did not like:
1. The End: I know I am attracting a lot of raised eyebrows with this, but then  for me if a book suddenly leaves me in the middle of the road waiting for next bus to board until it comes out without a proper conclusion, I don't like it.
The next book might not require the earlier part to be read in order to understand and enjoy it, but then what about the people who did spend their time and energy on the first or the earlier one.

So, yes I liked the book and would have loved it even more if it had that conclusion. Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

If you like my review and plan to give it a shot, you may try that by following links. They point to my Amazon Affiliate and when purchased from, I get a tiny commission with no extra charge to you.