Wednesday, March 08, 2017

100 Book Pact - 91 to 100

91/100 Tracks in the Snow by Lucy Jane Bledsoe

One of the better children's books I've read in a while. Erin is a persistent young girl who wants to go in search of her babysitter, whom nobody -- except her -- believes is missing. She gets her classmate Tiffany to join her with a ruse that they can study tracks in the snow for a school project. The two girls get caught in a blizzard in the woods, and an ordinary trek in the woods turns into a fight for survival. This is a tale of determination, persistence, friendship, loyalty and identity. The description and details are beautifully worked into the narration so that even while it enriches the book, it doesn't slacken the pace at all. This is the balance I strive for in my own writing. Puttachi loved it as much as I did. I took it along with me to Puttachi's basketball class, and I sat on the side and finished it in one go, in an hour. I couldn't take my eyes off the pages.

92/100 Mistakes That Worked by Charlotte Foltz Jones

A fun book with a lot of information on 40 accidental discoveries. Some of them were familiar, some new. The illustrations were quirky and surprising in their own right. Puttachi enjoyed them too. She doesn't like non-fiction much (surprise surprise) and wasn't too keen on reading this, but once she started, she couldn't stop.

93/100 Nanny X by Madelyn Rosenberg

A nanny with a difference - what's her secret? That's what the children under her care try to find out. I didn't enjoy it much, but seems like Puttachi did.

94/100 The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

A story narrated by a gorilla. If that doesn't get your attention . . . Ivan is an art-loving gorilla confined to a cage in a mall for the entertainment of people, and he seems reconciled with his lot until the arrival of a little elephant. And then Ivan has to come up with a plan to get the little one out of the place. This was recommended by a friend and when I got this home, Puttachi told me that their librarian has been reading this out to them at school, and she is already half way through the book. She said she didn't like the first part, but she'd try reading the whole thing at one go. She did, and says she liked it very much. I liked it too. But it didn't blow me away though it has all the right ingredients for it. And that is one of the things I am not going to bother explaining. It just is!

95/100 Nirmala Bharati or Makkala Mahabharata by AR Krishna Shastri

A concise Mahabharata for children in Kannada. An iconic book in its time, but it is rather dated now, both in its style and illustrations. Actually Puttachi and I had already read Namita Gokhale's Puffin Mahabharata, and I keep telling her stories from here and there - so she knows the Mahabharata pretty well. But I wanted to read out something in Kannada for her, because we never get to read Kannada often, and so I chose this one. I didn't like it at all - neither the style of narration, nor the details. I persisted anyway, just so that Puttachi can hear some written-style Kannada. Now I really need to source some good Kannada books that I can read out to her. Any suggestions?

96/100 The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

Reading this book, I had an epiphany. Amitav Ghosh is my favourite Indian writer. Yes, I haven't read all his work yet. Yes, I thought The Calcutta Chromosome was weird. Yes, I couldn't get through even two chapters of The Circle of Reason. However, the Ibis trilogy hurled me into his fandom, and now, The Hungry Tide has made that place pretty secure.

Set in the Sunderbans in West Bengal, the book deals with lives that are intertwined through decades, and the inexplicable relationships that arise between totally dissimilar people. As in his Ibis trilogy, his research leaves nothing to be desired, and plunges the reader (the kind who like such details) into a world that she is doesn't want to leave. And the storm. His description of the storm/cyclone was so effective that I was blown away (in several senses of the word).

97/100 The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

This was recommended to me by someone who knew I enjoyed Downton Abbey. And yes, it has all the same elements in it, and it had mystery and suspense but I didn't enjoy it wholeheartedly. I think I didn't like the way it was structured - an old lady reminiscing about her times, through stories told on tape to her missing grandson - I think a simpler storyline would have worked better. Though I must say that given how easily I abandon books these days, I didn't feel like giving this one up.

98/100 A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto

Interesting thriller about a man whose wife dies when he is away on business. And though the circumstances of the wife's death seem natural, the man is convinced that something is amiss, and he goes after the root of the mystery, with unfortunate consequences. The story is told from the POV of the man, and it is a kind of unusual POV, but if I tell you why, it would be a spoiler.

99/100 The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

A Jewish girl, who is annoyed with Jewish holidays that aim at "remembering", is transported back from the present time to 1942 and is sent to a death camp, and by the time she comes back to the present, she realizes why it is so important to remember. Very disturbing book. Also, I might have appreciated it better if I had been able to get past the question of how she happened to get transported. It is so random and so inexplicable, especially because she doesn't even retain her own identity, that it didn't work for me.

100/100 Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

A boy goes on an adventure to the land where stories come from, trying to get the Gift of the Gab back for his father who seems to have lost it, and meets several unforgettable characters along the way. I read this out to Puttachi, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. The puns and the wordplay are delightful and you can enjoy it at so many levels. We now speak to each other like the characters do, in their style. I think that I would have not enjoyed it as much if I had read it to myself.

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