Shelf Control #20

Another week has gone by (two actually, since I missed posting last week), and it’s time again for Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a feature I’ve borrowed from Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about celebrating the books on your TBR pile. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile and write a post about it.

This week, my twentieth time participating, my pick is once again, a historical mystery (these have featured in a few of my earlier posts under this feature here, here, and here). And it is:

Malabar

A Murder on Malabar Hill is the first in a series of historical mysteries set in 1920s Bombay (it was that then). This features the “intrepid, intelligent and young Perveen Mistry”, who is one of India’s first female lawyers. Working in her father’s firm, she comes across the case of the will of one Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner, whose three widows stand to get disinherited by a curious provision. Farid’s widows live in seclusion and have no contact with the outside world. It falls to Perveen to investigate the matter, which soon becomes a case involving murder and grave danger to her own life.

Where and When I got it: I have a paperback copy published by Penguin India in 2018. I bought this a few months ago, and it is a copy I ordered online.

Why I want to read it: I’ve been hearing really good things about this one. This is based on two of India’s early women lawyers, Cornelia Sorabji, and Mithan Tata Lam, which I found very interesting. Also, while it is a mystery, it is also about Bombay during that time, and the kind of situations these ladies would have faced in their day, which interests me even more. And, in case you didn’t know already, history + mystery is one of my favourite combinations!!! I plan to read this book only next year as a book group that I am part of is reading it then (and if I read it sooner, I’ll probably forget everything by the time the discussion comes up). The second book in the series will also be out early next year. ARCs are doing the rounds, as I noticed on booktube.

A little about the author: Sujata Massey is an award-winning mystery writer born in England, and who grew up in the States. She has lived in Japan, where she began writing the first novel in her Rei Shimura series, winner of the Agatha and Macavity Awards.

Have you read this one or anything else by the author? What did you think of it? (My mother loved this one, father didn’t.) Any similar titles or series you’d recommend? Looking forward to hearing about them!

 

 

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The Shakespeare Project: Macbeth Act I

The Shakespeare Project is all about me reading Shakespeare, Act by Act, and posting my thoughts on it as I go. Usually, I read (and write on) one Act every other week (my introductory post on this feature is here). It has been a while since I picked up this project, but since I had planned to read Macbeth next, October seems the perfect month to get started. [I ended up starting this very late, but still have at least managed to get started this month.] This post does contain spoilers, so don’t read on if this will bother you.

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1884 Macbeth poster

Source: By W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The opening scene, in fact, is just so fitting for a Halloween read, with thunder and lightning in an open place where the weird sisters (incidentally, and I only ‘discovered’ this when I started to write this post, ‘weird’ or ‘wyrd’ in this context means ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ and not what we understand in the modern context, as supernatural or even sometimes, otherwise ‘than normal’ (shmoop/wikipedia)), the three witches have gathered and are asking of each other, when they will meet again. They decide to do so after the war, upon the heath, which is where they will meet Macbeth.

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The Witches in a Painting by Fussli

Source: Henry Fuseli [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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A much prettier version

Image Source: Daniel Gardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the next scene, we find ourselves in a camp near Forres where the King of Scotland, Duncan is with his sons Malcolm and Donalbain, attendants, and nobles. The battle has just come to an end, a bleeding sergeant is speaking to the King and informs him of Macbeth’s selfless bravery on the battlefield, and defeat of the rebel, Macdonwald. Macbeth, incidentally, is not only a general, but also kinsman to the King. The thane of Ross arrives on the scene, speaking of the defeat of the King of Norway. Duncan decides to execute a traitor, the thane of Cawdor, and gives that title to Macbeth. Ross is charged with delivering this good news to Macbeth.

Now, we return to the heath, that very same heath where the Witches had planned to waylay Macbeth. On the heath, there is once again thunder, and definitely a tone of the mysterious, and perhaps a touch of the scary. The witches discuss where each of them have been–one apparently has been killing swine, the other was refused chestnuts by a sailor’s wife and is planning revenge upon the sailor (‘vicarious liability’?). But honestly, is just simply to get back at her by getting at him, or does one read more into it?

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Macbeth and Banquo waylaid by the Witches

Image source: Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Anyway, as their conversation progresses, Macbeth and Banquo arrive. The first words (this again I noticed only thanks to the mention on shmoop) that Macbeth speaks, “so fair and foul a day” link up to the witches initial observation, “fair is foul, and foul is fair”, so perhaps they were merely foretelling what was to come. It is Banquo who first seems to notice the witches and can’t quite make them out for they look like women, yet they have beards. As Macbeth inquires who they are, the witches hail him, as thane of Glamis, then thane of Cawdor, and as “king hereafter”. Banquo asks the sisters to predict his future as well as they have done for Macbeth. The witches greet him too, and make some more complicated predictions, calling him “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater“; “Not so happy, yet much happier“, and that his children shall be kings but not he himself. Macbeth questions them about where these predictions are coming from, for although he is the thane of Glamis, the thane of Cawdor is very much alive. But the witches vanish, leaving Banquo to wonder whether it is something they have eaten (“insane root“) that has taken their reason prisoner.

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And another of Macbeth and Banquo with the Witches

Image Source: Théodore Chassériau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As Macbeth and Banquo discuss what they’ve just been told, Ross and another nobleman, Angus arrive, and give Macbeth the news, proving the witches’ first prophecy true. Now Macbeth’s thoughts have begun to turn to the rest of those prophecies, asking Banquo whether he doesn’t hope that his children would be kings, as the sisters foretold. And he is also imagining to himself whether the other prophecy would also come true, but those thoughts at this stage seem horrid to him and leave him feeling rather uncomfortable.

We’re back at Forres now, but at the palace. Cawdor has been put to death, having confessed, and repented his deeds. Meanwhile, Macbeth arrives, and Duncan acknowledges that more is due to him than he is giving, to which Macbeth replies, claiming that his service and loyalty are payment in itself (are they, considering his thoughts, one wonders?). Banquo too, receives praise. Duncan also announces that his son Malcolm will be his heir, naming him the Prince of Cumberland. Macbeth thinks this over observing that this is an obstacle in his path, his thoughts once again in dark places.

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Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

Image Source: John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The scene shifts again, and the fifth one in this act sees us now in Macbeth’s castle where we finally meet the formidable Lady Macbeth, who has received a letter from her husband, telling her all about the witches’ prophecies, and of the greatness that lies ahead for her. A messenger comes in just as she has read the letter, and informs her that the King will spend the night at their castle, and that Macbeth has sent someone ahead with this information. Lady Macbeth wishes that all compassion and remorse, all the qualities of a woman leave her, and she is able to be cruel as will be required of her, if all that is predicted is to be achieved. Macbeth soon arrives, and Lady Macbeth pretty much tells him that Duncan might well be coming to the castle that night, but will not be leaving the next morning. Unlike her husband, she doesn’t seem to have had any hesitation in deciding what to do, and takes charge of the situation.

Duncan has now arrived with his sons, noblemen, and attendants, looking forward to a pleasant visit in the castle that many birds have made their home. He greets his “honored hostess”, little knowing what she has planned for him, and Lady Macbeth responds warmly extend her welcome and thanks.

Still in the castle, in the final scene of this Act we once again witness a conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who are talking over the details of their conspiracy. Macbeth is planning to do away with Duncan, yet also taking over the reasons that make it wrong for him to do so, he being not only the king’s kinsman but also his host. Duncan’s goodness and humility will ensure that the news of the awful deed they are about to commit spreads all over, and all of this is causing Macbeth some hesitation in doing what he plots to do. He wants to back down and not proceed, but Lady Macbeth tries to talk him out of his fears. She is quite ruthless compared to Macbeth and claims that she would dash her own baby’s head against a wall had she so sworn to Macbeth to do so. While Macbeth still fears failure, she points out that if they have courage, they won’t fail. She plans to get Duncan’s servants drunk and place all the blame on them. Macbeth is now convinced and agrees to use the servant’s daggers and cover them with blood so that all the blame falls on them, telling his wife to continue to pretend to be a friendly hostess, so closing the first act.

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Image source: By Elizabeth Shippen Green Elliott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So, in Macbeth we are plunged into a world of morality, power, ambition, conspiracy, intrigue, murder, and betrayal. Almost from the start, the moment the witches make their prophecies known to Macbeth, and the first of them proves true, Macbeth is considering ‘murder’ straightway while outwardly still speaking of loyalty as its own reward. While the first prophecy, of his becoming the thane of Cawdor may have come true on its own, he does not want to leave the second–power, kingship–to chance and is actively plotting his path to attain it, wanting to do away with King Duncan and also his heir Malcolm (though he hasn’t plotted the second quite yet). He has some hesitation, initially at least a little repulsed by the awful thoughts entering his mind, and later when plotting with his wife, hesitant because of fear more than for propriety or morality, although he brings up these reasons for being so. Lady Macbeth on the other hand, has no such compunctions. She has not the slightest hesitation, and is prepared not only to do what it takes, but also give her husband the courage (and support) that he needs to achieve their ambitions.

One question that came to mind was what made the witches pick Macbeth–was it that they were merely foretelling what would happen, and therefore didn’t really ‘pick’ him as such? Or was it that they knew he was so corruptible that the slightest hint would get his mind working? Banquo too has heard those predictions, but he is not paying as much heed.

Overall, I am enjoying the whole atmosphere of the play, which as I’ve been saying from the beginning, is just perfect for the season. [I wonder how they did the thunder and lightning effects in Shakespeare’s day?]

Also, I’d plain forgotten that ‘the cat in the adage’ was from Macbeth!

Macbeth has started off on the path to power, and perhaps to his own doom. I can’t wait to read the next act to see what happens next, and whether their plans as to Duncan move forward quite as smoothly as they imagine they will. And what of Malcolm and Donalbain?

Have you read Macbeth? What are you thoughts on this Act? Looking forward to hearing all about them!

 

 

 

Bookquotes: Quotes from Books (28)

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“There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.”

–P.G. Wodehouse

 

(p.s.: I don’t think this one is from any book, but it is by Wodehouse after all. I found it on a bookmark that I was sent when I did some book shopping earlier in the month)

Image source: Pexels

#Wodehouse #Books

Some Classics I Didn’t Really Care For

Classics are a ‘genre’, if one can call it that, which I enjoy reading very much. I remember when I first started consciously picking up classics (full versions) around when I was in college, I used to find them (or perhaps myself) moving a lot slower than when I was reading, say, mysteries or popular fiction. But once I read through a few, I found most moved almost as well as more ‘modern’ works. I started with Jane Austen, Dickens, and the Brontes, and have since read many more, ‘discovered’ authors like Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, and Wilkie Collins, whose books I’ve enjoyed as well as lesser known (to me at least) ones like Mrs Oliphant, whose works I’m also really enjoying.

I will at some point write about favourites and favourite authors, but this post is about ones (books, not authors) that I really didn’t enjoy when I read them. These are all books I’ve read only once. Some of these I read quite a long time ago (so all my impressions are from memory alone), and perhaps might give another shot to, but on first reading them, they certainly did not work for me. So here goes.

 

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Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore is one of the classic works that I picked up when I first started really reading classics, so this could be one reason for not liking it so much. This is the story of John Ridd who has sworn to avenge his father’s death, but then meets and falls in love with Lorna Doone who is one of the ‘enemy’ and also to marry one. I don’t remember any of the details of the book now, but what I do remember is that I found this one very hard to get into, and while I did read all the way to the end, I didn’t find it particularly absorbing.

 

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Before I say anything about this one, I’d like to say that I love Dickens’ books in general–I enjoy his storytelling and his characters, and have many many favourites among his works (I even like Barnaby Rudge, which many of my bookish friends don’t). But this one was a different story. This is the story of a young orphan Pip, whose life changes when he encounters a convict in his village. Pip is a very human character, with several flaws and failings that I could understand, even identify with, but I still couldn’t like him one bit, nor feel any sympathy for him or many of the others in the book, and so it wasn’t a book I ended up liking very much.

 

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The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding, is the story of the titular Tom, who is brought up by Squire Allworthy, and is in love with Sophia Western, a neighbouring squire’s daughter. This is a picaresque novel which is a parody, with much humour, but I somehow just couldn’t get into the book (though I did read it all the way through) nor did I find the humour very appealing.

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Staying with humorous titles, next I have Augustus Carp, Esq by Sir Henry Bashford. This is also a satire of sorts, with Carp finding faults with everyone he encounters. I only came across this one since it was mentioned in the Guardian‘s list of a thousand books everyone should read. This wasn’t a bad read as such but quite a bit of the humour was crass and not to my taste at all.

 

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain–I enjoyed Tm Sawyer and found it great fun. Huck Finn deals with perhaps more serious themes as Huck travels down the Mississippi river with a runaway ‘slave’. When I first read the book, I felt as though nothing much seemed to happen in it, which is why it seemed to me to simply drag on.

 

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The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence, which tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, deals with many controversial themes and taboo (for their day) subjects but this one I couldn’t get into at all. I don’t think I read more than a few pages before putting it away.

 

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And finally, a book that is classed as a classic, though much more modern compared to those I’ve mentioned earlier on this list, The Magus by John Fowles. This is the story of a young Englishman who takes up a teaching post on a remote Greek Island, and finds himself mixed up with a mysterious man who lives there. He is drawn into a psychological game of attraction and danger. While the plot was really intriguing and had plenty of twists and turns, this was a book I did not enjoy at all. It never seemed to pick up pace no matter what happened, and however much I read, I seemed to make no progress at all. I read it to the end, but mostly because it was a group read and I was leading the discussion. But otherwise, a really frustrating read, which I would never have finished.

So these were a few classics that I really didn’t like or which I couldn’t get interested enough in. Do you enjoy reading classics? Which ones have you read that you found you didn’t enjoy or could’t get into? Looking forward to hearing about them!

And I did it Again! October Book Shopping

So, as you can see from the title of this post, yet again this month, I bought books, since of course, I already have only nearly 400 still to read (lots of free e-books in that count, but still), which is really nothing so … 😛

In October, I ended up adding thirteen books to my shelves, three of them e-books. The first bunch of books I ordered were these.

 

 

The Book Hunters of Katpadi by Pradeep Sebastian is a ‘bibliomystery’ taking us into the world of first eds and lost manuscripts (or rather, ‘found’ ones). I featured this one in Shelf Control here, so am not writing more about it in this post.

The second title, the Glory of Patan by K.M. Munshi is the first in a series of three books of historical fiction. This one is set in the kingdom of Patan where the king Karnadev is on his deathbed, while his son Jayadev is too young to take over. It falls to the Queen Minaldevi and chief minister, Munjal Mehta to ensure that order is maintained and the transfer of power takes place smoothly. I read a historical romance, Prithvi Vallabh (review here ), by this author earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so decided to pick this one up. (Both works are translations of novels in Gujarati.)

Next was an Eva Ibbotson children’s book, Monster Mission, which is about these three children stolen and taken to a bizarre island inhabited by all sorts of strange creatures, including mermaids. But a wicked man plans to use the creatures to make money, and the children must now help save their new friends and themselves.

 

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Next I bought The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which I’ve been wanting to read, but I haven’t yet. Since this one has been so talked about everywhere and the film is of course also out, I don’t think I need to say anything about what it’s about.

 

 

Next, I found this series by Victoria Schwab on sale on kindle, and being an author I wanted to try, I picked these up. This is an urban fantasy series with some basis in Shakespeare. Again, I’ve featured these in Shelf Control here, so am not going into details here.

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Also on kindle, I picked up Naked Heat, the second in the Nikki Heat series. This one is all about a gossip columnist who is stabbed to death, a case which Heat and reporter Jameson Rook have to solve, and which involves, among others a Yankees pitcher and a pop star. I love the TV show Castle (though not so much the last couple of seasons), and still watch reruns, but I’d never read the books so when I found this on discount, I decided to give it a try.

The final set of six books I bought were all from a second-hand shop online, and were a bunch of books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while or wanted to add to my shelves.

 

 

In this bunch, I first bought Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, a story set in an alternative England, where two magicians are at different ends of the spectrum of how magic should be dealt with, used in practice, or just in theory. They are of course opposites in more than one way. This was a book I quite enjoyed when I read it, and since I didn’t have a copy, I picked this up.

Next is One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters, the second of the medieval mysteries featuring the Benedictine monk, Brother Cadfael, which is a series I am loving reading. In this one set in 1138, the battle between King Stephen and Empress Maud still rages on, and when Shrewsbury Castle falls and 94 defenders are hung, Brother Cadfael discovers one more corpse–this one strangled.

Another Eva Ibbotson I added to my shelves this month is The Great Ghost Rescue. Humphrey the Horrible is unfortunately a very friendly skeleton who wishes to be ghastly like the rest of his family, but when he discovers a plot to exorcise his family, he realises that he can be a hero without being spine-chillingly frightening.

 

 

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice is sort of a continuation of the story of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, a book by her I read earlier this year and really enjoyed. This one is set in the 1960s’ music scene, where our ‘heroine’ Tara finds herself the object of some attention, while trying to deal with the bitterness between her sister Lucy and friend Matilda.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier is a fictionalisation of the story of Mary Anning, the fossil hunter of Lyme Regis, and her friendship with Elizabeth Philpot, a London spinster who also has an interest in fossils. I read a review of this years ago and have been meaning to read it since, so very happy to finally have a copy.

And finally, Passion by Jude Morgan is the story of Byron, Keats, and Shelley told through the eyes of Mary Shelley, Lady Caroline Lamb, Fanny Brawne and Augusta Leigh. This one I actually ‘discovered’ from a blurb at the back of my copy of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. It sounds really interesting, and I look forward to reading it.

So these were all the books I picked up this month.

Have you read any of these? Which one/s and how did you like them? What have you added to your shelves/TBR piles lately? Looking forward to hearing all about them!

Will Your Aunt be Eaten Up?

Yet another post ‘inspired’ by booktube, well not inspired really but on something I was reminded of because of a video I saw there. Before I start however, I’d just like to clarify that despite what the title might suggest, this is a post on something humorous, not spooky. So, a few days ago I was watching this chat/discussion video with three booktubers, and one of them said something about an aunt, and went on to talk about how the word is pronounced. As far as I was aware, the ‘aunt’ vs ‘ant’ difference was one of British vs American pronunciation, but one of them brought up the point that this may be a Canadian vs American thing (as well) (which I am not aware of so won’t comment on). [The video is here– it’s a long one but the point comes up at the start; around 2:39.]. Also, please note this post has spoilers so in case you are bothered by this, don’t read on.

 

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But that discussion reminded me of a poem that I like very much, and one that pokes fun at this very thing–the Ant-Eater by Roald Dahl, which appears in the book Dirty Beasts. The poem has some of the same themes as many Dahl stories, spoilt rotten brats who ultimately end up paying the price for being as they are.

The poem is about this very spoilt child called Roy, the only child of a wealthy American family, who lived somewhere near San Francisco Bay. Roy is

 

“A plump and unattractive boy –

Half-baked, half-witted and half-boiled,

But worst of all, most dreadfully spoiled.” (Dahl, The Ant-Eater)

 

Somewhat like Verruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or even Harry Potter’s cousin Dudley)Roy is bought everything that he desires by his parents, whether toy cars and model airplanes or a colour TV, besides all sorts of animals, his house being filled with “sufficient toys; To thrill half a million boys” but he continues to demand more and more and more. Then comes a point at which he is hard pressed to think of something new that he doesn’t have, and after giving it some thought, he comes upon a really novel idea. He demands a peculiar pet, one no one else has–a “Giant Ant-Eater”.

 

Of course, as soon as his father hears of it, he begins to try and locate one, writing to all the zoos and such but finds they are simply not sold. So he begins looking elsewhere. Ultimately, he manages to find “an Indian gent” living “near Delhi, in a tent”, who has what they want but demands a price of 50,000 gold rupees (were there ever gold rupees, I am not sure).

 

Naturally, the price is paid and the ant-eater arrives, but demands food as soon as he reaches for no one has looked after him or fed him on the way. But heartless Roy is not one to be bothered by things such as this, and saying that he wont give him bread or meat sends him off to look for ants, for that’s what ant-eaters eat. The poor ant-eater hunts high and low, and finding not a single ant desperately asks Roy for food once again, only to be told “Go, find an ant!”.

 

One day, it so happens that Roy’s old aunt Dorothy, a lady of eighty-three arrives for a  visit. Roy is keen to show off his new pet, and takes her down and indicates the poor animal, all skin and bones. He calls the Ant-Eater to meet his ‘ant’ for:

 

(Some people in the U.S.A.

Have trouble with the words they say.

However hard they try, they can’t

Pronounce simple words like AUNT.

Instead of AUNT, they call it ANT,

Instead of CAN’T, they call it KANT.)

–Dahl, The Ant-Eater

 

The ant-eater pricks up his ears at this, and asks whether that is indeed an ant? And of course, goes on to do just what Roy had told him, since he has found his ‘ant’. This scares Roy who tries to run and hide, but, as the nephew of an ‘ant’…

 

This is such a fun poem, which I only ‘discovered’ when a friend mentioned it, and I loved it since I first read it. I love how Dahl pokes fun at the differences in accent in such an amusing way. Also, one can’t help smiling, in fact, laughing as the events unfold, cheering on the poor Ant-Eater, and fairly glad for what happened to Roy. One can’t help but feel just a little sorry for ‘Ant’ Dorothy, though, for it wasn’t really her fault that her nephew was quite so rotten.

 

This has turned out more a summary of the poem than a comment on it, but since I enjoy it so much, I’m going ahead and posting it anyway.

 

Have you read this poem before or any others in this collection (I haven’t read the others)?  Did you enjoy it/them as much as I did? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Children’s Book of the Month: Listen O King: Five-and-Twenty Tales of Vikram and the Vetal

Vikram Vetal

(adaptation by Deepa Agarwal)

This in so many ways felt like a read that fit this season. I wanted to include some traditional stories in my reading this month since this is the time we’re celebrating Dusshera which is all about Rama defeating the demon king Ravana, about the goddess defeating a demon, and so basically about good defeating evil. While these stories aren’t about good and evil as such but about various qualities that ideal kings, and ideal humans must have (as well as I guess about human folly), but still they are traditional tales, this version being a translation of one dating back to the twelfth-thirteenth century. This is also Halloween month, and this book fits that theme as well, the main adventure leading the king to a fairly spooky cremation ground, with ghouls and corpses very much around. The vetal himself is a spirit who occupies a corpse. The cover of this one (the Puffin Classics ed) is quite perfect (and partly what attracted me to this version), King Vikramaditya with the Vetal on his back, the sinsipa tree which the vetal inhabits, an owl, a fire, skulls and bones, all done in three colours.

 

This story is basically about King Vikram who is charged by an ascetic with fetching a spirit, the Vetal back to him so as to conduct some rituals which will give him some extraordinary powers. Vikram sets off to do this, and after some effort in a terriifying place full of skulls and blood, body parts, and bloodcurdling shrieks, manages to catch hold of the vetal who hangs on a sinsipa (Indian rosewood/sheesham tree). No sooner does he start on his journey back, the vetal begins to recite a story, which ends with a puzzle. He tells Vikram that if he doesn’t answer the puzzle despite knowing the answer, his head will shatter to pieces. But as soon as Vikram gives an answer, the Vetal heads right back to the cremation ground, and his sinsipa tree, the process starting all over again. Vikram is patient and brave, and repeats the process, not merely one or two but twenty-four times, until finally there comes a puzzle that he can’t answer. But that isn’t the end of the adventure.

 

These are a fairly interesting read for me, mainly because while I was aware of the basic Vikram-Vetal storyline (from stories and TV adaptations), I had no idea how the story ended. The final riddle that Vikram really couldn’t answer, and how the consequences connected up with Vikram’s own story were the most interesting bits for me. The various stories that the Vetal narrates to Vikram, as I said, are to do with morality, and with folly—the characters are always perfect specimens in terms of looks, sometimes even qualities, or full of vice, and the riddle that is posed to Vikram is to do with who is the perfect embodiment of a particular quality or of a vice/folly. There is a lot of what people would describe as ‘insta-love’ to an extent that people are prepared to commit suicide merely after having set their eyes on someone, and a few more exaggerations, but a lot of these stories/collections that are intended to ‘teach’ are formatted in that way. Also every story pretty much begins with the place that the story is set in and its ruler, even if the ruler may not be the main character. The language that the translator/author has used to adapt the stories (this is a children’s version) also gives one a flavour of the kind of language and style of speech that the original stories would have used, which I liked. The stories that the vetal narrates I think would have probably been better had I read them one or two at a time rather than back-to-back else they begin to feel a little repetitive (even though the themes are not). And there is no answer to that final puzzle—they can’t really be, but I still would have liked to know what the thought-process would have been in that period. Still these were an interesting read for me overall, and would be a great introduction for anyone who wants to read the original at some point.

[I’ve mentioned this book a couple of times on this blog: here and here]

Shelf Control #19

 

 

Wow, it’s Wednesday yet again (wasn’t it just Wednesday???). And of course this means time for Shelf Control!!! Shelf Control is a feature that is hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies,and is all about celebrating the books waiting to be read on tour TBR. This is my nineteenth time participating. If you want to participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile and write a post on it. (and of course, do link it to Bookshelf Fantasies).

So this week, I chose to write about not one book, but two, a duology which I very recently acquired on kindle. This is the Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab, comprising This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet.

What these books are all about: This series, described as urban fantasy, is set in a grisly metropolis, Verity, opposite ends of which are ruled by the families of Kate Harker and August Flynn. This is a place where violence has begun to breed actual monsters. The two main characters are opposites, each trying to take after their respective fathers, Kate wanting to be ruthless, and August human and kind hearted. The truce that keeps their families at peace is crumbling, and August has been sent to spy on Kate. But an attempt on Kate’s life and to fasten the blame on August’s family has them running from both sides. In book 2, the war between monsters and humans has begun and Kate sees herself facing demons that she had never dreamed of, and August becoming the leader that he didn’t think he would.

Where and when I bought it: Just last week, these are once again among my latest acquisitions. There was a good deal on kindle and so I picked these up.

A Little about the Author: Schwab is an American fantasy author of several series, and writes both as Victoria Schwab and VE Schwab. She has written the Shades of Magic Series, and Villains series, among others.

Why I want to read them: I’ve been hearing a lot about the author who I’ve never read before and also about these books, on booktube (on a Clockwork Reader) as well as from one bookgroup on facebook. So I’ve decided to give them a try. Plus it does have some basis in Shakespeare, so should be interesting.

Time to ask the usual questions–have you read these (or either) before? What did you make of them (it), and of Schwab? Any others by her or in this genre that you’d like to recommend? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Opinions Opinions…

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WordPress told me a couple of days ago that it was three years since I started this blog. It was of course, but only technically. I’ve been actively blogging only since October last year, and only really so since March-April this year when I started to post more regularly. It’s been great fun. And I’d like to take this ‘anniversary’ as an opportunity to thank everyone who’s been reading, commenting, liking, and generally stopping by this blog. I’m having a wonderful time writing, and especially interacting with you all, and am looking forward to much much more as we go on.

And while it hasn’t been all that long, I’d still like to throw the question out there to all of you. How is everyone liking this blog? (criticisms included) What you like, what you don’t? The kind of posts you’d like to see more of? And those less of? 

Looking forward to hearing from everyone and lots of fun bookchat in the future!