Sunday, May 7, 2017

Anvita and Anika's Book Newsletter - April 2017

 This is a monthly newsletter, on books that can be read, books we have read and mostly a lot of information on books. This one is the first edition, and has been edited by me, Anvita Agarwal. Some of the content has been provided by my sister, Anika, on books she read. This being my first newsletter, I focused on authors I really knew about, so I could write about their books with ease. Venita Coelho, Kavita Kane, David Walliams and J.K Rowling are authors I am familiar with. I have included many sections in them, so you can pick the section you want to look at. I have enlisted the sections below:

A Series of Unfortunate Events: This series of books has recently been converted to a T.V serial with episodes in the first season. The series of 13 books revolves around three siblings, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, and their unfortunate lives which all started when their parents died. They were sent to live with a terrible man, Count Olaf. Count Olaf was an evil, distantly related relative of theirs. He plotted and planned in all thirteen books, on ways to steal the three siblings’ fortune. This series was extremely interesting, and, it forces a person to read it, even if a person doesn’t want to. Lemony Snicket does so by dissuading the reader from reading his book. As we humans are too curious, we tend to pick it up! This is called reverse psychology. The only reason I picked this book up was because of the blurb written at the back. He described the book to be full of adventure and unfortunate events, which appealed to me. [link]

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: You all must have heard of this book. It is a textbook casually dropped in the Harry Potter series, in the book lists. J.K Rowling later writes this book as a screenplay, and it becomes so famous that it got turned into a movie later! I only read this book after continuous chiding from my friends, on the wonderful movie. J.K Rowling describes each scene with such importance, that I can imagine the whole story going about in my head. It talks about a wizard Newt Scamander and his fantastic beasts during the time of Grindelwald, a famous dark wizard. A small accident occurs and a few of his creatures are let loose, and this causes a slight problem. Meanwhile, an Obscurus, a dangerous force, is going around killing muggles and threatening to endanger the Magical Community. This fabulously written book has been turned into a movie with Eddie Redmayne as the star, who really did justice to the character of Newt Scamander, and fit into the character perfectly. [link]

Just Add Magic: Three BFFs - Kelly, Hannah, and Darbie - find a magical cookbook that leads them to cooking recipes with strange consequences. They start doing so to help Kelly’s grandma, who they believe is under a spell. On their journey through cooking, they meet sinister people like Mama P, and unknown friends like Miss Silvers, a strange old lady. This wonderful series has been turned into a movie with Olivia Sanabia as Kelly Quinn, Abby Donnelly as Darbie O’ Brien and Aubrey Miller as Hannah Parker-Kent. (Amazon Prime.) I never knew of this serial before. I found out about this serial by pure accident. One day I was casually scrolling through the kids’ section in Amazon Prime when I landed upon this. After reading the storyline I wanted to see it, as I’m a fan of anything to do with magic. The episodes got more interesting as they continued. Each episode ended with something mysterious going on. This way a person would continue seeing it, even though they wouldn’t want to, to uncover the mystery. [link]

Tiger by the Tail: Kela, a langur, is Agent 013; Bagha, a tiger, is Agent 002 and has a license to kill; and Rana, Agent 11.5, is a human, and all three are agents from the AIA (Animal Intelligence Agency). They must rescue the tigers that are being taken to China for illegal activities. Venita Coelho has protested against animal trade through this book in an interesting manner. [link]



Dead as A Dodo: Rana, Bagha and Kela are three agents from the AIA on a mission. They discover that the extinct species, the Dodo is alive! Only one managed to survive and is held at Mauritius, South America. They go to Mauritius but the dodo is taken by another person. Their job is to rescue the dodo, Sam, and find a home where people won’t try to hurt him. [link]


Monkey See, Monkey Do: This is another book written by Venita Coelho. Bagha, Kela and Rana are off on another mission to rescue the animals on whom cosmetic products are being tested. On their way, they encounter a dangerous silverback gorilla called Alpha who detests humans and his goal is to wipe out the entire human race. Rana, Kela and Bagha must rescue the animals and deal with Alpha. [link]


Tiger by the tail, Dead as a Dodo and Monkey See, Monkey Do are the three books I absolutely enjoyed to the core. My father got me Tiger by the Tail, as my birthday present. The book doesn’t look that interesting. I took it to be a book filled with facts about tigers only. I read it even though I wasn’t sure about my interest in the book. It was so well written, I couldn’t get up until I had read the complete book. It was hilarious! After my younger sister came across this book, she loved it so much that she decided to buy the other two books in this series, Monkey See, Monkey Do, and Dead as a Dodo. Dead as a Dodo was my favourite between the three. The hysterics of Sam, the Dodo, Kela’s hilarious comments on the wrong time, and Bagha’s angry remarks were the stars of the book.

Ambushed: Tara, a modern-day girl is dismayed when she learns that she is going to spend her holidays near a sleepy tiger reserve at the foot of the Himalayas. Later she discovers a famous poaching gang. With the help of Satya and a friendly wildlife expert Rathore they decide to catch the poachers. I came across this book in an edition of the Sanctuary Magazine. The review of the book was interesting. I decided to buy the book after reading the review. Ambushed was as an amazing book and uncovers the different ways of poaching in India. The book was lovely. [link]



Sanctuary Magazine: This monthly magazine talks about different and unique animals that are not known to many. It describes the different experiences of different people. It has many pictures that wordlessly show the beauty of nature. The best issues that I felt from the year 2016 were the January, March, and May editions. My father had subscribed to this magazine and told us it was a good magazine to read. I started reading it and soon realized how amazing it was. I learnt about many other animals and plants that I was oblivious to. The other editions were just as amazing. It was a pleasure reading them.

Dungeon Tales: This book may look like a bridged version of the Arabian Nights, but they aren’t. This is also written by Venita Coelho. The stories were different and unusual. Dungeon tales is a collection of stories that are narrated by prisoners of an evil Badshah, called the Badmash Badshah. This evil ruler had usurped the throne and killed all the royal members of the family. A dying member of the family had cursed him that when his prison is empty, his time of doom would come. One of his prisoners suggested that he call each of his prisoners, listen to their story and then decide whether or whether not to forgive them. This way, he would listen to one story each night. [link]



Mr. Stink: This book is about Chloe, a lonely twelve-year-old. One day she plucks up the courage to talk to a tramp whose name is Mr. Stink, and the name suits him, as a pungent smell always surrounds him. They slowly become fast and firm friends. Chloe’s mother was trying to become mayor. Her rules stated that all tramps ought to be moved off the streets. A worried Chloe does not want to lose her friend. She does a drastic move and moves Mr. Stink into her garden shed. Now Chloe is trapped between Mr. Stink and her mother. This book is another one of David Walliams bestsellers. My favourite piece was the interview of Chloe’s mother and Mr. Stink. I also like the hilarious side comments that Mr. Stink suddenly puts in between. It too has the feeling of wanting to read more. This book is also another amazingly written book. I loved it. [link]


Gangsta Granny: Ben’s granny is very old and boring. She just likes sitting around eating cabbage and playing scrabble. Ben dreads going to Granny’s house as he gets very, very bored. Little did he know that granny was not as boring as she looked. His boring granny was the Black Cat, an international jewel thief! My favourite bit is when Ben and his granny start planning to steal the Crown Jewels. David Walliams has described the thrill of adventure wonderfully. I really enjoyed the way the story had been created. It makes you want to read more. It was a fantastic book. [link]


What-If: This book talks about weird and worrying questions that often pop up. Randall Munroe has answered many such questions in this book. It answers all these questions scientifically, with hilarious illustrations to emphasis these points. I never wanted to read this book as I don’t like reading books on science like this. I admit I liked it, but I was reluctant to read since I don’t really like reading science books. [link]



JOY OF X: It is a book explaining mathematical topics in a simple manner. Steven Strogatz explains simple concepts in a fun way that helps you understand them. I enjoyed it. [link]



Purna Vidya: Purna Vidya is a series of books that explain to us our Hindu Culture, our epics and various stories. They have many activities that help us have fun as well as learn our culture. They have many books that should be read to a child from childhood. [link, website]



Sita’s Sister: This book is set in the time of the Ramayana. It talks about a character rarely noticed, Urmila, Sita’s younger sister. The book describes everything through Urmila’s eyes. It concentrates on her emotions and feelings. It also describes her long internal struggle as she is separated from her husband for 14 long years. I thought that Urmila must have been a woman of exceptional strength that she was able to bear 14 years of separation. I as a kid felt that the book could have done with a little less romance. Kavita Kane has described everything really nicely. I usually don’t read many non-fiction books but this book was written so beautifully that even I couldn’t stop myself. The story has been written wonderfully. I like Kavita Kane’s style of writing. It is very good. I really felt that this was a book worth reading. [link, Anika’s review]

Feluda (Volume 1): The book revolves around Feluda, a twenty-seven-year-old amateur detective. He is usually accompanied by his thirteen-year-old cousin Topshe. All of Feluda’s adventures have been described through Topshe’s eyes. Topshe too is aspiring to be a detective and is Feluda’s assistant. Feluda has an amazing observation due to which most of the mysteries are solved. I think Feluda is the Indian Sherlock Holmes. My favourite story was the ‘Kailash Choudhary Jewel’. It was the first of the Feluda stories that I had read. This book talks about a shikari named Kailash Choudhary, his brother Kedar and a precious blue jewel. Kailash Choudhary had been receiving anonymous notes and phone calls. Each of them threatening him about a precious blue jewel found in a hidden temple. This investigation nearly gets them run over by a car. Each adventure turns out to be tougher than the other. Each mystery uses all of Feluda’s skills to get to a satisfactory answer. [link]

Moin the Monster Songster: This book is about a boy named Moin. He has a real, live monster living under his bed. The surprising thing is that the monster sings, and brags about being the best singer. He is continually singing and this gets Moin into serious trouble as everyone thinks it is Moin singing. The book doesn’t have a good storyline. I would not recommend it for children above 5 years of age. My sister saw this book mentioned in another story and decided to buy it. Both of us read it and felt the book did not capture our attention. [link]



This newsletter is a planned monthly newsletter on books that Anvita and Anika read, find interesting, plan on reading, read and liked, read but didn’t like, and everything in-between. Some help in formatting and layout was provided by Abhinav Agarwal (@abhinavagarwal)
© 2017, Anvita and Anika Agarwal.
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