Saturday, June 24, 2017

Anvita and Anika's Book Newsletter - June 2017

e-granth – Anvita and Anika's Book Newsletter, June 2017


From the Editor’s Desk

Here is the June Newsletter which you all have been waiting for. In this newsletter, I have decided to include sections, so that you readers, can navigate easily through the newsletter, searching for the section that might contain your favourite books. As my sister and I are alternating on who would run the newsletter, this time, it is I, Anvita Agarwal, who is editing the newsletter. This time, I have included books that have not been read by me for a long time. My sister provided the content for four books, and I added the rest. In the next newsletter, we mostly will have a section on the textbook reading we do.

Enjoy reading this newsletter!

- Anvita

Horrific Horror
As the name suggests, this section will have horror stories. Bunnicula and Araminta Spook are included in this section. This time, these books aren’t that scary, so people who don’t like spooky books, don’t worry. You won’t get too spooked out.

Bunnicula, A Rabbit Tale of Mystery

Vampires, Draculas and other horrific creatures are common. What about a bunny-dracula? Or should I say Bunnicula? This horrifyingly funny book is written by Deborah and James Howe, describing the odd behavior of a new pet rabbit. The rabbit has fangs, sleeps during the day and wakes up at night, and, has odd markings on his fur, more like a Dracula. Suspicious, the two pets of the house – Chester, the cat and Harold, the dog, are bent on finding out the mystery behind this odd rabbit. This is another one of my cousin’s books. I never wanted to open it until I was bored and decided to read something I hadn’t read before. It wasn’t that scary as it was funny. Young children would love reading this books, though it has a slightly chilling title and quote that says, ‘Today Vegetables...Tomorrow the world!’. This is a series of books, with seven books in it. Though I have read only one book in the series, I would love to read the rest of the six books. Anyone would love to sit and read these books without stopping to even have a sip of water. [link]

Araminta Spook
Looks like I have a taste of horror-comedy books this month. The second book I’m going to include in this newsletter, is a series of books written by Angie Sage – Araminta Spook. This is the third book that my cousin has given me, which I naturally read, because I have enjoyed the books she has given me till now. My cousin gave me the second book in the series, ‘The Sword in the Grotto’, which I enjoyed a lot. I then bought the first book, ‘My Haunted House’. More than scary, I found it adventurous and funny. All the characters in the book had hilarious dialogues (bar Araminta), and it didn’t feel boring after a small part of the book. I liked the second book more than the first one, though the first book is usually supposed to be the better one. I want to review the second book in this series, as I liked it more. The general idea of this book is how Araminta and Wanda, decide to fetch a sword kept in a dark and dangerous place for one of their ghost, Sir Horace’s five hundredth birthday. This book is something I’ve read a lot of times but never felt it to be boring, or that the storyline wavers in between. It is well written and is enjoyable. In fact, I’d love to say ‘Best Book Ever!’ [link]


BOOKALICIOUS
This is the third section, and as a matter of fact, it contains exactly three books! George’s Adventures, The Lemonade War and Horrible History: Wicked Words. These three books are truly lovely books, and I’m sure you won’t be bored by them. This section has the books I’d mainly want you to read.

THE LEMONADE WAR
I liked this book a lot. It talks about how Evan and Jessie, two siblings, start fighting, as Evan is embarrassed that his little sister is being promoted from second grade to fourth grade, the class he is going to, this year. Evan knows that he is not as good at Math and other subjects as Jessie is, and is afraid that he will feel ashamed that his sister knows more than him. Not wanting to tell Jessie this, he starts acting rude to her, which starts a full-fledged quarrel. They decide to have a bet. The one who earns one hundred dollars from their lemonade stand wins, and the loser should give the winner all his earnings during the war. This starts the Lemonade War. Who will win? Will Evan tell Jessie the truth behind his odd behavior? This is the main story. Jacqueline Davies has done a very good job in describing the sibling rivalry. She is mainly known for her Lemonade War series, though she has written many books. I have read two books, ‘The Lemonade War’ and the following book, ‘The Lemonade Crime’. Both were interesting and different. I enjoyed both a lot. There are business tips in between the book that are interesting, and important. She describes each character’s strengths and weaknesses properly, so you could understand when they face a problem, how they would handle it. She shows what happens in day to day life, jealousy. Jealousy is a feeling that is common between siblings. For example, when the mother praises one of the siblings for something, the other experiences this feeling. I liked the book, and really want to read the rest of the books in the series.[link]

Horrible Histories: Wicked Words


I got this book from a nearby library, trusting it to be hilarious, judging its cover. My father recommended me to read it, as it looked good, and I have read other books in this series. Recently, I’ve been reading a book like this called ‘The Knowledge: Triffic Chocolate’, as I enjoyed the book ‘Wicked Words’ so much. It isn’t a storybook, nor is it an encyclopedia. It is a mixture of both. It gives you a lot of information on how language came into use, what language is, who was the first one to use language, and a lot more. It talks a lot about different categories English words come under, like Acronyms. I enjoyed reading this book. It was hilarious, as it had illustrations that described precisely what they wanted to say. Towards the end, they give you a great deal of new tongue twisters. Here, I’ve provided two of them for you try: ‘Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers, such skill at sewing shirts our shy young sister Susie shows, some soldiers send epistles, say they’d sooner sleep in thistles, than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews’ or ‘There’s no need to light a night-light on a light night like tonight for a night-light’s a slight light for a night like tonight.’ If you have doubts on reading this, I’d ask you not to have them. It isn’t a boring encyclopedia, I can promise you that. Reading this will be filled with a lot of laughs and odd facts, full of fun knowledge.[link]


George Adventures, by Lucy and Stephen Hawking

 These series of adventures revolve around two kids George and Annie. They both are constantly having adventures in space, visiting different galaxies and what not. I know this sounds a bit farfetched but the truth was that they had a supercomputer named Cosmos. Cosmos was an amazing computer that could create a space portal that could take them anywhere in the Universe. He had been created by Eric who was Annie's dad, his old tutor and Graham Reeper. It once took them on a cosmic treasure hunt all over the Universe, got Eric trapped in a black hole, etc. This series of books were written by Stephen and Lucy Hawking. The books have lot of information in the books on space stuff.  There are small snippets and paragraphs in between. You get to learn a lot through them (even though I hardly look at it). It is a bit like the Magic Tree House series because both the books have information in the books through which you learn a lot and at the same time you don't get bored because of the story given. My dad had bought the first book for my sister. At first I found it boring and didn't understand it but as I grew older I got interested and enjoyed it a lot. I found out that there were two other books in the series and got them as e-books. Both were as good as the first. I loved the series and it was very enjoyable to read. [link]

HOT OR NOT
This section talks about books that we think are not too good, but not too bad at the same time, they’re just fine, and cannot decide. The section only contains one book, Sheltie in Danger. This is my opinion on the books, so it depends on your taste – you might like it or not.

SHELTIE IN DANGER
Sheltie in Danger is yet another book given to me by my cousin. It revolves around a brave, tough and strong Shetland pony named Sheltie, who is owned by a young girl named Emma and her family. One day during winter, when Emma is skating on a part of a frozen lake which she thinks is completely frozen, the ice cracks and Emma falls in. Sheltie rescues her but his legs get stuck in the sticky, gooey mud at the bottom of the lake, and cannot escape. Sheltie is rescued, but has very little chances of surviving. This is the storyline. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, but it was fine. It was not as good as I thought it would be. Usually I like reading animal stories, and half the time the books turn out to be good. Maybe I didn’t enjoy it as I didn’t read it at the right age. Peter Clover has written this book, and many other books, mainly ones that include animals, but he is best known for his series of books with Emma and Sheltie. Children of ages 8 to 10 might particularly enjoy these books.[link]

FORMIDABLE FANTASY
I’m sure everyone loves dragons, fairies, gnomes, pixies, elves, and all those lovely and wondrous creatures. For lovers of these creatures, I present to you, FORMIDABLE FANTASY. Allow this section to delight you with its wondrous creatures. This time, you get to decide between two of them- dragons and witches. So, which one do you choose?

The Worst Witch Series

This hilarious series of books written by Jill Murphy is interesting and enjoyable to read. The main character is Mildred Hubble also known as the ‘Worst Witch’. She is constantly getting into trouble and messing up things at Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches. However hard she tries she ends up making a dramatic entrance every year at her school. Her two best friends Maud and Enid stand by her side every time whereas her arch-enemy Ethel does not. Ethel is the teachers favorite and a brilliant at about everything. She tries her very best to make sure she gets Mildred into trouble and look bad in front of the teachers while she, Ethel shines. I know this sounds exactly like a scene between you and your enemy at school! She mostly did it in front H. B otherwise known as Miss Hardbroom. Miss Hardbroom was the unofficial and stern second in command after Miss Cackle, the Headmistress. The author Jill Murphy used to picture herself as Mildred Hubble as she too was constantly getting into trouble herself! I know this for a fact as I once had an English chapter on her when I was in second grade. The Worst Witch series is known to be her first series of books and was an enormous success. She has written many more books but is more commonly known by the Worst Witch series. I have read two of the books in the series and enjoyed them a lot. I love the series and am looking forward to reading a few more books too.[link]

The Dragon Slayers Academy

This is the first time I’ve read this book, and I really liked it. This is the first book in the series of four books, which is why the story is not completed at the end. It is written by Kate McMullan. It is a good book, and will be ideal for ambitious people, who love anything to do with dragons and knights, and all those creatures. I read it just yesterday, curious to know about the book I’d been avoiding for a long time. It is not a very long book, so I finished it in an hour. It talks about a young lad called Wiglaf, who is the runt of his family of fifteen, including himself, twelve brothers and his parents Fergus and Molwena. Though Wiglaf is the runt of the family, he has a kind heart, and dreams that he is born to be a hero. One day a poor minstrel tells Wiglaf that he is born to be a hero, after the minstrel reads Wiglaf’s fortune. The next day, Wiglaf sees a sign asking for admission to the DSA (Dragon Slayer’s Academy). Excited, he decides to seek his fortune there, with his parent’s approval (they are more than happy to get rid of him). I liked it a lot. It was funny at the same time it was adventurous. It doesn’t end the story, so I really want to read all the books to know the rest of it. [link]

PAW PAGES
Animals...cute, cute, animals. Everyone loves them. This section I dedicate to all dog lovers. After all, I quote, ‘Dog is the Man’s best friend’. Enjoy this series, and feel the pain our friendly friends, dogs feel. Happy Doggylicious reading!


The Call of the Wild
This is a book on a wolfhound named Buck. He lives in America, and is owned by a rich family, who fulfill all his whims and fancies. One day, he is kidnapped and sold somewhere in the Far North as a work dog. From that day, onwards, Buck starts to experience pain and misery, which he has never experienced before. Buck must live with courage, and not give up hope, to live with his new life. The Far North is full of greedy people wanting money, so he finds it difficult to obtain the affection he had before. I loved this classic. I was so touched, that I felt slightly emotional as I came to the end of the book. I was dumbfounded at the immense courage that Buck showed, and his condition at the start when he was not used to doing so much work. As I went through the book, I could experience all the emotions going through Buck throughout the book. It was a beautifully written book. Jack London wrote many books, and ‘Call of the Wild’, was one of them. Even though I felt it to be too sad at times, I couldn’t stop reading it, hoping something good might happen to Buck. This book has many good values hidden in it, courage, bravery, strength, and love are just a few of them. This was a recommendation by my father, as he said this classic was worth reading. I read it, as I know my father is correct most of the time, and because I’ve read a few classics like ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Oliver Twist’, A Christmas Carol’, ‘Little Women’, etc. I enjoyed all of them. I would really like people to read this book. It is a wonderful tale of courage. [link]

EPIC READING
For lovers of our rich culture, heritage, and especially our language. Two books under this section will be enjoyable to you lot of people. These two books talk a lot about our rich collection of books, or has snippets, and short stories from them. I personally enjoy these books, and I’m sure, so will you.

KARNA’S WIFE


This book talks about a character known to very few. She is rarely mentioned in most versions of the Mahabharata. Uruvi, the daughter of King Vahusha and Queen Shubhra, the princess of Pukeya and the wife of Karna. She is a playful, spirited young girl who grows up to and finds herself in love with Karna. Her parents disapprove of him due to his association with Duryodhana. in the end, she finally does get the man of her dreams but along with it she also gets a lot of criticism. Uruvi loved Karna and her new family was nice to her. Gradually she noticed that everyone around her had changed. They all treated her as a sutaputra's wife or an outcast between them. Would Uruvi learn to adapt to her surroundings and learn to live like that? This book is written by Kavita Kane and is fabulous. I have read two other books of hers and between the three and this one was the best. I found the other two to have a lot of romance included which I didn't like that much whereas Karna's wife was romance free. Everything was described through her eyes and based on her thoughts and feelings. It describes her worries before the Kurukshetra war, the shock of realization that Karna was destined to die and her repulsive feelings for Kunti on learning about Karna's birth. I read the first two books and learnt that there was a third. I found out that a library close to my house had the book and immediately borrowed it. There is a sort of magnetism in Kavita Kane's books that sort of makes you complete the whole book. [link]

The Culture Course
 
Weak in history? Well here's a way to learn history easily and in a fun way. Read the Culture Course to improve your learning. This set of books are a lot like the Purṇa Vidya series that were mentioned in the April edition. The Culture Course series narrate around 15 stories in each book. Based on each story there are 6-7 questions. There is only one difference between the Purṇa Vidya series and the Culture Course. Purna Vidya mostly talk about stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata whereas the Culture Course books narrate stories about folk tales, Mahabharata and Ramayana stories, stories about great rishis, the foundation of holy places, rituals, etc. These books talk a lot about the holy places in India and rituals performed there. I have finished the 4th book and am currently doing the sixth. These books teach you a lot about Hindu culture and at the same time they are very interesting. I enjoy reading and answering the questions in this series. [link]


NOTABLE BOOKS
Notable Books, is almost the same as Bookalicious, but here I really, really want you to read the books I mention her. Also, I am mentioning these books to you more formally, which means that even adults would love to read these books. The book I have picked for this section, suitably matches this section. Adults would love reading this, and can recommend the books under this section to others.

Ponniyin Selvan
History is full of names and dates, making it difficult to understand. This series of six books has taken the history of the Chozha empire and written it down in a fictional-fun way. It is extremely hilarious at times, and feels more like an interesting storybook than the history of the Chozha empire. It has been written by Kalki Krishnamurthy. The books name itself suggests that it will be on the Chozha empire, as Ponniyan Selvan is another name for the prince Arulmozhivarmar, popularly known as Raja Raja Chola. These books only go until the time Raja Raja Chola is coronated. The main characters are Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan, Azhwarkkadiyaan Nambi, Kundhavai Devi and a few more. It talks about the plots and plans to help overtake the Chozha empire. It is very interesting, and talks in detail about all the characters and plots. It was the first time I liked a book like this. It also talks about the true nature of some characters. The hilarious parts include the time when Azhwarkkadiyaan Nambi and a shaivite start fighting, insulting each other’s gods, making fun of them. It also starts to become hilarious when the great Vana warior Vallavarayan Vandiyathevan is brought into the picture. He usually tends to casually let go of funny sentences. I loved this book. I have all six of them at home, and have read only five of them. I am on my last one, and need to finish it.[link]

Thank you all for taking the time and patience to sit and read the newsletter that I have prepared for you. Hope you found it enjoyable, knowledgeable, and a good source of information.
You can download the original version of this newsletter, in PowerPoint form, here

-Anvita

© 2017, Anvita, Anika.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Six Spellmakers Of Dorabji Street

The Six Spellmakers of Dorabji Street, by Shabnam Meenwalla

Nivi, a young 12-year old has shifted to a quiet street in a boxy grey building where her family thinks is perfect for her to grow up . She is greeted quite comfortably by all her neighbors excluding  pie Mrs Braganza and crafty old Mrs Katodia.  These two old ladies are enemies but share one thing in common, their hatred for children and feel like destroying the peace in Cosy Castle and get the right opportunity when the boys in Cosy Castle playing cricket make one small mistake that gives Mrs Braganza and  Mrs Katodia referred to 'the dragon and the crone' the upper hand and this leads to the cutting of the beautiful Bimbli trees that Nivi, Sarita, Venu, Vijay, Nikhil and Rehaan referred to 'the six spellmakers' love. These old ladies join hands in order to plot against the children in Cosy Castle. Watch out spellmakers! There is trouble brewing up at Cosy Castle.

This book written by Shabhnam Minwalla is about a two hundred page long book which is an adventurous book which includes fantasy, but has touches of humour added to it. In this book all the characters have their own speciality. It stars Nivi as a shy girl who can open up when her near or dear ones are in danger. Sarita is a don't careish kind of girl and both of these girls share one thing in common which is their belief in fairies. Shabhnam Minwalla has written this book in a way in which once you pick up the book you don't feel like leaving the book till the last page. This book is a book that one must not miss.

To find out more join the six spellmakers down the lane of Dorabji Street in Mumbai and enter Cosy Castle to join them to find out the sinster plan of those two crafty ladies. Please read this book, The Six Spellmakers Of Dorabji Street.





Sunday, June 11, 2017

Scion of Ikshvaku, by Amish Tripathi - Review


The Scion of Ikshvaku

Amish has taken the story of the Ramayana, added his own ideas, and created all kinds of twists. So, do not mistake it to be the great epic, Ramayana. It is a fictional retelling of it. When I heard that it was a fictional retelling of the Ramayana, I got attracted to it. In the book, not all the characters are the way they are in the Ramayana. He has described some characters differently, so you might have to read that part again to understand it. One of his change in characters is when he has described Urmila. He has described the character of Urmila differently. I’ve read a few books on her, and they describe her to be a fiery, bold and brazen girl. In this book, he has described her be shy in nature.

Note: This review contains a few minor spoilers. People who want the book to remain a mystery can skip over those parts.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead. Skip the next paragraph, if you want the book to remain a complete surprise.

First, I’d like to start with describing to you a few changes in this story. One of the main surprises you will find is the difference in the relationship between Dasharatha and Ram. He has written that Dasharatha was not fond of Rama as he had gone to battle with Ravana the day Rama was born, and lost the battle. He took the child to be a bad omen and started intensely disliking the boy. This I thought Amish had taken a bit to the extreme. I liked most of his changes, but this one is not one that I cast a favourable eye upon. I don’t like it as he earlier in the book mentions that Dasharatha had wanted a child desperately. He married Kausalya, but she was not able to beget a child. He married Kaikeyi next, and finally Sumitra. He did all this so that he could get a son. When he did get one, he blamed the fact that he had lost a war on him! This is one of the things I have found slightly abrupt and strange.
After this, the book has lots of twists and changes. The next thing I found interesting was the mysterious behavior of Rishi Vashishta. The Rishi is said to be straightforward and knowledgeable, and is not said to have been involved in any mysterious work. In this book, it is said that he is involved in something mysterious. I liked this, as it made the reader want to know what the great Rishi was involved in. I will only mention another change, or the book will no longer remain a mystery. The last thing I really enjoyed was the change in the behavior of Vishvamitra with Rama. It is said in Amish’s book, that Vishvamitra did not favour Rama at all! This was surprising, but this behavior of Vishvamitra towards Rama turned out to be crucial, judging the turn of events later mentioned in the book.

I will also be giving you a small idea of the storyline. The story covers the birth of Rama, his marriage and it ends when they are in exile and Sita is abducted. It doesn’t go too much in detail with Rama’s childhood, but it does occasionally mention the pains that Rama had experienced during his childhood, by being neglected and ignored. Later everything is described in detail, as the rest of the book is extremely important. The book ends when Sita is abducted, and Rama sees the Pushpak Viman taking off with her. This is the first book, and the second book has been published too. Its title is ‘Sita, the Warrior Princess’. This book will talk about Sita and her life. This series may contain three or four books.

This book is extremely well written. I never felt bored and am really excited to read the second book, and then will be awaiting the arrival of his third book in this series. I really liked Amish’s creativity and ideas. He added so many twists which made the story one which you will want to read. I found each change in the story unique. The start of the book is slow, but later you really start to enjoy it. You might have to read some parts of the book again to understand it. It is a worthwhile book to read. It describes many things in detail, making it simple for the reader to understand. It is very different from the Ramayana and has many things that have been changed, but it does not make it unpleasant to read. Even kids of ages 10 to 12 will find the book enjoyable, as it has mystery, adventure and all those categories that children of that age read and enjoy. I trust that you all enjoyed the review and will want to read the ‘Scion of Ikshavaku’, and its following books.

The book was forced upon me by my father, who is constantly trying to pry me away from Harry Potter, and Narnia books, though he finds it very tough to. He gave me this book, hoping I would read it and help me give up my obsession over those books. I was not happy at first, but then I started to enjoy it.

Amazon US, Kindle US, Amazon IN, Kindle IN



Preview:


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Vamana Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Vamana Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

VAMANA PURANA
The Vamana Purana written by Bibek Debroy, is full of stories and interesting tales from the times of the asuras and the gods. This is the fourth review of the Puranas that I’ve written, so if you want any detailed information on what a Purana is, you can see them on my blog. Before I narrate a few stories that would catch your interest, I will tell you a bit about the Vamana Purana. The Vamana Purana is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, and also a rajasika, as it glorifies Brahma more than Vishnu and Shiva. It is not too long, as it only consists of ten thousand couplets. The ten thousand couplets are divided into a first part, Purva Bhaga and a second part called the Uttara Bhaga. The Vamana Purana has ninety-five chapters in all.

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