Friday, June 1, 2018

Ayesha and the Fire Fish by Ajay Chowdhury

Ayesha and the Fire Fish
by Ajay Chowdhury
category: children, fiction
Age: 8-12years
Reviewed by: Anika
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

Ayesha is on vacation with her parents. One night she was getting bored and was unable to sleep, so she decided to go for a walk along the beach where she was pulled into a hair-rising adventure. A talking dolphin takes her to the Queen of the Seas, Shekina. A huge problem is threatening the ocean world. Firefish, the life-giving source of the ocean are disappearing. If they disappear all the ocean life will die out and there will be chaos. Unable to say no to Shekina, Ayesha has to find out whoever is doing it and make it stop. Along with a surfboarding snail, Caroline, and her geeky cousin, Xander, she travels to many places and finds new things on the way. From shapeshifting killer dogs, to space-travelling giant beads, she discovers the truth behind the disappearing firefish.

I loved Caroline (the snail) aka Caro. I loved Caro’s dry and sarcastic comments and replies. She added a lot of humour and fun to the story. What surprised me was that Caro was so strong that she could defeat the giant killer dogs by herself. The book had a gripping plot and that’s what made me read it till the end. Though sometimes the story would lag a bit. For example, the starting was boring and not very clear when it explained what the firefish were. Another part is at the end when Ayesha meets the aliens, it is tough to understand what they are and why they need the Firefish.

Other than these few portions the rest of the book was fascinating.
© 2018, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Adventures of Stoob: A Difficult Stage by Samit Basu

The Adventures of Stoob: A Difficult Stage
by Samit Basu
category: children, fiction, school, humour
Age: 8-12years
Reviewed by: Anika
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

This is the second book in the Stoob series by Samit Basu. We have mentioned the first book in our November newsletter. The series is about a boy named Stoob and the hurdles he faces in school. In this book, Stoob is now in middle school. The year he had been waiting for his whole life. He is very relaxed and is finding a whole new world of freedom. With his new phone and no exams what more could he ask for. When the new play comes up it’s time for Stoob to show his acting talent and get the main role before it's too late. Alas, for all his high hopes and his effort, he got the role of a table, a mere table! Adding to his horror was the name of the play, 'Teen Rama Adventurez'. Everyone knew it to be the most boring television show on the planet. Luck changes when his guitar teacher takes over the play and gives Stoob one of the main roles. Will Stoob be able to do it or will he crack under the pressure? Will the play succeed or fail? And what is the nasty surprise waiting for them at the end? Pages of humour and an interesting plot makes this one my favourites.

Now, coming to my favourite parts, the best part in the book is when Stoob carries out his secret mission. It was so funny. I enjoyed watching the Suit (read the book to learn about him) stumble and lose his way and miss the opening night. I just loved it. Every book in the series has a new, comical and fantastic plot. I have re-read the series thrice. I would recommend this series for the age group of 9-12 years.

© 2018, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Middle School: Save Rafe! by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

 
Middle School: Save Rafe!
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
category: children, fiction, school, humour
Age: 8-12years
Reviewed by: Anika
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

This is another book in the Middle School series. In this book, after being kicked out of many schools’, Rafe was now at Airbrook Arts. Airbrook was bearable compared to the rest of the schools he had been to. Unfortunately, luck was not on Rafe's side. Just before school started, Rafe finds out that Airbrook Arts had closed down and he now had no place to go. One school finally decided to consider him, but to Rafe’s horror it was his old school HVMS (Hills Village Middle School). In sixth grade, Rafe had studied at HVMS. At the school, Rafe had broken almost every single rule in the student handbook, which had resulted in getting him expelled. Now he has no choice but to go back there. However, there is a catch. Before getting accepted, he has to go to a Survival Camp. At the camp, there were a number of tough obstacles. For each obstacle you completed you earned a badge. The goal of the camp was to earn 20 badges. If he didn’t manage to earn the badges he would be left with no school at all. The course was really tough, and they were provided with only one meal a day. Along with the new friends he makes, he must make sure that all of them work together and complete the course.

The book reminded me of when all kids are forced to do things we hate and have no option but to do them otherwise no TV or no IPad. Again, the illustrations were awesome. I also loved the comic strips that Rafe drew. The comic strips were about Loozer, a character which Rafe had created based on his own life. They are always filled with humour. Out of all the Middle School books I have read, this was one of my favourites because it was so different.



© 2018, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Middle School: The Worst Years of my life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Middle School: The Worst Years of my life
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
category: children, fiction, school, humour
Age: 8-12years
Reviewed by: Anika
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

This is the first book in the middle school series by the author James Patterson. It talks about a boy named Rafe Khatchadorian who lives with his mother, his sister Georgia and his almost step-father Carl or the Bear. It is the start of the school year and Rafe is enrolled into the Hills Village Middle School or HVMS. At HVMS everything is neat and orderly and has too many rules. Rafe is one of those people who can't follow rules and wants to break them. However, under the strict eye of Principal Dwight and Ida.P. Stricker he is unable to do anything. Then his best friend Leo the Silent comes up with a plan named Operation R.A.F.E (Rules Aren't For Everyone). The plan is to break every single rule In the HVMS student handbook. Leo keeps on awarding points depending on the rule broken. Three lives and more than a hundred rules. Will Rafe be able to break every single one of them before the school year ends and he is discovered? Soon there comes a time when he is walking on ice. Does Rafe have the courage to continue? The answers are in the book.

I found the plot nice and Operation R.A.F.E was my favourite part. I love how Rafe breaks the rules in such hilarious manners. When the truth about Leo was revealed I was shocked. I never expected it. The plot builds up interestingly and not a single past is boring. Anyone who hates rules should read it. Everyone else should read it too.

© 2018, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Rosa and the Special Prize (Magic Ballerina, Book 10) by Darcey Bussell

Rosa and the Special Prize (Magic Ballerina, Book 10)
by Darcey Bussell
category: children, fiction, fairy-tale
Age: 8-12years
Reviewed by: Anika
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

This is one of the books in the Magic Ballerina series. It talks about a girl named Rosa, who loves ballet and wants to become a famous ballerina like her mum. She also has a secret - she owns a pair of magic ballet shoes that take her to a magical world called Enchantia. All the characters from famous ballets live here. For example, the Nutcracker, the Sugarplum Fairy, etc.

This time when Rosa is taken to Enchantia a terrible problem has arisen. The sceptre of King Neptune (the king of the seas) is stolen. He believes that King Tristan, the king of the land had stolen it. King Neptune decided to flood the land and make huge storms till King Tristan returned it. Unfortunately, the problem was that King Tristan hadn't stolen it. It was up to Rosa and her friend Nutmeg, to find the sceptre in the vast sea and also the real culprit before the land and sea was torn apart by the storms. This was the first book in the Magic Ballerina series that I read. I found the book to have a simple and entertaining storyline. The best part was the dance which Rosa and Nutmeg did to become sea nymphs. I also liked the part when the real culprit is revealed. The only part that I didn't like was when the two girls were in the cave. It gets boring as all it talks about is Solly, a cave spirit. Other than that, it is a good read.
© 2018, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Vamana Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

Vamana Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is my eighteenth Purana review. This is my second – last rajsik Purana too. The Vamana Purana comes fourteenth in the list of Mahapuranas. It only has ten thousand shlokas. These shlokas are divided into a purva bhaga and an uttara bhaga. There are ninety-five chapters in the Purana. This Purana was first recited by Sage Pulastya to the rishi Narada.

This Purana talks more about the wars between the gods and the demons. It mentions the asura Andhaka a lot. It also focuses more on the formation of the goddess Durga except they call her Katyayani. The defeat of Mahishasura, Chanda, Munda and Raktajiva are described in great detail. The formation of Koushiki and Chamunda are talked about too.

In all these stories I found a very unique one. It talks about another vamana avatar of Vishnu. This story is given below.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Varaha Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy



Varaha Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is my sixteenth Purana review. It is a satvik Purana, so it concentrates more on Vishnu and glorifies him in his Varaha avatar. The Varaha Purana comes twelfth in the list of Mahapuranas. It has twenty-four thousand shlokas so it is medium sized in length. These shlokas are divided into two parts – the purva bhaga and the uttara bhaga. This purana is named so because it was narrated by Vishnu in his varaha avatar to the earth (prithvi). Prithvi had many questions and was also curious to know the powers of Vishnu and who he really was. In answer to these questions Vishnu narrated this Purana.

This Purana talks about rituals, sacrifices, fasts and major tirthas in detail. It also talks about the 35 ways in which varaha or a boar is connected to sacrifices and the Vedas.

Now let us move on to my favourite stories.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Agni Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

Agni Purana, (abridged) translation by Bibek Debroy

This is my fifteenth Purana review. It is also my last tamasik Purana review. The Agni Purana is an interesting Purana. It is eighth in the list of Mahapuranas. It is not too long, it has fifteen and a half thousand shlokas. These shlokas are further divided into three hundred and eighty-three chapters. The Agni Purana is named thus as it was narrated by the fire – god Agni. Vashishta narrated this Purana to Vedavyasa. Vedavyasa narrated it to Suta who narrated it to some sages in the Namisharanya forest. This Purana has lots of information on rituals, omens, social norms, duties of a king, etc. There are very few stories and even those are in a summarized form. Apart from this, it also narrates the ten avatars of Vishnu along with a short version of the Mahabharata. The duties of a king are described as well.

Now let me narrate my favourite story.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Brahmavaivarta Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

Brahmavaivarta Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is my nineteenth and last Purana review. It is my last rajsik Purana. The Brahmavaivarta Purana comes eighth in the list of Mahapuranas. It has a total of eighteen thousand shlokas and is medium in length. These shlokas are divide into four khandas. They are the Brahma khanda, the Prakriti khanda, the Ganesha khanda and the Srikrishnajanma khanda.

Although this Purana is a rajsik purana it glorifies Krishna more. Krishna is said to be the creator. He is identified with the brahman and is said to have created Shiva, Brahma and Narayana from his own body. This is slightly confusing as it describes Krishna’s type of creation and Brahma’s creation at the same time. This is one of the few Puranas that talk about Krishna in great detail.

In Krishna’s creation, all the gods and goddesses emerged from different parts of his body like his chest, mouth, mind, etc.

In Brahma’s creation, the world was formed from a golden egg.

Like most Puranas this one also starts in the Naimisharanya forest. The narrator is Souti or Suta who is the son of Lomaharshana. On the request of some sages Souti narrates the Brahmavaivarta Purana.

This was a very interesting Purana. It had so much new information. Most of it was in the form of stories. I learnt lots of stuff. Out of this information I picked out the most interesting bits and have given it below.

Have you wondered why Narada was named Narada? What is the meaning of the name? The answers to this are given below.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Narada Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

Narada Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

Before you start reading please recite this prayer:

Narayanam namaskritya

Naranchaiva narottamam devim
Sarasvatinchaiva tato Jayamudiyaret


You should recite this prayer and pray to Nara and Narayan. Only after you do this should you start reading any sacred text.

Let us start the review now.

This is my seventeenth Purana review. It is also my last sattvika purana. The Narada Purana comes sixth in the list of Mahapuranas. It has twenty-five thousand shlokas which are divided into the purva bhaga and the uttara bhaga. There are a total of thirty-eight chapters in this Purana. This Purana is also called a vrihat purana. Vrihat means vast. Like most Puranas this one also starts in the Naimisharanya forest. However, this time the narrator is not Lomaharshana but his son Suta.

I will also give a little information on the title of this Purana. The name of this Purana is Narada Purana as it was first recited by the sage Narada to Sanatkumar.

I will now narrate my favourite stories.