Sunday, 26 September 2021

Book Review: Tales from my Heart by Ruskin Bond.


Book: Tales from My Heart 

Author: Ruskin Bond 

Illustrator: Sumouli Dutta

Pages: 120 

Publisher: Red Panda (Westland Books) 

How Long it Took Me To Read: A couple of hours 

Plot Summary: Miss Kellner has a tin of biscuits that fascinates little Ruskin. And granny’s cat is just so full of attitude. Oh, and have you heard about the famous playback singer from Mumbai who sang for the ghost of the maestro Tansen?

Ruskin Bond’s charming life has been anything but ordinary. In this wonderful collection, he scours through his memories to come away with tales that celebrate life, its myriad splendours and many lessons; spectacular wonders of nature; stories of ghosts; and the surprising friendships between animals and people. Tales From My Heart, written in Bond’s inimitable style, is peppered with his trademark warmth and wit. Vividly illustrated by Sumouli Dutta, this is a gift for all readers, big and small—a family treasure to return to with joy and affection over the years.

Things I Liked:

1. This is such a heartwarming book filled with sweet anecdotes from Ruskin Bond's life coupled with beautiful illustrations and nuggets of wisdom. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. 

2. If you have read a lot of Ruskin Bond, which I have, you'll know some of the characters he refers to or revisits in this book. For instance, his Grandma, her maali, Miss Kellner, Aunt Emily etc. It is like visiting with old friends and stories about these beloved characters made me smile. 

3. Have I already mentioned how lovely the illustrations in this book are? I have? Okay, let me mention it once again and offer some visual proof. 

Isn't it lovely? Each little story has an illustration or two and I loved all of them! 

4. Ruskin Bond is a very wise man, who has lived an interesting life where he walked his own path and did what brought him joy. So, when he offers some advice, we must take it! This book contains some wonderful words of advice, which comes from having lived the kind of life he has. 

Rating: 5/5 

Highly recommended for kids of all ages- 9 to 90! :) 

Friday, 24 September 2021

Friday Favourites: 10 OTT Series and Movies We've Been Loving Lately

Hey, hey!

Since it is a Friday night, thought I'd share some of my recently watched and loved web series and movies  that my sister and I have really enjoyed recently. 

Let's get into it, shall we?

1. Home Before Dark Season 2 (on Apple TV+)

We watched and loved Home Before Dark (Season 1) on Apple TV+ earlier this year and really loved the storytelling, mystery and the little intrepid student detective/ journalist protagonist. The show's second season came out a few months ago and it did not disappoint. A very relevant mystery, which also helped tie up all the loose ends from Season 1. Highly recommend. 

2. Only Murders in the Building (on Hulu and Disney+ Hotstar) 

A crime comedy-is series where an unlike trio investigate a murder that takes place in their Upper West Side building and start a podcast to document their journey. A great mystery, fantastic writing and brilliant performances by Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez and an amazing ensemble cast, which also stars Nathan Lane! Run, run, run to watch this amazing show! 

3. Truth Be Told Season 2 (on Apple TV+) 

Season 1 of Truth Be Told was based on the book by Kathleen Barber called Are You Sleeping? which documents a podcast solving a twenty-year old murder and exonerating the innocent teenager accused of the crime. The series has returned for Season 2 with a new murder mystery and a podcast that's trying to solve it. Starring the magnificent Octavia Spencer as the podcast host and Kate Hudson, this show is quite riveting! 

4. REKKA- Rabindranath Ekhane Kokhonou Khete Ashenni (on Hoichoi) 

REKKA is a murder mystery that has a very interesting premise! Do not want to give away anything else and fully spoil it, but if you enjoy slightly macabre murder mysteries, then this is the show for you! Spooky and not-very-obvious, this is a fun series! 

5. Bhoot Police (on Disney+ Hotstar)

Comedy-Horror as a genre has been doing really well in the South for years now! So, it is no surprise that after the massive success of Stree, someone else would also make a movie of the same genre. Bhoot Police is a light ghost caper, which does have a heart. Watch it for funsies! 

6. Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (on Voot) 

Based on the best selling novel by Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol is a historical thriller set in Washington D.C., which features the return of Historian and Symbologist- Robert Langdon- who is racing against time to rescue his mentor from the clutches of a delusional killer. We are one episode in (only 1 has steamed so far) and we quite like it! 

7. What We Do In The Shadows (on Disney+ Hotstar)

A show that defies description, but let me try! A coven of ancient (most of them have been around since the 13th century) vampires living on Long Island, who are totally inept at 'life'! Add to the mix, a young man, who desperately wants to be a vampire and is working as one of the vampire's familiars. All kinds of chaos ensues as they navigate the modern world (at night), spar with werewolves and old flames and foes! Written by Taika Waititi, this show is insane hilarious! 

8. Anjaam Pathira (on MXPlayer and Sun NXT) 

A serial killer is targeting cops in Kerala and criminologist- Anwar Hussain- has to race against time to stop this brilliant killer before more cops are murdered. A brilliant thriller film that is a bit of a slow burn, do watch it if you enjoy this genre. Available with subtitles on Sun NXT and without on MXPlayer. Highly, highly recommend!  

9.  Ratsasan (on Sun NXT) 

Another brilliant Malayalam serial killer caper! Teenaged girls are getting abducted and brutally murdered. The only cop to understand the killer's pattern is someone, who wants to become a film director but ends up becoming a cop. No one takes him seriously till the body count keeps growing. Will he be able to stop this canny killer? Ratsasan is creepy, clever and really, really nicely made! It is streaming with subtitles on Sun NXT and if you enjoy serial killer movies, then is a must-watch! 

10. Cold Case (on Amazon Prime Video)

A young single mother and her little girl move into a new home on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. Soon, bizarre things start happening to them. There is a presence that wants to send the mother a message. Whose ghost is it? At the same time, a decayed corpse is found in a different suburb and the cops have no clue whose body it is! Are the two cases connected? How will this cold case be solved? 
A really interesting and different crime thriller film with a touch of horror. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Book Review: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell


Book: The Night She Disappeared 

Author: Lisa Jewell 

Pages: 464

Read on: Kindle 

Read in: ~5 hours 

Plot Summary: Mum, there's some people here from college, they asked me back to theirs. Just for an hour or so. Is that OK?'

Midsummer 2017: Teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.

At 11 p.m. she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30 a.m. Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home.

Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place.

Tallulah never returns.

2018: Walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.

A sign that says: DIG HERE . . .
A cold case. An abandoned mansion. 
A family hiding a terrible secret.

Things I Liked:

1. We've read several books by Lisa Jewell and have had a mixed experience with them. Here are some previous reviews- The Family Upstairs and The Girls. So, it was with some scepticism and trepidation that we bought this book, hoping that it would be as interesting as its premise. A girl gone missing for over a year and then, a woman new to town keeps being sent clues as to what could've happened to her. Makes me very happy to report that the book does stay true to the promised level of interest and engagement!

2. Missing persons cases are so heartbreaking because the family is left in this awful no-man's-land between hope and dread. On the one hand, you hope your loved one is still alive. On the other, you are petrified of thinking what condition they must be in if they are still alive! So, it is a horrible Catch-22 situation that one wouldn't wish upon their worst enemy. In this book, single mother- Kim- is left raising her grandson after her daughter- Lula- went missing one year ago after a casual night out with her friends. Kim has chased every lead, gone personally to look for her daughter as much as possible and has not given up hope that Lula will be found alive. 

3. We get to see events from two timelines- from one year ago before Lula went missing and present day when Sophie starts finding clues around her new home hinting at what could've happened to Lula and her boyfriend that fateful night. I found Lula's life- her relationship with her "baby daddy" and the new, posh friends she'd made- especially interesting. You can see in those relationships the seed of future disaster. However, since her controlling partner also went missing, you wonder what could've caused both to vanish together since they were hardly getting along! In the present day timeline, the multiple clues left on the grounds of the school, where Sophie's boyfriend is the new Head Master, and which was attended by the new posh friends Lula made, are also very interesting. 

4. The book is pretty fast-paced. There are various interesting sub-plots and characters and there is never  dull moment. There is no space and time wasted on tangential plots and characters, which is a huge pet peeve of mine in crime/thriller books. 

5. The denouement is interesting and only sort of guess-able. The events of the night Lula and her partner went missing, the identity of the leaver of clues and, finally, what became of Lula and her partner are all very interesting. You won't be disappointed. 

Rating: 4/5