Saturday, 28 February 2015

Friday, 27 February 2015

Review: All The Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin.


Book: All The Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Nevin

Pages: 388

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 4 days

Plot Summary: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

General Thoughts: Every time I see that a book is a mix of this book and that book, I am instantly put out. I hate books that exist simply because another book of the same genre has done well. Like all the sexy books that came after 50 Shades of Grey and alll the manyyyyyyyyyyyyy vampire books that came after Twilight. This book is said to be a mix between Eleanor and Park and The Fault in our Stars. I was in no tearing hurry to read this book. 

But sometime last week...I started reading this book and was pulled in by the characters of this book. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was just lovely. Simple but beautiful, genuine and heart-felt. I really enjoyed the style of writing. 

2. Finch....was just.......amazing. I loved him. He was magic, messy, smart, confused, hurting, angry, brave and just wonderful. 

3. Violet, I really liked her too. She is a writer, who isn't sure she is meant to be writing anymore. Normally, in books like this, split between two character, one tends to like one character more than the other. I definitely liked Finch more but I really liked Violet too. 

4. Split between Finch and Violet, we got to see their worlds very well and understood them and their issues well too! 

5. The bits about the 'wandering' was my absolute favourite. Travel, wanderlust and exploring are always great to read about. 

6. Many book and bookish things were mentioned in this book and of course I adored it all. 

7. Finch and Violet falling in love is also shown in a very genuine and slow and natural way. 

8. The book deals with many hard topics but each of these are dealt with sensitively. 

9. Violet has a blog/ezine and reading about a blogger just makes me happy. :) 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I felt like too many things, too many issues were cramped into one book. Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, depression, abuse, violence, bullying, death, loss and grief. Too many things for one book. 

2. I didn't understand Finch's parents, well his dad was an asshat but his mom? Why couldn't she see how her son was suffering? 

Rating: 4/5 

TRIGGER WARNINGS for Suicide, Self-Harm and Depression. If these things make you very uncomfortable...do not read this book. 

Also this book will break your heart..so be prepared for it. :) 

Project 365 2015: Week 8.


Day 50: Today was all about eating leftover birthday cake! I am still tickled silly over my darling little cake. It made me immeasurably happy. I could do with this cake right now. It was so yum. :)


Day 51: Some of my winter skincare essentials. I just love my skin in winter, it gets a bit dry but I just love that my skin is so much less oilier than usual. Dryness I can handle. A little cream here, a spot of serum there and oodles of body butter and I am all sorted.

Day 52: Pages of my Hobonichi Techo, specially Washi Taped for my birthday! I caught up on some journaling. 

Day 53: My very loved Ganesha pendant. I absolutely adore...adore this style of jewellery. Hand-painted art encased in silver. I have a fair amount of these pieces and I love all of them so much! 

Day 54: Got my polka socks on and heading out for Tea at a friend's home. Another thing I love about winter is the ability to wear socks! 



Day 55: Movie time! Went to the movies to watch a Bengali film called "Byomkesh Phire Elo' (Byomkesh Returns). It is based on a much loved Bengali detective called Byomkesh Bakshi and chronicles his crime solving adventures.



Day 56: Or rather night 56 involved a post dinner stroll. I love the old-fashioned lights in my hometown. Love their soft glow and their simple roundness. I love strolling around here. Seeing the sights and enjoying the quiet of late evenings. 

This was a good week. There were spells of being slightly blue, mostly the post-birthday kind. Also...the fact that my two month holiday is coming to an end, blue funks are to be expected. But I went out for a movie and watched two others and spend some time with interesting people...all of this helps in blue funks going away. 

This was my week in pictures. Hope you had a nice week too. See you here next week...expect more mentions of being blue since this is my last week in the hometown :(((((( 


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Review: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon.


Book: The Winter People

Author: Jennifer McMahon

Pages: 317

Read On: My Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

General Thoughts: I first heard of this book at the end of 2014, it made to several of the best books of 2014. And a horror book it was just my cup of tea. I looked for this book high and low and finally got it on my Kindle. I am glad I waited and read it recently. I read it under my quilt on very cold nights and that just added to my enjoyment.

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was really good, for a thriller especially the writing was good.

2. There are three story lines in this book and all of three plots are equally interesting and grabbed my attention, I wasn't bored with any of story lines.

3. I loved Ruthie and her investigation into the past and where her mother has vanished.

4. The 1908 bits were simply fantastic and I loved those bits best.

5. The book is creepy, weird and spooky- all good things!

6. Sara and her husband Martin and their story was just scary but also heart-breaking.

7. I loved the ending. How all the story-lines are resolved and come together in the end was rather nice.

8. The pace of this book was fantastic, I never wanted to put this book down, even when I couldn't keep my eyes open!

9. The atmosphere in this book was perfect, dark, gloomy, intense and just wonderful!

10. All the characters, and there are quite a few characters in this book, were fleshed out and developed very well. I felt like we got to know all of the characters very well.

Things I Didn't Like: 

Hmmm...the main twist..was a bit obvious-ish. The perpetrator was also highly guessable. I would have enjoyed a slightly more shocking twist.

But overall I really enjoyed this book.

Rating: 4/5 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

General Whimsy: Travel Companions.

There are several things that give us company in our life. Trusty shoes to cushion our feet. A watch that keeps time for us. A  wallet to hold our treasures. 

On this recent spell of traveling, these things have been my constant companions. 

A bag...to hold my many things. I chose this bag for it's size. It's big enough to hold all that I need- wallet, phone, camera, wooly hat, gum, sunglasses and candy. But she is still tiny enough to not get in the way of walks and seeing things. Plus she matches pretty much any outfit I might have in mind.
My bag is from Accessorize.  

Comfy shoes...I wore the Cheetah Print shoes especially since I was going to the forest. We were told that Leopards were often spotted where we were staying. Luckily, we didn't happen to see any leopards or cheetahs. My shoes were the only spotted creatures for miles! :) They are comfy and perfect since they hid all the dirt and mud on them. 
My shoes are from Westside. 

Glasses....I need them to see all the beauty around me. I did a massive stupid and left these glasses of mine out for the entire night! And I didn't even realize they were missing. Luckily I spotted them the next morning and they lay undisturbed where I'd left them. 
My glasses are from Titan Eye. 





Monday, 23 February 2015

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.


Book: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 285

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 4 hours

Plot Summary: Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
General Thoughts: I am no fan of Rainbow Rowell. Let's get that out of the way. I have read two other books by her and I was incredibly underwhelmed by them. In fact, I quite hated them and I never understood why there was so much hype surrounding her books?

This book is her most famous and most-loved work. I meant to read this book for a while but after reading and disliking her other books, I was a little put-off her books. But being on holiday and with a limited number of books, I turned to this book.

Things I Liked: 

1. The story was a very interesting one. Of first love. Of intense feelings. All very fun.

2. The writing was nice too.

3. The setting in the 1980s was also a nice touch.

4. I really, really loved Park. He is such a nice guy. Gentle. Evolved. Kind and such a great character to get to know.

5. The book switched from Park and Eleanor's perspectives. I liked this aspect of the book as we got to know both of our lead characters really well.

6. Eleanor's family life was a mess. A sad, tragic mess of abuse, neglect and poverty As sad as it was, this portion of the book made for a very riveting read.

7. I also really liked Park's family, especially his parents and their marriage and love.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. The ending seemed a bit rushed to me.

2. Also Eleanor's decision in the end was also a bit...off...uncalled for.

3. The slight big reveal in the end was wayyyy to easy to guess.

Rating: 3.5/5

This was quite easily my favourite ( I say this very lightly) Rainbow Rowell book, I liked the characters, the setting and enjoyed the book and read it pretty much in one sitting. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Travel Diary: Lataguri Forest Resort.





















Last weekend, I went away to the forest. 

And it was wonderful. I spent three days in the middle of nowhere. With trees. Sounds of birds. With a cool breeze. With green grass. With tranquility. With peace. It was wonderful to get away from city sounds and city fumes. 

I went there with my family and two sets of uncles and aunts. We laughed and talked and reminisced. We told ghost stories. We gossiped. We talked of grand-uncles and grand-aunts. We talked of family history. 
We ate. We drank. And we took in our surrounding. We made friends with the friendly stray pups. We ate simple but delicious Bengali food. I sat on the swing and swung hard. God, I hope I am never old enough to not enjoy the simple joy of a swing! We had a wonderful time! 

These pictures are of The Silver Ridge Forest Resort in Lataguri- a forest area in North Bengal. Lataguri is very close to my hometown. A mere hour or so away. I have in the past drive by and seen the forest in passing. But this time we got to stay there and experience the joy of living in the woods. At night we could hear owls hooting. Crickets chirping. In the mornings we heard a peacock coo, sadly, we didn't get to see her :(  

It was really cold but we were comfortable and cozy. My sister and I took long walks and even made friends with some very hungry goats! 

It was a lovely weekend. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver



Book: We Need To Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver

Pages: 400

I read it on: My Kindle

I read it: Across a few days

Plot Summary: Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. 

Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. 

Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

Thoughts: I should always go with my instincts when it comes to picking up books. We need to talk about Kevin is a book that I have picked up and put back on store shelves no fewer than 25 times (at the very least) since it released, got hyped and won awards in 2005! I have time and again picked it up, held on to it and ditched it last minute for something else. I should have stuck to my guns and not read this book at all. What a waste of time! Anyway, this could pretty much sum up my review of this book, but let me give you the usual 'lists' of likes and dislikes. 

What I Liked: In the spirit of being fair... 

  • The premise- the mother of a school shooter attempting to piece together what went wrong when with her son that led him to become what he is. School shootings are scarily regular and are always, always heartbreaking- all that innocence, all that potential.. just lost, gone. The second anniversary of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre was on December 14, 2014 and so, somewhere this tragic theme lurked around in my subconscious. So, I finally caved in and picked up this book because I thought it may offer an interesting perspective on a topic that is so senseless and awful! 
  • Eva's voice was brutally honest. She does not hold back and is critical of herself, Kevin and her husband Franklin (to whom these letters are addressed). Eva's not wanting to be a mother and, eventually, deciding to try for a baby to make her husband happy was well established. We got to see her internal struggles- between doing what was expected of her (already a wife, now become a mother) and what she wants to do (travel the world, grow her travel book business). Eva was someone I could empathize with and I felt her helplessness as Franklin did not see Kevin's budding sociopath tendencies like Eva did. So, Eva, as a character, was nicely done. 
  • Franklin's unwillingness to see the troublesome behaviour patterns of his son was also nicely done. There is always one naive, blind parent who believes in that age-old blanket explanation for a kid's bad behaviour- he's just a kid! Franklin is simplistic and sees the world in black and white and, to him, a child being manipulative and cruel is just incomprehensible! Even though the contrast between a super-aware parent and the clueless parent is a cliché and oh-so-convenient, but it works well in this case. 
What I Didn't Like: Quick list:

  • The author tries very hard to build the whole 'nature vs. nurture' debate to explain Kevin's actions. However, the author takes a very simplistic cop-out, non-nuanced route of 'Kevin was born evil' as a way of explaining who he is and why he did what he did. Look, there are children who display sociopath-like tendencies and earliest one can diagnose them is when they are older than five. In this book, however, Eva is convinced that Kevin was born bad- that even when he was a baby, he would cry and throw tantrums when he was alone with Eva and be perfectly behaved when Franklin got home. Ergo, Franklin not believing anything negative Eva had to say about Kevin. 
  • Connected to what I have just said above, the narrative of Kevin's actions have been conveniently summed up as a war between Eva and him, with Kevin doing everything he did to either trouble Eva or to get her attention (that's Eva's interpretation, at any rate)! I don't think kids like Kevin who end up shooting their classmates/other kids and teachers have any one, simple, clear-cut motive! The author failed to create a nuanced narrative to explain Kevin and his actions. 
  • There are two big reveals towards the end of the book. One was very obvious (this was about where Franklin was and why letters were being written to him) and the other (Kevin's weapon of choice) was a surprise and not-so-easily guessable. Both the big "mysteries" were rather lame. 
  • Kevin seems more like a cardboard cut-out than a real person. I understand that we are seeing this book from Eva's perspective and she herself does not understand her son, but that notwithstanding, Kevin only seems evil and vile and there is nothing else about him that his mother has even noticed... Eva goes on and on blaming herself for being an unloving mother to Kevin, but seriously?! Could any human being be so clueless that all they can see in their own child is only one aspect of his persona?! Can any kid just be all evil all of the time?! I don't think so! 
Rating: 2/5 
This is a very acclaimed book and, for me, it seems unworthy of that hype. This is a simplistic take on a complex and challenging issue and the book over-simplified it into a 'some are just born evil' narrative. Word to the wise, if you want to read a really well written and supremely chilling book on high school shootings, you are better off reading D.B.C. Pierre's Vernon 'God' Little

Friday, 20 February 2015

Review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler


Book: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Author: Karen Joy Fowler

Pages: 310

I read it on: My Kindle

I read it in: 8 hours across a few days

Plot Summary: Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.


What I Liked: Quick list:
  • The premise of this book seemed really, really interesting. A family that's a shadow of its former self, a girl who is no longer as loquacious as she used to be, a brother who is a fugitive and, to top it all, a mysterious missing sister! I thought this book had all the elements of a family drama with the bonus of a mystery thrown in.
  • *SPOILER* {I have to mention this here, else, this review will be a whole lotta nothing!} There is a lot of details about scientific and cosmetic testing on animals, which is all so cruel and stomach-turning that I had to stop and breathe and wipe away tears. So, why am I listing this under 'likes'?! Well, it is because all this information is very well researched and I am glad that Ms. Fowler included it in her book to show exactly how heartless and cruel human beings can really be! *END SPOILER* 
  • Fern's real identity was a nice twist. We don't get to see it upfront and it is revealed somewhere in the middle and it comes as a nice little surprise! 
  • I liked Rosemary's brother-Lowell. He is the only character in this book that I could connect to- his reactions to Fern going missing, his actions and why he becomes an eco terrorist all form a cogent narrative. 
  • I love, love, love how this book ends. I am a sucker for happy endings and I wanted some semblance of that in this story and I was so happy to get just that! Can't say any more, don't want to spoil the book. 

What I Didn't Like: Quite a few things! 
  • Rosemary was told to start her stories in the middle because she was a very talkative child! So, the author thought it would be oh-so-authentic and cute to write the book in the same goddamn way! Every narrative starts from the middle, goes to the end and then goes back to the beginning. Now, people may think of this as such an avant garde literary device, but it was just tiresome and annoying! I read a lot of complex literature and this was not complex or clever, it was just pointless and, for me, it dramatically reduced my engagement with the book! I was reading other books along with this one because this writing style (of starting in the middle) made this book so annoying for me! 
  • Rosemary was annoying! I didn't like her character as a child or a college student- too chirpy and weird in the former and too moody and such a follower in the latter. She does not grow on you, she keeps saying she misses Fern in the same way someone misses her limb but somehow that claim seems hollow and inauthentic! I think the connection between her and Fern could have been better built up during the course of the book. 
  • This book gets a lot of praise for capturing complex family dynamics, but, honestly, it is nothing one has not seen before! There is some amount of passive-aggressiveness and a lot of defeatism going on in the Cooke family- not very interesting, really. 
  • There were a bunch of annoying characters in this book, who brought nothing to the story at all! Rose's extended family, her new, highly erratic friend in college (so unmemorable that I have already forgotten her name!) and so on. None of them were easy to connect to and were just pointless! 
  • *SPOILER* A few things don't add up or make any sense! If Rosemary's parents were SO much in love with Fern that they were all reduced to shadows of themselves, then why did they not do anything to ensure she was safe and cared for?! They spent all their lives feeling sad, guilty or miserable about letting Fern go but no one apart from the brother really did anything to locate Fern or help her. So much for love! I think the suffering of the parents was over-done and seemed very fake. Bad character development and not creating enough of a backstory that makes Mr. and Mrs. Cooke's helplessness seem authentic. *END SPOILER* 

Rating: 2.5/5 
This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and I wonder why?! Actually, let me guess why.. it's quirky style of starting in the middle had something to do with it! I don't get the hype surrounding this book- it does not tell us anything new that we didn't learn from the new Planet of the Apes franchise and it is rather badly written! Your standards are falling, Man Booker! This is the simplest of narratives told in a manner that is cutesy at best and choppy at worst! UGH!

Not sure if I would recommend this book at all. However, if you don't mind all the elements that I didn't like about this book, then perhaps you ought to read it. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Project 365 2015: Week 7.

This was a pretty amazing week. It included travel and my birthday. So in some ways this was a near perfect week! 

I went to a Forest Resort and stayed in a little cottage in the middle of the forest. I took long walks. Mulled over story ideas and heard ghost stories. It was wonderful. 

I turned a year older and spend my birthday with family and having a bit of a feast. 

It was a really nice week! 

Let's see my week in pictures. 


Day 43: It was mostly a day preparing for travel, doing mundane but important tasks like charging camera batteries and my Kindle. Snapped this picture of these gorgeous Jagganathji idol. Made of wood and handcrafted. Love the use of colour and how adorable these idols look. We also have owls of a similar kind and I love them. 



Day 44: Lataguri...we arrived here in time for lunch. But first we took a long walk in the resort and I snapped a ton of pictures. I also spend an unnaturally long time on the swings! Ah! Sheer bliss swings are. 


Day 45: Early morning walk to the dining room for a spot of breakfast. Breakfast consister of crisp luchis and aaloor torkari and rossogolla. And 2 cups of coffee! I was up since 6:30 am and needed some coffee! 


Day 46: Winter in all it's glory. A tree without it's leaves. I wonder how she looks when she is in bloom. 


Day 47: A view to love. I spend most of this day staring at this view. It was a day well spent! 


Day 48: A day of seeing flowers. A day to stop and smell the flowers. To take a break and get excited about my birthday!


Day 49: MY BIRTHDAY! My cake this year brought me a lot of joy! I have wanted a cake like this for ages! When I was a kid, we had to get a huge cake for my birthday party and to send to family friends. So we couldn't order a silly cake. Not anymore! I finally got my cake of dreams. :)

See you again next week and I hope you had a nice week too! :) 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Travel Diary: The Leela Palace Hotel, Bangalore.

I've lived in Bangalore for 5 years. 
It's a city I love and a city I miss dearly. 

The last time I was in Bangalore, in September 2012, mere six months after having left it. The sister I stayed at The Leela Palace Hotel. A stunningly beautiful place to spend a few days and feel all pampered and relaxed. While we lived in Bangalore, we often went to the Galleria for a spot of shopping- at Anokhi- and to The Oxford Bookstore and Cha Bar. We always marveled at the beauty and magnificence of the place and said we should someday come and spend a weekend there. But we never did. It always feels a little silly to stay in a hotel in our own city. :) So we never did. 

Then we found ourselves in Bangalore for a long weekend and it was the perfect time to do something we've wanted to do for absolute ages. 

We stayed here for four days and had the best time in the world. These are some of the pictures I snapped there. 







The view from my little balcony. 


Late night room service is one of the best parts of staying at a hotel. We ordered these delicious sweet treats late and night and had ourselves a little feast! 


If you ever find yourself in Bangalore. I'd highly recommend staying at The Leela. I had a wonderful time there and I can't wait to go back! 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


Book: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Pages: 416

I read it on: My Kindle

I read it in: 8-9 hours across a couple of days

Plot Summary: On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

General Thoughts and Review: This is a beautifully written book about 17th century Amsterdam (in particular) and the Netherlands (in general). It is, essentially, a domestic drama with an element of the supernatural thrown in. If you go into this book thinking that there will be a big mystery that will be neatly revealed, then drop this book right now because if that's your expectation (and it is a fair one going by the book's description and summary on every book review and online store!), then this book will disappoint. 

The Miniaturist is not a neatly wrapped up story with the typical beginning-middle-end pieces in place. It is more of a snapshot of a period in the life of the Brandt family and there is no neat conclusion, more like a cliffhanger of sorts, which I found kind of frustrating. This book is almost like looking in through the window into the life of a family and then leaving at some point.. the family's life goes on but you don't get to see what happens. Sort of frustrating. 

I always like reading about countries during a specific time period, which is why I picked up this book because I had not really read any work of fiction set in the Netherlands during the late 17th century, when the country was at its peak of the Calvinist reformation movement and also getting enormously wealthy from colonizing Asian and African nations. So, the descriptions of the social and cultural mores of this period are nicely done and seem authentic and well researched. 

Of the various characters in the book, Nella is the only one we get to know and get under the skin of. The others merely flit through and you can pretty much guess why Johannes wants nothing to do with his beautiful and much younger bride! 

The supernatural aspect of this book stems from the little miniatures made by the mysterious 'miniaturist'. Nella finds these little figurines and bits and bobs showing up unasked for and these are almost always portents of something damaging happening to the Brandt family. However, the resolution of this sub-plot is far from satisfactory and, so, in the end, this whole supernatural device seems rather pointless! Like I said, in the beginning, don't get into this book thinking this is some kind of a supernatural mystery- it is not. 

Rating: 3/5 

If you want to read a good book that captures the various forces playing tug-of-war in Calvinist Amsterdam, then this is a good book. However, don't expect a neat closure or even a huge supernatural twist/sub-plot because the book does not deliver either of those.