Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review #50: Renee's Treasure

9789352017188Name: Renee's Treasure
Author: Indrani Sinha
No. of Pages: 145
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 150/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Renee lives in a Railway Colony in Varanasi with her family. She has been promised a birthday gift by her Dadaji. In a sudden turn of events, she has to hunt for it through the lanes and by lanes of Varanasi, helped by her friends Anita and Sacchu. It must be kept a secret from the adults as Renee chases her dream in a race against time. Will Renee and Sacchu, venturing out for their secret exploits from the safe precincts of their Colony, ultimately find the treasure?

Indrani Sinha is a homemaker, who has taught in the primary section of various schools for many years. She loves reading, cooking and listening to old Hindi songs. She also likes to travel and see new places. Her father worked with the Indian Railways, so the family stayed in different towns because of his many transfers. During the course of her married life, she got the chance to live in many cities in India and interact with the people there. She and her husband are now settled in Delhi NCR.

It is Renee's eleventh birthday. Her paternal grandfather, Dadaji, tells her that he has got her a secret birthday gift. But she will have to find it on her own. Also she is not supposed to tell her parents. He will give her the first hint of the treasure hunt after she cuts her birthday cake in the evening. But in an unfortunate turn of events, Dadaji passes away later during the day, without giving her the first hint.

Renee's father is then transferred  to another locality in the city. On moving to their new quarters, Renee becomes friends with the siblings, Anita and Sacchu. The story is about their escapades to hunt for the promised treasure and how they got each others' backs when in trouble.

The story is set in 1960-61, in the city of Varanasi. That was a time when lives were less complicated and childhood was more innocent. The author well captures the essence of the times, relationship of kids with their parents and grandparents, and the innocence and comradeship in friendships. The author has also beautifully incorporated the visit of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip to India in 1961.

The story is well-paced with lucid language. To me, the book cover spelled nostalgia. It is a refreshing read. I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it for young children.

I give "Renee's Treasure" 4 stars on a scale of 5.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review #49: The Last Bloom

Name: The Last Bloom
Author: Poulomi Sengupta
No. of Pages: 396
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Frog Books (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing Pvt. Ltd.)
Price: Rs. 375/-
Published in: 2016

How did I get it? From (Wordit Content Design and Editing Services)

'The Last Bloom' is a story of Priya, her dreams, aspirations and struggles to fit into her new college life and its politics. Priya was ecstatic, as she was admitted to her dream college. All her visions of adventurous rock climbing trips, long night jollification with bosom friends, class bunking in lieu of movie shows, tasting lip smacking street side delicacies with classmates-a new exciting world would now unfold before her! But college is different from Priya's idyllic dreams. In an environment as opposed to that of school, exposed to an educational system, which is controlled by political unions, will naive Priya be able to survive without any political protection? Caught between the college hero Suvo's charming words and her acrid tussles with conceited college dropout Vivek, will immature Priya be able to differentiate between cajoling false comrades and brutally honest well-wishers? Often degraded by the skittish Shweta and saved by the blunt rebellious Aashi, will Priya be able to identify her friends and stand up for them, against fierce opposition? As Priya undertakes her journey of self-discovery, will she succumb to her deep-seated fears and insecurities or will she survive the ultimate test of time?

Poulomi Sengupta is an alumna of IIT Kharagpur. Presently working in Mumbai, she loves her share of kickboxing and a colourful dose of oil painting to brighten the apparently mundane life.

Priya has enrolled in her dream university and aspires to get quality education. But her expectations are shattered when she experiences that the students are more interested in politics than education. Being one of a handful of students who boycotts the boycott to attend classes, she is sidelined and looked down upon. Also, she is disliked by most of her classmates who had their education in vernacular medium unlike her English medium education.

The author tries to address various issues like;
-Survival in an environment of politics without being attached to any political group
-Does student politics really help students or does it hamper quality education
-The need of student politics
-Why do students really join political parties?
-Flaws in our education system
-Pros and cons of vernacular medium of education

I felt the author tried to talk too many things at one go. The plot had potential but the flow of writing lacks maturity. The author has a good repository of words, but the beauty of their usage is lost in the average writing style.

The incidents in Priya's student life are also very boringly depicted, topics are explained and discussed beyond necessity. A bit of philosophy is thrown here and there, and actually becomes overbearing. I feel it could have been a much better read.

I give "The Last Bloom" 2 stars on a scale of 5.