So some weeks ago I was putting into writing all the mouse/rat related folklore of my country that I knew about. Continue reading
Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata by Devdutt Pattanaik
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The trouble with this book is that it reads like a school text book. A textbook that has abridged an epic to the point of turning it into a series of interconnected fables. The kind with morals. Minus the animals. Mostly.
Maybe this only bothers people like me who’ve read so many masterful translations of Mahabharat before this. I really only bought this book because the cover intrigued me. And also because Pattanaik called his book ‘Jaya’ which was the original title of the epic. It was clever and caught my attention. Continue reading
Hopefully, yes. I read a lot of books and think up reviews and criticisms in my head, but most never get posted here. Just in goodreads where a rushed job doesn’t hurt my blogger pride.
But recently I’ve been getting a lot of books (okay, three) from authors and agents to review. One actually arrived yesterday addressed to my goodreads username Honour and I swear I was about to send it over to the next street where a judge lives before remembering that it could very well be me.
I know it’s unsolicited book sending and I should have higher standards as a book reviewer but meh…free books!!
And since my parents taught me never to take freebies, the least I can do is write up a few honest reviews eh?
God Is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first thing readers of this book should know is that it really is an abridged version of the Bible and not a mockery of it. The title and the funny doodle might turn some away who’re looking for a serious work that tells you the stories in the Bible without patronization but I think the author does a good job here of striking a balance between appreciation for and examination of the lessons the old Book has to teach us.
I’d forgotten many of the stories (not being a Christian and having read it out of curiosity at sixteen) but with the illustrations and the funny narrative it’ll be a long time before I forget them again. This is a book that’ll tell you the stories simply, keeping the essence of the morals from the original. But readers should be warned that the author has not only rendered the stories in modern tongue but retold them through the lenses of modern sensibilities a well.
My history professor tells us that we shouldn’t judge actors of times past from contemporary perspective just because we know what turn history takes subsequently. While I agree with him completely, in a book like this that very same ‘fallacy’ makes the narrative even more relateable to a reader like me who is less interested in the spiritual value of the tales and more focused on the bits of history that is hidden between the lines.
For instance I’m looking into this online course on the Rise and Fall of Jerusalem and reading the Old Testament was excellent preparation for it. I’ll have to refer to the unabridged version to study quotes but as far as well connected narrative goes, I’m keeping God is Disappointed in You right beside me.
The final word of appreciation I can give this book is the effort made by the author to keep the stories flowing and somehow preventing them from mixing up in my head. The personality he gave the well known characters was absent when I’d read my school’s hard-bound copy of the Bible. This is also the reason that certain momentous hours held more meaning and evoked more emotions in me than the original ever did.
This book is by no means the best abridged version out there, but it’s one of the more entertaining and therefore more engaging retelling of the old parables.
Now, a short note on the only thing that seriously annoyed me: The illustrations (doodles?). Sometimes they were funny and worked in concert with the text and sometimes they were just random and seemingly unconnected with the story the author was telling. I wish a different artist had been chosen or a better job of editing had been done. They added very little to my enjoyment of the book.
To See Cruelty in Her Face
Characters: Eugenides and Attolia
Book: Queen of Attolia
Series: The Queen’s Thief
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
She dressed as always in imitation of Hephestia, but it was far easier to imagine the impersonal cruelty of the Great Goddess than to see cruelty in the face of the queen of Attolia. Looking at her, Eugenides smiled.
Attolia saw his smile, without any hint of self-effacement or flattery or opportunism, a smile wholly unlike that of any member of her court, and she hit him across the face with her open hand.