Books are the Biggest Blessing! #AtoZChallenge

Why Reading Books is More Important Now Than Ever Before!

Reading a biography of Bollywood veteran actor Shammi Kapoor by Senior film journalist Rauf Ahmed. I’m not big on biographies, but I thoroughly enjoyed exploring a genre outside my comfort zone with this one!

I’m sick. That sounds particularly ominous in these covidian times, and believe me I’m scared. I started coughing a couple of days ago and kept worrying that I had caught the dreaded virus, but the cough is progressing into the seasonal laryngitis that usually happens to me. It begins with a cough and minor congestion and leads to a complete loss of my voice for about a week. Now that I’m at the croaking stage, without any other telltale symptoms like fever or body aches, I think it’s just good ol’ laryngitis after all.

Don’t worry though, if the situation gets worse, I’ll be the first one to get tested for corona- just saying! It’s funny how a cough is now more worrisome than a serious disease.

I’ve been in self-isolation for 17 days, having begun well before the nation’s lockdown. My only outings have been 3 trips to the grocery store/ chemist, with extreme caution being exercised (masks, sanitiser after every transaction, shower and change of clothes after returning home!), so, I’m unsure where I could’ve caught it even if I did. Could it be community transmission, despite our government’s vehement denial of its existence?!! Hmmm… The verdict is out on this one guys.

For now, let’s leave it at laryngitis and I shall keep you posted here with any developments.

As I think of a new tip to beat lockdown blues every day, books often present themselves as a universal solution.

Readers are often introverts and home-bodies, rarely needing entertainment other than books,. Take a lesson from readers and start reading during the lockdown.

There are many benefits to reading books-

  1. You improve your knowledge
  2. You improve your vocabulary and grammar skills
  3. You become a better writer
  4. You can express your emotions better
  5. You learn to think creatively and out of the box
  6. You are never bored as long as you have a good book to read
  7. Books stand in for your friends in case you don’t have them around

While juggling jobs with daily lives, it’s hard for people to make time for reading. Hence, the lockdown is the best time to hone this wonderful habit. It has never been easier to access books from around the world – you can choose from e-books and audiobooks! However, if you are already an inveterate reader like I am, I have a different idea for you.

So, my tip to beat the lockdown blues today is:

Find a book in your personal library or your parents/husband/wife/sibling/in-laws collection, that’ doesn’t belong to a genre that you enjoy reading. It’s the best time to move out of your comfort zone and explore a new genre. If you don’t have an extensive collection of books at home, you can download an e-book that you wouldn’t otherwise pick. Who knows, you may discover a new side of your personality?!

I, do however, highly recommend reading reviews of the books before investing in them, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the genre- Goodreads to the rescue!

Talking of books, my recommendation with the alphabet B is:

Beloved” by Toni Morrison, which is set in the aftermath of the American Civil War in the 19th century. It’s the fantastic story of a freed former slave who chooses to kill her child rather than have her enslaved again, only to be haunted by her ghost. Through a plot based on paranormal activity, this Pulitzer-prize winning novel, explores important themes of freedom, self-will and love among the African American community. A heavy topic but a must-read.

On a lighter note, here’s the TV show I’ve been thinking of today:

“Bewitched” is an American comedy show from the 1970s that aired on Sony TV in India throughout the 90s and was an essential part of my childhood. The show is about a witch who is married to a human, leading to plenty of hilarious antics in their life. Though it’s not available for streaming, some of the episodes are on Youtube. If you’re a 90s kid who grew up in India, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this enjoyable trip down memory lane.

As for my blogger recommendation with the letter B:

Who else but Blogchatter right? These guys have changed the way India blogs through their innovative community campaigns. Their curated newsletters are some of the only blogging related ones I read regularly, and that’s saying a lot.

Another blog I’d like to mention is www.beingathinkaholic.com written by my friend Arushi Seth. Her parenting posts are painstakingly detailed and thoroughly informative, but I most appreciate the liberal writer’s voice that inadvertently shines through in some posts.

That’s it for today folks.

Do check out my daily update videos on Instagram Stories for #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer and follow me there to stay better connected. Also tell me your favourite TV Shows/ movies/ books/ bloggers with the letter B? I’ll see you every day this month with some random lockdown thoughts and lots of recommendations.

Bye till tomorrow!

This post has been written for the #AtoZChallenge 2020. My theme this year is #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer, where I’m journaling my thoughts during the coronavirus lockdown, and sharing numerous recommendations that will help keep your spirits up.

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*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

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9 Books That I Can Read Over and Over Again!

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I associate the winter months with comfort reading. Nothing beats the feeling of cuddling up under a blanket with a hot cuppa and a good book.

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself losing patience with not-so-great books. Unfortunately, my job as a book reviewer, forces me to read many average and below average books. So, when I want the comfort of reading a truly good book, I re-read my favourites. There are some books that never lose their charm, despite having been read 5-10 times over the years! In fact, I often discover something new I like about that particular book when I read it after a few years. Today, I’ll share a list of the books and book series that I love, which I have re-read over and over. All these books are works of fiction as that is my favoured genre. I would love it if you shared your favourite books in the comments section below- we may have some in common!

  1. GONE WITH THE WIND BY MARGARET MITCHELL:

This is my all-time favourite book. The unusual love story between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler caught my imagination at a very young age. Apart from the love story, America’s Civil War and the difficult period that followed it, is portrayed beautifully from a Southerner’s point of view. In fact, this book inspired me to study American History in college. It’s a large tome of over 1000 pages but I finished it in 3 days, and re-read my favourite portions over and over till the book was in tatters!

Buy “Gone with the Wind”

Continue reading → 9 Books That I Can Read Over and Over Again!

New Books to Buy For Your Children: Honest Mini-Reviews

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Hi everyone, once a month I do a round-up of the books I have read and reviewed recently. You can read the previous months’ posts here and here. The books I’m reviewing today are meant for children 7 and up. Read on to know my honest thoughts:

  1. FLYAWAY BOY by JANE DE SUZA:

This heartwarming book should be required reading for every child. Kabir, a naughty yet creative and imaginative boy has a tough time fitting into “boxes” prescribed by society and school. When he runs away, his family and peers are forced to view the world through his eyes, and life is a lot better when you think out of the box!

The story line is wonderful, and the easy readability and timely use of illustrations and poetry make it even more interesting.

It is a must-read for all children but especially for those considered “troublesome” or those who find it difficult to fit in.

Rating: 5/5

Buy the book here

2. SHRILOK HOMELESS: THE ULTIMATE ADVENTURES VOLUME 2 by PIKA NANI

Clearly modelled on the Sherlock Holmes series, this Mumbai based teen detective is a captivating character.

The stories are innovative and well-written. Pika Nani (Deepika Murthy) has done a good job of incorporating the iconic traits of the original detective in a  contemporary Indian context.

Unfortunately, I feel the stories are too short and move too fast, making the plots seem implausible and over the top. Nevertheless, it’s a good introduction to detective fiction for children ages 7 and up.

Rating: 3/5

Buy the book here

3. MIDDLE SCHOOL: BORN TO ROCK by JAMES PATTERSON AND CHRIS TEBBETTS

The protagonist is an endearing girl called Georgia, and the story revolves around her life in middle school. This includes a troublemaker of a brother, her best friends and band mates, her crush as well as her arch enemy- the super popular Missy.

The story is a typical American school drama, similar to the Sweet Valley’s I read at a young age. However, this is more contemporary in its handling and funnier too. The awesome illustrations enhance the reading experience. Even if your child hasn’t read the other books in the “Middle School” series, they will find this easy to read.

It’s written for both girls and boys and I appreciate that it doesn’t fall into a stereotype. The book is entertaining and engaging and will appeal to young minds.

Rating: 4/5

Buy the book here

4. HOW THE SEA BECAME SALTY by SUDHA MURTHY:

Murthy’s strength as an author lies in her simple and relatable writing style. She has a lovely way with words as well as the ability to create a credible atmosphere.

The story itself is very similar to the classic children’s tale, “The Magic Porridge Pot”. I was a bit disappointed to see an old story simply rehashed in a different context, but perhaps most of her readership hasn’t read the original version.

The illustrations are nice and complementary to the storyline. However, it is well-written and readable.

Rating: 3/5

Buy the book here

5. THE INDIAN MILITARY SERVICES SERIES by ARTHY MUTHANNA SINGH AND MAMTA NAINY:

The books are written from the perspective of people enlisted in the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. Each story talks about the lives and duties of military officers, and how their families feel about these honourable yet dangerous jobs.

These books are great for children of parents who are in the military services, and also for children who have no idea about our country’s protecters. I highly recommend each of these books. They are well-written with a wealth of information and lovely illustrations.

I do however, feel that the books would have been even more engaging in a comic/graphic novel format.

Rating: 4/5

Buy the books here

I hope you enjoyed these mini-reviews. Let me know in the comments what your children have enjoyed reading recently!

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*This is not a sponsored post, however it contains affiliate links. When you buy a book using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would be very grateful if you helped support my blog by using my link to buy books.

**If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my e-book “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology” which can be downloaded for FREE from here.

***Copyright in content and pictures belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

 

5 New Books to Buy For Your Toddler

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Hello parents, if you have clicked on this post then you must love reading to your little one’s! A couple of weeks ago, I posted mini-reviews of books for 7-12 year olds. Today, I bring you mini-reviews of the latest in Indian publishing for toddlers and babies. Read on to know which ones you should pick:

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  1. OM THE GNOME & THE CHANTING COMB by TRISHLA JAIN, Illustrated by TAHIRAH POWELL:

Trishla Jain writes books for toddlers to introduce them to the different tenets of spirituality and religion. This book has a nice plot introducing the concept of meditation to little ones. The character of Om the Gnome is particularly endearing, and the book teaches children the merits of mindfulness and meditation. The illustrations by Tahira Powell are beautiful.

However, I feel the subject would appeal more to children ages 6 and up, while the book is written for 2-3 year olds. Less illustrations and more text might have been a better route to take. Toddlers are interested in learning about spirituality but at that tender age, they learn it through observation. A heavy subject in a book, may not catch their fancy.

Rating: 4/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

  1. SUNRISE, MOONRISE by TRISHLA JAIN, Illustrated by KIRSTIN EGGERS:

This book talks about prayer and the existence of multiple religions in the world. It is a good subject for older children, yet it isn’t something that would appeal to or catch the attention of toddlers, even though it is written for them. The illustrations by Kirsten Eggers are lovely.

It is written with a rhyme scheme but most of the rhymes seem forced. Compared to other children’s literature on the market, it falls short on its writing. However, for the uniqueness of its subject, I give it,

Rating: 3/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

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  1. ONE LONELY TIGER by BENITA SEN, Illustrated by SEKHAR MUKHERJEE:

The story is about the last tiger left on Earth and how he struggles in a world where he is the only one of his kind. The subject is timely indeed. Tigers and many other animals face imminent extinction. With rapid population growth and irresponsible use of resources, we are destroying our planet.

This book is a great way to introduce the concept of conservation to little one’s aged 2-5. The illustrations are unique in their style, gritty and evocative of the mood of the book.

The writing is slightly jarring in a couple of places, with a rather obvious use of rhymes. The story also tends to stretch longer than it needs to and children might lose interest halfway.

However, since I have personally not come across other children’s books on this theme, I recommend picking it up. Skip over the story if you must, but explain its essence with the help of the creative images.

Rating: 3.5/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

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  1. IN MY HEART by NANDANA DEV SEN, Illustrated by RUCHI MHASANE:

Nandana Dev Sen’s book should be essential reading for homes with adopted children. It is a heart-warming way to tell them about their origins. The book is also great for introducing the concept of adoption to young children, who will invariably come across friends/ neighbours/ playmates who have been adopted.

The book may not appeal to young ones merely for reading pleasure. However, I must say that I loved the book for its writing and sensitive handling of a difficult subject, and recommend it to everyone. Read the full review here.

Rating- 4.5/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

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  1. THE JUNGLE RADIO: BIRD SONGS OF INDIA by DEVANGANA DASH:

Children who are fond of birds and animals will love this picture book centred around nature. This one has gorgeous visuals and funny sounds that the reader can enact, to the delight of the child!

Slightly older children will enjoy this book as they can read along and make sounds on their own, and the younger ones would love to see the pictures and have it read to them. The information at the end, ensures they learn something about Indian birds and birding as well. I highly recommend this book to everyone who has a young child. Read the full review here.

Rating: 4.5/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

So that’s my round-up of the latest releases on the Indian book market. What have you read to your toddlers recently? Tell me in the comments below!

5 new books to buy for your toddler

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*This is not a sponsored post, however it contains affiliate links. When you buy a book using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would be very grateful if you helped support my blog by using my link to buy books.

** If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my e-book “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology” which can be downloaded for FREE from here.

***Copyright in content and pictures belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

Which Books to Buy For Your Children: New Releases in Indian Children’s Fiction

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School vacations have ended, but the activity that you should encourage your children to continue from vacation time, is reading. As part of Puffin Books #puffinreadinglist, I reviewed several books for children. Today, I will give you quick mini reviews on the recently released books by Indian authors for children of ages 7 and up.

Follow me on Instagram @theladylawyer to get real time reviews on other books.

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  1. CHAOS AT KEOLADEO BY PRIYA FONSECA, ILLUSTRATED BY ZAINAB TAMBA:

PLOT:

Three children accompany their wildlife conservationist uncle to Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) to look for the elusive Siberian Crane. The book recounts the fun adventures they have there.

THE COMMENTARY:

This is a good book to instil a love of nature, birds and birding in little ones. It is well-written and easy to read. The pictures, photographs and interesting textual detailing make the book especially attractive for young minds.

It is a nature book, a children’s book and a mystery novel rolled in one- very Ruskin Bond meets ‘The Secret Seven’!

The beginning of the book is packed with information on bird names and general knowledge of nature and wildlife conservation. I feel this gets a tad boring for children, who may feel like abandoning the book before the fun mystery-solving begins in the second half. If that happens, encourage your children to keep reading because it is certainly worth getting to the end!

THE VERDICT:   

Aside from the small suggestions enumerated above, I highly recommend this book. It’s absolutely wonderful and will appeal to all adventurous and intelligent young minds!

Rating: 4.5/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

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  1. THE PUFFIN BOOK OF HOLIDAY STORIES: AN ANTHOLOGY WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY RUSKIN BOND

THE PLOT:

Vacations are undoubtedly the best part of childhood and school life. This anthology of 14 stories celebrates the joy of vacation- the two months that include family travel, spending time with friends, reading books, and enjoying delicious food without a care in the world!

THE COMMENTARY:

I read this sweet book while on vacation with my family to Landour. The location and experience enhanced the joy of reading these lovely stories. Each story reminded me that I fell in love with reading books because they provided an escape to different worlds.

With carefully chosen themes, relatable characters, and oodles of creativity, this book will appeal to everyone. The stories teach good lessons and celebrate the joys of life in a thoroughly enjoyable manner.

My favourite stories are:

“A Ruined Holiday” by Paro Anand which talks about the wonderful relationship shared by children and their grandmothers.

“Swallowed by a Snake” by Jane De Suza which is hilariously creative.

“Crazy Uncle Ken” by Ruskin Bond which is an ode to a past era.

“The Holiday Friend” by Shabnam Minwalla which explores the beauty of childhood friendships.

“A Summer Diary” by Nandini Nayar which talks about the unique bond shared by siblings.

“Baldy Rani and the Big Red Door” by Himanjali Sankar which touches on taboo topics in a very sensitive and relatable manner.

THE VERDICT:

This book is an absolute gem! I highly recommend it for children of ages 7 and up, and I feel that people of all ages will enjoy it.

Rating: 5/5

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  1. MUEZZA AND BABY JAAN BY ANITA NAIR, ILLUSTRATED BY HARSHAD MARATHE:

THE PLOT: 

Prophet Mohammad’s cat, Muezza, is lost in the desert, where he meets Baby Jaan, a djinn that takes the form of a white camel. As they wait to be rescued together, the wise cat narrates stories and teachings from the Quran to the young and inquisitive djinn.

THE COMMENTARY:

Anita Nair has chosen a wonderful subject for a children’s book. As she rightly says, most people that aren’t believers of Islam, are unaware of the teachings of this ancient and revered religion. Relating the wise tenets of Islam through stories, is the ideal way to impart knowledge while also retaining the interest of the reader.

She picks many anecdotes about animals, which will certainly appeal to all children. The reader learns the importance of mercy, peace, respect and humility, among other fine qualities.

Her book is well-written and also subtly lays emphasis on the art of storytelling as well as teaching good vocabulary.

The two protagonists, the cat and the djinn/camel, make a lovely pair. I enjoyed their chemistry, light-hearted banter and beautiful friendship far more than the Quranic stories. I hope to see them again in future books!

However, I found the narrative style slightly annoying. The Quranic stories are fluidly incorporated in the protagonists’ storyline, which breaks the flow and lets the mind drift. I found myself losing interest on a few occasions. This may have been different, had a “Vikram-Betaal” style of storytelling been established, where the protagonists make an appearance only at the beginning and end of a chapter. The illustrations are nice but I feel they don’t add to the book, and could have been done away with entirely.

THE VERDICT:

Despite the slightly disconnected narrative, the book was interesting and thought-provoking. It is a wonderful way to introduce your children to a world they may know nothing about. I certainly didn’t know most of these Quranic stories, and I am glad to have read them now. The book is aimed at children above the age of 7, but people of all ages will enjoy it.

Rating: 4/5

Buy your copy on Amazon here

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  1. COMING ROUND THE MOUNTAIN: IN THE YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE BY RUSKIN BOND:

I have written a full review of this book on my blog which can be read here. However, leaving a snippet of my thoughts in this post.

THE VERDICT:

“Coming Round the Mountain: In the Year of Independence” is targeted at young children and pre-teens, but having devoured it in a single sitting myself, I feel that people of all ages will thoroughly enjoy it.

The book made me smile, cry and feel thoroughly nostalgic, and I’m sure it will appeal to you and your children too. Please pick this gem of a book up at the earliest- you will not regret it!

Rating- 5/5

Buy the book on Amazon here

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*This is not a sponsored post, however it contains affiliate links. When you buy a book using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would be very grateful if you helped support my blog by using my link to buy books.

** If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my e-book “Tales From My Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology” which can be downloaded for FREE from here.

***Copyright in content and pictures belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.