The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

#BookReview
Fantasy | Fiction | Magic | Children
Rating: ***

Hello Dear Readers, Happy New Year!
The House in the Cerulean Sea, my first book of 2023, yay I guess! This one’s a fantasy fictional novel in which the protagonist, Linus Baker, is a caseworker working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). His job requires him to visit government-sanctioned orphanages to check on the well-being of the magical youth. Also, to recommend whether the orphanages should continue to remain operational or be shut.

DICOMY’s main purpose is to keep these magical children safe by making sure they aren’t harmed, mistreated, or abused. However, the children are not allowed to leave the orphanage, mingle with the rest of the world, or live alongside the so-called normal humans. DICOMY is more of a dichotomy! It’s a stern organization that expects its caseworkers to abide by the RULES AND REGULATIONS document when they’re on their rounds to investigate the orphanages. The caseworkers aren’t allowed to show any form of empathy, love, and care to these children. Mr. Baker, having worked for the DICOMY for seventeen years, tries to do his job by following all the rules to the T, but sometimes empathy takes over his better judgement.

Linus Baker has the personality of a simple man with low expectations in life. He lives a solitary life at the age of forty and allows people to antagonize him – his coworkers, superiors at work, his neighbor, and the rest of the world. His life is all about going to work, returning home to his cat, and listening to records all by himself while having dinner.

One day, Mr. Baker gets unexpectedly summoned by the EXTREMELY UPPER MANAGEMENT to work on a special case. This requires him to go to a magical island that holds children tagged as classified level four. As Mr. Baker approaches the Marsyas Island Orphanage, a site housing young individuals with extraordinary and potentially perilous abilities, he finds himself consumed by anxiety and apprehension over the classified mission at hand. Will he be able to push aside his fears and do what’s expected of him? To find out what happens next, you’ll have to read the book!

What can you expect from this book? Well, there is an entertaining story with layers of magic, discrimination, bureaucracy, mysterious secrets, love, and of course children. The dangerously adorable children – Talia, Theodore, Sal, Phee, Chauncey, and my dear lil Lucy. There is also the enigmatic Arthur Parnassus and sassy Zoe Chapelwhite who are the caretakers of these children. And of course, let’s not forget our good old man Mr. Baker.

What did I think about the book?

Mmm, mixed feelings! I like the fact that it was a fantasy book and the world-building was good! But it was overhyped, it got a bit too emotional and preachy, making me feel like I was watching a family drama movie. This book needs to be categorized in young adult fiction. Most people found the book to be a tear-jerker, but I’m sorry it didn’t do anything to me. See, I can be super emotional and I love emotional books but I don’t know, this one felt forced..? Well, the dramatic part just didn’t work for me. While reading this book, I also got reminded of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, which I like better than this one.

Anyway, moving past the lows! Let’s see what was good about the book: the story flowed well and it was pretty descriptive which made all the characters seem almost real. Some of the issues discussed in the book can also address real-life problems. Like, do we have to hate or judge things that we fear or don’t understand? Life is all about being more accepting of everyone and everything despite the differences. To make the world more colorful, peaceful, and beautiful we all need to be kind, accepting, and loving, right?

Lastly, cannot end the review without calling attention to Lucy’s dialogues, those were my favorite, I looked forward to them!! ❤

PS: The House in the Cerulean Sea is a good-read if you are looking for a sweet and comforting story. I would give it a 6.8/10 only because of the extra drama and also Brandon Sanderson has ruined me with his fantasy books!

Dreamers by Snigdha Poonam

#Book Review
Non-fiction | Aspirational | Political | Society |
Rating: ****

Dreamers: How Young Indians Are Changing the World is a non-fictional book that documents the aspirational dreams and challenges of the youth of India from rural villages. Snigdha Poonam, an Indian journalist, gives us a glimpse of what it feels like to be in the shoes of these young dreamers. Some of the main characters mentioned in the book include – Vinay Singhal (CEO of Wittyfeed), Richa Singh (former and first woman president of Allahabad University Students’ Union), Moin Khan (the English coach), Pankaj Prasad (the Jack of all trades), and Mohammad Azhar aka Azhar Khan (the struggling model). This book covers their successes, frustration, and disappointments. The dreams of these millennials are not ordinary, one wants to become a revolutionary politician to change the country, another wants to become a famous Bollywood star in the glamor industry, and another wishes to climb the success ladder to such an extent that his future goal is to rule on Mars.

Success is often determined by money and power to prove to themselves, their parents, extended family, and mohalla (society) their achievements. However, the sad plight of these millennials is that it is almost impossible for all to make their dreams come true. On one end, some young dreamers are not just making their life better but also aiming to improve society. On the other end, are dreamers who are scamming people by selling them fake dreams and hopes so as to make quick money.

There are also dreamers whose jobs are to harm people in the name of religion, and politics, and to spread hatred so they can get recognition and experience the much-needed power they crave. ABVP, Gau Rakshaks (Cow Protection), and RSS parties give these young dreamers a taste of that power. It’s like a never-ending loop of treachery, if one wins then someone needs to lose. Can you blame them for choosing these seedha and tedha paths (right and wrong) ? They are trying to accomplish their dreams, be it by any means, hook or crook; reaching for a power that can make them feel superior.

India is a country with a population of over 1.3 billion consisting of more than 40% young adults. These young adults need to face relentless competition at every step of their life – to excel, to be better than the rest, and nothing less than the best to succeed in life. What else can they do, there are more people in this country than jobs, resulting in a cutthroat race toward success.

Is it possible for all their dreams to come true? No. Should they stop dreaming? No. But you know what’s great about living in India? The country never stops selling hope and Indians never stop dreaming. What keeps us going is the eternal hope to get noticed and finally make it to the top. It’s the long and patient wait for the stroke of luck to strike at any moment. Till then our young dreamers with their never give up attitude will continue working hard towards achieving their goals. Now, let it please be by always choosing the right path and not a crooked shortcut towards success.

Snigdha Poonam has well-captured the lives and stories of the youth in her book, Dreamers. Her writing style is more like a long form investigative article that is honest, knowledgeable, and it clearly talks about the facts of rural India. Her commentary is rare but insightful. I recommend you read this book if you want to get a feel of the anger, aspirations, and disappointments of the invisible youth of India.

❄️

Do summer friends melt away like summer snows, but winter friends last forever, as an old saying goes?

Farewell fair weather friends! Meanwhile I’m all bundled up in my furry throw, engrossed in a book called Winterlust: Finding Beauty in the Fiercest Season by Bernd Brunner from which I borrowed this quote.

Winter is here, I’m telling myself not get cold feet by worrying too much about cold feet, and instead embrace the beauty of winter.

Day 6: Bookquet

Day 6 Inktober 2022: Bouquet

A source of immense happiness and joy, the best companions whether you are chilling at home or stuck in traffic, they can change your mood and make you smile, get rid of those unwanted thoughts, feelings of sadness and loneliness and take you to places never imagined, they are your mentors, your guide, your buddy to laugh and cry with and with them you make lifetime memories. Books are the best gifts you can give someone (me), just like a bouquet of flowers, they will never fail to light up your mood and your mind. Read read read, it’s all that matters, stories will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Day 5: Lips of Desire

Day 5 Inktober 2022: Flame

Aaina was the smartest 14-year old girl in school and she was pretty too. Everyone wanted to be her friend especially boys. They would wait outside the girls hostel to get a glimpse of her. They would often follow her on the streets, some of them would walk in groups behind her and call her names, some on bicycles would stop and ask her if she wanted a ride, some would compliment her, “Aaj toh mast lag rahi ho!” If she looked at a guy mistakenly, then he would assume that she likes him and go to the extent of writing love letters and then would wrap them around stones and throw at her hostel room’s window.

The girls in school did not want to be with her or around her because they felt she was attracting unnecessary attention and some envied her for her looks. She did not know whom to complain, or what to do. Aaina did not ask for any of this she was embarrassed, frightened, ashamed, and started hating the way she looked. But she did not give up, there was a fire burning inside her. She had a burning desire to fix these problems, a desire to make women feel safe when they leave their homes without having the fear of being harmed by men. She wanted to protect women and fight for the rights that they equally deserve.

Day 4: Scallop

Day 4 Inktober 2022: Scallop

She walked down the busy market streets in her scallop dress, smiling and greeting at all only to be rushed and pushed around. Her desire was to be ordinary but how could she, she was a cut above the rest.

Day 2: Buddies

Day 2 Inktober 2022: Scurry

The first image that immediately came to my mind when I thought of scurry was Tom and Jerry. A show we have all grown up watching and still continue to watch when we are in a mood for a hearty laugh.