Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    Charlie, is a freshman in high school who prefers to 'observe' than 'participate' in everything . He is shy , quiet , sensitive , and reserved . Charlie feels lonesome in new school without Michael, whom he lost during last vacation. He spends time reading books , listening to 'mix tapes' and with family. The memories of his late aunt haunt him sometimes. But everything changes when Charlie befriends his seniors Patrick and his step-sister Sam. They encourage Charlie to attend parties and introduce to many other friends. Charlie starts to enjoy being one among them and slowly his life becomes a roller coaster ride.

        The book 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' is written in the form of letters, Charlie's letters to an unknown person. I love epistolary novels since it gives a 'direct-communication' feeling with the characters in it and that's why I decided to read this book. This is a 'coming-of-age' story which promises to help you cherish your wild and lively teenage days.

       The main character, Charlie lives in his thoughts. He is a Wallflower, observing , analyzing and trying to understand each person he meets. He does not want to hurt anyone which ends him up with concealing his actual emotions and feelings and pretending to be someone whom, others may like/accept. Though Charlie constantly tries to be normal and to enjoy his life like the rest, something holds him back always from who he really is. At a point, I felt 'overthinking' made Charlie miserable. I did think a lot of 'what-if's and got worried unnecessarily, throughout my school life. Later, I realized that situations turned much better than expected , when I was just myself. Credit goes to my family , who helped to muster up the courage I needed. How silly my reasons were if I compare them with Charlie's life. First love, Friends, Parties, Bullies, fights, Suicide, Divorce, Smoking, Alcohol-use, Drugs, Rape, Molestation, homosexual, Pregnancy , Abortion, so on. Stephen Chbosky made the life worse for the protagonist in his book. I felt sympathy towards Charlie . On the other hand, the ending gladdens you, as you read how Charlie decided to overcome his situations. 
"So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."
          How meaningful those words are!. Only those who have strong and positive attitude can realize that. He understands that thinking about what happened in the past is not the real point , but how to live the life he has at present is important. Charlie learns to let things go and starts to accept the love he deserves. He understands how great it is to have friends and a family. He remembers Bill telling him he is special and talented, Patrick calling him "friend " and Sam reminding "Be who you are". And he actually starts to 'participate' in life.

        This book gives a message to parents as well as teenagers. If you are a troubled teenager, this story will inspire you to let things go ,to feel okay about the past and reminds that you can still choose your life. If you are a parent, the story warns you to be watchful. Charlie's parents did not know what was happening when it was . If they knew, Charlie could have had another cheerful life.

Happy Reading!!!

Monday, 23 March 2015

And Thereby Hangs a Tale by Jeffrey Archer

The famous writer Jeffrey Archer Brings fifteen short stories together in the book 'And Thereby Hangs a Tale' in which ten are inspired by real incidents. Each stories are penned in a simple words and ends with a twist.

My favourites are :

Stuck on you: Jeremy, who was too blindly in love with Arabella, a woman out of his reach, falls into her trap and agrees to do a robbery to win her, by giving an engagement ring she wants. He walks into a diamond store, according to her plan where he is invited into a private cabin by the manager, who considers Jeremy as the gentleman by judging his appearance. The manager, shows him the finest choice of stones they have and finds later that the expensive one is missing from the box. Jeremy is suspected and taken into the custody of their securities. Moments later, Jeremy walks out clean as the securities fail to find the ring. Arabella also visits the same diamond store on the same day. The manager invites the regular customer into private cabin and shows their wide collection of stones. She says it is difficult to choose one and promises the manager to come back with Fiance in the evening. Arabella gets a taxi and goes to meet the man waiting for her at Wimbledon and never returns to Jeremy, who was waiting to propose her at a restaurant. The suspense is revealed at the end as the maid at the diamond store finds a chewing gum beneath the table in private cabin and drops it in the dustbin scolding the manager for bad habits.

High Heels: This is the story of an insurance detective Alan Penfold, who is excited to start working on his first independent case. He drives to Romford, where a hundred year old warehouse, situated in an isolated area caught fire at night. He meets the fire officer who believes that the faulty wiring could be the reason behind the fire and so it would be easier for the owner to claim his insurance for the building and the materials in it, each of them for around two million pounds. Alan searches the area for any proof recalling his supervisor's words 'It's often not what you do see that matters, but what you don’t see' ,but does not find any. Later, Alan finds the insurance company representative Mr. Bill Hadman and Mr. Des Lomax ,the owner of the warehouse in a nearest pub. Alan is surprised to find Mr. Lomax in a relaxed mood rather than heartbroken and curious when he argued about why the insurance company would hesitate to give him four million pounds. Back at home, Alan talks to wife, who becomes eager to hear about the case hearing the word 'shoes' and her questions, give him an idea to clear his doubts and the 'something isn't right' feeling in mind. Alan visits the claim manager and asks him for financial support, but the manager neglects the suggestion and tells him to come up with solid reasons to get the money from him. Alan goes back to the site again and this time he was impressed not to find any proof, but only the charred remnant of the warehouse. He visits the bar in the hope to hear some gossips from the locals and learns that Mr. Lomax has gone to Corfu with his latest girlfriend. He calls up Mr. Hadman for updates and is baffled to know that its Mr. Hadman who has gone to Corfu , not Mr. Lomax. Alan visits the claim manager again to tell he can help them to save two millions and the manager gives him the money he needs. He uses up the money on Roger Vivier and Manolo Blahnik shoes, the same brand of shoes which were stored in the warehouse at the time of the fire. He arranges a meeting with the Mr. Lomax at the site. Alan reveals that he knows Mr. Lomax did not go to Curfu as he was busy disposing the shoes from the warehouse. Mr. Lomax denies that showing the bills and receipts from Curfu and challenges him to prove it. This time Alan gets the shoes and a can of petrol from his car and burns it. Once it was cleared , they found large metal buckles!. Alan accuses Mr. Des Lomax for setting up a fraud to claim the insurance money and gives him a choice between two million pounds and jail.

    I would like to say both the stories are cleverly written but those are based on true incidents. Expectations were high when I started reading the book that I picked up from my hard-core Jeffrey Archer fan cousin's collection. Enjoyed the first half with the exciting twists and turns, but the other half turned out to be dull and slow. Some stories are really predictable and some are dragged unnecessarily. The stories will be soon erased from mind since it fails to engross the readers, though the book gives a perceptive analysis of human nature, which is unpredictable. I will not suggest reading it unless you are one of those 'hard-core' fan of Jeffrey Archer.

Happy Reading!!!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs

The Monkey's Paw by W.W Jacob is a cleverly written short story , which gives the reader a surprisingly interesting thread of horror till the end . The story is explained by three parts.

Part I
     The story begins with Mr. White playing chess with his son Mr. Herbert and Mrs. White knitting by the fire . They are visited by a man named Sergeant-Major Morris , who appears to be a friend of Mr. White . They proffer him a seat by the fire and whiskey to make him comfortable. The sergeant speaks of wars , plagues and the adventures he had made, to the White family who were listening to him enthusiastically. Mr. White expresses his desire to go to India, to see the temples and fakkirs and enquires about a monkey's paw that the Sergeant had mentioned to him earlier.The Sergeant-Major shows them a mummified monkey's paw and tells that it can grant three wishes to three separate men , as it has spell on it by a fakkir and he created it, to teach people not to interfere with their fate . The curious Mrs. White asks whether the Major's wishes did come true . The major gives a positive reply and tells he received it from an another man whose third wish was death. The sergeant throws the paw into the fire but Mr. White snatches it . The Sergeant Major warns them to destroy it and not to blame him for whatever happens if they use it. He also tells them to wish for something sensible and leaves after the dinner. Mr. White says he is content and has no idea what to wish for . Herbert tells to wish for two hundred pounds and Mr. White does so . Mr. White becomes frightened saying the monkey paw moved but nothing happens .

Part II
     Herbert leaves for work in the morning . After a while , Mrs. White sees a man walking hither and thither in front of their gate . She notices that the man is well dressed and becomes anxious thinking he might be connected with two hundred pounds they had wished for. The mysterious man comes in , saying he is from Maw and Meggins, where Herbert worked. The gloomy face of the man makes them stressed. The man says their son was caught in the machinery and is dead . He offers a sum of compensation from the company, for Herbert's services and the amount is two hundred pounds.

Part III
     The house is silent as grave, after Herbert's funeral. They long for something good to happen to forget the solitude. Days pass by. At an another ordinary night, Mr. White hears his wife shouting for monkey's paw . Mrs. White realizes that the paw can grant two more wishes and she wants their son Herbert back from death. Mr. White becomes terrified imagining how Herbert would look if he comes back to life , as he remembers Herbert's horrible state before the burial and disagrees with wife. However, he finds the talisman and makes the wish on wife's request. They wait for a while and goes back to the bed later, thinking it was a failure. Then they hear a knock at the door. Mr. White neglects it saying it could be a rat. On hearing more knocks , Mrs. White goes to open the door thinking its their son whereas the scared Mr. White searches for the paw to make an another wish, to avoid the sight of his mutilated son. The story ends when Mrs. White opens the door to find nobody but the deserted street and is comforted by her husband.

     The story sounds ordinary in the beginning. When the Sergeant-Major brings the magical monkey's paw, the reader also becomes anxious to know its power. The Sergeant-Major speaks of the man who owned it first. He says the first man's last wish was death which makes the reader curious to know why anyone would make such a wish. The Sergeant's warns them repeatedly on not using it and tries to destroy it. It indicates the jeopardies and fear he had known. Mr. White finds himself content and happy as the way they are and bewilders what to wish for. Then they ask for two hundred pounds which they receive with a grief news. Their situations are changed upside down over night. Though, Mr. White considers it to be a coincidence, the reader can feel the horror in this incident. A thought of never to play with the fate passed my mind and imagined how dreadful and unexpected it can be ,as I finished reading part II . The last part events are taken place at night. The description of darkness and the strong windy night and the continued knocks at door passes a shiver in mind and body. Mr. White's fearful thoughts of Herbert's mutilated body makes us horrified. Mrs. White looks out through the window to know who stands outside. It baffles the reader's imagination with an image of a Zombie Herbert and an ordinary Herbert. The reader holds the breath reading Mr. White's struggles to find the paw in the darkness and Mrs. White's efforts to open the bolt, bewildering what will happen first and feels comfortable like Mr. white as they find nobody at the door. The story ends there but leaves us wondering who it could be. Was it the wind or a Zombie or a normal Herbert or something else unexpected?. The man's hunger for more comforts and luxuries can be seen in this story. We live a content life. But the greed brings disasters into it. Blame your mind for any horrors in life. Make sure no evil lurks there and learn to be happy as you are!.

Happy Reading!!!