Book Review : The Astonishing Thing by Sandi Ward

Author: Sandi Ward

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication date: 31 October. 2018

Format: Paperback

Book length: 304 pages

Language: English

Synopsis:

In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .
Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.

Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . . Wonderfully tender and insightful, The Astonishing Thing explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.

Rating: 4/5

Review:

I am thankful to the author, Sandi Ward for sending me the book, “The Astonishing Thing” in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.

The personification of cat has always been a highly interesting perspective of story telling in English literature. Such usage is prominent in the works of eminent writers such as T.S.Eliot, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, Edgar Alan Poe, and even J.K. Rowling, Stephen King. While the ability of a cat to think on it’s own is often considered to be humane and thus the necessity of the term personification, it can simply to termed as a cat expressing itself in the language of the humans for the betterment of their understanding. The book “The Astonishing Thing” by Sandi Ward is a fresh, contemporary novel based on a cat’s interpretation of the lives of her human family. She has always been her human mother, Carrie’s favourite who calls her “Boo”. The cat really is not sure if it’s her name but doesn’t care much because she communicated well with her mother, they understand each other so well. Boo doesn’t like his human siblings much, mostly because she only sticks to her mother, mainly Jimmy, her human brother because he keeps on trouble their mother. Boo hates him for not understanding mom’s feelings even when mom’s sick in bed for days. Boo doesn’t really understand what has happened to her mother but soon realises that Carrie is pregnant. But a few months after the nee baby is born, Carrie packs her bags and leaves only for Boo to later realise the foreverness of the situation.

The story develops on the changes that the cat undergoes in order to find the reason why her mother had left so suddenly only to realise how much Boo has missed of the rest of the family due to her complete ignorance. She slowly learns to get familiar with her mother mate, Tommy, her human elder brother, Jimmy and sister, Mary. With time, Tommy, who had always disliked Boo, softens up to her and they start sharing the mutual bonding of feeling clueless and alone. The new born little boy, Finn, highly interested Boo, who first thought that little curled up bundle of life to be the reason of her mother’s disappearance. Slowly, Boo realises that nothing is how it had seemed to her before. Her desperate need to support Carrie at all situation and blame everyone else around, made her misread situations and rest of her family. She and her family must learn how to lice without Carrie. The children must learn the whole truth of the situation. But what is it? Was Carrie just being completely selfish or there is much more to the story?

What I loved absolutely about the book was the author’s way of dealing with the subject of bipolar disorder. The book descriptively highlights the effects of bipolarity both on the patient as also on the people involved in their lives. The originality of the plot and the insight of the characters involved is terrifyingly realistic and devastating. The high ups and heavy lows, the burden of extremity, the helplessness and fear, the uncontrollable actions and the pains they bring. The book also points out the complete blamelessness of the whole family. Both sides had their own shares of sufferings and everyone must learn to deal with it rather than continuing the blame game. Tommy made mistakes, terrible mistakes, but he was not sure what else to do. Carrie took a selfish decision, but that was for the best of both her and her family. Everyone made mistakes, but no one alone is to be blamed.

A book written beautifully and precisely on the complexities of maintaining a stable balance in a family and on the turmoils of every member of the family in their own ways, all through the eyes and senses of a fat, observant family cat. The particular usage of certain terms, specifically pointing out the differenced in perceptions of life and it’s objects between the humans and cat, is delicately and efficiently used. A reader can almost forget the spectator and narrator to be a cat but the book makes one snap back to the reality of the situation. Thus maintaining an entertaining fictional world between human thinking and cat’s expression, a cat who’s loyalty is hardly earned but once she starts loving a humans, she does everything in the power of her little four-legged feline body, to support them and express her love for them. Her caring, speculative narration of a troubled family to them learning how to rearrange their lives and her constant unspoken support is not a trivial cat’s observation but a cat’s conscious understanding of being supportive to a family she has always belonged to. To be able to pen down a debut novel of such beauty is surprisingly fascinating and heartwarming. Hoping to read more works of author Sandi Ward in future.

 

About the Author:

Sandi Ward writes books about love, family, forgiveness..and cats.

Sandi grew up in Manchester-by-the-sea, MA and now lives on the Jersey Shore with her family. She received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University, where she studied with E.L. Doctorow, and works as a copywriter at an ad agency. She has a rescue cat named Winnie, who approves of this message.

Her new novel, titled SOMETHING WORTH SAVING, is available now wherever books are sold. Her first novel for Kensington Books is titled The Astonishing Thing. A third novel, What Holds Us Together, will follow in 2019/2020.

#review The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

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Author : Greg Ruth

Publisher : Graphix

Publication date : 27 August 2013

Book length : 192 pages

Language : English

Genre : Fiction / Graphic novel

Synopsis :

Some mysteries are too dangerous to leave alone . . .

Nate’s not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, Nate is thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe, and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.

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Rating : 4/5

Review :

I have never much read graphic novels. To be very much truthful, The Lost Boy is my first proper graphic novel read and I guess I am pretty please with myself for picking it up. Actually it’s not me though who bought the book but my younger brother. I saw the artwork and it was pretty amazing so I gave it a try. And boy! such talented a man the author is. The story-line and artwork, both are awe-striking. Since the graphic is a short read and the synopsis alone gives away the most spoiler free inside idea of the story, I will not go into describing it any further for it might the mysterious atmosphere thus created by the synopsis. I will thus go on complimenting on the book itself.

The story-line is interesting, catchy and well thought. The artwork is . . . EVERYTHING! I literally would give anything to have such skillful hands. I feel I would  have enjoyed the book more if I had been a little younger and thoughts were less complex. But what I experienced was a box full of thoughts forming in my head. The one thought I had after reading (thanks to my overthinking mind) is perhaps that lost boy was not really lost in a different world but inside the darkness of his mind. Perhaps his life background forced him to run away from the ever changing and dominating world where his words were unheard of. The darkness slowly, gradually manifested his mind and instead of using the good of it, he chose to drown in it’s unknown depths. Nate was probably nothing but a medium to cleanse the accumulating layer of anger and rage stuck on the skin of the Lost Boy. The different world was perhaps the hidden society comprising of people who chose to differ from the destructing outside world.

The story made me dive further in the depth of human consciousness. The lost boy, when freed from the ugly form covering him up, it is said that he is found to have remained of the same age as at time of his disappearance. Perhaps it is not his physical age but the mental one that had remained unchanged. For, he was but living in darkness for so long, his mind feeding on rage, hunger of power and dark thoughts, that he had missed out the growing of mental age, the gradual feeling of dawning maturity. He had been till now thriving on the thin string of hope attaching him to the world.

I would like to stop my theories here as I find loss of words to express the rest of my thoughts. But I am satisfied with how much I could write down. Write down in the comments where you approve of my theories or not. Thank you for taking out time enough to read the constant talkativeness of my mind.

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#review Against All Odds

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Author : Danielle Steel

Publisher : Macmillan

Publication date : 19 May, 2017

Language : English

Book length :  400 pages

Genre : Fiction

Synopsis :

Taking chances is part of life, but when you bet your future against the odds, it’s a high-risk game.

Kate Madison’s stylish second-hand clothing shop has been a big success in New York, supporting her and her four kids since her husband’s untimely death. Now, her children have grown up and are ready to forge lives of their own. They all choose to play against all odds, much to their mother’s dismay . . .

Isabelle, a dedicated attorney, is in line to make partner at her Wall Street firm when she falls for a client who she represents in a criminal case. She tells herself she can make a life with him – but can she? Julie,  a young designer, meets a man who seems too good to be true and falls under his spell. She marries him quickly, gives up her job and moves to LA to be at his side. Is all what it seems? Justin is a struggling writer who pushes his partner for children before they’re financially or emotionally ready. Will the strain on the relationship take too high a toll? Willie, the youngest, a tech expert, makes a choice that shocks them all, with a woman fifteen years older . . .

Kate – loving, supportive and outspoken – can’t keep her children from playing against the odds. Can the odds be beaten? Not often – as her children have to learn for themselves. For Kate, the hardest lesson will be that she can’t protect the children she loves from the choices they make –  but can only love them as they make them.

Rating : 4/5

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Review :

Before I begin my review I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.

Against All Odds is the second book that I have read by Danielle Steel, the first being Dangerous Games. The first book was a thing of great interest and you can head back a few posts to read my full review. Well, since I had enjoyed reading it, I was very much looking forward to the second one and I must say, though Against All Odds has a very different story line than Dangerous Games, the author maintains her skillful art of narration through the beautiful handling of words.

Now, Against All Odds tells us the story of Kate Madison, a successful owner of a retail clothing shop. She is known all over the place because of her keen eyes for exquisite sense of fashion and her store is the favourite spot for well known celebrities. But her being this much successful was not something she had planned or ever imagined from the very beginning of her career. She got herself married at a very young age without the consent of her parents, her husband being a law student still. She soon became a mother of 2 boys and 2 girl, eldest one – Isabelle, the twins – Julie and Justin and the last one Willie. However, Willie sadly didn’t have the luck to meet his father who, though was an amazing husband and caring father, could not live long. With his death, Kate was devastated but was determined to stay strong and work hard for her children. Her mother, Louis was a great help as she took up the responsibility of looking after the children while Kate was out working. Kate with the help of her best friend, Liam, opened her own retail store after working in another store, thus being well informed and equipped with the ways and necessities of fashion. She knew the demand of the market and soon gained name. However, this didn’t stop her from being close to her children. in fact she was very close to them and though the boys sometimes felt the absence and need of a father, she was more than enough for all of them and they were always very caring and involved in each others’ lives.

All four of the siblings, though well off on their own, never forgot to contact each and meet up with Kate and Louis. Julie shares Kate’s passion for fashion and was a fashion designer herself with an excellent taste. She often visited her mother’s shop because she believed it was a great place for inspiration and new ideas. Justin, a struggling writer, lived with his boyfriend Richard and Kate was very kind and loving to both of the boys. Isabelle was the serious one in the family and a successful lawyer. Willie was the “child” of the family and was pampered a lot. He was a tech expert and never was into a serious relationship.

All was well but, as is obvious, children do not remain children for ever and once established they find it hard to agree more with parents than accepting their own mistakes and mishaps. The cool of the family went upside down with each child of the family taking a strange, jaw dropping decision one after the other and Kate becomes worried for their future and is sure they can’t win against all odds. It starts with Isabelle. After a broken engagement, she had sworn to never marry again. Well, that’s what she kept on telling everyone but deep inside she was just an wounded soul. Her family was surprised, rather shocked when she brought Zach, her previous client & supposed boyfriend, to meet them and Kate could clearly see the hell and heaven difference between the two. She was certain that it was a bad match and tried her best to pour some sense into Isabelle, but as persistent as she was, she dismissed her mother’s worries. She moves ahead marrying him while Kate could not help but bless her though she was still uncertain of their commitment. Justin and Richard decide on becoming parents and inform the family of their plan of using a surrogate mother of which Kate and Isabelle strongly disapprove of. Kate feels the young couple are not yet ready for parenthood and Isabelle doesn’t believe in surrogacy. this highly disappoints Justin but he decides to go along with their plan without interruption. If that was not enough, Julie, the shy little girl of the huge loving family falls in love with Peter, a man with a character quite opposite of Zach. While the whole family warms up to him, Kate has this unnerving feeling of something odd about this too-good-to-be-true man.

In all these events, one can clearly see how Kate always treats her children as teenage kids, never letting go of them and never wanting them to get even a little bit hurt. While her children become irritated by that, they themselves have this feeling of their mother being right to some extent. As story moves forward, it is clearly seen how right Kate had been in all the cases.

This book is quite a teacher on it’s own. It gives an insight to the mental struggles of a mother, the regretful events of life, the mistaken decisions of humans. What I find odd about the book is how easily people fall in love here, if not easily then within a very short period of time. All the love affair seem to be rather fast pacing and wrong. The book shows how the six sense of a mother is too strong.

It is a tale of love, desire, pain, trust, effects of a sociopath, mother’s never ending love and anxiety. It a tale of never giving up what it worthy of fighting and of giving up what isn’t worth the pain.

30/11/2016

Hmmmmm…… What to speak of today? Well first and foremost today was quite interesting. So as to speak very stressful on the other hand because my room is getting itself a new colour… this time I got to decide (my father mainly decides the colours) and I have decided to paint it BLUE cause it’s my favourite colour (though black is bae)! This is the reason for the day being interesting. Now why stressful? Well, when it comes to room being painted the first thing that is to be done is to cover up the big stuffs and move out the small ones. To me the “to-be-moved” things include two types of things – 1. books & 2. mugs. So doing this made me feel stressed cause I find myself lazy. Now, having moved those out, my eyes fell on the stack of Agatha Christie books, books by the queen of crime.  Now, what did the queen of crime made me think deeply about? She made me think again about the complexity of human beings. But this time from a different perspective. I wonder how people like Hercule Poirot , Miss Marple, though imaginary characters, tend to exist even in a human mind. I mean, think about it, though imaginary , they have been created out of the mind of the author. How much power does a human mind have to create out of it such extra ordinary people?

Here I am thinking high and low, deep and simple, innumerable things while deciding what to write and what not to, while she, the authoress is there who wrote so many book, each having it’s own high popularity level. I find human mind a very curious, impossible-to-fully-understand device. It’s a miracle how people as intelligent as Einstein had once walked the earth while me, a useless person is sitting in front of the computer writing about “deep” thoughts . The main thing that attracts me about Agatha Christie’s books is not the murders and the murderers but the way the authoress  portrays each character. It is so descriptive that I can even visualize them like real life characters. Thus making me more surprised how such talent can contain itself in a person. 


Is it because of the passion one has for what he/she does? Like singers who has mesmerizing voices, authors whose stories make you jump into an imaginary world, poets whose writings cure the wounds, painter whose paintings seem too extraordinary for just words to compliment.. do they reach such height because their heart and mind work as one? Because they have pushed the mind to extraordinary levels? Is it a possible achievement for everyone? Do we just need immense faith and passion to rich the heights?