The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is a children’s book about a barn owl called Plop, who is very different. Although, owls are largely nocturnal creatures, Plop is a barn owl that is afraid of night-time. Plop considers night-time to be awful but when Mrs. Barn Owl dispatches him to inquire about that part of the day, Plop manages to change his mind about it. Plop does this with the aid of various living beings he stumbles upon, from a cat to a scout. The tale is marvelously heartwarming and it celebrates the idea of being different and the fact that it can be considered as something novel, as well as inspiring with the thought that it can be possible to overcome a big fear.
Furyborn is the first part of a fantasy trilogy and it has got a gripping story: one of the protagonists in the book is called Rielle Dardenne – she is the archetypical woman in love who lays bare that she is either one of two types of prophetic queens when the man she is in love with gets trapped by killers. In order, to determine which type of queen Dardenne is, she must go through multiple trials but they are not ordinary ones – they are of a necromantic sort. In my view, the romantic side of Dardenne’s story is unique: the man she is in love with is called Audric and he is her best friend. Also, the trials which Dardenne has to go through are dangerous and yet, she must go through them, which really makes you feel sympathetic towards the character.
Meanwhile, the second protagonist in the book is called Eliana Ferracora. Ferracora is an infamous huntswoman who goes after offenders in exchange for a reward; her story takes place a thousand years afterwards and interestingly, Ferracora regards Dardenne’s tale as a fantasy one. Ferracora works for a vile organization but her character does not appear to be as vile as the organization she works for. Ferracora’s story suddenly changes course when her mother disappears – to get her back, Ferracora pairs with rebels. The two stories eventually collide but without a doubt it is Dardenne’s tale which really pulls you towards the book because even though it is too mythical, the story feels relatable because of the way that danger and love is present in it.
Capricious and intelligent, girlish voices lead you into an ever-evolving narrative of feminism
The latest biographies to be released with a focus on women take a light-hearted approach to feminism: through the discovery of rich experiences in the most mundane of activities which makeup life, one discovers what being a female in the 21st Century is like. My picks of the best of the crop:
Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Adventures in the Ordinary (available at Amazon UK): a book that puts your faith in the quirky side of life and what makes it wonderful.
Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook (available at Amazon UK): an interesting account by a chef on what led and inspired her to open a restaurant in Berkley.
Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude (available at Amazon UK): from Istanbul to New York, experience how the cultures unique to a city can best be experienced on your own to craft fine memories.
Our Beautiful Dream (available at Amazon UK): a woman’s journey in life to have it all with quirk and the disordered environment she lands herself in to do so.
The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me A Better Feminist (available at Amazon UK): a feminist throws out the laborious process of constantly looking good to figure out if that concept of beauty is personally a necessity to feel emancipated.
Mystery and romance collide to create compelling books that are also nicely lighthearted
A good romantic book is ideal to curl up with when it is down pouring outside. It can make you dream about a fairy tale environment; as these genre of books suggest, contemporary life also provides you with the chance to have a fairy tale of your own.
One Cornish Summer
The protagonist of the novel is a 50-something woman called Hebe who makes a journey to Cornwall after she begins to forget things; Hebe’s niece, Lucy, shadows her to the location but Lucy has a different train of thought from her aunt. It is an intriguing contrast: Hebe is trying to grapple with the idea of what her new reality will do to both her professional life and her love life, whilst Lucy has something to hide.
Child on the Doorstep
The protagonist of the romantic novel is called Angela McClusky who is a widow with a young daughter. She had another child in the past, who was born out of abuse whilst McClusky was still in a married state and was tragically abandoned by her at a workhouse. Angela also has a suitor called Eddie and it appears that her life might take a turn for the better after ten long years but the circumstance soon changes and Angela can no longer run away from times past.
A Perfect Husband
The romantic novel is about a couple whose marriage is suddenly on the rocks: Lily fell in love again with a man called Freddy, even though her first husband had passed away. But Freddy does not turn out to be the perfect man at all because he has incurred big debts owing to gambling; what makes the tale intriguing is that despite this idea that Lily’s life could also be in danger because of what Freddy has done, she can’t seem to makeup her mind over saying goodbye to her second husband.
Cast: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, Sarah Snook, Angus Sampson and Eamon Farren
Director: The Spierig Brothers
Winchester easily manages to scare but it does not prove to be memorable whilst doing that. The plot of the film largely revolves around a widow: she is haunted by ghosts killed by Winchester rifles and yet, seeks to aid them; before he died, her husband used to be the financial officer of the Winchester company. The widowed Winchester has also built an odd mansion where a terrifying ghost tries to kill people – the spirit is that of a man who had already turned murderous before he was shot. The constant presence of ghosts in the story is what pulls you towards an otherwise dull film centering on a widow who appears to be a lunatic but is actually a troubled soul igniting feelings of both faith (in her dubious words on ghosts) and sympathy.
Rotherwierd is the first book in a trilogy by Andrew Caldecott is and it also includes illustrations by Sasha Laika. The book is about an isolated English village with a difference, the secrets of which look to be quite uncovered because of a new history teacher in town called Jonah Oblong, through Veronal Slickstone – the new inhabitant of what was previously an abandoned manor. There is no shortage of peculiar characters in the book, such as an unreflecting woman and a wild specialist in physics, but what really saves the book from its seemingly banal tone is the town’s rich character – towers with Italian designs, boats chasing each other and an illustrious castle bring to life a place that is so superbly mysterious that the book almost borders on being a searchingly eerie piece of work.
Which contemporary Pakistani dramas nicely walk between reality and fiction?
Pakistani television shows, much like Pakistani culture, seem to be shrouded in an air of mystery. From the clothes the characters wear to the regular depiction of female independence in a country, where disrespecting rights for women is always a persistent reality, what these television shows do is purely entertain; in fact, Pakistani dramas provide nothing much else. The plotlines of the serials always seem really far away from any connection to reality but in the very least, at least there is always an entertaining aspect to the stories. My picks for top Pakistani television shows in the contemporary age:
- Zindagi Gulzar Hai: starring Sanam Saeed and Fawad Khan, the television show charts the story of two young people with entirely different social standings; the female lead is from an impoverished background, whilst the male lead comes from an affluent family structure.
- Humsafar: the television show starring Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan in lead roles revolves around the challenges a married couple faces because the mother-in-law disapproves of the matrimonial union.
- Jackson Heights: in the show, six separate arcs revolve around the lives of Pakistanis residing in the United States and the struggles that they face in life.