Saturday, 17 November 2018

#BookReview ; The Man Who Saved India by Hindol Sengupta

Sardar Vallabhai Patel saved India. He illuminated Indian politics with pragmatic and sensible ideas of nation-building at a time when his contemporaries were unable or unwilling to shed the romantic lens. The very shape of India that we recognize today was stitched together by Patel, the Iron Man of India. The Man Who Saved India unravels the personality of one of the greatest men in Indian contemporary history.

The Man Who Saved India is a historical non-fiction book about Sardar Patel written by Hindol Sengupta & published by Penguin Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The author has written 8 books & has won several prestigious awards for them. He has been a journalist at the Indian editions of Fortune Magazine, Bloomberg TV, CNBC & CNN. He is editor-at-large for Fortune India.

The story obviously revolves around Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron Man of India. The book is divided into 11 chapters, each chapter depicting a different aspect of Sardar’s life. The chapters are preceded by an introduction where the author sets up the tone for the book. Unfortunately in India we don’t get to know about our freedom fighters a lot, except some prominent names like Gandhi, Nehru, Bose, etc & precisely for that same reason this book is indeed a necessary addition to the Indian literature. Do get this book to know about a personality without whom the idea of India is incomplete,
When India got independent it was indeed a different time, with so many different religions & ethnicities it was quite obvious that there will be some conflict added to that was partition which divided the country into two. The second most prominent problem for independent India was the existence of so many princely states, it was Sardar who took the charge of their integration & as we know that he indeed did it using his diplomatic tactics & when necessary some force. I believe this book is a tribute to that great man, someone who just wanted to work for the country but wasn’t interested in gaining any kind of fame. The language used is as simple as it could be, the cover & title are on point too. Though I think there could’ve been some trimming in some parts to reduce the size of the book. A must have well researched book. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

#BookReview ; A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman

The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling, as a matter of choice, before their eyes. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.
A Horse Walks into a Bar is a shocking and breathtaking read. Betrayals between lovers, the treachery of friends, guilt demanding redress. Flaying alive both himself and the people watching him, Dovaleh G provokes both revulsion and empathy from an audience that doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry – and all this in the presence of a former childhood friend who is trying to understand why he’s been summoned to this performance.

A Horse Walks Into A Bar is a translated book written originally in Hebrew by David Grossman & translated into English by Jessica Cohen & published by Random House. He is a bestselling author whose books have been translated in 36 languages.  He is the recipient of the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the 2010 Frankfurt Peace Prize.

The story revolves around a middle aged standup comedian Dovaleh Greenstein who is performing at a club in Netanya where he had invited (or pleaded) his childhood friend, a retired judge Avishai Lazar who is also the narrator of this book to come and attend his show. The standup piece starts like any other with its highs and lows, he engages the audience and keeps them interested which shows his experience but as the performance proceeds, there’s definitely something different about some of the ‘jokes’ he makes which actually leaves the audience perplexed as to whether laugh on them or not. As Dovaleh slowly unravels his true self on the stage and the trauma he had endured, it leaves people dumbfounded. Get this book here,
I had read in an article that most of the stand up comics have experienced some kind of trauma or are depressed themselves and reading the blurb I had made up my mind that this story also would wander around the same topic & the famous quote “the show must go on” but I was wrong, its much more than that. The plot starts slow & drags itself further to the point that I lost the will to read it any further but as it had been awarded the Man Booker International Award my curiosity helped me complete this book. The book picks up its pace quite slowly but when it does, the story ultimately shakes you to the core. Even though I understand this style of writing but I have never been a fan of dragging the story. I definitely won’t miss commending the translator for doing such an amazing job. A story of pain, loss & turmoil. Surely should be read. 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

#Spotlight : The Girl Child by De. B. Dubois

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The Girl Child
De. B. Dubois
Growing up as a strong-headed single child with a privileged upbringing in Calcutta, Devi has learned much from her surroundings. Her childhood memories are filled with mixed emotions – especially as she remains angry with her mother and the hypocrisy of women in India. On an unexpected journey home, she encounters reality – new stories and experiences of strangers, as well as friends. It has been years since she left Calcutta, yet the city’s untold stories haunt her. This time Devi is back in town to solve issues and above all, through some painful and hard revelations, to make peace with those she can.
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About the author
De.B. is an ordinary person with her daily struggles of being fun and peppy; as all those heavy readings on sociology, philosophy, history, art and culture have done her sombre. – Not that she is complaining, – however when things do get too hectic, her escape solutions are: long walks through nature trails with her adopted Maltese, a good glass of absinthe from Val-de-Travers, and creating visual arts. Her friends best describe De.B. Dubois as, – ‘the hermit’.
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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

#BookReview ; When The Moon Shines By Day by Nayantara Sahgal

India has changed. Rehana finds her father’s books on medieval history have been ‘disappeared’ from bookstores and libraries. Her young domestic help, Abdul, discovers it is safer to be called Morari Lal in the street, but there is no such protection from vigilante fury for his Dalit friend, Suraj. Kamlesh, a diplomat and writer, comes up against official wrath for his anti-war views. A bomb goes off at Cyrus Batliwala’s gallery on the opening day of an art show.
Presiding over this new world is the Director of Cultural Transformation, whose smiling affability masks a relentless agenda to create a Hindu master race. In this atmosphere, Rehana and her three book-club friends, Nandini, Aruna and Lily, meet every week to discuss a book one of them has chosen—their oasis of peace amidst the harshness of reality—even as Rehana’s German friend, Franz Rohner, haunted by his country’s Nazi past, warns her of what is to come. All revolutions, he wryly observes, follow the same path. But is India about to prove him wrong? In this brilliant, dystopian satire, Nayantara Sahgal draws a telling portrait of our times.

When The Moon Shines By Day is a dystopian satire written by Nayantara Sahgal & published by Speaking Tiger. The author is an Indian writer in English. Her fiction deals with India's elite responding to the crises engendered by political change. She was one of the first female Indian writers in English to receive wide recognition. She is a member of the Nehru family. She was awarded the 1986 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, for her novel Rich Like Us (1985)awarded by India's National Academy of Letters.

The story takes us to a different India. A country which has lost its democratic values & in the name of religion segregation & discrimination is practiced. People from minority communities have to live in isolation or change their names altogether. Art is controlled & so is knowledge. Our protagonist Rehana is a part of a book club along with 3 other friends of hers where they try to read different kinds of books. Apart from her there are characters like Kamlesh whose anti-war thoughts land him in trouble. As our protagonist’s German friend tries to warn others about the blatant similarities between the path Nazi Germany went & that of India, it seems close to impossible to make people understand how disastrous that may be. Get this book here to read this exciting story,
Nayantara Sahgal is a brave woman who returned her Sahitya Akademi Award to protest against the rising intolerance in India at a time when several rationalists were getting murdered. As expected people discredited her concerns which I believe needs to be focused on. Hence, I was quite excited to read this book as it serves as a warning to what can happen to India if it doesn’t mend its ways, also it was my first book by the author. The book being a short read was a breezy read & with a topic like this it was justified. What didn’t work for me were the pace & the narration. The author took too much time to set the scene of the story & hence even though it is a breezy read, I was bored for quite a major part of the book. The cover is beautiful & is the title. An important read for our times.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

#BookReview ; Shahryar by Rakhshanda Jalil

One of the most important voices in contemporary Indian poetry, Shahryar (1936-2012) casts a mesmeric spell since the publication of his very first collection, Ism-e Azam, in 1965. In a career spanning five decades, it is interesting how Shahryar always managed to remain topical and his poetry could always be called 'the call of the time'. This ability to remain relevant and to always have something to say consistently over a period of time is a singular quality. This book locates Shahryar's considerable body of work in the trajectory of contemporary Indian writings and evaluates his extraordinary contribution to not merely modern Urdu poetry but, more significantly, modern Indian poetry.

Shahryar: A Life in Poetry is a book which traces the life of Kunwar Akhlaq Muhammad Khan famously known as Shahryar written by Rakhshanda Jalil & published by Harper Collins. She is a writer, critic & literary historian and has published over 15 books and written over 50 academic papers and essays. She runs an organization called Hindustani Awaaz, devoted to the popularization of Hindi-Urdu literature& culture.

Born to a darogha in Bareilly district in 1930s Shahryar was destined to be in the police just like his father and brother. As he finished his primary education, he was sent to Aligarh for further studies where he was introduced to Urdu. With time the pressure to join the police also increased which compelled him to leave his home & continue his studies at Aligarh University, his friends helped him throughout while Khalilur Rahman Azmi gave him a place to stay & also encouraged his poetic talents to flourish. As we read further about his life we follow his journey from a young student to a famous poet, we see disagreement to be put into any kind of box & how he never let his art be constricted under labels. Get this book here to read the magnificent journey of not just an artist but also his art,
I am not a fan of poetry and I find it difficult to read such books because I don’t find all poems in any collection appealing. When I picked up this book I was quite worried that my bias would cloud my judgment but I think it didn’t. First of all, this book beautifully amalgamates the poems with the life story of Shahryar. The author has aptly translated the poems which honestly helped me a lot to understand certain Urdu words & maybe because of that I even liked reading it. The author mentions the ghazals, nazms & film lyrics and the story attached to them. The language used is simple yet elegant, the title & cover fits perfectly. In short, I think anyone who is interested to read about a different kind of poetry & the poet who wrote them should definitely pick this book up.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

#Spotlight : Plot Your Health by C.J. Ellisson

Plot Your Health, a Journey to Wellness Planner
C.J. Ellisson

Genre: health/medical non-fiction

Publisher: Red Hot Publishing

Date of Publication: September 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-938601-583
ISBN: 978-1-938601-590

Number of pages: 220

Cover Artist: C.J. Ellisson

Book Description:

Are you struggling to stay on top of multiple medications and supplements throughout your day? Or maybe your doctor has asked for daily details on your symptoms? Do you miss treatment appointments, or have problems juggling all the details? If you need space to log your steps, moods, hours of sleep, blood sugar levels, or even foods — we've got you covered!

Introducing a one-year wellness planner for managing severe and chronic health concerns! Terrific for parents managing a child’s complex care, teenagers or adults who need to organize their health concerns, or for caregivers and adults managing the care of senior patients.

220 pages in length, with a repeat of multiple tracking pages for twelve months.

Notebook Contents:

-        Owner’s Info page with room for doctor info, personal data, emergency contacts, allergies and more!

-        Two pages for Condition Details, room to list six per page.

-        Four pages of Medicine and Supplement Records, six per page.

-        Four pages for tracking test results, scans, and blood work throughout the year.

Twelve monthly sections, each with the following:
  • Undated monthly calendar pages, for jotting down doctor appointments, wellness visits, physical therapy, IV infusions, or whatever you need.
  • Two Doctor/ Wellness visit pages, for questions to ask at each appointment, room for notes, and an area to jot down tests needed.
  • Treatment Record pages, with room to track nine treatments per month, plus an extra lined page for notes or more appointments.
  • A two-page Symptom trackers, each with room to track twenty symptoms for an entire month.
  • Three-pages per month of Medicine and Supplement tracking grids. Each contains room to track four meds that need to be taken three times a day, and room to track twenty-one meds required twice a day. (This area can be customized for more meds if they are taken only once per day).
  • Mood-tracking coloring image. Assign a color to a mood and color each section per day according to how you feel.
  • Additional two-page grid for tracking sleep, food, blood pressure, habits, blood sugar, oxygen levels... pretty much anything you need! Eighteen spaces to track for each month.
  • Two lined pages per month for additional needs.
  • Future planning area on the last page for appointments and scheduling for the next year.

About the Author:

C.J. Ellisson is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author who writes urban fantasy, mystery, romance, and has ventured into non-fiction with Plot Your Work, the Writer’s Project Planner and Plot Your Health, a Journey to Wellness Planner. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two teenagers, three dogs and two cats—reporting to love the energetic zoo that’s become their home.

C.J. turned to writing in 2009 when she could no longer work outside the home due to chronic illness, and claims the escape of writing fiction helped save her sanity. A self-proclaimed Lupus and Lyme Warrior, she is working toward getting stronger, putting her Lupus back into remission, and staying healthy.

Instead of dozens of pills, IVs, exhaustion, and pain, C.J.’s days are now filled with writing, walking dogs, exercising, eating healthy, and leading a novel-writing club in her daughter’s school. It all leads to a fun-filled, busy day, and she’s incredibly grateful to be so involved in life again.

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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

#Spotlight ; Killer Moves by Varsha Dixit

Killer Moves
Varsha Dixit
Everyone has a secret. Aisha Khatri has many!  Aisha’s life is seemingly mundane on the surface-she writes for television and takes care of her niece Kiara and her retired father. But when Kiara’s life is threatened during a modeling assignment for the famous Kabir Rana, once a suspect for his wife’s murder, the only way Aisha can save Kiara is by accepting the unique ability she has aggressively resisted all her life.  But Aisha is not the only one with secrets. There are others who have secrets and will kill to keep them. Aisha is determined to protect Kiara even if it means placing herself in the crosshairs of a depraved killer who butchers beautiful girls and leaves them as grotesque displays.  Is Kiara a target of a serial killer or is the killer closer to home-and Aisha’s heart?  Who is Kabir Rana? An elusive and moody fashion photographer burdened with a dark past or a murderer who got away?  How will Aisha save Kiara from a killer who is several steps ahead of an entire city’s police force? When the dead come calling, will Aisha answer?  From the bustling streets of Goa to the beautiful palaces of Sirsa, Killer Moves is a fast-paced, gripping, romantic suspense tale with strong thriller and supernatural elements. 
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About the author
Varsha Dixit, the best selling author of six successful contemporary romance books. Her debut book, Right Fit Wrong Shoe was a national bestseller for the year 2010. Varsha was a part of the Indian Television Industry and worked as an assistant director and online editor. She considers herself a dreamer who thinks deep but writes light. Even though creativity is gender free,Varsha feels blessed and enriched to be a woman.Currently, with her family, Varsha resides in CA, USA.
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