Battling Injustice: 16 Women Nobel Peace Laureates by Supriya Vani- Review

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Battling Injustice: 16 Women Nobel Peace Laureates by Supriya Vani
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Non Fiction
  • Pages: 512 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Supriya Vani
  • Publishing Date: 24th October,2017
  • Publisher: Harper Collins India
  • ISBN-10: 9351778339
  • ISBN-13: 978-9351778332

Review

Before I start discussing this book, I want to say that I am essentially a fiction reader. So when I began reading Battling Injustice, I thought it will take me a month to finish this book. But I was absolutely mistaken in my assumption. This book was perfect for starting Nonfiction November. It took me exactly two days to finish this 512 page book. This one is definitely part of my Top Five Favorite Books of 2017.

Foreword of the book is penned by Kailash Satyarthi. Supriya Vani’s book chronicles the life of sixteen female Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who devoted their life to make this planet a more peaceful place to live. The first woman to win Nobel Peace Prize was Bertha Von Suttner.  She won this award in  1905. After that, fifteen legendary women have won this prestigious award for their perseverance and hard work. Ms. Vani starts the book from most recent recipient Malala Yousoufzai and goes back to the first recipient Ms. Von Suttner.

While reading this book I had this epiphany that there are so many brilliant people in this world who dedicate every day of their life for the betterment of this world and I know next to nothing about them. I spend my time reading about fictional characters who save their mythic world. But when it comes to reading about real, unsung flesh and blood heroes, I am unintentionally negligent. They are the champions who rile up support for humanitarian causes and inspire us to become a better person. They restore our faith in humanity and yet I know so little about them. It reminded me of French author and philosopher Voltaire’s  famous quote, “The more I read, the more I acquire, the more I am certain that I know nothing.”

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Battling Injustice: 16 Women Nobel Peace Laureates by Supriya Vani

This book is a result of six years of painstaking research. Ms. Vani met all the living female peace prize winners and took their interview for her book. She visited many national & international institutes to obtain information about the Nobel laureates who bid farewell to this world. Every page of her book is a true testament to hope and inspiration.

Before reading this book, I had this notion in my head that to work for greater good, one must sacrifice everything. Though it holds true for most of the cases, women like Tawakkol Karman, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee proved that one can take care of their family and also work for the betterment of their nation simultaneously.

We try to hide behind the veil of fear, family, liability, duty, lack of time & money etc. Most of us spend our lives dissatisfied with reality and focused on trivial pursuits. We try to fill our life with diversions. With the help of this book, I hope that we all can rise up and do something meaningful in life, so that the future generations can be proud of us.

I will definitely recommend this book to every person across the globe. Read this book when you feel disheartened and it will boost your morale. Read it when you feel over-confident and it will teach you humility. Read it when you are lonely and you won’t feel alone in this world. Every time you reread it you will be able to learn something new.

My Rating 5/5

Thank you Harper Collins India for sending this book to me for review. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I congratulate the author for writing such a phenomenal book.

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The 365 Days by Nikhil Ramteke- Review

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The 365 Days by Nikhil Ramteke
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Pages: 178 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Nikhil Ramteke
  • Publishing Date: 20 November, 2016
  • Publisher: Write India Publishers
  • ISBN-10: 8193298845
  • ISBN-13: 978-8193298848

Summary:

The 365 Days is debut novel of author Nikhil Ramteke. This story is about Shijukutty, a fisherman from Vizhinjam, a small coastal village in Kerala. Shiju dreams of a better future for his wife and son. He believes that going to Gulf and earning money is the only way to fulfill that dream. So he takes a hefty loan and like millions of other Malayalis goes to Dubai to seek his destiny.

But the reality couldn’t be further from truth. His dreams get shattered when he finally sees beyond the sparkling mirage of Dubai. He discovers the dark facet of City of Gold which is full of injustice, exploitation, corruption and inhuman behavior. He befriends his roommates, who like him are also migrant laborers. Irrespective of their homeland, all of them have similar stories of penury and deprivation from back home which becomes a common thread of bonding between them. This book will take you on a journey of 365 days and show you the dark reality that thrives behind the shimmering veil of opulence and abundance of developed nations.

Review:

Firstly, I would like to applaud the author for selecting such an unique and realistic plot line. Despite the fact that the blurb reveals too much about the story, I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. The credit definitely goes to author’s crisp story-telling format. This book is a refreshing change from all the half baked romance novels which dominate the Indian fiction market now a days. Though the tale is fictional, there is nothing fictitious about the problems which are mentioned in this book.

The language and narration is simple and yet so charming. Throughout the book, bit by bit we feel the loneliness which haunts the migrants when they have to live without their family for so long. I specifically liked the cultural information about South Indian people and the use of regional words. It made me understand why it is so difficult for a sea-loving Malayali to survive in a sandy desert. The explicit description of unhealthy living conditions of the migrants horrified me to my core. It was traumatizing to read about the abhorring food, merciless working conditions and exploitation of laborers.

The best feature of this story is character development. It is undeniably a character driven plot. I was able to connect with Shiju from the first page itself. His hopes, dreams, worries, troubles, musings, memories and relationships are perfectly expressed by Mr. Ramteke.

I thought the author will lose his grip on the plot when the focus of the story moved from Shiju to his roommates. But I was utterly mistaken. The straightforward writing style made it easy for me to empathize with the secondary characters mentioned in the book. As the story unfolds from Shijukutty’s point of view, it helped me understand him even more. I was able to comprehend how he perceives all these characters. Because of the gradual character development, the heart-wrenching incident which happened at the end of the story  had such an immense impact.

The blurb of the book is one of its chief negative aspect. As I mentioned earlier, it reveals too much about the story too soon. Also I didn’t like the cover design of the book. The title ‘The 365 Days’ is acceptable as per the plot line but it should have been more captivating considering the uniqueness of the story.

Lastly, I would definitely recommend this book to all those readers who are bored of Indian romance novels and want to read authentic Indian stories inspired from real life events.

My Rating: 4.5/5

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In A Foreign Land, By Chance by Nabaneeta Dev Sen- Review & Giveaway

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In A Foreign Land, By Chance by Nabaneeta Dev Sen
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Pages: 144 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Nabaneeta Dev Sen
  • Translator: Soma Das
  • Publishing Date: 31st July 2017
  • Publisher: Niyogi Books
  • ISBN-10: 8193393511
  • ISBN-13: 978-8193393512

Review:

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Let me start off by saying that this is the first book by Ms. Nabaneeta Dev Sen which I have read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Apart from being Amartya Sen’s first wife, Ms. Sen is one of the most versatile Bengali female writers of India. This fictional tale is about Bipasha Chowdhury, who was forced leave her motherland during the tumultuous era of 1970’s when Naxalite moment was at its peak in West Bengal. She lived in London for few years and gradually became a renowned author and poet in English language.

The main story takes place in 1974 socialist Czechoslovakia, where Bipasha is currently attending a writers’ conference cum residency programme. She meets various local and international authors during her visit amongst which Professor Yohan stands out for his unmasked flirtatious nature. He is a professor in local university of Bratislava and is also a well-known name in the local communist party. Slowly as she gets to know him more, she understands the sanctimonious nature of communism. We also get a peek into her hidden past which was wrapped around Naxalbari movement. She starts to compare her past with her present situation in a socialist state to comprehend where she stands. In the end, Bipasha finally escapes the guilt which haunted her for so long and gets a closure.

Though set against the backdrop of communism and naxalite movement, it is not a political story. This story is about Bipasha and her journey towards self-discovery. She is professionally successful but her personal life is hollow. Unknowingly in a foreign land, she finds the answers she was looking for all her life.

I read the book on the eve of Diwali. The story felt like a breath of fresh air in the smog-ridden night. This is a tranquil and unrushed story which takes you to a world of bygone era. There is a certain charm in this story, just like Satyajit Ray movies. At first you’ll feel that nothing is happening. But gradually it grows on you so much that it won’t let you concentrate on anything else. The novel is skillfully written to present the forlorn truth of communism. This little book deals with many hidden truths. Such as people’s secret desires, double standard of socialism, real face of revolution, lonely side of idealism etc. But most of all it enlightens us about certain kind of people who are never truly content when they are away from their homeland.

The book is impeccably translated by Ms. Soma Das. I never felt lost or perplexed, while reading the book. There are very few translators who can translate the essence of the story and Ms. Das is one of them. I will definitely recommend the book to those readers who want to read quality Bengali fiction but can’t due to linguistic hurdle.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Niyogi Books and I are giving away two hardcover copies of In A Foreign Land, By Chance. Giveaway is open for Indian Residents only and ends on 1st November, 2017. To participate check my Instagram account.

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Second Chance by Dr. Sandeep Jatwa- Review

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Second Chance by Dr. Sandeep Jatwa
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Pages: 190 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Dr. Sandeep Jatwa
  • Publishing Date: 10th April 2017
  • Publisher: Educreation Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1618138022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618138026

Synopsis:

Shekhar Kapoor is a successful businessman who has never done a decent thing in his entire life. For him it is all about what he can get and how fast he can get it. He goes through life cheating and insulting people, even after he receives a mysterious telephone call from what is called the City of Justice.
Ignoring the cryptic warnings, Shekhar continues to live his life as he pleases, until one day, shortly after insulting a beggar in the street, Shekhar crashes his car and is killed.
And it is only when he is standing before the Bookkeeper, and being shown where his life had gone wrong, that Shekhar finally understands what life is all about.
But is it too late for him? Can he be given another chance, to undo all the wrongs he has done? Or is there a chance that Shekhar Kapoor can find redemption where there had previously been no hope?

Review:

This review contains spoilers, do not read it if you haven’t read the book yet (or if you are still reading it). I received this book from Vinfluencers in exchange for an honest review. Let’s discuss the positive features first. The best part of the book is off-course the protagonist. The story turned into an emotional roller coaster because of Shekhar. He takes the reader through the full spectrum of emotions ranging from anger, frustration, hate, disgust, dilemma, satisfaction, sorrow to finally happiness.

I hated Shekhar from the beginning of the story. At first I thought maybe there is something hidden in his childhood which turned him into such a monster. But soon it was clear that he was just a spoilt rich brat. I was in fact glad when he died. Nasty fellows like him should always get their comeuppance. What he faced in hell was not enough as his punishment. He should have suffered more because his sense of shame and remorse awakened after he saw the real face of hell.

Though clichéd, I enjoyed his rapid transformation also. The narrative was not dragged too much. By the end of the story I was happy and hopeful. Not for Shekhar but for the other characters whose lives changed for better because of him. My love-hate relationship with this character made the story interesting for me. It reminded me of Tolkein’s quote from Lord of the Rings, “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

That being said, let’s talk about the negative aspects. The plot follows one of the most common clichés of fiction writing which weakened an otherwise good story. As soon as I started reading the book, it felt as if I have read it (or watched it) before. Though I enjoyed the initial introduction of City of Justice with a swanky restaurant and waiting lounge, the description of hell was not something new. There are few grammatical errors in the latter half which disrupted the flow of the story.

What bothered me the most was how all the loose ends were tied too perfectly in the end. I liked the part where Shekhar came back from hell and failed in his first task of saving the beggar. It finally filled him with so much remorse that he worked harder to undo his wrongdoings. But in the end merely to prove that Shekhar has fully repented for his sins, it was revealed that she did not die. Also Unnati’s character was not well defined. She went through an invasive surgery and her boyfriend dumped her at the same time. Yet she never expressed any feeling of sorrow. She instantly moved on to Shekher and started behaving as a much-in-love woman without any hesitation. Their love story should have been developed more.

Overall its a decent story with simple language and profound moral lesson. If you are looking for a quick read then this book is apt for you.

My Rating- 3/5

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The Boy from Pataliputra by Rahul Mitra- Review

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The Boy from Pataliputra by Rahul Mitra
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 356 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Rahul Mitra
  • Publishing Date: 15th March 2017
  • Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 8175994371
  • ISBN-13: 978-8175994379

Review:

The first thing that hits you when you read this book is how much research the author has done to represent the historical background accurately. In the front of the book, three maps are included to give a broad understanding of ancient India. Also thorough notes at the end of the book are very helpful for readers like me who are not well versed with Indian history. Mr. Mitra has used many ancient words in the story which was a little confusing for me. But the notes at the end of book helped me a lot.

When I received this book for review, I thought that the story might be about Chanakya or Chandragupta. But set against the backdrop of Alexander’s invasion of India, this tale is actually about a boy Aditya (from Patliputra) and his journey from being a wayward aristocrat to a dignified man with principles.

Story is divided in three segments; the first part is about Aditya and his elder brother Ajeet who works in Magadha’s task force. They live in the capital Pataliputra. Though Ajeet reprimands Aditya for his carefree behavior, he also loves him to bits. Everything seems fine until one unfortunate incident turns Aditya’s life topsy-turvy and forces him to live a life of a runaway.

Part two is all about how Aditya with the help of his friends, takes the reins of his life in his owns hands and changes his destiny. He lives in the city of Takshashila now and has finally achieved everything; a fine job in King’s army, reputation in society and a beautiful girl whom he loves.

But just when everything seems alright, a new dark threat in the form of Alexander hovers over Bharatvarsha. After the conquest of Persepolis; capital of Persian empire, he is on his way to conquer and obliterate India. As all the local rulers shake hands with  the enemy, the students of Takshashila University including Aditya’s friends declare open rebellion to upheld Chanakya’s ideology of Akhanda Bharat. Aditya is in a quandary. What will he do in such a situation? Will he tear apart his carefully constructed world for the future of India?

Author has perfectly amalgamated fantasy with reality. I loved the fact that rather than distorting the actual historical facts and the stories of real historical figures from Maurya Dynasty, Mr. Mitra crafted a tale of a completely new fictional character set against the tumultuous backdrop of Alexandar’s invasion of India in 4th century BC. Also there is a lot of information about India’s internal politics of that period. For example, though fictional it gives us an insight into turbulent relationship between Kingdom of Magadha and Bauddha Bhikkshus . It was also interesting to read author’s  viewpoint on ‘As a King treats another King’ in the notes section.

I liked the language used by the author, which is a blend of modern day vocabulary with ancient words. The narrative would have turned into a boring essay if he had only used archaic words. The usage of modern day words made the conversations interesting. However my only issue with the story is its underdeveloped characters. Apart from the main protagonist, most of the secondary characters lack depth. To spice up the story, there should have been a little bit more focus on atleast some of the characters.

Considering this is author’s first book, he did a fantastic job of merging history with fiction. The story surely didn’t disappoint me. Also the cover of the book is enchanting. I am eagerly waiting for the next book in the Pataliputra Trilogy.

My Rating: 3/5

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The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter by Shilpa Raj- Review

 

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The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter- Shilpa Raj
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Pages: 250 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Shilpa Raj
  • Publishing Date: 10th July 2017
  • Publisher: Rupa Publishers
  • ISBN-10: 8129147696
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129147691

Review

I was a bit hesitant, when I received this book for review. It was constantly in the back of my mind that this not a fictitious novel, this is someone’s life story. The author went through every experience that she shared in her book. How can I review someone’s life? But I must acknowledge that Shilpa Raj is an exceptional author. She simplified my problem very easily. She made me fall in love with her story.

There is something very magical about her writing style. Her words paint a vivid picture in reader’s mind. She teleported me directly to her village Thattaguppe with her scenic descriptions. I started reading this book during my commute to work. Her book captivated me so much that twice I forgot to get off the metro at my station. This is not one of those books which you can read hastily. You need to read few chapters, absorb the essence and then move forward.

In her debut novel, Shilpa Raj exposed modern day Indian society which is still shackled to caste system and untouchability. Despite its constitutional abolition, untouchability is still widely practiced in rural India. The resulting deprivation and discrimination is not just social, but also economic, which stifle Dalit women in every possible way.

The story begins with an unforeseen death in the family under mysterious circumstance which shakes Shilpa to her core. She starts narrating her life story and takes us to her past. At the age of four her life changes dramatically when she gets selected in Shanti Bhawan- a boarding school started by an Indian American philanthropist Dr. George. He wanted to provide quality education to underprivileged kids.

Author mentions in her book that due to her upbringing in a boarding school full of diverse people, her opinions and views gradually changed. Though this was a positive change in her life, it created a rift between Shilpa and her family. Rather than hiding the unpleasant truth about her kin, she bares her soul in her debut novel and helps us understand how caste system is still very much prevalent even in Indian Christian families.

I really admire the raw honesty in her narrative which makes the book more compelling. She explains in detail how making illegal alcohol (Sarayam), gender discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy and every other social evil is an indirect result of poverty. Hungry people can’t afford ethics and principles hence it’s a never-ending circle for them.

I would also like to thank Shilpa’s father for taking such a stern decision and giving her an opportunity to break free from the shackles of social evils. I can clearly understand why she named her memoir The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter. If you want to read about the dark underbelly of 21st century rural India then this book is a must read for you. I will highly recommend this book to all readers.

Rating: 4/5

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Harappa: Curse of the Blood River by Vineet Bajpai- Review

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Harappa: Curse of the Blood River by Vineet Bajpai
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Historical/Mythological Fiction
  • Pages: 314 pages
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author: Vineet Bajpai
  • Publishing Date: 9th June 2017
  • Publisher: VB Performance LLP
  • ISBN-10: 9352685482
  • ISBN-13: 978-9352685486

Synopsis

Harappa follows the story of Vidyut Shashtri, who is an inferno of talent, skills, spirituality and ambition. He is a thirty something successful entrepreneur who lives in Delhi with his girlfriend Damini. Vidyut’s dying ancestor Dwarka Shashtri summons him to Kashi. He is an 108 years old Brahmin chieftain of  the Dev-Raakshasa Matth who bears a chilling secret. It’s time to inform Vidyut about his mighty ancestors and the ancient curse which their blood line carries. A curse so powerful that it can destroy the whole mankind.

In 1700 BCE, Harappan civilization is at its peak. It is the mightiest city on planet Earth and thrives on the bank of Holy Saraswati river. Vivasvan Pujari has worked all his life to maintain the peace and prosperity in whole Aryavarta. He is a legendary warrior, grandmaster of Vedic knowledge and is hailed as the Surya of Harappa. He is believed to be the last born Devta on earth- half human, half god. But the Devta is about to be betrayed by somebody he trusts the most, paving the way for his devastating revenge and fall of this glorious civilization.

Currently in Paris, world’s most powerful religious institution is rattled. Europe’s dreaded crime lord meets a mysterious man in Paris. A lethal assassin boards a train, as Rome fears the worst. The prophesied Devta has returned. What connects Banaras, Harappa and Rome? What’s the ancient curse? Read on to travel through a saga which oscillates from history to mythology, from occult to religion, from exorcism to gunfights, from taantrics to warriors, from love to ambition. It knits 3,700 years, powerful ancient and modern-day characters and a nail-biting conspiracy – all in one literary thriller.

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Review:

To tell you the truth, I was really hesitant to start this book. I have read few Indian mythological and historical retellings and they were mind-numbingly boring. But at the same time I was intrigued too. Who wouldn’t be? This story is about Harappa- one of the most well-planned ancient civilization this world has ever witnessed. So when this book was sent to me for review, I seized the opportunity. And I was in for a treat. The story is fast paced, mysterious and kept me to the edge of my seat.

One of the strongest point of the story is its plot. It jumps from one timeline to another and yet you can easily connect all the incidents together. Within the first few pages of introduction and prologue,  author reveals the major incident that takes place in the story. And yet, he has crafted the narrative so beautifully that it will keep you glued till the last page. Crux of a good thriller always lies in maintaining the suspense. The moment I started reading this story, I wanted to know each and every terrifying secret hidden by legendary Dwarka Shashtri. Even when there were only few pages left, I was still wishing that somehow author will divulge every secret in the last few pages. But I am glad that he maintained the suspense and left the big reveal for his next book.

There are so many characters in this book. Not only the protagonists but each and every minute character is meticulously developed. Damini and Naina both are smart, bold, beautiful and intelligent and yet they are so different from each other when it comes to expressing their emotions. I liked Balawanta and Sonu a lot. But when it comes to well-developed characters, the antagonist takes the cake. You can’t create an epic hero without an epic villain. I LOVED Priyamvada. She knows how to use her mind and body both as weapon. She turned the events in her favor so swiftly that even the mighty Devta couldn’t do anything. One of the best written character in this story is Romi Pereira. But there is a very little focus on his storyline. The book is 314 pages long, surely a little bit more focus on him wouldn’t have hurt.

The language is lucid and easily understandable which makes the timeline jumps easy to understand. With a genre like historical/mythological fiction, things could have  horribly wrong, if the author had tried to imitate western stories. But I was glad that he stayed true to his roots and delved deeper into Indian history, traditions, folklores, gastronomy and culture. So many Hindi and Sanskrit words are marvelously amalgamated in the tale. Each word is described in English too. The description of Harappa and Benaras is so lively that it forms a clear picture in readers mind. I have not seen both and yet the minute details tickles my imagination and paints a picture in my head. The historical facts are not hundred percent accurate. For example  Harappan and Mesopotamian civilizations are not parallel civilizations. But this is not a history book and taking creative liberty is not a crime.

However, one thing which bothered me a lot was the conversations between the characters. The excessive use of words like yaa, man, come on, baby, my love, na, arey etc. disrupted the flow of the story. Also I felt that sometimes Vidyut was portrayed overly perfect to fit the part of protagonist. It felt unreal that every women in his vicinity was pining after him (including his secretary).

One thing is for sure, Vineet Bajpai has successfully cured my skepticism towards Indian mythological and historical retellings. He has perfectly intertwined  fiction with history and fantasy with reality. The book ends on a dramatic cliffhanger and I am eagerly waiting for the next book the series- Pralay: The Great Deluge. Hope atleast few secrets will be revealed in the next book. I will definitely recommend this book to the fellow readers.

My Rating: 4.5/5

“This Book Review/Interview is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Book Promotions” to know more log on to http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/.”

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