Tag Archives: student

Hope and Sunshine, Debasmita Nath Ghosh, 2018


Publishers: Power Publishers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback
Synopsis:
Naina Grover has an imperfectly perfect life, or is it perfectly imperfect? A Punjabi kudi from Delhi working in the city of joy, Kolkata is joined by her crazy cousin, Arjun and his sober friend Aditya to come of age while at a long – distance relationship which seems to be going nowhere. She knows it is a recipe for disaster but should she let go or not? Should she hope for the best? Hope she will be accepted?Hope she can settle down? Hope she can come to terms with a family secret bothering her for years now? Just hope. Keep hoping? And then, Hope welcomes a ray of sunshine. Naina welcomes you to look at life from her perspective. ‘Hop’e On!’
My Review:
While Hope and Sunshine proved be a quick and mindless summer read, enjoyable and of the chick-lit vein, the overall output was average. The plot was nicely prepared however, its elaboration needed a bit more effort. Not to say that it isn’t a good book- Hope and Sunshine made for a good enough debut. The characters, were also very realistic in the fact that their emotions were nicely structured. However, I found Naina definitely as a very flawed person, without being too literal of course. I also liked the themes that the author has brought in to this book, which mostly are friendship, the work culture, family and of course, love. I think they were explored fantastically. However, there are certain portions where I felt that the storyline dragged and that really slowed me down a bit. Moreover, the grammar and the editing needs to be worked upon- the language used is very much colloquial, i.e., too informal for a book and I would have appreciated a much more streamlined approach.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t particularly captivating either and although I did moderately enjoyed it, I do not think I shall be picking it up anytime soon.

Pi Agency, Neelabh Pratap Singh, 2018

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Publisher: Self-published
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 313
Blurb:
Rashmi Purohit is a failed CBI aspirant. With no future in Indian law enforcement, she turned to working alongside the law. Now running her own agency out of her claustrophobic basement, Rashmi is dying for a notable case and a big break.
A wealthy entrepreneur with a troubled, drug-addicted son seems like the perfect client. But when Rashmi and her impetuous, barely-competent employees stumble into a Dark Web-based investment conspiracy, the detective knows she has kicked a hornet’s nest. Rashmi might just solve the case – but only if it doesn’t kill her, destroy her agency, or make her betray her father’s legacy one last time.
My Review:
The book was a gripping story, nail-biting and nerve-wrecking at multiple instances. The concept was really unique and the concept itself was not something that I have ever come across before. The gradual flow towards the climax and then the subsequent descent to the denouement was knee-jerking without being abrupt.
The characters were well—built too. We could see different aspects of their lives- Rashmi with her hidden and suppressed feelings of hatred and guilt, Diksha with her frustration, and Akshay with his resourcefulness. The bond of friendship which kept them together was also well shown, especially the dependence they had on each other.
I like the themes that are there in the book- the main among which is, addiction and its effects on our youth today. The other theme, of the ease, which the internet has provided us, is also a thought-invoking one.
The cover was something else that I liked as well. Faces on book covers is a personal preference and so it’s not surprising that I loved it. The dark and eeriness with the grain effect also gave a mysterious vibe and conveyed the utter essence of the story. However, at times, I felt like the author used too many technical and boring dialogues, including many jargons. Apart from this one point, I did not find any problems with this story.
Verdict:
Definitely a must-read for beginners in the mystery genre. I rate it a 4/5 stars. This is a book that will definitely entertain you!

Agniputr, Vadhan, 2016

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Publishers: Bloomsbury
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Mythological
Synopsis:
When ace lawyer, Raghuram Surya, received an order of requisition from the Government of India for his ancestral castle, he was unaware of the Sutram beneath it or his own legacy.
He will have to choose between the world’s end or his own.
Before long, the lawyer takes on India’s most powerful politician, Kiromal, a man utterly obsessed with power. Kiromal and his sinister Tantric advisor intend to use the evil beneath the castle to play God.
Raghuram finds an ally in Sheila, a scientist who is tasked to investigate the Sutram. Using Quantum science to interpret a Vedic verse, they have to unravel the secrets of creation to stop the destruction. Through it all, they have to be one step ahead of Kiromal just to stay alive.
Now is the time of final reckoning. Will Kiromal harness the evil to rule the world?
Or will the Sutram break free to eradicate the planet?
Or, are Raghuram and Sheila merely pawns in an even deadlier game?
My review:
Agniputr was a completely riveting read, and I finished it in one day. The author has doen a great job with the book, beautifully combining the thriller as well as the fantasy/mythological elements. I read this book as a part of the #indiabookstagramreadathon under Prompt 1, where one has to read a fantasy/mythological book.
The plot was well planned and flowed beautifully, and although I found the first bit a little slow, I loved the overall effect. The themes of mythology, friendship, kinship etc. were well explored. The love angle was, however, a sore point for me. The romance between the two lovers seemed sudden with an abrupt beginning.
The characters were all also nicely portrayed—displaying all human emotions and feelings. The author has clearly given his time to the foundations of the various characters in here. I especially liked the cunning of Govind as well as Raghuram, and found both of them worth the awe.
The writing style was beautiful and cohesive and the tone was lilting and I personally found it gripping enough for me to finish it in one day itself. The editing was done well and I couldn’t find any grammatical errors.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 4/5 stars and will definitely recommend it to others.

When Broken Hearts Meet, Arushi Vats, 2018

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Publishers: Notion press
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Romance
Synopsis:
Avanti meets Suhaas. They become friends. Avanti is a conflicted girl, shattered in the tussle between her past and present and Suhaas is the typical prince charming who has two sides, one which he keeps to himself and the other which he shows to everyone. As their story proceeds ahead, both of them begin to feel affinity for each other. But deep in the realms of their hearts dwells chaos that occurs because of their past relationships. Avanti and Suhaas’s friends make efforts to unite them as they know that they love each other. Eventually, it’s up to Suhaas if he will confess his love or not but the important question arises here is, will Avanti find the courage to leave behind her tumultuous past and embrace her love story?
My review:
The story is basically of two people who try to overcome various hurdles in their love for each other. That being said, the plot was pretty well developed, however, the author’s approach to it can be changed. The twists and turns introduced were pretty fair although some bits were overly dramatized and the pace was abrupt all the while.
Now, I honestly didn’t like the protagonist- Avanti; she was just too weak and spineless and also too confused all the time. Moreover, she hardly takes a stand for herself. She is also too negative and stubborn, and that too not in a good way either. The pace of her budding relationship is also too fast with Suhaas, who for that matter, was a pretty petty and immature boy himself. The author would have done well to have invested some more time building the foundation of their relationship. The friends of Avanti as well seemed to be too interfering and considering their age, too inappropriate.
The editing could have gone better and I just had to drag myself in the second half of the book. But that’s a personal opinion. Although this is a book I won’t be picking up again, I would recommend light romance lovers to go for it.
Verdict:
I rate this a 2/5 stars for the plot, and the intricate twists and turns added by the author, especially the ending. The author definitely has the capacity to produce better works than this in the future.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. And with this, perhaps the most famous ironical sentence ever, begins Austen’s masterpiece. First published in 1813, it achieved instant success and its popularity has endured till this date. With a working title of First Impressions, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has remained an evergreen favorite among all in the literary world. Every English major has read it and moreover, there are so many others who aren’t majoring in English, but are still among this classic’s ardent lovers.
Pride and Prejudice follows the trials and tribulations of the five Bennet sisters- Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, with all their various quirks and mannerisms. It is a truly funny and satiric novel in the sense that it subtly pokes fun at the various stereotypes in Regency Era England.
We see the irony in appearance and character- for instance, in the fine-bred Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her condescending manners, Mrs. Bennet with her silly and loud ways as well as Mr. Collins who surely loves to hear his own voice. There is also a comparison made between simplicity and intricacy in between Jane and Mr. Charles Bingley, and Elizabeth and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. The novel’s title may be a reference to Mr. Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice against him; however, it goes both ways.
Since Pride and Prejudice can be classified as a novel of manners, we can also see quite a few social themes that haunted every action and thought of people in 19th century England. Reputation is one major theme in this novel, but it comes into prominence with Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. At the base of the story, we can say that Pride and Prejudice is a story of two young people coming together, as love inexplicably binds them together. It is thus no wonder that love should be one of the major themes of this novel. Financial status or class is another recurring theme- it is what drives Mrs. Bennet with the threat of the entail hanging of her head, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh when she visits Elizabeth towards the end, and expresses how unfit any union of her and Mr. Darcy would be. In the same vein, social appearance, humility and prejudice are also among the few other themes.
Personal growth is quite a major theme throughout the novel- it takes place in the two major characters of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Taking this factor, Pride and Prejudice can also be classified as a bildungsroman. A lot of the storyline is also taken forward through the medium of letters- among Jane, Elizabeth, Caroline Bingley etc. thus we see an effective use of the epistolary form as well.
I remember that that first time I read this, was back in 2012 when I was perhaps in the eight standard. I had loved it then and I loved it as I possible read this for the hundredth time this semester. It truly is a wonderful experience every time I read it and one of the obvious choices when people ask me for classics recommendations. I rated it, as usual a 5/5 stars; I do not know anyone who would grant it any less!

Corridors of Life: A Talk with your own Soul, Ajay Kumar, 2018


Publishers: Invincible Publishers
Genre: Self-help
Synopsis:
Life is full of hurdles, so we need to retain the artistry of overcoming the issues of life. No one is here to entertain you, everyone is working for themselves and the POWER OF CHOICE arbitrates every possible situation. This motivational manual will take you on a journey which will describe the basic hiccups of life and the effortless way to tackle it. Remember one thing always that:
“You are only the reason for the future version of yourself.
It’s your choice which can upgrade or degrade you”
Ajay, founder of Pephour.com , a blogging website which points out the problems existing in society. Being a motivational speaker and a Life Coach, he’s on a mission of empowering millions of youths across the nation. Also with a keen interest in poetry gave him a way to inspire number of people by his words. His dream is to be alive in millions of hear by his words.
My review:
A motivational book which touched upon quite a few different aspects of life, Corridors of Life was an enlightening read. The advice was very easy to understand, and relatable as well. It was positive and also constructive at the same time. Each chapter was something of its own and you can understand it even if you start at a random chapter and not in the order as given in the contents page.
The addition of anecdotes by the author make the whole point come across very easily; these examples make the subject matter very understandable as they are certain instances we have all seen but seldom introspected upon. The subject matter of this book was very diverse as well, covering topics such as the power of the mind, anger management, the willingness to learn from others, the 3 worries in life, the 3 rules for success in life, the 3 pillars in a positive relationship and so on.
However when it comes to the editing- grammatical errors, syntaxes etc. there is much scope left. It’s one thing that leaves a bad aftertaste in most books. Otherwise, the language used was pretty simple without the use of jargons or any technical terms.
Verdict:
I rate this book a 3/5 stars and hope that further editions will completely do away with the errors.

ABC Calling, Vineeth Menon, 2017

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Publishers: self
Genre: Romantic Thriller
Synopsis:
Meghana, who is about to leave to the US for pursuing her Masters.
Adithya, an Assistant Manager at Syndicate Bank.
August 15, 2015: India celebrating her 69th Birthday.
Set in the ‘state with many worlds’, ABC Calling is a tale enveloped with love of two persons from different pages of life.
Disclaimer: I was offered a copy of the book by the author in return for an honest review.
My review:
The whole plotline of the novel was truly well- planned out especially when one takes into consideration the cliff-hanger one is left with, in the end. It sings out for a sequel as it has a lot of loopholes, which I feel are entirely left loose by the author intentionally- the ending asks for it. the whole suspense aspect is a joyride and it spices up the story in the parts where it drags a bit. The narration is very engaging and keeps the reader hooked.
Meghana, and Shivani are amazing characters and the author has put in a lot in their acute realistic portrayal. They portray the real women of today with their perspectives on life, their views, and emotions as well as their sensitiveness and empathy. Nebessa is a mystery altogether. Adithya is also another such round and intricate character. The humour element brought in by the author through these characters are also great.
However, there can be quite a bit of proofreading and editing to be done on this book. The punctuation and the errors at some points leave a bad aftertaste. The dialogues can also be improved.
Verdict:
I rate this a 3/5 stars.

Flying Without Wings, Rishabh Puri, 2017

Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers India and Black Ink

Synopsis:

For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she’ll never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams – someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one. This is the story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love.

Review:

I’d like to begin by saying that most Indian romances are too stereotypical and too lovey-dovey for my taste. They have so far never been able to overcome the love I have for my Mills&Boons. However, Flying without Wings was an exquisite read and I truly loved it with all my heart.

In terms of the plotline, I found it truly very believable and the common trope of poor-girl-meets-rich-boy had its very own twist making it a very enjoyable read. It also explored the various other aspects of life apart from love- like addiction, loss, friendship, family etc. and these themes were well written and portrayed in the actions of the characters. Milli and Karan are the protagonists of this novel and as we see their evolutions throughout the story, we can understand the different needs and wishes that drive people. Both of them are so different from each other in terms of their job, their salaries, their familial backgrounds and their ways of life. And yet, the one thing that pulls them together is the realization that despite their busy schedules, they are such lonely souls. I must admit that Rahull was not a favourite of mine and yet I found him very relatable- he shows his own shades of grey as a human.

The characters, though few, were very believable in all their true colours- with their feelings of grief, love, etc. The fact that they were shown as all-round characters also help a lot in this sense. For instance, it’s not just the search for love that drives the people, unlike in so many Indian rom-coms; they have their own careers thus managing all the various facet of life. In terms of the editing and grammar, I was delighted not to have found any errors as they are so common in most Indian romance novels.

Some things that didn’t add up made me a bit discomfited, however. For instance, the fact that despite the lower-middle class household portrayed (or even third-class, one could say), Milli seems to have a sedan. It was a bit difficult to digest that considering the fact that they hardly had any money to repair the sink when it broke. Moreover, I was wondering if opiates aren’t costly since the mother seems to be popping them like candy, along with her alcohol addiction as well. These were a few inaccuracies that just didn’t add up at all.

Verdict:

I rate this book a 4/5 stars and recommend it to, all those who are ‘suckers’ for romance- a must read.

7 Books in 7 days!

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So a while back, a group of my friends decided to do the #7days7books challenge. This is a 7-day long read-a-thon basically, where one tries to read and complete 7 books. This is also the first time that I have participated in a read-a-thon and I have been pretty excited about it as well! So, without further ado, let me list the books I have decided to read over this period.
Book 1- Finding your G-spot in Life
Author: Geetika Saigal
Publishers: Invincible Publishers, 2018
Synopsis:
The Probability of your parents’ meeting: one in a million. The Chance that they had you and not another genetic version of you: one in 4 million billion. (yeah, that’s a number too!) The Number of moments you have lived (knowing that any of us could pop-off any moment): ~9.4 million in our lifetime.
You, Yes YOU, are a miracle.
Do you not then deserve to lead a miraculous life?
A life that you know is meaningful to you, that doesn’t leave you feeling like you are simply running, not knowing where to and why so. So go on, give yourself and your life the best shot.
How?
By ceasing this race to ‘somewhere’ for just a few hours; Re-discovering Your Real Self, Re-aligning Your Thoughts, Revamping Your Life – All in (nothing worthwhile is simple!) 4 STEPS + 15 Do-it-for-Yourself EXERCISES.
This book is written for all of us, whether you’re just starting out your life or wishing to change it.
Book 2- Call Me By Your Name
Author: Andre Aciman
Publishers: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
Synopsis:
Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.
The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable.
Book 3- Not Exactly Love
Author: Anindita Sengupta
Publishers: Vishwakarma Publications, 2018
Synopsis:
Not every love is smooth sailing and not every love has a magical ending and yet, without a generous dose of ‘Love’, life would certainly be devoid of its most thrilling experience.
A tumultuous trip, an inevitable attraction, a passionate kiss, magical memories, beautiful chaos, taking a risk, giving a chance, holding on and letting go all define this strange animal we call love.
Everyone craves it but is the definition of love the same for all?
‘Not Exactly Love’ is about 10 different women navigating through the sea of love and attraction. Ten stories about adventures of the heart and the games that it plays with the mind! But still… should we give love a chance?
“NOT EXACTLY LOVE”
Book 4- In a Cult of Their Own
Author: Amborish Roychoudhury
Publishers: Rupa Publications Pvt. Ltd. 2018
Synopsis:
‘Cults become cults, they are not made. It’s the becoming that is interesting, not the making.’
There are some films that sure fizzle out of the theatres in a heartbeat, but figure out a way to survive. Through a torrent leaked online, on an old bootlegged DVD or VHS, or YouTube upload and then in the hands of the omnipresent Twitterati—the films form a ‘cult’ of their own.
This book is a tongue-in-cheek ode to these cult movies of Hindi filmdom, ones that despite not having made moolah at the box office, still made it to viewers’ memories for reasons—good or bad. Drawing from his own reminiscences of growing up on these delectables and also face-to-face interviews with actors and directors such as Aamir Khan, Pankaj Kapur and Deepti Naval, the author celebrates these underdogs in a manner that is extremely readable and relatable.
Book 5- Flying Without Wings
Author: Rishabh Puri
Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers India and Black Ink, 2017
Synopsis:
For Milli Bajwa, life is at a stand-still. Grounded in the Chandigarh airport where she works day after day, she watches flights leaving for destinations she knows she will never visit. Loveless and luckless, she would rather bury her nose in a book than face her grim reality. And then, on a whim, she swipes right on a new dating app, and finds the man of her dreams- someone who can sweep her off her feet and teach her how to fly. But the mysterious and charming Karan Singhania has secrets of his own, and a heart damaged in more ways than one.
This is a story of two people about to find out how far they’re willing to go for the promise of true love. Will Karan take a chance and dive- blind-folded and headfirst- towards his dreams? Will Millie be willing to stand by Karan’s side in sickness and in health, just for a glimpse of his smile? This is a story of hope and joy in times of heartache and trial =. Of finding the perfect person in imperfect situations. And of love’s power to carry us through our darkest times.

Book 6- Till the End of Forever
Author: Vivaksh Singh
Publishers: Srihti Publishers & Distributors, 2018
Synopsis:
The past is always mysterious. It neither leaves completely, nor stays fully. Who would know it better than Ayaan. He was its victim. And so was Avani. When these two crumbled souls met, they realized in their togetherness that only a broken piece can complete another. Together, they start fighting the pain of their past, feeling the bliss of the present and appreciating their lives.
But just when they thought things were perfect, life played its cards.
Ayaan, who was trying to put life’s pieces together, broke down when he was held responsible for a closed one’s murder.
And Avani… well, her life was going to take such sharp turns that she would crave for death.
Alas, this was just the beginning of what destiny had planned for them!
Will Avani wait for the scars to heal or will she fight with her bruised soul? Why does the truth keep going deeper as she chases it?
Deeply sensitive and brutally thrilling, Till The End Of Forever is a romantic thriller that takes a dig in the dark sides of god, nature of human pain, power of selfless care, and proves how true love can make you live till the end of forever.
Book 7- A Cage of Desires
Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra
Publishers: Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd., 2018
Synopsis:
There’s a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there’s the kind that brings you down on both. You don’t need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.’
Renu had always craved for love and security, and her boring marriage, mundane existence somehow leads her to believe that, maybe, this is what love is all about. Maya, on the other hand, is a successful author who is infamous for her bold, erotic books.
What do these two women have in common? How are their lives intertwined?
Renu’s thirst for love and longing takes her on a poignant journey of self-exploration. The answers come to her when she finds the courage to stand up for herself, to fight her inner demons and free herself from the cage of desires . . .

Bitter Betrayal, Penny Jordan, 1989

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Before I begin, I would like to state how very lucky I consider myself to have found out about BookChor, and if you haven’t, let me tell you-you are missing out on the best steal deals on books that there ever have been.
I bought Bitter Betrayals from BookChor for less than 100INR, and I am very glad of it. Mills and Boon’s books have been my guilty pleasure, ever since I started reading them at 17. I like that they are quite lighthearted and fluffy to read- often short enough to complete in one seating. Bitter Betrayal is one such book.
I think the author has very tragically described how rejection can change a person like we see in our protagonist Jenneth. This brings to light also the bitter side of the real world- something one does not always see in books of this genre. The various issues or themes, this brought up were very thought-provoking- trust, self-esteem, friendship, and of course love. The author has also brought in the real-life issue of sex- sexual relationships without the entanglements of love, especially in Eleanor. This perhaps will help to slowly dispel the “virgin” concept, so much prevalent in the Mills and Boon series, especially of the 20th century. Brotherly/familial love and concern is also another theme seen here- we have Nick and Kit, and then Angelina, all of whose love for Jenneth is clearly seen in the book.
Apart from the characters, I saw a few irregularities in the plot. The whole way that the marriage came about- the reason, which everyone had so easily accepted, seemed too far-fetched to me. It felt like the author was trying to just get Jenneth and Luke, her male counterpart, to tie the knot, in any way that was possible. Like in most Mills and Boon books, the man is always arrogant and dominating, and Bitter Betrayal is no exception. However, we were given glimpses into Luke’s point of view at times, and I found it a refreshing take.
I have read a Mills and Boon after a long time and truly enjoyed it. However, it was a light read nonetheless- something I picked up one night when I couldn’t sleep. As such, I rate it a 3/5.

Indeliberate Deliberations, Shivansh Umatt, 2017

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Publishers: pblishing.com
Indeliberate Deliberations, as the synopsis says, is a collection of heartfelt poems, on the four broad themes of Latency, Abyss, Frost and Froth, and, Gory Musings. Like most poetry, these days, the pieces in Indeliberate Deliberations are seen following the free-verse poetry, without a fixed structure.
In terms of quantity, there are a total of 21 poems in the book and they are all very heartwarming. The editing/proof-reading has also been done in a very good manner, because of which the quality truly shines through, despite the small size of the book.
Keeping in mind that everyone interprets the same author’s same works differently, I would like to state that I found Abyss focused more on the harsh realities of life, Latency on the perception of self, Gory Musings on guilt and other such emotions that eat away at a man’s soul, and Frost and Froth on the comparison between nature and human life. The poems were very relatable and the author has written very well- I believe he will go a long way. I finished reading it thrice now, ever since I got it from the author’ it’s that good!
Considering the fact that I have been hungering for poetry books for quite some time now, I would also like to say that I liked this book a lot- 4/5 stars by me.

Lean Days, Manish Gaekwad, 2018


“I am okay sleeping with someone who does not read books as long as they are not defiant about it.”
– Manish Gaekwad, Lean Days

Publishers: HarperCollins Publishers
Synopsis:
Fed up with his tedious desk job, a young man decides to quit on an impulse. He wants to write a novel but doesn’t think he has a story to tell. So the would-be writer, who was raised in a kotha, sets out to travel, hoping to arrive somewhere: at a destination, at a story.
But it’s not just about arriving. What about the journey? The joy and pain of trudging through the country without a plan, or a map? If his aim is to write, who will document his search for inspiration, and for love?
Lean Days is the story of an artist’s voyage through the country, mixing history with imagination, and finding people and places whose stories he can tell along with his own. It is a book of journeys without an end in sight, about the yearning for romance and succumbing to the temptations of the flesh.
The plot
The story is about a gay man travelling across India with the aim to find inspiration for his novel. Can be classified as an autobiography, epistolary novel as well as a novel of manners. It’s a journey through multiple cities along with a myriad of cultures, customs, foods and religions of the people. It is an exceptional journey mostly as the character explores facets of his own individuality including his sexuality, of the fear of rejection, openness, trust etc.
Throughout this journey from one city to another, and through the haze of memories associated with that particular place, he not only gets closer to his inner desires but he also discovers his inner self.
It is a really inflective book in the sense that it forces us to introspect about our own views and expectations of love, sexuality etc. Being gay in India is not easy especially in the times the author portrayed. As the protagonist travels from one place to another, he also collects some souvenirs like a comb in Hampi, a book in Srinagar, and so on. His journey begins from Bangalore, where he relives his days spent in the old Indian Coffee House, now shifted to a more modern setting, and continues with Hyderabad, Delhi, Ajmer, Srinagar, then Ladakh, Chandigarh, Manali, Lucknow, Kathmandu, Lumbini, Banaras, Calcutta and finally, to where the writer actually belongs to, i.e., Bombay. The themes of sexuality, self-discovery, love, lust and also the whole concept of self was worth reading about and shed quite the light on matters that need to be discussed more.
The writing style
I am really impressed with the writing style of the author- Lean Days is truly an ongoing autobiography done right. He has beautifully captured the thoughts and fears of a regular Indian man who has to be defiantly secretive of his feelings in a mostly homophobic India. This is the sort of book that needs to be read more in the community and moreover, to be written about and I’m happy to see this ongoing change in the current generation- the willingness to be respecting of all people despite their varying sexualities and behaviours. The overall writing style is quite simple, albeit very realistic and to the point. The pace that the author has adopted for the book is also very great as the protagonist travels from one city to another- sometimes happily, sometimes not, and sometimes in between.

The characters
I could really relate to the nameless protagonist throughout the book. The other characters are well created with a believable as well as relatability. They are all flawed and display varying shades of grey- thus making them more human and real in a fictionalized story.

Cover
The cover was kept minimalistic and I admit I was truly very attracted to the cover in the beginning. The background to the neon pink “Lean Days” truly gave the kotha vibes.

Verdict
I rate this book a 4/5 stars keeping in mind the characters, the plotline as well as the themes covered. It was an exciting journey.
Note: Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India and the author for giving me the opportunity to read and write an honest review in exchange for a copy of this book.
Amazon Link for the Book: https://www.amazon.in/Lean-Days-Manish-Gaekwad-ebook/dp/B079VY663G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1528966200&sr=1-1&keywords=lean+days

The Nirvana Threads, Rachel Tremblay, 2018

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The Nirvana Threads, Rachel Tremblay’s latest book, is a modern day interpretation of 90s magical punk and spiritual romance, a combination which I have never come across before. Sometime back, I reviewed the first chapter of the book, and I remember being very pleased and eager to read more. And so, when this book was released on the 1st of June, the author was kind enough to send me one too! Another disclaimer: although I was given this book by the author, my thoughts are entirely from a personal viewpoint and have in no way, been influenced.
One thing I would like to point out is that there is a lot of parallelism between the stream of consciousness method applied by Virginia Woolf and the similarities in our protagonist Carlie’s journey. Having said that, I propound that there has been no plagiarizing if you’re thinking in that line; I had meant the method itself.
We have our young protagonist, Carlie, a young woman living in the 90s, whose life changes after a life-altering accident. In the review I wrote for the first chapter, I was very much impressed with the way the author has beautifully portrayed the hollowness in the independence that people strive for. Carlie is a person facing a harsh reality- she does not really have any friends, and her parents are just people who gave her birth. They are just ‘family’ without the emotional connotations that otherwise come to mind when one talks of their families. It’s her husband who is her only ‘home’ in the world; someone others have not approved of, but in her defence- “She loved the fiery spark in his eyes, his sense of humour, and their common love for music. And his smile. His smile that showed his good heart. That was reason enough for her.”
The accident in itself is a great loss for her and almost a foreshadowing of the great change that is to come, as we see in the blurb! There is mention of a brother who lifts up her gloomy mood while she is recuperating in the hospital and I cannot help but be eager to know more.
It is June 1994, when “she climbed aboard the spaceship, as she kept calling it, and flew high above and away from Johnny’s game-board piece, wondering if his warm soul was enjoying a similar view.” Yes, that’s how the author had ended the first chapter and it had left me restless.
The journey in one sense is a journey of growth for Carlie- she’s broken and she heals with the help of her “Nirvana Threads” like she fondly calls them. She learns about acceptance and the meaning of selflessness and love, and it was a spiritual journey for me too. The book in its essence is a spiritual journey of a young woman, as she fights after a heart-wrenching loss and her subsequent healing. I myself was very moved with the story and I think that most will be too. I am a spiritual person as well, and that’s why I suppose I could connect with it the way I did. Having said that, I also feel that this book is a miss-or-hit because I feel that while many will love this, there will be a select few who won’t, and that would just mean that some people won’t be able to connect with it.
The plot was very well woven- I especially loved the intense episodes Carlie had- the author has described them beautifully and I was almost in tears during them. The characters were well planned out- I loved Damien! Leo, Hazel, Lucas were also very well planned out. I think that the author has done a great job in exploring the different facets of human life and jotting them down so well on paper. I personally would have loved a sequel to this- I would love to know more about Carlie’s story. The characters were magnificent and tangible and real for me, even though I truly felt that it was more of a plot-driven story.
I rate this a 5/5 stars and wish the author a hearty congratulations for this amazing, touching and beautiful book!

What your soul already knows, Dr Salma Farook, 2018

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I want to begin by saying how very lucky I consider myself to have been sought out by the author to review her book. I think this is perhaps the best motivational book that I have ever come across without being too preachy and boring, but simply mesmerizing.

Like I said before, it is a self-help book, quite a short read and free of jargons so that everyone can understand and I’m sure, relate to it. The author offers various views into the aspects of health – be it physical or mental, finance management, your personal well-being, attitudes to life, etc. The text is written in a very simple and relatable manner, with the help of various anecdotes of the author’s life itself. I enjoyed the way it was written- in a very beautiful and elegant manner.

The size of the book is quite small, running to just under 130 pages; it can be finished being read in one seating. Nonetheless, the content is very powerful. It has a very reflective tone and is at the same time, a powerful reminder for self-belief and is a guide to living life fearlessly. The author has very concisely written about real-world issues that one dabbles with in their daily life. There are also some explicit to-do’s stated in the book that I personally will/have been implementing, of course. Like- the Frugal Experiment, practicing gratitude, Swedish Death Cleaning etc. There are also a few other theories I need to practice more, as I have come to realize after reading WYSAK- to practice gratitude every day, and to learn that progress is better than perfection and also that while money facilitates happiness, it does not brew it.

There are many other wonderful life lessons that I have taken from this book and I surely will love to reread it again and again over the course of the coming years. My only regret is that I do not own a paperback! Keeping on the topic, I would also like to congratulate the author for having published this life-changing book that I’m sure will help a lot of people get through their lives. Definitely a 5 star read for me!

BACK TO SCHOOL: THE BEST GUIDE TO AN AWESOME NEW YEAR!!

Considering the fact that school will be starting soon for me and most of my friends here in India, I thought why not do a back-to-school blog. I realize that school will probably not be opening for a lot of you guys now itself, but when the time comes, you can find this as a proper guide and that will be quite helpful. I hope.

Also, I have a pdf file that is a list and will definitely help you while shopping. I’ll link it here- back to school essentials list

So without further ado, I’d like to now start with the list in question.

Miscellaneous etc.

  1. Lunchbox- Since I’m a foodie, it’s no wonder that I’ve put this first. My lunchbox is a pretty lime green and pink combination. My brother actually got it for his last birthday and since we’ve never even opened the packaging, it’s obviously brand new. It also comes with its own set of a fork and spoon and another small container within in and is thus quite good.
  2. A water bottle- It’s quite common to find drinking water facilities all around campus but I do prefer to have my own source of hydration with me. And even when it’s close to empty, I can always fill it up in those drinking water facilities. The water bottle I bought is a pretty pink one, and I particularly love the shape of it. Also, I got it for 90 rupees INR.
  3. A school bag- This is up to you now, whatever you prefer. Although I would suggest going for quality and durability over the aesthetics. I got myself a tote- it’s very large inside and can even hold my laptop and water bottle. It’s a simple black because I wouldn’t be comfortable with any other bright colors. Also, I got it for 750 rupees INR. I also have a backpack which I got with the previous laptop I bought. It’s huge, has compartments for my laptop separately, as well as for water bottles, books etc.
  4. A purse/wallet- Decide very carefully on this one. Are you someone who prefers to carry just ash along with the student card and keys? Or are you all cards and keys? Depending on that, the size will differ. I would suggest Mimco purses with wristlets. As for me, I got mine on Amazon at 250 rupees INR.
  5. Umbrella- This is for those students who are currently experiencing rains or get too much sunlight. Again, opt for durability over designs. Also, try to get a dark colored one so that the light doesn’t come through. Mine is lavender on the outside but it’s black inside, so there’s no chance of light coming through.

Electronics

  1. Pendrive- You’ll obviously need it.
  2. Power bank!
  3. A hard disk!
  4. An I-pod- In case you commute daily to and fro school in a bus/metro like I do.
  5. Headphone/ear buds- Of course.
  6. Laptop/Tablet
  7. Calculator.

Stationery etc.

  1. Pens- roller balls or gels, whichever you prefer. I personally prefer both at different times. In classes where you need to take fast notes, I’d advise you to take ball pens so it won’t smudge. Also, decide on the colors you want. I always used black (for headings), green (for sub headings and important lines) and blue (for normal text).
  2. Pencils- Mechanical or normal lead ones.
  3. Erasers
  4. Sharpeners
  5. Rulers- try to get a foldable one. It’s space saving.
  6. Highlighters- Some people prefer to have a set of whole colors, others don’t. I prefer the neon green, pink and orange. That’s it for me.
  7. Marker pen- Or Sharpies. For the stuff you might need to write on the surface of those assignment CDs or plastic covers on folders/binders.
  8. Post its/page flags/page markers- You know why.
  9. Cellotape
  10. Cellotape dispenser- Of course you can do without it, but I prefer using a Cellotape on a dispenser. I don’t like searching for the loose ends on them, otherwise.
  11. Scissors- A big one as well as a small one (to put in your pouch).
  12. Page cutter- For the times you can’t use scissors.
  13. Correction tape/gel- I use the gel, simply because I’ve never come across the tape version around here. I’m sure you’ll get them online.
  14. Gum/Glue- I use gums, strictly.
  15. Page clips.
  16. Stapler- and pins.
  17. A Pencil pouch- Decide on the type you would prefer. I bought one simple red one at 50rupees INR and another transparent one at 70 rupees INR. I support the transparent ones always. It saves time as you can see the thing you want and get it immediately without having to search about. Also, prefer to have a pouch that is not too big so that you’ll have to think about what you put in and thus reduce the chances for over-cluttering it.
  18. Geometry Box.
  19. Index cards- Especially if you’re taking a language class. I also used it for Biology (definitions) and Chemistry and Math (formulas).
  20. Copies- This I leave to you. I prefer one notebook per class and not at all being in favor of the multiple-subjects notebook. And I love the Classmate ones. I use both the single lined as well as plain paged ones.
  21. Plain sheets- For printer use. Also, for regular use, if you’re a kind of person who prefers pages instead of whole notebooks.
  22. Folders/stick files- For the loose sheets you might need to take to class on some days.
  23. Plastic folder bags- or the above-mentioned folders. I prefer this.
  24. Display files- For your certificates. Keeps the dust off and helpful when you need them for job/internship interviews.
  25. Binders- Simple ones with a plastic pocket on the front is good. Also, what would you prefer- three rings or four or simply 2?
  26. Page protectors- I used to put one at the first, in a binder, and I put in that subject’s syllabus and thus it was very good. Alternately, you can put in the timetables etc.
  27. Page punching machine- A single one is a must have and another one should be for your pages- the ones you need to put in your binders. Then again, if you have the multiple one, you won’t need a single one!
  28. A planner- This is the one thing I swear by! It doesn’t matter if you are in middle school, or high school or college or even UNI! Get one. There are lots of affordable and cheap ones in the market.
  29. A diary/journal- When you need to relieve yourself of all the frustration and stress, writing them down helps.
  30. A table calendar- I use one. Really helps.
  31. Display board- to be placed in front of your study table where you can put up important to-do’s as well as formulas and the periodic table.
  32. Push pins- If you have a display board, obviously.

Optional stuff.

  1. A few books- For the times you’ll need a break. For most people, I would suggest simple chick-lit stuff, but then again some would prefer books where you need to concentrate a lot. Choose by yourself.
  2. Bookmarks.
  3. Table tray/storage box.
  4. A hand-fan- For when you need to stand in a queue or under the sun while the assembly is on.
  5. A small mirror.
  6. A small hairbrush/comb.
  7. Compact powder- If you get oily.
  8. Tissues!!
  9. Hand sanitizer.
  10. A small pouch

I’ve tried to add all of the things I think a student might need for a back to school shopping session. Please comment if you think I’ve missed something.

Also, follow for more of school related stuff that will soon be coming up.

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