A long Petal of the sea

Publisher – Bloomsbury
Author – Isabel Allende
Length – 336 pages

Genre – Historical Fiction (inspired by real story)

Rating – 5⭐ /5

I would probably never be able to express how much I loved this book and the Deep impact it had on me as a human, in the times of desperate needs human lives becomes the cheapest and by all the accounts,that I have read on wars ,in my mind atleast they never lead to anything good but this book being a war story and with omnipresence of death and sadness is so beautiful, crafted with a very delicate treatment of every aspect of life, love and loss.

Blurb

September 3, 1939, the day of the Spanish exiles’ splendid arrival in Chile, the Second World War broke out in Europe.
Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War, a tragedy that leaves his life – and the fate of his country – forever changed. Together with his sister-in-law, the pianist Roser Bruguera, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile.
When opportunity to seek refuge in Chile arises, they take it, boarding a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda to the promised ‘long petal of sea and wine and snow’ over the seas. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world.

Summary

In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.
Together with two thousand other refugees, they embark on the SS Winnipeg, a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda, to Chile: “the long petal of sea and wine and snow.” As unlikely partners, they embrace exile as the rest of Europe erupts in world war. Starting over on a new continent, their trials are just beginning, and over the course of their lives, they will face trial after trial. But they will also find joy as they patiently await the day when they will be exiles no more. Through it all, their hope of returning to Spain keeps them going. Destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world, Roser and Victor will find that home might have been closer than they thought all along.

My views

As I said in the beginning I loved this book, I cannot express in words how much, if you are going to read only two books this year, make sure this is one of them ( I’m saying two books because I’m an incurable optimist )

Sometimes you read a book and you get so submerged in it, so involved that even after the book is finished the story just stays with you, this is one of those books for me.

Also the more I read about wars the more I realise that they never lead to anything good compared to the loss of innumerable lives and suffering of normal people. Here too the suffering of people is shown with such beauty, it has many grotesque details but it deals with all of them with a lot of grace.

(Minor spoilers may be ahead from here)

I loved the Pablo Neruda quotes at the beginning of every chapter, it also served as a reminder that this book was not just a work of fiction and these things were lives of so many people.

As the Spanish civil war broke, both Dalmau brothers starts to work for their army. Victor works at the medical unit, where he restarts the heart of a fallen soldier becomes a pivotal point in his story and his brother Guillem, a handsome army man. His character has a short but very impactful presence and undoubtedly When his parents take in one of his father’s best piano students, Roser Bruguera, it’s Guillem that she falls in love with, and his death is one of the most heartbreaking points in the story, specially because he had left behind a pregnant Roser.

Victor carefully opened the billfold,which seemed to be about to fall in to pieces. He took out Guillem’s identify card , and a miraculously intact photograph. It was the image of a young girl standing next to a grand piano. Victor Dalmau remained seated for several minutes at the foot of camp bed, unable to speak

Along with half a million fellow Spaniards fleeing Franco, Roser makes it to France, where she’s interned in the Argelès-sur-Mer concentration camp. Separately, Victor, too, is imprisoned in the same camp there, before escaping to track her down in Perpignan, where she and her baby son are sheltering with a Quaker family.

Chilean diplomat and poet Pablo Neruda lobbied to save over 2,000 of the refugees, as many as could fit on a nine-ton cargo ship called the SS Winnipeg, bound for political asylum. Victor and Roser manages to be two of those people on the Winnipeg after getting into a marriage for convenience as the preference was more for immediate relatives. And after a month long journey on the ship they finally reach chille and the next war breaks.

Over the coming decades Victor and Roser go through many challenges, including another exile, this time to Venezuela( like Allende herself)

But before that happens, they have a chance to repay Neruda, hiding him in their home after communism is outlawed and a warrant is issued for his arrest. When the poet moves on to another safe house, Victor realises how “his guest had filled every nook and cranny with his huge presence”

Spanning through decades and generations this is definitely a story worth reading and remembering.

Gandhi’s singing India

Title – Gandhi’s singing India, music and sonic nationalism

Book cover

Publisher – Roli Books
Author – Lakshmi Subramanian
Publication date – 9 Jan 2020
Language – English
length – 240 pages

Blurb –

Here is the first ever and only detailed account of Gandhi and music in India. How politics and music interspersed with each other has been paid scanty, if not any, attention, let alone Gandhi’s role in it. Looking at prayer as politics, singing Gandhi’s India traces Gandhi’s relationship with music and nationalism. Uncovering his writings on music, ashram Bhajan practice, the Vande Mataram debate, Subramanian makes a case for a closer scrutiny of Gandhian oeuvre to map sonic politics in twentieth century India.

About the author –

Authors picture


Lakshmi Subramanian is an Indian historian with a long and distinguished teaching and research career, having taught history in India and elsewhere. Her work in the fields of maritime history and the social history of Indian music is widely recognized. Post her tenure as Professor of History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, she has been researching with the Godrej Archives in Mumbai. Currently, she is Professor at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, BITS Pilani (Goa), and also Associate Member at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Nantes, France.

My views –

Picture from my Instagram of the book

“sound is ubiquitous in the Indian landscape. Almost every public event – political or religious – is accompanied by amplified sounds of one or the other forms of auditory articulation; for instance weddings, blood donation camps , public adresses are invariably accompanied by diverse form of music that, notwithstanding the variations, are distinctly and indentifiably Indian.

This book discovers the answer to the questions – What is it about music and it’s properties that enable it to play a social role? How did music enter public life in modern India ?

Well known historian Lakshmi Subramanian emaculately chalks out Gandhi’s view of music not as a form of entertainment but as a serious, committed a spiritual activity.

By the time Gandhi ji entered active politics there was no doubt in capability of music to evoke mass emotions although being a man of religion he was more drawn towards ‘bhajans’ and they were a part of daily routine in the Sabarmati Ashram. Like Tagore, Gandhi too, found the idea of extreme nationalism unappealing and when he was moved by song and melody, it was either the stirring content or its devotional potential that he valued.

Tagore and Gandhi

In Gandhi jis letter to Rabindranath Tagore ,22 Dec 1945

” I have a suspicion that perhaps there is more of music than warranted by life or I will put the thought in another way. The music of life if in danger of being lost in the music of the voice. Why not the music of the walk , of the march, of every movement, of ours and every activity”

The book also sheds light on the intriguing topic of the salient role music played in political and religious mobilization, not just in Gandhi’s life and his well-know prayer meets at Sabarmati but also the life of a regular Indian.

Picture from Gandhi’s prayer meet

Be it the Hindustani classical music that bought the Hindu pupils and their Islamic Ustaads together or the song ‘Vande matram’ that still gives me goosebumps today, which was translated in many Indian languages during the independence struggle to appeal to the masses and mobilize them towards the independence struggle. Music produced a language that Gandhi could use to speak and convey his ideas of freedom and swaraj.

Gandhi ji addressing the masses

In a public adresses, Ahmedabad, 1926, Gandhi ji said

“To know music is to transfer it to life. The prevalent discord of today is an indication of out sad plight. There can be no swaraj where there is no harmony no music”

The amount of hard-work and research that would have went in to this kind of book is very evident and commendable. I was alittle apprehensive before picking this book up, ( one more book about Gandhi ji) but I would say it’s more about music and the role it played in the time period rather than just a person and I loved that. It makes you think about he role of art forms in he movements be it political or religious and even in he present times we see artist using their platforms to to spread the word and ultimately influencing the masses.

A young lady performing at a fest in support of equal rights for all

If you are into history and / or music this book is a well written, compact yet powerful, & beautifully edited piece of literature that is a must read. Be sure to check it out.

Singing Gandhi’s India is a powerful and beautifully crafted book that looks in to the answer for : why are we truly moved by music?

Gone girl

Author – Gillian Flynn

Language – English

Genre – Thriller

Publisher – Crown Publishing Group

Pages- 432 

Book cover

Blurb

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge . Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

My views –

Pic from my Instagram (follow me there)

The book starts at Amy and Nick’s fiffts wedding anniversary, and read Nick’s narration in real time and Amy’s via her diary that she has kept throughout her relationship with Nick. At the beginning Amy from the diary feels like a nice woman who falls in love with the perfect guy, marries him but as the days progressed she turns into a ignored wife. As the recession hits Amy and Nick both loose their jobs, Amy is kind of a blue blood with a book series dedicated to her from her parents but Nick don’t have that security to fall back to and feels insecure about money. As Nick’s mom gets on her deathbed they move back to his home town to help them also Nick takes money from his wife to start a bar with his sister Margo meanwhile Amy is bored at home mostly. Their relationship also gets abusive and Nick end up hitting her, she provokes him, according to her self. At this point she starts to feel scared of Nick and her diary entries stop.

Nick’s narration felt much sinister to me, in the first chapter he talks about opening his wife’s skull. As we move ahead he starts to feel more and more suspicious. He constantly lie to his sister,ignore his parents and has an affair with one of his students & don’t have any idea of his wife’s pregnancy . But he felt ‘too bad to be true’ and with further narration we do realise that he might actually not be the killer, rather he is just gullible. Amy’s moves him like a pawn to wherever she wanted after her disappearance through her little hint notes and her realise this much later when it was almost too late.

This book was just amazing. And I can’t help but say I have never disliked both main characters as much before, although I had brief deep sympathy for the ‘diary Amy’ TBH but as the book progressed and her psychopathic tendencies started to show up I kind of started feeling scared for Nick and later Desi.

Amy is one of the best literary females I have encountered in a while. Her character is meticulously layered . Readind her account feels like slowly removing some sort of onion peels layers by layers but not knowing what would come out. But even till the last page I couldn’t truly hate her, stay with me here, she is definitely a total psychopath but at some level she is a girl who wanted to be loved and appreciated by everyone.

Bearing the weight of her parents picture perfect marriage and being the inspiration of ‘amazing Amy’, she lives in a constant lie, that is explained so well in the cool girl monologue ( below in italics). She never learn to make real bond, she just keeps on presenting herself as the ‘cool girl’ but when she sees all her brownie points taken away from her, her money, her home ,her NYC life, friends, her husband starts to cheat on her; she starts to turn more and more towards her dark side, although her similar ‘acts’ in the past are shown in the book but this time she takes it too far. I hate her but I also feel she needs help.

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)

Nick is also suffering from the same state, he needs constant approval from people to feel good in his life, he comes back for the aid of his parents but don’t sympathize with them alot, constantly feel insecure because his wife had more money and cheats on her for ‘ make himself feel better’. He is also too gullible for his own good but he somehow manages to mend ways in just the last pages.

A cool collage I found on Pinterest

Also because both the characters are such pretenders in earlier days of their relationship they both did that and their relationship flourish but as time passes by the masks started to melt slowly and Nick became a cheating husband, who didn’t care about his wife, her happiness, his parents or anything else rather that himself and Amy who is vindictive at some extra levels, when finds about her husband’s affair took things up a notch and patiently planned for a full year to stage a full on crime seen, to stage her ‘murder’, fake pregnancy and then ultimately murder Desi only to get away with everything and get things as she wanted.

I don’t like either characters as people, but as characters they are so damn good. They are unreliable, the lie, the cheat and whatnot and this whole thing kept me on the edge the full time. I read this book in two nights I guess and it was worth it, now I’m planning to watch the movie based on the book (heard it’s good)

If you are looking for a good psychological thriller. Look no further.

Diy scented oil candle

Hey guys so recently I posted a Instagram story of a home-made oil candle and I got a ton of messages asking me where do I got it?

I moved the candle away immediately, don’t worry

The answer is I made it myself from just the things lying around my house and it smells amazing and burn for quite sometime. So if you wanna know how to make this, keep reading!

Things we’ll need

Things we need
  • A glass jar (I have recycled an used Keventer’s icecream mason jar)
  • Half pint of oil ( the key is to use a scent free oil )
  • Some flowers / fruits (I used orange peels, you can use whichever fruit or leaves you want)
  • A wick

How to?

  • Lay old newspaper or old cloth to avoid the mess
  • First fix the wick on the base of mason jar
  • Fill the jar with fruits / leaves / flowers of your choice
  • Pour the oil carefully
  • Close the lid and leave the jar for a few hours or overnight
  • Ta-da now burn your beautiful candle

Some points

  • You can use any flowers and fruits you want, even fake ones, just weigh them down with pebbles to keep them away from flames and please do follow basic fire safety and common-sense
  • You can use spices and essential oils too, cinnamon sticks and vanilla essence makes great combo, just mix and match and have fun with the concept
  • I have use sunflower seed oil in mine and didn’t notice any smoke, except when extinguishing
  • After a while the wick would burn away, then you can replace it with another pre-waxed wick.
  • To put down the candle just put on the lid, the floating wick can stay there

Marley and me

Title – Marley’ in Marley and me – life and love with the world’s worst dog

Book cover

Author – John Grogan

Pages – 291

Genre – Memoir

Publisher – HarperCollins &  Hodder & Stoughton (UK)

Publication date – 18.10.2005

Blurb

John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same.

Marley quickly grew into a barreling, ninety-seven-pound streamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women’s undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewelry. Obedience school did no good—Marley was expelled. Neither did the tranquilizers the veterinarian prescribed for him with the admonishment, “Don’t hesitate to use these.”

And yet Marley’s heart was pure. Just as he joyfully refused any limits on his behavior, his love and loyalty were boundless, too. Marley shared the couple’s joy at their first pregnancy, and their heartbreak over the miscarriage. He was there when babies finally arrived and when the screams of a seventeen-year-old stabbing victim pierced the night. Marley shut down a public beach and managed to land a role in a feature-length movie, always winning hearts as he made a mess of things. Through it all, he remained steadfast, a model of devotion, even when his family was at its wit’s end. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms.

My views

(minor spoilers may be ahead from here)

Journalist John Grogan recounts the thirteenth years he spent with his dog ‘Marley’ in Marley and me – life and love with the world’s worst dog.

Marley came to Grogans newly wed life when they decide to start a family, both having fond memories of their childhood dogs, get Marley (a yellow lab) home. The Grogans are amazed by the uncontrollable energy of Marley. He was not your typical well behaved Labrador, as the title suggests he was ‘worst behaved’ so much that once mental illness was suggested

The 2008 movie based on the book starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson

As the Grogans struggle to keep up with Marley, their family continue to grow, and go through their own ups and downs but like all dogs Marley is always there to comfort and welcome them when they come back home be it when they had their miscarriages or finally when their babies came home

Reading the book I laughed and I cried. The moments of Marley behaving badly were so amusing. He is one viking of a dog that crashes and crushes everything that he feels like , drool on guests, stole women’s undergarments, and ate nearly everything from furniture to expensive jewelry.

The Grogans try to get him in an obeidence school from which he is expelled from, they even seek help of a veterinarian, who prescribes anxiolytic meds with the admonishment, “Don’t hesitate to use these” but nothing happens, Marley remained same.

I had tears in my eyes in the part where the mom comes back home after the miscarriage and (now) calm Marley showers her with love and get on her lap. Also the last chapter of Marley’s final moments is so heartbreaking.

Marley’ final moments from the movie

They only problem I had with the book is this is a full family story rather than the dogs story which I expected and I would have to say Grogan was not a very responsible owner with Marley, I mean don’t blame the dog when you get him from a backyard breeder without any research and also leaving behind your about to die dog to go to Disney World, but who am I to say!

With all that said, the book is good, well written beautiful account of a not-so-perfect dog and his family

I have lived with dogs for all my life, as a kid due to nature of my dad’s job we moved alot and in all the new cities I was accompanied by my dog brother, I don’t know what I would have done without him and I really want to dedicate this to my brother snaps, we will meet someday ( wiping tears)

I read this book for my January prompt for the #readingwithmuffy challenge. Also do give me a follow on my Instagram. Love and good vibes – geet

My top ten most anticipated fictions of 2020

Hey guys so here’s a list of ten books that I’m really looking forward to to read in 2020, I’m not lucky enough to be sponsored by anyone and this is just my own option.

American dirt

This highly anticipated novel might be on every list you see online. It is the kind of contemporary fiction that feels very relevant. We keep on hearing stories about America and Mexico and their ‘wall and border issues’ this book is on that theme.

When drug cartels threaten her family, middle-class bookseller Lydia Perez joins the exodus heading north, hoping for safety and salvation in America. A migrant story set in present times, the book is already getting so much attention to it, I’m really looking forward to reading it.

A long petal of the sea

Also featuring migration, this historical fiction have a nonfiction feel to it. Violently uprooted by the Spanish Civil War, a pregnant widow is forced into a marriage of escape as she heads over the ocean to South America. Allende’s story proceeds from actual events and features the famous diplomat and poet Pablo Neruda.

Transcendent Kingdom

Author Yaa Gyasi got so much praise for her celebrated debut novel, Homegoing, this follow up novel is a new story following a family from Ghana as they struggle to adapt to life in small-town Alabama. The ambitious young student Gifty is studying to be a neuroscientist, but her brother has wandered into the American opioid crisis. This novel is definitely on my list.

Rose gold

Do you know about the blancrards story? This has the same feel.

Rose Gold Watts was a terribly sick child. Confined to a wheelchair and susceptible to every illness, she spent much of her childhood in hospitals and surgical centers. It turns out she didn’t have to. Fast-forward five years and Rose’s mom, Patty Watts, has just been released from prison for her unconscionable deceptions. Everyone is surprised when Rose takes her mom in. Not Rose, though. She’s waited a long time for this.

Ballad of the songbirds and snakes (Hunger games 0)

You may recall a modest little series from several years back called The Hunger Games.( Just kidding of course you do) Suzanne Collins returns to panlem this year with a prequel story—tagged as installment zero in the series. Details are being kept in secrecy, no blurb are released anywhere officially but the tea is that the story will begin on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games. I love Hunger games and I’m definitely not going to miss this

Dear Edward

Dear Edward

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in New York headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Also it has illustrations so take my money

The Lost diary of M

The Lost diary of M

In to historical fiction? Fascinated by the Kennedy’s? I’m definitely obsessed with the Kennedy’s, especially JFK

Ended up mysteriously dead an year after JFK, bohemian Georgetown socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer— a secret lover of JFK, ex-wife of a CIA chief, sexual adventurer, LSD explorer and early feminist living by her own rules. She had a secret diary which is found now, so here for the tea (& book of course)

Things in jars

Things in jars

Set in Victorian London, Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child who is reputed to have some supernatural powers. Gothic style mystery, sign me up.

Anxious People

Anxious People – a novel

A bank robber on the run locks himself in with an over-enthusiastic estate agent, two bitter IKEA-addicts, a pregnant woman, a suicidal multi-millionaire and a rabbit. In the end the robber gives up and lets everyone go, but when the police storm the apartment, strangely it’s completely empty.

In a series of dysfunctional testimonies after the event, the witnesses all tell their version of what really happened and it’s clear we have a classic locked-room mystery on our hands: How did the robber manage to escape?

The forgotten home child

The Forgotten Home Child

Inspired by true events,

1936

Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.

2018

At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago.

If you read the whole thing,thank you so much. Also please do follow,it would mean the absolute world to me,lots of love and have a good day

Deadly Shadows

Publisher – Bloomsbury India
Genre – Action-Thriller in Fiction
Author – Rajinder Prabhakar
Pages – 308

The cover of the book

Blurb

When a series of deadly attacks carried out by a mysterious weapon strike remote parts of India, it takes the country to the edge of panic and chaos. To make matters worse, the government and its intelligence agencies fear that these attacks are building to something truly catastrophic – a final strike that would bring India to its knees and spell the end of its sovereignty.


As the clock runs down, Adit Ohri, an elite operative of the 53 SAG, a strike force buried deep inside the nation’s military infrastructure, is assigned to chase down a lead from his past and find those behind the attacks. But even as the needle of suspicion points towards India’s traditional enemies, the mission leads Adit on a trail of smoke screens and deceit, until he finds the final shocking truth.

My views

I could genuinely see this story as a ‘Uri’ styled Bollywood movie. The plot is filled with adventures, twist and turns. Good looking and righteous leads and Army setting. If you have loved ‘Calling Sehmat’ , this book might be right into your alley.

(Minor spoilers may be ahead from this point )

Adit Ohri is a yound army officer, who lost his father in the Kargil war, and is a divorcé. An army officer with exceptional track record in the NDA and army and now works for RAW.

Second major character is Alia, a smart IIT, MIT pass out helping with technical support on the mission.
I loved the character of Alia,may be even more than that of Adit’s. She shows a wonderful character arc, literally an arc from hot to weak to bad and it was nice to see a female villian,for a change.

The story setting is a series of deadly attacks fall upon remote sites of the country,and they completely wipe out the population,like nobody and nothing was ever there and the government in unable to know how and what happened. So they plan to show this situation as ‘relocation/migration’ to avoid the chaos the situation may cause & meanwhile form a team with the mission to figure out what has happened and how to stop it.

As the story moves forward the characters and readers both realise that this is not just a minor attack and it could lead to a serious catastrophe. Was this an inside job? Or some outside terrorist organisation?

I must say that the story kept me hooked and guessing till the end, and it’s a very interested plot but the problem is the book was a little ‘hat on hat’, when you add many bright things together, none of them get the chance to shine property, this was the case here

If you could read the ( lines in bracket) you’d know what I mean

Because the plot is so interesting and powerful, additional glamourous details like the car models and how hot a woman was looking don’t do anything other than watering down the strong story line. But I think many people would appreciate such details that’s why we keep on seeing them in works of so many authors.

Overall I enjoyed the book

Also I would like to thank Bloomsbury India for providing me with the of this book.

You can buy it at – Deadly Shadows https://www.amazon.in/dp/9389165075/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_fkTiEbSFTB3BD

The big book box October’s box Haul / Unboxing

Hey guys so I know the subscription boxes are all the rage nowadays but I’m a cheap person, also I’m scared of affluenza. I work really hard for my money like everyone but I don’t wanna spend it but I can spend it on books and plants and food may be! So I’m late to the book box party but now I’m here so let’s get started.

I ordered this October box from @tbb_box garage sale that happened recently and let’s see what and how was the stuff in the box

The best picture I could click with all the stuff

Don’t wanna read the whole thing? Just watch this Little video.

Video of the Haul

So I ordered the expresso box, which is the mid-range box from the four choices the brand offers, the contents according to the website ( thebigbookbox.com ) page are –

  • BoTM (Book of the Month) Paperback
  • Hardcover Book 1
  • Bookmark and Printable stuff.
  • 4-7 exclusive bookish merchandises.

So for this box of mine, the BoTM was Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahaurin, which is a very talked about fantasy novel of 2019, the book came in pretty good shape, The book also comes with a beautiful author letter

Hardcover was Jay Kristoff’s ,it’s the third book in the Never night chronicles series and lived by many, I have not read the series but I might start it now ( after buying the first 2 books. This book also comes with an author letter that I would cherish always.

Coming to the goodies

  • Enamel pins – it had very nice quality enamel pins, these were my favourite item from the Box
  • Pop socket – I started using this pop socket and it’s very cute
  • Scarf – This has an amazing fabric but the print kind of puts me off,but useful for the winters
  • Bookend – This is again a very pretty and useful item, it’s Alice in Wonderland themed, it’s one side of the book end though,the other part is in the November box ( I have also ordered that one)
  • Bookmarks – The box has bookmarks based of the books and theme of the box, it had a pair of magnetic and one usual bookmarks,I loved the the usual one more, it’s based on the Serpent & Dove, and gold lettering on it looks amazing.
  • Character Cards – A pair of character Cards,also based on two main characters of BoTM
  • A small notepad from paperquirks
  • Pride and Prejudice themed poster – This was slightly torn, I don’t know if I received a damaged piece or it got damaged in shipping but I still loved it, because it’s pride and prejudice and I love the book.
Goodies
The scarf based on marauders map
The book end

My over-all experience ? I liked it, I’m not a total die hard fan,and also I’m a cheap person, who spends very carefully, so I’ll be honest with you it was worth the price.

You could say that I might find the books for some lower price on a Flipkart sale ? Maybe ! I’m not betting you on that. But I loved the whole concept of the box, I would never buy these goodies seperately, I don’t know where to find them, when I get them they are too expensive, so the over-all package you get is surely worth the price. Things are of good quality, useful things, because I have pretty stuff that’s not useful, I’m a minimalist and I don’t like hoarding useless stuff.

Also I have ordered the mocha edition of the November box,which is shipped,so it might reach me soon, and it’s the most expensive option on the shop, so stay tuned for that, I would do a post on it too.

Have you been subscribed to any Book Boxes? Do share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments.

Sending you lots of love – Geet

Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Series – Orïsha triology, book ii

Author – Tomi Adeyemi

Publisher – Panmacmillan

Genre – Fantasy

Look at the beautiful cover

Blurb-
After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

My views –

I loved the first book, children of blood and bones. It was one of my favourite books of 2018 and I stand by my choice. I was eagerly waiting for the second book,but I felt i was suffering from ‘ sequel syndrome’

So far even with the ritual gone wrong, Zelié manages to bring the magic back not only to the Magi but also to the nobles.

Now a new stronger ‘titans’ are posing a threat to magis and they don’t even need the incantations like magis to ‘activate’ their powers & Even though the nobles were earlier all about removing the magic from the kingdom, now are more than happy to use it themselves against the Magi.

Both the sides are filled with rage and hatred towards each other and seems like they will stop at nothing,to get Orïsha and now with the new magical power, it’s all too dangerous.

I loved how much the characters of Amari, Inan and Zelié has grown. They are trying to fit-in in their new found ‘adult roles’.

Inan( yes !! he is alive) and his mother has declared him the king,he is trying to keep up the promise he made to Zelié but the snowball effect of hatred and misunderstandings keeps on bringing out the worst.

Amari and Zelié on the other hand are now stuck up with the guilt to making things worse for Orïsha. They both want to fix things they broke but choose very different paths.

“My name is Amari Asiwaju,” I declare to my reflection in the cracked mirror. “Daughter of King Saran. Sister to the late crown prince.”

Amari before claiming the throne

Amari has grown into this strong queen who is willing to bring peace to Orïsha and Zelié has taken a bit of backseat now,Though I’m very happy that they continued with their amazing sisterhood goals equations and keep on standing for each other. But do we really needed a monarch/noble to save the magis in Orïsha? I thought the whole point of the series was that the magis have been wronged by the monarchs for years and now they rise.

They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us.Now we rise.

Quote from the book cover

Also as now being responsible for their sides they cannot just take any decisions, it’s not only their lives at stake now but their whole clans so there is a lot of politics and advisors involved and I genuinely enjoyed it.

The writing is same the magical style of Tomi and I love it,I love the cultural references. It has the similar writing style of different POV from that slowly converge together to form the storyline. Some half-baked romances are present but don’t get alot of time.

Some pointers –
No, you can’t read and get with this book if you haven’t read the first one, infact even if you have read the first book when it came out,may be dust your memory of it alittle.

My final words

There was so much build up in this book and also carry forward from the first one but the payoff was not satisfactory for me, May be I care too much about this book, but I do because I love this series soo much and I hoped for a better book.

Have you read this book or plan to pick this up soon? Do share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Book – Permanent Record

Author – Edward Snowden

Genre – Non-fiction

Publisher – Panmacmillan

A paperback copy at CCD

Edward Snowden is one of the most interesting people of our generation and the reason why I put tape on the camera of my computer.

He was born a decade before me across the globe in America, but I could relate to so many moments of his life, when the first computer came home, the era of Mario, Pacman and endless video-game sessions and spending endless nights on the internet searching all the questions that came to my mind, all the questions that I was too scared to ask to anyone else but my new friend internet was there for me, answering all my questions at anytime I wanted.

“Throughout all thirty-two levels, Mario exists in front of what in gaming parlance is called “an invisible wall,” which doesn’t allow him to go backward. There is no turning back, only going forward—for Mario and Luigi, for me, and for you.” – except from the book.

I felt it when Snowden said ‘raised by the internet’ because in a way I also am and I also felt it when talked about how scary our old friend internet has become now, from privacy breeches to online bullying. This generation saw the boundaries between real and the virtual world slowly diffuse together.

People either think he is a hero or a traitor, whichever side are you on I’m not here to convince you otherwise because honestly I don’t know. But I know that he wrote a book that came out in fall 2019, and as soon I knew about it, I had to read it.

So coming to he book, it has a very minimalist design,that I really like. It is divided in three parts, which is more or less about his life before he worked for the American government,during his time there and whistleblowing and exile respectively.

I loved the part one, it was filled with memories of videogames that I loved growing up, Snowden grew up in America a decade before I grew up in India, but I felt so many similarities between the times, the first computer coming home, videogames, using the internet till late night, ofcourse I was not at all as cool as he was but I was very emotionally invested in his story.

you aren’t really an adult until you bury a parent or become one yourself. But what no one ever mentions is that for kids of a certain age, divorce is like both of those happening simultaneously” –
Edward Snowden, Permanent Record

The part where he talks about his parents seperating and his sister moving out to collage, his untimely exit from the military and how he met his future wife are mostly covered here. And I loved this part, read it on a bus journey of around two hours.

The second part is how he started in the CIA and things he leaned there, also his postings in Geneva (which he didn’t wanted, common man it’s Switzerland) and Tokyo, which he spends mostly working, ofcourse he was a spy not a travel blogger, also he explain aton of technicalities of how internet and stuff like that works,and he uses the best analogies,that even me, the last person possible,got some knowledge out of it.

Especially the TOR /the Onion router. Also at this point he slowly starts to doubt his side and the intentions of the agency he is working for and the very internet that he believed ‘raised him’.

“The Internet I’d grown up with, the Internet that had raised me, was disappearing. And with it, so was my youth. The very act of going online, which had once seemed like a marvelous adventure, now seemed like a fraught ordeal.

And around this time, all this stress started to manifest as physical symptoms too

“I felt defeated. The two great institutions of my life had been betrayed and are betraying me : my country and the internet. And now my body was following the suit. My brain had ,quite literally, short-circuited”

The third part starts with Edward and Lindsay moving to Hawaii,in hopes that the better climate and lesser work burden would help with Edward’s health.

Lindsay and Edward
Pc – Lindsay’s Instagram

But as we move forward the inner turmoil inside the authors mind just become bigger and bigger, and there are details of how he managed to get the data of the NSA’s system ( I would suggest reading the book for it) and the rest is history.

But the part that hit me the most was Edward Snowden was so young when all this happened,he had a high paying job, nice house,love of his life and everything most people dream of, and whichever side you take, you’ll have to acknowledge that he burned down everything for a cause he believes in and that’s what makes him and this book so interesting.

Snowden giving an interview to Trevor Noah for his book from an undisclosed location

Also I loved how understanding Lindsay is,she had to go through a ton of stuff when the whole thing came out and I’m so happy that they are now married.

If you like informative non-fiction books, definitely read this, you don’t need to be interested in technology. And if you end up reading it,or have red it already do share you thoughts with me in the comments.

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