The Pregnant King

Devdutt Pattnaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator who has written over 600 articles and 30 books on the areas of myth, religion, mythology and management. He also has a show called “Devlok with Devdutt Pattnaik” on Epic channel. A few of his noteworthy works on the relevance of sacred stories, symbols and rituals in modern times, are Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu MythologyJaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the MahabharataSita: An Illustrated Retelling of the RamayanaBusiness Sutra: An Indian Approach to ManagementShikhandi: And Other Tales they Don’t Tell You. 

The Pregnant King is his first book in fiction. The story revolves around the Turuvasus of Vallabhi. The events take place in parallel with the war of Mahabharata. It is the story of a childless king, Yuvanashva. He worshipped the gods and begged them for a child. One day, an act of cruelty transformed his life forever.

This story is about a man who longs to be addressed as ” a mother ” by his child. “What sounds sweetest, being called Mother or being called Father?” It’s about a princess who is a king at heart and yet can never be respected as one just because she was a woman. It is about Shikhandi who inspite of being a woman was raised as a man. It is about Yaksha who gave up his manhood to help Shikhandi prove to the world that he was man enough. It is about 2 boys, Sumedha and Somvat who later turned to husband and wife under the names, Sumedha and Somvati who were killed just because the society was not able to accept their choices.

The basic idea of the story is not just about how a king fathers a child and rules over his kingdom. The story explores the conflict between desire and social obligations. The concept of gender of a person. What about the flesh? Is it just about the birth and lineage? What about the soul? The imperfection of human condition amd our stubborn refusal to make room for all those in between is what Pattnaik portrays rather beautifully.

“That’s what they were. Vehicles of an idea. Two ideas. No. One idea, two expressions. Two halves of the same idea. Mutually interdependent. Because within you is your soul, Adi-natha as Shiva, silent, observant, still. Around you is matter, Adi-natha as Shakti, ever-changing, enchanting, enlightening, enriching, empowering.”

It is definitely a 5/5 read!

– Mansi Ambalam

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The Godfather by Mario Puzo

It’s a sin to have not read this book. Meet the most just man, reasonable man, a friendly man with the highest of family values ‘The Godfather’. His family is one of the five Mafia families of New York and the most powerful one.

A modern masterpiece, The Godfather is a searing portrayal of the 1940’s criminal underworld.  It is also the intimate story of the Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by its unique position at the core of the American Mafia.  Still shocking forty years after it was first published; this compelling tale of blackmail, murder and family values is a true classic. This masterpiece is read and appeals to all kinds of age group and people from different walks.

The book details the life of Don Corleone and his operations. He has supreme influence and power to get things done his way. Being a man of principles, he respects friendship the most and anybody disloyal to him have to pay the price. The Don isn’t a criminal in his own eyes or his friends, community, workforce and the Italian immigrant community but his own son Michael Corleone keeps distance. Michael Corleone being least interested in the family business went off to join the Army.

The family is at its highest peak and power over the others. But hell breaks down when Don Corleone is shot as he did not accept the Turks’ offer for the drug business. The old man survived the scare. Michael had to take charge of killing the enemy as he was considered the innocent one. He was then sent to Sicily and returned only after three years when proper arrangements were made.

Sonny, the eldest son of Don was killed and hell broke down on the Corleone family. The old man sick and the head dead the powers of the family weakened in the Mafia. It was time for someone competent to take charge and earn the reputation back. Michael Corleone rose like the phoenix and took charge. The rest of the story unfolds as how Michael manages to bring back his father’s empire, to make not as strong but rather stronger than it ever was. He becomes as respected as the Godfather.

The smooth and gripping narration of the book makes you crave for more. The tone of it is perfect as it depicts this dark, moody underworld that is ruled by power rather than democracy and is so intriguing. This book is “an offer you can’t refuse”, if I may say so, in the Don’s word.

-Shivani Shah

 

 

 

Life Is What You Make It

Preeti Shenoy is an author and artist. She believes that life is the biggest teacher. She is an avid blogger whose poetry has also been published. This book is her second published book.

 This novel has a female as the main character whose name is Ankita. She is a teenager with lots of courage and positivity. The story starts with the end of  the school life of Ankita. Exchange of letters between Ankita and Vaibhav is shown in the earlier phase. As the story moves on we come to know that Ankita’s parents are very strict specially in the terms of guys. They don’t allow boys to mingle with her.

The story then moves to Ankita’s college life. Everything seems to be perfect there. Once she met a guy Abhi in an inter-college competition and fell in love with him. They were from the same city and used to hangout with each-other very frequently. The bond between them was getting stronger day-by-day. Then a time came when their college was about to complete and Ankita got admission in a good MBA college in Mumbai and co-incidently her father got transferred to Mumbai. Everything seemed to be perfect but Abhi got admission in Cochin and asked her to stay in Cochin rather then moving out. Ankita was very serious and refused to stay in Cochin and decided to move to Mumbai. Abhi didn’t like it and so killed himself. Ankita was shocked with this step of Abhi but the only choice she had was to move to Mumbai.

Now in Mumbai, Ankita  kept herself busy to overcome Abhi’s memories. She started jogging and discovered her running skills. She did top in her subjects and was a very bright student according to her friends, parents and faculties. One day her parents found all the letters of Vaibhav and Abhi. They got very disappointed with her, scolded her and burnt all the letters. This step of her parents made a very bad impact on her mind, and she got depressed. She started suffering from some mental bipolar disease. Day-by-day her situation was getting worst. Her parents consulted the best doctors for her and ended up with getting her admitted in a sanatorium and there her situations were getting fine.

Initially, you may find this book a typical love story but as the story moves on you find something different. This story is not about love, this story is about determination. It says that you always have so many choices but you have to choose the path which is right for you. This story tells us that only you are responsible for your success as well as for your failure. This story perfectly tells how your determination can defeat your weaknesses. All you have to do is to decide what is good for you and work hard to achieve that. The way Ankita fought with her depression will surely inspire you. The ultimate message is that nothing is too hard to achieve, if you decide to go for it then no one can stop you.

-Dharmik Vasani

Mrs. Funnybones

Hola peeps,

So this time I am not writing a review on this book as ample of them are found on the internet. I am going to let my pen flow and write everything that comes to my mind after reading this book.

Mrs. Funnybones, I feel has followed the mantra of Amazon and written 26 short stories with each having the title from the alphabets A-Z. And has covered everything about life, love, family, children and work.  The book tells the tale of what Indian women face and how they overcome it, thus having a strong whiff of feminism.

Mrs.Funnybones  narrates in the first person and thus gives the feeling of oneness and keeps our feet stuck to the very reality we see and face. Being a girl, I feel I can connect the dots about what has been narrated or what I might go through in the latter stages of my life. The society has been shown in bad light at some point but that’s “okay” as every coin has two sides.

This book never took me away from reality but still kept me entertained throughout. The short stories are so perfectly written entwined with humour and sarcasm made me *drool* over the book.

-Shivani Shah

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American Novelist and Physician. He has published three novels, most notably his 2003 debut The Kite Runner, all of which is at least partially set in Afghanistan and features an Afghan as the protagonist. Following the success of The Kite Runner he retired from medicine to write full-time. All of his novels became bestsellers: The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed. Following the success of The Kite Runner he retired from medicine to write full-time.

The Kite Runner his debut Novel is considered as his best work .It tells the story of Amir and Hassan, the closest of friends, as good as brothers, and also experts in the art of kite flying. The two young boys live in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and this year they are going to try harder than ever to win the local kite-fighting tournament—a popular Afghan’s pastime, and this is Amir’s one hope of winning his father’s love. But just like the kites battling in the sky, war comes to Afghanistan, and the country becomes an extremely dangerous place.

In war, people are often forced to make great sacrifices, and the young Amir himself commits an act of betrayal, towards his best friend Hassan no less, which will haunt him for the rest of his life. Amir and his father are forced to flee Afghanistan for America, and The Kite Runner becomes the story of Amir’s quest for redemption – righting the wrongs he committed all those years ago as a boy in Kabul.

The story is fast-paced and hardly ever dull, and introduced me to a world – the world of Afghan life – which is strange, fascinating and yet oddly familiar all at the same time. Hosseini’s writing finds a great balance between being clear and yet powerful, and not only is the story itself brilliantly constructed, but the book also explores the very art of storytelling. Amir himself becomes a writer, and he reflects on his experiences in the story as though his life itself were a piece of fiction (which of course it is!).

But I think the best bit about the kite runner is its sense of fate and justice, of good overcoming evil in the end, despite all odds. Without giving away the ending, Amir ends up back in Afghanistan and makes a very different set of sacrifices in order to set things straight. The final chapter of the book is perhaps my favourite, and one that I have found moving even when rereading it. The message behind the very ending could be interpreted differently by different readers, but personally I feel that it offers a small sense of hope for both the future of its characters, and perhaps for war-torn Afghanistan as well.

When I rate a book I usually base it upon: the plot, writing style, characters, and how I feel after I finish reading it. When I finished this novel, in my mind I was like: “WOW WHAT A JOURNEY”. I felt as if these people were real and I had been living these events with them. I did not rush through this novel, I read a few pages each night. Maybe that had an effect on how attached I became to the characters. Regardless, even if I read it in one sitting I am 100% sure it would have been just as compelling. I liked the many themes and life lessons that you can take from this novel. It amazes me how one decision you make or don’t make can alter your whole life.

I would like to share few quotes which I liked from book

“For you, a thousand times over”

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…”

“There is only one sin. and that is theft… when you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth.”

“When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”

-Murtuza Sariya

A Bend in the Road

1Another classic by Nicholas Sparks, which I recently read. The book revolves around the life of Miles Ryan, a Deputy Sheriff. His life was all normal and perfect till his school sweetheart Missy died in a hit-and-run accident. He was shattered and so was their child Jonah who was too young to understand what had happened. But the little boy had understood that he will not be seeing his mother again.

Sarah Andrews a second grade teacher who has recently shifted to New Bern after divorcing her husband of 7 years is trying to settle in her new surroundings. She sees Jonah who happens to be in second grade struggling with his subjects and immediately offers to help him after knowing the trauma he has been through. Miles being very supportive also helps her and they start getting comfortable with each other. Even Jonah seems to enjoy Sarah’s company as he is getting the love and affection which he was deprived of.

Miles in the midst of all this has still not forgotten to find the person who killed his wife. Day in and day out he tries to find clues about the murderer and how it might have actually happened. He even lands in soup at times for being too aggressive and using his powers wrongly.

A surprise in the book keeps a sense of mystery going throughout, often leaving the main couple’s love story and allowing us into the mind of the anonymous “bad guy”. Slowly unravelling their story until the shocking big reveal at the end.

Lo and behold, I thought after the big reveal or I may say a bend in the road they may not end up together but let me keep you guys guessing about what happens. And probably this may lead you to read the book with more curiosity than ever. Blimey!

-Shivani Shah

Two by Two

This is Sparks’ twentieth novel.I have previously read some of his books. Needless to say, I had expectations of this book.

The story is about a man, Russell Green. He works with an advertising firm, and has everything going well for him. He has a job, wife, daughter, a house, and a strong family.

Despite the perfect exterior, his marriage to Vivian and his perfect life are starting to crack. Before he knows it, Russ finds himself suddenly without the security of his job or his wife by his side. But what keeps him going is his 6-year-old daughter whom he has to parent and nurture without the help of his wife.

Russ has started his own advertising agency and is trying to handle work with taking care of his daughter. He finally does manage to find his rhythm in this regard. Also, there is the Emily. An ex-girlfriend he cheated on in the past, who also happens to be a single mother whose son is his daughter’s best friend. And not to forget his family had been very supportive to him and always lent a helping hand.

I adore the way Russ’s family has been described. It’s like the one perfect family where everyone loves each other, spend time together on weekends and help whenever needed. There is no bitchiness, no admonishing.

Even though Two by Two starts out primarily about Russ and Vivian, it turns into more of the family’s story towards the end. And how they end supporting each other through tough times.

The book is little slow but there is one thing that keeps you going in the book i.e. how it has been written. Every chapter starts with a little flashback of Russ’s life and how the dots are connected to the situation he is going to face in the near future. The flashbacks show Russ’s childhood, his relationship with his sister, his love life, the birth of his daughter, and so on.

Nicholas Sparks knows how to portray relationships and write beautifully about them. This time he did it in showing Russ with his daughter and the family unit. I wouldn’t say this is much of a romance.

Being a fan of Nicholas Sparks, it takes courage to say that this book is not at par with his earlier novels. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to all you Nicholas Sparks fans out there.

-Shivani Shah

The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad

I’ve always felt that there’s a thick undertone of intellectual snobbery when people praise Twinkle Khanna’s writing. It’s as though they’re surprised that a Bollywood actress can actually string together an interesting thought and correct sentence in English. Khanna, to give her credit, is pretty much the only Bollywood actress who has carved an identity for herself in a field unrelated to the film industry. I, for one, was a great fan of her first few columns in The Times Of India, written as “Mrs FunnyBones”. They were, true to the name, funny, sharp and a welcome change from the usual columns we read by either a celebrity or a non-celebrity.

Let’s get to the first story, about young Lakshmi Prasad – a simple narrative of female empowerment in rural India. It is the story of courage and hope when Lakshmi stands up against the patriarchal practices in society and guides them to look beyond. Noni Appa, in the second story finds love blossoming in her life during her twilight years. The third story of Elisa finds her searching for love over multiple marriages. But the most inspiring of them, is the fictionalized story of the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of low-cost sanitary napkin machines. This Padmashri Awardee and his life have always intrigued me. It was a pleasure to read a story loosely based on his life.

The novelty-seeker in me, however, wanted more. Almost one third of the book is dedicated to the fourth story which is anything but fictional. It generously draws from the real life of Arunachalam Muruganathan, the social entrepreneur who was the sombre crusader of women’s independence and hygiene and made the world’s first low-cost sanitary pad making machine. That his inspiring journey of perseverance needs to be retold is well understood but it doesn’t bode well with the collection’s core theme of fiction. The strong voice of a refreshingly original plot found in the first story, gradually loses steam in the fourth. I wish the author had pushed the envelope and played the magician with a tad more gusto.

-Shivani Shah

 

Dongri to Dubai – An Encyclopedia on Indian Underworld

dongri-to-dubai-reviewDawood Ibrahim Kaskar, world’s most wanted man, is the son of a Mumbai police personnel who was known for his integrity and hard work.
If you search the internet, you’ll find plethora of information on Dawood and the Mumbai underworld. But you hardly get the complete picture of what the underworld is, and how it came into existence. Dongri to Dubai is one book that fills the gap. And it comes from the pen of Hussain Zaidi, a journalist turned author who has authored five other books namely Black FridayMafia Queens of Mumbai,Headley and I, Byculla to Bangkok and Mumbai Avengers.

Social/Historical Context:

The book begins with the period of 1950’s (the early days of Mumbai mafia), and gradually moves on to the era of smugglers like Hazi Mastan & Vardarajan Mudaliar, the menace of the Pathan gang, the short but dreadful span of Manya Surve, and all these stories get interlinked with the making of Dawood Ibrahim – the gangster.
I believe, Dongri to Dubai is an encyclopedia on the Indian underworld.

Writing Style:

After a long time I read a book I didn’t want to put down. Zaidi’s journalist background has greatly influenced the style of the book. Written with eloquence and brevity, I kept on turning the pages till my eyes hurt. No surprise that I finished the book within two days.

I would also like to comment on the way some people have criticized the book. The argument is that Zaidi has written the book on communal lines, i.e., he has portrayed Muslim mafia superior over the Hindu mafia. Here I’ve to say that there’s nothing called a Muslim or a Hindu mafia. A gangster is a gangster, he has no religion. And if only few Hindu gangster’s have been mentioned in the book, it doesn’t imply that Zaidi is biased, rather he has made a point to include only relevant characters.

Each one of us has some expectations with the book at hand and it is highly likely that we may end up disappointed, but it’s also important that we set our expectations right.

My Thoughts:

I found Dongri to Dubai so engrossing that now I want to get back to Indian literature. And I believe that the recent upsurge in Indian publishing industry has brought in some excellent writers. I hope I’m right.

I recommend Dongri to Dubai to everyone, because it is so irresistible!

-Image source : http://theviewspaper.net/dongri-to-dubai-a-review/

-Yash Doshi

The Orange Hangover – Rahul Saini

A train journey and a novel…complete bliss and to top it up was Rahul Saini’s light and chirpy writing style which all of us have loved since his first novel, ‘Those Small Lil Things’ came in the market. Rahul Saini comes with a third novel,  ‘ The Orange Hangover’ which is totally his type, hilarious story telling.

The book revolves around Rishabh and his life. Friendship is the best bond that human share and Rishabh is one such boy for whom friendship is amongst the most important ones and this is realized by his journalist friend Natasha.

The book starts with a mail to Rishabh from his girlfriend, Superna where she states its time to break up. But this book is not another love lad’s story. It is something more than that. While this forms a backdrop to the tale, it is filled with a crime thrill where Rishabh gets suspected for a murder and he sets on a mission to bring himself clear of all this.

He got sick due to dengue and after that he quits his job and came to his hometown with his mother. He joins an architect and soon began to work for a client Mr. Sahota where he bumps into a child labour and begins social work of teaching the under-priviledged kids with the help of his friends, Jhanvi and Mansi. He starts falling for Mansi but things aren’t meant to be sweet always. Superna his Ex-Girlfriend wants to come back and he even gets suspected for Mr. Sahota’s murder.

  • Will Rishabh be able to get Mansi ?
  • Will he come out clear of the murder case ?
  • Has Mr. Sahota been really murdered or there is something else to it ?

This is for you to find out….

There are a few extremely good things about this book that makes it a joyful read, one of them being at page 60 where we get to know about how the title came up, orange being a mixture of two colours red and yellow. The book gives us a lot of messages.

This book is a very fun filled book that is a combo of light fiction with a tinge of murder mystery.

-Mohammed Modi