Saturday, 6 July 2019

Book Review #123 : 'Til Health Do Us Part

In this well-crafted memoir, author Rooney chronicles her journey towards holistic wellness as she healed from a host of debilitating diseases and her family falling apart.

She introduces readers to her past through flashbacks—physical and sexual abuse as a child, her joyful marriage disintegrating as her husband’s career progressed, and dozens of doctors piling on diagnoses and medications. In 2010, Rooney’s life took a life-altering turn when she moved to Hawaii and met Xavier, a shrewd, composed Eastern healer who guided her towards health with constant probing. Xavier’s enduring patience with her fuels her sense of humor which allows her to express her true feelings. With his help, she thrived and separated herself from the toxic environment of her family, established a healthy diet, and learned to nurture herself. But the biggest hurdle was weaning herself from the heavy medications she had become dependent on for years. As she made monumental strides to improve physically, she also engaged in the grueling emotional work of overcoming the pattern of self-destruction rooted in an inability to love herself. 

The author takes you through her personal transformation, kicking & screaming, as she experiences her awakening realizing that her choices are creating her reality. This book is a soul’s journey, a spiritual story, told by a woman as she discovers that the body, mind & breath are all connected. She comes to realize that her emotional state of consciousness is creating her physical challenges. Xavier helps her to connect with that inner voice which becomes the pivotal trigger that propels her forward with confidence in knowing she has established her connection to her essence. 

Rooney’s writing style is genuine and engaging; short chapters keep the pace lively. The chapters usually ended with a statement that enticed me to keep reading. The narrative weaves seamlessly between what is she experiences in Hawaii, her childhood and young adult years, and the years during which her diseases progress. Not even a physician can fix a person if they're not willing to participate in their own healing. She captures Xavier’s advice in memorable stories and phrases, like his observation that in healing, “there’s a point…where you stop swimming away from something and begin to swim towards something.”

Julie’s honest reflection & relationship with her emotional state of mind throughout the process of healing radiated with so much honesty. You can feel her sorrow when she realizes that she needs to listen to & depend on her own intuitive voice in order to go forward & be truly healthy and happy. I'm inspired and uplifted, and the writing, injected with humor and passion, makes this book worth sharing with anyone I know! Her total healing is raw and remarkable. Quite the courageous lady. 

Verdict : An astonishing yet plausible story of recovery told with authenticity and a healthy dose of humor. Would recommend this book to anyone really wanting to understand what true health is all about.

Rating : 5/5

P.S : This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Book Review #122 : A Man From Mandu

Title - A Man From Mandu
Author - Manoj V. Jain
Genre - Fiction
Publisher - Notion Press
ISBN - 978-1-64587-162-0

This is the third book of Manoj V. Jain that I have read apart from Dystopia & THC.

Wondered how Dhongi babas would picture in this digital era? ‘A Man from Mandu’ is a book of deception, transformation and growth.

We have seen gurus promoting their brand of spiritual wisdom or flooding our timelines and WhatsApp with spiritual messages. Author Manoj Jain picks up on this trend to spin a never-told-before tale about a 'sadhu of stories' in this novel. 

The story is told through the perspective of Tarini who needs a 'project' to revive her corporate career. She uses her marketing skills to create Brand Avishkar Baba! But who exactly is Avishkar Baba and what is his game? Is he a conman, a storyteller or the real deal - a true spiritual leader? And what will happen to Tarini? The story takes you on a ride as to how one becomes a Godman, what are the pros and cons of becoming one, how is the branding done and so on and so forth.

The author reveals the story through the Baba's sermons - which are told in the form of short stories. Each of these stories is engaging and has got a message in itself which makes it stand apart from others. Moreover all these short stories are different from each other in terms of concept. These would also make it a perfect bed time stories for kids; none of them are boring, pretentious or half-baked. Those are the stories you would want to re-read to decipher more positives from it.

Talking about the writing style and storyline, it is simply beautiful and gripping. There is wisdom lying all over the pages in Manoj’s books. He is one among the few authors who has always given a different subject rather than sticking on to a single genre. Both the lead characters, Tarini, and Dhawal a.k.a. Avishkar Baba have been well-crafted.

What I liked the most about the story was the characterization and the sequence of events are so perfectly woven that you don’t feel isolated with the story and narration even once. Each chapter begins with a quote from none other than Avishkar Baba himself. After completing the book, I read those quotes again and I must say, some of them really brought changes in me.

The climax of the book is so nicely closed that I was just getting emotional yet happy to have read such a book which leaves you with so many questions and answers at the same time. The author has embedded philosophy, spirituality, love and struggles- all into this small story of 170 pages and the amount of beautiful moments and messages it gives you throughout stay with you forever!

The best part is, there is no space for unwanted text in the book. It's full of twists and turns and once you start reading you won't realize when you completed it, it's definitely that gripping.

The book is light, innovatively written and extremely entertaining! Definitely recommended!

P.S: This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

RATINGS : 4.75/5

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Book Review #121 : Calling Sehmat

Calling Sehmat was published a while ago, it has served as the plot for the Alia Bhatt starrer – Raazi. I'll be honest here. I only heard about this book when I went to watch Raazi - the Bollywood make of this book. I had loved Raazi. The hardships she had to face in order to save her nation were well, hard. All that she did for the country was impeccable.

Sikka spends the first few chapters establishing that Sehmat is a vehemently patriotic woman. The story is excellent – and being based on a real story of a young lady who takes huge risks for her country, it is also inspiring.

The story unfolds with the love story of Sehmat’s parents – Tej and Hidayat Khan. Tej visits Kashmir and is charmed by Hidayat. The story then picks up when Sehmat is in college and very gifted. Hidayat as part of his trade connections has contacts in Pakistan, and supplies crucial information to Indian Intelligence. He falls greviously ill, at the time when tensions between India and Pakistan are rising in 1971. The situation in East Pakistan is grim and troublesome for Pakistan, and they are keen to launch a pre-emptive attack on India. Hidayat comes to conclusion that there is no alternative except for Sehmat to take his place. 

Sehmat has to sacrifice her love for Abhinav and instead marry Iqbal, son of an influential officer in the Pakistani armed forces. She runs into a number of stressful situations but emerges as a splendid source of information for Indian Intelligence. 

The book adds more context to the college life of Sehmat, her love life, her hopes, as also what happens after she completes her assignment, as compared to the movie.

The story speaks for itself. Sehmat and her quest will draw you right into the pages of the book. Calling Sehmat is a poignant tale, of a girl with two contrasting sides- sensitive and passionate as well as heroic and ruthless.

Patriotic. Brave. Epic. Recommended!

Rating - 4.5/5

Book Review #120 : Dare Eat That

Title - Dare Eat That
Author - Divya Anand
Genre - Non-Fiction
Publisher - Penguin Random House India
ISBN - 978-0-143-44466-4

The cover page and content of this book are unique. A couple Divya & Vivek take us through a surreal journey of the food chain where Vivek has relished eating most of the living things which are classified under :

Invertebrates which is sub classified into Mollusc, Echinoderms, Coelenterates and Arthropods and Vertebrates which is sub classified into Pisces, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.

Each chapter's title is interesting and intriguing in its own way. The experience was classified into Taste and Fear Factor which give you a fair idea as to where those food items stand at. The book has pictorial representation - both in B&W and color. It has also included few recipes at the end of the chapter.

The book has covered the couple's journey in Americas, India, U.K, Luxembourg, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia presenting us with different cuisines and delicacies from around the world. This book is a genuine journal of wanderlust - through the lens of a foodie. It is a good collection of the world's most daring dishes. The narrative is extremely refreshing with easy to read language.

You may go ewwwww while reading about some of them, it has stuff you never in your wildest dreams would've thought anybody ever eats! The book has got generous amounts of humour, some very Masterchef like descriptions and observations and also makes you look at travel from a very interesting POV.

If you like travel OR food OR humour then you will love this book. The book while being interesting and funny is educative without being in your face.

Verdict : If you are a foodie and a globetrotter and is always in the lookout for something adventurous, unique and strange, do not miss reading this book. It is a quintessential read as it gives you a fair idea as to what to look out for in the above mentioned places. But keep in mind that it definitely is an adventure and it isn't for those with a faint heart or a weak stomach!

Rating : 4/5

Monday, 1 April 2019

Book Review #119 : The Light Catcher

Title - The Light Catcher
Author - Sameer Chopra
Genre - Fiction

The Light Catcher is a story of a young artist called Purab who, in search of a comfortable life, enters the competitive corporate world. He is constantly pushed to fulfil targets.  The story points out the stark reality of what happens in the so called corporate world which is full of favouritism and treachery. Amongst all this confusion he finds solace in photography and the company of Rati, his co-worker, who herself is pulled towards the glamour of this world.

I was attracted to the jacket of the book that tries to illuminate several themes that are addressed in the book. It shows a great city with skyscrapers staying awake all the night, the protagonist standing alone and observing the city with a camera in his hand in a hope to get famous and mark his existence in the maximum city. The title has a deeper meaning itself (which you come to know of later in the story)!

With an easy narration, Sameer Chopra deals with the themes of self-discovery and following one’s passion while recounting the struggles one undergoes to survive in any industry.

The author recounts situations with so much detail that a corporate worker will definitely be able to relate to. Purab’s dedication and belief on his work to the extent of disregarding authority or dominant social norms set a strong statement throughout the book.  The plot was entertaining as we follow Purab and Rati taking decisions and facing their consequences.

I liked the author’s writing style as he solidly described a typical 9 to 5 job system. I am glad author kept the whole thing crude and practical rather than showing unreal and overnight success kind of a fairy-tale. The details of photography are also mentioned in a way that non-photographers will also enjoy how a photographer has to get into details before clicking a picture of yours.

Overall, a realistic and well written contemporary fiction that is based on the mad rush and competitive environment of the corporate world. The characters are so nicely elaborated that you understand the pain and confusion of each one of them. Specially, the protagonist, Purab, becomes a part of yourself as the way his thoughts and approaches are discussed makes you relate yourself with him after every 2-5 pages. Purab’s character may inspire, irrespective of all the hurdles one has to cross or even putting at stake everything one owns, to create new possibilities and follow one’s passion.

Great narration and splendid sequence of events explained vividly in this novel. This novel is about a story of the protagonist who wanted to pursue his dreams - dreams of catching the light. 

If any reader is interested in the genre of Corporate Drama, then she/he can definitely check the book out. In short, the book is engaging, riveting and keeps the readers glued to turn every page until the story ends. This book despite of being a debut novel by the author has got all the elements in place!

Rating : 4.5/5

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Book Review #118 : How I survive: Vizmom

How I survive: Vizmom is a common-sense guide to managing everyday stress. As I started reading the book, I realized that the author had put a lot of thought into her own life experiences. 

The cover is very mesmerizing to look at. It has a philosophical and soothing feeling to it, which suits the genre of the book perfectly.

The anecdotes and stories from which the lessons are drawn are very inspiring. The language is very simple to understand. It is written with a first person narrative which makes it easy for the readers to connect.

The basic ideology behind this book is to ensure that none of the working women feel that she has been left alone or she has to carry all the burden over her shoulder.  The book is a real interesting read since each of the 77 chapters does not stretch beyond 3 pages. The content is given in short and crisp manner which makes it really appealing.

The book is a non fiction account of a working mother who is a doctor and a responsible mother. It outlines various effective measures for issues faced by working mothers who constantly juggle their life between home and workplace. A lot of patience, compromise and sensible thinking are required to cope with the stress that comes along with this role.

The chapters highlight the power of positivity, gratitude, creativity, forgiveness, humility, meditation and various aspects which are essential for a stress free and peaceful life. Dr Vidhu Bhatnagar successfully draws parallels between the positive and negative outlook towards life and how the former can aid in turning every odd in your favour!

According to the author, the key to mental happiness is having a healthy response to stress and not avoiding it. The arguments presented are lightweight and reasonable at the same time. 

However, the book does come with certain drawbacks. There are several grammatical errors and that might make the otherwise simple dialogues ambiguous. Even the title is incorrectly punctuated.

Verdict — Overall, this book is more than just being a self-help book. It has the calibre to enable the readers to become stronger- emotionally and spiritually. A light read, indeed! A must read for all parents.

Rating – 3.8 / 5

Thursday, 21 February 2019

I Love You — Now Change Yourself For Me

What happens when you try and change the person you love? They love you back a little less? No, well that doesn’t happen directly. Essentially, the person you claim to love, starts loving himself/herself lesser. And I strongly believe, you cannot serve from an empty vessel. If they don’t love themselves enough, they cannot love you enough, as well.

When you change the way they look or dress, or for that matter take away who they are- by not being accepting of their passion, they no longer remain the person you fell in the first place for. Some people change others for the need of everything being a “certain way” they want things to be.

You shouldn’t feel pressured to drop all of your interests. That is not a sign of a healthy relationship. If you have a strong sense of how you like to look, then by all means, don’t change. If you're happy with how you dress, and it feels like an honest reflection of your personality and your wardrobe makes you feel in Beast Mode every day, then definitely don't let them tell you to change your appearance to suit their preferences. But if you end up changing how you dress, in a way that feels negative, you will hate yourself for it, if not immediately, but surely later.

This is a conscious rethink we need to develop our minds into, that changing someone unless it is a really bad habit - that affects their health, is not cool. This too should not be a command/demand, but a healthy request.

Real love is not asking someone to change himself/herself for you. I believe people change, and sometimes, people change for people, sadly. Which sucks. We humans, have this amazingly illusional habit of “fixing” others. The thinking here is if he/she loved you enough, they would perhaps change. It is intoxicating. Trying to change your partner interferes with your ability to practice forgiveness. When you try to change them, you are always looking for flaws.

You’ll be inclined to bend on many things that are a part of your personality, if you really, really love the person — but , but, it’s a bad idea to do so, all the time.

Don’t resort to fixing or changing someone. That will only create resistance in relationships. Let love change you for better, not your loved one. And even when required, compromises and adjustments shouldn’t just be one ended. Remember, there is nothing wrong with you and there is nothing you are doing wrong. You are worthy of feeling peace and being accepted just the way you are. You are enough exactly as you are.

Nothing you say, nothing you do and nothing you wish for is going to motivate another person to make long-term change if they do not internalize the need for it. You should change, not because you’re being asked or because someone else thinks it’s good for the relationship, but because you, inside yourself, wish to be different.

Love someone where they are, not where you want them to be. It is very basic to show respect for the other person’s autonomy. Relationships are based on compromise because, despite rom-com fantasies, there is no such thing as a “perfect fit” between people. There are some “almost-there” fits and “pretty close” fits, but you’re never going to find someone who just so happens to conform exactly to the life you’ve established as a single person.

You should never let yourself believe things like, “If only I were different, this person would love me more.” That line of thinking is destructive; your partner should love you for your core self , your soul and your essence.

Love is not a power play, not roles and dynamics and shoes you must fill. You don’t need to become something better just to have someone’s affection, even if the other person’s intentions are pure. If the changes are insignificant or reasonable, it is acceptable. But you can’t make someone change for your reasons, or even the right reasons—an individual changes because he or she wants to. For themselves. Not for you.

All in all, it’s a wonderful thing to learn from a lover. If they can introduce you to new ideas, concepts, and experiences, your relationship will be all the richer. But don’t let it take over and influence what you have been, before they even entered your life. Don’t betray who you are. You need to be open to small changes for one another, but you cannot have a personality transplant, all of a sudden.

Imperfect, raw, and real. Proud being that way.