Book Review : ‘Children of Blood and Bone’, Tomi Adeyemi

The biggest USP of this book, is the universe it is set in – an ‘africanesque’ setting with ‘black’ characters. Fantasy fiction writers have hitherto ignored the very possibility of a ‘non caucasian’ fantasy world, and their only nod of acceptance to racial diversity has been the occasional ‘Parvati-Padma/Cho-chang’ type side character. How refreshing then, that this is a series that is firmly ‘black’!
The writing is fast paced and crisp, and lends additional dramatic flair to a fast paced plot. The entire plot is a matter of less than a month, but nothing feels unnecessarily forced or implausible. The main characters are adolescents, and much of their actions and reactions reflect their age ; something I usually have difficulty digesting are characters who walk, talk, and behave as if they are older than their stated age. The leads here are poignantly pubescent, and they are very relatable, making this a great read for actual YAs.
This is a fantastic debut novel, and I for one am eagerly waiting to read the next book in the series, once it is published later in 2019.

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Book Review : ‘The Last Lecture’, Randy Pausch with Jeffery Zaslow

This is easily the best ‘non fiction’ book I’ve ever read, and some of the best advice I’ll ever get. There is a lot in this that will resonate with readers of all kinds, and it’s a book for all times.
For a book titled ‘The Last Lecture’ because this is pretty much the sum total of the author’s short life, it would have been easy for this book to be filled with proselytising statements and a lot of philosophy. It isn’t.
What it is does reflect though is the immense gratitude that Pausch evidently felt for a life well lived

(however short), and all the people who gave him experiences worthy of reflection and gratitude, even as he faced the eventuality of dying young, right when he had so much to do and look forward to ; there’s not a single ounce of self pity in here either, or complaints, just an overwhelming need to say ‘thank you’, ‘remember me’, and ‘live long and prosper’.
You can choose to read through it at random, or in the usual linear fashion, but this is a book that you must read, and re-read often.

We are not amused

“Set me as a seal upon your heart”, and with that statement, Bishop Michael Curry started a sermon that stood out in a zone of its own, at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. His sermon on ‘Love’ was impassioned, fiery, inspiring. As he spoke, I found myself sitting up just a little straighter, listening more intently than I had thought I would. Then I watched it again. And again.

I found it that powerful. I found it to hold that much meaning. I felt it was that important.

I found myself cringing though, at the reactions of the royals and notables – the grimaces and grins, the pursed up lips, side-eyes, and what nots. Clearly the ‘nabobs’ were amused and struggling to keep a straight face. I couldn’t figure out why.

Talking of love in a world that desperately needs it, demands passion, demands strong expression, demands ‘fire’. There is nothing to be ashamed of, amused about, or cringe over, when a preacher reminds his flock of the need to love – God, your neighbor, each other – and says it with all the impetus that this message deserves. The good Bishop was vociferous, he was bold, he was loud, and he clearly spoke from the heart. In doing so, he took a fairly routine and dull ceremony (for all its Royal connections and glamorous connotations) to an event that will remain memorable to many, beyond the wedded couple and their close friends and family. Harry and Meghan should consider this a gift, one that truly sums up why so many strangers across the globe are truly happy for them – theirs is a love story that inspires immense hope, and this world needs a lot of hope right now!

I think I sound a bit like the Bishop now, but that’s okay because I really felt moved, by the sermon and the reactions, and by the occasion itself and all that it has the potential to be. I wasn’t amused at all, but deeply disturbed – the congregation consisted of people with the power to do so much good, but their reactions simply didn’t match up to the expectations that their status places on their shoulders today.

Anyone can cut a check and support a charity, but to walk through landmines and hold hands with the sick, hug the ugly, and comfort the truly destitute, that rare quality was what set Princess Diana apart. I am reasonably confident that had she been in attendance yesterday, we would have seen her leaning forward, chin in hand, intent in expression and with solemn eyes, truly affected by Bishop Curry’s sermon, not amused by it. She was the ‘People’s Princess’ not because she dressed well and was extremely pretty, but because she was genuine and real, she truly cared and was not afraid to show it.

One might argue that this was a wedding and not the right platform for a sermon such as the one given by Bishop Curry. Sure, but then this should have been kept a private event. The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex are a statement couple by themselves, and televising their wedding live automatically elevated the event from a royal wedding to one that is much greater in meaning and symbolism. If the fact of this marriage and the transatlantic, non traditional elements in the ceremony, are a symbol of sorts, this sermon is the proverbial cherry on the cake.

That there were those who were ‘royally amused’, especially amongst the younger royals, is disquieting and disturbing. I, for one, am not amused.

The complete sermon can be watched here : https://youtu.be/fTMWJU9Nafk

Quick Review : ‘Baaz’, Anuja Chauhan

Oh no! (That’s because she finally broke the mold of ‘happily ever after’).
This book left me speechless and dumbfounded, because I absolutely did not expect such a surprising ending from Anuja Chauhan. Yet, it makes sense, because this is her 5th book in the rom-com genre, and with this masterstroke, she’s managed to avoid being stereotyped.

This is what makes Anuja Chauhan such an interesting author, the language and style remains the same, the plot is always boy meets girl falls in love kitschy, but the setting is always a surprise, and in this case, the end is nothing short of a ‘bomb blast’.
I am going to keep this short, and say that this is a definite read for Anuja Chauhan’s fans, and for anyone who enjoys chick-lit/rom-coms, and plain old cheesy breezy fiction.
Okay, and now to get over this one, I’m going to re-read ‘The Zoya Factor’ again (:-D).

Quick Review : The Twentieth Wife, Indu Sundaresan

I am a wee bit disappointed, because with all the hype around this one, and the fascinating central character it revolves around, I really had very high hopes from this read. Now, this isn’t a bad book, but then this isn’t a ‘Hilary Mantel’ caliber narrative either.
Considering so much information is available about the period of time this book is set in, the historical inaccuracy rankles, especially since the author forgot all those history lessons that are designed rigeur in Indian schools, and decided to turn Hamida Banu into Akbar’s wife (and therefore Salim’s mother) – she wasn’t, she was Akbar’s mother, and hence Salim’s grandmother. Very glaring in its magnitude, especially since the whole ‘Akbar-Jodha’ relationship has been the subject of avid media interest in the last decade ; it was Jodha, who became Maryam uz zamani for the Michael court, after her inter-religious marriage to Akbar, who gave birth to ‘Sheikhu Baba’, as Akbar fondly called his firstborn son Salim.

This book needs good proofreading too, because there are typos that detract from its narrative, which in any case isn’t particularly riveting to start with. I stayed with this one long enough to finish it, and will also read the next in the series, simply because of the fascinating subject – Nur Jahan wielded overt power in an era when women could only manage discreet power through manipulations and machinations. She didn’t just marry an Emperor, she married him despite bringing him nothing tangible – no political alliances, great riches, or even the promise of progeny. Yet, by all accounts she was not only exceptionally beautiful, but also intelligent, with a keenly strategic mind, well read, and witty. She was enough and more for Jahangir and he never married again, nor strayed in his affections for her. Something to think about in today’s world of glass ceilings and short lived relationships.

I do wish Alison Weir or Hilary Mantel, or Alex Rutherford would pick this one up and write their version – even Michelle Moran would breathe some life into a book that often veers into dullness.
If the aim was to write a book that would bring money through TV rights, the author has succeeded there well enough – ‘Siyasat, as it airs, is a rare case of the TV series being better than the book.

Worth a one time read. Not worth wasting shelf space on though, if like me you have limited storage for paperbacks.

Fix yourself! 

​Half the time, we’re so focused on how someone/something else is making us miserable, that we forget that the choice to not feel bad is inherently ours. It is not another’s action that’s causing you pain, but your own reaction. The moment you choose to not react from a point of misery, and decide to stay firmly anchored to equanimity, is when externalities cease to be a major player in your inner state. 

🙏🏼🙌🏼:)Keep the remote control of your life, your happiness, your sense of Being, firmly in your hands! :)🙌🏼🙏🏼