Monday 25 January 2016

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

I spotted this book on the Goodreads Choice Awards page. It has a whooping 1,814,600 ratings and 129,752 reviews as of date, which compelled me to buy and read it! This book is penned by John Green, who resides at Indianapolis and is one of the bestselling authors.

While reading, one gets totally soaked in to the raw, humorous, simple, medical fiction. This is the story of a 16 year old cancer patient Hazel who happens to meet Augustus Waters at a Cancer Kids Support Group. After this her life turns into a wonderful tale. Augustus is himself a 17 year old cancer survivor. Eventually they become good friends and then lovers. The plot is simple, down to earth and practical.

Hearing first of a cancer patient's story one may feel that it must be either too gloomy or full of doses of motivation of those who combat their terminal illness, trying to change the world, etcetera. But it is far simpler and still interesting. Generally, no one even imagines of a situation unless it occurs to them. For instance, I do not have cancer and no one in my close or distant family does. So, it is obvious that I would never ever think of what a cancer patient and his family go through. After reading this book, I got an insight into what they go through.

This book portrays it in a balanced and realistic manner, nothing filmy. The narration is from a teenager Hazel's perspective. Hence, we get to know her interpretations, at times, humorous. The grief of her unfortunate parents who are about to loose their daughter, and the only child at the hands of cancer is very touching. Hazel, Augustus and his friend Isaac are facing some or the other deformities that cancer has imposed upon them. But they compliment each other very well. Also, if one reads between the lines, they would realize the worth of life and good health, and that despite of any other form of agony, they are still bestowed with a gift to cherish- LIFE.

I have listed out a few of my favorite lines from the book below-

1) "Grief does not change you Hazel. It reveals you." - Peter Van Houten (Page #286)
2) "A desert blessing, an ocean curse." (with reference to water)- Augustus Water's letter to Peter Van Houten  (Page #313) 
3) "There is no try. There is only do."- Hazel (Page #218)
4) "...some infinities are bigger than other infinities."- Cassius' note in Shakespeare's composition (Page #111)
5) "I tried to tell myself that it could be worse, that the world was not a wish-granting factory, that I was living with cancer not dying of it, that I mustn't let it kill me before it kills me..."- Hazel (Page #121)
6) "You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have a say in who hurts you."- Augustus Waters' letter to Hazel via Peter Van Houten (Page #313)
7) "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."- Page #111 (Cassius' note in Shakespeare's composition)

I read the second part with slow pace because I didn't want it to end so soon. Moreover, the end seems to be a promising beginning of a sequel. John Green, are you listening to me? You ain't gona behave like Van Houten! Are you?

My rating for this book has to be undoubtedly 4.5 on 5. It is near perfect and a touching tale, a mesmerizing saga of boundless love of two dying teenagers, cushioned by parental affection, laughter, tears, fury, twists, heartache and goosebumps.

(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or 
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book. I am not paid for writing the review.)

If you are an author and want your book to be reviewed, drop an email at

Friday 15 January 2016

कागज़ अपनी क़िस्मत से उड़ता है लेकिन पतंग अपनी काबिलियत से। इसलिए क़िस्मत साथ दे ना दे काबिलियत ज़रूर साथ देती है।

Happy Makar Sankranti :)

Wednesday 13 January 2016

'Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?'
-Ruskin Bond (originally from Thoreau)

Thursday 7 January 2016

Book Review: Love Among The Bookshelves

Ruskin Bond, the 81 year old India born author of British descent. He has spent most of his life in India and still stays in Mussoorie. He is recognized for the growth of Children's literature, and is the recipient of Sahitya Academy and a bunch of other awards.

This introduction of the great writer is highly appealing. Except for whatever of his work I have studied during my school days (which I don't remember much), I have very less knowledge of his books. This was his first book which I read, and which came to me as a December gift (secret Santa, to be precise) :)

I read about this book on goodreads which was embellished with mostly high ratings and good reviews, and had built high expectations from this. I am seriously bewildered after reading the book, and suspect how so many people can call it a good read. I totally understand that he is an eminent writer and a reverable figure but what is so good about reading his "reading adventures"? I mean this book is so shallow. Ruskin Bond has written about how he started reading at a tender age, books he read, how his reading and writing took place in parallel, and how his life went by during all this. On almost every alternate chapter, he has added content extracted from a favorite chapter of any of his favorite book. And many amongst these were penned in archaic English, which is out of my sense of language. The chapters suddenly emerged between Mr. Bond's own life story, and confused me. Strangely, so many pages are left vacant in the middle, and those which are printed, have nearly 25% or more wasted in margins.

 I felt as if Mr. Bond is too old to blog and use internet, and that is why he wrote all of it in a book in a random way, or the publisher just wanted to oblige the renowned author. I am sorry to write all this. May be it was me who couldn't get to the depth he is trying to guide his readers to, generation gap you may say!

Only one good thing about this book is that after knowing his reading adventures, book lovers get inspiration to read and read! He has read close to ten thousand books, a whooping number it is!

I rate it as 2.5 on 5 stars. However, I would love to read some other books of Mr. Bond. He is a real inspiration for readers and writers.

(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or 
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book. I am not paid for writing the review.)

If you are an author and want your book to be reviewed, drop an email at

Monday 4 January 2016

Shallow Hal

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

I just closed VLC player after watching this Hollywood movie called Shallow Hal, and my hands ran on the keyboard to write about it this Sunday. I am hitting the Publish button now!

You may skip this paragraph, if you don't want a lengthy read. However, I insist you continue.

Shallow Hal is a humorous tale of a man called Hal who had fixation to physically attractive woman. Being an average looking guy himself, he didn't succeed in pursuing any lady for a date. When Hal was nine, his Dad's last words on death bed were, 'Son, never ever settle for less.' While Hal was struggling to search his lady, he stumbled upon a a famous life coach whom he was stuck with in an elevator. He motivated Hal about the worth of inner beauty, and not to strive solely for the exteriors. In order to help him overcome his disappointment and shallow-ness, the coach hypnotized him with a spell. Thereafter, every girl Hal came across looked thin, smart and beautiful to him. After a while, he started dating a girl- Rosemary, who apparently was his boss' daughter and was very fat. But due to the coach's trance, he found her extremely beautiful and lean. They fell in love. Later, his worried friend approached the coach and reverted the spell from Hal to prevent any jeopardy to either of the parties. It was now that he could see the "real", "unattractive" Rosemary. It was embarrassing for him initially, and he tried to avoid her. Gradually, he realized the worth of inner beauty, of the caring and affectionate Rosemary and reconciled with her. And then, there's the Happy Ending!

Moral of the story- Not all good things are beautiful, not all beautiful things are good. I know this is meager and has been read and told many times. The definition of real beauty is influenced by what television, magazines, movies and the society keep telling us for years. Why do we not look for beauty inside out? A beautiful face may not last forever, but a beautiful heart shall. On a similar note, I had written about the obsession for being thin and fair, about 2+ years back under the title- Fair is Lovely, Thin is Beautiful.

What appeals to the world's fancies is the exteriors. Agreed. Because as humans you have learnt to judge by what you see. Pragmatically, you tend to get attracted or distracted based on the same. For instance, paradoxically, we delude good looking people to be rude, proud or witty, whereas we assume the ill-favored ones lack confidence or are cunning. This is about first impression. But in the process of knowing someone, let alone your opinion of the physical appearances and look for the true person beneath.

Someone told me long back that when you grow old, your skin may be wrinkled, your hair shall turn white and your appearances may fade. All that lasts forever is the abstract you! Have no reason to be with someone, for if the reason diminishes the togetherness wanes.

Sunday 3 January 2016

A Mirror- Tales of 2015

Shrug your shoulders and close the browser window right away if you are curious to read sad or happy TALES of my life's last year in this post. Read ahead, otherwise :)

Like every other year, 2015 was also bundled with ample of events, learning, peaks and valleys, success and failure, cheers and tears for me. I am listing down 12 of my take-aways, you may assume one per month. Although this does not have real examples or incidences stated along with, but trust me, every nook and cranny of this is entirely real to me.

1) Smile. Happiness is not a sin, sadness is not a virtue. Happiness comes at a cost and sadness comes for free. People in the world have enough problems to deal with. No one likes sad faces either. As my favorite quote from Dale Carnegie is- "It is so, it can't be otherwise." You do not own all the problems in the world.

2) Read as much as you can. Reading is to mind what exercise is to body. Reading a good book is like an entourage to another world that lies amidst the pages of the book. Fiction is a striking means to live all the characters that you couldn't have lived in this one life. I have detailed my thoughts on this in a post- Bibliobibuli yesterday.

3) Never get disheartened. When one door closes other opens, fall seven times stand up eight. You may not always get what you please, but keep going and wait for the magnum opus to come your way.

4) Music heals. Listen to your favorite music each day and soak yourself into the hymns and the lyrics of the symphony.

5) Exercise. You cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself. You cannot make others happy if you aren't happy. You cannot keep others healthy if you aren't in the pink of health. On the same verge, I strongly advocate that one must follow an exercise routine. Watch out the internet for various ways to stay fit- may it be an exercise regime, ergonomics at work, or certain foods to include in your regular diet.

6) Meditate. Spend some time in solitaire every day. Ponder over the day's activities. Meditation has powerful impact on the mind, body and soul as a respite from the stressful routines that we have.

7) Pray. Whatever religion you belong to, whatever be your ethnicity or faith, believe that there is someone who has a greater responsibility of you. And that One will always take care of you. Leave yourself in the God's hands and have faith that all that is happening to you is his will.

8) Accept what you cannot change. I know most people like me have the desire to procure the knowledge of what fate has in it's store for them. But let things happen as they are, go with the flow, for whatever has to happen will happen anyway. Do not attempt to fast forward life to see if your current situation or deeds are worth in the end.

9) Learn from other's mistakes. You do not live long enough to make all mistakes by yourself. Be a good observer, see people around you, talk to them, participate in discussions. You'll always get to learn something from someone or an incident. Be receptive.

10) Friend to all is a friend to none. Have some good buddies in your trunk of acquaintances. It's good to know many people and to be known by all, but keep a few aside whom you can confide in at anytime. The other day, I read a quote on twitter- "Dosto, hansne me to bahut saath nibhaaya tumne, aaj mera mann rone ka hai..." (Friends, you accompanied me well while I was merry, what if today I want to weep.)

11) When you are speaking, you are repeating what you already know. But when you are listening, you are learning something new. Hone your listening skills. Moreover, it is not always mandatory that you win every argument.

12) Use your anger wisely. It can do miracles. Anger impairs our judgement, and foresight. Get motivation from what makes you angry and drive it in the right direction.

I hope that 2016 dawns upon me and everyone in a happy, healthy and successful manner. Keep learning.

Happy New Year :)

I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Book Review: Scion Of Ikshvaku

This is a book from author of the Shiva Trilogy- Amish, and is the first in the Ram Chandra series. 

The cover of this book is appealing, and the plot is promising. The author's way of writing is one of its kind. He picks up godlike characters from Indian mythology, and portrays them as humans- the extra ordinary humans, and their society as rational, real and scientific. I have also read Shiva Trilogy by Amish, and it draws analogy to the way of living and philosophies from that series. I am awed at how beautifully he links the two series by giving a hint that Ram Chandra dreams of a civilization like Meluha, and on the other hand, Shiva Trilogy has various mentions of the way of living inspired by Ram Chandra. He has also connected well the Vayupurtas and Nagas here. 

The characterization is flawless, and the plot contemplates a different philosphy. To most of the people including me, Ramayan is not as interesting as Mahabharata. But Amish has imagined it well, and carved his version out of the epic. We live in the era of remixes, this holds true for Amish's books as well!

Special applause for the section on the gangrape case which drew analogy from the Nirbhaya case, and the punishment which was administered to the perpetrators, esp. the justice delivered to the juvenille. A book covering the contemporary world's vices, providing exemplary solutions, driving the readers' empathy perfectly, and wisely including that as a part of the age old epic like this deserves acclaim.

When we are speaking about Ramayan, it is ceremonial to talk about the prime characters- Sita and Ram. Ram's role is perfectly articulated- the legendary man, the law abiding member of the royal clan of Ikshvaku, jeweled with clarity of thoughts and a loyal, loving husband. Complementing him well, unlike other versions of Ramayan which showcase Sita as the abla-naari (the helpless lady), Amish portrays her as a strong, powerful warrior and a witty lady, who is the Prime Minister at her father's kingdom and later a perfect better half to her husband. 

The original legend shows Ram as the descendant of King Raghu (Raghukul), but this book tells us that it was Ikshvaku who founded the dynasty and hence, he's the Scion of Ikshvaku.
Moreover, Ravana the Demon becomes an exploiting business tycoon. Manthra, the poor maid in Ramayan becomes a powerful merchant. Vishwamitra, the sage, becomes a conspiring sarcastic leader of Malayaputra clan. The continued depiction of various demigods with special features as Naga is interesting. Jatayu becomes a Naga and so would anyone with any resemblance to other animals.

The first half of the book could have been shortened. But the second half was speedy, captivating and well articulated. Even after having read, heard, watched as multiple TV serials and movies through years, I could still discover a lot in this book, because it is believable. 

A few not-so-good things-
1) Roshni is an Urdu word. How could Indians name their daughter with an Urdu name dates back when there was no mark of a Muslim in their vicinity? Also, this character must be imaginary since best to my knowledge, Ram had no Rakhi sister.

2) The use of word Dada for elder brother looked quite perky when it comes to picturesque of Sanskrit speaking society. 

3) Although they do not take the name of Krishna but often mention about Dwarka and the Yadav clan having existed decades back, which is confusing, since it is believed that Ram existed prior to Krishna and that Krishna is the last incarnation of Vishnu as yet.

My expectations from the subsequent books in the series would be -
1) How the story unfolds whence Amish's Sita unleashes her power in front of the demon Raavan (and not the abla-naari awaiting and solely relying on her husband to rescue her)

2) How Amish's Ram Chandra shapes the Meluhan way of living for the "Immortals of Meluha", and I believe this will come when Ram rules the throne of Ayodhya, and in turn, the Sapt Sindhu.

My verdict- It's a simple yet refreshing read for the contemporary generation. I rate it 4 on 5.

This book is special for me because it came as a birthday gift and won me a chance to meet Amish via Flipkart editors (which, unfortunately I could not avail).

(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or 
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book. I am not paid for writing the review.)

If you are an author and want your book to be reviewed, drop an email at

Friday 1 January 2016


Initially, I used to force myself upon books in order to be able to become a better writer. A renowned journalist once told me that to write well, you need to read more and more. In one of the recent talks that I attended of Chetan Bhagat, he gave the same answer to my question on advice for aspiring writers. Another author, Preeti Shenoy replied to the same question to me over twitter, with the same answer.

Reading a good book is like an entourage to another world that lies amidst the pages of the book. With this newly developed addiction, I have turned voracious now. Reading is wonderful. Exemplary. Ecstatic. Pious.

I do not defer with the majority's views who say it is investment wastage of time on reading. Contradictory to this my instincts say paradise would be some kind of library. I have never grown so mature in my entire life as I did in the last few years since I started reading. Then I was literate, now I am educated. One humorous quote on the web stated- Every time you watch a reality show, a book commits suicide.

 Also, as Richard Peck quotes- I read because, one life is not enough. For the same reasons, I read to live all the characters from different periods, places, moods, professions, ethnicity, religions, virtues, lifestyles- all of this I can't live in this one life. While reading, I live in a different body, at a different place, with different people. The more I read, the more I learn and eventually, the more I grow.

To me, books are -
1) Teachers, companions, magicians, an unabridged universe, and nonchalantly- a means to escape from reality.
2) The most loyal friends of mine- they never ditch, they never abandon me, never lie, enrich my very being, and accept me as I am.

For every mortal who hasn't yet realized this, I playfully say, it's better to have your nose in a book than in someone else's business!