Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Flawed Good Man by Sanskriti Singh (Book Review: 4.25*/5) !!!

3rd Book of 2021

As I had said in one of my previous year’s blog post that I need to read as many religious and historical epic books as possible in my lifetime – the process for which I wanted to initiate right from this year. I am lucky enough to find a very good book based on Mahabharat named “The Flawed Good Man” in the 2nd month of the year itself which is based on the life of Karna and his role in the biggest war ever fought on this planet. The book is written by an 18-years old writer, Sanskriti Singh. Yes, you read it right- Just 18 Years Old. This is completely unbelievable for me to accept that someone in their teen can write a book on our epics and do so much justice to it that it seems someone matured enough has written the story. And let me tell you, the book is not a short story but a full-fledged novel of 320 pages. Kudos to the authoress!


“The Flawed Good Man” talks about the life of Karna and what all he went through right before he took birth due to which he never got the respect he deserved and desired. He always struggled for his rights starting with right to education and regularly got humiliated in public for some or the other reasons. Being from an upper-class family, he was identified to be from the caste of Suta who had less privileges comparatively. Due to caste system quite prevalent during those days, he had to regularly prove himself at every step. Whenever I read about Mahabharat before this, it has been more inclined either towards the role of Krishna or Draupadi or Kunti or Arjun but this is the first time when I have read from the point of view of the most talked personality in the Mahabharat- Karna.


The narration is very simple, and author keeps it as basic as possible. Anyone who is even beginning with their reading journey will find it easy to grasp something as complex as historical epic. The vocabulary used is very convenient for one to keep enjoying the story rather than disturbing their reading cycle by picking up dictionary at regular intervals.


The chapters are short and very smartly divided which are either about Kunti’s character and struggle initially and then later talks about several major landmarks in Karna’s life and finally moves into the tangent where the chapters are even based on few other characters with whom Karna had some instances which defined his role further in the war and at times, changes his life for good or bad. These short chapters made the experience of reading more delighting and peaceful.


Along with talking about Karna’s life, author also keeps giving some philosophical inputs which at the age of 18 the way Sanskriti has spoken through her words sounds too matured, spiritual and insightful. I liked how she balanced the book with Karna’s tale, the role of other characters in his life and along with it, managed to add these concepts too which will help the readers understand the messages about Dharma, righteousness, promises, relationships, responsibilities etc. Sanskriti has just made me her fan with these knowledgeable pieces as I got to learn a lot.


I would like to specially mention few parts that mesmerized me as a reader:

-          Ramayan philosophy during Kunti’s swayamwar

-          Dharma Vyadh and Kaushik is a great chapter on many life lessons and how as society, we are doing wrong by discriminating people. The chapter also has lots of spiritual knowledge.

-          The funny conversations between Suyodhan, Ashwatthama and Karna.

-          Krishna’s entry in the book and his conversation with Karna on injustice met with him.

-          The whole Draupadi vastra haran scene which tells you how tough a woman can be even after being at her worst and weakest moment.

-          The relationship between Karna and Draupadi is written with maturity which I believe is very complex to handle.

-          The romantic chemistry between Karna and his second wife, Supriya, is also nicely handled.

-          The Kurukshetra scene

-          The climax of the book right from Karna’s realization that he is going to die till his death scene made me cry. And if an author does that with their writing, I believe nothing more is expected from a reader’s point of view.


Now, talking about the drawbacks of the book, well, from the writing perspective, there is nothing. But I am too angry with the quality of editing and publishing. There are more than 100 typos in the book along with mistakes made in the names of the character as well as grammatical errors. Even spelling mistakes has not been eliminated while proofreading. I am seriously surprised how could both- author and publisher end up missing so many mistakes and what made them publish it in such a hurry that could cost bad feedbacks for the book. Also, it terms of publishing quality, on many left-hand pages, the extreme right words have got blurred so reading even those pages are quite a pain.


Other than these points, the book is a very nice and informative read and I am glad I completed it on the day of Jaya Ekadashi and co-incidentally, even Bollywood has announced a movie on Karna today the dialogues and lyrics of which will be written by Kumar Vishwas. I give this book 4.25* out of 5. I had to reduce 0.5 stars due to the drawbacks I mentioned above. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested in reading these stories in simple language.






Monday, February 15, 2021

Whole by Pamela Puja Kirpalani (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


2nd Book of 2021

As a reader, reading a non-fiction book is another charm in itself. This year in my target of 36 books, I have just completed my 1st non-fiction book named “Whole” written by the first-time author, Pamela Puja Kirpalani. The book also comes with a tagline which says “11 Universal Truths for An Inspired Life” and spreads across 180 pages. It took me around 2 weeks to finish this book as it is very insightful and inspiring. The thing with non-fiction and self-help books is that once you are done reading few of them, every book starts sounding the same hence I am always sceptic picking up one in fear of getting disappointed. Hence, I would like to mention here that Pamela has not disappointed here as she touches upon the topics that generally the self-help authors haven’t discussed in the same light as her.


The book is written in very simple language which I believe is the key behind ensuring that the readers grasp as much information as possible rather than getting confused in the terminologies and vocabulary. I liked the way author begun her book by describing about how the concept of Happiness came into her mind thinking on which she further talks about 11 such factors which can lead us towards it. The book then starts discussing each of these 11 universal truths for an inspired life where every chapter describes one of these truths. I liked the structure how author started every chapter with a quote said by some eminent personality which gave a brief about what we are going to learn further. And just after that, in italic font, author elaborates on the subject and what she is going to discuss with us. And I must tell you, these italic paragraphs in italic font are in itself so inspiring and thought-provoking that you would want to stick each one of them in your room.


The 11 truths discussed are Willpower, Creativity, Integrity, Humility, Alignment, Self-care, Awareness, Acceptance, Altruism, Courage and Forgiveness. In the chapter of Willpower itself, author talks about positive side of self-control and to my surprise, also about how it can drain us which leads us towards stress and upsetting attitude. Then author takes us further into other chapters and discusses important technical concepts such as procrastination, alpha waves and beta mode and their impact on our brain, how neurons work in our brain, the chemical creation due to the same which can lift our mood or depress us to the core, amygdala, rational thinking, fight or flight mode etc. Another applause-worthy research that author has done is to bring several statements from neuroscientists and psychologists which helps us learn a lot about how our brain functions and how we can control it with our attitude towards external factors which are impacting us.


“Integrity” is a very beautiful chapter the concept in which I believe since a very long time. Author helps us understand how to maintain it and what exactly it means. Similarly, the chapter on “Humility” is given a different touch altogether as author discusses about profound self-growth, personal freedom and diverted energies. In “Self-Care”, Pamela explains how just exercising, meditation and prayer/spiritual reading can bring multi-dimensional change in our lives. How waking up early morning and following certain practices can build our whole persona is elaborated reading which can influence many readers.


The book serves its purpose candidly as it is able to deliver some very beautiful quotes – some by eminent personalities, famous authors and many of them by the authoress herself. If a self-help book doesn’t provide any new ideas then there’s no point in writing something which is already up there in published works or online articles- and here, as per my reading experience till date, authoress have really introduced many detailed explanations which I haven’t read before. So, there are definitely topics where I believe Pamela has delivered what other authors couldn’t. This has been a very fresh read overall. She even goes a step further and doesn’t shy at all in sharing her personal experiences and her vulnerable states in life.


Now talking about some drawbacks, I think few chapters doesn’t do the kind of justice which I was expecting from the authoress considering the way she has managed other chapters. I was also looking forward to some meditation techniques and more details on how one can write journals, manage social connections, family life and other such factors which comes in between us and our goals. Lastly, I felt that the concepts and detailing that the author provided in few chapters were completely different from the title of the chapter which confused me a bit.


Overall, this is a very nice read and I recommend it to everyone who love reading self-help books and want to read something different now. This book really provides insights which aren’t discussed much yet. I give this book 4.5* out of 5.






Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Forever Years by Vivek Kumar (Book Review: 3.25*/5) !!!


1st Book of 2021

It took me quite some time to finish the first book this year all because I was going through some personal pain and issues. Somehow, I am here writing the 1st review of this year of the book named “The Forever Years”. The book is written by the debutante author, Vivek Kumar, in around 270 pages. I ordered the Kindle edition of the book from Amazon and I hope, the paperback of the same shall be available soon.


The book talks about a young boy and his journey from moving to a hostel from his home and how the experiences of living alone shaped his life. The title of the book corresponds with the situation the protagonist of the book is in. Earlier, I thought why the book is named so when the plot is completely different from fishbowl but later I understood the reference of fish with the boy while reading and getting deeper into the journey of the character.


I have lived in a hostel for around 7 months and hence I was able to relate to few of the anxieties, trouble, fun and several other emotions that the protagonist goes through in this story. If you have been from a lower middle-class or middle-class background or even if you belong from 2nd tier city in India, you will be able to relate and comprehend with the incidents and psychology of the characters in the story. I liked how author was able to keep the situations lighter and funnier in some segment whereas he was also able to explore the dark truth of living alone too.


Talking about the characters, I must say the protagonist is very nicely developed in the story and you would be taking him with you even after finishing the book. I must also applaud author for including multiple characters in the story along with their funny nicknames. Haha! It is not easy to write a story with multiple characters in picture where everyone has certain chemistry with each other and the same needs to be explored continuously.


The book gives the same vibe as the series like Gullak or Panchayat where you can feel rural India closely where the small things as celebrated as the biggest happiness of life whereas the big problems are also solved considering them to be just another thing in life. Read it not in a single sitting but as a filler while reading several other books. It is written in such a way. Also, there are many elements in the book which shall make you feel nostalgic as it made me for couple of times.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, I found the narration quite weak due to which it took me time to complete this book. The chapters are short which is a good point but I couldn’t find the story written seamlessly. It is like several short stories woven and converted in a single story. Secondly, there are many characters but except the protagonist, you will not find much depth in any other character which is a turn-off for me as a reader. Lastly, I felt that the book is based since school times hence it could have been written in such a way that even the kids could read it but due to some intimate scenes in the latter part, this becomes a book for say 16+ readers only.


Overall, I give this book 3.25* out of 5.





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