Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Granddaughter Project by Shaheen Chishti (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


26th Book of 2021

There are few books which can move you emotionally as well as psychologically. I am not talking about just making you cry and leaving an impact through the over-eruption of emotions. I mean to say that they carry such situations and characters which insists you to put yourself into their place and think of what you could have done- when you find no better idea than what is already being told in the story, you get submerged in the story and give yourself to it completely. I had the similar experience with reading Shaheen Chishti’s debut book named “The Granddaughter Project” which is of around 264 pages. It’s a very nice package in terms of publishing quality – in a hardcover format with a very beautiful cover jacket having a very intense and appealing cover page. And rest, author further makes this book a very satisfactory experience overall.


The story speaks of how a girl gets a letter from her grandmother which covers all the details about her life which leads in making the girl understand how women were treated during her grandmother’s era and how not much changed even when her mother got married. Her grandmother also gives her 2 more letters to handover it to random girls in different cities which are also written by their respective grandmothers. This irritates her boyfriend as he has to live away from his girlfriend until she is back after delivering the stupid letters to some random girls. The other two girls also get to know about their grandmother’s life in detail about which they didn’t know anything earlier. It makes them think about the women’s condition in those days. These letters make all the three girls take some important decision in their current life - learning from the experiences and hidden message their grandmothers are trying to tell them through their story.


The narrating style of author is very interesting where you will find a very great commanded words and sentences crafted which ensures you relate to every emotion and condition he is trying to tell. Chishti also ensures that the transition between the letter content and current story is rightly balanced so that none of the flow gets compromised. I liked this handling a lot as many authors fail to make a mark in such complex story-telling methodology. Though the subplot sounds little unrealistic that a girl travels so much just to deliver letters to random girls, but author ensures that it all sounds justified once he is telling the story in his writing style. You start trusting in everything he tells. I believe that’s what the USP of his uniqueness is.


The story ends up telling the conditions of women in all the generations which makes us think about how oppressed they have been. Every woman reading this will be able to relate it with themselves or their mother whom they have seen closely doing nothing else except satisfying their respective husbands and still getting ill-treated for a small mistake. Similarly, any girl of this era will understand how things have got better now with more friendly and feminist men around them but still they will get alarmed about something which is still not going the way it should be. This book is such thought-provoking, futuristic, and eye-opening.


While reading, I thought so much about how my mother is being treated and I felt that yes, women, despite of gender equality discussions are still not getting the same respect they need to get for what they are. The patriarchy and the male ego are still killing the emotions, willpower and life of many women and girls. I, as a man, had to question myself if I am doing well with the relationships I have with females in my life. This is the power Shaheen’s writing has upon you. Even after being a man, you will question your attitude and try to change yourself immediately.


The book talks about many factors on how Bengal famine in 1943 impacted the whole place and how some women suffered because of it. We are acquainted with how people like landlords molested and misused women just because they had money to buy anything – even humans. Reading the encounters where men almost rapes women in pretext of providing some benefits and women must suffer it without raising their voice made me feel pit in my stomach. Similarly, in another story, we get to know of horrific stories which takes place during World War 2 where again, women are led into prostitution services and reading those accounts will make you go and hug a rape survivor and help her as much as possible. I just couldn’t imagine the kind of violence Jew women had to go through and author has written everything raw which makes you feel as if you are present in the camp and experiencing everything yourself. Scary!


The book is impactful, interesting, strong, women-oriented and what not. The way it does justice to its title is mind-blowing. The research of author to understand how the old era was and what exactly happened during those real historic events with sufferers is worth applauding. I only disliked the last Grandmother’s story because it was really nothing when compared to the first two stories. Also, I felt that the book could have been short by 30-40 pages as it feels stretchy beyond a point. Otherwise, this is going to be one of the remarkable books to be published this year. I am glad I picked it up. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5 and ask all the modern women as well as men to read this. It is going to change your perspective forever.






Sunday, July 11, 2021

Ashwatthama's Redemption: The Bow of Rama by Gunjan Porwal (Book Review: 4.5*/5) !!!


25th Book of 2021


There are very few duologies or trilogies which keeps you interested with its sequels in the series. Some where down the line, we observe that the essence of the 1st part has been lost because either the author ends up overdoing or writes it just for the sake of completing the sequel because of the publisher’s deadline. This has NOT been the case with Gunjan Porwal’s 2nd and final part of the “Ashwatthama’s Redemption” series named “The Bow of Rama”. The 1st part is named “The Rise of Dandak” which released 3 years back and the final part has taken a good amount of time to be in our hands. I can proudly say that Gunjan impresses you with his craft again and every sentence that he writes screams of how he deserves to be one of the popular Indian mythological and historical fantasy writers.


His writing style is so apt that I couldn’t find any flaw anywhere. The way he takes the story ahead from where the 1st book ends is done very seamlessly. I keep suggesting authors to give a small recap of their earlier books in case of sequels so that people can revise it before proceeding ahead with the new part but not many implement this – may be because they believe the sale of previous books will decrease. Porwal has done it by himself, and it has been blended so beautifully in very few words that even if you haven’t read the 1st part, you will not find it difficult to understand the 2nd part. My recommendation would be to read the 1st part as it has many great concepts and philosophies discussed in detail such as karma, life, death, guilt, ego, mind games etc.


The narration of “The Bow of Rama” is quite relaxed despite several things happening at different places with different characters at the same time. You will feel the excitement and there will be the curiosity about what would happen next, but author keeps everything quite calm for the reader to not find anything clustered or pacy. Most of the characters are from the 1st book itself hence they don’t need much introduction but here, we start getting to know about their power with which they can win against the Dandak and Asuras. I liked how the bow of Rama on which even the title of the book is based is given importance and thrilling aspect right from the initial chapters itself. You will just want to know how the weapon which is associated with Lord Vishnu will be regained by this team of righteous people.


I liked the whole section which leads Ashwatthama to go to Ayodhya – the chapters where he ends up meeting Hanuman and the little tale of Lord Ram that is being discussed. Something similar happens in the 1st book too which brings back the nostalgic effect. I liked some great philosophies that is discussed in this same segment such as where Hanuman tells how he got a chance to redeem his Karma and end the cycle of Birth-Death otherwise God can do everything by himself, but he gives an opportunity to human beings to better their karma. Amazing! Similarly, the book also talks about some ancient powers and miracles such as shahtra-bhautik-vigyaan, parmanu-bahutiki, atomic physics, dark magic and other scientific factors which has been part of our culture since long back.


The great USP of this book has been that more than the action scenes the book here talks about the strategy that both the end choses to get onto the fight. The very first scene where one of the main character loses life and the love relationship of a couple gets affected speaks about the intense planning with which it happens. After that, the way author has used many intellectual elements to plan the last big war is a treat for readers. You need to be very calm and patient throughout the whole 2nd half because somewhere you want the War to begin and bow to come into the picture but that’s what the narration of this book is all about – wait and watch! I also liked Ashwatthama’s dilemma on what to choose – mortality or immortality. Every time he gets into that situation, as a human being, you get a lot to question yourself about what you would have done in that situation and it tells us, how hard one’s life can be.


The conversations between all the characters just win your heart time and again. The most magical part about the book is that author has written fighting, action, battle, and war sequences not only for you to feel the adrenaline rush but to ensure that you keep on imagining the whole scenario and build it in your world of Visualization. This makes the book very impactful and memorable. By the end, I wanted it to have another part in the series too which I rarely wish for any duology or trilogy. Haha!


Lastly, talking about the drawbacks- I must say that there aren’t many but still I think the book could have been 70-80 pages less. I feel few parts are given too much description which doesn’t elevate the scene but become stretchy and boring after a time. Because the book’s title has the name Rama, you want to read more about him, but it ends very soon, and you are taken ahead in the story immediately. Otherwise, this book has no issues at all and is a superb read. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it to all the fantasy, Indian mythology, ancient history, philosophical lovers to get it soon along with its 1st part.






Thursday, July 1, 2021

When Love Holds You Forever by Miihir Raaj (Book Preview) !!!


24th Book of 2021


I remember the period between 2010 to 2013 when many authors started trying their luck in writing through the love and college campus stories. I had just started purchasing books online and all these Rs. 100 books were available for just Rs. 50 on e-commerce platforms. This made me read a lot of them which eventually made me fall into love with books. One such book that I read during the same phase was “Plz… Kiss me Or Kill Me” written by the author Miihir Raaj. Many authors whom I read then didn’t write their 2nd book ever as mostly the 1st one was based on their own love experience than being a pure piece of creativity. Miihir Raaj, finally, is back with his 2nd book named “When Love Holds You Forever”. It is a pure love story again with no other genre touching even in its sub-plots.


The book talks about the character of Dev right from the starting as he is the one who is mostly driving the story here. His passion for work and sex is discussed immensely in the 1st half of the book. He is kind of a Casanova and doesn’t believe in falling and settling with one girl at all. There’s a catch here as this personality has developed because of his upbringing and the experience he had with his parents. You will find his character crazy as he will not think twice even while sleeping with his friend’s sister in his absence.


Later, the book starts introducing us with Pooja, a young and successful journalist who is fighting against all odds to be at toes with her job and the challenges that comes with it. Author has very nicely tried to explain us how tough journalism and its tasks can get for girls where they are insulted, molested, and demeaned almost every day as they must get into crowds and do their work. Irrespective of such challenges, Pooja dares to perform her tasks very well and cover things which makes even her seniors conscious about her reporting. She is a very simple girl and has never got involved in any kind of relationship with anyone – leave having physical intimacy.


The book then brings both these characters under each other’s acquaintance and how the two different personalities start gelling together is what this book is mostly about. There are other characters such as Shruti, Farhan, Naaz, Mihir etc. who keeps coming in between to support one or the other among the two protagonists. The pre-climax brings a big twist in tale which has been mentioned in the back-cover of the book too i.e. starting from seduction, traversing through “Sins” the book finally reaches a stage of “Schizophrenia” which changes the whole dimension in which the story was moving in.


The climax will make you feel both- happy and sad. The people who are new in love will love reading this book. The book is a nice pick for beginners in reading journey. The book is available on the major platforms, and you can purchase it from AMAZON on great discount.






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