Book Blitz: Whose Country is it anyway? by A.P.S Kumar

About the Book:
India’s rich diversity, both in its physical and natural aspects, is widely known. India has had a great past with achievements in literature, the arts, medicine and mathematics.

Indians were sea-faring and they spread their influence through their philosophy, religion and military conquest too. But Like a cosmic phenomenon, decline is every civilization is inevitable. Indian civilization too declined.

When a civilization rises, people are driven by idealism; when people are possessed of greed, it declines and falls.

Indians today are possessed of excessive, abominable, putrefying greed.

The author tells it all in an honest, engaging manner. He holds a mirror unto ourselves.

Book Link:
About the Author:
I hail from a middle class family. Son of a soldier, I did my studies in Bengaluru obtaining a Bachelor’s degree (from St. Joseph’s College) in Science and then in Law from a different college.
Though not very serious about studies, I took to books with keen interest in social sciences history in particular, literature and natural sciences (in general) and current affairs. I am drawn wittingly towards that abstract thinking – that is, philosophy.
Worked in a Government-owned Insurance Company – United India Insurance Co Ltd – as a Salesman (designated as Development Officer) and retired voluntarily a decade ago.
I spend time reading and writing, travelling both within the country and outside. I ardently believe in community work; I concentrate on education of children, obviously from poor background.
Nationalism – i.e. love of fellow citizens – is my creed. I am passionate about friendships, am devoid of all other -isms.
Contact the author via eMail

Book Review: Heaven Adjacent by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was provided with an advance reader’s copy of the book via NetGalley by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a bittersweet novel about healing old wounds and finding a new place to call home…

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

My Thoughts:

I am thankful to once again have been given the chance to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s next upcoming novel! Heaven Adjacent teaches us to appreciate the small things in life. It teaches us that it is okay to be scared, everyone is scared, but, there is no need to run from it. It teaches us to trust those around us, to open ourselves up to people and to just be happy with the things we have.

Roseanna, our protagonist, makes the sudden split-second decision to just up and run. She wakes up one morning with the urge to get away from the city, her world and the life she leads. Part of her is grieving due to the loss of her best friend/ law partner and the other part of her is trying to reconcile with the fact that life is too short to waste away without enjoying it. As she drives away in her fancy car without a specific destination in mind, Roseanna lands up somewhere near the Adirondacks where she finds a perfectly acceptable farm.

As she settles and tries to make a home here, she allows a mother and daughter to stay on the premises. Slowly, a few more people happen upon her place, all seemingly in search of paradise or peace. At first Roseanna is irritated by the presence of other people, but as time passes, she starts to accept them. This seems to bug her son when he finally finds out where she is, through a news article about her animals sculpted from the junk around, and comes to convince her to go back. He does not understand her sudden decision and as he starts to spend some time with his mother, the two of them discover things about the other that they never knew or understood before. Talking about their lives, their relationships and who they are, a knew sense of peace and acceptance develops.

This story is one of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Roseanna finds a new kind of peace, a new hobby, and learns to accept the people around her. They all have something to teach her about life and her relationship with her son. This is a heart-warming story that is very well-written and pushes the reader towards introspection. It helps the reader understand that it is okay to want to escape, but don’t be rash about it, and be sure to let in the ones you love. It will make a world of difference. Be open about your thoughts and don’t be afraid to speak up. This is how a person can learn and grow into a better human being.

One again, this new and upcoming novel by author Catherine Ryan Hyde is a must read as it touches upon relevant and relatable topics!

Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

About the Book:

Exit West

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing—to fall in love—in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind—when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .

My Thoughts:

Exit West is an absolute masterpiece, that is well crafted and inspires the reader to think about some rather important topics.

I had  the pleasure of listening to Mohsin speak about the book and his ideas at Shakespeare and Co., Paris in January 2018. This was quite an eye opener and helped put the story in perspective. It became easier to understand the plot and what the author wanted to convey.

The story is well-written and the simplest plot line is the story of Nadia and Saeed who find love in an unnamed war torn country. Told through their experiences, Exit West explores how the world around us is dynamic and always changing. Along with this, the people in this world are also changing, both physically and in personality, as a result of their experiences. The choices a person makes or is forced to make, contribute to shaping who they are. This is articulated very well by the author.

The author uses imagery to bring into context the use of “doors” to travel to different places. As an example, we can relate our use of technology as a way of going into another world or sequence, that is quite different from the current reality. Another subtle focus is on the concept of migration and the refugee status in countries. The author brings out the idea that everyone, even if they do not move from the current place where they live, can be considered to be migrants since the world around them is always changing. People move to find shelter and a safer place to live, the basic things that we need to lead a simple life.

As the story progresses, we follow our lead characters as they take a trip through many such doors. Their experiences and adventures seek to shape the story and the messages brought out. At times I found it difficult to relate to Nadia and Saeed. They were lacking in character depth and some parts of the story didn’t work for me. However, I found the concept of the story quite intriguing and I think that it is definitely worth a read! The book has received a lot of praise and it is well deserved.

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

About the Book:

The Husband's Secret

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

My Thoughts:

The Husband’s Secret is a thought provoking story that brings together the lives of 3 women due to one earth-shattering secret. The story is gripping and will hold your attention until the very end. The author takes her time to reveal the main parts of the story, giving us a comprehensive background on the characters and their lives. We are introduced to Rachel’s daughter whose is pivotal to the story. The author goes back and forth between timelines to give us a sense of what is happening and to put the events in perspective. The feelings of each character are brought out very well and the author succeeds in drawing the reader in.

The plot focuses mainly on Cecilia who finds a letter written a long time ago from her husband, with instructions to be only opened at the time of his death. At first she keeps it aside with no intention of looking at it even though it seems quite intriguing. But when her husband deflects questions about it, Cecilia decides that she has to know. This is perhaps the decision that changes not only her life, but later on, the lives of two other women who feel the repercussions of this secret.

The main questions of How well do you really know a person? and How far can you go to protect the ones you love? are brought out through this story. Is it possible to forgive and move on? The death of Rachel’s daughter has affected a lot of lives, but is the truth something that can be contained? Or should the person responsible be brought to justice, thus disrupting some more lives? So many questions arise and the author ensures that everything is answered. She effortlessly handles the narrative, moving from character to character and flawlessly sowing together a plot that will keep the reader enthralled.

A must read for everyone who enjoys a read, this story raises some valid questions that everyone should take time to think about.

Book Spotlight: You Came Like Hope by Jyoti Arora

 About the Book:

Peehu:
“I heard them mourn my death. I lay in the next room. Motionless, silent, and staring at the ceiling.”
 
Adih:
“Whenit comes to a broken person, some of them are expert at blinding you. Spend an entire evening with such a person, but you may still not know how he iscrushing inside.”
 
Uday:
“Who would say no to him? He is smart, intelligent, super handsome, rich, suave and sophisticated. He’s perfect!”
 
Pooja:
“Pooja gave no explanation. She asked no forgiveness. She just arrived in his home, resenting him for being her husband.”
 
Arunav:
“He had smiled as if nothing was wrong. He had behaved as if he still had his dreams and hopes. He had pretended as if it didn’t hurt. But it did.”
 
Does Destiny hold the key to our happiness?
Is it always the feeble that is the victim?
Love can be the embrace of heaven. But what happens when it unleashes hellfire?
 
Lose yourself in the intense narrative of You Came Like Hope as it unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, uncovers some bitter truths, challenges widespread prejudices, and forces you to reconsider your beliefs.
 
Check out the Free Sample of the novel
 
Book Trailer:


Book Links:


Read an Excerpt:

  Prologue
The trouble with me is that I forget all caution, when I need it the most.

I knew I was not supposed to set foot inside his house. I had already done one blunder. The result of that was wrapping its web around me. Suffocating me. It was foolishness to be stepping into yet another mistake.

But there I was.

‘It doesn’t matter. I’ll leave soon. He’s not here anyway,’ I excused myself, taking a deep breath of the pleasant lemon-scented air of the place.

The room was simply furnished. There was an oval centre table topped with a black glass. Pencil scrapes fluttered on half of it and school books and notebooks covered the other half. An almost empty school bag lay huddled on the grey couch next to it. There were matching single-seaters on the other side of the table. A square dining table stood on one side of the room. It had only two chairs. Besides this sombre furniture, there were three Disney cushions on the grey couch, artificial sunflowers with smiley faces in a vase, a flower-shaped wall clock, and a cute flower and bee shaped perfume dispenser in a corner. These childish whims and fancies served well to add cheer to otherwise too plain a room.

My eyes brushed past all these things, only to be arrested by a photo hanging on a wall. It showed a girl child holding the hand of a tall man. He was dressed in blue jeans and grey t-shirt. The attire suited his height and strong built well. The child was grinning at the camera. Her companion was looking down and smiling at her. It was a smile that could have forced any woman to become rude and stare with desire. I was glad it was just a picture that I was staring at.

The owner of that smile had moved to Delhi four months ago, renting a house very close to my cousin sister Rajni’s house. This was the first time I had come to stay at my cousin’s home since then. My mother had let me come. But she worried that he was too near, the son of a defamed family.

‘You know what his family history is. Stay away from him, no matter what Rajni tells you,’ she had ordered.

‘Too late,’ I murmured, staring at his picture and wondering what mother would say if she found out. But then, there were far worse things that I had hidden. Things that, I knew, would hurt my parents more. Far more.

 

About the Author:

 

Jyoti Arora is a novelist and blogger from Ghaziabad. You Came Like Hope is her third novel, coming after Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl. She is Post Graduate in English Literature and Applied Psychology.

Jyoti has over five years of experience working as a freelance writer. This experience includes abridging over 24 famous English classics like Jane Eyre, Moby Dick etc.

Jyoti Arora is a patient of Thalassemia Major. But she does not let this stop or discourage her. For her determination and achievements, Jyoti has received appreciation from Ms Sheila Dixit, Ms Maneka Gandhi and the  Ghaziabad wing of BJP. Her life story has been covered in various local and national TV shows, radio programs, newspapers, magazines and websites like YourStory and Inspire India. She was also one of the ‘100 Women Achievers of India’ that were invited to witness the Republic Day parade of India (2016) as special guests. Besides reading and writing novels, Jyoti also enjoys blogging and has won several blogging competitions. She loves checking out latest technological innovations, watching movies, and listening to old Bollywood songs.
Reach her at jyotiarora.com.
 
Contact the Author:
 

Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander

About the Book:

Kilee Brookbank was a typical sixteen-year-old, thinking about school, soccer, her friends, and her boyfriend. But her last ordinary day erupted in an explosion that consumed her house, burning over 45 percent of her body and sending her to the very brink of death. After thirty-eight days of surgeries, skin grafts, perpetual physical therapy, and excruciating pain, she had to discover how to live again.

When Kilee returned home, she had to find a new “normal,” relearning how to tie her shoes, put on her makeup, and even turn a doorknob. In each moment of her long journey back to everyday life, she had to make choices that would define who she was and who she would become.

With unwavering support from her mom, Lori, and the rest of her family, Kilee faced her journey with determination, strength, and a positive attitude that inspired not only her community, but people around the world.

Told together by Kilee and Lori, Beautiful Scars is a story of recovery, healing, and hope, reminding us all that we’re never powerless, never alone, and that each challenge we face helps make us the people we are meant to be.

My Thoughts:

This story of 16 year old, Kilee Brookbank’s experience with skin burns and her positive outlook to fight back and live a fulfilling life is encouraging and inspiring. The idea to get her story out there, to teach people to love themselves in spite of how they look or the scars they bear is wonderful and I applaud Kilee for the same!

This book brings out the sequence of events from both Kilee’s POV and her mother, Lori’s POV, thus helping us to understand all sides of the story and the feelings of everyone involved. It is a scary thing that happened, but the way in which it was approached and dealt with, made a huge difference to the recovery.

How do you recover from the pain and shock of the burns to living a normal life again? How does someone accept that they no longer look the way they used to, they are different in many ways? All this is covered and shared in great detail. The strength and support of the family and the people around them is wonderful and this story of hope and healing tells us that we are not alone, as long as we do not hesitate to ask for help. There is always someone out there who has gone through what you are going through and there are support groups and help if we seek it out. This is a story of growth and healing of not only of Kilee but also of her family and her mother who stood by her and supported her. They treated her as a normal person, in spite of her burns and the difficulties she faced initially. She had to re-learn to do all the everyday things by herself and I think Lori deserves a huge amount of credit for her unwavering faith and support. The idea to help people deal with the trauma of burns and healing makes Kilee’s story worth a read!

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation by Sharon Maas

About the Book:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation: A gripping and emotional family saga of love and secrets (The Quint Chronicles)

An unputdownable story about a woman in search of the truth, the man she falls in love with, and the devastation of the Second World War.
1934, Georgetown.

All her life, Mary Grace has wanted to know the truth about who her parents really are. As the mixed-race daughter of two white plantation owners, her childhood has been clouded by whispered rumours, and the circumstances of her birth have been kept a closely guarded secret…

Aunt Winnie is the only person Mary Grace can confide in. Feeling lost and lonely, her place in society uncertain, Mary Grace decides to forge her own path in the world. And she finds herself unexpectedly falling for charming and affluent Jock Campbell, a planter with revolutionary ideas.

But, with the onset of the Second World War, their lives will be changed forever. And Mary Grace and Jock will be faced with the hardest decision of all – to fight for freedom or to follow their hearts…

An utterly compelling and evocative story about the heart-breaking choices men and women had to make during a time of unimaginable change. Perfect for fans of The Secret Wife and Island of Secrets .

My Thoughts:

The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is a gripping and compelling read, where fact meet fiction and a wonderful story arises.

The plot is based on factual events, on the sugar plantations in Guyana and the life of the people at the time. Many of the characters are also real people, who made a difference or had an impact on the lives of people. The story is well written and brings out the emotions of the people in the story. It will draw you in and keep you hooked until the very end.

The reader has the pleasure of meeting Mary Grace, a strong willed girl who learns to believe that there is more to life than the one she leads on the sugar plantation. As the story progresses, we see her grow and blossom into a wonderful woman with a burning passion for life. We are exposed to the brutality of life, the concept of slaves and workers, the upper class society and a certain level of superiority based on color of the skin.  The author exposes us to the shocking truth and mindset of the people, and the ideas behind revolutions and changes. Jock is a strongly described character with an interesting mindset and a set goal in life. He is willing to sacrifice love for his goal.

The supporting characters in Mary Grace’s mother, her aunt, her cousins and the secrets they hold only seek to expose us to the reality of life and the people. The strength and unity, the confidence and pride they have for and in each other is inspiring. The impact of the Second World War on the world and lives of people is portrayed really well and it is sure that the reader will be able to experience an array of emotions.

The choices a person makes at different stages in life shapes their life and this is seen clearly through the decisions of the people in the book. This story will stay with you until the end and after, leaving behind a deeper impact and food for thought.

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

What I thought about The Man called Ove

‘Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say,’ said Ove.

Set in Sweden, this story of your everyday person and the things they face in life is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. The author takes us on a journey through Ove’s life, a short duration after his wife dies and while he is contemplating committing suicide to join her. Ove is a grumpy old man, who seems to put people off with his attitude. Little does anyone know that underneath that hard exterior, there is a wonderful man inside!

A perfectionist, Ove expects things to be a certain way, to happen in a certain way. He has a routine and he expects to keep it. When he is suddenly out of a job, he is thrown off center for a while. Add to this the death of the one person who truly understood him and accepted him for who he is and I am sure that you can understand Ove’s state of mind. If not, read on! This book is truly worth it.

We are introduced to an intriguing set of characters who make this story more colorful. Parvaneh, a pregnant lady with two children and a weird husband, seems to take it upon herself to bring Ove out of his shell. As Ove sets out everyday with the idea of killing himself, something happens to prevent it and make him postpone by a day, each day. A stubborn man, Ove has a set way of doing things and he follows the rules. He has come up through sheer hard-work and determination and all theses experiences seem to have shaped him. The entry of his wife into his life proves to add some color into it, but just enough for her to bring out the best in him.

This story shows us all sides of life and how it shapes a person and their attitude. We are shown how Ove has grown and how the people in his life have affected him. The story goes back and forth, thus ensuring that we get all parts of the story. The man called Ove, has a lot to say and a lot to teach us. It’s up to us to understand this and learn. We are also shown a side of him where he has made friends and lost them over something that ideally wouldn’t matter much to us. With a set mind and ideals, Ove is as stubborn as one can be. This story is about how to break out of this and adapt to the changes in the world around you.

The supporting characters in this story are well crafted and seek to bring out different shades of life. They are from different backgrounds, and show us various kinds of lifestyles and thought processes. The children are delightful and it is partially their innocence, coupled with Parvaneh’s bossy nature that seeks to bring Ove out of his shell. As he begins to help people again, frankly speaking, he is forced to, it changes him once more and gives him a new purpose in life.

A well-written novel, the author brings out the truth behind every person’s life, the hardships they face and the ease with which they can handle it when surrounded with people who love and support them. The simplicity of the plot and the depth of the characters make this a brilliant read.

Book Review of The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards by Steve LeBel

About the Book:

Gods vs. Wizards ~ an epic struggle for survival

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…

My Thoughts:

 In this next book of ‘The Universe Builders’, Bernie now has a job and he is working on creating universes to please their customers. This book takes off from where the last left off, with the main characters now out of school and trying to find their footing in the commercial world. It is wonderful to see how the characters have grown and changed. If you have read the previous book(s), you’d understand this. If not, here is a brief idea of the basic plot.

Bernie and his friends are young gods. They have just completed God school where they learnt the art of creating universes, how to create life and how to find out what are the elements that when combined, would sustain life. In this book, Bernie has to restore the production of a particular plant on a planet. When Bernie arrives on the planet, he finds that there is a lot more going on. As he teams up with his friends to try to figure out a solution, he is faced with problems from the people of the planet. This story is also one of discovery and understanding, of strong bonds and friendship and trust. We watch them grow and mature a little, while Bernie’s cloud becomes naughtier by the minute!

A well-written novel, this book proves to be fun to read and is more mature in the nature of the plot as compared to the previous story. There the focus was on introducing the characters and making us familiar with them and the world. Now, it is more focused on the emotional depth of the characters and the plot. The story moves quickly and it is nice to read about a developing relationship between Bernie and Susie, which most of you would have seen coming. An entertaining concept, the author brings out a different perspective on life and creation.

Everyone who enjoys a good read in the fantasy genre would really enjoy this book and the others in the series!

Book Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Say Goodbye for Now

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

My Thoughts:

The phrase, ‘Say goodbye for now’, also the title of the book, is a recurring point throughout the book. It is a wonderful thing that the title of a book has been incorporated throughout the plot and brings out the overall theme or point of the story.

I picked up this book after reading ‘Ask Him Why’. I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and couldn’t wait to read more. I was most surprised when upon starting this story, I found that the style of writing, the tone and pace of the story were different! This made me enjoy the book all the more apart from the wonderful plot.

The story focuses on two young boys, in their early teens, who meet by chance and decide that due to their way of thinking, that they should be friends. It was rather unfortunate that the times they lived in frowned upon friendship between them. With a town set against the newly arrived African American father and son duo, a lady doctor who cares for abandoned and hurt animals, and a young American boy who seeks her out when he finds a hurt wolf-dog lying by the side of the highway, there is a lot that can happen when we bring these four people together.

The author takes her time to bring out the personalities of each of these principal characters, as well as their backgrounds. She helps us understand what makes them tick and how they became the way they are in the present time. The author elaborates a little on the town and it’s mindset and perception of these main characters. Nothing is simple in the lives of these four people and the author takes her time in making things right. The story is told alternatively from the points of view of Pete and Dr. Lucy. The reader will get to know them very well and will feel as though even they are friends with them. As pleasing and simple as they are, they are not perfect and have their dark moments.

Pete is thoughtful and advanced in the way his mind thinks and instead of being shushed by the adults he comes to know, they encourage and nurture his inquisitive mind. His relationship with all the characters and his thoughts and feelings help to shape the direction the story moves in. Justin though different, understand Pete and plays his part in this story to perfection. The simple chemistry between Dr. Lucy and Calvin is shown with understated simplicity. It just happens, and there is no confusion or apology. The characters take all situations in their stride, including the fact that a time will come when they can be together and until then, they just have to keep living on.

The simple tones and calm manner in which things are dealt with make this story all that more pleasing. This was a wonderful read and I fell in love with every aspect of this story. The title, used extensively as demanded by the plot, will help the reader see that there is no need to end a relationship of any kind, there are times when it can just be postponed, with some understanding, care and love.

Just say Goodbye for Now!