Category: Book Review

Review: The Mother of All Questions

The Mother of All QuestionsThe Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second Rebecca Solnit Book. An author, who promotes any kind of ‘ism’ tend to be a little rigid on their views in my opinion. That’s why I mostly resist being part of any kind of ‘ism’ and I keep that in mind when I read a book as well. The moment you commit yourself to any kind of ‘ism’, it curtails your free thinking and forces you to realign your thoughts along with the ‘ism’. I disagree with few parts in the book, still, I loved it. The book helps us create a new perceptive, just like her book ‘Men Explain things to me’. Maybe I lack the depth to understand it better, at this point, I would go with a three star for this book and be adding it to the ‘must reread list’ because I think a little ‘evolved’ me would appreciate this book much better.

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Review: Me Before You

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this one to binge read over the weekend and it didn’t disappoint me. Even watched few scenes from the movie and totally hated it. Emilia Clarke has totally overdone the whole thing IMO. Thought I liked the non-conventional light read, what intrigued me is the controversy that followed. #mebeforeeuthanasia was such a powerful debate that I found my opinions swaying to the other side, every time I read an article about it. Even now, I still can not make up an opinion about the whole thing. Anyway, at the end of the day, I am a little less convinced about the love story in the book and a lot more confused about the choice between selfishness and love. Well, I liked the read and it kept me hooked so gets a three rating from me.

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Review: 1984

19841984 by George Orwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A scary book which makes you realize the perils of mass surveillance. The book starts with three very powerful lines, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. You will almost be nodding your head in agreement by the time you finished reading the explanation for the three. Spoiler here -> it doesn’t end in a conventional way where the evil is conquered in the end. Rather, you will be fully convinced how and why Mr. Smith would ultimately agree 2 + 2 is 5. A book impregnated with quotes to ponder and my favorite one would be “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

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Review: The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister

The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion LannisterThe Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A perfect book to read when you are dead tired waiting for Winds of Winter. Reminded me of all those times when I love-hate-ed the Lannisters. But having said that, this book never takes away the gnawing boredom of waiting for the Winds of Winter. OMG, I read the series when my daughter was a tiny little one year old, now she is almost ready for KG and I am still waiting to know if John Snow is actually dead or not.

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Review:No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance StateNo Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved the first few chapters of the book. Thought it would be one of the groundbreaking books of its kind. Those chapters were not less than fiction and but then the whole focus of the book moved on to defending the author under various circumstances. It is understandable that the whole justifying thing should come under the purview of the book, but should have been crispier. I would have liked to have more on Snowden. But his presence is limited in the first chapters. There are no two ways about the truth. But the book was disappointing.

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Review: Burnt Shadows

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie portrays the journey of a Hiroko Tanaka, a girl of Japanese Origin, across multiple geographies and cultures. The story begins with an arresting image of three bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. From there, the story slowly unravels the interwoven stories of Weiss, Burton and Ashraf Families, spanned across generations. Hiroko, a survivor of August 9, 1945, Nagasaki Bombing, Hibakusha as they say in Japanse, travels to India to meet her late fiance, Konrad Weiss’s sister Elizabeth Burton.

As the backdrop changes to Delhi’s summer and it’s blazing Gulmohars, Hiroko finds a surprising, yet a truehearted friend in Elizebeth Burton and a soulmate in Sajjad Ashraf. Amid India-Pakistan separation in 1947 and the subsequent violence, Hiroko and Sajjad find themselves married and are forced to settle in Karachi, Pakistan unexpectedly. The fate keeps bringing Hiroko under the shadow of many historic events like the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, India Pakistan Partition, Afghan war, Nuclear tensions in Asia and the 9/11 bombing. It is moving to see, how a survivor of such mass destruction still holds on to humanity until the end of the book.

Burnt shadows are as poetic as it can be, and a new meaning unravels in front of you each time you read it. The author has carved every character with such a finesse that the situations and emotions characters go through, will create a lasting impression on you. Occasionally, the writing seems to be the excelling point than the story, especially in the end.

The story is cast in a huge geographical and cultural canvas.The juxtapositioning of noted massacres of human history and the personal loss and sorrow is notable. The author brilliantly positioned love and humanity in such a contrasting environment of war and yet managed to invoke the right emotions without confusion. The wartorn Urakami, Delhi on the verge of Partition, Refugees at Karachi, the rawness of 9/11 bombing, the list of historical events author has picked to tell the story goes on.

Sajjad stood up quietly and walked over to her. “There is a phrase I have heard in English: to leave someone alone with their grief. Urdu has no equivalent phrase. It only understands the concept of gathering around and becoming ‘ghumkhaur’—grief-eaters—who take in the mourner’s sorrow.”
― Kamila Shamsie, Burnt Shadows

Along with geographical grandness, Author also handles the nuances of multiple cultures very well. Many characters in the Novel come across multiple cultures as part of their journey and it is wonderful to see how each of them assimilate an entirely foreign culture, still, keep a part of their heart true to their own. The unfamiliarity of a new culture, the reluctance in pursuing its ways, and the inevitable acceptance after knowing it in depth, this cycle is a recurring theme with every character and the author does it with a distinct emotional portrayal for each character.Another motif you find all over is that of a story of ‘Spider and Islam’. Two families, The buttons, and The Ashrafs, with deeply interconnected roots, go through a series of events having a similar theme as that of ‘Spider and Islam’. As a reader, it is interesting to discern this patterns.

Another notable portion comes towards the end when author pits two popular ideologies, which are at odds. She does it with such nuances that, its impossible not to empathize with both of them. Abdulla, a conservative Muslim, who finds himself at the wrong end of the law and Kim Burton, still raw from the wounds of 9/11 and her personal loss,  come together in the end to voice out the obvious religion versus terrorism arguments.My favorite part of that entire dialogue is a soft toy analogy using which author choose to show, how dissimilar backgrounds and situations lead to opposing beliefs in individuals and how difficult it is not to sympathize with both the ideologies. Both the arguments have its own standing in the reader’s mind.

Considering how elaborate author was in the beginning, I am rather disappointed with the abrupt ending . I looked up from the last chapter as an unsatiated reader who could do with a little more specific ending. Despite this little glitch, I enjoyed the read and really took my own sweet time to savor the book. Some of the quotes from the book have turned my favorite now. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a memorable read


Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a cheery book to start the new year, still the book managed to hold my interest until the end. The factual representation of HeLa cells journey, how HeLa is so important to science even today and the perpetual confusion  on the privacy trials of biomaterials, the books covers all these aspects ever so gracefully. Once you delve into a little deeper into the book, it becomes difficult to identify the goal of the book. Deborah Lacks, daughter of Henrietta Lacks, eventually the books turns into a memoir of hers. It is like a pitchfork with two metal prongs, parallels of the Journey of HeLa cells and Journey of HeLa’s daughter. You can reason out as Henrietta Lacks two immortal lives, one that of the cells and the other journey of her spirit, which lives on through her family. I enjoyed reading it and would go for a four

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