Book Review: Tabish Khair’s “Jihadi Jane”

Happy Monday(?) Everyone!Over the weekend, I read Jihadi Jane by Tabish Khair, and I might have a new favorite! 
The story involves Ameena and Jamilla, two orthodox Muslim girls in England, feeling utterly out of place and alien. This overwhelming situation of feeling like an outsider in their homes,the courage and passion for Islam and the fight against Western ideologies, made them leave everything behind, and start afresh. Start afresh in Syria, to fight the battle in ways their religion permitted, as wives of Jihadis, and maybe more. 

 

Soon, it dawns on them, the excessive fundamental Islam crafted by Hejjiye, Hasan and the rest is not what Allah intended. They began missing the festivals that had currently been pruned and made bleak; they missed the scope for debate and the freedom of thought and choice, they missed the outside; this is not what they had signed up for. Suddenly, the thought of feeling different and the racial abuse did not seem hellacious. 
There occurs then, a turn of events that Jamilla could not have fathomed. Was Ameena, a girl she fondly remembers as the girl smoking a cigarette in school capable of such a sacrifice?
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED EVERY BIT OF THIS BOOK! The writing style, the structure and the characters were wonderful! 

It is truly a page turner. 

I resonate with the ideology that no faith propagates the massacre of innocent individuals. Hate will only give rise to more hate, and one can only terminate this cycle, by terminating this wrong comprehension of Islam. These propagandas are only a product of one’s interpretation and personal views, and cannot be displayed as principles of the religion itself. 

And yes, I have a new favorite! I’d rate this a 5/5! 

Do let me know what your thoughts are! 

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Book Review- Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’

I have a test tomorrow, and I am not even remotely near the end of my syllabus. But since it is imperative that I do everything other than studying for my test,and then have breakdowns and stress out later, I decided to write my book review on Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’.
The story revolves around the impeccable bond that siblings share, a brother and his sister in particular. However, circumstances don’t allow them much time together and they are separated. They finally reunite, now old and having faced their share of struggles, but with their bond as strong as ever. 

I was disappointed with this book. I’m a huge fan of Khaled Hosseini, but this book didn’t match that standard. I fell in love with the plot of the book, but I found the story too stretched-out. I also wasn’t a fan of the structure of the story. 

The storyline introduced chapters discussing new characters, who were in ways related to Abdullah and Pari. But I personally didn’t find that very interesting and saw it more as a deviation from the main plot. I was getting restless by the page to read about Abdullah and Pari’s life and their reunion. 

The book otherwise is a good read! The language and characters were great! I particularly, loved the story of Nila Wahdati, a strong and an unconventional Afghan, who captured me with her wit and personality. 

I was expecting to be in love with this book, but that was not the case. I’d rate the book a 3/5.

Book Review: Lilac Mills’ “Elephant and Pinky Moon’

Hi Everyone!
I’m back home from uni for a couple of days and couldn’t be any happier. Currently snuggled up in bed alongside my parents.

 This week, I read Lilac Mills ‘Elephant and Pinky Moon’ and here’s my review of it!
The story revolves around the relationship between the protagonist and her grandmother. The grandmother, Flossie is a hearty woman in her eighties, to whom age is merely a number. She tricks her granddaughter, Nina to go on a trip with her, attempting to take her to Happy-ville. Nina, in her late twenties is a sombre individual, with an almost non-existent social life. Her life is far from lively, and this is what Flossie intends to change. 

They take on a trip to Turkey, checking in to a rather interesting hotel, not made for either of their age groups. Although Flossie became an instant hit, with her bold actions and witty come-backs, Nina never felt more embarrassed. Flossie, with her fluorescent bikinis, her diet comprising mostly of alcohol, and being an unwanted and unappreciated wing woman to an embarrassed Nina, was having the time of her life. 

As her vacation unravels, Nina realizes how her Grandmother had impacted her. In the span of a week, she had participated in activities that she’d never imagined doing and had met her special someone. She was actually enjoying her time in Turkey!
However, a tragedy strikes and things start toppling. 
This book is a fun and easy read. The book with its quirkiness, and with a plot revolving around a special bond such as this, is sure to touch your heart. Although I was quite interested in the first half of the book, the second half turned out to be predictable for me. The book was well written otherwise and is sure to make you reflect on your times with your grandmother. I love old people, and this book wonderfully captures their freeborn attitudes. They’re no longer held captive by judgements or criticisms, as they come into their last phase and long to make the most of the moments they have. 

A good book, overall!
I’d rate this book a 3 on 5! 

Book Review-Savi Sharma’s ‘This is Not your Story’

Hi guys! I am currently gulping down some watermelon attempting to rejuvenate my senses from this unbearable heat. I just finished reading ‘This is Not your Story’ by Savi Sharma, a sequel to her ‘Everyone has a Story’, and here’s my take on it!
I personally liked the book way better than the first one. It was wonderfully baroque, and I loved the characters. The plot was neat and I liked how it was laid out, with the characters giving their perspective to the incidents that had followed. 

The characters, Kasturi, Anubhav, Shaurya and Miraya held a charm of their own with characteristics so diverse, but bound by their broken pasts. They held each other and attempted to re-write their stories, knowing well by now that their future is in their hands and settling for a future half-heartedly would be unjust to their potential and dreams. This is a story of how each of them succeed in life and love, all from supporting and believing in one another. How fear is a bigger obstacle than the task itself, and how you’re half way there once you overcome your fear and board the journey to your dreams.

I would rate this book a 3.5 on 5! 
Lots and lots of love, 

Themysticalpanda 

The Mystery Blogger Tag!

Hey everyone! Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures out there!

I was nominated by Jenny for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thank you so much for the nomination. It was really sweet of her to provide this opportunity for all the small bloggers to come forward. The Mystery Blogger Award is a tag created by Okoto Enigma.



The rules are as follows-
1. Put the award logo/image in your post.

2. List all the rules.

3. Thank whoever nominated you and leave a link to their blog.

4. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

5. Nominate 10-20 people and notify them.

6. Link back to the creator of the award.

7. Ask nominees any 5 questions of your choice, with a weird or funny question.

8. Share the link to your best/favourite post of yours. 

Here are 3 random things about myself –

  1. I dislike Skinny Jeans. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great and I would have loved to be able to like them. It’s just how it feels against the skin. I don’t like fabrics that are too tight on my legs, and skinny jeans are just that.
  2. I’ve always wanted to be a Pilot and still do. I fangirl over any pilot that walks by. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and here I am in law school.
  3. I am a hard-core non-vegetarian, so it was initially difficult for me to adjust with the vegetarian food on campus. I lost 6 kilos in my first semester!

Onto Jenny’s questions now

Q1. If you could make a live action re-make of your favorite Disney Film, who would be your dream cast?

A1. My favorite Disney movie would be Alice in Wonderland. I’d probably have Anne Hathway play Alice, Benedict Cumberbatch play The Mad Hatter, Morena Baccarin play the Red Queen and Nina Dobrev play the White Queen.

Q2. If you wrote a book, which genre would you choose and why?

A2. I would mostly go with Fantasy, simply because there’d be no restrictions to my imagination. Although this would make things difficult and simple at the same time, it would be a very  interesting experience.

Q3. Which Disney Character would you want to be best friends with?

A3. I’d say Mowgli, for his fun-spirited and pure soul.

Q4. Someone gives you €5, 000, you’re not allowed to save it, what would you spend it on?

A4. I’d probably spend every bit on travelling with my family.

Q5. If you could create a selection of products, what type of products would they be and what would you call them?

A5. Stationery, maybe. I can’t think of anything cute right now, but maybe RiKo.

That is all for Jenny’s Questions. Thank you so much for these fun questions. I had a great time answering them! Here are my questions-

Q1. Amongst the Disney Characters, who would you say is your spirit animal and why?

Q2. What are your pet peeves?

Q3.  What does your ideal Sunday look like?

Q4. Who is your favorite superhero and why?

Q5. What would your favorite childhood memory be?

And my nominees are

  1. StyledbyMcKenz
  2. Jessica Riga
  3. Ella May Garrett
  4. Miss Foodiefiesta
  5. Everything EmmZeeBee
  6. The confused Individual Blog
  7. A small wardrobe
  8. Sophie In Wonderland
  9. Natalie Vinh
  10. Yazad Writes

Thank you so much for the support and love! 
Lots and lots of love, 

Themysticalpanda 

Favorites- Studygrams 

Hey Everyone! Hope you had a lovely weekend. It’s Finals week here for me, and naturally I’ll be doing everything other than studying until the last 2 days, after which I’ll be frantic and have constant breakdowns. Please tell me you can relate.

I recently got acquainted with the concept of bullet journals and studygrams, and it’s surprisingly a brilliant way to motivate yourselves! I’ve been following a couple of studygrammers, and it’s definitely helped me to motivate myself. I thought i’d share some of my favorite studygrammers, to maybe help you through this dreadful week! 

1. Emmastudiess

I absolutely love her level of interaction with her followers. In addition to promptly answering any of your study related questions, she conducts live sessions quite frequently! Her feed is stunning and her sincerity in academics influences you positively. She also hosts a website complete with articles on tips and tricks to ace your course. 

2. Premedmotivation 

Another amazing feed! He captures the stress attached to being a university student all too well. His notes are way too pretty, to not be studied. And that’s the whole point of pretty notes. 

3. Lydia.studies

Handwriting goals! Her pictures have almost pushed me to buy bucket loads of stationery for myself. Before of course, I realized I was broke. 

4. Focusign

I want you to go check her feed right after you read this post. It’s waaay to pretty! Don’t ask questions. Do as I say!

5. Snjsstudies 

Aesthetics at its best. Her pictures are beautiful and I won’t be surprised if you spend a good 20 minutes admiring her feed and trying to replicate her bujo style. 

6. Amelia_studies

I only recently came across her feed and followed her page almost instantaneously. Yes, she’s that good. Go check her page out. I was left in awe. 

The dedication of these studygrammers have to some level motivated me to have prettier notes and focus on my studies. Hope this helps you out as well! Let me know who your favorites are or if you have any tips to make finals week less painful than it is! 

All the very best! 

Lots and lots of love, 

Themysticalpanda 

April Goals

Hey Everyone! Let’s all firstly give ourselves a pat on the back for getting through the week! I don’t know about you, but mine’s been hectic. And I’m so relieved to be done with it. 
So, here I am with my to do list for April! 
1. Books
I’ve only read around 5 pages of the book, and I can already tell that I’m going to love it! If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts on it! 


2. Movies 

Disclaimer- I don’t watch movies.

 Do not judge me when I say I haven’t watched La La Land as yet. As yet, because I’m planning on watching it this April along with the Movie Moana. Yes, I haven’t watched it either. I can see you scowling now. Stop it!
3. Lifestyle-I’ve recently attempted having Yoga as part of my morning routine, but that’s difficult when you’re a college student who puts off work until it’s almost impossible to finish it. I’ve been partly successful though. I’m also planning on running. That’s actually on my list for today. Check out my twitter account later during the day, if I did run. I know I’ll be terrible. The only marathons I participate in involve me, my laptop and my pizza with a side of coke and choco lava cake. Shoot me a hi5 if you can relate.

4. I also wish to explore Delhi more often and of course take you guys along though the blog! I might be off tomorrow. Updates on twitter!
I also hope to reach 50 followers by the end of this month. Show me some love and join my fellow pandas? 
Hope you have a lovely weekend!
Lots and lots of love,

themysticalpanda 

Book Review: “Colorful Notions”, Mohit Goyal

Currently basking in my laziness on my bed. It’s 11.43 am. Don’t get me wrong, I am a morning person. I wake up at 6 am everyday, weekends included. But this is what happens when everyone’s gone back home for Holi and you decide to stay back and are now bored out of your mind. Having completed my morning checklist, and in a desperate attempt to do something productive, I realized how I’ve slacked here. So, here I am with a book review! 

Colorful Notions by Mohit Goyal. Three Youngsters on a mission to cover the territory of India by road. And quite obviously things weren’t hunky-dory during the trip, or the book wouldn’t have been half as good. 

The characters have distinct personalities, each with a charm of their  own. Their choice of destinations provides them with an experience like no other. From being fear-stricken before tigers in Jim Corbett and haunted forts to attending rave parties in Goa and being robbed of all valuables including their ride home , they’ve done it all! A particular favorite of mine was the Biriyani Challenge in Hyderabad, since I could totally see myself doing it. It naturally got me feeling hungry and decided my lunch for today. Hopefully, the Biriyani from Moti Mahal satiates my hunger.

As the journey goes, we see relationships put to test. There are plots wherein life’s guilty pleasures take over rational minds to destroy the purest of relationships. How it’s important to understand that no one has it all. Their meeting with Dalai Lama’s pupils teaches us how gratitude and fresh perspective towards life makes battling issues so much simpler. 

The story ends on a beautiful note, with the characters attaining contentment, relationships being renewed  and embarking on yet another beautiful adventure of life. This time with clear purposes and a de-cluttered soul. 

A great read. 

Rating- 3

A very happy Holi to all! 

Lots and lots of love,

themysticalpanda 

Board Games

Sonepat Weather needs to get it together.
The months of February and March give the chills to almost every student in India, with the winters not to blame.
I’d given my Boards not so long ago. One of the most nerve wrenching periods of my life so far. You start measuring time in terms of chapters. Attending events, become contingent on the completion of certain number of numericals or chapters.
Your sleep cycle goes for a toss.
I’ve been through it all. And since the boards are right around the corner, I thought I’d do my part and help  out.
1. BREATHE- It’s completely alright to have anxiety, or nightmares of failing math. I’ve been there. The key is handling the stress and not letting it get to you.
2. BE CONSISTENT- Cramming the night before is a NO. It’s too important an exam to pull this off. Creating a Timetable definitely helps!
3. BOARD QUESTION PAPERS OF PAST TEN YEARS- I cannot stress enough on this point. It has helped me immensely in understanding the pattern of the papers and managing time.
4. TAKE BREAKS- We’re all well too aware with this point. Make sure to have a *reasonable* time off to flop onto your couch and spend time with non-academic beings.
5. GUIDES/ REFERENCE BOOKS- I would definitely recommend being thorough with your Text Materials before you begin solving advanced problems. The question formats are almost always from the Textbooks. Only after you’re done solving your textbook problems and if you have time on your hands should you move onto advanced materials.They may stress you out unnecessarily, however, if you’re working on clearing Competitive Exams, I wouldn’t stop you from attempting them.
6. Remember,this sheet of paper *will* not ruin/make your future.The Exam is only a stepping stone into your desired field. But getting the job you love, and living the life you’ve dreamt of, is a journey, in which the boards will play merely a marginal role.
You are so much more than your marks. 
You got this! 

All the best!

Lots and lots of love,
themysticalpanda

Book Review- Sudha Murty’s, “Wise and Otherwise”

Currently in my dorm room, all cozy under my blanket and my pair of socks with the hot dogs on them. I can’t wait for summers, the Sonepat winters are getting to me.

I’ve always wanted to read a book by Sudha Murty. We had one of her stories as an academic reading back in 10th grade, and I remember it being one of my favorites.

Sudha Murty’s ‘Wise and Otherwise’ is a collection of short stories, depicting instances from her life that left behind a message. A message so strong, she believed it was worth recollecting and penning it down. And it truly was.

Each story teaches you a lesson, lays down the bitter truth of life, and leaves you at a loss for words. There are stories that have touched my heart and others that angered me. I was saddened that I couldn’t brush some of it off as fictitious.

The world isn’t in the textbooks. You can only learn by experiences. And then can you be wise. Then can you tackle the unpleasantness. Then can you live.The book doesn’t provide anything new or eye-opening. We can all relate to the instances and are well aware of the negativity people have developed. But we’ve accepted it to be a phase and have chosen to flow with it. And that’s where the issue lies. We cannot be passive for long. It’s imperative that we take steps, small it may be, but towards positivity and happiness for all. And that’s exactly what the book screams.

 

 

Lots and lots of love,

themysticalpanda