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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James Russell’s “The Mason Jar”

Don’t get me wrong, but I believed that this book would make me cringe with all the romance and the cheesiness. But I was wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the book! 
It was a short and sweet tale between two individuals, deeply in love, but separated by fate. The time and distance between the two failed to put out their love for one another. Finn, crushed by the separation sets out to rejuvenate, and writes a book on his treasured time with Emily. As life would have it, their love rekindled after several years, this time stronger. 
I loved the book! My favorite part would have to be the letters shared between Finn and his Grandad. They were inspiring, and left me wiser. I loved the plot and the structure. The writing style was beautiful. 
I for one, found the ending quite cliched. The ending I believed could’ve been tweaked to include something different or maybe their reunion could’ve been longer and more dramatic. 
The book, otherwise is a wonderful read! 

I’d rate it a 4/5!

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: Wilbur Smith’s Desert God

Hi Everyone! Hope you’re summer’s going well! I can’t believe summer break’s almost over *sniffs back a tear*

I recently  read the Desert God by Wilbur Smith. It’s a Historical Novel set up in the early ages in the Middle East. I tried experimenting with a new genre and here’s my review!

I loved the book! It was a favorable shift from philosophy and chic flics to adventure. The story just gave me Game of thrones vibes throughout! So yes, the book gets gory at places, but I was normalized thanks to the Game of Thrones series. 

Lord Taita, a man possessing impeccable strength and intelligence, plots to bring his kingdom to victory and peace by means of a meticulous plan against the Hyksos. They face innumerable challenges during its execution, including the princesses budding love for their warriors. Which path will Taita choose? Will Taita and his warriors’ resilience and bravery bring them glory?

the details in the story were absolutely incredible! It really did take me to a different world. The royal lives aren’t always rosy. They possess everything and nothing. The gold and silver they don aren’t a measure of happiness. 
I absolutely loved the characters in the book. Their personalities were well laid out, each so different and wonderful. My favorite would be Zaras, one of the lead commanders. His loyalty towards his duty and responsibilities, even where his life’s desires were snatched away, were commendable. 

Although the book was a tad bit heavy with the words, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure novel!

I’d rate this book a 4/5!

If you’ve read the book, let me know what you think of it!
Lots and lots of love,

Themysticalpanda 

Book Review- Savi Sharma’s Everyone has a Story

Hi Everyone! So, clearly I’ve been having a lot of time on my hands lately. I just finished another book! It’s Savi Sharma’s Everyone Has a Story.Here’s my review. 

The story revolves around 4 characters, Nisha, Kabir, Vivaan and Meera. Meera, a budding story teller is in search of a tale that would move souls and have an impact on readers. She dreams about the time she would read her story to avid readers like herself, while attentively listening to the authors presenting their work in the cafe. Kabir an employee at the cafe and a friend of Meera is a source of motivation and encouragement for Meera’s dream. Nisha, a long-lost customer at the cafe, guarding her own dark secrets, ends up being one of her best friends. She finally comes across Vivaan, assistant bank manager of Citibank, igniting an idea for a plot. In her sessions at the Cafe, she attempts to decrypt Vivaan. Amidst these interactions, stories and events unfold, revealing information and struggles of each of the characters. As she pens her growing relation with Vivaan, she realizes that there are certain people who leave a mark on you, freeing you from the mental boundaries and encouraging you to grow and work persistently towards your goals. 
I wasn’t quite impressed with the storyline. I found the plot quite stretched out and there were elements that were amiss. Although there were attempts at humour, I found them weak. The philosophical aspect was nothing out of the ordinary. There will be some people that will bring out the best in you, and will make you do things that you may have never imagined. This wasn’t anything new, or untold. I’d hoped I would maybe grab something about life, love and friends that i’d never come across before. I found the story quite ordinary, but not completely disappointing. 
I’d rate the book a 2.5 on 5.
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 

Review: The Hudson Cafe

Currently on my cozy bed, engulfed under the comforter. Update on the Sonepat weather: It’s complicated. The weekend’s here! A couple of us decided to wander the streets of Delhi yesterday. It was beautiful, really. The colour of different styles of jewelry and export rejects had people swarming in on this Saturday morning.

The central idea of our plan, however was to have lunch at The Hudson Cafe, at GTB Nagar, Delhi. We could barely move at the end of lunch.
To start off, the ambience was great! The music, the decor, the furnitures, complementing each other.

The service wasn’t bad too. Although, I believed it could be faster.

College students like ourselves can’t exactly resort to fine dining. We need affordable and delicious food. Ah! The struggle. But The Hudson Cafe, specializes in just that.

Let’s cut to the chase now. 

The dishes were amazing!

1. Leo Pizza

Crunchy, Cheesy. It’s not always I come across the right amounts of the two. But these guys nailed it.



2. Buffalo wings

It wasn’t disappointing. But wasn’t all that flavorful either. But look how beautiful it is! 


3. Red Velvet Cheesecake

It was delicious! Could’ve been better though. It wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be.


4. Baked Mac and Cheese (Chicken)

The best I’ve ever had.


5. Brownies and Cookies Shake

Couldn’t get enough of it. It was great! We tried the Chocolate and peanut butter shake and the Chocolate Malt milkshake as well. All three were loved.

I would definitely recommend the Cafe to you, if you’re new to Delhi. If you aren’t, you should be well aware of this delicious corner. If you aren’t, under what exactly are you living?
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