This House Of Clay And Water by Faiqa Mansab: A tale of forbidden love, freedom and the need to belong.

A story of two women and a transgender.

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All throughout my journey of reading this novel, the only thought that kept coming back, constantly hovering around was the inability to write a review that would do justice to the masterpiece that is This House of Clay and Water. How would I ever put into words what Mansab did so elegantly? And then I realized, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because a book like this one, needed to be read, to be preserved and referred to. What the author has portrayed through the book has so far only been scoffed at, or spoken in hushed tones. Her promising debut novel is a fresh voice to Pakistani Literature and is sure to create ripples for times to come. It’s not a story you forget easily. It keeps coming back, to stay with you. It’s a novel you often think about. It’s a story that becomes a part of you.

This House Of Clay and Water is a story of love, of freedom, of identity, of betrayal, of courage and the need to belong somewhere. It’s a story of three lost souls, who are trying to find meaning, who are trying to fit in, to have a purpose. It’s a story of two women and a eunuch. It’s about Nida, Sasha and Bhanggi whose paths are meant to cross each other. Nida, an intelligent woman, married to Saqib who belongs to an affluent political family, tries to comply to the standards society has set. Nida, is also our protagonist. Burdened by the patriarchal system and belonging to the elite class, she struggles constantly. Her imagination, her ideas, her feelings have been reduced to nothing. Her life is supposed to revolve around her marriage, her husband, whose idea of an ideal wife means being submissive to him and functioning according to his convenience. After all, that’s what a woman is for. Nida is broken. She says, “I’d morphed, altered, nipped and tucked away bits of my personality for so long, I no longer recognized myself. I feared that one day, even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to identify myself. I’d be forever trapped in an image of another’s making, and there would be no escape because I would have forgotten to want to escape” Sasha, on the other hand, belonging to a middle class family, married with two children, dreams of a luxurious life and an escape. Both the characters seem to be caught in a web of their own insecurities, hurt and shattered dreams. The third character, Bhanggi, a eunuch, belongs to the most neglected marginalised minority group in Pakistan. All his life, he’s been considered worst than pests, called a stain to humanity and beaten black and blue by everyone he comes across. He says, “I cannot rid myself of the affliction called hope. I scoop up its broken shards within the cups of my hands. I hold it fast to my heart every time it shatters against the monolithic reality that looms at every, in every human eye.” For Mansab, to attempt to portray a hijra as a normal person with natural feelings, is a brave effort. No other writer could have done it so beautifully.

The three characters; Nida, Sasha and Bhanggi meet at a Dargah. Here starts a bond of friendship and of love. The characters evolve and undergo drastic changes throughout the novel which makes it even more compelling. The plot is smart. The author’s narrative technique and form played an important role in transforming the story. Mansab transitions between first person narration and a free style. The reader will automatically adjust to the change because it’s not abrupt but rather smooth.

The novel is based in Lahore and the author has aptly described the social structure of the society; Where hypocrisy, money and power dictate how lives should be led. A society that still continues to uphold the patriarchal nature; who deems a woman to be less than man.

Any woman who had been with more than one man, even if it was within the bounds of holy matrimony, was considered a slut. Islam failed to impress men here. Though the religion they expunded upon every waking hour permitted a woman to remarry in case of death of the husband or divorce, she was deemed promiscouus if she took advantage of said law.

In the novel, Mansab, portrays the regressive nature of the people, of breaking stereotypes and how women continue to be exploited in the name of religion. It’s as much a story of redemption, of lost love as it is about outdated societal norms and disillusionment. This House Of Clay and Water is a powerful and moving novel, one that has dived deep into the psyche of humans and has opened up room for sensitive issues which are only discussed in closed rooms.

Some words are prisons. They’re labels of reduction. They’re like stones catapulting through mouths, hundreds and thousands of mouths, to target and hurt.


Author: Faiqa Mansab

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 272

Format: Harcover

Rating: 4.8/5

 

The Tree With A Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta: A story of war, bloodshed & fight for Justice.

A story of tormented Kashmir, of love, loss and terror.

If you could name heaven on earth, what would you choose? For Bilal, Deewan and Safeena, it was their Home, their safe heaven; Kashmir. A place where the skies looked like they’ve been constructed by a painter, where the mountains and rivers danced in their own rhythm and where trees have the gift to bore a thousand apples. Little did the three friends know that their innocent and fairytale life would be snatched away in the blink of an eye? Welcome to Kashmir, Srinagar, which is now a battleground, a place where ‘azadi’ has cost the lives of many and where peace is a distant dream.

The Tree with a Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta is a blood-curling testament about the lives of people living in war-torn Kashmir. It’s a chilling account of Bilal, Deewan and Safeena, who lose their family, turn into people they had sworn they would never turn into and who face adversity at the heart of it all.

Before the insurgency, Deewan Bhatt, Bilal Ahnagar and Safeena Malik were living a very normal life as friendly neighbors and friends. But the night of the insurgency changed everything. Deewan had to flee his home since he was a Kashmiri Pandit while Bilal and Safeena spent their lives living in terror and death. Bilal becomes a product of his circumstances and does what most youth of Kashmir did; pick up the weapon and fight for ‘Azadi’. Safeena, on the other hand, suffered terrible losses, became a nurse but eventually did the unthinkable. They meet again, after 20 years. Their lives have been turned upside down. Will they give in or will they fight for what’s rightfully theirs?

The novel is a socio-political thriller, covering the lives of the three friends as well as the transition of Kashmir from 1990-2013. It’s a coming of age story which talks not only about the political setup but also about the breaking apart of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims, the clashing of ideologies, the broken children and the need for unity. A Tree With A Thousand Apples is a sad tale about humanity. The price children, youth and adults pay when harmony refuses to co-exist.

Throughout the novel, there is a deep sense to belong somewhere, anywhere. There’s an isolation of sorts one that runs deep down your soul and there’s nothing you can do about it. Helplessness and anger at the top of it all. It’s a cry for peace; a cry to be together. The Author has woven magic with his unique and beautiful description of Kashmir. No other writing could have done justice to the magnificence that was once Kashmir. I loved the narrative technique, the writing is simple yet enthralling and the novel overall makes for a great,fast paced read.

The novel has been written in a time where hues of cry and justice are reverberated everywhere, where anger rides a human mind and the ability to live together is lost. If there’s one novel you should read, it has to be A Tree With A Thousand Apples.

 


Author: Sanchit Gupta

Publisher: Niyogi Books

Pages: 279

Rating: 4.2/5

Format: Hardcover

Blurb:

If the criminal was once a saint and the saint was once a criminal, then who is a criminal and who is a saint?

Inspired by true events, this riveting narrative traces the lives of Safeena Malik, Deewan Bhat and Bilal Ahanagar, three childhood friends who grow up in an atmosphere of peace and amity in Srinagar, Kashmir, until the night of 20 January 1990 changes it all.

While Deewan is forced to flee from his home, Safeena’s mother becomes ‘collateral damage’ and Bilal has to embrace a wretched life of poverty and fear. The place they called paradise becomes a battleground and their friendship struggles when fate forces them to choose sides against their will.

Twenty years later destiny brings them to a crossroads again, when they no longer know what is right and what is wrong. While both compassion and injustice have the power to transform lives, will the three friends now choose to become sinful criminals or pacifist saints?The Tree with a Thousand Apples is a universal story of cultures, belongingness, revenge and atonement. The stylized layered format, fast-paced narration and suspenseful storytelling makes for a powerful, gripping read

Reading Update.

A quick wrap up on what I’ve read and what I plan to read.

I AM BACK.

I have been avoiding writing blog posts and at first I was genuinly busy but then I didn’t feel like writing. I mean, I don’t even have a legit excuse for being below average at blogging and I have no remorse. But heyyyy, I am here now so let’s catch up?

My reading has been like Kolkata’s weather. Warm & sunny followed by incessant rain, thunder & lightning. It has ranged from reading 8 books in a month to barely managing one book. I was also the lucky recipient to uninvited reading slumps which as you might have figured hampered my reading. Since I’ve missed out on posting monthly wrap-ups, I’m going to briefly tell you what I’ve read and what I am currently reading.

May:

  • Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai: I loved this book. It was part of my MA syllabus and I was so glad I got to read it.
  • Baaz by Anuja Chauhan: You can read my review to know what I think about this one. Review: BAAZ

June: 

July:

  • Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra: Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain
  • The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • The Ice Twins by S.K.Tremayne

August: 

  • A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashmi: Easily one of my favourite books of the year.
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • What Kitty Did by Trisha Bora: What Kitty Did by Trisha Bora
  • A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir
  • Three Psychos by Yash Pawaskar

 

I am currently reading Mr.Mercedes by Stephen King which is my first novel by the author. I understand I am late to the King bandwagon but it’s better late than never, right? I will write a review once I am done reading it. I am hoping to start with IT by King since the movie releases this friday and I want to read the book and prepare myself before watching the movie. It’s unlikely that I’ll watch the movie in theatres since the book is a 1000 pages long! I don’t even remember the last time I read such a thick book. It’s going to be a task, a difficult one. Other than that, I have no set TBR pile since I never follow it. I have a problem with sticking to rules even if I set them myself. I do, however, like challenges which brings me to my Goodreads challenge. It gives me great pleasure to announce I’ve read 34 out of 50 books so far with 4 months still left. I think I am pretty much on track and I MIGHT finish reading all 50 books before the year ends but let’s not get too ambitious.  I also got done with MA exams and I’m awaiting results. It feels oddly weird not having to worry about exams or anything yet feels so incomplete. Being a student sucks but it also has its own charm.

That’s all from my side. Here’s to hoping you hear from me soon.

Also, what are you currently reading?

Three Psychos by Yash Pawaskar

Three Psychos narrates three different stories from three different point of views. Each bizzare and unique.

When I read the blurb for this particular book, the stories seemed bizzare and completely out of the box. Three Psychos seemed too complicated and I wondered if the author would be able to engage its readers. A few pages in and I was quite impressed.

Three Psychos by Yash Pawaskar narrates three chilling stories, each unique and twisted on its own. The human mind has the habit of playing scenarios that are often a series of illusions. The protagonists in each story are living in their own bubble, often away from reality. Psychology is the study of human behaviour but how can one study such extreme behaviours? Is there one methodology or technique? That’s where we hit a dead end. Because believe it or not, humans are unpredictable and a tad bit crazy. And in the case of Three Psychos, completely crazy. I felt a series of emotions ranging from utter hate for the protagonists to empathy to denial.

The narrative technique of the writer is commendable as he was able to blend fantasy, psychological thriller and romance under one umbrella. Such qualities in a story is difficult and challenging. The writing style is easy flowing with the author giving philosophical and profound insights about life and death. Here’s one such quote:

Death teaches a lot about life. I don’t understand why people are afraid of death. It is just another part of life, albeit the last part of life as far as we know. It is just like any other phase of life: you are born, you grow up, go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, have kids and..die. We are scared when we approach all these stages, and overcome the fear when someone who has faced it tells us that it is all right, that they have experienced it too and that you can sail through it.

However, no one has shared their after-death experience. Thus, the fear of unknown is what scares people. Who knows? Maybe it is not that bad, maybe it’s all sunshine and rainbows.

A naked man stuck in a white box, a hospitalized patient who talks to aliens and is apparently on a mission and a teenage boy who is on a killing spree make up for the three psychos in Yash Pawaskar’s novel. You will be hooked right from the beginning and will only stop when you have all the answers. If psychological thriller is your genre, then Three Psychos would be a great pick.

You can buy the book from here: Amazon


Author: Yash Pawaskar

Publisher: Dimple Publication

Rating: 3.8/5

Format: Paperback

Pages: 157

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Three Thrilling Stories, One Gripping Novel. In the first tale, a naked man is trapped inside a white box. His only company: ‘DE22912’. How long can he survive? The second story, ‘Patient Number 9’, is about a hospitalized patient who must save Earth from an alien attack by blue pig-like creatures. The countdown has just begun. In the third narrative, an angry sixteen-year-old gets hold of a loaded revolver and is determined to make use of all ‘Six Bullets’. And no, it’s not a toy. The three psychos are part of a connected universe, set in a novel with innovative storytelling, witty narration and an entertaining mix of thrill, humour and drama.

What Kitty Did by Trisha Bora

A clever, witty and delightful take on what it’s like being an adult.

I started reading What Kitty Did after hearing only praises about the genius that Trisha Bora baked. Upon reading a few chapters, I knew why. The novel is cleverly written, it has an element of suspense and drama without being serious. It’s packed with wit and sarcasm and occasional puns that make it a delightful read. For a debut novel, Trisha Bora was successful at bringing a fresh take on the life of a 20-something year old..

Meet Kitty aka Ketaki Roy, a millennial, who is freshly out of college with an English Literature degree, trying to make a real cut in this fast-paced, utterly uncompromising world. Working in a fashion magazine named Poise, our protagonist struggles to live up to the demands of her work. Kitty comes off as irresponsible and rather below average at her job and making terrible situations when it comes to the matter of the heart. She struggles to manage a decent job, her relationships whilst drinking at the drop of a hat and partying. Despite her outrageous lifestyle, Kitty comes off as highly relatable. There’s something about her that attracts the readers’ attention.

No one tells you how things actually work out. No one writes a children’s book warning kids about how shit life can be.

Assigned to work on a piece about the late celebrity, Roxanne, Kitty unintentionally dives straight into what could be called a potential murder. Not realizing what she’s gotten herself into, Kitty decides to take up the challenge and find out who murdered the famous actress. Here starts the real fun. From trespassing to late auto-rides, to practically putting herself in the mouth of danger, Kitty battles it all. The novel becomes a page-turner when Kitty starts unfolding the mystery leading to the murder.

The references in the novel are any Literature student’s dream. If you’re someone who has a passion for the written word, you’d understand the analogies. There’s a lot of shade being thrown at Lit students and being one myself, I couldn’t stop laughing at the harsh reality. Take for instance,

Journalism has ensured I will never ever live in such places. If only I had Tiger Mother-ed my brain and done an MBA or some such….Not only does English Lit offer pathetic career choices, it also ensures total cock-blocking to wondrous real estate.

Kitty ‘s sense of humor is self-deprecating, she tries to hide behind a mask of sarcasm and wit and tries to escape situations much like the rest of us. Always relying on her best friends, the protagonist sees through life’s trials and tribulations, stumbling but eventually rising up again. What Kitty Did is refreshing as it takes on a whole new perspective about what it’s like stepping into “Adulthood”.

 


Author: Trisha Bora

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Rating: 3.9/5

Pages: 305

Format: Paperback

 

Blurb:

Kitty Roy has more troubles than she can count on her fingers. Her love life is wonky, her paycheck is shit. She has badly behaved hair and struggles with a sugar addiction. To top it off, her pushy mother has set her up with a gorgeous but stuck-up guy who is sending her mixed signals.

When a diplomat’s celebrity wife, Roxy Merchant, falls dead during dinner at their posh central Delhi bungalow, Kitty’s boss gives her a chance to write a profile piece and the hint of a promotion. As she works on her article, Kitty realizes there’s more to Roxy Merchant’s death. She’s on to something big, and it can, perhaps, change her current life forever. But Kitty also has a knack for bungling things up majorly.

Set in the winter of her discontent, What Kitty Did is an irresistible caper zipping through the streets of Delhi.

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

A romantic comedy that is funny, contemporary and sharp.

 

A makeup artist working day & night, living life on her own terms, making decisions for herself suddenly lands up in a situation where she is constantly trying to prove her worth, juggling between work and social life. The cause of her distress and the reason why she sees stars in the daylight is Akshay Agarwal, the man of her dreams.

Misha, our protagonist, is a fun-loving, cheerful girl, who is trying to pursue her dream of being a professional make-up artist. After several failed relationships, Misha finally meets Akshay, who unlike other boys is everything she could ever dream of. Owner of the Aggarwal Jewellers, Akshay is a hot-shot who has a lavish lifestyle and his clothes along with his smell, reek of expensive brands that you can’t even pronounce. He falls in love with Misha’s unconventionality, her quirkiness and upfront attitude. Despite belonging to the elite class, Akshay is humble and down to earth. The chemistry between Misha and Akshay is sizzling. They’re an embodiment of young love, passion and desire. However, as John Green once said, ‘Life is not a wish-granting factory’, our loving couple, face tough time ahead.

Enter, Didi, Akshay’s third parent. Misha soon realizes that pleasing her sister-in-law is more difficult than she imagined. She has to live upto the unbelievably high standards set by Didi, follow the traditions of the Aggarwal family and give up on her dream to become a make-up artist. Will Misha succumb to the demands and sacrifice her life & career to be the ‘bahu’ of the Aggarwal family? Or will she pursue her dream regardless of the societal standards forced onto her? That’s for you to read and find out!

Vibha Batra’s writing style is smooth, simple and extremely fun to read. It’s safe to say the book is a laughter riot. Several instances in the novel are quite hilarious. Misha’s references to bollywood, Big Bang Theory are sure to leave you in splits. Apart from that, Vibha has pointed out a rather gloomy picture of Indian standard for women. The judgemental nature and superficial display of affection is deep-rooted within the Indian families even today. Women face a lot of pressure to give up their jobs after marriage and working women are considered a failure when it comes to maintaining their personal life. Why, after so much progress and empowernment, women are still not able to decide for themselves? Why can’t women have a steady job AND a happy personal life? The reality is distressing. However, one can only hope for a more progressive mindset. The author also tackles a number of inhibitions about an independent working girl. Vibha shares her flat with her friend, Sammy, who belongs to the opposite sex. This is met with shock and disbelief by Didi, who resents Misha’s life choices and living arrangements.

Akshay also represents a man with strong beliefs and ideals, one who never backs from lending his full support to Misha and encourages her to work hard for her career. He refuses to conform to the rules and norms of his Sister and the Indian society at large. He is a full blown Feminist.

(Just when I thought i’d not swoon over a fictional character, Akshay pops up, eh.)

Another important and recurring theme in the novel is self-love, one that most of us overlook. Misha might come across as an independent-confident girl but deep down inside she suffers from low self-esteem and insecurities. She isn’t happy with her physical appearance or her distraught relationship with her parents. She is too harsh on herself and needs constant validation to feel accepted.

From Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi to wearing the latest collection of M.A.C lipsticks, to a high-end lifestyle and sizzling romance, Glitter and Gloss has it all! I am not one to read Rom-com but this particular novel is fresh and crisp despite having a few cliché moments.

Lovers of contemporary romance and YA, would find themselves flipping through the pages and smiling a devilish smile at having come across a book that’s oh-so-relatable!

What are you waiting for? Grab your book now

 


Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Format: e-book

Rating: 3.9/5

What are you waiting for? Grab your book now

Window Seat By Yashluv Virwani

A collection of short stories that speak of lost love, failed marriages, harships and life.

The smell of coffee, the hustle and bustle of a busy street, the touch of someone you love coupled with moments that seem like a dream along with literature and poetry are only a few of the serene experiences that have been narrated in Window Seat. It is an anthropology of short stories that has portrayed human idiosyncrasies in its purest form.

Debut author Yashluv Virwani has weaved beautiful stories in his novel Window Seat that transcend beyond boundaries, race and religion. There are 8 stories in the novel; each distinct and profound yet hypnotising making the readers come back for more.

The author has played with words in a way that casts spells on the reader. His words are soothing, hit right on the spot and add life and meaning to the characters. Speaking of which, characters in Window Seat are different from each other, their imperfections have been brilliantly played. The characters are you and me, they’re every person walking down the street, sitting in cafes, going to movies. The characters are us. And that’s what makes them so relatable. You can almost see your reflection in them and wonder how the author penned you down.

From poetry to detailed descriptions to breathtaking characters to burning passion and love, Window Seat is everything a good novel is made of. It’s a quick read and I’m sure you’d complete it in one sitting.

 

Blurb: What does a Window Seat remind you of? Your apartment in a high-rise building, in the lap of your couch, a cup of chai in your hand, a song on your lips, as you watch the world outside, with its share of glittering streetlights, honks and smoke, flow? Or the incessant journeys you undertake, in buses or trains, with music digging deep in your ears, as you see miles and miles of untamed wilderness ? I want you to go back to your childhood, in the cosy arms of the eldest member in your family, who, using the threads of magic, weaved a parallel existence around you, transporting you to a place away from all the things that bind you – because that is the land where stories work – a land that has no cages, only freedom.

Publisher: Half Baked Beans

Pages: 110

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

 

You can buy the book here: Amazon

Disclaimer: Received the copy from Half Baked Beans. Views are my own.

Book Review: Option B

“Seeking joy after facing adversity is taking back what was stolen from you”

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 176

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

I don’t know anyone who has been handed only roses. We all encounter hardships. Some we see coming; others take us by surprise. It can be as tragic as the sudden death of a child, as heartbreaking as a relationship that unravels, or as disappointing as a dream that goes unfulfilled. The question is: When these things happen, what do we do next?

Life, as we know it, is unpredictable. You’re walking down the road in your freshly cleaned and ironed white shirt only to have mud splashed across your entire body. You’re standing on the road, hailing abuses at the vehicle who did it, but there’s only so much you can do. Or maybe accidently dropping the scoop of icecream you’d been wanting to savour. These are small almost unimportant terrible things that happen. What does one do when they fail at an important phase of their life? How do you react when you lose a family member? Where do you go when you’re fighting to live?

You want to give up. Leave everything. And escape. But you don’t. You wake up every day, confused, miserable, but still ready to move on. When there’s no Option A, you kick the shit out of Option B. That’s exactly what this novel by Sheryl Sandberg is all about. To find the light at the end of the tunnel, to find the silver lining and learn to live some form of Option B.

The sudden death of Sheryl’s husband turned her world upside down. It came as a blow, one she thought she could never recover from. To make it worse, she couldn’t think of a life where her children would grow up without having a father. Happiness seemed like a distant dream. Sheryl feared her children would never find happiness again. They would never be normal. She would never be normal. Adam Grant, psychologist at Wharton and a dear friend of Sheryl jumped to the scene. Together they discovered how to cope with adversity and build resilience. Talking about Resilience Sheryl says:

I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strenght and speed of our response to adversity–we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.

So began a lifelong journey of Sheryl coping with the loss of her husband, maintaining her job as the COO of Facebook and ensuring her kids grew up to be strong and resilient. One of the foremost principle’s used in the book are the 3Ps that stunt recovery. This was formulated by psychologist Martin Seligman when he was studying how people deal with setbacks.

  • Personalization: The belief that we are at fault
  • Pervasiveness: The belief that an event will affect all areas of our life.
  • Permanence: The belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.

Studies have shown that the minute adults and children accept that they’re not in control of every situation, that they’re not to blame and that these hardships won’t follow them everywhere and will not affect all aspects of life, they recover quickly.

The book follows Sheryl’s everyday struggles which included attending her children’s school events alone or celebrating birthdays without her better half. One of the important points mentioned in the book which I personally found interesting was ‘focusing on worst-case scenarios’. Adam went on proposing that instead of trying to find the positives in an utterly miserable situation, one should think of how worse the current situation could be. I mean, come to think of it, you’re alive and reading this review right now( well, I hope you are). And the gift of life is probably the biggest gift ever. In Sheryl’s circusmtances, Adam reminded her that her husband, Dave, could have died while driving their children to school. His statement sent chills down her spine overwhelming her. She realized her children were still with her and that gratitude took over grief.

Option B is a sum total of not just Sheryl’s loss. It has tremendous stories of people from all walks of life who have defied all the odds, survived at the face of adversity and have overcome illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters and the violence of war. Not only do these stories inspire they also teach us how to persevere in times of hardships. They reveal how strong human capacity is and that pain usually bows down when faced with people who refuse to beaten by their circumstances.

I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.

Failure can either make you or break you. It’s easy saying you learn from failures. It’s difficult being on the receiving end. Talking about failures, Sheryl says, “Not only do we learn more from failure than success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely”. Imagine if we’d stop walking when we were little because we kept falling every time?

The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way. There are always things you can do better. It’s a game of mistakes

—-Greg Popovich

I spent most of my time underlining and making notes because Option B does offer deep insights and there’s so much to learn from the book. The writing style is simple, it’s not preachy and Sheryl has described her emotions in a raw and unfiltered way. You can feel the emotions deeply but at the same time there’s a sense of hope and faith that pain is temporary.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

Sometimes it takes going through something so awful to realize the beauty that is out there in this world.

Review: BAAZ

An unputdownable, heroic and extremely well-researched story.

Author: Anuja Chauhan

Publisher: Harper Collins India

Pages: 424

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

Anuja Chauhan is back with her latest novel, ‘Baaz’, that delivers more than it promises. Known for her highly relatable, swoon worthy and unconventional characters, Chauhan, has once again proved her worth as a writer who knows her craft. Set in the backdrop of the Bangladeshi War of 1971, BAAZ, is a story of Ishaan ‘Faujdaar’ from a village called Chakkahera, Haryana who is known as the top lad of IAF, flying the Gnat, a tiny fighter plane known to make heads turn and create havoc for the enemies.

Meet, Tehmina Dadyseth. A studentof Miranda House, Delhi, often misunderstood as an anti-national. She’s a pacifist. She believes in peace. Losing her brother Jimmy has been hard on her and her father more than makes up for her misery. When forced to marry, she runs. A fiesty, ambitious and a kind-hearted soul, Tehmina also known as Tinka, resorts to creating her own life by becoming a photo-journalist in the midst of war.

The story starts slowly, unfolding details that are meant to be absorbed till it reaches the mercury level and BAM. It’s fast paced, full of humour & fun smartly touching on several issues such as nationalism, social prejudices, refugees and the status of women in post-independent India. Add some fighter planes with goodlooking men clad in handsome uniforms; BAAZ makes for an exciting read.

Since Anuja Chauhan is an Army Brat herself having spent a considerable amount of time in cantonments, she described the life of the Army forces efficiently, where sorties take place in the blink of an eye, where manouevering a flying jet required more than learning lessons in class and where courage tops all the requirements. It is a well-researched book giving insight about our men in the Air Force.

Apart from the two main characters, Chauhan’s book, entails other deeply narrated characters who form a soft spot for every reader. Here, Raka and Maddy, Ishaan’s constant support from Air Force Flying College, Jodhpur, share a camaraderi that makes the novel what it is. Be it their endless bickering to offering support for each other’s love interests to being ready to lay down their lives, these three show their skills not just up in the air but prove their mettle when required to.

The themes of distraught parental relationship along with close sibling bond has been a central focus in BAAZ. If Ishaan struggles to impress his step-father, an orthodox, Haryanvi man, who considers his step-son nothing but a nuisance then Tehmina has to face her father who imposes his opinions on her. While Ishaan finds a home in Raka & Maddy, Tehmina confies in her aunt, Kung Fui.

The question therefore lingers; Do Ishaan & Tehmina find solace in each other? Will a patriot who would do anything for his country even if that means killing thousands be able to give his heart to a woman who is a pacifist, who believes fighting & killing is nothing but animal behaviour? The chemistry between our hero & heroine is nothing short of sizzling. It has an element of drama, laughter and romance that’s anything but cheesy.

From breath-taking air stunts to dropping missiles on enemy lines to falling hopelessly in love, Baaz is an engaging-page turner, that is hard to put down. Once you start reading, you’re going to dive ekdum BAAZ-maaphik, to find out what happens.

 

April Wrap Up + Birthday Book Haul

A month in reading, birthday gifts and beach-ing!

I begin every post by expressing how utterly overwhelmed I feel at the pace time is running. Today is just the same. April has been the dullest month for me. Other than that, I spent most of my time sulking, putting off reading and writing. Or studying. But like I promised, I’m going to talk about my failures as much as my laurels(if any, lol). Oh, I also went for a vacation with my family which is probably the highlight of the month. So, YAY.

I managed to read 3 books. In terms of blog posts, I wrote 4. Let’s take a look:

  1. Iridescence: A poetry book with pictures which I absolutely loved. You can find the review here: Review: Iridescence
  2. Intentional Smile: A girl’s guide to positive living. Again, another book that’s written simply and has important things to ponder over and understand. Review: Intentional Smile
  3. Handmaid’s Tale: I’m sure most of you have been watching The Handmaid’s Tale series directed by Bruce Miller. Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t quite like this book. I had huge expectations with the book and the plot but it failed to make any impression on me. I think I had trouble getting used to the writing style and the way the story was crafted. Again, cheers if it’s your favourite book or if you’re loving the TV adaptation. Not a book I would read again.

 

I started reading The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain. I am still in the process of completing the above mentioned novels and safe to say I’m struggling. That’s the thing about classics; you have a love/hate relationship with them.

On to the exciting part. I received SOOO many books this month since it was my birthday and my sister and lovely bookstagram friends ensured I was stocked up.

  • A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashmi (I’d been whining over getting my hands on this book since as far as I can remember)
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Mr.Mercedes by Stephen King( My frist ever King novel)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R.CAREY
  • The Ice Twins by S.K.Tremayne
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Looking forward to reading all of the books. My excitement level is over the roof.

 

How did your reading go? Let me know!