Thursday, 28 June 2018

Spirits in a Spice Jar by Sarina Kamini: a review

If there are a few things in my life that I can't live without; food and books surely fall under the first two spots. When I first saw the promotions and then the cover of the book, I knew, there was no return for me. I had to read it. One fine morning, the publisher presented me with the book and I couldn't hold back my temptation. Sarina Kamini’s Spirits in a Spice Jar has, as I like to say: sugar, spice and everything nice about the book.

About the book- For Sarina Kamini’s Kashmiri family, food is love, love is faith, and faith is family. It's cause for total emotional devastation when ten years after her Australian mother is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, unaddressed grief turns the spice of this young food writer's heritage to ash and her prayers to poison. At her lowest ebb, Sarina's Ammi’s typed-up cooking notes become a recipe for healing, grief and loneliness- the daal that is too fiery and lumpen; the raita, too sharp; her play with salt that pricks and burns. In teaching herself how to personalise tradition and spirituality through spice, Sarina creates space to reconsider her relationship with Hinduism and God in a way that allows room for questions. She learns forgiveness of herself for being different, and comes to accept that family means change and challenge as much as acceptance and love.

For this long a blurb, all you need is a great book to follow. This one, was no different. I would like to first comment on the cover of the book. Wait. Let's take a moment to adore the cover first. Adorned with spices in a dark blue background, the cover is soothing to the soul. One of the finest covers of a book I've received in 2018, I must say. Then, you go to the contents and being the food lover I am, the names of the chapters made me fall in love with the book.

As I went through the prologue and the book chapter by chapter, I could feel myself to be a part of Sarina’s life. The best part I liked about the book was the descriptions of every spice. I could feel that I am using those spices in real time as I went through the book. Claimed as nonfiction and rightfully so, this book was more of a story/autobiography if I can call it. The book is a journey from how Sarina evolved as a human being, most of all, because of her relationship with spices.

Her relationship with salt and the other spices matches with mine and that made the book all the more worth it. I had a smile at the corner of my lips throughout my time of reading the book. The book, also, has recipes that are milestones for her life. Kashmiri recipes, cooked her way made me itch to cook. (Check my Instagram for a picture of this book along with a picture of aloo paratha that I made using the recipe mentioned inside). I feel that I was a part of seeing her children grow up, her relationship with her family and husband.

For the cons of the book I felt that I shouldn't comment on it since it was a personal account. But then again, keeping the review free of any kind of biasness I feel that the book should've had a bit more on the family scene (about the brothers) and of her husband. Also, a bit more of recipes and the connection with food. Barring these two, I loved the book and will go back to it from time and again. Looking forward to more from Sarina, I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Let's talk about guys, girls and sex by Swati Shome: a review

Some books attract you with their blurb. Some, with the title. While some, with their cover. Then again, there are books that attract you at first glance for the reason they are being written. Swati Shome’s Let's talk about guys, girls and sex is one book that formed the latter for me. Sex education is something that is a very pressing and important issue in today's time and I couldn't help myself after seeing a book that handles the very same issue.

About the back cover- Sex is never an easy subject to talk about. And that, perhaps, is why most people know so little about it. Let's talk about guys, girls and sex takes a light hearted yet illuminating stance and start a very important dialogue. The journey from teenage to adulthood is often the most daunting. And to make it even more complicated, there is heaps of seldom verifiable information online. Can you catch AIDS by having lunch with a HIV positive friend? What is an erection? Is this love or just lust? What are the different contraceptives available in the market? How does one get pregnant? Targeted at young adults and their parents, each chapter starts with a story that makes the topic easy to relate to. Author Swati Shome use her years of experience with young adults to open the channels of communication. Everything you need to know about the mystery That surrounds sex lies within these pages. So come on, let's talk!

One misconception that anyone can have after reading the title of the book is that the book is about porn. The very same misconception is disregarded by the author in the author's note itself when she says it is not porn and whoever will think that will be disappointed. It is about a modern approach to sex education, which is much needed in today's time. Divided into 7 parts and dealing with the most important issues of sex education this book is a much needed one in today's time.

Every chapter of this book starts with a story which forms that premise of the following chapter. That apart, every chapter deals with significant issues. As far as the book blurb is concerned, it just gives an idea of what the book is about. It is when you open the book, you get to see that the book is covering all the basics according to how you should breach the topic of sex with your parents, your students and how does it look and what are the troubles that you may face, the hormonal issues and it's about the people, about what happens and how the internet is responsible about it.

This gives a fair understanding of sex education in a very modern day possible way. One of the best things I felt about this book is that the motive of the author is very clear out here. The author never wanted to preach about sex education. She wanted to start a debate topic and a discussion amongst people and she became very much successful, according to me. The way the book has been written is very lucid and every single kind of a person will be able to read it without having a problem.  

If I have to speak about the cons of the book, then there aren't many. One of the few things that I felt missing in this book is probably a bit more stories or a bit more definition or rather examples of situations which would've made the book a more interesting read. I love the fact that there are illustrations at some places in the book and that is why it attracts my expectations more that if a few more illustrations could have been used then some places would have worked more. All in all I love the fact that there are helpline numbers at the end of the book. For me, hoping to read more from the author, I would rate this book, 4.5 out of 5. Also hoping, the book reaches where it should and makes the mark.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Nagin by Mayur Didolkar: a review

For everybody in today's time this is not a topic which has not been used. Starting from movies and carrying forward to television serials the stories of ichadhari Naags and Nagins are well known. Mayur Didolkar, in his book Nagin deals with exactly that; the most sought-after topic in today's world. When I first saw the book Nagin I actually thought that this would be a complete novel, had I not read what the back cover says about the book. So, here's what the back cover says, for you.

According to the back cover- Loving wife, obedient daughter, loyal friend. But if you provoke her, she will raise her hood and spit poison. A woman is stalked by a man she had once rejected. A housewife discovers a plot to kill her husband. A blind young girl is chased by an underworld gang. But these are no ordinary women. Some of them aren't even women. You have been warned.

The tagline of the book reads her love is fierce, her Venom is fatal. What is also exactly what the nine short stories in the book portrays to the audience. My thoughts with disrupted when I completed the first chapter and the understood that this is going to be a racy anthology. I usually do follow a rhythm but with this I wouldn't anymore as I used to with other anthologies so I will not comment on each and every story but would give a generalized review of the whole book. The first thing that I would like to talk about the book is that every story is extremely fast paced and not lengthy at all.

Once a story ends you would not feel that something was left amiss, as all the parts of the story are covered and then it ends. Every story also is not written on a random whim and fancy of the author. With a specific interest kept in mind, this book is for all kinds of audiences. I love the first story and trust me when I say the choice of making the story The first story couldn't have been better for the author. It creates a field for all the other stories that are to follow and a very strong field at that.

All the stories have presence of ichchadhari Nags and Nagins and even though set in the modern day world, it might also come as straight out of a folklore. What makes the book interesting is that every story is made believable to the audience. What makes the book a bit tedious for me at times is that, also along with ichadhari Naags and Nagins, there is the mention of other shape shifting creatures. Sometimes even those are the shape shifting creatures are the highlight of a particular story. That is something that put me off the book at times, because when you are reading the book knowing that it is all about Nags and Nagins you really would not want to know about any other shapeshifting creatures being the limelight of the story.

Apart from that if I have to speak about anymore cons of this story then I would like to say that I did not like the cover. The cover, to begin with, could have been a lot more better because the content of the book is not really what the cover depicts the content should have. If the book had rather a simple cover then I guess it would've been accepted more by a wider audience which would have worked for the favor of the book. All in all a very good read, I would like to read more from the author and rate this book 3.75 out of 5. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Brahmin by Ravi Shankar Etteth: a review

What do you do when you get from one of your favourite publisher, a book that catches your attention at first glance? Of course you read it! And that is exactly what I did with Ravi Shankar Etteth's The Brahmin. Exceptionally done in greys and black, the Brahmins shines as an individual cover amongst the many. One look at the book and you surely want to read this Masterpiece and so you go to read what the book is all about.

About the book- It is the time of violence as well as calm. Men of Peace are spreading the message of the Buddha even as monks are being tortured in the Dungeons of Patliputra. In Magadha, all task is about the impending war against Kalinga. While King Ashoka plots the movements of his ships and cavalry, Queen Asandhimitra broods over the growing unrest in the kingdom. There is only one man we can both trust to take them through this period of uncertainty and looming danger there is only one man they can both trust to take them through this period of uncertainty and looming danger: the enigmatically named Brahmin skillful spymaster and custodian of Magadha’s best kept secrets. Lush with historical detail and unforgettable characters the Brahmin  is an intricately plotted novel that seeks to recreate a near mythical period in India's past.

Yes, Oh yes who does not like to read about historical fiction. Especially among the very different kind of historical fiction present in today's market when you get something about King Ashoka, who I should mention has been one of my favourite people to read about in childhood in history textbooks, this book is surely a not miss. So with all these Expectations in my mind, I started this book and god this book didn't disappoint. We all know King Ashoka to be a ruthless king who changed, yes of course who changed but what happen during those times, and probably in the mythical way what exactly was the reason for sudden change? What triggered all these effects that you like only on history books, The Brahmin is sure that we take a different side of the story back with us.

Talking about the flow of the story, I would have to say that this is one of the best written historical fiction that have read off late. It maintains a steady flow throughout out the book, from the first page to the last and of course in the last pages the page quickens as the mystery throughout the whole holds solved. In such a historical fiction book which is lengthy, you are sure to have a lot of characters. These characters, you have to take a lot of time in remembering and understanding.

Tell me about the characters, I loved the portrayal of all of them. The best part about this book is that if you have to talk about One character then automatically another character comes. So to speak about all the characters specifically it would make this review very lengthy. To shorten that I would like to say that the entries and exits of the characters were exactly one point, barring a few which I feel could've been handled in a better way.

The way the author has dealt with history and fiction and mythology in this whole book is commendable, in turn, giving full justice to every single word that is written. Speak about the cons of the book, I will have to say that this book was too long for my liking and that is why I personally took so much of time in reading this book. If this book would have been a little shorter and crisper then I guess this would have gained all my accolades. For now, looking forward to more books from the author in the future I would give this 4.25 out of 5.