Saturday, February 28, 2015

Read Review: Lean In

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by WH Allen (first published March 11th 2013)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Lean In: Women, Work And The Will To Lead is a book that was written as a result of a TED conference in 2010, which revolved around the discussion that there are very few women in leadership positions. Even though it has been thirty years since women made up half the number of college graduates in the US, males still hold the majority of leadership positions. This translates that women aren’t being heard in major decisions that affect the lives of individuals in these modern times.

Sandberg tells women that they would never receive the same recognition as men, unless they are willing to make certain changes in order to prevent stagnation. She further throws light on the current state of women in the corporate arena of America, explaining that there are only 21 women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies in the US, and 22 out of 197 women hold the position of heads-of-state. Globally, women hold only 20 percent of parliamentary positions. She tells women to sit at the table, have faith in themselves, and shoot for the top. Sandberg also explains that the rate of divorce would decrease greatly if women pulled in half the household income. Apart from income, she also states that men and women should share equal responsibilities at household work. This book has almost 30 pages of footnotes as a result of Sandberg’s proof for her claims.

Sandberg also opens up to the readers by penning down her insecurities in college, and the time she cried in the presence of her boss. She also recounts the time when she had to negotiate her pay with Facebook. Lean In: Women, Work And The Will To Lead is a must-have for women who desire to overcome their pre-conceived ideas and anxieties to achieve the success they always wanted.

My sister first read this book and then recommended it to me. And I loved it to bits. This women voices the opinions of women like me who believes in and advocates equality between genders. The personal anecdotes makes it more real and connecting. Of course the author has various statistics to support what she is saying.

The author tells through the book what we should do and what needs to be done to really bring about equality between the genders. To me, the book also felt like a tribute to all those men who have continuously treated their female partners and colleagues at par with themselves. I would recommend this book to all men and women, whether they are working or homemakers.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review #32: The Path Is The Way

Name: The Path Is The Way
Author: Mohit Badoni
No. of Pages: 180
Genre: Fiction-General
Publisher: BecomeShakespeare.Com
Price: Rs. 199/-
Published in: 2015

The blurb of the book says:
Vijay Amrit Raj Sharma, a young Indian Army Officer is critically injured in a cordon and search operation, Struggling between life and death, he recalls the lessons that life and his grandfather have taught him. The young officer survives his gunshot wound only to find out that he has survived to pay back for his sins.

Embarking on a journey to find a way to wash away his sins, Vijay discovers love, friendship, passion, greed, despair and finally, hope.

Like a flowing river, The path itself becomes the way with an invisible world manifesting itself in the visible world to grasp the mysteries of human morality and the quest of redemption.

About the author:
Lt. Col. Mohit Badoni was commissioned into the 12th batallion of the Rajputana Rifles in 1999. An alumni of the Indian Military Academy, the author had three field tenures in Jammu & Kashmir, where he had been actively deployed in counter terrorist operations including a tenure with The Rashtriya Rifles. Currently, the officer is serving in High Altitude in Arunachal Pradesh. The officer has also been actively deployed in the desert sector during Operation Parakram and served in line of control Operation Vijay. The author has vast experience in Ammunition, Counter IED and is qualified in CBRN warfare. The author already has a published novel to his credit, 'CROSSROADS', which was published in the year 2010, when he was serving the Rashtriya Rifles. The author is a vivid writer, and has been contributing to professional articles in military journals. Writing fiction is his passion and he wants to reach out to the world through his writing, with a message behind every story that he intends to tell.

Cover: The cover shows a man looking at a flowing river.

Writing: The writing is simple.

Story: The protagonist, Vijay, grows up in the hill-station of Mussoorie with his grandfather. He loses his mother at birth and his father a few years later. In college he meets Philip and Radha who become his best friends. Amidst unrest and desires, he loses them both in different ways. He joins the Indian Army but after surviving a gun-shot he decides to quit. When he is finally comes face to face with the darkness inside him, he decides that it's time for redemption. He finally dedicates his life for a better cause and hopes to be forgiven.

The plot and the storyline had potential but it was told in a very plain manner. As a reader, I could not connect with the characters. The plot has woven well into real incidents like the struggle for formation of the Indian state of Uttaranchal, Kargil War and the devastating Uttaranchal floods. It is an average book which had the potential to become a good one.

I give "The Path Is The Way" 3 stars on a scale of 5.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Read Review: The Vine of Desire

The Vine of Desire (Anju and Sudha #2) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Anchor (first published February 19th 2002)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The beloved characters of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s bestselling novel Sister of My Heart are reunited in this powerful narrative that challenges the emotional bond between two lifelong friends, as the husband of one becomes dangerously attracted to the other.

Anju and Sudha formed an astounding, almost psychic connection during their childhood in India. When Anju invites Sudha, a single mother in Calcutta, to come live with her and her husband, Sunil, in California, Sudha foolishly accepts, knowing full well that Sunil has long desired her. As Sunil’s attraction rises to the surface, the trio must struggle to make sense of the freedoms of America–and of the ties that bind them to India and to one another.

Well, I didn't like it the way I did the prequel. In "Sister of My Heart", the narrative was in Anju's and Sudha's voice alternatively. But in this sequel, Anju was not given a voice at all. The narrative was a mixture of first and third person. I was already used to Anju's and Sudha's voice and so somewhat biased.

Anju had planned to bring Sudha and Dayita to America to give them a new life. But she lost Prem, she needed Sudha for herself. But Sunil in such close proximity with Sudha spells disaster. On the other hand, Ashok wants to marry Sudha. Then Sudha meets Lalit in America. In new premises, equation between the two sisters change forever, affecting other lives as well.

I liked Anju more and so was really disappointed when she was not given a voice. However, writing of the author is amazing as ever. The way she molds and depicts her characters is enchanting. Reading her work is truly a delight. If you want to what happens to Anju and Sudha, you have to read this one.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review #31: Black Grey & White

Name: Black Grey & White
No. of Pages: 138
Genre: Social
Publisher: Hoffen
Price: 225
Published in: 2014

The blurb of the book says:
This book gifts its reader’s five fantastic short stories that have a common aim – to spread awareness about AIDS. It is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against AIDS and show their solidarity for HIV positive people. This book is an eye opener for everyone who wishes to see the wave of positive change in society. Everyone including the brave hearts Savita, Chintu and Mithali have the right to live with their heads held high without fear of social ostracization. Life does not have to be like this. The time is ripe to act now with one’s sense and sensibility. Break the myths. Come, be the change!

About the author:
Santosh Avvannavar: Santosh started his career as a consultant and Soft Skills Trainer. After his college education from NITK, Surathkal, he worked as a researcher at University of Eindhoven, University of Twente, and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He was also the Placement President while working at IISC, Bangalore. He has over twenty-five publications of mostly research documents in national and international journals. He has also authored sixteen conference papers and regularly writes articles for a national and worldwide daily paper. He also works as an advisor for different organizations.

He also dabbles in fiction writing and is the author of Adhuri Prem Kahaniya; Dear Wife, Your Husband is not a Superhero, Second Heart and Get a Job WITHOUT an Interview; Be A B.A.; Surrogate Author. He likes to devote his personal time in writing for a website, namely the Amrita Foundation for HRD ( He has conducted seminars and training sessions for more than 40,000 people in India and abroad over the last seven years.

The book is an attempt to generate awareness about the disease AIDS and its repercussions on the patients and society at large. As the blurb says, the book talks about five situations and have woven a story around each.

The title  "Black Grey & White" is mentioned to refer to the young, middle-aged and the old. But there was no situation where the old is a victim.

The cause is noble but again the presentation standard is not up to the mark. The same lines and phrases have been used repeatedly in the same story and the stories/drama fail to express the anguish and anger of the victims. I didn't feel for them.

I give "Black Grey & White" 2 stars on a scale of 5.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Read review: Sister of My Heart

Sister of My Heart (Anju and Sudha #1) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Paperback, 347 pages
Published 1999 by Black Swan (first published 1997)

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni made an indelible impression on the literary world with her first novel, The Mistress of Spices, a magical tale of love and herbs. Sister of My Heart is less reliant on enchantment but no less enchanting as it tells the tale of two cousins born on the same day, their premature births brought on by a mysterious occurrence that claims the lives of both their fathers. Sudha is beautiful, Anju is not; yet the girls love each other as sisters, the bond between them so strong it seems nothing can break it. When both are pushed into arranged marriages, however, each discovers a devastating secret that changes their relationship forever.

Sister of My Heart spans many years and zigzags between India and America as the cousins first grow apart and then eventually reunite. Divakaruni invests this domestic drama with poetry as she traces her heroines' lives from infancy to motherhood, but it is Sudha and Anju who give the story its backbone. Anju might speak for both when she says, "In spite of all my insecurities, in spite of the oceans that'll be between us soon and the men that are between us already, I can never stop loving Sudha. It's my habit, and it's my fate." Book lovers may well discover that reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is habit-forming as well. --Margaret Prior

Absolutely loved it! This book had been ob my TBR for a long time now and I had bought this book a few months back.

In the meantime, I watched the Pakistani television soap "Mera Naseeb" which had been accused of plagiarism by the author. I loved the drama, so I could not wait to read the book. The sitcom had tweaked the story and it has a different climax and ending.

Anju and Sudha are cousins whose bond is no less than real sisters. But personality-wise, they are poles apart. Yet the lengths they go for the love and well-being of the other. Their three mothers raises the fatherless girls with love and strictness. Love and marriages throw the girls into the complexities of life. A family secret lurks around in the dark.

And the way author weaves her stories. Absolutely amazing. Nothing less. I finished the book two days back and I still can't stop thinking about the characters. It has given me a bad case of book hangover. Thankfully, this one has a sequel, "The Vine of Desire", and I can't wait to know what happens next. I have already purchased the book online :) I hope it arrives soon.

Love you Chitra! Please keep writing.