Blog Archives

Book Review: Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra by Ruskin Bond

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra by Ruskin Bond

Genre: Short Story
Book Name: Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra
Author: Ruskin Bond
Pages: 108
Publication Year: 2000
Publisher: Penguin Books

What do you do when you visit a place for holidays? Do you search for books? Then welcome to my world!

I visited my in-laws place last month and at first glance, all I noticed in the book shelves were bulky and thick books of war and bygone eras which got me intimidated. For your information – I am the one who usually prefers to read light fiction unless it is a murder mystery. However, my holidays are supposed to be perfect only when I complete at least 3-4 books. And lo and behold, there was this book Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra by Ruskin Bond. And out of all points already mentioned, just imagine my happiness since I was reading this book in Dehradun itself.

Even though I had heard a lot about Ruskin Bond, I had somehow never read any of his books. So without further ado, I picked this light book (weight-wise) and immediately gave it a go. And what an absolute delight this was to read. I completed it in 3 hours straight. This book, in fact, reminded me of Jungle Book series I had watched as a kid.

Tell me what do you know about award winning writers – that they write in such complicated statements and using such vocabulary that one has to definitely read the book in Kindle, a paperback or hard bound copy will definitely not do. Ruskin Bond writes in such a language which will directly speak to you heart and remind you of your own childhood days.

A must read book for all!

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Fourteen engaging stories from one of India’s master story-tellers.

Semi-autobiographical in nature, these stories span the period from the author’s childhood to the present. We are introduced, in a series of beautifully imagined and crafted cameos, to the author’s family, friends, and various other people who left a lasting impression on him. In other stories we revisit Bond’s beloved Garhwal hills and the small towns and villages that he has returned to time and again in his fiction. Together with his well-known novella, A Flight of Pigeons (which was made into the film Junoon), which also appears in this collection, these stories once again bring Ruskin Bond’s India vividly to life.

About the author:
Ruskin Bond is an Indian author of British descent. He is considered to be an icon among Indian writers and children’s authors and a top novelist.

He wrote his first novel, The Room on the Roof, when he was seventeen which won John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written several novellas, over 500 short stories, as well as various essays and poems, all of which have established him as one of the best-loved and most admired chroniclers of contemporary India.

In 1992 he received the Sahitya Akademi award for English writing, for his short stories collection, “Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra”, by the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters in India. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 for contributions to children’s literature.

Rating: 9/10



Book Review: The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murty

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murty

Genre: Short Story, Non Fiction
Book Name: The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk
Author: Sudha Murty
Pages: 212
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Penguin

Sudha Murty has a distinct flair of writing, which is not so easy to replicate. I am not going to write something new for another of her book which I have not already mentioned in my previous reviews of her books – Dollar Bahu and Something Happened on the Way to Heaven. Like other books, The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk is relatable to our everyday life but which we fail to notice, which by the way reminds me of that musical piece by Joshua Bell who played incognito on a metro station.

Sudha Murty’s books simply wants to convey to us to be attentive of our surroundings, not come to harsh conclusions till we know the other side of the story and continue learning from our fellow beings. By the way, this book again is a collection of short stories which you can read at your own pace or start from any chapter. Great penmanship and a must read for Sudha Murty’s fans!

Book blurb:
Extraordinary stories about ordinary peoples lives by the inimitable Sudha Murty.

Over the years, Sudha Murty has come across some fascinating people whose lives make for interesting stories and have astonishing lessons to reveal. Take Vishnu, who achieves every material success but never knows happiness; or Venkat, who talks so much that he has no time to listen. In other stories, a young girl goes on a train journey that changes her life forever; an impoverished village woman provides bathing water to hundreds of people in a drought-stricken area; a do-gooder ghost decides to teach a disconsolate young man Sanskrit; and in the title story, a woman in a flooded village in Odisha teaches the author a life lesson she will never forget.

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children.

Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven by Sudha Murty

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk by Sudha Murty

Genre: Short Story, Non Fiction
Book Name: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
Editor: Sudha Murty
Pages: 224
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Penguin India

Authors (20 Authors contributing 20 Short Stories): Bhaswar Mukherjee, Saurabh Kumar, Dhrishti Dasgupta, Supriya Unni Nair, Satyarth Nayak, Jimmy Mathew, Vibha Lohani, Rajesh Pooppotte, Swaha Bhattacharya, Rishi Vohra, Neelamani Sutar, Subhobrata, Pushkar Pande, Nalini Chandran, Praveen P. Gopinath, Neha Garg, Ila Gautam, Tulika Dubey, Shantanu Bhowmick, and Tapan Mukherjee.

Although the stories are merely edited by Sudha Murty, they will not make you feel that it is something other than part and parcel of her life. For those who have previously read her other books, there is nothing to be worried about, since all the stories encompass the humane nature across the walks of life very similar to what Sudha Murty has written till now.

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven: 20 Inspiring Real-Life Stories leaves you feeling good about people and yourself, in general. You may or may not remember any story, but it will feel like those short stories/poems that you had read in your school with an aim to do good in the world, come what may. A collection of stories of ordinary people (common man), can be considered as a short summary for this book, and I will liken it to the works by R. K. Narayan.

Book blurb:
The inspiring true stories of the interesting people who inhabit the pages of Sudha Murtys books leave an indelible impression on us. But the books are able to chronicle the stories of only the men and women Mrs. Murty has actually come across herself in the course of her social work. There must be so many more wonderful stories that many others have to share. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven is a collection of twenty such memorable true life stories. Handpicked by Sudha Murty from a contest run by Penguin, they capture the hope, faith, kindness and joy that life is full of, even as we make our way through the daily grind. Moving and uplifting, this is an anthology that will engross and delight every reader who believes in the goodness of the human heart.

About the author:
Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written nine novels, four technical books, three travelogues, one collection of short stories, three collections of non-fiction pieces and two books for children.

Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages and have sold over three lakh copies around the country. She was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan’s Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

Read reviews of Sudha Murty’s other books on my blog: Dollar Bahu and The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Yes Please by Amy Poelher

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Yes Please by Amy Poelher

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
Book Name: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poelher
Pages: 329
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Dey Street Books

Bubbling with positive energy, is the book Yes Please by Amy Poelher. Do you know who Amy Poelher is? Truth be told, I was not aware till I started reading this book.

This book was gifted by my friend Sneha who had high praises for this book and that she loved reading it again and again. And yes, I too loved the book when I started reading it. And guess what, I have never seen a single episode of SNL (Saturday Night Live) because of which Amy is most popularly known for. Funny, right? Ok, I have since watched “one” episode of SNL.

Treat this book as a light self help book or to know more about Amy. In the latter case, you might get disappointed because she doesn’t tell the too-personal tales. But I guess that is fine since she never popularized it as a book on herself or an autobiography. As a self help book, Amy gives examples in each chapter from her personal life. However, at times, it seemed like she wrote this book as a way for her to come clean on certain instances/mistakes of her life and apologize to the concerned parties.

There are many funny instances. For example, the difficulty she faces about writing, especially when one is not a writer. Sample page:

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Yes Please by Amy Poelher

But after some time, only cribbing about not being able to write got a little too monotonous. Only if the book could have been less heavy and had lesser number of pages, it would have been perfect!

P.S – I gave up the book midway. Will visit again in a few months when I have watched more episodes of SNL to understand the reference of various names.

Book blurb:
Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

About the author:
Amy Meredith Poehler is an American actress, comedian, voice artist, producer and writer. Raised in Burlington, Massachusetts, she graduated from Boston College in 1993 and moved to Chicago, Illinois, to study improv at The Second City and ImprovOlympic. In 1996, she moved to New York City after becoming part of the improvisational comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, which later developed into an eponymous television show that aired on Comedy Central for three seasons.

Poehler was also one of the founding members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 1999. Poehler was a cast member on the NBC television show Saturday Night Live from 2001 to 2008. In 2004, she became the co-anchor of the Weekend Update sketch along with her friend and colleague Tina Fey. Poehler’s work on SNL earned her two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She is known for voicing Bessie Higgenbottom in the 2008–2011 Nickelodeon series, The Mighty B! and Eleanor Miller in the Alvin and the Chipmunks CGI films. Since 2009, she has starred as Leslie Knope in the sitcom Parks and Recreation, and received the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy Series. She is also an eight-time Emmy Award nominee.

Poehler is currently starring in the new Swedish-American sitcom Welcome to Sweden along with her brother Greg Poehler.


Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani

Genre: Non Fiction
Book Name: Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond
Author: Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani
Pages: 215
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: StoryMirror Infotech Pvt. Ltd.

Neatly divided into chapters, the book Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani can be used as a curriculum textbook for marketing courses in colleges or for offline reading, to prepare for MBA placement interviews. The book delves into various forms of how online media can help one in aligning oneself to one’s goals through case studies (told in the manner of short stories to make a better impact and to provide a better remembrance to the reader) with FAQs, infographics, etc making it an interesting read.

It reminded me of one book I had read in my college – which was my bedtime read every night (oh, not in the sense of boring) – the book prescribed as a course book in one of the electives I had opted for – Management of Technology. This book is also similar and can be referred at any time, and not necessarily to be referred chronologically from start to end.

The book covers 5 Ws and 1 H – What happened? Who is involved? Where did it take place? When did it take place? Why did that happen? How did that happen? All in all, it is a comprehensive read. However, only if the chapters could have been consolidated to not look like a textbook, it would have been an easier read for ever fiction lovers.

Recommended for marketing professionals and even other professionals since branding and bonding is required in every profession.

Book blurb:
A comprehensive guide to personal branding, designed to be particularly relevant to entrepreneurs and working professionals in India. They take a wealth of knowledge about branding and make it engaging and easy to apply. Whether one is new to personal branding, or exploring it deeper, there’s something that will be useful to everyone. From the art of optimizing social media to the details of how to dress professionally to fit with a brand, the authors provide an enormous range of tools and relevant tips. And the material on storytelling is a great resource.

Personal Branding, Storytelling and Beyond by Dr. Amit Nagpal and Dr. Prakash Hindustani is a playbook for success using two of the most effective strategies in life and business. Each section provides a concise explanation of what you need to know and why. Tips are included so you can return to the text when you need help. But it’s more than a business guide.

About the author:
Dr. Amit Nagpal, Ph.D is a Business Storyteller, Keynote Speaker and Digital Storytelling Coach. He is one of the pioneers of digital storytelling in India. He is also Chief Inspirational Storyteller at AL Services. AL Services has co-created stories of some of the most inspiring people in India & abroad.


Dr. Prakash Hindustani is a pioneer of Hindi web journalism. He was the founding editor of first Hindi language web portal He is a renowned journalist, blogger and social media activist. He has more than 30 years of experience in Hindi journalism across prints, television and internet media platforms. For most part of his career, he has been associated with The Times of India group.

Twitter: @P_hindustani

Rating: 7/10

Book Review: Shikhandi and Other Tales by Devdutt Pattanaik

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Shikhandi and Other Tales by Devdutt Pattanaik

Genre: Mythology, Spirituality
Book Name: Shikhandi and Other Tales they don’t tell you
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Pages: 182
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Zubaan + Penguin Books

By retelling various stories from Hindu mythology across 1-2 pages each and anecdotes at the end, Devdutt Pattanaik tries to focus on what our political and religious leaders tell otherwise. That a female may behave differently and that a male may behave differently and about so many in-betweens (in terms of sexual or psyche). That anyone behaving differently should not to be legally penalized (Article 377 for LGBT).

The stories abound of such mythical characters, especially from Mahabharata, the great epic tale and from little known tales from other regions. Some of them we might have already heard, but never gave any attention to, probably because we never looked at them from an adult mindset. The book brings into light the “queerness” and makes us question on why there is a growing discomfort in Indian society for those who do not follow the norms, and when this shift in attitude in our culture happened.

However, if the stories could have been longer to understand the person’s psyche on whom each short story is based upon, rather than mere telling of facts, it would have been much better. Overall, a good book, with plenty of content to find argumentative dialogues.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women
Feminism clarifies women and men are equal
Queerness questions what constitutes male and female

Queerness isn’t only modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife; Mahadeva, who became a woman to deliver his devotee’s child; Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband; Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend; and many more . . .

Playful and touching – and sometimes disturbing – these stories, when compared with their Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese and Biblical counterparts, reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness.

About the author:
Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist and author whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management. He is the author of over 25 books and 500 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. Trained in medicine, he worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries for 15 years before devoting all his time to his passion for decoding beliefs of all cultures, modern and ancient, located beneath the veneer of rationality.

He is the Chief Belief Officer of Future Group, one of India’s largest retailers, bringing the wisdom of Indian mythology into Indian business, specifically in human resource management. He also writes a column for the newspaper MID DAY.

Twitter: @devduttmyth

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: It Is Only Money by Cara MacMillan

Ethereal Jinxed | alkanicks

Genre: Non Fiction, Self Help
Book Name: It Is Only Money
and It Grows on Trees!
Author: Cara MacMillan
Pages: 129
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Mirror Image Publishing

Not denying the fact that all self-help books are not that interesting enough. However, the book It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees! puts a different perspective on financial and sustainability management with different modules taught in a chapter-wise fashion so as to avoid overloading the reader with excessive information. An informative and easy-to-read book, which reminded me of the initial finance classes taught in my college by one of my favorite professors. And…there are no numbers involved. How cool is that now!

Reading this book on a train trip, while sporadically enjoying the greenery outside, the book was a simple sail through with quips on fables, tales and wisdom from different religions and cultures. Some grammatical errors could have been avoided though, but overall a finance read very similar to fiction category. There are also work-lessons in the end, just in case the same would want to be practiced by teachers in their classes as well.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
It Is Only Money and It Grows on Trees! is a narrative that explores how the concept of money differs throughout various world religions and cultures. It also looks at ways in which readers can increase their own wealth through consideration of these practices.

The story takes place in a classroom where a teacher named Catherine has written the word, Money, in large capital letters on the blackboard. She invites her students to help her define what money is. The students propose varying answers, and Catherine explains how each of these different definitions comes from our cultural, religious, family, and economic backgrounds.

It Is Only Money will inspire, challenge, and encourage you to ask: Why am I not rich? What do I need to learn? Do I need to change my thoughts and actions? Can I do it? Where do I go for answers? How can I balance my money and climate change?

About the author:
Cara MacMillan, a thought leader in sustainability and financial management. As an adjunct professor in the School of Business at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada, her vision is to empower people to think and act for themselves financially. She also serves as a Climate Reality Leader in The Climate Reality Leadership Corps. This group is a global network of activists committed to taking on the climate crisis by providing training in climate science, communications, and organizing to tell the story of climate change and inspire communities everywhere to take action.

Cara lives in Ottawa with her life partner and best friend, David, and their two children. She is currently working on her next book, Make Big Money and Make a Big Difference, for readers who want to learn how to invest in responsible companies and opportunities.


Rating: 7/10

Book Review: The Painting and the Piano by John Lipscomb and Adrianne Lugo

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | The Painting and the Piano by John Lipscomb and Adrianne Lugo

Genre:  Biography, Memoir
Book Name: The Painting and the Piano
Author: John Lipscomb and Adrianne Lugo
Pages: 312
Publication Year: 2016
Publisher: ALJ Marketing LLC

There are times when you pick a book, start reading it, and then keep it aside since you did not like the starting pages. Later, after a few months, you quickly finish it from the start again till the end. That’s what happened with this book – a non-fiction genre and a true story, which I do not usually select for reading of my own volition. However, the narration of addiction and abuse has been dealt perfectly well by the authors in telling their story. It reminded me of the numerous stories which we read in the inside pages of our daily newspaper but for which we never get to know the true picture.

It’s rare to see people agree that they were wrong. And this was probably both the authors’ way of coming to full light, of admitting their mistakes and offering apologies to all those people they would have hurt in the making. However, the major part of the book was focused on the childhood trauma which resulted in adulthood crisis, and only in the last few pages do we come to find out them overcoming their all-so-consuming addiction.

This is the story of survival and hope and never to lose hope for the end is yet to come even after things seem all unfavorable and pitch dark.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
The Painting and The Piano is an improbable story of survival and love. Growing up more than a thousand miles apart and worlds away from each other, Johnny and Adrianne seemed to have all that a child could ask for. However, the demons of their respective mothers would tear their fragile young lives apart.

Eventually, destiny would bring Johnny and Adrianne together, but first they had to endure the painful toll that alcohol, drugs, and a negligent court system would take on them. With parts of Adrianne’s story ripped from national news headlines, their story takes them from the depths of despair and near to their first serendipitous introduction and the moment beach knew they were finally safe.

Filled with hope, inspiration, and humor, The Painting and the Piano is an unforgettable story of pain, loss, and the undying human quest for happiness.

About the author:
John Lipscomb and Adrianne Lugo reside in South Florida with their Yorkie, Holly. Both are involved in the AA/recovery community. Adrianne currently helps out at a recovery house, and Johnny continues speaking, sponsoring, and helping others in recovery.


Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

EtherealJinxed|Book Review | Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Genre: Memoir, Self Help
Book Name: Tuesdays with Morrie
Author: Mitch Albom
Pages: 210
Publication Year: 1997
Publisher: Hachette

Tuesdays with Morrie is neatly arranged in chapters and quips about the lessons of life. It closely describes the relationship between Morrie and the author Mitch. This is unlike the Self-Help books where the lessons are told first and then several examples are mentioned to explain the focus point.

Morrie must indeed be inspiring for the author to dedicate a complete book on him. However like all Self-Help books, I preferred to speed-read this book and finish it off in a dash.

Since this is a real life story, all those who came to know of Morrie (since he had a big list of friends, student and followers which incidentally, not many people command in our present times) will be touched and wanting to know more.

Recommended for those looking for Self Help books to find a meaning in their life and not be part of rat race.

Please note that I do not like Self Help books. Hence, my review is biased.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and impassioned, helped you to see the world as a more profound place, and gave you sound advice to guide your way through it. For Mitch Albom, it was Morrie Schwartz, the college professor who had taught him nearly twenty years before.

Perhaps, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as the years passed, the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, to ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, and receive wisdom for your busy life the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom got that second chance, rediscovering Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live. Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together.

About the author:
Mitchell David Albom is an author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 35 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan.
Twitter: @MitchAlbom

Rating: 7/10

Book Journey: KP The Autobiography

EtherealJinxed |KP The Autobiography by Kevin Pietersen

Genre: Cricket, Autobiography
Book Name: KP The Autobiography
Author: Kevin Pietersen
Pages: 336
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography – “KP: The Autobiography” is a highly controversial and sensational book. Sensational because it takes immense courage to highlight and openly speak about the politics in cricket and especially in the ECB (English Cricket Board).

The contents of the book are high voltage and the flow of the book oscillates with emotions of KP. He has described the misgivings of ECB, the coach Andy Flower and some of the ‘bullies’ in the team in great detail in his book, along with specifics and examples. It is extremely shocking to see that in this beautiful sport, there is much more than talent with the bat and ball in cricket, the dirty word being politics.

It can be argued that the book language is plain but that is primarily due to the detailed descriptions of actual conversation between people. Although some incidents in the book could have probably been shortened to make it crisper, the controversies in almost every chapter has spiced up the book and it makes for an intense read.

I have been an ardent fan of KP and the way he plays aggressive cricket and therefore, this book was a must read for me. You cannot help but sympathize with KP and feel dismayed on the fate of such a talented cricketer, whose career has been cut short due to the politics at the higher level, i.e. by the ‘people who run the show’.

Book Review by:
Amit Kumar

%d bloggers like this: