Book Review: The Spy

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Title: The Spy

Author: Paulo Coelho

Page: 208 pages

Plot: In his new novel, Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Adultery, brings to life one of history’s most enigmatic women: Mata Hari.

HER ONLY CRIME WAS TO BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN

When Mata Hari arrived in Paris she was penniless. Within months she was the most celebrated woman in the city.

As a dancer, she shocked and delighted audiences; as a courtesan, she bewitched the era’s richest and most powerful men.

But as paranoia consumed a country at war, Mata Hari’s lifestyle brought her under suspicion. In 1917, she was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees, and accused of espionage.

Told in Mata Hari’s voice through her final letter, The Spy is the unforgettable story of a woman who dared to defy convention and who paid the ultimate price.

Thoughts:   The Spy is based on the life of Margaretha Zelle, famously known as Mata Hari an exotic dancer who bewitched the most influential men of her time. The book is a historical fiction based during the World War 1.

As a child, Margaretha Zelle was abused by her school principal. She got married to an Indonesian solider and escaped from her home town. Soon she realized that her husband was an abusive man and she tried to put up with it for a few years but after a point she left him and their daughter behind to find solitude in Paris. In Paris she started a life as an exotic oriental dancer and in no time gained popularity amongst the Parisans for both wrong and the right reasons. Soon her lifestyle brought her into suspicion and she was charged of being a double agent and arrested by the French in 1917.

The opening of the book is with a bang on a very crucial note where Mata Hari is being executed by a firing squad and she refuses to wear a mask and faces her death in the eye. Mata Hari is a tale of a woman who dared to defy the conventional norms of the society and had to pay the price for it. There are many books written on Mata Hari but what sets this book apart is the format of the writing. It is written as a letter from Mata Hari to her lawyer and a reply from her lawyer to her. We feel Mata Hari’s pain, enthusiasm, passion, shame, courage, numbness all of it. The author has taken creative leverage and added his own version of fiction to the real story to make the book interesting.

If you like Paulo Coelho’s book and historical fiction do give this book a shot!

Ratings: 3.5/5

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Book Review: Sita: Warrior of Mithila

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Title: Sita: Warrior of Mithila

Author: Amish Tripathi

Plot: India, 3400 BCE.

India is beset with divisions, resentment and poverty. The people hate their rulers. They despise their corrupt and selfish elite. Chaos is just one spark away. Outsiders exploit these divisions. Raavan, the demon king of Lanka, grows increasingly powerful, sinking his fangs deeper into the hapless Sapt Sindhu.

Two powerful tribes, the protectors of the divine land of India, decide that enough is enough. A saviour is needed. They begin their search.

An abandoned baby is found in a field. Protected by a vulture from a pack of murderous wolves. She is adopted by the ruler of Mithila, a powerless kingdom, ignored by all. Nobody believes this child will amount to much. But they are wrong.

For she is no ordinary girl. She is Sita.

Continue the epic journey with Amish’s latest: A thrilling adventure that chronicles the rise of an orphan, who became the prime minister. And then, a Goddess.

This is the second book in the Ram Chandra Series. A sequel that takes you back. Back before the beginning.

Thoughts:   I have read all of Amish Tripathi’s novels. He redefines mythological epics in a way that it interests the youth of today. I have waited ‘TWO YEARS’ for the release of this book and it’s finally here. It was a great opportunity to be present at a book store where the author visited for the promotion of this book. Sita: The Warrior of Mithila is the second installment in the Ramchandra series, Scion of Ikshvaku being the first one.

The book plot needs no introduction. It is inspired from the age old epic Ramayana revisited from Sita’s point of view, giving more power to her and celebrating her as a warrior rather than an obedient wife. The book highlights Sita’s life right from when she was rescued by Queen Sunaina to the time she was abducted by Raavan.

I love reading mythological tales narrated from a female point of view I simply loved the way Sita was portrayed in an unorthodox way. I have always imagined Sita as a damsel in distress until I read this novel where she has a warrior spirit and a will to bring India out of turmoil. The female characters of Queen Sunaina and Samichi are also portrayed as powerful women. The writing flows seamlessly and the manner is mesmerizing.

What makes this series interesting is firstly the fabrication of the epic in a way that it appeals to today’s generation and the fact that each book is narrated from a different point of view. The third book in this series will flow from Raavan’s point of view and I can’t wait to read it. I hope the author doesn’t make us wait this long again.

More power to Sita!!!

Ratings: 5/5

PS: I loved the cover!

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Unboxing- ‘Boho Chic’ Fab Bag June’17

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Hey Wanders, it’s the dawn of monsoon, my favorite season.  Everything seems so fresh and rejuvenated during this time of the year that the fresh vibe just transfers on to me. This month I received my June Fab Bag on the very first day.  When I saw the theme of the bag as ‘Boho Chic’ I was very happy because I am in a very Bohemian phase right now. J

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The bag is beige in color because it is made out of jute, making it a very eco friendly choice. The bag is very sturdy and simple. Not one of my favorites from Fab Bag.  I felt the bag needed a little more spunk maybe some little pattern or even a little tassel would have made it more Boho.

The bag contained four products from brands like Sugar cosmetics,  Bio Bloom, APS Cosmetofood and  Johara. Let’s see them one by one.

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  • Sugar Lash Mob Limitless Mascara – 01 Rs 699 (Full Size) –  I have tried Sugar cosmetics’ nail paints, compact and a lip gloss. I quite liked these products and was pretty excited to try the mascara from them.  This mascara is enriched with vitamins and anti oxidants that claim to enhance the growth of the lashes.  For me this mascara doesn’t add much volume to the lashes. I found it to be a bit dry and clumpy. I don’t use mascara on daily basis. When I do it is for an occasion where I need dramatic lashes and volume which the Sugar mascara fails to offer.  Honestly, there are better mascaras available in other brands in a similar price bracket.

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  • Bio Bloom Foot Cream (Eucalyptus) – Rs 335 for 50 gm sample- Extreme heat in summer and dampness in monsoon tend to damage the skin on the foot. Hence a sunscreen and nourishing foot cream are very important to maintain healthy feet. I received a deluxe sized sample of Bio Bloom Foot Cream. It contains shea butter and other ingredients which moisturize the skin. The smell is very refreshing. I quite like this product and use it every night.

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  • APS Cosmetofood Activated Organic Spring Water: Rs 270 for 50 ml- This is a new brand and a new product category for me. I usually use cleansing milk and a face wash after to get rid of the makeup. This product is basically organic spring water that enriches the skin after removing the makeup. No face wash is required after using this. It comes quite handy while travelling.

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  • Johara Crème Rich Lip Color Sunny Squash – Rs 395 (Full size) – Johara is a brand that uses the handpicked botanical time tested ingredients and creates a product that is pure and real. The shade of the Johara Crème Rich Lip Color was up for choice and I went ahead with the shade ‘Sunny Squash’. It is coral orange in shade and is enriched with Ricin oil and vitamin E which offers the lips hydration and nourishment. The longevity of this lipstick is average. This range of lipsticks is available is 12 shades.

 

The total value of the bag is around Rs 1699/-. You can buy it here.

 

Book Review: The Corner Office

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Title: The Corner Office

Author: Katerina Baker

Page: 180 pages

Plot: Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.

Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.

But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand

Thoughts:  ‘Corner Office’ is a contemporary romance novel revolving mainly around Tara Johnson, a thirty five year old, ambitious senior executive, running for the position of a Managing Director at a Fortune 500 company. She has given it her all, ignored her personal life and relationships to reach where she is. But she is not the only one aspiring to be the Managing Director. Richard Boyd, a fellow senior executive, a rival of Tara’s since fifteen years is ready to give it all to become the MD. He is a charmer and he pretty much gets whoever, whatever he wants with much ease. The rivalry and the constant bickering between Tara and Richard is quite a lot of fun to read. Tara has always been a rule abider until the day Adian, joins her team and she gets into a steamy affair with him. This is against the office policy and the story picks up from here on.

Tara’s character is much likable from the beginning itself. I like her go getter spirit, the way she is focused yet when it comes to her mother she leaves everything behind and attends to her needs, even the tiniest ones and the way she inspires her fellow women employees at Women’s Network. Richard’s character is the one that you will strongly dislike at the beginning but fall in love with towards the end. Adian’s behavior was a bit ambiguous and hence the course of his actions was not justified well. His character seemed to change drastically in a short time. I really didn’t understand why such a strong person like Tara did not put him in his place sooner. Towards the end I really wanted to know who gets the corner office and how. Hopefully there will be sequel.

The story is narrated from Tara’s point of view. The writing is smooth and apart from the romance, the premise also offers a lot of corporate politics, stalking, blackmailing, etc. I quite liked the book. It was a quick read. I wish the author good luck for her book release and I definitely look forward to reading more books from her.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: The book releases on 23rd June, 2017.  I would like to thank the author and the publication for sending me the ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing

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Title: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal

Author: Jen Waite

Plot: New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and Everything You Ever Wanted. What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?

These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband–the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life–fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.

After a disturbing email sparks Waite’s suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn’t part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite’s romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.

Thoughts:   What if after a few years of marriage your partner becomes someone you don’t recognize anymore? The New York Times bestselling author Jen Waite has bravely brought forward account of her fallen marriage. ‘A Beautiful Terrible Thing’ is a marital memoir by the author. Jen an aspiring actress and a waitress had fallen in love with Marco, a perfect man. She married him after and had a baby with him, completing her perfect family. Right after the baby she finds her husband’s behavior getting odd by the day. She suspects that he is having an affair with a much younger girl. Her suspicions come true and she finds out that her husband is cheating on her but that’s not it. With a deeper investigation she discovers that there is more to it. Her husband is a textbook psychopath.

The writing was in a first person narrative. The story is intense and maneuvered between ‘before’; where her husband worships the ground she walks on and ‘after’, where her husband can’t stand to look at her. The book for me was more like a psychological thriller. My heart went out for Jen throughout the book. I think she has made a brave attempt to come forward and write a book about her marital turmoil with an intention to help those who are in such relationships and tend to avoid all the red flags. The psychopathic behavioral tendencies, signs of a psychopath are well explained in the book. The author is real inspiration to many woman who are in a relationship with a psychopath or are trying to rebuilt their lives after a failed marriage.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: The book releases on 11th July, 2017 and I would like to thank the author for sending me the ARC via Netgalley.

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Book Review: Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik

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Title: Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik

Pages: 162 pages

Plot: Journey into the amazing world of Hindu mythology with Devdutt Pattanaik. Why are most temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva or the goddess, but not to Brahma or Indra?  How are an asura, rakshasa, yaksha and pishacha different from each other? Why did the Pandavas find themselves in naraka rather than swarga? Over several months, EPIC Channel’s ground-breaking show Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik has enthralled countless viewers. Here, finally, is the book based on the first series of the ever-popular show, which will take you on a scintillating tour through the myriad stories, symbols and rituals that form the basis of Hindu culture. Prepare to be surprised and thrilled as Devdutt narrates magical tales about larger-than-life figures – gods, goddesses, demi-gods and demons who you thought you knew well but didn’t. Learn about the intricacies of Hindu thought as he explains the origin and meaning of different creation myths, and throws light on why we believe in a cyclical – not linear – concept of time. This book is your perfect introduction to the endlessly fascinating world of Hindu mythology. About the Author Devdutt Pattanaik is the author of over twenty-five books and 500 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. Trained in medicine (MBBSfrom Grant Medical College, Mumbai University), he worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries for fifteen years before devoting all his time to his passion for decoding beliefs of all cultures, modern and ancient, located beneath the veneer of rationality.

Thoughts:  Mythology has always been an intruding subject for me. As a child I loved the stories of Ramayan, Mahabharata and the others but now I have a curiosity to dig in deeper and find out the reason behind why certain rituals are followed, why certain Gods are worshiped and so on.

Mr Devdutt Pattanaik is renowned for his mythological knowledge and this book is based on season one of his show on Epic channel. The book is in a conservative form where the questions are answered by the author. The author touches upon the various aspects of Indian mythology such as devs and asurs, Gods and foods, avtaars, devi worships, Gods and marriages, yugas, etc.

The book is in a question and answer format which makes the reading feel like a conversation or a one on one interview with the author. The concepts are very well explained and are segregated into various chapters, making it easy to understand even for mythology beginners. The book is well documented and the language is very simple to understand. I got answers to a lot of questions that had risen in my mind once upon a time. The book is definitely too informative and cannot be read in one sitting. I had to divide it in various sitting to grasp every bit of it. Over all the book explains the complex concepts of Indian mythology in a simpler way.

PS: The cover of the book could definitely have been better.

Ratings: 3.5/5

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Un-boxing- ‘Beauty Trippin’ Fab Bag May 17

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I received my Fabbag on 4th May this month. The theme of this month’s Fabbag was ‘Beauty Trippin’ The bag I received had ‘Eat Sleep Travel Repeat’. I loved the bag. It is sturdy and a little bigger than the usual size. It is perfect to be carried while traveling.

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This time there were 6 products. Let’s see them one by one:

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  • Johara Pro Shine Nail Colour Maroon Magic (Full size 10ml) – Rs.250/- I haven’t tried the Johara Pro Shine Nail Colour range before. The packaging was nice and sturdy. This range is available in 13 shades of which I received the maroon magic. I personally prefer softer shades and this color wasn’t something I would have picked. But the good thing about this rage of nail paints is that it dries quickly. The paint applies smoothly on nails. I am definitely going to try a different shade from this range soon.

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  • Inatur Olive Cleansing Milk (Full size)- Rs.225/- for 100ml- ‘Inatur’ is known for its organic and pure products.  This cleansing milk is soap free and nourishes my sensitive skin. It is infused with contains olive, chamomile, Geranium oil, jojoba oil, honey and lavender. It removes the make up easily. Leaving behind a moisturized skin.

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  • Soap Square Foot Soak (Deluxe size 79g)- Rs.400/- for 140g- The Soap Square Foot Soak is infused with crushed rose petals and rose oil. The organic Himalayan and Epsom salts are used. It is perfect for the summer heat and the smell relaxes the mind and the body.

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  • Elize Premium Sanitary Pads (Rs.100 for 2 pads)-  Elize is a premium sanitary napkin brand. Each napkin is packed in a ziplock that makes it easy for disposal. It has a bamboo charcoal strip that kills odor and has a soft cotton top to prevent any irritation. I also received a 10% off discount coupon for my future purchase.

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  • Veet Ready to Use Wax Strips (Rs.99/- for 8 strips) –  I haven’t used any cold wax strips before since I have a sensitive skin. Tested under dermatological conditions and accredited by the British Skin Foundation. This is with an aloe extract and is suitable for sensitive skin type too. I am yet to try this.

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  • Esence Soft Touch Mousse Make-up 02 (Matt Beige) (Rs 499/- for 16g) – I received a damaged product which came as a shock to me. They claim to QC all the products before sending them across. I don’t know what happened this instance.  The mousse was completely dry and unusable. I sent an image of the mousse with the Fab Bag team and they were prompt enough in assuring me a replacement within a week.

The total value of the bag is Rs 1573/- . The bag has more products than the previous bag and apart from a small glitch of the damaged product (that they have promised to replace) I am quite happy with the products I have received.

You can get a 3 month subscription for this bag at Rs 1599 here

Book Review: Mary Poser

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Title: Mary Poser: Butterflies and white lies as Bollywood Comes to Nashville

Author: Angel A.

Pages: 478 pages

Plot: The recipe for a warm and humorous story…

In a modest bowl of Nashville, gently place a girl who is Country music, Bible belt, and a Steakhouse foodie.

Then add a surprise portion of exotic and handsome Anglo Indian, who is a passionate Bollywood director, vegetarian and Hindu.

Stir vigorously on a bed of intense attraction.

At first, the ingredients will seem to clash and separate.

Keep stirring…

Include a dollop of jealous boyfriend and a meddling mother.

Splash in a serving of fun and mischievous friends. Keep stirring…

Add a dash of crazy aunt and a minister father to keep the flavors working together.

Sprinkle in even more complicated family members to taste.

Cook on high emotions.

The secret ingredient that cuts through the sweetness is a final layer of shocking revelation that adds a surprising depth of flavor.

Finish with a twist of ‘Oh My God! Is she really going to do that?’.

Serve as tasty bite-size chapters in a novel dish of mayhem and madness with a side of Country music and Bollywood dancing.

Thoughts:  This book had me at the mention of Bollywood. I had to pick it up and find out an American’s perception about it. Mary Poser is plotted in Nashville, also known as the Bible belt.

Mary’s family is a traditional Christan family, making her an ideal daughter even if she has to let go off her dreams. Mary attends a Film Festival with her friends one night and meets this dashing Indian film director, Simha. Both are drawn towards each other and connect instantaneously. Bam! Mary’s conscious reminds her that she cannot fall in love with a non Christian man but her heart says otherwise. And the turmoil begins… With on and off communication and a lot of drama, Mary and Simha try to find their way in and out of this situation.

The plot seemed promising but the writing failed to live up to the mark. The characterization demanded more strength. The religiousness and at times racism came across more strongly than the love story. I couldn’t connect with Mary’s character since it didn’t seem realistic. Her choices in life were appalling and seemed too extreme. I enjoyed Mary’s and Simha’s love story in bits and pieces. The fact that for most of the book Mary was dating another guy she wasn’t in love with, diluted the love story.  What I really liked was Rumi’s quote references made at the beginning of each chapter. I loved the end with the butterflies in it.  To wrap it up, this was a mediocre book with mediocre plot and weak characterization.

Ratings: 2.5/5

PS: – Thanks to author for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

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Book Review: Bridges- A Daphne White Novel

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Title: Bridges: A Daphne White Novel

Author: Maria Murnane

Pages: 194 pages

Plot: It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here’s to the power of friendship!

Thoughts: This is the second book in the Daphne White series. The first one was ‘Wait for the Rain’. This book is about the three Musketeers, Daphne, Skylar and KC whose friendship has lasted from college till mid-forties. They finally decide to meet after their ‘Caribbean vacation’ which was three years back. Skylar is finally getting engaged and invites Daphne and KC to New York to celebrate, as Skyar calls it for a “non bachelorette” weekend.

Daphne has finally completed her first novel and is looking for an agent to help her connect with the publisher. But she faces polite rejections from most of them. She is facing a tough time but refrains to tell her friends. The weekend with Skylar at her fancy apartment, makes Daphne revisit her past choices. KC has a secret of her own. The three women are at a turning point in their lives. What comes next is a lot of drama, outbursts, celebrations and friendship goals.

The author nails the female friendships correctly. I loved every bit of their interaction, the crazy fun they have over the weekend, the support they extended to each other, conceding of fights and just being there for each other in time of need.  It has a ‘Sex and the City’ vibe to it. The book is narrated from Daphne’s point of view. The writing is intruding and crisp. The characters are well woven, quite realistic and the relatable. The story is predictable but still worth a read.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: – Thanks to author for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

Book Review: Chanakya in Daily Life

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Title: Chanakya in Daily Life

Author: Radhakrishnan Pillai

Pages: 290 pages

Plot: Life is unpredictable and full of challenges. One wrong step and everything can come crashing down. In such a scenario, one often wishes for a roadmap of life, but how is that possible?

Bestselling author Radhakrishnan Pillai’s much-anticipated book, Chanakya in Daily Life, will help you navigate the rough seas of life and stay on course. Covering all aspects of life from the personal to the professional, it will tell you everything from how to begin your day to how to end it, how to choose the right job, stay financially secure, have a happy married life, raise your children the right way, achieve the perfect work-life balance and much more. Like always, Pillai decodes and simplifies the visionary king-maker Chanakya’s teachings from the Arthashastra and Chanakya Niti to provide solutions for any problem that might crop up in any aspect of your life.

Thus, Chanakya in Daily Life is the perfect guru who expects only one thing from the shishya—a willingness to learn.

Thoughts: ‘Chanakya in Daily Life’ is a non-fiction, self help book inspired by the teachings of the great Guru Chanakya’s book ‘Arthshastra’. Mr Pillai has simplified his teachings for a lay man to understand and incorporate in his life.

The book is sectioned into three parts: Personal Life, Professional Life and Family Life. These sections are further distributed in smaller chapters, explaining various aspects and activities one can undertake to improve his life.

The writing is simple and direct. The language is kept simple to be well understood by anyone. The matter is crisp and the book is not dragged with unwanted examples making it a quick read.

We know most of the things that are highlighted in the book but we never tend to incorporate these things thinking for it to be too trivial and petty.  What I liked the most about the book is the fact how small things can make a big difference in our productivity and overall craft our lives.

This book simplifies the knowledge derived from the king maker himself making it easy for a common man to discipline his life and achieve his overall goals.I would recommend this self help book to all those who are looking for a road map to better their personal, professional and family life in tandem.

Ratings: 3.5/5

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