Book Review: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

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Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Page: 288 pages

Plot: Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Favorite Quote: “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

Thoughts: I had heard a lot about this book by Elizabeth Gilbert and I wanted to read it ever since. I had loved ‘Eat Pray Love’ and I was expecting much more from this one. Well, this book is basically about keeping your creativity alive, growing and away from fears.

In this book the author has given creative ideas a life of their own. They pay a visit to an individual at any possible time and place, you grab it or they will visit someone else. There is never a “right time” for creativity. Procrastination leads do a missed opportunity when it comes to creativity. This is beautifully explained with examples from author’s personal life.

The other thing that I liked in the book was creativity’s relationship with fear. Creativity and fear co-exist the more attention given to fear, the more it expands. A lot of times an individual judges his creative output based on the success it will receive. The author advises to not fret about it and just do it. The most important thing is to give in your 100% and the work you produce should be perfect according to you. This particular thought is quite inspiring and comforting for anyone who needs to overcome the mental barrier of being measured by the success his creativity receives from the society.

The voice is narrative and it feels like the author is talking to the reader. There were few highs points for me in the book but I was expecting much more. Few ideas seemed impractical and not applicable universally. For e.g. the author states that getting a higher education in field of your interest is unworthy. Some people have innate talent to do things but other need to brush up their skills and that’s where education is required.

Overall, this book didn’t impress me completely but there are a few gems that can be taken away from this book.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: Our Souls at Night

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Title: Our Souls at Night

Author: Kent Haruf

Page: 179 pages

Plot: In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Favorite Quote: “Who would have thought at this time in our lives that we’d still have something like this. That it turns out we’re not finished with changes and excitements. And not all dried up in body and spirit.”

Thoughts:  This book was written by the author on his death bed. It is an unconventional tale of two old people trying to find comfort in each other and facing resistance from the society and their children. Addie Moore and Louis Water are neighbors in the small town of Holt, Colorado.  Both of them have lost their spouses and their children are away living their own lives. Both in their seventies live alone and crave companionship.

Days still pass by with chores to do but nights are the toughest. Addie and Louis make an arrangement where at night Louis visits Addie’s home. They talk about their lives, their wishes, etc and find solace in each other’s company. Soon in the small town the rumors spread and Addie and Louis have to deal with the people and even their children.

This book is nothing like what I have read before. The plot is different from what I usually read and also the age bracket of the protagonists especially being portrayed in this light. The characters are well carved and easy to sympathize with. The narration is seamless and poetic at times, though I don’t know why the quotations before the speech are completely edited. It got a while for me to get use to reading like this.

Overall, the book is about two old people trying to make the last leg of their lives finding comfort in companionship. The story is beautiful, tender and heart touching.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Book Review: A Spool of Blue Thread

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Title: A Spool of Blue Thread

Author: Anne Tyler

Page: 358 pages

Plot: “It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon.” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. from Red’s father and mother, newly-arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.

Brimming with all the insight, humour, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.

Favorite Quote: “But it has occurred to me, on occasion, that our memories of our loved ones might not be the point. Maybe the point is their memories—all that they take away with them”

Thoughts:  I picked this book up last month since I was in a mood to read a well written family drama and this was my choice since Anne Tyle is famous for quirking up family tales. ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ revolves around the Whitshank family. The soul of the narration is the mother, Abby Whitshank.

The book tells us about the three generation of the Whitshank family. There is nothing remarkable about their family but like most of the families, they believe they are special. The story mostly takes us through the lives of the family members, their wills, regrets, dimensions, family dynamics, evolution of their family, etc.

It is a slow paced novel and very realistic in nature. The story progression is very slow which makes the book dull at times. A crisper edit would definitely have attracted more readers.  The story is not striking enough but what makes the book stand out is the character build up and the narration. The characters are very well studied and portrayed interestingly. Empathizing with the characters and their quirks was easy.

This book is for the patient readers who enjoy a well characterized novel and slow and steady unveiling of the story.

Rating: 3/5

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Book Review: Let it Snow

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Title: Let it Snow

Author:  Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle

Page: 365 pages

Plot: Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Favorite Quote: “I always had this idea that you should never give up a happy middle in the hopes of a happy ending, because there is no such thing as a happy ending. Do you know what I mean? There is so much to lose.”

Thoughts:   The book has three stories written by the three best selling YA authors. The plot is based around the time of Christmas. All three love stories are interconnected in some way and towards the end we see all the three couples brought together. Let’s see each story one by one.

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson: We follow Jubliee here. She has her Christmas planned with her “perfect” boyfriend Noah. Until her parents are put behind bars and she has to leave for Florida immediately. It’s snowing heavily and her train cannot go further and she is stuck in Gracetown where she meets Stuart, a sweet boy whose family offers Jubliee shelter until the storm ends. Her encounter with Stuart makes her realize a lot of things about herself.  It is a very cute tale of meeting a stranger who helps Jubliee with self realization and turns a nightmarish Christmas into the best one.

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A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green: Tobin, Angie (famously known as Duke) and JP are watching a James Bond movie while it is snowing outside. Tobin gets an unexpected call from a friend working at the Waffle House that a Christmas miracle has taken place and the otherwise dull Waffle House is filled with Cheerleaders. He commands Tobin and his friend to come there immediately with Twister. Considering this as a once in a life event all three of them struggle their way through the snow and finally reach the Waffle House only to realize that Tobin and Angie have always liked each other.  It is a very sweet story about two friends liking each other but not realizing it. I felt that the story was a little dragged but the end made up for it.

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The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle:  Addie and Jeb are having relationship troubles and they break up right before Christmas. She emails him to meet her at Starbucks and his not turning up means only one thing. He is not interested in patching up. On top of it Addie impulsively colored her naturally beautiful blond hair ‘Pink’. Plus her best friends think she is self obsessed and she doesn’t think about others as much. On the day of Christmas Addie has an early morning shift at Starbucks. In between she has to pick up a teacup pig for her best friend. She has so much going within her and experiences a major moment of self discovery. There are lots of ups and downs in their relationship but they still stick together through it all. I kind of like this tale the most.  Plus angels and teacup pigs add a flavor to it.

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All three tales are sweet, funny at times, mushy, cute and hilarious. This is a light hearted book, perfect to read on a lazy, cozy afternoon, curled by in a blanket with a cup of coffee.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Book Review: E-Squared

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Title: E-Squared

Author: Pam Grout

Page: 163 pages

Plot: Don’t face reality. Create reality! E-Squared could best be described as a lab manual with simple experiments to prove once and for all that reality is malleable, that consciousness trumps matter, and that you shape your life with your mind. Rather than take it on faith, you are invited to conduct nine 48-hour experiments to prove there really is a positive, loving, totally hip force in the universe. Yes, you read that right. It says prove.
The experiments, each of which can be conducted with absolutely no money and very little time expenditure, demonstrate that spiritual principles are as dependable as gravity, as consistent as Newton’s laws of motion. For years, you’ve been hoping and praying that spiritual principles are true. Now, you can know.

Favorite Quote: “It’s right underneath your fingers, baby. That’s all you have to understand—everything is right underneath your fingers.”

Thoughts:  I have always been fascinated by the Law of Attraction. I have read a couple of books about it as well. It is easy to read and admire it but difficult to consciously make an effort to implement it in your approach. Hence I was not so keen on reading this book until my friend insisted me to do so.

What makes this book different from what I have read in the past is the series of exercises that the author asks you to undertake. The exercises are simple and fun. I tried a few easy ones and they really worked.  It definitely takes time to intentionally make it a point to follow these laws but hopefully with practice it will become a part of your lifestyle.

E-Squared aims to tell the readers that 1. There is an invisible energy force or field of infinite possibilities.2.You impact the field and draw from it according to your beliefs and expectations. 3.  You, too, are a field of energy. 4. Whatever you focus on expands.  5.  Your connection to the field provides accurate and unlimited guidance.6. Your thoughts and consciousness impact matter. 7. Your thoughts and consciousness provide the scaffolding for your physical body.8. You are connected to everything and everyone else in the universe.9. The universe is limitless, abundant, and strangely accommodating.

This book if for you if you believe that your thoughts impact what you get in life and are looking for an experience to strengthen your belief. If you are planning to read this book, I would advise you to keep an open mind and try out the exercises. Don’t rush into reading the book. Read one chapter a day; implement the exercise before moving on to the next one.

Keep Believing!

Rating: 4/5

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Dubai Dairies

Hey Wanderers, I took a trip to the beautiful sand cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi with my family this Feb. I am super late posting this blog since I clicked many images but something went wrong and I have very few images left with me. So I was contemplating whether to post this or not. But then I thought what the hell, I will just share with you guys my experience in the best possible way I can.

I went in early Feb and the weather was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It was breezy and warm during the day with a bit of a chill towards the night. The city is so well planned and developed. Every bit of Dubai and especially Abudhabi, speaks royalty. Here are a few snippets from my trip.

These shot were clicked before landing in Dubai. The view of the civilization in between the large spread desert land from the sky was a treat.

The man made Dubai Marina is one of the places to do fun activities in water. At night we took a Dhow cruise which offered a relaxing dinner with authentic Dubai performances, some singing and dancing too.

This is the Jumeirah beach and the ‘Burj Al Arab’ one of the best hotels in the world. The beach was filled with tourist.

The other images are of Burj Khalifa and a store at Dubai mall. Both these places are interlinked. We went “at the top’ of Burj Khalifa and the view from there was amazing. Plus we saw the fountain show that happenes every evening at the Burj Khalifa.

The Dubai mall is a heaven for shopaholics. With so many brands, food joints and activities to do this mall becomes a must visit place while visiting Dubai. Some other place which are a must visit for shopaholics are the Meena Bazar and the Gold Souk.

We also visited the Global Village and the Miracle garden which are a little away from the main city. Global Village is a huge park where all the countries of the world are created and their cultural heritage is displayed. There are sellers inside each country that cell the specialty of their nation.  It is like a mini world tour 😉

The Miracle Garden is a paradise for all the nature lovers. It has thousands of species of flowers planted in various shapes and sizes to create objects. These castles made out of flowers looked like I had stepped into a fairyland.

 

The first image is of Atlantis which is one of the best places to live in Dubai.  The rest are just a few random structures from the Dubai skyline.

How can you visit Dubai and not visit the desert safari? The car ride over the sand dunes and the sunset were the highlights of the safari. The later part of the safari included a camel ride, dinner, fire show and of course belly dancing. This is one of the must dos of a Dubai trip.

These are images from the Dubai museum. This was a part of the city tour we took. The museum has many antiques from the early days of Dubai and a modeled representation of the history and evolution of Dubai. After visiting this museum I was amazed to see the barren land turned into a wonderful city of Dubai just by the will and perseverance.

I love dophins. They are my spirit animal. In Mumbai we don’t get to see dolphins at all. And when I got to see the dolphin and seal show and it made my day. I had a smile on my face throughout. The other image is of the huge aquarium near the entrance of the Dubai mall. It has a variety of aquatic life and it’s so huge that people can actually do shark cage diving there.

These are the images from the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. To enter the mosque one needs to be fully covered.This is one of the prime sites in the city. The architecture and the intricate carving and the inlay work is exuberant.

I visited two theme parks, the IMG world of adventure in Dubai and ofcourse the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. I loved Ferrari world and riding on the Formula Rosa was out of this world. It truly gives you the Ferrari experience. I loved the Haunted Hotel in the IMG park. I wanted to visit the newly opened Motiongate, Legoland and Bollywood theme park but we were running short of time.

I regret loosing the images but I cherish the fond memories made in the trip. Dubai you have been amazing, welcoming and full of fun. See you soon!

Book Review: Encounters of a Fat Bride

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Title: Encounters of a Fat Bride

Author: Samah Visaria

Pages: 159 pages

Plot: Madhurima Pandey is twenty-five, single, and gradually coming to terms with the annoying ‘you’re next’ nudges from family and friends. But soon they realize that chances of finding a groom for her are slim-mainly because she’s not. At 93 kilos, she knows she isn’t the ideal weight for marriage, even if her family believes she’s the ideal age.
Despite her reservations, the hunt begins, and so does a spree of rejections until Harsh comes along. Madhu cannot believe that a boy with no obvious flaws has agreed to marry her. Low self-esteem makes her suspect he’s either impotent or a homosexual, but she doesn’t turn down the proposal immediately.
A negligible period of courtship and a hurried engagement follow. But does Madhurima really find her happily-ever-after? Or are there more surprises in store?
Jovial, witty and unapologetically honest, Madhurima Pandey’s story of struggle and survival in the run-up to her D-Day gives you a refreshingly new take on the big fat Indian wedding.

Thoughts: In ‘Encounters of a Fat Bride’ we follow Madurima Pandey, our twenty-five year old protagonist whose family is looking for a groom for her in a typical arrange marriage set up. Madhurima is well educated and independent but not really an “ideal” bride as per the society because she weight 93 kgs. While her friends are having fairytale weddings, she is facing several rejections due to her weight. This causes a serious damage to her self esteem. The story revolves around Madhurima’s struggle to find a groom until the day of her wedding. Even the chapters are titled as a countdown to the wedding.

The book unveils from Madhurima’s perspective. Her sarcasm, anecdotes and take on things add an essence to the story. The flow of the book is seamless and the language is simple. The characters are quite relatable and realistic.  The gamut of arrange marriage and its effects are very well portrayed. I finished reading the entire book in a day. I was eager to find out who and how does Madhurima marry.

The book is a lighthearted, funny read that addresses the issues like body shaming, concept of arrange marriage, dowry, etc in a way that it appeals the reader and also highlights these issue.

Ratings: 4/5

PS: Thank you to the author for giving me a copy of the book for an honest review.

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Unboxing- ‘The Colour Drama’ Fab Bag July’17

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Hey Wanderers, we need bright colours to lift up the mood in this gloomy weather and that’s exactly what the July’ 17 Fab Bag aims at doing.  My Colour Drama July Fab Bag came in a bright pop pink colour on the very first day of the month. I simply loved the bag. The colour is so perfect for the weather.

This month’s bag contained four products:

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  • Sugar it’s a-pout time! Vivid Lipstick – 10 True Oxblood: Rs 599/- The shade of the lipstick was up for choice and I went ahead with this Burgundy Red shade. The lipstick is creamy and spreads evenly on the lips giving it a matte finish. It is highly pigmented and provides great coverage. There are six more shades in this range. I have been flaunting this shade more often than the others ever since I got it. I am definitely going to try the other shades from this range.

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  • Kronokare Hydrate The Hair Shampoo: Rs.165 for 55ml- This is my first time trying this brand. This came with a little brochure of the new shampoo range with a discount of Rs 200/-.    It is a travel size product and I will be carrying it with me this month on my vacation. It is a hydrating hair shampoo with natural extracts of Bergamot, Grapefruit and Orange plus it is silicone and mineral free.  It claims to rejuvenate the lost shine and silky touch.

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  • Just Herbs Herb Enriched Skin Tint: Rs.385/- for 15g– This product is for someone who wants a ‘no make-up’ look.   This skin tint offers UV protection, moisturizes the skin and also provides coverage to some extent.  It is light on the skin, making it a perfect product for daily use and to carry around in your bag.

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  • Tvakh Fruit Enzyme Alcohol Free Toner: Rs.160/- for 50ml- This is an alcohol and sulphate free fruit toner. This is ideally the best part about it. I avoid using toners with alcohol and this one is just perfect for every skin type. It reduces the pores and leaves the skin feeling fresh and hydrated. This is perfect for sensitive skin also since it is a natural product

 

This month’s Fab Bag is thoughtfully curated keeping in mind the necessities of the season. I have no complains and I am very happy with all the products, service and the bag itself.  The total value of the bag is around Rs 1309/-. You can buy it here.

Book Review: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

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Title: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams

Author: Deepak Chopra

Page: 115 pages

Plot: This is a book you will cherish for a lifetime, for within is pages are the secrets of making all your dreams come true. Based on natural laws that govern all of creation, this book shatters the myth that success is the result of hard work, exacting plans, or driving ambition.

Instead, Deepak Chopra offers a life-altering perspective on the attainment of success: When we understand our true nature and learn to live in harmony with natural law, a sense of well-being, good health, fulfilling relationships, and material abundance spring forth easily and effortlessly.

Deepak Chopra is the bestselling author of numerous books and audio programs that cover every aspect of mind, body, and spirit. His groundbreaking books blend physics and philosophy, the practical and the spiritual, with dynamic results.

The Seven Laws of Success distills the essence of Chopra’s teachings into seven simple, yet powerful, principles that can easily be applied to create success in all areas of your life. Filled with timeless wisdom and practical steps you can apply right away, this is a book you will want to read and refer to again and again.

Favorite Quote: “The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present’.”

Thoughts: This is a pocket sized book which I managed to complete in less than an hour. But actual understanding of every aspect will take much longer. Deepak Chopra offers seven laws of success from a spiritual perspective. One should not seek success only in terms of money and fame but from a self growth and self transformation point of view. He sums up the insights of the secret to the overall success in seven laws:

1.Pure potentiality
2.Giving
3.Cause-Effect (Karma)
4.Least Effort
5.Intention and Desire (Intention & Attention)
6.Detachment
7.Purpose (Dharma)

Each law is explained in a compact manner, sticking to the point and yet offering the understanding of each law. There are simple techniques mentioned in the book on how to implement the laws in our daily life. The writing is flowy yet simple and to the point. After reading this book, I became responsive towards the law of pure potentiality and aware of the fact that everything works in harmony with the universe. I haven’t tried implementing all the laws myself but I do look forward to reading it again and trying to inculcate the learnings from this book in my life.

Rating: 4/5

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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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