Book Review — The Sacred Sword by Hindol Sengupta

Thank you Penguin Random House India for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Summary – The Sacred Sword chronicles the rise of Guru Gobind Singh, a Sikh warrior to be reckoned with. At the prime age of 9 years, Gobind Rai’s childhood came crashing down when his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was assassinated by the Mughals. In order to restore the Sikh faith in the minds of thousands of people, Gobind assumes the position of guru and begins to train villagers. He builds the Khalsa, a group of extraordinary warriors who mirror the values of Sikhism and fight to defend its honor. Despite all of his successes, the northern kings underestimate his power, plotting with Emperor Aurangzeb to defeat the guru. But they too learn by experience, what it is to cross Guru Gobind Singh. Hindol Sengupta’s novel merges history and fiction to create an empowering tale.

Review – Historical fiction is one of my all time favourite genres. I have never read anything by Hindol Sengupta, so this one was a pleasant surprise. Even though the author forewarns us that there’s a good mixture of fiction in the novel, I found myself rooted to the spot with all of the events I was learning about. I have never been exposed to stories about the Sikh community. And I felt like this book was great in conveying their values, mannerisms and other sensibilities. The fact that their sayings or proverbial phrases were even translated in English was a wonderful addition. You get to understand their religious texts and their perspective about God. Naturally, religion is a major theme in this novel. It poses quite a few questions about the clashing of two religions. In light of their outlook, you find yourself evaluating certain perspectives of yours. Further, the novel also explores elements like war, blind faith etc.

The writing style is refreshing and vivid. For a majority of the novel, I was so inspired by the portrayal of Guru Gobind Singh that I could almost imagine myself as a character in the story. Aurangzeb’s depiction did him no good. I wanted to punch him every time his narcissistic persona made an appearance. The battle scenarios were invigorating to say the least. All those who aren’t familiar with Hindi or Punjabi terms, fear not; there’s a sizable glossary at the end. While the story reflects Guru Gobind Singh’s expertise, we are not made privy to how he became so well versed. I would have liked to know about his upbringing and training. That would have made the story more realistic. Some of the poetry included is truly splendid. I really enjoyed reading The Sacred Sword because it was a worthy history lesson devoid of the monotony of textbooks. It is told from the point of view of Gobind and that makes it more special. If you enjoy historical fictions, PICK UP this novel.

What do you get out of it? Invaluable lessons about loyalty, bravery, the Sikh faith and the tyranny of the Mughals. Overall, a good update on Indian history.

Ratings – 4 out of 5 stars.

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TV Show Recommendations – If You Like Jane The Virgin…

TV series’ like Jane The Virgin are full of feels. They bag the family drama, romance and self-growth aspects like a pro! JTV, in particular, is one of my all time favourites. Not just because Jane’s character is super easy to relate to, but because of how well Gina Rodriguez brings that character to life and makes you want to be a part of her family. Watching the three (extremely short for my liking) seasons was a journey full of retrospection and wistful musings, for a TV show junkie like me. The manner in which her attitude towards life, passions, morals have been delineated allows us to believe in the power of perseverance and unity. It mirrors the success she ultimately experiences, while teaching us how wonderful it is to aspire. Hell, she doesn’t even let an unplanned insemination get in the way of her becoming an author! You couldn’t possibly have a better excuse than hers.

Here are some other television shows that grant us our daily dose of dramatic goodness, while urging us to follow our dreams:

  • The Carrie Diaries- Carrie Bradshaw knows how to take risks. When her law internship appears bleak in comparison to the job next door at Interview magazine, she jumps at the chance. With her charm, diligence and wit, she persuades Larissa, the editor to give her a full time job. Living the high life in Manhattan, Carrie comes to terms with making difficult choices with regards to education, friendship, love and family. The Carrie Diaries makes you fall in love with life all over again.


  • Younger – This is an endearing story of 40 going on 20. Liza, a divorced mother, realizes that while she was living her life as a wife and a mother, her career slipped out of her grasp. Now that she is ready to resume work in the publishing field, nobody wants to hire a 40 year old. So what does she do? She rebuilds her identity as a 26 year old, trying to fit into a world she had left behind. Her zeal for life is magically renewed donning this “younger” skin. Younger is a hearty TV series that explores the publishing industry through the eyes of Liza’s double persona.

  • Girlboss- Sophia is an eccentric character, barely surviving on her own. She has cut off all ties with family and friends alike, keeping only Annie (her bestfriend) by her side. She lucks out when a thrift shopping episode opens her eyes to the world of vintage fashion. After much deliberation, struggle and self-doubt, her eBay store gains momentum, with her refurbishing and selling vintage clothes. In the span of the 13 part series, we see Sophia unfurl and become a much better version of herself. She is a testament to what dedication to one’s job looks like. There’s a good deal of humor, sass and fashion in this show to make you want to binge watch.

  • Famous in Love – Paige, an ambitious college student, swings by a movie audition simply because her bestfriend insisted. Now, she has landed the lead role in the movie and has no idea how to juggle between her normal life and the one behind all the glitz and glamor. Friendships fall through the roof as new ones reserve a spot in her life. Does following one’s heart have to be so expensive?


  • The Bold Type – Three bestfriends, Jane, Sutton and Kat work for Scarlet magazine as an article writer, social media manager and fashion aspirant respectively. In a highly competitive and talent-driven world, these women experience the highs and lows of baring their soul to the society. You see, the devil may always come to collect his prize, but the social media trolls make life in hell look like a vacation. Filled with work woes, swoon-worthy relationships and mesmerizing shots of NYC, The Bold Type is quickly making its way up my favourites list.

There’s more than two months left for Jane The Virgin’s next season; enough time to indulge in the above mentioned lovelies. They are overflowing with empowered women and drool-inducing career paths. As a media graduate, writer and avid reader, these shows are my calling; their locations are undoubtedly made of Siren songs. Let me know if I’ve missed out any other TV shows that inspire you to give your absolute best each day. We all need such feel-good, quality content!

Book Review — Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending a copy of this book for review. 

In this epistolary novel, Leah Thomas pens down a friendship so rare; a sense of optimism seldom seen through the characters of Oliver Paulot and Moritz Faber. Each a vital component of this touching narrative, teach us that sometimes youngsters can be a lot more mature than they are given credit for. Oliver is allergic to electricity and has epilepsy. He lives far from civilization, cocooned in a no-electricity zone with his mother. On the other hand, Moritz was born without eyes and uses a pacemaker to stabilize his heart. Through letters, they become the best of friends; becoming a sort of life jacket for each other. Except for one misfortune – neither can meet face to face for that would mean the end of one. Oliver and Moritz have always yearned for a shot at normalcy and to discover their apparently common history. With the help of loved ones, they strive to get there. But sometimes life gets too overwhelming when bullies, loneliness, love and suppression get the best of the two boys. Because You’ll Never Meet Me is not just the sun shining through the storm, it is a flag of strength and endurance.

Its been long since I enjoyed every page of a book from to start to finish. This novel is so captivating with its innocence and beautiful writing that it will for long be a standard of YA epistolary fiction for me. Oliver for most of the book is a very cheerful, buoyant character who urges Moritz to be strong and dauntless. Moritz initially is a very rigid, serious person who doesn’t appreciate Oliver’s forward nature. But slowly as they share their woes with each other and learn to be a “kickstand”, both of them grow to become more satisfied and happy. Dual narration is not an easy writing technique and Leah Thomas has done a commendable job of bringing out the perspectives of two very different individuals in her novel. I absolutely love her writing style, which is very fluid and simple. Not too many complexities and such.

There is also a mysterious air in the novel, as Oliver wishes to know about his father and similarly Moritz about his mother. This suspense, however, does not intervene in the process of creating a very contemporary setting for the novel. Liz, Oliver’s neighbour is a spirited girl who shows Oliver that not everyone sees him as a “freak” and ultimately he starts liking her. But I really didn’t like Liz’s character and many a times, she seemed shallow. Moritz too gets his heart set on someone and I definitely cheered them on. The plot, the characters, the writing all come together to give life to this wonderful story. BYNMM deserves more than a five star rating, it deserves to be read over again – because its just that amazing! Please please give this book a try, you most certainly won’t regret it.

Ratings – 5 stars on 5.

Meera