Reviews of the Last Few Books I’ve Read

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Once a reader, always a reader. No matter how hectic life is, I have always found time to read books. Even if it’s just two pages before bedtime, or a couple of paragraphs while waiting at a doctor’s appointment, reading is my preferred form of escape and will always remain so.

In that spirit and following on the heels of my last books update, I’m here to share a round-up of the books I’ve recently read. I’m not one to follow reading trends or pick books merely because everyone is talking about them. Mostly, one book a month is my book club pick, another is for Project Poirot and the rest I pick randomly after browsing through my TBR. I also try and include a non-fiction book between every 3-5 works of fiction.

A few things I would like to point out – this round-up doesn’t include any of the children’s books that I have read to my son, nor does it include the Agatha Christie’s I’m re-reading as part of my Project Poirot. Two recent reads – “Time Shelter” and “Marple: Twelve New Mysteries” were summarised by me in my August recap post, so you can read about them there. Here are six other books that I haven’t mentioned on my blog as yet.

Reviews of the last few books I’ve read


Book Blurb on Goodreads:

Internationally renowned, Muzaffar Ali has donned many hats in his lifetime. The scion of the princely house of Kotwara, the boy Muzaffar was shaped by a changing post-Partition India. Having studied science at Aligarh University, he started his career in an advertisement agency in Calcutta, worked with the nascent Air India and then ventured on a journey that produced cinematic masterpieces like Umrao Jaan. Along the way, his path collided with many – from Satyajit Ray to Faiz Ahmad Faiz – and he has cultivated many a passion, whether for cars or couture.

His autobiography is a peek into this wealth of experience – a close look at Ali, prince, poet, philosopher, filmmaker, automobile aficionado and artist. Zikr is also a rich interior portrait of an artist, as Ali takes us behind the scenes of films like Anjuman and Gaman, speaking of the sensibilities that shaped them and the influences on his work. Above all, this is a book that resounds with a deep love for life.

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, seeking to venture off the beaten track of Bollywood or wishing to bite into a slice of erstwhile Awadhi culture, Zikr has something to offer all.

My Review: 3.5/5 stars

Muzaffar Ali is an artist before he’s a writer. His strength lies in painting vivid pictures (through his words) of an interesting and well-lived life. But he tends to veer off topic frequently, before returning to the subject at hand. This habit threw me off.
Overall, however, it’s an interesting book and I enjoyed it. The Urdu poetry is interesting and may appeal to some people, but my favourite parts were learning about his filmmaker’s mind.



Book Blurb on Goodreads:

Valmiki’s Ramayana is the story of Rama’s exile and return to Ayodhya, a triumphant king who will always do right by his subjects.

In Volga’s retelling, it is Sita who, after being abandoned by Purushottam Rama, embarks on an arduous journey to self-realization. Along the way, she meets extraordinary women who have broken free from all that held them back: husbands, sons and their notions of desire, beauty and chastity. The minor women characters of the epic as we know it – Surpanakha, Renuka, Urmila and Ahalya – steer Sita towards an unexpected resolution. Meanwhile, Rama too must reconsider and weigh out his roles as the king of Ayodhya and as a man deeply in love with his wife.

A powerful subversion of India’s most popular tale of morality, choice and sacrifice, ‘The Liberation of Sita’ opens up new spaces within the old discourse, enabling women to review their lives and experiences afresh. This is Volga at her feminist best.

My Review: 4/5 stars

The book focuses on five female characters from the Ramayana, who interact with Sita and make her aware of the importance of being a woman. Through these interactions, Sita liberates herself from Rama and the shackles of society.
It’s a very fast and easy read, and I really liked it because it made me see the Ramayana in a new light. Please bear in mind that I haven’t read much on the Ramayana beyond the absolute basic story when I was a child. For that reason, and for others like me who aren’t so well-versed in Ramayana-themed literature, I highly recommend this book.



Book Blurb on Goodreads:

Sabira Merchant is a name you associate with sophistication and good taste. A trendsetter, she added sparkle to Mumbai’s performing arts scene with her presence.

Bold, beautiful and brilliant, Sabira is India’s beloved thespian, celebrated quiz queen, and renowned grooming and etiquette expert. From bringing disco to the city—her nightclub Studio 29 ushered in a new era in Mumbai’s nightlife, causing a frenzy among partygoers in the ’80s—to training beauty queens such as Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta before they went on to win their crowns, Sabira’s legacy can leave anyone green with envy.

For a suburban Muslim girl who got married in her teens to the love of her life and had three children one after the other, the feats Sabira has accomplished are astounding and inspiring, given how difficult it was for women back then to balance personal life and career, that too in theatre, radio and television. In her memoir ‘A Full Life’, Sabira recounts her eventful journey—her triumphs, setbacks, joys, fears and hopes—and through her journey, a rare glimpse into Mumbai’s glorious past.

My Review: 4/5 stars

This was a fun, easy and engaging read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Merchant was a theatre, radio and TV icon in the last century but more than her professional achievements, it was interesting to have a glimpse of her privileged life as one of Mumbai’s elite. She does share a few risque stories, but I feel she also leaves much unsaid. An interesting book, nonetheless!



Book Blurb on Goodreads:

‘The season of sickles and scrapes had passed; this was the time of axes and spears … it had been a strange harvest.’

A brave father prepares to sacrifice his son; a poet returns to his home across the border to find his books intact among strangers; a young man challenges the neighbourhood rogue to a horse-riding bet to rescue a captive girl; a middle-aged man outs a murderer from among his well-behaved guests at a social gathering; a wife’s faith destroys the hatred in her husband’s heart; and, when humanity is under threat, a dog lays down his life to protect his mistress. The stories in this powerful collection, by one of the most respected names in modern Punjabi literature, record epic moments of survival in the sea of violence that overwhelmed north India in 1947.

Translated by Navtej Sarna, these stories illustrate the truth that hate and violence have no religion, and that courage and compassion, too, are to be found among people of every faith. A harrowing record of the horrors of Partition, Savage Harvest is also a poignant tribute to the human spirit—to men and women who will wage their all in defence of humanity.

A poignant collection of stories by one of the greatest names of Punjabi literature. Starkly illustrates the pain and trauma experienced by both sides during Partition. Also describes instances of friendship and goodwill between Hindus and Muslims in the midst of all the violence.

My Review: 4/5 stars

Full disclosure: Mohinder Singh Sarna and his son Navtej are my mother’s relatives. That may have been the reason I picked this fantastic book up, but it became a great matter of pride after reading the book, to know of this amazing literary connection in my own family. “Savage Harvest” is a collection of partition themed short stories translated from Punjabi to English. There is a wide range of stories to choose from. Some are traumatic, some hopeful but each one is poignant and moving.
It’s interesting that apart from the events of the partition, the stories also touch on later events shaped by it – the ‘71 war, the ‘84 riots, nuclear testing and more. I highly recommend it.



Book Blurb on Goodreads:

Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a psychologically suspenseful novel about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

My Review: 3.5/5 stars

It’s a very well-written crime novel with a unique premise, where a failed writer steals the idea of a story and writes a best seller novel with it. Then someone who knows about the theft comes after him.
The book is a good one but I did find it quite easy to predict what was going on and I also felt it was too far-fetched to be believable in any way. It was a good time-pass read nonetheless.



Book Blurb on Goodreads:

A stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith, and medicine, set in Kerala and following three generations of a family seeking the answers to a strange secret.
Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life. All of Verghese’s great gifts are on display in this new work: there are astonishing scenes of medical ingenuity, fantastic moments of humour, a surprising and deeply moving story, and characters imbued with the essence of life.

A shimmering evocation of a lost India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.

My Review: 4.5/5 stars

This was a book I read for my book club. Though I was initially daunted by its vast length, I’m glad I decided to read it because I thoroughly enjoyed it! This epic covers a family’s saga in Kerala from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It’s very well-written, draws you in completely, has very compelling characters with interesting storylines and beautiful descriptions.
It’s a tad too long and some stories don’t stand out as much as others but still a very well-crafted and informative read nonetheless.


So, this was my recent book review round-up. Have you read any of these? Or are you looking forward to reading them? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.


This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla.


This post is part of the Bookish League blog hop hosted by Bohemian Bibliophile.


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  1. I love mini-reviews and I respect anyone that can concise their thoughts as well as you have here not just for one book but SIX books! I’m so bad at focusing my thoughts to highlight on what needs to be heard. Lovely reviews!

  2. Hi Noor, You’ve written about so many books! I’ve only read ‘The Liberation of Sita’ by Volga from your list. Interesting to know about your connection to the writer and translator of ‘Savage Harvest’. I liked reading about ‘Zikr’ and about Sabira Merchant’s book as well. I saw a variation of ‘The Plot’, with the whole ‘stealing manuscript’ bit as a scene on ‘Gossip Girl’ just this afternoon 🙂 And quite frankly I’m rather intimidated by the size of ‘The Covenant of Water,’ and I feel it might just be too depressing for me to read…

  3. What a wealth of recommendations Noor. The Plot sounds so much like Yellowface, which I enjoyed. Zikr sounds interesting too. I loved Muzzafar Ali’s films. I get what you said about him meandering off. A good editor would have taken care of that. And Covenant of Water, I absolutely want to read.
    I liked The Liberation of Sita though the language was a bit of a letdown but then translations are hard to master.

  4. Interesting list. I would love to read THE PLOT as you said it’s a pretty good timepass though not very believable. I read a book like that by Sidney Sheldon and I got a shock in the end because it was Sidney and I love his other books. Lol!

  5. Hey Noor, as usual all your post impress me because of the way you pen them and the value it adds both in regards to vocabulary and knowledge in my mind database. What that I really like about you is that you dont stretch things bigger to share your opinion about any book you read. You give crisp and to the point opinion about the books and that’s your biggest USP. Coming to the books from the above list I read only Covenant Of Water which was a 5 star read for me. from the remaining list of books I wish to pick The Liberation of Sita….as the title plus your review is tempting me to pick it up. Thanks for the recommendations and honest reviews.

  6. The world gets smaller and smaller, it’s nice to know that Navtej Sarna is related to you. I met him in August, the interview lies half done, as he has been busy. I haven’t read his novels, but read the excerpts of his works on his website. I would certainly like to read Time Shelter, The Plot from your list.

  7. I just finished “A little Life ” and it is very rough emotionally, so Savage Harvest is definitely not something I am up to reading. Zikr again is not something I would pick up because Muzzaffar Ali does not interest me. I think I would love to read ‘A Full Life ” after reading “A Little Life” for a little pick-me up.
    “The Covenant of Water” is lying in my home but I keep getting the feeling that this will remind me of “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy. Is it so or is it the Kerala connection only?

  8. The Liberation of Sita sounds very interesting! As someone who loves to read fresh takes on Hindu mythology I think I’ll enjoy it. It’s a pity that The Plot turned out to be predictable because the blurb sounds quite intriguing to me. Great reviews!

  9. Firstly, I loved the title of the autobiography, Zikr. I so love this word, and uttering Zikr gives me a sense of unspoken words. Secondly, I liked the book by Volga. I have also bought her one book, titled Yashodhara and currently am reading it. I avoided Liberation of Sita this time because I already have an unfinished boook on Sita so I will pick this book later.

  10. The Covenant Of Water and Navtej Sarna’s book has been on my TBR for a few months now. Haven’t read any by Volga too, I think I should pick it

  11. I read The Covenant of Water as a book club read too, and my God, was I floored! Actually, I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author himself. And that is an experience in itself. I agree with you that the book is a tad bit long, but it so beautifully written, I didn’t actually mind the length (I also finished it faster than I had expected, it was such a page turner for me). The essence of its characters has stayed with me even thought its been a couple months I listened to the audiobook.

    I am adding The Plot straight to my TBR, because the plot of The Plot is eerily similar to Yellowface!

  12. Every time I passed the book title in your review list, I wished to have read the next one but got frustrated until the last title– The Covenant of Water, a soft cover I have brought in years. I wanted to feel and smell it, a Keralite living away from Kerala, the reason and the motivation. The mere volume, 724 pages, somehow threatens me, though. The rate at which I cover the pages, I will take months to finish it.

  13. A few years before I read Liberation of Sita and the book was haunting me for a long time. I cannot pin point why but the relevance of the book in the current world is so palpable. I am planning to read covenant of water soon.

  14. I have been meaning to read The Liberation of Sita by Volga since long, hopefully I can get down to it now. Thanks for the lovely post, really enjoyed reading the mini reviews!

  15. Loved your reviews and also quite fascinated by the fact that you have a method to picking your reads. That relation to Savage Harvest must have changed the reading experience for you.

  16. My copy of Covenant of water is waiting for me to pick it up; such diverse genres you read and reviewed.

  17. This is a treasure trove of mini-reviews 🙂 I’m particularly interested in The Liberation of Sita and I am going to pick it up right away. Thanks for the recommendations.

  18. Kudos to you Noor – love your introductory paragraph about your love for books. I have been thinking about reading The Liberation of Sita by Volga, thanks to your review, I will add it to my TBR.

  19. I have not read any of these books, however from your review and the book covers all of them looks emotionally draining, may it be stories of partition or about Sita.
    Super work of writing these reviews together.

  20. That’s a formidable list, Noor. I remember attending a poetry reading last winter in which Muzaffar Ali Sa’ab spoke of his book. The Covenant of Water has a very interesting plot.

  21. So many book I like these concise reviews. The long ones give away most of the plot and there is no thrill in reading a book. I wish I could get my reading habit back.

  22. I truely admire ur love for reading which happens seldom with me mostly sticking to more of science digger love reading alot about it. I liked the reviews you have given here apt and just what is needed for one to know. The Liberation of Sita did catch my attention.

  23. Wow, your list of recommendations is cool! Zikr sounds interesting, but honestly, my busy schedule has kept me from reading much lately. Your reviews are always right on, Noor. Keep them coming!

  24. I like your review. It is short and crisp. I have started reading, slowly getting on reading track, at least reading 4 to 5 page per day. Your list is helpful for picking me the books. I want to read Sita and Plot by reading your review. Honestly I would love to read partitions story too.

  25. Appreciate you sharing this lovely list of books you’ve read. As per your rates, some of them really passed your taste. Unfortunately for me, the storylines didn’t gave me any excitement. Great reading!

  26. You are one of my go-tos for book recommendations. Love your picks. I have got a copy of A Full Life and Savage Harvest based on your recommendation on Insta stories but haven’t got around to reading them yet. Hopefully this Holiday season.

    Thank you so much for participating in the blog hop, Noor. And for your constant support.

      1. I Would like to read The Liberation of Sita. As I understand from your review it is about the reconsideration of women in the epic tale that is read beyond the passage of time.🤩

  27. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these recent reads. The one that caught my eye was the ‘A Full Life’. It’s always helpful to hear real insights before diving into a new book.

  28. Wowww!!! u have read sooo many and I am struggling with one thick one since May. I wish the quote applied to me too.
    So you have writing in your blood Noor? hmmm…
    I can understand your feeling of pride while reading that book.
    Among the books in your list, I would be most interested in The liberation of Sita and The Covenant of Water.

  29. I want to read Sabira Merchant’s book. I remember her on Doordarshan. Very graceful. The Covenant of Water also sounds good. Thank you for sharing such a wide range of books.

  30. The Liberation of Sita sounds very intriguing to me. Would love to pick it up! Mini reviews are my favourite. Looking forward to more of these!

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