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Thursday 19 March 2015

Book Review: Chestnuts by Gilbert Ohanian

About the book:
s there a bully in your life that you don't know how to deal with? I had one too. It prompted me to write 'Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, ' a book outlining practical strategies for defending against bullies and resolving the conflict and aggression that often plagues victims of bullying. Inside these pages, I will take you through my own harrowing journey with bullies - from boarding school beat-ups, to violent attacks from crazed skinheads on the streets of London, to bullies in public school in America. In each chapter a reflection of my personal story will show you what I did wrong, and how you can actually defend yourself in this modern day and age. Find out: * How bullying is perceived by bullies, victims, parents and teachers * What goes on in the mind of a bully, and what you can do about it * How authority figures often make bullying even worse * The steps you can take to defend yourself, find help and heal from the trauma In 'Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, ' you will find out how to deal with psychological, emotional and physical bullying - and even what to do when one of your teachers is being a bully. Get this book now, and empower yourself to stand against the tyranny that oppresses you!
Paperback, 156 pages
Published August 2nd 2014 by CreateSpace

About the author:

Gilbert Ohanian was born in Iran and educated in England.  He loved nearly everything about England, but his experience as a school boy there was marred by persistent bullying.  He was born with a hearing impairment, and as a polite, book-loving child he was seen as an easy mark by bullies.

My Review:

The author, through the act of recounting his own experiences as a child, bring all aspects of bullying to the forefront. He extensively talks about the evil of bullying and the irreparable damage it has the potential to cause. 
Well, first and foremost, I think that this kind of awareness and knowledge is very crucial for the kinds of environments that we are living in, given the increasingly aggressive behaviour of ids these days and their reluctance to comply with rules.
Cyber-bullying, verbal abuse have become so pervasive with the changing situations, and it has never been more difficult to penetrate a child's mind. This in turn makes this evil hard to conquer and counter. That said, we have other prevalent forms of bullying, say, at workplace.
This is one issue that has a gigantic bearing on one's emotional well-being, and yet remains ignored over other things. 
It is the responsibility of each one of us to curb this menace: we all either have been, or are, or might be in the future: a bully, his entourage the victim or a spectator to bullying. The onus of its elimination lies on each one of us: and who can be better to start this awareness but a victim himself?

The author recounts his own traumatic experiences, and one can say that even if the kind of bullying we witnessed wasn't this harsh, it certainly had all its ill-effects even in the milder manifestations.
Now, this book's take on the issue is quite comprehensive, with a peek into the minds of both the bully and the survivor, as well as the spectators. And, personally, I opine, that reading this book is anyday better than reading some  gossip magazine. 
Since, the book covers all stages, possibilities, parties and scenarios of bullying, it might get repetitive, but then for a non-fiction book with a lesson, I don't think it can get any better.
Chestnuts has a symbolic meaning, and Gilbert Ohanian has traced his experiences to suit the chapters.
The points raised are very crucial: Do the penal provisions set down by authorities prove worth the pain or do these just increase the excitement of the work if the bully escapes unscathed? How does one find out the intensity of bullying in a situation? We see, even the authority figures are in a fix. And this is bad news, because these bullies becomes serious offenders when they grow up(sadists, barbaric law-offenders)
The best part of the book is that it attempts to provide directors and guidelines for instance for the parents to gauge the symptoms in their ward, or for the victim to handle the situation to nip it in the bud. There are so many more facets of it: more often than not, it starts off as something harmless. 
However, this story is a work-in-progress, and I think this endeavour is best effective when we have follow-up discussions on the same.

The world is not as safe as it used to be. And, this has come in just at the right time. Everyone must read this for the larger good.

I thank the author for sending me a review copy in exchange of an honest review.



Wednesday 18 March 2015

Book Review: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

This book and this man need no introduction, so I'll just get straight to the review.

My Review:

I have always been a fan of Choose-your-own books, because the idea is very liberating- it combines all the goods of an entertaining read, while eliminates all the frustrations of when the protagonist doesn't listen to us.

But to craft a memoir around this format was to be an arduous task. It was supposed to take so much effort that the author should have drained himself of his energy reserves. But Neil Patrick Harris- the true and sincere performer that he is- outperforms all writers of this format, he outshines, and not just because of who he is, but because of what he does- or rather lets the reader do.

He does the best thing for his readers: gives them the freedom to choose- from the culinary desires to life choices- and never once does he fail to entertain!

I read the book in snippets and parts, which may have been responsible for making me a little lost on the plot front, but this book still goes highly recommended from me.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Author Spotlight and Interview: Virendra Desai

Read our review of the book here.

Ques: What inspired you to pen down such a different book: that of the courageous stories of ordinary women?

Ans: Well, I was out on a expensive shopping trip with my girlfriend (which I had gifted her). While she and her friends were in the trial room (which, usually takes around eternity!), I had nothing else to do rather than guessing the bill. There I saw a lady, old, may be 50, wrinkles on her face guarding the ladies changing room, she was the lady security guard there, for keeping an eye on number of clothes women take inside. I had a very strong urge to go up to her and talk! I spoke to her for five minutes, and my life took a different turn. She was 51, wearing a pant, shirt and a cap, working as a security guard. Her husband was disabled, her two boys were studying engineering, and she alone earned and provided food, shelter to the family,and education to her kids. I was taken aback by the lady's determination! I asked her, how much did she earn? The reply baffled me! Her one month's salary was my one month's petrol bill. In those five minutes she poured her heart out. I walked away with heavy heart and decided that no matter what, I would write a book, which would contain this lady's and many other inspirational stories of struggle and optimism. This way the idea emerged. I went and interviewed 7 different women, ranging from Manager of a multinational bank, to a lady security guard outside the ladies changing room in a shopping mall.

Ques: How did you choose the title of the book, considering I have been curious over how someone came up with such a simple, yet symbolic title?

Ans: The title is very symbolic Kritika. Whether she is my mother, your mother or anybody's mother; you yourself, or in that case any lady in the entire world- I truly believe that, every woman's life on this planet earth is like a poetry. Hence the title! Just like the concept, it popped up in my head one fateful day.

Ques:  How was the experience of writing a book, and seeing it get published?

Ans: I self published the book. The writing experience was life altering. The passion I felt was like never before. All the women in the book took me to the flashback in their lives, and believe me Kritika, I was awe-inspired. I was a layman in the publishing industry, hence in order to get published I had to do a lot of research. I tried pitching the book to some big publishers, but nothing fruitful happened. So, for a concept of this magnitude, I had to take the chance and self publish. I created checkpoints- like obtaining ISBN numbers for my company, designing a cover and the bookmarks, finding the cheapest printing option - almost at par with the rate at which big publishers print; and many more tasks involved with bringing the book to reality. Finally on 25th August 2014, the book saw the light of the day for the first time.

Ques: 4. What can we expect next?

Ans: Currently I am working on part-2 of the book "The Poetry Of A Common Indian Female: Real Indian Women, Real Stories of Hope and Optimism!". The second part will contain '11' real inspirational stories of common Indian women. Who knows, I might write a book about women with no nationality barrier! I would love to do that. Because I truly believe that every woman on this planet earth is special, and worthy of being an Inspiration to billions!

Thank you for the questions Kritika. It was wonderful answering them.

Find the book/author here:
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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

Kritika Narula's favorite books »


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