Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Read of 2017: Clockwork or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman




"And once you've wound up a clock, there's something frightful in the way it keeps on going at its own relentless pace. Its hands move steadily round the dial as if they had a mind of their own. Tick, tock, tick, tock!"


A Very Happy 2018 to all.

Oh and the book: Deliciously creepy.

*

First Line: In the old days, when this story took place, time used to run by clockwork.

First Published: 1996

Source: Bought @ 2016 DBF


Review: The Washer of the Dead

The Washer of the Dead The Washer of the Dead by Venita Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the midst of middling, okay reads - books that you read one minute and forget the next - comes that one book that simply blows you away. One that tells you what literature is all about and the power of the written word. The book is subtitled: A Collection of Ghost Stories and it is totally appropriate because these are absolutely haunting.

*

Opening Lines: Do You Believe in Ghosts? That's the sort of question you ask yourself at that part of the night when the ordinary noises of the day have eased into such a deep quiet that it's impossible to sleep.

First Published: 2010

Source: CL [823 C65W]

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wrap-Up: Back to the Classics 2017

I have completed the minimum requirement of six categories in the BACK TO THE CLASSICS challenge hosted @ Books and Chocolate. I hope to do better in the next year.





1.  A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967Close Quarters by Michael Gilbert (1947)

3.  A classic by a woman authorDeath Takes a Wife by Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatrice Malleson) (1959)

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category.

6.  A romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

7.  A Gothic or horror classicWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)

8.  A classic with a number in the title.  The Third Eye by Ethel Lina White (1937)

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It can be an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name in the titleThe Mouse in the Mountain by Norbert Davis (1943)

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: Shangri-La in The Lost Horizon by John Hilton (1933)

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

12. A Russian classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author.

*

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Too many plot-holes and loose ends destroy what could have been a decent mystery. And I don't like narrators who vomit every few minutes.


*

First Line: In my dream, the girl was drifting, far, far below the crashing waves and the cries of the gulls in the cold, sunless depths of the North Sea.

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Review: Nehru Benqab

Nehru Benqab Nehru Benqab by Hansraj Rahbar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Worth reading especially for the hard-hitting letter that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose wrote to Nehru.

*

First Line: Itihas Vigyan hai.

First Published: 1969
Source: Bought @ 2006 WBF, Delhi

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Review: The Child Inside

The Child Inside The Child Inside by Suzanne Bugler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A (woe-is-me) woman who feels life has slipped her by while she takes care of her family starts an affair to recapture her youth. In a way, I could empathize with her but felt she got out of the mess she had created much too easily.

*

First Line: I walked out of that hospital in that hazy sunlight, and forced myself to smile.

First Published: 2012

Source: Bought @ 2015 WBF, Delhi

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Review: Meddling Mooli and the Blue-Legged Alien

Meddling Mooli and the Blue-Legged Alien Meddling Mooli and the Blue-Legged Alien by Asha Nehemiah
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First adventure of Mooli and Soups.

*

First Line: The trouble with Mooli was that his fingers seemed to have a mind of their own.

Source: Bought @ Shimla, 2017

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon Lost Horizon by James Hilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first chapter - as four men meet in an airport cafe and discuss a man and a plane, both lost - confirmed to me why I'd always prefer vintage literature to contemporary literature. The romance of a world- still unknown and uncharted - has disappeared, leaving behind sordid tales of dysfunctional families, demon-ridden detectives, serial killers, and neurotic females. Give me a vintage mystery anytime.

*

First Line: Cigars had burned low, and we were beginning to sample the disillusionment that usually afflicts old school friends who meet again as men and find themselves with less in common than they used to think.

First Published: 1933

Source: CL [823 H54L]

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Review: Maut Ke Intezaar Me

Maut Ke Intezaar Me Maut Ke Intezaar Me by Shiv Verma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author, Shiv Verma, spent a significant part of his life in the jails of British India. In this book, he provides brief descriptions of a few prison inmates of his. A moving view of life behind the bars.

*

First Line: Maut ke intezar mein Shiv Verma ki antim rachna hai....

Source: Bought @ 2010 WBF, Delhi.

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Review: Krantikarni Durga Bhabhi

Krantikarni Durga Bhabhi Krantikarni Durga Bhabhi by N.K. Gupta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Better than the previous book. Contains writings on and of Durga Devi.

*

First Line: Maine anek bar padha aur suna tha....

First Published: 2001

Source: Bought @ 2008 WBF, Delhi.



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Review: Krantimurti Durga Bhabhi

Krantimurti Durga Bhabhi Krantimurti Durga Bhabhi by Vachnesh Tripathi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought this book would be the biography of one of India's best-known women revolutionaries: Durga Vohra. Sadly, it is just a brief account of India's revolutionary movement during the late twenties, centering round Bhagat Singh. At one place, the author says that he knows a lot about Durga Bhabhi's life but cannot and will not reveal it. What????????? Why bother writing a biography then?

*

First Line: Sardar Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev aur Durga Bhabhi ke pati Bhagawati Charan Vohra ....

First Published: 1996

Source: Bought @ DBF, 2003



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Review: Murder After Tea-Time

Murder After Tea-Time Murder After Tea-Time by Leela Cutter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some interesting passages and humorous conversation. Will read the author if I come across any other book.

*

First Line: It was a fine Sunday afternoon in the almost-too-charming little village of St. Martin's Mere.

First Published: 1981

Source: Open Library

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Review: Bhagat Singh: Path of Revolution

Bhagat Singh: Path of Revolution Bhagat Singh: Path of Revolution by Swarn Singh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some interesting details about Bhagat Singh's ancestors.

*

Source: JNU [954.035092 Si646 Pa]



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Review: Lala Lajpat Rai: as an Educationist

Lala Lajpat Rai: as an Educationist Lala Lajpat Rai: as an Educationist by B.R. garg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lala Lajpat Rai was greatly interested in getting India educated and he made it a point to study the educational systems of the various countries he travelled to. This book highlights this aspect of Rai's multi-faceted career.

*

Source: CRL [V2:25xM65:9 L3]

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Challenge Complete: Full House 2017

I have successfully completed the Full House Challenge hosted @ The Book Date.



Here are all the 25 books:

ACROSS

FIRST LINE 

 ON TBR FOR 2+ YEARS: Safe House by Nicci French  (Since 2011)
MORE THAN 500 PAGES: Lajpat Rai: Life and Work by Feroz Chand (590 pages)


SECOND LINE

PUBLISHED PRE-2000: Invisible Green by John Sladek (Pub 1977)
BACK LIST BOOK FROM FAV AUTHOR: What Happened at Hazelwood by Michael Innes
BOOK FROM A LIST: Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James (50 Most Suspenseful Novels)


THIRD LINE

AWARD WINNER: Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane (Irish Literature Prize among others)


FOURTH LINE

FOOD ON COVER OR TITLE: Vegetable Duck by John Rhode


FIFTH LINE

USA/ CANADIAN AUTHOR: The Shadow Guest by Hillary Waugh
NOT REALLY FOR YOU: The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald



*


This is one of my favourite challenges and it is great when one gets the Full House. The 2018 edition of the challenge is up. Here are the details.





Review: Stay Where You Are and Then Leave

Stay Where You Are and Then Leave Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not a patch on The boy in the Striped Pajamas.

*

First published: 2013
Source: CL



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Review: Reading in the Dark

Reading in the Dark Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S











I think the narrator should have told his father the truth. That the father died, thinking that his brother (whom he had looked-up to) was a traitor, was a betrayal both of the father and Eddie. The narrator, in order to keep his mother's secret safe, did a great injustice to his father. And the mother was definitely not as fragile as the narrator would have us believe. My sympathy kind of evaporated for her as the novel progressed. She too should have told her husband the truth.

First Line: On the stairs, there was a clear, plain silence.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Review: Seven Keys to Baldpate

Seven Keys to Baldpate Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delightful story (though the heroine was just a wee-bit mean). I'll definitely be reading more of Biggers.

*

First Line: A young woman was crying bitterly in the waiting-room of the railway station at Upper Asquewan Falls, New York.


First published: 1913
Source: FeedBooks

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Challenge Complete: Dread and Read 2017

I am happy to note that I have successfully completed the 2017 Dread and Read Challenge hosted @ Hotchpot Cafe.




The four books (three of them languishing for more than a decade on my shelves) that I read for the challenge are:

1. Inqlabi Yatra by Manorma Dewan.
2. Lajpat Rai; Life and Work by Feroz Chand
3. Aapbeeti by Bhai Parmanand
4. Bandi Jeewan by Sachindranath Sanyal

So if you have books that are gathering dust on your shelves, why not sign up for the 2018 edition of the challenge. Here are the details.

Review: Target For Conquest

Target For Conquest Target For Conquest by Berkeley Gray
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

My first read of the Conquest series by Berkeley Gray hasn't convinced me to read more of him.

*

First published: 1953

Source: CL



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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy

The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy by James Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Country-House murder mystery that combines elements of two of my favourite authors: Christie and Wodehouse. I was so charmed that I immediately ordered an omnibus edition. One to treasure.

*

First Line: "How well do you know Adolf Hitler?"

First published: 1975

Source: Open Library

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Review: Mystery in White

Mystery in White Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't expect a conventional mystery and you won't be disappointed. Actually 3 and a half stars.

*

First Line: THE Great Snow began on the evening of December 19th.

Source: Faded Page

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Review: Body Unidintified

Body Unidintified Body Unidintified by John Rhode
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting.

*

First Line: "Things happen like that," said Superintendent Hanslet.

Series: Dr. Priestley# 27
First published: 1937

Source: Hathi Trust


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Review: The Boy Who Turned Into An Engine And Other Stories

The Boy Who Turned Into An Engine And Other Stories The Boy Who Turned Into An Engine And Other Stories by Enid Blyton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The charm hasn't faded one bit. Brought back those carefree days.

*

Source: OTS

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Review: You Funny Little Noddy

You Funny Little Noddy You Funny Little Noddy by Enid Blyton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favourite among the Noddy series. As delightful as it was when I read it in my childhood.

*

First Line: Pitter-Patter, splish,splash, drip-drip-drip!

Source: Bought

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Review: The Stranger's Child

The Stranger's Child The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Both the excitement and hardships involved with archival research. Too many pages and unsympathetic characters made it hard reading for me.

*

First Line: She'd been lying in the hammock reading poetry for over an hour.

First Published: 2011
Source: CRL [0111, 3N541, SC Q1]

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Review: Batukeshwar Dutt: Bhagat Singh ke Sahyogi

Batukeshwar Dutt: Bhagat Singh ke Sahyogi Batukeshwar Dutt: Bhagat Singh ke Sahyogi by Anil Verma
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another bio of the same revolutionary - now forgotten but who once in the late 1920s shook the British Empire.

*

First Line: Swadheenta sangram ki anupam gathayon mein bachpan se meri gehri jigyasa rahi hai.

First Published: 2010
Source: Bought at 2015 DBF

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Review: Krantikari Batukeshvar Dutt

Krantikari Batukeshvar Dutt Krantikari Batukeshvar Dutt by Sudhir Vidyarthi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A bio of another forgotten Revolutionary. Contains a hard-hitting satirical poem.

*

First Line: Batukeshvar Datt ka naam yaad aate hi mere bhitar 'inqilab' ke liye.....

First Published: 2011
Source: Bought @ WBF, Delhi, 2016

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Review: Exit Actors, Dying

Exit Actors, Dying Exit Actors, Dying by Margot Arnold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first Margot Arnold which makes me keen to pursue this series.

*

First Line: Penelope Spring leaned back in her theater seat with a sigh of contentment.

First published: 1979
Source: Open Library

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Review: The Safe House

The Safe House The Safe House by Nicci French
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

my first Nicci French and doesn't really inspire me to look for more books by them.

*

First Line: The door was the first thing.

First published: 1998
Source: Bought @DBF, 2011.

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Review: The Manasco Road

The Manasco Road The Manasco Road by Victor Canning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thriller with a mature, domestic drama. why is Canning so little known?

*

Source: DSPL

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Review: An Ear for Murder

An Ear for Murder An Ear for Murder by Michael Brett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hard-boiled stuff that I quite enjoyed.

*

Source: CL

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Review: The Last Tycoon

The Last Tycoon The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Scott Fitzgerald's last (and unfinished) novel lacks the power of The Great Gatsby but some of the passages are real good.

*

First Line: Though I haven't ever been on the screen I was brought up in pictures.

First Published: 1941
Source: Borrowed CRL

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Review: The Black Gloves

The Black Gloves The Black Gloves by Constance Little
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first read by the Little sisters and what a delightful one it turned out to be (though it boggles the mind that a family will continue to stay in a house where not only is a body discovered but also frequent intruders in the dark). Very-very keen to read more books by them.

*

First Line: it was my father who persuaded us to go back to the old homestead for the summer.

First Published: 1939
Source: Open Library

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Review: Murder at Heartbreak Hospital

Murder at Heartbreak Hospital Murder at Heartbreak Hospital by Henry Slesar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Humorous take at the bitchy world of TV serials where inflated egos, insecurities, and role-playing can lead even to murder.

*

First Line: "We can't just have her killed," the man in the checked shirt said, with an earnest expression only slightly marred by the fragment of shrimp tail he was picking out of his teeth.

First Published: 1990
Source: Open Library

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: Deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Sardar Ajit Singh

Deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Sardar Ajit Singh Deportation of Lala Lajpat Rai and Sardar Ajit Singh by Ganda Singh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A forgotten incident in Indian History, straight from the archives.

*

First Line: Lala Lajpat Rai, son of Munshi Radha Kishan was born on January 28, 1865, at Dhudike village in the Faridkot district.

Source: OTS since 2003

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Review: Bhagat Singh: Pages from the Life of a Martyr

Bhagat Singh: Pages from the Life of a Martyr Bhagat Singh: Pages from the Life of a Martyr by A.B. Bardhan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read the Hindi version of the book.

*

First Line: Bhagat singh ka janam krantikari swatantrta senaniyo....

Source: Bought @WBF, Delhi, 2017.

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Review: Lala Lajpat Rai: Writings and Speeches - Vol I 1888-1919

Lala Lajpat Rai: Writings and Speeches - Vol I 1888-1919 Lala Lajpat Rai: Writings and Speeches - Vol I 1888-1919 by Lala Lajpat Rai, V.C. Joshi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was a time when political leaders thought deeply about the problems plaguing the people and the remedies thereof.... this collection also showcases the vast reading of the Punjab Kesri.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Review: Krantikari Bhagat Singh

Krantikari Bhagat Singh Krantikari Bhagat Singh by C.U. Panda
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wonder why writers are so keen to show Gandhi-Bhagat Singh as some Father-Son combo.

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Review: History of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha

History of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha History of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha by Comrade Ram Chandra
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read another edition of the book which had been published by the author himself. Comrade Ram Chandra was a college-mate of Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev and details the formation of the NBS in this book. I wish he had added more reminiscences of the two martyrs.

*

First Line: Youth is the builder and architect of the world.

Source: OTS since 2003.

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Review: Inqlabi Yatra

Inqlabi Yatra Inqlabi Yatra by Manorama Dewan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brief biography of the author's parents - Pricipal Chhabi Das and Sita Devi who were both dedicated freedom fighters. Wish it had been a little lengthier.

*

First Line: Jab mene apne mata pita....

Source: Bought @DBF, 2007

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Review: Murder in an English Village

Murder in an English Village Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting start to a series though referring to a person as 'that' rather than 'who' shows quite clearly that it is a modern work as vintage mysteries would never refer to a person as 'that'.

*

First Line: Beryl Helliwell read the advertisement for a third time, not quite believing her good fortune.

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Review: The Contribution of the Revolutionists in India's Freedom Struggle

The Contribution of the Revolutionists in India's Freedom Struggle The Contribution of the Revolutionists in India's Freedom Struggle by Hiren Gohain, Amrit Jyoti Mahanta
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Translated from the original Assamese about the role the revolutionaries played in the freedom struggle of India.

*

First Line: Did India achieve her independence through peaceful and non-violent means?

Source: Bought @DBF, 2011.

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Review: Madhubala: Her Life Her Films

Madhubala: Her Life Her Films Madhubala: Her Life Her Films by Khatija Akbar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lucid biography of Hindi cinema's most beautiful face by an ardent admirer.

*
First Life: I 'discovered' Madhubala in the nicest way possible.

Source: Borrowed

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Review: The Indian Ferment

The Indian Ferment The Indian Ferment by H.G. Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An travelogue by a Quaker who arrived in India in 1927. Okay but I did expect a little more.

*

First Line: India, like the figures of her gods, is a land with many faces.

First Published: 1929

Source: Bought

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Review: Gandhi's encounter with Indian Revolutionaries

Gandhi's encounter with Indian Revolutionaries Gandhi's encounter with Indian Revolutionaries by Rama Hari Shankar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Published form of the author's doctoral thesis examining the (fractured) relationship between Gandhi and the revolutionaries who did not believe that his policies will bring about real freedom.

*

First Line: The Indian National Movement in the early twentieth century....

Source: Bought in 2014.

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Review: Bejoy Kumar Sinha: A Revolutionary's Quest for Sacrifice

Bejoy Kumar Sinha: A Revolutionary's Quest for Sacrifice Bejoy Kumar Sinha: A Revolutionary's Quest for Sacrifice by Srirajyam Sinha
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We do not know much about those who fought along side India's most famous revolutionary - Bhagat Singh. This biography of Bejoy Kumar Sinha - the man who played an important role in the formation of HSRA and spent his youth in the infamous Cellular jail at Andamans - by his wife, is thus an important document.

*

First Line: During the days of India's epic struggle for freedom countless patriotic men and women gave up their occupations and displayed remarkable courage.

Source: Bought in 2002.

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Review: Shaheedon ke Humsafar

Shaheedon ke Humsafar Shaheedon ke Humsafar by Sudhir Vidhyarthi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where is Sukhdev?????????? That's the question I kept on asking as the writer wrote about and interviewed those who had fought alongside the martyrs of the Indian freedom struggle. The way Sukhdev has been sidelined in our writing of the revolutionary movement is worrying. Apart from this, this is a commendable effort from a steadfast chronicler of our revolutionary stream.

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Review: Bhagat Singh par Durlabh Lekh

Bhagat Singh par Durlabh Lekh Bhagat Singh par Durlabh Lekh by M.M. Juneja, Raghubir Singh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another interesting selection of essays on Bhagat Singh.

*

First Line: Ghulam Bharat ka pratek swantrata senani....

Source: Bought @WBF, Delhi in 2016.

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