Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

I just have to begin with I love Khaled Hossieni. There is something magical (sounds cliche I know) about his writing, his choice of words, metaphors and not the least the portrayal of human emotions. This is the second book of his that I am reading (and his third book) and I should say I love it.

I don’t fall in love easily, (I mean with authors ) and don’t fall for the hype of the market, if it all I respond to the hype it has been negative, but And the Mountains Echoed has lived to its hype.

elgeewrites Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed And the Mountains Echoed

Book: And the Mountains Echoed

Author: Khaled Hossieni

Genre: Fiction – ContemporaryDrama

Main Characters: Saboor, Parwana, Masooma, Pari, Abdullah, Nila and Mr Wahdati

Setting: AfghanistanGreeceFrance, California,The USA

When a friend of mine asked me what the book was about, when I was in about the first 20 pages, I said comfortably about love between siblings. But now I am not quite sure, as it had many more complex emotions and relationships than just the sibling love between the lead pair.

The setting of the book is once again Afghanistan much alike his two other books. Afghanistan pre war, during and post war, yet it is not essentially a war drama. The plot runs across countries like Greece;, France;, and The USA.

The story begins with Saboor narrating an Afghan fairy tale to his children Abdullah and Pari, 10 and 3 respectively, about a father who gives up his son to a Djinn so that he could live a better life. Not knowing that the tale mirrored theirs, the siblings are at peace. Pari is soon traded off to a half French woman Nila, who takes her to France leaving her paralyzed husband Mr Wahdati at the care of Nabi, the kid’s step uncle.

Nabi inherits the Wahdati’s bungalow that he rents out to tourists. Meanwhile the Afghan wars and the changes in political scenario make things difficult for everyone around. Do the kids reunite? How do they find each other, if at all, given the political changes?

I loved the interlinked stories, each narrated by different persons, in their point of views. The different POVs is actually a make or break factor and for me it worked so well that I can not stop gushing about it.

The story runs across different time periods, well captured by each different POVs. Though several others had expressed their disappointment, I felt the story had a complete circle, it ended where it started. I accept it had several parallel stories running, yet they had a common theme.

The sister who prevented her sister marrying her love, ended marrying him only to take care of his children. The brother who ran away from the responsibility of taking care of a crippled sister ended up taking care of an estranged husband.

The runaway wife with a very radical view of life ended her life after losing her boyfriend to her daughter. The daughter ends up with her long lost brother, who doesn’t even remember her and ends regretting having not taken care of her mother.

The girl whose mom abandoned her due to her facial imperfection, chooses to.stay and take care of her friend’s mom, while he becomes a plastic surgeon and leaves the country to help others. The son of a wealthy landlord understands that he could never love his dad the same way after he finds he killed his friend’s dad.

Khalid had once again proven himself a master story teller by weaving the lives of several persons with a common thread, full of richness and colours. They are well positioned and their personalities have an element of brutal truth – that makes one feel ‘this is what we humans are capable of’ or ‘this is what I could have done’. Their flaws make them what they are, make us feel closer to them, make us feel that they are humane.

I. Totally. Loved it. I am so completely in love with Khaled Hossieni’s writing. I often share the quotes from And the Mountains Echoed, I can not resist myself for I love them very much. Authors like him are the ones that make me pick my pen to write (oh and the crappy ones, who give me the confidence that if they can, I can too) and at the same time, make me feel inadequate.

I can not recommend And the Mountains Echoed enough.

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Oh Shit Not Again: A Book Review

used to love to hate Chetan Bhagat I take back my words, comparing to this book CB looks like a mature writer. I had to finish this book in one shot, so that I wont have to start the next day with Oh Shit Not Again.

About Oh Shit Not Again

Oh Shit Not Again

Book: Oh Shit Not Again

Author: Mandar Kokate

Genre: Fiction – Drama

Main Characters: Raj, Arti, Seema, Andy, Sam, Neha, Sejal

Setting: India

What I was promised

Have you ever experienced what happens when a porn movie is mistakenly played in front of your grandma and the CD player refuses to stop’

Have you ever experienced what happens when mixture of vodka and soft drink is served to hundreds of people gathered for a party’

Have you ever experienced what happens when a boy is kicked in the groin by a girl when he attempts to kiss her’

Have you ever experienced what happens when a college-going student has an affair with a married woman whose husband carts a gun’

Have you ever experienced what happens when you are conspired into a murder that you had merely witnessed’

Welcome to hilarious story of five friends named Raj (the flirt chap), Arti (the sweet female lead), Andy (the creepy leader), and Sam (the biggest problem of Raj’s messed up life). These people can answer all the above questions in this fun tickling novel. Are you ready to experience the roller coaster ride of events? If yes, then sit back and enjoy!

What I expected

A “Five Point someone / One night at Call centre” (Aka other CB books) type story. And seriously all these instances happening to five different people. I confess that I did like the First “Five Point Someone”.

Reason I say first is because there have been many stories that have followed this pattern, that it lost its charm. It was after I read the Inscrutable Americans that I knew the “first Five Point Someone” was not first of its kind.

What I got:

Take the situations from the blurb + add a dumb.. no no.. pathetic, stupid male protagonist + crappy writing + bad bad bad plots from a badly made B grade Bollywood movies + lots and lots of masala, sleazy moves, sex = Oh shit not again !!!!

Book review of Oh shit not again

Reading through the blurb of Oh Shit Not Again, I thought it should be quite interesting “without reading the reviews”. That is where I went wrong.. The protagonist – a (pathetic) guy in search of “love??”” huh?? Oh, is that why he thinks every time he approaches a girl physically he thinks it is love… Bullshit… How do all the troubles in the world get attracted to him? And he accepts everything? No, I dont want to talk about this guy Raj again.. ever..

Love interest – First of all, there is no love.. He seems to get attracted to every woman in the plot with the same sexual notion and then he calls them love.. Arti, Neha and Sejal.. Oh come on.. and Seema too?

So a few drops of tears and Raj accepts to act as an illicit boyfriend to Sejal, whom he didnt even know a day earlier? It could not become more filmy when Raj announces to marry Sejal. Let me not go into that one..

Is there nothing called sanity in this piece of writing?

And all this crap takes place in a week, maximum?

Note to Self: Never read a book without reading the review(s).

P.S :

‘Beware before you read……
you may die laughing……’

Oh Come on!!! I could not take the irritant look off my face till I closed the book..

P. S (1)
BTW, How do you hold someone’s neck, “from end to end” ?

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

I confess. I picked the book only for the intriguing title, and as it was long since I read a teen romance, I was fully geared up to read the e-book.

In fact, again I read this book under the bed covers after midnight. Aah, don’t worry it is yet another short book so I wasn’t straining much, you overprotective souls out there. Oh never mind that I was watching the television until midnight and then went on to read this book. And I continued to read the rest of the book during my train commute.

Quite out of context, I am almost sure that my co passengers would have been thinking I was out of my mind while I was grinning while reading few passages from this book. And right now when I am writing, no.. texting the review in my mobile they are actually thinking that I am messaging ‘someone’. I can practically hear the voices in their minds and I know that stare. Mission accomplished – given some spicy food for their thoughts. Back to the review, now.

Book: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E Smith
Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung Adult
Main Characters: Hadley Sullivan, Oliver, The Professor / Dad / Mr. Sullivan, Charlotte, Violet.

Setting: New York, The USA, LondonEngland, The UK

Claustrophobic Hadley is flying to England to attend her dad’s wedding, to a woman she has never met. She arrives at the airport disinterested, only to miss the flight by four minutes. She now has to fly on the next flight – three hours later, to reach the wedding just at the nick of the time. At the airport she meets Oliver, a tall messy haired boy who helps her with her luggage and provides company throughout the journey. There happens the inevitable – love at first sight!

But she has a wedding to attend which means she has to bid farewell to him. How does she get through the wedding? Did she ever meet Oliver again? Read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight to know more.

elgeewrites Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight stat

I can understand what a good story this could have been, with such a good plot. Yeah I know this isn’t a plausible situation, but so is love at first gasp I know I broke many a hearts here! Of course, this is a real interesting situation, if it happens day dreams. Oh, well, back to you.

One major thing that was bothering me was the logic in the dad – daughter relationship. Here is the backdrop: Her dad goes to Oxford accepting a new short term job and her mom cannot join him as she has a shop to look after. He was to be back by Christmas.

But it does not happen, as her mom announces they were getting divorced, and is emotionally broken for a while. She is again back on the dating scenario, dating a dentist who is all intent to marry her which she has not accepted yet. Amidst all this, Hadley finds out during a Dad – daughter ski trip that there is another woman in his life, and she shuts him out of her life. Her resentment increases as they both decide to marry and want her to be their bridesmaid.

Okay I get the idea that she is hurt and divorce is tough, but how was this marriage all unfair only to Hadley? And how did it become about her? I mean her mom has moved on and he is genuinely happy, as she says, then what is HER problem? I mean she is okay with her mom dating somebody else but not her dad? Where in the world did the notion came from that he left them for Charlotte?

I dont think it was probable (at least in my mind) for the “Professor” to leave a perfectly happy family in America for months, move to England, fall in love and then announce a divorce over phone call. I mean her mom would have known and there could have been domestic issues and they decided to take a break or something, though nothing of that sort was said to Hadley (or us).

But seriously, did she run away from her Dad’s wedding to search for a boy in an unknown country in a wedding dress without much cash and with her claustrophobia? And then comes back to the wedding, decides to get absorbed in her own boy trouble and her dad plays her shrink? All for an unknown boy (pfftt.. love at first sight)? All on her Dad’s Wedding day, how much ever she might hate it?

Plot was good, execution not so good. I mean I didn’t feel anything during the story. You know that mushy mushy feeling you are supposed to get reading the romance, oh well forget it.

Did I want to know what happens next? hmm no.

Did I hate it? no.

Did I feel sleepy? no.

In fact, only word I could think of is – bland. By the way, have I read any novel that is fully written in simple present? I don’t know for sure but I felt weird sometimes seeing sentences like

“Hadley edges her way toward the windows and surveys the rows of drab gray chairs, most of them occupied and the rest sprouting yellow stuffing at their seams like well-loved teddy bears. She props her backpack on top of her carry-on suitcase and digs for her cell phone, then scrolls through the contacts for her dad’s number.”

Saying that I don’t want to skip quoting some lines I really liked from the book. Actually there were quite a few lines I liked, mostly because they were simple. The most simple things are the closest to the heart, right? So here are a few:

Quotes I loved:

“In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity.”

“It didn’t help that she was right; when had that ever made anything better? “

“The only time it doesn’t help to imagine the sky is when you’re thirty thousand feet in the air with nowhere to go but down.”

“She’s spent the past few weeks secretly wishing this very thing might happen, though admittedly, her imagined scenarios have been a bit more dramatic: a massive airline strike; an epic hailstorm; an immobilizing case of the flu, or even the measles, that would prevent her from flying”

Well, I have done this innumerable times, in fact every Monday – oh the Monday Blues! Wont there be a public transport strike? A power break down for the whole city? Or at least a small size accident – not to me, to some third person and I can run to help them – I know I know I am not the world’s best person – on Monday Mornings,

“Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?”

” But the truth was, they spent so much time not talking about Mom’s absence that it had become the only thing either of them could think about.”

“It’s one thing to run away when someone’s chasing you.”

“There’s a star in the sky that refuses to stay put, and Hadley realizes it’s actually a plane, that just last night, that star was them.”

“There’s a formula for how long it takes to get over someone, that it’s half as long as the time you’ve been together.”

“People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else”

“Did you know that people who meet at least three different times within twenty-four hour period are ninety-eight percent more likely to meet again?”

First things first, that is a real cute, intriguing title. Next, as I have already said, the plot was actually good. But for even such a short book, I found it a little dragging. A YA novel with a love at first sight concept, you could actually make a lot of things happen, but nothing really happens. And best of all, even after the 300 odd pages I really did not know nor feel anything about the characters, come on at least you could have made me feel frustrated or irritated (that is actually easier).

I probably was disconnected with Hadley as she was too shallow and self absorbed for me, like most of the teenagers in the YA world. Nor with Oliver. He was quirky and witty but that was it. It is a cute plot with a non racy story (oh all that was happening within 24 hours, yet too slow for me) and superficial character building.

Have you read this book? Do you find it annoying when characters are so cardboard cut? Do you agree that you find it more in YA romance than others? Let us chat. 

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets: Book summary

Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets was one of those first few non fictions that I read years ago. While the book did not turn my life around, it helped me understand what kinda management related books I should pursue and what I should not. 

Here is a quick summary of the book Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets so that you will be able to get the gist of the book, without spending too long on it. Shall we get on with it?

Note: Updated in June 2021

About Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets

Warren Buffett's Management Secrets Cover

Book: Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets: Proven Tools for Personal and Business Success

Author: Mary Buffett, David Clark

The author narrates a five Step approach to Warren Buffet’s Management techniques. 

Let us see those five Steps

Click here to read my other book summaries here.

Step One: Pick the Right Business to work or invest in

There is a huge difference between the business that grows and requires lots of capital to do so and the business that grows and doesn’t require capital.

Warren Buffett

Businesses with superior economics working in their favor need less capital than they earn.

This can happen in two cases
Case 1: The products do not have to change, which means lesser spend on R & D or design change in assets. 
Example: Coco cola, – have very low costs in terms of R&D or process changes.
Case 2: the products/service have competitive margin/ premium price tag.

  1. sell a unique product – they already own a piece of your mind with brand identification
    Example: Coca-Cola, Kraft, Procter & Gamble, Hershey. 
  2. sell a unique service, – you don’t see the person who works in the bank, but the whole bank/service as a brand 
    Example: Mastercard, Visa, Banks
  3. are the low-cost buyer and seller of a product or service that the public is consistently in need of.
    Example: Costco, Walmart, McDonalds

Earnings per share Test

  • Look out for ten years per share earnings trend and if it is upward – they have a competitive advantage.
  • Upward trend also means earnings allow profit even after strategic expenditure like advertisements and expansions.
  • If the trend is erratic, it means they are in competitive market with booms and busts. 

Debt test

  • Check for absence of long term debt. 
  • Long term debt might mean the company is in a highly competitive industry with constant demands.
  • And that the company is highly leveraged.

Gross margin test

Find out the gross profit margin ratio. 

Gross profit margin ratio = (Revenue - Cost of good sold)/ Revenue

Coco Cola consistently shows Gross profit margin of 60% or more, while United Airlines shows 14%. 

Step Two Delegate Authority

Delegate job and authority as much as possible and especially, 

  • If the job needs specialization
  • Delegate the job, not a task. Make them autonomous.
  • Trust in people with high integrity 

Step Three Find the Right manager for the job

  • Change managers only when necessary, promote from within if possible, and if you can’t, look for talent with a proven track record.
  • When you win, it was you who won it, but when you lose, it was you who lost it. There is no other scapegoat
  • Take responsibility for your failures and in the process learn from your mistakes.
  • Find a Manager with the Right Qualities, by which he means someone who
    • takes responsibility – be a Victor than a victim
    • is obsessed his job and a part of winning the sales
    • values honesty
    • manages costs – always 

The really good manager does not wake up in the morning and say, “This is the day I’m going to cut costs,” any more than he wakes up and decides to practice breathing.

Step Four Motivate Your Workforce

  • Give your employees a fine reputation to live up to.
  • To critcize someone – praise them first
  • To win an arguement you have to lose some first
  • If you want someone do something for you, speak in terms of what they want and not what you need. 
  • Encourage the other person to come up with the right idea rather than giving them an idea – qns
  • Admit your mistakes outright
  • Praise by name, Criticize by category

Step Five Managerial pitfalls, challenges and learning

  • Lesser the borrowed money – safer you are
  • You get into way more trouble with good idea than a bad one 

The example given was quite interesting, the idea to to insure the Commercial debts is really good but to have extended the same idea to mortgaged bonds proved to be disastrous. Though the idea is still good, but the outcome was not.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

  • Learn from your mistakes and missed opportunities – admit them.
  • surround yourself with as few people as possible; and look into the mirror to get the TRUE answer, instead of yes men
  • Bank on tried and true

Some old dogs know all the tricks!

  • Hang out with people who are better than you, get drifted in their direction
  • Manage personal borrowings – avoid debt


Overall a very short book – in size and content. Read it when you have few hours to pass and there is no other book lying around.

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Have you read Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets before? Do you read self help books? If so, what other books do you want me to summarize? Let’s talk.