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Daughter of Smoke and Bone-Book Review


“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” – Laini Taylor


The synopsis was all I had, to judge the book with. I was unaware of the crazy hype it has received over the years. Owing to that, I could have easily passed it over assuming it another cliche love story. But, I’m glad I gave it a chance. Or else I would have missed the opportunity of stepping into this fantastic magical world created by Laini Taylor.

I’m still gloating over the drunken bliss and and don’t you judge me for spilling too much beans for you to digest. I’m probably going to rant all I want, until I somewhat hush my inner demons now going gaga over the awesomeness of the story and its characters. Want to save the fun? Skip the review, and grab the book at Amazon.

Daughter of smoke and bone is a young fantasy novel and is the first book of the trilogy. Following it are ‘Days of Blood and Starlight’ and ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’.

If you are the kind of reader who craves for magic, monsters, fantasy, action and are fine with little drizzles of romance, it is just the book for you. It rarely happens that we dive so deep into a book that we forget our own existence and walk down that fictional land under the skin of our favorite character. Good news is it is the kind that will make you live the story in a dangerously realistic way. For me it was like slipping into their world and running with the characters as if I had known them for ages. I was drowning in emotions. Fear, pain, remorse, hatred, love, vengeance, power, bliss. A brilliantly choreographed chaos of events. I experienced a whole different world in it. And of course a good taste of life and death.

Before I brief you with the characters and the plot, I am taking an attempt at describing Taylor’s breathtakingly beautiful writing style. There were moments I gasped, put the book down, closed my eyes and said the words out loud. Simple, short and crisp dialogues exchanged between the two lovers. But good lord what intensity. She as a writer has succeeded in doing justice to her wildly brilliant imagination by giving them a body so poetic and perfect. This book is nothing but a work of art.

I have a strangely strong fascination for monsters. And that is one reason why this book swept me off my feet. I’m sure every other reader would love these characters as much as I did. And in case you are that fussy reader who calls magic ‘abnormal’ and monsters ‘gross’ you may go back to your sunshine books. Forget about The Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series; this is one of its kind.

The first few chapters hit me hard and I instantly knew it was an original and uniquely bewitching story. And as they say first impression lasts long, that’s precisely what happened here I guess. The first impression that it gave me was so damn appealing and strong that there was no slowing down or turning back. It took me on a roller coaster ride, which needless to say was mind boggling. Fast, reckless, magical, unpredictable, and oh so brilliant in all aspects.

There are numerous instances that prove that Taylor has let her imagination run far and high, tapping into ideas that are absolutely top-notch. Imagination has gotten into numerous minute details of this story. And being wrapped up with the right choice of words they have come out with flying colors. It’s a compelling work of adult fantasy that would grip your heart and mind in a tight clasp and take you on a ride to remember.

Beware of spoilers.

It is a mysterious story that revolves around a 17 year old girl Karou . At first she appears like a normal teen, who studies art at Prague, has a close friend Zuzana and a stalking ex-boyfriend Kazimir. But later, as the story progresses and her secret errands come to light we get to know that she is different, being raised by four Chimaeras. Her art is mostly inspired by the monster-like creatures she has known for real. Now for the question who are Chimaeras, they are a community we are not familiar with. Having some of their physical characteristics like animals and birds, and some like humans, they are residents of a completely different world, which even if not ours feels just as real.

The head of her so called Chimaera family, Brimstone is a fatherly figure for Karou and is the earliest memory of her childhood. He is a sorcerer of sorts and occasionally sends her on teeth-collecting errands to far off places round the world through magic portals. And what do they do with those jars of teeth? That’s for you to unfold. On one such errand fate takes a turn and things go terribly wrong. But right after that, Karou’s curiosity gets the better of her and she steps into the forbidden land of the Chimaeras. She is taken aback by the things she discovers and feels betrayed by Brimstone for keeping her in the dark. But much to her dismay, she does not get an explanation. The portals are burnt by Angels to hinder the work of the devils or Chimaeras. And in the age old war between the devils and angels, naive Karou becomes the victim and gets stranded in the world of humans.

The story gets another high with the entry of the sinfully gorgeous and impossibly perfect Angel Akiva into Karou’s life. Then on, the flight of fantasy gets quite serious and all humor is left at bay. Behind his longing and mutual attraction for Karou lies a story untold. A story so painfully beautiful, you’ll probably curse me if I lay it bare with my emotionless summary. Its a story of love and war. Will the age old war between the Seraphims and the Chimaeras destroy the love of Karou and Akiva? Or will they be able to keep their love unscathed?

I’m off to grab the second one in the series. Read the book and enjoy the magical journey. Thank me later nerds 😉


And The Mountains Echoed


If you have read ‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ it is probably easy to convince you of the power and wisdom this book beholds by merely saying that Hosseini has maintained his standards. 

I was in high school when I read The Kite Runner for the very first time, and even though it is exceptionally brilliant it somehow tore me from within. Those disturbing scenes used to play in my mind over and over again whether I wanted them to or not. Hosseini has a knack for flawless story-telling and also magically climbing under the skin of the readers, gripping their heart in a tight fist and refusing to let go. A Thousand Splendid Suns speaks volumes about the plight of Afghanistan women. Despite of all those tears I shed leafing through the prior two works of Hosseini, I don’t mind re-reading them for the sake of reliving that pain. It’s that kind of pain which makes you feel human. The later will take you on an equally strong whirlwind of emotions.
And The Mountains Echoed is another heart wrenching tale by the author, which holds in one story the life of many. This book has given voice to a father, mother, stepmother, daughter, son, chauffeur, a war victim, brother, friend and more. Keep your eyes wide open to absorb the details. And the heart open to the emotions it will be flooded with. Countless emotions. Of family and friendship. Love and betrayal. Humanity and power. Vengeance and forgiveness.
It is a story that spans through generations and underlines the fact that each and every choice we make resonates throughout our lives and those of every other person we become associated with.

Pari and Abdullah are the first two characters that fate plays an ugly game with. I sincerely mouthed a prayer when they were separated. God forbid any such thing happens to so little and naïve a girl, living with the feeling of an uncertain hollowness throughout her life only to find that she is related to a person by blood when the clock of life is ticking away. Time can be a cruel thing, isn’t it? When the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives, it teases you with a glimpse and fades away in no time, intensifying the pain borne through years.
The few yet heartwarming references of their childhood are enough to moisten  the eyes of the reader. Having lost their mother, and father forever busy making ends meet, they had none but each other. However their elders decided to make their life take another course. Two little people made of blood and flesh being treated as puppets. The girl eventually forgetting and moving on. Abdullah preserving all those precious few memories through years on end, waking up each day with the hope to be reunited with his little sister, Pari.

“I found a sad little fairy
Beneath the shade of a paper tree.
I know a sad little fairy
Who was blown away by the wind one night.”

The mentions of the magic that Urdu poetry carries draws me closer to the Afghan culture. I crave to know more of the place to which Rumi belongs. The place that has witnessed millions of survival stories. Of betrayal, death, hatred, violence, loss and with a few drizzles of life, love, beauty and hope. The stories that will make your heart clench and your mind numb.
I’m leaving it for the readers to explore about Mr Suleiman Wahdati, Mrs Nila Wahdati and Nabi. Each of these characters has lived life with their voice stifled and feelings unspoken. Life is nothing but a fair game. Everyone gets their share of rewards and punishments.
Zoom out from Afghanistan and zoom in at Tinos,Greece. Thalia and her mother Madaline come to visit Markos Varvaris and his mother Odelia( Odie) and what follows is a newly defined life for each of them. Each of these characters have their own story to tell. I loved the scene where Thalia teaches Markos how to build a camera and Morkos starts seeing her in another light. Preserving the picture he first clicked from the camera throughout his life clearly reflects his love for Thalia. Their relationship proves that we don’t become brother and sister by birth, but by accepting each others flaws with earnest. And blood does not make you family, your devotion and loyalty does.

This book is a crisscross of stories. Read it with patience and empathy. And yeah, better keep the tissues handy.

Anne of Green Gables


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“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

“I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla. “I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.”


It’s a book which has the ability to pique interest of readers from diverse age groups. Be it a school going child or a senile person counting his last days. Once you read it the child in you will surface back and will make sure that the light in which you see things is filled with positive energy and hope.

I’m glad that I picked this children’s book right before I’m about to step into the corporate world. After I finished reading it I promised Anne that I’ll apply her childish yet insightful thoughts wherever I go and whatever I do. Keeping the child in you alive seems quite a daunting task in today’s world. Now that everyone is running as fast as they can to get a medal of recognition in the rat race. However if you live your life like Anne did nothing is gonna stop you from leading a life of success and fulfillment. No matter how busy you become in your career you always have the option to pause for a moment to appreciate the wonders of nature, to play a little, to let your imagination run wild, to make some mistakes (and learn from them), to laugh at yourself, to serve your parents, to thank the almighty for your beautiful life and so on. I promise, it is not at all a waste of time. It is an investment which you have to do to make sure the child in you stays alive, let alone healthy.

Anne is an orphan who is mistakenly adopted by a small family of two. An elder brother and sister, Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert of green gables. And having fallen in love with the striking beauty of Green gables at the very first sight Anne starts winning their affection and in no time secures a place for her in their hearts. Entertaining them with her charming yet endless chatter and exasperating them with her mistakes. A child with overflowing emotions and wild imagination, Anne lives her childhood in a remarkably active way. She is an epitome of high spirits and is an unflinching optimist.  As she grows she also learns about empathy, forgiveness, sacrifice, competition, obsessing after her ambitions and working in accordance with it.

I could very well relate to Anne for my endless urge to make new mistakes. Her accidentally dyeing her hair green, being punished at school for beating a fellow classmate Gilbert Blythe, her shouting upon an elderly woman Mrs Rachel lynde, baking cake with liniment instead of vanilla essence. Her habit of giving queer names to people, things, places, anything and everything. And her more serious mistakes like falling from a height (it was a silly bet btw…But then we always learn from our mistakes 😉 )and getting bedridden for quite some time, almost drowning in the river while playing with the story club’s members. This girl definitely was having the time of her life.

Her friendship with Diana, her aversion towards Gilbert, her devotion towards Marilla and Mathew, her appreciation for the newly appointed mayor and her teacher Mr and Mrs Allan, she definitely was a person true at heart. But then, aren’t all children true? Yeah they are. I wish we never grew up.

Calling herself Lady Cordellia Fitzgerald was the thing that made me laugh the hardest. This girl sure was funny beyond limits, in a cute and innocent way. This book has events happening in every single leaf. Very enchanting, humorous and Anne-like. Beautifully narrated, well plotted, and worth rereading. I just can’t wait to read its sequels.


An evergreen book. Happy reading 🙂

Tess of d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy


I feel ashamed to call myself a lover of classics, having wasted so many years of my life not reading the bewitching tragedies by Hardy. This one is a very evocative and powerful narration of a very sensitive story. However I am not obliged to say that this book got Hardy another fan. Viewing this book in the light of a literature enthusiast, I adore Hardy for “the way” he has portrayed the scenes, and not for “what” he has portrayed.

Nah, however skillfully written it may be, but the story line could have definitely been improved. For a person who prefers tragedies over feel-good novels, Hardy has compelled me to question my love for this genre. Do I have the heart to read more of his works and pretend that I adore him for his powerful yet heart wrenching works? Ummm, I don’t know. Perhaps that’s the thing about classics. You can never enjoy these unless you don’t give a brake to the feminist and idealist inside you.

Far from the madding crowd was Hardy’s first that I read. And I won’t exactly call it my favorite but I was definitely impressed by the subject matter, which was no doubt deep and insightful. Speaking of Tess of d’Urbervilles all I could appreciate is the justice done to the genre. A high tragedy indeed. Even though I am highly disappointed with this gloomy and depressing novel, I would still recommend it to readers who are trying to explore all possible genres. However I am good enough to warn you not to expect even the scantiest rays of sunshine here. All you can expect is knowing about two bastards( I don’t swear this easily. But couldn’t help it this time). Alec d’Urberville (the demon) and Angel Clare(he was no angel btw) and a helpless girl Tess whom the author tortures throughout the story by inflicting pain upon her in the worst ways possible. Hardy has mercilessly destroyed anything and everything that could have possibly made Tess’s life any easier, let alone tolerable. Even though I did not shed a single drop of tear while reading it, I failed miserably in controlling my raging anger. I was frustrated by the prolonged suffering of Tess. No matter what I would still applaud Hardy for daring to create a character such as Tess. Ever since I’ve read her I can’t stop thinking about her. I’ve been reading other books at a reckless speed merely to get my mind off Tess, yet to no avail. I feel like someone (Hardy) has hammered the details of Tess’s life on my (now throbbing)mind. I will never forgive any of the characters in the story for their cruel impact on my naïve emotions. I had not intended to write a review, but now that I have started I feel powerless against the urge of my pen to go on ranting all that I feel and had bottled inside for the fear of cursing or swearing too much.

The idea I had of British women of 19th century was somewhat different than that presented in Hardy’s. Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, and even Wuthering Heights have presented women of somewhat strong character. Even though they had their own turmoil, none was as helpless as Tess.  However she is not the one entirely to be blamed. Circumstances were the cause. Circumstances that were never in her favor.


Tess Durbeyfield is a lovely girl born into an underprivileged family in Victorian England. Even though their family is not well provided she still seems content and merry(only in the first few pages of the book) until the quirk of fate decidedly turns her life to hell. Being beautiful both inside and out, she couldn’t help igniting flames of passion in the eyes of Alec d’Urberville to whom she had approached due to the pressure from her family to establish a connection with the aristocrat in the quest for lineage. The young man is a wolf, even whose ancient name is followed by a question mark. Call their encounter the incident that marked the doom. Just because of the one mistake she made of seeking out help from the d’Urbervilles, Tess is propelled by fate from there on to lead a life of prolonged misery. The course of events that followed sucked out all the innocence and confidence from the 16 year old child, who was naïve to such monsters walking in masks of reputed men. She had gone to the so called d’Urbervilles with a hope to save herself and her family, yet she came back ravaged and ruined. Ruined of her innocence and the belief in humanity. While she herself was a child she gave birth to one who was conceived cunningly by the man of no morals. The bitterness I had acquired by this point did not even allow me to sympathize when the baby died. I sighed. And then I hated myself. Hardy definitely knows how to play with the minds of his readers.

When Tess finally decided to move on and found work as a milkmaid at a happy place some 40 miles away from her home, I took the risk of expecting some happy turns to the story. But alas! Her beau Angel who claimed to be neck deep in her love turned out a hypocrite. On their wedding night both of them decided to confess about their past mistakes. And although Tess forgave him for the drunken nights of debauchery he had committed, the self-righteous and judgmental bastard Clare calls her sins too high to be forgiven. Tess is deserted callously. Even though she survived a few more years with the hope of reuniting with her hypocrite husband I feel that she was more dead than alive. Lived more in hell than on earth. Having taken up cruel manual labor unfitting for her fragile self, she intended to repay for the sins endowed upon her by her ill fate. With every passing day she was breaking down a little more. With herself as well as her family falling apart, and the wolf Alec( who had turned into religion and preaching in these years) who couldn’t keep his monstrous instincts away and kept urging her to come back to him, Tess finally succumbed to the situation and became Alec’s mistress. And lo, it is now that Clare decides to come back to her. Really, it took you so long dumb head to realize your hypocrisy and stupidity? Anyways, now that I was seriously expecting a turn of events I was left dumbstruck when the unexpected happened. Having received Clare at her door she felt nothing but helpless. If she had to reunite with her love, she had to do something. And she did. But I don’t blame Tess for I could empathize with the person whose life was mercilessly snatched from her. Never having got the chance to decide for her own life, I could very well understand the fact that her anger got the better off her and she stabbed Alec( who was mocking her then btw) right at the heart( I hope he died a slow and painful death). She finally lived the life she had always desired. In the arms of her lover. Even if it was for a short period of time. Until she was caught by the police and was hanged till death. Justice served.

And with Tess a part of me died too.

My heart goes out to that unfortunate girl and all those girls in India and worldwide who lose the right to live the life of their desire and dreams, because of such masked wolves who pounce on them fearlessly. Not just the rapists but I endlessly despise the cruel society that tags the victims and ruin their reputation by calling them impure and snatch away their right to live. And there are millions of Tess’s scattered round the world, living this tragedy for real.




Who Moved My Cheese?

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Dr. Spencer Johnson’s ‘One Minute Manager’ was the book I had picked up a couple of months back merely because of its modest volume. The college library was to be closed in a couple of hours and I wanted something I could finish in one sitting. However when I closed the book and headed out of the library in the evening I had a strange smile etched on my face. The feeling returned after I finished ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’. The similar feeling of relaxation and contentment.

I sometimes wonder how the RIGHT books find their way to me at the right time. Crawling close to me at the hour when I need them the most. However small a book maybe I would never commit the mistake of judging its effectiveness. For it may be a blessing in disguise, a turning point of your life, a simple answer to the question that had been killing you from inside.

‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ is the book I’ll recommend to all my readers. There is probably not a single soul who walks on earth free from the evils of change. Yeah, the question in discussion is CHANGE. Different people react to change in different ways. Every person has his unique way of dealing with change, be it good or bad. A few people take a bit longer than the average time to get used to the after-effects of the change, whereas a few are quicker than the rest, while the other unfortunate few deny to even acknowledge change and keep going in their old way until they are forced to admit it.

This magical book talks about embracing the changes and keep going. CHANGE is an inevitable part of life and no matter how much you dislike it you will be entitled to it over and over again. So, the point is if we are going to encounter something again and again in life why not befriend it? Fearing change only makes it worse. What matters in not how bad the change is, but how are attitude is.

Here co-author of the multi-million best seller ‘One Minute Manager’ Dr. Spenser Johnson has written a very deceptively short story which once read would stay with a person till the last breath. It is a simple yet powerful story which if implemented in real life may turn one’s life around. The compacted version of the story is-The faster you accept change and move on in life, the better. Keep the currents moving, for still water stagnates. And we definitely don’t want our life to stink. Do we?

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Conversations With God-1

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I wanted to start the new year doing something worthwhile. And picking this book on January 1st was no doubt the best decision I could have made.For I not only got a practical idea about how to make the best out of my life but also the key to happiness. I was somehow drawn to this particular book in the shelf, as if there was some hidden force that impelled me to read it in a single sitting. Believe me I could not put it down. Not that I wanted to, but it somehow magnetized me and would not let go.

The quest for the answers to a certain set of questions that I kept pondering over endlessly can finally get to rest. Now that I have the answers right on my palms in the face of this book ‘Conversations With God’ written by Neale Donald Walsch.

Like many of the other readers of this book I too am not sure whether God actually interacted with the author to give birth to this uncommon dialogue. However I am pretty sure that the source of this book is not spurious. And even if it is, should that concern us? Ask yourselves -is that going to bring any difference? I don’t think so. All I know is I have in my hands a manual that is going to help me lead my life in a lot better way than before. And believe me when I say that I have already started experiencing the results. Results that are astounding. Results that seemed impossible before. So instead of counting it among the counterfeit I suggest the readers to not judge this extraordinary book and simply try to absorb its teachings. Those if implemented with honesty may guarantee you a truly fulfilling and never complaining life.

Surprisingly I find myself beaming with energy all the time. I see myself accepting things as they are and trying to make whatever possible changes I can do at my own level to make things better. I no more blame God for  the adverse situations and circumstances. I no more punish myself by straying away from things that give me joy( denial we have said to ourselves is goodness, but it is not). I no more stick to the stereotypical rules for ensuring happiness and success in life, for they didn’t work. And the new ways discussed in this book are so much practical and believe me they work magnificently.

I am so much overwhelmed by the tremendous results brought upon me by this book that I can not keep myself from writing my review on this beautifully woven masterpiece.

When asked by the author “How does God talk, and to whom?” the answer he received was- “I talk to everyone. All the time. The question is not to whom do I talk, but who listens?”  God communicates to all of us in his own way. But so preoccupied we are with our everyday trifling issues that we fail to become worthy receptors for the messages he keeps transmitting our way.

This book is literally an attempt by God to spoon feed wisdom to the people on earth. I consider myself too fortunate and gifted to have this book find me in the right time, at the right place. I am still a student and everyday I keep adding to my knowledge and skills via the faculties of our college and the materials available in the library. And the lessons provided in this book seem no different. They are as practical and useful as studying engineering is. The only difference is that here the faculty is God and the subject is Mastering in Life Skills 🙂

God says that even the so called leaders, ministers, rabbis, priests,  many of the books, even the Bible, Gita, Qu’ran and other sacred religious texts are not authoritative sources. Listen to YOUR FEELINGS. Do not accept what the crowd is following. Accept that which your heart complies. Do what you feel is right. There is no rule book that states what is right and what is wrong in God’s eyes. There are no restrictions on what you should do, think or feel. All that counts is the answer to the question- whether the act is Godly. That is whether it involves the highest, the clearest, the grandest thought and feeling on your part. In God’s own words “The highest thought is always that thought which contains joy. The clearest words are those words which contain truth. The grandest feeling is that feeling which you call love.”

God says that we are the creators of our own lives. Whatever happens is in accordance to what we think and feel. God is merely the observer who occasionally assists us in building up and experiencing our lives. The creator is US. Not the other way round. This illusion has being ruling our minds since centuries that God is the creator of our lives and everything that is to happen in our life has already been written beforehand, which we have no power to alter. Absolute nonsense. If you think that God is the decider of your life, you are hugely mistaken. We create our lives through the power that he has given us. Over time we have created the image of God as revengeful, judgmental and cruel. We fear God for we have been taught this ever since our childhood that God is supposed to be feared, to be bowed before, to be pleased through superficial materialistic things, to be prayed as frequently as possible. Speaking from my personal experience ever since I learned talking I was made to memorize a number of Sanskrit shlokas and mantras whose meaning I was not aware of then, and am very sure that my parents and grandparents who taught me those must not be knowing the exact meanings of all the words they made me memorize painstakingly. As I kept growing I was made to memorize longer versions of these prayers which I was supposed to chant two times a day during the everyday Hindu ritual known as Puja performed before sunrise and sunset respectively. Even though these are traditional ways of pleasing God( not just one  but all the forms of God; with different ways for pleasing respective forms of the almighty)  we must reflect upon it at least once before blindly continuing our age old customs. Through Neale God has very clearly mentioned that he does not want to be prayed and pleased. What he wants from us is to create our lives in such grand way that even he gets to applaud on our creative, loving and thoughtful performance. God is no doubt a creative being( the result is this vast and unrealistically beautiful universe) and we being his pupils must follow his lead and create our lives in such a beautiful and uncommon way that he feels that yes, his children have inherited some of the qualities of their creator.

We must not live under the constant fear of doing something wrong and ending up in hell, for God says that HELL does not exist. It is the creation of our overly active imagination. Hence we must not fear doing something that God would consider Paap and would ultimately condemn us to hell. For there can be no parent so ruthless as to subject ones own offspring to a plight so terrible and inhumanely.

One more important thing covered in this book is the concept that has been elaborately discussed in Rhonda Byrne’s book ‘The Secret’. The concept of power of attraction. Our soul is the sum total of every feeling we have ever created. In God’s words “The process of creation starts with thought-an idea, conception, visualization.” So keep your thought process on check. If you are thinking about negative things, feeling negative emotions like anger, distress, jealousy, anguish etc pause for a moment and reverse the thoughts or feelings. It may initially be tough but eventually you will get used to being optimistic and creating feelings only happy and comforting. The universe responds to your thoughts and feelings in a way so powerful that it almost seems unrealistic. If you keep saying to yourself that you hate your life and that you are no good, you will actually remain no good and the universe will make sure that you keep hating your life. This is how the law of attraction works. Keep feeling grateful for all that you have and you will be rewarded with abundance. You will be rewarded with all things pleasing and beautiful.

“Your thought about yourself is that you are not good enough, not wondrous enough, not sinless enough, to be part of God, in partnership with God. You have denied for so long Who you are that you have forgotten WHO YOU ARE.”

God says that we are his/her equal. For we possess the same powers that he has. We are the creators of our own lives.

After reading this book, and the other two volumes in the series I felt complete. I felt truly educated and ready to take on my life to its peak..slowly, smoothly. This book is a true masterpiece and I would recommend it to all the people I know, for I know that everyone is searching for these answers somewhere.