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Secrets of the Kashmir Valley

Secrets of the Kashmir Valley is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the untold truths of the Kashmir Valley. Farhana Qazi does an excellent job of bringing to light the true stories of women in this region who have suffered immense pain, loss, and terror. The stories are not only filled with sadness but also with hope for a better future.

The author effectively conveys the reality of life in one of the most militarized zones in the world, where the Indian government has imposed strict control, making it difficult for the voices of the Kashmiris to be heard. Despite the constant fear of detention, curfew, and violent raids, the women of Kashmir continue to celebrate happy occasions, but always with the underlying fear of what might happen next.

This emotional book highlights the atrocities committed by the Indian army, including mass graves, restrictions on basic human rights, and the countless incidents of rape, even of women as young as 17 and as old as 80. The writing style is simple yet powerful, making the reader feel the pain and suffering of the women in the region.

Secrets of the Kasmir Valley is a moving and eye-opening account of the struggles faced by the people of Kashmir. These powerful stories bring awareness to this country and what the people endure. For those that want to learn more about this region and understand what it is like to live there as a woman, this informative and passionate look at life in the Kasmir Valley will shed light on the decades of suffering and the unstoppable desire for survival.

Pages: 186 | ASIN : B08D68Y5FL

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Felicity: Art, War and Peace

Felicity: Love, War, and Peace by Piers R. Blackett and Annah Otis is a lovely memoir about the artist Felicity Blackett, her life, and her art. Born right before the first World War and living through World War Two as a grown woman with a new family, she experienced many hardships and losses, and yet she thrived with the help of her friends, family, and her art. She moved all around Europe at first before finally settling in South Africa, where she passed away in 2011, surrounded by friends, family, and a community that loved her.

This inspirational book also includes passages from Felicity’s own diary, which are her first-hand reflections on her circumstances and the world around her, making this memoir partly autobiographical, which immerses readers into Felicity’s world. Included in this touching book are photographs of Felicity, her family, and especially the art that she created during the period the book touches upon. This allows the reader to connect with this biography much more personally than just reading a dry description of a person’s life. Readers are shown how Felicity lived and the emotions she felt at the time, and they can also have a glimpse into what her mindset was at the moment.

This well-written book is dedicated to mothers and artists. The contents reflect this, as Felicity’s view of the world was heavily influenced by her role as a mother (like having to send her daughter away to America during the war as the enemy sunk ships of refugees), as well as her unique interpretation of the sights around her as an artist. I would, however, also recommend this book to anyone interested in a perhaps more different view of that period in history between the First World War and modern times. I highly recommend this historical account with beautiful illustrations.

Pages: 132 | ASIN : B0BSSL469F

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Clouded Thoughts

The hassle of a daily commute, the often delayed appreciation for our parents, the danger of defining yourself by others’ standards- all of these subjects and more are tackled by author Michael Froilan in his poetry collection Clouded Thoughts. Froilan hits the ground running from the first page, jumping headfirst into poems that display a refreshing honesty, not to mention more than their fair share of vulnerability. While some of the poems read quickly and then float away with the breeze, some stay with you well after you’ve turned the page.

Clouded Thoughts has its pages filled with almost as many styles as it does subjects. Froilan writes poems that read like a paragraph, ones with a rhyming pattern, and some as short as a single thought. His shortest ones are, in fact, some of the strongest and are reminiscent of daily affirmations, words to be spoken in the mornings as intentions for the day. Likewise, the tone of the poems is all over the spectrum. There is no shortage of “chip on the shoulder” cynicism to be found here, but in equal turns are the many that are uplifting and inspiring.

Froilan manages to find the balance between social commentary and political statements, a precarious line that not many can navigate. Many of his poems bring current events and societal issues to light but never once does he beat you over the head with them, preferring, it would seem, to make his points with a degree of subtlety. 

Although many of the poems in this collection are written with a sense of level-headed realism, a few employ imagery and analogy to elevate them to an another level. Lines such as “My pillows are covered in dreams and anxiety, What a surprise, I can’t fall asleep” paint such a vivid picture of the writer’s struggles at that moment and does so in an artfully entertaining way. These moments shine and show Froilan’s writing at its best.

Clouded Thoughts is a thought-provoking and engaging collection of poetry. Even through the cynicism and the angst, the resounding message is to love yourself, trust yourself, and define yourself on your terms only. The urging for self-confidence shines through even in the poems that don’t address it, making the book an unexpected comfort.

Pages: 102 | ASIN : B08WP8N2GN

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