Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stranded: A Winter Romance Duet - Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams (Book)

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Stranded: A Winter Romance Duet - Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams

Reading a winter romance on a damn cold day that too while traveling in a Non Air Conditioned train wasn't the greatest idea of my life - but had no other option as its cover was too good to resist - so I had to read it. I had way better expectations from this one as its penned by two Authors or shall we say Co-Authored. But this was a big disaster right from the very start - if you have read "Fifty Shades of Grey" you would know precisely what I mean by this that this one had everything that had minus the Sex. Looks like these ladies didn't had a good time liking Christian Grey's character (I loved him totally) hence they created their own Mr. Grey with almost no mention of Sex - unfortunately it didn't work for me and was a total "been there done that" stuff. It was predictable like anything, although a it was a breeze of a read for me and kindda average book to pass a couple of hours on a train wrapped up in a blanket in the dead of the night with nothing better to do. The good part about this book was the added little story as a Bonus in the end (Almost 50 odd pages) that one I liked way better then the original book. "One Night in the Ice Storm by Noelle Adams" was a good read. It was about a girl (Rachel) who returns to her hometown for a vacation with her mom and brother but gets stranded in a ice storm with her X. What happens during the course of the night (again a little predictable) is the rest of the story, not bad at all and was a good one time read for sure. I guess I was able to wrap both of them up in less then 6 hrs at the max. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Third Class in Indian Railways - Mahatma Gandhi (Book)

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Third Class in Indian Railways - Mahatma Gandhi

I had three damn good reasons to read this one, the first and foremost was the title, second the Writer :) and the third one was the most important - we had to travel out for a long long weekend to one of our cousins house warming somewhere deep inside Rajasthan by Train. This was the first book that I have ever read in its entirety during the course of a journey itself, which was an over night train journey of close to 19 hrs. And the first of the three books ever written by the great man, totally loved his sense of humor and the choice of worlds that too in 1916, exactly a 100 years ago. Who in India doest know the story behind his traveling in "Third Class" in Indian Railways, I was shocked to know (as told in the book) that he used to travel deliberately to see what's going on in the third class. He wrote / spoke and what not to Indian Railways to up the standard of Third Class then and what was the plight of the passengers. Unfortunately and unbelievably - you have to agree with me on this - not much has changed in 100 years, if you have traveled in "General" and if not even in "IInd Class Sleeper", you would know what I am talking, it is indeed shocking telling with my first hand experience a couple of days ago.

The book just doesn't cover only the title story about Indian Railways but other stuff too. As it is written pre-independence, we can relate very well with what he is talking about. Especially with his "Ahimsa - Non Violence" movement in great details, his views on it as why he preferred that. Also the "Swadesh" movement and how it impacts the country's economy and why it should be promoted then and in future too. It stands true even in today's time - hats off to the Father of the Nation's futuristic thinking which aptly passes the test of time. Another fantastic chapter he has written on "The Moral Basis of Co-operation" and a hilarious one on "National Dress", that proved that Gandhiji actually had a great sense of humor, totally loved it. His views on other religions, beliefs and how Hinduism should inspire others and all is too good. This little book of Wisdom (as I would like to call it) has increased his respect in my eyes by leaps and bounds. The book never gets preachy and looks like he is venting out his own personal feelings on all the subjects in a the most subtle ways. After reading this I am so much inclined to read his other works but unfortunately he has only three books to his credit including this one.

I will definitely try to get the other two and read them shortly. Also, I am going to keep this with me and have my kiddo read it once she grows to the level of the book. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quidditch Through The Ages - J K Rowling (Book)

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Quidditch Through The Ages - J K Rowling

Earlier when I had not read any Harry Potter book, I used to think what is so special about this series that the fans go crazy with every new book on the same but now after the Harry Potter bug has bitten me - I believe its other way round and I am simply unable to let go of any book with any reference to him :). This is almost the last book that I could get with reference to HP and right from the very start it was able to put a big big smile on my face. Especially the intelligent and humorous way JK Rowling has conceptualized this one, with a note of warning from Irma Pince (The Hogwarts Librarian), The Library Card attached to it with the names and dates of who else has read the book when, its hilarious to read those known names. And the cherry on top is the Foreword written by none other then Albus Dumbledore himself. Even the little reviews and praises for the book at the very start are laugh out loud stuff when you read those names, the best being the one from Rita Skeeter, Daily Prophet, had me in splits, if you have read the earlier books you would precisely know what I mean. This book is a superb example of - How thoughtful and creative one can get. Hats off to Madam Rowling for superb thinking and crediting the book to someone else making more sense to the series its dedicated to.

This is one game I guess invented by J K Rowling as part of her book series to be played by the students of Hogwarts (The School of Magic) and world over magicians. If you have read the book you already know a lot about the game but if you have only seen the movies - it is hardly shown in a part of two that too for a very brief duration not at all satisfying the audience (specially the readers). Now this book does the full justice to the game in great details (Hilarious to the core) I must say and its references world over (the magical world of-course) is too good. It actually makes one believe the existence of the same too, specially the facts, figures, records, incidences and all recorded in the book, the wildest imagination of the Author, simply unbelievable. How the game got incepted, started and came in limelight in due course of time is simply superb description. That too when they are able to hide it from the eyes of muggle world (us the normal people), they even have Quidditch World Cups (every four years) and at times one game could last as lont as six months too in case there is no clear winner - just imagine. People getting killed, injured, even falling in love and proposing marriages by the time a game ends (it could be hours, days, weeks or even months - you see). Hilarious and beautiful I must say.

Quidditch in Asia or India is not a grand success because we Asians believe more in Flying Carpets then the Broomsticks - LOL. I am glad that we still show up in the book at least ;). 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Angels & Demons - Dan Brown (Book)

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Angels & Demons - Dan Brown

As I said in my earlier reviews of Dan Brown's books, I am totally bowled over by what he offers his readers in terms of knowledge of Historical Monuments, Hidden Secrets, Latest Technology, Philosophy as well as Spirituality. And I am sure this is one of his best works so far (If not the ultimate as I am yet to read "The Da Vinci Code") as all of his other books I have read already and they do not come any closure to this one in any aspect. Although the character of Robert Landon is more lovable in some of them but this one takes the cake for its sheer brilliance in explaining the Vatican City and its Architecture, so much that I am now very keen to visit the same once in my life time (I have no idea if they allow Non Christians any closure to their churches). Mind-blowing are the details and the pace is simply brilliant, its like traveling on a freight trains engine at full speed with no signals. Of-course a typical Dan Brown book - it all happens in the due course of 24 hrs or a little more in this case and the reader gets no time to put the book down and relax. Oh! and before I forget - this became the first DB book that indeed made me breathless and moist eyed at one point of time - I guess that will be an achievement for a thriller like this, if you have read the book - it was the chapter where they open the Pope's Sarcophagus to confirm how he died, breathtaking.

Robert Langdon - The Professor of Arts and History specializing in Symbology (I love his character) is having a relaxed day till he gets a call and picked up by a Vatican pilot. Vatican needs him as the current Pope is dead, while they go through new Pope's election, someone has planted a bomb as powerful as a Nuclear bomb somewhere inside the city - of-course location unknown. They are under threat that the top four cardinals (one of them is going to be the next Pope) will be killed one every hour. Vatican's old enemy "The Illuminati" (400 year old brotherhood) is up again to destroy the religion as they believe in Science and The Church doesn't. Its a cat and mouse chase game between Illuminati and Church with a superb parallel track of the scientist who invented the new "Antimatter" which will destroy everything in the blink of an eye if not contained. How Robert saves the Vatican with the help of a few he can trust accompanied by the Gorgeous Daughter of the Scientist who knows whats inside the container (Its actually her invention). The book has so much of going on at a break neck speed in such a convincing and eye opening way that you simply cant not love it.

I simply love the way Brown explains the history, arts, architecture, codes behind the simplest of things via Robert, its simply amazing and quite convincing. Hats off to his research team and himself the way they make it simpler for us lesser mortals to go through and still get the point. I really sometimes wonder what are the expectations of people criticizing his work? Do they actually know more then Brown about the things he is talking in his books? or do they expect more - I seriously fail to understand and believe no one can better his works the way they are written. He is definitely got a big fan in me I am sure of that. Because right when I thought I was getting it and could predict the out come - it goes totally in the opposite direction, thats the beauty of his books (so far).

Movie Adaptation: One Word "Crap". Stay away from it, Why I watched it? Just for the Architecture - its Brilliant visually but otherwise a very big disappointment, characters are lousy barring Robert, unnecessary changes, so much left out from the book and misses the best part Vittoria the gorgeous female lead is not even 1/10th of the character written in the book. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Tales of Beedle The Bard - J K Rowling (Book)

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The Tales of Beedle The Bard - J K Rowling
I simply love reading the "Reference" books, even at school once I was done with my course books - I will be picking up the reference book for further reading and that is one habit which is hard to let go. I usually end up reading the books that the characters read in a particular story that I have just finished just because I will be curious to know what they were reading :). If you have read the Harry Potter books (and loved them too like me) Hermione gets this book from Dumbledore after his death when his "Will" is read that he left it for her. How that book helps them uncover a lot of secrets and answers the questions raised in the last book of the series is this all about. I believe that was a good enough reason for me to get this one and as told earlier - it is a magical children's story book so It could be quite interesting for us muggles - if you know what I mean :). Every story is followed by a comment from Dumbledore himself - now how funny is that.
Each story may just be a normal one for kids with a lesson in the end as it usually is but the fierce commentary by Dumbledore and explanations given are too good and throw so much more light on the original book series and the turns and twists there in. I was shocked, surprised and Delighted too to see so many characters and names being used in this little book which actually tells the readers the stories behind the differences of Wizards (of Hogwarts) and Death Eaters (followers of Voldemort). Also, in this book and the stories that it has, JK Rowling is actually hinting on what she might be writing with so many references thrown in good comical sense throughout the story(s) in Dumbledore's comments.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - J K Rowling (Book)

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - J K Rowling
After reading and loving the Harry Potter series back to back (last month), I was looking to read some more on Harry and his world and came across this amazing book (loved the idea and concept) which I believe is already made into a movie (inspired) to be released next week. I totally loved the idea and concept of this book - the way it is thought and conceptualized that its going to any Harry Potter reader and lover alike. If you have read the books you would know that this book has a lot of mention out there as a "Text Book", now imagine reading the same book written by the same writer as mentioned in the story (Newt Scamander) with a Foreword by none other then "Albus Dumbledore" - Bingo!! Who would miss it? Also, it is written and printed as if this was actually the book that Harry used at Hogwarts, with his personal notes, jokes and what not written all over it, around the margins in his own writing (remember how we use to scribble on our own books). Even Ron and Hermione too has a say in it as they too have written some notes in their own handwriting in the book - totally hilarious things. And on top of that - a major chunk of the revenues generated by this book go to a charity followed by J K Rowling for various good causes. WOW! What a brilliant idea and what a superb execution.
Although it cant be called a book but can be considered a sidey joke book on Magical Creatures from the Harry Potter's world. I wonder how they could make a movie on it? As there is no story but just explanations (detailed and hilarious) that too funnily in alphabetical order. Hats off to her imagination that she actually end up making a glossary of all the magical creatures used in the book series. I wonder how much creative one can get and JK Rowling is one of those few examples of being Super Solid Creative writer with wildest imagination - I will say. And I mostly end up liking those books including this one - when they successfully put a smile on my face, this indeed does by the time it ends.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Deception Point - Dan Brown (Book)

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Deception Point - Dan Brown

OK! So I am in love with Dan Brown after reading his latest (which didn't impress his fans) and first (which wasn't great as per me) still both worked for me as they are way better then his counterparts are churning out. And I must say what a perfect timing to read this one as it talks about "How the Presidents are made in USA" by hook or crook, money or deception etc and shockingly as Donald Trump became the President against all speculations as I finish the book. The whole book (A majority of it) is a thrilling drama which unfolds in the course of a little more then 24 hrs only - a typical Dan Brown stuff if  you ask me. Acting President is about to lose the upcoming elections by a huge margin to his predecessor who is against the US funding of NASA which goes down the drain as per him. Right when he is about to prove the point and register a landslide victory in coming elections - NASA discovers life forms from the extraterrestrial world - what perfect timing to save the President and get him re-elected on a NASA ticket. But the question remains - can that be a true discovery? or is it a cover up only for someone's personal motto. With a handful of Private Scientists and explorers on lose behind the secret and all kinds of agencies supporting one or the other - its a cat and mouse chase game.

What I love about his writing is that he writes in small chapters with at-least two to three parallel tracks which keeps the reader hanging. Pace is as always terrific heading towards a superb climax with so much going on all around. The book has everything, from racy pace to the Protagonist traveling in a F14 to Ellsmere Island (Extreme Northern point of Canada), journey inside the white house (as usual), proof of extraterrestrial life, even a Sex scandal of a Senator - the President to be, Delta Force removing unnecessary evidences against the acting President (not much but I loved the Delta Force part). Both the leading ladies of the story are too good - guess my loyalty kept shifting towards both of them (of course one after another). Rachel as Senator's daughter who works for the current President, about to uncover something which will never get him re-elected. Whereas Gabrielle as Senator's Campaign Manager is about to uncover something which may make him the next President. All in the course of one night -  with so many people dieing who shouldn't have in the first place the story keeps getting darker till you reach the very end. The race between the truths the two ladies are about to discover keeps getting better with each passing chapter and incident which makes it one heck of a read - I will say.

A good one time read and that makes me move to his other best works like "Angels and Demons" :) 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Conversations With God (Book 3) - Neale Donald Walsch (Book)

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Conversations With God (Book 3) - Neale Donald Walsch
So, the Trilogy finally comes to an end, if you have read my earlier two reviews on Book 1 and Book 2 respectively, a couple of months back, this is the last of the series summing everything up in one final swipe. And what an amazing journey it had been - a totally new perspective to life, god, humans and what we think of it all. A lot of it is of-course debatable but no doubt - it isn't at all bad or hurt in anyways to know someone else's perspective or vision of god. I totally liked all the three books put together and they will always be a permanent part of my collection. As they are written - they should be read again and again to make more sense - if one believes or have any interest in Theosophy. As my parents follow it a big time - I too got hooked to a couple of writers referred by them and will definitely do a little bit more study on the subject with other writers.
Book 3 - talks about a lot of stuff left over in the first two books with one of the most important question right at the very start - as what happens to us when we die? Where do we go? what happens to our soul? is there a hell or a heaven that we go to? so on so forth. And a very interesting view point presented by the Author as he claims God was giving answers through his pen to all his queries, its quite convincing as I said - yet debatable big time. Mind-blowing is the way they (God and Author) talk about other worlds and universe's, life outside our solar system, where they have reached Technologically and Spiritually, how they are different, what is that they have learned and we haven't, Why are we sending our planet towards an end and hell lot of other worldly issues. Like I said - its all very debatable yet its written in quite a convincing way - it actually feels like the reader is writing the book as if these were really the questions I myself will ask God if given an opportunity. A lot of it indeed put a smile on my face with its accuracy and the responses are at times hilarious but mostly they become food for a serious thought. I would say a gist of all three books should be added to the course material as a part of our education in school, it will do wonder to the coming generation. As many books I read or the movies I watch - I am simply stunned to notice - they all send us in one direction but the problem is that we just don't notice and still fail to work towards them. As of yet it comes true - it may all change in future - if you know what I mean.
This trilogy is highly recommended like I said earlier and a must read for all.

Friday, November 04, 2016

A Walk To Remember - Nicholas Sparks (Book)

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A Walk To Remember - Nicholas Sparks
My weakness or you can say my strength for that matter lies in my habit of reading from the very first page to the very last. I usually read the Foreword, Introduction, Comments and Back cover comments AFTER I finish the book, that ways it keeps me glued to the book as I do not know what to expect. Also at times (and a lot of it) I go all the way to get all the books from the same writer and read them in the order he / she wrote it, I really like it that way as it helps not only in knowing what and how he / she has progressed from one book to another and if there is a pattern in their writing. Nicholas Spark's books fall in the same category as a very dear friend sent me a couple of his books from somewhere midways his career and I totally loved them (The Choice, The Notebook and Message in a bottle) and I was totally hooked to his writing. Hence decided to start from the very start and picked up his first book this time.
A very straight forward love story of two totally opposite teenagers told in a most simplest way, although its totally predictable right from the very start. I could actually assume the whole story how its going to go forward and even the unusual breakup or say ending still it works big time. Landon Carter is a rich kid, son of a Congressman, with his own set of rowdy friends and their adventurers in the neighborhood of Beaufort, North Carolina. Jamie Sullivan is a very religious straight forward no fuss girl, daughter of a Minister (Priest), mother died in child birth, she is almost a nobody in school, although the whole town loves her as she is the one who always moves with a bible in hand. You see they have no connection in common except the school they go to (being classmates). How their paths cross, how they fall in love and everything that happens during this particular year is the rest of the story told in a flashback by Landon as he turns 57 years old. How that one year changed his life forever makes up for a superb story which he promises at the very start that its going to give us smiles as well as tears and it indeed does leaves a smile on my face with a lump in my throat. Only grudge I had with this one was - it was too predictable but nevertheless a good one time read.
A book which can be read in one sitting if you have couple of hours to spend.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Asimov On Numbers - Isaac Asimov (Book)

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Asimov On Numbers - Isaac Asimov
Some of my very close and naughty friends keep throwing me these challenging books to read. The last I remembered that I struggled big time with were the Ayn Rand books (Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged) and I loved them totally, Although John Galt's speech was something that I will never forget in my life (its quite challenging to read full) but I loved it so much that a line from the book became my permanent bumper sticker. So, a very dear friend like that sent me a couple of books of the same kind - specially the one that I am talking about right now is based on Numbers - Roman, Greek, Babylonian Mathematical numbers, written of-course by Isaac Asimov. He was a Russian American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards, Just imagine. Reading this book took me 25 years back in time to my mathematics classroom but it is written in such a way that I really wondered why our teachers couldn't use the same technique of explaining the numbers the way he does as it made so much sense to me (a layman with no specific mathematical background), it is even interesting to read as an independent book if you have any interest in History of anything, specially the numbers and how the evolved in due course of time. 

This is basically a collection of essays that he has written between 1959 to 1966, he himself keeps them editing them with correct footnotes. Asimov hasn't only made it all look so simple to a layman in easy terms but even pointed out the mistakes done by primitive people in calculating and the price for the same that we pay today. Plus on top of that in between his theory and explanations he has written the briefs on different personalities of olden era as well the evolution of computer and other devices in between the chapters to make it more visual friendly with pictures and details. His comments on them are hilarious and so real time. He calls mathematics a "She" and when he is not able to solve a problem he calls her as if she is not interested in him :). Some of his findings are simple yet mind-blowing, I was shocked with my zero knowledge of the subject yet it was so simple to understand (his way). Mind-blowing is the way he decodes some hugest huge mathematical calculations and claims that he doesn't wants to go insane by going further deeper in them as if he can, also the way he credits and dedicates a page on each of the great Mathematician that he mentions in his articles, that way enhancing the readers knowledge of some of the greatest from the field from the past. Superb Unbelievably Awesome. 

The book had so many instances when I had to actually read the sentence twice or at times more then that to get it but what made it more interesting was that after sometime it started making a lot of sense, specially with real time examples like calculating the length of surface of earth in two different ways - the findings had a difference of 11 feet :) how? it was hilarious but negligible in mathematical world. Some fractions with endless results were so much fun that I am actually going to use with my daughter now ie. 1/7 - if you solve it - you will get a damn good result - try it :) and so many instances like that. I could never imagine Mathematics could be so interesting or can be told in such a nice understanding way - I wish our Mathematics teachers take a clue from books like these and make it this way - there will be no students going to Commerce or Arts classes in that case. It covers everything and anything on Planet earth with which he could make a numbered reference like the quantity of water on the planet, fresh water or salt, area of entire planet, population, density and what not. All in all it was a perfect read with so much thrown in mere 300 pages that I am inclined to read couple of more works. I guess he did write some books on Literary figures and on their writings too, guess that is going to make some real interesting readings. 

This Book is highly recommended to all those with Engineering and Mathematical degrees who may or may not be using the good use of their degrees as of now ;) - read this - you will love it.