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November 30, 2013

Book Review - 143 : English Bites

Publisher : Penguin India
Author : Manish Gupta

Confession : I took up the book review thinking as fiction of English-language-background-misadventures but it turned out to be more of an academic book.

English Bites! - My fullproof English Learning formula by Manish Gupta is the story of a man who goes from being tongue-tied in school to becoming a smooth talking banker. Hilarious illustrations, anecdotes and the way things have been planned up in the book give a whole new dimension to it. Through a series of hilarious personal adventures and misadventures, Gupta provides easy solutions to problems faced by language learners. So, whether you’re a vernacular speaker, a GRE/ GMAT/CAT/XAT aspirant or just a language nut, English Bites! will expand your vocabulary and improve your verbal ability. It may even help you love the English language a little more!

The path of learning English is full of interesting anecdotes and we all must have had our share of embarrassing moments of wrong English, written or spoken and this book provides a funny picture of quite a lot on them. There is learning and unlearning at the same time, though this definitely has a very niche audience and definitely not for every reader. But if you can somehow resist the temptation of looking at the footnotes every time, there is some fun in reading this as a fiction book.

I am going with 3/5 for Manish Gupta's 'English Bites'. It is learning vocabulary and nuances of English in a fun way and definitely a big help for anyone preparing for those competitive examinations. Read for what it actually stands for and you will not be disappointed at all.

November 22, 2013

Random Notes on a book about Buddhism and travel

Author : Aruna Deshpande
Publisher : Jaico books

Rating : 3.5 / 5

India is the guardian of a rich and ancient culture, and the seat of Buddhism. Mystic monasteries on Himalayan slopes, richly carved stupas amid lush gardens, cavernous dwellings with exquisite paintings –India is home to all these and more. In Buddhist India rediscovered, her seventh book, respected historian Aruna Deshpande travels the length and breadth of the country to track down the imprints of Buddhism. Never before has any historian presented every major Buddhist site located in India in one book.

Here are the architectural gems of Lumbini, the lesser known Tawang Monastery of Arunachal Pradesh, the unparalleled Bodh Gaya and a reliable guide to visiting all these places. A boon to pilgrims, travelers and armchair explorers alike, Buddhist India Rediscovered will fire the imagination and carry you on a memorable journey.

Punched into short chapters about sites in various states of India and complimented with beautiful photographs, it collates into a competent travel book with sprinkling of Buddhism in it. A must for travel junkies and also will pique interest for anyone looking into insights of Buddhism unfolding across various states of India.  Read as you travel and i am sure, you will like it more!

November 4, 2013

Book Review - 142 : Baramulla Bomber

Author : Clark Prasad
Publisher : Niyogi Books

The story begins with three prominent characters - Adolf Silfverskiold, a Swedish intelligence officer, Aahana Yajurvedi, a mountaineer and girlfriend of one Mansur Haider, who is a cricketer from Kashmir and a prime suspect being tracked by multiple intelligence agencies and Agastya Rathore, the then Indian Home Minister – all jump off a bomber plane to destroy what is called the Ancient Biblical-Vedic weapon. And slowly are we introduced to the different people of the story as we turn the pages.

The story kicks off after a mysterious earthquake struck Shaksgam Valley. But is it an earthquake? Or was a biblical weapon tested in there? There’s probabilty of Indo-China war breaking out? But why? Why is Mansur Haider important? Is there a solution to the Kashmir crisis? Can destiny be controlled? Does a cosmic religion exist?

The author creates solid illustrations to tell the story and i found the narrative device compelling. The pace is brisk and there is very little dwelling on some of the ridiculous and illogical actions scenes which follows. The editing is tight and even though author manages to catch your attention with detailing, it ultimately lets to its downfall by pouring in too much of unnecessary jargon and unrelated plot points. All of this in total drags the narrative and even though at times you feel the pace picking up and things getting back on track, the narrative hinges and makes you weary.

The book is left with a little something about the Svastik Trilogy. The series of three books – Eka, the Baramulla Bomber, Dvitiya – The Consultant and the third book or Tritiya (Yet to be titled) are all concerned with a question – What is the power behind the creation of Universe and human origins? The main protagonists of the first two books are different – you can start with either one or two, but the culmination of the story will happen in the third one.

I am going with 3/5 for Clark Prasad's 'Baramulla Bomber'. The length needs to be shortened and plot had to be less convoluted. Otherwise, it is a quick espionage thriller which deserves more of your time in the future with other books in the series about to come.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

November 3, 2013

Book Review -141 : The Guardian Angels

Publisher : Grapevine
Author : Rohit Gore

“The Guardian Angels” is a tale of two star-crossed lovers, Adi Mehta and Radha Deodhar. Their lives seem to be woven through delicate strings together; always pulling them towards each other. Hailing from strikingly different worlds, they find themselves drawn to each other; often saving the other from dire circumstances or situations.

The story starts with Aditya Mehta, the introvert and the son of a billionaire. Adi is a recluse and despite wanting to socialize he forces himself to stay alone. He then meets Radha Deodhar at school. Radha is the exact opposite of what Adi is. She is very smart and proactive and is brought up by her father who believes in socialism. They instantly become friends in school; they help each other walk through the troubles at school, college and in real life. Later in their life, having known each other for almost two decades, they still struggle to find the right name for their relationship.

Gore introduces characters to the T and maintains a brisk pace through out. Length has been a problem with Gore's earlier novels and this one is no exception. But that's overcome with the sincerity and non-convoluted conversations between the lead characters. Both Adi and Radha, even though resorting to unnecessary melodrama at times, still evokes sympathy and concern. There are heartfelt situations and multiple instances

I am going with 3/5 for Rohit Gore's 'The Guardian Angels'. A little shorter and better edited would have been more rewarding, but in its current form this is a quick Sunday read worth your time.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.