Wednesday, April 29, 2020

That bear ate my pants

That Bear Ate My Pants!That Bear Ate My Pants! by Tony James Slater
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A compilation of episodes of the adventures of a young Englishman who has gone to Ecuador to volunteer in an animal rescue facility. The narration is in conversational mode and is like listening to an enthusiastic storyteller at a campfire.

The author seems very keen to inject humour in every situation, almost like he has an OCD to do so.

The 1st half of the book is to set up the circumstances for the adventure and the second half is where he seems to have got his mojo for narration.

It is all about how he overcomes his fear for handling animals though he has an intrinsic love for them and is willing to go to any lengths to prove it.

It would be a good advertisement for people who plan to volunteer in exotic places and will give an idea of how to cope with difficult situations when you have to develop communication skills and in this case animal handling skills, on the job.

Also gives a peep into culture conflict. This excerpt will give you an idea - "He said it's a good idea because around here people don't break in and point a gun at you until you give them your valuables. It's too much trouble. Here they just break in and kill everyone straight away. Then they can take their time robbing the place."

Though the book is touted as a funny book, it would be more appropriate if it is termed an adventure book with a sense of humour.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Daddy Long legs - Book review

Daddy-Long-Legs (Daddy-Long-Legs, #1)Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful story of an orphan raised in an orphanage till the age of 16 when one fine day a trustee of the orphanage decides to sponsor her college education but on the condition of anonymity. He feels she has the potential of being a great author. The only condition is she has to write to him every week giving him an account of how she is progressing in her education, without expecting a reply. The letter would be addressed to his secretary who will be the point of liaison.
The book is a collection of letters that she writes to her anonymous benefactor and it reflects how a girl for whom the 4 walls of the orphanage was the world, has now to adapt to a wider world where people are not aware of what it is to live without filial love and material comfort. But not once does she regret her background and later realises that she is fortunate to have had the upbringing she had as she can now realise the value of a family and simple material comfort.
There is a streak of good humour running right through the book and never lets you get bored reading it.
But remember it was written in 1912 and set in an America as it was then.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Little Prince - Book reviewed

The Little PrinceThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book for all ages. For children, it is a book about adventure and for adults it can mean so many things at different levels.
It is metaphorical describing introspection at times and general observation of human behaviour at others. It can be spiritual or philosophical too, depending on what your frame of mind is in while reading it. Hence, a book that can be read a number of times without getting bored and extracting a different meaning from the tale every single time.
Or, it can be read to a child as a book of sheer adventure of a person lost in a desert who meets an alien. It is so much fun and excitement for a child and adult alike. Definitely a must read.
Here are a few excerpts from the book which will give you an insight into what to expect.
The best part is it is a one sit read.

“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”

“Grown-ups love figures... When you tell them you've made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? " Instead they demand "How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? " Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

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Monday, March 30, 2020

A book review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautifully written book delving into an autistic mind, viewing the world and relationships through the thoughts of a 15 year old boy.
It is the story of a boy, an avid fan of Sherlock Holmes, who wants to find the killer of a dog that has been brutally murdered.
The writing is racy and grips you right through. It is a one sitting read.
I shall leave you with some pertinent excerpts from the book and urge you all to give the book a read. You will not regret it.

I think people believe in heaven because they don’t like the idea of dying, because they want
to carry on living and they don’t like the idea that other people will move into their house and put
their things into the rubbish.

All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call them stupid,
even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they
have special needs. But this is stupid because everyone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding relativity is difficult and also everyone has special needs, like
Father, who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him from getting fat, or Mrs. Peters, who wears a beige-colored hearing aid, or
Siobhan, who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of
these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs.

People think that alien spaceships would be solid and made of metal and have lights all over
them and move slowly through the sky because that is how we would build a spaceship if we were able to build one that big. But aliens, if they exist, would probably be very different from us. They might look like big slugs, or be flat like reflections. Or they might be bigger than planets. Or they might not have bodies at all. They might just be information, like in a computer. And their spaceships might look like clouds, or be made up of unconnected objects like dust or leaves.
And sometimes, when someone has died, like Mother died, people say, “What would you
want to say to your mother if she was here now?” or “What would your mother think about that?”
which is stupid because Mother is dead and you can’t say anything to people who are dead and dead people can’t think.

Eventually scientists will discover something that explains ghosts, just like they discovered
electricity, which explained lightning, and it might be something about people’s brains, or
something about the earth’s magnetic field, or it might be some new force altogether. And then
ghosts won’t be mysteries. They will be like electricity and rainbows and nonstick frying pans.
And it made me think how all the water in the world was connected, and this water had evaporated from the oceans somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico or Baffin Bay, and now it was falling in front of the house and it would drain away into the gutters and flow to a sewage station where it would be cleaned and then it would go into a river and go back into the ocean again.

People who believe in God think God has put human beings on the earth because they
think human beings are the best animal, but human beings are just an animal and they will evolve
into another animal, and that animal will be cleverer and it will put human beings into a zoo, like
we put chimpanzees and gorillas into a zoo. Or human beings will all catch a disease and die out or they will make too much pollution and kill themselves, and then there will only be insects in the world and they will be the best animal.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dear Mrs.Bird - Book review

Dear Mrs. BirdDear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very well written tale about how people carry on with their lives during war.
This story is based in London when the Germans are bombing the city all over the place leaving behind scenes of absolute destruction. In this scenario you will find the residents resilient to all the destruction around and do fall in and out of love, have parties and run to and fro to work in whatever means of transport available without giving a second thought to 'what next'.
It deals wih the role of an agony aunt during the war.
The author has maintained the stiff upper lip humour right through the book which doesn't bore or depress you with the rigours and tragedies of war alone.
Loved the description of the prevailing architecture.
'It was a dear little Georgian house, surrounded by weeping willows and with such symmetrical windows it looked as if a child had told an architect exactly how a house should be designed.'
The horrors of war are brought forth brilliantly in this sentence - 'A man was slumped over a table as if he was drunk. I didn't see his face, but I saw that his hands were gone.'
The author very succintly explains why life seems casual - 'If Hitler had his way, no one would ever care about anyone, or anything other than him and his appalling ideas. Well my dear, You must know that that is fascism and Hitler is a fool. The day we stop caring or showing we are human is the day we mght just as well give in.'
The characterisation is on the spot and like everything else in the book the author maintains a level headed approach to all situations without going overboard.
For a debut novel it is excellent and a must read if you like British humour and writing.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Parking Lot book reviewed

The Parking LotThe Parking Lot by Karthik Kotresh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title suggests all the action revolves around the parking lot in a mall.
A tightly paced narrative to keep the reader hooked is commendable for a writer writing his first book. It surely is unputdownable. Not many characters, just the bare minimum to keep the story going.
Good language skills, good plot and well edited too.
My only grouse against the book is that I could read it at night without getting scared. Yes, this is supposed to be a horror story but in the end you realise why. It is not the usual bhoot bungla, run of the mill ghost story.
He tried to introduce a romantic angle to the story too but sorry to say it seemed superfluous. Could have done without it.
The characters have been fleshed out quite well without going into too much of detail.
The bottom line is it's all in the mind till it comes out in the open to mock and threaten you.
I don't wish to play spoilsport so won't say much except urge you to give it a read if you like thrillers.
I bought the Kindle version. At Rs.99/- it is Value for money.
I enjoyed it.

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Friday, February 7, 2020

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - A Trilogy in 5 parts - Book reviewed

The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five PartsThe Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts by Douglas Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is the ‘Alice in wonderland’ of science fiction. It is outrageous fiction. The author has given free reign to his imagination to fantasise about space and time travel. No holds barred.
The protagonist in this book is Arthur Dent who lives in London leading a rather sedate life when once on a visit to the pub he meets Ford Prefect the alien who has dropped by and tells Arthur that all his earthly problems will end as soon as the earth blows up in a short while. The earth blows up and Ford takes charge of Arthur, takes him along on an incredible journey full of adventure through time and space.
I will give below a few extracts from the book to give you an idea of what to expect from this book.

Teasers are usually rich kids with nothing to do. They cruise around looking for planets which haven’t made interstellar contact yet and buzz them

It is the sausages which sit next to them. Joyless tubes, full of gristle, floating in a sea of something hot and sad, stuck with a plastic pin the shape of a chef’s hat: a memorial, one feels, for some chef who hated the world, and died, forgotten and alone, among his cats on a back stair in Stepney.

A thought seemed to strike the woman. It struck her very slowly. You could watch it coming in like a long wave on a sandy beach.

The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

Just to demonstrate how easy it was he floated away down the alley, fell upwards quite dramatically and bobbed back down to her like a banknote on a breath of wind.

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

There were so many different ways in which you were required to provide absolute proof of your identity these days that life could easily become extremely tiresome just from that factor alone, never mind the deeper existential problems of trying to function as a coherent consciousness in an epistemologically ambiguous universe.

Being virtually killed by a virtual laser in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.

The quality of advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.

Let the past hold on to itself and let the present move forward into the future.

Just because you see something, it doesn’t mean to say it’s there. And if you don’t see something it doesn’t mean to say it’s not there, it’s only what your senses bring to your attention.

An alien race of people dispossessed of their own lives and histories, stuck on a remote post of our solar system and filling their cultural vacuum with our cultural junk.

This is not an unputdownable book. You can put it down any time you want and pick it up to read any time you want. You will not miss any continuity. Took me around 6 months to read this book, maybe because am not the type who generally reads science fiction and this is hard core science fiction akin to nuclear warfare during the epic war between the Kauravas and Pandavas in Mahabharata.
A great one for Star Wars fans for sure! For the others, an opportunity to get an insight into what excites the Sci-Fi fans.
It is a Trilogy in 5 parts. Go figure! All of 733 pages.

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That bear ate my pants

That Bear Ate My Pants! by Tony James Slater My rating: 3 of 5 stars A compilation of episodes of the adventures of a young Englishma...