Tuesday, June 8, 2021

When Places Come Alive - Book reviewed

 

When Places Come AliveWhen Places Come Alive by Ami Bhat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's a fun, interesting and a quick read about all those exotic places you might have visited or will surely want to visit after reading this book by Ami Bhat who is a passionate traveler, photographer and an amazing narrator.
I finished reading this book in one sitting as most of you will.
Her writing is fluid and engaging and she knows exactly how much time and talk is to be devoted to each story without letting you keep the book down.
It reminded me of the tour guides at all tourist places who hold your interest with stories that you might have heard but they have the knack of spicing them up with their own creativity.
The basic premise that Ami Bhat has based her stories on is that every popular place has some myth, legend or very interesting history associated with it. In this book she narrates the best myth by giving it her own spin followed by a short fact sheet of the place and links for additional reading if you wish.
She takes the reader on ten different trips to ten fascinating destinations, both National and International.
My personal favourites are (in no particular order) -

1. Where did she go - in Kuldhara, Rajasthan, India (famous as the abandoned village)

2. Sparkling Secrets - Gold Coast, Australia (fun treasure hunt)

3. The Last village - Ladakh, India (Aryan descendants)

The other seven too are fascinating and fun reads but the above three appealed to me due to personal reasons.

A must read for all travelers or even wannabe travelers!



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Monday, June 7, 2021

War and Peace - Book reviewed

 

War and PeaceWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally am here to share my experience of reading this massive tome by Leo Tolstoy.
If it was not for the lockdown due Covid19, I wonder if I would have been able to go through the lives of the Russians during the war waged by Napoléon.
This was my personal War against the boredom during lockdown to attain some Literary Peace of having read one of the most read and quoted books.
It took me over a year to complete reading this book and I did manage to read a few other short novels in between just to lighten up the mood.
This book delves into the personal lives of the Russian Nobility and their subjects, their relationships, how they are affected by the War waged by Napoleon against Russia and an in-depth analysis of how historians view the war where even Losers are Winners.
Leo Tolstoy also goes to great lengths to talk about the continuity that exists in the lives of people and nations. In the Epilogue he discusses the existence or the lack of Absolute Freedom.
Overall a book to be read to understand the concept of freedom, war and peace.
I had downloaded the ebook published in April 2011, by Project Gutenberg, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.

I leave you with a few excerpts from the book which I liked and found them relevant in today's circumstances.

If no one fought except on his own conviction, there would be no wars.

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.

...the endless variety of men's minds, which prevents a truth from ever presenting itself identically to two persons.

Not only does a good army commander not need any special qualities, on the contrary he needs the absence of the highest and best human attributes - love, poetry, tenderness, and philosophic inquiring doubt. He should be limited, firmly convinced that what he is doing is very important (otherwise he will not have sufficient patience), and only then will he be a brave leader.

Who excuses himself accuses himself.

If there was none of this magnanimity in war, we should go to war only when it was worth while going to certain death..

...to say that the will of many men is expressed by the actions of any one historic personage, is in itself false.

Since the world began and men have killed one another no one has ever committed such a crime against his fellow man without comforting himself with this same idea. This idea is le bien public, the hypothetical welfare of other people.

Where there's law there's injustice.

For the 'great' man nothing is wrong, there is no atrocity for which a 'great' man can be blamed.

And it occurs to no one that to admit a greatness not commensurable with the standard of right and wrong is merely to admit one's own nothingness and immeasurable meanness.

..pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.

If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, the possibility of life is destroyed.

We know that man has the faculty of becoming completely absorbed in a subject however trivial it may be, and that there is no subject so trivial that it will not grow to infinite proportions if one's entire attention is devoted to it.

My whole idea is that if vicious people are united and constitute a power, then honest folk must do the same.

Power is the collective will of the people transferred, by expressed or tacit consent, to their chosen rulers.

If there be a single law governing the actions of men, free will cannot exist, for then man's will is subject to that law.


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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

No true love in Tehran - Book reviewed

 

No True Love in Tehran: An American Trip to IranNo True Love in Tehran: An American Trip to Iran by Kareem Aal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kareem is an American of Egyptian origin hence he does have an inkling of the Arab culture so his trip to Iran is not a huge culture shock for him.
I enjoyed reading the first half of the book and then the interest slackened.
Kareem does give some wonderful insights into the political and cultural circumstances of Iran hence it is a recommended read to get a glimpse of life in Iran during its turbulent times.
The author's thoughts keep jumping between life in the USA and Iran to find analogies for the stark differences and this is disturbing at times.

I will give below a few excerpts from the book to give you an idea of what to expect.

When you have a problem with someone, you should talk, Sanjar often said. Not doing so, or setting prohibitive conditions to doing so, could only mean that both sides desired the impasse...The result was that the citizens of each country had little chance to speak with one another and bypass the trolls guarding either side of the divide with their aging arsenals of propoganda.

Self-importance: that is the scent in the air of New York.

An hour with a man of learning is better than a thousand years studying on your own.

It was a place where you had to rely on people - not a system - if you wanted justice.

I don't undesrstand how someone can say they just love God or Jesus when they don't even know how to love another person!

I began to understand the larger goal of censorship: getting people's own minds to do the work of the police.

Perfection is a return to a preconceived notion.

It was the conditioning I had as a middle class American: you could go out anywhere and get served hand and foot, but to have someone serving you in your own home was both economically and culturally questionable.

What I learned was that they desired to do ordinary things without being subjected to extraordinary attention.

Freedom is an opening with sharp edges that disfigures some and refines others.


Overall a book worth reading.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Monday, December 28, 2020

The Case of the Canterfill Codicil - Book review

 

The Case of the Canterfell Codicil (Anty Boisjoly Mysteries, #1)The Case of the Canterfell Codicil by P.J. Fitzsimmons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I opted to read this as I love all the genres that Fitzsimmons claims to indulge in simultaneously. After reading the book I realized that he does indulge but I found it difficult to manage Wodehouse type humour with armchair mystery solving.
The concentration on the language is so much that almost till I had finished the book I had forgotten that I am reading a mystery book.
My humble opinion is that the author finds it difficult to be flippant and mysterious simultaneously.

I quote below a couple of excerpts to give you an idea of his writing prowess.

Vickers turned from the dresser and looked at me as though I'd come through the door in a suit of armour, carrying my head under my arm.

You show one of the London property developers a tree, they go into a blind rage, they do, and before you know it, they'll have it down and replaced with a terraced townhouse.

The interior of the tavern was of the cool, quiet, eternal twilight found in all the best pubs regardless of the hour or season. The only source of light was slices of sunshine that sneaked through the cracks to find and illuminate lazy particles of dust.


A book that is a conflict between easy reading and wanting to finish to get to the bottom of the mystery. For me, the former won and I read it at leisure.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Friday, December 4, 2020

Book of Snark - Book review

 

Book of Snark: Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the BusBook of Snark: Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus by Tension Mounts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book that I would carry to a dentist appointment or to read at the bus stop or in the security hold area while waiting for a flight. It has the abiiity to distract your from the rigours of waiting and keep you chuckling at how the world behaves.
It is a collection of thoughts that you might have surely thought but not penned hence it is more of an affirmation of the strange plastic world we live in and she has managed to put these thoughts forward with a great sense of humour.
It is a great book to be read in short doses as it doesn't have a plot nor is there any storyline but just a collection of snarky thoughts.

Here are a few gems to whet your curiosity and arouse your desire for more -

It's not good to be popu;ar at work because you will get assigned to the hard jobs first.

I have been cleaning my apartment all afternoon and will now enjoy the five minutes it stays that way.

I want to know why the most expensive furniture is also the ugliest.

All water has been pissed out of some creature at some point in time


I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


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Monday, November 30, 2020

Witch - Book review


 Reads like a book that has been written for a lark. Fun in parts but drags you through the 1st half of the book. The last 25% of the book is comprehensively written with a lot of thought and clarity and is what made me give the 3rd star.

It is a two in one book. A tale about the relationship between a mother and her daughter and how they deal with life and fidelity. Adding to the atmosphere are their husbands and children and how they cope with their parents and grandparents.

The character of the Witch could have been better fleshed out. Though the Witch is the central character of the book, I found the character of the daughter more interesting.

I found it to be gossipy in nature and a collection of short stories picked out from scrapbooks.

The most intereting line from the book for me was -

Now you look like a proper witch. Let those wrinkles breathe! Be proud of those age spots. Don't hide them under a veneer of camouflage squeezed from the glands of tortured animals!

Disclaimer : I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Notes from Nepal - Book review

 

Notes from NepalNotes from Nepal by Joshi Mukard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very well written book about adventure travel in Nepal. A tongue in cheek account of the Nepali way of life and the typical characteristics of the Nepalis.
I had always been fascinated about the Annapurna Base Camp trek and have read quite a few travel stories about it but this one beat them all hands down. However the tedious and tiresome the trek might have been, the author gets it across with dollops of humour. You will not turn a single page without a smile.

Here are a few excerpts to give you an idea of the laughs that you are in for when you read the book.

Some of the wooden planks from the flooring have gone missing, creating enough gaps for an average sized person to fall through effortlessly, and kill themselves by smashing their heads on round inviting rocks below, which appear to be there just for this purpose.

I even reply with a never before elaboration to forwarded Good Morning messages to people whose messages I never once bothered to even open,...

My odd behaviour is not a side effect of over-drinking. It feels like I'm saying my goodbyes.

I had already compromised on my dream of sleeping in a bag that doesn't have somebody else's fart collection.

Intriguingly, the latest news that's out there on the internet about bear attacks in the area dates back to 2014. I don't know what happened to the bears after 2014. It cannot be like they just called a meeting, held a referendum, and elected to remove humans from their hit list.


It is a one sitting read. Perfect for short flights or lonely evenings or just about anytime you feel like uplifting your spirits.
I bought this book on Amazon Kindle for a measly 99/- Go for it guys. It's worth every rupee spent.

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When Places Come Alive - Book reviewed

  When Places Come Alive by Ami Bhat My rating: 4 of 5 stars It's a fun, interesting and a quick read about all those exotic places ...