Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Battle of Belonging: On Nationalism, Patriotism, And What it Means to Be Indian by Shashi Tharoor

How can you judge a person just by prejudice passed on by others? In the same way, I heard a lot about Shashi Tharoor and his writing style. I wanted to have a first-hand experience of the same. And though I strongly believe in the need for strong leadership and think a persona like our current Prime minister must be there on top, I wanted to read the veteran's thoughts. So I took the book to know his views. 

The Battle of Belonging: On Nationalism, Patriotism, And What it Means to Be Indian by Shashi Tharoor

Frankly speaking, the book changed hands twice before it came back to me. After reading a few pages, I became reluctant to review the book, so I gave it to my teammate. She returned the book with the same feedback, so the ball again fell in my court. So here I am to give you a brief of the book.

As per the title, one may feel that Mr. Tharoor has tried to present his thoughts of Nationalism and Patriotism, and his dream of being a true Indian. But I found content more of a collection of editorials. Also some topics he beautifully (also with vocabulary) explains and shows how the current government fails in achieving so. Those who don't know about Mr. Tharoor's political affiliation may find the book a good work that presents underlying problems of government. 

But for those who are aware of his alliance with the Congress party, can easily identify his use of this book as a platform to loathe the current government. I don't mind if his allegations are just opposed to BJP, but by doing so he became forgetful of his party's misdeeds in the last 50 years. Also, I found it difficult to digest when he bombarded the country at large because it is not in line with his idea of freedom and Nationalism.

As usual, the language of the book is at a higher level. It demands full attention. And the book is not on a neutral note. You can find bias.

Overall I will give 2.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care by April Falcon Doss

I selected "Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care" by April Falcon Doss because I am a data scientist myself and I wanted to see to what extent the author shares the power of data. After reading the book I can say the author has done a pretty good job.

Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care by April Falcon Doss

I don't want to share much about the content, for that you can refer blurb or others' review. But the author has taken proper ways including historical importance and implementations to explain things. Starting from most common and more specific I.e. individual data theft (I.e. financial information), to more information-driven such as your likes & dislikes. Everything can be derived easily. 

But it is also equally difficult not to leave a trail behind. Every damn digital thing we do leave footprints behind. Let's say you don't use a smartphone or even a phone. But the content you watch on your television leaves a trace behind. Examples are many I have quoted only one. Many such examples and few steps to reduce risk at your side were quoted in this book. As the author is a lawyer you will also find many citations of cyber law.

Am sure opening the book, language is somewhat semi-technical at places. But enjoyable read which deserves 4 out of 5.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Girl Next Door by Arpit Vageria

Lockdown was that once in a lifetime experience for all the people where it was imposed by authorities. For many, it was bonding time that they missed the moment they entered in professional lives. For many families, they had more members in the house than that of Diwali or New Year. So it was obvious when small and medium-sized cities and towns are packed with full population, there are chances that few find their life partners. On the same notion the book, "the girl next door" was written by Arpit Vageria.

The Girl Next Door by Arpit Vageria

My reasons for selecting the book was not nostalgia around Lockdown, but the author Arpit. I had missed reading 2 of his last bestsellers, so I didn't want to miss the chance this time. Frankly speaking, I didn't check the blurb when I said yes for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

As I mentioned, the hero of our story is Ishaan, an RJ, settled in Mumbai for the last 15 years. He was intentionally away from his family in Bhopal to avoid family confrontations. But his mother emotionally blackmailed him and he came to home town. And when he was frustrated and thinking about what to do for the next 3-4 weeks, he saw a beautiful girl. That beautiful girl is Ruhi, the heroine of the story. Then follows a cute love story covering family issues as well. Read the book to know more. 

I know I have covered not much in the blurb, but I think you can always refer blurb of the book for the same. Coming to my impression of the story, it's a perfect light romantic story written keeping the Bollywood audience in mind, a classic Bollywood romance. And just like Bollywood movies don't go with facts about the pandemic that the author visualize in the book, just enjoy the story. 

Coming to writing style, the book is written with easy to understand language with fast pace storytelling. A good recommendation for beginners and Mills & Boon's lover. The cover photo is catching. 

On a general note, the book was missing that unique touch of Romance. I am not able to put it in words but apart from pandemic & lockdown novelty in character or dialogues is missing.

Overall a nice entertaining book that deserves 3.5 out of 5.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

કૃષ્ણનું Modern Management by તિર્થક રાણા

કૃષ્ણનું મોર્ડન મેનેજમેન્ટ એક નાનું પણ પ્રેરણાદાયી અને રસપ્રદ પુસ્તક છે. મારી વાત કરું તો મારે ઘરે આવેલા કાકી જે પંદર-વીસ મિનિટ બેઠા તેઓ પણ કહી ગયા કે તારું વંચાય જાય તો મને આપજે. મને આ પુસ્તકમાં રસ પડ્યો છે. આમ પણ અનુભવે હું એટલું જરૂર કહી શકું કે જે પુસ્તક શરૂની  દસ મિનિટમાં રસ ન જગાવી શકે એ પુસ્તક પછી આગળ વાંચો તો પણ કંટાળો જ પ્રદાન કરે છે.

કૃષ્ણનું Modern Management  by તિર્થક રાણા

કૃષ્ણને સમજવા આજની પેઢીને એમની ભાષામાં સમજાવવા પડે છે, જે કામ તિર્થક રાણાએ સુપેરે કર્યું છે.  રોજિંદી વાતોને, ઘટનાઓને જીવન સાથે જોડી જો ઉદાહરણ આપવામાં આવે તો વાત ઘીથી લચપચતા શીરાની જેમ ગળે ઉતારાવી શકાય. આ પુસ્તક બસ એ રોજિંદી ઘટનાઓ, વાતો, નિર્ણયોને કૃષ્ણનાં ત્રાજવે તોળી આ આધુનિક સમયમાં કૃષ્ણ હોત તો એ શું કરત કે આ સંદર્ભમાં કૃષ્ણનો શો અભિગમ કે ઉપદેશ હોત એ વિષે વાત કરે છે. તિર્થક રાણાનું પુસ્તક પણ આ જ સમજાવવાની અને તેમના ઉપદેશો આજના જીવનમાં કેટલા અને કેમ પ્રસ્તુત બની શકે એ માટેનો પ્રયત્ન કરે છે.

આજના કળિયુગમાં બધાં દેવોને સમજવા કે પૂજવા અઘરાં લાગે છે. પણ કૃષ્ણને તમે સારી સમજી શકો એટલે જ તેને પૂજવા સરળ થઇ જાય છે. એ કોઈ ચાલુ ચીલે ચાલ્યા જ નથી. એ  અંતરથી બળવાખોર છે અને એટલે જ કદાચ આપણને સૌને એ અત્યંત પ્રિય છે.  

દરેક લેખના અંતે મૂકાયેલ ‘ખળભળાટ’ એ ઉત્તમ વન લાઈનરનો સમૂહ છે. વન લાઈનર એ જમ્યા પછીનો મુખવાસ છે જે ચગળવાનો ગમે છે. રાણા સાહેબના આ વન લાઈનર ખરેખર ખૂબ સરસ છે.  આ ઉપરાંત, મને વ્યક્તિગત રીતે ગમેલી ટિટોડીનાં બચ્ચાનાં સંદર્ભમાં લખાયેલી વાત કે બધી વિષમતાઓ વચ્ચે ‘એ’ જેને બચાવવા ચાહે તેને બચાવે જ છે અને એ જેનો વિનાશ નિશ્ચિત કરે તેનો વિલય નક્કી જ છે. આ ‘આ’ એટલે ભગવાન નહીં પણ તમારાં અંદર રહેલો તમારો અંતરાત્મા. લેખકનાં શબ્દોમાં, “જીવમાત્રનાં અંતરમાં રહેલો આત્મવિશ્વાસ.”

કર્મ વિષેની વાત લેખકે એક યા બીજી રીતે દરેક લેખમાં કરી છે. કર્મયજ્ઞ પેટાવવો એ જ આજના સમયનો તકાદો છે. અને લેખકના શબ્દોમાં જ કહીએ તો “ભગવાન પાસે દયાની ભીખ માંગવા કરવા અથાક કર્મોની બંદગી તેને વધુ પસંદ છે.”  

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

 I was going through English Audiobooks available for review on Netgalley when I saw the title "The Cul-de-Sac War" by Melissa Ferguson. The very first thing I checked was the language settings in Netgalley. Then I google the word "Cul-de-sac", what I gauged from the title was the book must be around neighbors. And that was described in the blurb. Based on these few things, I applied for the review copy in exchange for an honest review, and luckily I won it. So here I am discussing the sweet love story.

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

Written in settings of a cure rom-com (you may say sitcoms), the story revolves around the personal & professional lives of Bree & Chip. I don't want to discuss the plot once again as the blurb is more than enough. Let me talk about things I liked about the story

1. Pranks between Bree & Chip

2. Gentleness of Chip in all situation never losing his temper

3. Characters of the girlfriend of Chip & boyfriend of Bree. Both were caring and marriage material.

4. Fun-filled incidents ( I know the very first point was a prank, but I feel I should mention it)

Coming towards good points about the book

1) Light read

2) Language is easy and age-appropriate

3) The pace of the story is fast and will maintain

4) To the point story

Overall I enjoyed listening to this book. The book deserves 3.75 stars out of 5. 

A Must-read - The Cowherd Prince by Krishna Udayasankar

If you have read my review of books based on Mahabharata, you must be aware that I rarely skip book that is remotely related to epic. The very first retelling I read was from Krishna Udayasankar, and I was delighted. Unfortunately, I missed a chance to get two more books from that series. The God was gracious; I got 3rd party of that trilogy and was impressed by the author's work. And when I came to know that prequel to the series is about to get released, I didn't want to miss the chance. I like to thank the author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Cowherd Prince by Krishna Udayasankar

Those who have read Mahabharata or any book on Krishna avatars knew most of the author either stretch Krishna's childhood days or after he met Pandavas. Rarely you will find a book which talks about what happened during his younger days, how he became a prince from a common cowherd. Thanks to Krishna (author), I got a chance to read a novelty. This book is more focused on that part of Krishna's life. 

As usual, the book started with the background/prologue of firstborn v/s firewrights. Those who have read the series are aware of the concept. For first-timers, the author has shown two knowledge sects, which makes the building block of the plot for 3 books. As I mentioned, the story covers the part of Govinda's life that gave him the title of a great leader and politician. The author has introduced suspense and thrill by bringing Govinda's missing family and his revenge into the story. Few major characters apart from Govinda, who has shone brightly, were Balbhadra, Yuyudhana, and Nanda. Each chapter brought a new set of characters or plot; you won't find repetition. Throughout the book, you will enjoy changes that come with a new chapter.

There are thousands of authors trying to recreate or Hindu mythological stories. But only a few got success. It requires a good combination of plot conceptualization, political inclusion, connection with original epics, theological or philosophical aspects. I have read more than 100 books on mythological fiction, but if I have to recommend the top 5 books series, Aryavarta Chronicles has made its place along with Meluha by Amish & Ajaya by Anand. 

Coming to writing style, the story progresses at a medium to fast pace. Krishna's usage of language is mixed type, I mean not too plain at the same time not too difficult. If you are a fan of such books, I strongly recommend this book to you.

The series is good enough to be adopted. I think I saw the news that screening rights were auctioned to Sonam Kapoor, but I haven't seen any further news. If time permits, I will make a video for this series.

Overall 4.75 out 5 to this wonderful book.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Book Review - THE MOST NOTORIOUS JAILBREAKERS: Untold Stories of Escaped Convicts by Abeer Kapoor

"THE MOST NOTORIOUS JAILBREAKERS: Untold Stories of Escaped Convicts" how can I say no to this title? I was so intrigued with the title, I took the book within a week of its delivery and finished it in 2-3 sittings. I read it around 6-7 weeks back and unfortunately, I forgot to write a review of the book. So I am trying my best to give you a full review (even though I read 3-4 more books in between)

THE MOST NOTORIOUS JAILBREAKERS: Untold Stories of Escaped Convicts by Abeer Kapoor

You may consider this book as a collection of non-fiction short stories. Each dedicated to one notorious jailbreaking. But storytelling is different, it is not mere documentation. Those who have seen the prison break series must have seen the level of planning required to escape from jail. You may think the Indian system is corrupted but most of these prisoners were famous enough to escape just by paying bribes. Each chapter describes how meticulous planning and patience helped them.

Well, those who wanted well-documented articles may find content shallow. But for those who are satisfied with a newspaper like stories or short articles will find the book very entertaining. The language used is simple to follow and easy for the 14+ age group. As the book is hardly 200 pages long and content divided into 16 chapters, the content demands a very very fast pace narration style. If you get bored or dislike any chapter you can easily skip it. You will find many interesting villian's name that you might have heard in movies, for example I thought Natvarlal was a fictitious character only. 

Overall I will give 3.5 out of 5.