Monday, October 29, 2012

False Impression

[Author: Jeffrey Archer Publisher:Pan Books , Paperback:  464 pages ]

Read a book by Jeffrey Archer after a long long time. Can't remember when I read him last.

Fenston is an an unscrupulous New York based investment banker whose strategy is to  drive his debtors to bankruptcy and also get them killed if it serves his end.
Fenston who is also an art collector is desperate to acquire one of Van Gogh's highly valued painting - Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear from his debtor Lady Victoria Wentworth after getting her killed. How his former employee Anna Petrescu  and the FBI agent Jack Delaney foil his plans is what the story is all about.
Though not one of Jeffrey Archer's best books (I liked his Kane and Abel the best), still it is a fast moving page turner and keeps you interested throughout.



I appreciate Western Art, so I have compiled the following list of Paintings mentioned in this book. I will be providing links to their images one of these days.
  • Turner -  Sunset Over Plymouth
  • Van Gogh - Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, Geishas in a Landscape, Sunflowers, The Red Vineyard, Reapers in the Field
  • Degas-  Dancing Class with Mme Minette, Dancer before a Mirror, The Dancing Instructor
  • Warhol- Black Marilyn, Shot Read Marilyn
  • Michelangelo- Study of a Mourning Woman
  • Romney-Mrs Siddons as Portia
  • Stubbs-Actaeon Winner of the Derby
  • Picasso - Guernica
  • Monet - Willows at Vetheuil
  • Renoir - Madame Duprez and her Children (The Reading Lesson),
  • Manet - Dinner at the Cafe Guerbois
  • Rembrandt - The Polish Rider, The Beresteyn Family, Titus - The Artist's Son
  • Raphael - The Madonna of the Pinks
  • Munch- The Scream
  • Matisse - View from the Bedroom
  • Caillebotte - Street Sweepers
  • Carvaggio -The Marriage at Cana
  • Tintretto-  Perseus and Andromeda

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Map

[Author: T.S. Learner, Published:  2012, Publisher:Sphere , Paperback:  608 pages ]

August Winthrop has come into possession of an ancient Jewish scroll and has been tasked with a mission to return it to the descendants of its author.  August who had been an Oxford Classic scholar becomes fascinated by the mysterious Kabbalistic writings in the scroll which provides clues about the whereabouts of a great treasure - a great mystical gift that could change the future of mankind itself. He is relentlessly pursued by spies and secret agents who want to lay their hands on the scroll and acquire the treasure. The book is all about how August gets to solve the puzzle of the great treasure.
The book's plot had all the potential of turning out to be a great thriller and mystery novel. Narration is fast moving and fairly interesting too.
Unfortunately the desultory writing style with too many loose ends and no clear-cut description of the clues in the scroll (ala Dan Brown's da Vinci code) does not allow the book to rise beyond an average thriller.  Sort of an OK read.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Newton and his Falling Apple

Author:         Kjartan Poskitt
Illustrator:     Philip Reeve 
Published    2011
Publisher:    Scholastic
Paperback:  192  pages

Any school student would have definitely come across - Newton's Laws of Motion, Newton's Law of Gravity, Newton's Law of Cooling, Newton Rings and so on.
But how many of us know the man - Newton - behind these laws that have given sleepless nights to so many students  while they prepared for the exams. How they  wish that Newton was never born !
This  little book meant primarily meant for students (that includes me too an eternal student , though I am over ....well never mind!) is a delightful humorous, illustrated biography of Newton. I came to know many facts about Newton which I was not aware of.
Want to know more about this book ? Well get hold of a copy  and read it. Too good to be missed !
4 out of 5 !


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Understand Psychology

Author:        Nicky Hayes
Published    2010
Publisher:    Hodder Education
Paperback:  480 pages

For effective interactions with  people we meet in our day-to-day life understanding their psychology is very essential.
This well-written, easy to understand and systematically structured book serves as a great introduction to the subject of psychology.
I particularly liked the sections  Insight and 10 Things to Remember found in each chapter.
See below for the chapter wise summary of contents.
Though it seems slightly dated (psychological aspects of internet, websites, net surfing  not being covered ) it is surely the first book anyone should read on this subject.
I rate it  4 out of 5 !


Summary of  Contents
Chapter 1 - Introducing psychology : Understanding the mind,levels of explanation,areas of psychology.
Chapter 2 - Self and others: The first relationships,the self-concept,cultural and social influences.
Chapter 3 -Understanding other people: Co-operation , compliance and obedience,social representations.
Chapter 4 - Emotional living: Emotions, negative emotions, stress and coping,positive psychology.
Chapter 5 - Consciousness and the brain:  Biological rhythms, drugs and consciousness, sleep and dreaming
Chapter 6 - Motivation: Physical motives, behavioural motives,cognitive motives,social motivation
Chapter 7 - Cognition: Thinking, perception, memory
Chapter 8 - Evolution, genetics and learning: Evolution, genetic mechanisms,levels of learning
Chapter 9 - Learning and intelligence: Forms of learning, social learning,intelligence
Chapter 10 - Childhood and adolescence: Childhood,adolescence
Chapter 11- Adulthood, retirement and ageing: Adulthood, retirement, ageing
Chapter 12 - Working life: Why do people work, human resource management,organizational culture
Chapter 13 - Leisure: Watching television, computer games,sport psychology
Chapter 14 - Education and health: The psychology of teaching and learning.counselling and therapy, health psychology
Chapter 15 - Living in the world: Proxemics and privacy, sources of environmental stress, disasters and accidents
Chapter 16 - Developing psychological understanding: What do psychologists do,developing psychological knowledge, conducting psychological research

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sea of Poppies

Author:        Amitav Ghosh
Published   2008
Publisher:    Penguin India
Paperback: 528 pages. 
This fascinating historical fiction takes you back 175 years ago around the time when the British East India company transported  Indians in ships from India  to Mauritius to serve as a laborers (coolies as they were called) in their plantations.
Ibis is one such ship where we have a motley crowd consisting of a  - widowed village woman, a bankrupt Raja now a prisoner framed for forgery, a half-white American, a Bengali Babu, a French orphan girl  among  others, all heading towards  their destiny in the distant Mauritius, either by choice or due to compulsions.
This book forms the first part of the Ibis trilogy and almost four-fifths of the book describes the circumstances in which these people landed up on Ibis.
Even though there are too many characters, each one of them is vividly and realistically portrayed. We are able to empathize with them though there are shades of grey in their characters.
There are several humorous narrations too especially revolving around Babu Nob Kissen who somehow has got into his head that the American Zachary is reincarnation of Lord Krishna.
The only drawback according to me in this book is that it ends rather abruptly in the middle of Ibis's voyage at a very interesting turn of events. However that leaves the readers something to look forward to in its sequel "River of Smoke".
Sea of Poppies is a well researched book which is based on the writings of many 19th century scholars, dictionarists, linguists and chroniclers. It runs through over 500 pages in small print,
yet it is a fairly fast read without compromising on literary merit anywhere. After all the author Amitav Ghosh has earned a doctorate from Oxford.
This book was also shortlisted for  the Man Booker Prize 2008.
An engrossing read right from the page one till the end !

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