Sunday, June 19, 2016

Urban Shots: Bright Lights - Paritosh Uttam (Editor)

Urban Shots: Bright Lights is a collection of stories written by various Indian bloggers and writers like Ahmed Faiyaz, R. Chandrasekar, and Malathi Jaikumar. 
The collection contains a total of 29 stories contributed by 21 authors. 
It has been edited by Paritosh Uttam, a popular writer himself. 
The stories  at once delightful, intense and disturbing, each narrated with an honesty of voice that peels off the layers of contemporary India to reveal colorful and thought-provoking glimpses of the intriguing labyrinth that forms urban India.
The highlights of the stories are the myriad interesting characters that they present - young, old, happy, talkative, infatuated, insecure, secretive, rebellious, and submissive. 
A seven-year-old girl who wishes to get married, a ten-year-old one stalked by painful memories of her mother’s death, a gabby filmmaker-turned-cab-driver, a nosy neighborhood lady, an unsuccessful salesman, a besotted 27-year-old, an ill-tempered retiree, a submissive wife who has suffered enough, a struggling artist, a grumpy literature-loving teacher - the collection features numerous characters, the likes of which readers are sure to have encountered in their own lives at some point of time.
For example in the humorous 'Maami Menace', Sathyavati racks her brains to escape an overbearing elderly lady; the charming 'Good Morning Nikhil' follows a baby's antics around the house; and in the curiously touching 'Hot Masala', Mr Kamath hatches a wicked plan to show his family better days. 
Through narratives that are happy, sad, dreamy, bitter, funny, and magical, the stories cover the entire spectrum of human emotions. From romance to suspense and from drama to comedy, the collection offers a little bit of everything that makes contemporary urban India the colorful complexity that it is.
Filled with compassion, wisdom and gentle humour, the stories in this anthology are as much about urban India as they are about the flawed people who inhabit it.
[Book Description Source:  and] 
Goodreads Rating - 3.19 out of 5 (58 Ratings; 6 Reviews)
My Rating 3 out of 5
My Comments: By and large a decent collection of short stories especially considering the fact that most of them are penned by part-time or first-time authors. Quite a realistic depiction of urban Indian life in these stories. 
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Man Who Knew Infinity - Robert Kanigel

A Life of the Genius Ramanujan 
In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the preeminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. 
Realizing the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England. 
Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled. 
With a passion for rich and evocative detail, Robert Kanigel takes us from the temples and slums of Madras to the courts and chapels of Cambridge University, where the devout Hindu Ramanujan, 'the Prince of Intuition,' tested his brilliant theories alongside the sophisticated and eccentric Hardy, 'the Apostle of Proof.' 
In time, Ramanujan's creative intensity took its toll: he died at the age of thirty-two and left behind a magical and inspired legacy that is still being plumbed for its secrets today.
[Book Description Source: ] 

Goodreads Rating - 4.15 out of 5 (3,410 Ratings; 204 Reviews)
My Rating 4 out of 5
My Comments: A very well researched biography that brings out the personality of both Ramanujan and Hardy very vividly. Readers not exposed to college level mathematics may find some parts tedious.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

The Chase - Clive Cussler

In The Chase Clive Cussler introduces a historical hero- Isaac Bell.
1950: the rusting hulk of a steam locomotive is raised from the depths of a Montana lake.
Inside are three bodies, bloody clue to a fortune lost for over forty years . . .
1906: For two years banks across the western United States have been living in terror of the 'Butcher Bandit'. 
This cold-blooded bank robber empties safes and murders all witnesses, vanishing without trace. 
In desperation, the US Government calls in Isaac Bell, the best detective in the country. 
From Arizona to Colorado to the streets of San Francisco during the great quake, Bell uses all his guile and ingenuity to catch up with the murderous Bandit.
But when Bell has him almost cornered - the Bandit turns really nasty. 
And suddenly the stakes have changed. 
Bell isn't just battling to get his man. 
He's fighting for his very survival . . .
Bestseller Clive Cussler - author of the Dirk Pitt novels Arctic Drift and Crescent Dawn - sends hero Isaac Bell to solve a mysterious series of bank-robberies and murders in the first novel of historical thriller series The Isaac Bell Adventures.  
The Chase is followed by The Wrecker and The Spy.
[Book Description Source: ] 

Goodreads Rating - 3.9 out of 5 (10,744 Ratings; 796 Reviews)
My Rating 4 out of 5
My Comments: A fast paced thriller ideal for light reading. Captures the wild west scenario of early 1900s very well. 

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Buddha and Dr Fuhrer by Charles Allen

An Archaeological Scandal
This true account of the scandal that enveloped the discovery in 1898 of an inscribed casket said to contain the ashes of the Buddha, is set against the background of the high noon of the British Raj. 
In January 1898 a British landowner, William Claxton Peppé, excavated a large Buddhist brick stupa on his estate close to India’s border with Nepal.
 At a depth of 24 feet he uncovered a huge stone coffer containing a number of reliquary vases together with jewels and gold offerings. 
This discovery was followed by the opening of the Piprahwa stupa near the birthplace of the Buddha, Lumbini, and the legendary city of Kapilavastu where he had grown into manhood as Prince Siddhartha. 
But more importantly, an inscription had been discovered on top of one of the caskets, declaring it to contain the ashes of the Buddha left there by members of his own Sakya clan. 
This news aroused world-wide interest since no other so well authenticated relics of the Buddha had ever been found. 
But almost immediately it became known that a German archaeologist, Dr Anton Führer, working nearby at the same time had not only made bogus claims and faked his results but had also been associated with the dig.  
Führer was quickly unmasked by a British magistrate who himself had a stake in the excavation. 
Renowned India expert Charles Allen tells this fascinating story, weaving in the results of a conference held at Harewood House in June 2006 on the Piprahwa dig with those of recent carbon dating.

[Book Description Source:, ] 

Goodreads Rating - 3.78 out of 5 (9 Ratings, 2 Reviews)
My Rating 3 out of 5 
My Comments: Interesting read for archaeology enthusiasts

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