Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Alex Haley's Queen - Alex Haley & David Stevens

The Story of an American Family

Once in every generation, there is a landmark book that adds a new richness to all our lives. 
For millions of people of all colors, that book was Alex Haley's Roots. Roots was an instant success, winning a Pulitzer Prize and spawning the most-watched miniseries in television history. 
Alex Haley's legacy has had as great an impact on American families as any story in the twentieth century.

Now, from the author of Roots, comes Alex Haley's Queen - the saga of his father's family.
Lovers of sweeping generational epics will find much to rejoice in here. Once again, this is a personal saga, but one played out against the broad canvas of American history. 
The story begins in Ireland, where Haley's white great-great-grandfather, James Jackson, Sr., is born. 
From there we travel with Jackson to Nashville, where he meets Andrew Jackson, the future president of the United States. 
The two men become business partners, and James Jackson makes his fortune. 
He establishes his grand plantation, The Forks of Cypress, in Alabama, while Andrew ascends to the White House, and the rumblings that will explode into the Civil War gather force.

James's son Jass Jackson inherits the plantation just as the genteel, well-ordered antebellum world begins to crumble. 
His adolescent attraction to the beautiful and strongwilled slave named Easter blossoms into a powerful and lasting love, and from their passionate union comes Queen - the heroine of the tale, Alex Haley's grandmother.

This is history at its most compelling - from the Irish sod to the settlement of the South; from the Trail of Tears to the battlefield at Manassas; from the agonies of slavery to the tribulations of freedom - all rendered with the eye for telling detail and the sense of historical significance that readers have come to expect of Haley. 
In this, his final book, Alex Haley has created a truly multicultural family saga, the capstone to one of the great, classic American stories.

The television miniseries of Alex Haley's Queen electrified and engrossed a nation. 
But that was only part of the picture; here now is the whole story, fleshed out in all its vivid detail and human drama - the journey of an American family as only Alex Haley could tell it.
[Book Description Source: Inside Book Jacket]

Goodreads Rating - 4.21 out of 5 (2543 Ratings ,104 Reviews -As on Dec 27 2017)
My Rating  3.5 out of 5
My Comments:
Very picturesque and dramatic description  about the lives of slaves and slave owners in southern states of America during 1800s. Though the book is titled Queen after the author Alex Haley's grandmother, I found  the story of his great grandfather and great-great grandfather the Jacksons more gripping and interesting.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

Fleeing from pirates, Robinson Crusoe is swept ashore in a storm, with only a knife, a box of tobacco, a pipe and the will to survive .
Robinson Crusoe is the saga of a man alone: a man who overcomes self-pity and despair to reconstruct his life. 
In his journal he chronicles his daily battle to stay alive, as he conquers isolation, fashions shelter and clothes, first encounters another human being and fights off cannibals and mutineers. 
With Robinson Crusoe, Defoe wrote what is regarded as the first English novel, and created one of the most popular and enduring myths in literature. 
But above all, it is a brilliant narrative, depicting Crusoe's transformation from a terrified survivor to the self-sufficient master of his island.
[Book Description Source: ]
Goodreads Rating - 3.66 out of 5 (202,379 Ratings ,4,836 Reviews -As on Dec 21 2017)
My Rating  3 out of 5
My Comments:
Written quite realistically , gives a feeling of true story which it is not
Interesting in some places. Long drawn out and plainly boring in other places. 
Though one should remember that this book was written almost 200 years ago in 1719 and has been quite popular since then. 
Can't judge it by present day standards.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Data Science for Business - Foster Provost & Tom Fawcett

What You Need to Know About Data Mining and Data-Analytic Thinking
Written by renowned data science experts Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett, Data Science for Business introduces the fundamental principles of data science, and walks you through the "data-analytic thinking" necessary for extracting useful knowledge and business value from the data you collect.
This guide also helps you understand the many data-mining techniques in use today.
Based on an MBA course Provost has taught at New York University over the past ten years, Data Science for Business provides examples of real-world business problems to illustrate these principles. 
You’ll not only learn how to improve communication between business stakeholders and data scientists, but also how participate intelligently in your company’s data science projects. 
You’ll also discover how to think data-analytically, and fully appreciate how data science methods can support business decision-making.
  • Understand how data science fits in your organization—and how you can use it for competitive advantage
  • Treat data as a business asset that requires careful investment if you’re to gain real value
  • Approach business problems data-analytically, using the data-mining process to gather good data in the most appropriate way
  • Learn general concepts for actually extracting knowledge from data
  • Apply data science principles when interviewing data science job candidates
[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 4.17 out of 5 ( 932 Ratings ,67 Reviews   - As on Dec 14 2017)
My Rating  4 out of 5
My Comments:
This book is an excellent Executive Guide on Data Science. Written in a fairly non-technical manner focusing more on business perspective rather than deep technicalities. Serves as a very good introduction to Data Science..

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sherlock Holmes FAQ by Dave Thompson

All That's Left to Know About the World's Greatest Private Detective 
The Sherlock Holmes FAQ is a one-stop guide to over a centurys worth of mystery, mayhem, and most of all, deduction. 
Digging deep inside the manifold worlds of Sherlock Holmes, the FAQ is a dramatic and detailed digest of the Baker Street sleuth in all of his many guises, as TV and radio star, movie phenomenon, and, of course, literary giant. 
Chapters investigate his predecessors and his successors, and discuss the influence that Holmes has had not only on other writers, but on real-life police procedures as well. 
The London that he perambulated in deerstalker and cloak is laid bare, plus the life and other fascinations of Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, are mapped out in all their foggy, darkened atmosphere. 
We meet giant hounds and fearful foes, common crooks and misdirected souls. 
Ghosts appear in these pages, and vampires, too and more puzzles, conundrums, and mysteries than any mortal detective could ever hope to solve. 
But Holmes, as we shall see, was no mere mortal. 
And Sherlock Holmes FAQ is the story of his immortality.

[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 3.46 out of 5 (28 Ratings , 7 Reviews  - As on Dec 6 2017)
My Rating  3 out of 5
My Comments:
Will be a great addition in the library of a Sherlock Holmes fan. Lots of interesting trivia. Beware of the spoilers though if you have not read any of the 56 short stories and 4 novels featuring Sherlock Holmes.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom

An Old Man, A Young Man And Life's Greatest Lesson
Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher. 
Someone older who understood you when you were young and searching, who helped you see the world as a more profound place, and gave you advice to help you make your way through it. 
For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. 
Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of your mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. 
Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you? 
Mitch Albom had that second chance. 
He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. 
Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. 
"Tuesdays With Morrie" is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift to the world

[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 4.07 out of 5 (599,360 Ratings ,19,728 Reviews  - As on Nov 22 2017)
My Rating  4 out of 5
My Comments:
Very moving and touching conversations between the author Mitch Albom and his dying professor Morrie Schwartz where the later shares his perspectives on the world, one's regrets, death, family,emotions, fear of aging, love, marriage, culture and forgiveness.
One of the best books I read this year.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne (Translator:Mendor T. Brunetti)

French naturalist Professor Aronnax joins a task force to rid the seas of a monster that is terrorizing shipping lanes. 
But the Professor's mission takes an unexpected turn when he falls overboard and is rescued by the 'monster' itself-the Nautilus, a man-made submarine built by the mysterious Captain Nemo. 
At first Aronnax is thrilled to see the unimaginable wonders of the oceans-the reef of coral that formed a cemetery, the ice floes of the South Pole, the huge oyster and its priceless pearl, the lost land of Atlantis-but soon he realizes that his host's motives may be more sinister than he realized. 
This triumphant work of the imagination shows the limitless possibilities of science and the dark depths of the human mind. 
 [Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 3.87 out of 5 ( 151864 Ratings; 4777 Reviews  - As on November 13 2017)
My Rating  3 out of 5
My Comments:
Fairly interesting. Dragging and stretched out at some places.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Introduction to Machine Learning with Python by Andreas C. Muller & Sarah Guido

Machine learning has become an integral part of many commercial applications and research projects, but this field is not exclusive to large companies with extensive research teams. 
 If you use Python, even as a beginner, this book will teach you practical ways to build your own machine learning solutions. 
With all the data available today, machine learning applications are limited only by your imagination.
You’ll learn the steps necessary to create a successful machine-learning application with Python and the scikit-learn library. 
Authors Andreas Müller and Sarah Guido focus on the practical aspects of using machine learning algorithms, rather than the math behind them. Familiarity with the NumPy and matplotlib libraries will help you get even more from this book.
With this book, you’ll learn:
  • Fundamental concepts and applications of machine learning
  • Advantages and shortcomings of widely used machine learning algorithms
  • How to represent data processed by machine learning, including which data aspects to focus on
  • Advanced methods for model evaluation and parameter tuning
  • The concept of pipelines for chaining models and encapsulating your workflow
  • Methods for working with text data, including text-specific processing techniques
  • Suggestions for improving your machine learning and data science skills
 [Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 4.55 out of 5 ( 11 Ratings; 0 Reviews  - As on October 30 2017)
My Rating  4 out of 5
My Comments:
A very good introduction to machine learning concepts. 
Systematic organization of the topics,  and  ample examples provided makes it a worthwhile read. 
Several important algorithms have been discussed along with their pros and cons with minimum use of advanced mathematics.  
Much much better book to start with Machine Learning as compared to the "Machine Learning for Dummies" book which was pedagogically horrible.
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Friday, October 27, 2017

Wonder by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Man has always wanted to know more about life. 
This intense quest has caused all the progress humanity has made day and yet there still remain many unanswered questions.
In this book Sri Sri takes questions while interacting with gatherings all over the world covering eclectic subjects - 
the mundane and the profound, the physical and the metaphysical, 
the personal and the universal, some philosophical and 
some even irrational, answering them this characteristic simplicity, playfulness and depth of wisdom

[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 3 out of 5 ( 1 Ratings; 0 Reviews  - As on October 27 2017)
My Rating  3 out of 5
My Comments:
A good compilation of answers by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to the questions put to him by his devotees. The answers are classified under following chapters - Ancient Wisdom, Dispassion, Divinity, Duality & Non-duality, Ego, Enlightenment, Faith and Devotion, Guru, Health, Karma, Love, Mind, Miscellaneous.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson

Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
The longest continuous footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail stretches along the East Coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine, through some of the most arresting and celebrated landscapes in America. 
At the age of forty-four, in the company of his friend Stephen Katz (last seen in the bestselling Neither Here nor There), Bill Bryson set off to hike through the vast tangled woods which have been frightening sensible people for three hundred years. 
Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and - perhaps most alarming of all - people whose favorite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack. 
Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime's ambition - not to die outdoors.

[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 4.05 out of 5 ( 269,057 Ratings; 14,591 Reviews  - As on October 20 2017)
My Rating  4 out of 5
My Comments:
An adventure travelogue written with a great sense of humor. Vivid characterization of people and picturesque description of the places on the renowned Appalachian Trail. A must read for every travel and  adventure buff.

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Machine Learning for Dummies - John Paul Mueller & Luca Massaron

Machine learning can be a mind-boggling concept for the masses, but those who are in the trenches of computer programming know just how invaluable it is. 
Without machine learning, fraud detection, web search results, real-time ads on web pages, credit scoring, automation, and email spam filtering wouldn't be possible, and this is only showcasing just a few of its capabilities.
 Written by two data science experts, Machine Learning For Dummies offers a much-needed entry point for anyone looking to use machine learning to accomplish practical tasks.
Covering the entry-level topics needed to get you familiar with the basic concepts of machine learning, this guide quickly helps you make sense of the programming languages and tools you need to turn machine learning-based tasks into a reality. 
Whether you're maddened by the math behind machine learning, apprehensive about AI, perplexed by preprocessing data—or anything in between—this guide makes it easier to understand and implement machine learning seamlessly.
  • Grasp how day-to-day activities are powered by machine learning
  • Learn to 'speak' certain languages, such as Python and R, to teach machines to perform pattern-oriented tasks and data analysis
  • Learn to code in R using R Studio
  • Find out how to code in Python using Anaconda
Dive into this complete beginner's guide so you are armed with all you need to know about machine learning!

[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 3.59 out of 5 ( 32 Ratings; 0 Reviews  - As on September 30 2017)
My Rating  2 out of 5
My Comments:
At the best this is a OK sort of reference book for people who already have a fair exposure to Machine Learning. 
Definitely not for dummies as the title of the book proclaims. 
The authors may be experts in this field but certainly don't know the ABCs of how to teach absolute beginners. 
The content is badly organized and jargons are thrown around with gay abandon all over the place thus overwhelming the newbies.
Most of the readers  who start reading this book to learn Machine Learning may give up soon and switch over to better books available in the market.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Animal Farm by George Orwell

'All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.' 
Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. 
The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. 
Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all those who walk on four legs. 
But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. 
And something new and unexpected emerges . . . 
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell-author of 1984, one of Britain's most popular novels-is a brilliant political satire and a powerful, affecting story of revolutions and idealism, power and corruption. 

[Book Description Source: ]

Goodreads Rating - 3.87 out of 5 ( 2,006,569 Ratings; 36,083 Reviews  - As on September 27 2017)
My Rating  4 out of 5
My Comments:
A hard hitting  political satire written in 1940s even today reflects the authentic picture of  political scenarios of many countries ! A must read.

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