Monday, February 19, 2018

Flood of Fire - Amitav Ghosh

It is 1839 and China has embargoed the trade of opium, yet too much is at stake in the lucrative business and the British Foreign Secretary has ordered the colonial government in India to assemble an expeditionary force for an attack to reinstate the trade. 
Among those consigned is Kesri Singh, a soldier in the army of the East India Company.
He makes his way eastward on the Hind, a transport ship that will carry him from Bengal to Hong Kong. 
Along the way, many characters from the Ibis Trilogy come aboard, including Zachary Reid, a young American speculator in opium futures, and Shireen, the widow of an opium merchant whose mysterious death in China has compelled her to seek out his lost son.  
The Hind docks in Hong Kong just as war breaks out and opium "pours into the market like monsoon flood." 
From Bombay to Calcutta, from naval engagements to the decks of a hospital ship, among embezzlement, profiteering, and espionage, Amitav Ghosh charts a breathless course through the culminating moment of the British opium trade and vexed colonial history. 
With all the verve of the first two novels in the trilogy, Flood of Fire completes Ghosh’s unprecedented re-envisioning of the nineteenth-century war on drugs. 
With remarkable historic vision and a vibrant cast of characters, Ghosh brings the Opium Wars to bear on the contemporary moment with the storytelling that has charmed readers around the world.
[Book Description Source: ]
Goodreads Rating - 4.1 out of 5 (3,345 Ratings, 465 Reviews -As on Feb 19 2018)
My Rating  3 out of 5
My Comments:
The concluding part of Ibis Trilogy is quite interesting but nothing exceptional. I found the first part of the trilogy - The Sea of Poppies the best among the three novels.
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Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Floating Admiral - The Detection Club

Inspector Rudge does not encounter many cases of murder in the sleepy seaside town of Whynmouth. 
But when an old sailor lands a rowing boat containing a fresh corpse with a stab wound to the chest, the Inspector's investigation immediately comes up against several obstacles. 
The vicar, whose boat the body was found in, is clearly withholding information, and the victim's niece has disappeared.
There is clearly more to this case than meets the eye even the identity of the victim is called into doubt. 
Inspector Rudge begins to wonder just how many people have contributed to this extraordinary crime and whether he will ever unravel it

In 1931, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and ten other crime writers from the newly-formed Detection Club’ collaborated in publishing a unique crime novel. 
In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G.K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends.
In addition, each of the authors provided their own solution in a sealed envelope, all of which appeared at the end of the book, with Agatha Christie’s ingenious conclusion acknowledged at the time to be enough to make the book worth buying on its own’.
The authors of this novel are: G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley.
[Book Description Source: ]
Goodreads Rating - 3.86 out of 5 (3,765 Ratings ,184 Reviews -As on Feb 03 2018)
My Rating  3 out of 5
My Comments:
They say too many cooks spoil the broth. 
This however is not the case here. But at the same time the book can't be compared to a gourmet dish, despite legends of detective fiction writing like Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton and many more writers collaborating to write this book.
You may read it for its uniqueness of being the first collaborative novel by the greatest crime writers but don't have any great expectations..

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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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