Monday, June 30, 2014

Hair Yoga by Jawed Habib (Book Review-3.5*/5)!!!

         In India, revolution in many sectors have taken place in last two decades. Sanjeev Kapoor did it with cooking, Shiamak Dawar did it with dancing, Raju Shrivastava did it with comedy, Chetan Bhagat did it with writing and similarly, there is one man who needs no introduction- "Jawed Habib" who changed hair-styling in India with his revolutionary Xpreso- the 99-rupee haircut. He runs the most popular salon chains in India and institutes that develop great hairstylists. His company has 333 outlets and 47 academies in India. Can you believe what a single man has done on his level to introduce new ways of protecting hairs and maintaining them for lifetime? He has recently come out with his book- Hair Yoga. It's tag says,"caring for your hair the right way". The foreword and cartoons are done by Sudhir Tailang. 

            Hair Yoga is as important as having Sanjeev Kapoor's recipes book at your home. These days, every second person is found weeping over his falling hairs, baldness or dandruff. With this book, Jawed Habib have made sure that you do not need to ask any random person to help you with your hair. He starts with helping you find what type of hair you have. Once that is clarified, he helps you with what kind of oil should be preferred by you. Then he tells which shampoo suits you well. With all this, he also tells what kind of comb has to be used by you and what's the role of conditioner and dye in your life when you are done shampooing. 

           There are many myths that he has busted in each chapter which is a big eye-opener for naive people like us who end up treating our hair any way we are told by the previous generation or friends. In the end, Jawed has shared how to treat our hair according to different climates, problems and situations. That's when I felt that the book has finally got complete. In last few pages, he tells how to take care of an infant or school kid's hair as they get affected with lice very easily. Jawed Habib has left no stone unturned with his first book "Hair Yoga". I would love to see him writing more and more about this to assure that people do not get influenced by wrong people anymore. I give this book 3.5/5.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Introduction to Business Communication by Uma Bhushan (Book Review-3.5*/5)!!!

         Uma Bhushan's "Introduction to Business Communication" is just more than it's name. I referred it for my exam of Soft Skills and I was surprised to see the amount of topic it delivered. This book can be easily referred by anyone pursuing a Master's course and has to go through Business Communication topics. This book has all of it. Uma Bhushan has not disappointed with her first non-fiction and academic attempt. She is a faculty at K. J. Somaiyya Institute of Management Studies & Research. She has been teaching course since 2004. 

            The great thing about this book is that it provides insights into aspects of communication from Indian point of view. This book contains all the essential topics in Oral and Written communication. It also gives several examples and exercises so that you can adopt what is been tried to teach. The chapters also covers up-to-date topics like media and crisis communication, cross cultural communication etc. These topics are explained with analyses and case studies which makes it possible to implement it practically. 

          A wide discussion is been done on Communication in organizations by explaining methods, goals, barriers, patterns, Seven C's, Ethics and Persuasion. Another great chapter is Group Communication where conflict management, negotiation, meeting and problem solving is discussed. Oral Communication could have been portrayed differently but it's kept too short to be understood nicely. The way Written Communication is mentioned in this book, I haven't found it in any book. Too practical and vivid. The information documents and analytical documents are explained in two different units which makes it easy to differentiate between the two. But again, letter-writing is explained very quickly which is one important part of Written Communication. I give this book 3.5 out of 5.



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Effective Communication and Public Speaking by S. K. Mandal (Book Review-3.5*/5)!!!

      I had my exams last month and I was picking many books that were related to Communication and Soft Skills. As my trust with Jaico Publication is enough, I ended up picking "Effective Communication and Public Speaking" written by an Indian author, S. K. Mandal, even when this book wasn't listed in reference. And now when I am done reading and referring it completely, I am also done giving exam, I can tell you, it has been a surprisingly good book on communications. With the help of this book, I was able to write examples in my answer paper. Written in an Indian style, this book is an example that Indian writers can also write good academics book. But well, this one implies only for Indian audience as it's written in a damn easy language.

          Book is divided into three parts. Part A comprising of Effective Communication. It teaches us about the importance and significance of Communication. Author has given nice tips and examples to make our communication effective. In the end, he has also added "Do It Yourself Exercise" that can be a great practical way to enhance our skills. 

           Part B consists of Public speaking. The art of public speaking is discussed widely along with discussing the importance of language and proficiency needed for it. Topics and techniques for Group Discussion and Seminars is also covered widely with lots of tips and suggestions from the author. 

            Part C discusses tole of communication and public speaking in personal effectiveness. Here author tries to tell you what you gain by sharpening your communication skills and how you can benefit from it.

           This book is written keeping graduation students in mind and hence it does not cover many other points that the subject consists. But whatever topics are discussed, they are widely covered and makes you feel better once you are done reading them. Author has used very easy English so that people with elementary knowledge of the language can also understand the book. This book is a wonderful publication by Jaico and it needs to be read. Specially recommended for students in Management studies.



Write with Confidence by Angela Burt (Book Review-3*/5)!!!

       Angela Burt, an English teacher and examiner and now runs a proofreading company, has come out with her book in 2004 itself with the title "Write with confidence". The 190-pages non-fiction book is published by Jaico, a house that believes in publishing more valuable stuffs than pop fiction. Angela Burt, with this book, has helped reader in understanding how to cope with everyday letters, application forms, sick notes, invitations and replies, classified ads, minutes and more. The best thing about the book is it's professional approach in teaching you write letters that completely lacked in Margaret McCarthy's book on letter writing. 

            Letters discussed in this book are about day-to-day problems that we face and wish to write it to someone and get out the solution. This book helps with letter writing on such topics that seems to be petty but are as important as writing CV. The book is written in clear and concise language. Author communicates well with her readers every now and then while explaining them something that's important while writing a letter. The explanations given by her are straight-forward. You might get offended sometimes for your poor English. :-) But she makes sure that you do not repeat the same mistake again.

          She explains, in this book, how to prepare postcards, write personal letter in proper layouts, write Business letters, job applications, formal invitations and replies and prepare a CV. She also discusses how to write advertisements and announcements which I found something unique in this book. The greatest satisfaction has been minutes, agendas, and meetings discussed in the Part 5th. That's something much needed for the management students like me. 

          The best part about the book is its Part 6 which helps you knowing what common punctuation mistakes we do and what should be avoided when we write letters next time. Part 7 teaches how spelling mistakes are been done time and again. Part 8 covers 10 words that are often confused by writers but changes the whole meaning of the sentence. In the end, author has also suggested useful spellings and some useful words that can be used whenever we write a letter to someone. This book is wonderful if you have to write lots of letter in your business and professional world. 



Monday, June 23, 2014

Letter Writing Made Simple by Margaret McCarthy (Book Review-2.5*/5)!!!

    If you thought writing letter is very hard, here comes Margaret McCarthy's book that shares with you almost 200 sample letter for business and personal use. The book is titled "Letter Writing Made Simple" and it's published by the prominent, Jaico Publishers. More than the business letters, I loved the way Margaret has written personal letters on various issues. I, being someone who sends only business-related letters, found how different it is to write personal letters. It is totally a different thing. Every letter showcased by Margaret shows how it can be made more effective by using easy yet eye-catching sentences. 
            Margaret assures that with the reference of this book, you can write letters even for the rare topics such as apologizing a friend, complaining about a rude salesperson, expressing your feelings about a loved one's illness and even if you have to thank a co-worker for assisting you. The great part about her letters is that you can modify it according to your convenience. 

            She also teaches you about formatting, styling, toning and various forms of addressing while writing the letters. She has given many ready-to-use kinds of letters that can be really helpful for you in urgency. She has categorized her book in different parts which comprises of kind of purpose for which you wish to write a letter for- Apologies, Condolences and sad occasions, Encouragement, Congratulations, Special occasions, Thank-you notes, Relationships and Neighbours. These are personal letters. In the Business section, she has topics like Education, career, housing, banking, community and law, press and media, products, services and travelling-related. If you will see the topics that she has covered in each of these types, you will be surprised. 

            The drawback of the book is:- Author has given this book a very casual approach. She could have made it look professional that could have given it little more credibility. Also, the format of letters isn't appropriate at most of the times. She has just concentrated on what has to be written as content in the letter rather than giving shape to the letter to make it look attractive. Every letter looks as if an email has been written to someone and not a real letter. Rest, it's a good book that has to be with you. 



An Interview with Deepak Kripal, author of The Devil's Gate!!!

I had a wonderful moment interviewing Deepak Kripal, a Blogger-turned-writer with his recent book- The Devil's Gate which is been acclaimed for being unique and different. Let's see what he has to say about his wonderful entry into the field of Indian Literature. 

1. How does it feel to be an author now, Mr. Deepak, considering that very few get an opportunity to get published these days?
What do I say! It feels special! It’s like a dream come true. I don’t think I can put this ‘surreal’ feeling into words. There are some things words find hard to define, and even harder to express. Let us say it is one of those things!

2. What is your new novel- The Devil’s Gate about?
This story is born of a very unique idea. The idea is what happens if some day, animals decide that since humans are not going to listen to us, and why don’t we try and negotiate a deal with the demons to let us co-habit with them. The idea was not only unique and thrilling but also had an air of desperation and sarcasm to it. And this is the very basis of this story, and the starting point of this story. Many things build over that, and there is a lot of mystery involved. Let me be very precise that it is not a horror story. It’s a fantasy/mystery/adventure/thriller. And idea is not only to entertain, engage and thrill but also to inculcate some wisdom without getting into the preaching mode. You have to read the book to know the rest.

3. How hard was it to base your characters on animals? How did you get confidence that such idea would work with Indian readers?
It wasn’t hard at all, since I humanized the characters so that every reader could relate and identify with them. I didn’t think about things like whether the idea would work or not. I wasn’t even sure if anyone would publish such an unusual story. I just knew within me that I have a really unique and interesting story to tell, and I saw no reason why I shouldn’t pen it down. It was totally an emotional decision based on my love for good stories.

4. We have heard that you have been a Blogger before being an author. What experiences of blogging did you put in this book? 
I largely learnt the trade of writing (I am still learning) through my experience of blogging. Simultaneously, I also gained the much needed confidence in my own writing. I’ll be forever indebted to my blog readers and fellow bloggers for encouraging me to step up and go to the next level.

5. Are you writing a fresh story as your next or sequel of The Devil’s Gate is on the cards? 
I have 3 or 4 ideas in my mind at the moment. I have still not finalized what I am going to take up next. So you’ll have to wait a bit to know about that. Regarding the sequel also, there is nothing finalized. If significant number of readers craves for the sequel, they might just have their say!

6. Readers have found The Devil’s Gate a textual version of 3D animation movie. Are you trying to contact film-makers to adapt it into a movie? We are sure kids are going to enjoy it more than anyone else.
I would love that. I am sure kids will love it. But I don’t really know how to contact the film-makers. If you have any idea how to do that, or you have their contact numbers, I am all ears!

7. In future, are we going to see you write a Love story, campus story or a story based on humans(Haha!) or we are going to see you trying such different genres only? 
I have no problem with humans, being one myself! I won’t write a love story or campus story just for the heck of it. Only criteria for me, is that the idea should be exciting, and should have the potential to carve out an engaging story around it. Once that happens, I don’t care what the genre is, or whether the story is based in a campus or in hell!

8. In the end, tell us in 5-7 lines, what speech will you give if you win a Major Award for the Best Indian Author for your books?
I will say just three words before bursting into tears – I AM SPEECHLESS!

It Had To Be You by Anuj Tiwari (Book Review-2.75*/5)!!!

            So it takes me 4 hours to read "It had to be you" written by Anuj Tiwari. The 198-pages novel is a sequel to the first book- "Journey of Two Hearts". Anuj Tiwari has released his second book with Rupa while his first was a National bestseller with Srishti Publication. Anuj has taken his own time to come up with this short sequel and hence my expectations with this book were quite high. Considering that, I have found improvement in his narration which I pinpointed in my review for his first book. It seems as if author has been writing this tale to entertain audience rather than making them feel a part of this book. He made it sure that the book can be taken with you on a train journey as it does not pressurize you to concentrate on intense parts; because they are not intensely written.

         The extremely beautiful and perfect cover page for a love story could have become epic if it would have been treated with little more twists. Author has tried to keep it too simple to even excite you at few points where you wished you celebrated or emoted yourself well. Short chapters make this book a smooth ride for the readers. All the characters that are mentioned are been treated well till the end. The equation of the protagonist with Rahim Chacha is the best part about this book. I wish if author writes a completely new book mentioning Rahim Chacha's life and philosophy. 

           Poetry and songs should be added in the story if it gives speed. Here, it stops the flow and makes you applaud poetry before moving ahead and finding a totally new scene thereafter. Also, author should have tried to avoid using Hindi as much as possible. Remove quotes in Hindi and poems in English, this book could have been completed in just 160 pages. Making it more easier for the readers; if that was the target. 
         The first half of the book is well-treated. Considering it to be a sequel, Anuj has assured that you need not read his first to understand this. You can directly start with this. He has given a totally new outlook to a romantic book in the 1st half by not using depression as his key to get into readers' heart. He has kept an attitude of exploration while discussing the protagonist's life who has just come out of hospital after 6 months of admission for being depressed. But when you find that he meets the fate that he has been praying for, you are disappointed as the words does not create the magic you had expected from it. 

            The biggest drawback of this book has been the author's attempt to keep it as easy as possible. He has basically targeted the audience who have just started reading books. If he could have made this book thicker by 70-80 pages more, he could have done great justice with characters, story and the amount of twists and tales it needs. Also author talks about different topics like Mumbai, parents, Ganapati festival, IT industry, girls, sex which looks more like small pieces of article joined together to fill the book as story does not have much to give to its audience. I wish next time when Anuj Tiwari writes, he focuses on plot which has many sub-plots into it. And stop making it easy for the readers. You are losing your case because of it. I give this book 2.75/5. 



Sunday, June 22, 2014

When Only Love Remains by Durjoy Datta (Book Review- 2*/5)!!!

        Durjoy Datta's 10th book gets released on 20th June, 2014. I pre-ordered it on Flipkart and they delivered it to me before noon on its release day. Impressive! Durjoy Datta has been one author who is quite famous among girls, specially. Youth looks forward to his books because he has kept giving them hope that they'll find themselves having sex with the hottest girl of their college. But from last 2-3 books, Durjoy have totally refrained himself from writing sex. And since then, I have started finding his writing more creative and wondrous. His latest book "When Only Love Remains" comes after a very long time since his 9th release with a very elegant and peaceful cover page. Expectations has been rising since then. And now when I have kept the book aside after completing it, I am quite disappointed. 

           You must have heard books getting adapted into movies but this time, it's the other way around. "When Only Love Remains" is nothing but the scripted version of "Aashiqui 2". Yes. Believe me. Indian authors start their career from writing cheesy love stories to sexual flavors and then some sensible stories based on characterization of every protagonist. Durjoy Datta seems to be walking the road from the other end. He started with stories based on sex, then moved towards characterization and now, he is writing books that are "Aashiqui 2" of literature. 
   Book starts off well showing us the extreme passion Avanti has towards this singer who is a bit famous on Facebook and Youtube- Devrat. In the alternative chapters, author discusses Devrat's life which is how we portray singers and writers usually- depressive, lonely, drug-addicts and aggressive. Like Aashiqui-2, the singer Devrat also has a friend-cum-secretary, Sumit, who tries to bring him back to life while Devrat is not serious about his singing assignments. First half keeps discussing how Avanti dreams to meet him one day and go mad but finally, when it happens, it is so underwhelming that you are disappointed at the moment itself. Still you continue with the hope that there would be a great love story ahead. But alas! 

         The whole second half is based in hospital and there's not much after this. It's all about hopes, cries, prayers, wishes etc. Author tries hard to add excitement and life even in the second half by introducing characters but he couldn't do much with the plot that has no scope to entertain its readers. Similar stories have been published not once but infinite times. It's okay that author tries to display emotions of both the characters with each sentence that he writes but unfortunately, that does not increase the pace of the story. This plot is good for short story of 4000-5000 words but for a novel of 278 pages... A BIG NO!

         Last few pages are what I was expecting from the whole book but that was the least I could have complained after getting what I needed throughout. That letter by Devrat is something that will make you cry. The scene when Devrat's thumb moves is another scene that will excite you. Because this is the only twist in the whole book. Also the scene when Avanti injects Devrat is an epic paragraph. The last 5-6 pages finally proves why this book is a copy of Aashiqui 2. But the only best thing about this book is that it ends up making its reader smile againt the way it kept trying right from second half to make them weep yet again and again. I will give this book 2/5. Because it is the same old story repeated again, this time by the author who we wait for. 



Friday, June 20, 2014

Manhattan Mango by Madhuri Iyer (Book Review-4.5*/5)!!!

           Last time I heard "Manhattan" was in a song in which Sridevi mind-blew everyone by playing a middle-class woman. The film was English Vinglish. What would you make out of a book at a bookstore that has the title "Manhattan Mango" along with the reviews of Sonam Kapoor, Rohit Roy, Shashanka Ghosh and Sharman Joshi? You will expect a complete Bollywood riot in the book and I must tell you all, it's exactly what you would expect out of it. Not predictable but every page meets your expectation of seeing this grow better page-by-page. If you ask me to describe this book by comparing it with a movie of its type- I would suggest "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani". That has been one of my favorites and this book too, played a big part in my boring life that needed an inspiration to make it interesting.

           The 274-pages book is written by Madhuri Iyer and published by one of the promising publishers these days, Finger Prints. None of their book have still disappointed me. 100% delivery. Iyer has used a very fine language to take her story on the way of entertainment and complete delight. Her narration is so powerful that anyone reading this book might not leave the place until the last page is turned. When a book cross 250 pages, I am sure that it would have been dragged in the middle or in pre-climax or might have become boring in some chapters but here, the perfect editing and insight to the story has been maintained throughout which keeps you hooked.

            Shri, Shanks and Neel, the Ganpat Gang, who are residing in Manhattan now, does not cry of leaving their nation behind but they are keen to keep their lives moving by meeting each other weekly and sharing every details with each other. Later on Shefali enters the scene. Then comes Vivian, Layla, Ryan, Paolo, Mrs Revathi, Tathi Ma, Natasha and Shri's parents. Author has added each character at the point when you wanted something new to come and even after so many characters been discussed simultaneously, you don't get jumbled between them. That's how perfect characterization has been done for every character; and every character is protagonist in this book. 

             A great justice has been done to the characters of Neel and then Shefali. Right from the beginning, you will connect with them and various emotions that they display at different stages in their life. The way Shri's truth gets accepted in the Gang is another delighting moment in the book. The scene when it all changes for Neel, Layla and Shefali at a trip is fantastically written. The cuteness and stability shown in Shank and Vivian's relationship is another sweet thing about this book. Ryan and Natasha, as supporting characters, also plays their part well with great support to their respective partners. 

            Coming to the few drawbacks:- Instances like Shefali joining 3 male bachelors, Ryan agreeing to Shefali's deal, Natasha (a doctor) agreeing to visit male patient's home and Layla causing so much effect over Neel are few things that you'll have to believe even when you don't want to. Too superficial. When you are told that the name of the group is Ganpat Gang, you expect some raunchiness from the 3 male characters but what you get is serious traumas and romantic ups-and-downs. Neel and Shefali totally cutting down even dialogues between then even before the half of the book is completed is a let down once you realize that book is about to finish soon. Climax is too obvious to enjoy. It could have been done with little more craziness. Otherwise, this book deserves to be in your favorite shelf. I give it 4.5 out of 5. Yes! Recommended!



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Devil's Gate by Deepak Kripal (Book Review- 3.5*/5)!!!

      A fiction thriller is always an interesting read and it become more catchy if it has fantasy as its flavour. Deepak Kripal who has written his first full-fledged novel- "The Devil's Gate" also adding a tagline to it "An Impossible Journey" does wonderfully well in narrating a story that is full of fantasies, fictionalized characters and page-turning twists and turns. Book starts quite slowly and with a very boring conversation between Katy( a cat) and Dug(a dog). But as the secrets start getting revealed and disclosed, the story starts taking upon you. Considering the kind of book every debut author in India is trying these days, Deepak Kripal has come up with something very new and interesting. For this effort and newness itself, he gets a star from me. 

           While reading the book, you will feel as if you are watching an animated movie with your 3D glasses on. This book has every potential to be made into such a movie that can be good visually and with a perfect plot that could also interest adults in watching it too. The language used by Deepak Kripal touches that toughness for which you will have to refer dictionary more than usual which is sort of disadvantage but still he has strong hold on his narrating skills because of the power of language that he possesses. His imagination is lucid and larger-than-world which makes his book look as if you are holding an extra-ordinary theoretical version in your hand. The twists and turns that keeps coming every now and then keeps the book's essence and presence felt.
     I was surprised to find the perfectly described characterization of the animals. It's not easy to portray animal's nature and attitude but the author does it easily here. Out of all the parts, I loved the one where all the three friends gets stuck on a bridge while they know that ghosts-sort-of-creatures are sleeping below the bridge under water. That is one action-packed scene. I also adored all the philosophical lessons being given by Billy in form of her father's words. The book won another 1 star from me for those philosophical descriptions. There are many unnatural scenes in the book that shall make you believe in Deepak Kripal's version of fantasy world.

            There are certain drawbacks too; first one being a very bad designing of the cover page which will affect in the sale of the book. It could have been brighter, solid and attractive. Instead its bore and dull. Hope the 2nd edition sees the change. The action scenes against devils and monster becomes repetitive after a point of time and you wish to reach the end as soon as possible. Also the book is stretched by 40-50 pages. It could have been easily finished in 200-210 pages. The over-description irritates you sometimes. Also, I felt that climax little underwhelming, but by a very short margin. Else, this book has something new in it and it can definitely be read once. I give it 3.5 out of 5. 



Monday, June 16, 2014

Rules of the Game by Sumit D Chowdhury (Book Review-4.5/5) !!!

         Average reading speed being a book per day, I completed Sumit D Chowdhury's latest novel "Rules Of The Game" in 15 days. No, it is not for the wrong reasons but because every sentence contained lots of meaning that was not meant only for reading but to get it inculcated and imbibed in the personality to be successful in our corporate, professional and business life. If Robin Sharma can be termed as someone who shows you the way to be Leader and Motivated in your life, Sumit Chowdhury can be easily termed to be one of the best writers to tell you how to lead a successful life as an entrepreneur or an employee. He tells it with several examples and instances how being at small level does not mean our life would end up being only a notch equal to a Manager position; he confirms that if you follow every rule that he has mentioned, you will surely reach the topmost position in your organization. The great thing is that every rule seems to be applicable, feasible and realistic. 
    Author tells initially itself that if life is seen as a game, it will become very easy for us to win in every small and big matches of it. With every page, he makes sure that we believe in what he claims. I was surprised the way the book has been written. There are many similar books in the market that has one chapter written after another and there's no link between any two. They are just an elaboration of the chapter's title. But Sumit makes sure that his chapters are perfectly placed in the right order which will make every rule look easier and interesting. I, being in IT field myself, related to almost every advise and suggestions that the author makes in this book. And I almost found Live Examples in successful people I have personally known doing well in IT and Management fields. 

          The ART cycle in the initial chapter itself shows how serious and determined the author is. The book consists chapters that will help you understand how to develop your self-confidence, be enthusiastic and have winner's attitude, enhance your appearance, etiquette and personality, develop communication skills, seek feedback and correct ourselves, create your brand and invest in yourself. With all these elements been discussed, this book is a complete package for everyone who are about to start their career or are already stuck in midway and are unable to find which way to go and win against peers. This book tells you what to do today to not regret later that if I would have done this-and-this in my 20s, 30s, 40s, I would have achieved so-and-so already. 

           Every "I wish I knew" section tells how other successful persons regretted later for not knowing the rule that could have worked then. They tell it themselves. In the middle of the paragraphs, you will find quotes by wonderful thinkers and achievers following which the paragraph gives message related to the quote itself. Every quote is worth remembering and following. The best part of the book is the Interviews in the end of every chapter. The author assured that he finds a man successful in terms of the same element that he has discussed in the chapter and explore all his life in 9-10 questions. Book ends with the best interview- The one he has with Prasoon Joshi. In all, I would say, this book deserves to be read by every person doing Professional course, fresher in an organization and everyone striving even in their 30s and 40s. I will give this book 4.5/5 undoubtedly. Please have this in your shelves if you wish to be best in your career. 



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