Wednesday, May 30, 2012

wild From lost to found on the pacific crest trail

Title : wild From lost to found on the pacific crest trail
Author : Cheryl Strayed
Publisher : Knopf
Genere: Biography/Adventure/Soul searching
Price: $25.95
“It had only to do with how it felt to be in the wild.With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of the trees and meadows ,mountains and deserts,streams and rocks,rivers and grasses,sunrises and sunsets.The experience was powerful and fundamental.It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild,and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way”
Hiking is an invigorating activity which people undertake for a multitude of reasons.For some it is a getaway,for some photography and love for nature while for some it is workout and the ecstasy from  hard labour. Personally I have been hiking on and off to get away from the comforts of life and  to be in the wild.But there are people like Cheryl who set out on a trail to find themselves , to get rid of the past in order to make a new beginning.Still whatever be the purpose the 3 month journey of Cheryl pursuing the Pacific Crest Trail(PCT) was equally preposterous and inspiring.
Ideally on such long trails people trek in groups but going solo and that too without much prior experience of trekking somewhat tells you desperate Cheryl was.Things were not good in her life and her past was quite gloomy too.She lost her mother of cancer,parted with her siblings , broke up her marriage , was under drug abuse for a short period of time and on the top of all these got herself pregnant. However among all these things the loss of her mother was profound and throughout the trail she speaks of her mother.She desperately needed to get away from her dark past and so she packed her bag.“There,I’d walk and think about my entire life.I’d find my strength again,far from everything that had made my life ridiculous.” 
There are few things about Cheryl’s venture that makes this book an exciting read.Her under preparedness for the trip makes it quite different from other trekking stories. Not only was she new to the world of navigation her knowledge of the trail was confined to one book which was a Bible for her.She was the only woman on the trail and owing to her solo attempt she had a very heavy backpack.To add to her woes her shoes were not proper and was running low on cash.In the beginning of the trip she was unsure and the heavy snowing made her change mind but eventually she felt that she had to traverse the path and so did it.
Cheryl read a good number of books on the trail and the books are mentioned in the glossary. While many people postponed their hiking plans to next year owing to the heavy snow,she did not give up though at time she was marked by trepidation.She had to take a detour to avoid the snowy patch but eventually she stayed on her way.A lot of times in the first month of the trail she talks of her mother,reminiscing of the past where she had a happy life with her mom.I liked the idea when she mentions about her not shedding tears and also how she wanted to be a writer. It really felt good to read this book for it clearly is a sign of her dream coming true.
On a trail 1100 miles long one needs something more than courage to go on.For some it may be a dream but for Cheryl it was redemption.Not only did she had the encounters with the bears,rattlesnakes and other wild animals but also she witnessed the beauty of the wild.Hot,humid,wet,chilly weather that she witnessed was quite in contrast to the multitude of people she met on her trek.The last chapter when she reaches the Bridge of the Gods is enchanting and pretty much sums up the book. Read this astounding tale of courage and be inspired.
Rating: 4.0/5

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stanley And The Magic Lamp by Jeff Brown

Title : Stanley and the magic lamp
Author :Jeff Brown
Publisher : Harper Collins
Review by : Raghav Sharma (10 years)

A boy named Stanley Lambchop lived in America. There was a time when Stanley was flat, can you believe that - a flat boy? Can you guess how he became flat? The answer is that a bulletin board had fallen over him while was sleeping. And while being flat, Stanley conveniently visited various kingdoms of adventures. But in 'Stanley and The Magic Lamp', Stanley is round and normal again.

When Stanley and his  younger brother Authur were doing their homework, they caught sight of a lamp on their table . Stanley rubbed it and surprisingly a genie came out of it. His name was - Prince Fawzi Mustafa Aslan Mirza Melek Namerd Haraz. Now the whole Lambchop family experiences various magics in their lives by wishing upon the genie like Mrs. Lambchop could now fulfill her wish to be famous , Stanley and Authur could fly and Mr. Lambchop could play the best tennis in the whole world. 

And now its your job to read the book to know more about the wonders that genie brought in the lives of Lampchop family.

I feel it is a great read for children between the age group 6-10 yrs and I will look forward to reading more of Stanley's adventures myself. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Detective Camp by Ron Roy

Title: Detective Camp
Series: A to Z Mysteries, Super Edition 1
Author: Ron Roy
Illustrator: John Steven Gurney
Publication: Random House

With apprehensions in my mind and fingers crossed, I picked up this book from the World Book Fair 2012, Delhi, for my sister. Though the book looked good, I only hoped that it could make an interesting read.

'Detective Camp' under the A to Z Mystery series is a fantasy story of three children - Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose, who go to a certain Detective Camp, to spend their summer vacation. There they meet a number of wonderful people like Mario, detective Robb, some crazy creatures like Mote, the remote eating goat, Ronald the rooster and some suspicion arousing people like Musee, Buzzy and so on.

The kids have a lot of fun with the camp activities where they are allowed to swim, take part in archery, nature walks, crafts and a lot of other fun games, besides a complex treasure hunt, of course. It is here that these three kids start to smell something fishy about the ongoing activities and contact Detective Robb with all their evidences gathered. It is extremely interesting to read how the little kids prevent a huge scam from taking place. At no point the reading of this novel turns a self-forced labour.

I haven't read any other book by Ron Roy, but I can imagine him as the next Enid Blyton. This is a particularly mesmerizing book, a must read for all kids and kidlit lovers.

Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mystery of the Falling Mountains by Nilima Sinha

Title: Mystery of the Falling Mountains
Illustrations: Subir Roy
Author: Nilima Sinha
Publications: Children's Book Trust
Price: INR 30.00
Review by: Vidhi Sethi

 The story of 'THE MYSTERY OF THE FALLING MOUNTAINS' by Nilima Sinha makes an interasting read. It is about five  school friends - Dipak, Ajay,  Rustom, Ahmed and Richa. They all decided to spend their vacations at Dipak's house in the beautiful snow covered mountains. The grass thick and green was spread lavishly with pale yellow daisies. There they were introduced to many different people including Mr. Das, the owner of the neighbouring farm, Shivant, the contractor, Mr.Hari Lall and his wife Pamella Lall, Motilal, the shopkeeper and Gopi, the gardener. Many buyers were eager to acqire the property of the Pants. Dipak's mother, a widow and the owner of the beautiful house, got many threatening letters, in Hindi and from unknown source. She did not pay heed to those letters and subsequently her son was kidnapped. Someone was forcing Mrs. Pant to leave the house. There was also a series of intentional accidents such as breaking into the house, poisoning of the milk and so on. Rescue teams for Dipak were also kidnapped. It is interesting and at the same time spooky to read how the children were finally rescued and how the culprits were nabbed. 

In the story, Mrs. Pant comes across as a kind hearted and a loving lady and the children as a bunch of intelligent and lively lot. I could not leave the book once I started reading it. It is a wonderful book and a must read for all bool lovers and mystery lovers like me.                                                              

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dancing To Your Heart's Desire by Laxmi Hickhad

Title: Dancing To Your Heart’s Desire
Author: Laxmi Hichkad
Publication: Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd.
ISBN: 978-81-288-3663-3

The author has narrated the story using the beautiful Indian state of Goa as a backdrop and its culture and social scene to depict and follow the lives of girlfriends Kimberly, Anjali, Sanjana and Maya. The young girls are on the last leg of their medical studies and are doing their internship in a hospital. The author through the girls makes you experience myriad of emotions, the exuberance of the young people, the helplessness and the frustration of not being able to help a friend, Sia, who is seriously ill, the romance of Sanjana and Sameer, the pain of having loved and lost with Maya and Vishal, the infatuation and the power of a crush with Anjali and Sean and a totally different emotion with Kimberly, Ronaque and Sachin. All this added up with the day to day life in a hospital, where the young doctor’s fortitude, integrity, honesty and courage are tested, completes the story. 

Do read on to find out how these girls cope up with their lives? What do they do for Sia? Are they successful in their endeavors? How things proceed in their love lives?

Laxmi Hichkad is a debutant author and a doctor herself. I found the story fast paced and interesting. Another thing that I liked about this book was that the author did not get derailed by getting into the details of medical profession. Inspite of it being based on doctors life and having a strong emotional angle, the author has ended it with such a finesse that it does not leave a cloud of gloom behind. The book overall makes a good pass time read.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hyper Harry by Patricia H. Aust

Title : Hyper Harry
Author : Patricia H. Aust

The author Patricia H. Aust is a well informed person on ADHD as she had been on the CT Task Force on ADHD and was a school social worker working with children who had severe ADHD, while she wrote this book.
The story of 8-year old Harry is narrated in the voice of his elder brother 12-year old Ted, who finds it extremely challenging to deal with behavioral peculiarities of Harry. Many times he wants to avoid Harry but he also wants to help him when Harry gets into trouble because of no fault of his own. But it leads to situations when Ted finds himself confused and disturbed.

The story brings out the feelings, emotions, frustrations, desperation and turmoil of a young adult sharing space with a hyperactive sibling and what all it needs from him/her to be a compassionate, understanding and loving brother or sister.

I have a couple of books dedicated to the symptoms of ADHD and how some of them can be mitigated with medication, continuous therapies and tender love and care but this is one of a few books which have brought the feelings of a sibling in the forefront and that I feel, is commendable.

Taking cues from her experience while working with children with ADHD, Patricia does mention how medication helped Harry to a certain extent but it cannot completely eliminate the problem. Through Hyper Harry, she has tried to address this problem keeping in mind the mental state and stress every individual of the family goes through trying to grapple with the situation. I found the story and narrative having a lot of potential, however, I felt the soul was missing from it. Somehow, it did not move me the way usually such stories do and should do. If I have to give one suggestion, I feel the parents role could have been discussed in a little more detail but this is my personal view.

The author recommends this book to be read with the child who is suffering from ADHD but I am not so sure about it. I would suggest parents to use their own discretion in considering this option. 

Imagine Travelling To The Most Mysterious & Unusual Places! by Praveeta Kumar

Title: Imagine Travelling To The Most Mysterious & Unusual Places!
Author: Praveeta Kumar
Illustrations By: Ash, Corey Wolfe
ISBN :978-0-9872096-0-3

Imagine Travelling To The Most Mysterious & Unusual Places! Is a story of four elves who are friends, Wakey - a daydreamer, Rhino - the gymnast, Joey - the sprinter and Wombie - the fashionista.

In the story, the four elves are adventurously transported to different kingdoms. The kingdoms which are unknown to all of them except for Wakey, who knows about them as he has seen them in his daydreams.When the elves get back home to the Kingdom of Lyst as adventurously as they had left, one day they accidently discover a few other kingdoms and become explorers in real life. How do the friends do this and what kind of adventures do they have in unknown kingdoms? Finding this out is a great adventure in itself. 

The cover elves have been illustrated by Corey Wolfe. He has done a decent job. The illustrations in the book have been done by Ash.The scant few illustrations in the book are average and have been done in black and white. 

The book could have definitely been made more appealing by adding a few more illustrations and vibrant colours to it.
In my opinion, the book is good but it has more of a school text book touch to it. The author could have done better by adding a little more fun and less of lessons to it. The narrative has been very descriptively written and has lessons for the kids throughout the story. At the end of the book the author has provided a few activities like brain teasers and crosswords etc for the children.The book targets primary school age kids and it makes a decent one time read.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creating Time by Marney K. Makridakins

Title : Creating Time - Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim your Life
Author : Marney K. Makridakins
Publisher : New World Library
ISBN : 978-1-60868-111-2

We all want more time than what we have. Twenty four hours in a day do not seem to be enough to do, to achieve, to try and in a nutshell, to lead a fulfilling life and we all find these overtly abused excuses of lack of time stumbling out of our mouths so very often - "I do not have enough time" or "If only I had more time" or " I am too busy".   The author Marney K. Makridakins, very validly points out that despite the technological advancements which have enabled us to achieve much more in a month than we ever did in a year, earlier, our lives have become busier manifolds. So are these advancements helping us in leading a relaxed life? In fact, just the contrary is true.

In 'Creating Time', Makridakins is trying to take the major hurdle of lack of this essential commodity - time, head on. After understanding, evaluating and analyzing the concept of time management, she has devised some very exciting and interesting tools to create more time. Interestingly what all it requires is some creativity which human mind is very much capable of.

Makridakins encourages the readers to embark on a journey of rediscovering a unique relationship with time. In fact, this is an empowering exercise which could gradually lead people to move away from 'making time and managing time' in their lives to 'imagining time and creating time'. For this, it is essential to have an open mind and to be prepared to experience the great metamorphosis. Here is a very brief peek into what she suggests us to change - Change the way you talk about time, Change the way you measure time and Change the way you experience time. It is a worthwhile exercise to read the complete book to get the full benefit.

The various tools that she presents in the book, make use of technology, art, philosophy, science, imagination, logic and of course, the most important ingredient - the human creativity in finding ways to create more time. Each chapter is full of interesting anecdotes, personal stories, references and ARTsignments. The ARTsignments are hands-on art projects designed to initiate self awareness and transformation in a playful manner. Common time related challenges are enlisted along with various ways to face them.

For me, the highlights of the book were - the poetic pauses at the beginning of each chapter and the  art work by over 80 contributors which help in illustrating the point that Marney is trying to make through her writing - the multi-faceted nature of time.
The title itself is very intriguing which will entice the readers to pick this book up and see what all it has to offer in terms of creating and expanding more time in the same 24 hours.

It is a wonderful book on time management bringing in unique perspectives which have not been offered or thought about before. So I would say, it is a great accompaniment to the time management courses besides being a great inspirational book. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh

Title : Old Path White Clouds
Author : Thich Nhat Hanh
Publisher : Hind Pocket Books
ISBN : 81-216-0675-6

Thick Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddist monk and an accomplished author who has penned - Being Peace, Under the Banyan Tree, The Path of Emancipation and 85 other books. In 'Old Path White Clouds' , he presents the life and teachings of Gautam Buddha spanning over 80 years.

The story is divided into small chapters and are presented in a very simple language.  Through this book, readers get a glimpse of Buddha's thoughts, how he followed his inner calling to embark on a journey of self realization and what all he experimented with to attain the blissful state. During the course of his search, he first tried the path of self deprivation but later realized that -"The body is not just an instrument, it is the temple of the spirit, the raft by which we cross the other shore." He stopped practicing and advocating self-mortification.
"He realized that body and mind formed one reality which could not be separated. The peace and comfort of the body were directly related to the peace and comfort of the mind. To abuse the body was to abuse the mind. "
After attaining enlightenment, he dedicated his life to leading many individuals to the same path of peace and devotion.

He taught the world the significance of mindful awareness and living in the moment by being a role model who practiced every ounce of what he preached. "Your mind should  not be chasing after thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow, but should dwell fully in the present moment. Living in mindful awareness is living in the moment, your mind and body dwelling in the very here and now. Living each day mindfully is the very basis of spiritual practice."

It is interesting to read how Buddha compiled the Noble Eightfold enlightenment path, and how throughout his life, he tried to share his peaceful state with so many others who came in contact with him. One very important aspect, though very small, caught my attention - he was very effective in teaching every individual in the language that the person understood the best, for instance, Svasti was a buffalo boy and he was taught using the terms that he was most conversant with while to a Sitar player he used the strings of the sitar as an example while showing him the divine path. There is a lot that a reader can take from the book. This is the first biography of Buddha that I read which took me through some very significant moments of Buddha's life.

However, I cannot skip mentioning that this book does falter at many points - it is repetitive and many parts are redundant which only increase the volume of the book without enriching the readers in any way. The book could have been more precise to be more effective. Some of the chapters give an impression as if they are compiled bits and pieces from here and there. As I understand, a biography should be more tight with no scope of redundancy because it is primarily a sincere presentation of facts. Also, the narrative keeps vacillating from Svasti the buffalo boy to Buddha himself, which makes it a little disruptive sometimes.

Thich was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by none other than Martin Luther King Jr. He is the founder of Van Hanh Buddist University in Saigon, and has taught at Columbia University and the Sorbonne.

Must quote a few lines from the book -
"Bhikkhus, when you have seen deeply and have attained the Way, the beautiful may still appear beautiful and the ugly may still appear ugly, but because you have attained liberation, you are not bound by either. When a liberated person looks at beauty, he can see that it is composed of many non-beautiful elements. Such a person understands the impermanent and empty nature of all things, including beauty and ugliness. Thus he is neither mesmerized by beauty nor repulsed by ugliness."

Bhikkhu must cleanse his body and mind of desires, attachments, anger and aversions.

Love is possible only when there is understanding. And only with love can there be acceptance."