What if the earth stopped spinning

Author: Roopa Pai
Publisher: Red Turtle
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9788129131225
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Roopa Pai, author of the Taranauts series for 8-12 year olds, is back with a book containing fun and easy-to-understand answers to 25 exciting scientific mysteries.

What if the earth stopped spinning? What if robots took over the world? Are toilet seats the dirtiest spaces in your house … or is the innocent-looking kitchen sponge? Why is it coldest in January, when the earth is in fact closest to the sun?

This is just a sample of the questions that Roopa Pai answers. Some of the questions were ones I hadn’t even thought about (e.g. the one about January being coldest) and others I knew the answers to. But reading her explanations was delightful all the same.

For one thing, Ms.Pai does not talk down to her young readers. The tone of the book is laidback, conversational and full of childlike enthusiasm, but it does not shy away from using scientific terminology where required – to give you an instance, buoyancy, DNA and inertia are explained easily, as part of the answers to some of the questions. Secondly, the book constantly exhorts readers to ‘come up with a theory yourself because Science doen’t have the answer yet!’ or ‘look it up on the internet’; and this is mostly the intriguing stuff that a kid would be likely to explore further themselves.

Then there is the choice of questions. The first 10 are all ‘Doomsday scenarios’; dinosaurs coming back, supervolcanoes erupting, all the world’s nuclear weapons detonating at the same time. By coincidence, this week there was an article in the papers about how children get affected by the news of terrorism, rapes and other violence that is reported in the media. Any child who reads or hears these things is bound to fear the state of the world today. Ms.Pai doesn’t gloss over the ugly facts, but she relays them matter-of-factly and with a dash of Dahl-esque humor that her young readers are sure to appreciate.

Many readers will be tempted to read this book from cover to cover; it is that interesting. I wonder, however, what they will do when they come across answers that clash with the stuff they are taught in school (and expected to regurgitate unquestioningly onto exam papers). For example, the tongue does NOT have a taste map; this is one of the many science ‘facts’ that are, in fact, myths. Hmmmm. Teachers, expect some tough questions from your class!

As for me, I thought the book was wonderful, perfect for the science buff as well as the science phobe. Am planning to get my hands on the Taranaut series by the same author. Meanwhile, the publishers (Red Turtle) have come out with two other similar books; How Did The Harappans Say Hello? and Do Tigers Drink Blood? , which contain History and Natural History questions and answers respectively. This might just be the perfect way to get kids interested in the world around them; or, as an adult, to rekindle that curiosity within yourself.

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Author: Lee Child
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780857502827
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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Jack Reacher aka Sherlock Homeless, is back in this racing new thriller Personal, the nineteenth in the Jack Reacher series, where he is chasing after an old enemy who seeks a malicious vendetta!

Jack Reacher, the ex-military superhero, is a nomad(yes, just carries his toothbrush when he is traveling!) now drifting across the US when his ex-boss contacts him and arranges to meet him on a high profile case. The French president faces a failed assassination attempt and the army feels the assassin won’t give up easily. And what more! They also believe that the assassin is after more than one president(Gosh!) at the upcoming G8 summit in London. So Mr. Reacher travels to London, meets a few other spies, gets mixed up with the business of British Mafia(Oh yeah! Whoever knew they existed!) and then its pretty much the standard spy story reel.

The overall plot is quite good. Jack Reacher is quite the character! No wonder Tom Cruise has chosen to portray him in his upcoming movie. He is extremely smart and cerebral, quick-on-foot, knows his hacks, basically what you would expect an ex-military man/spy to be. He does have a few Sherlock Holme-sy deductions that are both cliched as well as intriguing. Then, there is Ms. Casey Nice, a newbie(read sidekick) to this work, learning eagerly with her own anxiety issues. I liked the way Child has handled the relationship between Reacher and Nice(unlike the other authors who love to mix business with pleasure). For all the action lovers, this is the way to go.

This is my first Lee Child book (Guilty!) and I must say that when I finished it, I was left with mixed feelings about it. I didn’t like the unnecessary verbose narrative and dialogues at certain areas which adds no extra value to the plot and the pointless sidetracks just numbs your mind.

On the whole, I didn’t find this book very interesting and a peek at a few reviews confirmed this(Too late!) But, it did make me add a few other Lee Child books to my To-Read list, which I think is a good thing. To summarize, this book is just an unfortunate, rushed-through miss by an otherwise good author!

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The Saffron Tide – The Rise of the BJP

December 10, 2014
The Saffron Tide by Kingshuk Nag

Author: Kingshuk Nag
Publisher: Rupa
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9788129131270
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as the Prime Ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janta Party in the world’s largest election in 2014 was a stark moment in Indian history. It not only represented a great high for the BJP, but one of the lowest lows for the ruling party, the Congress.

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Review: Passion Flower by Cyrus Mistry

December 3, 2014
Passion Flower by Cyrus Mistry

Author: Cyrus Mistry
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9789382277170
Rating: ★★★½☆
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The book is a myriad collection of seven stories that are written in a superbly simple manner. The complexities of each character in the seven fables are remarkable, as each one induces a sumptuous amount of awe. The stories pull out an array of emotions that fluctuates with every turned page.

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Kamadeva: The God of Desire

November 24, 2014
Kamadeva: The God of Desire

Author: Anuja Chandramouli
Publisher: Rupa
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9788129134592
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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The book starts with the birth of Kamadeva by the sweat of Bhramha, induced by the overwhelming seduction he feels by an extraordinarily beautiful woman of his own creation – Rati. Rati is sensuous, fierce and of indomitable spirit, whereas Kama has a mellow demeanor, an incomparable charm and a calm and composed mind.

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Review: Mirages of the Mind

November 17, 2014
Mirages of the Mind by Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi

Author: Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9788184005530
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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Translated from the original (in Urdu), Mirages of the Mind is a witty account of life in our subcontinent in the twentieth century.

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If you remember these books, your childhood was awesome!

November 14, 2014
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Tell us: what did you read as a child? If you’re a parent, what do you read to your kids? Do you insist on politically correct books and authors only? Or do you believe in letting kids choose for themselves? And last but not the least: who’s your favourite Indian author for children?

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Review: The Radiance of Ashes by Cyrus Mistry

November 11, 2014
The Radiance of Ashes

Author: Cyrus Mistry
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9789383064748
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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The Radiance of Ashes, Cyrus Mistry’s second novel, is the story of “drifter, dropout, dreamer…Jingo.” A young man from a middle-class, Parsi family, Jingo’s only vague ambition is to write a book that chronicles the times he lives in.

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An Explosive Countdown: Quantum Siege

November 6, 2014
Quantum Siege by Brijesh Singh

Author: Brijesh Singh
Publisher: Penguin
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780143422877
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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Another one of India’s new multifaceted authors is brought to the fore by Penguin and Blue Salt in their new thriller, Quantum Seige, which deals with an impending threat by a merciless terror outfit.

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The Return of the Gamesman

October 27, 2014
Chanakya Returns

Author: Timeri N. Murari Publisher: Aleph Book Company Year: 2014 ISBN: 9789383064021 Rating: Click for latest prices Chanakya Returns tells the story of Chanakya, the modern day reincarnation of Chandragupta Maurya’s Chanakya and his machinations which brings the downfall of a modern day empire, not very dissimilar to the downfall of King Nanda’s Empire. Author […]

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