Saturday, 31 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : The Art of Thinking Clearly

Rolf Dobelli's "The Art of Thinking Clearly" is probably my non-fiction book of the year.

A collection of 99 articles by Rolf Dobelli, translated from German. This is probably the best collection of “social and cognitive psychological concepts” you can get in one place. Each of the short article deals with amazingly simple to understand but impossibly difficult to avoid concepts like “Contract Effect”, “Paradox of Choices”, “Endowment Effect”, “ Gambler’s Fallacy” and my personal favourite “Loss Aversion”.

The book is a good read for any student of human psychology and a must read for all marketers. In Depth, this book is no comparison to one of my favourite behavioural economics book “Thinking Fast and Slow” But what this book lacks in depth, it more than makes-up for in spread. I doubt you will ever find such an exhaustive collection of behavioural biases and easy to understand explanations of deep psychological concepts in one place.

Go buy it now, read over next fifteen days and then keep it next to you to use for life.

Rating : 4.5/5

Friday, 30 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : Before Watchmen - Minute Men / Silk Spectre

I had picked-up the legendary graphic novel “Watchmen” about 2 years back and it still remains in my “half-read books to be completed list”. The other day while browsing graphic-novels in my local Paddington library, I found the prequel and found it interesting. This story is about the Original Silk Spectre and Nite Owl.

Like the “Watchmen” the focus remains on the psychological inner conflict of the super-heroes. While the prequel does not involve Moore and Gibbons the book is engaging and the graphic beauty comes alive brilliantly. A must read for all graphic-novel and “Watchmen” fans.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Also Read Kim's Review for the same book.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : Eight - The Hard Way

Eight - The Hard Way was another free e-book downloaded on my phone for commute reading. While the book didn’t turn out to be anything great, just a decent collection of mystery stories. However at the end of this book, I did realize that may be it is time for me to invest in a Kindle and also enjoy the different experience of e-books in the future.

More importantly my next phone is going to be a phablet to avoid carrying the extra Kindle during my commute. Let’s see how long this interest in e-books lasts.

Rating : 3/5

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : Sex Tips for Husbands & Wives From 1894

Sex Tips for Husbands & Wives From 1894 is a really funny booklet, which can be read in 10 minutes. In 1894, Ruth Smythers, ‘Beloved wife of The Reverend L. D. Smythers’, wrote: “While sex is at best revolting and at worst rather painful, it has to be endured... One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: give little, give seldom and above all, give grudgingly”

While the book may have been construed as practical advice in 1894, today it is rolling on the floor (ROFLOL) funny. It also turned out to be a perfect gift for a cousin getting married.

Rating : 4/5

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : 13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck

Being a fan of Ashwin Sanghi from his first book “Rozabal Line”, I had to read his first non-fiction foray. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed.

While the book does try to de-construct luck through street wisdom, it lacked the depth of research to make it significant. After reading the book, you might have a brand-new notion on how to define luck, but it is more likely you will wonder if the construct isn’t a little far-fetched.

Separately the book could be a great source of lovely quotations and real-life stories which can be used by readers to turn their conversations interesting. When I had met Sanghi in London a few months back, I specifically asked him what made him drop his successful and masterly franchise of historical fiction to delve into non-fiction ? He told me that he wanted to get out of his comfort zone and continue his personal learning experience. It clearly enhanced my respect for the individual and I am sure, with such an attitude he will surely have more “Luck” in his coming ventures.

Rating : 3/5

Monday, 26 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : Echo Burning

It’s a bitter sweet feeling reading the last book in any series. Since starting the Lee Child - Jack Reacher series in September 2012, I have patiently savoured 17 out of 19 of his books. I also decided long back that I will skip “One Shot” as I had watched the movie and didn’t quite like it. So finally in May this year I closed the franchise by reading the 5th book of the series.

“Echo Burning” was a perfect finale to my love affair and all the elements of a great Reacher book. Damsel in distress, burly bad boys in a haunting backdrop of an American small-town and nature providing the dramatic final piece of the puzzle.

The beautiful feeling of ending of series was strangely conflicted with what next ?? So friends I need ideas. You all know my taste by now, any suggestion of good light-on-the-brain fiction series with a minimum of 6 book are welcome.

Rating : 4 / 5

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : Confessions of a Sociopath

Confessions of a Sociopath is written by a self-confessed and subsequently clinically-diagnosed psychopath woman, under a pseudonym - M E Thomas.

The book is an excellent commentary on the much-maligned diagnosis, normally associated with murderers & con-artists. It outlines that similar psychopathic tendencies are also required to be a successful politician or business leader.

Having spent close to two decades in the corporate trenches I can safely say that I have personally encountered more than one business leader who would fit the bill. The book also demystifies psychopathic tendencies which many of us will relate to. So even if you aren’t a full blown psychopath, you will surely relate to loads of behavioural and social traits. Recommended reading to all politicians, business leaders and amateur students of psychology like myself.

Rating : 3.5/5

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Brajesh's Review : Innocent in Las Vegas - a Tiffany Black Mystery

As part of free e-books, I attempted to read "Innocent in Las Vegas - a Tiffany Black Mystery" on the iPhone. This AR Winters book took a really long time to finish, as I was only reading it on the tube or in buses.

The book was moderately funny and an average suspense element built in it. The protagonist is a girl finding her feet in the business of Private Investigating in Los Angles and had most of the formulaic elements of the mystery.

I couldn’t relate to much of the humour and have no intentions of picking-up any more in the series.

Rating :2.5/5

Friday, 23 October 2015

Kim's Review : Star-Crossed Series - 1. Reckless Magic, 2. Hopeless Magic, 3. Fearless Magic, 4. Endless Magic

Rachel Higginson's Star-Crossed Series may seem like just another one of the Young Adult Fantasy novels featuring teenagers just discovering their magic, but there is something about this series that is eminently readable.

Yes, the heroine Eden Matthews is an orphaned child who gets into trouble in the normal world, because she doesn't know that she has magic - a common opening idea to almost all the Young Adult Fiction out there, but the story does build well.

Yes, Eden is a little irritating and self-absorbed at times, but isn't that teenager behavior?

In Reckless Magic - Eden Matthews is just discovering her magic and the World of Magic and the Rulesgoverning this world. In Hopeless Magic, she travels to India to test her magic. In Fearless Magic, she travels to Machu Pichu, Brazil, Paris, London, India, Morocco & Romania. Endless Magic brigs a natural conclusion to the series.

In most of the cities, she spends just a bit of time, but a considerable amount of Book 2 centers on her India experience and this is where I wish Rachel had spent just a little more time getting the setting right. A lot of the descriptions of Bangalore to Ooty seem to be impressions gleaned from a trip to Northern India. Indians don't use Indian breads to scoop up their rice and curry. Indian breads are eaten seperately from rice. Its like saying that Italians eat their pasta with risotto. These anomalies, don't ruin the story, but they do leave an uneasy feeling when reading through.

While Endless Magic brings about a natural conclusion to this series, there are a couple of supplementary novels concerning other main characters of this series.

The Reluctant King - Avalon St. Andrews
The Relentless Warrior - Jericho Bentley
Breathless Magic - brings the action right back to Eden Matthews
Fateful Magic - Lilly Mason
The Redeemable Prince - Sebastian Carter

The First Book is currently available for free on Amazon and ibooks, if you would like to try it out before buying any more.

Rating : 3.75/5

#100BooksPact 4/100, 5/100, 6/100, 7/100

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Kim's Review : Before Watchmen - Minute Men / Silk Spectre

Confession Time : I own a copy of Watchmen - Yes, that so called pinnacle of Graphic Novel Art. I have owned it for over a year. It is sitting on my bookshelf and I have not yet read it. {insert blushing emoticon here}

The husband had read it though and he was very excited when we saw this prequel at our local library. I thought that since I needed to return the book and it was a prequel, it would be good to read this first before reading the main book itself. But I'd have to say that this was a bit of a mistake.

The books aren't meant to be read that way.

As a standalone, this is a lovely book. Beautifully illustrated with a crime fighting story line. I much preferred Minute Men over Silk Spectre. Somehow I haven't been able to connect to her character and I don't like her very much. I was rooting more for her daughter than the original silk spectre.

Maybe once I actually read Watchmen, I will come back to this book again and see if it feels any different.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

#100BooksPact 2/100 & 3/100

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Kim's Review : A Journal of the Plague Year

Daniel Defoe's - A Journal of the Plague Year - Being Observations or Memorials of the Most Remarkable Occurences as well Publick as Private which happened in London During the Last Great Visitation in 1665 - is one of the most difficult to read books, that I have ever picked up.

The subject matter itself is depressing - The Great Plague of 1665, the Language is a huge strain to read. And to compound it all, Defoe meanders, repeats himself, goes back and forth and his narrator HF is an irritating character.

However, because of Defoe's reputation as the founder of the English Novel, this Journal of a Plague Year is found on every must-read list compiled by newspapers and academic institutions, which I suspect is the only reason for its continuing sales.

I do admire Defoe for his actual novels - Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders among them, but the Journal inspite of all its literary significance, is most definitely not an easy read.

It definitely has its plus points : an eye for detail, a rich view of life in the 1660's for the merchant and the working classes and a perceptive eye for observation.

But the novel is also rambling, digressive, contradictory & repetitive. There are no sections, no chapters and the Death Bills are terribly depressing.

Since Daniel was only 5 during the plague, it is supposed that this book is based on the diaries of his uncle Henry Foe (HF). However, while he makes liberal use of statistics (The Death Bills) throughout the book, they seem to be made up for the most part.

It was this use of statistics, that had this book initially classified as Reportage and was accepted as the truth until the 1780's and eve had some people believing it as fact until the early 19th Century which should attest to the fact, that he accomplished what he set out to do.

However, this is not a book that I would recommend to anyone, unless the subject matter is extremely appealing to you.

#‎100BooksPact‬ 1/100

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