Saturday, December 27, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Author: Jayel Gibson
Publisher: Synergy Books
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
Presentation: Soft Cover
Quondam is a fantasy of worlds, with magic, dragons etc.
"Quondam is a kingdom under the stranglehold of a fallen wood nymph, Queen Karid, who has ruled ruthlessly for an eon since she was forced by the gods into human form as a punishment. She's thrilled to have blood in her veins, and equally happy to spill anyone else's to ensure perpetual dominance.
Karid sends fire-throwing assassins through a portal to Ædracmorae and wipes out much of that realm's ruling family in order to prevent a prophecy from coming true, which says that a house of serpents will ally with a house of dragons. It isn't enough though, as the queen is seriously challenged back in Quondam by an overlooked niece of the king, the hot-tempered Cwen of Aaradan, back from earlier books with a chip on her shoulder.
Although she is strong, Cwen has much to learn about when to apply judgment and how to see the perspective of others. She finds a chance to redeem herself from her past acts, saying, "`I have been selfish, even ruthless, but this one act will give my life meaning and sweep the blackness from my soul.'" Action is the prime driver, but it is a pleasure to see Cwen and other characters develop and evolve on the way to fulfilling their objectives. The thoroughly power-mad Queen Karid is the exception--she's a fountain of evil deeds from the beginning. Gibson carries over her examination of crossed species in Queen Karid's fear of a dragon/human hybrid with royal blood known as the Islander. He eventually faces a no-win decision, staking his own priorities against the kingdom's.
The book's romantic scenes are about desire, resistance, domination, and lingering bonds--not so unusual among people, but unsettling when applied to a pair of dragons. Just as the female dragons in the kingdom of Quondam are a bit stronger than the males, so too are a number of remarkably resolute women generally more determined and focused than the men. The subtle and healthy message of can-do capability resonates.
Fans of the series should appreciate the way Gibson moves into the meat of the story right away."
That was the blurb from Amazon. I came to the book without reading the earlier books and thus felt that the story was moving a little slowly in the beginning, but it picked up later on. The author's style is good enough to hold the reader. There is enough magic, enough evil and enough good to keep the reader going.
A good read. Not unstoppable and not unput-downable but interesting enough to read and complete.
I read the book a few months back but could not post the review due to various factors. My apology to the author.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Sub-Title: Jesus talks with Krishna
Author: Ravi Zacharias
Genre: Fiction, Imaginary Conversation, Religion
Presentation: Hard Bound non-standard size(approx. A5)
When the blurb about this book was sent to me by a publicist, I was curious to take a look at the book from the perspective of a Hindu (myself) and see how the author a Christian would present the innermost truths of two great religions of this world. I did mention to the publicist that my review may not be all that favorable but she was gracious to accept that and send me the book for review. The book reached me during my transition days, weeks and months after my retirement from a full time job, which took 42 years of my 60 years on this earth plane. Retirement caused major changes in life style and the review process got slightly disarrayed. With apologies to the author and the publicist, I present here my belated review.
I am in a way shocked and disappointed that a so called scholar of religions could be so biased and dogmatic. The back cover says that the author has three doctoral degrees and is an acknowledged authority on comparative religions, but this book is not a fair comparison at all. It is a blatant attempt at proselytising and showing the most ancient religion in a poor light and try to 'convert' educated people to his brand of christianity.
As I went through the book, the bias and the prejudice of the author was showing up so often that it was difficult for me to continue and finish the small book. I will give specific examples of that later.
For now, I would say this: if you are a believing Christian, this book is not needed. If you are a Hindu, this book is not needed. If you are an atheist, this book is anyway nonsense. Then to whom is this book meant for? To preachers, who are financed by the church to convert people to christianity.
A more detailed review will come later if I can bring myself to finish the book.
Title: Invent your Retirement - Resources for the Good Life
Author: Art Koff
Publisher: Oakhill Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, Seniors, Self-Help
Presentation: Soft cover
I received the book way back in 2006 for review and due to several factors beyond my control, the book was lying unread and unreviewed. In June 2008, I retired from a full time job, which was keeping me engaged for nearly 42 years of my 60 years on this earth plane. While sorting out various papers, this book caught my eye and now that I am retired, I thought that this book will show me some new avenues for spending my time usefully. So, I went through the book and here is my review of it, with profuse apologies to the author and the publicist who sent it to me and waited patiently all these years for the review.
First the pros: The book is well structured and does the job intended by the author, namely give various options to the retired person (or who is planning to retire shortly). It also helps family members and friends who read this book to discuss the issues facing the prospective retiree more intelligently and meaningfully, with compassion and understaning. The style is fairly good and the information (mostly a lot of resources) is useful.
The main draw back (or scope for improvement) in this book is that the majority of the resources listed are internet based and thus the reader will need to enter the URLs (addresses of the various internet sites) manually and there is scope for error. If this book was published in electronic format (as a ebook), the links could have been embedded into the ebook and just clicked upon. An ebook also lends itself for easy upgradation since the links to various web pages may change often.
But for this small drawback, the book is a good addition to the many existing books on retirement.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Author: Calvin K. Clemons
Publisher: Ovation Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Business Organization
Presentation: Hard Back with Dust Jacket
Received for Review on: 24th June 2008
The Perfect Board is all about the Board of Directors of an organization, and is a comprehensive resource on how to be a good director and thus help in making the Board perfect. The author is well equipped to write the book, having served on the boards of directors as well as being an executive vice-president, executive director or director of several associations.
The book takes an interesting form. The beginning and the end are like a novel, with good narrative. The main part of the book is like a good manual, telling the reader what to do and what not to do. The author uses a well qualified and sincere lady as the main character (seeker of knowledge) and a retired, highly knowledgeable expert as the teacher.
The book is well written and well printed (easy to read and easy on the eyes). I did catch a few typos but let me assure you that they are very minor and don't affect the understanding.
If you need to understand what being a director involves, or if you were always curious to know what exactly your directors did (and more importantly are supposed to do!) or if you are a student of business organization course, this could be a good and useful read. The book takes just a couple of hours to read and is handy to carry in your bag, briefcase or coat pocket. Since the contents page covers all the important points, lack of an index is not a big handicap. The bibliography at the end provides more resources if you need.
All in all, an excellent book on the subject and highly recommended.
About the reviewer: The reviewer is a graduate physicist, metallurgist and held senior positions in a large organization till recently and more importantly served on several committees, and associations as an office bearer and is thus familiar with most of the rights and responsibilities of the Executive Committee or Board of Directors. He retired recently after more than 4 decades of service on pension and is sharing his own knowledge through lectures and articles.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Sub-Title: Book One of the Space Frontiers Series
Author: Michael D'Ambrosio
Publisher: Helm Publishing
The book is the first of a new series from the author, who has already published a trilogy. I did not read any of those books and this is my first experience of reading a book from this author. I was thrilled to read a fast-paced book, which was difficult to put down!
The story is simple and straightforward - the victory of good over evil. However, it is told with a great style and thus I never felt bored. The characters are quite well developed, the science part of it was sufficient to make it a SF.
Since this is an online review, I won't give the excerpts from the story etc. since you would probably reading this review at a site, which has a link to www.amazon.com and you can browse through the book there.
I enjoyed reading the book and I strongly recommend it if you are a SF fan.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Author: Dan Ronco
Genre: Science Fiction
Presentation: Hard Back with Dust Jacket
For those who read Dan's first novel, "Peacemaker" this will be a must read sequel. For others, it will be a good introduction to Dan's excellent writing skills and an invitation to go and get Peacemaker and look forward to a sequel to Unholy Domain.
Dianne Morgan continues her stop-at-nothing attempts to take control of the whole world through her Domain and is being opposed by an equally ruthless opponent Adam Jordan. Adam tries to mold common man's aversion to technology after the bitter experience with Peacemaker (a ghastly malevolent computer program that was intended to shut down all internet systems and give Dianne power over the world but which was aborted albeit with a huge loss of people and property) into a religious cult and he too stops at nothing to gain control over people (that is the aim of all power hungry people isn't it?). David Brown, son of Ray Brown, a colleague of Dianne is the hero in this sequel which takes off where Peacemaker ends and we know what happened to Ray Brown in this book. But new readers need not worry since the story is self-standing without reading Peacemaker.
The story is excellently written and the style is as usual gripping. The editing and printing are again excellent. All in all, an excellent read and we are kept anticipating the release of Dan's sequel to Unholy Domain to know what happened to David Brown and to Adam Jordan, whom Dianne succeeds in capturing and whose religious cult is more or less broken thanks to some brilliant technological successes of Sentinel, the next generation Artificial Intelligence System developed by Domain.
Dan's books are disturbing because what he describes is possible and plausible with today's technology. So, if you are either a technophile or a technophobe, read Unholy Domain.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Author: Alan Williams
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
About the Book (From the Back Cover): Archy The Flying Dragon & The Vampires' Curse is a children's fantasy/adventure... a roller-coaster ride of fun and excitement, where eleven year old Thomas Parkinson and his sister, Suzy, embark on a perilous voyage of discovery, where they confront the most powerful forces of evil and where danger lurks around every mysterious corner.
My impression: It is a good read, and as expected, the forces of good and love win over the forces of evil (which help to bring out the universal love and are not thus really evil!). It being a fantasy, don't expect logic (I had to keep repeating to my grown up adult ego). I could not appreciate the parents flying off to Honolulu leaving the children in that isolated place with their Uncle, but then I am an Indian and my values are different.
Editing and printing: Good.
Recommendation: Good reading for children of ten years and above.
Author: G. L. Sheerin
Publisher: Synergy Books
About the Book (From the Back Cover):
Peter Dempsey hates computers. He detests looking at monitors, can barely type with two fingers on a keyboard, and considers his PC 101 class a torture chambers. But when a fateful bolt of lightning gives him the ability to see just who lives and works inside our computers, Peter might have to change his mind.
Peter befriends the "packets" who live in his computer and begins to learn about the secret world alive inside the Internet. Packet World isn't always friendly, though. A new super virus has just been unleashed, and Peter and his packets realize they might be the only ones who can stop the "bullies" from shutting down the internet, and Packet World, forever.
My own impression from a reading of the book:
Though the author himself is a computer expert, he has not fully succeeded in using the power of the story to teach how computers and internet work. While he might have succeeded in holding the attention of young techno-phobes like Peter through the use of some ingenious substitutes for the normal technical terms, he has not attempted to convert the story into a good lesson on the working of internet, data packets, Protocols etc. He could have used the book to discuss computer viruses, how they are detected, how they are studied and how they are deactivated etc.
Editing and Printing: Good.
Recommendation: The book is a good effort to make technical topics like computers interesting but the end results could have been better.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Title: F.A.T. Balance Diet
Sub-Title: 10 Steps to Weigh Loss Freedom
Author: Kevin Jones
Publisher: Fitness Lifestyle
Genre: Non-Fiction/Health and Fitness
The title is catchy in the sense that it gets read as FAT Balance Diet and almost all the struggle of those who are trying to lose weight is with the fat in the body. The author has imaginatively created an acronym from that simple word. F.A.T. stands for Frequency, Amount and Type. And it is applied to Food and Exercise, the two key factors that affect our intake and expenditure of calories and thus decide our weight.
An innovative approach of using life stories of ten different people to explain the important concepts of life style management (weight and fitness management finally comes to that only) makes the book very readable. In fact, I liked the stories far more than the following explanations, which are readable but appear like lecturing at places. I felt that the life stories could have been expanded a little more and the points incorporated therein.
The book is edited and printed well, except for one error on page 102 (Iris decides to take stairs instead of elevator and not as written).
The book comes with a glossary, 50+ recipes (typical american recipes since the book is meant for US readers though the principles are useful to others too) etc. and is a good value for the money.
I would have preferred to see this as a hard-cover book and also as an e-book, with links to an online journal.
That in spite of good advice from many people including US government, nearly 65% of people are overweight indicates that life-style management has become a big issue in USA. It is hoped that this book will help some of them regain the control over their lives.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Sub-Title: How to move effortlessly to higher levels of success
Author: Jim Manton
Publisher: Robert D. Reed Publishers
Genre: Business / Career
This book is about finding your true passion or love (as the author prefers to call) in your work and career. It is the author's own journey from the president of a large organisation to a coach. It is about finding what really motivates you and gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Coaching, mentoring etc. may help you and the author shares some good stories how he could help some very successful people reach higher levels of success.
As is my habit, I opened the book and found myself reading a highly readable account of the author's role as a mentor and coach f0r a successful and ambitious lady when she was making the transition from the position of a manager to COO of a business. I was reminded of the business novel "The Goal" (which is in my opinion the best among such books). Then I read the present book from beginning to end. While the book is readable, the author is at his best when he is narrating the story about his mentoring Allison (the ambitious lady who wants to become COO). The story is told from Chapter 8 to chapter 16. In my view, this is the best part of the book.
Each chapter has a summary at the end which tries to give a gist of the management principle that the author is trying to share.
The book is printed well. The editing is good with only a few slips which luckily don't distract the reader.
The last Chapter about the importance of silence is metaphysical and may not appeal to those interested in the mundane world of business success. Otherwise, the book will appeal to all those who are trying to raise their career to new heights.
I would have preferred to see such a book in hardcover edition since it may be visited again and again.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Sub-Title: Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress
Author: Geraldine Markel, Ph.D.
Publisher: Managing Your Mind, LLC
Genre: Non-Fiction/Personal Management/Self-Help
Presentation: Soft cover
All of us get distracted at times. However, when the distractions become one too many and thus disrupt our work, our homes, our live style etc., stress is the result. Our jobs and our family life get affected adversely. All of us would have wished at some time or other that we had a good mentor and coach to guide us how to deal with the battle against the demons of distraction. This book is an answer to our wishes.
In a short space of 10 Chapters spread over 138 pages, Geraldine Markel takes us through a seminar on the 8 Demons of Distraction and successful strategies to fight and defeat the demons. The book can be read in about a day of say 8 to 10 hours with short breaks for tea and lunch. Thus it is like attending a 1-day seminar. However, you need not travel and spend money on hotels etc. In the comfort of your home, you can read and reread the book and thus save a lot of time, energy and money!
If the above sounds like a sales pitch, I may be forgiven but I was really impressed with the simple, lucid and reader-friendly style of the book. I was delighted with the case studies presented by the author and was inspired by the success stories when the people practiced the strategies presented in the book. So, if you practice what you read, you too are sure to succeed. Here are a few chapter titles: The 8 Demons of Distraction, Your Attention Reservoir and Arsenal, Defeating the Technology Demon, Defeating the Others Demon etc. Chapter 10 is a good summary of the strategies.
Normally management and self-help books are not easy to read, especially since I have a rather short attention span! However, the highly readable style of this book held my attention sufficiently so that I could read it in the space of a few days after a long day of work.
This book would make a good present to any one (employee, home maker, business man, student), who finds that distractions are affecting their lives adversely. So, buy it for yourself and or some one you care for.
About the Author: Geraldine Markel, Ph.D. is an educational psychologist who is a coach , speaker, and author. She served as faculty in the School of Education, University of Michigan, and has coauthored four books on learning and performance for adolescents and adults with ADD and /or learning disabilities.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Title: UnBreak your Health
Author: Alan E. Smith
Publisher: Loving Healing Press
Presentation: Soft Cover
Unbreak your Health by Alan E. Smith is a good compilation
of various complementary and alternative healing systems,
some of them based on medical systems (like Ayurveda, TCM,
Homeopathy in lower potencies...) and others non-medical
(acupuncture, Reiki, Bach Flowers, EFT...), also called
energy based healing systems.
The author does not claim an expertise in any of the
fields but has made a wide and fairly deep search partly
to help himself and then to help others.
The user experiences and testimonials are taken from
various sources including the respective websites. The
selection of websites could have been wider. For example,
in the case of Homeopathy, www.hpathy.com, arguably the
largest portal could have been included. Similarly while
making a passing mention of Bach Flowers (the author
assured me that he is planning to add a separate section
on Bach Flowers in the revision), www.bachcentre.com could
have been mentioned. In the case of Reiki, there are many
other wonderful sites, including www.reikipath.org, a
The book is quite useful and with some minor improvements,
will be even more useful for patients, and their health
professionals and care givers.
About the reviewer: Though not a qualified medical doctor,
the reviewer is a qualified Reiki Master and is also an
amateur homeopath of long standing. His other interests
are Tissue Remedies and Bach Flower Remedies, crystal
healing, spiritual healing etc. He is actively involved
in teaching and healing.
Authors: Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby
Publisher: Multnomah Books (A Division of Random House Inc.)
This book should be compulsory reading to all women who are contemplating marriage and who plan to raise children. It could be recommended reading to all men too! Rather strong views you say? Bear with me for a few minutes and you will agree with me.
In an excellently readable book, authors Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby get to the fundamental reason for the big divide between the two genders - communication problems. Using many day-to-day examples, they bring out beautifully the different ways women and men communicate and how a mismatch between the communication processes leads to a breakdown of the communication process and thus the relationship! Since this is an online review, you will be able to read excerpts of the book either at Amazon or using Google's tools and I won't burden you with excerpts.
Some books hold you with their clear, lucid, highly readable style. This is one of them. Add good editing and good printing and you have a winner.
Monday, March 03, 2008
Author: Matt Browne
Publisher: Athena Press
Genre: Science Fiction
The earth is in danger and the human species may not survive the danger. So, a project is conceived to send humans to another earth like planet 82 light years away. The only problem with that is that humans cannot survive such long journey which will take thousands of years. Other problems of engineering, reliability etc. could be overcome but how to ensure the safety of the human beings over thousands of years of space travel?
A controversial solution is being attempted, viz., cryo-preservation of human embryos, which will be thawed and hatched by Artificial Womb Devices and the babies will be brought up by humanoid robots which have Natural Language Processing capabilities. And before the actual spaceship can be launched, the whole solution needs to be tested in a perfect simulation inside a space craft which, however does not fly in space. The future needs to be tested now. And hopefully repeated as envisaged and scripted now in the real future. Embryo splitting is necessary but is illegal. And the identical twins need to be born years apart and not know that they are test tube babies.
The book is about the simulations, the problems of managing a project in a secret facility, the ethical and legal issues involved, how they are overcome etc.
The book is the first of the trilogy and the author succeeds in maintaining a tight story line and suspense of what is going to come. Thus, reading the large tome of 700 plus pages is not difficult.
The editing and printing of the book is quite good. I would have preferred a hardcover but understand the cost implications.
Author Matt Browne holds a M.S computer scientist and works for a large organization. He brings his knowledge of Computers and Language Processing, Robotics etc. to a good and plausible space scenario.
A very good read indeed. I look forward to the remaining two sequels in the trilogy.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Author: Traci L. Slatton
Genre: Fiction / Religion / Inquisition
grew up as a street urchin on the roads of . Luca is not any ordinary human,
he belongs to a special race of beings, who have very long lives and thus look young. They are thus mistaken to practice witchcraft etc. and are subjected to inquisition, burning at stake etc.
200 years of life (though he looks like about 30 years when he is burnt at the stake). He meets many artists and painters, alchemists etc., including the famous Leonardo da Vinci. The history of Florence in the years 1300 to 1400 AD is interwoven in Luca's story.
the accuracy of what is presented here by the author. To a query from my end, the author confirmed that she has taken a lot of trouble to make the historical aspects of that period as accurate as possible. However, the story is sufficiently appealing and the style sufficiently smooth to keep me reading the fairly big book and we don't need to be experts on Italian history or art to appreciate the book.
suitable for children and also if you are squeamish (some scenes are rather violent).
Reading Copy), not the final print edition. I would suggest that you check the book
at a physical book store and decide about buying. I am reasonably confident that you
would find the book interesting.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Author: Lou Dunn Diekemper
Publisher: Synergy Books
The book is titled as a conversation, but is a monologue since the reader has no way of taking part in the conversation (if all of us start writing back to the author, she will be swamped).
The book is an attempt by the author to share her perceptions on a variety of topics. The topics are presented in a whimsical way (at least I could not find a pattern).
The style is good at some places and is like a sermon at others. Some of the many topics are likely to resonate with the reader.
I started this book and another at the same time, on 28th of November, 2007, and while the other book was finished in 2 or 3 days, this book was not an easy read. I persevered and completed it now.
I would strongly recommend you to browse the book at a book store or check as much as possible online using Google's book search, and then decide whether it is for you.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Author: Diane Cantrell
Illustrator: Heather Castles
Publisher: Bridgeway Books
Genre: Children's Books/Illustrated Story
Good-bye, Baby Max is a beautifully written and equally (or more importantly) beautifully illustrated book for children in the suggested age group of 4 to 8 years. For the children in the younger part of this age group, the parents or elder children and other care givers can help in reading and also deal with the emotions that may arise.
Story outline from the back cover: Mrs. B's class excitedly awaits the birth of three baby chicks. When Max is unable to crack open his shell, the children's loving teacher assists them in expressing their feelings of loss and planning a special good-bye.
Silence falls over the room.
Liz and Rob begin to cry.
"Don't worry," says Mrs. B.
"We will find a way to say good-bye."
"We had a funeral for grandma!" Riley exclaims.
"Maybe for Max we could do the same?"
Jeremy joins in. "We had a memorial for Uncle Jim.
People sang songs and told stories about him."
So they plan a funeral to have the next day,
With songs and prayers and kind words to say.
End of excerpt.
The illustrations are beautiful and help to invoke the right feelings.
The book tells children some important things about life: Life is a struggle and everyone doesn't make it. It is OK to cry and mourn those who fail and fall down. But life is about accepting the loss and moving on and seeing the emergence of new life.
The children can be encouraged to read, explore and analyze the emotions that well up.
The book has A Note to Parents and Educators from the author, which puts the story in the right perspective.
The book is edited and printed well.
I would have liked to see the book in a CD form with the story set to music. I hope the publishers will think of bringing it out even now.
DIANE CANTRELL is a former kindergarten teacher who currently works as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Life Coach. Diane lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Rich, and their three dogs.
HEATHER CASTLES is a children’s book illustrator who likes inchworms, dandelion puffs, and leopard print purses. Heather and her husband, Ben, live in Australia.
S.V. Swamy is an avid reader, editor, author and reviewer with a small child in his heart.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Till I do that, I would request you to continue using this blog.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Author: Ellen Palestrant
Publisher: Elusive Press
Genre: Animal / Memoir / Literature / Psychology / Immigration
Presentation: Soft cover
Pretzel is a pet dog of the author and when she immigrates to USA from South Africa, it also goes along. Unlike the other pet dog, Pretzel doesn't adjust well and later when the author's house is being remodelled, all the noises made by men and machines add to Pretzel's problems and it develops depression, anxiety etc. The vet puts Pretzel on Prozac, an antidepressant and the title of the book is derived thus. Pretzel becomes normal and after a few years, continues to be normal even after Prozac is withdrawn. Pretzel lives to a ripe 20 years of age.
The book is well written and is at places humorous and poignant. It would appeal to all pet lovers. It brings out well, the problems of adjusting to a new society and environment and shows how other animals are similar to humans if having difficulties of adjusting.
"How excited Pretzel is to be in motion out in the open. His tail wags vigorously. This is his Lap of Luxury-the Sonoran desert blooming with lus, emerald green golf-courses paved with perpendicular lanes. This is where he struts. Only in the streets of Scottsdale does he take charge of Bailey (the second dog, which normally dominates him - reviewer), lead the expedition, and decide when it's time to sprint. Attached to both their leashes, we obey the dogs and go tearing after them."
The book is edited and printed well.
Recommendation: The book would appeal to pet lovers. Check it out online or at the local book store.