Sunday, September 29, 2013

The English Nightmare

Book : English Bites!
Author: Manish Gupta
ISBN : 9780143419006
Pages: 334
Price: 250
Rating : 4/5

Something from the book:
However, one column in Reader's Digest continued to depress me for quite some time. Even with liberal self marking, I could never get more than five correct answers out of the fifteen posers in 'Word Power.' I persisted and my scores improved, slowly and steadily, as did my determination to get a perfect 15/15 sooner rather than later.

Learning a language is always difficult. I always found Hindi to be the toughest language, during my school days. My notebooks were decorated with red marks more than the blue ink scribbles but for vernacular students English is a similar kind of nightmare. But when we proudly declare ourselves well versed with English, do we really know everything in English? If so why we whack our brains and drill holes in our grey cells during entrance exams to store a few more words and their meanings in it? MBA, GMAT, GRE flash cards are like demons for us during entrances. Oh! Foolish us to think we are great in English. These were my thoughts after I read the Blurb of “English Bites” by Manish Gupta.

English Bites – My Fullproof English Learning Formula is indeed a foolproof formula as it makes learning words total fun. I still remember when I was small my dad used to ask me to learn 10 words from dictionary or newspapers and report to him in the evening. In school we used to hate the English lecture when we had a vocabulary lesson because it used to be the driest 45 minutes of the day. If only we had a book like this back then. The book is the story of the author who also was from vernacular medium and fought a long exhaustive war with English to finally conquer it. The journey is scribed in the book with pinch of humor, satire, a bit of emotions, all on a strong base of reality and is adorned with apt comic sketches and a lot of amusing trivia.

The book successfully erases the trite methods of learning languages and sets a new and a trend through this book, reason? The book not only a compendium of lot of words, it gives you the meaning of all the words then and there, at times with their origin as well. So you could let your dictionary rest and just enjoy the book without any distraction. And if the reader is like me nothing could be better as I am super lazy while reading a book. I would rather re read the line two three times and figure out some meaning than check the correct meaning by travelling some meters, picking up a dirtied by age old dust Dictionary and hunting for the word in the yellowed pages. The book sounds amazing now right?
  1. Humorous and prompt narration makes the book a very enjoyable read.
  2. The way the words are interspersed throughout the book helps in keeping the interest of the reader in the story and the words equally.
  3. The trivia provided is an added advantage of the book and makes the book very informative at the same time.
  4. The story is straight out of the author’s life pages and hence is easy to relate to.
  5. The illustrations are apt and fun.

  1. Just one the start was a bit slow and not as gripping as the rest of the book. Till page 50 I guess.

I thoroughly loved the book and I am not lying when I say this I am going to remember a lot of words by relating them to instances from this book. People who have read this book would know why the word bedraggled would always make me smile and why arachibutyrophobia is also going to make me check if my bread has peanut butter sandwich on it. 

On the whole I loved the book and if I clear my GMAT or CAT next year Manish Gupta you are going to get a big chunk in my credit speech. It is an easy 4 on 5 book and a must read! And higher education aspirants you know which book is a must in your closet now! This is a book you don’t want to finish in one go but a chapter a day and English will be your best friend. Every Bit worth its cost - a total worth it book.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Black Rose

In the chills of the early spring
Amidst all flowers – red, blue and pink,
There blooms a rose that is oh, so black
With a fate so doomed and a future dark.

Little kids playfully, pluck the flowers in mirth
And curse the black rose, for their thorns hurt.
But don’t they know all the roses have thorns!
Alas, they see all this – fault of this cursed one.

Lovers and friends adore roses of all kinds
But forbidden is the one that is pitch black,
As no one cares to feel its divine fragrance, but
All they know of it is – “That symbol of bad luck.”

The nightingale – a friend in need indeed
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s petty fleet
Set its heart bare to erase the colours of Fate
And to re paint the black rose all red.

The black rose cried, the nightingale bled
Till the last drop was soaked in the black rose stem
But now there is a dead heart, completely dry

And the condemned black rose still stands without friends for life.

-Vaisakhi Mishra

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From the Last Page

From the beloved page of every student...
Some play, some write songs,
Some test their pens or sketch wierd faces
And some just write messages to the person sitting next to them
These are some verses from my one of my "last pages"

Etched somewhere are memories weak
Silently eroding the surface deep;
All maim some able being,
Ah! Memories are stronger than they seem.


Azure heavens preen in a mantle grey
Just when it all melts away
And all that is there is just rains.


One black Bird crashes into the face,
And the legion of black follows the feat.
One, two and three and more!
Mangled and tarnished lies a form –
Marking the fall of the Scarecrow!

I see her sitting on a rock,
Pensive and focused;
When she is suddenly hit by a stone
And she fades away
In the rendition of the ripples.

I spill, I flow, I etch surfaces and all,
Immortalizing words on paper and walls;
But little help am I to people with a life
As dark as my existence

For I am Ink and they are Blind.

-Vaisakhi Mishra

Monday, September 2, 2013

Elixir of Fantasy

Book: The Birr Elixir
Author: Jo Sparks
Pages : 164
Rating : 4/5

Something from the Book : 

“Ignorance, my son. A blessing in a woman, a fault in a man. And a fatal flaw in a King.”All of Tryst’s carefully marshaled arguments faded. Like it or not, he was going on the epourney.

I will read it today!
Hell, I have so much work; I will surely read it tomorrow!
It has been a week!!! I am starting sure today.

And that today didn’t come for four more weeks. But when it finally came I skipped my lunch hour cause I didn’t want to leave the story unfinished. Not that I had to finish it, but I was scared that if I leave the book now and for some reason I can’t resume reading it soon it would drive me crazy. That was the power of “The Birr Elixir” by Jo Sparkes. A fellow blogger had posted information about this book and after I read it I just needed the book. Thank you so much Jo for letting me review the book.

The Book begins with the Skullan Prince Tryst and his meeting with his father. He sets off on a journey to explore his lands and connect and understand his people. Around the same time a young girl named Marra is made to work in a small herb shop by the evil brother of her now deceased Mistress. She was the only apprentice her Mistress ever accepted and before she died she gave Marra her book of portions – A book she specifically asked Marra to keep away from her brother Stark.

Marra’s world transforms totally when Drail the Leader of the Hand of Victory asks her to brew a powerful portion to help them win a game called COMET and Marra brews the Birr’s Elixir. When Drail and his team achieve the unfathomable feat of defeating Skullans he decides to take Marra as his Brista. But when he comes to take Marra with him to the faraway lands they find an unconscious man in the shop and Drail decides to take the man along with them. The sleeping man is under an unnatural sleep spell that Marra manages to break with her skills during the journey. But who is this man? What is Marra going to do as she was just an apprentice and not a portions Mistress but now is Drail’s Brista? What will the journey change in Marra’s life, a girl who had never left her desert town. And who is this unconscious man?

The book is a total roller coaster ride of the world Jo has created. Also the mystery of Tryst and the fox boot person looms over the entire story. The narrative pulls you totally into the world of Marra and the description of the Comet game is very vivid. The fast pace of the book keeps you hooked till the very end and as this book is the first book of the series it leaves you yearning for more and leaves a lot of questions unanswered for the readers to torment their grey cells. The book covers everything from magic to adventure to drama. And the story of the characters is strong and not just happy or sad.

  1. The book is very fast paced and involving and Jo’s strong narrative keeps you totally engrossed in the book.
  2. The description of the game Comet is just amazing and our imaginary horses can actually sketch the whole scenario while reading.
  3. The Characters are strong and very well used. I particularly loved the character of Drail and Stark.
  4. The way the plot thickens is very intriguing. Literally, loved every bit of it.

  1. The description of the areas they were travelling to could have been more. That would have made the land more authentic and readers could connect well.
  2. The resemblances – Comet with Quidditch, Continents and lands with Game of thrones – Westeros. Though not the fault of the Author, avid fantasy readers would directly make the connection and may find that to be a negative point about the book.

Overall it is an amazing book, a four out of five. Light, fast paced, easy to follow fantasy. An enjoyable read for both the young and the old fantasy readers. And as far as I am concerned, the only thought I have right now is “When is the next book coming?”