Audiobook Review: Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper

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A beautiful introspective book by Anderson Cooper. The audiobook is fanstastic! Anderson Cooper speaks with such clarity and diction and charisma that you can connect to him via this book. The book is an introspective read on his life, his dispatches and his world.

I picked this book while browsing through the cataloges for audio book in the library. And I finished the entire audiobook in 2 days straight. Amazing hearing! The book is filled with lines like in one of his dispatches he says that there is so much pain on the outside that it almost matches with the pain I am going through. Another amazing sentence that stuck with me was “Sometimes I wonder if I’m the person I was born to be, if the life I’ve lived really is the one I was meant to”. Cooper’s book “Dispatches from the Edge” could have simply been a recounting of the various places he’s reported from over the years, and it still would have been a must read, but Cooper, in a meta moment, realizes that where he has been and what he has seen and what he has done might never have happened but for the things that happened to him as a child and young man. The death of his father, the suicide of his brother shaped his path.

This book is so intricately woven that you can almost live his life, feel his pain, and also understand him as a human being not just a fancy face of the rich we see on the television.

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Audio Book Review: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Obama, Barack

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The Audacity of Hope is truly fascinating book!! This is the first audiobook I listened to.  Barack Obama speaks his book with an amazing diction and poise that I felt he spoke it live.  So thats what made this book doubly fascinating for me.  It gives deeper and clearer understanding of our current state of Politics. Barack Obama does a very good job of using personal examples from his life and the lives of those he is close to and using them to highlight key issues which face many Americans. In this book, President Obama, being a senator from the democratic party, tries to respect and shows his empathy towards other Republican counterparts or tries to justify their position from an independent ground – showing that to achieve the goal of prosperity, one needs to work as a Uniter rather than divider.

The best chapter of the book, chapter nine, “Family”, focuses on family issues, and features stories both from Obama’s childhood as well as the issues facing his family with Michelle and their two girls Malia and Sasha. He relates his issues with those facing most families, i.e. education, budget, time, and once again looks for areas of common ground on which to build. Many of these issues were touched upon in other areas of the book, as there is a tremendous amount of overlap between family, faith, and the other areas.

The book highlights how an ordinary man with a vision tries to resolve “common” man issues.  An amazing visionary thinker and a dedicated person who has spent his life really trying hard to believe in betterment of common people.  After I read this book, I had immense respect for the President. Kudos to him as tries to resolve “common man” problems on national stage.

This is truly a great book to read – however I would recommend getting the Audio Book unless you are a serious political junkie. Giving Four stars just because it can sometimes be very slow general people when he goes for detail discussion around an issue.

Book Review: Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

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The book started off beautifully depicting Teddi’s passion for reburshing old furnitures, her family and her overtures in her life.  Teddi Overman is a typical southern girl born in Kentucky and has a gift.  She found her calling in a dump with an old chair.  The story reels around the main character, Teddi as she is searching for answers about her parents’ history and the impact of their lives on her and her brother’s upbringing, and for closure/resolution regarding her brother’s disappearance.   Teddi has her share of worries but it seems too Bollywood to me that there is always some sort of a happy solution she finds to every problem. In the end the girl from Kentucky meets a fairy-tale ending, she buys a nice house in Charleston, and she finds love with a man.  There is no climax, there is no surprise ending, there are no stories to tell!Seems a little unrealistic that happiness seems to be found in a house and a man. 

I found this book a very easy pleasant book, but not the sort of story that really stays with you or that you recommend to your friends as something they simply have to read.  In my case, I consider this a very boring read, a book never to be discussed again or be introspective about.  Well written and thats it!

Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Pach

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I found myself reading STATE OF WONDER slowly and more slowly, allowing myself to sink into her depth of character, enjoying the deliberate pace of her revelation, reluctant to start another chapter until I had digested the one just finished. The book begins with Marina Singh, 42 years of age, a physician turned pharmacologist, agrees to go to the Amazon rain forest where her employers, a big Minnesota pharmaceutical company, are developing a promising new fertility drug. The researcher in charge of the study, seventy-something Dr. Annick Swenson, has cut off most communication, refusing all electronic contact, refusing even to reveal the location of her camp, relying only on the occasional letter to get carried down by boat to Manaus. The aerogramme that arrives as the book opens reports the sad news that Marina’s lab-mate Anders Eckman, who had been sent down some months before to investigate, has died of fever. Marina flies to Brazil to complete Anders’ report and find out the details of his death. What makes her quest doubly alarming is that the intimidating Dr. Swenson had been Marina’s supervisor years before at Johns Hopkins, when she had made a crucial mistake in the operating room that caused her to abandon the practice of medicine and turn to research, a trauma that lingers with her still.

She has a way of setting up a situation that you view with dread, only to shift it, open it, work her peculiar alchemy on it. The first hint of this is in a performance at the Manaus opera house, a La Scala in the midst of the jungle. Manaus already seems like an anteroom to Hell, a tawdry viewing-platform for tourists, and Patchett does not belittle the many dangers waiting in the Amazon jungle along its smaller tributaries. But she responds to its wonder also, starting with the night sky: “Beyond the spectrum of darkness she saw the bright stars scattered across the table of the night sky and felt as if she had never seen such things as stars before. […] She saw the textbook of the constellations, the heroes of mythology posing on fields of ink.” 

Marina Singh’s real exploration is her discovery of other people and of herself. Annick Swenson turns out to be a far more complex character than the forbidding paragon she thought she knew. Her immediate colleagues and the tribe they are studying form a fascinating interconnected society; both the ethnology and the medical research are pretty convincing, at least to a layman. There turn out to be reasons for Dr. Swenson’s secrecy, and moral issues that play an increasing part. Marina will find her endurance, skills, loyalties, and even her love tested. As in all her best books, Patchett gradually creates a special space, a kind of sacred enclave within the bounds of realism. Seen with a skeptical eye, some of what happens as the novel nears its climax may seem implausible, though it is certainly exciting. But Patchett banishes skepticism, a magician-monarch ruling over a land of wonder. What she enshrines there is deeply, movingly human.

Book Review: A Breath of Fresh Air by Amulya Malladi

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This is a heartwarming story.  Amulya brings something of Indian culture that is still frowned upon to the forefront, and that is divorce.  The Story is peeled like layers of onions and with every peel you will feel the emotions of the characters and literally and figurelatively will bring forth your emotions.

Main character, Anjali, divorces her husband. Her own parents hold it against her that she is divorced.  Anjali eventually remarries.  She has a son, a son that has a life-threatening illness stemming from an unfortunate catastrophe which occurred while Anjali was still married to her first husband. Somehow she manages through life as her new husband is a wonderful, caring individual and they devote their lives to caring for their ill son.

After several years, when Anjali runs into her ex-husband, her life goes into more turmoil. She begins reliving the days of her life with her first husband and the tragedies which led to their marriage’s demise. Anger fuels toward him for the sickness her son has, something the man learns and suffers guilt over, too.

This book focuses primarily on Anjali’s struggle to reconcile with the roles she carries as wife and ex-wife. Another very interesting and cleverly done thing with this book is that every few chapters, the author presents the continuation of the story from the insight and words of the various characters in the book, so that the reader is able to actually see and feel what’s going on within each character, and not just bases what they’re thinking and feeling by what other characters say. I liked that very much. This brought deeper meaning to the story and a better understanding of each character.

Beautiful book that brings tears to your eyes….

Book Review: The Mango Season by Amulya Maladi

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This book was a good read.  The recipes along the book are so nicely thrown in with the theme that it makes this a very interesting homely read.

Priya is a native of India and moved to the United States when she was twenty. During her seven years in the States, she fell in love with an American. She returns home, during the mango season, to inform her very traditional family that the man she loves and is going to marry is not Indian. Priya approaches various landmines as a strong-willed daughter can: sometimes she walks around them, sometimes she steps on them full-force. Like most of us who are daughters, she learns that some things in the family will never change, but we can sometimes voice our opinions in opposition and be heard, even if the opinion is not accepted. Priya discovers more about her family, love, and support  and that they don’t always come in the expected form. The book has a nice surprise waiting at the end that makes this an enjoyable one time read.

Book Review: The World We Found By Thrity Umrigar

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Beautiful book on friendship and relationships by Thrity!  The story follows the story of four friends, three who live in India and one in America who is dying of a brain tumor. The three in India want to travel to America to see her before it is too late, but one of their friends has married and converted into Islam. Her husband, bitter from a number of circumstances both personal and political, has become a fundamentalist and has isolated his wife from her friends, and thus isolates her from us as readers as well. It’s an interesting thing to do with a character over the course of the novel, but serves to create a secondary problem that keeps us reading.

The book details the journey of these 4 women from adolescent to womanhood and how the times had not changed much between the two times.  The new world that they found was not different from the world that they had left behind.  Discrimination, anger, and bitterness just had different grounds in these different times.

Overall, I loved the subtle yet generous ways that Umrigar told the story. While I don’t often like stories that move from character to character in each chapter, this was one case where I didn’t mind and got too caught up in the lives of these women to see the shifting story lines. Umrigar is a beautiful writer and I will definitely be diving in to some of her other novels in the future.