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Showing posts from October, 2014

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield

"If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moment count, you're setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time." - Commander Chris Hadfield
This line appears in the ending section of An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, and in my opinion, this concept is the nucleus around which Commander Chris Hadfield - the first Canadian to walk in space - has beautifully woven the fabric of his days at NASA. I am not particularly inclined towards non-fiction in general, and had picked this book mainly because I had just finished reading Jim Lovell's and Jeffrey Kluger's high-octane Apollo 13 - another work of pure non-fiction, which felt anything but - and going through the brilliant photos and videos tweeted by astronaut Karen Nyberg during her stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a part of Expedition 36/37 in 2013. In short, I had something of a grounding on what to expect, but as I began and finished the book, I was pleasan…

When Eight Bells Toll - Alistair MacLean

OK, so this is my excuse for not having been on top of my September target. The book was lying on the shelf, cosily fitted between two severely tattered editions of a monthly that my mom reads, and I was still recovering from the disappointment of San Andreas. Its times like these, that I get weak-kneed, and despite the voice in my head speaking words of wisdom, I decide that I should live in the moment and make a grab for the book; to hell with targets!
I may not be saying this too often, but I'm glad about my impetuousness. 
When Eight Bells Toll is apparently the only MacLean to have been set in the waters around his native Scotland (the rest of his sea-faring stories are based further north, near the Arctic Seas). The story is a very typical MacLean; the sea, the vessels, the gales, the stealth, the nerve-racking danger... It had all the trappings for a James Bond movie (minus the tux, maybe). The story begins almost in an instructive mode, the topic of discussion being the wo…

Reading List - October

Well, October began 12 days back, and I have to admit to some lack of discipline in my reading challenge for September. I finished The Night Watch and San Andreas in time, though An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth is still very much a work-in-progress. Besides, a week-long trip to home culminated in further digression, as I picked up some other works too (which I shall report on in due time). So, I'll be rolling forward the last month's dues and fix my targets for October, some of which I have already embarked on. 
1. The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2: The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud: The trilogy came highly recommended to me by a colleague and Book 1: The Amulet of Samarkand did manage to hold my attention rather well. Given that everything magical pales in comparison to Harry Potter, I was wary of embarking on The Amulet, reminding myself of how I had been disappointed in Artemis Fowl. But its been quite some time since Harry saw off his sons on the Hogwarts Expre…

San Andreas - Alistair MacLean

I never thought I will live to say this, but I was disappointed with this one. I finished with San Andreas a couple of weeks back, and I can still feel like I have a few pages left.
The story was a typical MacLean - set aboard a maimed ship in a wicked sea, infested with the enemy. There was the stoic bo'sun Archie McKinnon and the usual Scots stereotypes, the incapacitated captain, the strong, intelligent but naive nurse Janet, and several other members of the crew, a number of whom get eliminated quite early on. The suspense however remains, as the ship is crippled by saboteur/(s) and time is running out as the incredibly clairvoyant bo'sun scrambles desperately to remain ahead of the mysterious moves of the nasty Germans. Unlike some of the last few novels of MacLean, this one did not disappoint in terms of action. There was quite enough (but not too much) of leaping about and swimming in cold waters and battling the blizzard, punctuated by lengthy, sardonic discussions, w…