A L Sowards

Review: The Redgrave Murders by A. L. Sowards

7:07:00 AM

The Redgrave Murders The Redgrave Murders by A. L. Sowards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes it is not the big picture but what is happening within that frame that makes a story work for the reader. This is a story of two people with different past working for a common future - a future together.
Evie and Gary are an unlikely couple for the 1950s and coupled with Gary's past it was not easy for him to be the kind of boyfriend he would have liked to be. Evie's father is murdered and the blame falls on Gary. Evie works on finding the alibi for him and clearing the blame and along the way she gets a better picture of the man she is dating. This is actually the core of their evolving relationship and their struggle to make it work.

The murder mystery is well crafted and easy to follow as they together go through the list of possible suspects. It reveals the bias and the struggle the minorities face in society and how love can heal it.

An easy read that has a lot of heart in it.


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monsters of verity

Review: This Savage Song [The monsters of Verity] by Victoria Schwab

1:40:00 AM

This Savage Song
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Savage Song is a Young Adult fiction set in a city full of monsters and human. The city is divided into two sections - one ruled by Harker who has made monsters his slave and now sells his protection to humans, other section ruled by Flynn who saves the humans by fighting the monsters and the evil humans alike and keeping them out of his part of the city. There are three kinds of monsters - and one of them is August - the boy who loves music but can not play at his will as his songs can steal a human's soul. Harker has a daughter - Kate who he keeps away from the city as much as Kate struggles to return home and eventually succeeds too.

“She cracked a smile. "So what's your poison?"He sighed dramatically, and let the truth tumble off his tongue. "Life.""Ah," she said ruefully. "That'll kill you.” 

This is a story of these two and how one saves the other from acting like a real monster and ultimately saving the city, perhaps temporarily. Maybe this is about choices we make - to be the monster or not and to shape our own destiny even in the bleakest times. But what moves the story forward so seamlessly is the dialogue and the pace of the story. Supported by some really amazing cast on August's side and the conflicts on Kate's side, this is a really good quick read.

I did not love the book, but I did like it enough for one of the main characters - so that I am curious about the second part of the book to know the story further.

“I read somewhere," said Kate, "that people are made of stardust."
He dragged his eyes from the sky. "Really?"
"Maybe that's what you're made of. Just like us."
And despite everything, August smiled.” 

The story ends at a point where it is satisfying to be left without reading the sequel.


Here is the link to the audiobook from youtube.

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Nature

Review: A Mango Tree in the Courtyard by Shweta Gour

8:48:00 AM

A Mango Tree in the Courtyard: Fifteen comforting stories of nostalgia, humour, irony and macabre. A Mango Tree in the Courtyard: Fifteen comforting stories of nostalgia, humour, irony and macabre. by Shweta Gour
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


"Always be aware of men who make you feel miserable, who always put their needs above your wishes and stand for yourself, without hurting anyone; but, also be wise enough never to become the woman who compensates for their suffering by instilling the same onto others."



This book is a collection of short stories divided into two sections - 1. Nature and Nostalgia and 2. On the dark side. As the name shows, the first one has stories of the author's childhood and growing years coupled with a love for nature. These are the stories that appealed more to me as it clearly shows that the author is passionate about these memories and the way nature has left an imprint on her life. There is certain warmth in the stories, even if sometimes they fail to have a proper closure. 

My favorite story is the first one which is also the name of the book. A dream in a dream is a really sweet story that has inception like feels but thankfully not that twisted. Misfortune is another story I liked a lot in the book.


In my more rational days, the polarities between the existence of wildlife and those of humans come forth clearly. The former in its very process of just being in making this planet worth living while the latter in all its intelligence is only making it ugly. The view of trails of trees and plants rejoicing with various avians and squirrels against the high concrete blocks, standing sullen strengthens my conclusion.

The second section has some interesting plot and moments that make you think of creepy moments you have encountered. The perfume is one of my favorites stories in this section while the last one could have been a little better plotted. It leaves you with wanting for more. 


Overall the book has some misses but most of the stories can make you a little bit nostalgic and think of the simpler times of summer vacations, train journeys, and some spooky tales. A good debut attempt by the author. 


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indian crime

Regional Book Reviews: Mystic Mountain, 307.47

8:34:00 AM


               Malayalam Pulp Fiction is going through a golden phase now. More and more youngsters are bringing out their works and mainstream publishers are picking them up without any inhibitions (there used to be a phase when A-List Malayalam publishers kept a 'safe' distance from 'popular/pulp' writers and wanted 'nothing' to do with their 'works') .They are not only vocal about their works in the online platforms but also aggressively cross promote each other's works. It won't be an overstatement to say that Malayalam popular fiction is witnessing what desi writing in English experienced in the 'Chetan Bhagat' phase (ofcourse, Chetan Bhagat is still hanging around, but the many pale imitations have slowly faded out,by now!).This week, we are reviewing two books which are making waves in the social media- Mystic Mountain by Sree Parvathy and 307.47 by Ashish Ben Ajay. In more ways than one, both these works have a couple of things in common.
               Mystic Mountain is a novel which tries to explore Devil worship, Lesbian Love and adventure travel. Thara and Agnes are a lesbian couple who are madly in love with each other and desperately want to start a life together.To tide over her personal crisis, Agnes decides to go for an adventure trip to Mount Aleena with her friends but there she chances upon a mysterious church (church of insanity) and decides to go after the secret behind this abandoned Church. But little did she know that the place had been taken over by dark forces. 
            On a concept level, this theme/one-line might sound exciting.But the plain narrative and below par treatment makes this one a not-so-pleasant reading experience.
             Plagued by poor character development, a back story heavily borrowed from a Malayalam Comedy Film (the track from 'Romans'), illogical plot twists and loopholes in the narrative (the entry of Devasi Achan, the 'conveniently placed' mobile phone in the climax , the 'keys' appearing from nowhere, to name a few),'Mystic Mountain' ends up as a royal mess. The scenes depicting the Devil worship are so unimaginatively written that they end up being cringe worthy and outright boring.

On the whole, I'm giving it a 2 out of 5.

           Asish Ben Ajay's 307.47 is a work which tries to blend different genres. It has elements of horror, travelogue and mystery.The plot goes something like this-Abhisekh is a young banker who has recently got transferred to Kochi. There , he chances upon a book written by someone named Asish Ben Ajay which basically is an account of the travel which Asish and his friends had made to Munnar (Chinnacanal).Not very much later, Abhisekh and his friends also decide to go on for a pleasure trip to Munnar (Chinnacanal). In the course of the journey, Abhi soon realises that they are also going through the same experiences, as described in the book, one by one!
          Coming to the positives, this book is undoubtedly a light and easy read.For the most part, 307.47 works well as an atmospheric ,suspenseful read.
The illustrations accompanying the text deserve special mention.It did help in elevating the reading experience to a great extend.
          On the downside, the book is not devoid of flaws either.A travelogue becomes more enjoyable when it describes places we haven't been quite acquainted with.But when it's about familiar places, you don't 'feel' much about it.In that sense, it didn't quite work for me.The mystery about the 'Thamizhathy' was also quite predictable.The climax and tail end portions could have been better thought out, though!

I'm giving it a 2.7 out of 5. Asish Ben Ajay is a promising talent as far as Malayalam Pulp Fiction is concerned!

 -nikhimenon

Frederic Dard

QBR: The Wicked Go To Hell by Frederic Dard

8:31:00 AM

                                                       Noir/Thriller
                                                       152+ pages
                                                       Pushkin Vertigo (2017)
                                                       RT Rating: 3.5/5

The Verdict: 'The Wicked Go to Hell' is a classic tale of friendship, betrayal and redemption.
Synopsis: Two Convicts escape from a high security prison.The police is after them but they have succesfully deceived them so far. But there is one small issue- one of the escaped prisoners is a police mole himself.Will 
The Good:The setting is perfect, the narrative is fast paced, the suspense is terrific and the ending is quite unexpected 
The Bad:Nothing really!

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon