Saturday, August 20, 2016

"What belongs to you" by Garth Greenwell

The book tells the story of an unnamed American teacher in Russia , seeking pleasure and love from a guy Mitiko , though there are few others too. This is a story of what made Mitiko use his body to earn and survive , giving a brief glimpse into the economy and society of the country this book is based in. The story spans a number of years starting from the meeting of these two and supposedly final goodbye by the American guy when he realizes and accepts the lies and deceit that Mitiko lives by. Within this framework , the author traces the American's relation with his family , the history , the broken bonds and the forgiveness that he never spares for his father. The scene where his dad suspects about his sexual preference is both so sad and insightful for their relationship. It turns the things towards the death of it.

But what keeps you engaged in the book and much later is how you relate to the desires, the decisions we willingly make to fulfill our lust and even when others show us a way out , we know we are trapped beyond understanding in the lame pursuit. We do not own the objects of desire most times and yet we never stop to try doing that. Hugs , cuddles , kisses or sex - it all is a means sometimes to be one step closer to have the pleasure of company we seek. And how it breaks the heart again and again.

The author also writes beautifully of the fears , the guilt and the unrequited love that is between friends who one day go away forever , driven apart by their choices and how they deal with it. The teenage understanding of gay love and the disgust for the same is captured in the guy's relation with his friend K.

This short ( less than 200 pages ) book packs tales and emotions more than it appears as you begin reading. Wether you finish it slow or in one or two sittings , the book will make one recall some of our own stories and some how it is an answer to those stories left incomplete.

My rating : 4/5

I recieved this book for review from the Flipkart blogging Program

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb


Book 3 of the "Farseer Trilogy"

ISBN - 9780553565690
PAGES - 757
GENRE - Fantasy
SOURCE - eBook

AUTHOR - Robin Hobb

SYNOPSIS - King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.

But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was.


  • Not being able to think of a reply is not the same thing as accepting another's words.
  • But a living is not a life.
  • Sometimes a man doesn't know how badly he's hurt until someone else probes the wound.
  • ...sometimes it only makes one more lonely to know that somewhere else, one's friends and family are well.

FL Speak - I'm just going to assume that Hobb ran out of time and had to submit this first draft to the editors. 

Having done that, here's why I feel such a thing happened. All I found from this book is constant negativity, self doubts, sacrifices for no good reason and a mashed up climax that leaves more questions. 

You'd assume the protagonist to be wiser after two books. Apparently he isn't. He's still as selfish as ever and the only way to make him fall in line is by issuing commands that he cannot break free off and threatening to take away stuff/people he gives an iota of care about. Classic petulant child syndrome. 

This is a huge book. Pages and pages of mewling, crying, thinking about stuff that cannot be changed, the constant fear of failure and the inability to fucking stand up to anyone, anything or self. I'm sorry but I don't know who this Fitz is anymore. Yes, he's a servant of the King, a tool to be made use of, a sacrifice for the greater good. It would've made sense if he actually did something worthwhile in this book. 

I don't even want to start about the other characters. Ketricken used to be one of my favourites. Please make note of the words "used to be". The Fool, however, was a good surprise. I liked the parts where he was involved. Starling, the wandering minstrel is by far the best character of the lot. Full of life and full of flaws and with the "don't give a fucking damn" attitude. 

Don't get me wrong. The Farseer trilogy is one of the best trilogies ever. This is a beautiful tale. If only I had picked it up earlier, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it much better. However, as things stand, I'm spoiled by other grand tales by newer authors. Despite all these, I still plowed on. I still kept reading and turning pages because the end was near and it promised something spectacular. 

Oh it was spectacular alright. It was also terribly disheartening. The Elderlings? The ones who would come to save the city. Well, guess what you've to spend years to coax them to come to your aid. That just made me sad. 

"the city is in danger. Summon the Elderlings. Where's the panic button?"
"oh wait. You need to spend a couple of years to try and ask them for help while your city burned, your people slaughtered, your houses looted."

And what do we get after so much? A 5 page wrap up. How did they save everyone? No one knows. The Raiders defeated in half a page. 

And not to mention the stupid sacrifices I've had to read about. Not to mention the little tears I had to shed for the loss and heart breaks. All for the sake of this haphazard, sloppy climax. 

If only, Hobb, if only you foreshadowed a little more. 

RATING - 3/5. A good trilogy.
Picture Credit : Robin Hobb

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

Royal Assassin
Book 2 of the Farseer Trilogy

ISBN - 9780006480105
PAGES - 752
GENRE - Fantasy
SOURCE - eBook

AUTHOR - Robin Hobb

SYNOPSIS - Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.


  • No man is so dangerous as the man who cannot decide what he fears.
  • One can only walk so far from one's true self before the bond either snaps, or pulls one back.
  • It’s not the kind of work a man does that says he can be proud or not. It’s how he does it.

FL Speak - I think Robin Hobb did a far better job in this book, both at plot and character growth. 

For those of you who have read this book, tell me, did you find it tedious at times or did you nod your head through it? Did you read it as an adult going through just another fantasy or did you live it through the eyes of our 16-17 year old lead character? Authors have this extraordinary ability to weave emotions to words. They live multiple lives, shedding characters as they see fit. As readers, we often do not distinguish between the various characters, their experiences, their ages or their genders. Grave as this error might be, we fail to admit it to ourselves. 

So when I read about our young Fitz, I completely accepted that their will be lots of emotional drama. After all, every teenager has those days and it would be extremely illogical if authors had to skip those. I became his shadow. I lived his life. I felt his pain and my heart fluttered when he found his love. Like every other teen, a person spends an insurmountable amount of time mooning over their loved ones and no advice can change that. (Even though, at the age of 28, I find the process of reading those paragraphs extremely irksome and wanted nothing more than to skim to the pages where there was more action, I remember my younger days where I did the same things. Fell in love and wanted to stay there while the world had other plans for me) 

Fitz finally grows up in this book. Not to an adult yet, but he has grown beyond his years. One part brave, three parts fool. There is also considerable time spent in doubting himself, which can be quite a chore. Robin Hobb made sure that if we are to read about the ecstasy and the adventures, we have to go through the bits that sometimes lulls you to sleep. 

The ending was quite a nasty shock for me. I'm actually not looking forward to the next book. At least the first 100 pages. This is going to take all my guts. 

Did I miss something? 

RATING - 4/5
Picture Credit : Robin Hobb

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Introduction - The Conspiracy at Meru (Vikramaditya Veergatha # 2)


Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine have fought valiantly to repel the rampaging hordes from Devaloka and Patala – but Avanti has been brought to its knees. Ujjayini lies battered its citizens are scared and morale is badly shaken. Meanwhile, the barbaric Hunas and Sakas are gathering on the horizon and cracks are emerging between the allied kingdoms of Sindhuvarta.

The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.

Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?

The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.
But was the Halahala truly destroyed?
A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.
As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!
A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.

About the Author
Door-to-door salesman, copywriter, business journalist & assistant editor at The Economic Times; Shatrujeet Nath was all this before he took to writing fiction full-time. He debuted with The Karachi Deception in 2013, followed by The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series. At present, he is writing volume three of the series. Shatrujeet lives in Mumbai, but spends much of his time in the fantasy worlds of his stories.

Also by the Author:
(Click On the Cover for More Details)

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne


Book 8 of "Harry Potter"

ISBN - 9780751565355
PAGES - 330
GENRE - Fantasy (Play)
PUBLISHER- Little Brown

AUTHOR - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

SYNOPSIS - It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.


Holy fucking moaning myrtle!

They're back, you know? That boy who lived. And his freckled friend and that bossy muggle. The trio are back. But this isn't their tale. It is and yet it isn't. This is the story of kids. Of Albus Severus Potter and his friend.

I thought I had done my share of laughing and smiling and shedding tears over Potter stories. Apparently, J.K. Rowling isn't done meddling with my emotions. Harry Potter and the cursed child takes you back to London, Hogwarts, friendships, dementors and a new monstrosity. The scar hurts, love. And when the scar hurts, you-know-who what's coming.

No spoilers. You'll need to read this. Every Potterhead needs to read this. This play, this amazing play brings the magic back in front of your eyes. I can only shudder with uncontrolled excitement at how much more awesome this would've been if it was turned into a full fledged novel. Brings back memories, it does. HP was first released in '97. By the time Goblet of Fire came out in 2000, I was in 7th standard waiting outside a bookshop since 7am in the morning with a very grumpy dad to be the first one to read it. When the last book came out in '07, I was 20 and got a one way ticket to Bangalore to read that book first.

12 years later, I'm 29 but the kid in me is still the first year in Hogwarts. Harry is now 40. He has aged far faster than me but then he was always the special one. This play will take you back to the past like a time turner, make you meet some old friends and even older foes, turn your stoic face into an emotional mess and make you wish you had one more page to read.

Read it like a play. Read it like it is meant to be. Savor the words for you don't know when you're going to read them again. Feel the magic and trust in the boy who lived. 

Rating - A solid 5/5
Picture credit : Pottermore

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Someday .. with or without you by Bhanu Pratap Singh

Someday.. from the cover and the blurb looks like to be a usual love story , perhaps a love triangle too. But fortunately this one is bit more than that. The book opens in a parallel track of two different people , in different years narrating their version of events. There is an obvious overlap but for most part , the story moves on its own pace and hooking the reader to this heady mix of past , present and the characters in the book. The book is almost an accurate version of relationships , tangled emotions and messed up ego of the current generation. You will see a part of some one known in the characters described , without judgement of course.

The story has some loopholes , a little too much cheesiness at times but perhaps I have heard equally weird tales in reality so I could accept certain events as it is and move on. I do have a certain disregard for the kisses and making out scenes but only once did I feel the scene was out of flow. Rest of the story is pretty engaging and quite believable in its premise. What totally made this book a worthy read was the point where the past and present overlap and we see Dave go back to face his past , the consequences of his one mistake in order to sort out his present love story. There the things get too interesting for me. That is when I actually smiled and gave an imaginary thumbs up to the author for this story.

The book has its own flaws , it is not too refined at places and seem like any other indian fiction we come across. But it has the potential to make you forgive those flaws by the time you finish the book.

My rating : 3.5 / 5

Do give this one a try. You will not regret reading this.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb


Book 1 of "Farseer Trilogy"

ISBN : 9780006480099
PAGES : 480
GENRE : Fantasy

AUTHOR : Robin Hobb

SYNOPSIS : (From Goodreads)

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.


  • When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.
  • Don’t do what you can’t undo, until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.
  • Nothing takes the heart out of a man more than the expectation of failure.
  • We left. Walking uphill and into the wind. That suddenly seemed a metaphor for my whole life.


Robin Hobb had been on my list for far too long. So when I picked up this book today, I promised myself to savour every word slowly. That didn't happen. I couldn't stop turning over pages. 

This is a phenomenal beginning to a trilogy. The beauty lies in its simplicity. There's no overlying complex magical system. What this book offers is a simple clichéd tale of a bastard unrecognised and ditched. As most fantasy tales go, this is a coming of age grand story of one Fitz. Court intrigue, bondings and assassinations. Fantasy books often has a wider story arc which teaches you loyalty, bravery and a sense of kinship. This book was nothing less. If you're a fan of Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" and Tad Williams "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn", you'd love this one. 

Without going into spoilers, this book is everything that you'd find in any coming of age setting. Young love, greater duty, conflict of emotions, a sense of independency as well as all those figths you always wished you found in such a novel. Robin Hobb decided to give Fitz a tough life and she didn't look back. More often than not, it felt Fitz was more of a puppet to be played along instead of living like every other teenager would. But then, bastards always have had a tough life. 

There are lots of areas for growth. Character wise as well as the story. This is just the beginning. Whatever adventures lie ahead, it will be fun to read about Fitz again.

My Rating : 5/5 (I've been told I'm generous with my ratings)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes


Book 1 of "Me Before You"

ISBN :  9780670026609
PAGES : 369
GENRE : Romance

AUTHOR : Jojo Moyes

SYNOPSIS : (from the back cover)

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.


  • “...I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”
  • “Push yourself. Don't Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”
  • “I will never, ever regret the things I've done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”


Contrary to the very suggestive title, the cursive writing giving it some more emphasis, this is not a love story. Indeed I've read better love stories and I've read better stories about love in other non romance books.

I repeat, this is not a love story.

This is the story of Lou and Will. A story, shove the love aside. A beautiful story. The blurb of the book already gives you an idea what's to be expected. Sadly, there's nothing else. Yes, Lou enters his life like a burst of colours. Yeah, no. She gets a job as a care giver to William. Now before you lot scream spoiler, let me tell you this happens in the first ten pages so you can kindly fuck off now.

Lou is dangerously plain. When I say plain, I mean without any ambition in life. Will is a has been who has done (almost) everything before that ill-fated accident. Naturally, they bond. Who wouldn't bond with someone who's their polar opposite? *looks around*

What the readers and Lou don't know is that Will is also extremely determined. Basically, even though the story is realistic and beautifully written, it still failed to keep me constantly captivated. It is more of a TFIOS meets the Bucket List. It also failed to make me cry. That almost never happens. I bawl at everything. I cry like the Niagara falls had an orgasm and blame it on the sudden sandstorm in my room. This worried me. Other reviews suggested me to keep loads of tissues ready.

I'm giving this a 4 because it's a good story.
I picked it up and I finished it and I moved on to the next one.

Should you read this?
Yes, it's in the news.
Is it worth your time?
Yes unless there's food or sex involved.
Will I watch the movie?
For the love of mother of dragons, Yes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Excerpt-Lazlo's Revenge

Excerpt –Chapter 1: Bukovina

August 1914
Czernovitz, Bukovina
Austro-Hungarian Empire

Miklos Floznik

I approached the first houses, gasping for breath, horrified to see the destruction being wrought by round upon round of artillery fusillades. There was no cover to be found. Dazed, I continued running, desperately trying to save myself. I passed perhaps a dozen or more homes laid nearly flat. Mutilated bodies lying all about and the wounded wailing like nothing I had ever heard. As I neared the outskirts of the city, the shelling began again as suddenly as it had stopped. Cannonade pounded in the distance. The earth trembled ferociously at my feet. Turning a corner behind what still stood of the only remaining wall of a large stone building, another round of explosions pounded the city as I leaped down into a now-exposed basement filled with debris from the collapsed upper floors—only one wall and half another standing. Hope drained from me. Each deafening blast shook my senses, sending shards of glass and cracking timbers high into the air with a sickening burst.

Darkness fell quickly in the gloomy gray of dark as I slipped over a broken wall of stones and fell into the pit of the decimated structure. I pushed tightly into a corner of what was once someone’s home, protected from the drenching rain by a small portion of what remained of a badly damaged wall hanging precariously overhead—a welcome but uncertain shelter in the midst of chaos. I pushed tightly back against the cold stone walls on either side, finding as much safety as possible against a new round of explosions that pounded above and around. Each blast shook the skeletal rubble of the house, wrenching stone and wood from tenuous perches and sending more flying debris into the desolate hole that would be their final resting place . . . and perhaps mine as well. I was trapped—I couldn’t move for fear of being crushed in that dreadful place or being shelled to death outside. I pulled my knees to my chin…all I could think to do was pray…and as I prayed…tears came but did not assuage my fear.

Mercifully, with the darkness, silence also descended—even warriors need their rest. Only screams of the wounded and desperate pleas of survivors who searched frantically through the rubble for lost loved ones pierced the cold, wet, bleak night. Soon, darkness also shrouded them in silence, all but the woeful cries of the dying calling out miserably in their hopeless plight—my hopelessness too, I thought. In my corner hideaway, I could see nothing but the black of night illuminated only by the flickering dance of fires burning what remained. I knew without seeing that only rubble lay before me, and there was no hope to be found.

Bombardment of the trenches and the city paved the way for the Russian ground troops, armored cars pulling cannons, and the dreaded Cossack horsemen. I knew they would come—surely, by morning they would come. Everything in their path would be destroyed, everyone who resisted would be killed, and all others would be taken prisoner. There was no doubt. It was their way— what Colonel Eduard Fischer and the Hungarian Army had come to Bukovina to prevent, what I bravely thought we could accomplish was lost. I had not even seen a Russian, but I knew there was no hope of saving anyone. The Kingdom of Bukovina was doomed, and surely none of Austria-Hungary would be safe. With the Hungarian Army defeated and the stronghold city of Czernovitz overrun, no one remained to save us. Even Colonel Fischer might be dead, leaving no leader to stand boldly and hold the remnant together.

In the barren darkness, my youthful excitement as a proud Hungarian soldier on a mission to save the Kingdom of Bukovina, and ultimately the empire, suddenly struck me as a foolish notion. Wearing my uniform once made me very proud, but now I was only frightened and angry. My comrades and I were assured that victory would quickly prevail, but war and death tragically became very real, fearful, foreboding, and final. I questioned myself: Was I a coward to run? Do I really know what bravery is? Do I really know what all these good people are dying for? Do I know what this war is all about? Do I even care about Jews? After all, these people in Bukovina are Jews, many of them. Are they worth the death of so many fresh, hopeful young Hungarian and Austrian men? Are they worth my life?

My head swirled with doubts. My heart ached for answers I didn’t have. Life became too real, too fast. My tortured mind flashed back to the wretched face of the too-young boy, dead in the trench, and the unknown soldier whose bloated corpse had lifted my escape. I sat in my wretched corner and questioned why I had come to such a place—why anyone would engage in such brutality.

Was this worth it…for them…for us…for anyone?

After being drenched for nearly all of three days, the rain finally stopped. The choking smell of charred remains of buildings, gunpowder, and the rotting dead hung heavily in the air. I wished for the rain again, to dilute the ghastly stench. Time slipped slowly by. The dying must have passed through death’s mercy in the eerie silence and the wounded attended to, for as I listened—no sound. Strange, I thought, that in the midst of all this evil, there should be silence. I knew it could not last. Fear grabbed my throat again. My impulse was to get up and go, take action, do something, anything, but my mind held me back—there was nowhere to go, no escape, no hope. The Russian Cossacks would be here by morning—nothing to do but hide and wait, then fight to my death, to salvage whatever honor there might be in resisting.

Below the woeful mute of night, I crouched and cowered. Shivering in fear, my mind drifted back to happier days in Budapest when, as a young boy, I…

Just then!

Something fell on the far side of the rubble, sounding as if it came from behind the largest pile of debris—perhaps another dislodged stone. I leaned forward to hear and peered vainly into the darkness as my heart leaped in my chest and immense fear gripped me. The worst of my thoughts seized me—the Russians were coming in the night and rooting out survivors! Desperate, I slowly reached to my side, and silently drew out my pistol. Another sound. Someone was moving, and not more than ten meters from me.

I raised my pistol and aimed in the direction of the sounds, I was prepared to shoot anything on sight, at any slight movement—my hands trembled against the trigger. A faint light appeared, flickering behind the rubble, like the light of a small candle casting a very large, daunting shadow around me, barely visible as it slowly danced in the eerie candlelight, nearly scaring the life out of me as my finger tightened on the cold trigger.

Crying—quiet, sorrowful weeping—as if the person hidden by the pile of debris knew she had to be very quiet but could not help herself…clearly a woman, perhaps a very young woman, maybe just a girl. I was still…very still…and listened for perhaps fifteen or even twenty minutes, until the light wavered and died. The soft whimpering continued for a long, long time in the fearful dark that kept me huddled closely against the walls of my corner as though I wished to disappear in its grasp. I would wait. By the dim light of morning, I would see who my companion in that hellacious hole might be. Though I resisted, sometime later I dozed, exhausted, dreamily wishing for the safety of my home in Budapest.

I woke to the constant patter of a dreary rain as the breaking dawn cast a ghastly glow over the destruction strewn around and about me. My eyes fixed toward the sound and the light of a few hours earlier; I listened but…only quiet and stillness…no sound but the steady falling rain.


*special arrangement with the author