Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Agniputr by Vadhan

Last year I read Shatru by Vadhan and I fell in love with the character. So when I got the chance to review this book , I was hoping I would be entertained same way. From the moment I started the book , I was hooked. This book was a great help in curing my reading block.



Agniputr is a weapon , the only way to get rid of the demon that has been invoked in the earth's realm by a tantrik. Born out of blood of Surya family, it can only be contained by heir of the same clan, who now is a lawyer far away from home , busy seducing women and earning money. The first attempt to destroy it is ruined by treachery but it does manage to control and hide it from evil eyes. But now , it grows stronger and it is bidding time to unleash all its power and destroy all life on the planet. Using a greedy politician's resources and mind , the tantrik is back to the castle where it all started. The plot is not as simple as it appears in the skeletal structure. As soon as you think the story is on predictable path , the author brings a beautiful twist . The end was supposed to be smooth and easily drawn about but the tables turn there too. How much I hate to wait for next part !

Lovers of thrillers / sci fiction or fantasy will equally like this book. There is a good research done on setting the scientific explanations of some of the phenomenon whether related or not in the larger scheme. Spirituality / ancient wisdom is slowly being proven right by science and we can not ignore it now. The book binds both together beautifully.

My rating : 5/5  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Faster , Smarter , Higher by Utkarsh Rai



This book reached me after I had gone through a rough phase at work and the first thing I thought while reading this was , how much years have I put myself behind by not noticing all these things around me. This simple written , well organized book should be made into mandatory reading every time you jump the professional ladder and to prepare yourself for the same.

The book is divided into sections - one for each player in the office, starting with yourself. You , the manager , the team , the colleagues , the manager's friends and lastly the manager's boss - the book has advice on tackling all of these and of any attitude or ethics.  Each chapter ends with quote from different business leaders and whether you read the book in a flow or random topics , the quotes fit well every where. Reading this book resolved some of my queries that I was hoping to voice out some day to my boss or to ask my mentor without looking stupid. Thanks to this book , I now have some more relevant content to fill the gaps when I am in a face to face meeting with anyone in office. I specially benefited a lot from the first section since it taught me how I was not using my own skills and networks in optimum way.

I sure need to re read the book in some months , just to make sure I am on the right track in m professional journey. A very good book for starting to work on oneself , to change and to aspire for a successful and happy time at work.

My rating : 4/5

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Speaking Ghost of Rajpur by Priyonkar Dasgupta


The moment I saw the cover , I felt certain eagerness to read this book and my eagerness was rewarded enough in the opening chapters -  vacations with cousin and his friends , one of them trying to fit in with the rest , the tales one has heard and the feelings of reality being tad better ! The little town of Rajpur was so picturesque that I felt transported to the very roads these kids walked and planned their adventures. This is the story of 5 guys - 3 of them cousins and two friends of the eldest one Joy. The book has probably all the elements that make this a good book to read on lazy summer afternoons when you are not allowed to step out. This had the charm and feel of my favorite series - the famous five without a pet and any girl. There are video game parlors , the fairs , the picnic , the thrill of new discoveries , forbidden pleasures and the close knit warmth of a small town and their kids.

While i loved the lazy town , the descriptions that probably took me back to my childhood home an summers , after a point it felt too stretched and i wanted the story to move forward a bit faster. More so , I felt that the title of the book gave me too much hopes and i so much waited to find a ghost or an actual mystery in there. The end was a little surprise but then it fizzled out for me a little too fast.

Overall, I liked the book but this one definitely tested my patience !

My rating : 3/5

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra


I read and liked Vibha's last book a lot, which I just realized never got the review post I had planned to do about it. When Vibha asked me to read and review her new book, I was glad for the opportunity since I trust very few Indian authors to make me like a chick-lit / romance book.

Glitter and Gloss actually has a glittering cover in golden sparkle that so reminded me of my school art projects. Misha is an independent , careless and spirited make up artist who dreams of love and brides equally. She is very good at her job , which is her only purpose and dream till she meets Akshay , the rich sexy businessman , the one who is so unlike her past failed relationships that it is hard for her bestie to believe. Add in the house friend of Misha -  the perfect friend and roommate worth living with a guy for.

The book is fun , very easy to like and to believe. The situations are mostly real , the conversations free flowing , characters well drawn and for once if you do not at all question the chances of such a couple , you will enjoy the book. This story feels so true and one can relate to most of the drama of a working girl trying to manage her job and family ; both hers and the guy's family efficiently , to constantly seek approvals from others about your life choices and how one can be so blinded by self criticism that we sometimes hurt those who love us.

Though I would have liked to read a little more about the work Misha does or look at her taking a responsible stand for herself but in all , this book is perfect for a lazy evening or late night reading binge !

My rating : 3.5/5




Friday, August 26, 2016

What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

Some books trap you with just the cover. Then you read a random story , totally not unrelated and bamn! The tone is set. This book will entice you into flipping pages , dreading what you will read and trying to find some reason to excuse the narrator. Perhaps you will find those reasons , perhaps it will take time to sink in.

The author's first book has been on my list from a long time and reading this made me wonder why I did not pick it up already. The book starts with the unnamed narrator in prison , telling in hints she has done a crime that people will not forget and forgive easily. But first people need to kNow her whole story from the beginning, and that she tells. The broken narratives , like flashes work so beautifully here to both move the story and to keep up the tension in the plot. The happy and sad mix of events do not at any time let the knowledge slip from you that the end will not be good.

This is one of the books that make reading worthy habit , it makes waking up early in morning to finish the book a good decision. The author really cracks open the psychology of unhealthy childhood , the love denied and the way past creeps into your head and ruins the present. Without saying further , i will just say this is a brilliant book and a much brilliant author.

My rating : 5/5

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


ASSASSIN'S QUEST

Book 3 of the "Farseer Trilogy"

ISBN - 9780553565690
FIRST PUBLISHED - Jan '98
PAGES - 757
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Spectra
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.

QUOTES - 

  • 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
FIRST PUBLISHED - March, 1997
PAGES - 752
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHER - Voyager
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.

QUOTES -


  • 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)






VICTORY IS TEMPORARY. THE BATTLE IS ETERNAL.

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.



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