Anthology

Love,Murder & Mayhem

4:34:00 PM

- Cosmic tales of the heart gone deadly wrong
I have had very rigid mindset about sci-fic and have avoided it mostly. Perhaps over the years , we have crossed a lot of boundaries that were once considered fictional. This book came at such a tone when I was willing to try new genre and ideas. Even without that , I suppose I would have loved this book.

The stories are not just about aliens or machines but about superheros , the other early species , the humans and the feelings that all these share. There are tales of co-existence , of battles , of covert operations , gossip magazines and the extra ordinary plot twists. My favorite story is about an old robot that surrenders herself when her master's son does in an accident. Another story I enjoyed a lot is of a superhero mom and her husband trying to keep her work a secret while managing 3 kids. There is a certain relatable touch to all the stories -  the human touch and the accidental hum like emotional reactions.

This book was a lovely ride. And the one that totally broke my break from reading. Do try this one.

My rating : 4/5

Anthology

The Garden of Love, edited by Anuj Kumar

11:01:00 PM


They say any person who has fallen in love, and felt its joys and its pangs, will turn into a poet. Not all poems need to be written though. This collection has 40 poems under the umbrella of love and its various shades. These 40 poems come from the pen of 4 poets as well, so they add their own hues to the poems.

How each reader reads and interprets poetry is different. Some might see depth in simplicity, some will see simplicity in depth. It's quite difficult to review poetry for this reason. If I were to pick up a few poems as favorite from this collection, it would be these...

Of Anuj Kumar's ten poems, I liked Jar of Hearts the best. The poem has the emotion of heartbreak penned down nicely. It's something that many would be able to relate to, I feel, even if the he and she in the poem were interchanged.

The poem titled Yes, I Will is my favorite from the poems penned by Maliny Mohan. The rhyme doesn't seem forced and the flow from line to line is beautiful, just like the happy emotions of love, one that seems forever, that that poem talks of.

Akash Deep Gupta's verses are longer than that of the other three poets. Yet the poem I like the best from his 10 verses would probably be his shortest. One Day portrays a love that remains the same no matter what changes. I liked that portrayal.

From Abhijeet Singh Yadav's poems, perhaps the one I remember is The Text. I leave you to read it interpret, but I thought it could be interpreted at least a couple of different ways.

I like the concept of the book. Love is an emotion that has both a good side and a bad one. And to split the book into poems that relate to both was quite nice. There are some things that didn't work from my perspective. The first is that there were missing letters from the poem titles. Perhaps I got a bad print, I'm not sure. Second, there wasn't a demarcation between the sections of each poet, so I didn't whose poem I was reading. Thirdly, some of the poems, the rhyme felt forced, or the words out of place. Apart from a few poems, I don't think there were poems that wowed me.

I liked the title of the book, and the cover art that went with that title well. And there were definitely few poems that I liked a lot. Like I said earlier, each reader interprets poetry differently, so I do feel the collection would appeal to other readers more than it did to me.


CreateSpace

A Perfect Murder and Other Stories, by S. R. Nair

11:16:00 PM



There’s a charm to short stories that novels may not always have. It expresses a tale in very few words, and to make sure no threads are left hanging is a challenge. I took this set of short stories as I felt that the collection would give me a welcome change from reading novels. The title A Perfect Murder also appealed to the crime fiction lover in me.

Perhaps it was the title, but I began reading with the assumption that it was a collection of short stories in the crime fiction genre (which is rare). The book has fourteen short stories, but they don’t stick to a particular genre. From the fourteen, there were few favorites, and there were stories that didn’t appeal to me as much.

My favorite story from the collection was iPad. The story is perhaps the shortest one in the book, but it ranks right at the top because of the emotional ending. That the ending was also quite unexpected only added to the quality of the piece.

Salma’s Fate is another story I liked. There might be a Salma we know or whose story we may have read in the news. But this story, thankfully, has a positive twist to it instead of a negative one.

The story Visa for America felt familiar, like I had read it before somewhere. But it ended unlike how I thought it would. The love story still had a chance for a happy ending, and I was thankful for that.

Other stories that I liked were The Soothsayer, The Grandson, and Seema.

The stories not only cover a variety of genres, but also many themes that are quite common to see. There’s a mother-in-law who wants a grandson, and doesn’t accept the granddaughter though she had daughters of her own too. There’s a man who divorces his wife over the phone because she went against his father. There’s a lovelorn man who still wants to be with the old “crush” even though he’s married. These are characters that seem familiar or real. The author puts each story across quite well.

I like stories that leave something to the imagination. But most of the stories here had an enormous amount of detail. Though that helped to bring the scene to life, it didn’t quite manage to engage me as a reader. The title story, I felt, was a bit too long (though a perfect murder would need planning, I suppose). There aren’t many twists either. You know what might happen, and more often than not, that happens.

I’d read the collection to enjoy some simple, almost realistic stories. It’s a one-time read, but not a quick read. I took longer than I thought I would to finish it. 

I thank the author for sending me a copy to peruse and review.

Aditya Iyenger

Palace of Assassins by Aditya Iyengar

12:54:00 AM

As Ashwatthama, the lone survivor of the Kaurava camp, slowly regains consciousness, he realizes, to his horror, that he has been condemned to a life of immortality and leprosy by Krishna, the mastermind behind his opponents’ victory. Burning with hatred for the Pandavas for killing his friend Duryodhana, and stricken
with anger at his own fate, he vows to seek revenge.

When he hears of an infallible gemstone that promises to restore his mortality and cure his leprosy – and allows him to exact vengeance – he is determined to go to any length to acquire it. But he finds himself facing an impossible choice, for his quest could result in the death of the woman he loves.



I had read and reviews Aditya's first book The thirteenth day and I had mentioned that this guy has a knack of spinning very realistic accounts from the mythologies. He has done the same with Ashwatthama this time. The book starts from the day after the war has ended  , the curse placed has taken effect and Ashwatthama lies alone in the desert to deal with his immortality and leprosy. What begins from here is a purely fictional yet quite interesting story of his revenge , love and the a lot of realizations of the aftermath of choices. By all accounts this one is a fast , engaging read with almost no flaws. As a lover of thriller / adventure I relished this one and it was rarely that I felt  I am reading a mythology book. 

Aditya's writing is taut , the story has good pace and twists and the characters well sketched. There is no moment that the story feels dull. I quite enjoyed the monologues that go on in Ashwatthama's head about his past and present , with a certain voice of sarcasm and wit thrown in. It is the kind of story and writing i expected from Aditya based on his first book. 

But this is totally fictional tale that has some refernece from Mahabharata makes it a little hard to love. If one expects the real , researched tale of Ashwatthama, one might be disappointed. If you treat it as just another fictional book , then the lead character needs a bit more flesh. At the end of the book , I had more sympathies with Ashwatthama but could not fully cheer for his victory either.

My Rating : 3.5/5

Buy the book here

Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

3:35:00 PM



The sleepwalker might appear slow in the beginning but somehow that works favorably for this story. There is dual narration though it is not clear till the end who is the second narrator.

This is a story of a mother and wife who disappears one night. She has a known history of sleepwalking hence everyone assumes she has walked out of the house that night and either got hurt or killed. The body surfaces after months of the actual incident and all the while the daughters and husband deal with the situation in their own ways , slowly unraveling and barely functional. The case is being worked by a detective who was a friend of the mother from her sleep clinic and now gets involved with the daughter.

The author has researched well about the disorder and various ways that the sleep disorders manifest in people. The way it affects the family is handled subtly in the narration. What I find very touching is the way out understanding and anger for our parents change as we know more and more about their life. I wished so many times that parents talked more or elaborated more but perhaps their instinct to protect us are too strong.

I was totally hooked to the book till I finished it. It was gripping , heart warming and surprisingly sad in its own way.

My rating : 4/5 

apocalypse

The Girl with all the gifts by M R Carey

11:47:00 PM



I rarely (can) read the books picked for group reading. Or even as part of challenge , I do not read out of my comfort zone genres. But something about this hooked me from the moment I read the blurb. The story is of a group of zombies ( who are basically in human kids bodies ) being kept together as prisoners in an experimental scientific base camp.

Meline is the brightest of this  set of zombies who adores one of her teacher like nothing else. She dreams of only being together with the teacher and to win her approval for everything she does. Life takes a turn when these both have to run for their survival along a few other casts.

The reason that the book surprises you is because it does not reveal the intent or history of the people who set the camp immediately. It takes time building the suspense and by then you are intrigued enough. The way Meline choses her upbringing over her natural instincts and proves to be an ally in this war zone is remarkable.

I totally enjoyed this book , even when the end seems a little dark.

My rating : 4/5

PS - I hear that the movie is very good too. 

bookish

The Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz

1:21:00 AM



This book is originally in Spanish , translated to english by Lucia Graves who has translated most of his works to english. I mention the translator since a messed up translation has ruined many a books. So this book is not just brilliant in its plot , it's writing , the intrigue and the characters but also that even in English, it has some amazing quotes and poetic , beautiful passages.

The story starts with a boy of 10 who picks the last book by an unknown author Julian Carax. Soon he comes to know little bit about the author's life and when some one wants to take the book away from him to destroy it, he wants to know why. As much as he is curious , he is also baited by men and destiny to go on a journey to find about Carax and to protect the last copy of his book. Soon he , his friends and his life gets tangled with people from Carax's life, concluding with both the lives almost a mirror to each. As it is said in the book , a reader mirrors what he reads and vice versa, it almost feels surreal and magical, this impossible tale of love and hatred.

Needless to say, I was hooked to this book within the first two chapters. It took me 3 days to read this book and I am thankful there was weekend that let me spend so much time reading. I felt like Daniel , trying to unravel this author and to know why some one hates him so much to destroy all his mentions and words. This was a brilliant tale with so many layers , human emotions and everything tied to beautifully in the end. Am amazed everytime I read of a story spanning generations and common folks with their own set of belief and fates so closely linked that it's no less than a sorcery to come up with such a web. This book is a similar web you will lose yourself gladly.

A must read for all book lovers.

My rating : 5 ⭐

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