Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Stranger Tides - Tim Powers


ISBN - 978-0-06-209453-7

AUTHOR - Tim Powers

BEST-SELLERS - Last Call, Three Days to Never, Declare etc

SYNOPSIS - Abroad the Vociferous Carcmichael puppeteer John Chandagnac is sailing toward Jamaica to clain his stolen birthright from an unscrupulous uncle when the vessel is captured.....by pirates! Offered a chance by Captain Phil Davies to join the seafaring band or die, Chandagnac assumes the name John Shandy and a new life as a brigand. But more than swashbuckling sea battles and fabulous plunder await the novice buccaneer and on the roiling Caribbean waters - for treachery and powerful vodum sorcery are coins in this dark new world. As for the love of beautiful, magically imperiled Beth Hurwood, Shandy will set sail on even stranger tides, following a savage, ghost-infested pirate king Blackbeard and a motley crew of the living and the dead to the cursed nightmare banks of the fabled Fountain of Youth.

EXCERPT - The crack of a pistol shot cut through the rising babble, and Chandagnac saw the man who'd advocated abandoning ship rebound from the capstan barrel and sprawl to the deck, his head smashed gorily by a pistol ball. Looking away from the corpse, Chandagnac saw that it was usually good-natured Chaworth who held the smoking pistol.

"You'll  go to the boats when i order it!" Chaworth shouted. "No gun blew up, nor's there a fire! Just smoke -"

As if to verify the statement, a dozen violently coughing men came stumbling up the companionway through the smoke, their clothes and faces blackened with something like soot.

FL Speak - I hope you folks made the connection already. Yes, this is THE BOOK that inspired the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Although the plot looks the same, let me tell you this book is vastly different from the movie.

Then story begins with John Chandagnac upon a ship where he meets Beth Hurwood. Thanks to her father abroad the ship, the ship is soon captured by pirates. After injuring the pirate captain, he is given a choice to either join them or die at the spot. Thus, John's life as a pirate begins. Even though the name Jack is similar to Jack Sparrow we have all come to love and remember, John Chandagnac or John Shandy is a completely different character yet a pleasant one. Even as he plans an escape from them, his life as a pirate is sealed when he rescues the pirate captain from the clutches of the Royal Navy fleet and effectively destroys the ship when he had a chance to live as a free man. As his friendship with the captain and Beth grows, he begins to grasp the bare beginnings of knowledge of magic in the old world the pirates practise in the Caribbeans.

The book jumps from one adventure to another when Blackbeard joins them and takes them to the fabled Fountain of Youth. Only then he realise that Beth Hurwood's father, who masterminded the capture of his previous ship has a far sinister plan that involves voodoo and his daughter and Jack vows to protect her at all costs. As the confrontations begin, Mr. Hurwood's apprentice becomes more powerful in magic and kidnaps Beth and leaves behind them an angry and a clueless crew. As Jack and his captain rush to get Beth back, they encounter ghost ships and their crew who were lifted up from the dead by sorcery.

Towards the end, it is realised that Blackbeard is far more cunning and diabolical than he was portrayed and his quest for immortal life can only be checked if John had paid heed to the knowledge he had gathered across his journeys.

This is one fast-paced exciting book. Pirates always manages to send my blood racing through my veins. A powerful book with a powerful plot and you would want to finish the book in one-go!

My Rating - 3/5. A recommended book.

PRICE - INR 285/- from Harper Collins Publication House (Paperback - 2011)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mountain of Black Glass - Tad Williams


(volume Three of OTHERLAND)

Read about Book One ----> HERE <----
Read about Book Two ----> HERE <----

ISBN - 9781-1-85723-990-4

AUTHOR - Tad Williams

BEST-SELLERS - the 'Memory, Sorrow and Thorn' saga

SYNOPSIS - Otherland is the realm of the imagination where anything can happen, a triumph of technology, a virtual world of enormous complexity and possibility. But Otherland is owned and controlled by a secret cartel, The Brotherhood, whose motives remain shrouded in mystery.

Trapped in this extra-ordinary world, the quest of a small band of companions to unlock the secrets of Otherland is running perilously short of time. For the Brotherhood has finally set a date for the Ceremony when they will make their bid for immortality. The journey will lead them through strangely unfinished land and an endlessly labyrinthine house. They will suffer the ferocity of the siege if Troy and battle against the might of the Egyptian gods on their journey to find the Mountain of the Black Glass. But even there, the danger will not be over. Otherland's darkest secret, an entity known only as the Other, awaits.

EXCERPT - For a moment Jongleur was off-balance. Did Jiun suspect some kind of double-cross? Or - and here was a truly disturbing thought - did the Chinese magnate, with his vast resources, know something that even Jongleur did not know. But to hesitate could only fuel suspicion, if Jiun was feeling such a thing. 'Ofcourse. I had planned that we would all partake of the Ceremony together, but no favour is too great for one who has given me.... and the project, of course.....so much timely support.'

FL Speak -  The chase is finally on. Tad Williams starts the beginning of the end with this volume. The band of unlikely survivors finally meet again with the exception of Gardiner and Fredericks who are still on their adventurous journey as they try to find the others. Renie becomes the unofficial leader of the group and decides to go after the lighter that the killer took with him. The lighter, if you remember, can be used to open gates between worlds. Williams' imagination soars with the worlds he creates and even though some of the different worlds look straight out of a kids' drawing book, its the accurate depiction of the surroundings and characters that makes them so real.

Meanwhile, Dread is still using Li's sim and before long Martine falls into his clutches. As Rennie and !Xabbu try to free their friend, Fredericks and Gardiner drop smack into the middle of a civil war in ancient Egypt. I loved the way Williams was gradually leading the way for a final showdown. Looks like all roads lead to Troy. It was nice to see blind Martine finally able to use the simulation to her advantage as she changed Renie's sim into a man and turned !Xabbu's baboon to a human. As the group head over to Rome, Paul, still battling his loss of memory, makes his way to Troy as Odysseus.

In the real world, the Australian police finally has a whiff of Dread and they try to find clues that would lead to the capture of the serial killer. Meanwhile Fredericks and Gardiner manage to escape Egpyt with the help of the Circle members and stumble into troy where Gardiner is the famous  Achilles. As the people gather in Troy, Gardiner, Fredericks and Paul are stuck in the Greek camp while Renie and the others are behind enemy lines. The final chapter is as exciting as it can get. Dread manages to get back to Otherland and deals with a final shock that sends shock reeling among all the members of the squad and all the members of the Grail Brotherhood as well.

Stunning ending to the third book and the story is now poised for an epic finale. Tad Williams story telling is getting better and better with every single volume and if you still haven't read this epic sci-fi series, you are seriously missing something.

My Rating - 4.2 out of 5.

PRICE - INR 450/- from Orbit publication house (Paperback - 2009) 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chasing Harry Winston - by Lauren Weisberger

CHASING HARRY WINSTON: From the best selling author of The Devil Wears Prada which is now a motion picture by the same name featuring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.

Promotional Movie Poster
AUTHOR: Lauren Weisberger

BEST SELLERS: Lauren is best known for her first book, now movie - The Devil Wears PradaEveryone Worth Knowing, Last Night At Chateu Marmont and other short stories. Chasing Harry Winston is Lauren's third novel. 

*Disclaimer* This is a SERIOUS CHICK-LIT. Okay, you have been warned. If you still want to know more about it, you can read further. 

SYNOPSIS: This book covers the lives of three soon-to-be 30 year old women who are best friends as well. Meet Best Friend no. 1. Leigh: Annoyingly perfect, with a perfect boyfriend who is as yummy as a chocolate bar - too sweet. She also suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. BF no. 2. Emmy: Newly dumped by an older guy who went after a 20-something chick. Emotional, Miss Goody-two-shoes, strictly monogamous. And last but not the least, meet BF no. 3. Adriana - Brazilian beauty has everything - I mean, daddy's money and men. All she wants is to get a Harry Winston on her ring finger before she turns 30. (I thought Harry Winston was a guy :P Actually the title is confusing. It's a brand of oh-so-sophisticated jewellery). And these three women are on a mission to do something drastic before they hit 30. 
So what the hell is their problem after they turn 30? - you ask. Emmy wants to break the image of being monogamous and sleep with every man from every continent (Seriously?). Adriana wants to turn monogamous - ahem - get married to one man and settle down. And Leigh? Okay, she has a perfect man but  she is not in love with him and finds it in a very bad bad boy Jesse Chapman who is also a writer whose book she is editing. (Sorry readers - sometimes unbiased opinions become impossible. I kinda avoid reading such books - million others like them - but since I am a book worm - I can devour anything written. Sorry about that rant ;) )

"A few bad apples is no reason not to visit the orchard." 

The girls (!) ultimately get what they want.

EXCERPT: "Leigh did what any sane female faced with such an e-mail would do: deleted it to resist the temptation of replying, cleared her trash to resist the temptation of recalling it, and then called tech support to restore all her recently deleted e-mails." (Check out the quotes here)

MSM Speaks: There's a reason that I dislike chick literature even though I am one - a chick that is. NO, you can still read it. Men - stay away. It's not good for you. So, I picked this book more out of curiosity - thinking that since The Devil Wears Prada is an entertaining movie, may be this would turn out to be nice. And I kinda like shoes. Lame I know - but fair enough. Unfortunately, all I could find out was that this was dreadfully similar to Sex and the City. Yes, I saw it. Jeez, I always thought women have better work other than shoes, men and diamonds. 

Getting back to point - the story keeps revolving until the half of the book about how Leigh dislikes any kind of deviation from her routines, how Emmy cannot get over Duncan whom she dated for 5 freakin' years and how Adriana makes every man drool - sigh. I finished this book in two weeks! That's the longest time I have taken to read a 280 page book. Ultimately, they get drunk and resolute to do what they must do before they turn 30. Leigh realizes that she is attracted to her writer and does not love the man who proposed to her. Emmy sleeps with 4 men (I am not sure about the number) and finally finds the one. Adriana settles for a super popular rich Director Toby who gives her a Harry Winston (Kill me already!)

Do not pick this up if you don't like cheesy, mushy and girly stuff. Honestly, there are some good romance novels too, written by women which are FAR better than this. I may not be a writer, but I believe I have brains - sharp ones, which I do not want to fry over something like this. If you must, L.J.Smith, Richelle Mead etc. are some very good female writers who write really nicely. I think I have made a point here. This  book was panned by critics and was voted "#1 Worst Book of 2008" by Entertainment Weekly. True that.

On a positive note - if you are really depressed with your life and feel like dying - pick this up. It will make you laugh, if not for it's content - definitely for it's lameness and *rolling the eyes* moments. :D See, I am not that cruel. :P My rating: 2.5/5 only because it can actually lift your mood and make you realize that sometimes life shouldn't be taken too seriously. (I don't know what I said. But I am being generous).

You can know more about Lauren and her upcoming works ------->Here<-------

Chasing Harry Winston: HarperCollins Publishers 2008 (ISBN 978-0-00-728494-8)
Walden Bookstore, Hyderabad
Recommended Price: 195/- INR

PS: Readers, if you like chick literature, you must read this. I am biased but that doesn't mean you can't read it to see-it-yourself. It's actually better than those eroticas (hmmm.) Please do not hold this against me :P Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. :) 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gardens of the Moon - Steven Erikson

(Book One of 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen')

ISBN : 9780553819571

AUTHOR - Steven Erikson

BEST-SELLERS - The Malazan Book of the Fallen series

SYNOPSIS - Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake, the Malazan Empire simmers with discontent. Its legions yearn for some respite.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners, and Tattersail, surviving sorceress of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the seige of Pale should have been a time to mourn the dead. But Empress Larseen's gaze has fallen upon Darujhistan. For this ancient citadel, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, still holds out against her.

However, the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand....

EXCERPT - The man leaned on the railing, 'All this is just begging for some kind of conversation, friendly-like,'he said. 'So, how about you and me go back to the alley. You lay down your sword and I'll be gentle. Otherwise, things would get rough, and what would be the fun of ----?'

Sorry's left hand darted out. A dagger flashed between them. The blade entered the man's right eye and then his brain.He jerked back over the rail and fell, landing with a heavy thud beside the steps. Sorry walked up to him and retrieved the dagger.

FL Speak - Astounding debut. And might i add, an impossible piece of work. This has to be one of the most complicated beginnings to a fantasy series. The book starts with war and ends with war, with more war in between.

It starts with a young noble boy wishing to join the vast army of the Malazan under the Emperor when he meets one of the generals and the Empress in a dusty road. Few years later, the Empress kills the Emperor and everyone else who was once loyal to him. Its the story of the Bridgeburners, the most feared squadron of the 2nd Legion under the command of Sergeant Whiskeyjack and their struggle to stay alive since the Empress is determined to disband those who belonged to the Emperor. Its the story of Tattersail, a sorceress, who was betrayed by her High Mage during the fall of Pale and upon whom came the responsibility of keeping the Bridgeburners alive.

Its the story of that young boy who grew up to be a captain and sent to lead the diminshed Bridgeburners to search for a killer in disguise while the Empress uses him as a pawn for higher purposes. Its the tale of the City of Darujhistan, where the Guild of Assassins and the sorcerers search for a way to save the last free city. This is the story of a young thief who unknowingly becomes a pawn for the Gods when Chance decides to favour him as the coming war threatens to spill even immortal blood. This is the tale of Lord Aromander Rake and his fragile allies who fight against the Malazan Empire.

As the writer said in the preface, you will either love the book or completely hate it. As for me, it was the former. This is one of the best adult fantasy books i have read. Full of magic and full of violence, with plots within plots within plots. All the characters assemble in Darujhistan and this is where the plot thickens. No allies are allies, everyone has their own agenda. The Moon Spawn ally with the High Alchemist of Darujhistan to thwart the Empress' progress while the Bridgeburners try to pull themselves out of certain death by changing all the rules. Plans go haywire when the Gods themselves decides to join in.

This is a must read book for serious fantasy lovers. You might hate it. But its worth a try. This is one gem of a series that is sure to keep giving me goosebumps.

My Rating - 4.4 out of 5.

PRICE - INR 350/- from Bantam Books (Paperback - 2009)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Betrayed - Book#2 - house of the night Series

by PC Cast + Kristin Cast

Ok, if you have read the first book, this book will offer quite a lot of repetition of events from book#1 but those who did not read it, let it not mean you can skip book 1.  This book sees Zoye , trying to handle friends , her responsibilities as the leader of the dark daughters and son, her new boyfriend Erik , her ex-boyfriend Heath [ and a human ] , her super hot teacher [ as described in the book , and he writes haiku !! I love this one ;) ] , and the high priestess ! Do i even write any more ? This is a thick plot which is served well with some very memorable moments - few of the scenes between Aphrodite & Zoye ; Heath's vulnerability at his friend's death ; Zoye's confession about Heath to Erik ... very honest and heartfelt writing there. You feel not just for Zoye alone but for all those related to her ! And that for me is remarkable about this book. This book does not take the story further but instead sets a baseline for the next part. And  I am too eager to do that !

 Synopsis [ from book cover] :

Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night finishing school.  She finally feels like she belongs, even gets chosen as the Leader of the Dark Daughters.  Best of all, she actually has a boyfriend… or two.  Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night.
While danger stalks the humans from Zoey’s old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves.  Then when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

Other details :
Number of pages : 400
Price : 200-300 [ depends on site / shop ] for a paperback

Read the review of Marked - book #1 of the series here done by MSM.




Best Sellers: Eclipse, Exile, The Race and fourteen other critically acclaimed novels.


Mark Darrow grew up with no real advantages beyond his intelligence and his athletic ability. But thanks to Lionel Farr, a professor at Caldwell, the local college, Darrow was successful. Now Farr asks his protege for a life-altering favour. A scandal threatens Caldwell's very existence- would Darrow consider becoming its new president?

Darrow accepts, but returning to his alma mater opens old wounds. Sixteen years ago, he discovered the body of a black female student named Angela Hall at the base of The Spire, the bell tower that dominates the leafy campus. His best friend was charged with murder and sent to prison for life. But Darrow now discovers that the case against his friend left crucial questions unanswered. Despite his new obligations- and his deepening attachment o Farr's troubled daughter- Darrow begins his own inquiry. Soon he becomes convinced that Angela's killer is still at large, but only when another death occurs does he understand that his own life too is at risk.

Line I liked :)
"We only think we know someone until we get to be at an unwatched window of their life"

The woman's tormentor, if he existed in life, was a man of considerable inventiveness. His techniques were varied, all calculated to produce humiliation without leaving a mark; all, in the diary's account, excited him in proportion to their debasement if the victim. But HE remained nameless, more a form of domination than a man with human characteristics and emotions, so defined by his obsessions that Darrow wondered if he was reading an elaborate exercise in sadomasochistic fantasy. The voice of the narrator was detached; resembled accounts of rape victims Darrow had heard as a prosecutor, wherein the woman, helpless during the act, has willed her concious mind to go elsewhere. Yet the details were quite specific, meticulously recorded in the toneless voice of a concentration camp survivor, too resigned to inhumanity to respond with outrage.

On the last page, the only words she had written were
"There is such darkness in the chamber of stone"

"Psychopaths have superior intelligence. They also know it. So every success they have in getting away with something increases their feeling of omnipotence."

Maithili Speak:
A wonderful insight into human mind without being too blunt.. A good mix of thrill, emotions (no not the cry cry types) and yes suspense..

When I read the synopsis I didn't find it that intriguing. It was certainly a different genre from what my favorite lawyer-turned-author John Grisham writes about. Law is certainly an integral part of the plot but what caught my fancy was the way the human nature was potrayed.  It explores what mankind would do if there were no limitations and code of conduct. 
What captures your attention is the thought in the book. Little trivialities of human nature that could have a larger meaning.  How the concious can slip into subconcious when faced with a tragedy too big for your concious mind to deal with. How those subconcious memories convert and haunt your dreams until you can no longer differentiate between memories and dreams.
Mark Darrow has left behind his past and all that happened at Caldwell and moved on to become a successful lawyer. With the death of his wife Lee and a request from his philanthropist mentor Lionell Farr , he has  no option but to move back to Caldwell and save his alma matter from the growing distrust of the alumini and raise capital. 
He feels guilty for the role he played in getting his best friend get convicted. The fact that he wasn't present in any of the trials and had run away from Caldwell only adds to his guilt.

Steve Tillman convicted for a murder of girl he last slept with. He was fond of Angela Hall and too drunk to remember what transpired between them that fateful night she was found murdered. The memory so blur that he can't even recollect what he was doing that night which works very much against him. Now within the confines of his prison he spends his time reading volumes and researching on repressed memories. He has thought of reasons for his conviction so often that he no longer remembers which is real and which is made up in his mind.

Taylor Farr, daughter of Lionel Farr, is the one running from all that reminds her of her dead mother. The emotional distance with her father, lack of assurance from him only makes her slow to trust men. She struggles with nightmares which she cannot interpret.. A hazy kaleidoscope of images which she can't decode.

The vocabulary of this book is distinguished . Certainly a good read for bloggers :)
After reading this book, you certainly would feel "Do I really know the people I think I know?" 

I would rate it 4.8 on 5.. 

Price : Rs 325/-

Pradhamadrishtya-Malayalam Crime Thriller: Update

I'm really glad to share the latest update of the upcoming Thriller , 'Pradhamdrishtya' here.The latest teasers of...