Fantasy

Burned [house of night #7] by PC Kast + Kristin Cast

12:49:00 PM


Read the reviews of previous parts here

So Zoey is dead, almost dead 'cause she still has a chance at life if some one can bring her soul back from the Other world ! And who caused this ? Heath !! Am I glad he is dead finally ? In a way yes , but I liked the role he played in the Otherworld ! This book totally belongs to Stevie and Aphrodite ! Thanks to the authors for finally portraying what these two ladies are capable of !  They hve powers , they have brains and they have the strength to keep up the struggle at any cost.
Stark ! Love him from the moment he became Zoey's warrior and in this ook, he totally plays the part. Of course he is the only one who can now save Zoey and that he does. brilliant chapter that is ..[ will not tell more in case it might act as spoiler].
And yes, I hate zoey a little more here except the part when she fights for Stark ! I wish she had that sense and feeling of power all the while ! But then you will not have this part at all ;)



Synopsis:  Things have turned black at the House of Night. Zoey Redbird’s soul has shattered. With everything she’s ever stood for falling apart, and a broken heart making her want to stay in the Otherworld forever, Zoey’s fading fast. It’s seeming more and more doubtful that she will be able pull herself back together in time to rejoin her friends and set the world to rights. As the only living person who can reach her, Stark must find a way to get to her.  But how?  He will have to die to do so, the Vampyre High Council stipulates.  And then Zoey will give up for sure. There are only 7 days left…

Enter  BFF Stevie Rae.  She wants to help Z but she has massive problems of her own.  The rogue Red Fledglings are acting up, and this time not even Stevie Rae can protect them from the consequences.  Her kinda boyfriend, Dallas, is sweet but too nosy for his own good.  The truth is, Stevie Rae’s hiding a secret that might be the key to getting Zoey home but also threatens to explode her whole world.

In the middle of the whole mess is Aphrodite: ex-Fledgling, trust-fund baby, total hag from Hell (and proud of it).  She’s always been blessed (if you could call it that) with visions that can reveal the future, but now it seems Nyx has decided to speak through her with the goddess’s own voice, whether she wants it or not.  Aphrodite’s loyalty can swing a lot of different ways, but right now Zoey’s fate hangs in the balance.

Three girls… playing with fire… if they don’t watch out, everyone will get Burned.


Rating : 3/5


 Other details: 
ISBN-10: 0312606168
ISBN-13: 978-0312606169
Pages : 323
Price : 363 for paperback

crime thriller

Postcard Killers :James Patterson and Liza Marklund

10:03:00 AM



Author : James Patterson and Liza Marklund




Synopsis (from bookcover)


NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren't what draw him- he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafe through the eyes of his daughter's killers.


Kanon's daughter, Kimmy, and her fiance were murdered while on holiday in Rome. Since then, young couples in Madrid, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Athens and Paris have been found dead. Little connect the murders, other than a postcard sent to the local newspaper prior to each attack.


Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm- and they think they know where the next victims will be.


Excerpts:


"THEY ARE CHARMING, PLEASANT PEOPLE, THESE killers," Jacob said to Dessie, stretching his back in the thin sunlight. "They find it easy to make new friends. Are you sure you don't want a cinnamon bun?"
   Dessie shook her head, letting the American eat the last one.
   IT was really too cold to be sitting outside, but Dessie couln't bear Jacob Kanon's body odor after feeling sick at the murder scene.
   "So you think there's two of them? A couple- a man and a woman.? Why?
     Jacob nodded, chewing hungrily on the bun. He seemed completely unaffected by the grisly scene they had just witnessed.
     "A couple is less of a threat. They're probably young, attractive pair of carefree travellers meeting others doing the same thing. People who drink chamapagne, smoke dope, live it up a bit.."
    He drank some coffee. 
    "And they probably speak English." he said.
    Dessie raised her eyebrow quizically.
    "The postcards. They're written with perfect grammar, and most of the victims have been native English speakers. I'm guessing the rest have been fluent."




Maithili Speaks:


A clever and well plotted story which makes this book a page turner. I couldn't put down this book till I read it to the end.


Jacob Kannon has been travelling across Europe always being steps behind the killers. He is obsessed with tracking them and it is the first time that he is so close to the killers in Stockholm. He proclaims to the killer's nature the best. 


Dessie Larson who received the postcard in Stockholm and who is also doing a thesis on Criminology is at first apprehensive of working with this American who seems obsessed with post card killers. Later when she realises that Jacob's only daughter, Kimmy, has been one of the victim Dessie rests her guard and helps Jacob. 


The story is not about "who done it" , it is more about "how they did it and why they did it". From the very beginning you know who the killers are but till the end you hang on to know the reason they did it and their weird psychology. 


There are some terrible murders , gory one can say. The history of killers is disturbing and the reason they kill is terrifying! But you can't help marvel at the sheer geniusness of the plot!


If I speak more I might give out on the thrill of reading it !


Thank you Freelancer for putting this book on the list and I m glad I chose it :) Thank you again for the book !


Rating: 4.7 on 5.


Price: Rs 550

Ria Dhanda

Eclipse

1:30:00 AM


Eclipse (book three of the Twilight Saga)
A Stephenie Meyer novel.

ISBN-978-1-90423-391-6
First edition- 2007

Author- Stephenie Meyer
Best sellers- The Host, Twilight Saga.

SynopsisAs Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make:life or death. but which is which?


ExcerptALL OUR ATTEMPTS AT SUBTERFUGE HAD BEEN IN VAIN.

With ice in my heart, I watched him prepare to defend me. His intense concentration
betrayed no hint of doubt, though he was outnumbered. I knew that we could expect no help
 at this moment, his family was fighting for their lives just as surely as he was for ours.

Would I ever learn the outcome of that other fight? Find out who the winners and the losers
were? Would I live long enough for that?

The odds of that didn't look so great.

Black eyes, wild with their fierce craving for my death, watched for the moment when my
protector's attention would be diverted. The moment when I would surely die.

Somewhere, far, far away in the cold forest, a wolf howled.

Ria speaks- I must admit the Preface of each novel in the saga is what kept the faith alive in me that the book in my hands still has the promise of a good read. Not to get too much into the whole love triangle which somehow seems to remain omnipresent through out the book. Jacob still loves Bella- Bella still loves Edward- Edward still wants to kill Jacob(for loving Bella & for being a werewolf). This book brings in the new twist of brand new vampires, it shows us everything Edward(and the whole Cullen family) has talked about. Stephenie Meyer tries to give us as big a insight as she can into the minds of the "newly born's" helping us imagine what Bella(if she turned) would be like. 
Now as we can't run from the whole romance thing as i thought i could and so did Bella( both clearly mistaken), Jacob pounces on the opportunity to save and spend more time with Bella from the newly born's which seem to be coming after her. He finally makes a move and kisses Bella only to get punched in the face by her(her hand breaks but i'm sure it was worth it). Now i read all 4 books before the movie's came out so when i speak of the Cullen family, or the werewolves or even Bella its the picture i formed in my head not the one that was formed for me. That is the beauty of these books it allows your imagination to run wild, be it from the blood thirsty newly born's to the evil genius of the Volturi, throw in a marriage proposal, talk about sex and a scorned love and we have all the makings of a hit story.
Like her previous books the third book did not fail me, it just had me more in love(when i din't think it possible)

Ratings- 4 out of 5( i stick by my ratings)
Price- Rs 395. Rs 277 on Flipkart.

Arvind Adiga

The White Tiger - Arvind Adiga

10:00:00 PM


AUTHOR -Arvind Adiga, is an Indian writer and journalist. His Debut Novel, The White Tiger, won the 2008 Man Booker Prize.


BEST-SELLERS -


*
The White Tiger: A Novel: Atlantic Books, Ltd (UK), Free Press (US), 2008

*Last Man in Tower: Fourth Estate (IND), 2011


SYNOPSIS – In the most amusing manner of narration to the chinese premier from an anonymous speaker,this book unfolds its satirical story of irony present in Indian society by highlighting the day today instances to point out gap between master and servant class.

Balram, the protagonist, lived in the village of Laxmangarh, Bihar, a community deep in the "Darkness" of rural India. The son of a rickshaw puller; his family is too poor for him to be able to finish school. Despite being clever and being promised a scholarship, Balram instead is forced to break coals and wipe tables in a tea shop. After learning how to drive, Balram gets his break when a rich man from his village hires him as a chauffeur for his son, Ashok, who lives in the city of New Delhi, Having recently returned from a stint in America, Ashok is conflicted by the corruption and harshness of life in India, and has to deal with his family’s unhappiness with his foreign marriage to his current wife, a member of a different caste.

The city from behind the steering wheel of his honda city car is a revelation for Balram. As he drives his master and his wife to shopping malls and call centers, Balram becomes increasingly aware of immense wealth and opportunity all around him, and the contrast between the master and servant classes. Through these experiences, Balram becomes increasingly worldly and ambitious.

The book's title, The White Tiger, is the protagonist Balram's nickname, which he earns by being deemed the smartest boy in his village by an education inspector. With a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem -- but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.

QUOTES -


"Please understand Your Excellency, that India is two countries in one: an India of light and an India of darkness. The ocean brings light to my country. Every place on the map of India near the ocean is well off. But the river brings darkness to India-the black river."

"To break the law of his land-to turn bad news into good news- is the entrepreneur prerogative."

"I don't keep a cell phone, for obvious reasons- they corrode a man brain,shrink his balls and dry up his semen as all of us know."

"To sum up-in the old days there were one thousand castes and destinies in India. These days, there are just two castes: Men with big bellies, and men with small bellies. And only two destinies: eat or get eaten up."


"These are three main diseases in this country: cholera, typhoid and election fever. The last one is the worst; it makes people talk and talk about things that they have no say in."





PULKIT SPEAKS -


story of coruscating wit, blistering suspense, and questionable morality, told by the most volatile, captivating, and utterly inimitable narration

It is a very different kind of novel, it added a quite illuminating 21st-century perspective to my emerging image of country. Is it accurate? Hard to decide. Its unreliable narrator, the White Tiger of the title, a poor village boy, servant, driver, murderer, and now self-made entrepreneur in the boom city of Bangalore, certainly has a nasty story to tell, which he does in a series of unsolicited letters of advice to the visiting Chinese prime minister Jiabao.

I almost came to like or at least respect him for his honesty and decency within all that even greater depravity surrounding him. Although our country has a democracy, this book bravely shows by the media of a tight face pace thriller, how our culture apparently has become the one where lower class is pushed off in a chain of continual servitude at every sphere of their life no matter what changes occur otherwise.

This book doesn't shove itself in your face- but it politely intrudes into your life and leads you through the dark thought process of a man desperate to break away from himself and his fate. You justify his actions as he justifies them; you can't help but celebrate his victories and root for him to have courage. It's dark, it's hilarious, it's real and it's just so terribly satisfying.


I might actually read it again and I never read a book twice; this might be the first time I want to revisit a character just because he was so strangely likable and cunning and hilarious without directly trying to be. You talk of two cynics and how they enjoy each others hatred for the world, I guess that’s what it is between me and Balram.


I respect this young writer for pulling off this unflinching, brave book about India beyond the glossy brochures, the government doublespeak, and the common stereotypes repeated in the media. Not only that, I also found it a hell of a read. Miss it if you are too afraid to see the life beyond your world of twitter,M tv and facebook, or if you lack the sense of humor that misery gives to someone’s life. A must must recommendation to everyone, one of the best read books of all time on my charts.


RATING – 4.9/5.

PRICE - Rs 540.

Hardcover edition

HarperCollins Publications

purchased from Landmark bookstore,@ wave mall, Lucknow


PS – Gifted to me by my elder brother, Piyush Tiwari. Photo credit - Me, from my Nokia 5130 2Mp cam.


Arpita

Dark Heritage- Yvonne Whittal

9:40:00 AM



















NAME OF THE AUTHOR: Yvonne Whittal

BEST SELLERS: Devil's Gateway, Handful of Stardust, Bitter Enchantment, Summer of the Weeping Rain (Yvonne Whittal was a popular writer of 45 romance novels in Mills & Boon)

ISBN: 0-263-74301-2

SYNOPSIS:

Her parents’ deaths had left Dale alone in the world, which was why Rick Crawford had been appointed as her guardian until she came of age. So perhaps it was just loneliness that made her turn to Rick- and inevitably, to fall in love with him. But what would he want with a little nobody like her, when he already had the beautiful Melissa Arnell?

And even if Dale had been more attractive, would Rick ever want to get involved with her? For he was the only other person is the world who knew her dark secret…


EXCERPT:

‘Let’s get one thing straight before we go in,’ he said in a clipped voice, and clutching her hands nervously behind her back, she raised her wide blue eyes to his once more. ‘I like my comforts, as you can see, and I like my home run on well-oiled wheels. If I’d thought that your coming here would disrupt my life in any way, then I would never have suggested it. Do I make myself clear?’

Dale shrank inwardly as she stared up at this tall, lean man before her. ‘Yes, Mr. Crawford.’

‘And there’s one other thing,’ he added harshly, gripping her box of books under one arm and picking up her suitcase. ‘My name is Rick. If we’re going to live together in the same house for the next few years, then I suggest you use it.

‘Yes, Mr.- Rick,’ she stumbled nervously over his name and her cheeks went pink with embarrassment, but he had turned away from her with a mixture of boredom and impatience on his face.
‘Come on,’ he barked abruptly. ‘We’ve kept my mother waiting long enough.’


ARPITA SPEAKS:


I never thought I would get around to reading another Mills and Boon- but here I am with a book review I cannot believe I am writing. (All thanks to the book reading challenge.) Even more surprisingly, I am finding it highly entertaining. Dark Heritage by Yvonne Whittal has exactly the kind of storyline one can expect from the M&B’s- stereotypical and hence, predictable. And yet, I enjoyed it. Perhaps, because I found it a nice change after a heavy dose of the unexpected. Despite the plot being nothing out of the ordinary, the simple and sometimes amusing narrative makes it a pleasant read.

Dale Palmer is a young woman of nineteen, a rather unwanted daughter of filthy rich parents who spent most of her life in a boarding school. Not very ambitious, and content with meeting her basic needs, Dale suddenly finds herself a rich woman: at her parents’ untimely deaths, she inherits a large fortune…and an awful legacy, the discovery of which leaves a terrible scar on her soul.

Terrified of harboring dreams of a happy future, Dale battles with her feelings for the very man who has been appointed her guardian- the formidable Mr. Crawford, who happens to be more than ten years elder to her. (However, a large age gap between protagonists seems to be a recurring theme in M&B’s…or so I’m told.)

Rick kind of reminds one of Mr. Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. He might be a little too blunt for one’s liking, but he is charming and witty when he wants to be, and most importantly, he’s a man of principles. Dale has her weaknesses (especially when it comes to her relationship with Rick) but she comes across as a good human being and a talented girl who seems to be unaware of her own worth. The other characters are just as lovable, and the subtle humor in this novella keeps one amused.

The conclusion of the story is not unexpected, and the sub-plot revolving around Dale’s dark heritage is the only thing that will leave you surprised. The filmy dialogue at the end actually made me laugh out loud. But good-naturedly. Really. I enjoyed reading it, even though I do not think too highly of it. This book is something you might want to go for if you’re in the mood for romance and happy endings.


RATING: 2 on 5

PRICE: Couldn't find it, sorry!

Fantasy

A Storm of Swords : Steel and Snow - George R.R. Martin

8:57:00 AM

A STORM OF SWORDS : STEEL AND SNOW

Part 1 of Book 3 of 'A song of Ice and Fire'

Read about the previous books HERE

ISBN - 978-0-00-744784-8
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2000
PAGES - 569
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Fantasy

AUTHOR -
George R.R Martin

BEST-SELLERS - A Game of Thrones

SYNOPSIS - The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud as winter approaches like an angry beast. In the northern wastes a horde of hungry, savage people stepped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom and the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb's defenses are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and the cruel Lannisters, who have his young sisters in their power. Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.

EXCERPT -
The sky was as black as the walls of Harrenhal behind them, and the rain fell soft and steady, muffling the sound of their horses' hooves and running down their faces.

They rode North, away from the lake, following a rutted farm road across the torn fields and into the woods and streams. Arya took the lead, kicking her stolen horse to a brisk heedless trot until the woods closed in on her. Hot Pie and Gendry followed as best as they could. Wolves howled off in the distance, and she could hear Hot Pie's heavy breathing. No one spoke. From time to time Arya glanced over her shoulder, to make sure the two boys had not fallen too far behind, and to see if they were being pursued.

FL Speaks - After a gap of 2 months, i am back to this masterpiece of George R.R Martin. I needed that break to clear my head and start the story afresh. Its a staggering tale, with characters so many and vivid that it would do well to sit down with the book with a clear mind.

The war rages on in the Seven Kingdoms. Loyalties are brought and discarded by the weight of coins. Catelyn Stark releases the main villain so that her daughters are returned safe. The Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister is free but the journey to Kings Landing is treacherous. Beyond the Wall in the North, Jon lives with Mance Rider, the ruler of the Free Folk and acts as a spy for the Nights Watch.

Tyrion by far is the best character yet again in this book. The absolute hilarious time was when he was forced to marry Sansa Stark. The sad thing is now when i get to read about him, Sansa inadvertently will tag along. That was a cunning move by the Lannisters as they plan to secure Winterfell through that marriage if Robb dies without a heir. Arya's story was dissapointing of all. I mean come on! Its almost predictable now. She's on the run, gets caught. Escapes and gets caught again. Though this time, her captors are much better.

Bran is on his way to the land beyond the wall to learn the mysteries of his dream state. Meanwhile Stannis Baratheon's army is broken and the red priestess warns them of a far greater danger approaching. As Stannis focuses on his war against Joffrey and the Lannisters, Daenerys is on the way to Westeros with her army and her three dragons. Jaime Lannister is captured on his way to freedom and his sword hand is cut. I absolutely loved that. Call me heartless, but that monster deserves more than a crippled hand. Thankfully, we have very less of that idiot Joffrey in the book.

Not that great book compared to the first two, but the last 100 pages or so are one of the very best. The Others or the Undead make their way to the wall and a surprise by Jon towards the end makes me itch to read the second part of Book Three.

My Rating - 3.5 stars

PRICE - INR 259/- from Harper Voyager Publications (Flipkart Price)

Graphic Novel

Corridor : a graphic novel by Sarnath Banerjee

9:51:00 PM




Synopsis: In the heart of Lutyens' Delhi sits Jehangir Rangoonwalla, enlightened dispenser of tea, wisdom, and second-hand books. Among his customers are Brighu, a postmodern Ibn Batuta looking for obscure collectibles and a love life; Digital Dutta who lives mostly in his head, torn between Karl Marx and an H1-B visa; and the newly-married Shintu, looking for the ultimate aphrodisiac in the seedy by-lanes of old Delhi. Played out in the corridors of Connaught Place and Calcutta, the story captures the alienation and fragmented reality of urban life through an imaginative alchemy of text and image.


My review: This was my second graphic novel and thankfully it was based in India so made lot more sense to me than the last one. Even if the story is a bit predictable by the end, its indeed fun to read it with the sketching. At times just the expression captured is enough to make you smile. There are some lines in this book that will stay with you for long.. What I am gonna remmeber forever is

Universal Death rate : One death per person

 The book traces the stories of different people as narrated by the book seller in CP ! Its an interesting read for sure and you will sure have some real good laughter moments. I hope you do not mind the mention of sex and the jokes on it as such 'cause you sure gonna get that in this.

And these are two other lines I absolutely loved :








Rating:3/5


Other details:
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (March 1, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0143031384
ISBN-13: 978-0143031383
Price : 170 @ flipkart


Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson

4:19:00 AM


THE HERO OF AGES

Book 3 of 'Mistborn' Trilogy

Read about the first two parts HERE

ISBN - 978-0-7653-5614-7
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2008
PAGES - 724
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Fantasy

AUTHOR - Brandon Sanderson

BEST-SELLERS - Elantris, Mistborn

SYNOPSIS - Killing the Lord Ruler to end the Final Empire was obviously the right thing to do, wasn't it? With the return of the lethal form of the ubiquitious mists, increasingly heavy ashfalls, and even more powerful earthquakes, Vin and Elend are no longer sure. Long ago, Ruin - one of the primal beings who created the world - was promised the eventual right to destroy all things. Now that Vin has been tricked into releasing him from the Well of Ascension, Ruin apparently intends to collect.

EXCERPT - MARSH STRUGGLED TO KILL HIMSELF.

His hand trembled as he tried to summon the strength to make himself reach up and pull the spike from his back and end his monstrous life. He had given up on trying to break free. Three years. Three years as an Inquisitor. Three years imprisoned in his own thoughts. Those years had proven there was no escape. Even now, his mind clouded.

And then, It took control.

FL Speaks - Astonishing! Book 3 starts one year after the events of Book 2. They survived the end of the Final Empire and the aftermath for 3 years. They survived the siege of Luthadel. But could they survive the very entity who Vin released? Can they survive the one who sole intention is to destroy?

The concluding part of the trilogy reveals that and much more. Revelations, connections and surprises, flow in a torrent of pages and it all leads to a stunning finale no one guessed about. Yes, we all know, they live happily ever after or the end of the world is postponed by some means. What we never guessed was the price they had to pay for it.

Vin and Elend gather their forces and march to secure Cett's kingdom where a cache of food or weapons are held. They already found a few and that was the last one they needed to control to prepare for the end of the world. Vin is still on the lookout for the atium that was hidden by the Lord Ruler since she believes that it will be a great weapon when they finally face the real foe. Meanwhile Ruin reveals his identity and proceeds to misguide people for his evil purposes. Even with the volatile Koloss army at their disposal, it looked like it was too less to face off against an evil that was far to strong and far too evil. The mists continue to kill people and Vin and Elend do not have the time to fight three wars at once.

Elend finally behaves like a ruler. He actually commands! And the best thing is, people actually love him. Gone are those days when he used to worry about every trifle thing. Gone are the times when he had Vin to save his skin. She still stays, but the shocker was that Elend Venture, Emperor, is now a Mistborn.

And you actually feel pity for the dead Lord Ruler. He did everything in his power to stop Ruin and dear ol' Vin, like a silly girl she is sometimes, let him/it free. Twists and turns make you go crazy with this book and you want to finish it as fast as possible and yet do not want the story to end. Some exciting moments that really grip you is the dance of Elend and Vin straight in the middle of the enemy's ball room they have came to conquer. This book belongs as much to Elend as it is to Vin. Not to mention Spook walking Kelsier's path.

The last 100 pages are totally gripping with fear, loyalty, courage, strength and honor at the face of death. Of all the entire crew of Kelsier's from the first 2 books, only a few survive the aftermath. All the hard work threatened to come undone when they realized Ruin was manipulating the ones Vin and Elend trusted. With nowhere to go and no one to help them, Vin and Elend with an unlikely group of newly born Allomancers,charge for a final assault with the hope that somehow everything will be alright again.

My Rating - 5 stars

E-Book Link - The Hero of Ages

PRICE - INR 290/- from TOR Publications (Flipkart Price)

Chinese Culture

Snowflower and the Secret Fan - By Lisa See

12:46:00 AM


SNOW FLOWER and the SECRET FAN: From the Author of Peony in love.  These two books cover the difficulties of Chinese women in the 19th and 17th Century respectively. 

AUTHOR: Lisa See 

BEST SELLERS: The other works of the Author include On Gold MountainFlower NetThe InteriorDragon Bones and Shanghai Girls

SYNOPSIS: Lily, the protagonist, an 80 year old woman, relives her life of past, the memories and the culture she followed with her lao tang (Sworn Sister) in the 19th Century China. Those were the dark times, when the feet of the women were bound* to look like a golden water lily (no longer than 7 inches) to make them eligible to be married off well. Lisa's novel covers the story of two women, bound by the relationship of love, betrayal and growing up. Snow flower is Lily's match (They become 'Old Sames' at the age of Seven) and the novel covers their opposite lives. Secret Fan, a silk folding fan was a means for communication, which they used by inventing their own writing styles called nu shu (Women's writing - delicate and sharp) in a small town called Hunan, when women were completely secluded from the outside world.

EXCERPT: "The binding altered not only my feet but my whole character, and in a strange way I feel as though that process continued through my life, changing me from a yielding child to a determined girl, then from a young woman who would follow without question whatever her in-laws demanded of her to the highest-ranked woman in the country who enforced strict village rules and customs. By the time I was forty, the rigidity of my foot-binding had moved from my golden lilies to my heart , which held on to injustices and grievances so strongly that I could no longer forgive those I loved and who loved me. My only rebellion came in the form of nu shu, our women's secret writing. My first break with tradition came when Snow Flower--my laotong, my "old same," my secret-writing partner - sent me the fan that sits here on my table, and then again after I met her." - Lily

MSM SPEAKS: Before I decided to read this book, I had a big mental block that I cannot read novels based on historical and cultural events as they remind me too much of History Text books. The one book which I had loved in the Literary fiction category was Memoirs of a Geisha - which covered the lives of Japanese Geisha beautifully, but that was the only one. The SNOW FLOWER and the SECRET FAN was suggested to me by a friend who is quite knowledgeable when it comes to stuff like this. She told me about this concept of Foot Binding in China where women's feet were wrapped and bound in bandages so that the bones in the feet would break and then shaped like folded water lilies. It was a horrible culture and many young girls died because of it. I decided to give this one, a read. 

SNOW FLOWER and the SECRET FAN deals with the most mysterious of all relations - female friendship. It marks the brilliant journey of two girls who go through the process of foot binding together, once their stars are matched (like matching horoscopes). Lily describes her relation with Snow Flower as that of similar to husband and wife, like two mandarin ducks, where love in its purest form is involved. It is a window to a whole different culture and also describes the difference that develops between them when they are married. Lily is married to the highest ranked family of China while Snow Flower is married to a Butcher. Lily's thought process become marginalized and the value of the Secret fan is lost in her eyes, for Snow Flower does not confirm to the norms of the society. The Novel covers the story in a narrative style by Lily and how she regrets everything she had done in past. 

If MSM can read this, anyone can. And I would strongly recommend everyone to go through SNOW FLOWER and the SECRET FAN once. Even Men. When I told FL that I was reading this serious book, he laughed :P which shows that this book isn't heavy on the brain. Lisa See writes the pages very simply and delicately, unfolding the nuances of Old Chinese Culture, beautifully. I read it as an outsider, observer, watching every single scene play out before my eyes, even though I had no freakin' idea about the Old (or even new, contemporary etc.) Chinese Culture.

My rating: 4.5/5 for the sheer brilliance of writing an emotionally electrifying historical fiction novel. 

SNOW FLOWER and the SECRET FAN: Random House Trade 2005 ISBN 13 9780812968064
Landmark Bookstore, Online Price (Paperback) - 709/- INR
Pages - 269

HERE is the link to e-book. Happy Reading!

Amish

The Immortals of MELUHA- Amish

9:04:00 PM



Author : Amish
Best Sellers : Immortals of Meluha, Secret of Nagas

Synopsis:
STORY OF A THE MAN, WHOM LEGEND TURNED INTO A GOD.

1900 B.C, in what modern Indians mistakenly call the Indus Valley Civilisation.

The inhabitants of that period called it the land of Meluha - a near perfect empire created many centuries earlier by Lord Ram, one of the greatest monarchs that ever lived.

This once proud empire and its Suryavanshi rulers face severe perils as its primary river, the revered Saraswati, is slowly drying to extinction. They also face devastating terrorist attacks from the east, the land of the Chandravanshis. To make matters worse, the Chandravanshis appear to have allied with the Nagas, an ostracised and sinister race of deformed humans with astonishing martial skills.

The only hope for the Suryavanshis is an ancient legend :
'When the evil reaches epic proportions, when all seems lost, when it appears that your enemies have triumphed, a hero will emerge.'

Is the rough- hewn Tibetan immigrant Shiva, really that hero?
And does he want to be that hero at all?
Drawn suddenly to his destiny, by duty as well as by love, will Shiva lead the Suryavanshi vengeance and destroy evil?

This is the first book in a triology on Shiva, the simple man whose karma re-cast him as our Mahadev, the God of Gods.

Excerpts:
As Daksha spoke once again, Shiva refocused his attention on him.
       "The problem we are facing were prophesied, my Lord,' continued Daksha. "Lord Ram himself said that any philosophy, no matter how perfect, works only for a finite period. That is the law of nature and cannot be avoided. But what the legends also tell us that when the problems become insurmountable for ordinary men, the Neelkanth will appear. And that he will destroy the evil Chandravanshis and restore the forces of good. My Lord, you are the Neelkanth. You can save us. You can complete the unfinished task of Lord Ram. You must lead us and help us defeat the Chandravanshis. You must rally the Swadweepans around to the side of good. Otherwise I fear this beautiful country that we have, the near perfect society of Meluha, will be destroyed in years of endless war. Will you help us my Lord? Will you lead us?"
       Shiva was confused. "But I didn't understand, your Highness? What exactly would I do?
      "I don't know my Lord. We only know our destination and that you will be our leader. The path we take is up to you."
  They want me to destroy the entire way of life of eighty million people by myself! Are they mad?

Maithili Speaks:
Shiva Triology! One would expect a mythological saga with lots of respect and Oh Lord stuff.. But wait a mintue, this book will take you by surprise. Yes, after a long time an Indian writer creates a definite page turner. 
This story is about Shiva. The writer has given birth to a brilliant concept. The rise of a man to the stature of a Mahadev just because of his valor and karma. 
The story so brilliantly weaved and presented that it almost is relevant to the current day problems! If you are anywhere close to being a mythological literate (yes I can say that I have been passed a fair share of my quota from the word of mouth through generations) you will be awed in the way the characters and their human ways in which they have been presented. 
So the first part is basically about the eternal balance of good and bad which is perceived as being that between Suryavanshis (the followers of the solar calender) and the Chandravanshis (the followers of the lunar system). 
The Meluhans have this legend that a man not from Sapt- Sindhu will emerge amongst them, whose throat will turn blue of drinking the Somras and he will be the Neelkanth- their savior!
Shiva, a tribal leader finds his throat turn blue and suddenly he is the much revered Neelkanth! How he rises to fulfil his destiny is what this story is all about..

Also a very pleasant part of this story, is the love story between Shiva and Sati (better known as Parvati). There are moments so heart warming, loving and mischievous that you smile (I have grinned like an idiot while reading this in train) with the pleasure of it ! Ah sweet love! 

Ratings: 4.5 on 5.. that is because the story left at to be continued at a crucial point!!

Price: Rs 295/- although you might get it at Crossword discount for only Rs 100/-

Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson

7:08:00 AM


THE WELL OF ASCENSION

Book 2 of 'Mistborn' Trilogy

Read about Book 1 here

ISBN - 978-0-7653-5613-0
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2007
PAGES - 763
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Fantasy

AUTHOR - Brandon Sanderson

BEST-SELLERS -
Mistborn, Elantris

SYNOPSIS - They did the impossible, deposing the godlike being whose brutal rule had lasted a thousand years. Now Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire.

They have barely begun when three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

It may be that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Surviving the aftermath of his fall is going to be the real challenge.

EXCERPT - I write these words in steel, for anything not set in metal cannot be trusted.


**********************************

THE ARMY CREPT LIKE A dark stain across the horizon.

King Elend Venture stood motionless upon the Luthadel city wall, looking at the enemy troops. Around him, ash fell from the sky in flat, lazy flakes. It wasn't the burnt white ash that one saw in dead coals; this was a deeper, harsher black ash. The Ashmounts had been particularly active lately.

Elend felt the ash dust his face and clothing, but he ignored it. In the distance, the bloody red sun was close o setting. It backlit the army that had come to take Elend's kingdom from him.

FL Speaks -
Pause. I need to take a breath. Amazing!! Who would have thought of writing a gripping tale after acheiving the impossible. They managed to deal with the Final Empire. They managed to free the people and kill the Lord Ruler. They paid the ultimate price with the death of the person who made it all happen, Kelsier. And now, when peace and stability should return, chaos reign supreme.

Extraordinary writing by Sanderson. Sanderson makes it possible to even love the tyrant and yet hate him. But the Lord Ruler is now no more. And they gang realise, that maybe it was a huge mistake killing him and ending his rule. Because now a greater power, far more evil is itching to break loose. Something that the Lord Ruler contained while he was still in power. The gang elect Elend Venture as the king and he delivers his promise of freeing the people. What they didn't realise is, a King does not have the luxury of listening to every single whim of a person, no matter how much he wants them to be independent. In his quest to being a people's man, Elend forgets that the same power he gives to the common man may soon become the end of his short reign.

Book 2 starts one year after Kelsier's death and the deposing of the Lord Ruler. Kelsier's own crew mates blame the dead Kelsier for giving the skaa people a hope and then dying without giving them a direction. (I assume you have read the book or will do so soon as i do not find the logic of recapping the entire book 1 in this review) Within a year of tasting freedom, Elend's city is surrounded by 2 armies and another one, albeit inhuman, on its way. It was a mexican standoff, with neither army willing to attack the city for the fear of being attacked by the third party when they are at the weakest.

Enter Tindwl, a Terriswoman, who comes to the city to help Elend be the King the people need to see. Soon enough, people start to respect him rather than dismissing him as the one who has dreams but no leadership. Eventually even that is not enough to save his capital as the very people he freed vetoed his rule. (unloyal bastards!) Brandon introduces a new character to the tale, Zane. Zane is a Mistborn assassin sent by Elend's father to kill his son. And then he meets Vin. (The expected happened. Stupid girl started to fall for the bad mysterious villain! Man, seriously, chicks give me a headache. I try not to get emotionally attached to these stuff knowing fully well its fantasy, but can't help myself. Woman!!! Get your priorities straight!!! Stick to one guy!) I was almost shouting at the book saying ELEND ISN'T THE BAD GUY! OPEN YOUR EYES. OPEN YOUR EYES. Sigh!, i will never be a good writer.

Anyway, the ending was brilliant. Despite that mini emotional heart attack, things almost ended well. Almost. The people who were studying the works and writings of the Lord Ruler to find a clue to defeat the mists led Vin and Elend to the mother of all mistakes! Gasp! Need the final part of the trilogy now!

My Rating - 4.5 stars.




E-Book Link - THE WELL OF ASCENSION

PRICE -
INR 293 from Tor Publications (Flipkart Price)

Fantasy

Magician : Master - Raymond E. Feist

4:06:00 AM


MAGICIAN : MASTER

Book 2 of 'Riftwar' Saga

Read about Book 1 here

ISBN - 978-0-553-56493-8
FIRST PUBLISHED - 1982
PAGES - 499
EDITION - Paperback
GENRE - Fantasy

AUTHOR - Raymond E. Feist

BEST-SELLERS -
Silverthorn, Prince of the Blood

SYNOPSIS -
Once he was an orphan called Pug, apprenticed to a sorcerer of the enchanted land of Midkemia. Then he was captured and enslaved by the Tsurani, a strange, warlike race of invaders from another world.

There, in the exotic Empire of Kelewan, he earned a new name - Milamber. He learned to tame the unimagined powers that lay within him. And he took his place in an ancient struggle against an evil Enemy older than time itself.

EXCERPT - The Elf Prince sat quietly.

Calin awaited his mother. There was much on his mind, and he needed to speak with her this night. There had been little chance of that of late, for as the war had grown in scope, he found less time to abide in the bowers of Elvander. As Warleader of the elves, he had been in the field nearly every day since the last time the outworlders had tried to forge across the river.

FL Speaks - The book continues the story of Pug and his friends, although they have been separated now. The story starts four years after the end of the first part and the war between the two nations is still going on (rolls eyes). Pug works as a slave to his Kelewan rulers and gives up hope of returning to Midkemia.

Four long years has passed and neither side has gained an upper hand in the war and it seems the fight would go on endlessly. Pug is sent to work in one of the Clan's houses where a Great One (sorcerer's in Tsurani are called Great Ones) discovers his talent and sends him to be a master magician. There, his loyalties to his old home are broken and he is taught to serve the Empire for all purposes. Though the magicians constitute of an autonomous body, a few of them assists the soldiers of the Empire during the war. As time flies, Pug begins to master his craft and is known by a different name, Milambar.

Midway into the story, the reason for the rifts in space is explained as the work of a single entity which is purely evil. Though who or what that evil is, the entire book rarely covers the subject on it. Meanwhile in Midkemia, Pug's boyhood friend is transformed into a mighty warrior and begins to control his sanity as an old ruthless warrior continues to hunt his mind and soul. The elves foresee that, Tomas may be their Saviour or might very well be their doom.

Pug aka Milambar soon realizes that he cannot live in Tsurani, if the Empire is to progress and hence decides to leave through the rift after falling out with the Warlord of the entire Tsurani forces. Together with the son of a Shinzawai Clan, he leaves for Midkemia with the boy whose father had sent him to sign a peace pact with the rulers across the world.

Lots of twists towards the end including the fate of Pug, a mystical sorcerer and the rulers of Midkemia makes this book a worthwhile read. The unknown dark entity is yet to be revealed and book 3 looks more promising to hold the answers you seek after the end of this book. The saga has a lot to offer and Feist is slowly building up to an explosive finish. Recommended only if you feel like continuing the saga. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

What some people might hate is the lack of detailed background. Thankfully, that bodes well for me. Too much of details and i don't think i would stop myself from skipping paragraphs. Stuff like those are the reason why SoT and WoT series lose focus and become uninteresting in the end. Although this book has more wars and events, i somehow miss the innocence and laughter of the first book. Nevertheless, a fine book.

My Rating - 3.5 stars

PRICE - INR 286/- from Tor Publications (Flipkart Price)

ge

Witness the night by Kishwar Desai

3:52:00 AM






[ first book by the author and winner of UK's Costa first novel award]


Synopsis: 
Durga. A fourteen-year-old girl, found all alone in a sprawling farm house tucked away in a corner of Punjab. Silent, terrified, and the sole suspect in the mass murder of thirteen members of her family.
Simran. Whisky-swigging, chain-smoking unmarried social worker from Delhi. She is Durga's only hope, for Simran is the only one who believes that Durga may be more a victim than a suspect.

As Simran tries to explore every corner of Jullundar and its people, from the enigmatic tutor Harpreet and his disfigured wife to the pictureperfect high-society Arminder and her superintendent husband Ramnath, she delves deeper and deeper into a cruel world where even the ties of family are meaningless. It isn't long before she realizes that nothing is quite as it seems.


My Views : Ok, You must have already got an idea, the kind of book this gonna be. What I can tell you is, there is definitely a lot more you be made aware of when you read it. All the issues this book traces / outlines atleast are known as news but here, reading them as part of everyone's daily life .. that was shocking ! I felt so disgusted , so helpless and so much angry at lot of the places. Even if you get an idea of the real series of events, the book doesn't let you leave it in middle. you will want to know the truth from the horses's mouth  and not leave your imagination do the job.
Interesting writing style , crisp writing , well embedded crime facts and impacts , this sure makes one good read !
I only had a little disappointment in the end. Maybe I was expecting miracles :)


Rating: 4.5/5


Other details:
ISBN:     817223922X
ISBN-13: 9788172239220,978-8172239220
Pages : 256
Price : 169

Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn : The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson

11:48:00 PM


MISTBORN: The Final Empire

Book 1 of the 'Mistborn' Trilogy

ISBN - 978-0-7653-5038-1
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2006
PAGES - 643
GENRE - Fantasy

AUTHOR -
Brandon Sanderson

BEST-SELLERS -
Elantris, Mistborn, The Hero of Ages

SYNOPSIS - Once, a hero rose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.

He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a mistborn.

EXCERPT - Sometimes, I worry that I'm not the hero everyone thinks I am.

The philosophers assure that this is the time, that the signs have been met. But i still wonder if they have the wrong man. So many people depend on me. They say I will hold the future of the entire world on my arms.

What would they think if they knew that their champion - the Hero of Ages, their savior - doubted himself? Perhaps they wouldn't be shocked at all. In a way, this is what worries me the most. Maybe, in their hearts, they wonder - just as I do.

When they see me, do they see a liar?


FL Speaks - Brandon Sanderson, i bow to thee. I picked this trilogy after a huge number of fantasy enthusiasts recommended it on goodreads. And oh boy, this is one of the best trilogies ever. Ever. Mistborn doesn't disappoint. Not even once. Not even for one page.

Mistborn is the story of a man called Kelsier and his group of thieves. Loyal and passionate to a cause, these people with certain gifts are the only hope of the oppressed skaa people. Together they plan and fail and plan again, because, if they fail, hope fails. They take the fight to the Lord Ruler, knowing fully well that its their doom. Yet, they do it, because the skaa need a reason to believe. The skaa need a hope to rise up. And when the tale of courage and power and magic meets the truth and treachery, the entire world hangs in balance.

Mistborns are those rare people who use metals for their powers. They swallow it and burn them in their stomach to do as they will. Depending on the metal, they can attack, run, fly, hide and do much more. Not all people are mistborn. Most of the people are the normal skaa's who are oppressed by noble families in the name of the Lord Ruler. Some of them are Mistings, people with control of just one metal and a very few of them are true Mistborns.

Enter the survivor of Hathsin, Kelsier.  The former thieving crew-leader brings up a daring plan to challenge the Lord Ruler. He and his friends search out Vin, a young girl of sixteen who showed signs of being a Mistborn. Vin, infiltrates the noble families as they attempt to create an all-out war between the families.

Every chapter starts with a mini paragraph of a diary entry by a person. You soon begin to realize that those are the notes of the hero who once rose to save the world. What led him to become the Lord Ruler they despised? What made the hero of people become a tyrant? That and much more is what makes this book a truly spectacular tale. You will love them, pity them, share their laughs and weep at the tragedies.

The truth is much more harsh and their struggle for freedom has unseen consequences. Brandon Sanderson is a master storyteller. A MUST READ!

My Rating - 5 stars
E-book link - HERE 

PRICE - INR 282/- from Tor Publications (Flipkart price)

espionage

A most wanted man .. by le Carre

2:47:00 AM




Synopsis:
A half-starved young Russian man in a long black overcoat is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash secreted in a purse round his neck. He is a devout Muslim. Or is he? He says his name is Issa. Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation….
Annabel, an idealistic young German civil rights lawyer, determines to save Issa from deportation. Soon her client’s survival becomes more important to her than her own career. In pursuit of Issa’s mysterious past, she confronts the incongruous Tommy Brue, the sixty-year-old scion of Brue Frères, a failing British bank based in Hamburg.

And they have some how set off a chain of events implicating intelligence agencies from three countries.

Excerpt:
A further good reason to ignore the boy was the classical music that the station authorities boom at full blast over this section of the concourse from a battery of well-aimed loudspeakers. Its purpose, far from spreading feelings of peace and well-being among its listeners, is to send them packing.


Despite these impediments the skinny boy's face imprinted itself on Melik's consciousness and for a fleeting moment he felt embarrassed by his own happiness. Why on earth should he? Something splendid had just occurred, and he couldn't wait to phone his sister and tell her that their mother, Leyla, after six months of tending her dying husband, and a year of mourning her heart out for him, was bubbling over with pleasure at the prospect of attending her daughter's wedding, and fussing about what to wear, and whether the dowry was big enough, and the groom as handsome as everybody, including Melik's sister, said he was.

So why shouldn't Melik chatter along with his own mother? Which he did, enthusiastically, all the way home. It was the skinny boy's stillness, he decided later. Those lines of age in a face as young as mine. His look of winter on a lovely spring day.

Review: This book seems to be a bit predictable at few places along the course of reading, but yet it engages you enough to keep reading. Each of the character is as complex as any human and as simple as the idea they live with. The end leaves you shocked. Its nothing that you would have expected and the last that you would have imagined. Issa , his lawyer Annabel, banker Brue are all worthy of being loved and empathized with but it was a completely another character that I felt so sad for. As a back cover states, this is "a first-class novel about the most pressing moral and political concerns of our time." No argument here.Pick it and you are in for a treat of completely new style of thriller.


Rating 3.25/5


Other details:
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Scribner (October 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416594884
ISBN-13: 978-1416594888
Price : 175 @ flipkart