Monday, December 31, 2012

One Fifth Avenue- Candace Bushnell

Author: Candace Bushnell
Price: 12.70 USD
Pages: 433 
ISBN: 978-1-4013-0161-3

Synopsis (from the back of the book):
 One Fifth Avenue, the Art Deco beauty towering over one of Manhattan's oldest and most historically hip neighborhoods, is a one-of-a-kind address, the sort of building you have to earn your way into - one way or another. For the women in Candace Bushnell's new novel, One Fifth Avenue, this edifice is essential to the lives they've carefully established - or hope to establish. From the hedge fund king's wife to the aging gossip columnist to the free-spirited actress (a recent refugee from L.A.), each person's game plan for a rich life comes together under the soaring roof of this landmark building." 

This book is a modern-day story of old and new money, that same combustible mix that Edith Wharton mastered in her novels about New York's Gilded Age and F. Scott Fitzgerald illuminated in his Jazz Age tales. Many decades later, Bushnell's New Yorkers suffer the same passions as those fictional Manhattanites from eras past: They thirst for power, for social prominence, and for marriages that are successful - at least to the public eye. But Bushnell is an original, and One Fifth Avenue is so fresh that it reads as if sexual politics, real estate theft, and fortunes lost in a day have never happened before.

This was the first Candace Bushnell book that I have ever read. She wrote Sex and the City for all of you who don't know her, yet. It was a gift from a distant relative who saw it on the New York Times Bestseller list. I was reluctant at first to read it but I was in for a pleasant surprise. Many of you are probably rolling your eyes at me as soon as you see the words chick lit. However, Candace Bushnell writes in a sarcastic and witty manner. The story isn't a modern Cinderella story but rather the darker side of fame and fortune. 

The story begins with an introduction to the setting and in one way the main focal point of this novel. The one thing that all the characters have in common is their home, the glittering building of One Fifth Avenue. The rich and famous live here as well as the people who want to be rich and famous. No one is afraid to claw their way up to the top. 

My favorite thing about this novel was the fact that there were so many different characters. Sometimes, too many characters result in a haphazard story that doesn't flow well because the reader doesn't understand how all the characters fit together. In this novel, each character has a seamless way of zipping in and out of the central plot. 

Schiffer Diamond is an actress who is beautiful, elegant, and graceful. She recently moves back to One Fifth Avenue for a TV show. Her old love Phillip Oakland lives there with his aunt Enid. Neither of them are sure where they stand with each other. Enid was friends with Louise Houghton who passes away due to a rainy accident. Louise and Enid's stepmother, Flossie, had a rivalry and Flossie was kicked out of the apartment. In the old servant's quarter, Mindy lives with her husband James and her son Sam. Mindy wants to move up on the social ladder but her husband is a "serious" writer who doesn't make any money. James has the same publisher as Phillip Oakland, who now writes screenplays. When Louise Hampton dies, Mindy is in charge of finding a new owner for her floor. Just to make sure that Enid and Phillip don't get their way, Mindy lets a new couple Annalisa and Paul buy Louisa's apartment. Paul makes a huge amount of money working for hedge fund king, Sandy Brewer. Billy Litchfield is an old man who enjoys living in New York and teaching ladies, like Connie Brewer, how to navigate in the world of the rich and famous. Lola is a girl from Atlanta who wants to be famous in New York. She gets a job as Phillip's researcher, only she's twenty years younger than him and determined to marry him. Lola befriends Thayer who currently writes for an online gossip blog but wants to be a serious writer. 

Events connect all the characters together, like the discovery of a stolen cross necklace. Her characters are all so real because they all have flaws and mistakes haunting them. They behave like people which is sort of rare for chick lit. Don't get me wrong, I like reading about the girl who was swept off her feet by some billionaire she happened to meet coincidentally. One Fifth Avenue was different because it was so unpredictable. Candace Bushnell is such a meticulous writer. She draws you in little by little until you are so rapt around the novel that you have to finish it. One thing that I really enjoyed was the fact that she remembered all the little details. They reappear again and you just have that sinking feeling of dramatic irony for these characters. The characters all know each other by mutual connections but it makes sense that they know each other because Bushnell provides a concise history of each character. There is no sugarcoating and One Fifth Avenue captures the essence of the New York scene. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a different type of chick lit. 

Rating : 4/5

Sunday, December 30, 2012

RIP - Mukul Deva


Author: Mukul Deva

Binding: Paperback

Number of Pages298
Genre: Fiction, Thriller

Language: English
Price: Rs. 200 

About the Book

R.I.P. The Resurgent Indian Patriots. Self- appointed guardians of a nation seething with anger at the endless scams and scandals rocking its very foundation. Vigilantes who vow to stop corrupt politicians and colluding civil servants. Even if it means killing them. 

Colonel Krishna Athawale and his team of Special Forces officers rally to protect the country from the enemy within. They call themselves the K-Team. And no one is safe from their deadly intent. 

Hellbent on stopping them is Raghav Bhagat, rogue para commando, gun for hire and Krishna's bete noir. 

Caught in the crossfire is Vinod Bedi, Special Director CBI. Reena Bhagat, a glamorous news anchor, embittered by her husband's betrayal. And two young boys, Sachin and Azaan, torn apart by the loss of a parent. 

It doesn't get bigger. 

About the Author:

An alumnus of La Martiniere College, Lucknow, the National Defense Academy, Pune and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Mukul Deva was commissioned in December 1981 into the Sikh Light Infantry of the Indian Army. He took early retirement from the army after fifteen years of service, including a decade of combat operations in India and overseas. Now settled in Singapore, he is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and an executive, business and creativity coach. He is also a Mentor on the United Nations Institute of Training and Research Afghanistan Fellowship. He is India's leading writer of military thrillers, including the bestselling Lashkar series. For more about him, please visit his website

Yatin Speaks:
RIP by Mukul Deva is going to be an interesting read, this came in my mind right after I saw the book. A Syringe, a man carrying a gun and sun shining real hard on the cover, the book cover looked very promising and the book didn't disappoint as well and in the first chapter only, three well planned murders take place. WHATTAY !! The book had me from the first chapter itself. 

RIP here means Resurgent Indian Patriots. A team of 6 special forces ex-officers named K-Team. K-Team because all six of them had their name starting with K. Colonel Krishna Athawale leading the team. K-Team is a self appointed guardian of nation and is fed up of current political structure, corruption and scenario of the country. They want Jan Lokpal bill to be passed and a lot of other demands which they keep in front of GOI and want them act on them immediately. The political structure used in the book is similar to what we have in India and you can actually figure out whom the author is trying to target there but let's not get in there. A series of events take place intermingled with the personal lives of the characters of the book. Jealousy, love, ghosts of the past, patriotism, insanity, lust and a lot of emotions are infused in the book in an apt way.

This was my first Mukul Deva book and I just couldn't stop turning its  pages. The story grips you from the first page and forces you to keep turning the pages till the very end. A series of storms one after the another keeps you on your toes and you just keep guessing what is going to happen next. Thumbs up for RIP by Mukul Deva and if you  like pulse pounding thrillers, this one is definitely not going to disappoint you.

Swarnali Speaks :
Starting with the cover, the book has a very interesting and apt cover with a soldier carrying a gun , a syringe at the top and a bullet replacing the "I" in R.I.P. The significance of all three can be understood as the reader finishes the very first chapter. 

The main plot concerns a group of six ex-army men who call themselves the K- Team pledge to avenge the wrong  that the corrupt politicians have been doing to the nation and its people since its very independence. Why are they called the K-Team? Simply because all these six men have their names starting with a K - Krishna Athawale, Kevin David, Kulwant Singh Bajwa, Karan Singh, Kashif Nadeem and  Kamlesh Saikia. Corruption, nepotism, favoritism and the "rape" of the nation that has been happening  for over 60 years have reached the ebb as these R.I.P- Resurgent Indian Patriots decide that it is high time somebody made an effort at changing the prevailing conditions. A very utopic idea if you ask me but the book does manage to provide the readers with a momentary wish fulfillment  at a time when the real scenario of  the nation is exactly the same as depicted in the book. What I found very surprising is how the book managed not to create any political ruckus despite the fact that the author uses names and characters directly from contemporary politics. Characters like Hazarika, Sheila Kaul and her son Ranvijay, D.M. Karunakaran and Lalit Yadav are completely based on current social-political leaders like Anna Hazare, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, Karunanidhi and Lalu Prasad Yadav respectively. Incidents like the hijacking of  the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 (which actually took place in Decemeber 1999) and the Ajmal Kasab case (from the 26/11 terrorist attack) are entirely taken from history (the author however, takes the literary freedom to change the time frames of the two incidents) .

The book is a complete page turner as the very first chapter has three quick immaculately planned murders taking place one after another, taking the reader into its grip for the rest of the 298 pages. The language used in the book is extremely simple with very few ornate words used. I loved the description that the author uses at certain points to describe the particular type of weapon and chemical used for the operation. The effects of the succinylcholine, the C-18 hand grenade and its functions are explained briefly to help the reader understand the mechanism and yet not losing track of the main plot by excessive detailing. The occasional  flashes from the past are nicely blended into the stories which help in understanding the characters better. Apart from the occasional repetitive phrases and a few grammatical and typographical errors, the book is a pleasant and quick read.

The book does extremely well for a military thriller ( a genre completely new to me) and I'm planning to read the other books he has written. Grab a copy or borrow it from a friend, if you love thrillers and action, this book won't disappoint you.

Rating :4/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program. for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less - Jeffrey Archer

I don't know whether I am doing justice to this book by writing its review and I don't even know whether it would be right forUntitled you to read this review. Its a Jeffrey Archer book, it has to be good. As simple as that. But just to satisfy my hunger to share my experience with this one, I am writing this review. 

The book was gifted to me by a dear friend and a person I respect. Initially she got me a box set of Ashwin Sanghi's all three books ( The Rozabal Line, Chanakya's Chant, The Krishna Key) as my birthday gift , but I had read them already, so I asked her if we can change it and she agreed. Then I picked up Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less and Kane And Abel and I started off with the former. 

The tagline of the book says "Don't get mean, get even" and I totally believe in it. Harvey Metcalfe, a polish man living in America makes it big mostly through sly ways but he does make it really big. Then, he frames another plan to make more money and dupe people and he successfully manages to do that. He hires a person named David from US and sends him to London as a part of the company Prospecta Oil and spreads a rumour. A lot of people fall for this rumour and among them are Stephen, Jean-Pierre, James and Dr.Robin. All of them put in a lot of their hard earned money in Prospecta Oil's shares. 

Once they figure out what exactly has happened, Stephen takes the charge to get his money back and makes a plan and shares it with the other three and then begins a roller coaster ride of preparing and executing the plan prepared by Stephen and others to get their money back out of Harvey Metcalfe's pockets, obviously by crook ! ;-) 

The book is definitely a page turner and while I was reading it, I could very well figure out why it is still topping the charts among people who want to read good stories. I am not revealing anymore about the plot here! Give it a shot, the story will keep you on your toes. 

Book Source : Personal Copy
Publisher : Pan Books
ISBN : 9780330419048
Genre : Fiction

Nora Roberts - Rebellion

Author:Nora Roberts
Price: 275 INR
ISBN: 978-81-8474-802

Synopsis(As given at the back of the book) :

Vivacious Scottish beauty Serena Macgregor could never love an Englishman  Since she watched the attack on her mother she has vowed defiance.Her brothers friend Brigham Langston is no exception-despite his shocking good looks and supposed loyalty towards Scottish cause-she can give him nothing but disdain.

   One look at the fiery red head has Brigham captivated.A Sensational mix of rapier sharp tongue and angelic beauty he cant let Serena slip away.After all there nothing the English lord likes more than a challenge,Proving himself worthy of the Macgregor family respect will be a pleasure. Winning this remarkable young woman's heart is one war he'll happily wage.


Scotland,1745,Against the bloody background of the Battle of Culloden,another war is waging-the pride is humor,the victory and love.

The story begins by introducing the main lead Serena Macgregor,who is awaiting her father and brothers return from their hunting trip which she longed to accompany them on. That's how she has shown to be, a free spirit who would much rather unleash her wild red her riding horseback through the deep Glenroe forest of the highland than make a potted pie. But as all well bred women did she wandered in petticoats instead of jodhpurs and helped her mother the graceful Fiona Macgregor run the great Macgregor home.

 As she hears the clatter of horse hooves,she gets an uneasy feeling instead of the wash of excitement and relief she usually feels.Her mother quickly calls her in and rushes her into the nursery with her younger siblings. That is when it dawns upon her that it is not her beloved family but the English dragoons who have come to torment the unprotected ladies of the clan. As she watches her mother be tortured and raped, she vows to never look at an Englishman with anything but disgust. 

Ten years later,Serena has grown into a beautiful lady but is the same red headed wildcat at heart.  Her brother is up in London involved in the planning of a major rebellion against the English.  He brings home an Englishman, Brigham Langston who is helping him convince various clans of the highlands to join the fight to liberate Scotland. Serena is enraged and refuses to even be civil to him. The scars of that wretched night is burned in her memory and she is not willing to forgive nor forget.Brigham is amused by her antics and slowly falls in love with her,and is determined to make her feel the same way in time. The book has a great deal of local dialect and makes you feel a part of that era,experiencing the terror of war, loss and personal victory.

This is not a story of only love but of courage,strength and the binding loyalty of a family towards one another and the will to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.A captivating historical saga and a brilliant read.

Rating : 4/5

P.S. This is apparently a part of the Macgregor series, but the book are not connected in a way that you will not understand the plot if you read this one first.

Crossroads of Twilight - Robert Jordan


Book 10 of "Wheel of Time"

Read about the other books HERE

ISBN - 9780312864590
GENRE - Epic Fantasy
BINDING - Paperback
PAGES - 700

AUTHOR - Robert Jordan

BEST-SELLERS - The Shadow Rising, The Dragon Reborn, The Great Hunt

SYNOPSIS - [From Goodreads]

In the tenth book of The Wheel of Time from the New York Times #1 bestselling author Robert Jordan, the world and the characters stand at a crossroads, and the world approaches twilight, when the power of the Shadow grows stronger.

Fleeing from Ebou Dar with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons, whom he is fated to marry, Mat Cauthon learns that he can neither keep her nor let her go, not in safety for either of them, for both the Shadow and the might of the Seanchan Empire are in deadly pursuit.

At Tar Valon, Egwene al'Vere, the young Amyrlin of the rebel Aes Sedai, lays siege to the heart of Aes Sedai power, but she must win quickly, with as little bloodshed as possible, for unless the Aes Sedai are reunited, only the male Asha'man will remain to defend the world against the Dark One, and nothing can hold the Asha'man themselves back from total power except the Aes Sedai and a unified White Tower.

Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn himself, has cleansed the Dark One's taint from the male half of the True Source, and everything has changed. Yet nothing has, for only men who can channel believe that saidin is clean again, and a man who can channel is still hated and feared-even one prophesied to save the world. Now, Rand must gamble again, with himself at stake, and he cannot be sure which of his allies are really enemies. 

“Sometimes, pain is all that lets you know you're alive.” 
“If your enemy offers you two targets, strike at a third.” 
FL Speak - [contains spoilers]

Boy o boy, this is getting interesting. The plot continues to thicken and the conclusion is not very far away. [Okay, its still far. But we know its coming. It simply has to.]

So here's the grub. Let me simply point out what happens without going into the details. Elayne, her lovely highness is in Andor and she's expecting twins. 10 marks for guessing who the daddy is. And she ain't safe one bit. Plots to overthrow her or simply kill her arise like a bad penny everywhere. Birgitte, poor lass, has her hands full. Not to forget the bickering Elayne has to maintain with the Aes Sedai, the Sea Folk, the Kin and Nynaeve.

Elsewhere, Perrin is still in search of his kidnapped wife, who is not having a good time under the rule of the Shaido. Serves that know-it-all, puffed up chick, me thinks. And Perrin is dangerously close to making  a deal with the dreaded Seanchan to get his wife back. Even if it means betraying Rand [which he probably will do, that wolf-eyed, love-struck blacksmith]

Rand is missing. Not surprising. Since he managed to do the impossible in the last book. If you haven't read the last book and still getting your kicks by reading this one, lemme tell you, he cleansed Saidin. Hah! He has only 2 chapters in this one. So what that tired sheepherder does is send Davram Bashere to make a truce with the Seanchan. Yes, got me thinking too. But apparently Rand thinks that he can only fight one at a time. Its either the Shadow or the Seanchan. And fighting the blasted Shadow is more important than ever. Right? RIGHT??

And Oh...Remember Egwene?? She's leading her troops straight to the heart of the White Tower. And she has a problem. She wants to win but she doesn't want bloodshed. tut tut.
Frankly the other sisters just want to go back but they're not sure if they face an embrace or a death. So its a standoff. And bwoy! there's a major surprise in the end. huhuhuhu.

Now, to my fav WoT character MATRIM CAUTHON!! Yes, he's still on the run with the Daughter of the Nine Moons, the same lady he's supposed to marry in the nearby future. And what he discovers?? The lady who keeps suldams as pets may quite be one. Yes, Tuon can learn to channel the One Power. I only wish Mat put a bloody a'dam over her. When you read Mat, you know you're in for a treat. His banter with Tuon, his cursing...Light! I missed his cursing.

The one major disadvantage this book has is that many of these events occur simultaneously with the events of the previous book. So as you can imagine, the to and fro goes on and on. I told you about Egwene right? She has been travelling with her army for 2 books now only to stop to watch the view of the White Tower. And there are more plots! You'd have thought that by book 10, the time for building and adding more plots were over, but Robert Jordan is apparently a different creature altogether. He adds more and you're left wondering how will he tie those up. Fans of Mr. Jordan, who has stuck to his books till here, I'd be happy to tell you that from here on, the story quickens again.

Tarmon Gai'don is not far. And some more secrets are yet to be revealed. The Children of the Light have their own plans and so does Mazrim Taim. Romanda of the White Tower will not be silenced and the Seanchan has a far bolder plan than anyone ever guessed. And that's in the next book. Le sigh.

And I found this amazing lolcat of Mat. bwahahahaha :D


And it shall come to pass, in the days when the Dark Hunt rides,
when the right hand falters and the left hand strays,
that mankind shall come to the Crossroads of Twilight,
and all that is, all that was,
and all that will be shall balance on the point of a sword,
while the winds of the Shadow grow

My Rating - 3.5/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-
Muad'drin tia dar allende caba'drin rhadiem

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Inheritance - Christopher Paolini

A review by FL and NIMUE


Book 4 of "The Inheritance Cycle"

ISBN : 978-0-385-61650-8
PAGES :849
BINDING : Paperback
GENRE : Fantasy

Christopher Paolini

BEST-SELLERS : Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr

It began with Eragon....It ends with Inheritance.

Not so very long ago, Eragon - Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider - was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate on an entire civilization rests on their soldiers.

The Rider and his dragon have come farther than anyone dared to imagine. But can they topple the evil king, Galbatorix, and restore justice to Alagaesia? And if so, at what cost?

EXCERPT - Saphira leapt forward. Her entire body left the ground for a moment, and then she leapt upon all fours and snapped up first one, then two, then three of the snails. She did not eat the last snail, the one hiding in its shell, but drew back her head and bathed it in a stream of blue and yellow flame that lit up the land for hundreds of feet in every direction.

She maintained the flame for no more than a second or two; then she picked up the smoking, steaming snail between her jaws - as gently as a mother cat picking up a kitten - carried it over to Eragon, and dropped it at his feet. He eyed it with distrust, but it appeared well and truly dead.

Now you can have a proper breakfast,
said Saphira.

He stared at her, then began to laugh - and he kept laughing until he was doubled over, resting his hands on his knees and heaving for breath.

What is so amusing?
she asked, and sniffed the soot-blackened shell.

FL Speak -
And thus concludes the tale of Eragon.

Inheritance starts off where the last book ended. The Varden's battle march towards the city of Urubaen continues with Eragon and Saphira at the head of their army. It seems like Galbatorix is content to let them win and patiently waits till they reach the capital.

At Belatona, Saphira barely survives a close call as she is attacked by a weapon of the old magic, Dauthdaert. In the olden days, it was created by the elves, for one and one purpose only, killing dragons. Saphira survives and Arya and the elves hold on to the weapon hoping that it will be the best way to kill Shruikan, Galbotorix's dragon.

As the Urgals and Dwarves join the Varden and the march takes them closer and closer to Urubaen, Nasuada orders Roran to go to Aroughs and bring the city to its knees. Eragon and Saphira attack the city of Dras Leona but Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn wreck havoc among the Varden. Even though Eragon manages to trick Murtagh by letting him chase an imaginary Saphira while the Varden slowly take control of the city. Eragon's ruse is discovered but Thorn is injured and Murtagh flees off. The Varden captures the city and a night of jubilation ends in distraught when Murtagh sneaks into the camp and kidnaps Nasuada.

Without a leader, the Varden look up to Eragon to lead them to battle. Eragon flies off with Saphira to the fabled ruins of Vroengard, the home of the Riders to search for a solution to defeat Galbatorix. As the Varden draw closer to the capital, Eragon and Saphira launch a surprise attack on the city. To their dismay, the realize that none of their magic works within the city as the soldiers of the Varden and the Empire clash. Arya, Elva, Eragon and Saphira make their way to the throne room where waits Galbatorix with Murtagh and Shruikan.

The ultimate face-off was disappointing. Even though the battle of Murtagh and Eragon opened to us the mind of Murtagh, Eragon's fight with Galbatorix was a huge turn off! Not surprisingly since Paolini himself wondered if he would be able to finish this book and this shows in his writing. The last 100 odd pages dragged on and on. And even in those 100 pages, readers are left with more questions than answers. What happened to Murtagh and Thorn?? What happens to Arya now? who really is Angela?

Nevertheless, the tale needed an ending. The story of Eragon Shadeslayer and his dragon, Saphira Brightscales ends here. If you have read the first three, you need to read this. For closure.

My Rating - 3 stars

PRICE - INR 699/-


Background [ of the 3 books] : Eragon , the simple village boys , finds a huge egg one day that hatches into the dragon beauty Saphira. That makes him the last rider, a group of heroes who were killed by another rider and now king Glabotrix.  Eragon joins the Varden who are fighting against the king. Also , his village is destroyed and the surviving families , led by his brother Roran join the war. In end of the third book, we meet Murtagh , the half brother of Eragon who has become slave to Glabotrix and has a dragon of his own.

Nimue Says  :  when you start a fantasy fiction novel , no matter how long / how many book long , no matter how original or inspired , if you get connected , you just get connected. And you HAVE to finish it. thats all that matters. finding the end. But do you accept the end ? Sometimes Not. Every series has one character whom you want to see happily settled. And this time both Eragon and Saphira made me stay up each night to read their story. Specially the blue beauty Saphira.

Its amazing , the bond they share, the way they connect , communicate , smile and cry together. The comforting shoulder each is to other , the protective wing of Saphira and the loving charms of Eragon - all makes one connected to them. 

The book opens and goers on to describe the battles Varden has to fight to win the cities as they march towards the final confrontation with Galbatorix. I am surprised that Paolini did not introduce us well to the villain in any book before this. Galbatorix is as interesting , powerful and as dangerous as he should be. 

His interactions with Nasuada( the leader of Vardens)  as she is taken captive and later with Eragon are both amusing , politely scary and his anger is depicted well. Alongside , we get an insight into Murtagh's character and his thoughts. Finally he is not just a bounded entity but a person with his own ideas and ways.

This is all well, a little slow and bit haphazard but still I go on. And then we reach the OMG  plot of the book. More dragons ? Powerful ones ? yes ! We so needed that !!

And the final magic spell that destroys Galbatorix is something that moved me a bit. Impressive thinking there !

But but , the pages after that ..
the end , the justification, the sacrifices ...
No !! that was not an end I wanted or imagined.

I did cry. And that was for Saphira.

Rating : 3/5

Ah! another chapter closed.
Have to pick up Richard's tales now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Life of Pi

Author: Yann Martel
ISBN-13: 9780857865533
Publisher: Cannongate
Pages: 319
Binding: Paperback
Rating: 3.5/5
Copy Source: Random House India

Long before the (apparently) brilliant film was made, long before everyone was talking about Yann Martel like he was their friend from next door, my then boyfriend had recommended I read 'Life of Pi'. Of course, I didn't. But when the Universe brought me a recommendation this second time around, I decided to. And WHAT.A.BOOK! Yann Martel owns you with his dazzling writing through the 319 odd pages of the book with effortless, photographic writing, making the reading of this book no less of an experience than watching a 3D film on a 70mm screen.

'Life of Pi' is a wonderful, whimsical story about Piscine Molitor Patel - 'known to all as Pi Patel' - and his journey across the Pacific on a lifeboat with a tiger! The 16-year-old protagonist thinks he is the sole survivor of a sunken ship, until he finds himself aboard with four animals from his father's zoo - a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and Richard Parker, the Royal Bengal Tiger. The other three animals get eaten and Pi is left alone on the lifeboat with the tiger. The story proceeds to tell us how he survives the endless Pacific, keeping the tiger and his sanity alive for more than 200 days. Teetering of the edge of life and death, Pi learns the many secrets of animal life, in a bid to survive among them.

Parable-like, 'The Pacific' is the second and the largest section of the book that talk about Pi's life at sea. It is here that the meat (and a lot of astounding special effects in case of the movie) of the story lies. However, my personal favourite is the first part of the book, which is called 'Toronto and Pondicherry'. This part is about the teenager's life before the wreckage, and his finding a love for God in all religions. Martel slips in simple, insightful messages about harmony in religions, about finding divine comfort in small places and things like prayer rugs or church bells or incense sticks. This part also talks about the nature of animals, within and outside of zoos, and the author's thorough research throws delightful little tidbits of information your way, without ever preaching.

The third and last part of the story 'Mexico' is when Pi washes aboard the Mexican town of Tomatlan, parts ways with Richard Parker and returns to human habitation. The most striking part of this section is Pi's retelling of his story to two Japanese officers, who refuse to believe that Pi lived and survived with wild animals on board. Martel, through Pi, substitutes the animals with human characters and recounts his tale, leaving the reader wondering if the story was a parable all along.

'Life of Pi' is a fantastic book, and one page after another, you realise why the work won the Booker, so much acclamation, and a place in cinematic history. Readers of all kinds and ages will find this book appealing for its simplicity, brilliance and unforgettable story. It is definitely going into my 'ask-son-to-read' list of books.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In agony and ecstasy, with The Wheel of Time

I guess you'll know what this is going to be about.

You can all stop here and go back. But if you do read, I hope you read me completely, even if you haven't a whit of a clue what this is about. And this is going to be a L-O-N-G post.

THE WHEEL OF TIME, written by Robert Jordan and later co-authored by Brandon Sanderson.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

If you've read these lines somewhere, anywhere, you're reading the first paragraph of the Wheel of Time. Unless the cover says otherwise, you've absolutely no idea which book you're reading as all the books start with this stanza.

I passed my boards, avid reader by then, haven't read any fantasy except Eragon, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

Passed my 12th. Same shit.

Came to Chennai. Saw huge bookstores for the first time and found myself staring at a book called "Wizard's First Rule" by Terry Goodkind. Thus, began my moving over to the dark side.

So smitten I was with the book {book 1 of Sword of Truth}, that in no time I zipped through the next 4 books. Richard and Kahlan and Cara became inseparable from my life. [I guess Nimue knows what I'm talking about. She loves these guys as much as me]. As months passed, the later books became harder to find. And I needed more fantasy. During that time, I noticed the Wheel of Time books. Book 3, 4 in a shop, books 5, 6 in another. And yet, the elusive book 1 was nowhere to be found. And 4 years ago, I haven't even heard of online shopping. Forget about Flipkart.

While home during vacation, I happened to find myself in a quaint little bookshop. And there neatly arranged in a shelf were the books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. Book 1-6. 2 hours, an irate dad and a debit of 3500 INR later, I relieved the shop of those 6 books. Little did I know the author passed away a year earlier without completing the series.

And thus my foray into madness began.

December 25th, 2011
13 books and countless re-reads later, I sit here today waiting for the final book to be released in 2 weeks. 22 years after the first book was published, The Wheel of Time is coming to an end.

January 8 will be a bittersweet day for me and millions of other fans. Up there, Robert Jordan must be smiling from his heavenly abode.

I don't want to read it. I want to read it. But if I do, I know its the end. There will be no more Wheel of Time books. This will be the end. The Final Battle. Tarmon Gaidon.

Rand, Mat, Perrin, Thom, Egwene, Lan, Moiraine, Nynaeve, Aviendha, Elayne, Min....they will be trapped within those pages forever. I'm not ready. I am. I'm not.

Countless re-reads, thousands of hours of stalking for teasers and excerpts and voice notes, hundreds of hours of browsing youtube videos for fan made tracks compiled from the original lyrics from the books, making sure I don't read spoilers on forums, joining tens of websites dedicated to Wheel of Time fans, sleeping with those huge volumes near my pillow, cheering as Rand cleansed Saidin, breaking down uncontrollably when Nynaeve bids adieu to Lan on a suicide mission in front of my mom, smiling like a fool whenever my playlist plays the track "dance with jack o' shadows", re-reading again, making my girl read the books [she's still stuck in page 51 after 3 months!!!], vehemently opposing views of people who hate Jordan, sticking to the author when the later books went downhill, screaming my heart out on learning Brandon Sanderson will complete the series, partying with beer on knowing that the final book will be split into 3 books [which means more to read :D], waking up at 6 in the morning to be the first one to reach the bookstore whenever the last two volumes were released, *sigh*, it all comes down to one day and one fact. January 8, 2013.

A Memory of Light releases on January 8, 2013. A fitting name to a series that has spawned millions of fans. No matter what happens in the Final Battle, people are going to cry. I'm going to cry. Unbashedly. 

Wheel of Time fans are mad. They're extremely hardcore. And I'm proud to be one of them. I'm hardcore about only three things. One is Manchester United, second is Joss Whedon's cult but short-lived show 'Firefly' and the third is the world of 'Wheel of Time". I'm even going to get myself a WoT tattoo next week. And I swear I'll disown my child/children if they don't love WoT.

13 days to go for the 14th book to be out. I'm shivering like hell.

If you ever, ever, ever want to foray into fantasy, read this series. And if you've no fucking idea what I'm talking about, read my review's of the series ---> HERE

That reminds me, I need to review books 10-13 before Jan 8th.

Until Tarmon Gaidon,
and as Mat says,
Dovie'andi Se Tovya Sagain

A Wanted Man - Lee Child


A Jack Reacher novel

ISBN -  978-0-593-06572-3
PUBLISHERS - Bantam Press, imprint of Random House
PAGES - 427
GENRE - Thriller
SOURCE - Publishers

AUTHOR - Lee Child

BEST-SELLERS - Killing Floor, Die Trying, Tripwire

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

When you're as big and rough as Jack Reacher - and you have a badly set, freshly busted nose, patched with silver duct tape - it isn't easy to hitch a ride. But Reacher has some unfinished business in Virginia, so he doesn't quit. And at last he's picked up by three strangers - two men and a woman.

But within minutes it becomes clear they're all lying about everything - and then they run into a police roadblock on the highway. There has been an incident, and the cops are looking for the bad guys...

Will they get through because the three are innocent? Or because the three are now four? Is Reacher just a decoy?

EXCERPT - Delfuenso opened her mouth and closed it, and then she started blinking again, a long and laborious sequence.

Forward two, Forward twelve, backward twelve, backward twelve, forward four.

B-L-O-O-D, blood.

Backward twelve, backward thirteen.

O-N, on.

Backward seven, forward eight, forward five, forward nine, backward nine.

T-H-E-I-R, their

FL Speak - They say Jack Reacher is superman. They may be right.

Alrighty, this is my first Reacher novel, way below the ladder. And now that I'm done devouring the book, I know I'll be hearing from Reacher again.

For those of you, who's new to Jack Reacher, he isn't your average hero. He's no detective, he's better than one. He has no team [atleast on this one] and he's a beast. I mean he's like a mini version of Hulk. Not too mini.

Nevertheless, going back to the book, Jack has a busted nose [somebody obviously beat the crap out of him] and he's wandering the streets at night looking for a lift. [If this was Delhi and Jack Reacher was infact Jackie/Jacqlin Reacher, you might have already guessed what woud've have happened] Anyway, its the States and Jack needs a ride to Virginia. 

And even with the ugly face of a busted gorilla, Jack manages to find one. The fun starts here. Two guys and a girl. And Jack. And Jack realises, they're lying about everything. They aren't trying hard to lie, simply making things up as they go. And if you aren't very, very careful about what you speak, a few truths might trickle down as well.

Elsewhere, a few miles away, a man lay dead. An eyewitness saw two men scurrying away in a red flashy car. 

When the roadblocks start to appear and the women in the car start signalling Jack furtively, ze pot has just began to boil. Julia Sorenson, FBI, is with the Sheriff overlooking the body of the dead man. But when CIA and State Department, starts breathing down their necks, they realise its much worse than murder. Specially when the CIA is supposedly NOT allowed to work in the country. 

The search for two men turn to three, then to four. Jack needs to be at his best to outwit his opponents and figure out what on dear earth was happening. When an anonymous call to the FBI gets dropped, Julia figures there might be another twist to the tale.

The endgame is far too different though. And here we see the classic JACK REACHER. Guns and Jack go hand in hand. A friend of mine told me that she didn't like Reacher because he was too violent. Fortunately, there wasn't any major action sequence until the final 50 pages. And those 50 pages goes to a whole new level.

This might not be Reacher at his best, but it is still one of the ones worth reading. Look out for plot building and revelations. Its fantastic to say the least.

My Rating - 3.5/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-

Meeting the LORD Himself - Jeffrey Archer !!!

Before I begin this one, I must must must thank Ravi Subramanian. What I experienced that day was all because of him, so it would be unfair if I begin the post without thanking him. He doesn't need any introduction. His latest book The Bankster is already topping the best sellers list.

And Jeffrey Archer needs no introduction. If you don't know him, I feel sad for you. He is THE best story teller according to me and I have grown up reading his books. Kane and Abel was the first book by him that I had read and trust me the book is still fresh in my mind.

Jeffrey Archer and Ravi Subramanian Photo Credits : Ravi Subramanian's Facebook Page
Jeffrey Archer and Ravi Subramanian                               Photo Credits : Ravi Subramanian's Facebook Page
Jeffrey Archer and Ravi Subramanian we going to be in a single event at Jaipur and when I got to know about it, I was like there is no way, I am going to miss this one. But circumstances weren't favourable and then I decided to give it a miss. It was only because of Ravi, I could attend the event and the memories are forever etched on my mind. The arrangements he made for me were overwhelming. Who would have thought that I would get to see and hear Jeffrey Archer from the first row and that too in such a huge gathering. I couldn't even imagine about it but it was true.
I can quote each and every thing Jeffrey said during the event. Such a charmer he is. He talks as if he is telling a story. Shared many anecdotes and the way he narrated everything, I just kept on swooning and clapping throughout the event.

A lot of people asked him, how to write a good story? How to write a book? Can he train them in writing or all sorts of questions. He answered everything and was at his wittiest best. He told everyone, if you wish to write a book, GO OUT and do it. Why do you need inspiration, training or any sort of guidance. He didn't require any. He just started writing and look where he is today. He has sold over 30 million copies of his books and it is said that in every 5 seconds, a Jeffrey Archer book gets sold somewhere in the world.

He also read a story at the event, Death Speaks, which was the first story I had read in his book To Cut A Long Story Short.

Whatever he said was so inspiring, though it took some time for me to made all his words sink in my brain but now they have and trust me I can go on and on and on with this blog post because I have so many things to share but I won't do that.

I must put this here that Jeffrey was highly disgusted with the piracy of books and traffic in India. Both are the matters of huge concern. He always launches his books first in India because once he got to know that, when a book is released in any other part of the world, within 2 days, they were pirated and were being sold on the Indian streets, which is quite true.

The high point of the evening came for me, when I got a chance to get my books signed by him. He patiently signed all the 4 books that I was carrying with me. Here is one of them


And when I asked him if I could shake hands with him, in no time he agreed. It was definitely one of the most memorable moments of my life. I shook hands with Jeffrey, got my books signed, thanked Ravi and left the venue. The whole thing felt like a dream but it was true. I do not have many pictures of the event, but if you wish to have a look at them, you can see them here on Ravi Subrmanian's facebook page. Must say, the event was well managed, Marriot as venue and a huge gathering of people who love Jeffrey Archer, he got a standing ovation at the end of the conversation. He loves India because people are warm and caring and offer selfless love. He was overwhelmed with the kind of love and appreciation that he has got from his fans in India.

I am eagerly waiting for his next book from The Clifton Chronicles series, Best Kept Secrets which would be out on 14th March 2013 and if you haven't read a Jeffrey Archer book yet, trust me, you are missing out something. Buy a book today and start reading.

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