Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lord of Snow and Shadows - Sarah Ash


Book 1 of 'The Tears of Artamom'

ISBN - 978-0-553-58621-3
PAGES - 574
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Fantasy

AUTHOR - Sarah Ash

BEST-SELLERS - 'The Tears of Artamom' Trilogy

SYNOPSIS - Raised by his protective mother in the sunny climes of the south, Gavril Andar knows nothing of his father - or of the ominous legacy that awaits him. But now the man who ruled the wintry kingdom of Azhkendir, a man with the burning blood of the dragon-warrior known as Drakhaoul - has been murdered by his enemies.

Expected to avenge his father's death - and still his unquiet ghost - Gavril soon learns that becoming Drakhaon means not only ascending to the throne of Azhkendir but slowly changing into a being of extraordinary power and might. A being that must be replenished with the blood of innocents in order to survive.

EXCERPT - Suddenly hot and faint from the loss of blood, Gavril felt as if he were falling deep into drowning waters. The red torchlight flickered and grew dim...

Were they going to let him bleed to death?

Kostya pressed a pad onto the edges of the cut, swiftly and skillfully binding it firmly in place.

"I can hear voices..." Gavril murmured, "in my mind..."

"The ritual bloodbond between the Drakhaon and druzhina. Sealed in your blood." Kostya took up a ring of ancient keys, rusty and intricately forged, from his belt. "These are the keys to Kastel Drakhaon. Take them; they are yours. Now you are free to go wherever you will."

FL SPEAK - This is one trilogy that I regret picking up late.

Gavril Andar. A young boy's life is about to turn into a nightmare when a dark cloud engulfs him one day. Next thing he remembers is that there is another being in his head which shows him visions of his father, he never knew, being murdered.

The tale of a painter boy in love with a princess turns disastrous when he realizes that he is the ruler of a far away kingdom of barbaric people. But the great power he inherited came with an ever greater curse. The voices in his head grows louder for vengeance as Gavril fights to stay in control of his body and emotions.

Elsewhere the ruler of Tielen prepares to conquer the kingdom of Muscobar, but in his way is the land of Azkendir where Gavril Andar is the ruler. As the forces clash for supremacy, Gavril must give himself up to achieve the terrible power he needs to unleash to save his kingdom. But with every use of his power granted to him, he becomes less human.

The Drakhoul in him screams for vengeance to seek out the killer of Gavril's father while his mother is turned into a pawn in a game of deadly betrayal. With the duty towards his kingdom in one hand and the life of his mother on the other, Gavril must find a way to save both before the Drakhoul finally takes control of him.

Stunning 1st book. What I loved most about this tale was the European flavor in the setting. Also there are few characters and it helps in not getting lost with everyone's perspective. This may not be a brilliant book in terms of fantasy but it certainly is unique.

Not much to complain about, as I certainly did like it. I would recommend this for sure. The only negative point maybe is that I read it in a couple of hours. I certainly wanted it to last and stretch a bit more. Good beginning though. Am anxious to know the fate of Gavril and Muscobar in the sequel.

My Rating - 3.5 stars

PRICE - INR 379/- [Flipkart price]

Bossypants by Tina Fey


ISBN: 978-0316056861
Pages: 277
Genre: Autobiography, humor
1st Published: 2011

Liz Lemon bares it all. Apart from the fact that Tina Fey is a funny woman, in this book she talks about her upbringing, Chicago theater days, SNL and 30 rock experience. Full of anecdotes from the show business, takes you gently into the world of stand up comedy and then cracks your ribs!


“The Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter,” from Bossypants:
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age. ..."

Nightflier Speaks:
I love 30 rock and I like Tina Fey. I like her nonchalance in being herself and using that same image to deliver comedy. So I was really pepped up to read her autobiography when a friend gifted this book, despite the fact that I don't gel well with biographies. Also its great to read something which lightens you up after a heavy read (Kiran Nagarkar's cuckold).

This book is more of a memoir. Fey sticks to timeline and starts from the start. She describes growing up in a family with a very strong father figure, hanging out with the most weird bunch of friends from an early age, summer theaters, teenage heartbreaks, bad jobs, stint with the chicago theater group, touring across America, getting married, the big break with SNL (saturday night live), having a baby and finally as a producer and boss for 30 Rock. This pretty much provides the insights into the person she is now. It is a fun story. She also tries to throw light on her 'boss' techniques which are very frankly non existent. She talks about sharing work space with a lot of talented and powerful people at the same time, which does tell you one thing. 'Dont ever come in the way of talent', let it be.

Tina Fey has had (is having) a glorious TV career, and it shows in her writing, and her anecdotes and her funny streak. And that is what makes the book a light, breezy read. But if you are expecting to take back a lot and get inspired then this is not the biography for you. It is one girl's journey from a nerdy teenager to a boss, full of energy, enthusiasm, hard work and focus.

Nonchalant, nonfussy. Signature Tina Fey-ish stuff.

Rating: 3.5/5

Price: INR 624 (Flipkart)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Room- Emma Donoghue


BEST SELLERS: Slammerkin; The Sealed Letter; Room was long-listed for the 2011 Orange Prize; won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Caribbean and Canada); and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2010.


GENRE: Fiction


It’s Jack’s birthday, and he’s excited about turning five. He lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 11 feet by 11 feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real- only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits that there’s a world outside…


When the door knocks, Ma lets Dr. Clay in, she puts her mask back on and mine. He’s not very scary now.
‘How’re you doing, Jack?’


‘Gimme five?’

His plastic hand is up and he’s waggling his fingers, I pretend I don’t see. I’m not going to give him my fingers, I need them for me.


This is a book that I’ve been eager to read ever since I saw it on display; having finally got it, I can say it was worth the wait. Reading the synopsis got me drawing my own conclusions about what might have caused this woman to keep her kid confined in a room for five whole years; I wondered how she managed to survive herself, or whether she’d been making trips outside while she kept her son hidden away for reasons unknown. There was much more to the story than I’d expected, or predicted.

Tempted though I am to let you make your own guesses, because that would only add to the shock that you’re likely to get when you realize what led to this situation, I must hint at the cause- for what I found best about the book was the way the plot developed AFTER the mystery behind the confinement was revealed. What we usually get to read is a story which ends with the ‘bad guy’ getting punished, and the protagonist living happily ever after. What we see here is the story after the supposed ‘ending’.

The first person narrative by none other than a five year old brings to the fore the effect of change and a person’s reaction to it, a person's need for closure, and society’s attitude towards anything that’s out of the ordinary. Beautifully depicted is the loving bond between a mother and a child, and their separate methods of handling change, of looking at life, of dealing with problems. This novel does have some flaws, and I was a shade disappointed by the fact that it didn’t turn out to be the thriller that I thought it would be. But what was amazing was that it wasn’t a dark, depressing story.

Sure, there were scenes where I almost felt claustrophobic just reading about Jack and his Ma’s life in Room; but the humor in the novel definitely took me by surprise. Jack is possibly the most adorable toddler ever written about; I actually wished I could give him a big hug, such was the impact that his narration left on me. In fact, there were certain moments when I laughed out loud, as I read Jack’s hilarious comments which were so wonderfully innocent. With endearing characters that deal with real life problems that threaten society, Room will open your eyes to the world Outside. Go for it.

RATING: 3.5 on 5

PRICE: Rs.325/- (Picador)


Sunday, January 29, 2012

The House of Silk - Anthony Horowitz


A Sherlock Holmes novel

ISBN - 978-1-4091-3383-4
PAGES - 294
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Detective/Mystery


Anthony Horowitz is the famous TV screenwriter who created the legendary 'Midsomer Murders' and 'Poirot'

SYNOPSIS - It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221B Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.

Intrigued by the man's tale, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston. As the pair delve deeper into the case, they stumble across a whispered phrase 'the House of Silk': a mysterious entity and foe more deadly than any Holmes has encountered, and a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society itself...

EXCERPT - 'Influenza is unpleasant,' Sherlock Holmes remarked, 'but you are right in thinking that, with your wife's help, the child will recover soon.'

'I very much hope so,' I replied, then stopped and gazed at him in wide-eyed astonishment. My tea had been halfway to my lips but I returned it to the table with such force that the cup and the saucer almost parted company. 'But for Heaven's sake, Holmes!' I exclaimed. 'You have taken the very thoughts from my mind. I swear I have not uttered a a word about the child nor his illness. You know that my wife is away - that much you might have deduced from my presence here. But i have not yet mentioned to you the reason for her absence and I am certain that there has been nothing in my behavior that could have given you any clue.'

FL SPEAKS - Sherlock Holmes is back....

Anthony Horowitz, known for his tv show Poirot, has brought the legendary Sherlock Holmes back...atleast for one last time.

It begins with an introduction by Dr. Watson, Holmes compatriot while solving crimes. Watson mentions that this is one of the two crimes that he didn't publish because of the implications Britain would have faced.

The House of Silk may be one of the most toughest challenges Sherlock ever faced. The narrative is stunning and even though I tried to find a flaw in the author's work, I was surprised to see that it felt like reading Conan Doyle all over again. The details is fascinating and as in the case of Sherlock Holmes, it is always in the details.

A man arrives at 221B, Baker Street asking for Holmes' help to stop a stalker. A case of business transaction and theft gone wrong leads to a vicious murder of a young orphan and introduces us to the elite, powerful group called 'The House of Silk'. What begins as a normal investigation is blown to bits when Sherlock Holmes is arrested for killing a young girl under the influence of heroin.

As Watson races to clear his friend's record and stay ahead of 'The House of Silk', the first case of the stalker comes back to the fore and soon they realize that both cases might be connected in a bizzare way. And to make things worse, Holmes escapes from prison the authorities are after them.

Stunning, stunning tale of brilliance. The ending is mind blowing. Even though Moriarty was his greatest nemesis, 'The House of Silk' may well have been one of the deadliest foes Sherlock has met. The revelation is gruesome and in 1890, you would have actually balked at the possibility of such a thing.

The greatest surpise of the entire plot is the introduction of James Moriarty for the first time. I will not reveal more of this. If you love Sherlock Holmes, you'd want to read this yourself. If you haven't read any of Holmes cases till now, I have no words for you.

Anthony Horowitz, I thank you for bringing a legend back to life.

P.S| Do watch the new show 'Sherlock'. Its simply phenomenal. Season 2 is currently airing.

My Rating - 5 stars

PRICE - INR 600/-

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Accused- Mark Gimenez


A Scott Fenney novel

Author: Mark Gimenez
Best sellers: The colour of Law, The Abduction, The common Lawyer.

After years of silence, Texan lawyer A.Scott Fenney receives a devastating phone call from his ex-wife. She has been accused of murdering her boyfriend, Trey- the man she left Scott for- and is being held in a police cell. Now she is begging Scott to defend her.
Scott is used to high-stake cases, but this one is bigger than anything he has handled before. If Rebecca is found guilty, she will be sentenced to life imprisonment. Her future is in his hands.
As he prepares to take the stand in the most dramatic courtroom appearance of his life, Scott is forced to question everything he believes to get to the truth- to save the life of the ex-wife he still loves.

Scott stared at the bloody bed where his wife had had sex with another man.. and where that man had died. He thought he had long ago come to terms with the fact that his wife had lain with another man. He was wrong. He was just now coming to terms with that fact- with that image- of Rebecca and another man - in their bed- having sex.. and then someone stabbing that knife into his chest while he slept. Had Rebecca been that someone? His face flushed hot. He couldn't seem to get a breath in the stale air.

Maithili Speaks:
This is the first book on law that I have read other than John Grisham books and the book doesn't disappoint me.
The story is fresh and unputdownable. When Trey Rawlins- a pro athelete gets killed, all suspicions point to Rebecca Fenney whose fingerprints are found on the butcher knife and who was the only person with Trey when he was killed. Rebecca swears by the fact that she doesn't remember much from that night due to high alcohol and cocaine. Her lawyer and ex-husband is fighting her case for the simple reason that, she is his child's mother and he still hasn't got over her.
As Scott gets down to fight her case and starts his own investigation- lot of skeletons are out from the closet of the good boy Trey Rawlins. He was an addict and narcissist. There seems to be a long number of people willing to kill Trey and liable to benefit from his death whereas Rebecca got nothing from Trey's death.
Rebecca depended financially on Trey and is now bankrupt. If she is innocent then how does Scott explain her fingerprints and if she is guilty, then what was her motive?
The end leaves you shocked... No amount of guessing will help!

Rating: 4.5 on 5
Price: Rs 295/-

Friday, January 27, 2012

The little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince first published in 1943, is the most famous work of the French aristocrat writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry .

The novella traces the days the narrator spends in Sahara desert listening to the story of "the little prince" a fantasy character from another planet. Each chapter from the meeting onwards, details the prince's travels to different planets, the people he meets and his observations.

The author pokes fun at a king, a businessman, a geographer, and a lamplighter, all of whom signify some futile aspect of adult existence. He tells about a rose , a fox , a snake too highlighting what humans have lost with time and what we should treasure if we can. This is a heartfelt tale of love and jealousy , loneliness and its expressions , of what make us special , of freinds we make and why , of things we waste our time and life on...

I can go on and on but can still not emphaisize the lessons and the beaity of each chapter of this book.

Sharing my favorite lines from the book still :

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. . . . It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important. . . . People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said, “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose..
"It's your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because
Read it and you will find yourself wiser and smiling at the end of it.

Other details :
Pages : 128
Price : 70

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Six Suspects - Vikas Swarup

Author: Vikas Swarup

Best seller : Q & A ( adapted into Slumdog Millonaire)

Sever years ago, Vicky Rai, the playboy son of Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh, murdered Ruby Gill at a trendy restaurant in New Delhi simply because she refused to serve him a drink.
Now Vicky Rai is dead, killed at his farmhouse a party he had thrown to celebrate his acquittal. The police cordon off the venue and search each and every guest.
Six of them are discovered with guns in their possession and are taken for questioning.
Who are these six suspects? And what where they doing in the farmhouse that night?

Not all deaths are equal. There is a caste system even in murder. The stabbing of an impoverished rickshawpuller is nothing more than a statistic, buried in the inside pages of the newspaper. But the murder of a celebrity instantly become headline news. Because the rich and the famous rarely get murdered. They lead five star lives and unless they  overdose on cocaine or meet with a freak accident, generally die a five star death at a nice grey age, having segmented both lineage and lucre.
         That is why the murder of Vivek "Vicky" Rai, the thirty two year old owner of the Rai Group of Industries and son of the Home Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has been dominating the news for the last two days.

Maithili Speaks:
This was a review on request and I must thank the one who requested it. It was a very good book . One that goes with  a lot of research and reality to it.
The plot is built around the murder of Vicky Rai who has a number of criminal record but had managed to stay free. From moving his car over pavement dwellers to killing black bucks (guess who??) and the murder of Ruby Gill (another case of reality). When he is murdered at his own party the six suspects are:
Actress Shabnam Saxena, a tribal named Ekati from Andaman, an American fork lift operater called Larry Page, a mobile theif Munna mobile, Mohan Kumar - a corrupt bureaucrat who feels he is Mahatma Gandhi due to some mental problem and Vicky  Rai's own father- Jagannath Rai.
What motive could these people possibly have and how did they land up at the farmhouse makes the story. A very detailed description of life of the above suspects, a good building of plot and you just cant ignore the honesty of the book.

Rating: 4 on 5.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pigs Have Wings- P. G. Wodehouse

‘You don’t analyze such sunlit perfection; you just bask in its warmth and splendor.’ – Stephen Fry

1st PUBLISHED: 1952

ISBN: 978-0-09-951398-8

BEST SELLERS: Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen; Thank you, Jeeves; Blandings Castle

GENRE: Comic Novel


Can the Empress of Blandings win the Fat Pigs Class at the Shropshire Show for the third year running? Galahad Threepwood, Beach the butler and others have put their shirts on this, and for Lord Emsworth it will be paradise on Earth. But a substantial obstacle lurks in the way: Queen of Matchingham, the new sow of Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, Bart. Galahad knows this particular pretender to the crown must be pig napped. But can the Empress in turn avoid a similar fate?

In this classic Blandings novel, pigs rise above their bulk to vanish and reappear in the most unlikely places, while young lovers are crossed and recrossed in every room in Blandings Castle.


‘…Pardon me, m’lord, can you see Sir Gregory Parsloe?’

‘No,’ said Lord Emsworth, having glanced about the room and failed to do so. ‘Where is he?’

‘Sir Gregory telephoned a few moments ago to say that he would be glad of a word with your lordship. He informed me that he was about to walk to the castle.’

Lord Emsworth blinked.


‘So Sir Gregory gave me to understand, m’lord.’

‘What does he want to walk for?’

‘I could not say, m’lord.’

‘It’s three miles each way, and about the hottest day we’ve had this summer. The man’s an ass.’

To such an observation the well-trained butler, however sympathetic, does not reply ‘Whoopee!’ or ‘You said it, pal!’ Beach merely allowed his upper lip to twitch slightly by way of indication that his heart was in the right place.


You do not need to have a look at the back of a Wodehouse book to know that it’s going to be good, because it’s bound to be. Pigs Have Wings is in fact a sequel to Blandings Castle; however, I happened to read this one first and it was as easy to follow as a book that isn’t part of a series. Although some references might go over your head and not make much sense, on the whole, you’ll find yourself with a smile on your face all through the reading of this novel.

Despite being someone who doesn’t really care about the rearing of pigs, I found myself sympathetic to the adorable, forgetful Lord Emsworth- whose life seemed to depend on his wonder pig, Empress of Blandings, winning the Shropshire Show. (Incidentally, the fattest pig wins.) The funny thing is, while one tends to relate to his annoyance with his domineering sister Lady Constance Keeble, it’s equally difficult not to empathize with her exasperation with the Earl’s abysmal memory.

Beach the butler- with his sophisticated aura (trust me, he’s more so than the gentry in this book) and incredible patience is my favorite, although every character is so charming that it’s tough to decide who you like more; the shrewd and impressive Galahad Threepwood might just be the one I like best apart from Beach. The way he tries to get the Queen of Matchingham out of the way, so that the Empress gets the first prize and he- among others- wins the bet, and the consequences of his actions are wonderfully amusing.

And then there’s the fantastic sub-plot revolving around several couples which seems to be a brilliant parody of love; as each of these characters tries to unite with their beloved (or escape them), their lives become intertwined with hilarious results. Wodehouse books are well known for their happy endings, and this one would not leave you disappointed. Looking for entertainment and subtle humor? This is the one for you.

RATING: 3.5 on 5

PRICE: Rs.195/- (Arrow Books)


Thursday, January 19, 2012


ISBN 0-14-100567-X
PRICE-Rs. 200

SYNOPSIS: ‘The sweet taste of wine comes from the muscadelle grape, and the greyish mould that it attracts. The mould is lovingly called pourriture noble, noble rot’.
It is the careless abandon of wine-satiated afternoon that brings together the imperious Mrs.Masood and the humble carpenter’s wife, Malika. As she observes the wealthy woman whose family is responsible for all her troubles, a plan takes shape in Malika’s mind to recover the money Mrs. Masood owes her husband, and rescue her son from slow death in Mr. Masood’s carpet factory.
Unknown to both women, the moment marks the beginning of a relationship that is to change their lives forever.
Into the complex web of Malika’s plan are drawn Mr. Saeed, who dwells in his study with his ruby-studded armallido; the Pathan with the sun dappled eyes; Momin of the hennaed hands with his love for fish and birds; and Saima with her unpredictable affections and fabulous stories.
Vividly narrated and full of funny yet complex dilemmas this is a novel about the sweetness of life and about how we inexorably drive ourselves to our own doom. It marks the debut of a gifted storyteller from Pakistan.

EXCERPT: the carpenter Chaudry was polishing the table when Mrs. Masood walked into his store. A battered radio crackled: o Saqi! Pour me one more drink, just one more....He lowered the volume and bowed, ‘Good Morning. You’re right in time. I just finished it’.
‘Hmmm’, she replied, spreading her fingers over the sides of the table.
‘I did it all myself,, the carpenter beamed with pride. ‘Exactly as you requested, with no help from the young apprentice’, he pointed to his assistant in the corner. ‘How do you like it?’

ANUSHREE SAYS: This was my first book in the genre of Fiction and I surely was not disappointed. The title refers to a French wine or to be more precise the grey mould which is formed around the muscadelle grape during fermentation. The story involves three families- Masoods, Chaudry and Saeed. Malika and Mrs. Masood are the central characters of the novel. Both are doting mothers who want the best for their children, former is a servant while latter is a mistress. Malikas young son Momin works as a child labour in Mr.Masood’s carpet factory. As a mother she wants him to study, grow up to be a learned individual but her husband, an old carpenter, wants Momin to work so that they can accumulate wealth for their daughter Faikas wedding. On the other hand Laila, Mrs. Masoods daughter is all set to marry a French businessman; lavish preparations are being made to make it a memorable event. Malika wants to free her son from the clutches of the carpet owner and wants to teach the rich mistress a lesson. In the process she gets entangled in a vicious cycle of deceit which lead to various situations, some hilarious while some heart wrenching. The story has been written from Malika and Mrs.Masoods point of view.
We have often heard that human mind is very powerful and if we have proper co-ordination between our actions and imaginations, nothing is impossible. The story basically highlights this point. Mrs. Masood was brought up by a strict grandmother and even now she feels that the old lady keeps an eye on her, though she is dead. Whenever she does anything wrong, her conscience doesn’t let her stay in peace and she is haunted by her grandmother thoughts. Malika makes use of this weakness and tries to settle scores with her. While playing on others weaknesses we often stumble upon ours and some ugly realities show up. This is what happens with the poor servant and she finds herself helpless in many situations.
The novel has been beautifully written and maintains a flow. It makes the reader yearn for more. I personally loved the way she gave words to the complex human emotions that we as mortals go through. Some situations are real while some tinker our imagination and make us ponder.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carré

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
ISBN: 1444728172
Pages: 432
Genre: Thriller, espionage
Bestsellers: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy , Smiley's People, The Constant Gardener

George Smiley has been called off from his forced retirement, to hunt down a mole well settled in the high ranks of the British intelligence. He must take upon the trail left behind by his former and now dead boss Control and doubt everyone around him, including himself. A chilling tale of the post cold war European politics and cat and mouse race between Karla and Smiley and the twisted British circus (MI6).

Nightflier Speaks:
I was pretty darn excited about the movie of the same name which released 2 weeks back. And promptly picked up the book from my brother's book shelf before the movie watching experience. I still curse myself for picking up a classic so late. But I have started with John Le Carre nonetheless. It doesn't feel that bad now.

The first thing that hits you about the book is how deeply the characters are developed. And how non glamorous they are! Seriously from Ian Fleming Bond to Carre's Smiley, you can clearly see the two ends of the spy spectrum. Smiley is extremely subdued, constantly cheated upon by his beautiful wife, is not an action figure, is middle aged with sagging cheeks, is not unusually charming. So very unlike his other British contemporary. And same goes for all the other characters and plot. There are no bombs exploding or random gunfires taking place. This is 'serious' spy fiction and these are some very boring intelligence officers without the frills of fanfare and fame. They work underground most of the times and hardly get any credit for saving the government's behind. Still they go on. Because it's a way of life. For them.

And with such meticulous details, John Le Carre' builds up a classic thriller tale. Of espionage and deceit. Despite all the spy-ness of the officers, these are real people with real secrets. And Carre portrays them so well, that you are hooked. 
Agreed that the British English sometimes gets to your head and the internal spy lingo (code words) makes you google stuff more than you would like to. It is a worth read, despite all the challenges.

The book is like a well laid out chess game with a set of seasoned players, with the reader going over it in his head and watching every move, still not getting what might be happening. And there is a strange delight in that!

[Since it is a thriller I have not given away any plot details, except for in the synopsis.]

Rating: 4.5/5
Price: 299 (Flipkart)

You were my crush.... till you said you love me

AUTHOR - Durjoy Datta is bestselling author of five books, Of Course I Love You! (2008), Now That You're Rich! (2009), She Broke Up, I Didn't! (2010), Ohh Yes, I Am Single! (2011) and You Were My Crush! (2011). All these books have enjoyed prolonged stays on various bestseller lists including and especially the Flipkart.

All his books are apparently (as written in its texts time and again) inspired from real life incidents.

From the cover stats, His books have sold a total of 1,000,000 copies till date making him one of the highest selling Indian authors till date and also One of the youngest and the most prolific authors in the newly emerged coffee table paperback Indian fiction scene.

Durjoy is a mechanical engineer from Delhi College of Engineering (DCE) and did his management from MDI, Gurgaon in 2011, he now co-owns a publishing house with other writers of similar genre like Sachin Garg of the “I’m not 24, I’ve been 19 for 5 years” fame.

Orvana Ghai is the co-author of this book

SYNOPSIS Durjoy Datta's fifth book highlights itself as a true story based on his misunderstood brother - Benoy Roy. People say a lot of things about Benoy.

'I love him, but I don't want him to drive a Bentley,' his mom says, Or used to say. She is dead now. He drives a Bentley.

'He is a stranger to me. I haven't seen him since he was eight. I receive his credit card bills though,' his dad says.

'He should stop drinking,' his maid says.

'...stop bribing professors,' his best buddy, Eshaan advises him.

'Good for nothing, brat!' his best friend, Diya says.

'I never want to see you again. Stop stalking me or I will let my boyfriend know,' the love of his life says.

'You're the best,' his brother, Deb claims.

Between all this, who is the real Benoy?

This story is about him picking up the pieces of his life and trying to find a meaning out of it. A big car, a big house, does it solve anything? Why is that despite having everything, he has nothing?

You Were My Crush! is Durjoy's fifth book.

Pulkit Speaks – Nothing new to offer.

In the mid-end of last decade, when Indian Fiction scene started gaining popularity with the rise of Chetan Bhagat jonour of first person light hearted narrative, one of writers that emerged to be a highly loved person of that style was Durjoy. I have been closely following his rise right from the start of his writing career and have read all his works so far. Love them or hate them, but you can’t deny the fact that he sells, and sells big time.

This is his fifth book, as I have mentioned in the synopsis, it also is a Flipkart bestseller, and have great reviews there. Saying all that, I personally felt that this book is among all his titles, the most predictable, boring and substance less. After the days of “Of Course I love you… till I find someone better”, and “Now That you are rich… Let’s fall in love”, Durjoy’s ability to bring something fresh on the table have constantly been on a low down. His last three books, including the one I am reviewing this time have failed to bring on my face a fresh story, that has characters not resembling his first two titles.

In third and fourth book, he almost re-narrated the first two in more elaboration and yet succeeded in selling so many copies, which shows that he does have a fan base, which reads his work irrespective of the originality of Idea and storyline base that it offers.

The third and fourth titles, still had more moments of fun as compared to this one. This book clearly shows how it has been rushed into publication and lacks the Durjoy Magic that his initial books had. Benoy Roy’s character has nothing new to offer, he has no shades that have not been displayed by Deb in some portion or another in past titles. His dad is almost too perfect to be true and you can almost predict 100 pages in advance to the end, how eventually he will fix everything in the same manner that he eventually fixes it. At times, its over flattery and attention for his charm, that makes it a little boring. His best buddy Eshaan is almost a side kick, that has no shade of his own, he fails to leave any impression on the mind of the reader and is almost never present in the story. Same tragedies have struck to Deb and Avantika, they are there, god knows why? And yet never there in any of the plot or main script scenes doing anything noticeable, the sheer presence less existence of those two is something that’s almost disturbing for someone like me, who have read so much about them in the past from his pen. Either those two should have not been a part of this at all, or they should have been given more backbone than what they eventually got. Diya, initially appears as a strong confident ambitious and composed girl who gradually become a close friend of Benoy, but after the entry of her super gorgeous sister Naina in the story, she is nothing but a name being mentioned once in a while after every few pages, just to remind readers that she is there and will suffer big mishaps just to connect dots of Benoy’s love life in the end. Their parents, in the story almost have no opinions of their own. They are confused and right from start to end, appears to be dependent on mercy of others wisdom to see the obvious. Naina’s fiancée is almost a ruthless mean greedy boy, one can wonder over the course of entire story what she might have initially seen in him, considering she is smart and beautiful and not so stupid and he is dull boring and almost a bastard. He is just black and have not even a shade of grey and there hardly is a line where he shows any charm that can make us believe that Diya and Naina’s parents were indeed in their senses when they agreed to marry their rose petal young daughter to him. I mean just because he showed up at their door and accepted a relationship with her, cannot be any substance full reason to accept him as a son in law, considering the asshole he is in the whole of book.

The girl Naina, plainly comes out of fantasies, too good to be true like most of the leading ladies of Durjoy’s books, she too is smart, witty, confident, cute, charming and almost a sex goddess in bed. The love between her and Benoy, happens too easily and almost reaches its climax of success abruptly in the same manner. Their chats and sms’es being the only cheesy lines that can make one smile, this book otherwise suffers from so much lack of humor that by the time story drags to the accident of Diya and the frenzy surrounding it, one seem to have lost all interest in the core plot of Benoy’s life. The case might be that something which appeared fresh in the life of Deb in earlier novels is now nothing more than a repetitive overdose of predictable sex and boring conversations when u talk of this one.

I feel let down, by this one more so, because I was looking forward to see the independent writing of Durjoy, a person who already has a market base and could have experimented more in himself, especially since he was also the publisher of this one. But to one of his regular readers in me, he failed to deliver on grounds of not only story(unlike past two), but also as a fun-read, something his books are otherwise. The title is more interesting then the book. I have purposefully not said anything about Orvana Ghai’s writing because I am still waiting to read her, in any non collaborative write up.

Rating – 2 on 5. (Those 2 are for the cute chats and sms'es exchanged between Naina and Benoy in a few pages,somewhere in between). I restate despite being his critic from last two years, This writer is capable of far more then what he delivered this time again. A big let down and waste of 100 bucks. Looking forward to read him again, when he comes up with yet another title in the end of Feb. A book that, according to him, is his personal hard worked project.

Price – 100 Rs

Publisher – Grapevine

Purchased from CP, New Delhi

PS – Admin talk – right at the start of this year, in Admin address, FL talked about how we are planning to make the website, more and more colorful, interactive and engaging for your experience.

For this, we will be coming up with reading challenges, book review targets, games, personal Get Together events for Readers and writers of this page, Authors Interviews that would feature many bestselling writers from Indian Fiction scene especially and something for which we are planning to Hire a reporting interviewer too, Book giveaways would be there like always, once in a while to bring a smile on your face… and many more other exciting things.

All your suggestions are welcomed in regards to the same. A constant feedback will keep us make sure, that we are on the right path. And by right path, I mean, the path that u want us to tread on.

So mail at alotofpages@gmail.com or contact us on Twitter or Facebook to make sure that u let us know, everything that’s in your mind. We shall answer every mail or message received, that’s a promise that I make in our endeavourer to keep this medium as interactive as it can be.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Aslam Rahaman's 'The Fortune Hunters'

AUTHOR: Aslam Rahaman
Genre: Romance
PRICE: Rs.150 (Flipkart price-Rs.143 after discount) 

'The Fortune Hunters', Aslam Rahaman's debut novel  is a cross cultural Hindu-Muslim love story set in modern day India.
nikhimenon's views-
The plot-Aamir,a young Muslim is a happy go lucky guy who falls in love with Ragini who belongs to a conservative Hindu family.Set in New Delhi 'The Fortune Hunters' is the touching saga of their love which crosses all barriers of religion.The story is narrated in part by Aamir,the protagonist and by an omniscent narrator. The story leaps back and forth in time over a five year period.Though the book has got a wafer thin story line the twists and turns happening at regular intervals  and the witty one liners  makes this one a real page turner.
The Characters-The book is basically the love story between Aamir,an MBA graduate(thankfully no college sequences are there in this book!) and Ragini,a young Brahmin girl.Aamir's friends Devesh and his friend Manjari,Rohit,Aamir's brother Sohail, are some of the other characters.What I found brilliant about this book is how the lead characters were built – tangible, and believable.Aamir is the typical middle class North Indian boy while Ragini is the small town conservative Hindu-Brahmin girl.The other notable character is that of Manjari,the smart chick.
The writing-The language is pretty simple which makes the book an easy read.The author who is very well aware of his target audience  hasn't resorted to unnecessary wordplays or other gimmicks.Most importantly this work is devoid of the clitches that is often associated with a book of this genre.The protagonists don't try to be 'cool' as it's often the case with the routine MBA/college love stories these days.Rahaman's Aamir and Ragini are normal middle class Indians whom the average reader can easily connect with.The book is peppered with witty one liners and some really interesting incidents which is sure to go down well with the Young urban reader.The scene where Aamir discovers the Bengali cuisine on his first visit to a kolkatta restaurant is genuinely hilarious.Similarly the marriage scene of Aamir and Ragini has also been narrated really well.So were the climactic sequences happening inside the court room.Though Aslam has succeded in telling the love story between Aamir and Ragini  in a convincing and entertaining manner it is a pity that the author hasn't bothered to dwell into the age old Hindu-Muslim cultural differences when he had enough opportunity to do so.
                On the downside the book suffers from un necessary detailing at  places(the Sofi-Tabassum episode) whereas some vital incidents in the story gets very little importance(the scene in which Aamir discovers the truth about Ragini's friend Madhu).Corny lines are also there in plenty.For instance,in a particular scene (when Aamir is teased by Pinaki on his one night stand with Manjari) Aamir delivers this corny gem-"Virginity is never dignity but it's a lack of oppurtunity'.Repetition of some phrases and the minor grammatical errors which creeps in between also hampers the free flow of the narrative.The excessive usage of technical jargon at places could also have been avoided. Anyways at a time when atrocious works like 'Revolution 2020' are turning out to be the best sellers I believe Aslam Rahaman has got a winner in 'The Fortune Hunters'. 

Rating- 3/5( A decent debut)

(Aslam Rahaman is a young financial professional based in New Delhi where he lives with his wife and his son.'The Fortune Hunters' is his first published work.This is an author requested review) 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thunder Over Kandahar

ISBN: 978-93-80069-47-0

PRICE: Rs.195

SYNOPSIS: Best friends Tamanna and Yasmine cannot believe their good fortune when a school is set up in their Afghan village; however, their dreams for the future are shattered when the Taliban burn down the school and threaten the teacher and students with death. As Tamanna faces an arranged marriage to an older man, and the Taliban target Yasmine’s Western educated family, the girls realise they must flee. Travelling through dangerous mountain passes, the two unaccompanied teens find themselves in mortal danger as they confront land mines, a suicide bomber, and roving bands of the Taliban. But when the two girls are separated, they are left without the one thing that has helped them survive-each other.

EXCERPT: As another dawn broke they stood on a hilltop. Above, the soaring mountains, streaked in ruby, yellow, and muted silver, looked cold and foreboding. Below, poplar trees flashed silver and green leaves. Small white almond flowers blanketed the hills. But down deep, in the gullies and crevices, were graveyards of trucks, tanks, donkey bones, and maybe human bones, too.
A twig snapped. Yasmine grabbed Tamanna’s arm and pulled her down behind a rock. “There!” She pointed. Above, standing on a rock face, a boy waved to them.
“What should we do?” Tamanna whispered.

ANUSHREE SAYS: As the title suggests it is a story set in war torn Afghanistan. As students while studying History we have read a lot about the beauty of Afghanistan, it was a country which was known for its culture, architecture and was home to many poets. Now we read about the tensions and the constant wars going on in that country. This particular story highlights the problem of “contemporary” Afghanistan. There is conflict going on between the foreign forces who want to help in the development of the nation and the Taliban.
The two main characters in this novel are Yasmine and Tamanna. Yasmine is a young girl who was born in England, attended primary school in Oxford and was then brought to Afghanistan by her parents. They wanted to serve and contribute towards the development of their homeland. Her parents are her biggest support and want her to get proper education so that even she can serve her country. On the other hand Tamanna is a shy and timid girl who has been born and brought up in the conservative environment of Afghanistan. She is looked after by her mother and an abusive uncle. Two very different individuals who develop a strong bond of friendship and are willing to help each other in any situation. The story has been narrated from Yasmine’s point of view.
The story has been beautifully narrated by the author and does not lose grip at any point of time. The situations, conversations and the emotions all seem to be real and completely connected to the geographical scenario of the nation. I was personally moved by the part when the two girls set out on their journey to gain freedom from the harsh realities of life. They face land mines, Talib soldiers and go through mind conflicts which prove to be impediments in their path, but they don’t lose their will and eventually get the way. An emotional story written with utmost honesty and touches the readers heart.


That Thing called Love - Tuhin A Sinha

Author - He is known for the novels, Of Love and Politics, That Thing Called Love, and 22 Yards. Apart from writing novels, Tuhin has contributed guest columns to India's leading print media publications and scripted television soaps too.

Synopsis - Tuhin's first novel, That Thing called Love, was released on 25 September 2006. It is set in the backdrop of Mumbai monsoons and explores relationships in the contemporary urban set up of the city, in the phase of changing moralities. The book has sold over 70,000 copies.

The protagonist of this story works in an advertisement agency. He has two other friends which share a lot of text space alongside him in the course of narration. They are; Anil - a person who is patient enough to let his wife come out of a broken relationship, and Vishal , a playboy who tries to share bed with every single girl he sets his eyes on.

Mayank falls in love with the Creative head of his client agency, a beautiful married lady named Revathi - who he must win to prevent his boss from firing him. As coffee conversations in professional meetings, become more and more informal, they two gradually become close friends. As she is married, her intimacy with mayank starts affecting her relationship with her husband. This further intensifies to a point, where they finally decide to break their marriage, after 10 years into its commitment.

The story is essentially weaved as three threads of three friends, Mayank's story being in the limelight most of the times.

Mayank lives in disillusionment, aspiring, with diminishing hope, to fall in love in all Utopian earnestness and with his 'perfect woman'. The irony eventually arises when he identifies the image of his 'perfect woman' in an older happily married woman. The dreamer in him sets aside ground realities to flow with natural impulses, leading to a dangerously complicated relationship between the woman and him.

Pulkit Speaks -

mood spoiler

on flipkart, the stats for this title shows - 10 reviews with rating 5 stars, and 7 with rating 1 star, while 0 count for each 2 and 3 star. The mere figures reveal a clear cut fact about the book, that either one can like this one a lot or can completely hate it. For me, the word would be Hate.

The book that from the cover picture and back cover note promises to be a compelling tale of relationship complexity, eventually turns out to be just a timepass depressing tale. The end as it rightly claims is unusual. It is yes, unusual, and at the same time, disturbing, depressing and morose-full.

I shall start by throwing some light on the positive side of it.

The book is definitely close to reality and bold too, in its Idea of portraying the theme of changing relationships in context of urban India. The fact that it has a gay intercourse seduction scene and an extramarital sex narration clearly shows that publisher wanted to break certain ground rules of paperback coffee-college fiction from this title and wanted this one to be taken seriously as an unedited harsh on-the-face relationship drama. The story also scores on partial notes, where it genuinely attempts to bring up a plot that has more substance compared to books of the same price tag and covering, something it eventually fails to do as the over-simplistic text fails to deliver the sheer complexities of the story. The book has suffered a big led down from its sleazy bollywood type dialogue which kills the entire mood and set up of the scenes, many a times.

With due regards to the writer and no meaning to harm his efforts, I would like to point the negatives that I personally felt. Mayank, who is the lead, is portrayed as impertinent kid who refuses to grow up. The collective bore that his self talking turns out to be, you eventually start feeling that an undue importance is being given to him. The instant dislike for him is partially because of the way he thinks, and partially because of the way he narrates. Many conversations between him and Revathi are totally off the mark and fails to portray any adorable chemistry. They are infact boring and irritating at the same time. The promised outline of the book i.e. Mumbai and rains, and the romance around them, is being talked too plainly and too less a times, in its course.

The writer almost forgets about the other two stories of the book, which ironically move faster then the one involving Mayank and Revathi. He ends those two abruptly, as if he has almost forgotten about them.

The sex scenes in the book appear to be as made up from the fantasies of an adolescent mind, their purpose is actually not clear. Why did Revathi agree to sleep with mayank if she decided that her life with him is over ? writer lacked insight on woman’s psyche as it seemed abrupt, the willingness of the super controlled/super calm Revathi to sleep with Mayank. not enough has been told about what led to the decision. For here is Revathi portrayed as a good hearted person and married to her first love,Pranav .....things go bad and once she takes a break to save her marriage she sleeps with Mayank, the text of which is less sensual and more vulgar, almost like a lesson in anatomy in itself. In one instance of the story, She even picks up Mayank’s call while making love with Pranav to discuss his day to day issues and keeping her husband on bed waiting. The author is trying to tell us a lot of things about her, all mixing up and making a non sense of itself.

I might be judged here, by those who liked this book as a stupid, small towner, but I want to speak on the psychological impact that this book offers while trying to be an urban reality show. It does complete injustice to all its characters. Mayank finally marries his Ms Perfect but still cannot grow out of Revathi. Revathi is left without her family and despised by her friend (or love or wat i still don’t know) Mayank in the end.Pranav is given the pain of deception for the rest of his life.And poor Ria,she never got any justice. Once you attach yourself to the various characters you’re left shaken in the end.You’re devastated specially if u relate to Revathi. A complete mood spoiler.
After reading the book the reader in all probabilty gets very misconstrued about a marriage where love exists.The story shows marriage in modern life as an open relationship ripe with misunderstandings, physical unsatisfaction, insecurity and dalliances.

Rating - 2 on 5. For a title that has sold so many copies and have so many good reviews on net, I expected more. An effort to write a thoughtful book has just led to
cacophony of thoughts and a mirage of an otherwise complicated yet good story.

Price - Rs 100.
Published by Shristi.
Purchased from - National book depot, Mall road, Kanpur.

PS - Read this one, almost 2 years ago. A request to review this came and thus I took up the thought process of recollecting instances of the book to shape up a review. This book was read by three other people in the family, and none of them too liked it.

PPS - I continue to seek apologies for being so irregular with the reviews and comments on the page. Many personal issues have kept me busy lately. I do visit the page almost everyday though to read all about what you guys are reading. Keep the reviews coming :) My congratulations to FL, Arpita, Numue, Maithili and all other active writers and readers here, who did an amazing job in the month of December. YOU GUYS ROCK! I wish all readers and everyone at their home a very happy new Year with loads of blessings and regards.

Review: A Tryst with Mahakaal - The Ghost who never Died by Tilak Dutta

My rating: 4 of 5 stars There are some ideas, which need the right time and right attitude. And then there are books that operate...