Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Great Hunt - Robert Jordan


Book 2 of "The Wheel of Time"

Read about Book 1 HERE

ISBN - 978-1-85723-027-7
PAGES - 707
GENRE - Epic Fantasy
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Robert Jordan

BEST-SELLERS - The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn

SYNOPSIS - The Forsaken are loose, The Horn of Valere has been found and the Dead are rising from their dreamless sleep. The Prophecies are being fulfilled - but Rand al'Thor, the shepherd the Aes Sedai has proclaimed as the Dragon Reborn, desperately seeks to escape his identity.

But Rand cannot run forever. With every passing day the Dark One grows in strength and strives to shatter his ancient prison, to break the Wheel, to bring an end to Time and sunder the waves of the Pattern.

And the Pattern demands a Dragon.

FL Speak - [contains spoilers]

Coming back to WoT, The Great Hunt is the book 2 of the epic journey of Rand al'Thor and his friends. If you've read the first book, I know you're quite eager for this one. If you've read my review of the first book [which is highly improbable], here's how book 2 begins...

First of all, Rand al'Thor has channeled the One Power by the end of Book 1 and the Forsaken are once again loose in the world. For those who dropped in here by mistake and are wondering what Forsaken are....well, they're the Dark One's minions. Once upon a time they were the most strongest wielders of the One Power until they were corrupted and turned to the shadow. The last Dragon Reborn then chained them up along with the Dark One in the prison of Shayol Ghul.

Got that? Good. So you all now know that Rand has channeled. And he's desperately trying to keep it a secret. Because when a man channels, he very soon becomes mad and wrecks havoc on the world and dies, if not already captured by Aes Sedai and stilled. Because a free man wielding the one power will save the world and doom it, according to the prophecies. Rand keeps it secret from Perrin and Mat as well and when he gets the chance to travel with them to find the Horn of Valere, he immediately tags along. What is the Horn of Valere? No am not explaining that. Just know that you need to find the horn before the final showdown against the evil Dark One.

This book explores other characters in details as well. Perrin for one, has a secret that is equally awesome and dark. Egwene and Nynaeve are preparing themselves to be Aes Sedai. And we get to hear about the Seanchan for the first time. What was once fun and laughter for the Two Rivers folk, suspicion and duty threatens to break them. Rand al'Thor will realize the price of failure if he does not accept his destiny. But accepting his destiny will mean the end of the world. And with every passing day the Shadow grows stronger.

One of the best lines in this book comes in the final few pages. The chapter "The Grave is no bar to my Call" gave me the chills. The Pattern demands a hero. Can Rand al'Thor step up to madness and his death?

Probably the best book of the entire series. By the end of this book, they've stopped running for good. And Book 3 takes the fight to them.

MY Rating - 5/5 stars

- INR 350/-

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Rozabal Line- Ashwin Sanghi

        The Rozabal Line.jpg

The Rozabal Line
Author- Ashwin Sanghi

Best sellers- The Rozabal Line and Chanakya's Chant reviewed Here


A cardboard box is found on a shelf in a London library. When the mystified librarian opens it, she screams before she falls unconcious to the floor. Within the labyrinthine recesses of the Vatican, a beautiful assassin swears she will eliminate all who do no believe in her twisted credo.

An elite army of thirteen calling itself the Lashkar-e-Talatashar has scattered around the globe. The fate of its members curiously resembles that of Christ and hi Apostles. Their agenda is Armageddon.

A hindu astrologer spots an approaching conjunction of the stars and nods to himself in grim realisation of the end of the world. In Tibet, a group of Buddist monks searches for a reincarnation, much in the way their ancestors searched Judea for the Son of God. In strife-torn Kashmir, a tomb called Rozabal holds the key to a riddle that arises in Jerusalem and gets answered at Vaishno Devi.

An American priest has disturbing visions of people familiar to him, except that they seem located in other ages, induced into past-life regression, he goes to India to piece together the violent images. Shadowing his every move is the Crux Decussata Permuta, a clandestine society , which would rather wipe out creation than allow an ancient secret to be disclosed.


Vincent continued animatedly. 'I have seen his agony as the hammers pound nails through his body. Its excruciatingly painful when the crossbeam is hoisted by ropes up the vertical post. They have placed two criminals on either side of him"
Vincent had been in a hypnotic state for close to an hour. Terry was sweating profusely as his pulse was racing. Could this be real? A person in the present day having seen Jesus upfront and alive in a previous life?

The Bible , of course,  stopped right there. This document, however, went further.
    Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Issa, who married Mary Magdala. Issa and Marry had a child by the name of Sara, who was born to them in India but was later sent to Gaul with her mother. Issa remained in India, where he married a woman from Sakya clan on the persistence of King Gopadatta and had a son, Benissa.

Maithili Speaks:

The Rozabal Line is the first book by Ashwin Sanghi originally published under his pseudonym Shawn Haigins in 2007.
Had it been that way, we wouldn't have known what a jewel of a writer we have!
Like in the last book I reviewed by Ashwin Sanghi, I m totally awed by the research and the beautiful blend of fact into fiction.

The story transports you into different eras. A little confusing in the start, by virtue of the jump from BC to AD era but each section is a engrossing read.
Past life regression, the Holy Grail, the Illuminti, Islamic terror outfits, astrology and occult sciences- all combined and equally amusing.  This book keeps you engaged in all these sections.
If you have read The Da Vinci Code and marvelled at it, lo and behold- we have our own Holy Grail story too! Quoting from various Urdu and ancient Hindu scriptures and some researched and published works, the author builds a plot that suggests that Jesus indeed lived in India!
If this didn't amaze you, the crucification and sacred rites will!

Lashker-e-Talatashar, the army of elite thirteen bears close resemblance to the 26th November attacks on Mumbai. This elite thirteen is on its way to destruction for jihad. The author has also put light on the building of Osama by the CIA, the way the Kashmiri boys enter jihad and how the module operates. The twelve terrorists under their leader Ghalib are made to look like Jesus and his 12 apostles. Really imaginative and wonderfully built.

Different nations, different lineage, different motives, different religions, different past lives- how are they all connected?
Was Jesus really in India? Where is the blood line, if at all it survived? Is it the manmade Armageddon that will end the world on 21st December 2012? What is the holy Trinity all about? Does the document called Bom Jesus hold the key? What is the Rozabal Line?

Rating- 5/5.. Yes this book made me give that :) Another one by Ashwin Sanghi, to be added into your collection..

Price- Rs 225

Happppiiieee Birthday FL !!!

It might have begun like this .. trying his dad's glasses , FL tried to read some words which danced in front of him ( not to mention the book was held upside down ;) )

And before we could know , FL could be termed this :

And thanks to this sweet creature , we have this wonderful place to come and wish we could read all the books that we see here [ yeah , keep wishing . Only he can make it possible :P ]

And to this creature , we wish a beary beary happy happy hugs and wishes for a great B'day celebrations !

Go get drunk boy !!

Love you :*

And oh , cheers !


Friday, July 27, 2012

The Kite Runner - by Khaled Hosseini

Image Source: Self-clicked.

THE KITE RUNNER: Fiction (Winner of the 2006 and 2007 Penguin/Orange Readers' Group Prize).

AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini (Born in Afghanistan. His family sought asylum in the USA in 1980. He is a doctor and lives in California. The Kite Runner is his first novel).

BEST SELLER(S)The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns (Read review of this book by Maithili Here).

1970s Afghanistan: Twelve-year old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their whole lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America. Amir realizes that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him - Redemption.

Do you want me to run that kite for you?
His Adam's apple rose and fell as he swallowed. The wind lifted his hair. I thought I saw him nod.
For you a thousand times over. 
I heard myself say.  Then I turned and ran.

It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn't make everything all right. It didn't make anything all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of the startled bird's flight.
But I'll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and may be I just witnessed the first flake melting.

MSM Speaks
Fear always stops you from taking on an adventure.
That is what I've come to believe after reading one good book after another, by Khaled Hosseini. I wondered whether I'd be able to appreciate the nuance that surrounds Afghanistan and it's facets. But The Kite Runner has been an incredible journey of friendship, growing up, divisions that we create in our own hearts and relations that go beyond kinship. 

The Kite Runner is a story of two twelve year old boys - Amir, a Pashtun and Hassan, a Hazara, who are friends without any words but Master and Servant by societal norms. Hassan can die for Amir and proves his loyalty for his Amir Agha, brother, time and again whereas Amir on the other hand, strives for the attention of his too perfect father. Over their playful fights, Amir toys with Hassan who cannot read or write and realizes that Hassan would do anything Amir would ask him to - Thousand times over. In a cold cold winter, their lives change, when in a local kite running competition Amir wins, while Hassan helping him, loses his soul in an incident, which will change the course of destiny for both the boys. Their relationship changes as Amir moves on and starts living with his father, in America. A guilt from the past keeps shredding his heart into little pieces, when he finds himself standing on cross-roads - One would let him live the way he has been, with guilt, dying every moment and the Other, might lead him to the redemption he had been seeking. 

A painfully real story of two friends, who chose different paths, accepting the destiny as it comes. Love is something, the quest for which can change what could have been. Khaled Hosseini opens the portals to a world which has been greatly misrepresented and misunderstood. A must read for anyone to have a taste of real thoughtfulness - which can be savored like a vintage wine. MSM Recommends.

My rating: 5/5 *Must read!*

The Kite Runner@ Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd. London (U.K.)
ISBN 978-0-7475-6653-3
flipkart price: 263/- INR

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan


The Eye of the World

Book 1 of 'The Wheel of Time'

ISBN - 978-1-85723-076-5
PAGES - 800
GENRE - Epic Fantasy
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Robert Jordan

BEST-SELLERS - The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt

SYNOPSIS - The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fades to myth and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again.

But one truth yet remains, and what mortal men forget, the Aes Sedai do not...

What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

EXCERPT - Finally he said, "What did you spend do much time talking about with Ila? If you weren't dancing with that long-legged fellow, you were talking to her like it was some kind of secret."

"Ila was giving me advice on being a woman," Egwene replied absently. He began laughing and she gave him a hooded, dangerous look that he failed to see.

"Advice! Nobody tells us how to be men. We just are."

"That," Egwene said, "is probably why you make such a bad job of it." Up ahead, Elyas cackled loudly.

FL Speak - When I first read this series almost 8 years ago, I knew this was going to be my favorite series of all time. And I remember buying even the hardbacks as the new ones were later released. Next year, on January 8, the final book of 'The Wheel of Time', 23 years after the first book was published, the 'Wheel of Time' saga would come to an epic conclusion.

How much the WoT series has affected me, it would be an understatement. Nevertheless, I'm re-reading all those books all over again, and today for the first time I'm reviewing those books, that made me foray into the wonderful world of fantasy and fall in love with it.

In the world of Fantasy, Robert Jordan is a controversy. Half the world will start a riot for him while the other half questions his writing. I am on the riot maker side. The Wheel of Time begins the 14 book long struggle of good vs evil. In Jordan's WoT series, the struggle between good and evil goes on. Since the creation of time, the Creator has imprisoned the Dark One in Shayol Ghul. Ever since then, the Dark One has been trying to escape. After every few centuries, the Wheel of time comes to a complete circle and the war between good and evil continues again. This is the Pattern. As the Dark One's power rises, the Pattern demands a hero to fight for the Creator. That hero is called as the Dragon Reborn.

Coming back to the book, Rand al'Thor is a young boy living in Edmond Field with his father. When an Aes Sedai and her warder decides to visit the little village, things get interesting for Rand and his friends, Perrin and Mat. Suddenly creatures of the Dark One, Trollocs, attack their village. The Aes Sedai, Moiraine, explains to them that the creatures of the Dark One are after them and asks them to flee the village for the safety of their families. [now this is the most common formula in fantasy writing, a young hero, a guide, and loads of evil monsters. Nevertheless, Jordan somehow manages to draw you into reading this stuff] As the reluctant heroes flees the terror that is chasing them, they are separated by circumstances. With danger in every town they step into, the lads and Egwene must make their way to Tar Valon or be reunited with Moiraine if they are to survive the danger and make sense of the disturbing dreams they all share.

I'd love to reveal a bit more of the book, but the joy of reading the first book would diminish if everything is spilled out. Believe me, this is one novel which follows the exact formula of escapism fantasy and yet manages to keep you hooked. The Aes Sedai's are beginning to be my one of the favourites and they remind me of the MordSiths of SoT. The poems and songs are beautifully penned. [not to mention that some are hilarious]. By midway, you'll begin to realise who's going to be the main character of the series. However, I should remind you though that almost 95 percent of the characters you meet here will be continued later, unless ofcourse they are killed or eaten by one of those nasty Trollocs. When you pick up this book, I hope to God that you read the entire series....and that means another 13 books.

And if you thought Trollocs and Myrddraals are the worst things to chase you, wait till u finish the book. You're going to want to read the next one!

My Rating - 5/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/- 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And then there were none by Agatha Christie

Publisher: Collins Crime Club
ISBN: 9780007136834
Genre: crime, fiction, mystery
Pages: 315
Bestsellers: so many :)
Published: 1939

Nightflier Speaks:
This book review is on the request of our reader Smita.

On a lazy saturday evening, with no one at home, I started reading Agatha Christie's 'And then there were none' with a bowl of maggi (instant) noodles and entered the mysterious world of Soldier Island. I have to stress at this point that this setting spooked me and in turn made me enjoy the book. 

The book tells the story of 10 perfect strangers, brought together on an island shrouded by mystery, to spend a week together. Each character's story is told in crisp 1-2 page monologues and that forms the premise. And then on the first day of stay itself the deaths start. Not only are the deaths preposterous, but they follow a pattern. A pattern illustrated by a poem (10 little soldiers). The deathly events continue and the survivors try to unravel the killer. What happens is an intriguing story of psycho-mania, justice and cold-blood.

The story is fast paced. It took me hardly 3 hours to finish. There are no major plot holes. Agatha Christie is a master at that, I think. Few characters had an element of intrigue, which made me as a reader think about situations in their life and take a decision. But as an observer I kept wondering about the real/detailed stories of the 10 protagonists. May be more details would have made the story richer. 
(On another note the story also reminded me of an old hindi movie Gumnaam. Its title track still gives me the scares!)

But as a thriller the book worked perfectly well for me, because I slept with lights on that night. Also I read an Agatha Christie after 8 years!! So this experience also made me nostalgic. So thank you smita for the request and in turn making me re-live school days.

I hope if you read the book, you enjoy it as much as I did.

Price: 157 INR (crossword)
Rating: 4/5

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thirty Year Old Virgin by Ankit Uttam


Author: Ankit Uttam
ISBN: 9380914202
Binding: Paperback
Publishing Year: 2012
Publisher: General Press
Number of Pages: 192
Language: English

Price: Rs. 125 ( I received a review copy)

About the Book:

She duped him into kissing her when they were five. Don’t judge her, she was curious.
He tried to finger her when they were thirteen. Forgive him, he was delusional.
Her boyfriend took revenge on his first day in college. And his attempt at fingering wasn’t even successful.
She knows, his heart is in his pants.
He saves her from goons and she stabs him on his heart as a token of gratitude.
She dumped her last boyfriend when they were making out. And he didn’t come after that… for a few weeks.
He dumped his last girlfriend and found a boyfriend for her, the same night. Heart of gold.
He hates dogs. She has a dog by his name.
Childhood friends. Childhood enemies.
Hate, the single common thread between them.
If he would be the last guy on this planet she will prefer to preserve her virginity till eternity.
If she would be the last girl on earth he will prefer to die eunuch.
They meet again.
Still share the same bonhomie.
But now they have another string binding them. Their hate has another companion.
They don’t want love but they miss sex. Love is anyways overrated.
Opposite poles, as they are, they know they can never fall in love.
She proposes a no holds barred physical relationship. He agrees but with caution. Which guy in his right frame of mind wouldn’t?
But it wasn’t long before they realize that each of them wants something more than the other is willing to give.
Meet Maya, the freak. She is a diva, the sparkling wine. She is unpredictable. She is fearless. She is a monster. A psychotic bitch.
Meet Arnav, the geek. He is the dude, the gifted one. He is emotional. He is a jerk. He is a manipulator. A bona-fide pig.

Swarnali Speaks : Under a deceptively simple cover is a book which is not so straight and simple. I was not really happy with the cover when I saw it first but then I realized that the name of the book is more than enough to raise brows everywhere. I had to think of a million ways to hide this from my parents' eyes. A not so bold cover helps in the camouflage process. :P You’ll know the aptness of the book’s name only when you reach the last page.

Coming to the book, the plot is a basic friends with benefits plot. But the approach is quite different. I really appreciate the author's boldness in approaching the subject of sex, especially in a conservative country like ours where even love and relationships are not expressed and talked about with ease. But when I say bold and the use of sex as the plot propeller, I do not mean that this is erotica. The first chapter does give an impression of it being so (which is basically an attempt to catch the reader's attention), but the next chapters will remove the doubt.

The main plot concerns the lives of the suave and sweet Arnav, the geek with the most unusual marketing ideas and Miss Bold and Beautiful, Maya. The narrative swings from the time the two were 5 year olds to the time when they are students at IIM Bangalore and then to the present, when both are business personnel. Apart from Maya, all the other characters are quite believable. I really loved the portrayal of the conflict in Ronnie’s character. Maya seems a bit too exaggerated. Her escapades with Ronnie seem a little unnecessary sometimes. The author's appearance in the book as a character was really funny, especially the part with the pun on his surname.

The narrative is quite pleasant and usually in the repartee form, fast moving witty dialogues. I loved the fact that the book did not have a single grammatical error (at least I didn't find any) which is a breath of relief from the contemporary Indian novels which are riddled with errors of all kinds (I don't mean any offence to other authors; I blame it on the editors and proof readers). The book begins really well and the pace is good and keeps the reader turning pages but eventually towards the end of the book, it somehow gets a little slower. Am including an excerpt from the book which I found particularly funny-

‘  “Penitentiary!” Mahatre displayed his vocab incrementing urge.

“Jail…penitentiary is jail, Mahatre. Tomorrow get one aaksfard.” Inspector was sweating profusely and it seemed to rob him of his cheerfulness if any.

Now if you haven’t yet deciphered what “aaksfard” means, it’s a reference to “Aaksfard dictionary” (Oxford Dictionary) :D :D The portrayal of the massacre of English we Indians do was really hilarious. Reminded me of Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide where he uses these localised pronunciations of English words. For example, he uses “Saar” instead of “sir”. (Sorry, I just can’t help comparing things :P).

Coming to the place where the book disappointed me. I have no idea why the author had to copy scenes word by word from the movie Friends with Benefits. In fact, an entire chapter is taken from the movie. I really think the author could have been a bit more original here. I sincerely hope he doesn’t repeat this in his next book.

Overall, a very enjoyable and entertaining read. Great for reading during those tea breaks and long bus and train journeys.

Rating : 3/ 5

Friday, July 20, 2012

Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami

Image Source: designyak.typepad.co.uk

AUTHOR: Haruki Murakami

BEST SELLERS(S): 1Q84 (Read the Review of Book 1 by Vivek Tejuja here), Kafka on the Shore, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Dance Dance Dance, The Elephant Vanishes, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and many more. Murakami has been praised by The Guardian as "among the world's greatest living novelists" for his works and achievements. 

When he hears her favorite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love, Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire - to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.

'Where was I now?'
Gripping the receiver, I raised my head and turned to see what lay beyond the phone box. Where was I now? I had no idea. No idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again I called out for Midori from the dead centre of this place that was no place.

MSM Speaks: This was my first Murakami novel, recommended by a dear friend. I've read Japanese stuff before,but was a bit intimidated with the whole reputation as a novelist that Murakami has. It was a tough task to read the book as I had too many mental blocks and inhibitions. However, there was a moment when I let go of all the shackles and then, reading became an experience. I cannot forget the impression his words left on me.

It is about the student life of Toru Watanabe, who is someone, hovering around the edges of an event and never in the middle of it, but when Naoko, the girlfriend of his dead best friend comes to his life, his feelings are in a mess. She is fragile and he is her only support. Eventually, Toru comes to term with Naoko's presence around him, like breathing. He meets different people during his stay in Tokyo, sleeps around with girls he doesn't remember the next day, seeking something that he knows, is forbidden but which only Naoko can give him.

Life seems to be stuck, when over enthusiastic and curios girl, Midori walks right into his life without any preamble. Meanwhile, Naoko has abandoned the civilization and is under treatment, when Toru meets her and realizes that she loves him as well. But eventually, Toru also wants the ever cheerful, daring and brave Midori, to color his gray, dull life. 

Murakami puts the reader in a constant swing of emotions which appear simplistic but are far more complicated. The mind of a young man and the people he meets, makes the reader feel like an observer. There were times in the book, when I did not understand where the writer intended the protagonist to go. But suddenly the pace gets fast and I am unable to keep the book down. It's needless to say, I felt like I lost a part of me when the book finished. A serious undertone but the superficiality of a young life - Norwegian Wood, worth a million reads! MSM recommends!

My rating: 5/5 *Brilliant Read*

Norwegian Wood@ Vintage Books 2010
ISBN: 978-0-099-554547
flipkart price: 269/-INR

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Terrorist by Juggi Bhasin


AUTHOR: Juggi Bhasin
GENRE: Fiction
ISBN-13: 9780143415275
PRICE: Rs.250 (I received the copy for review) 

BACK COVER SAYS: "When you are trained to endure the harshest of climates, the most hostile of situations, to survive where no ordinary man can- there's little difference between you and the terrorist you are trying to kill. Little, except which side you are on. "


The debut novel (and the first book in the trilogy) by journalist turned author Juggi Bhasin comes as a breath of fresh air. The background and plot of this book is starkly different from its contemporaries. As is evident from the very title of the book, its central concern is the terrorist, his mindset, his actions and the reasons behind it. What I really appreciate is the fact that the author has decided to bring up a subject revolving around the insurgencies, the fanaticism and terrorism that has been gnawing the nation for quite some time now. The scars of the Mumbai blasts of 26/11 and the entire routine of Ajmal Kasab’s case are fresh in the minds of every Indian. The book comes at a very appropriate time to shake us out of our complacency and make us think about the current affairs of the nation.

The author’s expertise, experience and great amount of research is clearly reflected in the picturesque descriptions of places and incidents. The attention paid to the meticulous details of the plans, the scenes is remarkable. The author’s direct experience as a journalist covering the Babri Masjid demolition comes in handy here. The incident of the blast at the Srinagar office of Lt General Pratap Singh Aulakh is spine chilling (the author has mentioned in an interview that it is drawn from a real incident that took place in Kashmir). Be it the training quarters or the Kashmir valleys, the settings are perfectly drawn to provide an entire movie watching experience for the readers.  The author has actually mentioned that he had written the book with a dream of seeing it come to life as a Bollywood motion picture someday. I would love to see the same happening.
Another remarkable thing about the book is the sketching of the characters which is done to perfection. The author delves deep into the social and psychological backgrounds of the two protagonists, Suvir and Murad. Both of them have justifiable reasons for all their actions. Suvir’s troubled personal life (which is told in flashback mode during his debriefing session); his search for his own identity has turned him into what he is now. On the other hand, the immense amount of insensitivity and injustice met by the political situations of the country to those of his religion has led Murad into turning himself into the most feared of terrorists. One cannot help but sympathize and identify to both the characters at some level. The final confrontation between the two, one on a mission to destroy and the other on a mission to deploy it is a treat for action lovers.
The Terrorist has everything that is required to make a great thriller that captivates the readers and keeps them hooked till the very last page. A brilliant plot, amazingly detailed descriptions, wonderfully analyzed characters of the two protagonists and an extremely well executed story, the book has all the ingredients. An amazing debut novel, this book is a must read. Am eagerly waiting for the other two in the series to come out.

: 5 / 5

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I, Rama Book 1 by Ravi Venu


AUTHOR: Ravi Venu
GENRE: Mythology
ISBN-13: 9780615582504
PRICE: Rs.225 (I received the copy from the Blogadda)

BACK COVER SAYS: " There will be a time when men will fight among themselves in the name of God, when peace will fail; at that time a part of me will re- emerge."

SWARNALI SPEAKS: I have always loved mythology. And as expected the great Indian epics have always been a source of fascination for me. So when I saw this book up for review at Blogadda, I knew I had to read it. The book is an attempt at retelling the well known epic tale ofThe Ramyana.

As the very title of the book says, the book is Rama’s perspective of the world around him. Rama is at almost the end of his life and he is reflecting on this past. The narrative is in first person which is very different to the third person omniscient narrator view in Valmiki’s original version. The narration is in flashback mode which is not linear as Rama tells his story to his sons Lava and Kusha and to his friends.
What I really liked about the book is the amount of research work behind it; particularly the work done on some of the characters. The author has shown Rama’s step mother Kaikeyi in a very different light in his version. All those who have read the original epic would know her as a woman who sent away the virtuous Rama to “vanvaas” under the influence of the scheming Manthara, to make way for her son Bharat to ascend the throne of Ayodhya. But here in this book she is shown as a warrior princess with an immense strength of character. Apart from her character, those of the Rishi Vishwamitra and Rama’s wife Sita are portrayed with a lot of details.
Another thing I liked about the book is that the author has tried to maintain a very scientific approach to the story telling. The stories of the origin of Ganga and the life process on earth were very fascinating to read.
I honestly appreciate the author’s attempt but the book fails in certain parts. For one thing, a book is not just what the author writes; the presentation is also an important part of it. The book has been very poorly presented, the cover is just plain unattractive, says nothing about what’s inside. Then when you open it, the lines just start so abruptly, margins and header space is not well formatted. The book contains some typo errors which can be over looked though.
The author tries hard at presenting pictures and highly imagistic scenes but I had this feeling of “lost in translation” all the time. It was like the author was thinking in some Indian language and then translating the thought into English. Take these lines –

" I see the river Sarayu; she seems to be wearing a Golden Fleece woven from the rays of the evening sun, like a beautiful celestial dancer descended from the heavens above to enter the lush green forests looking for her lost love

Now, this could have been extremely beautiful if it was written in Hindi or maybe in some Indian language but it simply loses its charm when told in English.
In a nutshell, the book is a good attempt at retelling a known story. But it does fall short in certain areas. The narrative doesn’t move very fast and it turns out to be a little boring for a reader like me. But for those who love mythology and don’t mind reading very descriptive passages, this book might be a great read.

: 3 / 5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

Margaret and Steve Frawley return home from a dinner in New York to discover the police in the house, their daughters missing, and an eight million dollar ransom note. The Frawleys meet the kidnapper's demands known as "Pied Piper", but the abandoned car they're led to contains only Kelly, the body of the driver, and a suicide note, saying he had inadvertently killed Kathy and dumped her body in the ocean.

When unexplainable occurrences follow, indicating that Kelly is in touch with Kathy, Margret finds herself alone in wanting to continue the search for her daughter. As FBI agents set out on a search for Kathy, and close in on the Pied Piper and his  accomplices, Kathy's life hangs by a thread.

Nimue Says : Kidnapping of a child can be any parent's worst nightmare. So it is for the lovely couple here, more so since they have no money to pay to the kidnappers. but eventually the money is paid and even after detailed planning , the police fails to catch the kidnappers. The couple and the rescued kid Kelly both go through a tough phase as every one around mourn the death of the other twin. Only Kelly knows differently but her attempts to talk to the parents are termed as shock reaction and no one except the mother has any hopes alive. Mary clark has nicely detailed the bond between the twins both before and during the days of kidnapping based on which the story makes a mark in your mind and heart. The fact that she offers you not one but many possible suspects , each with a detailed past and motive shows her clarity about the suspense which she maintains till the very end. The chase and the struggle of Margret to find about Kathy is both heart touching and makes the book unput-downable. The twin love can be interpreted for any sibling love , the sense of protection , the sharing  and the heart breaking communications add beauty to the story. The book so easily show case how we in any given day miss certain obvious realizatiosn and how often our intution can help not just a good sleep but also others. How the lives are interconnected and how blessed is the feeling to get the kids back home safe. But do the marks wither away ?

This is a simple tale of kidnapping , planning and the consequences of lives of many in that town.

Ratings : 4/5

Other details :

Publication Date: April 4, 2006
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-10: 0743264908
ISBN-13: 9780743264907
Price @ flipkart : 350/-

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Poor Little Rich Slum:What we saw in Dharavi and why it matters by Rashmi Bansal&Deepak Gandhi

Poor Little Rich Slum:What we saw in Dharavi and why it matters
Authors:Rashmi Bansal&Deepak Gandhi.Photographs by Dee Gandhi
Price:INR 250
Source:Blogadda book review program
First Published:June 2012
                             The outsider is blind to the drudgery of Dharavi.He chooses to see a colourful,creatively inspirational mess.We watch these blindmen as they scramble over the elephant of Dharavi.it is an amusing sight and,at the same time,a tragic one.
                                                             (from Chapter1,PLRS)
                            Poor Little Rich Slum is the 4 th book from best selling author,RashmiBansal.While her first 3 books have been about successful enterpreneurs, in ‘PLRS’ she(along with Deepak Gandhi) has chosen to tell the story of Asia’s largest slum-Dharavi.The book is infact the success story of Dharavi-the special economic zone with no founder,no CEO but the entrepreneurial organisation for a million people who strive hard to make the best life possible for themselves.The book shows us that Dharavi which is full of life,hope and positive energy.Thanks to the wonderful people at Blogadda that I am here reviewing this cute little book by the Nation's best selling author.
                            At some point in the book,the authors ask a pertinent question;”Is it right to parade poverty as just another tourist attraction Mumbai has to offer?”This exactly was the thought that was going through my mind when I picked up this book.Post ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’,a lot has been written and talked about the country’s largest slum.But after finishing ‘PLRS’ I can confidently say that this is one book that gives a three dimensional view of the Big,Fat Problem that is Dharavi.The book is divided into 4 sections.While the first one is titled ‘Dharavi,What Ees?’, the second,third and fourth are named ‘The Incubator’,’Cauldron of Change’and‘TheFuture’respectively.The book begins reminding the reader,the story of the elephant and the four blindmen.
                   Poor Little Rich Slum-What the authors saw..
Section 1:Dharavi,What Ees?- This section is sort of an ‘intro’ to the world named Dharavi.It tells us how it all began,grew and reached it's present state.Here in this section we meet the ‘dharavi slum tour’ operators,the children at ‘transit camp Municipal School’,the outsiders like Srini who chose to work in Dharavi inspite of having had an option to do otherwise,to name a few.The section ends with the authors sharing the results of an interesting survey that they had conducted among Urban College students.
Section 2:The Incubator-In this section,we see Dharavi,the ‘incubator’ which made people like Jameel Shah(Shah Shoes-which makes dancing shoes for Bollywood stars like Priyanka Chopra),MohdMuztaqeem(CM Craft-his company has got an annual turn over of more than 12 crores),PanjuSwamy(AyyapanIdli Stall),Anwar(INMA),Rani Nadar( Rebe Ruby tailoring centre)successful entrepreneurs.
Section 3:Couldron of Change-In this part,we are introduced to those good souls who are trying their best to sow the seeds of change in Dharavi.We meet human beings like  Ramji Raghavan,Dr Duru Shah(who kick started the ’kishori project’ for the adolescent girls of Dharavi)who work hard so that the slum dwellers can lead a better,happy and contended life.
Section 4:The Future-Mainly looks at the issue of slum redevelopment.Here in this section people like Krishna Prajapati*(who makes pots for a living) and Raju Korde(lawyer and social activist) explain why they don’t support the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan.                              
                            The book tries to look beyond the obvious,thefilth,the garbage that one usually associates with Dharavi and fruitfully manages to see the revolution of energy and enterprise.Be it Syed Gani who has to deny his roots to get ‘acceptance’ in the outside world or Tauseef,the guide who takes tourists through Dharavi during slum tours,all have one thing in common-the zeal to win against all odds and to lead the life of their dreams.Bhansal’s and Gandhi’s writing is crisp and razor sharp.Most importantly,they know where to stop.So you won’t find painfully long chapters or pages of self indulgent prose in this book.At the same time they haven’t shied away from discussing the real issues concerning the slum dwellers.Be it the lack of hygiene/in human conditions that they are forced to live in or SRA-the double edged sword that it is,all get a mention in ‘PLRS’ .The Slum Rehabilitation Authority schemes have only evoked mixed results,observes the book.
                              The stories in this book are inspiring as well as thought provoking.Without getting preachy or sentimental the book salutes the never- say- die attitude of the people of Dharavi.Take the story of Jockin Arputham,the kid who metamorphosed himself from a ‘tamilian street boy’ to the ‘king among slum activists’,for instance.The description of his tryst with the Municipal Corporation is motivating. The story of Soaib Grewal,a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design who has set up ‘Waterwalla’(in Dharavi),a social enterprise which aims to introduce clean water technologies to urban slums is equally inspiring.
What I liked the most about the book:
1The writing:PLRS never stoops down to (the level of) ‘poverty porn’,neither does it try to cash in the ‘slum relocation-Mumbai development’ sentiments.The book is a genuine/honest account of what the authors saw in Asia’s largest slum.
2.The book design:The folks at studio ABD deserve special mention.The book has got a wonderful lay out and design.The font (size)could have been bigger though.
3.The photos by Dee Gandhi:The lively and beautiful photos by Dee Gandhi has enormously helped this book.A book like PLRS would have definitely become monotonous had the authors not included those beautiful snaps.The selection of photos as well as their placement in the book gives the reader the feeling of having taken a tour through the streets of Dharavi.
What I didn’t like:
1.The book has got a number of sentences/quotes/conversations in Hindi.I wish they had given their English translation too.It would have definitely helped the South Indian/Non Hindi speaking(like me)readeras well as the International readers.
2.The book is only 184 pages long.The book got over leaving me wanting for more!  
Bottom Line-PLRS is one of the best books that I have read in recent times.For me,this book is Ms Bansal’s best work till date.I am giving 4/5 for this enlightening read.This is one book that celebrates the spirit of human enterprise,in it’s natural form-raw and extreme.A Must Read!
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!
-reviewed by nikhimenon.(please do not copy)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts

AUTHOR – Gregory David Roberts is an Australian author. He is a former heroin addict and a convicted bank robber who escaped from Prison from his homeland and took refuge in India where he stayed for 10 years. He is being told to have gain the addiction to Drugs after a marriage break down and consequent lost custody of the daughter.  In his efforts to finance his drug habit, Roberts became known as the "Building Society Bandit, He escaped from Pentridge Prison in 1980. In 1990, Roberts was captured in Frankfurt after being caught smuggling heroin into the country. He was extradited to Australia and served a further six years in prison. During his second stay in Australian prison, Roberts began writing the novel Shantaram. The manuscript was destroyed by prison wardens, twice, while Roberts was writing it. The book is known to be a fiction clown autobiographical note. After living few years in Germany, France etc he came back to settle down in Mumbai where he set up charitable foundations to assist the city's poor with health care coverage. He was finally reunited with his daughter. He got engaged to Francoise Sturdza, who is the president of the Hope For India foundation.

SYNOPSIS –. Its  a big novel that you would find standing out from the crowd on the shelf and demanding some strange kind of attention of its own. The book, Shantaram, begins with the entry of a man bearing a New Zealand passport that identifies him as ‘Lindsay’ into downtown Mumbai (Bombay). He is actually an escaped convict from Australia, who flees to a strange land to lose himself and start his life all over again. He finds a friend and a Guide in Prabhakar who leads him to Coloba. Prabaker's tour of the real Bombay leads Lin into the dark underbelly of the city. He witnesses the slave market and visits the hashish den of the Standing Babas. Having grown very close to Lin, Prabaker invites him to visit his home village of Sundar. Lin agrees and they arrive after a cramped and adventurous journey by train and cart. At the village Lin relaxes into the seasonal rhythms. He finds a profound inner-peace and as a result the villagers dub him Shantaram, which means "man of peace." Meanwhile, Lin meets another person who also changes his life, a beautiful woman named Karla, a Swiss-American who seems to have a lot of friends in the expatriate community. He falls in love with her, but is not sure if his love is returned.
Lin’s search for a new life leads him into war, murder, betrayals, and more intrigue. His life, he now finds, is being manipulated by two people- Khader Khan (The suburban cross cultural, intellectual criminal chief and Jehadi pathan) and the beautiful, enigmatic, and dangerous Karla.


Several years ago I read this book and I can still feel that in today life – a part of it lives in me. This is an incredible tale of self discovery told in the most entertaining manner.
The writer himself continues to call Shantaram as fiction, but looking back at the life that he had lived, one can be sure that he had to be there to write such a detailed account of the prison, Standing Babas, fire racing through the slums, the wounds that forces him to become an unofficial medic, his criminal role in India, among another dozen stories. 
Shantaram is a book that you would want to read, irrespective of what class of books you like. It is an engrossing page turner, and I wish that you are not led down by the presumption of its 930 page size.
The narrative value of this book can be considered to be of the highest class possible. This is fiction literature at its very best.  The protagonist Named ''Linbaba'' by Prabaker, the amiable taxi driver who becomes his sidekick, he acquires a hut in a slum, where he earns his neighbors' respect by opening a makeshift clinic and learning Hindi and Marathi. Hundred pages into the book and you feel that you have known this man for years, and it seems that he is sitting right there in your room whispering his tale and escapades to you. Nearly everything about Bombay agrees with the philosophical fugitive, for whom every new experience is like a new depth in the spiritual understanding and philosophical learning of life.
He finds a father figure in a gurulike local mafia boss, an Afghan named Khader, and a lover in a mysterious Swiss woman who inspires the most memorable of the novel's many metaphoric interludes. She comes out of text – as a persona – you keep thinking about. He works as a counterfeiter and smuggler within Khader's criminal empire, ultimately abandoning a budding career as a Bollywood agent and joining a holy warfare in Afghanistan. Khader comes out as a skillful, intriguing and thought provoking criminal chief – who works with gun and speaks of morality and metaphysics. There is a genuine sense of storytelling about this book, the character sketching, the descriptiveness and the passion for the feeling about life and the journey of protagonist.
Sometimes a big story is its own best reward. I feel lucky to have come across this book. It changed something in me forever. Something I am yet to know and understand – after all these years.
RATING – 5/5.    Shantaram is not just a book; it is a sojourn, a spiritual journey into life that shows that even the most complex and powerful systems have at their core a simple and beautiful pattern. Shantaram reinforces one’s belief in life and how it is absolute in itself.
It makes you want to live more. It makes you want to explore. It makes you want to fall and then rise again. I salute the book – None I can think of to compare this one with. You are missing a part of yourself if you have not read this one yet.

PRICE - Rs 419

On Flipkart.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Lost Light - Michael Connelly


A Harry Bosch novel

ISBN - 978-1-4091-1684-4
PAGES - 341
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Crime/Thriller
SOURCE - Publishers

AUTHOR - Michael Connelly

BEST-SELLERS - The Brass Verdict

SYNOPSIS - Harry Bosch has finally quit the LAPD. When he left, he took a file with him - the case of a young woman murdered four years earlier. The crime was linked to a $2 million robbery on a movie set, and the LAPD think the money was used by terrorists.

Now, with time on his hands, Harry looks at the old file again. Something about the victim affected him deeply and the case has haunted him ever since. But when he decides to re-investigate, he falls foul of both his old colleagues and the FBI. And then someone from Bosch's past turns his world upside down.

FL Speak - Even though I curse myself for discovering Michael Connelly too late, nevertheless I'm overjoyed at reading his novels back-to-back. Lost Light is one of his earlier novels. In fact it is Harry Bosch's 9th case.

Just like every other Michael Connelly case, this book kept me up all through the night. As the synopsis says, Harry has quit the LAPD. Its been a year but he hasn't been able to get rid of the case from his mind. Now that he's no more bound to other cases, Harry decides to go through his files as to why this one was not solved earlier.

Angela Brenton was murdered on her 24th birthday. She was violated and the angle pointed towards a pervert with a grudge. 2 days later $2 million was stolen from a Hollywood studio during a shoot. Angela Brenton worked in that studio. Years later, when Bosch decides to re-investigate the case, he was stone walled by his own department. After a call by a former cop who took over the investigation years ago, the FBI started breathing down Bosch's neck. It looks like some of the stolen money found its way to terrorists. And with a female FBI agent missing for 2 years, this case has taken a whole new meaning.

Bosch searches for clues that the previous cops missed and without help from the FBI who were hell bent on stopping him from interfering with terrorism matters, Bosch knew he had to rely on the notes he already had and search for the clue that eluded everyone all these years. And things come to a shocking end when the death of Angel Brenton, the robbery of $2 million and the case of the missing FBI agent intertwine over the next few days.

I'm telling you lot again. Michael Connelly is one of the finest crime writers ever. And Harry Bosch is his finest creation. Lost Light is that spark in the darkness when everything else fails, but not the determination of the cops who protect us in this vile world.

My Rating - 5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-

The Winner Stands Alone By Paulo Coelho

  AUTHOR- Paulo Coelho


ISBN – 978-0-00-731868-1

GENRE- Crime Fiction/ Thriller

SYNOPSIS- “If you love someone, you must be prepared to set them free.”
Igor Malev has one thing on his mind - his ex-wife Ewa. He's handsome, rich, and effortlessly personable - but she left him for a successful fashion designer, a sting he's never recovered from.

So he travels to the glamorous Cannes International Film Festival where they'll be appearing, intent on winning back her love. But Igor is a man of rare intensity and cold intelligence - and this is to be no ordinary reconciliation. For Igor made a promise to destroy whole worlds to get to his beloved.

EXCERPT- “The Beretta Px4 compact pistol is slightly larger than a mobile phone, weighs around 700 grams and can fire ten shots. Small, light, invisible when carried in a pocket, its small calibre has one enormous advantage: instead of passing through the victim’s body, the bullet hits bones and smashes everything in its path.”

       “Whenever someone dies, a part of the universe dies too. Everything a person felt, experience and saw dies with them, like tears in the rain.” 

       "People are never satisfied. If they have a little, they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction.”

KOUSTABH 'QUETZALCOATL' says- How much can you love someone and how far will you go for love?? Seems a cheesy enough question from the back alley of movies, doesn’t it? But this is exactly what Paulo Coelho takes up, and effectively turns topsy-turvy, with the backdrop of glamour and what one would call as the ‘elite’ super class. In the seemingly exciting but divided grounds (both of mind and character) of the Cannes Film Festival, it is a story of a Russian Millionaire Igor (who was formerly in the soviet army, and later built his fortune on cell phones) and his idea to kill random people as a sign for his love towards his ex-wife Ewa.

       This is not a typical crime thriller, because this is not your typical author. The thrill here is not about the killer or his motives (that is cleared in the first few pages), but about the victims and their connection with the world of the book. Paulo Coelho delves into the mind of all the characters and wrenches out a well of emotions, ideas, and past which are as various as the characters themselves. The characters are usually not ‘grey’ (exception of course is Igor), thus making them easier to understand. From the sweet street hawker girl who sold amulets, to a high end director, a struggling actress and a girl on the path of a successful modeling career all have dreams and ambitions. So have Igor, Ewa and her new husband (and fashion magnate) Hamid, though all in different directions. But it is when dreams, love and ambition turns sour and turn into obsession and greed that the reality of murder and sabotage comes out.

      As the name itself suggests The Winner does Stands Alone, because in the fervent desire to win one seems to loose all morality and starts building a perverted vision of the world and its happenings. In the murky waters of superiority and fascinating water of dreams, one often comes to realize that one is quite alone, not in body but in the soul!!

       What strikes me best is Igor, the anti-hero, is a cold blooded murderer with a heart (now that’s weird, eh??). He chats with his victims and understand their role in the wider world. As Coelho says each person is a world in himself/ herself and it is the worlds that Igor wants to destroy as a gift and reminder to his wife, who seems to either ignore them or be too afraid to do anything. Amongst the lanes of Cannes one is transported yet and again to different pasts which has culminated in the present scenario. And the ingenuity of the murders is also a testosterone boost for some readers (Muahahaha)!!

       Being such a complex book with an array of characters makes ‘The Winner Stands Alone’ quite long. Unlike Coelho’s short and philosophically shocking books, this goes on almost forever. And this is exactly what destroys its perfect charm. The thrills are few and discussions on morality and mortality way too much. By the end of the book one really gets desperate for it to end. But beware, it ends with a mind boggling conclusion that I, for one, never perceived.

       So yeah it’s enormous (in comparison to other Coelho books), but it presents forth a very different scheme of both Paulo Coelho style and thriller novel. A must read for Coelho fans, it also must be a part of readers who do serious reading.

       Keep Reading Boys and Girls!!

P.S. - This book review was requested by Smita, and I hope she likes it as do the others.        

My Rating – 4.3 / 5 stars

PRICE – Rs. 273 (Flipkart Price)

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