Sunday, September 30, 2012

Asura - Anand Neelkantan

 Title : Asura
 Author : Anand Neelkantan
 Publisher : Platinum Press, Leadstart Publication
 Pages : 498
 ISBN : 978-93-81576-05-2

Asura was recommended by one of my twitter friends Ujjwala ( @OyeUjuOye ) because I really loved reading The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi.  One day she tweeted that she feels @iYatinGupta must read this book Asura and honestly because I respect her a lot I took her suggestion instantly and put the book in my reading list. Post that, I contacted Anand Neelakantan and request him to send me a review copy of the book and in no time he agreed to it and asked the publisher to courier me a copy. 

When I started reading the book, I felt that the plot of the book is too heavy for me but no doubt it was interesting. I decieded that I would read 50 pages of the book daily. Spread over approximately 500 pages and 65 chapters, the book gained momentum after some 4-5 chapters and then I finished the rest of it in two sittings. Mixing facts and fiction, and that too mythological facts, characters in a whole new plot is something very tough and to say the least the author has done a wonderful job. I am sure this must have been author's dream project and I want to congratulate him for coming up with something so beautiful and so poised that I absolutely loved reading. 

Asura starts with Ravana's death bed. Where he is on the verge of dying and thinking about his people and his family who died and lost the battle to Vaanar Sena led by Shri Ram. The book runs in the past of Ravana and like we have Ramayan about the life of Lord Ram, I would not mind renaming the book as Ravanayan. The way the whole plot and characters have been put together, it makes this book into a complete page turner. I would definitely not like to get into the plot of the book here. Also, I found the book cover so interesting that it is my current twitter display pic ! :D

Anand Neelakantan, I am sure must have worked exceptionally hard to come up with something ambitious like this. The story is gripping, though I felt that he could have concentrated more on the intellectual side of Ravana but nonetheless, the overall effort is superb. The writing is tight and keeps you glued to the book.

I would definitely like to read more of Anand's works  in future. I am already looking forward to his next book. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Frivolous Fridays : Bridgeburners


MOTTO : First in, Last out.

SIGIL : a silver brooch: a bridge of stone, lit by ruby flames.

FIRST SEEN AT : Gardens of the Moon (Book 1 of The Malazan Tale of the Fallen)

HISTORY : [from wiki]

The Bridgeburners were transformed in the Holy Desert Raraku, in Seven Cities, from being regular soldiers to becoming much more. The unit has had a combat role in military operations on the continents of Seven Cities, Genabackis, and Quon Tali. The unit was merged from the remnants of several units and was forged into a single force through their journey across the Holy Desert of Raraku. Their pasts were then burned away.

The TALE :

The Bridgeburners are an elite unit of soldiers in the Malazan Army. They were respected and feared by their comrades in the Malazan Army as well as by their enemies.

The Bridgeburners were the favorite of Emperor Kellanved. When he was supposedly assassinated by Surly, who became the Empress Laseen, The Bridgeburners were assigned the most hardest of campaigns in the hope that they don't survive.

Once, the Bridgeburners numbered more than 1400. During the siege of Pale, the Bridgeburners were reduced to a paltry 38. Following the fallout of Pale, the remaining Bridgeburners made their way to Darujhistan under the command of Ganoes Paran to complete a mission of destabilizing the city to make way for Malazan takeover. What they didn't realize that time was that it was also their death certificate. The Bridgeburners were meant to me exterminated once and for all.

They survived. 

Shortly later, Dujek Onearm and a couple of armies of the Malazan were outlawed by the Empress. These armies merged together to what became to be known as Onearm's Host. Dujek appointed Whiskeyjack to be his second in command and Paran took over the rest of the Bridgeburners.

In the City of Capustan, the Bridgeburners went ahead of Onearm's host to try to take over the city and make way for the army. They survived without losing anyone. Their final mission was not to be so simple. Charged with the elimination of the Pannion Seer, the Bridgeburners faced heavy losses when they were attacked by the undead K'Chain Che'malle Kell hunters.

In the aftermath of that devastating battle, only a few survived. The bodies of the Bridgeburners who fell, along with Whiskeyjack were placed in Moon's Spawn, the flying fortress of Anomander Rake, one time enemy of the Malazan during the seige of Pale. Anomander sent the flying tomb into the sea to fall and sink to the ocean floor.

The surviving Bridgeburners, who were reduced to less than 10, were officially logged as dead by Dujek Onearm and were retired to Darujhistan for their unending bravery. The time had come for them to rest.

Ganoes Paran, following the aftermath of the Battle of Coral, blessed the Bridgeburners, both living and dead. The dead Bridgburners ascended. Ganoes Paran created a new card in the Deck of Dragons for the Bridgeburners. It was called the Guardians of the Dead, in High House War.


There....That's the tale of the legendary Bridgeburners. Steven Erikson created a unit you fell in love with only to have them killed. Authors are heartless sometimes.

I'm attached to this army. Yes, I am. I may not give a damn about Malazan, but the Bridgeburners, I fell in love with. These guys are nuts! They're comprised of those crazy sappers who loves playing with those equally crazy Moranth ammunitions, saboteurs and what-nots. And if you think my heart broke during the siege of Pale, or when Tattersail died, imagine how devastated I was when Whiskeyjack died and when the rest of the Bridgeburners fell one by one. OH DAMN YOU ERIKSON!


'They were of a kind, then
the histories writ large
in tattooed tracery
the tales a tracking
of old wounds
but something glowed hard
in their eyes – those
flame-gnawed arches,
that vanishing span,
they are their own past
each in turn destined
to fall in line
on the quiet wayside
beside the river
they refuse to name . . .
The Bridgeburners'

- Toc, the Younger (Gardens of the Moon, Book 1)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travails Of Entrapment - Himadri Roy

 Title : Travails Of Entrapment 
 Author : Himadri Roy
 Genre : Fiction
 Publisher : Frog Books
 ISBN : 978-93-81836-01-9

If someone asks me, define "Travails Of Entrapment" the book in one word, then my answer would be "Sensitive". But before going any further in this post, I would like to share a line that Dr. Himadri Roy himself wrote for me 

We meet to create memories, we part to cherish them forever !!! 

I came across this book while surfing a popular online portal and the summary of the book encouraged me to pick it up. I contacted Dr.Roy through e-mail and asked him whether he can provide me with a review copy and he was kind enough to acknowledge my request and sent me one. 

Travails of Entrapment, is based on the life of Rohan De, the protagonist of the book. The book deals with a very sensitive topic, homosexuality. It is a very mature take on the subject and I really appreciate the way Dr.Roy has put up the entire story in the book. 

 The story is set up in Nainital and moves to Delhi and a small portion in Dehradun. Rohan De, a bright student and morally sound, is the only child of Swapon De and Gonika De, both of them are highly reputed professors in the Kumaon University, Nainital. Rohan's parents are obscenely busy with their careers. His mother, Gonika, comes across as a very arrogant and snobbish person who is least bothered about her child and his father is no less. Its their house maid, Meena or Meena Didi as Rohan addresses her, takes care of him throughout his life. She makes sure Rohan eats on time, sleeps on time and also helps him in his character development. Meena has immense faith in God and she ensures that Rohan maintains his faith in God too. 

Rohan completes his school education from Sherwood College, Nainital, where he meets Nikhil, who remains his only friend till Rohan reaches Delhi for his higher education B.A in English Honours from Delhi University despite his parent's disagreement. The friendship between Nikhil and Rohan is pure but had its weak points too. In Delhi, Rohan meets Paras and Monisha on the very first day of college itself and a lifetime friendship kicks off at the very same instant.

In his quest of life, Rohan faces serious turmoils on his personal front which breaks him emotionally. He struggles between friendship and love. Rohan's life faces pains, agonies, tears, bruises, smiles, happiness and bliss. He overcomes every difficulty with a lot of patience and courage and choose his own life, the people he wants to be with and spend rest of his life with. 

The way this book has been written is really commendable. Simple language which would make you feel for Rohan. Once you connect to the story, the book becomes an absolute page turner. Today, whole day I was reading it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dr. Himadri Roy's writing style is simple and to the point. He knows how to pour emotions in words and makes sure you keep turning the pages as the story unfolds. The book deals with homosexuality, but there is no sign of any vulgarity or cheapness, the story is smooth, pure and feels like the author has put his heart and soul into it. 

If you are looking for something for light reading, then you can pick up this book. Give it a shot. It won't disappoint you. 

Love, Peace & Happiness: What more can you want?

ISBN: 978-93-81836-34-7
Author: Rituraj Verma
Publisher: Jufic Books
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 223
Rating 2.5/5

I always accept the honour of being asked to review a debut book by an author with a pinch of salt; especially if it’s in Indian author. With the publishing industry suddenly exploding in our faces, every third person seems to be writing a book. Admittedly, writing a book is extremely hard work, but I’ve come across so many disappointing works by so-called Indian English authors, that I have now grown wary of them. So I accepted this book with a rather long, unwieldy title for a review with some reserve. It didn’t help that the book’s cover design was juvenile.

But ‘Love, Peace & Happiness: What more can you want?’ (LPH) by Rituraj Verma did not entirely disappoint. It is, at best, trippy. The book appears to be a collection of short stories at first glance, but as one reads on, it turns out to be a series of stories revolving around a fixed set of people, somehow amalgamating into a novella. All stories are about man-woman relationships in the modern society. All couples have relationship patterns common to urban conditions, and are easily identifiable in this day and age. The characters cross paths in the course of the stories, and change their destinies.

Through characters placed in varying life situations, the author tries to make the reader ask himself some fundamental questions about life. What is love? How one may find happiness? What comprises peace? I will not go as far as to say that these stories are fodder for introspection, but sometimes there are questions one catches asking oneself.  

One unique aspect of the book is that the writer offers alternate endings to every story. These alternate ends are available to read on his website, and should a reader not like or agree with the way a story ends, he/she can choose another. While the idea is most innovative, I felt throughout the book that the author was holding back. He did not commit to a story entirely because he had to keep his options open. One finds him building the plot, holding the pace and suddenly slacking towards the end. Other readers may, of course, disagree. 
Honestly, I read alternate ends of only one story, and found them too insignificant to bother with.

The writer goes on this way with fair, mostly believable stories right up to the end, but it all changes in the last chapter. He adopts a style that is hugely different from the rest of the book, and one is left wondering what the author was smoking when he wrote it. It is part introspective, part crazy and entirely out of place in the book. But then, one must allow an artist of words his eccentricities.

Should you read it? I should say yes.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Title : Outliers
Author : Malcolm Gladwell
Publisher : Penguin Books
Pages : 309
Genre : Philosophy
ISBN : 978-0-14103-625-0

Outliers happened to me out of nowhere. I never intended to read this book and also psychology is something that gets over my head, but still I thought lets give it a try. The book was given to me by my friend Tarun and I am so thankful to him. It is an international bestseller and the feedback given by the top notch editorials is something impeccable. I picked it up this morning and finished it in the evening. The book is divided into two parts, Opportunity and Legacy. Some 309 pages spread over 9 chapters that are further sub divided into smaller sections overall giving a very balanced structure to the book. 

Outliers opens up with The Roseto Mystery, the introduction of the book, explaining the term Outlier with an real life example. The book is written in such a way that it attacks your psychology in an unusual way. The stuff is not boring and keeps you hooked. I would definitely want to say something here, if you are an impatient reader, this book is definitely not for you. 

Part 1, Opportunity, deals with success stories where people have turned a small opportunity into something big and have left a mark on the society. The 5 chapters in this part are dedicated to Canadian Hockey, IT, two chapters on education and law. This part of the book tells you a simple fact that there is nothing called big or small in the society. The line which has been drawn between these two sections of the society is all imaginary. The examples given in this part would definitely make you think about various things and  would boost your morale too. 

Part 2, Legacy  is all about people and examples where people have inherited their stuff from their ancestors. It is extremely tough to keep up with legacy. It tests your guts and patience from time to time and the challenges you encounter frequently makes sure that you are always on your toes. There are four chapters in these parts and all of them are super interesting. This part of the book counter balances Part 1 really well and covers almost all aspects one can think of.

All and all, reading outliers was a pleasant experience. Gladwell has surely impressed me with his writing. The language is simple and captivating and once you get the hang of the book it is a complete page turner. Give it a try if you want some food for thought. 

Book Source - Personal Copy                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Publisher : Penguin Books

Sunday, September 23, 2012

'The Krishna Key' by Ashwin Sanghi.

Title : "The Krishna Key"
Author : Ashwin Sanghi
Genre : Mythology, Indian Fiction, Thriller.
Price : Rs.250 (Westland Book Publications, Paperback)

Back Cover

"Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired of its fate if the Blue God were to die but reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Age - the Kaliyug. In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he is that final avatar. Only, he is a serial killer."


For someone who hasn’t read a lot about and of Indian mythology, this book was not only a really interesting read but also an eye opener!

The extremely beautiful way the author Ashwin Sanghi has merged the past with the present, the way he has woven the whole story around something that had happened, at least on paper, is just enthralling! I particularly liked the starting paragraphs of each new chapter. The writing is simple, lucid, to the point and even though there is a lot of drama, it is interesting, not over the top.

This book sucks you in, it pulls you. You don’t want to put it down, or take breaks. You want to just sit in a chair and finish it RIGHT NOW! I loved loved LOVED the sharp twist it took. I hated it, but loved it at the same time.

“Priya had the habit of playing the devil’s advocate in order to analyse a point, even if she was in agreement with the hypothesis”  (Pages 11&12)

This is me. :D I do this a lot at times. Not because I want to trouble somebody or like it’s said, don’t believe or agree with the hypothesis, but I like to take the side which is, well not being taken up by someone else to put it simply!

The whole land reclamation concept that has been explained through pages 67 to 70, left me fascinated. Whether you believe it or choose not to, it still is amazing. Undeniably.

“The word omniscience means infinite knowledge. It starts with the sound of Om or Aum. The word omnipotent which means a person who has infinite powers also starts with Om.  The word “omnivorous” which implies the ability to absorb everything also has Om as the starting point. The word “omen” implying a predictive sign of a future event, also has Om in it. A trusted intermediary between parties, with the authority to award a verdict, is called an “ombudsman” – once again we have Om. Om is an expression of divinity and authority and that’s the reason why Aum is to be found even in the Christian Amen and the Islamic Amin.” (pages 161&162)

I knew Amen/Amin are similar but I never thought about it from the omnipotent/omnivorous angle. So I enjoyed reading this paragraph in particular!

The only mistake I found was the spelling error on page 95, of Mahatma Gandhi.

I met this aged uncle on the bus, who was about to get off but saw me reading this book and started talking about how fascinating it was! I was pleasantly surprised, half the bus was staring at the two of us. :P
Till the time we reached his stop, we were gushing about the twist and the facts and everything! 


Final Verdict : 3.7/5
The book is an excellent, engrossing read. The author has done tons, and that I literally mean tons, of research, there are 11 pages of just research acknowledgements. But why I loved this book is it does not tell you history, or just throw facts in your face, it is a story.  I am so tempted to leak out some things, I'm barely containing myself! And it's only 3.7 because in my opinion, maybe since I am not used to reading such books, I found the start a little dull and slow.
On the whole, it was really engaging, thoroughly and well researched and made me sigh when it ended.
But in my opinion, the build up was far more intense than the actual climax.

The Shadow Throne - Aroon Raman

Title: The Shadow Throne
Author: Aroon Raman
Publisher: Pan Macmillan India
ISBN: 978-81-923-9800-6
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 332

Ever since this book came into my notice, I wanted to read it. The title was intriguing and the cover of the book also appealed me. Finally, I got a chance to lay my hands on this book thanks to Pan Macmillan India team and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This is the first work of fiction by the author Aroon Raman and he finished writing this book in 6 months which is remarkable.

The book opens up with a murder at Qutub Minar (Instant hit for me). A freelance journalist, Chandrashekhar is called upon by a cop named Syed Ali Hassan. Hassan is one of the key characters of the book and Chandrashekhar is the protagonist. When Chandrashekhar visits Qutub Minar to see what has happened there, and thats where the series of unexpected events and horrible things come into the picture. Also Meenakshi, Chandrashekhar's wife's friend comes is roped in by Chandrashekhar, as she is a historian and has an interesting part to play in the plot. The whole plot revolves around a nuclear armageddon planned by a set of people who want nothing but destroy the prevailing peace among the countries.

The Shadow Throne is an absolute page turner. I wanted to finish reading this one in a single seating but couldn't do it thanks to all the daily chores and unwanted things that turned up. Aroon Raman's writing and vocabulary is something to watch out for. I had to use dictionary a lot of times, which is good for me. My dictionary has definitely got some new words, thanks to the book. Also, I would like to mention here, the way author has explained the geographical features of Afghanistan. I dont know, but it felt like Aroon himself have visited the place quite a few times.

 You would definitely love The Shadow Throne, if you enjoy fast paced thrillers with subtle logic and not too many characters. Divided over 26 chapters and 332 pages, the book has a potential to make it to the best sellers list.
(Review asked by Pan Macmillan)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

House of Chains - Steven Erikson


Book 4 of 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen'

Read about the other books HERE

ISBN - 978-0-7653-4881-4
PAGES - 1035
GENRE - Epic Fantasy
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Steven Erikson

BEST-SELLERS - Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice

SYNOPSIS - In Northern Genabackis, a raiding party of savage tribal warriors descends from the mountains into the southern flatlands. Their intention is to wreck havoc amongst the despised lowlanders, but for the one named Karsa Orlong it makes the beginning of what will prove to be an extraordinary destiny.

Some years later, it is the aftermath of the Chain of Dogs. Tavore, the Adjunct to the Empress, has arrived in the last remaining Malazan stronghold of Seven Cities. New to command, she must hone twelve thousand soldiers, mostly raw recruits but for a handful of veterans of Coltaine's legendary march, into a force capable of challenging the massed hordes of Sha'ik's Whirlwind, who lie in wait in the heart of the Holy Desert.

But waiting is never easy. The seer's warlords are locked in a power struggle that threatens the very soul of the rebellion, while Sha'ik herself suffers, haunted by the knowledge of her nemesis : her own sister, Tavore.

FL Speak - [contains spoilers]

Bear with me because this is going to be emotional. In the last book, Memories of Ice, we see one of the most beloved characters Whiskeyjack being killed. That and the last remaining squad of the Bridgeburners almost destroyed. For their unflinching bravery and service to the Empire, Dujek One-Arm disbanded and the surviving members.

House of Chains begins with the tribe of Teblor. The Teblors are a savage race of barbarians who worship their own 7 Gods. And they have no idea that they are being used by the Crippled God for his own purposes. The Teblor Gods need someone to lead all of Teblor and the pawn they've chosen is Karsa.

Yes, its the same Karsa who will one day become the protector of the Sha'ik in the very heart of Raruku. Remember the huge Toblakai the old Sha'ik had as a bodyguard in the second book? This book begins with his journey before he becomes a friend of Felisin, the Sha'ik reborn. But this book is more than that. Because Felisin's sister, Adjunct Tavore is readying herself for battle against the Whirlwind. And poor Tavore has no idea that the enemy she will face is her little sister.

Meanwhile Fiddler, previously a Bridgeburner, has re-enlisted himself in the Malazan and finds himself as the sergeant of a squad of Malazan soldiers. And when the death of Whiskeyjack and his beloved comrades reaches his ears, the scene is unbelievable. That has to be one of the most devastating moments of the book. Watching Fiddler come in terms with their deaths drove me to tears.

Elsewhere, not everything is peachy in the Sha'ik's camp. Her mages are plotting against her and Felisin cannot do much because she needs their help to defeat the Malazans. Heboric, himself is coming to terms with his God.  The Toblakai has plans of his own and Felisin's inner circle are circling like a hawk to pounce on her should the Whirlwind falter.

If you thought Steven Erikson was done introducing new characters, think again. There are 6 more books left and he has managed to kill the best of the characters while continuing to introduce a lot more. Erikson has this ability to write novels that looks like they do not continue from the next book. Only a part of the long storyline continues and a few characters are repeated and yet you can feel it in your bones that it will all come together. Soon.

The much awaited battle simply blows you away. The Malazan soldiers face a huge army and tactics might be the only thing to save them. That, and the crazy sappers who likes to blow things up. And then the surprise package comes to their aid. The Bridgeburners have Ascended. Yes, the entire Company has ascended and reached God-level. And they come back to Raraku where they were formed. With the ghosts of the Malazan dead soldiers on their sides, the tide of battle may just have turned.

Meanwhile, The Crippled God is making his own plans.

My Rating - 3.5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Krishna Key - Ashwin Sanghi


ISBN - 978-93-81626-68-9

PAGES - 475
PUBLISHER - Westland
GENRE - Mythological Fiction/Thriller
BINDING - Paperback

AUTHOR - Ashwin Sanghi

BEST-SELLERS - The Rozabal Line, Chanakya Chant

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

Five thousand years ago, there came to earth a magical being called Krishna, who brought about innumerable miracles for the good of mankind. Humanity despaired for its fate if the Blue God were to die but was reassured that he would return in a fresh avatar when needed in the eventual Dark Ages - The Kaliyug. In modern times, a poor little rich boy grows up believing that he us the final avatar. Only, he is a serial killer.

In this heart-stopping tale, the arrival of a murderer who executes his gruesome and brilliantly thought-out schemes in the name of God is the first clue to a sinister conspiracy to expose an ancient secret - Krishna's priceless legacy to mankind.

Historian Ravi Mohan Saini must breathlessly dash from the submerged remains of Dwarka and the mysterious lingam of Somnath to the icy heights of Mount Kailash, in a quest to discover the cryptic location of Krishna's most prized possession. From the sand-washed ruins of Kalibangan to a Vrindaban temple destroyed by Aurangzeb, Saimi must also delve into antiquity to prevent a gross miscarriage of justice.

FL Speak -  [contains spoilers]

*pause* I need a breather. 

I mean, what on earth was that??? I am still reeling under all the information and surprises and facts and fiction that Mr Sanghi has come up with in this book. This is a stellar tale. A stellar, spell-binding, guaranteed-to-keep-you-awake-all-night book.

I generally don't read Indian fiction authors. When a big publishing company like Hachette sent me a book called something like When-we-met-kya-life-hogi-set, I knew it was rock bottom. To be honest, I've  never even read Ashwin Sanghi before. But with all the hype surround this new release, I decided to give it a try. And the result was an all-nighter with THE KRISHNA KEY.

Ashwin Sanghi is India's answer to Dan Brown. There's no doubt about that. The reason I'm saying this is because of the tale he has written and also how he has written. Hold on to your seats folks, this is going to be a long and a lil bit different review.

First of all, we have our hero, Ravi Mohan Saini. He's a history professor/historian/history aficionado who's a hybrid between Robert Langdon and Jason Bourne. This is one reason why I said Ashwin Sanghi is our Dan Brown. R.M Saini is the proverbial Langdon. He's brilliant, has a nose for finding out conspiracies and connecting the dots and he's chased all over the country by the Police and the enemy.

Oh! How do I even begin to review this book? The amount of twists and turns and conspiracies and facts is mind boggling. If you've thought after 20 odd pages, you know how it is going to be....think again. Mr. Raini is framed for the murder of his friend, a renowned linguist, Anil Varshney. Anil was found murdered in his own apartment in a bizarre way. He was knocked unconscious and then a scalpel was thrust in his left leg and left to bleed out. Also a symbol was stamped into his forehead and a Sanskrit verse written on the walls.

Getting a deja vu of Langdon in Angels and Demons?? Yes, I thought so. But even Robert Langdon won't be prepared for a ride that our Ravi Mohan Saini has found himself in. Arrested and then staging an escape from right under the noses of the Police, our dashing young hero is on the run to find the killer, to solve the murder of his friend and escape the closing net of the Indian law enforcement. And then, the person he runs to is killed the same way as his friend. The nightmare begins again.

Ravi's friend, Anil came into possession of four seals of the same type. Those seals are what now is known as the identification mark that every citizen of Dwarka carried. Yes, the same Dwarka that Krishna created. And if it's verified, the conclusive proof of Krishna and even the Mahabharata would be real instead of just mythology. But someone far more devious is after those seals for a secret, that's far more dangerous.

Ok. I'm not going to reveal the entire plot. No, that's for you to find out. Its fast, its full of surprises and its mind-numbing! So I'll just discuss the book and some of the astounding topics it touched. Dwarka is real?? The book has even gone far to say that the fabled city of Atlantis might actually be Dwarka. And believe me Ashwin Sanghi manages to make that believe as well. Okay forget the glorious city that Krishna built. Heard of Noah's Ark? It might be connected to Krishna as well. How?? Oh GO READ THE BOOK. Am still in utter shock.

And the shocks continue. Krishna, the eight avatar of Vishnu might have left behind something that's world threatening and oh, the seers who wrote the Vedas, they knew of nuclear energy and the bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima might not be the first ones. Even the creator of the Atomic bomb admitted that. Also, huge radiation levels in various places of India where there are temples of Shiv made me jolt. Whaaat??? 

*pause* AGAIN

I've stopped guessing which is fact and which is fiction because apparently Mr. Sanghi wants the reader to blow themselves up. Wow! Our reluctant hero, Mr. Saini races to slopes of Mount Kailash to find the final piece of the puzzle. Hold on!!! Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiv, might be a man made creation. Wo_Oh!! Exactly! But boy o boy, you will love the way Mr. Sanghi explains it to you. Damn, I need to google this stuff up! 

Although a particular chase did bother me and I've no idea why its there. The chase to Mount Kailash and the Somnath Temple when the villian of the story already knew that the stone was not there. Did I say stone?? Actually its the Philosopher's Stone. As I was reading that I thought maybe Voldemort made a mistake going after the stone in Hogwarts when he could have found one in India.

The Indiana Jones-esque adventure comes to a thrilling end in Agra. And before it ends, you're to be bowled over again. The Krishna Key is located where there is a harmony among the Muslims and Hindus. A place where something creation and destruction resonates.

Also, this thing cooked my brain! 786 is a sacred number in Islam. So when you write the numbers 7,8,6 in Hindi and you bring them closer, you get this :

Coming to the other points in the book, I loved the paragraphs of Krishna at the beginning of every chapter. It made me remember those Sree Krishna and Mahabharata shows that used to air on DD Metro. That was one of the best touches in the book. 

The climax on the other hand was slightly anti-climatic. For me, atleast. But nevertheless, it was awesome. A slightly Paulo Coelho philosophical deduction but it had to end in a way and maybe this was the best. Thank God, for less romance. Other Indian fiction authors really need to take a cue from Mr. Sanghi. Too many information in the book perhaps....I've lost count of the number of things I heard for the first time and never thought of before.

All in all, a top class read. The references and acknowledgments alone fill up 11 pages. If that is how much I need to research before I write a book, I doubt I'll be a writer anytime sooner.

My Rating - 4.5 stars

PRICE - INR 250/-

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The Long Walk Home - Manreet Sodhi Someshwar

 Title : The Long Walk Home
 Author : Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
 Publisher : Harper Collins 
 Pages : 270
 Genre : Fiction
 ISBN : 978-81-7223-828-5

My long lost hobby was resurrected by The Taj Conspiracy, Manreet's latest book. Yes, reading has been a hobby since childhood, but I could never really develop it. Too many factors came into play, but lets not get there. I was lucky to meet Manreet at one of the blogger's meet organised by Westland Books when she was in Delhi for the launch of her book. It was my first ever rendezvous with an author and that experience is something I am never going to forget in my life. In that bloggers meet, Manreet shared the story behind The Long Walk Home also and how Gulzar sahab liked the book and wrote four lines to summarise the book. The excitement was clearly visible in the author's eyes.

That's when I decided to pick this book and read it and I read it last night again, because it is one of my favourite books. The way it has been written makes me want to read this book again and again. The plot, the narration, the structure of the book is something very fresh. If someone wants to learn how characters are developed in a story, then this book is a must read. And all the Gulzar Sahab fans, they must not miss out on reading this one because he himself liked it which pushed him to write and summarised the book in his own signature style, the four lines I am posting here

Yeh faasle teri galiyon ke humse tay na huey
hazaar baar rukey hum hazaar baar chaley
na jaane kaun si mitti watan ki mitti thi
nazar mein dhool, jigar mein liye ghubaar chaley
                                                                                                              - Gulzar

So, summarises the whole book and Manreet was overwhelmed when she read these lines for us that day.

The book swings between present and past, more in the year 1984, the year of sikh riots in India. Also the protagonist of the book Baksh travels down the memory lane when he used to live in the border town of Ferozepur, Punjab. He was a lawyer and have sailed through some of the harsh and circumstantial realities of the life. From pre partition India of 1947, to the post independence era, the India Pakistan war and last but not the least, which is still a major issue in our country, religious extremism. Baksh had seen it all. While he takes his last walk before he reaches hospital in search of a doctor, all these memories haunt him, makes him think about his family, faith, fundamentalism and misguided passions.

Also, the Bhalla family tree given at the first page of the book must be understood before you start reading the book.It would be slightly tough for you to read this one if you don't understand the family structure. Also, the book touched my emotional side, which is not easy. The way riot scenes have been described would send shivers down your spine. You feel disgusted and helpless. As Manreet has experienced all these times herself, the way she has narrated the scenes becomes more realistic. The book is definitely not a light read, at least for me it wasn't. Also, the relationship of Baksh with all his family members have been told so beautifully that would instantly connect you to the story.

I strongly recommend you to read this one. It is a fine piece of writing w.r.t. whatever knowledge about writing I have.  I have already read it thrice and I am sure I am going to read it again and again. :)

Love Peace & Happiness : What more can you want (by Rituraj Verma)

When I first got the chance to review / skip this book , my first assumption was abouth the book to be self help or a philosophical read. But I was still curious (quite rare for me ! ) . Today I am loved , am happy (sort of) and if I think right , I do find myself in peace too. So was I living perfectly ? I hoped this question would be answered in the book and so began my affair with the book.

Stories surround us. Stories about people like us who make difficult and often complex choices that sometimes astound us. You must have come across several people in your own life who closely resemble the characters in these stories. Maybe sometimes, you too have gone through trying moments in your life.

For instance, have you ever been bugged enough with your partner to want to leave? Have you ever had to choose between love and money? Have you ever had to compete with your partner? 

At times like these, haven’t you wished that things happened differently and that you could change how they ended?

Now you will control how the stories in this book end.

Each story centres on the life of an urban middle class character caught in a set of circumstances beyond the character’s control. .

Read the way the stories end in the book, but if you don’t agree with the ending, visit the website for alternate endings.

If you don’t like the way the stories end there either, write your own, and if your ending is selected, see it in print in the next print run with your name in the acknowledgement section.

As soon as I read the concept of alternate ending , the writer in me did a little dance. There have been so many times , I had wanted a story to end differently - maybe ased on mood , love for a chaacter or sometimes just a thought : what if ?

The book has nine stories of people like us - most of them who think like us and a few who dare to be different.  Each story makes you pause ( more 'cause you wonder what different ending could the author have thought of ? What would you want  ? will it be the same as author's thought or different and why ? )

And then after deciding , what you want , what your thoughts justify and your moral decide , you should either stick to the ending / check the alternate ones.

the stories deal with all questions in your head and heart - love , religion , moving on , regrets , secrets , sacrifice , worthy decisions , surprises , unexpected guide , ideologies , freedom , dependence and so on ..

The words are many  , but the bottom line is the same - We all seek love , peace and happiness. Some get one or two of the three right. But the author beautifully explains how all three are important to attain in the long run. The characters criss cross through the stories - like some faces do to your life. you may or may not remember them but chances are, you will. The character development and the details of each one's nature has been described as if some one is sitting next to you and saying , yoou know how he / she is ? and you say , oh yes I understand.

I fell in love with one of the characters - the no nonsense , loving and most caring Bhavna. She for me was the one character who had all the three pillars of  a successful life in place. And she left no stone unturned to make that happen for his husband too.

Saying all this , I had one minor complaints - The alternate endings on web. I so wanted them to be at the end of book or the story itself , or maybe hidden inside some other story . But the web option made me wait for hours twice as I read this book travelling in metro !

And I admit , I need to read the last story again cause thats where all the characters finally gather to form the blanket that this book can be called. And I guess , I missed a few sub plots there.

The book is a definite recco for one read atleast - pick the story you identify with  , the character you feel for , and hope he/she can help you gain few answers in your life.

PS : the foreword by Mrs Verma is a treat to read. Verrry sweet read :)
PPS : I wish the references would have been split from acknowledgements and instead moved to last of the book.

I rate this one 3.5/5 [ + .5 for some strong women cast ]

oh yes, I m biased here :D

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Succubus Blues (Book One): Georgina Kincaid Series by Richelle Mead

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SUCCUBUS BLUES: Fiction, Young Adult, Supernatural

AUTHOR: Richelle Mead

Image Source: us.

BEST SELLERS: Vampire Academy Series, Dark Swan Series, Bloodlines SeriesAge of X Series (Upcoming) and other Anthologies.

SYNOPSIS (From the Richelle Mead Website): 

As if love wasn't hard enough! Imagine not being able to touch your boyfriend without sucking away his soul. Welcome to the world of Georgina Kincaid, a reluctant succubus living in Seattle who always seems to find herself in the middle of supernatural intrigue...

Succubus (n) - An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men.

Pathetic (adj.) - A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in Hell, being a Succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants. The wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess get-up complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore — free books, all the White Chocolate Mochas she can drink, and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…


"For someone who just orchestrated a murder, you’re kind of overreacting."

Overreacting? In the last twenty-four hours, I’d had to endure virgins, scary vampires, murder, accusation and humiliation in front of my favorite author. I really didn’t think coming home to a quiet apartment was too much to ask for. Instead, I found three interlopers. Three interlopers who were also my friends, mind you, but that didn’t change the principle of the matter.

Naturally, none of them understood why I was so upset.

“You’re invading my privacy! And I didn’t murder anybody. Why does everyone keep thinking that?”

“Because you said yourself you were going to,” explained Hugh......"and I heard it from Jerome.”

MSM SpeaksAND I am back! Hopefully, this is not one of those statements which the heroines make in a horror movie and never return! :/ Ahem.

Sooooo, it’s been a while that I’ve been around. Life happened, few things good and a lot of things bad. But, I digress!

Richelle Mead’s first work that I read was Vampire Academy. And Georgina Kincaid Series, was a pleasant surprise as it was one of the first few racy Young Adult novels I’d read, much much before the subtle variation in the form of House of Night Series by P.C. Cast or Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead herself.

Getting to the reviewing, here's a trivia for you all! Now I am not sure how many of you are aware of this female demon called Succubus, but as far as my knowledge goes, they are Greek mythological demons who work together with Incubus. Now, Incubus – a male demon, in the olden times, was believed to impregnate women in their sleep. How did he do it? Well, ahem, from the semen given by the Succubus, which she collected by sleeping around with men, in their dreams. I am saving myself from the risk of sounding like a biology teacher, but you've got to figure out the math (or biology) here.

Image Source for Incubus:
So anyway, Succubus Blues is about a beautiful and humane succubus called Georgina (AKA Thetis and Letha), who has to do the dirty for survival. She is serving a hierarchy like in any corporate world – but here, in Hell. Book One introduces Georgina’s multiple sides as a female as well as a Creature of hell. She can shape shift and satisfy any man’s wildest fantasy, although in return of a part of his soul – making him eternally damnable. The more a succubus feeds on any Good human, the darker and hollow the soul becomes – but more satiated and glowing the Succubus would feel. The lower the moral character (Oh, Irony) of the guy, the lesser the life force a Succubus can suck and the more chances of them to join the Hell league. There are Imps, Vampires, Angels (They aren’t there with a ring on their heads), Demons, Nephiliams and all the fantastical creatures draped in a human-like guise on earth plane.

Georgina had a tumultuous past while she was human and now, she seeks to find one true love, which her nature does not allow. She would end up killing any guy she loved, lest she even kisses him. She works at a book store and loves her white chocolate mochas as much as she loves dancing – in an attempt to bring some normalcy into her living. Enter: Seth Mortenson – Georgina’s favorite Author who is shy, geeky, nerd and someone, who crosses path with Georgina unexpectedly. Georgina’s world begins to spin as she worships this mortal Writer but having him around proves to be both test for her as a Demon and Succubus. Fighting with her feelings for a mortal, Georgina finds herself leaning more and more on Roman, an attractive intelligent linguistic professor, who provides much emotional escape to her. But there is something else happening and Georgina seems to be the reason. Her friends and people whom she had tiffs with, are dying while someone is constantly following her, leaving love notes with death threats on her door. A creature that could kill the ones she loves and the ones who love her, is lurking and seems to be taken by the Succubus.

In a constant battle for survival, Georgina has to ensure that she trusts the right person. Angels, Demons, Vampires and Imps are her friends, but one of them could be the one.

Brilliant character portrayal! One thing I like about Richelle is that her women are beautiful, strong, practical and capable of taking care of themselves. They are not your damsel in distress kinds. They can be demure and kick your ass at the same time. To visualize the situation of a woman ridden by guilt and damned for eternity, Richelle creates a niche for herself in all her works. It’s not your average steamy porn-ish young adult novel. Research makes this novel, worth one pick. Tidbits of history and contemporary observations make this a quick and interesting read. MSM Recommends!!!

I rate this as 4/5! *Much better than any other YA I've read in a long time*

Succubus Blues@Random House Group (August 1st 2007)
ISBN - 13: 


flipkart price: Don't even bother! It's 791/-INR

e-book Link ------->Here<---------- This is a torrent link, you can download all the books, in the series, from here.

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