Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Case of Imagination by Jane Tesh

Impressions off the blurb:
A mystery of non-killing proportions escalates to a kill, and needs the protagonist detective to change her plans. The description terms it as a playful first mystery, but with a murder involved, I’m wondering how it can be playful as such.

My thoughts on the book:
I’m new to reading on a Kindle Cloud Reader. This is the first book I have read there, and I must say that the app makes it the reading seem easier than a PDF does. Oddly enough, I don’t have a payment option that lets me purchase Kindle books, so I had to start off with the free ones.

The protagonist is a freelance detective Madeline Maclin, who was a former pageant queen. She stays and works at Parkland, a town in North Carolina. Without a case to solve and having some time to spare, she agrees to go with her friend Jerry Fairweather to the neighboring town of Celosia where he has inherited a house from his dead uncle. Jerry is a self-proclaimed occult expert, who does séances and readings etc.

While at Celosia, the two of them see a parade before a pageant. There is also a protest against the pageant going on. One of the protesters suggest Madeline to investigate into some sabotage that has been happening at the pageant, since the organizer Evan James seems to think it’s their work. Madeline finds a case like that, and begins to look into Evan’s bad luck. Between pageantry recollections and investigations, there are also suggestions that there is the supernatural involved too. That brings Jerry’s interest in the story, and his girlfriend Olivia’s non-interest, as she tries to coax Jerry out of moving to the uncle’s house.

The light reading seems to be going well and the incidents seem to be just pranks played by bored kids of Celosia when the twist comes. The girl with the most odds to win the pageant is found murdered. The police warn the detective to stay away, but she continues. The new found attraction of Madeline to Jerry also brings a romance element into the mix. With twists and turns and new revelations, the protagonist appears to be getting herself into some danger as well, even in the usually dull town of Celosia.

Overall experience:
I can understand why the mystery would be called playful. It doesn’t seem to have a deep danger or series of murders and such. The language is simple, witty and direct. Jane Tesh mixes humor, seriousness and romance quite nicely, though there is no direction to one type. I don’t find that a drawback as such, esp. considering it as a playful mystery. I liked what I read. It’s very difficult to keep the flow and attention of the reader in an e-book, but the story wasn’t a drag and it kept my attention quite nicely, if not grabbing it completely. The characters are many, but endearing. The villain is unpredictable, the motive different. The ending somewhat leaves me wondering as to the future of the detective. I’m intrigued to know what lies ahead for her.

Rating: 7.5 / 10

Book Details:
Title: A Case of Imagination
Author: Jane Tesh
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Sold by: Amazon Digital
Price: Free (as of now)

About the author (as on book-page):
Jane Tesh lives and works in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith's home town, a real life Mayberry. She is a retired media specialist and the author of five mystery novels, as well as numerous plays for children. When not writing, Jane plays the piano for productions at the Andy Griffith Playhouse and teaches aerobics at the local gym.

Reviewed by: Leo
Also for: Mixed Variety Challenge at ALOP, First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Wrinkle In Time - Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle In Time is an old book. And old book with which I only recently came into contact with(my family not being the type to gift books on birthdays). And it’s fantasy.And a children’s book. All the more reason to love it!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Till The Last Breath... Durjoy Datta

Till the last breath by Durjoy Datta tells the story of life from the window of awaiting death round the corner scenario using four central characters and chapters swinging around their lives in separate and mixed narratives. The book its own set of highs and lows just like the life of people it talks of.

From everything that Durjoy has offered in the past, TTLB is the kind of story you would least expect from him. Unlike his immensely successful Deb and Avantika trilogy, TTLB’s central theme is not revolving around relationships, lust, infatuation and modern day college couple’s lives, instead it talks of something much more serious than that – terminal illness and change of life as a consequence of it.

Most of the book is set around the events and turbulence of thoughts experienced in room 509 of GKL hospital where two patients Dushyant Roy and Pihu Malhotra finds themselves facing death. The doctors operating them – Armaan Kashyap and Zarah Mirza are both young, charming and successful in their different ways but as they work on case of Pihu and Dushyant, they find each other facing their respective past demons and get their own lives permanently altered in the process.

I will talk about separate characters and book as a whole in the course of this review further. Dushyant roy is a spoiled young muscular boy, he is an addict and has self destroyed himself while taking substance abuse as a support after things have gone wrong in the course of his life. His jaded girlfriend Kajal Khurana and his past visions of a dysfunctional college life romance with and around her is used to show a picture of why Dushyant is where he is. Their story is written in easy college narrative, using typical Durjoy phrases and slangs of campus life. Insights of Dushyant become predictable and irritatingly repetitive at many instances as there are many drag portions featuring his life and Kajal’s post their separation. Durjoy is less innovative and offers no new substance using their college era narrative in major part of the book and sometime the sudden change of emotions experienced by both of them, donot appear believable. They are too radical and fluctuating if you ask me.

Zarah Mirza, working under Armaan treats Dushyant. There are descriptions about her skin and appearance at various instances and she appears to be cut across as the most visually delightful person in the book. In the first half there are unanswered questions around her immense hatred for men, but those are answered in some predictable ways. Even her sudden too much liking for Dushyant and her possessiveness for him when Kajal re-enters Dushyant’s life is not written in much detailed way. Someone who was brutalized by drunk men cannot solely have a soft change of heart for another drunkard on mere possibility of his painful association with a jaded lover. The entire concept of their liking for each other is too shallow and could have been rewritten in much better ways.

Pihu Malhotra is a medical student. She is too good to face the painful and merciless disease that she gets at a ridiculously young age. She is a bright light in the otherwise dark setting of the first half of book (The second half has everyone bright, who was grey or even pitch dark in the first one – weird!!)

Pihu is my favorite character in the book, irrespective of how clich̩ her flirting text with operating Doctor Armaan appears to be, there is a heart to it in the right place. She is cute, funny, optimistic and stands for the courageous aspect of facing death in the book. The description of her ways of winking like a child, flirting like an amateur, desire to experience love once before death is all written in simple yet beautiful way. She is a charmer and with her letter at the end of the book, would find place in a soft corner of your heart Рmuch after the book gets over.

Armaan Kashyap is half well cooked and half stale. I could not help but notice how he borrows his first name from a lead character of a hit hindi soap “Dil Mil Gaye”(Armaan Malik, I guess was the name of the doctor there) and how his initial behavior of rudeness and physical build reminds of of Dr. Rahul Mehra in first episodes of Sanjivni on star plus, when in 2004 – Gaurav Chanana used to play his character.

Armaan Kashyap is brilliant and successful, as quoted again and again but he shows too much fluctuation in both his acts as a doctor and a coworker with respects of his scenes with Pihu and Zarah. He is boringly rude and predictably funny and charming in other parts.

One of the key problems of the book is repetition of texts and phrases as well as lack of originality in the inner plots, while a heartwarming ambition on the over all message – much of which is delivered only by one of the four major characters. In the middle somewhere you get sick of repetitive introductions while writer switches between life of these four and again and again tells us the same things about them in the initial lines of each chapter named over them. The concept is crisp and has been followed by master storytellers of commercial fiction like Sidney Sheldon but Durjoy though ambitious, fails to leave much impact in the style he chose because of the maximized things he tries to express using minimal internal visions and subplots.  Apart from  Pihu, all other characters have somewhat friction stricken relationship with their parents and considerable time has been time to how grateful life can be if your parents love you, something that starkly shapes why Pihu is different from Armaan, Dushyant, and Zarah – and has lesser mood swings and aggressive impulses. For a writer whose mass following is in 18-23 aged readers of young college going crowd is huge, that is an appreciable point to touch in the story which continuously remains close to subject of satisfactory and unsatisfactory diversion of death.

I would give a 3 on 5 to Till The Last Breath by Durjoy Datta -  2 and a half of this is for Pihu Malhotra and her explanations of life and death and half of which is for Durjoy for attempting a change in theme.  I expect better things to come from the popular author in days to follow. He is a young publisher of himself and can experience or experiment change in betting upon him again on a different pitch of a story in future again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Songs of the Humpback Whale - Jodi Picoult


ISBN - 978-0-340-89731-7
GENRE - Fiction
PUBLISHERS - Hodder Headlines
BINDING - Paperback
PAGES - 346

AUTHOR - Jodi Picoult

BEST-SELLERS - My Sister's Keeper, Sing You Home, Keeping Faith

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

For years, Jane has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned oceanographer Oliver Jones. But during an escalating argument, Jane turns on him in an impulsive fit of rage. In anger and fear, Jane leaves with their teenage daughter, Rebecca, for a cross-country road trip guided by her brother Joley to his Massachusetts apple farm, where surprising self-discoveries await.

Now Oliver, an expert at tracking humpback whales across vast oceans, will search for his wife across a continent - and find a new way to see the world, his family, and himself - through her eyes.


“I believe in love. I think it just hits you and pulls the rug out from underneath you and, like a baby, demands your attention every minute of the day.” 
“If you want to love a parent you have to understand the incredible investment he or she has in you. If you are a parent, and you want to be loved, you have to deserve it.” 
“I don't know the first thing about holding together a family, especially one that resembles an heirloom vase, shattered but glued back together for its beauty, and no one mentions that you can see the cracks as plain as day. ” 
“The apple . . . came before Adam and Eve in the story of creation. It had to have been there at least three years because that's how long it takes for a new tree to bear fruit.” 

FL Speak - Look what I found? Picoult's debut novel :D

I've heard people crib about the quality of writing in this one. It seems people aren't happy with her first book as compared to her later ones. Bah! People are never satisfied. As for me, this was certainly different from the others I read and I loved it more.

If you've read the synopsis above, you know this is going to be one memorable read. Since this is Picoult's first novel, published when she was just 26, there are bound to be a few deviations from the Picoult we now know. But to expect that this one would disappoint, was never in my mind.

Songs of the Humpback Whale has five POV's. And the timeline is completely jumbled up. You'll actually have to pay attention and/or in my case, go back to a previous chapter again to see if you read what you read. By the end of page 50, you know the end of the story. And this is when Picoult starts writing.

The book starts with a crash. Rebecca is only a child and her plane crashes while she's flying back to her father. That fatal crash serves as the much needed bridge to close the differences between Jane and Oliver as they start being a family again. Fast forward the novel to the last chapter. DAFUQ!

Yes. And now watch Picoult magically weave the story together. For e.g., if A is chapter 1 and Z is chapter 2, the 3rd chapter is B and the fourth is Y. The 5th chapter is C and the 6th is X until they all come down to a common point of time where the timeline merges. Its beautiful, its poignant. You'll actually have to read the tale to be stunned.

Jane and Oliver. Oliver and Jane. When Oliver, who has more love and time for his whales than his family, threatens to walk about of their child Rebecca's birthday party due to work, Jane thinks she's had enough. Thus begins a road trip across the United States to her brother's place. And Oliver, only in their absence, does he realise, what he took for granted. Its easy to love Jane and hate Oliver. And its easy to connect to Oliver and hate Jane. Picoult proves again that no one is perfect. Who do you side with when you know Jane has been the perfect home maker and Oliver was having affairs? Who do you side with when Jane starts falling for a much younger man at her brother's apple orchard while Oliver is doing everything in his power to find his way to her? Who do you side with when 15 year old Rebecca and 35 year old Jane, fall in love with men who are both 25 years old? Who's love is right?

As i said, you'll know the tragic tale in the first few pages itself. What will help you to read on, is how they survive the coming storm. I'm reading one Jodi Picoult a month now, so as to make sure I don't run out of her. Also, there is only so much you can do to survive her books. Too many in few days will leave me crippled.

Vanessa is stunning in this novel. She's a 15 year old with the maturity of a 25 year old woman. Until love comes knocking ofcourse. The mom and daughter bondings across the width of America makes this book extra special. Not to forget the sights they witness along the journey. When am in the States, along with the tourist guidebooks, this novel will be my companion. If only to traverse the road travelled by them.

And then there are WHALES :D Oh, you'll love them! 

Reading Jodi Picoult is a blessing. That blasted woman picks up the outrageous topics and makes sure you'll end up loving and cursing her at the same time. Reading Jodi Picoult is also very fatal. You're bound to trip or bump your head in the wall because you simply can't put the book down while walking.

My Rating - 4/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Author: Herman Melville
Price: 11.85 USD
Pages: 608 

Synopsis (barnesandnoble.com-- a bookstore):
“Call me Ishmael.”
Thus begins one of the most famous journeys in literature—the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod and its embattled, monomaniacal Captain Ahab. Ishmael quickly learns that the Pequod’s captain sails for revenge against the elusive Moby Dick, a sperm whale with a snow-white hump and mottled skin that destroyed Ahab’s former vessel and left him crippled. As the Pequod sails deeper through the nights and into the sea, the divisions between man and nature begin to blur—so do the lines between good and evil, as the fates of the ship’s crewmen become increasingly unclear....
Melville’s classic tale of obsession and the sea, one of the most important and enduring masterworks of nineteenth-century literature, Moby Dick is a riveting drama, exploring rage, hope, destiny, and the deepest questions of moral truth.

I looked at this book like someone would look at a 50 mile hike. It's terribly large and there were so many pages. I had heard such terrible things about this book ranging from my father to people who had taken the class in earlier years to simple rumors. Everyone knows of this book and how treacherous it is. Whenever I so much as say Moby Dick I get a huge groan from anyone complete with an eye roll. However, when I actually sat down to read it and emptied my mind of any prejudices, I was very surprised. 

The first line of the book is "Call me Ishmael." It's just such a simple yet welcoming sentence. I love the complexity of the characters in Moby Dick for one thing. We are soon introduced to Queequeg, the cannibal. Ishmael learns that even though he may be a cannibal, he's one of the most selfless people he's met. Queequeg soon becomes my favorite character just because he takes care of the people who mock and scorn him. He's a role model for everyone even though he may be perceived as barbaric. Then there's Starbuck, who's first mate of the Pequod. Yes, this is the same Starbuck that the coffee company is named after. I thought that was a really cool fact. He's the careful sailor who cares about safety more than pride and revenge. He tries to persuade Captain Ahab from sailing into obliteration, with no avail. Captain Ahab seems like a madman most of the time, but there are episodes where he seems so human and so raw. Melville does a fantastic job of portraying different sides of each character. There isn't one character that can simply be labeled "good" or "bad." You feel so torn about each one because you know they are capable of good things. 

Melville does this writing style where he writes about a really exciting event, such as the whale hunt, and then he transcends into five chapters about the whale head. For those of you who don't know what this books is about, I'll go into a quick summary. Ishmael is the main character and he was forewarned not to choose the Pequod. He meets a motley of characters and things are hectic while the boat owners are in preparation for the voyage. He does not meet Captain Ahab but hears how great of a man he is. When he does meet Captain Ahab, he sees an older man with a wooden leg. His leg was torn by Moby Dick and Captain Ahab is vengeful. He stops at nothing to get his revenge, which includes putting the crew in great danger. He manipulates his crew. Ahab has many opportunities to stop being so hubristic but does he take them? What? There's a prophecy involved? Who in the world is Fedallah? What happened to Pip? You'll have to read to find out. 

This book is so great because of how relatable the characters are. Even though we probably don't know a whaling captain, we probably do know an obsessive boss or friend or family member who stops at nothing to get what they want. We probably sometimes are impulsive and do things that we regret, like Ishmael. Plus, after you read this book, you'll know so much about whales. I already know the difference between the right whale and the sperm whale. So give it a chance because afterall it is one of America's greatest novels. 

Rating : 4/5

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dark by Paul Secada

I dismiss stories and books quite easily. Some times for predictability and at times just for the language of the book. This one , i did the same in middle but what really made this one an amusing novelette was the fact that it completely turned around ( and I mean it LITERALLY ;) ) !

The end was wham out of the blue , something I did not see coming. you what I mean right ? Don't we all like when the author spins a tale where you re read the end to make sure you did no miss anything !

Samuel Dean is an accomplished novelist. His career has skyrocketed to unheard of heights. However, his personal life is a different tale altogether. When a super storm menaces the city of New York, his story gets turned upside down by a darkness that has followed him most of his life: himself. Told from the perspective of the character, Dark takes the reader into a twisted world filled with sex, drugs and an ending you won’t see coming…

( From the site )

Paul's writing has a flow and it works good atleast for me. I prefer the author talking to me and Paul talks a way you can relate to. The honesty and the grandeur in his words makes is easy to imagine the scenes unfolding in front of your eyes. This novelette was sure a worthy read. Made me smile , made me feel lost and in the end , made me sit back and notice what I had read.

Give it a try !
You can get the kindle version here
Download the free kindle app here

Length : 53 pages
Price : 56 (.99$)

Rating : 4/5

Happy Birthday, Pulkit!

On your special day, we wish you luck, joy and the best of everything in life. Thanks for being such an integral part of A Lot Of Pages, and for doing the important work 'behind the scenes'. :D Your encouragement and contribution will always be appreciated. Wish you a very happy birthday!

Loads of Love,
The entire team@ALOP 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kiss the girls by James patterson

In Los Angeles, a reporter investigating a series of murders is killed. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a beautiful medical intern suddenly disappears. Washington D.C.'s Alex Cross is back to solve the most baffling and terrifying murder case ever. Two clever pattern killers are collaborating, cooperating, competing—and they are working coast to coast.

This was the first James Patterson novel that I read ( and that too after keeping this book for 3 months on the bedside table ). This happens to be second Alex Cross novel and let me tell you right away , IT WAS AWESOME !!

The novel opens to introduce the reader to the three main characters of the book - making of Casanova , first murder by Gentleman Caller and Alex Cross. You get to know quite early what kind of man Alex is - a detective psychologist who loves to play with his kids , is good at playing piano for relaxation and when faced with a problem , he doesn't think twice before getting involved.
It touched me when he cries on death of a young patient.

And then he comes to know of disappearance of his niece Naomi from - the star of Cross family (apart from Alex) , the one person everyone loves is missing from last four days and the North Carolina police is not letting out any information.

when Alex goes there to find Naomi , little does he know he is going to be involved in a a chase for Casanova - the ultimate lover and collector of women. Between FBI and local police , Alex has to find his own clues and chase the guy who commits "perfect crimes". During his investigation he comes to know about the serial killer in LA who calls himself "gentleman Caller" and is sending details of all his crimes to a reporter so it could be made into a book. when the reporter is murdered leaving behind a name , Alex is called in by FBI to ascertain if he is a different person from Casanova or are these perfect crimes by same person in 2 different areas. 

What kept me glued to the book was that the author did not reveal Casanova till the very end , though you know he is one of the people you have come across while reading the book. Alex knows and feels that he has met Casanova but he can not find him till he reveals himself. The chase , the psycho - analysis of both the criminals and the way author links them together is absolutely superb. 

You want to know the criminal but you also would wish the novel not to end. The writing is almost poetic and crisp. There is never a dull moment as the chapters alternate between the three main guys plus all the twists and frustrating wait for the killer to make a mistake while he keeps hurting the women as he pleases. 

I so much want to read more Alex Cross books now!
Some one please find me e books !!

Rating : 5/5

Also , there is a movie adaptation of the book Starring Morgan FreemanAshley Judd and Cary Elwes

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Desperate In Dubai - Ameera Al Hakawati


ISBN - 978-81-8400-171-6
PUBLISHERS - Random House
PAGES - 554
GENRE - Fiction
BINDING -Mass Market Paperback
SOURCE - Publishers

AUTHOR - Ameera Al Hakawati

SYNOPSIS - Oozing with men, money, and Maseratis, Dubai is the ultimate playground for the woman who knows her Louboutins from her Louis Vuittons. 

But for some, there's a lot more at stake than a Hermes Birkin. Leila has been in search of a wealthy husband for over a decade. Nadia moves to Dubai to support her husband s career, only to have her sacrifices thrown in her face. Sugar escapes the UK in an attempt to escape her past. Lady Luxe, the rebellious Emirati heiress, scoffs at everything her culture holds sacred. Until the day her double life starts unravelling at the seams. 

Set against a backdrop of luxury hotels and manmade islands, Desperate in Dubai tells the tale of four desperate women as they struggle to find truth, love, and themselves.


“And every time she hears from him, another pebble of hope joins the little cluster she has collected.” 

FL Speak - Goodness knows why I even pick up these books? Desperate in Dubai is exactly what it says. DESPERATE [in Dubai]. Dubai, the city of gorgeous men, hot Emirati women, moolah, bling and sleaze. A man's paradise, a woman's playground.

DiD is a story of 4 girls. Nadia, who's married to an American convert, Lady Luxe who's supposedly a heiress of a filthy rich family, Sugar who gets a second chance at life and Leila who's getting no so younger by the day and will do anything to snare a filthy rich guy with her feminine wiles.

This book is a mixture of Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City and Gossip Girls. I repeat, I don't know why I picked up this book. Lady Luxe and Leila are friends and thus Leila is aware of Jennifer, Lady Luxe's alter-ego for parties and everything un-Islamic. Nadia and Sugar are friends as well. And as the story progresses, everyone meets everyone else at one point of time or another. 

Everybody has problems. Wellofcourse. Nadia's husband is cheating on her with Jennifer, Lady Luxe falls for a certain Mr. Delicious [oh for the sake of everything dear, what's next? McDreamy??], Leila falls for Lady Luxe's brother but doesn't know that his sister is Lady Luxe and Lady Luxe will do anything to keep her gold-digging friend away from her family, Sugar meets a certain Goldenbwoy but still misses her ex-husband who is currently the new crush in the life of Nadia. And everyone is oblivious to each others fun moments.

Trust this author to make a Bollywood movie in style. So what happens when girls finds out that their friends are the reason their life is hell? Cmon, I know you know the answer. Yessshhhh, they go diabolical. Enter bitchiness and revenge. I once again question my IQ. Anyway, so you know what happens, plans hatch and go wayward, love realizes its a pain, people realize reputations are at stake, specially if you're a Muslim and you take part in haram activities.

Finally, the book ended. Ameera has written a tale that most people in Dubai knows of but will hardly come forward. It was a bold decision, hence the pseudonym. The writing is not legendary, but it will make for an airport read. Oh girls will love this book. I can hear them squealing and giving air hi-fives to the characters.

What I absolutely hated was the logic of this book. You write a bold book, then be completely bold. Many a times some of these characters bring a man home. I rub my hands in glee and turn the page only to find that its morning. Hello????? I don't expect a porno, but hell, I'd like some action, since I don't remember the last time I got any in real life. Lady Luxe was my favorite. Her alter-ego as Jennifer is delightful. Why is it okay for a Muslim guy to be whoring around but not the girl? Go Lady Luxe, you ze man! 

In the end, Ameera Al Hakawati's book is about Muslim women, their freedom and their actions and their portrayal in the world. Fun read, try at your own expense. 

My Rating -  3/5 stars

PRICE - INR 299/- 


AUTHOR- Christopher Paolini


ISBN – 0-552-55320-4

GENRE- Fantasy

SYNOPSIS- When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the empire itself.

       Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands…..

EXCERPT- Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world. A tall Shade lifted his head and sniffed the air. He looked human except for his crimson hair and maroon eyes.

He blinked in surprise. The message had been correct; they were here. Or was it a trap? He weighed the odds, then said icily, "Spread out; hide behind trees and bushes. Stop whoever is coming . . . or die."
      Eragon slowly crept closer, keeping the bow ready. All his work of the past three days had led to this moment. He took a last steadying breath and—an explosion shattered the night.
The herd bolted. Eragon lunged forward, racing through the grass as a fiery wind surged past his cheek. He slid to a stop and loosed an arrow at the bounding doe.


K'QUETZALCOATL' says- And thus the new saga begins, or rather has begun years before.

       Eragon is the first book of the Inheritance cycle, which was originally planned to be a trilogy. And it has definitely got its inspirations from many a fantasy novel, not the least from J.R.R Tolkein’s famed trilogy (I’m pretty sure you all know what I mean), created a fan following of its own, and even turned few heads as a competitor with Harry Potter. So for these very basic reasons I would suggest one to read the adventures of Eragon in the land of Alagaesia.

       It is the story of the rise of a farm boy from humble origins to resurface and hold the mantle of the famed ‘Dragon Riders’. Yes nothing new in the plot or even the actions to give one a bombardment of adrenaline rushes (maybe because one cannot relate to Eragon in this first part). But what Paolini masters in Eragon, and continues in the other books too, is the portrayal of the complexity of the characters; and even more so the twists in the tale is provided by the complexity of relations (and I don’t mean only the love angle). The final battle is wonderfully crafted though, which the movie hardly captures, and it is there that the full action reveals itself.

       Yes maybe it is quite late for me to write this review, the book been reviewed millions of times already, but why I do it now because only now that I have read it via a literary critical angle (damn that angle), and get to realize that Eragon also has much more than a typical movie flavor. It is a description of battle between the reining dictatorship and the struggle of freedom and democracy, with some elements from the American and Irish struggle clearly in mind. Also unlike Tolkein’s middle earth folks where the entire community or kingdom was important, Paolini presents a modern narrative via Alagaesia where family and relations often supercede the old English (and thus middle earth) notion of honor and duty.

     Also for the scrutinizing eyes the inheritance series gives much thought into the role of a modern woman. The Elf warrior Arya, the rebel princess Nasuada, and the great Dragon Saphira are an example of the modern woman as a warrior, diplomat and equal companion of the male. 

    But these maybe are all forced interpretations from my mind. For the FANTASY LOVERS, Eragon and its sequels also, are a one stop for all your fantasy dreams. Be it the journey, the magic learning or the battles and skirmishes all provide ample reading and some light comic relief too. So go ahead and read it if you haven’t done it yet.

       So keep reading Boys and Girls!!

P.S. - Yes it does get stretched up between the pages sometimes, but you have to bear with it for the real fun.

My Rating – 4 / 5 stars

PRICE – Rs. 266 (Flipkart Price)

45 Days In A Cancer Hospital by Alka Dimri Saklani

I am eating, living, breathing mysteries. Yes. In books. On television. In my mind too. Its just a matter of time before I become that lampooning character who roams around the world casting suspicious looks at people, trying to find mysterious stories and explanations where exist none. Phew. One more time, its a mystery that came my way for review. A win - its a different kind of mystery - a medical mystery - the first that I have ever read.

45 Days In A Cancer Hospital is the debut work of author Alka Dimri Saklani. This book narrates a story based in Umeed Hospital - a medical centre which has built its reputation as the best cancer treatment centre, in perhaps the whole country. Dr. Chatterjee, the founder of this hospital, is also a famous cancer specialist, one known to have given his life to the cause of caring for cancer patients. His own mother had died of bone cancer and under excruciatingly bad conditions since his father refused to afford the treatment. His incapacity to save his mother as a child drove him towards the noble medical profession - one which he pursued with obsessive sincerity.

Enter Ashritha - a young and famous writer, who, as her latest project is writing a book on the lives of cancer patients, for the purpose of which, she decides to stay in Umeed Hospital and observe and interview patients. She hopes that her book will become a source of hope, company and inspiration for others afflicted with this deadly disease. However, little does she know that the hospital she chooses to stay in has more to offer than just the stories of people coping up with cancer. A number of terminally ill patients are being killed in cold blood - an extremely strange occurrence given that they are already going to die. Ashritha, the strong, concerned and smart woman she is, suspects some foul play and with the help of her friend from CBI - Animesh - gets on course to unravelling the elusive facts behind these hideous acts. The road to solving the mystery is paved with threats to Ashritha's life, but for once does she not buckle down. If anything, she is even firmly back on the case. Intellectually ripe, she is able to figure out it all - only her wildest dreams could not have conjured where ultimately her investigations lead her. This, along with a subtle, brewing romance between Ashritha and Animesh is what makes this book a wholesome tale to savour.

I roughly took three days to finish this book, that too when I had a pile load of work to do. The previous line is to show that the book managed to keep me engrossed. The storyline is interesting, with adequate crests and very less troughs. Crises are introduced in the story when you least expect. However, as you get friendly with the author and the psyche of her characters, for sometime, the narrative does become predictable. The tale ends like most mysteries do - the culprit is not whom you expect, but one who fits the jigsaw perfectly. Alka's characters are deep, and have consistent traits, which makes them easy to understand and follow. The language of the book is quite ordinary and comfortable. No big promises, but this book does live up to the excitement it creates in the back-cover blurb. The knowledge and research of the author shows in the way she has described unto last detail the life of doctors and nurses in the hospital. The book seldom loses its focus and ties together all the lose ends at the climax. To summarize, I would not label this an extraordinary piece of writing, but a genuinely decent effort by first time writer Alka Dimri Saklani. Giving it 2.5 stars on 5, I would go on to say that this is the kind of easy-read mystery that would conveniently fit into your hectic schedule and provide welcome distractions.

PS - My favourite bit about the book is the Acknowledgements. The author admits to having named her protagonist on her brother, because his support during the process of drafting the book was invaluable. I only hope that if someday I get down to writing a book, I have similar support systems available to me too. 

Book Details -
Title - 45 Days In A Cancer Hospital
Author - Alka Dimri Saklani
Publisher - Leadstart
Genre - Medical Mystery / Crime Fiction
Price - ₹ 195
Pages - 296

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Anza Deception - P.R. Ganapathy


ISBN - 978-93-5009-510-2
PAGES - 378
GENRE - Socio-Political Thriller
BINDING - Mass Paperback
SOURCE - Publishers

AUTHOR - P.R. Ganapathy

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

It is 2015, and India and Pakistan are enjoying peace as never before. But not everyone is happy with this state of dtente...

Kargil hero Major Anwar Islam, newly inducted into the RAW, lands a big catch in his net an ISI shipment of Anza Mark III shoulder-fired missiles meant for the Taliban which the mandarins of South Block use to play an audacious game between Pakistan and China. Anwar then discovers a secret cabal hatching a sinister conspiracy that could lead to thousands of innocent deaths. With a master puppeteer playing a most dangerous game behind the scenes, Anwar can trust no one except crack policeman Vishal Karandikar. Together, they must race against time to prevent Indias own 9/11.

A fast-paced action thriller that shifts from the high passes of the Karakoram to the slums of Mumbai, The Anza Deception is a tale of rogue commanders, double dealers and high-stakes geo-political poker played out in the murky world of South Asian intrigue.

FL Speak - Why don't we have more Indian authors writing stuff like this? Simple, because its not so easy to write awesomeness. Yes, this book is awesome.

What starts as a peace initiative spirals to a behind-the-scenes war between India and Pakistan. 

Peace has finally prevailed. And with peace, comes budget cuts. Why maintain such a heavy army at the border when there is peace? So defence contracts gets canned, and infrastructure gets a nod by the Government. But within the Indian government, there are a bunch of top brass who's motive is to stay alert. They call themselves, the Baaz [hawk]. Their agenda is simple. Don't get carried away by the illusion of peace.

When Anza missiles fall into the hands of a RAW agent, Anwar, in Pakistan, his superiors feel that the time has come to take their plan one notch higher. The plan is to sell the missiles to the Uighurs in China occupied Kashmir in the hopes that China blames Pakistan for attacks against them and thus their relationship sour playing right into the hands of India's puppeteers. But things have a morbid tendency to go awry in books and movies. Half the missiles end up in Mumbai, India.

This is where Vishal Karandikar comes to the fore. Once a part of NATCO [National Anti-Terrorism Command], Vishal now oversees the OCW [Organised Crime Wing] division in Mumbai. As the peace initiative has reduced terrorist attacks from across the border, Vishal has been transferred to Mumbai to concentrate on the underworld business. 

With RAW being aware of the missiles in India, Anwar knows that the country he swore to defend is under a very dangerous threat. A threat so devastating that certain people are ready to look the other way should the attacks happen. When Mumbai police officer Vishal Karandikar stumbles upon the terrorsist's plan, he has no one to go to. Anwar and Vishal must now co-ordinate their search for the missiles all over India. With a ticking time bomb over the heads on thousands of innocent lives, Anwar and Vishal must pour over every single detail.

What they find, may shake the nation forever. What they don't, will destroy it.

And one man in the shadows is pulling the strings all along.

My Rating - 4/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Albee, Edward. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962; play) 

As happens so often when I fall hook, line and sinker for a book, I read Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in one straight sitting. In the process, I missed a comely-looking Ashley Judd chasing baddies around Eastern Europe in Missing, and my nephew's sixth birthday cake, but guess what: no regrets, beeyatch! I'm so glad about our sordid little affair on the balcony- illuminated only by my mobile phone and freed of inhibitions by copious helpings of bergin while the family organized a search party to find me before my nephew went to bed- that I'm thinking of getting a tattoo to forever remind me of our tryst.

Ashley Judd (Missing):  So badass she hangs up on gentleman callers.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is longer than your average play, clocking in at well over three hours. It's a dark and twisted roller-coaster ride full of lies and cruel truths and illusions and harsh realities and wanting and not being able to. The story is played out in the living room of  George and Martha, starting at two in the morning and snaking it's way into the day. (I'd happily forego most pleasures in life to watch Paul Giamatti and a decade-younger Meryl Streep play the couple on film.) Martha has invited Nick and Honey (Ryan Gosling and Isla Fisher, anybody?), a young couple and recently-made acquaintances, back home for a nightcap after a party hosted by her father, overlord of the college where George and Nick are professors.  

George and Martha are middle-aged -Martha the older of the two- and exploding at the seams from too much proximity. The despair and the disillusionment of watching each other grow old without living up to any of their youthful promise is writ large on their countenance and fills their words with venom. They create and participate in wicked games to keep themselves amused, as I would imagine any long-term couple might do. The difference is however that their guests are caught in the crossfire, made unwitting participants in their marital discord. This is a quirky contradiction - George and Martha are much too intellectual and privileged to indulge in what may be considered such 'lower class' behavior.

Their game appears to be an on-going narrative, something they have cultivated and bred for a very long time. It comes with an intriguing set of characters, from a fictional 20-year old son to childhood anecdotes of institutionalized madness and murder. Nick and Honey pack their own anti-heroic punches, consumed as they are by age-appropriate ambition and familial longings respectively. Honey, in particular, is the puppeteer of a shockingly cruel private dance- one that George repeatedly (and ultimately, successfully) tries to cut into.

The use of the word 'successful' at all though, in reference to any of the gang, would be self-defeating, and disrespectful of the pathos of strained human relationships the play so successfully (damnit, that word again!) portrays. Though American, and first staged in 1962, it has more than a touch of the kitchen sink drama that so defined social realist British plays of the 1950s and 60s, and calls to mind -more than once- John Osborne's Look Back In Anger (1956). Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? works -and never, ever feels derivative- because it works on two levels: it is both critique and praise of the importance of illusions to one's sanity (or the semblance of it)- a theme all too easy to identify with for yours truly.

And as if that weren't enough to douse the cockles of my heart with arson, Wikipedia serves up this little pop culture gem for dessert- in the words of the man, Edward Albee, himself- about the inspiration for the title of the play: "I was in there having a beer one night, and I saw "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" scrawled in soap, I suppose, on this mirror. When I started to write the play it cropped up in my mind again. And of course, who's afraid of Virginia Woolf means who's afraid of the big bad wolf . . . who's afraid of living life without false illusions. And it did strike me as being a rather typical, university intellectual joke." In brief: Existential misery gift-wrapped in pretentious toilet wall graffiti-  what's not to like?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? reminded me of: "Wicked Game"- Chris Isaak, Heart Shaped World (1989)  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Assassin's Creed : Brotherhood


Book 2 of Assassin's Creed

ISBN - 978-0-241-95171-2
PAGES - 538
GENRE - Adventure/Action
BINDING - Mass Paperback
SOURCE - Secret Santa

AUTHOR - Oliver Bowden

SYNOPSIS - [From the back cover]

‘I will journey to the black heart of a corrupt Empire to root out my foes. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and it won’t be restored by a lone assassin. I am Ezio Auditore da Firenze. This is my brotherhood.’

Rome, once mighty, lies in ruins. The city swarms with suffering and degradation, her citizens living in the shadow of the ruthless Borgia family. Only one man can free the people from the Borgia tyranny – Ezio Auditore, the Master Assassin.

Ezio’s quest will test him to his limits. Cesare Borgia, a man more villainous and dangerous than his father the Pope, will not rest until he has conquered Italy. And in such treacherous times, conspiracy is everywhere, even within the ranks of the brotherhood itself…

FL Speak - The verdict is : the game is much better than the book. Seriously disappointed by Mr. Bowden.

The story is what you expect in the game. Since its a game to book adaptation, the story more or less runs true. But what fails is the writing. It feels you're reading the game, without actually feeling it. Character development is zilch. Nada. I don't blame the author much, especially since its the second book of the series and I haven't read the first. But no harm done, as of now. Nevertheless, world building could have been a tad more better.

The action is awesome as usual. Ezio has performed the famous "leap of faith" quite a number of times in the book and every time I come upon that phrase, I picture Ezio in the game flinging himself gracefully from the rooftops. Coming back to the story, for those of you, who haven't played the game - 

Ezio is an assassin. An awesome assassin for the Brotherhood. Ezio made a fatal error in the last book by showing mercy to the head of the Borgia family. Now his son and daughter are after his blood. And they managed to kill the head of the Brotherhood, Ezio's uncle Mario. Swearing vengeance and his duty for the Brotherhood, Ezio now travels to Rome which is slowly coming under the influence of the Borgias.

Lovers of the game will love this book as this will give them a chance to revisit their memories. This is where his sister Claudia formally joins the Brotherhood ranks. Her actions and strategies are applaudable. I loved her role. Claudia is superb. But this is not her book. As in the game, this is Ezio's story and he's in every page.

What I didn't like about the book was how it was written. The continuity and flow is depressing. In one page Ezio is planning to rile up the peasants. In the next page, the story fast forwards to 6 months later. What was Ezio doing in that time frame? Mr. Bowden, you can do better. 

I don't know if I should complete this series. I never leave a series unfinished. But disappointment is a strong motivation to not continue. Only time will tell.

My Rating - 3/5 stars

PRICE - INR 350/-
Requiescat in Pace

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Memory of Light - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson


Final Book in the "Wheel of Time"

ISBN - 978-1-84149-870-6
FIRST PUBLISHED - Jan 08, 2013
PUBLISHERS - Orbit/Hachette
PAGES - 912
BINDING - Paperback
GENRE - Epic Fantasy

AUTHOR - Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

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

SYNOPSIS - For twenty years, The Wheel of Time has enthralled more than forty million readers in over thirty-two languages. A Memory of Light brings this majestic fantasy creation to its richly satisfying conclusion.

'And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died.' - From Charal Drianaan te Calamon, The Cycle of the Dragon.

In the Field of Merrilor the rulers of the nations gather to join behind Rand al'Thor, or to stop him from his plan to break the seals on the Dark One's prison - which may be a sign of his madness, or the last hope of humankind. Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat, leans toward the former.
In Andor, the Trollocs seize Caemlyn.

In the wolf dream, Perrin Aybara battles Slayer.
Approaching Ebou Dar, Mat Cauthon plans to visit his wife Tuon, now Fortuona, Empress of the Seanchan.
All humanity is in peril - and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself. The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world. . .

Working from notes and partials left by Robert Jordan when he died in 2007, and consulting with Jordan's widow, who edited all of Jordan's books, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson has recreated the vision Jordan left behind.


My arm will be my sword...
Hooves clattered on the ground. The Trollocs ahead hooted in delight, realising that their prey had transformed to retreat into a charge of men rushing right into their grasp.

My breast itself a shield...
Lan could hear a voice, his father's voice, speaking these words. That was foolish, of course. Lan had been a baby when Malkier had fallen.

To defend the Seven Towers...
He had never seen the Seven Towers stand against the Blight. He'd only heard stories.

To hold back the darkness...
The horses' hooves were becoming a thunder. So loud, louder than he'd have thought possible. He held himself straight, sword out.

I will stand when all others fall.
The oncoming Trollocs levelled spears as the distance between the two opposing forces narrowed.

Al Chalidholara Malkier. For my sweet land Malkier.

It was the oath a Malkieri soldier took during the first posting to the Border. Lan had never spoken it.

He did so now in his heart.

"Al Chalidholara Malkier!" Lan screamed. "Lances, set!" Light, but those hoofbeats were loud! Could six thousand make so much noise? He turned to look at those behind him.

Atleast ten thousand rode there.

FL Speak - [No spoilers]

This is what fans of The Wheel of Time waited for 22 long years. They waited when Jordan first wrote The Eye of the World, they waited when Rand became the Dragon Reborn, they waited when he created the Black Tower, they waited when the White Tower fell, they waited when the Forsaken laid traps, they waited when Rand cleansed Saidin and they waited for the Final Battle. No more, my friends. This 900+ book is only that. The Final Battle.

Hardcore fans like me may have already read the excerpt from the prologue "By Grace and Banners Fallen". And I know, friends, the emotion that swept through me then must have been coursing through you as well. Fear not, there is no let down. No quarter given back to the enemy. Brandon Sanderson has done the impossible. He has finished the tale.

Boy, where do I start? All the characters you met over the course of the first books are here. And you should see their roles man! They've been absolutely stunning. Its impossible to write a no-spoiler review without letting a few out. But I promise not to say anything important. Just a few hints here and there.

Remember the army Demandred was boasting about. Well, its here. Its here and its terrifying! Flaming Forsaken has channellers as well. Then there is Mazrim Taim. And Mat, oh Mat, fans of Mat will absolutely flaming love this book. He's here. He's here in more than half the book. Rand may have the shortest pages among the three. But we all know his is the most important one.

There are deaths. Burn you, but there are deaths. Jordan has saved all those in the last thirteen books only to finish them off in a heroic style here. So many deaths, so many lights extinguished, even the brightest flame of all. So be prepared folks. Be prepared.

It feels like the end of time. Now that the book is over, I don't see the pattern. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. I'll simply have to move on. But its hard. It flaming hurts.

900 pages of action. The pace is flaming relentless. You couldn't have asked for a better way to finish the story. Yes, there will be questions. But the ultimate thing is that you'll be satisfied. More than satisfied. You will be awash with excitement and passion. One chapter is 190 pages long. And I can't wait for you to read that.

Readers and lovers of the "Wheel of Time", you're in for an epic ride, one final battle. You'll cheer, you'll shout, you'll cry when they fall, but you'll be with Rand, giving him your hope, you'll be with Mat, giving him your luck, you'll be with Perrin, giving him your strength and you'll be with millions of us fans, giving them our voice.

When Robert Jordan passed away in 2007 and Brandon Sanderson was asked to keep the flame burning, we had no idea we would see this day. Today, I want you to remember what Lan taught Rand all those years ago.

Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain.

And Brandon Sanderson has lit the brightest flame and saw us to the end. Thank you Sanderson. Thank you Jordan for the best days of our lives.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

My Rating - 5/5 stars

PRICE - INR 599/- [Flipkart Price] 

He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything and, like the wind was gone.

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