inspirational

Despite Odds by Rita Chhablani

11:04:00 AM



Some life lessons need to be revised and dusted off in the memory and stories are the best way to do that. Despite Odd is a collection of women centeric stories that not just made me laugh or cheer with them , but also shed a silent tear thinking of the atrocities that women are still subjected to. My favorite story is "Back to square one" which showed how people change over time and yet each of us has the force to be right , be true to ourself and our friends. Another story , ""And spring returns" stunned me with the ending. As much as it was shocking , it made me question the reason behind right and wrong decisions. How we just need one hand to support us through the storms. "the phone call"was a true romance tale and of perseverance of love in the times when all things are changing so rapidly.

And yet , a word of caution that the stories are very simple in language and plot. There are few twists that will amuse you but most of the stories are echo of some tales you carry in your heart. Nevertheless, all the stories make a lovely read. Rita's language and observation of emotions and situations can transport you into the scene easily and make you walk with the story as it progresses.

The stories are heart touching , inspiring and so close to reality of so many of us that reading this book became some how important for me.

My rating : 3.5/5

Historical Fiction

Songs of Stone by Sujata Sabnis

11:09:00 AM



Neither romance , nor historical fiction as a stand alone interest me much. But something about this book made me pick this one and though i delayed it some days , once i started , it totally was worth the lunches I missed finishing it. Songs of stone is a story of Nilofer and Jagat who are childhood sweethearts , separated by unfortunate events. Nilofer is sent to Jahangir's harem while Jagat plans her escape. The clarity with which Sujata has painted the life of harem and its various nuances is a delight.Love , heartbreak , lust , power play and beneath all this a  longing to belong - all this comes out in the scenes that she created in the book. Absolutely amazing writing and such wonderful details that you can feel a part of some of the outlandish grandeur.

Jagat and Nilofer's love story is inspiring and setting it up in the time when Taj Mahal was being built lends it another level of approval. In so many ways , Taj Mahal though was an expensive burden on the ordinary folks, but such are the things that we need at times to put faith in. In love and its symbols and the epics that are associated to it.  The story and the all the plots in the book seamlessly keep moving forward in time and momentum , never letting my interest waver. The end was where you felt the story was fictionalized and that was some what predictable but still a good closure.

This is one of the best reads for me in the last month. I will surely be checking Sujata's previous books next year. Do read it for the warmth it gives to heart any day.

My rating : 4/5

Nimue

Fables from India by Uday Mane

2:11:00 AM




Set in the ancient times , Fables from India is a collection of 22 profound and unheard stories from a country known for storytelling.

"The Race of the limps" is hands down my favorite one from this book. The story of a limp boy who never won any race but neither missed running any one of them is something that really touched me. It is inspiring and has a lovely vibe.

I also liked the story of  a dog who wants to uncurl his tail but then decides to keep it the same way. That story was kind of unique and entertaining.

Rest of the stories had a new plot but most of the messages were quite old. There were few stories that actually felt a revised version of some very famous tales  / anecdotes The writing is simple and the stories might come handy to entertain a child. But it can not hold the attention of an adult , specially one fond of reading.

My rating : 2.5/5

Aniesha Brahma

All Signs Lead Back to You by Aniesha Brahma

3:09:00 PM


Every time Aniesha writes a book / story , I feel so happy knowing that it will heal my soul whenever I decide to read it. Of course , getting a review copy is one of the pleasures that keeps this blog alive. I have read all of her books and one thing that shines about her writing is the way she makes everyday stories special. Not just for the characters, but also for the readers.

It takes so much brilliance to show that there is a love story at every where we look with love and care for the feelings. And if you think teenage romance is so different from the way we love at later age , you do not know love at all. Be at any age , people make stupid mistakes and some brave choices every time there is heart involved. This is a tale of friends and lovers and how we switch between two , 'cause friends can be soulmates too !

Afraid of the future and being hurt , Diya Rai breaks up with Ashwin , hurting him not for the loss of love but more for the friendship that they shared. For both Diya and Ashwin , they were the most suitable person in the whole world - opposites and yet inseparable for the whole time they were together in school. Diya, the sensitive girl with a hurtful past found strength in Ashwin and later in Nina , her new best friend in college. Nina later becomes her strength and guide when Ashwin and Diya meet again , but refuse to have anything to do with each other's life.

I liked Nina and felt Diya was little too stupid for my taste. Ashwin is adorable and charming most times but it is the other two characters that deserved more than being caricatures in this drama.

Overall , A lovely sweet read. Do give it a chance to heal you when you feel low some day.

My rating : 3.5/5

Cate Beauman

Deceiving Bella by Cate Beauman

9:18:00 PM

This is the third book by Cate Beauman that has landed in my inbox for a review. While many author's style and books become repetitive , I can not say that for Cate atleast.



First thing , the plot and the thrill was much more in this book than the last two I read. I definitely loved the story in this one. And some how , this was a little away from a perfect characters and setting.

Bella has finally laid to rest , her past and the stigma associated with it. But she can not stay away from trying to locate his father and when she does that , she is not ready for either the truth or the dangers she has knocked the doors of. Reed , after a near death experience walks away from his job and settles in LA to a good job and a house next to Bella. Never did he think that the answers he been seeking all his life would be so close to him yet to hard to get once he is involved with Bella.

The chemistry between the two is very casually built and based on being friends , something that I liked. The other cast in the book is given good space and time to develop and be known to the readers as we close in on the final. The romance is a little off the mark compared to the other books I read but one will totally appreciate the way it is build up and handled in a very natural manner. As both Reed and Bella come to terms with their truths , the feelings expressed are very heartfelt.

I like the "Bodyguards of LA"series and so far , I will readily read the other books that I have missed in the series.

My rating :3.5/5

crime fiction

Blood in the paradise - a tale of an impossible murder by Madhav Mahidhar

12:09:00 AM



Blood in paradise is a difficult book to like and a little difficult to let go too. The best part of the book is in knowing the result , but not the journey to the moment that set the things rolling. I liked the plot a lot , but the writing and editing turned me off. There are some events that are repeatedly told by different voices without adding any new perspective or direction to the story.

Madhumita tried to attempt suicide but is saved by her husband who dies from the same poison. It could be accident , or a planned murder but it will be no less than miracle to prove it in the court. The character development for key persons is done well , even if at misplaced locations in the story.  The court proceedings and the debate / protests that follow this case from the outside are one of the brilliant ideas in the book and I like the author presenting things in that format. Not just the flow is good there , even the arguments are worthy. But at other places , there is a disconnect or a feeling of treating reader as too unaware. That is a tad dragging. I felt the book needs a little trimming.

A good weekend read otherwise.

My rating : 3/5

Chic-Lit

Ultra Short Review of Ruchita Misra's 'I Do, Do I?

10:48:00 AM


    Ruchita Misra’s  ‘I Do! Do I?’ is her follow up to her ‘The Ineligible Bachelors’ which apparently became a ‘National Best-Seller’ .The In-eligible Bachelors was an okay work and though it pretended itself to be a satirical take on Indian Marriages, the book was nothing but pure-unadulterated desi chic-lit. ‘I Do! Do I? is kind of a sequel to ‘TIB’ and traces the events happening in Kasturi Shukla’s life after her marriage has been fixed with Dr Purva Dixit. To give credit where it’s due, I sort of enjoyed the first 170+ pages or so (of this 300+ page book), but after that, the book started getting repetitive with the jokes falling flat, the female protagonist behaving more and more stupid and nothing much really happening in the story line.The climax chase and the supposedly hilarious finale is nothing new and is only what we have seen in a dozen rom-com Bollywood flicks.Ruchita’s writing is plain,with a few hilarious one-liners here and there and the book  is clearly aimed at those urban readers who just want to read an over-long, predictable, generic, desi chic-lit. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5. It’s not as boring as ‘One Indian Girl’, but not that great either. 

-nikhimenon

Aroon Raman

Skyfire by Aroon Raman

2:01:00 AM



Skyfire features Syed Hassan , Meenakshi and Chandrashekahr from Aroon's previous book "the shadow throne" which also was a crime thriller from the way it finds mention it in the current one :)

Skyfire is a story of manipulation of weather and kidnapping of random kids from Delhi that gets noticed when one of Hassan's protegee disappears and the police come asking for him pertaining to a fake robbery case. While Hassan ( whose cover is of ACP but is actually is one of India's top secret service agent ) is stuck with issues of national security , his friends Meena and Chandar are left to do some poking and thinking on their own about the disappearance and the weird clues that the boy Gopal has left behind. The story felt like watching a movie where in you have a feel for the bad guy right from beginning but you are curious to know how it all unfolds. As the story progressed , I kind of felt compelled to finish it but there was a sense of disappointment too for the events became a little too difficult to accept on face value. It sure felt like an old movie where the villain needs an audience for all that he has been trying to do from years.

There are few twists and sequences that I liked more than the rest and the portrayal of how mistrust and miscommunication can be so dangerous in today's world is something so dreadful and shocking. Skyfire is engaging and fast paced, so much that I took barely 60 hours to finish. A new form of weapon , an intelligently researched theme but a little too stretched plot frankly.

My rating : 3/5

Nimue

When love finds you Yashodhara Lal

12:37:00 AM

Things aren't hopeless. You're acting helpless... If you are feeling the way you are, it's because you simply haven't made the right decisions... You know what you are supposed to do. You just haven't decided to do it yet.. 


An year back I had the chance to read Yashodhara's book There's something about you and based on that I was as excited to read her latest book as I was a little prepared to be disappointed by romance not being my cup of tea in general. I must say , Yashodhara knows how to create realistic , relevant and some very endearing love stories.

The book was a pretty fast and easy read for me and  as much I could understand what was really going on with Natasha , the badass "Hitler" boss in the work front , I found her a little too much to like or dislike all through the book. The past story  and the things or people she left behind in pursuit of success , paled a little as they were touched upon very rare or very late. Still ,the author managed to present a very clear picture of a single woman trying to break the glass ceiling in her office by hard work and focus on her work. Of course , it is never enough for her previous or the new boss as things take a shocking turn for her.

There are quite a few other characters in the plot and I felt they have been underutilized in the book. I would have liked knowing more and seeing them more in the life of Natasha. There are a few technical references which were not very clear to me. Yet the book kept me hooked. I loved Nikhil and her daughter's bonding and characters very much. with them , Natasha was almost comfortable and casual in her talks. Otherwise , I felt the dialogues a little stretched.

Overall , a good fun read for a lazy romantic afternoon.

My Rating : 3.5/5

Indian fiction

Mornings After by Tharun James Jimani

7:28:00 PM

"You are doing it out of love , you say, and they're concerned for you out of lov,and I hear a lot of talk about love but how do you even know they love you if everything they know about your adult life is a wildly fabricated lie ?"


Mornings After is the kind of book that will either interest you immediately or may take a few pages , but this is such a relevant book if you want to understand or know about what goes in the head of a random person walking around. Some days we are like Sonya , the rebel of the family yet so rooted for approvals from friends and her mother that she is part contradictory , part independent. Some days we want to be like Thomas , yet scared to be that reckless , without anchorage. In a way , Sonya and Thomas together are so predictable yet an enigma for themselves. There are numerous moments and ways they hurt and heal each other and when they finally part , it feels like a betrayal that was waiting to happen.

The author has revolved the story timeline around the Nirbhaya rape incident and has very accurately captured the ways it affected the general population of India - some remained unmoved , some showed online support but very few were vocal and did something about it. The juxtaposition of that incident  on the discussions and incidents in every woman's life are quite a scene. For a moment , i felt the same fear and anger as Sonya when she thought of the night of the incident. The story moves forward without many bumps but it is the writing at times that is uneven. Some thoughts of the author are without context at times or a little disjointed in the course of story. Yet , these are tied in the very end efficiently.

I liked this book in-spite of the time  I took to complete this.This book made me think of some of my friends in parts and sometimes made me wonder about the hypocrisy of each one of us on any given day.

My rating : 4/5

fantasy fiction

Untamed by Laxmi Hariharan

12:49:00 PM






Untamed , the story of Leena opens with her travelling to the temple of Hugging saint to seek answers about herself. She is the only hybrid human in the city which confuses her about the way the city has kept itself pure blood since the great Tsunami. We see snippets of the background story through her thoughts and conversation with a fellow old passenger but what makes this an interesting read is the way her emotions and feelings are described so real. The clashes of two spirits inside her and the tragic guilt that she harbors in her heart makes Leena so much vulnerable yet there is a strength humming in her very existence. 

I picked Untamed to begin with as I liked the plot. This short read though left me wanting for more. Hence I am going to pick Feral next since that seems to be the choice by many readers and the author too. Each book in the Many Lives universe is a stand alone in the series hence I would try to finish rest of the books too.


This was a good sample of Laxmi's writing and her master-ship on this genre. 


Many Live Series - 

Feral (Maya's story)
Taken (Jai's story. Jai is Ruby and Vik's son. Mikhail is introduced in Taken)
UnTamed (Leana origin 's story. Leana is Maya's daughter)
Redemption (coming soon) Leana and Mikhail's story

Buy Laxmi's here

My rating : 4/5


Nimue

Agniputr by Vadhan

12:00:00 AM

Last year I read Shatru by Vadhan and I fell in love with the character. So when I got the chance to review this book , I was hoping I would be entertained same way. From the moment I started the book , I was hooked. This book was a great help in curing my reading block.



Agniputr is a weapon , the only way to get rid of the demon that has been invoked in the earth's realm by a tantrik. Born out of blood of Surya family, it can only be contained by heir of the same clan, who now is a lawyer far away from home , busy seducing women and earning money. The first attempt to destroy it is ruined by treachery but it does manage to control and hide it from evil eyes. But now , it grows stronger and it is bidding time to unleash all its power and destroy all life on the planet. Using a greedy politician's resources and mind , the tantrik is back to the castle where it all started. The plot is not as simple as it appears in the skeletal structure. As soon as you think the story is on predictable path , the author brings a beautiful twist . The end was supposed to be smooth and easily drawn about but the tables turn there too. How much I hate to wait for next part !

Lovers of thrillers / sci fiction or fantasy will equally like this book. There is a good research done on setting the scientific explanations of some of the phenomenon whether related or not in the larger scheme. Spirituality / ancient wisdom is slowly being proven right by science and we can not ignore it now. The book binds both together beautifully.

My rating : 5/5  

Nimue

Faster , Smarter , Higher by Utkarsh Rai

1:23:00 PM



This book reached me after I had gone through a rough phase at work and the first thing I thought while reading this was , how much years have I put myself behind by not noticing all these things around me. This simple written , well organized book should be made into mandatory reading every time you jump the professional ladder and to prepare yourself for the same.

The book is divided into sections - one for each player in the office, starting with yourself. You , the manager , the team , the colleagues , the manager's friends and lastly the manager's boss - the book has advice on tackling all of these and of any attitude or ethics.  Each chapter ends with quote from different business leaders and whether you read the book in a flow or random topics , the quotes fit well every where. Reading this book resolved some of my queries that I was hoping to voice out some day to my boss or to ask my mentor without looking stupid. Thanks to this book , I now have some more relevant content to fill the gaps when I am in a face to face meeting with anyone in office. I specially benefited a lot from the first section since it taught me how I was not using my own skills and networks in optimum way.

I sure need to re read the book in some months , just to make sure I am on the right track in m professional journey. A very good book for starting to work on oneself , to change and to aspire for a successful and happy time at work.

My rating : 4/5

Children book

The Speaking Ghost of Rajpur by Priyonkar Dasgupta

1:12:00 PM


The moment I saw the cover , I felt certain eagerness to read this book and my eagerness was rewarded enough in the opening chapters -  vacations with cousin and his friends , one of them trying to fit in with the rest , the tales one has heard and the feelings of reality being tad better ! The little town of Rajpur was so picturesque that I felt transported to the very roads these kids walked and planned their adventures. This is the story of 5 guys - 3 of them cousins and two friends of the eldest one Joy. The book has probably all the elements that make this a good book to read on lazy summer afternoons when you are not allowed to step out. This had the charm and feel of my favorite series - the famous five without a pet and any girl. There are video game parlors , the fairs , the picnic , the thrill of new discoveries , forbidden pleasures and the close knit warmth of a small town and their kids.

While i loved the lazy town , the descriptions that probably took me back to my childhood home an summers , after a point it felt too stretched and i wanted the story to move forward a bit faster. More so , I felt that the title of the book gave me too much hopes and i so much waited to find a ghost or an actual mystery in there. The end was a little surprise but then it fizzled out for me a little too fast.

Overall, I liked the book but this one definitely tested my patience !

My rating : 3/5

Nimue

Glitter and Gloss by Vibha Batra

12:40:00 AM


I read and liked Vibha's last book a lot, which I just realized never got the review post I had planned to do about it. When Vibha asked me to read and review her new book, I was glad for the opportunity since I trust very few Indian authors to make me like a chick-lit / romance book.

Glitter and Gloss actually has a glittering cover in golden sparkle that so reminded me of my school art projects. Misha is an independent , careless and spirited make up artist who dreams of love and brides equally. She is very good at her job , which is her only purpose and dream till she meets Akshay , the rich sexy businessman , the one who is so unlike her past failed relationships that it is hard for her bestie to believe. Add in the house friend of Misha -  the perfect friend and roommate worth living with a guy for.

The book is fun , very easy to like and to believe. The situations are mostly real , the conversations free flowing , characters well drawn and for once if you do not at all question the chances of such a couple , you will enjoy the book. This story feels so true and one can relate to most of the drama of a working girl trying to manage her job and family ; both hers and the guy's family efficiently , to constantly seek approvals from others about your life choices and how one can be so blinded by self criticism that we sometimes hurt those who love us.

Though I would have liked to read a little more about the work Misha does or look at her taking a responsible stand for herself but in all , this book is perfect for a lazy evening or late night reading binge !

My rating : 3.5/5




Nayomi Munaweera

What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

9:54:00 PM

Some books trap you with just the cover. Then you read a random story , totally not unrelated and bamn! The tone is set. This book will entice you into flipping pages , dreading what you will read and trying to find some reason to excuse the narrator. Perhaps you will find those reasons , perhaps it will take time to sink in.

The author's first book has been on my list from a long time and reading this made me wonder why I did not pick it up already. The book starts with the unnamed narrator in prison , telling in hints she has done a crime that people will not forget and forgive easily. But first people need to kNow her whole story from the beginning, and that she tells. The broken narratives , like flashes work so beautifully here to both move the story and to keep up the tension in the plot. The happy and sad mix of events do not at any time let the knowledge slip from you that the end will not be good.

This is one of the books that make reading worthy habit , it makes waking up early in morning to finish the book a good decision. The author really cracks open the psychology of unhealthy childhood , the love denied and the way past creeps into your head and ruins the present. Without saying further , i will just say this is a brilliant book and a much brilliant author.

My rating : 5/5

Garth Greenwell

"What belongs to you" by Garth Greenwell

12:26:00 PM



The book tells the story of an unnamed American teacher in Russia , seeking pleasure and love from a guy Mitiko , though there are few others too. This is a story of what made Mitiko use his body to earn and survive , giving a brief glimpse into the economy and society of the country this book is based in. The story spans a number of years starting from the meeting of these two and supposedly final goodbye by the American guy when he realizes and accepts the lies and deceit that Mitiko lives by. Within this framework , the author traces the American's relation with his family , the history , the broken bonds and the forgiveness that he never spares for his father. The scene where his dad suspects about his sexual preference is both so sad and insightful for their relationship. It turns the things towards the death of it.

But what keeps you engaged in the book and much later is how you relate to the desires, the decisions we willingly make to fulfill our lust and even when others show us a way out , we know we are trapped beyond understanding in the lame pursuit. We do not own the objects of desire most times and yet we never stop to try doing that. Hugs , cuddles , kisses or sex - it all is a means sometimes to be one step closer to have the pleasure of company we seek. And how it breaks the heart again and again.

The author also writes beautifully of the fears , the guilt and the unrequited love that is between friends who one day go away forever , driven apart by their choices and how they deal with it. The teenage understanding of gay love and the disgust for the same is captured in the guy's relation with his friend K.

This short ( less than 200 pages ) book packs tales and emotions more than it appears as you begin reading. Wether you finish it slow or in one or two sittings , the book will make one recall some of our own stories and some how it is an answer to those stories left incomplete.

My rating : 4/5


I recieved this book for review from the Flipkart blogging Program

Fantasy

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb

9:45:00 AM


ASSASSIN'S QUEST

Book 3 of the "Farseer Trilogy"

ISBN - 9780553565690
FIRST PUBLISHED - Jan '98
PAGES - 757
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Spectra
SOURCE - eBook

AUTHOR - Robin Hobb

SYNOPSIS - King Shrewd is dead at the hands of his son Regal. As is Fitz—or so his enemies and friends believe. But with the help of his allies and his beast magic, he emerges from the grave, deeply scarred in body and soul. The kingdom also teeters toward ruin: Regal has plundered and abandoned the capital, while the rightful heir, Prince Verity, is lost to his mad quest—perhaps to death. Only Verity’s return—or the heir his princess carries—can save the Six Duchies.

But Fitz will not wait. Driven by loss and bitter memories, he undertakes a quest: to kill Regal. The journey casts him into deep waters, as he discovers wild currents of magic within him—currents that will either drown him or make him something more than he was.

QUOTES - 

  • Not being able to think of a reply is not the same thing as accepting another's words.
  • But a living is not a life.
  • Sometimes a man doesn't know how badly he's hurt until someone else probes the wound.
  • ...sometimes it only makes one more lonely to know that somewhere else, one's friends and family are well.

FL Speak - I'm just going to assume that Hobb ran out of time and had to submit this first draft to the editors. 

Having done that, here's why I feel such a thing happened. All I found from this book is constant negativity, self doubts, sacrifices for no good reason and a mashed up climax that leaves more questions. 

You'd assume the protagonist to be wiser after two books. Apparently he isn't. He's still as selfish as ever and the only way to make him fall in line is by issuing commands that he cannot break free off and threatening to take away stuff/people he gives an iota of care about. Classic petulant child syndrome. 

This is a huge book. Pages and pages of mewling, crying, thinking about stuff that cannot be changed, the constant fear of failure and the inability to fucking stand up to anyone, anything or self. I'm sorry but I don't know who this Fitz is anymore. Yes, he's a servant of the King, a tool to be made use of, a sacrifice for the greater good. It would've made sense if he actually did something worthwhile in this book. 

I don't even want to start about the other characters. Ketricken used to be one of my favourites. Please make note of the words "used to be". The Fool, however, was a good surprise. I liked the parts where he was involved. Starling, the wandering minstrel is by far the best character of the lot. Full of life and full of flaws and with the "don't give a fucking damn" attitude. 

Don't get me wrong. The Farseer trilogy is one of the best trilogies ever. This is a beautiful tale. If only I had picked it up earlier, I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it much better. However, as things stand, I'm spoiled by other grand tales by newer authors. Despite all these, I still plowed on. I still kept reading and turning pages because the end was near and it promised something spectacular. 

Oh it was spectacular alright. It was also terribly disheartening. The Elderlings? The ones who would come to save the city. Well, guess what you've to spend years to coax them to come to your aid. That just made me sad. 

"the city is in danger. Summon the Elderlings. Where's the panic button?"
"oh wait. You need to spend a couple of years to try and ask them for help while your city burned, your people slaughtered, your houses looted."

And what do we get after so much? A 5 page wrap up. How did they save everyone? No one knows. The Raiders defeated in half a page. 

And not to mention the stupid sacrifices I've had to read about. Not to mention the little tears I had to shed for the loss and heart breaks. All for the sake of this haphazard, sloppy climax. 

If only, Hobb, if only you foreshadowed a little more. 

RATING - 3/5. A good trilogy.
Picture Credit : Robin Hobb

Fantasy

Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

8:32:00 AM


Royal Assassin
Book 2 of the Farseer Trilogy

ISBN - 9780006480105
FIRST PUBLISHED - March, 1997
PAGES - 752
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHER - Voyager
SOURCE - eBook

AUTHOR - Robin Hobb

SYNOPSIS - Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin, but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

QUOTES -


  • No man is so dangerous as the man who cannot decide what he fears.
  • One can only walk so far from one's true self before the bond either snaps, or pulls one back.
  • It’s not the kind of work a man does that says he can be proud or not. It’s how he does it.


FL Speak - I think Robin Hobb did a far better job in this book, both at plot and character growth. 

For those of you who have read this book, tell me, did you find it tedious at times or did you nod your head through it? Did you read it as an adult going through just another fantasy or did you live it through the eyes of our 16-17 year old lead character? Authors have this extraordinary ability to weave emotions to words. They live multiple lives, shedding characters as they see fit. As readers, we often do not distinguish between the various characters, their experiences, their ages or their genders. Grave as this error might be, we fail to admit it to ourselves. 

So when I read about our young Fitz, I completely accepted that their will be lots of emotional drama. After all, every teenager has those days and it would be extremely illogical if authors had to skip those. I became his shadow. I lived his life. I felt his pain and my heart fluttered when he found his love. Like every other teen, a person spends an insurmountable amount of time mooning over their loved ones and no advice can change that. (Even though, at the age of 28, I find the process of reading those paragraphs extremely irksome and wanted nothing more than to skim to the pages where there was more action, I remember my younger days where I did the same things. Fell in love and wanted to stay there while the world had other plans for me) 

Fitz finally grows up in this book. Not to an adult yet, but he has grown beyond his years. One part brave, three parts fool. There is also considerable time spent in doubting himself, which can be quite a chore. Robin Hobb made sure that if we are to read about the ecstasy and the adventures, we have to go through the bits that sometimes lulls you to sleep. 

The ending was quite a nasty shock for me. I'm actually not looking forward to the next book. At least the first 100 pages. This is going to take all my guts. 

Did I miss something? 

RATING - 4/5
Picture Credit : Robin Hobb

book blast

Book Introduction - The Conspiracy at Meru (Vikramaditya Veergatha # 2)

12:26:00 PM






VICTORY IS TEMPORARY. THE BATTLE IS ETERNAL.

Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine have fought valiantly to repel the rampaging hordes from Devaloka and Patala – but Avanti has been brought to its knees. Ujjayini lies battered its citizens are scared and morale is badly shaken. Meanwhile, the barbaric Hunas and Sakas are gathering on the horizon and cracks are emerging between the allied kingdoms of Sindhuvarta.

The only silver lining is that the deadly Halahala is safe. For now.

Bent on vengeance, Indra is already scheming to destroy Vikramaditya, while Shukracharya has a plan that can spell the doom for the Guardians of the Halahala. How long can the human army hold out against the ferocity and cunning of the devas and asuras? And will Vikramaditya’s love for his queen come in the way of his promise to Shiva?




The deadly Halahala, the all-devouring poison churned from the depths of the White Lake by the devas and asuras, was swallowed by Shiva to save the universe from extinction.
But was the Halahala truly destroyed?
A small portion still remains – a weapon powerful enough to guarantee victory to whoever possesses it. And both asuras and devas, locked in battle for supremacy, will stop at nothing to claim it.
As the forces of Devaloka and Patala, led by Indra and Shukracharya, plot to possess the Halahala, Shiva turns to mankind to guard it from their murderous clutches. It is now up to Samrat Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine to quell the supernatural hordes – and prevent the universe from tumbling into chaos!
A sweeping tale of honour and courage in the face of infinite danger, greed and deceit, The Guardians of the Halahala is a fantastical journey into a time of myth and legend.

About the Author
Door-to-door salesman, copywriter, business journalist & assistant editor at The Economic Times; Shatrujeet Nath was all this before he took to writing fiction full-time. He debuted with The Karachi Deception in 2013, followed by The Guardians of the Halahala and The Conspiracy at Meru, the first two books in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series. At present, he is writing volume three of the series. Shatrujeet lives in Mumbai, but spends much of his time in the fantasy worlds of his stories.



Also by the Author:
(Click On the Cover for More Details)

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Fantasy

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

7:09:00 AM


HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

Book 8 of "Harry Potter"

ISBN - 9780751565355
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2016
PAGES - 330
GENRE - Fantasy (Play)
PUBLISHER- Little Brown

AUTHOR - J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

SYNOPSIS - It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

FL SPEAK - 

Holy fucking moaning myrtle!

They're back, you know? That boy who lived. And his freckled friend and that bossy muggle. The trio are back. But this isn't their tale. It is and yet it isn't. This is the story of kids. Of Albus Severus Potter and his friend.

I thought I had done my share of laughing and smiling and shedding tears over Potter stories. Apparently, J.K. Rowling isn't done meddling with my emotions. Harry Potter and the cursed child takes you back to London, Hogwarts, friendships, dementors and a new monstrosity. The scar hurts, love. And when the scar hurts, you-know-who what's coming.

No spoilers. You'll need to read this. Every Potterhead needs to read this. This play, this amazing play brings the magic back in front of your eyes. I can only shudder with uncontrolled excitement at how much more awesome this would've been if it was turned into a full fledged novel. Brings back memories, it does. HP was first released in '97. By the time Goblet of Fire came out in 2000, I was in 7th standard waiting outside a bookshop since 7am in the morning with a very grumpy dad to be the first one to read it. When the last book came out in '07, I was 20 and got a one way ticket to Bangalore to read that book first.

12 years later, I'm 29 but the kid in me is still the first year in Hogwarts. Harry is now 40. He has aged far faster than me but then he was always the special one. This play will take you back to the past like a time turner, make you meet some old friends and even older foes, turn your stoic face into an emotional mess and make you wish you had one more page to read.

Read it like a play. Read it like it is meant to be. Savor the words for you don't know when you're going to read them again. Feel the magic and trust in the boy who lived. 

Rating - A solid 5/5
Picture credit : Pottermore

Bhanu Pratap Singh

Someday .. with or without you by Bhanu Pratap Singh

11:52:00 AM


Someday.. from the cover and the blurb looks like to be a usual love story , perhaps a love triangle too. But fortunately this one is bit more than that. The book opens in a parallel track of two different people , in different years narrating their version of events. There is an obvious overlap but for most part , the story moves on its own pace and hooking the reader to this heady mix of past , present and the characters in the book. The book is almost an accurate version of relationships , tangled emotions and messed up ego of the current generation. You will see a part of some one known in the characters described , without judgement of course.

The story has some loopholes , a little too much cheesiness at times but perhaps I have heard equally weird tales in reality so I could accept certain events as it is and move on. I do have a certain disregard for the kisses and making out scenes but only once did I feel the scene was out of flow. Rest of the story is pretty engaging and quite believable in its premise. What totally made this book a worthy read was the point where the past and present overlap and we see Dave go back to face his past , the consequences of his one mistake in order to sort out his present love story. There the things get too interesting for me. That is when I actually smiled and gave an imaginary thumbs up to the author for this story.

The book has its own flaws , it is not too refined at places and seem like any other indian fiction we come across. But it has the potential to make you forgive those flaws by the time you finish the book.

My rating : 3.5 / 5

Do give this one a try. You will not regret reading this.  

Fantasy

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb

1:45:00 AM



ASSASSIN'S APPRENTICE

Book 1 of "Farseer Trilogy"

ISBN : 9780006480099
FIRST PUBLISHED : March 1996
PAGES : 480
GENRE : Fantasy
PUBLISHER : Voyager

AUTHOR : Robin Hobb

SYNOPSIS : (From Goodreads)

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.


So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

QUOTES :

  • When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.
  • Don’t do what you can’t undo, until you’ve considered what you can’t do once you’ve done it.
  • Nothing takes the heart out of a man more than the expectation of failure.
  • We left. Walking uphill and into the wind. That suddenly seemed a metaphor for my whole life.

FL SPEAK :

Robin Hobb had been on my list for far too long. So when I picked up this book today, I promised myself to savour every word slowly. That didn't happen. I couldn't stop turning over pages. 

This is a phenomenal beginning to a trilogy. The beauty lies in its simplicity. There's no overlying complex magical system. What this book offers is a simple clichéd tale of a bastard unrecognised and ditched. As most fantasy tales go, this is a coming of age grand story of one Fitz. Court intrigue, bondings and assassinations. Fantasy books often has a wider story arc which teaches you loyalty, bravery and a sense of kinship. This book was nothing less. If you're a fan of Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" and Tad Williams "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn", you'd love this one. 

Without going into spoilers, this book is everything that you'd find in any coming of age setting. Young love, greater duty, conflict of emotions, a sense of independency as well as all those figths you always wished you found in such a novel. Robin Hobb decided to give Fitz a tough life and she didn't look back. More often than not, it felt Fitz was more of a puppet to be played along instead of living like every other teenager would. But then, bastards always have had a tough life. 


There are lots of areas for growth. Character wise as well as the story. This is just the beginning. Whatever adventures lie ahead, it will be fun to read about Fitz again.

My Rating : 5/5 (I've been told I'm generous with my ratings)

Freelancer

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

6:55:00 AM


ME BEFORE YOU

Book 1 of "Me Before You"

ISBN :  9780670026609
FIRST PUBLISHED : 2012
PAGES : 369
GENRE : Romance
PUBLISHER : Viking

AUTHOR : Jojo Moyes

SYNOPSIS : (from the back cover)

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.


QUOTES : 

  • “...I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”
  • “Push yourself. Don't Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”
  • “I will never, ever regret the things I've done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”


FL SPEAK :

Contrary to the very suggestive title, the cursive writing giving it some more emphasis, this is not a love story. Indeed I've read better love stories and I've read better stories about love in other non romance books.

I repeat, this is not a love story.

This is the story of Lou and Will. A story, shove the love aside. A beautiful story. The blurb of the book already gives you an idea what's to be expected. Sadly, there's nothing else. Yes, Lou enters his life like a burst of colours. Yeah, no. She gets a job as a care giver to William. Now before you lot scream spoiler, let me tell you this happens in the first ten pages so you can kindly fuck off now.

Lou is dangerously plain. When I say plain, I mean without any ambition in life. Will is a has been who has done (almost) everything before that ill-fated accident. Naturally, they bond. Who wouldn't bond with someone who's their polar opposite? *looks around*

What the readers and Lou don't know is that Will is also extremely determined. Basically, even though the story is realistic and beautifully written, it still failed to keep me constantly captivated. It is more of a TFIOS meets the Bucket List. It also failed to make me cry. That almost never happens. I bawl at everything. I cry like the Niagara falls had an orgasm and blame it on the sudden sandstorm in my room. This worried me. Other reviews suggested me to keep loads of tissues ready.

I'm giving this a 4 because it's a good story.
I picked it up and I finished it and I moved on to the next one.

Should you read this?
Yes, it's in the news.
Is it worth your time?
Yes unless there's food or sex involved.
Will I watch the movie?
For the love of mother of dragons, Yes.
 


excerpt

Excerpt-Lazlo's Revenge

12:00:00 AM

Excerpt –Chapter 1: Bukovina


August 1914
Czernovitz, Bukovina
Austro-Hungarian Empire

Miklos Floznik

I approached the first houses, gasping for breath, horrified to see the destruction being wrought by round upon round of artillery fusillades. There was no cover to be found. Dazed, I continued running, desperately trying to save myself. I passed perhaps a dozen or more homes laid nearly flat. Mutilated bodies lying all about and the wounded wailing like nothing I had ever heard. As I neared the outskirts of the city, the shelling began again as suddenly as it had stopped. Cannonade pounded in the distance. The earth trembled ferociously at my feet. Turning a corner behind what still stood of the only remaining wall of a large stone building, another round of explosions pounded the city as I leaped down into a now-exposed basement filled with debris from the collapsed upper floors—only one wall and half another standing. Hope drained from me. Each deafening blast shook my senses, sending shards of glass and cracking timbers high into the air with a sickening burst.

Darkness fell quickly in the gloomy gray of dark as I slipped over a broken wall of stones and fell into the pit of the decimated structure. I pushed tightly into a corner of what was once someone’s home, protected from the drenching rain by a small portion of what remained of a badly damaged wall hanging precariously overhead—a welcome but uncertain shelter in the midst of chaos. I pushed tightly back against the cold stone walls on either side, finding as much safety as possible against a new round of explosions that pounded above and around. Each blast shook the skeletal rubble of the house, wrenching stone and wood from tenuous perches and sending more flying debris into the desolate hole that would be their final resting place . . . and perhaps mine as well. I was trapped—I couldn’t move for fear of being crushed in that dreadful place or being shelled to death outside. I pulled my knees to my chin…all I could think to do was pray…and as I prayed…tears came but did not assuage my fear.

Mercifully, with the darkness, silence also descended—even warriors need their rest. Only screams of the wounded and desperate pleas of survivors who searched frantically through the rubble for lost loved ones pierced the cold, wet, bleak night. Soon, darkness also shrouded them in silence, all but the woeful cries of the dying calling out miserably in their hopeless plight—my hopelessness too, I thought. In my corner hideaway, I could see nothing but the black of night illuminated only by the flickering dance of fires burning what remained. I knew without seeing that only rubble lay before me, and there was no hope to be found.

Bombardment of the trenches and the city paved the way for the Russian ground troops, armored cars pulling cannons, and the dreaded Cossack horsemen. I knew they would come—surely, by morning they would come. Everything in their path would be destroyed, everyone who resisted would be killed, and all others would be taken prisoner. There was no doubt. It was their way— what Colonel Eduard Fischer and the Hungarian Army had come to Bukovina to prevent, what I bravely thought we could accomplish was lost. I had not even seen a Russian, but I knew there was no hope of saving anyone. The Kingdom of Bukovina was doomed, and surely none of Austria-Hungary would be safe. With the Hungarian Army defeated and the stronghold city of Czernovitz overrun, no one remained to save us. Even Colonel Fischer might be dead, leaving no leader to stand boldly and hold the remnant together.

In the barren darkness, my youthful excitement as a proud Hungarian soldier on a mission to save the Kingdom of Bukovina, and ultimately the empire, suddenly struck me as a foolish notion. Wearing my uniform once made me very proud, but now I was only frightened and angry. My comrades and I were assured that victory would quickly prevail, but war and death tragically became very real, fearful, foreboding, and final. I questioned myself: Was I a coward to run? Do I really know what bravery is? Do I really know what all these good people are dying for? Do I know what this war is all about? Do I even care about Jews? After all, these people in Bukovina are Jews, many of them. Are they worth the death of so many fresh, hopeful young Hungarian and Austrian men? Are they worth my life?

My head swirled with doubts. My heart ached for answers I didn’t have. Life became too real, too fast. My tortured mind flashed back to the wretched face of the too-young boy, dead in the trench, and the unknown soldier whose bloated corpse had lifted my escape. I sat in my wretched corner and questioned why I had come to such a place—why anyone would engage in such brutality.

Was this worth it…for them…for us…for anyone?

After being drenched for nearly all of three days, the rain finally stopped. The choking smell of charred remains of buildings, gunpowder, and the rotting dead hung heavily in the air. I wished for the rain again, to dilute the ghastly stench. Time slipped slowly by. The dying must have passed through death’s mercy in the eerie silence and the wounded attended to, for as I listened—no sound. Strange, I thought, that in the midst of all this evil, there should be silence. I knew it could not last. Fear grabbed my throat again. My impulse was to get up and go, take action, do something, anything, but my mind held me back—there was nowhere to go, no escape, no hope. The Russian Cossacks would be here by morning—nothing to do but hide and wait, then fight to my death, to salvage whatever honor there might be in resisting.

Below the woeful mute of night, I crouched and cowered. Shivering in fear, my mind drifted back to happier days in Budapest when, as a young boy, I…

Just then!

Something fell on the far side of the rubble, sounding as if it came from behind the largest pile of debris—perhaps another dislodged stone. I leaned forward to hear and peered vainly into the darkness as my heart leaped in my chest and immense fear gripped me. The worst of my thoughts seized me—the Russians were coming in the night and rooting out survivors! Desperate, I slowly reached to my side, and silently drew out my pistol. Another sound. Someone was moving, and not more than ten meters from me.

I raised my pistol and aimed in the direction of the sounds, I was prepared to shoot anything on sight, at any slight movement—my hands trembled against the trigger. A faint light appeared, flickering behind the rubble, like the light of a small candle casting a very large, daunting shadow around me, barely visible as it slowly danced in the eerie candlelight, nearly scaring the life out of me as my finger tightened on the cold trigger.

Crying—quiet, sorrowful weeping—as if the person hidden by the pile of debris knew she had to be very quiet but could not help herself…clearly a woman, perhaps a very young woman, maybe just a girl. I was still…very still…and listened for perhaps fifteen or even twenty minutes, until the light wavered and died. The soft whimpering continued for a long, long time in the fearful dark that kept me huddled closely against the walls of my corner as though I wished to disappear in its grasp. I would wait. By the dim light of morning, I would see who my companion in that hellacious hole might be. Though I resisted, sometime later I dozed, exhausted, dreamily wishing for the safety of my home in Budapest.

I woke to the constant patter of a dreary rain as the breaking dawn cast a ghastly glow over the destruction strewn around and about me. My eyes fixed toward the sound and the light of a few hours earlier; I listened but…only quiet and stillness…no sound but the steady falling rain.

 -nikhimenon

*special arrangement with the author


Historical Fiction

Introducing Lazlo’s Revenge by Glen Thomas Hierlmeier

7:50:00 AM


Glen Thomas Hierlmeier’s latest historical romance novel, Lazlo’s Revenge, is the story of one woman’s adventure throughout Europe to uncover her parents’ pasts.  Stories of romance, war, and traumas both physical and emotional are unearthed as she traces their footsteps back to the major sites of World Wars I and II.

Lazlo’s Revenge follows Maxine “Max” Fischer, a writer and Swiss war correspondent, whose parents (Hank and Roberta Fischer, the main characters from Hierlmeier’s previous book, Honor and Innocence) lived through the tragedies of the Great World Wars. 

Max sets out on an adventure throughout Europe to uncover her parents’ pasts and see the very places where they survived on their odyssey to escape danger and death. Stories of romance, war, and traumas are unearthed as she traces their footsteps back to the major sites of World Wars I and II.  

During her journey, Max becomes fascinated by the people who influenced her parents' lives. She follows the life and times of Lazlo Floznik, the man who saved her parents and helped them escape catastrophe in Europe by seeking out refuge beyond the reach of the security forces that sought to imprison them.  The years leading up to World War I, the time between the wars, and the experiences of World War II reveal their secrets as Max explores her family roots, in this deeply emotional story tied together by Lazlo’s intense story of love, and that of his father, Miklos, before him.  

Praise:

Any reader who enjoys historical fiction, romance, war stories, and stories with action and adventure, should definitely give Lazlo's Revenge a read. I am pleased to be able to recommend this book to any such reader. I am also looking forward to reading more from the promising author, Glen Hierlmeier, as soon as I possibly can!” – 4 Stars, Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite

“With deft skill often found in good fiction, Heirlmeier masterfully creates a sweeping epic anchored by strong characters. The accurate and poignant historical references are sure to delight any historical reader.” – 4 Stars, Red City Review


About the Author:

Glen Thomas Hierlmeieris a graduate of the United Sates Air Force Academy, and has an MBA from The University of Wisconsin. He served in the U.S. Air Force, where he helped develop the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft, and gained a deep interest in world affairs and warfare.

He subsequently completed a career as a banker and real estate executive, serving as President and CEO of various companies for over thirty years before retiring in 2009.

Glen enjoys writing historical fiction and has published three other books including Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to RememberWe Had to Live: We Had No Choice..., and Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War, the prequel to Lazlo’s Revenge. His latest novel, Lazlo’s Revengewas released in July 2016 from Xlibris publishing.For more information, visit: http://www.booksbyglenthomas.com/.


Readers can connect with Glen Thomas Hierlmeieron FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

-nikhimenon