Anthology

The Garden of Love, edited by Anuj Kumar

11:01:00 PM


They say any person who has fallen in love, and felt its joys and its pangs, will turn into a poet. Not all poems need to be written though. This collection has 40 poems under the umbrella of love and its various shades. These 40 poems come from the pen of 4 poets as well, so they add their own hues to the poems.

How each reader reads and interprets poetry is different. Some might see depth in simplicity, some will see simplicity in depth. It's quite difficult to review poetry for this reason. If I were to pick up a few poems as favorite from this collection, it would be these...

Of Anuj Kumar's ten poems, I liked Jar of Hearts the best. The poem has the emotion of heartbreak penned down nicely. It's something that many would be able to relate to, I feel, even if the he and she in the poem were interchanged.

The poem titled Yes, I Will is my favorite from the poems penned by Maliny Mohan. The rhyme doesn't seem forced and the flow from line to line is beautiful, just like the happy emotions of love, one that seems forever, that that poem talks of.

Akash Deep Gupta's verses are longer than that of the other three poets. Yet the poem I like the best from his 10 verses would probably be his shortest. One Day portrays a love that remains the same no matter what changes. I liked that portrayal.

From Abhijeet Singh Yadav's poems, perhaps the one I remember is The Text. I leave you to read it interpret, but I thought it could be interpreted at least a couple of different ways.

I like the concept of the book. Love is an emotion that has both a good side and a bad one. And to split the book into poems that relate to both was quite nice. There are some things that didn't work from my perspective. The first is that there were missing letters from the poem titles. Perhaps I got a bad print, I'm not sure. Second, there wasn't a demarcation between the sections of each poet, so I didn't whose poem I was reading. Thirdly, some of the poems, the rhyme felt forced, or the words out of place. Apart from a few poems, I don't think there were poems that wowed me.

I liked the title of the book, and the cover art that went with that title well. And there were definitely few poems that I liked a lot. Like I said earlier, each reader interprets poetry differently, so I do feel the collection would appeal to other readers more than it did to me.


CreateSpace

A Perfect Murder and Other Stories, by S. R. Nair

11:16:00 PM



There’s a charm to short stories that novels may not always have. It expresses a tale in very few words, and to make sure no threads are left hanging is a challenge. I took this set of short stories as I felt that the collection would give me a welcome change from reading novels. The title A Perfect Murder also appealed to the crime fiction lover in me.

Perhaps it was the title, but I began reading with the assumption that it was a collection of short stories in the crime fiction genre (which is rare). The book has fourteen short stories, but they don’t stick to a particular genre. From the fourteen, there were few favorites, and there were stories that didn’t appeal to me as much.

My favorite story from the collection was iPad. The story is perhaps the shortest one in the book, but it ranks right at the top because of the emotional ending. That the ending was also quite unexpected only added to the quality of the piece.

Salma’s Fate is another story I liked. There might be a Salma we know or whose story we may have read in the news. But this story, thankfully, has a positive twist to it instead of a negative one.

The story Visa for America felt familiar, like I had read it before somewhere. But it ended unlike how I thought it would. The love story still had a chance for a happy ending, and I was thankful for that.

Other stories that I liked were The Soothsayer, The Grandson, and Seema.

The stories not only cover a variety of genres, but also many themes that are quite common to see. There’s a mother-in-law who wants a grandson, and doesn’t accept the granddaughter though she had daughters of her own too. There’s a man who divorces his wife over the phone because she went against his father. There’s a lovelorn man who still wants to be with the old “crush” even though he’s married. These are characters that seem familiar or real. The author puts each story across quite well.

I like stories that leave something to the imagination. But most of the stories here had an enormous amount of detail. Though that helped to bring the scene to life, it didn’t quite manage to engage me as a reader. The title story, I felt, was a bit too long (though a perfect murder would need planning, I suppose). There aren’t many twists either. You know what might happen, and more often than not, that happens.

I’d read the collection to enjoy some simple, almost realistic stories. It’s a one-time read, but not a quick read. I took longer than I thought I would to finish it. 

I thank the author for sending me a copy to peruse and review.

Aditya Iyenger

Palace of Assassins by Aditya Iyengar

12:54:00 AM

As Ashwatthama, the lone survivor of the Kaurava camp, slowly regains consciousness, he realizes, to his horror, that he has been condemned to a life of immortality and leprosy by Krishna, the mastermind behind his opponents’ victory. Burning with hatred for the Pandavas for killing his friend Duryodhana, and stricken
with anger at his own fate, he vows to seek revenge.

When he hears of an infallible gemstone that promises to restore his mortality and cure his leprosy – and allows him to exact vengeance – he is determined to go to any length to acquire it. But he finds himself facing an impossible choice, for his quest could result in the death of the woman he loves.



I had read and reviews Aditya's first book The thirteenth day and I had mentioned that this guy has a knack of spinning very realistic accounts from the mythologies. He has done the same with Ashwatthama this time. The book starts from the day after the war has ended  , the curse placed has taken effect and Ashwatthama lies alone in the desert to deal with his immortality and leprosy. What begins from here is a purely fictional yet quite interesting story of his revenge , love and the a lot of realizations of the aftermath of choices. By all accounts this one is a fast , engaging read with almost no flaws. As a lover of thriller / adventure I relished this one and it was rarely that I felt  I am reading a mythology book. 

Aditya's writing is taut , the story has good pace and twists and the characters well sketched. There is no moment that the story feels dull. I quite enjoyed the monologues that go on in Ashwatthama's head about his past and present , with a certain voice of sarcasm and wit thrown in. It is the kind of story and writing i expected from Aditya based on his first book. 

But this is totally fictional tale that has some refernece from Mahabharata makes it a little hard to love. If one expects the real , researched tale of Ashwatthama, one might be disappointed. If you treat it as just another fictional book , then the lead character needs a bit more flesh. At the end of the book , I had more sympathies with Ashwatthama but could not fully cheer for his victory either.

My Rating : 3.5/5

Buy the book here

Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

3:35:00 PM



The sleepwalker might appear slow in the beginning but somehow that works favorably for this story. There is dual narration though it is not clear till the end who is the second narrator.

This is a story of a mother and wife who disappears one night. She has a known history of sleepwalking hence everyone assumes she has walked out of the house that night and either got hurt or killed. The body surfaces after months of the actual incident and all the while the daughters and husband deal with the situation in their own ways , slowly unraveling and barely functional. The case is being worked by a detective who was a friend of the mother from her sleep clinic and now gets involved with the daughter.

The author has researched well about the disorder and various ways that the sleep disorders manifest in people. The way it affects the family is handled subtly in the narration. What I find very touching is the way out understanding and anger for our parents change as we know more and more about their life. I wished so many times that parents talked more or elaborated more but perhaps their instinct to protect us are too strong.

I was totally hooked to the book till I finished it. It was gripping , heart warming and surprisingly sad in its own way.

My rating : 4/5 

apocalypse

The Girl with all the gifts by M R Carey

11:47:00 PM



I rarely (can) read the books picked for group reading. Or even as part of challenge , I do not read out of my comfort zone genres. But something about this hooked me from the moment I read the blurb. The story is of a group of zombies ( who are basically in human kids bodies ) being kept together as prisoners in an experimental scientific base camp.

Meline is the brightest of this  set of zombies who adores one of her teacher like nothing else. She dreams of only being together with the teacher and to win her approval for everything she does. Life takes a turn when these both have to run for their survival along a few other casts.

The reason that the book surprises you is because it does not reveal the intent or history of the people who set the camp immediately. It takes time building the suspense and by then you are intrigued enough. The way Meline choses her upbringing over her natural instincts and proves to be an ally in this war zone is remarkable.

I totally enjoyed this book , even when the end seems a little dark.

My rating : 4/5

PS - I hear that the movie is very good too. 

bookish

The Shadows of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz

1:21:00 AM



This book is originally in Spanish , translated to english by Lucia Graves who has translated most of his works to english. I mention the translator since a messed up translation has ruined many a books. So this book is not just brilliant in its plot , it's writing , the intrigue and the characters but also that even in English, it has some amazing quotes and poetic , beautiful passages.

The story starts with a boy of 10 who picks the last book by an unknown author Julian Carax. Soon he comes to know little bit about the author's life and when some one wants to take the book away from him to destroy it, he wants to know why. As much as he is curious , he is also baited by men and destiny to go on a journey to find about Carax and to protect the last copy of his book. Soon he , his friends and his life gets tangled with people from Carax's life, concluding with both the lives almost a mirror to each. As it is said in the book , a reader mirrors what he reads and vice versa, it almost feels surreal and magical, this impossible tale of love and hatred.

Needless to say, I was hooked to this book within the first two chapters. It took me 3 days to read this book and I am thankful there was weekend that let me spend so much time reading. I felt like Daniel , trying to unravel this author and to know why some one hates him so much to destroy all his mentions and words. This was a brilliant tale with so many layers , human emotions and everything tied to beautifully in the end. Am amazed everytime I read of a story spanning generations and common folks with their own set of belief and fates so closely linked that it's no less than a sorcery to come up with such a web. This book is a similar web you will lose yourself gladly.

A must read for all book lovers.

My rating : 5 ⭐

Nimue

Unns by Sapan

12:30:00 PM



I liked the cover and the name , the moment  I saw this book. So , i immediately started reading this one , and the beginning was quite intriguing. I so much liked the childhood love talks and the sweet gestures and the way their story unfolds till the last day of school year. That was really well crafted and realistic writing. The chapter names are so unique , always a version of love, in ways we can not even imagine. But Atharva lives all these stages. Years later when they meet again , and the way Atharva handles his head and heart makes interesting read. There are layers that you see yet miss out when the things are flowing. And then the twist happens. Actually shit ( life ) happens.

So far so good , apart from such abrupt change of scenes. For this, I so much blamed the editor ( or lack ? ). When again after close to a decade , life brings them face to face , I expected a better closure to the story. Here the plot is a bit erratic. It is too plain and dull that I took 3 days to finish the last 50 pages of the book . There was no clarity in the ending. And it disappointed me a little.

Read this for some cute conversations and good strategic thinking added t9 the story.

My rating : 3/5 

cover reveal

#CoverReveal Les Just Not Be Only Friendz (1) – a novel by Vikash Sharma

9:00:00 PM

Les Just Not Be Only Friendz (1) – a novel by Vikash Sharma is set to have its digital launch on March 18, 2017. The paperback will be hitting the stores in the month of April.

About the book:
Les jus not be only friendz (1) is based on relationships and various phases of a graduate student’s life. The novel is set in Noida (NCR) in the time-period of 2009 - 2011.
The novel tells the story of a young, average performer and simple middle-class guy, who in desperate bid to not join his father's profession of selling mechanical spare parts in a small town, comes to Delhi after graduation to study in a Film school, hoping to make it big and become successful in a short time span. 
Aakash opts to stay with his old school friend Dhiru and his trouble making friends, who were perusing engineering from Noida. Before he could sink with the feel of Delhi NCR, he falls for a girl named Neha and finds him swept away by love and varied emotions. Dhiru does not like the progress in Aakash and Neha's blooming relationship and consistently tries to act as second fiddle.
In order to save his friendship with Dhiru and in seeking Neha’s love, Aakash goes through various troublesome phases, which test him over time and eventually changes him from a shy and simple person to a completely different kind.
Towards the end, in order to prove his true love to Neha, Aakash accidentally ends up doing something that he had never dreamed of. The incident terribly jeopardizes their relationship. Will they ever get back to each other? 



About the author:
Vikash Sharma was born in Haryana in 1987. He has travelled various states of India, to explore about the lives of people, places, languages, cultural differences, festivals, religions, and the rest.
He currently lives in Mumbai. He is a freelance writer, photographer, traveller, producer and a filmmaker. He believes in wandering, seeking happiness in small things, and sharing it with people.
‘Les just not be only Friendz (I)’ is his first novel. He is currently working on the second part of the trilogy of ‘Les just not be only Friendz.’
Read more about him here.

cover reveal

#CoverReveal Dangerous Games by Danielle Steel

1:08:00 PM

Danielle Steel has always helped cure my reading block. Anytime I am feeling unsure what to read and wether it will help my mood swings , I pick a good engaging fiction and Steel has never let me down . So when during the current busy times and no-reading phase of life , when I got the announcement email for her latest book, It was like a god-send sign. Here's what came in the mail today morning.




Synopsis : 
Television correspondent Alix Phillips dodges bullets and breaks rules to bring the most important news to the world. With her daughter in college, and working alongside cameraman Ben Chapman, an ex-Navy Seal, Alix exhilarates in the risks and whirlwind pace of her work. But her latest assignment puts her at the center of an explosive story that will reshape many lives, including her own: investigating damning allegations involving the vice president of the United States, Tony Clark.
Alix starts with a nationally revered woman who may be the key to exposing frightening secrets. Olympia Foster is the fragile, reclusive widow of America's most admired senator, who had been destined for the presidency before an assassin's bullet felled him. Since then, Olympia has found emotional support in Clark, who once wanted her as his wife and now stands as her protector and confidant. When Alix begins to dig deeper, federal agents pick up the trail. Then the threats begin.
As the stakes rise in this dangerous game, Alix needs Ben's help as never before. Soon they realize they are grappling with an adversary far more sinister than they had imagined . . .


Review to be posted next week

4 star

The house that spoke by Zuni Chopra

12:20:00 AM



The house that spoke has a beautiful cover and some how , I had an equally warm feeling as I opened the book. There is something very charming , very vintage feel to the whole setup of the house , how it is built and the magic that flows through it. A welcoming house set hidden from the world , there were so many childhood tales and scenes that filled my head and heart as I continued reading the initial chapters. That is perhaps the best thing about Zuni's writing - the way she describes the scene , any scene for that matter. She makes the place come alive in your head and you will feel like knowing it.

The story is of a magical house that is entrusted with keeping the darkness in check and assisting the appointed guardian in that quest. Generations of the family have spent their lives in saving the nation from the darkness and now finally it is on the soon-to-be-fifteen year old that this responsibility is going to fall, no choices given. It is a coming of age story of this girl and the house together as they adopt / adapt to her life and adventure.

The book let's you down in the end as it seems a little rushed and a little dry in sense of emotions and drama. Yet, it is a wonderful fantasy / YA book. This is perfect inspiration for any teenage girl and an entertaining read for all ages.

My rating : 4/5 

book review

Book Review: The BFG, by Roald Dahl

4:48:00 PM



When I read books that have been adapted into movies, inadvertently, I check to see if the movie is as good as the book. In the case of this one, the BFG by Roald Dahl, I felt the book held more promise than the movie (which is the case more often than not anyway).

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is a story about an orphan named Sophie who sees a giant during the witching hour. This leads the giant to capture her and take her to Giant Country, far away from the eyes of other human beings. This giant (BFG) lives in a cave, is the only friendly giant (who doesn't eat humans), is shorter than the other giants and thus oppressed by them. He also blows dreams into the ears of children. The book, you could say, is Sophie's adventure with the BFG, and how the two of them manage to tame the other giants and such.

I don't know about the movie, but I had fun reading the book. The funny language of the BFG (though one does need time to get used to it), his manner of talking or his giant ears, how friendly he is with Sophie... all that felt right for a children's book. It was also nice to read about some of the dreams. A couple of them felt familiar, so innocent, yet that's what we would have dreamt when we were children. I don't know how much I like the character of Sophie, or the other characters either. Some quotes in the book felt true, whereas others felt unnecessary to add to the humor that was already there.

Would I read it again? Maybe not. I would read other books from Dahl to see if they are better, or indeed, if this one felt great because it was the first time I read a Dahl book.

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R. No payment was taken for this review; these are the unbiased and uninfluenced thoughts of the reviewer about the book.

asian fiction

The Party Worker by Omar Shahid Hamid

12:25:00 AM

When a Jewish woman is killed on the steps of the Natural History Museum in New York, disparate lives are thrown together for one purpose: to bring about the downfall of the Don, the uncrowned king of Karachi.


The Party worker opened with a scene of betrayal and murder, kind of setting the tone for this book from the start. Written by a police officer based in Karachi , it was no surprise that he caught the true pulse of the city and its nuances so beautifully in the book. Even with so much death , apathy and unfair scenarios , there is a life to the city, a hope and certain character to the place that gives birth to this stroy.

The party Worker - Asad is gunned down on order by the very person whom he trusted to save him. He survives the shootout and thus opening the investigation into the Party he belonged and the founder / leader of the same - the Don.

The story moves to and fro between Karachi and Network ,between past and present , between opportunitists and the dumb followers. The life of Karachi is so closely shown that the Neywork pages appear dull. The story is fast paced and full of twists but it also lack a little depth . The change in characters is not fully explained. And my biggest problem was with the swears and the hinglish language. Some  places , it really was a turn off. some characters were kind of wasted in the book,specially the women characters. Overall this was a much enjoyable read.

My rating : 4/5 


4 stars

Book Review: Angry River by Ruskin Bond

4:26:00 PM


I love short stories. They are perfect to read after those heavy reads that take a lot out of me as a reader. On that front, I think Ruskin Bond’s books excel. I admire the author a lot for his simplicity. I found this book at the library and just the title alone made me wonder what it had in store.

Angry River shares the story of Sita, her small family consisting of her grandmother and grandfather, and their life on an island at the middle of the big river. The river floods when her grandparents aren’t around, leaving Sita in a dilemma.

The story, I feel, is one about hope and faith. Sita’s seemingly simple and happy life is disrupted by the flood, but the girl, who has grown up near the river and hearing of its tale from the grandparents, continues to be hopeful. She tries to survive, rather than get panicked. The story, on its face, is a simple one. There aren’t any unexpected twists and turns, and neither does the storyline call for one. It’s engaging in its brevity too. There are just four or five characters through the story, but the focus is the young girl and her struggle during the flood. Her innocence is well portrayed, as is the fact that the stories she has heard is from her grandmother. This in turn is reflected in her imagination. I remember the stories of Krishna, Sita and others from Indian mythology being shared with me by my grandmother as I was growing up. It’s the same with Sita, and that is something beautiful.

This book is a quick read, and a beautiful one. I would definitely read it again, even if just to take a break from the longer length stories/novels around.

Reviewed by Vinay Leo R. No payment was taken for this review; these are the unbiased and uninfluenced thoughts of the reviewer about the book.

memories

Earliest reading Memories

8:52:00 PM


As long as I can remember , I see my mother trying her best to drown us in books. she was so dedicated to this cause that the school librarian would allow her to get extra books for me and my sister for the summer vacation. Of course it did not really help us, since half of the books she picked were GK and science books. Nevertheless , we always were allowed to pick any story book from places we visited or from relatives home. And some how , that set me on the path to read a lot of Panchatantra , Nandan , champak etc.

Once ( and many more times ) my English teacher discovered me reading in the lunch break, she asked me to read English novels to improve my vocabulary. She suggested Famous five but after few books when I chanced upon Hardy boys, I was hooked. Frank Hardy , first literary crush ( and still a favorite ) made sure I finished the whole series within an year. By the time I finished school, I was done reading Hardy boys , Famous five , few goosebump books and not a single Nancy Drew ! I still have never read a Nancy Drew book. Oh , how could I forget that I read HP 1-4 books in the same time.



I kind of forgot reading while in first two years of college. In third year , one of my seniors left a book in my room one night and since she was gone for a week, I finished the book. Luckily she was an avid reader and would happily lend me her books once she read them. the only memorable book from that time is "Memoirs of a Giesha" which I should mention that I did not like it first. Many years later , when I started working , that year Harry Potter book#7 was released and It was the first HP book that I bought. Previous ones I read were borrowed from a friend or library , whenever I heard of them. HP#7 revived my reading interest and in the same year I read most of the popular fantasy fiction. The fact that there was a Strand book store within Infosys campus helped me pick one book every month and before long , I was reading one book per week. there are countless books that have kept  me awake all night and made sure I never reach office before 11 am. so many weekend plans have been ruined by me as I could not leave the book and hence was late to the party ( at times , never making to the party at all ).

About four years back , I started reviewing books and that has made me appreciate the hard work that goes into getting a book into reader's hearts so much. Even the bad ones deserve some respect for the fact that some one wrote those 100+ pages while I can not even write a proper review without much effort ! 

But most of all , books have made me connect to many wonderful people from all over the world. The stories , the characters , the places - real or fictional have captured my heart and soul every time I have picked a good book. The high that an awesome fantasy fiction series have given me is unparalleled so far. It isn't a surprise that books have been my first love from the time I formed any opinion about love and that is some thing even my life partner does not wish to compete. He though does wish I can quit my night reading habit so he can sleep peacefully :D

What is the earliest book memory you have ? Share with me in email or comments.

AA Freda

Goodbye Rudy Kazoody by AA Freda

12:22:00 AM



Without going into much details about the title character , I can say that this book sure hit the right spots for me. The story of a group of teenagers ,led and kept in line by Spike ,as told by his cousin Joey will make many of us think of our childhood and the age of crushes ,love , lust and mistakes.

The story set up in a time and place when lot of Italians emigrated to America. The story covers the friends , the families ,the issues of immigrants and the impact on the kids specially. Though Spike is the hero of the area, the guy who seem to get anything he sets out to get because of his hard work and virtues ,I loved Betty. She is the kind of person/ friend I feel I am. I liked the dynamics of their relationship from the beginning and the way each character is molded deserves appreciation. It is a story that covers all important topics but maybe that is where lies the problem. It is too detailed at places. Yet , it is engaging read.

My rating : 3.5 / 5 ( I took .5 away for the frustrating mystery about the title )

Quote-

Besides, Betty has to find a way to come to terms with herself. She has to realize just how great she is. It’s fine to be normal. You don’t have to be perfect; all people make mistakes. As soon as she recognizes that, you’ll see Betty in a brand new light, I promise you.”

Aliza Galkin

The fat man's monologue by Aliza Galkin-Smith

11:16:00 AM

A popular history lecturer realizes at mid-life that he is not accountable to anyone, and decides to pursue his great passions: food, women and human history. Traveling through northern Italy, Wales, Devon and other locations, he learns and writes about food and the colorful stories behind it. In a charming, funny and witty monologue, he touches on his cravings for food and women, with detours into history. 


First thing , as much this book feels like a memoir , I doubt this is actually one. But it is still such an entertaining and lovely read , specially if you have any passion for food or cooking. The book is in first person , the story of  a history professor whose interest apart from history is to eat and understand what his food is made of. This love for food makes him meet Aviram , an ex student whose journey was partly inspired by the professor's teaching. Together Aviram & the professor navigate various experiments in food - Aviram cooking them , professor eating and providing critical reviews of them which in turn lead to the beginning of a blog post on history and food of different times and regions.

What I realized reading the book was that we all have a similar association with food - based on phases and places in our life , food is always an integral part of the experiences, whether we realize or not. This book , in terms of the women he meets , also explores different diets and food habits without boring the reader much. Also , the journeys that the professor takes to explore history and food , makes one wish for similar travels and to wonder about the places he eats at. The book is really heart-warming , realistically funny tale of a guy who loves food , history and people who like food. It is a happy world he wants to stay and even his flaws make him lovable.


My rating : 3.5/5

The book is free for Kindle Unlimited users

Fantasy

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

10:35:00 AM


HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGONS
Book 1 of "Temeraire"

ISBN - 9780345481283
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2006
PAGES - 353 (Paperback)
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Del Rey

AUTHOR - Naomi Novik

SYNOPSIS - Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire

QUOTES - 

  • And we must still try or we would be leaving our friends to fight without us. I think this is what you have meant by duty, all along; I do understand, at least this much of it.
  • I am beginning to feel the need of a glass of wine to fortify myself against this conversation.
  • I should rather have you than a heap of gold, even if it were very comfortable to sleep on.
  • It seems to me that if you wish to apply laws to us, it were only reasonable to consult us on them, and from what you have read to me about Parliament, I do not think any dragons are invited to go there.


FL Speak -  Temeraire. 

Goodness, it's a tough word to pronounce, isn't it lads? 
(please try to read this in British accent as I'm pretending right now) 

Aah, where do I begin? It's love at first page. Dragons. There you go, mate. That's the magic word. Who doesn't love them? Eragon has one, Harry Potter rode one. The point being, we love them. Now this isn't Middle Earth or Narnia. It's London. And it's building up for a war against the French who are led none other than that arrogant bastard, Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Yes, my dear, it's alternate history. Wars are fought with battleships in the seas, military in the streets and... Yes, the aerial corps comprising of those awesome swashbuckling men and women riding atop those beautiful and deadly dragons. 

That's the setting. Our reluctant older hero finds an egg and before long the young hatchling has decided to bond with him. And as a proud citizen of England, he has no other choice but to report to duty. In this case, vigorous training for the duo. Book 1 was all about duty, those English manners of the 80's, friendship and learning. And in between there were betrayals and wars which is almost normal. Right? 

I can tell you that this is going to be a wonderful series if the later books are penned the same way. I simply love the crisp, simple writing. There's never been a need for additional flair to make a story more compelling. Naomi's greatest strength lies in the fact that her words make it believable. Of course it's complete sane to duel with swords atop a dragon hundreds of feet in the air. It's also sane to believe that Napoleon was a gigantic prick (who also has more dragons btw). Bad guys somehow always have the upper hand. 

DRAGONS.

Oh Naomi, you stole my nights.

RATING - 5/5

Fantasy

The Darkest Road - Guy Gavriel Kay

9:22:00 AM


THE DARKEST ROAD
Book 3 of "The Fionavar Tapestry"

ISBN - 9780451451804
FIRST PUBLISHED - 1992
PAGES - 448 (Paperback)
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Roc

AUTHOR - Guy Gavriel Kay

SYNOPSIS - And so the time of prophecy has come at last, the final days for those who dwell in Fionavar, first of all worlds. Even as the Unraveller's armies march to battle, even as his rain of death unleashes plague upon the lands, the ancient of powers to aid in their struggle.

QUOTES

  • All the roads are dark. Only at the end is there a hope of light.
  • Do you know the wish of your heart?


FL Speak - This is going to be a really, really short review. First things first, fuck you author. On to some more interesting stuff, the Darkest Road is actually a dark road for absolution, sacrifice and anything that is in the light. 

Goodness knows I wept like a 2yo throughout this book, I had goosebumps, laughed and was drunk on euphoria, tch tch'd on a few choices and I've lived my life in Fionavar with these characters. If you're expecting a great final battle between the forces of evil and light (like the 200-page epic finale of Wheel of Time), forget it. But the skirmishes till then. Oh, it saps your strength and gives your tear ducts some good massage. 

This is a grand, grand tale of how you do the best of what you're dealt with, how you always have a choice to follow your own heart, how you sacrifice yourself for others even though the heart of your life is awaiting your victory, how you stop being a tool to be used and how you never give up on the power of light. Love stories, friendships, ego clashes and understandings all come to head in this final book when the forces of light unite for one final time to rally against the dark. 

And the dark, and the dark has a weapon no one planned for. 

Scintillating stuff.

RATING - 4/5

Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

1:32:00 PM

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more? 

In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

I do not know when I left reading international fantasy fiction. This book was the Book of month  for December on the FB Broke bibliophile page and I think it was enough for me to make another dive into fantasy fiction. This is my first Brandon Sanderson book and if the genral opinion has to be trusted , it is not his best. I mean really ?? Çause for me , this was such a great read to end the year with.

The empire , the characters and the rules that govern the society were set up very elaborate and with a good logic to back it up. Once you understand it , you would feel like a part of it. Let me first talk about Vin , the central character who is not a born heroine , but rather comes to take her rightful place and direction in life after she is found by the troublemaker , the survivor of Hathsin ,  Kelsier. Kelsier has done some pretty unbelievable things already and yet , he thinks of the impossible this time - to overthrow the Lord Ruler.

Oh boy , Lord ruler is one of the few negative characters whom I loved. I would have so much liked to know more of him and yet the way he is shown in the book , it is awe-worthy.  he is ruthless , calm , patient and yet there is an air of indifference to him. One of my favorite scene is when he meets Kelsier in the end. And before I forget , i loved Elend more than Vin . He is the usual misfit sort of person who has a lot of ideas on how to run things. He is kind of man I would fall in love with easily and I did. There is charm and certain innocence to him that keeps you rooting for him even in the second book.

Kelsier, Vin and the crew together make for a fun filled adventure. There are elaborate tales , enchanting parties, lovable casts and courage that shines in every page. Fantasy fiction was what hooked me to books whenever my interest faltered. This book was a Savior. My reading slump of one month got cured with this. And how awesome !!

My rating : 5/5


“But you can't kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you've never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”

“I think given the choice between loving Mare - betrayal included - and never knowing her, I'd chose love. I risked, and I lost, but the risk was still worth it.” 

Read all reviews of this Triology  here

Fantasy

The Wandering Fire - Guy Gavriel Kay

10:42:00 AM


THE WANDERING FIRE
Book 2 of "The Fionavar Tapestry"

ISBN - 9780451458261
FIRST PUBLISHED - 201
PAGES - 375 (Paperback)
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Roc

AUTHOR - Guy Gavriel Kay

SYNOPSIS - The Wandering Fire is the second novel of Guy Gavriel Kay’s critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. A mage’s power has brought five university students from our world into a realm where an ancient evil has freed itself from captivity to wreak revenge on its enemies.

The ice of eternal winter has reached out to enshroud Fionavar, the first of all worlds. For the Unraveller has broken free after millennia enchained and now his terrible vengeance has begun to take its toll on mortals and immortals, mages and warriors, dwarves and the lios alfar, the Children of Light.

Only five men and women of our own world, brought by magic across the Tapestry of worlds to the very heart of the Weaver’s pattern, can hope to wake the allies they so desperately need. Yet none can foretell whether even these beings out of legend have the power to shatter the Unraveller’s icy grip of death upon the land


QUOTES - 

  • I am afraid to try for more light lest it mean more dark.
  • Unless the perfidious wolves have the temerity to disobey the High King's plans, we should meet Shalhassan's forces by the Latham in mid-wood with the wolves between us. If they aren't,' Diarmuid concluded, 'we blame anyone and everything except the plan.


FL Speak - 

Previously on the Fionavar Tapestry:
We have had our five main characters moulded in the world of Fionavar to be heroes, catalysts and guides. For better amd some specially for worse, they have returned home and now the plot thickens anew. 

This is that part of the tale where the pleasantries are dispatched off for there lies war ahead. Game faces on, folks. The ride just went up a notch. What we missed in the first book was a direction. There were so many situations occurring at any given time that it was not easy to grasp which ones to focus on. As it should be. Here, in this book, those are dealt with. 

There's more action, more wars, more sleeping with goddesses, sacrifices and a love triangle that's longer than Merlin's beard. There's also plots brewing, fires kindling, love blossoming, hopes blooming in the dark and terrible winter. 

Book 2 ended on a deeply satisfying note. If not for the deaths, it would have been quite a high. But there's nothing like death to wake you up to reality, is there?

RATING - 4/5

Fantasy

The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay

11:08:00 AM


THE SUMMER TREE
Book 1 of "The Fionavar Tapestry"

ISBN - 9780451458223
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2001
PAGES - 303
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Roc

AUTHOR - Guy Gavriel Kay

SYNOPSIS - The first volume in Guy Gavriel Kay’s stunning fantasy masterwork.

Five men and women find themselves flung into the magical land of Fionavar, First of all Worlds. They have been called there by the mage Loren Silvercloak, and quickly find themselves drawn into the complex tapestry of events. For Kim, Paul, Kevin, Jennifer and Dave all have their own part to play in the coming battle against the forces of evil led by the fallen god Rakoth Maugrim and his dark hordes.

Guy Gavriel Kay’s classic epic fantasy plays out on a truly grand scale, and has already been delighting fans of imaginative fiction for twenty years.

QUOTES - 

  • There are kinds of action, for good or ill, that lie so far outside the boundaries of normal behavior that they force us, in acknowledging that they have occurred, to restructure our own understanding of reality. We have to make room for them.
  • We salvage what we can, what truly matters to us, even at the gates of despair.
  • Alluding and attacking, summoning a courage, embodying a gallantry of defiance that hurt to see, it was so noble and so doomed.
  • One didn't stop to talk with creatures from one's nightmares.


FL Speak - There are books which draw you in with their huge cast of interesting characters and there are some whose magical systems leaves you speechless. There are books of war and death, of friendship and weasley brothers, of coming of age and well, of aged wizards (I'm looking at you Raymond Feist) 

And then there are books which are poetry in motion. Beautifully structured, gracefully written which deserves the recognition of being an art in the world of fantasy. This is one such tale. 

The first thing that comes to mind when you read this book is Dragons and Dungeons. The second thing would probably be Narnia or Harry Potter. But unlike the latter two, this isn't a world which exists within one nor you're as young as you'd like to be when you discover FIONAVAR. 

Summoned to a world between worlds and the balance of the entire cosmos lies in the hands and fates of five young people. Five people, completely different from each other, each with their personal issues. And in the world of Fionavar, bonds are broken before they can be made. This is a spectacular tale of black vs white vs grey. 

I love the way Guy Gavriel writes. He doesn't waste time in doling out words just for the sake of making it beautiful. Forget words, he skips out sentences and actions. Too often, I've found myself anticipating if something is going to happen only to turn the page and find oh well, it did. 

Book 1 ended with a dire warning. The gongs have sounded, the Gods have spoken and the darkness has spread forth. Will these 5 be the catalyst and where their paths lie is yet to be determined.

RATING - 4/5

Fantasy

Furies of Calderon - Jim Butcher

12:37:00 PM


Furies of Calderon
Book 1 of "Codex Alera"

ISBN - 9780441012688
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2005
PAGES - 503 (Paperback)
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Ace Paperback

AUTHOR - Jim Butcher

SYNOPSIS - For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies - elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal. But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir. Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon." "Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans' most savage enemy - the Marat - return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine." Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos - when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies - Amara will find Tavi's courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury - one that could turn the tides of war.

QUOTES - 

  • In for a sheep, in for a gargant.
  • Because a sound tree doesn’t have bad roots, Amara. No enterprise of greatness begins with treachery, with lying to the people who trust and love you.
  • The course of history is determined not by battles, by sieges, or usurpation, but by the individuals. The strongest army is, at its most basic level, a collection of individuals. Their decisions, their passions, their foolishness, and their dreams shape the years to come. If there is any lesson to be learned from history, it is that all too often the fate of armies, of cities, of entire realms rests upon the actions of one person's decision, good or bad, right or wrong, big or small, can unwittingly change the world. But history can be quite the slattern. One never knows who that person is, where he might be, or what decision he might male. It is almost enough to make me believe in destiny.


FL Speak - 

I've mixed views on this one. It ain't that I didn't like it, far from it. It's just that I am finding it a little difficult to jump from a Harry Dresden setting into a TolkiEn era.

So what do we have here?
Vast empire, political sabotage, special units, love and loyalty and a magic system that makes the use of Pokemons, or something like that. First things first, politics rule but is overshadowed by sheer action. Hello Tavi, one of the main characters who's furyless. That means, he can't do any special moves with Pokemons.

Almost everyone in the Empire has one or more furies. Furies are elemental. Earth, wind, wood, fire and whatnots. Each fury elemental is different and has different abilites. Fury crafting of earth summons an earth animal/giant/pokemon. Firecrafting plays with emotions, watercrafting lets you control the water and use it mainly for healing purposes. Blah Blah Blah.

And then there's Tavi, without a spark of fury in his blood. And Amarra, who's a Cursor and a windcrafter. Cursors are the elite special forces of the realm. More like Aurors, only way cooler. You need to read this one. ASAP.

Back to the book then. Furies of Calderon is an apt title for the war in Calderon Valley. Months of planning and scheming, a fearful enemy force and the might of the will clash at this iconic valley. The war scenes are gory, as they ought to be. Jim Butcher doesn't shy away from deaths and barbaric rituals. Furies of Calderon transported me to a world where I wanted to root for the underdog despite knowing that it might not be the best. For my heart and the Realm.

For any fantasy series, foreshadowing is a vital element. Some half-truths, some whispers in the dark and a lot of missing information made sure I picked up the second book. There is love in the air and fear in the wind.

I'm loving it. 

RATING - 4/5

inspirational

#BookReview : The five people you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

9:52:00 PM

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer. 





Another year , I have stuck to the ritual of starting the year with Mitch Albom . Unlike other years , I picked the one , I had not read before  - The five people you meet in heaven. All these years , I avoided this book thinking that this would be about people from the central character's life and would not mean that much for me. Perhaps I doubted Mitch Albom is his brilliance , in his magical lessons and making each story valuable to the reader.

This year , I learned about sacrifice and choice ; how every action of ours is linked to even people we do not meet ever in our lifetime. I learned of forgiving the loved ones for their actions, no matter how much it hurt. Most times , there always is their version of love and care that remains unexpressed in all the silence. I felt at peace reading the story of Eddie , like it gave some meaning to reading , to my life at the moment and to my hopes for myself.

This is a beautiful story and I think we all can have some take away from the people Eddie meets.

Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.” 

“The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” 

My rating : 5/5

british

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

10:00:00 AM


NEVERWHERE

ISBN - 9780060557812
FIRST PUBLISHED - 1996
PAGES - 370 (Paperback)
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHER - William Morrow

AUTHOR - Neil Gaiman

SYNOPSIS - Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

QUOTES - 

  • You've a good heart. Sometimes that's enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it's not.
  • I have always felt that violence was the last refuge of the incompetent, and empty threats the last sanctuary of the terminally inept.
  • So the day became one of waiting, which was, he knew, a sin: moments were to be experienced; waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come and the moments one was currently disregarding. 
  • So many things to see, people to do.
  • Can't make an omelette without killing a few people.


FL Speak - 

This was my first Gaiman book and truth to be told, I'd need to read a few more of his before I join his exclusive cult.

Neverwhere is a pretty straightforward story. Anyone who says otherwise needs to read more books. God gave Gaiman an idea and he turned it into Alice in Wonderland. Although, I'd say I liked Alice more. Richard, our protagonist and odd hero, really got on my nerves. I got dead tired of his whining and wondered if I should simply skim his parts. Well, as it turned out, he's almost in ALL the pages. That pansy, crybaby!

Enough of that. Neverwhere introduces you to London Below. A shady place beneath the roads of London where time works differently. London Below is not a place of evil, however you'd find all sorts of people and things (yes, I said things) living in the dark. It also has some fantastic places, like a Floating Market which never opens at the same place again. And then, there are metro stations that actually live up to their name. Earl's court is actually a court and Angel station is (no points for guessing it)

By far, the strength of this book lies not in the plot (which was completely obvious), neither in the god awful humour. It lies solely on the characters. Gaiman has done some wonderful magic on the characters and they shine throughout the book. Except for Richard, of course. Door is good, the twins who look nothing at all like are better but Hunter and de Carabas are the real ones you should read about. They steaaaal the show. I really wanted/wished for one of them to kill Richard and proceed on with the story. That would've been so much better.

So we have a Gaiman book, world building which is fantastic, a plot which is extremely predictable and characters you'd hate to love and vice versa. So what's missing? I'll tell you what's missing. The finale is missing. The answers are missing. The whys and hows are missing. The ending was a gigantic piece of shit. It's like Gaiman got tired of writing the book and suddenly had to be somewhere else. So all we got is a haphazard finale without tying it off. You ask me, what's not tied off? Read the book sweetheart. If you finish it, we can go through Q&A later.

I'd really want to read another book with Hunter or De Carabas in it. Or even Door. Just to placate my curious mind about the shitstorm this ending left behind.

RATING - 3/5

Claire North

The Sudden Appearance of Hope - Claire North

11:34:00 AM


The Sudden Appearance of Hope

ISBN - 9780316335997
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2016
PAGES - 468
GENRE - Fiction
PUBLISHERS - Hachette

AUTHOR - Claire North

SYNOPSIS - Listen.
All the world forgets me. First my face, then my voice, then the consequences of my deeds.
So listen. Remember me.

My name is Hope Arden, and you won't know who I am. We've met before - a thousand times. But I am the girl the world forgets.

It started when I was sixteen years old. A slow declining, an isolation, one piece at a time.

A father forgetting to drive me to school. A mother setting the table for three, not four. A teacher who forgets to chase my missing homework. A friend who looks straight through me and sees a stranger.

No matter what I do, the words I say, the people I hurt, the crimes I commit - you will never remember who I am.

That makes my life tricky. But it also makes me dangerous . . .

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is the tale of the girl no one remembers. But this gripping story – of love and loss, of hope and despair, of living in the moment and dying to leave a mark – is novel that will stay with you forever.

QUOTES - 

  • When you are alone, even the quiet is full of monsters.
  • He who is silent is seen to consent.
  • The world is boiled down to aphorisms and fairy tales.
  • They are . . .in their own, unspectacular way, to which no ballads are written or songs sung, in a domestic, daily, life-being-lived way,. . . happy.


FL Speak - I love Claire North. Have I mentioned it before? It should be written on stone. Her books her gold. Solid.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is an interesting read. But Claire did refine her writing in the previous books. What do you do when someone forgets you the moment they look away? Now that's a gift I'd ask my Santa for. In reality, though, you'd be lonely as hell.

But oh the possibilities of crime and one night stands!

What starts as a pretty beginning for a petty thief soon turned out to be a worldwide hunt for revenge and self-discovery. I loved the character of Hope Arden. In a world, where time stops for none, it stopped for her. This is a helluva tale of a single girl taking on a behemoth, making the wrong decisions, changing her life, schooling herself in discipline and above all, find a place for herself.

This is the first fiction novel where I came upon the darknet. I'm pretty sure other books cover it too but I haven't read those yet. If you do not know what the darknet is, google it and possibly stay away. I came upon darknet a couple of years ago when I was researching on some illegal ideas. Nevertheless, the dark web is free for you to wander through. But be assured, that you are being monitored. I digress.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope is a beautiful story of a girl who is capable of immeasurable things. 

RATING - 4/5

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