Indian fiction

#Review: Twice Blessed by Rani Ramakrishnan

7:03:00 PM

Twice Blessed Twice Blessed by Rani Ramakrishnan
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


Twice blessed is a story of a suicide and the events leading to It explored layer by layer later. Its not the reasons of the suicide that matter 8n the end but how to convict the people responsible. While it deals with a sensitive issue , the author has managed to highlight other issues like caste , prejudice , education etc in the story line. I loved the central characters and the way the author picked a urban cool Muslim family. That was fresh characterization. The book is neither slow or too fast. It allows time to read and reflect on lot of things. No event is dramatized or feels forced while the story progresses.

 It has all the markings of a good thriller but fell a little flat in the end and how some of the characters evolved in the story. I will definitely try another book by the author.

View all my reviews

crime fiction

Review: Return of the Trojan Horse Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey

1:10:00 PM

Return of the Trojan Horse Tales of Criminal Investigation Return of the Trojan Horse Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey
My rating:  3 of 5 stars

This is a semi-fictional version of some of the real cases handled by the author , helping the police in solving crime. And it show cases not just the intelligence but also the emotional involvement of the security forces in managing this huge tasks. The risks, the uncertainty and the patience it takes for solving any crime does not come without disappointments and frustration. In that sense, this is a good book to read and to reflect on the fact that there are some honest dedicated people in police and otherwise who care about others security and safety.

 The book falters in the storytelling aspect. As in you feel it is a little flat in places. The dialogues do not have a punch. Basically it lacks some editing. I would still want to read more from the author about his work. This book was enlightening.

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indian crime fiction

#Review: Unlawful Justice by Vish Dhamija

9:43:00 AM

Unlawful Justice Unlawful Justice by Vish Dhamija
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I discovered Vish Dhamija books on Kindle Unlimited and I was intrigued by the blurb. The writing and the thrill of the stories made me read three of his books in succession. So when this book came out , I had already decided to buy the paperback. Luckily, writermelon sent this to me for review.

A quick , super engaging book that highlights a lot that goes unpunished and unnoticed in the society till some one stands up and say , enough. This is a book that start predictable but by the middle it just takes a turn that makes you sit straight and pay more attention. I wish the court scenes were a little more and the lawyers matched in capabilities. The drama leading to the court was done well though.  Typical Vish Dhamija book ! Enjoyed this one a lot as I raced to reach the climax.

Having said that , do check his previous works as I find them a little better than this one.

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Booker Prize

#Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

12:20:00 PM

Exit West Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exit West starts like any book about wars raging in the region. A guy meets a girl ,who are totally opposite to each other and that's how they get attracted and start being with each other. The love story you know might be doomed soon , but it survives as unexpected events brings the girl into the house where the guy stays with his parents. When they migrate using the doors that connect one country to another and appear randomly in the country. And then you realize that this is not just their story but of how the whole world is changing and getting used to the same. There are similar stories playing out all over the world and soon it becomes evident how it all is connected.

 There are worlds that are alike the present and yet so unlike ,but humans always stay same and yet changing. This is a story of changing worlds , changing human bonds and the similar search for love , home and rhythm of life. Its nit just a story but an observation of way of life - of love evolving into respect, comfort and finding home. This book is a beauty to treasure while it lasts.

View all my reviews

Indian fiction

#Review: The Tree with a Thousand Apples by Sanchit Gupta

8:28:00 PM

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


This is my first book that is based on kashmir , the events surrounding the kashmiri pandits leaving the valley and what followed or follows that year till today. Deewan , Bilal and Safeena are best friends and neighbours as kids even though Dewana is an year older than the two. One night , Diwan bhat's family is forced to flee the city after attacks on the city by the people wanting azadi for Kashmir. The tragedy that marks a turn of events in all three families ties them till the end even when they stay out of touch for years. The other characters keep reappearing the timeline and that pushes the plot and the character development forward in the book.

This is a story of not just people who stayed , but also of those who fled and yet are still without roots and a home and doubts where they belong. The book is a little dreamy at places , the passages go on without a real need and the memories keep flashing here and there. Also the main characters are not consistent in their actions. I would have liked a little less side plots and more about them. The book has almost poetic feel but it is not easy to maintain the flow in reading. A good story that could be told a little better.

  View all my reviews on Goodreads

mother and kids

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

12:32:00 PM

Translated by Megan McDowell


Translated from Spanish into english, this book was short listed for Man Booker International Prize this year. This is a story that is part narrated by a lady lying in the hospital , aware of the approaching death and directed into recounting her recent past by the conversation between her and a child.

The story unwraps slowly and with a visual clarity that few other prose attempt, even though you can feel the chill in every scene that is played in her head by Amanda. There is something so eerie to go through the events and realization that nothing in them could stop whatever is to happen or whatever happened. The calm yet hurried questions by David are like darts in the dark , that lead to only more questions and unexplained answers.

One thing that I kept hoping was this to be a nightmare , but this was so real and so haunting that I think I need a repeat reading of the book to see it's true color and depth. It's heart breaking to see David try hard to find the cause and cure for whatever happened to him and in his own way , he tried to help Amanda in her last wish. But sometimes our own denial of the reality , blocks our understanding.

This book is a gripping tale of mother's love ,sacrifice and secrets kept by her.

Loved this read of 190 pages.

My rating - 4/5 

James Patterson

Ultra-short Notes on James Patterson's 'The Thomas Berryman Number'

8:47:00 AM


               I am no fan of James Patterson.I have read a couple of his books before and  found them to be totally mediocre.Picked up this book as I was told that this had won him the Edgar award for the best debut (way back in the 70s). May be at that point of time, people might have enjoyed reading this work ,but for a reader like me who belongs to a different era , the book was not at all relatable.With a confusing and snail paced plot,this debut work about a hitman and his escapades is at best left untouched.

-nikhimenon

Favefive

#Favefive Lines from Literature

10:14:00 AM



For a person surrounded by books , it's so so hard to not keep quoting or picking inspiration from the written word. And while HP is my go to place for advice of all kind , here are the 5 lines that have become a part of me -

Blessed be 

Two words , a simple wish and ironically it was from a character that turned out to be the evil one. Much later I realized that it's a Wiccan phrase that it is not used casually. But for about the period I was obsessed with House of Night , I had loved this phrase of wishing good to the people.


For you a thousand times over 

I have still not read the book and though I knew this line from before ,what made this special for me is that during a low phase if mine , A friend had kept this as his whatsapp status , dedicated to me. And he still means this. So this line is super super special.

People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose. 


This is from the book The Little Prince , in which every page has something to highlight and keep. Most of the book is about friendship and being true to your heart. But this line for me is the reason and excuse never to leave friends behind. You are responsible for the rose you help grow once.

Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else 

Oh how I love Mitch Albom books. There is not a single year now that I do not read his books and every once in a while I keep going back to my favorite quotes. This is from the book Five people you meet in heaven which changed my thoughts on life. We all have been living with other's sacrifices ,mostly unrelated and unknown to us. And that is something not be taken lightly. This life is not to be wasted feeling lonely.


That feeling in your heart: it’s called mono no aware. It is a sense of the transience of all things in life. The sun, the dandelion, the cicada, the Hammer, and all of us: we are all subject to the equations of James Clerk Maxwell, and we are all ephemeral patterns destined to eventually fade, whether in a second or an eon. 


Only Ken Liu can write science fiction with such a beauty that it never feels fictional. Every story of his manages to touch the heart and make you aware of your relationships, your life , your purpose with a force that you are completely caught up in his words. This year I finally managed to read his story collection after I read the story The paper Menagerie online. Do try if you have not read his work so far.


That's all the beauties I could think of introducing you to for now. Do share your favorite quote with me in comments.

More quotes to be read here -


adaptations

Books to movie / TV series adaptation

6:16:00 PM

I am 3 days late in posting this but with my love for making list and books combined in one , I can not resist writing this.



So , very quickly here are my favorite book adaptations -

To kill A mocking Bird - I saw this movie before I read the book. Then , I watched it again. And I love it. The court scenes are so amazingly done that I am a little more in love with this award winning movie from 1962.

Harry Potter - I am biased af when it comes to HP. No doubt the books are better, but seeing your favorite characters on scree and watching them again and again over the years kinda blur the lines. So yes , olive these movies. And if I have to pick , then Goblet of fire is my choice among all.

Byomkesh Bakshi - I first saw the hindi series in DD when I was a child. Man, I was impressed with the detective character. One of the episode gave me bad nightmare I remember , but thank God I was always rescued by Byomkesh babu. Years later I read the books and then there is the recent hindi movie starring Sushant Rajput. He looks so so good in this. The movie takes time to interest the audience but is brilliantly done. I can't wait for the sequel.

Sherlock Holmes - If you think am drooling over Cumberbatch, you maybe be right. But in the adaptations , I actually enjoy the lady Watson a lot more. And yes , I prefer the modernized series over the movies starring Robert Dawney Jr. I am sher-locked !

Orange is the new Black - I read the book like a religious book nerd and then I started the show. The show is way way better than the book. It is absolutely badass and such a wonderfully scripted thing. The way it has handled the latest issues in the show , it's a must watch for all.

That's all for me this week. Hopefully the next post be on time. And if you need more options to explore , go read below posts too -



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Devi Yesodharan

Review: Empire by Devi Yesodharan

8:58:00 AM

Empire Empire by Devi Yesodharan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am getting hooked to historical fiction genre , all thanks to books like Empire. Empire is the story of the Chola king who expanded his empire to cover all of the eastern coastline and reached to other countries too. The book takes that as the historical period and narrates the events in life of Yavani , a Greek female soldier given to the Chola king as terms of peace treaty. That's how her training begins as a Chola soldier. It is the story how she becomes the royal garud of the king and her duties. From the very first chapter till the last scene , the author left no emotion unexplored , no character like lose end , no scene without context. I specially liked the way the street scenes and the events were like visuals I could easily imagine. The language is so simple and detailed and the little nuisances of the central characters are etched in details. The end though, was a little abrupt and I felt incomplete , as in i wanted a welcome for Yavani, what happened to the traitors on land etc etc . But overall, the book was spot on with its emotional connect.

I have not researched the historical accuracy much so people who have interest in history should read it without a bias. Enjoy the story of a woman soldier trying to fit in a foreign land and a profession that she is envied for by even men.

View all my goodread reviews

General/Indian Fiction

Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

10:00:00 PM



Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala


 The reason i like to read mythological fiction is that it gives me a chance to know of the stories that are not popular and hence are not narrated or passed to our generations. Even if the stories are fictionalized or mixed with other tales from that time / era , it is still another addition to my knowledge of stories of the ancient India. 

Avishi is story of the girl , destined for great things in her  life and so is rescued by foresight of great Maharishi Vahini who silently guards and guides everyone onto their paths.  After the death of her father , Avishi is brought up in the ashram of Naimisha , the learning center and center of dharma in the enchanted forest. There she becomes a warrior and when time comes , she sets out to fulfill her destiny and her duty to the kingdom where she was born. she was after all, to be the queen. What is most remarkable part of this narrative is how the author has added other aspect of the life of those times. I would not want to give spoilers or mention some of the research areas but be assured that you will learn a lot about the evolution of society and knowledge while reading this book. 

The references mentioned in the end  of the book are an indication how well thought and crafted this book is. Apart from telling the story of Avishi , it is a book that has some important lessons to offer in terms of leadership and keeping a community close. Much thought was given to the conversations and the strategic part of the story.

And now to the flaws , i totally disliked the story arc of Avishi's mate Satya in the middle of the book. Also , his character , though him being a genius with herbs was not much likeable. Plus the climax was a little stretched out and after reading the book , you would expect better fight scene. That scene looked unreal to me , unlike the rest of the story.

But this is just me having high expectation from the author perhaps ;) 

My rating : 4/5

General/Indian Fiction

What Kitty did by Trisha Bora

5:03:00 PM



Kitty , whose real name i almost missed in the book unless i realized , she was Ketaki ( i thought she was trying to give a false name :|) is the only daughter of a successful creative lady and an adorably dotting dad who is a professor. With some amazing friends , roommate , ex-bf , and a current love interest , this story is a fun read for most parts. Reading Kitty's survival and mis-adventures across different Delhi parts gives the reader a good idea of this city - both the high and low of it . Since, I am from the city and having seen most of it , the stuff was a little cliched but endearing in its own way. More than that , I loved the way Kitty has a thing to say for everyone and mostly herself. She is not too flattering about anyone , but in a real sort of way , her dialogues and reactions were witty and spot on. Also, I had a little issue with the way she wasn't a responsible person when drunk , nor her friends too keen to address that any time or be aware of it. That felt unlike friends.

What Kitty Did , though appears to be a thriller from the blurb , the thriller part is actually the reason this book falls a little short of the wow factor.The whole cast and plot for the mystery section of the book looks incomplete and hurried. the multitude of  characters do not allow even one of them to be explored and presented in detail - not even the victim. Why Kitty gets involved in it , might be understood but how she figures it all out and why the murder happened , is still not too clear to me.

The writing is fresh , breezy and definitely honest. The book, has some real good observations and quotes on life and friends , my favorite being-

What you need in life is a set of friends. Loyal as dogs, frothing-at-the-mough-to-stic-up-for-you friends. Without that , you're a goner.

My rating : 3.5/5

book siblings

#FaveFive – Book Siblings

11:50:00 AM

Till I graduated from college ,I never had a much meaningful bond with my siblings. Or perhaps I never thought much about it. But that did not avoid me developing a notion of how the bond should be or could be ideally. And that was partially due to the below book siblings I adored and loved -

1. Hardy Boys - I have had a huge crush on Frank Hardy since forever but together with Joe , this sibling pair made me fall in love with reading. I can still read any if their books anytime and hope to actually gather the whole collection some day.

2. Little Women - This book is my bible into adulthood and growing up, I had a lot of inspiration from March sisters. Each one if them has her won charm and character and a way to live but how to complement each other is what they do best. And I loved that.  It taught me to be acceptable of my flaws and of people around me , and rather focus on the good in them

3. The Famous five - The four characters always were considered as one set of siblings by me. I discovered this series when I was in college but I have enjoyed the adventures and the settings samuchit as a kid. I loved Anne , the planner and caretaker sort of personal arched totally with mine.How I wish I could go on a picnic like these kids and have the summer vacations once again.

4. And the mountains echoed - This was my first Hosseini book and oh boy,it broke my heart when Abdullah is separated from his sister Pari. The way he feels her absence and the climax when they meet again ,while Abdullah has no memory left of her ,it made me shed a few years. This sibling pair will always be fresh in my mind.

5. The thirteenth tale - I am suddenly reminded of this book since I recommended it to some one recently. If you have not read this book, you MUST. It's a story of two sisters living in a farm and how tragedy strikes one of them. The other becomes a famous writer whose life is a big mystery to all. This book gave me the creeps and is so hauntingly narrated.


Of course I had wanted to add the Weasly brothers here , but I think you all already love them .

Ashok Banker

#CoverReveal AWAKEN by Ashok Banker

1:38:00 AM

THE SHAKTI TRILOGY BOOK I



Gods of war was the first book I read by Ashok Banker. That time I was not even aware of the fantasy / mythology genre. I loved the boom a lot and since ,I have not missed any of the paperback that came out. I also have the subscription tonsite that am yet to use ( Must check if it's still working)


The Haters are coming to destroy all life on Earth. It is not a question of if, but when. 

The Brahmaand has already rung the warning bell and the awakening of the Preservers has begun.



First in the thrilling Shakti Trilogy set in contemporary India, Ashok Banker’s action-packed and brilliantly imagined Awaken introduces our unlikely heroes who must discover and harness their superpowers before they can protect and preserve the Earth from the wrath of a menacing alien invasion.

Ashok Banker is the internationally acclaimed author of over sixty published books which have sold over three million copies in twenty-one languages and sixty-one countries. He has been credited as the pioneer of Indian crime fiction in English and with launching the genre of mythological retellings, India’s biggest-selling publishing category.

Awaken is the first book in the Shakti Trilogy.  The Shakti Trilogy continues with Book II ASSEMBLE (November 2017) and Book III ARISE (January 2018).


  Pre-order your copy here 

releasedayblitz

Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer #ReleaseDayBlitz #Exceprt

3:34:00 PM




Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?


Read an Excerpt

“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”
“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard. 
“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.
Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child. 
“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded. 
Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out. 
The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them. 
As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead. 
General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”
“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door. 
“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised. 
The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy. 
“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”
“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”
“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm. 
The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”
.
.

He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him. 
That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life. 
At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved. 
The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.
 “K... King...”
“Finish him!” The General shout behind him.


About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. 





Fiction

The Sacred Sword by Hindol Sengupta

12:32:00 AM



This is the second book of Hindol Sengupta that I read and he is becoming a name to recommend for all mythology lovers.

This story is of course a fictionalized version of the last guru of Sikhs,Guru Govind Singh but it is a remarkably inspiring and awe worthy account. His life has great many lessons to learn from and more than that ,the conviction he showed in uniting the clan and fighting the Mughal on behalf of all is a story I was unaware of.

Hindol has beautifully added the poetry - Punjabi and Englisher both into this narrative . It also helps that Sikhism and the beginning of the khalsa was and has never been a fight for religious supremacy but of freedom from one such dular who wanted to convert all to his religion.

This book is a good way to know our traditions , the heroes and the sacrifice so many made to keep us a free community centuries ago. It is time to revive those lessons and this book does that job well. Even treating as fiction, the story hooks you right from the start.

Quite enjoyable read with a few unnecessary scenes probably.

My rating : 4/5



Anthology

Love,Murder & Mayhem

4:34:00 PM

- Cosmic tales of the heart gone deadly wrong
I have had very rigid mindset about sci-fic and have avoided it mostly. Perhaps over the years , we have crossed a lot of boundaries that were once considered fictional. This book came at such a tone when I was willing to try new genre and ideas. Even without that , I suppose I would have loved this book.

The stories are not just about aliens or machines but about superheros , the other early species , the humans and the feelings that all these share. There are tales of co-existence , of battles , of covert operations , gossip magazines and the extra ordinary plot twists. My favorite story is about an old robot that surrenders herself when her master's son does in an accident. Another story I enjoyed a lot is of a superhero mom and her husband trying to keep her work a secret while managing 3 kids. There is a certain relatable touch to all the stories -  the human touch and the accidental hum like emotional reactions.

This book was a lovely ride. And the one that totally broke my break from reading. Do try this one.

My rating : 4/5

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 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