contemporary fiction

Review: Goodbye Freddie Mercury

11:15:00 AM

Goodbye Freddie Mercury Goodbye Freddie Mercury by Nadia Akbar
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars



Goodbye Freddie Mercury is sort of coming to senses kind of book. The story narrates the life and thoughts of a section of people living in Lahore with a backdrop setting of the general elections and a new leader emerging. Lahore comes to life in the book and the author has a nostalgic and affectionate way of writing about the life in Lahore and it's various streets and cultural nuances. Thats a delight to read and you feel that city is what rules the story among all the cast and characters. And that is what really keeps the book moving for me. There is a RJ Bugsy who gets involved in politics against his wishes , his friends Omer & Aliya who are on top of the social circles of Lahore and define most of his relationships , the who's who of Urban Lahore politics and military section and then there is the girl Nida who gets involved in this chaos of living this life without a direction or care and it is never a happy ending for all.

 I liked the characters and the conversations. It was almost surreal at times ,making you pause and think back of your youth or look into the futility of all this, but the overall story left me wanting for more , a closure maybe. In the end , all relationships seemed to have no beginning or end,even those that are central to this storyline. The blurb promises some anguish, but there is none or some but masked in alcohol and smoke. The book is entertaining , the lives and the narration of the book almost like one of your own relative's tale and there is a lot of heart and hurt in the book.I enjoyed the wonderful music mentioned in the story and felt the hope to break free of the society one day and be above all this. But only few are able to do it and they are what become legends to be written about and be inspired from, like this book.

View all my reviews

Joel Dicker

Book Review: The 'Truth about Harry Quebert Affair' by Joel Dicker

12:00:00 AM

           
                  The 'Truth about Harry Quebert Affair' by Joel Dicker is undoubtedly one of the most gripping and satisfying books that I have read in the recent past. Though the book is quite lengthy (and often has the pretensions of a literary read) with about 600+ pages, itsn't a drag. Infact, I enjoyed it much more than many of that crime thrillers which went on to become 'international best-sellers'!

                 The book is set in a coastal New Hampshire town ( Somerset). The protagonist, Marcus Goldman, has had a super successful novel and is desperately in need of inspiration for his his next book. He goes to meet his college professor, Harry Quebert,whom he considers as his fatherly figure and also tries to focus on his writing and re-invent himself. But when the body of (the then) fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is found 33 years after she went missing and Quebert is accused of her murder, Marcus works to unravel the mystery behind the crime . How Marcus finds out the truth and what happens to his new novel in the due course of the investigation is what this 'big' book is all about.

                Part guru-shishya story, part murder mystery- love triangle, this is the kind of the book that has something in it for everyone. I liked the way Joel Dicker narrated the story with bits about creative writing thrown in between.The setting is quite fresh and there are twists and turns happening at regular intervals. Infact, as I mentioned before, I found find this book more racy and thrilling than any of those books that have come out of the 'pages-turn-by-themselves' Patterson factory.

Verdict: Must Read! I'm giving it a out of 5.

-nikhimenon

crime thriller

Tell No One by Harlan Coben

10:03:00 AM


'Tell No One' reads more like Sidney Sheldon than Harlan Coban . Elizabeth Beck was murdered a good 8 years ago and her husband Dr David Beck has never been able to get over the gruesome incident which happened almost a decade back.Suddenly,a mysterious e-mail lands up in his e-mail and soon, David realizes that his past is back to haunt him once again. With twists and turns happening at regular intervals,'Tell No One' is an absolute page turner!
The 2006 French Thriller was based on this book.

-nikhimenon

crime thriller

Book Review: Coffee House by Lajo Jose

10:00:00 PM


                   
                 
                   Lajo Jose’s Coffee House is a work which aspires to be a new-age crime novel but unfortunately is  heavily influenced by the S.N. Swamy –K Madhu movies of the 90s. (Infact the basic thread itself - of the convicted killer opening up about his innocence a few days before his execution, reminded me of the third film in the CBI series)

                  Benjamin is convicted for multiple homicides and is awaiting execution. A few days before his execution he expresses desire to meet the journalist (Esther) who has been instrumental in his conviction and wants to convince the world of his innocence. Esther who works with a leading Malayalam Magazine, 'Kuleena' (modelled on 'Vanitha' and the Malayala Manorama group) half- heartedly accepts the invite and decides to 're-investigate' the case. How she manages to solve the puzzle and clear Benjamin's name of the murder/murders is what 'CH' is all about.Also aiding her in her journey are Peter Achan ,Sub Inspector Chris and Aparna, the scribe's colleague and best-friend.

                First things first.This debut novel is undoubtedly a quick and easy read (no long, boring prose or pretentious metaphors thrown in just for the sake of it).Even an occassional/newbie reader can finish it off in a couple of hours. Quality work of crime fiction is a rare thing as far as new age Malayalam writing is concerned and hats off to Lijo for trying to revive a long lost genre! As mentioned before, the writing is straight forward, the language used being simple and easy to comprehend even for the lay reader. Lajo also makes some interesting remarks about Kottayam town and pretty much succeeds in making this central Kerala town also a part of the narrative. 

              However the book is not devoid of flaws either. For an ambitious new-age crime thriller, Coffee House is tad too slow and the identity of the true killer is predictable quite early on. A lot of time (and 'pages') are spent on the pointless (and often cringe worthy) banter between Esther and her close buddy Aparna. Believe me, Aparna's ('Amma package') is definitely one of the most annoying characters I have come across (read) in recent times.  

              The characters are too shallow and none of them have been well etched out. There is a passing mention about Benjamin’s family but the author hasn’t really bothered to elaborate on his back story. As a result, the reader never gets to empathise for him. The same lack of detail is evident in the case of Esther’s characterization. Okay, we get to know that she has a liking for a pretty upmarket café in kottayam town (Tonico Café), but apart from that, what does she like actually? And what about her family? The less said about the shaky characterization of Chris (the cop), the better-  the guy seems to be in a very bad mood when we are first introduced to him (and seems to be only interested in settling scores with his bête noire , Esther )  but pretty soon , he is seeing hobnobbing with her and helping with the investigation!- His transformation and change of heart (remember the scribe had caused great humiliation to him in the past with even a molestation case filed against him!) pretty unconvincing and whatever meek justification rendered to it too weak and hard to swallow!

             Also, the romantic track between Benjamin and Jinu has not been worked out well. As a result, like one of the characters himself states at one instance in the book, Benjamin only comes across as a typical stalker for the average reader.

            To give due credit to Lajo, I liked the character of ‘Solly Jacob’ and how her character and her magazine were modeled on 'Vanitha' , but again it’s a shame that she has very little (and quite insignificant) presence in the narrative and in this 220 + page long crime novel.

Towards the end, the author seems to be in a hurry to wrap up the proceedings and before we realize, the climax is up leaving behind room for a possible sequel (and even for a new series featuring Esther!)

So the logical issues which I had with this 'thriller' are listed below-
  • If the case was such an open and shut case right from the beginning, what was that made Esther & co wage a prolonged media battle to implicate and arrest Benjamin?
  • Esther could easily crack the mystery behind the multiple homicides within a span of two days, just based on her intuitions, the 'killer's statements  and a few incidental findings which cropped up during her '3-4 day long' investigation but then, why did the initial investigating officers so easily overlook these same facts during the course of their investigation?Noone seemed to have bothered to even cross check the veracity of the true ‘killer’s initial statements to the police!(they could have atleast verified 'the cell-phone range' thing!)

Looks like the author is keen on making this into the series and also having a film adaptation for this work (as  indicated in the closing chapter) but I genuinely wish he enhances the original source material at hand and make it more taut and racy by adding some more meat into the (future) feature film script.

Verdict: On the whole, Lajo jose’s Coffee House is a decent start for a first time author, but doesn’t qualify as a truly engaging mystery thriller. I sincerely hope that his follow up to this debut work will be much better. I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

mystery

QBR: I Found You by Lisa Jewell

9:12:00 PM



        I Found You by Lisa Jewell

RT Rating: 3.8/5

Mystery/Crime Thriller

     450+ pages, Arrow (2016)
The Verdict:'I Found You' is a gripping thriller which is totally worth your time and money.
 
Synopsis:Twenty Year Old Lily is searching for her missing husband.Forty something Alice,mother of three has a starnger living in her house.Teenager Kirsty has a new boy friend.What is the 'link' between these seemingly unrelated women who don't even belong to the same generation? 'I found You' is built on this interesting premise.Set in the fictional town of Ridinghouse bay, this Part Romance and part thriller, manages to old your attention for most part.

The Good:The pacing (though the book is 450 odd pages long,you never 'feel' that it's overlong!) is apt, plotting is clever, the setting is brilliantly atmospheric.The 'mystery' mood has been successfully maintained for most part with the 'connection' between the three principal characters turning out really well.

The Bad:Towards the third act and the climax,the book loses steam; the big reveal (about Kirsty's disappearance) could have been better thought out .

RecommendationsBuy it!

-nikhimenon


Kindly donate to Kerala's Flood relief fund by visiting Kerala CM's official donation linkhttps://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/

Claire Mackintosh

QBR: I See You By Claire Mackintosh

1:00:00 AM

I See You By Claire Mackintosh

RT Rating: 3.5/5

Psychological Suspense/Crime Thriller

380+ pages, Sphere (2016)
 The Verdict: Innovative re-working of the 'stalker' theme ,Claire Mackintosh delivers the goods in 'I see You'! If you have taken the 'London Tubes' or even the over-head commute, you will defintely find this to be a creepy read!

Synopsis: Forty year old Zoe Walker, mother of two ,finds herself listed in the tabloid ad of an online dating website (about which she has absolutely no clue of !) and soon  discovers that she is not the only one! Detective Kelly Swift is the only one who is convinced of Zoe's story and soon they discover that the other women who are listed in the ad are getting killed one by one!

The Good:The setting, pacing and the climax twist! Will there be a sequel?

The Bad: The 'stalker' theme is getting repetitive.

Recommendations:Buy it!

-nikhimenon


Kindly donate to Kerala's Flood relief fund by visiting Kerala CM's official donation linkhttps://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/

Anthology

Storywallah - Stories from everyday India ( Anthology)

9:14:00 PM

I have been a fan of Nilesh Mishra's storytelling and stories from the beginning. And as an extension , I have liked his "mandali" too from the stories I have heard in FM, which were written by his mandali members.

With that expectation and memory I picked this book Storywallah. And it was a little disappointing. The depth and the details that one associates with short stories is some what lacking in the stories of the book.

The book has a variety of emotions - friendship , love , loss , pride , sorrow and a little bit of society's thoughts and working shown using characters of the stories.  There are incidences that one will relate to , moments that you feel one with the person in the story but I can perhaps count those stories on my hand.

My favorite story is "the overcoat" where a girl discovers the meaning of true love through other's life. Another story I will remember for a long time is "The seal" but only for the father dialogues in that one. Another gem is "together" for me as that's about true friendship and having to love someone a second time over.

 This book failed to excite me most part or make me feel strongly for rest of character. I understood the emotion but there was nothing to bind me there. Perhaps the book would have been better in hindi language and it's the translation that has taken away the shine from these tales of every day India.

My rating - 3.5/5 

Chic-Lit

QBR: encounters of a fat bride by samah

12:00:00 AM





                             Encounters of a Fat Bride By Samah 

                                   RT Rating: 2.6/5

                              270 Pages, Penguin Metro Reads (2017)

                                     Chic-lit/Romance

     The Verdict: An okay, time-pass light read which offers nothing new!

Synopsis: Madhurima Pandey is a plus sized,twenty something girl.She is quite insecure about herself because of her being over sized.So when the good looking,well educated Harsh agrees to marry her(though his body language suggests otherwise),she has her own share of apprehensions.Does he genuinely like her? Is he marrying her for the sake of it? Is there  some 'hidden agenda' behind his willingness? She can't help ponder over....Will she be able to find the truth?

The Good: the light heartedness of the narrative, the length, some interesting characters like the 'uber cool', tech savvy Grandma (she reminded me of a character in Varun Aggarwal's 'How I braved Anu Aunty....,though!)  

The Bad: pretty generic plot(and characters) which doesn't break any new grounds (if you have read atleast one chick-lit work in life,you can predict the next chapter/scene in the novel), characterisation of Madhurima was too weak (you never 'feel' for her or her emotions), Anu is portrayed as her best friend,but beyond the regular shopping sessions and the occassional 'gyaan', you never get to know the 'real' Anu!

Best Quote-It's not perfect people,but perfect relationships that make fairy tales!

Recommendations: Borrow it! (if you are in the mood to read some 'light' stuff)!

-nikhimenon

crime thriller

QBR: 3 AND A HALF MURDERS BY SALIL DESAI

12:00:00 AM

                               

                              
                                 3 and a Half Murders By Salil Desai

                                     RT Rating: 2.7/5

                               328 Pages, Finger Print Publishing (2017)

                               Crime Thriller/Murder Mystery

           The Verdict: A decent, but over-long crime thriller with an unexpected climax!

Synopsis: Sanjay Doshi has killed his wife Anushka Doshi (who was cheating on him) and has committed suicide.The suspect is her 'lover' Shaunak Sodhi. Can Inspector Saralkar solve the mystery?

The Good:down- to -earth characterisation of Saralkar and his aide Motkar ,no excessive violence and pointless twists, the big reveal in the climax(the identity of the killer)

The Bad: The 'why' of the crime could have been better imagined, the usual cliche's like the fake Godman, the officer's nagging wife,a couple of loose ends(ASI Murgud covering up the 7 year old case quite easily)

Recommendations: Borrow it!

-nikhimenon

Medical Thriller

QBR: Miracle Cure By Harlan Coben

12:30:00 AM

Image:Amazon UK

Miracle Cure By Harlan Coben

RT Rating: 2.6/5

Medical Thriller/Crime Thriller

480 pages, ORION (2013), originally published in 1991 by British American Publishing
 The Verdict: One of Coben's earliest works, Miracle Cure can be read once , if you are a die-hard Coben fan!

Synopsis:Dr Harvey has discovered a perfect cure for HIV.But there is someone trying to sabotage his discovery!

The Good:the 'Medical' aspects are still relevant, has it's moments of suspense

The Bad:Pretty dated work (even Coben himself admits the same), the climax twist was pretty predictable, quite over-long too!

Recommendations:Borrow it!

-nikhimenon

Andrea Camilleri

QBR: Angelica's Smile by Andrea Camilleri

12:00:00 AM


                              Angelica's Smile By Andrea Camilleri

                                           RT Rating: 2.5/5

                               304 Pages, Pan MacMillan(2015)

                               Romance/Police Procedural

       The Verdict: An okayish , half baked romance-police procedural

Synopsis: Vigàta's elite are targeted in a series of brilliantly executed robberies,can Inspector Montalbano solve the mystery?

The Good: Easy Read, fairly good English translation,partly funny

The Bad: the romance was half baked,so was the investigation,ends up neither here nor there

Recommendations:Skip it!

-nikhimenon

crime thriller

QBR: Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris

9:55:00 AM

 For those of you, who are too lazy to go through 'long, boring' book reviews, ALOP hereby presenting the new Quick Book Review (QBR) series (if James Patterson can bring out BOOKSHOTS, why can't we?☺)



                         Behind Closed Doors By B A Paris

                                      RT Rating: 3/5

                            293 Pages, St Martin's Press (2016)

                                    Psychological Thriller

           The Verdict: A fairly good read built on an intriguing premise!

Synopsis: Jack and Grace are the perfect couple and everyone adores them, But are they living a perfect lie?

The Good: The Premise is fresh , Grace's characterisation, emotional nature of the read, focused narration

The Bad: The climax was not entirely convincing!

Recommendations: Borrow it!

-nikhimenon
                      

Fantasy

Veil of the Deserters - Jeff Salyards

11:33:00 AM


Veil of the Deserters
Book 2 of the "Bloodsounder's Arc"

Read about the first book HERE

ISBN - 9781597804905
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2014
PAGES - 464
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHER - Night Shade Publishers

AUTHOR - Jeff Salyards

SYNOPSIS - History, Family and Memory… these are the seeds of destruction.

Bloodsounder's Arc continues as Captain Braylar Killcoin and his retinue continue to sow chaos amongst the political elite of Alespell. Braylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual.

The Syldoonian Emperor Cynead has solidified his power base in unprecedented ways, and demands loyalty from all operatives. Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder’s effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be far more complicated and dangerous than even Killcoin could predict.

Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and his sister Soffjian lie at the heart of his plans. The distance between "favored shadow agent of the emperor" and "exiled traitor" is an unsurprisingly short road. But it is a road filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian. And old enemies in Alespell may prove to be surprising allies in a conflict no one could have foreseen.

QUOTES - 


“Rumor's the slut you bend over a chair and never see again. Truth's the lady you wed.”

“There always seems to be an 'until'. That is one of life's harsh lessons.”


“It is a ripper. I would be disappointed if it simply nuzzled them and showed its belly for a good rub.”

FL Speak - Book 1 of Bloodsounder's Arc was a gem. It led nowhere, didn't bank on promises to fail and had a cast of ruthless killers you wouldn't want to be stuck with. Without a sound plot, it stood tall as first of the trilogy or even as a standalone.

Book 2, however, doesn't. Whatever sense of lull you were accustomed to (although less truly), this book picks up the pace in action and story line at a break neck speed. To rehash, we have a young scribe, unsullied in warmongering who has been hired to chronicle the deeds of a certain Slydoon company. If book 1 was his trial of fire, book 2 leads him straight to the depths of fiery hell.

The Slydoon have returned to their homes. Homes that are familiar and filled with political betrayals and memory magic. Wars, lots of it, on almost every page to satisfy your thirsting pangs of action and swear words. Veil of the Deserters will take you on a ride to the unknown, literally unknown places that you have not encountered in book 1. Political intrigue, treachery and good ol' betrayal at its finest. I must say the good Captain Killcoin and his Syldoon has grown on me. Arki, not so much, despite his lack for not trying.

An empire awaits. The Syldoon wait. And the schemes and plots twist and turn.

RATING - 5/5

Fantasy

Hymn - Ken Scholes

10:32:00 AM


Hymn
Book 5 of 'Psalms of Isaak

Read about the first 4 books here

ISBN - 9780765321312
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2017
PAGES - 352
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHERS - Tor

AUTHOR - Ken Scholes

SYNOPSIS - Ken Scholes completes his five-book epic that began with his acclaimed first novel Lamentation. The battle for control of The Named Lands has captivated readers for ten years as both characters and readers have learned the true nature of world called Lasthome.

Now the struggle between the Andro-Francine Order of the Named Lands and the Y Zirite Empire has reached a terrible turning point. Believing that his son is dead, Rudolfo has pretended to join with the triumphant Y zirite forces but his plan is to destroy them all with a poison that is targeted only to the enemy.

In Y Zir, Rudolfo's wife Jin Li Tam is fighting a war with her own father which will bring that Empire to ruin.

And on the Moon, Neb, revealed as one of the Younger Gods, takes the power of the Last Home Temple for his own.

FL SpeakWhat a ride it has been.

Hymm marks the end of an era. The conclusion we had been waiting for comes crashing down on the Named Lands blurring the lines between mortals and gods, legends and facts. Suffice to say, this is one of those series that completely swept me away by the sheer audacity of the author's imagination. The only other authors I can think of are Brandon Sanderson (to an extent) and the much under-hyped Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Years of gap between publications aside, Ken Scholes takes the book to a rising crescendo before letting it fall in a final blaze of glory. The stories of Isaak, Neb, Petronus, Rudolfo, Vlad and Jin will forever be etched in my heart if not in the hearts of men of the Named Lands. The Psalms of Isaak is a creative mastermind, craftily combining science fiction into a tale that defines the fantasy genre. Like a master chess player going for the kill, Ken Scholes brings all the players into the game in this final novel and begins a bloodbath that even the Gods can't avoid.

The bad guys turn humane and the good guys turn into monsters and in between are the kin-dragons, flying free again. Oh, what a ride this has been.

A fitting end to a grand tale.

RATING - 5/5 stars

nikhimenon

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

8:14:00 PM

Pic-amazon.in


                 The  success of The Girl On The Train and Gone Girl inspired many first time writers and scribes to come out with their own versions of it .While some of them have been decent enough (The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena definitely being one ) ,many of them have been damp squibs.Ruth Ware's The Woman In Cabin Number Ten (though pretty formulaic) fortunately belongs to the former category and is undoubtedly a time-pass read.'The Woman'... is Ruth Wares's second novel after the hugely succesful 'In A Dark, Dark Wood'

                The Protagonist is Lo, a woman with anxiety disorder and also with drinking issues  (Rachel,anyone?).She is the resident editor of Velocity,a travel magazine.As her boss is on maternity leave,she is assigned to cover the inaugural voyage of a luxury cruise.While everything is okay in the beginning,she happens to witness a woman being thrown out of her next cabin to the deep blue sea.Though she is pretty sure about what she has witnessed,not everyone is convinced about her version of events-as there has never been an occupant in the next cabin! (cabin number 10)

               The writing is decently paced and devoid of long, unnecessary detailing.As the book cover rightly puts it,'The Woman'.. reads more like an Agatha Christie meeting The Girl On The Train.The setting is pretty much Agatha (too many people locked in a particular set up),but the writing and characters are more like Paula Hawkins'. We have got a (not-that-likeable) flawed heroine who is trying desperately to prove what she has 'witnessed' has not been a product of her deviant mind.

               On the downside, I felt that the blurb gave away too much regarding the story line. It's like, if you have read the blurb, you can pretty much skip the first one fifty pages or so. Also, the suspense is not that unpredictable either (the tail-end twist with that mystery about the money in the account is good though!).On the whole, I am giving this book a 2.9 out of 5.

-nikhimenon


4 stars

Review: Age of Azmoq: The Valantian Imperium by Rajamayyoor Sharma

11:03:00 AM


My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The book blurb was exciting enough to catch my attention when I got the request to read this book. Plus , I am a fan of fantasy fiction so I am always on a lookout for good ones from indian authors. Overall, am really happy with this huge book.

The story opens with introducing us to the narrator and his little village that later becomes the centre of action in the book. The people of the village , the setting and the lifestyle is so amazingly explained in details that you feel like settling in this story. The isolated village sits on a huge reserve if Azmoq , a rare metal that's controlled by the rulers. The story takes our narrator out if his village ,making friends and returning with them to defend his village from the empire's wrath. We meet all characters one by one , know their stories and see them building this team together and learn about how the empire came into being.

What is interesting is that , while there is no clear villains here in terms of black and white , the whole narrative gives you enough questions to think about deeply. The moral delimna of warriors , rulers and even a common man are touched upon in this book.

And now to the things that bothered me - the jump from one person / year to other in the narration. The book is not linear which works well only if the distinctions are clear. I struggled at few places to see whose point of view was the chapter telling and even which year it is on. Second the font is very small. The book is much huge for the 400 pages it has been presented in. Oh yes , now I realize I read 400 amazing pages and did not feel like letting it go ever.

Hope the author works in the second part very soon as I am looking forward to it already.

View all my reviews

crime thriller

The Kind Worth Killing By Peter Swanson

7:20:00 AM

                       

                     The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson is a thriller which is worth your time and money. Full of twists and turns,this 400+page work is a genuine page turner. Ted,Miranda and Lily are the principal characters.Ted is upset that his wife Miranda is cheating on him.He meets Lily while waiting for his flight in Heathrow airport. Lily offers him help.They hatch a plan to kill Miranda. But Miranda has other plans for Ted.

                      I particularly liked the characterization of Lily.The manner in which Lily's past life is revealed is truly riveting.The writing is taut and thrilling.The Chapters alternate between Ted and Lily's perspectives and believe me, the shift in perspectives is not done in an irritating manner.

                      For those of you who are still wondering the origin behind the title of this work,here it is- Lily says at one point , "Truthfully, I don't think murder is necessarily as bad as people make it out to be. Everyone dies. What difference does it make if a few bad apples get pushed along a little sooner than God intended? And your wife, for example, seems like the kind worth killing."

On the whole,I am giving 3.5 out of 5 for this novel.

-nikhimenon

Fantasy

Requiem - Ken Scholes

4:08:00 PM


Requiem
Book 4 of "Psalms of Isaak"

Read about the first 3 book here

ISBN - 9780765321305
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2013
PAGES - 398
GENRE - Fantasy
PUBLISHER - Tor

AUTHOR - Ken Scholes

SYNOPSIS - Ken Scholes's debut novel, Lamentation, was an event in fantasy. Heralded as a "mesmerizing debut novel" by Publishers Weekly, and a "vividly imagined SF-fantasy hybrid set in a distant, postapocalyptic future" by Booklist, the series gained many fans. It was followed by Canticle and Antiphon. Now comes the fourth book in The Psalms of Isaak, Requiem.

Who is the Crimson Empress, and what does her conquest of the Named Lands really mean? Who holds the keys to the Moon Wizard's Tower?

The plots within plots are expanding as the characters seek their way out of the maze of intrigue. The world is expanding as they discover lands beyond their previous carefully controlled knowledge. Hidden truths reveal even deeper truths, and nothing is as it seemed to be.

FL Speak - Probably one of the best books in the series. Everything is moving at a rapid pace towards a conclusion. It's not there yet but the plots within plots are revealed anew and the key players emerge from their shadowy places.

What began with the fall of Windwir was not the beginning. The plan was set long ago. Long before these charismatic men and women were born. But even the best-laid plans are as good as the intentions of those who follow it. Requiem is truly the story of Neb, of Rudolfo, of Vlad, of Jim and of Isaak. Ken Scholes wonderfully bridges a far-reaching quest of destiny and connects it with political intrigue and war campaigns. Filled with revenge, blood-letting, dream sequences and a lot of running and flying, this wonderful tale of fables and legends carefully fills the gaps between myths and facts.

By the end of book 4, we know there's more to the Named Lands than the people living in it. We also know the people on the moon and that the desolation of Windwir was just one of the many that ended civilisations and history. This is a grand war for the survival of humankind. Because if the Crimson Princess were to rise, the land of living will return to the Dark Ages.
 

RATING - 5/5

crime thriller

Little Boy Blue by M.J. Alridge

12:11:00 PM


                Little Boy Blue is the first book by M.J.Alridge that I have read.It's basically a crime thriller and is the fifth book in the D.I.Helen Grace series.I was not that aquainted with Helen Grace and her subordinates before picking this book up for my weekend read, still I found this work to be quite an enjoyable read.

            Jake Elder( a professional dominator) is found dead in one of the shady clubs in Southampton.Though the case initially looks like a bizarre sex game gone wrong,pretty soon it becomes clear that there is something more to it,as bodies start piling up in a similar fashion at various other places.What's more striking is Helen's personal equations with the victims and it becomes evident that a lot is at stake for her. Adding spice to the narrative is the unhealthy competition between Helen's subordinates , Sanderson and Brookes.The tension catches on, the killer is revealed culminating in a stunning climax, leaving the reader anxious and surprised at the sudden turn of events.

Little Boy Blue is undoubtedly a fast paced,nail-biting thriller.I can't wait to grab a copy of the next one in this installment.I'm giving it a 3.5 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

Indian fiction

Review: Aqson Level I by Sreejib

1:46:00 PM

Aqson Level I

Genre : Mythology , Thriller ,
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I started this book casually one day while in flight and before I knew I had reached my destination and I hated that I had to stop reading.

Aqson is a game played between Lucifer and God to claim each other's weapons and for general winning over each other, till next game. This particular game is for 30 years and the goal is to become the PM of the country, India . ( Ok, please accept it as fiction and move on)

The book starts setting the stage with this and then jumps 20 years ahead where Lucifer has declared his weapon - Yuvrani , pathos who is the youngest party chief of the ruling party and daughter of the current PM , along her angel Vanraj.  God is yet to make a move, and even when his team's angel Job ( why that name , I wonder ) makes an appearance in Kolkata, his weapon Life is no where in picture for most of the book. Interesting and wait when this mystery gets solved ..

Since the game is set in political context , we meet a lot of political players , see the rise of a student party and how it changes the political face of the state and country too. The author knows how to make the political scene relevant and not over preachy. I wish some of the youth is indeed working on the ideas discussed in the book. Meanwhile , don't forget that the game is on and how !

The writing is full of humor and I was actually laughing in some of the scenes. The political discussion was a brilliant part in my opinion. So was the bonding between the people behind the Student party and their interactions with each other are so fun.

I loved the way the author established the back story , the technology and the powers of Angels involved in the games. This is a very fresh take on mythology genre and a welcome break from the books that have flooded the literature scene in recent years. This helped me keep my faith in Indian fiction writing.


The plot , the characters , the build up and the twists in this book are superb !! I Can not wait for the next part.

This book review is a part of "The Readers Comsos Book Review Program and Blog Tours, for details log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in

View all my goodreads reviews

crime thriller

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

10:45:00 PM


Agreed, this book is a smash hit and the author is widely hailed as the 'next big thing' among the new breed of women crime writers, but I found the novel to be a pretty average work.

A woman(Ella) accidentally stumbles upon two teenage girls during a train journey only to find out later that one of the girls (Anna Ballard) has gone missing. The book is all about the mystery behind the sudden disappearance of Anna. This 'Gone Girl' meets 'The Girl On The Train' kind of tale is told through the perspectives of it's principal characters -Ella (the witness),Luke (Ella's son),Sarah (the friend), to name a few.The chapters are pretty short and each one ends in a mini cliff- hanger (which was pretty annoying, after a point). The characters are poorly written, their motives and intentions quite patchy to say the least. Also, the reason for the 'guilt-feeling' of Ella and the others is not properly explained.The final twist is just about okay.

On the whole, I am giving a 2.5 out of 5 for this book.

-nikhimenon

dreams

Let Me Go by Shriram Iyer

6:22:00 PM



Best friends Indu and Anshu meet in school and bond over all things innocent and fun. They start ignoring each other  in college but what happens when they part ways is what we call life. When they get a second chance to meet and be friends , it is going to test both of them to the limit to decide how long to hold on to each other. 

Sometimes you start reading a book with some apprehension and expecting to be entertained for a while. And it is good as that allows the book to surprise you in so many ways. This book is a ode to friendship with love. And I am so happy someone wrote , perhaps a little cliched but still a story that so much is believable and close to truth.

Anshu and and Indu have always been best friends and nothing more. Even in their differences , they have not thought to hurt each other though Indu's actions however selfish , have always been for love and to make her relationship work. When Anshu falls in love and decides to marry , he has no plan to think of his past life but it still comes to crash the party. How he manages his friendship while juggling with everything else is beyond imagination.

This is a story of messed up priorities , reckless loving and living. It talks of dreams and how we get derailed from achieving that. There is no judgement , nothing wrong or right in friendships sometimes.  This is a well plotted and inspiring story. The story pulls you along very easily. There is no pretense or lofty ideas in there. It is a simple book that is meant to make you feel good when you finish.

I really enjoyed this book and am so glad I spent one weekend with these characters.

My rating : 4/5

Fantasy

Antiphon - Ken Scholes

3:37:00 PM


Antiphon
Book 3 of "Psalms of Isaak'

Read about the previous books HERE

ISBN - 9780765321299
FIRST PUBLISHED - 2010
GENRE - Fantasy
PAGES - 384
PUBLISHER - Tor

AUTHOR - Ken Scholes

SYNOPSIS - Nothing is as it seems to be.

The ancient past is not dead. The hand of the Wizard Kings still reaches out to challenge the Androfrancine Order, to control the magick and technology that they sought to understand and claim for their own.

Nebios, the boy who watched the destruction of the city of Windwir, now runs the vast deserts of the world, far from his beloved Marsh Queen. He is being hunted by strange women warriors, while his dreams are invaded by warnings from his dead father.

Jin Li Tam, queen of the Ninefold Forest, guards her son as best she can against both murderous threats, and the usurper queen and her evangelists. They bring a message: Jakob is the child of promise of their Gospel, and the Crimson Empress is on her way.

And in hidden places, the remnants of the Androfrancine order formulate their response to the song pouring out of a silver crescent that was found in the wastes.

QUOTES - 
“Part of me wants justice for this. Part of me wants to never cause harm to another.” 
“Watch for the ones who leave your mouth hanging open. Study them, find out what they love and what they fear. Dig the treasure out of their soul and hold it to the light. Then Be like them.” 
“Her laughter was an upbeat song set to a minor key.” 

FL Speak - It took me a while to get into this.

I read the second book 5 years ago. Book 3 was a blur. It was hard to connect and make sense of especially when reviews of this epic series are so less. Why internet, why? After a lot of searching and I really mean a lot, I went back to this and for the third time, Ken Scholes blew me away.

Book 1 and Book 2 were fun. This was a revelation of sorts. The bigger picture is still unknown but what was once myths and legends slowly turned into practicality and logic. The use of magiks and technology is a deadly combo especially when you have a nomadic army, invisible scouts, metal men, blood sacrifices and treasure troves of legends in the deserts.

The desolation of Windwir began the series. By book 3, we are getting to know why exactly someone annihilated an entire city and a race of people. Meanwhile, the canticle is still singing. or ringing is it? Music people can hear. The music they hear in dreams. Music metal servitors hear. I must be mad but I stopped wondering what that it could be. I just know it sings and it requires an answer. 

Halfway down book 3, I've fairly grasped the on-goings of the book. The Named Lands are in danger. Grave, grave danger. Neb, the boy who witnessed the fall of Windwir finds himself in the Churning Wastes, a vast desert hunted by strange women under abnormal magiks. Isaak is in the Named Lands, dreaming about a song. It's a compelling book, making you fall in love with the characters over and over again. We see a hint of a bigger plot with more and more impossibilities coming to a fruition. The Watcher and the Crimson Princess? Who are they and what do they have to with a race of people that came out of nowhere. 

The Named Lands face a threat never envisioned before. And within the Named Lands, there is treachery in plenty. Rudolfo and Jin Li Tam face the threat for their baby while the world slowly moves towards its impending destruction.

RATING - 5/5 stars

cover reveal

Cover reveal : Children of Blood And Bone by Tomorrow Adeyemi

11:30:00 AM


Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debutChildren of Blood and Bone.

They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise.

Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.

Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.