Friday, December 6, 2019

#PratsReads - Bookish Naughty Or Nice Tag

I recently re-discovered bookish tags on blogs ( though some lovely book bloggers I follow on twitter). While I was wondering which one to do, I got tagged by Leah to do this one, which originally was started by Jenn.

The rules -

Rules Tag & link the person who tagged you
Tag and link back to the original post by Jenn
Tick/cross off the ones you’ve done
Tag 10 people to join in!

Even if you weren't tagged by anyone, just join in!



1. Received an ARC and not reviewed it ✔

Yes, My NetGalley dashboard is clear evidence of this. Never done this with books that come from the author/publisher directly though.

2. Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetGalley ✔

 I have never able to cross even 50% *hides behind the book pile*

3. Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did) 

 I *never* make such promises knowing that I may or may not write a blog post about the book.

4. Folded down the page of a book

Nopes. One thing I never do to books.

5. Accidentally spilled on a book 

 Never.  Don't attempt to eat or drink absentmindedly if I am reading. 

6. DNF a book this year ✔

I consider them to be postponed perhaps. But you never know ;)

7. Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it 

 No. I don't pick ugly covers but I won't buy only for pretty ones either.

8. Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) ✔

I have read while I am meant to do everything else - Work, chores, eat, sleep, meet friends or even pamper my husband .. you get the drift :D

9. Skim read a book ✔

Mostly romance/erotica. I skip the sex scenes after the first one. 

10. Completely missed your Goodreads goal ✔

 Only once. In 2012 [Dont know how that happened ] 

11. Borrowed a book and not returned it to the library 

 No. won't happen. 

12. Broke a book buying ban ✔

What ban? *looks at the 3 books I bought today* 

13. Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about ✔

 Yeah. That's why I do not promise to review every book I read. 

14. Wrote in a book you were reading ✔

I do not mind writing in books. I sometimes leave notes for the person in books I gift or ask people to do the same for me. 

15. Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads 

Never happened since I started using Goodreads.

16. Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend

No. I borrow rarely and often it becomes a gift :D

17. Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book 

No. I would be happy if someone borrows a book I own and reads it. More the merrier.

18. Broke the spine of someone else’s book

 Not a chance. 

19. Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged 

No way!

20. Sat on a book accidentally ✔

 When you are surrounded by books, that can happen. Right?

Final Score: 9 /20
Did I just dodge being on the naughty list! phew!
Where's my reward?



Thursday, December 5, 2019

#PratsReads : WWW Wednesday - Book I read

This meme/tag is currently hosted by Taking on a world of words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?





Here are my quick answers - 

What are you currently reading?
I am currently listening to the audiobook - The starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Considering how amazing this book is ( even at 15%), I should be done by next week. 

 
What did you recently finish reading?
I finished A Violet Fire by Kelsey Quick last night (Linked to my review post). It gave me the kind of high a good story and cast gives you, and a little heartache as I realized very late that the book is a part of a series and the first part is releasing on Dec 9th. 


What do you think you’ll read next? 

I have not picked a new book to read today as I wasn't out of the previous story & Starless Sea is hypnotic too. This month , I have decided to spend most of my reading hours on the books on Kindle Unlimited, published by some of the indie authors I know through the writing community on twitter. I have about 4-5 books downloaded so I will be picking one of them along the audiobook as I read / listen to multiple books at a time.


Got any feedback on these books or a suggestion for me ? Do comment :)   

#BookReview: A Violet Fire [Vampires of Avignon#1 ]by Kelsey Quick

A Violet Fire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across A Violet Fire through a review post on Leah's blog. Luckily the book was still available on NetGalley for requesting an ARC and I picked it immediately.


In the Vampire Stratocracy of Cain, human blood is scarce. For centuries, councils have sought to assuage the blood shortage by enslaving and breeding humans, turning them into profitable supply units for the rich and the abled.


Today, eighteen-year-old Wavorly Sterling is officially a supply unit, bound to serve her blood willingly to her master for the rest of her life. One of only few humans that was not bred in Cain, Wavorly knows freedom better than anyone, and she is determined to escape the clutches of her oppressors, even if by the hands of death.


But surprises lay beyond every certainty, and within every doubt. Where Wavorly's hatred for both vampires and her enslavement once flowed free as blood, it merely trickles as she grows to admire her reserved, yet receptive master and savior, Anton Zein.

Set in a richly detailed world of fantasy, A Violet Fire is a gripping journey filled with passion, betrayal, lies, and the encouragement we all need to take a stand for our freedom--no matter the cost.



I had started to believe I was over the vampire tales when I finished the House of Night series in 2011 [ damn! that's ancient history it seems ] but then I read AFV. And I read like there is no tomorrow
Two nights of sleeping (very) late and I finished it within 60ish hours. This is not a typical vampire movie with clear wars and petty drama. This is a well-established world of Vampire as the ruling class with their own rules and needs and how humans are enslaved for their cause. 

The book starts with Wavorly's attempt to escape her destiny and failing that, we see her anger and her tendency to speak her mind without caring for the consequences - including her own death. Though this does not change much, it is the very reason that adds such freshness to the plot and the dialogues as the story moves. Though I do not have much love for Wavorly for her exhausting dilemma and struggle, there was something about the story that kept me engrossed and by the end, I was totally invested to know the future of Wavorly and Lord Zein.  

Lord Zein - without being over the top cheesy or brooding, there was enough to like his character and at times take his side too. The other casts were also well developed and used efficiently in the world-building and to move the story at a good pace in the direction it had to. I loved the story and writing so much that when I realized that there is a sequel to the book, I was kind of sad closing the book at a cliffhanger! SO. NOT.DONE !

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

#PratsReads Reading Wrap up : November 2019

So, I am once again trying to do a wrap up of my reading adventures on a monthly basis. This will cover all books that I have not reviewed in detail ( and might never do ) or ones I re-read and I have any new thoughts on the same. So here is the list for Nov 2019 [ Review posts from the blog linked ] - 



People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - Historical fiction | 5 star | Story of a Jew Prayer manuscript passed and saved from destruction over centuries.

You beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas - Indian thriller | 4 star | story of an investigation into a series of murders in Delhi involving a psychologist and a police officer and their families. 

The treasure syndicate by Jatin - Indian mythological thriller | 4 star | A group of five men seeking a treasure buried centuries ago for using it for the benefit of society. 

The Blossom Twins by Carol Wyer - Thriller | 4 star | Detective Natalie Ward series (book#5 ) | A case from the past gets linked to the present and it complicates a lot of things for Natalie. 

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya - Indian historical thriller | 4 star | A couple in present times searching the truth about a couple in the past , bound by a stone figurine. 

Mixture is the new secret by Anusha Sridharan - 5 star | a small Poetry collection coupled with some lovely pictures. 

Marked Men series [books 2-6 ] by Jay Crownover - Adult romance | 3.5-4 stars for various books | Stories of a group of tattoo artists & friends and their search for love and meaning in their life. 

Apart from reading these lovey books,  I finished writing and published two kindle books of my own - The Muse ( a short fiction ) and Mosaic ( poetry collection ) [ Linked to amazon page of the books ]


Monday, December 2, 2019

#BookReview: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks



My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In March, before I got my library card made, I could only read in the library so I picked some very short books to finish in 1-2 hours. It started with The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. This made me explore more books that are about book or reading and I came across "People of the book" multiple times but I never picked it.

A few months later, this book was mentioned and discussed again in the book "End of Life Book Club" and this time I decided that there were enough signs now for me to read it. Luckily I found the audiobook easily and over the last whole month, I finished the book.

People of the Book is the story of Haggadah (Jewish prayer book used during the festival of Passover) which celebrates the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. In particular, this book is about Sarajevo Haggadah which is an illustrated text of the Passover Haggadah. It is a fictionalized version of various "people" and places this manuscript traveled in its life till it finally resurfaces and is put up for display in a museum in Bosnia in 2002.

The book starts with the discovery and analysis of the manuscript for conservation. The different stuff captured during this take us down the history of the manuscript and how these things - a bloodstain, hair, wing of a butterfly, etc become a part of the book. The book alternates between the present as seen through the eyes of conservator Hanna Heath and the past as narrated by the person associated with the manuscript. With each passing month in the search of the truth in the present, we go more and more deeper into the story of the manuscript and the people responsible for creating and preserving the same.

When I began reading this, I had a doubt that my ignorance on the history of the place and the religion might be a hindrance in enjoying the book but it was actually a nudge for me to read about the manuscript and the history of the conflicts later in a more factual account. The fictional version piqued my interest and made me connect to the journey of the manuscript through centuries. Along with the book's story , the reader learns the art of creating such manuscripts , of preservation and the importance of these in telling the stories of older generations.

The book also has amazing characters who give this story a distinct turn and mood in different chapters. The structuring of the story works like a mystery book and keeps the reader engaged.

This is one of the best reads for me in this year and I loved reading about this book and the ways books have carried voices of hope and learning for all, across the years and religions and places.


View all my reviews

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Woman In the Window by A.J.Finn


                I am not sure whether I can really call this post as a review. Infact, I don't intend this to be read as one either. A lot has already been written about this book and it has already become some sort of a global best seller by now. Frankly speaking, more than the merit of this work, it has become what it is now as a result of smart marketing and aggressive media push.
               The book falls in the same zone of 'The Woman In Cabin Number 10';(Ruth Ware)  'The Girl on the Train'(Paula Hawkins) and 'Her Every Fear' (Peter Swanson).Anna Fox suffers from agarophobia and she lives alone in an apartment somewhere in Newyork. She has just parted with her family and spends her time drinking too much of alcohol and binge watching on old English Films. Her only connection with the external world are the website/on-line community where fellow people with agarophobia share their experiences and the window in her room which overlooks to the next apartment.One Night, she sees something bizarre through her window and the shocking secrets which follow take the story forward.
                 Now, I will come to the issues which I have with this book. It took it's own sweet time to establish the characters(there aren't many either!) and the principal character Anna turns out to be a really annoying and irritating female.The suspense about her family was easily predictable and for the first 200 pages or so, nothing really happens(except for whatever already revealed in the book blurb) and our heroine simply wastes (our) time trying to remind us of all those classic films(which she loves), chatting in that online community of her's and making us convince how 'twisted' her mind has become.The book picks up pace only towards the final forty pages or so, thanks to the 'un-expected' villain(thankfully, I never saw that 'twist' coming!)

On the whole, this one is a really over-hyped thriller. It's an okay work at best. Nothing less, Nothing more! 

-nikhimenon

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

#BookReview : The Treasure Syndicate by Jatin Kuberkar



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When Kaliyug resolved to enter Aryavatra, and encountered the lats Pandav, king a curse gave the world it's first 'Nidhi-Palak' or The Guardian of treasure Troves in the form of Lord Kuber's mortal son, Suta. In time, the Guardian bloodline scattered all over the world. Acharya Agnihotri is an astrologer. He searches for hidden treasures, to fulfill his destiny as a 'Nidhi-Palak'. Dr. Mahesh secretly finances missions for Acharya. Kumar is favored by unfathomable luck.. Jabbar is a legendary digger, and Srikanth is just a common man. United, they form the Treasure Syndicate, always a team of five; a motley mix with an uncanny balance. Bound by the elaborate framework of coincidence, destiny, and fate, the mission of the syndicate is not a cakewalk. The danger is real, and the conditions are never favorable. A hunting past awaits Acharya's team, as the Kaliyug threatens to turn the mission upside down.


Every time I read thrillers that tie the present to the past, the science to mythology and stories from India's culturally rich heritage transcending centuries, I feel a different sense of pleasure and pride. This book gave me the same in abundance. The story hooks you from page one and made me wish I had a weekend to myself to read this much sooner than I did. It is narrated in a way that all stories and the layers of the mysterious Treasure Syndicate are revealed in a very timely manner to the reader and there is never a dull moment in the book. A treasure hunt is worth the thrill, joy & sense of satisfaction it brings to the person reading about it and this hunt had it all.


The story not only narrates the fears and doubts of every person who is bound to the treasure but also presents so many chances for the reader to observe and not to judge any situation or person blindly. there are so many social messages woven into the story in a subtle way that gives the story a very happy vibe. For some readers, it might not be an exact science, but all the methods and steps followed by the syndicate for finding the treasure and handling it were explained in a scientific way. The book clearly shows the research done by the author on the ways of the treasure syndicate and to present it to the reader so brilliantly with no loose ends. There is a lot of symbolism used in the book which enhances the depth of the plot. 

Though I felt the end reveal was a little rushed and the plot twist was not necessary, this is still one of the best Indian fiction I read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My rating: 4/5 

Book Links: Goodreads * Amazon



About the Author:
https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jVv7PD2H53Y/XdFlJDGzzlI/AAAAAAAAGFw/ETP-pd5WwbIVI5rGMbyHk2XTPVRqlV5CACKgBGAsYHg/s1600/Jatin%2BKuberkar.jpg For the mortal world, I pretend to be a Software Engineer who works hard (or hardly?) in the hours of a day. I am the guy next door, a hardcore Harry Potter fan and a movie buff. I literally ‘live’ every movie, I have strong opinions about its content and I hate it when a movie based on an interesting concept is messed up for the sake of commercial value.
But beyond the boundaries of this ‘cholesterol-rich’ coil, I am a rider of rapturous thoughts. I am a thinker, a philosopher, a seeker, a story-teller, a writer, a wanderer and every other thing that a thought can be. At times some of these figments fire out of my thoughtful bowl and command me to write, muse, create, recreate, destroy…EXPRESS!


Who am I?  I have been asking this question to myself for 33 years, and I got a different answer always. Sometimes I get confused and think, am I asking the right question to seek the correct answer? or maybe that am I missing the whole fantastic universal drama around me while I am busy finding an answer to an irrelevant question? Does the answer even matter?


Contact the Author:

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_1486Vc5Bq4/XdFhiVtbCQI/AAAAAAAAGFI/mOwYhNIX7-UAGIS6-Rdke-cjWSD7VP94gCKgBGAsYHg/s640/The%2BTreasure%2BSyndicate.png

Sunday, November 24, 2019

#CoverReveal : The Pearl of Immortality by Nishi Chandermun

~ Cover Reveal ~
The Pearl of Immortality
by Nishi Chandermun




A world exists that is dominated by the forces of Light and Dark magic. A world where The Sands of Time comes to life, a unique and compelling fantasy.

Xerxes discovers an ancient golden Lamp in a shop of magical artefacts and his simple life is immediately altered, propelling him into a brand-new world inhabited by powerful alien races.

On this strange and distant planet, a world so unlike Earth, Xerxes soon discovers his new identity, one that names him Dragonheart.

Presented with his ancient dragon of more than five thousand years old, a dragon with indescribable magical abilities, he is compelled to accept his destiny as Dragon Rider. A destiny that drives him into the heart of threats shadowed over by the evil Naga race.

Can Xerxes shoulder the responsibilities of a true Dragonheart? When the significance of the Lamp comes to the fore, it becomes evident that the fate of the planet lies entirely in his strength.


About the Author:
I was born and raised in the city of Durban, one of the sunniest places of South Africa, where I live with my husband and three kids. However, home away from home is the magnificent Cape Town, a serene laidback city where the heart and spirit of the ancient Table Mountain beckons one to return again and again.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Law degree, cum laude and went on to study psychology thereafter, both careers which held my avid interest. However, my greatest passion was always in writing, something I have been doing for as long as I can recall. So, it’s no wonder that I finally surrendered all else to become a professional writer.

I have previously written middle-grade fiction as well as illustrated books for little children. The Sands of Time series is my first venture for young adults, a project that I have been arduously researching and working on for several years. If there’s a single belief I live by, it would be this:

Masterpieces are not created overnight. All that is truly remarkable requires a magical moment of growth.




Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Muse by Pratibha Pandey

Sometimes, for any bibliophile, a single short story can be a wonderful getaway after long books. At least, I'd like to believe so. Having read Pratibha's work since years before this short story was released, I can honestly say that I was actually looking forward to reading this!

When the "book" itself is only 18 pages, it's a bit hard to write a detailed review without giving away spoilers. The story is the interaction between two friends, one of whom is a poet who finds The Muse. Reading it brought a smile, and I suppose that's the biggest positive a story can get. It makes the reader happy. The friendship is portrayed that beautifully you see.

I wish P had made it a part of a bigger collection, because after finishing the read in under half an hour, one does feel like reading more from her. Oh well. Maybe next time, eh?



Sunday, November 17, 2019

From #WeOnlyTalkBooks Episode 2 : Books about books & reading

Cross Posted from Episode 2 : Books about books & reading

We are back with the second episode where we talk about some books about Books & reading and some special focus on the book - End of Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.



( More on the blog linked above)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Review: The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya


The Speaking Stone
by Ratnadip Acharya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Speaking Stone by Ratnadip Acharya
~Book Tour~
11th to 17th November


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We all have heard stories from our grandparents or neighbors or random people about some of the little known places in our country or even state. If I think, I can at least recall one such story about the place I grew up in. And then there are the historical facts about every place. Imagining knowing such stories from a wonderfully written fiction book in a way that you end up feeling so familiar with the place and wanting to go there someday.

The speaking stone starts in Mumbai and introduces us to Saikat and one will immediately like this character. He comes across an interesting stone with a partial inscription on its back and gets obsessed with knowing its story and origin. Next, we meet Suvashini a historian whose search for a topic for her PhD, leads her to a mysterious book about a little known town. On a whim, to know more as the book disappears, she decides to visit the town and learn more about the history of the place. This quest leads them both to Tripura and particularly to Unakoti as they get engrossed in the story that the stones have to tell.

In parallel, we get to know the story of the people and the kingdom of Agartala in the 1900s as it was being written and played out in various emotions. soon both the stories seem to be a mirror image of each other and yet with their own drama and discoveries. The roots of these stories gave birth to the fantastical mystery in the current era and a befitting end for the star crossed lovers.

I enjoyed this story and the adventure a lot. The language was simple to follow, without any regional references and the interactions were very natural and easy flowing. I adored Saikat's character and would like reading another of his adventures again. I would have liked a little more depth to Suvashini's character since she had a great beginning in the story.

Overall a very enjoyable and informative book.

Book Links:



About the Author:
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Ratnadip Acharya is the author of two successful novels, Life is Always Aimless... Unless you love it
and Paradise Lost & Regained. He is a columnist for the Speaking Tree in The Times of India. He contributed many write-ups in different collections of Chicken Soup for the Soul.
He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Sophia, and son, Akash.


Contact the Author:



View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

#Podcast : We only talk books - Ep 1 : Favorites



Three book lovers and endless conversations = Podcast.
Because why not!

I have a new podcast with two of my favorite book bloggers - Leo & DDS. Check the first episode about us here -





Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Believe Me By J.P Delaney


                         'Believe Me' was first published a few years back in another name by ad-man Tony Strong.The book was not a very big success and was soon forgotten. But after his new found success as the author of 'Girl Before' under the pseudonym, J.P.Delaney, he decided to extensively rewrite the book and the result is 'Believe Me'.
                         Claire is a small time actress who because of immigration issues is working for a divorce law firm.Her job is to entrap straying husbands.But when one of her clients get murdered and her husband becomes the prime suspect,the investigating team decides to make use of her talent to lure their suspect into a confession.But pretty soon, she realizes that she has fallen in love with her target.Is there a way out for her?
                        'Believe Me' aspires to be a psychological crime thriller(of the 'gone Girl','The Girl On The Train',kind).The Protagonist,Claire Wright,having a troubled past and personality issues is one with questionable intentions and the reader never truly 'trust' her or her actions.Patrick, her counterpart, the translator of controversial French Poet Charles Baudelaire, is also portrayed as a man with grey shades and dubious intentions.I kind of liked how J.P Delaney has tried to draw parallels between Claire's story and Baudelaire's life and his encounters with the women he loved.
                      To be very honest, the book works in bits and pieces.One of the many issues I have with this book is it's length and the illogical sequences. After a point,the whole set up looks quite artificial. Even the reason/circumstances leading to Claire going under-cover to trap the culprit is also hardly convincing.Delaney has tried to cover the logical issues in his plot by throwing twists at you in regular intervals. While some of them works, quite a few don't. Neverthless, this one is a decent thriller if a twisty,mindless psychological thriller is what you are looking for!

On the whole,I'm giving this one a 2.9 out of 5.

-nikhimenon


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Regional:19 cANAL rOAD BY sREEBALA k mENON


19 Canal Road is an award winning collection of personal experiences of Sreebala K Menon, when she was a paying guest in Chennai.The book is a satirical take on life in Chennai in the late 90 s and has a host of characters who are funny as well as genuine.Though these write-ups first came in Gruhalakshmi almost two decades back and in the book form 16-17 years ago,it hasn't taken the life out of it.The book is indeed an interesting read!

-nikhimenon

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Best Seller By Ahmed Faiyaz


                     Indian writing in English (the popular/urban pulp kind) did get an enormous boost in the early 2000s, when Chetan Bhagat brought out his record breaking best seller, 'Five Point Someone'. It not only proved that there was a market for that kind of stuff (read urban fluff) but also paved way for many new publishing houses and revived quite a number of old ones.Best Seller from Ahmed Faiyaz is a satirical take on the new age Indian(English) Publishing arena and how things work out in the back end.
                    Akshay Mathur, is an out-of-work editor of a defunct literary magazine in UK.His debut work as an author has just flopped big time and he also has debt running to half a million in London.So when he is assigned to India to turn around Kalim, an ailing Indian Publisher, he is not left with too many choices.In a world of misfits and has-beens , Akshay has to work really hard to find his own voice. Also joining him in his mission are Anya Malik, the pretty lass,the practical and street smart Zorah Kalim , a Bollywood heart throb who wants to get his work published.Will Mathur succeed in his mission to turn Kalim into a leading publishing house?
                    Coming to the positives, Ahmed Faiyaz has written a fast paced,slick book which shows some light on the cut-throat world of Indian Publishing.There aren't too many characters and the overall tone of the book is largely light hearted.
                   On the downside,though the theme of the book had a lot of potential,for some strange reason,the author hasn't really bothered to go much deeper into the murkier world of publishing.The characters are quite shallow and one dimensional and for the large part of the book I couldn't fathom why the world was so seemingly obsessed with Mathur and his small publishing firm.

Overall I'm giving a 2.5 out of 5 for this book. It's a light,harmless read! 

-nikhimenon

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Moving Shadow -electrifying bengali pulp fiction

                   
                  A few years back, Westland released a book titled : The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction. If my memory is right, the book came out in two volumes and it apparently featured the English translations of  some of the most celebrated works of 70 s-80 s Tamil Pulp Fiction.I badly wanted to read those books then, but for some reason I have never been able to read them yet.
                The Moving Shadow, is a similar attempt on Bengali Pulp Fiction by the award winning translator ,Arunava Sinha (incidentally the jacket cover of both books are also strikingly similar).
                 The book is basically divided into two parts. While the first half is a collection of four crime stories written by some of the biggest names of Bengali Pulp(Premendra Mitra,Swapan Kumar,Vikramaditya,Muhammed Zafar Iqbal) , the second half (Satyajit Ray,Adirsh Bardhan,Gobindolal Bandhyopadhyay,Bhabhani Mukhopadhyay) comprises of an equal number of carefully hand picked horror stories. Though some of the stories were first written almost 60-70 years back (evident from the descriptions and the dates mentioned in them), they never fail to engage and intrigue the average reader.
                 Of the four crime stories featured in the first part, I liked the first one the most (Parashar Sharma makes a bid).It tells the story of a multi-millionaire and his spoilt son. The suspense was good and the climax twist was also un-predictable. The second story, ‘Moving Shadow’ about the escapades of a mad scientist, though too far fetched was also entertaining (provided you don’t take it too seriously).The third one, ‘The Secret Agent’, incidentally the longest one in this collection is some sort of a spy-crime-thriller which badly needed some better editing. It’s not only over-long but also gets monotonous after a point. There are too many characters also in the story which confuse the reader after a point.However the loose ends get tied neatly towards the end and the twist is also neatly done. Copotronic Love is about a robot which is madly in love with a woman. An illogical,yet interesting short story, this one is.
                 Among the four horror stories ('Bhuto','The Moon is Back','Saradindu and this body','Foreshadowed' featured in this book, my pick is 'Saradindu and this body',about a doctor with mental illness penned by Gobindolal Bandyopadhyay.The story has got a killer twist which manages to send a chill down your spine.
               Arunava Sinha deserves accolades for his wise selection of stories as well as for the translation which is quite neatly done. The language is pretty easy-to-read and the editing is also crisp.

On the whole, I’m giving a 3 out of 5 for this anthology. It’s a fun read!

-nikhimenon
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Review: A Dead Man's Trials by Jagadesh Sampath

A Dead Man's Trials
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a story of Mr December who is sent to hell after death. Since he questions it, he is given a chance to judge five cases to decide whether the person needs to be sent to heaven or hell. If he correctly decides the case result, he is promised to be sent to heaven.

Through these five stories, the author has raised some questions on human nature, beliefs, and intentions behind an action. In the end, Mr December realizes that he had been correctly sen to hell, even though he had always thought himself to be on the right path. This is a short and powerful collection of stories that make one look at yourself and the world with a new light. I would have liked to know more about Mr December and the reason he was sent to hell. But, perhaps in the next book. This 58 page long (or short) book is one of the most memorable ones for me this year.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Opening Night by Diksha Basu


                         Diksha Basu is better known for her satirical , moving take on Indian Urban Middle class,'The Windfall'. 'Opening Night'(2012), Basu's debut novel which came out much before her break out work is an average chic-lit ,at best. It is the story of twenty something Naiya Kapur and her life in Mumbai.
                     Naiya Kapur, our protagonist is a Non Resident Indian who after suddenly getting hit by the acting bug has migrated to Mumbai and is on the look out for that 'big break' in Bollywood.Sadly, as any other newbie (read the non-filmi background), she has to face multiple rejections and try her luck at 'dubious',sleazy auditions.Meanwhile she gets into a relationship with Jay, the ex-model-turned producer. 'Opening Night' is all about Naiya's tryst with page 3 parties, fake auditions,fame and her neurotic boyfriend.
                     If you have read the above para, you might have figured out by now that there is nothing that differentiates 'Opening Night' from the n-number of Bollywood chick-lit works which came out in the earlier part of this decade.That exactly is the problem with this book.I myself have read atleast half a dozen books with similar story line.But to give Diksha due credit,'Opening Night' by and large maintains it's light hearted tone and never takes itself too seriously.It is a harmless,light read .Nothing more,nothing less!

On the whole,I'm giving it a 2.75 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Murder Games by James Patterson and Howard Roughan


                     I am no big fan of the assembly line thrillers that come out of the James Patterson syndicate. As a matter of fact, I try to avoid them as far as possible since most of the recent works from the JP factory (books written by one of his many collaborators , but invariably featuring 'his' name in 'bigger fonts' in the jacket cover)have been pretty medicore. I picked up 'Murder Games'(also published as 'Instinct' in some territories) as it had been recently made into a successful television show. I must say that the book turned out to be much better than I expected.
                   The setting and the basic premise are pretty generic.There is a serial-killer on the run and our protagonist ,Elizabeth Needham is an NYPD detective who is in charge of this case .She turns to the brilliant professor, Dr Dylan(whose book on criminal behaviour the killer seems to be following) for help .Meanwhile the upstate tabloids have found a nick name for the killer, "The Dealer".Murder Games is basicallt the cat-and-mouse game between "The Dealer" and our investigators-Elizabeth and Dr Dylan.
                  The twists were interesting and the climax was also pretty decent.I kind of liked how the author(s) etched out Dr Dylan's personal life.Like anyother book from the JP syndicate, the language is pretty easy-to-read and the chapters are also short.

On the whole, I'm giving it a 3 out of 5.

-nikhimenon

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Review: Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Beyond All Dreams Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“After all, everything in here is just pieces of paper with words and lines on them. 
They're not even very valuable. Pieces of paper with words and lines on them have the ability to change the world...They always have.”

Beyond all dreams introduces us to a librarian Anna who lost her father and has never been able to accept the official explanation for her father's death on the ship that disappeared in the sea. During her work in the library of Congress, she meets Luke Callahan who was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen until he picks fights with the speaker and is eventually sent to the house of commons. Though opposite to each other in many ways, they strike a friendship easily. Luke wishes to impress Anna so he joins forces with her to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Set against the backdrop of Spanish-American war , the story showed many aspects of peace efforts and how the price for peace is sometimes too high on the people responsible for it.

I have always liked a story that could add people's view of some of the famous historical events. I have always wondered about normal folks impacted by wars, peace talks and some of the unexplained events in history. This is one of those stories where the hunt for truth by Anna leads her to make unexpected alliances and the truth is not easy to keep a secret. This is also a story of troubled families struggling for generations to fix themselves and be better for the kids. There was an easy comfortable friendship, some romance and a lot of mystery and passion for the ideals to keep this book going.

Such stories with a strong female cast also shows the paths our ancestors have taken to break out of the norms and open opportunities for generations to come. 

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Review: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book The Library Book by Susan Orlean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"In total, four hundred thousand books in Central Library were destroyed in the fire. An additional seven hundred thousand were badly damaged by either smoke or water or, in many cases, both. The number of books destroyed or spoiled was equal to the entirety of fifteen typical branch libraries. It was the greatest loss to any public library in the history of the United States.” 


The Library Book, tells the story of the fire in April of 1986 that damaged or destroyed more than one million books in Los Angeles' Central Library.  It is a sad account to read in the beginning as the author catalogs all that is lost in the fire - the manuscripts , the first editions , the music, and the theater plays recorded in the library that are lost forever. But as I read the book, it also shows the power of books to bring people together and to make a real difference. The book starts with the author first listening about the fire on a tour of the library and she then starts reading more about it. So we get to read about a usual day at the library and what happened on the day of the incident. We get to know of the prime suspect in this case and how the case finally ends. 

The book goes into many tangents - how libraries are run, history of the LA library, its prominent librarians and their contributions to the library, different times when the books were destroyed and burnt as acts of terror or attempt to prove one culture's power over the other. It is like a collection of stories that revolve around books, reading and the growth of LA library from its inception to where it stands today. Along with all this, we also witness some historical lessons and how all systems stand on the shoulders of visionaries who have toiled to make the world a little better. Some of the librarians were inspiring and I felt my admiration for them grow immensely.  

The book might get a little boring in places but then the very next chapter hooks you back to the story. It is not a casual read but it will definitely interest many readers who like to read about books and reading. I had only heard of libraries as a place where we could find books to borrow but before coming to Canada, I never knew what a heaven the library system in Western countries is and how it is a safe community space for all - readers or not.  This book has made me more resolute to build something similar one day in India - even if it starts with a personal library first. 

Here is a youtube video on this fire and the events after that transpired. 

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Monday, October 7, 2019

QBR: SUSPICION BY FRIEDERICH DURRENMATT

   
                                                       Suspense
                                                       156 + pages
                                                       Pushkin Vertigo
                                                       Originally Published in 1962
                                                       RT Rating: 3.2/5

This work first came out in the 1950's, almost two decades ago, but still it makes for an interesting read. 

The Verdict:This vintage thriller is quite an engaging read!
Synopsis: Inspector Barlach is suffering from Cancer. He notices that a successful Swiss Surgeon bears a striking resemblance to an infamous war criminal.Suspicion is Barlach's journey to un-mask the criminal hiding in plain sight. Or is it all a ploy by someone with vested interests?

The Good:the setting, the characters,suspense

The Bad:predictable at times
RecommendationsBorrow it!

-nikhimenon

#PratsReads - Bookish Naughty Or Nice Tag

I recently re-discovered bookish tags on blogs ( though some lovely book bloggers I follow on twitter). While I was wondering which one to ...