Jul 3, 2019

Raavan ... a tale of many expectations and failures...

Raavan.... Amish's third one in the Rama Chandra Series. Release after a long wait of 2 years.... obviously the wait meant that the expectations built up. It meant that loyalists read and reread the earlier two in the series. It meant that the narrative was expected to live up to the built-up. The WHYs? and WHOs? were discussed and extrapolated to make sense.

in short.... the book was doomed to fall short for the sheer late release.

So now that I have had the privilege of finishing the pre-ordered author signed copy... here's the good and the bad of it.

The story is fast paced, and jumps quite often coz it covers a large time-span. While it moves ahead at a relatively smooth pace, it does leave the reader gasping at times. I found myself going back a paragraph or two so I could fully grasp whatever was happening.

Raavan as a character, starts off good. In fact halfway through the book, I even thought, I might fall for the bad guy. But soon after that the narrative kind of loses the focus, and the character arc just doesn't move. So yes... he's a bad guy. And yes, he does some really weird stuff... But I already knew that even BEFORE I picked up the book...what I was "hoping" in the book was to understand the "why" of it all... and that is where my disappointment lies... the why of it all, is so flimsy... so under developed is that even when you feel sad about him, you don't sympathise with him. which I think is a BIG failure.

The narrative in this book is particularly different from Amish's earlier works. So much so, that at a point I was wondering if I was reading him or reading Devdutt Pattnaik. And some parts of the book it got so unlike Amish that I wondered if he employed Ghost Writers on this book. Which isn't anything unheard of...especially when an Author is going through personal loss like Amish had to.

What it also lacks is Amish's touch or notorious habit of adding current events into his narrative. There is a small presence of it in his observation of Temples and them being governed by the Royalties instead of temple trusts...but that is it. Usually in his stories, he weaves current affairs without fail. Lack of which also supports my theory of ghost writers.... but again... its a theory.

Overall, the book leaves me unsatisfied. The narrative, the characters and story had great potential...but sadly falls short on delivering it to the fullest.

It also came as a surprise to me that this isn't a trilogy, instead a series. While the story has the elements that needs to told/unfolded.... I'm afraid that a narrative this vast can easily spiral into an unending and uninspiring offshoots. Like at one point there a 'literal' mention that animosity between Vishwamitra and Vashishth is a story for another book...And frankly, it makes me apprehensive about the whole, more than 4 books in the series.

as a whole, i wouldn't stop you from reading Raavan. But I wouldn't be recommending the series with as much pleasure, as I did Shiva Trilogy either.

Aug 23, 2017

Show of Evil.... Martin Vail vs Aron Stampler

Show of EvilShow of Evil by William Diehl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Martin Vail vs Aron Stampler...

Back in April 2006, when I first read Primal Fear, I knew I wanted to know more. About both of these people... I was intrigued and mystified... a little terrified also... especially by the parting statement from Aron.

As the sequel to the chilling and entertaining Primal Fear, Show of Evil is a good book to read. If you have not read the Primal Fear, you might want to pick and read that one first. Because its a sequel in the most sequel like fashion....though it shares information about the earlier book, if you truly want to experience the thrill...

As novels go, I still prefer reading the first one. As a standalone novel, Show of Evil might fall short on intensity and flow. It misses out on the brilliance of Marty Vail as a strategist and risk taker. In Show of Evil, you see Marty as being referred as both the skills however, there's hardly any show of him actually being both. You miss out on his and judge's banter and discussions. Those I believe were a treat for the reader in Primal Fear.

So, in and all, Show of Evil stands on the good graces of Primal Fear without much of its own merit to shine. There are some fast paced action sequences and schemes... but nothing much to its individual credit. If you have read Primal Fear, you might enjoy Show of Evil as a followup to read... however, as a standalone... I'm not so sure.

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Jun 21, 2017

Back to school...Magic School this time...

I've never read, or heard about Holly Black. Cassandra Clare was another story all together. I've been hooked to her Shadowhunter world for a while now. When I finished one of her latest "Lady Midnight" and the next one in the series "Lord of Shadows" was a week away from being published; the restless reader in me wanted the magic fix... and Magisterium was offered as "you might also like" suggestion...

Reeling from the overdose of emotional turmoil of the The Dark Artifices, I picked up the first one from the series... "The Iron Trial"

Now, if you ever have read Ms. Clare; you know that there is going to be a lot of things going on, especially emotion heavy stuff. There's going to be young people and their always on the verge of explosion emotions. They are going to be shouldering unexpected and unprecedented responsibilities and would be expected to handle things and situations that they clearly are NOT prepared for. So, when Iron Trial didn't meet any of those expectations...

Mind you, I;m not saying I did not like it... I'm just saying, this was a truly surprising couple... There is a young boy, who has magic in him. He's got an overprotective father who doesn't want him to attend a magic school. He ends up in the school despite his efforts to flunk it. As time goes, he learns to LIKE the school and even makes friends... including a furry one at that. (Any narrative that has a pawed canine-like animal in it, and I'm SOLD). And as he (the boy, not the canine) is getting hang of the whole school and magic, we learn that the 'hero' of the story is also the 'villain' of it...

Then it becomes a narrative of struggle of identity crisis surrounded magic and adolescence emotions than a fight between good guy and the bad guy where you know the good triumphs over the evil...

And for me, that was what hooked me. The idea of MAYBE there is a chance that we are embarking on a journey where the story is not going through expected route. That MAYBE we are going to enjoy reading something that will surprise as it progresses...

Surprisingly the second one in the series managed to continue the trend. Callum Hunt and his second year in Magisterium proved to be as exciting and unexpected and as unpredictable as the first one. The friendships bloomed in the first grow fonder, the bonds grow deeper, new alliances are formed and old one's rejuvenate. Villains change gears, and frenemies surprise. I'm actually looking forward to Callum's third year. And I don't really want to dwell on the fact that the author duo is still writing the rest of the series.. and its another 2 books before I go on that... "WAIT till next one is released". Going by the speed I finished the first two.... its just a matter of 3 more weeks before the wait begins.

Till then... off to the third year of Magisterium we go...

Review on GoodReads

Sep 29, 2016

Cursed Child....

I agree. I'm an escapist. I prefer pages of books than human interaction. I find my peace in the fictional worlds hidden in words on pages. The only way for my overactive mind to stop driving me insane is letting it get immersed in the magic of alternate realities caged in the books. So, when one of the most celebrated author of a fantastic magical world decides to release a new installment of her already super-successful series... of course the little nerd in me jumps with joy.
Now, let me be first to admit that I can not claim that I grew up with the "Boy who lived"... but he has been a part of my life for a long. And like the nerd that I am; he and his world occupied a large part of my brain for a significant amount of time. I've even gotten into heated debates and trivia challenges about the world of Hogwarts...and won them too. I read the more than admirable Fan Fiction by G. Norman Lippert; and dragged my best friend to read it too. So when I could get my hands on a copy of the latest "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child".... I literally gobbled it up.

It was a pleasure to visit Hogwarts again. Like visiting old friends. And just like a school reunion...this is an experience that makes you take stock. Things have changed, and they are the same. People have grown up and yet, they haven't really changed. The story in itself is a great story, however it might not be as effective ...if you are not familiar with the earlier stories (which is kind of hard these days with re-runs of HP saga)...

Its a story about grown up Harry. It's not Harry's story though. Like most of the other books in the series, this one is also about friendship, loyalty and love. Friendship forged by the hands of luck, sometimes without logic and reasons. Friendship between like minded, and sometimes between long standing enemies. Loyalty for friends which is unquestionable. Loyalty to causes, no matter their validity, and loyalty to family, no matter how dysfunctional. And lastly of love...not the romantic kind; but the one that is bred out of companionship and friendship and sometimes even out of hate. It also is about breaking norms. Norms of names, groups and established images.

And while writing this, I realized, that my views... have changed. Seriously... I no longer look at the story as mere fiction. I'm looking at it from, dare I say....a mature point of view. Like the Harry in the story, I have grown up. Like him, I have a son that I don't understand sometimes. Like him, I'm dealing with finding words that tell him that I scold him for his own good. And maybe, like Harry, I would realize in time that what I think I want for him to have, is what I would have liked to have myself.... phew... Heavy...

Coming back to the review...

If you like the world of Hogwarts, and wondered what became of your favorite characters... I guess you should stop reading the review and grab a copy of the book yourself. It might not be all that you thought they will grow up to be...but its all fun to know. Like any other fiction novel...if you are looking at quality content...stop reading the review, go pickup some auto-bio or something...

Just one last note... I really would like to check out the theatrical performance of the script... though, I am not sure if I'll digest a black Hermione. I ain't racist or anything, but she was supposed to have ginger frizzy hair... have you seen a black kid with natural ginger hair???...or may be its Emma Watson that ruined that image for me to accept it... in spite of that, I really want to see how it all unfolds on a stage... it would be really kool

Go ahead, give it a try and come back to tell me...If you agree with me...

May 3, 2016

Enchanted jungle hiding around the concrete one.... City of Bones

When you are browsing a bookstore, there are some books that you pick up in a glance, some you disregard without a doubt, some are forgotten even while you are staring at their covers, and then there are some that you don't pick up but you can't let go of either. These books appear everywhere you go, in stores, in hands of fellow travellers/commuters, on displays, even FB or other frequently browsed webpages. They seem to be following you everywhere. They turn up when you are least expecting.

City of Bones was one of those for me. It appears almost everywhere I seemed to look in past few days. (The other one is Game of Thrones... I ain't falling for that one, I swear)

So when I stumbled across a completely markless barely touched copy of it in an used bookstore last week, I gave up the fight and paid $3 demanded for this one.

One of the major reason for me to stay away was "I have WAYYYYYY too many worlds and fictional characters jammed in my head already to invite a few more to add complications". And its true, from LOTR, Harry Potter till Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase, I've witches, wizards, magicians, vamps and even gods running around in my head crowding my brain to fight around with reality. Did I REALLY need another set of demon hunters and their world invading what little normal brain capability  I've had left?

The simple answer to it is.... YES.

Like the eternal, 'there's always space for ice-cream'; in my head, there will always be space for a new set of fictional characters and their world.

Those who know me, know that I will not abandon a book if it doesn't hold my attention long enough. I've done that on several occasions. I'm not one of those people who will force themselves to read through a book just because I started reading it. Fortunately, City of Bones did not fall in that category. Canssandra Clare does a fair job at creating a world that lurks behind and around the concrete jungle around us. Its a world or the concept of the world that we are well familiar with from Harry and / or Percy Jackson novels. A sort of magical / ethereal world that exists just beyond the human reach, a world that is veiled behind glamour by those who know more than a mere mortal should or could understand and withstand. A world that is both fascinating and dangerous for the uninitiated. It is into this world where the protagonist Clary takes us. A journey that is filled with secrets about species, about people and about the history of a world that is completely unknown to us.

I will have to applaud Ms. Clare for a storyline. For a story that spans around 500 pages, it never gets dull. there are always things happening. Another thing I will have to appreciate is the no of characters in the novel. With the amount of things that are happening, the actual no of people involved in the narrative are relatively smaller, including all the smaller roles. For someone like me, who would forget her own name if it was written on my nameplate; it is a pleasant experience to actually read a whole novel and remember who the story is talking about at any given point in time. Its a fairly active narrative. Things keep happening, and no matter how bizarre they appear to be, they make sense in terms of the flow of the story.

I can't / won't say that its a story that is ground breaking, or out of the world. Despite the newness of the novel, it still seems like an age old story. A charismatic but fallen lord, uprising about the regime, betrayed by his own. A scared woman trying to save her child from someone / something from her past. A teenager who finds herself in middle of a crisis that she had nothing to do with. A battle of good vs evil.... the list of familiar goes on. Ms. Clare brings new characters, in a new setting with the same age-old, tried-n-tested formula.

so, what's the verdict?

well, I liked it. Its something that every escapist would enjoy. A respite from the same-old same-old reality of everyday life. But if you are looking for a break-taking, fast-paced, mind blowing adventures... you might have to wait till September, 2016...coz that's when Matthew Reilly's new novel is releasing. Till then, give this one a try. You might have more space in your brain for a new world with new characters and plot-twists....

Apr 9, 2016

Primal Fear - William Diehl

How do you know you've found a new fav author? It's when you finish a book and can't get rid of the last statement in the novel for a long time.... When the so called Last statement sends chills down your spine and you stare wide eyed to your own reflection in your vanity instead of going about your nightly routine.

If you've ever been through my blog, you know I'm a sucker for Thrillers.I usually steer clear of the
law / courtroom dramas. I was out of my last read and was going through my currently scanty collection of books (moving countries has taken a toll on my book collection, though I am working on replenishing it... I currently have less than a dozen books at my disposal, however more about that at a later time may be)... That's when I picked up Primal Fear by William Diehl. A relatively unknown author to me, the back cover said its about a murder trial. I wasn't really sure what was I expecting of the novel. However, 20 pages into the book, I knew I was looking forward to reading it.

Now, I don't really understand much about Law per say; nor do I understand great about Psychiatry. Through my extensive TV viewing experience, I did however had some expectations about the premise and the plot twists in the story. Which like a dependable author Mr. Diehl did come through. There were some that I did not see coming; and some were really clich├ęd. The flow of the novel did satisfy my appetite though. The character of Marty did make me curious about the actual trial. And somewhere I did feel a bit let down about the length of the trial. Felt like all the build-up was a bit too better than the actual result.

HOWEVER, what lacked in the length of it, was compensated with the sheer magnificence of the drama unfolded in the courtroom. It was fast paced, understandable and wittily written. It was fun to read and once I started I could NOT stop. however, I have to agree, that the topping on the cake was definitely the spine chilling very last statement of the novel.... I still feel goosebumps on my arm just thinking about it....

I hope Mr. Diehl writes more about Marty. I like his character. There's a lot to be said about him and lot to know. Hopefully, I find more about him and his legal adventures. Till next time....

Mar 17, 2016

Five Kingdoms .... Brandon Mull

Its hard to find good fiction these days. I'm spoiled by the likes of Rick Riordan, Matthew Reilly and Sarwat Chadda. Amazing mix of mytho and magic,  heroes and unattainable tasks, high-speed action sequences and the inevitable happy endings... I live for stuff like this. Sadly, there are very few authors that I've come across that can match MR's speed, Ricks details and Sarwat's ingenuity with known mytho. Ive had way too many disappointments with new authors that picking up a book to read...has become a TASK.

However, the hope springs eternal and so with a great apprehension I picked up the Five Kingdoms. One of the few books I allowed myself to buy in Australia. And I'm happy to report that this one delivered.

It is NOT built on a known mytho. and it is NOT placed in a known universe. And unlike wayyyyy to many other newbie authors, this one does NOT borrow from Masters like JRRT. This one is a brand new, superfast, fantastical journey that any fan of fiction can and will enjoy.

Brandon Mull brings forth a story that is placed in an in-between place... its Earth but not Earth. Kind of like a parallel world. The geography of the place and physics of it is kind of murky. But frankly, I don't care. The story is interesting enough that I don't have to worry about the physics and geography. The story is absolutely gripping and novel. A young kid on trick-or-treating on Halloween gets kidnapped with a bunch of other kids. He escapes the kidnappers but still decides to follow his friends so that he can help them and instead finds himself in an alternate universe / reality where Magic is real and the sky has 10 moons. :)

Now that's is purely MY KIND OF BOOK.

As life would have it, this one isn't a stand alone novel. This is the first of a 6 books series. I'm still trying to figure out if I'm happy with that or not. But eventually, I will end up buying all of them. and if he is as good in the next one, I know I will buy his other series as well.

I also kind of like the author. The author note at the end of the book is super kool. An author that accepts that he is technologically challenged and tells you first hand that he might not reply to all your emails might be just my kind of person. It makes me want to go and meet him and be friends with him. The list of book series that lists and introduces to readers, is a quiet smart way of advertising. Its a great way to know his views on his own work.

So, coming back to the Sky Raiders.... the first book of The Five Kingdoms Series...

I love the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading Rick Riordan or Matthew Reilly. This one is definitely a great addition to my bludgeoning fiction collection.