Jan 25, 2014

Sirens spell danger... and sometimes a complete surprise...

Once again there comes a time when I apprehensively pick up a book to review...and I get pleasantly surprised.

When usually I get a request from a relatively unknown author, I am more than apprehensive… kinda like that Hindi proverb, “Dudh ka jala chhas bhi funk ke pita hai” types. But then the bookworm in me can’t really pass up an opportunity to explore an excellent new find. I mean, how can I? A chance to get a free book? You would have to be silly to pass up an opportunity like that… J

So, once again with growing apprehension I picked up Kindle to read “Sirens Spell Danger”. Result of collaborative efforts of three completely unknown names… an e-book published by three bloggers. The Fool ,Radha Sawana and C. Suresh. The request came to me in December but it took me better part of Jan to actually find the time and inclination to read. My only wish, I had done this earlier.

What C. Suresh wrote when he first contacted me for review was that they are three people from three walks of life writing an action/crime novella. He introduces himself and his co-author as passionate writers. Offers following as an introduction of the novella…

Femme Fatale – C. Suresh: Lured by a sexy siren, Vicky is mistaken for a secret agent, kidnapped, tortured and slated for death. Will he survive and save Bangalore from going up in flames?
Bella Donna – Radha Sawana: There is a serial killer loose in the city leaving mysterious messages around the bodies of the victims. Are the messages a challenge to the police or a siren call to lure another victim?
Bellary – The Fool: Jay is sent to Bellary to investigate a possible ISI plot. Was it merely a murky political plot or was there something more sinister in the offing? And why were two women suddenly singing siren songs of love?

He also continues in the mail that:

We would love to have the book reviewed on your blog as well as on Kindle and Goodreads. We do expect you to give an honest review and are not seeking to merely have the stories praised.
And here I am with my honest review about a collective novella called “Sirens Spell Danger”. In a single word… it was “unexpected”.
I did not expect two IIM grads and a Research Chemist to write a thriller that would captivate me enough to finish reading in 2 days. I definitely did not expect to like it and certainly was not ready to be excited by the story. Those who know that my appetite for thriller is honed by Matthew Reilly’s books know how hard it is for me to actually enjoy a thriller without being smug. But by gods, this was an exception. And I was glad I ever said yes to read and review.
The authors, though novice are adept at writing for the genre. They know and develop the plot with a quick and easy manner with an ease that makes you doubt this is a debut novel… then you realize that they are bloggers and you know that they know what they are doing. You get a glimpse of the author and their lives through the things that they write about, for example when you are reading Bella Donna, you know it is written by a chemist… but what makes it wonderful to read is that even if the premise of the story is pure Chem, you don’t feel like an alien. The author makes sure to crease out any inconvenience reading so much science can cause. And that I think makes the whole experience really exciting. You see a glimpse of the hand behind the pen (or on the keyboard in this case) and see motivations through the narrative. And in a single sentence, you enjoy the experience because its not what you might expect. J
My sincere apology to the author trio for the late review, but heartfelt congratulations for a superb effort and I hope to see much more fantabulous work from all three in near future. As a blogger and a reviewer, I would ALWAYS be ready to read and review.

Jan 23, 2014

When stories grow old and new one's emerge from the good byes....

What does an end of a series mean to you?

Personally, I believe like I'm saying final goodbyes to my close friends. it hurts to know that we would not be meeting again. Like we are walking two separate paths and will not meet again. This emotional bonding that I have with series is usually why I shy away from fan-fictions. It feels like I’m betraying an old friend by reading about his world but not from his creator instead an imposter. Most of the times, fan-fiction is not even as good as the original one. It’s either a diluted version of the story’s tangent or a horrendous misaligned inappropriate picture of what ‘could’ have been. Both scenarios bleak as they can ever be. So when one of friends came to me suggesting I read a fanfic for Harry Potter series, I was more than apprehensive. I was downright sure, I would never read it. I downloaded the PDF which my friend had created by meticulously saving every “daily” chapter from the website, and for months together the book stayed hidden, under a myriad of e-books.

It was by a co-incident that I finally started reading the first one. And before I knew it, I was nose-deep in the story. Didn’t realize when the 1.5hour long travel to my office was over and it was time to shut the kindle off. If I say, I was anxious to get back to reading will be a gross understatement. The 8 hour wait that I had to endure working in office, ended up with me reading non-stop throughout the night, finishing the book at 5.30 in the morning.

That should be enough to tell you how much I enjoyed the book. If not, here’s a brief of what all I liked.
  •             Even though it is a fanfic, it does not dilute the original’s amazing charm.
  •             It’s a brilliantly written and constructed book… you can feel that the author really likes and understand the HP universe
  • He builds on the things happened till the 7th book… and he does not offend your sensibilities with blatant assumptions and disrespect
  • The story stands on its two own feet, even if you have ‘never’ heard or read HP, though knowing HP helps, but if you have not read HP(which is stupid to even consider)… you still will be able to enjoy the series
  • The author obviously has spent a lot of effort in creating a whole new world within the HP universe with equally interesting characters and facts and anecdotes.
  • I liked the way his characters are developed and had taken a life of their own rather than being simple shadows of the characters that we have grown to know and love.
  • They are lively, cheerful and everything that we come to expect from main characters of a long saga of books around mystery, magic and adventure.
  • The events that unfold in these universe are equally as magical as you want them to, full of adventure and muscle power that it needs and a dash of smiles and sprinkling of laughter that makes this as a completely lovely experience
  • As the series progresses, you see the base of the universe seeing issues and events that you would not have thought about seeing in HP universe. And that makes this better, bolder and more adult friendly than HP works.
  • The best part of the series is… there is not a single villain in the series. So the author has a free hand at developing the storyline as long or as short he wishes to…. Which means…. Lots of stories to follow J

If you want to see and read them... they are all available "http://www.jamespotterseries.com/"