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. 

Mar 7, 2016

Martin Misunderstood....Karin Slaughter...

This isn't my first Karin Slaughter book. My earlier tryst with her came from the less than impressive "Faithless". I found that one to be not upto my liking. However, I don't usually give up on an author just coz of one book, so when I stumbled across Martin Misunderstood, and found the back cover to be intriguing I picked it to read.

Its a rather slim book, less than 200 pages. Took me just over a day to finish. (blame my slow reading on 'other' responsibilities, NOT the book) Here's what the back cover says about it...

A darkly comic tale about Mr Less-Than-Average in an average world.

Martin Reed is the proverbial butt of everyone’s jokes. Working as a glorified accountant at Southern Toilet Supply and still living with his cantankerous mother, he has become resigned to the world in which he lives — the school bullies now pick on him in the workplace, women still spurn him and his arch enemy is now his supervisor. So when he leaves home one morning to find his car bumper hanging right off, he thinks it’s nothing more than the usual pranks his toxic colleagues like to play on him.

But everything soon conspires against Martin when he arrives at work to find the police on site, including a beautiful Dutch detective with a gold badge in one hand and a list of questions for Martin in the other. A co-worker has been brutally murdered and her body abandoned in a ditch. And the overwhelming evidence points to Martin – especially when he can’t or won’t admit that he has an alibi.

When a second victim is found in the company bathroom, things really conspire against Martin. The one bright star on his otherwise bleak horizon is the beautiful and sympathetic Detective Anther Albada, but even she’s beginning to have her doubts about his innocence. Could Martin be guilty? Or is he just misunderstood?

This one is a cracker of a book. I can't really claim Ms. Slaughter has redeemed herself from the disappointing Faithless; but after reading this one, I believe I would pick up more of her stand alone books without hesitation.

Martin Misunderstood is a story of a below-average person who finds himself  to be a murder suspect. Ms. Slaughter does a fine job of creating a character that demands sympathy and as we read ahead commands a sense of incredulity. Other characters in the story are equally unique. They make you feel a range of emotions for them, pity, misery, incredulity and sometimes even disgust. The story is rather flimsy and frankly a little creepy. And thus ends up making this an interesting read. When it finally ends, you are left feeling a little surreal.

If you are feeling down, and need a bit of upliftment, you can definitely give Martin Misunderstood a try. You might come out of it feeling rather good about yourself... :)

Jan 29, 2016

The Scion...

So, the famed author of Shiva Trilogy writes again... This time he writes about the Maryadapurshottam, Eka-patni Eka-Vachani Prabhu ShriRam. So, one who dislikes the man who deserted his pregnant wife coz a third-person raised a question.... I wasnt sure I wanted to read Amish's latest book. but when your best friend tells you that a book is interesting and that you should read it... you can't flat out deny, I read it.

It is the story of Lord Ram.... No shock there...
It isn't your regular retelling of the Ramayan... well, that much was kind of expected from Amish.
He creates a new world with familiar surroundings... another expected thing
The SPEED of this novel is rather fast... That was not something I expected
The concept of Nagas, Malayputras and Vayuputras is carried forward... or carried backward, since this narrative happens BEFORE the Shiva Trilogy one...

The whole deal kind of makes me think of George Lukas and the Star Wars series... being made in reverse / semi-reverse manner. Though, I must admit that I'm not very impressed by the whole novel, I do think it will feature to be a good read when the series moves forward. And when I say that I'm not impressed by basically due to that Amish has already used a lot of things / premises / ideas in Shiva trilogy. Add to that the fact that Ramayan is kind of widely read and re-read countless times, it does make the story kind of know-it-all. Nothing in the narrative or the premise causes me to sit up and take notice... I kind of hoped better from Amish.

So, in all... If you have read and enjoyed Shiva Trilogy and DON'T expect an out of the world experience from this one... you might just enjoy it. I did enjoy reading it, and am looking forward to reading the next one's in the series.

Till then.... Happy Reading...