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Books... Books... Books!

Looking for Alex

Looking for Alex - Marian Dillon http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/06/LookinForAlex.html

This story is about two best friends Beth and Alex, their friendship and the dynamics of their relationship.

When Alex goes missing all of a sudden one summer, Beth hopes that Alex has just run away while the whole town is left to imagine the worst. She soon follows Alex to London. But there even though she does find Alex, it is as if she actually lost her best friend because the girl she finds is not the girl she thought she knew. Though Beth continues to stay with Alex, fall for Fitz and live a different life, she eventually has to go back when her parents track her down. Now years later, a blast from the past reminds Beth of her friendship and that she truly never gave up on ‘finding’ Alex.

This is a full on emotional drama that touches the reader’s heart. Beth never really gets over losing her best friend and lives her life in the shadow of her missing best friend. She keeps her friend’s secret for the longest of times, but in the end it is apparent that Beth was more of a friend to Alex than the other way round. As the narration takes us to and back from that particular summer to the present, a lot is revealed slowly over the period of time. While we become really close to Beth, Alex remains more of a mystery and I would have loved to hear more about her.

Overall, it was a pretty interesting read!

An Affair to Remember!

An Affair to Remember! - Harkeerat Anand http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/06/AnAffairToRemember.html

When I picked this book up, without reading the blurb, I was ready for a cheesy romance. I was in mood for one too. This book is about the protagonist and his friend being stuck in a mundane job in a software company. While such a job is a dream for many, they are stuck in a position were 3-4 year junior guys with an MBA degree were earning more than them. This book is their journey of leaving the job in style and that of Ira Sharma!

The first and best thing about this book is the humour incorporated in the story. The author has a sense of humour that grabs your attention right from the beginning. From the chapter titles to the chapters themselves, humour is everywhere. The author narrates the story in a smooth manner that makes it easy to get to know the characters and their story in a smooth manner. The characters are well fleshed out and very true to life. They have a ‘real’ feeling somewhere even though some of their actions are a bit over the top. To be frank, the plot itself doesn’t have much potential. Around mid-way you know what is going to happen and that is exactly what happens in the end. But that hasn’t stopped the author from telling the story in style.

Overall, it was a fun read that had the pages turning on its own. The sarcasm alone makes it worth reading.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns - Rae Carson I like the fantasy world built by Rae Carson in this book.
I like Elisa. She is a strong character. I loved the way the author has portrayed the gradual change in her. And I just love Hector! I like the concept of the Godstone and can't wait to find out what Elisa's fate has in store for her.

The High Lord

The High Lord - Trudi Canavan A fitting conclusion to the series... And yes, I was right about the red herring.

Akkarin and Cery play a larger role in this book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about them. I am not sure about Savara's character though - she seemed forcefully inserted. Sonea's character played out well towards the end.

The common thing about this trilogy is after I finished reading each book, I felt that the book dragged on and could be done with less. But, this I only felt after finishing the books, while reading them I just kept turning the pages.

The Novice

The Novice - Trudi Canavan Sonea starts her classes with the regular summer intake. Being from the slums she is not openly welcome among the other students.

Sonea and Rothen's characters develop more and more. Sonea did get on my nerves at times with her independence and suffer in silence mentality. She could have saved herself a lot of trouble by asking for help and no one would blame her. I have come to love Rothen and Dannyl. Rothen's son also makes an appearance and Dorrien reminded me of the Weasley brothers. We also see a lot of Lorlen and Akkarin. Regin seems to be a typical bully.

There is a lot of action and the plot boils in. I am sensing a Huge Red Herring, but I have to wait till the next book to find out if I am right.

The Magicians' Guild

The Magicians' Guild - Trudi Canavan The first book in the series mainly focuses on Sonea and her friends. It is only in the second half that we see more of the Guild.

I like Sonea. She is smart, intelligent and fiercely independent. I like Cery too, though I am not sure if they are a good match. Rothen is an interesting and loveable chracters. I am in two minds about Lorlen & Akkarin.

Lots of action and a good plot. Loved it!

Gone

Gone - James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/Gone.html

When Michael Bennett captured and arrested Manuel Perrine, a ruthless drug dealer and charismatic leader, he thought he was done with the man. But that was until Perrine escaped. Once free he starts an all out war against his rivals and made things personal for the Bennetts. With a dangerous target on him and his family, the Bennetts are placed in witness protection and are relocated to a secluded California ranch where they live under assumed names and keep to themselves. Since Perrine continues to avoid capture, Bennett is called back into action as he had arrested the man in the first place.

Michael Bennett is a family man and when a villain targets his family, they make it highly personal for Bennett. Gone is definitely a captivating story filled with fun family moments, some drama and some adrenaline pumped action. The book continues to portray Bennett in a light that the series has been portraying him from the very beginning. It adds a little colour to his character now that his family is being targeted. However, his huge family fails to make a positive impression in this book. The children have varied characteristics yet nothing that holds our attention. In fact certain situations involving them seemed outright irritating.

The plot and the writing adhere to James Patterson’s style. A big plotline which is fairly easy to catch upto, small chapters and detailed description of situations and surroundings fill up the readers’ senses. While mostly this book felt disappointing, the detailed descriptions and the huge action sequence towards the end make up for much of it.

Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits

Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits - Rahul Pandita
I don’t feel qualified enough to review this one hell of an emotional rollercoaster.

This is a firsthand narration situation leading up to and of the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits. The author has documented his own family’s experience and that of those around him. The horrors that the people have faced are not entirely known and while some of us have the barest idea, the real picture is something that has never been openly painted before. Reading it now, from a young boy’s point of view and narrated in a grown and experienced man’s language, it is an experience that one has to feel for themselves.

From the religious differences to the different agendas and to the brutal killings, the author hasn’t spared us any details. Imagine having to flee from your own home not knowing when or if ever you would be able to come back to it. Imagine having you friends murdered for no fault of their own. Imagine women raped and children orphaned as a natural and regular occurrence… well the last one isn’t so hard to imagine as it is our nation’s reality. But still, the effect and the toll it took on people is not something to be taken lightly and the Author has done an absolutely brilliant job of painting the picture for us.

What do we learn something from it or what do we feel something after reading it is going to be different for each one of us. But the fact remains that this is one of the best non-fiction or rather one of the best books by an Indian this year.



http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/OurMoonHasBloodClots.html

The Secret Proposal

The Secret Proposal - Aniesha Brahma I came to know Aniesha Brahma about a year back through a blogging competition. I was amazed by her enthusiasm and the fact that she is a published author at the young age of 23. Secret Proposal is her debut work and I knew I just had to get my hands on this book and read it myself.

The Secret Proposal is the story of Tanveer Bhattacharya and Larissa Chakraborty and their on-again and off-again relationship. The story begins with Tanveer and Larissa meeting after eight years and each find the other grown up and changed. As they get into a false engagement to ward off marital questions from Tanveer’s end, Tanveer falls for another girl. When Larissa finds out, she forces Tanveer to move on and tries to move on herself. Yet, fate is not done with them. Tanveer comes back to Larissa and she is unwilling to take him back. As they fall in and out of love, the readers are taken on a bumpy rollercoaster ride with its protagonists. What does Tanveer have to do to win Larissa over once and for all? Will Larissa ever find her Knight in shining armour in Tanveer? Read this book for yourself to find out.

This book certainly has every ingredient for a Mills and Boons romance. Two very individual characters, with their own sets of strengths and flaws come together to form a story. The plot is well hashed out and as the confusion of the protagonists’ lives take over, the reader is left with a clear picture of where each character stands. There are certain supporting characters that mesh well into the story. The best part for me was to see my hometown through the author’s eyes. As a non-resident Kolkatan, I love my hometown to bits and particularly miss it during Dussera. Aniesha has captured a slice of that city, the energy of its people and the essence of the celebrations and served it beautifully in her novel. It made me feel homesick! As a romance novel, the plot is pretty predictable but the author makes up for it with her narration and descriptions.

It is a very promising debut from this young author. I hope to read more from her in the future.


http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/TheSecretProposal.html

The Son

The Son - Jo Nesbø http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/TheSon.html


I am a fan of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole Series and had picked this one up under the initial assumption that this is the latest in the series. However reading the blurb and starting with the book makes it very clear that this is a standalone novel from Nesbo and certainly not a Harry Hole Novel.

When a Police officer commits suicide, leaving behind a note admitting to corruption, his son and wife fall into hard times with despair. Sonny, the son of the said police officer, initially shows great promise but soon becomes an addict after his mother’s death. He ends up in jail taking the fall for certain murders. However in jail, Sonny is a model prisoner… till the confession of one prisoner changes everything for him. This is a tale of revenge!

Jo Nesbo creates characters that are unique and with flaws that turn into strength. This book is no exception with its well rounded characters. The plot is quite straightforward, or the reader thinks so at the beginning. With a startling number of twists, Jo Nesbo makes this book a page turner that keeps the reader in its grip throughout. Maybe, and just maybe, the second half could have done with a faster pace, but overall, this is a well balanced thriller. The best part of the book is how Nesbo reveals the back story of the leading characters one chapter at a time, bringing new information to the reader every now and then.

Well written Page turner that offers its readers ample action, thrills and gore!

A February Bride

A February Bride - Betsy St. Amant http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/FebruaryBride.html


I recently read the Silver Linings Series – a series of romance novellas, and though I am not particularly a romance buff, I rather enjoyed the short and sweet novellas. So, when I saw this series up for grabs on netgalley, I decided to give this series a try too.

Given her family history, Allie is sure that her marriage is doomed and that she is bound to hurt Marcus. And so, she runs away jilting the love of her life at the altar. According to her she was sparing both of them a lot of heartbreaks and sufferings. Marcus on the other hand still loves Allie, even after being jilted at the altar. Their love for each other is apparent, but Allie’s fear keeps them apart until another wedding brings them together. Will their very apparent love for each other finally bring them together or will Allie’s fear win?

Allie, otherwise a very strong woman, lets her fear rule her heart. I get her point of view to a stage. Having seen numerous failed marriages and a band of men walking out on her mother, aunt and grandmother, any girl would feel insecure. Or at least have limited faith in the institution of marriage. Marcus is a charming man, who love Allie with all his heart and tries to win over her fears with it. I enjoyed reading about these two characters as their personalities are so different yet they form a complete picture together. I liked Hannah too. She could have easily blamed Allie for her brother’s heartbreak, yet she stands by supporting her friend too.

Overall, this was a fun read even though the ending seemed a bit rushed. But I guess the author had her word limit to work with and the characters itself make up for the rushed ending.

A January Bride

A January Bride - Deborah Raney http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/JanuaryBride.html

I recently read the Silver Linings Series – a series of romance novellas, and though I am not particularly a romance buff, I rather enjoyed the short and sweet novellas. So, when I saw this series up for grabs on netgalley, I decided to give this series a try too.

Madeline Houser is a bestselling author who needs to get some writing done. But with contractors and carpenter having their way in her house, Madeline agrees to set up her temporary office in a Bed and Breakfast run by Arthur and suggested by Ginny a mutual friend. As luck would have it, Arthur has a way with words and who else can appreciate the fact more than an author?

This is a sweet story that was really enjoyable to read. Madeline and Arthur each have a vision of the other being this elderly person. As they exchange notes and start to fall in love, they are hesitant. Yet as it would have, they were both in their mid-thirties and with past heartaches that only further connect them. Both Madeline and Arthur are such loveable characters that it was easy to fall for them and then cheer for them. The major misunderstanding between them was because of what each envisioned the other to be like and frankly it was quite funny to read about it. Even when they finally meet and their misunderstanding cleared, it is clear that they are head over heels for the other yet vary because of their individual experiences in the past. The storyline was refreshing as I am yet to read anything similar. The writing style of the author is simple yet charming.

Reading this book is a couple of hours well spent and I would recommend it to all romance lovers.

A December Bride

A December Bride - Denise Hunter http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/DecemberBride.html


I recently read the Silver Linings Series – a series of romance novellas, and though I am not particularly a romance buff, I rather enjoyed the short and sweet novellas. So, when I saw this series up for grabs on netgalley, I decided to give this series a try too.

Layla dreads attending the wedding of her ex-fiancé and her cousin, that too without a date. Seth happens to be at the right place and at the right time. Going to the wedding with her ex-fiancé’s best friend may not seem to be the best idea in the first place but being seen together helped Layla land a big client for her business. Seth on the other hand has always loved Layla. This is his one chance to make up for the hurt he has caused and maybe even make some space for himself in Layla’s heart.

The last moment stand-in date to an ex’s wedding and then ending up with that person maybe a well utilized formula for a lot of romance novels and films… But Denise Hunter narrates the story in a very refreshing manner. Her sweet yet practical narration keeps the readers engaged. I enjoyed getting to know Layla and Seth and for a moment hating Layla’s cousin. Layla is a strong and determined girl who has set her mind on her business and she would do anything to get it going. Seth on the other hand is a charming guy who knows how to turn a situation to benefit himself. That sounded selfish though he really isn’t that. The characters were well fleshed out to make this book a fun and light read.

The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Donald Thomas http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/06/GreatAdventuresOfSherlockHolmes.html

This is the fourth Sherlock Holmes book by Donald Thomas that I have read.

This installment brings together five more stories of the great detective. The first is set during the London's Siege of Sidney Street, where he resolves the assassination plot led by Peter. The next story finds Holmes and Watson playing with the Zimmerman Telegram codes as Holmes tries to uncover the details of a German invasion. The next adventure leads to a treasure hunt and the final story involves Holmes dealing with a supernatural curse. Five very different plots and five very different stories make up this book in order to play with the readers’ imagination.

I have to say that I am finally warming up to this very different dynamics between Sherlock and Watson. While the first Donald Thomas book that I picked up left me feeling a bit disappointed with the way this author is dealing with the dynamics of the relationship between these two, I almost anticipated it when I picked this one up. Also, I am starting to appreciate the way Donald Thomas infuses fiction with reality. I checked out all the five situations on google to find out more about these incidents. Also, went back and checked some of the other incidents narrated in the other books. It is fascinating.

I don’t know if it is because I have finally accepted the differences from ACD’s Holmes or if Donald Thomas just has a way of growing on you or if it is because this is his best work – but I loved this book the best so far. Yes, This pair grows on you and so give it time and chance by picking this series up.

The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes

The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes - Donald Thomas http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/04/SecretCasesOfSherlockHolmes.html

This is supposed to be the first collection of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Cases by Donald Thomas. Unfortunately for me, I have read the later books first – but that is only because I like to read books in order. These books can very well be read in any order and also treated as standalones.

This particular book narrates certain cases that are based on true stories from Edwardian Era. Sherlock Holmes, instead of retiring and retreating to Sussex to entertain his hobby of bee-keeping, remained at Baker Street to perform his duties of a consulting detective to solve these actual cases. The cases ranged from the alleged bigamy, to the death of a president, to the theft of the Crown Jewels, to the four of England's most notorious murder trials. The authors take on these cases are really interesting and entertaining, but his delivery of Sherlock Holmes’s handling these cases were perhaps a bit disappointing.

The one thing that is constant in all the Donald Thomas books about Sherlock Holmes is the dynamics between the great detective and Dr.Watson. I am starting to believe that it has been done intentionally – to keep some distinctions from the original works. I cannot say I enjoy this new shade of their relationship as much as the original. However, when judged as an independent book, free from any comparisons, this book can stand tall on its own. Donald Thomas does a great job of narrating the mysteries and the thrills and I can’t help but think that I would have rated these books higher if he had written these as original series of a character created by him than instead of stories of Sherlock Holmes.

Immersed

Immersed - Jennifer Stewart Griffith http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/2014/05/Immersed.html

Lisette Pannebaker is a talented girl but it is her beauty that people take notice of. It has put her in quite a few odd situations including with her clients. It is difficult for her business to take off till her clients take her seriously for her language skills rather than treat her as an escort. The only solution that she can come up with is a complete make over that would hide her beauty and curves. That is when she meets Erik Gunnarson, a man of good looks, charm and money he can afford her services and look beyond her looks.

I have to admit that this was probably my least favourite book in this series. I found Lisette to be a bit hypocritical. She herself went through o many bad and awkward experiences, yet its Erik’s good looks that attracts her first. She hadn’t given him a second thought when the younger Erik had asked her out. Erik on the other hand is the kind of a guy who surely goes for looks. He barely ever talked to Lisette during the university days, yet he grooms himself over the years in a way so that his looks can appeal to her. The characters felt too shallow for my liking. However, I loved the way the author narrated situations that a girl can find herself in. The trials and sacrifices of a mother was highlighted too.

Overall, it is an average novella that can be taken on as a light read or as a breather between two books.

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Madhuri Iyer