Tuesday, February 7, 2017

2017 - Book 2

Ashoka: Lion of MauryaAshoka: Lion of Maurya by Ashok. K Banker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The revised first part of the Ashoka Series of books from India's mythology man - Ashok Banker. This one provides a prequel of sorts to the Ashoka Lion of Maurya Book 2 which was previously the Book 1 of the series.

Much about the Chandragupta Maruya and Ashoka is lost to Indians. The history taught in schools cover only the very basics of the first Indian empire which laid the foundation of a united India. The architects of this great empire are lost to the common Indian due to almost 200 years of rule under the British empire the remanants of which is still felt today in modern India where we are taught more about the recent history than the ancient history. India still looks outwards for its role models than inwards towards the Icons that moulded it into what it is today. Names like Chanakya, Chandragupta, Ashoka, Radhagupta, Bimbisara have just become footnotes in the pages of history.

Ashok Banker seeks to revive the interest in these ancient figures with his retelling of Itihasa - History. Ashoka is the medium he has chosen to start his mighty effort. Much of knowledge about how Ashoka became the 3rd emperor of the Mauryavansha Dynasty is shrouded in mystery. There are some anecdotes about him propagating Buddhism throughout India after being enlightened post the bloody Kalinga War. But not much information is available about his rise to the throne. Bimbisara was known to have had 100 children and close to 500 queens. From this murky, back stabbing and politically charged environment Ashoka rose to prominence.

The first 2 books in the series lay the foundation for Ashoka's ascendance to the top. The politics and the backstabbing happening in the ruling elite is repulsive and intriguing at the same time. Banker seeks to keep the mystery going by throwing Ashoka in 1 perilious situation after another. The Book 1 & 2 end with Ashoka in a very perilious state - betrayed by those close to him and hanging onto his life by a thread.

There is enough facts blended with fiction in tale to allow for the liberties that Banker takes while depicting the courtroom dramas and the palace sex life. The books are spaced easily and make for a breezy read. Mythology has traditionally been Ashok Banker's forte and by blending history with his impeccable story telling skills, the interest is held as you turn page after page to find out how Ashoka triumphs over his trials.

We know Ashoka became the 3rd emperor of Mauryavansh, but if you did not know Indian history and are reading the books for the first time, you would be at the edge of your seat to find out just how the hero survives through a unliveable trial. Book 2 ends in a cliff hanger leaving you gasping for more, wanting Banker to have written just 1 more page to satisfy you that Ashoka has survived, instead you are left pining for Book 3 to release ASAP so that you can continue into this riveting journey with arguably India's most powerful emperor.

My Rating - 4.5/5.

2017 - Book 1

The Midas Legacy (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase #12)The Midas Legacy by Andy McDermott
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Another Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase adventure from the stable of Andy McDermott. When the series started with Wilde & Chase it was among my favorite series with lots of action and adventure mixed with archaeology. As time moved on, unfortunately the series character did not move on. The remained the same one-dimensional cardboard cut outs. Yes the story line appeared linear with Wilde & Chase falling in love an marrying, but the depth to the characters was missing.

With so many books released in the series, there was a real chance here for the author to expand on the characters and really allow the readers to relate to them. But I guess that's a missed opportunity. Nina Wilde is now a consultant and an author, she's famous but not very happy with her life. I really did not like how the character of Wilde has developed, she constantly bitches in the book, harangues her husband and is completely miserable with her life as a mother and a non-archaeologist. The character did not develop in my point of view, she came across as a person who took a decision and then decided to spread the misery of it to everybody around her. I would give Chase a medal for just putting up with her in this book.

Being a reader of all the books in this series, the plot was relatively easy to guess, the bad guys were not even one dimensional, the twists could be predicted from almost a proverbial mile away and the baddies were overtly buffoonish in their approach. Other than our lead pair, I guess everybody and their pet must have seen through the twists. As usual when Wilde and Chase are involved in their shenanigans some priceless artifact, site or piece of history gets utterly destroyed because the world is a proverbial hell and only Wilde and Chase have the moral compass to do the right things, the rest of the people are always selfish and utter b******s who like to destroy things for selfish gain.

The books are formulaic and can be read for escapism. I liked to read through the book to understand if I could guess all the bad guys before the author revealed them and then also guess the finale or the things that the lead pair would break or destroy on their way to saving a precious artifact which always ends up getting destroyed.

Overall I would give this 2 stars. I have read better from McDermott and would like to see him write some better ones in future.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reading Fails and Missed Targets

As 2016 draws to a close, I have to admit that I did not read as many books that I had targeted at the start of the year, I was on course but then things went off the rails and it never really recovered that I could meet my target of reading 52 books in the year.

So that said, this year I am again targeting to read 52 books, 1 book a week, 4 books a year. Also in page count wise I am looking to read close to 25000 pages, here's to a better result oriented to 2017.


Friday, August 12, 2016

My Review:: The Prince of Patliputra by Shreyas Bhave

The Prince of Patliputra (Asoka trilogy, #1).The Prince of Patliputra (Asoka trilogy, #1). by Shreyas Bhave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genre right along side mythological fiction and thrillers. The bar for Indian historical & mythological fiction is quite high with authors like Ashok Banker, Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi making this their forte.

Shreyas Bhave in his debut book The Prince of Patliputra (Asoka trilogy, #1). stands up and asks to be counted among those illustrious names mentioned earlier.

Ashoka Maurya is a historical figure whose life is shrouded in mystery for the contemporary Indian. The man who is honored by India with the Ashok Chakra, the Ashok Stambha named after him remains an enigma. Shreyas Bhave has embarked on a journey to part some of the curtains surrounding this enigma with his ambitious 3 part trilogy chronicling the journey of this mighty warrior turned pacifist Buddhist King which turned a 1 among the 100 children of Samrat Bindusara into the 3rd Chakravartin Samrat of the Maurya Dynasty and man who took the Maurya kingdom to unprecedented heights.

The Book 1 starts strong, the story flows smooth from page to page, chapter to chapter. The action never ebbs, you never get the feeling that this is a debutant author and I can pay no higher compliment to the author other than saying that "You, my friend have arrived in the annals of Indian literature"

I strongly recommend to readers who like historical figures and historical fiction.

My Review :: The Revelation Code by Andy McDermott

The Revelation Code (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase, #11)The Revelation Code by Andy McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

he Revelation Code by Andy McDermott

Got my hands on a ARC courtesy of Net Galley. My humble thanks to the publisher & author for making this avaible to me in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

Now, since I read the last two books in this series back to back I have a better understanding of the relationships between the two main characters. Wilde and Chase are back and this time they are dragged back into relic hunting unwillingingly when a crazy evangelist kidnaps Chase in order to force Wilde to work for him. He's sicced on Wilde and Chase by an older foe one whom they thought was put away a long time ago.

We also see the return of Mossad agent Jared Zane in this book. He's becoming a replacement in the Wilde-Chase team for Henry Castille. At the end of book#10 it was revealed that Nina is pregnant and the new book picks off a couple of months after the incident in New York with the escaped Nazi.

The story revolves around the coming of the end of the days when the 4 Angels from Euphrates are released as foretold in the Book of Revelation. Ezekiel Cross - the main baddie, comes across one of the angels in the marshlands for Iraq and seeing the chemical gas released from the Angel when it explodes while under fire from the Iraqi gunship has a revelation that he is chosen by God to bring out the coming of the 7th Angel and the day of reckoning.

The story moves along typical of a Wilde/Chase story, Chase escapes, finds Nina, helps her out, baddies set off a sample of whats to come, Wilde/Chase try to head them off, the bad guys look like winning and then Wilde/Chase pull out a amazing out of the blue stunt involving all the set pieces laid out by the author in advance and in the process causing untold destruction of property while finding a new archeological site of extreme relevance.

In this book, Wilde & Chase find the Tebernacle from the time of Exodus containing the ten commandments, the rod of Aaron, the manna from heaven and the 4th angel in the temple of God containing 24 chairs of elders surrounding the chair for God. I think the Book of Revelation was a moot point here, the purpose would have been better served if Andy McDermott had gone with the quest for the Tebernacle with some fictional history revolving around it rather than the Revelation quest.

The quest seemed very easy, the deciphering of the codes involved nothing more than a map, some locations from the book of revelation and viola super archeologist Wilde finds it immeditately, in a course of 2 days she finds all 4 angels. The threat from the angels was plausible, but never really was there any doubt that the plot would be stopped in time. The only intriguing twist was the emergence of an older villain from the previous books. Too bad the character did not go anywhere.

I would rate this one from McDermott a 3 star. The story worked but looked like the same old, stuff done a hundred times before in the previous books.

My Review:: The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

The Pursuit (Fox and O'Hare, #5)The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fox & O'Hare are back for their 5th adventure. This time the book picks up from the cliffy at the end of book 4 where O'Hare arrives to find Fox missing. Apparently our thief extraordinaire has been kidnapped.

What the kidnapper fails to realize is where Fox goes, O'Hare chases, pretty soon our dynamic duo and their group of misfit geniuses are working to stop a bio terror threat with a aim of making money. They meet with a villain prone to theatrics but whose sense of fair play does not exist at all, who will double cross them as soon as his purpose is served and who is using them as a pawn in this own game of one upmanship OR is he???

The collaboration between Lee Goldberg and Janet Evanovich is pretty amazing, the books are furiously paced and the plot moves along without getting side tracked. There is enough character development within the story for the user to keep wanting more. The chemistry between the lead pair positively sizzles but the auxiliary characters have enough page time as well.

All in all Evanovich & Goldberg have delivered another winner here.

My sincere thanks to Net Galley, the publishers Headline and the authors Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg for making an ARC available to me in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

DIY - My temporary Bookshelf

Tired as I was with the sight of books lying all over the place in my home, I embarked on a simple DIY bookshelf made from an empty Amazon box.

Voila, less clutter and more organized books, easy to find.

P.s: The books are not sorted per any order.

Monday, February 22, 2016

My Review:: The God's Eye View by Barry Eisner

The God's Eye ViewThe God's Eye View by Barry Eisler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many thanks to the publisher, the author and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for a free and unbiased review.

Information Security, privacy are the buzz words today. The entire technology industry swears by it and provides heartfelt promises that your data is private, its yours, they are just the keepers of that data and do not monetize it in any way, shape or form. Ironical don't you say when in today's world, the company's net worth is determined by how much access it has to the user's data.

The world was left stunned by Edward Snowden. The programs exposed by Snowden which impinges on the privacy of the people was not just all encompassing but overreaching in itself. Nothing was considered sacrosanct and there was no definition of private. It is on this premise that Eisner's novel starts off on.

Now NSA has been vilified, tried in the media and viewed with suspicion by the entirety of the world. Nobody trusts when the NSA says it does not peek into your private data or PII (personally identifiable information). It is always taken with a pinch of salt. In this novel too NSA has designed backdoors into almost all the systems in the world and processes that information real time. The only level of security is the fact that processing of that data is in parts, takes time to analyze and nobody has a clear picture except for the NSA director the top boss - General Theodore Anders and his second in command General Mike Remar. They have implemented The God's Eye - a program using which the NSA can access into real time feeds from every camera around the world and there is only one person in charge for monitoring the data: Evie Gallagher.

The good General also has in his back pocket two troubleshooters who resolve any problems that arise when there is a threat of exposure for The God's Eye View - Thomas Delgado and Marvin Magnus. One a narcissist psychopathic killer and the other a deaf trained assassin with loyalty to only the director.

The brainwashing or inculcation of Magus reminded me of another book The Brotherhood of Rose by David Morrell which dealt with the similar situation where a man called Eliot get the unflinching loyalty of two orphan boys whom he treats like his sons and trains as assassins with undivided loyalty to only him.

I read the book in chunks, I could never finish this in 1-2 settings as I generally do with my other books because quite frankly this one scared me the shit out of me. I am from the tech industry and have a modicum of understanding about technology and what is espoused here is something that is doable as the author backs it up with the data in the footnotes.

The idea that somebody is always peeking over my shoulder and seeing what I am doing online is scary, now put that person over your shoulder 24 X 7 X 365 and the person real, the picture that emerges is very, very frightening.

It is true that 9-11 changed the way security agencies think, the threat level was high but the paranoia and the sheer scale of the data collection effort that these agencies embarked on is unprecedented. Nothing was sacrosanct and nothing was considered out of bounds. The only thing that is protecting the entirely of the population that is digital right now is that the time taken to analyze such data is longer as we do not yet have the necessary machine learning capabilities, but the keyword here is YET.

It is a dodgy world out there the digital espionage with no oversight and minimal controls over those doing the spying. This has all the hallmarks of a lit powder keg and when it goes Kaboom it is gonna be royal mess...

My Review:: A Gentleman's Game: A Queen & Country Novel by Greg Rucka

A Gentleman's Game: A Queen & Country NovelA Gentleman's Game: A Queen & Country Novel by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My book pal book of the month. Well the first book anyways. This was on my to read shelf since I don't know when. So thanks Diane for California Ming up with that innovative way of picking books for us to read.

Tara Chace is Minder One. A highest trained SIS operative who can carry out government sanctioned assassinations. She's quiet possibly the deadliest woman alive. When London gets bombed, the government clamors so for assassinating those responsible for the atrocity in a tactical response. Chace carries out the mission with elan; but when an terrorist aiding, philandering Saudi junior prince gets caught up as collateral damage in the attempt, the same government that wanted the deed done agrees to hand over Chace to Saudi's so that the terrorist camp being operated inside Saudi can be dismantled.

Chace goes on run with limited options and not too many choices. Her options are waging a 1 person war against the training camp in Saudi Arabia or leading a life on the run as a PNG (person non grata) forever. Needless to say which option is chosen by Chace. The end is quite good and Chace suffers a personal loss at the end of the mission, leaving her questioning herself. It sets up the second book in the series quite well.

I quite liked the female protagonist in the book. In one the scenes she asks “I drink, I smoke, I swear, I can’t cook, I don’t do laundry, I won’t clean, and I don’t like children,” this sums her up very eloquently I must say.

I liked the premise, the plot and the way the book flows, the pace is good and the author holds the interest. Overall it is a very good look at the spy business which no thanks to the MI & Bond franchise always looks like a glamorous and picnic-y job. This one throws that out into the garbage bin where it belongs go and shows the real day to day stuff that happens behind the an op.

I rate this one a solid 3.5 stars and would like to read the next one in the series.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Review:: Kingdom of Darkness by Andy McDermott

Kingdom of Darkness (Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase, #10)Kingdom of Darkness by Andy McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely hate Wilde & Chase for what they do to the ancient monument, treasures that they discover; but I always come back wanting to read their next adventure. Andy McDermott has got the balance perfect in catching my interest and holding it throughout Wilde & Chase's multiple adventures all through these years.

The Kingdom of Darkness involved immortality in the form of an chemically amalgamated water deep in the mountains of Iran which was discovered by Alexander without recognizing it's importance and then rediscovered by his cook Andreas who left behind clues in his fantasy novel Alexander Romance for his descendants to follow.

A minor part of those clues end up at the hands of hidden group of Nazis who emerge from woodwork 70 years after WW 2, looking like 40 year old and wanting to replenish their dwindling source of water forever, this time be finding the source and using it to establish a New Reich.

The plot is the usual Wilde & Chase story, Wilde gets kidnapped, Chase rescues... this time though there is an added element of doom around Wilde as she was poisoned by the eitr at the end of the last novel. It is said that true character is revealed under duress, sadly Wilde disappoints, her constant woe is me, I'm gonna die sometimes gets on the nerves.

Chase tries his best to keep her motivated, but it is soon clear that Wilde is one of life's takers. She's always wants things to go her way, at her command, at her will. I did not like her much in this one, she came across as selfish and plain bitchy... One of the more redeeming qualities was, once they were in pickle and reunited, she does appreciate all the Chase does for her and realizes that her blinding thirst for knowledge and leaping before looking is causing a lot of strain in her relationship with Chase.

Honestly I am not sure a real life couple behaving in such a way would ever survive. McDermott needs to work on bringing his lead characters on a same plane in their relationship. Perhaps a few more pages to develop the characters relation would help...

Overall the book is a good read and the blurb for the next book also looks interesting. I would give this a try if you have read this series, it keeps the fun going.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Review:: An Invisible Client by Victor Methos

An Invisible ClientAn Invisible Client by Victor Methos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is only the 2nd book that I am reading from Victor Methos. I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My thanks to the author and publisher for the opportunity.

In legal parlance An Invisible Client is a person who lives and breaths but does not legally exists, i.e. a person who is values at how much that person can earn. Anybody who's not gone to an Ivy League school, pulls in at least 6 figures or has a family business waiting for them are an invisible client. In short nobody gives a s**t about them. This legal terminology excludes 99% of the world population, but then who said law had to be fair, it just had to be effective.

Noah Bryce's story is that of a high-flying, personal injury lawyer who has made a life out of settling cases out of courts on behalf of his clients. He is wealthy, successful and at the top of his game. He has only one rule, he does not take Invisible Clients. His ordinary existence is put out of gear when his ex asks him to take the case of her cousin whose son is poisoned after taking a cough medicine promoted by a company called Pharma-K. Medicine which had acetonitrile which converts into cyanide when inside the body.

I will not summarize the book contents, coz it is good enough that people can pick up a copy and read it for themselves. Instead I will summarize what resonated with me. In court room scenes where the prosecution and the defense are squaring off against each other is electric. The arguments made by Noah Bryce are powerful and the are an indictment of how our society has progressed that it no longer even shows a semblance of pity towards the weak and under-privileged.

Our society has become openly and completely biased in favor of the rich and powerful who manipulate the system as they deem fit and the common man is left paying the price for their actions. The recent past is full of such instances, Enron, BP spill, the market crash of 2008 all of these resonates loudly and clearly, so may mistakes but not one culprit or punishment.

Where do we go from here, in the book the fictional Noah Bryce put aside his bias and championed an underdog to the peril of his own health, but where are the real life Noah Bryce's and when will the oppressed be championed??

I will recommend this all those who love legal thrillers, this is a great read and makes me want to pick more from Victor Methos in future.

In the end I will leave you all with a thought from Solon from 560 BC
 Justice will not come until those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Review:: Misdirection by Martin Link

MisdirectionMisdirection by Martin  Link
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Misdirection - A classic sleight of hand or rope a dope. A trick pulled by master magicians to make us believe that magic is real or con men to pull of grandiose heists. In Martin Link's book it is the latter. A scheme, a conniving plot to steal $48 million from a newly launched, highly touted security truck under the noses of the most sophisticated intelligence agencies in the whole world: MI 5 & FBI.

Talking too much about the plot will give it away and I would like the reader of this review to enjoy the experience of reading the book for no plot outlines. For a debut novel it is reflective of the research done by author that it does not seem outlandish. The technology is sophisticated but certainly not out of the realm of today's modern world.

Some of the jarring things that I noticed was that the book tends to jump around a bit with the characters. The lead character is introduced and immediately all his colleagues as well, the readers are just expected to know them all which is a bit of high expectation as the lead character has not been established himself. The background for the characters, the wheres, the whos and the hows are missing in the character definition, but this could be because the author maybe planning to reveal more about the characters in the later novels.

The interaction and the camaraderie between the characters is natural, but again I came off with the feeling that everybody knows everybody here, right from the start. Well there is certainly too much of coffee and food involved in every meeting. The lead character is certainly addicted to them to be sipping it all the time.

The plot is impeccable, none of the shenanigans pulled by the con men seems over the top. The situations flows one after the other and the cat and mouse game between the cops and robbers is titillating.

I would definitely read the next book in the series involving Lucas Norton. My only feedback to the author would be to spend some more time in character buildup. At 165 pages it is almost a novella, a few more pages with the backstory for some of the important characters including the robbers would have definitely helped.

I breezed through the book but due to the lack of backstory could not really connect with either the cops or the robbers and that IMO is a shame because it would lifted this into a straight 5 star story.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book courtesy of Martin Link in exchange for discussing it freely and fairly for the Book Of The Month (BOTM) challenge on the GoodReads group A Good Thriller.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Review:: Mortal Allies by Brian Haig

Mortal AlliesMortal Allies by Brian Haig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sean Drummond gets played!!!

In the first book of the Sean Drummond series Sean was this big shot, yuppie wiseass. Well he still is a wise ass in this book, but he gets played by almost all sides. The only reason he does not end up as a patsy is coz he ends up bursting the whole case open.

Fun aside, the book deals with the taboo subject of the heterosexual world - Gays in Army. Don't Ask Don't Tell refers to the army's view on Gays in its ranks. But this comes under immense scrutiny when a Army Captain is accused of rape, necrophilia, homosexuality and a bunch of other things when a south Korean Katusa is found dead at his apartment with him next to it.

The fiction OMMG springs into action by appointing a high profile lawyer who incidentally happens to be Drummond's colleague from their law school days... And I say colleagues in the most polite of all ways. Poor Drummond gets recruited as a co-counsel and sparks fly... literally!!!. In his own way, antagonizing everybody around him by airing his opinion - welcome or not, asked or not - Drummond stirs the pot in a way that leaves everybody including his friends and foe alike frustrated and seething at him.

With the inimitable Imelda Pepperfields by his side, Drummond is literally thrown into fire. With the deck stacked against him, the alliance between America and South Korea at risk and of course a client under all sorts of attack, things don't look good for Drummond at all. In his own brash, cocky, antagonizing way Drummond ends up saving everybody's bacon and then some... only to realize that he got played right from the start to get the very same result by the most unlikeliest of all people.

The series is entertaining to say the least. The dialogues between the characters are funny with the right dose of sarcasm and pretty much similar to what real people talk about. It deals with the serious issue of Gays in the army in a way that does not come off as homophobic, almost with respect and that's the point that the author strives to make: Gays are humans they are just wired different than heteros, as long as people keep that simple thing in mind, there should not be any friction at all. The dialog that points out the irrelevance of people being gay, straight or any type you prefer to choose is this "Is this country so rich in patriots that it can afford to turn down any Americans who volunteer to spend a few precious years of their lives in its service?"

Kind-of hits the nail right in the head doesn't it?

My Review:: The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

The Bone Labyrinth (Sigma Force, #11)The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

SIGMA FORCE!!!!! Right... whew!! So where do I start....

I am huge James Rollins fan, if you did not know that there the profile that I did of Rollins a couple of years back when I started reading the Sigma Force Series from him after stumbling upon  Amazonia by James Rollins.

Rollins is head and shoulders above his competition. What makes him so unique is his ability to spin a spine chilling story using the current facts in such a real way that at the end of the book you are left scratching your head as to what is fact and what is fiction. Talk about scaring yourself reading a fictional novel. The scary part is that it could be all real and we would be too late to stop a disaster scenario.

Humans have always been too curious about where we came from. Curiosity is a good thing, but it is also the thing that killed the cat. In our curiousness and our game of one upmanship we have the potential to wipe ourselves off the planet and be none the wiser for it.

The search or rather the research to perfect the super soldier is race that is being run by many countries. In their quest for the being the first to unlock the secrets of human genome and to be the first to perfect the super soldier, there is almost no oversight and no ethics which binds or stops them.

Eugenics is a dangerous thing. We do not understand where we come from or the Great Leap Forward in human evolution. Some 60,000 years ago humans who were on the brink of extinction started making giant strides forward by using tools, mastering the fire, agricultural patterns. From a wandering, scavenging race we started becoming a race of explorers, conquerors and laying the foundations of civilization. So what changed?? This is a question that has been puzzling the human geneticists for many years now.

Rollins has come up with a fictional yet plausible story in the latest Sigma adventure - The Bone Labyrinth which postulates that humans evolved into their current avatar by interbreeding with Neanderthals and an unknown third race of people which allowed for the development of our brains into the patterns and thoughts which allowed civilization to flourish.

The quest here is to engineer the next generation of the humans who will be take the evolutionary story a step further. The Chinese are aggressively chasing the specimens found in Croatia, a hybrid gorilla reared in the lab in US by a pair of twin geneticists who are experimenting with alternative genome sequencing and some bones found by the Chinese themselves in Rakshastal in Tibet around 40 years back.

The Sigma Team tries to unravel the motives behind the Chinese plot while chasing leads in 3 fronts while being hounded by the Chinese the entire time. Gray and Seichan are in Croatia where a site with prehuman bones have been discovered along with the footprints of advances beyond what was possible during that era. Bones rumored to be those of Adam and Eve the first humans. Kowalski is kidnapped by from the US along with the hybrid Gorilla and taken to a Chinese lab in Beijing zoo with Monk hot on his heels to get the team out.

The plot flows furiously, the various threads bind together a tapestry of masterful proportion and the truth when revealed - leaves you feeling scared for the future.

We have evolved that is true, we are the most dominant species on this green earth and there is none to challenge our supremacy but we are our worst enemies. Society when it grows beyond reason tends to self implode, that is the real message in this book and one that must be taken seriously because we are not every far from the tipping point where one step further in the wrong direction would be reason why we no longer exist.

Some reference for those interested in reading more about the great leap forward in human evolution is available here

My Review:: Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

Speaking in Bones (Temperance Brennan, #18)Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the first book that I read by Kathy Reichs. I started off the series Bones on Netflix first and I had picked this book up from my local library on a lark. Being the slow starter that I am it took me sometime watching the initial episodes of the Bones and looking at the producer name to place any connection between the author and the show and the book. Talk about being dumb.

Reading through this one while watching the series in parallel, I have realized that there is a world of difference between the two and mostly people will prefer either the show or the book. I prefer the show, only due to the fact that I start it first and am more in sync with the characters in the show that those in the book. The thought while reading the book was how would Hodgins have faired here, or Angela or Sweets for that matter. I even missed Booth in the book.

The major difference between the show and book is that the book is the poorer cousin, the setting is definitely real life as there are no high tech lab or interns available and Dr. Brennan has to definitely do her work on her own without relying on other colleagues other than Larabee.

The books do move at a different pace than the show and the author has made every effort to the reader to understand the field of forensic anthropology. The murder mystery of the missing bones found at the start unravels at a moderate pace and the setting and the socio-cultural settings are established every effectively.

I would definitely like to come back to the series as a whole once the show goes off air so that I can put the show out of my head and then do justice to the book as a separate entity in itself. Right now they are too closely tied together in my head to make the differentiation for now.

My Review:: The Foundation - Jack Emery 1 by Steve P. Vincent

The Foundation: Jack Emery 1The Foundation: Jack Emery 1 by Steve P. Vincent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first of the Jack Emery series, this was on my to read shelf for a long time. I started this one coz I got approved for the 3rd book in the series by NetGalley and while trawling through my kindle I realized that I had the first two books in the series already, so it was a good place the start a new series.

This one is a bit different from the military hero thrillers abundance that we have out there these days. The hero is this is a journalist and he is aware of his own mortality and his shortfalls, so there are absolutely no heroic shennanigans from him. Yes he is like a dog with the bone when he starts sniffing around a story but that's about it. It is a refreshing change where these days every normal man suddenly becomes militarique when in danger. Our hero bleeds, breaks under torture and tries to stay out of the fight by allowing the authorities to do their thing.

The plot is about a think-tank trying to remodel America in its vision. To do that they take the smart route, they try to get their people elected in the Congress and from there start a sweeping change in policies towards the neo-right. The group is ruthless with its own private military, espionage and sub societies and very loosely affliated with the Republicans. Problems arise when they try to control the media conglomerate owned by Ernest McDowell who is caught in a scandal a-la Rupert Murdoch and chooses to use his influence to propagate their own agenda. The agenda includes setting off a terrorist attack in China and pressurizing America to launch a War against China.

As in any plot, there are allies and enemies and then there are allies turned enemies. When the Foundation betrays it soldiers one time too many, there is an unlike ally available for Jack Emery to put a stop to the plans made by the Foundation.

It is a fast paced read, the plot motors along at a fairly decent pace and the diabolical women villain is as bad as she is made out to be. A cunning, shrewd and ruthless manipulator she uses every tool available at her disposal to make sure that her agenda is achieved.

The ending ties up neatly and leaves the door open for another adventure from our truth seeking journalist...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Review:: Secret Sanction by Brian Haig

Secret Sanction (Sean Drummond, #1)Secret Sanction by Brian Haig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sean Drummond is a wise ass. I picked up the first book in the Sean Drummond series on a lark. I was interested in reading something different than the usual action/adventure thriller for a change.

Legal stories have always interested me and A Time to Kill by John Grisham remains my favorite. The book was a very easy read. The humor in the book is a combination of situational, sarcastic and even personality based. But the book was very well written. It had the right amount of bluster, investigation and tying up of loose ends to make it an engaging read.

Even though the book is based on the Serbian War, the situation can be easily adapted to fit into today's world. Sean Drummond's story is also told by the author in drips, a fact here, an anecdote there... overall it brings a lot of insight into a Combat Major turned into a JAG lawyer - a very elite and special breed.

The politics of the army, the pressure from the government and the overall situation on the ground with the fringe players like NSA, the White House and the Army Corps bringing extra pressure to play into the investigation of an entire Army unit gone rogue is a story that has been told before, but the story telling in this one is absolutely the best.

I have already picked up the next book in the series to read. I recommend this to the fans of legal thrillers, especially military law thrillers. There is very few of those written and this one is at the top of the list.

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Review - The Sound of Glass by Karen White

The Sound of GlassThe Sound of Glass by Karen   White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my GoodReads group A Good Thriller book pal Book of the Month Read with my GoodReads pal Kirsten.

First of all this book was on my to read list way to long. I always had a thought in the back of my mind that I may never get to reading it, but if I did not then it would have been my loss.

Karen White spins a emotional tale in this novel. Set in the deep southern country of America, this is basically what small town Americana looks like. The book opens with a plane crash. From there on it journeys into the realm of human emotions, bonds and entanglement. It is a story of how people, often strangers are brought together by circumstance or fate and how they try to make the best of their lives.

The story flows with little ebbs, the characters are nuanced and the drama within the novel holds your attention. Of the many characters in the book, my favorite is Owen (sorry Rocky). He's a kid struggling to deal with the loss of his father, a upheaval from the only home he has known and also dealing with his newly met step-sister who is almost as old as his mother.

The characters are myriad and the end is a bit emotional. The book deals with uncomfortable topics like spousal abuse, character death and reprisal. Ultimately The Sound of Glass is the triumph of human qualities and of perseverance most of all.

The only places where I was a bit disappointed with the author's writing was when she dealt with uncomfortable death scenes, the author just glossed over the fact that a major character died and the prose just cuts to the next happening in the life of the main actors. So that's the reason for docking a star.

Overall I would recommend this book for a read.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Review: Ashoka - The Lion of Maurya by Ashok K. Banker

Ashoka - The Lion of MauryaAshoka - The Lion of Maurya by Ashok K. Banker
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Series -  Itihasa - Ashoka

The first book of 2016. What a start it is. Ashok Banker is India's mythology man. Now add history or as Banker likes to say Itihasa to his cap. Ashoka - The Lion of Maurya is the first of the series of books based on the greatest Indian Emperor ever - Ashoka Maurya. The 3rd in the Mauryan Dynasty, the man who laid the foundations of modern day India, a man whose deeds are still seen in various facets of Modern India.The Lion of Maurya is a bloody tale, it is a tale of war and the emergence of a single power through fratricide and bloodshed. History is witness, the empires of great men have been build on the blood of the people they have spilled to conquer and retain the throne. Nobody knows this better than the greatest modern day preceptor to have ever lived Chanakya, a man whose treatise and policies known as Chankyaneeti and Arthasashtra form the foundations of mordern politics and economics. A man comparable to Aristotle, Socrates and Sun Tzu. Now living in his old age Chanakya is seeing the very empire he forged for Chandragupta Maurya being torn apart by relentless machinations and greed of Samrat Bhindusara's chief queen and step-mother.

The heir apparent Prince Sushim is too indulgent in living a life of debauchery and wine. The only person capable of assuming the reins of the throne has vowed to keep himself away from it to protect his mother from the machinations of the palace politics. What will happen when enemies of the empire strike from within.

Every man has his limits and Ashoka's limits lay with his mothers well-being. When the same mother is imprisoned and tortured by the chief queen with the tacit approval of the King himself and when the King allows for his own son to be broken and left for dead what will Ashoka do?

This is where the Banker leaves us at the end of the Lions of Maurya, more questions unanswered than ever and the long tantalizing wait for the next book in the series.

Dear Ashok, you have me hooked to his new series.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 - Reading Challenge

Well 2016 has started and as is the norm I am setting myself a yearly target for the number of books that I want to read this year. Last year was pretty successful for me as I met my challenge of 45 books, in fact exceeded it by 2 books by finishing the year on 47 books.

The summary of my challenge for the year gone by of 2015 can be found here.

Coming back to 2016, my challenge is as follows:

  • Read 52 books this year - 1 book a week. This is a doable thing IMO. I can pace myself an pick books that I really want to read.
  • Read at least 25000 pages. Now this would be a much difficult objective to attain, my count for 2015 stands at 16,196 so with the increase in the number of books I can hopefully get to 25K
In addition to the above, I will also be participating in Book Pals in my GoodRead group A Good Thriller. In fact the January Book Pal has already started. I am currently reading The Sound of Glass by Karen White for my challenge this month. 

Also I am trying something called as group challenge set by the group moderator Sean in the group which encompasses reading 25 novels having various aspects in their title. Let's see if I can hit all of them in the upcoming year.

So what about you folks, what plans for reading this upcoming year. Do share and enjoy reading.

The 25 things that should be in the title are as follows:

1. Color - red, crimson, indigo
2. Number - one, twice, third
3. Things That Grow - tree, rose, garden
4. Seasons - spring, fall, autumn
5. First Name - Jacqueline, Robert, Ajax
6. Places - country, empire, London
7. Body Part - hand, bone, mind
8. Weapon - knife, poison, arrow
9. Body of Water - sea, river, pond
10. Form of Water - ice, mist, rain
11. Product of Fire - heat, ash, flames
12. Celestial Body - sun, star, planet
13. Architecture - castle, bridge, house
14. Senses - sight, touch, taste
15. Royal Title - king, duke, emperor
16. Family Member - brother, aunt, parent
17. Elements - fire, wind, air
18. Time of Day - morning, dusk, evening
19. Metal - gold, bronze, steel
20. Emotion/Feeling - love, fear, pride
21. Animal/Insect - dog, tiger, unicorn
22. Something to Read - book, story, newspaper
23. Gender Identifier - wife, man, lady
24. Paranormal Being - vampire, angel, ghost
25. Occupation - doctor, assassin, detective

2015 - Book Challenge Review

Well I had set a target of completing 45 books for the last year, and yup I got it through the skin of my teeth in the end days of the year. Read through 47 books in the end and while that was satisfying, what was not is that I did not manage to review each and every book here on my blog. Disappointing.

So here's my list of what was good and what was bad with my 2015 book challenge.


  1. Read 47 books. Exceeded my target ... Yay!!!!
  2. Got introduced to some great new authors - both indie and mainstream: H.N.Wake, Ty Patterson, David Staniforth, Terry Hayes, Andy Weir, Lisa Genova, Stephen England, Andrew Watts, Mel Sherratt - Wow I really read a lot of books by new authors. I felt good to branch out from the mainstream.
  3. Read new genre's of book other than my usual thriller, action, adventure group. Some of the off course books like Inside The O'Briens by Lisa Genova, Boko Haram by Mike Smith, Follow the Leader by Mel Sherratt, Imperfect Strangers by David Staniforth comes to mind immediately
  4. Made friends with a lot of cool people courtesy of the A Good Thriller group on GoodReads. Christine, Freda, Janet, Sean, David, H.N, Brenda, Amber, Titas are some that I share daily banter with. Freda the discussions that we had during the I Am Pilgrim reading was epic. Looking forward to a repeat experience pretty soon.
  5. Net Galley - It is a source for a voracious reader like me. Unfortunately for me I was not able to do justice to all the books that I got approved for reading. But one of my promises for the new year is to catch up with all the books that I have on my shelf.
Now coming to the bad:

  1. Not being able to do just to my Net Galley approved shelf.
  2. Defaulting on my Book Reads for the month. Sorry Perri!!
  3. Not reviewing all the books that I read on my blog. I missed out reviewing some great books like The Martian, Memory Man
  4. Not completing my Beta Read for Deceits of Borneo. Sorry H.N it was huge responsibility and opportunity and I fell short. The reviews are rave for this one, folks don't miss this!!!

That is the total summary of my year for the books in  2015. So I will be putting up another post with my goals for 2016 in terms of the books, my blog and anything that pops up in this chaotic mind.

Till then ciao,..

Leaving you with this great thought for the new year...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book Review - The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg

The Last Jihad (The Last Jihad, #1)The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got these out of our local library on a whim, the title was intriguing and the geo-political implications were looking better on the book blurb.

Once I started with the book, it almost became a chore to finish it. The characters are not well etched and as I write this review I have already forgotten what the book was all about.

The book opens explosively with a kamikaze plane attack on the POTUS motorcade but it sort of writes itself down from there with conveniently forgotten characters and not too much of a redeeming plot.

Sorry to say so but the series lost its ability to hold interest to me after this one.

A forgettable read.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review: The Midnight Watch - James Rollins

The Midnight Watch (Sigma Force #10.5)The Midnight Watch by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More and more writers are writing mini vignettes in between their books to act as a filler for the next installment of their book especially for a series. James Rollins is no different. The Sigma Force is an ever expanding world, there are too many characters and too many plot lines involved that it is difficult to give each character the necessary book time to grow them organically. Vignettes help in this scheme of things and provide a side incomes as well.

The Midnight Watch focuses on Kowalski, one of the side characters from the sigma series who has been under appreciated time and again. It also sheds more light on the newest sigma recruit Jason - the computer geek.

The story line also effectively ties in to the next novel in the series The Bone Labyrinth by setting up the context for the plot of the next book here.

Going into the story line would give it away to the reader who have not yet read this vignette. The only grouch I have with fillers and vignette is that they should be free to read rather than charging a dollar or two as they are amazingly shirt and breezy reads and as such should not be more of a burden to the series fan...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review - Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW
and the author M.J. Arlidge for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

This book came highly recommended from my group in GoodRead "A Good Thriller" group. and I must say it was worth it's weight in gold. I started this book very late due to being busy with other work but I must say I am glad I finally caught up to this little nugget.

Dark is the work I have heard used often with this book. I must admit I was having problems identifying the genre of work as I am not used to reading many dark books. But this one was different. Once you got started into it, the book grabbed hold of you and never really let go. Even when the book ended because you need to know what happens next in the life of Detective Helen Grace. Ohh.. Just where do I start with this one??

A diabolical villain or a deeply flawed and psychologically scarred heroine or the gory murders. Charles Darwin proposed the survival of the fittest theory but Arlidge has taken it to another level. Humanity when reduced to its basic is just that, survival at all costs. The emotions like empathy, kindness and kinship does not mean much.

The story line is very intricate, the plots and twists are planned to the perfection and the execution is pretty amazing, so much so that when the common thread tying up the entire exercise in macabre flies at you you are pretty much blindsided and left thinking how the hell did I miss this.

The story has a little bit of everything to keep the readers from different genres satisfied. Suspense to keep those indulged, action to keep the junkies interested, darkness, macabre and gore to keep the darkies engaged, thrill to keep the seekers seeking and finally a fitting finale to satisfy all.

Arlidge has just shot to the top of my must read authors. The only difficulty here is I would like him is smaller doses rather than one big chunk to keep the dark in me satisfied while not overwhelming my senses as well.


Book Review -- Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War by Mike Smith

Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy WarBoko Haram: Inside Nigeria's Unholy War by Mike Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher I.B. Tauris and the author Mike Smith for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Somalia and Nigeria are two hotspots of trouble in Africa. One affected by piracy and the other by militant Islamism. I don't believe in the fundamentalist interpretation of any religion. IMO it is just an excuse to cover bloodthirsty behavior. Islam is a peaceful religion, none of my friends who practice Islam subscribe to the school of thought propagated by the fundamentalist. It is their own greed for power that makes them cloak their fight in the garb of religion to give it legitimacy.

Boko Haram is no different. Emerging through the crucible of Nigeria's impoverished North east region, Boko Haram is using religion to cloak its bloodthirstiness. Mike Smith has forged a convincing tale of emergence of this terror group from its initial years under radical preacher Mohammad Yusuf, the Boko Haram group was based on the Wahabi ideology. Initially attracting followers with his fiery speeches and opposition to Nigerian government rules and thoughts, the group evolved into a ultra conservative terror outfit after Yusufs death and the emergence of his deputy Abubakar Shekhau as the new leader of the group.

Nigeria is a important country in African continent. It has a semblance of democracy and is oil rich. This makes it the de facto leader for growth, prosperity and stability in the African region which is inundated with myriad problems like famine, poverty and ethnic conflicts. Nigeria's is too divided between an impoverished and reeling under the aegis of Boko Haram North and the relatively affluent South with its oil riches. Overall the country is still in doldrums due to deep rooted corruptions and the lack of political will in the Nigerian leadership to grow the country.

The schism between the top elite of the country and the poor is exploited by Boko Haram. Denouncing the government the group emerged initially as trying the overthrow the government to replace it with Islamic Caliphate. But the methods and the legacy left behind by the group is too bloody and too gory to justify any teachings of Islam and the group remains as a terrorist organization in its entirety.

Mike Smith spins a cohesive story about the emergence of the group, the growth under Yusuf, the downturn after Yusuf's death and their bloody reemergence under the aegis of Shekau. It gives insights into the cultural, economic and social crucible that is Nigeria which has forged one of the most deadliest terror outfits in the world today.

Back to Reading

Almost 3 months of being out of sync with my books, I am finally making a comeback. The year started off great, I read some really great books this year, courtesy of my group A Good Thriller in GoodReads. The books that they recommended were excellent. I was really on a high….

But then life happened and priorities took precedence over pleasure. I missed out on reading for around 3 months now. The last book I read was in May until I started stealing time here and there to get back into the groove of reading.

This month I have finished two books, including my book pal book of the month for this month. Eeny Meeny and Boko Haram - Inside Nigerias Unholy War. Two books a month is by far smallest of the reads that I have done in the month, but it gives me hope that I will pick up the pace and hit my target of 40 books by the end of this year.

I have started to blog again and with that I hope to restart my other blog OutSpoken and True as well. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review -- The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of ChinaThe Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Matt Reilly is my favorite action/adventure author. Nobody does it bigger, better and badass than Matt. People tend to crib about the lack of factuality or the over the top action sequences, but hey… if you can digest Hollywood then there is no reason not to digest this with a pinch or a bag of salt…which ever you would prefer.

The sheer scale and the grand stage of each and every action/adventure book of Matt Reilly is what sets him apart from his peers. I read The Seven Ancient Wonders first and since then I am hooked and I am an unabashed fan boy…

Coming to the latest novel, The Great Zoo of China, when I first saw the title I was a bit intrigued and I was thinking what can you write about a Zoo Matthew? My curiosity was piqued and I got my hands on the book first from a friend while I was travelling from USA to India and the then got a copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest unbiased review courtesy of the publisher Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and the author himself. Boy oh boy what a ride it has been….

China - when we think China we think an industrial powerhouse of production, flooding the world markets with goods made cheaply and efficiently that anywhere in the world. The place where the world comes to get their things built according to their blueprints. But that said let it not be said that the Chinese are not ambitious enough. They are…. They most definitely are on the quest to become a world superpower not only militarily but also economically and most importantly socially. That means bringing tourists to China, so what can they do that will get them enough tourists and put them on par or even above America with its Disneyland?

The idea is building a Zoo, the most biggest, most baddest and the most unique zoo ever seen by the world. A one of a kind zoo… A zoo with… DRAGONS… yes you read me right.. Dragons…

Jurassic Park comes to mind immediately…. Well the Chinese have seen it too and learnt their lessons from it. It is a project that has been in the making since the last 40 years when the Chinese quite literally stumbled into a nest of dragon eggs. Since then it has been a ultra mega $240 billion project to build and showcase the might of China with the greatest zoo ever built by man - A Dragon Zoo with the different species like Red Bellied, Yellow Jacket, Purple Royals, Brown Swamps and so on…

The Chinese claim that they have tamed these beasts, and in fact even trained them… nothing can go wrong in the zoo, of course it is perfectly safe, they even make the dragons put in an performance for the VIP guests from the West including writers from NY Times, the US Ambassador to China and Dr. CJ Cameron and her brother Hamish from Nat Geo. It is a wonderful world, an exquisite but controller world, where the dragons know who their masters are.. So what can go wrong???

Except that everything does, in typical Reilly style it goes to hell hand over fist. With the Great Zoo Matt Reilly delivers his first action heroine Dr. CJ Cameron. She has faced alligators in the everglades, and is the worlds leading expert on reptiles, but soon she finds that Dragons are a different ball game. They are intelligent, they are planners and they are after a bigger goal… Freedom… or is it???

Read the book the find out more, but with the Great Zoo Matt Reilly has taken his game up a notch further. Pitting man against beast, The Great Zoo of China is a high octane adventure that will grab you by the scruff of your neck and will not let you go until the book is finished. You will feel like you have completed a roller coaster ride of your life, but expect a sleepless night if you pick this book up as a night read as you will not be able to put it down… Beware….

Book Review -- Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'BriensInside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and the author Lisa Genova for granting me the permission to read this ARC of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Your efforts are much appreciated...

Dr. Lisa Genova a neurologist wrote this book to bring forth awareness on the most cruel disease ever know to man - Huntington's.

I must admit I was not aware of Huntington's before I read this book. I must also say I did not think much about the disease which statistically only 37,000 people suffer in USA… There are bigger stuff happening was my take on it… until I read the book…

Huntington's is cruel - it rightly called out by Dr. Genova. There can be nothing, I repeat nothing worse than watching yourself waste away bit by bit and do nothing to stop it. Lisa Genova paints an haunting story of the O'Briens there Joe gets diagnosed with Huntington's.

It is difficult when you know you are going to waste away to nothingness, but it is even more challenging knowing that you may have passed on the disease to your kids. There is nothing more hurting, more cruel or emotionally draining to a parent than knowing that your kids are going to suffer in their life and you are cause of it…. My heart went out to Joe. From a strapping, in shape, physically fit police officer to a wasted away person not even in control of his own limbs. From being self sufficient to being dependent on people around you for even the smallest thing in life.

While Joe struggles to find balance in his life after being forced into retirement with disability, he also has to deal with knowing that 2 of his 4 children are bound to get the disease. Both of them in the best of their health and at the peak of their challenging professions, a firefighter and a ballet dancer. To complicate the problem Joe is about to be a grand parent and they don't know if their grandson may/may not be infected with this disease… it makes the struggles in their life almost seem inhuman. Disease is a great leveler, it does not do emotions.

As Joe tries to find a semblance of balance within himself, his youngest daughter struggles with her own set of problems. Growing up in the shadow of a talented older sister (the ballerina), Katie is still trying to find her place in life and dealing with the complexities of being in a relationship with a black man and having trouble bringing him into open with her Irish Catholic family. She also struggles to move ahead in life when confronted with the scepter of Huntington's hanging over her head.

The book in essence is the parallel stories of Joe and Katie, as one struggles to come to terms with what is and the other struggles to come to terms with what may be. Ultimately it is the story of Joe trying to set an example for his children that the disease cannot be beaten, but it can definitely be lived with.

Inside the O'Briens gave me a healthy respect for the message that Dr. Genova is trying to convey. Bring about an awareness for Huntington's while helping the readers understand that Huntington's can cause you problems, but it cannot take away from you your quality of life.

A quality read which gives insight into how really life is…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review -- Ghosts in Macau by H.N. Wake

Ghosts in Macau (A Mac Ambrose Short Story)Ghosts in Macau by H.N. Wake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks H.N for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review...You rock!!!

H.N. Wake turns up the heat with this short Mac Ambrose novella. China - a rising dragon from the east and the Macau is its Las Vegas.

Amid the glitz, glamor and lights of Macau is set the thrilling story of old school espionage, retrieving an hiding an asset deep from the heart of the country. It is a thankless job, never acknowledged or credited, the op goes south - the agent is left hanging in the wind, the op delivers on what it promises, the bosses at the top take all the credit for a job well done... And there is a third way - The bosses dump the op because it is too risky and you are left stranded again...

China and Mac Ambrose have a turbulent history as hinted by Wake in the previous book, she is a fearless operator, but this time around we see the emotional, the human element of Mac Ambrose. I will not get much into the story line for the fear of giving out too much and spoiling the story for  others, but one thing I would say for Mac Ambrose she is a gritty operator with her head screwed on at all times.

She differentiates between right and wrong; God have mercy on you if you are on her wrong because she definitely won't.

A quick read, whetting the appetite for the next book in the series. If there were any grouse I had it would be that it ended too soon...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Reading List -- May 2015

You just cannot have enough books. Whoever said that was absolutely, utterly and completely right and my hero. I dig books. I just can't get enough of them... and my traditional gluttony leads me into all sorts of jams which then has me contorting as a trapeze artist to get my way out of it.

Ok coming to this months reading list, where do I start???

Let me divide it into sections:

Net Galley: By far this is where I am feeling the pinch. I have a tendency to request 5-6 books at a time and being super busy these days, I am not able to plow my way through the books as I usually do. So currently my feedback to request ratio is languishing at 24% or so. I have way more books on my reading, approved and requested shelf than on my feedback shelf. Well I am not going to list all my Net Galley books here.. coz then I will never get done. So this month my reading list from Net Galley is:

1. Inside the O'Briens by Dr. Lisa Genova - It is about how a family deals and copes when they know that the father is having Huntingtons.

2. The Sound of Glass by Karen White

3. The Devil Will Come by Glenn Cooper

4. The Morganstern Project by David Khara

I also have The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins my Book Pal - Book of the Month to read with my A Good Thriller group member to read and discuss.

Also I have my perennial book pal Freda and books selected by us to read and discuss among ourselves.

It will be shaping up to a very, very, very busy May but I would not have it any other way...

Happy Reading,

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review -- Key Witness by Sandra Bolton

Key Witness: A Southwest MysteryKey Witness: A Southwest Mystery by Sandra Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Courtesy of NetGalley, publishers Amazon Publishing, Thomas & Mercer and author Sandra Bolton. Many thanks for making the advance copy of this book available to me at my request in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Key Witness is a murder mystery investigation involving multiple stakeholders, the Italian Mafia, the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and a few others thrown in to make it a complete pot pouri.

As a murder mystery cum chase I would rate it just about 3. But what pushes the rating up 1 more star is the background scenes. The book is mainly based in the Navajo Nation. The author does an incredible job of describing and bringing the haunting landscape to life.

You experience the land through the eyes of the newbie in this case the protagonist Abe Freeman, who has embarked on a road trip to find himself after losing his girlfriend to cancer. He gets mixed up in a murder of a fellow drifter he chances across overnight and subsequently becomes a Key Witness in the whodunit.

Brought in by the female protagonist of the story Emily Etcity, he has to stay in the state so that he can give witness when required. Emily is a Navajo and she takes him on board to keep him out of the way.

The Native American landscape is drawn in haunting beauty and through the various characters living on the land, you can feel the pride, the sense of attachment and the love that they have for the land.

The connect and respect that the tribe people and their ways of life give a very profound and powerful message of communing with Nature in a world shadowed by consumerism.

IMO that lifted the quality of the book from Like to Love.

The ending leaves a unconcluded story of Abe Freeman, the murder mystery is solved, but Abe Freeman is still on the road to self discovery and he needs to find himself first and then deal with the relationship that he has with Emily and her family.

The book deserves a sequel. We deserve to see the story of Abe Freeman played out to the end.

Book Review -- Blood Ransom by John Boyle

Blood Ransom: Stories from the front line in the war against Somali piracyBlood Ransom: Stories from the front line in the war against Somali piracy by John Boyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Courtesy of NetGalley, publishers Bloomsbury USA and author John Boyle. Many thanks for making the advance copy of this book available to me at my request in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Piracy… reminds us of the buccaneering Jack Sparrow and his group of rag tags aboard the Black Pearl. Treasure hunters, swashbuckling adventurers romanticized by Hollywood to bigger and bigger glory.  Pirates are something people thought active in olden days, the 1700's and 1800's at the height of imperial glory. Something nostalgic…

Not true, just look at the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, aboard a ship carrying cargo, chances are 8 out 10 times you would have seen groups of 6-7 people aboard a fast moving skiff firing AK-47s and RPGs at your ship. Who are these people? Somali Pirates

High Seas piracy is big business. Somali's have the control of the entire market for piracy, the ransom amounts from 2008 to 2014 run to more than 150 million dollars, an amount that is almost equal to the GDP of the entire country.

Somalia is a failed state. Europeans drew borders on the land of Africa and divided it into different countries. But the people who have a nomadic lifestyle and absolutely no concept of country but great believers of the clan system immediately started fighting amongst themselves for supremacy. How do you bring unity and peace among tribes or clans who have been at each others throats for hundreds of years? The result is a country divided by chaos.

With nobody interested in their welfare and hammered on all sides by war, natural calamity and disastrous deep sea fishing by greedy corporates and countries taking advantage of a non existent government, Somalia has been looted and raped at will. Toxic wastes have been dumped off its coasts further wrecking havoc among the populace already struggling with famine.  What do ordinary people do when the only choice between life and death is a way of crime?

Piracy in high seas is a lucrative business in Somalia. As it with all illegal business, it is organized and has deep ties to the Mafia and is extremely well organized and efficient. Well it was until the world sat up and took notice of the loss being caused by the Somali's to the world economy.

The navies of the entire world converged on Somalia to stop a bunch of couple thousand Somali's risking life and limb to conquer ships thousands of miles out into the open sea aboard only tiny ships and skiffs. It is an unequal war one Somalia is in the process of losing but it was not won without a bitter fight.

Blood Ransom takes you behind the scenes, what makes a person become a pirate? Why does he risk his life? What is the life like at in high seas hunting for a ship?

Blood Ransom is the sad truth of a nation left behind by the world, a story of human greed and profiteering, a story of struggle for existence that mutates into a life of crime. It is a in depth look at the rise and fall of Somali piracy, the book is fast paced, deals with anecdotes from both sides of the fence, the ones that pirated and the ones that tried to prevent. It is also the story of the victims who have been kidnapped. Some who are lucky enough to be ransomed, some who have spent years in captivity and some who are still waiting for their freedom.

If you feel that piracy is something romantic like Johnny Depp portraying it in The Pirates of Caribbean, then think again and read this book.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review -- The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

The Kill SwitchThe Kill Switch by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Kill Switch is the first in a new series starring Tucker Wayne and Kane whom we saw first in the novella "Tracker" and subsequently as a part of the Sigma Force team in Bloodline. Rightfully getting their own marquee, the odd pair of man and dog head up into their first solo missing for Sigma.

Tucker and Kane are best buddies, the know each other well and are living extensions of the other. They don't need nobody else in their lives. In Russia on a protection gig for a Russian business oligarch, Tucker is drafted by the wily Sigma boss Painter Crowe for a side mission to escort and protect a pharmaceutical tycoon out of Russia who is being chased by a Russian General who used to run Soviet Unions bio labs.

The hullabaloo is all about a ancient pest in the form of fungus or plant which has the capacity to either revolutionize the world or wipe it out depending on which way you use the pest. The discovery is too significant for it to fall in the hands of the Russians (who knows what havoc they may wreck with it) and since there is no counter agent or "kill switch" in military parlance, it becomes a issue of utmost importance that the Sigma Force protect it at all costs. The only fly in the ointment is that the path to the pest is known only to the Russian tycoon who is being chased by the Russian secret service.

Enter Tucker and Kane, the delta and the MWD. What I liked about this book is that Rollins and Blackwood spend time on the level of bonding between Tucker and Kane and how they are essentially so tightly coupled that they really are extensions of each other. Kane understands what Tucker wants from him and is trained enough to override his basic responses.

The book uniquely also contains a POV from Kane's perspective as he dives into the various caves and tight spaces based on Tuckers command. The reader is taken into Kane's mind, his senses and essentially made to feel what he feels in such scenes. It is a refreshing concept and the authors rightly using it sparingly to retain the effect of the POV switch.

Overall the book is a good read, nothing too outstanding, Rollins's background as a veterinarian comes through in scenes involving Kane and though process behind it. The plot twists are a bit too convenient and at some places the situation appears to be contrived to generate more difficulties for the lead pair. I would rate this book 3.5 stars rounded off 4. The blurb for the next book in the series appears interesting, but so many more interesting things available to read, I would say the next book will be spending some extra time on my waiting list unless it is mind boggling in its own right.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reading List - April Update

Hey All,

April is with us and there is a lot of reading to get through before the month is out.

First up is my Good Read - A Good Thriller group Book Pals book The Martian by Andy Weir which my book pal for the month Mallory Heart has selected for me to read.

Next up are my various books requested from Net Galley which are essentially ARCs for which I have to provide feedback. Currently making my way through the Consortium series by French author David Khara.

Finally we come to the books that I have taken out from my local library. Me being a glutton for reading I just can't resist myself. I have 4 books,, FOUR from the library to be read. I am currently making head way through one of my favorite authors in thrillers James Rollins's The Kill Switch

I still have 3 Simon Kernick books that I picked up on strong recommendation from my Good Reads friend Sean.

I am hoping to make my way through these books in the month of April, wish me luck and I am going to keep my fingers, toes crossed and hope like hell that my eyes don't cross out on me...

Happy Reading folks,


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Book Review -- The Bleiberg Project by David Khara

The Bleiberg Project: A Consortium ThrillerThe Bleiberg Project: A Consortium Thriller by David S. Khara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Net Galley, the publishers Le French Book and the author David Khara to have provided me with this free edition of the book in exchange for an unbiased and an honest review.

This book is the first of a series about something called as The Consortium and another one of those gems which has been translated from French to make its debut in the English market. With the sheer number of languages spoken and being printed in the world, what we may be missing boggles the mind. But then that is a story for another day as they say…

The novel opens in 1942 Poland with an SS soldier reminiscing of about a Germany free from Hitler's paranoia and ambition all the while awaiting the arrival of Heinrich Himmler himself to the camp that he is guarding. All his reminiscing is for nothing as he is soon dead… an official victim of an assassination attempt against Himmler.

Fast forward to the present day, we are presented with Jeremy Corbain or Jay Novachek as he calls himself a high flying, self pitying Wall Street broker who is greeted with the news that his estranged father is dead. Suddenly thrust into a shadowy world where he no longer knows the good from the bad, Jeremy seeks to make sense of what's happening around him.

The Bleiberg Project takes to the times of writers like Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy who could spin a mean conspiracy thriller of shadowy organizations, secret cabals. The Bleiberg project gives us a shadowy group going by the name of Consortium which wants to redesign the world in its shape. The storyline moves back and forth in the past and present and is tied together effectively with various POVs from the main characters in the stories - Jeremy, his father, Eytan Morg.. The pace is frentic and the story holds your interest in the premise that is monstrous to consider but somehow looks implementable given the state that the world is in right now - genetic mutation on humans.

The quintessential Nazi quest for the perfect √úbermensch and the Consortiums quest for creating a new World finds perfect partners in each other and years on clinical trials on humans give them a perfect specimen a child - number 302. When the child escapes from the its captors and with fall of the Reich, the Consortiums returns to the background continuing with its research and pulling the strings from behind.

The novel has its moments of humor with the interaction between the various characters and the dialogues which are alternatively funny, cynical and sarcastic in turns. All kudos to the translator for retaining the humor and the integrity of the dialogs in the process of translation.

A solid 4.5 stars. I would love to read the follow to this ASAP. Ohh… Wait I do have the follow up novel courtesy Net Galley. Well I must get started...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review -- The Resurrection Maker by Glenn Cooper

The Resurrection Maker: A ThrillerThe Resurrection Maker: A Thriller by Glenn Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The very first book that I requested from Net Galley. My many thanks to Net Galley, the publisher Lascaux Media and the author Glenn Cooper for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Resurrection Maker is a curious mixture of science, spirituality, religion and quest. The book manages to mix all these aforementioned scenarios while keeping the tempo high enough to sustain interest. Arthur Malory is a grail aficionado. In company of the Grail Loons they meet and debate the various theories of where the Grail might be found.

When Loon founder finds a trail which may lead back to the enigmatic times of King Arthur and his quest for the Grail, Arthur gets involved in the quest when he finds out that he is indeed from nobility carrying the blood and an extra rib right from the time of King Arthur.

The book is plotted very intelligently. The novel movies between the various POVs like Sir Thomas Malory, King Arthur while it is being told in a third person narrative when referencing the current time lines. Cooper plots a tale that makes Jesus's resurrection a scientific fact rather than a religious miracle.

As in all tales you have good questors and you have bad questors… In this game the bad men are the Khem an ancient society of over 2000 years who have been on a quest for the Grail for their own purposes. To study and achieve immortality by using it. The Khem are all brilliant scientists who have come through ages by trying to find the Grail and study it scientifically. They have been alchemists, chemists and finally they are physicists.

The quest for the Grail takes Mallory to a variety of places while trying to be one step ahead of the Khem. I loved the way Cooper introduced the Cathedral of Sangrada Familia in the book and I was thrilled that I learnt about a new place and person from this book. The architectural genius of Antoni Guidi is marvelous and the book is a brilliant tribute to the great man.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review -- I Am Pilgrim by Terry Haynes

I Am Pilgrim: A ThrillerI Am Pilgrim: A Thriller by Terry Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where do I start? This book blew me away. In fact it just torpedoed me out of my slow, mundane and painfully normal existence. Terry Haynes is a screenwriter so the inspiration for the layout of the book is definitely inspired from his screenwriting background. What can I say about this book that has not been said before? It was rated as the Thriller you should not miss for 2014.

Shamefully I missed it, but I am glad I made up for that by reading this sooner than later. The Pilgrim is the story of investigation. It is the story of what happens when you put into mind to chase a ghost and you do chase that ghost successfully. I Am Pilgrim is the story of succeeding when there are no odds in your favor, when you know the last dice has been rolled and you have lost.

Simply put Pilgrim is an audacious read. Once you finish reading the book, it will take you at least an hour to come down to the mundane. The book starts slow with seeming very loose threads, a perfect murder in NY city, a disturbing revelation in the Afghan mountains and a seemingly bizarre death in Turkey.  All unconnected and in no way linked to each other --- or that is what you feel.

Each of this separate incidents are just pieces of a bigger jigsaw puzzle. One that needs to be put together fast, but nobody knows if they have all the pieces of the puzzle. The Pilgrim asks a lot of questions, uncomfortable questions: does a single life outweigh multiple lives? Who decides right and wrong? Hate or Love which is more powerful?

It may look like I am rambling in this post, but the Pilgrim is essentially the story of one person the "Rider Of the Blue" who strives to find the balance between the right and wrong, going till the edge of his sanity but not snapping. In short the Pilgrim is a must read.

There are some drawbacks in the plot as well known well by my Book Pal Freda, which has lead to me to dock half a star, but it is the perfect debut. Good Reads does not let me give .5 stars.. So in a spirit of generosity I rounded it up to 5 instead of rounding it down to 4. A rare few books deserve this honor. I would still ask my friends to read this book, coz this is a book on which hours and hours of discussion can be had. It is a sure shot…