Monday, February 19, 2018

The Demon Crown (Sigma Force #13) by James Rollins

The Demon Crown (Sigma Force #13)My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am big Rollins fan, anybody who has read my blog posts and reviews will know that about me. Any Rollins book that gets released is a must read on my list. There are few authors whom I follow diligently - Rollins is one of them.

The guy just blows my mind every time I read one of his books. He outlines Armageddon scenarios and then coolly and calmly ticks off the ways that Armageddon can be achieved with just a little push from human greed and ambition. Demon Crown is no different.

I have never before been scared of bugs and wasps. Demon Crown has made me look at the flying critters as never before, locusts have been a part of the biblical plagues unleashed upon humans eons ago; but wasps triggering the genocide of Dinosaurs while propagating their own species have made me take a second look at the plausibility of the scenario. Exactly what could we humans do if such an impossible scenario were to become possible? Going by the way we have handled the crisis of Zika outbreaks and Ebola, I am not too hopeful.

Rollins background at a veterinarian plays to his strengths here. The scientific aspects of the book are well laid out and each stage of the wasp evolution ties into the story as a piece fitting the jigsaw puzzle.

I am also a huge fan of the character development that Rollins does in each of his books. Each central character's story moves a few paces forward in every book. E.g. the readers who have followed Rollins's Sigma Force series from the start are well aware of how the lives of Gray, Seichan, Kowalski, Crow, Kat, and Monk have moved forward from the day we got introduced to them.

The readers have been through an emotional journey with all of these characters and are vested in the well being and health of each of them. This is my opinion is what makes the Sigma Force series a very connected series. Hell, you are even interested in the perennial Sigma enemy The Guild, their main movers and its reincarnation after undergoing the purge by Sigma.

What does not destroy you makes you stronger - so goes the quote and we definitely see a new and sleek version of The Guild under the aegis of Vanya who is as ambitious as she is ruthless. Her cunning and strategical planning is also brought to the forefront by Rollins, given how easily she aligns and shifts her alliances during the course of the novel. She will make a formidable enemy to the Sigma Force in the future novels.

Overall I will give Sigma Force#13 - The Demon Crown a solid 4.5 stars. Since GoodReads does not allow me to give a .5 star rating, I will move it to a full 5 stars.

P.s: I believe in marking up rather than marking down in an acknowledgment of the author's effort.

Verdict: Must Read

List: Book 1 of 52 of the Year 2018 Reading Challenge

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Ode to the Year Gone By - 2017

I don't do this as often as I should, the year of 2017 has been a topsy turvy year. There were a lot of ups and downs. More ups that down though.

The biggest downer was that I definitely did not get to read as many books that I would like. I also did not blog as frequently as I would have liked. This has more to do with my inherent laziness rather than the lack of time.

Anyways lets bygones be the bygones. I got a similar plan for the upcoming year where I would like to read again 52 books this years, 1 per week. Similarly I would also like to post a blog review on every book I read here. I have not been as prolific as I should have been with the reviews, I post reviews for far fewer books that I have read.

Here are some of the quotes to prompt you to read on for the upcoming year.
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
  • “A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” ― Alan Bennett, The Uncommon Reader
  • “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ― Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life
  • “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” — Charles William Eliot 
  • “A book is a friend whose face is constantly changing. If you read it when you are recovering from an illness, and return to it years after, it is changed surely, with the change in yourself.”— Andrew Lang
  • “The love of books is a love which requires neither justification, apology, nor defense.”— J.A. Langford (This is my favorite quote)
  • “No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of the children of men.”— J.A. Langford
On a side note, I will like to invite Kavi & Krupa to join me on the read-a-thon of 52 books in an year and tag me on their reviews and posts.

Cheers bibliophiles have a great new year !!!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

SoulMate by Beenu

SoulmateSoulmate by Beenu VV
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SoulMate by Beenu

Beenu is my friend, I have known her for 10 years now. When she got published I was thrilled for her. She's an amazing person and like all of us she's had her ups and downs in life. We all deal with life in different ways, Beenu dealt with her bad hand in life by writing SoulMate.

I am so proud of you Beans. Knowing you, I can see shades and reflections of people we both know in the characters in your book, its like reading a slice of real people and that is what gives the book an amazing depth and emotional connect.

Ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. That's Ajanta for you. SoulMate is Ajanta's quest for finding herself in her life. Ajanta is a metaphor of all of those who are war with themselves over emotions, stress and depression. People who are battling an uphill battle and feeling the walls of life close in around them.

The sanskrit saying - शान्ति तुल्यं तपो नास्ति तोषान्न परमं सुखम् - ran through my mind as I was embarking the journey with Aju to find peace for her. It literally means - "There is no self purifying process equal to attaining peace of mind." Ajanta carved that peace of mind all her life, all her life she was on the path to find that peace and she went into depths of marital hell, deep depression and deep, unrequited love before she could make peace with herself.

The ending for the book came abruptly I was looking to read more about a positive and upbeat Aju, but the book did not conclude, it left the ending opening for the reader to write their own endings to Ajanta's story. That in my mind is the best positive ending anybody could have written. True the story between Aju and Ajay is unresolved, but the way is left open for the readers to answer those questions themselves.

SoulMate is a story of hope, positivity and change in a time when people are surrounded by negativity. You have done us all proud Beenu, now don't take too long to write another story, you have a lot to share with world my friend!!!

View all my reviews

Monday, April 17, 2017

2017 - Book 8 - Dark Matter

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Multiverse is a concept that is familiar to most comic readers, most of the comic book arcs have been based on multiverse. Recently the TV series The Flash also deals with it as the background.

Blake Crouch has taken that concept and explained it in a scientific twist. While in the aforementioned comics and TV series you need a super powered protagonist or antagonist who can access the multiverse, in Crouch's story anybody who can dispel the conscious/subconscious decision making process of the brain can access multiverse.

The story deals with multiverse in a rather elegant manner, the characters appear 3 dimensional and the emotions felt by them are far too poignant. Crouch has written a taut fast paced story, the plot starts with a bang and the race to get back to your world with a infinite numbers of worlds to choose from is a interesting and intriguing race. The addition of a passenger on the journey skews the probability of finding the correct world and it was a interesting possibility.

Where the book let me down was the last few pages. The end when it came was hurried and again the author threw a curve ball that I was not expecting, but as they say too many cooks spoil the broth, that is precisely what happened in the closing pages.

In the hindsight have written such a gripping and thrilling narrative there was not much that Crouch could have done to conclude the book without leaving the reader hanging. For the readers of Sci-Fi with a touch of action and adventure and a good thrill thrown in I would definitely recommend this book.

There are so few books that meet the bar in terms of plot, story, pace, narration and action that this is a no brainer, Don't miss

My Verdict: 4/5 stars
My Recommendation: Read It

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2017 - Book 7 - The President's Assasin

The President's Assassin (Sean Drummond, #5)The President's Assassin by Brian Haig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmm... this book was a let down, compared to the high standards that I had for Brian Haig. This was more of a police procedural rather than anything to do with Sean Drummond.

I agree with Freda (my GoodReads book pal) about how the complexity and the intrigue level of the plot has gone down compared to the previous Sean Drummond books. Haig pulls the oldest sleight of the hand with this one. I think the author tries too hard to follow in the mold of James Patterson by trying to layer and multi-fold various plot points.

I am not too chuffed about Haig loaning out Sean Drummond to different groups willy nilly. Last book Sean Drummond was in the corporate sector, his efficiency & ruthlessness in dealing with Lisa Murrows murderers saw him get loaned out to the CIA this time around. It seems like all the government agencies are playing pass the cocky, rub you the wrong way, sarcastic Drummond.

I miss solid characters like Imenda Pepperfield and the military JAG court environs. Also in this book Drummond comes across as more horny than most of the other books put together and as such misses vital clues and hints which the author tries to setup as the big reveal for the finale.

As far as plots go, I am docking a star, coz the plot was basically Meh! There were probably 15-20 different ways the author could have done this if the ultimate objective was what the plot revealed.

Considering the books title, the President was not seen even in a single scene; all we heard about the man was from his mouthpieces, we never even saw any hide or hair of the great Gumba. So much for the President being assassinated.

The pace of the plot is frenetic and the story moves fast, it would have probably been better suited to a stand alone novel rather than one featuring Sean Drummond. The book carried the weight of the previous books in the series on it shoulders and sadly those shoulders weren't good enough to hold it up.

I am giving this one 3 stars only due to the affection that I have for Sean Drummond and the previous books in the series. It is my sincere hope that the next book in the series returns to its roots rather than casting Drummond out further in the sea.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 - Book 6 - The Last Mile

The Last Mile (Amos Decker, #2)The Last Mile by David Baldacci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Amos Decker # 2 continues the story of Amos Decker introduced in
  Memory Man (Amos Decker, #1) by David Baldacci
by David Baldacci . Amos is now an consultant with FBI. The plot is good, but swings all over the place, most of the twists could be anticipated and the story meanders through the different plot lines...

Some of the connections made are far fetched and the plot moves from the realms of plausibility to impossibility pretty soon. Too many characters are introduced left, right and center and there are too many variances. But Baldacci still maintains the page turning aspect of the novel which has always been the USP for him.

Amos Decker was setup as a memory man in Book#1 but other than recollecting information and throwing it back, there is not much character development for him. The Joint consultant group turns out to be dud with the other members not being of much help other than being in awe of Decker.

The official status of the group goes and comes twice or thrice within the book. Overall it was just a exhibition of how much Amos Decker can remember and regurgitate from time to time. The connections were out there for any novice reader of thrillers to make them and it was easy to find out who the mischief makers are.

I would have ideally liked to see some history of the parents that Melvin Mars had murdered. It would have been a nice addition to the story line, it would have helped understand some of the motivations for the stuff happening.

Overall the book could have been a bit more concise, Baldacci spent a lot of time setting up the characters and the plotlines that things appeared to be finished in a haste in the end.

Still I would recommend that the readers give it a lookie loo. It was not a total waste of my time - reading this book.

Friday, March 10, 2017

2017 - Book 5 - Private Sector

Private Sector (Sean Drummond, #4)Private Sector by Brian Haig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brian Haig is like a fine wine. He's maturing with each subsequent Sean Drummond books. I swear I like Drummond a bit more every series. Every Drummond book is a just a little bit more complex than the last, its like trying to solve a Rubix cube. All the pieces are there in front of you but they have to be put into the right places. They have to be aligned to get to the solution.

Sean Drummond as I said earlier is a wise ass true, but he's a nice wise ass. He's out of his comfort zone in this one by moving out of JAG cases to the corporate law side. The military says he needs to know how corporate law works.

In this book Haig delves into the murky relationship between corporate lawyers and companies. Drummond is out of his depth from the very first page when the Army loans him to a high flying corporate partnership. But he does not lose his pizzazz. He's the same wise cracking a-hole he was while handling criminal cases as he is while handling corporate cases.

The book opens explosively with Lisa Murrow murdered. 3 more women are brutally assaulted and murdered just when you think there is a serial killer on the loose, Haig twists the plot.

Everything is put together in the end but its messy. The shenanigans that's pulled in the name of investors, share holders and country leave you feeling a little dirty and a little bit in need of shower. Drummond pulls through in the end ensuring that Lisa is avenged but it is a close call for him. He almost succumbs to the pressure of choosing the nation over his personal thirst for revenge, but he finds a way out to keep both the parties satisfied while getting Lisa avenged.

Drummond comes across like a loser in most of the scenes. During a lot of the scenes I felt that Drummond was being dominated and he gave in alot easily than needed or did not come across as macho. Drummond gets the last laugh though. This book made me think about the importance of patience and waiting for the right opportunity to get things done. Drummond has it in spades.

I am a hardcore Drummond fan and I would definitely read the next books in this series.

My verdict: Read It