Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Downing Blog Until Futher Notice!!!!

Currently I am down in inspiration to continue this blog. I haven't updated any review in a long time and I am feel that I'm letting myself down by not posting regularly.

So I have decided to take a sabbatical from blogging activities and also to revamp what I want to do with this blog in future.

Till further communication... Have a great time and take care!!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

39/50 -- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The end of the year is approaching and it is time to take stock. Mid-way through the year I revised my target of reading 40 books with 50.

I must say I am rather surprised and pleased with my progress so far. I did not expect to be within sighting distance of my goal. I rather expected to be hilariously behind schedule.

The challenge this year for me mainly has been to find books which appeal to my palettes. With the amount of reading that I manage to get done in my spare time, the books all start looking the same to me. The lines between the pages start to blur and all the plot lines appear the same.

That said I did find some interesting reads from the least expected of avenues, Indian authors. I mean after Chetan Bhagat (shivering with terror here); the only author that I paid money to buy his books were Ashok Banker and that too only because he writes about my favourite genre namely Indian Mythology.

I am a big fan of Bankers Ramayana Series and have subscribed to his website for his entire collection on Indian Mythology.

So I was pleasantly surprised at discovering authors like Ashwin Sanghi (a.k.a Shawn Haigins), Varun Aggrawal (How I Braved Anu Aunty & Started My Million Dollar Company) and a couple of others more.

Interanationally I picked lesser known authors, or rather the emerging breed of authors like Brad Taylor, Alex Berenson... Some disappointed, some were worth a read. I liked the way the plotlines moved in Alex Berenson's books, but overall the quality is still not much to my tastes. Ohh!!! What would I not give to read a book like Icon by Fredrick Forsyth or Exodus by Leon Uris!!!!!!

Sometimes I feel that the WAR on Terror has become a WAR on Literature with almost all the authors writing in copy cat styles about the same thing, terror, terror and more terror.  I would not say no to a posturing cold war like book, in fact I long to read such a book!!! Is anybody listening???

I have a interesting collection of books marked as "To Read" in my goodreads site. Its an eclectic mix and one I hope lives up to the hype surrounding it. In the meanwhile I have had my fill of YA genre of books like Hunger Games or that pathetic BDSM rag titled 50 Shades of Something or the other. If I wanted to torture myself I would rather do it with something I hate doing like exercise rather than do it with something I love like books and by de facto Words.....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Delhi Durbar by Krishna Pratap Singh


An insight on how Indian politics and politicians operate. The nexus between bureaucrats, politicians, fixers and power brokers is exposed for all to see.

The books looks at the festering sore of Indian politics, the largest democracy in the world which has established mass corruption as an honest to God profession.

The saga of Indian politics, the way the fixers can get anything done for a price, be it making the PM's son the President of BCCI or arranging for ex-army Chief current VP of India to take over as President and then trying to instigate a coup.

This is a story of what Indian politics is and what more can it become.

Told from the POV of Jasjit Singh Sindhu an ex-investment banker who has taken up his fathers role as a political fixer after his death, the book captures Jasjit's journey across the murky world of Indian politics and babudom, where currency rules supreme; principles and faith espoused by the people on the country's leaders are second to profiteering.

Verdict: It's worth a read.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Rough Man - Brad Taylor

Coming from an former Army Infantry and Delta Force soldier I had high expectations from this one. I expected to gain some insights about how the War on Terror looks to the soldier on the ground.

Brad Taylor introduces Taskforce a group of clandestine operators that is as necessary as it is illegal. Taking the War on Terror to a new dimension by snatching identified and important operators working for the other side the sole purpose of the Taskforce is to provide the US an edge in the asymmetric war waged against Terror.

Pike Logan one of the leaders of Taskforce is a maverick even inside Taskforce. Known for his unconventional ways and his ability to get even the toughest of the missions done, Pike walks a fine line between moral and immoral. Keeping him grounded is his family, his wife Heather and daughter Angie. Soon Pike loses even that touch to the normality; when his family is killed as Pike is out on another mission for the Taskforce which comes when he's supposed to be spending time with his family.

Pike feels that hes paid the price for choosing his country over his family and starts to lose his edge making mistakes and putting the entire Taskforce in jeopardy with his actions. One mistake too many causes him to be tossed out of the Taskforce and thus begins his life as an alcoholic drifter trying to get over his grief at his family's loss. Pike literally gets kicked into Jennifer Cahill' s life. Jennifer' s working on overcoming an abusive relationship and getting her archaeological degree. She gets caught in a biological weapons plot when her Uncle literally stumbles into an ancient Mayan ruin which contains a deadly virus. As the Uncle is being tortured for information about the site, he mentions Jennifer to whom he had sent some encrypted files containing the coordinates for the site.

Thus begins the chase to locate Jennifer and obtain the location of the ruins. Even as shes being hunted Jennifer saves Pike from an ass kicking and in turn Pike gets dragged into a fight with the team hunting Jennifer.

With Jennifer reminding him of Heather with her actions and mannerisms Pike at first reluctantly helps her. As he uncovers the threads of the plot he soon finds that the problem is greater than some archaeological dig, somehow Al-Qaeda operatives have gotten their hands on the virus and are now on a path to set if off at a location causing as maximum damage as possible in the process.

The book takes a reader through a journey of how a soldier copes with the situations in life. Pike' s tragedy and the aftermath of how he deals with it is depicted very well.

Told by a former Delta Force operator, One Rough Man is in the same genre as that of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor. So actions fans have a new name to associate along with Mitch Rapp and Scot Harvath -- Pike Logan

Rating: 3/5 Stars
Verdict: Read It (If you are an action fan)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blog Update

I'm finally done with all my changes to the blog and I like the look and feel of it. From my viewpoint the blog now enables easy of use and with the different sections up anybody not interested in the updates but the reviews can move straight to that tab or just add a feedlink for only the reviews.

I'm happy with how the blog is shaping up and I would love to hear some of the reactions from folk visiting the blog. One thing that I'm definately not happy about is the lack of reviews. The blog is getting on a average 2-5 views per post, but the amount of reviews is just not upto the par. Is it too much to ask for a couple of lines as feedback?

So far it looks like a resounding "Yes".

Review Packed Weekend!!!!

TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) that mean I can look forward to spending the next couple of days powering down and reading at my leisure instead of catching snippets between work as I generally do during the week days.

What it also means is that I'm behind on my reviews... (sigh!!). I need to review three books which I have finished reading and maybe another two that I'll finish over the weekend. So that brings the count to five.

Five reviews to write and not a scrap of idea in my head... Hmm sounds like I need inspiration or just a good old fashioned kick in the butt... Any volunteers??.. :-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

20/50 Done

Finished 20 books this month out of the target of 50 books. 30 more to go and 7 months to complete them...

Hmm... looks like I can beat my target....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Whats You Reading?

People reading this blog, share with me your current reading list and likes if you find the time....

Cheers,
Gopal

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Rozabal Line

Rating: 2/5

Genre: Thriller/Consipracy

The Rozabal Line is Ashwin Sanghi's first book and it clearly shows. The plot line is mainly based on The Lost Years of Jesus Christ and on the theory that Jesus survived his crufixion and spent his last years in India.

Sanghi has mixed almost all the conspiracy theories that one can associate with religion and Christianity in particular like Jesus was a Dalai Lama incarnate and learnt Hindu Vedas and Buddhist scriptures during his lost years, He married and had a family that survives to date, the Church that fears the revelation of this fact, the tomb of Jesus is located in India - Kashmir in particularthe consistent fact that Jesus was not the sole person who was born of virgin birth and was reborn from the dead, the similarities that exist between modern day Christianity and older so called pagan religions like Mithras, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the doomsday theory of 21 Dec 2012.

In addition to this already heady cocktail of religious synonymy Sanghi adds an angle of terrorism inspired by radical Islamism courtesy Osama Bin Laden, championed by a secret faction of the Church called Crux Decussata Permuta funded by Opus Dei which in turn is being manipulated by The Illuminati led by the members of Order of Skull & Bones.

The book reads more of a travelogue than a conspiracy thriller at some places and it becomes really difficult to manage the plot lines. In some chapters Sanghi traverse the entire known historical span starting from 3500 B.C to 1998 A.D. That's quite a leap to digest in one single chapter. After sometime the plot becomes predictable with the author hinting at his major expose quite a few times in the preceding chapters.

The characters of the book are another major flaw. As there is no continuity in the plot the characters are not so well developed, the readers (in particular myself) are never given time to identify or associate with one character. The lead protagonist in this case Father Vincent is even more in dark about what's happening around him that the reader. It takes the fun out of what could have been a really, really good book.

My opinion is that Sanghi had a good idea to start with but somewhere during the process of putting thoughts to paper things got screwed up to a great extent. It would have made a thrilling read if the author had the patience to try for the multi-book approach rather than trying to cram all known theories in just a few hundred pages.

As a series I'm sure Sanghi would have gotten plenty of time to make the characters more believable and also he could have spent a lot of time in laying down the plot in a more organized manner than just relaying them as a collection of facts.

Verdict: Skip it if you have anything better to read.

The Maya Codex

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

The Maya' s - An ancient civilization that was capable of accurate predictions based on astrological planetary movements. A civilization which foresaw the end of world on 21-Dec-2012 and took steps to protect and hide the ominous prediction and its resolution until the time was right.

The Maya Codex - the legendary codex written by the Maya to help prevent the destruction of world. The catch - it's hidden and can be found only when the time is right.

The Maya created 3 figurines to protect the path to the codex. The 3 figures had to be placed at the exact place on the dawn of 21-Dec-2012 solstice to reveal the path to the Codex. The figurines themselves were hidden deep in the Guatemalan jungles to protect them from falling into unsafe hands.

It is on this premise that "The Maya Codex" is based on. The hunt for the codex spans over 70 years, starting from Nazi Germany and ending in the jungles of Guantemala. Levi Weizman - an archeologist famous for his work on the Maya is engaged by Hienrich Himmler to find the connection between the Maya and the Aryan Master race. Weizman is Jew and not trusted by the Nazi's.

Meanwhile Weizman is using the expedition as cover to do his own research into the Maya Codex and find to find the figurines that lead to it. The third player in this story is the Vatican, the Church led by Cardinal Felici don't want the Maya Codex found and shown to the world as they fear that it may contain something that destabilizes the Church.

To get their hands on the Codex the Church forms an unofficial alliance with the Nazis. The Church's influence is managed through the Americans who also have their own interest in the Codex.

As Levi Weizman and his family get caught up in the holocaust, he manages to hide 2 of the figurines found by him and hide the clues that point to the third figurine and the codex.

Fast forward to the present, the search for the Codex continues and so does the quest to control it. Caught in this power struggle is Curtis O' Connor who is sent to assasinate Dr. Aleta Weizman Levi's granddaughter who is following his footsteps to discover the Maya Codex. As Connor joins Aleta in her quest, he also becomes a target to be eliminated.

As the date of destruction draws near, Connor and Weizman are caught in a race to find the Maya Codex before time runs out and all hell in unleashed.

The book continues in the same vein as the previous d' Hage books. The underlying theme of the book remains the same as that of the other two: "There is more than one way to Omega".

Verdict: Read it.

The Midas Code (aka The Vault)

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Tag Line: "He who controls this map controls the riches of Midas...."

Legends tell the story of a legendary king whose touch turned things to gold. The touch became so famous as did the King that even today a person who profits from any undertaking is said to have the touch - King Midas's Touch.

It is very sad that stories such as that of King Midas's have been left unsaid as more and more writers today focus on contemporary terrorism and combat novels rather than indulge in the lore' s of old. Terror sells these days literally.

Tyler Locke - engineering genius who likes nothing better than tinkering with machines and creating new machines is held to ransom by a master thief Jordan Orr who wants Locke to lead him to King Midas's Tomb. Before Locke can say no or scoff at Orr, Orr delivers a chilling message to Locke - the ferry Locke is commuting in has been rigged to blow. That is unless Locke can disarm the bomb.

Locke finds the bomb and learns that to disarm it he must solve an engineering puzzle in ancient Greek. Surprisingly Locke finds that the puzzle has been put together by him a couple of days ago using the pages from Archimedes's Codex provided by Orr. As Locke disarms the bomb with help from Stacy Benedict a classical language expert, he learns another truth from Orr - his father has been kidnapped along with Stacy's sister. To save them Locke & Stacy must find the tomb of Midas in Naples in 5 days failing which Orr will kill his hostages.

As Locke and Stacy race across London and Naples to decipher the map left behind by the legendary inventory Archimedes using his manuscript, they confront the sexy and ruthless Gia Cavanno - an Italian crime boss who's on her own quest to find the Tomb; take the riches for herself and kill Orr in that order.

Caught in the struggle between two ruthless and cunning enemies' hell bent on outwitting each other and claiming the secret of King Midas for them, Locke and Benedict must forge an alliance and work with Orr while waiting for an opportunity to strike even or rescue the hostages from his grasp.

As Locke with his friend Westland and Stacy move closer to the tomb they find that Cavanno & Orr have been tracking their every step inspite of their best efforts. The Midas Code uses The Archimedes Codex, the Antikythera Mechanism and the Stomachion to weave a plausible tale of King Midas's Tomb and his golden touch which is still active after 2000 years.

As Locke tries to outwit both his adversaries while trying to find the Tomb, he also finds that Orr is planning on using a dirty bomb somewhere in the United States.

Verdict: The Midas Code is an amazing mystery put together using ancient puzzles and modern scientific technology. Read it.

The Ark

Rating: 4/5
 
Genre: Thriller/ Treasure Hunt
 
It's hard to believe that The Ark is Boyd Morrison's debut novel. The book has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster. The plot is good, the characters are believable, and the pace is frenetic.
 
Morrison delivers with a believable hero. Tyler Locke is an engineering genius. An ex-army man as well as founder/partner in Gordian Engineering, Locke stands out as hero. Grant Westland as his Man Friday and best friend is also well etched.
 
The plot basically involves a psycho billionaire cultist Sebastian Garrett trying to engineer Armageddon to push his own version of utopia post the Armageddon. Garrett is not your normal villian, he's an ubervillian; he's calm, suave and with pot loads of money. He also has the plan, a team and the meaness required to get any scheme of his through.
 
The protagonist and antagonists are evenly matched with Locke, Kenner, and Westland on one side leading the good, while Garrett, Petrova and Cutter are evil personified. Both sides look evenly matched in access to technology and resources and it's a case of who blinks first throughout the book.
 
The entire quest revolves around finding Noah's Ark. The quest embarked on by Dilara Kenner's father Hasad Arvandi which leaves him dead in the opening scenes of the book. It is followed by the death of his close friend Sam Watson trying to deliver a warning to Arvandi’s daughter Dilara at the LAX airport. What follows are multiple attempts on Kenner's life while she meets up with Tyler Locke to get his help in resolving the clues.
 
Trying desperately to survive while trying to find out who’s out to kill them Locke & Kenner engage the formidable resources of Gordian Engineering while simultaneously trying to figure out the clues provided by Watson in his dying breath.
 
The clues lead them to Sebastian Garrett who has somehow managed to create a biological virus capable of destroying everything in its path using the artifacts found during Harvadi' s quest for Noah' s ark and is planning on using it to engineer an Armageddon and thrust his version of the world on the remnants of the society. Garrett with his Holy Hydronastic Church plans to be the new age Noah, Hitler and Gandhi all rolled into one.
 
Tyler & Dilara race against time to stop Garrett and also find Noah's Ark to discover the type of biological virus that Garrett is threatening the world with.
 
Morrison also shows a complex depth to his characters by showing the friction between the Locke father and son and has left scope for developing the characters in depth in the future books.
 
Verdict: Enjoyable. Read it if you are fan of James Rollins, Steve Berry and Matthew Reilly. Morrison has found ways to fit in aspects of all there into one book and in the process delivered a stunner.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Iron Bra

Rating: 2.5/5

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Book 1 of the Mumbai Noir Series

One of India's First English Crime Novels, The Iron Bra by Ashok Banker deals with Mumbai Underworld.

Sheila Ray daughter of the infamous Ashok Ray - an undercover cop who was betrayed by both the sides leading him to leave the city in disgrace and shame. Unable to deal with the notoriety Ray tops himself leaving his daughter to fend for herself. Now that daughter is back to the city where it all started. She wants the truth on why her father was betrayed and by whom. She's also looking for vengeance against those who were responsible for her father's suicide. But in a city where relations and friendships change at the drop of hat and nothing is as it seems, Sheila is caught in the classic dilemma whom to trust and whom not to.

Banker takes his readers into the gory underside of Mumbai that exists just below the surface, just below the glamour and jazz that the city is known for. The intimate coterie between cops and gangsters the only friend you have is a dead one.

Set in the 1980's Mumbai teeming with corruption and bhaigiri; Banker's story has a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes. But as he writes "In 1980's India speaking English well or badly was a political statement". The book also suffers from plenty of blood and gore or as Banker is wont to say "offals". 

The amount of abuse the heroine undergoes towards the end of the book makes her seem almost like Jesus reincarnated. While reading those sections I felt as it I was watching a bad remake of the passion of Christ. But to be fair to Banker he envisioned & published the book much, much before Mel Gibson released the movie.

While the protagonist happens to be a gun toting Lara Croft wannabe women, at some place through the book it falls flat as Banker has tried too hard on the gory aspects of the book. Still it is a breezy way enough to get through and in Banker's patented style, fast paced to read.

Verdict: Read it if you don't have anything better to do on a hot afternoon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review Upate

Hectic Weekend. Read two books over the weekend,  The Iron Bra by Ashok Banker and The Ark by Boyd Morrison. Also reading The Maya Codex by Adrian d'Hage during travelling.

Gonna finish The Last Templar today. Planning on reviewing all these books in one go in the up coming week.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Best Thing About You Is You!

Rating: 4/5

Quotable Quotes: "Bheega Hua Aadmi Baarish Se Nahin Darta"
"Comparison Begets Regrets"
"It is not enough to succeed; others must fail"
"Most of us are driven by sadistic instincts"

Anupam Kher's new book teaches valuable life lessons. It tells nothing new than the things that we already know but are not ready to either understand or acknowledge. The books is divided into multiple chapters; each dealing with a small facet of life.

Kher does not try to be preachy but he rather breaks down the more important things in life to small easy to understand pieces. The book is more about you discovering yourself and finding things about yourself that make you tick, makes your life worth living.

In this book Anupam Kher has distilled years of wisdom handed down from generation to generation in a format easy to read and understand by today’s generation. He has cut across the meaningless platitudes and gotten straight to the point.

It’s a coffee table book for people who want refresher course to life lessons. This book is a must read for folks who are confused and want solution to life’s problem fast.

The Beijing Conspiracy

Rating: 3/5

Quotable Quote: ‘Compromise is not a weakness but a wisdom’

This is the message that Adrian d'Hage seeks to send out through his latest offering "The Beijing Conspiracy". In a world scattered by ever growing differences in ideology and faith, d'Hage seeks to emphasize on his message that we are more alike than we are different and that our differences are something to be rejoiced and learnt rather than discarded and diminished.

Carrying on the theme established in his first book The Omega Scroll d'Hage explores the concept of biological terror attacks this time around. Dr. Khaled Khadeer the mastermind of Al-Qaida from the Uighur Mountains of China launches a series of brazenly evocative terror strikes at America and her forefront allies in the so called war on terror - UK and Australia. The attacks start off in Australia and lead to a chilling coordinated dirty bomb strikes on San Francisco, London and Sydney.

The attacks are preceded by warnings messages, where Dr. Khaled lays down some simple rules for the Western countries to follow: Stop the incessant war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Engage the governments of Syria and Iran in talks, Withdraw from the holy land of Mecca & stop ignoring the systematic human rights abuses in China and Saudi Arabia. The message contains coded warnings of the strikes to happen and speaks of a final solution, a biologically engineered virus “Ebolapox” combining both Ebola & smallpox which will be released in time for the Beijing Olympics.

With the incumbent government hardening its stand of not talking with terrorists and being involved too much in rhetoric and chest thumping, it left unto CIA agent Curtis O'Connor and leading virologists Dr. Imran Syed and Dr. Kate Brainwaithe to stop Dr. Khadeer from releasing the virus on unsuspecting people.

The plot is good and what makes it believable is that the attacks orchestrated as a part of the warnings can be seriously be implemented. Modern day terrorists don't lack for the means, be it anything money, equipment, intelligence. Human greed and vanity is perhaps our greatest bane and combined with the rise of power hungry people looking to push their own agendas no city in the world is safe. There is only so much that can be done by the people out defending us.

The events leading up to the first warning occupy some 60 odd chapters while the warnings and the aftermath are covered in the remaining 40 odd chapters. The latter half of the story seems rushed as it the author were trying to end the story to keep the page count down.

The book holds a person's attention; but it was too hastily wrapped up. The author spent a lot of time in laying down the groundwork for the events in the book, the events themselves were a bit short on the detail and the story came to an abrupt end with several plotlines left hanging. Too many things are left unfinished like what happens to Khadeer at the end. The animosity Khadeer harbors towards the Han Chinese in general and General Ho in particular. Even though the book is called “The Beijing Conspiracy” it does not go much into China and the Olympics are just mentioned in the passing as if it’s being used as a plot handle rather than being an event of significant importance.

It still makes a good read and throws up a lot of common sense ideas to stop the world going down the drain hand over fist.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reading Dilemma

When you read as much as I do after a certain amount of time plot fatigue sets in. Most of the scenes seem to reproduced from one book or another and overall reading loses it's charm. So what keeps a prolific reader going. I have known people who have read fictions for more than 25 years and are still not bored by it. Similarly I have also known people who have started experimenting with other genres like literary fiction, philosophy, non-fiction and have found themselves enriched for it.

So here infront of us we have two options: One to entrech and other to find new avenues, my solution lies in somewhere in the middle. I believe this solution will appeal to most of us. Personally I have found it difficult to stay away from fiction for long. While I am open to experimenting with other genres, fiction is where my heart and soul belongs. Put in my hands an adventure thriller from Matthew Reilly or a spell binding mystery from Dan Brown or Colin Forbes and I'm sold. You will not hear a peep out of me until I'm done with it.

So what do I do when fiction gets too much for me, simply put I diverge. I read some biographicals of people I admire like Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Kishore Biyani, Indian Business Leaders or I indulge in my other love - Historicals.

History has always fascinated me. At one point in time I was ready to take the plunge into the world of dusty old tomes and the legacy left behind for us. It was only the notion that I would starve to death and perhaps the feeling that it may not make me enough money for the rest of my life that made me take the plunge into the scientific world of computers. The rest they say is history... how ironic.

I digress. History has always been an area of my interest. I am particularly interested in ancient Indian history and civilization. Alas there are so few books available in this particular genre and what is available is staid enough to put a dinosaur to sleep. William Dalrymple is one author who comes to mind when talking about historicals. His books on the Mughal era are particularly well researched and well written.

Another excellent genre is satire. There are so few authors who can write satire without coming across as rude and condescending that it's almost impossible to find good books to read in this area. Tom Sharpe comes to mind immediately while talking about this genre. I picked up his book  Indecent Exposure based on the recommendation from my friend Praveen in shelfari.com and I must say that I have come away impressed. The term black comedy suits this one aptly. Based on an apartheid South Africa, this has to be read to be believed.

Apart from these I also like to read investigative accounts of journalisms. Sometime across I came across a book called The Sniper it's a biography of a sniper who was active on the Af-Pak border in the current ongoing war on terror. A couple of other books have also caught my attension, but alas I have been unable to lay my hands on them so far despite my best attempts. Prominent among them is Dominique Lapierre's book on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that happened in India. Aptly titled Five Past Midnight in Bhopal the book tells The Epic Story of World's Deadliest Industrial Disaster.

Any book the reader feels that changed their prespective on how things are looked at in life, please mention. I would be glad to find some good material to read.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Blog Update

I have just finished changing the blog schematics. For those of you who are new here's what the blog covers:

Blog Name: The LIT Stop (Name courtesy my good friend Akki.. U bro are a rockstar!!!)
Blog Link: http://thelitstop.blogspot.com/
Blog Sections:

  1. Home: All the new posts will appear here.
  2. General Updates: All the posts which are labelled as General Updates can be accessed from this section
  3. Book Reviews: All my book reviews reviewed under the same label will be available here.
  4. Reading Lists: Periodically I embark on reading challenges. Those will be listed and tracked in this section.
  5. Author Profile: I will be doing a series of Author Profiles whose writings I don't miss. This section may also contain posts from my friends reviewing their favorite author too...
Thats all the update for now folks.... 3 posts in 1 day... I'm a spree... 

Whoooooooooohooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

New Release

Good News for all Ashok Banker fans out there. Ashok is releasing the first book of his Ithihasa Series - Ten Kings (Dararajna). Refer to the communique below for more details.

Have an action-packed summer!

eBOOK AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD BY END-MAY
The Battle That Founded The Bharata Nation!
Based on the Rig-Veda and verified by scholars,
historians and archaeologists, this is the story
of King Sudas and the impossible battle
he was forced to fight against a far superior
force led by Ten Kings (‘Dasarajna’ in Sanskrit)
comprised of his neighbors and allies led by
his friend Anu, instigated by Anu’s guru Vishwamitra,
in a bid to wipe out Sudas and his ‘Shudra’ tribe
and take control of the rich fertile lands they guarded
on behalf of the ‘Bharata’ nation.
The place where they fought later became the
site of the city of Harappa, possibly the first modern
urban center in history, and the nation established
in that region later came to be called…
BHARAT
A rousing battle epic that flags off the Itihasa Series:
A historical fiction series retelling the major landmarks
of Indian history from Vedic times to the present day.

only from
AKB eBOOKS
www.akbebooks.com

Book Your Copy Now!!!
All contents above are the copyright of AKBeBooks.

The Omega Scroll

The Omega Scroll - Adrian d'Hage
A novel set across decades. Lines which converge across religion, brother pitted against brother. Adrian d'Hage's Omega Scroll offers a bold look at religion and the way it is being practiced the world over. d'Hage dares to tread across paths not trod before and tells what every human being on this planet knows inherently, "We are more similar than we are different irrespective of the faiths that we practice"

Be it a Palestinian-Israel conflict or a Christian-Muslim-Jew trifecta, the approach taken is always and without forethough hardline. The belief that there is only 1 true religion and it's being practised by them. The best part of the faith has been lost in the cacophny of personal beliefs being pounded on the masses day in and day out.

"Faith is". Faith co-exists. There is no one true faith, all are equal and equally right and wrong in turns. The ability to learn from our faith and to allow it to evolve with times is what should have made human civilization the pinnacle of achievement and self-assuredness. The message comes across as brilliantly simple, but sometimes the simple things are the ones that are the hardest to practice.

One quote stands out from the novel. Said by Father Giovanni - "The truth will set us free. Let us follow our various paths in peace instead of war. For there is, more than one path to the Omega."

This book makes me believe that we can solve all our problems only if we are willing to listen.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blog Rejig Plans

I plan to realign the blog on the lines drawn above (pun intended). The plan is to expand the blog from the current random hapharzard way of posting to a more organized and methodical way.

The blog will be divided into different sections like:
  1. Author Profile: Here I will be doing a profile of my favourite authors. Why a particular author's books appeals to me more than somebody else? The favourite books from a particular series, the best attributes of the particular author and so on. 
  2. Book Reviews: I will be reviewing the books that are I have read. Currently I plan to review only the books that I have read in this year. I also plan to add the reviews of the books that I have read in the past slowly as time progresses. In case any person reading the blog wants to write about their favourite book they would be welcome to post here. All credits will be given to the author of the specific review.
  3. Reading As Passion:  I plan to tell my journey into reading and how it has shaped my life as a person in this section. I have been reading for quite sometime now and I plan to share my thoughts through this medium. Purely for personal benefit, if this section convinces a skeptic to start reading for fun, then it would have acheived it's goal.
  4. General Updates: Here I will be keeping track of my book challenges, the books being read in a week, the challenge for an year, and so on. I also invite the readers to share their personal goals and committments for the upcoming year and how they are progressing. Maybe we can make a game out of it and make reading more fun all those involved.
All that said and done. This is an ambitious agenda and one that will require a lot of time and effort from my end. To that end I stay committed to work on it as a personal improvement project and also use this medium as an outlet for my thoughts and emotions.

Here's to staying on track and for realization of plans. Amen.

Cheers,
Gopal

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Re-org

Planning to re-org & realign my blogs this weekend. Gonna bin the posts which are mediocre and keep only those which are good or provide some information.

I am also going to revamp the entire structure of the reading blog to bring it more inline with my expectations.

As usual suggestions and any other helpful comments/ideas will be appreciated. I am also in deviating from my usual hiding behind the scenes look to post a personal profile too... I hope to make this blog as entertaining as possible and also to make sure that readers are having more fun and feel what I personally feel about reading a book.

Cheers.

Update

The heat is on... I have revised my target of reading 50 books to 60 books this year and so far I'm behind the pace by  5% or by 2 books.

Last week I was reading 5 books here's the update on them:
This week I'm gonna plod my way through the following books:

1. Temple of Gods - Andy McDermott - FINISHED. Rating: 3/5

2. The Best Thing About You is You! - Anupam Kher (Reco by my sis.. Says it;s good. Wait for my review) - FINISHED -  Rating 4/5. Review over the weekend, need to collect all the memorable quotes from this one.

3. The Last Templar - Raymond Khoury (It's been on my reading list forever. The story is good enough, but I haven't found the patience to finish it in 1 go.) - Still in progress.... God When am I going to finish it.

4. The Four-Week Countdown Diet: Now You Choose How you Lose - Namita Jain (Again given to me by my sis. This 1 i'm sure will take a loooong time to be done and over with. Review will come up as usual) - Inprogress

5. Indecent Exposure - Tom Sharpe. Now this one came up from my friend Praveen's Shelfari. It's a supposedly black humor satrical book on aparatheid South Africa. Looked intriguing. - FINISHED. Loved it!!!!! Will Review in a marathon session covering 3 books completed in the week.
 
I am also looking for ideas to revamp my blog maybe categorize it a littel better to help people find what they want to read easily rather than trawl through all the stuff.. Ideas, Suggestions, criticisms welcome....
 
Cheers.......

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reading This Week

This week I'm gonna plod my way through the following books:

1. Temple of Gods - Andy McDermott
2. The Best Thing About You is You! - Anupam Kher (Reco by my sis.. Says it;s good. Wait for my review)
3. The Last Templar - Raymond Khoury (It's been on my reading list forever. The story is good enough, but I haven't found the patience to finish it in 1 go.)
4. The Four-Week Countdown Diet: Now You Choose How you Lose - Namita Jain (Again given to me by my sis. This 1 i'm sure will take a loooong time to be done and over with. Review will come up as usual)
5. Indecent Exposure - Tom Sharpe. Now this one came up from my friend Praveen's Shelfari. It's a supposedly black humor satrical book on aparatheid South Africa. Looked intriguing.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Lost Story

Rating: 2/5.

Suggestion: Skip it if you have anything better to read.

Read this one courtesy of my sister who had purchased the book. I generally do not read books by Indian Authors. Chetan Bhagat has dented my confidence in Indian Authors so badly that I don't dare buy any books written by them with the exception of Amish Tripathi, Ashok Banker and Ashwin Sanghi.

So the only occasion that I get to read Indian authors is when my sister comes for a visit as she buys Indian authors and digs them as a matter of fact.

The premise for the plot is good, it is a collaboration effort between two authors Gupta & Goyal who write either the first part or the second part of the story. The condition is that they do not discuss the plot lines or the plot progress with each other. The base story is interspersed with short stories. The short stories are well done in patches.

Some stories are good and intriguing enough to read, but there are also stories which give you an headache. The base plot is a combination of both and leaves you with the hangover.

The story crosses over so many times that the entire narration appears to be blotched and ruins the plotline IMO.

Kingdom - Tom Martin

07 April 2012
Book 8 of 50


The book caught my interest because it was based on Tibet. A problem prone and intriguing area geo-politically. The combination of Tibet and Shangri-La in 1 book; it was a given that I was gonna pick this one to read.


I expected something along the lines of adventure cum thriller, but it was a book that was deep in the mysticism, occult, black magic and shamanism. The expose on Shangri-La was much awaited through out the book, but when the characters reach the point we expect them to reach the mystical land all that we find is a third person description of it rather than a first person view point and the story just doesn't work for me.


It has potential but somewhere in the narrative the author was playing with too many angles, occult, Nazism, Shamanism, Tantric Yoga and what not. As a result the plot was sacrificed and the end is not just upto the par on which the story starts.


Overall a disappointment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Atlantis - David Gibbins

22 March 2012
Book 5 of 50

Picked up this book by David Gibbins on a lark. Atlantis has always a held my fancy. In fact anything to do with ancient civilizations and I'm a sucker. I picked up the book as the burb looked interesting.

The plot was really good, but the problem was it got lost in too many technical details. Yes the writer comes from and archeaological background and it shows. A lot of page time is spent on academic and archealogical detail. I have no problems with details but they tend to be too long-winded and often made me lose the plot. I had to go back a few pages and figure out what exactly was happening w.r.t the characters before the technical explaination

IMO this was unnecessary and took focus away from the story structure. Most of the details that Gibbins spent pages on seemed more like a filler in the story to increase the page count that actually counting for anything in the story.

What also got my goat was that Atlantis has been lost for so many centuries and suddenly they find 1 clue and viola within a couple of days they have found the island, the people and have deciphered exactly what went wrong that caused the civilization to disappear. It sounded a bit far fetched to me. Also there are a lot holes w.r.t to the characters. Nothing is mentioned about Jack Howard and Costas friendship except that they were in Intelligence together. Also Howard doesn't really show any qualities that should inspire others.

Mid-way through the story we have a villian coming in with delusions of grandeur. Howard is able to take out the entire group of villians by himself while being shot and bleeding from his wounds makes him look like a Rambo. The book started off as a treasure hunt and from there migrated into the realms of thriller and action/adventure; ultimately doing justice to neither.
So I would rate it 2.5/5 in general. I'm gonna read the next book in the hopes that the author improves his writing style once he's has some experience.

Empire of Gold - Andy McDermott

21 March 2012
Book 4 of 50

Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase are back again in Book#7 by Andy McDermott. This time it is Venezuela & Peru which is their in their cross sites. The mysterious statues introduced in The Cult Of Osiris and The Sacred Vault is brought to the fore again.

There is a 3rd statue and a mysterious organization called Group wants them all. But they need Nina Wilde's help to put together all the statues. Wilde and Chase are put on it's trail by Ankit Jindal the interpol head of cultural investigations who's working on the side for the Group. In their quest for the City of Gold - El Dorado, the come across the Incan site  deep in Venezuelan forest which is being looted by a General in Venezuelan Army looking to depose the current regime; while collaborating with drug dealers and a mercenary psycho ex-SAS officer Stikes from Chase's past.

The path from leads from Venezuela to Peruvian mountains, where the group finds the legendary city of Gold and the final bit of the statue only for Stikes to snatch it from them. Eddie's friend Mac gets murdered by Ankit while trying to protect the statues from being blown (that Mac was targetting Stikes was just a moot point according to Ankit).

The book ends with Eddie being accused of Ankit's murder and being chased by the law enforcement authorities the world over and Nina being in two minds as to weather Eddie is guilty or not. Eddie's ex-wife Sophie Blackwood comes back from the dead and the Group forms an alliance with Stikes to get to the end objective which is a mystery continued in the next book.

What irks me while reading is the constant bickering between Eddie and Nina. While it is a part of their relationship, the problem is there is no counter balance to it and the fights between the pair come across quite often as scripted or staged.

On to The Temple of Gods tor resolve the mystery then!!!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Currently Reading

Currently I'm reading 3 books from 3 different authors at the same time. Talk about variety and spice...
  1. On my mobile device I'm reading Atlantis - Book 1 of the Jack Howard Series by David Gibbins.
  2. On my comp I'm reading The Empire of Gold - Book 7 of the Nina Wilde & Eddie Chase series by Andy McDermott
  3. In hardback I'm reading The Stonehenge Legacy by Sam Christer borrowed from my local library.
I'm hoping to finish these 3 books this week and make a dent in a couple more over the weekend to bringing my reading up to speed.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Update!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been out of touch with my reading for the past month or so. Too many things to do and not much time in the day to do them all and my time reading ended up being the sacrifice to manage the other tasks on my plate; but no more.

This week I'm planning on reading at least a couple of books and I am glad to say that I have made a start with "Atlantis" - David Gibbins. The plot premise looks interesting enough, lets see how the book pans out. Also on my hit list for this week is Andy McDermott's latest books Temple of Gods and the Empire of Gold. Both featuring his characters Nina Wilde and Eddie Chase. Thats my quota of books to read in a week. Lets hope that I am able to make good progress on them.

By the way while trawling the web looking for good sites that host epubs, I came across this very interesting site called epubbud.com. The site provides the epubs compatible with iphone/Kindle/Nook for most of the popular authors. If anybody wants to download some good books, this the place to surf and search for it.

Another website which scores high on providing the complete bibliography, burbs and information about the authors is fantasticfiction.co.uk. You will find the details of almost all the authors here along with all the books that they have released so far. The only thing that irritates about this site is the background & color schema, it acts as an irritant on the eye.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Micro - Micheal Crichton

Book 3 of 2012

I thought the story was too much along the lines of the movie "Honey I shrunk the kids" granted the terminology is rather new mapping towards the latest trends in microbiology and nanotechnology, but the plot had too many biological factors for me to deal with.
It got so bad that I could not even work on completing the book. Maybe I'll go back to it after a couple of months and finish it...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book of Lies - Brad Meltzer

Book#2 out of 40

Finished reading The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer today. I liked the premise of the book, but overall it was too confusing and the characters lacked depth to connect to the story properly.

The protagonist Cal's character is not well defined. It lacks the empathy that a person needs to connect to the upheavals in the story. Also mostly the plot was confusing, as the story premise said it was about finding the world's first murder weapon, but the plot switched tracks so many times that I lost count. Starting from the book, the plot introduced a special gun that was used to murder Jerry Seigel's father and is now used to shoot Cal's father, the gun is indicated as important, but it sort of gets misplaced in the entire story.

The antagonist's id is easily suspected, the writer leaves enough holes for you to guess the suspect before long and it's sort of disappointing.

Overall I would rate this only 2/5 and that too only for the story outline.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Scarecrow And The Army of Thieves

Book 1 in 2012.
The ULTIMATE HERO is back. Book 5 of the Shane Schofield series (Scarecrow And The Army of Thieves) is bigger, better and deadlier than ever.

Anarchy... That is the theme in the latest Shane Schofield adventure. Matt Reilly sets this book on the other side of the hemisphere from the Ice Station. Artic Circle - the home to The Dragon an cold war Soviet base which has an atmospheric weapon which when unleashed will cause acid rains on the entire northern hemisphere bringing untold damage to Russia, China, India and the US...

The Dragon has been taken over by The Army of Thieves a renegade band of fanatics loyal to their leader "Lord of Anarchy". The Army sets the tone for the conflict when it promises to unleash the weapon in 5 hours. Their demand: Nothing. Their objective: Total Anarchy.

With Russia scrambling to protect the base unleashes a nuke at it inorder to prevent the weapon from being unleashed, the nuke is re-targeted back to it's base by the Army leaving a chilling message, they have the capabilities and resources to withstand any attack. The US President mobilizes any US asset in the area to help prevent this imminent catastrophe.

The ULTIMATE HERO is then thrown headlong into this chaos, having only Mother, The Kid, Mario, Zack, Emma, Chad and Bertie - the robot for company. Testing weapons for the Marines in the Artic after the repeated assasination attempts by the French DGSE wanting a piece of him for the floating bounty put on his head by the French for his actions in Scarecrow, the "Scarecrow" is dealt with an hand that has seemingly insurmountable odds.

With the diabolical Lord of Anarchy anticipating the "Scarecrows" every move, thwarting his every action and messing with his head by invoking his past.. Schofield has a tough task at hand.

The book sets a frenetic pace with the action jump starting from the first page and not letting go till the end. This one is a page turner and a must read for adrenaline junkies.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 - Target 40

Happy New Year to all of those reading this!!!!!!!!

As I said in my previous post, it has been long since I updated this blog & even longer since I have written any book review. Of late reading has been on the wane, but nothing like a new year and a new season to look forward to rejuvenate the reading habit.

So this year, I am targetting to read atleast 40 books (novels and everything included, except for the technical books) starting off on my list of books is continuing with the Stephen Frey Series - The Chairman. Post that I am open to any suggestions from my friends, colleagues or even my blog readers about books that are good to read.

I am also particularly looking to expand my horizons into the literary fiction genre, something which I have avoided so far - to my loss as per my friend Pravin. So I'm gonna lookup some books from his shelfari and maybe get started with them.

Also these past few weeks reading through Wikipedia has kindled my imagination on history, particularly Indian History; I would like to read William Dalrymple's series exploring Indian History, particularly The Last Mughal.

I am also planning on catching up the works of Ashok Banker, he's a author whose books in Indian Mythology are a favourite of mine. I am planning on finishing the Ramayana Series by reading the last book "The King of Dharma" which is an omnibus version consisting of "The Vengence of Ravana" and "The Sons of Sita" the Books 7 & 8 of the series. Post that I shall moving onto The Mahabharata Series starting with the "The Forest of Stories".

His next installment of the Krishna Coriolis Series "The Fortress of Dwaraka" is also something I am waiting for.

Continuing on the theme of Indian Authors another book that I am eagerly waiting for is "The Oaths of Vayuputra" from the Shiva Trilogy by Amish. This series has to be one of the best books I have read this year. I loved the first two books "The Immortals of Meluha" and "The Secrets of Nagas". So here's hoping for a early release.

A book I'm currently desperate to get my hands on the fifth in the Shane Schofield Series "Scarecrow & The Army of Thieves" by Matt Reilly. The book is out and I'm searching the nearest outlets if they have it.