Monday, December 2, 2013

An excerpt from the Omega Scroll

This is one of the best speeches I have read within a book, this one made me a fan of Adrian D'Hage for highlighting the best part of religion and the way we are same, rather than the way we are different.

‘In the one hundred and fifty thousand years or so that we have inhabited this planet,’ Giovanni began when the applause had died down, ‘we have fought and killed each other, only to have one war finish and another one begin. Sometimes it seems that we have not taken the slightest notice of the lessons of history, but I am here tonight to tell you that there are two great leaders behind me who understand the futility of killing your brother or sister.’
Yusef shivered as he fingered the small transmitter hidden in his pocket. From the shadows of the control marquee next to the podium that was located to one side of the Damascus Gate, he stared at the brother he no longer knew. The two had not spoken since that fateful day they had buried their family.
‘Too often these wars have been fought in the name of religion and culture,’ Giovanni said. ‘As a Christian I can tell you that is not what Christ had in mind. He didn’t believe that one man’s faith and culture is better than another’s and that we should all fight to the death to prove it. The Prophet Muhammad was also a man of great tolerance and justice,’ Giovanni continued. ‘He is credited with saying “if you wish for others what you wish for yourself, you become a Muslim”, which has given rise to the Golden Rule. Sadly though, the Muslim is often portrayed in the media as a terrorist or a fanatic. I have come to know the true Muslim as a man and woman of peace and prayer. I have also had the privilege of meeting many marvellous men and women of the Jewish faith, a faith that alongside Islam and Christianity shares the one father, Abraham. So often we seem to behave like a bad family, arguing over his will, over what we think belongs to us. There are some within the Jewish religion who claim Abraham for their own, maintaining that God’s blessings and the land are only for the Jewish people. There are some Muslims who claim Abraham as the model for Islam alone; and there are some of my own faith who would claim that the promises given to Abraham have only ever been fulfilled by Christ.’ Giovanni smiled. ‘Abraham is entitled to be a little confused.’ Laughter reverberated off the ancient walls. ‘Like all good fathers, Abraham has been all of those things to all his children. It would be a very strange God who, having created a Muslim child in Baghdad, or a Christian child in Bogotá, or a Jewish child in Berlin, would then turn around and close the gates of the Kingdom to two thirds of those children because they were not born into the correct culture.’ Giovanni was being characteristically bold in his quest for greater peace and tolerance. This comment, he knew, would be greeted with quiet fury in the Vatican, but it was a stunning public admission from a cardinal that there was more than one path to the Omega, to eternity.
Yusef Sartawi listened. He was sceptical, but he was also touched by this man. Yusef felt the safety catch for the hundredth time, instinctively trusting this Christian priest, which made it more puzzling as to why the infidel would want him assassinated.
‘I know,’ Giovanni concluded, ‘that Abraham, Muhammad and Christ would all applaud this peace agreement as a turning point in the history of civilisation. A turning away from the killing and the bloodshed, a turning towards tolerance and recognition of the values of different cultures and religions. A move towards justice and peace.’

Kindle Paperwhite - WiFi

Well this year has been a busy one for me. What with flying overseas for a new client deputation, adjusting to new environments and people around me, it has been a roller coaster year for me.

One of the things that give me more happiness is that I have been able to buy a new Kindle for myself. Owning a Kindle has always been a dream of mine, since Jeff Bezos launched the e-reader, I have been dying to get my hands on one, but circumstances have always conspired against me to stop me from achieving my dream.

With the launch of the 2nd generation Kindle Paperwhite and me being in the right place at the right time, I have finally got my dream of getting my Kindle. Now the next stage is to convert and get my books onboarded to the Kindle so that I get going on it.

Here's to hours and hours of reading.

Diary of an Assassin - Victor Methos

Diary of an AssassinDiary of an Assassin by Victor Methos

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this books for free during a Kindle giveaway. The plot line intrigued me and it looked for some time that Victor Methos was trying to fit the shoes of Tom Wood and Issac Rhett could be another variation of Victor, but....

Diary of an Assassin starts intriguingly chronicling pages from the personal diary of assassin Issac Rhett. It starts off well enough to engage a reader by providing a peek into the private thoughts and thinking of a professional assassin. What does he think? Does he feel any regrets? Is he unfeeling?

Things are setup quite nicely when Rhett's conscience awakens long enough to make him not kill his next target Congresswoman Stephanie Michelle Johnson, who interestingly reminds Issac of his long dead wife. Predictably the organization that hires Issac does not take well to his betrayal and gets another assassin to bump off both Congresswoman and Issac, except for one tiny problem, the guy hired is a psychopath.

Here is where the book goes off the rails in my opinion. What starts off as a cat and mouse game between the two assassins soon gets tangled into a mess. The hired psychopath kills both Issac and the Congresswoman... (What's up with that?) and the plot moves to a game between the psychopath and Interpol investigator Henri who knows the assassin as they were buddies in army.

The book stops being the diary of Issac Rhett and turns into something else. It started off well but the story and plot got all convoluted and went way off track. But still I will rate it 3 stars as it was better than some of the other books that I have read before.

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Blood Gospel - James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrall

The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines, #1)The Blood Gospel by James Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

James Rollins delivers again. This is his second combination effort with Rebecca Cantrell after the short story The City of Screams.

The plot is fast paced and has multiple twists and turns which suit Rollins style of writing. Cantrell makes the impossible believable and that takes the novel to the next level.

The Order of Sanguines is an ancient Order formed from the reformed strigoi . They walk in the path shown by Jesus and are true to their vows given to him.

The strigoi are mindless vampires who slake their bloodthirstiness by feeding and turning humans.. the order has long fought against them. But now a new threat has emerged strigoi mated with human known as the Belial, who follow a foe who is as remarkable as he is ruthless.

In the center of this tug of war is a Gospel written by the Lord himself in his own blood, to help mankind at its most perilous moment.

The lot is gripping and writing keeps you on the edge hungry for more. The Book 1 of a new series in The Order of Sanguines is good enough to keep me on the tenterhooks for the remaining two books of the trilogy.

The chemistry between Father Rhun Korza, Sergent Jordan Stone and D. Erin Granger is dynamic enough to keep the plot and the action moving forward.

The explosive revelation of who the antagonist is in the whole plot at the end makes the ending all the more better. A good read in all.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Second Messiah -- Glenn Meade

The Second MessiahThe Second Messiah by Glenn Meade

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had high hopes from the book. But lately most of books that I am reading have been disappointing me to some or the other extent. The title "Second Messiah" sounds intriguing, but book never really takes off or meets the expectations.

The Second Messiah is never revealed. I never understood what the fuss was all about. The book did talk about the new Pope opening up the Church and going back to its simple and humble roots, but nothing ever comes out of it. The story and the revenge being taken by Hassan Mallik never fits.... it makes the entire plot look like plotted while the author was riding a merry-go-round.

The angle between Lela and Jack is botched, the characters never develop. Hassan's quest for revenge seems misplaced, Father Beckett could have been such a powerful character, the idea could have been made into so much more, but instead all we see of the Holy Father is fear, anxiety and lots and lots of second guesses.

I wanted to read this book badly, and at one point was even thinking of buying it, but after reading a copy through the library, I'm glad I waited. A one time read only that too when burrowed... If you have anything intriguing on your shelf to read and less time, I would suggest to get on with it and give this a miss....

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Amazon acquires GoodReads

Wow!!! I'm not sure what to think of this.... Amazon has been expanding its footprint in the world of digital publishing rapidly and without any opposition so far. Kindle revolutionized the way the publishing industry used to work and turned the digital print market - till then a nascent industry on its head and made digital publishing a market worth billions.

The other competitors were slow on the uptake and Amazon gave them no quarter. The online juggernaut was on at Amazon and there was no stopping it. If GOOGLE is synonymous with SEARCH then AMAZON is the godfather of the publishing industry.

Now Amazon has acquired GoodReads a social networking forum of bookworms. People like me who read too much and like to share their love of books with all asked or unasked. One of the primary reasons I moved from Shelfari another social networking book site was - you guessed it.. - Amazon acquired it and suddenly all Shelfari users had to login using Amazon accounts. It synced with your Kindle the moment you switched to Amazon account and auto published all the books present on your Kindle at Shelfari...

This last part for me became a little too much to digest. I'll share what I want to and of my own will not because Amazon or Kindle wants me to. Is a little privacy too much to ask in this digital age? The Shelfari login for those users who did not want to use Amazon account was buried under multiple clicks making life difficult for the users. It was either go Amazons way and get an Amazon account or don't login to Shelfari at all. All this made me look for alternatives and I landed up at GoodReads a couple of years back only to find that Amazon has followed me here too...

With the Shelfari experience fresh in my mind, I am as I said earlier not sure what to think of Amazon acquiring GoodReads. Has the time come for me to move on from GoodReads too?

The Oath Of Vayuputras - Amish Tripathi

The Oath of the Vayuputras (Shiva Trilogy, #3)The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first book of 2013. I was eagerly anticipating this one and was very disappointed that I could not get my hands on the book while I was in India. The book released a week after I left the country and I was on pins and needles waiting for my friends to get me a copy of the book.

While my friend came through for me, sadly Amish Tripathi did not. While the first two books in the series were amazing their own rights, the last one sadly left me dissatisfied with how the series ended.

What could have been an magnificent odyssey was reduced to a mere meandering.... What could have been the biggest quest for understanding the 'Evil' and how to face it turned out to be nothing more than a filmy drama of revenge. He who was a 'Mahadev' was reduced to being a mere mortal by the end of the tale...

The 2nd book built up on the evil that was about to be unleashed beautifully. Amish has his moments when he unveils the 'Somras' as the root of all the evils, but the book left a lot of questions unanswered than answering all of them. This I believe is because the author had too many plots in progress and ultimately ended up making a mash of everything else.

Maharishi Bhrigu, though introduced in the 2nd book is never given enough air time, and neither are his views clearly explained. It does not even make him as fearful as the characters in the book are of his legendary powers. Similarly the Vayuputras come across as a half baked plot.

For tribe left behind by Lord Rudra, they come across as very complacent, and it is also unclear as they do not recognize Shiva as Mahadev or Neelkanth, are they existing in parallel with the tribe left behind by Shiva. The tribe left behind by Shiva is the biggest blooper IMO.. I mean the Dalai Lama... seriously???

The end for the book was also a bit disturbing with Sati being killed and Shiva setting off the Pashupati-astra against Devagiri. IMO destroying Devagiri was not necessary at all as Shiva, Kali, Ganesh, Karthik and Parashuram destroyed the Saraswati in the end. So it was a bit of overkill with innocents paying for the mistakes of the few. In short with one decision Shiva destroyed the perfect empire of Lord Ram that he so admired in the first two books.

Also Sati appearing as two different mirages to Ganesh and Karthik and asking two opposite things from each of them was a bit wierd. Kali's personage was also reduced to that of mere servant rather than what the Queen of Naga demanded.

All in all the end to the series was more disappointing for me. I would have loved for Amish to have really come up with something which was in the vein of the first two books. While "The Immortals of Mehluha" thrilled me, "The Secrets of Nagas" amazed me, I must say that "The Oath of Vayuputras" disappointed me.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bad Luck in Berlin - A Short Story by Tom Wood

Bad Luck in Berlin: An Exclusive Short StoryBad Luck in Berlin: An Exclusive Short Story by Tom  Wood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The intrigue around Victor the assassin grows!!! The Hunter left Victor caught between a rock and a hard place. With no choice but to become a contract employee for CIA, Victor feels out of his depth while going about his everyday work.

Bad Luck in Berlin sets up the premise for Victor's career in CIA. Even  as Victor thinks of himself as a man without ties or any feeling of emotions, he plays the Samaritan to perfection while rescuing a pretty bartender from a fate worse than death even without her knowing it while earning a new nemesis for himself in the meantime. All this while doing his job of looking after his next target.

With this short story Tom Woods sets up a nice outline for his next book The Enemy where he continues Victors story.

The Hunter - Tom Wood

The HunterThe Hunter by Tom  Wood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great Debut!!! Tom Wood has set his protagonist as an Assasin a typical villan and the antagonist as CIA Agency.

The basic plot premise is imaginable, the chase sequences are exciting, but it is the insight and the view into the life of an assasin that scores Tom Wood an additional star from me.

I liked the book and am looking forward the read the follow-up short story and the next book set in the series.

The 13th Tablet - Alex Mitchell

The 13th TabletThe 13th Tablet by Alex Mitchell
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Bad. This word sums up my feelings on this book precisely. The burb on The 13th Tablet was intriguing which made me pick up this book. I was soon left regretting this decision.

Meet Mina Oswald -  modern day Cleopatra - as the author would like us to believe. She's an archeologist, a professor, a Ph.D student and beautiful to boot. What's not to like? Except for the tiny fact that she's dumb as a dodo and lets not talk about common sense.

The book came across more of the author trying hard to make the reader like Mina rather than focusing on the plot. Speaking of the plot, its bizzare as to how simple things are for the lady Indiana Jones to find out about the missing 13th Tablet. Talking about the tablets, the author starts off with 1 clay tablet which has a stone tablet hidden inside it which in a roundabout way leads the illustrious lady to another tablet.... I mean which one is the 13th is a mystery that is not solved even when the book ends.

Following the lady - as she trapises around the globe meeting scholars - like a lovesick puppy is Retired. Major John Hillcliff. He's so in love with his lady that the basic common sense soon deserts outs hero while is he's out trying to save the world beside his lady love. Add to that a more characters who fall in love/lust with Miss Oswald as soon as they lay their eyes on her (this includes the villan) the whole thing becomes boorish to the extreme.

There is no reason why the reader to empathise with Miss Oswalds quest, the Major comes across as a macho gone wrong, the author is confused between who to make the villan in this tale, the greedy bilionaire or the cultist leader and all it leaves the reader is a massive headache and a healthy dose of apathy towards the protagonists.

By the end of this book I couldn't care less if they succeeded, I just wanted the damn book to end.

Rare Earth - Michael Asher

Rare EarthRare Earth by Michael Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the best books that I have read in recent times. Set away from the usual hotspots like America, UK, Afghanistan, Pakistan, UAE or Europe, Rare Earth is an Africa based thriller. Michael Asher waves a spell binding tale of corruption, greed and power games over the rarest of the rare minerals found in a desolate part of Sudan occupied a nomadic tribe known as the Sanghrana.

Rare Earth follows the journey of archeaologist Dan Truman who gets drawn in the power struggle between two mining corporations over the rights to the patch yielding untold riches. Caught between them, Truman feels increasingly out of sync with the world as he currently knows it and finds peace at the very place he is sent to disturb.

Adapting the nomadic lifestyle and their customs Truman finally feels at home only for the outside world to make it appearance in the form of savage genocide waged against his people.

The rest of the plot is about how Truman walks a fine line between both the worlds to save his new home.

Ashok Banker - The Mythology Man

Mythological Stories are the part of every culture’s folklore and have a special place and significance in introducing the younger generation to the morals and values of their ancients and the Hindus are no different. The ancient Indian civilization was the hot bed of cultural, philosophical and scientific thoughts and these facts are well known throughout the world.

What’s not very well known is the scale of Indian mythology. In a generation and time obsessed by everything western, it’s very easy to forget the very rich school of thought inculcated by the Indian Mythological stories.

The world’s longest poem “The Mahabharatha”, the spiritual thought espoused by “The Bhagavat Gita”, the stories of Ayodhyan Prince Rama are just a few examples known throughout the world.

Children in my generation learnt about these works on the laps of their doting parents and grand-parents and through popular serials like “Ramayana” & “Mahabharatha”. It was sheer joy and pleasure to know and understand these stories of exemplary courage, devotion, brotherhood, friendship and so on. These epics taught me to see the world not in terms of black and white but in shades of grey. While it taught me that War is the ultimate reality, every effort that can be made to foster peace should be made before embarking on War and once you embark on War there should be no mercy, no empathy for the enemy until they are dead or defeated.

I missed those great days when these stories enriched my life and gave me new avenues of thought. But no more… There is hope on the horizon for the next generation of children to learn about these towering figures in the history. One Indian writer has embarked on a journey so enormous that it will take a lifetime to complete. It will be a journey of perseverance through odds but if anybody can pull it off it would be him.

Who? You ask. Ashok Banker – I say.

He is the Indian Mythology Man. The world has always been fascinated with Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, Rameses, Herod and so on... the list of Greek, Persian and Egyptian Kings is well known and well documented; so let me not regurgitate these names about which so much has already been written and so much more is being written.

Indian history on the other hand is not so well known or well complied, but that does not mean we lack great kings or that the achievements of these kings are any less significant that those mentioned above.

For example the King Sudas and his victory against the combined army and might of ten kings led by Anu in the battle of Dasarajna is a classical David vs. Goliath story. Just because it has been extensively document does not mean that is less of an achievement. It was this victory that laid to the foundation of the Bharata nation. Similar is the stories of the kings from the southern India like Raja Raja, Krishnadeva Raya, the Chola  and the Pandya kings of the old who lead their conquests far into the heartlands of Thailand and Indonesia. It is really very sad that we no longer remember these figures or are even taught about them but even today our history lesson are fraught with British conquest and Congress-led independence movement due to which we are aware of every British Viceroy of India starting from the East India Company to Mountbatten of British Empire.

Well I digress.. talking about Ashok Banker and his retelling of Indian Mythology, the Ramayana Series has won him the rave accolades and also got his books on the first 3 spots of the bestselling books on the internet list, Ashok Banker has embarked on an endeavor that will take an entire lifetime to complete.

He is planning on writing an Epic India Library comprising of more than 70 books and which can be categorized into Mythology, Itihasa, History and Future History.

The Mythology sections retelling of popular Indian Epic on a global scale like
  1. Ramayana (8 Books in all, all released) 
  2. Krishna Coriolis (8 Books in all, 7 Books released so far on the website)
The Itihasa section contains:
  1. Mahabharatha (18 books in total, 2 released so far on his website) As per the latest on this the Mahabharatha will now be a Pentalogy comprising all the 18 books into 5 Volumes. 
The History sections contains:
  1. Dasarajna (released).It has now been re-released as Ten Kings
  2. Mahavira
  3. Siddhartha
  4. Mauryavansh
  5. Ashoka
  6. Delhi Sultanate
  7. The Moghuls
  8. Saffron White Green
The Future History section contains:
  1. Vertigo
  2. Gods of War
  3. The Kali Quarter
  4. Saffron White Green
The full information about Askok's complete collection of books (released and to be released) can be found on his website

The Tick Tock Man by Terence Strong

The Tick Tock ManThe Tick Tock Man by Terence Strong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Tick Tock Man -  the title comes across as a yet another serial killer book. The book is anything but that. The book takes a peek into the lives and attitude of those who are rarely mentioned except when they fail, the BOMB DISPOSAL MAN.

Our Tick Tock Man is Major Tom Harrison a veteran in disposing bomb in the conflict spread Ireland. One of the best things I liked about this book is that it is set not in Af-Pak, not in Iraq but in UK. It's set in a conflict that was as deadly as it was real in Ireland.

The book highlights the fact that be it Ireland or be it Middle East, the people killed in a bomb blast are all innocents who did not deserve to die. It highlights the fact that terrorism has no religion, and it speaks the universal language of violence and extremism to prove a point.

The plot line in this novel focuses on the secret talks between the British government and all the political parties in Ireland. Well as except one the Provisional IRA which soon learns about the secret talks and is not happy at being excluded from the same. Now they want a place at the talks and are ready to bomb their way in.

The only difference is this time they decide to strike in London the capital instead or good old Ireland. The infamous AIDAN bomb team enters London and starts a series of bomb campaign in an attempt to undermine the talks. In desperation the government brings in Major Harrison who is an expert in defusing bombs and is somewhat familiar with AIDAN as they have done their test campaign in Belfast before making their way to London.

What follows is a series of cat and mouse game between Major Harrison and the AIDAN cell.. One trying to prevent the bombings and the other trying to cause as much chaos as possible. Read the book to understand what happens next...

It was a fitting end to my 2012 in finishing off my target of reading 50 books in an year with this one. One of the best books that I enjoyed in 2012.

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I'm Back!!!

After a small hiatus, where I had lost some of my motivation to blog about the books that I have read in this year; I'm back...

First things first HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! to all of you reading this post. Here's to wishing a year full of more good books and some extremely good moments with friends and family.

Ok here's the plan ahead, I'm gonna post some comments on some of the best books that  I have read in 2012 and then maybe start off about 2013.

So far its a new year and no targets on what to read in the new year. Maybe just maybe this year I'll finally give literary fiction a try like my friend P has been asking me to.

Ohh and +Akki make sure u read more that the 72 books that u read last year!!! Bro let me know which were the best books that you read last year... and i'll give it a lookin this year.