Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reading Fails and Missed Targets

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

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

Cheers,
G

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Review:: The Prince of Patliputra by Shreyas Bhave

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review :: The Revelation Code by Andy McDermott

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

he Revelation Code by Andy McDermott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

DIY - My temporary Bookshelf

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

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

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Review:: Kingdom of Darkness by Andy McDermott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Review:: An Invisible Client by Victor Methos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Review:: Misdirection by Martin Link

MisdirectionMisdirection by Martin  Link
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Review:: Mortal Allies by Brian Haig

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

Sean Drummond gets played!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:: The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Review:: Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Review:: Secret Sanction by Brian Haig

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Review - The Sound of Glass by Karen White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall I would recommend this book for a read.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

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

Ashoka - The Lion of MauryaAshoka - The Lion of Maurya by Ashok K. Banker
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Series -  Itihasa - Ashoka
Book#1_2016

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 - Reading Challenge

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

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

Coming back to 2016, my challenge is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

2015 - Book Challenge Review

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

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

Good;

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

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

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

Till then ciao,..
G

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