Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Birds of Prey is a debut novel of Archana Sarat, a chartered accountant turned writer. She is also a poetess. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.
Anton Pinto is a police officer turned tour guide in Goa. His colleague and friend, Rajesh, comes seeking his help in a case of disappearing men. Anton, who had quit his risky job for the sake of his wife and daughter, because he almost died in his last case, reluctantly agrees to help his friend and goes to Mumbai where the new case is filed. All three men, who have disappeared so far, have gone missing in the same way by following an old limping lady. Who the lady is? Nobody knows. When the dead bodies of these three men turn up in a forest area in a sack, case intensifies. At the same time another man goes missing in the same way. Anton goes looking for a common link between all these men. That’s when he comes across Swarna whose peculiar behaviour arouses his curiosity. But is Swarna the culprit or someone else? Why are men missing in the same way? What is the common link between all these men? Will Anton succeed in stopping more men from going missing? You have to read Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat to get your answers.
Apart from few editorial mistakes, Birds of Prey is an outstanding crime thriller by an Indian author. Archana Sarat couldn’t have gotten any better debut than this. The narration is superb. Superb is an understatement. Archana’s vivid narration incites such emotions that sometimes you feel nauseated and sometimes high on adrenaline. I had to go to work, so took about three days to finish this book. But my boyfriend couldn’t resist finishing the book, so took a day off and finished reading Birds of Prey in a day. This book is a definite recommendation. Don’t forget to read it as soon as possible.
Review by Chandrika
Agatha Christie is well known for her thrillers and detective works, and this one from her is the top selling mystery novel ever. A very interesting part of the story is that the plot is based on a children rhyme “10 little soldier boys”. The rhyme is contained in the novel before the story begins, and narrates how one by one everyone dies, for different reasons, and how less and less remained alive, and then finally, there were none (and thus the title).
The story is about how 13 people are lured for a holiday cum part time job for a short time to a remote island which is about a mile off coast, and how one by one they end up losing their lives in a very mysterious way. When the killings start, the remaining ones will break their head and do everything they can to figure out what’s going on. With no one to trust, since they were unknown to each other, all of them are scared and anxious of what happens next and who dies next. As the days go by, leaving them less and less in number, it makes the reader also to put some detective thoughts and think who is behind all these murders.
The story grips your attention throughout the book and it’s definitely worth a read if you are looking for a book to stick on to for a few days, because you would not want to keep it down. The only not-so-perfect thing I felt about this novel is that the mystery is revealed at the end in about just 3 pages. For all the 330+ pages of ‘what happens next’ and ‘who’s behind this’, you might not like the fact that the suspense is revealed in just few paragraphs and you will be left disappointed that it ended so soon. Anyway, I don’t even think there is any better way to do it, for that’s the way the story is woven.
Review by Shwetha H S
Genre: Historical fiction
Ruth Fielding series was published in the USA during World War I. There are thirty books in the series and Ruth Fielding at the War Front is the fourteenth in a row. Three authors wrote different books in the series with the pseudonym Alice B Emerson. As a matter of fact, Ruth Fielding at the War Front was written by W Bert Foster.
Ruth Fielding is posted to the same French war front as her boyfriend Tom Cameron. After reaching there, she enquires around about him but gets rumours that he went on the other side to help Germans, but doesn’t believe them. Her friend introduces her to Countess Marchand who takes an instant liking becomes mutual. But Ruth Fielding doesn’t like the countess second son Major Henri Marchand as she feels she doesn’t do enough for the alliance against Germany. She also hears the rumours that the Countess’s first son Count Allaire Marchand is Missing in Action. If this is the scenario of her social life outside the hospital, inside the hospital premises, she observes a mad man called Nicko coming in several times to distribute chocolates. His physical appearances resembles that of Major Henri Marchand and Ruth Fielding becomes further suspicious about him when Nicko is seen talking to the wounded German soldier being treated on the French side. Amidst all these happenings, there are rumours from the villagers saying they are seeing a ghost. What does Ruth Fielding do now? Where is Tom Cameron? Is the ghost real? Can she trust Major Henri Marchand just like she trusts the Countess? What happened to Count Allaire Marchand? Who is Nicko? Read Ruth Fielding at the War Front to know what happened next.
Though Ruth Fielding at the War Front is in the middle of the series, the readers can read it like a stand-alone book as the characters are newly introduced through the story. But considering the storyline and the complexities, there are not many hurdles in Ruth’s path. Except few misunderstandings, everything’s a smooth sail. At least, the struggle is not shown much in the story.
Nevertheless, Ruth Fielding at the War Front makes a great read for kids and a one-time good read for young adults.
Review by Shwetha H S
What would have happened if many of our eminent scientists had not died or deviated from their scientific aims in their lives? Humanity would have technologically developed, but not sure for good or bad. In another universe, a world called Regnus is highly developed, so developed that its citizens are at the dead end of any kind of technological development because they have exhausted themselves in every possibility. To stay as the most developed world of theirs as well as neighbouring universes, the History Security Officers are assigned the tasks of distracting scientists of different worlds and hindering them from reaching their goals. On one such mission, Regnus’ History Security Officer Rakena meets Dr. Wolfe Sterling, who is trying to save science on Earth. What happens to the history science on Earth? Does Rakena succeed in altering Earth’s scientific history? Will Dr. Wolfe Sterling resist the alien beauty’s ventures?
Loose Strings has a good storyline with multiple time travelling and travelling between universes, complex ideas of physics which you don’t need to understand in depth to enjoy the story. Since all the characters are humans and similar to humans, the reader doesn’t have to think about the complexities of the alien anatomy. But the problem is there are so many characters; even the supporting characters have their own supporting characters and storylines. The story is fast paced, but there are times when there are abrupt shifts from one scene to another, or a character doing something which wasn’t actually necessary or called for. But the only point that becomes difficult to accept is the element of God in the Sci-Fi novel. It almost becomes like preaching Christianity to the readers with the help of aliens. Dr. Dale A Grove lets the readers down when he starts talking about God.
Except for the God part, the novel must be for its unique time travel and multiverse travel story. Sci-Fi lovers will enjoy this if they ignore the sudden inclusion of the Almighty.
Review by Shwetha H S
To see the downfall of the entity for whose prosper you and the generations before yours have toiled is like losing faith in your purpose. No matter what you do, things will eventually turn out the way they are meant to be. Even if you go back and forth in time using a time machine, what is going to happen, will happen. The way H G Wells makes you understand this concept is worthier than the whole concept of time travel this story of The Time Machine is based on.
Through The Time Machine, H G Wells paints a grim picture of how mankind digs its own grave, one inch at a time. When the protagonist, the time traveller, travels far into future i.e. 802,701 A.D to find a sickeningly beautiful and frighteningly suffocating Earth inhabited by humans who are unlike us. Why? For one, humans have branched into two sub-species; one Eloi who are beautiful, delicate and petite midgets, and other Morlocks who are no lesser than beasts. Evolution has taken the good out of all the attempts of this age humans to make an organized society. Rich have evolved into Eloi who are good for nothing and poor have evolved into dreaded Morlocks. So, how does this dystopian world, which is far removed from the futuristic world that we hope and are working towards, function? What happens to this time traveller who chances upon this era?
The images that H G Wells has managed to paint through his words are quite moving, but not disturbing in these times of internet when we have almost new catastrophes to see day in and day out. But, back in the days when The Time Machine was written and published, to provide a glimpse into a possible future without a crystal ball must have been amazing. This was done without any loopholes in the narration. Lucky was H G Wells for having born in those times when new concepts were sprouting and desired. And lucky was that time which could witness the rising of sci-fi, most of which has come true by now. The Time Machine by H G Wells is a classic sci-fi that should not be missed.
Reveiw by Cezan Koby
It took me more than a few attempts to read the book. Right from the explosive start to…. In fact I don’t think the senseless killings makes any sense. Liam King is a sonofb@#$ and I hated his character from the beginning and I wished the bugger did die on the operating slab. Routinely burning a hole in someone else chest for fun is deprived and bordering on psychotic serial killer on a cocktail of crack, meth, speed and toilet cleaner yet the higher up’s executive decision to give him permanent lasting geno-human powers makes me want to smack their head, couple of times and then some more. The chaos company dwindles as it fights on the good side. Desmond the leader is one of least charismatic character. All the blood & gore was too much for me. There is hardly a pause in the killings, and any resemblance of a storyline is overshadowed by a adolescent lust for murder, mayhem and hallucination. I gave up after my sixth attempt to complete the book.
Review by Shwetha H S
It is enough to have the Mughals to lure you to read The Crows of Agra by Sharath Komarraju. On top of this, it is a murder mystery that involves Birbal, back when he was still Mahesh Das. Of course there are other less heard of characters like Ruqaiya Begum, Shamsuddin Khan a.k.a Atgah Khan, Gulbadan Begum and Salima Sultan Begum, along with the characters made famous by the movie Jodha-Akbar like Jalaluddin Akbar himself, Bairam Khan, Adham Khan and Maham Anga, sans Jodha. This is a refreshing take on Akbar-Birbal duo. The author succeeds in staying away from the depictions that have been present in the minds of Indians since the times of Mughal-e-Azam and Jodha-Akbar movies, and also paints different ideas about how they actually were. Kudos to the author for this feat. Of course, there is that disclaimer from the author that the descriptions in the book may not be anywhere near the actual situations. So, it would be better if you keep aside your history knowledge to enjoy this fine narration of a murder, no, two murders in the imperial palace of the Mughals. To help you imagine the scenes, the author also provides you with a map. Go on, read it and have fun. This story keeps you at the edge of your seat. Remember, refrain from combining this story with historical facts.
Review by Cezan Koby
The recipient makes for an interesting read, making the reader wonder- what sort of story will enfold? Will it turn into a tragedy, thriller or paranormal as the protagonist skips her sleep and nightmares. Whose memories are the dreams made of; Casey’s or someone else’s? The Recipient starts off on a clipped pace, flirting with memory transference, cyber security, organ harvesting and suspense. Yet, at 400+ pages long, it does not succeed in weaving a web strong enough to fend off questions. Why did relationship with Edie turn so sour? What was her role in the entire scheme of things? What about the alter ego – Octogon, rudely used and thrown? I wish there were additional 50 pages so that all loose ends and vital questions are answered instead of being rushed and hastily tied up with a bow.
Review by Tejas J
The zombie apocalypse is far more deadly than one could imagine. Though hypothetical, the circumstance would be sufficiently effective to give goose bumps to an army. Imagine the condition of one normal citizen (technically a group of complete strangers but you get the point) under such a zombie apocalypse and you get “A little more dead” wrapped in shining silver.
One Paul, his wife Sofia and his friend Dan wade through a world full of zombies towards the sunny beaches in South as that is the only goal that can keep them sane in – of course the world full of zombies . Every day they meet strangers who, like them are looking for an exit from the hellish world. Some of them survive; most of them die as they proceed from one state to another cleansing houses from the infected beings to stay for the night, raid gas stations, departmental stores for supplies.
The twists are sudden and would catch you off guard but the repetition of the same old routine everyday would weigh heavy upon the readers. However, the book finds pace after 15 chapters with a story line that is quite thrilling. The writing style is quite unique in a world where chapters explain events happening chronologically or with a phrase “mean while” in bold capital letters. The story line moves back and forth from the day of outbreak – the date on which the family had to quit their home to start running for their lives.
A few quotes would catch your eye and tease your brain like – “Civility was lucky. It died before any of this hell began”. I found quotes from Dan quite good as I have a biased opinion about anything funny. Also lines like – “Herds of longhorns looked to them for help from within their enclosures as the state patrol car flew by without a wave” would explain the condition the protagonist was put into.
Robin Cook’s Contagion explained the mentality of people in a disease stricken country and I find this book slightly inclined towards the same lines. Characters in the book are often at their limits but continue on their journey as there is no other way. It is either fight or die situation for them. A few events pushes the main protagonist towards the cliff of suicide but then, he continues none the less. The sunny beach is something that they all stick to as a goal to survive in the zombie world and that thought would imprint on your mind as well. Definitely a page turner and reader wouldn’t be disappointed by their choice of book.
Review by Shwetha H S
You don’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble will come looking for you. This is an idea I got of those times when it wasn’t enough to just mind your own business. Young lad Jim Hawkins falls into an adventure that every boy dreams about when Billy Bones walks into Admiral Benbow, an inn run by the Mr. And Mrs. Hawkins. Trouble in the form of weird people come looking for Billy Bones and poor Jim gets unknowingly drawn into the whirlpool that spits him into the sea along with Dr David Livesey a man of principles, Squire John Trelawney a good shot for a tell-tale, Captain Smollett who speaks his mind, Long John Silver an ever-changing sea-cook and many other sailors on the Hispaniola. I can tell you this much of why they all go on that ship. They go sailing to the Treasure Island looking for the seven thousand pounds of gold hidden by Captain Flint. What happens next that Jim Hawkins and Dr David Livesey will tell you in this gripping story.
Except about the language of the sailors, I can’t bring myself to complain about anything else. But if the sailors too spoke just like other men of land, then it wouldn’t be much fun, would it? I can’t even complain about too many characters here as they were required to work on the Hispaniola. Not only humans, you get a talking parrot that’s named after the formidable Captain Flint. Some plot twists are expected and awaited, but some make you say “what did just happen?” Thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson for telling this marvellous adrenaline-filled story over and over to past generations and still ready to do the same for the coming generations. Your Treasure Island is a treasure as a whole and has aged just like a good wine; will never be old for the new.