Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inferno - Dan Brown : A Review




BOOK TITLE: Inferno

ISBN: 9780385537858
 
AUTHOR: Dan Brown

GENRE: Thriller/Suspense

NUMBER OF PAGES: 482

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Of course I am a big fan of Dan Brown. So his latest book had to be read immediately. So I waited for the paperback to hit stores and rushed to grab my copy.

REVIEW:

The central theme of the latest Dan Brown novel ‘Inferno’ is centred on one line.

          “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

 

          The novel featuring Harvard academician Robert Langdon has a real thriller for an opener. The prologue promises lot of intrigue and historical revelations, usual Dan Brown style (in his other Langdon based books, of course). The first chapter of the main part starts with a protagonist who apparently has a gunshot induced temporary memory loss. Readers simultaneously sympathise with the confused professor, who is taunted by recurring dreadful dreams asking him to ‘seek and find’ before time is lost. Langdon does not know the mysterious lady who urges him to seek and find but is desperate to help her because his intuition tells him to reach out to her. But are intuitions always right? To his shock, Langdon finds that the woman from his dreams is real and he knows her, too!

          The protagonist continues his race against time, aided by a fiery, passionate and intelligent Dr. Sienna Brooks. Who helped him out of his “amnesia”. The two have secrets from each other, Langdon due to his inconvenient illness, and Sienna due to embarrassment. The professor has a curious object in his favourite Harris Tweed, a “Biometrically sealed” tube.

          Based on cryptic clues from “The Divine Comedy”, a book of poems written by Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Langdon and Sienna evade a high profile security force and travel together through Florence, Italy. Churches and chapels and underground crypts – the usual Dan Brown landmarks feature here too! No spoilers by revealing exact locations!

          In an adrenaline packed chase, Langdon finds himself once again a fugitive, running away from people who could help him and running to people who might harm him. In a suave twist in the book, he also finds himself a victim of robbery allegations, only, this time, the allegations are true. One man in the whole of Italy who could vouch for his actions is dead, in mysterious circumstances. Langdon takes the help of his historical knowledge to decipher and interpret Dante’s poem and clues left by a cryptic madman, written in insoluble ink behind a famous masterpiece.

          On another side, an organisation that calls itself “The Consortium” furiously tries to prevent Langdon from uncovering the whole mystery, to support its long dead client. Friends turn to foes, as the professor rushes away from a life threat desperately trying to prove his innocence. Suddenly all is not what it seems.

          Too many people are confused and deluded by Langdon’s mysterious behaviour because his medical condition is kept a secret. The page turning element of the story is Langdon’s easy memory of History rather than “his” story. Is this amnesia permanent? Or is at least natural? Every revelation poses more questions than it answers.

          Throughout the story, Langdon is unsure whom to feel pity for, or whom to stay close too. Is the calamity a matter of national security? Why was it entrusted to a simple College Professor? Both the protagonist’s and the readers’ minds whirl with a vortex of questions, most answers of which are surprising and breath-taking.

          A misrepresentation of facts leads Langdon to a wrong location in his chase costing valuable time. The trail leads to Istanbul in Turkey before long where the story culminates in a not so thrilling climax. The readers are left with a void after the high on adrenaline chase as the end is neither justified nor apt. But political limitations and story theme realities do put a barricade to giving a satisfying end.

          But all is not what it seems in this story!

          Langdon finds his chase useless as the calamity has come to pass and the race is not against the future but against the past. All in all, an engaging read, a thrilling story line, usual Brown style, and a politically correct albeit little lacking ending. But it does not disappoint Dan Brown fans. Go for it!

 

P.S.: As usual, the portrayal of scenes from the book is not only accurate in historical value, but also a thoroughly enjoyable visualisation, bringing the readers to the place that is described.

 

WHAT I LIKED: Typical Brown style racy narrative, accurate history and really engrossing plotline.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Typical Brown style quirky ending, all the chase and adrenaline rush dropping in the end is like stepping out of a vivid dream into reality and the slap is hard.

VERDICT: Of course go for it. Dot.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dan Brown is an American author of thriller fiction, best known for the 2003 bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Brown is interested in cryptography, codes, and keys. Currently his novels have been translated into many languages. Although many see Dan Brown's books as anti-Christian, Brown is a Christian who says that his book The Da Vinci Code is simply "an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate" and suggests that the book may be used "as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith."
 

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audible.

PRICE: 270

BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.com/Inferno-Novel-Random-House-Large/dp/0804121060/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-2&qid=1380124425

The First Pillar : Everville - A Review

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BOOK TITLE: Everville : The First Pillar
ISBN: 0988936402
AUTHOR: Roy Huff
GENRE: Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES: 233
FORMAT: Electronic (Kindle)
SERIES / STANDALONE: Series #1
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The Writer gifted it.
REVIEW:
First a big Thanks to my friend Roy Huff & the writer of this book for gifting me this book! I finally managed to finish reading this book amidst a lot of disturbances (Read: Travel & Being stuck in a small town with bad connectivity)

The title itself is a little Intriguing. Thought I am little grown up to read books in Fantasy Genre, I decided to read the book anyway thanks to Intriguing title & the description.

The plot revolves around three friends Owen, Anika & Dante and their battle against the evil Them to save Everville. Owen is transported to a place called Everville from Easton Falls where he meets The Keeper of lands (A Fron) who kind of explains (Read the book! You will know what "Kind of explains means! I don't want to provide spoilers) who the evil Them are and what they are up to and what is to expected of Owen. How he manages to  temporarily stop Them using some training from the Art Club Roundabout ( annual contest held by the Art Club headed by a professor who then turns out to be a different person then I initially believed he was)  and with the help of The Echo club (Owen's college club ) is the story.

Initially I felt a little lost. But as pages go by the story line becomes a little clearer. The description of the college campus, The Keeper's room, Everville is realistic and well portrayed. The writer does have a good imagination.

So what I liked about the book?!
Basic plot, the character sketch!

What could have been a little better?!
Cohesiveness. The narration slipped at times and really was beautiful at times. Other than that I have no complaints.

VERDICT: Read it only if you are a paranormal fiction fan. Else the book might not really make sense to you.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roy Huff is the author of Amazon's #1 international bestselling epic fantasy novel, Everville: The First Pillar. He is a man of many interests including science, traveling, movies, the outdoors, and of course writing teen and young adult fantasy fiction. He holds five degrees in four separate disciplines including liberal arts, history, secondary science education, and geoscience. Roy Huff's background includes work in art, history, education, business, real-estate, economics, geoscience, and satellite meteorology. He was born on the East Coast but has spent more than half his life in Hawaii, where he currently resides and writes his epic fantasy sagas
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover
PRICE: Rs.65


Monday, May 27, 2013

First you Plz : A Review

15990666
BOOK TITLE: First You Plz
AUTHOR: Nisha B.Thakur
GENRE: Fiction - Romance
NUMBER OF PAGES: 120
FORMAT: Electronic (MS-Word)
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The Writer contacted me Via Goodreads PM asking me to review it.
REVIEW:
First thanks to Nidhi for contacting me through Good Reads and mailing me a sample. I Loved the same and she sent me the whole book. 

I badly wanted to read a simple, not so complex small feel good type of book. And this Book(er… Okay not book. Story maybe?!) was just that! A nice break from the usual pulsating novels I normally read. 

The book is basically a short story about an immature post grad student's innocent love told in a simple manner. No complex character sketches. No complex description of the settings or characters or no unnecessary characters. Just a simple humble book which makes you realize small things of life. Small things of life like the fluttering feeling when the person whom you have a huge crush looks at you, the jealous feeling when the crush talks to a person whom you hate and so on.

The story revolves around Avanti and her first love Aakash. Avanti has two friends Meenakshi & Rachna who stick with her thin & thick. 

Avanti falls for Aakash and pursues him. Whether he falls for her or not is the story! 
Avanti is portrayed as rather immature person. But reality bites. Many girls are just like her. It’s an overdrive of emotions when a girl is ignored by the man she loves or when he doesn't reciprocate her feelings (Not my experience! I have a quite a number of gal pals who are just like Avanti!) That's exactly what happens with Avanti.

The writer emphasizes on small things that matter most. Small things which are pointers or signs that a person is in love. Small things which we all once enjoyed in some point of our life. That's what I like most about this book. 

Though the book is nice to read, the writer could have described characters a bit more. Parts of the story lagged behind slightly. The writer could have been a bit more cohesive. It’s a simple case of poor editing. But for a first timer it’s an attempt to be applauded.

VERDICT: I wouldn’t exactly recommend if you are choosy reader. Though if you can read anything, virtually “Anything” then this if for you.
RATING: 3.5/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nisha lives in Navi Mumbai with her family. After completing her post graduation in Communication Management she worked as a copywriter with a reputed ad agency in Mumbai. She now works as a freelance copywriter cum screenwriter.
Nisha is presently juggling with freelance copy and screen writing projects. She aspires to be a known author and film writer.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital (on request)
BOOK LINKS: Contact the Writer to read this “book”



In conversation with : Sherrie Cronin - The writer of x0 ( To the power of Zero ) & Her little Surprise!

Thanks to the “Social Networking" part of goodreads,I was able to contact the writer of book x0 ( To the power of zero ) the book that I had reviewed in my last post. I wanted to know more about her and her book. Here is an excerpt from our conversation!
ME :Before I begin I'd like to congratulate you and thank you for writing such a book based on real interesting theme of Telepathy. I found it really interesting and informative and the plot managed to keep me hooked totally ( Especially after Lola and Somadina made contact!)
ME : The book majorly revolves around the lives of 3 women. What or who is your inspiration for such a storyline which is so women-centric?
Sherrie : That’s a good question. When I started the book I thought of it as a “sister” story.  I have only one sibling, a sister, and we are very close even though we live a thousand miles apart.  I wanted my main character to have such a sister, and for her to form a telepathic link with another woman living a very different kind of life far away but who was just as close to her own sister. My idea was that things like bonds with ones family members transcend cultures, languages and customs and are something we all share and understand. It felt right to me that worrying about your sister’s safety was something that could bring two strangers together.
ME :Telepathy/ESP are much debated topics which have very less believers (I do believe! Many people in my country do!). What made you pick up this subject?
Sherrie: I now get asked a lot if I’m a telepath :).  I’m not, but like Lola at the start of the book I am a very empathic person who picks up feelings from others easily. I’ve often wondered if I could take this gift further and, if I did, would I regret it. I also wanted to explore the idea of empathy. If you really knew what another person was thinking and feeling, could you cheat them? Hurt them? Kill them?
ME :Your style of writing is not the stereotypical kind in various parts of the book. For a fiction work you have used Question and answer kind (The narration of Lola and Somadina reading the FAQs of the website) of narration and you have given links. What made you to use this style? Isn't this style of writing a gamble? (Hey! I loved the way you detailed about telepathy and your links were good too! but just wondering how such narration would sit with the typical novel readers! )
Sherrie: Yes, it was a gamble and maybe not such a good one.  When I wrote the book I promised myself I would write the novel that was inside me, and this book was the result.  I still like the extraneous facts woven into it and the links but that’s kind of how my brain works anyway.  Some readers have really enjoyed my unusual style, others have more or less ignored it and just enjoyed the story, and another group has really rather disliked it and said so.  I wonder if the last group might have liked my story if it was written in a more conventional style.  I have thought about putting out a “second edition” of the book specifically targeted at those who want plot only (sort of an x0 lite). And I did back off from that style a little in both y1 and z2.
ME: Yes, I know you are a Physicist hence the liking for Variables (Your Title "x0") is evident. But what triggered you to give these kind of titles - x0, y1, z2!
Sherrie : The book x0 is the first in a collection of six books.  The first five novels will each tell the more or less independent story of a person developing an unusual power in response to an emergency situation. The second book, now finished, is the story of Lola’s son Zane and it was supposed to be called x1. The third book, also done, is about Lola’s husband Alex as he rediscovers an unusual power he had as a young athlete. It was going to be called x2. Yes, the next novels (about daughters Ariel and Teddie) were really going to the be x3 and x4.  I just thought it was a neat idea and I had a way to tie each exponent into the story.  But as I wrote about Zane, it turned out that he loved superheroes as a child and his favorite were the X-men and at that point I became afraid that all those x’s looked like I was sort of copying from the comic characters (which had not been my idea at all.)  So I changed the second book to y1 and now every book will have a different letter. To me all six books are a very mathematical collection and why that is so won’t be that obvious until the sixth novel.
ME :Now to a little about yourself!
 You are a Geophysicist by profession, what made you take up fiction writing?
Sherrie : Science fiction was my first love, I’ve wanted to write it ever since I was a little girl. I studied journalism in college with a minor in physics with the idea of being a science writer who wrote fiction on the side. But once I was out in the working world I realized that science paid far better than writing and I went back to school to study geophysics. It was a practical decision, although I do enjoy geophysics too.
ME:  And Hey! How do you manage writing and being a geophysicist and having a family? Isn't it a bit taxing?
Sherrie : I couldn’t do it all at once.  To be honest, raising three young children and working as a geophysicist took all the energy I had even with a supportive husband and great kids. I loved my life as mom and scientist, but for many years there was no extra time for writing. However, my youngest child is now in college and I consult four days a week, and so I am rediscovering the idea of free time.  My family thinks it’s great that I’m returning to what I wanted to do so badly years ago.
ME: Tell us something about your likes and dislikes (Just to know what truly irks you when you start writing!)
Sherrie : Well, I’m intolerant of intolerance. I firmly believe that the best and worst human qualities are well distributed among every age group, both genders, every race, culture and religion, every sexual preference, every style and every income level. To me, one of the missions of a writer is to take a reader outside of their own day to day world and into that of another, and to thereby increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. I confess to being an idealist.  In the end, I want my books to add to the sum total of hope in this world, to add to the joy, to add to the love. If I accomplish this even a little tiny bit, I’m going to be very happy that I picked up my laptop and started writing.
ME :What can we expect from y1( I haven't managed to lay my hands on this book) and z2?
Sherrie :I got a little ahead of myself and told you about y1 and z2 when I talked about the titles.  I believe that human beings each have far more potential than they realize and each novel tells of a different family member facing difficulties and overcoming them by learning to use more of that potential.  Zane in y1 has always been something of an outsider.  He is exceptionally smart, he is a gay, and he grew up in Texas public schools. He has unusually good fine muscle control that he uses to teach himself to alter his appearance and he improves on these abilities to save friends who are in danger. Alex in z2 is an aging teacher and ex-athlete who used to be able to slow down time when he was on a basketball court.  He thinks that those glory days are long gone, but when serious dangers enter his own quiet life he needs to relearn those skills quickly.
I’m now working on c3, the story of Teddie, the youngest daughter in the family. It is a work in progress so I hate to say too much about it, but part of it does take place in Northern India near the Himalayas and I am having a wonderful time learning more and more about that part of the world.
Thank you Sherrie for patiently ( & Promptly!) answer my questions! I look forward to reading the rest of the series! 
And now for the little surprise that the writer, Ms. Sherrie Cronin Promised me! 
An Electronic Give away of her book x0( To the power of Zero )  @ https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/138940
Enter the coupon code :  SN62Q
To get the book as a free give away ! Only exclusive to my blog readers!
  


x0 (To the Power of Zero) By Sherrie Cronin : A Review


x0


BOOK TITLE:  x0
ISBN: 0985156104
AUTHOR:  Sherrie Cronin
GENRE: Fiction –Paranormal/Scientific
NUMBER OF PAGES: 330
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Series #1
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Goodreads Giveaway.
REVIEW:
 Books and me: we are virtually inseparable! 
Being an avid reader I signed up for an account in goodreads.com the minute I heard about that site. On exploring I found there was this giveaway section where writers giveaway their books for free. This idea of paper back give away got me real excited and I signed up for about a dozen of giveaways of really interesting books. But unlucky me, I never won anything for a a long time.
Then finally a mail arrived stating that I had won this amazing book x0 (To the Power of Zero) By Sherrie Cronin. I virtually jumped up and down with joy!
The book finally arrived a exactly month after that mail ( A brand new shiny book with that enchanting new book smell! *Sighs*)
The title itself and the cover got me intrigued. 
Upon reading the short description of the I realized this was going to be one hell of a different kind of book. Not the regular Fantasy fiction work or Young Adult or the thriller that I normally read.
So what is so different about this book?!       
1. The plot is centered around 3 women who are so different from each other ( One is a Geophysicist from USA, the other two ( Sisters) are young women from Nigeria) - The fact that the 3 women are so different yet alike and share a common connection ( Telepathic link) makes the story line interesting ( Read the book, I don't want to be a spoilsport and give away the plot)
2. The storyline revolves around Telepathy, a form of ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) which is a much debated topic. Not many people really know what exactly telepathy is yet they call it a scam. For those people who don't know what telepathy is yet they go about calling it a scam - Folks please read this book ( And hey don't take the actual plot too seriously. It’s a fiction! No way you can probably know what a stranger miles and miles away actually thinks. Don't blame the writer if you think so and end up trying something like that; she just has used her imagination beautifully!)
3. The Narration. It’s not the regular fiction kind of narration. The transition of the story between Nigeria and America is smooth and easy to follow. But the writer has used question and answer kind of format ( like FAQs of a website) to explain to her readers what exactly telepathy is. And also the writer has given follow up links which leads to loads of extra information about Nigeria, Telepathy and lots of other stuff. Though this style is a little gamble, but then the writer has really done her research and one must appreciate her efforts.
Over all the book was neat thought the plot was bit vague and slow in the start but towards the end I just didn't want to put the book down.

NEXT POST : An interview with the writer of this book & a little Surprise from her! 
VERDICT:  The book is neatly packed and keeps you interested from the beginning. 
 RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer. She published her first short story in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, but when the next story idea came to her it declared that it had to be a whole book, nothing less. 
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback,
PRICE: Rs. 169 (Kindle)