Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Westobou Gold by Hawk MacKinney : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Westobou Gold

AUTHOR: Hawk MacKinney

ISBN/ASIN: B01M59CHRC

GENRE: Adult Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 224

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series Book 2

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura of iRead Book Tours for this review copy

SUMMARY:

The Indian Queen would risk torture and worse to keep her secrets from these barbarians in suits of metal and their search for cities of gold. They never found the gold. Empires rose; empires fell, the centuries passed. Legend became fireside myths, but no treasure was ever found. Yet, among the grey-green drapes of wisteria and wild jasmine along the misty shrouded lowlands of bayous and marshes of the Westo River, the folktales persist.

In the lazed creep of a near-tropical dawn lit the pungent Turkish coffee permeates Moccasin Hollow. Beyond the kitchen door Lucky, Craige Ingram’s German shepherd gnaws a favorite bone. Looted burial mounds seem a world away until plundered mounds on Moccasin Hollow land brings amateur archaeologist PI Craige Ingram into the cross-hairs of kidnapping. Stealthy hideaways are concealed in old colonial brick-lined river grottoes beneath the big house of Ardochy plantation. Sex-tape underage blackmail and thrill killings on federal land spur a medical examiner’s preliminary postmortem to more than a hired cleaner’s quickie cover-up passed off as drug deals gone sour. Greed tangles a witch’s pigswill of illicit affairs and murder-to-hide-murder. Shady investigators and shadier politics stir an unexpected concoction that threatens the lives of those at Moccasin Hollow in a spiteful plot against ex-SEAL Craige Ingram and the woman he loves.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The book is part of a review tour and the main reason I opted to review this was the Summary. It spoke of a lot of things bundled up together, and is also longer than the average summary. Using the choicest of words, it connects a lot of seemingly disjointed points of interest and hopefully brings them all to a common story line. I was also very fond of the particular line where the 'legends became fireside myths' because that is true of many stories that have been passed on from generation to generation and are still considered myths while there is a thin smoky line of truth in the whole story. The second part of the summary mentions the modern methods of coercion and blackmail and tastefully brings the myths and modern world to a fine blend.

I had not read the first book in the series and therefore had a mild apprehension about the characters and how I would relate with them. But I was sure the story would not need my extensive knowledge on the characters to be understandable.

REVIEW:

If the summary was anything to go by, the book does not disappoint either. The words are so descriptive and are often the main reason I kept going. Before I begin, I will have to mention that not reading book one had minimal impact on my understanding of the second book and this is a point in favour of the book. Think myth and legends from long forgotten lands that are shrouded in secrecy and mist. Think of some people taking it seriously. Think of the modern twists this scenario can take especially when exceptional greed and a ruthless conscience come into play. You have the perfect racy read that can easily span centuries and still not let your interest wane for any reason.

The story begins in the historical time of Native people, the Indian Queen hides a gold treasure from the White invaders. But from the next part, the book is back to the present and is a huge net of modern vices and despicable trades including poaching, pornography and murders. The man at the middle of the rackets is one of the most brutal villains ever written about. Craige Ingram is called to investigate.

But surprisingly, his involvement in the overall issue brings him into the focus of people who want his reputation ruined and his life gone. As Craige goes deeper and deeper into the mess, the more twisted the scenario becomes. It is not long before Craige finds his life and that of his love endangered. His experience with the Navy Seals and his life as a PI and archeologist brings him to the place where it is all happening, and then slowly pull him to the main epicentre of the racket.

The author has used the common stereotypes required for this genre. A bold hero, an intricate plot, greedy villains and the life of loved ones being endangered. But he has made all this into one huge page turner by his narrative style. The story is totally new, and the descriptive narration brings the scenes to the fore, and it is easier to follow the story as it traverses across plot twists and suspense. The best part of the novel is how all the individual, seeminly unconnected plot tangents come together and blend into a very interesting story, as the summary seemed to promise.

The characterisation is another major plus (at least according to me) and the characters are developed well. For so many details, the story is not confusing as the plot elements travel together in harmony. I initally had doubts about how the book was going to bring all the individual lines together but the author did not disappoint. This is the book for all the bookworms who are ready for a detailed and descriptive narrative. That being said, tighter editing could have helped the story even better.

Overall, I loved the book for the story and the characterisation and for the fact that it maintained the suspense element well, surprising me at places.

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The long worded summary that promised an exciting novel
  • The descriptive narrative
  • The characterisation - some characters are memorable
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • The book could have used some tighter editing
  • There are some parts that seem to deviate from the main plot line and have no impact on the story line itself. Those could have been avoided
  • The cover design could be a bit more appealing. I hesitated at the WordArt font of the book's title and author name before choosing this book for review.
VERDICT:

An amazing story if you are a fan of the genre

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Internationally acclaimed author and public speaker, Hawk MacKinney began writing mysteries for his school newspapers. He served in the US Navy Reserve for over 20 years, and was a tenured faculty member at several state medical facilities, teaching postgraduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem, Israel. Since retiring Hawk has authored several novels that have received national and international recognition. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. The Cairns of Sainctuarie, his science fiction series, includes The Bleikovat Event and The Missing Planets, with a third book in the works. Hawk’s latest project focuses on The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. Book 1 in the series, Hidden Chamber of Death, was released early 2016.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $3.85 for Kindle, $11.95 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Monday, January 23, 2017

Amma: Jayalalithaa's Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen by Vaasanthi : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Amma: Jayalalithaa's Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen

AUTHOR: Vaasanthi

ISBN/ASIN: 978-8193284148

GENRE: Non Fiction / Biography

NUMBER OF PAGES: 180

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This book was a timely gift from a friend and I thank the friend for adding a treasure to my bookshelf.

SUMMARY:

Amma is the dramatic story of a woman who has risen again and again from humiliation, imprisonment and political defeat, challenging the male-dominated culture of Tamil Nadu politics to become chief minister of the state for the fourth time.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

There are three important things I must mention before I begin the review.

1) My views on the person apart, I really like the concept of biographies especially if they are rich in detail because we get to see the hidden facets of a celebrity.

2) I have not read many biographies though, and I have little experience with how they must be structured - the highlights to engage the audience, or the events in chronological order to be a complete life history of the subject.

3) The book itself was very short, covered with a larger than average font and I did wonder how it was going to talk about the long and detailed life of a cinema actress / political personality in so few pages.

The cover and the summary were enough to elicit my interest and I was not really bothered about all that because I read the book in a very apt but bad timing, on Dec. 5th, during the death procession of J. Jayalalithaa herself. So naturally the emotions were too high for me to write a sensible review back then. I had to wait a bit for the emotional leftovers to clear before I wrote a honest, clear review of the book itself, without being overshadowed by the subject. 

REVIEW:

She is enigmatic. She is imperious. She is adored and she is feared. She is deified by her admirers and reviled by her opponents.

Thus begins the biography of Jayalalithaa Jayaram. The journey of a simple Ammu to the revered and feared Amma is put forth in simple, lucid language. The book wins because it is basically a fact book, written with mildly colored glasses and a slightly skewed perspective. It is by no accounts a detailed description of the major to minor events in her life that made her into who she was. But for a very secretive and enigmatic person, the book was an amalgamation of publicised fact and real life anecdotes of people who were in her inner circle.

The book starts from the beginning, the early days of Ammu, the young toddler who had lost her father and whose widowed mother moved to her ancestral place as was the custom those days. From there it details how she excelled in academics in her early days and how she chanced upon films and went on to become, at one point, one of the highest paid actresses in the industry. That part of the book is short, though, the early days and the childhood accomplishments were quickly dealt with and her foray into politics was described from as early as one third into the book.

From there, the book becomes a record of her political life and its ups and downs. It includes the details of the major controversies that brought about her downfall, and her friendships that were personal and away from the limelight. There is an entire chapter dedicated to her relationship with MGR, her guide, mentor and political guru who brought her into politics and made her popular in films.

The first thing that struck me about the book was the honesty with which it portrayed some incidents, finding a good balance between praising the subject and bringing out the shortcomings without being offensive to either side. The book does not offer much if you have lived in Tamil Nadu and had even a mild interest in politics because Jayalalithaa Jayaram was herself a very defining part of politics in Tamil Nadu, having served as Chief Minister nearly 6 times and recently creating history after her mentor MGR.

The book is a treasure trove of information for someone who did not know much about the person but was eager to learn because it weaves fact with a dose of background information collected from various sources, both friends and foes. But if you have been following the phenomenon that was Jayalalithaa and her political career closely, the book only tells you most of the things you already knew. Even with the lack of a lot of extra, untold exclusive information, the book still is an amazing read, especially if you want to know the little-known snippets that showed her desperation and fear in her darkest moments, the narration of which tugs at the heartstrings of even her rivals.

Her journey has been filled with ups and downs, and was a long and controversial one that had all the elements of a really interesting movie, with hidden marriages, accusations of disproportionate assets and a lot more political achievements and scheming opponents. The more you read the book the more you begin to admire her undying spirit and the way she rose to power despite being pushed down again and again. It talks at length about the lessons she learnt from her defeat and how she connected with the people while alienating the press.

Even her staunch rivals and detractors cannot deny her charisma (that they attribute instead to her film personality genes) and her courage, the two characteristics that made the lovable Ammu to the revered Amma. The best part of the book was when it described how she became 'Amma' and how she chose that as the only way for a woman to get respect in a male dominated world, putting her away from the accusations that called for defaming her morals because she had acted, after being pushed into a profession she did not really want.

The book tells you how life is not about what you might plan for yourself but also how you come out of the twists and turns life throws at you. Of all the things a reader will take back from the book, they will never forget the authority and the courage a woman showed, carving a separate place for herself in a world that did not welcome her and repeatedly tried to put her down. There are many parts of the book I object with, and side strongly with. But those are personal opinions on the life of the person and not the part of a book review.

There are many chapters that are detailed and controversial, giving the other side of the popular opinion. Be it 'The Woman Who Knew Too Much' or 'The Wounded Tigress', the chapter titles were absolutely intriguing and though the book was not a sequential account, often going back and forth in her life, the language is lucid and the narrative clear. It does not glorify or vilify anyone but presents facts in a brutal light that might leave people to derive their own conclusions based on which side they sympathise with.

Read this book if you want a clear and concise account of the life one of contemporary politics' secret personalities. Use this to get a peek into Jayalalithaa's turbulent life and the many controversies that surrounded her till and after she had breathed her last. (Though the book does not cover her death, having been published before the unfortunate event). Her rivals could read this book as it shows the account of a woman who was a worthy opponent in every turn and a woman who was wronged. Her supporters should read the book for knowing the things that led to her downfall and brought a smear on the plumage of the phoenix. Despite being short, this book covers all the essential details to give material for both sides of the spectrum.

(The review essentially ends here but as I do with all my favorite books, I am going to give my favorite quotes from the book)

On Jayalalithaa's courage, the words she had said during an interview. And she proved that till the end of her life, becoming a reluctant actress and a hesitant politician but acing both with a grace that surprised everyone.

I can will myself to do anything in this world.

In a letter to the man she loved, expressing her innermost and personal feelings and baring her heart out.

Don't you still understand that my love for you is boundless? There is no change in that. It will not till my death. I love you so much. I desire you.

The words describing how the notorious cult of MLAs and MPs falling at her feet began after one of her greatest victories.

A new cult of leader worship had been initiated. And the male dominated world that had tried to put her down was now at her feet.

Yet another thing that she was criticised for - her faith in astrology. And how it was brought about.

The stars, she was told, could be manipulated or cajoled to change one's fate.

The words that defined her relationship with her people.

In power or out of power, she would always be their amma.

On her election victory, one of the most phenomenal elections in the history of Tamil Nadu where she recreated history by being elected consecutively for office. Her mentor, MGR, was the last person to have done this three decades ago.

Jayalalithaa looked calm and impassive. Then she smiled and replied. "Wait for three more days. You will know." It was a knowing smile

From the last few pages of the book, ending with a wistful note that failed months after this was published. The stars shined down upon her so brightly that her life ended abruptly, creating a controversy by itself.

She was born under the star Magam. There is a saying in Tamil astrological parlance: Magaththuppen jagaththilum illai - A woman born under the star Magam is incomparable to any othe rin the world. Would that star continue to protect her?

Is it a full account of her very eventful life? No.

Does it cover all the controversial bits? Of course not!

Does it do justice to the personality and her turbulent private and public lives? Not really.

Is it quick paced? Of course yes!

Is it an interesting read? Definitely.

As I've already mentioned, it is not entirely possible to do complete justice to the phenomenon that is Jayalalithaa without kicking a hornet's nest. There is only one person who can tell us what really happened in her life and she is not around anymore. But the book does seem, at places like a reproduction of a detailed public account and a collection of the most sensational and intriguing news reports. It does contain some things that some people would rather want pushed under the carpet. If anyone cared enough to follow public records of the journey of Jayalalithaa Jayaram, this is not a treasure trove of detail. But we must also take into account the author's captivating narration and unbiased representation of facts. And that is where the book wins. So final verdict?

Would I read the book again? A big YES!

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The lesser known details from the life of Tamil Nadu's one of most iconic personalities
  • The lucid narrative that made the book an interesting read.
  • The organisation of the content that made it nearly impossible to put the book down
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • Too short. Like any well written book, I found this book too short.
  • It was not very informative if you know Jayalalithaa or have followed her life with interest.
  • There are some important events that have been missed or glossed over, be it to avoid controversy or because of lack of details.
VERDICT:

This is a must read, a book of facts presented in a very interesting format. A friend or a foe of Amma, this book is a good addition to the bookshelves.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vaasanthi is one of Tamil Nadu's best known writers. Her books include Cut-Outs, Caste and Cine Stars: The World of Tamil Politics and several novels. She was editor of the Tamil edition of India Today for nearly ten years.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback

PRICE Rs. 195 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Shadow In The Mirror by Deepti Menon: A Review



Shadow In The Mirror 
by
Deepti Menon

Publisher: Readomania 





Blurb

It all begins with a death. Nita, a pregnant woman falling from her balcony becomes the string that unravels the plot. Her death casts a shadow over many lives; her heartbroken father, her husband and Vinny, a young journalist, drawn in by the whiff of foul play and murder.

What follows are stories within stories, eras and worlds colliding with each other, leaving behind splintered relationships and mesmerizing slices of lives that appear to be drawn together and driven apart by the whimsical threads of destiny.
As events cast their shadows ahead to link the stories of Vinny, Kavita, Roma, Krish and Nita in an unrelenting knot, a journey starts to uncover the truth. What is the secret that links Nita’s death to the other characters? Will Vinny be able to unravel the mystery of Nita’s death?

From intimate diary entries and letters, to bantering over a meal and sharing memories while spring cleaning, this novel de-familiarizes the ordinary, presenting a kaleidoscope of our own pasts, broken edges and pulsating hearts. 

Grab your copy @


Also Available on #KindleUnlimited 

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FIRST IMPRESSION: 

This book has the curious distinction of arriving at my hands both as a digital copy and as a paperback. The digital copy came as part of a review tour, and a paperback copy came from a friend who had attended the book launch. I took this as a testament to how much the readers loved the book and its style. It came highly recommended and naturally I was intrigued. 

The cover image is stunning and the soothing blue tones and the mysterious face with a huge Bindi captured my attention immediately. The summary was short, though it seemed like a listing of important characters in the book (not the style I could relate with) and the last line , especially the last ten words, made sure I opened the book as soon as I got a chance to read it. 

REVIEW: 

As far as 'beginnings' go, this book had the right tone - it began with the death of a pregnant woman, Nita, who falls from the balcony of a house. Other characters are introduced quickly, each person contributing, in some way, to the narrative in their own style. The plot of this book is about understanding the secrets behind the supposed suicide, and in certain places, though few parts are a bit predictable, the book cinches the show in the ending, completely. The plot and its development are what make the book interesting, and despite the handling of an age-old concept, keep it a completely entertaining page turner. 

The book's strength is in its narrative. Those who do not like the descriptive style of narrative, those detailed explanations that bring the scene alive in the eyes of the reader, would not be able to enjoy the book much. But to someone who likes English narratives of the likes of Christie, this was a major positive side of the book and one of the reasons why I kept turning the pages. The importance given to the descriptions about the characters makes the book slower but more interesting in my eyes. The reader must get used to reading the names of each character that play a role in the overall story, and understand the significance and their backstory to be able to grasp the plot better. The placement of these backstories can be made a bit better, and they are almost the single main contributor for the uneven pace of the narrative. But they gave the much needed details and left a longer lasting impression. 

At face value, the story of Nita's death that seems to be a suicide affects her spouse and immediate family. But as the story digs deeper, the bubble of loss and suspicion covers a larger set of people, with each person's entry into the transparent dome demanding that the reader keep all of them in focus to fully grasp the enormity of the plot. For a character who dies early on, Nita remains etched in my mind through the eyes of other people, as a realistic character, enthralling in life as well as death, giving more material for consideration with every new view that opens up about her. 

There are plot holes, a few I could mention. And some characters seemed mere additions for diverting the focus of the reader in points during the story when the narrative came close to revealing the main twist. All the characters, though described in detail, do not have equally important roles to play, and this might be a deal breaker for today's fast paced readers. (They each play some role. Just not the strong defined roles we would expect them to play). The climax did leave me wanting more - be it in the terms of a proper closure or some glaring loose ends. It should have been thought out better, but that again, is not a total letdown. 

Menon's narrative is twice as attractive in the way it captures the emotions of even the secondary characters perfectly, often giving the reader insights into their persona. Despite the descriptive nature, a lot is left to the understanding of the reader that is based on the perception they have towards the story. This can either be a hit or miss, and it solely depends on the readers' grasp of the story. Be it the dead woman, or the bereaved husband or the father, or the numerous other characters, even those who are seemingly unrelated to the main plot have a small role to play in the overall story. The main USP of the novel is keeping the suspense alive till the last few pages. The book is a treat for fans of this genre. 

WHAT I LIKED: 
  • The words are so potent, so descriptive and captivating.
  • The narrative is reminiscent of the English novels of the ones from few decades ago, long winded but rich in text
  • The book keeps the interest alive by the pure force of content, and fits the thriller genre very well
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: 
  • The descriptions are a bit on the longer side, often catching one off guard
  • The subplots can take the focus away from the main narrative if you aren't paying attention!
  • The book's pace is uneven, and it might give the readers a break in between
VERDICT: 

Loved this book, mainly for the elegant and captivating narrative. 

RATING: 4/5 



About the Author



Deepti Menon has always believed in the power of the pen. Having done her post graduation in English Literature and her B.Ed. in English, she had the option of teaching and writing, and did both with great enjoyment. She started writing at the age of ten, long before she acquired a Diploma in Journalism. She also had the advantage of being an Army kid, and later an Army wife, and loved the idea of travelling around India, meeting new people and acquiring new skills. She firmly believes that much of her personality was honed during those travels.

In 2002, her light hearted book, ‘Arms and the Woman’, depicting life as seen through the eyes of an Army wife, was published by Rupa Publishers, Delhi. This was written mainly to reveal the warmth and camaraderie within the great institution. She is now working on her second book that is a work of fiction, and not- to-be divulged yet! 




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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them - The Original Screenplay

AUTHOR: Joanne Kathleen Rowling

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1408708989

GENRE: Fiction / Fantasy / Screenplay

NUMBER OF PAGES: 304

FORMAT: Hardcover

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone. (But Screenplay of probably first of five movies)

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A timely gift from a friend in search of the original Fantastic Beasts (Hogwarts Library Copy - which has not come, yet!)

SUMMARY:

• J.K. Rowling's screenwriting debut is captured in this exciting hardcover edition of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay

• Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay is an entirely new and original story written by J.K. Rowling for the screen

• The screenplay will be brought to life in Warner Bros. Pictures' upcoming feature film and was inspired by the Hogwarts textbook of the same title, which was written by J.K. Rowling's character Newt Scamander and published in 2001 in aid of Comic Relief.

• The published screenplay will comprise J.K. Rowling’s full script of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

• It is a feat of imagination and an exciting adventure, featuring an array of magical creatures and characters

• It will be published both in print and digital editions in line with the UK and US release of the feature film from Warner Bros in November 2016

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone… Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader's bookshelf.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

I had expected this book to be the original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Hogwarts Library Book when it was ordered. The description on this particular link on Amazon did not mention it was a Screenplay. Overjoyed at having to lay my hands, finally, on the original book written by JKR, I was indeed surprised to have the hardcover edition of the Screenplay.

But the book attracted me immediately. It was love at first sight, and the screenplay book captured my attention completely the moment I removed the protective plastic jacket. The navy blue jacket of the hardcover and the gold embossed letters took me back to the magic of the Potter Universe and I wasted no time in opening it and reading.

P.S. : I have seen the movie on big screen. The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them original movie starring Eddie Redmayne was an instant hit as far as I am concerned. And this book had to live up to that expectation.

REVIEW:

There is undeniable joy in reading a book that belongs to your favorite series, or is written by your favorite author. Joanne Rowling was not just a favorite author. She has been an inspiration since I have known about the world she has created and it was no secret that I loved every aspect of it, despite the many complaints I will have. The last book I read from the series was Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, the play about Harry's life after Hogwarts, and focusing on Albus Severus Potter, his son. Touted to be the eighth book in the series (the original of which has seven books), The Cursed Child came as something of a surprise and was the first full length book I read as a script, a play and not as a fiction novel.

Maybe it was that experience that had prepared me to read and navigate through this screenplay with ease. I could understand the dialogues and the scene placement much better than I did when I was reading The Cursed Child, and the terms specific to plays and movies, like 'POV', 'Pan', 'Ext' , 'Int' made sense. Of course, it helped that I had seen the movie previously and I could assign faces to the characters. I should admit that Jacob Kowalski and Newt Scamander dominated the scenes, with Queenie giving tough competition. It also helped that I had the frames of the movie memorised, making the visualisation very easy and the book infinitely more enjoyable. Did you just see me say that I liked a movie and that helped me read a book? Yes, you did. It is a screenplay after all, and it is all about being able to give faces to the characters and directing the movie inside our head.

The story itself is simple. (Not reviewing the movie here). Newt Scamander arrives in Early twentieth century New York, with a case full of 'fantastic beasts'. He passes the customs by making his case 'Muggle Worthy' and enters into the city where some dark force has wreaked havoc and destruction. We are quickly introduced to the main characters in the book, and it was easier to read through the dialogues knowing who spoke them. An investigator belonging to the MACUSA, Tina Goldstein, takes Newt Scamander into custody for interrogation as he searches desperately for his escaped Niffler. Yes, the very same Niffler that stole our hearts, emoting as well as the shy Newt did. From there the movie is about two major things - exciting chases after the beasts that escape, and trying to make sense of the dark force that is destroying the city, posting a serious threat to the International Statute of Secrecy.

We are introduced to the concept of an 'Obscurus' - the dark, black physical form (barely above a stormy wind) that is actually the form the oppressed magic of kids takes. Die hard fans of the series immediately remember the sweet little Ariana Dumbledore, the girl who was an important turning point in the original series, possibly an obscurus who had suffered the fate of suppressing her magic. This also explains the interest Gellert Grindelwald had on her, and the place where he appears in this new book makes complete sense. And in JKR's inimitable style, the pieces fall into place almost miraculously.

Maybe because it spoke about the world of magic but with different characters, leaving the original set untarnished, or maybe because this book was closer to the actual style of the author, or probably because I was, by now, used to the concept of screenplays / scripts, Fantastic Beasts appealed to me a tad more than The Cursed Child did. There were confusions, however, and a lot of them. It took me a long time to get used to 'No-Maj', MACUSA, Madam President and the likes when I had spent more than a decade talking about Muggles, Ministry of Magic and Minister for Magic. These terms seemed to be simplifications and acronyms, pertaining to the area it was based in but they did not hamper the reading once I got used to them.

I loved the book overall, having loved the movie in the first place. I have gotten used to reading the screenplay style of writing and it was made easier by the glossary of terms that explained the scene setting better. I read the book in one sitting, start to finish, miraculously never even having to keep it down and that was a main contributor to the list of reasons I really enjoyed this foray into the magical world. I still would not call this style of writing my favorite, (it will take a little more time to get used to it) but I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the journey on the whole. 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The different scene settings - the book about a Hufflepuff, set in the USA, and spoke about a different controlling authority.
  • The illustrations were the highlight of the book. They helped in the understanding of the story and kept the interest alive. Special thanks (as mentioned in the book) to the graphic designers who were instrumental in the graphic design for the movies, and had illustrated this by hand.
  • The character of Jacob Kowalski, the one person who stole my heart besides Newt Scamander. They are perfectly defined and are etched in my mind.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • The slight disappointment in the actual description in the link - it did not mention the screenplay and that was misleading.
  • The book could have explained the rules of the new (different) society a bit better. It would be harder to follow were it not for the movie.
VERDICT:

Potterheads will love this book, but a lot depends on the acceptance of an entirely new side of the Potter Universe.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J.K. Rowling is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books, published between 1997 and 2007, which have sold over 450 million copies worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories, translated into 74 languages, and have been turned into eight blockbuster films. She has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry's schoolbooks within the novels. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through The Ages were published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief. In December 2008, The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published in aid of the Children's High Level Group, and quickly became the fastest selling book of the year

As well as an OBE for services to children's literature, J.K. Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees including the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, France's L├ęgion d'Honneur, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and she has been a Commencement Speaker at Harvard University USA. She supports a wide number of charitable causes through her charitable trust Volant, and is the founder of Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children. For further information about J.K. Rowling, please visit her new website: www.jkrowling.com

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Hardcover

PRICE Rs. 232.80 for Kindle, Rs. 349 for Hardcover

BOOK LINKS: Amazon