HARAPPA: Curse of the Blood River – Book Review

Books, Uncategorized

First off, let me clarify that I am a complete mythological and historical-fantasy buff. I’d read anything that has even the merest mention of it, so it isn’t any wonder that Harappa happened over the weekend.

The book is part of series which focuses on an ancient bloodline which apparently holds the secret to man’s destruction. In a twist, the ones who carry this bloodline are actually the good guys and the bad guys are well… some mysterious European organization.

It starts off a little incoherently with far too many scene switches, each of which is unnecessarily detailed.

It doesn’t improve much when the protagonist is introduced, he is shown to be so blessed and perfect, that I immediately disliked him, even to the point of hating him. Which is actually a genius move by the author, Vineet Bajpai.

Yes, you read that right, by making you envious of the protagonist in the first pages, Bajpai sets you up perfectly for the dark revelations which happen later in the book. Don’t worry I ain’t going to reveal them here and spoil your fun.
But this little plot is an indication of the great storyline that Bajpai has created in Harappa.

It is difficult for me to actually review the storyline in the book as it is incomplete, being part of a series. However, everything I have read so far has been rather engrossing and has me crying the lament of every reader who encounters a cliffhanger!
Vidyut, the protagonist, who begins as an abnormally blessed man slowly metamorphoses into someone you can understand and empathize with and before long you find yourself rooting for him as the author intended.

In Harappa, the storyline barely skims the surface of what seems to be a far-reaching conspiracy which has its roots in ancient India. Not much is told about the motivations of the antagonists, who consist of a sinister organization and hired serial killers but that only adds to the longing for the sequel. (it better come out soon!)

But what really makes this book so engrossing for me are the tidbits of information and opinions that Vineet Bajpai raises on the subjects connected to the book. Delving deep into the meaning of the Hindu religion and history of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, he brings to light a number of very relevant questions throughout the book.

While unabashedly catering to the Hindutva hordes with his repeated assertions that Hinduism was the first religion, Bajpai also cleverly chastens them.
He puts forth the idea that Hinduism, in its purest form was a religion that valued women equal to if not greater than men. One of the great examples he took to illustrate this point is when the character of Purohit ji points out that no other religion in the world, worships men and female deities together. Christianity does make much of Mother Mary but she is always the forgiving mother not the omnipotent, devta/asura-killer like the goddesses of Hinduism. He also raises questions on the moral policing which is oh-so-prevalent today in Hinduism, according to the book, Hindus were supposed to be the forerunners of Buddhism in a very live-and-let-live way.

Also, I was happy to note that while the author did take historical liberties with the actual functioning of the Indus Valley Civilization, the rest of the facts were just that, facts. However a major complaint that I have with Harappan sections are the dilution of the language. It is not possible for the Harappans to say “Okay that didn’t work.” Statements like these really jarred me from the narrative and I truly wish he hadn’t adopted quite such a casual Americanized tone for the Harappan spoken word.

But such a complaint is, perhaps, not one that everyone would share. After all, its my tendency to pay extra attention to the linguistics of any book, most of the readers I believe would enjoy the conversational tone of Harappa.

All in all I rate it 3.5 out 5 stars.

It’s definitely worth a read but here’s hoping for some attention to detail and some conciseness in the sequel.

Click here to buy it now 

 

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Forbidden Love – Cassie Clare

Books

I have read almost everything in the Shadowhunters pantheon and frankly I’m slightly amazed. Apart from the Gaiman-esque integration of modern life and fantasy, which is a praiseworthy effort in itself, the books have a nuanced perception of forbidden love.

It’s a common enough of a theme in YA novels, exploited to no end by the various fandoms. However there is something about Cassandra Clare’s work which breathes a fresh breeze into this tired prop. Perhaps because she doesn’t follow the same theme of self-sacrifice as the rest, there are no external aggressors and most are not for ‘life-saving’ purposes. Her protagonists have different flavors to their forbidden love; societal taboo, for the feelings of near ones, a unenviable future…

The protagonists are real, they’re not celebrating the forbidden-ness of their love, it’s not a thrill for them. It’s not something that either of them is doing out self-esteem issues, or out of self-pity. The reasons are as layered as Tessa & Will’s maturity in knowing a relationship cannot be built on someone’s broken heart, to the simplistic but no less horrific reason of  Jace & Clary being siblings.

In her latest book, Lady Midnight, she deftly plays across the difference of loving someone near-at-hand and loving someone for who they are. She is also markedly more open about sexual encounters, although no definite descriptions yet given the vast swathe of ages she caters to. In this book she also plays with the idea of the protagonists enjoying casual sexual encounters for the fun of it while knowing they love someone else. It’s not the desperation that fueled Jace nor the curiosity that fueled Aline in City of Glass, it’s a modern representation of love and sex.

However the best reason to keep reading Cassie’s books, once you start? The snippets and Easter Eggs which fulfill the yearning in every fan’s heart:

What happened after ‘The End’?

 

 

 

 

The Rosary Murders – Book Review

Books, Uncategorized

I have an unabated love for old-school murder mysteries, you know the ones before ‘technology’ born, when it was just all a puzzle without an end. Those were the good ol days and The Rosary Murders by William X. Kienzle fits right into that category.

The book is not refined or terribly complex, it simply is engrossing enough with enough questions to keep you hooked. In this manner, it’s definitely the most perfect Summer Read, where the book is good for whiling away the time but is mediocre enough to be abandoned for a swim.

The mystery starts with a series of murders where the murderer leaves a calling card of a simple rosary in his victim’s hands. It stars a methodical and honest cop, a cynical yet devoted father and the rare brand of humans which were available only during the heyday of the 80s.

Bonus: It was also made into a film, rated 5.7/10 on IMDb

Giving this a 2.5/5 stars for its good character portrayals and mystery quotient.

The Most Exciting Book Sale Ever

Books, Uncategorized

If any of you bibliophiles are hanging about in Mumbai, India on Saturday; you should check this out!

It’s a book sale, where the different titles will be sold by the kilo! Books by weight! Have you heard of a more beautiful concept? While it may seem slightly barbaric and crass, its really a huge blessing.
Think back and you’ll realize the number of times you’ve had to regretfully let go of titles and restrain yourself from buying those impulse books. Why? All because of the high prices on the covers, the farce of discounts and of course the parity of the new releases vs the older stock.

Does the BooksByWeight Sale still seem wrong to you? Didn’t think so.

When:
Tomorrow – 5th March 2016 

Where: 
Sunderbhai Hall, Opposite Wankhede Stadium and near Churchgate Station 

Prices: 
Starting from Rs.100

Also if you dare to compare e-books and real books I will cheerfully murder you and then make a bookshelf using your bones!

 

Exploring Erotica with Anne Rainey

Books

I was an early convert to erotica from porn or imagination for those lonely masturbatory nights but I never really considered them to be ‘fun’ reading options as well.
Most books, haphazardly downloaded from illegal sites, rarely weave a story or background around the sex, it’s in a way mellow porn (let’s not talk about the fetish books) with the characters being hopelessly one-dimensional and getting straight down to business and then off. Alternatively you had the historical romances or the mills & boons which wove too much of a story! Its very nice to know the back-story but not when the entire book is the back-story with a couple of sex scenes (very very censored/implied) thrown in.

However that perception changed when I stumbled upon Anne Rainey, I have now been a faithful fan for quite a few years and her style keeps getting better and better. Here are six reasons I consider her to be one of the best erotica writers around-

  1. She doesn’t do allusions, no ‘down there’ ‘filled my soul’ crap, its a cock and a vagina and they’re pounding in all their glory.
  2. The women are strong, they have personality and character, rather than being limp nymphos.
  3. Her stories are short, sweet and complete, no rambling on for no good reason but as short as a virgin boy’s first lay.
  4. The sex described is fluid and good, I mean really good. The woman must have the best husband in the world.
  5. The men are shown to respect women, they might tie them up or rough them around but only with explicit permission.
  6. A lot of her books are loosely connected series like the Blackwater series (a personal favourite), Vaughn series etc. So there’s a sense of continuity without cliffhangers!

Now for the most awesome part, her books are now available for purchase online at amazon.in! Back when I first started, erotica was a taboo thing that no bookshop or online portal would even think of stocking but now its easily and cheaply available for everyone to enjoy! Click here to head straight to Anne Rainey at amazon.in

Write to Anne: anne@annerainey.com

Follow Anne: Facebook

Favorite Book Quotes Illustrated

Books

I’m a mad voracious reader, I’ll read anything if its fiction. Chick-lit, dick-lit, slice-of-life, horror or whatever! I also have all these little quotes from the books that stay with me even after I’m done with them. They end up being my little guideposts for life and now I’m sharing them with you!

These are also reading suggestions, if you haven’t read these yet, go read them now! Attaching links to buy them online as well(because I’m that awesome you know) just click on the book title.

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

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I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said this book changed my life.

The Dark Half by Stephen King

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Guaranteed to give every writer the heebie-jeebies

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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You don’t know science fiction + comedy till you know this.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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If you thought the movie was good you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough

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The best bad book ever written. You’ll wince but you’ll want.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

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You can’t really describe this book except for saying Naaley.
You’ll know what I mean when you read the last page.

Vodka by Boris Starling

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It has Russians and Russian gangsters and vodka. Nuff said.