Thursday, February 28, 2013

Redemption by Joe Prentis

Title : Redemption
Author: Joe Prentis
Publisher : Amazon Kindle(E-Book)
Genre : Hostorical Fiction

Reviewing an E-book is a novel experience. Although reading of e-books has increased in frequency yet one is not very comfortable without turning the pages. Still after a shaky start one could not put this one down or rather switch the reader off. 
 Redemption is a prequel to the now popular Renegade Series novels by the Author Joe Prentis. It is the story of Sergeant Oakley who has been an attaché with General McCLellan since the war began and has fought the American Civil War on North’s side. It’s a story placed around the end of the war when the peace process fails repeatedly and trust in the ranks and amongst the general public is at a premium. It has references interlinked with President Lincoln’s assassination and the events leading up to it.
Sergeant Oakley is waiting for the war to end and plans to go to the west to try and settle down but gets involved in the course of events when he falls in love with Anna, a girl turned vagabond on the streets of Washington after her family is wiped off during the civil war which ravaged Washington.
The fast paced, action packed style of writing keeps the reader hooked to the novel. There is action from the start till the end and lots of intrigue. The Characters whether Primary or secondary have been very well etched.  The length of the novel appropriate considering the turn of events described and there is no unnecessary prose winding the action down.
Anna and Oakley come alive with their chemistry. So do McCade and McLellan, commoners who became soldiers for a just cause and believe in it vehemently. Washington, its political milieu and the condition of the city has been described very well throughout the novel. The generals meeting with Lincoln brings you close to the enigmatic figure. Historical details have been carefully and correctly incorporated. The climax is again very well handled and the action suitably slows down while the suspense builds up. The tale in the twist comes as a pleasant relief and surprises the reader.
It’s a good introduction of the Western Novel to the modern reader, especially in India. It will be interesting to read the Renegade series now. Thus it totally serves its purpose as a prequel to the series. It leaves you asking for more and one feels like ordering the Renegade series right away.
It is a very good and interesting read by itself too. One feels for the lovers and realises the futility of war and the destruction it causes. Particularly the problems of a civil war where families are wiped off and children left unprotected and uncared for. It also brings out the apathy of a people torn apart by war and strife and the way they lose the ability to trust and be compassionate. 

Monday, February 25, 2013



I’d call this book a self help book for understanding the finer nuances of finance. This book by Akhil Khanna, comes with a tag line of “Road To Riches Made Easy”. I don’t know about the road to riches but the author has definitely made the world of finance along with its jargon very simple and easily understandable.
Akhil Khanna, is an MBA from University of Sheffield (UK) and he specializes in Financial Management. His motto with respect to this book seems to be: “It is not important what one earns; true wealth is what one manages to keep.” Very aptly said and I heartily agree with him.
Akhil Khanna has nearly covered everything in his book to give you a basic understanding about how the financial world works and how we should go about it as an individual or an entrepreneur.
The author has discussed money, property – evaluating the nature and the earning potential of the property, multiplying fixed income, debt and earnings, changes in the world economy and its effect on investments and other factors effecting investments. He has even discussed the professionals managing other people’s money, how insurance companies work and how having the right insurance is beneficial and can make your life stress free. He has discussed the world financial crisis of 2008 and the effect of this on financial institutions/households/corporate s and governments.

Akhil Khanna in midst of discussing the various fields of the financial world has dedicated one whole chapter to investing in happiness. This definitely came as an unexpected pleasant surprise.

I would recommend all readers to go through the book really slowly so as to grasp the fundamentals.
This book is highly recommended to all laymen like me. 

I’d sum up by using Akhil Khanna’s words

”Where you reach on the last day of your life is not as important as the consistent happiness with which you enjoyed the journey.”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog

Title : The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog
Author : Himanjali Sankar
Publisher : Duckbill

Rousseau is a superdog in Mrs. Ghosh's household with a unique ability to tell time through his barks, raising of his forelimbs  and thumping of tail. Mrs Ghosh and her two daughters - Aanya and Kaayva dote on their pet dog and have gotten used to the fact that their dog is capable of doing much more than what a regular canine does.

There are these Orange Marmaladies from the Black Hole of Time who were the original timekeepers of the universe and who used to enjoy the company of humans very much before humans became self sufficient in terms of tracking time.  Now Marmaladies feel ignored and uncared for and worst of all, humans do not seem to notice them at all, they have become invisible in human world. To get their visibility and friendship with humans back they think of a drastic plan. They stop all the time showing devices in the human world but unfortunately contrary to their beliefs,  nothing changed. The humans still can not see the Marmaladies. However, a few things happened in the human world - they realize how utterly dependent all of them have become on time and without time their whole world becomes chaotic.

Now there is only one creature who can actually bring some semblance in the timeless world even without the assistance of  any clocks or watches - its Rousseau and thanks to the dog, Ghosh's household is still running smoothly. The dog becomes the subject of study for many around the world and the superdog becomes a superhero. But are the humans able to see and acknowledge Marmaladies again? Will the Marmaladies get back their long lost togetherness with humans? Will the time telling devices start working again?

Besides being a fun packed story full of madness for children it has another introspective angle to it too. I feel Orange Marmaladies are much more than strange creatures from outer world. These are our own and other's feelings which we have stopped responding to because of our always running to meet the deadlines routine. A smile here, a little nod there, an acknowledgment of some feeling, listening to somebody, sharing somebody's sorrows - anything could be one of the Marmaladies and the same are becoming 'invisible' in the self-centered culture.

So 'The Stupendous Timetelling Superdog' is indeed a thought provoking tale and this aspect of Marmaladies should be discussed with the young readers after they are done reading the story once. I am sure it would enhance the pleasure of reading this tale much more as they start to appreciate the idea of layered characterization and the importance of human values which conveniently get sacrificed at the altar of paucity of time.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Noah's Wife by T.K.Thorne

Title : Noah’s Wife
Author: T.K.Thorne
Publisher: Blackburn Fork
Genre : Historical Fiction

Her Savta calls her a special child and she indeed turns out to be very special. Her travails and travels are interesting enough to keep one enticed. The story of genesis - Noah’s Ark and the disastrous flood - forms the background of this tale. The author T.K Thorne has relied on weaving her plot around the ancient tale but has researched through the scientific studies which support the theory that a great flood did occur near the shores of the now brackish Black Sea. This novel is no real account but a very logical and convincing version of the story of the great boat and the animals being kept on it.
What makes it different and refreshing is that it is told from the perspective of Na’amah, Noah’s wife who doesn’t even find her name mentioned in the Biblical version. It is written in first person narrative and the heroine herself weaves a beautiful tale, though she misses the nuances that a ‘normal ’person won’t, making it a tale from a different perspective. She tells us her life story and experiences which lead up to the flood.
“My name, Na’amah, means pleasant or beautiful”, She says and she is indeed beautiful. She suffers from what is now known as Aspergers Syndrome, a spectrum form of Autism. All she wants is to be a shepherdess as she loves her sheep and understands them better than humans. Humans make her uncomfortable because she is unable to understand their complex behaviour.
“I speak only truth, unwise as it may be, since lies distress me…my words and manner seem odd to other people. I am more comfortable with animals, who do not expect me to be any way than the way I am”. The character is very believably drawn, making it real and remarkable for a mythological persona
The story showcases the religious norms and beliefs of the time credibly but a bit too simply for example the father God and Mother Goddess theory is almost one-dimensional. The cultural and social milieu of the prehistoric time in the ancient Turkey has been successfully recreated. It’s enchanting and very absorbing. What is heart warming is Na’mah’s questioning of the religious beliefs and refusal to believe in miracles without a logical reasoning, yet keeping her faith alive.
 It’s a tale ridden with strong sexual undercurrents. Her brother Tubal-Cain is savage with his treatment of her and she is perplexed due to his incessant hatred of her. Yanner, her childhood friend and mate also behaves inexplicably. She is forced to make choices and she does that wisely. She faces her circumstances strongly and confidently and emerges a winner. Noah comes across as a noble, understanding and loving husband.
A great enthralling read which had to be read at one go. It has all the ingredients of a best-seller like drama, intrigue, adventure and romance. An extremely well written, tightly woven tale which moves at a fast pace and keeps one hooked. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

Title : The Twentieth Wife
Author : Indu Sundaresan
Publisher : Harper Collins

The great Mughal empire with all its expansiveness, grandeur, opulence and flamboyance has always mesmerized and intrigued historians, storywriters and commoners alike. Mughals (the word which is actually derived from Mongols) came from middle Asia towards India and reigned over most of the Indian subcontinent in the period 1526 to 1757. Though the royal emperors like Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb have long been resting in the annals of India, yet their styles, their polished faculties for art and culture, their elaborate mannerism, their harems, their foods still hold the unabated charm to enthrall many.

Indu Sundaresan brings back a slice of that era spanning from Akbar's reign to that of Jahangir's focusing more on their counterparts - the Mughal women and especially Mehrunnisa - a lady ,who, true to her name was like a Sun among women.  She grew up fantasizing about being Salim's wife some day but her dreams were brutally shattered when emperor Akbar commanded her father to marry her off to a valiant soldier of Persia - Ali Quli. Salim, who got enamoured by Mehrunnisa's beauty at a couple of chance meetings could not do anything to change Akbar's words. Being in a loveless marriage, enduring the stigma of being a barren lady for a long time after marriage, Mehrunnisa never got over her first love and nor did Salim. As fate would have it, they both met again and the dormant love between them got a chance to rekindle again.  After long torturous years of waiting, Salim (now emperor Jahangir) got to make his own choice, entirely devoid of any political aspiration - to marry his love of life Mehrunnisa who was given the name Noor Jahan by him. The controversial empress, the twentieth and last wife of Jahangir, went on to become a very powerful entity in Mughal lineage.

The author very meticulously talks about the veiled women wielding strong influence over the emperors, the political games played on either side of the curtains, supremacy and code of conduct in harems, open revolts of sons against their respective fathers for the prized crown, marriages for political gains or supremacy and much more.

I think I am a little biased towards the stories with strong female protagonists who let their grace, wisdom and strength of character introduce their identities to the world. In 'The Twentieth Wife'  Mehrunnisa is undoubtedly an epitome of poise, intelligence and patience. The beautifully written tale is based in parts on historical facts, gossips of bazars during that time and traveller's accounts with gaps filled with fictional spice and the result is a wonderfully weaved world full of flavour and fragrance. The amount of research that the author must have done for this piece of writing is evident from every detail that has been given due regard throughout the narrative. All the characters, their strengths and vulnerabilities are understandable and relatable. Indeed a very fast paced story with no dull moment in the whole of 376 pages long book rather every page teases you more and more for the events that are waiting to unfold in the subsequent pages. It is a sheer pleasure to read this story so must not be missed.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Little Dude

Author: Michelle Hennessy
Illustrator: Luke Harland
ISBN: 9780987354921

Your first day on the surfboard. You are enjoying. It is starting to get dark and you are far into the sea. You are scared. Suddenly you meet a stranger. He has a strange story to tell. A very strange story. Would you believe him? Would you like to be like him? What about your family back home?

Well, for all we can say, the choice is yours. But, to know what little Max did, you will have to pick up this cute little book and read it out to your tiny tot. 'Little Dude', first in the series, 'Adventures of Max', is a refreshing account of Max's escapades of the first day he went surfing. The book colorfully and picturesquely describes the sequence of events and the beautiful bonding between a little child and his special friend. The aspirations of a small kid of going surfing, his unhappiness upon not having his friend around, his fear of being away from mummy, his presence of mind in deciding what would be best for him, his family or the vast expanse of the sea, all fit so beautifully into this tiny story. It is indeed a wonderful book for preschool kids.

The wonderful illustrations set the mood right. They accompany the story so well that we can actually imagine that the reality must have been something like that. The expressions, the landscapes, the happiness, the fear, the sea creatures, Max and Little Dude themselves. They are just so pretty.

Having grown up in a very large family, having many siblings, many many nieces and nephews, even great nieces and nephews, the author, Hennessy decided that this was the best way to make children happy, inculcate in them, the pleasure of reading as well as love the outdoor activities. 

As the last line of the book reads, "Max was so happy and so was his new best friend Little Dude", wellwe aren't any less happy either. Especially with the fact that there are many more books to come in this series.