"Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it. ~ Novelist Jeanette Winterson

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Crows Of Agra | Book Review

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At a Glance....

Title:The Crows Of Agra
Author: Sharath Komarraju
Publisher: Amazing Reads
Pages:218
Genre : Mystery / Fiction
Format : Paperback
ISBN :9-788192-910956

This is an Akbar- Birbal mystery, a book that I had purchased long back.I took this along with me on a road trip and read it all through the way , snatching a few minutes here and there to see where the story was going!

I like historical fiction and I was sure this one wouldn't disappoint me. The author was new to me but the term 'Birbal Mystery was enough to encourage me to read on.

At the very beginning, the note from the author states that this is a work of fiction and should not be related to history!It can be called a murder mystery with a historical flavor or simply a murder mystery.This being said, it is easier to accept the twists and turns in the story!

The story takes placein Agra in the 16th century where Akbar has no inking on what is going on in his empire. 

Bairam khan, who has been gaurding the throne is also said to have been ganging up with other rulers to dethrone Akbar and ascent the throne to rule Agra.Maham Anga ,Akbars foster mother and her son Adham Khan, Empress Ruquiya who has not been able to bear a heir to the throne, Salima, the wife of Bairam khan,who is said to be in love with Akbar, Akbar's elderly aunt Gulbadan are some of the main characters in this book along with Mahesh Das / Birbal .

Akbar meets Mahesh Das when he is captured by a group of dacoits ,Mahesh Das cleverly saves Akbar and takes him to the palace.

Bairam Khan is murdered and there starts Mahesh Das's investigation in finding out who the killer is.

In the end, he solves the mystery and Akbar is very much happy to see his way of investigation and asks him to continue to be with him as his eyes and ears of the palace.

My view on the book:

It is fast paced,especially after Biram Khans death and Akbar asking Mahesh Das to investigate. 
There are some incidents that are fictional yet add a nice layer to the story.
It is written in simple language.
You can get a good glimpse of the Moghul Era and the ways of the King and the people.
All in all it is a quick and easy read that can be finished in one sitting.




Linking this to:

  1. 52 books in 52 weeks
  2. Mount TBR Reading Challenge
  3. Review Writing Challenge
  4. Wild Goose chase Reading Challenge for the key word- Species of a bird.



Until next post....

And Then There Were None - Book Review

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At a Glance....

Title: And Then There Were None
Author:Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers India
Pages:317
Genre : Mystery
Format : Paperback
ISBN :978-0-00-728231-9

I took this  book along when I went to drop of my daughter for an exam. Since the exam center was quite far from home, I decided to wait there till she finished her exams. I was so engrossed in the book that I never realized how fast time flew until I saw my kiddo come out of the hall!

This book is about 10 people who are invited to stay in an island mansion by a mysterious U.N.Owen.Each of the characters travel by train / car and then are taken by a ferry to reach the mansion.

The characters are Vera Claythorne,Miss Emily Brent,General Macarthur,Dr.Amstrong,Antony Marston,Detective Blore, Philip Lombard,Mr. & Mrs. Rogers are the caretakers of the mansion who have been employed just a few days before this strange group reaches the mansion.

Each of of this group have been given a different reason to dtay in the mansion and no one suspects the intentions of U.N. Owen .

They have all been assigned rooms and Vera notices a big square of parchment with a nursery rhyme...

Ten little Soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Soldier boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Soldier boys going in for law;
One got into Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Soldier boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Soldier boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little Soldier boys playing with a gun;
One shot the other and then there was One.
One little Soldier boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none. 

They all assemble to dine and there are 10 little china figures in the dining room. After dinner, a gramophone record is played and instead of a song, all the guests are accused of some wrong doing and are asked if they have anything to say in their defense!

Everyone is petrified after listening to The Voice . Each of these people have been involved in a death for which they do not hold responsibility. They still maintain that the death has nothing to do with them and they are not guilty yet in their hearts they know it is not so.

One by one is killed in the same manner as mentioned in the poem.As the murders start, the remaining people have no means of getting of the island / contacting the people in the town. They live each minute in fear and not knowing who will be the next target.

Each one suspects some one else and the as the needle of suspicion moves to the other we sit there at the end of the seat wondering who the real murderer is!

Finally, all the 10 people are murdered and then the police finds a letter from the murderer and that twist is something which I did not see coming!!!

My view on the book:

Truly engrossing read that will keep you turning page after page.I was on the edge of the seat at every turn of events!!

The ending is something that you will never expect!!

You can easily finish off the book in 2-3 hours time.

If you love murder mysteries go for this book, I am sure you will not be disappointed.




Linking this to:
  1. Monthly Keyword Challenge where the keywords for Feb are - And, Rose, Promise, Every, Deception, Blazing
  2. 52 books in 52 weeks
  3. Mount TBR Reading Challenge
  4. Review Writing Challenge
Until Next post


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kalki: Selected Stories



At a Glance....

Title: Kalki: Selected Stories
Author:Kalki
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages:290
Genre : Collection of selected short stories
Format : Paperback
ISBN :0-14-029043-5




 I think this book was picked up from a garage sale many years back and only this month that I was able to pick it up to read.

The original work is in Tamil and it has been translated by Gowri Ramnarayan,Kalki's grand daughter. Kalki ,whose real name is Ramasamy Krishnamurthy, was a Tamil Writer, critic, poet, Indian independence activist.

I picked up this book because mom is a huge fan of Kalki's work and seeing this in my bookshelf prompted me to read it.

Though I can read Tamil, I started off with this book and will later move on to the original Tamil versions of Ponniyin Selvan, Sivakamiyin Sabafham and Parthiban kanavu, all of which are sitting on the bookshelf.

Now about the book...

This book is a compilation of 12 short stories .The themes of these stories reflect the social issues of his time and some of the ideals were way ahead of his times. Back then, these stories would have created a stir in the society!Most of the stories have a twist in the end and all the stories are engaging.

These are the stories,the original titles in tamil and the magazine in which they were published.
  1. The letter - Kadithamum Kaneerum [Ananda Vikadan 1937] - Talks about education for women and life of childhood widow.This story is based on a real life protagonist who dedicated her life to the upliftment of women. 
  2. The poison cure - Vishamandhiram [Navasakthi 1925] - One of the earliest stories written by Kalki, talks about untouchability and this too is based on real life incidences and that which Kalki was a part of!
  3. The rebirth of Srikanthan - Srikanthan Punarjanmam [Kalaimagal date unknown] - It is a tale of love and misplaced trust.On the background we read a lot about the various stages of the freedom struggle and how women were looked down on when they appeared in a public platform and addressed a gathering.
  4. The Governor's visit - Governor Vijayam [Navasakthi 1925] - This story line is apt even now and one can relate to the current day political situation!!
  5. Rural fantasy - Kanaiyazhiyin kanavu [Ananda Vikadan 1934] -In the translator's words, Kalki wants the reader to chuckle and chortle with him over the madness that has infected a small sleepy village where each day brings in new stuffs and no two days are similar!!
  6. The Tiger king - Puliraja [ Kalki 1941] -This is one of the most translated stories of Kalki. The story is fun from start to finish.
  7. Sivakozhundu of Tiruvazhundur - Tiruvazhundur Sivakozhundu [Ananda Vikadan 1939] - This story is through the voice of Kandappa Pillai.He tells us about the tale of a Nadaswaram genius who retired at the peak of his career.
  8. The Big swelling sea - Pongumankadal [Kalki 1948] - This is the only story in this book which is the abridged version and the translator felt this was the toughest one to translate.
  9. The S.S. Menaka - S.S. Menaka [Kalki 1942] - The evacuation of Burma in World war II is the backdrop of this story.But this is not the story about war and destruction but about love binding two hearts amidst all the destruction.
  10. The Ruined fort - Idindha Kotai [Anantha Vikatan 1940]
  11. Veenai Bhavani - Veenai Bhavani [ Kalki 1942]-It talks of the Devadasi system which is passe now but it is a good read.
  12. Madatevan's spring -Madatevan Sunai [Kalki 1950] - A historical romance themed story that acclaimed him to be an exponent in this genre!
Each of these stories pass on a social message or portray the life of people in the 1930's and 40's.

Now after reading this translated version, I am going to search for the original one in Tamil and enjoy the stories in Kalki's own words.


Linking this to:
  1. TBR Challenge [ Short Stories Category]
  2. 52 books in 52 weeks
  3. Mount TBR Reading Challenge
  4. Review Writing Challenge

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea | Book Review


At a Glance....

Title: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Author: Jules Verne
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Pages:290
Genre :Sci-Fi
Format - E- Book 
ISBN - 978-1-62395-839-8





I remember reading this in my school library years ago. That was the abridged version. Over the years, I forgot most of the story line but still remember Captain Nemo.When I saw this on my kindle cloud, I wanted to read the unabridged version and see what this book was all about.

This is the story of the French Naturalist Dr.Aronnox who sets out on a journey to hunt down a monster at sea which seems to destroy anything and everything that comes in its way. The ship in which he is traveling is attacked by the monster and he is overthrown along with his servant Conseil and an ace harpooner Ned Land.





They find themselves on the a submarine,Nautilus, which is the 'monster' that they were hunting. Together with the Captain Nemo, Aronnox explores the depths of the oceans and all the while Ned plans to escape from the Nautilus.


My view on the book:

It is a good book and the theme and technologies mentioned in the book was way ahead of the times it was written in!But to me it looked more like an underwater exploration rather than an adventure story. Some parts of the book really dragged along.I was so tempted to skip the pages that went on and on about the the geography of the ocean,the underwater forests, the sea urchin and other creatures of the sea! I got bored in between and was about to even abandon this book!

There are books that I would love to reread but I don't think this book falls under that category[in my opinion]. I liked the children's version better!

Linking this to:
  1. Monthly Keyword Challenge where the keywords for January are Thousand, Court, Of, Fall, Way,Deep
  2. 52 books in 52 weeks
  3. Mount TBR Reading Challenge
  4. Ebook Reading Challenge
  5. Review Writing Challenge
  6. What's in the name reading challenge
Until Next post

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Brain - Book Review

At a Glance....

Title:Brain
Author:Robin Cook
Pages:306
Genre : Medical Thriller
Format - Paperback 
ISBN -0-451-11260-1







 This is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookshelf way to long!

Ever since I read the first ever Robin Cook's - Sphinx,I was hooked on to his books. This one is a medical thriller and it surely gave a thrill reading it.

The story revolves around a medical center , 2 doctors-Martin Philips and Denise Sanger, who work there, a bunch of young women and William Micheals,Martin's researcher partner.

The story starts with a young woman going for Gynaec  check up at the Hobson University Medical Center ,New York, and then suddenly disappears from the face of the earth! This continues and several young women who come to the gynecology department go missing.Before they vanish, they display certain weird behaviors,mental breakdown and shocking sexual behaviors.

 William Micheals and Dr.Martin together have been working on developing a program to enable the computer to read the skull X-ray and William presents the work to Martin where he spends hours working with it and trying to see if the program is efficient / has any shortcomings.

 Dr. Martin, who is actually the Asst.Chief of Neuroradiology along with the the second year resident Denise, come to notice the missing brain in one of these women who has had brain surgery and died on the operation table.

Despite the several threats from the management to stop his involvement in other areas, Martin is dead set to find out why the women he has been examining through the reports exhibit such odd behaviors. He tries to meet these women and find they are all missing and each one had a gynaec checkup before they disappeared.

One fine day Martin follows the hospital coroner-Werner to see if he is involved in the missing women case and in his apartment,Martin is attacked by Werner and is saved by  someone who we later find out to be a FBI agent. Later Martin learns that he was being followed by this agent and was sent to protect him!

Everything goes out of hand and he reaches out to William for help who promises to get him out of the situation.But soon Martin realizes that there is a bigger conspiracy involved for which he has unknowingly played a part!!

He sees the missing women but in a totally different form! That's when he learns about human experimentation and realizes what has been happening all along! He also comes to witness the power of the human brain!

 My view of the book:

Yes, it is thrilling to read, especially to know why the women behave so weirdly and also to know where ,why and how they disappeared.The plot is gripping and makes you read on and on. Until the end I kept guessing what would have happened to all those missing women and the end sure came as a surprise!

On the other hand, some parts of the book dragged on a bit, like the way Martin uses the program to read the X rays etc. The end seemed a little hurried and looked like it was written to get it over with!



Linking this to:
  1. Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
  2. 52 books in 52 weeks
  3. Mount TBR Reading Challenge
  4. Review Writing Challenge
 Until the next post....




Monday, January 2, 2017

ABC Murders - Book Review

 At a Glance....

Title: ABC Murders
Author: Agatha Christie
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages:331
Genre :Mystery / Fiction
Format - Paperback
ISBN 13 -978-0-00-728245-6



After a really long time, I am reading one of Agatha Christie's novel. As always I enjoyed reading this Mystery / Thriller novel..And as always,Hercules Poirot teams with Hastings and solve a crime,or rather a series of crimes.

As the name suggests this books has around 4 murders.And the people murdered have a similarity - it goes on in alphabetical order. That much is easy to figure out through the title.

The story starts with Poirot receiving type written letter from one Mr.ABC informing him about the date and place of murders that are about to happen. At first he does not take them seriously but later he is forced to look into the matter when Alice Ascher, an aged shop keeper at Andover is found murdered in her shop and there is an ABC railway guide on teh counter.

This pattern continues with Betty Bernard at Bexhill, Sir Carmichael Clarke at Churston found murdered and before their murders,Poirot receives the same sort of letters with the date and place!!

Wanting to avoid the murder forth time round, he forms a special legion with the family / relatives of the previously murdered people.They all go to Danver to try and stop the murder or catch Mr. ABC but fail miserably when another person is found murdered at the theater!

While all this is going on, we read about Mr. Alexander Bonaparte Cust,a war veteran with head injury and epilepsy who is also a stocking salesman. Just around the time the fourth murder takes place, Cust's landlady's daughter and fiance suspect the murderer to be their tenant.

Soon everything points to Mr. Alexander Bonaparte Cust as the cold blooded murderer and when he is arrested, he accepts to the crimes.

Even then Poirot believes that he is not the murderer and silently and in his own method works out to find out if Mr. Alexander Bonaparte Cust is the murderer or not.

What I liked about this book:

It is an Agatha Christie Mystery / Thriller, so what is not to like! But if we are looking at something apart from that, then read on..

It has you hooked on right from the time Poirot talks about the letter to Hastings. It is a page turner for sure!The thrill increases with each murder and most of the times I felt I knew who the murderer was.And as usual AC proves there is a twist to the ending!!

A very good read that can be finished in a day or two.Go for it...


Linking this to:
  1. Alphabet Sour Reading Challenge
  2. 52 books in 52 weeks
  3. Mount TBR Reading Challenge
  4. Review Writing Challenge
Until Next post