Posts Tagged ‘review’

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In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light – until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable…and so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King’s men, she’s taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her – and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she’s spent her whole life withholding.

Frostblood is set in world where flame and ice are mortal enemies – but together create a power that could change everything.

I actually liked Frostblood by Elly Blake quite a bit.

It is a fast read. The writing style is clean and the story flows very smoothly. There are many of the tropes generally associated with fantasy YA – magically powerful but untrained female protagonist, brooding male lead, end of the world prophecy and of course, an evil king. But it retains a freshness, mainly due to the author’s writing style and because the book is not gritty but rather has a fairytale-esque quality to it – which makes it charming rather than typical.

I had guessed the main twist quite early on in the book, but still the start of the second part brought some surprises. The book also has a feel good factor – most people, when given a choice – choose to be good. I think that makes the book feel lighter than it actually is. There is decent character development of the protagonist, and some nice touches in regards to the other characters as well. I would have preferred them to be more fleshed out, but they are more than caricatures – and the second book might have quite a few things in store. Plus, the book has a somewhat definitive, happy ending. That was so good to have.

It will be a definite favorite with people who have just gotten into this genre (or want to check it out) and also good for people who are a bit tired of all the brutality/murder/grit (you get the idea).

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‘Death is certain for all who are born…or is it?’

Professor Bharadvaj is more than just another whisky-loving, gun-toting historian-for-hire. Behind the assumed identity of the cynical academic is a man who has walked the earth for scores of years. He is Asvatthama – the cursed immortal, the man who cannot die.
When Professor Bharadvaj is approached by the enigmatic Maya Jervois to search for a historical artefact unlike any other, he is reluctant to pursue it. The object in question, the Vajra, is rumoured to possess incredible alchemical powers, but the Professor does not believe it exists. After all, he has spent many lifetimes – and identities – searching for it, in a bid to unearth the secret to his unending life.

Yet, as the evidence of its existence becomes increasingly compelling, the Professor is plunged into an adrenaline-fuelled adventure that takes him from the labyrinthine passages beneath the Somnath temple to the legendary home of the siddhas in the Nilgiris, and finally into the deserts of Pakistan to solve a confounding puzzle left behind by the ancients.

But who is behind the dangerous mercenaries trying to thwart his discoveries at every step? And is the Professor – a legendary warrior in a long-ago life – cursed to walk the path of death and bloodshed forever?

I am not really a reader of Indian urban fantasy. Or even Indian fantasy, in general. Call me a snob, I don’t mind. It is definitely true when it comes to picking what books to read. This book has converted me if the rest in the genre are just as good.

Immortal by Krishna Udaysankar is the story of Asvatthama. Yes, that Asvatthama – the one who was a part of the Mahabharata. The son of Dronacharya. Duryodhana’s friend. Disgraced at the end of the Great War and cursed with eternal life.

Of course, I am sure I will learn a lot more about him when I get to The Aryavarta Chronicles – Govinda, KauravaKurukshetra – by the same author.

That being said, let’s talk about this book. Asvatthama is alive and well and has now been ‘roped’ into a search for the Vajra. Something we think is a mythical weapon. Or is it? It is definitely mythical, even to Asvatthama – who is extremely skeptical. After all, if he could not find it in centuries – it must not exist, right?

We move with this man, this undying man, as he follows the trail from the temples in Dwaraka to the deserts of Balochistan. What he is doing is truly interesting, but who he is now, that is even more interesting. Here is the man who was there with Genghis Khan, with Subhas Chandra Bose – who fought in battles all over the world – who, in his own words, is now that rare breed – ‘a soldier by profession’. It is him as a person who truly intrigued me – his fear of his body rotting – of losing his mind due to this horror – but not being able to die, his terror at the thought of forever drowning – and the fact that he overcomes all this to do what needs to be done. I liked the other characters too. There are no caricatures – but real people. All with their own machinations, desires and failings.

An extremely interesting read, the book is filled with well-researched references, characters that feel real in spite of their ‘magical’ realities, and a story that keeps you hooked and guessing till the end. I personally really enjoyed all the name dropping Asvatthama does.

Definitely, a read I’d recommend.

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Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.
Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

The impact of the fae declaration of war made in Fair Game (Alpha & Omega Book 3) has been visible in the Mercy books, but nowhere more so than in Fire Touched, the ninth book in the series by Patricia Briggs. Things are changing for the fae, and the return of Underhill and old powers is perhaps not the blessing they had assumed.

The return of Underhill has meant that the children trapped inside are no longer trapped. But now they have to face the fae who tend to take apart humans who intrigue them – and not only did these children survive in Underhill for centuries – she also gave them elemental powers. Now, Aiden is the last survivor – fire touched – beloved of Underhill – and yet singularly unsafe from the fae. He looks like a ten year old child, and somehow, Zee thinks he deserves protection that only the pack and Mercy can provide. But he is not easy to care for – with shaky control on elemental powers and a mindset from centuries past – having been molded by Underhill for ages – he is quite a dangerous guest.

This book seems to be about Aiden but in truth it is just as focused on supernatural politics – fae, werewolf and human. When the pack chooses to defend their territory and when it turns into a declaration – even Bran becomes involved – in a totally unexpected way. The presence of Beauclaire adds in that continuity from Fair Game, building up repercussions of the fae declaration of war.

Overall, the book is a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed every single nuance – from the essential oils to the video gaming; the fights – verbal and physical; and most of all the quiet game of intrigue.

 

night broken_front mech.inddSo recently I read Night Broken by Patricia Briggs, which is the eighth book in the Mercy Thompson series. Pat Briggs is one of my favorite authors and with excellent reason. I have loved every single book that she has ever written and each book has been unique in its own way. I truly love the way she writes and I have always found myself deeply interested and invested in the world and characters that she creates.

Without question, I recommend every novel, novella and short story she has ever written. The complete list can be found here.

That basically sets the premise where I picked up a book from which I had huge expectations, whether I thought about it or not. Well, the thing with Ms. Briggs’s writing is that even if you have high expectations, and even if it is the eighth book in a series (that also has a spin off as well as multiple shorts and novellas) she manages to bring something completely fresh to the table.

A bit of background on this series: “Mercedes is Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Her Native American heritage has gifted her with the ability to take the form of a coyote at will. She’s surrounded by far more powerful supernatural beings, including werewolves, vampires and an assortment of fey.” 

But she has not just been surrounded by them, she was also raised in the pack of The Marrock, who simplistically is the Alpha above all the werewolf alphas in North America, and thinks of her as his own daughter. She is the mate and wife of Adam, the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack. She is the daughter of Coyote. She is friends with Stefan, an extremely powerful vampire and was mentored by Zee a fae who has more than enough scary stories written about him. And none of these  define her. Mercy is her own person and her ability to be that, not just because of, but despite the supremely powerful and dominant personalities in her life make her an excellent protagonist. She is brilliant, loyal and innovative. Mercy is change, and change can be good, can be bad, can be a lot of things – which means that there are a lot of interesting books to come 🙂

Night Broken has a new problem arriving on Mercy’s doorstep – almost literally. Adam’s ex-wife, Christy has a stalker and asks Adam for help. Having a manipulative Christy in the house is annoying, but the fact that her stalker might be a little more than human is what is causing real issues for Mercy – because there are some things that even a pack of angry werewolves cannot rip apart.

The book, as always, had a fantastic plot. Some great new characters and nice development in some of the older ones. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and kept wishing it was longer.

I can talk more of the book itself, but at the end of the day, I have given way more spoilers about the series than I intended to already. It was amazing and the fact that I started it at 7 PM (should have known better!) and finished at 5 AM should give a good idea regarding just how amazing it really was 🙂

If you’re caught up, you do  not really need me to tell you to read this series. If you haven’t read it yet, then get on with it! And I hope you forget all the spoilers I gave away by the time the plot gets to them.

 

 

 

Black Arts

Black Arts is the 7th book in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.

The premise of the series is simple in a way. Jane is a skinwalker – she can turn into any other animal (preferably with not too much difference in mass) if she has access to its DNA. She is a licensed rogue vampire hunter, in an alternate reality to ours, where Vampires came out of the closet decades ago.

This vampire hunter is hired by, arguably, the most powerful vampire in the continental USA, Leo Pellisier on retainer and now she is in his semi-permanent employ – his ‘part-time enforcer’.

Black Arts builds upon the previous books in a way that gives answers without being redundant, allows for character growth and manages to be a gripping read, all at the same time. Evan Trueblood blows into NOLA, literally, looking for his missing wife, Molly Everhart Trueblood. He thinks Molly has come to Jane, but somehow, somewhere along the way, Molly has gone missing. Now Jane has to find Molly and figure out exactly what made her leave her husband and children behind.

Two of Katie’s girls are also missing and Katie has asked Jane to find them and the ones who took them. There is also going to be a ‘Gather’ of vampires and Jane has to work security – and make sure that the hostiles at least do not get to do anything. The fact that the hostile vampires might have something to do with both Molly and Katie’s girls going missing – well, Jane does have the Younger brothers to figure out all angles.

The book is, as always, very well written. There is an excellent plot, which in classic Jane Yellowrock style, comes together at the end. There is also a lot of character development, in Jane, Eli, Evan, Molly, Angie Baby, Bruiser and even Leo. Katie too has changed. It was great to see how much the interactions have changed between these people since the first book. From the time when Jane saw each vampire as someone just about to go rabid to her actually trying to understand them.

It was also good to see Jane accepting her new ‘family’ and realizing that she really does have a family now and it is not going anywhere. No matter what. It may be ragtag, but it is hers and they are as fiercely loyal as she is.

Overall, another great addition to a series that keeps getting better with time. And again I start waiting for the next book 🙂 But Ms. Hunter can totally take her time, because the results are always worth the wait.

The Mob Doctor

Posted: February 28, 2013 by Arushi in TV Review
Tags: ,

The Mob Doctor - Poster

It took me around three days to finish the thirteen episodes of the first and only season of The Mob Doctor. It might  have something to do with the fact that I have not had much to do after work recently, or rather that I have not been reading as much as usual. Either way, here we are.

This show is a cross between a good medical show and a good mafia show and somehow it manages to be both. Not completely, or there would be more than one season, but it does do a decent job.

The pilot started with the protagonist telling us that the first time she ever saw a dead body, she was six. She was not scared. Fascinated, actually. That is Grace Devlin: someone who actually remembers the exact number of corpses she has seen till now, even though she happens to be a thoracic surgeon.

Slowly, bit by bit, the story unfolds. Grace is paying off her brother’s debt to Moretti by moonlighting as the organization’s doctor. She is happy to pull as many screw drivers out of skulls as she needs to, until she is asked to kill a key witness. There are some lines Grace refuses to cross. She is a healer, not a killer.

She places Moretti in the way of Constantine Alexander and he solves the problem for her. He is a man who has just stepped out of prison after 15 years. He is someone Grace knew as a child. He is a lot of things, but he is also an old school head of the organization. He offers Grace one out – leave Chicago or work for him. She stays.

Constantine is not Moretti. He has his own rules and he has a soft spot for Grace as well as the Devlin family. So the interconnected web of dependence, like, dislike, love and hate grows. Grace is good at what she does, and Constantine does give her a lot of leeway, but she still does not want to be a part of this world.

This show weaves together how hard juggling two separate worlds can be. Grace’s job demands all of her time, and yet she needs to be there every time Constantine calls. She has a boyfriend, a doctor like her but yet she also has to constantly deal with an ex, one she grew up with and one who is always looking out for her. Because someone has to.

There are so many contrasts here. Constantine is the father figure in the mafia, and he takes lives. Dr. White is the father figure in the hospital and he is the Chief of Surgery. Brett is the quiet, nice boyfriend who tries not to ask too many questions and Franco, while good, is not exactly the definition of quiet.

There is the dilemma of treating the victims of a car crash in the hospital and then treating the drunk driver who caused the crash in a bar. Grace cannot inform the police but she finds retribution in not fixing him up properly, because she does not think he deserves to live. At the same time, Constantine needs him alive and for a good reason, so she manages to eventually patch him up.

It was the contrasts, the contradictions and all the decisions that Grace has to make that kept me hooked. The politics of the mafia are nicely done and so are the politics of the hospital. Both are subtle and nuanced, until they’re not. And it is so much fun to watch it all unfold.

In a way the time management aspects, the juggling of different people in your life, the lies, the occasional truths: all of it, is not something particular to this show. A lot of this is universal for anyone trying to manage two full time jobs at the same time, or two separate relationships – not just romantic, but a sibling and spouse who do not get along. I am not quite sure I have ever suffered from being loyal to more than one person, but it was cool to see how human beings react to situations where they are being pulled in opposite directions.

I think what I found most attractive was how unassuming and quiet Grace is. She doesn’t do politics, anywhere. She is this quiet person who just gets the job done, no matter what that job may be. If it involves her holding a man’s chest open while riding a gurney with him, then so be it. It is that quiet confidence that makes her a good doctor. It would have had her succeed in the underworld too, except, she is not interested.

To say more would give away the plot. But the long and short of it is that this this a good show and definitely worth watching. Especially coz it all starts and ends in 13 packed episodes.

King of Thorns

You know one of those times when you’re absolutely starving (not really, but I’m sure you get the idea) and you eat/drink something for the first time? You know how it feels like a slice of heaven?

That slice of heaven was Prince of Thorns. I hoped and prayed that King of Thorns would be able to recreate that taste, and that was wrong of me. It was a different dish, though not entirely, and I was not starving anymore.

Still, King of Thorns, the second installment of the Broken Empire trilogy did not disappoint. The layout follows the pattern that was started by the first book. Two timelines, one now, and one from four years ago, with random information about the ‘Brothers’ spread out before chapters.

But more layers are added to this one. For one, throughout the book, Jorg is also reading Katherine ap Scorron’s journal. So that is a third perspective which is introduced and you know that he is reading it after everything that is happening in the book has already come to an end. That is, the start of the book, is also the end, yet the beginning is vague enough that you truly have no clue about what is going to happen next.

As if that were not enough, in the four years later part (called Wedding Day for obvious reasons) you also get information about four years ago because Jorg has sealed some of his memories in a box. So as they come out, you (and he) live them now, again.

It is a huge puzzle, being put together from many different directions, systematically, but in seemingly unrelated patterns until it all comes together and you can suddenly see the big picture. It just clicks.

I like those kind of movies, but not so much the shows and the books coz they tend to drive me crazy. This one managed to give just the right number of clues. So I had a good guess about what had happened, I just needed to know the how of it.

I had a grand time reading this book. Jorg was… different. I kept looking for the Prince I had just left behind in the previous book, and caught him in glimpses, but right until the end, he does not completely reveal himself. There is a reason for that, but then, there is a reason for everything.

Yet, even this different Jorg, has not lost his touch. The man he is becoming does think of the consequences unlike the past, but does it (whatever it may be) anyway because that is the way he is. Still, you have to admit, some maturity has sunk in:

““How old are you?”

I felt the Brothers stiffen. It can be annoying to always have the people around you think you’re going to murder everyone who looks at you wrong. 

“I’m old enough to play with fire,” I said.”

King Jorg is different than Prince Jorg, but still extremely intriguing. I cannot say more, without giving away a lot of spoilers, but one thing is for sure, the sheer defiance and pride that is a part of his personality is mesmerizing to watch, especially because he can take a joke. Mostly.

My expounding on the series, the books and Jorg are done. I do wonder how I would like this series a second time around and for that, I will probably give it another go before the third and final book comes out.