Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Partner - John Grisham: A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Partner

ISBN: 9780345531957

AUTHOR: John Grisham

GENRE: Legal thriller


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: In one of the trips to the local book shop, the descriptions of the book in its back cover drew me to add this to my collection. Now I have happily passed on the legacy.


          Danilo Silva is leading a seemingly quiet and calm life in the streets of a Brazil town. A man who has just enough money to get by and a girlfriend to his name, but someone who has crooks following him night and day and spending millions to search and locate him. The book opens with his search and capture.

          People torture him to reveal his past, because Danilo Silva is actually Patrick Lanigan who was a successful partner of a law firm. His crime? He escaped from his law firm after embezzling ninety million dollars. And he managed to do this by faking his own death.

          Four years earlier Patrick Lanigan wanted to escape from a bad marriage, scheming partners, and a less than satisfying life. He bid his time and planned to live a life most people only dream of. He spied on his own friends, partners and wife and engineered his escape in a spectacular car crash and a fire.

          But his past actions catch up, and Patrick is traced, chained and brought back home to USA as a criminal. Once home he hires a lawyer who was a classmate and feeds the information in bits and pieces to him, via his Brazilian girlfriend Eva Miranda. Even after all that he has done, Patrick hopes to escape because he knows what others do not know.

          The tale of his escape is given in such vivid detail and the book is a masterpiece in the legal thrillers genre. John Grisham proves that he is a master of twists in the few final pages of the novel, because whatever Patrick has, he can never get the one thing he thought he could have in his life.

WHAT I LIKED: Plot, scenes, characters.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: certain logic errors

VERDICT: A bittersweet legal saga.

RATING: 4.5/5


John Ray Grisham, Jr. (born February 8, 1955) is an American lawyer, politician, and author, best known for his popular legal thrillers.

          John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University Of Mississippi School Of Law in 1981 and practiced criminal law for about a decade. He also served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990. He began writing his first novel, A Time to Kill, in 1984, and it was published in June 1989.

          As of 2008, his books had sold over 250 million copies worldwide. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell two million copies on a first printing, the others being Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling

          Grisham's first bestseller was The Firm. Released in 1991, it sold more than seven million copies. The book was later adapted into a feature film in 1993, and a TV series in 2012 which "continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family 10 years after the events of the film and novel. Eight of his other novels have also been adapted into films: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, Skipping Christmas, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, and A Time to Kill. His books have been translated into 29 languages and published worldwide.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover

PRICE: Rs. 189 for kindle edition


Simply Unforgettable - Mary Balogh: A Review


BOOK TITLE: Simply Unforgettable

ISBN: 9780385338226

AUTHOR: Mary Balogh

GENRE: Romance


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A recommendation of a friend who passed on this legacy by giving me a handy paperback of this novel and insisted I read it, if not for the genre then at least for the words.


          Frances Allard, a school teacher spends the Christmas that year in her aunt's house. A contented lady who finds happiness in teaching students, Frances is shown to live a simple life. But the return journey from that house in a rickety carriage and a day spent stranded due to snow gives her memory to last a lifetime.

          Lucius Marshall, a noble man, finds himself at a predicament when his horse drawn carriage collides with that of a young lady and the weather forces them to share a place at a local inn. Heavy snowfall plays havoc in their travel plans and the two contrasting, unwilling people are put together by a quirk of fate.

          Both the lead characters find their predicament initially disgusting, then they accept it in a resigned abandon, and finally are undeniably attracted to each other, as was expected in a novel of this genre. But this novel does have its quirky moments like Frances teaching Lucius to peel potatoes and Lucius helping Frances to cart off snow. The book is more about the individual scenes rather than the whole plotline.

          Much like a typical romance novel, the intimacy between the lead characters builds up slowly; with making snow men and dancing together to finally reach the inevitable. But all this activities that can be given in a dry run are described in a way that will engross even those readers who are not fans of this genre.

          The story takes an ugly turn when reality bites and noble man Lucius declares that she must leave her job and come to live with him, without a real marriage proposal. This irks the self respect of the lady and she refuses to accompany him on his harebrained plan.

          They go their separate ways and neither finds life the same again. Though filled with other people and their own responsibilities, the couple could not forget each other. A twist in the story brings them closer together geographically and the couple decide they are made for each other if fate is pushing them so close. Finally, it is left to Lucius to come back in search of his beloved and win her hand legally in marriage.

          The usual light reads and poignant moments fill the book. If asked to write a gist of the story that filled the book, it would not even fill a few lines. But the author differs from others and captivates the reader in her portrayal of scenes, deep characters, and witty lines. At the end of the book, there are a lot of dialogues and scenes worthy of retelling and the story itself becomes unforgettable.

WHAT I LIKED: Powerful scenes, excellent dialogs, relatable concepts.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: A weak man meets woman story line, not much of a serious plot (but yeah, the genre itself is for the light hearted and weak kneed)

VERDICT: Credits to be given to the author for making a simple plotline 'simply unforgettable'.



Mary Balogh (rhymes with Kellogg, born Mary Jenkins on 24 March 1944 in Swansea, Wales) is a Welsh-Canadian historical romance novelist.

          Mary Jenkins was born and raised in Swansea, Wales, daughter of Mildred "Double", a homemaker, and Arthur Jenkins, a sign writer and painter. She moved to Canada on a two-year teaching contract in 1967 after leaving university. There, she met and married her Canadian husband Robert Balogh, a coroner and ambulance driver, and settled in the small prairie town of Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada. She taught high school English for a number of years, and rose to the level of school principal. She has three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian, and five grandchildren, Matthew, Shianne, Jayden, Cash, and Christo.

          As an adult, Balogh discovered the world of the historical romance as written by Georgette Heyer. The vast majority of Balogh's novels have been set in Regency or Georgian England or Wales. Although she writes historical romances, Mary Balogh's heroines are often not "ladies". Some are courtesans, illegitimate, "fallen" or "ruined" women. All enjoy passion, and often a marriage and/or a sensual connection precedes recognition of love.

Balogh began her writing career in 1983, when she wrote her first novel A Masked Deception in the evenings at the kitchen table while home and family functioned around her. A Masked Deception was accepted by Signet and published in 1985. Mary Balogh won the Romantic Times Award for best new Regency writer that year.

She is the author of more than 60 published novels and over 30 novellas and has met with critical success. She has received numerous awards, including a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Regency Short Stories in 1993 and has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.


EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook.

PRICE: $6.18 for Paperback


Not a penny more Not a penny less - Jeffery Archer: A Review


BOOK TITLE: Not a penny more, Not a penny less

ISBN: 9780773680180, 9781250052995, 9780006478720, 9780340223192

AUTHOR: Jeffery Archer

GENRE: Thriller


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This book needs no introduction, neither does the author. But the popularity of both led me to get the title in paperback and read this.


          Harvey Metcalfe, a scheming businessman, has the habit of riding the wave of business from stocks to shares and does not really bother about professional ethics. He soon becomes a millionaire and as is usual creates a new scheme for an oil rig and sells stocks for this phony business and hires people to advertise and market this scam. Four distinguished men fall for the trick and buy stocks of the company in large numbers. How they join hands and get their money back forms the rest of the story.

          Professor of Mathematics, Stephen, realises that he has been duped by a company and gets details of other such people who have been cheated. Though initially skittish, medical doctor Robin, art dealer Jean, and Earl James agree to form a plan to thwart one of the most criminal minded businessmen. Stephen becomes the brain behind the whole operation and plans ways for each of them to get back the money they had lost.

          Each of the distinguished men comes up with a plan that involves the other three of them. They play to their strengths and despite many errors and miscalculations and unwilling victim, they manage to get back their rights. Only the Earl is left without a plan though he becomes the heart and soul of the whole operation. Sir Archer places a twist right at the end that gobbles up all other plot twists and proves his mastery over both the profession and the language.

          The logic errors and plot holes in the story are over shadowed by the sheer brilliance of the whole conceived idea. Yes, there are certain questionable scenes but these will be ignored just because they add more speed to the already racy narrative. And with Sir Archer, there are certain allowances.

WHAT I LIKED: Racy plot, riveting scenes, interesting theories.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Questionable logic and unnecessary degrading of an initially threatening villain.

VERDICT: The plot is too good to give this a miss.  A must read for fans of this genre.

RATING: 4.5/5


Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician. Before becoming an author, Archer was a Member of Parliament (1969–74), but resigned over a financial scandal which left him almost bankrupt. Later, after a reversal in his fortunes from the royalties of his best-selling novels, he became deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–86) before resigning after another scandal, which would lead to the end of his career in elected office. He was made a life peer in 1992. His political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001–03) for perjury and perverting the course of justice, which followed his second resignation. His books have sold at least 250 million copies worldwide.

          His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was picked up by the literary agent Deborah Owen and published first in the US, then eventually in Britain in the autumn of 1976. The book was a success and Archer avoided bankruptcy. A BBC Television adaptation of the book was broadcast in 1990, and a radio adaptation was aired on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s.

          Kane and Abel proved to be his best-selling work, reaching number one on The New York Times bestsellers list. It was made into a television mini-series by CBS in 1985, starring Peter Strauss and Sam Neill. The following year, Granada TV screened a ten-part adaptation of another Archer bestseller, First Among Equals, which told the story of four men and their quest to become Prime Minister. In 1979, Archer purchased the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, a house associated with the poet Rupert Brooke. By now Archer was back in a comfortable financial position and began to hold shepherd's pie and Krug parties for prominent people at his London apartment, which overlooks the Houses of Parliament.


EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

PRICE: Rs. 189 for Kindle edition


Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Mind Readers - Lori Brighton : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Mind Readers


AUTHOR: Lori Brighton

GENRE: Young Adult/ Fantasy


FORMAT: Kindle e-book

SERIES / STANDALONE: The Mind Readers #1

REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This book was listed as a zero-cost kindle e-book. The YA genre interested me. Plus the element of Fantasy and unique theme warranted a read

REVIEW: The one line story of the book is a girl with mind reading powers and the difficulties she faces. But as much as it dampens expectations, the book does not. It is quite different from the usual fantasy/ supernatural story, and strangely refreshing. The story is a first person narrative of Cameron who could read the thoughts of other people around her. The thoughts are involuntarily forced into her mind and her gift is as much as a curse.

          Cameron is a lonely girl who uses her mind reading abilities to make friends, get good grades and in general just about everything in life. She tries to juggle her abilities and manage to keep it a secret. It proves to be a difficult task because hearing hidden thoughts of people is not always a good thing. But hanging around with her ‘best friend’, Cameron finds it frustrating that all girls her age get boys and think it perfectly okay to seduce men whom she fancies.

          Things take a strange turn in the normally quiet town is invaded by a gun yielding mad man who threatens to kill and rob enters the town. Soon another incident shocks the core of the town. An innocent school girl is murdered by a psycho and Cameron chances to hear his thoughts as he takes a strange satisfaction in committing that murder. In a third incident, a new boy named Lewis enters town and Cameron suspects him. Things soon take quite a turn and happen too fast.

          Events transpire fast and soon Cameron finds that the murderer is dating her best friend and when she tries to warn her friend, her cover is blown away and she is forced to leave town. She is startled when Lewis reveals startling information that he is a mind reader and there are others like him who are trained and guarded in a special place and he offers her refuge there. So Cameron decides to take up the chance and leaves her grandmother who raised her since her mother left her and goes off traipsing with Lewis.

          But once she reaches that place, things are, again, not what they seem and the protectors might as well be the violators, using her talents for their own purpose. And she finds children held in the special facility against their will, and the society holding men from a rival organisation captive. When things get out of hand, Cameron decides to leave but learns that she cannot leave until her memories are erased.

          How Cameron comes out of the predicament forms the rest of the story. In between the turmoil, she is also confused by her feelings of love towards Lewis. The narrative is smooth and soft, with no jarring edges and clean sentences. The emotions of guilt and the overwhelming feeling of uselessness that she feels are brought out brilliantly in the first few chapters. And the teenage angst felt by the protagonist is brought out well. But where the story falters is its casual handling of characters and the feel of planned and scripted scenes shows the author played them out in her head many times before penning them down. So much so the readers will suspect hidden meaning in every scene in the next books in the series.

          But what is most entertaining is the Harry Potter references in abundance throughout the book which will make any real fan laugh a lot. So a fitting end to this review would be to finish with one of the famous quotes of Joanne Rowling, “Only Muggles talk of "mind-reading". The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, Potter - or at least, most minds are.' He smirked. 'It is true, however, that those who have mastered Legilimency are able, under certain conditions, to delve into the minds of their victims and to interpret their findings correctly” – Severus Snape to Harry Potter, (Order of the Phoenix)


WHAT I LIKED: Good lucid storytelling, no over the top characters or fantastical scenes.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Too much of contemporary literary influence, already over abused story concept (not to blame the author).

VERDICT: Need to wait for the sequels to understand the story better.



As a child, thoughts of far-off places and adventure consistently kept Lori up late at night. After graduating high school, she came to the conclusion that there was no better way to seek adventure and nourish her love of history than to become an archaeologist. She went on to receive a degree in anthropology, but digging in the dirt during humid Midwestern summers wasn’t exactly as fun as she thought it would be.

Instead, she went to work in an air conditioned museum where she spent her days surrounded by creepy Victorian animal mounts. Still, she wasn’t satisfied.

Deciding the people in her imagination were slightly more exciting than the dead things in a museum basement, she set out to write her first romance novel. That book was soundly rejected, as was the next. Years went by and she began to wonder if she’d ever see her dream fulfilled. Until one day she came up with an idea for a book that brought together her love of history and adventure: a book now titled Wild Heart. Since Wild Heart's release, Lori has written Historical Romance, Contemporary Paranormal Romance and Young Adult.

Lori currently resides in the Southern U.S., where she juggles her time between a husband, a son, a golden retriever, a cat and the many, many people in her imagination



PRICE: Kindle edition is free.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Host - Stephenie Meyer: A Review



ISBN: 9780316218511

AUTHOR: Stephenie Meyer

GENRE: Science Fiction, Romance.


FORMAT: e-book


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A new book by a famous author initiated interest and therefore acquired this book.


Some authors write varied books and often when one has read their series books, one sort of gets into the groove and the characters. So it definitely is a new experience reading a standalone book by the same author. And it is a sweet surprise if the book turns out good. So with such mingled expectations, I started “The Host”.

          The book back cover has a riveting description and the story line has an advanced science fiction / alien invasion theme. The story describes how ‘souls’ of the origin planet travel to other planets by inserting themselves into the bodies of ‘hosts’. What happens when they inhabit advanced life forms like humans forms the rest of the story.

          The souls who had so far inhabited worlds with lesser life forms like plants and animals decide to inhabit the humans of the earth. The initial process goes without a glitch and the planet is by and large occupied by the souls. But a small part of humans realise what is happening and form a resistance. Before long, hosts discover that when a human body is prepared for this invasion, the mind will still regain control even after possession.

          The story is told in a first person narrative of a much experienced soul called as the ‘wanderer’ who inhabits the body of a young girl named ‘Melanie’. The experienced soul comes across much resistance from the host and finds the crisis of its life time. How the host and the soul correlate to find out the lost relatives of the host, how the soul convinces the host that all souls are for betterment of the world and how the host convinces the soul that whatever good the souls do the hosts wont like the presence of aliens forms the plot.

          In trademark Meyer style, the whole book is interlaced with the pains and pangs of love, the conflicts of interests between the soul and the body and whose love interest would finally be united is a suspense. The plot has no real villains and even one weak attempt at a villain has a justifying past. The concept of villainy is the story itself and not its characters. Even the alien invaders are depicted as benevolent minds that create a concept of no money and a free for all society.

          The souls justify their presence by a turning a world into a friendly non violent place, but however genuine the reasons are, no one likes oppression. The journey of the soul ‘wanderer’ and her interactions with her host across deserts following the clue of an enigmatic uncle of the host is a real page turner. The thrilling search for the lost humans and the kindred spirit that comes with fighting a common enemy is woven into an intricate tale. The characters are etched in the mind and the scenes portrayed are vivid.

          But where the story falters is its predictable end in spite of many twists and turns. And the typical feel good end without the tragic losses that will leave a permanent imprint in the minds of the readers is for those who like their stories where their favourite characters are definitely going to make it. But altogether, the host is a refreshing book and as a standalone story good for a one time read. For twilight fans, there are no memorable dialogues, as was expected anyway, no surprises there.

WHAT I LIKED: The new concept, the strong characters sketch, the realistic expressions and scenes, twists.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Predictable end, abstract and vague scenes, occasionally.

VERDICT: The book is heavy on totally new concepts, but has the trademark Meyer style of love at all corners of the world. Meyer fans will lap this one up.



Stephenie Meyer is an American young adult author and producer, best known for her vampire romance series Twilight. The Twilight novels have gained worldwide recognition and sold over 100 million copies, with translations into 37 different languages Meyer was the bestselling author of 2008 and 2009 in America, having sold over 29 million books in 2008, [and 26.5 million books in 2009. Twilight was the best-selling book of 2008 in US bookstores.

Meyer was ranked #49 on Time magazine's list of the "100 Most Influential People in 2008", and was included in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list of the world's most powerful celebrities in 2009, entering at #26. Her annual earnings exceeded $50 million. In 2010, Forbes ranked her as the #59 most powerful celebrities with annual earnings of $40 million.

In May 2008, Meyer's adult sci-fi novel The Host was released by the adult division of Little, Brown and Company. It follows the story of Melanie Strider and Wanderer, a young woman and an invading alien "soul," who are forced to work as one. The Host debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and remained on the list for 26 weeks. Meyer has said that she is working on additional books in The Host series and that she intends to write a trilogy, with the second and third books being called "The Soul" and "The Seeker", respectively. In a Q&A session in Kansas City, Meyer stated that she has outlines for the sequels and has done some writing on them, but she has some qualms since The Host universe is a "dangerous place" where characters might die, and she is not sure if she wants to kill them off.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook.

PRICE: Rs. 225