Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Second Lives of Honest Men by John Cameron : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The second lives of Honest men
ISBN: 9780993621505
AUTHOR: John R. Cameron
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Digital
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We got a copy for review purposes.
          On the evening of April 14th, 1865, a flawless duplicate replaced the 16th President an instant prior to his assassination. Two centuries later, Honest Abe opened his eyes to a world in desperate need of guidance.
          THE SECOND LIVES OF HONEST MEN is a prescient vision of where society's dependence on technology could be taking us. It's a character driven story about love, redemption, and hope, with deep philosophical underpinnings related to how we think, feel, and reason in a world where it's ironically easy to feel disconnected
          The Second Lives of Honest Men is a different kind of book. The concept is new, the story line is new and the presentation is also new. The story is unique in a few aspects. First and foremost being the idea of going back in time and bringing a person from the past into the future to solve the current problems. What happens when the most popular honest man in America’s history, a man better known as ‘Honest Abe’ comes into the future and witnesses the country at its worst?
          The United States of America is under the influence of a corporate vested interest, known as ‘The Company’ that controls people using an augmented reality device called as ‘the interface’. People of the nation are forced to wear the lenses that transmit images, videos and music online, keeping them thoroughly, mindlessly entertained. The population gets used to the numbing entertainment and is lost to the age where every communication is online and easily monitored by The Company.
          In this era, lives an old professor, Jacob Wentworth, who detests the whole concept of interface and refuses to live with it. But he deems himself powerless to fight with the Company and rather lives a resigned life until he sees in Bryce Trent, a student of great capabilities. Bryce Trent is slowly drawn into the professor’s philosophies and gets his own moment of reckoning when he decides to fight the mind numbing interface and destroy what he himself was one of the reasons for creating.
          On the other hand, the power mongers try to suppress this group and ensure that their smooth functioning is not hampered. In a race against time, the professor, his student and an young intern doctor join hands and hatch a plan to overthrow the autocratic Company. If and how they do it forms the rest of the story.
          The summary of the book sounded promising, and the book was only half as much. There are a few gaping logic holes that might have been avoided but since both the story and the premise are new to us, the author is allowed certain liberties in logic. Next comes the continuity, and here are a few noticeable jumps, but none too big to hamper the smooth narrative. The plot makes one conscious of the banes of exponentially growing technology and can be considered an eye opener in modern times, where caution must be exercised in handling technology.
          Sometimes, the book does make one wish that the brave leaders of the past were alive today to lead us into a better, clearer, more positive future environment. Read this book if you want your mind befuddled by how the reach of technology might affect the human populace in the coming years!
WHAT I LIKED: the new premise of the story and the nice concept of bringing back from the past!
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Certain logic and continuation errors could have been smoothed over!
VERDICT: go for it as a breath of fresh air from the run of the mill books!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (In his own words)
          My family often drives me to the brink of madness; not a difficult thing to do, considering how close to the edge I already am. My daughter is a hellion. At the age of five, she’s both bright and bold, obstinate, and pushes every button I have. My wife blames my genetics: “I was never like that,” she claims. I deny it, despite knowing that I was also an uncontrollable child.

          I’m a teacher, but I consider myself a modern philosopher. I’m very worried about the current state of education. I’m concerned about the future, in general. I don’t think we all necessarily need to be alarmists, though I do believe that if you look at the world around you and aren’t a little worried, you and I probably aren’t going to agree on much. (I’ll pretend not to look while you navigate elsewhere. There’s plenty of other entertainment on-line. Crushing Candy, and so forth…)
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback/Digital/Kindle
PRICE: Rs. 995 for paperback, Rs. 49 for kindle

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Prophecy of Trivine : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Prophecy of Trivine
ISBN: 9789380619705
AUTHOR:  Tnahsin Garg, Srivatsan Sridharan, Pulkit Gupta
GENRE: Fiction/Sci-Fi
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: One of the authors contacted us via goodreads and sent us both review copies. We thank him for it.
          An emissary of an advanced alien race travels to the Earth to undertake responsibility of an experiment that has gone out of control. The outcome of this fateful experiment, which was conceived millions of years ago by her species, now rests in her hands. As she prepares to deliver her final judgment, she comes across three young men in a sacred forest who change her life forever.

          These three men- a scientist, a hacker and an artist, happen to take refuge in that forest, trying to escape from the oddities of their own unfair lives. Struggling with their dreams and demons, they begin to explore the dark and paranormal behavior of the forest by forging a companionship. From the rare flora and fauna breathing alive on the ground to the deadly wide expanse of the whimsy black sky, everything they find is yet another puzzle unsolved.

          Little did they know that four of them hold in their hands the future of mankind and much beyond imagination, they are connected through an ancient Prophecy that was long lost in the sands of time
          A sci-fi novel, if written well, always interests me as a reader. They are mostly ‘make or break’ books. They are either good, or they are bad, there is no middle spectrum. The prophecy of Trivine is, thankfully, good. The characters are well written, the language is good, the concept is new and agreeable.
          An advanced alien race that has created life on our earth as project Solar Azure, decides that life must be terminated because humans have become so selfish and retarded as a race. But the stewardess of the project, who sowed the seeds of life on earth, is opposed to this idea and wants to give another chance to the earthlings.
          She herself descends to the earth and lives among the humans silently watching them. But none of this is visible in the first few pages of the story. The story starts with Philip Mascarenhas who is on the run from the police who reaches the forest to escape and runs into Siv, a reclusive scientist. They strike a friendship that is unique. Under different circumstances, they meet Arty, an artist who is an introvert. It is with surprised amusement that the alien who pitted them together watches their progress.
          Though each man has his own secret agenda, they co exist amicably. But one day, Phil happens to come across the eternal’s bracelet and takes it away. This forces the alien to assume a human form and come to their dwelling to take it away. Though she repeatedly wrecks their lives and work, the three men work together through it. What happens when the alien realises that humans, as a race have more compassion than they are credited for, and how their lives are entwined forms the rest of the story.
          The story is clearly written, and the plot is not too tight. The story’s build up is good, and the scenes are clearly written. The screenplay is also good, but where the story falters is, for all the story construction, the ending feels like a letdown. The ending seems like a really sudden, anti climatic end that the reader was left searching for some more pages of the story. It maybe the first of a series, but there still must be a closure for every book. And some side stories feel amateurish, and can only be best felt when the book is read through.
WHAT I LIKED: The concept, the story, the language and the characters with their flaws and feels.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The ending could have been brushed up, some episodes seem almost like pieces of patronizing advice and could be rephrased.
VERDICT: Go for it, if you want to read a sci-fi story set in modern world that has relatable explanations for what is happening in our world right now.
RATING: 3.9/5
Tnahsin Garg
          Tnahsin was born and brought up in Chandigarh, India where he got a Bachelor's degree in engineering. After that he travelled to United States in search of higher education and adventure, and ended up getting a Master's degree. Currently, he's pursuing a PhD in applied sciences from northern Europe.

          All this while, he has been reading and writing prose and poetry. His first book, of sci-fi/fantasy genre, co-authored with two friends, is titled 'The Prophecy of Trivine'.
          Reading to him is an act of liberation. It helps him in writing, when he chains himself up in words.
Srivatsan Sridharan
          Srivatsan hails from the southern part of India, but has spent a large chunk of his youth in the nation's capital. He studied Computer Science at Thapar University in Punjab and then went on to earn a Masters at Purdue University in the United States. "The Prophecy of Trivine" is his debut sci-fi/fantasy novel that he co-authored with two friends.
          When he's not writing or reading fiction and narrative non-fiction, he can usually be found at his computer, hammering away at his keyboard in his so-called attempt to engineer "revolutionary" software.
          Srivatsan currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.
Pulkit Gupta
          Pulkit is currently living and working in Bangalore, India. He has been writing (or attempting to write) since the age of 9, when he tried to write his first novel. "The Prophecy of Trivine" is his first book, a collaborative Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel released in December 2013.

          He maintains a number of blogs which are in various stages of decay, but some of his poems and short stories can be found on his website (linked to this profile).

PRICE: Rs. 200

Book Tour : Cutlass Anne By H.L.Wampler

Displaying Tour Banner - Cutlass Anne.jpg

H. L. Wampler, a Pittsburgher all her life, has been pushing her way toward the publishing dream for the past five years while raising her twin boys. She also blogs as The Pittsburgh Housewife and contributes to Pittsburgh Sporting News during hockey season.

A bit about Cutlass Anne:

After setting out to save her sister, Anne Crowley finds herself face-to-face with the notorious John Jacks, the son of a ruthless pirate captain. John Jacks thwarts Anne’s every move yet she finds herself attracted to the infuriating pirate. Determined to find her sister, and resist the charming John Jacks, Anne and her band of pirates must search the high seas for clues to finding her missing sister before she’s lost forever.

Wampler is available for interviews and appearances. For booking presentations, media appearances, interviews, and/or book-signings contact

“This is where you’ll be sleeping,” Flynn said, pushing open a small door. 
I peeked inside and was taken aback. The room was no bigger than a closet. The bed was nothing more than a cot with a pathetic little mattress on one side of the room and a miniature writing desk in front of a tiny window. It was dark, drab, and nothing like my room at home. I suddenly had second thoughts about what I was doing.
“Disappointed?” Flynn asked.
“No, it’s fine,” I lied. I was a cabin boy now; I could not expect the luxuries of a governor’s daughter any longer. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make in my journey to find Jane.

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Sita's Curse by Sreemoyee Piu Kundu : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Sita's Curse : The Language of Desire
ISBN: 9789350097809
AUTHOR: Sreemoyee Piu Kundu
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This review is a part of Readers’ Cosmos review program.
Somewhere, behind closed doors, in her solitary world; somewhere, under the sheets with an indifferent lover; Somewhere, is a woman who will not be denied. Trapped for fifteen years in the stranglehold of a dead marriage and soulless household domesticity, the beautiful, full-bodied and passionate Meera Patel depends on her memories and her flights of fancy to soothe the aches that wrack her body; to quieten an unquenchable need. Until one cataclysmic day in Mumbai, when she finally breaks free... Bold, brazen and defiant, Sitas Curse looks at the hypocrisy of Indian society and tells the compelling story of a middle-class Indian housewife’s urgent need for love, respect, acceptance and sexual fulfillment
          We got this book as a part of Readers Cosmos review program. The title sounded enticing and somehow connected to mythology. But the book is actually erotic fiction, based on real people. Much as we would like to remind ourselves that we don’t do erotica reviews, this one slipped by the gauntlet due to its title and celebrated author.
          Up front, the book is a first person narrative of Meera Patel, who is a lonely woman. Married at 17 to a man previously unknown (Arranged Marriage) she imagines her life to be one of fulfilment and marital bliss. Learning to enhance her sensuality from the tender age of puberty, Meera is a really expectant, imaginative girl /woman.
          But harsh realities strike in and she finds that life is not always about pleasure and therefore turns to other avenues, looking for satisfaction. An absent, uncaring husband, in laws eliciting various emotions from her, makes Meera go in search of something, anything, to satisfy her life. She goes in search of a swamiji, only to realise that he is a pervert. In search of herself, Meera tries to find outlets for all her frustration, sinking to the level of logging into escort sites that provide her with yousuf, an enigmatic man who changes her life.
          Meera’s trajectory follows the notorious Mumbai floods, which changes the life of many, irrevocably, Meera’s turmoil lost in the millions. Giving away any more details would be to give away the plot, so the story review ends here. But though the plot’s uniqueness is laudable, the story does leave a bad after taste of explicit scenes. Understood that the erotica genre has to have certain scenes in detail, but there is a fine line between exciting and nauseating (I am a fan of neither. Certain things are best left unsaid. This comment is only for allowing the features of the genre the book claims to belong to).
          The plot revolves around a lonely woman searching for an outlet for her frustration. The scene description and writing (though the author’s flair for language is pretty good) makes the reader squirm, evoking nothing positive in the minds of the reader. The author claims that this is based on a real life woman who affected her and to some extent, this is believable. But the book makes the reader flip certain pages to graze over the ‘detailed description’ parts.
          The author, while trying to portray the struggles of a quintessential Indian housewife, has overdone the bits and pieces. The book, though touted as a self discovery journey, should have had other well defined characters than the lead alone. The book is, in one word, the journey of a woman as she tries to find love in sex. It is bold, it chides the hypocrisy, it portrays the struggles of a frustrated woman. But it is far from reality.
WHAT I LIKED: The language, the construct.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: No more comments to be said on the detailed description part of the book. And then there is the inclusion of vernacular words. A few words for nativity are okay. But whole chapters named in regional languages is a definite no.
VERDICT: If you like erotica, and if you want to read to get an insight into the bedroom struggles of a woman who might be your next door neighbour, go for this!
RATING: 2.5/5 (there is no other story except Meera and her frustration. This is the reason for the medium rating).
PRICE: Rs. 265 for paperback

This review is part of Readers' cosmos review program.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Old Man and The Nymph by Vipin Behari Goyal : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Old Man and the Nymph
AUTHOR: Vipin Behari Goyal
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
          We got this review copy from Blackbuck publishers
          The book is based on Greek Mythology which describes four types of nymphs. These are the nymphs of water, clouds, plants and underworld. Incarnated as beautiful nubile girls who were full of passions each of them enticed old man to satisfy their sensual desires. They loved to laugh, dance and had fun in breaking the rules of the society of mortals. What happened when the three of them met with Colonel under the same roof? One of them had escaped from Colonel in her past birth and had gone underworld. What would she do now? A strange story set in Indian context.
          Straight out, this review is actually going to be a rant. The Old Man and The Nymph has nothing, literally nothing, that it said in the summary except the nymphs enticing the old man to satisfy the sensual desires. It had been 190 pages of pure torture written in crude, explicit language that made readers cringe. The writing of the ‘sensual’ parts is, at best, crass.
          The writing is dismal, the plot even more so. Any reader familiar with Greek Mythology will fume at the injustice. There is nothing regarding Greek mythology in this book except the word ‘nymph’… You aren’t even sure who the nymphs are, or what their qualities are. Come on, who is the cloud nymph, who is the water nymph, the earth nymph, etc? The book made me take out my curly hair in clumps when I read it through.
          Except for writing about beautiful young girls seducing old men, what else has the author written about? Hmmm, let us see… tata daaaa… nothing. It seems like the author had no idea what to write about and he chose dreamy locations and some other such exotic components. But please, don’t damage the dreamy fantasy story of nymphs. When better books are being written about such characters, this sticks out like a sore thumb.
          The storyline is so incoherent that I even lost my sense of language and sarcasm. I am, in short, wordless to describe it. The story is about paedophilic old men who take advantage of young women (aided and abetted by their wives! Every ‘woman’ in this story helps her husband carnally abuse little girl children – It is sad that Indian women have been portrayed like this). One ‘nymph’ is killed, one is smart enough to come out of the grasp, even though she almost slips, and one nymph does not get enough of men. Agreed that the character of nymphs has not always been chaste in all books. But this is one bit too much. All through the story, (written in five parts – that have, incidentally, no connection with each other, and are like confused recollections like REM dreams) the ‘nymphs’ behave totally un-Greek like. They are neither Indian, nor Greek.
          The plot is non existent, the characters are badly written, the story is nauseating, the language is abysmal. This is one classic case of being fooled by the summary and the book cover. Please give this book a miss, you will not lose anything. Read this book and you will lose your idea of fantastic characters like nymphs and Greek mythology in general.
          Blackbuck publishers have given us some fantastic books so far (some titles have been reviewed by Readers’ Muse too) but this one is a major disappointment. You could have done better, blackbuck! Am going to read one of your better titles now again!

WHAT I LIKED: Nope, not a thing. Except maybe the fact that the author didn’t extend this piece by a few more rambling pages.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The author could have presented the story for what it was, old men seducing young women irrespective of their reciprocation. There was no need to drag ‘Greek mythology in Indian perspective’ into this.

VERDICT: Give this a miss. Take it from a fellow sufferer.

RATING: 1/5 (because no matter what, the author has taken time to write 200 pages worth of content.)


PRICE: Rs. 140 for Paperback.