Our Moon has Blood Clots-Rahul Pandita

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This was not an easy book to read and it is certainly not easy to review. It isn’t a story which you read in your free time and forget about it. It is a personal memoir of the exile of Kashmiri Pandits-a Hindu minority in a Muslim majority Kashmir valley. It is the story of how systematically Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind, carrying with them only the hope that someday they will return back to their ancestral lands. In a matter of fact style, Rahul Pandita recounts the names of his pandit neighbors, family and friends who were forced to flee or killed or worse. It cannot have been easy to recount those terrifying days of childhood, but the author does it without any drama and fanfare. The recount of the cold January night in 1990 when the neighbourhood mosques start the anti-India and Azadi (freedom) slogans was terrifying to read. It is impossible to imagine the fear of the parents with 2 young children when they hear the mob outside their house shout out messages about turning Kashmir into Pakistan with the help of pandit women.

Ever line you read hits you, because these are not just random names you are reading on the page of a book; these are real people, names with faces who once had dreams and lives same as you; the lives that were snuffed or irrevocably changed in the name of religion and ethnic cleansing. No it is not an easy book to read, but it has to be read to realize that human beings are not really human. History has shown us that time and again, human beings will kill and maim each other at the slightest excuse. Sometimes for land, sometimes for god and sometimes for the power; the excuses change but the outcome doesn’t.

Like most refugees, the Pandits will also probably will never return back home; and if they do what will they return back to; terror and discrimination or peace?

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Hammered-Kevin Hearne

Hammered by Kevin Hearne is the third book in The Iron Druid Chronicles. The concept of an Irish Druid and all the related mythologies fascinated me when I started the first book Hounded. It was interesting enough that I immediately went ahead and read the second one Hexed. But somewhere by the time the second book ended, I lost my interest in the series. I picked up this third book Hammered just because I saw it in my Goodreads feed and wanted to give the series another shot.

Hammered starts right off the bat with Atticus’s crazy trip to Asgard. He somehow makes it back to Tempe but not before causing some serious damage. It seems like his thousands of years of quiet existence is about to end and nothing will be the same from here on. He has agreed to take Leif Helgarson to Asgard to get his revenge on Thor-thunder god. They meet up with additional powerful beings on the way, each one of whom has their own reasons for being on this crazy trip to kill the thunder god.

The story flows well enough and is very readable if you ignore the little incongruent details. I think there was no reason to include that scene with Jesus and the Hammer of God. Yes it was important to include that warning, but I am sure the author could have delivered it in a different way. I think that’s when it started to get a little too far fetched for me. It was pretty naïve for Atticus to think that all he was doing was helping Leif get to Asgard and that he wouldn’t be required to fight! I agree that he was doing was keeping his word to his friend, but his reactons seemed very naïve in most situations.

My favorite bits have always been Atticus’s conversations with Oberon and his interactions with Granuaile. It makes me wish I had a pet with whom I could communicate in private, how much fun would that be! I felt the action scenes were written well and the picture in my mind of Atticus wielding his sword makes me sigh happily! Overall the story flowed well enough to keep me entertained. The end of this book intrigued me enough to keep going with the series for now.

The thinking woman’s guide to real magic

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker, was a huge 500+ page book. Like the other readers have mentioned, it would have been good to have a sequel alert on this book.
It starts with Nora-a literature graduate whose life is in a bit of a mess- getting lost in the woods and stumbling into the Fairyland. The fairyland reads like an episode of “Once upon a time”. It has all the requisite characters; an evil fairy queen, beautiful but cruel prince, maybe somewhat nicer Fae and all the crazy magic. Nora is magicked into marrying the cruel prince so that the Fae can have heir. Somehow she realizes that not everything is hunky dory in her fairyland and gets rescued by a powerful magician Aruendiel. This magician brings her to his castle where she sweeps, cooks and does general housekeeping while Aruendiel continues to be rude and dismissive towards her. Eventually she starts to learn magic from him and follows him around on his missions. So obviously in between all that she falls for this rude, obnoxious, sexist, egotistic magician. She even makes him read “Pride and Prejudice”- she somehow finds her copy of the book in the magical world. In her defense, I guess she couldn’t help falling for her savior.
To make a 500+ pages long story short, Nora learns enough magic that she saves Aruendiel when he’s in trouble and figures out that he likes her as well.
My thoughts: this was a strictly ok read. It is a cliche of a naive girl falling for an experienced, rude 100 yr old man! Though how she falls for a guy who murders his pregnant wife for adultery is beyond me. Yes, it is written well, but needed some major edits. Especially the part where Aruendiel is talking about his past…wayyyy to long! I skipped over those parts, it was completely irrelevant to the story. But then the author has just skimmed over the parts when Nora starts learning magic. It’s like all of sudden she can do levitation spells and water spells and crazy algebra (she’s an English Lit grad!) If you want to read about magic, I am sure there are better books out there. I am not going to bother with the sequel

Instruments of Darkness

This is the first book in the Westerman and Crowther series by Imogen Robertson, set in 18th century England. It is a thrilling historical fiction about a country estate trying to protect its secrets at all costs and duo (Westerman and Crowther) determined to unearth every single one of them. It swings back and forth from London to Sussex county.

Mrs. Westerman is an unconventional mistress of Caveley estate and Mr. Crowther is a reclusive, brilliant anatomist in the village. The book begins with Mrs. Westerman discovering a dead body in her estate gardens and asking Mr. Crowther for help as an expert. Before the duo has had chance to investigate the first murder more bodies start piling up. At the same time in a small shop in London a man is killed leaving behind two orphans. Mrs. Westerman and Crowther are on a race against time trying to investigate the murders and prevent more people from dying.

Imogen Robertson has created a wonderful period drama. Her writing style is poetic and beautiful. Her writing fluidity is apparent when you read the suspense scenes. I have read many good authors who fumble when writing a fight or a thrilling scene. But Robertson has no such problem with her excellent command over her writing. She has also created two very good characters in Mrs. Westerman and Crowther. While Mrs. Westerman confused me initially, eventually I really liked the strong woman character that she has portrayed. The other characters of Michaels, Rachel, Bridges were also well written.

There are 4 more books in this series and I am going to start reading them all.

Look forward to more reviews!

The Tyrant’s Daughter

The Tyrant’s Daughter is an intense book of a royal family torn apart by the civil war in their country. As the title suggests the book is written in 15-year old Laila’s voice. Her family flees their home country in middle-east after the assassination of the “king”- her father. While living in exile in the US, Laila struggles with the differences between this land of plenty and her own oppressed home country. As she is trying to separate her new life from her old one, her past and present continue to collide in school and at home.

The author has a done a wonderful job with Laila’s character. A 15-year old coming to grips with her father’s deeds, struggling with an American lifestyle and trying to find a balance between the two colliding worlds; is expressed beautifully by J C Carleton. The side characters of Bastein, Emmy, Ian and Amir are also expressed quite well.  As an immigrant to US myself, I could identify with many aspects of societal behavior which are confusing to Laila.

Though I wish we could have known about Laila’s mother, there’s almost nothing to character except that she’s cunning, manipulative but loves her children and wants to be on the top. I did like the way it leaves Laila’s future life to the imagination of the readers. But I wish the author wouldn’t have ended all their problems so abruptly. All in all, I would recommend this book to someone who wants to read about the collateral damages of any war. It’s not the dead who suffer, it’s the living who continue to suffer during and after any kind of civil war. 

The Rosie Project

What is love? It could be when you break rules for someone without realizing it, or it could be when you just let your partner do what they want in the hope that they will come back to you someday, or it could be nothing of this sort and just be an indefinable emotion. Writing a love story is a simple enough fiction and a nerd falling for a beautiful girl isn’t a new plot, it has been done before countless times. But author Graeme Simsion has handled this love story subtly and in often comic ways in his sweet novel, “The Rosie Project”.  

The hero of the book is a text book description of a nerd right down to his exact minute. He seemed a bit like a combination of Sheldon and Leonard from “The Big Bang Theory”. He’s very different from others around him, and knows that he’s an ultra geek and he’s willing to change and shuffle his priorities a bit to find the right girl. Rosie on the other hand, is everything that our hero shouldn’t fall for, but nonetheless he does-in his own bumbling trampling way.

The story isn’t a surprise, you know how the book is going to end, and you still want to read it-that in my opinion is the hall mark of a well written book-when the author makes you want to read it, in spite of knowing the book. The Rosie Project offers no surprises, just sweet feel-good love story, which once in a while everyone needs to read and maybe believe in.