Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Strawberry Wine by Lee Adams

Title : Strawberry Wine
Author : Lee Adams
Publisher : Brandylane Publishers, Inc. (October, 2012)
Pages : 218
Genre : Chick Lit
My Rating : 7/10
Reviewed For : Chicklit Club


Ten years have passed since Tanya Smith's last summer at Laurel Lake-the summer of Marie. Today Tanya is a confident, successful music promoter-a far cry from the naïve seventeen-year-old who showed up at the lake full of rosy notions of first love, lifelong friendships, and evenings spent sipping strawberry wine on the shore. That September changed everything, and as far as Tanya is concerned, there's no going back. That is, until a mysterious phone call from Marie's lawyer brings Tanya face to face with the past. Suddenly she finds herself returning to Laurel Lake and to everything she left behind there. Will the dark secret that haunts the lake break her heart all over again? Or will Marie's legacy be the key that unlocks the future Tanya gave up on ten long years ago?

My Review:

They say that in order to hold something close to your heart and cherish it for a lifetime, you must lose it first ... that to come back together forever, true love must first break apart...

Tanya Smith, 27, has carved out a successful life as a music promoter in New York. One day she gets a call which immediately transports her to a summer 10 years back, to a time when she met Marie. Tanya would always spend her summers at Laurel Lake with her family. The place was like a second home to her. During one summer, Marie stumbled into her life. From finding confidantes in one another and sipping strawberry wine on the beach to betrayal, heartbreak and a horrible incident, that summer turned out to be the best and yet the worst for both of them. Needless to say it was their last summer at Laurel Lake. Now 10 years later, a phone call drags Tanya back to Laurel Lake and she learns that there exists a link between her and Marie. And now Tanya has to return not only to pick up the pieces of her heart and Marie's life but also to bind them together.

This is a sweet and refreshing read where the story flows seamlessly between the past and present. A point worth mentioning is that the author has drawn on her experience as an organ donor in this book and has portrayed the account of organ donation in an honest yet tender way. It showcases how giving in this instance can be so fulfilling that it fills up the gaps of your life with love and makes you whole again!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Bankster by Ravi Subramanian

Title : The Bankster
Author : Ravi Subramanian
Genre : Mystery, Thriller
Publisher : Rupa Publications
Pages : 364
My Rating : 8.5/10
Reviewed For : Blogadda


Bankers build their careers on trust, or so everyone thinks, till a series of murders threaten to destroy the reputation that the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) has built over the years. Who is behind these killings, and what is their motive? Is the banker at GB2 fast turning into a bankster? Or he was always one?

When Karan Panjabi, press reporter and ex-banker, digs deeper, he realizes that he has stumbled upon a global conspiracy with far reaching ramifications a secret that could not only destroy the bank but also cast a shadow on the entire nation. With only thirty-six hours at his disposal, he must fight the clock and trust no one if he is to stay alive and uncover the truth.

Spinning an intricate web of lies, deceit and treachery, bestselling author Ravi Subramanian, a master storyteller of financial crime and winner of the Golden Quill Readers Choice Award, returns with his most gripping thriller yet.

My review:

Well, to start with this is my first review for Blogadda & when I received a signed copy for review I was absolutely chuffed!! Tearing open the cover (literally!), the first thing that jumped out to me was the cover of this book. It’s throws off an uber sinister vibe depicting our “Bankster” with a briefcase in one hand & a pistol in another standing at what appears to be our own Mumbai’s Queen’s Necklace & with a plane rushing out in the skyline.

Moving on to the author, with three best selling thrillers on banking already in his kitty, Ravi Subramanian continues to keep the readers on the very edge with this Bank lore. To be honest, I have never read Ravi Subramanian before so I did not know what cracker of a plot was awaiting me!! But now after reading this financial thriller, I intend to visit each of his reads...

So the plot kick offs in Angola where a covert CIA agent seals off an arms deal in lieu of blood diamonds. The author then takes us to an episode in the past in Kerala where a resort owner is falsely accused of a crime that he has not committed. Laying down these two brief but essential blocks, the author steers the plot to his home ground – yes you guessed it right!! – The Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) in Mumbai. At GB2, the author acquaints us not only with the power games (which turn as twisted as the plot proceeds) but also with a sundry of characters. With people in power trying to usurp even more power by manoeuvring each possible opportunity for their own gain while heady & young Relationship Managers trying to climb their way up the corporate ladder by any possible means, GB2 is fast becoming a breeding ground for rivalry & competitions. However, the “who wins it-who loses it” mood at the bank is hampered by a series of murders & it’s long before someone really starts connecting the dots & voila!! A pattern emerges. This is when, Karan Punjabi – the ex-banker, who is now the Financial Editor at The Times of India, steps in & opens up the Pandora’s Box as he unearths the real reasons for the death of GB2 employees.

So basically we have three plots, one with a CIA agent whose work is to strike deals for his agency. Second plot revolves around an aging man’s lone struggle in Devikulum, Kerala against the government. After the horrors of Chernobyl (Russia) & Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Japan), Krishna Menon wants the government to come clean on the environmental impacts of a Nuclear Plant set up in Kerala & the measures taken to avoid history repeating in India!! Thirdly, we have the carnage going on at GB2 which, on the face of it, are deemed as suicides. Do you get a connection???? Of course, you didn’t & you aren’t even supposed to & neither did I!! But you have to hand it down to the author for not only weaving these three seemingly disjointed plots together seamlessly but also doing so with an edge. However, the absolute smasher of a plot is written in the last 75 pages of this book, where the hunter becomes the hunted & it is revealed who indeed holds the strings!!

The plot is spanned across diverse locales – from Angola to Kerala to Mumbai to Vienna – and as you dart from one locus to another, you will experience what is known as a rollercoaster of a ride!! Also, each character in the plot is relatable, since the author brings out the most basic human instincts through them. Greed for more power, backstabbing, envy, moral bankruptcy - just to name a few!! The plot can be compared to a big game of chess where you don’t know who is a pawn & who is the king till the end!!

Fortunately I received this book on a Friday & before I knew it I was done with over the weekend!! I never realised how I breezed past the bulk of the book!! And I can say that for non bankers like me, the author provides an interesting insight into the banking world - all neatly packaged & beautifully presented replete with its corporate twists & turns where loyalties keep changing every second. The only point that did not go well with me was that at the end not all the characters were given the right attention which left me kind of unsatiated. But other than that, this book is a Total Blockbuster..oops...a “Bankbuster”...
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Trade Winds to Meluhha by Vasant Dave

Title : Trade Winds to Meluhha
Author : Vasant Dave
Publisher : Vasant Dave (Self Published)
Pages : 329
Genre : Historical Fiction
My Rating : 7.5/10
Reviewed For : Author (http://vasantdave.weebly.com/index.html)


My Review:

From the outset, the one aspect that I found most striking about this novel while reading it was that it was a well researched work. The author has taken the backdrop of a prehistoric setting and used the archaeological evidence available whilst donning a creative cap to paint a story that keeps the reader intrigued. In 1977, an explorer -Thor Heyerdahl undertook a voyage in reed-boat named 'Tigris'. He sailed from Iraq (Mesopotamia) via Oman (Magan) to Pakistan (Indus Valley). The author has started from this point of fact and has worked towards a plot that is fiction. I did not pay attention to the minute technical details since I feel that once you start getting absorbed in the story, these things tend to take a background.

Trade winds to Meluhha is based in the Bronze Age, with the plot spanning across a wide geographical spread  but majorly revolving in Sumeria (Mesopotamia) and Meluhha (Indus Valley). The plot kick starts with a young stable boy Samasin who is falsely accused of murder of a Meluhhan tradesman & then the plot charts Samasin’s adventuristic voyage and his metamorphosis from an innocent boy to a street-smart man. In addition to the adventures, the plot is interspiced with mystery, romance, revenge, heart-break and black market activities. The author has included a map, too, for the reader’s ready reference!!


Samasin works as a stable boy to a wealthy Babylonian named Nergal. On an unfortunate day when Samasin receives a reward for his year long services to the royal family, he also stands witness to the murder of a Meluhhan tradesman. Before dying in Samasin’s lap, the tradesman from the strange land (Meluhha) gives Samasin a bronze fish hook & utters the name “Siwa Saqra” along with a stranger message(in foreign language). This triggers off a chain of events, at the epicentre of which Samasin is sucked like a lone piece of leaf in a hurricane. Samasin, whose only fault was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, is falsely accused in the murder of the foreign trader & is captured by Sumerian authorities. However, he manages to escape due to twin unique astronomical events (these events have actually happened in real!!!). After escaping, Samasin sets off on a voyage in search of the elusive Siwa Saqra armed only with the parting relic given to him by the dying man. In his conquest, Samasin is helped by Nergal’s ex-wife-Elati & Captain of a Meluhhan ship – Paravar to escape from Sumeria. During his voyage, he comes across a damoiselle – Velli with whom Samasin falls heads over heels in love at the first sight but the emotion is not reciprocated!! Also along the road, he stumbles across Anu – a Mesopotamian woman with a concealed identity & greater hidden purpose. Samasin has an interesting quest with lots of twists & turns where he falls in love, deals with bandits, goes on treasure hunt, combats with pythons but inspite of all this, Samasin doesn’t give up on his original search for Siwa Saqra.
The author has filled the plot with motley of people. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed by the vast array of characters but as the plot advanced, I realised that each & every character is important. While reading, I could not help but think of these characters as pawns in the game of chess, however, powerful or insignificant each one is, ultimately they all serve the same purpose of defeating the antagonist!! Also, what I found really helpful was that the author has provided links to each character’s name which leads to an appendix where the character is briefly described.

Another major highlight was the subplots. As I said earlier, there are a lot of characters & each has his/her own story. However, in the end I found that each such story / subplot is like a piece in a big jigsaw puzzle. These subplots are interwoven seamlessly into each other & in the end we finally unravel the main big picture. Also, these characters are relatable in their traits & actions!

The only thing that held me back was the slow pace of the novel. I guess that was essential since Samasin’s voyage takes him through different locales & he interacts with different people but it could have a bit more on the edge. However, it cannot be denied that the author has spun a gripping fictional tale yet taking a meticulous effort at being authentic to the period. As a debut work & so much effort, the author definitely deserves kudos.
About the Author:

Vasant Davé was born in Kenya to immigrant parents from India. He was schooled there under teachers coming from all the races living in East Africa during British rule. He passed Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Bombay and served for 24 years in companies manufacturing electrical and electronic capital goods. For another 8 years, he took up industrial market research contracts from consultants based in Singapore and Hong Kong. He conducted face-to-face and telephonic surveys in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh for multinational end-users such as Siemens, BASF, Henkel, Dow Chemical, AkzoNobel and Linde. His work in Industrial Market Research often took him to remote parts of the country where he could visit nearby archaeological sites too.

His interest in the ancient past of the sub-continent led him to write a historical novel after retirement in 2008. His technical background helped him to understand and apply historical, geographical, environmental and cultural nuances bearing upon the life during 3rd millennium BC, the period in which Trade winds to Meluhha is set.


Monday, 5 November 2012

It's time to rock & roll...

Hello everyone!!!

It's been quite some time (more than a month, to be precise!) since I have blogged. For those who have gone blue in the face holding their breath, waiting for my next post (though I am sure there would be hardly anyone doing that),sincere apologies!! So yes, in between checking out my regular blogs and watching in envy as people religiously blogged daily, weekly or fortnightly & staring at my own blog so hard and willing for some miracle to happen & a post to emerge magically on its own (I was always a fan of Harry Potter!) & oh!! Did I mention the usual mind numbing & exhausting stuff on my plate?? , yes my dear friend, in between all of that I did manage to read some awesome books...yayyyyyyyy!!!!
So with Diwali just around the corner let the festivities begin!!!! So, ladies & gentlemen, get ready...some awesome reviews coming right up!! :-)