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Thread: Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction

  1. #51
    Senior Member Veteran Hubber baroque's Avatar
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    Fun and enjoyable

    The Lost Gate...Orson Scott Card

    Westilians are from the planet Westil.

    they were very powerful Gods of ( multiple deities ) polytheistic society(Greeks, Hindus, etc...).

    Few families of them live in Earth (Mittlegard) now.

    Loki, was the last gatemage from North family.

    Gatemage can create tunnels, gates between the two worlds. The mightiest of powers , magic gathered from other place could only be sustained by frequent passages back and forth though this GREAT GATES.

    But Loki closed all the Great Gates.

    Now without access to the gates, Westilians of Earth are diminishing in their power.

    The Great Gates had been what turned the mages of Westil into Gods when they came to the Mittlegard(Earth).

    Now, these families live like ordinary folks, and isolate themselves because of the inexplicable act of Loki.

    They don't want another gatemage like Loki in North family.
    They have an agreement to kill if there is a new Gatemage 'new loki' born to them.

    Our Danny North's story..

    Danny North's family was one of the Gods, live in the isolated area of western Virginia far from schools, other regular community.

    He, his cousins, uncles and aunts lived under his dad's leadership.

    When Danny grows up, all his cousins, uncles, aunts can do magic, they all have some special talents.

    But Danny did not have any.

    All he can do is learn from books and run fast.

    Yeah... Danny can sure run fast.

    In fact Danny runs fast outside their North compound to the areas of drowthers(ordinary Earth folks- have no magic powers) to get away from his bully cousins.

    Soon Danny realized how he is able to go past the compound.. yeah, our weak Danny is a GATEMAGE. He is not just a North family kid without special gifts.

    He is not a poor pathetic Danny anymore. He is not a drekka.

    He is POWERFUL mage of rarest kind.

    All these years his cousins bullied him, the time he finds out he rather powerful mage of rarest kind, he is not jumping with triumph, instead he is afraid.
    He can't go home.

    If they find out he is Gatemage, 'new Loki' emerged from North family, they will kill him.

    So what will our Danny do?

    Danny decided to flee his compound and self teach and learn to know and control his powers in drowther's part of the world among drowthers.(us..magic less folks of earth)
    How does Danny do now?
    Does he learn to master his gifts, learn to control them?

    His trips to library, school at a regular American society and his tricks, snobbish attitudes ,learning and understanding of our regular folks lives are very enjoyable.

    Above all, does he learn to create THE GREAT GATE between the worlds?

    There is a second story, fantasy on the planet Westil.
    A mysterious boy born out of the tree.
    He showed up into the palace kitchen of kingdom Iceway.
    He showed up at a time kingdom is going through turmoil, resentment and distrust.

    Wise guy comments, petty thefts , his life out on the streets of America, I have fun with Danny.

    Wad's part is full of love, hardships , deception, murder , loyalty, heartbreak in the other planet.

    I enjoyed reading both the stories.
    At the very end both the plots come together.

    THE LOST GATE BY ORSON SCOTT and enjoyable read.
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    Last edited by baroque; 26th June 2011 at 12:07 PM.

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  3. #52
    Senior Member Veteran Hubber baroque's Avatar
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    UNPUTDOWNABLE .....31 bond street by ELLEN HORAN

    UNPUTDOWNABLE .....31 bond street by ELLEN HORAN

    SPELLBINDING WORK with gorgeous black and white images.

    31 bond street - Historical crime drama includes murder, greed, corruption, politics, court investigation set in 1859 New York.




    A famous dentist Dr.Harvey Burdell murdered in 1857, New York City.

    Emma Cunningham is a widow, lived with her two daughters in his residence.

    One morning, 11 yrs old errand boy found his master Dr.Harvey Burdell's body brutally murdered in his bedroom.

    Thus the novel starts about the trial of Emma Cunningham accused for the murder.

    Hendry Clinton is a prominent advocate represents Emma Cunningham.

    In spite of his wifeís displeasure against him taking the case and his senior partner James Armstrong threatening to cut his partnership in his law firm, Hendry Clinton represented Emma Cunningham.

    The 11 yrs old John becomes his only ally, gathering info for Hendry Clinton from the house.

    Descriptions are beautiful in this novel. Vivid descriptions added more enjoyment for me. I literally lived in 1857 New York City. Spellbinding.

    Two narrations move back and forth keeping our interest intact.

    One about Emma and Harvey first meet, Emma's desire to get a husband, Harvey's empty promises to Emma about marriage and home, their relationship, his secret life are all by Emma.

    The legal investigation and trials are all done by the advocate Hendry Clinton.

    Hendry Clinton has a cozy, happy marriage.

    (Chapter 3 tells the wonderful marriage of Hendry Clinton and his wife Elisabeth, their life, her trips to deliver him lunch, her longing & fondness for the calm life, that's away from Clintonís legal work loads.

    Chapter 8, the day Hendry was fired by his senior partner from his law firm, he came home exhausted, told Elisabeth about his conversation with James and his decision to go on his own and defend Emma, is a beautiful chapter to read. Very intimate.)

    His wife Elizabeth is loving ,intelligent and a trusted ally for him.

    The descriptions of busy New York City-1859 streets, its real-estate growth, upper class living areas, trades, Dr.Burdell and Emma relationship{ even the house staff doesnít like taking orders from her ( house mistress - society didnít respect)}, his secrets, his relationship with his dentist elder brother, his interests in real estate business, descriptions of the murder and investigation scenes ( they ran preliminary investigations by keeping the people under house arrest), legal process and its flaws, media, district attorney with high political ambitions, abuse of power, racial society, slavery during that time all are very detailed and interesting.

    The novel includes news clippings of the newspaper about the original murder based on which the novel has been written.

    In fact THE NEW YORK TIMES donated their service to city proceedings and in exchange, the news paper got the permission to print the reports verbatim(அப்படியே...WORD BY WORD), thus THE NEW YORK TIMES is 'THE PAPER OF RECORD'

    31 BOND STREET.jpg


  4. #53
    Senior Member Veteran Hubber baroque's Avatar
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    Spooky read


    1st of the series...THE CROSSING PLACES.

    2nd of the series....THE JANUS STONE.


    The Crossing Places.jpg

    Salt marsh areas of NORFOLK, lush English country

    Descriptions on the surroundings are awesome.

    She has captured the uncanny , eerie, desolated, cloudy, wet , moody surroundings amazingly well.

    Very mysterious Norfolk, English country's beaches and marshes.

    Detective Harry Nelson found a child's bones at that area.

    He contacted Dr.Ruth Galloway, Forensic Archaeologist for help.

    Ruth lives in that remote areas of English country.

    A decade ago, there was a child, Lucy Downey was missing.

    Detective Harry Nelson was handling the case. He used to get creepy letters while he was doing his investigation.

    He could not find out the fate of the little girl.

    Nelson remembered the haunting letters, he used to get regarding the little girl's mystery during that time.

    Detective Harry Nelson was thinking may be the bones are of this little girl Lucy's.... kind of a closure for their grieving parents who continue

    to have contacts with the Detective.

    But When Dr.Ruth went to the site to study the bones along with the detective, she declared, the bones must be from the Iron Age body, during the time ritual slaughter were common.

    Kind of disappointment for Harry Nelson.

    Later one fine morning, Harry called Ruth again. There is a another little girl missing-Scarlet Henderson- from her home front yard while she was playing outside.

    Scarlet Henderson's case is at Spenwell, which is a tiny village closer to Ruth's place.

    Again Detective Harry Nelson is getting the creepy letters.

    Letters contain religious superstitions, some literary quotes, proverbs and archaeological stuff.

    Ruth also noticed a homoerotic subtext to the letters.

    Ruth is helping Harry Nelson understands some of the contents in this letter which has archaeological terms and biblical stuff.

    To scare her, someone mutilated her cat and left the body in her door step.

    Is that the killer(killed those two little girls) , the creepy fellow write letters..pretty sick & dangerous.

    wonderful plot.

    Ruth and Harry are nice characters.

    Ruth is smart, outspoken, educated, intelligent woman lives alone in a desolated place. loner

    She has some issues regarding her weight, looks etc..but most of the times She doesn't care about it.

    I really enjoyed her interactions with Harry Nelson. (according to her brother, Ruth is 'a tasteless 16 yr old boy' regarding her music tastes)

    Her relationship with her mom is kind of rough.

    Harry is a married man , kind of intrigued by Ruth.

    Intelligent man with odd attitudes.

    I like them together....(mmm......... he is not in a great marriage...he is a pussy cat at home with his wife and 2 daughters)

    Definite attraction between them.

    Even Ruth wonders why is Nelson still in love with his wife-Michelle, although they have nothing in common?

    Eric, works at the Saltmarsh with her , her ex boy friend Peter, stunning Shona, Cathbad/Michael Malone, little girls parents...very well crafted characters in this compelling mystery with interesting subplots.

    Novel ended with a twist that makes a huge impact on the relationship of Ruth and Nelson.

    The second of the series THE JANUS STONE starts with....

    The Janus stone.jpg

    Ruth is happy in her desolated place with her job, friends and about herself...She is pregnant (Shhhh....Nelson is not aware of the baby. I am happy for Ruth's joy. )

    The Janus stone is again packed with forensic and historical details.

    Already her relationship with her mom is troublesome, now she needs to get their approval about her pregnancy. They are religious people.

    How about our detective Nelson?

    Nelson is not aware of the baby.

    Well, this guy is neither certain about his relationship with Ruth nor with his beautiful, demanding wife Micheal. He has an emotional connection with Ruth, just sighting of her, he is feeling the excitement but not admitting it. (Of course there is that one night stand) That's for sure...

    Surprisingly Ruth and Nelson's wife like each other, get along fine whenever they run into each other.

    What will he do when Ruth tells him about the baby? Is he going to involve with the baby's affairs?

    In The Janus Stone, as an expert on bones and death, forensic archaeologist Ruth's involvement in another case in her present condition is frightening and her personal affairs in this story are enjoyable.

    THE RUTH GALLOWAY MYSTERY .......ELLY GRIFFITHS is my favorite series.

    Last edited by baroque; 10th July 2011 at 10:00 AM.

  5. #54
    Senior Member Veteran Hubber baroque's Avatar
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    I am reading a slow progressing, very atmospheric novel (Not action packed novel)


    very interesting facts on rich Chinese culture, historical back ground, novel set in
    Monterey Bay, California.


  6. #55
    Moderator Platinum Hubber P_R's Avatar
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    Just finished reading Shehan Karunatilake's Chinaman- the legend of Pradeep Matthew.

    One of the best novels I have read in a loooong time.

    The book is about a spent-force, alcoholic, bitter, cynical cricket journalist W.G.Karunasena trying to write about the man who he thinks is his country's greatest cricketer - one incredibly inventive spinner Pradeep Maththew. Details about him seem hard to find because he seems to have been at odds with the authorities. WG suffering from liver cirrosis, realization that life is slipping through his fingers, purpose, drink, his friendship with fellow cricket-lover Ariyaratne Byrd, his love for his wife are what the book is about. This is not to mention characters like midgets who secretly wire mics into dressing rooms, sour-grapers who run for BCCSL presidency, corrupt politicians, pompous cricketers, insecure commentators, underground betting dens, a match-fixing Tiger liaison-guy, estranged rock-musician son and many such.

    It is fully peppered with part-imaginary inside stories about the the mystical Maththew - who allegedly got the softspoken Ranatunga to sledge back, insisted Sanath play his natural game and not listen to foreign coaches, and blast people who try to mend the action of a certain up-and-coming boy from Kandy. We get a portrait of SL cricket before and around the glory of '96, the ethnic conflict and related politics in the background.

    The sense of humour is just fantastic. It is unrelenting even in the darkest of places, subtle in many places and enjoyably loud in others. And many a poignant moment wrapped in lovely prose.

    Strongly recommended it.

    Plum, methinks you will like this one. Do read and let us know.

    Roshan, you may be able to appreciate more of the local nuances in the book.
    மூவா? முதல்வா! இனியெம்மைச் சோரேலே

  7. #56
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    Feeyaar, yes I marked this one after reading a Guardian review. Right now, my book budget has been frozen by the Fin. Min on account of not having dusted the latest Amitav Ghosh epic(whose first part, sea of poppies, I had fervently recommended earlier in Kamal threads to you) 3 months after buying it. This review tips it. Konjam doubt irundhudhu - next purchase I'll buy this

  8. #57
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    Btw, I believe the troubled genius in real life whose life has been used in part by the writer, I believe, is KT Sadasivam, a tamil Cricketer - genius I believe before Lanka got Test status though. Philanderer(not Vernon) and Alcoholic details apparently match. Atleast, that's what the review said.

  9. #58
    Moderator Platinum Hubber P_R's Avatar
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    Not Sathasivam.
    Sathasivam find mention as himself quite extensively in this book. And he was a batsman.
    This is a Tamil left arm spinner who played sparingly. I google-guessed Sridharan jeganathan. But then they mention him too in the book

    This guy is just anti-authority. He disrespects captains, cuts Yorkshire commentators down to size and defends Murali's action. I guess that should sell the book to you rightaway
    மூவா? முதல்வா! இனியெம்மைச் சோரேலே

  10. #59
    Moderator Platinum Hubber P_R's Avatar
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    Matthew is anything but a philanderer. The narrator is the alcoholic. padinga, pEsuvOm.

    Ghosh, mind-la vachurukkEn. Nesst meet paNREn.
    மூவா? முதல்வா! இனியெம்மைச் சோரேலே

  11. #60
    Senior Member Veteran Hubber 19thmay's Avatar
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    Prabhu - After reading your review I bought this book yesterday. But I am not going to read it now, lot of books are in queue. Right now reading God of small things, long pending actually.

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