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Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A must read but be cautious of the complex plotting in the series.

For review on Book 1 (The Golden Compass), go here.
For review on Book 2 (The Amber Spyglass), go here.



Philip Pullman released the final instalment of His Dark Materials series, The Amber Spyglass, in 2000. In the second part we are left at the point where Lyra goes missing and Will refuses to go with the angels, Balthamos and Baruch, until he found her. Now what has happened to Lyra?  And that’s where this book begins.



Lyra is kept  hidden in a cave by Mrs. Coulter from the Magisterium so they wouldn’t kill her. Lyra is prophesied to become the second Eve and bringing the Fall of Man. In the meanwhile when Will is being taken to Lord Asriel by the angels they are attacked by the soldier of archangel Metatron. Will uses the knife to escape to another world.

Dr. Mary Malone, introduced as the "serpent" in the previous book, is followed by an assassin appointed by the Magisterium. However she enters a different world through a window where she meets elephantine creatures called Mulefa. Here she constructs a Spy Glass to study the Dust that no longer nourish the seedpod trees and the trees are dying.

Will forms an army with Iorek Byrnison, Lord Asriel, and the angel Balthamos to reach the cave where Lyra is kept drugged and hidden. Magisterium forces also converge at the same time. Will wakes up Lyra but loses concentration when he sees Mrs. Coulter and breaks the knife. Lyra, Will and two spies , Tialys and Salmakia - escape to the world of dead, opened by the knife before it was broken.

What is the purpose of Lyra to go into this realm? Will they all return back? What is the result of the war with Magisterium? Why is Magisterium so afraid of the prophecy? Is it really the Fall of Man? Yes, another twisted plot that leads to the beginning of man and woman, that is well spun.

Although I would have liked to have a little lesser twists in this book. Also the journey thru the dead realm could have been avoided as it really did not join to any thread in the plot. Other than that, certainly worth reading to finish the series.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A must read but be cautious of the complex plotting in the series.

For review on Book 1 (The Golden Compass), go here.



The Subtle Knife was the second book in the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman released in 1997. True to its subtext on the book the boundaries of the worlds crumble in this plot. The adventures of Lyra Belacqua in investigating Dust phenomenon and finding her father, Lord Asriel, continues here.



I always thought the first part of the book released as a movie was a successful one because I had a good visual of what Dust meant, what the parallel world looked like, what daemons meant, etc. It had come to me as a surprise when the movie failed at box office. After the reading the book I understood why. However with so many other movie series that get continued even though one part failed, it never happened so for this series. The second part "The Subtle Knife" never got revamped into a sequel. And now it is never going to happen. Pity since the series is a good read in book though. A trailer was released though before the project was shelved.



Coming back to the book, Lyra's partner in crime in this book is Will Parry who accidentally discovers a portal to a parallel universe. The same universe that Lyra enters following her father Lord Asriel. These two wander thru the city of Cittàgazze and encounter Sir Charles Latrom who steals the alethiometer from Lyra. He will only return to them if they can retrieve a mysterious knife from Cittàgazze. In the process of retrieving the knife, Will loses two fingers making him the next bearer of the knife per the knife's true guardian. The knife can cut through anything physical or spiritual and can be used to cut holes between worlds.

While Lyra and Will are having these adventures, a witch Serafina Pakkala discovers that Mrs. Coulter and the Magisterium are torturing a witch to discover the prophecy surrounding Lyra. Also Will has his own agenda in this travel that he embarks with Lrya - finding his father. And Lyra's ally Lee Scoresby ventures out to find the explorer Stanislaus Grumman to retrieve an object that gives protection to whoever it holds.

Will Serafina protect Lyra from Mrs. Coulter? What is the prophecy surrounding Lyra? Who is Will's father and will he find him? What is the motive of Sir Charles Latrom?

Another web of tales within tales forming a complex plot taking us through various worlds unknown and characters unmet. Philip again mastered at his writing and left us on the edge at the end of the book making us looking forward to pick the third and final instalment in the series.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A must read but be cautious of the complex plotting in the series.

After watching the movie Golden Compass, my curiosity piqued and made me read the series. I must say the movie was much more visually appealing than the book. Perhaps that was what made me like the series as well. The book titled as Northern Lights elsewhere but as The Golden Compass in North America was written by Philip Pullman published in 1995. It is the first book in the His Dark Materials Trilogy.



The story is set in an alternate universe  where every human is associated with their daemon. Daemon is one's inner self manifested externally in the form of an animal. One such 12-yr old girl is Lyra Belacqua who has Pantalaimon as her daemon. Unawares of what the perils are lurking closer or where the next day takes her, she runs around wildly in Jordan College, Oxford under the shelter of the college's Master. Until one day she comes across the Master poisoning the wine intended for Lord Asriel, Lyra's uncle. Warning her uncle, witnessing his lecture on the mysterious elementary particles called "Dust", listening about a parallel universe seen through Northern Lights and when her friend Roger goes missing - presumably kidnapped by Gobblers - puts her into a path of dangerous and thrilling adventure.



In this path, she gets adopted by Mrs. Coulter who is charming but has a hidden secret. However with the alethiometer given to her by the Master, she keeps herself away from danger at every step. When she learns of Mrs. Coulter's secret, she escapes to join Gyptians - canal-faring nomads, where she learns that Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are her parents. Thus begins her adventure of finding the missing kids. She meets Iorek Byrnison - the dispossessed royal heir of the panserbjørne armoured bears, learns about Intercision - separating the daemon from the child, aids Iorek in fighting  Iofur Raknison to get his throne back, watches Asriel walk into the parallel universe and finally follows him to find more about Dust and stop Asriel from making drastic decisions. Book 1 ends leaving us at the edge of the unknown Subtle Knife.

Although the movie hadnt made it big at Box Office in US but gathered masses outside of US. However its failure had not deterred me to read the book. The movie gave me the visual effects for the book that otherwise I might have had taken a little time to grasp. The book in itself was well written, taking us thru parallel universes, introducing us to fantastic beasts and the enigmatic Dust. The complexity behind is well explored and put in front from layman's perspective.  Per Wiki, Pullman wrote the series as a retelling and inversion of John Milton's Paradise Lost, commending humanity in the series. The title of the series as well as the first book (American release) have thus been taken from the poem.

All in all a must read but be cautious of the complex plotting in the series.
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season VII

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Introduction of the Murdoch Mysteries series in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.
My take on Season II, go here.
My take on Season III, go here.
My take on Season IV, go here.
My take on Season V, go here.
My take on Season VI, go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
My Recommendation: A must watch

And here is my take on Season VII of this series - some of the unique stuff from the episodes with pictures for more effect.


Review behind the cut with pictures...Collapse )
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season VI

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Introduction of the Murdoch Mysteries series in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.
My take on Season II, go here.
My take on Season III, go here.
My take on Season IV, go here.
My take on Season V, go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
My Recommendation: A must watch

And here is my take on Season VI of this series - some of the unique stuff from the episodes. The show enters the 20th century.



More behind the cut with pictures this time....Collapse )

Egg Dosa

Working from home sometimes has its perks, mainly with regards to what I eat. However, I am not discounting those days when I end up not eating at all due to loads of work (and those days I wish I was at work cause at least I would take a break for lunch). Today was pleasantly one of those where I had time to cook breakfast and lunch. What did I make for breakfast, you ask. Well, another experiment in Kitchen ofcourse!! :) Egg Dosa it was all-around from an online recipe to which I added spin of my own. :)



Ingredients:

2 Tbsps Urad Dal (Split Black Gram) - Soaked for 10 mins and ground to a paste in a mixer.
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Rice Flour
2 small Green Chillis - finely chopped
1 small Onion - thinlychopped
1/2 medium sized Tomato - diced into small pieces
1/2 a small bunch of Cilantro / Coriander Leaves - chopped finely
Eggs - one per Dosa
Oil for shallow fry
Salt per taste
Water - enough to make into a Dosa batter
Gunpowder / Chutney Powder - for sprinkling

Recipe:

1) In a bowl mix all the ingredients except Oil, Eggs, Coriander and Gunpowder. Make sure the batter in thinly run enough to spread on a frying pan (a bit thinner than pancake batter consistency).
2) Heat the frying pan and lightly smear with Oil.
3) Pour a ladle full of the batter on to the pan and spread it around.
4) Break an Egg on the batter and spread it lightly on the dosa batter.
5) Sprinkle Gunpowder / Chutney Powder and few leaves of chopped Cilantro / Coriander Leaves.
6) Lower the flame a bit and leave till Dosa is thoroughly cooked.
7) If the batter ends up a bit thicker, turn it on the other side to cook, else not needed.
8) Serve hot as is or with a side of Chutney or Pickle.

Noodles Dosa

I love Noodles and I love Dosa. So thought if I could mix them together. Traditionally one would think put the noodles as a stuffing for a regular dosa. True. But I am not good at keeping dosa batter stored and since it needs to be prepped a day before, most of the times I am fresh out of dosa batter. So, my usual avenue would be to make it instant variety. And thus the spin I have for my Noodles Dosa. Voila!!



Ingredients:

1 Pack Maggie Noodles (traditionally we Indians use these. But any noodles could work) - Cooked per instructions along with the spices it comes with.
1 cup Besan (Chick Pea Flour) - I used Besan because I ran out of Rice Flour or All Purpose Flour. But this can be made with Rice Flour or a combo of Rice and All Purpose Flour
instead of Besan.
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
Salt per taste
Water enough to make the batter into runny kind to make Dosas.
Oil for the Dosas

Recipe:
1) Cool the cooked Noodles and pour it into a mixing bowl.
2) Add the remaning ingredients except Oil and mix into a thin runny kind of batter.
3) Heat a pan and smear with a little Oil. Pour a ladle full of the batter on the pan.
4) Cook on both sides.
5) Serve hot with Tomato Ketchup or any Chutney.

Raw Banana Sambar / Aratikaya Sambar

What would you want to do other than a curry when the lone Raw Banana in your fridge is close to turning to ripe? Well, I had a bulb glow up above my head. Why not make Sambar? And why sambar, you may ask. Well something is close to turning to ripe it is easier to put it in a savory soup of vegetables and still remain as tasty as ever. :) Lo and behold! Raw Banana Sambar / Aratikaya Sambar is ready to eat and enjoy!!

I used the same recipe as Sambar that I make always, except added Raw Bananas after adding Onions. Make sure they are sliced thinly so they get cooked evenly. Have fun creating my version in your kitchens too. :P


Maida Dosa

A lazy Sunday morning always wants me to hunt for easy recipes for breakfast. Here is one that I found online that was not only easy to make but very very very yummy.

Recipe:

1) In a large mixing bowl, add 2 Cups of Maida (All Purpose Flour, 1 Cup Mik (Make sure you have had already boiled it once and cooled), 2 Tablespoons of Rice Flour, Salt per Taste and Water as needed.
2) Mix all the ingredients into thin batter enough to make a Dosa. It should not be too runny or too thick.
3) Heat a pan and rub it with little oil. Pour approx 1 1/2 ladle of the batter.
4) Cook on both sides.
5) Serve with Chutney, Chutney Powder, Sambar or Pickle.

Pictured: Two Maida Dosas with fresh Tomato Pickle and Karivepaku Powder (Curry Leaves Powder) sent by mom in a care package. (Thanks mom!!)


Barley Pongal

I have started having a fascination for Barley lately. And have made Barley Bisi Bele Bath so many times that my mind started to think other dishes to make with Barley. So I started with the simple Barley Pongal. I must say it turned out pretty good.

I used the same recipe as I did for Oats Pongal, however for Barley, soak it for 15 mins, drain it and use in the recipe. Note the Barle soaked water can be used as a refreshing drink and tastes very similar to coconut water.

Another Kitchen adventure completed successfully!!! Served here with Pepper Rasam and Zucchini Daal.


Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season V

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.
Introduction of the Murdoch Mysteries series in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.
My take on Season II, go here.
My take on Season III, go here.
My take on Season IV, go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
My Recommendation: A must watch

And here is my take on Season V of this series - some of the unique stuff from the episodes. This season shows the era getting closer to the 20th century because of which we get to see the industrial revolution spring.



Episode 1: Rise of factories and meeting of famous author Jack London are the noticeable items from this episode. A chance phrase by Detective Murdoch, “Call of the Wind” becomes a title for Jack London as shown in here.

Episode 4: This episode shows the start of public telephone booths although they are called “Callboxes”. Constable Crabtree muses that “Imagine one day a telephone so small, you could carry it around.” And Constable Higgins muses “It would never work wires all over town, you'd trip the horses.” Clearly unable to imagine beyond his mind’s capacity. And indeed we have those now and we call them “Cell Phones”. :P We get to see another pipe bomb in this episode as well with the first glimpse into the beginnings of terrorist attacks.
More about the series behind the cut...Collapse )
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season IV
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.
Introduction of the Murdoch Mysteries in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.
My take on Season II, go here.
My take on Season III, go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
My Recommendation: A must watch

And here is my take on Season IV of this series - some of the unique stuff from the episodes.



Episode 2: The episode deals with soldiers addicted to Methamphetamine. Detective Murdoch surmises that this drug could play a major role in warfare in future, for better or worse. I am afraid, Murdoch, it is being used for worse now, alas!

Episode 3: This episode shows something called “Scrutiny Cameras” that the Detective Murdoch insists on having it installed in high-end places which help them in catching a burglar. He is being called the inventor of Scrutiny Cameras (although it is not true in reality). These are the rudimentary versions of Security Cameras and CCTVs of this era.

Episode 4: In this episode when Detective Murdoch recreates his crime scene on his tabletop with miniature forms, Constable Crabtree muses that perhaps there could be a game created where everyone would get a clue to solve a murder and finally catch the killer. Detective dismisses it as a foolish idea. If only he knew, for that game is what we play now called Clue…or perhaps one of that kind of games. J Also Dr. Ogden comes for a visit to Toronto and helps Detective in creating a mold of the wound with Jell-O and she says it is quite famous in Buffalo (where she lives now) and people eat it. Imagine a surprise on a simple Jell-O. :)

Episode 5: Detective Murdoch tries a unique approach to get a photograph sent by wire by converting the picture into grids and assigning each grid a number. Interesting idea which Detective calls it as a telefacsimile in other words a fax. And Crabtree envisions this to be a recreational activity where one is given colors to fill by grid number. And that it could be any form or shape the grid could be to be filled in. He calls it “Paint by Numerical Value” and sell them in small kits. We do have them now for amateur painters. J Also the concept of Subways being introduced to Toronto is seen…as one of the actor says “an electrified railroad running from one end of the city to the other, which is the future.” Very interesting. In the end Crabtree again envisions that these telefacsimiles will be sent via machines in future...again in other words a fax.

Episode 6: Detective Murdoch creates a chemiphosphoroluminescence to identify traces of blood on a bullet. He mentions that that compound was recently synthesized and he acquired a small sample. This is similar to Luminol used by current crime scene investigators.

Episode 7: Detective Murdoch builds a Graphizer to detect a sunken boat that uses the same principle as a SONAR.

Episode 8: Rerouting calls or recording them is so easy now. Cant even fathom a hundred years ago how they did it, but Detective Murdoch shows his setup in this episode. Very ingenious. Towards the end Detective Murdoch says about the killer who is but just a boy:”I don't know what we're dealing with here, Julia. A mental illness, perhaps, or, a good boy gone bad? Or is it possible to be born without a conscience?” I wonder the same when I see cruelty in kids.

Episode 9: Detective Murdoch again comes up with his own artwork in understanding a killer’s weapon. He creates a rudimentary form of a “Silencer” to the gun, but he calls it Muffler. While Constable Crabtree calls it as “Silencer” which is what we know it as today. We see glimpses of organized crime and the initial steps of witness protection in this episode. And ofcourse Street Cars. In the Season I, Detective is surprised about motor powered bicycles. And now they show advancement with street cars. As the series proceeds the technology progress and changes per that period are shown very effectively.

Episode 11: Dracula comes to Murdoch in this episode. I have never read that book…but this episode wants me to read that book. The medical technology of blood transfusion in its initial stages also are seen in this episode although the story is molded into the vampire story to create a murder mystery.

Episode 12: Detective Murdoch comes up with a “Dye Discharger” to catch a bank robber, somewhat similar to what cops use now. He built based on Little Nipper, a British Technology which we can clearly see has evolved considerably. The term “red-handed” gets accidentally mentioned by the reporter merely to say they will catch the robber based on the red dye on his hands. Perhaps that was the beginning of the term that eventually came to mean being caught in a thieving act. :)

Episode 13: Oh how lovely is this episode…to see all the Lewis Carol's characters under one roof embroiled in a murder mystery. My favorite book in so live action.
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season III

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.
Introduction of Murdoch Mysteries in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.
My take on Season II, go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
My Recommendation: A must watch

And here is my take on Season III of this series - some of the unique stuff from the episodes.



Episode 1: This episode shows the invention of telescopic rifle that could be fired from 500 yards away. In this case it is invented by a hired killer who is hired to kill the Queen of England.

Episode 3: A women’s basketball team is shown in this episode and the basket is not a net one…its made of wood. How interesting and reusable.

Episode 6: The episode opens with Detective Murdoch amazed and impressed at the 11-storey building that is made of solid steel, reinforced concrete skeleton included with a gearless traction electric elevators. One of the character is shown working on a miniature planetarium based on Eisinga’s Model. In conversation with him, Detective Murdoch muses that he is fascinated by the idea that one day tiny electrical circuits will be capable of calculating vast mathematical algorithms. And the character agrees that miniaturization is the key to the future. And now we have a concrete jungle around us and live in world of bytes.

Episode 7: Detective Murdoch answers a perplexed Constable Crabtree that “All animals are innocent, George, humans excepted.” How very true. Introducing in this episode is a telephone in the department.

Episode 8: Detective Murdoch has the pleasure of meeting the famous author H. G. Wells in this episode. Infact he was invited to a Eugenics conference where the scientist converge to discuss on breeding people with higher genes to eliminate the criminal part of the humanity. And also to be able to know the details of the child in womb so no sick child will be brought in. Yet this knowledge is so mis-used now. Alas!

Episode 11:  Constable Crabtree and Higgins argue on the origin of Doughnut. It was hilarious that they think a cow invented it. J Detective Murdoch uses the Symbolic Logic by John Venn to solve two murders that have a common root.

Episode 12: Detective Murdoch and Constable Crabtree come across a one-sided mirror at one of the scenes. Crabtree muses that they could use it in their interview rooms. Introduction of the hand-held camera (no bigger than a cigar box per Inspector Brackenreid) is seen. Detective Murdoch mentions that it is the latest from Eastman Kodak Company called Pocket Kodak that have celluloid films inside the camera as opposed to film plates that were used in other cameras of that time. Brackenreid muses “What will they think of next”. I am sure he would be surprised to see cell phone cameras if he was transported to this era. J Detective Murdoch comes across a suspect from two of his past murders in this episode, who has vision of an entire community living in towers connected by underground railroads and walkways above with rooftop farms. Yes, another vision come true.

Episode 13: Nikola Tesla again surfaces in this episode. This time he is experimenting with ways in transmitting electromagnetic waves through the air using extremely high frequency radio waves. Detective Murdoch calls them miniwaves while Tesla says he prefers the Greek prefix and calls them Microwaves. Indeed in reality Tesla did experiment of such kind setting a step for all futures scientists to perfect it. Interesting enough that Crabtree thinks that if this energy could be harnessed then it can be used towards creating a device that could cook potato. However Tesla and Murdoch mention that it would be a big room for cooking a potato. But Crabtree insists that perhaps in future everyone could have a smaller version of it alluding to a Microwave Oven that we use now.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick read pick it up.

Another book based on the famed TV Series Murder, She Wrote published in 2015 written by the American ghostwriter Donald Bain and fictitious Jessica Fletcher. This time Jessica tangles with a ghost. I havent read very many books on the series - this being my second book - but I had watched the series. It was good. This book, however, tends to be a mediocre kind of mystery for such a famed author. And why do I say so. Well read my review below.



Jessica unwillingly agrees to help her friend Eve Simpson sell the Spencer Percy House, Cabot Cove's oldest mansion. A seemingly simple book sale to get rid of all the books collected by Cliff Cooper over a period of time turns to an unending and tiring project for Jessica. Added to that the straight forward death of Cliff turns out to be a murder. And then there is the mystery behind the sudden departure of Jerry Cooper - Cliff's son - and his wife Marina Cooper one night. And more mysterious was their death in South America at the hands of some tribal people. The ever mystical Elliot Cooper - grandson of Cliff - also adds more to the mystery. And before we know Jessica is again hot on her heels solving a murder, a disappearance, a book sale and a harried Eve Simpson.

So, the plot looks intriguing. Yes, very much. However, unlike her plots in the TV Series, I could untangle the puzzle somewhere during Chapter Twenty-One, right at the scene where the Eve's hired handy man watches Cliff's funeral from a distance. All made sense at that very instance and I didn’t need to read the rest of the book. Yet, I finished it cause I like Jessica Fletcher. :)

I do hope Donald Bain comes up with stronger plots in the next book. Else the budding interest I had in reading her books will be squished with this one.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Book 1, Go here.
For Book 2, Go here.
For Book 3, Go here.
For Book 4, Go here.
For Book 5, Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: For the conclusion a definite pick since there are unexpected twists.

The Enchantress - final episode in the series - was published in 2012. Since Josh Newman - The Golden Twin - got his own book in The Necromancer, it was befitting that Scott dedicate this book to Sophie Newman - The Silver Twin. The story takes places in two different time strands - One in Danu Talis, ten thousand years ago and the other in San Francisco, the present time. Naturally there would be characters repeated in both periods of time since some existed from the beginning. So you can see the confusion it would create in my brain. However I was very curious on how the story would end and was really curious to know who actually Marethyu was. Why him, cause every other character so far revealed had a past face and present face except for him. Oh well, here's my take on the final installment.



Josh and Sophie Newman get reunited in the previous book, The Warlock, and go back to Danu Talis along with John Dee and Virginia Dare, to the same thread in time where the others have gone to (Scathach, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamades, William Shakespeare and of course Marethyu).

In the present: Nicholas "Nick" and Perenelle "Perry" Flamel, Niten, Prometheus, Mars, Hel and Odin fight the monsters that John Dee had unleashed onto San Francisco. They are joined by Machiavelli and Billy The Kid, The Morrigan, Black Hawk and Tsagaglalal in her youthful immortal form.

On the Danu Talis, ten thousand years ago:  Scathach, Joan of Arc, Saint-Germain, Palamedes and Shakespeare escape out of the prison with the help of the young Prometheus. They fight the final battle along-side the Twins. Surprisingly Dee and Dare also join them.

So what made Dee and Dare change? What is the meaning of the prophecy? Who are in-real the parents of Josh and Sophie? What is the destiny of Josh that makes him the Necromancer and of Sophie that makes her the Enchantress? Will Danu Talis fall again as destined so the plan of Earthlords wont be successful? To know that and more interesting twists go ahead and read the conclusion. I am sure you will love it as much as I loved it too. My favorite characters all thru were Marethyu and Abraham. It was very surprising to see who Marethyu in reality was and what became of Abraham.

Of course if you have been reading the book closely you would have guessed who Marethyu was in the third book The Sroceress when Scathach and Joan of Arc are trapped in a shadow-realm created by Marethyu.
Well, not want to add any more spolier alerts. Enjoy the read!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Book 1, Go here.
For Book 2, Go here.
For Book 3, Go here.
For Book 4, Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Although the book traverses between past and present, this is still a good pick since it makes you sit on the edge and feel the journey.

The fifth book in the series titled The Warlock was published in 2011. This book reveals more about Niccolò Machiavelli and why he is The Warlock. Also the plot goes back and forth between present world in San Franciso / Paris and ten thousand years ago in Danu Talis. That back and forth definitely added a lot of confusion for me specially when the same character was portrayed both in present and past. Connecting the dots was a little tough for me, but I still loved the journey because of the myriad of things it fed my imagination.



The story picks up with Nicholas "Nick" Flamel weak and unconscious but with Sophie Newman - one of the twins, Perenelle "Perry " Flamel and Niten - a Japanese immortal warrior. Josh Newman - the other twin - still with Dr. John Dee and Virginia Dare. Josh is still under the influence of Dee and is confused as to why his sister has betrayed him, unsure of what truth is and what is lie.

Several events happen in this book. In the present - We get to see that Witch of Endor AKA Zephaniah, who had helped Sophie with her powers and grandmother to Scathach, is indeed wife of Mars Ultor - who is currently living under Paris in the Catacombs. She had previously put him under a spell for his own protection. She is also sister of Prometheus (a Greek God who created mankind and gave fire to humans.). She along with two other Egyptian Elders, Isis and Osiris seek out Mars Ultor so they can aid Sophie find Josh. Incidentally the Witch calls him as The Warlock - the one who breaks all rules and acts out of character. Makes one wonder if Niccolo indeed is on the good side of this journey.

Prometheus loses his shadow-realm while saving Perry and Nick. They along with Niten and Sophie reach Tsagaglalal - She Who Watches. Sophie finds a surprise here as she is none other than her Aunt Agnes. Tsagaglalal is also married to Abraham the Made who wrote the Codex and was the cause of this entire journey in the first place.  More elders join them in this journey to save San Francisco from the wrath of Dee and his vile plans - Odin, a Norse god; Hel, a being presiding over the shadow-realm Hel where she receives a portion of the dead. Niccolo and Bill the Kid make major decisions - which in part makes Niccolo as The Warlock. The hook-handed man is called Marethyu - meaning Death or Man.

In the past at Danu Talis - Marethyu brings Scathach, Joan of Arc, Saint Comte de Germaib, Palamades and William Shakespeare to Danu Talis just before its fall, to the strand in time before any of the future strands are formed. Marethyu says, "There are many strands, many possibilities, but we have come back to the point before those strands split apart, where our actions shape the future." But before Marethyu can explain further he gets captured and taken to Aten, ruler of Danu Talis. The rest are put in prison. Abraham the Mage prophesies the end of Danu Talis but works with Prometheus to save the captured prisoners so they can aid in the war.

Now this is where the journey gets interesting. Will Dee succeed in his plan? Will Josh reunite with his sister and know the right path? What happens to the captured elders in Danu Talis who traveled with Marethyu? Who is Marethyu in reality and what of his fate when he meets Aten? What happens to Niccolo after his decision? How do the elders in San Francisco who meet at Tsagaglalal (the Twins' Aunt Agnes) plan for the next steps in the impending war that is bound to happen? Will Nick survive the day? What will happen to the present world as well as the Danu Talis? More than ten thousand years ago what plan Abraham had put into motion, will it fall into place as he wanted?  Well, that’s a journey you have to travel yourself rather than me narrating. I must say, it was very intriguing, interesting and adventurous.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Book 1, Go here.
For Book 2, Go here.
For Book 3, Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A definite pick if you are following the series

The fourth book in the series of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel was The Necromancer published in 2010. Usually when a story is written in different parts, one likes some parts better than the others. Same with this series as well. I liked this book better than any other in the series. Primarily because I wanted to see how Josh Newman turns out and was a much awaited one for me. The Necromancer in the title indeed refers to Josh Newman, one of the twin.



With the Clarent reuniting with its twin Excalibur and Scathach and Joan of Arc stuck in a shadow-realm, the third book ended with the twins and Flamels reaching Sanfrancisco. The story in this book picks up exactly at the same place. However the difference is here for Josh and Dee. While Dee is declared an ultaga (unwanted man) by his Dark Elder masters and is on the run, Josh is on the run to find himself. In their journey as always they are aided by friends and fight the foes. But the Flamels are no closer to the Codex so their days are numbered making them older faster by the second.

Twins meet Scathach's twin sister Aoife, from the Irish mythology, while getting back to their grandmother. She kidnaps Sophie with the help of her Japanese immortal friend, Niten - an expert Japanese swordsman from the 16th Century. The Flamels and Josh race to save her. In the meanwhile Scathach and Joan of Arc with help of Lord Tammuz - Sumerian god of food and vegetation - are reunited with Comte "Frances" de Saint-Germain, William Shakespeare and Palamedes in the shadow-realm. They meet the mysterious hooded hook-handed man - who had been following all these folks from the time Dee entered the bookshop a few days ago. The hook-handed man take them through several shadow-realms to the Earth that was ten thousand years ago, to the Danu Talis when it still existed.

Dee, although declared unwanted, is not without powers. He has the Clarent-Excalibur united sword and also Durendal and Joyeuse - all four ancient Swords of Power. With his arrogance still intact, he enlists the help of an old acquaintance, Virginia Dare - first White Christian born in British Colonies in the New World. His plans change drastically and the Dark Elder masters are his target now.

Josh and the Flamels rescue Sophie but Aoife and Niten form ally with them. As they travel to meet Prometheus -the Master of Fire - to learn the magic of Fire, Josh gets separated and joins with Dee. Dee manipulates Josh to summon Coatlicue - Aztec goddess who gave birth of moon, stars and the god of sun and war; also called as mother of gods.

The book ends with Josh separated from his sister Sophie - both supporting the opposite ends, Aoife lost in the battle and Flamels still weak while the Dark Elders plan for their return. How will the story proceed further and what becomes the future of the twins and the worlds involved is beyond imagination. It can spin in any way but which way did Michael Scott spin it. This is such a cliffhanger because of which makes me like this book better. Looking forward to post about the next episode.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Book 1, Go here.
For Book 2, Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: As the series is moving forward a myriad number of characters are introduced. A bit of confusion in the beginning for me but I picked it up along. If you are not like me who gets easily confused, then definitely to pick this up to read what happens next.

This is the third book in the series by Michael Scott published in 2009. The title of the book, Sorceress, refers to Perenelle "Perry" Flamel. Although the plot revolves around Perry, it also follows the Twins - Sophie Newman and Josh Newman - and Dee.



In the last book, the Twins and Nicholas "Nick" Flamel travel to London escaping Dee and Niccolò Machiavelli (an Italian Renaissance historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher and often called as the founder of modern political science). Nick and Perry are running out of time, they are aging by the hour and without the recipe from the Codex - Book Of Abraham - they would die soon. And he feared for the Twins and the whole humanity in general. Perry, after defeating The Crow Goddess (one form of her called Morrigan, but her two sisters Macha and Badb take over the body of Morrigan), forms an uneasy alliance with the now Crow Goddess and Areop-Enap, the Spider Elder. But still is in Alcatraz waiting for a chance to escape, though she finds that Dee has filled the island's cells with terrible monsters.

In this leg of their journey, as they (the Twins, Nick and Perry) try to find a way back to San Francisco, they encounter more immortal, Elder and Next Generations along with learning to control their newly acquired powers. Some of the beings they come across whom they had to fight with are  - Genii Cucullati (The Hooded Ones or The Flesh Eaters), the Nereids (sea nymphs), their father Nereus (also known as The Old Man of the Sea), Cucubuths (offsprings of a vampire and Torc Madra - blood drinkers), Dearg Due (another kind of blood drinking vampires), Billy the Kid (an American Old West gunfighter), Cernunnos (an Archon - the Horned God) and his pack of wolves called the Wild Hunt.

Some of the beings they come across who aid them are - Palamades (a Saracen pagan and a Knight of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend), William Shakespeare (who apparently was at one time an apprentice to Dee and became immortal but now fought against Dee), Gabriel Hounds (also known as Torc Madra), Gilgamesh the King (demigod of super human strength), the Ghost de Ayala, Scatthach, Joan of Arc and her husband Francis.

What awaits them in this journey? How do they survive? Will Perry escape Alcatraz? Will Josh overcome his jealousness? Well, that and more will be answered thru the tale. Only drawback I see of the book is too many new characters introduced, too many twists that sometimes are loose without an end. Perhaps they all get tied up in the next set of three books. However, it created quite a confusion for me for a while even though it was exciting.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Book 1, Go here.


Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Do pick this up to continue with the series.




This is the second book in the series titled "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" written by Irish author Michael Scott and published in 2008. While the first book gave us a glimpse into the world of the Alchemyst Nick Flamel, this book ventures further into the life of The Magician - John Dee.

After successfully awakening Sophie and thwarting the attempt of Dee kidnapping Josh, the twins and Flamel along with Scathach reach Paris. However they are not yet closer to rescuing Perry nor escaping Dee permanently. And now they face Dee's rival Niccolò Machiavelli also working for Dark Elders as Dee. Sophie still has to learn to tone down her newly awakened powers while Josh is yet to be awakened. So the journey continues again with new forces to help them. This time Comte de Saint-Germain and his wife Joan Of Arc (yes I am serious. :)), ghost of Juan Manuel de Ayala who helps deliver a message from Perry to Nick and Areop-Enap - a Spider Elder who aids Perry. Josh also acquires the Clarent, twin blade of Excalibur, given by Nick of course. Among the foes they encounter the three Disir known as Valkyries, Nidhogg (which was trapped in the Yggdrasil but gets free when Dee destroys the tree) and Dagon - Machiavelli 's assistant. In the process they lose Scathach to Dagon into the Seine River and also lose Josh to Dee. However they trace back to Josh in-time to see that his powers are awakened by Mars Ultor.

Thus the journey continues in this second book with a few more new foes and friends.
National Margarita Day Feb 22Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Definite pick for this book. A beginning of a great series.

This is the first book in the series titled "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" written by Irish author Michael Scott and published in 2007. I picked this book for its cover - with all the symbols and scrolls - it intrigued me enough to go for it. And I ended up reading the entire series as well. :) The books are primarily based on Nicholas "Nick" Flamel, a 14th century French scribe and manuscript-seller and his wife Perenelle "Perry" Flamel, who commission religious sculptures among her other charities. Both were famous posthumously, primarily around the 17th century for being alchemists and their search for Philosopher's Stone and Immortality - many of the rumors being false.  Scott was smart enough to bank on that rumor into a six-book fantasy novel. In the process he immortalized not only Perenelle and Nicholas but many other legendary and some mythological (Irish, Greek, Egyptian and even Biblical) characters in these books. Here is my take on the first book titled aptly as "The Alchemyst"  - obviously referring to Nicholas Flamel.



It wasn’t any normal day for Sophie and Josh Newman, 15 year old twins, working at their summer jobs. Josh works at The Small Book Shop owned by Nick and Perry. Sophie works across the street to the book store in The Coffee Cup. Why isn't it a normal day then? Well, first of all they come to know that Nick and Perry are no ordinary humans, but famed immortals Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, living an anonymous life in the city of San Francisco.  They have been in possession of a book, The Codex - or The Book of Abraham the Mage - which has the secret that is keeping him and Perry alive for 700 years. Dr. John Dee (based on the legendary John Dee who was a 16th century English Mathematician, Astronomer, Astrologer, Philosopher, advisor to Queen Elizabeth I and also an alchemist himself) comes in search of the book to The Small Book Shop. In a stand-off between Nick and Dee, Josh ends up clutching the last two pages of the book while Dee escapes with the book, after destroying the book store along with Perry. Dee however would need the last two pages which are critical for his ultimate goal and pursues them. Thus begins the adventure of Sophie and Josh landing them in the middle of the greatest legends of all the time.

In their journey they get to meet some of the powerful people known through centuries - Scathach, from Irish mythology a Scottish Warrior Woman commonly known as The Shadow or Warrior Maid or a Vampire; Hekate, a Greek Goddess often depicted in triple form (maiden in the morning, matron in the afternoon and crone in the evening); Hekate's Shadowrealm; Yggdrasil, mythical tree connecting the nine worlds in Norse Cosmology (In the book it is depicted that the life and power of Hekate is linked to Yggdrasil); Bastet, Egyptian Goddess of Cats; Morrigan, Irish Goddess of battle primarily taking the form of a Crow; The Witch of Endor, a Biblical Hebrew or Medium and the famed Excalibur, legendary Sword of King Arthur. Twins come to know that they are both born with magical potential that need to be unlocked so they can fight Dee and whatever his final agenda is. Now that their identities are revealed Dee wants to get hold of them as well. Some of these legends aid the twins and Nick, while some work against them in consort with Dee to capture the twins and the missing pages.

Thus continues the journey that brings out the best and worst in all of them - courage, goodness, jealousy, anger, bitterness, separation and above all will to fight everything and come out winning.  They have to not only stop Dee for using the Codex for his ulterior goal but also get the book back so they can rescue Perry and save both of them, for without the book Nick cannot create the formula to stay alive. The book ends with Nick, the Twins and Scathach travel to Paris for LA through Leygates while Perenelle is imprisoned in the abandoned Alcatraz guarded by The Sphinx, alive. Certainly promising another adventure in the next book.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For Review of Book 1 (The Land of Stories - The Wishing Spell), go here.

Stars: 4.5 / 5
My Recommendation: Absolutely for kids ages 10+ and above and adults who want to visit the fairy-tale land. ;)

The second book in the series of The Land Of Stories book was published in 2013. Chris Colfer takes us through the fairy-tale land again but this time there is a sinister evil that would seem to be undefeatable.



"My most scientific analysis, with all means of science and technology in mind, is that it's magic" - quoted Conner, one of Alex's earlier comments. Indeed it was magic in those lands there - some good, some evil. In this book as well, Alex and Conner Bailey - the twins - set on another magical adventure. However, this time they travel to get their mother back as well as fight to save both the worlds.

On the day when Bob, the doctor that Charlotte had been dating since a year or so, Charlotte goes missing. Fairy Godmother - The twins' grandmother - puts them on house arrest with Mother Goose and Xanthus - fire fairy - to watch over. Twins come to know that The Enchantress has kidnapped their mother from this world and taken her to the fairy-tale land. Why would someone kidnap their mother? How could someone other than few select fairies from fairy-tale land come into this world? To figure out the reasons behind, the Twins once again enter the fair-tale world.

They seek help of Froggy (aka Prince Charles Charming), Red Riding Hood aka Red, Goldilocks and Jack (famous for the Beanstalk and Giant). They learn that The Enchantress "Ezmia" is the evil witch who covets to gain both the worlds, but first she need to conquer this world. Ezmia has been systematically destroying each of the kingdoms in the Fairy-Tale Land thus trying to get the kings and queens to submit to her. Where does the role of Charlotte falls was still a huge question for the Twins. But, first they have to find out how to defeat Ezmia so their mother can be rescued. They look into the book "Myths, Legends and Collecting Spells" for a clue and find The Wand of Wonderment - the book mentions that whoever holds it will become invincible. They determine that it means that it can be used to stop Ezmia.

However to make The Wand of Wonderment one would need the six most prized possessions of the six most hated people in the world (aka the fairy-tale land). The little entourage of 6 people set out on this journey to acquire the different articles needed for the Wand. In the process they come across other fairy-tale characters and learn some hidden truths and some exposed lies. Will the journey give them what they want, free their mother and save both worlds? Well, read for yourself and see what happens next.

You will be surprised to know who really is Rumpelstiltskin, what was Snow Queen (from Snow White and Seven Dwarves) upto now, why has wicked stepmother behaved so badly towards Cinderella, how do Belle (of Beauty and the Beast) and the Beast relate to Sleeping Beauty, why is the Enchantress making all those spinning wheels, what made Enchantress so evil, who really is the singing harp that Jack found long ago in the Giant's castle up the Beanstalk and above all what is the most prized possession of Ezmia that will eventually cause her downfall. Oh not to forget the fate of Alex and Conner towards the end of the story - an interesting twist.

Just like any adventure, this book also comes with a few bumps. A whole chapter of Alex dreaming and trying to figure out the answer could have been removed. At times Conner is really side-lined by Alex. Would have been nice to give Conner the credit he is due for. Red really comes across obnoxious - perhaps the future books may tame her well - but it was getting under my nerves to read her character. Also there are three characters that Ezmia speaks of - Baker, Locksmith and Soldier - wonder which fairy-tales characters they would be related to. It would have been nice to see a connection on them too - perhaps the future books will shed light.

That said, another good book to pick up and enjoy the ride with Alex and Conner.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Published in 2008, this work by Nicholas Sparks was filmed in 2012 as well. As far as I know and those that I have read, this is the only book in which Sparks portrays fate and destiny. However, it's not like other fantasy novels where fate and destiny is inter-twined with magic or mystery, but stays much much closer to reality. However, one wonders if some magic is involved. :)



The story is about Logan Thibault, a U. S. Marine who walks across the United States in search of the girl in a photograph that he found in his tenure in Iraq. A photo that turns into a lucky charm for him, even saves him from death more than once. A conversation with his friend, Victor, puts him into this journey - search for the girl. Beginning at Colorado, accompanied by his dog Zeus, he eventually reaches North Carolina where he meets the girl from the picture.

Elizabeth "Beth" Green, divorced and with a son Ben, lives with her grandmother and running a dog kennel. Her ex-husband, Deputy Keith Clayton, has not been the best husband or father, and even after divorced interfered with their lives. Logan runs into Clayton in the outskirts of Hampton where he catches Clayton being particularly uncivilized with a few girls lounging there. The run-in does not leave a good taste in Clayton's mouth and he continues to confront Logan.

Logan is fighting his daemons, and so is Beth. Yet they fall for each other. However, Logan is holding back the actual reason he was staying in Hampton while Clayton figures it out and begins to use it against him to turn Beth's feelings. In all this mix, is the budding relationship between Logan and Ben. What follows is how Logan fights his daemons, how Beth commits to her heart, how Ben bonds to Logan and how they all stand together against Clayton.

Simple human emotions, complex relationships and emotional feelings twine through the plot making it another of Sparks romantic touch. Oh, I always cry buckets when I read his novels. But in this particular one I not only cried, but also felt one with the characters. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am sure the movie has been a pleasure to watch as well. The book I have is the re-print of the original when the movie was made.

However, I do wish Sparks goes beyond North Carolina in his books. All his books end in North Carolina and always one of the key character dies in the end. That routine in the plot is perhaps is his success since 11 of his 19 books have been made to movies, successful ones even. Yet, I do wish if he could expand a bit more. That said, like any Sparks novel, this is another charming one to be picked and read. Go for it!!

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: Yes, go for it!!
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For the review of Book I, go here.

The second and final book of The Majat Code series (at least I am thinking it is final), titled The Guild Of Assassins was also published in 2014. I liked the conclusion well, although expected it a bit. Another adventure into the fantasy world of The Guild and the lives of Aghat Mai and Aghat Kara indeed.



This book follows more on the fate of Aghat Mai and The Guild rather than about the empire and the King who is defending it against the Kaddim armies. Kara, a Diamond Majat, achieved freedom from the Guild. However in getting her freedom, Aghat Mai had committed a crime that is punishable according to The Guild. So he heads back to The Guild to face the music, so to speak. He comes with a high reputation that he had earned at a very young age with two blows named after his rune, Viper - Viper's Sting to kill the opponent and Viper's Kiss to save the opponent but have the onlookers to think it was deadly. His precision in technique and his strategy adds only to the power he wears as a cloak.

He returns to The Guild, but not alone. He is accompanies by Prince Kyth, Aghat Kara, Keeper Egey Bashi, Truth Seeker Ella and Mother Keeper. Although everyone arrives at The Guild in different paths, they still form a unit in defending Mai and Kara for the valuable services they have provided to the empire as well as their powers that can be used successfully against the Kaddim armies. The journey also reveals a lot of truth in the feelings within Kyth, Kara and Mai. Who truly loves whom and what the battle means in the end. Kara is confused about her pull towards Mai and her love or loyalty towards Kyth. Kyth is stubborn as hell that his infatuation is love and fails in many cases to see how that causes trouble to Kara. Mai restrains his feelings the betterment of The Guild. Yet they all unite to save the Empire and the Guild.

With ruthless politics, hidden agendas, killer strategies, forgotten code, mystery armies and confused hearts - all form the thread that weaves through the characters making it a complete plot.

As I mentioned in my previous review of Part I, the flaws still hold good here too. However one more point I want to add is the childish nature of Prince Kyth. He seems to forget at times that he is the Crown Prince and instead behaves like a 14 year old on hormone high. Although it was a good characterization in book 1, he doesn’t seem to have matured much until towards the end in book 2. Using Kara and her mis-guided feelings like a toy was not something I wanted to continue to see in book 2 as well. Although at the end he realizes and changes, but it would have been much better of the change had been shown early-on. This could have reduced the volume of the book further more.

All in all, another good book to pick up for those lazy days.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: To know the fate of Aghat Mai and The Guild, to travel through their world again, definitely pick it up.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

This is the first book the series written by Anna Kashina and published in 2014. I hadnt read any of her books before but something about this wanted me to try. Going in blindfolded, I can say I did love the theme,  plot, characters and the way the story flowed through.  A fantasy series that could potentially become an epic if tailored well and characters expanded more.



Prince Kythar Dorn - Kyth - has a secret gift, mastering the wind to his will, that if exposed would be the end of their legacy and rule. Yet he thrives to master it. Aghat Kara, a Diamond warrior of the Majat Guild, was serviced to protect Prince Kyth for a certain period of time. However when the tenure ends, Prince Kythar wants to retain her services but need to negotiate with her Guild. In the meantime they are attacked by Kaddim Tolos and his men to capture the Prince, whom they defeat despite the Orben weapons and the "power to defeat" possessed by Kaddim Tolos and his men. Mother Keeper, Magister Egey Bashi and King Evan have reason to feel panicked, not because there was an attempt to kidnap the heir but the ancient brotherhood of Kaddim has risen. They will stop at nothing to overpower this regime as they had done the Old Empire. For Kara, it’s a conflict between duty and honor but also love, a love that she fails to realize, or acknowledge.

A parallel story about Ella, the truth seeker, runs along where she has a fascination for Aghat Mai - the leader of King's Majat Pentade who protect the King. Will she seek the truth or love in the end? A journey that we also follow and root for her in whatever path she seeks. The story continues with similar plots that one must have seen in other books - of betrayal, of conquest, of love, of honor, of duty and facing consequences based on what you choose. However this is a well-woven plot that closes into a beautiful picture at the end. Needless to say there is a sequel to it to get a closure on the fate of Aghat Kara and the entire Majat Guild.

A few points to quote the negative sides of the book. First, the volume of the book - A few chapters and some repetitive descriptions could have shortened to make it a little more cohesive. Second, the romance portion - this book was put in the romance / mystery section in the book store. It should have been placed in the Fiction or Fantasy section instead to get its right audience. Third, character weaknesses are so misplaced in few occasions. If they could have been tweaked it would be a much better course. Fourth, scenic descriptions - A few times I felt that we were moving through the same lands and roads although the story says it otherwise. That disconnect definitely could have been corrected.

All in all a good book to pick up and not regret.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Don’t think it's another one of those books with warriors, ninjas, princes, magic, love  and war. You will be surprised. Do pick it up next time you come across
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Another book that I bought for its book cover was this book, City Bones - the first in The Mortal Instruments series - by Cassandra Clare. And for the comment by Stephanie Meyer on the top of the book. Perhaps this time my instincts failed. I wasn’t very impressed by the book, although it has been made to a movie now. Here’s my take on the book.



It was a very normal evening out with her friend for Clary Fray. She and her friend Simon went to the Pandemonium Club for a dance and some fun. Little did Clary know that the fun was about to turn into an adventure that she would have never dreamt of. She witnesses the murder of a vampire by three Shadowhunters whom she is the only one seems to be seeing them. No one else, not Simon not the bouncer or the people around. A first time encounter with three of the Shadowhunters - Jace, Isabelle and Alec - for Clary that changed the course of her life. Shortly after this encounter her mother, Jocelyn, vanishes; more like kidnapped by someone that she would need a lot of help from Shadowhunters to rescue her from. After a near-death escape from the daemons, Jace takes her to The Institute to unravel this mystery and aid her in finding her mom.

The story proceeds further revealing vampires aka downworlders, shadowhunters, daemons and the werewolves - pulling Clary further and further to this intriguing world. What happened to her mother? Who was Valentine? Why was he bent on taking Clary and her mother? Is she a Shadowhunter too? What is Luke, Joceyln's boyfriend, has anything to do with this? In finding answers to these questions, Clary also falls for Jace and shares her first kiss with him. But what is Jace to her? Will she sacrifice her feelings once she knows the truth? Simon, being a good friend and in love with Clary, follows her blindly everywhere, protecting her, rescuing her. What will become of his fate? What happens in the City of Bones?

Plot is interesting, intriguing and requires quite a bit of imagination for one to follow while reading it. However, there was a disconnect for me between the characters, lacked genuinity there. A bit gory for a book that targets teenagers. Didn’t like the fact about depicting incest love. However, I would still read the remaining books in the series for the sake of my principle and also hoping that the future books would redeem themselves of my opinion.

Stars: 2.5 / 5
My Recommendation: More of a read for adults over 20 years than a teenager. Interesting pick when you don’t have anything else to read.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

For the review on the first book, His Wicked Reputation, go here.

The second book in the Wicked Trilogy by Madeline Hunter is titled Tall, Dark and Wicked. Since I read the first one, I couldn’t resist myself to the read the next one to satisfy my curiosity. The trilogy follows with the story of Lord Ywain Hemingford - Ives - second and youngest legitimate son of the late Duke of Aylesbury.



He is a well-known barrister who fights on Her Majesty's side and more than often trying to keep his older brother, Lance - current Duke of Aylesbury, out of trouble. "Loyal, Good-humored, Intelligent, Uninhibited, Passionate and Accommodating" - just as he was pondering on the six qualities he jotted down that he would like to see in his mistress, gets interrupted by a curious case brought to him by one Padua Belvoir. She appeals to him to defend her estranged father who she believes is wrongly accused of a crime and also refuses to have someone defend him. Unfortunately for Padua, Ives had already been assigned to this case but as a prosecutor. However, he does insist on helping her in any way he could except the way she wants.

What follows is the cat and mouse chase between the culprits and the law in trying to prove Padua's father's innocence, between Ives and Padua in exploring the sparks that ignited during their first meet, between Her Majesty's laws and Ives personal ethics, between the accidental involvement of her father in a brothel place and it being just a false front for something bigger. In all this, Ives realizes Padua is everything he want in as his mistress fulfilling all the six qualities he had written down, but does he still want her as his mistress or more. What is he secret Padua's father is holding or whoever is holding on him that is making him to refuse any help. Is all this linked to whoever killed Percy, Ives oldest brother. Does it lead to the confirmation or dis-abandonment of the rumor.

Read through the book to know more. I guarantee it would be a fun ride with lots of interesting avenues explored. **Wicked Grin**

Stars: 3.5 / 5
My Recommendation: If you are interested in romance novels and set in periods / eras, then this is definitely the book to go to.
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones for 21st Century items - Season II

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

Introduction of the series in my words, go here.
My take on Season I, go here.

My obsession with this period set detective series continues to the second season. In each of these episodes we get to glimpse the inventions and discoveries to modern world, meet with famous people and solve interesting murders.



Episode 1: Murdoch investigates a murder when Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and the enitre troupe come to Toronto for their performances. Murdoch introduces the concept of collecting trace evidence like hair, dust, particles, etc. He uses a rudimentary form of applying glue over pieces of wax paper and collecting them, bagging and tagging them. Constable Crabtree uses the similar concept to create something similar to scotch tape, although he calls it as "Constable Crabtree's Household Adhesive strips" (obviously a name that would have been abbreviated. :))

Episode 2: Murdoch demonstrates his invention of a torch light that emits UV Light which would in future be the best equipment to see evidence of fluids and any other external liquids or finger prints at a crime scene that we normally cannot see with naked eye. The Scotland Yard detective who joins Murdoch in this case presents a game of Snakes and Ladders to the constables whose Checkers game he had destroyed out of frustration. It becomes a rave at the precinct much to the delight of everyone except for Inspector Brackenreid.

Episode 3: Murdoch demonstrates the concept of Rontgen's Rays, also called as X-Rays, to see thru solid objects. His equipment is really elaborate....it amazes how easy it is to use them now. The episode ends with Murdoch in future where he sees himself with a family in the same area where this crime was committed. A future with cars but still past for this time of the world we are in in the series.

Episode 4: This episode Murdoch comes face to face with Houdini, a younger version, when he was yet to become famous.

Episode 5: One gets to see the "Electric Carriage" which is described as one of the first in the city. Murdoch calls it, "That's quite a contraption."

Episode 6: The word “hunch” gets introduced into the Detective Murdoch’s dictionary. Constable Crabtree mentions that it's what young people were using lately. :)

Episode 7: In the beginning of the episode Detective Murdoch experiments based on principles used by Mongol Warriors in the 13th century where they had the ability to not get affected by arrows. Towards the end we get to see his self-made Bullet Proof Vest based on the same principle. Per his explanation, it contains layers and layers and layers of silk and for extra measure surrounded by a metal plate.

Episode 8: Cyanide is frequently referred to as Prussic Acid in this episode; it's chemical name. It also shows Murdoch working on the murder of a professor who was building his own Babbage’s Analytical Engine which could solve complex mathematical problems at a speed far beyond human. This would be perhaps predecessor for our computers now. One of the suspect also demonstrates the first film projector manufactured by Thomas Edison. They also show about a company manufacturing Automatons AKA Robots but not perfected yet as the dead professor was working on making it to think, analyze and react.

Episode 9: Detective Murdoch is seen working on creating a pair of goggles that he can use to see at night. Incidentally Inspector Brackenreid calls it Night Vision Goggles…which pretty much is the modern name.

Episode 10: The episode shows a network of telegraph operators and explains how they are interconnected, communicate and chat. Another predecessor to modern day internet and world wide web. Has the whole technology of internet based on this old system of communication? Perhaps…

Episode 12: The episode ends with Detective Murdoch giving a book called “From the earth to the moon” to a kid and explains the possibility of building something that could take them to moon. He does mention that perhaps it may happen in future, not in his lifetime but in the kid’s lifetime. And we know we have seen that happening in early 20th century the same - man stepping foot on the moon.

Episode 13: Aluminum is first introduced in this episode as the new metal revolutionizing in manufacturing. And century later we use it everywhere…for good or for worse. The beginnings of human mannerisms being used in investigation is also demonstrated. And we get to see them flying in a hot air balloon, a massive one indeed.

Stars: 4/5
My Recommendation: A must watch
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Heather Graham was another author that I got an opportunity to meet at Romance Writers Association's Annual meet in NYC last year. She was very charming and patient with everyone in answering their questions. I remember one lady taking away all her time even after the event was done, but she did not shoo her away. Instead gave that lady her extra attention. It humbled me at that gesture.  She writes books as Heather Graham, Heather Graham Pozzessere and Shannon Drake. However, I don’t remember reading any of her books. Now that I met her, I gave a shot at reading the signed copy of The Silenced I got from her that day.



The Silenced is the 15th book in the Krewe of Hunters series published in 2015. Krewe are a secret FBI unit, the members of which know a little of the otherworldly. Each member of the unit has honed a particular psychic talent of their own making them the paranormal investigating team. Headed by Adam Harrison, this Krewe had aided different law enforcement agencies in solving cases that involved paranormal activities.



Meg Murray, an FBI agent newbie, gets assigned to special agent Matt Bosworth, a member from Krewe, when her childhood friend Lara goes missing. Lara Mayhew was working as Congressman Ian Walker's media assistant at the time of her missing. The last thing Meg heard of her was a brief message that she was leaving Washington and heading home back to Richmond. Meg and Matt also come to know that the day she went missing she had resigned from her job too. At the same time Krewe team come across a flurry of bodies washing up on the sides of Potomac River, seemingly a work of a serial killer.

Meg's suspicions begin to take better of her and fears that Lara might have been taken by this serial killer. Together they trace the same path that Meg and Lara had taken several times, traveling from Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg, visiting battlefields and graveyards. In the process they try to uncover hidden secrets, come across otherworldly creatures and getting closer to each other as well. All their attempts of finding Lara before its too late puts them right in the path of the serial killer.


How they will move past the serial killer in finding Lara, uncover the truth of scandal in the Congressman's office and bring justice is the rest of the story. A spine-chilling narration that kept me up quite a few nights. Well written by Heather Graham. Most definitely I will be exploring her other works as well.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Yes, pick it up for a mystery involving paranormal activities.
Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, angels and humans.

Archangel's Shadows is the 7th book in the Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh, a New Zealand author of Indian descent. I have never read any of her books prior to this one. Last year at the  Romance Writer's Association Annual Meeting in NYC, I got an opportunity to meet her. She was very pleasant to meet with, all decked in ravishing red. :) And I acquired this signed book that day. Since I had it, I ended up reading it.



At first I thought, Oh great! Another novel on vampires and demons. But I put on a positive thought  and continued to read. The series is written in a world which was ruled by archangels, commanding both mortals and immortals alike. Guild Hunters are the soldiers caught in between immortals and mortals, protecting both from rogue vampires, archangels and even humans.  Ashwini Taj, Ash, the mortal Guild Hunter pairs up with Javier, a two-hundred and forty seven year old vampire in this book.



A battle between archangels had occurred and New York had barely survived it. Now the city was recovering as well Ash who got sliced up in the battle. She gets assigned to a case of missing animals in Vampire Quarters along with Javier. What seemed to be a simple case of animals missing or being desiccated turns out to be otherwise when they get tasked by an Angel, Illium (aka Bluebell), of a vampire misusing his cattle - meaning his human blood donors living with him. Initially they accept to look into it assuming it to be a disgruntled donor complaining against the vampire but when Janvier's friend , Felicity, goes missing as well. Ash and Javier move into the deeper world of Vampire Quarter to ferret out the killer bringing justice to Felicity and other human donors. In the meanwhile they fight the attraction they have towards each other, something that is not possible to explore on considering one of them is an immortal. And there are secrets they hold dear to their heart as well that when revealed may cause unbearable consequences.

A parallel plot proceeds along where the Archangel Raphael, his consort Elena and his second in command Dmitri deal with the archangelic politics, helping the people of New York city deal with the aftermath of the battle and working towards bringing the remaining archangels under one roof in unity.

Will the Archangels unite under Raphael, for not at least? Will Ash and Javier bring justice to Felicity? What are the secrets they hold that might cause unbearable consequences? Will they be able to surpass it and find the love they have been fighting for so long? Will the Archangel Raphael and Dmitri succeed in calming the battered city? Well, read the book to find the answers.  A plot with several twists but easy to follow even if you havent read the series from the beginning. Adding this book to my library and marked for future to pick the series from the beginning, and perhaps other books by Nalini Singh. Enjoy the read!!
Murdoch Mysteries: Famous Personalities, Inventions and Stepping Stones to 21st Century items - Season I

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a TV Show review.
Prologue: Go here.

I introduced this series in my reviews a while ago here. Here is the second post in the series highlighting some of the famous personalities, inventions and stepping stones to 21st Century. This is from Season I, enjoy the read and perhaps you might want to watch the series as well.



Episode 1: Conversion of DC to AC is introduced in this episode albeit it's called Niagara Current. We catch a glimpse of Beginnings of Animal Rights Activists when a lady fights for the dog that was being used in the demonstration of conversion from DC to AC. Detective Murdoch meets the great inventor Nikola Tesla who was the spearhead in developing Alternating Current. Tesla demonstrates the first Telegraph across the seas. Interesting conversation occurs between Tesla and Murdoch about sending voice and images over waves leading them to call it telakinetiscope when Tesla says, "Too many syllables. Call it Tela-Vision. Huh!". The episode also shows the first Surveillance equipment where Tesla and Murdoch invent a huge box that they use to record the killer being blackmailed by the agent of police. Towards the closure of the episode, Dr. Ogden says, "So, is the Case Closed? It's a good expression. Case Closed. It's strong. I should remember it" - Perhaps the first time the expression came up as well. The episode closes with usage of Telegraph from New York to Toronto.
About remaining episodes behind the cut...Collapse )


Stars: 4/5
My Recommendation: Very interesting watch!!

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