Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review: Point Of Control

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Title: Point Of Control
Author: Drake Green
Genre: Fiction, Crime

Rating: 3.8/5

Point Of Control by Drake Green is a first book in the Bogota Private Eye series. The book is set in Bagota, Columbia and is about the crimes and tragic events that take place there.

Anders Neyman, an American, is an English teacher in Bagota. He is yet to get used to the violent ways of the Colombians when he notices a series of kidnappings and finds himself a suspect in one of them when one of his own students goes missing. Together with Detective Rafael Sandoval, an ex army man named Darius and Miguel, whose wife is among the kidnapped, they set out on a mission to rescue the abducted women. Overcoming risky situations, they move on from one indication to the other. A few lives are lost despite their efforts but that only makes them more determined and Anders vows to save as many women as he can. But when circumstances turn against them, Anders wonders if he has bitten more than he can chew. 

Straight out, I liked the book. It paints a vivid picture of the situation in Colombia. The story travels on a good pace that speeds up after every chapter. It ends with an exciting, action packed climax. The story is inspired by the personal experiences of the author himself who has lived in Bagota. Through this book, he successfully puts across his encounters in an interesting way. The book is about the fight against the mafia, guerrillas, drug use etc. and the challenges faced by the common people who are caught between the good and the evil.

The characters of Anders, Darius and Sandoval are well sketched with their background explained beautifully. They come on as strong, determined men. Each of the characters has been given enough context for the reader to comprehend their mind set. Especially Anders. There is a place in the story when Anders doubts himself but after some thought, he pushes forward with all that he has got. Also, the story behind Darius is very moving. Then there are the action sequences which are tastefully done. These are the parts of the story that I especially appreciated. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book although I thought the end could have been better. The revelation of the kidnapper was a no brainer, according to me. But otherwise, I would recommend this book to all, especially for its action sequences. 

*** This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. ***

Friday, January 27, 2017

Author Interview : Prashant Yadav

Prashant Yadav

The Jeera Packer, a recently released contemporary fiction, is gathering great responses by its readers. Here is Prashant Yadav, the author, shedding some light about his debut novel.

Q1. Congratulations on your debut novel, Prashant! How does it feel to have your work published and received with raving reviews?

A: It feels great. Seeing the book in print is a high - something that was just a warm idea in your head in a form people can touch, smell and read it.
The reviews have been great and it’s been an awesome feeling. It gives me a a lot of strength to dig deeper for my future works and have crazier fun because unless you have fun creating something, your readers won’t have fun reading it.

Q2. Absolutely. So, what is The Jeera Packer all about?

A: It is a layered story operating at several levels. At one level, it is about all of us who want to do cool, exciting stuff but have to stick to our boring routine and unfulfilling jobs just to keep paying bills. It is also about peer comparison and coping with the success of those you didn’t think deserved it. It’s also about lost opportunities and that one last shot at glory. Then, it is also about identifying what is really important in life and how to focus on the right things.
It’s a deeply felt personal story, touches upon everyone’s existentialist angst rolled in the context of UP politics and fun characters.

Q3. How did you begin writing?

I always loved writing. During my school days, my English teacher would read out my exam essays to classes two years senior to me. I wrote in Hindi during IIT days, won the best author and also edited their Hindi magazine. During IIM days, I wrote campus gossip columns which people liked. Post that, I kept writing occasional short pieces and maintained a blog though not very regular.
So, the love for writing continued and then it became strong enough to force me to write a novel length work.

Q4. What prompted you to write a book on this topic/genre?

The desire to start a company, to paint, to start a rock band or to travel the world is very common - you talk to anyone near the office water cooler or the roadside chai shop - everyone wants to quit their jobs one day and do what really makes them happy. But, very few manage to do that. The book started with that universal feeling.
Then, around that time, I was facing tough time in my entrepreneurship. So, while I’d be waiting for the next payment or the next nod from the customer, Facebook would show me pictures of my classmates vacationing in Switzerland - even as I’d have to think twice even before making a weekend trip to Rishikesh. And, some of those classmates, with all due respect to them, I thought were far less capable than me. It was stupid of me, even petty, but that’s how it was then. So, the entire angst of seeing people of less capability (whatever that means) doing better than you originated from there.

In a way, I channelized my entrepreneurial depression into this book.

Q5. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I am reading Charles Bukowski and am in total love with him. I loved Shantaram and A Case of Exploding Mangoes (Mohammed Hanif) and I consider these two (Gregory David Roberts and Mohd Hanif) as my first gurus in fiction writing. Loved Lolita by Nabokov, Chuck Palahniuk, Stephen King. Liked “The Truth About Harry Quebert Affair”. NN Taleb is another writer I love reading.

Q6. Will your next book be in the same genre and when can we expect it?

I can’t think genres. For me, the unit is the story. The next one is about something that is very close to my heart - essentially this whole man woman dynamics - the interplay of patriarchy-misogyny and sexism. The question that I am trying to ask is - the human female is perhaps the most exploited, abused, vulnerable and defenceless of all females across all species in the animal world despite all our superior knowledge and sensibilities, social norms, justice, law and law enforcement to protect them. Is it that all of this is insincere? Or is it designed to keep women subjugated - using every method from subtle everyday signals, daily psychological conditioning to the most brutal form of violence? The central theme being there is a war out there between genders and the women have lost the war, been captured as prisoners of war and don’t even realize it.

Well, I certainly am looking forward to your next book, Prashant. Thank you for being here at Book Vue and all the very best for your future works!

There is a current giveaway for The Jeera Packer on Goodreads.
Buy The Jeera Packer from here

Reach the Author:

Twitter: @pr_ashantyadav

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cover Reveal : The Truth About Love

The Truth About Love
By Anna Bloom
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 8 February, 2017

Check out this gorgeous cover for Anna Bloom's new contemporary romance, The Truth About Love, releasing 8th February, 2017.  I can't wait to get my greedy hands on this one!

Eve Harris has always had a point to prove: where you come from doesn't matter, it's what you aim for that counts. She's got it all planned; find the perfect teaching job and live with her best friend, Cherry, and never ever get dragged back into the destructive world of her youth.
The last thing she expects is to bump into billionaire heir Cameron Wallis on her last day on campus. Nor is she expecting to find that when she gives him a chance to win her over he's nothing at all the playboy the newspapers paint him to be.
Will Eve be able to let go of her judgements and embrace a spontaneous affair with Cam that isn't part of her plan? Or will the constraints of both their families prevent Cam and Eve from finding The Truth About Love?
The Truth About Love Vol.I is the first installment in a serial about finding love even when you're least expecting it (but can be read as a standalone).

Connect with Anna 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Review: Kohinoor - The Story of the World's Most Infamous Diamond

Download the e-book from Juggernaut here  
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Title: Kohinoor- The Story of the World's Most Infamous Diamond
Author: William Dalrymple and Anita Anand
Genre: History

Rating: 4.5/5

"Why did it have to end?", was precisely my thought as I finished the last page in the book. I am being unconventional here by giving away my impression of this book right at the start but it just goes to show how much I appreciated it. Kohinoor - The Story of the World's Most Infamous Diamond is authored by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand and, before I even get to the summary I have to say, it is a must read.

The book is not a mere recitation of what conspired with the diamond, but is supported by valid documentation and references to assist the narrative. The book is divided into two major parts. The first one is a tale narrated by William Dalrymple describing the pre-historical journey of the Kohinoor. He begins with the attempt to trace its origin and ends at the time when it reached the hands of the Mughals. In the second part, Anita Anand tells us how the diamond found its way to its present location, England after being taken away from the possession of the Sikhs.

According to the book, the origin of the Kohinoor or The Mountain Of Light, as translated in Persian, is still uncertain but it is believed to have originated from South India where gems and precious stones of such extravagance were said to have been in use to decorate idols in temples. The Kohinoor, among other brilliant stones, made its way to the Mughal treasury and it was considered to be one of the most valuable possessions. And so bedazzled was Shah Jahan by its size and beauty that he got it embedded in his grand peacock throne. India's gems and diamonds, particularly the Kohinoor, were so popular, that the Afghan ruler, Nadir Shah, couldn't keep his hands off and took the throne, along with the diamond, back to his kingdom.

The story continues further and the fate of the glorious diamond was such that it was tucked away for years in a crack of a prison holding cell and also was ignorantly used as a paperweight before reaching the hands of the Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After many deaths and the destruction of the Sikh empire that followed, the diamond was finally taken away by the Britishers from the hands of the boy king, Duleep Singh and was sent off to England, to awe Queen Victoria.

The original diamond is said have a strange shape and it was re cut to its current form after the English didn't find it appeasing enough. As a result, the size of the Kohinoor was compromised. Throughout the course of the journey, the diamond is said to have been auspicious for some, cursed for others. The thought of possessing this brilliant stone was so compelling that it caused conflicts and discord wherever it went, to the extent of bringing entire kingdoms down.

The book is absorbing and retold as accurately as possible, with notes and photographs attached wherever applicable. The narrative is extremely engaging and the reader gets carried  away into the mysterious and rich history through India, Persia, Afghanistan and England.  History comes alive and it is indeed an enticing tale of the ill famous diamond that now sits in the Tower of London, giving hope to the people of its return to its original land.

I say it again, it is a must read. Highly recommended.

*** This book was sent to me by Juggernaut in exchange for an honest review. ***

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree

Title: In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree
Author: Micahel A Mclellan
Genre: Fiction, American History
Pages: 178
Publisher: Sweet Candy Press
Release Date: 27 January, 2017

Rating: 4/5

In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree is the third book by Michael A Mclellan. It is due to release on the 27th of January 2017. The book is set on the part of American history when the Civil War had just come to an end. It touches some of the sensitive issues such as racism and slavery apart from the clash between the Americans and the Red Indians.

Henry is a black man whose has been a slave all his life. He and Eliza, his wife, want to leave their terrible lives behind to start afresh. They plan to escape to the north and find jobs since slavery has been abolished. Hiding from the white men, they travel on foot but tragedy strikes as they are spotted. Meanwhile, John Elliot, a young cadet in the military falls in love with his father's enemy's daughter, Clara. Strings are pulled and John is sent off to Dakota, far away from his love. As John begins his work in the Dakota territory, he discovers a government conspiracy that involves the elimination of the Indians for the convenience of the big American expansion. When Clara comes to know of her father's involvement in John's departure, she leaves her father's house in search of John. Henry is rescued by the Cheyenne people after an accident and as he begins to understand them, he realizes that they are kind and humane as opposed to what as being broadcasted by the white men. Henry and John, come together as one to fight the hate war representing the only side that matters - humanity.

This was my first time reading about American history and it was definitely refreshing. The narration is well paced with lots of emotions, which I personally appreciated. The book throws light on the exploitation of the Red Indians, racism and the resultant miserable lives of the slaves. And also the tragic consequences of it all. But what the reader takes away from the book is the consolation that despite the wars and regardless of their race, there were heroes to save humanity during such trying times in history.

The character of Henry comes on as a powerful one and is my favorite. The miseries and tragedies of his life makes him strong and brave but nevertheless, compassionate. Henry is torn between helping the white and the Indians, but ultimately chooses the path of justice.

In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree is a touching story with an action packed climax. The author sends out a strong reminder of our past. It is sad that so much has been endured, so much has been lost in the name of race, money and development. But as we know through examples from history, freedom doesn't come without sacrifices.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.

Catch the author's interview here.

*** This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. ***

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ice : A Farooq Reshi Investigation

Download this book from Juggernaut here

Title: Ice : A Farooq Reshi Investigation
Author: Praveen Swami
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Crime

Rating: 3.5/5

Ice by Praveen Swami was sent to me by Juggernaut. It is one of their December 2016 releases. The author is an expert on Islamic terrorism and a senior editor at the Indian Express.

The book is set in the Kargil mountains where Superintendent Farooq Reshi is stationed. Two bodies are found in a cave in the mountains and, as is the case with every murder in the valley, the needle points towards the Lashkar terrorists. But when Farooq tries to get to the bottom of the case, he stumbles on something that reveals a lot more.

The book is a very short read, all of 63 pages. The narrative is casual, to the point and blunt. The author has bared the simple, stark reality of the beautiful but disturbed valley. He, candidly, explains the life of the locals, their mentality and also of the army personnel stationed in Kargil. The book suffices to paint you a picture on the mentality on some naive turned sly occupants of the valley due to the high stress situation. One thing that strikes the most to me as a reader is that, you really cannot blame them for their outlook.

I will not say that Ice is a fantastic read and it focuses only on the one case but it seems like there is a sequel in the making. It would be interesting to see how that turns out.

If you are looking for a quick read, set on the current situation in Kashmir, then this is for you.

*** This book was sent to me by Juggernaut in exchange for an honest review. ***

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Author Interview : Michael Mclellan

Image Courtesy: Michael Mclellan

Michael Mclellan's new book In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree is slated for release towards the end of January, 2017. While his previous books After and Again and American Flowers were in the adventure/reality genre, this is the first time he has dabbled in historical fiction. Let us get straight to the interview.

Q1. Hello and welcome, Michael. Let me start by asking what the book is about?

Thank you for having me, Chitra.
The story is a fictional account chronicling the early life of a slave who is freed at the beginning of the American Civil War. Finding himself on the run from Confederate militiamen, he flees west where he befriends a tribe of Native Americans. He eventually attempts to interfere with a plot by the U.S. Government to eliminate the natives as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Q2. What were the challenges you faced while writing this book?

Making sure that the book was as historically accurate as possible was the biggest challenge. This is my first historical fiction piece and I wanted the parts where actual historical figures and events were used to feel real to the reader. I did a lot of research. Hopefully my diligence shows in the work.

Q3. What led you to write such a book?

Your first question was What is the story about, and I told you the basics, but what it's ultimately about is racism and inequality. As far as we've come as human beings, this is something that we still haven't eliminated. I felt compelled to consider the topic in a novel, and having some Native American lineage prompted me to write in that particular time and place. Sadly, I could have written a similar piece, in any time period, at any location on Earth, and it still would have had the same impact.

Q4. How did you begin writing?

I started out as a folk musician and songwriter years ago. I also dabbled in poetry. Deep inside, though, I always wanted to write books. I had a few false starts over the years. Finally, by 2013, I'd developed enough discipline to actually do it. I made a lot of mistakes, and learned from them. Now I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

Q5. Who are your favorite authors?

Cormac McCarthy, Harper Lee, John Steinbeck, Stephen King, and Beverly Cleary.

Q6. Will your next book be in the same genre? When can we expect it?

No. Not the next one. The next one is a contemporary novel about a teenager who ends up on the streets after his parents are both killed in tragic accidents. I'm hoping to have it ready for release this summer. I am certainly interested in writing another book set in 19th century America. Maybe for next year.

Thank you Michael and we all wish you all the very best for your new book!

Read my review of the book here.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Cover Reveal - In The Shadow of the Hanging Tree

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree
By Michael McLellan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: January 2017

Henry was born into slavery; his young life spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.

Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.

Henry finds himself caught in the middle.

Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.

Read my review of the book here.

About the Author

Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he
was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen
King, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed
blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and
compelling topics to life.

Michael lives in Northern California, and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found
wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.

His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers,
and the shorts Joe Price and Anywhere But Here. Michael’s newest novel, In The Shadow of the
Hanging Tree, is expected to be published in January 2017 by Sweet Candy Press.

Read the author's interview here.

Author’s Website:
On Facebook:
On Goodreads:
Publisher: Sweet Candy Press

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