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The-Silkworm-by-Robert-Galbraith-aka-JK-Rowling-book-coverName: The Silkworm

Author:  Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)

Genre : Detective fiction

Series: Cormoran Strike, #2

Pages : 454 pages

Publication Year:  June, 2014

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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What do you need in a detective story? Or let me put it in another way, what do you expect in a detective story? A brutal murder, usual and unusual suspects, crime scene, clues leading to the murderer and a detective along with his side kick running against time to catch the real killer. Isn’t that all we expect in a detective fiction? You will find all this and more in J. K. Rowling’s (a.k.a Robert Galbraith) book #2 in Cormoran Strike series.

Cormoran Strike is an ex-military who lost his leg in Afghanistan now turned to a private investigator, after solving the Lula Landry case, his business has improved and getting steady stream of divorce cases and the occasional job on behalf of a tabloid journalist.

Strike one day gets an unexpected visit by  Leonora Quine with plea to locate her missing husband, a well-known author Owen Quine, who has disappeared without a trace. While investigating the disappearance of Owen, Strike finds out that this not the first time he disappeared and he has a habit of going out or vanishing for couple of weeks and suddenly returning one day. That’s the reason Owen’s wife contacted Strike not police because once she did contact police but he came back the other day and both police and Owen was very angry with her.

As Strike progress with the investigation of Owen, he comes across with the latest unpublished novel Owen wrote before his disappearance named “Bombyx mori” which if made public will reveal the dark and hidden secrets of almost everyone he knew in the publishing industry including some very big authors and publishers.

When Strike finds the mutilated and horrifically murdered body of Owen and from the way he has been murdered, it’s pretty clear that murder has to be one of the guys who’s secretes Owen tried to reveal in his gothic like fiction “Bombyx mori”.  Hence the number of suspects are being reduced to very few persons and Rowling reveals all the facts as we progress in the story – the relations of Owen with authors and publishers, his sadistic sex life and his passion for getting media attention.

In this book the flow of story has become smooth and characters looks matured and confident and as we all know J.K. Rowling is pretty good story-teller. The story has depth and good plot with some great twists and turns. Apart from investigating Owen case, we also see that both the main character Strike and Robin are struggling in their personal live’s. Strike is broken-up with his girlfriend charlotte who is not getting married to another guy and Robin is having troubles with her fiance Matthew – who doesn’t like her working with Strike whereas Robin constantly trying patch-up between his fiance and strike.

Rowling’s The Silkworm has all the ingredients one need in detective fiction and I am looking forward to next novel in Cormoran Strike series. I will recommend this book to everyone who loves crime/mystery/detective fiction.

Excerpt from book:

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . .

Wise-Fool-Baghdad-3d-Cover-Image-transparent-800_grandeName: The Wise Fool of Baghdad

Author:  Mohammed Ali Vakil 

Genre : Comics, Sufism

Series: Sufi Comics #01

Pages : 132 pages

Publication Year:  2012

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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Awesome book and a must read for all. This book has great sufi stories of Wāhab ibn Amr (واهب ابن عمرو) also known as Bahlūl which means “Wise Fool” who lived in the time of the Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd. He was well known judge and scholar who came from a wealthy background.

This book is beautifully written by Mohammed Ali Vakil with amazing illustration by  Rahil Mohsin.  A must read book for all who wants to read real life and inspirational Sufi teaching of Wāhab ibn Amr who is also knwon as known as Bahlūl which means “Wise Fool”.

To know why and how he became Bahlul (Wise Fool) and other great stories of Bahlul, do read this book.

You can buy a digital kindle edition from Amazon.com, here is the direct link: The Wise Fool of Baghdad.

64bc225b9da0c2a9a3abb010.LName: Dune Messiah

Author:  Frank Herbert

Genre : Science fiction novel

Series: Dune Chronicles, #2

Pages : 256 pages

Publication Year: 1969

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

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Dune Messiah is the second book in dune chronicles series. This book start after twelve years of the events of the first book Dune.

You can find the review of Dune chronicles book 1 – “Dune” here.

Unlike “Dune” which deals with a prophecy, noble houses, controlling Arrakis home to a very rare & most valued spice known a melange and revolution brought by Atreides in Arrakis and fulfillment of Fremen prophecy of coming of Mahdi, this second book deals with personal struggle of Paul Atreides – most powerful emperor ever ruled and conspiracy to topple Paul as emperor.

In a way Dune Messiah is the compilation of first book Dune, you can say it’s part two of book 1 instead of saying sequel or separate book. If you read both books – you will realize that this book brings a perfect conclusion to the events started in Dune.

Paul Atreides is now in control of Arrakis and most importantly the spice melange without which the Guild steersman cannot navigate the space, without which the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood would lose there power, without which millions people could die from withdrawal and without which Arrakis won’t be so valuable planet.

History is evident that when someone holds such a power (melange) their always will be someone who wants that power for themselves. The Melange is more than a power its drug without which the Guild and Bene Gesserit Sisterhood would be powerless. So they all along with Scytale – A Face Dancer (Tleilaxu Face Dancers had the ability to take on the physical appearance of other individuals.) hatch a conspiracy to topple the governance of Atreides.

The Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale gives Paul a gift he cannot resist: a Tleilaxu-grown ghola of the deceased Duncan Idaho, Paul’s childhood teacher and friend, now called “Hayt” with a mission to kill Paul at an appropriate time.

Overall the book is excellently written and great conclusion to the events started in book 1 of Dune.

Some great quotes from the book:

  • “Truth suffers from too much analysis.”
  • “I have said: “Blow out the lamp! Day is here!” And you keep saying: “Give me a lamp so I can find the day.”
  • “Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny,” Paul said. “They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations.”
  • “There was a man so wise, He jumped into
    A sandy place
    And burnt out both his eyes!
    And when he knew his eyes were gone,
    He offered no complaint.
    He summoned up a vision
    And made himself a saint.
    -Children’s Verse
    from History of Muad’dib”

Excerpt from book:

Paul Atreides, ruler of a thousand planets, great victor of a holy war, prince turned revolutionary leader, messiah of a fanatical religious sisterhood, is to be brought low by the very forces that created him. Yet foreseeing the plans of his enemies, he determines to drive on towards his own, shockingly different, vision of the future.

 

brassverdictName: The Brass Verdict

Author:  Michael Connelly 

Genre : crime fictionmystery, legal thriller

Series: Mickey Haller #2Harry Bosch #14

Pages : 422 pages pages

Publication Year: October 14, 2008

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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It’s been over a year since the events of The Lincoln Lawyer, attorney Mickey Haller has spent a year recuperating from his wounds and addiction to pain killers. Now he is planning  to get back to law practice slowly.

One fine day when he was planning to get back to work again, he gets a call from senior judge telling him that his colleague Jerry Vincent is dead, shot in his car twice. Judge informs him that Vincent has appointed him to take over his practice if anything was to happen to him.

Haller all of sudden from o cases, he gets 31 active cases of Jerry Vincent. Though most the cases are straight forward except one, the high-profile case of Walter Elliott, a Hollywood mogul accused of murdering his wife Mitzi and her German lover.

Meanwhile, maverick LAPD detective Harry Bosch, the main character in the several other novels written by Michael Connelly is investigating the case of Jerry Vincent’s murder. Harry Bosch warns Haller that the killer may come after him and the mystery murderer may be one of the clients Vincent handled.  While Haller is busy preparing for double murder trial, he also curies about the behavior of his new client  Walter Elliott who don’t want trial to be prolonged and somehow is sure that he will win the trial. Elliott tells Haller that Vincent told him that he found some “magic bullet” which will make Elliott win but as killer took his laptop along with some major files, Haller has to found “Magic Bullet” for himself to solve the case and watch over his shoulder for as killer is still out there.

This is the first Michael Connelly which I read after watching the movie The Lincoln Lawyer, being a huge fan of legal thriller and John Grisham, I was looking for someone who call fill the void till next Grisham novel comes out and luckily I found Connelly and to my surprise he is as good as Grisham.

The Brass Verdict is excellently plotted book with great character development and perfect suspense to keep you reading till the last page. You won’t feel bored for a single second while reading the book. I highly recommend this book to all John Grisham fans as well as those who like Mystery/Suspense/Legal thrillers.

Excerpt from book:

Things are finally looking up for defense attorney Mickey Haller. After two years of wrong turns, Haller is back in the courtroom. When Hollywood lawyer Jerry Vincent is murdered, Haller inherits his biggest case yet: the defense of Walter Elliott, a prominent studio executive accused of murdering his wife and her lover. But as Haller prepares for the case that could launch him into the big time, he learns that Vincent’s killer may be coming for him next.

Enter Harry Bosch. Determined to find Vincent’s killer, he is not opposed to using Haller as bait. But as danger mounts and the stakes rise, these two loners realize their only choice is to work together.

Bringing together Michael Connelly’s two most popular characters, The Brass Verdict is sure to be his biggest book yet.

 

9780340899298Name: The Alexandria Link

Author:  Steve Berry 

Genre : Historical Fiction

Series: Cotton Malone #2

Pages : 480 pages pages

Publication Year: January 30th 2007

Is Review Spoiler: Yes

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)

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The Alexandria Link is the second book in the Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry. As the name suggests this book revolves around finding the lost library of Alexandra Library of Alexandria.

This book goes in line with Dan Brown’s ‘The DaVinci Code’ in a sense that it also involves a high stake treasure hunt by male protagonist and a female side kick. As in DaVinci, here also protagonist is persuaded by the merciless villains who wants the treasure for themselves to accomplish there sinister agenda.

Library of Alexandria is always remained a mystery for the treasure hunters and everyone want’s know the fate of library. Is it still exists? or is any scrolls or books present in library still somehow survived?

In 642 AD, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al `Aas. It’s said that the library is destroyed by the orders of Caliph Omar (R.A), The longest version of the story is in the Syriac Christian author Bar-Hebraeus (1226–1286), also known as Abu’l Faraj. He translated extracts from his history, the Chronicum Syriacum into Arabic, and added extra material from Arab sources. In this Historia Compendiosa Dynastiarum[20] he describes a certain “John Grammaticus” (490–570) asking Amr for the “books in the royal library.” Amr writes to Omar for instructions, and Omar replies: “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.” [Wikipedia]

Whatever the fate of library, Steve Berry here tried to weave the formation of Israel with Old Testament, stating that the Old Testament was mistranslated from it’s orginal Hebrew and the verse about the promised land of Jews is not referring to Palestine but it’s somewhere else and Jews occupation of Palestine land and formation Israel is illegal.

To reveal the actual location of the promised land – Cotton Malone has to race against time find the lost library of Alexandria before anyone else finds it and if actual locations is revealed it may involve greater conflicts between Jews, Christian and Muslims.

At times the book is enjoyable but if you have read Dan Brown or any other religious fiction books, at the middle of the book you will find it hard to digest the facts presented and special about the promised land being Saudi Arabia, though many facts contrary to that has been historically proved.

If you are a Steve Berry fan or like religious fiction, you may like this book but if you are Dan Brown fan you may dislike this book. The choice is yours.

Excerpt from book:

Cotton Malone retired from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. Justice Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous e-mail: “You have something I want. You’re the only person on earth who knows where to find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don’t hear from you, you will be childless.” His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone’s Copenhagen bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria.

A cradle of ideas–historical, philosophical, literary, scientific, and religious–the Library of Alexandria was unparalleled in the world. But fifteen hundred years ago, it vanished into the mists of myth and legend–its vast bounty of wisdom coveted ever since by scholars, fortune hunters, and those who believe its untold secrets hold the key to ultimate power.

Now a cartel of wealthy international moguls, bent on altering the course of history, is desperate to breach the library’s hallowed halls–and only Malone possesses the information they need to succeed. At stake is an explosive ancient document with the potential not only to change the destiny of the Middle East but to shake the world’s three major religions to their very foundations.

Pursued by a lethal mercenary, Malone crosses the globe in search of answers. His quest will lead him to England and Portugal, even to the highest levels of American government–and the shattering outcome, deep in the Sinai desert, will have worldwide repercussions.

 

HedgeKnightsName: Tales of Dunk and Egg

Author:  George R. R. Martin

Genre : Fantasy

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire

Pages :  300+ pages

Publication Year: 1998, 2003 and 2010

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

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Tales of Dunk and Egg is a series of fantasy novellas by George R. R. Martin, set in the world of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels. In Tales of Dunk and Egg three novellas have been published, namely:

1. The Hedge Knight (published 1998)

2. The Sworn Sword (published  2003)

3. The Mystery Knight (published  2010)

These novellas relates the adventures of “Dunk” (aka Ser Duncan the tall) and his squire “Egg” (aka Aegon V Targaryen), some 90 years before the events of the novel “A Game of Thrones”.

When I completed reading the A Song of Ice and Fire books, I was eagerly waiting for next book in the series but seems Martin is still in his hibernation mode. So my thirst for A Song of Ice and Fire led me to Tales of Dunk and Egg which are set in Westeros and act as a prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire novels.

The Hedge Knight is the first story of Dunk and Egg. Dunk or Ser Duncan the Tall  is hedge knight – so-called because they are knights without any master or house or land and are poor and usually sleeps in hedges. Dunk was a squire of Ser Arlan of Pennytree who was a hedge knight died while on the way to Ashford for a tourney. After burying Ser Arlan, Dunk takes up his armor, horses and continues to  Ashford to participate in tourney. At an inn on the road, he meets a boy with a shaved head named Egg (whose true identity Dunk doesn’t know and will be revealed in Ashford Meadow) , who offers to become his squire. When the boy follows to Ashford after his denial to take him as squire, impressed by the boy’s spirit, Dunk takes him on as his own squire for the upcoming tourney. I really enjoyed The Hedge Knight which adds more depth to the already expansive world of Westeros.  I Highly recommended this novella for all fans of A Game Of Thrones series.

The Sworn Sword is the second story of Dunk and Egg series.  The story begins in the Reach (during a very bad drought) with Dunk sworn to Ser Eustace Osgrey of Standfast whose family were once lords of Coldmoat. At the beginning of the story Dunk finds out that the women known as “The Red Widow” rumored to have killed her four husbands is stealing the water of Ser Eustace Osgrey. This leads to series of events which results in revealing the more  Targaryen history and their conflicts such as Blackfyre Rebellion and Battle of the Redgrass Field in which Ser Eustace Osgrey lost his sons in service of  Daemon Blackfyre aka “Black Dragon”.

The Mystery Knight  is the third story of Dunk and Egg series. The story begins after the events of Reach, Dunk and Egg  has decided to go north to see the Wall and join Beron Stark who has sent a call for men to help fend off Greyjoy raids on the northern coast. But on the way to north they meet knights who are going to participate in the tourney at Whitewalls which is arranged in the honor of wedding of Lord Butterwell of Whitewalls to a Frey of the Crossing; the tourney victor’s prize is to be a dragon egg. Dunk decides to participate in the tourney and this leads to many twists and turns in which more background history of Targaryen’s is revealed and both Dunk and Egg finds themselves in the midst of another Blackfyre Rebellion.

I enjoyed all the three novellas and highly recommend them to all the fans of A Song of Ice and Fire series.

saladinName: The Book of Saladin

Author:  Tariq Ali

Genre : Fiction/Historical Fiction

Series: Islam Quintet #2

Pages :  367 pages

Publication Year: November 17th 1999 

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 1 stars (out of 5)

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When I picked up this book for reading , I was thinking about reading the biography of one of the greatest hero of Islam  – Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb better known in the Western world as Saladin but biography of greatest hero in fictional form by Tariq Ali is shallow, test less and base. Even Wikipedia gives better biography of Saladin than this book. Why, you ask? here is why.

I am really, really disgusted by the numerous allusions to homosexuality, sodomy, prostitution described in this novel. This not the disgusting part, the disgusting part is suggestion that those closest to Saladin including imams and advisers were involved in these heinous acts.

Agreed that these things occur in this world, but when you are writing a biography of great military leader and liberator of Jerusalem and using such a shameful language and behavior is really disgusting, shallow, test less and base.

The way Tariq Ali describes the love life of Saladin is really shameful, as I was reading I started to feel the Tariq Ali really doesn’t know much about who Saladin was and even if he knew, I think he hates him so much that he thought of writing a book to just show his hatred towards him. Don’t know what exactly was going through his mind while writing this book.

Most of the book is filled with sub plots or sub stories and these stories doesn’t add much to Saladin’s biography apart from filling the pages and making book more dense.

I honestly won’t recommend this book to any one. I won’t be reading any other books by Tariq Ali.

I honestly believe that this Wikipedia entry on Saladin is better than this book.

Excerpt from book:

The Book of Saladin” is the fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem, as dictated to a Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub. Saladin grants Ibn Yakub permission to talk to his wife and retainers so that he might present a full portrait in the Sultan’s memoirs. A series of interconnected stories follows, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humor and passions in which ideals clash with realities and dreams are confounded by desires. 


At the heart of the novel is an affecting love affair between the Sultan’s favored wife, Jamila, and the beautiful Halina, a later addition to the harem. The novel charts the rise of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria and follows him as he prepares, in alliance with his Jewish and Christian subjects, to take Jerusalem back from the Crusaders. This is a medieval story, but much of it will be uncannily familiar to those who follow events in contemporary Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad. Betrayed hopes, disillusioned soldiers and unrealistic alliances form the backdrop to “The Book of Saladin

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