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ItemImageName: Gray Mountain

Author(s):   John Grisham

Genre : Legal Fiction (Issue based)

Series: –

Pages : 386 pages

Publication Year:  23 October 2014

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)

Buy: You can get it from here.


Let’s get to the point straight away – this story revolves around Samantha Kofer, a third year associate at prestigious law firm but when Lehman Brothers collapses and US is hit with major recession in 2008 – she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Her firm gives her an option of keeping health insurance for a year if she take a Pro-Bono work and only option she gets is the becoming an intern in  a legal clinic in Virginia‘s coal mining country.

Legal clinic basic deal with Pro-Bono work specially related to coal mining, like handling the cases of cola miners who got black lung diseases (a diseases which is common with coal miners) filling the law suits against coal mining companies. Other issue this clinic deals with is “Strip Mining” – in which cola companies will remove mountain top to get the coal instead of tunneling the mountain. Strip Mining has a huge impact on nature and surrounding areas, the coal companies will store the toxic wastes in the dams constructed nearby the town and there is high risk that these dams will flood and toxic waste will be spread throughout the villages resulting in many diseases.

Now coming to the problem with the story – Once Samantha Kofer joins legal clinic in Virginia to keep her health insurance, the story started to become too much preachy, I mean literally preachy, almost 50 to 60 % of book was spent in explaining the problems with coal mining and specially strip mining. Once we get over the preachy part regarding coal mining we will come across usual divorce cases, property disputes cases etc which cover almost 20% of the book. The problem is if you are regular John Grisham reader, you will immediately see the repetitions because we have already read the same old cases in many of his books, then what’s the point of adding them here? May for new JG readers?

Rest 20% book deals with the case of two boys who died in their home when a huge stone from nearby mountain fell on there house and lawsuit against evil coal mining company which is dumping toxic wastes in rivers resulting in many disease. Just when you thinks the story is going somewhere, again we hit a road block and it ends without any end!

This is one of the weakest John Grisham Novel I have read so far and if you are thinking of reading it – I will say, avoid this one and wait for his next novel.

Excerpts from book:

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.



Name: I Am Malala

Author(s):   Malala Yousafzai (Author), Christina Lamb (Contributor)

Genre : biography, non-fiction

Series: —

Pages : 289 pages

Publication Year:  8 October 2013

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Buy: You can get it from here.


Malala – you might have heard this name – recently – she is THE YOUNGEST RECIPIENT OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. You might be thinking – what she did to earn noble peace prize?

My friends say he fired three shots, one after another. The first went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward onto Moniba, blood coming from my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me. One bullet went into Shazia’s left hand. The third went through her left shoulder and into the upper right arm of Kainat Riaz.

This is the story of a girl shot down by the Taliban. Most of us knew her as a girl shot down by Taliban for opposing them and supporting education of girls but before she was shot down by Taliban – she was a star campaigner for girl rights and won many awards and even won the maiden “National Youth Peace Prize awarded  her on 19 December 2011 by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for her services towards promoting girls’ education in her hometown of Mingora in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had banned girls from attending school.” Now this prize is known by her name “National Malala Peace Prize”.

Malala born in a pious Sunni Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity in the year 12 July 1997. Her father gave her the name Malala which means “grief-stricken” after Malalai of Maiwand, a famous Pashtun poetess and warrior woman from southern Afghanistan.

I would say her father Ziauddin Yousafzai is a real hero and inspiration to Malala for standing up for girls rights in Swat valley after Taliban invasion. Her father Ziauddin – who came from a middle class family opened a school in Swat valley for girls with the help of his friends and named it “Khushal Public School” named after a famous Pashtun poet, Khushal Khan Khattak.

Before the advent of Taliban in Swat valley – her life and Swat valley were both very peaceful and girls school was running without much problem apart from small opposition. But when US invaded Afghanistan to remove Taliban – instead of removing Taliban from that region they moved them from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

When Taliban first appeared in Swat Valley – they started their activities – first by broadcasting a religious sermons on FM Radio station and everyone in Swat valley loved their sermons. Then they started helping needy and contributing in relief works when there was a earthquake in Pakistan. After gaining the support of people – they started giving religious fatwa’s on Radio and told everyone in Swat valley to stop listening to music, watching movies and dancing. Then they banned girls from going to the school saying it’s against Islam where as Islam is in favor of girls education.

Islam encouraged religious education of Muslim women. According to a hadith attributed to Prophet Muhammad (Blessing and Peace be upon him), he (Blessing and Peace be upon him) praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge:
“How splendid were the women of the Ansar; shame did not prevent them from becoming learned in the faith.”

At various other times, the Prophet Muhammad (Blessing and Peace be upon him) told his followers:

1. “Acquisition of knowledge is binding on all Muslims, male and female.”
2. “Seek knowledge, from the cradle to the grave.”
3. “Acquire knowledge, even if you have to go to China for it.”
4. “The person who goes forth in search of knowledge is striving hard in the way of Allah, until his/her return

“It is impossible to be a Muslim, to live according to the requirements of Islam, and at the same time live in a state of ignorance.” – FOMWAN

So, when Taliban banned girls education from Swat valley – Malala raised her voice against them and she started campaign in favor of girls education.

She get’s inspiration from her father who was foremost to fight for girls rights in Swat Valley, as she put’s it about her father:

He hated the fact that most people would not speak up. In his pocket he kept a poem written by Martin Niemöller, who had lived in Nazi Germany.

First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Catholic.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

The book beautifully portrays the life of Malala and brings to light many unknown facts about her life before she got shot. One of those thing I didn’t know was this: She started writing a blog for BBC Urdu in 2009 as “Gul Makai” (“cornflower” in Urdu), a name taken from a character in a Pashtun folktale. The blog records Yousafzai’s thoughts during the First Battle of Swat, as military operations take place, fewer girls show up to school, and finally, her school shuts down.

I would recommend this book to anyone who want’s know about the courageous girl who stood against Taliban for her rights.

Excerpts from book:

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world

1408529068sufi-rumiName: Sufi Comics: Rumi

Author:  Mohammed Ali VakilMohammed Arif Vakil

Genre : Comics, Sufi Comics

Series: Sufi Comics #3

Pages : 180+ pages

Publication Year:  30 August 2014

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Buy: You can get it from here.


Ever since I read Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī’s (is also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī’s) Masnavi – I am completely Rumified. His magical and spritual words will leave you wanting more, such is the writing of Rumi.
Born in the village of Wakhsh, a small town located at the river Wakhsh in Persia (in what is now Tajikistan) in the year 30 September 1207.

When I was reading book 3 of Masnavi, I heard that Vakil brothers are going to publish a comic on Rumi, Since that day I was wondering which stories will they pick up from the wast collections of stories in Masnavi. One more thing which made me restless and curious to read this book was – how the stories will be rendered? will it match my imagination or better than that?

When I read the comic book and the stories in it – they are way better than what I imagined they might look like in comic form. The book is divided into different chapters,each chapter will tell a spiritually illuminating story, the first one is the story which will tell the origins of Rumi – How Rumi became Rumi. Origin story is beautifully illustrated by Rahil Mohsin and conveys to user the true origins of Rumi. I didn’t  knew before reading this story that Rumi and His father met Ibn Al-Arabi (the greatest Sufi master) and how he uttered when he saw Rumi and His father – “There goes the sea followed by ocean!”.


The story I most liked and one of my favorite is the ‘Keep your dragon in snow’ – this story is awesomely illustrated and tells user that your Lower Self (Nafs) is never dead and don’t assume it to be otherwise. It’s exactly like a frozen dragon in snow – if you think it to be dead and bring it out in light of wanting-energy – it will brake out from freeze and kill you without showing the slightest mercy. So Keep your dragon in snow


Another timeless tale which tells of annihilation of Self when you are on the path of Haqiqa [Reality] beautifully rendered and illustrated in the tale named “Since You Are I“. As one of the Sufi mystics puts it ‘When you are on the path of Sharia ‘I‘ is required and When you are on the path of Haqiqa there is no ‘I‘ ‘. 


When we user our sensual eye we cannot see the world as a whole – because sensual eyes has limited visibility but if we user our intellectual (aqli) eye – it can cover the infinite boundaries of universe and see the world as whole. This point is illustrated beautifully in Sufi Comic’s ‘The Elephant in the Dark‘ tale.

Some Indian bring an elephant to be exhibited in a dark room. A number of men touch and feel the elephant in the dark and, depending upon where they touch it,  they believe the elephant to be like a water spout (trunk), a fan (ear), a pillar (leg) and a throne (back).  Rumi uses this story as an example of the limits of individual perception – as he puts it

“The sensual eye is just like the palm of the hand. The palm has not the means of covering the whole of the beast”.
“If each had a candle and they went in together the differences would disappear.”


Each story is followed by an Ayath of the Holy Quran and Sayings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and peace be upon him) or Hazrath Ali (May Allah be pleased with him). Each Ayah/Saying is chosen to match the story.

Go ahead and read this wonderfully illustrated and spiritually illuminating tales from Rumi – in the comic form. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to read “Comics for the soul”.

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)


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 . . .

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