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Book Review: Nutshell by Ian McEwan

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Nutshell by Ian McEwan

August has been the month of thrillers for me and I guess the month where I have read the maximum number of books as well. Do not go by the count of book reviews posted on this blog since at times, I miss writing reviews the month I have read or write reviews of too many books at once (like the time in Dec 2017 when I wrote review of I guess 20+ Agatha Christie books read over last 3 months). And when I say thrillers, it is not only by the same author; that would have been an easy pick and I have plenty of time to scroll through book blurbs and recommendation posts now.

Even though Ian McEwan is more famously known for Atonement, while browsing through various books of his, Nutshell is the one that sparked more curiosity in me. By the way, this is my first McEwan. Reading the book, the non-fiction style of writing got to me at the start (if you are my blog follower, you would know that I only read fiction) but the way the book is written commenting on everything the foetus (yes, you read it correct) hears through his (or hers, the sex is not revealed) mom or surroundings, was a real piece of writing I have not read in a long long time. Haven’t we as Indians heard of the story of Mahabharata’s Abhimanyu who learnt the art of breaking into the Chakravyuha when he was in Subhadra’s womb? The same tale is extended but in a different fashion. A murder is planned and the only witness is the foetus. The entire book is narrated by the foetus itself who gets affected by the emotions of his mother and at times, his father as well.

In conclusion, I will say you need to read this book if you are looking for something serious and are not easily affected by what you read/ see.

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews!

Book blurb:

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.

About the author:
Ian Russell McEwan is an English novelist and screenwriter. In 2008, The Times featured him on their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945” and The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 19 in their list of the “100 most powerful people in British culture”. Many of his books have been translated into movies.

McEwan’s works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany’s Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader’s Digest Author of the Year.

Website: ianmcewan.com
Facebook: @IanMcEwanAuthor

Rating: 9/10
Genre: Mystery
Book Name: Nutshell
Author: Ian McEwan
Pages: 208
Publication Year: 2016
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Book Review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I have been told not to read any negative books any more! But here, I picked up 13 Reasons Why,  and why? Because the Netflix trailer looked enticing and for me, reading is always preferable to watching a TV series/ movie. In fact, I myself don’t like pessimistic books or series or movies, I mean why do you have to clutter your entertainment life with this when real life is a bitch most times! Well now-a-days it is usual/general norm to base a movie/series on books what with so much online content flooding the market.

So back to the book, the flow and narration of this book seems original. The start dialogue “And if you‘re listening to these tapesyou’re one of the reasons why” is marvelous. It sets exactly the right tempo of what is to come. But gosh, the character sketch of Hannah, it was pathetic, if not downright hilarious. I am not demeaning the propensity of a person to commit suicide but but but if you will find silly reasons to make up for the big day, really you are too immature to live! And that girl mentions one of the thirteen reasons as the guy who liked her a lot and never did anything to hurt her, but only because she wanted him to give full focus to her. What absolute rubbish!

I have found kids wanting to watch this series, peer pressure/ power you may say, but I would not recommend the book to simply anyone.

Keep watching my blog for more book reviews.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

About the author:
Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California and grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. It was in college where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing.

His debut YA novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, is a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller. In 2017, it was released as a Netflix original series. It has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review.His second YA novel, The Future of Us, was co-authored with Printz-honor winner Carolyn Mackler. His third YA novel, What Light, was released in 2016 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. His first graphic novel, Piper (co-author: Jessica Freeburg; illustrator: Jeff Stokely), was released on Halloween 2017. His books are published in over 40 languages.

Facebook: @jayasherwriter
Website: www.jayasher.blogspot.com

Rating: 6/10
Genre: Young Adult
Book Name: 13 Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Pages: 352
Publication Year: 2007

Book Review: The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

Genre: Thriller
Book Name: The Rozabal Line
Authors: Ashwin Sanghi
Pages: 405
Publication Year: 2007
Publisher: Westland Ltd

I can’t believe what I just read! I am still trying to make sense of the book even after multiple attempts at reading by cross referencing pages back and then to the current one. In between, there is a plethora of characters with chronology totally being murdered! Not able to understand what I am talking about? Oh probably, then you are one of the prospective readers who just chanced upon this post and wondering whether to go ahead buying or reading. If you have already purchased, be a tsundoku (one who hoards the books but does not read). With each paragraph, the years change and not just by a few years, but long bygone eras – BC and ADs included.

I have read previous books of Ashwin Sanghi and I had liked those (barring Private India which was just an average read). However, with this book which is being popularized as Da Vinci Code of India, I am left to question myself whether when I had read the latter 8 years back, was I really able to understand a single word?

Probably people with more knowledge of religious history or history in general may be better able to relate to since this book was one of the bestsellers. But for me, it was totally a no read. And I am usually not so negative about any book.

Hoping that when I pick up this book after years, I give a positive feedback then. Keep watching my blog for review of another of Ashwin Sanghi’s book – The Sialkot Saga.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
A cardboard box is found on a shelf of a London library. When the mystified librarian opens it, she screams before she falls unconscious to the floor.

Within the labyrinthine recesses of the Vatican, a beautiful assassin swears she will eliminate all who do not believe in her twisted credo.

An elite army of thirteen calling itself the Lashkar-a-Talatashar has scattered around the globe. The fate of its members curiously resembles that of Christ and his Apostles. Their agenda is Armageddon.

A Hindu astrologer spots a conjunction of the stars and nods to himself in grim realization of the end of the world. In Tibet, a group of Buddhist monks’ searches for a reincarnation, much in the way their ancestors searched Judea for the Son of God. In strife torn Kashmir, a tomb called Rozabal holds the key to a riddle that arises in Jerusalem and gets answered at Vaishno Devi.

An American priest has disturbing visions of people familiar to him, except that they seem located in other ages. Induced into past-life regression, he goes to India to piece together the violent images. Shadowing his every move is the Crux Decussata Permuta, a clandestine society, which would rather wipe out creation than allow an ancient secret to be disclosed.

In The Rozabal Line, a thriller swirling between continents and centuries, Ashwin Sanghi traces a pattern that curls backward to the violent birth of religion itself.

About the author:
Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest selling English fiction authors and is writing since 2004. He has written several bestsellers (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key) and a New York Times bestselling crime thriller with James Patterson. Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and winner of the Crossword Popular Choice, Ashwin has recently also penned a non-fiction title ’13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck’.
Website: www.ashwinsanghi.com
Twitter: @ashwinsanghi
Email: mail@ashwinsanghi.com

Read on my blog – reviews of other Ashwin Sanghi’s books – Chanakya’s Chant and Private India.

Rating: 2/10

Book Review: Nancy Drew Mardi Gras Masquerade by Carolyn Keene

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Nancy Drew Mardi Gras Masquerade by Carolyn Keene

Genre: Mystery
Book Name: Nancy Drew #28
Mardi Gras Masquerade
Author: Carolyn Keene
Pages: 144
Publication Year: 1988
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

My early teenage years were spent in reading Nancy Drew series from which I gradually grew up into Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie. Those were the days when there wasn’t a Nancy Drew book in my school library that I had not devoured in our weekly book pickings. And on a trip, when I got hold of this book, it was like visiting a paradise – coming home again.

Nancy Drew series is not that complicated a read. However, any teenage girl would love the character of Nancy who can practically solve any problem which even grown-ups cannot or would simply prefer ignoring. With the theme of the visited place that night on the basis of Masquerade, getting hold of this book prior to start of the event seemed a perfect match. And I was surprised when someone I knew mentioned that Carolyn Keene is not actually an author but a pen name with which many other writers have written. It’s like breaking the childhood dream brick by brick. Just kidding!

As for the review for this particular book,  I somehow still liked the plot for its predictable storyline, with the only constraint being that it took me not less than an hour to complete. I will of course not prefer to read more of these now, since it has not much to ponder over once completed. Not even anything relatable in life! However, I will recommend it as a book series for beginners – to later grow into Sherlock Holmes category.

Book blurb:
What could be more fun than a masked Mardi Gras ball at a so-called haunted mansion? George brings her digital camera, insisting that she’s going to bust some ghosts. I’m just looking forward to a night of dressing up and dancing with Ned and my friends.

Soon the fun turns freaking, though — things go haywire and everyone starts to wonder if the ghost stories could actually be true. But when Deirdre Shannon’s antique tiara is snatched, I’m certain the crook is a guest, not a ghoul.

About the author:
Carolyn Keene is the pseudonym of the authors of the Nancy Drew mystery stories and The Dana Girls mystery stories, both produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In addition, the Keene pen name is credited with the Nancy Drew spin-off, River Heights and the Nancy Drew Notebooks.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

Genre: Crime Mystery
Book Name: Private India
(Private Series, #8)
Authors: Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson
Pages: 470
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Random House

I wonder how two writers can work together on a single book to turn it into a bestseller. Not that I hadn’t read any such book previously, but this Private India was a book perfectly weaved into a thriller story minus the sort of mythology/history that Ashwin Sanghi usually writes. Just 15 days back, I had taken a virtual tour of Mumbai through Anti Social Network by Piyush Jha. And again I got to read a book on Mumbai, that too on the eve of Mumbai blasts (26/11) few years back. This book too had a reference on Mumbai blasts where the terrorism was funded by Pakistan.

The story is written in a fast-paced and engaging manner with serial murders at the core. The characters were interesting, with both the authors trying to close all loose points towards an end. I personally loved this book. There was even a reference of ‘thugs’ or tribal class which makes people look down upon them, which reminded me of a recent incident of a section of society who do not consider Durga Maa as a deity but as a symbolism or a force used by upper caste on downtrodden ones. However, I wished towards the end of the book that the reasons of including thugs as a reference could have been better and also the transgender thinking could have better correlated!

Overall, a total action-packed book! Do read it for sure.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses.

For Santosh Wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again.

In a city of over thirteen million, he’d have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest gang lord and a godman who isn’t all he seems.

And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation – along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens…

About the author:
James Patterson: James Patterson has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today with his Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Private, NYPD Red, Daniel X, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. As of January 2016, he has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children’s, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists.
Website: www.jamespatterson.com
Facebook: @JamesPatterson

Ashwin Sanghi: Ashwin Sanghi ranks among India’s highest selling English fiction authors and is writing since 2004. He has written several bestsellers (The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant, The Krishna Key) and a New York Times bestselling crime thriller with James Patterson. Included by Forbes India in their Celebrity 100 and winner of the Crossword Popular Choice, Ashwin has recently also penned a non-fiction title ’13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck’.
Website: www.ashwinsanghi.com
Twitter: @ashwinsanghi
Email: mail@ashwinsanghi.com

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Genre: Murder Mystery, Thriller
Book Name: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Pages: 336
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Notable points: Made into a movie by same name in 2016

The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller, well written by Paula Hawkins. Dark, humorless, with part story telling by the three females, the book kept on going back and forth between different time periods. But it’s not a female oriented book. It’s just dealing with the psyche of different people, alcoholism and jealousy. And it just gives an underlying message that too much of anything is bad – be it alcohol, trust or blind faith, love, adventure, obsession or narcissism.

While reading, the book made such an impact on me that I got bad dreams for two days with me walking around in Rachel’s shoes in dark labyrinth in search of something never attainable.

If the self introspection could have been cut a little and some things disassociated (hate that forcefully induced red haired man having useless relevance), it would have been a perfect Hitchcock movie, that I had once dared to watch.

Read it for a long trail into darkness, to discover the opposite of social media sponsored happiness. Of what you see portrayed is not exactly what it seems!

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

About the author:
Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

Twitter: @PaulaHWrites

Rating: 8/10
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