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Virals eBook by Kathy Reichs – Review

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Virals is a young adult crime cum fantasy novel. The author of this novel is Kathy Reichs who has also penned the famous TV series Bones. This novel is the 1st book in the Tory Brennan series. The novels have elements from the author’s TV series too. Here is our review of the 1st book.

The Story

A gunshot is the loudest sound in the universe. Especially if the bullet is coming at you.
These opening lines of the book got us hooked to the story almost instantaneously. Virals is an edge of the seat story that will make you forget your real surroundings. It is about a 14-year-old Tory Brennan, who is the niece of Temperance Brennan of the Bones series. Tory has just moved in with her father (she didn’t know she had a father!) on Morris Island in Charleston, SC. Tory is finding it hard to adjust to her new surroundings and family but she has her friends for support. She has fun exploring the island, swimming and fishing, thanks to her great nerd friends- Ben, Hiram and Shelton.

One day at the island, she spots something that triggers a series of strange and dangerous events. Circumstances force her and her friends to get involved in finding hidden experiments, come face to face with a long-unsolved murder and a mystery surrounding a stolen wolf-dog hybrid puppy.

That’s not all, they also have to deal with a bizarre twisting of fate that gives them new power and talents that they can’t really fathom. They have a tough job of getting to the bottom of the various mysteries, all while trying to not get killed in the process.

The Writing

Kathy Reichs is a master storyteller when it comes to crime plus fantasy novels. Her descriptions of the tensest situations in the book are bang on. She has the ability to make the reader get hooked to the story without trying too hard. She chooses to tell this story through Tory. Reichs has kept the chapters short and gradually increased the pace of the story, making reading it quite similar to riding a hair-raising roller coaster.

Verdict

We give Virals 4/5 stars. This adult science fiction novel mixed with bits of supernatural will get a thumbs up from lovers of fast-paced, adventurous and intellectual novels.

Mad Love (French Modernist Library) – Book Review

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Mad Love is a French novel by surrealist and poet Andre Breton. It is translated into English by literature professor and author Mary Ann Caws. The book is a part autobiographical account of love and lovers. It is the study of the complex emotions and irrational behaviors love induces in the people whose hearts it has captured.

The Story

Mad Love or L’Amour fou in French is, simply put, a case study on love. The book explores the idea, emotion and the impact of love from the eyes of the author. Andre Breton is fascinated about how love manifests from things like poetry, relationships, objects, etc. and how it affects the person deeply so much to change his or her life completely. He also writes about his relationship with artist Jacqueline Lamba and his infant daughter in this novel.

In short, this novel is all about the expression of love, how it develops, through what it manifests, how it affects people and their relationship and their conscience. Explore the complex emotion of love and find why irrationality takes over the conscious as it starts experiencing love through this book.

The Writing

Reading about love being scientifically explained was very delightful. Mary Ann Caws has done a marvelous job of translating the original work. The writing is mostly poetic that beautifully draws the reader in.

Verdict

Mad Love is a book to fall in love with! Though many people would not want to read about the study on love and experience it, this novel is recommended for all, more so the die-hard romantics. We rate it 4/5 stars.

Athanasius: The Life of Antony of Egypt (Classics in Spiritual Formation) – Book Review

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Athanasius: The Life of Antony of Egypt is a classic in the spiritual formation genre. It is written by Albert Haase, a popular name in spiritual writings. He has authored many other books on the subject like Becoming an Ordinary Mystic, Coming Home to Your True Self and Living the Lord’s Prayer.

The Story

Athanasius tells the story of St. Antony, one of the most influential church fathers. It explores his early life and his retreat into spiritualism and the battles he faces in the spiritual path. The life story of St. Antony teaches us a lot about spiritualism and of ways to make it a way of life.

Readers who enjoy this genre will be delighted to read such an in-depth, inspiring and enlightening account of one of the most renowned saints in the history of Christianity. The book also includes some lesser-known and found pieces of Athanasius’s writing, such as Letter to Dracontius, Festal Letters 39, among others.

Verdict

We rate this book 4/5 stars. Spiritual books may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is recommended for everyone to gain an insight into your true self and know the actual meaning of existence. Athanasius: The Life of Antony of Egypt should be read widely to understand the life of the Christian saint and learn things about the self and God.

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy) – Book Review

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C.S. Lewis. The name is enough to instill excitement and the urge to pick the book and start reading immediately. Out of the Silent Planet is a science fiction novel, the 1st book in the series of Space Trilogy. Planning to read this book? Go through our review before that. No spoilers, promise!

The Story

Did you, as a kid or as an adult, ever wondered about whether there is life on other planets? This book answers your questions through the imagination of Lewis. He creates a highly innovative world on another planet, which gives wings to your own vision about the world.

This story is about Dr. Ransom, who gets abducted and transported out of space to Malacandra or Mars. The reason he has been kidnapped and brought to this planet is his captivators want to sacrifice him to the creatures lurking at Mars. But that is not what the creatures wanted. The captivators assumed that the Mars people were asking for a human sacrifice to be able to give them all their wealth. They completely misunderstood what was being said! So they abduct the first person they see on earth and bring him here. But the captivators’ dream of returning to earth loaded with riches is busted as Dr. Ransom escapes, starting a series of exciting adventures.

The story then takes a philosophical turn apart from adventurous as Dr. Ransom gets to know the people who inhabit the planet and learns about their lives and eventually his, in a way he never imagined.

The Writing

Out of the Silent Planet feels so fresh and new, even though it is an old book, initially published in 1938. It was written way before the man went out of space in reality. C.S, Lewis’s writing does a great job of transporting you to the other world and making it all, the place, the aliens and the adventures so much real.

But since this is an old book, the language is quite ancient and might seem slow for today’s readers who are used to fast-paced books in this genre. This novel demands to be read very slowly because of the philosophical meaning attached to most of the lines. So you might find yourself going back to the lines you have read to fully understand what is being said.

Verdict

We rate it 4.5/5 stars. We took half stars because of the slow reading and outdated language. Other than that, there is nothing in this book that is not likable. We highly recommend Out of the Silent Planet. Continuing this fun, insightful and adventurous space journey are the other books in the series named Perelandra and That Hidden Strength.

The Pesto Cookbook: 116 Recipes for Creative Herb Combinations and Dishes Bursting with Flavor – Book Review

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Have you ever tasted pesto? It is the herb-rich sauce that is the key ingredient in many Italian recipes. The Pesto Cookbook: 116 Recipes for Creative Herb Combinations and Dishes Bursting with Flavor by Olwen Woodier introduces the reader to a world full of possibilities when it comes to creating pesto sauce.

The Ultimate Pesto Cookbook

This cookbook focuses entirely on pesto. The classic ingredient made from basil, garlic, olive oil, nuts, and Parmesan cheese. But the author, Olwen Woodier, makes innovation the secret ingredient for pesto. So you get as many as 116 recipes combining ingredients you could never imagine tasting in pesto.

The author has created recipes from a combination of unthinkable ingredients like rosemary, mint, parsley, thyme, tarragon, and cilantro. This book gives an in-depth knowledge about the favorite Italian sauce and also offers useful tips on cooking it.

The book also busts certain common myths surrounding the sauce. Here are 3 of them.

  1. If you have never made pesto sauce at home because of the requirements of high-priced nuts, the author offers a simple solution. He informs the readers that they don’t necessarily have to use those expensive and hard to find nuts for the recipe. Almonds, pistachios, peanuts, etc. will work perfectly well.
  2. You could use pesto sauce with other sauces like mayonnaise, vinaigrette, marinara and more. You can combine pesto with the other sauces to create a more delicious and thicker base for your dishes.
  3. Pesto sauce doesn’t mean only for pastas, pizzas and other Italian dishes. Pesto sauce works wonders in Mexican, Thai, or Japanese food.

Verdict

The Pesto Cookbook is very impressive with its unique recipes, cooking techniques and information about the pesto and other sauces. The innovative recipes not only sound and look delicious but taste incredibly awesome. They are super easy to make and can be used in almost all the dishes. We rate it 4.5/5 stars.

The Yid (MP3 CD) | Book Review

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Author Paul Goldberg is known for absurd and highly unusual stories. And that is what we were hoping for when we started reading (or listening to) The Yid. And we are happy that we chose to listen to it rather than read it. This dramatic historical fiction is meant to be heard or seen being enacted. Here is our review of the book.

The Story

The Yid attempts to mix the reality of the past with fiction. The year is 1953 when Stalin, the Soviet politician and revolutionary, dies. In connection with the death, a Jewish theatre actor, Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, is arrested. The actor, an old man, hatches a plan to get the ruler out of the way through unbelievably shocking events.

The author has beautifully and intelligently collaborated the world of history and that of Shakespeare. Yes, the novel has glimpses of the great poet’s stories. There’s a mad king, a machine gunner, a young, vivacious woman with revenge in her heart.

The Yid is very moving, funny, violent and intellectual. It is full of tragedy with doses of laughter sprinkled here and there. Author Paul Goldberg who has also written The Château, another tragicomic, could well be regarded as the Shakespeare of today.

The Writing

The writing by Paul Goldberg is a little hard to understand because of his usage of 3 languages- English, Russian and Yiddish. He also has the habit of writing long structured sentences, which further complicates the writing. So we found reading the book isn’t as fun as hearing it is.

The Audio Narration

We thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story through the crisp narration of Peter Berkrot. Seeing that he had a tough job narrating this gripping novel with its huge amount of diverse characters, he did a brilliant job. His narration is directly infused with little emotions where required. He never goes overboard with his emotive tone and lets you get immersed in the story convincingly.

Verdict

The Yid (MP3 CD) gets 3.5/5 stars from us for its imaginative story and excellent narration by Berkrot. This audiobook is recommended for those who are fans of historical fiction and love Shakespeare’s theatrical stories. If you understand Russian and Yiddish, you might want to read this book. In any which way, this novel is a treat for lovers of these genres.

CIRCE (#1 New York Times Bestseller) – Book Review

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CIRCE is a 2019 published novel by acclaimed writer Madeline Miller. The book, since its release in April, has garnered the attention of both critics and readers alike. It has already been named as the book of the year by The Guardian, Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Goodreads, People, Amazon and many more. It is also New York Times #1 Bestseller. Here is our review of what we thought about this highly praised book.

The Story

CIRCE is an offspring of the gods. But unlike her powerful and dangerous parents, she has none of the qualities that make her belong to the world she is a part of. This results in her being shunned from all those she calls her own. But Circe has an unusual power that is dark and can threaten the power of the Gods. Sensing this, the Gods send her off to the island of Aiaia, where she is left on her own.

Now all by herself, Circe starts practicing her craft, casting spells, collecting unusual herbs and controlling wild beats on the island. She slowly gains expertise in her craft and garners the strength and power that can easily compete and even defeat the men and gods. On the island, she comes across many characters from the mythological world, including Odysseus.

This impactful story then follows the journey of how Circe realizes her relationship with God and herself. It is about how she lives her life on her own rules, challenging all those (men) who think it in their authority to tell her how to live her own life.

Madeline Miller takes the witch from the classic Odyssey and gives her a life of her own. She, through the protagonist, gives voice to the significant issues faced by women today and tells it is possible to live your life on your terms without the need to be guarded or looked over.

Writing

Madeline Miller weaves magic with her words that makes the book hard to put down. There is a charm in her language that pulls the reader into the mystifying world with every word. Her characters, especially Circe, are memorable.

Verdict

Circe gets 4.5/5 stars from us. We loved the new approach to the mythological tale. This one is a must pick for readers who have never ventured into the old Greek mythology classics. This new rendition will appeal to the generation of today, giving them a taste of the old stories with a contemporary touch.

Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal (eBook Review)

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Blue Boy is unlike any book you might have ever read. This novel by Rakesh Satyal is a coming of age story about a boy who is having difficulty fitting in. We have reviewed the book below being as discreet as we can without spoiling the plot for you.

The Story

This is the story of 12-year-old Kiran, an only son of an Indian-American immigrant couple. The starting chapters take us through Kiran’s journey of facing rejection from everyone, his unusual habits and his sense of never feeling normal. His difficulties are all because he is unlike the boys of his age. He not only looks different than other Indians because of his parentage but also behaves in a different manner expected of a young boy. He loves to sing and dance more than mindlessly running and chasing a ball towards a goal in the field.

Kiran knows his secret but guards it carefully. He is intelligent and funny and spiritual. As he takes his religious discourse, he slowly feels a close connection with Lord Krishna. On one such discourse, he experiences the revelation that he may be the incarnation of the deity. That explains the title of the book- Krishna was known to have blue skin.

Kiran starts living like a lord, the way he did when he came down on the earth- eating butter, playing flute, among other things. He gets so involved in Krishna that he feels his skin shade will also turn blue. He is practicing to stage the unveiling of his true identity through the annual elementary school talent show.

The character of Kiran is hard to put into a category. You like him one moment while you hate him the next. His tribulations and struggles to be himself in a society that expects you to be of a certain way are worth sympathizing with. But there are shades of grey and negativity to him that’s disturbing at times.

But that being said, it’s a book worth reading for its unusual approach towards a tabooed subject. And for the lesson it gives us, accept everyone like they are without being judgemental or pushing that person into being someone else.

Verdict

We rate Blue Boy 3.5/5 stars. It is recommended for everyone who likes unusual tales about people facing an identity crisis.

Robicheaux (Dave Robicheaux Novel) – Book Review

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From the acclaimed crime writer, James Lee Burke comes this another thrilling novel, Robicheaux (Dave Robicheaux Novel). Robicheaux is about the famous detective who is also the hero of 20 novels by the author. This time, it’s not a case that the detective is handling. It is him proving his innocence for a crime committed by a dead criminal.

The Story

Detective Dave Robicheaux is mourning his wife’s death by drinking excessively. She was taken away from him and murdered brutally. In and out of his consciousness, he once wakes up to find bruises on his hands, knowing nothing about how they came to be there. Then he receives the information that the man who murdered his wife has been found dead by a cop.

Robicheaux visits the crime scene and eventually puts two and two together. His bruised hands and the killing of the murderer may be linked. His life is in danger because the circumstances are proving him to be the killer of the man.

Now the detective has the task of proving the killer’s whereabouts; otherwise, he will be suspected and charged for his wife’s murder. Read the journey of how the detective proves his innocence and what horrors lie in his path.

The Writing

The writing style and language of James Lee Burke will make you fall in love with the mystery genre. He makes the thrilling story more compelling and engaging with his rich vocabulary and description of situations. The characters always stand out in his mysteries and it is true for this one too.

Even if you haven’t read the previous Robicheaux titles, you should go for this one. This thriller doesn’t follow the previous ones and is a standalone novel.

Verdict

Robicheaux gets 4.5/5 stars from us. The book is a thrilling, spine chilling novel that will keep you hooked for hours at a time. This novel is for anyone who likes murder mysteries and those who are fans of James Lee Burke’s works.

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