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Archive for September, 2009

Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’ was one of the books which was widely awaited this year. The last Dan Brown book and his most famous one, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ came in 2003 – six years back. So, the long gap, in between books, added to the anticipation and excitement. One of my friends told me that it sold a million copies on the first day – it must be some kind of record. As a reader who has enjoyed Dan Brown books before, I pre-booked my copy of ‘The Lost Symbol’ and went to the the bookstore and collected it on the first day. Some of the bookstores were offering other books of Dan Brown free with this, and some were even offering the movie version of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ free. I am quite tired of freebies now and so I went and just got my copy of the book without any freebies. Actually that is not true – I got a book reading light for free ūüôā The reading light is small and cute and I can attach it to a book and read and so I love it!¬†¬†¬†
 
I was busy for the first few days after I got the book, but I did a read-a-thon during my previous¬†weekend, and finished reading ‘The Lost Symbol’ before the weekend was over.¬†
 
Warning : Before I continue with the review, I have to warn that there will be a few spoilers here. If you are planning to read the book or you are reading it now, and don’t want any spoilers, I would suggest that you read the book before reading this review. I don’t know how to write a review without revealing anything about the story (I will try my best to do that, though) – the only way I can do that will be to say whether I liked the story or not and how it compares with Dan Brown’s other books. That will be a two-line review, which I wouldn’t want to write. So, here is the review, with the spoilers. (more…)

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I got ‘Playing Hardball – A Kent County Cricketer’s Journey into Big League Baseball’ a few years back, when I was buying a lot of books on cricket. It is by a former English county cricketer called E.T.Smith, who played for Kent for many years and then for Middlesex. E.T.Smith was later known as Ed Smith, and his other two books ‘On and Off the Field’ and ‘What Sport tells us about¬†Life?’ are classics and two of my favourite books on sport (I recommend both of them). Ed Smith (alongwith Michael Atherton, Mike Brearley and Simon Barnes) is one of the few cricket-writers today who write on the larger issues of cricket and sport with wonderful insights and whose prose is a pleasure to read.
 
This book was lying on my shelf for years and for some reason I hadn’t got around to reading it. Sometime back I had a long discussion with one of my friends on cricket and baseball, and during our discussion we tried comparing the two games – because both the games seemed to be similar at a higher level – both have bats and balls, batsmen and fielders and runs and wickets (though this is known by different names in both the sports). When I was having this discussion with my friend, I thought it would be interesting to take this book from the bookshelf, dust it and read it and use it for discussion. We did that and as a result I got a better understanding of baseball and also a few interesting insights into cricket. (more…)

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I read a brief news item sometime back, about a Mario Puzo novel being published again, after a long time. The news said that this novel was initially published before Puzo became famous, and it has been out of print for many years. I liked the the appearance of the book Рit was a trade paperback, with a picture of a chessboard in the front cover, thick white paper, big sized font and lot of space between two lines. I thought it will be interesting to read it, because it would show how Puzo had evolved as a writer.
 
Summary of the story
 
I am giving here the summary of the story as given in the back cover of the book.

Seven senior Gestapo officers tortured Captain Michael Rogan, murdered his pregnant wife, and left him for dead. After the end of the Second World War, Rogan’s torturers escaped to new lives on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
 
But Rogan survived. Recovered from his appalling injuries, he has devoted the intervening ten years to planning how best to exact his revenge.
 
Rogan must track down his Nazi targets – some of whom have new identities, all of whom are desperate to conceal their criminal pasts. To complicate matters, he meets and falls for the beautiful Rosalie. Should Rogan continue to pursue vengeance or sacrifice it for the sake of happiness?
 
Dark, graphic and violent, this addictive thriller was written only a year before Puzo completed The Godfather. Published under a pseudonym and only recently brought to light, Six Graves to Munich bears all the hallmarks of this master storyteller.

What I think
 
The book is a straighforward revenge story. The plot is not tight or intricate. There are not many surprising twists and turns. It reminds me of some of the Tamil / Hindi movies of the 1980s which had stories based on a revenge theme. Some of the villains in the novel are likeable. Rogan’s and Rosalie’s love is beautifully depicted. One despairs for them in the end.
 
If you are a Mario Puzo fan, you should check it out. It is also a good light read, if you have a long commute to work, or if you are travelling for a few hours by bus, train or plane. You will finish the book before you end your journey. With its thick paper, big font, well-spaced lines, less number of pages and a plot which doesn’t tax one’s brain, it will help in destressing oneself after a busy day’s work or in killing time if one is feeling bored.

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One of my friends who knows that I love books and reading, gifted me a book sometime back. It was ‘Sarah’s Key’ by Tatiana De Rosnay. I haven’t heard of Tatiana De Rosnay before and so I thought it will be interesting to explore a new writer. I found the writer’s name quite fascinating too – it looked like a combination of Russian and French names and has a whiff of royalty in it. The blurb says that she has English, French and Russian ancestors. In appearance, she looks French. (more…)

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