Pines by Blake Crouch

Author: Blake Crouch

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 303

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi.

Blake crouch gives a new meaning to page turners.

Welcome to wayward pines, where paradise is home. Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in wayward pines with no money, no ID, no keys, no phone and no memory.

The town is surrounded by pines and cliffs. The water is crystal clear and the air smells of fresh pine. It is a kind of town that would boost anyone’s health. If only Ethan had arrived here under different circumstances, for right now, every bone in his body aches, his head hurts and his face feels bruised and puffy. The medical staff at the town hospital is friendly, the receptionist at pines hotel is helpful, but Ethan has an eerie feeling at the back of his mind that something is very wrong in this paradise.

There are two protagonists in this story, one is Ethan Burke; father of Ben, husband of Theresa, an ex black hawk helicopter pilot and now a secret service agent who arrives in wayward pines looking for two missing federal agents. The whole story revolves around him; what he does and how he tries to figure things out. There are some other interesting characters too; nurse Pam for instance.

The second and rather more interesting protagonist in the story is the town itself, wayward pines; a climax community of pines and people in a state of equilibrium with each other and operating as one single unit. The town is not just a single unit but also an isolated one, as Ethan soon finds out when he is not able to make contact with anyone from the world outside.

Wayward pines with its steep cliffs, electrified fences and back looping road is like hotel California, where you can check-in anytime but you can never leave.

The best part of the novel is the way it plays with time, both literally and figuratively. The time play in the story accentuates the twists with pinpoint accuracy.

The only thing that I didn’t like is the speed with which the story turns from being inexplicable to sci-fi. The element of sci-fi was bound to come but I was enjoying the hard boiled noir scepticism too much for it to end so soon.

The inspiration behind this novel is the abruptly cancelled tv show of the 90’s, Twin Peaks. The abrupt cancellation of the tv show left author Blake Crouch disappointed. In his own words, “all art is a reaction to other art”. While Wayward Pines is not Twin Peaks, but fans of Twin Peaks, Lost and Harlan Coben’s novels would find this eerie mystery right up their alley.

I personally came across this novel while I was looking for good tv shows to watch and the plot of Wayward Pines (the tv show based on this novel) starring Matt Dillion as Ethan Burke looked so promising that I decided to read the book before the show and I am so glad that I did.


Black Widow: The finely woven thread.

Rating: 1/5

“A black widow dangling on a single thread is a dangerous thing.” (probably the only dialogue in the whole volume that was worth mentioning.)

From the comic book cover:

The black widow may be an avenger and an agent of SHIELD but she has her own mission. (which I couldn’t fathom even after reading the whole volume.) to atone for her past as a KGB assassin. (well you may think you are going to get an origin story but you are not.) Her methods are dirty. Her heart is cold. (which they tried to warm up by showing a budding relationship with a street cat, such a cliché) But her work is flawless. On an undercover assignment in Russia, she finds that the hand of god is reaching for her. Outmatched by the brute force of this powerful new villain (more like nonsensical villain) Natasha discovers a deadly globe spanning (by globe spanning they mean taking unnecessary detours to different parts of the world) plot. The trail of blood and destruction will test her strength and cunning – but it may also test her faith. (well it certainly has shaken my faith in this series.)

Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, Russian Avenger, Slavic Shadow, The Red Death, is a lesser known, but much-loved Marvel Character. The Finely Woven Thread spans six issues #1-6. It is not an origin story but it is a story about her, working alone, away from the star-studded performance of other gifted avengers.

The artwork is clean but ordinary. The story lacks punch. The one thing that was blatantly missing was humor. I never expected a laugh out loud humor, but there is always a cheeky, sarcastic, read between the lines humor that was absent, which made the whole affair, a complete drag. The dialogues are casual and unmemorable. The whole volume was a one woman show. There are no memorable side characters, except maybe for the black street cat.

Matt Fraction and David Aja did a remarkable job in Hawkeye; an avenger, a SHIELD agent, a non-super hero, much like The Black Widow. But where they succeeded, Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto failed miserably.

The kind worth killing : A review


Author: Peter Swanson

Rating: 4/5

Link: The kind worth killing

Pages: 312

A thriller is as good as the thrill. A murder is as good as the hidden body.


One word that best describes, ‘The kind worth killing’, is “Shock”. Peter Swanson shocks the readers just when they are getting too comfortable with the plot.

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” (goodreads)

The synopsis looks like a modern re-telling of the classic, “Strangers on a Train”. It is that and much more. Committing a murder is easy so is hiding the body. But hiding the very fact that a murder has taken place is an art, an art that the female protagonist of the story, Lily Kintner is well versed with.

I have always had a soft spot for novels with female leads and Lily Kintner does not disappoint. She is calm, patient and strong. She commits murder with her brain and not brawns. Her penchant for murder mysteries, especially all those Agatha Christie’s she read in her childhood gave her an uncanny ability to kill and get away with it.

Peter Swanson gives all the characters a strong foundation through a telling of their past. The story is written in chapters as told by different characters in first person. The story gets your undivided attention right from the first scene. The kind worth killing is what I call a true page turner; easy to read and hard to put down.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


Author: Graeme Simsion

Pages: 295

Rating: 5/5

Link: The Rosie Project

This novel is like a cupid’s arrow. It will make you fall in love with everyone who is around you, even that stranger on the subway, you made eye contact with months ago.The Rosie project is a silly little romantic comical tale of Don Tillman finding and falling in love.

The book is a quick read and by quick read, I mean you can complete this novel in one sitting. The narration is simple and in first person. Not only that, the book is hard to put down. The novel is like that piece of chocolate cake, you think you can have just one bite but you end up eating the whole cake. The story is fast paced, so better pick it up on a weekend.

Don Tillman is a genetics professor with Asperger’s syndrome. Wait, this description doesn’t do justice to Don, Don Tillman is a ninja, who can do aikido and cook lobster.

In his quest to find a perfect partner for himself, Don comes up with a wife project, a series of questions that would help Don find a perfect match. Rosie Jarman is everything opposite to what Don is looking for. She smokes, works as a barmaid, can’t cook and has no proclivity towards being punctual. But like Don said, with the exception of her careless attitude to health, Rosie had never exhibited any sign of brain malfunction.

After meeting Rosie, Don’s wife project took a backseat and Rosie’s father project becomes the center of his universe; a quest to find Rosie’s real father. It would take Don from Australia to New York.

This novel is laugh out loud hilarious. My advice, from my personal misfortunes is, don’t read it while eating or drinking or with anything hot like coffee in your hand. With this novel you never know when uncontrollable laughter hits you

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins

Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5

Link: The Girl on the Train

Damn! That girl can drink.

As I read through the novel, as I watched words turn into sentences and sentences into stories, Rachel, the protagonist of the story got drunk, more and more, with every turn of the page.

At first I had a bit of a difficulty following the storyline as I was not paying much attention. But once I got my head into it, the story got more and more interesting. The story is told from the perspective of three women, Rachel, Megan and Anna, over different timelines.

The novel is definitely a page turner, especially in the second half of the book. Rachel is an alcoholic, with zero will power. You will watch her stumble and tumble from one drunken stupor to another. A good novel always ignites strong (good or bad but strong) feelings in the minds of the reader regarding the protagonist. I felt sympathy, empathy, anger, frustration, disappointment towards Rachel over the course of the book.

The writing is amazing. The sentences are well framed and flow into one another with such an ease which is the true sign of a seasoned writer. The suspense will make you point fingers at everyone at one point or another.

Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann

51U4ZF5okvL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Indian Summer: The Secret History Of The End Of An Empire.

Author: Alex Von Tunzelmann

Pages: 464

Rating: 5/5

This is not just another history book, it is a masterpiece. A well researched and documented volume that tells the story of the last days of an empire hell bent on saving its face and hoping for a graceful exit.

The larger part of the book is taken up by the life and actions of the last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, a man with king-making as his favorite sport. It would be spot on to call him, the protagonist of this story.

The book is filled with promising characters and gives a clear picture of their roles in the last days of the empire. Gandhi, the most colossal experiment in world history, Jinnah, with his smooth coiffure and venomnous glittering stare. Fatima, a woman of intelligence and drive, influential in her brother’s move towards Islamism, and last but not the least Nehru, the man who would usher Indian into independence with his “a tryst with destiny” speech.

In describing this book, I used the words – the last days of the empire and not the last days of India’s struggle for independence because by the time Mountbatten was appointed as the Viceroy, India’s fate as an independent nation was sealed. What remained to be done was how to transfer the power from the hands of British to either a united democratic India or a divided one.

The best part of the novel is the narration. It is told in a way that gives it an appearance of an epic historical novel rather than a factual history book. The novel gives an unbiased opinion on how and in what manner the British winded up the raj in their crown jewel of a colony, India. It states all the facts clearly so that readers can make their own mind as to whether it was a graceful decline or a majestic and ignominious fall.

Today, in India a great deal of credit is given to Patel for his role in negotiating with the states, but very little credit is given to Mountbatten for his role in making it happen. This book, focuses on the behind the scenes role played by Mountbatten in negotiating and at times arm twisting the native princes. Mountbatten may not have been able to give Patel a complete basket of apples, but it is striking that he managed to secure as many as he did. 

This novel is filled with quotes that you would want to frame and paste on your walls.

Lastly, this book is not just the story of the last days of the empire; it is a story of love, negotiations, haughty characters, budding friendships and sacrifices.

Note: The events in this novel cover the time period from the last days of the empire till a little after India’s independence. For events on India’s struggle for independence, I would suggest you read the wonderful book by Bipin Chandra titled, India’s struggle for Independence.

Me before You by JoJo Moyes: A review 

Author: JoJo Moyes, Rating: 3.5/5, Title: Me Before You, Pages: 369

Where does the spirit go when your body breaks? Will traynor is man broken in spirit by a tragic accident that caused substantial spinal injury. He is a c5/6 quadriplegic who wish to end his life. Lou or Louisia is a small town girl, brought into will’s life for mere six months. 

Me before you is an adventurous, romantic, tragic and a time bound tale of Lou and Will, criss crossing each other’s path. Will trying to make Louisia see a life outside her small cocoon and Louisia trying to make Will see a life that can exist even with his disability.

Jojo moyes has written a remarkable story that deals with a controversial subject of euthanasia. The best part of the story is how realistic things are; the characters, the families, the plans that at times go awry as well as the ending.

The families of will and lou have been portrayed with utmost perfection. The perfect-imperfect bond between Lou and her sister and the tribulations of a middle class family makes you feel right at home.

The pace of the story is a bit slow in the beginning, but develops a keen interest with next few chapters, so much so that by the time you reach the middle, it is hard to put down.

The writing is good but not extraordinary. There were hardly any lines or scenes that will stick with you forever. Usually these types of novels excite strong emotions, but there were no laugh out loud moments in this one. Everything was so mellowed down. If I compare it with novels like the fault in our stars (in which I cried buckets and buckets of tears), it has subdued emotions. 

However I do want to point out one thing in the writing, the writing is subtle and so strong that even though it didn’t made me laugh out loud or cry, it had my undivided attention on every single page and every single line. Especially the way the author revealed the tragic incident in Lou’s own past, it was so gently and yet strongly disclosed, that when I realised what had happened I had nothing but praise for the author for writing it that way.

Even though this storyline has been explored and documented in many novels, movies and TV shows, I find ‘me before you’ a fresh, sweet love story.