Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey

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Rating: 4/5

Author: Johanna Lindsey

Genre: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper

Link: Fires of Winter

Pages: 362

The Fires of Winter is a very absorbing, witty and sensual historical romance.

Brenna Carmarham is not some simpering cowering maid, she has been raised by her father as a son. She may be a quarter of the size of a Viking but give her a sword and she might prove a match. Garrick is a Viking merchant who already had his heart broken by a woman. When people with such conflicting and bold personalities are together, sparks are bound to ignite fire.

The squabbles and quarrels between Brenna and Garrick were quite charming and a very mushy read. The sensual scenes were so hot that they could steam the Viking (Norwegian) cold.

The novel is fast paced and has all the elements of a bodice ripper. The heroine gets kidnapped/abducted and eventually falls in love with her captor. But even with a clichéd storyline, the novel is thoroughly entertaining. This has more to do with the writing skills of Johanna Lindsey, who manages to keep the elements of humor, sex, action and adventure, well balanced.

If you turn a blind eye to all the mention of rapes that happen in the background (which are always a major element in bodice rippers), this novel is actually a very romantic read.

By the end, the built up suspense was so high that it was difficult to put the novel down. Even when I thought that there were no new surprises left, Johanna Lindsey managed to throw one or two in the end.

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Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham.

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Rating: 3.5/5

Author: John Grisham

Pages: 344

Link: Rogue Lawyer

I thought I was done with John Grisham after the disastrous debacle that was “Sycamore Row”, but Rogue Lawyer was like a breath of fresh air. It was a typical Grisham novel; gritty, witty and difficult to put down.

Sebastian Rudd is not your typical lawyer; he works from a black mini-van equipped with everything from a mini fridge to wifi. He carries a gun and is always accompanied by a bodyguard. He believes everyone is entitled to a defense and his clients are not always clean and innocent.

Grisham’s new novel was a surprise for me. What I thought was a one big story turned out to be short stories of Sebastian Rudd. It is a collection of cases, where Rudd takes on clients no one else is willing to. The stories are fast paced and as they are short, Grisham made them entertaining as hell.

Like his other novels, the Rogue Lawyer is also a pure legal thriller. The well researched court room antics keeps one thoroughly entertained. Grisham did try to build a bit of family drama around Sebastian Rudd. Rudd’s relationship with his son and his estranged ex wife was explored but I felt it was left hanging at the end. The only thing that I find disappointing was the ending. The stories were good, but there were way too many loose ends, which made the ending a bit abstract. I could only hope this built up was for a sequel.

The rogue lawyer is a very easy breezy read. Some chapters are as small as a single page and almost all the stories have a predictable ending. It is something you can pick when you are in mood for an entertaining light legal thriller.

Saga Volume 1: A review.

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Rating: 5/5 Author: Brian K Vaughan Artist: Fiona Staples Link: Saga Volume 1

Here are 10 short points why to read Saga?

  1. It is funny as hell.
  2. It has explicit sex scenes that go well with the story.
  3. It has Lying Cat.
  4. Marko is hot as hell.
  5. Super Villains: Robot Prince IV, The Stalk, The Will. (to name a few)
  6. Did I mention Marko is hot as hell? Well, he deserves two points for being just so Hot.
  7. Flying Tree Rocketship.
  8. Cool Spells.
  9. It is set in the galaxy. So it is Star Wars yet not just another Star Wars.
  10. What if the war between Landfall and Wreath comes to our doorstep? On which side would Earth be? Read to make an informed choice.

Original, Addictive and Humorous is the best way to describe Saga.

A love story set in the troublesome times in a far away galaxy, spanning different moons and planets. Marko and Alana, two soldiers from wreath and landfall, fall in love despite their respective moon and planet being at war for generations. The saga is the story of their family trying to find refuge and survival amidst that war.

The best part of the novel is its originality. I never thought I would see such originality after having read so many sci-fi comics and novels and seen so many sci-fi movies. The Robot Prince IV, The lying cat and Stalk the freelance assassin are some of the characters who will be etched in your memory forever and ever.

Brian K Vaughan has penned a very interesting story, but for me, the real charm was the artwork. All thanks to Fiona Staples for bringing the originality of the characters on paper. The artwork is phenomenal. The striking bold lines give expression to every single emotion. The artwork is bold and beautiful. Bold, not just because of the nudity but because of its no holds barred attitude.

The humor fits the family on run for their lives. The chemistry between Marko and Alana is remarkable. The story and artwork is so incredible that it will make you fall in love and sympathies with heroes and villains alike.

The novel collects issues #1-6 and is a page turner filled with shocks and surprises at every nook and corner.

 

Superman: Secret Origin. A review.

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Rating:4/5 Author: Geoff Johns Illustrator: Gary Frank, Jon Sibal Link: Secret Origin

I love origin stories and Superman Secret Origin did not disappoint. It reminds me a lot of Mark Waid’s Birthright, especially the artwork. But this story begins much early. Clark Kent as a teenager struggles to control his powers and discovers who he really is!

The story begins with the difficult adolescent school years of Clark and then comes the big revelation. I love it how irrationally Clark acts, just like a typical teenager. The first issue also gives us a glimpse into Lex Luther’s past; his eccentricity and issues with his own father.

The second issue starts brilliantly but somewhere in the middle goes way off track with characters like cosmic boy, saturn girl and lightning lad roped in from the future. Thankfully, the writer abandoned it after one issue.

The adult Clark Kent, naïve and polite, enters the metropolitan city to work at Daily Planet. But the city is not what he had imagined. The people are rude and the city is under uncanny control of Lex Luther, except for Daily Planet; standing tall but crumbling under pressure.

There are a lot interesting characters like the chief, Lois Lane and Jimmy.

The artwork in stunning, the long shots of skyscrapers, the full body close ups of Superman, from detailed expressions to the folds in the clothes, the artwork is crisp and clear with no blurred lines.

The volume collects six issues. Six issues of stunning artwork, mild humor, action, drama and Superman. What more can one ask for?

Ms. Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why

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Rating: 5/5 Author: Willow Wilson Artist: Adrian Alphona Link: Ms. Marvel

This is the first time I find a comic sequel as good as the first one, even better maybe.

Nerdy interests, conservative parents and poly morphing super powers, Kamala Khan sure had an adventurous volume one. And now in this sequel, Ms. Marvel, our very own Jersey City superhero, finally come face to face with the Inventor!

Crocs and Skint!

Ms Marvel gets her shoes dirty as she descents into the sewers of Jersey City and faces the Inventor. What I thought was a chicken at first sight turned out to be a Bird…err…correction, not just any bird but a cockatiel. Inventor may not be the baddest of the super villains we have seen Marvel throw at us, but he sure knows how to create nuisance with his bionic alligators.

But that’s not all in store in the sewers. We have Wolverine!!!

*Such Athletic* *Very Claws* *Much Amaze*

Even though she doesn’t like punching animals, Ms. Marvel and Wolverine team up to fight the bionic alligators. The writing is amusing and the artwork, remarkable. Especially the scene where Ms Marvel and Wolverine are climbing out of the sewer and you can see the dinosaur bones in the background buried in the ground. It is this sort of attention to background details that I find astonishing.

Come here you big fluffy thing!

Just when I thought this issue can’t get any better, enters LockJaw! The cutest and most humongous thing you would have ever seen. Lockjaw like hugs and can teleport.

But things get serious soon enough, as serious as they can get in this funny series. Ms. Marvel must put an end to the bird’s menace, err…I mean Cockatiel’s menace, before he brain washes any more kids into doing his bidding.

The dynamic duo, Wilson and Alphona, have penned another great volume of Ms Marvel. So much is packed in these five issues that collects #6-11, there is humor, action, wolverine, lockjaw, cockatiel villain and new realizations for Ms. Marvel as to who she really is!

Ms. Marvel Vol 1: No Normal

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Rating: 5/5 Author: Willow Wilson Illustrator: Adrian Alphona Link: Ms. Marvel

Who is Kamala Khan?

Kamala Khan is a sixteen year old Muslim girl trying to juggle her culture, religion and freedom. Her family moved to Jersey City from Pakistan but Kamala is a Jersey City girl born and brought up here.

Even before all the superpowers, her life is complicated enough. She loves the smell of bacon but does not eat it as her religion prohibits. She writes about avenger fan fiction and visits mosque with her brother for youth lectures. Kamala Khan is the living embodiment of every single teenager who is trying to balance his/her life on the swing set of east and west.

Kamala struggles to balance the restrictions imposed by her worrisome parents with her own yearning desire for freedom and fun. The incident of Terrigen Mist gives Kamala superpowers to shapeshift and the brown girl with dark brown hair shape shifts into the white and blond Ms. Marvel. But being a superhero is not like she expected, she does not feel strong and beautiful, instead she felt freaked and underdressed, with a horrid realization that superhero costumes doesn’t include underwear.

The people who made it happen:

Willow Wilson has done an outstanding job in penning this story. A story that is not just about a superhero crusade but a coming of age, cross-culture adventure.

The most important thing in comics is artwork. Even good stories are doomed to fail if the artwork does not appeal to the audience. I believe Adrian Alphona has set new standards with her illustrations in Ms. Marvel.

The artwork is so remarkable and extraordinary that even if I unload a whole thesaurus of praise, I still won’t be able to do justice. The dialogues are no doubt funny but here the humor in the artwork speaks volume; it’s funny, detailed, perky and fresh. While reading this volume, I was paying more attention to the background art than the dialogues in the bubble. For the first time I felt that the artwork was a page turner. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Kamala’s trials and tribulations with her conservative family are beautifully portrayed. The characters in her family (brother Aamir, mom and dad) appear so real and authentic that minus the superhero part, it would appear like a story of your next door teenager.

Ms. Marvel is here to take on the Marvel Universe by storm and I for one am picking up the next volume.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife: A review

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Author: Elizabeth LaBan

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 306

Link: The Restaurant Critic’s Wife

I received a digital copy of this book from Lake Union publishers through Net Galley for an honest review.

 

The restaurant critic’s wife was a sumptuous read flavored with comedy, suspense, drama, indecision and of course, good food.

The book was, in a way, much like a well prepared four course meal. Right from the look and feel of the cover art to the depths of emotional yet funny drama, each chapter felt like peeling a different layer, keeping the taste buds alive.

The restaurant critic’s wife is the tale of Lila Soto, who moves to Philadelphia along with her husband, Sam Soto. Sam is a Restaurant Critic and wants to give this new gig a chance. But Sam’s preoccupation with anonymity takes him to extremes and pushes Lila into a life of solitude. Lila craves for company, her work and a return to semblance of normalcy.

The novel focuses not just on the taxing relationship between a husband and his wife but also tests the waters of motherhood and career.

Elizabeth LaBan has put in a lot of work building the characters, be it Sam, Lila or people from their neighborhood. Every single character is penned to perfection. Lila, a devoted wife, who bends over backwards to support her husband’s dream job and tries her level best to secure his anonymity at the cost of her own social life and job. Sam, a food critic, who believes that everything, including his family’s comfort can be sacrificed for his job.

The book has a pleasing-to-the-palate humor. I admit to laughing out loud at scenes from review dinners. It is the kind of humor that one finds in Wodehouse novels; light and pleasant. Humor that brings a smile on your face throughout the read.

The author penned every scene to its full advantage never once leaving the grounds of reality. The trial and tribulations of a new mother, are shown beautifully. Be it fixing baby seats in car, to visiting aunts, the elements of humor and drama are never under or over done. However I do feel that the author missed one opportunity. Lila has been shown struggling with her kids, getting them dressed, getting them in car seats or getting them to eat properly. It would have been so much fun to see Lila struggling with baby baths too.

The writing is very refined. There are no abrupt breaks and words flow like melted cheese. The story is no doubt beautiful but the writing is what makes this novel a wonderful read.

I like it how the author portrayed the feelings of young child when she had to share the attention with a new born baby in the house. How Hazel (Lila’s daughter) kept saying “There is no baby.”

The story is fast paced. Every single chapter brought some new twist or trouble in the life of Lila. The novel made me laugh and at times, characters like Sam Soto got so high up on my nerves that I wished I could somehow reach inside the novel and punch the guy!

For all those with the love for humor, family, protagonist female character and food, dive right in!