Monday, February 06, 2012

January Reading …


I began the year reading a Devdutt Pattanaik book and then continued with the usual Sherlock and 3I … and then continued picking up new authors and started reading the Famous Five series.

The month saw me begin the year in Dubai, then travel to Mumbai and stay there for a week followed by a week-long visit to Gujarat-Rajasthan (temple visits) and finally coming to Dubai for a week and then back to Mumbai …. PHEW !! That being my first month of the year … does it anyway indicate how the rest of my year is going to be? I am scared already!

Lot of travel would have meant a lot of reading but the first read was slow and I was hardly able to read anything during my 5 day trip to Rajasthan simply because the car would shake like crazy on the Rajasthan roads (AND my wife won't allow me to read while in her company) and the train journeys were mostly during the night … and the night was COLD !

My Pune trips give me little time for reading as I am spending the morning journey sleeping and evening journey in darkness of the vehicle (I could read on the Tablet but the roads again get shaky as we approach the city)

Travelled Mumbai-Dubai using Kingfisher again this month and they did not have anything new to offer in their in-flight entertainment system so I used that time for reading J

Reading Score for the month – 10 … which is good considering I read a couple of full length books/novels, one of which was a full 600 page action thriller.


1. Myth = Mithya by Devdutt Pattanaik  

I started reading the book on 1st Jan itself and once I had read the first 3-4 pages; I was hooked.

As I have written earlier while reviewing '7 Secrets of Shiva' … Devdutt Pattanaik (DP) explains the symbolism of Hindu mythology and Hindu Gods. M=M is a book with a wider range of subject (unlike 7 secrets of Shiva which was focused on Shiva) and looks at various aspects of our mythology.

The book, in the introduction itself, explains the significance of myth as well as mythology AND why they are needed. And more importantly, what do these terms actually mean. DP covers a lot of ground in this book; telling us a little bit about everything from Hindu Mythology.

It was an interesting but slow read. The book does not really have a flow. You can read it in bits and pieces and open up any page from the book and start reading.

The book though interesting, is not an 'unputdownable'; hence a slow one. It is also slow, because you read and absorb and think and then resume reading again.


2. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Headless Horse by William Arden

I am sure they could have had a better 'more relevant' name for the story. Yes, there is indeed a headless horse but it is not really the centre of the story. Yes, we come across it in the beginning and it makes it appearance in the climax but nothing more than that. But then, it is an interesting title and if you feel your book will sell by the book title ... why not!!

The story has the 3 boys getting emotionally involved with a family trying to save their heritage and land. They find that the family history talks about something that could be valuable today but no one has heard the whereabouts of that object; a sword, for over 100 years and the last known records of its sighting are almost 140 year old. The trio manages to unravel the mystery behind the sequence and accuracy of the events from that era and Jupiter even deduces the exact location of the lost relic.


3. Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The fourth and the last of the Sherlock Holmes long stories / short novels (novella).

An interesting start this novel has with Sherlock looking at a typical cryptic message whose cipher is not available. He knows that the cipher is actually the name of the book which was used to construct the message. He uses his usual deductive logic to point out the exact book (albeit after a small mistake) from the multitudes of books and decodes the message only to find that it is but a danger warning.

This story introduces us (in a lot of detail) to Sherlock's arch enemy Dr. Moriarty whom Sherlock considers as the most dangerous and shrewd/cunning criminal.

Like the first Sherlock Holmes novel, this story is in 2 parts, the first involving the mystery and Sherlock's deductions. The second part gives the historical context of the case. The story is interesting but when you are reading a detective novel, such historical monologue which does not bear upon the case in hand can be boring.

The story once again shows how Sherlock thinks different and can solve a case on the most curious of clues which others might consider insignificant. In this case, Sherlock is intrigued by a missing dumbbell from the murder scene and remarks that the case is literally hanging on to the missing dumb bell.


4. The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

This is the first Famous Five book I am reading. I missed reading them in my school days so making up for a lost chance; 20 years later. 

The story being the first one of the series introduces and brings the star cast together. The five characters of the 'Famous Five' come together during the course of this story. And those who have not read TFF; well, let me tell you that the Famous Five is actually composed of 2 boys, 2 girls and …. A DOG !!!

The book is often childish … the famous five themselves being kids (not even teenagers). The language is simple and the stories try to touch upon basic virtues and mannerisms which would be a good message to send to the audience who would be kids … unlike readers like me who have left their childhood and teenage far behind :)

A treasure is always a very interesting thing and this particular story had a treasure along with a Ship Wreck and an island where the adventure takes place. All these put together would be very exciting for the kids to read.

Wish I had read this series in my school days … but it is never too late since the kiddo inside me is forever 'alive and kicking'


5. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Magic Circle by M V Carrey

An old time movie actress is suddenly interested in getting her memoirs published and also selling her movie rights which are of considerable value. Both done; the movie tapes and the manuscript both get stolen.

Something is fishy bcos the lady does not meet or interact with anyone. She deals with the outer world only and only thorough her one-time Driver, now Secretary. The trio begins to investigate only to discover that she is a Witch (or at least, most people believe so) and she also had a coven (a group of 13 members who form a group with a witch).

But then, all is seldom what it seems to be J


6. Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Back to the Sherlock Holmes Short Stories (By the way; I also saw the Sherlock Holmes movie this month and discovered that a new author has recently published a Sherlock Holmes Novel)

This story has a surprise in the form of Mycroft, Sherlock's brother, who isn't really known to break his routine. He visits Sherlock (which is very much out of routine) and gives him a case of international and political significance.

Sherlock, once again, forms a theory which is almost unthinkable by others and goes ahead and proves the same. After reading half the story, I had some recollections of the plot from my childhood reading.


7. Sign of the Cross by Chris Kuzneski

This is my first Kuzneski and I was hooked after the first few pages. The story had the texture of Dan Brown (Secrecy, Christianity, Belief / Faith) and the pace and style of Ludlum (fast paced action thriller with touches of light humor). Imagine reading something light like The Famous Five and then moving onto something hard n heavy like Kuzneski.

I liked the Sign of Cross and will be attempting to read all of Kuzneski's work this year … its now about getting my hands on them. (I also need to get my hands on the latest Matthew Reilly novel too)

The story revolves around a BIG secret being discovered (all right … that's not exactly correct)

The story revolves around discovering the PROOF being a really BIG Secret which can shake the foundation of Christianity … while a series of planned executionary murders are taking place across the globe where the victims are being crucified in public places. Jonathon Payne and David Jones are the recurrent characters of the Chris Kuzneski novels who are engaged to search for a rogue international Arts thief who seems to be an archeologist but seems connected to CIA and then has connections to the villains men …. Aaah … it all gets too confusing and damn interesting !!

It was nice reading a 600 page action packed novel … the last time I read something of this magnitude was in 2010 when I read Matthew Reilly.


8. Sherlock Holmes: The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A decent tale about a lady disappearing and Sherlock sending Watson to track her down. They almost find her and then when they search a house, they don't find her. Sherlock suffers a set-back. He knows something is wrong and he has missed something.

Well … all's well that end well. He eventually manages to rescue the lady 'literally' from her death bed !!


9. The Three Investigators & the Mystery of the Deadly Double by William Arden

The three Investigators plan for a 'normal' day of fun. They plan to visit an amusement park and Jupe gets kidnapped on the way. He escapes but the kidnappers don't relax. Meanwhile, the trio gets a case which is related to Jupe's kidnapping.

It's a curious case where Jupe gets kidnapped once again (although voluntarily) and Bob & Pete have to take lead in the absence of their de facto leader.  An interesting case where Royalty is involved and a country's political future is at stake.


10. The Famous Five: Five Go Adventuring Again by Enid Blyton

I picked up another Famous Five for this month. The five are brought together again in an adventure. The Famous Five stories are written in the innocent childish manner and that is something of a change for me. I was enjoying the simplicity and innocence.

The second story brings the kids back to Kirrin Cottage and the holidays are set to be boring b'cos they have a tutor for the holidays !  But then when the Famous Five come together, how can things be boring. The mystery & adventure revolves around Kirrin cottage and Kirrin Farm House which is nearby. They go about visiting the farm house only to discover some interesting passages and things … and then they discover a MAP J Well, whenever a map is involved, it can only mean secret passages/paths and / or treasures.


A month of variety … Read a book on Hindu mythology and a novel which was an action thriller with historical Christianity background … Read innocent adventure of kids & famous detective stuff ….

I read 2 new authors in this month … Enid Blyton & Chris Kuzneski both belonging to different writing styles … although both wrote adventure kind of stories; their target audience belonged to different age groups. One wrote for kids, the other for mature adults. I enjoyed reading both.

I am looking forward to new authors in February too and an exciting roller coaster adventure thriller too J (YES, I am reading the latest from Matthew Reilly in Feb)


Series Completion Score: (as of 31st Jan 2012)

Three Investigators     28 out of 63

Sherlock Holmes         46 out of 60

Famous Five                02 out of 21

Total                           76 out of 144

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