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Thursday, August 02, 2012

July Reading – Part 1

 

After an astounding quarter with a total reading going beyond 75, I was not sure if July would live up to the trend or prove to be an anti-climactic month. The demands of the new job were set to reduce my 'fiction' reading time and increase work related reading. As anticipated, there is a non-fiction addition to my reading this month (albeit a light one). A bit of travel helped me to increase my reading score.    

The novels of the month were the Mayan Resurrection (Sequel to Mayan Prophecy) by Steve Alten, the Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum and the 3 Mistakes of My Life by Chetan Bhagat. Between them, I continued reading the short story regulars - 4 Satyajit Ray stories, 5 by Philip K. Dick, 9 from the Misadventure series while 2 from the Exploits series of Sherlock Holmes.

With the 4 Satyajit Ray stories I read, that completed the 'Best of Satyajit Ray' collection of 21 stories. Wish more of his work gets translated to English. I came to know recently that some of Prof. Shonkhu stories are indeed available in English (I had a different impression) so now I got to lay my hands on them.

New authors this month: Chetan Bhagat. Don't be surprised to see his name as 'new author' in my post. I have not read any of his books (until this month that is). The third edition of the Mysterious Traveler Magazine had another set of 6 short stories by 6 different lesser known (literally unknown) authors and the Sherlock Holmes Misadventures were by different authors again. Both novels that I read were by already familiar authors. I also discovered 2 very short Sherlock Holmes stories written by Canon Doyle.

A phenomenal reading score of 33 for this month; (so this post gets split in 4 parts instead of the regular 3 every month).

 

1. The Mayan Resurrection by Steve Alten

After reading the Mayan Prophecy in May, I had ordered the other two books of the trilogy. The Mayan Resurrection picks up the story from where part 1 left it. The story now shift focus from the protagonist of part 1 (who is lost in some parallel universe in a time warp or something) to his wife and his (yet unborn) twin sons.  The pregnant wife is paranoid about her safety and comes across another lady who seems to come with a message from Michael or his mother.

There is a conspiracy to protect as well as kill the 2 kids. The kids themselves, in spite of being twins, are pretty much different from each other. And there is a third kid (a girl) who is supposed to be the evil (who would prevent the kids from achieving their goals).

The story moves a lot between past, present and future and also parts where the 3 of them or at least 2 of them converge. Time travel through wormholes and time warps enable the meeting of the different eras. A few mysteries are left unexplained amid the evolution of the human species. There are parts of the story which I felt acted as fillers or just to build up some sort of foundation. These were avoidable and would have made the novel shorter.

The 600+ page long novel an interesting mixing mythology, time travel (sort of), out-of-body experiences, history, technology, fantasy and science fiction … all in a single package. Now I am looking forward to reading the last and final episode of this trilogy.

 

2-7. The Mysterious Traveler Magazine - Oct 2006 edition (6 short stories)

Picked up yet another edition of MTM with 6 interesting short stories themed around Terror

Mystery - Devil's Night by Jay Norman

A tired man arrives at a Motel and senses something amiss. He investigates a suspicious room and finds traces of evidence indicating murder. He accuses the old motel owner of the crime and asks him to come clean and tell him everything. The old man's story brings the twist in the tale.    

Strange Stories - Second Chance by Charles Morgan

Would you live life differently if you were given a second chance? Would you live it differently (and more on the 'good' side), if you died and were sentenced to go to hell and given another chance to make good? Our man in the story gets this 'second chance' but the anti-climactic end of the story teaches us something else.

Crime - Favorite Chair by Mark Zahn

Imagine returning late into the night to your lonely apartment and your lonely life; only to find a dead man (well … almost dying man) sitting on your favorite chair. While you are grappling with this discovery, you hear the police sirens around your apartment. I am sure this can be a life altering moment in life. And this is exactly what happened to a girl.   

Suspense - The Fourth Man by William A. Hall

In the era of cut-throat competition and greed, people tend to go to great lengths to ensure their wealth and increase it beyond what they deserve. Sadly they don't even mind using criminal means to achieve more. This story is about corporate murders where people are being knocked off before they can lay a claim on a portion of the corporate wealth. The climax has an interesting twist in the tale with elements of suspense. 

The Macabre - Carved by Mark Allan Reynolds

This one was a proper traditional horror story with the background of Halloween, carved pumpkins, an old man, a seemingly haunted house and one very scared kid.

Short Shocker - Jack & the Devil by 'The Mysterious Traveler'

A 2-page short story about a man who tricks Satan and then ends up between heaven and hell (after his death of course) as Heaven won't admit him (for his sins, mischief and pranks on innocent souls) and Hell won't let him rest (a revenge for tricking him).  

 

8. Adjustment Team by Philip K Dick

 

Having read 3 of his short stories last month, I decided to pick up a few more stories which have a Hollywood connection. The movie in question this time is 'The Adjustment Bureau' and I have not seen the movie.

The story itself was pretty interesting. A higher power changing things in reality so that fate may follow its due course … something like doing minor 'adjustments' to reality. A clerical error leads to a person 'discovering' this adjustment phenomenon and how he is 'enlightened' to arrangement. The climax of the story was pretty anti-climactic.

From what I read about the movie on IMDB; the movie is neither based on the story nor an adaptation; it is only inspired by it. It borrows the concept of the "adjustment team's actions and authority to regulate FATE" 

 

9. Sherlock Misadventures: The Stranger Unravels a Mystery by John Kendrick Bangs

It turned out to be a damn confusing story with a host of characters put into the storyline (who are not supposed to be there). Imagine Socrates, Confucius, Shakespeare, Noah, Solomon, Caesar, Napoleon etc all in one room struggling with a problem which Sherlock Holmes offers to resolve. This story is not about THAT mystery but more of the dialogue the esteemed gentlemen are having about the mystery and Sherlock's deductions related to it and his telling them about a previous case of his where he recovered a lost tiara (a crown) without even moving out of his room.

 

To Be Continued …

 

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