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Book Nook - 04-12-2017

Monday, December 04, 2017

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to

Rapp On The Head
Vince Flynn, who created the character of CIA spy and assassin Mitch Rapp passed away leaving the fourteenth book—The Survivor-- in the series incomplete. Kyle Mills was assigned to complete this book and write two more. (It is a publishing trend now to keep bestselling characters alive, when the original writes dies.)

Enemy Of The State is the sixteenth book starring Mitch Rapp (in the film, American Assassin, Dylan O’Brien plays Rapp), who is legendary in espionage circles for having carried out many successful hits and also being virtually indestructible. He is a patriot and will go to any lengths to destroy enemies of the US and protect his country, for which he has the support of his boss, Irene Kennedy. Rapp lost his pregnant wife in an attack on his life and is just about settling down with his new flame Claudia (she has a back story to do with espionage too) and her daughter Anna, when he is thrown into a cauldron by American President, Joshua Alexander.

Saudi prince, Prince Talal bin Musaid, nephew of the old and toothless King Faisal gets mixed up with the ISIS. He is an entitled fool, who takes his position for granted. But he is spotted handing over money to an ISIS courier, and alarm bells ring in the US.  Meanwhile, Saudi Intelligence chief, Aali Nassar, is plotting and scheming a coup to seize control on the Middle East with the help of the ISIS head Mullah Sayid Halabi.

Alexander summons Rapp for a secret meeting and tells him to deal with the problem and prevent their post 9/11 alliance with the Saudis from being exposed. The problem is that he has to do it unofficially, so if he is caught or killed, the US would disown him. Rapp resigns from the CIA and forms his own rogue group with erstwhile Russian foe Grisha Azarov, former model and lover Donatella Rahn and gun-running sniper Kent Black; Claudia comes in as the logistics expert.

A lot of the action takes place in dusty South Sudan, taking in Iraq, Morocco, Monaco, Paris and Brussels as the gang rushes about trying to douse the fires Nassar has lit.  Nassar puts an old FBI investigator Joel Wilson on the job to trace Rapp, well aware that the man hates Rapp with a passion.
It is all fast-paced fun, if the racism can be tolerated; the book makes no bones about making the Americans look like the smartest, bravest people on the planet.

Enemy Of The State
By Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 400

Eminent economic analyst, Pranjal Sharma, has written a well-researched book on how post-Independence Indian industry has used technology-- in all areas-- to grow.  According to the synopsis, “In the seventy years of its independence, India has leapfrogged to become a high-growth economy fuelled by advanced business and consumer technologies. Since smartphones and cloud computing became popular five years ago, the fourth industrial revolution has been creeping into almost all sectors of the Indian economy. Technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, advanced robotics and neuroscience are transforming businesses faster than we realize.

“Kranti Nation: India and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the first book to chronicle, through more than fifty examples, how visionary leadership in Indian industry is deploying these technologies. From water pumps to railway coaches, chai shops to burger chains, and telecom towers to warehouses, economic analyst Pranjal Sharma profiles organizations that have transformed their processes, products and services while delivering the best to consumers.”

Kranti Nation: India And The Fourth Industrial Revolution
By Pranjal Sharma
Publisher: Panmacmillan
Pages: 263
Communications professional Ketan Vaidya turns his attention on the changing character of Mumbai. Says the synopsis, “What is common to a decrepit old tenement in Central Mumbai undergoing redevelopment, a disillusioned retired trade unionist mill worker Ganpatrao Padwal and his son Raghu Padwal? Hope Express takes you through the sights and smells of the maximum city sometimes through Raghu and his petty news world of crime, scandal and gossip and sometimes through the chawl and its motley characters. Narrated with smells of fried Bombay duck, sounds of 'fast underarm' cricket tournaments and sights of a working class Mumbai that is fast fading away, Hope Express is an authentic story of that fast changing landscape in the twenty first century Mumbai.

Hope Express: Tomorrow Is A New Day
By Ketan Vaidya
Publisher: Lifi
Pages: 129

The story of Ramona grew out of Manoj V. Jain’s last book, Balraj.  The synopsis reads, “ Sitting on an armchair near the window, Ramona--separated, mother of a son and a cookery teacher--muses on the events that have happened in her life in the recent past. A letter from her husband, not even nearly justifying his mysterious disappearance, shocks her and topples her world upside down. Bombarded by a thousand questions, accusations, a tumult of emotions and confusion, she begins to untie the knots one at a time with help from her family. But what she wasn't able to do over months, a stranger does within a matter of minutes.”

By Manoj Jain
Publisher: Notion Press
Pages: 110

Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography, gets a simplified edition for young readers, with pages of comics, and it will delight kiddie fans of the cricketer.  The synopsis reads, “My father set me free at the age of eleven when he told me ‘Chase your dreams, but make sure you don’t find shortcuts to them.’“In his career spanning 24 years, hardly any records have escaped Sachin Tendulkar’s masterly touch. Besides being the highest run scorer in Tests and ODIs, he also uniquely became the first and only batsman to score 100 international centuries and play 200 Tests. His proficient stroke-making is legendary, as is his ability to score runs in all parts of the field and all over the world.  Coming from a middle-class family in Mumbai, Sachin, who was quite mischievous as a boy, grew up to show - as player and captain - how targets can be achieved and dreams can be made to come true. No wonder then, that his passion for cricket, his pride in his country and his exemplary conduct on and off the field have made him the beloved of billions and a role model for generations to come. Read his story to know the deepest details of his eventful life.”

Chase Your Dreams
By: Sachin Tendulkar with Boria Majumdar
Publisher: Hachette
Pages: 244

Short and wicked
After completing the multi-volume Clifton Chronicles, Jeffrey Archer comes out with Tell Tale, a collection on thirteen enjoyable short stories.

The first story, Who Killed the Mayor, is the best, and sets the tone for the others, in a few of which clever people get away with crime. In this story, a young Neapolitan detective is sent to an idyllic town in Campania to investigate the murder of a thuggish man who had threatened the peace and prosperity of the town. The problem for the cop is that everyone wants to confess to the murder, and since he knows how it was done, he is aware that they are all lying for some strange reason. The story has a delightfully wicked twist in the end.

There is a charming story, A Wasted Hour, in which an aspiring writer hitches a ride with a man, without recognising him as her icon; in Senior Vice President, a diligent banker is forced to go rogue when he is treated unfairly by the management. A trip to a Holocaust site causes the preset career of a rich student to veer of course in A Road to Damascus.

A Gentleman and A Scholar  is about  Shakespeare scholar who fights the chauvinism of her time to become the first female professor at Yale. The Holiday Of A Lifetime, has three alternative ending the reader can pick from.

There are a couple of flash fiction tales, in which Archer takes up the challenge of writing the exact number of words demanded.

He seems to have fun writing the stories—some of which are set in places he has been to and people he may have met—and the reader can zip through Tell Tale in a single sitting and put it back on the shelf with a smile.

Tell Tale
By Jeffrey Archer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 288

Excerpt of Enemy Of The State:
MITCH Rapp tried to find a more comfortable position, but none was available. His helmet was jammed against the top of the fuselage and there was something sharp poking through the mesh seat just to the right of his spine.Not exactly the CIA’s G550, but then this aircraft hadn’t exactly been designed to ferry government VIPs. Its only purpose was the insertion of select teams behind enemy lines, and in order to do that effectively it had to be small, fast, and stealthy. There was no pilot or cockpit, no cabin pressure or heat, and no light other than the dim glow from a computer screen to his right.He glanced over and scanned the data it contained. Four hundred knots at 25,000 feet on a south-by-southeast heading. An infrared map moved lazily beneath the compass and numbers, tracking the ground. Near the bottom of the display, his target began to appear.

Despite everything he’d lived through—everything he’d done—there were very few places that held memories bad enough to make his palms sweat. In fact, only two.

The place his wife had died and ­al-Shirqat.A green light over the door flashed and he disconnected his mask from the aircraft’s oxygen supply, immediately reattaching it to a low-volume tank on his wingsuit. Slipping out of his chair, he sat on the carbon fiber floor and lashed a small pack between his legs. The countdown had started and he waited until the door began to retract to lower his goggles. The outside air temperature was thirty below zero and it lashed at him as he fought his way to the inky black opening. When the countdown in his earpiece reached zero, he threw himself out, struggling to maintain a stable position as he accelerated into his free fall.

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