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Book Nook - 01-08-2016

Monday, August 01, 2016
By Deepa Gahlot

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 adc.booknook@gmail.com.

Best-selling author Nora Roberts kicks off her new Guardians trilogy with Stars of Fortune. It’s the mix of fantasy, magic, the supernatural, romance and action that is working well with young readers these days, and also in cinema.  It is very likely these this set of books will end up as films too.

The prologue talks of three good goddesses and the stars they protect, and one evil one—Nerezza— who wants those stars to increase her beauty and power.

On earth six special people have been picked to find those ancient fallen stars and prevent Nerezza from getting her hands on them.  Sasha Riggs, a reclusive artist, has vivid dreams about six strangers and a picturesque  island, which she captures on her canvas. She figures the place she has been seeing in her dreams is the Greek island of Corfu and decides to go to there on an impulse. In her hotel, she immediately meets archeologist Riley Gwin and magician Bran Killian, who are two of those she painted without ever having met them.

When the three decide to rent a lovely beach side cottage, they soon find the remaining three -- Sawyer, Annika and Doyle, all of whom have special powers and secrets.  Sasha always suspected she was different and suffered for it with enforced loneliness, but now she realizes she is a seer, that her dreams and visions are directions to the hidden stars.

The six know they are the chosen ones, and when they commence their search in caves around Corfu, they are attacked by strange creatures unleashed by Nerezza. Their fighting together creates a strong bond between them and the others slowly reveal their secrets. Once they are a unit, they train and get battle ready for the big fight that is bound to come—the skirmishes that shake them up, were mere threats.

Romance is Roberts’ forte and the sparks between Sasha and Bran sizzle with passion. The more interesting character than Sasha, is the kick-ass Riley, who is fearless and has leadership skills that bind the other five disparate people into a fighting team.

Young readers, and maybe the author’s adult fans, will like the book for its pace and consistently layered suspense. Stars of Fortune should serve as an appetizer for the other two books in the trilogy—Bay Of Sighs and Island Of Glass.
Stars of Fortune
By Nora Roberts
Publisher:  Piatkus/Hachette
Pages: 340

Excerpt of Stars of Fortune
Dreams plagued her, waking and sleeping. She understood dreams, visions, the knowing. They had been part of her all of her life, and for most of her life she’d learned to block it out, push it all away.

But these wouldn’t relent, no matter how she pitted her will against them. Dreams of blood and battle; of strange, moonstruck lands. In them, the faces and voices of people unknown but somehow vitally familiar lived with her. The woman with the fierce and canny eyes of a wolf, the man with the silver sword. They roamed her dreams with a woman who rose from the sea laughing, the man with the golden compass.

And through all of them, strongly, the dark-haired man who held lightning in his hands.

Who were they? How did she—or would she—know them? Why did she feel such a strong need for them, all of them?

With them walked death and pain—she knew—and yet with them came the chance for true joy, true self. True love.

She believed in true love—for others. She’d never sought it for herself, as love demanded so much, brought such chaos into a life. So much feeling.

She wanted, had always wanted, the quiet and settled, and believed she’d found it in her little house in the mountains of North Carolina.

There she had the solitude she’d sought. There she could spend her days painting, or in her garden without interference or interruption. Her needs were few; her work provided enough income to meet them.

Now her dreams were haunted by five people who called her by name. Why couldn’t she find theirs?

She sketched her dreams—the faces, the seas and hills and ruins. Caves and gardens, storms and sunsets. Over the long winter she filled her workboard with the sketches, and began to pin them to her walls.

She painted the man with lightning in his hands, spending days perfecting every detail, the exact shade and shape of his eyes—deep and dark and hooded—the thin white scar, like a lightning bolt, scoring his left eyebrow.

He stood on a cliff, high above a boiling sea. Wind streamed through his dark hair. She could all but feel it, like hot breath. And he was fearless in the face of the storm as death flew toward him.

Somehow she stood with him, just as fearless.

She couldn’t sleep until she’d finished it, wept when she did. She feared she’d lost her mind, and visions were all she had left. For days she left the painting on the easel while he watched her work or clean or sleep.

Or dream.

She told herself she’d pack it for shipping, send it to her agent for sale. And dipping her brush, she signed it at last.

Sasha Riggs—her name on the verge of the storm-wrecked sea.

But she didn’t pack it for shipping. She packed others instead, the work of the long winter, arranged for transport.

Exhausted, she gave in, curled on the couch in the attic she’d converted to her studio, and let the dreams take her.

The storm raged. Wind whipping, the sea crashing, jagged spears of lighting hurled from the sky like flaming bolts from a bow. The rain swept in from the sea toward the cliff in a thick curtain.

But he stood, watching it. And held out his hand for hers.

“I’m waiting for you.”

“I don’t understand this, any of this.”

“Of course you do, you more than most.” When he brought her hand to his lips she felt love simply saturate her. “Who hides from themselves, Sasha, as you do?”

“I only want peace. I want the quiet. I don’t want storms, and battles. I don’t want you.”

“Lies.” His lips curved as he brought her hand to them again. “You know you’re lying to me, to yourself. How much longer will you refuse to live as you were meant to? To love as you were born to?”

He cupped her face in his hands, and the ground shook under her.

“I’m afraid.”

“Face it.”

“I don’t want to know.”

“See it. We can’t begin without you. We can’t end it until we begin. Find me, Sasha. Come find me.”

He pulled her in, took her lips with his. As he did, the storm broke over them with mad fury.

This time, she embraced it.

She woke, tired still, pushed herself up, pressed her fingers to her shadowed eyes.

“Find me,” she muttered. “Where? I wouldn’t know where to start looking if I wanted to.” Her fingers trailed down to her lips, and she swore she still felt the pressure of his.

“Enough. It’s all enough now.”

She rose quickly, began to pull the sketches from the walls, the board, letting them fall to the floor. She’d take them out, throw them out. Burn them. Get them out of her house, out of her head.

She’d get out herself, take a trip somewhere, anywhere. It had been years since she’d gone anywhere. Somewhere warm, she told herself as she frantically yanked down her dreams. A beach somewhere.

She could hear her own breath heaving, see her own fingers trembling. Near to breaking she lowered to the floor amid the sketches, a woman too thin with the weight the dreams had stolen, her long blond hair bundled up into its habitual messy bun. Shadows plagued her eyes of a clear and crystal blue.

She looked down at her hands. There was talent there. She always had been, always would be, grateful for that gift. But she carried other gifts, not so gratefully.
In the dream, he’d asked her to see. Nearly all her life she’d done all she could to block the sight she’d been born with.

Yes, to hide from herself, just as he’d said.

If she opened to it, accepted it, there would be pain and sorrow. And the knowledge of what might be.

She closed her eyes.

She’d clean up—give herself time. She’d pick up all the sketches and file them away. She wouldn’t burn them, of course she wouldn’t burn them. That had been fear talking.

She’d file them, and take a trip. Get away from home for a week or two, let herself think and decide.

On her hands and knees, she began to gather the sketches, organizing them in her way. The woman with the fierce eyes, the man with the sword, sketches of her dream people together.

Seascapes and landscapes, a palace shining on a hill, a circle of stones.

She laid one of the dozens of the man she’d just dreamed of on a pile, reached for another. And knew.

Also Received
In Vaseem Khan’s The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, the Ashwin Chopra inherited an elephant in the day he was to retire. With this delightful – for the reader, not so much for the hapless cop—event, the Baby Ganesh Agency series commenced. The second book The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown, is as much fun as the first.

The former Inspector Chopra now finds himself the proprietor of Poppy’s Bar and Restaurant, named after his life and and also the detective agency, named after his cute and clever elephant. When the Koh-i-Noor is stolen from an exhibition in Mumbai, the day Chopra visits, he is hired to find it, by an old colleague, who has been framed for the daring theft. The detective and the elephant have their adventures in the city ( a bit on an outsider’s view of Mumbai) and solve the case… naturally.

The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown
By Vaseem Khan
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Pages: 344

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