Nov 17, 2017

Nostradamus: A Life From Beginning to End

“I will be seated at night in my secret study,
Alone, sitting upon a stool of brass;
A flame shall leap forth from the solitude,
Granting that which is not believed to be in vain.”

The book is concise and well written about the life of Michel de Nostredame, better known via the Latin form Nostradamus. He was born on December 14th 1503 in a small commune called Saint-Remy-de-Provence in the south of France. Nostradamus grandfather was a decisive force in his life. He studied medicine at the age of 14. Married to Henriette d’Encausse and had two children.

When the plague swept Europe, though Nostradamus was a physician he was not able to save his wife and children. After that he wandered over France. Later he settled and started his profession along with his study in occult.

In the year 1547, he settled in Salon-de-Provence, there he married a rich widow Anne Ponsarde, she give birth to six  children. Nostradamus moved away from his medical profession and took up occult science. He published almanac which became a hit and he become famous. Even the Queen of France Catherine de' Medici consulted him and later appointed him as Counsellor.

After publishing 11 almanacs Nostradamus wrote the famous Century  it had over 1200 quatrains, unfortunately only 946 of them remain today. At that time people like him are termed heretics and Inquisition prevailed. Nostradamus cleverly wrote the quatrains which would include not only the true languages of the old Masters— Latin and Greek— but also Italian and even a dialect from the Provence area of France which was unique to the region.

The author has written neutrally about Nostradamus prophecies. And he has made clear that we have to decide by our own wisdom.

A good book for reading from Hourly History.

Nov 12, 2017

Odessa Sea - Book Review

My 11th outing with Dirk Pitt adventures.

It is February 1917, Black Sea as Russian Imperial Navy ship Kerch is under attack in Odessa by Ottoman warships. The ship is overwhelmed soon and obliterated Kerch sinks. The story then jumps to April 1955, as Tupolev Tu-4 carrying deadly cargo crashes on the Black Sea killing all. Present time, now our hero Dirk Pitt receives a mysterious Mayday signal from Crimean Star. When Pitt and Al reaches the spot they find all the crew except one dead with a foul odor in the air. Trouble finds Pitt, entering the Crimean Star opens the Pandora box and nonstop adventure for us. 

There are many questions pops up while reading the novel such as what is the relation between Russian Tsar and British in World War I? Why Tech Billionaire and drone manufacturer Martin Hendriks finances a Bulgarian black market smuggler? Why Martin wants to start a war between US and Russia? all these are neatly answered by the author. The villains Mankedo and Martin Hendriks are more intelligent and calculative in their steps. Sometimes they outwit our hero Pitt. We can comprehend Clive's unique formula of intertwining four separate plots of the story and merging them in the final chapters without flaw. 

Inclusion of Dirk Pitt Jr. and Summer Pitt characters adds the needed pace to the story, we can feel Pitt Jr. showing of his father Dirk Pitt skills and humor. That's not all St. Julien Perlmutter aids Pitt's kids in finding the lost treasure which in turn help in Dirk Pitt's adventure. I find that Pitt Jr. and Summer have shared Pitt's action parts. 

I enjoyed the action scenes of Dirk Pitt, for example the technique used by Pitt for escaping from the closed tunnel, when the NUMA submersible was damaged by the villains the escape seems to be remote but the coolness of Dirk Pitt emerges once again, understanding the scientific fact of anoxic water and its importance in the destruction and getting hold the RDS-5 bomb in the climax, what more a Dirk Pitt fan needs. 

This novel is for Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt fans like me.

Nov 8, 2017

The Phantom - The Treasure Of The Skull Cave

The comic book I read is 70s reprint, the library book has missing cover art. I liked the story as it re-created the Phantom myth and beautiful one liners.

The story opens with the introduction of Cappy Swargo and Pirate Pete. Soon their adventure lead to one common place "JAIL". In their next cell Llongo tribesman Buba was imprisoned. Over hearing their talk about treasures and treasure hunt, Buba tells them about the legend of treasures of the skull cave. At first they did not believe later Buba's tells them that he was the fan bearer for his uncle, he accompanied him to the skull cave and was a witness. He further tells them that to reach the treasure they have to cross the jungle and enter the Deep Woods, evade the poison people and most importantly the Phantom. 

The next day on the way to the trail Cappy Swargo arranges his friends for the escapade. After their escape they meet his influential friend 'The General". He explains the treasure to the General who had dire need of funds for the revolution. The General finances for the expedition to the deep woods. They plan to gas the tribe & Phantom and loot the treasure.

A larger part of the team waits near the dead volcano as Cappy Swargo and Buba venture into the deep woods. After a week journey they find the skull cave, Cappy Swargo asks Buba to hide the poisonous gas bomb and wait for his signal. Cappy acts that he was lost in the jungle as the Bandar tribe takes him to Phantom. The Ghost who walks is very clever and he ascertains that Cappy is acting. Later that night Phantom gives Cappy a guided tour to his major treasure room.

Did Cappy Swargo and Buba accomplished the mission? What happened to The General in the end are all answered in the remaining pages of the book. 

A superb story line with cunning characters and enjoyable read. I finished the comic book within 30 minutes but took me 2 hours to write a review!

Phantom - The Shining City

In this adventure The Ghost who walks meets a seductress named Athena Siossi. She ask permission the Phantom to cross Bengali. Phantom allows her at the same time he follows her gang. They reach the east end of Bengali to a city called New Athens where the Greeks are awaiting for their God Athena. 

Phantom understands that she has deceived the people of new Athens that she was Athena the Goddess of War and Wisdom. Phantom was taken into custody, Athena gives an option to be on her side and rule with her or face death. Phantom opts for the second choice. The next morning Phantom enters the tournament of death.

Did Phantom win the tournament and what happens to Athena Siossi are told in the concluding pages of the comic book.

The cover artwork is by Newton, the illustrations are good. I am little bit disappointed in the story line.

Nov 6, 2017

Review: Doctor Who: Four Doctors Special FCBD 2017 Edition

Doctor Who: Four Doctors Special FCBD 2017 Edition Doctor Who: Four Doctors Special FCBD 2017 Edition by Alex Paknadel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A free comic book I downloaded through Google Play Books. I am a fan of time travel stories and Doctor Who is about time travel. I was little bit disappointed when story ended in 20 pages with a cliffhanger. The writer is Alex Paknadel and superb artwork by illustrators Mariano Laclaustra, Pier Brito & Nico Selma.

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Nov 4, 2017

The Ghost Who Died Twice

A different story from the Phantom, every time a new Phantom takes up his position either the old Phantom is in death bed or mortally wounded. But this story starts when Guran asks the Ghost who walks why that 11th phantom took over in 1757 when 10th Phantom was still alive and the death of the 10th Phantom was in 1758. 

The Ghost who walks enters the chronicle room to know about the story. The year was 1757 when Marianne and her son Chris (11th Phantom) were returning from France to Denkali on board Ile De France. But the Singh brotherhood headed by Ashar and his pirates surrounds the Ile De France and tries to kill Chris, the Phantom intervenes and both Phantom and Ashar take up their sword to settle. The cunning Ashar fires two shots on Phantom subsequently the Bandars and Muri tribe enters the ship and the pirates are overwhelmed. They escape, the tribes people takes the wounded Phantom and his son to the skull cave. 

The Phantom's right hand and his face are badly wounded. The medicine man treats and Phantom loses his right arm and his face becomes disfigured. The 10th Phantom hands over the good sign ring to the 11th Phantom and his son takes the oath. As the 10th Phantom regains his health after some months he vows to kill Ashar. Then the 10th Phantom leaves the skull cave and practices with his left arm for combat. 

Did the 10th Phantom took revenge over Ashar? and how did the Phantom died are all revealed in the remaining pages on the comic book.

Phantom uses a different mask after he recuperates and Phantom undergoing vigorous training to get his health back made me thought of Rocky movie.

The artwork is excellent with a good story line and enjoyable read for Phans (short for Phantom fans).

Review: James Bond #4

James Bond #4 James Bond #4 by Warren Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent art work, superb panels of Bond hand to hand combat. The story ends in cliffhanger as James Bond stuck inside the lab.

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Review: The Bible Secret

The Bible Secret The Bible Secret by Will Edwards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is around 50 pages and the author has made into two parts. The first part deals with Apologetic's with articles about the message of Jesus, the alternative, the religion, God's creative process and The Plain Truth.

Part 2 The White Stone, the articles include The Secret, My own story, Are you ready?, Activating the promise.

The author Will Edwards have written so beautifully and elaborately about the secret in understanding the bible. Such as what really is Kingdom of God, the White stone. He had pointed out what the bible really says and what we really should understand. Another instance is the difference between religious and spirituality.

A good book. The note from this book I like to share:

Jesus was, most notably, misunderstood by the religious people of his day: the very people who, if their hearts had been pure and their minds had been open, should have understood him.

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Oct 28, 2017

A Column Of Fire - Book Review

"We hanged him in front of Kingsbridge Cathedral. It is the usual place for executions. After all, if you can't kill a man in front of God's face you probably shouldn't kill him at all...

I was responsible for his death...

He was the last of many men I sent to hell, but he made me think of the first..." - Ned Willard, a spy in Elizabethan court.

I have read "The Pillars of the Earth" but not the second Kingsbridge series "World Without End" and this book "A Column Of Fire" the third series can be read as a standalone novel. 

What more drama can one need as the author Ken Follett has chosen turbulent 16th century England. The novel touches the rise of legendary Elizabeth Tudor, how she became the Queen and how she used the professional secret service to hold to her throne till her death. With the actual historical characters the author have used his imagination to create most lovable and most hate able fictional characters. I like to write about the 5 most important characters.

1. Ned Willard

A Kingsbridge resident and son of Alice who lost her fortune by the intervention of Catholic church. Then he witness the burning of a Protestant believer in Kingsbridge which made him emotional to choose Elizabeth, she promising religious tolerance. Ned wanted his country to be a place where Catholics and Protestants don't kill each other and for that he thought that Elizabeth Tudor should ascend the throne. A significant reason for Ned to join Elizabeth Tudor side first as an assistant to his patron Sir William Cecil and then to the spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham.

His life saw four essential women one his mother Alice, 2nd his lover Margery, 3rd his wife Sylvie Palot and 4th Queen Elizabeth. Unfortunately all his loved women predeceased him. Each character on their own, influences his life and his progress which we can grasp from the novel. And finally the author has made a question did Elizabeth was tolerant to Catholics? did she achieved what Ned thought off?

2. Sylvie Palot

Daughter of Giles Palot a printer in France. They belong to Protestant church and France Government killed Protestants without mercy. They secretly sell Protestant bibles. Sylvie falls in love with Pierre Aumande (an illegitimate son of Guise family) unknown to her that Pierre is spy sent by Francois the duke of Guise to know the whereabouts of protestants. On the day of their marriage Pierre betrays Sylvie's family, she loses her father and her fortune. Then she and her mother lives in a pathetic condition. I had to shed tears when I read that she was not having any money to buy food and she was tempted to become a whore. Penury drives her to that extent but God intervenes and saves her from the sin. She then becomes a seller of papers and ink in France. But her religious faith makes her to sell bibles. Sylvie a smart and daring girl she goes outside her country and orders bibles then she imports them into her country with necessary bribe. Her life makes a turn when she meets Ned Willard, knowing his past life she marries him. They make a great pair, unfortunately she cannot bear children and dies at the hands of Rollo, Margery's brother.

3. Margery

A girl from Fitzgerald household who loves Ned but political intervention makes her to marry Bart, son of Earl of Shiring. Later her father in law rapes her and she gets pregnant unknown to Bart. Even though she is Catholic she does not like her country to be with war with one another. During Ned's visits to Kingsbridge Margery loses her control and they make love. Again she becomes pregnant and bears a son resembling Ned. With her husband Bart she gives asylum to many Catholic priest sent by his brother Rollo who is also known as Jean Langlias a conspirator along with France and Spain help tires to assassinate Elizabeth. After Bart's death she marries her love of her life Ned. In later years she has to choose the side did she made a good choice? her decision becomes the pivotal point of the novel.

4. Pierre Aumande

The most loathsome character we will ever despise in A Column Of Fire. Born as an illegitimate he was not accepted by Guise family. He lives by deceiving others until he meets duke of Guise Francois. He asks him to penetrate the protestant group and get the address of the persons. Pierre finishes the task but he did not gets the due acknowledgement. After the death of Francois, Pierre acts fast and becomes the advisor to Henri, son of Francois Guise. His progress is halted by his marriage with a maid. Later he kills her. The author has picked up the interpretation of Jean-Louis Bourgeon, that the Guise family was behind the St. Bartholomew massacre. And Ken Follett cleverly uses Pierre and Henri characters in the massacre. Pierre does all the sins in name of God, at the end he gets the needed punishment.

5. Rollo Fitzgerald

Very cunning and intelligent antagonist of the novel, his involvement with Pierre increases the pace of the novel. A staunch catholic believer who despises Elizabeth and Ned Willard. The person who sacrifices his life for the cause and becomes Jean Langlias the most wanted criminal in England. He is the reason for not allowing Margery to marry Ned, conspires with Pierre to eliminate Queen Elizabeth, becomes the secret messenger for Mary Queen of Scots when she is in imprisoned in a castle, later a reason to her death, killing Sylvie Palot, burning protestants in Kingsbridge, cheating Alice, along with catholic church and the sin goes on. His final mission is to kill King James I in the parliament. Did he succeeded in his plan? The most elusive man hunted for many years and how he was caught are in the remaining pages of the story.

There are many more characters which adds pace to the story. One such is Ebrima Dabo first a farmer in West Africa, then a soldier, a prisoner of war, a slave in Seville, a soldier again in the Netherlands and at last a rich Antwerp iron maker.

I liked the vivid description given by the author on St. Bartholomew's day massacre, the conquest of Spanish Armada and the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. I also read the article about the cover design, the artist using the images of stacking burnt out papers and the symbol of Tudor in the center emphasizing the theme of the novel.

As I mentioned already what more drama is needed for the historical fiction buffs like me. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. A big thanks to Ken Follett for making me  to read, rejoice and live with the 16th Century characters for the past one month.

Oct 20, 2017

Review: Ivan the Terrible: A Life From Beginning to End

Ivan the Terrible: A Life From Beginning to End Ivan the Terrible: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is very handy to know about Ivan IV also known as Ivan the Terrible. Ivan's grand father managed to free Russia from the Mongol horde. When Ivan was 3 years old he became the Grand Prince of Moscow.

Though he became the King at very young age, the country was ruled his regents. He was made to starve by them. After attaining the rightful age Ivan punished those who tortured him.

Much information is provided how Ivan came to known as Ivan the Terrible.

A good book recommended for history buffs.

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Oct 9, 2017

Review: Mayan Civilization: A History From Beginning to End

Mayan Civilization: A History From Beginning to End Mayan Civilization: A History From Beginning to End by Hourly History
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Less information about the Maya's. The book is good at getting basics about the birth of this civilization. Not much is given about the kings also.

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Oct 3, 2017

Fallen Eagle - Book Review

First of all I have to thank Thistle publishing and Net Galley for giving me a copy to read and review this superb book written by Robin Cross. 

The book has an exhaustive account about the last days of the Third Reich. From the reading we can understand how much the author has took pain in collecting the relevant information of the Second World War, the heroes & zeros of the war, types of war machines used and in depth detail to the Corps level. 

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (daylight bombing) picture comment from Wikipedia, B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 398th Bombardment Group fly a bombing run to Neumunster, Germany, on April 13, 1945, less than one month before the German surrender on May 8

The author's description about Hitlers status is riveting "In the summer of 1942, Hitler had sat at the centre of a vast communications web stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Caucasus. Now his links with the outside world had dwindled to a switchboard of the size required to run a modest hotel, one radio transmitter, and one radiotelephone link with the OKW headquarters at Zossen, fifteen miles south of Berlin".

Avro Lancaster RAF bomber (most successful of the night bombers in World War II)

The author has cleverly placed journal entries, letters and documents, which gives an authenticated look but sometimes they might turn a bit odd and feels us to skip. I like to quote one account given by Janina Bauman, who had escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 and was living on a farm when a German soldier was hiding in her farm.

…. Just before dusk I went out to fetch some wood. In the semi-dark shed, crammed with logs and tools, something stirred. I sensed a human presence. I pushed the door wide open to let more light. Only then did I notice a flap of field-grey military coat sticking out from the between two logs. Calmly, I locked the shed and ran back to the cottage. In the kitchen, Mrs.Pietrzyk, tired and worn after the restless night, was busy cooking. Gasping for breath, I told her what I had seen. But she was not surprised. She already knew. Staring full in my face with her ancient, all knowing eyes, she said, as if quoting from a holy book, 'Whoever comes under my roof seeking shelter, no matter who he is, no matter what he believe in, he will be safe with me'. In a flash I understood. Shocked, I watched her fill a tin bowl with hot dumplings and pour pork fat over it. 'Hold it child', she screeched in her usual way. "Take it to him'. As if mesmerized, I blindly obeyed and went back to the shed. It seemed as deserted as before, even the field-grey flap had disappeared. I stood benumbed, the hot dish burning my fingers and filling the air with a strong smell of food. There was a brief commotion behind the pile of logs and unkempt head suddenly popped out. I saw the pale face of the German, a boy rather than a man, staring at me in terror. He grabbed the steaming bowl from my hands and fell on the food with unspeakable greed. He was still trembling from hunger and fear. For a long while I watched him blankly. I felt no pity, no hatred, no joy. 

The author Robin Cross has given vivid account on the rivalry between Zhukov and Ivan Konev and how Stalin utilized their rivalry for his goal. 

Zhukov: In World War II he participated in multiple battles, ultimately commanding the 1st Belorussian Front in the Battle of Berlin, which resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany, and the end of the War in Europe.

Ivan Konev : He was a Soviet military commander who led Red Army forces on the Eastern Front during World War II, retook much of Eastern Europe from occupation by the Axis Powers, and helped in the capture of Germany's capital, Berlin.

Cemetery Heidefriedhof in Dresden

A soul stirring account of the bombing of 7th largest city in Germany, Dresden, was provided in the book. The author has mentions the people behind the operation and ends that chapter with quotes from cemetery Heidefriedhof in Dresden:

"How many died? Who knows the count?; In your wounds one sees the ordeal; Of the nameless who in here were conflagrated; In the hellfire made by hands of man".

North American P-51 Mustang picture comment P-51D of 374th Fighter Squadron, with under wing drop tanks.

The book ends at 88% and the remaining 12% is about Appendix 1 Key Items of Weaponry, Appendix 2 Notes on Personalities (which is more important as some might find difficultly in finding who the person the author mentions about) and select Bibliography.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, with 500 pages this book is must for World War II enthusiasts. 

Sep 30, 2017

Dirk Pitt Collections

Two decades back I read Inca Gold from a lending library, I was hooked into Mr.Clive Cussler's writing, but those days it is difficult to know and find what other books the author has written and I have no idea about the continuation of Dirk Pitt.

In the age of internet the task become simpler. After joining goodreads I started to add the books authored by the Grand Master of Adventure Clive Cussler. I was obsessed with the charming, charismatic and dare devilry of Dirk Pitt. 

Below are the 12 books I have collected out of 24. Half way, hope I will collect the rest of the adventure series. 

1. Dirk Pitt Series #4, Raise the Titanic! published in 1976.

2. Dirk Pitt Series #6, Night Probe published in 1981.

3. Dirk Pitt Series #9 Treasure, published in 1988.

4. Dirk Pitt Series #10 Dragon, published in 1990.

5. Dirk Pitt Series #11 Inca Gold, published in 1994.

6. Dirk Pitt Series #12, Shock Wave, published in 1996.

7. Dirk Pitt Series #16, Valhalla Rising, published in 2001.

8. Dirk Pitt Series #17, Trojan Odyssey, published in 2003.

9. Dirk Pitt Series #18, Black Wind, published in 2004.

10. Dirk Pitt Series #22, Poseidon's Arrow, published in 2012.

11. Dirk Pitt Series #23, Havana Storm, published in 2014.

12. Dirk Pitt Series #24, Odessa Sea, published in 2016.

13. Clive Cussler And Dirk Pitt Revealed, published in 1998, the book is about Dirk Pitt, the recurring characters and other characters that have appeared in his novels and brief synopses of the Dirk Pitt novels from Pacific Vortex to Flood Tide.

Sep 19, 2017

LXG - Review

  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill

The year is 1898, the Empire is under threat, upon the orders of mysterious "M" Campion Bond recruits Mina Murray and Captain Nemo to find Allan Quatermain who is addicted to opium and lives pathetically in Morocco. Both Nemo and Murray retrieve Allan from the opium den. Then they round up Dr.Henry Jekyll (Mr.Edward Hyde equivalent to Hulk), Hawley Griffin (Invisible man, I liked his part), these five rather six including Jekyll's alter ego Hyde all comprise "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman".

Image from

The empire is planning a lunar expedition before the dawn of 19th Century, but the anti gravity material 'cavorite' was stolen by a warlord from orient known by name as Doctor who has established himself as the crime king of London's East End. With Nautilus submarine the league members infiltrate and capture the cavorite and hands it to Campion Bond, but their superior "M' has another plan to bombard East End. Did the league members stop the atrocious act of 'M'? And who is this mysterious "M" are all answered in the remaining panels.
The art work is good the panels are explicit with violence and bloodshed. Some might not like the gory parts detailed in such a manner. The story is awesome and entertaining with adding backstories for some characters.

Sep 12, 2017

Cyclops - Book Review

My 10th outing with Dirk Pitt Adventures

Plot 1: March 9th 1918, Caribbean Sea, a collier ship, Cyclops carrying 11,000 tons of manganese, more than it can carry sinks with treasure and a soul, American consul general to Brazil, Alfred L.Morean Gottschalk.

Plot 2: Raymond Le Baron and some of his friends who goes in search of the legendary El Dorado in his blimp Prosperteer goes missing. After a couple of days the blimp passes over Florida where our hero Dirk Pitt is taking part in a race stops the blimp and later the body inside the blimp are not of Raymond Le Baron.

Plot 3 : The President of United States comes to know the fact that there is a Moon base called Jersey Colony developed behind the ruling elite by the Inner core consisting of brilliant young scientists, corporate businessman, engineers and politicians. Raymond Le Baron, General Mark Fisher, Clyde Booth, Irwin Mitchell, Steve Busche, Dean Beagle, Daniel Klein, Leonard Hudson and Gunnar Eriksen are the nine members of the Inner Core. As the Soviet Union sends men to land on moon they come to know about the moon base. And the Soviet plans to take over the Jersey colony. The astronauts in moon base skillfully evades the Soviet attack and tries to return to earth. Then the Soviet plans to abduct the space shuttle and make them land in Cuba. In other words "An American space shuttle in Soviet hands the greatest intelligence coup of the century".

Plot 4 : Taking over of Cuban Government by Soviet Agents, assassinating Fidel Castro and placing a Soviet Union loyalist, close confidante of Fidel a charming charismatic, having total backing of the Cuban military, Alicia Cordero the Secretary of the Central Committee and Secretary of Council of State, the operation is code named 'Rum and Cola' according to the plan Havana has to be blown by three ships which are docked in Havana harbour thereby killing Castro.

The author Clive Cussler brilliantly intertwines all the plots without any confusion and finishes off the book in style. An enjoyable Dirk Pitt adventure.

Whereas our hero Dirk Pitt in search of Raymond Le Baron in the blimp is chased by Cuban and gets caught and interrogated by the Soviet officials in Cuban soil. I think around 30 to 40% of the book Pitt is confined and was tortured by the cruel Foss Gly (the hit man from Night Probe) The most tense part in the story is the clever and brilliant plan of Pitt using an old bathtub and a motor from the deflated boat to escape from Cayo Santa Maria. (My standing ovation to Clive Cussler) Pitt a daring action hero who is unable to perform any action as the situation is very less favourable in Cayo Santa Maria. His best friend Al Giordino badly injured and in confinement, no help from his trusted side kick, as the chapters roll by Pitt situation changes from bad to worse until he gets the chance of getting out of the building. The chapters relating to the torture chamber in Cayo Santa Maria, the author cleverly uses Pitt's wit and sarcastic comments to mask the unpleasant situation.

Did Pitt finds out the treasure from the Cyclops? How did Pitt saves Jessie Le Baron, Al and Rudi Gunn from Cayo Santa Maria, did Pitt take revenge on Foss Gly? Did the Astronauts of Jersey Colony land in Cuba? Did Pitt saves Fidel Castro in time? all these are answered in the following chapters of the novel. 

My artwork for Cyclops novel the blimp named Prosperteer
Pitt's humour: (As usual one liners from Dirk Pitt)

1. An old antique like the Prosperteer must have required a couple hundred thousand cubic feet of gas to get her in the air. After a week, enough would have leaked out to keep her grounded. Do you follow?

Victor had the look of a man about to be baptized. What are you suggesting?

That you look for a friendly neighbourhood service station that can pump two hundred thousand cubic feet of helium. (Explaining to Victor that Prosperteer should have been grounded and re pumped with helium before it landed into Florida)
2. Find Angello and tell him to show this gentleman out. Pitt's green eyes glinted mischievously. I seem to have a talent for spreading ill will. Do you wish me to go peacefully or cause a nasty scene?

I think peacefully would be best.
(Pitt in Jessie Le Baron's party)

I'll send the chauffeur to pick up. If it's all the same to you.

I'd prefer to drive my own car. I get claustrophobic in limousine. (When Pitt was asked to meet Mrs.Le Baron)

3. Hullo, Dirk. All dressed up and no place to go? 
The party's hostess decided I was persona non Grata and made me walk the plank.

4. Jesus, its dark, he muttered to himself, his mind crawling from a woody mist. Pitt knelt beside him and said. Welcome to the land of the walking dead.

Giordino raised his hands and touched Pitt's face in the darkness. Dirk? In the flesh. (after castaway in the shores of Cayo Santa Maria)

5. I'm President of Central Intelligence Agency. My board of directors and I thought it would be a great promotional idea to charter a blimp and drop redeemable coupons for toilet paper over the length of Cuba. I'm told there's an acute shortage down her. Unfortunately, the Cubans didn't agree with our marketing strategy and shot us down. (Pitt sarcastic and dry humorous reply to Velikov in Cayo Santa Maria torture chamber)

6. How did you destroy the patrol helicopter? Velikov asked suddenly. We threw our shoes at it. Pitt fired back testily. What did you expect from four civilians, one of whom was a woman flying a forty year old gas bag?
(Pitt sarcastic and dry humorous reply to Velikov in Cayo Santa Maria torture chamber)
7. Crazy clown – Jessie Le Baron's remark about Pitt.

8. The man must be either indestructible or very lucky – Presidents remark of Pitt, his act of escape from Cuba using a cast iron bath tub with a outboard motor.

9. Brogan said, I hear you've had a rough trip. Not one I'd recommend to tourist. Pitt replied. (makeshift boat - bathtub with motor)

10. Followed a higher law, said Pitt with a sardonic grin. And what law may I ask, is that? Comes from the old West something they called self preservation (answer to Brogan)

11. Pitt flashed his best politician's smile and said. I beg your pardon, may I borrow your phone?

If you work here you know that using an unauthorized phone is against agency regulations.

Then I'm safe, said Pitt. I don't work here. (Pitt conversing with a white hair man in Brogan's office)

12. Quintana subsided into silence. His precisely conceived landing plan began to crack and shatter before his eyes. Our computers should have thought of that, he said bitterly.

They don't create what they are not taught, Pitt replied philosophically (about the attack plan on Cayo Santa Maria)

13. Pitt held up a wooden shaft in one hand. A baseball bat. What do you need that for? You are issued an AK 74.

It's a gift for a friend.

14. You Catholic? Yes. Why?. Then call up the saint who guides lost souls and pray this thing is already set on the shuttle's frequency. (Control room in Cayo Santa Maria when Pitt tries to save the space shuttle before it land in Cuba.)

15. Pitt hesitated, then he said. There is this taxi driver named Herberto Figuero. If I were to find him a restored Fifty Seven Chevrolet in the States and have it shipped, do you suppose you could arrange for him to take delivery. Herberto and I would both be very grateful. (Pitt uses Herberto's Chevy which becomes damaged at the end)

Clive Cussler Liked My Reply

Getting comments and feedbacks for my reviews and replies are always a boost for me. One the first day of my tweet about the books I have gathered (very few compared to the collectors around the world) one of my favourite authors Clive Cussler liked my tweet and I was very happy on that day. 

Couple of hours ago in Twitter "Isaac Bell" @Isaacbell series, another fictional character from the world of Clive Cussler tweeted with a photo (above) and a line "Clive Cussler is sharing his REALlife #adventures.U can FOLLOW  @cusslerOFFICIAL #author #cigars #classiccars #amwriting #writer #ocean #sea" when I looked up at the image the first thing that came to my mind is that Clive Cussler is with his fictional character Dirk Pitt in diving suit. I typed the above line in the comment section and I received the like from the author which I want to share in this blog. Below is the screen shot.

Aug 27, 2017

How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical Practices - Book Review

I thank Net galley for providing me a copy to read & review 'How to Remove a Brain and Other Bizarre Medical practices' It is not more than 200 pages and can  be read in one sitting.

The author David Haviland gives us many anecdotes and some fun and bizarre practices in ancient Egypt, India, Europe and US.

He also mentioned about the myth relating to Julius Caesar, his birth that he was not born of Caesarean section as it is only performed either to save the  child or the mother. Since Julius Caesar mother died in her ripe age and not during giving birth to Caesar. David Haviland gives examples for Doctrine of  Signatures that natural remedies embodies or reflect the ailments they are designed to cure. That is the appearance of certain fruits resembling our body  parts. 

There are many unknown facts in the book one such is that we share many diseases with animals and they are known as 'zoonoses' we caught common cold from  horses, measles from dogs, influenzas from pigs & ducks, smallpox and tuberculosis from cattle.  Another fact relates to great artists, and how they were affected by using Emerald Green a chemical made from copper acetate and arsenic trioxide. The artist  such as Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet. All these artists excessively used Emerald Green in their paintings which lead to arsenic poisoning, Cezanne developed  series diabetes, Van Gogh suffered from neurological disorders and third artist Monet got blinded.


The cabbies of London have bigger hippo campus region as longer they are driving taxi the bigger the region become. And to compensate the growth the other  part of the brain shrinks. There are many facts, one such is about Syphilis, an epidemic which spread throughout Europe after 1495. Each nation in Europe blamed their enemy. The French  called this disease as Le mal Naples, while the Italians called it the Spanish disease. The Japanese called it as the Chinese disease and while Chinese  people blamed it as Cantonese.

The author has given detailed account on the invention of X ray and aftermath and how one guy in London began marketing X ray proof underwear and made a  small fortune.


One chapter is allotted to the Live Typhoid carrier Mary. She was a cook. Everywhere she went and cooked the people in the house get infected with typhoid but  she never had the disease herself. A law was passed and she was isolated from others. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. A must book for information gatherers.

Aug 24, 2017

Jason Cage - Book Review

The main plot of the story revolves around Jason Cage, the only survivor from an accident. He was adopted and his foster parents dies mysteriously. He has no friends no family members and his special quality is that his dreams become reality. Jason has a stint in college where he gets introduced to Bill and Lisa, later being his love, loses her to Bill.

Jason wants to escape from the torments, chooses a monastery in Ladakh. His companion is a lion which is invisible to all. One day he has a nightmare that Lisa is going to be killed in couple of days in US. With no money and help from his monastery friend Jason goes to States. There he helps one Lebanese restaurant owner from mafia and hitch hikes to Lisa.

Did he find Lisa on time and saved her? The ending is cliffhanger.

The author has included many sub plots and he never confuses us as the plots are revealed continously instead of mixed in between main plot. I have to thank him for this method writing, the pace of the book is never slowed or halted since having many sub plots from ancient Egypt, introduction of Dr. Dhrishti from RAW, Axel, taking over of LeT terroists by RAW, Lisa and Bill's story etc.

There are some unanswered questions which hangs after the finish and I know since the end is cliffhanger the author will answer it in the next book.

Aug 17, 2017

Secret Agent - Book Review

I express my gratitude to Net galley for providing me a copy for reading and reviewing of this fantastic treasure trove of information on SOE (Special Operations Executive) brought into force by the then England Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940, the main aims of SOE is to intent on sabotage and subversion behind enemy lines, to spark revolt, and undermine Hitler's Europe from within, prevent enemy reinforcements reaching the beachhead by road, rail and air, the disruption of enemy signals communications in and behind the battle area, attacks on enemy air personnel and aircraft, the disorganisation of enemy rear services by the spreading of rumours and counter-sabotage.

After explaining in detail about the initiation of SOE from the scratch, the author David Stafford narration of events one by one is super fast and it was like watching a war documentary. The book is full of stories which concentrates mostly on the agents of SOE's activities in occupied Europe.

The agents of SOE were trained in shooting, unarmed combat, handling explosives, wireless-transmission, camouflage and more, they been taught how to face interrogation if get caught.

Not only sending agents for sabotaging they took much care in the dress also, one person who worked in the dress department tells about the alterations needed for German and British dress the seams, the enormous difference between the side seams, the shape of the cuffs, the difference in position of the button hole on the under collar. They also forged documents, money and made new notes to appear as used one.

Lysander, this plane helped for dropping and returning agents of SOE, the additional fuel tank in the bottom resemble a missile carrier (picture courtesy flying legends website)

At the beginning sending of agents into German occupied country was not easy as they were not airdropped, they have to been transported in small boats and ships. As the success rate of SOE increased the expected importance was given.

SOE peaked in size at the time of the D-Day landings when some 10,000 men and 3000 women worked for it around the globe. Of these half the men and perhaps a hundred of the women had also served as secret agents behind enemy lines or in neutral countries.

Some of the activities of SOE's are given much importance such as taking over of one Italian and one German ship in neutral territory, agents of SOE (Knut Haukelid, Fredrick Kayser, Kasper Idland, Hans Storhaug and Brig Stromsheim) coup at the heavy water plant in southern Norway there by delaying progress in German research on the atomic bomb, the operation in destroying the via duct in Gorgopotamos and adventures of the secret agent Pierre Lalande and worth mentioning.

The author has pointed out the mistakes done by SOE in sending messages which were intercepted by the Germans and one full chapter is about the worst mistake of SOE, Englandspiel the name coined by the Germans.

The book is full of heroism, I recommend this to the world war II buffs and also the number of pages is under 300 and can be finished in one sitting.