An Isolated Incident – Review
Fiction / February 19, 2015

Published in 2014, An Isolated Incident by Soniah Kamal is an English novel with incredible depth about the lives of Kashmiris, both inside Kashmir and outside, and how their plight is forgotten in the tussle between between India and Pakistan for the region. The story takes place during the 90s in Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA. Synopsis Zari Zoon, a vivacious girl from Kashmir, is looking forward to marrying her fiance when tragedy strikes. Next thing she know, she is on a plane to America to stay with distant relatives who have offered to give her a temporary home to help her stitch back the tatters of her life. Billy Nabi, fiercely tender-hearted, longs to help Zari but the choices he makes will jeopardize them all. An Isolated Incident is a story of haunting memories and yearnings of a home lost, of a faith continuously tested and questioned and of a love that blossoms against all odds. Bliss Vs Knowledge 18 year old Zari Zoon is living with family in IoK (Indian Occupied Kashmir) where her sister Kiran comes to visit, bringing her son Baz as well, from Dubai. Zari remembers a time when she could move around freely, but now military and…

Democracy – Review
Fiction, Short Story / February 17, 2015

Published on 14th February 2015, Democracy by Fatima Bhutto is a short fiction set in the 90s when military coup overturned civilian government. It’s a fictional reenactment of Nawaz Sharif’s infamous folly of sacking Musharraf mid-flight and nearly getting him killed. Infidelity and Hijacking The story follows life of Brigadier Azad who was enjoying swimming in Sindh Club while waiting for his mistress Sharmilla, and a caravan of military vehicles under Major Jamshed arrive with emergency orders. Azad leaves to immediately secure the airport for plane’s landing while a drunk Sharmilla is news casting on national television. Karachi of the 90s There is a distinctive feel of 90s Karachi as the events progress, though the speed of the story and clear lack of background information causes confusion in what decade the story is set in. Airport, Sindh Club and PTV headquarters are the primary places the story takes place and their descriptions have been lightly touched. At one point the author says the capital must be now secured by 118 Brigade. It is unclear if the brigade was deliberately called 118 and not the real 111 Infantry Brigade stationed at the capital. Infidelity (mostly) Apart from Honor to serve their “True” Army…

Agency Rules – Review
Action Thriller, Indie / February 6, 2015

Published in 2014, Agency Rules – Never An Easy Day At The Office by Khalid Muhammad is the first espionage novel in English language from Pakistan. Based on the 90s era of Pakistan, the story takes us across the country where the readers experience urban warfare of Karachi, the diplomatic battles in Islamabad and military operations on the north-western border. Synopsis Celebrated as a ragtag force that defeated and broke the Soviet Union, no one predicted the Mujahideen would bring with them a plague that would spread like wildfire through Pakistan in the years to follow. When the battle-worn fighters returned with no enemy or war to fight, they turned their sights on the country that had been their creator and benefactor. From the same battlegrounds that birthed the Mujahideen, a young Kamal Khan emerges as a different breed of warrior. Discarding his wealthy family comforts, Kamal becomes a precision sniper, an invincible commando and a clandestine operative bringing intimidation, dominance and death with him to the battlefield. Ending the plague is his prime directive. Shrouded in political expediency, hampered by internal power struggles, international espionage and doublespeak that makes Washington’s spin doctors proud, Kamal’s mission is a nightmare of…

The White Queen – Review
Fiction, Historical Fiction / January 31, 2015

First published in 2009, The White Queen is the sixth book by Philippa Gregory and first in The Cousins’ War series. The story explores 15th century England and power struggles that rocked the country between Lancasters and Yorkists, with meddling of foreign entities and betrayals from within. The book has all the right elements and is no wonder a best seller. Following the story of a young widow Elizabeth Woodville, the reader experiences the rise of a house from common breed to that of royalty and nobility, and pay the price for such a dramatic elevation. Synopsis The tale of one woman’s ambitious ascent to royalty during the Wars of the Roses and the unsolved mystery around her sons’ imprisonment in the Tower. The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of The War of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this family drama to colourful life through its women, beginning with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen The White Queen tells the story of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position…

Force 5 Recon: Deployment: Pakistan – Review
Action Thriller, Fiction / January 27, 2015

First published in 2003, Force 5 Recon: Deployment: Pakistan by P.W. Storm is a confusing jumble with whiny marines, witty one-liners, lack of authentic ground realities and too much stereotyping. The story, when ignored of obvious bias, is easy to read and follow. While the reader is able to see and feel through the characters, the lack of authenticity at several places makes it hard to appreciate good writing. Since it came out so soon after 9/11, the story has strong bias against both Pushtoon fighters from Afghanistan & Pakistan as well as Pakistan’s military. Synopsis Force 5 Recon: Deployment: Pakistan The hunt is on for the world’s most feared terrorist, hidden somewhere in the labyrinthine mountains of northern Pakistan, after his “sleepers” unleash a nightmare of fire and death across the length of the U.S. But the cold-blooded mass murderer Mohammed al-Zumar holds a wild card: a hostage American television news crew. An elite team of Special Operatives led by Sergeant Mac Rainey is already in al-Zumar’s backyard. Stranded in a Pakistani no-man’s-land with their cover blown and their extraction copter shot out of the sky, Force 5 Recon sets off to find and free the captives on their…

The Architect’s Apprentice – Review
Fiction, Historical Fiction / January 24, 2015

First published in 2014, The Architect’s Apprentice explores 16th century Istanbul swinging between artistic glory and religious bigotry, with an Indian boy called Jahan trying to find its place in society and a rare white elephant called Chota to company. The novel brings to life the historic city and how the renowned Master Sinan, the Chief Royal Architect, created majestic buildings that give Istanbul its beauty. Synopsis ‘There were six of us: the master, the apprentices and the white elephant. We built everything together…’ Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie. So begins an epic adventure that will see young Jahan rise from lowly origins to the highest ranks of the Sultan’s court. Along the way he will meet deceitful courtiers and false friends, gypsies, animal tamers, and the beautiful, mischievous Princess Mihrimah. He will journey on Chota’s back to the furthest corners of the Sultan’s kingdom and back again. And one day he will catch the eye of the royal architect, Sinan, a…