Confessions on an Island by Ayan Pal | Book Review

I once read somewhere that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Anger generates negativity. It does not have the capacity to be positive. And this anger is what leads to Confessions on an Island, both literally and figuratively.

An abducted woman trapped on an island is given a chance to escape, provided she tells stories emerging from the stories her intriguing abductor tells her. Clueless about why she is being forced to participate in this game of Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the woman, a bestselling author, decides to play along. And therein begins a thrilling tale, narrated in part by an island while also seen through the eyes of the abductee. The tale of a man and woman consumed by the power of their imagination and truth, even as the stakes are gradually raised. Soon the only way out is in – into the past, heart and mind. The island is ready to confess. Are you ready for the truth?

Screenshot_20170620-105740

I was lured by the title of the novel. Confessions on an Island has a unique format to it. The story is revealed through different characters: The island which is a silent spectator to the events unfolding before its eyes, the woman who finds herself trapped on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere, and the stories themselves as narrated by the abductor and abductee in a twisted game of Matryoshka. Every chapter moves in sequence between its three protagonists.

In the course of these stories, the author lays out myriad human emotions which are inexplicable in the normal course of events. His characters display shades varying between greys and black as he reveals a dark psychological game of thrill and torture leading to an unexpected climax.

In my reading of the book, while I found the concept intriguing, the plot did not resonate with me as I expected it to. I was unable to connect the events as they moved from one story to the next. The character sketches appeared to have lost their way in the goal of creating dark players of this torturous game. Editing was another area which I felt was not as clean and crisp as it could have been.

However, knowing that the author has planned two more books, I gather this will intrigue readers of this genre and pique their curiosity enough to find out what happens next.

Title: Confessions on an Island
Author: Ayan Pal
Publisher: Readomania
ISBN: 978-93-858541-3-2
Edition/Year: 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 192
Source: Author’s Copy
Rating: 3 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Ayan Pal is a Kolkata-based IT professional and author who has received several accolades in his career so far. These include the honour of his book being a record holder in the Limca Book of Records, the title of ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’ from Toastmasters International for demonstrating outstanding communication and leadership skills, and a ‘Brandon Hall Award’, considered as the ‘Academy Awards’ by Learning, Talent and Business Executives worldwide.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from VTU, Karnataka and has completed a course in Education Technology from SDSU, California.
As an author, he is known for his acclaimed short stories in the Amazon bestsellers ‘Chronicles of Urban Nomads’, ’21 Tales to Tell’, and ‘When They Spoke’. He has also contributed to India’s first composite novel, ‘Crossed and Knotted’, ‘Upper Cut’, ‘Her Story’, ‘Rudraksha’, ‘Arranged To Love’, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and ‘Long Story Short’. He is a columnist of lifestyle magazine ThnkMkt and blogger at Open Road Review.
Passionate about public speaking, Ayan also loves reading, creative writing, watching and reviewing films, listening to music, and binge watching his favourite TV shows. ‘Confessions on an Island’ is his debut novel.
To connect with him, find him on Twitter @ImAyanPal and Facebook @AuthorAyanPal.

Note – I received this review copy from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Cantilevered Tales by Jayant Kripalani | Book Review

Bag it All by Nina Lekhi | Book Review

I first came across the Baggit Brand in 1999. It was at the Shoppers Stop in New Delhi – A first-of-its-kind store that had opened at the first shopping mall in the city. With all those firsts, naturally, my friends and I were curious enough to make our way over one morning, after having finished an early class at college.

Being the bag lover I was, I distinctly remember being drawn to the product displayed at the Baggit counter. I was amazed at their price tags; couldn’t believe my eyes. I came out of the store that day with my first adult wallet. It was a beige compact tri-fold by Baggit which I went on to use for the next few years. Served me well too.

When I heard about this book about the Brand and its Founder, I was reminded of that first purchase and was curious to learn more about them.

The seeds for Baggit were planted by Nina Lekhi at the young age of 18 when she failed her First year of Commercial Art. What started in one half of the children’s bedroom in her parents’ house, only as a means to move forward from her failure and to prove herself, has today grown into a 100+ crore company.

screenshot_20170602-104637.png

Along the way, Lekhi became a wife and mom, and navigated the new paths and destinations of her life. As the business grew, she roped in the support of her family who continue to be actively involved in the running of the Brand alongside her.

During her journey, she also came across Siddha Samadhi Yoga and became an ardent follower. She has imbibed their principles to maintain work-life balance as well as create a harmonious work ethic at her company, which has yielded profitable returns in both spheres of her life.

Bag it All is a management lesson that unfolds right before you on its pages. Lekhi tells her story of how the brand was created, the risks she took, and the practices she adopted.

The book is broken down into chapters that progress through the growing phases of the business, while also imparting a valuable entrepreneurial lesson at the end. She shares the practices that worked, as well as the mistakes that taught her valuable lessons.

Lekhi strongly believes that women can have it all –  A loving family, a successful company, and the opportunity to follow our passion. She reveals the secrets of her inspirational success story, that comes with a full serving of hard work and determination, along with a generous helping of good design and aesthetic which helped her take off.

In doing all this, she has created lasting business relationships with her employees, vendors, and clients, which go a long way in making Baggit the successful company it is today.

Title: Bag it All
Author: Nina Lekhi as told to Suman Chhabria Addepalli
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
ISBN: 978-81-8495-981-9
Edition/Year: First Edition 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Non-Fiction – Business, Entrepreneurship
Pages: 250
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Nina Lekhi is Founder, MD and Chief Design Curator of Baggit India, a market leader in bags and accessories. She has won several prestigious awards from the Indian government and media for her contributions. Baggit has achieved recognition from PETA for being a cruelty-free, vegan brand. Nina is an ardent follower of Siddha Samadhi Yoga (SSY) and maintains work-life balance by shuttling between Mumbai and the hills of Katarkhadak village (adopted by her to ensure rural employment and overall welfare) with her husband and daughter.
She can be reached on Twitter @ninalekhi.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Unns: The Captivation by Sapan Saxena | Book Review

Much has been said and written about love, the most profound of emotions known to God’s creations. I believe French Novelist and Memoirist, George Sand, wrote it best – “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved”.  

While love may provide an all-encompassing feeling, its quest and fulfillment cannot be experienced in this one emotion alone, but in stages. The mystical philosophy of Sufism describes seven stages of love – beginning from Hub (Attraction), moving onwards to Unns (Infatuation), Mohabbat (Love), Aqeedat (Respect), Ibaadat (Worship), Junoon (Obsession), to Maut (Death).

Some may know of these stages, fewer may have lived through them. With his new book, Unns: The Captivation, Author Sapan Saxena takes the reader on a journey through these seven stages of love.

IMG_20170415_215533_032

Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim meet as adolescents and are drawn to each other, only to be separated by circumstances shortly thereafter. Many years later, when they meet again, Atharva is on a covert mission. Caught in the battle between circumstances and destiny, willingly or unwillingly, Atharva and Meher transcend the seven stages of love.

Unns is a quintessential tale of love and romance, set against a backdrop of international espionage.

To find out more about this book, read my detailed review as published at Writersmelon.com.

Author: Sapan Saxena
Publisher: Inspire India Publishers
Edition/Year: 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance Thriller
Pages: 244

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Sapan Saxena is a software engineer by profession and an author by choice. Born in the city of Nawabs, Lucknow, he earned his Engineering degree from MNNIT Allahabad. Sapan started writing when he was coding for a complex algorithm and found that a fictional story would at least make some sense.
Currently based in Nashua, New Hampshire, he is the author of Finders, Keepers. Unns-The Captivation is his second attempt at writing fiction.
To connect with him, visit him at facebook.com/authorsapansaxena or follow him on Twitter @sapansaxena.

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Finding Juliet by Toffee | Book Review

When you’re young and beginning to grapple with emotions which until now had been unknown to you, it may seem difficult to find your way around them and emerge victorious. Put to test, you then do what seems best – use analytics and reasoning, and by a trial & error method, attempt to deal with it.

Alas, when the heart is naïve and the mind has not quite found its way, logic rarely makes sense, as the protagonist of Finding Juliet finds out.

Arjun is a simple, straightforward guy who believes cupid’s arrow will strike him when the time is right. The arrow strikes him all right. Not once, not twice, but three times. But when he starts to believe that this might be his true love, he finds himself rudely pushed away.

Dejected, he decides to move from Bangalore, in order to put the heartbreaking episodes behind him, and seeks strength from his childhood friend, Anjali.

In Hyderabad, Arjun meets Krish – an irresistible flirt, who claims to have deciphered the most complicated species on Earth – Women. Using Arjun’s past experiences as case studies, Krish teaches him the code to understanding them.

And then, Arjun enters a new phase of his life.

img_20170125_122723_546

Will Arjun also become a flirt like his mentor, or will he manage to find true love? Will his goal of everlasting happiness remain, or change track along the way? Finding Juliet is Arjun’s journey to discover the meaning of life, love, and lust, like he has never experienced before.

To find out more about this book, read my detailed review as published at Writersmelon.com.

Author: Toffee (The Alter Ego of Taufeeq Ahmed)
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Edition/Year: 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction/YA Romance
Pages: 224

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Toffee is a simple guy who loves the complications of life. Earlier, he wrote code by day and books by night. Currently he is busy writing assignments and chasing deadlines in his Master’s in Business Analytics from the University of South Florida.
Toffee loves narrating interesting stories with subtle insights. Through books he wants to share beautiful stories, reach out to people and touch their hearts. Finding Juliet is his second book, written specially for India’s Generation-Y.
To connect with him, visit him at facebook.com/ToffeeIdiot or follow him on Twitter @ToffeeIdiot.

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Lanka’s Princess by Kavita Kané | Book Review

Those familiar with Valmiki’s Ramayana will recognise Surpanakaha as Ravan’s sister, who chanced upon the Ayodhya Princes in Panchvati during their exile. While she was smitten by Ram’s youthful good looks, he spurned her advances, claiming his faithfulness to his wife Sita. Rejected, Surpanakha approached his younger brother, Lakshman, who reacted in a similar manner. The brothers began to tease her and, upon realising she was being humiliated, she attacked them. Ram recognised that she was in fact a rakshasi (demon woman) and promptly ordered Lakshman to maim her. Thus, Lakshman cut off her nose and ears and sent her away.

Few know that Surpanakha, which means the woman as ‘hard as nails’, was born Princess Meenakshi – the one with beautiful, fish-shaped eyes. Growing up in the shadow of her brothers who were destined to win wars, fame and prestige, she instead, chartered out a path filled with misery and revenge.

img_20170120_152430_131

Ugly, untamed, brutal and brazen – this is how she is often perceived. Accused of manipulating events between Ram and Ravan, which culminated into a bloody war that wiped out her family, Surpanakha is often the most misunderstood character in the Ramayana. But was she really a perpetrator of war? Or was she a victim? Was she ‘Lanka’s Princess’? Or was she the reason behind its destruction?

Kavita Kané picks up yet another enigmatic woman from the pages of history and tells her story leading to the more familiar events of the Ramayana.

The book opens with Krishna, who upon seeing Kubja, the hunchbacked woman of Mathura, recognises her as a reincarnation of Surpanakha. He reveals to her that he himself is Ram, now born as Krishna (Ram was the seventh incarnation of Vishnu and Krishna his eighth) and has come to her to rectify the grave misdeed he committed in his previous life – of rejecting her.

He begins to narrate Surpanakha’s story from the time she was born as the youngest child of Rishi Vishravas and his second wife Kaikesi.

I can’t say I have much knowledge of ancient Hindu scriptures, other than the more commonly known events of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, while reading Lanka’s Princess, I was curious to know if this was a retelling of actual events, or a fictitious representation. I noticed later that the copyright page, which I had skipped in my hurry to start reading this mesmerising novel, clearly listed the disclaimer that this book is a work of fiction.

The author appears to have done extensive research as she combines the events of different versions of the Ramayana and other supporting texts (so revealed by a quick google search), to unfold the life of Princess Meenakshi a.k.a. Surpanakha. With deep mahogany skin and eyes blazing gold, she was a handful from the very beginning. Her character develops as the rage filled princess, hated by her mother, who would bare her sharp claws when someone tried to hurt her.

Alongside, the reader is taken through events leading to the rise of Ravan as King of Lanka and the ensuing effect it brings on his family, more predominantly Surpanakha’s life. The reader may sympathise with her for being the neglected child, while at the same time despising her for her vengeful tactics. The author portrays her not as a good or bad character, but simply as a misunderstood woman who, in her own eyes, is merely righting the wrong done to her when her one chance at happiness has been taken away.

The timeline moves fast enough for the reader to be absorbed in the events and not lose interest. In true Ramayana style, the author raises underlying questions about right and wrong, good and evil, gender discrimination, and women’s rights.

I was disappointed with the editing of the book. It probably needed one last round of proofreading to correct print/typeset errors. The author and publisher might want to correct this in the next print run.

To summarise, Lanka’s Princess may be a mythological retelling of events. However in today’s day and age, when women are still subjected to various forms of discrimination, the author puts the spotlight on a woman’s fight against injustice,  no matter how unjust the fight itself may be.

Having read this book, I am now curious to read her other stories of similar strong female characters.

Title: Lanka’s Princess
Author: Kavita Kané
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-81-291-4451-5
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 312
Source: Writersmelon.com
Rating: 4 Stars

Available on Amazonand Flipkart.

About the Author: A senior journalist with a career of over two decades, which includes working for Magna publication and DNA, she quit her job as Assistant Editor of Times of India to devote herself as a full time author. A self-styled aficionado of cinema and theatre and sufficiently armed with a post-graduate degree in English Literature and Mass Communication from the University of Pune, the only skill she knows, she candidly confesses, is writing.
Karna’s Wife her debut novel, (2013)was a bestseller. Her second novel – Sita’s Sister (2014) also deals with another enigmatic personality – Urmila, probably the most overlooked character in the Ramayan. Menaka’s Choice(2015) ,another best-seller, is about the famous apsara and her infamous liaison with Vishwamitra – the man she was sent to destroy. Lanka’s Princess (2016) is her fourth book.
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , Kavita currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband Prakash and two daughters Kimaya and Amiya with Chic the black cocker spaniel and Cotton the white, curious cat.
To connect with her, visit her at facebook.com/authorkavitakane or follow her on Twitter @kavitakane.

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat | Book Review

img_20161219_121949

We, as humans, take form from what happens to us. Every incident we experience – be it of joy, sadness, or simply contemplation on the events around us – shapes us into the person we allow ourselves to become.

There are some who choose to walk with the flow of these events and let nature take its course. There are others who find the strength to fight the natural flow and use their experiences to change the norm.

Ex-ACP Anton Pinto reluctantly joins an investigation into the mysterious disappearances of men from affluent families in Mumbai. Despite the lack of any connection between victims, all clues indicate a similar pattern of abduction. However, with few witnesses and no ransom demands, the trail has long gone cold.

As Anton starts following the clues, he discovers a common link between the victims. Further investigation misdirects him to a few dead-ends, until another man is reported to have gone missing.

Driven by rage at not having his head in the game, he races between schools, old-age homes, illegal dingy hospitals, and dilapidated bungalows, in his quest to find the perpetrator. New leads take him through a labyrinth of incest, abuse, torture, and suffering, spanning decades, that makes his hair stand on end.

Will Anton uncover the motive behind the crime? How is the seemingly harmless, yet mysterious old woman connected to this case? Can justice be served before it is too late?

Birds of Prey is a thriller that leaves a deep impact on the reader. The unfolding events are narrated from two different points of view standing at opposite ends of the spectrum.

With each clue, the author peels back the dark, untold horrors of child abuse plaguing our society. Her treatment of the subject urges you to pause every now and then – to introspect on the harsh realities it reveals. As the story progresses, the reader can’t help but get emotionally tangled in the riveting plot that gets your heart racing.

Archana’s writing style is simple, with a clear line of thought maintained throughout the book. She switches effortlessly between the two points of view to create drama and build suspense. The protagonist and antagonist have been written with strong personality traits to fall in line with their role in the plot. Supporting characters are also etched and added with the precision of a near perfect recipe.

I did feel the Criminal Profiler seemed more whimsical, rather than an analyst of behavioural psychology as I expected him to be. Nonetheless, with his small role in the play of events, it was not something that would bother one very much. Besides, it was probably all the episodes of Criminal Minds I have binge-watched, that made me even notice it in the first place.

I also noticed a few sentences seemed grammatically incorrect. In the first couple of instances I thought it may have been deliberate on the author’s part, but later I realised it was more likely an editing oversight.

Birds of Prey throws light on the lost innocence of victims who are haunted throughout their lives by the psychological trauma of the crimes they are subjected to. However, when trauma sets out to seek justice, the fight sometimes gives rise to a form of misdirected vigilantism that could well turn into crime.

David Rains Wallace, a writer of Conservation and Natural History, wrote in this book ‘The Untamed Garden and Other Personal Essays’ – “Every time we exterminate a predator, we are in a sense creating a new predator.”

Rarely have I come across a novel which is as horrific in the crime it reveals, as it is subliminal about the state of our society.

Archana has handled the subject with the tenderness and sensitivity it craves. I expect her work will receive many accolades in the coming year.

Title: Birds of Prey
Author: Archana Sarat
Publisher: Readomania
ISBN: 978-93-858542-0-0
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction – Crime Thriller
Pages: 192
Source: From the Author
Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Archana Sarat is an Author and Poet for the last ten years. She shuttles between Chennai and Mumbai and loves both cities passionately. Her works have been published in various popular newspapers, magazines and anthologies like The Times of India, The Economic Times, the SEBI and Corporate Laws Journal, the CA Newsletter, Me Magazine, the Science Reporter, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, the WRIMO India Anthology, the Glo Mag Literary Journal and many more. She is popular in the online world for her flash fiction that appear every Saturday, called ‘Saturday Shots’. Though she is a Chartered Accountant by qualification, she took up her childhood love for writing as her vocation. She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from the Writers Bureau, UK. She lives with her husband and two sons in Mumbai.
Birds of Prey is her first novel.
To connect with her, visit her webpage – http://www.archanasarat.com or follow her on Twitter @archanasarat and facebook.com/archanasaratauthor.

Note – I received this review copy from the Author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com

A Forgotten Affair by Kanchana Banerjee | Book Review

9789352640072

There is an old saying – You don’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. This may sound philosophical and yet, if you delve behind the deeper meaning of these words, you may be unable to deny their truth.

However, for one moment, try putting the philosophy aside from this statement and read it in its literal implication – What if you didn’t know where you’ve been? Or had no clue about your past? Where would that take you?

Debut author Kanchana Banerjee tells just such a story in The Forgotten Affair.

Six months after a near-fatal accident, Sagarika Mehta wakes up from a coma with no memory whatsoever. Her care and recovery is being monitored by a man who claims to be her husband.

A year later, with no improvement in her condition, he whisks her away to a new home in a new city, to convalesce. Despite the plush new apartment, and enough people to wait on her hand and foot, Sagarika can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong.

In her struggle to remember, she stumbles upon tiny pieces of a puzzle that she can’t manage to fit anywhere. The sound of an innocuous word, the smell of a particular cologne – they all haunt her. She also notices Rishab, the husband, is evasive when it comes to answering any questions about her past.

With a blank memory and no one to trust, can Sagarika uncover the truth all by herself?

A Forgotten Affair is a love story, yes, and a lot more. It is also a thriller where the writer creates enough suspense to keep you hooked, page after page. Every character is finely crafted to the point that you can almost hear the wheels churning in their head as they make their move, carrying the story forward.

Amnesia may seem far too Bollywood-ish, but it is frightening to even imagine being put in a situation as grave as this in the real world. Nonetheless, the author has successfully woven a tragic condition into a heart-warming tale of love, faith and self-discovery. By staying away from the conventional rules of romance and love, she has injected a unique freshness in this story.

She also raises important questions regarding emotional abuse, control, a woman’s right to choose, and her place in society, among others.

The plot moves effortlessly between the present and the past, revealing circumstances and incidents crucial to the timeline. The language is smooth flowing, which makes you race through the book even though you struggle to slow down and savour every word.

Like the novel, even the cover of this book expresses beauty in its simplicity.

I am already looking forward to read Kanchana Banerjee’s next!

Title: A Forgotten Affair
Author: Kanchana Banerjee
Publisher: Harlequin (An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers India)
ISBN: 978-93-5264-007-2
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 200
Source: Writersmelon.com
Rating: 4 Stars

Available on Amazon and Flipkart.

About the Author: After writing feature articles for various publications, PR firms, and companies for nearly two decades, Kanchana Banerjee decided to pursue her long -cherished dream – to write a novel.
She holds a master’s degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She lives in Gurgaon with her husband, son, and two dogs – Archie and Casper.
A Forgotten Affair is her first novel.

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Image courtesy: https://harpercollins.co.in/

 

Graffiti by Joanie Pariera | Book Review

graffiti

Graffiti (/ɡrəˈfiːti/) noun
Writing or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or painted illicitly on a wall or other surface, often within public view.

The novel is much like its title. It is a collection of events in the lives of two people, living in different countries, who are destined to come together and change each other’s lives through a peculiar connection. Although, the significance of this word in respect to the novel is much deeper.

Vipin, an Indian techie working in the USA, is grieving over the death of his wife. His friends and colleagues offer little solace, but not for lack of trying. In fact, their well-meaning attempts are a constant source of frustration for Vipin.

Rene, living in Bangalore, is trying to make sense of her dreams while dealing with her own heartbreak. Her boyfriend seems to have vanished into thin air leaving her pining for him.

As their stories progress in their respective time zones, other characters are added to the tangled web of their individual lives. There is Upasana (Upi), Rene’s closest friend who has taken it upon herself to fix Rene’s troubles. Then there’s Mark, who on one glimpse of her, believes he has found his soulmate in Rene.

Meanwhile, Vipin, surrounded by friends from his days of bachelorhood, is wondering if he will ever overcome this constant feeling of helplessness and get his life back on track, as Rene takes baby steps towards attempting to reinvent herself with Upi’s help.

The novel is largely narrated in the third person, with the exception of Vipin’s story that is told in first person (which is only appropriate since ‘Graffiti’ primarily revolves around him).

At the beginning, there seem to be too many characters being introduced into the plot, making it unclear where the story is heading. It takes a while for each of them to take their own paths.

The concept of ‘Graffiti’ is unique in how art may influence our perception of experiences and drive us to change in our lives. The book has elements of humour, drama, some suspense, and romance – specifically geared for an adult reader base. It is an exploration of situations and the complex relationships they create (or destroy), amidst changing concepts of Indian society. There are generous helpings of an earthy Indian-ness in the characters and their stories. However, the idea of India described here seems a tad dated, considering there has been a lot of progress in its culture and beliefs.

It may be recommended to put the manuscript through another round of editing, for both grammar and plot, before the next edition is released. (It can be irksome for a reader to pause reading when something doesn’t fit). Also, the reading guide (received separately) could be added to the ebook.

Title: Graffiti
Author: Joanie Pariera
Publisher: AuthorHouse
ASIN: B00B3R5QYY
Edition/Year: First Edition 2013
Format: Kindle
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 346
Source: Writersmelon.com
Rating: 3 Stars

Available on Amazon.

About the Author: Joanie Pariera (Pen Name), has apparently been thinking about writing fiction since the time she learned to say the word ‘pencil’. It came to be, that that was the first word her parents taught her to say. According to them, she then made up her own word for it just to see them squirm.
She likes to think she is a master of many things, including making up words. To start with she has two master’s degrees. She cooks, keeps house, codes and programs, and until recently used to write specifications for Information Systems for a living. Having traveled extensively, she has self-assimilated the cultural nuances of various unsuspecting anthropological groups and stealthily continues to put down her impressions in her writing.
To learn more about her, visit her webpage – http://joaniepariera.com/.

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: goodreads.com

03:02 by Mainak Dhar | Book Review

IMG_20160906_164828

I remember when this book popped up on my Twitter feed a few months ago. One look at the cover and I knew I had to read it. It was screaming, calling out to me, and I hadn’t even read the blurb yet!

I can’t deny I am an impulsive reader. I read whatever catches my fancy – a creative book cover, an engaging blurb, a talked about author, and sometimes, maybe an interesting title. In this case, I hadn’t heard of the author. I assumed he was a debut novelist. Only now when I’ve read this book and looked him up, have I realised that he has written over a dozen novels and non-fiction books. Though, in all fairness, most of his novels are about zombies which don’t exactly find their way on my reading list.

Coming back to this book – there was one little problem. As eager as I was to pick this up, the rising tower of books at my bedside meant that it was only fair I work through my existing TBR pile before buying new ones. But that didn’t stop me from entering every giveaway I came across for 03:02. Then, out of the blue I received this in the mail, over the weekend, from Writersmelon. Well, let’s just say – TBR be damned! I utilised the best part of Sunday engrossed in this book and every minute was totally worth it.

As you may have guessed, the title of this book refers to the time – two minutes past three, on a Sunday morning – when all of Mumbai plunges into absolute darkness. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and no working cars. As strange as it sounds, it is as if someone hit the reset button to the city, only it never turned back on. While most people assume it is a temporary situation, the gradually emerging signs seem to point otherwise. It is unknown whether this is an accidental power failure or something more, or even how far the extent of it is carried. But when basic necessities, like food and water supply, start becoming a cause for concern, survival instincts kick in, bringing with it a threat to the city’s law and order.

The world as we know it, has ended. It is not enough to wait around, expecting the government to act, when none of the city’s services are functional. It is up to the people to seek out and conquer the enemy, even if it means waging a war in our homes and streets.

In 03:02, Mainak Dhar brings a story that is so impossible to imagine that it will leave you stunned. Advances in technology have propelled civilization at an unfathomable speed. Simple things that once mattered are now conveniently taken for granted. Our needs and emotions have become increasingly individualistic. Most of all, given a choice, we would expect someone else to solve a problem, rather than taking it upon ourselves.

Are we then capable to handle a situation that forces us to pool in every last available resource and unite to fight the enemy? When it is a question of survival, can we be trusted to think beyond our personal benefit? How far are we willing to go into the unknown to protect what rightfully belongs to us? Are we looking for someone to lead the way because that is the easier thing to do? When given the opportunity, how eager are we to grab power? The book puts up many such pertinent questions as a backdrop to this riveting thriller.

It also explores social hierarchy and the changing nature of relationships when subjected to intense circumstances. If we remove wealth from the equation of society, and are left only with our courage and intelligence, we may forge strange and unconventional bonds. The question that remains at the end is – does it take one man, or a community, to lead us to victory.

There is a lot more to this novel than I could possible reveal here, for fear of uncovering key plot details. However, I will mention that this is an intense novel, like none other I’ve read. Every turn of the page adds another multi layered dimension to the unfolding mystery and it is hard to let go at any stage. It has been an absolute delight to read 03:02 and I look forward to more such books by Mainak Dhar.

On a side note, I’d like to add that the personalised handwritten letter, along with the signed giveaway copy, was a nice touch by the author. Makes the experience of reading this book a little bit richer!

20160906_182224

Title: 03:02
Author: Mainak Dhar
Publisher: Westland Ltd.
ISBN: 978-93-85152-96-2
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 350
Source: Writersmelon.com

Rating: 5 Stars

Available on Amazon and Flipkart.

About the Author: After finishing his schooling at Modern School, Barakhamba Road and his under-graduation at Hindu College, Delhi, Mainak Dhar graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He has spent two decades in the corporate sector — starting with Procter & Gamble in India. He spent eighteen years with P&G, fifteen of them outside India across the Asia Pacific region. In 2014, he moved back to India as the CEO of the India operations of a major consumer products multinational.
A self-described cubicle dweller by day and writer by night, Mainak is also the author of over a dozen books, some of which have been bestsellers in India and abroad. These books have been translated into Turkish, Vietnamese, Japanese, French, German and Portuguese.
He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Puja, and their son, Aaditya. When not at work or with his family, he can usually be found working on, or thinking about his next book.
To learn more about him, visit his webpage – http://www.mainakdhar.com, or follow him on Twitter @mainakdhar and Facebook.com/AuthorMainakDhar .

Note – I received this review copy from Writersmelon.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Picture Source: aquamarineflavours.wordpress.com