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?

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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

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat | Book Review

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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

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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/

 

Book Review Contest – Weekly Prizes To Be Won

Further to my previous blogpost on the book review for Destiny of Shattered Dreams, here is an exciting contest for all book lovers.

The author of this novel – Nilesh Rathod, in association with Rupa Publications, is conducting a mega review contest for his novel which will extend from  17th July 2016 to 9th October 2016.

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The novel is already on the bestseller lists of Amazon, W H Wills & Sapna bookstores. It is critically acclaimed and now in its first re-print. Shobhaa De tweeted “Nilesh may just be the desi Jeffrey Archer India has been long waiting for”. Hindustan times in its review said “Putting it down may be hard to do”. The book has breached the Amazon bestseller in the contemporary fiction category and with over 15 mainstream media appearances, the novel is all set to be the biggest debut this year yet.

In order to take part in this contest all you have to do is buy a copy of this critically acclaimed bestseller “Destiny of Shattered Dreams” by Nilesh Rathod and review it on select book review sites. Post your review link on the contest page and get a chance to win a Kindle every week. The winning reviews will be posted on the Author’s page at the end of the week.

There is also a grand prize at the end of the contest, the winner of which will be selected among all the 12 weekly winners. This prize includes an all expenses trip for two to the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 with 3 or 4 Star accommodation on twin sharing basis along with 2 VIP tickets for the entire event. 

With the weekend almost here, this would be the perfect time to shop ‘Destiny of Shattered Dreams’at your favourite local or online bookstore. Read the book and post your reviews on the contest page. Remember, you have from 17th July 2016 to 9th October 2016.

As a participating blogger, I will be voting for the best review each week. You can find me by my logo on the Contest Page along with Contest Rules, Terms & Conditions. Don’t forget to follow this blog to stay updated.

Good Luck and Happy Reading!

Image Source: Courtesy of www.nileshrathod.in

 

Book Review – Destiny of Shattered Dreams by Nilesh Rathod

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Before I share my review of this book, I must confess that I am always eager to read books by debut authors. I find they have a distinct voice in their writing that is raw, and unblemished by repeated editing, as the writers themselves (and publishers) are still trying to find a home for the book on the store shelf.

Therefore, when I received an email from this author asking if I would review his debut novel, I jumped at the opportunity.

As the title suggests, Destiny of Shattered Dreams is about one man’s journey through his rise and fall, across the pinnacles of corporate stardom. Atul Malhotra is a young, ambitious entrepreneur in the telecom industry and, with the support of his trusted co-founders, has successfully steered the company to become a billion dollar enterprise in a span of ten years. However, when they plan to expand their operations across the country, they find themselves caught in a brutal nexus of industry and politics.

In his arrogant quest for power, Atul decides to gamble on the very principles that the company was built on and soon realises that he must learn to navigate through the seedy streets of dirty politics, crime and infidelity if he wants to safeguard his interests as well as those of his company. The book chronicles the passion and hunger that fuel Atul’s choices and their impact on his personal and professional life.

The author being a CFA and co-founder of an enterprise himself, gives a thrilling insider’s account of the world of business. He creates a lead character that hooks the reader with all his strengths and flaws. His relationships force the reader to think about ethics, values, and long-term repercussions of every decision.

The dialogue and movement of the story on the professional side is crisp and well paced. It reveals Atul as a man with a sharp business acumen who is willing to take calculated risks in the interest of business.

However in his interactions on the personal side, Atul seems to alternate between inconsiderate and desperately needy which is in contrast to the other side of his character. Also, sometimes dialogue seems unnecessarily repetitive, as if the author is trying to drive a point. It ends up sounding like a monologue fighting for space between two people.

Nonetheless, the flaws in character is what makes the story entertaining. It entices the reader enough that one can’t help but turn the page to find out what happens next. This is one of the better debuts by an Indian Author.

Title: Destiny of Shattered Dreams
Author: Nilesh Rathod
Publisher: Rupa Publications
ISBN: 978-81-291-3975-7
Edition/Year: First Edition 2016
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 254
Source: From the Author
Rating: 4 Stars

Available on Amazon and Flipkart.

About the Author: Nilesh Rathod is a businessperson, writer and poet. Co-founder of Ensemble Infrastructure India Limited, Nilesh’s company currently employs over 2000 people.
Destiny of Shattered Dreams is his debut novel. Nilesh is currently working on his second novel. He lives in Mumbai. You may email him at nilesh@nileshrathod.in or visit his webpage http://www.nileshrathod.in. You may also follow him on twitter @authornilesh or at http://facebook.com/authornilesh

Image courtesy of www.nileshrathod.in