Tuesday, October 18, 2016

03:02 by Mainak Dhar

Have you ever given it a thought that how much we are dependent on electricity and technology? And ever considered a life without any of it?

On a fateful night, the world we are so comfortable in just came to a standstill at 03:02 AM. No power, no gadgets, no cars. Aaditya, the protagonist, along with many others, initially thinks it is a power cut of a larger scale and things would get back to normal soon. However, the reality sinks in soon. 

Aaditya rises to the occasion to help people think with a cool mind, and is joined by Kundu who helps to organize teams of people to different tasks, Nitish who rewires the generators to restore limited power supply, Mahadev who gets a few autos running in the same way, etc. Slowly as the gravity of the situation sinks in, neighbouring societies join together to face a common crisis. 

As the story unfolds, what seemed to be power failure transforms into a nuclear attack. Unfortunately no help from the government can reach... so civilians consisting of bankers, teachers, businessmen, students and domestic helps, and such common people join to form an army that has to face dangerous terrorists.

What I liked about the book is that unlike our expectations, things are not restored to normal. Yet, people find ways to keep going. 

03:02 is a gripping tale where people are inspired to find the light within themselves when there is darkness all around.


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Calling: Unleash Your True Self

Personally I hate books in the Self Help genre. The truth is that I am afraid of them, for they hold a mirror in front of you – a mirror that tells you many unkind truths.

Well, The Calling is not like that. You embark on a journey with Arjun, the protagonist, right from the beginning. Although your attitude might be "This is not my story, but Arjun's", you will find yourself identifying with the over stressed professional that Arjun is, torn between work and family. Maybe our own work life balance is not in a situation as bad as his, but if we do nothing about it, the difference would gradually disappear.

Arjun has a near fatal accident, and is miraculously brought back to life by a sadhu. On his insistence, Arjun embarks on a journey to Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib ji, a holy shrine set amidst the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh. Just like we have to sort our problems ourselves, Arjun finds himself alone at the start of his journey, as his best friend and travel companion, Jay was needed elsewhere.

Instead, he finds company in Chandu, his transporter, who is just 18 years old. Arjun is overwhelmed by the beauty around him, which he had ignored till then, only to witness events he did not understand. When asked, Chandu cheekily says, “It takes long, sahib”.

The best part of the book is when a second sadhu gives Arjun three tests… situations we are faced with in our own lives, that are deeper than they appear and it is how we respond that defines how our lives would ultimately be. Also, towards the end, Arjun realizes he was reaping effects of the seeds of misery he had sown himself. You would find yourself nodding as you realize that the protagonist is an extension of yourself, and his journey is actually leading you to that unkind mirror, where you can take a stronger look at your own actions.

It is a must read for all.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Agniputr - When Agni First Spoke

The story introduces a team of scientists who are engaged in research of paranormal activities. All is well till one young researcher disappears while investigating the sinister beliefs of a far flung village in Andhra Pradesh.

Shiela, boss of the missing scientist, Major Kant and two young researchers set out to find out the truth. The owner of the property that houses the secret to the mystery that looms over the little village is the charismatic Raghuram Surya, who is also a shrewd lawyer. What follows is a roller coaster ride full of fear, religious hocus pocus, political fights, hunger for power and more. Our scientific minds will refuse to accept paranormal stuff, but the writing style is so good that you would remain glued to the book, eagerly awaiting for a scientific explanation.

For example, when the explanation to discovery of parts of a motorcycle used by the scientist turns out to be a failed mission of dismantling the bike by local lads meaning to sell the parts off, our minds readily accept it.

The aftereffect of completing the book leaves you wondering at your own self. The demon is within ourselves, and there are people like tantriks who make a living out of our fears. 

The author very subtly encourages us to face any challenge that we are faced with, even if we are intimidated by it. We should trust the Almighty to be with us at all times, and believe that things would be sorted out at the end. We may lose something, but what God leaves us with is also priceless.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Flip

Let me set the mood for the book, before I tell you what I thought about it. Julie and Brad Evans are a couple who buys and sells properties in order to earn some money for a better future. The author uses the term "flip" in this sense: flipping of houses. Life for them continues to be mundane until they buy an ancient mansion, Bedlam House. What will they find in there?

The author puts forward an idea - although a house may have been vacated, the energy of the previous owners stay imprinted in the building; and the artifacts remain silent witnesses to many events.

As it happens, Bedlam House was not empty- there were spirits of Tessa Hemmings and Gerald Kanning who had not left the premises even though they had died quite a while ago. Playful and teasing by nature, Tessa not only enjoys teasing Gerald who had always been in awe of her, but also scaring human beings off the property. She takes fancy to Brad, and needless to say, hates his wife Julie. She tries to harm Julie while she was alone in their home, but the tables are turned when Brad and Julie decide to shift to Bedlam House as they have nowhere else to go to.

When I read the blurb, I was sceptical about the book for I am not very fond of paranormal settings. However, this book is quite enjoyable. The relationships between Brad and Julie, their friends and associates Sal and Willy, Tessa and Gerald have been portrayed beautifully. The confusion felt by each character as they individually feel that something is not so normal in there is vivid. 

Read the book to discover the secrets of Bedlam House and how "The Flip" turned out for Brad and Julie!
Buy links: Amazon/ B&N

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Second Lives

“Second Lives” by Anish Sarkar is a gripping tale of murder, emotions, friendship and relationships. Although narrated from different angles by the characters, the story progresses at a rapid pace. The story begins when three school friends, Omar, Neel and Sara get together at Sara’s plush bungalow to find further details about the death of another member of their group, Rachel, although the police had already closed the case, terming it as suicide. 

Their investigation not only re-opened the case, but went on to reveal one shocking detail after another. This was a case of a serial killer, who kills brutally for his own sadistic pleasure and yet manages to get away with it. The story swings to flashback, twelve years ago and lifts the covers off the past, which gradually add up to the present… and 75% through the book, however unwilling you may be, you would have guessed who this psychopath was.

From this point onwards, it should have been a story of tracking down the criminal and stop him before he spreads the massacre any further. However the real identity of the murderer is a big surprise!

The language is simple and easy to grasp even if you are reading while travelling or in a noisy environment. It is the narration of events that keeps you glued to the book, and you would put it down once the mission is accomplished.

Although there may be a few loose ends, and too much adult content according to me, the focus on string of deaths does not waiver, which makes the book an enjoyable read.
Published by Westland Publishers

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mandate: Will of the People

Vir Sanghvi is a childhood name for me. I remember some of his articles vividly even today. So, when I discovered "Mandate: Will of the People", I picked it up just for the author. Being someone with absolutely zero interest in politics, sketchy ideas about various events, if someone could make me read a book on Indian politics, it has to be Vir Sanghvi.

The book starts from the days of our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. It moves through the eras, with a detached perspective, narrating facts. The account is quite brave, as it puts forward different thought processes, conspiracies, blunders and also lauds achievements of every succeeding era. The author offers his own point of view too- unafraid to call an eminent personality quite incapable at handling crisis situations.

What the book made me realize was how little I knew about Indian Politics. Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated few years after I was born - which means I've been around some time and have borne witness to many a turmoil in the political scenario. Yet, there is much I did not know. For example, who was I. K. Gujral? Or P. V. Narsimha Rao, V. P. Singh and Charan Singh? How did BJP manage to overthrow the mighty Congress, who were ruling for long? What led to the demolition of Babri Masjid (I remember the curfew that was imposed at that time.)? I had heard much about the Emergency, but neither did I know why it was imposed and what changed the scenario later - Vir Sanghvi opened my eyes in many such aspects.

India is all set to become a global super power today, having evolved from a country with slow economic growth. This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to know about the true series of events that shaped the present-day India.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Hunt for Kohinoor

What can you do when you are asked to solve a mystery with no clue available? And given just 96 hours flat? That too, with not only your life, but life of your father and many more at stake? Mehrunisa finds herself in such a critical situation. The odds are fiercely against her, yet she must deliver.

The Kohinoor, although a valuable diamond, has only brought doom to its owners, except for females. Documents pertaining to a terrorist attack, hidden by an assassinated President, are ironically its namesake! Mehrunisa finds clues and cleverly solves the riddle two-thirds into the book, but that is not enough! She must foil the plan - but when pitted against a jihad-motivated cruel enemy, what can she do?

The story is narrated like a film - a character is introduced at a time in completely different settings, and pieces culminate in the climax. Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, the author, keeps you on the edge of your seat as every chapter begins with the time. So you know when parallel events happen, and also helps you assess how much is left. Reading the book was an amazing experience for me, for I felt the nerve chilling tension as the clock kept ticking.

I'll give it 4 stars out of 5.