Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Guardian Angel by Ruchi Singh: A Review


BOOK TITLE: Guardian Angel

AUTHOR: Ruchi Singh

ISBN/ASIN: B07MDHHP27

GENRE: Thriller / Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 168

FORMAT: Digital / Kindle

SERIES / STANDALONE: Undercover Series #2

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author for a review copy, and DDS Reviews for this chance to review the book.

SUMMARY:

The Man

Security expert Nikhil Mahajan is in mortal danger. Gravely injured and unable to see, he is in the midst of hostile strangers in an unknown place. Any hope of survival is fast fading away.

The Angel

Should an innocent man be left to die just because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone has to intervene.


FIRST IMPRESSION:

I have already had the chance to read Bodyguard, the first book in the series, and loved the descriptive narrative and strong characters. I remember reading the book at a stretch, owing to the captivating narrative that never let me pause or go to some other book. Having also read a few other works of Ruchi Singh before, (including a full length novel and a short story) I was very clearly aware of what to expect in this book.

In particular, the summary inrigued me because it focused on someone who was (spoiler alert) supposed to be dead in book 1. And since he was a favourite character of mine, I could not miss this opportunity to read Guardian Angels. The summary works because it says so much in so few words. For people who have read the first book, these few words are enough to make them want to sit up and take notice. The book cover did not reveal much and just gave a visual to imagine what the characters would look like.

REVIEW:

We have all read books that are part of a series, and we have all picked our favourites that are not exactly the lead characters. But have you ever read a book in which you thoroughly loved a character who is not the lead but is equally important, and wished there was more written about him? This was something similar to what I felt with the first book in this series, 'Bodyguard', where I loved the character Nikhil Mahajan - one of the bodyguards of the lead character, Vikram Seth. He was written in such a way that he immediately captured my mind, and become a character who impressed me in the way he was written.

So it was with great interest that I began to read this book, which promised to be one focusing on this character. And I shall begin the review by saying that this book does not disappoint. It is entirely focusing on the dashing Nikhil Mahajan who was thought to be dead but is being nursed back to health by a woman who is apparently a part of the gang of the people who had kidnapped him. Physically weak, Nikhil continues trying to find out more about his predicament from the lovely yet mysterious Ayesha, who is reticent to tell him anything. She is his Guardian Angel, but he wants to know more about why he is where he is.

Ayesha has more to her than what meets the eye and her motives are as much a matter of doubt as her original identity. The suspense is what keeps the reader turning the pages, and there is a lot to read and follow in the story. The plot is taut, and does not lag in any place. It keeps the interest alive by being an absolute page turner. The thrill of capture and that of escape, not to mention the chase between what to believe and whom to trust, keep the book a thoroughly engaging read. For fans of the previous book, Bodyguard, this book is like returning to the lives of one particular character with a microscope, analysing his life. For people who are reading this book first, it works as a standalone and has basic character background information. But it also is written in such a way that the reader would want to go to book 1 and read more, only to understand why Nikhil Mahajan deserves his own book.

I personally loved two major things in this book - the pace that never slackened, and the narrative that was clean and devoid of drama. As usual, the high of the thrill ends a few pages before the End Card but this also leaves some pages for a neat wrap up of loose ends that the reader really craves. A high octane thriller also needs closure to help satiate the reader's curiosity or risk ending in a cliffhanger that does not tell more about what comes next. In that regard, Guardian Angels has an interesting narrative and a nice wrap-up.

Overall an interesting read, a book full of twists and turns that keeps the adrenaline rushing but also does not compromise on the other elements that keep it wholesome. 

VERDICT:

A must read for fans of Bodyguard (the previous book in the series) and even works as a standalone.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle

PRICE Rs. 99 for Kindle, Free on Kindle Unlimited

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Cover Reveal: Zero Dream Football Alfresco by Rubayata Umeed

Releasing this January... 
A book from the tranquil valleys of Kashmir... 
A Teen Author writes a tale 
of love, passion, dreams and tribulations!


Zero: Dream Football Alfresco



Blurb
“I am not playing to impress you, I am playing for my passion.”

-      Alfresco Keith, Champion Zero

Alfresco Keith, a boy with a rare defining skill, escapes his fear of zeroes, and follows his dream with a burning passion, quickly becoming famous as Champion Zero!

While his skill helps him with his game, a personal tragedy – the death of a loved one – from years ago in his life, follows him. The quest to find the murderers, and the passion to become a football star coincide, with a common thread of suspense weaving both into his life.

A great loss awaits him. So does a gift.

Which will he choose?

Will life pull him down, or will he reach his goal?


Book Cover:



Book in stores January 2019! Available in digital and paperback versions!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

God Created Them All by Rabindranath CP : A Review


BOOK TITLE: God Created Them All

AUTHOR: Rabindranath C P

ISBN/ASIN: B06XYN7M1D

GENRE: Fiction / Short Stories

NUMBER OF PAGES: 286

FORMAT: Digital / PDF

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

"God Created them all" is a collection of fifty five short stories depicting the authors myriad experience spanning 25 years as a doctor, dealing with different personalities in life.

Some of the candid moments in the real life of these hapless people are captured truly in these short stories intertwined with the humorous, aberrant frailties of human nature shrouded in uncanny beliefs, rituals and cultural shackles, societal sanctions; aided and abetted by moral upholders in the society.

No doubt, all the characters are creations of GOD trying to make a living in their own way in whatever they are skilled in, many not understanding nor are aware of the consequences of their actions.

Among them the caregivers struggle to live with their loved ones normally in a stigma ridden, supposedly unpredictable sane world.

In these short stories, the author has provided simple solutions to complex problems, making use of their inherent strength and weakness, with the object of providing a chance to lead their lives with self-respect and dignity.

The untold supreme sacrifice of these lesser brethrens is a clarion call for all of us to lend a supportive and helping hand to make their lives purposeful and happy in our own small humble way as 'God would certainly have done if he were in a human form' as God created them all.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

When the author approached me for the review with a detailed description of his book, I had a very good idea of what to expect. In this day and age where a short story anthology had a maximum of 20 stories, a book with 55 stories intrigued me. Starting from the title that states a simple fact, the author (a doctor) tries to show how all people are unique in their own ways but also mainly similar in some ways. This book promised to be something from behind the scenes, showing the lives of not only the patients but also those beside them who are affected. I put all my work aside and sat down to read, completing this in two sittings.

Special bonus point for the interesting cover!

REVIEW:

What I expected when I first heard of this book: A short story anthology with more than the average number of stories, all of them somehow about medical field.

What I actually got: An interesting collection of stories that were narrated in first person, by a doctor. The length of the anthology did not matter because the stories were interesting enough.

God Created Them All is the book you would probably read under 'a different kind of book'. So why is it different? This book takes up the onerous task of holding the readers' attention by a collection of first person narratives that should predominantly be around the medical field. And at the outset, it manages to do that. It is not common, for the reader can never distinguish fiction and non-fiction, or identify what might be embellishments to original 'slice of life' tales.

I loved the experience the book provided. In it I saw characters that came alive with the doctor's descriptions, and some that were facsimiles of people I actually have seen in life. This is probably why the story will win with the readers. I found the narrative interesting too, once I could simply shut down my editor brain (years of experience being an editor did provide to be a hindrance but a strong narrative won over, at the end). All the stories touched some chord in my heart, and I could see just why this book was named what it was, and made it all the more interesting. Quite literally, the title 'God Created Them All' is the author's way of saying, no matter how different people are, each life is a unique lesson but follow a predetermined path created out of certain rules and ideas that govern our existence.

So where did this book falter? In the usage of words. And lack of clarity in the sequence of dialogues used. The book could have been so much better had there been another round of editing that would have caught misnomers and misspellings. The editing would have also taken care of the obvious need for demarcation of dialogues in the stories. In short, better punctuation and rephrasing would have made this a completely wholesome read. I had to note that the excellent narrative and realistic stories that detailed people next door, those we could know and see, faltered a bit with the inclusion of some forced jargon and jerky dialogues, almost as if the author was writing out his thoughts and recollections quickly and wanted to convey it all before the narrative sidetracked.

Overall, a book that would hold your attention and keep you glued because in some way each story could be a short film that shows the other side of people's lives - not just as patients, but as to what constitutes their environment. With the right editing, it could have been the perfect book based on stories from the medical fraternity.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The stories were, as promised, real 'slice of life' events.
  • Some rare words peppered the vocabulary and made the story an interesting read for me, personally.
  • The narrative was good, and kept me glued because the author was able to hold my attention with realistic stories.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Some major typos, and misnomers that could have been avoided with a round of editing.
  • Sometimes there is no lucidity in the text because dialogues are given at a run, and it takes a flow to follow the punctuation.
  • A few words were used at places where they did not quite fit, showing the use of a thesaurus.
VERDICT:

A must read - despite what would deter you in the contents. A book that should not be missed.

RATING: 4/5 (Excellent narration - but with errors that could not be ignored)

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE Rs. 208.95 for Kindle, Rs. 275 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Lost Arcanum by Navin Reuben Dawson : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The Lost Arcanum

AUTHOR: Navin Reuben Dawson

ISBN/ASIN: 978-9387328280

GENRE: Fiction / Thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 464

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Arcanum is a lost cache of esoteric wisdom guarded by a prehistoric secret brotherhood that besides holding dangerous information on disciplines ranging from metaphysical science, alchemy, advanced microbiology, anthropology and exhaustive cosmogony had known to contain, amongst many other, mankind's greatest untold truth about his origin. It's the subject of one of history's intriguing mysteries that was lost to time. But now, the hunt to unearth that cache of lost esoteric wisdom has begun once more. On the verge of solving series of gruesome murders, CBI officer, Jake Stevens, is pulled from the investigation. Intrigued, Jake seek answers and eventually stumbles upon a link that connects his long dead father and the murders to a secret - The Lost Arcanum. The link - a meticulously crafted cipher propels Jake through labyrinth of ancient secrets, hidden history and unseen truths scattered across the mysterious landscape of India, drawing him closer to a devastating secret buried since the beginning of time. With an unexpected company of Taneez - a historian, entangled in a treacherous chase with a professional killer and covert organization, Jake find himself on a deadly collision course with forces of vengeance, greed, power and the lost history itself.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

I am a fan of Dan Brown, and of the lead character of his history based thriller series, Robert Langdon. So it was nearly inevitable that the cover and shape of this book would remind me of the famous author and his history series. When the author approached me for a review, the first thing I noted about the summary was a vague similarity to novels I had gotten used to. But then I decided to give it a try because of the setting, which would be India. The summary itself had enough words that could practically be termed the 'keywords' of this genre of books. The cover looked interesting, and once I began reading the book I was long past noticing that.

REVIEW:

It is not very easy to write a review for a thriller book without letting out some kind of spoiler. When we risk that, commenting on the plot elements can quickly become a summary rehash or a spoiler. This can be especially detrimental for a book whose summary does not do complete justice to the brilliance of the story, almost as if it had resorted to the hot and happening keywords to explain the seriousness of the plot. So I am going to form this review around the other elements of the book, especially the narrative and the storyline, without mentioning what was in the book.

The first thing I felt about the book both during and after reading was - it was wonderfully researched and managed to keep the interest of the reader alive. This is such an achievement considering the length and the geographical changes. The story kept me engrossed as and when I picked up the book and it was not that hard to follow. Special mention to the narrative that does not dip or deviate to any places over the course of the lengthy novel.

The writing is kept simple, and there are enough twists, some predictable and some unexpected, that keep the flow going. For a story that mingles many elements independently, including fantasy, history and science (even the elusive alchemy), there is no jargon in the story and it is kept fairly straightforward. The characterisation is another plus. Starting with the lead to all the supporting characters, each has their own defining purpose that makes them indispensable and not in anyway included forcefully.

Filled with sinister subplots and successive thrilling events, the book tries to mingle a bit too many facts and theories into one huge plot that attempts to explore theories of human origin. This might be a downside for some readers who would not be able to remember or keep track of all the elements that have been included as part of the book. But for me, this was a plus as I tried to work out which parts of the story were important and what loose ends were left at the end of the day. I totally loved that the entire length of the book did not deviate to anything less important, providing more and more to think of and process.

As to the language, there were a few typos that were obvious, and though interesting, some parts of the story could have been edited to make the book even better - just because a part was interesting does not mean it was totally relevant to the plot. The book could have done with tighter editing, and the lack of it was felt in some crucial places.

Overall, the summary did not do much justice to the originality of the plot, which made it sound full of stereotypical elements. But the book was thankfully different and could hold its own amidst other similar books of this genre. There were certain parts of the plot that sounded like they had resorted to the stereotype - including a lost secret, delving through history to find it, a sinister murder plot that threatens the lead character and a personal tragic loss that kicks off the entire book. But the brilliance in the writing makes up for this. The book does not give much to take back from the reading, but it is totally worth the ride. For a change, there's a plot based in India, that makes for an interesting read.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book breaks the stereotypes that can be seen in the summary
  • The read is worth it, and the book delivers what it promises.
  • The plot is interesting and has tried to include many different sub-genres successfully
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Before it grabs the reader, the book's first impression is one of being too long. It could benefit from tighter editing.
  • The print edition had a few typographical errors that were probably overlooked.
  • At the outset, the plot description sounds stereotypical. This is not a deal breaker but leads the readers to form their own conclusions before they begin reading.
VERDICT:

One time read - but completely worth it.

RATING: 4/5

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback

PRICE Rs. 310 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Death Logs Out by E.J. Simon : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Death Logs Out

AUTHOR: E.J. Simon

ISBN/ASIN: B07F3YZNDC

GENRE: Fiction / Technothriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 300

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Michael Nicholas Book 3

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Is Alex Nicholas really dead?

Two years since the brutal shooting of Alex Nicholas, a gambling underworld boss in Queens, NYC. But his brother, Michael, a respected CEO, struggles with a secret: his murdered brother has been communicating with him via his laptop using AI. This AI-Alex can foresee dangers in Michael’s path, and appears to be trying to help him – even controlling machinery and electronics via WiFi. Meanwhile, trouble is stirring in the historic capital cities of Rome, Berlin and Paris. Inside the Vatican, Monsignor Kurt Schlegelberger has designs to build his power and prepare for the sudden ascension of the Free Forces Party, a throw-back to the Nazis.

Schlegelberger will stop at nothing, but first he must deal with a new threat: someone appears to know the true story behind a series of murders in the US, committed by clergy to cover their tracks of child abuse within the Church. Alex’s re-appearance puts Schlegelberger’s plans in jeopardy. Dead or alive, the way to finish off Alex for good can only be to get to his close family, namely his brother Michael…

This fast-paced third instalment of E.J. Simon’s Death series will keep readers guessing to the very end.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

Sometimes, some book series is so thrilling that by the time the reader has finished previous books, there is only an insane urge to know more, and read what the author has written next. There is practically no time to read and absorb the summary or wonder if this book would live up to what it promised. The author had managed to create an interesting world (using the term 'create' loosely here, as the book is very much in the here and now, not in some fantasy land) with his first two books and when I picked this one up, I barely skimmed through the summary. I just wanted to delve deeper and know more about what happened next.

REVIEW:

This book is advertised as a standalone, and would work that way. But as always, it is better to have read the previous books for complete enjoyment.

The successive books of a series always have two main requirements - they should have something new to offer for regular readers, and they should not disappoint the hype that is set by the preceding books. These conditions sound simple on paper but are incredibly harder when attempted to weave into a narrative, especially one where the sequences still have to follow real world logic and be thrilling enough to keep the reader guessing and engrossed. That is probably one reason why, though the main characters remain same, techno thrillers do not necessarily attempt to have follow up stories (or those that try to go backward to explain what happened at the beginning.

So it was with some trepidation that I picked this book up - but it did not disappoint me. Instead, I felt this book explained the transition in book 2, Death Logs In, in a much better way, making the actions of the characters have more sense and infuse better logic. I had a few complaints with book 2, especially about the mind makeup of the protagonist which were solidified and then cleared with this book, that is more of a thriller than technical fiction. At the outset, it is logical that the overall 'AI Alex helps a struggling Mike who takes over his responsibilities' premise is the backbone of the story, this can quickly get monotonous. Thankfully, the book does not veer in that direction and instead keeps the reader guessing about what new dangers would present themselves as the story progresses from one challenge to another.

The eternal question of AI, for all its 'humanlike qualities,' still being a machine form that has no conscience or compassion has been addressed wonderfully in this book, amidst all the rapid scenic changes. Revenge and retribution are the core themes that push this book on its plot. I personally liked how it began with the background scenes of Alex's funeral, which was very much needed. Though there were too many theories that could have overcrowded the narrative, thankfully the author brought it all to a nice, clear box where he tied up all the different elements together. This book wins in a weird way. The premise is still the same, the plot's one-liner is similar, but the events are nothing similar, and are portrayed in a manner that clearly makes the reader wonder about some major organisations in the world.

Overall, an interesting read but by the time I was done with it, I just could not overlook how even the best of thrillers had to veer off course a bit to keep the readers engrossed.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The moral dilemmas faced by characters are presented wonderfully
  • The book is fast paced and keeps the reader guessing.
  • Michael's self-realisation is a relatable emotion, that cinched the deal for me. A much needed transition from book 2.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Complaints about the protagonist are not healthy for any novel, and Michael invites a bunch with this book too.
  • The shifting between timelines and cities took some time to get used to.
  • This is not a huge complaint but the book deviates a bit from the main aspect by now - AI is no longer the central theme.
VERDICT:

A fitting book for this series. Interesting page turner.

RATING: 3.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


E. J. Simon is the author of three commercial fiction thrillers, Death Never Sleeps, Death Logs In and Death Logs Out. He has just completed his fourth manuscript, Death in the Cloud.

He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America and the North Carolina Writer’s Network. He holds an M.A. in Corporate & Political Communications from Fairfield University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of South Carolina. He lives with his family in Cary, North Carolina in the United States. For more information, visit his website: www.ejsimon.com.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $2.70 for Kindle, $8.99 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon