Book review: Forsaken

Book review: Forsaken

Who in their right mind would reach out for a horror novel when they already know that they are not sleeping well at night? Who chases witches when they are being haunted by demons in their own nightmares? No one, except yours truly I suppose. But again how does one let go off a chance to read about the witches and their crafts, and probably have a bit of nightmare contributed by them as well? So how did Forsaken by J D Barker fare on the scare scale? Read more to find out.

Name: Forsaken
Author: J D Barker
Genre: Fiction Paranormal
Characters: Thad, Rachael, Ashely McAlister, Clayton Stone, Christina

The story revolves around the McAlistair family – Thad a bestselling writer, Rachael his pregnant wife and their daughter Ashley, and a deal that was made years with the Forsaken by one of them unwittingly. Though Thad’s first novel failed to hit the roof, his second and third novels shoot him up to the stars. He barely questions it, even when he understands subconsciously something was amiss.

Rachael takes pride in her loving husband, adores her daughter Ashley and expects her second with equal zest. She has not quite forgotten the rough start they had and that her husband had cheated her once. When the Forsaken wants to take back what was promised to Her, they have to deal with it in their own respective way, separately. Do they give in to their weaknesses or they put their family first, forms the present day storyline?

The story that Thad writes set in the 17th century, rather a parallel universe, narrates about the life of the witch and how She ends up hunted. We are taken to the magical world where time is subjective and manipulatable by Her. Physical appearances are mere disguises and often deceptive. The narrator and the reader oscillate between the sides – the young girl whom the narrator is attracted to or the witch who haunts people. She much like the folktales forces people to sign their souls off with the blood. Who is real and where does the fiction stop and reality begin?

The novel alternates between different point of views and time-lines, which works pretty well. The pace of narration is consistent and doesn’t slacken a bit. The storyline might seem familiar and the climax quite a bit overused, but the real strength of the novel is the vivid description of the scenario and the terror that engulfs the McAlistair family. The author makes it look like we are watching a movie, a scary one at that. Realising the story uses a famous character from Stephen King‘s novel creates a thrill that only a fan would understand.

elgeewrites Book review: Forsaken forsakenI am no scaredy cat in general, and the nightmares are something I have to accept as a part of the life of a horror addict. But just as I started reading Forsaken by J D Barker, I realised it was going to be much harder because it involves a pregnant woman and it somehow made me queasy. Thankfully, the writer did not take us down that road.

Despite all these strengths, I took a day more than usual to finish. Why? I couldn’t get to understand the characters, much less like them. I would have liked to have known the characters better and deeper, I felt they were pretty one dimensional. There was just a small part (less than a chapter) to explain the witch’s effect on the young girl, which could have been a tad longer and stronger. It might just be me, but I couldn’t help imagining ‘the minions’ from the ‘Despicable’ movies instead of the creepy, evil witch worshipers. My bad but I just could not.

For someone who is eagerly awaiting the release of the movie ‘IT’ and is gathering her wits to read the book, Forsaken acted as the right place to start. With an obvious and expected influence from Stephen King, Barker could be an author I might have to watch out. If you wanna read quick, fast, creepy thriller, I recommend Forsaken by J D Barker.

What are your nightmares about? Do books help you have more of those vivid dreams? Have you tried to stop reading such books? No I have not. Let us talk more.

Book Review: Optimal Exposure

Book Review: Optimal Exposure

elgeewrites Book Review: Optimal Exposure opt

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”― Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

If my last book had taken me to Afghanistan, the war-torn country with rich culture and diversity, Optimal Exposureelgeewrites Book Review: Optimal Exposure ir?t=elgeereviews 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01MF9AJLR took me to Israel and then back to India with a classic detective/whodunnit story. Most of us heard about Kumbh Mela and the related news about its participants who run into millions. What happens when an elderly photographer is found dead amidst the crowd? What and who would help him out, if at all? Sounds intriguing? Then Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel is the book for you.

Book Name: Optimal Exposureelgeewrites Book Review: Optimal Exposure ir?t=elgeereviews 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B01MF9AJLR
Author: Dan Rogel
Genre: Fiction Thriller
Characters: Boaz and Ephraim Lavie, Superintendent Shemesh, Inspector Hagit Butler
Setting: Israel, India
Disclaimer: Thanks to the B00k R3vi3ws for the free copy of the book.
The story begins with Boaz Lavie completing his seven day mourning period following the death of his father Ephraim, a photographer who was brought dead from India where he had been on a photography trip. The case attracts the attention of Superintendent Shemesh and Inspector Hagit Butler, as they realize this was the second time a fellow photographer was carried home dead by the same group following such an expedition and they start to dig into the cases, inspired by Boaz’s interest. In both cases the local authorities, namely Indians and Brazilians, had given a clean chit to the deaths and cause were as heart attack declared by their doctors. 

Boaz was quite close to his father and he cannot fathom the circumstances leading to his death, until he starts digging into his computer and his universe of photography. He understands the financial benefit that people could gain out of these photography contests and that his father had dealt with a few minor rifts with the the contest results, just before he left to the expedition to Kumbmela, India. Who, why and how they murdered the photographers forms the part the rest of the story.
It had been so long that I read about Jews and their customs and this story set in Israel was a welcome change. And added to that the party visits India, my place of birth making it doubly pleasurable to read and understand how things work with authorities here. Kudos to the author for keeping the photographic jargon pretty simple to layman, yet the descriptive language and the writing style was a little hard to get used to. The murders and their modi operandi were interesting, and I could not guess the murderers until the very end. I found the narration part of Hagit very annoying and her desire to please her partner Shemesh seemed too filmy for my taste. The last chapter which was supposed to be the one that solves the ‘whodunnit’ was too long and one could even get away reading it instead of the entire novel. 
Looking for a book that takes you across countries on a murder chase? Go grab Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel.
Book review: Forsaken

Book review: The Sentimental Terrorist

If I had to list out the top ten of my most favorite books, at least two would be about Afghanistan. Given their rich and diverse culture and complex history, it has always been a pleasure reading about the country. So when I got the review request for The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan, I grabbed the offer without any second thought. Read on more to know how  The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan stands in comparison to my other favourites from the same land.

Book Name:  The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan
Author: Rajesh Talwar
Genre: Fiction – Drama
Characters: Mohsin, James Stewarrt, Mumtaz, Pierre, Amala.
Setting: Afghanistan
Disclaimer: Thanks to The Tales Pensieve for the free copy of the book.

The story revolves around four main characters – Mohsin, a rational social worker turned terrorist, Mumtaz, Mohsin’s love interest and aid worker, James Stewart a British consultant and Amala, a Bangladeshi aid worker. When Mohsin’s family is destroyed by the American army, he is looped into the Jihadi movement, albeit reluctantly. He tries to quench his need to avenge the death of his family with his faith, and his rationale is repeatedly tested. Losing Mumtaz to Pierre, another superior from DRAC doesn’t help matters.Mumtaz, though in love with Mohsin, marries Pierre so that she could help her domestically abused mother to get off from the clutches of her stepfather and the patriarchal society. We follow through her life, understanding how she copes with her very French and disappointed mother in law and if she gets to meet her ex again.

Amala, an economic scholar who is friends with James and K-Jim, works in dangerous areas to provide for her family and relatives back in Bangladesh. She is torn about accepting James’ proposal for the same reason. James has tried everything at his hand to make her accept his proposal and is worried about his competitor K Jim, who is the target of Mohsin’s attack.

The story spins around the fateful night that the attackers target the Iftar guesthouse at Kabul. While Mohsin gets ready to carry out his attack, Mumtaz comes down to Kabul once again to pick her mother and incidentally she and the other characters stay at the very place Mohsin is supposed to attack. Did Mohsin and Mumtaz meet again? Did he avenge the death of his village and whom did Amala end up choosing to marry? The last part of the novel answers these questions and more.

I loved the smaller quirkier characters like Meena, the quintessential Afghan sister who hated the imposing Taliban and was forever searching for a beautiful bride for his brother. Or Delphine, Mumtaz’s mother in law, who turned from a dissatisfied mother in law to a friend who could confide in her daughter in law.

The sentimental TerroristI love reading about the Taliban and their rigid society set up in their war-torn country. Though there is very less about them in the book, their teachings and their ‘rationale’ to aid people to understand the need for their ideas, have never stopped amusing me. I, like Mohsin, could not help but try to reason it out yet fail miserably. Personal rantings aside, I liked the way that the author had handled the reasonings of the Mullah and thereby Taliban for every one of their teaching.

Though the book is a tad bit lengthy and the plot line predictable, the author held my attention with tales from the culture rich Afghan. The author did not dwell much about the history of Afghan and made up for it with the down to earth stories from the Taliban’s Afghan. The characters were likeable and their actions believable, but I felt there could have been more to characters other than Mohsin.

If you want to have a quick and easy dig into the Afghan tales, grab The Sentimental Terrorist: A Novel of Afghanistan up right away!

Book Review: The Boy is Back

Book Review: The Boy is Back

elgeewrites Book Review: The Boy is Back Boy%2Bis%2BBack%2BpbMost of us have that one person to whom we have to share every minute detail of the daily life. We spend up dishing about everyone else in each other’s lives. Thanks to the new age technologies, we can do a LIVE relay of anything that happens. It includes any shopping decisions and dating disasters. Sometimes it is more than one person, as in my case. Hence there are group chats. Okay, spare me the lecture about gossiping, because this ain’t. Sometimes there are WhatsApp texts with screenshot and images, other times there is the chatty rant out through audio message a rarer case. But if any of us is trying to reach us through the old fashion phone call way, then it is way too big for texts to handle. And if you are at a place where there is no mobile signal, there is good old email conversation. If you can spin your head around these scenarios, then you would love the new book in the block, because the entire storyline of The Boy is Back has been set on a narration based on email, texts and group texts, journal entries and even reviews.
Book Name: The Boy Is Back (Boy #4)

Author: Meg Cabot
Genre: Fiction Romance
Characters: Rebecca, Nicole Flowers, Reed, Marshall, Carly and Trimble Stewart, their parents Judge Richard P. and Connie Stewart.

Setting: IndianaThe USA


Disclaimer: Thanks to Edelweiss for the Advance Review Copy of the book.

The story revolves around Rebecca Flowers, President of Movingup! Senior Moving Consultant and Reed Stewart, a pro golfer set at Bloomville, Indiana. The duo part after a prom date gone awry, one that involves EMTs, cops and a judge, none other than the father of Reed, Judge Richard P. Stewart, who cuts him off from the family. But when the Judge Richard and his wife Connie have their senile moments and others are confused how to handle them or their wrath, they engage Becky, with much opposition from their family moments. What happens when the star-struck lovers meet as adults and each having their partners from the rest of the story.

To be fair this is a chick lit and the story is not really too difficult to predict, but the premise is new, about a senior moving consultant and her occupation. As it goes with the premise, there are several other characters and their relationship tangles which make the typical love story more interesting. I loved the chemistry between Carly and Marshall Stewart, elder brother of Reed and the constant marital banter between them. As always, I loved the smaller quirky characters than the main protagonists.

The length and pace of the entire story are steady and apt for the storyline; I was able to finish the 400 pages in lesser than 3 hours. The only issue some might find with the book is the narrative style, as few might not like the entire story through only digital communications, devoid of any actual conversations between any of the characters. While I liked the group chats between Reed, Marshall and Carly and even between Becky and Nicole, it became quite tiresome to read a whole lot of them. It was exasperating to see the couple type to each other when they were physically near each other after a few times, even when that has become quite common these days in even in my life. Again the reviews were cutesy while the journal entries were too much to handle.

The boy is back is the fourth book in the Boy series. The story does continue from the events that happened ten years ago, and it works well as a stand alone even when I haven’t read the series earlier. Catch this funny, light and breezy chick lit if you like the Princess Dairies from the same author and would be perfect travel companion if you read this genre.
Book review: Forsaken

Book Review: Metro Diaries – 2

If you have been in the webs of the internet for a while, then you should be struck by the writer bug like many of us have. There you go I said what I desperately try not to get attached to ‘writer’ tag. I write (type) a wee bit, and surely not what I could tag on as a writer. But then there a few among us, who know to do it and continue doing it. Give it up to Namrata or Privy Trifles, who has been doing this for a long time now and has a collection or two of short stories published to her name, newest being Metro Diaries – 2.

You know what is better than a short story? A collection of short stories. Now I have never had an anthology reviewed earlier, though I like reading short stories. So when I received the book for review, I was hesitant to write my review even after a long while after I finished it. And now that DDS is holding her knives above my head here goes my review. Apologies DDS!

The anthology has 20 tales taken from our daily life, of commoners that we come across in our routine days woven with such intricate emotions that you would complete reading the whole book in a night’s time. There is no set theme for the stories and it has stories from all walks of life. For instance, Magpie of Memories narrates the woeful tale of a trans-gender while it leaves you smiling at the consequences of small misunderstandings with the Stain of Love


Metro Diaries - 2The characters are from the extremes and would leave you wondering if they were aimed to be so. While Charlattan talking about a wife’s stand on her husband’s lecherous way, you have The Cursed Existence to talk about the disparity against females and honour killing.

I loved the way the way the stories are  arranged that takes you through mixed emotions back and forth. I liked the tone in which all the stories were set, though there were places better editing could have helped. Grab the book if you want to have a quick read.