84K by Claire North

Money speaks in this depressing, sci-fi world with nothing in the name of human rights or mass petitioning.

Advertisements

Title: 84K

Author: Claire North

Publisher: Orbit

Date of Publication: 24 May 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

84K

 

“This is the daily diet on which Theo Miller is fed:

murder

theft

fraud

burglary

rape”

Bound in never ending plot twists is the story of life being defined by a single number. 84K is a dystopian thriller which revolves around the central character Theo. He is set against the world that surrounds him with its darkness encroaching on him like worms eating up a dead body. Bewildered and terribly shocked by the sudden death of his ex-lover Dani, Theo has his world turned upside down as he begins to question and ponder on the legitimacy of social systems.

This make believe world of his has severe punishment for every crime that is committed. The book goes on to enlist all the crimes and the punishments for each follow. Though a lot of readers will come with the excitement of reading a modern day dystopian novel, however, the writing style of the book can kill a lot of thrills. Constant shuffling between events and juggling of facts leads to an overload of information that is random, fragmented and scattered. It is not until a few chapters that the story catches some pace but that doesn’t do away with the fact that the way it is written is confusing making the book a difficult read. But if one can get past that, then the book has several highs and lows and enough matter to keep readers entertained.

Having to go through the first few pages over and over again to get a hang of what exactly is going on is rather frustrating. Passages are followed by single words mentioned one after another. This is followed by dialogues or other verbal exchanges in this confusing write up. Of the several themes are the important underlying ideas on capitalism that continuously forges its double standards. Class politics abounds in cases where the middle or lower classes are severely punished while the rich get away even after having committed some of the most heinous crimes by just throwing in huge sums of money.

Money speaks in this depressing, sci-fi world with nothing in the name of human rights or mass petitioning. The eye for detail is great as it allows for the creation of an other worldly world that is both interesting and astounding. But for readers familiar with more hard core dystopia this piece may not seem so original. For readers wanting to begin reading sci fi dystopic novels this is a good starter. The writing style is a barrier and multiple attempts may be required to try to grasp the happenings of the novel.

The Historian & The Hunter by Zeenat Mahal

Full of allusive ideas, the pace of the narrative is moderate and smooth. There aren’t too many ups and downs or sudden revelations.

Title: The Historian and The Hunter

Author: Zeenat Mahal

Publisher: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited

Date of Publication: 28 February 2018

Rating: 5/5

historian

‘We are the guardians of Good. We are the Paladins. We are the Majlis-e-Shamsheer, the Secret Council, and we guard the world against monsters.’

 

Lahore. The city of Gardens. The marble cupolas of the Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque add to the night time beauty of the city that was once dear to this dark male figure. Destined to live in exile paying the price of the choice that one man made eons ago, he broods over his fate as the last of the blood line.

Shirin, a hunter is on the trail of a nau-guzzah; a giant since the first child had gone missing. With a swish of her sword she chops its head off and Shirin and pehelwan understand that this is a giant people have not seen in many years and that it fed on children. They pack it up and take it with them.

The gruesome incident leads to a council meeting of various members from different religious and ethnic backgrounds regarding the issue of nau-guzzah graves and the discreet events of animal or child sacrifice caused by rampant giants. Laila and Shirin are the only female duo in this profession and it is delightful to see them working their way out of the mysteries with wit, intelligence and grace. These daring sisters are upfront in their task of catching death red handed.

Laila’s thirst for knowledge combined with Shirin’s thirst for thrills lead to a deadly combination of adventures that make up the rest of the plot of the novel. With an unusual education and upbringing, it is revealed that these sisters are also twins who’ve grown up in a brothel. Despite their differences Laila does share a taste for adventure and Shirin is equally knowledgeable too.

The language of the novel is simple and though it is a full length novel, it is a fitting read for young adults too. Through the bed time stories they hear, they learn of several different places and people, the noble men and warriors of the past and these historical events lead them towards the hidden histories within their own city. The book beautifully carves out the various places and sights in and around Lahore. Like in any other city across the world, Lahore has several haunted sights, spooky rooms and narrow alley ways.

The girls carefully and slowly discover all these places and their significance while learning a lot about themselves, their place and the world on the whole. These discoveries make them mature and shape their growth as individuals. Full of allusive ideas, the pace of the narrative is moderate and smooth. There aren’t too many ups and downs or sudden revelations. One chapter flows into the other with several small climaxes that culminate into the epilogue. There is unity in the narrative and the circularity within the story returns to the battle of bloodlines but this time with a male set of twins: Shameer and Rustam Khan. The book also comes with an index of all the Urdu words that have been used in the story alongside their English meanings.

From the the #1 bestselling romance author of She Loves Me He Loves Me Not, Haveli, The Accidental Fiancee, Twice Upon a Time and The Contract comes yet another enthralling story revolving around two dynamic female protagonists.

Intense, valiant and delectable.

Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal Activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! by Frank C. Chastain

It enlists a list of stories that are actually claims made by others who were not believed by their peers initially and were termed as mad. The stories are chilling and troublesome. Folklore ghost stories on the other hand are lighter and may even contain tints of dark humour. Occult stories like those of Annabelle are very much alive even today.

Title: Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal Activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True!

Author: Frank C Chastain

Publisher: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited

Date of Publication: 9 November 2017

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

Suppose. On a faraway island. A dilapidated house. A gusty wind. A stony way. A dimly lit entrance. You enter alone. Are you really alone?

Frank Chastain’s taste for all things spooky makes him bring out this hair raising book about serial killers and ghosts that is bound to give you the chills. Beginning with a close study of the psychology of the serial killers, Chastain notes that serial killers are concerned with themselves and no one else. They often lie about their feelings and tend to have a disturbed childhood.

While harboring homicidal thoughts is not out of the norm even in a very normally behaved person’s mind, it is the tendency to give these thoughts a course that differentiates average people from serial killers. They are also obsessive narcissists and are cruel to animals in their childhood. This may be due to chemical deficiencies in the brain. With a short introduction the book goes on to index a list of killers in the history of the criminal world. These include the Long Island Killer, the Zodiac Killer, the Child killer Genene Jones, the Boston Strangler, Richard Ramirez, Pogo the Clown and many more. The book is filled with brief accounts of their ghastly acts that is unfathomable to the average person.

It is a dark face of the beastly and cannibalistic instincts of humankind. The book also comes with chapters on Fascinating Facts About Serial Killers and their Famous Last Words which are baffling.

Everybody has grown up listening to ghost stories as a child and while it may seem fascinating, it never fails to scare. People enjoy being scared despite the adrenaline rush. But some people also have strange things happening to them and are afraid to tell others fearing societal taboo. Chastain mentions that what we call ‘ghost’ is in fact the spirit, soul or energy of a dead person. The book enlists a number of stories that are actually claims made by others who were not believed by their peers initially and were termed as mad. The stories are chilling and troublesome. Folklore ghost stories on the other hand are lighter and may even contain tinges of dark humour. Occult stories like those of Annabelle are very much alive even today.

Though certain unexplained mysteries are a point of debate among investigators and ghost busters but they continue to fascinate explorers and readers alike. The book provides a few do’s and don’ts that are good to keep in mind just in case you encounter something supernatural someday. You never know.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

 

Cold Plate Special by Rob Widdicombe

Though subtle at times, the humour is sarcastic and eccentric leaving the reader in splits.

Title: Cold Plate Special

Author: Rob Widdicombe

Publisher: Saltimbanque Books

Date of Publication: 28 July 2017

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

A student’s dreams of entering law school to become a master ‘Zinger’ leaves him a ‘Zingee’ in the middle of psychotic events.

Jarvis wants to be a zinger-lawyer so that he can mince words and hurl them at other culprits who deserve to be grilled. His greatest obsession is to be able to answer back to others. But this tongue tied lad can barely retaliate verbally let alone even think up responses on his feet. Initially, it seems like a baseless reason that may possibly motivate someone to become a lawyer. He also shows murderous instincts. He mentions all those he wants to kill and the various ways of murder that he’s chalked out in his mind already. Ironically, he’s contemplating murder just after being released from rehab. Far from recovering he has visions about how to murder Motorcar. Motorcar, who?

The narrative is highly descriptive and many minute details convey the entire story while maintaining every bit of the suspense. The imagery is filled with gross and drastic descriptions to the extent that at times it gets almost hilarious at how hysterical and expressive the narrator can be. Humour is an integral part of the plot and is used in varying doses. Though subtle at times, the humour is sarcastic and eccentric leaving the reader in splits.

Jarvis wants justice like that of the medieval times where revenge was healthy. The story gets more and more dramatic with each page. It evokes several emotions of horror and shock that strive to maintain the fear factor. The narrator is highly animated. After his boss questions him about his invoices he’s fired for whiling away his time in office. The emotions are drastic and Jarvis can get from strange to excessively weird with his expressions about situations. He notes down almost every single thought that crosses his mind and most of it is exasperation spelt out loud. Then he has a complete nervous meltdown.

The eye for detail makes the narrative more tantalizing as it may seem to be adding excessive information but it only helps build the plot and take it to a whole different level of exhilaration. Being fired from work leads to a series of unforeseen happenings that make up the maddened narrative of the novel. The events lead to an almost psychic downturn which gets represented in his constant desires to kill some others and himself. With funny encounters with his cousin Shred and being beaten up by a bunch of hippies, the story turns wild with never ending twists. All of the craziness and recklessness only reveals a deep hurt in his childhood that he keeps reeling back into. It is the suffering in the hands of a pedophile one summer camp. Jarvis has been through some haunting and pathetic practices; experienced by a brittle mind in “a zone of cosmic confusion” that lead to his derailed thought process. The story brings out the idea that a molestation is an awful experience for a child but they do not have the vocabulary or the understanding of the experience to put it into proper explainable words. The innocence within the child’s mind cannot process the event but can feel its grave nature. Yet, he can do little to have justice. He fumes on the inside and grows worse. He fails to catch his molester’s real name. The story brings out the message that after an abusive episode it is too difficult to get back to normal and act as though nothing ever happened. Forgiving isn’t an option and revenge seems the only legitimate thing to ask for.

The novel gets denser as several turns lead to newer unexpected events with Jarvis barely realising how much he gets caught down in his own depressive sorrows. What is worth noting is that male child abuse is still not understood by the majority to the extent that many may not even know of its existence. Most of his friends can sympathise with him but only few can empathise. His rehab does not help much either.

So is a face to face confrontation with his perpetrator the only way out of his personal mess?

Despite the constant doses of coffee taken by Jarvis, the novel does not require any caffeine to keep readers wide awake throughout the fast paced narrative. This thrilling book must be read ear to ear and will entangle readers in its web of eventful episodes making it difficult to be put down till the last page. Widdicombe is off to a promising start in this debut novel. However, the offbeats mentions about the Illuminati and the status of Jarvis’ relationship with Carly remain unclear till the end raising a lot of questions unanswered.

Psychic, dark comic thriller fluctuating between walking and running in a farrago of startling trials within a backdrop of a haunting coffee ‘beige.’

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

The Crazy in Babylon by Darrin J Friedman

This chiaroscuro is the very spirit of the novel. It delves in the darkness of the world and human nature in which the rules of the game change upon shifts of fortune. At all times it is both a monetary and a mind game.

Title: The Crazy in Babylon

Author: Darrin J Friedman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 11 July 2017

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4/5

babylon
A top notch money broker battles depression as he tries to overcome the humiliation of a terminated work contract and an untimely divorce.

Being the best is always not easy. It comes at a price of self- sacrifice, determination, steadfastness and most importantly a steady temperament. Yale graduate Dan is well aware of the demanding nature of his work but his bipolarity will not allow him to focus through the very basic of daily activities. With events, both in his professional and personal life moving out of his favour, it is a rough ride as Dan struggles to make ends meet and regain his lost vigour.

Darrin J Friedman creates a fast paced thriller that will leave the readers asking for more. The story revolves around Dan’s personal and professional failures only to reveal the hidden darker realities of the brokerage industry. Sooner or later the incidents hint at realms of global political scenarios. With the constant intrusion of the CIA on the one hand and the underworld mafia on the other hand, Dan is in for a surprising set of mishaps that are far from putting his life together. He gets reappointed into his previous workplace on the basis of his ingenuity and diligence. Is it a sudden realisation on the part of his boss or are there more names at stake?
Becca is the biggest surprise, both to Dan and the readers. Initially she may appear to be a stupid and selfish person but Friedman instils in her the attributes of a strong lead female protagonist. Though the story revolves around Dan, it is Becca who shows great moral strength, courage and clear insights. Things take a toll as he is sent on a secret mission by the largest stake holder of the firm. A murky Bess sends along her granddaughter Becca for accompaniment as the duo move from posh locations and grand hotels, oodles of cash at their disposal and American military spying equipment. Underneath the glitz and glamour of elitism are the not so subtle hints of panopticism, surveillance, cyber-attacks, artificial intelligence, the banes of military nuclear weaponry and the difficulties of choice that harsh situations provide. With a clarity of thought, Friedman is straight forward in expressing his ideas. What is remarkable is the unbiased and open minded positions he is able to take in wheeling the entire narrative to a positive end despite dramatic and heart breaking downfalls. The scenery is not elaborated in detail except for mere mention of geographical locations such as Vegas or Washington DC. This enhances the focus on the characters and their personal histories.
Most characters are round and each is drawn distinctly from the others. They evolve as the story progresses to reveal the psychological reasons behind their behavior that is eventually shaped by their experiences. This chiaroscuro is the very spirit of the novel. It delves in the darkness of the world and human nature in which the rules of the game change upon shifts of fortune. At all times it is both a monetary and a mind game.
However, most of the characters recurrently use curse words in place of meaningful English language adjectives which after the first third may be a bit unsettling. Yet Friedman never misses to highlight the inherent goodness present in people who are hardened by the world. The plot is highly episodic and non- linear. Reminiscences glide from the present to flashbacks of the past and pining for a better future.
Dialogues are crisp and conversational. The second half of the novel races through events at a break neck speed as more characters and drastic defeats add to the climactic asphyxiations. Emotions run riot as Dan and his ex-wife feel estranged; Dan’s own drug regulated existence and Becca’s vengeful attitude caused by childhood molestation after the death of her mother. The power of a woman to woman relationship is at the heart of the novel.
It is the femme fatale Becca who brings a resolution by balancing passion and profession in a truly superhuman way. Above all, it does away with the notion of mental illness as a barrier to performing well in life. The author’s note at the end of the book is a judicious inclusion. With some added cadence and detailing of plot, the novel can be readily materialised into a major motion picture. Friedman reveals with sensitivity the bad things that happen to good people but with patience and perseverance a suitable end can be accomplished.

Informative, racy and an unpredictably jolted ride that fascinates the imagination.