15 May, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: Read an #Excerpt from Scepters of Empyrea



*** Special Feature - May 2019 ***

About the Book:
Empyrea, an island in the Andromeda galaxy belonging to planet Vathura is serene. Everywhere your eyes turn, you will feast on the lovely birds singing their heart out in the lush green vegetation. Osiris Mysterio ruled the regions of Empyrea with his brother Tyrant Seth and with their children Pitheceus Babi, Kraity Wadjet, and Horus Mysterio.

5000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians were the only humans to receive the invitation to enter Empyrea. They gladly on-boarded into a Pegasus chariot and took their journey to Empyrea. Their journey is indescribable. Empyrea by itself was like a fairy-tale garden, an ocean of flowers and exotic trees.

As the Egyptians went further inside Empyrea, they saw its netherworld. They had mixed feelings when they saw the triangle shaped tombs and the bizarre headhunting people. Empyrea also had the blood-curdling creatures like the deadly dinosaurs, gigantic snakes, furious apes, ruthless rhino’s, massive mastodons and many other creepy creatures. This showed the power of the Empyrean Army and that no other army could survive their wrath.

The Emperor Osiris and the kings ruled Empyrea with powerful Scepters. With those powers, they were not only considered as kings but also worshipped as Lords. The Lords with the help of their scepter had the crucial power to transform themselves into giant creatures.

Egyptians while departing from Empyrea was gifted with a shortcut portal to earth and also with some people and creatures of Empyrea to build the Empramids in Egypt. Overwhelmed with happiness they took the shortcut door and returned to Egypt.

However, the happiness was short-lived in Empyrea. The Empire of Empyrea was betrayed for ruling earth avariciously. Somehow the Emperor of Empyrea locked the shortcut portal and asked the Egyptians to safeguard it. The Egyptians, on the other hand, failed to safeguard the portal. And some gangsters accidentally opened the shortcut door in 2017 A.D, entered Empyrea, and inadvertently got access to the Lord scepters.

So, now the Earthians were left with no choice but to battle against the merciless predators and headhunting people in their heroic journey. Their ultimate fate lied in an empire beyond imagination. They would take their stand against the powerful lords, who brutally led their people to war against planet Earth.

Did the gangsters protect the earth from danger, or left the other world to accomplish their tyrant rule on Earth? Explore the world of Empyrea to unravel the truth behind this mystery.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

The streets are lit red and green, the trees are decorated with bells and stars. The city is echoing with songs and frolic. Stars are hanging on the porch of every building and glistening with lights. Shops are crowded with people busy buying gifts. An aromatic smell of baked cake pervaded the air. It’s undoubtedly the Week of Christmas. 

It’s a beautiful night to enjoy with friends and family. Everyone happily enjoys their Christmas week with their loved ones. Every kid is delighted shopping with their parents. But the 5year old girl in flat 13b is shivering in fear. She is hiding under the piano in the storeroom to protect herself from the bizarre man who is searching for her upstairs.

The man looked like a giant, 6.2 feet tall and his eyes were a raging red desperate to find the girl. He was muscular with a slight tan and a scary mustache. He was wearing a long dirty coat covered with bloodstains. The blood on his coat seemed fresh. He was calling out the girl’s name… Sylvia.. Sylvia.. Where are you? You can’t escape from me. I am going to get you, Sylvia. It’s not very difficult you know… Come on out now Sylvia…

At this very minute, the girl was shivering in fear more because of the growling sounds coming from the graveyard next door. Sylvia was overwhelmed with foreboding. At one end, a bizarre man was searching for her and on the other, these eerie sounds were coming from the graveyard. And on top of that, she was getting uncomfortable in the storeroom which was infested by rats. The rats were scampering everywhere in the storeroom, each rat was pudgy, and the room looked disgusting.
Sylvia could hear the sound of boots echoing which grew louder and louder every passing second. She knows he is coming to the storeroom for her. She inhaled a deep breath afraid to breathe when the man opened the storeroom door, but he instantly shut it because of the stench and went back towards the living room. She chuckled but suddenly heard the fast playing sound of the piano and that’s where she was hiding under. She flinched and jumped out from the bottom. When she looked at the piano, there was no one there; she felt her heart hammering because she was the only person inside the storeroom. Her own sweat glistened in the streak of light streaming through the window. 
Suddenly a wave crashed against her window, she spun around in fright!! Her eyes were locked onto a silhouette of a strange bird sitting on a nearby tree in the full moon night, without any warning it rotated its head and flew towards her with its dark brown unblinking large eyes, she fell and crawled back in fear, the bird twisted before the window and went eastwards, that's a mature owl. When she got up slowly, she caught sight of her reflection in the old cobwebbed mirror. A growing sense of uneasiness swept across her and when she looked intently her face filled with horror.

She was trying to assess the situation reasonably and for the piano playing assumed it would have to be the rat which could have jumped on the piano and ran on it. 

The man heard the sound of the piano too and ran back two steps at a time towards the storeroom. 

The girl knew the man would return, but she didn’t know where to hide. 

Check out the book to know how the little one escaped from the bizarre man.


About the Author:



Vignesh Ravichandran is the author of the book Scepters Of Empyrea: A Journey to the Andromeda Galaxy. He  did his Masters in Business Administration from a leading Business School and  presently working as a Human Resource professional in a leading software organization in Chennai. He wrote this debut novel with the story line which he experienced in his nightmare 7 years ago.




Contact the Author:

Giveaway:

- One Paperback Copy of Scepters of Empyrea for Indian Resident
- One Kindle Copy of Scepters of Empyrea for International Resident

11 May, 2019

#Spotlight :: A Deceptive Match by Kelli A. Wilkins

Summer Romance Rewind… A Deceptive Match
By Kelli A. Wilkins


Hi everyone,

Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner, so today I’m sharing a look at my sizzling summer romance, A Deceptive Match.

A Deceptive Match is a contemporary romance novel set in the world of professional wrestling. Wrestling has always been a part of my life, so it was only natural that one day I’d write a book with wrestling as the backdrop. But this book is different from all of my other books because the entire story came to me in a rather unusual way—in a dream.

One morning I woke up and said “Uh-oh!” and grabbed the pen and paper next to the bed. (I keep it there in case of inspiration.) I knew that if I didn’t immediately start writing down everything in my head, it would be lost forever. So I sat there, furiously scribbling the outline. At this point, it was just the bare bones of the plot and the characters, but I knew I was onto something.

Over the course of the day, more bits and pieces came through. Now I had a subplot, secondary characters, and knew more about what was happening in this wrestling romance that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I was fortunate enough to actually “see” the book in my head like a movie—some scenes were missing, but I had a clear picture to work from.

People who have read the book and know about my love of wrestling always ask me the same questions: Which wrestlers are the characters based on? How do you know all this stuff? How much of it is real?

It’s easier to answer the second question first. Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to be on friendly terms with a bunch of wrestlers. My husband and I would go to matches and hang out with the guys after the shows. (No, I wasn’t a ring rat.) I picked up a lot of terms and got a real feel for what they did and how they experienced life on the road.

At the time, the thought of being a writer never even crossed my mind, so I had no idea that one day I’d use what I learned in a book. When I got the idea for A Deceptive Match, I was able to incorporate much of what I knew into the plot through Danni’s point of view.

The male characters in the book (Vinnie, Ev, Thorn, and Nick) aren’t based on any one wrestler or any real person. I specifically made sure that Vinnie and the others aren’t linked to real wrestlers, because it would take away from the story. Like characters in any book, I invented whatever quirks, flaws, and backstory I needed to help move the plot along.

And how much of it is real? Well, anyone who knows anything about wrestling can tell you that it’s technically termed “sports entertainment” for a reason. But that doesn’t discredit all the training, hard work, and other sacrifices the wrestlers go through every day. A Deceptive Match touches on the subject of what’s “real” and what goes on behind the scenes that most fans are unaware of. 

Here’s the book summary and a mini-steamy excerpt:

Falling for the wrestler she had been assigned to interview wasn’t part of Danni’s plan, until Vinnie Valentine pinned her heart in a flash. 

Disgruntled with her job as the office assistant for a national sports magazine, Danni Stone impersonates a reporter to prove herself to her boss. Her assignment? Spend thirty days on the road with Vinnie Valentine, a sexy professional wrestler.

Life isn’t going well for the Heavyweight Champ. Vinnie is struggling with a manipulative boss, prepping for the most important match of his career, and feuding with his arch-enemy, Thorn. The last thing he needs is a nosy reporter following him around—even if she is hot.

Thrown together in close quarters, Danni can’t help falling for Vinnie, and she unwittingly becomes a key player in his title match. Their mutual attraction grows, and late one night, they give in to the lustful feelings they’ve been fighting.

As their relationship deepens, Danni considers telling Vinnie her secret. But before she can confess the truth, Vinnie discovers she isn’t the reporter she claims to be. Her lie threatens to ruin everything between them. Will their relationship be destroyed by her deception or will their love win out?


Excerpt:

Danni hurried down the hall to the locker room. She hadn’t meant to be late picking up Vin tonight, but the moron lot attendant wouldn’t let her back into the parking area. She pushed open the locker room door and rushed inside. “Vin, I’m sorry I—”

Her tote bag slipped through her fingers and dropped to the floor. Vin stood less than three feet away, soaking wet. A white towel barely covered his waist.

“Oh, my God!” Her entire body flushed as a tingling sensation built deep in her belly. Vin was practically naked and dripping wet from the shower.

“I…um…you’re…I…oh God,” she muttered and whirled around. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

Vin’s warm hand settled on her shoulder. He gently turned her to face him. Beads of water dripped down his chest, and she longed to lick them away. “Um…you…you’re wet.” She glanced at the towel and prayed it would fall off his waist.

“And you’re not?”

She squealed as Vin drew her to his chest. His mouth covered hers, and she lost all sense of reason.

A wet heat built between her legs as Vin’s tongue entered her mouth. She clutched him tight and dug her fingers into the solid flesh of his back and ribs. He smelled like soap and water and yet there was a hint of something manly, musky about him.

Vin moaned and cupped her buttocks through her sundress, melding her body against his. A high-pitched mewing sound escaped her throat as a long-denied lust flared within her. Was this really happening? She’d had this fantasy for so many nights, would she wake up and discover it was only another erotic dream?

Order A Deceptive Match here:
Amazon * All Other platforms


I enjoyed creating the characters in this wrestling universe, and as I was writing, I fell in love with Everett, Vinnie’s best friend. I knew I had to tell Ev’s story and give him his own book, so I wrote A Secret Match. That book is all about Everett, but Danni and Vinnie play supporting roles in the storyline. Although the books are connected, they each stand alone as individual reads. 

I hope romance fans and wrestling fans alike will check out A Deceptive Match and A Secret Match. They’re a good blend of action, drama, romance, humor, and spicy love scenes. 

Happy Reading!
Kelli A. Wilkins

About the Author:
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 5 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories. 
Her historical romance, Dangerous Indenture, was released in March 2019. This full-length novel is set in Pennsylvania Colony and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.

She published the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence. 

Kelli released her latest Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable in 2018. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.
If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her novella, Nightmare in the North.
Not just an author, Kelli is also an amateur photographer. Visit her pages on Shutterstock and iStock to view her photos.
Kelli posts on her Facebook Author Page and Twitter
Visit her NEW Website and Blog to learn more about all of her writings.


09 May, 2019

#BlogTour :: Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg

Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg Banner

Swann's Down

by Charles Salzberg

on Tour May 1 - June 30, 2019

Synopsis:

Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg
When Henry Swann is asked by his quirky partner, Goldblatt, to find a missing psychic who's swindled his ex-wife out of a small fortune, he just can't say no. Although he doesn't actually expect to get paid, he figures it might give him a chance to finally learn more about his partner's mysterious past. His search takes him into the controversial, arcane world of psychics, fortune tellers, and charlatans, while raising questions in his own mind about whether or not there is an after-life.

While working his partner's case, he's approached by a former employer, attorney Paul Rudder, to track down a missing witness who might be able to provide an alibi for his client, Nicky Diamond, a notorious mob hitman who's scheduled to go on trial for murder he claims he didn't commit in a week. Swann's search for the missing witness, who happens to be the defendant's girlfriend, takes him from Brooklyn to a small beach town across the Bay from Mobile, Ala. But what does she really know and will she even come back with him to testify for her boyfriend?

Praise for Swann's Down:

"Psychics, double-crosses, missing persons--Charles Salzberg's latest Henry Swann book has it all. Swann's Down is a gritty, no-frills PI novel that brings to mind greats like Reed Farrel Coleman's Moe Prager and Michael Harvey's Michael Kelly. Whether this is your first Swann adventure or the latest, you won't want to miss the brass-knuckle punch that is Swann's Down. Trust me."
~ Alex Segura, author of Blackout and Dangerous Ends



"From Manhattan to Coney Island to the steamy shores of Alabama, Charles Salzberg delivers a top-flight mystery with his latest Henry Swann outing. Highly recommended."
~ Tom Straw, New York Times bestselling author as Richard Castle



Swann's Down gives readers two intriguing mysteries for the price of one, as skip tracer Henry Swann pursues a woman who might alibi a murderer and a psychic who swindled the ex-wife of Swann's partner. Shamus Award-nominated Salzberg does a superb job cutting between the two investigations. I kept turning pages to stay with both chases as the suspense increased to the very end. Whatever is going on, Swann is at the center of this story. His wry wit, quotes from authors and philosophers, genius for questioning suspects, and dark past make him a character readers will follow anywhere as he seeks his quarry. This is another thrilling addition to this excellent series.
~ Rich Zahradnik, Lights Out Summer, winner of the 2018 Shamus Award for Best Paperback Private Eye Novel



Henry Swann dives in where others fear to tread in Swann's Down: Fast. Funny. And Smart. This time out, Swann crosses paths with a psycho hitman, a phony psychic and Swann's mysterious partner, a disbarred lawyer. Who could ask for more? I hope we'll see a lot more of Swann in the future and that this isn't Swann's swan song.
~ Paul D. Marks, Shamus Award-winning Author of White Heat and Broken Windows.


Book Details:

Genre: Detective/Noir/Mystery
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 978-1-64396011-1
Series:Henry Swann
Purchase Links: Amazon | BN.com | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

1
The Age of Aquarius

"We're partners, right?"
Nothing good can come from that question when it comes from the mouth of Goldblatt.
"I mean, all for one and one for all, am I right?" he quickly added in an attempt, I was sure, to seal the deal.
"I think you're confusing us with the three musketeers. May I point out there are only two of us, and I'm afraid that's not the only fallacy in your declaration. But you might as well finish what you've started."
We were having our weekly Friday lunchtime sit-down to discuss what Goldblatt likes to refer to as "business." I have another name for it: waste of time.
Our venue changes from week to week but the concept is always pretty much the same: a cheap diner-slash-coffee shop somewhere on the island of Manhattan. Today's eatery of choice (Goldblatt's choice, my destiny) is the Utopia Diner, on Amsterdam, near 72nd Street. And as for the business we'd just finished discussing, well, to be honest, there never is very much actual business to discuss and today was no exception.
At this particular moment in time, we were going through a bit of a dry spell, which always makes me a little nervous because no matter how much I banish it from my mind, the rent is due the first of every month and at least three times a day I seem to develop a hunger that must be quenched. Still, a good fifteen, twenty years away from Social Security, and with precious little dough in the bank--okay, let's be honest, no dough in the bank--and no 401-K to fall back on, I need to keep working. And, as much as I don't like to admit it, lately it's been my "partner," as he likes to refer to himself, as opposed to my preferred albatross, who's brought in the bulk of our clients.
We'd already finished eating--though technically, Goldblatt never actually finishes eating which means a meal can easily turn into an all-day affair, if I don't apply the brakes--and we were just waiting for the check to arrive. This is a crucial point of any meal with Goldblatt because it is the opening gambit in what has become our weekly routine of watching the check sit there in no-man's land somewhere between us until I inevitably give in, pick it up, and pay. Otherwise, I risk one of two things: either we'd be there all afternoon or, worst case scenario, Goldblatt will decide he's still hungry and threaten to order something else. Neither one of these options is the least bit appealing.
"I'll get right to the point," he said.
Just then, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the waiter, like a white knight, approaching with our check in hand. If I acted quick enough I might be able to get out of there before I can be sucked into something I don't want to have anything to do with.
"That would be nice," I said, reaching for my wallet. "What is your point?"
"I need to hire you."
I was stopped in my tracks before I got my wallet halfway out of my back pocket.
"Really? To do what?"
"I want you to find someone for me. Well, to be more precise it's not really for me. It's for my ex-wife."
Wait a minute! Goldblatt married? Goldblatt with a wife? Goldblatt a husband? This was a new one on me, something I'd never even considered.
"You…you've been married?" I stammered.
Truth is, I never pictured Goldblatt being in any relationship other than with, yes, as irritating as it might be, me. I mean the guy isn't exactly anyone's idea of Don Juan, although I suppose in theory there are women who might find him if not attractive in the conventional way at least interesting in a specimen-under-glass way. Or maybe as a project. Women love a project. They love a challenge. They love the idea that they have the opportunity to remake a man in their image. Maybe that was it. But whatever it was, my world was shaken to the core. And what would shake it even more would be to find that he was actually a father, too. But one shock per meal is more than enough, so there was no chance I was going to pursue that line of questioning.
"Unfortunately, the answer is yes. More than once, in fact."
"Holy Cow," I blurted out, channeling the Scooter. "You're kidding me?"
At this point the same bald, squat waiter who seems to serve us in every diner we patronize, reached our table and dropped the check right in front of me.
"This is not something a man usually kids about."
"How many times?"
He held up three fingers.
"Three times! You've been married three times?"
"Yeah."
I gulped.
"Are you married now?"
He shook his head. "Nah. I'm kinda between wives. Giving it a rest, if you know what I mean.
But chances are I'll be back in the saddle again soon enough."

"Okay, so let me get this straight. You've been married three times and now you're single but you would consider getting married again?"
"Man is not meant to be alone, Swannie. You might consider the possibility that your life would be enriched if you found your soulmate."
You're fortunate if you find one soul mate in life and I'd already had mine. She was yanked from my life as a result of a freak accident, a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn't know if Goldblatt knew the circumstances of her bizarre accidental death, but I wouldn't have been surprised because he seems to know a lot of things he has no business knowing.
"Some men are meant to be alone, Goldblatt. I'm one of them and after three failed marriages maybe you should consider the possibility you are, too."
He smiled and puffed out his chest. "What can I say, Swann? I'm a friggin' babe magnet."
I would have laughed, should have laughed, but I was still processing the scary fact that he'd been married three times. That meant there were three women in the world who not only were willing to marry him but did marry him. I wanted to know more. Much more. Everything, in fact. But this was not the time and certainly not the place to delve into Goldblatt's mysterious, sordid past. Nevertheless, I promised myself I would revisit this topic in the not too distant future.
Still in shock, I avoided our weekly "who's paying for this meal" tango, grabbed the check and reached for my wallet...again.
"So, wanna know the story?" he asked.
"Which story would that be?"
"The story of why I want to hire you?"
"Desperately."
***
Excerpt from Swann's Down by Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2019 by Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Charles Salzberg
Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Redbook, The New York Times Book Review and other periodicals. He has written over 20 non-fiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times. He is author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann's Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann's Lake of Despair, nominated for two Silver Falchions, Swann's Way Out, Devil in the Hole, named one of the best crime novels of the year by Suspense Magazine. He was a Visiting Professor of Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing the New York Writers Workshop where he is a Founding Member. He is a member of the MWA-NY Board.

Catch Up With Charles Salzberg On:
Charlessalzberg.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!




Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!






Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Charles Salzberg. There will be 6 giveaway winners. There will be 1 Grand Prize winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. There will be five (5) 2nd Prize winners of one (1) Print Edition of Swann's Down (U.S. Mailing Addresses only). The giveaway begins on May 1, 2019 and runs through July 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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08 May, 2019

#SpeciaFeature :: #GuestPost - How it started by Vignesh Ravichandran



*** Special Feature - May 2019 ***

About the Book:
Empyrea, an island in the Andromeda galaxy belonging to planet Vathura is serene. Everywhere your eyes turn, you will feast on the lovely birds singing their heart out in the lush green vegetation. Osiris Mysterio ruled the regions of Empyrea with his brother Tyrant Seth and with their children Pitheceus Babi, Kraity Wadjet, and Horus Mysterio.

5000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians were the only humans to receive the invitation to enter Empyrea. They gladly on-boarded into a Pegasus chariot and took their journey to Empyrea. Their journey is indescribable. Empyrea by itself was like a fairy-tale garden, an ocean of flowers and exotic trees.

As the Egyptians went further inside Empyrea, they saw its netherworld. They had mixed feelings when they saw the triangle shaped tombs and the bizarre headhunting people. Empyrea also had the blood-curdling creatures like the deadly dinosaurs, gigantic snakes, furious apes, ruthless rhino’s, massive mastodons and many other creepy creatures. This showed the power of the Empyrean Army and that no other army could survive their wrath.

The Emperor Osiris and the kings ruled Empyrea with powerful Scepters. With those powers, they were not only considered as kings but also worshipped as Lords. The Lords with the help of their scepter had the crucial power to transform themselves into giant creatures.

Egyptians while departing from Empyrea was gifted with a shortcut portal to earth and also with some people and creatures of Empyrea to build the Empramids in Egypt. Overwhelmed with happiness they took the shortcut door and returned to Egypt.

However, the happiness was short-lived in Empyrea. The Empire of Empyrea was betrayed for ruling earth avariciously. Somehow the Emperor of Empyrea locked the shortcut portal and asked the Egyptians to safeguard it. The Egyptians, on the other hand, failed to safeguard the portal. And some gangsters accidentally opened the shortcut door in 2017 A.D, entered Empyrea, and inadvertently got access to the Lord scepters.

So, now the Earthians were left with no choice but to battle against the merciless predators and headhunting people in their heroic journey. Their ultimate fate lied in an empire beyond imagination. They would take their stand against the powerful lords, who brutally led their people to war against planet Earth.

Did the gangsters protect the earth from danger, or left the other world to accomplish their tyrant rule on Earth? Explore the world of Empyrea to unravel the truth behind this mystery.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Favorite Author:



My favorite author is Shakespeare. I grew up reading his wonderful stories in my academic books and every time when  I read his stories it feels like they are happening next to me. He pulls us into his stories. Hamlet is my favorite story by the Author.

Favorite Fictional Character:

My all time favorite fictional character is Dobby. Dobby was someone who gave Harry a lot of trouble, but he also became one of young Potter's closest friends and allies. He did everything he could to do what was right and was loyal to those who proved themselves as trustworthy to him, whether that was Harry Potter, Hermione, or his old friend, Dumbledore. My favorite dialogue of dobby is, “Dobby will have to punish himself most grievously”.

How it started: 
It all began 7 years ago, when I was pursuing my under graduation in RKM Vivekananda College. A group of us planned to launch a weekly campus magazine featuring comics, short stories, poetry, cultural events etc. And, this is the time when I experienced the small plot about my debut novel Empyrea in my nightmare. I managed to develop my nightmare and shared about the idea of releasing it as a weekly comic in our campus magazine to my friends. Unfortunately, we did not get enough support from our college and dropped the idea of campus magazine. But my friends kept pushing me to write it as a novel and my English professor was gracious enough to guide me in this horrible writing journey of mine. It took nearly a year for me to complete the first few chapters and then Empyrea rightly sparkled its magic and I began to love creating new fictional characters and loved my imagination rather than my writing. My imagination pushed me to take more real time reference on the fictional characters and places and helped me to rewrite the old chapters with better creativity. I changed my story plot more than 10 times to deliver the best in me. At last, I am a published author after 7 years. 


About the Author:



Vignesh Ravichandran is the author of the book Scepters Of Empyrea: A Journey to the Andromeda Galaxy. He  did his Masters in Business Administration from a leading Business School and  presently working as a Human Resource professional in a leading software organization in Chennai. He wrote this debut novel with the story line which he experienced in his nightmare 7 years ago.




Contact the Author:

Giveaway:

- One Paperback Copy of Scepters of Empyrea for Indian Resident
- One Kindle Copy of Scepters of Empyrea for International Resident

07 May, 2019

#BookReview :: Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar by Kochery C. Shibu

In a project site in the remote Himalayas where superstitions and religious beliefs are as important as the engineering Nanda, Khusru and Rekha come together through a series of twists and turns in their lives. The dreams and aspirations of people come alive as the story progresses. Each has a story to tell and a dream to realize. The fury of nature and the hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead. Even Nanda who has seen death from close quarters and is hiding from the law is taken aback by the callous attitude towards life. He is the silent man of the project, the one who never talks. Intrigue and real life get mixed with the sudden appearance of Rekha, the lady doctor, at the camp site. Rekha’s quest for a man whom she can love and worship takes her on an unforeseen journey from where she has to choreograph her way out. The handsome Kashmiri youth Khusru is envied by all at the site. Little do they know that the ghosts of Khusru’s past are plotting to turn his world upside down. Nanda is torn between his love for his dear ones and his kalari code of revenge. He looks to the Dhauladhar ranges for answers to come to terms with his personal loss and a little more dignity for those who perish. Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk life and limb in their quest.




Set in the backdrop of Dhauladhar in Himachal Pradesh, the book revolves around three major characters – Nanda, Khusru and Rekha, whose paths cross at the site of a dam construction project. Nanda is an engineer at the project with a dark past that stops him from being with the people he loves. Khusru is a young chap with a shady personality that has many facets to it. Rekha is a doctor at the camp whose first love is dance. With a terrorist plot to attack the dam hanging over them, what role will each of these characters play?

What I liked the most about the book was the details (part of it was also a pitfall which I will come to later). The author has provided us with enough background information on all the major characters to make us feel that we truly know each of them. It was easy to feel connected to the characters. Khusru was a black jack for me in the book as I felt like he could go either ways. The descriptions of the beautiful setting of the book helped create an image in my mind about what a beautiful place Dhauladhar is.  Plus the author made the place come alive through the settlers of the nearby village, their cultures and their fallacies. The author brought certain aspects of our culture under the spotlight through the people, their beliefs, traditions and talents.

The part that was a fifty-fifty for me in the book was primarily the representation of women. Given the plot, there was not much that the author could do, yet failed to cultivate the little opportunity that he had. It was disappointing and so was the love story that lacked the chemistry and the feel.

Now for the parts that failed to impress me completely.  First of all, the book triggered my biggest reading quirk with over use of a regional language and slangs. It hampered my overall reading experience as they were sprinkled throughout and I had to put down the book multiple times because of it. They weren’t necessarily used as a tool to develop a character or build up the setting and could have easily been avoided.  The other thing that hampered my reading experience was the detailed descriptions of the dam building process. I am all for description when it comes to world building or character development, but in this case it was the technicalities of dam building that had me bored. The book could have easily been cut back down by a 50 odd pages that were just too much of useless information. 

Overall, it is a book that offers drama, action, politics and romance. Give it a try.


Review Copy received from the Author



06 May, 2019

#BookReview :: Hijabistan by Sabyn Javeri

A young kleptomaniac infuses thrill into her suffocating life by using her abaya to steal lipsticks and flash men. 
An office worker feels empowered through sex, shunning her inhibitions but not her hijab ... until she realizes that the real veil is drawn across her desires and not her body. 
A British-Asian Muslim girl finds herself drawn to the jihad in Syria only to realize the real fight is inside her. 
A young Pakistani bride in the West asserts her identity through the hijab in her new and unfamiliar surroundings, leading to unexpected consequences. 

The hijab constricts as it liberates. Not just a piece of garment, it is a worldview, an emblem of the assertion of a Muslim woman's identity, and equally a symbol of oppression. Set in Pakistan and the UK, this unusual and provocative collection of short stories explores the lives of women crushed under the weight of the all-encompassing veil and those who feel sheltered by it. 



This book has been on my timeline all over and I have been hearing only good things about it. So, it was with certain expectations that I picked up this book.

The book is a collection of sixteen stories about women who wear hijab and their emotional journey. The ‘hijab’ is the common element in all the stories but that is about it. Each story puts forth a different woman, a different personality, a different struggle and a different angle on what the hijab means to them. A sex worker, a student, a married woman and a young girl – all have the hijab as a common thread. Yet adultery, forbidden love, fighting for or against jihad are the threads that distinguish their struggles.

The author’s narrative style and language is simple and easy to get into. I liked a couple of the stories and that is the only positive thing I can say about the book. There is a story where a girl is forced to wear hijab against her wishes, but soon she finds ways to turn this forced thing into a boon for herself. I liked the story because we do not always have the strength to rebel and fight, as an individual, against the age old customs that are forced on us. But even then it is up to us to either live with it as a burden or find a way to turn it to our advantage. The other story I liked was that of a girl who finds a way to inspire others to find acceptance through her own acceptance and grit.

I could see through certain stories that the author started writing these stories with a vision but she lost her way about mid-way playing into some of the stereo types. While hijab is forced on some women, some women gladly adopt it too. Not all women who wear a hijab is oppressed or oppressed only sexually. ‘Hijab’ in itself is not oppressive; it’s the forcing of hijab that is oppressive. In some of the stories the author has tried to show that the women were oppressed and the only way they could break the binds was to explore their sexuality. Do not get me wrong, I am all for every person exploring their sexuality – but my question is why can’t people break out of this clich├ęd stance? And since the book is being called feministic, I’d like to interject that this book delivers a bit of ‘Veere di Wedding’ brand of feminism which according to me isn’t feminism at all.

I would recommend people to give the book a try as some of the stories are really good and people may have different takes on the remaining stories.


Review Copy received from Harper Collins India



04 May, 2019

#BookReview :: Rani Padmavati by Anuja Chandramouli



Padmavati is the most beautiful queen Chittor has ever had. Everyone who sees her is enthralled by her grace and goodness. When the greedy gaze of the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khalji, falls upon Chittor and its queen, Padmavati’s flawless beauty turns against her, because it inspires both love and hate in equal measure. Beset by the threat of an invasion and scheming political rivals who are envious of her immense popularity, Rani Padmavati must rise to the demands of war and fight for everything she believes in. 

This is the story of a remarkable woman who lived gently, loved passionately and embraced her destiny with unmatched courage. 


Goodreads * Amazon


I delayed reading this book because of all the hype caused by the release of ‘Padmavat’ and I wanted to delve into the book with a fresh mind.

The book tells us the story of Rani Padmini, the Queen consort of Rawal Ratan Singh of Chittor.  The book’s focus is on the story of the Queen, her relationship and love story with the King, the court politics and the power game which is played in every kingdom. At the same time the book also gives us the point of view of Alauddin Khalji, humanizing him to a point for the readers.

Rani Padmavati’s story has become a sort of folklore where in different people have different beliefs about what exactly happened. As such, there is much potential for the story to be exploited in different ways and this book, Anuja gives us her version of it. Rani Padmini is beautiful, intelligent and expert at navigating the court. She has a genuine love relationship with her husband and the respect is mutual. As the protagonist she is ‘almost’ perfect. I did wish for a little more description, details and depth when it came to her character. Ratan Singh is an honest and fair ruler who sincerely cares for his subjects. Though I am not very sure he was wise when it came to handling his first wife. Nagmati, is Ratan Singh’s first wife who is miffed by the relationship between Padmini and Ratan Singh and turns vengeful. As for Alauddin Khalji, he is a conqueror at heart but also a man of principles. His treatment of the ladies in his life is repulsive though. The author also painted a picture of the different dynamics between the different Rajput kingdoms. 

This is probably my least favourite book by Anuja Chandramouli. It is mainly because of the simplicity of the plot and the much discussed protagonist which is a tad bit unusual considering the author’s other books.  Yet the book had my interest right from the beginning and right till the end because the author’s storytelling is as impeccable as ever. 



Review Copy received from the Author






#BlogTour :: The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan

The Company Files: 2.

The Naming Game

by Gabriel Valjan

on Tour April 22 - June 22, 2019


Synopsis:

Whether it's Hollywood or DC, life and death, success or failure hinge on saying a name.

The right name.

When Charlie Loew is found murdered in a seedy flophouse with a cryptic list inside the dead script-fixer's handkerchief, Jack Marshall sends Walker undercover as a screenwriter at a major studio and Leslie as a secretary to Dr. Phillip Ernest, shrink to the stars. J. Edgar Hoover has his own list. Blacklisted writers and studio politics. Ruthless gangsters and Chief Parker's LAPD. Paranoia, suspicions, and divided loyalties begin to blur when the House Un-American Activities Committee insists that everyone play the naming game.





Praise for The Naming Game:

"With crackling dialogue and a page turning plot shot-through with authentic period detail, Gabriel Valjan pulls the reader into the hidden world of the 1950's Hollywood studio scene, involving murder, McCarthyism and mayhem."
~ James L'Etoile, author of At What Cost and Bury the Past

"Terrific historical noir as Gabriel Valjan takes us on a trip through post-war Hollywood involving scandal, McCarthyism, blacklisting, J. Edgar Hoover and, of course, murder. Compelling story, compelling characters - and all the famous name dropping is great fun. Highly recommended!"
~ R.G. Belsky, author of the Clare Carlson Mystery Series

"Brilliantly written, Gabriel Valjan's The Naming Game whisks the reader back in time to postwar Los Angeles. Spies, Communism, and Hollywood converge in a first-rate thriller."
~ Bruce Robert Coffin, Agatha Award nominated author of Beyond the Truth

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction
Published by: Winter Goose Publishing
Publication Date: May 4, 2019
Number of Pages: 210
ISBN: 978-1-941058-86-2
Series: The Company Files: 2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

At seven minutes past the hour while reviewing the classified documents at his desk, one of the two colored phones, the beige one, rang. He placed the receiver next to his ear, closed the folder, and waited for the caller's voice to speak first.
"Is this Jack Marshall?"
"It is."
"This is William Parker. Is the line secure?"
"It is," Jack replied, his hand opening a desk cabinet and flipping the ON switch to start recording the conversation.
"I don't know you Mr. Marshall and I presume you don't know me."
A pause.
"I know of you, Chief Parker."
"Were you expecting my call?"
"No and it doesn't matter." Jack lied.
"Fact of the matter, Mr. Marshall, is an individual, whom I need not name, has suggested I contact you about a sensitive matter. He said matter of security so I listened."
"Of course. I'm listening."
"I was instructed to give you an address and have my man at the scene allow you to do whatever it is that you need to do when you arrive there."
"Pencil and paper are ready. The address, please."
Jack wrote out the address; it was in town, low rent section with the usual rooming houses, cheap bars, about a fifteen-minute drive on Highway 1 without traffic.
"Ask for Detective Brown. You won't miss him. Don't like it that someone steps in and tells me how to mind my own city, but I have no choice in the matter."
Jack ignored the man's defensive tone. He knew Detective Brown was a dummy name, like Jones or Smith on a hotel ledger. Plain, unimaginative, but it would do. Most policemen, he conceded, were neither bright nor fully screwed into the socket. A chief was no different except he had more current in him. The chief of police who ruled Los Angeles by day with his cop-syndicate the way Mickey Cohen owned the night must've swallowed his pride when he dropped that nickel to make this call.
"Thank you, Chief Parker."
Jack hung up and flipped the switch to OFF.
Whatever it was at the scene waiting for Jack was sufficient cause to pull back a man like Bill Parker and his boys for twelve hours. Whoever gave this order had enough juice to rein in the LAPD.
Jack took the folder he was reviewing and walked it across the room. He opened the folder once more and reread the phrases 'malicious international spy' and, in Ronald Reagan's own choice of words, 'Asia's Mata Hari', before closing the cover and placing it inside the safe. His review will have to wait. He put on his holster and grabbed a jacket.
Betty came out on the porch as he was putting the key into the car door.
"I won't be long. Please kiss the children good night for me."
"Can't this wait, Jack? The children were expecting you to read to them tonight. Jack Junior set aside the book and you know Elizabeth will be crushed."
"It can't wait. I'm sorry. Tell them I'll make it up to them."
"You need to look them in the face when you tell them sorry."
He opened the door as his decision. She understood she dealt him the low card. "Want something for the road?"
"No thanks. I'll see you soon."
He closed the door with finesse. He couldn't help it if the children heard the car. He checked the mirror and saw her on the porch, still standing there, still disappointed and patient, as he drove off.
Detective Brown, sole man on the scene, walked him over to the body without introducing himself. Jack didn't give his name.
At six-fifteen the vet renting a room down the hall discovered the body. Detective Brown said the veteran was probably a hired hound doing a bag job - break-ins, surveillance, and the like. Recent veterans made the best candidates for that kind of work for Hoover, Jack thought. Worked cheap and they went the extra mile without Hoover's agents having to worry about technicalities like a citizen's rights going to law.
"What makes you think he was hired out?" Jack asked.
Brown, a man of few words, handed Jack his notebook, flipped over to the open page he marked Witness Statement and said politely, "Please read it. Words and writing are from the witness himself."
"The man was a no good 'commonist'."
"Nice spelling. A suspect?"
"No, sir. The coroner places the death around early afternoon, about 2ish. Our patriot was across the street drinking his lunch. I verified it."
Jack viewed the body. The man was fully dressed wearing a light weave gabardine suit costing at least twenty-five. The hardly scuffed oxfords had to cost as much as the suit, and the shirt and tie, both silk, put the entire ensemble near a hundred. Hardly class consciousness for an alleged Communist, Jack thought.
The corpse lying on his side reminded Jack of the children sleeping, minus the red pool seeping into the rug under the right ear. The dead man wore a small sapphire ring on his small finger, left hand. No wedding band. Nice watch on the wrist, face turned in. An odd way to read time. Breast pocket contained a cigarette case with expensive cigarettes, Egyptian. Jack recognized the brand from his work in the Far East. Ten cents a cigarette is nice discretionary income. Wallet in other breast pocket held fifty dollars, various denominations. Ruled out robbery or staging it. Identification card said Charles Loew, Warner Brothers. Another card: Screen Writers Guild, signed by Mary McCall, Jr. President. Back of card presented a pencil scrawl.
"Find a lighter or book of matches?"
Detective Brown shook his head. Jack patted the breast pockets again and the man's jacket's side-pockets. Some loose change, but nothing else. The man was unarmed, except for a nice pen. Much as he disliked the idea Jack put his hands into the man's front pockets. Nothing. He found a book of matches in the left rear pocket, black with gold telltale lettering, Trocadero on Sunset. Jack flipped the matchbook open and as he suspected, found a telephone number written in silver ink; different ink than the man's own pen. Other back pocket contained a handkerchief square Jack found interesting, as did Detective Brown.
"What's that?" he asked, head peering over for a better look.
"Not sure," answered Jack, unfolding the several-times folded piece of paper hidden inside the hanky. The unfolded paper revealed a bunch of typewritten names that had bled out onto other parts of the paper. It must have been folded while the ink was still wet. It didn't help someone spilt something on the paper. Smelled faintly of recent whiskey. Jack reviewed what he thought were names when he realized the letters were nonsense words.
"Might be a Commie membership list. Looks like code." But Brown zipped it when Jack folded the paper back up and put it into his pocket.
"The paper and the matches stay with me. We clear?"
"Uh, yes sir. The Chief told me himself to do whatever you said and not ask questions."
"Good. Other than the coroner - who else was here? Photographers, fingerprints?"
"Nobody else. Medical pronounced him dead, but nothing more. Chief had them called off to another scene - a multiple homicide, few blocks away. We're short-staffed tonight. The Chief said he'd send Homicide after you leave. They'll process the scene however you leave it. They won't know about the matches or the paper. Chief's orders."
Jack checked his watch. Man down, found at six fifteen. Chief called a little after seven. He arrived not much later than seven forty. The busy bodies would get the stiff by eight or eight thirty, the latest. Perfectly reasonable Jack thought. He squatted down to see the man's watch, noticing light bruising on the wrist and the throw rug bunched into a small hill near the man's time hand. Intriguing.
"Thank you, Detective. I'll be going now. If I speak to the chief I'll let him know you've done your job to the letter."
"You're welcome. Night."
Jack knew he and the chief would be speaking again.
Outside on the street, Jack pulled out his handkerchief and wiped both hands for any traces of dead man as he headed for the parked car. Compulsive habit. He pulled up the collar on his jacket. It was cold for late May.
The street sign said he was not far from Broadway. In this part of town thousands lived crowded in on themselves as lodgers in dilapidated Gothic mansions or residence hotels, working the downtown stores, factories, and offices, riding public transit and the other funicular railway in the area, Court Flight, a two-track railway climb towards Hill Street.
Los Angeles changed with the world. The war was over and there was a new war, possibly domestic, definitely foreign. Court Flight is gone, ceased operations. Its owner and his faithful cat had passed on. His good widow tried. In '43 a careless brush fire destroyed the tracks and the Board of Public Utilities signed the death warrant; and now Jack was hearing whispers Mayor Bowron planned to revitalize the area International Style, which meant dotting the desert city with skyscrapers.
Jack opened the door and sat behind the wheel a moment. He took the family once to nearby Angels Flight. Junior wondered why there was no apostrophe on the sign. Betty tolerated the excursion, indifferent to Los Angeles because she preferred their home in DC. He released the clutch. Betty disliked LA because it changed too much without reason. She might have had a point. He shifted gear. Pueblo city would level whole blocks of thriving masses just to create a parking lot. He pulled the car from the curb.
***
Excerpt from The Naming Game by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2019 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.




Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan is the author of two series, The Roma Series and The Company Files, available from Winter Goose Publishing. His short stories have appeared in Level Best anthologies and other publications. Twice shortlisted for the Fish Prize in Ireland, once for the Bridport Prize in England, and an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest, he is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime National, a local member of Sisters in Crime New England, and an attendee of Bouchercon, Crime Bake, and Malice Domestic conferences.


Catch Up With Gabriel On:
gabrielvaljan.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!




Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gabriel Valjan. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 22, 2019 and runs through June 24, 2019. Void where prohibited.
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