22 February, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Books that have kept me going... by Radhika Sachdev



*** Special Feature - February 2019 ***

About the Book:
Penned in real time, from the hospital bed while battling for life, on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone’s 4x2 inch keypad, the only device allowed to the patient in her supersanitized recuperating room, this book follows a hybrid format of medico-psycho thriller, interspersed with SMS chats, transcripts of medical records, and other workings of an addled mind overcome by sickness, yet determined to pull through.

It is a first-hand account of a liver transplant recipient’s journey in India, chronicled from the patient’s perspective in vivid detail as a series of dramatic events unfold in her life, completing the cycle from sickness to health, despair to hope.

It also tells the story of a single mom and breadwinner of the family, her strong bonding with her adoptive daughter, and her family and friends’ support. The author hopes that this book will give courage and direction to other patients whose lives are hanging by a thread, patients awaiting a life-saving cadaveric organ donation.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon


Books that have kept me going....


Since I like my reading stuff simple  - the one book, rather novella I'd want my daughter to read (she hasn't yet) is Amtoine De-Saint Exupery's The Little Prince. It's possibly as simple, as you can get. Yet so subtle and profound in meaning - it's for timeless, ageless consumption. The night I finished it, I remember calling up the friend who had lent it to me. She wanted to know what's the first thing I did, when I put the book down? "Why, I went out to look at the sky and find the Little Prince" I said, with tears of ambiguous loss pouring down my eyes. 

"That's what everybody does," she laughed. 



Unfortunately, I don't get much time to read these days - its mostly newspapers and boring industry reports for the kind of work I do - but I was once very fond of Daphne du Maurier, Robin Cook and of course, Jeffrey Archer. That may not come across as a very impressive list - but that's me.  

In contrast, my mother, who was very well read, once gave me Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace to read. It must have taken me a whole year to finish it, but religiously, each day, I would read at least one page of that tome. And the day I finished it, I suddenly stuck what depths I'd delved into, and the very day I started reading it all over again, and this time managed to finish it in two start days, end-to-end. That marked the start of my love affair with classics and period literature.    



About the Author:



Radhika Sachdev is an independent journalist who has held senior editorial positions with leading news banners – the Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Financial World, and The Pioneer. Presently, she runs her own advertising outfit, Write Solutions.





Connect with the Author:
Website * Facebook * LinkedIn


Giveaway:
Two lucky Indian Residents can win a paperback copy each of Second Go 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

#Interview with N. Lombardi Jr., #Author of Justice Gone

About the Book:


When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans.



Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

An Interview with the Author

This week it is my pleasure to interview N. Lombardi Jr. Would you please introduce yourself to my readers and share something about your life.
I was born in a working class family in New York City, and my life's path has gone in an unlikely direction. I've been a groundwater geologist for many years, enabling me to work on three continents and in over ten countries, and this offered me the opportunities to experience firsthand a diverse collection of cultures. Eventually the course of my work took me to Cambodia. I fell in love with the place and kept it as my home base. After 7 years, I married a Cambodian woman, and we built a house in the countryside in the southern part of the country. Where we live, there is everything: mountains, sea, rivers and estuaries, and a nice quaint town 10 minutes' drive away. I am truly lucky. 

When did you write your first book and how did it come about?
I never intended to be an author, but intermittent events in my life spurred me to write and now I've reached the point of no return. The first time was 30 years ago, and it was a catharsis for a broken heart, a romance adventure set in Kenya, and it was therapy for getting over what I considered, at the time, the loss of the love of my life. It's also a story about cultural confusion in East Africa. 

In the 1980's it was much easier to get an agent, which I did, but after she submitted the manuscript 15 times, with rejection after rejection, I put it on the shelf for 30 years. It was finally published in 2014 as Journey Towards a Falling Sun, a romance adventure set in Kenya. 

My second novel was actually the first one published, The Plain of Jars, started in 1998, and I laboured over it for 15 years while working as a groundwater geologist in various countries. I had no intention of writing again, but when I visited Laos and learned about the secret war the US waged against that small nation (without an official declaration of war) and discovered that more bombs were dumped on that country than all the munitions dropped in World War II, I felt I just had to write about it. The novel was published as my first, in 2013.

Do you always write in the same genre or do you mix it up?
My first two novels were what I call cross-cultural adventure novels, but I found to my dismay that these were difficult to market, and consequently did not sell well. I like to read mysteries and thrillers, and I found I could write about current events in such a genre. So these are the types of books that I'll write from now on.

When you write, do you start with an idea and sit down and let it evolve, or do you make notes and collect ideas on paper beforehand?
I usually get ideas way in advance of actually writing the story, but they do evolve during the writing process, usually ending up significantly different than my original conception. I don't make notes, or put my thoughts on paper, they're all in my head.

Would you like to give us a short excerpt from one of your books?
Okay, a very short one, from the latest book, Justice Gone. It's the start of the trial, when the prosecutor greets the blind lawyer, Nat Bodine:

“Didn’t we meet last year at the meeting of the New Jersey Bar Association?” Bodine asked, as his daughter collected their papers and put them in their briefcase.
“Yes, I believe we did.”
“Thought so. I never forget a voice.”
That comment threw Fiske off-center for a moment. “I just wanted to, well, shake hands so to speak, before we come out fighting.”
“Is your hand out there in the air, waiting for mine? Cause if it is, you can put it back wherever you had it. I don’t shake hands these days. And while you’re at it, you can remove that smug smile off your face. I don’t have to see it, I can tell by your tone. You’ve already pissed me off, and this is just the arraignment. So I’m not exactly in a gentlemanly mood. And if you try to set up my client by having him mingle with the others, there’ll be hell to pay. Getting my drift, son?”
Fighting words for sure, but the word that provoked Fiske the most was the condescending “son,” just as Bodine had figured it would. “Is that a threat, Mr. Bodine?”
Emily tugged at her father’s arm with the covert message that he quit this repartee. He turned to leave, but not before saying, “No, Mr. Fiske, just a consequence.”

Who is your favourite character and why?
I really don't want to be biased towards my main characters, so I have to choose three characters, one from each novel, that are close to my heart, and for some reason they are all women.

In my first book, The Plain of Jars, we have Dorothy, a 64-year-old widow, a rather insular individual, who, with great courage, makes the decision to travel to the other side of the world, and is transformed into an intrepid truth seeker.

Then I must give honourable mention to Kampeng, the loyal and devoted Laotian guide, and the Venerable Kru Jarun, the wise yet feisty Buddhist spiritual master.

Similarly, we have another character transformation seen in Journey Towards a Falling Sun. Pamela Emuria, an innocent and virtuous idealist, is tragically exposed to the realities of life after reluctantly entering into a taboo love affair. The resilience and integrity that she shows thereafter makes her an Anna Karenina style of heroine.

And finally we have Dr Tessa Thorpe in Justice Gone. Strong willed and committed, she confronts adversity head on with a warrior-like attitude fighting for what she believes is right. 

Once again I have a runner-up from that novel, the testy, incorrigible blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine.

Actually, I love all my characters, which makes your question particularly difficult.

Which of your books gave you the most pleasure to write?
Oh wow, another tough one. You should include "pain" in that question, because there are times when writing any of my novels that, I must admit rather awkwardly, I cry. So again, I cannot choose.

If you could pick any famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
For this particular book, I would have to say John Grisham. In fact, I sent him a copy through the publicity department at Doubleday, though I doubt I'll get a response. I figure, "What the hell…". The reason I chose him is that Mr. Grisham has written many legal thrillers with social issues embedded in it: homelessness, corruption, unscrupulous behaviour of insurance companies, etc. I think he would like my book because of the topics that surround the plot.

Name three things that you believe are important to character development
One thing that annoys me as a reader is when I get three pages of biodata and emotional baggage about a character, which breaks the flow and pace of the narrative. I really don't care about what school the person graduated from or the broken love affairs of the past. I believe in showing, not telling. With a succinct physical description, crisp and distinctive dialogue along with actions, the reader can get a pretty good picture of the character. Interesting things about the person's past can be brought in with well-timed snippets, but it's mainly how they express themselves verbally and their behaviour, including how they react to the various situations they are confronted with.

What is the best marketing tip you have received?
Now, we are surely embarking upon a different tack.
Because I'm an Indie author with a small press, I have to stop my writing to engage in marketing full-time. I'm not very good at it, and I still don't know which tactic has the most impact. Even experts cannot say with any certainty, because in this case, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - there's an undefinable interaction. I have used blog tours, Goodreads ads, and giveaways. Some authors heavily depend on discount promotions, but unless your self-published, you lose money on these campaigns, as the fees for the newsletters are greater than the royalties you earn.

What is the biggest factor for you when selecting a book to read?
I read the editorial reviews first, only as an initial screening to determine Indy authors from the big publishers, and then go on to the readers' reviews. I do this because I have a different attitude for these two classes of books. While editorial reviews lend some credibility to the title, I am suspicious of heavily touted trendy bestsellers. For the readers' reviews, I look at all the five star, three star, and one star reviews to see why people like or dislike the book. Then I make my decision.

Do you have your own website? 
Yes, I do, http://author-n-lombardi-jr.com, but I don't recommend any one visiting it, since all the content is also conveniently available on my Goodreads profile. I only created a website because people tell me an author must have his own website, and everyone keeps asking me for the URL. To make a good site, you need time, and I'd rather spend time writing. It's bad enough that I have marketing as a diversion. 

Are you working on a new book at the moment?
I've finished a manuscript, tentatively titled Woman in the Shadow, again with Tessa Thorpe as the main character. This novel is written in the first person, and gives insight into who she really was and how she metamorphosed into the person we see in Justice Gone. To speak the truth, I wrote this before Justice Gone, but because my publisher was not as enthused about it as I was, I shelved it.

Do you have any events or book promotions coming up that you would like to tell us about?
First, let me introduce my latest novel, Justice Gone, and explain that its creation was inspired by a true event, the fatal beating of a homeless man in a small Californian town. This was such an extreme case, and one which did not include any racial elements, that it exposed the utter abuse of authority in which an outraged public reaction was inevitable.

As for promotions, the book will be publicized through virtual book tours: Rachel's Random Resources, Goddess Fish, Sage, b00k r3vi3w Tours, and Enchanted Book Promotions book tours, as well as a few Twitter campaigns.


About the Author:
N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc.

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Follow the Author:
Website * Goodreads * Amazon



20 February, 2019

7th Anniversary of Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws ~ #Giveaway 6

Hola Folks!

Here's the sixth one! Two people can win in this time!

Two Signed Copies of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas

In this spellbinding novel, a young man journeys from California to Cairo to unravel centuries-old family secrets.

Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One day, a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the tangled history that binds the two sides of his family. For generations, the men of the al-Raqb family have served as watchmen of the storied Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, built at the site where the infant Moses was taken from the Nile. Joseph learns of his ancestor Ali, a Muslim orphan who nearly a thousand years earlier was entrusted as the first watchman of the synagogue and became enchanted by its legendary--perhaps magical--Ezra Scroll. The story of Joseph's family is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their hallowed Cambridge halls on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue.

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo is a moving page-turner of a novel from acclaimed storyteller Michael David Lukas. This tightly woven multigenerational tale illuminates the tensions that have torn communities apart and the unlikely forces--potent magic, forbidden love--that boldly attempt to bridge that divide.



Do not forget to check out the other giveaways in this series... 
Two Lucky Indian Residents will win this signed copy and a tiny surprise! So, go ahead and enter yourself in the rafflecopter by doing small tasks. There are enough options and you can choose to do one or all. But please do NOT cheat. I will be checking the winning entries and if I find some not so sincere entries, the person will be disqualified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

19 February, 2019

7th Anniversary of Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws ~ #Giveaway 5

Hola Folks!

Back with the fifth one!

Behind the Scenes (Vikram Rana Mystery Series #3) by Sharmishtha Shenoy

Fading superstar of the Bengali film industry Ryan Gomez is poisoned to death while shooting for a film in the pretty hill town of Darjeeling. Sheila Dhar, the film’s beautiful female lead with whom Ryan had recently broken his engagement is the chief suspect. Sheila attempts suicide and is shifted to a hospital in Kolkata for treatment. The CID, Kolkata, takes over the investigation and the film crew is allowed to move back to the “City of Joy”.

Though revenge for the broken engagement seems the obvious motive for the murder, there are several others who had reason to wish Ryan dead. Powerful film producer Rustom, the love of whose life ended up becoming Ryan’s first wife. Screenplay writer Allan, who was in danger of being fired from the production house thanks to a public tiff with Ryan. Acclaimed film director Paddy, who was in love with Sheila. Sheila’s mother, Jaya, who was strongly opposed to her marrying Ryan. The family of Ryan’s first wife, who bear a deep grudge against him. 

There are suspects galore, but the murderer has not reckoned with the tenacity of Vikram Rana.



Do not forget to check out the other giveaways in this series... 
One Lucky Indian Resident will win this book! So, go ahead and enter yourself in the rafflecopter by doing small tasks. There are enough options and you can choose to do one or all. But please do NOT cheat. I will be checking the winning entries and if I find some not so sincere entries, the person will be disqualified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

18 February, 2019

7th Anniversary of Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws ~ #Giveaway 4

Hola Folks!

Are you guys excited about these Giveaways as much as I am? Here's the fourth one!

A Signed Copy of Ganga: The Constant Goddess by Anuja Chandramouli

Believed to be the liquid manifestation of Shakti and the nurturer of the three worlds with her life-sustaining waters, Goddess Ganga is the epitome of beauty and purity, famous for her indomitable spirit and boundless charm. Renowned as a devoted daughter, a caring mother, a passionate lover, and a merciful saviour, she is here to absorb and absolve us of our sins. A constant goddess, she is part of the Indian ethos, revered, and loved across the ages.
The exquisite epic that is Ganga’s story, from her miraculous origins, her sojourn in the heavens, her poignant relationships with the divine trinity, the birth of her sons—Bhishma and Kartikeya, and her descent into a wicked world that is not worthy of her, is dazzlingly told by Anuja Chandramouli. Without this Goddess, life as we know it will be over, for her righteous retribution will be terrifying.
This book is a vibrant retelling of the story of Ganga, who has the power to save us all and bestow the precious gift of moksha, embracing saints and sinners alike with her all-encompassing compassion. 



Do not forget to check out the other giveaways in this series... 
One Lucky Indian Resident will win this signed copy and a tiny surprise! So, go ahead and enter yourself in the rafflecopter by doing small tasks. There are enough options and you can choose to do one or all. But please do NOT cheat. I will be checking the winning entries and if I find some not so sincere entries, the person will be disqualified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

17 February, 2019

7th Anniversary of Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws ~ #Giveaway 3

Hello!

I am back with the third Giveaway! 

A Signed Copy of The Karachi Deception
by Shatrujeet Nath

“…one of the finest thrillers I’ve come across…” -- Zac O’Yeah

Three commandos of the Indian Army’s elite Unit Kilo—Major Imtiaz Ahmed, Captain Shamsheer Suleiman and Lieutenant Rafiq Mehmood—are chosen for a one-of-a-kind ops mission: to enter Pakistan and eliminate dreaded underworld don, Irshad Dilawar. However, somehow, the Inter-Services Intelligence and Dilawar always seem to be one step ahead of them, foiling every plan they make. It doesn’t take long for Major Imtiaz to realize that something is amiss—the operation has been compromised. Will he be able to successfully complete his mission, or are he and his men, like Abhimanyu, entering a trap they cannot make their way out of? Set in the world of covert operations, where double-crossing and diabolical mind games are the norm, The Karachi Deception will keep you hooked till the very end. 


Do not forget to check out the other giveaways in this series... 
One Lucky Indian Resident will win this signed copy! So, go ahead and enter yourself in the rafflecopter by doing small tasks. There are enough options and you can choose to do one or all. But please do NOT cheat. I will be checking the winning entries and if I find some not so sincere entries, the person will be disqualified.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

15 February, 2019

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - 5 Things that inspire me! by Radhika Sachdev



*** Special Feature - February 2019 ***

About the Book:
Penned in real time, from the hospital bed while battling for life, on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone’s 4x2 inch keypad, the only device allowed to the patient in her supersanitized recuperating room, this book follows a hybrid format of medico-psycho thriller, interspersed with SMS chats, transcripts of medical records, and other workings of an addled mind overcome by sickness, yet determined to pull through.

It is a first-hand account of a liver transplant recipient’s journey in India, chronicled from the patient’s perspective in vivid detail as a series of dramatic events unfold in her life, completing the cycle from sickness to health, despair to hope.

It also tells the story of a single mom and breadwinner of the family, her strong bonding with her adoptive daughter, and her family and friends’ support. The author hopes that this book will give courage and direction to other patients whose lives are hanging by a thread, patients awaiting a life-saving cadaveric organ donation.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon


5 Things that inspire me!


  
I would say reading inspires me a lot. My taste in reading is very eclectic. I read everything I can lay my hands on - newspapers (of course), fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, even crime stories - virtually everything. I used to write poetry at one point of time, but soon realized there are no takers for it - Alas!

One genre I could never develop a taste for is - magical realism. I prefer simple, direct prose, very minimalistic and somewhat frugal in style - more emotionally than intellectually challenging, I suppose :) 

Other than reading and writing, I am also very fond of traveling - which is a journey out, just as reading is a journey within.  

People inspire me a lot --- all manner and kind - but especially those who are firmly grounded and those who have the nerve to fight against odds. People with a lot of spine and spunk!

Films and arts also inspire me. I marvel at people who are able to turn around bits and elements to create a piece of immense beauty. Performance arts are fun too, and music very uplifting, but reading and films would always come first on my list. Perhaps I am more visual than aural person.  

Finally, whenever I can manage, I absolutely love spending time with my daughter, dad and my two sisters' families too! 

  

  
  
 




About the Author:



Radhika Sachdev is an independent journalist who has held senior editorial positions with leading news banners – the Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Financial World, and The Pioneer. Presently, she runs her own advertising outfit, Write Solutions.





Connect with the Author:
Website * Facebook * LinkedIn


Giveaway:
Two lucky Indian Residents can win a paperback copy each of Second Go 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

7th Anniversary of Bookish Indulgences with b00k r3vi3ws ~ #Giveaway 2

Hello!

I am back with the second Giveaway!

A Signed Copy of The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman.

Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. Narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers in the Mahabharat, the novel gives us a new interpretation of this ancient tale.

The novel traces the princess Panchaali's life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her strategic duels with her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands' most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female redefining for us a world of warriors, gods, and the ever-manipulating hands of fate.


Remember to check out the first giveaway in this series... A signed copy of I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

One Lucky Indian Resident will win this signed copy and a tiny surprise! So, go ahead and enter yourself in the rafflecopter by doing small tasks. There are enough options and you can choose to do one or all. But please do NOT cheat. I will be checking the winning entries and if I find some not so sincere entries, the person will be disqualified.

a Rafflecopter giveaway