30 September, 2013

#BookReview :: The Iron Traitor (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #2) by Julie Kagawa

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice. 
After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as normal as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for; his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again. 
But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, normal simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all.

You know how there are torture specialists in every army? Well Julie Kagawa is our official torture specialist in the world of bookworms… Yeah Really! Being a bookworm, you all know how hard it is to read a book and then wait a year for its sequel. Ms.Kagawa adds a special twist to make that agonising waiting period a torturous affair. Well if you don’t believe me,  read this book that ends with such a HUGE cliffhanger that you too would agree with me!

So, this book picks up afer Ethan Chase’s initial adventure in The Iron Prince. There is something about these Chase kids… first Megan and now Ethan – they just cannot get away from the Faerie world. This time rounf its Kierran, Ethan’s nephew who goes missing and he holds the future of the Faein his hand. One wrong decision could bring them all down. This is finally the moment when the prediction made in The Iron Prophecy could come true! Then there is Kenzie to consider. Ethan is forbidden to see her yet it is for her sake that Ethan has to try and put things right.

As far as the plot goes, it is as exciting as the Iron Fey series. Romance, Drama and lots of Action. But the weakness is the lead character. Ofcourse, I like Ethan. But he comess off as rather weak after Puck and Ash. Kenzie on the other hand makes thing more difficult just with her stubborness. She brought on unnecessary drama to the story. But my god the ending! In one page, the last one ofcourse, changes everything… I kept swiping at my kindle with hopes of finding out what happens next!

Read it at your own risk.

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29 September, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: #CoverReveal - My Friend Sue by Cara Rosalie Olsen

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - September'13 ***

Quick Recap at this month's Posts:

My Friend Sue by Cara Rosalie Olsen

It’s Valentine's Day. Raegan Delaney Morrison is eagerly preparing to give her ten year-old heart away, in the form of pink and red construction paper, Elmer’s glue, and a sequin for every thought she’s ever had about Christopher; he is the boy next door, and he’s been Raegan’s best friend since they were old enough to grab sand and make a meal of it.

Confidently, Raegan declares her love, certain Christopher must feel what she feels: tingles in his toes, butterflies in his stomach, and this magnificent all over sickness that sort of feels like the flu. And Raegan knows that once their ardency is out in the open, the sooner they can get to the good stuff: holding hands at school, sharing pudding, discussing who they’ll invite to their zoo-themed wedding . . . there’s only one small problem.

When does anything in life ever go according to plan?

A bewildered Raegan is left to confront the first of—what will inevitably be many—life’s cruelties. But perhaps not all on her own.

When Raegan meets Sue for the first time, she doesn’t comprehend the rarity sitting before her, disguised in dirty flesh and bones; all she knows for certain is there is something very different about Sue. What appears to be written and resolute to minds awakened by judgment, remains clean and potential to a child’s uncluttered eyes. Raegan is drawn to Sue; into her world without walls.

~ In My Friend Sue, Cara Rosalie Olsen introduces a rare and happenstance friendship between two unlikely people, weaving their respective lives through the thick and threadbare of life’s colorful tapestry. What happens on this abiding journey demonstrates an exquisite and peculiar mystery: how in overcoming the daily obstacle to survive the world with your heart intact, two people can become inseparable, form a bond so strong it becomes the stuff of legends. This story is about friendship, Sue’s and Raegan’s.

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The book will be available for Kindle for a discounted price of $2.99 throughout September!

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27 September, 2013

#CoverReveal :: The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series 
Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors.

"Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love."

Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin
Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson
Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White
Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver
Book 6: Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can't even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She's confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.

Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of "smart" business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he's broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she lose her mother, but she had to drop out of nursing school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn't the wallowing type. Instead, she chooses to spend most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Nursing home. When she learns that her boyfriend's new roommate is down on his luck, her caring nature makes her want to reach out to him and offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.

Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year ended in a fiasco. Only Jace Sutton knew the real reason why—that she was a spineless coward. Now, seven years later, her father's been in an accident and needs help, and Cambr has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and boards a plane, hoping against hope that Jace is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.

Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she’d led him on, bruised his heart, and left town without a backward glance, he was forced to pick up the pieces and try not to hate her for it. Eventually, he put it behind him and moved on, creating a life for himself in his beloved hometown. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jake instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.

If only it were that easy.

Lost and Found by Karey White

Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she's done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it's time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he's been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he's on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he's going home, and that's that. But that's before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.

Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty seven year old Francie Davis, a recent widow and empty nester, gets to attend college at last. She’s sure her luck has changed when she also lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition, as administrative assistant to a history professor. When her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie worries she will never be good enough.

For Professor Alex Diederik, life is going downhill fast. Not only is his bitter ex-wife trying to poison their only daughter against him, but now his one place of solace—his work environment—is being complicated by his attractive new administrative assistant. She drives home his feelings of failure as a husband and father, and Alex wonders if hiring her was the right thing to do.

Francie will have to put aside her hurt and insecurities or risk her dreams, while Alex must look outside himself if he’s to mend the breach with his daughter. And, perhaps, find someone who can help heal his pain.

Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.

But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest.

Until… Erik.

Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she'd never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.

Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/31/13

Bloggers who put up a spotlight post about these books on their blog can enter to win an additional $25 gift card or paypal cash.  See details in the Rafflecopter.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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26 September, 2013

#BookReview :: Beaten by Bhagath! by S.V. Divvaakar

‘I’m sure you can do a much better job than Bhagath!’
When BB hears these inspiring words from his sexy lady boss, his staid life as a successful analyst in an MNC goes into a tailspin.
Bitten by the ego bug and smitten by her, BB sets off on his quest to write a book that’s better than India’s greatest writer Dr.Bhagath’s blockbusters. Nothing unusual about this for BB, who likes a good fight. Except that he and Bhagath had been classmates and friends at college.
What follows is a roller-coaster voyage of the debutant author and his book, with all its twists and cul-de-sacs. Brushes with publishers, celebrities, retailers, book chains, and competition with the alliances among giants, mark the challenger’s journey, upping the stakes at every stage.

Will BB catch up with his famous friend?
What will their encounter be like?

Written from inside the ring, ‘Beaten by Bhagath’ is a gripping tale ...the first-ever about the unseen side of the wonderland of Indian fiction.

Oh! The title is a catchy one… 

BB, our protagonist, and KB have a history. They have been classmates and roommates and have lived a colourful couple of years together. KB has gone on to become a famous author whose books sell like hot cakes while BB is comfortably settled in his career with an MNC. BB knows that he too has a flair for writing but it is only a comment from his hot lady boss that ignites a spark in him. He decides to give it a shot and try and beat his friend while at it! There on starts a rollercoaster journey for BB. From writing to getting published to readers’ feedback – this is one hell of a journey to take!

As a plot, this novel outlines the struggles and path of a first time author pretty well. It portrays the emotions and tussle with hurdles in a manner that paints a vivid picture in a readers’ mind. When we pick up a book, we can only guess the amount of input that has gone into it and this book helps us understand the amount of creativity, hard work, time and patience that is needed to get a simple paperback into our hands. We do get a complete look into the publishing industry and then into the distribution of books as a puzzle..

The author has taken a humourous approach and while we chuckled at the ingenious ‘name game’ he has played, the rest of the book too has generous doses laughter. The characters were mostly under developed and though I could have done without a particular few, I guess they were necessary for the story to take shape. I have one complaint though – I am not very happy with how the book started. It felt a bit drag and a bit difficult to get into. Granted that once it finds its pace there’s no turning back – still it was bit difficult to stick out till it picked up.

I cannot help but wonder now that while working on the names in this novel, if the author knew about Ketan Bhagat (Chetan Bhagat’s brother) and his book? Anyway, like I said the catchy title and the simple yet funny cover is a great combination to catch a readers’ eye. 

Overall, it is light read that will not take up much of time.

Buy this Book

25 September, 2013

#BookReview & #AuthorInterview :: English Bites! My 'Fullproof' English Learning Formula by Manish Gupta

English Bites! My Fullproof English Learning Formula is the story of a man who goes from being tongue-tied in school to becoming a smooth talking banker. Through a series of hilarious personal adventures and misadventures, Manish Gupta provides easy solutions to problems faced by language learners. So, whether you're a vernacular speaker, a GRE/ GMAT/CAT/XAT aspirant or just a language nut, English Bites! will expand your vocabulary and improve your verbal ability. It may even help you love the English language a little more!
• Add over 1000 new words to your vocabulary and figure out easy and effective ways to expand your word bank.
• Combine etymology, mnemonics, jokes and anecdotes to better your understanding of the English language.
• Differentiate between similar sounding words and learn to use them right.
• Improve your general knowledge with trivia that spans brand names, automobiles, fine dining, love, money, banks, science and B-school jargon.

When the author approached me with a review request for this book, my initial reaction was to say ‘no’ because the blurb gave off a non-fiction, self-help vibe. Though I pick up non-fictions from time to time, self-help books are a big no-no for me. But then someone told me that this book could be counted as memoir because the author narrates his own story – and that got me curious! Is it a self-help book, or a memoir, or a self-help book in guise of a memoir, or a memoir in guise of self-help book, which is it?

The book is divided into different chapters depending upon the different phases of the author’s journey to learn English starting right from his school days. However, his main romance with the language started when he stepped out his hometown for his Engineering Degree as that’s when he first discovered that there were two categories of people - those who can speak English and those who cannot. After his Engineering Degree, he went ahead with his ambition of having a Management Degree. Soon after, he was wooed into the corporate world where he has achieved much success. In the meantime, he also met his soul mate and thus settled looking for a happily ever-after.

The author has been blunt and humorous in his narration. And all the while he narrated his story, he made sure to include some big words (do not worry as their meanings are explained in the very same page and you do not have to run for your dictionary every time!), some similar sounding words, some trivia  and enough jokes and anecdotes to keep you laughing/smiling throughout. 

As a student, I was too lazy to go find a dictionary every time I came across a new word, I would simply read and re-read the sentence or the passage till the word meant something to me! I now wish all our text books were like ‘English Bites’ – a fun way to learn! I have learnt quite a few new words and while I will try and incorporate some of them in my daily conversations and my reviews, there were also certain humungous words like ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ that I will happily spend my life without using. 

In the end, this is a book that is best read one chapter a day because even though it makes learning fun, one needs time to absorb and retain it. A must read for EVERYONE…

Manish Gupta is a banking professional. When not crunching numbers he is busy engaging with and examining the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of the English language. He also likes trivia, travelling, adventure sports, delving into human psychology, and giving professorial discourses to colleagues, family and friends, and practically anyone who can give him a patient hearing. An engineering graduate from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and an MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur, he lives in Mumbai with his wife Deepali, a medical professional, and daughters Tamanna and Prakriti.

You have shown us that there’s a fun way to learn. Was that your main intention when you started writing ‘English Bites’?
To answer this question, we need to get a little bit into my background. I grew up in Rohtak, a small and sleepy town in Haryana in the 1970s and 80s. The only English I spoke was in school and that too to respond to questions of my teachers in the class. I looked down at English as an alien tongue merely suited to the narrow field of academia and with no particular use once someone got into the real economy.
As a result, I was horrible in all aspects of communication. My active vocabulary was extremely limited, pronunciations & spellings were terrible (as I refused to accept English as a non-phonetic language that it largely is), sentence construction was poor, and my fluency was severely compromised.
The thought of improving my English started in Class XI after facing acute embarrassment in front of my third and final crush (and her family) when I could not speak even one correct sentence of English with a foreigner we met during a family vacation (and she did).
This thought took a serious turn once I landed-up at Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh and came face-to-face with far more fluent and erudite specimens from convent schools from metros and towns much bigger than my hometown. I also noticed how I used to get tongue-tied while attempting to make a small conversation in English with or even in front of the convent educated colleagues and that hurt…really hard.
This thought was further strengthened when I realised to my horror that English had long outgrown the narrow confines of academia and become extremely relevant and in fact an absolute necessity in the real economy. So much so, that I would need to face group discussions and interviews where my proficiency in this language will be put to the real test to get into one of the best engineering jobs offered on campus.
Having lived all my school life in disdain for this alien tongue, the grossly neglected subject of English made me realize its importance, its vastness, its complexity, and my far less than self proclaimed ‘photographic memory’ all at once. I needed something quick and in large doses to beat the convent educated types in their own game and seal the best job offered in the campus in my name and after gaining some industry experience, successfully compete with them once again for admission into a top-tier MBA program.
Let me confess here that I had drifted towards an MBA after realising that no specialist (read post-graduate) medico girl will consent to marry a Bachelor of Engineering in an arranged marriage situation I had found myself in after many crushed crushes.  Marrying a medico was a childhood dream; the flexibility of working hours that profession allows (a must for raising a happy family) is only a later realisation.
Hence, I set aside the word lists, my failed attempts at mugging, and started creating interesting stories and anecdotes to make indelible imprints of this foreign language in my mind. This was the genesis of the book. It took a lot of research and creativity, but it was a matter of survivability. It was the only thing that could have rescued me from definite depression and elevated me to think and speak like an erudite gentleman.
Once I started revising the book in 2008, I had two dominant thoughts in my mind. The first thought was that this is an opportunity to spread a culture of making teaching (not necessarily limited to language learning) less bookish and pedantic and making LEARNING more FUN. The second and equally, if not more, powerful thought was to put in my bit to make sure that language does not become a handicap for anyone to realize their ambitions and dreams!

How long did it take you to write this book?
You may find it hard to believe but this manuscript was in the making for over 20 years and this has influenced a lot of content in the book. It started as an idea in my second year of engineering way back in 1989-1990 when two of my closet friends and I resolved to publish a book each before we turned 21. This, we agreed, had several advantages.
->   Till Class XII, I stayed in the campus of a girls’ college with our row house facing the girls’ hostel and had left this beautiful environment to join Mechanical Engineering at Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh (a subject no girl dared to join in our year and many years before and after). While this led to a deep appreciation and understanding of how God re-balances our lives, it also made our resolve to attract attention from the few girls from other depts., amid very strong competition, even harder. What better way to attract attention that project our multi-faceted personalities, mastery over the English language (we had declared we were writing books in English medium), and great sense of humour (my book was supposed to be a FUN book).
->   Make us look precocious in the eyes of potential employers after Engineering, interviewers during the MBA admission process, and potential parents and other family members of the post-graduate medico girl I was destined to marry in an arranged marriage situation that I had found myself in after many crushed crushes.
->    Give us an additional source of annuity income plus a decent advance, with which to fund the MBA education. Annuity income stream was reserved for annual vacations in exotic foreign locales.
I thought I had written a masterpiece by the time our final placements ended (spoiling my grades in the process) and was still a few months shy of turning 21. My other friends, who were writing on ‘quizzing’ and ‘poetry’, had pulled out of this pledge while they were still in their teens.
My manuscript then hibernated for 20 years as I got busy with my first job at Tata Motors, an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur, my banking career at Citibank, and family life. The manuscript was preserved on a 3.5 inch diskette in Microsoft Word 2000 that refused to open on my old PC, when I thought of reviving my work of art in the year 2008.
Fortunately, the handwritten version (‘manuscript’ in the real sense of the word) had survived well on loose sheets of paper, which I promptly transferred on my PC and started editing and expanding it at the same time. By the time I finished in 4 years (working on weekends), I had landed up re-writing the entire book.  

What has been the most difficult stage in this whole process?
Connecting the random pieces of mnemonics, anecdotes, and jokes into a cohesive story that started on page 1 and ended on page 334.

How has being a published author affected/changed your life?
Becoming an author has been an extremely surreal and uplifting experience for me. Having started reading books outside the curricula only after I joined engineering, I started with a feeling of awe and admiration for the writers of non-academic books, which only grew stronger with time. Now I feel that I am a part of their tribe though still at the initial steps of a long journey towards excellence in writing. My perspective on life hasn’t had any radical shift after the publication of my book but the added dimension (after academia, profession, family & friends) this publication brings to my narrative makes me feel more creatively fulfilled and complete. I am at peace with myself having fulfilled a long cherished dream of sharing my ideas, research, and experiences on making English learning FUN with all.

What has been the response like? Is it anything like what you had in mind for your book?
As a book in the category of Non-fiction/Self-help and with a novel like storyline, I was expecting the book to be well received. I am sure that with more word-of-mouth publicity, the book will become a bigger success in the times to come.

There is always at least one person who hates your book - how do you deal with it?
There is only one person who doesn’t like my book and unfortunately he has not read it. The sub-title of the book “My ‘Fullproof’ English Learning Formula” has really pissed him off. He left this comment on uread.com and gave the book 1 star.

What’s your opinion of our current educational system? Where is it going wrong?
In India, 4% of children never go to school, 42% drop out before they finish primary school, and 90% drop out before entering college. In government schools, as per one study, 25% of the teachers are absent on any given day. On the days they are present, only 50% are likely to be teaching at any given time. This is distressing and a sad reflection of the state of affairs in the vast majority of schools in our country. Private schools, by and large, provide better quality education, but they are beyond the reach of the masses.
In my view, government needs to get out of school education, handover the existing infrastructure to responsible corporate houses, change laws that allow them to make a small profit, and subsidise their costs so that they become efficient and well-run institutions. The subsidy can be given directly to schools to allow them to provide varying levels of tuition waivers to the children of lower income families. Government can create a robust regulatory and supervisory framework (on the lines of TRAI, IRDA, SEBI, RBI, etc.) for the education sector.
I am sure these measures will also help in improving the teaching methods and in elevating the standard and motivation levels of our teachers.

What kind of books do you personally read?
I stick mostly to non-fiction, and there are far too many favourite books and authors to mention. But if you ask me to pick a few - I have loved the simple and relatable humour in books by Sam Levenson, the life skills taught by Dale Carnegie, and the seminal work on English etymology by Norman Lewis and Wilfred Funk.
In the recent past, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed books on Mind, Passion, and Happiness by Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, Dr. Carol S. Dweck, David Rock, and Ken Robinson. I am currently reading “The Secret Life of Words” by Henry Hitchings, “Entry From Backside Only” by Binoo K. John, and re-reading “Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight” by Rujuta Diwekar. I believe in reading fewer books but revising profound and/or interesting passages from books that I meticulously underline and highlight in the first reading. I am often shocked at the relatively small size of my hippocampus, the seat of memory in the brain, and hence keen that I internalise the lessons though a rigorous revision.

Besides your job and writing, what else interests you?
Till recently, I used to work as a Managing Director and Head of Sales for Treasury and Trade Solutions division of a major multinational bank in India. I have now decided to take a plunge in the field of education, training, consulting, and executive coaching and will shortly start working with an organization that works for the underprivileged children at the school level.
In my personal life, I now live by the principle of learning one new skill every year (pity, I understood and adopted this only a few years ago) and have dabbled in adventure sports (like skiing, paragliding, bungee jumping) and getting off the beaten track while travelling. I plan to hone my moderate skills in singing, gardening, and cooking next. I also like to delve into human psychology and waiting for the day when someone will actually pay me for my wise counsel.

Tell us about that one person who has the biggest influence on your life.
It is hard to pin-point one person and I have had a fairly well rounded support from family, teachers, and friends in the process of growing up. I am not sure if I really miss that one person who could act as my beacon.  

So, what’s brewing?
I guess when you write a book, you give it your all. My stock of ideas is now empty but it doesn’t mean that I will not write another book. Book sales and readers’ feedback and appreciation are extremely strong motivators in rapidly refilling one’s reservoir and giving new ideas and different perspectives to make more meaningful and interesting books. However, I would like to stick to writing in a similar genre (laugh as you learn). Feel strongly about and need to put in my bit to make sure that that language does not become a handicap for anyone to realize their ambitions and dreams!

Is there anything that you would like to say to the people who are yet to pick up your book?
The book is a crazy mix of facts, fiction, and real-life. It is full of amusing incidents, anecdotes, jokes, and a lot of interesting trivia. If any one of you believes that English language is a handicap (big or small) in your career advancement, your social acceptability, and affects your self confidence, you can take a look at English Bites! If you are a language nut, you can take a bite too. There is something in there for you too to chew, relish, and cherish.
The book is the story of my life. It begins when I am in high school and much of the damage to my understanding and grip over the English language has already been done. It ends when, even after spending 20 years as a devoted student of the English language, and having achieved my goals of getting into engineering, securing one of the best jobs engineering has to offer, getting into a top-tier MBA program, a medico wife, kids attending convent school, and a reasonably senior position in a multinational bank, I am stumped by new discoveries every other day. So much so that I find some unfamiliar English words in the nursery rhymes of my kids. My extended student life as far as English language is concerned continues and it’s an exciting journey. Come, join the fun.

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24 September, 2013

#BookReview :: Countdown by Michelle Rowen

3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.
2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.
Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.
1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.
Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape.

Kira Jordan and Rogan Ellis find themselves shackled in a room… and then the countdown begins. Kira with her past where her parents were murdered is used to fending for herself and hardly ever trusts anybody. But with one look at Rogan Ellis, she knows that there is something about this boy. Rogan on the other hand has a secret in his past that could make even Kira, the only person to give him a chance, shrink back from him. Now they are stuck as participants in an illegal TV game show where having each other’s back is the only way to survive and salvage what’s left of their lives.

Kira is such a kickass girl! Ever since her parents were murdered, she had survived on the streets of her plague-devastated streets. She knows better than anyone about how circumstances can influence/change a person. So, when she wakes up in a dark room with Rogan, her first reaction is not to judge but accept an explanation. She showed her vulnerable side once in a while and it was endearing to see that she still had the strength to trust. Rogan Ellis on the other hand makes a terrible first impression – a juvenile who had been imprisoned for murder. He tries his level best to live up to that reputation even though he is touched by Kira’s acceptance.

This book has a fast pace and a plot with amazing twists. Rogan’s background comes to light and surprising facts are brought to the attention of the reader. However, I have a small complaint. The duo (Rogan & Kira) seemed to complete each level at the nick of time after spending most of the level time in arguing or hashing things out. It made me wonder if the game was that easy or were the previous contestants that dumb? The authors style of narration was quite good using easy free flowing language that made it really easy to get into the book in the first place.

Overall, it made for a fast and entertaining read.

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23 September, 2013

#BlogTour & #GuestPost :: Sneaking Treats: A Halloween Haunt by Eddison McRoberts, Jessica Gadra

Sneaking Treats is the Halloween tale of a candy-obsessed Prince. After a clumsy accident, he becomes so angry with himself that he inadvertently shoes away his own shadow. With the story given life by the remarkable artistry of Jessica Gadra, the royal family’s search becomes a playful game of hide-and-seek, the young boy’s shadow cleverly hidden among the illustrations’ intricate details. But whether the Prince will ultimately be reunited with his scorned ‘Self’ is not the only mystery that haunts the many twists and turns of the royal castle.

As newly adoptive parents of our Ethiopian born children, we found ourselves hungry for stories to share with our new family that features adoptive themes, especially for inter-ethnic families such as our own. 

Despite a few widely circulated favorites, we found the available options to be few.  I am not a writer by trade or hobby, but as a creative person with a two beautiful new muses, I was inspired to strike out and create my own.

Rather than tackle interethnic adoptive issues head-on, I chose an entirely different approach: I have been busy creating stories with themes that have absolutely nothing to do with adoption, but which just so happen to feature an adoptive family as the main characters. Modeled after our own, the royal family featured in our first published book, Sneaking Treats, is clearly and pointedly inter-ethnic. However, this is never discussed as an issue within the story, itself. What better way to normalize the concept of adoption than to present it as irrelevant? The royal family is just like any other family with everyday challenges.  The primary moral theme attempts to be largely subliminal.  By story’s end, swept up in the whirlwind of more pressing mysteries, the reader will (hopefully) have forgotten the Prince and Princess are adopted. 

I just read the very first review of our book on Amazon and note that the reviewer didn’t bother to mention the different ethnicities illustrated for the family characters. I consider that a tremendous success!

About the Author: Eddison McRoberts lurks in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two beautiful Ethiopian-adopted children.
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About the Illustrator: Jessica Gadra currently resides in Buffalo, New York, with her husband, Alex, her dog, Eisley, and ten thousand uninvited ladybugs.

The author accepts no profits for sale or distribution of ‘Sneaking Treats’, instead steering all net proceeds towards his favored charities. Please visit www.ethiopiareads.org to learn how underprivileged Ethiopian children are given the reading skills they will need to transform their society into one of appropriate health, wealth and opportunity for all.  
Available in both premium hardcover and ebook formats, Sneaking Treats is also offered in a more-affordable, black & white coloring book version, which features the complete story with illustrations ready for your child’s colorful imagination! Help support our cause.

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For more great kids’ stories that feature ties to Ethiopia, please visit the web pages for authors Jane Kurtz and Chris Kurtz, Americans who works are greatly influenced by their shared childhood growing up in the Ethiopian countryside.
www.janekurtz.com I www.chriskurtzauthor.com

22 September, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: #FlashFiction - The Magician's Hat by Cara R.Olsen

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - September'13 ***

Sample Ms.Cara's Writing style - The Magician's Hat

If only a pile of wayward curls and the inability to stay on her feet were seventeen year-old Foster Kelly’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, stubborn hair and clumsiness are just the tip of it. At the age of five when Foster is told, “You don’t belong here,” it was only a mistake, but the result is one broken heart. These four carelessly spoken words have shaped and shadowed Foster, and now—a senior at Shorecliffs High-school—she seeks the wallflower’s existence, denying herself the most casual of friendships, much too afraid that someone will see what she believes is certain: she does not belong anywhere—or with anyone. 
This reality would continue to suit her just fine; however . . . Love has a long-standing history of undoing broken hearts.
Like a comet, an unexpected arrival knocks Foster out of the crowded, starry sky, sending her directly into the limelight. Exposed and afraid, she will attempt to regain anonymity; but it isn’t so easy now that someone is watching. He pursues this shy enigma, confronting Foster’s deepest fears head-on, and in the process falls wholly and completely in love with her. But there is something he is not saying . . . a secret capable of certain ruin. Either he will break her heart once and for all, or he will heal it.  
In the end, though, it is Foster who must decide if she is worth mending.

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The book will be available for Kindle for a discounted price of $2.99 throughout September!

Also Available :: Nook I iBooks


2 Digital Copies [winner's preferred version, for Nook, Kindle, or iPad] of Awakening Foster Kelly is up for grabs. Enter the Rafflecopter Now!
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21 September, 2013

Peace In Time Book Blitz & Hop - The Bridge of Deaths

About The Author:

M.C.V. Egan lives in South Florida. she is fluent in four languages; English, Spanish, French and Swedish. From a young age became determined to solve the 'mystery' of her grandfather's death, she has researched this story for almost two decades. the story has taken her to Denmark, England and unconventional world of psychics.

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Genre: Historical Paranormal
Publisher: AuthorHouse Publishing
Release Date: June 14, 2011Amazon

On August 15th, 1939 an English passenger plane from British Airways Ltd. Crashed in Danish waters between the towns of Nykobing/Falster and Vordingborg. There were five casualties reported and one survivor. Just two weeks before Hitler invaded Poland with the world at the brink of war the manner in which this incident was investigated left much open to doubt. The jurisdiction battle between the two towns and the newly formed Danish secret police, created an atmosphere of intrigue and distrust.

In the winter of 2009-2010 a young executive, Bill is promoted and transferred to London for a major International firm. He has struggled for the better part of his life with nightmares and phobias, which only seem to worsen in London. As he seeks the help of a therapist he accepts that his issues may well be related to a 'past-life trauma'.

Through love, curiosity, archives and the information superhighway of the 21st century Bill travels through knowledge and time to uncover the story of the 1939 plane crash.

The Bridge of Deaths is a love story and a mystery. Fictional characters travel through the world of past life regressions and information acquired from psychics as well as archives and historical sources to solve "One of those mysteries that never get solved" is based on true events and real people, it is the culmination of 18 years of sifting through sources in Denmark, England and the United States, it finds a way to help the reader feel that he /she is also sifting through data and forming their own conclusions.

The journey takes the reader to well known and little known events leading up to the Second World War, both in Europe and America. The journey also takes the reader to the possibility of finding oneself in this lifetime by exploring past lives.

My Review of the Book : The Bridge of Deaths

20 September, 2013

#BookReview :: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

"Everyone has their secrets. In her stunning new collection of stories, Jhumpa Lahiri gently lifts the veil to reveal how even the most ordinary lives have their dramas and tragedies and then, as gently, lets it fall back down again. A middle aged man discovers that the death of his wife opens up his world in unexpected ways— his daughter worries that she will now have to look after him but finds that the tables have, in fact, turned; a housewife falls in love with a younger family friend—her child ascertains her secret many years on; a son is revulsed by his father’s second marriage to a young woman who has none of the sophistication and elegance of his mother; a sister tries to save her brother from alcoholism and finds herself rejecting him like everyone else. A young man and woman whose lives cross over the years, finally and fatedly fall in love. Unaccustomed Earth returns to the terrain—the heart of family life and the immigrant experience— that Jhumpa Lahiri has made utterly hers, but her themes, this time around, have darkened and deepened. Poised, nuanced, deeply moving, here is a superb collection: the finest she has written yet."

After Interpreter of Maladies, this is the second Jhumpa Lahiri book that I have picked up. Yes, at the risk of raising eyebrows from one and many, I have to admit that I haven’t read The Namesake yet.

The first story in the book is ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ and I was lost in this book right from the first page and there’s no use in pretending otherwise. The common theme in all these stories is that they narrate about the NRI lives and their everyday nuisance. Be it a mother daughter bonding, or the relationship between a man and his granddaughter or the unwanted helping hand of a well-wishing friend… again it may be about love or friendship or jealousy or abandonment... The stories visit different aspects of relationships and emotions with such a unique perspective that as a reader I questioned myself about a lot of it.

Vivid characters live among these pages – characters you will recognize and characters you may even empathize with. They aren’t extraordinary in their lives by any means, but it’s the author’s projection of them that make them seem extraordinary. In any other setting, I would have perhaps called for a bit more strength from some of the characters, but in these cases they were portrayed just right. Each trial and accomplishment of these characters felt like my own trials and accomplishments – such was the power of Ms.Lahiri’s prose.

I have had a couple of people telling me that they were a bit disappointed that some of the stories turned out to be depressing and so a word of advice for those who are yet to pick this book up (if there’s anyone’s left at all) -- Please do not expect the stories to be all sunshine and rainbow. The stories are closer to reality than fiction and in real life there’s often no happily ever after.

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