29 November, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: #AuthorInterview with Cheryse Durrant

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

A Quick Recap of This Month's Posts


About the Author
Dead fingers curled around an ancient crypt and a love of Celtic mythology were the two inspirations behind Cheryse Durrant's The Blood She Betrayed, the first novel in her young adult/new adult Heart Hunters series. Durrant grew up on an Australian farm where she chatted to scrub faeries and an imaginary superhero. She wrote her first story on her aunt's bedroom wall when she was five, but it did not attract literary acclaim. She worked as a journalist for 15 years before trading her soul for fiction. The coffee/chocolate/strawberry addict now lives on the eastern Australian coast where she teaches writing through Creative Dragons and is an avid WriteFest fan.

An Interview with Ms.Durrant

Thank you, Ms.Durrant for agreeing to do this with me. So, you have been busy promoting your book all over the country. How did it go?
The tour was fabulous. I’ve met wonderful readers and bookstore owners across the country from the casual warmth of Queensland and her coastal islands down to the cooler, cultural metropolis of Melbourne. The tour has had many highs and lows from new fans queuing to get my autograph or a photo with me, to events where only a few readers showed up. My fave part of the tour was SupaNova where I got to be a fangirl myself as I was photographed alongside awesome authors and film/storybook characters. SupaNova fans would also buy my book one day and come back the next day to tell me how much they loved, after reading it overnight.

How did you get into writing and when did you first decide to publish your work?
When I was seven, I told my mother I wanted to be a writer. She said I had to go to university first. I solved that by studying a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. I had already won some writing awards, but when I was 16, I did work experience at a local newspaper and was thrilled to see my first news article in print with my byline. I saw journalism as a fascinating career where I could get paid to meet people and write about them, while using that paycheck to give me time to develop my fiction voice.

Do you have some unpublished work, written before The Blood She Betrayed that is closer to your heart than TBSB?
I love Shahkara and The Blood She Betrayed, but another story very close to my heart is Shards of Shenadesh, which I have been working on since I was fourteen. Shards is a Young Adult cross-world fantasy about four sisters, separated at birth, but each possessing amazing powers. I finished the first book in the trilogy about 12 years ago but the world-building in the second book weighed me down and I eventually put it out to pasture (that’s slang for ‘letting the cows retire’). I have about four or five manuscripts that I intend rewriting at some stage and I’m eager to revisit these characters, especially my Shards heroines. I’m just not ready to decide what to salvage and what to throw on the chopping block. 

From conceiving an idea to marketing the book – it’s a long process. Which part of it did you enjoy the most?
I love the dream weaving and story building – that magical moment when snatches of character and conversation flash through your mind and you keep playing with the pieces until the kaleidoscope becomes a tightly-plotted tapestry. I’m still gob-smacked that these stories and characters come from my head. I’m shy, quiet, ordinary, there’s nothing fantastical about me, but my imagination is magic.
The other thrilling part about being a writer is when you transform an ugly scene a passage of beauty. My drafts are rough and inadequate. Discomfort stirs the pit of my stomach when I sit down to polish a scene because it’s hard and difficult work – and I never quite believe that I can transform it – but once I’ve nailed, I’m filled with this quiet bliss – until I move onto the next ugly scene that also requires a mental chainsaw!

When you write, do you get into the character and decide the course of events or do you shape them as the plot requires them to be?
As a novice writer, my stories were always a journey of discovery. Characters formed in my mind and I wrote to find out who they were and what would happen. Since then, I’ve grown as an author. I’ve learnt to brainstorm in more detail. The characters still tell me what to do, but they do it while still in my mind, not once I’ve written 40,000 words of nonsensical crud. To create a commercially viable novel, you need to tweak the characters’ motivational arcs to ensure there is enough conflict within the storyline. If there isn’t, throw a little more fuel on the fire! Readers love that.

We have read about how broken bones failed to shatter your Shahkara dream. Writing, telling stories requires a lot of sacrifices along the way – are they all worth it – irrespective of the scale of success of the book?
Life sacrifices are about giving up what’s not important so we can have/achieve what is important. That’s why I’m an author, and I love being an author. I love imagining up characters, I love seeing raw words become passion and story, and I love hearing from fans that my book brought them joy – that they stayed up all night reading it because they couldn’t put it down. Even if I have to work another day job the rest of my life to support my writing addiction or I die penniless, the sacrifice is worth it – I have become what I instinctively always felt I should be – a storyteller. (and hopefully I won’t die penniless)
I don’t know if I was ever destined to write or if I just became so stubbornly determined that it was what I wanted that it eventually happened. Any sort of creativity – be it art, writing, music or craft – is a gift. They nourish the soul. Writing nourishes my soul. If my words and stories can inspire others, that’s icing on the cake.

Ever suffered from writer’s block? What is the best way around it – especially if you are on a deadline?
For me, writer’s block is borne from fear of writing badly or disappointing the reader or critic. I’m sure there are many talented wordsmiths out there who never wrote that all-important novel because they couldn’t get past the ugliness of the first draft or the first page. Nora Roberts says: “You can’t edit a blank page.” You have to get down and dirty, and wallow in the trenches. Sometimes that means brainstorming. Sometimes that means accepting that the deadline restricts your brilliance. Sometimes it means removing yourself from your computer and journeying into the real world to smell the roses and laugh and dance. I think most writer’s block is by doing what we often postpone: writing. Even if the words are ugly or the dialogue or plot doesn’t make sense, we need to write. Eventually, that writing will show us the way.

Do you think your long stint as a journalist has helped shape your career in a certain manner?
Being a sub-editor taught me to be economical with words, possibly too economical with words! My journalism career taught me how to write well and inject colour into my words, but I also had to un-teach myself a lot of style restrictions, for example, news writing is often very factual and without character, it’s only the bare bones of storytelling. I had to learn how to add flesh and fashion. The other fabulous way in which journalism has helped me is that I have a strong knowledge of media channels. This has helped me understand traditional and non-traditional media forms and how to utilize them to help promote my book. But it’s still a hard road for an unknown debut author.

All writers are readers first… Who and what are your favourites? Do you think your favourite authors have also had an influence on your writing style?
Two of my childhood favourites were Beauty & the Beast and The Ordinary Princess (MM Kaye). Both of these stories deal with breaking down stereotypes so it’s not surprising that I came full circle to eventually write about similar themes. My heroines always fight a handicap or challenge that they consider a sin or weakness (often because of perceived social stereotypes). It’s only when they tap into that deepest part of themselves and discover that they can use their weaknesses as a strength that they’re able to free themselves, achieve their goals and (often) save the world. 

Some rapid fire questions:
- Your favourite Movie:  The Wedding Date
- Your favourite genre of Music:  Film soundtracks
- Your favourite Cuisine: Korean (unless coffee and chocolate are cuisines)
- Your first celebrity Crush: Pierce Brosnan (Remington Steele and James Bond)
- Top thing on your Bucket List: Get Published. Hang on. I’ve done that!

Quick Choices:
- Poirot or Ms.Marple: I love Christie’s characters, but I’m Australian so I have to vote for the amazing Phryne Fisher (created by Kerry Greenwood)
- Ocean’s 11 or Die Hard: Die Hard
- Tea or Coffee: Coffee. Half-strength cappuccino on skim milk.
- Pizza or Pasta:  Pasta.
- Dystopian or Fantasy: Fantasy, preferably urban fantasy.


What would you like to say to the people who haven’t read your book yet but are contemplating picking it up?
If you haven’t read for a long time, this book is for you; if you’re looking for romance, this book is still for you; and if you have no desire to read fantasy or urban fantasy, this book is still for you. It’s not about genre, it’s about story. Enter the world of Max and Shahkara and you will be changed forever. I promise. BTW, here’s the book trailer…


Special note to Debdatta:
DDS, Thank you so much for hosting me as the Special Feature Author for November. It was more challenging than I thought, juggling this with my physical author tour, but I’ve loved being part of your feature and I wish you and your website all the best for the future. Hugs, Cher xox

Thank YOU Ms.Durrant! You have made everything so easy and it was a pleasure knowing MORE about you :)

Her Book
The Blood She Betrayed
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Paperback Released: October 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9875538-6-7
eBook Release: Coming soon (within the next week)
ISBN: 978-0-9872717-9-2

To save her kingdom, she must betray her blood…
Thrust into the technology-driven Earthlands via magical mists, Shahkara is forced to rely on Max McCalden to help find the ancient Elnara death lantern, her homeworld’s last chance of survival against the heart-devouring Taloners.
Max has his own problems – a manipulative billionaire father, a murdered brother – but nothing prepares him for this fugitive warrior’s razor-sharp talons and magical abilities.
Shahkara’s half-Taloner blood demands what she knows she can’t have – a human heart. She longs for love, but as deadly enemies attack at every turn, will her lust for Max destroy them both? Or will she find the strength to free both worlds from a threat more horrific than the demons that share her blood?

Stalk the Author

Buy the Books
eBook link: To download the first 12 chapters FOR FREE, go to http://www.clandestinepress.com.au/content/blood-she-betrayed-launch-giveaway

Other Buy Links

Giveaway
3 kindle copies of The Blood She Betrayed - International
And an autographed paperback to one lucky Australian winner.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

28 November, 2013

#BookReview :: Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones #3) by Helen Fielding

When Helen Fielding first wrote Bridget Jones' Diary, charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s, she introduced readers to one of the most beloved characters in modern literature. The book was published in 40 countries, sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, and spawned a best-selling sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. The two books were turned into major blockbuster films starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
     With her hotly anticipated third installment, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Fielding introduces us to a whole new enticing phase of Bridget's life set in contemporary London, including the challenges of maintaining sex appeal as the years roll by and the nightmare of drunken texting, the skinny jean, the disastrous e-mail cc, total lack of Twitter followers, and TVs that need 90 buttons and three remotes to simply turn on.
     An uproariously funny novel of modern life, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is a triumphant return of our favorite Everywoman.


Bridget Jones is back with a bang! Now in her 50s, Bridget still packs a lot of power.

The story begins when Bridget is a widow and a single mom to her two kids. She has lost Darcy to an accident about four years back and has finally accepted her life as it is without him. Now on the look out to get back to the dating scene and find herself a new lover, Bridget takes on a new adventure. Her friends are still there and still the same. 

I have always loved Bridget Jones because she is not perfect. She is a little bit on the heavier side when it comes to her body, she is insecure and very much clumsy – and that is exactly what we all are – imperfect in some way or the other. It makes it so much easier to connect to characters that are true to life and easier to relate to. In this third installment, Helen Fielding has kept Bridget true to her nature. Worrying about how her love life may affect her children, trying to catch up to the latest trends and all the insecurities that come after losing your partner of over a decade. At the same time we also realize that she has matured over the years, as we see her interacting with her kids, while staying true to her essence. Yeah well, I think I can go on about Bridget for pages. So let us just move on to the next point – the plot. It is simple yet the journey is as unexpected as it is Bridget on the driving seat. I love Helen’s sense of humour and comic timing… The book will make you laugh throughout and even at odd situations. 

I know for a fact that a lot of Bridget Jones fans are mad about Darcy being killed off… But then from the very beginning it has been Bridget’s story. Not Bridget and Mark’s story – but just Bridget’s story. And so the story continues even with him gone and that should slowly sink in as Bridget continues toiling through her life. 

Awesome book… A must read for all Bridget Jones and Chic-lit Fans.


Buy This Book




27 November, 2013

#BookReview :: The Conversationalist by Justin Bog

The Conversationalist---(A Novella)---a psychological thriller set in the San Juan Islands area and centered in today's dating scene.
There's something wrong with Patrick. People whisper about him; most want to help him, as if he's a songless bird with a broken wing, make him a project, set him up on a date with a best friend . . .
On one such date, Wendy sits across from Patrick and tells him she's afraid to die. She wonders what it's like. What if this is all there is? "My mother died a year ago . . . horribly," she says. Patrick listens; it's all he's pretending to do.
There's something wrong with the way Patrick treats the women he dates, his friends, his family . . . no one can ever get close to Patrick, and no one will ever be able to uncover his secret.




The Conversationalist is set in the San Juan Islands with the basic theme of modern day dating scene. Patrick is the odd one out in the town and everyone thinks that there is something wrong with him. Living in his deceased parents’ cottage we get a glimpse into Patrick’s life and his mind all the while he struggles to ‘date’.

This Novella is aptly tagged as a psychological thriller. In most cases, we see that the psychological aspect just touches the base and thrills without an edge – but not in this case. Justin Bog delves right into these aspects through Patrick, the oddball and Wendy, the woman obsessed with death. It is difficult to discuss the plot without giving out spoilers and so all I will say about it is that it is nothing like anything that you can guess. It is different and twisted and has a magnetic quality to it that keeps the reader turning it very few pages. And yeah, that is another quality that I admire about this author. He tells us all his fascinating stories using minimal words and yet create an effect that even very complicating novels can fail in creating. As I turned (or swiped on my kindle) to the last page, I felt like I was in a trance that broke with the blank space at the end of the book.

When I first read Justin Bog’s Sandcastle and other stories, I was taken aback by his dark themes and gritty writing style. As I re-read a few of the stories from Sandcastle before picking up this one, I felt that I was more ready for what was to come. Yet I was taken by surprise once again. Almost like standing on a train track and waiting for a train to make it through the last bend, and then all of a sudden it is just there. I don’t have words for the experience that this book brings with – you have to experience it for yourself! So don’t wait – just pick it up… NOW!



Buy this Book

26 November, 2013

#BookReview :: A Calamitous Chinese Killing (Inspector Singh Investigates #6) by Shamini Flint

Inspector Singh's expertise is required in China in his sixth adventure, as he battles political intrigue to get to the bottom of a very murky and complex crime Inspector Singh is on a mission to China, against his better judgment. The son of a bigwig at the Singapore Embassy has been bludgeoned to death in a back alley in Beijing. The Chinese security insist that he was the victim of a robbery gone wrong, but the young man's mother demands that Singapore's finest (in his own opinion) rides to the rescue. But solving a murder in a country that practices socialism "with Chinese characteristics" is a dangerous business, and it soon becomes apparent that getting to the bottom of this calamitous killing will be his toughest case yet.





Though this is the sixth book in the series, this is my first time reading a Shamini Flint book. The books in the Inspector Singh Series are standalones and can be read as such, but I wish I had started with book one. It would have been an enjoyable experience to see Inspector Singh’s character develop right from the beginning.

Inspector Singh is the best of Singapore Law Enforcement – well at least according to him. So when a bloody death rocks the Singapore Embassy in China, Inspector Singh is the one handling this case. As he travels to China to investigate, he discovers that the son of an Embassy Official has been murdered and the bludgeoned body was found in a back alley in Beijing. While the Chinese official’s claim that it is a robbery gone bad, the victim’s mother is convinced otherwise. What is supposed to be a simple murder case, soon turns into something much more sinister including organ harvesting, environmental issues and gang wars. To make things even more difficult, the local politics is a force to contend with.

Like I said at the very beginning, it would have been fun to have read the books in order so as to see the character of Inspector Singh develop from early on. He is not what one expects from a lead detective in a mystery novel. He is short, fat man who enjoys his food and drinks equally. He is also very unorthodox in his approach and course of action. I was taken aback at first, but then the character grew on me pretty quickly. The cast of this story has a minimum number of characters and to keep all the surprise elements of the story intact, I will only say that while the group is small, it still offers a variety in flavor. The plot is also simple and thus for a hardcore mystery fanatic like me, it was pretty obvious after a while, especially since there weren’t many twists in the story. The author rounds up her work with simple language and narrative style that balances the story well.

It was fun to stumble across China with Inspector Singh and watch his unorthodox methods bring justice.



Buy This Book



25 November, 2013

#ReleaseDayBlitz :: Slide by Michelle Congdon

After surviving a horrific car accident that claimed the lives of her mother and brother, Evangeline made a promise to herself to never go back to the city filled with the memories of her tragic past. But when her estranged father suddenly falls ill, she has no choice but to return to New York and to the life she spent twelve years trying to avoid.

Since the accident, heiress to the multi-billion dollar Montgomery Empire, Evangeline has always feared the media attention that comes with having the Montgomery name and would immediately give it all up if it meant the chance to bring back her loved ones. Delicate and camera shy, the last person she should have on her mind is a type of guy like Ryan Fox.

Witty, extremely arrogant but undeniably good-looking are only a few words Evangeline can use to describe the New York Yankee’s hot-shot. The notorious bad boy― well-versed at playing the game both on and off the field― isn't fazed about the media circus following his every move and couldn't be anymore different to the quiet, shy girl that she is. So, what does a guy like him see in somebody as messed-up as her? And although everything about Ryan screams trouble with a capital T, why can't Evangeline seem to stay away? It's not until they're away from the cameras that Evangeline begins to see the real man hiding behind the cocky facade- one that's hurt and haunted by a dark and terrible secret.

What will happen once Evangeline finds the courage to reveal what really happened on the evening her mother and brother died? And how will she react when she finally learns the truth about Ryan's chilling past? Will baring their deepest secrets bring them closer together or will it tear them apart and have them sliding into darkness all over again?


The Book Releases Today!

MEET RYAN FOX


Full name: Ryan Aaron Fox
Age: 24
Date of birth: 15th February 1989
Race: American/ Italian
Gender: Male
Height: 6’4
Weight: 205lb
Eye color: Greenish Hazel
Distinguishing features: Dimple on left cheek
Build of body: Tall, Athletic
Hair color: Dark Brown
Hair style: Wavy, Medium Length
Complexion: Olive

Current residence: New York City
Occupation: Pitcher for the New York Yankees
Hometown: New Jersey
Parents: Joseph & Serafina Fox
Siblings: Chiara, Liliana, Gabriella & Annabelle
Hobbies/past times: Collecting sports cars and artwork, attending and supporting local charities, spending time with family, watching the NBL, modeling.
Talents: Highest paid baseball player in the MLB to date.
Favorite types of music: R&B, Alternative, Old School Rock.
Favorite types of food: Mom’s homemade Italian cooking, Sushi and Pizza.
Favorite types of drink: Beer, Scotch and vintage Champagne.

Ryan picked up his first baseball at the tender age of six. He played throughout his school years and was drafted into the major leagues by the New York Yankees two weeks before his sixteenth birthday. He played his first game in the same week, placing him in the same category as some of youngest players in the world.

During the past eight years, Ryan has impressed the baseball world by winning two MVP Awards, Rookie of the Year and two Cy Young Awards. He has also made six All-Star game appearances.

When not busy training, playing ball or modeling for endorsements, Ryan likes to spend his down time helping his favorite charities, going to NBL games and going out with his friends and teammates.

He would do absolutely anything for his family and is very protective of his sisters, especially Annabelle. Since his father’s passing, Ryan has made it his duty to be a strong, positive role model to his youngest sister.

Ryan has had no previous relationships due to his baseball commitments. He prefers to have one-night stands, so neither party has time to develop feelings. That is until Evangeline Montgomery walked into his life…

About the Author

Michelle Congdon resides in Sydney, Australia. She has a Dalmatian named Jett, who to this day continues to hold an 8 year grudge against her after she had to leave him with her parents when she moved to the big city- this only proves animals are much like their owners. Michelle enjoys reading books of all sorts of genre's, watching way too many movies and TV shows (and Disney cartoons), singing out aloud to her favorite hits and going on adventures involving food and travel. Michelle is loud, talks a lot and shares an ever-growing list of fictional husbands with a friend. From when she was a small girl, she has always had an overactive imagination and has tried to put it to good use by sharing her stories with anyone willing to listen.

Blog I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads



22 November, 2013

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - A Fascination of Aliens and Dark Creatures by Cheryse Durrant

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

About the Author
Dead fingers curled around an ancient crypt and a love of Celtic mythology were the two inspirations behind Cheryse Durrant's The Blood She Betrayed, the first novel in her young adult/new adult Heart Hunters series. Durrant grew up on an Australian farm where she chatted to scrub faeries and an imaginary superhero. She wrote her first story on her aunt's bedroom wall when she was five, but it did not attract literary acclaim. She worked as a journalist for 15 years before trading her soul for fiction. The coffee/chocolate/strawberry addict now lives on the eastern Australian coast where she teaches writing through Creative Dragons and is an avid WriteFest fan.

A Fascination of Aliens and Dark Creatures


Growing up in the dusty, parched heartlands of Australia never stunted my love of speculative fiction, even though my parents often thought I’d been swapped at birth.
From my youngest childhood years, I harboured a strong fascination for magic and fairytales, aliens and spaceships – the latter were surely hidden in the milky way galaxy that glowed like a fluorescent spider web in my outback sky at night.
The greatest spec fic influences of my youth were fuzzy BBC episodes of Blake’s 7 and Dr Who, that immortal, ever-regenerating icon celebrating his 50th anniversary this weekend.
For me, this TV series always stirred within me both fear and fascination.
I was fascinated by Tom Baker’s long scarf, rogue hair and that never-ending bag of jelly babies.
I was terrified by the cybermen and cybermats, ice warriors and Robots of Death, those and many others, all hell-bent on destroying the universe.
To protect myself, I’d sleep with a sheet thrown over my head, much to my mother’s disgust. “Don’t you realise those aliens on TV are make-believe?” she’d ask.
“They don’t scare me, Mum. I’m only worried about the real ones!”


For dark demons and alien creatures had already taken lodgings inside my mind and their stories soon tumbled out onto scraps of paper, for anyone to read.
By the time I was a teenager, I was writing full-length fantasy and sci fi novels – similar to what I read but with strong female heroines and Australian settings.
I suppose my Shahkara heroine and The Blood She Betrayed had always been waiting, dormant, inside me, waiting for a chance to be unleashed.
I just needed time – and the courage to believe I could write a story as powerful as this.
Fortunately, growing up in the Aussie bush taught me many lessons – about the power and honesty of character, the fear of the unknown and the magic of setting – all ingredients that I’ve hopefully translated into my action-packed Heart Hunters novels.
My family, to this day, struggle to understand my genre.
My parents and grandparents were always far more at home with saddles and stockyards than aliens and spaceships.
Even my nickname, Pint-pot, is a sentimental mutation of the Aussie word, quart-pot, the tiny billy-type jug that stockmen took when them while droving or mustering.
But even in Australia, Pint-pots can write about dragons and demons – and maybe bring magic to new readers, just as older writers like John Christopher and Terry Nation gave that magic to me.
Long live the doctor, and all the world’s spec fic icons – they bring joy and magic to our hearts.



Her Book
The Blood She Betrayed
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Paperback Released: October 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9875538-6-7
eBook Release: Coming soon (within the next week)
ISBN: 978-0-9872717-9-2

To save her kingdom, she must betray her blood…
Thrust into the technology-driven Earthlands via magical mists, Shahkara is forced to rely on Max McCalden to help find the ancient Elnara death lantern, her homeworld’s last chance of survival against the heart-devouring Taloners.
Max has his own problems – a manipulative billionaire father, a murdered brother – but nothing prepares him for this fugitive warrior’s razor-sharp talons and magical abilities.
Shahkara’s half-Taloner blood demands what she knows she can’t have – a human heart. She longs for love, but as deadly enemies attack at every turn, will her lust for Max destroy them both? Or will she find the strength to free both worlds from a threat more horrific than the demons that share her blood?


Book Trailer




Stalk the Author

Buy the Books
eBook link: To download the first 12 chapters FOR FREE, go to http://www.clandestinepress.com.au/content/blood-she-betrayed-launch-giveaway

Other Buy Links

Giveaway
3 kindle copies of The Blood She Betrayed - International
And an autographed paperback to one lucky Australian winner.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 November, 2013

#BookReview :: Sycamore Row (Jake Brigance #2) by John Grisham

'Fight them, Mr Brigance. To the bitter end. We must prevail.' 
Jake Brigance has never met Seth Hubbard, or indeed even heard of him, until the old man's suicide note names him attorney for his estate. The will is dynamite. Seth has left ninety per cent of his vast, secret fortune to his housemaid.
As the relatives contest the will, and unscrupulous lawyers hasten to benefit, Jake searches for answers to the many questions left by Seth Hubbard's death:
What made him write that last-minute will leaving everything to a poor black woman named Lettie Lang?
Why did he choose to kill himself on the desolate piece of land known as Sycamore Row?
And what was it that Seth and his brother witnessed as children that, in his words, 'no human should ever see'?


I had read A Time to Kill quite some time back. Though Sycamore Row can be treated as a stand-alone, I was under the impression that it’s a continuation of A Time to Kill and loved this chance to pick it up again. There are quite a few returning characters and as such brushing up again would also be a good idea.

Seth Hubbard, a rich businessman, was suffering from Lung Cancer. He decided to make a new will before committing suicide. That shouldn’t raise many eyebrows, except there are a few catches. This new will is handwritten, excludes his family and names Jake Brigance as the executor! Yeah… And the best part is that Seth excluded his family and passed on 90% of his wealth to his black housemaid… Double yeah! While Seth’s family rushes to contest the will, Jake is left to defend the will and its beneficiary; he must also find answers to so many questions – Why was he named as the executor? Why did Seth change his will at the last minute? Why did Seth choose to kill himself on the desolate piece of land known as Sycamore Row? And what did Seth and his brother witness and what effect did that have on the whole situation?

As a backlash of Jake’s previous case, where he successfully defended a black man accused of murder of the white rapists of his ten year old daughter, there is high racial tension in town. So, Seth’s decision to cut out his family for a black housemaid fed to this tension. But Jake Brigance once again handled his case brilliantly and proved to us that he is a character worth having us cheering in his corner. The pace of this novel is somewhat slow. But the 540-something pages are justified in building up the plot in a way so that as readers’ we can feel the tension and the pressure building up. Plus the twists in the end make it totally worth it.

I was feeling quite disappointed with Grisham’s works recently. Though they have their own place, the Theodore Boone series doesn’t really do justice to Grisham’s full potential. Sycamore Row comes just in time to remind us and to bring us a taste of what we were actually missing. 


Buy this Book





20 November, 2013

#BookReview :: Cherished by Lakshmi Menon


Grishma, accompanied by her father and four month old baby, boards the train to Delhi to join her husband Praveen. She decides to give him an unexpected visit. Little does she know that her journey will end in havoc to her life. 19 years later, Grishma's daughter Jyothi, longing for her father's love and support, determines to search for him, despite her mother's strong protests. Will Praveen accept her as his daughter?

This is the story of Jyothi's pursuit of parental love, which she considers as her legitimate right.





When Grishma, with her four month old daughter Jyothi, arrives back at her home at Delhi to surprise her husband Praveen, she is the one who is left shocked and surprise. Grishma then goes on to raise her daughter alone after what she deemed as her husband’s betrayal. But a nineteen year old Jyothi wants to know her dad and while moving into a new college she takes the initiative to contact her father. This starts a whole new journey for all three parties involved – Grishma, Jyothi and Praveen.

‘Cherished’ is essentially an emotional story about different relationships and their dynamics. What Grishma deemed as betrayal was merely a misunderstanding and her lack of interest in communication with Praveen, gave Jyothi a completely different life from what could have been. Jyothi on the other hand picks up that line of communication with her father to begin a new chapter in her life. While as a third party watching this story unfold, I had an advantage of seeing the whole picture. But the people involved in the story are very much like us – often blaming others and unable to see the whole picture.  The fact is that though we all know that communicating with people and trust make the base of any relationship, we often forget to implement it in our lives and that is what happens in this story too. I loved the way the author built up and portrayed her characters. It is like you can see each character through the other’s eyes and then you see the whole picture. The pace is set perfectly in order to spread over the characters building, emotions and situations equally. The plot sounds simple enough but deals a heavy hand of a myriad of emotions.

Overall, it is a fast read that will take only a couple of hours and good for a lazy afternoon!



Buy the Book

18 November, 2013

#BookReview :: Gods, Kings & Slaves: The Siege of Madurai by R. Venketesh

War is coming... An ancient kingdom will meet a devastating new enemy.
Peninsular India, fourteenth century. The Pandyan empire is at its peak, its enemies subdued and its people at peace. Having left behind his step-brother Sundar in the race to the throne, Crown Prince Veera Pandyan is set to rule from Madurai, reputed to be the richest city in the subcontinent. But invisible fractures within the kingdom threaten to destroy it, and a new enemy approaches, swifter than anyone can imagine.
In Delhi, Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s trusted general, the eunuch Malik Kafur, has trained his eyes on the distant south, fabled for its riches. A slave captured by the Khiljis, Kafur is renowned for his ambition and cunning. None, not even the mighty Mongols, have defeated him – no empire can withstand the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. And all he wants is to see Madurai on its knees, its wealth pillaged, its temples destroyed.
As an ancient city combusts in flames of treachery, bloodlust and revenge, brother will battle brother, ambition will triumph over love, slaves will rise to rule, cities will be razed to dust, and the victor will be immortalized in history...


Mythological and Historical fiction are the latest fad in Indian market and I am grateful because I love these more than the same love story being told over and over again. 

Gods, Kings & Slaves is however quite different from what I have read so far. Frankly speaking, I have very little knowledge about the South Indian History. I know only the very basics and that too the outlines of the historical events. So, instead of researching about the period before picking up the book, I decided to let this book tell me the story. With the Pandayan Empire at its heights, Crown Prince Veera Pandyan is all set to rule his kingdom from Madurai. Malik Kafur is Sultan Alauddin Khilji’s trusted general who has his eyes on Madurai – a city well known for its riches and culture. Kafur is a cunning and ambitious. What plots have been set in motions and what roles do these men play in the siege of Madurai? Read to find out.

The books best superiority lies in the way the author has set up the intricate plot and all the while adding flavours to it by including the well known events from that era. Detailed description and well fleshed out characters only adds to the glamour of this title. Having no clue about this character beforehand, Kafur was the most interesting character in the novel. I enjoyed seeing him grow as the plot evolved and often found myself trying to get into his head. An interesting part of history requires great narration to do it justice and the author has managed it well.

There’s love, betrayal, treachery, ambition and every other element that you can think of to make a story interesting. History fan or a fiction fan – this book caters to the individual need of every reader.



Buy this Book





17 November, 2013

#BookBlast :: Cherished by Lakshmi Menon



Grishma, accompanied by her father and four month old baby, boards the train to Delhi to join her husband Praveen. She decides to give him an unexpected visit. Little does she know that her journey will end in havoc to her life. 19 years later, Grishma's daughter Jyothi, longing for her father's love and support, determines to search for him, despite her mother's strong protests. Will Praveen accept her as his daughter?

This is the story of Jyothi's pursuit of parental love, which she considers as her legitimate right.





Buy Links:
Amazon I Flipkart

Excerpt:

As soon as the bell rang Jyothi became nervous.  All this time it seemed an eternity before she could meet her father in person, but now when the time has really arrived she was not sure about her feelings.  Was she afraid of meeting the unseen father for the first time? Was she eager to meet him now? Was she angry with him for leaving her alone with her mother, all these years?  Unknowingly, her eyes brimmed with tears.
She walked with Vidya and Meena to the gate. She could hear her heart beating fast. She spotted a new handsome face behind the gate, a few feet away, standing alone from the crowd - a tall figure, with a smile, holding a Reader’s Digest in hand, and looking at her.
"My baby!” he whispered, at the moment their eyes locked. All her fears vanished. Like a magnet Jyothi ran to him and said, 'Papa' and clung to his extended arms as though she was a little girl who was running away to a safer place to hide. For a moment, she forgot about the surroundings, and tears rolled down her cheeks.  After a minute or two, she recomposed and released herself from his embrace.  Her father wiped away her tears as her friends still watched the emotional scene and wiped their tears of joy.  She never thought she could run to him with absolutely no hesitation.  The other girls of the College also wondered at this unusual happening in front of the College gate.
 Jyothi had hundreds of questions to ask her father, which she had been preparing for a long time to ask him. However, now it seemed there was no need for words to communicate with him at least for a while, standing with the man whom she couldn't call Dad all these years, and whom she secretly loved and  worshipped.  
As though as a second thought, she smiled at her friends whom she had left ignored for a while in the presence of her long lost father. "Papa, meet my friends Vidya and Meena. They’re my best mates, who had always assured me that I'd be able to meet you one day,” she proudly turned to her father.
"Hello children," he gazed at them with a smile.
"We're glad that Jyothi has got her father now,' said Meena.

About the Author:
Born and brought up in Kerala, Lakshmi Menon, after her primary education, moved to Karnataka where she did her graduation(BA)  and courses in Journalism and Creative Writing.  Even while working  with a prestigious medical institution, she continued her passion of writing on her free time. Her short stories, articles, children’s stories and travel articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers, anthologies and on the internet.  She has authored a novel “The Second Choice” and few children’s books. In Malayalam too, she has written a serial novel  and a few short stories. Travelled widely and settled in Bangalore, Lakshmi is  the Founder and Editor of the popular eMagazine Induswomanwriting.com, which  showcases the work of both the amateur and published writers.

Connect with the Author:
Blog I Twitter I Pinterest I Goodreads