31 July, 2014

#BookReview :: Beyond School by Chitra Anand

Beyond School centres upon the weeks leading up to 17-year-old Shail s final board exams, as his world becomes a pressure-cooker and the weight of preparing for the exams sends him fleeing rebelliously in the other direction. Along with Shail s journey from boyhood to manhood, Beyond School vividly weaves between the narratives of four main characters, seamlessly uniting the past and present of Shail, his parents-Urmila and Sushil and his mentor-Gladys, in a story that is honest, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately, incredibly human.

‘Beyond School’ is the story of a twelfth grade boy with a secret. Shail studies in an Indian school in Muscat and is due for his board exams. However, instead of studying, Shail spends time by sleeping, watching TV, and texting on his phone. His parents are at their wits end trying to get their son to study. Little do they know that Shail plans not to appear for his boards exams and pursue with his interest in football. Finally, as a last try, Shail’s parents contact Gladys, a counselor at Shail’s school regarding their son. Gladys comes into the picture and changes everything with her patience, experience and wits.

This is a coming of age book that has been handled in a very different manner from the usual potboilers. The plot is simple and almost predictable with a heartwarming quality to it. There are certain sub-plots that keep in rhythm with the main plot and add to the story. However the pace could have been faster. Shail is a typical boy of the modern generation who loves football so much so that he plans to give up his education in order to pursue his dreams. He is impatient and snarky, yet loveable. Gladys, on the other hand, is the kind of woman who can change lives for the better and students are lucky to have her around. I loved her practical and no nonsense approach. 

The writing style of the author is simple and inviting. She has managed to intricately weave in the many issues of the society today and the many facets of modern youth into the story quite expertly. This is a book that is fun and educating at the same time.

"This review is a part of the Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books visit thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com"

29 July, 2014

#BookReview :: False Witness by Randy Singer

An Explosive Secret. 
An Invaluable Code. 
An Unreliable Witness

Three ambitious law students at a local legal aid clinic watch as their routine case representing a man named David Hoffman ignites an incendiary trail of deception and betrayal. A member of the witness protection program, Hoffman has defrauded the government and eluded the Mob’s pursuit of his stunning secret: a coded algorithm capable of crippling the Internet and disarming national security. 

Because of the intense threat posed by such a code, federal agents want Hoffman dead or alive. But the Mob wants him alive, more than willing to obtain the algorithm by whatever means necessary. And the would-be lawyers–caught in the middle of this deadly triangle–must overcome their differences and work together if they’re to survive long enough to graduate. 

On one hand we have Professor Kumari and his young protégée trying to sell an algorithm, but the dealgoes sideways and soon Professor Kumari is on the run. Enter Clark Shealy, a professional bail bondsman, whose wife has been kidnapped and has 48 hours to locate Professor Kumari or his wife suffers the consequences. Then we have Attorney Jamie Brock and a man named David Hoffman to account for in the same plot. Deceit, betrayal, murder and lots of action packed into one novel – False Witness.

This is my first time reading a Randy Singer novel and frankly it reminded me of a James Patterson Novel. Short chapters, fast pace and action from the very beginning… However, Randy Singer stands on his own and holds the fort quite well. The characters in this book come from varied backgrounds with different colours and they are all interesting. I particularly liked Jessica’s, Clark Shealy’s wife, spirit. I wish there was more of a scope for her. I also liked the three law students and hope they will return in some other book as I would love to get to know them better. Each character had different shades in them. Good guys were not overly good and the bad guys weren’t completely bad and this particular aspect is what I liked the most in Randy Singer’s characterization. 

There is action, drama and suspense – a full fledged thriller that has you turning the pages right till the end.

Review Copy from:

#SpecialFeature :: An #Interview with #Author B.P.Manning

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - July 2014 ***

About the Book
Ever the consummate professional, years of staunch dedication paid dividend when Hollywood made Julia Berwick the offer of a lifetime, an alluring proposition she could not refuse. Michael Dunhill——rumored a resurrected knave——emerged as the man brandishing the check. A renowned scoundrel with whom her alliance was now linked, an association she soon discovered came with dire stipulations attached. 
Coerced into partaking in a tryst, Julia soon found her agreement to be a severe miscalculation. Locked now in a battle of will and lascivious demands with the handsome Adonis himself, the simplicity of lust quickly spiraled into rivalry, as both drudged further in their quest to outwit, outlast and outmaneuver the other.   

An Interview
How did your life as a writer begin?
Writing for me started with puberty, though it eventually became a long drawn out, well overdue process, so much so that it was almost eerie when the decision was finally made. Thankfully, once I committed myself, I took to writing like a fish to water. I absolutely loved it. All the years I spent locked in a world overrun with my imagination, now set free, sprung fully to life. 

What makes you feel inspired to write?
It’s the emotions that resonate from whatever the scenario or how, and the fluidity of that process that usually moves me. Sometimes it comes as a faint whisper, at others it’s like a bombardment. The inspiration to be creative is like a long lost friend, an enemy and a lover all rolled in one. It comes to you in the dark or in the midst of a crowded room, yet even so it always grants you intrigue. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Sadly, it feels more factual to say the story came to me. Dites Oui is the result of what seemed an ongoing barrage of dialogue spanning almost fifteen years. The characters Michael and Julia were just the loudest, the most persistent and the most intense I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I’m not sure how most writers get the voices to simmer, but I learned over the years that if you listen and put the ideas on paper the intensity ease. Michael and Julia, for reasons I have yet to understand, did not do that, so when I finally decided to write an actual book that others would actually read, there was only one choice. 

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of  writer?
I think I’m more fixedly a mixture of both. When an idea comes to me, the process, after a time, slowly falls into focus and the “how” in that scenario, many times, walks just as clearly alongside the plot. But there are also times when all you have is the certainness of how a scenario ends, and your only option then is to write until you get the essence of the story to feel the way you sense it should.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Oddly, it’s rather like a mother giving birth to triplets then asking her to pick which of her infants to give away. It’s really very hard to choose, but I think I finally narrowed it to two. The first is Julia’s trek to Michael’s house after agreeing to have a weekend tryst, and Michael’s proposal. In the first, I thought Julia was so rigidly locked away from the world and even herself that I felt someone like that would likely forget to ask the most basic information needed, information most would have likely thought to ask. She also needed to be placed outside her perfectly constructed box, and challenged some. Her experience was like getting a small tap from reality. In Michael’s proposal, I thought it suited his personality of being a public figure yet really wanting much of himself to remain private. Only someone as waggishly devious, confident and as keenly complex as Michael would think to outsmart everyone in as blatant a way as he did.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Happily, no. No character traits were taken from me, I think my personality is a little too atypical for that, but Rachel and Richard are well spliced with the personalities of my children.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
As of this date, I haven’t notice any writing quirks to speak of, only my lack of discipline in the process. In all aspect of my life, I am organize, discipline and thorough. Yet somehow I find myself being someone almost fully opposite of that when I write. My desk, more often than not, is a cluttered, dusty mess. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I am an avid reader. I can, and have, given up just about anything to read, sleep, food and life outside of the pages of my book is of no value. Jane Austen and Kathleen Woodiwiss are two of my favorite authors. I’ve read and reread their books too many times to comfortably list, but something about their writing relaxes me. If either author had an influence on my writing it would have to be in the way each women honed their descriptive. I love the language used in both their writing styles, but mostly I love the pictures they grant you from such beautiful descriptive. I like to see the story unfold in my mind as I read and I hope as a writer I’ve done that for my readers.
Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I’m sure it sounds very strange, but I don’t have a bucket list. I’m an only child and an introvert, trust me I’ve come a long way since childhood, one who probably secretly wished to be an extrovert. I’m fascinated by things, many things, and with that curiosity comes my need to learn. I’ll research anything; if something pulls my attention then I want to know more, which eventually include experiencing what it’s all about. I try always to embody the list instead of making one and experience everything I can. Earning the freedom to travel more would be all there is, and of course to experience what comes with that.
Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before that never saw the light of day?
Yes, many. I have enough notebooks tucked away to hurt the hearts of tree lovers everywhere, myself included. For some reason letting anyone know I actual wrote seemed so presumptuous to my young mind, something an introvert just could not do, so I spent a near lifetime scribbling and tucking them all away in boxes. The current book I’m working on is the first story that I ever took the time to plot from start to finish. I have about six in similar condition, all of which I hope to finish in the coming future

About the Author

A ravenous reader with equal passion for travel and the plotting of anything new, my love of words seemed, at times, a blotch on the very core of my DNA, and has been the recurrent source of many jests from my children—the title nerd has been established more than once.  Yet the sound, meaning and inference, cannot be more beautiful than those in the notes of a newly toned word, or in the coupling of such to lay forth a vision. With as little as a single word we can open the world to those around us, garner a smile or lay bare intrigue. Yes, such morpheme can wrought a symphony when showcased at its best, doth those cords strum you as it does me? Then smile, as I am with you.  Salacious and sweet, it wrung further forward as your key.
As you can see, I’m clearly odd in my thinking, odd in my views and downright peculiar in my descriptive and the structure in which I write. Among my many faults, a fact I’m sure you’ve already surmised, emotions are my perpetual weakness. I’m wooed by it, seduced and persuaded by it, touched and enthralled by the various colliery of it all. Whatever the scenario or the plot that charged through my thoughts, the emotional furor in each turn scramble just as eagerly through, be it harsh or be it sweet, the significance is still the same. It’s the medicine I search for when I read, it’s the way I interact with my children and, in many aspect, the way I live my life. 

1 Paperback Copy for US Residents
1 Digital Copy for International Readers

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28 July, 2014

#BookReview :: Magic of Thieves (Legends of Dimmingwood #1) by C. Greenwood

In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.

But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall? 

The story begins with a small girl and her family being chased out of their homes by Praetor’s menas they attempt at cleansing the land of all magic. Having lost both her parents in one night, the child survives with the help of a neighbor who then sends her off to the another land to be with other magicians, who can help her wield her own power. But as fate would have it, she lands up among a band of thieves and is adopted by Brig – a soft hearted one. As she grows up among the band, she has to keep her magic a secret. She is soon joined by Terrac, a wannabe priest. Things get stirred up and soon Ilan is looking for revenge… Will she be able to avenge Brig’s death. What is in store for her next?

Ilan is a character that I had a love-hate connection with throughout. Though she is the only girl among the band of thieves, I think we should cut her some slack. But still, I could not understand her outbursts against Brig and Terrac and neither could I understand her fascination towards Rideon or the Red Hand. Terrac is a comparatively straightforward character that I liked. But I liked Brig the most. The plot read more like a prequel to the actual story. It reminded me of the prequel novellas to the Throne of glass series. I am guessing that the actual story of Ilan going up against or along with Praetor is the actual storyline that we are going to see in the coming instalments. The narration style of the author is however, simple and easy to get into. 

Overall this makes for an interesting fast and easy read.

26 July, 2014

#Interview :: Temba Magorimbo, #Author of Lake of My Heart

 Naomi is slightly shorter than Trevor with a broad smile and dimples when the mood is upon her. Trevor on his part is taller and broader with a good sense of humour. He used to like her laughter especially when she threw her head up exposing her tender neck. She loved his dance, his jokes and his behaviour when he was walking drunk. Give and take their differences, they are only human beings living in a melting pot of an economy. Their differences seem to be growing now in their marriage. What is wrong with marriage, Trevor constantly asks himself? Is it worth it to call a spade a spade and divorce? Then he checks in his mirror to look at the walking mistakes of broken homes. How will his little children fare without him or their mother? Since both of them are young, they will certainly remarry. One only needs to read the daily newspaper Monday to Friday to find court cases of step parents who have abused their charges. Can they work out their marriage? Trevor starts from the back looking at the days he had dated Naomi to seek and destroy that which causes them to separate. How is he going to deal with her moods, her temper tantrums and his own need to hold the green bottle? With three children, a mortgaged house, both parents having degrees and the economy in free fall, times are tough mentally for both Naomi and Trevor. Can they hold on until the end as the Zimbabwean political circus and national elections collide?

How did your life as a writer begin?
I started writing when I was less than twelve years old. In those days, in Rhodesia there was a radio program by Hilton Mambo that featured a Doctor Bobo who was a villain and Jason Zonk and his friends who were law abiding citizens. I tried copying them by creating my own villain and law abiding citizens stories. The stories (then) had no endings [maybe they were meant to be series]. Then I read Franklin W. Dickson [the Hardy Boys] and Caroline Keene [Nancy Drew]. I tried creating American based characters with a fictitious city. That was between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.

What makes you feel inspired to write?
I like to be creative. I believe creative fiction writing is the only trade where one can be what they research to be. One can be a doctor, a mistress, a lecturer albeit in fiction. When I read an ordinary web post I feel I need to expand on it.

How did you come with the idea for your current story?
Which one of my stories? Okay, let’s pick one, Lake Of My Heart, it is a general romance novel. It started as a short story looking at the possibility of divorce for a middle aged couple which later expanded into a fully-fledged fiction piece. I fell in love with the characters such that I was unable to separate them forever.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
I plan maybe a single page, go back and create what looks like a short story. I outline. Then I create a longer piece allocating what happens in which chapter before embarking onto the full story. At times, I leave the entire outline to create a new issue. I can’t remember where in any of my stories I just dived in without planning. My processes evolved from writing in long hand to typing using a Hermes Baby typewriter thence to a word processing computer.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
The customary marriage scene because that is our culture and the white wedding because that is western culture imported into Zimbabwe. The outdoor and tent scenes are reminiscent of current wedding trends in Zimbabwe. All these scenes follow one after another in this story. I like marriages because that is the foundation of families. Take away strong marriages and look at those who are incarcerated, most come from broken homes. Just check the internet for these facts.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I write my ideas even in phone messages before transferring to a computer. That is better than writing in long hand.  I also have ideas for novels that refused to germinate for decades! Maybe one day they will come to fruition. Some novels went into thin air, their stories didn’t make the grade when I converted from long hand to word processing on computer. When I have a new project, I balance my writing by working on Excel and creating the number of minimum words per chapter so that not a single chapter has 15, 000-words while another has 1, 750!

What is your usual writing routine?
When I start writing I really get on it like a job. I write up to a minimum of 1500-words a day consistently every day of the week whenever I am available.

Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?
One of the best of all authors I would like to meet are Wilbur Smith who is based in Cape Town, South Africa and has a track record of bestsellers. Besides which, Wilbur Smith is so creative that his creations are legendary. I would also like to meet our Zimbabwean favourites like Shimmer Chinodya and Charles Mungoshi because they created roads where there were none for the indigenous writers like me.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Writing is 10 % inspiration, 30% perspiration and the rest is hard marketing. You have to really work the midnight oil on this one. It is more important to market the book than find a publisher first. That is unless you are Barak Obama or Tiger Woods.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Morgan Freeman for the tall and lanky father of Trevor. Samuel L. Jackson as father of the bride. Both though will be more of guest artists as they won’t argue much in the ‘film’. I guess Kimberly Elsie could do as a cousin of the bride, Rosetta. Jennifer Hudson would do well as Naomi. As for Trevor, Danny Glover would do well with Lawrence Fishburne as Trevor’s friend Dumisani. I guess that pull the plug on the best African-American actors and actresses of our decade.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I watch cricket or English soccer on television if three are current matches. I like travelling noting scenes, roads and odd places. As to being mobile, it requires a good 4 x 4 to see the nice spots within Zimbabwe which I don’t have. I try always to relax when I am free looking at nature and God’s creation.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I hope and wish to create as many bestsellers as I can write. Above all I would like to go on a holiday in and around Cape Town to blow off steam. 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I am (i) humorous, (ii) creative and (iii) honest. There is a note of humour in my books though I am not a comedian. I think to beat the stress, one has to see the fun in hardships. Believe you me, life in Africa is all but fun. You can’t write fiction if you are not creative. Honesty breeds good character references.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I have 3 (three) books which are double series making six titles. They will be out in years to come. One deals with a Caucasian woman and her love woes while the rest settle the scores between my fellow African protagonists and their heroes and heroines. In between might chip in new projects, who knows?

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
My web links are written below besides which readers can read free material on timbooktu (dot) com, search by my surname or archives.
http://creaspace.om/Butterscotch [for example and the rest}
For All Have Sinned
If Women Can Weep 
Lake Of My heart 
Let Close On Me 
Off The Eagle’s Claws 
Splash In The Loch 
Tigers Hunt At Night 

Buy Links:
1) Butterscotch: meet me in Alberta (Volume 2):
2) If Women Can Weep: then God will be the comforter:
3) Lake Of My Heart: where do broken hearts go?:
4) Off The Eagle's Claws:
5) Splash In The Loch: some guys have all the luck:
6) Let Close On Me: a Caucasian's fight for love in black Africa:

25 July, 2014

#BookReview :: Fade Into Red by Reshma K. Barshikar

Ayra always wanted to be an Art Historian. She saw herself flitting between galleries, talking Michelangelo and Dali with glamorous ease. At twenty–nine, life has decided to make her an underpaid investment banker juggling an eccentric family, a fading career and a long–distance relationship that is becoming a light-year one. 

On a monsoon day in June, she is suddenly sent packing from Mumbai to Tuscany to buy a vineyard for a star client. What should have been a four day trip turns into a two week treasure hunt that finds her in the middle of midnight wine deals, dodgy vintners, rolling Tuscan hills, a soap opera family and one playboy millionaire who is looking to taste more than just the wine. Towards the end she finds that the road to true happiness is almost as elusive as that perfect glass of Chianti. 

Welcome  to Arya’s  life. Arya, who dreams of becoming an Art Historian but is an investment banker instead. She is successfully juggling her family, her career and her long distant boyfriend. While her family wants her to get married off with her boyfriend, and both the families decide to meet, Arya takes off on a short trip to Tuscany to buy a wineyard for a star client. It was supposed to be a short hassle free trip that turned into something more. Dodgy dealings and a playboy interested to taste more than just wine is thrown into the mix. So, will Arya’s  life ever settle down and will she find happiness in it?

Italy is the top thing on my bucket list. I want to visit that country so bad! So I pick up any chance to know more about it – whether through a book or through a movie and that was the main reason I decided to pick this one up. After, Rome, Venice and Milan, Tuscany is also a place I would dearly love to visit for its beautiful landscape and awesome vineyards. Set in the backdrop of Tuscany, the author gives us a tour of the city through her work.

Arya is a typical modern day girl. Smart, intelligent, ambitious and secret desires, she is living the life of her to its fullest irrespective of all the compromises she had to make. She is like majority of the people, both men and women included, when it comes to her career. She is obviously stuck in one underpaid job while her heart wants something else on the whole. Ishaan adds colour and flavor to her life. Both hating each other from the beginning, their bantering is entertaining. I also loved Arya’s friend and family who provide a certain amount of stability to her life.

While the plot is obviously predictable, the author captures the readers’ attention with her narration style, simple language and a deep look at Tuscany and its numerous vineyards. Definitely entertaining read!

24 July, 2014

#BookReview :: Dites Oui: Say Yes by B.P. Manning

Ever the consummate professional, years of staunch dedication paid dividend when Hollywood made Julia Berwick the offer of a lifetime, an alluring proposition she could not refuse. Michael Dunhill——rumored a resurrected knave——emerged as the man brandishing the check. A renowned scoundrel with whom her alliance was now linked, an association she soon discovered came with dire stipulations attached. 

Coerced into partaking in a tryst, Julia soon found her agreement to be a severe miscalculation. Locked now in a battle of will and lascivious demands with the handsome Adonis himself, the simplicity of lust quickly spiraled into rivalry, as both drudged further in their quest to outwit, outlast and outmaneuver the other.

Julia Berwick is a professional to the core. Years of hard work finally pays off when she gets an offer she cannot refuse. However it means associating with Michael Dunhill who has a reputation. Unable to resist, she takes the offer, hoping she would be able to avoid any scandals. But Michael Dunhill is not an easy man to handle – especially when there is lust involved. Their rivalry and quick banter has the potential to turn more, but are either of them interested?

The first thing about this book that one notices is its size. It is enormous and even to a book addict like me, it offered a certain challenge. I was at first afraid to pick it up because of its size and weight and the nagging in my mind said that I may not like it enough to lug the book around with me. However, I had accepted a review copy in exchange for my honest review and so I started with it.

The author’s narration style catches up on you immediately. Detailed and yet simple, the author narrates the story with such confidence and authority that it immediately warms you up to the story. Then comes the characters, slowly building up as the story progresses. Julia Berwick is a character I enjoyed reading about. There is a certain strength in her personality, that I imagine everybody would notice her when she entered a crowded room. Michael Dunhill on the other hand has many shades. The supporting characters add flair to the story and each has something to contribute. My only issue was the pace which could have been a bit faster. 

Overall this made for an interesting and fun read.

23 July, 2014

#BookReview :: Solo by William Boyd

Spanning three continents, Bond’s new mission takes an unexpected turn whilst in Africa, forcing him to go ‘solo’ on a trip to America. Boyd comments on his choice of title: ‘In my novel, events conspire to make Bond go off on a self-appointed mission of his own, unannounced and without any authorization - and he’s fully prepared to take the consequences of his audacity.’

In Solo, Boyd returns to classic, literary Bond: James Bond the human being, not James Bond the superagent. Whilst naturally there will be cocktails, cars and women, Boyd will reveal the man behind the icon, from his emotions, quirks and flaws, to his sartorial taste.

Combining all the glamour and excitement of Ian Fleming’s original novels with the masterful storytelling of William Boyd, Solo is a stylish, period novel featuring 007 as a veteran agent at 45. In true Bond style the plot remains under wraps until publication on 26 September 2013.

William Boyd’s James bond takes on a case on his own. It takes him from London to Africa to USA. Bond is on his own on this particular unofficial and unauthorized business and thus the title Solo…

The plot itself is nothing great and revealing even a little bit of it may tell you the whole story. It was rather disappointing to read a Bond novel with such a weak plotline where coincidences are just that and there is no unexpected twists waiting to take the readers by surprise. Unless of course you count the lack of twist in a thriller novel as a twist! The pace doesn’t help the plot either. It drags on at places, making you want to skip pages at a time. And the character of James Bond – My GOD! – Where is the charisma, the charm the scintillating personality? I am so used to the larger than life persona of Ian Fleming’s James Bond that I could not relate to this character as the same. William Boyd’s James Bond seems too ordinary beside the original characters.

I sincerely feel that this Novel would be better accepted if it wasn’t a James Bond Novel. A new character introduced, would not feel as lacking. And frankly I would have rated this book as a three star then. But no matter how I try, I cannot help comparing this with Ian Fleming, aside from the cars and the girls, this is seriously lacking a lot of the grit, strength and character.

22 July, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: #Excerpts from Dites Oui:Say Yes by B.P.Manning

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - July 2014 ***

About the Book
Ever the consummate professional, years of staunch dedication paid dividend when Hollywood made Julia Berwick the offer of a lifetime, an alluring proposition she could not refuse. Michael Dunhill——rumored a resurrected knave——emerged as the man brandishing the check. A renowned scoundrel with whom her alliance was now linked, an association she soon discovered came with dire stipulations attached. 
Coerced into partaking in a tryst, Julia soon found her agreement to be a severe miscalculation. Locked now in a battle of will and lascivious demands with the handsome Adonis himself, the simplicity of lust quickly spiraled into rivalry, as both drudged further in their quest to outwit, outlast and outmaneuver the other.   

Excerpt 1
Michael watched as her vehicle shouldered the curve of the long drive to a stop, eyeing this from the shelter of his garage, he smiled rigidly to himself. Long fingers worked determinedly through a collection of drawers, hardly seeing the nifty apparatuses clearly clogging his progress. He blindly brushed the hard metal of each tool, shuffling their placement. Michael set each piece noisily back in a sham. With numb defiance to his hunt, he slammed open another drawer, again unable to settle on that which he did not seek. His whole reason for being there was a well strategized farce. Only needing to look her over for a spell, the garage put both discretion and aloofness comfortably in his hand——if only for a minute.
Discreetly, Michael eyed the long, slender legs as they slowly alighted to the ground. Leisurely unfolding her body from the car, she looked as delectable as any banquet he’d ever had. Glancing over at him then, she smiled, and his response again was not what it should have been. Waving back, Michael returned the greeting as spontaneously controlled as he could. Turning back to the drawers, he selected the largest plier that he had, inspecting its worth. He dropped it for one smaller with a longer nose, and there again he repeated the auditing process. 
His body was disturbingly tense. Too tense for him to shake with a simple shrug, and although he had no need for the tools he sought. The scavenging kept him from pouncing the minute she drew within reach. This whole thing was like an unnatural geyser that showed no means of rest, not having experienced anything of the sort before. He felt almost ready to crawl from his own skin. 
“Welcome back!” Michael called softly as she neared, looking much like a cat out for an afternoon sunning. His leisured steps brought him through the open mouth of the garage. 
“Thank you. Thanks for having me.”
Now there’s a thought. Michael smirked in silence, and it quickly became work to drag his thoughts away from a sudden vision of her undressed. “Anytime,” He growled softly, answering her statement as well as his errant thoughts.
Julia’s steps stalled almost three feet from his person, smiling politely at her host, her eyes swept the lawn in one encompassing wave. “I can’t believe how nice the day turned out.” She murmured in a single breath, taking her first stab at small-talk with a Dunhill. The surrounding grounds were evocative of an island, guarded by a large mass of the willow-like giants. It stood serenely obscured by itself. “I was beginning to wonder if winter was here to stay.”
“I guess then, the cold is not your cup of tea?”
“I’m a summer baby, through and through.” She avowed proudly, gifting then a smile that was more than the usual polite sheen. “I’ll take the heat over the cold any day.” 
“I can see you being a summer girl.” He rumbled with a slow nod. 
“Why is that? And if you say it’s because of my sunny disposition, you and I will be at war.”
“No.” Michael countered coolly, his eyes moving steady to her face. Broad shoulders rose slowly and then rested before giving further reply. “You just do.” He expounded in a husky tone. His hazel eyes locking with hers, and the silence that followed grew intimate in its unfurling. 
“Is...Is Phillip in?” Julia stuttered softly, dragging her attention away from his grasp. She again gazed out at the lawn.
“He’s in the house.” Michael answered in a rumbly hum, drawing a potent conclusion there and then. He announced his decision in his head, as if needing to confirm it with himself. I’m going after her.  He established with a silent shrug. Work and everything else be damned!
“Oh.” Mouthing this, instead of giving actual speech, the single word fell like the mimicking of a rock. Skimming the shallow surface of a pond, it immediately fell stagnant behind the initial splash. Tentatively, Julia swiveled from the intensity in his gaze, turning towards the front entrance of the house. She but took the first step before he stalled her progress with his speech.  
“Why don’t we go through here?” Michael interjected with a quiet sigh, motioning towards the mouth of the garage. He stepped wordlessly from her path. Feeling suddenly unfettered by his pledge, he ignored the stuttering silence that had since pressed itself close. Her perfume drifted calculatingly along the narrow chambers of his nostrils as she passed. It floated about him as a mocking reminder of his favorite flowering scent, and on her. The fragrance was not only sweet, it was alluring. Wafting from her person, it moved like a hypnotic breeze over the guarded walls of his senses. Intriguing and beguiling every region of his mind and body, it goaded his immeasurable yearns into wanting more. But already, her eager feet neared the threshold in their rush for escape.

Excerpt 2    
The silence between them grew abundantly rich, as did the pleasant intoxicant that it lent. Wrapping itself around them with a flavor that grew increasingly fervent, the sensation was strangely electrifying to the soul, and with it, she could find no effort nor urge or reason to move from the heat of his gaze. She, instead, remained quelled. Warmed by the intensity of what he gave over in his scrutiny of her. Skillfully, he stroked tinder along her spine, stoking its sparks until the spasms felt were not only isolated in her chest. This makes no sense, she reasoned, having such reaction to a mere look. How can that be? Nonetheless, the substance that it gave was undeniably sweet. 
Michael drank in the arc of her features with reverence. Absorbing every morsel that he could, as the urge to taste her soared fiercer than it ever had before, finding her exceedingly appetizing, though it was not only his eyes that she fed so enticingly well.    
“May I ask you a favor?” she whispered at last, and the quiet question startled the taut stricture of the room, dispelling the shock like a shrug. The room took a calming breath. 
“Yes, of course.” Michael hummed, forcing his eyes from the object of his want. He recaptured the pooling of her dark eyes. The dark orbs waited his ascension as intently as he awaited her request. Though she gave none in reply, instead, she took an advancing step. Pausing nervously, she visually swallowed before adding a subsequent step to her plod, and as if the gesture granted her the strength she needed. Her progress soon took her within reach of his hand. 
“Could you put your hands in your pocket, please?” she asked.
“Put your hands in your pockets, please.” She repeated blandly, her voice now strained in her throat, forcing her directive to spill in a soft, croaky tone. Slowly digging his hands into the copious depths, Michael guardedly complied, his confusion now evident in the curious gaze that he dropped to her face. Ignoring the silent inquest, Julia waded close. Averse in her plotting, she flouted clarification of what bore no sound reason in her head. “Do you promise not to move?” she asked in a low voice, and watched as a slow nod came as the means of his assurance, thus prompting her to take the final step. 
Tentatively, she stopped just short of touching her breasts to his chest. Willing the action as an assertion of self, something she needed to do to retake control, for in her mind that’s all that was needed to rescind his hold. All the strange emotions her body now expelled were all due to his relentless attack. They could hardly be considered real or carried any substance to their bite, and therefore needed to be dealt with, with the swiftest of haste. Evidently, she was not as immune to his charm as she once thought. But that, too, would also have an end, as she intended to stunt the problem in its tracks. Be the instigator and watched the madness die.    
Michael stood with his hands confiscated in the ample depth of his pockets. Having responded to her request like a dutiful slave, his interest was aptly piqued. Steadily, her scent moved around him like a curtain, walling him off pleasantly from everything but her. The heat of her body boldly stroked him wherever it rest, as did the soft zephyr of her breath, and it felt no different had she fanned her fingers over the skin of his chest. A touch of mint minced the spicy air between them, and until then, he could not remember ever wanting a mint more. 
Indomitably, Michael’s fist tightened into a hard ball, fixedly making his pockets their temporary tomb, now grateful for the insight she had in securing his promise. For had she not procured such pledge, he would be nulling a fraction of space with them locked at her back. 
Julia’s heart thumped in her chest like a wild equine treading up a rancorous hill, and it showed no sign of steadying its pace. This was not the consequence she predicted when she initiated the attack. Was her body really responding to him or was this something else? There were urges being stroked conscious that could not be. Feelings that were making itself known that should not. Steeping, they seethed to a familiar hanker that fund no outlet but one. How could this have happened? When? She was so careful in retaining her focus. Staying divorced of the man regardless of who or what he was. Griping the censure in the stadium of her head, she welcomed the thick, shelter of darkness as she closed her eyes, taking a deep breath as she drank in his scent. 
His smell was like a virus not yet known to her body, affecting it in ways that was utterly foreign to her. It commanded her will. Hailing her body soundly from the chasm that it dwelled, and in answer, she fought the urge to drop her head to the cradle of his waiting chest. Or beg to endure the comfort of his arms and just rest. Did she want this? Did she want him to kiss her? She groaned, her copious thoughts soaring to no end, twisting, they turned inside her head like an excavation gone awry. It was hard to discern reality or what just madness was. Everything flew by so quickly, she was well beyond the rocky edge of confusion. 
God, he wanted to delve! For the provocation was no less maddening than being a hungry peasant in a patisserie. Having no means in which to partake of the food, you’re left to savor the distinctive flavor of both sight and smell. Stilling the rantings in his head, a low grunt sailed from Michael’s throat in reply, and in the silence that followed. The urge to eat grew increasingly strong. Not one part of their bodies decisively touched, she was fastidious in her certainty of that. But the stance was no less erotic had foreplay been a mutual undertaking between them. And he could not help that his mind swallowed the bait on that thought, dragging his torment further than a sensible man would allow. 
Much like the start of a dance, her body swayed towards him in a dozy show, though she quickly stilled the predisposing of her action. Lifting her face from its hover near the bed of his chest, her eyes walked slowly up the broad width, yet the brown gaze came no farther than his mouth. A long, torturous minute passed before she gave a tame nod, dropping her gaze, she slowly retreated from the inferno she so adeptly created. 
“Thank you.” She mouthed then. 
And with that, the moment was gone. Lasting only minutes in full, he could still feel her presence where she once stood, though the place had gone precipitously cold with her hasty retreat. Their stance had been like a sapid seduction, and he had never been so beautifully seduced with so little contact before. He indubitably wanted more. Decisively, Michael hands slid from the crypt that once held them in wait, easing coercively behind her back, they pulled her close in a leisured tow, signaling his go. It was now his turn to start a new game, his time for seducing, and his approach on how to get the job done. 
“Do I get a turn?” Michael whispered hoarsely, his face already pressed close, each word brought a caressing to her cheek. The firm muscles of his chest swept the swells of her breasts as he eased her closer yet, stopping just short of steaming her to his flesh. He conceded the magic that the contact brought with a rakish smile. She made no effort to resist the directive of his hands, neither did she look surprised by the new turn of event. Her eyes looked, instead, like a magical pool, and in every way he longed to dive in and go for an extensive swim. 

About the Author

A ravenous reader with equal passion for travel and the plotting of anything new, my love of words seemed, at times, a blotch on the very core of my DNA, and has been the recurrent source of many jests from my children—the title nerd has been established more than once.  Yet the sound, meaning and inference, cannot be more beautiful than those in the notes of a newly toned word, or in the coupling of such to lay forth a vision. With as little as a single word we can open the world to those around us, garner a smile or lay bare intrigue. Yes, such morpheme can wrought a symphony when showcased at its best, doth those cords strum you as it does me? Then smile, as I am with you.  Salacious and sweet, it wrung further forward as your key.
As you can see, I’m clearly odd in my thinking, odd in my views and downright peculiar in my descriptive and the structure in which I write. Among my many faults, a fact I’m sure you’ve already surmised, emotions are my perpetual weakness. I’m wooed by it, seduced and persuaded by it, touched and enthralled by the various colliery of it all. Whatever the scenario or the plot that charged through my thoughts, the emotional furor in each turn scramble just as eagerly through, be it harsh or be it sweet, the significance is still the same. It’s the medicine I search for when I read, it’s the way I interact with my children and, in many aspect, the way I live my life. 

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21 July, 2014

#BookReview :: The Husband Maker (The Husband Maker, #1) by Karey White

The Husband Maker by Karey WhiteCharlotte’s a girl with nicknames. She may not love being called Charles or Chuck, but the hardest nickname to take is the one she was given in college, the one that’s followed her now for too many years. They call her “the husband maker” and sadly, it fits. Every guy she’s dated since high school has become his next girlfriend’s husband. Not hers. Not three girlfriends down the road. The next. Is she doing something wrong or is she just cursed? When Kyle Aldsworth enters the picture and sweeps her off her feet, Charlotte begins to hope that maybe she's not destined to be single forever. A senator’s son with political aspirations of his own, Kyle's wealthy, handsome, and in need of a wife. Will Charlotte be disappointed yet again, or will she finally be able to make a husband for herself?

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My Review : (Spoilers Ahead!)
Charlotte has many nicknames and she hates most of them. While Charles and Chuck are still bearable, its ‘The Husbandmaker’ tag that she hates the most. Smart, beautiful, witty and sporting, Charlotte has all the qualities that a man could ask for in a girl, yet something always gets in the way for Charlotte. When Kyle Aldsworth enters the scene, Charlottes gives it another chance. Will she walk down the aisle finally?

Charlotte is a girl that I would want to be like. She has all the good qualities that one can hope for. Kyle is a strong, caring and sporting person himself. While they make a good couple, it is just not enough. With Kyle’s political aspirations and by association Charlotte’s time in the limelight may not be what Charlotte wants for life. Usually, I would consider this as a spoiler, that they do not end up together, but the ending left me flabbergasted. Though I can guess who Kyle goes on to marry, I was disappointed that Charlotte didn’t really find the fairy tale ending – yet again. The ending of this installment left me unsatisfied and wanting more – ensuring that I would pick up the next installment in the series. But it also made me not so happy with this installment. The courting and dating period seemed fun but ultimately the individual aspirations came in between them. But I swear if she ends up with Angus at the end, it would be most disappointing.

Overall, this book made for a fun and light read with its not so predictable (well you would expect the protagonists to end up together in a predictable storyline) plot and good and strong narration.

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Karey White

Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.  

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19 July, 2014

#GuestPost :: Can you define yourself with a work of art? by Michael Pritsos

Michael Pritsos studied English with emphases in both Literature and Creative Writing at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. Currently, Michael serves in the infantry of the U.S. Marine Corps. Short-Lived is his sophomore release, with Hoplite being the first. In spite of a constricting work schedule, he is currently working on other projects due in 2014.

Website : www.nyxsyndicate.com

Can you define yourself with a work of art? I would venture to bet that in some aspects you can. As individuals we tend to have guidelines and expectations from ourselves that can help us grow, whether or not they are seen as inflated views or simply a desire to be better people overall. Many of us will utilize pieces of art as a means of attempting to define ourselves. 
Think about it. What are those age-old questions asked on so many first dates? “What’s your favorite movie?” “What’s your favorite book?” “Who’s your favorite character?” You don’t want to be the one to answer Harry Potter to all three of those questions, so here’s a list of great authors and their great books that everyone should have on their shelves. 

1. Aldous Huxley – Brave New World. Huxley was one of the top authors to define the dystopian genre and really bring about a daunting potential future for our world. With memorable characters and an ending that you’ll never forget, Huxley sets the bar exceptionally high with his most famous piece.
2. John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men. There are few literary characters as iconic as the pair Lennie and George from one of Steinbeck’s most famous novels chronicling the bond between two companions.
3. Homer – The Iliad. With themes and virtues still prevalent in our modern society, Homer’s epic set in antiquated Troy is a must-read. His characters are well-defined in their individual struggles and connect well with the reader. Perhaps most interestingly, The Iliad outlines that as a race we have not changed as much in the past 3,000 years as some would hope.
4. Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment. Possibly one of the more disturbing trips into the human psyche, Dostoyevsky’s famous novel takes its readers on a trip of greed, murder, and love.
5. William Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet. Arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet has been regarded throughout history as one of the best love stories ever told. Star-crossed lovers with doomed fates? Yes, we all know the story. But have you read it?
6. Ayn Rand – Anthem. A short novel, this piece is not exactly Rand’s most famous work but it does summarize her writing style very well with existentialist views and an unforgettable ending. Perhaps Atlas Shrugged is your favorite book of Rand’s, or of all time, but long before John Galt there was Equality 7-2521.
7. Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde knew how to lace comic relief and lightheartedness into the serious matters of this novel. With unforgettable characters like Henry, the monstrous Dorian Gray’s moral collapse can be absorbed a little easier. 
8. J.D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye. One of the most profound works delving into adolescent angst, Salinger’s most notable work is told through the eyes of a sixteen year old boy struggling to find and understand himself. Holden Caulfield is a name that remains more recognizable today than many famous names. And he did not even exist.
9. George Orwell – Animal Farm. A novel written as a satire of the Russian Revolution, Orwell’s Animal Farm remains an influential piece to this day. There are few lines more memorable, or moments in a novel as you come to them, as what was finally written on the side of the barn. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 
10. William Golding – The Lord of the Flies. Thought to be a great influence on modern thinking, as well as literature as a whole, Golding’s most famous novel chronicles a small period of time where a group of schoolboys are marooned on an island together. The primordial nature of man is exemplified through these boys, who begin to lose their grip on reality in their struggle for survival.

Now this by no means is an end all, be all, approach to literature. There are many and more that I wish I could have included but alas I set my bar at ten. The list simply represents a small portion of some works that have been deemed influential over multiple generations, and with good reason. It is an attempt to get those gears turning in your head. Think about your own top ten and see what kind of works have had influences in your life.

 Eighteen years into the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta finds a Devanian soldier named Maxites flung into the catastrophic events of war and destiny. Hoplite: Torch of Prometheus is a historical fiction novel taking place in Greece nearly two and a half millennia ago. Torch of Prometheus begins in 413 B.C. Maxites is a twenty-year old warrior of the fictional town of Devanum, sworn allegiance to the Athenian League, and is eager to join the war between an advanced Athens and bloodthirsty Sparta. Devanum is able to send out a small force of men to aid the Athenians, led by Maxites' oldest brother Dioxiphos. In a string of bloody battles, conversations with the gods, an untimely marriage, journeys on land and voyages by sea, Maxites must learn to deal with bonds forged and severed, what the difference is between Athenians and Spartans, the truth of his past, and the loss of those he loves.

Short-Lived is a dark novella set amidst the grittier areas of Phoenix, Arizona. Nine stories tell tales of money, power, life, and death. Short-Lived intricately weaves the lives of a drug addict, his love interest, dealers, and those struggling for power in the streets. Who will come out on top, and who will get left in the dust? 

Get Short-Lived for free on Amazon. Offer till tomorrow - 20th July

18 July, 2014

#BookReview :: The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days - as he has done before - and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives - so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before . . . 

After the success of the Luna Landry case, Cormoran Strike has no shortage of clients. So when novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife turns up at his office uninterested in involving the police. Owen is known to take off on his own for days at a time and his wife thinks that he is holed up in some writers’ retreat. But there is more to Owen’s disappearance this time. It becomes crystal clear when his body is discovered by Cormoran Strike. The novelist’s latest manuscript features caricatures of a lot of big names and a lot of them could go long way to stop it from being published. But did they go as far as murdering the novelist? Cormoran Strike has to find out before time runs out or the ruthless killer catches up to him!

J.K. Rowling is master at creating worlds for her characters and Harry Potter series is proof of that. Cormoran Strike belongs to a different world on the whole. The retired military personnel take on a wide range of cases… So it is no surprise when a simple missing person’s case turns into a murder case. Rowling has also created a new world within a world with Owen’s characters and world of writing. It was a pleasure to read about Cormoran Strike’s second case. And while Cuckoo’s Calling was an interesting read, Rowling has raised the stakes even higher with her second book. Also, on the side we learn more about Cormoran and Julia’s personal life that keep developing along with the individual and independent case of Owen’s murder.

The unique thing about this book is its pace. Usually I prefer fast pace when it comes to Thrillers and Mysteries but The Silkworm sets up its own pace which is much slower than one expects  yet it doesn’t irritate you, such is the caliber of the narration.

Overall, an interesting case of whodunit where the pages fly by and the plot keeps a tight grip on you.

17 July, 2014

#BookReview :: Daughter By Court Order by Ratna Vira

A seemingly innocent remark over an innocuous cup of tea. Aranya discovers that her family has been fighting a decade-long legal battle over her grandfather’s expansive estate, all the while not only keeping her in the dark, but also keeping her very existence out of the court’s knowledge!
A cesspool of emotions, half-truths, betrayals, and the unspooling of long buried dirty family secrets threaten to overpower Aranya and disrupt what modicum of peace and balance she has in her life as a single mother of two children. At the centre of this storm is the one woman who, ever since the day Aranya was born, has had nothing but curses and abuses for her; who has deliberately kept her name out of the court; who has wished her dead for every day of her life; who refuses to now remember her birth. The woman who is her mother. Her own mother.
This is the story of a woman fighting against power, money, deceit, and treachery for her right to be recognised as a daughter. A daughter by court order . . .

Aranya has never been truly loved. Cursed and abused since her birth, by her own mother, Aranya soon finds out that the betrayal of her mother runs deeper than some chosen curse words. In her grandfathers will, every person, including the ladies of the family are benefactors. However, her mother had kept her out of the list by omitting her existence. There are practically no records showing she is her mother’s daughter. Having had enough, Aranya decides to stand up and fight for her rights and her identity.

Aranya is a character that will resonate with more women in our country than we would like to admit. The abuses, the curses and the way she was treated is the story of millions around the world. Which is why this book takes a hold on its reader right from the beginning – its relatable. If the readers themselves haven’t faced it, then atleast they know someone who has. Granted that not everyone has a powerful person like Aranya’s grandfather in the family supporting her but most of us women have to fight for what’s our birth right. Aranya is portrayed as this strong modern woman, who has had enough of oppression and wants to fight for what is hers. The side characters are portrayed equally well though Aranya stands out.

For a debut author, Ratna Vira has picked a less explored path and has carved out her own way. The excellent and uncommon plot is accompanied by a great narration and beautiful language. What else can one expect from a good book? This will resonate with a lot of readers and will have a grip over them, long after the book is put down. I also have to say that the simple cover of the book with the picture of a beautiful girl with innocent eyes is really catchy too.

An Excellent Read!

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