30 November, 2014

#Spotlight :: Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment--to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.
But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn't an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing--not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science--is going to stop him.
Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn't possibly have bargained for... 


Interview with Joel Ohman

Who or what was your inspiration to write about post-apocalyptic, dystopian sci-fi?
I've read a lot in this genre, so I would say it’s a mix of a lot of different things. I really just wanted to explore this question of, "What gives a person worth?" Is it their usefulness to society? Is it because someone loves them? Is it because of how they look? Is it because of their health or ability? As a Christian, I believe that all people have worth, because they are made in the image of God. I wanted to explore some different takes on this question. I think that the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/sci-fi genre was the best vehicle to tackle some of those deep philosophical questions in a fun and interesting way.

Why do you write? Is it for fun, or because you have something you need to say in your writing?
Some writers are loath to say their writing has a message, because maybe they think doing so diminishes their art (not true, in my opinion), but I think that everyone has a message in their writing, even if they aren't as consciously focused on it—and that's a good thing. My message is in my epigraph: "Because everyone matters - Psalm 139".

Why the title Meritropolis?
I wanted a short one word title that was a clever—or at least semi-clever—play on two different words. I like "Meritropolis" because it combines "Merit" and "Metropolis," two words that are great for describing a city where each resident's worth is measured by a score given to them.
In Meritropolis how were the animal combinations decided upon? For example, I know you chose to write about a bion (bull-lion), as well as many other freaks of nature. So what I want to know is how did you decided which animals to meld together and why.
I have a big list of animal combinations that I came up with before I began writing the book, and I tried to work in as many as I could. Sometimes the only criteria was that I liked the way the name sounded. Look for many more in the following books!

Can you tells us about your characters and who/what inspired them?
I am a big believer in John Truby’s approach to building a “character web”, because this deepens the relationships between characters and helps to make each of the characters more complex. Absent building a good character web, it can be all too easy to fall into the not-very-true-to-real-life good-person/bad-person false dichotomy where your protagonist devolves into this I-can-do-no-wrong character and your antagonist is just pure evil. I was very much aiming to show the imperfections and brokenness in each of the characters. My thinking as a Christian influences this to some degree, given that the Bible teaches that we are all essentially the same; we are all sinners—only God is perfect.

Do you have a favorite genre that you like to read?
I read pretty much everything! Fiction, non-fiction, you name it! I am of the opinion that, as an author, I can learn something from almost every kind of writing. Sometimes, it most definitely is a matter of learning what not to do—but, on the whole, I love to read a wide variety of writing styles, genres, etc.

Are there any books that have inspired your own writing?
I read A LOT so there are many different things that have shaped my writing over the years, but I wouldn't say there was any particular book, or books, that I was consciously looking to for inspiration while writing Meritropolis. Looking back though I can definitely see different threads of influence in almost everything I have read over the years that contribute toward making Meritropolis what it is: the strong protagonist of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, the philosophical bent of C.S. Lewis’ fiction, the dystopian setting of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and many more.

Are there any authors that have emerged in the last three years that have caught your interest?
Hugh Howey is an author that I really like that has caught my attention lately. I would highly recommend his WOOL series!



Joel Ohman is the author of Meritropolis--"The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist". He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.



Don’t forget!
Meritropolis is marked down from its regular price of $5.99, but only for a limited time. Feed your Kindle by picking up a discounted copy for just 99 cents, but make sure you do it before December 2!

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#BookReview :: The Curse Keepers (Curse Keepers #1) by Denise Grover Swank

The wall between our world and that of vengeful spirits has protected humanity for more than 400 years. It’s about to come crashing down.
Ellie Lancaster has lived her whole life by the site of the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Virginia settlement that vanished without a trace around 1590. Only the descendants of the two men who banished the spirits of an enemy tribe from the material realm know what really happened to the colony. Ellie is one of those descendants—a Curse Keeper. Her father took pains to teach her what he knew of the curse and the responsibilities of its guardians. He taught her that if the two Curse Keepers ever meet, the curse will be lifted, the gate will open, and the raging Native American spirits will be unleashed to seek their revenge.
Despite her father’s seriousness, Ellie has always taken the legend for a harmless fairy tale. Until she meets the darkly handsome, but downright infuriating, Collin Dailey and realizes everything she was told is true. For when they meet, it’s like the air is sucked from the room. Collin’s presence is electrifying… and it’s not just attraction Ellie feels, but the inexorable pull toward her destiny. The prophecy is real, and now Ellie and Collin must battle supernatural forces and their loathing—and passion—for each other to set things right.
The Curse Keepers are all that stand between the world and its destruction.


Ellie Lancaster has always lived by the mysterious site of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. She has never been far from the place as she physically cannot leave the place. Something pulls her to her hometown.  Being one of the Curse keepers, Ellie’s father taught her all about the curse from her childhood. However, Ellie only ever took it as a fairytale and after the loss of her mother, she blocked out everything. The arrival of Collin Dailey ignites something within Ellie and when they touch, the curse is broken. Ellie and Collin have seven days to close back the gates or else hell will rule the earth.

First of all, the characters in the story failed to make an impression on me, except maybe Ellie’s dad. Ellie seemed to be a constant state of denial at the beginning even though everything seemed to be pointing in one direction. Her stubbornness was another aspect of her personality that irked me a lot. Collin on the other hand turned out to be an arrogant jerk. Their characters remained flat and lacked any growth in the story. And their growing relationship, if one can call that so, seemed downright absurd.

The plot on the other had had great potential. I mean the notion of two men banishing a whole village of people from the material world, then its sudden reappearance and two curse breakers in control of the fate of the earth – it is intriguing. Actually it was the idea of it that made me pick up this book by reading the blurb. But the author let us down in the follow through. The seven days’ time that they had to close the gate could have actually shown us a lot of action. But most of it was spent at Ellie’s work, her house, her time with her friend and in whether or not Ellie and Collin would actually work together. Also, information was provided to us at really awkward situations.

I was thoroughly disappointed with this book and had almost abandoned it in 2/3rd of the way. I struggled to finish and it was certainly not my cup of coffee. I will not be picking up the next book in the series.




28 November, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with R.T.Manu Ramesh, #Author of The Sales Room


*** Special Feature - November 2014 ***

About the Author
The most vivid memory of R.T. Manu Ramesh’'s childhood is that of changing schools every two years owing to his father’s transferable job as a civil servant with the Government of India. It varied from a convent run by Catholic priests in white cassocks in a small town at one end of the spectrum to residential schools of ochre robed Hindu Sanyasis .He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the reputed RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, India, in 2006 and started his career in the IT industry as a software programmer. He however found his true calling a couple of years later when a dynamic, young, entrepreneur, invited him to join his start-up, Aurigo Software Technologies, as a part of the Sales and Marketing team. The firm was to expand in India in a big way. Playing a crucial role in the company’s growth Manu was instrumental in its foray into the India market and acquisition of first ten customers in India. He now works for an MNC and is based in San Jose, California. He is an avid tennis player and swimmer. He has an ear for music. He enjoys travelling, reading, water surfing and watching movies during free time.

Contact The Author

Interview with the Author

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I am a bit of a late bloomer. While I was always observant and loved recounting interesting anecdotes I never saw myself as a writer. However in the case of ‘The Sales Room’ I strongly felt there was a story to be and decided to take the plunge writing. 

What inspires you to write?
There are a number of factors. The most significant is the conviction that there is a story to be told. The prospect of entertaining readers and providing them a break from the rigmarole of everyday life is another. The possibility that one might benefit from reading the book in some tangible or intangible way keeps me going as well.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I was having a cup of a coffee with a friend. We discussed movies, politics, and books and finally started talking about business. I joked about writing a funny novel about a failing software startup. My friend thought that it was good idea but I didn’t. On going home and thinking about it in depth I changed my mind and started to write ‘The Sales Room’.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
The scene when the CEO of ‘Oregon Software Technologies’ thinks divine intervention would change the fortunes of the organization and decides to invite the ‘Vastu Man’ over is my favourite. The reason I like it is because this is something that we would come across only in an Indian company. It showcases Indian cultural idiosyncrasies and shows that desperate times call for desperate measures. While readers have observed that the book is a racy read I think this chapter is particularly so.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
While Rajesh Iyer is a figment of my imagination he does share my weakness for good south Indian filter coffee. He is also outspoken. Other characters might have inherited my quirks that I am unaware of.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I am more comfortable typing my stories into my laptop than writing them on paper. Thirty minutes before I start writing is spent reading some of my favorite authors.

What is your usual writing routine?
I am regimental by nature and this is true of my writing schedule too .I start writing late in the morning, say 11 AM, after I finish working out. I write until 7 PM with a 30-minute lunch break and a few short coffee breaks.

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I love reading although I do not read as much or as often as I would like to. My favorite authors among others include Joseph Heller, Salman Rushdie, Richard Crasta , Raja Rao and Fyodor Dostoyevskey.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Always be original and ensure you enjoy the process that brings the book to life. Be open to advise but not at the cost of authenticity. It is after all your work and you can shape it anyway you like. Whether it is good or bad, to someone’s liking or not, is a matter of opinion and beyond a point immaterial. 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
As far as the lead roles go Kunal Nayyar , the actor who plays Rajesh Koothrapali in ‘The Big Bang Theory’ would be perfect for Rajesh Iyer. Freida Pinto would play Sonal, the girl in the marketing team. Nazeeruddin Shah would play the CEO Venky. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I love sports and live an outdoor life. I play tennis and swim almost everyday. When I get a chance I go water surfing. I try and read as much as I can.


About the Book
Rajesh Iyer, a young, ambitious salesperson, returns to ñThe Sales Roomî of Oregon Software Technologies after an aborted attempt at getting into a business school in the US, only to notice the metamorphosis of the software start-up which he had earlier been an integral part of. What used to be a rat-infested hole in the midst of a vegetable market is now a swanky, state of the art facility owned by an upcoming Bollywood star. The enthusiastic and compact team firing on all cylinders is replaced by a sclerotic and bureaucratic set up. Sales review meetings, once rife with passionate discussions, are now replete with profanities. The ill tempered angel investor's scream can be heard all the way from his villa in New York.Rajesh, now shunted into an innocuous role finds every effort made to alleviate the condition of the demoralized sales team, met with resistance. As revenues dwindle and tempers rise, Rajesh realizes he is running out of time and options. He either toes the CEO, Venky's line and becomes party to a sham or quits citing a host of plausible reasons. This hilarious narrative takes the reader from plush corporate boardrooms of Bangalore to the seedy hotels in Delhi as Oregon meanders in search of illusory customer wins. Rajesh meets several interesting characters ranging from the busty Polish graphics designer to the loquacious pimp masquerading as a taxi driver.


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Giveaway 
1 Autographed Paperback Copy of The Sales Room by R.T.Manu Ramesh to a lucky Indian Resident.

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#BookReview :: Claiming Carlos by Rachelle Ayala

Book #2 of Sanchez Sisters Series
Choco Sanchez is stuck in a rut. She's never hit a softball and has been friends forever with Carlos Lopez, the head cook at her family's Filipino restaurant. When flashy restaurant consultant Johnny Dee hits her with a pitch, she falls head over heels and gets a makeover.
Carlos Lopez is not about to lose one for the home team. Johnny launches a full scale change on the menu, and Carlos sends him straight into the dumpster. Claiming Choco's heart proves more difficult. But never underestimate a man who can cook hot, spicy, and steamy, and we ain't talking just food.



Buy Links:
Amazon.com I Amazon.in I Barnes & Noble

Review:
After reading Taming Romeo, Evie Sanchez’s story, I was left craving for more. And Rachelle Ayala returns with Choco’s story in Claiming Carlos.

We have already met the Sanchez family in Taming Romeo. For those who have not yet had a chance to pick it up – the Sanchez family owns a Filipino Restaurant. Choco has huge responsibilities as there are high expectations from her. She is in college with hopes of achieving a management degree someday. She helps out in the family restaurant as the chief hostess and assistant manager. She is also expected to set the right examples for her younger siblings. Choco, lost in this daily grind, feels unsatisfied with her life even though she cannot really pinpoint the source of her discontent. Enter Johnny, a consultant hired to help with the expansion of the restaurant business.  He sweeps off her feet and before she knows, she has had a complete makeover. Carlos has always been in the background of Choco’s life as her friend and as the head chef of the restaurant. When Johnny tries another makeover on the menu, Carlos had enough and he sets about throwing Johnny out of their lives and claim Choco for himself.

The food in the first instalment had left me feeling hungry and so this time I made sure to have lots of snacks on the stand by while I read this book. I wasn’t disappointed. Claiming Carlos also gives its reader a fill of Filipino culture. The family dynamics work differently there and we see a lot of familial influence in the story too. While I had a love-hate relationship with a couple of characters, I really felt connected to Choco and liked her. If Evie and Romeo were a sizzling couple, Choco and Carlos surely set off all fire alarms around them. I actually like the fact that Choco and Carlos were such good friends for so long, that when they finally took things to the next level, it only seemed natural. 

Rachelle Ayala has her own style of narrating a story and it never fails to suck you in the world of whatever story she tells and this book wasn’t an exception.



Excerpt:
[Kissing a Friend]

Oh, no. Not happening again. No way. We’re friends, best buds, and he’s supposed to court Julia, that’s what his mother wants him to do. I can’t. I want to. No, this is crazy.
My mouth touches his soft lips and I close my eyes, the better to pretend it’s not happening. Mmmm … He tilts my head gently to angle in closer as his other hand caresses the small of my back.
He doesn’t smush my mouth against his, but gently tugs my lower lip. I settle into his kiss. It’s lazy, easy-going, not demanding, friendly. Only, his fingers curling into my hair isn’t mild, no, and neither are the tiny moans he makes at the back of his throat, or the spear rising hard against my belly. Yikes! What am I doing?
We’re lying on a sandy trail in a nature preserve near dusk. Coyotes could be lurking in the sage bushes, and mountain lions prowling the dry riverbeds. Oh, but his lips taste spicy, and oh, so enticing. A slow burn roils between my legs. He’s so freaking sexy for being a chef. But I didn’t sign up to be his kissing partner. I mean, I could use the practice. I seriously suck at kissing. Oops, my teeth just bumped his. That’s what I get for biting my lips when I should be sucking, or smacking, or nibbling, or whatever it is professional kissers do.


Teaser Pics:




About the Author
Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope.

Rachelle is the founder of an online writing group, Romance in a Month, an active member of the California Writer's Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance

Connect with the Author:
Website I Blog I Facebook Twitter I Goodreads



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Giveaway
1st Prize - $20 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize - Choice of Rachelle Ayala's eBooks

27 November, 2014

#BookReview :: Impressions of Egypt by Douglas Misquita

In November of 2010 I spent a little over a week in Egypt. I was fascinated and humbled by the history and culture of the country.
This book isn't a picture-book; there are far better pictures available on the internet and in travel magazines than the thousand plus I clicked with my point-and-shoot.
This book is all about the impressions, emotions and implications that no picture can convey, but something that can only be experienced when you bask in the glorious Mediterranean sun in Alexandria, are belittled by the sentinel pyramids at Giza, come to terms with the engineering feat of relocating Abu Simbel, appreciate the historic grandeur of the museum-city of Luxor, or relive the romance of the Nile as you drift past gently-swaying date palms and white-sailed feluccas.


I usually do not read non-fiction, but this short travelogue captured my attention and I decided to give it a chance.

Douglas Misquita travelled Egypt for a week and this is his way of sharing the beauty, culture and his personal experiences of the place. I have never been to Egypt myself and my notions about the place is built up based on what I have seen in movies or read in form of backdrop of fictions. Thus, I am not an expert on the place. The book manages to capture Egypt in its true essence, or shall I say what feels like its true essence. The author has managed to put in a lot of details and facts about the place. The detailed descriptions helped create an image in my mind while reading. It was so easy to get lost in Egypt through this book. To the author’s credit, he has kept his language and narration style simple. It almost feels like the author is telling you about his experiences first hand instead of you reading about it in a book. As a result, it feels too short of a book and leaves you craving for more. The only fault I can pick on is its cover. Its Egypt – the author could have made a better and more attractive cover.

An interesting and captivating read for anybody who loves travelogues and/or are curious about Egypt.


25 November, 2014

#GuestPost :: My Solution to Writer’s Block and Character Development in General by Roselyn Jewell

Roselyn Jewell is the author of 6 novels, with another on the way. If you’d like to know more about her or her books, please see her Website 
She can also be Emailed directly about anything at. She’s also on Facebook, and Twitter  
If you’d like updates about upcoming books, sneak peeks, freebies, and more, you can sign up for her mailing list


My Solution to Writer’s Block and Character Development in General

I’ll be honest; this is my first guest post! So I was racking my brain, Googling, etc. looking for topics and finally, I decided to share with everyone my personal solution to writer’s block, which is also my method for coming up with my plot lines and character development in general. What writer hasn’t had writer’s block at some point? I think we can all agree, it’s no fun at all. 

So when I decided that I was going to start writing with the goal of self-publishing, one of my first obstacles was what the heck do I do about writer’s block? I had set a really high goal for myself, which I have yet to attain. My goal ultimately is to get to a point where I can be completing one book every few months, a very high aspiration. However, I believe it’s doable with the right process (and of course massive amounts of dedication and hard work!). Thus, my process was born. 

What I did was write down as many plot points, character traits, settings, etc. that I could think of. These might have been something that was used in one of my fav books, something I had always wanted to write about, things seen on TV, experiences of myself, my family, friends, neighbors, etc. Personality traits from myself, loved ones, random people, co-workers, you get the point. Some settings are places I’ve lived or vacationed at, others are ones I’ve always wanted to see but haven’t yet had the chance. 

Anyway, I have all of these on scraps of paper. I started out with around 50 and I continue to add to it or change some out as they are used. When I need a new plot, character, and/or setting for one of my books, I put the scraps of paper into a hat and draw out about 8 plot points, 3-5 character traits, and 1-2 settings. Then I challenge myself to put them all together and make an outline for a novel out of it, and then write the actual novel. 

I find it makes for some interesting stories, as the plot lines don’t always seem like they’d go together, but that’s half the fun ;) For me it provides a fun challenge, motivation to figure out how to fit it all together, and in the process it cuts down on the writer’s block since once I have my outline, I follow it and I don’t have to stop and think okay, what now?  I’m not going to say it eliminates writer’s block completely because I could still get stuck coming up with exact dialogue or things like that. But it has definitely lessened the blocks, which is extremely helpful. Plus it allows for quicker writing, as I don’t have to spend lots of time agonizing over character traits or the right setting, etc.
There you have it, my writing and character development process and also my solution to writer’s block. I truly hope that other authors, whether already published or aspiring, find this helpful and may want to even give it a try. 

Roselyn Jewell's Books:

Degrees of Separation
Victoria has worked hard to become a high ranking agent in a top secret government organization. She's always been happy and secure with her life that way it is. All that changes when an old rival comes back into her life. They realize they have feelings for each other, only to be told that he is going to be sent on a suicide mission. Victoria is faced with the choice of going against her job and everything she thought she believed in, to save the man who she thinks just may be the love of her life. 





Stealing Back Love
Amy Holden’s life is a mess—but when she meets an old flame at her high school reunion she finds her passion for life rekindled. But is Marc Nicolli really everything she wants? Or is there more lurking beneath that handsome surface than she can handle? Marc keeps tempting her to do the unthinkable—have a hot, sexy affair with him. But Amy isn’t sure if he wants anything more than a trip down memory lane and a good time in bed. Is he out to steal her away from everything she knows about safety and suburban life? Or maybe he’s out to steal her heart for good this second time around.



The Cuneiform Caper
When Reese Walker finds what she suspects is a very valuable and career changing artifact, she is beyond elated! She seeks approval to fund further research and find the answers she so desperately seeks regarding her find. However, just as she gets that funding, her world gets turned upside down when the artifact is stolen. With very few leads to go on, she embarks on a journey that turns out to be so much more than she bargained for, both professionally and personally. 



 

The Family Garden
There is a saying that goes, “You reap what you sow.” If your life was a garden and your family, your seeds, what would your family garden look like? For Samantha and Richard, life isn’t always what they planned. They couldn’t be more proud of their children, their home and the life they built together. But when storms come to weather their lives, will the roots that Samantha and Richard planted together be strong enough to fight the storm, or will they dig in, stand firm and wait for the sun to shine again? 
In The Family Garden, readers are treated to a broad spectrum of matters of the heart. When it comes to love, nothing is as it seems. We all have masks, and what is revealed beyond our disguises is enough to take your breath away.


Coffee, Love, and Other Stimulants
Good coffee is easy—true love is a little harder for Kate, a pharmaceutical student who has a knack for finding the wrong man. While she finishes college, Kate tries to focus on a life where hazelnut syrup in her coffee is enough of a satisfaction. But what is she to do when the wrong guys keep hitting on her? It’s no help that her roommate Samantha—aka Sam—has already found the love of her life and keeps urging Kate to live it up a little. But will Kate wake up and smell the love in the air and realize Mr. Right has actually been right next to her for a very long time?



 
The Manifestation of Love
For years, all Lilly has cared about was great sex. This was in part due to the fact that arranged marriages are a big part of her Indian culture. Sure enough, one day she's told that her future husband, Raj, will be arriving soon. Furious at not getting to choose her own future, she takes her anger out on him and does her best to drive him away. However, somewhere along the way she realizes that he just may be the perfect man for her after all. 

Available at Smashwords and Amazon 



#BookReview :: Burn (Michael Bennett #7) by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.

Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously – and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.




Michael Bennett has brought down Perrine for good and his family is finally safe. [Read My Review of Gone (Michael Bennett #6) by James Patterson]

Now back, Bennett is reassigned to “Outreach Squad” in Harlem. When a police report is made about a party of people in an unusual spot, but without any evidence of crime, Bennett is forced to pass it by, that is until a body is found in the exact same spot. With a group of misfits as his new team, Michael dives into the case. At the same time, Michael also gets a chance to catch a team of robbers who hit only the very high-end jewelry stores. Instead of giving up on the first case, Michael decides to work on both cases. To top it all, Michael has to fight his growing emotions for the nanny of his children and a threat from the biological father of one of his children. With so much going on around in and around his life, Michael has to step up his game is he wants to keep things under control.

The concept of Outreach Squad and its assorted team members really got me interested in the story and quite frankly I would have been happy reading about Michael getting the squad in form. The added mystery just crowded the story and to top it off was Michael’s personal life issues. Somehow everything got into a bit of a tangle. However, as usual, Patterson has done an excellent job of dealing out action and drama through the pages. With so much happening, the storyline kept flowing smoothly and the narration was good too. The anti-heroes of the story were probably the only letdown in the book, especially when compared to the other villains that Bennett has encountered previously. Hopefully Bennett and Mary Catherine will get together soon.

Overall, this is a typical James Patterson novel that will keep you glued to the pages until the very end.








24 November, 2014

#BookReview :: Private L.A. (Private #7) by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

Thom and Jennifer Harlow are the perfect couple, with three perfect children. They may be two of the biggest movie stars in the world, but they're also great parents, philanthropists and just all-round good people.

When they disappear without a word from their ranch, facts are hard to find. They live behind such a high wall of security and image control that even world-renowned investigator Jack Morgan can't get to the truth. But as Jack keeps probing, secrets sprout thick and fast - and the world's golden couple may emerge as hiding behind a world of desperation and deception that the wildest reality show couldn't begin to unveil. Murder is only the opening scene. 




On one hand, we have Thom and Jennifer Harlow who have disappeared without a trace. With them being a Hollywood power couple, their disappearance has brought on frenzy in the media. When Jack Morgan starts to investigate the case, he faces hurdles after hurdles. But of course, he toils through and goes on to unearth facts that changes the whole image that the power couple maintained. On the other hand we have an individual who is on a killing spree and is leaving dead bodies in his wake. He seems to be killing at random and with no rhyme or reason. 

I love the Private series for what it brings to the table. This series always brings in a lot of glamour with it. Also, somehow Jack and his colleagues stand out apart from the rest of James Patterson protagonists. They have their own way of approaching a situation and the characters, especially Jack Morgan, aren’t as flawed as the rest of them. This plot brings in a lot of glamour, drama and action into the mix. The fast pace and the twists keeps the reader on their toes. It delivers exactly what a novel with James Patterson’s name on the cover usually promises. I have to admit though that I found that the narration faltered a bit with the dialogue delivery and apparent coincidences.  However, that takes away very little from the experience of reading this book.

This isn’t the best of the Private Series, but it does deliver on a lot of elements and thus is an interesting read.







21 November, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: The Author’s Quirky Glossary from The Sales Room


*** Special Feature - November 2014 ***

About the Author
The most vivid memory of R.T. Manu Ramesh’'s childhood is that of changing schools every two years owing to his father’s transferable job as a civil servant with the Government of India. It varied from a convent run by Catholic priests in white cassocks in a small town at one end of the spectrum to residential schools of ochre robed Hindu Sanyasis .He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the reputed RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, India, in 2006 and started his career in the IT industry as a software programmer. He however found his true calling a couple of years later when a dynamic, young, entrepreneur, invited him to join his start-up, Aurigo Software Technologies, as a part of the Sales and Marketing team. The firm was to expand in India in a big way. Playing a crucial role in the company’s growth Manu was instrumental in its foray into the India market and acquisition of first ten customers in India. He now works for an MNC and is based in San Jose, California. He is an avid tennis player and swimmer. He has an ear for music. He enjoys travelling, reading, water surfing and watching movies during free time.

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The Author’s Quirky Glossary

1) Tam Brahm : Short for Tamil Speaking Brahmins broadly categorized into Iyers ( worshippers of Lord Shiva ) and  Iyengars  ( worshippers of Lord Vishnu ) .In the old days the former could be recognized from prominent, horizontal, white lines drawn across their forehead while the latter from white and red lines drawn vertically. Today they are both recognized by their obsession for mathematics and a deeply held belief that any ailment can be cured by drinking copious quantities of milk (even lactose intolerance) and a vegetarian diet. The wild and fun loving ones, those your mom tells you not to hang around with, violate the Tam Brahm dietary code of conduct by eating eggs in a sensational show of rebellion and indignation!

2) Hijras : The lady boys of India sans the employment opportunities and social acceptance. They are relegated to performing at ceremonies, begging and sex work.  They are considered harbingers of good luck and virility, although that is the last thing a country with a population crises needs.

3) Sambar : A spicy vegetable and lentil stew made with tamarind and popular in the southern states of India. A dash of asafoetida is advised to prevent the one consuming it from rocketing into space owing to the flatulence which the lentils might cause.

4) Pav bhaji : A dish which comprises a thick potato based curry  and served with lightly toasted and buttered bread. Can broadly be categorized under ‘Indian street food’ i.e. food which is great to eat but in the event that things go wrong, shit will hit the fan, literally. I mean it. Have you ever heard of a person taking a crap 40 times in one day? I have!!

5) Ven Pongal and Shakara Pongal : A rice dish prepared in South India with dollop of clarified butter  . It can be made spicy ( ven pongal )or sweet (shakara Pongal ) and is often an  offering to  deities.  Obviously the Indian Gods don’t have to worry about diabetes and calories.

6) Vada Pav : A popular spicy Indian variation of  the burger .It is  100 % vegetarian and hence appropriate for a country in which the cow is worshipped.  And yes, it is India’s answer to Mcdonalds.

7) Anushtub : A meter in poetic form  in the Sanskrit language consisting of four lines of eight syllables each

8) Sidhuisms : One-liners which Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu comes up with while dishing out expert commentary during the course of a match .  Some of the popular ones include “ Wickets are like wives you never know which way they will turn”, “ bad habits are like soft beds, very easy to get into but very difficult to get out off “, “ You are like a ship stuck in the fog, always blowing your horn”

9) Yudhistira : A character in Indian mythology known for his unflinching adherence to truth and righteousness. Also known for the fact that he shared his wife with his four bothers. It has however been established that the sex was one on one and the brothers  did not indulge in ménage-a –trios or anything as or more exciting

10) Rasam Sadam ( Rice and Rasam ) : Rasam is a South Indian soup prepared with tamarind , tomatoes and other ingredients.  It is the basis of the Mulligatawny soup made popular in the west by the English who went back home after sampling the local Indian flavors ( flavors include but are  not restricted to food)

11)  Haftas : Protection money which serves as a income for gangsters and  augments the meager salaries of  Indian Policemen.

12) Mama : Literally means mother’s brother . It is also used to refer to the cops who need to be bribed

About the Book
Rajesh Iyer, a young, ambitious salesperson, returns to ñThe Sales Roomî of Oregon Software Technologies after an aborted attempt at getting into a business school in the US, only to notice the metamorphosis of the software start-up which he had earlier been an integral part of. What used to be a rat-infested hole in the midst of a vegetable market is now a swanky, state of the art facility owned by an upcoming Bollywood star. The enthusiastic and compact team firing on all cylinders is replaced by a sclerotic and bureaucratic set up. Sales review meetings, once rife with passionate discussions, are now replete with profanities. The ill tempered angel investor's scream can be heard all the way from his villa in New York.Rajesh, now shunted into an innocuous role finds every effort made to alleviate the condition of the demoralized sales team, met with resistance. As revenues dwindle and tempers rise, Rajesh realizes he is running out of time and options. He either toes the CEO, Venky's line and becomes party to a sham or quits citing a host of plausible reasons. This hilarious narrative takes the reader from plush corporate boardrooms of Bangalore to the seedy hotels in Delhi as Oregon meanders in search of illusory customer wins. Rajesh meets several interesting characters ranging from the busty Polish graphics designer to the loquacious pimp masquerading as a taxi driver.


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Giveaway 
1 Autographed Paperback Copy of The Sales Room by R.T.Manu Ramesh to a lucky Indian Resident.

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20 November, 2014

#GuestPost :: Books Constantly Disappoint by Jenny Morton Potts

Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realising she was living someone else’s life. 
Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code, wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 26 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Derbyshire.


BOOKS CONSTANTLY DISAPPOINT! 
(musings, love and abuse on literary fiction)

‘Books constantly disappoint me.’ That’s what Donna Tartt said recently and I was relieved to hear someone I so admire say it. She obviously has high expectations in contemporary literary fiction and so do I. What so often happens is that I am thirty pages in, or forty or seventy if I’m lucky, and staggered with the sheer excellence of what I am reading, and then this feeling starts to shuffle towards a ledge, which begins to crumble and soon the novel is plummeting. This doesn’t happen of course if I am reading a Donna Tartt book and perhaps, since she takes ten years to write one, this is why she is able to avoid these ledges. Sometimes I wonder if these black holes in prose exist because the authors are so well established that their editor hesitates to say, ‘Fuck Martin (I had Amis in mind and he’s a blog on his own), this middle section’s a bit shit’. (Because the middle is the one mostly and rightly castigated. It has a difficult spot as middle children, my sister tells me, do. The beginning of the novel is the exuberant, untethered baby. The end is the eldest: mature and ready for resolution.) But no, I don’t believe this fault lies with a reticence in the editor, because the same thing often happens in debut novels, and I think we all know how much clout the editor has here: all of it. Middle kids are tricky. And maybe we just have to make the novel as good as we can within a reasonable time frame. The ten years Donna Tartt spends is only reasonable for her because her sales support a decade’s essential life revenue. For the rest of us, we have a year or eighteen months. So there’s that.
Personally, I write in a torrent which gushes forth to be later tamed in revision. I am totally immersed in the world of my characters. Love them deeply, worry for them, tut at them, comfort them, cry and laugh out loud with them. I wouldn’t want to be doing that for ten years, so I just make my books as good as I can within a six month period, then ship out to my book editor and reclaim my real family who wait patiently for my return. So there’s that too.

On occasion, it’s the whole book which does it for me: Accordian Crimes, The English Passengers and once my life was utterly changed reading A Noise from the Woodshed. But mostly it’s: the style, even just one sentence, or the genius of a particular chapter, hilarious dialogue, a passage of utter truth, a concept of shining new. It’s the writing, in bits, chunks or till The End. The butterflies in the stomach when meaning romps home.

Footnote: To contradict what I have said above, I was disappointed with The Goldfinch but thought the middle, Las Vegas, section was the best! But my admiration for Tartt remains intact because I love it that she had a crack at the meaning of life at the end. And if you plan on writing one of the most memorable books of the 21st century, you have to have a crack at the point of everything.


Lawrence Fyre and Marin Strang aren’t like other people. 

He is the eccentric owner of failing Sargasso Books in the Brighton Lanes. She is an ex-Jehovah’s Witness and isolated Spanish teacher. If they live together in his illegal, beautiful, rope laddered lock-up, can their love overcome their losses? 

Original, sexy, very funny and deeply moving. An author in complete control of a number of unforgettable characters and emotional highs and lows, Jenny Morton Potts leaves the reader breathless, and wanting more. 



19 November, 2014

#BookReview :: The Match Maker (The Husband Maker #2) by Karey White

Match Maker
Blog Tour hosted by I Am A Reader November 4th to 21st Tour Schedule

Match Maker Book Cover  The Match Maker by Karey White (The Husband Maker #2) (Summary contains spoilers if you have not yet read book #1 The Husband Maker) It’s been six months since Charlotte and Kyle broke up, and the Husband Maker strikes again. Kyle is officially engaged, while Charlotte is still nursing a broken heart. In an effort to get Charlotte out of her rut, she and her best friend decide it’s time for some good old-fashioned matchmaking. While Aleena arranges for Charlotte to meet up with a handsome Scottish tourist, Charlotte gets her two best friends together. But when sparks start to fly between Aleena and Angus, Charlotte is left feeling more alone that ever--at least until the charming Scotsman becomes more than just a safe, rebound guy and teaches her that maybe, just maybe, she can dare to open her heart again.

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The Match Maker is the second book in The Husband Maker Series. If you haven’t read the first book yet, I recommend that you pick it up first before moving on with the series. You can check out my review of  The Husband Maker here.

The first book had ended with adding another strike into keeping up Charlotte’s nickname of husband maker as Kyle gets married within six months of breaking up with her. Enter the Scottish hottie Flynn… Aleena pushes Charlotte into going out with Flynn and once Charlotte and Flynn get to know each other, they hit it off quite well. Charlotte keeps insisting on being just friends though it is quite clear that Flynn would like to be more. Meanwhile, Charlotte sets up Aleena and Angus.

Flynn is an amazing character and I loved reading about him. He is fun, sporting and sensitive at the same time. Also, I do like the fact that this book has more ‘courting’ than the first and I loved the slow growing emotions at both end. The author manages to keep up a smooth flow of the story between the two books and the two separate characters.

I usually like to keep my reviews spoiler free, but in this case I just cannot. So, SPOILER ALERT… Do not read beyond this point if you do not want SPOILERS.
If you have read my previous review, you know that I saw it coming between Charlotte and Angus. So the ending of this book was just too predictable and clichéd for me. I felt highly let down by the turn of events. If Charlotte had to end up with Angus eventually, then it could have been done in one book instead making us read three books just to prove the husband maker point.

Anyway, overall this is an enjoyable book. The moments between Flynn and Charlotte make up somewhat for the clichéd ending. 




Excerpt

“What were you thinkin’?” he asked.

I shook my head. “You don’t want to know.”

Flynn raised an eyebrow. “Why wouldn’t I want to know?”

I shrugged.

“Ah, so you’re making me guess?”

“I doubt you could guess what I was thinking.”

“Can I try?”

I laughed. “Sure, you can try.”

“And you’ll tell me if I’m right?”

I knew he would never guess what I was thinking, so what was the harm in him trying? “Sure. I’ll tell you if you’re right.”

“Well, you’re frownin’ but you say you’re not angry, so it must be something you’re fretting over. Am I on the right path?”

I shrugged and nodded a little at the same time. “Keep going. This might be very enlightening.”

Flynn kept his expression serious as he looked at me, but it was clear from his eyes that he was smiling. “You said you’ve just been heartbroken and maybe you’re not sure you want to date yet.”

I opened my eyes wide and Flynn bit back his smile.

“And here you are with me. And you’re finding me endlessly fascinating and you’re starting to wonder how you’re going to spend the day with me without falling madly in love.”

A laugh that sounded more like a snort escaped my mouth. Flynn was now grinning.

“How’d I do?” he asked.

“Pretty good. Until you got to the falling in love with you part. I was actually trying to figure out how to make sure you knew this wasn’t a date date. If you know what I mean.”

“You want me to know this is just a date, not a date date?”

“I’m thinking of it more like an appointment instead of a date.” I couldn’t believe I was saying this to him, but we were both smiling, and he didn’t seem the least bit upset. I suddenly felt comfortable and calm. He had practically read my mind and now I didn’t have to worry, because he knew exactly where my head was.

“An appointment, eh? Isn’t that more like a haircut? Or a filling in a tooth?”

I laughed again. “Maybe appointment is a bad choice of words.”

“Let’s just call it a play date. Like kids. That way we can have fun with no worries, and if I feel like it, I can pull your hair—”at this point he tugged on my ponytail “—or wrestle you to the ground.”

Now I raised both eyebrows.

“Ya know. Like kids do when they’re playing.”

“Okay, it’s a play date,” I agreed. “Not an appointment. But wrestling me to the ground is strictly forbidden. And you don’t need to worry. I’m not ready to fall in love with anyone right now. Not even a cute guy with a great accent.”

“Ah, she’s fallin’ already.” He bumped against me with his shoulder and we both smiled as we leaned on the rail and looked back at the silvery city.



Husband Maker Cover

Have you read the first book in the series?
The Husband Maker by Karey White

Grab your copy from
 


Wife Maker 2



Coming Spring 2015
The conclusion to The Husband Maker Series
The Wife Maker by Karey White







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.

 




Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 11/30/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway