31 December, 2015

#BookReview :: Shakti – the Divine Feminine by Anuja Chandramouli

Lose yourself in Maya, the divine game of the Goddess!

She is the Mother Goddess, Mahamaya the enchantress, the supreme consciousness, the pure source from which all creation emerges and to whom all must eventually return. As Usas, the enchanting goddess of the dawn, she is loved passionately and hated fiercely, leading to a horrific tragedy. As Durga, the invincible warrior, she defeats the savage Mahishasura, whom none of the male gods could vanquish. As Kali, the fearsome dark goddess, she delights in chaos. Yet she is also Shakti, beloved of all, who, when united with Shiva, restores balance to the universe.

In this captivating narrative, explore the contrasting facets of the sacred feminine; experience her awesome power, forged on the flames of love and hate; and watch her teach the male-dominated pantheon a lesson in compassion. Witty, engaging and thought-provoking, Shakti: The Feminine Divine will force readers to re-evaluate everything they know about the gods and goddesses and inspire all to embrace the Shakti within.

Shakti – the Divine Feminine is Anuja Chandramouli’s third book. Her first book Arjuna had caught my attention and the second book Kamadeva was wonderful. As such it was a no brainer that I would pick her third book up without second thoughts.

In this installment, the author narrates the story, or rather the stories of Shakti, the mother goddess in all her forms. Starting with the story of Usas, the author goes on to paint the many lives of Shakti in brilliant and vivid colours. Lord Indra and his wife Sachi play the part of the antagonist and while I was a bit surprised with this take at the beginning, it soon started to make sense. There are a lot of shades and hues to each character and the story is one heck of a roller coaster journey. What remains constant is Shakti’s relationship with the Holy Trinity providing some resemblance of stability. 

If I have to point out one thing that I did not like about the book or felt was the only weak link in the book was the author’s focus on Indra & his wife’s life. There are places in the book when it was almost difficult to remember that Shakti is the protagonist and not them. Other than that I enjoyed reading this book immensely. The author, who was quite good to begin with, seems to only grow with each book. Her language is grand and has mesmerizing moments. But the best part about her narration is that it is almost impossible to figure out which part of her book is fictional. It is easy to get lost in the book and forget that it is after all a work of fiction.

Another shining element of the book is the fact how relevant it is in today’s world while talking about Indian mythology. Many aspects of the book really resonated with me and I would recommend this book to not only women but also to men – to read it and to try and understand how relevant it is.

Review Copy received from the Author

30 December, 2015

#Interview with Becky Jerams, #Author of Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me

About the Author:
Becky Jerams (born June 26th, 1987) is a writer and musician from Portsmouth, UK. Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me is her debut novel and has been featured on the website Wattpad where it has gained many loyal readers and over two million hits. After receiving such an overwhelming response for her writing, she recently released the new and improved edition of her story as an official eBook through Kindle Direct Publishing.

She lives with her boyfriend in a little flat near the sea and splits her time between fiction writing, songwriting sessions, performing acoustic gigs and working in a student art shop. Her songs have been featured internationally on various shows and adverts, and her stories have been read by thousands of young people across the world gaining her fans from UK, US, Spain, Philippines, Nigeria, France, Egypt, Jamaica, Australia, India and beyond. Her pacey, emotional style of writing aimed for a young adult audience has been compared to the likes of John Green, David Levithan and Jenny Downham.

Becky is currently working on the spin-off sequel to Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me titled Could You Love An Apple? which will be available on Kindle in the near future. She hopes to continue writing about the characters she has created for as long as people want to keep reading about them.

Interview with the Author: 

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I have always written stories right from when I was a small child in my creative writing classes at school. I had a big imagination growing up and would often spend hours making up stories and little home-made books with my own illustrations. As I got older, this skill transferred to music and lyric writing. I spent many years honing my musical craft and the thought of fiction writing didn’t really cross my mind until a few years ago when I stumbled across the website Wattpad and felt inspired to try my hand at it. I never realised how passionate I felt about writing books until I was finally doing it. Now I seriously couldn’t imagine my life without it!

What inspires you to write?
Many things inspire me to write, whether it’s people and situations from my own life or just beautiful imagery and characters from other media that spark my imagination.  I always try and put a bit of myself into every scene and write elements of my own experience into my stories.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
When it came to Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me, my aim was to throw all my favourite things together in one book and see what happened. I love reading boy x boy stories and I know the genre is very popular, plus I feel very strongly about gay rights so I decided to go down that route with the romance side of things. Then I added all my passions to the mix – music, headstrong females, a brooding rocker boy, geeky pop culture references and lots of melodrama. I just wrote the kind of story I’d want to read and luckily for me, others responded to it!

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Before I wrote RTLANLM I attempted quite a few different novel ideas that never quite got off the ground. I have one story all about a female professional songwriter who finds herself falling for the spoiled movie star she is writing music with. I also had another tale about a socially awkward middle-aged widower who takes in a young teenage rebel. I would love to go back to some of these stories someday because I loved the ideas and the characters but I wasn’t quite skilled enough at the time to finish them to the standard I wanted. Maybe now I’ve had some more practice I can tackle them again!

Tell us about your writing process.
When I’m writing, the first thing that comes to me are the characters and the concept of what is going to happen to them. I see certain scenes very vividly and I liked to fully realise my end goal of writing the story before I start. After I have the ideas, I sketch out a vague outline of chapters and some sort of plan to follow. However, I usually find that the story takes on a life of its own once I start writing and the pacing can change drastically, so I use the chapter outlines as more of a general guideline than anything else.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favourite scene in Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me is the moment when Scotty finally confesses his feelings to the person he likes (I won’t give away too much for those who haven’t read the story yet). It’s really the magic movie moment where everyone is waiting with baited breath to find out what’s going to happen. I loved hearing people’s reactions to that scene and I could picture it perfectly in my head as I was writing it.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
I think a lot of my characters have inherited some of my quirks. Scotty definitely has my dorky sense of humour and socially awkward moments. Like him I always look back on situations and wonder why on earth I said something so embarrassing! I’m not quite as bossy as Olive, but I’m definitely nosey like her and love to know everything about everybody’s business. I’m also a total music geek like Vincent – although unlike him I actually love pop music!

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
Whenever I am coming up with ideas, I tend to pace around wiggling my fingers. I’m not sure why but it just seems to get my brain juices flowing. Of course, once I start typing up the ideas then I have to stop wiggling otherwise it would be very difficult to get anything done effectively.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I am quite a slow reader but there are lots of authors who have influenced my tastes and writing style. Growing up I was completely obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson and the way she makes such simple, heartfelt stories from big complex issues is something I have very much tried to emulate. I am a huge lover of teen fiction and chick lit from authors such as Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Louise Rennison, Sophie Kinsella and Lisa Jewell. The way they tell their stories with such vibrant characters and weave comedy and tragedy seamlessly has been a huge influence to me. On the edgier side of the spectrum I have been influenced by writers such as Ben Elton and Louise O’Neill, both writers with something to say. Oh and of course, massive shout-out to JK Rowling, the Queen of all of us.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
The best advice I ever got about writing was from my Mum who taught me everything I know about building a good story. She told me that the main thing to remember whilst constructing characters is what drives them at every point of the story. If you know what drives your character and what makes them do the things they do then you can’t go too far wrong. She also always tells me to “write what you know” which I think is stellar advice.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
My best advice for someone who wants to get into writing is simply to write. I spent way too many years talking about writing and thinking about writing rather than actually getting on and writing. Once I started actually putting pen to paper and fingers to keys, everything else fell into place. It’s difficult knowing where to even begin sometimes, but the best thing you can do is pick a starting point and just go for it!

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
My dream cast for Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me would be the following:
Scotty – Matt Bennett
Vincent – Nicholas Hoult
Olive – Taylor Swift (from the You Belong With Me video)
Taylor – Chad Michael Murray (in his teenage years)
Alexis – Sophie Wu

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I’d have to have my Ipod with me (which I’m assuming I could magically charge by sunlight on this imaginary deserted island), a great book and a stash of snacks to last me until I got rescued.

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I love to spend my free time surfing the net, reading and watching TV! It’s also great to take books outside during the summer and read. I live five minutes from the sea so it’s lovely to go down to the beach with a good book. Only when it’s sunny though (which unfortunately isn’t very often here in UK!)

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I desperately want to go to Japan and see the bright lights of Tokyo. That is definitely something I am going to make happen before I die!

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
1. I am a singer/songwriter and my music has been used on various TV shows and adverts across the world. 
2. I am a huge lover of anything “kawaii” and my computer den is plastered with many pikachus, hello kittys and other cute things. 
3. I have been with my boyfriend for the past nine years, he was my first kiss and when it happened I felt so dizzy with butterflies that I almost missed my stop on the bus home!

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I am currently editing the spin-off sequel to RTANLM titled Could You Love An Apple and I am hoping to release it as an ebook by next summer. I have lots more ideas and hope to keep making books as long as people want to keep reading them.

About the Book:
"Scotty Williams is the nerdiest 17-year-old at Havensdale College - and proud of it. However being a nerd can have its downsides, particularly when you're constantly being targeted by the school bully Taylor Raven and his cronies. As Scotty tries to navigate his final college years with the aid of his best friend Olive, he also finds himself on the radar of the mysterious and intimidating Vincent Hunter, toughest guy in the Sixth Form. Is Vincent really as bad as he seems? Will Scotty's darkest secret ever be revealed? Can he ever just finish his last few college years in peace? But most importantly... will any guy ever find the reasons to love a nerd like him?

The Wattpad hit "Reasons To Love A Nerd Like Me" by Becky Jerams comes to Kindle for the first time in a new and improved edition. With over 2.5 million reads and counting, the first draft has resonated with readers across the world and been compared to authors such as John Green and David Levithan. Recommended for fans of teen drama and unconventional romance."

29 December, 2015

#Interview with Jagmohan Bhanver, #Author of The Curse of Brahma

The man who became a Brahmarishi...
The curse that banished him to the hell of hells...
And the revenge that threatens to destroy the three worlds...

When Lord Brahma, the God of Creation, banishes his star pupil from Swarglok in a fit of rage, he does not foresee that his decision will alter the fate of the three worlds. Mortally wounded, and anguished at Brahma's unfair punishment, his pupil struggles to survive in Tamastamah Prabha, the hell of hells. In time, he becomes the Dark Lord, the most feared figure in Pataal Lok, who swears to destroy Brahma.

The power of the Dark Lord soon begins to make its presence felt in the mortal world. Vasudev, the brave prince of Bateshwar, becomes the hunter of Asura assassins; his closest friend, Kansa, almost dies while trying to save his sister from a group of deadly monsters; and the most valiant kings in Mrityulok turn over to the dark side, driven by forces beyond their control.

Only one person threatens the Dark Lord's well-laid plans - Devki, the beautiful princess of Madhuvan, who is destined to give birth to the warrior Krishna.

Will the Dark Lord allow Krishna - the person who has been prophesied to destroy him - to be born?

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I started writing at the age of 12. But I had been a story teller much before that. Ask my mother and she will tell you the stories I told her to keep away from being punished :)
On a serious note, writing served to calm me, right from my early years. I used to read a lot. I started reading classics at a very early age and if I remember correctly, I had finished most of the English classics by the time I was fifteen. Thereon, I moved to Russian literature and by 17 I was done with that. It was only then that I picked up a few old texts form Indian authors and realized that Indian stories had a charm of their own. And they stood up to the likes of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bronte sisters, Dickens, Eliot and Hardy. 
I knew then that I had stories to tell and that there was a surge of them waiting to erupt. Till then I used to narrate stories to friends during the lonely long hours of hostel life and later after work. But I finally decided to start putting them down on paper around 2001. And that got me to seriously start thinking of leaving banking and making some sea changes to my life. 

What inspires you to write?
There are a multitude of stories hidden away in the recesses of my mind. And when an idea gets hold of me, it is like being driven by an ague. You can’t sleep, you can’t think of anything else. You have to write. And writing provides succor and peace. 
The experience of seeing your characters come to life on paper is the biggest high. Creating a story where none existed before, is another. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Living in UP (Uttar Pradesh) where I spent majority of my earlier life, it was impossible not to have heard of Krishna. Moreover, with the name that I have (Jag-Mohan), it was natural for everyone during childhood to jestingly comment that I was behaving like Krishna and that I was his namesake. 
So, I just happened to get very close to the subject of Krishna from a very early age. As I grew older and read more about Krishna, I realized there was far more to him than we made it out to be. I resolved to research this. 
Therefore when I took a sabbatical from my banking career in 2004, I started reading whatever material I could find on Krishna, including Vedic texts that date back thousands of years. 
And I realized that the story of Krishna as we know it could well be a myth....that the actual story might in fact have been so terrifying that history was compelled to hide the truth. After all, when we are talking of time dating back thousands of years, who can be certain where fact ends, and fiction begins. 
I had a two-fold objective in writing the Krishna trilogy. One, to tell my version of the truth! And secondly, to narrate it in a way that can appeal to the young of our country. A lot of us have lost interest in our culture because the way our old stories are narrated has not changed over time. Our children are happy reading about Greek mythology and Roman characters because those stories are written and narrated in a contemporary manner. All books in the Krishna trilogy have been written in a manner that it excites our readers and encourages them to take pride in our culture. Also, earlier it was the natural responsibility of grandparents to imbue the young with a sense of their culture. With families getting increasingly fragmented, tales told to children earlier by older members now require another medium to do so. The change in family structures has compelled writers like me to re-tell our ancient stories, blending research with imagination.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes, there are many. I have more than two dozen stories waiting in my Book concepts” folder in the laptop. Some days, I feel I need to have a few more lives to be able to put all of them on paper. Maybe some day, a few of these will get written. 
But for the next five years, I already have a few books that demand to be narrated. These will get done first :)

Tell us about your writing process.
You see, unlike majority of the Indian authors, I do both, non fiction as well as fiction. The writing style varies in both cases. 
When I write nonfiction, I select a subject that I have deep expertise in. Therefore, when I wrote Think your way to Millions, I was one of the handful of people in the country who knew about behavioral finance (the subject of that book). Or when I penned down Get Happy Now, I had just come out of the unhappiest phase of my life and I was in a zone where I had been able to live through it, and even be happy. I felt it put me in a position here I could share the same concepts with others. When Hachette India asked me to write about Satya Nadella & Microsoft or about Sundar Pichai & Google, they did so because they knew I understood biographies and the tech sector really well. So expertise is key when I do non fiction. 
Fiction is a different matter altogether. For me, if it is a piece of fiction, it ought to be an idea that I am really passionate about. It needs to get into every part of my system, my mind for me to write it. If it doesn’t stop me from sleeping or doing anything else that I do on a regular day, then the idea is worthless for me. 
When I decided to dedicate eight years of my life to researching Krishna, I did it because I knew I would not be at peace till I had done it and written the Krishna Trilogy. 
So writing fiction for me is a way to calm myself, to be at peace with the demons inside. To create stories where none existed before and give life to characters that can touch the heart of the reader. If I can create a character that resonates with the reader; makes them love the character even if the character is evil, then the purpose has been served. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
So, there is this scene where Kansa and his sister (Devki) meet. She has come to share something with him and she is worried about him. However, when she sees Kansa, she sees a changed man; someone who has metamorphosed from the caring and compassionate Prince of Madhuvan into a creature she cannot recognize anymore. She loves him and she hates him. She is scared for him and yet at the same time she is also fearful for his own safety. It’s a classic scene where a hundred emotions intertwine, and one doesn’t know any longer who is right or wrong.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
The Dark Lord (Amartya Kalyanesu) has a bit of me. And I think so does Kansa and Vasudeva. They have my tender side and also a bit of my dark one. I think when you write with your heart and soul, you find facets of yourself that you had never known existed earlier. And some of that finds its way into your characters. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know what I am going to write till I have written it. Sometimes, I don’t even know what I am going to do to the character in a particular scene. I allow myself to get into the zone and then the story unravels itself. All I have to do is type fast enough to capture it. That to me is the strangest and the most fulfilling thing about the way I write. The story tells itself. I keep pace with putting it down. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
For as far back as I can remember, I have been an avid reader. As a child I used to find solace in reading because I did not have many friends. Later I read because it was an integral part of who I had become. I read on an average 100 books a year and I think it has been this way for as long as I can recall. 
My favorite authors are Charles Dickens, Thomas, Hardy, Rohinton Mistry,, Hemingway, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Prem Chand. The list is endless. 
You become what you read! So I guess my personality to an extent has been shaped by what I have read. And somehow that finds its way into what I write too. So, I focus on relationships. It could be a mythological fiction or a love story or a crime novel. But for me, delineating the relationships and what is going on in the mind of the character becomes paramount. 
If you read The Curse of Brahma (Vol 1 in the Krishna Trilogy), you will realize what I am talking about. Even a character likes Kansa evokes love and sympathy. And that is because of the way his relationships with people around him have been developed, or the insights one gets into his mind as one reads the story. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
I don’t take advice on writing, actually. Writing is a very personal thing. To me, it’s sacred…like marriage. One evolves one’s own way of dealing with it and enjoying it. One doesn’t take advice on it. It’s not arrogance. It’s about respecting your own art and being true to it. When you do that, you do well. Not necessarily be any one else’s standards. But certainly by your own. And in the end, that is very important. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
As I said, writing is personal. One shouldn’t give or take advice on it. If however, you would want me to share a few things I have picked up on the way, I could do that.  The decision to follow it lies with the other person.
If you are writing nonfiction, select a subject where you are the expert. If it is fiction that you want to focus on, write about what you are passionate about. Don’t emulate the writing style of other authors Develop your own brand of writing and your own expression. There’s a greater chance of being recognized that way. And finally, don’t wait for the perfect moment to start writing. The perfect moment seldom happens. Make time to write. Use the weekend or the flight time or any other time you can make use of. But start writing!

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
The book has too many characters to put them all down. But if I had a choice it would be something like this. Varun Dhawan or Aamir Khan would do great as Krishna. Deepika Padukone as Rukmani. Arjun Rampal as Kansa. Priyanka Chopra as Devki. The Dark Lord (Amartya Kalyanesu) I am not too certain; that’s a very complex character, but perhaps Siddharth Malhotra. Saif Ali Khan as Vasudev. 

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
If I can’t carry people with me, then it would be my laptop (with unlimited battery supply), music and tones of toilet paper. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Whatever free time I have, I prefer to spend with my wife, kids and my Labrador. It could be anywhere. Could be a beach or a mountain resort. 

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
Haha. As long as I don’t get sued on this one…. 
ONE: I have suffered from some OCDs since childhood. Some of them are downright funny. I remember as an 11 eleven old I used to have this obsessive urge to keep turning around and staring at the passenger sitting behind me in the bus. Sounds funny now, used to be crazy back then. 
TWO:  I like to have the best part of my food, right at the end of the meal, preferring to eat the lesser tasty stuff before that. So most occasions by the time I reach the end, the guys in the hostel used to gobble up the rest of it. These days my kids and my Labrador do that :)
THREE: I have this thing about calling up people (family, close friends) and speaking as someone else in a different voice and tone. It gets really hilarious at times when they don’t know who is calling and you feed them all manner of information that has the potential to surprise and shock them. Of course, I avoid meeting them for a bit after that. You never know who might want to hit you on the head for this :)

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Pichai – The future of Google (with Hachette) – releasing Dec 2015
Click (with Hachette) releasing in April 2016
The Rise of the Yadavas (Vol 2 in the Krishna Trilogy) – releasing in April 2016

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Live the life you dream of leading; 
Be the person you want others to be;
Don’t miss the woods, getting entangled in the trees;
Smile more, even when you don’t feel like it;
Love others, and you will fall in love with yourself too
Love yourself, and you will find it easier to love others too!

About the Author:

Jagmohan’s first book (self help genre) titled "Get Happy Now" was on the best selling lists of most countries and on the Top ten list of leading bookstores in India. His second book, titled "Think your way to Millions" which is on the subject of Behavioral Finance was nominated for the best non-fiction award by Hutch-Crossword in India. This is one of the few books on behavioral finance. His third book was titled “Nadella – The Changing Face of Microsoft.” This book was published by Hachette, the largest publishers in the world. Jagmohan’s latest book is part of a three-volume trilogy on Krishna and is considered as the most awaited book in 2015. It is titled, “The Curse of Brahma.” 


- 500 INR Flipkart Voucher
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(Open to Indian Residents Only)
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25 December, 2015

#BookReview :: Hark – A Christmas Collection by Justin Bog

A beautifully written collection of short stories from critically acclaimed Pacific Northwest writer Justin Bog, Hark---A Christmas Collection explores the range of emotions surrounding the holidays. From melancholy to madness, loss and despair to hope and forgiveness, these six tales shimmer with feelings, some we'd rather stuff away, that Christmas can evoke.

Within Hark—A Christmas Collection, a retired police officer faces another Christmas Eve while bitter recollections haunt his every turn, a lonely businesswoman plans to seduce Santa Claus one Christmas Eve, a widow grows anxious searching for a misplaced present she intended to send to her ungrateful sister, a woman can't keep the images of her past---these ghosts---from haunting the life she chooses to live; while attending a Christmas party in Sun Valley, Idaho, a bookstore clerk and his partner are taught a lesson most un-holidaylike, and, in the final story, a couple portrays Mr. & Mrs. Claus in their small island town holiday festivities and face a grim diagnosis together. 

Set in colorful locations around the United States, from Anacortes, Washington, to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Sun Valley, Idaho, each tale focuses on people who struggle to make good choices, learn lessons, and maybe even find peace during the holiday season.

Having read Justin Bog’s previous books, I kind of knew not to expect anything from the book while picking it up. The author always takes a new road and forges his own path with his unique style of storytelling.

There are six stories in the collection. In ‘Hark’ a police officer looks back on how one event changed his life forever. The next story, ‘Seducing Santa’, tells us about a woman daydreaming about her very own Santa. ‘Bracelet’ is about a misplaced gift and the relationship between two sisters. ‘Everyone wants me to’ is about a girl who is all but invisible too her parents, about her life and that of her family. ‘Snow Globe’ touches upon the subject of homosexuality and the society. ‘The Heralds’ is about an aging couple and their much anticipated stint as Mr.& Mrs. Claus. 

The above one-liners do not give out much about the stories and neither do they capture the true essence of the stories. Yet I chose to give one-liners as I really want other readers to pick up the book and experience it for themselves without having any prior expectations from it. 

Each story in the book brings forward a different aspect of life and emotion. People usually relate joy, happiness and hope with the Christmas season. But it is also the time when other emotions bubble up to the surface for many people – loss, loneliness, despair, pain, regret, anger, forgiveness. It is these emotions that the author has explored through his short stories. Some of the stories are light hearted and some even humourous; but all of them have a darker tinge to them if you look closely enough. If you are looking for Christmas joy and miracle stories, this collection is probably not for you.

Justin Bog has proved over and over again that he is a master storyteller. He artfully takes simple situations and portrays the depth of emotions that a person can feel. This is the third book that I have read by this author, and he still manages to surprise me and keep me guessing. Polished language and smooth flow in his narration are his prime assets.

Like with every other book of his (that I have read) this book too is not for everyone. A lot of people might feel disappointed if they pick this one up expecting sweetness and cheer dripping from it. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read ‘something different’ from time to time and has no issues with exploring every aspect of the season and not just the sunshine.

Review Copy received from the Author

19 December, 2015

#CoverReveal :: Entwined Destiny by Nana Prah

Entwined Destiny by +Nana Prah 
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Release date: January 12, 2015

Time is ticking away for Adjoa Twum. She has until the end of the year to find a guy, fall in love, and marry. Or else, her father will disinherit her from the family business.
Adjoa hasn’t had success with the dating game. No man meets her expectations. Esi, her cousin, suggests a fake relationship with Adjoa’s best friend, Kwame Opoku, to pacify her relentless father.
Kwame thinks Adjoa’s request is ridiculous. Posing as her boyfriend might get tricky, but he can’t say no to those beautiful eyes. Once the falsified relationship begins, things heat up. He discovers deep feelings for her, feelings that might lose Adjoa and her friendship.
Should they take the chance and up it to the next level?

Adjoa’s polite knuckle knock hadn’t worked, so her fist had to meet the door. He could sleep through anything. “Kwame, it’s me.”
When the door swung open, her eyes met a tall, sexy man with no shirt. The sprinkling of dark curly hair on his well-muscled chest forced her fingers to grip the handle of her bag so she wouldn’t reach out to stroke him.
A bicep flexed as he reached up to rub his eye. She’d always been a sucker for a man with a well-toned body, and this one met all of her muscle criteria.
Her gaze roamed up to the face scowling down at her. Holy crap. It was Kwame’s body she’d been ogling. She pushed past him so he couldn’t see her blush and headed into the kitchen. Grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, she gulped it down. It didn’t come close to cooling her off. What was going on?
“Why aren’t you dressed? It’s seven.” She glanced down at her watch. “Five after seven to be exact. You should be ready to go.”
“I had a late night.”
Another swig of water at the sound of the sexy rumble of his morning voice didn’t help with the quiver in her stomach. Who was this man and why did he affect her like this? She hadn’t felt this way since she’d had that brief flutter of attraction in college. It had been easy to get over him when he started dating that hussy architect major.
“What were you doing? Computer work?” Please say yes. For years, they’d avoided detailed discussions about the people they dated; it seemed to be a mutual unspoken agreement between them.
“You know me too well.”
Relief flowed out of her in the form of a long exhale, glad he hadn’t been with a woman last night. Not that it should matter. Just because she’d asked him to be her fake man didn’t mean he couldn’t see other women. She didn’t even care. “Not good enough to circumvent you not being awake by now. Get going. Make it quick so both of us aren’t late.”
As he shuffled toward the bathroom, her gaze wandered down to his tight ass. Placing the cold, half-empty water bottle on her warm neck, she snapped her attention away. All of a sudden, her nerdy friend Kwame had morphed into a tempting man.

Nana Prah is a multi-published author of contemporary, multicultural romance. Her books are sweet with a touch of spice. When she’s not writing she’s reading, indulging in chocolate, and enjoying life with friends and family.

17 December, 2015

#BookReview : Gunshot Victims Unit by Vaibhav Mukhim

'Culture was untouchable. Their mixing would, and had in the past, proved to be extremely detrimental to peace and quiet.'

A world in which people have no regional affiliations. Where culture itself has gone mobile. Where the President, the man with the most power, has little to do but swim and play golf. Where ordinary people like Gru and Ronan care little about where they came from and where they are headed - and this whole system is balanced on just two simple laws.

In this dystopian world, the only equalising factor is gunshots.

Will the Gunshot Victims Unit, the last line of defence, be enough?

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Gunshot Victims Unit takes us to a dystopian world where the world has become a smaller place and yet the lines differentiating one culture from the other has never been stronger. The story revolves around how when a series of bodies are connected and everything points to a serial killer being out in the open. This killer is targeting North Indians only. With the GVU on the chase it is only a matter of time before he is caught and brought to justice, or is it?

The brightest aspect of the book is how the dystopian world is set. For once the future depicted seems very much possible. With internet and other scientific discoveries, the world in indeed becoming a smaller place removing a lot of hurdles and boundaries. At the same time, a lot of new lines are being drawn in the name of religion and caste. If you have been following the news even vaguely, you know what I mean. Instead of moving ahead, humanity seems to be taking step back to the dark ages in the name of religion and culture and as such, the world that the author has set up in this book seems like a distinct possible future of our world. 

The book has a good premise but it was not completely exploited. The plot seemed simple at the beginning and remained so for most parts. There were a few twists thrown in, but seasoned mystery lovers will most probably be able to see through them. The book has short chapters and multiple points of view that make it a quite fast and interesting read. However, I found it difficult to really connect with the characters and feel that some more groundwork on their backgrounds could have made the book even more interesting.

A fast and entertaining read for thriller lovers.

Review Copy received from Leadstart Publishing

16 December, 2015

#BookReview :: Breathless by Becki Brennan

What happens when an ordinary girl meets the man of everyone’s dreams?

Keeping secrets is never easy, especially since Ryan Spalding is on the cover of every magazine and this year's "Hottest Hunk under 30." Good thing Carly Sparks is so out of the loop when it comes to celebrity affairs, or she'd realize she was in one!

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The reason I chose to pick up this book was very simple. I wanted to read something light and breezy with spot of sweet romance. And this book did deliver on that.

Carly Sparks is anything but an ordinary girl. She is a lawyer who keeps busy in her work and has little time for everything else. Ryan Spalding is a hot movie star who is well known for his womanizing ways. Their paths cross at a mall when Ryan is in town for a movie shoot. Carly suffers from an asthma attack and Ryan comes to her rescue. Something about Carly attracts Ryan and he ends up spending a lot more (than required) time at the hospital with Carly. The twist in the tale is that Carly has no idea who Ryan is and Ryan takes this refreshing change of pace as a welcome break from his very tiring lifestyle. The rest, as they say, is history.

I liked the way the author has developed her two protagonists. They are pole opposite who come together to complete each other. They make sense together. Individually they can each hold their own. Carly is smart and emotional. Ryan is caring and sensitive. And they each had some flaws that made them feel more real to me. The plot is simple enough – what you think would happen, actually happens and there is hardly any surprise element in the book. However it is the author’s simple yet tantalizing narrative that holds the readers interest throughout the book.

Now you must be wondering that why I have not rated this book a five star when I have only good things to say about it. Well there are two reasons to it and they are both very personal choices. First, I wished for a bit refinement in the author’s language. And secondly, I prefer the love stories where two people grow to know each other and slowly fall in love. This story wasn’t insta-love – but the pace of their relationship was a bit too fast for my liking – especially with the background that the author has built up for them. They are really small things and may not matter much to your or they might be just what you look for in a simple romance book. You have to judge and decide for yourself whether they are deal makers or deal breakers for you.

Review Copy received from Vox Dei

15 December, 2015

#Interview with Kritika Sharma, #Author of Live-in with a Ghost.

About the Author:

Kritika is an enthusiast writer, reviewer, blogger and Senior Manager in a leading Market research company and is currently based in Mumbai.
Her passions lie in cooking, writing and reading. Apart from family and work, she spends most of her time reading different fantasy stories and she has eventually ended up building up one of her own. Kritika is also a singer and loves to write poems for varied occasions.

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My Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I have been writing since I was a little girl. My first poem was when I was less than 10 years old. Usually I wrote for myself, but after reading so many books in past years I wanted to give myself a chance and here I am, finally a published author.

What inspires you to write?
Everything has a story and an inspiration. Some hit home, some miss. People around me and daily events I witness inspire me to write.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Just like every other author, I have couple of stories in my shelf which I have never shared with anyone. However, I do hope to take them out one day 

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is very simple, I get inspired by an idea and cook up a whole story from start to end in my head. Once I am content that it can be shaped in a good form I pen it down. 
While writing I do change a lot of things and they depend on how the story flows (you see what you think usually doesn’t turn out same when you execute)

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It is the love confession scene of Jai and Jia. It is like the most waited moment of the story and the love that it emits is simply blissful

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Yes, the weird silence yet chattiness of Jia is something I have. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read a lot of books; my favourite author is J.K. Rowling. 
What I read has not influenced my writing style however it does inspire me to write more creatively and beautifully

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
“Learn to accept rejections and reject acceptance” – something I learnt in the very initial phase of my writing and I am glad to have learnt it

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Be yourself and have patience as being a writer is not an easy road to go down

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Hrithik Roshan always :)

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I spend my free time with my husband. We like to stay home and watch some movies or TV series… 

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I want to travel all the beautiful beaches across the world…

About the Book:

Jia & Jai have a unique love story where she is human and he is a ghost. They meet during an out-of-body experience after an accident. Although from different worlds, she is simple middle-class journalist and he is a rich playboy, they fall in love instantly. During the adventure of their relation they both go through various exciting events which include tears, laughter, love and even fighting-off goons. Throughout their relation, the only thing Jia fears is what if he wakes up and forgets her. And in the end of the story he does wake up but if he remembers her is yet to be known...

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14 December, 2015

#BookReview :: The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman

Sangita Sinclair was not always this successful & passionate lady, heading the NGO “Penn Urimai” for downtrodden, abused and homeless women….

When Sangita catches the eye of Gautam Sinclair she is a simple, homely girl; utterly unaware of her charms & capabilities. She has the devil’s own time in overcoming her inhibitions, hesitation, and her family’s orthodox and outdated rules before recognising her love for Gautam.

Will Gautam be able to solve Sangita’s Dilemma or will she be forever trapped in her past?

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Meet Sangita, the head of a NGO that works towards the betterment of abused and homeless women. At a glance, she is a smart, intelligent and successful lady who seems to have her life under control. But we all know that nothing as it seems on the surface and Sangita’s life is no different. She has had a difficult and tremulous life. All Sangita needed was Gautam to walk into her life. 
Sangita is a character who I wish reflected more women in our society. She is strong and even idealistic to a point. She knows what is right and doesn’t hesitate to fight for it no matter how great the opposition is. Gautam on the other hand feels like what an ‘ideal’ man should be like. Unfortunately they mostly seem to reside in the fictional world and very few can be spotted in the real life. He is caring and very supportive. He knows how to respect women and it doesn’t hurt that he is good looking too.

One thing that I strongly feel is that those days are gone when a person (whether a man or a woman, but especially woman) ‘needed’ another person to ‘complete’ them. With more and more women coming out of their shells and the restrictive boundaries of the society, they hardly need a man to ‘earn’ their living or change the bulb. Yet it is also undeniable that a supportive partner makes things easier for everyone. That is where this book won me over. Yes, Gautam played a big part in how Sangita fought for what she wanted and he supported her all the way through. But the way the author has built up Sangita’s character, I would like to believe that even without Gautam she would have been okay. She had insecurities and yet she always got things done when needed. Sangita and Gautam were partners in true sense as they counted each other as equals. Also, while to most people this book will appeal as a romance novel, the author has done an admirable job of depicting the social evils that hold back people. Society’s conventional view of what a woman should be like actually restricts our growth and progress. And whether we realize it or not we all fall back to encouraging it further. We need more people like Sangita and Gautam in our society. Then there is Sandeep whose innocence will melt your heart at times. The bond between mother and son is so pure.

The plot is well plotted and executed. It is kind of predictable yet that doesn’t take away from the reading experience. The author’s language narration style is engaging. The best part was perhaps the flawed characters and real emotions that the author has portrayed without over dramatizing or toning it down.

Review Copy received from the Author

13 December, 2015

#BookReview :: Her Resurrection by Soumyadeep Koley

What is it like to be an unwanted girl-child in India? What is it like to be sexually harassed at a tender age of five? After being tricked and forced into prostitution, can such a woman fight back to emancipate herself from the unyielding shackles of that life, and intermingle with the ‘society?’ Or would she get lost in the sands of time like the ephemeral existence of a sand dune beset by a sandstorm?
So begins Maya’s story in the picturesque countryside of Maharashtra, where she grows up amidst cruelty and domestic violence, being an unwanted girl-child. Yet, like a lonesome beacon beset by sinister wilderness, she pursues her dreams of reaching the stars with her tiny wings. One night, a twist of fate triggers a series of incidents, when she loses everything she had—even her virginity.
Severely traumatized after her father’s death, her mother’s imprisonment, and her own gang-rape, Maya finds herself all alone in the streets of Mumbai, with wolves lurking around for raw flesh. She’s weary, but not wary. She has no sense of the fate that awaits her. What follows, would change her life forever, as also yours, as her heart wrenching, yet inspiring story echoes through time.
Inspired by true stories of survivors and real life events, ‘Her Resurrection’ bravely paints an appalling picture of the society. Heartbreaking, hopeful and immensely healing at the same time, this emotional rollercoaster through dreams, tragedy and triumph is a moving tribute to womankind. Are you ready to embark on a transformational journey with Maya?

When the author approached me for a review of this book, I was not accepting any requests due to the back log on my review copies. But I so wanted to read the book because of its premise. The rate of crimes against women may be at the highest right now, and as a woman myself I find the situation around me quite depressing and demoralizing at times. This book felt like it could offer some hope. And so I accepted it.

Maya has only ever known violence and cruelty in her life. Born into a household where a girl child is unwanted, she hasn’t experienced anything otherwise. But things take a turn for worse when she is left to fend for herself while trying to come to terms with her gang rape, her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s death. But her spirit never diminished, not even when she was dragged into the flesh trade business. Slowly and after a lot of struggle does she free herself enough to reach for the stars!

Before there is any confusion, as the author says, this book is a work of fiction but is inspired by many true events. It may well be the reality of some girl from any part of the world. The book does a great job of depicting the reality of today’s generation as well as gives us some hope to hold on to. The myriad of characters bring in something unique to the story and help create the complete picture of our society. There are people who are victimized, there are people who do despicable things, there are people who are indifferent to everything and everyone except for their own needs and then there are people who still take that extra step to help someone in their hour of need. Maya, our protagonist, obviously stands out the most in this book. As I was reading the book, I felt for her and sympathized with her. But mostly I loved and admired her spirit. She is someone who never gives up no matter what life throws at her and toils on. She is brave, stubborn and strong. She is not only a victim, but also a survivor. Even in her moments of self-doubt, one can feel her strength. In short, she is someone you would want to cheer on.

The emotions captured in this book are beyond words. And the best part was the way the author has delivered Maya’s story. It would have been easy for him to become preachy while narrating. But he kept the story going and letting the plot speak his mind and opinion about it all rather than saying it through a speech or something through the characters. The ending is full of hope, yet I couldn’t help but wonder if it was just the part of fiction or whether it was an actual possibility in the real world. The author has kept his language simple and while that made it easy to read, I did wish for some refinement at times. The flow lagged a bit at a couple of points, where I wish that the continuity was smoother. Other than that I had no issues with this book.

Review Copy received from the Author

12 December, 2015

#BookReview :: Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali #1) by Falguni Kothari

Twisted myths. Discretion advised.

Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.

Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.

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Karna, I feel, was the most mistreated character in Mahabharata. He had been dealt a bad hand throughout his life; even though he was a true warrior and loyal to a fault. So, I was really happy when Falguni brought in a twist that offered him ‘more’. He becomes a Soul Warrior – in charge of ‘dealing’ with the demons who try to interfere with the human realm. As time passed by, Karna lives on and performs his duty. Finally we discover him as a jeans wearing hottie with a somewhat of a dirty mouth! Yes, really!! What more is the fact that it actually doesn’t feel odd at all. Moving on, Karna is given the responsibility of training six Godlings, including one of his own, to become demon hunters. Then there is the matter of prophecies that turn the heat on.

I absolutely love it when authors try different genres and that is why I picked up Falguni Kothari’s latest release – Soul Warrior despite my many concerns. I have read another book before where Gods were ‘available’ online and did not particularly enjoy it. So, when I read the blurb and realized that the author depicts the age-old characters (including Gods) in a modern setting, I had to tread carefully.

The author has done an amazing job of taking the well-known characters and situations and gave them her own twist. Not for a second, after I started reading the book, did I feel odd or ill at ease about the liberties that the author has taken in order to set up this very new, yet somewhat familiar world. Her world and character development was almost flawless. Her narration put things in motion right from the beginning and never lagged anywhere.  As this is the first part of a series, one would usually expect a slow take off as an author needs to take time to build it up for not only this one book but for consecutive books as well. But Falguni has handled it well and with the ending that Soul Warrior has, it is almost guaranteed that I will be picking up the next book in the series. The twists in the tale and the pinch of humour added to the attraction that this book is.

A promising start to an interesting new series.

About the Author

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)

I’m embarrassed to admit how many social media accounts I own :

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