28 February, 2015

#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with Aniesha Brahma, #Author of The Guitar Girl


*** Special Feature - February 2015 ***

A Quick Recap:
1st February - Introducing the Author

An Interview with the Author

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was six years old, and wrote my first poem called The Ringing Bells. I guess having a bookworm for an elder sister helped...I began reading her collection of Enid Blyton stories from a very young age. Ruskin Bond’s Room on the Roof introduced me to Indian writing in English when I was 13. Since then, there has been no looking back. 

What inspires you to write?
Life. I know it sounds crazy but most of my stories have been inspired from real life. A stray comment, a strange thought...something I’ve witnessed. The little moments that make up life. All that inspires me to write. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
The Secret Proposal was formed in 2011 when I was bored out of my mind at a wedding. It was then that Veer and Jasmine’s rollercoaster ride of a love story first came home to me...

Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Oh loads of them. Diaries and notebooks and lone papers filled with those stories. My first HD had a lot of them too...but a little mishap made me lose all of them. Maybe that’s for the best. There are way too many untold stories in my head as it is.

Tell us about your writing process.
I realized over the years saying “I don’t have time to write” is a sad excuse. If you want to be a writer, you have to make time to write. So every day I make it point to write something...(although these days I have to write my thesis everyday).

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Veer’s grand gesture. I love how Jasmine forgives him, swoons and then wakes up to change her mind. Looking back, I feel Jasmine is crazy. And I can relate to that. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Jasmine did. She’s absolutely unpredictable...that’s so me. One minute you think you’ve figured her out, and the next she’s done something to take you completely by surprise (or shock). I know she says this of Veer. But Jasmine doesn’t realize she’s exactly like him. (Maybe that’s why she’s had a hard time to admit to him that she’s in love with him.)

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it would qualify as a quirk – but I use quotes a lot in my stories. I find them thoroughly inspiring.

What is your usual writing routine?
Find a slab of time everyday to sit and just write. :)

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I am an absolute bookworm. Ruskin Bond, J.K. Rowling, Enid Blyton, Meg Cabot, John Green to name a few. Ruskin Bond introduced me to Indian writing in English...what more could I ask of him? (Except that someday I want to walk up to him and give him a hug). I grew up with Harry Potter, and my childhood was filled with going on adventures with the Famous Five and wishing to go to boarding schools like Malory Towers and St. Claires. Meg Cabot and John Green introduced me to Young Adult fiction....a genre I am pretty comfortable in writing too.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
To make a plan of action and stick to it. :)

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Just write. The rest of the world will fall into place when you take the first step!

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Ranbir Kapoor for Veer, Preetika Rao for Jasmine, Parineeti Chopra for Meghan Mukherjee, Harshad Arora for Neeraj. 

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
Food and water, a journal and a pen (that hopefully never runs out of ink?)

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I hardly have free time these days...but I make it a point to spend at least twenty minutes playing with my pets (the two cats, Pippo and Chhotie and the three kittens, Motu, Potki and Jerry) – that’s a huge stress buster for me. My room is my most favorite place in the world :)

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I’ve began crossing some items off the list...but visiting Italy some day remains unchecked...

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I’m impulsive. I often don’t think things through...while it is a good quality, it has landed me in a hell lot of trouble.
- I’m an introvert around new people. But my best friends have realized how truly crazy I am.
- I get interested in things pretty quickly – in the course of one year I’d taken up blogging, baking, sewing...basically I have way too many hobbies and not enough free time.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Sparks of Memories will be released sometime this year, published by LiFi Publications. 
On 12th April 2015, The Guitar Girl, will be available on amazon.com and amazon.in, as the Kindle Edition. Since it was getting to be long wait since my first novel (2012) and the next, I decided to give my readers something to chew on while they wait... 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Please do get a hold of the book, The Guitar Girl. And do let me know what you thought of the story. Even today when I read mails and notes from readers who’d gone through my debut work, it brings a smile to my face. 

About the Author


Aniesha Brahma wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. Her debut novel, The Secret Proposal, was published by General Press in 2012. She won IndiReads short company competition in 2014 and is working on her IndiReads novel. The short story was subsequently published in an anthology entitled, Voices, Old & New. Her second novel, Sparks of Memories, will be released this year. When she is not writing stories, she is finishing her MPhil in Comparative Literature.

Contact the Author

About her Books
Twenty-one year old Larissa Chakroborty (better known as Jasmine) has been forced into the company of her parents' friends' son, twenty-five year old Tanveer Bhattacharya (aka Veer) ever since she was thirteen and he was seventeen. Jasmine found herself slowly getting drawn towards this teenage boy and harbours an unrequited crush on him, long after he disappears from her life in order to pursue a college degree. Eight years later Veer returns. Jasmine finds herself going to his welcome home party and neither of them recognises each other on the first meeting. Upon discovering that Jasmine is now a Master's student in a reputed college, Veer makes her a rather strange proposal. He wants her to pretend that they're in love and would eventually settle down in life, for he wishes to avoid tying the knot with a girl of his parents' choice. The constant ego battle between the two, the love-hate relationship, break ups and realisations is what The Secret Proposal is all about, wherein love would eventually find a way. Coupled with birthday parties, engagement announcements, Durga Pujos, weddings, the harrowing rituals, Christmas time fun, the crazy duo have a long way to go before they realise what their act would eventually cost them. Is it enough to get your long time love to be in a 'pretense relationship' with you? Does one grand gesture convince you that you've found your knight in shining armour? And why is it that when you have someone, you don't want them and when you lose them, you want them back? Is Veer merely pretending to be in love with Jasmine? And will Jasmine ever get over her undying love for Veer?



Voices, Old & New is a fantastic collection of short stories featuring the very best submissions from Indireads’ 2nd Short Story Competition 2014. 



Sixteen year old Rhea Shah never thought that she would find herself falling for her brother’s best friend, Joy Fernandez, when they come home from college. Because she never thought that the dork who used to go to school with them would suddenly reinvent himself in college.

The only people she’s able to talk to about her absurd crush, are her best friends, Sophie and Arjav. Both of whom at first encourage, and then almost blackmail, Rhea to confess her feelings, which leaves the poor girl more muddled than ever!

Plagued with upcoming Board Examinations along with her friends’ suggestions, Rhea finds it difficult to concentrate, because she’s fallen for Joy, hook, line and sinker. In an attempt to vent to her feelings, she begins a blog, where she publishes all her songs and poems, dedicated to Joy, keeping her identity a secret.

But things do not go quite how she planned when a certain blogger named J. Fern begins to read her blog, and wishes to work with her…
Will Rhea ever confess her feelings to Joy? And will Joy find out the real identity of The Guitar Girl?

(To be release on 12th April 2015) on Kindle Direct Publishing 

Pre-Order Now - Amazon


Giveaway
2 Paperback copies of The Secret Proposal by Aniesha Brahma. Open to Indian Residents only!

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27 February, 2015

#BookReview :: Vasu and the Matsya Temple by Rajeev Tanwar



On the day of his birth, Vasu is kidnapped. Destiny has chosen him to bring Peace back on Earth. Will he be able to find the long lost Divine Ashtamangala Symbols to defeat the evil Samraat Viraat Shatru? Join Vasu in his quest that takes him on an incredible journey into the depths of Ocean where no Bhoomivaasi has ever been before! The Ashtamangala Trilogy begins.... 

THERE CAN BE No Triumph without Loss. No Victory without Suffering. No Freedom without Sacrifice. And No Peace without War! All will be sacrificed. All will be lost. Unless all unite and join Vasu's fight against Evil. Witness MYTH turn into REALITY! 

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Vasu, the son of an archeologist is kidnapped right after his birth because of a necklace that his father placed around his neck. Unbeknownst to him, he gets caught in the middle of the fight between good and evil. His fate is sealed as a baby and he grows up to slowly realise this. Can he bring together the symbols of Ashtamangala and bring back peace on this earth?

First things first, the author has created a wonderful new world in this series. There is a whole different world underwater. And Vasu’s journey takes us deep into this new world. And frankly speaking, I had absolutely no idea about Ashtamangala before I picked up this book. A little bit of research on google showed me the imagination power of the author. To create a whole plot based on something that has been in our culture for so long is just amazing. 

The plot is not exactly what I expected it to be from the blurb. It did surprise me at the beginning but slowly, once I started grasping the fact of this fantasy world, it became a bit predictable. Also, the book has a slow start. The first few pages go on about setting the base to the world and giving us a bit of background knowledge. Being the first in a trilogy, I kind of expected that, but the pace picks up soon.  I also loved the character of Vasu… his isn’t an easy life but he is not really bitter about it. It was easy to fall behind him and cheer for him as the novel progressed. There are various other characters in the book, but no one really stood out other than Vasu. I am expecting to see more of the antagonist in the coming installments of this series. I hope he makes an impact, but so far not much.

The language and the narration style of the author needs a bit polishing. But I guess he has done an admirable job for his debut novel and hope that he will only grow with time.


Review Copy received from the Author


26 February, 2015

#BookReview :: HiFi in Bollywood by Rishi Vohra

"AN ASPIRING FILMMAKER. THE DIZZYING HEIGHTS OF BOLLYWOOD. AND A STRAINED FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP"

Rayhan Arora’s long cherished dream is to be a filmmaker in the Hindi Film Industry but his formidable father has other plans… a successful financial career in Corporate America, and a marriage of convenience with Vanita, a medical student in the US. 

In a final act of desperation, Rayhan abandons his promising life in California and secretly returns to Mumbai to work as an Assistant Director in Bollywood. The characters he encounters along the way become part of his journey of self-discovery - a self-proclaimed local goon with a penchant for acting; a powerful local politician who wants to marry Rayhan's part-time domestic help, who in turn covets stardom; an angst-ridden, homosexual film director; ego-ridden film stars with twisted agendas; and the mysterious Viola who captures his heart. 

HiFi in Bollywood takes the reader from the streets of Berkeley to the film studios of Mumbai; from red-light areas to police stations, and from reality to dreams and back to reality again! 


After reading (and liking) Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra, I was looking forward to reading his next. Needless to say, I picked this one up with certain expectations.

HiFi in Bollywood is the story of Rayhan Arora, who has always dreamt of making it big in the tinsel town of India and make his own space in the film industry. But like most Indian parents, his father has different plans for him. As a result, Rayhan is sent off to take on the financial world in US and a probable marriage to Vanita, a medical intern there. But Rayhan, with the help of his savings and his friends, moves down to Mumbai, unbeknownst to his father. There he struggles to land on his feet while encountering a myriad of characters including Violet. Will he survive the struggle or will he give in?

The best part of the book is Rayhan. His character is lively, real and loveable. I also liked the way his father influenced his story. It is so true that even today most parents try to live their aspirations through their children instead of giving them the choice of choosing their own path. It is probably the story of one in every two Indians. I also liked the way author has described the various settings, situations and locations. It made the story come alive in front of my eyes. The many characters brought in different flavours to the story. I loved how different each one was and how each of them had a different roles to play in Rayhan’s journey.

The plot though is very predictable including the big twist in the story. Also, apart from the protagonist, the other characters felt falling a bit short. They should have been developed a bit more. Also, the book dragged a bit in the end. Despite the few drawbacks this book makes for an entertaining read due to the humour infused in the story. There were moments that made me laugh out loud and moments that made me think. The author has done a good job of balancing out the fun and the seriousness in the novel. It did not get too heavy at any point and neither the humour felt forced.

Overall, this book is worth one time light read. 


Review Copy received from Jaico Publishing House

#BookSpotlight :: A Mirrored Life by Rabosankar Bal

My learned readers, you know that there are stories even before there are stories, but some stories are bound by fate.

On his way from Tangiers to China, the medieval Moorish traveller Ibn Battuta arrives in Konya, Turkey where the legendary dervish Rumi had lived, danced and died. More than half a century may have passed since his death, but his poetry remains alive, inscribed in every stone and tree and pathway. 

Rumi’s followers entrust Ibn Battuta with a manuscript of his life stories to spread word of the mystic on his travels. As Battuta reads and recites these tales, his listeners discover their own lives reflected in these stories—fate has bound them, and perhaps you, to Rumi. 

A Mirrored Life reaffirms the magical powers of storytelling, making us find Rumi in each of our hearts. Told through an interweaving of stories, legends and anecdotes, this narration lifts the veil off Rumi’s journey from scholar to mystic, his relationship with Shams, and his poetry, eventually bringing the reader face to face with the Rumi in their own hearts.


‘[Reading Bal is] like sitting and listening to your grandfather tell war stories’—Asian Review of Books

Author bio
Rabisankar Bal is a Bangla novelist and short-story writer, and has published over fifteen novels, five short-story collections, one volume of poetry and one volume of literary essays. Born in 1962, he has been writing for thirty years. His novel Dozakhnama, acclaimed by the late doyen of Bengali literature Sunil Gangopadhyay as the finest novel of 2010, won the West Bengal government’s Bankimchandra Smriti Puraskar. 

Translator bio
Arunava Sinha translates contemporary and classic Bengali fiction into English. He has seventeen published translations to his name. 
He translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and nonfiction into English. Twice the winner of the Crossword translation award, for Sankar’s Chowringhee (2007) and Anita Agnihotri’s Seventeen (2011), respectively, and the winner of the Muse India translation award (2013) for Buddhadeva Bose’s When The Time Is Right, he has also been shortlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction prize (2009) in the UK for his translation of Chowringhee. 
Arunava's translation blog: http://arunavasinha.in/ 
Twitter: @arunava

Published by Random House India;
January 2015;
192 Pages; 
Paperback Rs. 399

1 Paperback Copy of the Book is up for grabs at my 3 year Blogiversary Celebration Giveaway!

25 February, 2015

#BookReview :: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5) by Sarah J. Maas



Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out. 


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Let me get this straight at the very beginning that I can get a bit fanatical about a series and characters when I LOVE them. So much so that if I ever met J.K Rowling, I would probably bombard her with a million questions down to what shampoo did young Sirius Black used… Yeah, that fanatic! Besides Harry Potter Series, Throne of Glass Series is the only one that has managed to capture my heart that bad. So, needless to say, when I started reading Throne of Glass, I wanted to know more about Celaena, how she ended up in the salt mines of Endovier in the first place and more about her relationship with Sam. It was only when I read the five novellas included in ‘The Assassin’s Blade’ that some of my questions were answered.

In The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, the first novella, Celaena and Sam go against their orders to free the slaves they were supposed to claim and try and get away with it all.

The Assassin and the Healer is the second novella in the series. It tells us the story of Celaena and Yelena and what happened when these two very different yet similar girls met.

The Assassin and the Desert takes Celaena into the Red Desert as a punishment for going against Arobynn’s orders. It turns out to be a boon in disguise.

The Assassin and the Underworld tells us the story of Celaena’s last mission for Arobynn Hamel that takes the stakes to whole new level.

The Assassin and the Underworld, the last novella in the series, tells us the story of Celaena and Sam trying to survive after they have bought their freedom from Arobynn.

All these novellas have one thing in common – they tell us more about Celaena before the Throne of Glass series started. They show us different sides of Celaena – one who can empathize, who loves music and theatre and appreciates the finer things in life. It also gives us a look into the kind of training that Celaena received and her overall upbringing since the death of her parents. They also introduced a few new characters to us and I really loved ‘The Master’ of the assassins of the Red Desert. I hope we will see more of him.

Action packed, these are tales of a valiant girl – her fears, her losses, her love and her survival.




24 February, 2015

#Interview with Carol Sue Shride, #Author of Lucy Dakota : Rocky Mountain Beginnings

Author, speaker, educator, explorer, and guide Carol Sue Shride grew up in the western suburbs of Denver at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. For nearly thirty years as an outdoor educator, adventure guide, climber and business owner, Ms. Shride pursued two of her lifelong passions: travel and leadership. After selling her business, she returned to school to earn a Masters degree in education. She found tremendous joy and satisfaction teaching in both public and private schools, where the inspiration to write the Lucy Dakota series arose in a 4th grade creative writing class. In addition to writing, Ms. Shride mentored teenagers through Colorado Youth at Risk, and teaches adults leadership and public speaking skills through Toastmasters International. She is a full time recruiter for
Girl Scouts of Colorado and is raising a teenaged daughter. In addition to the Lucy Dakota series, Ms. Shride has been published in several of the Gratitude Project books as well as in numerous magazines and online publications.

Find her at : http://csshride.com/


Interview with the Author

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I didn’t! I have always enjoyed writing and the inspiration to write a novel came when I was teaching 4th graders how to write and I got the idea to go beyond the journaling and copy writing I had been doing.

What inspires you to write? 
Life

How did you come up with the idea for your current story? 
As my daughter approached her teen years I wanted to be able to share some of my life lessons, stories and adventures with her in a way that wasn’t lecturing or boring. My own experiences served as the platform and once Lucy got started, she developed a life of her own.

Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
I have ideas for stories all the time (at least story titles). There is one floating around in my head now that I am opening a math learning center, called “Confessions of a Finger Counter”

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Quirks? I don’t have any quirks : ) - if I did, Lucy inherited them all!

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Currently I am deep into my own self discovery (again) and am reading a lot of spiritual books - Ramtha, Gary Renard, Luiz Andre and others. When I read for fun, I love fantasy and adventure novels (especially series). I’ve read the Game of Thrones a couple of times along with The Wheel of Time series and The Sword of Truth. I also like romantic adventure so I am a fan of Diana Gabaldon.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Write daily - a piece of advice I have not been following lately as I start a new business.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Do it - if it terrifies you, all the more reason to do it (there is some healthy grow and self discovery to be had whether your book becomes a best seller or not) AND if you want to become successful you absolutely MUST treat book writing as a business because it is (otherwise it is just a hobby and that is OK but it won’t pay the bills).

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
Free Time? What’s that?! I love to read so I always have a book and I love to travel so I am always going somewhere but I consider all of my time to be free time because if I don’t like doing it - I won’t do it for long.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I don’t really have a bucket list because I usually do it once I have thought of it. In my near future are a trek around Mt Blanc in Europe and a winter visit to someplace north of the Arctic Circle to see the northern lights (and I am toying with a visit to Antarctica).

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I climbed Kangchuntse (a spur peak on Makalu in Nepal) when I was 24 (this adventure is featured in my second book, Journey to Nepal); I have spent more than 16 weeks in the Amazon rainforests; although I was good at math (because of a quirk aptitude) and I love higher math, I was a finger counter until recently and when I am stressed about a math problem I still want to resort to finger counting (thus the title of the book mentioned above).

What do you have in store next for your readers?
Journey to Nepal takes Lucy into her early 20’s (where she will be frozen in time for the next several books) and follows her to the Himalaya. Romance is rampant in the book - her relationship with Mack deepens and yet she has a couple of affairs of the heart in the wilderness of Colorado and in Nepal. She is definitely soul-searching in this book.


Lucy Dakota is a typical teenage girl: confused yet intelligent, unhappy with her lot in life yet full of vitality and enthusiasm. Troubled by rocky relationships with friends and boyfriends, she finds it hard to fit in at school until she's invited to join an adventure scouting club and starts exploring the natural world. Her first adventures take place in the backcountry of her home state, Colorado, where she discovers her more daring side, as well as the young woman she is becoming. Join Lucy as she transforms from a timid, chubby tween who hides from school bullies in her teacher's office to a brave, spirited, globe-trotting leader on the hiking trail and beyond. This exciting new adventure series for young adults is sure to encourage readers to discover their strengths and take on the world, whether at school, home-or, like Lucy, skipping across the continents.

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#BookReview :: Solaris Seethes (Solaris Saga Book 1) by Janet McNulty


Every myth has a beginning.

After escaping the destruction of her home planet, Lanyr, with the help of the mysterious Solaris, Rynah must put her faith in an ancient legend. Never one to believe in stories and legends, she is forced to follow the ancient tales of her people: tales that also seem to predict her current situation.

Forced to unite with four unlikely heroes from an unknown planet (the philosopher, the warrior, the lover, the inventor) in order to save the Lanyran people,. Rynah and Solaris embark on an adventure that will shatter everything Rynah once believed.

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Solaris Seethes is the story of revenge of Rynah along with an uncommon companion, Solaris.

When Rynah finds out that her fiancé was only getting close to her to be able to steal a precious gem with enormous power, it is too late for her to do anything but flee. Her grandfather was a man with some ideas of the future and he had built a spaceship with a personality called Solaris. Solaris turned out to be the only available option for Rynah to flee. She then goes on to plot her revenge and recruits four unlikely companions in order to save her planet and its people.

It was quite a shock when I realized that the name in the title belonged not to a person or a legacy, but to a spaceship! But yes, it was fun getting to know Solaris and I feel that Solaris is our protagonist. Rynah is also a character one can empathize with. Betrayed and with her heart broken, she quickly gets back on her feet. Though her initial attention was focused on revenge, she soon realizes the larger picture and works toward it. The other companions each bring their own qualities into the fray and while each id different from the other, they make a good team.


The plot is something that I have not read about before and was quite refreshing to me. The author laid out the base of the plot pretty quickly and without wasting much time. Also, the author has used simple language to tell her story. So it was easy to get into the story. However, I do feel that a faster pace would have been better and the narration stalled at times. Interesting premise and loveable characters keep the readers’ interest, but the narration could do with some work on it.


Review Copy received from Reader Spoils



23 February, 2015

#BookReview :: Warrior by Olivier Lafont



In Mumbai, driven to its knees by a merciless blizzard, Saam the watchmender is cornered into an intolerable position. As Shiva's only earthly demigod child, it falls upon him to stop his indomitable father. Bred to war, son of destruction, Saam rides with six extraordinary companions into the horror of a crumbling world to face Shiva. He is forced to join hands with Ara, his half-brother he can never fully trust and take with him his own mortal beloved, Maya, on this desperate attempt to stop the End of Days. But his path is littered with death, danger and betrayal. Interweaving mythology, epic adventure and vintage heroism, this enthralling novel will change the way you see gods, heroes and demons.

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I will feely admit that the first thought that came to my mind when I read the blurb of this book is ‘Indian version of Percy Jackson’! Yeah, and given the fact that I do not love Percy Jackson (don’t judge me – but I find it sort of average) I wasn’t sure about picking this one up. But then a friend gave it a glowing 5 stars review (and we have quite a bit common in our reading tastes…) and it got me curious and I decided to give it a try.

‘Warior’ tells us the story of Saam, Shiva’s demigod child on earth, and his race against time to save the world from ‘ending’. We are first introduced to Saam as a watch mender from the streets of Mumbai. He is living a pretty ordinary life when the prophesied ‘end of days’ dawn upon him. He soon realizes that he is the only one who can actually stop it from happening. So with a group of six trusted friends and a not so trustworthy half-brother, Saam takes charge. What follows is an adventure of a lifetime that takes them all over India and come up against a formidable opponent as well. Will Saam succeed is the question.

With a somewhat slow start, Warrior fails to create the insta-attraction. But what is does is slowly creep up on you and take you in its grip. Once the story starts flowing, what we have on our hands is a fast paced, action packed on the edge type of novel that is truly entertaining to read. Yes, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and I am glad that I decided to pick this one up. The author’s language is refined but the novel has instances of Hindi slangs infused which are very occasional and easy to overlook. The narration style supports the fast pace of the book and has that smooth flow which ensures that the pages turn almost automatically. The characters are well developed and the plot is well laid out. While I still feel the influence of the Percy Jackson world in it, Olivier Lafont has done a great job overall.

A promising debut that ensures that I will watch out for more from this author.


Review Copy received from the Author

22 February, 2015

#Special Feature :: #GuestPost - In Retrospect: 3 Years Since The Secret Proposal by Aniesha Brahma



*** Special Feature - February 2015 ***

About the Author


Aniesha Brahma wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. Her debut novel, The Secret Proposal, was published by General Press in 2012. She won IndiReads short company competition in 2014 and is working on her IndiReads novel. The short story was subsequently published in an anthology entitled, Voices, Old & New. Her second novel, Sparks of Memories, will be released this year. When she is not writing stories, she is finishing her MPhil in Comparative Literature.

In Retrospect: 3 Years Since The Secret Proposal

When I began writing the story of Jasmine and Veer's misguided attempts at love, I was barely twenty-one years old. Back then, a dark, brooding hero seemed to be the perfect guy to swoon over. One who had chocolate brown eyes. 

It's been four years since I wrote that story. And when I go through it, I laugh at how naive I used to be. (In some ways, I have retained that quality). But now I don't think either characters of Jasmine or Veer would fly with me. 

Instead, I would be more interested to see the story from Meghan Mukherjee's point of view. Jasmine's spunky best friend who is there to pick up and pieces, and kick start the love story, every time the two warring leads fall apart. 

It's sad: the only thing I used such a great character for was to drive the love story. I wonder if Meghan had a boyfriend. If she had ever fallen in love. What did she want to do with her life? Even though her mother is mentioned several times, we never see her dad. Is there more to the bubbly,happy-go-lucky girl than meets the eye? 

Maybe I'll write about her some day. Maybe we'll see her in a new novel, a short story, an excerpt on my blog. 

In retrospect, I don't love Jasmine or Veer any less than I used to. People like them do exist. And some people like to read stories about these crazy characters as they run around in circles, trying to find the right time to fall into each others arms. It makes for a light, breezy read. 

Meghan just stays on your mind a lot longer. 

Contact the Author

About her Books
Twenty-one year old Larissa Chakroborty (better known as Jasmine) has been forced into the company of her parents' friends' son, twenty-five year old Tanveer Bhattacharya (aka Veer) ever since she was thirteen and he was seventeen. Jasmine found herself slowly getting drawn towards this teenage boy and harbours an unrequited crush on him, long after he disappears from her life in order to pursue a college degree. Eight years later Veer returns. Jasmine finds herself going to his welcome home party and neither of them recognises each other on the first meeting. Upon discovering that Jasmine is now a Master's student in a reputed college, Veer makes her a rather strange proposal. He wants her to pretend that they're in love and would eventually settle down in life, for he wishes to avoid tying the knot with a girl of his parents' choice. The constant ego battle between the two, the love-hate relationship, break ups and realisations is what The Secret Proposal is all about, wherein love would eventually find a way. Coupled with birthday parties, engagement announcements, Durga Pujos, weddings, the harrowing rituals, Christmas time fun, the crazy duo have a long way to go before they realise what their act would eventually cost them. Is it enough to get your long time love to be in a 'pretense relationship' with you? Does one grand gesture convince you that you've found your knight in shining armour? And why is it that when you have someone, you don't want them and when you lose them, you want them back? Is Veer merely pretending to be in love with Jasmine? And will Jasmine ever get over her undying love for Veer?



Voices, Old & New is a fantastic collection of short stories featuring the very best submissions from Indireads’ 2nd Short Story Competition 2014. 



Sixteen year old Rhea Shah never thought that she would find herself falling for her brother’s best friend, Joy Fernandez, when they come home from college. Because she never thought that the dork who used to go to school with them would suddenly reinvent himself in college.

The only people she’s able to talk to about her absurd crush, are her best friends, Sophie and Arjav. Both of whom at first encourage, and then almost blackmail, Rhea to confess her feelings, which leaves the poor girl more muddled than ever!

Plagued with upcoming Board Examinations along with her friends’ suggestions, Rhea finds it difficult to concentrate, because she’s fallen for Joy, hook, line and sinker. In an attempt to vent to her feelings, she begins a blog, where she publishes all her songs and poems, dedicated to Joy, keeping her identity a secret.

But things do not go quite how she planned when a certain blogger named J. Fern begins to read her blog, and wishes to work with her…
Will Rhea ever confess her feelings to Joy? And will Joy find out the real identity of The Guitar Girl?

(To be release on 12th April 2015) on Kindle Direct Publishing 

Pre-Order Now - Amazon


Giveaway
2 Paperback copies of The Secret Proposal by Aniesha Brahma. Open to Indian Residents only!

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21 February, 2015

#BookReview :: Cult of Chaos (Anantya Tantrist Mystery) by Shweta Taneja

The tantriks are now overground. They have their own council, police and justice systems. The White clan, Kaula, has emerged as the most powerful: their men are recognized tantriks, women intimate collaborators.
Then there is Anantya Tantrist, who has rejected the Kaula path. She is powerful and lives life by her own strict moral code. Who needs official seals anyway? When the world goes to hell in a handcart, badges and honours aren't going to save the day.
Incidentally, hell and chaos is just where the world is headed. In Delhi, little girls are being sacrificed in a tantrik ritual. A desperate daeva is trying to blackmail Anantya. Someone is trying to call up the God of Chaos. A three-headed giant cobra turns up in old Delhi. The White and Red tantriks are facing off, and there is one or more Black tantric brewing some dangerous shakti. As Anantya struggles to stop the madness, the supernatural underworld - peopled with creatures humanoid, barely human and inhuman - comes alive in all its bloody, gory glory. 

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Read my review of Shweta Taneja's Debut Novel - The Ghost Hunters of Kurseong

I had attended the Book launch for Cult of Chaos at Atta Galatta, Bangalore. By then I had already attended a couple of book launch and I thought I knew what to expect. Instead, Shweta Taneja took me by surprise with her “Occult-Detective Quiz” at the launch party instead of the usual speeches and Q&A session. It was quite fun even though I failed miserably at the quiz and also did not win any of the book hampers! The launch kind of set the stage for the book, which I delved into with great expectations.

Welcome to a somewhat dystopian world where Tantriks live alongside normal people and have their own little world within this world. They have their own set of rules enforced by the council and their own law enforcement system. There are the White, Red and Black tantriks, whose magic and rituals differ from each other. Then there is our protagonist, Anantya Tantrist… who lives her life away from the clan but with her own set of rules and moral codes. But not everything is fine. There is something brewing among the tantriks and Anantya is under threat. With supernatural creatures running amok and war brewing, Anantya struggles to control the situation.

Oh my! This book is a result of an amazingly creative and imaginative mind at work. The blurb of the book and my dismal summarization of it do no justice to the world of Anantya Tantrist. You have to read it to experience it.

First of all, the world building is fantastic. A reader can recognize Delhi for what it is in the story and at the same time the place is something different on the whole. I loved the setting and the buildup as the author slowly unfolded this world of tantrist living among normal people. Then there is the character of our protagonist Anantya. She is unconventional and just something else. I absolutely loved her for her charms and brazenness and cheered for her throughout. I hope there will be more in the series, because I haven’t had enough of her yet and I want more. The author then goes on to infuse her simple yet comfortable language with a magnetic story-telling capacity that makes this book a totally gripping. 

I read this book in one sitting and friggin’ loved it. Go ahead and get yourself a copy…. NOW!



1 Paperback Copy of the Book is up for grabs at my 3 year Blogiversary Celebration Giveaway!


#BookReview :: Flawless (Hostile Beauty #1) by Jan Moran

"There's always an ugly side to beauty." - Jan Moran

Verena Valent is at the helm of her family's legendary Swiss skincare company, which caters to a glamorous clientele in the heart of Beverly Hills. After her parents are killed in an automobile accident, she becomes the sole provider for her younger twin sisters and her grandmother. Instead of attending college with her friends as planned, she rises to the challenge to guide and expand her family's business. She is in the midst of a critical international expansion into Asia when her carefully organized life begins to unravel.
Verena is shaken to discover that her fiance, Derrick, who is a venture capitalist, might be behind a scheme to take over her growing company. While she struggles to save the business that means everything to her, she meets Lance, an executive chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She encounters this intriguing man again while on a business trip to Paris, and soon gains a new perspective on relationships.
When the unthinkable occurs and Verena's world collapses, her friends rally around her, among them Scarlett Sandoval, a top intellectual property attorney; Dahlia DuBois, a perfumer from an esteemed line of French perfumers; and Fianna Fitzgerald, a fashion designer with her own trendy boutique.
Ultimately, Verena learns that truth, family, friendship, and love are the unshakable pillars of life. But will she get a second chance in business, or in love?


Verena Valent is a strong modern woman who takes her responsibilities seriously. When her parents die in an accident, she is left to take care of not only her grandmother and younger sisters, but also the family business of skincare products. She gives up her own dreams to step up to the responsibilities left to her. But then the recession hits the market, and she finds out that her fiancĂ© may not be in her life for her love but for her business. Slowly everything starts to crumble around her… She has only her family and friends for support. Will she be able to salvage the business and find a chance at true love?

Welcome to the world of fashion, style, entrepreneurship, love, betrayal, friendship and family. This is not just a simple romance novel but a full on drama that has a bit of every imaginable flavour. From Beverly Hills to Streets of Paris, this novel takes you on a journey of cut throat business to finding love at unexpected places.  I loved the way the author has described every setting, every situation with so much details and care that the story practically comes to live infront of the reader’s eyes. The language used is simple and comfortable and the narration has a smooth flow to it.

I loved the character of Verena. She is strong, dependable, practical and fun. I also absolutely adored Verena’s grandmother. She is a lady with some character. Even Verena’s friends added a lot to the story. It was nice to read a novel where the ladies got the attention and got to play the top roles. In the patriarchal world that we live in, and with the crimes against women going up every day, it was really motivating to read about these women who live their lives on their terms and can take on any man at so many levels. And well, there is Lance, the chef. Who wouldn’t love a hottie who can cook? Then theirs is this pragmatic and caring side to him that adds to his charms. He is anybody’s ideal man.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the stories of the other women in the gang.


Review Copy received via NetGalley

20 February, 2015

#BookReview :: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love? 

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I have been hearing about Stacey Jay and her books for quite some time on the blogosphere. As a result, I was quite happy when my request to read this book got approved on Netgalley. I immediately delved into the book with quite a bit of expectation.

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty and her happily ever after. But what if she did not really have a happily ever after? Instead an Ogre queen took over her kingdom and imprisoned her along with her children? Well, Princess of Thorns is the story of Aurora, and how her mother sacrificed herself along with her gifts, for her and her brother’s sake…

Aurora and Jor had barely managed to escape the dungeons, leaving behind the bleeding – lifeless body of their mother. Aurora plans to take back her kingdom, but Jor is captured by the queen. Aurora disguises herself as a boy and sets off on a mission to save her brother, and hopefully her kingdom at the same time. That is when she meets Niklaas, a prince with his own curse and together they fight battles and form a bond. But will Aurora succeed in her mission? Will Niklaas? Well, you have to read the book to find out.

The first thing that caught my attention in this book is its narration. It felt a bit awkward at the beginning, but it slowly grew on me. The next is the world building. The author has taken a very commonly known story and has given a whole new spin on it. As such it takes a reader to adjust to this new world and come to accept it as something on its own. The characters were built up slowly. Aurora’s character is something that I knew I would like right off the bat and I did. Niklaas on the other hand came off as a jerk in the beginning and I hated to think of Aurora and Niklaas together at that point. But Niklaas grows through the novel and I realized he could be good. I could probably do with a faster pace, but then I enjoyed the relationship blossoming slowly between Aurora and Niklaas.

The author builds up a whole new fantasy world for her readers in this book and it never really lets you go – even after the last page.


Review Copy received via NetGalley

19 February, 2015

#BookReview :: Half Bad (The Half Bad Trilogy #1) by Sally Green


Wanted by no one.
Hunted by everyone.

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

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In the world of Half Bad, there are two factions of witches living quietly amongst the humans – Black Witches and White Witches. Born to a white witch mother, Nathan has a black witch for a father making him a Half Code. His mother committed suicide after he was born and he and his Half-brother/sisters were brought up by his grandmother. But the closer Nathan gets to his seventeenth birthday, the rules become stricter and more stricter. Nathan ends up living in a cage, chained and shackled, under his new guardian as appointed by the council. But he hopes to meet his father and receive his three gifts before his seventeenth birthday, even if it means leaving his family and the girl he loves behind.

I love the world that Sally Green has built for this series. It is magical and yet quite simple. The two factions are not supposed to meet. There are ‘Hunters’ amongst white witches, who hunt and kill the black witches. Amongst everything, Nathan is an abomination – half white and half black. But no one seems to give him the benefit of the doubt and automatically assume that he would end up a black witch like his father. Then there is the matter of a prophecy… Yeah, I will not say no more about it, other than the fact that it is what makes the plot interesting, in the fear of giving away spoilers.

I liked the world building and the character development in the book. The author never fully gives away everything about a person, keeping the curiosity alive. The language and the narration style of the author is simple and engaging. There is something about the story telling style that attracted me to the book. It felt a bit different and fun. There are so many questions that I have at the end of the book that I will be sure to pick up the next instalment. 

There are two things that I did not like as much. First, the relationship between Nathan and his half-brother Arran felt less brotherly and more like that of lovers. It just did not feel normal there. Also, once I put down the book and looked back, I can’t say that much happened in the book. For its size, the plot barely moved. But the book did not feel like a drag at any point while I was reading it! 

Overall, an interesting start to a new series and a good introduction to the world of Half Bad.





18 February, 2015

#BookReview :: Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse



In this beautiful edition we find Bertie Wooster and Jeeves embarking on foolhardy quests and inspired rescue missions. We discover Ukridge, the ever-optimistic animated blob of mustard, undeterred in his big broad outlook, no matter how bleak things look, while the Fifth Earl of Ickenham, better known as Uncle Fred, continues enjoying life, quite oblivious to the embarrassment he’s causing.

And, as snow falls on the links outside the Angler's Rest, Mr Mulliner, the Oldest Member at the Golf Club, settles in to recount tales of romance and ghosts, and keep the tide of intellectual – albeit rather one-sided – conversation flowing.

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This title includes 13 stories in all. Some feature the more famous P.G.Wodehouse characters like Jeeves and Wooster, Mr.Mulliner and Ukridge and some are different stories brought together in this collection. As the title suggests, the stories have a common theme – well mostly so, and is perfect for Christmas mood setting (even though I read it in the month of February).

My favourite amongst the 13 stories is ‘One touch of nature’. The story tells us about one doting father who shifts from one continent to another when his daughter gets married. He loves baseball, and meets two strangers who are just as taken with the sport. He invites them to dinner and what follows is just pure and undiluted funny. I also loved ‘The story of William’ featuring Mr.Mulliner where he launches into telling a story about an American he met at the pub. Besides these two, ‘Indian Summer of an Uncle’ also kept me entertained.

Well those are the three of my top favourites in the book. Needless to say, the rest of them are pretty enjoyable too and comes with the quality that P.G.Wodehouse commands. I am always left short of words when I read a Wodehouse book as time and again he delivers something that almost takes you to an alternate reality from where one never wishes to return. His narration and comic timing is just perfect as always. Though after reading so many Wodehouse books, I have to say that one or two of the stories did feel a bit predictable, but that did not, in any way, take away from the reading experience.

Also, I prefer paperback over everything. But this once I was glad to have received the Hard Cover which simply exquisitely designed.



Review Copy received from Random House India

17 February, 2015

#Interview with Stephen Merlino, #Author of The Jack of Souls


Author Stephen Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays, and teaches high school English. He lives with the world's most talented and desirable woman, two equally fabulous children, and three attack chickens. Stephen is the winner of the 2014 PNWA Award for Fantasy, and the SWW Award for Fantasy.  He recently launched The Jack of Souls, first in a series of fantasy novels available on Amazon in ebook, paper, and hardback.

Find him at: stephenmerlino.com



Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
When I experienced great stories as a kid. I think we are all wired for story, but maybe some of us are wired to experience them more deeply than others--sort of the way maths can “speak” to some, but not to others. (With regard to maths, I am one of the “others”; it might as well be binary code to me, or the sound a fax machine makes.) But stories resonate deeply with me. And with a very good story, I become one of the strings of the instrument, so it thrums through my whole being. 
Also, part of the experience of reading story is the deep immersion and concentration of the act. It’s a form of meditation, a loss of self in something greater. And that is also what happens for me in writing. 

What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write is the question, “What if…?” 
What if there was a world where…
What if there was a girl who… And what if something horrible happened to her and she had to..
Those questions summon visions of people and places and troubles and the story starts to coalesce around them. And as I write, more “What ifs” emerge and add to the story, and it takes on a life of its own. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Stephen King talks about stories beginning when he sees a specific character and setting in his mind. He then gives the character a problem, and watches them spring to action to fix the problem. From then on out it’s like following a string through long grass—never sure where it’s going, but pretty sure of the direction. 
That’s definitely the way I experience writing. For The Jack of Souls, I saw a young man on the edge of a frontier, stuck in a place he didn’t want to be. I saw a girl who ran to the frontier to escape a bad place. 
I knew I wanted them together, but I also knew them as very different from each other. He is a trickster rogue. She is an honorable knight. So something greater than themselves had to unite them. 
For that I imagined a queen like Shakespeare’s Queen Elizabeth—alone, resented by many who wanted a warlike king on the throne—who teeters on the bring of civil and foreign war. When her immortal enemies invade the frontier with a plot to unseat her, the rogue and knight must unite in her defense, or lose everything they ever loved. 
Plus, I love Shakespeare, so I wove in a romantic subplot from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
From there on out, it became a matter of following the string through the grass. 

Is there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Yes. It’s a middle-grade fantasy called, Dragon Bait. It was good enough for two separate agents to accept and shop around, but they never could sell it.

Tell us about your writing process.
I tend to begin by revising what I last wrote, and that gets the creative juices flowing for new composition/helps me pick up the string where I left off.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
The opening scene. 
Harric’s mother cursed him to die on his nineteenth birthday. When the story begins, she is dead and gone, and Harric has a day to live; in an hour, he’ll host his own wake. Most of the frontier town will be there, including many who simply want a share of his loot when he dies. Caris, his knight friend, is new to town, and didn’t know his mother, so she doesn’t even believe there is a curse. Nevertheless, she agrees to be his body guard to keep the beggars away while he writes his will.  

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Yes. I am a rule-bender, rule-tester, like Harric.
I also remember what it was like to be young and idealistic, like Caris.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
My face takes on an evil, villainous intensity when I write a wicked character. My kids have caught me doing this.

What is your usual writing routine?
I must be truly alone without interruption. Deep immersion is important. I tend to write in the morning, after a cup of coffee and an hour or so of puttering (also alone). Then I dive in and don’t come up for four hours, sometimes six. It’s bliss.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion series is magnificent. She has such a deft and subtle understanding of human relationship interactions, which she captures in subtly handled prose. I read her work over and over and study how she does it. 
George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones has had a big impact on the genre (and me) with his realism and strict departure from the classical “white wizards and dark lords” of The Lord of the Rings. “There are no dark lords,” Martin once said. “We are all gray lords.”  I think he’s right about that, so I try to give all my characters light and dark streaks. Even the most irredeemable madmen have some small streak of lightness. It makes us have to think a bit, wrestle with hard questions. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Read a lot. Write a lot. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Write a lot. Keep a journal no one has to see. Don’t worry about sharing it with anyone at first. But when you do, share with other writers of your level and experience, and help each other with encouragement and insights. Then find a good writers critique circle that is run well by an experienced moderator/leader who keeps the norms carefully.


Harric, an outcast rogue, must break a curse put on his fate, or die on his next birthday. As the day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul. 
To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen’s first female knight. The other is Sir Willard—ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.
With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long? 
And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her. 
Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.
Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved.