31 December, 2017

#Interview with Rajeev Saxena, #Author of Pinto Has An Idea

About the Book:
Rajeev Saxena did his Bachelor of Technology from IIT Kanpur in 1994. He currently lives in Dallas, USA. His career in information technology with a large international company has provided him with opportunities to visit a multitude of cultures and countries.
Saxena's early days were spent in a small town in the Aligarh District of Uttar Pradesh, after which he moved between several villages, big towns, and districts in India, all of which he called home. His travels reinforced his growing belief that many people everywhere struggle daily to meet basic needs that others take for granted. 
He eventually found his way to the metropolises in India, and then around the world with several IT companies. Places such as Barbados in in the Caribbean, Johannesburg in South Africa, Mexico City in Mexico and Nassau in Bahamas reminded him the most of the country he grew up in. 
From the days of living on farms in his grandparents' village, he has been in touch with his roots throughout his life. Charity and voluntary work is also his passion. He loves providing free entertainment to his kids by singing old Hindi songs on karaoke. His wife loves that too, not because she particularly likes his voice, but because it makes their children laugh.

An Interview with an Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
When I was 8, my father gave me a translation assignment. It was part of our English coursework to translate simple Hindi sentences to English. One day, I was bored of translating sentences, so I created a story out of those unrelated sentences. My father was extremely impressed and bragged about it to his friends, that singular move served as an encouragement and lead to me writing a few more stories which circulated within our family friends circle but nothing more. You know there was no Facebook back then so my writing journey pretty much ended. Writing became a thing of the past for me. When I turned 12, I saw a couple of letters to editors in a newspaper and those letters spark a feeling, a motivation to pick up my pen one more time and publish in the newspaper. That marked the beginning of what I hoped would be a long and eventful chapter in my life but I had to pause for a while again due to school and competitive exams then began writing when I was in college though not seriously. And that fire lead to this book though it took a while but am glad am finally where I am today.

What inspires you to write?
Speaking to people is one thing I love to do. I want people to know my ideas, thought and stories. I would say my biggest inspiration comes from my readers. it gives me great pleasure that so many people are going to care about what I’ve written. The only problem I find with this medium is that it’s mostly a one way communication. Social media is helping a little where an author gets a chance to interact with its readers.
Another inspiration comes from the ability to give life and shape to my imaginations as there’s no limit to creativity, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.
Someone once asked an actor what job satisfaction he gets by acting in movies. His reply was awesome he said it doesn’t come from the fanfare or the stardom…His answer was that he gets a chance to live all kind of lives in his one lifetime. One day he is a teacher, the next day a businessman or a musician or a truck driver. Which other profession could give you that feeling.
To some extent the same is true with writing. You can give shape to your characters. You can make them think the way you like or sometimes people would like. Overall you have full control over your thought processes and imaginations which is a big motivation for writing.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I’m an excellent observer and a keen critique. Sometimes it’s really bad when I’m critical towards my boss or my wife. But most times it gives me food for thought. While reading and interacting with people across the globe, especially the Indian community around the world, I found that there is a flood of books by Indian authors about Engineering or Medical colleges, then there’s the love story, some sensation and thrill. There is nothing wrong in it. In fact I also enjoy these books sometimes. 
But as an author, I wanted to do something different.  Have you observed that now a days Bollywood has taken inspiration from the western world which lead to the creation of movies such as Toilet..Ek Prem Katha etc. Though not exactly the same thing but I wanted to create entertainment as well as give positive message to the society. Dr. Sandeep Pandey has given me a very encouraging endorsement, ‘Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter...’ and frankly speaking that’s been my idea… to create a new trend, a new genre in Indian fiction. My readers and fans alone can say if I’m successful or not. 
It’s a story about a scientist who tries to solve our day to day problems using technology. He has been an innovative person from childhood but has been discouraged to become a scientist. Later on when given a chance how he brings positive changes to the society, is interesting. And while doing so, his family life is impacted, which is highly emotional and sometimes humorous. The book also highlights the struggle of a divorced lady Lavanya who eventually becomes Pinto’s wife and tries her best to bring balance in his family life with her celebrity husband. For more on this plot just pick a copy.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
As I said I didn’t write much. Other than the stories I wrote as an eight year old, everything whether it was a letter to the editor or a small article, was published. At the same time, I kept noting down my thoughts. There are some ideas and thought I forgot to pen down and later regretted my action. I can write several books based on those thoughts. So please wait and watch. I’m pretty confident that with my readers’ blessings, I’ll continue to make them thrilled with my new books. 

Tell us about your writing process.
It’s very simple and not much different from any other author. As this is my first book I faced some challenges and even had to dump a six months’ long work as I didn’t like it. I prepared my thoughts, ideas and events. After that I built the plot and took my time in doing so before I began writing. It took almost one year to complete, not being a fulltime author, I wrote mostly during weekends. After that it took another year to keep on improving the manuscript. Now I am well versed with the process so I can write a book much quicker. I feel it depends on the topic. Sometimes you’d just think about the plot first and then bring ideas and events into it. There is no ideal way. It’s just the way you are comfortable with. See that’s the thing I like about writing. You have full control over it. 

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
It’s very difficult to talk about just one scene. There is a funny one about ragging. My team has dramatized it in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQr6YmlloT4  Please keep in mind that I personally do not support ragging in colleges. It’s in the book to show the reality.
For so many years, our politicians have fooled the poor so badly that they are not able to understand the difference between what’s good or bad for them. Pinto innovates several things for the poor and he does a lot of social work for them. But when a small time politician manipulates the community of maid servants, they turned against him. That showed the cruel fact about our society today where the dirty politicians can manipulate his biggest supporters “the maid servants” to turn against him protesting in front of his house. I’ll just let you read the book to find more about the scene. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
As a first time author, it’s a natural thing that a little bit of you is mixed into your characters. I’ve used some of the places and locations which were part of my life but I’ve tried to fictionalize all the characters almost 100%. I believe I’ve been extremely successful in that. As I mentioned earlier that I am a good observer. The only part I can think of is with Pinto’s personality though Pinto is an extremely intelligent person and I’m not.
So in a nutshell, the book is a complete work of fiction.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
If a thought comes to my mind, I’ll stop my car at the nearest parking lot, note down on my phone and then use it later for my book. There are other ways e.g. you can record your thought while driving and then use software to convert into text. Though I love technology in general, in this case I just like to follow the traditional approach. The only difference is that instead of pen and paper I use my mobile phone.

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I used to read till 12th standard but due to time constraints my reading of fictions kind of went down. I mostly read newspapers… at least 5/6 newspapers every day, not thoroughly but I cannot survive without at least going through the headlines.
My two favorite authors are Premchand and Shakespeare…primarily because of the fact that they were part of my coursework. Though I’m not a versed reader, I can say with a great confidence that Premchand’s ability to create the plot and then describing the reality is the best in the world. It definitely has influenced my writing.
In the last five years, I’ve read Chetan Bhagat and Danielle Steel as well though a little.
When you sing a song, the best thing is to use your own style rather than copying someone. I’m a firm believer of that. So my style is very unique. You’d realize it in my book. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When I was frustrated with the process of finding a publisher for my book, one of my best friends told me not to give up. He worked hard to create a report for me and proved to me why it is important to publish your book through a reputed publisher and what I’d lose if I go for self-publishing. I’m so thankful to that friend. 
Again there’s nothing wrong in self-publishing. It could be a matter of personal choice as well but in my case his advice was to the point and worked really well.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
I think I’m not there yet as giving advice requires experience and I believe am still a work in progress. Though I’m getting really excellent response for my book keeping in mind that it was released just a week ago, I’ve yet to see the real success. All I can say is no matter what you write, spend a lot of time in creating a good plot. Sometimes you’d feel that you are not getting any tangible results by doing so but that’s not right. Treat that as the heart of your book. The body does not have any meaning without the heart. 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Wow! Such a thrilling and exciting question. I think Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan, Sridevi and Deepika Padukone. And of course comic character such as Rajpal Yadav would be absolutely necessary. It’d really be a dream coming true.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
I’m not that adventurous so I think that’ll never happen to me. Still if you have a magic wand and you put me in that situation, I’d like to carry things which I need for my survival in modern days. The first one is internet and phone so I’ll carry a satellite phone to be in touch with the rest of the world and especially with my readers. The second one would be a laptop. Who knows what kind of thoughts come to your mind in that situation and you want to write them immediately. Ultimately I am going to use them for my next book. And the last but not the least a family picture as that’ll give me moral support. Now one would ask what about food and water. Well! You just said it’s a famous island. Don’t you think that help will be on my way if I call my folks over the satellite phone or just post it on social media?

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I’m generally a boring person. Most of the time I’d be found reading newspapers on the internet or singing old Bollywood songs on my karaoke system for my kids. As far as places go, I’ve two on my list, going to my hometown Orai to meet my childhood friends. Secondly,  I love going to Paris and hanging out around the Eiffel Tower area and various markets there.

Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I am afraid of heights but want to do sky diving once. I know it’s not going to happen very soon. I also want to go on a road trip around the entire world. I think it’ll never happen. Also would love to do some long term work in slum areas in India, maybe I’ll get a chance to do it after retirement.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- I have passion for charity work. With the help of a few friends, I ran a charity organization in India.
- My first stage performance was in my college fresher’s night to sing a duet song. Before that I never performed on a stage.
- I love cooking, maybe I’ll create a video about that one day.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
It’ll be too early to announce anything. All I can say is I’ve already started working on my next book. It’s going to be very different than Pinto Has An Idea. In future, I’m going to write a sequel of Pinto Has An Idea as well.

About the Book:
Young Pinto has from his childhood been an out-of-the box thinker, finding solutions in his everyday surroundings to a myriad ancient global problems. A certain machine he invents in his childhood makes him a hero in his village but it's not sufficient to change the mindset of naysayers for Pinto to pursue his career in hardcore science.
Pinto has an Idea is the tale of Dr Pinto, a small-town boy, an IITian and a scientist working in MIT, who suddenly experiences a life-changing revelation in the early days of his research, throwing away his work on theoretical physics and setting out to solve the practical everyday problems of the world he lives in.
Returning to his native India, he finds his noble quest beset by unexpected adversaries, obstacles and trials, but emerges triumphant from each battle.
Pinto does not like to appear a romantic person, and keeps women at bay. But when Lavanya returns to haunt his life, and eventually shoe-horns him into marriage, he obligingly falls in love. Because Lavanya is not just a pretty face, she's his partner in research. And Pinto, a newbie in romance, discovers a whole new craze. 
But life takes directions never aimed for. Pinto is on the road to becoming rich and famous. He invents a mechanism to eradicate corruption in the land, and in that process moves towards politics. That impinges on the couple's relationship so severely that Lavanya disappears suddenly without telling Pinto. Why does she leave their child with Pinto? Will he lose his greatest 'idea', Lavanya, and thereby, himself? Sure, Pinto's ideas bring dramatic changes to society. But how much romance can a scientist handle as well?

Praise for the book

A strong plot with full of emotions, love, pragmatism and very important humor. The author has touched a genre which doesn't exist in the traditional publishing in India. It's a must read... shouldn't miss it.
– Boney Kapoor, Indian Movie Director & Producer

The moment I got the book, I could not resist finishing it in one go. You'll always be curious to know what Pinto is going to do next. I hope the author writes a series of it. Best of luck for your book.
– Sridevi, Film Actress & Producer

Looks like the author is going to be a trendsetter. It’s first time when I see a romantic fiction raising social issues in a highly entertaining and interesting fashion.
–Sandeep Pandey, Social Activist and Magsaysay Award Winner

Superb story.  It brings you back to college days and soon takes you to your professional journey. The humor is really awesome.
– Manu Agarwal, CEO Naaptol

30 December, 2017

#Interview with Rajat Narula, #Author of The Jasmine Bloom

About the Author:

Rajat Narula is a lead financial management specialist at The World Bank.  He has published several poems and articles and won Fairfax District award in USA for his poetry.  He has worked and lived in India, USA and Indonesia.      


An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I wrote my first poem, as well as my short story, at the age of 13.  My poems started getting published, when I was about 18.  Around that time, I started writing a fortnightly column for a local newspaper for about six months.  The appreciation I received for it gave me confidence that I could write well.  It was at that point, I knew I wanted to write a full-length novel.  

What inspires you to write?
The inspirations are all around you. People you meet, news you read, movies you watch, books you read, random conversations you overhear, sights you see, places you visit - all these things remain within you. Sometimes they percolate for years, enmeshing with other ideas and thoughts and a story begins to take shape.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Many years ago, I watched a Harrison Ford movie called 'Random Hearts'. In the movie, Ford's wife dies in a car crash, along with the Senator for whom she worked. After her death, Ford finds out she and the Senator were lovers - and she was thinking of leaving Ford. Senator's wife finds out too and the movie was about their coming to terms with that truth. Ford and the Senator's wife also have an affair and so on. The concept of finding out about your partner's infidelity after he/she is gone fascinated me. I thought what if the situation was reversed. If the husband was the having an affair and the wife (who died) knew about it, but didn't confront him, while she was alive. After her death, when the husband finds out that she knew, how hard it would be to deal with that guilt. When the person you want to apologize to, is gone. That was the kernel of the story of 'The Jasmine Bloom'. Of course, it needed a lot of development, fleshing out the characters, introducing children in the mix, a potential corporate fraud and so on to make it an engaging story.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
There are a few short stories that were never published (and will never be – they are too juvenile ).  There are several poems that have made it my blog, but have not been published.  However, ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ is my first ‘big’ story.   

Tell us about your writing process.
I like having an outline of the story, at the outset.  If you know broadly, where the story is going to go, you don't get lost on the way. However, as I write, I think of new twists and turns, and the story eventually turns out a bit different (and richer) than intended at the start.  
I try to write every day, even though it may be little.  I have a day job, so I get up at five in the morning, to get at least an hour of writing.    
My first drafts tend to a bit long.  ‘The Jasmine Bloom’ started out as a 120,000 words book, but was edited down to almost half that size.  I believe in spending a lot of time in editing, and refining the book, after I have the first draft.  It takes me long to finish a book.  Way too long.    The Jasmine Bloom took five years, my second is likely to take at least four – but I have to be happy that it is the best book I can write.  

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
There are several scenes that are dear to me.  However, if I had to pick one, it would have to be the scene, where Ritu goes to the hospital to get a procedure done, but changes her mind at the last minute (I wouldn’t say anything more than that, so as not to spoil the reading experience).  The scene is special in several ways: one, it was a last-minute decision for me to have Ritu decide as she does – and I like that twist in the story.  Two, the initial interactions between the baby and Ritu are written in such a way as to give the impression she is dealing with a hot young guy, and I loved that deception, and three, it opens up the story to interesting possibilities that weren’t available if Ritu were to go with her initial decision.  

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
All the main characters of the book have something of me in them.  Sameer’s deep-rooted affection for his daughters, Kavita’s love for books and her poetry, and Ritu’s small-town background and her missing that life – are all me.  However, they are also much more than me.  When I worked on their characters, I added colors that were not me at all.  That’s what makes them distinctive.   

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
I get immersed in the writing.  I laugh when I write humor, and I have tears in my eyes when I write a sad scene.  I forget it is all make-believe.  When I get feedback from the readers that they laughed and cried with the characters, it makes me feel it was all worth it. What comes from heart goes to heart.  

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Write about only three things: what you love, what you hate, and what are you’re deeply conflicted about.  

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
First: Persist. I see several people starting, but then losing steam midway. It doesn't matter how good or bad your first draft is, but it is important you finish what you start. There is plenty of time, after the first draft is completed, to further improve the book. But the most important thing is to finish it. 
Second: Write the best book you can. I finished the first draft of 'The Jasmine Bloom' in 18 months but it took me another 42 months to ‘complete’ it. I understand there are shortcuts available (self-publishing, editors) and the quality of writing of some of the bestsellers in India isn't quite the best, but you still want to give it your best shot. The book may be a hit or a flop, but you won't want your name to be associated with a shoddy, half-baked product. 
Three: Buck the trend. Don't write what you think sells in the market. Write what you want to write. The story you think you can tell the best. For example, if college romances are what's selling in India currently, doesn't mean you must write one too. If that's the story in you, of course. But if you have another story to tell, go ahead and tell your story. That way your truth will make the writing stronger and the readers will relate with the book.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I am currently working on my second novel, which is based in Virginia, United States. The central theme of the book is the inter-ethnic tensions and clash of cultures in US, particularly in the post-Trump world.

About the Book:

Sameer Chadha is in a mid-life crisis, unhappy with everything around him, even his name. His corporate career is languishing and he is increasingly alienated from his family.  His wife Kavita, a part-time poet and a full-time mother, lives more in the past than the present.  When their lives collide with that of Ritu, a younger woman coping with an abusive husband and an autistic son, a chain of events gets triggered that puts all their lives into a tailspin.  The Jasmine Bloom is a story of love, lust, ruin and resurrection.  It is a commentary on the fragility of modern family life; of terrible secrets and shocking choices.  However, at its core, it is the tale of a man learning to be happy in the here and now.  

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29 December, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: An #Interview with Jyoti Arora, #Author of You Came Like Hope

*** Special Feature - December 2017 ***

Quick Recap:
1st December - Introducing the Author

About the Book:
“I heard them mourn my death. I lay in the next room. Motionless, silent, and staring at the ceiling.”
“When it comes to a broken person, some of them are expert at blinding you. Spend an entire evening with such a person, but you may still not know how he is crushing inside.”
“Who would say no to him? He is smart, intelligent, super handsome, rich, suave and sophisticated. He’s perfect!”
“Pooja gave no explanation. She asked no forgiveness. She just arrived in his home, resenting him for being her husband.”
“He had smiled as if nothing was wrong.
He had behaved as if he still had his dreams and hopes.
He had pretended as if it didn’t hurt.
But it did.”

Does Destiny hold the key to our happiness?
Is it always the feeble that is the victim?
Love can be the embrace of heaven. But what happens when it unleashes hellfire?

Lose yourself in the intense narrative of You Came Like Hope as it unleashes a rollercoaster of emotions, uncovers some bitter truths, challenges widespread prejudices, and forces you to reconsider your beliefs.

Check out the Free Sample of the novel

Book Links:

An Interview with the Author

What is the first book that made you fall in love?
I think it was Pride and Prejudice. I had a crush on Fitzwilliam Darcy for a long time. 

What is the first book that made you cry?
I don’t cry so easily. However, No Greater Love by Danielle Steel brought me very close to tears. It is about a young woman who loses her parents and fiancĂ© when Titanic sinks. The book is her journey of survival, supporting her siblings, and finding love again.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Dream’s Sake

What did you do with your first check from your books?
Nothing interesting. Just deposited it in the bank.

What would you choose as your spirit animal?
An eagle

Have you ever been on a literary pilgrimage? Do you plan to?
That is one of my dreams.

If you were to turn into a literary character for 1 day, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t mind being Elizabeth Bennet if it gives me a chance to spend a day with Mr. Darcy!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your books?
Characters don’t always obey your orders. They will do what they want to do. If you force your will on them, it will make the characters’ behavior unnatural.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
No secrets. But I think I poured a lot of myself in my first novel Dream’s Sake. 

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
You are going to be proud of yourself when you grow up.

Who do you personally favour more and why? Peehu or Nirvi?
I am proud of all my heroines. Aashi, the heroine of Dream’s Sake, is a spunky girl, working hard to make a place for herself in the world. Nirvi is a fighter, and Peehu is very real, very adorable with all her hopes and fears. But if I have to pick one, I’ll pick Nirvi, the heroine of Lemon Girl. She is a very complex character, as full of rebellion as of submission. In fact, her very submission is an act of rebellion. She stands for the value of self-respect. Her journey delivers a very important social message.

What are the most unethical practices in the publishing industry?
I don’t know about most unethical. But giving an author negative royalty because the book is selling at discount is quite unethical.

Have you ever actually seen the printing process? Do you want to?
No, I have never seen the printing process. I sure would like to see it. Every experience can come handy while writing books.

About the Author:
Jyoti Arora is a novelist and blogger from Ghaziabad. You Came Like Hope is her third novel, coming after Dream’s Sake and Lemon Girl. She is Post Graduate in English Literature and Applied Psychology. 

Jyoti has over five years of experience working as a freelance writer. This experience includes abridging over 24 famous English classics like Jane Eyre, Moby Dick etc.

Jyoti Arora is a patient of Thalassemia Major. But she does not let this stop or discourage her. For her determination and achievements, Jyoti has received appreciation from Ms Sheila Dixit, Ms Maneka Gandhi and the Ghaziabad wing of BJP. Her life story has been covered in various local and national TV shows, radio programs, newspapers, magazines and websites like YourStory and Inspire India. She was also one of the ‘100 Women Achievers of India’ that were invited to witness the Republic Day parade of India (2016) as special guests.

Besides reading and writing novels, Jyoti also enjoys blogging and has won several blogging competitions. She loves checking out latest technological innovations, watching movies, and listening to old Bollywood songs. Reach her at jyotiarora.com.

Contact the Author:
2 Paperback Copies of You Came Like Hope for Indian Residents Only
2 eBooks of You Came Like Hope for International Winners

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#CoverReveal :: The Vengeance of Indra (Vikramaditya Veergatha #3) by Shatrujeet Nath

~ Cover Reveal ~
The Vengeance of Indra 
(Vikramaditya Veergatha #3)
by Shatrujeet Nath


In their greed to possess the deadly Halahala, the devas and the asuras have employed every dirty trick against Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine. But the humans are still standing, bloodied but unbowed.
When the wily Shukracharya discovers the secret to breaking the Council’s strength and unity, he forges an unlikely alliance with his arch-enemy, Indra, to set a deceitful plan in motion.
As cracks emerge between the councilors and their king, ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Vikramaditya and Kalidasa’s friendship, signaling the beginning of an eclipse that will cast a long shadow over all that Vikramaditya holds dear. And into this shadow steps Indra, bearing an old grudge — and a devastating new weapon.
How much longer before the Guardians of the Halahala finally fall apart?

Other Books in the Series:
(Click on the Covers for more details)

About the Author:
Shatrujeet Nath is the creator of the runaway national bestseller series Vikramaditya Veergatha, a four-book mytho-fantasy arc which includes The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru and The Vengeance of Indra. Described as “a new face to Indian mythology” by DNA, Shatrujeet writes for movies and web shows as well. He is also the author of The Karachi Deception, an Indo-Pak spy thriller.

28 December, 2017

Top 15 Inspiring & Kickass Heroines in Literature

I have a weakness for strong female characters... Whether they are the protagonist or playing a supporting role. I find that I enjoy books with strong female characters more than the others. Here's a list of inspiring and strong characters who I enjoyed reading about!

15. Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis) 
Lucy Pevensie is an inspiration. She teaches us to keep an open mind and to love unconditionally. She is also wise beyond her years and really brave.

14. Lyanna Mormont (A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R.Martin) 
Who am I kidding? I totally want to see her on the Iron Throne even though she has no direct claim to it. A ‘lady’ who speaks her mind and seeks counsel when needed, she is a total fire cracker.

13. Matilda (Matilda by Roald Dahl)
Well, she is a girl who reads to solve her problems, what’s not to love about her? If for some reason that is not enough, she also taught herself telekinesis. You do not want to mess with her.

12. Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R.Martin)
Her journey to becoming a trained assassin has been a tough and arduous one. But she stuck it out, never losing sight of her goals.

11. Jo March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
I actually love and admire all the March sisters. But Jo stands out to me because despite her stubborn streak, she protects her family fiercely. There is almost nothing that she wouldn’t do for them.

10. Molly Weasley (Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling)
She has been portrayed as this kind and compassionate motherly figure whose mission is to feed everyone around her. But imagine that compassionate woman having a husband and seven children embroiled heavily in the war against Voldemort. She is strong. And let’s not forget who took down Bellatrix Lestrange, ok?

9. Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
Katniss Everdeen is a product of her circumstances. Having to shoulder the responsibility of her family from a young age had toughened her up. She won my heart the moment she volunteered for the hunger games to take her sister’s place.

8. Brienne of Tarth (A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R.Martin)
Given the setting, Brienne of Tarth stands out because of her station as a warrior. Additionally, being tall and muscular, she has had a hard time from all quarters. I admire her strength of character.

7. Sansa Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R.Martin)
Sansa had a very different journey from that of her sister; which I feel was harder in many counts. Yet she survived through it all and retained her core values.

6. Lisbeth Salander (Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson)
What I love the most about Lisbeth is that she ‘knows’ and is aware of herself so intimately, that she turns her flaws into her strength. She also is never afraid of taking charge.

5. Inej Ghafa (Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)
I doubt Kaz Brekker would have been as successful as quickly without Inej. She is both mentally and physically strong. She goes for what she wants and fiercely protects those she loves.

4. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling)
Beauty with Brains and Brawn! Harry and Ron would have died (or expelled) a million different times without her. Granted, she can be annoying miss-know-it-all, but then she does know it all, doesn’t she?

3. Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow by Margaret Stohl)
Thanks to Margaret Stohl, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a The Black Widow, can now be counted as a literary character. I have been a fan of The Black Widow for being one of the very few female ‘superhero’ in the comics universe. Trust me, she can do a lot more than what they have shown in the Avengers movie series.

2. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling)
Not that she needs a reason besides being a Ravenclaw and good with her wand to be on this list. But I find Luna to be a breath of fresh air in today’s world. She doesn’t care what the world thinks of her as long as she is being true to herself. And that is an important lesson for every girl (and even boys) in today’s world. She is kind, smart, intelligent, straightforward, observant, brave – all rolled in to one. We need more Luna Lovegoods in the real world.

1. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas)
An orphan who has been trained to become an assassin from the age of eight. She is the best at her job, and the fate of the world rests on her shoulders. What I love the most about her is that even though she is larger than life in her assassin persona, she is just a normal girl on the inside. She gets scared – yet she trudges on to do the right thing.

What do you think? How many of these amazing women do you admire as well? And who would you put on this list that I missed?

Note - Images used in this post have been taken from google search results.

26 December, 2017

#BookReview :: Let's have coffee by Parul A. Mittal

Working as an assistant wedding planner at an ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Meha encounters the delectably handsome wedding photographer, Samir. Conceited and a flirt, Samir reveals that the bride happens to be his ex. But when Meha finds out that Samir is using their relationship only as experiential material for his novel, she leads him to believe that he means nothing to her. Their chapter closes. 

But life has other plans for Meha. Five years later, she finds herself in an online reality show living-in with the same Samir and trying to understand the true meaning of love. Will she find the forever-wala love in a world where relationships can be as brief as the messages we send each other and where we are spoilt for choices, whether it’s the screensaver on our phone or the flavours of a condom? 

An interesting take on relationships in our times, Let’s Have Coffee is funny and witty, warm and wonderfully realistic story of two very different people who fall in love. 

Meha and Samir meet at a wedding; a wedding of their exes! Meha finds herself attracted to Samir only to find out that he has a motive behind indulging her. So, they part ways, only to meet again after a few years for an online project. Meha is looking for her happily ever after in an age when people change their partners faster than android updates on their phones. Will she ever find it?

I have to admit that it took me quite some time to get over the way the protagonists meet. It is hard to believe that both the bride and groom has their exes deeply involved in their wedding. Then again, few years down the line Meha and Samir find themselves involved in the same project! Coincidence much? It just threw me off balance… Once I managed to put that behind me, the romance played out quite well. There was some chemistry between the protagonists that made the whole journey bit more interesting. I liked Meha’s character a bit more than that of Samir’s. Meha can be a headstrong girl, but at the same time she has some innocence in her that I found endearing. The highlight of the book is the way it tackles modern relationships. It puts up a mirror to current ‘trends’ and makes you think about relationships in a way that is both modern and traditional.

Keeping to modern traits, this book has some ‘Hinglish’ and like every other time, I found it off putting. The book would probably make a good commercial Bollywood movie. All in all, there’s both good and average things in the book that makes it an entertainer. If you are not put off by Hinglish language in a book, you can give it a try.

Review Copy received from the Author

Also, see my review of Arranged Love by Parul A. Mittal

25 December, 2017

#Interview with Josie Jaffrey, #Author of The Solis Invicti Series

About the Author
Josie lives in Oxford, England, with her husband and two cats.  When she’s not writing, she works as a lawyer, specialising in intellectual property and commercial law.  She also runs a video book review club, The Gin Book Club, through her website.
The first book in the Solis Invicti series (A Bargain in Silver) is Josie’s debut novel.

By Josie Jaffrey

The Solis Invicti series is set in London, in a world in which the human population has been decimated by a blood-borne virus.  In the wake of the zombie apocalypse that follows, a vampiric race called the Silver seizes control.  Without the protection of the Silver, humanity will soon cease to exist, and without uninfected human blood, the Silver will perish.  A necessary symbiosis is the result, but the power of the two races could not be more unevenly balanced.
The protagonist of the series is Emilia, a twenty-something barmaid with an insubordinate and reckless approach to the new order.  In the first days following the collapse, she struggles to accept that her life has changed irrevocably and that she is powerless to reclaim it.  That recalcitrance brings her face to face with the highest ranks of the Silver.
The series is targeted at adults and mature young adults.  The books contain horror, profanity and sexual content.  This isn't erotica, but there are some steamy scenes (only one or two per book).  There are love triangles, aggression and drama, but there is also an eventual HEA.

Series Info:
Books in series: 4
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Adult, Dystopian, Urban Fantasy
Additional Media Links:

An Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
It crept up on me. I started writing, found that I really enjoyed it, and I realised I couldn’t stop. However, I didn’t realise that I wanted to be a writer (i.e. that I wanted to make writing my profession) until a couple of years ago. By that time, I had already written A Bargain in Silver, the first novel in my four-book paranormal romance series, the Solis Invicti series. 

What inspires you to write?
I’d love to be able to say that I have a particular inspiration, but actually I write simply because I like doing it. There’s nothing quite like finding the perfect words to express something commonly human, or to describe a feeling. I also love exploring personalities through my characters, and exploring social issues through analogy in my stories, particularly those relating to power, control and prejudice.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Absolutely. There’s one that may well surface one day, but there are also two half-written novels that will never emerge from the murky corners of digital storage. One of them was in some ways a precursor to the Solis Invicti series, but the other is a piece of literary fiction with a concept that I think, in retrospect, is a little too wacky for the writing style. I could go back to it one day, but I think I’d prefer to just keep writing new ideas.

What is your favourite scene in the book? Why?
Like everyone who has read A Bargain in Silver, my favourite character is Cam. There’s a scene where he and the protagonist get unhealthily inebriated, and it all becomes a little silly. That scene was so much fun to write, particularly because it injects some much-needed comedic respite into a section of the book that is otherwise quite tense.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Absolutely! I’d be very wary of any author who didn’t read. I actually run an online book club, The Gin Book Club, through my website. We review a wide range of books, including indies.
My favourite authors include Terry Pratchett, Michael Marshall Smith, Charlaine Harris and Chuck Palahnuik. I love the horrifying aspects of Michael Marshall Smith’s writing, and the gritty psychological storylines that Chuck Palahnuik crafts. Those influence the way in which I try to write, as do Pratchett’s humour and Harris’s romantic plots.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
Just write. You aren’t a writer unless you do.
This is such valuable advice. I have too many friends who want to be authors, but spend so long plotting their novels and crafting characters that they never actually sit down and start writing. I think the problem is that a lot of people obsess about getting everything right the first time, but your first draft is exactly that: a draft. I also find that my plots will change slightly as a write, and they need the space to do that. Some of my best scenes have been things I didn’t expect would happen when I plotted the novel.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
In addition to writing, read! Don’t just read in your genre, but read everything. It will inspire you, and encourage you to think critically about how other authors construct their work. That analysis will influence your own work for the better.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
This is such a difficult question! I’d have to take a book (obviously), probably The Lord of the Rings because it’d keep me going for a while. I’d also take my Swiss Army Knife, because it would be super handy, and a kettle with a load of Earl Grey tea, because I can’t live without it. That might be four things(!).

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
When I’m not writing or reviewing books, I row on the Isis in Oxford. The river gives you the best views of the city, and I love the synchronicity of rowing in a crew. The only thing that comes close for me is Ashtanga yoga, which I also enjoy.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I’m currently working on the first book of the sequel to the Solis Invicti series. There will be some familiar faces, but plenty of new characters, so watch this space!

About the Books
Solis Invicti: Book I
By Josie Jaffrey

A deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience. It's not a deal that Emmy's willing to make, but as her world burns around her she finds herself in the arms of the enemy and the line between oppressor and saviour begins to blur.
After an attack by the infected, Emmy is rescued by the handsome Drew who introduces her to the world of the Silver. Desperate to escape subjugation and confused by her attraction to him, she gathers what remains of her surrogate family and plans to make a break for freedom.
But despite her efforts to resist, she is drawn further into the intrigues of the mysterious Silver through the agency of their ruler, the Primus: Solomon. Emmy refuses to submit to the cold and detached Primus and an attempt on her life makes it clear that he is unable to protect her from the political machinations of his race.
As the connection between them deepens she must choose between her desire and her will to rebel, but can she trust his intentions when everyone is after her blood?
Tagline: If the price of safety is slavery, would you bargain your life?

Praise for A Bargain in Silver:
✭✭✭✭✭  Dystopian, post-apocalyptic and dark, very dark… Josie Jaffrey takes on the world of the paranormal with bold strokes and a personal touch. – Tome Tender
✭✭✭✭✭  I absolutely loved this book. I had the hardest time putting it down. I think I may have even growled at my family when they interrupted me. – Baroness Book Trove
✭✭✭✭  This is a powerful start to what I am sure will be an amazing series! – One Book Two
✭✭✭✭  This book had me hooked right from the very first page. A slightly different twist on the usual vampire romance, this is a well written and intriguing start to the series. – A British Bookworm’s Blog

Solis Invicti: Book II
By Josie Jaffrey

The Price of Silver is the second book in Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance series, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London where a deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience.
Emmy is fenced in by the city, the walls marking the edge of safety closing in around her and sealing her in with one vampire who loves her and another who wants her dead. As she struggles to keep herself and the people she cares about alive, her fellow humans chafe against their enforced submission, and it becomes clear that there are bigger schemes and greater deceptions in play than she had ever imagined.
All the while, the monsters wait outside the barricades for their moment. Of one thing she is certain: without the help of the Silver, the humans won't be safe for long.
Tagline: In the straits of necessity, sometimes there isn't room for freedom.

Praise for The Price of Silver:
✭✭✭✭✭  Fabulously twisted, dark and intense, the lines between good and evil become gray smears as Josie Jaffrey plummets us into book two of the Solis Invicti series with The Price of Silver. – Tome Tender
✭✭✭✭  There are plenty of surprises and delicious twists to make readers want to continue reading. – One Book Two
✭✭✭✭  This is really a very strong sequel. I look forward to reading Book 3. – A British Bookworm’s Blog

Solis Invicti: Book III
By Josie Jaffrey

Exiled from the city and from the affections of the vampire who had loved her, Emmy finds herself pushed into a captivity she never expected to experience. With the bond to her former protector broken, she knows that the chance to turn Silver is now a monstrous obligation rather than a glittering opportunity.
In an unfamiliar place among unfamiliar people, Emmy feels deserted by those Silver she had thought of as friends, out of sight and out of mind. If only her enemies were equally forgetful.
Bound in Silver is the penultimate book in Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance quadrilogy, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London where a deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience.
Tagline: If you're living against the clock, try not to do it in a cage.

Praise for Bound in Silver:
✭✭✭✭✭  Dark, emotionally taut and edge-of-your-seat riveting. Ms. Jaffrey’s take on Vampires, their world and their power has me awestruck! – Tome Tender
✭✭✭✭✭  I love the world. I love the premise. I love the characters! Jaffrey has quickly become a must read author with the crazy world of the Solis Invicti. – One Book Two
✭✭✭✭✭  In short, this book just works. And that ending? Bring on Book 4! – A British Bookworm’s Blog

Solis Invicti: Book IV
By Josie Jaffrey

The truth is out, and Emmy is faced with a choice she dreads: surrender her mortality, or allow her frailty to threaten the nascent society the Silver are building. With exile the only reasonable alternative, she struggles with feelings she can’t define and a duty she’s reluctant to accept.
While the Silver city hangs in the balance, Emmy must remake herself to redeem it and save her friends. Her reinvention forces her to choose sides, threaten alliances and risk becoming like those she fears: inhuman.
The Silver Bullet is the final book in Josie Jaffrey's Solis Invicti paranormal romance quadrilogy, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic London where a deadly infection threatens to wipe out humanity. The only people who can stem its advance are the Silver, a vampiric race who offer a simple exchange: protection in return for blood and subservience.
Tagline: To think of death as a thing of beauty: that’s a threshold you can’t cross twice.

Praise for The Silver Bullet:
✭✭✭✭✭  Absolutely riveting! This is NOT a quiet read. This is edge of your seat turmoil at its best as Josie Jaffrey brings her world to life once again. – Tome Tender
✭✭✭✭✭  An explosive ending to an amazing series! I will shout my love for this series from the rooftops! – One Book Two
✭✭✭✭✭  I think that this is a series which is an undiscovered gem. I really do. I have devoured each installment greedily, and this, the final book in the quadrilogy, was no different. Reading this series has been a real treat. – A British Bookworm’s Blog