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Aug 21, 2015

Warrior: Book Review

Book Title: Warrior
Author: Olivier Lafont
Publisher: Penguin Books
My Rating: ****
About the Author: Olivier Lafont is a French writer and actor of mixed origins who's presently based in Mumbai with his wife- Gina. He is also a successful screenplay writer who wrote the script for the award winning movie ‘Hari Om’ and regularly contributes editorial pieces to the men’s magazine- Man’s World. Olivier also acts in theater and English plays. He gives voice over in multiple languages. 

There were three books already piled on my side table, calling me towards when this chunk of a hunk arrived by courier. What made me pick this book up and prefer to read it over the rest was undoubtedly the mention of 'Warrior' being shortlisted for the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013. That told me I could expect some quality storytelling in the book. Besides that the delicious cover illustration done by Aashim Raj made it irresistible too. Then the third reason that this book shot to my priority list was the trivia that I learnt about the author's background. I clearly remembered that character from '3 idiots' who was obsessed with price tags. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that Kareena's on-screen fiance was also a thinking man besides being a handsome personality. Olivier Lafont and Penguin had successfully given me many compelling reasons to read 'Warrior'.

The story begins with the exchanges between a seemingly hapless watchmender on Marine Drive and a lunatic who is a regular feature in the area. "O papillary paroxysm! O salivary symphony!" the lunatic cries after tasting the sweets he'd snatched off the watchmender's counter. And before the fifth page I knew, this book was going to be a treat written in British English.

Within moments the city comes under the onslaught of a merciless blizzard and Saam, the watchmender is forced to shut shop. As Saam pedals his bicycle past BabulNath temple, he over hears "The lingam of Shiva  opened its eye!" Saam pedals through the snowstorm to Shivaji Park, then old Mahim (These are the areas I'd spent all of my childhood at) The author makes me nostalgic with his words, and I am enchanted by his keen eye for observation. His vivid descriptions build the scenes before the reader's eyes, clearly and meticulously. 

The Peerless are a motley group of immortal demigods locked out of the heavens under the power of a covenant. "The End of Days is upon us!" Prophecies a self-proclaimed Master, claiming to be the originator of the havoc who also informs The Peerless that Shiva has begun the unravelling. It thus becomes inevitable that this dark force named 'The Enemy' who threatened obliteration be stopped. Progressively we read on and learn that Saam- the watchmender is no ordinary mortal but Shiva's only earthly demigod child, and it thus falls directly upon him to stop his indomitable father from letting the world reach its end. The story within the story of how Saam was born out of the love between the danseuse Padmini and Lord Shiva himself, has been skilfully crafted and is pivotal to the whole tale of the 'warrior'. 

Bred to war, Saam sets off on a mission to first track down The Enemy and thus put a stop to the destruction of the world. On this mission Saam is forced to join hands with Ara- his half-brother whom he can never fully trust. Now Ara is one character who I really liked and believe the author has developed as beautifully as Saam. I was absolutely amazed at the brilliant twist in the tale that appeared nearing the end of the book. Isn't it just wonderful when a story is highly unpredictable? The reader stays hooked till the very end.

Saam is a demi-god who's sucked into the vortex of an epic mission to save the world where his path is littered with death, danger and betrayal. Being an immortal, Saam has lived over centuries and the author has superbly woven history into the fabric of the tale. Saam and his many dalliances pepper the book with love stories, which are told in flashback.However it is Maya- his present mortal companion who finally manages to steal Saam's heart and keep it for herself, for good!

Saam's journey into the Serpent kingdom, the discovery of the Kaal Veda puts them on the quest of the 'Pure Glass'. Saam and his six companions riding the enchanted horses travel the multiverse, in the Ship of Worlds are all epic adventures. How Einstein and his theories, the Geeta, the Kaurava-Pandava war have been flawlessly used as reference points to give a plausible foundation to a fiction story, left me in awe of the authors creativity and imagination. 

The interaction between Saam and his father at the end of the book is a master stroke by the author. This enthralling novel requires a level of intelligence to understand and appreciate the beauty in the multiple layers of the story. There are subtle hints towards our real world politics, and religious divides too. Even though I wasn't able to devote time to read this book at length, every new chapter presented a new angle, a new thread of thought to mull on. As I finished reading the very last page of this book, I realised how much this author has observed and realised that women can gorge on chocolates even at the end of the most harrowing experience of their lives.

This is one book I am sure I will revisit again, later some time. And until then I will  flaunt it on the top shelf of my home library.This book is a superb amalgamation of Mythological fiction and Sci-Fi, reconfirming the belief that those books that one cannot classify under one particular genre turn out to be the best reads. All in all a fantastic book indeed, proudly added to my private collection of books I've read and reviewed! 

Aug 17, 2015

Among The Stars: Book Review

Book Title: Among the Stars
Author: Dhasa Sathyan
Publisher: Notion Press
My Rating: ***
About the Author: Dhasa Sathyan is the pen name of a Chennai based Engineer called Yamunai Thuraivan. He has also written many songs in his mother tongue for several short films. He debuts as an author with this collection of short stories.

The preface to the collection of short stories carries the following words that spoke much about how much the writer knows his reader's mind. 
Go ahead
Do not walk – Stroll
Do not watch – Gaze
Do not travel – Wander
Do not read – Explore
- Dhasa Sathyan

He welcomes his readers to explore his penning rather than just read through. That's just what I decided to do and enjoyed!

The short stories in this collection are so varied in genre that they are most rightly described by the author himself as being 'as random as a jar of pebbles collected by a kid'. They are also as enthralling too. Among The Stars repeatedly reminded me of how much I enjoyed my mother's story telling when I was a child much like the protagonist of the book- Arjun. The short stories are all tales being narrated by his loving father as they lie under a starry night, on the terrace of their house. Only difference between me and Arjun is that I sat with my mother on our ground floor house doorstep, but I clearly remember this thought running through my head too. 

"I stayed silent,staring up at the cloudless night, stars twinkling like a million diamonds and rubies that the Gods were trying to lure us with, taunting, mocking us."

I could completely relate to the whole idea of a child enjoying the storytelling by his parent.

In my opinion the author couldn't have devised a more intelligent idea of connecting these absolutely random short stories together but by stringing them up as tales told by Arjun's father to his son. 

“Yes. They are stories in the sky. Some shine bright. Some shine so subtle that you don’t know
that they exist, unless you peer at them long enough. Stories, long or short, bright or dark, hold
their own magic. Some stars form constellations, strung together beautifully like the Orion and some
are random yet beautiful on their own, just like stories….”

Ranging from Contemporary to Horror, Romance, Short-Stories, Psychosis, Sci-Fi you name it and the author has explored the genre. Though it does seem implausible that under a beautiful starlit sky,a father would want to spook his own son by telling him tales of normal people turning into zombies that go 'Yeaaarrrrgh', but who knows? My own mother used to share with me some true stories of paranormal life- experiences, more than many times. And those remain the best memories of time spent in her company. 

Recently at writer's and reader's forums there have been debates on the declining quality of Indian literature blaming Indie authors for using pedestrian English. Though I detest the trend too, I have always believed there are exceptions to every case. Dhasa Sathyan definitely shows promise in his choice of good words and his eye for detailing. 

Though Notion Press may not have done a good job with the editing, what with many typographical errors creeping into the stories at numerous spots, the book cover is a scoring point. The cool colour scheme and the silhouettes set against a starry night sky is just perfect for a book of stories meant for young adults.

What would you give to know your future? What happens when poison becomes your only elixir? Does happily ever after exist for real? Does love transcend time and death? What would it take to make you kill your closest? 

The short stories may not exactly answer these questions but have gone about exploring some great philosophical thoughts. The storyteller often gives his protagonist's name as 'Sanjay' saving the reader the pain of trying to remember names as we surf from one story into another. In one particular story there's an intriguing fork, I won't call it a twist for reasons you will find out when you read. There's a story within the story as Sanjay starts to tell a 'GHOST" story to a stranger he meets along a lonely road when his bicycle breaks down. 

I am not such a great fan of the usage of the First Person voice especially while storytelling. In my opinion the stories would have made a greater impact if they were written form the protagonist's POV or even an omnipresent narrator's voice would have done just fine. 

The book concludes with quite a long short story titled 'The Second Genesis' which is told in VI parts. And the author's writing style jumps a notch higher. There's a stark difference in the use of language and sentence structures, showcasing a tad bit more maturity in the writing. 

The Epilogue is also a nicely written piece where we discover Arjun has taken up and continued the loving tradition of storytelling which his dad had started. With his arms around his own little son Adithya, they are peering at the night sky. 

“Among the stars they lie,
Our loved ones, they never die
Spread your arms and fly,
Far, far away into the starlit sky.” 

What a way to draw the curtains on the book, passing on the faith that our elders look down upon us from the stars!

Criticise this book if you must but as an author and a storyteller myself,  I like books that are simple and sweet at the crux and are written to instill hope, are designed to help us nurture bonds through our story-telling! 

You may Follow the author on Twitter: @Dhasa_Sathyan
You can connect through Facebook with the author Dhasa Sathyan
You can pick up a copy of Among The Stars HERE

This review has been written at the express request of the author but I have tried to be very honest and remain unbiased in my opinions for the sake of our discerning readers.  

Aug 14, 2015

Book 23 Of Tornado Giveaway

I'd no idea I have befriended some very good authors out there. So proud to call you my friend Rachna Gupta. GIving your book the well-deserved spotlight Wish you all the luck always!

Author: Rachna Gupta

Read some reviews:

1. Kritika Narula
2. Anand
3. Tamanna Naik

The Story:

"Every beating heart will confess that once, at least once in their lifetime they were in love."

The collection of poems in this book talks about an emotion so strong that it has the potential to create and destroy! Love in all its capacity has that aura around it; it needs to be felt and when it resides in your soul you find it giving rise to feelings never experienced before. There is passion and tenderness when being together, estrangement and pain when two souls are apart and then there is joy and relief when bound together again. The 37 poems in this book talk about this amazing feeling as seen through my eyes and felt in my heart!

You can also buy @

About The Author 

Rachna Gupta 

If poetry to you means a quest of meditative solace in the realms of nature's beauty then, inscriptions by Rachna Gupta is your gateway to a mystic appreciation of emotions and individuality.

Being brought up in the picturesque city of Siliguri - a little haven cozily tucked at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas; seeking inspiration from nature came spontaneously to Rachna. Blessed with a childhood that's reminiscent of untouched rural bliss, she would often sit under a mango tree writing in her diary with the wind rustling her hair and whispering sweet nothings in her ears. It is no surprise that her writings depict intense reverence to the power of nature; a divine unifying spirit that runs through everything she pens on paper.

An avid reader and traveler; Rachna breathes a nomad's soul which loves meeting people, understanding new cultures and absorbing the vibrancy in aesthetics that various geographies have to offer. She is also fond of music and cooking. Rachna has spent the last few years writing a variety of articles for Buzzle.com and InfoJug.com. Her poems and short stories can be found on Writing.com and her page on Facebook. Since 2013 her work has begun inviting recognition on well-regarded websites like, Fablery and Wordweavers.com. She has published two of her poems in the December 2013 issue of 'Taj Mahal Review'.

In a novel initiative beginning July 2014, Rachna brought to life her dream of sharing book reviews and personal rendezvous with authors to her readers through her blog. The blog so far has reviews of books written by acclaimed authors such as Paulo Coelho, Khalid Hosseini and Gulzar to name a few. It also invites Guest posts by other authors to add to the novelty of its offerings.

Rachna’s penchant also lies in teaching English language to primary children and draws inspiration in them by inculcating values of literature in budding years. Despite everything that keeps her busy throughout the day, she religiously makes notes about little things that capture her attention. At the end of day when the rest of the world sleeps, these notes are transformed into poems and stories for the world to read!

A doting mother to her son, Rachna now lives in Pune with her husband and son.

Stalk her @

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Aug 11, 2015

Tornado Give Away Book #14

Name of the Book : HIDDEN HUSBAND
Author: Shikha Kaul

Read a review:

Tushti Bhatia

The Story:

Aisha is trapped in her own secret which makes her life hell. Her love for Raghav is true. But hailing from two very different cultures is the basis of their continued friction. Aisha is a Punjabi girl from Gurgaon and Raghav a Bihari from Ranchi. Raghav's family will certainly not accept a girl from outside their community. And yet, he continues giving her false hopes through his efforts and promises. And then they take a step which entangles her life further. Will she manage to come out of this quandary or must she continue to live in her self-created web? Explore her journey that makes her realise the atrocities being committed on women in the Indian society and the tough decisions she must take, keeping her most loved ones oblivious to everything happening in her life. About the author Shikha Khanduja Kaul is an Indian author who was born in Amritsar, Punjab. Her family moved to Gurgaon in 1992 and she has seen the city grow from a small town to being the Millennium City of India. She completed her schooling from Gurgaon and later graduated with Honours in Physics from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (HR) from Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning. A mother to a beautiful daughter and a wife to the handsomest husband, a daughter to loving parents and a daughter-in-law to the most caring parents-in-law, she works in the Staffing Industry and is passionate about penning her thoughts and creating stories out of thin air. She loves to dance and spend time with her little princess. In short, she can be described as a complete woman who ensures she goes to bed with a content smile every day; someone who manages her 24 hours, balancing both her personal and professional lives, perfectly.

You can also buy @

About The Author 

Shikha Kaul 
Shikha Khanduja Kaul is an Indian author who was born in Amritsar, Punjab. Her family moved to Gurgaon in 1992 and she has seen the city grow from a small town to being the Millennium City of India. She completed her schooling from Gurgaon and later graduated with Honours in Physics from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (HR) from Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning.

A mother to a beautiful daughter and a wife to the handsomest husband, a daughter to loving parents and a daughter-in-law to the most caring parents-in-law, she works in the Staffing Industry and is passionate about penning her thoughts and creating stories out of thin air. She loves to dance and spend time with her little princess. In short, she can be described as a complete woman who ensures she goes to bed with a content smile every day; someone who manages her 24 hours, balancing both her personal and professional lives, perfectly.

She found her passion for writing not too long ago. Her debut fiction novel is a love-story with a touch of the realities prevailing in the Indian society that form the foundation of the biases against women for centuries. She hopes to come up with at least one novel every year for as many years as she can. With the plethora of ideas that the author in her is eager to offer, she wishes her readers ‘Happy Reading’.
Stalk her @

Now for the Rafflecopter: Gather as many points as you want to. The more points you get, the more you have a chance to win it all. Show your love for books.. Tweet, Like and Spread the Word... Thank you for being a Reader... You keep the Authors motivated... This is our way of saying a Thank you :) 

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Aug 10, 2015

The Tornado Give Away Book #13

Book 13 Of Tornado Giveaway (Package4)

Author: Madhuri Maitra

The Story:

"A short poem is a drop of the divine, a brief, brilliant flash. An emotion surges, you create an image, and the jewel is born, plucked out of thought-flow, rubbed and polished to its innate glow.

Haiku is like that. Intrinsically beautiful! Some see the beauty and others do not. Moreover, poetry is a personal experience. There’s no saying what will touch the heart, the senses, the brain, and why.

Haiku and Other Micropoetry would appeal to many people who have had idyllic childhoods in a world less crowded; who have enjoyed simple pleasures, or not; who have loved, lost, laughed, cried, danced, achieved, failed, and done everything that life bid them. They have searched for meaning and known the pain of that search. They have allowed themselves to grow with every experience.

Haiku heals. A short verse brings moments of recognition. A lot more can happen within these pages. Haiku and Other Micropoetry will be read by some with love and some with déjà vu. Some will identify with it, some might just toss it aside, and others might carry it around as a favorite dip-into read."

You can also buy @

About The Author 

Madhuri Maitra 

Always an avid reader, dreaming of delighting her own readers someday, Madhuri published her first two books in 2014. Haiku and other Micropoetry is a collection of short verse on nature and on life; while Equinox is a novel dealing with urban realities. While the former is pithy and thought-provoking, the latter is a simple reflection of modern lives.

Madhuri lives and teaches in Pune. Films are as close to her heart as books are; she teaches Film Appreciation in addition to Creative Writing. She enjoys bringing her favourite authors and films to young minds. She also conducts workshops for children and adults. She has also written and published papers on films and on writing.

She is currently enjoying the monsoon, immersing herself in her personal library and nurturing ideas for her third book.

Stalk her @

Now for the Rafflecopter: Gather as many points as you want to. The more points you get, the more you have a chance to win it all. Show your love for books.. Tweet, Like and Spread the Word... Thank you for being a Reader... You keep the Authors motivated... This is our way of saying a Thank you :) 

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Aug 7, 2015

The Tornado Giveaway- Book # 7

What a coincidence!
I just befriended Usha Narayanan at Facebook and found out that she's an extremely warm and positive person. So easy to talk to!
It is interacting with such humble achievers that teaches you a thing or two about success..I quote- "
we dont sprout horns cos we do something, do we? There are such luminous souls in the world and we can only aspire!" .- Usha Narayanan
And then Penguin India sent me her latest book 'Pradyumna' for an early review.
You can imagine how thrilled I must have been.

And to top it all, this fantastic Tornado Giveaway also starts with her book. There must be some karmic connection between us. I believe so!

Author: Usha Narayanan

The Story :

‘I see a dark future that makes me quake,’ Devarishi Narada said. ‘One of these newborns will ravage the world and erase the name of Krishna from the face of the earth.’

As the world trembles on the threshold of Kali Yuga—4,32,000 years of unprecedented evil—it waits for a saviour to rise.

Meanwhile, in the dark netherland of the asuras, the meek Vama shudders as he learns that he is actually Pradyumna,
the son of Krishna. And that his journey has just begun.

From the asura kingdom to Dwaraka and then Kurukshetra, destiny forces him to battle monsters, angry
gods and blazing weapons, and overpower his own weaknesses. Will he be able to rise to the challenge in time to save
the world? Or is he the destroyer prophesied by Narada?

Pradyumna is the gripping saga of the rise of this mighty, swashbuckling hero whom all of humanity awaits.

You can also buy @


About The Author 

Usha Narayanan 

Usha Narayanan is a gold-medallist with a Master’s degree in English Literature. She has had an eventful career in advertising, media and the corporate world, as creative director, features writer, web editor and communications manager. Her debut novel, ‘The Madras Mangler’, a suspense thriller, has received several positive media and reader reviews. Her next book is an epic fantasy,'Pradyumna: Son of Krishna,' published by Penguin. 

Stalk her @

Now for the Rafflecopter: Gather as many points as you want to. The more points you get, the more you have a chance to win it all. Show your love for books.. Tweet, Like and Spread the Word... Thank you for being a Reader... You keep the Authors motivated... This is our way of saying a Thank you :) 

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#TornadoGiveaway  is an initiative of The Book Club. Click on the icon to go to the event page of the Tornado .. Lots of fun awaits you :)

Jul 27, 2015

Tell Me A Story- Book Review

Book Title: Tell Me a Story (An Anthology)
Author (Compiled by): Ravinder Singh
Publisher: PENGUIN metro reads
My Rating: ***1/2
About the Author/s: 
Ravinder Singh who compiled this anthology is a software engineer by profession, brought up in a very small town of Orissa called Burla. 
Before editing and compiling this anthology, Ravinder Singh had also launched an anthology of Love stories titled 'Love Stories That Touched My Heart'. The author has many other published books to his credit.
The twenty one other authors who have contributed to the anthology come from different professional backgrounds but are storytellers for sure!

'Tell Me A Story'- the name of the book itself is a promising title that will compel lovers of the written word to reach out for the book. The subtitle says that the anthology has inspiring, touching, funny and heartfelt stories from life. And I'm a big sucker for true stories, so one can imagine my excitement to read this collection of short stories.

The cover is undoubtedly cute. The floral background and the flowing font translated 'touching' very aptly. And the cup of coffee by the side is just the perfect ambiance for a book lover, isn't it? It was drizzling beautifully outside when I received this book. What luck! 

I think when Penguin put me on their Book Reviewer's list and sent me the paperback for a sneak preview, it had been an extremely opportune hour. This is  a beautiful book to start off on my stint as a book reviewer for Penguin India. 

The book opens with an Editor's note that says "We all have stories to tell. And we love telling them, don't we?" And the writer in me thoroughly agrees with a vigorous nod. Tell Me a Story is a collection of heart-warming stories about events and incidents that affected or changed the lives of the contributing writers. They have narrated stories of episodes that left an indelible mark on their lives. 

Going through the table of contents, 'Pages from a Writer's Life' by Shamita Harsh immediately drew my attention. I knew, I would definitely be able to connect with that particular story and I did but before getting to it, I decided to follow the order and read the stories as they came. That would do justice to the anthology.

'The End of the Tunnel' by Krishnashish Jana is the curtain raiser story of the series. And after having finished reading it, I realised why it had been handpicked to set the ball rolling. The story is absolutely tear-jerking. Told in simple yet well chosen words, it pulls at the strings of the heart and how! Death of a loved one is not easy to face and even more difficult to understand at a tender age. Giving consolation to a grieving loved one requires unimaginable inner strength. This story was just as the title suggested  and more. 

There are some more stories in the book that are heart-wrenching stories of death and grief,of  the sorrow and struggle that a heart goes through to bear with the pain of losing a loved one. The experience of waiting in a hospital lobby, losing a parent and mourning the grave loss is not alien to me and I could relate with the author's anguish. These stories are rife with emotion, alright!

'The Smile That Said It All' by Kamalika Ray is a story with a social message. Its so easy to reach out to another soul and yet we don't! You needn't burn your pockets to 'give'. Giving is highly overrated. It should be as natural as breathing. A simple heartfelt smile of gratitude that you get in return brings so much happiness and yet we look for that elusive 'happiness' in all the wrong places. 

'And Then The Planes Came' by Sanghamitra Bose is my favourite story from this collection. It transported me into another era and also into the mind of a child. This story brought a smile to my face and also left me thinking, at the same time. On a much lighter note is the short and sweet story- 'The Untied Shoelaces' by Dalia Jane Saldanha. Children and the stories from a writer's childhood experiences, can both leave you with a smile as well as a lesson to learn. 

'Tell Me A Story' is definitely a thoughtfully compiled collection of true stories which not only make for a good read but also leave you with life lessons. I will venture to compare this book with the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' series. Similar in genre and style, it has full potential to keep surfacing time and again because I'm sure there are many more writers out there with their own touching and riveting real life experiences to share. Only, I would like it even more if the next time around I get to read stories that touch a wider plethora of emotions. In my opinion, too many stories revolving around the death of a loved one in the same collection was the  downside here. The nit-picking critic in me sees that as one reason why the book loses a star. Besides, there were a couple of short stories that lacked the flare with which the other stories were written.

"I don't crib, complain, and curse any more. Each time I recall this twenty-minute interaction with a stranger, the soreness of my problems subside automatically. I'm sure you'll experience the same."
- Opening lines of 'We The People' by Anjali Khurana. 
Can there be a more profound quote than that? We indeed can learn a lot from the lives of others. Happy or sad, their stories teach us a thing or two, if we are ready to read and evolve as human beings.

Jul 8, 2015

When I See Your Face: Book Review

Author: Devika Fernando
Publisher: Kindle Edition
My Rating: ****
About the Author: Devika Fernando is a widely published  romance novel author and prolific writer from Sri Lanka. Having lived and completed her education in Germany, she now works as a self-employed German web content writer and also as  a translator, based in Sri Lanka. 

While reading this book I must say I felt like that child who receives the choicest confectionery and never wants it to end. Its undoubtedly sweet all over but sends a myriad delicious feelings racing through your heart. Simple yet interesting storytelling with the appropriate use of good words makes it a smooth read. 

Roughly 17 months of marriage and at least twice as many bruises later, Cathy takes courage and makes an overnight exit to a remote village. She dreams of reclaiming her life and plans to start a cake business with some help from old Mrs. Grindle- her new-found aunt who's the owner of the guesthouse she's put up at. How love comes searching for her when she least expected it is a wonder! 

The love story blossoms slowly and in an absolutely sweet way. The relationship is more emotional and that makes it more romantic. Cathy and Michael's characters develop so beautifully before our eyes, actually falling in love with each other. Hats off to the author for keeping the characters on an emotional plain instead of having them merely tangle in lust.

The author has crafted such intelligent repartee between the two that it makes the story very interesting and entertaining. The quick wit in the dialogues, the natural situations and locations make it a very believable story. All the time, while I was reading, I realised a movie based on the story was playing out, scene by scene in my mind, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. LOL! I am a die-hard romantic and totally enjoy reading such books and watching such movies. I feel the emotions, I cry along and nose-dive into the protagonist's life. 

Like I said before, Devika Fernando's stories are like sweets but I wish this one had lasted longer. I would have loved to read this as a full-blown romance novel instead of just a short story. It had all the potential to show Cathy, Michael and the antagonist flare out in all their colours before the reader's eyes.

Kaleidoscope of Hopes by Devika Fernando is yet another MUST READ love story, if I may say so! 

Jul 1, 2015

Maya's New Husband- Book Review

Book Title: Maya's New Husband
Author: Neil D'Silva
Publisher: Kindle Edition
My Rating:****
About the Author: Neil D'Silva is a teacher by profession who was bitten by the writing bug, quite early in life. Born and brought up in Mumbai he derives inspiration from the metro's idiosyncrasies. The author says " I tried to create a blend here, a blend of my penchant for writing and my astute sense of observation of the things that go around me, and weave my yarns."

Neil D'Silva has also published a small collection of short stories titled, 'The Evil Eye and The Charm'. 

Think Indian horror thriller and what instantaneously comes to mind are a slew of ghost stories, haunted places and such other clichés. When I read the title of the book, I inadvertently began imagining a murdered newly- wed bride, draped in a red saree ready  to haunt the daylights out of me. Even the hand-illustrated book cover said so! If it wasn't for Neil D'Silva's previous collection of short stories- The Evil Eye and The Charm, that had impressed me through the roof, I probably wouldn't have ventured to read this novel. I am extremely thankful to the author for writing such a fantastic book and giving my interest in Indian Horror Thriller tales a 360 Degrees turn around. I couldn't help gushing through a Facebook status update- 

"Just cannot put this thing down until I finish it. Horrible, terrible and scarily delicious!

 — reading Maya's New Husband. "

What starts out as a simple story of a school teacher called Maya turns into a tale of gore within no time and in the most unexpected way. The reader journeys along with Maya through a plethora of changing emotions and one cannot help but feel intrigued by this pivotal character Bhaskar Sadachari who's also employed as a drawing teacher at the same school where Maya is the head of the Biology department. I feel Neil D'Silva's story telling was so flawless and beautiful that anything I say will only be a spoiler. Horror Thriller lovers would read and understand what a captivating book this is, top to toe.

There's so much attention to detail, in the description of scenes and characters, that I could totally visualise the incident playing out. At many points I even felt the stench being spoken of, suffusing my nostrils. Even the titles given to each new chapter were thoughtfully crafted- 'Kidney Beans on Toast','Placed like a pastry', 'Thigh Food'. I found it very amusing that the words chosen had a tongue-in-cheek humor in them, pointed at tickling the taste-buds of another kind! 
There's also a spidery 'tattoo of death' included at the top of the chapters that intrigued me to bits. Reading about it as the book progressed, had my stomach churning. 

The story shifts into top gear in the second half of the book and I found it absolutely unputdownable. The author has obviously undertaken a whole lot of research while writing this book.The seamless descriptions, twists in the story and the solid foundation of facts given to the fiction showcases the author's understanding of the lifestyle of the Aghori Sadhus. The most enjoyable fact about this book was that it keeps the reader on the edge of the seat and intelligently engaged. There's gore, there are irksome details, there are many explicitly described sexual encounters too that all came together to successfully create a growing feeling of fear in my heart, as I read it. Not a single element out of place or forced into the story for the sake of generating interest. Everything has been written with a great sense of timing and finesse. I could actually feel my mouth going dry but I was not reaching out for the bottle of water because no horror story had ever been able to get me hooked and thrilled all at the same time, like this book did.

Like I said, deliciously scary, scarily delicious, horrible, terrible book that will remain with me for quite a while. Maya's New Husband is MNF- My New Favourite! 

Jun 20, 2015

A Halo for Red Betsy (Frank Keegan #1)- Book Review

Book Title: A Halo for Red Betsy
Author: Aki Liao & Al McDermid
Publisher: Kindle Edition
My Rating: ****
About the Authors:
Aki Liao was born in Paris, France, but is a graduate of Yale University (1989) . He received his M.A. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (1993).

Al McDermid was born in Michigan, where he spent most of his life until joining the U.S. Navy upon graduating high school. Remaining in Hawaii when his tour ended, he attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, receiving his B.A. (1990) and M.A. (1997) in History.

There's a story in how they wrote their debut novel too which is worth reading:
Aki Liao and Al McDermid met as graduate students of the History Department of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 1990. They met again in New Jersey in 1998, at which time they decided to write A Halo for Red Betsy. What an amalgamation of their individual strengths!

If I could, I'd give another +1 * for this book, for its amazing cover. Just loved the illustrated cover done by Mark Smylie, an  award winning comic book artist. Absolutely fantastic and does full justice to the story and book title. It also immediately sets the mood for the murder mystery that is to unfold in the book. 

Frank Keegan is a U.S. Navy Gunner's Mate and former San Diego Police who has returned  to Hawaii after serving a four-year tour with the Military Police in Occupied Japan but is looking forward to mustering out of the military. I loved the way this character shapes up before the reader's eyes. There's a whole lot of showing, not telling which nails it for me! The story is set in 1949 and everything, from the language to the descriptions set the mood and successfully transported me to that time in American history. 

If it was a paperback I was reading, I'd say this book is 'unputdownable'. This E-book actually played a key-role in converting a die-hard paperback lover to an E-reader. I was so averse to reading E-books before 'A Halo for Red Betsy' happened to me. I have grown up reading murder mysteries and detective stories, starting with Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys collections as a primary reader, moving onto Agatha Christie's books as a High School student and graduating onto Sidney Sheldon. For a long time I believed there can never be another like Poirot but Keegan comes very close to breaking that notion for me. He brings a whole lot of romance into the risky business. I would venture out to call Frank Keegan the 007 of a bibliophile's world. If this ever flourishes into a full blown series of books, I'd be proud to say that I'd read the very first mystery he'd solved. 

Frank Keegan gets involved in the the murder of Navy Lieutenant Elizabeth "Betsy" Vale within hours of coming ashore and gets picked up by the Honolulu Police. Although his former commanding officer, the current commander of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base, pulls him out of the frying pan quite quickly , he also pitches him back into the fire by appointing Keegan as the detective to solve the case and help clear the charges against the police's prime suspect, Betsy Vale's fiance, Lieutenant-Commander Guy Beaufort.

What I most enjoyed while reading the book was the Hawaiian Creole English, known in Hawaii as Pidgin. The dialogues sound so very authentic and add flavour to the book. It also goes to show that a certain amount of research always goes into writing a good book and it always shows in the quality output! An absolute entertainer, this book kept me on the edge with its pace and style of storytelling. Never a dull moment!

So many interesting characters woven into the fabric of the story with an eye for detail and not a single piece felt out of place or forced into the scene. Sergeant Joseph Takeda (a veteran of the famed 442nd regimental combat unit, Lieutenant-Commander Guy Beaufort who needed a bit of anger-management, Chin- the Chinese gambling boss who seemed to have set off goons on Keegan chasing $10,000-missing bunch of betting money. All kept me wondering and reading, trying to beat Keegan to the real murderer and the motive for the murder for the deceased "Betsy" Vale is spoken of as an extremely kind and helpful person.

As Keegan tries to trace the murderer with bits of seemingly useless clues like one half of the gold oak leaf- a lieutenant-commander’s insignia and Betsy's missing handbag, he find himself in the middle o f a bitter dock strike, caught between a union organizer (and possible Communist agitator) and a Red-obsessed Federal agent. The plot thickens but he finds some romantic liaison with  a loose boozy officer's wife, a morphine-addicted former Navy nurse (and friend of the deceased), and a foul-mouthed young hooker. My favourite being the many rendezvous with Juliet Flynn- the Cheongsam wearing blondie.

How Keegan unravels the mystery undoubtedly involves a whole lot of  chasing, gunning down and bullet wounds too. But (here comes the spoiler)- there's some poetry involved too! Nah, even though I have written that now, you won't be able to guess who the murderer is until Keegan nails it! I like how the authors have done full justice to the book by keeping it a difficult guess and splitting it wide open at the correct moment. 

Thankyou Al McDermid for giving me a chance to read your book.  And I cannot thank NaNoWriMo 2014 enough for putting me in touch with Al McDermid.  Without being biased, I can easily say that 'A Halo for Red Betsy' is one of the best murder mystery books of our times.  I highly recommend this book to all who love to read books in this genre.

Also I would like to say that I am now dying to read the next Frank Keegan book- The Cheongsam Bombshell