Thursday, November 9, 2017

Book Spotlight: BEYOND SECRETS by Alka Dimri Saklani

Alka Dimri Saklani


Noel is a counsellor, risking his career for volunteering in an orphanage.

Nidhi is an engineering student on the surface, but deep down a broken girl in search of some unanswered questions.

Appu is a sweet little orphan, unaware of the cruelties of the world.

Despite being miles apart their stories interweave in “Aashiyana”, the orphanage. Their little journey together changes their lives in ways they never imagined.

One recurring nightmare, one unexpected phone call, one stolen diary, many lies and secrets, and a calling from the past are just the highlights. And when they depart, they are not the same anymore.

They didn’t hurt each other, it was a game of destiny. Will they ever be able to rediscover themselves and more importantly, will their paths ever cross again?

Beyond Secrets is a novel with layers of suspense and different nuances of relationships. And one question that can’t have just one answer - How long does it take for a scar to heal?

Read an excerpt:
10. A Different World
The classroom was in chaos when I entered. It looked like a mini battlefield of little soldiers bombarding each other with paper balls and paper planes. Before I could get a grip on the situation blackness seemed to engulf the scene before me, revealing another scene, hazy, like a dusty video film taking me to a different world where no colours existed except shades of grey; a classroom with empty first rows, far off, images of children yelling and flying airplanes... A wave of sadness crept in, a feeling of hollowness. Amid this chaos? Wasn’t it strange? Were these the same children who had forced their way into my thoughts when I was in the park? Were these known faces? Before I could become a part of the unreal the clamour faded as a strict commanding voice pierced through the din.


“Yes ma’m,” I said.

The scene dissolved and I found Simin staring at me in disbelief. “What happened?” she asked with a puzzled expression.

My head was spinning.

“Nothing, I thought you called me.” I said.

“I called Pranil. But what happened to you? You stood with your eyes shut. You ok?”

Oh, so that was her voice. Then why did I hear another voice, something from a distant, hazy corner of my mind? Or was it solely my imagination? Or a moment when imagination collided with reality?

“Yeah, am absolutely fine.” I said, looking away, not meeting her eyes.

“Pranil, I need to talk to you. Please come to my cabin after your prayers are over.” Simin said.

“Yes, ma’m.” The voice came from the last bench, from a boy with dishevelled hair, dark brown eyes and a dark complexion.

The dizziness made me uneasy and I couldn’t contribute much to the class that day. I walked to Simin’s cabin after the session.

I was not sure how I would collect the information. I wasn’t even sure what information I wanted. As soon as Simin saw me she started discussing a few things she wanted me to do.

“Noel, will you be able to go to... she paused. “You look disturbed. Are you ok?”


“You can tell me if anything is bothering you.”

“The boy you wanted to meet in the morning.” Not sure what was stopping me from speaking out his name.


“Yes.” I paused. “Pranil.” I tried hard to keep my voice steady.

“What about him?”

“Can you tell me something about him?”

“Like what?” She disconnected her phone that had just started ringing.

“Like…like…how old is he? Since when has he been here? Why did his parents leave him? Anything.”

“Anything. Hmmm.” She thought for a while. “Pranil is about 10 years old, he has been here since the last four years. His father died and his mother, who was a house maid, wanted to re-marry. The man she wanted to marry was not ready to accept responsibility of a son, therefore she left him here. But why are you asking all this?” She again silenced her beeping phone.

“I think I know him. Or someone by that name… or… or…” I didn’t know how to explain something I was still struggling to understand. I didn’t want her to disconnect her phone for the third time for my silly questions so I left the room leaving her gaping at me.

Later in the day I met Pranil. He was painting something when I reached him.

“Hello Pranil, can I sit here?”

He nodded.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“I am drawing a house.” He showed me the few scribbled lines in his notebook.

“Wow! This is a very good drawing.”

He smiled shyly.

I expected some connection to my foggy feelings as I talked to him. But no snapshots, no voices, no images followed. As if he was not the Pranil who played in my mind, the Pranil in my mysterious imagination was someone else, someone close to me yet far away, someone known to me yet a stranger. Something in my own self was unknown to me, an enigma and it was a terribly uncomfortable feeling. I just wanted to drag out the stranger from me but every time I tried the stranger gripped me tighter as if slowly becoming an inseparable part of me like my blood and my veins.

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About the author

Alka Dimri Saklani is the author of "45 Days in a Cancer Hospital" and "Beyond Secrets". Her debut novel “45 Days in a Cancer Hospital” was longlisted for the prestigious Crossword Books award 2013. Her poems have been published in many magazines. She holds MBA degree in HR and worked with a leading MNC before turning to a full-time writer. Born and brought up in Vadodara, a city in Gujarat, her roots hail from “Dev Bhumi” Uttarakhand. Apart from writing, she loves music, reading, traveling, and spending time with her two naughty kids.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Blitz: T.O.E Trilogy by Al Stone

Ground Zero
T.O.E. Trilogy, Book 3

Book Description:
It happens every 26,000 years.

Only a few ever survive.

This time ...

No one will.

That is unless Charlie Blake can locate all four diamonds to restore the Talisman of El and receive his calling from the remaining three elements before the Annus Magnus strikes. With both Arcadia and the mortal world in a state of unrest, his life quickly spirals out of control as it seems everyone has put a bounty on his head. Maybe even his closest allies.

Not knowing who to trust, Charlie starts to dig up the past. When new revelations arise, he begins to question whether the Legion of Light really is what it claims to be and whether he's been fighting for the wrong side all along. The line between good and evil is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, especially when it appears Charlie's destiny could very well be to destroy everything he loves.

Hero or villain? Charlie isn't so sure anymore.

On Sale for $4.99 for a limited time on Amazon!

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About the Author
Al Stone is the author of the YA fantasy trilogy T.O.E. After graduating with a BA in Film & Television, Al had worked in the television industry for a brief period before a disabling injury caused her to turn her hand to storytelling. Talisman Of El is her debut novel. The sequels Blackout and Ground Zero are currently available for sale.

When she isn’t writing, she enjoys going to the movies, listening to music and travelling. At present, she lives in England, United Kingdom with her family.

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Monday, October 30, 2017



My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely not what I had expected. Powerfully penned, this book will bring out all those deep-rooted anger that had once consumed many Indians living abroad. I have lived all my life in Europe before moving to The States. I won't say I have faced any of the situations Ms. Dubois has mentioned in this book, but yes, that underlying feeling of not belonging always stayed with me. I, personally feel a brown woman starts feeling this acute sense of not belonging from the time she leaves the threshold of her parent's house. But then we are so used to it, we forget that this is not the norm that the others face. Ms. Dubois has raised many questions in this book which made me think - was I always feeling this controlled - by my family or the society at large? Simple things like voting, education or even choosing my life partner - was this never my birthright? Did the brown women of my past generation fight for my rights? My rights - that I always take for granted.

I loved Ms. Dubois's voice. A slight aggression, a suppressed anger. And above all - raising all those questions which the 20 me had often asked - the 30 me had fought for and 40 me is slowly stopping to care about. Well done, Ms. Dubois.

What could have earned this book a 5 star was injecting a sense of humor or satire. It became a serious read and I had to keep the book down a few times just to gather up my thoughts. Of course, this topic is very serious but sometimes, laughter imparts the right knowledge the right way. 

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book Blitz: Scorpio Superstar by Sundari Venkatraman

Print Length: 150 pages
Publisher: Flaming Sun (Indie published) 
Publication Date: September 16, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
Language: English
Available on Kindle Unlimited 
Genre: Romance 

Kollywood superstar Chandrakanth, also known as CK, is a true-blue Scorpio, communicating with his eyes and believing in showing more than telling.

His website and social media consultant Ranjini is a Piscean through and through, fiercely independent, believing in affirmations and declarations.

It is love at first glance for Chandrakanth when he meets Ranjini; so strong are his feelings that he proposes marriage on their second meeting. Ranjini, fascinated by his starry persona, gets swept off her feet. The two get married without much of the world knowing—including CK's aunt and ex.

The two women set out to settle their scores on Ranjini who suddenly begins to feel a strain in what was a fairy tale wedding.

While passion reigns on the one hand, there’s trouble in paradise on the other. Although CK is by her side, the Scorpio in him expects her to trust him implicitly. But can the Pisces in Ranjini accept him at his word?

Does the tension then get to their relationship? Can love survive without affirmations? Or is declaration the only way to profess one's love?

It would be great if you can add this book to your TBR

Sundari Venkatraman is an indie author who has 22 titles to her name, all Top 100 Bestsellers on Amazon India, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia in both romance as well as Asian Drama categories. Her latest hot romances have all been on #1Bestseller slot in Amazon India for over a month.

Even as a kid, Sundari absolutely loved the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome as she grew up reading all the fairy tales she could lay her hands on, Phantom comics, Mandrake comics and the like. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end. 

Soon, into her teens, Sundari switched her attention from fairy tales to Mills & Boon. While she loved reading both of these, she kept visualising what would have happened if there were similar situations happening in India; to a local hero and heroine. Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. 

Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! And Sundari Venkatraman has never looked back.

Click here to check out all the titles by the author...

Sundari Venkatraman is a member of the panel of the #PentoPublish #contest on #AmazonIndia #KDP

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Spotlight: OTHERNESS: SOULS OF BROWN WOMEN by De.B. Dubois

De.B. Dubois


Who is the brown woman? How does she live defined almost solely by her skin colour and all the history it carries? How do we carry racism deep within us even when we think we don't? These are questions that require deep thought and reflection, and that's what Otherness encourages us to do. In a world increasingly divided along the lines of colour, despite its apparent modernity, here's a hard look at the realities that lurk within us, both as individuals and as a society.

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About the author

De.B. Dubois is an Indian-born-Swiss visual artist and feminist writer. She grew up in Calcutta until she stepped out to explore the world by herself. Debolina Dubois-Bandyopadhyay, better known as De.B. Dubois is licensed with International Degrees in Communication Arts and Cultural Studies, as she extended her Fine Arts and Design education in Mumbai, Sydney, Basel and Paris. She is titled with a Master of Arts FHNW in Design from Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel, with special emphasis on Design Culture, Design Research and Sociology. This apart, she enjoys long walks through nature trails, a good glass of absinthe from Val-de-Travers, and creating visual arts.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Spotlight: THE UNTOLD STORY by Ridhi Drolia

Ridhi Drolia


Love comes in different forms. But in all its forms, it comes with various challenges. Only those who can combat those challenges are true lovers. 

The Untold Story is the tale of Vihaan and Riaa. Vihaan falls for Riaa’s charms at first sight and brings to her life crazy adventures and madness. They soon emerge as two hearts with one soul and their intimate fantasies begin to unravel in exotic places. 

Their bond experience more downs than ups. These unexpected twists and turns bring Vihaan and Riaa closer and their romantic tale turn into one of lifetime bonding. 

The story takes a drastic turn after the lovely couple is blessed with a baby boy. It should be a joyous moment, but instead, haunting memories of Vihaan’s own childhood break out as a fresh wound in his mind. 

Read the novel to know what could make a father unhappy in the happiest moment of his life and how he combats his fear. 

Caution: The story is totally addictive and may arouse your sexual urge.


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About the author

Ridhi Drolia

In the author's own words:

"The passion of writing is deep rooted in my blood. 

After completing my Global Business Management certification from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, I joined hands with a few of my friends to start my first venture. 

Post my stint with the venture, I engaged myself in my lovely family life and now I present to you the author in me."

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: The Diamond Heist by Sai Daksh

Name of the Book:  The Diamond Heist 
Author: Sai Daksh
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Before I start I must applaud this achievement of the author. Writing a novel at this age is quite a feat.

Sai Daksh Shetty, at the age of eleven, completed the book The Diamond Heist - A Seven Agent Adventure.

A group of kids is sent on a mission by Col. Kapoor to Mumbai. Their journey starts with a lot of adventure from the flight itself.  Mr. Daksh, an eleven-year-old author has used his imagination to the maximum to bring our a series of adventure for small kids.

It's a short story with loads of action - some with vivid descriptions.

" After saying this, Achintya jumped out of the plane to his death."

But the whole story had a positive note about it and that was really heartening. My favorite part was the robotic camera and it seems that Mr. Daksh has done some serious research on technology. Definitely Cool!

I read this book along with my 9-year-old. I think Ritvik was pretty impressed since it was written by a child. He has been motivated to write a wolf story. But he has also told me not to hold my breath since writing so many words needs a lot of patience. And that is the moment, even I realized that Sai must have had a lot of patience to write this novel full of adventure. I hope he continues to write for he definitely has a fan here.


Book Review: A Bride, A Murder & A Trail of Blood by Laxmi Natraj

Name of the Book:  A Bride, A Murder & A Trail of Blood
Author: Laxmi Natraj
Star Rating: 2 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

The Story:
Is a murder mystery.  A murder has taken place in Dr. J.R.Misra's flat who lives in an affluent society.  Inspector Shinde is in charge of this murder case. There is a trail of blood, a missing body and definitely a missing murderer. Every clue leads to the professor proclaiming him as the murderer of his beautiful wife, Diya. He is said to be a wife abuser and not liked by the residents of the building.

Whereas the missing bride Diya is loved by everyone. Stories of how she is tortured by the husband are known to every resident and even the shopkeepers whisper such tales of abuses.

This story has some very interesting points. Ms. Natraj has caught the attention of the readers with her trail of blood. When the professor is captured, his explanation and protest are what makes the story very interesting. Where is Diya? This question makes the story a very thrilling read.

Layered in clues:
I loved the way Ms. Natraj has layered the stories, placing clues and doubts in the reader's mind. When the professor denies his marriage to the way Diya's parents react are all portrayed well. Inspector Shinde carried the whole story on his shoulders and his character is very likable. He came across as an honest policeman and a concerned father.

A few issues I had with this book:
While I liked the story and it was a pretty engrossing read, this book needs an editor. I hate to see wonderful stories like this one not reaching its readers due to lack of editing. I will mention a few points I saw in this book but there are more such errors.

1. Punctuations - full stop, commas, quotes etc. missing
2. Some words/phrases need to be replaced .. eg.  tied with a rubber band on the back side; scanning her with his police eyes; all of them under the steel grip;
3. As Shinde and Junior Inspector Mohit were going through the collected evidence, he saw the cell phone of the professor and suddenly he looked a bit stunned. (Stunned is not suited here at all)
4. He got up and briskly walked out. After he left, the manager had a faint suspicion that the word, ‘co-operation’ was said with a sarcastic tone.

If I ignore the editing issue, this is quite an interesting read.



Name of the Book:  The Royal Roommate
Author: P. G Van
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

The Story:

Is a cute story of Royalty. She was taken away from her family due to unforeseen circumstances. She grew up knowing nothing but an ordinary life full of love. She had a mom, a dad and a brother whom she loved yet the shadows of the past refused to release her from its clutches.

One day finally it caught up with her in the form of an injured man and Sid.  The injured man brought Sid into her life as a roommate. She had not bargained for a man as her roommate in the first place and definitely not a hot, virile male who could send her blood boiling with passion with just a look.  As the mystery unfolds, Amy and Sid come closer to each other but the dangers that lurk in the shadows cannot be ignored.

The pace of the story is good. Every scene merges into the previous one seamlessly and you can follow Amy's journey without missing any turns. It's quite a linear story line with the characters all falling into place.

The love story:
Between Amy and Sid is hot and not much of a conflict between them - which I loved. I am fed up of reading why a girl can't have a boy or vice versa. Here they face the difficulties as a team which I found very beautiful. Amy knows she is already in love with Sid, even without knowing his identity. And when she comes to know she does feel the insecurity and the fear - again well executed by Ms. Van.

The Boldness in the story:
Definitely not for those who are shy of reading about sex. Ms. Van is a bold writer who is not afraid to indulge into the deepest corners of er - sensual acts. Refreshing from some of the romance writers who still make use of roses and lovebirds to speak about sex.  On the other hand, the book is not all about sex and has a beautiful story of a princess who needs to be found and given the reigns of her country.

The Characters
The story has a make-believe land and kingdoms to go with the settings. They are well crafted. But it made it difficult for me to place Amy and Sid into any particular race or culture. To some, this might be a treat for you can let your imagination run wild.

“It’s part Aussie and part British with a bit of American now.” 

And trained to always save the queen. Interesting!

I have read Ms. Van's other books and I know she gives a very vivid description of her characters. So much so that they remain etched in your mind. Here, the scene and the plots are much stronger than the description of the characters. I have not forgotten Nick yet, Ms. Van.

The Plot: 
Where I found the character sketching to be a bit less, the plot is much stronger, precise and a page-turner. The ending is not blown out of proportion and ends without much screaming and bloodshed - ok a few drops are allowed in a romance.

The Rating:
Is purely based on the style of writing which I found to be peppy and fast. Editing is well done and overall a well-written romance.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: Scorpio Superstar by Sundari Venkatraman

Name of the Book:  Scorpio Superstar ( Written In the Stars, Book 1)
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Star Rating: 5 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

I will start with a special mention for the cover. Absolutely love it. Great work Designer of Sundari Venkatraman.

The Story: 

Ranjini maintains the site for the superstar Chandrakanth, Chandru for short. But she had never met him and when she does,  the stars conspire to make him fall in love with her. While the superstar is head over heels in love with the dusky beauty,  she is unable to stop being in awe of him.

With the consent of her parents, they marry, much to the disappointment of Chandru's periamma (aunt). Throw in an ex here and the two ladies make every possible effort to make Ranjini's life a living hell.

The story flows through the passion between Ranjini and Chandru as they fight against those whom they had once cared for.

Love at first sight
Most of Ms. Venkatraman's stories make the protags fall in love instantly. Though I missed that slight tug in my heart but the passion that grows between Chandru and Ranjini will start a fire in a reader's heart. With every scene, Chandru grew in Ranjini's heart. It was a slow fire which got started due to Chandru attraction for Ranjini and her being awestruck with his stardom persona and then slowly understanding, love and respect are roped in.

The old school of thought vs the new thoughts
While Periamma represents the old school of thoughts where girls are not allowed to work etc, Ranjini becomes an epitome of why a girl should work.  A thought that is very well penned in this book. She didn't need to work, she had everything and yet she felt the need to retain her own identity.

The transition..

It was not easy for Ranjini to accept the life of a superstar's bride. With new makeovers came the jealousy of Chandru's ex. But instead of flying into rages of jealousy herself Ranjini handled them very well.  I think it's the positive attitude in this story which made me finish it off in one sitting.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Just Me, the Sink & The Pot by Sudesna Ghosh

Name of the Book:  Just Me, the Sink & The Pot
Author: Sudesna Ghosh
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

Every fat child's woe which in the later year turns into a psychological problem. People in their 'positive modes' forget that not everything is a joke. I have heard so many stories of fat kids, fat woman, and fat men. I personally feel it's the fat women who are worst hit.

A shame and an abomination that slowly weakens the will power of a woman. Either they fight back or they hide in their weeping holes where no one can see them. And the worst part is - no one cares. For fatness is not a disease according to many, but a lazy living,  an indulgent lifestyle.

Ms. Ghosh's Pamela is one such character whose life is dominated by her fear of being fat.  Where self-acceptance is more important than waiting for other's approval.  I love the way her guilt, her fear of eating has been portrayed.

What other's will think if one eats? Superbly done.

The continuous bullying, the continuous fear culminated into Pamela fainting one day. My heart went out for the little girl who was afraid to eat, afraid to buy clothes, lest they don't fit. I hate those do gooders who are always ready to advise on how to lose weight. Seriously. Every person's life is different - physically, psychologically. But standing on a pedestrian after losing a few kilos is really not the way to advice fat people. That leads to more depression.

I almost felt sad when the book ended abruptly.

Ms. Ghosh has understood the psyche of a fat kid and the way she has used humor with making the story reach the heart of the readers is very commendable. I am looking forward to reading more books from her.

The only issue I have with this book - is the book cover.