Friday, December 29, 2017

Spotlight: LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS by Rishabh Jhol

Blog Tour by The Book Club of LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS by Rishabh Jhol


LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS
by
Rishabh Jhol

Blog Tour by The Book Club of LEAN IN TO RELATIONSHIPS by Rishabh Jhol


Blurb

Doubt has pivoted many a relationship across the centuries. Whether it is Othello suspicious of Desdemona or through the rise of paranoia as a trope in twentieth century writings. While paranoia naturally suggests the vulnerability of individual mind to social rhetoric, it is also the space for deep interrogation of the individual that renders him/her to paranoia. This novel presents that doubt has the potential to be a space of liberation.

Madeeha works in Jordan to rehabilitate Syrian refugees. Zehen, a political analyst from India, meets her in the US during their social impact program. He is intrigued and charmed by her, and falls deeply in love. But the world political climate, with its accompanying cultural narratives about terror and pain, infects Zehen’s mind. Zehen begins to suspect Madeeha as a possible mujahid. Will he find his truth? Fear doesn’t devastate; it stirs the inner pot. 

The novel uses Sufi philosophical terms to mark the journey to self-love and explores the tensions between Ishq-e- Mazizi (worldly love) and Ishq-e- Haqiqi (love for Divine). The novel uses the backdrops of various cities around the world to build its narratives – Cusco and Lima in Peru, Petra/Aqaba/Amman/Jerash in Jordan, New York/Philadelphia/DC/Chicago/Seattle/San Francisco. The cultures within each of these cities inform and influence the story so that each city becomes a character themselves participating in empowerment and liberation of the main protagonist.

It is a tender love story that triumphs heartbreaks and sets the foundation of deep lasting future relationships - a delightful emancipation from social intrigues and cultural constraints.

Grab your copy @


Read an excerpt here:

Zehen was experiencing sweet joy in his heart. Memories bustled in the head. When did he first see her? Zehen searched his head madly. Orientation session? Corridor to the classroom? However, he tried, he couldn’t pinpoint the moment. A whirr of images, of moments, yet-to- be collaged. And a heart that already had a narrative, waiting to be inset.

We imagine that all romantic stories will have a sigh-worthy romantic beginning. But beginnings are when the heart awakens, when the soul remembers. A presence stills and emerges from the shadows of time.

His first memory was when she introduced herself in the class. They had gathered at Presidium University for a one-year course on Social Impact Leadership. Outside, the white fringe tree was laden with its grape-like fruits. The pine, oak and spruce waited for winter to tell the world how unchangeable they were. And the old Redwood stood proud like the institution itself. Inside, in the warm classroom, students from various cultures across the world had gathered. Icebreaker session was on and the usual round of introductions.

Introduction is a ritual. A cumbersome ritual. How does one reduce the tapestry of one’s entire existence, the colors, and the many weaves into a single palatable thread?



About the author


I was born into poverty. At the time of my birth, my parents shared a one -room hut with six other family members in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Delhi.

It was a hot day in the month of March 1995. I was in standard 4th and had an examination the following day. As was regular in that locality, we didn't have electricity that day. I couldn't study or sleep properly. One of the watershed moments happened when I came back from school the next day. We had an inverter installed at home. I knew we couldn't afford an inverter. But my dad was always convinced that the way out of poverty for our family is through education.

Despite an interest in creative writing, I chose to study a subject that society values more – Finance. Later, I got into one of the top colleges for finance in the country. My first salary out of college (in 2007, when I was 20 years old) was higher than that of my dad's salary at the time.

When I was 24 years old, I had everything that makes one happy – loving parents, great partner, close-knit group of friends, and career path that exceeded every goal. Yet, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad either; but it never felt like my life. I had carefully and meticulously built that life though. Contextually, it was the safe thing to do.

Following year though, I had to deal with the loss of my 7¬year old relationship and of my 5¬year old job. My identity was crushed. My biggest lesson was that you can fail at what you don't want, and what you consider safe; you might as well take a chance at what you truly want.

Next year, I got my ‘ideal’ job but walked away from it. Failure had taught me to be more ambitious and audacious. I had reached a point in my life where I wanted my work to have more meaning; and to stand for something more important than myself.

I started a political consulting company to maneuver social ascendance of marginalized communities by equalizing access to political capital. I primarily did topical research for MPs for their debates in the parliament and on TV shows. Partial project list includes:

Providing 108 rape survivors with medical, legal, financial, and social support over six months through one of my client's NGO
Getting amendments passed in the communal violence bill that tackle systemic bias towards Muslims
Helping three social entrepreneurs raise a combined total of INR 43 lakhs from their MP for community initiatives

Along with running my own company, I focused on my passion for writing and traveling as well. I solo travelled to all seven wonders of the world, and did two-cross country trips by train in India and in the US. I have also written and published three fiction novels.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Spotlight: BRAHMAHATYA by Rajiv Mittal

Blog Tour by The Book Club of BRAHMAHATYA by Rajiv Mittal

BRAHMAHATYA
by
Rajiv Mittal

Blog Tour by The Book Club of BRAHMAHATYA by Rajiv Mittal


Blurb

A story of revenge and redemption and deeds shaped by forces that humans believe they have defined through mythology and scriptures but still struggle to understand. 

A woman employee of a retirement home is shocked to discover that a new resident is in fact the son impersonating his father. The son is seeking revenge. She, by her past actions, is unwittingly complicit in his being there and now tries to thwart his peculiar plans. A senile woman-resident and an enigmatic founder offer him sage advice. The samudra manthan (a major episode in Hindu mythology), a slightly dim secretary and a sinister boss play their part in ensuring justice is finally served but in an unexpected manner. 

The novel quotes frequently from the ancient Hindu scriptures and stories that the protagonists use to justify their actions. The treatment of the elderly in society is a major theme. 

‘I found Rajiv's novel completely charming. The story is always interesting and is funny and moving by turns. It has really original elements with its setting and his use of the Hindu stories. I think it is such a good novel and with such appealing characters. I loved it!’ - Rebecca Smith, author of 'The Jane Austen Writers' Club'.

Grab your copy @




About the author


In Rajiv Mittal's own words:

"I was born in Chennai, India in the early nineteen sixties. I am an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and a CPA from Australia. I now live in Melbourne after a stint of several years in the Middle East. 

Writing was a vague aspiration. It became reality thanks to a stranger who said I reminded him of the main character from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. He quoted from it, ‘Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.’" 

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Spotlight: VALLEY OF THE KINGS: THE 18TH DYNASTY by Terrance Coffey

VALLEY OF THE KINGS: THE 18TH DYNASTY by Terrance Coffey

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VALLEY OF THE KINGS: THE 18TH DYNASTY 
by 
Terrance Coffey

VALLEY OF THE KINGS: THE 18TH DYNASTY by Terrance Coffey


Blurb

In the year 1355 BCE, the land of Egypt was the superpower of the known world. King Tut's father, Akenaten, the so-called 'heretic pharaoh,' and his wife, Queen Nefertiti, are on the verge of catapulting Egypt into a revolution that will forever divide its people and rip the most powerful empire on the earth from its foundation. 

Inspired by the actual Hittite and Amarna letters of 14th century BCE, 'Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty' is an epic novel of intrigue, passion, and betrayal, resurrecting the thrilling story of a singular leader whose beliefs were both visionary and disastrous.

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About the author


Terrance Coffey is a bestselling author, screenwriter, songwriter and composer with a predilection for Egyptian history. He has written numerous short stories, screenplays, television pilots, and even Coca-Cola music jingles. His debut novel "VALLEY OF THE KINGS: The 18th Dynasty" is the first of a trilogy and a #1 Amazon bestseller.

Awards & Accolades 


#1 Amazon Bestseller!
2017 National Indie Excellence Awards FINALIST
2017 International Book Awards FINALIST
2016 International Pacific Book Award WINNER Best Historical Fiction  

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Spotlight: Simha International by Sundari Vekatraman


SIMHA INTERNATIONAL
(The Bansal Legacy #1)
by
Sundari Venkatraman



Blurb

Rohit Bansal, the handsome and suave managing director of Simha International, is the envy of many—from a director of the hotel to an employee. 

A thief comes up with a simple modus operandi, believing that nobody’s really going to find out anything about the thefts taking place. But when a guest brings it to his notice, Rohit is determined to save the reputation of Simha International and ropes in a top-notch detective. Will Rohit be able to find who the thief is before time runs out?

The lovely and intelligent Tasha Sawant goes to work at Simha International as the duty manager. Her experience in the hotel industry only adds to the hotel’s excellent service. 

Tasha is attracted to Rohit and it would seem that he reciprocates her feelings. Well, the lady isn’t looking for a permanent relationship as it looks likes she’s already had an unpleasant experience. But then, what about the guy? Does Rohit want any kind of relationship with Tasha? 

*Simha International is the first book in the trilogy called The Bansal Legacy.

Read an excerpt:
Tasha caught the movement in her peripheral as Rohit walked into the atrium along with Vignesh. She straightened from the desk in front of her to pay better attention. He was like her very own Prince Charming in modern apparel, minus the white charger.

Rohit walked across the reception as if he owned the place, a devil-may-care expression on his gorgeous features. Tasha felt something akin to a jolt of lightning strike her heart while she felt a buzzing reverberation like thunder, which muted all the other sounds in the hall. She just stared as Rohit moved towards her, her sherry brown eyes wide and her mouth open in a startled moue.

A trifle irritated when a phone buzzed, Tasha sounded breathless as she answered the call. A small frown knitted her smooth forehead and Akhil was startled to see her drumming her fingers in annoyance on her desk.

Tasha turned her head towards the two men who were deep in conversation as she placed the receiver back on its rest. Her heart beat a wild tattoo when she saw them walking in her direction. Her slender form thrummed in anticipation as she stepped out of the bay when Vignesh beckoned to her. Akhil could feel the tremors as she walked past him and a scowl puckered his forehead as he looked up to see what had caused the excitement. On seeing Rohit, he wiped his frown in a hurry and gave the other man a sheepish smile of greeting that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Akhil hated his boss, passionately. Akhil was from a middle class family and had had to struggle throughout his twenty-four years to reach where he was, a management trainee on his way to becoming a duty officer in another nine months’ time subject to—a look of bitterness marred his good looks—the approval of the board of directors, especially Rohit Bansal. Whenever he looked at his young boss of thirty-three, Akhil felt the fire of jealousy consuming him. Rohit Bansal was so lucky—Akhil was absolutely sure of it—to have everything handed to him on a platter, a child born with a silver spoon, into a hotelier family. Rohit’s single-handed struggle and hard work to set up the 5-star hotel against so many odds didn’t enter Akhil’s mind. His patience and perseverance had no place in the employee’s thoughts. His narrow mind could only perceive Rohit, as he was today, a billionaire who held 22% of the total shares of Simha International.

Adding insult to injury was Tasha’s reaction to him. She had been gently firm in her refusal to date Akhil. The bitch! His lips drooped downward. Big money went a long way to pave one’s path, it seemed.

Tasha went to stand beside the FOM, waiting for him to do the introductions.

“Rohit,” said Vignesh, “Meet Tasha Sawant, the latest addition to the Simha family,” he smiled before he turned towards Tasha, “And Tasha, meet Rohit Bansal, our managing director.” He didn’t notice the shocked look on Tasha’s face as she stared at Rohit.

Sherry brown eyes clashed with obsidian black ones and sparks flew! Her small hand was engulfed in what could be termed only as a huge ‘paw’. Tasha forgot to breathe as she felt herself being sucked into the black depths of his eyes from where she never wanted to escape.

The flash of his smile drew her attention to his sculpted lips—the thin upper one and a luscious lower one—and the incredible set of white teeth was a dentist’s dream. She drew a deep breath before whispering, “Hello.” She couldn’t help but notice the deep cleft in his square chin. Sexy!

Rohit read her lips rather than heard her greeting and met the lovely doe-like eyes with his obsidian gaze. He closed one eyelid in a wink and grinned at her, hoping to ease the situation that was fraught with sensuality.

Unaware of the undercurrents, Vignesh Kumar excused himself to go about his work.

Rohit smiled at Tasha. “Welcome to Simha International, Tasha.” His black eyes studied her boldly, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes peeping from her low-heeled shoes. She was tall and slender and oh so perfect! He had a tough time keeping his right hand from moving to her velvety cheek. The dusky gold of her skin seemed to invite his caress. He wanted to gather her in his arms and kiss her sensational lips into oblivion. He saw her breasts move agitatedly as she took deep breaths to calm herself.

Pink flooded Tasha’s face that appeared gorgeous to the fascinated man. “I don’t bite,” he declared, his expression devilishly mischievous. His black eyes danced and sparkled, lighting up the area. 


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About the author



Sundari Venkatraman is an indie author who has 16 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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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Spotlight: Avishi By Saiswaroopa Iyer



AVISHI
by
Saiswaroopa Iyer



Blurb

Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala

Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.

Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?


If stories about ancient India, especially those with strong women characters interest you, then Avishi is a story you must read!

Read an excerpt here:
The structure under the outcast control looked like an autonomous garrison. It was on the Southwestern corner of Vrishabhavati hidden by wild growth and as heavily guarded as the city square. Avishi counted two doors as Vyala carried her inside. From the inside, it did not look as dilapidated as from outside. The guards here were the ‘out-casts’ as the world called them. Unlike the guards of the city, they did not cover themselves with leather torso. Instead they wore loin cloth in various darker shades. Small and big weapons, strings made up of various animal teeth, tusk work and beads made up their ‘jewellery’. To Avishi, it looked atrociously out of proportion. But she also noticed the level of coordination with which the ‘out-casts’ functioned. Like they were trained to fight in an army.

“Untie her.” Vyala instructed Manduka, his forehead revealing wrinkles of dilemma. Manduka was happy to comply. Except for a few scars on his shoulder, the man had an enviable physique. But it was his nose that Avishi felt was the pronounced feature of his face. It was as though it was abruptly turned crooked by his right nostril. She could see that the Outcast Lord made no attempt to hide his displeasure about the predicament she presented him. What worried her more was that she found herself incapable of even walking to the closest stone seat and had to limp leaning on Manduka. The wound seemed deeper than she had imagined it.

“We don’t kill women.” He began and paused noticing her unimpressed glare.

“Is that supposed to impress me? Is that supposed to cover up the other crimes you commit for that monster Khela?”

Vyala shook his head, a resentful smile appearing on his lips, but for only a moment. “Whatever we, the outcasts do would be a crime in the eyes of others…you are?”

“Avishi, the Ganamukhyaa of Ashtagani.”

“But he said that you are a traitor’s...”

Avishi glared back at him showing no inclination to explain. She saw Vyala sit on the stone seat next to where she sat.

“If Khela does not find a proof of your death soon, we would have to incur his wrath! An atrocity against the outcasts would not even be seen as a transgression by anyone.” His lips pursed for a long moment.

Avishi wondered if he expected a solution from her. Something she would have to help him out if she had to escape alive. But before she or Vyala could speak, a sound of heavy anklets was heard. Avishi turned to her right and saw a young woman, not older than seventeen autumns scurry and then clutch at her bulging belly. Her arrival only seemed to increase the gloom on the faces of both the men.

“Brother Vyala, did he not come with you?” Her shrill voice made Avishi think she was even younger than she looked. And impregnated at this age?

“Go back to your room, Majjari.” Vyala hissed.

But Majjari was in no mood to heed her brother’s words. She eyed Avishi, her head tilted to left and brows knitting. Her eyes then brightened.

“So, he sent me a slave!”

“Majjari!”

“Slave, do you know how to groom my hair the way Queens do?” Majjari approached Avishi taking her arm. “And mind you, slaves don’t sit when their mistress stands!”

Avishi had decided that her patience was at its tail end when she saw Vyala hurry and pull Majjari away, making her wince at his grip.

“Listen, you disgrace! Nobody is going to slave for you! Scurry back to your room and dare not show that inauspicious face of yours again!”

Majjari shook his arm away with a hiss. “Wait till I become the Queen, you, worthless dog!” Her tone broke. “I shall make Khela punish you! I bear his prince! Mind you!” The fierce frown stayed on her forehead long after she countered her brother. Avishi saw Manduka intervene and lead Majjari away with endearments that one would use with a toddler.

Vyala’s shoulders slumped.

“You let Khela impregnate your own sister.” Avishi shook her head at Vyala. “Lord Vyala, where do I even begin?”

“You are nobody to judge us Ganamukhyaa. Khela promised us a slow integration with his military if…”

“You loot and kill for him? He gets the spoils hiding behind the dread of Dandaka?”

Vyala’s jaw clenched. “You’ve never been to Dandaka, Ganamukhyaa Avishi. If you did, you would… Why in the name of Mother earth am I even justifying myself to you.” Vyala gathered himself signalling at two other outcast followers. “Take her inside and treat her wound.” Turning to Avishi for a brief moment, he added with a tone of finality. “I shall do my best to not kill you, but I can’t afford Khela’s wrath on my people. Not now, Ganamukhyaa.”

Future still hung in balance. Avishi had to come to terms with the fact that any attempt to escape from here will only complicate things for her. And she truly needed her wound to be tended. The knife that wounded her might have rusted. Tears of frustration threatened to flow out of her eyes. She told herself to bide her time and regain her lost energy.

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About the author


Saiswaroopa Iyer is an IITian and Venture Capital professional turned author. Her debut novel Abhaya, published in 2015, was a tale set in the Mahabharata period, exploring the legend of Narakasura Vadha. She likes to focus and expand on ancient Indian stories with strong female characters.


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Monday, December 4, 2017

Do We Need to Search for Synonyms Always?



It makes me really happy when readers feel they can be part of my story. A long time ago, in a small town named Ranchi, I was sitting with my grandpa and talking about - er- life. He was a scientist whose passion was literature. He told me that we are always looking for complexities in life and most of the time that transpires in our writing too. What's the use of writing all kinds of synonyms when simple words can reach the hearts of the readers? I was puzzled and was sure Sister Mary Jude would not be approving of this talk. Dickens, Shelly, Keats and Bronte would be reduced to ashes if I wrote a simple sentence like -"The sky is blue."

Dadu laughed and said - but the sky is blue. If you want to call it umbrella and a coat of blue, you can. But do you see it as an umbrella? I didn't. I saw the blue sky. So if my sight could convey what I thought, why were the words on my page struggling? 

My aim is always to tell those stories that touches a reader's heart. And even if one-tenth of my readers feel this way - I have succeeded in what I have set to achieve. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

My Writing Journey began with Wrimo India



Do you all know what was the most fun part of Knitted Tales - I never knew I was going to publish it. I suppose that gives a freedom to any author when the pressure of what people will think goes away.

Written during the SAW days in our Wrimo India group, most of us wrote during those days because we wanted to write - just for the sheer pleasure of writing. This year as I complete my Not a Bed of Roses I can't but help remember how this group helped me to hone my skills as a writer. Being criticised is one the toughest thing - and trust me this group of people is not known to butter you up.

Till today writing Knitted Tales was one of the best experience I've had. There was excitement, challenge and most of all - the birthing pain. Hope many new aspiring writers push that button called Sent / Publish in their journey in wrimo. 

Kudos Sonia Rao for showing the path to many writers - this group is one of the best you can join to reach their goal to become a published writer. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Book Review: Beyond Secrets by Alka Dimri Saklani


Name of the Book:  Beyond Secrets
Author: Alka Dimri Saklani
Star Rating: 4 stars 
Goodreads: Read the Blurb here 

There is something about the opening chapter caption of the book ‘Déjà vu’ that simply sucked me into the story. It already set the mood for me to expect the unexpected.

"Finally, when I fell asleep, I had my unpleasant dream again, the acquaintance of my childhood, the trauma of adulthood. I woke up with a jolt."

But till now we have no idea what his childhood was like.

Childhood.

That period of life when everything should be roses and candies. Yet everyone is not that lucky. Reading Ms. Saklani’s book made me feel so privileged that I wanted to run to my mom and dad and just give them a hug.

Noel.. his confusion stems from his past. As past which has its own way of rearing its head. However as much we want to run away from it, we can’t. And here it was just a few shadowy moments that were haunting him. Little did he know that his whole childhood was deep-rooted in those haunting memories.

Sadly when those memories became a reality he loses his childhood forever.

Nidhi.. Her pride hid her hurt. Her story is one which I don’t wish upon anyone. The part with Rahim Chacha is so heart touching that I had to keep the book down before continuing to read. Very well written. Nidhi is haunted by her past too and thus it was inevitable that the two souls meet only to have fate separate them again.

During this period of separation, Noel finds himself and also meets Appu. From there the story takes a different turn and Ms. Saklani has touched a very sensitive topic without creating any melodrama. I liked that about her writing style. Subtle. None of the emotions were too heightened except Noel and Nidhi’s.

I must congratulate the author on her character depiction of Noel, Nidhi, Rahim Chacha and Appu. Each of them leaves their mark in the story. The continuous switching of the POV was interesting enough. Though one thing I did notice was that Beyond Secrets was more of a collection of broken souls. I would have loved it if Sam was made more real rather than just the pages of a dairy. His contribution to Noel’s growth was so immense that I missed not knowing him better. Moreover, his story holds a very strong base to the belief that every child has their own demons to conquer.

    


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Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Blitz: Water Boarding by Bragadeesh Prasanna


Blog Tour by The Book Club: WATER BOARDING by Bragadeesh Prasanna


WATER BOARDING
by
Bragadeesh Prasanna

Blog Tour by The Book Club: WATER BOARDING by Bragadeesh Prasanna


Blurb




As a torture technique, Waterboarding involves the torturer to pour water over the face of the captive, over a damp towel to give a sensation of drowning. While the mind knows that he is not actually drowning, the captive's body sends contrasting signals to the brain making it a very painful experience. 

Ved, who just got out of a life-changing accident finds out that he has blank spaces in his memory. He is unsure about his past and uncertain about his future but goes through with the present with the help of his friend Sara. Sara slowly builds Ved's past, filling him with people and instances he had forgotten.



As Ved struggles with the financial strain caused by his accident and subsequent medical bills and figuring out whom to trust, Ved is forced to live in the moment, which is dark, terrifying and maddening as his past catches up with him. Will he finally know who he was and how his past actions affect his present? 

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About the author

Bragadeesh Prasanna

Bragadeesh Prasanna is a Chennai based writer, who blogs, writes short stories and sometimes lets his stories stretch itself to become a full fledged novel.  His romance novel, 300 days, which released in 2016, received generally positive reviews.  He had also contributed to different short story anthologies like After the Floods (Published by sixth sense publication), From Chennai, with Love (Curated by Chennai Bloggers Club)

When he is not writing or dreaming about writing, he runs a marketing agency in Chennai, which specializes in digital marketing. He loves his scotch and coffee, chicken biriyani, Rose milk and Chennai. You can just type in his full name in Google search bar to reach his blog. No, seriously, try it. 


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