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? 

Grab your copy @


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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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Book Spotlight: BEYOND SECRETS by Alka Dimri Saklani


BEYOND SECRETS
by
Alka Dimri Saklani



Blurb

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.

“Pranil!”

“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?”

“Yeah.”

“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.

“Pranil?”

“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




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13495579-blackout



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!

Buy Links:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13495593-ground-zero




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

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

OTHERNESS: SOULS OF BROWN WOMENOTHERNESS: SOULS OF BROWN WOMEN by De.B. Dubois

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


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



Blurb

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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