Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Hawaiian Healing


As the saying goes, from the frying pan into the fire, Libby's first book was all about from one heartbreak to another. But this book brings about a definite end to the earlier heartbreak.

The first installment of Kayla's story definitely  made me wait for the second book. And yes, I was not at all disappointed. The plot revolves around Kayla and Jay. Best part, it has been kept simple with no unwanted twists and turns. I love happy endings and this book did end on a positive note with a promise of yet another finale.

This sequel is like a true blue Bollywood Romance Movie. I could mentally hear background scores based on the mood of the scene, for example, I could hear drum beats when there were tiffs and violin strings when the mood was sad. Libby' descriptions have the power to evoke loads of imageries. I truly felt I was there while Kayla was snorkelling, exploring the yet to be seen places of the Big Island. Hawaii has been so aptly described that it is as if the reader is on a guided tour there!

The language is simple. Even though this book also has loads of adult content, their descriptions have never been over the top. The story is fast paced and continues from where the previous book stops. Kayla and Jay are like any real life couple. Inspite of being lovey-dovey they have their complexes, fears and issues that are realistic.

To sum up, a heartbreak undoubtedly gets healed here. This book proves that even a simple story with a predictable twist can have an appealing effect.

P.S - Can't wait to see where this Hawaiian sojurn will end. Thanks Libby.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Empty Fists

Empty fists have nothing within them, some say. But for me, they are generally filled with hope. Read an anthology of stories by Mangalam Shiva.

The theme for each story was based on important issues. Each plot is relevant in today's social scenario. Dowry, neglect, abuse, you name it and it was there. A segment was narrated through the eyes of a dog, which is a novel concept. Characters chosen were Indians and could be easily associated with.

Yet, there was something amiss. The author attempts to highlight social issues- great, but narration was a big let down. It got repetitive in some places. The tone of narration was monotonous with the tendency to get misconstrued as advisory rather than story. The choice of words lent an impersonal  touch to it. Also, Chapter numbering or changes in scenes within a story were confusing at times. The concept were good but characters were not very strong to be able to leave a lasting imprint on the readers' mind.

I read once, and took a real long break  before I read it again. Sadly, its impact was the same. I truly wished that the author had tried getting a good editor, maybe then the choice of words and language would have been more appealing. The same stories, had they been translated into Tamil or any other Indian language, would have enhanced narration. I would have given it a three or four stars  but the narration and language usage were a serious letdown. Also, the books I have rated three or four stars are way too superior to this anthology in terms of language and character portrayals. It is definitely unintentional (I am sure no author would knowingly do it) but inspite of the author putting in his best efforts, there are missing elements. I really felt helpless when giving it two stars, but narration was not powerful enough to match up to the issues being highlighted. Not that I possess thorough knowledge of Her Majesty's language, yet, my assessment is on the basis of my understanding only.

To sum up, the anthology is readable at least once, especially for the relevant social themes they address. To reiterate, the themes chosen for each story are powerful, but sadly, the narrative style was bit of a disappointment.

P.S- Being an optimist, I am sure, the next attempt would definitely be way  ahead of this book. As is said, where  there is a will, there is a way. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Wayward Soul



I loved the first book Desert Son and really had very  high expectations as I started reading Wayward Soul. And yes, I was not at all disappointed.

Sometimes, the sequel tends to get monotonous as the writer's style is already known. However, Glenn has succeeded in shattering this myth. This book is not only better, but it successfully takes the earlier story forward. The best part is, even if one reads this book first and book one later, the impact is same.

Martin is back, and that too, with vengeance. For the whys, where, what and hows, you need to read the book because I am not going to be a spoilsport. The narration takes on from where it was left in the previous book.

Reading this book's story was like developing mixed emotions, that of horror, fear, disgust, love, all together. If this book turns into a movie, it will scare the daylights out  of people even during daytime. The imageries are so vibrant that they popped up automatically in my mind. No flowerly language, no use of gory descriptions. The story is powerful inspite of its simple language.

Martin is the perfect antagonist and this time, he has company. Brenda and Carter are charming as usual. In short, Glenn has created a distinct style for all characters in this book. Everyone has a role to play, however miniscule it appears to be.

The best part about this sequel is  the way it addresses certain issues it touched upon in the previous book.Glenn talks of adoption and the impact it has on the psyche of the adopted when he or she gets to know about it. Portrayal of the universal fact  that love can and does conquer it all. How human relations, or rather, specifically parental relations can get hampered due to unknown answers, and how closure to inner  conflicts can heal past wounds. I loved the hidden message, when the going gets tough, meet your troubles head on. Runninng away will serve no purpose. Also, attempting to know more about the unknown does have a  healing effect on an individual.

To sum up, this sequel story is more action packed, with descriptions  being gripping instead of gory. It had all its elements balanced perfectly, so much so that I couldnt stop myself from reading it in one sitting.

P.S- Its an amazing book and an awessome story. Glenn is there a third book in this series???

Desert Son



What started off as a near death experience story, kept me hooked till the very end. Desert Son is one book which was eerie, captivating and full of suspense.

The plot is not very unusual- reincarnations and love triangles. However, the treatment definitely is, and it is the manner in which the storyline has been weaved that convinces its novel concept. Glenn has a way with words. There are breaks in the story with sudden twists and chapter endings. Yet, these add on to the appeal quotient.

The narration is flawless. The descriptions immediately trigger visualizations and imageries. Reading it was like watching a movie inside my head. The story unfolds in a language which can be easily understood by any reader not very familiar with  the language.

As far as the characters  are concerned, well, Carter and Brenda perfectly compliment each other. The story, in fact, unfolds through both of them. The way they find themselves, search for signs and answers together, is like the icing on a festive cake. Besides other characters, Martin is one man you would love to hate.

What I really loved about this book is that it addresses a concept which many find it hard to believe- that of reincarnation. The story would make many a disbeliever question whether it is really possible. The thought of a soul returning back to its family, is something acceptable by people in India. The descriptions regarding out of body near death experiences are so very realistic, similar to those undergone by people in real life.

To sum up, reading about the Desert Son has forced me to grab its sequel. The story is so compelling, I had no choice but to finish it in one single sitting. It is definitely a must read for lovers for supernatural and paranormal writings.

P.S- If you believe in reincarnations, the beliefs will get stronger thanks to this book.

Brian Boru: Freedom Within The Heart



History has always intrigued me and yes, it has never been my stronghold. However,  Mark  Mahon's story about Brian Boru changed my perception regarding this genre.

First things first, I finished the book in one sitting. And I attribute it to the plot. What a story! The plot may appear to be cliched for some, but for me, it opened up a whole new world from an era gone by. It had everything in it to make it an enthralling read. Betrayals, siege, love, patriotism, wars, anger, you name it, it was there. History retold in all its splendour with its grandeur quotient intact!!!

It was Brian Boru's story all the way. It hurts to be treated as second citizen in one's own land and Brian's emotions were no different. His rise from a fearless village kid to a warrior fighter definitely speaks volumes about the feelings a true patriot has. His portrayal depicted the characteristics that a true real-life hero has. As his perfect antagonist, Ivar the Limerick, was one man anybody would love to despise.

Reading the story was  almost like watching a movie in the mental screen. The narration evoked all possible kinds of imageries which appeal to all known senses. The language was emphatic and succeeded in convincing that all that was written were true historical facts. Mark has a great writing style. His choice of words evokes the emotions apt for that particular scene. Besides, the continuous flow and smooth transition between chapters made it easy to comprehend and read.

The story was a wonderful literary journey into that phase of historical past where love for one's country and concern for one's fellow beings topped a man's list. There was hatred and bloodshed, but only against apathetic tyrants. So very unlike modern day's plight where it is becoming difficult to differentiate between a friend and foe. One can never be free if the freedom is not from within. In today's world, there is not a sinngle person  who is free inside; there is always a deep-rooted fear of something or the other. What irony!! People like Brian Boru tried teaching us about Freedom from within, and modern man talkks of fear from within.

To sum up, this book made me fall in love with history. It made me realize that each country has a plethora of stories to offer with regards to its past. Reading this book has created an interest to seek stories about heros like Brian Boru.

P.S- An amazing book that will make you want to read more of its kind. Great writing Mark!!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Recrimination: Author Mangalam Shiva


After the doctor left the room, Dinesh opened his eyes and slowly talked to his parents.


“Mummy, Daddy, It is terribly painful. My whole body is paining. I do not know how long I have to bear this torture. I know I have only a few hours to live. I am not blaming you both. But I have to tell this to you. Where were you both in the years when I was growing up? What have you achieved by amassing crores of cash, jewels, landed properties, and curios etc.? You did not devote any time for me when I was growing. I was longing for your company, for your affection, for playing with you. But I was left alone by you to take care of myself. I never demanded anything from you. I never asked for any costly gadgets or dresses etc. I never threw any tantrums on anything. I just wanted to study well and get a seat in medical field. Even that is worthless ambition now. After I leave, what are you going to do with all this wealth you have amassed legally and illegally? Daddy, I know many things about how you got the money.

Daddy, Mummy, please do not get dejected in life after I depart. I am not giving any advices to you. Please stop taking all the illegal cash rewards from people for the favors you do to them, enough is enough. Can all this money and wealth get back my life after my death? Then what is the value for these assets? Have you both enjoyed this wealth? Did I enjoy the wealth? May be, we are being punished for taking illegal money from people, however hard you may try to justify this.

Daddy, please do not leave politics out of disgust or misery, continue being the finance minister. I read in TV channels and in newspapers that you are doing a fantastic job for the state as Finance minister. Common people are happy having benefited immensely by your schemes and facilities. Industries are flourishing in our state because of your constructive, growth oriented policies. When you do any favors to your party men, to common people or to any industries, do not ask for money as reward. If possible, donate the wealth you already have, to some charitable institutes. Better still, you can build one T.B. hospital with ultra modern facilities, giving free treatment to deserving TB patients. There are lakhs of young children having TB in the initial stages, without their knowledge. You can arrange mobile campaigns in the state for identifying TB patients early and treat them in your hospital.

This is the last and the only wish I ask from you both. Will you do this?”

About The Author

Mangalam Shiva has published his book of short stories "EMPTY FISTS". 


The Author is a retired Marketing Professional having worked in well known public limited companies in India. After retirement he has taken to writing short stories with themes focusing on social injustices in India against Women & Children. Using his imagination and experience he has created situations & characters to portray in the stories. The stories are very emotional & poignant having attracted powerful comments from the readers.

He has a great passion for photography, listening to ghazals and reading fictions by authors like Robert Ludlum, Robin Cook, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, David Baldacci and many more. He has read about 250 books so far. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Corruption of Power: An Excerpt

With the careful gait of the elderly, the shabbily dressed old woman wove a slow path through the gravestones of the Botkinskoe cemetery.  Emerging from the scant shelter of its trees, she reached the steps of the Russian Orthodox Church and stopped for a while in a patch of shade. It was a sweltering day, well over 40C. Only the misguided devout would be in church today. She rummaged in her shopping trolley and, taking out a bottle of water and a tin cup, poured a splattering. As she sipped, her hunter's eyes surveyed the graveyard.

Taking out a black cotton veil, she draped it neatly over her head. Then holding onto the stone banister, she dragged herself and her trolley up the steps, past a pair of tall icons and into the church. A sprinkling of elderly pensioners, deep in their private prayers, teetered around the nave, where wafts of incense permeated the air. Shuffling across the stone floor, she stood before the iconostasis and extracted a rosary from her pocket. Running the beads through her fingers, her lips began to move.

A few moments later, the priest in attendance spotted her and inclined his head almost imperceptibly. A broad-shouldered man with a thick greying beard and an ornate crucifix dangling from a chain, he approached each worshipper in turn and whispered his message. Gradually the church emptied. When the last one had gone, the priest locked the carved wooden door.

"OK, Nadia, we're alone now," he told the old woman. "I wasn't expecting to see you so soon. What can I do for you?"

She handed him a list and waited in silence while he scanned through it.

"Remind me, which Makarov do you use?"

"The PMM."

"Pointed or flat bullets."

"Pointed."

The priest grabbed the handle of her trolley and wheeled it towards the sacristy. "This'll take about an hour," he said over his shoulder. "Come through. Have a cup of tea while I put it all together."

About The Book

Independent troubleshooter, Alex Leksin, is recruited by Prime Minister Saidov when the plan to reduce Russia’s reliance on an ever more hostile Europe is put at risk. Hell bent on expansion, President Karpev’s strategy is first to shift the markets for his country’s vast energy resources to the East and Saidov has been charged with overseeing a planned pipeline for Russia’s oil through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan to access these markets. Failure could mean catastrophe, spreading the conflict raging in the Middle East to Russia’s own borders.

Fearful that the pipeline deal might be tilting off course, Leksin has only twelve days to report back before Karpev is due to sign the pipeline contract with the Turkmen President in Ashgabat.

His investigation begins in Moscow at the conglomerate responsible for planning and funding the pipeline. Once the province of larger-than-life oligarch, Lev Usenko, the group is now run by his daughter, Vika, the woman Leksin was once to marry. Trickier still is the prospect of dealing with her embittered brother, Max.

Against a background of political corruption, state-sponsored terrorism and increased Taliban insurgency, Leksin moves on to Turkmenistan, one of the world's most sinister countries, right at the heart of Central Asia. Initially his enquiries reveal nothing to cause alarm. Other factors, though, suggest otherwise: wherever Leksin goes, someone tries to kill him; people in a position to help him are assassinated; and information turns out to be misinformation.

And when at last he discovers the truth, he finds himself unsure of whom he can trust as the stakes get frighteningly higher.

About The Author

George Eccles, writing as G W Eccles, graduated from the London School of Economics with a law degree and subsequently became a partner in one of the major international financial advisory firms.

In 1994, George left London to move to Russia and Central Asia during the tumultuous period that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. His work involved extensive travel throughout Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - often to places with restricted access to foreigners. During his time there, he advised a number of real-life oligarchs how best to take advantage of the opportunities that became available as regulation crumbled and government became increasingly corrupt. Against this background, while his novels are fiction, many of the anecdotes and scenes are inspired by actual events.

His first thriller: The Oligarch, was awarded a Silver Medal both at the Global E-book Awards 2013 and at the Independent Publishers Book Awards 2013, as well as being selected as IPPY Book of the Day.

George is married and now lives with his wife in a hilltop village not far from Cannes in the South of France.

LINKS TO AUTHOR

WHERE TO BUY


















Thursday, 10 December 2015

Michael's Mystery


Michael's Mystery is a story that transports the readers into a realm of fantasy. But yes, with me not being a die-hard adult fantasy fiction reader, it took me two readings to get a grasp of what was going on.

The concept of a Dragon and a Sprite getting together is really nice. But yes, the descriptions were a bit complicated in the beginning for me to understand. Once I got a hang of it, the plot had a smooth flow throughout.

The book has lot of adult content and hence is out of reach of teens and pre-teens. Lindze is great at conjuring vivid imagieries.If the detailed descriptions of erotica could have been avoided, the appeal and reach of the book would have increased.

Michael and Andesine, the two protagonists have a strong presence throughout the story. In fact, all characters, big or small, have a substantial role to play with relevance to the plot.

To sum up, the book is likeable and deserves one reading.

P.S- Lindze, if the adult content could be done away with, this book would win the hearts of kids and everybody alike; it has everything otherwise for a universal appeal.

Michael's Mystery: Spotlight


It was time for the Lords of the High Council to step in when the Grandmaster of Kryane is accused of murdering his own people. They had little choice but to prevent the collapse of the whole magicians order, so they sent Michael to investigate the allegations.

The people of the desert planet were an enigma, but none more than Andesine, the healer assigned to assist Michael. Why did she report the Grandmaster? Was she involved, or was there something more sinister going on?
The more people they interrogated the more they suspected that nothing was as it seemed. Not the murders, nor the Grandmasters' motive as everyone thought.

Unable to resist the growing attraction between them, Michael and Andesine learn that they had to trust each other with their own secrets, and risking any future they might have.

Time and again the High Lords had to step in to prevent chaos on Kryane, but time was running out for Michael and Andesine. They had to get a new Grandmaster in place before the Kryane Order collapsed completely. And they had to find the who the true culprit was.

Fortunate to escape an attack from this monster once, they were risking the lives of many others in the process. Before the High Lords could formulate a plan, Michael and Andesine were captured, leaving the High Lords helpless to prevent it.

Kidnapped and imprisoned, Andesine was confronted with the realisation that if they were to survive their ordeal, it was up to her and her long suppressed powers. But as a healer she saved lives, would she be able to destroy the monster before he forces her to unleash her power to destroy the future of mankind?

About the Author:
Teaching herself to read before she went to school, it was the start of her life long love affair with books. Trained as an engineer, Linzé has worked as an export consultant and is presently a project manager. Although she still loves to read, she also enjoys counted stitch embroidery, archery, tai chi, fly fishing, painting, her husband's medal winning photographs and watching Manchester United play.

She counts both novels and short stories to her publishing credit. Her fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian, is planned for publication early in 2016. Her story, The Vernal Equinox, was a finalist in a sci-fi flash-fiction competition in 2015.

Linzé Brandon lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her engineer husband and German Shepherds who are convinced that the world revolves only around them.

Follow Linzé Online:



Check Out the other Tour Stops:
   

An End To The Thrill


Read the book in one sitting. Its all of 52 pages in total and has nine short stories. Hence, perfect for a quick read.

The best part is that all the stories had a different theme with no interlinks. The plots were truly well thought of. It had everything that a sci-fi anthology could have- time travel, outer space, virus, you name it and they were there.

Varun has a quirky sense of humour. His endings are sudden so as to keep up the suspense. However, a few stories had a predictable ending. Wish there were more stories!!! Notwithstanding that, the stories are worth reading. Besides, the language is simple to understand. The narrative has a good flow, except in few stories where it gave away the ending in the middle. The use of personalization in the narrative is appreciable.

Each story has distinct characters. Some have a dark side, some mean, some intelligent. In short, each character has his or her own style. Great job on that Varun. Your characters were a real treat. I hope I don't get to meet people like a few of them in real life!!!

To sum up, the stories were kept short and sweet. Again, few more stories would have helped cover up for mistakes. Had to reduce two stars because of predictable endings. In a very short anthology, predictability acts as an expensive spoiler.

P.S- I am sure the next anthology would be a winner from the beginning, without any glitches. 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Shanti And The Magic Mandala

 

There are times when you read a book and it involves you from the very start. Shanti and the Magic Mandala was a similar experience for me.

The book deals with the poignant story of Shanti and her friends. Yes, it may sound childish, but every reading helps develop a different perspective. And I am glad to say I read it twice. In fact, once for myself and second time for my kids. The story is about the quest for the Magic Mandala by six kids. The how and why can be better appreciated when you read it. Hence, even a summary will not do the requred justice to the essence of the book.

This book is a winner. It has already won many awards and accolades. Rightly so, because, the narrative is gripping, continues with no sudden breaks, with each chapter being connected well. The language is simple yet powerful and has the ability to ensure continued attention. Besides, it can be read by the old and the young alike, hence has mass appeal.

What should I say about the characters!!! Its a great concept to have six individuals from six different religions and completely different background join together for a common cause. With the increasing air of religious intolerance, this concept is like  living in utopia. Hats off to Camargo for an awesome theme. Coming to the characters themselves, be it Shanti, Itai, Helena, Antonio, Nasir and Tadao, each one has been well etched with a distinct personality and regional flavour. Even the antagonists have a set characterization that is worth appreciating.

It is a known, but less remembered fact that all religions are different roads leading to the same God. Also, all religions share a common language- language of peace. If only humans understood this fully, there would be no wars, no contempt, no hatred.

To sum up, this book deserves more than one reading. Read it like a child, an adult or an elderly, each role play brings about an entirely different perspective.

P.S - Thank you BookR3vi3w tours for a free copy in exchange of an honest opinion.

Shanti And The Magic Mandala: An Excerpt

 Shanti was the first to smell the smoke. She paused in her frantic packing. “Do you smell something burning?”

“Yes, I do,” Lelê said, worried.

It was getting noticeably hotter in the room. “Look, there’s smoke coming in under the door!” Antônio cried. Black smoke was slowly seeping beneath the door and into the room. Lelê ran to the window.

“The door won’t open,” Shanti said, struggling with the lock.

“Neither will the window.” Lelê was close to tears.

“Let me try, Shanti.” Antônio grasped the doorknob, applying his strength to it. Even as he fought with the lock, the smoke and the heat were rising.”

“They did it. We're stuck in here,” Helena said, coughing.

Antônio hammered on the wall. “Nasir! Itai! Tadao! Help us!”

“They want to kill us,” Lelê cried, shaking with fear.

Looking intently at Helena, her voice ringing with determination, Shanti declared, “But we’re not going to let them succeed!”

“Get away from the door,” Antônio said, kicking at it.

Hearing Antônio's call for help, Nasir and Itai had rushed to the door, only to find it locked. Tadao tried the window. “It won’t open,” he said, fearful. “The window's locked.”

“We can’t get out. What’s happening?” Nasir said, with an edge of panic.

“It’s black magic,” Itai said, trying to help Nasir break down the door.

Just then, an image of the book came into his mind. He ran over to his backpack, still on top of his bed and upended it shaking everything out.

Suddenly there was a loud noise, like an explosion — the door swung open. Flames and gouts of heavy, black smoke poured into the room. The whole hallway was on fire.

Tadao pushed at the window again, but it defied his efforts to open it.

Itai reached for his book. It was illuminated once again. He stood up and held the book with both hands, opening it. A bright light shone forth from the page it had opened on and he saw another name, formed with three Hebrew letters. Seitel, another of the 72 names of God. Itai knew that the Angel Seitel was able to create a protective shield. He closed his eyes, forming an urgent prayer, reaching out to connect with the angel, shutting out the mayhem around him for a few moments. Opening his eyes he gazed at the three letters from right to left for a few more precious seconds. Then he closed the book, replaced everything else in the backpack and hoisted it on his back. He picked up the book, holding it in his right hand. “Grab your backpacks and follow me.”

Nasir stared at him with an expression that clearly showed concern for his sanity “Itai?”

“Follow me,” Itai repeated with certainty.

“What? What do you mean?” Tadao almost shouted.

Nasir took his backpack and positioned himself behind Itai. “May Allah protect us!”

Watching Nasir, Tadao did the same. Itai took the closed book in both hands, pointing it towards the fire, as they approached the door. The book emitted an increasingly intense light. Gradually, a large shield began to form, surrounding the three boys.

“Wow! It's a light vehicle, a merkaba!” Nasir said, reverently, his gaze locked on the intense white light of the forming shield.

“Incredible!” Tadao said, forming his own silent prayer, Thank you, Lord Buddha.

Steadfastly Itai moved towards the door now engulfed by large flames. He advanced out of the room, into the hallway, the light shield in front of him, and as he moved, he created a clear path, the shield pushing away the flames, heat and smoke. He stopped in front of Shanti’s bedroom door. The wood was charred and blackened and the ancient lock had popped free, leaving the door swinging brokenly. Their friends had crowded at the back of the room, near the window, trying to get away from the thick, choking smoke. “Grab your backpacks! Get behind Nasir and Tadao!” Itai shouted.

“We’re coming!” Antônio said, grabbing his backpack and walking swiftly towards the door.

Lord Ganesha, please open those paths, Shanti prayed, putting all of her faith into the prayer.

Within moments, the three were in place. The light shield began to grow sideways, eventually forming a large cube of light, protecting all of them. They crossed the hall, safe from the flames. As they went down the stairs, they heard the roof collapsing behind them. The reception area had been completely destroyed by fire, but again they passed through the devastation completely shielded from the heat and flames. They reached the door leading to the outside. Itai wasted no time in pulling it open and they poured out of the burning building.

As soon as the last one of them stepped onto the street, the old pension began to collapse, turning into a huge bonfire.

About the Book:
Shanti and the Magic Mandala is an adventure in which fantasy and reality are mingled. The book tells the story of six teenagers, from different religious and cultural origins and different parts of the world, who are mystically recruited to form two groups - one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern. They eventually gather in Peru, and through a single alliance, begin a frantic chase for the sacred object that can stop the black magician's final plan.


About the Author:
F. T. Camargo is an Italian Brazilian living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An award winning architect and author, he also studied Arts and Media and has a post degree in Economics and MBA in e-commerce. He is a vegetarian because of his love for all animals and has been deeply involved in causes for their protection and freedom. He is a world traveler adventurer, outdoor sports lover, speaks 4 languages and has published a travel book “Rio, Maravilha!”
For many years he has been practicing yoga and meditation and studying the Kabbalah. His exploration of spiritual teachings motivated a commitment to self-development which in turn created a new path and goal in life. Shanti and the Magic Mandala was born from his inner journey.


Contact the Author:


Awards & Recognition for the Book:
- Winner of 2014 London Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards: Bronze Medal at “Young Adult Fiction – Spirituality” category
- 2014 New England Book Festival in Boston:  Honorable Mention in the category “Young Adult”.
- Winner of 2015 Paris Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
- Winner of 2015 International Book Awards in the category “Fiction / Young Adult”.
- Winner of 2015 New York Book Festival in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2015 Los Angeles Book Festival – Runner-up in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2015 San Francisco Book Festival – Runner-up in the category “Young Adult”.
- 2015 DIY Book Festival in Los Angeles: Honorable Mention in the category “Young Adult”.


Check out the Cover Reveal Event



   

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Serendipity: Mangalam Shiva








We read a book titled Empty Fists. Here is our rendezvous with the author Mr Mangalam Shiva...


GR: What description will fit you in real life? 
MS:   I, Shivkumar have risen in my life from a humble beginning. After
graduation from Bombay University, I started my career as a Quality Control Inspector. With dedication and hard work I entered Marketing field as a Sales Executive and over the years rose to the level of Vice President (Sales) with M/S. Cello Thermoware Ltd, Mumbai and retired.

As an Idealist, I expect and wish for Peace, Tolerance, Honesty, Hard work, Intelligence, and Happiness to prevail among all human beings.

After working as a Marketing professional in Mumbai, India for forty years, author Mangalam Shiva finally took up the pen. A keen observer of life, the author has been following the myriad incidences of social injustices, inequalities, corruption and abuse of power that India has been beset with and its impact on the common man. Unable to initiate direct action in rectifying these social evils, he hopes to create awareness through his short stories. By touching a chord with the readers, somewhere a life may change for the better.

GR:  How does it feel to be a published author/writer? What are  your preferred genres?
MS:  The feeling is great that my creation of ideas, thoughts, and feelings have come out in the form of a book which is shared with several readers. My preferred genres are Fictions and Anthologies. The high point in writing the stories is the flow of ideas in my mind and heart. I have happiness in living with my characters in the stories and feeling as they do. The low point is the slow process of copy editing of my work. The eagerness to ensure that there are no mistakes in the book created tension in me. Fictions and Anthologies keep my attention, interest and concentration while reading.

GR: What does your writing place look like? 
MS:  The writing place is my cozy nest which ensures peace, silence and the right environment for thinking and writing.  The study room has one P.C., a Laptop, a desk, writing instruments etc. The P.C. has speakers on either side for listening to Old Hindi songs, Ghazals while working on the key board of the P.C.

GR: Which fictional character created by you is closest to your heart? Why? 
MS: In one of my stories in the book EMPTY FISTS, the character Mala in the story “STIGMA” is very close to my heart. Here is a young, honest, hard working Good human having a happy married life. She is doing a good job in her work. But fate intervenes suddenly to shatter her life as she was molested by some human animals. She fights against her physical trauma but gets sucked into mental torture by her husband and his parents.

She does not buckle down to the stigma attached to her but fights boldly against all odds to succeed in her new life. As she prospers in her new life, she involves herself in helping other unfortunate women and orphaned children by financial and physical participation. I respect her feelings and bold approach in the story.

GR: What, according to you, are your strengths and weaknesses as an author?
MS:  Positive traits---  Ideas emerging in my mind and heart are emotional, thought provoking and convey moral values which are becoming rare in our society. The language and style in the stories are simple which can be easily understood and appreciated by all types of readers irrespective of age, sex, gender, religion and taste.

Negative traits—I am very poor in marketing my book which is absolutely a new field for me.

Product Details
GR: Describe your latest book. Where can we buy it? 
MS:  My book EMPTY FISTS is an anthology of 17 short stories. Nine of the stories highlight the daring deeds of Raju the intelligent stray dog who saves some innocent children and some gullible adults from calamities.  My idea of letting Raju to think and feel sad about the various atrocities committed by humans is a novel concept well appreciated by all the readers. My book is available at notionpress.com, Amazon.com/Amazon.in/Flipkart/Kindle.

GR: Who and/or What inspires you the most? Why?
MS: The realities of life in India inspire me the most. When I see various types of atrocities against women/children/weaker sections of people, corruption in the political and administrative sections, callousness among the privileged society, indiscipline, dishonesty give me the ideas for my stories.

GR: What all do you do when you are not writing?
MS: When I am not writing, I involve myself in reading fictions, watching news in TV channels, listening to Old Hindi film songs, Ghazals by gifted artists, keeping track of sports activities, walking and helping my wife in shopping.

GR:  Which writing project are you currently working on?
MS:  I have written more stories for my second book, with different themes and ideas.

Blurb— Rajesh Kumar, great exponent of Urdu Ghazals was keeping the huge crowd in Royal Albert Hall, enthralled with his performance. When he concluded his session the entire audience rose on their feet and gave him a standing ovation for at least ten minutes. Many in the audience had tears in their eyes after listening to his soul searching Ghazals.

Rajesh was delighted that he has reached the pinnacle of his singing career after the concert in Royal Albert Hall. The Destiny laughed at his arrogance and vanity as it has started playing its cruel games in his life----

GR:  If you could rewrite one Fiction/NonFiction written by another author, which would it be and why?
MS: I have read many fictions by authors like Robert Ludlum, Robin Cook, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer, Fredrick Forsyth, Harold Robins, Jackie Collins, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, David Baldacci and many others.

They are all Master story tellers. I am not at all competent to even to think of rewriting any of their master pieces. It will be an insult from me for these giants. Allow me to pass this question.

GR: Thank you for your time.
MS: Thank you for giving me an occasion to answer all of your questions.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Serendipity: FT Camargo






Authors have the power to inspire and motivate. It is with pleasure that we bring to you our rendezvous with an award-winning author of Shanti and The Magic Mandal, FT Camargo.


GR:  You are an architect, travel writer and awards winner.What description will fit you in real life? 
FTC:  I’m an Italian Brazilian living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I’m an architect and also I have studied Arts and Media. I’m a vegetarian because of my love for all animals and I have been involved in causes for their protection and freedom. I really love to travel to different places with different cultures and I love out doors sports. I have also published a travel book – Rio Maravilha that means Wonderful Rio in English. For many years I have practicing yoga and meditation and study the kabbalah. I think my exploration of spiritual teachings motivated a commitment to self-development which in turn created a new path and goal in my life. I’m positive that Shanti and the Magic Mandala was born from this inner journey

GR:  How does it feel to be a published author? What are your preferred genres?
FTC:  I have always dreamed of becoming a writer. Over the past 4 years while doing meditation I have asked for a new direction in my life and I had an insight during meditation that I could share my experiences through writing.

As a young boy up till now I've always enjoyed reading fantasy and adventure books and I was a fan of Tintin, the French adventurer boy. Also a fan of Julius Verne, and mysteries and thrillers like Agatha Christie. Bringing all these memories to the present, I wanted to write an exciting adventure and fantasy book for young readers, which could also bring important concepts into the story, such as spirituality, compassion, human rights, animal protection. All these things mean a great deal to me. I was an architect and that also helped me write my book, for example, the way I can see and analyze the environment around the world.

GR:  That sounds interesting. What does your writing place look like in that case?
FTC:  I have been, basically, using two different locations where I mostly prefer to write: My favorite beautiful farm with great natural reserves and lots of wild animals, in a very comfortable house with large porches and a beautiful landscape surrounding. I sit at the porch gazing at view and the exotic birds flying. It inspires me a lot because the birds flying connect me to freedom.

GR: Which fictional character created by you is closest to your heart and why?
FTC:  I think all the characters bring something from my personality. One character, for example Antonio, is similar to me: He loves animals, vegetarian, half Italian-Brazilian, St. Francis devotee and an adventurer. Shanti is very honest and very connected to the dogs… honesty is one of the qualities I value most. Another character, Itai, is a shy boy, a little chubby… I was like that a period of my life.

GR: What, according to you, are your strengths and weaknesses as an author? 
FTC: One of my major strengths is that I enjoy so much writing because while in the process I travel in my own story, as if I’m a character from the book participating in all the adventures. For me the whole process of writing is fantastic because it disconnects me from real life, which pleases me a lot.

I think inspiration and creativity are not rational processes… They are something that we can reach once we are connected to a higher level of consciousness. I usually become more creative after my spiritual and meditation practices.

Sometimes it’s difficult to write, the fear of not being inspired at that moment makes the creative process disappear…. But we always have to face our fears, our shadows, because the Light is always behind that, so I think we must get out of the comfort zone, we must be constantly and permanently involved in our work, and afterwards the Light will appear.

Product Details

GR:  Describe your latest book. Where can we buy it? 
FTC:  Shanti and the Magic Mandala is a YA multicultural adventure in which fantasy and reality are mingled. The book tells the story of six teenagers, from different religious and cultural origins and different parts of the world, who are mystically recruited to form two groups - one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern.

They eventually gather in Peru, and through a single alliance, begin a frantic chase for the sacred object that can stop the black magician's final plan...

The book has gotten already 10 awards worldwide and has been sold in more then 18 countries, in paperback and e-book. You can check many places in my website ftcamargo.com . You can find, for example, in Amazon India.

GR:   Who and/or What inspires you the most? Why?
FTC:  I have always had the dream of being a writer. I had been asking for a new goal in my life for more than seven years through my meditation and spiritual practices. One day I had an insight to write a book in which I could express myself and also share my experiences…

Since I was a child, I liked very much to read stories, like fantasy stories, also adventure books and I was a fan of the cartoon Tintin, the French adventurer boy, fan of Julius Verne, and also mysteries and thrillers like Agata Christie. Bringing all these memories to these days, I wished to write for young readers, writing an interesting book, like an adventure book, a fantasy book, and which could also bring some important things, such as spiritual aspects, compassion, tolerance, human rights, animal protection, and all these things.

GR:  What all do you do when you are not writing?
FTC: I love animals, adventure travels, cycling, running, horse riding, trekking, reading and cooking

GR:  Which writing project are you currently working on? 
FTC:  I have already finished the research for the second book of  Shanti’s series. I have traveled to many countries in Asia for it.

GR:  If you could re-write one Fiction/Non-Fiction written by another author, which would it be and why?
FTC: By Jules Verne, “Around the World in Eighty Days”, because it’s one of my favorite books from my childhood.

GR:  Thank you so much for chatting with us.

The author is a winner of several awards. Do look out for our review coming shortly!!!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Serendipity: Madhu Vajpayee

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But we met a Doctor whose writing made us want to read more of her work. Meet Madhu Vajpayee, author of Seeking Redemption, who writes stories and not just prescriptions!!!

GR: What description will fit you in real life?
MV: Dr. Madhu Vajpayee- the writer was born somewhere in those hospital corridors where she has spent the last two decades of her life. Witnessing life at such close quarters pushed her to capture its enigma in her words and slowly it became her passion. After writing several scientific papers and chapters in books, this book is her second journey in literary world, the first being SEEKING REDEMPTION.

Having done her graduation, MBBS from King Georges Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow she went ahead to pursue her post-graduation, MD from AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a consultant at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and was associated with management of patients living with HIV/AIDS. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia with her family, where she is devoting most of her time to writing, the passion that she couldn’t pursue earlier because of the demands of medical profession and commitment it requires.

When not creating stories, Madhu enjoys reading and travelling.

GR: How does it feel to be a published author/writer? What are your preferred genres?
MV: I feel very blessed to be able to pursue two careers in one life. If being a doctor was a professional satisfaction, being a published author is a dream come true.  I don’t know exactly when but over the years, writing slowly became my best friend. From early childhood, the wonderful habit of reading that was inculcated by my father gradually turned into writing expeditions. What I couldn’t say in words or express myself in its wholeness would find its way to paper and thus began my journey as a writer from an early age. My romance with words would transcend me to the amazing world of ideas, make believe stories and ways to assuage my pain and anxiety. It would give wings to my thoughts which would soar to unimaginable heights and with them, would also soar my spirits at least, for the time being. Being in medical profession and having a soul of a writer, it was not always possible for me to remain untouched by the happenings that affected the lives of my patients.  Somehow I used to get affected by every ups and downs of their lives. I worked with patients living with HIV/AIDS and it was indeed a great learning experience. I learnt from them to not to give up in life and to flow with the current of life. And the same spirit always reflect in my writings.

Love is an essence of our existence and that remains the central theme of my writing. Although I started writing with social drama but love is inherently ingrained in the plots. Love is not only the anticipation, happiness, dream but it’s also the pain, vulnerabilities, suffering and loss. In my books, I try to capture the different shades of love in all its hues and colors. And either it may be a pure love story or it can be a drama where central characters are thrown into a conflict (social, ethical, cultural, religious) that also have power to affect their love life.

I hope to continue my journey into the writing world. A world which is not always very kind. You might not get noticed, you might not get due recognition, you might be rejected, you might have to endure long waits, you might have to face an uncertain future, you might have to face oblivion for this is a journey into the unknown. There is no set rules. There is no formula for success. But in the end, it’s all worth it for your love of writing, your power to express your deepest emotions, your strength to share your vulnerabilities and your courage to show your creativity exceeds any potential hurdle or impediments.

GR: What does your writing place look like? 
MV: My favorite place is my study that is located in the upper floor of my home. From here, I get the most beautiful view of the picturesque Melbourne that helps me to relax and write. I am not very particular about the personal comfort and other things as my creative instinct doesn’t depend so much upon surrounding as much they depend on my mood. If I am in mood, I can write anywhere.

GR:  Which fictional character created by you is closest to your heart? Why?
MV: The heroine of my book Seeking Redemption, Meera was born in those very corridors of hospital where I spent best parts of my life. She is closest to my heart. Although the story of her journey, specific events of her life, problems faced by her was not exactly mine but her principles, belief and faith are mine. I saw myself in her dilemmas, in her pain, in her loss, in her triumph against her own demons.

GR: What, according to you, are your strengths and weaknesses as an author/ writer?
MV:  I tend to think from my heart and perhaps that’s my biggest strength as a fiction writer. I can feel the emotions that my character is going through and try to portray them in my writings.  In fact that makes it easier for me to deal with romance genre which is generally overloaded with emotions. And inability to deal with action sequences like fighting etc. is my biggest weakness. Mostly I avoid writing any action sequence but sometimes, it’s almost unavoidable and there comes my limitation.

GR: Describe your latest book. Where can we buy it?
MV:  Seeking Redemption is a story of every youth of the country who is trying to win a losing battle in backdrop of caste based reservation and corruption prevalent in education and medical sector. It’s their effort to seek redemption from the curse that is eating away the inner fabric of such a beautiful country. The story revolves around the three main characters. There are Meera and Aman who are deeply in love and who unwittingly found themselves pitted against the system. Justice eluded her as well as Aman in their struggle for achieving the life they dreamt, the life they deserved. But, ironically while Meera rises in such difficult times, Aman falls. She tries to help him in spite of her own dilemmas but he misunderstands her. And there is Abhay, the other man in her life, a friend but who secretly loves her and gives her unconditional support through all her ups and downs.

1. Amazon India
2. Flipkart

 GR:  Who and/or What inspires you the most? Why? 
MV:  My elder brother, Vipin who suffered from cerebral palsy and unfortunately who is no more in this world. From him, I learnt how to never to give up in life. He inspired me to give your best whatever may be your limitations. He inspired me to laugh in adversities, spring back after defeats and maintain equanimity in success and failure. And also perhaps for the same reasons, patients living with HIV/AIDS with whom I had opportunity to work. In spite of their illness and not so bright prognosis, these people have amazing zeal, unlimited hope and tenacity. I always got inspired by their optimism and the never say die attitude towards the life.

 GR: What all do you do when you are not writing? 
MV:  I read a lot. I am a voracious reader. In a way, I have learnt so much by reading galaxy of different authors. It was a pure bliss to read some of the books that later became my inspiration to write. These are the books that you want to read again and again. Some of the portions from the books remain etched in your mind forever. In a way, they not only challenges your conscience but also forces you to create your own story.  Besides that, I love travelling and seeing the world if time and conditions permit.

GR: Which writing project are you currently working on?
MV:  The title of the project is I OWE YOU ONE.

Blurb: Dev Khanna is a dynamic young man in his late twenties thriving on his life as an immigrant.   He adores his tranquil suburban life with his beautiful wife Radhika and an infant son Neel in Melbourne after migrating from New Delhi five years ago. This is until he receives an unexpected letter from a woman named Saira from India which forces him to travel to country of his birth.  He had vowed never to return but as it is said some promises are meant to be broken. He has to go back to India to return a favor  to Saira who strangely enough is the same woman who was the cause of his predicament while he was living in India and incidentally also a reason for his decision to not to stay in India. However she is the only one because of whom Dev was able to ensure his mother died with a smile on her lips. He, is indebted to her for this and now he has to return the favor.  The test is tough as Saira’s daughter is missing during the communal flare up in Moradabad. There is no breakthrough in the case and Dev has to help Saira in finding her. But the ethics imbibed in him by his mother are tougher and he soars through all that comes his way to reach his destination. The story spanning across eight sections traverses from India to Australia and then back to India again as Dev returns to fulfil his promise in the city that has been ravaged by communal violence.  In the process, not only he has to deal with the dark realities of life, the pain, the fear, the agony and death of people who are unwittingly entrapped in such difficult situation but also has to risk his own life in his search of the missing girl.

Will he be able to find answers to those questions that keep haunting him about his quest? Will he be able to save his marriage that is tested beyond Radhika’s love and endurance? Will he be able to find the missing girl? Will he be able to return the favor he owes to Saira in a situation where it’s just impossible to survive?

Besides touching the sensitive issue of communalism arising from social milieu of Hindu-Muslim in India, the story touches the depth of emotions of its characters.  It elucidates the complex nature of human relationships in backdrop of challenges that promise to test every ounce of their patience.

GR: If you could re-write one Fiction/Non-Fiction written by another author, which would it be and why?
MV:  And the mountain echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

I have read The Kite Runner, the first book by the same author. It is a fine, vivid book, a touching and at times haunting fable about the agony of Afghanistan. I was expecting the same magic by the great story teller but somehow I was disappointed by its busy and crowded canvas. At times, it was difficult to follow the winding and turning course of the story. The flat dialogues and clumsy narrative fail to keep you hooked to the book. As compared to The Kite Runner, it’s not at all evocative and in fact a tedious read.

GR:  Thank you Madhu for a candid chat with us.

We loved to feature her book as Spotlight. We also did a Review. Do check them out.

Spotlight: Seeking Redemption


Book Blurb:

Story of a girl Meera, who is unwittingly drawn into a conflict from where she finds it difficult to emerge unscathed. It's her journey from being a simple, medical graduate bfelonging to a middle class family to the uncharted territories of corruption and caste based politics. Her path is crossed by the two men, both compelling yet completely contrasting characters, who are forever going to change her life. If it is Aman who can challenge her ideals and defy her resolves, and makes her the person she finally becomes, it is Abhay's sublime love which enables her to go through the vicissitudes of life. It's also the story of her loss as well as triumph against her own demons to find her true self.

Buy a Copy from Amazon

About the Author:
Dr.Madhu Vajpayee- the writer was born somewhere in those hospital corridors where she has spent the last two decades of her life. Witnessing life at such close quarters pushed her to capture its enigma in her words and slowly it became her passion. After writing several scientific papers and chapters in books, this book is her first step in literary world.  
Having done her graduation, MBBS from King Georges Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow she went ahead to pursue her post-graduation, MD from AIIMS, New Delhi. She was a consultant at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi having been associated with management of patients living with HIV/AIDS. She is now settled in Melbourne, Australia with her family, where she is devoting most of her time to writing, the passion that she couldn’t pursue earlier because of the demands of medical profession and commitment it requires.
When not creating stories, Madhu enjoys reading and travelling.

Reviews for the Book:

It was a perfect book and can motivate one. ~ Nidhi Author on Goodreads

Wonder full book.Clearly highlights the current problems faced in India as a result of reservation! ~ Nikhil Dave on Goodreads

It is one of the amazing fiction I have read in the near past. Highly recommended. Cocktail of Corruption, politics and love. ~ Akshay_Tripathi on Amazon

What Madhu does well with this story is to highlight many factors that need change. She brings out facets like reservation. She talks about the more rigid mindset of an Indian family ~ Vinay Leo @ Booworm's Musings

GR Review- And here is the link to GR review on our blog...

Contact the Author:


Check out the Tour Stops: