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:
   

Seeeking Redemption



There are times when one is forced to stand up for what is right, lose a lot in the bargain and attempt to redeem lost favours through whatever means are available. Seeking Redemption is a story which revolves around a similar theme.

The plot of the story is meshed amidst the gamut of corruption, caste-based politics and human values. It talks about reservations and corrupt practises. It brings out how the people who voice the truth become a minority and get targetted. In fact, the author attempts to portray issues relevant to the Indian society with the medico-political fraternity as a backdrop.

As far as characters go, its heartening to find Aman, Abhay and Meera with well-etched personality. The story is narrated through the eyes of Meera. Aman and Abhay are opposites but exceptionally depicted. Meera is a strong-willed yet sensitive individual who stands up for the truth. To be specific, Madhu has got all her characters right.

The narrative is really flowing, however, the use of italics for dialogues and making them a part of a regular paragraph, is distracting and hence resulted in reduction of a star in the rating.

To sum, the book is a very good read. If the few unavoidably visible glitches are overlooked, the book is a narrative that merits a reading.This book appears to promise a sequel. Only the author can tell.
P.S- I received a free copy from Bookr3vi3w Tours in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Sky Ghost Series Giveaway

The Sky Ghosts series by Alexandra Engellmann (Blog tour and giveaway)


Fill this simple Google form to sign up for the giveaway. Five winners will receive the first two books of the Sky Ghosts series in any ebook format and have a chance to read the rest of the series for free.


Title: Sky Ghosts / Author: Alexandra Engellmann / Genre: Urban fantasy / Action / Romance

Sky Ghosts: All for One (Sky Ghosts #1)

                 Amazon / Goodreads

Jane and Pain are Sky Ghosts - and they kill for a living. Highly trained bodyguards by day, they patrol the New York streets at night to keep the city safe from their enemies, Sky Beasts. One night they save two young men from their enemies' blades and find themselves in the middle of a war. As they put their lives at stake to save their wards, the main mystery remains unsolved: why would the Beasts hunt two ordinary human boys?

Spellbinding and violent, Alexandra Engellmann's Sky Ghosts series is exactly what Urban fantasy fans are looking for - a blend of action, humor, mystery, and a unique magic system.

"Sky Ghosts is a great mixture of sword-fighting, humor, wit, sexual tension, and "imperfect romance" that brilliantly lets the readers feel like the characters, while supernatural, are fairly ordinary people underneath it all." - Joe Jackson, author of the Eve of Redemption series

Sky Ghosts: Marco (Sky Ghosts #1.5)

                  Amazon / Goodreads

It was hate at first sight. She broke chairs on his head, and in return he broke her bones.

When Marco joined the New York Sky Ghosts Headquarters, he expected trouble. What he didn't expect was a girl half his size that would turn his life into hell. They spilled too much of each other's blood for any hope for reconciliation. How did it happen that they ended up spilling blood for each other on a daily basis?

"I laughed a lot while reading Marco. The silly teenage nature of him and Pain combined with their stubborn natures and violent streaks made for some suitably hilarious and cringe worthy scenes." - Belart Wright, author of the Average Joe series.




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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Serendipity: Nesly Clerge

Authors have their own unique style of writing. There are few who spin tales of romance, a few try and scare the daylights out of us. And a handful  of them write about relationships without trying to get classified into a specific genre. We had a chance interaction with an author who wrote about prison life of a man who was caught in a web of deceit, failed relationship and prison. Here's our rendezvous with Author Nesly Clerge...


GR:  We have heard that you are very fond of Oatmeal Cookies, travelling and Hawaii. What description actually fits you in real life?
NC:  I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physiology and neurobiology, and later pursued a doctoral degree in the field of chiropractic medicine. I always wanted to write, and finally embraced my lifelong passion for the craft. Thank goodness I’m a driven, ambitious person, because I intend to write novels for a long, long time.

GR:  A little birdie told us that you have published various business related articles earlier. But then, how does it feel to be a published author/writer of fiction? What are your preferred genres? 

NC: I recently received a copy of my debut novel, When the Serpent Bites. Holding my first novel in my hands left me feeling radiant and triumphant. Writing a novel takes energy and effort. Writing a novel readers love takes dedication, on top of energy and effort.  My preferred genres are: Psychological thrillers, Crime, and any novels that offer suspense. My novel is classified as psychological suspense, and it was the best way to explore these characters and what makes them say and do what they do, especially Frederick Starks.

I’ll have to say that my high point was the completion of my novel and all the rave reviews that When The Serpent Bites is receiving.  The low point is probably the laborious work it took to write the novel. I enjoy writing, but the issue for me was finding the time to write.

GR: What does your writing place look like? 
NC: I do most of my writing in my home office. Like Starks, the protagonist in When the Serpent Bites, I like my environment to be tidy. My writing space has to meet this requirement before I can actually start to write.

GR: Which fictional character created by you is closest to your heart? Why? 
NC: Frederick Starks is closest to my heart because he’s the first protagonist I have ever created. He’s a complex character, just as we all are. Readers perceive him one way when they start reading the book, but the farther into the story they go, the more they have to adjust their opinion of him. Starks takes readers on an emotional ride, both through his internal ponderings and how he deals with the situations he finds himself in—or puts himself in.

GR: What, according to you, are your strengths and weaknesses as an author/ writer?
NC: My editor says I have a natural talent for storytelling and plot development, and I do see this as a strength that works for me. As a matter of fact, I have several unwritten novels in my head as we speak. I can come up with a full story in a matter of minutes and get a sense of my characters and how their stories should unfold. And, I love to lead my readers one way and then throw in some twists that keep them turning pages.

The discipline to create an outline for this first novel was definitely a weakness. I resisted creating an outline because I didn’t want to be restricted to a specific format. I’ve changed my tune about that with the book I’m writing now. Having an outline didn’t impede my creativity, as I thought it would; it nurtured it. Another matter was—and sometimes still is—trying to stick with a consistent writing schedule. I have a chaotic schedule since I currently practice as a full-time chiropractic doctor. At first I wanted to write early in the mornings, but instead, found I had to write during breaks, late at night, or whenever time permitted. And though I prefer to write in my home office, I had to learn to be more spontaneous and to make better use of my time.

GR: Describe your latest book. We know, for sure, the story deals with issues when love goes dangerously wrong. We are sure, our readers would love to grab a copy. Where can we buy it?
  
NC: When the Serpent Bites is a book about the complexity of human emotions and the fact we are all prone to poor judgment at times because of this.

Frederick Starks is a privileged man, a proud man, wealthy in many ways, poor in others. His wife’s affair and other marital issues cause them to separate. No longer is he able to go home to his three young children every night, to kiss their foreheads as they sleep. Being forced out of their daily life is a wound with no cure, one that festers inside him. Starks is used to being in control, to winning. He can’t move forward in his life unless he confronts the man who destroyed his family. What was meant to be an exchange of words rapidly takes a turn for the worst. Starks soon finds himself in a maximum security prison, stripped of everything dear to him and all that he’s always relied on. Two imperative questions he faces demand an answer: Will he allow others to control, use, and abuse him? And, what will he have to do or become in order to survive?

Personally, I find this story realistic. We’ve all found ourselves in less than desirable situations where our emotions led us to make an irrational decision, especially in matters of the heart. The beginning of this book explores this.

The title of the book speaks volumes: In life we can find serpents around any corner, waiting to strike. Where additional complexity comes in is through the question, Do we see ourselves as clearly as we see others? What causes anyone to become cold-hearted or manipulative, to abandon the value of human life—and love? For some this is a result of the environment they were raised in. For some it’s a form of adaptation, or stems from betrayal by others, especially those they trust. There are many causes. This is the core of this book, and is explored through internal, external, interpersonal, and antagonistic conflict and resolution—some of those resolutions returning us to where we started: the poor judgments we sometimes make.

When the Serpent Bites is an emotional roller coaster. Take the ride with Starks on his journey through twists and trials. Witness the choices he makes, and why, and where each decision leads him. If you appreciate well developed characters, an engaging story that keeps you turning pages into the night, you’ll be glad you read When the Serpent Bites. But don’t be surprised if the characters and the story stay with you long after you read the last sentence.

It can be purchased on:
Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble

GRWho and/or What inspires you the most? Why?
NC: My answer is probably somewhat different than you expect. What inspired me to write When the Serpent Bites is the dynamics involved in failed relationships—most people have been bitten by at least one of these, so most people can relate to the topic. While there are exceptions, nowadays many relationships are plagued by infidelity, pride, and secrecy. I wanted to explore these in an indirect way. The story is layered with a fast-paced cadence, bold references, gritty writing, suspenseful events, twists, turns, jabs, hooks, and other formulations that kept the narrative engaging. However, if we look deep enough, it’s really a story about what can happen when love goes wrong—dangerously wrong—and the people involved make poor choices, just as some people do in real life.

GR: What all do you do when you are not writing? 
NC: When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy spending time with my significant other and my sons, playing chess, traveling, reading, and interacting with readers and authors on Goodreads. My spare time is limited, but I make the most out of the time that I have.

GR: Which writing project are you currently working on? 
NC: I’m working on the sequel to When the Serpent Bites. I want to avoid spoilers, but I will say that what happens to Starks in this book is going to lead him where even he never expected to go. That’s all I want to say about that at this time.

GR: If you could rewrite one Fiction/NonFiction written by another author, which would it be
and why? 
NC: I recently read The Scorpion by John Autero. It’s a great book with an intriguing story. And let me also say that it is well-written. If I had to rewrite it, I’d change the ending. Some readers prefer happy endings in every book, but life does not always offer a happy ending. I enjoy books that end with cliffhangers, especially if you’re engaged with the characters and want to know what happens to them after that story ends, unless, of course, it’s the last book in a series or a stand-alone novel.

GR: Thank you Nesly for giving us your precious time and doing an interview for us. We wish you the very best for your debut book.

That was an interesting chat!!! Nesly Clerge, we were told, had To kill a Mockingbird, Black Boy by Richard Wright, Maximum Ride by James Patterson, as few of his favourite books. By the way, we have reviewed his book When The Serpent Bites. Here is our Review.


When The Serpent Bites





When I started reading this story my reactions towards the protagonist Frederich Starks kept changing. It began with empathy, justifications and finally disgust. How could a man ever behave like this???

As the story progressed, I realised there was a deeper aspect to it. This book talks of failed marriages due to hidden secrets, extramarital affairs and complete overconfidence in a relationship. Serpent is generally associated with negativity, distrust and other similar emotions. So, when a serpent bites, it definitely has severe effects. In this story, the protagonist was bitten by a serpent, that of jealousy and shock. His impulsive reactions were met with irreplaceable consequences.

Though the protagonist is not a very likeable character, he was someone who could be identified with in this world. In fact, the author has managed to create characters who had an element of realism in them. They could be anybody amongst us.

The plot is engrossing, in the sense, one could feel involved as a silent spectator as the story progressed. However, there was a tinge of negativity to it and the ending was not what I had expected, hence the four stars. In reality, I am a happy go lucky person and would definitely have nothing to do with a person like Starks. The story narration is a highlight though.

To sum up, when this serpent bit me, I did not like it at all. And after getting to know Mr Starks, I did not like to be bitten like this even more. Looking forward to the next book.

P.S- I got a free copy from Legit Lit Book Tours and Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange of an honest review. Thank you.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Doc's Codicil




Sometimes, there is a need to introspect and listen to our inner child. Doc's Codicil is a book that lays emphasis on doing just that.

What the Doc had learnt in his life, he wanted to pass on to his children, especially after his death. Hence, he wrote a codicil to his will.

The story has a great plot and ensures frequent yet meaningful transitions in time frames (past, present and future to be precise!!!). The narrative is fast paced and ensures that a reader looks forward to what is in store next.

Gary has a great sense of humour which he aptly projects through this story. There are many portions that you would love to read again and again in order to re-live through the funny moments narrated. In fact, the descriptions have the power to trigger  vivid visual imageries. However, there is too many details regarding animal sciences which I have little knowledge of. Since I couldn't appreciate these portions due to lack of understanding, I am forced to give this book a four star rating. But yes, I do look forward to read more of Gary's work, because, I am sure, his next book will take care of such minor issues.

Characterization is interesting. Each of the Doc's children, his lawyer friend, Doofus and even the nondescript ones have a well etched role to play in thiz story.

Coming back to the concept of introspection, I too agree with the author that there is a need to bond more with family members. To tell the truth, it is vital that more and frequent investments  are required in relationships. Quality time spent on family relationship is the best investment that can ever be made. And yes, there is also a need to take risks. Sometimes, one has to risk it all in order to be happy.

To sum up, but for few technicalities and nuances I couldn't comprehend, the book is definitely a must read for all the humour it has to offer along with a wonderful plot.

P.S- I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. Thank you Legit Lit Book Tours.