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."


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.



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:

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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.