Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Two Wolves Dancing


This book kept me engrossed till the last page. To be frank, I am not very fond of ghost stories, simply because, a few have literally scared the daylights out of me. But this book was not frightening and was more of paranormal encounter.

The plot revolves around several themes - love, pain, loss, exploration, revenge. In fact, there are so many point of views that you end up getting different impressions regarding each scene. 

This story is about an individual's ability to cope up and react to situations beyond one's control. The basic lesson that can be derived is that we all have two wolves within us. It is up to us to feed them with goodness or sin. Also, every end definitely has a new beginning and losses can become major turning points in our lives.

It is the multiple POVs that enhance this story. Hats off Francine. It is very difficult to craft a brilliant story with so many viewpoints. And what marvellous writing. It took me two days to complete this story due to my commitments, however, I could not resist the temptation returning back to the story at every opportune moment. The narration triggers vivid imageries. It is like watching an engrossing movie on a big screen. 

There are many characters in this story and each of them have their distinct characteristics. The best part is that Francine has ensured that all of them have a role to play for the story to shape up. Not a single character is out of place or has too little or unnecessary act.

In short, if you want a paranormal story which is neither cheesy nor terrifying, you should pick up Two Wolves Dancing. It is worth reading, especially since the shifts between past and present happenings are way too smooth and succeed in keeping you hooked.

P.S - Francine, I simply loved your book. Am looking forward to more such writings.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Guardians

Book One was a bit of a disappointment. The Caretaker failed to impress me even though he had immense powers. But Book Two is a improved version.

The Guardians have a challenging task. Here also, the plot revolves around Ethan, the former Caretaker, now a Guardian. However, the story addresses a few socially relevant issues such as unemployment and income equality. The best part is that these are depicted in an alien world. 

Josi definitely is a writer to watch out for. She has expressed herself more creatively in this sequel than the first one. Her narration is like watching a movie. There are still a few glitches here and there. But the marked improved style has made me want to read the next book in sequence.

In this story, there are many more characters as compared to Book One. Though initially their introductions might confuse the readers, the later half of the story manages to bring out the unique characteristics and a better understanding of the characters.

To sum up, this book is definitely worth reading. Best part is, it can be read in isolation as a stand alone story. However, reading the Caretaker first definitely makes it easy to connect with the Guardians.

P.S - I received a free copy in exchange of an honest opinion. Thank you Future House Publishing.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Caretaker

I was advised to read this book first before I proceeded with Book Two - Guardian.

Frankly speaking, the plot concept was unique, however, there was something missing in the storyline. I am not a avid sci-fi reader, but, my basic requirement is that the story should keep me hooked onto it. Sadly, after a few pages, I had to make a deliberate attempt to concentrate.

Josi can conjure up imageries with the words she chooses to write with. Hence, the language used justifies this. It is also a known fact that a story which focuses on two or less than two characters definitely needs a gripping narration to retain the reader's attention. However, I personally felt a disconnect between the characters, or rather, in their descriptions. Also, the ending is too abrupt to put two and two together.

Coming to the protagonists, the concept could have become the real hero, but instead, we have two characters who could have had spark but turned out to be average. The thought of bringing out human relations in unique situations, like the one described in this story, is novel. But as the story progresses the distance and disconnect between the characters overshadows this thought.

To sum up, this story had everything in it to make it an all time favourite, however, there were too many missing elements that could not be ignored. Worth reading for the efforts put in by the author.

P.S - I received a free copy in exchange of an honest opinion. Thank you Future House Publishing.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Spitting On Hans' Tosti


The first thing which attracted me towards this book was its blurb. Believe me, it is really not easy to open up your deepest wounds to the entire world. Hats off to Karin for being so brave.

The plot revolves around the theme of sexual harrassment at workplace. It is a fictionalised narration of real happenings. Yet, but for the names, everything else is as real as can be. Sexual harrassment is something which many employees undergo irrespective of caste, creed, religion, country and even gender. Sadly, it goes unreported most of the time. The victim either keeps quiet for the fear of humiliation when incident is brought to light, or for repressing the pain associated with such trauma. 

Karin's narration is a lifesaver for everyone who is likely to be a victim or is already one. The comparions through a tosti is one of the best part of her writing. The language is hard hitting; it will make you squirm and feel helpless at the thought of not having been there to protect the protagonist. The language may be initially a bit different but the understanding and empathy grows with each page.

The characters are all really well etched out. Sadly, each of them exist in the real world. No matter which part of the world one is from, everywhere, there are those who are silent spectators, thus supporting this heinous act. If only such people open up the moment they see such thing happening around them, they themselves will never get victimised at later stages.

To sum up, speaking up for a prevalent evil in today's society is not everyone's cup of tea. And an effort of not just talking about such tosti and subsequently condemning it is commendable. If you are also in favour of a safe, amicable and harrassment free workplace, this book is a must read.

P.S - Karin, hats off to your spirit and courage, girl!!!

Monday, 14 March 2016

Misjudged Nuances


Read this book with the hope of discovering something new about medical professionals. Though didnot exactly unearth something novel in the plot, the story was readable.

The plot revolves around love and friendship between students of a medical college and later, its interns. The love story is sadly predictable, even though it revolved around the medical profession. I really was expecting something different. Hence, absence of a novel storyline cost a star.

Garima has a good grip over narration, hence, inspite of a predictable storyline, you can read the book from start to finish without a break. The dialogues are well written and keep the reader engaged. Luckily, usage of medical terms are limitted and are apt for the situation being described.

The best part about this book are the characters. They are doctors who are shown as any normal human being. They emote, they express and they have their beliefs. The story also brings out their vulnerabilities and the issues that interns and doctors face.

To sum up, the book is a quick read, neither too long nor short. Worth reading once, especially when you want a love story based on the medical fraternity.

P.S - If only the story had not had predictable sections!!!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Serendipity: Sharon Ashwood

Few authors can churn stories that take you into a magical realm. Here are snippets of our serendipity with an awesome award winning writer. Meet Sharon Ashwood. 
GR: What description will fit you in real life? Please give a brief Bio about yourself.
SA: Sharon Ashwood is a novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle would never work out, so she writes her adventures instead.

Sharon is the winner of the RITA® Award for Paranormal Romance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

GR: How does it feel to be a published author/writer? What are your preferred genres?
SA: It’s a great honour to be a published writer and have the opportunity to connect with readers far and wide. Knowing that my  books have meaning for someone else is the fuel that keeps me going. After all, storytelling is nothing without someone to hear the story.

Besides that, publishing is a dynamic and ever-changing industry that—love it or hate it—is never boring! In order to survive, a writer has to be flexible and keep up with changing tastes. My preference is urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to carry on in that line.

GR: What does your writing place look like? 
SA: I write when and where I can—on the couch, at the kitchen table, at my desk, in scraps here and there as I go about my day. My desk has a large collection of toys—knights, dragons, unicorns, wizards—all kinds of little characters who weave their way into my adventures.

GR: Which fictional character created by you is closest to your heart? Why? 
SA: That’s a bit like asking which child I love the most! Impossible! What I can say is that each moves me in a different way. Gawain, the hero of ENCHANTED WARRIOR, is very close to my heart.  He’s angry and suspicious and in many ways hanging onto his identity by his fingernails, but he’s also passionate and extremely loyal. He takes enormous risks, both emotionally and physically, for those he cares about. That willingness to make himself vulnerable is what endears him to me. It’s a kind of courage that often goes unrecognized.

GR: What, according to you, are your strengths and weaknesses as an author/ writer?
SA: Over time, I’ve learned to plan my books more efficiently.  I used to write myself into some awkward corners and then spend ages rewriting.  Now I make myself plot even though I don’t always follow the outline to the letter. For me, any plan is better than nothing!

I believe I have two primary strengths as a writer. I connect with my characters—they walk into my head without warning, and if I take the time to listen well they tell me fabulous stories. The other is that I’m willing to take risks. I do my best not to deliver the same old, same old but go out on a limb to do something fresh. Readers can pick up my books and expect an adventure.

GR: Describe your latest book. Where can we buy it? 
SA: My new series is called Camelot Reborn, and ENCHANTED WARRIOR is the first story.  It’s based on the legends of King Arthur and what happens after the enchanter Merlin puts the heroes of the medieval court into an enchanted sleep to awaken when humanity needs protection from a great enemy. Of course the spell doesn’t quite work as planned, and my first hero has to figure out what’s going on. Here is the blurb from the book:

In an age clouded by legend, Gawain was one of King Arthur’s greatest knights. When he awakens centuries after the fall of Camelot, he faces his most daunting quest yet--the search for his missing companions. His hope is that Tamsin Greene, the alluring historian at Medievaland Theme Park, can help him. Then he senses the magic within her…

Gawain will now have to trust a witch-and his own heart-to rouse the knights of the Round Table and save humanity from a faery onslaught.
Book Links

GR: Who and/or What inspires you the most? Why?
SA: I’m a magpie when it comes to inspiration.  All kinds of things catch my notice and nag at me until it’s time to put them in a book. I love history and folklore so there’s always something more out there to explore. That being said, all of my books seem to circle around the question of finding a home to belong to. My most deeply felt stories are about outcasts and their search to achieve independence and community. The first series I wrote, the Dark Forgotten, is about the difficult integration of the supernatural into mainstream society. My current series, Camelot Reborn, is about what happens to the medieval knights of the Round Table when they land in the modern day. My characters are never quite accepted by the culture around them.

Maybe that comes from being a writer because anyone who spends so much time in their own fantasy worlds is a bit of an oddball!

GR: What all do you do when you are not writing?
SA: I work full time, so working and writing take up most of my day.  When I have time, I like gardening, cooking, and exploring antique shops.

GR: Which writing project are you currently working on?
SA: I just finished the second book of Camelot Reborn, ENCHANTED GUARDIAN, which is all about Sir Lancelot. He surprised me as I was writing it—he turned out to be much wiser than I expected.

Fling!


Its been a month since I finished reading this book. I knowingly did not post my review back then because it inspired me to do something crazy, which was, planning a surprise party for my mother.

The story is about a mother-daughter duo on a crazy adventure. Reading their story was like living precious moments spent with my mother all over again. The plot brings out the complexities and all possible shades which exist between a mum and her girl.

Lily has a way with words. She has ensured her narrative descriptions emote as much as her characters. Her scenes have a life of their own; it was like reading the story and viewing its movie on a big screen simultaneously. Her sentences are simple even when she expresses a complex idea.

The two protagonists are perfect constrasts, like yin and yang!!! The mother and daughter are absolute opposites, yet together they form a wonderful team. Through them, Lily has also subtly expressed that age is just a figment of one's mind. One aged 60 and the other aged 90 have actually succeeded in teaching the readers that there is no age bar on living life, exploring, doing things one's own way, and above all, listening to one's heart even when the mind fails to reason.

To sum up, this book gave me a reason, or rather an opportunity, to celebrate my relationship with my mum. It will be a keepsake for the rest of my life. In fact, when my daughters grow up, this will be a book I will gift them. It is a must must must read for all mothers and daughters as well all men who love their mothers and daughters. 

P.S - Lily, you have helped me bring a smile on my mum's face through your book. Simply loved it.


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Life On Base: Quantico Cave


The life of a military brat, the term by which a child of a defence personnel is known in the civvie street, is never easy. Being a parent of two such brats, I could easily appreciate the story by Tom and Nancy.

The story is based on a set of kids whose parents are posted to a marine corp base at Quantico Cave. I will not elaborate further since I fear I might give away too much in the bargain. Let me simply say that military service across the world and irrespective of arm (Army, Navy, Air Force, even Paramilitary forces) are bound by a common thread - love for one's country. 

The personnel directly functioning in it as well as their families live a life which is not exactly a bed of roses. Military brats, are also one of the most teased group of kids because to many people in the civvie street (in many countries), these set of children supposedly belong to a privileged class. But let me place it on record, our military brats are not a spoilt lot but solid pillars of strength when the going gets tough.

The kids in this story  portray the different shades of a military brat. Strong, emotional, situationally aware, independent, fearless, these kids are more of an asset than being a pain in the neck. These kids also help in highlighting the cohesion, brotherhood, discipline, attention to detail, quick thinking, decision making, leadership, integrity, responsiveness that can always be found in a defence setup. At the same time, there is pain, fear of losing a dear one, anguish, uncertainty, regular shiftings and lack of stability.

Tom and Nancy have beautifully depicted the military life through the eyes of children. The writing is definitely engrossing and narration succeeds in bringing a smile on your face as you near completion. The imageries this story evokes is truly as if the reader is very much a part of the proceedings. At times, you feel like actively participating as well, however, sadly, there is no such provision to jump into the story and butting in.

To sum up, I loved every bit of the story as I can practically see it happening all around me. Though my kids are miles away from Quantico Cave and not in the same arm of the military, still, once a military brat, always a military brat. 

P.S - This book definitely gives a peek into military life and worth reading more than once. Awesome story Tom and Nancy!!!


A Smattering Of Darkness


The stories in this book kept me thinking, so much so, I read it again after almost a month. And yes, such smattering of darkness kept me glued to it.

The anthology is divided into three parts - short, shorter and shortest. Believe me, as I progressed, my excitement kept increasing. I simply loved the shortest stories, not because of the word count or length, but these very few liners were so simple in expression but so complex in thought. 

The stories are not the usual kind. They are dark, sometimes gothic, and not the kinds with happy endings. But still, the themes are diverse, relevant and definitely thought provoking. They have the power to make you feel, make you emote as you progress. 

Alisha has a distinct writing style. Its almost as if lesser the word count, deeper the symbolism and meaning. It is definitely not easy to capture a reader's attention till the last story, especially when some have the power to make you squirm and cringe in your seat. Each story rakes up beautiful yet dark imageries. The stories appeal to all senses and a pure, though somewhat disturbing, treat to read. She has truly done an awesome job.

Each story has the required number of characters- neither more nor less. In fact, too many characters lead to confusion and too little may border on boredom, unless, of course, the author has the writing skills to pull it off efficiently. Alisha certainly puts up a powerful performance. Hats off to her.

To sum up, you will love to think about the stories in this anthology long after you have read it. This collection is a must read and a book that you must have in your personal library.

P.S - Alisha, when is the next anthology coming up???