Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book Blitz :: 'TALES OF SUNSHINE' by Sundari Venkatram

Blurb
TALES OF SUNSHINE is a collection of ten short stories that bring hope. 

“A Ray of Sunshine” is about young Raj who’s terribly upset when many people in his team lose their jobs. But is he able to do anything about it?

“A Promise Given” is about Sachin, the poor, rich, young man; and the pregnant Aparna.

“Life Goes out of Control” is the story where Preeti, an only child, is a bone of contention between her parents. 

Rakesh Nath has slogged throughout his life to become rich, to suffer a massive heart
attack at 57. Read “Rakesh Nath’s Recovery” to find out more...

“Exam Fever” is about Renu and her anxious mother, Maya. Renu wants to play truant from studies while Maya is terribly worried about her daughter’s exams.

“Until Death us do Part” is the story of Rekha, the 35-year-old COO of an MNC. She finds love or does she? 

Ansh adores his grandfather. But his mother Anu is scared of her son spending time
with the Alzheimer patient in “Is Grandpa Home?”

The“Daydreaming Mercenary” is Reema. She blows up her sister Rita’s hard-earned money. But are things what they actually seem?

“Breaking Free from the Mould” is the most difficult thing as a human. With so much pressure from his Grandma, will Aarush pursue his calling?

“The Elephant in the Room” is in the first person where the poor Nandita talks about her friendship  with the rich Shruti.



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About the author

Tales of Sunshine is the seventh book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This book is an anthology of human interest stories. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in
Heaven
. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books have been on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK & Australia many times over.

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Other books by the author


                                                           
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Spotlight :: 'More Than Just Desire' by Summerita Rhayne



A Passionate Romance 

by 

Summerita Rhayne 

More Than Just Desire

Blurb 

The Bollywood diva who ran away

Piya walked out of an explosive situation three years ago. She married Arfaaz for security but left him facing chaos she created. Now she's back in Bollywood and searching for the crown she gave up when she ran away. In the competitive world of starry glamour, the only way she can begin her career anew is to trash the past and get a divorce.

The man who wants her atonement

Arfaaz is determined to get his revenge on Piya for making a farce of their marriage and leaving him to face the mudslinging. He forces her to keep up the appearances and stay with him so she can play the loving wife and repent on her sins. But Piya drives him crazy with her antics. On the top of that, the attraction between them sizzles and threatens to make him forget reason.

A passionate conflict

Piya knows she has lessons to learn but she cannot let this man enter her heart. There is too much to risk and she cannot afford to forget the real reason she has come back. Success is her mantra and her worship. She can be faithful to only her goal...




Prologue

The limo slid through wrought iron gates and came to a stop in front of the entrance of the huge house designed like an ultra modern Italian villa.

‘I’m not getting out here. I’ve booked a room and I want to go to my hotel.’ She averted her gaze and stared straight ahead as Arfaaz held the door open. 


For answer, he paused. An inhalation expanded his chest, drawing her unwilling gaze. He’d discarded the ridiculous narrow jacket and the white dress shirt drew taut against his pectorals, sending something threatening and alien coiling through her. 


The next moment he’d swooped down and picked her up, taking advantage of her inattention. 


His hands went under her as he gathered her in his arms as easily as he would a bird in his hand. She had to duck her head to escape the side of the car and then he was slamming the door shut with a foot kick. 


‘How dare you!’ She flailed at him furiously, pent-up frustration escaping. ‘Let me go. Now!’

He was warm, too much so. She found her throat clogging for some unknown reason. 

Before she could react anymore, he let her slide down, but she was struggling and squirming so much, she lost her balance and fell, smack against his body. 


He stepped back as though she burned him and mortification swept over her skin at the implied rejection.  


‘You can’t force me to do what you want!’ she bit out, breathless from effort. 


‘I’ll get what I need to know out of you anyway I can.’


‘What do you want to know? Why am I here? Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s to lay down this ghost between us. This meaningless tie...’ She made a gesture to denote contempt and tipped up her chin at him. ‘I want a divorce, Arfaaz. And I want it as quickly as possible.’


‘Very well.’ The soft agreement dropped in the silence with thunderous force, like a rock thudding down from the mountain. ‘Don’t doubt it, Piya. You’ll get it.’



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



Summerita Rhayne writes contemporary and historical romance with lots of emotional conflict. She first got published in 2013 and has won contests with prestigious publishers such as Harlequin and Harper Collins India. She firmly believes if the inspiration is strong enough, the story characters will find a way to make the writer pen them down, even when writing time is in short supply. When cerebrally confronted with the sizzling interaction of two Alpha characters, the only way to get peace is write their book!

At heart, she's a family person and even though she loves her medical teaching profession, she happily becomes a homemaker when not at work. She loves winding down with music, romcoms, cricket (strictly watching only) and social networking.



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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review:: ‘False Ceilings’ by Amit Sharma

Disclaimer: I received an author-signed paperback of this book via The Book Club in return for my honest review.
Publisher: LiFi Publications
Blurb
Born in the lush mountains of Dalhousie in 1930, Shakuntala is a pampered child of a wealthy builder. On her wedding night she is gifted a secret to use wisely when the time comes. 

From the green valleys of Dalhousie to a village in Punjab reeling under the communal violence of 1947; from the Delhi of 1950s with its intoxicating smell of freedom to the Delhi of 1970s soaked in the hippie culture; from the Delhi of 1984 smelling of burnt tyres to the Delhi of 90s raising its Frankenstein of urbanization, the cancerous secret breathes with her, infects her. It is accidentally passed down, hidden under insecurities and jealousies, locked in its meaninglessness and leaving a trail of ruin. 


When her great- grandson accidentally discovers the secret in 2065, he is perplexed by the malice that flowed in his family's blood. Was it just the secret or his family would have destroyed itself even in its absence? Why was their love never greater than their unsaid expectations from each other? 


My Review:

‘False Ceilings’ is a family saga spanning five generations, set from Dalhousie to Delhi, from yesteryears to our future. Yes, it also gives a glimpse of how the future world would be; complete with sensors and gadgets operating with voice commands. The story is centered around Shakuntala and her love and dedication for her father. Author has packed quite a number of years, events, families and characters in 256 pages. Everything is bound by a secret which key member of the family harbors. 

The novel starts with an intriguing event when a character Aaryan is writing a software algorithm in 2001, it moves to old Lipi in 2060 and then moves to Shankuntala’s birth. After that it jumps to other characters; one in each chapter. The stories are narrated like standalone biographies of characters with no connection with each other. Each of these are in separate time zones with focus on the main character’s emotions, problems, effect of events on their lives integrated with culture and era of those years.


Author has good grasp on scenic descriptions and the picturesque Dalhousie and Delhi invite right kind of images, maintaining the interest of the readers.


Characterization of each protagonists is deftly dealt with, and is the best part of the book. Though most of the characters and emotions are negative—bordering on hatred, anger and depression, it does keep the reader interested. Each characters life, behavior and emotions are expertly intertwined with subsequent era’s culture, happenings and events, even the political events. Full marks to the author for research.


The non-linear narration going back and forth in time, creates a bit of a confusion in the middle. The transition between the timelines is abrupt and towards the end one has to read a few things again to get the family tree straight. The only thing which keeps one going is to know the secret wrapped in the yellow cloth.


Coming to the secret which kept me hooked, but it kind of fell flat after such a prolong non-sequential narration. It left me a bit dissatisfied. The author has used complex vocabulary, at times usage is incorrect in the context, needing a good round of editing.


A good debut attempt.











FALSE CEILINGS 
by
AMIT SHARMA




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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amit Sharma's first fiction book titled False Ceilings has been published by Lifi Publications. The book launch happened on 12 Jan 2016 in the World Book Fair in Delhi. 

Amit has been working in a Software Firm since the last ten years. He lives with his family in NCR. His wife is a teacher and they are blessed with a daughter who is in her terrible twos. 

Amit always keeps a book and a portable reading light in his bag (much to the amusement of his fellow travelers). His other hobbies include watching world cinema, travelling, digging into various cuisines, cooking, listening to music, painting, blogging, making his daughter laugh and helping his wife with her unnecessary and prolonged shopping.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review :: ‘My Last Love Story’ by Falguni Kothari


Genre: Literary Romance
Blurb:
Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreakingly romantic tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me.
But Nirvaan is dying.
I love my husband. I want to make him happy.
But he is asking for the impossible. 

I don’t want a baby.
I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.
I don’t want another chance at another love story. 

My Review:
The affections and bonding during childhood always has a profound effect throughout the life. More so if there is no one else to lean on to. ‘My Last Love Story’ explores this friendship, bonding and love—between not two but—by three people, who are totally, irrevocably in love with each other.

Falguni Kothari dares to tread on a relationship which the society (read readers; me included) might have frowned upon, especially when a girl is involved with two boys. But the author has done a skillful job of giving that love or adoration a respectability, which if not handled properly might have become vulgar or tasteless. Hats off!

Nirvaan’s dying wish is to have a baby, but his wife Simeen who is battling with the memories of her past and now the reality of his illness, is reluctant to shoulder the responsibility. In addition to this complication Nirvaan has called their childhood buddy Zayaan to come and live with them. Nirvaan knows as the cancer will progress, Simeen will need someone who can give unconditional support. 

The three best buddies have shared a tumultuous past and are reluctant to clear the air. Both men know there is some problem with Simeen, and like gentlemen they wait for her to open the subject. But will Simeen find the courage to reveal the truth? Ms Kothari has wonderfully woven the complexities and dilemmas in their lives.

The characterization of all three protagonist is near perfect with all their quirks and regionalism, for Nirvaan is a Gujju, Simeen a Parsi and Zayaan a Muslim. The author has integrated the narration of past (back story and flashbacks) and present seamlessly. I simply loved the flawless flow of words.

‘My Last Love Story’ keeps you guessing, makes you empathize with the protagonists, leaving you totally invested in the tale. However do not expect everything to end happily-ever-after. Depicting the harsh realities of life, it will surely make one emotional.

Highly recommended for all literary romance fans.




Book Links:


Read an Excerpt:


Dear Readers, thank you for coming along on the My Last Love Story Blog Tour. Here’s an excerpt to enjoy.

ONE

“Love is a dish best served naked.”
As a child, those oft-quoted words of my father would have me rolling my eyes and pretending to gag at what I’d imagined was my parents’ precursor to a certain physical act. 
At thirty, I’d long ago realized that getting naked wasn’t a euphemism for sex. 
Neither was love.
It wasn’t my father wording the meme just now but my husband. Nirvaan considered himself a great wit, a New Age philosopher. On the best of days, he was, much like Daddy had been. On the worst days, he was my tormentor. 
“What do you think, Dr. Archer? Interesting enough tagline for a vlog? What about ‘Baby in a Petri Dish’?” Nirvaan persisted in eliciting a response from the doctor and/or me for his ad hoc comedy, which we’d been ignoring for several minutes now.
I wanted to glare at him, beg him to shut up, or demand that he wait in the doctor’s office like he should’ve done, like a normal husband would have. Khodai knows why he’d insisted on holding my hand through this preliminary checkup. Nothing of import would happen today—if it did at all. But I couldn’t perform any such communication, not with my eyes and mouth squeezed shut while I suffered through a series of uncomfortable twinges along my nether regions. 
I lay flat on my back on a spongy clinic bed sheeted with paper already wrinkled and half torn. Legs drawn up and spread apart, my heels dug punishingly into cold iron stirrups to allow my gynecologist’s clever fingers to reach inside my womb and check if everything was A-OK in there. We’d already funneled through the Pap test and stomach and chest checks. Like them, this test, too, was going swell in light of Dr. Archer’s approving happy hums. 
“Excellent, Mrs. Desai. All parts are where they should be,” he joked only as a doctor could.
I shuddered out the breath I’d been holding, as the feeling of being stretched left my body. Nirvaan squeezed my hand and planted a smacking kiss on my forehead. I opened my eyes and focused on his beaming upside-down ones. His eyelids barely grew lashes anymore—I’d counted twenty-seven in total just last week—the effect of years of chemotherapy. For a second, my gaze blurred, my heart wavered, and I almost cried. 
What are we doing, Nirvaan? What in Khodai’s name were we starting?
Nirvaan stroked my hair, his pitch-black pupils steady and knowing and oh-so stubborn. Then, his face rose to the stark white ceiling, and all I saw was the green-and-blue mesh of his gingham shirt—the overlapping threads, the crisscross weaves, a pattern without end. 
Life is what you make it, child. It was another one of my father’s truisms.
Swallowing the questions twirling on my tongue, I refocused my mind on why we were here. I’d promised Nirvaan we’d try for a baby if he agreed to another round of cancer-blasting treatments. I’d bartered for a few more months of my husband’s life. He’d bartered for immortality through our child.
Dr. Archer rolled away from between my legs to the computer station. He snapped off and disposed of the latex gloves. Then, he began typing notes in near-soundless staccato clicks. Though the examination was finished, I knew better than to sit up until he gave me leave. I’d been here before, done this before—two years ago when Nirvaan had been in remission and the idea of having a baby had wormed its way into his head. We’d tried the most basic procedures then, whatever our medical coverage had allowed. We hadn’t been desperate yet to use our own money, which we shouldn’t be touching even now. We needed every penny we had for emergencies and alternative treatments, but try budging my husband once he’d made up his mind.
“I’m a businessman, Simi. I only pour money into a sure thing,” he rebuked when I argued.
I brought my legs together, manufacturing what poise and modesty I could, and pulled the sea-green hospital gown bunched beneath my bottom across my half-naked body. I refused to look at my husband as I wriggled about, positive his expression would be pregnant with irony, if not fully smirking. And kudos to him for not jumping in to help me like I would have. 
The tables had turned on us today. For the past five years, it’d been Nirvaan thrashing about on hospital beds, trying in vain to find relief and comfort, modesty or release. Nirvaan had been poked, prodded, sliced, and bled as he battled aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’d been the stoic spectator, the supportive wife, the incompetent nurse, the ineffectual lover. 
And now? What role would I play now?
As always, thinking about our life left me feeling even more naked than I was in the open-fronted robe. I turned my face to the wall, my eyes stinging, as fear and frustration bubbled to the surface. Flesh-toned posters of laughing babies, pregnant mothers, and love-struck fathers hung from the bluish walls. Side by side were the more educative ones of human anatomy, vivisected and whole. The test-tube-like exam room of Monterey Bay Fertility Clinic was decorated in true California beach colors—sea-foam walls, sandy floors, pearl-pink curtains, and furniture—bringing the outdoors in. If the decor was meant to be homey, it wasn’t having such an effect on me. This room, like this town and even this country, was not my natural habitat, and I felt out of my element in it. 
I’d lived in California for seven years now, ever since my marriage, and I still didn’t think of it as home, not like Nirvaan did. Home for me was India. And no matter the dark memories it held, home would always be Surat.
“All done.” Dr. Archer pushed the computer trolley away and stood up. “You can get dressed, Mrs. Desai. Take your time. Use whatever supplies you need. We’ll wait for you in my office,” he said, smiling. 
Finally, I can cover myself, I thought. Gooseflesh had erupted across my skin due to the near frigid clinic temperatures doctors tortured their patients with—like a patient didn’t have enough to suffer already. Medical facilities maintained cool indoor temperatures to deter inveterate germs from contaminating the premises and so its vast flotilla of equipment didn’t fry. I knew that. But knowing it still didn’t inspire any warm feelings in me for the “throng of professional sadists with a god complex.” I quoted my husband there. 
Nirvaan captured my attention with a pat on my head. “See you soon, baby,” he said, following the doctor out of the room. 
I scooted off the bed as soon as the door shut behind them. My hair tumbled down my face and shoulders at my jerky movements. I smoothed it back with shaking hands. Long, wavy, and a deep chestnut shade, my hair was my crowning glory, my one and only feature that was lush and arresting. Nirvaan loved my hair. I wasn’t to cut it or even braid it in his presence, and so it often got hopelessly knotted. 
I shrugged off the clinic gown, balled it up, and placed it on the bed. I wiped myself again and again with antiseptic wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels until the tissues came away stain-free. I didn’t feel light-headed. I didn’t allow myself to freak. I concentrated on the flow of my breaths and the pounding of my heart until they both slowed to normal. 
It was okay. I was not walking out with a gift-wrapped baby in tow. Not today. No reason to freak out.
I reached for my clothes and slipped on my underwear. They were beige with tiny white hearts on them—Victoria’s Secret lingerie Nirvaan had leered and whistled at this morning. 
Such a silly man. Typical Nirvaan, I corrected, twisting my lips. 
Even after dressing in red-wash jeans and a full-sleeved sweater, I shivered. My womb still felt invaded and odd. As I stepped into my red patent leather pumps, an unused Petri dish sitting on the workstation countertop caught my eye. 
The trigger for Nirvaan’s impromptu comedy, perhaps? 
Despite major misgivings about the Hitleresque direction my life had taken, humor got the better of me, and I grinned. 
Silly, silly Nirvaan. Baby in a Petri dish, indeed.


About the Author:


Falguni Kothari is an internationally bestselling hybrid author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with her readers. My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.




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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review :: ‘Just For You’ by Rahul Saini

Note: I had received this book via 'Wordbite' in exchange of my honest review.

Genre: Romance/ Literary ??
Publisher: Penguin Metro Reads
Blurb:
When you love someone, what's there to prove? Everything! It looks like life is teaching Rohit a lesson. His publishing deals, his relationships, even his job - nothing seems to be working out. To make matters worse, Karan is still trying his best to ruin him as a writer. But when Nisha leaves him, it's the ultimate blow. To win her back Rohit must prove he loves her enough to do things that matter to her: like helping Tara find a publisher. As Rohit takes control of his life, he begins to find things slowly changing for the better for him too. But will Nisha be happy with that? Will she come back to him? Just for You is an adorable, bittersweet story about love and its responsibilities.

The central character – Rohit, an author, rebels against his inner self and struggles to settle with his unbalanced life while Karun, another (very) young author leaves no stone unturned to ruin his reputation as a writer because of his revelry and jealousy towards him. Rohit suffers the ultimate blow when is his girlfriend, Nisha leaves him. In order to gather the ripped shreds of his life, Rohit tries to win Nisha back by doing the things that would matter to her the most, in turn bringing his life back on track (or not)! Meanwhile, Karun keeps trying his best to ruin his career anyway! 

My Review
‘Just For You’ explores the real world of authors and writers sans the glamour. The story strips off the veneer of style and sophistication from the lives of the protagonists, laying bare the common human emotions—envy, greed, fear and other complexes.

One thing that plagues my mind is that I have not been able to slot the novel into a genre. It is definitely not a romance. But the story does force us to think how to find strength in the face of all adversaries.

The main thread revolves around Rohit who has a bestseller to his credit. He is a straight forward, honest guy, struggling to complete another novel, and handling the practicalities of life. Rohit has had an altercation with his publishers, and the characters on the periphery are ready to take advantage of the situation. Karun is ready to usurp his position as a bestseller author by any means possible, and Rohit’s boss is hell bent on ruining the future of his protege. Without revealing the spoilers, I just want to say that I really liked the twist in the end.

There is a lot of action happening around and in Rohit’s life, and in the first half I felt the extent of human emotions have not been fully explored. I didn’t feel the depth of affection between Rohit and Nisha—Rohit’s girlfriend. The author manages to get the reader hooked when Nisha leaves him. Another small scenario I can’t help but mention and which has to be attributed to creative license— is that Rohit’s boss, boss’s girlfriend and Rohit sharing one room with extra bed on an official trip. A bit far-fetched, and I couldn’t stomach the scene.

The tale is narrated in first person through the main character’s point of view. Each chapter spans a scene which are sometimes as small as half a page with a title sentence summarizing the action about to happen. The first half is a bit slow, but as the stage is set for Rohit to take action, the pace picks up reaching a satisfactory end.

The novel is written in present tense; a style which takes some time to get used to, but I see the it getting quite popular these days. The language and narration is seamless and engaging. 

I will definitely read another novel by the Rahul Saini.

About The Author:
Rahul Saini is the bestselling author of five hugely popular books – Those small Lil’ Things, Just like in the Movies, The Orange Hangover and most recently Paperback Dreams and
Just For You, which created a lot of buzz and raised many questions about the current scenario of the publishing industry in India. All his books have featured in various bestselling lists across the nation.
His books have strong comic tones and present the up-beat stories that portray the fun loving, free spirited and the outgoing character of today’s youth. Apart from being light
entertainers, his books carry relevant social messages. His first book has also been translated into Hindi which won the award for the best translation by the Federation of
Indian Printers and Publishers. Trained as an architect from Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon, apart from being a novelist, he is a keen photographer and an artist
and has had successful art shows. He is into film making and script writing as well.
Currently he is working as a visiting faculty member for an art and design program at a prestigious university in India.