Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review :: ‘Dancing With Demons’ by Nidhie Sharma


Genre: Romance
Publisher: Harlequin

Blurb
Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.

Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.


When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?


Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.


My Review

Don’t we all love a bit of glamour, a muscled, brooding hero and a fiery kick-ass heroine. ‘Dancing With Demons’ has all this and much more. Set in the back-drop of boxing sport, the author churns out an emotional tale with interesting backstories and sprinkling of romance.

Karan loses everything when in a moment of anger, he forgets all the rules and injures his opponent during the final of Amateur Boxing championship. He is banned for four years and spurned by his own coach, Jerry, who was his biggest support. 

The story then moves four years ahead. Having no means for a living he takes up Sonia as PG and sets her up in the spare bedroom of his apartment. Sonia is also fighting her own demons from the past and prefers the arrangement with Karan, except that she has an obsession with cleanliness. Despite their resolve to remain indifferent they are drawn to each other and fall in love.

Now that his ban was over, Karan wanted to go back to boxing and redeem himself. ’Dancing With Demons’ is journey of Karan Pratap Singh to reclaim his dominance in the boxing ring against all odds. Sonia’s story is revealed bit by bit, which keeps a reader hooked. 

The main characters are well developed; while Karan has an anger management problem, Sonia is daring and courageous. Amongst the supporting characters I loved the characterization of Madan, who was both shady as well as endearing. He had his own way of showing affection for Karan.

Coming to romance between our two protagonists. I felt that part of relationship needed more attention. Absence of adequate interaction and communication between them left a void in the narrative. My heart went out for Karan when he was dealing with the childhood trauma, but the romance between Karan and Sonia failed to touch my heart.

Language and narration is fantastic. The author has researched the world of boxing very well and the knowledge expertly woven into the narrative gives the story great authenticity. The novel is fast-paced packed with action and drama. An entertaining read.




Disclaimer: I received a paperback version of this book from the author via The Book Club in return for my honest review






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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


The Book Club introduces Nidhie Sharma to you

1. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you start writing?

My journey into the world of storytelling began way before I graduated with honours in English literature and was offered scholarship by the university. The early formative years took me into the world of the Panchatantra and classic English literature while I also watched my mother paint. At the same time, I got introduced to the joys of adventure sports too since my father was in the Armed forces. On hindsight, I think these early influences shaped my storytelling ability, albeit in a visual way.

I read voraciously through my teenage years and graduated to Booker prize winning novels quickly. I think reading good literature is hugely instrumental in widening mental horizons and giving the reader an ability to comprehend complex characters, their emotional and physical graphs, along with a unique insight into the geo-political landscape of the times the novel is set in. All of this is a fantastic bedrock and training ground for good writing.

I started experimenting with poetry and short stories initially, and a lot of the early writing during my childhood happened under the open sky in my garden, lying on the grass, dreaming about heroes, action and adventure.

At the age of twelve, I had written what might now be called a Novella. It was about the daily exploits of a girl and her group of friends and how they explored a new part of the nearby jungle every day, in search of wild animals, thrills, and adventure. It was autobiographical of course and my delighted parents had it printed and bound into a small book. They treasure it to this day.

Studying English literature in college helped me enormously in comprehending and interpreting works of literature and soon after, I started to write book reviews for national newspapers. I also wrote short stories every single day during those college years and I think that has helped me hone my craft.

I realize now that writing a drama set in the world of combat sports, which most critics have called visual and action packed, is no accident. Dancing with Demons is a sum total of all my early influences and experiences.


2. How would you describe your book Dancing with Demons? What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

‘Dancing with Demons’ is a gripping romance drama set against the backdrop of combat sports in India. It is the story of two fallen souls who must vanquish their inner demons to become the people they were destined to be. When the story begins, Karan Pratap Singh, an  angst-ridden boxer and the mysterious and volatile Sonia Kapoor are angry and emotionally damaged by their pasts and when fate throws them together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. "It was some night. Thunder and lightning playing, chasing one another like two furtive, carefree lovers, oblivious to the havoc they were wrecking. Sonia put her hand out of the window as the bus started to hurtle down the highway, to Mumbai. A sliver of lightning fell on the trees just ahead of them, setting a large bush on fire. Then thunder roared again... Perhaps this was an appropriate setting for what was to follow...two tumultuous lives on a head-on collision course.”

This book explores if redemption is possible without forgiveness and also delves into the depth and unsaid connection that Karan and Sonia have with each other. In fact, Sonia’s poems in the novel throw light not only on self-love and forgiveness but also on the passionate and intense relationship that these two anti-heroes share.

“I know I’m not easy to love
On somedays there’s no God above
And maybe it’s a messed up world
Into which we have been hurled
And maybe I remind you of you
So Love yourself darling, to love me too”

Overcoming one's limitations or demons is essential in order to fulfill one's true potential. That is the real core of this story. The good thing is, millions of people find a way to battle and overcome their inner demons. So there is hope for everyone and 'Dancing with Demons' is about that hope. It's about the light at the end of the tunnel.

This novel is a fast-paced story of love, loss and resurrection for both Karan and Sonia.  

3. What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

I was brought up in an army background that exposes you to adventure and the outdoors very early on. Having studied in various army schools across India, I trained in karate, horse-riding and attended adventure camps. Camping, trekking, hiking along with all the unforgettable misadventures shaped my love for the outdoors.

As a teenager, I watched live boxing matches as well. They fascinated me no end. Two men beating the hell out of each other while spectators egged them on. I noticed that every time a boxer bled in the ring, the audience cheered even louder. Human reaction to violence only shows how deep and primal that instinct is and this totally fascinated me back then. I started to watch boxing championships on the internet. Soon I was following the sport like a fan and started going for the big fights to Madison square garden while I was studying filmmaking in New York. I met boxers and coaches out of curiosity and interest. I spent time inside boxing gyms and also started to train and spar.

Personally, I love the raw athleticism in this sport and the fact that it is a skillful craft, needing strategy and forethought . Also, when the boxers fight, it is almost like a dance in the ring, lyrical and rhythmic, and that has drawn me to it visually as well. Given my exposure and interests, I think the stage to write Dancing with Demons, was set long ago.

4. What inspires you to write?

A lot of things actually but my mother’s abstract paintings have been my greatest inspiration. Almost nothing inspires me more than a work of art, even a great piece of music for that matter. The outdoors and the sight of a rising sun sometimes triggers the need to put pen to paper. Since I enjoy observing life and am particularly fascinated by human duality and contradictions, I spend a lot of time creating complex and flawed characters and then throwing them into a world I am familiar with. The writing that follows is automatically organic and un-manipulated. Ultimately for me, it’s almost always about exploring and learning something new through the process of creation.

5. And do you ever have a writer's block? What do you do to get rid of it?

I am very passionate about the stories I want to tell and on most days I don’t feel the block but when I do, I think discipline helps. I’ve realized through personal experience that showing up in front of that laptop every single day is the only way to beat it.


6. Who are your favourite writers and poets and have they in anyway motivated you to be better at your craft? If so, how?

My favorite writers are Rohinton Mistry, Ian Mcewan, Maya Angelou, Kiran Desai, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Samuel Beckett, John Donne and T.S Eliot, to name a few. The unparalleled quality of their writing is a huge motivation for any young storyteller and I’m no exception. Like I mentioned earlier, my journey into the world of writing began with reading good literature and I strive every single day to better my craft.

7. Apart from writing what are your other interests?

I enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports, photography, watching plays and music of all genres.

8. You are also a filmmaker, how do you juggle between both the crafts?

The first step for a Writer-Director like me is to put an interesting story in place and once that is accomplished, then it’s all about visually interpreting and executing it.

As a filmmaker, I think I  am lucky to have a unique advantage by virtue of being a novelist too. It has given me a deeper understanding of story, characterization, plot, subplots, genres, mood and tone,  all of which are an essential part of building an engaging narrative, be it for a movie or a novel. I also have greater understanding of the source material (the novel) and the training to adapt it for the screen. Infact, I have already finished adapting ‘Dancing with Demons’ into a screenplay and thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Although Cinema and literature are principally two different mediums, both aim at telling an interesting story well and despite their own unique challenges and audiences, I think it is possible to straddle them equally well if one has the talent, passion and training for storytelling.

Personally, I fell blessed that I am able to juggle between these two crafts and I’m having a lot of fun doing so.

9. Finally, what is your next novel going to be about and where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I write every single day and am sure the next story will find me soon enough.

The journey for ‘Dancing with Demons’ is still on and my full focus and energies at the moment are on directing the film.

I am a filmmaker-novelist and that’s all I know, so that’s where you’ll find me even five years down the line.



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Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Blitz :: 'THE SECRET OF GOD'S SON' by Usha Narayanan


BOOK BLITZ

THE SECRET OF GOD'S SON
by
Usha Narayanan




Blurb

'The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka.
People will forget your name and your Gita!
May the world perish!

May the world perish!'

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga. 

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. To journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. In order to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back—his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts… He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery. And there is one powerful weapon still…the secret surrounding Pradyumna’s origin.  

Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? 

In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity! 


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About the author


USHA NARAYANAN

Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a light-hearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, which was published in July 2015. 

When she’s not juggling travel, writing and interviews, Usha reads everything from thrillers to romances, provided her cat isn’t fast asleep on her Kindle. She would love to hear from her readers here: author@ushanarayanan.com 

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Website | Facebook | Twitter 


Media mentions


Praise for Pradyumna: Son of Krishna

Usha Narayanan has taken a quantum leap . . . to the outright spine-tingling narrative from the leaves of a time before. This book is Indian writing coming of age" Femina

"Like the best of our mythological tales, this too, is a multilayered one . . .There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception" The Hindu

"This engrossing tale takes readers on a mythological saga" Times of India


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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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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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