Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Book Review: Nagin by Mayur Didolkar

Title: Nagin
Author: Mayur Didolkar
Publisher: Juggernaut

Mayur Didolkar’s Nagin is a collection of nine short stories, each dealing in supernatural beings. The stories do not conform to a particular time and place and this makes it all the more appealing. The age old concepts of vish kanyas, vidrupas, and ichhadhari nags and nagins all come together — both in urban and rural settings — to create a world that is different yet bearing similarity with the realities around us.

The blurb reads: “Loving wife, obedient daughter, loyal friend. But if you provoke her, she will raise her hood and spit venom.” It is a little misleading since it’s not just women who are protagonists in all nine of the stories. But there’s nothing to complain since the stories themselves fulfill the promise of being entertaining.

All nine stories are exquisitely crafted. Some of the stories hold a sense of hope and humanity in bleak situations. One will be left guessing while reading the stories since each is replete with unforeseeable twists and turns. Didolakar’s writing is simple and straight forward. However, some stories are more successful than others. ‘Ranbhool,’ ‘A Little Poison Doesn’t Hurt,’ and ‘Watching You’ are stories that will keep you guessing till the very end about what to expect.

The author emerges as a capable player in a game of shape-shifters, ruthless babas, malevolent masterminds, and sundry secrets in settings that wander between natural and supernatural worlds, alternate realities blending with elective affinities.

Quirky in presentation and good read throughout, Didolkar’s yarn pleases at every turn.

Mayur Didolkar has published two novels – The Dark Road and Tears for Strangers – and several short stories, all with Juggernaut. A crime and horror writer, the possibility of things going dreadfully, irrevocably wrong in ordinary situations inspires his work. Mayur is also a marathon runner and occasionally tries his hand at stand-up comedy. He lives in Pune where he runs an investment advisory firm.

I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading! 

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in

Friday, June 1, 2018

Book Review: Who Owns That Song - The Battle for Subramania Bharati's Copyright by A.R. Venkatachalapathy

Title: Who Owns That Song - The Battle for Subramania Bharati's Copyright
Author: A.R. Venkatachalapathy
Publisher: Juggernaut

Not many know why there’s such a fuss about Subramania Bharati or his literary works. That he’s a gem of a poet is known only to a fraction of the Indian population. The reason is not exactly ignorance or lack of interest. It’s more to do with the fact that his genius remains untapped in the global language. An activist, journalist, and a freedom fighter, Bharati wrote in Tamil and only a fraction of his works has been translated. Some of these have failed to evoke the true essence of the magic that his own words spun in Tamil. Till date he remains an unsung poet whose work has been exploited and gathered momentum only at the face of a legal battle.

Born in Ettayapuram in 1882, Subramania Bharati was a social activist, journalist, and poet. He wrote thousands of verses throughout his lifetime on subjects as diverse as nationalism, the Tamil way of life, religion, children’s poems, and elegies to freedom fighters. However, he only attained fame posthumously when his half-brother, who held the copyright of his work, went on to publish the same. Others were profiting out of Bharati’s works even as his own family was in the doldrums. With filmmakers and publishers vying to acquire copyright to his works, legal battles for the rights were fought.

AR Venkatachallapathy’s ‘Who Owns That Song? — The Battle for Subramania Bharati’s Copyright’ is a story of the events that led to the nationalisation of the great poet’s work. In this book, Venkatachallapathy chronicles Bharati’s journey as an artist and how his works changed hands several times before finally being released by the government into the public domain, free of any copyright claim.

The way this book has been assembled is commendable. It is not Bharati’s biography even though it provides the readers with a glimpse into the author’s life. One can also get a sense of the narrow world of publication and of copyright laws of the past years. It is a valuable resource for those burning with the desire to understand the question – who does an artist belong to? This book raises the question of whether an individual's work should be dropped into the public domain for people to make use of as they wish instead of being passed down generations as family heirloom.

A skillfully written, well-researched account of one of our greatest poets and his posthumous fame.

A.R. Venkatachalapathy, historian, writer and translator, is a professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. He has taught at universities in Tirunelveli, Chennai, Singapore and Chicago, and published widely on the social, cultural and intellectual history of colonial Tamil Nadu.

I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading! 

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in, Goodreads.in

Friday, May 25, 2018

Book Blitz: The Unity Game by Leonora Meriel

About the Book:


A New York banker is descending into madness. 

A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive. 

A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones. 

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible. 

Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a 'complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel' from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Book Links:

Meet the Characters:

The Setting: Earth

New York City. The 1990s. One of the world’s leading investment banks.

The Setting: Space

A distant planet. A dry surface orbited by three red moons and circling a distant sun. An advanced civilization living in underground chambers.

The Setting: Death

An open door. A library. A room of knowledge. A garden of dazzling color. The answers to every question that has ever been asked on Earth.

Meet David

A brilliant scientist and wildly ambitious, David abandoned an academic path to follow the glow of Wall Street money. From a small town in Canada, he is now determined to make the riches he has given up his scientific talents for. He is always on edge, he must prove he is better than the other bankers, he has to win the best deals. However, he is easy pickings for the multi-million dollar bosses who see how they can use a greedy, naïve young man for their own purposes. David falls further into risk, mistakes and desperation, clutching at anything around him as his dreams and world falls apart.

Meet Noe-bouk

Dry dust. Three red moons. A member of one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe, taught to believe that all the answers come naturally from the incontrovertible logic of the greatest good. Now, facing death, Noe-bouk decides to find out if there is something more than what he has been taught. Accepting a place on a space ship, the further he gets from the moons of Home Planet the more he understands that he knows nothing at all…

Meet Alisdair

A respected lawyer. An adoring grandfather. Alisdair collapses outside his law offices in London and finds himself standing beside his unmoving corpse. He feels wonderful! He spots some wide open doors and bounds through them to discover a library, a garden, and his dead wife. All his life he has burned with the questions of the universe: what is the purpose of existence? What is good and evil? How far does the infinite stretch? With an afterworld guide and his wife at his side, his only limits now are to come up with new questions as all of his horizons expand beyond imagination…

Meet Elspeth

Beautiful, young, angry. Apart from her beloved grandfather Alisdair, Elspeth has been let down by everyone in her life. She’s rejected her parents and their easy choices, she sees no meaning in the structures of society. She has always felt lost, and now the death of her grandfather is forcing her to make choices. With some money he has left her, she decides to follow a feeling and go on an adventure.

Meet Socrates

Legendary philosopher, pion of bravery and morality, a figure so strong his ideas and presence pervade the centuries and the dimensions of time and space. Who else would Alisdair call upon in the afterworld to help his granddaughter Elspeth, than the man he has revered his entire life, and whose teachings guided him? Yes, Elspeth can be helped, but she must be brought together with another soul – one who has truly lost their path.

Reviews for The Unity Game

 “A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer

“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

About the Author:

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

Contact the Author:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Author Interview: Katja Vartiainen, Author of Half Done Fun

Katja Vartiainen is a Master of Fine Arts, painting. She calls herself a multi-dilettante because she  has done doodle books, illustration, two graphic novels, teaching, and even upholstery. Her visual inspiration comes from fine arts as well as from everything on this curious, tragicomic piece of  a rock, and its creatures floating in space.

With her husband they share a taste for humour, cats, and nature. They live in Southern Germany.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/a storyteller?
Well, let's put aside the fact that I have been foremostly a painter, and every picture is worth a thousand words. Or so they say...
My husband and I joked about our kitchen's messiness. Clearly, the elves hadn't done their job- and then that led into a picture book that my husband wrote and I illustrated. I realized then, that I had all these extra plot twists and ideas, and so, I decided to continue the story and did my first graphic novel. So, I started late, that was 2015, I was 40 round years old.

What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?
Some ideas don't seem to leave me alone. So, I have put them into creative work. I would like to wake people up to the ecological mess we are in, but I don't want to get too preachy. Humour helps to get the medicine down. I hope.
I believe everything influences everything. My inspiration is thus everything I have come into touch with.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
My last book, 'Half Done Fun', is actually a drawing book. The third one. It came about when I realized that people want draw, and rehearse drawing, but don't have the energy to start or to choose what to draw. So, in 'Half Done Fun', as the title hints, the pictures are vertically half done. You can relax and concentrate on the drawing.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.
Isn't this too difficult for kids of 11, 12 etc years old?
No. Many people think that you can  give kids bad paper, cheap colors, insufficient models and tacky exercises to teach them art and creativity, but this is all wrong. Even though the 11 year old doesn't know how to finish the picture perfectly, you give her/him the correct example. And decent materials!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes. Writing is new to me. Painting has always been easy to start, but since I've written two graphic novels with my second language, I have had a feeling of inadequacy at times. Also, since I do both the text and the illustration, I have hard time choosing which to start first.  What to do? Just do. Write, write, write. What a waste of time thinking about that you can't write, when you could be writing.

What are your current/future projects?
Current/future project is an old story, or myth, or teaching, I want to rewrite and draw. Graphic novel meets maybe a picture book kind of thing. But it will take time.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
It seemed that comics/graphic novels would be the perfect medium for me,  a painter, who wants to tell a story. And even though I had clear panels in my books, the possibilities to play with a page seem endless. As for the doodle books- well, I feel a bit of a missionary. I also have studied art pedagogy for a year. To draw is so amazing and fulfilling, I want people to try it and find new sides of themselves. Especially in our age of swiping screens.
As to the field IN graphic novels/comics, I naturally went into comedy, parody, because I like to laugh. I find the world a tragicomic. Through comedy one can tackle a lot of serious stuff, but it is difficult. Real humour requires intelligence but can't lack character either.

Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I'm indie, I guess because I could not wait to get my stuff out there. The internet and digitalization has brought wonderful possibilities and I wanted to take advantage of them. We did try to publish our picture book (for adults, but no sex) traditionally, and I realized how difficult it is for books with colours and the whole concept. It seemed valuable time was waisted, so we went through Createspace, Amazon, and I continued with that. I also realized I enjoyed to have the control of it all. But I'm not a fanatic, I could publish traditionally if contracts were good. It definitely seems to have its benefits.

How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?
I found perseverance in myself, in amounts, I could not believe, in doing my books. I learned how to make comics digitally, from the internet.  I learned layout programs, speech bubbles, etc etc. I made lots of mistakes. I learned a huge amount of technical stuff, and then the whole 'getting the message out there' side. It has been very interesting, time consuming, but rewarding. I hope my husband agrees, ha ha. I've also found new authors and comic book creators whose work I enjoy.
I have gotten really good feedback from my doodle books. The comics as well, but they are a weird genre. They have an ecological message with a smile, and I hope people find them.

Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
If you have no reviews, it's as if your book seems to have lethal, infectious disease, and everyone avoids it. Regarding Amazon, there's a certain amount of reviews  that makes your book appear more frequently in the search.  It would be great that people would take a risk with a book, but we so often want the pros and the cons...Reviews do count. With comics it's also word to mouth that puts your work out there.

What is the intended audience for you book?
For 'Half Done Fun', 11 years upwards, also adults, who want to practice drawing, or relax by doing something  a bit creative. The graphic novels have some cursing, so +12.

If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
Express yourself, AND save the planet!

What would you like to write about that you have never written about before?
An actual fictional book, with text only, and no support from images.

Do you have a subject/genre you would never write about, why?
Never say never, but I think there's a few! Zombies/horror/gore- they give me nightmares. Romance, maybe. But, I feel it's a crime to make big statements of this kind.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
This and the previous doodle books are pretty neutral in style. It's on purpose, because the idea is not that you draw like me, but you find out HOW YOU draw. My books are hopeful.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read all the time. I have several books I am reading in the mornings and evenings, and I love to read. There are so many good authors. From the traditional, I find myself fascinated at the moment by Doris Lessing's sci-fi, Ursula K. le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut, Rosa Liksom. Joseph Campbell, although non-fiction. I've enjoyed from comics: The Mountain, Papergirls, Saga- and so many more. This is impossible! Jonathan Dunne is an indie favourite, and then there's poetry, and all these preferences change during months.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself/ your book.
I'll mix them. 1. I love cats 2. I do homages in my graphic novels to my favourite  series etc.  3. Half Done Fun got started by the title. It just popped I to my head, so a book had to follow.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I post my art every Thursday on social media, and my web page, for you to enjoy. And my news! And I'm in Goodreads, etc etc, meet you there! Thanks for the Interview, this was fun!

Half Done Fun is an entertaining drawing/doodle book that makes it easier for those who want to practice their drawing and observation skills. It offers symmetrical (or closely symmetrical) things, humans, and animals that are half drawn so you can focus on finishing the other half and not worrying about 'what to draw'.

For children over 11 years and adults, as well.

                Amazon  *  Goodreads *  Facebook  *  Instagram  *  Pinterest

Thank you for this amazing interview! I wish you success for all your future works. Keep writing!

Book Blitz: Castles in the Air by Sangeet Sharma

About the Book:

Publisher: Rumour Book India
Edition: First edition (2017)
ISBN: 978-1945563850
Genre: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 234
Price: 299/-

Laughter is said to be the best elixir and the book is a satire on architecture written by one who knows the bricks and concrete of the profession by heart.

The author, an architect himself, delves into the journey of a professional practice. The book is witty with acerbic humor.

Word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, every scene unfolds like a screenplay, leaving the reader amazed with the brutalities of life in architecture, and life itself.

Book Links:

Reviews for the Book:

About the Author:

Sangeet Sharma is a practicing architect in Chandigarh. He is a partner in SD Sharma & Associates, a well-known firm of the region founded by his father Ar. SD Sharma, an eminent Architect. Widely acknowledged and awarded Ar. Sangeet Sharma commands an undisputed international reputation in profession. Carrying forward the legacy and vocabulary established by his father he is fascinated by geometrical forms. 
By looking at every drawn line as built spaces he follows a certain rationale to his reflective practice. His buildings are based on sustainable applications.
He is a multifaceted personality. He is a poet, Architectural critic, writer, artist and author. He has authored Architecture, Life and Me, published by Rupa and Co., a memoir that takes an all-round view of the profession.

Contact the Author:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Blitz: Daughter of the Sun by Zoe Kalo

Daughter of the Sun
~ Cult of the Cat Series Book 1 ~

About the Book:

Title: Daughter of the Sun
Series: Cult of the Cat Series, Book 1
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy / Paranormal
Word Count: 93,000 words
No. of Pages: 330

Mystery, adventure, a hint of romance, and the delicious sweep of magic...

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew. 

But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities. 

Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.

Get Your Copy of this Book. Available for FREE for a LIMITED TIME ONLY! 

About the Author:

Storyteller at heart...

A certified bookworm and ailurophile, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has remained. Today, Zoe passes her stories to you with lots of mystery, adventure, a hint of romance, and the delicious sweep of magic.

Currently, she balances writing with spending time with her family, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.

Contact the Author:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Blitz: 3 Peaks of Happiness by AiR

Book Info:

Publisher: AiR Foundation
ISBN: 9789352814466
Genre: Non-Fiction / Self Help
Format: Paperback
Pages: 167
Price: 200/-

Book Blurb:

The whole world is seeking happiness. Who doesn't want to be happy? But is everyone happy? Discover the most fulfilling journey to bliss and ultimate everlasting happiness.
There are three peaks of happiness. Most of humanity lives and dies on the first peak, being glad and being sad, experiencing joy and sorrow like a yo-yo.

Twenty percent of humanity is fortunate to live a life of contentment on the Second Peak of Happiness that offers tremendous joy and peace.

A small fraction of humanity goes on a quest for the third peak. The Third Peak not only gives one eternal bliss, everlasting joy, and peace, but also gives one freedom from problems, worries, and pain!

This book is a personal experience of such a traveler who climbed all the three peaks. He shares his journey and shows you the way to the Third and Ultimate Peak of Happiness.

“You can be as happy as you want to be. True Happiness, Ultimate Bliss lies beyond a pursuit of Pleasure and Peace. It is experienced by those who Discover the Purpose of Life!”

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Happiness is a Journey
The whole world is seeking happiness. In fact, it seems like we are all on an eternal journey to destination happiness. Yes, happiness is a journey, but not many people know that it is the path itself. You cannot get happiness, but you can be happy. While there is no one on earth who doesn’t seek this treasure, there are only a few who truly understand what happiness is.

Do you know that you can choose to be happy or unhappy? Happiness doesn’t just happen; it is a choice you make”  -RVM

What is Happiness?
  Happiness is a state of mind. It’s a state of joy, bliss and cheer. It is an emotion- energy in motion- that makes one glad, just as unhappiness is an emotion, that makes one sad. A happy person is joyous and he smiles and laughs just as unhappy person frowns and cries. We feel happy and it shows. Happiness radiates through cheerfulness and enthusiasm. Although happiness may be a common word, it is often quite tricky to define or explain “Happiness”.

Everyone wants to be happy
Who doesn’t want to be happy? Everybody on earth wants happiness, whether one is a baby or an adult, be it man or a woman, Indian or American, black or white, or rich or poor, who doesn’t want to be happy? Everybody alive on this planet seeks happiness. Not just human being, it seems even animals wants to be happy. We see that dogs wag its tail in joy, birds fly in the sky, fish swirl in the water, and the peacock open their wings to dance in bliss. Don’t you think they all seek happiness too? Everybody wants to be happy.

If you were to ask different people around the globe, what they are seeking, you would get different answers from each one. But if you further ask them, why they are seeking it, you would get a common answer from all- “Happiness”. The goal of life is happiness. Everyone wants to be happy, and people do different things to achieve this one objective. To a businessman, a successful business brings happiness. To artists, it may be a creative product that is born out of their imagination. A student may be happy with excellence in exams, just as a politicians is blissful on winning an election. We all do different things, but whatever we do, the goal is one: We all want to be happy!

If you have not learnt anything, but have learnt one thing that the goal of life is to be happy, you have learnt everything!” - RVM 

About the Author:

AiR – Atman in Ravi, or the Soul in Ravi, is an embodied soul whose only mission in life is to realize the Truth and help people realize the Truth. 
He was born on October 15, 1966 in Bangalore, as Ravi V. Melwani. At a very young age, he mastered the craft of business and became a very successful businessman who revolutionized retailing in India with the stores Kids Kemp, Big Kids Kemp, and Kemp Fort. After making millions, he realized that life is not just about making money. He shut down his business at the age of 40, transformed his life to RVM living by the RVM philosophy – Rejoice, Value Life, and Make a Difference. He started doing H.I.S. work – Humanitarian, Inspirational and Spiritual work. His mission was to “Make a Difference” in this world before his journey was over.