Friday 11 September 2015

Review: The Solitary Shores by Preeth Nambiar

“Preeth Nambiar is a poet who delves deep into his consciousness to evoke the words that bring images to life.”

Good poems are hard to come by and I am privileged that Mr. Preeth Nambiar chose me to review his second book, titled “The Solitary Shores” because of which I had the opportunity to read such intense, gripping and lovely poems.

To begin with I loved the images, especially the one he has used as the book cover. It’s as if the carriage is waiting for the reader to climb aboard so that it can take him/her on a long journey through hills and valleys and together discover the beauty of nature and appreciate the work of the divine.

I enjoyed reading all the poems, but a few of them just refuse to leave my side -

It Is Raining My Dear

This poem spoke to me in ways I cannot comprehend. The sound of the rains, the sight of the rusted grills and the poet looking out into the horizon, hoping that the words would come and he could complete the poem he was asked to write. The use of imagery is superb! While reading the poem, I could not stop the tears from flowing.

Letter to my Father

“Be the moonlight in this darkness that takes me from the depth of madness, sing a lullaby when the nightmares shake me up!” This poem has the power to take you to another world, to bring back memories of yester years. Readers may interpret the poem in many ways, but to me it symbolized the love of a father; unselfish, forgiving and tender!

The Fragrance of Life

Life is made up of different hues and fragrances and that is very spoken about very deeply in this poem. As I sat reading this one, I could feel the pain evident in the lines. As I went from one line to another I was left with a feeling of dread. I could feel the sandalwood burning and its fragrance spreading through the air.Touching and deep!!

All the poems in this book are mesmerizing. They oscillate between life and death, which are both very difficult topics to write about. Preeth Nambiar has the gift of using his pen to evoke images that are real and painful, but in a certain mysterious way. As you read these poems you cannot help, but question your existence and in turn understand your purpose on Earth better!

About the Author -

Journalist, litterateur and humanitarian, Preeth Nambiar hails from the northern part of Indian state, Kerala in the southwest region of India on the Malabar Coast. Born in an ancient aristocratic family that carried the rich cultural heritage of Southern India, his works reflect greatly the rudiments of music, arts and devoutness that were acquired from the very atmosphere of early childhood and the later life of journeys across the virgin lands of India and abroad prepared him for a broader perspective of universal existence that has a great role in defining his poetry and other works. 

He is renowned for the eloquence in narration and for the meditative tunes in his works whereas the elements of mysticism confer him the position of one of the most significant contemporary mystic poets in the tradition of the greatest Indian Mystics. He was awarded with prestigious Yayati Madan G Gandhi International Award for Poetry in 2014 and his works are being broadcasted by Celestial Radio, London, UK and are being showcased in many international publications. He is also an ardent photographer who absorbs the myriad moods of the nature through the lens.

After serving the University of Cambridge international Examinations in the Maldives as the head of the Department of ESOL, he is presently living in India contributing greatly to media and literature.

Links to author’s profile -

Google Plus Page:

Books available at -

The Solitary Shores (First Edition, 2015) (Hardcover)
The Solitary Shores [Kindle Edition]
Global Fraternity of Poets Book Store

Sunday 2 August 2015

Review of Not Totally Unbelievable

Name of the Book – Not Totally Unbelievable
Author – Vibhuti Bhandarkar
Publisher – Frog Books
Price – Rs. 95

The last 2 months have just passed me by; with my son on vacation , I hardly had any time to read and write. I missed that, but in the process made so many new memories with him that I can’t complain. Motherhood is the best thing to have happened to me  and I am sure Vibhuti would agree  since she has two kids of her own!!

The author of “Not Totally Unbelieveable” and I connected through Facebook. As time went by we exchanged numbers and connected through Whatsapp too….This is Vibhuti’s first published collection of stories for young adults and I must say it is an interesting read…One of the few books that I finished in one sitting…Below is the detailed review.

Blurb -

Lin delves into her knowledge of the magical powers of the Tisane to solve the problem that her elder sister Liu is facing at The Lingnan Tea House. Dereck has accidentally slipped into a seemingly unending black hole while trekking in the Black Forests of Germany. His whole life flashes before his eyes as he travels down the dark tunnel. Once out in broad daylight, he is surprised to be alive and shocked to find himself in India. One evening a teenager looks up from the book she is reading and finds a phantom staring her in the face, floating between her mother's white roses, just a few steps away from her. On another day Daddy's bike journey once again very mysteriously comes to a similar end like always, almost like a decree from God. From Meera, a young teenager, life seems to have always turned a deaf ear towards her. One day she finally decides to step off into oblivion. She goes unheard. 'Not Totally Unbelievable' is a collection of 10 short stories narrating the extra-ordinary experiences in the lives of the seemingly most ordinary people from the Occident, Orient and India. These pieces of fiction are essentially true stories that will compel one to believe in the mysterious, magical powers and forces around us, within us. 

What I feel -

This book was a welcome break for me; it was actually like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer day. Reading the novel  Aarushi was making me very emotional, every line was tugging at my heart strings and there I see Vibhuti’s book in my mailbox and jump at the chance of reading something that will divert my mind.

When I began the book I just stared at the words and marveled at the use of language - Simple and appropriate, the book had my attention! All  the 10 stories in the book appealed to me, but I especially liked - At the Lingnan Tea House, Trekking through time, A little thing called love, Ninny and The Wordsmith.

At the Lingnan Tea House - I liked the author’s use of narration, description and dialoges. The way she has described the love between the two sisters – Lin and Liu and the way they  look out for each other is done very subtly, but is so strong that you can feel it in the narrative. I actually felt I was sitting there at the Lingnam Tea House sipping tea!

Trekking through time - This story shocked me. I never expected the ending to be like that! Here I am making up my own story about Dereck and all of a sudden it all goes up in flames….Interesting ending. You have to read it to know what I am talking about.

A little thing called love - This story just pulled at my heart strings and a few tears escaped my eyes It may be a simple story that has been told many times before, but the way the author has handled he subject is nice….the little details showing disappointment, heartache, concern and love are well written.

Ninny - I love the jab at the Educational system. Being a teacher, I know how harmful words can be and how they can discourage and demotivate a child. Ninny’s feelings, his belief in himself, the support from his family, his inquisitive mind and the way he rises above it all is well described in this story. If you are looking for a story with a message…this is one!

The Wordsmith Suma has dreams and I like the way she works towards making them come true. I like her sense of observation, the way she deals with the devil in her head and yes, I loved the ending. I just wasn’t expecting something like that!

The author, Vibhuti Bhandarkar does have a unique style of writing, along with a good understanding of the English language.4 years have passed since she wrote this book and I am sure that she has now honed her skills further and is ready to share her new book with the world. Keep on writing Vibhuti…You are blessed with the wonderful gift of weaving interesting and heart touching stories!

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Review of FLAKE - Friendship Love and Killer Escapades

Name of the Book - FLAKE - Friendship Love and Killer Escapades
Authors - Pankaj Giri and Apoorv Wanikar
Publishers - Pen Publications
Price - Paperback Version - 150
Kindle - 127

Blurb -

Prakash Bharti: a shy, self-effacing, spiritually-inclined simpleton from Gangtok; Purvesh Shroff: a cocky, strapping young lad from Mumbai; Richa Malhotra: a sweet, vivacious girl from Bangalore; Anand Kumar Rajput: a mysterious, enigmatic personality from Jharkhand. Friendship, Love and Killer Escapades (FLAKE) is a captivating story, primarily revolving around four protagonists pursuing engineering courses in a run-of-the-mill institute in Bangalore. The story encompasses a unique, intriguing, realistic love plot between Purvesh and Richa, numerous escapades, and thrilling adventures. Throughout the four-year roller-coaster, the academic and personal fortunes of the chief personas fluctuates à la the great Indian stock market! What impact will the inscrutable character, Anand, have in the lives of Prakash and the other protagonists? Will Purvesh and Richa succeed in sustaining their relationship over time? Will Prakash be able to transcend the stage of infatuation and eventually fall in love? What predicaments will Prakash and friends encounter in the academic journey? Read more to find out. Ready, FLAKE, Go!

My Review

When I was asked to review the book FLAKE - Friendship, Love and Killer Escapades I was really excited. One because the title seemed interesting and second, it was co-authored by someone from Gantok, a place very close to my hometown. Pankaj sent me a pdf version of the book as soon as it was out in the market. This review frankly states what I feel about the book. I understand that the authors have worked hard on the novel and I hope that after reading they will not be disheartened, but work towards weaving better stories in future.

Here it goes

I began reading this book sometime early this month. I started with great enthusiasm, but somewhere along the way I was not sure I wanted to complete the novel. Why? To begin with the story is simple and predictable! The authors have woven a story that they felt would appeal to the masses, but in this endeavor they did not realize that the only people who would actually relate to the novel are 18 to 25 year olds who would be just starting college or who have just finished college and can relate to the experiences. Well to think of it .. I guess it is a large enough crowd :) !!

Soon I lowered my expectations and continued reading the story, despite the fact that the words used in most parts of the book just did not appeal to me. As a language teacher, the words like – hitherto, anent, ere, ergo and the improper use of some words along with a few grammatical errors just stood out of the page and demanded more of my attention that the story itself. Some of the words used are out of context and difficult to comprehend. In some sentences, the words can be understood from the context, but in others the reader would have to keep a dictionary handy to understand the meaning of the sentence.

Being a feminist, another thing that did not appeal to me was the way the women are described - Charlie’s Angels are “voluptuous,” a simple girl in a Kurta is shown as a “good” girl while someone who wears short skirts, tight jeans and/or smokes is described in poor light! This is not what I expect from the young writers of today!! Having said this I am sure that the writer's perception does not match mine and that they had no idea that what they have written could be interpreted or misinterpreted like this ;)

I wish Pankaj and Apoorv all the best for the future!

Links - 

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Interview - Author Devika Fernando


   About the Author -

Almost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Her trademark is writing sweet, yet deeply emotional romance stories where the characters actually fall in love instead of merely falling in lust. What she loves most about being an author is the chance to create new worlds and send her protagonists on a journey full of ups and downs that will leave them changed. She draws inspiration from everyone and everything in life. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a self-employed German web content writer, as a translator, and as a faithful servant to all the cats, dogs, fish and birds in her home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing.

    Romance Novel Author – How did you choose this particular genre?

I think it chose me. ;-) I just always knew that if I’d really finally write a novel, it would be a romance novel. And most of my poems (which I wrote before writing prose) were about love in one way or another.

Which of your books is closest to your heart? Why?

That’s a bit like asking a mother which of her children she loves most. :D If I have to choose, it would be my latest release, “Saved in Sri Lanka”. It is set in Sri Lanka, and a little of the heroine was modeled after me and inspired from real life (and I won’t say what).

What is your next book about?

I am currently working on the sequel to my paranormal romance novel “Playing with Fire”. It’s called “Dancing with Fire” and will be Book 2 in the FIRE Trilogy. It’s about fire witch Felicia and ice wizard Joshua meeting another gifted person in Iceland. While Felicia deals with unwanted attraction and struggles to train her magic, they’re facing one catastrophe after the other that might mean the end of the world.

Animal lover, content writer, author and translator. How do you find time for yourself? Please tell us a little about your writing routine?

Good question. I wish the day had 48 hours... My main job is writing non-fiction, and I work on that from morning until afternoon, with breaks for meals and some housework in between. If I am not totally swamped with work, then I’ll reserve the evening for fiction writing. I always try and write a chapter in one go. I work on Saturdays too, but I usually take Sundays off to read, read, and read.

What do you look for in a book?

That depends on the genre and the reason why I picked it up in the first place. Generally speaking, the story should pull me in from the first page or chapter. And I want the characters to feel real and to develop over the course of the story. I’m also really fond of a happy ending. 
Your favorite quote?

So many... Let me settle on this nugget of wisdom by Rumi: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

I am sure that you have received a lot of reviews about your books...what is the nicest and the most critical review you have received so far?

The nicest one was comparing me to the famous author Nora Roberts, who I admire a lot and whose books are a great source of inspiration. The most critical one pointed out that I tend to get so lost in descriptions and details that action is lagging behind a bit.

How do you spend your time on weekends?

Reading. It’s by far my preferred hobby. But I’ll also watch television with my husband, dedicate more time to my 2 cats and 4 dogs, and write all those messages and e-mails to my friends from around the globe for which I don’t have enough time during the week.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for and why?

I wish I wouldn’t get motion-sick, so I could travel this beautiful country and the rest of the world.

Links -

Saturday 30 May 2015

Guest Post by Neil D'Silva

Neil and I connected through his brother Roy who I had worked with previously in Pune. Soon, we began chatting about my books and marketing strategies. It was around the same time that Neil launched his first book – Maya’s New Husband, which went on to become a bestseller. Today, Neil shares his experience with budding authors and interested readers on my blog. 

Thanks for sharing Neil and all the best for your forthcoming projects!

Maya’s New Husband: How I Wrote a Bestseller

Despite being a debut novel, Maya’s New Husband has gone on to rank at #1 on Amazon shortly after its paperback release, win awards, and earn a considerable amount of critical appreciation. People usually ask me questions on how I did it, and this is my humble attempt to guide others who might wish to take something from my experience.

Be Inspired

You cannot write a good book if you aren’t inspired by a story. Do not go looking for inspiration; let it hit you. This inspiration could be just a thought, or a story you hear, or something you see, but it should have an impact on you.

For me, it happened when I was on a holiday in Goa. While spending a cozy evening with my wife in the balcony of our room that faced the Calangute Beach, and seeing the happy couples holding hands and sharing their love, a thought entered my mind—How much of each other do these couples really know? What if one of these has a dark unmentionable secret?

The idea shook me to the core. Thus, the grain of Maya’s New Husband was born.

Build an Outline

You may be a plotter or a pantser, it doesn’t really matter. I am a bit of both. I plot the beginning and the end of the story, and a few of the vital scenes that occur in between. But a lot of the flow occurs when you actually sit down and write. If you are really convinced in your work, trust me, your story will begin writing itself.

Feel Your Characters

In any story, the characters are the most important. Every aspect of them has to be pat down, and the author must know fully well how the characters would react in different situations. With my book, I started with the titular husband first. I closed my eyes until I could actually see Bhaskar Sadachari in my mind, every wrinkle on his face, and I put him into different situations mentally and decided how he would react. I did the same with the protagonist, Maya Bhargava, and the rest of the characters. For me, it helped to establish physical traits first and then the behavioral aspects.

Being True to Genre

My book is a horror-thriller. When I began, a question that loomed large in my head as to how horrific I wanted it to be. Tales of aghoris and tantriks are common. But I intended to write a very different tale. Though it had a dark aspect of our Indian lore as its basic theme, I wanted it to be an urban story. I wanted no clichés. Hence, I decided on all-out, no-holds-barred horror.

At times, the story was so chilling that I could not write it at nights. I had to shut down even in the middle of a totally intriguing scene, because the horror was that difficult to take. But that made me sure of one thing—this was the right direction to take if I was writing horror. Horror is, after all, meant to horrify.

That’s the way it should be. You should feel the genre you are writing in. If it is humor, you should laugh at the jokes first. If it is romance, you should feel the pangs.

The Writing and The Editing

I wrote Maya’s New Husband quite fast, and for that the credit goes to NaNoWriMo 2014. The initial manuscript of the book was written in this month of November, and I became a winner as well. That was my first accolade for writing. I wrote around 3000-6000 words a day. Once you have the entire outline in your mind, the going gets easy.

I moved away from the book for three weeks and then got to editing around mid-December. Editing was furious, and I did my own stuff as well as incorporated suggestions from various people I had sent the book out to. Every word was weighed against its value, and the final product was ready by January 2015.

A Book Is Never Done

I always maintain that the actual work of a writer begins after penning the words ‘The End’. Completing a book is of no avail if no one reads it. For Maya’s New Husband, I did quite a few things, including creating a platform on Facebook and Twitter, building my website to reflect my writing, collaborate with other writers for cross-promotions, submit my book to awards (MNH has won at the Literary Awards 2015 in The Entertainer category) among other things.

But the best bit of advice I can give is this: The greatest advertisement for a writer is to write another book. So don’t stop! You never know which of your books will hit the mark, and that will create an interest in your other books as well. I wrote The Evil Eye and The Charm three months after MNH and that has helped me immensely.

So, keep writing, and take care!

You can contact him at -

Monday 18 May 2015

Review of God's Table


God’s Table
The Last Supper


Santosh Avvanavar
Jyoti Byahatti
Dr. Sandeep Huilgol


A noble couple. In noble professions. He’s a doctor and she’s a teacher.

What do they discuss over meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner? They are perturbed by the social, moral, economical and anthropological issues plaguing our country these days.

Meet Amrita and Robert, a couple who will speak on behalf of you. Witness their daily discussions on problems you think are worth talking about. Education, Medication, Elections, Corruptions, Honour Killing, Child Marriage, Social Media – you name it and the disease has already made deep wounds in our country’s body and soul.

God comes to rescue along with Amrita and Robert. Delve into the gospels and teachings of God to find a solution to each malady, if you wish to accept it.

Authors Santosh Avvanavar, Jyothi Byahatti and Dr. Sandeep Huilgo present a unique fiction in conversations to remind you how God would have faced and erased a few of our society’s key problems.

More about the book

The book begins by talking more about “The Last Supper” the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. It refers to the gospel of John to highlight the issues that have spread around us and threaten to break us slowly. The book itself is divided into 12 categories which are referred to as the “Menu.” Each category takes up one issue and this is put forward as a dialogue between Amrita and Robert. To draw the conclusion, a Godly man, Paul has been used.

Along with the above, the book also contains an author’s profile which gives you a better idea of the writers who have contributed towards the writing of the book!

Hits and Misses -

 Having reviewed a few more books by Santosh Avvanavar, I would like to mention that I appreciate the passion that he has to highlight some of the issues that we face in our lives. This book which is written by 3 writers, talk about various issues for e.g. Euthanasia, Honor Killing, Death and Abuse. Cleverly written in dialogue form, each story shows the amount of research and information his colleagues and he have gathered and put into the writing of this book.

Having said that, the book could have been better! I feel a nicer cover would have been more appealing to readers. Apart from that the sentences are very simple; there is repetition in some places along with very long dialogues. Also a few grammatical errors here and there tends to draw attention away from the interesting topics mentioned in the book. Another thing that I felt about the book is that in some instances it shows one person’s perspective only instead of humanity as a whole…this makes the book sound as if the authors are preaching!

The thought process behind the book is commendable, but if the authors had paid a little more attention to the little details mentioned above, then I am sure the book would have attracted more readers. I would like to end by wishing the authors success in their careers. I look forward to reading more books by them!

Links - 

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Saturday 9 May 2015

Interview with Author Santosh Avvannavar

A God-fearing man, a kind-hearted human and a person who uses his skills and knowledge to write about social issues with the intention of drawing the attention of readers to the problems at hand and then working together to provide a solution for the same. Santosh Avvannvar is all of this and much more! Recently I sent him a mail asking him if he was interested in doing an interview for my blog; he replied in the affirmative. Here are the questions I asked the writer and this is what he has to say about himself, his work and what makes him choose the topics he does.

Me: All your books I have reviewed so far have a social message…how does the idea germinate? How do you zero in on a certain theme?

Santosh: Thanks for an interesting question. Let me give a brief on this, Second Heart, a book on awareness of Kidney issues through fiction stories ,was through a brain-storming session with Dr. Sandeep Huilgol, which was done over a cup of coffee. Title is Untitled was a book that has a focused structure preparation based on the social issues that I have read about through various sources. Then I went in search of such stories and it needed patience and persistence to pen down their views. Black, Grey and White began with a workshop on Sexual Transmitted Diseases by Dr. Saurabh. This led me to search for stories related to the myths surrounding HIV/AIDS. The book, Surrogate Author was out of an idea from Devdas and critics have helped shape the book. It’s similar to the books - The Departing Point and God’s Table. I believe in brainstorming to write a variety of stories.

Me: Since most of your books have been co-authored - Tell us a little about the pros and cons involved in this process.

Santosh: Teamwork is advantageous for most tasks. People with complementary skills are a great help in reaching the objective. Dividing tasks help to achieve them much better. However, sometimes there could be a lag in taking the work forward. Having said this, some collaborations may not be promising if one of the authors sees it just as an opportunity rather than a collective effort. This is more of a learning phase.

Me: I am sure that you have received a lot of reviews about the topics you choose to write about and the style you write it in…..what is the nicest and the most critical review you have received?

Santosh: The first name that comes to my mind is, book blogger Maniparna Sengupta. I like her carefully articulated reviews, which gives out negative criticism in a positive way. In other words, I see that her writing has an assertive style which is inspiring to read. I also noticed that she has never shunned away from writing honest reviews irrespective of personal expectations as a reader. I see her as an example of a good critic!

Me: How long does the whole writing process take?

Santosh: Most of my writing has been done over a span of 10 years.  A lot of backlog was also there as some books take a lot of time like for e.g - Get a Job WITHOUT an Interview took nearly seven years. Ideally books related to social issues take me about a year to write. I foster the process with the help of an editor who works along with me and completes the editing work as soon as I complete a chapter.

Me: What other books are you working on?

Santosh: I am presently working on the biography of a business leader and am hoping to wind up the writing by May end. Apart from this I am also working on two interesting books, one on Lucid dreams and another on the life of a Quality Engineer. These books should be available in stores by the end of this year.

Me: You are into a lot of other things…how do you find the time to write?

Santosh: I pen down points whenever there is little time between tasks. Apart from this, I have a fixed schedule to script a story. I don’t attend to phone calls and neither do I browse the internet during this time.

Me: How do you spend your time on weekends?

Santosh: I am in constant search of stories. Sunday’s I attend church in the first half and spend the remaining time meeting new people.

Me: Who is your favorite author?

Santosh: The Bible has a good and positive impact on my understanding and writing. Next to it are M. K. Gandhi’s books. I also enjoy reading Subroto Bagchi’s books.

Me: What is your favorite quote?

Santosh: There are several ones; however here is one …
“One does not need to create assets for future generation, make them an asset instead.”

Me: If you had one wish, what would you wish for and why?

Santosh: To put a smile on the faces of the underprivileged children! This wish would make it worth being named "Santosh" (Happy).

You can contact me at -
Twitter - @GuptaRach