Spotlight: The Avalonia Chronicles Book Tour

★.•**•.★★.•**•.★ The Avalonia Chronicles Book Tour ★.•**•.★ ★.•**•.★


About the Book:

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.



Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.



With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever. 



Book Links:

Goodreads I Amazon I Flipkart


World of Avalonia

 







Read an Excerpt:


Chapter 3
Kidnapped
For a second that felt like a
lifetime, everything stopped; I felt like I was floating in nothingness. Then I
blinked, and, when I finally opened my eyes and focused again through the tears,
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I found myself standing at the
mouth of a small cave situated on a hill and overlooking a quiet, moonlit
valley. On my left, a dark forest stretched out as far as the eye could see,
treetops glistening silver in the light of the full moon. The hills around us
undulated into wildflower-filled meadows that lay sleeping in the dewy night.
Far down in the valley, I could see
a little village, its lights twinkling in the distance. To my right, a
waterfall splashed playfully into a small river that ran down into a lake, next
to which the little village was built. The moon here was fuller and larger than
I had ever seen it, and the night sky was awash with a fantastic array of
glittering stars.
Had I passed through the tapestry?
Where was I?
I looked around, disbelief clouding
my judgment. I was still trying to get my bearings after that strange moment
when I had been inside the tapestry and nowhere at the same time. It gave me a
funny feeling, as though I had been lifted out of my own consciousness and then
put back into my body.
A warm breeze brushed past my face
and played with my hair. Gone were the cloudy grey mist and the cold, nipping
wind of the English countryside. I drew in a sharp breath—the air was crisp and
clear, sweet smelling, and fresh. The moonlit valley was filled with fruit
trees, wildflowers, and rolling meadows.
“How did we come here? Where are
we?” I asked, still confused.
“You really are ignorant,” said
Oblek, glancing at me. “I take it your uncle didn’t tell you anything?”
I shook my head and looked down.
Oblek had tied my hands with a rope he had with him while I was still dazed and
looking around. It was humiliating, and the rough ropes cut into my wrists,
rubbing them raw every time he pulled me forward.
I had to find some way out of this.
And, at the moment, the only thing I could do was discover more about where I
was. Then, when I got an opportunity, I could escape and find my way back up to
the cave on the hill, where we had arrived out of the tapestry.
But then what?
Christopher was probably dead, and
Aunt Arianna would doubtless blame me for everything since I had disappeared at
the same time. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t really want to go back, and,
now that my adoptive parents were dead, I had nothing to return to.
I was starting to panic. I had
nowhere to go, and my mind was imagining an array of horrible outcomes of my
kidnapping. My palms had become sweaty, and my racing heart was thundering in
my chest as I half-walked and half-ran, desperately trying to keep up with
Oblek’s giant strides.
“Why are you doing this?” I pleaded
with my kidnapper.
But Lord Oblek said nothing. He
didn’t even look at me. He just kept walking ahead and dragging me along behind
him, with no more explanations as to what he was planning to do with me.
I was terrified, and I had no idea
if I was going to survive this. But I tried to be brave. Maybe I could talk my
way out of this?
“You do know that this is called
kidnapping?” I said, trying to reason with Oblek.
He didn’t bother to answer.
“What will happen to me now?” I
squeaked, my voice breaking, as I tried not to cry.
“Queen Morgana will decide what is
to be done with you,” said Oblek, finally.
Queen Morgana! The woman from my
dream? It was not possible that this, too, was a coincidence. It must be the
same Morgana, the one who had tried to kill my real mother.
Who the hell was she?
Suddenly all of this seemed
extremely scary. I hoped that I was still dreaming and that there was no way I
had actually traveled through a magical tapestry into some strange land. It all
seemed very exciting in books. But actually being kidnapped and then hauled
around like an animal, traveling deep into a land I knew nothing about, was not
my idea of fun.
I had to get away from this
horrible man, and fast.

 

About the Author:

 

For Farah Oomerbhoy, writing is a passion and reading her solace. She is a firm believer in the fantastic and magical, and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest.

When she was pregnant with her first child ten years ago, a story popped into her head she could not ignore. “I was at my grandmother’s house, and as I looked at the image of a beautiful forest with a castle in the distance on a tapestry hanging on the wall, I imagined myself being whisked away into another world,” she said. It was at that moment the world of Avalonia, with its powerful mages and fae and the evil Queen Morgana, was born. Farah Oomerbhoy’s debut novel, The Last of the Firedrakes, was released in the summer of 2015.



Farah lives with her husband and three children in their family home in Mumbai, India. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Mumbai. Her first novel is The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of the Avalonia Chronicles.

  

Contact Farah:

 

Giveaway:
One Amazon Gift Voucher worth 1000INR
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Three Signed Paperback Copies of The Last of the Firedrakes


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Of Bridges Among Us by Neeru Iyer

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I received Of Bridges Among Us by Neeru Iyer as a review copy from the author. It is a compilation of ten short stories almost all of them written in first person from the point of view of a lady.

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

The world of Of Bridges Among Us is inhabited by interesting characters — porn actors weighed down by family values, lesbians coming out to their families, suspicious homemakers, and lunatics in confinement with a love for mangoes — and each person has a unique story to tell.

My take:

There are ten stories in the book and the author has touched upon sensitive issues and described them beautifully.

There is a story of a childless professor who meets a pregnant girl in a bus and they develop a friendship but does she help the girl overcome her problem? There is a story of a girl who stays alone, is a workaholic and a very private person. She has a new neighbor who is an old acquaintance, but does she open up to him? There is a story of a lesbian relationship. There is a story of a little girl bullied by her neighbor who locks her up in a room with his mentally unsound uncle. What happens next????

The Girl by the Fourth Window is the story of one sided love. And then there is a story of a lady who learns about her husband’s affair from neighbors and she discovers that he writes about ‘her’ in his diary. What does she do? In The Reunion, a girl who goes there accompanied by her daughter, feels lost and lonely. Why?? There is a story about a porn star whose parents disowned her when they learnt about her profession. There is a story about a grandmother visiting her grandchild when the latter is ill only to leave after sometime. And then there is a phone call.

My favourite story is the last one ‘She’s not afraid of spiders’ about a child who cannot walk and grows up in an orphanage only to be adopted by a lady. The adoption changes three lives. How? Read and see.

The characters have been developed beautifully and are easy to relate to as they are like some people we meet in our everyday life. They represent different women from different parts of the country. Some of the stories were easy to visualize. The language is simple and the flow is good.

The book has been written very well, it is hard to believe that it her debut book. This book is a must read.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

Forbidden Desires by Madhuri Banerjee

51RKXhhTvIL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_I received the book Forbidden Desires by Madhuri Banerjee from the publisher, Rupa Publications, and would like to thank them for the same. This book is the story of four women, Naina, Ayesha, Kavita and Kaajal, who are all different from each other

The Blurb:

‘Why do romantic relationships fade away? Does the magic slowly die? Or do lovers simply wake up one morning realizing they are done? Is it a trick that time plays on happy couples or is it something more profound, an evolution perhaps, of our feelings and our needs?’

Imagine there is a person you know nothing about, who is slowly destroying your marriage. Imagine there is a stranger who enters your life and makes you realize you are living a lie. Imagine there is a love so deep that you need to sacrifice everything you have to save it. Imagine you find out your partner is cheating on you. What will you do?

Naina, Ayesha, Kavita and Kaajal are four women who know nothing about each other and live cocooned in their individual worlds. Until one day, they’re forced to reckon with shocking truths they never imagined! Their desires haunt them, provoke them and make them fight to choose a new path in their lives. Will these women survive their stories of passion, betrayal and pain? Bestselling author and film writer Madhuri Banerjee brings to you a new romantic thriller that interweaves varied stories of women and their passions, to show us how all relationships ultimately crash into each other.

The characters:

Naina: Born and brought up in London to Punjabi Parents. Smart as paint with an Honours degree in English Literature. Uber cool. Supremely sexy. Sparkling brown eyes. Long, dark brown hair. Excellent Cook. When in London, she met Kaushik in a bus. They chatted for hours- it was love at first sight. Parents liked the Bengali boy, soft spoken, family man. Tall, good looking, cultured, studying to be a lawyer. He was perfect.  They get married and life is perfect. They move two Delhi and have two daughters in quick succession.

Ayesha: Slim, Petite and flower like. Oval face. Almond eyes. Long, rich auburn hair. Soft spoken. Demure. Loving. Caring. Perfect housewife. Had an arranged marriage to Varun, an IAS Officer. . Never loved her husband. Has a son. As an IAS Officer’s wife, has to keep up pretenses. Everything has to be picture perfect for her husband to be successful at work. She loves photography. Tarini is her friend from Allahabad, now marries in Delhi to Sanjay, a lawyer.

Kavita: 39, tall, sleek and smart. Delicate fingers. Wavy brown hair. Twinkling eyes, sharp nose. Wears pants and suits. A gynaecologist. No hobbies. Holds a dark secret. Had love marriage to Gaurav Gupta, then a medical representative. Regrets it till date. Has a son. Cannot divorce Gaurav because he is a good father and a good son-in-law. Lives with her husband and son in her mother’s house. She has a younger sister.

Kaajal: 30, Lawyer. Short. Slim. Beautiful. Curly brown hair. Smiling eyes. In a complicated relationship. Loves to shop.

The story:

Now, Naina is more of a housewife, looking after her kids and home. Kaushik is busy building his career. Their relationship is on the backburner. Kaushik has no time for her, comes home after she has slept off, sleeps in the guest room. She wants to open her own restaurant and feels that can wait till the kids require less of her time. Wins Masterchef. Writes a cookbook. Teaches cooking to groups of ladies at her home. All the while her support group is the two sets of grandparents and her friends, the ones she made in Delhi when her first-born started going to school. Until Pinky, her beauty parlour lady, suggests that she teaches cooking to Arjun, a rich man and get paid well.

Ayesha throws lavish parties on Diwali and sees her husband lose at cards but she keeps it all from her parents. She does not get along well with her in-laws. At a party, meets a politician and expresses her view and opinions and he listens to her as Varun never did.

Kavita is a successful gynecologist. She is not happily married but has to keep working to run the house. She goes to a conference and her life changes.

Kaajal starts to have an affair with a married man, confronts his wife but decides not to get married and she feels marriages become boring after a time.

My take:

The story is about 4 married women Naina, Ayesha, Kavita and Kaajal. The women are different and the plot is also different. The author has portrayed them as one of us but I feel what she has written about is not so common in the society these days.

She has introduced the characters differently, some of what I have taken to introduce the characters in my review. The language is simple.

This book is about insecurities, about unfulfilled wishes both at professional and personal level. It is about women trying to find happiness for themselves as individuals.

Go on read the book, but please, please, don’t let the book get on to you or it will make you feel a bit insecure about your own marriage.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the Publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

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Ramayana: The Game of Life – Book 3 – Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas

d359fa8e-9ad0-4154-a9b1-00835d3ef9cd.jpgI received Ramayana: The Game of Life – Book 3 – Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas as a review copy from the author. It is the third book of the series of Ramayana written by the author. This covers the Ramayana from Dandakaranya part of the exile to Sita’s abduction.

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

In the evil labyrinths of Dandakaranya forest, human values are put to test. Rama’s righteousness, Lakshmana’s loyalty and Sita’s endurance reflect our own sense of values and judgment in difficult times. The story unfolds the facets of human life – the conflict and the trickery, the praise and the slander and, above all, the hope and the despair in the eventful forest life of the Exiled Royals.

Stolen Hope is about extreme deception and extreme love. It is about arrogant power and deep devotion. With every twist and turn, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana find themselves robbed of whatever and whoever they value most.

Exploring the dynamics of human relations – between father and son, husband and wife, teacher and disciple – and the complex game of power and greed, Stolen Hope mirrors our own dilemmas in the modern world and teaches us how we must overcome them.
Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen.

The story:

Rama and Lakshmana are into exile with Sita when enter Dandakaranya from Chitrakuta. They have a conflict with two demons.  Viradha and Kabandha. They then move to live in Panchavati and are living there for two years when Surpanka sees them and wants to marry Ram herself, then decides to marry Lakshman and ends up getting her ears and nose chopped off. Surpankha comes with her brother and a fourteen thousand demon army for revenge and the army is destroyed by Rama. And then she sends Ravana to take revenge.

The story moves to what we had read when we were young about how Rama goes after the deer Maricha, Lakshman follows and Sita is taken away by a beggar. He meets Shabari while searching for Sita and he then meets Sugriva and the Vanaras.

My take:

The language is simple. The book has been detailed in a way that makes it easy to understand with a lot of words and events explained as footnotes. The author has used boxes to convey some important parts. There are stories narrated by various sages and others within the book which make it interesting, like the story of Agastya.

The author has described many instances in the book including Ravana’s flight to Lanka which I had not read about before.

All in all it is an interesting book, but one thing is for sure, we need to dedicate quite a lot of time to the book to do justice to the author and his research.

Book Source: The author

Publisher:Jaico Books

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

Vengeance -A Sting in Every Tale A WRIMO INDIA anthology

Designed by Neil D’Silva
Vengeance –A Sting in Every Tale 
A WRIMO INDIA anthology
Edited by
Sonia Rao 
Disclaimer : All proceeds from the sale of this anthology will be donated to NaNoWriMo
Designed by Sujata Patnaik
Blurb 
A reply to a perceived injustice can take many forms one of which is vengeance. An eye for an eye can only end up making the whole world blind, is what Mahatma Gandhi once said. And it seems to be coming quite true, if latest events world-wide are an indication.
Is there any hope or are we hurtling towards extinction?
Hopefully, the stories will explore some of these questions. But that is on the macro level. It might be easy to look at things objectively, in black and white, when it is other nations involved. Or even other people. We are able to be more forgiving of transgressions when they don’t involve us personally.
But how would one react if they found themselves in the maelstrom of situations that do fall somewhere in the grey area of life? With no definite black and white answers?
How would a jilted lover react in face of infidelity? Or how would a friend avenge the murder of her best friend? Or, is it fair to be punished for a crime that you were not brave enough to prevent?
These and many more questions connected to vengeance have been grappled with in this anthology.

EXCERPT OF FIRST CHAPTER
Bus number 131 whirred away, pulling its own weight unwillingly. It was one of the many buses to pass through the Relief road, a busy road in the old part of Ahmedabad. Shazia had an option, the crowed 88 or the overcrowded 131. She preferred to be 30 minutes before time to board 131. Her choice was motivated by her love for the palindromic 1-3-1. Her undying infatuation with prime numbers was inexplicable.Nineteen year old Shazia loved numbers, and to be more precise, she adored Mathematics in all its form. She also loved the rules, the principles, the working theorems, the equations which tried to make sense of the majestic menagerie of numbers. She was fascinated even by the mere shape of numbers. She did not remember when or even how her romance with Maths began. But in her earliest memories, she preferred practicing her numbers over the alphabet, she remembered that she recited tables better than her nursery rhymes.

She was short and a bit stocky. Also, a couple of shades darker than was acceptable in the marriage market. However, her looks never bothered her, nor did she ever yearn for fairer skin, or thinner body. What she craved was a disheveled mass of hair, for some uncanny resemblance to Einstein, the only pop icon modern science managed to have produced. But her mother plaited her hair, dashing her hopes to ground. She also longed for a pair of spectacles with glasses so thick that it blurred her eyeballs, indicating the wearer’s brilliance. But she, despite getting checked for vision from her mother’s ophthalmologist, was denied the hallowed implement. Thrice.

Shazia valued her bus ride a lot. She had to convince Papa to allow her to commute to her college on her own. She had concealed her indignation about needing her father’s permission for every little trifle, even after being categorised as an adult by the Government of India. Papa consented only after he was told that Noor too would start using the bus if Shazia were to give her company.

Buy @
 
ABOUT THE EDITOR SONIA RAO
 
 
The editor of the Anthology, Sonia Rao (writer-editor-awardwinningblogger) is the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for All-India region. The stories which are part of the anthology are written by Wrimos homed in to Asia::India region. Most of them are also published writers of short fiction and novels.She blogs @ https://soniaraowrites.wordpress.com/ 
Find out more about Wrimo India @
Wrimo India on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/wrimosindia 
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The Brown Sahebs by Anupam Srivastava

The25059969.jpg Brown Sahebs by Anupam Srivastava is one book which I decided to read because of its awesome cover. I would like to thank The Book Club for the book and also the author for sending me an autographed copy of the same.

The blurb:

The Raja of Teekra, a dusty and forgotten kingdom near Lucknow, gets lucky when the British Resident visits him but also brings with him a leading revolutionary. The Raja enters India’s struggle for freedom and is rewarded with a berth in the cabinet of free India. He is shocked to see the ministers and officers living and operating like their imperial masters but is suitably rewarded for his silence. As he begins to enjoy the good life of Lutyens’ Delhi, the British capital which India’s freedom fighters abhorred, he faces only one adversary in his plans—his journalist son Pratap. A novel that will blow you away with its depiction of love, passion, intrigue and betrayal.

The story:

Daulat Singh, the Raja of Teekra, a kingdom near Lucknow, is having sleepless nihts and he is looking for a solution to the problem when suddenly, a messenger brings him a letter which states that the Resident at Lucknow wants to visit the kingdom. The entire kingdom starts preparation of receiving the guests and even 5000 partridges are bought for the Residents shikaar. The Resident arrives with his wife and Vidya Babu, the quintessential leader of the freedom movement and also an Oxford Graduate and a friend of the Resident. During his speech, Vidya ropes in the Raja into the freedom movement much to the dislike of the Resident.

While visiting the temple on the hill, the Raja and the Resident are attacked and Pratap, the prince of Teekra is the prime suspect, and the Raja asks him to leave the kingdom, which Pratap does, only to find that people are also looking out for him to kill him. He goes to meet Malti, only to find she is getting married to Ekka. Then he decides to walk to Delhi and once there, becomes a journalist. The Raja is offered a berth in the cabinet after India becomes independent and he also joins the movement.

India becomes independent and the chaos begins……

My take:

The story is set in the days of the freedom struggle and the prologue sets a good tone for the story, with an account by a newspaper reporter regarding the death of Ekant Baba, the solitude loving sage. And he reads the papers left to him by the sage and the story starts at Teekra, moves on to Delhi and then independence and post-independence.

There are many characters in the story and each has a role to play, be it Kundu, the village singer; Malti, daughter of Raghupati; Ekka, Malti’s suitor; Gopal, Pratap’s companion; Eknath; Kavita, Pratap’s colleague; Shyam Dubey, the editor of the newspaper;

Both the writing and language are simple. The plot kept me guessing and the scenes have been described so well that I was able to picturise quite a few of them.

 

 

Spotlight: THE BROWN SAHEBS BY ANUPAM SRIVASTAVA

 

THE BROWN SAHEBS 
BY 
ANUPAM SRIVASTAVA
Blurb 
The Raja of Teekra, a dusty and forgotten kingdom near Lucknow, gets lucky when the British Resident visits him but also brings with him a leading revolutionary. The Raja enters India’s struggle for freedom and is rewarded with a berth in the cabinet of free India. He is shocked to see the ministers and officers living and operating like their imperial masters but is suitably rewarded for his silence. As he begins to enjoy the good life of Lutyens’ Delhi, the British capital which India’s freedom fighters abhorred, he faces only one adversary in his plans—his journalist son Pratap. A novel that will blow you away with its depiction of love, passion, intrigue and betrayal.
Buy @
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About the Author 
Anupam Srivastava was born in Lucknow, India, where his novel, The Brown Saheb’s first part is set. However, he never lived there as his father and mother, Ashok and Veena Srivastava, lived in different parts of India. However, Anupam spent some of his childhood and most of his vacations in Lucknow where he flew kites and learnt about the craft of pigeon-flying. He went to a boarding school near Delhi, the Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, where he played cricket but earned his college colours at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, in cross-country running. He studied English literature (BA Hons and MA), won the college annual poetry prize while pursuing his MA, and being sure his vocation was writing and journalism, became a journalist with The Times of India in 1993. In 1999, he was awarded the British Chevening scholarship by the British government.
In 1999, he left journalism to work with the United Nations Population Fund in India in communications. Subsequently, Anupam worked with Oxfam India Society, Unicef and other development agencies. The Brown Sahebs is his first novel and tells the story of India not taking off its colonial clothing even as it became a democracy.
Anupam is married to Radhika Srivastava, and they have two children who figure in his children’s novel, A Family Secret.
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At The Sharp End of Lightning (Oceanlight #1) by N.R. Bates

aee1ea3c-0cb6-41ed-b9a1-02c9027d1798I received At The Sharp End of Lightning (Oceanlight #1) by N.R. Bates as a review copy from Laura Fabiani iRead Book Tours and would like to thank them for the same. It is a fantasy involving four parallel worlds, Oceanlight (the Sea Sprite world), Forestlight (the Forest Sprite world), Daimanland (the Daiman world), and the Humana world, which are intertwined. There is a Thinness where the worlds meet and one can pass through.

The Blurb (as provided in the Media Kit):

AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING. The interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds. In Oceanlight, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her lover over immense seas only to find catastrophe and realization that her world is in turmoil.

Meanwhile in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth afflicted by a disease of the blood, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit. Yalara and Einion must discover the causes of their near-deaths and their as yet unrevealed connections as they both face upheaval to their lives and their worlds.

The story:

Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, whose surname is the name of her sea tribe, or tribamare, the Narika, specifically belonging to the Sea Sprites, as her mother died without naming her, is searching for her family aboard her pestrel, Varaku. Along with her is her friend, Rasania, who is aboard her pestrel, Sanaka. Their petrels land upon Seryasu, floating mats of seaweed. They have been given this assignment by the leader, cha-Narik because they are the best riders, their pestrels can fly the farthest and they are the most experienced team. Yalara attracts lightning and is struck by one and sees many things.

Then the story moves to Forestlight where, Helia, an exiled Forest Sprite is sent to daiman world to locate thinness by her twin Xylenia. Here she is chased by a Mechanicum and her sister Centaurea sacrifices herself to save Helia.

Einion Morgan Alban lives in North Wales in the Humana world with his mother and stepfather and suffers from hemophilia. One day, when he is sleeping in the park, he dreams that he has been given a gift of crystals and a metal disk and told that when the time is right, he will know what to do with it. And then, suddenly, a man in a white suit almost kills him, but he is saved by an old man and his dog. He suffers haemorrhages and is recovering in the hospital when he comes to know that his saviours have been killed.

Yalara finds a Seanest, a Sprite village that is only half when she and Rasania get blinded by fog. Helia becomes Einion’s guardian and protects him from Fimafeng, the third world daiman; a treacherous Kaembian who is a mix of sprite and daiman and can assume a human form. In the garden, Einion feels thinness and calls it an Interface.

Do the worlds meet? What happens then? Read on……………….

My take:

The plot is unique. Initially, the stories are separate from each other and later they come together and the characters move to other worlds. The author has described the worlds beautifully, I could actually picturise them. The author has developed the characters painstakingly. A lot of research seems to have gone into the book.

The names of the characters are very different and I am sure, so would the pronunciation be because of the italics involved.

There is a map and a code at the beginning of the story, called The Interfaces, which is initially not understandable but later becomes important. There are glossaries- human and Sprite at the end of the book. This book has an afterword also.

The author has dealt with climate change in the story. He has detailed a lot of Welsh history.

What I felt could have been done is maybe shrinking the story up a bit and tying up the loose ends. Though this is the first book in the series, with four more to come, the loose ends left me with a feeling of lacking.

My suggestion is that when you read the book, disconnect yourself from the real world.

AumserFcwU.jpegthor’s Bio:

NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors.

He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK.

​His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.

Connect with the author:

Website: http://www.nrbates.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NRBatesAuthor

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Author Interview: Utkarsh Patel: Shakuntala the Woman Wronged

4dae07c6-7e68-43b7-bf5a-e735091d2686Utkarsh Patel is a corporate professional- turned- mythologist and now an author. He has qualifications in Mythology, both Indian and World from Mumbai University. He is also a faculty on the subject of Comparative Mythology, at the Mumbai University, India. Utkarsh is also a regular trainer and lecturer on varying subjects at private organisations and educational institutions. He is the author of “Shakuntala – The Woman Wronged”.

Thank you, Utkarsh, for taking time out of your busy schedule and answering the questions.

From a corporate professional to a mythologist to a writer, you seem to have managed many professions. How did this transformation to a writer happen, please tell us about it?

After working for more than two decades in the corporate world, I guess I had had enough of chasing numbers, meetings and targets. One had reached a state when the regular was not motivating enough. Around five years back, I had started teaching mythology at the University of Mumbai, which gave me access to another world altogether. I started writing for my Blog on the same subject and soon one thing led to another.

How do you manage to take out time to write?

I think in present times, one has to devote time for something of personal interest. The word ‘hobby’ has lost its meaning and many of us are so busy with our professions that we don’t have time for our passions. One has to find space for that personal time when one does what one wants to do, from what one needs to do.

Who is your favourite character in the book Shakuntala?

Shakuntala is my favourite character in the book. The entire story has been seen and said from her point of view. Some of the most important and untouched subjects have been seen and discussed from her perspective.

How did you think of writing about Shakuntala?

I had come across an essay on Shakuntala by Prof. Satya Chaitanya, who has also been kind enough to write the Foreword for my book. Till then, I myself was not aware of the fact that the original Shakuntala was a creation of Sage Vyasa and not Mahakavi Kalidasa. When I spoke about it to some people, I realised that many did not know and what was more important was the change in characterization. This impressed me all the more and I felt that here was a story waiting to be told.

The book has been beautifully written and it shows that a lot of research has gone into it. How long did it take to complete the first draft of the book?

From the time I started writing to completion, it would have been about 6-8 months.

The cover is different. How much say did you have while designing the cover?

Not much.

What were the challenges faced while writing the book?

For someone who had never written a book before, and had only worked on articles, it wasn’t easy to know how much was good enough. At other times, I felt that a lot more was needed to be said coupled with a feeling that the reader might not want to read so much. Also, certain subjects/characters have always been touch-me-nots and seldom discussed in public. Should I venture into them or would this be a transgression of sorts. Being a teacher of mythology, authenticity was also important for me, as against flights-of-fancy, (and this can be seen in the number of references provided in the book for those interested). Mythology is a touchy subject in our country, and I didn’t want to create new mythologies for the sake of popular appeal.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Won’t say ‘No’, but never to the extent of the block becoming an impediment to my writing.

What kinds of books do you read? Who is your favourite author and what is your favourite genre? Has any author influenced your writing?

As someone who teaches mythology, I mainly read theory books on mythology and research work. I haven’t read much fiction as I did not want any writers to influence my writing style. My favourite genre in mythology and occasionally history.

Which book are you currently reading?

I am presently reading ‘Andha Yug’ written by Dharamvir Bharati, translated in English by Alok Bhalla.

What is the next project that you are working on? When is the next book scheduled for release?

My next is also a novel on mythology and also portrays a strong woman, relatively unknown to many. I am still working on it, and I would think it should be ready for publication in the next six months or so.

Any word of wisdom for aspiring authors?

Just start writing, without waiting for the right moment. Keep penning your ideas and plots as and when you get them. Do not worry about who would publish it and all the commercial aspects. You do your work and pour in all that you have. Be open to feedback. Let someone critique your work. Write for your satisfaction and trust me the end product will be good!

Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts with your readers.

Social Media links of Utkarsh Patel for readers to find/follow/like:

website:        http://www.utkarshmp.com

facebook:     https://www.facebook.com/Shakuntala-The-Woman-Wronged-703922499751102/

twitter:           @utkarshmp

blog:               http://www.utkarshspeak.blogspot.in

Email :           utkarshmp@yahoo.com

Shakuntala_Book-coverThe book can be bought from the following links –

Flipkart –

http://www.flipkart.com/search?q=Shakuntala+the+woman+wronged&as=off&as-show=off&otracker=start

Amazon.in (including the Kindle version)

http://www.amazon.in/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/277-8132854-3110505?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=shakuntala+the+woman+wronged

Paytm-

https://paytm.com/shop/search/?q=shakuntala%20the%20woman%20wronged&from=organic

 

 

Shakuntala: The Woman Wronged by Utkarsh Patel

I received Shakuntala_Book-cover.jpg Shakuntala: The Woman Wronged by Utkarsh Patel ss a review copy from the Publisher and would like to thank Rizwan Khan of Rupa Publications for the same.

The blurb

The story of Shakuntala is well known—her upbringing in the ashram, her meeting with Dushyant, their marriage and subsequent separation due to a curse and their final joyous reunion. What is not so well known, however, is that the gentle, lovelorn Shakuntala immortalized by Kalidasa is very different from the original Shakuntala of the Mahabharata—a strong, fiery woman who stood up for her rights when she was spurned by her beloved.

In this thoughtful retelling of the story of Shakuntala, Utkarsh Patel brings to the fore the original heroine, the bold and beautiful daughter of Menaka and Vishwamitra who fights to get herself and her son the recognition they deserve. She does not surrender to anyone, not even the king of Hastinapur. Retold to suit the modern-day context, Shakuntala: The Woman Wronged is a must-read to understand one of the most powerful yet underrated female characters of the Mahabharata.

The story:

Narad Muni comes to Lord Indra’s darbar and tells him the story of King Kaushik who has decided to turn into a sage following a loss to Sage Vasishtha. This leaves Indira thinking and he uses all the natural forces to stop the king from meditating but the King is not dissuaded, and then he gets the idea to woo him sensually. He ropes in Apsara Menaka for the purpose and she agrees to help him albeit reluctantly. She had a task and she would do a good job about it.

She reaches the earth and woos King Kaushik and unknowingly falls in love with him and they have a daughter. Lord Indra has forgotten all about it until Narad Muni reminds him and poor Menaka has to leave her daughter and go back. The King says he has nothing to do with the baby and goes back to his meditation and the baby is left with Narad Muni who leaves her in the care of Sage Kanva and Gautami and she is named Shakuntala. Her friends, Anusuya and Priyamvada, and her doe, Mrigakshi, are her companions in the Ashram. When she is ten, her foster father tells her the facts about her birth and she adjusts to it and grows up to be an intelligent young girl and has arguments with her foster-father on what is right and what is wrong. All this while Menaka, who has a boon from Narad Muni to observe Shakuntala unwatched, sees her daughter grow up and King Kaushik still miffed by the deception has become Sage Vishwamitra.

Then the King of Hastinapur, Dushyant, comes to the forest with his friend for hunting and loses his way and meets Shakuntala. He wants to meet Sage Kanva, who has gone away from the Ashram for some important work, and thus starts to stay in the Ashram. Then the love story begins and Dushyant tells her that they can have a Gandharva vivaha as they are both Kshatriyas and she agrees on one condition and they get married. the he leaves her with the promise of returning to take her back.

Six years later, Shakuntala goes to Hastinapur to with her son, Sarvadaman so that the child gets his rights as the heir apparent?

Will Dushyant recognize and accept her?

Will Sarvadaman be accepted by the king?

What will she do?

Read on to find out more.

My take:

The book begins with and introduction to the story which mentions that this Shakuntala has been taken from Vyasa’s narration of Shakuntala. This is followed by an introduction to the characters which the reader would encounter in the book and the chapters are not numbers but names.

The characters have been developed beautifully. Though I remember reading the story in Amar Chitra Katha but the narration is excellent. The story moves from one scene to another with great fluency as a romantic fiction in ancient times. The only difference is that in this romance, we know a little about the antecedents of the protagonists before they are introduced to the reader. I loved the way in which the author has portrayed the romance between Shakuntala and Dushyant.

The scenes have been described beautifully especially the nature. There are many different interesting stories within the story. the relationship between Shakuntala and her foster father has been described very realistically.

The author has a way with words and I was impressed by the way he has worked around the theme. Not much of a mythology fan, I am greatly impressed by the book and shall highly recommend this book whether you love mythology or not.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.