Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Blitz: Beyond the Milky Way by Anthal

Hello calling all Earthlings,
Check out this book:

Beyond the Milky Way by Anthal 

Beyond The Milky Way 
Are We Alone? 
by 
Aithal
Blurb 
Are we alone? 

Three astronauts go to the space in search of a planet that ‘probably’ has water—one of the basic elements for the humanity to survive. Do they find it? What else do they find? They encounter something—something strange—beyond their wildest of imagination, and their ‘mission-to-explore’ becomes ‘mission-to-survive’. 

They experience something that makes them question their beliefs. It brings into focus all the things they had taken for granted—everything they had seen and learned—doesn’t seem to apply any longer. 

Something happens along the way that makes them yearn to come back to Earth. After all, home is where the heart is. 

This is not just-another-science-fiction. Rather, it will make you question your own beliefs—may they be scientific, religious, political, or something else. 

In the first installment of the Galaxy series, find out about the strange world they discover. 

Buy @

Excerpt 
Come, the aqua race 
as the wells go dry.
 Blurs the human trace, 
and the hour is nigh. 
“T -20 minutes and counting.”
 It was a typical Florida day at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, hot and muggy.
Although it was only 10 o’clock in the morning, people were already sweating. Many folks held umbrellas to cover themselves from the scorching sun. Others were wearing various kinds of hats and caps, and their shirts and tees were wet with sweat. Their armpits—and wherever else their garments touched the skin—were showing dark patches of sweat. Almost everyone was wearing shorts. They didn’t care whether it suited them or not; they just wanted to be comfortable. The combination of sunscreen and sweat made their skins glisten, and sunglasses covered their eyes. A big crowd had gathered to watch the launch live. All sorts of vehicles were haphazardly parked on the flat meadow. Many had climbed on the rooftops of their RVs to get a better view. Some of them with flatbed trucks had brought lawn chairs with attached umbrellas. Families sitting in the chairs were enjoying chilled beverages. Kids were sitting with cans of soda. Every once in a while, some of them would roll their cold cans over their faces to get some temporary relief from the sweltering heat. Clusters of families had spread their picnic blankets across the green grass and were using coolers as anchors. Spreads of snacks were sprawled across a few of them: cookies, chips, fruits, candies, and assortments of soda. Uniformed cops in shorts were riding on cycles among them, making sure that no one had any alcohol. Some adults had their cans of soda in a soda-cozy to keep the beverage cold. The policemen would stop their bikes near the adults, and ask them to take out the cans from the soda-cozy to ensure that they were not beer cans. Little children were playing not far from them, under the watchful eyes of their parents. Some moms were applying sunscreen on their children before letting them play, and some were rubbing it on their husbands’ backs. Some people were sprawled across the grass, tanning in the sun. Others had brought their dogs with them, and their kids were taking the dogs for a walk on leashes. The dogs were wagging their tails with excitement. They would keep their noses close to the ground, sniffing and panting, stopping every now and then, before being pulled forward by their owners. Dozens of TV vans, belonging to various networks, had their satellite dishes extended high atop their roofs, broadcasting live to the world. News reporters, with microphones in their hands, were standing in front of TV cameras with the shuttle framed in the background. They were the most uncomfortable, as they had to wear a jacket in the scorching Florida sun to look professional. The bright camera lights thrown on their faces were not helping either. The moment they would stop talking to the camera, the camera lights would be turned off; they would then sigh in relief, take off their jackets, and start touching up their faces. At the edge of the ground, a tall flagpole bearing a huge United States flag fluttered lazily when the wind blew. Next to it was an enormous digital clock, counting down. It was a very festive atmosphere, and the air was filled with excitement and anticipation. Every now and then, some folks would glance at the shuttle standing in the distant horizon, with smoke blowing slowly from its base before evaporating. The NASA Test Director had already conducted the final launch team briefings and completed the inertial measurement unit preflight alignments. “T -9 minutes and holding.” “This is the final built-in hold folks,” an announcer on TV said, sounding as if he knew what was going on, but in actuality, he was merely reading from a script given to him by NASA. “This is what it means—there are several things happening. The final launch window is determined, the flight recorders are activated, and the final ‘go/no-go’ launch polls are conducted by NASA Test Director, Mission Management Team, and the launch director.” He was explaining it quite well on TV. Audiences across the world were watching this launch intently. It was a highly publicized launch. After the first manned mission to the moon, Apollo 11, this was the most viewed mission. “This is the last launch to take place before NASA changes its direction. The Last One, as it is dubbed. We know that there is water on this unknown planet, and where there is water, there is life. Without water, no life has ever sustained. We all know how dangerously low we are on our water resources. Sure, we have plenty of seawater. But it has salt, and is not meant for human consumption. A few companies have tried to develop technology to convert it into fresh water by spending billions of dollars on desalination plants. However, it’s way too expensive and not practical. The resources are dwindling, and famine is widespread. This is it folks, it’s now or never. Colonizing this unknown planet is our only option,” he said, trying to sound dramatic. “And by water, I mean liquid water. Water can be in other states too: frozen solid or evaporated into a gas. Take Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. We have discovered a water-rich plume venting out from its south polar region. It shoots geyser-like jets of water vapor that are about one hundred miles long. Think of it as a volcano, but instead of lava, it’s pouring out steam, a cryovolcanic eruption. So, even though we know it has water, life is not possible for us humans—primitive microbial life may be possible—but not for us. Saturn has 26 million times the water on Earth; yes, you heard it right folks, 26 million. Liquid water is just one of the components required for us to live. There are two more components that a planet needs to have: the right atmosphere and temperature. The planet cannot be too hot or too cold, only just right. Our neighbor, Venus, is around thirty percent closer to the sun and eight hundred degrees hotter. Then there is the atmosphere; it should have the right amount of oxygen to breathe. Of course, making a huge air-conditioned capsule can control these two to a certain degree. But not water. We need natural, liquid water that a planet can produce. Mars is the first planet we have thought of to colonize. And it is natural to look at it first as it is closest to us, only 48 million miles away, a rock’s throw away compared to the astronomical distances from other planets. But as we get to know more about it, we realize how harsh life can be. Here are a few things that encourage us to find out if living on Mars is possible. It has much lower gravity, so you will weigh much less. There is evidence of flowing, liquid water, but it’s all gone now. It has turned from a warmer, wetter planet into a cold, dry one. There have been talks about terraforming, a process to make the planet habitable like Earth. But then you are talking about confining yourself in a large capsule. You can forget about going on treks, scaling the heights of mountains, scuba diving, taking nature walks, and many other things that we take for granted on our Earth. Basically, you won’t be able to open the door and go outside casually. Why am I telling you all this? You can get this from the Internet. There is a reason. Bear with me for a moment. We know our galaxy is about 13.2 billion years old. And our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old. So Earth is around 4.5 billion years old. The sun’s age is estimated to be around 12 billion years. So we are almost half way there. All these are enormous numbers, you’ll say, and I agree. But let’s juxtapose these numbers with our existence. Our ancestors have only existed for 6 million years. And we, the modern form of humans, have been around for only 200,000 years. And civilization, as we know it, is only 6,000 years old. See where I am going with it? Although the life of our solar system is enormous, we have been around for only a fraction of that time. And the resources are already dwindling. Look around you. He paused for a moment to let this sink in. We have to find a way to prolong our existence. I have to repeat the famous words of Neil Armstrong, ‘one small leap for man, one giant leap for mankind,’ because they still hold true. We have come a long way in our understanding of the vast universe, but our basic needs remain the same. We have advanced technologically, but have we evolved? Have we adapted? Are we using fewer resources? Studies after studies tell us that we are not. An average person needs, no, uses more resources. Where do they come from? In this digital age, we all consume more. Use more batteries for our devices, why?Because we have many more devices now than we had ten years ago. Laptops, phones, games, toys, you name it. We eat more and drink more. In this fast moving world of ours, where information is at our fingertips, we have seen the globe shrinking. In addition to getting news of our neighboring villages and cities, we are getting news from our neighboring countries. We are getting more aware of our world, and it doesn’t look good. We can either ignore all the information we have, or we can do something about it. Our population is growing, and our resources are shrinking. It’s not political any more. It’s our survival,” he paused, his voice lowered, almost becoming a hush. “There won’t be any politicians if no one survives.” He stayed silent for a while, knowing that silence on TV was a no-no. But his journalistic instincts told him that it was the right thing to do. He was passionate about this cause, and he had the ear of the world. However, he had to strike the right balance between captivating his audience and depressing them. He didn’t want to be a doomsayer. But at the same time, he wanted to convey the urgency. “This planet, simply called P2, was recently discovered by NASA. Technically, this so called—The Last One—is a misnomer as there can be more flights by NASA. If we find that life is sustainable on this planet, we will have more flights to P2,” he boomed, changing his voice to a deeper baritone. “How far is P2? Farther than the farthest planet in our solar system. In addition to the regular, orange-colored rocket boosters, the space shuttle is also fitted with two giant SEP arms. SEP stands for Solar Electric Propulsion. They will unfurl once the shuttle has reached outer space, after which the shuttle will generate its own energy, drawing it from the sun. You have seen these kinds of shuttles used for traveling to the International Space Station, or for adding a solar panel to a satellite. But this one has been modified to carry more scientific instruments. Once on P2, they will be used extensively to analyze soil samples, rock samples, and other materials that have been collected. After this, NASA is going to divert its resources to explore other things. Congress has decided to cut the budget for such programs. They feel that the funds should be used in more fruitful missions. Is it a wise move? You decide.” The ground was separated by water, and beyond that, the Space Shuttle. Lots of people were peering through their binoculars to feel closer to the launch than they actually were. “T -9 minutes and counting,” the voice boomed on the PA. The automatic ground launch sequencer was started. “We have less than ten minutes to witness a historical moment. Gather everyone around the TV to see this for the last time. It’s been over forty-five years since we landed the first man on the moon. We have learned many things about our space since then,” said the announcer, and then his tone changed. “Let’s all take a moment to consider how tiny we are in the scheme of things. The space is a vast unknown. We want to know as much as we can. The space program is about to change directions in how we gather this information. Whether you agree or not with our government, one thing is for sure—we are the most advanced and powerful nation in the space program. Many of you question the wisdom in dismantling something so hugely successful. So let’s not forget the perks of such programs. NASA has benefited mankind so much. Innumerable inventions exist that have come out of NASA. I can go on and on praising NASA, but let’s get back to what’s happening now.” On the ground where people were waiting patiently for the launch, a few ice cream trucks were selling candies, ice creams, bottled water, sodas, and much more. Little children had gathered around the trucks. “Do you have beer?” asked one man, hoping that the vendor did. “No sir,” replied the vendor, shaking his head vigorously. “We are not allowed to sell beer, and you are not allowed to drink it in a public place. If the cops see you drinking one, they’ll ticket you.” “I know that,” the man glared at him. “Oh,” the vendor replied sheepishly. “Sorry.” “Give me an ice cream,” the man said, shaking his head in disappointment. “What flavor?” “Chocolate,” he replied, and then he added, “in a cone.” The man handed him a ten-dollar bill, and the vendor returned the change. “T -7 minutes and 30 seconds,” the voice on the PA continued. The access arm of the orbiter was slowly retracted. It looked

About the Author

The author was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He came to the US in 1989 to New York. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.


                          

         

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Next book coming up.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Book Blitz: Encounters by Sumana Khan

Good day Readers,
Today we are showcasing a genre we havent introduced on this blog. Guess, coz I am not too keen on getting paranoid in real life so soon :D

Introducing:

Encounters 
by 
SumanaKhan 
Blurb 
Someone Is Always Waiting 

Watch It 


EXCERPT FROM THE NOVELETTE “THE STORYTELLER” IN ENCOUNTERS COLLECTION

I stare at the cement bench covered in pigeon shit and spot the dim outline of the granite slab embedded in the backrest. Years ago, when the bench was new, the granite slab was a shiny black mirror inscribed with the words ‘Dedicated to the courageous people of Thirukadal’. Four cyclones and many pigeons later, the words have disappeared. The place is so choked with weeds that the bench appears to rest on the thorny plants. Behind me, beyond a muddy track, the Bay of Bengal hisses and sighs in a treacherous language.

I look up at the sky, as if to decode the time. My watch says it is half past seven in the morning, but the sky, clotted with grey clouds, remains secretive. It could be evening as far as the heavens are concerned. A depressing form of rain is assured; the kind that only occurs in this eastern coast of South India—skies that sob continuously for forty-eight hours, increasing humidity, mosquitoes and the stench of choked drains, damp walls and wet clothes. I wonder if the sky had been just as morose on the morning of 26 December, 2004.

I tie a handkerchief around my face, covering my nose and mouth, and hack away at the weeds. Swarms of mosquitoes and flies rise in a static buzz and hover over my head like a satanic dark halo. It takes me an hour to clear a small area around the bench. The sky starts its weeping just as I scrub the bench with a coconut husk and Vim detergent powder.    

After half an hour, the granite slab gleams into existence once again. I’ve got my memorial ritual paraphernalia in a Food World plastic bag. I bring out a strand of jasmine that I loop around the granite slab, its fragrance weak in the rain. I crouch under my umbrella that won’t open fully and light a couple of incense sticks. I’ve forgotten to bring the incense holder, so I stick the smouldering incense into a banana that was to be my breakfast. I place it on the bench in front of the granite slab and hold the umbrella over it. I close my eyes in an attempt to pray. All I can think of is the angry allergic rash that’s spreading on my legs and hands thanks to the weeds and that the incense smells like a cheap aftershave.

I give up and sit on the bench, still holding the umbrella over the incense. The rain stings my skin like the rash. The hard, wet seat numbs my thighs instantly and a dull arthritic pain blooms in my knees and lower back. I squirm, shifting my weight from one butt cheek to the other. I wait, just as I’ve waited in vain for the last seven years, for the storyteller to show up. The incense is all ash now. I may as well eat the banana and tell you the story of how I met this mysterious man.    

About The Author 

Sumana Khan was born and raised in Bangalore and currently lives in the UK. She is a blogger and a student. Her debut novel was The Revenge of Kaivalya. 

Author website: http://www.sumanakhan.com

Join the Giveaway  +Goodreads 



Goodreads Book Giveaway

Encounters - Someone's Always Waiting by Sumana Khan

Encounters - Someone's Always Waiting

bySumana Khan

Giveaway ends December 11, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway



Hmm May be just May be I might read this one.
Till the next book comes along, Bye and Take care.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Greetings everyone,

Me and my son joined the library : Just Books few months ago. My son gets bored of his story books after reading them upteen times. At JustBooks you can select a book & keep/read it until you are done reading and not rush to return after its sanctioned limited time. This suited me and my son perfectly.
He is hooked to the "Clifford, the Big Red dog" series. I wanted to read him a few of my childhood favorites.

Image source: http://falconsflyer.org


I stumbled upon Black Beauty, an autobiographical memoir by a horse named Black Beauty. I remember reading it in school when I was in 4th standard. But it remained impression-ed in my mind cause it was in a picture book format. Later I had re-read the full versions of it.

This was my start at reading books. Earlier I hated reading cause you were made to read so that you did good at dictation tests. When you love reading, words automatically imprint in your brain. No learning-by-heart needed :)

So now I thought I will restart my reading of Classics again.
I picked it up more than 4 moths ago and have been reading it on and off.

What I liked:
The narration is so simple yet you can feel the rich English language. Reminds of school and grammar classes :) Distinct from the books we are reading now a days. These classics sort of have the curvy almost lyrical way with words, literally ;)

The story is beautifully narrated. Black beauty as a young colt to an old horse. It will make you an Animal lover if you arent already. It empathizes with how horses or any animal if treated well will love and serve you to the best it can.
I think this is why I read all those cowboy stories and The Phantom Horse series by Christine Pullein-Thompson in my colony library.

The morale's taught in this book still hold true today. How to be helpful, loyal to your master, considerate, listen and learn, the good always wins, ... The 'Sansars' or values taught in childhood shape a human, which we Indians proudly stand by, is shown repeatedly in different ways.

It very accurately describes characters but also the deep human nature.

I love the way in classics how they describe in detail  simple things without sounding boring like the wind blowing through the meadow or a simple meal. The most patience I have shown while reading such long descriptions is for the book Emma by Jane Austin or Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery .

What I wanted more:
More such peaceful, satisfying books
In terms of: You always are calm during and after the completing the book. A peaceful feeling always settles in your heart after reading this book. You feel you have learned some Secret of Living Life or everything is and will be right in Life :)

Some paragraphs I loved from the Book:

About Religion:
“Your master never taught you a truer thing,” said John; “there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham--all a sham, James, and it won╩╝t stand when things come to be turned inside out."

John's little quotes:
Do your best,
And leave the rest,
'Twill all come right,
Some day or night'


About having a day-off in a week. People please pay heed to this advice!:

"Yes, sir, that is true, and I am grateful for all favors, I am sure; and anything that I could do to oblige you, or the lady, I should be proud and happy to do; but I can't give up my Sundays, sir, indeed I can't. I read that God made man, and he made horses and all the other beasts, and as soon as He had made them He made a day of rest, and bade that all should rest one day in seven; and I think, sir, He must have known what was good for them, and I am sure it is good for me; I am stronger and healthier altogether, now that I have a day of rest; the horses are fresh too, and do not wear up nearly so fast. The six-day drivers all tell me the same, and I have laid by more money in the savings bank than ever I did before; and as for the wife and children, sir, why, heart alive! they would not go back to the seven days for all they could see."

Why is the World so bad? :
"Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?"
"No," said the other.

"Then I'll tell you. It is because people think only about their own business, and won't trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrongdoer to light. I never see a wicked thing like this without doing what I can, and many a master has thanked me for letting him know how his horses have been used."

Guess for that feeling I need to continue to always read a Classic parallel with our new releases.
On it, Sir/Mam !

Next Classic on my list is going to be Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Have you read Black Beauty? Please let us know your views as comments on this post :)


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Book Review: Only Wheat not White by Varsha Dixit

Hello people,
Did you check out the Blurb of this book on Spotlight: Only Wheat not White by Varsha Dixit ?
If the blurb sounds interesting, the story is lovely. I loved it :)

Only Wheat Not White 
by 
Varsha Dixit 


The Story:
Eila Sood, an accountant by profession has taken up a consultant job in the USA for half the pay she deserves. The reason being, to mend the broken bond between her family and her sister who married an America named Steve. Sheela, the perfect child of the family, the genius did the 'unthinkable' according to her parents by marrying, as her mom puts it, out of caste and out of color. For several years, the families were waging a cold war.
Sheela now has 2 lovely kids, is a stay-at-home mom, attends prayer meetings, her life basically revolves around her kids. Now Steve and Sheela are thinking of seperating. Eila comes into the picture at the right time, I would say.
Then there is the blue-ogre according to Eila, I would call him TFH: Tall, Fair and Handsome restaurateur named Brett Wright who keeps bumping into Eila and turning her into a bag of nerves all the time.
Eila has landed in the USA at the time of recession which leads to her work hours getting cut and she barely managing her expenses along with supporting her sisters family. So she reluctantly takes up a job at a day-time strip club as accountant (control those, thought-horses!).
Again she is getting closer to the TFH or vice versa. Even if she wants, her mom a nutrition expert has bluntly told her-Only Wheat not White, as her life partner choice :p (what did you think? as her diet plan!)

How is she supposed to mend the relationship of her entire family with Sheela's family? Will Steve and Sheela separate? What about the mutual attraction between her & the TFH?

Lots going on this story. Pick up the book to dive into a juicy delicacy ;)

What I liked:
Oh, everything I can say :D

The cover is super delicious. The Blurb of the book made me want to pick up the book immediately.

As I said in the Spotlight, I am pally with Eila. She is like a bubbly, naughty, head-on-her shoulders kind of friend everyone needs in life :) I was hooting for her throughout the book. May it be her quick retorts to TFH,her motor-mouth, her culinary skills, not to mention her buzzing brain/mind, her organised and efficient way of working, her cupid-resorting services, confidence, ....

The characters are etched out lovely. May it be her elder sister Sheela who needs a tap on her head, someone to pump up her confidence, her parenting skills. Her kids are adorable.
Steve is the perfect brother-in-law or brother you would want. Glad he caught hold of Eila & explained his side of story. He is a man truly in love for showing so much patience to get his family and wife back together. Megan, is the typical naive friend who needs a guide. Mrs. Das, I wish I could learn cooking from her.
TFH, sorry Brett Wright, perfect physically. He starts to pull at your heart strings in the second half of the story.

The story keeps going at a steady pace. There are no repetitions or groaning in terms of Eila trying to understand her own heart or from Sheela's side due to her impending separation or parents brunt for going against their wishes.

The love between sisters is shown beautifully. I could relate to it, as we are 3 sisters too.
The life of Indians abroad is depicted realistically. I could understand how Sheela is trying to over-compensate for cutting off her roots and regrowing them.
Parents can be real pressure-inducers when it comes to marriage. This is shown perfectly.
Sheela's way of confronting issues, taking the bull by the horn :D. Go & talk to Brett ! I wanted to hug Steve for supporting Eila in this.
Brett's dare and completing the dare ;)

What I wanted more:
TFH or Brett, could have been more humane in my terms. Needed to flesh out more of this character.

The end ! I want closure for the story.
I wanted to see how Eila & Brett break her parents ideology of 'perfect marriage' or 'perfect life-partner'. The entire story is about rebounding between families, this was only talked about, nothing done concretely.

Its a lovely, speeding story if I may say so :)

Go on & Buy the Book


Bye. Take care. Drop in your comments about the book soon :)

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Blitz: A Thousand Unspoken Words by Paulami Duttagupta

Greetings everyone,
Lets take a look at another book published by Readomania.


A Thousand Unspoken Words 
By 
Paulami Duttagupta 
Publisher: Readomania 

Blurb 
A hero, a person who displays great courage for the greater good, can also fall. But what happens to a fallen hero? A Thousand Unspoken Words is the unique journey of a hero who falls. 

The champion of the underdogs, the writer who uses the nom de plume Musafir is famous in Kolkata. His incisive criticism of the injustices around him earn him many enemies but he holds his ideals above all else. Scathing attacks at his books and a night of hide and seek from political goons leads Musafir unto a path he never liked, faraway from his ideals. He runs away and chooses the comforts of money over the travails of following one’s ideals. The hero falls. 
But Tilottama, passionate fan’s hopes don’t. When he comes back after many years, emotions, love and lust take charge and an affair brews. Will she bring back her hero? Will he rise again? Or will the thousand untold words, the many stories of the ideal writer be lost forever?

Buy @

Excerpt

Wahan kaun hai tera, Musafir jaayega kaha’, the retro radio show played the SD Burman classic. Tilottama looked at her radio once and tears blurred her vision.

‘O Sachin karta this song reminds me of him.’

Tilotamma quickly wiped her eyes and turned the radio off. The day had been taxing enough. She needed to unwind, get Musafir out of her mind. How crazy could some people get? He had just written a fictional piece. How could fiction humiliate a government in power with an absolute majority? Wasn’t this a democracy? How could the supporters of a faith or political party get all insecure and burn his books?

The object of Tilottama’s despair, Musafir, was a writer supposedly based out of Kolkata. He wrote books at irregular intervals, and hid behind the veil of anonymity. His pieces were mostly social commentaries and satires on the state of Bengal. They were all fictional but had come under severe criticism in the past few months. Little paperbacks in funny covers, his books were available in old, rambling, bookstores across the city. Some were also available with the book vendors on the footpaths of the city.

When the news of the pulping of Musafir’s books had reached her a couple of days ago, Tilottama hadn’t thought things would go beyond a protest or two. The people of the city wouldn’t let go of things without a sign of protest. They got agitated at trivial things like who was included in a cricket team, and burned effigies and tyres in protest. They took out processions for Vietnam and Gaza. They could protest against him; but there would also be scores who would come out for her Musafir. They did when Firaz was hounded for his paintings of Goddesses.

‘And when they come out in large numbers, these goons will realize what it feels like standing before a civil society. They just can’t stifle Musafir’, she had confidently told her friends. What she did not realize was Musafir wasn’t exactly popular with the masses. His works were mostly literary and catered to niche readers. Her admiration for him had made her assume he was more popular than he really was.
Things had happened much faster than expected and spiralled out of control. Musafir’s printing press was vandalized and set on fire. Even as she and other Musafir fans watched, his books were dumped into that raging fire; words and hopes lost. The hundred odd fans tried to put up a bravefight, sang songs of freedom and stood with placards. But nothing worked. A couple of local channels had tried to stand by them in solidarity. The protest ended as a camera was smashed by the hoodlums on the road. People started fleeing fearing more violence.

‘They would kill us if they could’, Tilottama angrily spat out. ‘We were just so outnumbered. These were organized cadres. Yes, they were. Their bosses just can’t pretend to be innocent.’

A handful of policemen stood by pretending as if nothing was happening. The printing press was in one of the dingier parts of North Kolkata. It mainly did odd jobs like printing leaflets and bills, a few little magazines etc. and would print Musafir’s books on the sly. That is where he gave shape to his voice. The place was reportedly registered in the name of a man long dead, and people were left guessing who Musafir was. Some said the owner was a refugee who was avenging years of discontent. Some said his son was murdered by members of the ruling party. Some said he was just a frustrated man using the medium to lend himself a voice. To some other the entire idea was amusing and fascinating.

Tilottama grimaced and wiped her face clean. She was cutting a very sorry picture indeed, covered in grime andtears. All she could think of was her Musafir. She fought back her tears wondering what could have happened to her hero. For the past couple of years a strong wind of incumbency was blowing and Musafir’s voice had become stronger. Everything came under Musafir’s attack; from Dhaniajhapi to the burning of monks, the ban on English in government run schools, the apathy in the use of computers and much more. However, recently he had become vocal against all forms of religious appeasement and challenged the special religious laws. He had also set the stage against land acquisition bills, mismanaged industrialization plans and pre-election harangues. Musafir wrote as many books as possible bringing the discrepancies to light. And that is what brought about his downfall.

Tilottama sat on her bed and hugged her knees to her chest and went over the events of the day. She bit back the memory of the man who had asked her to let go of her placard, but that face would just not fade. 

‘What had he called himself,’ she wondered, ‘Ayushmaan . . .no Riddhimaan.’

He was a photographer! How dispassionate could he be?He had watched the carnage, merrily taken snaps and asked her to throw away her placard. If even the press did not come out in support of Musafir, then who would? Weren’t both of them fighting to make the pen immortal? Why was the media silent now; because Musafir didn’t have international backing, or corporate sponsors? She was upset that Poltu had shamelessly praised the man. Riddhimaan and the likes of him would give importance to writers only if they had a South Block or Writers’ Building backing.

‘I wish this government goes down. They will go down. I promise you Musafir they will,’ she told herself.
The loud banging of her window pane broke her reverie. The rains had lashed Kolkata with all their fury that evening. 

‘Even Mother Nature is angry. Drown the city, drown all of us. Since we have nowhere to go and hide our shame,’ Tilottama said aloud.

She continued to rant as she shut the window. She had hurt her finger in the process. Then she walked into her bedroom looking for the first aid box. As she cleaned the cut, the antiseptic made her skin burn and her thoughts drifted to Musafir. There was no way to divert her mind. Maybe reading Musafir would help, or maybe writing. Musafir always said he wrote to look for answers. Maybe she could do that too. But nothing gave her peace; maybe she was obsessed with the writer. The gag on Musafir was beginning to become a personal loss to her.

About Paulami Duttagupta 
Paulami DuttaGupta is a novelist and screen writer. She shuttles between Kolkata and Shillong. She has worked as a radio artist, copy writer, journalist and a television analyst at various stages of her life, having been associated with AIR Shillong, The Times of India—Guwahati Shillong Plus, ETV Bangla, The Shillong Times, Akash Bangla and Sony Aath.As an author, her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and literary magazines. A Thousand Unspoken Words is her fourth book. Paulami also writes on politics, social issues and cinema. Her articles have appeared in Swarajya, The Forthright and NElive. 
Paulami is associated with cinema and her first film, Ri-Homeland of Uncertainty received the National Award for the Best Khasi Film. Her second film Onaatah—Of the Earth is at post production stage and will release in 2016. She is currently working on her third screenplay. A short film tentatively titled ‘Patjhar’ is also in the pipeline.
Paulami is a complete foodie and is almost obsessed with watching one film every day. She also loves reading—political and social commentaries are her favourite genre. Literature classics and books on cricket are also a part of her library, apart from a huge collection of romances. Jane Austen’s fictional character Mr. Darcy is her lifelong companion. She is an ardent fan of Rahul Dravid and has been following all news about him for almost twenty years now.

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Book Blitz: Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari

Hello people,
Check out this newly launched book.


Cover Reveal:
SOUL WARRIOR - THE AGE OF KALI 
Book One
BY FALGUNI KOTHARI




Blurb 

Twisted myths. Discretion advised.
Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?
In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.
Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.

AUTHOR'S NOTE  TO LOVERS OF MYTHOLOGY....
WHAT HAVE I DONE WITH SOUL WARRIOR?

When you grow up in India, you are engulfed in tales of good and evil, gods and demons, karma and reincarnation on a daily basis. India’s myths are as much part of day-to-day life as is bathing. So I wondered if heaven and hell actually exists what would they look like? What are the good or bad souls doing in this Heaven and Hell? Are the souls in Heaven any happier being stuck there than the souls repenting in Hell? Do they want to come back to Earth as humans?

These questions were the basis of Soul Warrior’s mythos, as was Vedic India and the Mahabharata. India has such a rich offering of grand stories, and its people have a thirst to read them. I want to tell these stories, but in my way. I didn’t want to simply retell the popular tales. I wanted to reimagine them. Go beyond the known myths into the realm of pure fantasy.


Excerpt


SHUNYA: NOTHING AND EVERYTHING

Kuru Kshetra Battlefield.

Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, seven thousand five hundred years ago.
Death is hot.
That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat.
Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun.
What have I done?
I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties.
“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. “Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.”
There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything.
A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange.
Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone.
“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us.
I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain?
Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”
“Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.”
Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat.
“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”
Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.”
There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds.
I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture.
Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”
“Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human?
It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent?
“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”
I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting.
“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”
“You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”
I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down.
Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”
Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire.
Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth?
I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.
“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.
The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am.
Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am.
I am the Soul Warrior.

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Meet the Author

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: Ruby Iyer Diaries by Laxmi Hariharan

Good day everyone,
Presenting the review of Ruby Iyer Diaries by Laxmi Hariharan. Know more about the book at:
Book Blitz: The Ruby Iyer Diaries by Laxmi Hariharan





The story:
This is a prequel to the Ruby Iyer series. The author suggests we read it parallel or will want to read it after reading one of the books from the series.
Ruby Iyer is shown as the eldest daughter of an affluent family in South Mumbai. Her mom has no time or care for her. With the addition of her brother, she is always vying for her mothers attention. She is turning into a temper tantrum throwing girl instead of the lady-like-fine-young lady her mother wants her to be. Her dad is the coolest of the lot. Her mother looses her sanity more when they loose her brother to the 26/11 shooting at Taj. Stuck between her insecurities, her attempts for some motherly love, confusion, her temper which she has no control over, her desire to be free she has a hell of a time growing up and stepping into adulthood.

What I liked:
Child psychology.
A view into a child's mind, for that matter a girl-child. I could very well relate to her. Felt almost protective for her. Now I am watching myself when handling my kiddo :|
Lots of facets to the story. There is her mother, father, then her limited friends, the doctor (can bash him up :x), the servants, Pankaj,...
Thank god she was getting some help for her temper. Her training in sports and self defense.
Good, she stands up to the bullies in college and helps others.
She is a superb Tomboy, if I can use that word, being a feminist ;)

What I wanted more:
Guess, since I havent read the main story, it was a little confusing to read the prequel or the kid Ruby Iyer. I was waiting for the story to start but the book was over.
The numbering of chapters to my organised mind was disorienting :D
Now I want to read the main or full story, are you listening Laxmi Hariharan !

Buy a free copy here:


Take care and come back soon.
We have loads of books now. I am parallel y reading couple of them.


Book Blitz: The Ruby Iyer Diaries by Laxmi Hariharan

Good day people,
This book is a prequel to the 'Ruby Iyer' series. Giving an insight into the making of Ruby Iyer, the girl. Why she is what she is ?

Go on know more about the book and check the Review soon.


The Ruby Iyer Diaries
by 
Laxmi Hariharan



The Blurb


The prequel to The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer: This is a peek into the soul of an angry, young girl, who will come of age in a city on the verge of total annihilation.


The Series 



Buy @
Get a FREE copy of The Ruby Iyer Diaries here 


Meet the Author




She had an awesome time launching TV channels for MTV and NBCUniveral (Syfy) around the world, when a near death experience convinced Laxmi Hariharan that she had to get writing. A one-time journalist with The Independent, she has since published fast paced action thrillers with a dash of romance and a touch of the fantastical such as the multi award winning The Ruby Iyer Series. Featured among the top five women in media in India Today, she also blogs for the Huffington Post, has written for The Guardian and has been featured in many publications including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Telegraph and Verve. Married to a filmmaker and fellow author, her life often resembles a dramedy of errors film script. A Bombayite by birth, she lives in London, where she writes while listening to electronica and is an avid street art photographer. She is also the proud owner of a mononym Twitter handle @laxmi

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