31 January 2015

Review #137: Grace Unexpected by Gale Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Don't make something unless it is both made necessary and useful;
but if it is both necessary and useful,
don't hesitate to make it beautiful."
                                                            ---- Shaker dictum

According to Wikipedia, The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing is a religious sect, also known as the Shakers, founded in the 18th century in England, having branched off from a Quaker community. They were known as "Shaking Quakers" because of their ecstatic behavior during worship services.

Gale Martin, an award winning American author and one of my favorite authors, has yet once again enthralled my soul with her new book, Grace Unexpected featuring the American Shaker community and a woman with all her confused life's decisions to make.

Thirty-something Grace Savage has slogged through crummy jobs and dead-end relationships with men who would rather go bald than say "I do." In search of respite from her current job, she visits Shaker Village in New Hampshire. Instead of renewal, she's unnerved to learn that Shaker men and women lived and worked side by side in complete celibacy. When her longtime boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Grace avows the sexless Shaker ways. Resolved to stick to her new plan - dubbed the Shaker Plan - despite ovaries ticking like time bombs, she returns to her life in Pennsylvania. Almost immediately, she's juggling two eligible bachelors: Addison, a young beat reporter; and True, a venerable anthropology professor. Both men have ample charms and soul mate potential to test her new found Shaker-style self-control, and Grace appears to be on the fast track to a marriage proposal... until secrets revealed deliver a death rattle to the Shaker Plan.

29 January 2015

Review #136: Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.”
                                                              ---- Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd

Thomas Hardy, an English author, spun a spectacular and classic tale of love, Far from the Madding Crowd whose movie adaption is going to release in the month of May, starring Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge and Michael Sheen.

The first of Thomas Hardy’s great novels, Far From the Madding Crowd established the author as one of Britain’s foremost writers. It also introduced readers to Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England that served as the pastoral setting for many of the author’s later works.
It tells the story of beautiful Bathsheba Everdene, a fiercely independent woman who inherits a farm and decides to run it herself. She rejects a marriage proposal from Gabriel Oak, a loyal man who takes a job on her farm after losing his own in an unfortunate accident. He is forced to watch as Bathsheba mischievously flirts with her neighbor, Mr. Boldwood, unleashing a passionate obsession deep within the reserved man. But both suitors are soon eclipsed by the arrival of the dashing soldier, Frank Troy, who falls in love with Bathsheba even though he’s still smitten with another woman. His reckless presence at the farm drives Boldwood mad with jealousy, and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leads to both murder and marriage.
A delicately woven tale of unrequited love and regret, Far from the Madding Crowd is also an unforgettable portrait of a rural culture that, by Hardy’s lifetime, had become threatened with extinction at the hands of ruthless industrialization.

28 January 2015

Review #135: The Life You Left by Carmel Harrington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Where loved ones failed you, guardian angels stand ready to catch your fall.”
                                              ----Shannon L Alder, author

Carmel Harrington, an Irish author, entranced my mind with her new novel, The Life You Left , that lets us see the world and life in an all new way by making us belief with the existence and beauty of guardian angels, premonitions and by dealing with some life-altering problems with a positive attitude.

It started out like any other day for Sarah Lawler; getting the kids ready for school, making the pack lunches and juggling baby Ella's feeds. There was no way of knowing that her husband Paul would leave for work that morning and simply not come home.
Now the questions are piling up quicker than the unpaid bills and Sarah is getting desperate.
But it turns out she isn't quite as alone as she thought she was. When her beloved childhood friend Edward comes back into her life, Sarah thinks she's finally been thrown a life line.
There's just one problem with Edward: Sarah is the only person who can see him.

27 January 2015

Review #134: Dead Stars by Bruce Wagner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“It doesn't really matter if you are left behind the back, but what matters is your capacity to pull and push everyone by your way to get to the front.”
                                                            ----Michael Bassey Johnson, a Nigerian poet, playwright, novelist, aphorist, satirist, caricaturist and a newspaper columnist

Bruce Wagner, the American novelist, penned a very much controversial novel about the tinsel town called, Dead Stars featuring stardom with a violent background, provoking us to move foreword with it's flow, no matter how hard the road is.

At age thirteen, Telma is famous as the world’s youngest breast cancer survivor until threatened with obscurity by a four-year-old Canadian who’s just undergone a mastectomy … Reeyonna believes that auditioning for pregnant-teen porn online will help fulfill her dream of befriending Jennifer Lawrence and Kanye West … Biggie, the neurologically impaired adolescent son of a billionaire, spends his days Google Map-searching his mother-who abandoned home and family for a new love … Jacquie, a photographer once celebrated for taking arty nudes of her young daughter, is broke and working at Sears Family Portrait Boutique … Tom-Tom, a singer/drug dealer thrown off the third season of American Idol for concocting a hard-luck story, is hell-bent on creating her own TV series in the Hollywood Hills, peopled by other reality-show losers … Jerzy, her sometime lover, is a speed-freak paparazzo who “specializes” in capturing images of dying movie and television stars … And Oscar-winning Michael Douglas searches for meaning in his time of remission. While his wife, Catherine, guest-stars on Glee, the actor plans a bold, artistic, go-for-broke move: to star in and direct a remake of Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz…

What a book! After reading this book, I feel that probably Bruce Wagner has something against the life of people in and around Hollywood! My God! He just ripped down the whole tinsel town with his thoroughly satirical yet hart-breaking novel, Dead Stars.

Warning: If you can handle a filthy read that will screw up your brain, the definitely go for it. Otherwise, you might slam the book hard across the wall.

What I felt is that the plot is woven by the author keeping in mind that he would purely ridicule his readers or make us laugh over bad jokes or the otherwise cannot be true since Bruce Wagner is definitely a fantastic writer. While reading, I was totally caught off-guard with Wagner's sardonic undertone tightly wrapped up in this multi-layered storyline.

This story revolves around the 21st century American obsession with fame. The characters are real and striking- completely wasted in short. And the author have explained them with such intricacy that even though they will disgust you, but since you have learnt everything from their back-story to sob story with much greater depth, they will manage to enthrall you till it's very end.

Most people have hated this book till date, but when I heard that this book's movie adaption is soon going to hit the screens, I instantly purchased it online. Well, to be honest, I never read anything so raunchy and ridiculous like Wagner's Dead Stars ever before. This book will be your ultimate guidebook to the darkest world in Hollywood. At times, I was pulling my hair as to why did I ever purchased it and who will be so interested to watch it on the screen if they can't handle it's original version. Too much sex, over the top drug usage, teenage pregnancy, porn world, illicit affairs, 'text slang', sometimes it will make you enjoy the roller coaster ride of hormones and emotions but at the other times, you might feel like throwing up.

The language sometimes it is very evocative and at times, it can be pure garbage and will hit you like an unexpected snowstorm- hard and cold. Sometimes it will arrest your mind and at other times, it will make you feel ordinary. I never knew people can act so crazily to achieve stardom and Wagner has projected Hollywood in a really bad light. Well, my thoughts were never provoked even for once.

Verdict: Only read it if you can handle bad plots and raunchy characters.

Movie Info:
Starring: Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, and Robert Pattinson
Release Date: February 27, 2015
Note: The movie will be titled Maps to the Stars.

Author Info:
Bruce Wagner is the author of The Chrysanthemum Palace (a PEN Faulkner fiction award finalist); Still Holding; I'll Let You Go (a PEN USA fiction award finalist); I'm Losing You; and Force Majeure. He lives in Los Angeles.
Visit him here

Book Purchase Links:

View all my reviews

Review #133: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.”
                                                                   ----Kody Keplinger, The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Kody Keplinger, the American YA author, completely enthralled our minds with her debut teenage drama, The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend , which is about teenage issues like friendships, image issues, boy drama etc, presented in such a way by the author that it makes you revisit that period of your life when emotions ran high and friendships mattered the most above everything and for teenagers, this is an ideal book, since they can completely relate to all the issues.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

26 January 2015

Review #132: Feast of the Innocents by Evelio Rosero Diago

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.
----Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco, commonly known as Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan military and political leader who played a key role in Latin America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas.

Evelio Rosero Diago, a Colombian author, spun a remarkable tale about this notorious leader in the history of American politics- Simon Bolivar, in his book, La carroza de Bolívar , which is translated by Anne McLean, and Anna Milsom and the translated version is called, Feast of the Innocents.

Doctor Justo Pastor Proceso López, adored by his female patients but despised by his wife and daughters, has a burning ambition: to prove to the world that the myth of Simón Bolívar, El Libertador, is a sham and a scandal.
In Pasto, south Colombia, where the good doctor plies his trade, the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents is dawning. A day for pranks, jokes and soakings … Water bombs, poisoned empanaditas, ground glass in the hog roast – anything goes.
What better day to commission a float for The Black and White Carnival that will explode the myth of El Libertador once and for all? One that will lay bare the massacres, betrayals and countless deflowerings that history has forgotten.
But in Colombia you question the founding fables at your peril. At the frenzied peak of the festivities, drunk on a river of arguardiente, Doctor Justo will discover that this year the joke might just be on him.

Review #131: How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“You can see a person's whole life in the cancer they get.”
                                                  ----Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Elizabeth Hein, an American writer, who herself being a cancer survivor, crafts an edgy and inspiring contemporary story about fighting cancer and making new friends on the road to fighting cancer, in her new book, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower .

Lara Blaine believes that she can hide from her past by clinging to a rigid routine of work and exercise. She endures her self-imposed isolation until a cancer diagnosis cracks her hard exterior. Lara’s journey through cancer treatment should be the worst year of her life. Instead, it is the year that she learns how to live. She befriends Jane, another cancer patient who teaches her how to be powerful even in the face of death. Accepting help from the people around her allows Lara to confront the past and discover that she is not alone in the world. With the support of her new friends, Lara gains the courage to love and embrace life. Like climbing the Eiffel Tower, the year Lara meets Jane is tough, painful, and totally worth it.

Review #130: The Ashgabat Verdict by Hans Dominic Gaskin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Revenge is Always Sweet, it's the Aftertaste that's Bitter.”
                                                  ----Joshua Caleb, American writer

Hans Dominic Gaskin, a Guyanese writer, gripped our minds and hearts with his debut book, The Ashgabat Verdict that explores the under world as well as rich and powerful empire set across the Republic of Turkmenistan trying to build an underwater natural gas pipeline over the Caspian Sea, thus involving not only greed and power, but also revenge and justice.

Suspense, intrigue and lots of action are packed together in a riveting tale of greed and revenge that's set in the obscure but gas-rich Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan - Population: 5.1 million, Capital: Ashgabat, and home to billionaire business man Anton Nazarov whose close relatives are dropping dead one by one, for no apparent reason. Enter American Kevin Bradley, ex-Green Beret turned international trouble-shooter who is hired by Nazarov to help find the killer. Could a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project have anything to do with Mr. Nazarov's troubles? The plot thickens as a new and far more dangerous villain oozes into the picture, with a deadly plan designed to ignite fresh conflict in the Middle East. Who stands to gain? Could this too be tied to the lucrative pipeline project? Damsels in distress create extra complications for Bradley as he toggles between his client 's assignment and his personal loyalties.

24 January 2015

Guest Post by John Hennessy + Cover Reveal

A Writer's Confession by John Hennessy

In 2009, I was made redundant from my job of ten years. Far from being the end, it was the beginning of something - something big, interesting, and would become the most important thing to me at this time in my life.

I started my writing journey.

It began in the real world. My first title would be a non-fiction book, as I had to write about what I felt I was an authority on.

 Two years later, this book materialised as The Essence of Martial Arts.

It's been a great aid to my students, and I learned a lot about the writing process as I went through it.

It was more work, more headache inducing than I thought. But it was also very rewarding.

When it was completed, students wanted the follow up. But I wanted a break from it.

Almost immediately, at the end of 2011, I began to write Stormling. This book went through so many re-drafts, it did not emerge until 2014, nearly three whole years! This should put paid to some voices of opinion, that feel self-published authors just want to get any old rubbish out there as fast as they can!

I am not the best writer out there, far from it. But as my first editor said, 'writing is a craft'. Trite words? Possibly. But at the time, I needed to hear them. And I still do!

Although 'Stormling' was the story I completed, it was just a draft, and needed a lot of work.

Needing a break from 'fantasy', I had an idea for a story about a girl who was given an item of some major significance. The backdrop was to be a scary forest, and denizens of the undead were to come and claim it from her - and possibly her life, if she resisted.

Easy story in concept, but was hard to write in actuality.

That said, given the valuable practice gained on Stormling, the writing process itself became easier.

It was probably safe to say I had become addicted to writing at this point!

I felt I had 'something', and so I sought the self-publishing route, as Amanda Hocking had done so well via the method.

I didn't expect to replicate her success, but just write the very best story I could. I did, however, seek a good cover for my books, and I chose Amanda's artist for the Dark Winter and Stormling covers.

I've completed six books to date, five fiction titles amongst them, but I retain my fascination as a reader, and I will read pretty much anything.

I cannot thank readers, bloggers, reviewers enough for their kind support thus far. I take something from each review, and the best kind are those that offer critique that is hard, but fair.

In the end, the writer does the best they can. I hope if you give one of my books a try, you'll enjoy them.

I think my main interest as a writer is horror. For this, I would recommend my Tale of Vampires series, the third novella of which will be out in May 2015.

The Dark Winter trilogy, which completes in Autumn 2015, could fall under paranormal fantasy for YA. It has some strong horror elements perhaps not suitable for the youngest of readers.

Last but not least, Stormling is a fantasy in the mold of Lord of the Rings - but it is a lot different from that Middle-earth world!

I would like to thank the blog host Aditi Saha for inviting me to talk about my book journey.

I hope to see you along for the ride.

John's Bio:

John Hennessy is a young adult / new adult novelist whose preferred writing genre is horror, and has authored the Dark Winter series as well as the fantasy epic Stormling.
He dreams of being a successful author, but this dream sometimes gets pushed aside for the dream of wanting to be Batman.
Gotham fixations aside, he is a huge fan of the paranormal, he will actively visit reported ghost haunts and it could be said that they served as inspiration for his debut fiction novel; Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle
Inbetween writing Book Two of the series, Dark Winter: Crescent Moon, he released the fantasy epic Stormling, which is the first book of the Mordana Chronicles.


The Blood and the Raven (A Tale of Vampires: II)
Innocent While She Sleeps (A Tale of Vampires: III)
Clara's Song
Dark Winter #3
Gorswood Tales: I (A Dark Winter spin-off)


Stormling (fantasy)
Dark Winter: Crescent Moon (paranormal horror - YA to Adult)
Murderous Little Darlings (A Tale of Vampires: I)


Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle


The Essence of Martial ArtsThe first short story he ever wrote brought together Fagan, Lizzie Bennett, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, which despite impressing his long suffering English teacher, thankfully remains unpublished.

For recreation he will visit paranormal hotspots, but prefers to write about ghosts rather than meet them. He also believes almost any problem can be overcome so long as there is an inexhaustible supply of tea and biscuits. He also has an obsession with Batman and anything Gotham.
In 2015, the short novella horror The Blood and the Raven: A Tale of Vampires, Book Two, the final Dark Winter story will be released, as will a new suspense / horror thriller entitled Clara's Song.
In his own words: "I write because I love to write, create something from nothing. If people love that too, be the few or many, I am delighted to know this, each and every time. I love to connect and hear from fellow authors, readers, anyone who loves books. A writer can never feel lonely if he has this most unique of support groups!"

Connect With John On: Facebook | Twitter| Blog | Email

Cover Reveal: 

Finally the wait is over. The cover of John's upcoming book- the last book from the Dark Winter Series is unveiled.

Dark Winter: Last Rites by John Hennessy


**drum rolls**




What would you risk losing, in order to win?
As the Crescent Moon set on that last day of winter, the residents of Gorswood realized that the horrors that had been contained in the woods for so long, had finally risen, and were coming for them.
With the fate of Romilly, Beth, and Gorswood’s greatest ever witch uncertain, an age-old evil senses its time has come, threatening to cover the inhabitants of Gorswood in a new and never ending terror.

Even if the newest owner of the Mirror of Souls is to prevail, at what cost will her victory be?

Meanwhile, the last rites on a long dead demon need to be performed. But her spirit resides in the most terrifying place of all, meaning that a choice will have to be made.

A choice that will affect the entire world…..

Add Dark Winter: Last Rites on your Goodreads TBR shelf


Review #129: The Recession Groom by Vani Kaushal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The bottom line is that we never fall for the person we're supposed to.”
----Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

Vani, an Indian author, took a spin on Indian marriage, recession and love with her debut book, The Recession Groom .

Parshuraman Joshi, 27, handsome, Hindu-Brahmin, IT Professional, settled in Canada, earns a high-figure salary.
These are credentials that would make any young man hot on the Indian wedding market, so it's no wonder that Parshuraman's family is inundated with matrimonial proposals. While so far all attempts to 'settle' him have gone kaput, he has bigger issues vexing him - such as Jennifer, his 'fireball' of a colleague, and their efforts to save Project Infinite. To top it all, as the credit crisis grips the global economy, the little world he's created for himself begins to fall apart. Will he be able to pull himself together to face the challenges posed by a tough economy? More importantly, will this Recession Groom be able to find his 'perfect partner'?

23 January 2015

Review #128: Serena by Ron Rash

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“We want what's in this world but we also want what ain't.”

                                             ----Ron Rash, Serena

Ron Rash, the American NY Times Best Selling author, captivated with our hearts with his his award winning book, Serena, that once again revolves around a bad marriage and a greedy, lonely wife. I had to purchase this book, when I got to know that the movie adaption of Serena is releasing on October, 2015 and the best part is that two of my favorite actors are playing the lead roles- Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. And honestly after reading this books, my hopes are really running high on the movie which is directing by Susanne Bier.

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Author Q&A Session #26: With Clare Dowling

Good afternoon and Good morning folks,
Today in an all new session of Author Q&A, we have the Irish best-selling author, Clare Dowling, who entrances our hearts and minds every time she releases a heart-warming novel. Author of 12 deeply moving and equally entertaining novels that tells us a story inspired from our everyday lives. So let's talk with her to know more about her, her career, her books and life beyond books!

Read the review of A Special Delivery

Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, Clare. Congratulations on your latest book, A Special Delivery. Can you please share with us the story behind the book, A Special Delivery?

Clare: Thanks, Aditi! ‘A Special Delivery’ is a story about the Bradys, a working-class family from Dublin who, like a lot of families, have their fair share of skeletons in the closet. But when a baby is abandoned in their front garden, their world is turned upside down, with the paternity of the baby in hot dispute. A tragic-comedy, the central characters are mother Aisling, and teenage parents Nicola and Anto, who are all struggling to come to terms with this new addition to the family – and what has happened in the past.


Me: Who/What was the inspiration behind A Special Delivery?

Clare: I had this book pretty much planned out, but when I started to write it, the teenage voices of Anto and Nicola intended as minor characters began to take over almost immediately. This doesn’t often happen to me. I like to know where things are going! But I decided to take a chance on it and see where it led. So what started out as a middle-aged couple trying to adjust to their children leaving home, ended up being pulled back by about ten years, to become a big family drama with the children very much still at home.

Me: Why do you prefer to write about family drama and issues related to family, relationships and events from our every day lives?

Clare: As a reader, I’ve always preferred stories that take a look at normal life, in all its ordinariness and extra-ordinariness. I’m a huge fan of Anne Tyler, who does this brilliantly. Life happens on such a small scale for most of us, with no Hollywood happenings or big endings, but that’s not to say it’s boring. Far from it – it’s in the everyday stuff, the routines, the relationships, the people in your life where the big, human dramas often happen. 

Me: In your bio, it says that you've been a theater actress as well as an award winning short films producer/screenwriter. How/When did you choose the road to writing novels? And describe your journey so far as an author?

Clare: I trained as an actress, and worked in theater for most of my twenties, co-founding a women’s theater company. We found it difficult to find plays with good parts for young women, and I ended up writing a stage play for our company to produce. Gradually, I moved away from acting and more into writing plays at first, and then journalism to pay the bills. I also had two short films produced,before taking a sidestep into television. I’m a regular screenwriter on an Irish soap, ‘Fair City’, and for children’s television. I wrote my first novel fifteen years ago just three chapters and a synopsis to start off with, and when I got an expression of interest from a publisher, I was forced to actually write the book. I loved the experience so much that I now write a novel every eighteen months. I balance it with my television work. I love the solitary nature of novel writing, but I also need the sociability and buzz of television writing! I’ve been very lucky to be able to combine the two. 

Me: Was it always your one true dream to be a writer? And apart from writing novels and scripts, what other passions do you have?

Clare: I always had a love of writing, even when I was very young. I was a great reader and essay writer all through school, and by my teens I was writing many flowery, over-the-top melodramas that I would be too embarrassed now to show anybody! In my spare time, I go running, and I also play on a women’s football team, to counterbalance sitting in front of a computer and drinking coffee all day long.

Me: In your book, A Special Delivery, can you tell us one trait of your protagonist, Aisling, that intrigue you the most?

She’s a coper, like a lot of women who balance work and family, and often don’t get a lot of credit for it. She’s caught between so many people and pressures that she feels almost swallowed up by her family. But with the arrival of the abandoned baby, we see her roar having made so many mistakes with her own children, she’s going to fight to get the best for this baby, and that’s when she becomes a force to be reckoned with. 

Me: Who is your inspiration in your life? And in this New Year, please tell us about your one New Year resolution.

Clare: As a writer, I don’t have to look far for inspiration. There are so many wonderful writers putting out fantastic books at the moment, such as Jojo Moyes, Donna Tartt and Gillian Flynn, to name but a few. I always have several books on the go at any one time, which is one of the nicest parts of being a writer – and I’ll often overcome a dry spell by reading something by one of my favourite authors.
My one New Year resolution is to make more time for reading. There are a lot of demands on our time – take a bow, Twitter, and Facebook – and precious reading time can get whittled away if I’m not careful.

Me: How will you describe your normal writing day and how do you unwind after a long day's work?

Clare: I write while my children are in school, and knock off in the afternoon when they’re home. I usually end up going back at night to catch up, so weekdays tend to be full on. I try not to work at the weekends. As a television writer, there’s nothing I like more than sitting down with a box set or Netflix, and watching a couple of episodes back-to-back of one of the many brilliant TV shows out there. 

Me: What's next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Clare: I’m currently in the middle of my next book, Two Good People, about Harriet and Nick, who rediscover each other on Facebook after a period of twenty years. It’s a funny, sad, and tangled story about whether resurrecting a First Love is ever a good idea – especially when they are wives, kids and careers involved. And my heroine, Harriet, will develop claws, which I’m quite interested in – women who are not necessarily always likeable.  

Me: Thank you so much, Clare, for having this interview session with me for my blog. I can only wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

Clare: Thank you, Aditi, it’s been great chatting with you! 

Clare's Bio:

Clare Dowling is a screenwriter and bestselling author. She's had many jobs, including as an actress, a waitress and a legal secretary before turning to writing full-time. She's had eleven novels published, and she also writes scripts for television. She lives in Dublin with her family.
Visit her here

Connect With Clare On: Facebook | Twitter | Author Website | Goodreads | Email

22 January 2015

Author Q&A Session #25: With Gail Mencini

Hello and welcome to my blog,
In an all new Author Q&A Session, I present you with the first-time author, Gail Mencini, who took us on a trip through the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany with her novel, To Tuscany With Love, which is heart-touching story about friends, love and loss. Read the interview below to know more about Gail and how she wrote this incredible novel.

Read the review of To Tuscany With Love

Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, Gail. Congratulations on your debut book, To Tuscany With Love. Can you please tell us about the story behind the book, To Tuscany With Love?

Gail: Hello, Aditi. Thank you for asking me to visit with you on your blog! 
It has been a whirlwind of activity since the release of my debut novel, To Tuscany with Love.
The actual writing took much longer than I like to admit. 
First, I polished my craft by writing, attending workshops and conferences, and reading books on the many aspects of writing a novel. Next, I plotted the book and developed my character sketches. Since this novel has many points of view, I developed a spreadsheet to keep track of the characters, their individual motivations, slang words, and appearances. Then, I wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote again after my editor got her hands on it. 
In the process of writing my manuscript, “life” happened to me, as it did to my characters. What do I mean by “life?” Family needs, work demands, and health issues.  I am a breast cancer survivor. That took time, too.
Eventually, To Tuscany with Love was completed and selected for publication, but my work wasn’t done.  Proofing, developing my website and social media presence, and marketing the book were just beginning. 
What an adventure! Now, I’m busy with all of this, plus writing my second novel. I feel very blessed and love connecting with readers, whether through social media or in person at events and reading groups.

Me: What inspired the inception of this story in your mind?

The premise of the story—a reunion of a semester abroad class of students—came from a family friend.  This friend mentioned in passing that he was heading to Europe for a reunion of his semester abroad class.
I thought, “How fun! I wonder if these people who met during those very impressionable college years have anything in common now?”
I know nothing of my friend’s actual reunion, or any of the people who attended. This premise, though, started haunting my waking and sleeping hours and the characters came into my head, eventually demanding I tell their story.
Their story is To Tuscany with Love.

Me: How did you come up with so many diverse characters in your book, To Tuscany With Love? And tell me one trait of each of your primary characters that intrigues you the most?

Gail: The premise of meeting during a college semester abroad, and later returning for a reunion, evolved through these eight characters. 
Once I began pondering the basic premise, these eight characters bombarded me, each competing for my attention to their individual stories. They are all fictional characters and, to my friends delight, bear no resemblance to anyone I know.
Creating a story with so many diverse characters was an ambitious undertaking for a first-time author, but I “heard their story” through their individual points of view, and that’s how I wrote it.

Since the semester abroad and later reunion takes place in Italy, I wanted one of my characters to be Italian-American. Bella, a single child born to an unwed, financially challenged mother, wants most what she was denied as a child—a traditional family comprised of two parents and children. I love her passion and how an integral part of her growth as a character is her reluctant accountability for her actions and assuming responsibility for her own future.

I wanted a character with a very diverse background from the others, which became Stillman, the Southern gentleman who rises above a poor and abused childhood.  The intriguing thing for me about Stillman is determining his true underlying motivation. 
I frequently visit reading groups, and will Skype with book groups located anywhere in the world. A frequent topic for debate at these groups is delving into Stillman’s true motivation, which stems from his childhood background.

A California athlete, Phillip, added geographic diversity to the mix. Phillip is one of those people that one thinks they know until they dig deeper to discover his true being. I love that Phillip is much more complex than one might originally imagine.

Rune is the Midwest boy gone bad and I wanted to spice up the dynamics with a “wild child.” Rune named himself. His line, “My name is Rune, and I’ll ruin you this summer”, came to me in the beginning of imagining my characters. He was especially fun to write, perhaps because he is so different from the obedient Midwest girl that I was growing up.

I know people who do the bidding of their family even though it goes against their own desires, needs, and passions. Do you know anyone like that? This is Lee.  Grappling with these divergent needs and demands become Lee’s personal demon, which is what makes him intriguing.

Meghan and Karen
These beautiful, affluent twins from Chicago are identical twins by appearance, but very different characters in personality and motivation. I am lucky to have two sisters and a brother, and I value sibling relationships. The special relationship between siblings is intriguing to me as a writer, and even more so, the relationship and dynamics between twins.

Hope, the straight forward, yet complex, girl from Colorado is my character of hope. I love how the reunion and her friends from long ago become a vehicle for her self-actualization.
Can you tell that I love, for different reasons, all of my characters?

Me: How did you research for the plot? Did you travel to Italy for this purpose? Tell us about your trip to Italy.

Gail: I was fortunate to have visited Italy and Tuscany a few times with family and friends before, and also during, writing the novel. My trips occurred for recreational purposes rather than solely for research, but I dream that someday future book royalties would support research to wonderful places like Italy!
During these trips, I visited most, if not all, of the sites in Tuscany mentioned in the novel, although I may have altered exact details and names for fictional purposes. Since the novel’s release, I received excellent feedback from people who have toured these areas in Tuscany, with remarks that the novel helped them revisit their favorite places. Other readers have used it as a tour guide to plan their trip, which I view as a rewarding and delightful compliment.
I toured Tuscany by Vespa with a group where a tour company was in charge of arrangements, which was a remarkable experience. I booked other trips to Italy myself for my husband, four sons, and I, using guidebooks and the Internet for planning and scheduling. The cities and hill towns mentioned in To Tuscany with Love are some of my favorite places that I’ve visited in Italy and I love being able to share them with my readers.

Me: How will you describe your journey so far as an author?

Gail: Surreal. A dream come true! Exciting. An education. Exhausting.

Me: How did you become an author? And was it always your one true dream to be an author and name us one author who inspired you to take this road of writing novels?
Gail: I am a lifelong lover of books and reading. At college, I studied accounting and economics with the goal of having a profession to support myself. I should have suspected my true passion was writing though, as all of my elective courses were Literature classes.  After college, I practiced as a CPA and tax consultant for many years.
One hot July summer in Key West, Florida my husband and I toured Ernest Hemingway’s house. There, I felt the potent being and presence of Ernest Hemingway as strong as if he were standing next to me. 
Smacked in the face with the master writer’s ghost and palpable presence, I confessed my secret desire to write books. Unlike me, though, my husband felt only the heat and humidity and not a trace of Ernest. That was my start to writing.
My confession led to a novel that won contests, but otherwise never saw the light of day. Years of writing, revising, and rejections occurred, and then a kernel of an idea, and several trips to Italy, evolved into To Tuscany with Love.

Me: How will you describe your normal writing day like? And what are ways you unwind yourself from the stress of a long day's work?

Gail: I am an early riser. On most days, I will exercise and then walk our dog, often getting plot ideas during the walk. The next hours I spend writing at my computer. I sit by a window with view to open space or carry my laptop to an outside table if the weather is nice—my favorite part of the workday! Nature is definitely a muse for me. 
I leave marketing, emails, bills, appointments, and correspondence for the late afternoon and evening.
I love to cook and try new recipes, which is relaxing for me and usually rewarding for my family. My favorite way to unwind after a stressful day, though, is to sit and visit with my husband. In our family, we believe in celebrating all manner of events and things, and have done that since our sons were very young. We celebrate sunsets in honor of Key West (a tradition there and a nod to my start in writing) and al fresco dining in memory of our cherished times dining in Italian piazzas.

Me: After writing this book, what did you expect the readers of your book to draw from it's conclusion?

Gail: At the end, the characters in To Tuscany with Love realize the strength and power of friendship and love.  Their reunion is a turning point in their lives.
My hope is that readers will take a moment to think about their own lives. If a person is not happy with the direction their life is going now, I hope they take stock of it, think of what they would like to change, and move with purpose and passion in the direction of their dreams. It’s never too late!

Me: What's next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Gail: To Tuscany with Love is the first in the Tuscany series. I am busy working on the second in the series, which brings a different cast of American characters to new hill towns in Tuscany. It is not a sequel, but carries similar themes of self-actualization and redemption.

Me: Thank you so much Gail for sparing time to have this interview session with me for my blog. I can only wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

It is truly my pleasure, Aditi, to visit with you through your blog. Thank you most kindly for your time, your interest, and your review of To Tuscany with Love!  Grazie!

Gail's Bio:


Gail Mencini makes her literary debut with “To Tuscany with Love” (January 2014, Capriole Group) an adult coming-of-age novel set in central Italy.
Born in rural Nebraska, Mencini graduated with honors in 1976 from Wartburg College in Waverly,Iowa, where she majored in accounting, economics and business administration. She holds a Master of Laws of Taxation degree from the University of Denver College of Law.
Mencini co-owned an accounting firm and practiced for 15 years in public accounting, specializing in tax law related to mergers and acquisitions and real estate. She also spent time in the higher education field, working as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado and Metro State College, as well as the University of Denver College of Law. She was a repeat speaker at national continuing education seminars and
a featured presenter in a real estate conference in the Caribbean.

In 1990 when she married her husband, Mencini became an “instant mother” of three boys plus another son two years later, which opened the doors to becoming a full-time mother and igniting her long-time passion for creative arts, gourmet cooking and traveling.
She went on to become a contributing editor and photojournalist for Buzz in the ‘Burbs, writing monthly cooking columns featuring dinner themes, recipes and complementary wine suggestions. She also served as interim director of marketing for Wine Master Cellars as the company transitioned to new leadership. She has been a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for nearly 20 years as well as the Pikes Peak Writers for over 10. She most recently joined Author U based in Aurora, Colo.
She writes and cooks in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and family who are always ready to critique her abundance of story ideas and recipes.

Connect With Gail On: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Author Website | Goodreads | Email

Review #127: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alice: I miss myself

                                                       ----Julianne Moore, as Dr. Alice Howard in the film Still Alice

Honestly speaking, I never heard of this book until I watched the movie, Still Alice, directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. Soon after, I purchased a paperback copy of the book online and read it, and that is when I realized that I missed those clever undertones of Lisa Genova, hence I had to watch the movie one more time.

The American author, Lisa Genova, created a masterpiece with her heart-wrenching debut book, Still Alice and the screen adaption of which automatically sky-rocketed the sales of the book, Still Alice in the last month.And that's how I learned about the book!

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease changes her life.
As the inevitable descent into dementia strips away her sense of self, fiercely independent Alice struggles to live in the moment. While she once placed her worth and identity in her celebrated and respected academic life, now she must reevaluate her relationship with her husband, a respected scientist; her expectations of her children; and her ideas about herself and her place in the world.

21 January 2015

How to Handle Your Overflowing Book Review Requests

Hello and good morning my fellow bloggers and readers!

Yesterday, I didn't get a single moment to check my inbox because of huge work load in my office, so when I went back home and opened my mailbox, there were almost 150 unread emails received within 10-12 hours duration, I know many people might receive more emails in a day than I do, but what shocked me was to see that most of them were review requests!
I know, my fellow bloggers and reviewers would agree to this situation, whoever accepts review requests from all over the world without any barrier or judgement. So what to do, how to respond to all these people, is it really possible to make everyone happy and satisfied- all these questions are so hard to answer, if reviewing is your part-time job, like me. If you're a student (school or university), then it's not hard to keep up with the requests, but if you've have a 10-7 job like me, then I must confess that it's not an easy business to deal with and people like us have to keep a lot of stuffs in mind while agreeing to the review requests.

Whatsoever, today in this blog post, I'm going to suggest you fellow bloggers or part-time reviewers, like me, what to do when your inbox is flooded with book review requests! I'll share with you the tips that I generally follow in a situation like this.
Read along to know the simple steps of how to handle  a flood load of book review requests everyday!

1. Remember, you're never ever obliged to read each and every book just because you're a bibliophile.

Learn to judge a book by it's genre and it's synopsis. I understand, bibliophiles have a weak heart when it comes to choosing a book for a review. You feel like you want to read all the books available in the world, but remember this Life is short, so don't try to spend away your whole day in only reading books. Adjust your schedule or if you don't have one, make a schedule or chart in Microsoft Excel with the layout of date, number of pages you're planning to read, thus finalizing a review date. Moreover, if you're not a full time blogger like me, then sometimes cut a little slack in your life.

2. There's more than book reviews if you're a book blogger.

Are you a new blogger in town, and have no idea what to post other than book reviews and author interviews and giveaways, then you're at the right place to know what to do!
Firstly, please don't make your blogs boring like mine! I know I'm strictly a book reviewer, who only posts about book reviews and author interviews on her blog. Remember this, if you want to attract readership in your blog, then you must learn to bring some flair and must learn to curb the monotony from your blog posts, and the only way to do is to spunk up the diversity in your blog posts. Remember this: there's no harm in talking about your life or talking about your favorite character or talking about the pet peeves or talking about a guy you have a crush on in your blog posts. This is your blog and you have the right to post anything as long as it is not sad, depressing or explicit. Readers love funny stuffs or especially the What to do posts, so invent some topics on your mind and write about it! Trust me on this, the day you post a book review and the day you post a random post about any random topic (useful stuff!!) in the world, your page view count increases by at least 5-10 percent. Try it, you can see the results by yourself. Hence learn to overcome your bloggers block!

3. "My Shelf is Overflowing"- Best Excuse

Now what to do, if you didn't like the synopsis of the book that you were requested to write a review for. Simply, say that your book shelf is over flowing at the moment and politely say that I'll contact you once my shelf gets some space. Never ever ignore an author. Always reply your emails, that shows that you're keen to review the book, but due to limited time, you can't! I don't believe in putting up a note on your blog saying: Currently, we are not accepting any review requests"
I'm totally against it! Receive the emails, there's no harm in it, but reply them politely.

Okay so try to follow these 3 steps in order to handle your ever growing review request! Get back to me, if it doesn't work and even if it does, you still get back to me to say thanks!

Happy Reading!

19 January 2015

Review # 126: Hopebreaker by Dean F. Wilson

My rating:
4 of 5 stars

“Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it's the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. ...Science fiction is central to everything we've ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don't know what they're talking about.”
----Ray Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet

Well I'm not a big fan of science-fiction books, but Bradbury's striking words are not only true but it's spectacular! Dean F. Wilson, an Irish author, is one hell of a gem in this vast ocean of science-fiction writers. His new steampunk book, Hopebreaker which happens to be the first book in the Hopebreaker series. The tale is about a different world in some other galaxy where human race has stopped reproducing and the demon has started to arise. But a war rises between two factions because of a drug, called Hopebreaker.

In the world of Altadas, there are no more human births. The Regime is replacing the unborn with demons, while the Resistance is trying to destroy a drug called Hope that the demons need to survive.
Between these two warring factions lies Jacob, a man who profits from smuggling contraceptive amulets into the city of Blackout. He cares little about the Great Iron War, but a chance capture, and an even more accidental rescue, embroils him in a plot to starve the Regime from power.
When Hope is an enemy, Jacob finds it harder than he thought to remain indifferent. When the Resistance opts to field its experimental landship, the Hopebreaker, the world may find that one victory does not win a war.

18 January 2015

Author Q&A Sesssion #24: With Jacob M. Appel

Good Morning Folks! 
Hello and welcome to another new session of author interview, and today we have the author behind the incredible book, The Biology of Luck- Jacob M. Appel. So let's chat with him to know more about his books, his life and life beyond books!!

Read the review of The Biology of Luck


Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, Jacob. Congratulations on your new book, The Biology of Luck. Please briefly share with us the story behind the book, The Biology of Luck?

Jacob:  I wrote the book more than a fifteen years ago, starting when I was a graduate student in Andre Aciman’s workshop at New York University.  I had written an earlier novel, recently published as The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, and when my agent was unable to sell that manuscript, I placed both in the trunk of my car and largely forgot about them.  Then in 2013, my boss at the creative writing program where I teach part-time mentioned he knew of an independent publisher seeking manuscripts, and on a whim, I retyped The Biology of Luck and sent it out.  And then—as in all publishing stories—I got very lucky.  The key to being a great writer is not talent.  Talent grows on trees.  And shower curtains, unfortunately.  Luck, in contrast, can be very difficult to come by…..

Me: What was your source of inspiration in this book, The Biology of Luck?

Jacob:  I want to begin be emphasizing what was NOT the source of inspiration for this book.  Namely, any women I have known personally.  Several former romantic partners of mine seem to believe that they provided the basis for Starshine, the main female character.  They (and their attorneys, if they have them) can be certain this is not the case.  Nor am I anything like Larry.  But I do frequent the 125th Street Post Office in Manhattan and the service is as deplorable as described in the novel.  Possibly worse.

Me: Your book is set across the five boroughs of New York. Did you travel to each one of them for the purpose of research?

Jacob:  I am a licensed New York City touring guide, so I know all of these locations very well.  That meant there was no need to revisit them for research.  Besides, as a resident of Manhattan, I’m limited to one visit to Staten Island per lifetime—anything more my compromise my reputation.

Me: Your first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in the year 2012. How will you describe your moment when you learned that you won such a prestigious award?

Jacob:  At first, I was suspicious it was a joke.  I didn’t actually remember submitting my manuscript, so I figured it might be a prank….that I’d end up on the Scottish version of Candid Camera.  Now, every time my phone rings, I hope someone’s calling to award me a prize….I’d settle for a minor Nobel…I’d even share it.  Alas, usually the call is someone trying to sell me carpet cleaner.


Me: How will you describe your journey so far as an author? And was it always your one true dream to be an author?

Jacob:  My one true dream was to date Sophia Loren.  Alas, that seems less and less likely.  My backup dream was to date Karen Russell.  Alas, she also seems spoken for.  You might say my backup backup dream was to be a writer.  Alas, my journey has been slow and tortuous.  Like traveling down the Mississippi in a raft or hunting a white whale.  I keep asking the captain, “Am I an author yet?” and he keeps telling me to go back down to my cabin and keep my mouth shut.

Me: Tell us one trait of your protagonist, Larry Bloom in The Biology of Luck, that intrigue you the most.

Jacob:  Larry has considerable insight into his shortcomings, which are many.  Most people with many shortcomings have much less insight into their limitations.  Several former bosses of mine come to mind.  I meet people every day, and I think, “Everyone you know despises you, and you don’t even realize it.  But one day you will realize it, and then….”  I try to wear my shortcomings on my sleeves, so there is no mistaking them.

Me: What do you expect your readers to get away with after reading your book, The Biology of Luck?

Jacob:  Paper cuts.  Lots of them.  Maybe a sprained thumb from turning pages too quickly.  It’s that good a book.  But I’d also like them to have a sense of appreciation for the suffering of others, for the poor ordinary sops who struggle below the radar screen of life.  That’s Larry.  He could use a hug.

Me: How will you describe your normal writing day? And how do you get away from the stress of a long day's work?

Jacob:  I’m a doctor, so I don’t have a very hard job.  I show up at the hospital; sick people show up at the hospital.  No need to advertise or drum up business.  No fear that there won’t be enough patients.  People forget that—unlike lawyers or businesspeople—physicians never have to look for work.  The stressful part of the day is the writing.  In medicine, my ability to kill people is very limited….by law, custom, oversight.  A nurse might look over and say, “Please stop strangling that patient.”  But in front of my computer, I can kill off characters on a whim.  Out of pity.  Out of spite.  Just for plain amusement.  That’s a lot of responsibility for one man to carry.

Me: What's next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Jacob:  I’ve given up wearing sleeves.  Too many shortcomings to hang on them.  I’ve also given up hats.  Too many rabbits hanging out in them and there’s nothing worse for a man’s hair than rabbit claws.  But I do have two books on my agent’s desk.  Novels.   Brilliant ones, I might add, if my grandmother’s opinion is to be trusted.  If you’re a major publisher and you’d like to buy them, please be in touch.

Me: Thank You so much Jacob for sparing time to have this interview session for my blog. I can only wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

Jacob:  My pleasure.  And thank you for reading my book.  You may have doubled my readership singlehandedly.  

Jacob's Bio:

Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch. His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received "special mention" for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013. 
Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown University, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University, an M.S. in bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, an M.D. from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, an M.F.A. in play writing from Queens College, an M.P.H. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He currently practices psychiatry in New York City.

Connect With Jacob On: Facebook | Author Website | Goodreads | Email