Saturday, 23 July 2016

blackthorn - haiku

the struggles
gleam from each wrinkle
-smiling lady

©Nimi Arora

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Carpe Diem #1001 Blackthorn

ascension - haiku

The Theme Week #5 at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai is about Ascension.

The dictionary meanings of Ascension include:

  • the action of rising to an important position or a higher level.
  • the ascent of Christ into heaven on the fortieth day after the Resurrection.
The host of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, Chèvrefeuille has broadened the spiritual threshold of this subject.
He says: "...ascension describes how we humans can ascend to a new dimension through spiritual growth."

Guru Nanak Dev ji has written about five realms or stages of spiritual progress leading man to the Ultimate Truth. (Source)
  1. The realm of righteous action (Dharam Khand)
  2. The realm of knowledge (Gian Khand)
  3. The realm of spiritual endeavour (Saram Khand)
  4. The realm of grace (Karam Khand)
  5. The realm of truth (Sach Khand)
The journey through the five stages is not an ascension into some higher regions beyond our lives and our world; rather, it is based on drawing the Divine into the human situation. (Source: Sikhism, An Introduction by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh)

within us
the truth of it all
-guru says

the colorful rays
merge in each one
-actual bliss

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Friday, 8 July 2016

A story of fate, faith, and love that lasts forever (Book Review: Elaine Pinter's Eternal Mercury)

Eternal Mercury

Title: Eternal Mercury
Author: Elaine Pinter

Eternal Mercury is an emotionally charged story of love.

It begins with the word 'Perfect'. That's how Chelsee Taylor describes her life as the book begins. She is about to graduate from high school, her childhood friend Max is now her boyfriend, and her life ahead is all figured out.

In the beginning, even as Chelsee describes her 'perfect' life, as she tells that she is always smiling, as she explains the heady feeling she gets every time Max kisses her, surprisingly, it doesn't read as a cheesy account coming from the inexperience and illusions of youth.
Rather there is a serenity that rings true.

Eternal Mercury has a short preface that describes an accident.
Thanks to this preface, the author manages to keep you on tenterhooks despite this serenity, waiting for that crash to happens.

It starts as a sweet story of young love, and moves on to one of loss and pain.
When Max dies and Chelsee can still feel his presence, the story moves to another level. One where as a reader, you wonder about whether what Chelsee is describing is true, or is she just not able to let go of Max's memories.
It's heart-rendering to read about Chelsee searching for the 'Max Feeling', which she can feel occasionally.

The concept of Mercury woven into the emotions of this story is very interesting.
"You can only see it right before sunrise or right after sunset and it's always low on the horizon. It's elusive like that because it's so close to the sun, but it's always there, eternally, even when the conditions aren't right to see it."

I have to say that I did figure out the twist in the story sometime before it was actually revealed.
"It's amazing how fate gives you exactly what you need at just the right moment."

Eternal Mercury is divided into two parts. Book one is from Chelsee's perspective and book two from Blake's. 
I loved reading Book one. And some parts of Book two, just because the other portions are already familiar to me as I have read about them in Book one.

I enjoyed Eternal Mercury. A story of fate, faith, and love that lasts forever.
"Trust fate. Live life. Finish well."

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The italicized text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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   Eternal Mercury by Elaine Pinter Chelsee Taylor has been in love with her boyfriend, Max, since they started kindergarten together. She has no idea that high school graduation will be the last perfect day of her life. After a tragic car accident, she refuses to accept Max's death because she can still feel his presence. No one believes her and she is completely alone. But all of that changes the moment she meets Blake Andersen. It's not just that he believes her . . . or even just that he's so understanding . . . but why is Max's presence so strong when she's with Blake? Eternal Mercury is two intertwined books in one. Book one follows Chelsee’s bittersweet journey and book two uncovers Blake’s story of redemption. In the end, it is Max who will inspire them both to trust fate, live life, and finish well. amazon Praise for Eternal Mercury “Overall, this novel made me really think about how life can change so completely in the blink of an eye. It was an amazing, life altering story.” “I loved this book. It made me laugh and cry but most of all it made me feel like there is always hope in this world.” “I could not put this down. What an amazing story of love, tragedy, strength, triumph, and family.”

Guest Post: Eternal Mercury, Organ Donation, and Cellular Memory When I first realized that I wanted to write a book, I knew that I wanted it to be different. Shortly after I began brainstorming for that unique idea, a car-crash scene on a mountain highway started playing in my head. Not only was I looking for a unique story idea, but I was also looking for a positive message. I began to wonder if, instead of something scary like a ghost, could something good be left after someone died? The answer became clear to me: organ donation. What could be more beautiful than that? And what could be more romantic than true love that could survive the boundaries of death? To my surprise, the idea turned out to be more realistic than I expected. Through research I discovered the phenomenon of cellular memory. Cellular memory is when people who receive transplants take on traits of people whose organs they receive. It’s rare, but when it does happen, it can come in the form of food cravings, changes in musical taste or hobbies, and sometimes even glimpses at other things about the donor. Although the level of cellular memory I portrayed in Eternal Mercury is fictional, the need for organs definitely isn’t. It’s hard to think about death, and the common misconceptions about organ donation don’t help. But by understanding the facts and then making your decision known, you just might be able to bring something good out of the bad. That part of Eternal Mercury isn’t based on fiction. Here are the facts: Over 100,000 people, including kids, are in need of transplants. Over 20 of them die waiting each day. One person can save up to seven lives by donating their heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and small intestine. That same person can improve the lives of many others through the donation of tissues such corneas, skin, veins, tendons, ligaments, and bones. You won’t receive less medical care if you decide to become a donor. Doctors and nurses make every possible effort to save their patients’ lives and will not even consider organ donation unless a person dies. Income, social status, and race are not factors in deciding who receives organ transplants. You’ll be helping people who need it the most and your family will not be charged for the procedure. Most major religions support organ donation. I’m not sure that there could be a more loving or selfless gift, but don’t be afraid to check with your spiritual advisor. Almost anyone can be an organ donor. Age and/or medical history don’t necessarily disqualify you. The most important thing you can do is let your family know whether or not you want to be an organ donor. No matter what you decide, telling your family will save them from the pain of trying to guess your wishes at a time when that’s the last thing they need. And if the choice is right for you, to let someone else continue on when you’ve reached the end down here, don’t think about what it means for you; instead think of the incredible gratitude you’d feel if someone did it for you or someone you love.

  add to goodreads


Author Elaine Pinter Elaine Pinter lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and son. When she’s not hanging out with them, she’s jotting down ideas for her next novel in the tattered notebook she carries everywhere. Her writing journey began in June of 2012 when a reading spree set off an unexpected chain of events. After poring over the pages, her own ideas began to appear and she found herself glued to her laptop after her family went to bed every evening. The late nights continued until her first two YA romance novels, Eternal Mercury and Between the Starlight, were published. She’s one of those hopeless romantics who believes love always wins and that the best stories are the ones that drag you through the tears and reward you with a smile when all the pieces fit together perfectly in the end.
Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 7/26/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, 7 July 2016

A Celebration of the Big Indian Joint Family (Book Review: Sriram Balasubramanian's Jamba The Joint Family)

Title: Jamba The Joint Family
Author: Sriram Balasubramanian

Jamba The Joint Family is the story of Karthik, his grandmother (Jamba patti) and his extended family. 
The book is written in Karthik's first person narrative.

Karthik has his priorities perfect, unlike most people in reality. 
He loves (or rather worships) and appreciates his grandmother. 
"I could not admire a person more. I could not adore a person more. I could not love a person more, and I could not care for a person more. Jamba patti was a gem and my guiding light."

He has no grudges against his parents, who couldn't spend much time with him. 
He moans about the extended family but clearly is fond of them. And in some cases, would rather tolerate them than disappoint the others in the family.
He is a good guy, sensitive beyond his years, and yet so naive.

Jamba starts with a pre-script, giving a glimpse into the crisis that is to follow during the course of the story. A crisis, which the protagonist believes is going make his joint family 'crumble'.
A wedding in the family is a good reason to get the whole lot together. There is one being planned.

Added to this equation are the American relatives who have come to visit, who are supposedly treated as 'royalty' by the Indian lot.

Jamba The Joint Family is basically a celebration of the good old tradition of joint families. Thus there are many people that are introduced in the book. Some important to the plot. Others are not.

There is a lot of scattered information given that doesn't find a place in the actual plot, leaving many important things either unresolved or just giving a glimpse of them and then not mentioning them again.
One such instance is of Karthik's cousin Lalitha (I so wish she hadn't been called Lalu), who has some deformity in her legs. It is her marriage that makes for the background of this story. I would have wanted to know more about her.

Interestingly although Karthik himself doesn't live in a big family (he lives with his grandmother), it is the maternal family that this story is about. 

Take the descriptions with a pinch of salt.

This is the description of the maternal grandparents home 'Vrindavan' -
"Vrindavan had all the elements of a Rajnikanth movie with all the punchy dialogues, swearing by the baddies, motherly sentiments, and all the Tam brahm stereotypes; it had everything."

And assume the sweeping statements are the point of view of a rather naive person, who apparently sees a rosy picture in everything, except for a couple of people he is exceptionally biased against.
"This is the beauty of Indian housewives: they know how to deal with situations in the most effective manner, using minimal resources."
My response would be a sarcastic 'If you say so'.

My problem is that I am too much of a realist (or should I say cynic). 
In a short story collection I read recently (David S. Atkinson's Not Quite So Stories), there is a story titled 'Dreams of Dead Grandpa', in which the protagonist keeps dreaming of his grandfather, who has passed away. As I wrote in the review, these stories are good, but absurd.
For me, this story is about a longing to have spent more time with grandparents. Something I can relate to.

I can relate more to the quirkiness of an imperfect relationship than this all good relationship the author portrays.

As is obvious, I feel this story is too idealistic. 
Keep that aside, and it makes for a fine, if too verbose, read about the Tamilian culture and a filmy plot where everything falls into place in the end.

There are too many details. I wish some parts had been edited out.
I assume the author loves Madras, but I have had it with Karthik's love for driving in Madras. In his words, it can be a 'euphoric experience' driving through the chaotic traffic.

The language of Jamba The Joint Family alternates between writing as one would speak, and serious observations that at times sound like preaching. Certain phrases are used so often that they stand out as one reads the book.
There are some stilted conversations, over-simplified emotions, repetitive descriptions.

This book is a celebration of the Big Indian Joint Family.
"The concept of one's problem being split among the entire fraternity within the house ensures that the burden is reduced and new solutions are found. On the flip side, it can lead to an extensive amount of gossip about anyone and everyone in the household."

Karthik compares the dramatical situations and reactions in this story to a tamil movie. The joint family with its' gossip and back-biting included reminded me of a Rajshri Production film (may be Hum Saath Saath Hain), in which most characters are very good. There are some who have a bit of negativity in them, which is resolved.

The plot is based on minor problems blown out of proportion, and the inexperienced lot doing strange, supposedly heroic stuff to solve these problems. Reminiscent of soap sagas.

Jamba The Joint Family is a story with a message. Even though there are twists in the plot that belie reasoning, the author brings home the fact that family despite all its' idiosyncrasies comes first.

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In an age when families are becoming more nuclear, Karthik's family was an aberration: It was a large joint family with its own complications, contradictions and commonalities. Two love stories and a wedding get intertwined within the family at the same time. One of them could make or break the joint family, will the family survive? Will the love story succeed? Will the younger generation respond to the needs of the family? How will the older generation respond to the changing perceptions of the younger generation? Will the family eco-system survive?
In an India swamped by globalization, this racy and humorous story tries to dissect the generational changes in Indian society and how the Indian society is responding to the changes.

Book Links:

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About the Author:

Sriram Balasubramanian is a Writer who has contributed extensively to international publications such as NYT, WSJ, Foreign Policy, Forbes India, and The Hindu among others. He has interacted with a variety of global business leaders and policy makers in his experience as a journalist and writer. His main area of focus has been on human development, education and socio-economic issues with a global context.
Besides this, he has a Master’s Degree from University of Southern California and is pursuing another degree at Columbia University in NYC. He is also authoring another book on the World Chess championship which was held recently.
He is very passionate about India, its cultural ethos & socio-economic evolution. He can be reached at @Sriram316 or or

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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Secret of God's Son by Usha Narayanan (Book Blitz)


Usha Narayanan


'The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita!

May the world perish!
May the world perish!'

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga.

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. To journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. And to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back-his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts . . . He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery.

And there is one powerful weapon still -- the secret surrounding his origin. Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity!

Grab your copy @

About the author


Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a light-hearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, which was published in July 2015. 

When she’s not juggling travel, writing and interviews, Usha reads everything from thrillers to romances, provided her cat isn’t fast asleep on her Kindle. She would love to hear from her readers here: 

You can stalk her @

Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Media mentions

Praise for Pradyumna: Son of Krishna

Usha Narayanan has taken a quantum leap . . . to the outright spine-tingling narrative from the leaves of a time before. This book is Indian writing coming of age" Femina

"Like the best of our mythological tales, this too, is a multilayered one . . .There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception" The Hindu

"This engrossing tale takes readers on a mythological saga" Times of India

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Friday, 1 July 2016

Stories that leave a mark (Book Review - Encounters by Sumana Khan)

Title: Encounters - Someone's Always Waiting...
Author: Sumana Khan

Encounters is a collection of five stories that the author describes as 'uneven, quirky creations'. 
I like this description... though the I would primarily describe them as touching (at times, disturbingly so), warm (even as they give you goosebumps), and unexpected.

Each story has a pivotal encounter that changes the life of the protagonist.

Stories of varying lengths, they are for believers... believers of the fact that there is a lot that we don't know.
We expect things to be a certain way. Encounters draws you into a world that questions the 'normal'.

Each story is a story of love, but they are not love stories.
Encounters questions our definitions of 'normal'.

Tales of strong individuals who have experienced the mystical presence, the emotions resulting from the encounters are the common theme of these stories. These are unusual stories of certain chosen ones. Stories on the fringes of the world of spooky, but not exactly so.
The stories of Encounters are strong on symbolism.

The stories are also culturally rich, the descriptions such that you can not just imagine seeing the place, but can even smell and sense it. 
A man remembers the celebration his family and neighbours had when the first electric mixer or ceiling fan was bought. Hilarious, and so very true and relatable.
It is such little details that complete the stories.

The stories hinge too much on the possibility of what we normally assume to be impossible. 
The line separating reality and illusion gets hazy, as the experiences of these stories ring unbelievably true.

There is a darkness to the stories. Not just of the unknown, but of the cruel society that we live in.
Yet, they always leave you with a lingering hope.

Do not expect to rush from one encounter to another. These are stories that you would want ot ponder over and let seep into your senses before you move to the next one.

Some emotional stories, with a touch of supernatural, that cocoons you with its' warm presence. At least that is how I felt.

I have loved every one of the stories and I am surprised. The stories are all different. You may find a couple of common threads, but the plots have no similarity.
I warn you though... your encounter with Encounters will haunt you, it will make you restless, it may even disturb you a little... and you will love it.

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ENCOUNTERS is a potpourri of five sumptuous stories involving a motley crew of protagonists. Skating along the borders of fantasy and paranormal themes, the stories track incredible and poignant journeys of self-discovery, tracing the cathartic aftermath of fleeting encounters.

Grab your Copy @

You can get this book directly from the Publisher
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About the Author

Sumana was born and raised in Bengaluru, Karnataka, where she went on to graduate with a BSc in Electronics, much to the surprise of her teachers, and relief of her parents. In what can only be described as a quirk of fate, she ended up as an IT consultant - a role she essayed for more than a decade. She then moved to the UK where she quit her job and pursued academic and literary interests. The result of this pursuit has been two Masters, one published book, quite a few manuscript drafts, and above all, being stone-broke perpetually.

She currently lives in the UK with her husband and several books.  


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