Friday, 18 December 2015

A bird's eye view (Book Review - Felicity and the Featherless two-foot)

Felicity and the Featherless two-foot
Author: Loralee Evans

"No one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell."
I feel like saying these words of Charles de Lint to Felicity, the brave, intelligent, and kind-hearted sparrow of Felicity and the Featherless two-foot.

The 'Featherless two-foots' in this story are us, humans, by the way.
So very right, I had thought when I started reading this book. That is how we would be perceived by the ones with feathers.

The ones with fur think of us as 'Furless two-foot'...

Felicity reads and knows quite a bit about the human world from her books. As she actually explores this world, the descriptions are very interesting to read.

We do spend a lot of time looking at 'weird shiny pictures that don't hold still' - TV.

I am sure I will never look at a sparrow the same way again.
I don't think I have ever given more than a passing glance to a sparrow. Except for when there are sparrows playing (or any other birds) on my terrace and I have a camera handy.
Did you notice 'playing'?
As I said, the way I look at sparrows have changed, even in my memories, thanks to Felicity and Cairn. The brave twosome who had some sweet moments together in this book. I would love for their story to go forward.

Felicity and the Featherless two-foot is a great book to read out to kids, to read with kids, for kids to read and also, to read on one's own.

It's sweet and smart. It is easy and fun to read, with a lot of lessons that one can take away from it.
There are lessons of acceptance and confidence. And of the beautiful possibility of fairies and talking sparrows and good men.

*  *  *

This Review is part of The Book Review Tour. 
I was given a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

*  *  *
Felicity (1) 

Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot by Loralee Evans
Felicity hasn’t had an adventure in months, and the little sparrow thinks that dangerous quests are behind her for good. Which is just fine with her! She would rather hang out with her friends the fairies, and read her books safe at home than go on scary adventures! But Felicity didn’t count on one group of strangers showing up that cause more trouble than she ever imagined they could! A strange, troublesome bunch that the fairies call… people.


Praise for the Book “Dreams, imagination, and different worlds intersect in a positive and simple story that kids will find whimsical and delightfully fun.” –D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review “Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot will touch the hearts of children both young and old. It’s a tale that connects friendship and nature in a magical, memorable way.” --Mikey Brooks, author of The Dream Keeper Chronicles and The Stone of Valhalla.

Author Loralee Evans Loralee Evans is the author of five novels, The Birthright, The King's Heir, The Shores of Bountiful, Felicity~ A Sparrow's Tale, and her latest release, Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot. When she's not writing, she enjoys teaching, running, being with her family, and reading all sorts of good books, including the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J. Scott Savage, Rachel Ann Nunes, and James Dashner.

*  *  *
Excerpts from Felicity and the Featherless two-foot

Excerpt # 1
She laughed.  “You don’t need to hide from peoples, er, I mean people, Colin!  They’re not scary!  They’re just noisy and messy.  And so slow!  They can’t get us up here.  It’s not a big deal.”
“It is a big deal, Felicity!” Colin insisted.
“Because people must not see us!”  he hissed.  “Ever!”
“Um…” She cocked her head to the side.  “Why?”
Felicity!” Colin seethed.  “For the goodnesses’ sakes, stop talking!  This isn’t a game!”
Felicity rolled her eyes.  “Okay, mister bossy wings.”
She took a hop toward the knothole.  “I hope they don’t step on the mushrooms.  Or your stuff.”
Colin’s eyes met hers.  A look of alarm spread over his face, and a hand went to his head.
“Cinders!” he exclaimed.

Excerpt # 2
Releasing a chirp of determination, Felicity dropped out of the air, swooped low behind the cart, and landed on a stiff black stick stuck on the back of the cart’s window.  A small flat strip of rubbery squishiness jutted up from the stick enough for her talons to grip.  Through the window, she could see the backs of the people’s head.
A bump jolted her, and Felicity spread her wings for balance as the cart left the parking-lot and turned onto the long road.

*  *  *

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Dawn chorus

Dawn chorus
Celebrate new day
Sleepless night

Book Review (Soul Warrior - Falguni Kothari)

Soul Warrior
(The Age of Kali #1)

Author: Falguni Kothari

"Myths can't be translated as they did in their ancient soil. We can only find our own meaning in our own time." - Margaret Atwood

Mahabharata is and will always will be what it is. What keeps it alive and dynamic is the way we interpret it today. As is true for all mythology and classic literature too.

Falguni Kothari's 'Soul Warrior (The Age of kali #1)' is a rendition of Mahabharata from seven thousand years ago to today's modern times.

Taking liberties with the orthodox tale, Falguni Kothari's 'Soul Warrior' celebrates Karna. Karna's life in Mahabharata evokes admiration, interest and also, sympathy. Karna is over-shadowed by others, especially Arjun, mainly because of the cirucumstance of his birth. The honest, handsome, talented man, treated unfairly by destiny.

"Bastard-born. Rebel..."

Draupadi, with all her strength and defiance against what destiny has dished out to her, meets Karna without the restraints of family.

"Twisty, knotty relationships were her curse. She didn't have a single relationship that was smooth and uncomplicated..."

Falguri Kothari writes in her beginning note that 'The Age of Kali' is her vision of the popular Mahabharata. She has taken the classic mythis and stories and given them her own backstories.
These backstories and twists that the author has given to the story of Mahabharata merge well with the existing tale.

A while back, I read and reviewed Dr Sweety Shinde's Arjun. Dr Shinde made me fall in love with the story of Arjun and Draupadi.

Falguni Kothari in her fictional world 'The Age of Kali' grants a much-deserved story of love to Karna. With Draupadi.
Not as easy to convince as Arjun's and Draupadi's would be.
The author though manages to persuade the reader of the possibility of this world by weaving ficiton with (what is perceived to be) fact.

There are stories that create a fantastical world that exist parallel to present life on earth. Reading 'Soul Warrior', it is easy to get lost in the world of Karna as the present-day Soul Warrior. He is fighting to save the world, not just from ancient demons, but also from the devils of today, such as the threat to the environment.

"The Soul Warrior was more than a great warrior. Karna was a great soul. Fair, honorable, brave and resilient, he was the perfect protector of the Human Realm. Of course, there were other reasons he'd been chosen to fill the office of Soul Warrior-there always were when Gods and demons were involved. But Karna's existence was a testament to righteous actions and if anyone could bring back the day, it would be him."

There is the passion of a love story that has been hundreds of centuries in the making.
There are family feuds again dating centuries ago.
There is action of fights, ancient style and modern style.
There is fun and enjoyment in reading about these characters, that one has always imagined in ancient finery, in modern world's fashion.
There is the irreverent sense of humour of fun being made of the high and mighty.
There is humour and enjoyment in reading about the characters that one has always perceived to be in ancient finery, in modern world's fashion. ('Soul Warrior' starts with Karna in cargo shorts, reading The Times of India).
It's funny reading about Gods and Goddesses as if they are, for want of a better word, 'human'.
And finally the real twist in the story that changes the Soul Warrior and his life.

(The text in italics are quotes from the book)

This Review is part of The Book Review Tour. 
I was given a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

*   *   *

About the Book

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.

Read an Excerpt


The Himalayan Mountains.
Five thousand years ago.

Absolute darkness shrouded the Human Realm, and had for three days and three nights. Some believed the occurrence was prophetic, like the prolonged amavasya or new moon night that had heralded the Great Kuru War two thousand years ago. The war had given birth to the dark Age of Kali, the age of asura. In contrast, hope was ripe that this event would trigger the Age of Light. But the Bard wasn’t here to succumb to superstition. 
The first day without the sun’s light had spread confusion and chaos across the realm. The second day had brought desperation in the breasts of humans and fear in the belly of Celestials. The third day—today—was a feast for the asuras. Death lay everywhere. 
The human world burned without its sun. How soon before the Heavens went up in flames?
The Bard’s troubled eyes reread the last line. Then he deliberately scratched it off, lifting his long, pointed talon from the parchment made of dry palm leaf. With a sigh, he rested his aching hand on his trembling thigh. He would spare a moment to ease his body, and his mind from the strain of observation and due recordkeeping. If he didn’t, he’d forget his duty as Witness of the Cosmos, and begin to question fate. 
Despite the fire that crackled close to his right knee, and the feathered form of his upper body, he was cold. An icy wind had settled around the Pinnacle of Pinnacles, where he sat cross-legged on a seat made of rock and snow. He’d chosen this perch because it gave him an impartial view of the events happening in the world. He was the Bard, entrusted with keeping the Canons of the Age of Kali, just as the Soul Warrior was entrusted with keeping the Human Realm safe from asuras. Would they both fail in their duty today?
The Bard shook off the heavy despair the darkness had brought into the world. He mustn’t judge. He shouldn’t question. He would sharpen the talon on his forefinger, dip it into the vessel of ink kept warm by the fire, and write this tale. That was all he could do. Be the witness to history.
So he raised his feathered hand and began to write again while his eyes, sparked with power, knowledge and magic, saw clearly events unfolding from great distances. A thousand kilometers to his right, Indra, the God of War and Thunder, fought the Dragon. Indra did not fare well. But that didn’t concern the Bard as much as the clash between the Soul Warrior and the Stone Demon. Over and over, his eagle eyes were drawn to the duel taking place in the heart of the world, not only because it was a magnificent battle to behold, for it was, but because its outcome would decide mankind’s destiny.
The Soul Warrior was more than a great warrior. Karna was a great soul. Fair, honorable, brave and resilient, he was the perfect protector of the Human Realm. Of course, there were other reasons he’d been chosen to fill the office of Soul Warrior—there always were when Gods and demons were involved. But Karna’s existence was a testament to righteous action and if anyone could bring back the day, it would be him. 
But how did one vanquish stone, the Bard wondered?
Avarice and cruelty, two nefarious desires, had made Vrtra and Vala attack the Human Realm. Three days ago the Dragon had swallowed the Seven Rivers in the north, and the Stone Demon had imprisoned the Sun God, his daughter, and all the cattle of the region in his cave.
The Bard paused his writing as a thin vein of lightning winked across the skies, but without the accompanying roar. Indra’s strength waned. His thunderbolt hadn’t left Vrtra screaming in pain this time. The Bard spared a moment’s attention on the duel, just enough to note that the Maruts, the Celestial Storm-gods, waited in the clouds to rescue their god-king in case of a calamity. Indra would survive even in defeat. Of that, the Bard was sure.
But Karna had no one at his back. His might and god-powers had depleted without the sun’s healing warmth and light. His divine astras, weapons, had not slowed the Stone Demon down, at all. Only the conviction that he could not fail his godsire, his sister, and the innocents under his protection drove him now. His birth family had once abandoned him to his fate, but he would not abandon them to theirs—such was the greatness of Karna.
The Bard crossed out the last observation. No questions. No judgment. No praise, either. The canons would be free of all emotion. He wasn’t here to embellish history or glorify the history-makers, as some bards were wont to do. 
It wasn’t embellishment to write that the foothills of Cedi were drenched in the Soul Warrior’s blood. Or observe the gushing wounds on his body, despite his armor, that would make the hardiest of warriors bellow in agony, but not him. It wasn’t embellishment to write that the Heavens were empty for the Celestials had come to Earth to watch the battle, firelight cupped in their palms to light the warrior’s way. 
The Naga, the Serpent People, also looked on, hissing from the mouth of the portal that led to their underground realm beneath the hills. The Serpent King will not choose a side. Vrtra and Vala were half Naga, after all. All across the Human Realm, demons roamed free, taking advantage of the darkness and preying on human flesh and human souls. It was a terrible moment in history. The asuras had the upper hand in the eponymous age of Demon Kali.
Vala did not have arms and half a leg, but still he came at Karna. He had an ace up his sleeve. There were plenty of creatures about, an entire mountain close at hand. He began to chant the spell of soul transference. It was the darkest of all magic, the possession of another’s soul. Soon, he would be whole again and stronger than before.
Battered and bleeding, the Soul Warrior veered away from the Stone Demon. He leapt over boulders and charred vegetation. The onlookers called him a coward. Had he forfeit the duel? Has he forsaken mankind? 
Karna dove for Manav-astra, the spear of mankind, he’d thrown aside yesterday after his bow, Vijaya, had shattered under repeated use. In one smooth motion, he rolled, picked up the astra, coming up in the spear-thrower’s stretch. His tattered lower garment billowed about him as a gust of wind shot through the air. His muscled torso glistened with blood and sweat, tightened as he pulled the arm holding the spear back. 
He meant to throw Manav-astra at Vala. A futile attempt, to be sure? As long as Vala was made of stone, broken or not, his body was impregnable. Karna should have waited for Vala to transfer his soul to an onlooker. Then Karna should have vanquished the possessed creature. 
Taunting laughter reverberated through the foothills of Cedi. Vala had reached the same conclusion. The Celestials looked at each other in angry silence, unable to interfere. A dwanda-yuddha duel was fought between two opponents of equal size and strength alone. The humans hadn’t stopped screaming in three days, the din simply background noise now. 
The Bard scribbled the observations onto the parchment in no particular order. He wished he was a painter, for surely this was a picture worth a thousand words.
The demon hobbled toward the warrior, who stood still as stone with his arm drawn taught behind him. Then finally, with a roaring chant the Soul Warrior shifted his weight from his back leg to his front and let fly Manav-astra at the Stone Demon with all his remaining might. 
Karna didn’t wait to see the ramifications of his action. And there were plenty to come. He ran into the mountain cave to free Vala’s hostages. Within moments the rock face rent in half, and bright streams of light speared through the terrible darkness. A new day had dawned on the Human Realm after three days of perpetual night.
The sun’s power was too bright, too full of hope. Yet, the Bard looked on pensively, wondering if the Soul Warrior knew this wasn’t a victory. It was merely a reprieve.

About 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)

I’m embarrassed to admit how many social media accounts I own.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Love smiles

winking stars
twinkling in her eyes
- love smiles

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Beautiful Collisions (Book Review - Aniesha Brahma's When Our Worlds Collide)

When Our Worlds Collide
Author: Aniesha Brahma

The cover of Aniesha Brahma's When Our Worlds Collide, in beautiful pastel shades, has the Boy and the Girl gazing into each other's eyes.
The two faces, though facing each other, are not on collision course. Rather there's curiosity, friendship, and, I reckon, love in the two pairs of eyes.

I had expected 'When Our Worlds Collide' to be a typical love story.
Let me explain what I mean by a 'typical love story'. As one starts reading the story, it is obvious soon enough who the two main characters are. And it is an evident, accepted fact that they are going to end up together, when the story ends.
Despite the predictable plot, what makes the story interesting, is the way it is told. The many small incidents, the fun conversations and the blooming love is reason enough to read through such love stories.
I am certainly a sucker for these stories and I had expected to enjoy this story of the romantic collision of the two sweet souls.

Aniesha Brahma's When Our Worlds Collide is all this and more. It is an interesting, fun read. The description of each character, the interaction among them and the fun conversations make the story interesting.
What makes it all the more enjoyable is that the plot is not predictable.
'When Our Worlds Collide' is not your typical 'boy meets girl, and they live happily everafter. It is more.

As the book begins, Akriti is a twenty-three year old girl, who seems to almost sleep-walking through her routines in life. Things are anything, but ideal, but Akriti has not found the will and courage to change things. There's a monotony that Akriti seems to have accepted.

Zayn has experienced so many new places in his twenty-three years that he craves for the permanence of being in one place. Life always seems to have something else in store for him though.

Having a shared history, that both of them are initially unaware of, fate has them meet again.

'When Our Worlds Collide' is also the story of Akriti's parents and their lives, of Ayoub and his maturity beyond his years, Nimmi (my namesake :)) and many others.

There's charming poetry and beautifully written prose. There are quotes that each chapter starts with that I loved.
I love the beautiful quotes that every chapter starts with.

"You know that amazing lightheaded feeling you get every time you see your crush? Well, that's common sense leaving your body." - Anonymous

"I hate you and then I love you.
It's like I want to throw you off a cliff,
And then rush to the bottom to catch you." - Anonymous

'When Our Worlds Collide' is not a story of blind love. It is a story of smart individuals with romantic hearts and sensible brains.

"Some days I cannot stop thinking about you.
And other days I wonder why I'm wasting my time." - Anonymous

It leaves you happy, hopeful and satisfied.

*  *  *

About the Book
Akriti has led a pretty much sheltered life. 
Zayn has been shuttled from city to city when he was growing up. 
She is comfortable watching her life from the sidelines. 
He wants to feel rooted to a place he can call ‘home’. 
They meet each other quite by chance. 
And both seize the chance to be someone they both need in their lives: 
For Zayn, it’s a 'Partner-In-Crime'. 
For Akriti, someone who just knows how to be there for her… 
When their worlds collide, 
It is not what either of them expected it to be. 
Zayn has a steady girlfriend. And Akriti has a crush on him. 
What happens when these two become friends? 
The biggest adventure of their lives? Or the road to heartbreak? 
What happens when two completely different people collide? 
Do they become friends? Or, is their friendship doomed from the start? 
'When Our Worlds Collide' is the story of two twenty-three-year-olds, Who are finally growing up and finding their feet in the world. 
A tale of friendship and love, crushes and betrayals, messes and second chances, Marriage and divorce… and the elusive happily ever after! 

Character Interview: Suzanna & Surbhi

Suzanna: Why am I stuck in an interview with Surbhi? She’s a minor character! 
Surbhi: A minor character who is a catalyst! 

Is there anything you do not like about your characters?

Surbhi: Yes. I don’t like how she doesn’t judge people. Isn’t that not human?
Suzanna: No. I loved my character to a T.

Do you have a favorite scene in When Our Worlds Collide?

Surbhi: Sure. I love the fact I slip drinks to people. 
Suzanna: I kind of love the fact I am a one-woman force behind Poetry Slams. 

Do you have a favorite character, besides yourselves, in the book?

Surbhi: Sure. I love Esha. Even though I do not get a scene with her.
Suzanna: I like both Akriti and Zayn. In fact, I really love those two kids. 

Why do you think people should read When Our Worlds Collide?

Surbhi: Because they’re bored out of their minds?
Suzanna: Nice, Surbhi. *rolls eyes* I think they should read it because it is a coming of age story. And because it tells you right from the start that it is not always about the happy ending. Sometimes, it is about the story.

Do you think either of you will feature in subsequent sequels to this novella?

Surbhi: Pfffftttt!!!
Suzanna: It’s really too early to say. 

About the Author

Aniesha Brahma knew she wanted to be a writer since she was six years old. She was schooled in Dolna Day School and went on to pursue B.A., M.A., and M.Phil in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur Univeristy. She currently lives in Kolkata, with her family and five pet cats. The Secret Proposal was her debut novel, followed by The Guitar Girl. She was a contributing author with her story The Difference, in the anthology: Voices, Old & New. When Our Worlds Collide is her third work of fiction, and first novella.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A Passionate Search... Book Review (Michael's Mystery - Linze Brandon)

Michael's Mystery
Author: Linzé Brandon

Linzé Brandon's Michael's Mystery is based in the imaginary land of Kryane, a land of mythical creatures with special powers. But the emotions - both good and bad - are graphically and touchingly human. The problems of the society are believable.

Michael's Mystery is the story of Michael de'Angelo and Andesine Cle'era, both strong individuals with their own powers and secrets.
The two come together in their efforts to find out the truth about the allegations against the Grandmaster of Kryane. In doing so, the two of them also discover themselves and each other.

What follows is a story of all-consuming love and raw sexual attraction.

Michael's Mystery actually starts with the blissful couple - Randall and Elizabeth. Soon after, as Michael and Andensine meet, the warmth of the former couple's relationship is a tough act to follow.
Through the course of this story, as they cross the many hurdles, and also fight for justice, the latter couple overshadow everything else.

Michael's Mystery is not just about the mystery of Michael and Andensine and their relationship.

This fantasy successfully captures the imagination of the reader. One is transported into this make-believe world of magicians, and shape-shifters, and healers, and more.
Details, like time being measured in 'suns' and 'moons', and vivid descriptions of different individuals (hybrid and otherwise) makes 'Michael's Mystery' intriguing.

It is said that fantasy is a way of understanding reality.

Underlying in this world of imagination are the many relatable truths of reality.
For me, what stands out is the devotion in the many relationships that are exquisitely woven by the author, Linzé Brandon.
Then there is the age-old fight between good and evil.
In this story of the search for justice, love, family, selfless service, trust, friendship, and sensual enticements capture the reader's attention from beginning to end.

Michael's Mystery is a vibrant tale of relationships in a beautiful fantastical world.

*  *  *

It was time for the Lords of the High Council to step in when the Grandmaster of Kryane is accused of murdering his own people. They had little choice but to prevent the collapse of the whole magicians order, so they sent Michael to investigate the allegations.
The people of the desert planet were an enigma, but none more than Andesine, the healer assigned to assist Michael. Why did she report the Grandmaster? Was she involved, or was there something more sinister going on?
The more people they interrogated the more they suspected that nothing was as it seemed. Not the murders, nor the Grandmasters' motive as everyone thought.
Unable to resist the growing attraction between them, Michael and Andesine learn that they had to trust each other with their own secrets, and risking any future they might have.
Time and again the High Lords had to step in to prevent chaos on Kryane, but time was running out for Michael and Andesine. They had to get a new Grandmaster in place before the Kryane Order collapsed completely. And they had to find the who the true culprit was.
Fortunate to escape an attack from this monster once, they were risking the lives of many others in the process. Before the High Lords could formulate a plan, Michael and Andesine were captured, leaving the High Lords helpless to prevent it.
Kidnapped and imprisoned, Andesine was confronted with the realisation that if they were to survive their ordeal, it was up to her and her long suppressed powers. But as a healer she saved lives, would she be able to destroy the monster before he forces her to unleash her power to destroy the future of mankind?

About the Author:
Teaching herself to read before she went to school, it was the start of her life long love affair with books. Trained as an engineer, Linzé has worked as an export consultant and is presently a project manager. Although she still loves to read, she also enjoys counted stitch embroidery, archery, tai chi, fly fishing, painting, her husband's medal winning photographs and watching Manchester United play.

She counts both novels and short stories to her publishing credit. Her fourth novel, Waiting for Adrian, is planned for publication early in 2016. Her story, The Vernal Equinox, was a finalist in a sci-fi flash-fiction competition in 2015.

Linzé Brandon lives in Pretoria, South Africa, with her engineer husband and German Shepherds who are convinced that the world revolves only around them.