Thursday, 25 August 2016

A lovely, warm story to get lost in (Book Review - Pamela Ford's Fresh Brewed)

Title: Fresh Brewed
         (The Continental Breakfast Club - Book Two)
Author: Pamela Ford
Genre: Romance

Fresh Brewed, the second in Pamela Ford's The Continental Breakfast Club series is another sweet love story.

The narrative is first person, as is in Over Easy. The difference is that now the protagonist is Bree.

Bree is on her way in search of the man of her dreams.
"man of my dreams... It is simply an all-encompassing description of the man I intended to meet while on vacation."

The three crusaders (the three friends - Megan, Allie, and Bree, that is) are at it again. They are searching for the perfect man.
Not Allie. She found hers in Over Easy...
"Technically, Allie didn't meet Jax at continental breakfast, anyway-she met him because of continental breakfast."

The three friends have plans to go on a leisurely vacation, and find fun and romance.

The list of the three friends for a perfect man is still the same. The S list - straight, sober, solvent, stable, and successful.

The plans go haywire thanks to the three being stranded at an airport because of a storm, and thus having a Continental Breakfast there.

A continental breakfast for these three is like a magical lamp. Wishes are granted. But the path to the destination is not simple. It is interesting and fun to read about.

Bree ends up staying with an acquaintance's family. She is pretending to be fiancè of a man, who is supposed to be away.
This man returns and we get a romantic comedy to enjoy.

Just as Over Easy, the previous in the series, Fresh Brewed is a charming read.
And there is no overlapping between the plot of the two.

Fresh Brewed is warm, comforting, and leaves you happy. It is an enjoyable, quick read and a lovely world to get lost in.

I really enjoyed reading another crisp story by Pamela Ford, in which the small romantic moments make for an endearing love story.

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The italicised 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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Book Description

Breanna Mitchell is on her way to a relaxing vacation at the ocean. Maybe she'll even have a beachside fling to help her get over a recent breakup.

But when a tropical storm makes her destination hotel uninhabitable, a chance encounter at continental breakfast delivers a fabulous option—with a catch. She and her friends can stay at a privately-owned, three-story oceanfront home—if she pretends to be the girlfriend of the owner's heartbreaker grandson, Ethan. Since he won't even be there, how hard could it be?

Everything is going swimmingly until Bree drinks too much wine and regales the family with romantic tales about her relationship with Ethan. His adorable brother Adam gets suspicious. His marriage-minded grandma gets engagement fever. The beautiful woman next door gets teary-eyed.

And then, Ethan unexpectedly arrives. Suddenly Bree is about to get everything she's ever wished for—but is it what she really wants?

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About the author

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot - and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer - and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

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Friday, 19 August 2016

A fun, adventurous, clean romance (Book Review - Pamela Ford's Over Easy)

Title: Over Easy 
         (The Continental Breakfast Club - Book One)
Author: Pamela Ford
Genre: Romance

Over Easy, the first in Pamela Ford's The Continental Breakfast Club series is a warm and cozy romance. 

Three friends, Megan, Bree, and Allie, and their misguided quest for true love takes us on this journey that starts with Allie's story.

Allie Parker, the dog groomer, who belongs to a family of doctors and lawyers is the central character in this episode of The Continental Breakfast Club.
At twenty-eight years of age, Allie is still treated as a kid by her family.
Her conviction that the right man by her side will gain her respect from the rest of the family is reminiscent of some movies I have seen and books I have read.

What the three friends choose to do and the consequences make for a different, chucklesome read.

They join the gym in hope of meeting the perfect macho guy. Instead they just end with with some advise for the sweaty guys in the gym...

"Believe me when I say this, guys, grunting is not a turn-on. If you can't move the weight without making noise, cut the poundage. We really, really don't enjoy picturing you creating a hernia. Or worse."

And some fitness-inspired metaphors to describe their experiences...

"You know how your arms feel stressed and shaky when you've lifted a really heavy weight too many times? That's what marriage is like."

Sneaking into continental breakfast at a hotel to meet one of the successful men getting their nourishement before the start of their day is the latest idea. What can go wrong there?
You either meet a great guy, or you don't.

Not in Allie's case though. 

She meets a jewel thief, who in turn mistakes her for his contact there.
The events that follow are dangerous, yet funny. And of course, Allie's 'happily ever after' is right there for her.

A lot can happen over a continental breakfast. Who could have thought?
Well, the three friends had thought that it would be love that they would find. 
What they find instead is misunderstandings, danger and adventure. And yes, love too... just not where and how they had expected.

The wisdom of the three friends has you smiling, even as you are shaking your head at the ridiculousness of their plans. 

The takeaway from this book that 'happily ever after sneaks up when you least expect it' 

Over Easy is written in first person narrative of Allie Parker and I like her dry and practical sense of humour from the very beginning. 

A clean romance that leaves you warm and fuzzy, with a satisfied smile and the anticipation of the next adventure, thanks to a continental breakfast.

With the reckless, yet sweet attempts of the three friends to find the perfect man backfiring, Over Easy makes for an interesting, light, chucklesome read.

It is the dry, matter-of-fact humorous tone of the narrative that make Over Easy an interesting read.

The girl-talk between these friends is not insensible, giggly kind. It is tongue-in-cheek, intelligent, and yet fun.

If you are a lover of clean romance with engaging characters, read Over Easy, you will be smiling through the antics of the three friends.

*  *  *
The italicised 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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Book Description

Allie Parker's had enough. Just because she's a dog groomer, her overachieving family of doctors and lawyers treats her like a child. She's convinced that a successful husband is all she needs to change their attitudes. So when she and her friends come up with a brilliant new way to meet eligible men, Allie squeezes into her sister's stylish clothes and sneaks into continental breakfast at an upscale hotel to find herself the perfect guy.

Before Allie has taken her last bite of syrup-laden waffle, she's met the man of her dreams. But what she doesn't know is that he's a jewel thief who mistakenly thinks she's his contact—and so does everyone else who's after his stash of diamonds.

Suddenly Allie's world is crazily upended. And as she scrambles to prove her innocence and get back to her old life, she discovers happily ever after sneaks up when you least expect it.

*  *  *
About the author

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot - and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer - and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

A love story of re-discovering self told beautifully (Book Review - Terri Lee's Paper Castles)

Title: Paper Castles
Author: Terri Lee
Genre: Romance/Women's Fiction

"Sometimes life has a way of just slapping the sass right out of a person."

These are the words of Neenie to the protagonist of Paper Castles, Savannah. 
Neenie reminded me of Mammy of Gone with the wind. The ever-present, at times taken-for-granted warmth, security, and sane advice.

Savannah got everything she wanted in life, only to realize with time that she had desired all the wrong things.

Now trapped in the life of a socialite, with a husband of seventeen years, who couldn't care less about her, she is trying to re-discover herself.

"Savannah's fingers rested on the fork beside her plate, tracing the delicate pattern of her wedding silverware. She picked it up, cold and heavy in her hand, and stabbed at her dessert as if it were a voodoo doll. Looking at Neenie, she sighed from somewhere deep in her soul where dreams went to die."

With a murder in the family that Savannah is suspected of, everything takes on a different hue.

This is life's way re-arranging Savannah's life.

As the book starts, Savannah is searching for her old, confident self through painting, having lost it over the years in a marriage that has lost not just love, but even a semblance of care.

"She'd come to this classroom looking for a way to paint herself out of the picture she'd spent the last seventeen years creating. Hoping she could draw a new life and find the courage to step inside it."

Terri Lee's play with words fascinated me from the very first page. She has an interesting way of describing things.

"She'd stuffed the brochure in the bottom of her purse, another what if to be left untried. Every month she'd dig out a handful of bright ideas from the bottom of her handbag and chuck them. Her purse was a graveyard of optimistic plans."

After seventeen years of marriage, with teenage kids, it may seem a little too late for a coming of age story. But Terri Lee proves this belief wrong, as she weaves this story of building a new life, albeit with dreams that begin on paper :)

Terri Lee's words are poetry when she describes Savannah's innermost feelings.

"The soundtrack of her life tumbled down the back steps to greet her..."

" can't drown sorrows. They're good swimmers. They're gonna float back up to the top and be bobbing right when you left them last night."

Paper Castles makes a statement for social equality through the course of this story. 
Initially I felt that it was a little forced as it takes the reader away from the main storyline. Having read the book now, I think it makes a point about the characters too.

I have to say that much as I like the story,  it is the author's style of writing that is a delicious icing on the cake which I enjoyed.

"These tiny, seemingly inconsequential moments. She wanted to bottle them, label them LOVE, and line them up neatly on the pantry shelf where she could take them down and hold them up to the light whenever she pleased. But moments couldn't be caught..."

"She popped the lid with one finger and poured the promise of a sleep without dreams into the palm of her hand."

Paintbrushes make for the watermark of the pages of Paper Castles, just as a confident woman's face with beautiful brush strokes make for the cover of this coming-of-age story.

Terri Lee's Paper Castles is a love story, but not an obvious one. No 'Girl meets Boy, fall in love and live happily ever after' here. 
The author keeps you, the reader guessing. You are just not sure how this tale of love and pain, murder and mystery will end.

"Happy was a wayward balloon with a string she couldn't quite grasp no matter how high she jumped. Happy belonged to the bare-foot summer girl of her youth."

*  *  *

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.

*  *  *



"I want to know what goes on in your head," Adam said. "What do you think about? What are your dreams?"
"My dreams," Savannah said, picking up her spoon and stirring her coffee again. She stared into the swirling depths as if she could conjure up the specter of the girl who once had dreams to spare. "Funny thing is—I got everything I wanted." 

Where do you go when you find out everything you wanted isn't what you need?

Savannah Palmerton picks up a brush and heads to an art class, desperate to find a piece of the girl she used to be, before the country club dances and the boring dinner party conversations. In 1963 the country is still playing in her innocence, but there are rumblings beneath the surface. The fabric of America is just beginning to fray around the edges. So it is in Savannah Palmerton's life. 

Love, betrayal and family secrets create a lethal cocktail that has Savannah's world unraveling at her feet. Set against a southern backdrop of garden parties and civil rights marches, Paper Castles is a sultry mix of sweet-tea and murder. Sex and secrets.

Paper Castles is the best kind of love story. Where a woman must first learn to love herself.

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About the Author


Down every road is a story. The telling of my story has a distinct before and after quality to it. My life before, was a love story. A Hallmark movie. With a couple of I Love Lucy episodes thrown in for good measure. Boy meets girl in High School. Sweeps her off her feet and marries her. But after 41 years of love and laughter the bottom fell out with the uttering of one little word. Cancer. A love I thought I'd grow old in, slipped away in the middle of the night. Leaving me to ask, what now?

Thankfully the writing that sustained me through my entire life was there to catch me when I fell. At first I poured it all out onto the pages of my journal. A mix of words, ink, and tears tucked safely between the leather covers. 

Here I am in the after part of my story. But the after is also the NOW. Eventually the purging of emotion led me back to another story that had been pushed to the back burner during trying times. Characters who had been waiting patiently began to nudge and push. It was time to sit down at the computer and let the story be told. Let the healing begin. 
When I ask the question, who am I now?...I realize though the road may have changed, I'm still a storyteller.

If it's one thing I know about, it's love. But I'm not interested in simply writing about; boy meets girl. My tag line is: Romance may be pretty but love stories are real. And that's where I want to be when I'm writing...down deep where the real story lives. Because love is messy. And glorious. I want to roll around in a story and fall in love. Want to come with me?

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Different Problems, Same Pain (The Story of a Suicide by Sriram Ayer)

Title: The Story of a Suicide
Author: Sriram Ayer
Illustrations: Ghana

How to react when a brilliant mind chooses to end its' journey?
What words to use to express the angst over the brutality of a beautiful soul suffering?
How to ensure that he/she does not feel lonely?

I don't have the answers. But as I read Sriram Ayer's The Story of a Suicide, I did feel that there were so many variables that lead to suicide.

Acceptance... that is all it would have taken.
Acceptance of a child's word when he gathers the courage to mention sexual abuse. With hesitation and shame as if he is the guilty one.
Acceptance of a grown-up's sexuality without judging it by the standards of what the society chooses to believe is 'normal'.

Had just a single reaction been different, the ending could have just been a new beginning.

Sriram Ayer's The Story of a Suicide begins with a suicide note addressed to the world. The words of this note suck you in with their pain and helplessness, even though you don't know yet what is the reason behind this pain.

"Have you ever felt lonely in a crowd, claustrophobic when alone? Now I hate everything around me. I do not understand human beings anymore. They are too complex for my silly brain. I do not know what sounds I need to make for them to like me, love me, trust me."

That is when I thought of the title of this post 'Different Problems, Same Pain'. 
The magnitude varies, the extent of loneliness may be different, but haven't most of us felt as if we are misfits?
What keeps us going then? A strength that is a result of having a secure childhood? A confidence that has been nurtured with love?
There are reasons... always...
We can't just choose to call it 'fate' and not accept responsibility.

I know I have been rambling here. Something I don't usually do, but the impact of 'the suicide' has been such.

Hari, Mani, Charu, and Sam are the primary characters in this story that makes you smile wryly as it portrays the unapologetic attitude of the youth of today.
But, in fact, beneath the self-assured attitude are insecurities that are more difficult to detect than they ever were.

Relationships that are so brutally honest and emotions that are carelessly displayed on social media... yet, the truth that still remains in wraps at times.

The Story of a Suicide is a story that reflects today's youth. And celebrates their irreverence, courage, commitments, fleeting relationships, struggles, and easy life.

The writing of The Story of a Suicide is very interesting. Mythology, Contemporary Superheroes, Historical Figures, Dreams, Hallucinations, and thus symbolism mingle with the over-practical life of the youth to convey the subconscious feelings and pain.

'Caeser Meets Draupadi' is one of my favorite parts in this story. As the two epitomes from history cross path, the underlying vibe of curiosity and competition make for a thought-provoking read.

""You know, history has often described me as strong, ambitious, cunning, selfish, confident, brave and even manipulative, but no one has talked about my loneliness, my insecurities, my pains, my disappointments. I also wished for a life of happiness, of being loved, a life free of loneliness. Being lonely is cruel. I have even considered suicide a few times."
Caeser interrupted, "Really? I have been lonely too. I have always wondered if I would have been happier if I had just been a simple family man, who lived for simpler ambitions. I will have to live again to know the difference.""

Sriram Ayer has played interestingly with words, just as Ghana has done so with the paintbrush.

The illustrations by Ghana that beautifully complement this story are admirably vivid. It is these illustrations that added to the lure of this story. The drawings are varied... some portraying the story, others the emotions...

The illustrations funning through the story are undoubtedly a good reason to go back and enter this world of Sriram Ayer and Ghana to read between the words and find a way out of the maze that seems to be going on endlessly.

Alternate sexuality, child abuse, bullying, peer pressure, and more make this heart-rendering tale a must-read for the youngsters on the threshold of venturing out on their own.

There is a darkness to The Story of a Suicide. And yet as it ends, you hope that it is not The End for the ones still struggling.

How does one overcome the obstacles? Why does another succumb to the temptation of taking the easy way out?
Read, absorb, and ponder.

As I end this writeup about The Story of a Suicide, I just have to add two of my favorite illustrations from the book. Both so simple, and yet tell great stories.

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The italicized text in quotes are excerpts from the book.

The images are all from

"The Story of a Suicide" is a gripping novel that tells the stories of Hari, Charu, Sam, and Mani, whose lives are interconnected in a web of love, passion, revenge, and deceit. 

Today's youngsters are expressive, self-absorbed, independent, afraid, hurried, fearless, fame-hungry, but surprisingly resilient. In a world that makes unreasonable demands of them, many are disillusioned about their education, relationships, jobs, sexuality, bullying, and abuse. In the backdrop of a powerful story and visuals, this project aims to reach out to young people, by verbalizing their struggles through the story, informing the do's and don'ts when they face challenges, and providing a platform to share their experience.
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Friday, 12 August 2016

Interesting Story with a Social Message (Book Review - Paromita Goswami's Shamsuddin's Grave)

Title: Shamsuddin's Grave
Author: Paromita Goswami

With Shamsuddin's Grave, author Paromita Goswami has weaved an emotional story of struggle, in the backdrop of social ostracism in India, and the plight of supposed illegal refugees who have come from Bangladesh to India.

Latika and Snehlata are two gentle souls who are example of those who rise above the discriminations and unjustice of the society.
Snehlata has provided living quarters for Shamsuddin for years. 
Latika is back to her hometown, Guwahati after having known the fast life of a metro city. 

The story of a simple man, Samsuddin. He leaves his village, works hard, lives through difficult times, feels guilty if he is not faithful to his wife. He does it all to make a good life for his family.
Things do not turn out as he expects them to.
Shattered and disappointed, Shamsuddin still holds on to hope.

Shamsuddin's Grave's pace is a little slow in places. But I think it serves the important purpose of giving details of the place and its' culture.

The story of Shamsuddin's Grave is a multi-layered one. Besides the main characters, there are many other that leave an impact.

There is Monidi and her lonely life because her children are settled abroad.
Her thoughts on this subject are worth quoting-
"They are ready to struggle and start from scratch in a new city rather than cherish with what they have known in a place. They are least interested in preserving the legacy and will turn up as a struggler just like their forefather. But it will not end there. Their children will also follow their parents' steps in near future and leave them to fend alsone in their old age. So ultimately, you see, the family will have no roots, no legacy... we have taken great pains in preserving our culture and roots. But todays generation... for them their career is everything and they even don't mind being rootless."

There is hope though, as Snehlata's words about the younger generation explain-
"Things are changing Shamsuddin. Today's generation does not think like us. They have more exposure than us and have better thinking. Our generation bore the bruise of hatred and that too not once but twice. So our generation thinks like that but I am glad that the future is bright for all of us."

The author has written characters who touch your heart as you relate to their emotions.

Each one has their own story to tell. Paromita Goswami makes a strong statement about the society through this book and makes you ponder over the many wrongs which we are so used to that we take them in our stride.

Shamsuddin's Grave touches on many social problems, but does not preach about them. At least, not too obviously.

The ending of Shamsuddin's Grave was a surprise. It made me smile (a little sadly), even as it sent a chill down my spine.
Does luck favour the ones who already have luck on their side, I wonder...

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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.


Latika's wrecked personal front leaves her completely shattered. So when her ailing father reveals his desire to go back home, she doesn't think twice and moves to her hometown. She joins an NGO and comes across a teenager rape victim. Much against her TL, Debjyoti's wish she sets out to trace the girl with Shamsuddin's help. Will she succeed or end up in big trouble?

Shamsuddin, a daily labourer, somehow manages to thrive in the city. Meanwhile, flood devastates his house in the village. His family takes refuge in a relative's place where his wife has a tough time resisting to the advances of her brother-in-law. Can Shamsuddin arrange for an accommodation before it is too late? 

Set in Guwahati amid the backdrop of flood and ethnic turmoil, "Shamsuddin's Grave", is the story of migration towards big cities for a better life.

Check out the book trailer: 

About the author

Paromita Goswami

A nomad at heart and a rebel by choice is the best way to describe her. Paromita Goswami had always believed in making her own path. She says life is full of stories that are waiting to be told. 

Author of Shamsuddin’s Grave, published in 2015, an offbeat social drama based on critical social issue, Paromita Goswami loves to write about life and relationships. She has written many short stories for online magazines. Her upcoming works are, Grow Up Messy, is a humorous collection of short stories of a mischievous five year old girl. The book is a ride down the childhood days.  It was part of blogging challenge, #atozchallenge2016 and second is The Jungle Series, a collection of short stories #paranormal, based on the jungles of Chhattisgarh.

Besides writing she is also the founder of Raipur Little Minds Book Reading Club that has a major objective of developing the book reading habit in children. She is also the founder of Book Studios that makes book trailer, book covers and banners. Making travel documentary is her other passion.

Paromita is married and lives in Raipur with her family including her pet cat and dogs.  She loves to connect with her readers and can be easily traced on all social media sites.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016