Thursday, November 28, 2013


The oxford dictionary describes woman as:

1. An adult human female

2. A female worker or employee

3. A wife or lover.

(Origin from Old English words for Wife and Man.)

The same dictionary defines man as:

1. An adult human male

2. A husband or lover

3. A person

4. Human beings in general

But what amused me so much, was a footnote added, highlighted in a box,

“Many people now think that the use of the word man to mean human beings in general is outdated or sexist. You could use the human race or human kind instead”

          What the makers of the dictionary forgot to mention was, women were also advanced species that are, on an average intelligent beings capable of doing work on par with men, (which they were previously branded incapable of) and are having about as much grit and determination as a man (again a fact looked upon with an amused incredulity even by the politest of men). And that many women had to fight a long and hard battle just to change the word ‘chairman’ to ‘chairperson’. Yes, it is an ongoing, perpetual, perennial fight.

          But it has sadly also become a fight in which even the supporters of the cause have become hypocrites and opportunists. Most of the time when people flare up on hearing about women abuse and a sad story of their fellow sister the indignation is laced with just a merest hint of a patronising air. People have become followers of this cause just because it is rightly wrong to go against the popular opinion. There are people who look at niches in which their names can be noted as supporters of a noble cause. Because supporting women is the ‘in’ thing to do.

          Then there is the rare breed of people who really do care. These people do not shout out their ideals as slogans. Instead, they silently do their bit and hope for the best. They look for survivors of abuse; ask them to share their horrific experience. These are the set of people who are not ashamed to admit that they have gone through hell. They are also ready to motivate others who have gone through the same hell. This is one such attempt to do something that matters. People across the world have lent their voice for a campaign, to honour a brave-heart who lost her life, to remember her suffering and try to be brave, to make sure there are no more Nirbhayas. Come see what it’s all about, at Womanifesto – TO LIVE, NOT JUST EXIST!

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik: A Review


ISBN: 9780062093257, 9780061921261

AUTHOR: Claire LaZebnik

GENRE: Fiction/Romance





At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you.

Case in point:

- As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school--not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

- As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn't exactly on everyone's must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

          When Elise's beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince's best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: A friend (chic-lit fan) lent me her e-reader to read this book.


          There is something inexplicably relaxing about reading a chic lit. In hectic schedules, for fans of strictly story bound and content-heavy books titles, chic lit novels come as a breather. So I took up this novel as a friend suggested. And to be honest, it was nothing more and nothing less than expected.

          The story is a first person narrative of Elise, who has moved into a new town. Amidst three sisters and parents who are teachers of her school, Elise finds it hard to adapt, even though she and her elder sister are immediately absorbed into a hip group of friends. But Elise and Juliana are not star struck even though their classmates are off springs of famous movie stars and TV personalities.

          Elise finds herself attracted towards the outcast Webster, who is, for some reason avoided by his classmates and the school in general. She also thinks the star kid of the school, Derek is an obnoxious jerk. But as is expected in such novels, her notions are soon challenged and prince charming wins her hand in a happy ending.

          Basically, the book does not have any defined, serious plot. It is actually about a set of kids who face situations related to high school. There is an underlying message of adapting to new environments. But it is more about a romance strain between the lead and the star kid.

          Characterization is totally relatable and believable. There are no over the top heroics or fantastic elements. Even misunderstandings are acceptable. The lead is down to earth and her equation with her siblings is thoroughly life like.

          The author’s writing style is fluid, with no jargon or words that demand a dictionary to be made sense of. The sentences are small, breakable and not convoluted. The style is pleasant on the mind and easily visualized in the reader’s mind without too many descriptive words.

          The book is like looking through the diary of a teenage girl who has managed to record the events of a few days in her life in excruciating detail. And as is, we aren’t able to help the feeling of an abrupt end with not all problems solved. It seems (unintentionally so) that the author rushed up the ending a bit.

WHAT I LIKED: The characterisation, writing style, simple plot

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The abrupt end, and the explanation of events that have no obvious relevance to the plot.

VERDICT: Go for it, if you want to read a smooth, light novel.

RATING: 3.5/5 (that is because there was no real purpose/plot. The book is otherwise good in its story and writing.)


          Claire lives in Los Angeles with her TV writer husband and four children. She is the author if the novels: If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, The Smart One And The Pretty One, Knitting Under The Influence and Same As It Never Was. She is also co author of Overcoming Autism and Growing up on the spectrum. You can visit her online at

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs. 250.60 for kindle edition


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review Tour : Between Boyfriends By Sarka-Jonae Miller

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At first glance, twenty-one-year-old Jan Weston has it all: a gorgeous boyfriend, fun friends, and wealthy parents who take care of all those pesky credit card bills. Then her boyfriend dumps her, her friendships fall apart, and her parents cut her off. Suddenly without money, without a man, and without a plan, it’s time for Jan to grow up. Determined to get her life back on track, Jan decides it’s time to make it on her own. Can she find her way as a single lady in San Diego? Can she fix her friendships, her job prospects, and her hair? And can she keep her vow that she’ll never date again, even after she meets a guy who just might be perfect for her? 
BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a sexy, hilarious story of living life, finding love, and growing up... but not necessarily in that order.

Book Links:
Barnes & Noble 

About the Author:
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Sárka-Jonae Miller is a novelist and freelance health writer. She has more than 4,000 articles published on topics such as fitness, sports, martial arts, yoga, nutrition, travel, spirituality, and natural health. Her work has appeared on websites such as, Natural,,, as well as in the "Post-Standard" newspaper and both the New York and Washington Home & Garden online magazines. Sárka-Jonae is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is as a former personal fitness trainer and massage therapist. She is also an avid traveler, having spent time in Costa Rica, Canada, England, Mexico, and Paradise Island. She has also been to France and Thailand researching her next books. She lives in San Diego with a menagerie, including two cats, two dogs and a horse.

Author Links:
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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Sirens of Rhine: The Innocent and the Condemned by Kaylynne Spauls: A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Sirens of Rhine: The Innocent and the Condemned

ISBN: 9781480007833

AUTHOR: Kaylynne Spauls

GENRE: Fiction/Paranormal



SERIES / STANDALONE: The Sirens of Rhine #1

REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author requested a review and sent us a copy.


          The Innocent and the Condemned, the first book of ‘The Sirens of Rhine’ series by Kaylynne Spauls is a paranormal novel set in modern times. The story follows a first person narrative of three sirens, supernatural creatures of enormous power, capable of destruction. The sirens are enslaved, sold for human trafficking, and subjected to torture. The legend follows that at any given time if one siren exists; two more exist of the same calibre. The three sirens together have power unrivalled by anything else… and powers are at work to prevent such a union.

          Lily Butler has been living all her life in the mystical island of Rhine. She has a peaceful life in a bakery and one day she is attacked by someone who calls her a siren. To Lily, this explained the feathers that stuck out of her neck and she is brought into harsh reality. She has to cope with her possessive boyfriend while she is attracted to the detective inspector Gerald. Her calm and fragile nature is shattered as she learns that sirens are deadly creatures and shooting a gun is as natural to her as baking a cinnamon bun.

          Kai, keeper of the keys finds herself enslaved for the umpteenth time in her life. She escapes the clutches just like always but finds a companion soul, Aria, an air nymph. Together, they escape the humans involved in slave trade. Kai does not know the feelings of compassion and softness, she specialises in killing. Snapping the neck of humans comes easy to this ruthless siren. But her companion is the softest of creatures who insist that she was born to save the supernatural creatures.    

          Ashlin Sinclair, daughter of Senator Robert Sinclair, is brought up by her father to serve her duty as a seductress. All she knows is to follow orders from her father, and she does it to perfection. Her father scolds her for even the tiniest bit of compassion but her grandmother insists that she is not a monster. One last assignment proves to be one too many for Ashlin as she makes her escape from her influential father and hides in the island of Rhine.

          When all three sirens meet, they are surprised beyond measure. Because till then, they did not know others like them existed. Each siren has her own characteristics and each has got a lot to learn from each other. The trials faced by the three sirens as they journey towards each other (without intending to) are all based on a common point. This book has enough twists to keep you engrossed for a continuous reading.

          The author does finish this book much like the end of a serial episode. But cliff-hangers are not suited for books. Any book, even if it is a part of a series, must have some sort of closure. Much like a sequel movie the book must create a pleasant anticipation instead of a frustrating surprise. But then maybe this was her idea of an interesting end (given, it is that).

WHAT I LIKED: The narration, handling of characters and the nice crisp story.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The book is narrated by three women, each as first person. This gets a bit confusing if you don’t notice the header at the start of each narrative.

VERDICT: Go for it, if you like a little romance, action, dry humour and incredible women in your books.

RATING: 4.2/5


          Kaylynne lives in Richmond Virginia with her wonderful husband, and spends time with her family and friends. She took several years of German in high school and college, and it has attributed to the inspiration for this book. She first became interested in the river Rhine while visiting Germany with classmates. That and a love of Greek Mythology started the foundations for this book.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, digital, kindle.

PRICE: $20.69 for kindle.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kvetch- One Bitch Of A Life

BOOK TITLE: Kvetch - One Bitch of a Life


AUTHOR: Greta Beigel

GENRE: Non-fiction, memoir


FORMAT: Digital


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author sent us a review copy after reading our interview, published previously.

          Kvetch – One bitch of a life is a memoir of the author, Greta Beigel. Knowing very little about and having absolutely no experience about memoirs, I took this book up to respond to the author’s review request. But maybe because this book is my first of this kind, or maybe this book does not fall under the category I am a fan of, I found this book only mildly interesting. But one thing to be said as a fair measure: The book is a really riveting memoir.
          Greta starts describing her early life and her passion with playing the piano. She talks about how she didn’t have a family man for a dad. She is left to live (along with her siblings) with a mother who supports her music passion with almost manic intensity. But Greta loves the piano and is able to sidle with her mother’s wish to make her a great pianist. But her mother makes her do, what she can never have done in her youth. But as Greta grows up with the influence of a few people, she remembers a prophetic word of a neighbour, something that lives with her forever, "Remember Greta," she (the neighbour) says without provocation,” it's better to have been a has-been, than a never wasser."

          The author recalls in vivid details, her first recital in a recording room, her passion with Elvis who stormed the music scene in the 1950s, and her wish to go to America. Her descriptions of apartheid are brilliantly accurate and bring the scene to life. The book is filled with equal measures of aims, aspirations, agony.
          We are also given an insight into the author’s wishes to get her name in print, all the while trying to abide by her mother’s wishes and trying to ‘get a man’. The recollections are laced with humour and a trace of sarcasm, sometimes directed towards the mother.
          This book has it all, inexperienced trysts with men, failed marriage, lost recitals, even a cosmetic surgery thrown in. The author’s experiences in America are laced with good times and a few laughs and happy sighs. The roller coaster ride across three countries travels back and forth in time frames too.
          The various twists and turns in the life leave you with an almost sceptic wonder, if so much could happen to a single woman. But it has happened and it has been documented. The best that can be said for this book and its first and foremost quality is, it is honest. Not self trumpeting or glossing out details.
          But sometimes, one cannot help but feel confused as the author switches between what we would call ‘mind-voice’ and explanatory. And the second confusion arises when the author keeps going back and forth between countries and the past, and present, with harrowing and humorous experiences mixed together in a sweet-sour cocktail.
          Find out how the little girl from Johannesburg went from being a pianist to a journalist for LA times. Read this memoir to have a inside account of Greta as she recounts her experiences, not day by day, year by year, rather like post-it notes that track every idea just as you remember it. This book is a beautiful collection of post-it notes and the author is recounting the experiences as much for her as for the reader.

WHAT I LIKED: Honest, open narrative.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Geographical, time space switch, and a little distortion in language.

VERDICT: Go for it if memoirs are your cup of tea!

RATING: 3.8/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A child piano prodigy, Greta Beigel was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household in Johannesburg. She earned a Performers' Licenciate Diploma in Music from the University of South Africa and was awarded an overseas scholarship. She studied with Aube Tzerko in Los Angeles, and there, reunited with her long-lost Yiddishe father. She went on to become an arts reporter and editor specializing in classical music coverage. Greta is the author of three Jewish-themed titles: "Mewsings: My Life as Jewish Cat," (also an audio CD on itunes); "A Jew from Riga," a short story about her visit to Latvia in order to trace her father's mysterious past, and her latest, "Kvetch: One Bitch of a Life," a memoir about growing up Jewish and a gifted pianist in Africa during apartheid.


PRICE: Rs 439 for kindle edition


Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Blast! Cherished by Lakshmi Menon

Grishma, accompanied by her father and four month old baby, boards the train to Delhi to join her husband Praveen. She decides to give him an unexpected visit. Little does she know that her journey will end in havoc to her life. 19 years later, Grishma's daughter Jyothi, longing for her father's love and support, determines to search for him, despite her mother's strong protests. Will Praveen accept her as his daughter?

This is the story of Jyothi's pursuit of parental love, which she considers as her legitimate right.

Buy Links:
Amazon I Flipkart


As soon as the bell rang Jyothi became nervous.  All this time it seemed an eternity before she could meet her father in person, but now when the time has really arrived she was not sure about her feelings.  Was she afraid of meeting the unseen father for the first time? Was she eager to meet him now? Was she angry with him for leaving her alone with her mother, all these years?  Unknowingly, her eyes brimmed with tears.
She walked with Vidya and Meena to the gate. She could hear her heart beating fast. She spotted a new handsome face behind the gate, a few feet away, standing alone from the crowd - a tall figure, with a smile, holding a Reader’s Digest in hand, and looking at her.
"My baby!” he whispered, at the moment their eyes locked. All her fears vanished. Like a magnet Jyothi ran to him and said, 'Papa' and clung to his extended arms as though she was a little girl who was running away to a safer place to hide. For a moment, she forgot about the surroundings, and tears rolled down her cheeks.  After a minute or two, she recomposed and released herself from his embrace.  Her father wiped away her tears as her friends still watched the emotional scene and wiped their tears of joy.  She never thought she could run to him with absolutely no hesitation.  The other girls of the College also wondered at this unusual happening in front of the College gate.
 Jyothi had hundreds of questions to ask her father, which she had been preparing for a long time to ask him. However, now it seemed there was no need for words to communicate with him at least for a while, standing with the man whom she couldn't call Dad all these years, and whom she secretly loved and  worshipped.  
As though as a second thought, she smiled at her friends whom she had left ignored for a while in the presence of her long lost father. "Papa, meet my friends Vidya and Meena. They’re my best mates, who had always assured me that I'd be able to meet you one day,” she proudly turned to her father.
"Hello children," he gazed at them with a smile.
"We're glad that Jyothi has got her father now,' said Meena.

About the Author:
Born and brought up in Kerala, Lakshmi Menon, after her primary education, moved to Karnataka where she did her graduation(BA)  and courses in Journalism and Creative Writing.  Even while working  with a prestigious medical institution, she continued her passion of writing on her free time. Her short stories, articles, children’s stories and travel articles have appeared in magazines, newspapers, anthologies and on the internet.  She has authored a novel “The Second Choice” and few children’s books. In Malayalam too, she has written a serial novel  and a few short stories. Travelled widely and settled in Bangalore, Lakshmi is  the Founder and Editor of the popular eMagazine, which  showcases the work of both the amateur and published writers.

Connect with the Author:
Blog I Twitter I Pinterest I Goodreads

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PODs By Michelle Pickett : A Review & Blog Tour!



ISBN: 9781937053284

AUTHOR: Michelle Pickett

GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Kindle ebook.


REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author sent us a gift on kindle. This is part of the blog tour.

          What happens when a deadly virus threatens to destroy people? What steps must the government take to prevent this from happening? Will these steps be effective? What happens to the families who are ripped apart? These are the questions dealt with in this novel. Michelle Pickett has given us a few pointers to think about in this novel.
          Evangeline is a teenager and only daughter. Her parents try to protect her from all the evils of the world, but one day, the news of a deadly virus that has no cure breaks on television. Evangeline is terrified, of dying, of having to lose loved ones, of leaving her parents and friends, of leaving the comfortable life that she leads. With terror in her mind, Eva waits for the miracle cure to appear. But she is sorely disappointed when the government announces that the cure is impossible.
          The government chooses to save a select few citizens and quarantine them until the virus decimates the nation or at least until a cure is found. Evangeline finds herself one of the (un)lucky few to be chosen in the raffle to be kept safe at the Populace Obliteration Defence (POD) system. Is she lucky to have her life saved? Is it necessary at the cost of leaving her parents forever? Evangeline’s moral dilemma is brought out well. But she chooses to go ahead on her parents’ insistence.
          But once under scrutiny, Evangeline finds that all is not what it seems in the government scheme. The raffle is allegedly rigged to choose a unique set of people. Shut with like minded people in a POD, Eva starts forming a reluctant bond with those people. They form a group of sorts only to be brutally divided. When Eva is allowed back into the country a year later, she finds that the virus is still existent and all that protection would be continued.
          In the tale of love, loss and melancholy, Eva finds herself getting close to a POD occupant and aches for him after the separation. She settles reluctantly into a new life when she finds her first love again. Is she ready to forego her new found life to get back with him? Eva’s decision helps clear her mind and she sees the world is not what it seems. Outside the protected communities, the virus has mutated into worse forms. Eva, being our heroine, tries to fight against the mutant humans, who were once her friends and who are now ready to rip her throat. Along with her love, Eva journeys in search of safety. Whether she perishes or lives to tell the tale forms the rest of the plot.
          Given an interesting story line, the book could have been made a bit racier. A little extra concentration on the fates of the side characters involved would have given a better closure. And it is a point worthy of note that the story does not actually make the reader realise the magnitude of the virus. We are only given a take on the virus and its mutation in thoroughly non medical terms. Readers can research mutation while reading this book to have a better experience and understanding of why the characters are subjected to the various horrors.
          As a summary, the book is a good concept handled slightly way off the mark. It is like food that is bland, it doesn’t taste wrong, but there can be a little more spice. And the predictability could have been skirted around. For a strong topic such as government oppression (the book starts heavily with it) the book seems to lose heart midway and steer off topic sometimes. Otherwise, it is a perfectly relatable read for a relaxed holiday.
WHAT I LIKED: The new concept, the practicality of the story
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: There is a noticeable emphasis on the lead character’s inner turmoil, teenage trouble and raging hormones rather than other things that matter.

VERDICT: Go for it if you like novels to be midway between light and heavy.


          Michelle is a reader, writer and mother of twin eight year old daughters and a twelve year old son. Between helping her kids with their homework and being a football mom, she writes young adult fantasies, science/fiction and paranormal romances and has recently started dabbling in young adult and new adult contemporary romance.
          She has an obsession on Reese’s peanut butter cups and writes only when she has hoodies on. She loves watching cooking shows but swears that the closest she will get to being a gourmet chef is to make her lead character one!
          She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. And she now lives in a sleepy suburb of Houston, Texas with her extremely supportive, not to mention gorgeous husband, three school-aged kids, a 125 pound labradoodle that thinks he’s a lap dog, and a very persnickety cat.
Her work includes:
The Amazon Bestselling young adult novel PODs
Milayna, March 2014
Milayna’s Angel (Milayna #2), September 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel, November 2014
The Innocent (Milayna #3), April 2015.
She always loves to hear from readers, bloggers and other authors!
Find her here.

Buy Links for PODs:

Buy Links for Milayna:

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital, Paperback

PRICE: Rs 318 for a Kindle edition