Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interview With Allen Wyler - Author of the book Dead End Deal

Before we dive into the interview with Allen, here is short 
introduction about the man and his book

                                              Displaying DeadEndDeal.jpg


New Medical Thriller Based
On Possible Cure for Alzheimer’s

Dead End Deal is a medical thriller of the highest order, reviving the genre with a splendid mixture of innovation and cutting edge timeliness.  Neurosurgeon Allen Wyler knows of what he speaks, and writes, and the result is a thriller that equals and updates the best of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.”
--Jon Land, bestselling author of Strong at the Break

“The suspense builds and builds in this riveting page-turner.  It’s a skillful merging of the medical thriller and political thriller…Tom Clancy meets Tess Gerritsen!”
--Kevin O’Brien, NY Times Bestselling Author of The Last Victim and Killing Spree

Astor + Blue Editions is proud to present, Dead End Deal [ISBN: 978-938231-14-8 (paperback); Fiction Thriller; US $12.95, CAN $13.95; 334 pages; Pub Date: January, 2013 (paperback)], the first of a series of stand-alone medical thrillers to be published by Allen Wyler.  In the tradition of Robin Cook, Wyler weaves a fast paced action suspense plot centered on cutting edge medical techniques.  In this case: A true to life, plausible cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world.  His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions.  But a radical anti-abortion group resorts to violence to stop it.  Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help.  Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea.  But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.

After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario:  The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Feist.

Dead End Deal is a fast paced, heart-pounding, and sophisticated thriller. Penned by master neurosurgeon, Allen Wyler—who often draws from experience, actual events and hot-button issues when writing—Dead End Deal is unmatched as a technical procedural. And yet, the technical expertise is seamlessly woven into a riveting plot, with enough action and surprises to engross even the most well-read thriller enthusiast.  A smart, unique, page-turner, Dead End Deal delivers.

NOTE : Dead End Deal,  along with Wyler's other e-books (Dead Ringer, Dead Wrong, Deadly Errors) will be on $0.99 promo through the month of October on Amazon and B&N ( (

Hope you all enjoy reading his books!

                                                         Displaying Allen_Wyler_Photo.JPG

Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.  He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.
In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.
Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.
He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

Q: What inspired you to write Dead End Deal?
A: Good question. Like all my plots, the kernel came from a real life experience. At the time, I was working as the Chief Medical Officer for a start-up medical device company and was on a business trip to Seoul. As is often the case when traveling across numerous time changes, it was hard to sleep. At 2 am, while sitting at my hotel window looking at the lights of the city, I got to wondering how it might feel to be trapped in a foreign city without my passport, language fluency, or the means to escape. On top of that, what if I were accused of a felonious crime I hadn’t committed? What would I do? How would I manage to escape? The questions became so appealing, that I started hammering out a plot to encompass this situation. Because I love to put up roadblocks for my protagonist, the problem of how to reenter the United States without a passport became an interesting challenge. It was a fun book to write.

Q: How do you get your ideas for stories?
A: My ideas spring from various things that happen to me during a day. I can be doing just about anything and some small facet about it may spark an idea. More often than not, I mentally toss the idea around until it’s got so many holes in it that I reject it and move on. Rarely does an idea hold up to real scrutiny. But when it does, it’s one I believe I can work with. Cutter’s Trial, for example, is a non-thriller which will be released by Astor+Blue next year. It came from a malpractice suit against me years ago. It was, in fact, the basis for the first novel I ever wrote. My writing was so awful that I finally sent the manuscript straight to my computer’s recycle. But the idea stuck in the back of my mind and resurfaced every now and then. So once I’d honed my skills, I took another crack at it and believe it turned out much better. Or at least I hope it did. We’ll see.

Q: How does Alzheimer rank as one of the most pressing diseases in the 21st century?  Why and if it goes unchecked how will it impact our society? (Is there any progress on finding a cure?)
A: Chances are you know someone among who either has Alzheimer’s Disease or is directly connected—by relation or care—to someone who has it.  As of this year an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with AD. That translates to roughly one in eight older Americans.  That’s a staggering number, but yet in the public consciousness, AD isn’t as widely considered (“top of mind”) as the dangerous killer that it is; not like say, cancer or heart failure.  (AD is the sixth leading cause of death in the US).

The fact is, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more prevalent as the average life span of individuals increase and the more common health care problems ARE better treated. It’s predicted that by 2020, thanks to drugs like Lipitor, mortality from heart disease and stroke will be way down, making Alzheimer’s the leading cause of death in our time.  The personal consequences to individuals or families is devastating, but the general consequence to society as a whole is great as well.  That’s because AD patients often live a long time, their care is very expensive and will become a major health issue (both in cost and quality of life) that our society will have to bear.

There is hope in some novel drugs to treat AD. Because the disease results from the build up of Amyloid in nerve cells, a promising approach is to block the production of this protein. In addition, there is intriguing research into the concept of surgically implanting stem cells into especially damaged brain areas.  This possible cure is a central element that I used in the plot for my new novel, Dead End Deal.

Cures and treatments for diseases like AD are very expensive to develop, (millions upon tens of millions of dollars of R&D) with the resulting payoff even greater (billions of dollars of revenue for the “drug” or the “procedure”) often creating entire new branches of medicine, with thousands upon thousands of new jobs.  This high risk / high reward fact of life for medical researchers and practitioners like me is a natural stage for heroes, villains and high-stakes drama.  I try to capture that in my Thrillers, but the true high-stakes drama on the medical treatment/development stage is much more exciting than any fiction; the heroes are by far much more worthy of praise (though they often go unnoticed).  I like to see my books as homage to them, at least in some small way.

Q: Where do you write?
A: I tend to lead a very disciplined life, which, I guess is a deeply engrained work ethic holdover from medical school, residency, and the practice of neurosurgery. A brain surgeon can’t decide to wander into the operating room an hour late or break from sterile technique, or not make rounds on post-op patients. I carry this regimentation over to my writing life. Being a morning person, I sit down at my computer each morning, seven days a weeks, to write. Some days I’m productive. Some days I’m not. But I always do some writing. It’s the only way I can get the first draft, which for me, is the most difficult. I don’t have a set amount of time to write, and when I’m done for the day, I know it.

Q: Is there something you need in order to write, such as music?
A: I prefer working in silence without distractions. Most often with a cup of coffee next to me. I tend to limit distractions because I know I am easily lured away from the task at hand. Funny, but when in the operating room, I usually had music going. I get asked how that could be. Well, unless I was dealing with an unforeseen complication, surgery was mostly manual dexterity task, so the music cut the drama. In contrast, for me at least, writing requires more concentration to be creative. Especially on the first draft. How should my character react? What would he say? Might sound paradoxical but when starting, say a brain tumor, I where I should end up and how to get there. When writing, such clarity isn’t always the case.

Q: Authors you admire
A: For thriller and mysteries the authors I admire most are: John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Stephen King, and Dennis Lehane. I also read a ton of non-fiction and for that I admire any author who can make a dry subject interesting. I read constantly.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Twinkle by S J Parkinson : A Review

Publisher: SJ Parkinson (July 14, 2014)
Category: Science Fiction, Thriller
Tour Date: October, 2014
Available in: Print & ebook, 600 Pages
For more details about the tour, visit :
In the newest book from award winning author, SJ Parkinson, The richest man in the world wants to celebrate the July 4th holiday as never before. In a bid to get into the record books, a global fireworks show is staged from orbit. Satellites drop pyrotechnics into the atmosphere, thrilling everyone from the Arctic to the Antarctic with their rich colors and massive explosions in every time zone.
The next day, people around the globe begin to lose their sight. Governments crumble, society degenerates, and infrastructure falls into chaos. Humanity finds itself stumbling in the dark and losing all hope.
A few fortunate individuals retain their vision. Attempting to deal with the growing despair around them, they come together to discover the true purpose and origin of the affliction. They race to find a cure before the world is subjugated under an invading power.
Twinkle is one of the few books that ensnared me with the summary and the book cover. It is a science fiction novel, as simple as that and there are added bits of other genres. When the paperback copy arrived, I was amazed by the size of the book. Its length did put me off for a few days from reading it. But Twinkle is worth every page of the story. A different premise altogether offered a promise of a refreshing reading experience and delivered on the promise.
A fireworks show goes wrong and turns catastrophic. The one word storyline is woven into a web of thrill and suspense. There is the suspense element, the underlying thrill to reveal the motives. Though predominantly set in the US, Twinkle is a story applicable worldwide. It is something that can happen (and has happened) everywhere. The military concerns (superbly explained by the author) are explained well, aided by the author’s experience in the field.
The quest for world dominance by individual nations is a very relatable struggle. Though we’re supposed to be living in a civilised world, stories of individual countries preparing weapons and blueprints to give them scientific/ technical superiority just under the surface keep the tension palpable. Twinkle is a book about how bad it can go, in a totally unexpected way. Therefore it is a book that can be read with heads nodding occasionally.
Verdict: Don’t be deterred by the length. Twinkle is one book that should NOT be missed if you are a suspense / thriller fan!
Rating: 4/5
Mr. Parkinson was an Air Force avionics technician, a decorated veteran of the Persian Gulf War, and several United Nations peacekeeping missions. He has lived overseas in numerous countries and travels extensively. His novels have been praised for their realism and sold in fourteen countries, winning multiple international awards.
Awards: Three “Outstanding in Genre” Gold Seal awards from Red Adept Publishing and Kindle Book of the Month award Oct 2013 by the People’s Choice Book Awards.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Under My Skin by Alix Nichols

~Praise for Alix Nichols' books~

"All the hallmarks of a good romance, and a lovely Parisian setting in the form of the quirky La Bohème cafe and its circle of patrons."  -- 5 stars, The Midwest Book Review

"Fans of new adult and romance will devour this debut to the Bistro la Bohème series. Rob and Lena's story is such a hoot to read that most won't want it to end." -- 4 stars (Compelling), RT Book Reviews

"Stunning, beautifully written romance" -- 5 stars, Amazon reviewer

 Under My Skin by Alix Nichols
~About the Book~
Title: Under My Skin (Bistro La Boheme #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 11

UNDER MY SKIN is the second novel in the addictive BISTRO LA BOHEME series. This delightful Parisian version of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" will entertain you with a gripping story, endearing characters and sizzling romance.

A tall well-dressed guy entered the bistro, dripping rain and hotness. He stopped by the door and surveyed the room searching for someone, his gaze lingering on the females...until it met Jeanne's. He beamed and walked toward her, his eyes trained on her and full of warmth. Did he know her? Was she supposed to know him?

Feisty bartender Jeanne and geek-turned-hottie Mat embark on an emotional and sensual roller coaster, as their paths cross at an engagement party, a baptism and a wedding... not counting all the other times they "accidentally" run into each other.

And miserably fail to behave with propriety.

But Mat is an ambitious politician running for mayor of his hometown and going steady with an exquisite woman. He knows exactly where he wants to be five years from now.

Falling for Jeanne all over again is definitely NOT part of his plan.

Goodreads link:

~My Review~
<place ur review here>

~Buying Links~
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

If you'd like to read Book 1 in the BISTRO LA BOHEME series, now is the time! WHAT IF IT'S LOVE? is on sale for $0.99 on October 11 - 16 (75% off): Amazon | Amazon IN

~Meet the Author~
I am an avid reader of chick lit, romance and fantasy, caffeine addict and a badge-wearing Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth fan. 

I released my first book at the age of six. It had six postcard-size pages stitched together and bound in velvet paper. The book was titled "Eliza and Robert" and had atrocious mistakes in every single word. Some words were written in mirror image. Unintentionally. I remember being immensely proud of my creation. 

Turns out there's a remarkable constancy to my life: decades later, I still love the name Robert and the genre romance. As for my spelling and grammar, they are only marginally better than at age six (thank God for editors!). 

I live and work in Paris, France. When not writing, I read romance (what else?) and spend time with my family. 

Follow Alix Nichols:

~Bistro La Boheme Series~
Book 0.5You're the One by Alix Nichols
Buy from: Amazon | Amazon IN
Book 1What If It's Love? by Alix Nichols
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon IN
Book 2Under My Skin by Alix Nichols
Buy From: Amazon

~Giveaway 1~
Win $15 Amazon GC!
Open Worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Giveaway 2~
Win 2 Print copies of Under My Skin

~Tour Organizer~

Njkinny Tours & Promotions

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ajaya : Roll of the Dice by Anand Neelakantan : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Ajaya: Roll of the Dice
ISBN: 9789381576038
AUTHOR: Anand Neelakantan
GENRE: Fiction / Mythology
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Epic of the Gaurava Clan #1
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I contacted the author via goodreads and he arranged a review copy for Readers’ Muse from the publishers. I sincerely thank him for it!
          THE MAHABHARATA ENDURES AS THE GREAT EPIC OF INDIA. But while Jaya is the story of the Pandavas, told from the perspective of the victors of Kurukshetra; Ajaya is the narrative of the ‘unconquerable’ Kauravas, who were decimated to the last man.

At the heart of India’s most powerful empire, a revolution is brewing. Bhishma, the noble patriarch of Hastinapura, is struggling to maintain the unity of his empire. On the throne sits Dhritarashtra, the blind King, and his foreign-born Queen – Gandhari. In the shadow of the throne stands Kunti, the Dowager-Queen, burning with ambition to see her firstborn become the ruler, acknowledged by all.
And in the wings:
* Parashurama, the enigmatic Guru of the powerful Southern Confederate, bides his time to take over and impose his will from mountains to ocean.
* Ekalavya, a young Nishada, yearns to break free of caste restrictions and become a warrior.
* Karna, son of a humble charioteer, travels to the South to study under the foremost Guru of the day and become the greatest archer in the land.
* Balarama, the charismatic leader of the Yadavas, dreams of building the perfect city by the sea and seeing his people prosperous and proud once more.
* Takshaka, guerilla leader of the Nagas, foments a revolution by the downtrodden as he lies in wait in the jungles of India, where survival is the only dharma.
* Jara, the beggar, and his blind dog Dharma, walk the dusty streets of India, witness to people and events far greater than they, as the Pandavas and the Kauravas confront their searing destinies.

          Amidst the chaos, Prince Suyodhana, heir of Hastinapura, stands tall, determined to claim his birthright and act according to his conscience. He is the maker of his own destiny – or so he believes. While in the corridors of the Hastinapura palace, a foreign Prince plots to destroy India. And the dice falls…
          The Mahabharatha has always been a much contested epic. There are many new versions coming out every other year that reveal yet another point of view of this epic, the original of which is considered the longest work of poetry ever written. And, it still manages to capture the imagination of the readers with its sheer brilliance and depth of philosophy. Rumoured to have been written by Veda Vyasa (using Lord Ganesha’s tusk as a pen) as it was happening, the Mahabharatha has always been intriguing.
          The author, Anand Neelakantan, has written Ajaya from the Kaurava’s point of view. ‘Jaya’ is the Mahabharatha written to glorify the victors. So you can guess what ‘Ajaya’ would be. It has been written to glorify the unsung vilified innocent losers of the great eighteen day war. Yes, Ajaya sings the praise of Suyodhana (commonly known as Duryodhana) who is portrayed as a great administrator, do-gooder and naïve prince who has his people’s best interests at heart. This is a little difficult to get your mind around, especially if you have grown up hearing stories of this man as a villain who was greedy, ambitious and selfish.
          The Kauravas, naturally, are the sons born out of desire (which child isn’t, you ask? But it is quite literal here!) Of their mother Gandhari and father Dhrithirashtra. The author’s version of this is very beautifully told! In the author’s own words:
          “When I had raised the question with my late father, L. Neelakantan, he proffered a simple but beautiful explanation. His advice was not to approach the Mahabharata just as a story, for it contains hidden symbolism: the 100 Kauravas represent the Desires and follies of the mind. Hundred is just a number used to represent 'numerous', and should not be taken literally. Dhritarashtra represents Ego, which is blind and produces numerous Desires. Some are good and others bad. The Kaurava names have both the positive suffix Su and the negative prefix Du. Gandhari represents the Mind and blind maternal Love. Hence, the Desires are sons of blind parents - Mind and Ego.

          On another plane, the Pandavas represent the five Senses. They are all married to Draupadi, also called Krishna (black). Black represents Anger. The marriage of the five Senses to Anger, has catastrophic results when fighting the Desires - such as when the Pandavas visit the Kaurava sabha for the game of dice. Believing in Fate, not action, they gamble with the Desires, and lose everything. Anger is shamed and disrobed by the Desires and Fate. The Pandavas also represent the five Virtues: Yudhishtra represents Wisdom, as the son of Time (Kala). Bhima portrays Strength, as the son of Vayu (Prana). Arjuna represents Willpower, as the son of Indra. Nakula and Sahadeva stand for Beauty and Knowledge, as sons of the Aswinis, the Gods of Dawn/Beginnings. It is Krishna who brings the Pandavas and the Desires together at Kurukshetra. He is the Universal Soul (Paramatma). Black represents vastness/depth here. The Virtues are fated to lose without this aid. Kurukshetra represents the Soul. With the aid of Universal Consciousness, the Virtues triumph over desires.”

          This should give you an idea of how Ajaya is written. The general populace who could read Mahabharatha with an open mind would agree that even the original epic portrays Duryodhana as an innocent misguided soul. The evil uncle Sakuni takes advantage of this innocence to take his revenge on Bhishma for forcing his sister Gandhari to marry the blind Dhrithirashtra. This book does justice to Duryodhana’s innocence. But getting away with portraying him as a benevolent soul is a tad too difficult.
          There is evidence in abundance to show that Duryodhana’s intentions for attaining the throne of Hastinapur was not entirely born out of nobility but of desire. Then there was the disrobing of Draupadi, which no reason can justify. If the book were a bit more realistic and not glorifying Duryodhana, it would have been a perfect ‘five on five’ book.
          The book has interesting side stories that throw more light upon the main story of the war. An interesting, slightly unsettling take on the original epic.
          The narration in a different view point. The revealing stories and the author’s note.
          This book does the same mistake as the original epic. While the original glorifies Pandavas and Arjun, this glorifies Duryodhana. Were it a bit more accepting of his short comings that made him seem like a human who made mistakes, it would have been appreciated.
          In the sudden series of books that portray the other sides of our age old epics, Ajaya is a must read to understand about the blackened back side of the tapestry called Mahabharatha.
RATING: 4/5 (mainly for glossing over the less favourable incidents that portrayed this protagonist in bad light)
Anand Neelakantan (born 5 December 1973) is an Indian author. He is known for debut novel Asura tale of the Vanquished & AJAYA : Epic of the Kaurava Clan - Roll Of The Dice. Anand's debut work Asura Tale of the Vanquished was a surprise bestseller of 2012, breaking into the top seller charts within a week of its launch. Asura, tale of the Vanquished became the number 1 best seller of 2012 as per Crossword list and CNN IBN. Anand Neelakantan was chosen as one of the six most remarkable writers of 2012 by DNA. Anand Neelakantan has written columns for Deccan chronicle, Asian Age, The New Indian Express, The Wall Street Journal, Speaking Tree etc. His interviews have been published in The Hindu, The Indian Express, Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, The Telegraph, The New Indian Express, Afternoon DC etc.
PRICE: Rs. 149 for Paperback

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Asura : Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakandan : A Review

BOOK TITLE: ASURA: Tale Of The Vanquished.
ISBN: 9789381576052
AUTHOR: Anand Neelakantan
GENRE: Fiction / Mythology
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I contacted the author via Goodreads and he sent me a copy through the publishers. A hearty thanks for giving me a book I have been hoping to read for long.
The epic tale of victory and defeat… The story of the Ramayana had been told innumerable times. The enthralling story of Rama, the incarnation of God, who slew Ravana, the evil demon of darkness, is known to every Indian. And in the pages of history, as always, it is the version told by the victors that lives on. The voice of the vanquished remains lost in silence.

But what if Ravana and his people had a different story to tell? The story of the Ravanayana has never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed castes of India for 3000 years. Until now, no Asura has dared to tell the tale. But perhaps the time has come for the dead and the defeated to speak.

“For thousands of years, I have been vilified and my death is celebrated year after year in every corner of India. Why? Was it because I challenged the Gods for the sake of my daughter? Was it because I freed a race from the yoke of caste-based Deva rule? You have heard the victor’s tale, the Ramayana. Now hear the Ravanayana, for I am Ravana, the Asura, and my story is the tale of the vanquished.”

“I am a non-entity – invisible, powerless and negligible. No epics will ever be written about me. I have suffered both Ravana and Rama – the hero and the villain or the villain and the hero. When the stories of great men are told, my voice maybe too feeble to be heard. Yet, spare me a moment and hear my story, for I am Bhadra, the Asura, and my life is the tale of the loser.”

The ancient Asura empire lay shattered into many warring petty kingdoms reeling under the heel of the Devas. In desperation, the Asuras look up to a young saviour – Ravana. Believing that a better world awaits them under Ravana, common men like Bhadra decide to follow the young leader. With a will of iron and a fiery ambition to succeed, Ravana leads his people from victory to victory and carves out a vast empire from the Devas. But even when Ravana succeeds spectacularly, the poor Asuras find that nothing much has changed from them. It is then that Ravana, by one action, changes the history of the world.
          Ramayana – one of the two greatest epics of India. It is a story everyone has at least heard the gist of. Therefore, it takes a really open mind to contradict such a popular age old story and deliver it to the masses successfully. Ramayana has been told in many ways. There are books, musicals, verses, prose works and innumerable other types of interpretations of the epic. The longest work is written into volumes and the shortest is a song that is only three verses long. Anand Neelakantan has attempted to contradict this hackneyed epic boldly.
          From the page one, the book shakes the reader’s basic idea about the Ramayana. This book has been very smartly named ‘Ravanayana’- The story of Ravana’s journey. The story opens with Ravana’s lament in the war field. As his body lay rotting, scavenged by rats and wild animals, Ravana recounts his childhood and how he came to be the feared Asura king. There is not much to tell in detail about the story itself.
          It will suffice to say that the author has taken some shocking liberties while writing this story. Starting with the moment Ravana lies on the battlefield helpless (the original epic says otherwise) and while he says his purpose in life was to make someone else god, the readers get an idea of how the story will go. The story as to Sita’s original identity and the unbelievable acts of Lakshmana, (allegedly) this book is sure to rub many people on the wrong side.
          These liberties apart, the whole story is told from a new perspective, making it the first real story from the loser’s point of view. In addition to Ravana’s perspective, there are interludes with Bhadra, a common man, a soldier and confidante, and from this view, we can see that no matter who rules, the position of the common man is no different.
          Asura is a story that is to be read when the reader is ready to face other alternative views and is not hesitant to open their mind to a whole new perspective. But before reading the book, kindly note the following.
1.    The author has taken certain liberties while writing the story. Not everything is as described
2.    Every great war has two stories. The victor’s side and the loser’s side. While the victor’s side story is more popular, there are always those hidden facts. Only people with enough clear mind to stomach the other side of the coin should attempt to read these stories
3.    Asura is a tale of Ravana. One must learn to read about Ravana and his life story of how he grew up, grew wealthy and reigned the Asuras and the reason for his downfall without remembering that his foe, Lord ram, is one of the most glorified Gods of Hinduism.

          The alternate perspective of Ravana, and the fact that even he is not glorified.
          The book is too long. It could have been edited better. But considering Ramayana’s Yuddha Gaandam is longer, this is not a major fault.
          The author could have reduced the shock value of the story. This book has more reach towards today’s youth than the original epic itself. This puts added responsibility on the author to make sure his words do not offend even the most devout devotees of Lord Rama. (Pun intended)
VERDICT: A book that is sure to challenge your views on age old stories and beliefs. Go for it if you are ready.
RATING: 3.8/5 (for the length and the contradictions with the events of history)
I was born in a quaint little village called Thripoonithura, on the outskirts of Cochin, Kerala. Located east of mainland Ernakulam, across Vembanad Lake, this village had the distinction of being the seat of the Cochin royal family. However, it was more famous for its hundred odd temples; the various classical artists it produced and its music school. I remember many an evening listening to the faint rhythm of Chendas from the temples and the notes of the flute escaping over the rugged walls of the school of music. Gulf money and the rapidly expanding city of Cochin have, however, wiped away all remaining vestiges of that old world charm. The village has evolved into the usual, unremarkable, suburban hell hole, clones of which dot India. Growing up in a village with more temples than was necessary, it was no wonder that the Ramayana fascinated me. Ironically, I was drawn to the anti-hero of the epic – Ravana, and to his people, the Asuras. I wondered about their magical world. But my fascination remained dormant for many years, emerging only briefly to taunt and irritate my pious aunts during family gatherings. Life went on… I became an engineer; joined the Indian Oil Corporation; moved to Bangalore; married Aparna and welcomed my daughter Ananya, and my son, Abhinav. But the Asura emperor would not leave me alone. For six years he haunted my dreams, walked with me, and urged me to write his version of the story. He was not the only one who wanted his version of the story to be told. One by one, irrelevant and minor characters of the Ramayana kept coming up with their own versions. Bhadra, who was one of the many common Asuras who were inspired, led and betrayed by Ravana, also had a remarkable story to tell, different from that of his king. And both their stories are different from the Ramayana that has been told in a thousand different ways across Asia over the last three millennia. This is then Asurayana, the story of the Asuras, the story of the vanquished
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover.
PRICE: Rs. 179 for Paperback


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Twice Upon A Time by Anjali Bhatia : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Twice upon a Time
ISBN: 9788172345099
AUTHOR: Anjali Bhatia
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Paperback
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: We thank Fingerprint publishers for this review copy!
          Is a man’s past set in stone, or can it be changed? Rewritten and reshaped?
          Is time a reality, or a construct of the imagination? Fleeting and fragmented?
          One man is about to find out . . .
          Meet Arpit, a bitter young man who embarks upon an incredible and seemingly impossible journey to right the seven wrongs that have shadowed his life, all in a quest to be together with Mannat, the love of his life.
          When Arpit meets Nishimaya, a modern-day mystic, little does he know that his life is about to change. In entirety. But change comes with effort. And Arpit has to lose himself in order to resurrect his past and set things right. With every past mistake he corrects, he finds a corresponding change in his present life . . . but not all changes are easy to make. And as Arpit travels further back into his own life, he’s forced to dig into frightening depths and fight against his own self to dredge up the truth from the sediments of folly that litter his world.
          Unknown to him, however, Mannat is supporting his struggle from halfway across the world even as she tries to gather her own life together. And Nishimaya, as she takes Arpit through the swirls of time, has to confront ghosts of her own as well.
          As their lives get caught in the web of karma, dreams, memories, and destinies, Arpit, Mannat, and Nishi must stumble and fall if they are to reach the end. But Time still holds a revelation none of them had expected . . .
          The moment this book landed at my doorstep, thanks to Fingerprint Publishers, I noticed two things.
1)   The beautiful, soothing cover image
2)   The unique title.
          We have all at one point of the time, definitely, heard stories that started with ‘once upon a time… long, long ago…’ and such. But Twice Upon A Time? What did that mean? Kudos to the author for choosing this catchy phrase. It does give us inkling as to what the book is all about. My misgivings about this book being a preachy ‘past life regression’ gimmick were quickly quelled.
          What happens when you travel down the memory lane, literally, using your own memories and dreams? What if you past could be changed? Before I read the book, I did have a list of a few things that I would like to change in my past so far. Surely everyone who reads this book would identify such events in their life. Arpit, the protagonist, is no different. Suffering from the loss of love, he seeks answers to troubling questions and doesn’t find them that easily.
          Enter mystic Nishimaya, aka Nishi, the woman who helps him travel to his past in his dreams and find out the seven major mistakes he made. The way he chose education over his childhood love and the loss of his‘roots’ are portrayed in elegant words. Whether or not Arpit corrects his past forms the rest of the story.
          It is doubly hard to include a socially conscious message in a book about love. In today’s world, many people prefer breezy love stories and would rather read a true bred ‘environment based’ story rather than mingle both. To carry off such a story successfully, the author must connect with the core of the reader. Thankfully, most people who have relocated to the city from a village will sympathise with the struggles Arpit is facing.
          There are some points to ponder and certain points to contradict in the story. But overall, the soothing language, albeit a bit descriptive, is a major plus for the book. The way Arpit remembers his past and wonders how he managed to be away from his hometown for so long strikes a chord with many readers. The emotional tugs of the childhood memories are also touchingly written.
          The way the story moves in two types, as Arpit’s memories and a series of events tend to become a tad too random at times. The coincidences seem slightly planned and planted. But the story does have memorable lines that are quotable. Lines like ‘memories are dreams of what once was and dreams are but memories of what is to be’ stand out.
          The book, after what is promised in the beginning, ends a bit vaguely. There are certain questions that the readers feel could be answered better. On the whole, a good debut novel that explores a unique concept and manages to convey the importance of an environmental issue. A good read overall.
          The descriptive dreams, unique concept.
          The unanswered vague questions, left hanging
          A different book, as the title suggests. Read it if you like your love stories peppered with some underlying message!
RATING: 3.7/5
Anjali Bhatia was born in Siliguri, West Bengal and grew up in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, where she lives with her family. Holding a Doctorate in Psychology, she believes that her academic grounding helps her to visualise her characters better. Her articles and short stories have been published in various literary magazines and newspapers. Twice Upon a Time is her first full-fledged novel. She is passionate about nature and individual freedom. Metaphors and symbolism fascinate her and she would love to continue writing about other-worldly realities. In a perfect world, she would remain a college student all her life.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback and Kindle
PRICE: Rs.251 for paperback