Friday, November 28, 2014

Interview with RV Raman : Author of Fraudster

          Author RV Raman, author of the crime thriller, Fraudster, opens up to Readers’ Muse in this interview. We @ Readers’ Muse thank the author for his candid answers that tells us a little more about the man who created such memorable characters. We thank you for your insightful answers, sir!
1. Please tell us a little about yourself (preferably something that is not in your goodreads Profile!)
There is so little to say …
I used to be an ardent follower of cricket, with India and the West Indies being my favourites. A minor dream was fulfilled when I watched test cricket at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica (I went on to watch many more matches there).
I’ve had the good fortune to have travelled widely and seen different cultures. I’ve also had the ill fortune to have had my car hijacked, not once, but twice.
2. What was the basis for writing Fraudster? Was there a specific event or a group of events that was your inspiration?
Fraudster was an experiment with two objectives:
First, I wanted to see if I could come up with something that would go down well with Indian readers. My earlier attempt at another genre (epic fantasy) had found favour with some global readers. I then wanted to write something very Indian.
Second, I saw a gap in the crime fiction genre – few people write novels with the core in corporate India. And those who do are a generation younger than me. In my writing, I wanted to offer a more tenured perspective of the temptations and challenges in the corporate world.
No, Fraudster was not inspired by any specific group or event. I chose banking for my first novel as it is perhaps the easiest arena to showcase varied motivations, and to construct a white-collar crime. On the one hand, you have upright, incorruptible people like Visht and Subbu. And on the other, you have opportunistic men driven by greed.
3. Of the characters of Fraudster, who is your favourite and why?
Varsha. Had I had a daughter, I would have liked her to be something like Varsha.
4. Which character was the most difficult to frame/ create?
Ranade. For one, I don’t know any police detectives, and my perspective of these guys is entirely based on novels set in the western world. All the other characters are quite common in the corporate world – the kind, upright Visht; the caring but no-nonsense Subbu; the helpful IT support geek in Ashwin, the lecherous middle-manager in Vincent Shain; and a bright, vivacious girl in Varsha.
5. For someone with your experience in this field, how easy or difficult was writing Fraudster?
While the basic elements of content were not new, assembling them into a credible crime and an industry-wide scam took some doing. I found that writing crime fiction requires a lot more rigour and care than epic fantasy does. Multiple components and several causal chains of events have to fit seamlessly and credibly. I didn’t want an informed banker or corporate executive discovering logical flaws.
6. I had a really good time reading the book. For a computer enthusiast who is interested in reading fast paced thrillers, Fraudster was a really engaging read. But I couldn’t really classify it in one genre. It was too realistic to be fiction (of course it was fiction, this is a compliment!) How would you classify your book, and why?
I see it as a combination of a mystery and a thriller. The first murder is a classic locked room mystery, and the rest of it is a thriller. The blurb focusses on the thriller element.
7. What is your writing habit? In calm and silent environments or even the hustle and bustle of traffic?
I need a good measure of calm to write and edit, and the mind must be free of cares. But formulating scenes and events can be done anywhere. I find that walking promotes imagination and non-linear thinking. I tend to do a lot of my thinking on my feet.
8. Are there any plans for a future book? What more can we expect from you, sir? We’re eager in that regard.
I am in the midst of the next novel, which is set in the Indian stock market. As a computer enthusiast, you will find the core crime a little more IT driven (more than just Blackberry and email).

Now a set of short rapid fire questions for you, sir!
Favourite classic book: The Three Musketeers
Favourite authors: Isaac Asimov, Arthur Conan Doyle, JRR Tolkien, PG Wodehouse
Books that influenced you: The Foundation Trilogy, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, The Lord of the Rings, The Four Just Men
Top five books on your bookshelf (it might even be related to your profession!):
1.    The Golf Omnibus by PG Wodehouse
2.    The Complete Yes Minister / Yes Prime Minister
3.    The Complete Sherlock Holmes
4.    The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
5.    The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Classics or modern literature? Either, depending on the mood.
What is your opinion on the books that come out these days as compared to classics? I read to get away from the misery that surrounds me, not contemplate it further. I find that modern literary fiction depresses me. But I still do read some of it.
What do you do to unwind (other hobbies): An evening out with friends, or I read.
Something that ticks off your nerves immediately: Duplicity.
Your advice to young authors? I am a rookie myself. I can’t advise others. What I tell myself is to write for the pleasure of it, not for fame or fortune.

 About the Author:

Over a career spanning three decades and four continents, RV Raman advised several banks, financial institutions and corporates on various matters. He has now turned to writing fiction set in corporate India, based on his insights and observations.

Having moved away from full-time roles, he now teaches business strategy at an IIM, mentors young entrepreneurs, advises select clients and writes.
Tired of extensive physical travel around the world, he now prefers less punishing mental excursions into fictional worlds of his own creation. He lives in Chennai.
Fraudster is his first corporate thriller, and is available in most book stores including Flipkart & Amazon.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Delhi at Dark by Ram Vignesh : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Delhi At Dark

ISBN: 9789383562251

AUTHOR: Ram Vignesh

GENRE: Fiction – Thriller


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Goodreads giveaway program

SUMMARY : A moonlight killer abducts women, kills them, and leaves their corpse at his next abduction site. His killing spree brings two daring detectives together, Jay Mithra and Asra Khan. His queer methods, ciphered cartoon names, and unsystematic choice of victims demand the best crime scene investigator, Amar Rathore. These three childhood friends work on the case with meddlesome media and bureaucratic superiors repelling them. Their hunt unravels dark secrets, obsessed policemen and more dead people. Can they stop the self-improvising villain, who haunts Delhi at dark?

Gruesome murder and kidnapping – Just seems like the kind of book that I would read. Astonishingly it took me ages to finish this book in spite of the book belonging to one of my favourite genre. Of course I used to have a rather packed schedule when I reading this book. This book was supposed to be that perfect distraction that I needed, somehow the book quite didn’t manage to accomplish that.  

The plot was not really air right. It had its share of loop holes. Given that the writer isn’t exactly a pro, plot loopholes can be overlooked as they were minor (I don’t want to go about mentioning it considering that I might have to give away the plot ).

The characters were shallow. Normally, a mystery set up offers a wide scope to play with characterization. Often mystery writers tend to experiment with the antagonist of the book. Unfortunately, our writer decided to play mellow when it came to the antagonist. Though he kept that suspense element alive till the end, the “end” seemed rather abrupt for me. In sense, the killer on loose didn’t really have a deep characterization.

The writing lacked the finesse that is required by plot with a gory murder scene to send a chill down the spine.  The victims were portrayed nothing short of objects. More importantly, the motivation to kill – Our antagonist wasn’t really convincing with his motives. However the writing was clean in terms of language and sentences.

In short, the book isn’t what the summary promises.

VERDICT: Can be Missed

RATING: 3 on 5 (Only and only for the efforts and language)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ram Vignesh is an Indian writer. He got published at an age of twenty(20), which made him one of the youngest Indian writers. His genres ranges from romance fictions to psychological thrillers. 

He was born in Madurai, where he did his schooling. He moved on to do his engineering in Chennai. He is currently working for Infosys.

‘The Book’ was his debut novel. It was published by Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd in the year 2012. His second novel is a psychological thriller titled "Delhi at Dark", published in the year 2013 by the same publishing house. He has started writing his third novel, which will be a sports drama.

PRICE: Rs.180 (Paperback)


Claiming Carlos by Rachel Ayala : Spolight

Book #2 of Sanchez Sisters Series

Choco Sanchez is stuck in a rut. She's never hit a softball and has been friends forever with Carlos Lopez, the head cook at her family's Filipino restaurant. When flashy restaurant consultant Johnny Dee hits her with a pitch, she falls head over heels and gets a makeover

Carlos Lopez is not about to lose one for the home team. Johnny launches a full scale change on the menu, and Carlos sends him straight into the dumpster. Claiming Choco's heart proves more difficult. But never underestimate a man who can cook hot, spicy, and steamy, and we ain't talking just food.

Buy Links: I I Barnes & Noble

Buy Links:
[Love to Hate Miranda]

“Stop.” Miranda waves a spatula and blocks our way. “No members of the wait staff allowed in the kitchen.”
“I need another order of vegan spring rolls. No meat!” Sarah yells.
“She stole my gluten-free bangus.” Susie pushes her way past Miranda, who bounces against the door to the cold room, opening it.
“Out, out of the kitchen.” Miranda sticks a finger in Susie’s chest. Big mistake.
Susie’s nostrils flare and her piercings dance. “Out of my way.”
With a hefty push, she shoves Miranda who stumbles back into the cold room. Her arms windmilling, she falls in between the sides of raw pork belly hanging up to dry.
“Ai ya!” Miranda slaps at the pork bellies and pulls on a trussed whole duck for balance, right when a wooden tray of balut, fertilized duck eggs with the intact embryo, falls and splatters over her. The slime and partially formed embryos ooze down her hair and face.
Everyone except Johnny bursts out laughing. I whip out my cell phone and snap as many pictures as I can before Johnny blocks my view to help his mother.
Out of nowhere, Carlos appears, and he gives Johnny a kick on the back of his tight leopard printed butt, sending him sprawling against the skewered suckling pigs. They tumble like dominoes, knocking Johnny on top of his balut-covered mother.

Carlos picks up a tray of the Vietnamese style transparently wrapped no- fry spring rolls and flings the contents into the cold room all over Johnny and Miranda. “Vegan spring rolls is off the menu.”

About the Author
Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope.

Rachelle is the founder of an online writing group, Romance in a Month, an active member of the California Writer's Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance

Connect with the Author:
Website I Blog I Facebook Twitter I Goodreads

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boticelli's Bastard by Stephen Maitland Lewis : A Review & Giveaway!

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BOOK TITLE: Botticelli’s Bastard

AUTHOR: Stephen Maitland - Lewis

GENRE: Fiction – Historical/Paranormal


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy as a part of Italy Book Tours

SUMMARY : Art restorer Giovanni Fabrizzi is haunted by an unsigned renaissance portrait. Obsessed to learn the truth of its origin, he becomes increasingly convinced the painting could be the work of one of history’s greatest artists, which if true, would catapult its value to the stratosphere. But in learning of the painting’s past, he is faced with a dilemma. He believes the portrait was stolen during the greatest art heist in history—the Nazi plunder of European artwork. If true and a surviving relative of the painting’s rightful owner were still alive, Giovanni, in all good conscience, would have to give up the potential masterpiece. His obsession with the portrait puts a strain on his new marriage, and his son thinks his father has lost his mind for believing an unremarkable, unsigned painting could be worth anyone’s attention. Regardless, Giovanni persists in his quest of discovery and exposes far more truth than he ever wanted to know.


A fiction with some paranormal activity and a bit of history thrown in is a rather explosive combination. The paranormal activity delivers packs the punches, while the history tends to either amplify or soften the impact. This book could as well fit this category rather well.

Art restorer, Fabrizzi stumbles upon an enchanting painting from his dad’s inheritance while searching for the perfect gift for his acquaintance’s nephew. The painting “claims” that it has painted by the famous painter Sandro Botticelli - The supernatural element that packed that punch effortlessly. The history of ownership of this painting is quite “scandalous” – Thereby amplifying the punch that the supernatural element packed. Readers would be inclined to question as to how the history of owner ship of an unsigned painting could possibly create a stir. Link it with holocaust and Herr Hitler. Anything will create a stir. Thrown in infidelity and a family reunion with a long-lost doddering uncle and la – a nice spiced up fiction ready to be devoured by a true fiction lover.

Loosing that trite writing isn’t easy. The narration has to be compelling and the story line should be able to accommodate such a compulsive. The writer seems to have nailed both the story and the narration. Needless to say, his style of writing is just apt for such a story.

Portraying complex emotions of holocaust survivors is a herculean task. Writing about a major man-made disaster without having a first-hand experience adds more difficulty to the already difficult task. This writer has aced that part of the story. It is rather obvious that the writer has conducted considerable research on the Hitler era and the on various paintings.

The characterisation was perfect. Fabrizzi’s character progression is remarkable. The Italian lineage simply adds charm. After all, who can resist good old dramatic Italians.  The count’s (the painting’s) character which can be tricky to portray has been handled rather exceptionally.  
The romance thread of the plot could have been written better. It lacked that conviction of a jilted husband who discovers his newly wed wife having illicit affair.

The painting on the cover is worth a mention. The subject of the painting looks highly egoistic just as portrayed in the book. The book was packaged perfectly – a good quality paperback as much as the story in itself.

To sum it up, the book is a perfect fiction packaged well.

VERDICT: Try reading it. It’s almost perfect.

RATING:4 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Maitland-Lewis is an award-winning author, a British attorney, and a former international investment banker. He held senior positions in the City of London, Kuwait, and on Wall Street before moving to California in 1991. He owned a luxury hotel and a world-renowned restaurant and was also the Director of Marketing of a Los Angeles daily newspaper. Maitland-Lewis is a jazz aficionado and a Board Trustee of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. A member of PEN and the Author’s Guild, Maitland-Lewis is also on the Executive Committee of the International Mystery Writers Festival.

His novel Hero on Three Continents received numerous accolades, and Emeralds Never Fade won the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Award for Historical Fiction and the 2011 Written Arts Award for Best Fiction. His novel Ambition was a 2013 USA Best Book Awards and 2014 International Book Awards finalist and won first place for General Fiction in the 2013 Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards. Maitland-Lewis and his wife, Joni Berry, divide their time between their homes in Beverly Hills and New Orleans


PRICE: Rs.375 (Kindle)


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Loving Lucianna by Joyce DiPastena : A Review & Giveaway!


BOOK TITLE: Loving Lucianna
ISBN: 098924198X
AUTHOR: Joyce DiPastena
GENRE: Fiction – Medieval  Romance
FORMAT: Digtial
SERIES / STANDALONE: Hearts in Autumn #1
REVIEW BY : Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy as a part of iRead book yours by Laura Fabiani (Italy Book Tour)
SUMMARY : Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.
Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.
A book of this genre is bound to attract adept readers with that mystifying old world grace and charm. This book is no exception.
The protagonist Lucianna is a fiery red head who has given up on love owing to tumultuous relationship with her brother and has a dark secret which her brother uses against her. Her secret is so explosive in nature that the man who loved her left her jilted after he heard of it from her brother.
Enter our “hero” Sir Balduin De Soler, a man who for long didn’t have the means to have a wife and couldn’t find the perfect wife when he finally had the means. He eventually falls for Lucianna and courts her with silly songs and expensive needles (Sewing Needles). Finally they find each other in spite of Lucianna’s heavy emotional baggage.
The characterization was highly realistic so much so that I had trouble believing this book is actually a work of fiction. The writer apparently has put in a lot of effort to research about Medieval culture. The narration slacked in the beginning but as the story progressed it improved immensely. The metaphorical reference of Autumn has been well justified by the writer. After all, one is never too old to find love.
The key to the success of any romance novel, I believe is portraying beautiful courtship. Sadly, there are few aren’t many writers around who write about a proper courtship before the love proposal. There are even lesser people who prefer reading such books. Romance, today has become like Instant Noodles - Two minutes and done! Not that I have anything against love at first right, I simply prefer the old fashion way.
The writer has made a fantastic job of incorporating light hearted humour into perfect medieval romance. If only the humour element wasn’t there, the story would have been really bland. Her writing skills certainly deserve a mention. The writer sure does know her way around words and their effects. The other highlight of this book is a switch between timelines. Though I would have preferred a chronological narration, nevertheless the shift of timelines simply added the mystery dimension to the story. Throw in some Italian/French words and la – The perfect romance novel with perfect romance setting.
For some reason Sir Balduin’s character reminds me of the handsome bond actor Sean Connery (particularly from the movie – The first Knight)
To sum it up, a prefect medieval love story with all essential elements like mystery, romance and humour.
VERDICT: Curl up on that favourite couch with a cup of hot chocolate and pick this book up. You are bound to lose yourself to old world charm.
RATING: 4 on 5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.
PRICE: Rs. 61

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Voice In my Ear by Ken Newman : A Review By Deepika - Our Beloved Guest Reviewer


Title : The Voice In My Ear
Author: Ken Newman
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Legend
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Review By: Deepika Anandakrishnan
How I Got This Book: Every night before going to bed I prayed to God asking Him to magically send some books my way to keep me from going insane. And He showered me with the two wonderful authors of this blog to whom I owe my sanity now.
The story jumps through timelines back and forth to show how Zack Cole survives a horrific near-death experience and loses and slowly regains his memory. The secret to his survival turns out to be Layla: a 4000 year old witch who hangs on to him. Literally! She has been transformed into a living tattoo and stuck onto his back with all her mighty powers intact.  Over time she develops a strange intimacy with the womanizing Zack. Add to this confusion, a band of violent fanatics who are out to hunt Zack and a hot new girlfriend who could be “The One”. We have a boatload of problems now. Will Layla use the powers in her reserve to help Zack? Or is she too jealous about his new girlfriend to bother about his life now?
Newman tries to get your attention from the word go and his narration aptly supports his intention. It is a delight to watch Larry, the alien, hatch his plans with such glee. Plus he has nailed the Texas accent as I was quite astonished to actually hear it when reading the dialogue. Though this could be to my new experience of speaking to a Texan for five hours a day, it is nevertheless commendable.
If you think this could be a sci-fi story, think twice. It is more like a sub-genre of an urban legend. But if you are a sucker for those stuff (like me), then this is your playing field.
The living witch tattoo twist is a fairly new idea to me and the way she has been introduced was honestly quite funny. He actually turns out to be her human guardians in return for having “Larry the Angel Dude” save his life from a devastating accident. Add to this Zack Cole’s constant womanizing attitude and Layla’s temper flares. It’s quite a love(ly) game indeed. The author seems to have introduced the pseudo worlds between Layla and Zack in order to delve deep into their personalities and develop their relationship. All it does is increase the passion between them and aggravate Layla’s old ‘bad’ personality traits which actually resulted in her becoming a tattoo. That story too is quite riveting. On top of such a high voltage drama, we have a religious group of vicious members out to bag Zack’s head. Why? They think he is an…..Sorry…I am not letting out that twist here!
So many different characters are introduced but they all somehow manage to meld together to form a supernatural thriller. Be it Marci, the villainous girl who is out to get everything or Larry the rock-star Texan angel who hogs the screen whenever he is on; the author manages to pace it all beautifully. And what’s up with the farm guy they try to kill? In my head he looked quite distinguished too! Why couldn’t he have been the hero’s secret father or something like that!..sigh!!
What I like: Excellent for the senses but easy on the eyes too.
What could have been better: Probably the narrative flow could have been a bit smoother. It tends to drag at some places.
Verdict: Save the book for a cosy weekend. Have a cup of your hot beverage and try to find that comfortable position before you start reading. You won’t regret it.
Rating: 4.5/5
Price : Rs.303 (Paperback)
Book Link :