Sunday, July 26, 2015

First Job And Ten Mistakes by Uttam Kumar : A Review



BOOK TITLE: First Job and Ten Mistakes
ISBN: 9789383952281
AUTHOR: Uttam Kumar
GENRE: Non Fiction
NUMBER OF PAGES:
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:
SUMMARY:
In just four short sentences:
"Credit Cards are your advance salary and not additional Salary."
"Avoid SpEaR, adopt ESS"
"Loan for Loan is Suicidal."
"It's always the first step that matters; the rest will follow."
REVIEW:
          The book is, by far, the shortest I have ever read for review. So the review is also going to be unique.
First Impression:
          The book is small – way too small than expected. It came as a surprise to me since I hadn’t realised that its total page count was 53. It seemed like a booklet that has all the important points it wanted to convey and was short and sweet.
The cover:
          The first thing that attracted me to the book was its brilliant cover design. Starting with the colour scheme, font and the doodles, the cover is pretty attractive. Though I am yet to find the actual connection between the images used in the cover and the concepts covered in the book, this sure caught my eye and therefore led me to pick up the book and read its summary and the other content. So this wins in making the book way more attractive at first sight.
The Summary:
          Four short sentences given as the summary give a hint of more content inside. Not to mention the two acronyms using which we get a short idea of what the book is going to be about. It is concise enough to draw the readers in but quickly dispels the notions of any story in the book.
The content:
          First Job and Ten Mistakes is NOT a book about the mistakes you would actually do on a job and ways to rectify them. It concentrates instead, on the financial mistakes you might make after you get into a job and earn your salary and also what not to fix as your first job. The ten mistakes are each given as one chapter and the details are almost given as bullet points. The content covers the major points in the said header.
What to expect:
          First Job & Ten mistakes is a book you would find informative at the first glance and as a good reference of what you should learn further with more detailed books once you get the basic idea. It also does sound like the ten commandments of finance. Thou shalt not do this – instead, do this!

WHAT I LIKED:
          The cover image and the short summary.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          The book could be made a bit more interesting by adding a few examples and case studies. It would add volume to the book and make it even more understandable.
VERDICT:
          Go for this! It really is interesting in the way it highlights common mistakes people make financially and also how to skirt around them.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
          I am a born Human, trying to Be Human. Never lived life along defined Rules! Have done my Masters in Mathematics, spent 19 years in Commercial, Sales, Marketing and Finance! Had a liking for writing since my School days. But there was no one to guide so could not do anything. As I attained 35 years of age, I started my own business to take a break from hectic Life. Started writing. "First Job and Ten Mistakes" is my first published work.Working on few projects. Will keep updating!
Open to Reviews and Suggestions, especially if critical!
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback.
PRICE: Rs. 95 for Paperback

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Haveli by Zeenat Mahal : A Review



BOOK TITLE: Haveli
ISBN: 9781927826027
AUTHOR: Zeenat Mahal
GENRE: Fiction / Romance
NUMBER OF PAGES: 93
FORMAT: Digital
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:
          I thank team Indireads for this review copy.
SUMMARY:
          It’s the 1970′s in Jalalabad, an erstwhile princely state in Pakistan. Chandni is a self-proclaimed cynic and prefers to be called C. An orphan brought up by her domineering grandmother, a.k.a. The Broad, C is rebellious, quick-witted and stunningly beautiful.
          When Taimur, a.k.a. Alpha Male, enters the closed universe of the haveli, he is smitten, but he’ll never admit it.
          The stakes get higher when the father, who had so cruelly abandoned her at birth, returns and C’s dream of reuniting with him becomes a reality. But now she has to choose between her father and his hand-picked groom on the one side, and Alpha Male and The Broad on the other
.
REVIEW:
          Haveli is a first person narrative of Chandni, a sarcastic and witty girl. Set in a rich palatial household, the story is about Chandni as she traverses through her adolescent crush, betrayal, treachery and longing for love from anyone close to her. Brought up by her strict grandmother, who she refers to as ‘The Broad’ Chandni is home schooled and reads a lot of English classics. This is evident in the numerous literary references she scatters throughout the story, even during the most stressful terms. (Or maybe it is the author Zeenat’s MPhil in English Literature that shows through!)
          Chandni and her mother are abandoned by their father when she was very young and left at her grandmother’s doorstep. Her mother dies soon after and Chandni grows up in the strict environment. She longs for love as her grandmother’s strict ways, though not necessarily devoid of love, does not believe in actually expressing the sentiments. Thoroughly blinded, she ‘falls in love’ with a much older man who is a family friend. The older man, on the other hand, treats her like a child. Desperate to win his attention, she is confused when Taimur enters her life. Taimur is the son of the only man who has shown her fatherly affection, the person she refers to as Baba.
          On principle, Chandni wants to hate Taimur, but it is quite obvious to the readers that she is slowly falling for him. Taimur comes across as a cocky arrogant person but is shown (though rarely) as a caring man. He constantly teases Chandni and with his brutal truths delivered in a condescending manner, upsetting her more than she would agree. Very soon, Chandni gets a double blow. The man she has a crush on is engaged (publicly, by her grandmother’s insistence) to another woman and her grandmother forces Taimur on her. Having hated him on principle and feeling like a commodity, Chandni throws her engagement ring back at the man and refuses to be engaged.
          Her estranged father comes back into her life confusing her already turbulent emotions. He showers love and affection over her and despite the opposition of her family and close friends, Chandni falls for the charm. But his return means only trouble for her. What happens next in her life and how she faces the same forms the rest of the story.
          The language is good, with words of nativity making an occasional appearance and the author has managed to even use examples and idioms fitting to the time and location of the story. The pace is fast enough and the reader is constantly between feeling frustrated and sympathetic towards Chandni. The story is short and sweet for a novella. It is a really enjoyable read with a nice plotline. The characters are crisp and developed but the story is predictable. Zeenat once again manages to write an endearing and memorable tale of love and a strong female character albeit in a much different setting.
WHAT I LIKED:
          The characterisation of Chandni, Taimur and the grandmother.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
          The story has too many literary references, and for the reader who isn’t familiar with classics, this would sound a little Greek.
VERDICT:
          Go for this one! You would love the ending. The last few pages of the book are its best.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
          Zeenat Mahal (@zeenat4indireads) is an avid reader and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She has an MPhil in English literature from Government College Lahore and is currently doing an MFA in creative writing from Kingston University, London. She won a BBC short story competition in 2001 and has been a regular contributor to newspapers.
          Zeenat has eclectic tastes and an insatiable desire to learn. Her romances are a heady mix of the traditional and the contemporary, old world values face the challenges of a shrinking globe that impinge upon and help shape South Asian sensibilities.
          ‘Haveli’ is Zeenat’s first of two published novellas. Currently she is working on a literary novel with elements of magical realism, while continuing to write romances. She can be contacted on her FB page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zeenat-Mahal.
          Zeenat currently lives in Kingston Upon Thames with her fabulous sons.
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Digital
PRICE: $2.35 for Kindle


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads by S.R Mallery : A Review & Blog Tour


Tour Schedule
Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour of Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads by S.R Mallery. This is a collection of 11 short stories. Featuring stories from genres like mystery, history, romance and action, this anthology has been highly rated by readers all over the world and has 4.8 out of 5 rating on Goodreads. 

And I am so excited to share this book on my blog today. Also, Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads by S.R Mallery is only 99c/Rs. 63 from a limited time! 

~About the Book~

 #BlogTourAnnouncement and #Signup: Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S.R. Mallery {16-19 July}
Title and Author: Sewing Can Be Dangerous And Other Small Threads by S.R Mallery
No. of Pages: 276
Publication Date: December 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction, Anthology, Short Stories, Romance, Mystery, Action

Blurb:
The eleven long short stories in "Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads" combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macram√© artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.

 Add to Goodreads: Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S.R Mallery



BOOK REVIEW:

Rather than the review of the book as a whole, it will do justice to give a few comments about each individual story because every single story has a unique element.

Sewing Can Be Dangerous:
It is a tale that takes people back to the past in its writing. The dialogues (with the nativity pertaining to that particular time) are well written. The story is chilling enough and brings the violent scenes of the fire accident right before the eyes as if they were happening in the present. The twist, though predictable for seasoned readers is a real treat and the main point of the story.

A Drunkard's Path:
Starting off as a normal happy tale, this sets the scene where you keep expecting something sinister to happen. And it does happen, though not in a really obvious blood curdling way. Narrated (once again) in past, the back story gives definite goose bumps, if not for being real, at least for explaining in a very realistic way the Salem Witch Trials.

Lettie's Tale:
Lettie is a black slave. Set in the backdrop of the plantations in America when slavery was a big issue, this story is thrilling, undeniably fast paced and with nice twists. I will never look at a quilt the same way again.

The Comforter:
Irony at its best. The real point of the story isn't visible until the last line. But surely, one of the best stories about Nazi Germany that has been written without being too gory but getting the point across.

A Plague on Both Your Houses:
A beautifully scripted love story between two individuals who are unlikely to meet, much less fall in love. The initial pages, where the comparison between Lizzy and Mark are written are classic if you are able to follow the sudden switches between characters. A feel good story.

Border Windfalls:
A story about a righteous doctor who wants to cure cleft lips falling into a mexican drug cartel. But the whole poignant mood of the story is simply crafted to say that sometimes even the worst of situations bring out the best for people.

Emma At Night:
A story of English nobility, set in fifteenth century England, and a plot to overthrow the King, Richard the Lionhearted. It is the tale of a brave seamstress who helps hatch a brilliant plan to inform the King's High Minister about the treachery, thereby saving the ruler. The archaic language is the highlight of the story.

Murder She Sewed:
A brilliantly written piece about a cruise ship homicide. A quilter and a NYPD detective are on a cruise for their own vacationing reasons and when the murder happens, who solves it forms the rest of the story. It is slightly predictable with linear progression but it is a good read.

Precious Gifts:
A woman's obsession with a sewing machine, and the events that follow! Simply written, story's depth is the best point.

Lyla's Summer Of Love:
If anything, this story attracts the readers with its title. And the content doesn't disappoint either. This story has all the elements of a racy read!

Nightmare at Four Corners:
Helen and her article - enough said. The title sounds ominous enough and the story follows with quick twists and turns. A fitting end to a unique book.

Overall comments:
The book is one of the most unique I have read in recent times. Almost every story has a sewing link (pun intended) and the title seems apt. The stories seem to have been handpicked and the language is great, save a few typos. The best dark stories can be woven using words that have the capability to send chills down the reader's spine. Go for this book if you like your stories peppered with dark emotions. A brilliant read.

~Excerpt~

An Excerpt from Sewing Can Be Dangerous & Other Small Threads

From A Drunkard’s Path

 “....Are you kidding me?” Deborah exploded. “My life is falling apart! C’mon, curses don’t really happen, do they? I mean, what can I do? You tell me now!” She segued into a screech.
“Come over to my place tomorrow and I’ll try to relate it all to you, I promise…”

….“Do you know anything about the Salem Witchcraft trials?” The older woman leaned in toward her niece, as if casting a spell herself.
“No, not much, why?”
“You remember Martha Stinson from my quilt group? Well after the wedding, she showed me a journal written by a relative of hers and frankly, I am very concerned about you. It seems one of the accused witches from the original Salem trials might have actually had a connection with a real witch, an ancestor of Martha’s…”

* * * *
Inside the packed meetinghouse, dust particles from mud-caked boots floated throughout the air, rendering it dense, murky. That year, April had been an unkind month to Salem Village. Rain-drenched meadows produced a sludge that clung to the edges of women’s dresses, creating odors so foul that in such tight quarters, it became difficult to breathe. But people weren’t concerned with such matters on this day. They had gathered for a higher purpose: the Devil was in Salem, and they wished him thwarted at all costs. Even the constant threat of Indian attacks and surviving harsh winters paled in comparison to what was happening now, in that room, swelling with apprehension.
Crammed into high-walled pews, dark wooden benches, or simply shoved up against walls, spectators filled every conceivable space in the meetinghouse. Donning black hats, cloaks, and breeches, the men angled forward, their eyes boring holes into the five men sitting up front, yet it was the women who carried the greatest burden that day; their hooded coats and muffs covering their recently unkempt hair and unwashed fingernails, couldn’t disguise the uncertainty they felt about their community’s loyalty to them and how it would all end.
Sitting at the head of the counsel table, amongst other magistrates in the newly appointed Court of Oyer and Terminer, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin quietly conferred with each other before beginning their first round of questioning. Arrogant, self-important, the black-robed magistrates assumed their positions on the political totem pole, and having been brought to Salem for such a specific purpose, they dared not disappoint. They were on a mission to deliver souls. Hathorne, displaying the greatest exhibition of self-aggrandizement, seemed the most severe. With no real legal experience, and having only glanced at Sir Mathew Hale’s Trial of Witches, and Joseph Granvill’s Collection of Sundry Trials in England, Ireland the week before, he nonetheless believed he was more than competent to interrogate the accused.
At the front of the room facing the magistrates, sat all the accusers, the “afflicted” girls: Abigail Williams, her cousin Betty Parris, Ann Putnam, Sarah Bibber, Sarah Churchill, Elizabeth Booth, Mercy Lewis, Susanna Sheldon, Jemima Rea, Mary Warren, Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard. With downcast eyes and folded hands, they appeared demure; inwardly they were experiencing emotions quite different from anything they had ever known. Childhoods stocked with adult repression and fear now served as a springboard to the frenzy of accusations they had created, because on this day, along with their catharsis and even exhilaration, came the most important emotion of all: a sense of empowerment. At last, they were getting adults to listen to them, and it was intoxicating.
John Hathorne commenced with the proceedings. “Bring in the accused, Bridget Bishop….” 

~Buying Links~

Grab the kindle/Nook book at just $0.99 or Rs. 63!
Amazon IN: Kindle Book
Amazon US: Paperback | Kindle Book
B&N: Nook Book

~Meet the Author~

S.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy.?Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.

Website/Blog:  www.srmallery.com
Twitter:  @SarahMallery1
Goodreads:
Pinterest:  (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)
Amazon Author page:   http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

~Giveaway~

 $25 Amazon Gift Card
Open Worldwide
Ends on 31st July


~Organized by~

Guest Post by SR Mallery, author of 'Sewing Can be Dangerous and Other Dark Threads'

I would like the author to write a post on ‘The merits and demerits of writing a book of short stories instead of novels’

On the ‘merit’ side, writing short stories was the easiest path for me.  Having been a quilt designer/teacher for over twenty years, I had always felt creating pillows in order to learn one’s craft and techniques was a far savvier way to go than jumping straight into the deep end of the pool and sewing a large quilt.

So it was for me when I started writing.  The thought of completing a full novel was too daunting.  Like the pillows, I preferred to hone in on my prose and plots with short stories.  Indeed, later, when I wrote my first novel, UNEXPECTED GIFTS, I was somewhat nervous about penning a large-scale book until I envisioned each chapter as a short story that just happened to be interconnected.  That idea calmed me down enough to continue writing it!

The ‘demerit’ side of publishing short stories is aptly put by the writer/critic Maud Newton: “The reality is that collections bring smaller advances. Publishers will always tell you that they’re just not able to sell collections in the numbers that they want…I personally love short story collections…Some of the best literature––and entertainment––I’ve ever read were story collections.”

And this, from an article by Becky Tuch:

“When I asked Robin Black, author of the short story collection, If I loved you I would tell you this (Random House, 2010), about her experience, she told me, “I heard ENDLESS discouraging words – particularly about an unlinked collection and even more particularly one with traditional “realist” stories about middle aged people. I was told by many, many people – including several agents who wanted to sign me only for a novel – that the book would never sell…For many of us the sale of the collection is premised on the two-book deal in which the other book is a novel.”

And…

“Of course, not all writers have felt this struggle. Michael Nye, managing editor of The Missouri Review and author of the collection, Strategies Against Extinction (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012), shared that Jason Ashlock (his agent) “did say that short-story collections are tough to sell. But he also said that it can be done, and there wasn’t any reason not to try…No other editor or fellow writer told me not to try to sell a collection. Far too many of us love, write, and read story collections to say something like that.”

I, myself, was certainly told by various agents and small publishers that although they loved these ‘different’ stories as well as the ‘sewing connection,’ they didn’t know how to market the collection because 1) of its diverse subject/places/genres, and 2) they would prefer for me to submit a novel first before they took on the stories.


But here I am. With fingers crossed and a reminder of what the literary Jason Ashlock says, “…short story collections can be tough to sell…[but] it can be done, and there [isn’t] any reason not to try…,” I shall remain hopeful that readers who love short stories or don’t always have time to read a long book are still out there… 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

INTERNATIONAL AUTHORS DAY : BLOG HOP AND GIVEAWAY!

Organised and hosted by b00k r3vi3ws blog!
THE LOST ART OF READING!
          Reading – a single, simple word that carries more weight based on the perspective in which it is used. You can ‘read’ almost anything. The top ‘reading activity’ that might come to one’s mind when we see the word is ‘reading the newspaper’. Sadly, it also happens to be the standard, bland response most children nowadays come up with when asked about their hobbies. It gives original readers and bookworms a sad realisation that they are a rare species – those people others should approach with hesitation and caution. Either for the fear of having their ears blasted off in a unsuspecting, totally unintentional lecture of sorts about their favourite book (or the one in their currently reading list) or for the pure cluelessness of having to deal with what would mostly sound like Greek and Latin.
          True readers are those rare people who actually derive pleasure from reading the words printed on paper (or electronic devices nowadays) and constructing the magical scenarios in their heads. These people tackle ‘reading’ as an art, a slow sensual romance between them and the book they read. Most often, you will find these people at the local bookstore, thumbing through copies of books to find that one book that would capture their heart. They will serenade with the shelves, trying to locate that title they have been wanting to read for some time now or maybe for that single elusive title that might immediately capture their attention and thereby their soul.
          Then once the book is located, begins the actual process of enjoying. It usually starts with the admiration of the cover and the title (yes, even though we don’t buy or reject a book solely based on its cover, it still plays a vital role) then the attention moves towards the book’s summary. It is a slow seduction as the reader then begins familiarising with the book. The necessary ‘get to know’ routine – gently sliding fingers across the spine, admiring the lettering and the opening the cover itself, savouring the smell (new book or old book smell, they each have their own charms) and then slowly reading the title and the description word by word.
          Once the ‘reading’ actually starts, the reader enters into a world of their own. From then on, they are with the characters, delving into the pages and becoming one with the characters. The words seem to possess a magical quality as they broaden the minds and create worlds that wouldn’t otherwise exist. For in each written word, a tale is told and in each chapter of a book a new perspective dawns. Reading is a pleasure – it is magical.
          To encourage more people to take up reading and to show our support to the original magicians – the authors, to continue writing more such awesome books, we are celebrating ‘International Authors’ Day!’.
          Please enter the EXCITING GIVEAWAY to win ONE PAPERBACK COPY of ‘The Elephants’ Child’ by Marion Eaton.
ALSO TO BE WON: A digital copy of either of the exciting titles, ‘The Lion Mountains’ and ‘The Elephant’s Child’ by Marion Eaton!

Enter HERE



Guest Post by James Eric Richey, author of Two Hearts, a romantic thriller.

A little background information:
          I thank Laura Fabiani of iRead book tours for sending both my questions to the author and receiving his excellently written response. I had given two choices as Guest Post topics but to my great pleasant surprise, both the questions were answered. My sincere thanks to both Laura and the author James Eric Richey.
1.  An event (incident) in the author’s life that changed his perspective on love.
Answer:
When you date a person, you learn about their likes, their dislikes, the things that make them happy, and the things that make them angry. As you date this person and learn these things, you also learn about yourself and what you like and don’t like. 
You date and date until you find the right person that likes and dislikes the same things, or almost all the same things, as you do.  In the process of dating and discovering the right person, you fall in love. 
You fall in love with the person for who they are and what they are, and you also fall in love with that person for how they help you become who and what you are.  They lift you up and at the same time you lift them up. 
I dated a lot when I was younger, looking for the right person.  I had a preconceived idea of how marriage was supposed to be.  You date, fall in love, and get married, and then you live happily ever after.  That is how I thought it was supposed to be. 
There are three incidents that have occurred in my life that have helped shape my perspective on love.  First, please let me clarify, I’m not an expert on love.  I am still discovering for myself the meaning of true love.  I know that the more I work at it, the more I realize that there is so much more to learn. 
The first incident in my life that changed my perspective on love was getting married. Married life was bliss, but then life’s challenges set in, which causes stress, frustration, and discouragement.  We live in such a disposable society that when the smallest problems occur in life it is so easy to just throw it all away and start over fresh.  But, marriage is a wonderful thing—sharing your life with someone you love is deep, fulfilling, and eternal. 
That is what I learned when I got married, that together we could face any challenge that came our way.  Whether it be problems at school, with finances, career challenges, or health problems, I knew that if we worked together we could survive and conquer in the end.  My perspective on love changed and deepened as we grew together facing everyday challenges that came our way. 
The other two events or incidents that changed my perspective on love were the birth of my two lovely daughters.  Love for my wife grew stronger and stronger each and every day we spent together.  I thought I knew what love was after I got married to my wife and as we struggled and worked together through life’s challenges.  Could it be possible to love her even more?  Yes, a resounding yes.  My love grew and grew as each one of our daughters were born.  The lives of our daughters, their joining our family, has brought a richness to our lives that is indescribable.  That is why I expressed earlier that I am still learning what love is.  My love for my wife and two daughters grows stronger and deeper everyday as we face together life’s challenges.
2.  What is the success recipe for young love?
Answer:
I was once told that the secret to a happy successful marriage was, “A cookie and a kiss.”  A success recipe hints at the idea that there are certain ingredients that if added together will create a master piece. 
Unfortunately, a successful marriage is not that cut and dry.  However, there are a few things that can really help.  One thing is to overlook the little things that don’t matter that much.  Focus on the big things, and always remember to forgive and forget. 
Another thing is to always communicate with each other.  Open communication helps people to not assume the wrong things, which often causes misunderstandings.  Trust is also very important.  It is a must have in a successful relationship. 
Too often divorce is the answer for every little problem that arises.  Instead, if everyone would work together, with the goal of staying together, the little problems would disappear, and the big problems would be worked out together.

Two Hearts by James Eric Richey : A Review




BOOK DETAILS:
Book Title: Two Hearts, When I Said I Do, I Meant Forever by James Eric Richey
Category:  Adult Fiction, 426 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: JER Books

SHORT SUMMARY:
          A wedding ring Jaxon made for his high-school sweetheart Annie from the gold he mined himself,  but women continue to fall all over the markedly handsome Jaxon.  The warnings of Annie's mother linger in the young bride's ears. 
          Is Annie right, or will it be her doubts that forever sever their Two Hearts?  
BOOK DESCRIPTION:
          Jaxon Tagget is a cattle-rancher's son, born and raised on the Double T, just outside of Dillon, Montana. In love with his high-school sweetheart, Annie, Jaxon proposes on graduation night, presenting her with a wedding ring made from gold he mined himself. Annie accepts immediately, to the horror of her bitter, man-hating mother.
          Jaxon's a wonderful husband, but the warnings of Annie's mother linger in the young bride's ears. And it doesn't help that women continue to fall all over the markedly handsome Jaxon.

          Unaware of his wife's persistent doubts, Jaxon is struggling with his own troubles when he finds out his dad is sorely in need of money to save the ranch. But hope glimmers gold when he rediscovers the old mine on the Double T.
          While Jaxon travels to verify the mine's productivity, Annie grows increasingly suspicious. Is Jaxon's absence what it seems, or does he have another, less faithful reason for his travels? When Annie sees a picture of the beautiful laboratory owner whom Jaxon is visiting, she's sure the only gold he's interested in is long, blond hair. Is Annie right, or will it be her doubts that forever sever their Two Hearts?
BOOK REVIEW:
          From the cover design to the title, Two Hearts promises to be all about romance, the union of two hearts and the troubles that might come. The story is simple enough. High school sweethearts Jaxon and Annie marry just out of college, against her mother’s warnings. The marriage seems to be going great initially, but having grown up in a troubled environment takes its toll on Annie, in whose heart lurks the constant fear of being cheated on by her husband.
          Annie’s strict upbringing with a single mother, devoid of the affection of a father (who had, incidentally, cheated on her mother and made her the man hater that she was) makes her want to rebel and marry Jaxon, believing him to be her true love. Troubles crop up in the most unexpected of places. Given, Jaxon is handsome and attracts women, but his character remains stoically in love with his wife throughout.
          Jaxon, for his part, does not actually realise his wife’s nagging doubts and the internal demons she is facing. He is burdened by troubles that find their way to him from all sorts of unlikely places, making the reader exclaim, more than once, in anger, ‘Of all the rotten luck!’. Repeated far troubles Jaxon faces frustrate the reader more than the characters themselves and most of the time, I had to put the book down and stare at it in deep speculation.
          The initial scene placements are so romantic, with Jaxon mining gold out of his mine and making a ring and pendant for Annie. Romance lovers would drink this up and go all dewy eyed. Annie’s rebellion against her authoritative mother also sets the stage for troubles that seem to follow the couple everywhere. Before long, we realise that wherever Jaxon goes, women fall over him, or somebody reports having seen him with a woman and the bud of doubt begins to form in Annie’s mind.
          As a character, Jaxon has been well developed, with his intentions clear since the beginning. And Annie is developed as a loving woman who wants to believe her husband is loyal, but whose first male role model, her father, gave her a lasting scar that makes her doubt all men in general. It doesn’t help things that Jaxon seems to come up with the flimsiest of excuses when confronted.
          It takes the reader more than half the book to realise that Jaxon isn’t very vocal and is not good with explanations. Annie on the other hand tries to be forgiving but has her belief tested by the slightest of provocations. How the couple overcome all these forms the rest of the story. The first half progresses as a slow romance with a thrilling moment or two, but the last 30% is where the book perks up with a flight chase, sabotage, shooting and grievous injuries.
          If you expect a sappy romantic story with the lead couple struggling with emotions as they conquer all odds, this book isn’t for you. But if you really like some thriller elements that spice up a book and the fact that love is made stronger by tests, this book is a must read. In a rare style, this book concentrates more on the problems a couple faces after marriage. It has been a routine nowadays to read love stories that culminate in marriage – calling it a happy ending. Real happy endings happen not only when the love is successful. They happen when the marriage is equally successful against all odds.
          Overall, the language is good, save a few inevitable typos. The story adheres well to the summary and the plot seems full of twists and still manages to become predictable in places. The first half could do with tighter editing but it sets the pace nicely. The ending seems a bit rushed but very feasible. Overall, Two Hearts is a tale of love – but it is more than that. It is a tale of love, friendship, betrayal, fate and affection. Go for it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

          James Eric Richey was born and raised in California. He attended Brigham Young University, studying English with an emphasis in Literature. After graduating from BYU he returned home to California to further his education by attending law school. After passing the bar, James practiced in California for several years, but he quickly learned that he did not have a passion for the law.
          In 1998 James obtained his real estate appraiser license, which has given him a flexible work schedule and allowed him to pursue his true passion, writing books. Besides his writing, he also enjoys reading, running, and sailing. James currently lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with his wife, Heather, and their two daughters.
PRICE: $2.98 for Kindle, $13.95 for Paperback


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Interview with Theresa Rizzo Author of The Lives Between Us

RM:
Hello Theresa,
          First of all, I want to thank you for writing such a beautiful book. It has been long since I read a clean book without blood, gore and villains. ‘The Lives Between Us’ was a welcome change to the run of the mill books! And to be frank, the appendix in the book, ‘The Lives Between Us Discussion Questions’ covered almost everything I noted down as questions for the interview as I read the book. So I have had to redraft my whole questionnaire (no complaints! I have never known anyone so thorough!)
TR: Thanks so very much for having me on your blog, Dhivya.
1.    While you set out to write this book, what did you expect it to be? (As in the drama element, or the impact of advances in medicine, or the struggles in politicians lives?)
Is there any event or book or news in particular that made you start writing this?
When embryonic stem cells were discovered and hailed as potential miracle cures for all kinds of diseases and disabilities, the moral controversy intrigued me. I could sympathize with scientists and pro-life people, yet thought they both simplified the issue. I think it’s easy to take moral stances when one is not directly affected, but what happens to your morals when it’s your child or your spouse who stands to suffer or died? That idea intrigued me and I had to write about it.

In order to attract readers and get the message I wanted to across, I knew I’d have to be very clever. Being preachy or too factual would turn people off, so I tried to develop great, relatible characters, and put them in an intriguing plot that allowed me to reveal the science and moral contraversy I wanted to include, without overwhelming them.

I didn’t intend to write about the struggles in a politician’s life, but it was born from my will NOT to write clich√© characters, and my personal annoyance of how fans are so judgmental of famous people and pretend like they know them and have a RIGHT to know about their lives simply because of who they are and what their talents are. No doubt some celebrities court this attention, but I’m guessing 85% do not and fans take it to an obscenly invasive level in my opinion and it’s not right. Lecture done.

The romance I included for two reasons—one, romance readers make up more than 52% of all fiction books sold—so it’s a conscious marketing decision, but most importantly…I love romance and need that happy ending. My optimistic little soul needs a happy ending, so all my books will always have that, because that’s with I need. And if you don’t know it yet, it’s ALL about what I want <G>. Just teasing.

2.    The first thing that attracted me to this book was the title. Is there any significance or was it a catchy phrase?
Titles are REALLY hard to come up with. I very deliberately chose The Lives Between Us. Since the death of embyros is at the core of the contraversy of this story, it’s the little lost souls (embryos) that is at issue, coming between people. It’s fighting over Lives that comes between the characters.  Gosh, it HAS to have strong meaning ‘cause the title is NOT easy to say. I’d have chosen something liguistically easier if I could have!

3.    In the whole book, my favourite characters are Faith and Noelle. They are strong woman (though not the protagonists, they are very important to the development of the story). Which character did you enjoy creating the most?
You know, I have to say I love these women, too. So strong. And unlike most writers of emotional dramas, I come up with a plot that intrigues me, then create characters to move around the story to suit my needs, but Faith kind of became her own person early on. I was writing a scene—dialogue—and she popped out with these lines that showed me she has a great sense of humor. That surprised me.

But I think I fell in love with Edward. I loved the challege of writing a politician with morals. A loyal husband. A passionate man willing to work to try and change life for the better for society.  A man who wants to be a good father, but falls short, until this roll becomes a priority. Edward wasn’t perfect, but he had a heart of gold and he came through. That’s all I can ask for of my hero.

4.    When I started the book, I never imagined the book would turn out to have so many distinct flavours. It was a conflict between a good man’s political and personal lives, a good woman’s dilemma between reporting the biggest news of her career and refraining from doing it due to friendship – if asked to classify your book under one genre, what would it be?
That’s the beauty and curse of this book, and the main reason it wasn’t picked up by a traditional publisher when my agent tried to sell it. It offers something for many different readers—romance, the meat of a good literary read, the current events and science/medical to appeal to medical enthusiasts and fans of Jodi Picoult. It’s hard to know where to put it on a shelf in a bookstore, so it’s hard for a publisher to market. My dad claims my books are just “damn good books”—not women’s fiction. I laugh and tell him that it’s too bad there’s not just a “Damn Good Book” shelf in a bookstore.
I was hoping that The Lives Between Us would catch on like wildfire so my fans would solve this problem for me and I could just classify it under the Bestseller shelf.

5.    Skylar blaming Edward for Nikki’s death seemed far fetched and a bit unnecessary.  Are there any justifications? (and no, I haven’t changed my opinion after reading the book – I have always maintained that a single person could not be blamed for large scale events!)
Justification? In my experience, immature people don’t bother much with justification, especially when their emotions are involved. Skye is immature, as are many 20 somethings of my acquaintance. She’s also emotionally vulnerable due to the loss of both parents while in her teens. I know how hard it was losing my mom when I was in my 40s—experiencing that type of loss times two—as a teen, could have a very real, damaging impact on a person to my way of thinking.
There are millions of adults who live most of their lives not taking responsibility for themselves and their lives. They blame others for EVERYTHING. I didn’t raise MY kids that way, however there are plenty of people out there like this, so Skye’s attitude didn’t seem so far-fetched to me, but I couldn’t let her stay that way long.
The book takes place over about a year, so that’s a fair amount of growing up she did in that amount of time, so it worked for me.
6.    Who are your favourite authors/ inspirations?
Gosh I have too many to name. I have vast respect for Harlan Coban, Susanne Collins, Kaki Warner, Jodi Picoult, Lisa Kleypas, Christine Feehan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Wiggs, Tessa Dare, and I could go on quite a while.

7.    There is nothing I would change about the book, not even the ending – but was it a conscious decision to make sure the book had no real villains, only people who were influenced by their surroundings and motives?
Gosh, you ask the best questions. No, I don’t think it was a consicous decision to make no villains, though I kind of thought of Eileen as a villain. But I guess it was born of my belief that everybody has a reason for acting the way they do. It’s said that when you dig down deep, two main emotions motivate people, fear and love. Even bad villains –unless they’re mentally unstable—have reasons for what they do. And those reasons make sense to that person. So I like to illuminate the reasons behind characters’ behaviors.

8.    IF you wanted people to gain a message from reading this book, what would it be?
I want people to realize that moral dilemmas are difficult, multi-faceted problems—it’s simply not as easy as many people make it out to be.  Id like us all to be more compassionate and less judgmental. But for the grace of God go I.

9.    Are there any more such books in the pipeline?
Yup, I have a romantic suspense coming out this fall or Jan 2016 and then another suspense and after that, we’ll see.
Now for some quick fire questions –
·        Your favourite book / series?
I don’t have a favorite. I loved The Hunger Games, Loved Lisa Kleypas’s contemporary series with Sugar Daddy, Kaki Warner’s Blood Rose trilogy and of course the incomperable Harry Potter books.

·        Your hobbies?
Besides reading? I crochet, ski, hike, walk, I create cool tile mosaics, love to landscape my yard, spend time with my kids, playing cards—euchre, hearts, spades, canasta…

·        Any book you have read again and again (a comfort book, perhaps?)
Not fiction, really. I’ll re-read some fiction books to learn from them—like I deconstructed the Hunger games because the premis of the books is distasteful, so how does Collins pull it off and make us get over it and hook us on the story and make it so we couldn’t put it down? I want to master THAT skill!

·        What genre would we find in abundance in your bookshelf?
Romance.
·        One person you are constantly inspired by?
Susan Wiggs. She’s a fine writer, she’s been successful a long time in this fickle industry, and she’s genuinely a kind, sweet person. I want to be like Susan when I grow up J
·        Your preferred writing environment?
My study, though I move all over the house when I write—my bedroom, my desk over my treadmill, the family room… I don’t write in public like many authors I know.. I have zero capacity to block distractions out, so can’t write with noise around.

Thanks for taking time to answer my questions.