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Kevin Peter's book reviews

Tour de Life – A review of the novel ‘Turner's Point’

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”- Confucius

In author Gordon Osmond’s latest book, ‘Turner’s Point’ starts off from where his last novel ‘Slipping on Stardust’ ended. It starts off with Eileen Brockway travelling from Johnson, Ohio to Hollywood, California to meet up with her estranged son Kyle. Eileen and her husband Dan’s marriage has dissolved after the explosive revelation that she had an affair with former matinee idol Adrian Conway and the fact that her son Kyle too had a fling with him when the star was in town. Apart from finding out about their son’s sexual orientation and to further muck up reality, Dan and his long time partner in law Raul relocates to San Diego to start their own law firm along with Dan’s new wife, Erin who also used to be Kyle’s formed girlfriend. The rest of the story shows how these tragic – comic sets of characters find redemption and rediscover purpose and direction in their personal and professional lives.

In Turner’s Point we are treated to people and characters that are described so vividly that they come to life and the narrative often rivals a conceivable future visual version of the book. The characters all seem like the people we might know and want to either hang out with or avoid at all costs. This book is filled with sub plot but they all work very well on their own. It’s amazing how the author manages to lure the reader into different directions with each little sub plot, and although it’s easy to lose focus or interest after a while when you are venturing out like this but here, in Turner’s Point, the quality of the writing ensures that your mind stays riveted throughout. In the end all the plot lines are brought together nicely and the reader is left with a more than fair share of glimpse into the ever interesting blue-collar life, which families across the board live out nonchalantly every single day.

Gordon’s prose is ironic and sarcastic and is layered with a biting wit that spews venom in all direction without any bias or discrimination. Case in point are the bits in the studio with Greg, an actor, Tash (Natasha), Kyle’s girl friend and Kirk Underwood, a writer trying to film his maiden movie – Journey. Another one is Eileen’s impromptu omelette making exercise in a diner. Trust me when I say this, you are going to chuckle your way around almost every single page of this book. This book has many references and metaphors to many pop and socio cultural phenomenon which are strewn throughout and you would have a ball with it, identifying and associating with them.

Kyle and Eileen’s twelve step program of rehabilitation, Kyle’s discovery of love and sexuality, Dan’s struggle to establish on his own, Raul’s reunion with his secret daughter, are some of the twists and turns that you will find in Turner’s Point. Amidst all the madness and the laughs, it’s tough to ignore the message about what all can go wrong when you give into your temptations; the secrets and the lies that can ruin your life and break up your family.

The ground Turner’s Point breaks is incredulous and exhilarating at the same time, it has a little bit of everything for everyone. Gordon Osmond’s voice is a very original voice that will shock you, humour you, make you think and in the end will leave you thoroughly entertained. His language and brilliance in dialogue writing has to be experienced first hand to appreciate it fully. I definitely look forward to more of Osmond’s brilliant writing in his future books.

Product Details

  • File Size: 894 KB
  • Print Length: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing (April 11, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Buy From - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JOWF2JY/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb
An uneasy choice – A review of the novel ‘Making Wishes’

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition” ― James Baldwin

There is a unique destiny and a particular path to fulfilment that we all have to discover on our own in this world. Fulfilment has in part an element often referred to as contentment, of being at peace with our life choices and how we have managed to express ourselves in the world in relation to its various options & potentialities. And even though it is something that applies to both men and women in equal measure, fulfilment as a quality is talked about more in relation to women and not of men who somehow seem to find it on their own, on their active and lonely walks of exploration away from home; only after the initial period of rest surrounded by amniotic fluid and nestled deep inside a woman that is. So it’s no surprise that it’s often a woman who has to find different ways to crack open the confining and restraining patriarchal and outdated definitions and find newer ways to express success or fulfilment. But being fulfilled isn’t a final destination, those who are truly fulfilled will keep growing and tackle newer challenges and try to celebrate a freedom that balances both the feminine values as well as reflect the inner passions of life.

In author Marilyn Holdsworth’s latest novel, ‘Making Wishes’, Elloree Prince is an artist and a creative young woman who is the star employee at Wishes Inc., a greeting card company. She decides to put on hold her high rewarding job when she marries a rich businessman, Tom Randall at the end of a long and unrelenting courting by him. Elloree and Tom move into a wealthy suburb and raise a small family consisting of two young sons. But even after years of trying to fit in, Elloree finds that she isn’t able to adjust to the stifling high class living and always ends up feeling like the odd one out at such high end events. When one day, Mark Williams her old boss at Wishes Inc. calls her to offer her old job back, it not only reignites her yearning for her artistic work but it also puts her in the direct path of making a hard choice. She has to confront her aspirations for personal and professional success versus the devotion and responsibility she feels for her family. Making this tough choice soon becomes the running commentary on the life and times of a contemporary woman in today’s world.

The book is divided into three parts, each reflecting the lead character’s point of reference to the overall narrative. Making Wishes touches upon a dilemma that almost every woman goes through at one point or the other in her life. Women are always expected to give up their career, promising or not in lieu of starting a family, which is something the society considers to be an all woman field of expertise and responsibility. Marilyn captures the struggle of Elloree beautifully, when she has to decide if she is going to put herself first or her family. You have got to love the way the author takes time to introduce to you all the characters and their environment. And enough space is allotted on the character development of all the major players, especially Elloree who sometimes comes across as a very complex character but we also get to see her personal growth throughout the book. Marilyn Holdsworth’s writing vividly describes the mental space her lead character Elloree goes through in living her monotonous high society life and the various tragedies that she has to undergo as a direct consequence of her choices.

It is beautifully written and the author has managed to keep the pacing both dramatic and sensitive at the same time. Marilyn sometimes goes into a back story for a character or an event in the midst of the narration but fortunately the narrative moves back and forth like a well oiled machine without any jarring interference to the reader’s interest. And it’s always a good feeling when the characters don’t leave your mind even after the last pages have been turned. Marilyn’s ability to transform mundane domestic life to exhilarating passionate episodes with emotions of varying kind and a very soft and a warm ending makes ‘Making Wishes’, to use a beaten to death cliché, ‘unputdownable’ (sic) read.

Product Details
  • File Size: 419 KB
  • Print Length: 243 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (March 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C8OZE0W
Buy From -http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C8OZE0W/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb
An Eye Opener – A review of the book ‘The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran’

“If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject” – Ayn Rand

People who dream to see a better future, not just for themselves, but for everyone in their community work tirelessly to do the right thing in life. Changing the world always starts with a small and a simple act, usually done on a daily basis. The step by step process involves changing our habits, beliefs, and roles we have within our society, and by also becoming conscious of the consequences of our everyday action. This must also lead to understanding emotions better, not just of our own but also of the people around us. Passionate people with big hearts and an even bigger vision for the little home we all call planet earth often undertake such personal journeys that change the course of the fate of all mankind.

Dr Sigrid Fry-Revere’s nonfiction book ‘The Kidney Sellers: A Journey of Discovery in Iran’ is a systematic study of people and culture told within the backdrop of the kidney donor shortage in the U.S to a seemingly trouble free Iran in the same regard. Set in the format of a quasi adventure story and part documentary style, this research rich book primarily focuses on Iran and the Iranian medical culture that seems to have overcome the problem of kidney shortage for transplants through compensated organ donation. The Kidney Sellers is an exploration into the underbelly of it all, where the author looks at the ethics of compensating for organ donation; from exploitation to the numerous number of lives it has managed to save. Sigrid Fry-Revere tries to find answer to the question why patients are dying in U.S for a lack of kidneys while there is actually a waiting list of people willing to donate in Iran.

This scholarly work began as a quest to find solutions to the U.S. organ shortage,
as there are over 100,000 Americans who need organ transplants at any given time. When Dr. Sigrid learns that Iran is supposed to have a waiting list of donors, she flies out there to research the ethics and even functionality of compensated kidney transplants. She finds out that there are some strict guidelines laid out when it comes to organ transplant in Iran plus a combination of recipient monetary donation and government help which ensures that the donor gets the best medical treatment post surgery. All this has contributed to Iran solving the kidney shortage problem to almost a full extent. Comparatively in America the congressional law preventing compensated kidney transfers and a preference to cadaver organ donation to live donation has all contributed to a pitiable condition for the patients who suffer waiting for the kidney, as the demand keeps outrunning the supply of cadaver kidneys. It has also given way to a parallel black market for kidneys, but this has often ended up exploiting the patients than helping them. Sigrid through her work wants to tell people that a good idea is a good idea no matter where it originated from and sometimes overcoming hasty emotional responses or predisposed judgement calls is necessary to see the bigger and possibly the brighter picture.

Early on in an understated but pivotal moment in the book the author describes meeting Steve, a friend of a friend currently on dialysis and also on the waiting list for kidney transplant. Description of the author’s meeting with Steve presents itself as the perfect start to the rest of the book. It grabs hold of you by the cuff of your collar and shocks you into attention with the absolute reality of the human element in the entire issue. Sigrid Fry-Revere comes across as very worldly wise, perhaps due to all the travel to different parts of the world and being introduced to different cultures as a child and also perhaps because of the early start to discussions on ethics with her parents, all of which seem to have helped her prepare better and undertake this journey which has been nothing short of an epic one in its preparation, build up and execution.

It’s not often you pick up a book that doesn’t have a detective, a vampire or pretty young things as its ‘heroes’ and yet compels you to read it cover to cover in one sitting. There are a large number of human interest stories that reveal themselves in light of the interviews that Sigrid conducts, which are both staggering and heart warming at the same time. Sigrid’s Iranian adventure has this very subtle undercurrent of humour element to it, especially in the beginning when she’s acclimatizing to the foreign environment, which is very original and helps in establishing this instant connection to the author’s pursuits.

A couple of subtle gems that you will in this book are the chapter numbers which are also shown in Farsi numerals and the use of image of a lotus flower as a typographic symbol for section breaks all somehow lead more authenticity and helps establish the mood, since most of the book does deal with Iran. It would be tough for anyone with a mature and functioning conscience reading the book not to feel the gravity of the situation and feel this compelling urge to do something, a positive step in the right direction, to contribute to solving this crisis.

Highly recommended.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Carolina Academic Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611635128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611635126

Buy From - http://www.amazon.com/The-Kidney-Sellers-Journey-Discovery/dp/1611635128
True Reflections – A review of the book ‘The Space Within’

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy” - Friedrich Nietzsche

The only truth is now; the only moment to be is in the present, for that’s when life happens. But more often than not we let the present and in effect life slip away, allowing time and memories of yore to rush into our lives unrestrained, squandering away the precious seconds of our lives as we alternate between worrying about our future and ruminating about the past. This is mostly because we don’t undertake our thoughts actively or in complete awareness, rather we let our thoughts control us. But we need to be in control of our thoughts, live in the moment and thus become more mindful. Because when you become mindful, you will realize that you are not your thoughts, you simply become an observer of your thoughts without judging them.

Now while everyone is in agreement that it's important to live in the moment, not knowing how to is the problem everyone faces.

In author Hunter Kane Sparrow’s book, ‘The Space Within’, the author tries to help you reveal what is already within you. Because when you connect with your inner being it urges you to create a keener awareness towards every aspect of your life. There is a lot of unconscious thought and behaviour pattern we all have become slaves to, which have often caused pain and suffering to us by unnecessarily tying us down to our pasts or make us worry about our future, all the while ignoring our present; which truly is a gift. The Space Within encourages you to awaken yourselves to this great power inside you, to rediscover our strengths and observe the power of everyday moments while you are fully and truly conscious through every second of it.

The author covers a wide array of topics including notes on life, love, God, fear of future among others such as how the young always stress upon a point in the future, an image of themselves they like to see and the old always stresses upon the past, an image of themselves at which they think they were at their most desirable state. Hunter says that men have a false identity to a faith or a belief system in the hope that this will take care of their future. Instead he advices us to be more child like, to find wonder and excitement in newer experiences. The Space Within also points to stop trying to improve life through external and material elements, because such efforts by men to bring more happiness into his life in fact seem to do the opposite and brings more unhappiness. A running theme in the book is that you should never get caught up within the confines of your description made by others; you always have time, open your eyes and embrace the present moment and stop putting too much emphasis on the future.

The Space Within has a good balance of western and eastern thought process and philosophy in its writing. Short and concise chapters without over reaching or under telling, the narrative flows smoothly, hitting all the right notes of the profound and deeply insightful messages that are being shared. Hunter Kane Sparrow has a honest and non assuming tone, he doesn’t claim this book to contain all the ‘answers’, all solutions to your problems or that it will help you find your real self. It’s intended to be used more as a mirror that will help reflect the finer point within, the qualities you may have missed all along.

I suggest you not to read this book cover to cover in one sitting. Instead keep it by your bed stand and read a page or two before going to bed or better yet, read it early in the morning as your day starts. It will help make your mind uncluttered and guarantee a good day. It is recommended for people of all ages, the young and the old who are still trying to figure ‘it’ all out. Sometimes philosophy is esoteric, but this book succeeds in explaining it with lots of examples, allegorical stories and proverbs. The Space Within is a non-intimidating book, yet highly informative that encourages critical thinking based on thoughts and ideas from the best in the world.

I cannot recommend this book enough.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (September 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492348740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492348740

Buy From - http://www.amazon.com/dp/1492348740/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
Secret Wars – A review of the novel ‘The Rabbit's Man’

“There is no redemption from hell” - Pope Paul III

Author Damien Dsoul’s novel, ‘The Rabbit’s Man’, is a fictional tale of espionage and one man’s tale for redemption set in Nigeria. A literal explosive start dives the reader straight into the heat of the action where violence perpetrated by militants are common place, especially ones belonging to the United Niger Delta Brigade. We are soon introduced to the hero, Mr. Kingsley Azobi who is introduced as a honest and hard working businessman barely managing to keep afloat his sunk in debts real estate firm. He lives with his beautiful lawyer wife, Hillary and his two kids in a quiet neighbourhood at Oaks Estate. But he has a shady past that his family is unaware of and which he himself refuses to acknowledge anymore but is forced to when a British spy with a serious James Bond hangover, Lionel Parrish arrives in Kingsley’s life and threatens to make public his past if he refuses to take up a dangerous and covet mission for him.

Kingsley used to be a gun runner for the dreaded militant group and his former gang members and his associations with them refuse to become a thing of the past. And at the unkindest time, a bomb explosion in his office also brings into his already troubled life a detective, whose investigation into the explosion unearths and causes more explosions. Detective Toji Oguavor is that sort of an existentialist cop who alternates between relying on pure intuition and method to find results and for whom violence can never become common place in spite of coming face to face with it frequently. The rest of the book shows how Kingsley Azobi’s life spirals out of control amongst the web of lies, deceits and betrayals that threaten to destroy him and his family forever and the insurmountable offenses he must mount to reclaim peace back in his life.

The reader will be immediately drawn into the story, which has this aura of mystery that you will encounter in the first few pages and will keep you engaged throughout till the very end. The juxtapositions of brilliantly described and detailed action scenes, especially the opening action sequence are some of the main highlights worth mentioning. The violence and action that you encounter in the beginning entices and lures your mind into drawing this conclusion of an idea of what this novel will be like based on your past experiences with similar genres of books. But Damien Dsoul’s amazing ability to surprise will keep the reader’s attention hooked throughout by introducing characters and scenes that are both well written and spaced brilliantly in the narrative. You will soon realize that it is quite difficult to put down the book for long, before you start feeling this urge to pick it up again and find out what’s going to happen next.

The country of Nigeria, you will realize early on is one of the main characters in this novel. The Rabbit’s Man showcases the strong and traditional belief systems of the people in the country in spite of the numerous changes and developments brought about by unbridled globalization process.
A lot of detailing seems to have gone in its research; for the author has a keen eye that describes the rural and urban landscape of Nigeria like never before. And all major characters, be it that of Kingsley or Toji or Lionel are well drawn and developed.

Sometimes when you read a mystery thriller, your mind often runs ahead and starts predicting the outcomes but in The Rabbit’s Man you will only be tripping over yourself if you do that and instead you should just go along with the flow of this fast paced book. Damien Dsoul’s novel is a well-written and engaging book that provides an exciting, tumultuous, and provocative look into the turmoil and chaos of Nigerian society.I thoroughly enjoyed my read of The Rabbit’s Manand would recommend it to any reader interested in fast paced thrillers that also offer a slice of African history and culture.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 27, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 149284117X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492841173

Buy From - http://www.amazon.com/dp/149284117X/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
Everyone Needs Some Love – A review of the book ‘Griffin the Dragon and How to Tame a Bully’

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw

Meet Griffin, a warm and delightful little dragon who goes to school with his best friends Cattails, an 8 year old boy, Jackson, a black striped hyena and Alexandra, a feisty ten year old girl. Griffin loves going on adventures and also playing with his best friends. Author Ken Mask and Illustrator Simmie Williams invite you to explore the world of these friends where they not only play fun games but also learn valuable life lessons. A quick peek into this world will tell you quite a bit about each of the main characters; Griffin the dragon is the quiet one, the mature for his age, cautious one; Cattails is a happy 8 year old boy who displays typical middle child syndrome by alternating between his two best friends; Jackson is a black striped hyena who is the chief trouble maker in charge and also the joker of the pack, and rounding up this small group is Alexandra, a 10 year old girl, who is as famous for her loyalty as she is for her feistiness. This book comes alive with its vibrant colors and easy to read format; it is a wonderful little present for all kids that not only promotes reading but also teaches important life lessons, all the while encouraging kids to learn another language (Spanish) as well.

Ken Mask's latest offering is a wordy picture book geared towards young kids and covers the important issue of bullying faced by kids in school. You would think when you have a dragon and a hyena as friends; life in school would be pretty cool but no! Even then it seems that there are certain social and cultural elements of growing up that can’t be dispensed away with completely. There are a lot of important and relevant issues that are raised within this book. Such as, is it okay to bully or tease people? Why do some people bully? And how do we deal with bullies? Rest assured, these are some serious discussion worthy questions that are being raised in the book, it has been highlighted here that it is not okay to fight with other people, even if you are provoked to do so and that you should in fact try and befriend your bully. But it has also been suggested that sometimes in life, it will come to a point where you will have to stop the bully from getting the best of you, when you have to stand your ground and face the obstacle head on.

This is a lovely book, for the author's authentic and unique style shines through, especially in the conversations and dialogues between the lead characters. Ken Mask tries to tell the world through this book that what we have in our lives is not as important as to what we do with it. Each one of us is born different but we all have our unique and special strengths and how we utilize it makes us who we are truly meant to be. You will also feel this instant connection with all the lead characters; you will come to recognize many children that you know in them. It is also bound to take you back into your own childhood and possibly a similar situation that you yourself may have faced in your life.

Griffin the Dragon and How to Tame a Bully is brilliantly illustrated; the level of detailing is pretty amazing for a children’s book. The 3D effects and the play between light and shadow have been perfected to aid the story telling to the hilt. The colors used too are praiseworthy and all kids are sure to respond to it positively. Simmie’s drawing has a trademark style; and the compositions capture all emotions superbly. Even though Griffin the Dragon and How to Tame a Bully is a children's book, it is one of the most incredible and heart warming books I have read in a long while. It is a must read for every child and parent, hopefully together to enhance the experience further. Ken’s writing and Simmie’s pictures blend so perfectly together, to make this a must buy book for everyone with small children.

When Cattails, Jackson and Alexandra visit Griffin at the end of his 3 weeks of being grounded period, they have a surprise, a big surprise waiting for them at his house. To find out what it is, you’ve to go buy the book!
All’s well that ends well – A review of the novel ‘Ruby Silver’

“Heroes need monsters to establish their heroic credentials. You need something scary to overcome” - Margaret Atwood

In author Randall Reneau’s book ‘Ruby Silver’ which is the third book in the Trace Brandon series, we are introduced to the characters of Trace Brandon and his partners Will Coffee and Cyrus McSweeny who are in the midst of setting up a mining company business in the Old Ruby Mining District. But even before their business plan is able to take off, they land themselves in trouble by entering into an altercation with a giant of a man, who goes by the name, Autry Ollinger. Ollinger is someone we soon come to identify as one of the ‘villains’ of the story. That’s because Trace Brandon and company soon find more trouble as it comes looking for them in the form of a crime family syndicate run by Peter Pantelli who has a very ingenious way to try and take control of their company. Having to alternate between the devil and the deep sea to keep his business and their lives out of trouble, Brandon seeks help of a former associate Marion Thistlewaite to help them clear away the mess and get their lives back on track.

Ruby Silver has just received honourable mention at the Hollywood Book Festival and it is no surprise why. There are a lot of positives one will encounter in the book, one inevitable mention is the way Randall Reneau, has used his vast experience and background to the hilt by marrying fiction with real information and facts about a science subject. That he manages to hold the reader’s attention riveted throughout even while discussing a field like geology is no mean feat. A lot of attention to detail has been heaped upon while discussing both intricate parts of the story and also secondary sub plots as well.

Reneau has created a real winner of an archetypal hero in Trace Brandon, he is charismatic and has tremendous appeal and easily manages to become the centre of attention anytime he appears in the book’s pages. That being said, all the secondary players too are well developed and have been given enough space in the book for you to explore their personalities better.

Ruby Silver is a pacy thriller that at times offers glimpses of an old western with the good and bad squaring off to settle their duels. Although I have been introduced to Trace Brandon only in the third instalment, I look forward to reading the previous two books in the series and any further ones Randall Reneau may have planned with Trace Brandon in the lead. His next work due for release is South of Good and the blurb on that one has already raised my level of expectation.
Comfort Read – A review of the novel ‘The House Guest: Pathway to Persuasion’

“Nostalgia is a seductive liar” – George Ball

Perhaps out of all art forms, only storytelling manages a direct connection to our psyche, lighting up our imaginations and bonding with the collective consciousness of all the characters we read about; and by sharing their trials and triumphs, as we would with each other.

In author Deborah L. Norris’s novel, ‘The House Guest: Pathway to Persuasion’ she narrates the story of a woman, Maggie Anderson Davis, a middle aged widow who lives with her daughter Jenna in an old Victorian style mansion. The many regulars and newcomers who frequent this home bring with them tales of their own, to narrate, to share, and to find absolution. But we soon find out that most of these tales are triggered by Maggie’s memory and we strive to understand her better, to see what she has seen and felt. Deborah's writing reflects all the joys of good old fashioned storytelling, of making up fantasy, of creating this illusion of seeing ourselves in each of the characters. The House Guest is a novel with multiple layers of wonderful stories combined together to create one amazing novel.

At the beginning of each chapter, the weather changes have been described in detail, almost as a precursor to what we can expect from the rest of the chapter. A string of company keeps dropping by at the old manor house, each bringing with them a personal anecdote or a shared collection of history with Maggie. It’s tough to explain or extrapolate to someone who hasn’t read the book what the The House Guest is all about, because Deborah has very cleverly incorporated a dream like element to her story telling and just like dreams, to appreciate it better or to see the beauty in them, one has to experience the dream for themselves and to appreciate The House Guest better, one has to experience it for themselves and shouldn’t really depend on someone else’s description of it. This novel sometimes reminds you of a late afternoon soap opera with its warm and interesting central character holding fort and a host of satellite and recurring characters who come together to provide a thoroughly emotional experience.

The House Guest tells a beautiful story in a normal sort of a way. Love is woven around everyday affairs you do around the house. There is an innate simplicity to the way the entire book is narrated, from its setting, the interaction amongst the characters to even the author’s prose, a uniquely simplified and yet classical quality to it. Deborah L. Norris has a pleasing voice that gently guides the reader throughout the various troughs and crests one gets to experience in Maggie’s life. After reading a lot of novels where the plot and action moved at break neck speed, it was nice to be able to sink in to The House Guest’s casual but pulsating pacing, showcasing the wonderfulness of everyday casual life that only a deeper introspection can reveal. She has a courageous voice that easily juggles fun and seriousness brilliantly. The conversation pieces between Lee and Anna provide more than enough proof to this effect. Deborah’s narration has this fly on the wall way of describing events, which effortlessly transports you to the world within the pages.

The House Guest is one of those books you are going to store away in your personal library and reread as and when you feel the urge to spend some quality personal reading time. The beautiful and shocking end will make you go through the book several times trying to rediscover the many subtle but obvious clues strewn throughout which all adds up once you’ve gotten to the climax. And as soon as the last page comes to a close you are going to start missing the screen door shutting at the back porch of Maggie’s home and the kitchen door swinging open, which opened up a world to you that had to be experienced firsthand to be believed.
Distant Echoes – A review of the novel ‘Honor and Polygamy’

“Fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resist” - Plutarch

Author Omar Farhad’s novel, ‘Honor and Polygamy’ narrates the story of Nicholas Blake, a diplomatic officer working with the United Nations in New York City. Having just returned from an overseas tour for U.N, Nick is looking forward to a peaceful domestic life with his wife, Lisa and his two children, Ashley and Fargo when fate deals him the first of many wild cards. He is asked to report back to Afghanistan on a six month mission; landing there and even before he gets to officially feel homesick, fate arrives in his life once again in the form of lean & bearded Taliban men who kidnap him and imprison him in a village on the hills. Months go by quickly before Nick escapes from their clutches, albeit only partially, as he now finds that his only chance at redemption lies in the hands of the villagers. In a bizarre life and death situation, Nick is forced to take a second wife, to try and to survive and hopefully get back to his real family in America. But as fate would have it, Nick can’t help falling in love with his new bride, Shaista and thus begins the struggle to make sense of the world around him while trying to overcome the guilt and confusion in having to choose between his two families.

Honor and Polygamy is a fascinating look at Afghanistan that goes over and beyond what a mere travelogue, a history lesson or even an adventure thriller set in the mountains does. On the face of it, it is an adventure story involving a character called Nick but a deeper introspection will reveal that the author has painfully strived to tell something more through this book, to enlighten and shed more light on the rich and sometimes perplexing culture of a country. Afghans and people who have visited or served in Afghanistan are sure to applaud the level of accuracy and deep insights Omar provides into the country’s social, political and cultural environment.

The opening chapters in ‘Honor and Polygamy’ brilliantly capture the feelings of the lead character Nick as he prepares himself for the arduous journey ahead. Omar has captured Nick’s sense of awe, fear, confusion, guilt and determination very well as he discovers himself on this journey. A love story that springs out of nowhere reiterates the fact that you can never predict the wild aces life will throw at you. The portrayal of desperation and agony Nick has to undergo not once but twice, once trying to get back home and then trying to return back to where he started from is very realistically done. The kind of extraordinary undertakings he goes through is testament to the fact that a man will do just about anything and go to any lengths when his mind is clear about the decision made.

At times ‘Honor and Polygamy’reads like a memoir, partly because of the likeness to a first person narrative and partly also due to the amount of detailed emotions the author has been able to convey through the lead character’s journey; it is a rarity that you don’t usually get to see in other books of similar genesis. Omar Farhad very skilfully pulls you into this claustrophobic situation early on and from then, every step of the journey; the reader becomes a willing accomplice or a witness to Nick’s emotional and physical travails.There is a good mix of political and historical insight into the past, the present and the possible future for Afghanistan that has been presented alongside the core story. And it is something that should bring a little more awareness in people’s minds about a region that they have been hearing about for a long time but don’t really know much about due to the kind of limited and biased reporting we see today from the major news networks.

Omar Farhad takes you on a journey through ‘Honor and Polygamy’ that is bound to leave you with more knowledge and understanding than before. And everything in the book from the terrain to the people are going to leave a lasting impression in your mind. It's one of those rare books that’s difficult to put down once you start reading it.

Product Details

Paperback: 132 pages

Publisher: iUniverse (May 8, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1491732954

ISBN-13: 978-1491732953
Stranger than Fiction – A review of the novel ‘The Friday Edition’

“To live alone is the fate of all great souls” - Arthur Schopenhauer

In author Betta Ferrendelli’s novel ‘The Friday Edition’the lead character of Samantha Church is introduced as a reporter working in a weekly community newspaper. She is shown as a miserable and yet sympathetic soul with a drinking problem that has resulted in a divorce, custody loss of her only child and also loss of a better reporting job. Her life takes a complete 360˚ the day she comes to learn about her sister and assistant DA, Robin’s death. Although the authorities are quick to dismiss the death as a clear case of suicide, Samantha is not convinced and takes it upon herself to prove them all wrong. She discovers some highly incriminating evidence that not only points to her sister’s murder but also unsheathes a notorious and vicious drug cartel business that doesn’t mind knocking off as many people as it requires to maintain the status quo of their business. Trying to find out what happened to Robin inadvertently helps Samantha keep her dependence on alcohol under check and try to lead a more well balanced and grounded life.With time running out, Samantha must not only face her inner demons but also the evil lurking at every corner, to take control of her own and her daughter April’s life.

The story seamlessly moves back and forward, revealing the fallout of the murder and also the events leading up to it. The author’s description and portrayal of Samantha as a person suffering from alcohol addiction and the way she copes with it has been brilliantly written and is also very realistically done. She quickly establishes the lead character of Samantha, who in spite of being shown as leading a miserable and sort of lonely life, you still can’t help but empathize and connect with her.

This whodunit mystery by Betta Ferrendelli has this ready to be made into a motion picture like feel to it. The dialogues are both crisp and to the point and yet doesn’t lack in its necessary emotional quotient. The chapters too are short and precise that delivers what it is meant to without dilly dallying on unnecessary banalities. It is well researched too, the details about the newspaper functioning, drug deals/distribution system, etc, are case in point.

The Friday Edition has a well narrated plot with characters you will love and some you will love to hate. There is a gradual build up of suspense which often alters the perception you would be building up in your mind about what is going to happen next. There's plenty of action, which isn’t all loud and in your face variety but more of the silent danger waiting to strike at any moment’s notice kind. There are no long winded self indulgent prose by the author, the writing is precise and snappy and always to the point.

Betta Ferrendelli has an intelligent and powerful voice that is in complete control and mastery of her craft. Her writing really brings the characters to life and you feel like you are in the story with them, which also takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from sadness and heartache to shock and awe. There is a shocking twist in the end that you won’t see coming and a very mature and understated ending which screams for a sequel. You will definitely recommend this book to your friends and family.
Divine Afterglow – A review of the book ‘Sufi Light: The Secret of Meditation’

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays” - Soren Kierkegaard

In this very busy world of ours the only thing we seem to be doing with any sort of consistency is constantly run around, our minds filled with distractions and a whole lot of stress. And while this was once limited to only adults, it now seems to have spread to our children as well; distractions and stress hindering our ability to focus and achieve our goals. This situation has manifested to such a level that people now claim that even their prayers don’t work anymore or that they are not able to pray like before, perhaps as they once did in their childhood, before the advent of all the busy distractions. So when such a claim arises it is worthwhile to study if it is the prayer that is to be blamed or the way we are praying that should take blame. Praying is nothing but connecting with God, the supreme one and if you try to communicate without your heart and soul in it, you would be just going through the motions and not really taking full benefit of the power of worship.

And how can we attain that level of concentration and participation in our prayers?

Well, author and Doctor Ahmad Javid say in his book, ‘Sufi Light’, that meditation is the key. And he stresses that the meditation introduced by invoking the mystic Sufi element in Islam religion seems to be the way forward. Because when we lead a life without meditating, we are just passing through time and space without contemplating about anything of consequence. And like a lot of other world religions, Islam too values the important role that meditation plays in one’s life. The book explains that meditation, or rather meditating on the personal name of God, Allah can be done in many ways. It can be as simple as visualizing Allah’s name and reciting it out aloud and through conscious and controlled breathing. Sufism extrapolates further that there has always been a divine and close relationship between God and his creation and therefore encourages the creation to shed its human trappings to become whole once again with his creator.

Dr. Ahmad Javid encourages us to identify and recognize that only Allah is worthy of our praise and worship. And it is his truths and thoughts that should guide us on our life path. There have been many prophets and saints who have further addressed and propagated his words but for you to take full advantage of it, you must meditate. Meditating through concentration, contemplation, reflection and observation of your mind will lead to an increased awareness of your body and mind which will eventually lead to real spiritual development and obtaining maximum benefits from your prayers.

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather whose book ‘Irfan’ was a ground breaking revelation on Sufism; Dr. Ahmad Javid has crafted this book in a very unique manner. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that this book doesn’t read like a drab version of one of those ‘How to Improve your life’ self-help books. In fact he made a clear case for simplicity and helpfulness by taking on a esoteric subject like Sufism and has tried to broaden its appeal and shed its very definite tag of exclusivity and thereby inculcate more people into its midst.

By narrating so many personal stories Dr Ahmad Javid has successfully managed to envelop the reader with an aura of faith, magical mysticism and belief that sets up the platform for narrating the message on Sufism and meditation through it. He truly seems to have had an enlightened childhood which apart from the great lineage can also be assessed through the many real life incidents and anecdotes that he has so graciously shared with the public. We are also introduced to Hazrat Sultan Bahu, the poet and saint and his many poems and thoughts. He has given a detailed explanation bordering on a biography in a standalone book dedicated to him in, ‘The Spirit of Sultan’.

The verses from Quran seem to have been selected after much afterthought and are appropriate to the occasion. Sufi Light is an informative book on Islam and its tenets that also provide much disclosure on Sufism and meditation; it is a must buy for everyone who prays.
First Contact – A review of the book ‘Look Up’

“All things must change to something new, to something strange” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When you look up in the night sky and stare at them stars, do you not wonder and ask yourselves the question man has been asking since time immemorial. Is there anyone else out there? Are we the only beings in this vast expanse of universe? Now if you are not one of those who believe in the two thousand year old history of earth then you must be aware of the scientific fact that our Earth is only a tiny speck of dust in the 200 billion stars strong Milky Way galaxy which itself is just one amongst the 170+ billion galaxies floating around in this ever expanding universe.

Still think we are all alone?

In author Devara ThunderBeat’s nonfiction book, ‘Look Up: My Encounters with ETs & Angels’ she shares with everyone her lifelong experiences dealing with extra terrestrials and her unique extra sensory powers or gifts. From a first contact with an extra terrestrial when she was only 4 years old, Devara’s life has seen them make a comeback many a time but not in the Hollywood ish grotesque, hostile, world domination manner but rather a series of spiritual and enlightening experiences. Various energy fields surrounds us, each wave emitting a unique and different rhythm and perhaps it was only natural that Devara took to drums and became an accomplished player in her childhood itself considering the alternate beats of life that she would go on to crack in the future. This book provides the reader a never before seen insight into the many alternate realms of our life and takes you on a adventure along with Devara as reveals the reason behind her adopted Native American surname, her work with Reiki and Chakra healing, her trips to Egypt and Mayan country both of which result in creation of highly successful and popular compact discs that have helped many people the world over. It also talks about what the future holds in store for our planet earth, ergo for each of us in the long run.

Right off the bat, when you are dealing with a subject like extra terrestrials and angels, the discerning audience automatically gets segregated into two distinct groups - those who believe and those who don’t. Those who believe won’t need yet another media representation to cement their beliefs and will easily lap up everything offered in this book. It is to the non believers that I want to suggest to give this book a try; not to change you, not to magically transform your allegiance over to the other side but read it to enable your senses to accept newer sights and sounds and knowledge, to perhaps try and understand the miniscule status of our existence in the grander scheme of things. And thus perhaps liberate yourselves from the shackles of yesteryear education and upbringing.

Look Up: My Encounters with ETs & Angels is the perfect blend of psychology and spirituality. It is written in a straightforward and honest manner and is an easy read. There are a lot of photographs and illustrations in the book, which are not only awe inspiring and pleasing to the eye but they also add credibility to the accompanying text. A definite highlight is the Egyptian leg of the adventure which is both informative and oddly fascinating at the same time.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone. Devara has the courage to talk about things we aren't talking but should be. She has the intelligence and acumen to question some long-held beliefs that need to be revaluated and repositioned in the ever changing context of scientific discoveries. The way Devara states some simple truths and obvious facts which we may not necessarily have taken notice of ourselves manage to catch you off guard and yet it brings a smile to your lips. The author rightfully encourages everyone to be more open minded, listen to your own heart and to have the courage to ask all the right questions. Remember the book for the rare ray of hope and joyful vision of future it provides in these depressing times.

Wondering why such events have never occurred in your life? Why you haven’t seen them first hand? Maybe now is the time to finally Look Up!
Secret Memories – A review of the novel ‘The Finnish Girl’

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware” - Martin Buber

Melancholy is often a misinterpreted word in fiction. It isn’t always a glorification of unhappiness or sadness, sometimes melancholy may be our only aid as we deal with the polarities and complexities of our everyday existence.

Dennis Frahmann’s fictional book ‘The Finnish Girl’ is a carefully researched and crafted novel that offers a comparative study of different generations of a Finnish family living and surviving in America through its many landmark social and political upheavals. The Finnish Girl unwinds like a fairy tale, albeit a slightly dark, meant for adults kind where there are no external heroes and villains and only varied circumstances which brings forth the good and bad in men. After introducing a 14 year old boy Danny, who unearths his dead mother’s old and mysterious trunk which offers up old letters & photographs revealing a secret in their family history, this novel jumps back and forth between the past and the present years in Wisconsin, USA. A young woman, Lempi straddles her personal life as well as mourns the mysterious circumstances and conspiracies her family history throws at her across different generations. Secrets sometimes brings people closer and sometimes it drives them apart and every decision, small or big has its consequence, a cross that they must bear in this lifetime.

The Finnish Girl is the narration of a bittersweet and forgotten memory of a family and their loved ones. It's told through the eyes of Danny, as he finds out more about his family’s past and possible future in the wake of his mother’s sudden death due to suicide. It is a well-told story which could sometimes be mistaken for a historical fiction due to the juxtapositions of the lead character’s personal milestones with the many important American milestones of the 20th century. And while these moments may have been painful for a lot of people to live through, they were nonetheless an important part of the country’s history and it has been rightly acknowledged and captured in the course of the story telling.

Author Dennis Frahmann’s novel is an intense and emotions packed experience. It starts with a flourish and ends just as well and in between one gets to experience the author’s great skills as he masterfully juggles the emotional resonances and cogency of the narrative while never dropping pace of the story. The author has managed to successfully extract out of this book this sort of melancholic, radiant, poetic imagery with vivid descriptions that offers an introspective insight into relationships between members of a family. The non linear plot filled with melancholy, death, and family dynamics impacted by politics, forbidden love, and red scare is exquisitely structured. The Finnish family’s customs, values, joys and challenges too have been portrayed in vivid honesty and detail.

The cost of being different or just having lived through a strange period of time is perhaps what the characters leave you the most with, which also doesn’t shy away from celebrating the true and real feelings of love and its insecurities. The Finnish Girl is a moving, touching and beautifully written piece of literature. The narrative is so gripping and engaging that you will end up reading the entire book in one sitting. Even with the numerous storylines all weaving together, the mystery or the reason behind the character’s decisions keeps the reader wanting more till the very end. It is also a thought provoking character study told from multiple points of view. Highly recommended.
Love Revelations – A review of the book ‘Hunt 'N Bunny in Wonderland’

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see” - Mark Twain

Women say they have to kiss a lot of frogs before they find their prince. Men may have it slightly better in that they have to kiss a lot of ‘princesses’ before they find their queen of hearts.

The right man or woman brings more than just stability or companionship to your life. When you meet the right person all aspects of your life, fall right into a new and better order. A healthy and supportive relationship can provide a new sense of direction and purpose!

So what causes all the resentments and fights? Perhaps it’s just plain old misunderstanding, a lack of proper and meaningful communication. What men want from women can often be vastly different from what women think men want from them and vice versa. This breakdown in communication leads to feelings of resentment in men and hopelessness in women. When the sad reality is that, men and women want pretty much the same things from life; peace and harmony, fun, and a whole lot of love.

Hunt Henion’s latest book, ‘Hunt ‘N Bunny In Wonderland’ is a personal account of his adventures finding love, along with its many revelations, through his partner, Bunny. This inspiring tale encourages us to open our senses a bit more and be receptive to the radiant energy of love that is just waiting for us out there -- ready to enter our lives. Hunt shares his very personal revelations on love, romance and true intimacy with everyone through this book!

‘Hunt ‘N Bunny In Wonderland’ is in many ways one man’s ode to his love and how a single woman turned his whole life around. This theme is set and put into perspective in the Introduction by Harold W. Becker, author, President and Founder of non profit organisation ‘The Love Foundation. Mr. Becker sets up the book beautifully and raises the expectation level sky high.

It’s pretty obvious that the whole book is a play on Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, albeit a very clever one. “Hunt 'n Bunny” looms large over Lewis Carroll's classic with some original and wonderful artwork and personal photographs that all add a mixture of awe and honesty to Hunt’s words.

This is a fantastic book that I found both funny and insightful. Hunt’s sermon that focusing on love provides the best chance for creating peace and harmony in our lives really touches the right chord within me. It encourages the reader to open up and take care of their partner’s every need without worrying if it will be reciprocated in kind or in equal measure. Hunt descends into a different world when he finds love, then takes us with him as in the resulting steep ascendance of revelation, joy, and fulfilment.

‘Hunt ‘N Bunny In Wonderland’ is a breezy read that will have you glued to your seat with a smile on your face, especially if you have a special someone in your life. If not, you will feel the pang of having let that ‘one’ go, but you'll also be empowered to find someone even better. Hunt has kept his voice simple and approachable, without adding any unnecessary mumbo jumbo just to make it sound new age or sophisticated. He tells a sweet love story, and Hunt’s adolescent like giddy passion with which he describes Bunny and his love for her is both charming and infectious.

This is a disarmingly honest book, every page you turn will see you lose your scepticism and believe once again in the power of love -- of meeting someone who feels like an extension of yourself, the one right that can undo all the wrongs in your life! Whenever you are feeling down thinking about your relationship, reading this book is sure to give the necessary lift.

Hunt ‘N Bunny In Wonderland’ is a study of unconditional love filled with strength, courage, intimacy and honesty and is highly recommended to everyone.
Thy hilarious kingdom cometh – A review of the novel ‘Noddy In Wonderland’

“Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it” - Mason Cooley

Rules were made to be broken, especially when these rules were created by a few to control the majority. Human beings can’t survive on impulses alone in the long run; they need objective standards to set their life choices against. And objectivity requires principles and not some arbitrary rules. Principle means having a choice, a say, an understanding of reality to let thyself be governed by an explicit or implicit authority, directly or indirectly. And when principles fail, all hell breaks loose.

Author Paddy Bostock returns with a brand new novel ‘Noddy In Wonderland’ that extols you to stick it to the man while chuckling away till the very end. When a former soldier, Noddy returns to his hometown, Liverpool, he harbours a dream of becoming its king and no, he doesn’t suffer from PTSD. When he shoots a government minister in the bottom, he unwittingly divides the country into two groups, a group of fan boys and copycats who approve of him and the entire government machinery who threaten to go all out against him. How Noddy manages to turn this situation around and see his dream come true forms the rest of the story. And on this fantasy adventure he chugs along a large group of accomplices and friends including his brother Knobby, a beautiful gothic girlfriend Meryl and even an elf and a talking dog.

Paddy Bostock is that kind of an author whom you could drop in the middle of the ocean and he would still find something funny about every wave that threatens to drown him. Mixing satire and sarcasm to a full blown out fantasy novel is hard work as there’s always a chance that the comedy may not work as you intended especially when you are hood winking the reader by hiding behind a character and talking about some real socio political issues. But in ‘Noddy In Wonderland’ behind the obvious hilarity lies a profound understanding of human nature and an in depth contemplation of ineffable issues. The book is packed in such a manner that even though there are plenty of ‘messages’ there are also enough pop culture references and subtle humor and not so subtle one liners in every page that you can’t help but chuckle out aloud and also acknowledge the genius behind the fine writing.

Just like in his previous books Paddy’s latest one is also a complex novel with so many characters and so many things happening at the same time. But his multi dimensional characters are all brilliantly conceived and sympathetic, who bring their unique bit to the story telling. The story has several plots going on at once that are constantly interrupted by each other but they somehow all come together beautifully. The characters and the situations simply become the many small pieces to a beautiful puzzle at the end.

Noddy In Wonderland is a wild ludicrous ride with a narrative which probably wouldn’t make sense in any other setting and you would call it out too but under Paddy’s measured writing and almost maniacal genius you willingly go along with the ride and soon everything starts making sense when you realize that the author has wittingly and mockingly attacked the flaws in our system that we're all aware of, but choose to do nothing about.

There’s a lot that you can take away from this novel, like the author’s ability to interject this deadpan, sarcastic humor with the absurdity of our everyday life. He has flawlessly combined so many elements to form a book that has the best a fantasy, a mystery, a romance and a comedy novel has to offer. Editing of the book is top notch as the pace of the narrative is never allowed to slow down while presenting serious issues through characters and situations that are extremely funny.

This is the kind of book that you should consume slowly, preferably one page a day to soak in the beauty of the madness but here’s the big contradiction, once you start reading it you will realize how good it is and you will end up cursing yourself for not being able to wean away from it and you will get cursed at too for ignoring your ‘worldly’ functions as you sit glued to the happenings in Noddy In Wonderland.

Product Details

Print Length: 241 Pages

Publisher: Wings ePress

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English

Ghost Stories – A review of the novel ‘Buckaloo Ridge’

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left” - Bertrand Russell

F. A. Shepherd’s latest novel ‘Buckaloo Ridge’ can in many ways be described as a genre defying book. It’s hard to pigeonhole the plotline into a particular category as it has the best different genres have to offer. At some level it’s about an individual’s personal battle to avenge the killers of his young wife, it’s also a thriller involving the CIA and a drug trail that extends all the way to the White House, plus there’s plenty of commentary on politics and war and espionage.

Bobby Joe Pierson who is our ‘hero’ was a kid who always liked playing around with his little BB gun, participating in a lot of make believe fighting games around his family owned farm. But little did he know back then how much his adult life would mirror his favourite childhood games. He meets his love, Anna Mae McHorris in college and gets married to her. She encourages him to go back to school and he becomes a successful chemist. But his perfect life comes to a grinding halt the day his wife is killed in a vehicular accident by a District Attorney driving under the influence. When Bobby Joe sees that his wife won’t get the justice she deserves, he plots a revenge plan that sees him move in with Colin, his brother in law in a non-descript ranch in no man’s land from where he not only gets his revenge but also gets involved in some high flying case of shady politics and espionage resulting in an adventure thriller.

The author has subtly imparted the effects of war that has on the scores of young minds. From finding out that combat duty isn’t for everyone to showing off qualities like bravery and patriotism, war affects different people differently. But one thing that seems to affect everyone the same way is how they are able to live in the ‘real’ world afterwards, the scarring of war experiences leads people to find unique ways to cope with it, some more dangerous than others. He has also touched upon an important but often neglected area like the influence of drugs and narcotics in the army and the level of U.S government involvement in them, although it has been presented fully within the context of a fictional novel, this particular sub plot certainly makes it an extremely realistic and compelling read.

There is an extended prologue which even though doesn’t have anything to do directly with the rest of the story other than explain our lead character Bobby Joe Pierson’s actions better, really stands out for its presentation. The prologue really deserves a separate book of its own to do complete justice to the intrigue and mystery, the author manages to create in the first few pages. FA Shepherd also doesn’t believe in lingering on for too long with any scene and the rapid pace in the change of scenery is something that you will need to get used to but once you do, it will take you along for a nonstop wild ride.

Buckaloo Ridge is an adrenaline pumping whopper of a thriller which has all the action and drama of a Hollywood movie or a TV series. The early chapters play out like a sophisticated game of cat-and-mouse as Bobby Joe becomes obsessed with seeking vengeance for his wife’s murder. Although the main protagonists and the numerous sub characters are all deeply flawed and have their share of issues, they have all been well developed and have been given short back stories to further define their actions better. But none of this hinders the break neck pace of the main narrative which chugs along beautifully.

FA Shepherd 's creativity is put to good use in many places, one instance worth mentioning is how he cleverly creeps up on the reader when they least expect it, just when you think you have the story all figured out, Shepherd pulls the rug right from under your feet and shocks and surprises you. A lot of incidents and places that are mentioned in this novel are real and the author has taken only certain creative liberties to commercialize the fiction. As you turn each page, you won’t be able to stop yourself from reading more as each chapter will pull you more into this intriguing and mystery filled world within. Buckaloo Ridge is a clear winner!
A Kind Stranger – A review of the book ‘In the Frightened Heart of Me: Tennessee Williams's Last Year’

“Only an artist can interpret the meaning of life” – Novalis

An artist’s role is to take the thoughts and ideas born out of his creative mind and breathe life and expression into them. This role requires creativity in his ability to marry the non-conventional with the conventional to make something new. He is someone who can take a holistic view of an idea and interpret its true meaning to the whole world.

Author Tony Narducci’s book ‘In The Frightened Heart of Me: Tennessee Williams’s Last Year’ is a part memoir and largely a biography on Tennessee Williams’s last year. A providential meeting between Tennessee Williams and Tony Narducci takes place at a time when the famous playwright was on the decline of his career while Tony was struggling to choose between a creative and a business career. This book chronicles the last year in the life of Tennessee Williams with Tony Narducci and the many adventures they shared and the ones they couldn’t. Tennessee Williams whose real name was Tom wrote plays exploring human passion with an unflinching and iconoclastic candour, shattering conventional proprieties and transforming the American stage of his day. His works include the very famous, The Glass Menagerie, A streetcar named desire, Cat on a hot tin roof, Orpheus Descending, Sweet bird of youth, Night of the Iguana and the last staged play, A house not meant to stand. Tony Narducci's narrative reveals the compassion and love he had for Tennessee Williams while also extrapolating the oddity and emotional complexity of such a relationship.

It has always been an interesting study to look at an artist’s life after fame and celebrity hood has taken over. How often the deadly mix of consumerism, media, popular culture, glamour and the star system transforms someone from just another person into an object of desire. Tennessee Williams was defied by thousands by people, fan of both his work and the image he presented to the outside world. In fact his popularity places him securely as America’s most famous and revered playwright and author. Known metaphors won’t be enough for this man as he has outstripped them of its use and new ones need to be invented to praise the genius behind the craft.

Tony Narducci’s book can be easily summarised as about two men trying to find happiness in their own way. Tony has written this book in such a way that it compliments and interjects with Tennessee’s famous plays, and this is reflected right from the title headings to his almost melancholic and brutally honest prose. The book title itself a line from the poem in the play, Night of the Iguana. Even though the author got to witness only the last year of Tennessee’s life he has brilliantly portrayed the popular culture idol living his grand life, flirting his way through the good things life had to offer. When you read more about what Tony has to say about Tennessee, you get the feeling that the maverick playwright never received his share of real love he so often brilliantly captured through his writing by creating memorable characters play with variations of this same emotion. You also get the feeling that Tennessee’s lifelong craving for affection and companionship was perhaps a reflection on his poor childhood bolstered by lack of proper parental guidance or even their mere presence.

It sucks you (no pun intended) into this different culture, a world within where perhaps you think anything is possible and this is partly because we are discussing such a larger than life figure and partly because Tony’s languid writing makes it read like a tragic romantic play written by the great man himself. Reading this book is like watching a private home video that a close aide of Tennessee has made. Honesty is the word that keeps popping up while writing this review because Tony’s work really is honest, sometimes bordering on naivety and he has maintained this style while discussing Tennessee’s as well as his own life.

The Frightened Heart of Me actually gives the reader a definite feel of a novel like narrative, bordering on a play with its impromptu life moments, a near sensuous atmosphere, and almost the sense of a classical Greek tragedy that looms through all the pages till the very end; the exquisite use of language is just an added bonus to make this truly a unique reading experience.

In the end Tennessee Williams comes across as a man who always had a smile and a laugh tucked away on him; for the few genuine moments he felt happiness and the rest of the time as a defence against the populace who all wanted to consume his celebrity status.
Faith, Hope & Love – A review of the novel ‘Pride of Love’

“Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into” - Mahatma Gandhi

Growing up isn’t easy, beyond the quiet memories and stable lives most people aspire to have; life itself can be complex without having a tragedy to complicate it further. A lot of books toy with the idea of self importance while very few deal with creating self awareness.

Kevin Dwyer’s novel, ‘Pride of Love’ tells the story of a young boy Jesse who has to bear the brunt of a hate crime done by a couple of ignorant and sadistic bigots. Jesse and his mom are forced to leave town to escape the scrutiny of curious onlookers and for him to find some sort of a closure. Even though he won’t admit it, he’s looking for a voice that will understand him, soothe the scars on his mind and body. A change in scenery soon reveals that Jaden is the voice Jesse was looking for and he too is a misfit in society who also had to suffer unimaginable abuse at the hands of his father. Together now, they both try to forget their harrowed past, and the love they find in each other helps them discover themselves better.

It’s a novel about the normal everyday folks that you meet in small towns across the country, there are very few characters around but they are all finely etched out. The author deserves special mention for creating two 'real’ people as the main two leads with whom the reader will instantly bond with. Jesse and Jaden are two wonderful characters and their interactions with each other, their individual emotional scars and the healing process involved in getting past them are all well documented. Teenagers and young people growing up everywhere have a plethora of problems to address while growing up, fitting in or finding acceptance in the eyes of the society see them go through familiar problems of alcohol & drugs, sex & relationships, and in the midst of all this when they have to come to terms with their sexual orientation as well, it ends up making them feel like complete social outcasts. And this is where Kevin Dwyer’s brilliance comes in, by being able to talk about all this in a non condescending and non confrontational manner while narrating a highly addictive story is just good mastery over the craft. The love story between Jesse and Jaden is beautifully and simplistically done and this has been achieved without unnecessarily highlighting the fact that it’s a gay love story.

Kevin’s attention to detail is astounding; it’s almost like he wants you to see, hear, smell and feel the scenes along with him. Nothing escapes his eye and yet nothing unwarranted gets in the field of vision either. Equally praiseworthy is the fact that the author did not try to rush the romance between Jesse and Jaden, but allowed it to develop organically. The camaraderie amongst the other secondary characters is also beautifully written. There is a lot of powerful imagery that is brought to life by great writing. The best thing that can be said about Kevin’s writing is how he makes you forget the fact that you are reading a book; this is more so evident in the emotionally charged scenes which are of plenty in this novel. There is a nice little courtroom drama at the very end, which is the perfect parting gift this novel can offer to its readers.

Even with a theme that many people would consider as sad and slightly melancholic, the author has managed to come up with a uplifting book about young people finding hope, faith and love and through it all themselves in this wonderful little novel. I would recommend this book to a wide variety of people, it’s definitely a story to be read and reread many a time.
The Terror Within – A review of the novel ‘The Opree Legacy: The Promise’

“Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles” - Tahereh Mafi

The rise to power of one political or religious group of people who begin a systematic oppression of the society at large has always been and continues to be a bottomless pit for writers to spin wonderful life stories based around them. One might even be tempted to ask, why such a bleak and pessimistic outlook of the future? But when the stories coming out of them are all so entertaining, who’s really complaining?

Author L. Anna Lenz introduces such a dystopian world in the book, ‘The Opree Legacy: The Promise’ which has all the trappings of becoming yet another long and successful series. The book follows the lives of three important characters Nathanial, Cyrus and Lilly, all with a fractured past and a spirit that is never steady. Their beloved land, the New Empire City is always under the threat of an attack from a notorious and mythical enemy who go by the name, the Navat. But this fantasy land isn’t as simple as it looks from the outside; there are extreme class distinctions amongst its citizens and there are Gods who are both evil and sneaky. And as it often is with such large centres of power and control, the feared and imaginary threat from outside is pretty dismal when compared to the home grown one, and this is where our lead characters really come into their own as they struggle to find their place in a world that is rapidly changing around them.

What makes this book really good is that it’s not just a clash between the belief structures of the lead characters, but as the book progresses we get to see that it is also a commentary on the social, cultural and political state of affairs of the present world order, the issues in the ‘new world’ juxtaposes the ones in the ‘old world’ perfectly. Obviously as it is the first book in a series, a lot of time and effort has been put to lay the foundation of the world these characters exist in and establish the base for the character’s actions in the books to come. In the end, the author has shown the growing proximity between the characters of Nathanial and Cyrus, providing enough hints of what is to come in the next book.

The book is divided into different parts, each taking the story forward from the point of view of the principal characters. All the characters, whether it is of the young Nathanial or of the rising revolutionary Caleb, have been systematically developed and are presented as real persons and not just as a stereotype. Anna describes each personality in a way that's easy to relate to. The ease with which Anna writes violent scenes is bound to shock you and churn your blood but also leave the masters at this game with serious competition. That being said, her prose and dialogue writing describes the landscape and emotions of her characters vividly and we also get to visualize better, this foreign world that often resembles our own in its culture and ideology. This is a well written book that has also been edited beautifully, the mix and pace of action and politics, war and personal relationships have been handled brilliantly.

The Opree Legacy: The Promise is a great start and should provide the right amount of entertainment to all science fiction fans. Alternating between telling the story of many individuals as they take their personal journey through difficult times, it also raises many important questions of political and philosophical nature. And any book that makes you think is a clear winner in my eyes!
Stone Cold – A review of the novel ‘Revenge is Sweet’

“Revenge proves its own executioner” - John Ford

As much as everyone would like to distance themselves from this apparent ‘primitive’ notion, everyone enjoys a good revenge tale. Something about it is hard wired into our brains, a psychological impulse that says tit for tat is just and necessary under the right circumstances.

Author Betta Ferrendelli returns with the second book in the Samantha Church Mystery series, titled ‘Revenge is Sweet’. Starting off from where the last book ended, the characters of Samantha Church, her daughter April and her friend and co worker Wilson Cole Jr have to reap the consequences of her actions in the previous outing. After Sam successfully unearths a massive illegal drug operation and helps put the people behind it in bars in Friday Edition, this time around she has to deal with some sinister people who are out for revenge and indulge in kidnapping and torture to make their point. This thriller isn’t just about solving the mystery behind the kidnappings but also showing how the main protagonist deals with her inner demons through this extremely difficult and trying period.

In a space dominated by crime fighting solitary male wolves, Samantha Church is a welcome change and a refreshing distraction. After a slow start that sets up the scenario of the grave situation to the readers, the novel then goes into overdrive and you will find yourself turning the pages anxiously trying to find out what is going to happen to Sam and her daughter April. The pacing has always been one of the biggest strengths of this series and it continues in this book as well. Betta takes care to describe even snowflakes and the wattage of power bulbs as she does with the complex emotions of her characters and yet the pages fly by quickly.

There are a lot of key points that are worth mentioning here. The bad guys she has created for example, Betta’s Juan, the twins and Fuzz face are a bunch of nicely written villainous characters, the evilness especially of Juan is menacing and dark and the accompanying violence is necessary to mark them out as the bad people and make you further empathize with the characters of Sam, Wilson and April. The chemistry between David and Howard provides some airy refreshment when compared to the dark mood in the background, the way they come to Sam’s and Wilson’s rescue at the end is a nicely written pulse raising fight scene. Sam’s letter to April deserves a couple of rereads for its lyrical prose and heart tugging raw emotions portrayed in it.

Revenge is Sweet is a more emotional and intimate story when compared to the previous book. The story is easy to follow, well written, true to life, and spell binding. Even though the characters have many twists and turns in their emotional baggage, they are all well developed. One of the book's main strengths is that even the secondary characters are fully etched out, they are some interesting characters and you become deeply involved with what is happening to them as well. Also praiseworthy is the way she gets inside the head of each of her characters and creates a unique and distinct voice for them.

Next book in the series is Dead Wrong and if Betta Ferrendelli’s previous works are any indication then you can be dead sure that it too will be a winner!