Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review - Usha Narayanan's The Secret of God's Son



THE SECRET OF GOD'S SON
by
Usha Narayanan




Blurb

‘The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita. May the world perish! May the world perish!’

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga. 

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. To journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. In order to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back—his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts… He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery. And there is one powerful weapon still…the secret surrounding Pradyumna’s origin.  

Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? 

In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity! 


My Honest Review :

            God’s son; One might wonder who??

            Till date all have heard and read about the great Mahabharata war and its aftermath. But no one has written about what happened to Krishna and his clan after the war? What happened to Gandhari’s curse on mankind?

            People have read scriptures; novels and serials are made which depict till the end of war and on Pandavas but what happened to Krishna and his family and to his glorious city Dwaraka. Did Gandhari’s curse bring evil end to mankind?

            The Secret of God’s Son is a Sequel of Pradyumna Son of Krishna (which even though I have not read but I didn’t feel anything amiss). After the great war of Mahabharata, while all Pandavas and people of Hastinapur were trying to get back to normalcy, Krishna and his family were reeling under fear of Gandhari’s cruel curse. Krishna, the Dark Lord, the Saviour was cursed. Not only his life but the existence of whole mankind was in danger.

            In this time of crisis it was up to Krishna’s son Pradyumna to save his father, his guru, his mentor along with his family and entire mankind.

            But along with this quest he also had a task of unrevealing a secret. A secret of who he was, his true identity, the true reason of his existence on earth was yet to be revealed to him.

            This book is about the journey of Pradyumna to find the answers to all the questions along with the task of reversing the curse of Gandhari.

            This is the first book of Usha Narayanan which I have read and I must say I loved it. Once you start reading this novel you just can’t let it go. Its not just like any other mythology book which makes one lose interest or you can guess of what is gonna happen next. This book keeps the readers engrossed and hooked.

            After finish of each chapter you are like, what’s gonna happen next? What more secrets are gonna be disclosed?

            I was awed by the time I finished reading this book, as its first time I am reading about Krishna’s family and his sons. I had never hear of Pradyumna, Maya or Samba before.

            Mythology and suspense - two-in-one; this book is worth a read if you love both. Medium paced, full of action detailed description which actually makes a reader visualize a scene in their mind while reading it. I did, especially the fight scene with Kali.

            Some of the phrases which are worth mentioning

            “As long as there is life, there will be conflict. There will always be battles between the lion and bear, the eagle and snake, good and evil. Shiva and Vishnu have the power to destroy demons forever, but they choose not to. For they know that without demons, mankind will not need Gods either. Nor will they follow the righteous path.”

         Krishna said “I am the Self, seated in hearts of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings. Each of us is the son of God and we can be heroes too if we believe in ourselves. We too can lift Mount Govardhana with the power of our minds and win war that we face every day. This is the time to raise out voices… and our fists if need be. Remember that each of us has a chakra within us, waiting to be summoned.”


         The design of book cover is beautiful. The characters and their roles, their fears, their past, their present, their secrets well explained and presented. In all, a nice book, worth a read. 

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About the author


USHA NARAYANAN

Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a light-hearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, which was published in July 2015. 

When she’s not juggling travel, writing and interviews, Usha reads everything from thrillers to romances, provided her cat isn’t fast asleep on her Kindle. She would love to hear from her readers here: author@ushanarayanan.com 

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Media mentions


Praise for Pradyumna: Son of Krishna

Usha Narayanan has taken a quantum leap . . . to the outright spine-tingling narrative from the leaves of a time before. This book is Indian writing coming of age" Femina

"Like the best of our mythological tales, this too, is a multilayered one . . .There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception" The Hindu

"This engrossing tale takes readers on a mythological saga" Times of India


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Spotlight - Fighting for Tara by Sunanda J. Chatterjee


FIGHTING FOR TARA
by
Sunanda J. Chatterjee



Blurb
How far will a mother go to save her child?
“I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.
But Hansa, a thirteen-year-old child-bride in rural India, refuses to remain a victim of the oppressive society where a female child is an unwanted burden. Instead of drowning her baby, Hansa escapes from her village with three-month-old Tara.
Hansa soon discovers that life as a teenage mother is fraught with danger. But a single lie opens the door to a promising opportunity far from home.
Just seven years later, Hansa finds herself fighting for Tara’s life once more, this time in an American court, with a woman she calls ‘Mother.’
Will the lie upon which Hansa built her life, defeat its own purpose? How can she succeed when no one believes the truth? 
A story of two mothers, two daughters and a fight to save a child, Fighting for Tara explores the depth of love and motherhood.
Read an excerpt of #FFT here:


The soft light of the lantern flickered, casting a dim golden glow in the tiny hut, as shadows danced on its windowless mud walls. Thirteen-year-old Hansa squatted on the floor beside a metal bucket and stared at the glimmering water, dreading the task before her. Her baby whimpered on the floor, struggling in the hand-sewn cloth blanket. Beside the door stood the terracotta urn that held the ashes of her husband.
Hansa heard the grating snores of her drunken brother-in-law Baldev, soon to be her husband, as he slept outside on the wood-framed coir cot in the moonless night. She shuddered.
Just an hour ago, Baldev had yelled at her. “I have no use for a baby girl. Get rid of her tonight!” He towered over her as she cringed in fear.
She’d begged him. “I can’t do it!”
That’s when he’d slapped her. No one had ever hit her before… not even her elderly husband.
Hansa touched her cheek, which still stung from the humiliation and fear.
She doubted her courage to extinguish the baby’s life. Squeezing her eyes shut, she took a deep breath, hoping that dawn would bring her luck.
Tomorrow morning Hansa would travel with Baldev and all the goats they could load into his bullock-cart, and leave the village forever. She would go to a distant land, become Baldev’s second wife, learn the household chores from his first wife, and bear him male heirs… Hansa shivered, apprehensive about her future.
But before her new life could begin, she and Baldev would take a detour to the river to disperse her husband’s ashes and discard her beautiful daughter’s body.
Somewhere deep in her heart, Hansa knew none of this was fair. It wasn’t fair that in a country with a rich heritage of brave queens, young girls were still forced into marriage, sometimes to men older than their grandfathers. It wasn’t fair that she’d been born to poor parents in rural Rajasthan, a state rife with archaic traditions. It wasn’t fair that she had matured early and was given to sixty-year old Gyanchand Rathore from the neighboring village of Dharni, whose first wife and child had died in a fire.
She turned her face away from the bucket, her heart refusing to carry out Baldev’s orders just yet. A shiver ran through her body as she tried not to imagine life without her baby. Think of something else! Think about Gyani!
Gyani’s absence filled Hansa with a dark desolation, a sense of doom, as if his death itself was a living, breathing, overbearing entity.
She thought of his kind eyes, his missing teeth and graying beard, the massive orange turban which she’d tied for him every morning, and the long kurta he wore, which never looked clean no matter how many times she washed it…
But Gyani was gone. Two nights ago, his heart had stopped beating in his sleep, while she slept under the same blanket, her baby right beside her. When she awoke at dawn to the rooster’s call, she had found his cold still body. She shuddered to think she had slept with a corpse, oblivious, in the comfort of her own youthful warmth. Her first encounter with death. And if she did as Baldev asked, there would be another. Tonight.
Gyani’s death had stunned her, and grief hadn’t sunk in. She had not wept for his departed soul, and her neighbor warned her that if she didn’t mourn his passing, she would never move on. But did Hansa really want to move on into a future that included Baldev but excluded her baby?
According to the custom of karewa, Hansa knew that a young widow would be married off to her brother-in-law, so that the money remained in the family. Her neighbor had told her it was her kismet, her fate.
Hansa was brought up not to challenge the norms of society, but to follow them. If the combined wisdom of her ancestors had determined that she should move to Baldev’s village and begin a new life, who was she to argue? She had no family left, no other place to go.
Baldev choked on his spit and coughed outside, jarring the stillness of the night, reminding her of the task ahead.
But while it was her duty to follow Baldev’s orders, she would trade the impending task for eternal damnation.
Her neighbor had said that killing a baby was an unforgivable sin, even though she’d herself drowned two of her daughters the day they were born. Women are the form of Goddess, she’d said, crying at the fate of her own rotten soul.
But it was a matter of survival. Produce a male heir or be turned out on the streets to beg. A female child was a burden. Even Hansa knew that; her father had reminded her of that every day of her life.
That prejudice was her reality.
Hansa was terrified for her own soul, but Baldev said, “A mother can’t be a sinner if she takes a life she brought into this world.” And then he had gone and got drunk on tharra.
Gyani had been unlike most men in the village. He had allowed her to keep the baby, to give her a name. The baby’s eyes glittered like stars on a moonless night.
She called her Tara. Star.
Hansa looked at her baby with pride and with remorse, as every fiber of her being protested, and her stomach turned and her throat tightened.
Outside, Baldev stirred.
Time was running out.
Tara whimpered again, and Hansa turned to look at her chubby fists cycling in the still air, throwing outsized shadows on the walls. Hansa’s hands shook and her mouth turned dry. She bit her lip, forcing herself to focus on the imminent task.
The water in the bucket shimmered black and gold, reflecting the dancing flame of the lantern, mesmerizing, inviting. Water, the giver of life…

She made up her mind. It was now or never.

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About the author




Freelance author, blogger, and ex-Indian Air Force physician Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee completed her graduate studies in Los Angeles, where she is a practicing pathologist. While medicine is her profession, writing is her passion. When she’s not at the microscope making diagnoses, she loves to write fiction. Her life experiences have taught her that no matter how different people are, their desires, fears, and challenges remain the same.



Her themes include romantic sagas, family dramas, immigrant experience, women’s issues, medicine, and spirituality. She loves extraordinary love stories and heartwarming tales of duty and passion. Her short stories have appeared in short-story.net and induswomanwriting.com.



She grew up in Bhilai, India, and lives in Arcadia, California with her husband and two wonderful children. In her free time, she paints, reads, sings, goes on long walks, and binge-watches TV crime dramas.



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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Spotlight - The Smitten Husband by Sundari Venkatraman


Marriages Made in India
Book #1
THE SMITTEN HUSBAND
by
Sundari Venkatraman



Blurb

Ram Maheshwari is a successful jewellery designer who has a huge showroom on MI Road, Jaipur. He’s tall, dark, handsome and a billionaire to boot. He’s twenty-nine and falls in with his parents’ wishes when they try to arrange his marriage.

The lovely, stormy-eyed Sapna Purohit is from Pushkar. She’s managed to finish school and makes a living by doing mehendi designs during weddings. She’s always dreamt of a Prince on a white horse, sweeping her off her feet.

One look into Sapna’s grey eyes and Ram is lost. Only, Sapna’s unable to see her Prince in Ram. Being from a poor family, she has no choice but to go along with the tide when the Maheshwaris offer to bear all expenses of the wedding. 

Does that mean that the feisty Sapna is all set to accept Ram as her husband? She puts forth a condition, after the wedding. Will The Smitten Husband agree to it?

*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.

Read an excerpt...


“Good morning!” said a sleepy voice. “What are you doing so far away?” called out Ram, before reaching out with a long arm to pull her to him.
A startled Sapna gave him a shocked look that was lost on her husband, whose eyes were still closed. His arms went around her waist like steel bands, his breath hot against her cheek. “Sapna...” he whispered in her ear as his hard lips pressed into her petal soft cheek.
Sapna tried to pull out of his arms, only to have them pull her closer. Her breasts were flattened against his solid chest. Her traitorous body seemed to enjoy the pressure as her nipples perked up. She did her best to hold on to the control that was slipping fast.
“Ram,” she called out loudly, hoping to wake him up. She couldn’t free her arms that were trapped against her own body, as he held her in a crushing grip. His mouth was busy exploring her face, moving inexorably towards her lips. His eyes continued to remain closed, while his hands moved restlessly at her waist. “Ram...” her voice came out in a whisper, as she felt his tongue trace the edge of her lips. Tortured, she made the final move to capture his roving lips, breaking free her hands to hold his face steady.
“Sapna...” sighed Ram, kissing her gently, his tongue first tracing her upper lip and then her lower one. He gently bit the luscious curve. Sapna instinctively opened her mouth to let him explore the velvety cavern with his tongue. Shyly, her tongue reached out to mate with his, making Ram groan with need.
His hands moved restlessly on her body, her nightie bunching up. His muscular legs tangled with her slim ones, making her sigh with pleasure as his hard and hairy skin brushed against her soft and silky one. His hands cupped her lush bottom, caressing it lovingly.
Sapna suddenly became aware of his hardness pressed against her belly. Coming to her senses, she turned her face away, breaking the kiss. “No Ram.”
His wet lips continued to caress her, his tongue exploring her shell-like ear. Even as her heart thudded loudly, Sapna pushed against him. “Ram, please, will you stop it?”
His black eyes opened a slit, desire and slumber at war in them. “Sapna?” If he hadn’t been fully awake before, he was now, as he stared at her lovely face that was so close to his. He slowly recalled what had been occurring over the past few minutes. He had at first thought he was dreaming about kissing the luscious woman in his arms. How had she landed there in the first place?


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About The Author


The Smitten Husband is the eighth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #1 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books have been on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK & Australia many times over.


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Heartbroken...






Yes, I am heartbroken…

No, no one cheated me in love.

But, yes, still I am heartbroken…


            Confused??? Read on…

            Past few months had been bit taxing on me; physically, mentally and emotionally, all as a mother.

            A girl usually when she enters her teens, starts dreaming; about her life, about her career, about marriage, about her prince charming, about her kids… yes girls are hopeless dreamers. I too was one.

            When my pregnancy got confirmed after two years of marriage I was elated. Like any other expectant parents, me and my husband, started making plans for our child.

If it’s a girl…

If it’s a boy…

What should we name him/her?

What will be his/her pet name? etc…

When my daughter was born, I was happy. I had longed for a girl, as we can always dress her in pretty dresses. But all my dreams were crushed in couple of days.

When you are pregnant, everyone pampers you but no one prepares you for the after effects. Neither was I. No one told me that how painful labour will be nor about the sleepless nights which I am gonna face. But I was lucky to have supportive parents who helped me at that time.

When my daughter’s milestones were delayed, I was worried, but still consoled myself saying she will be fine. Days gave way to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. Every time I visited my pediatric he used to say ‘nothing to worry, some kids are slow initially. Don’t worry all will be fine’. Every change of doctor, gave me same answer. There seemed to be no light at end of my tunnel.

I had a creative streak in me. I used to collect articles used for making and decorating creative arts and crafts and make articles for self or friends. Also things which we moms think our child will use it when the right time comes.

I had preserved them all for so many years … till now.

But till recently, when I was searching for something, my past came tumbling out of the closet. All the decorative materials collected over the decades; laces, sequins, various color texture papers, mehndi designs, art books and what not.

I just kept staring at it for some time… tears swelled up in my eyes. God can be so cruel sometimes. What all dreams a woman weaves when she is pregnant with her first child. How cruel fate can be???



No, I won’t post a picture of my collection. I gave away all my collection to someone or other who will make use of those materials and create masterpieces.

Why?

I don’t have that creative streak or patience or energy in me now. And also taking care of my daughter 24*7, household work and my small home venture takes most of my time and energy now-a-days. 

But yes I was heartbroken when I saw all those things which I had accumulated and which I gave away with heavy heart to those who might make a good use of it. And I don’t regret it.

But still I am heartbroken.



It was not easy to part away with things from your past. It never is and never was. But with heavy heart I let them go.

This is not only me but story of most mothers of differently able kids who sacrifice everything, just for sake of their child; hoping things will be normal. One day they will experience normal parenthood, kids will enjoy normal childhood, have a normal life.

But most are left heartbroken. I know after reading some will say, I am depressed, I am having negative approach of life.

I won’t deny. But has anyone tried to understand the life or feelings of mother of a special needs child. I am happy when my daughter takes a teeny weeny step forward, however small her improvement might be, but I am happy yet sad.

But when we see other kids of same age or kids of our friends, colleagues or relatives, our heart cries, though our eyes don’t shed tears now. They have dried long back. Being a mother is not easy and being a mother to differently able child is even more difficult.

WE are heartbroken but not broken. WE are tired but have not given up. WE have fallen but after some time WE will get up, pick up pieces and go forward. Because, a single word uttered, a single step taken, a single milestone achieved, a single task done is a big reward itself for us.

That doesn’t mean we have stopped dreaming. No. Our dreams have changed. Our goals have changed. Sometimes we still dream all will be normal, even though we know it won’t. That’s not negative approach but we are being practical.

Though heartbroken, we hope. We hope for a better future for our kids, a secure future.

Some might take it as a rant or I am venting my frustration. But if voicing our sentiments, our feelings are labeled as frustration, so be it. And these are not my words/feelings alone.

But of all mothers who have sacrificed their dreams, their careers, their ambitions, everything just to take care of their little ones… be it normal or a differently able child.

Some might say, what so great about it, its our duty to take care of our children. Yes, it is but aren’t we humans too. Don’t we have our dreams? Why should only we sacrifice and go unnoticed?

A woman’s life is not easy as it seems, though very few seem to notice.

Salute to all moms out there, who go with their daily chores with a smile on face whereas in reality their mind and body is begging for some rest and a break from their daily routine.


Hats off to all moms.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review-The Mahabharata Code by Karthik K B Rao



THE MAHABHARATA CODE
by
KARTHIK K.B.RAO




Blurb


"The Mahabharata Code is a personal account of the main protagonist Narayan Rao (NR), who claims to be an astronomer with NASA. NR and a few other crew members agree to take part in the NASA mission to visit this mystery planet from which they had received mysterious signals. Here, they meet a man with a long flowing white beard, and he introduces himself as Vyasa. He reveals that he has a crazy plan in mind and seeks NR and his members’ help in implementing this plan. He intends to recreate the entire Mahabharata on this planet to restore the faith of the primitive simpletons here. 

As the Mahabharata incidents start unfolding, NR realizes that Vyasa intends to recreate them page by page here, if not paragraph by paragraph. Also NR begins to realize that his son, Krishna, who is being groomed by Vyasa as Vishnu’s avatar, is nothing more than a pawn in Vyasa's scheme of things. Other incidents of Mahabharata also unfold according to the original epic. Pandavas and Kauravas grow up hating each other and finally the restaging plan culminates with both the warring sets of cousins facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. 

Inexplicably, like the original epic, Arjuna develops cold feet seeing his own cousins, teachers and relatives on the opposite side. He seeks Krishna’s divine intervention. Is the brainwashed “alien” Krishna prepared for this intervention?"

My Honest Review 

The Mahabharata Code…. Yet another retelling of the Mahabharata or is it?

Catchy isn’t it? Yes, I too got interested by reading this tag line. Recently I have been reading lots of mythology or better say revised versions or fictional versions based on mythology. So is this book too another such book?

When I started reading I found it bit confusing and slow paced, but further I read more it turned engrossing.

The reader initially gets confused just like the protagonist what is real and what is imaginary but as the story moves forward the plot becomes even more confusing until climax. The climax reminds me of a super hit movie which was made few years ago and had similar theme.

The characters be it protagonist Narayan Rao, Shristi or Krishna are well sketched. I liked it where its written even Arjuna was jealous of Krishna. Well Krishna was not loved equally by all. Some considered him as an opponent while some as friend, some loved him whereas some hated him.

What I loved was the suspense is maintained till end, and keeps the reader guessing whether it’s happening in real or is it just an imagination of the protagonist or is he hallucinating. The part, wherein Krishna explains to his father just like he recites Bhagavad-Gita to Arjuna before commencement of the famous Mahabharata war is truly commendable.

One of the verse which I liked a lot and it holds real meaning is :

“Who is this Mahadev then? Isn’t Shiva the Mahadev?”

“Shiva, Bhrama, Allah, Vishnu, Paramatma, Brahman, I, me, myself, Almighty, Jesus, Shakti, science, zero, impotent, idiot, crazy, Buddha, money, music, alien, woman, nature, computer programmer, mathematician and err, off late, Sachin and what not! I can think of atleast three hundred and thirty million names named after me!”  
           
            Though slow paced, some might even find it boring but it’s a definite worth a read. The link and reasoning of each of mythological events with science makes a reader think, whether its true or just a fragment of writer’s imagination?


            If you want to do some serious reading and like mythology and science then this book is must read. 


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About the author




Karthik K.B. Rao

Karthik Rao is a 32-year-old software professional based in Bangalore. He lives with his wife Sushma, parents and two little sons Kaustubh Krishna and Raghav Krishna aged 4 and 1, respectively. He says, he gets to meditate close to 3 hours every day on his bike thanks to the notorious Bangalore traffic. His hobbies include following cricket, Indian politics on the social media and Indian mythology. He also plays plastic ball cricket with his sons.

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