Friday, September 12, 2014

Twisted Reflections by Shay West : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Twisted Reflections
ISBN: 9781620154335
AUTHOR: Shay West
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Digital
SERIES / STANDALONE: The Adventures of Alexis Davenport #2
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author’s manager sent us digital copies for review. Thank you, Pamela!
SUMMARY:
Alexis Davenport is learning to come to grips with her ability to travel through time, but she still hasn’t been able to stop the evil Drifter and his Master from trying to alter the past.
When she travels back to ancient Egypt, Alex gets a most unexpected surprise; she meets someone who can help her figure out how to use her powers, another Traveler like herself.
But can Alex learn how to control her gift before Drifter finds a way to stop her from meddling in his Master’s plans?
Twisted Reflections is the highly anticipated Book Two, in The Adventures of Alexis Davenport Series.
REVIEW:
          In this second instalment of the series, Alexis Davenport is going strong in her new school, has just settled herself into her aunt’s house and had started coming to terms with the reflections in the mirror forcing her to go into the past to protect history. But her mother has shattered her peaceful comfortable setup by announcing that they have to move to another house soon. Coming to terms with her life being jeopardised once again by the impending move and her aunt forcing her to work more hours in her shop, Alex pushes herself to face all her troubles.
          Adding to Alex’s troubles, she comes across another traveller in one of her travels to Egypt to save the timeline of King Tut. The traveller, Sean, informs her that he is well aware of the gift and has a master who guides him and helps him protect the timeline. From Sean, she learns that she could control herself to travel to the time period she wants. Alex practices travelling on will and goes to Sean’s time period, late twentieth century UK, and meets his master, who only increases her confusion regarding her gift.
          In Egypt, Alex and Sean manage to not only foil the plans of the evil traveller; they also manage to force him out of the body he inhabited. The evil traveller, the drifter, is angry beyond words and speeds up his plan to kill Alex. If and how Alex manages to save history and escape the clutches of the traveller, in addition to handling her other normal troubles forms the rest of the story.
          The plot is expected (the readers would have a better understanding if they read book one first). The character development has a few believable twists and when the real name of drifter is revealed, along with his designation in the current time period, the reader is left with a dry anticipation that leaves them frustrated for more information. What should have been at least a semi closure, tries in vain to be a cliff hanger.
          The second book has slightly more detail about Alex’s teenage problems, making her a slightly irritating protagonist, right when her character should obtain more depth and clarity. But if you enjoyed book one, there are enough events in book two to keep you engaged with just the right amount of sympathy with Alex to keep you going.
WHAT I LIKED: The continuation of interesting events in history, the main reason the books are interesting.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The slightly dampened character development of Alex and Karen, not to mention Jenifer.
VERDICT: If you enjoyed book one and want to know what happens next, go for this.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shay West was born in Longmont, CO and earned a doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical. Dr. West currently lives in Grand Junction, CO with her two cats. When not writing novels, she plays with plushie microbes and teaches biology classes at Colorado Mesa University. She is the author of the Portals of Destiny series and the Adventures of Alexis Davenport series. She has also been published in several anthologies: Battlespace (military sci-fi), Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior (fundraiser), and Ancient New (steampunk/fantasy).
You can find Dr. West and more of her work at Shay-West.com.
Social Media Links:
http://Shay-West.com
https://www.facebook.com/shaywestauthor
https://twitter.com/DrShayWest
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle
PRICE: Rs. 180 for Kindle


Dangerous Reflection by Shay West : A Review



BOOK TITLE: Dangerous Reflection
ISBN: 9781620154045
AUTHOR: Shay West
GENRE: Fiction
FORMAT: Digital
SERIES / STANDALONE: Series (Adventures of Alexis Davenport #1)
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author’s manager sent us digital copies for review. We thank her for it!
SUMMARY:
Alexis Davenport wants to go home. She hates her new school, her mother for moving her away from her friends, and her father for walking out.
To make matters worse, Alex is haunted by images of strange girls reflected in her mirror. It’s bad enough juggling homework, a relentless bully, boys, and a deadbeat dad; now, she must save the world from an evil presence hell-bent on changing the past – and our futures. Who knew her A+ in history was going to be this important?
REVIEW:
          Dangerous Reflection is a pleasant read. When we were contacted by the publicist for a review, the fantasy genre initially made me apprehensive, but the gist had enough substance to pique my interest. And the book crossed my expectations. It was a very pleasant read, with the right amount of drama, suspense, fantasy, and brilliant event sequence thrown in.
          The protagonist of the story is Alexis Davenport, a teenager. The story starts with Alex and her mother Patricia moving to Patricia’s sister Karen’s house because Alex’s father had deserted them. Naturally, Alex is disappointed both with her father’s departure and her move to another state, meaning a different school and loss of her friends back home. But thankfully, the ‘angry teenager’ phase does not dominate the book. ON the way to her aunt’s house, Alex is frightened when her reflection changes in a restroom mirror. Where her face should be, she encounters the face of another girl. Alex does not make much of it, imagining it to be due to her exhaustion and sadness.
          But the reflection repeats itself, forcing Alex to conclude that she has a weird condition. Alex does not understand how to control the reflections that appear randomly in mirrors. She is frightened out of her life when her hand, apparently out of her control reaches up to touch the reflection in the mirror. It causes her to blackout and when she regains consciousness, she finds herself in the body of the girl whose face was shown in the reflection. Alex finds herself inhabiting the body of some girl in the past, and due to her knowledge in history, knows that she is about to witness a major happening in history. In her first adventure Alex saves the Book of Kells, which is an important artefact.
          When Alex is zapped back to the present, she realises that though her adventure in the past seemed to happen for days, in reality, not even a few minutes had passed. Thoroughly confused, Alex fears her sanity and is unable to even spill the beans to her mother. Then there are the regular problems she faces in a new school, trying to gain friends, to blend in, and going for a sure path to heartbreak when she falls in love with the sport star co student, Beau Johnson. Meanwhile, she accidentally gets herself into an audition for a play. On the whole, in spite of her busy schedule and other teenager problems, she encounters various reflections in the mirror and finds herself during important moments in history, making sure nobody tampers with the events in the past that might have catastrophic effects in the present.
          The only person who knows her secret is her classmate Jenifer, who finds Alex when she is in one of her ‘travels’. In addition to this, in every trip to the past, Alex senses an evil presence that might be another traveller who is trying to alter the course of history and therefore ensure chaos. Alex manages to escape the presence every time, and realises that her life is in danger. In one final trip, the body Alex inhabits is killed by the evil traveller and she enters into the void. Whether or not she makes it out of the void into her own body creates the element of surprise in the first book.
          Thankfully, the story is not over the top in making out the protagonist to be heroine who takes up the cape and becomes a super woman. Alex is a normal girl, who is frightened by the abnormality and faces every problem in school like a normal teenager would do. Her friends are realistic, natural and her mom and aunt are strong female characters who lend support. The story is more about a teenager’s adjustment to life and its problems, and about what a normal girl would do in an abnormal situation. With no larger than life characters, the book is an interesting page turner.
          The plot is simple enough, with the author using important, but not very popular events in history, making the reader maintain the right amount of interest to keep going. The story is set in a believable tone and the characters are strong, clear, and each leave a strong impression in the minds of the reader. Go for this book if you like a YA novel with a female protagonist.
WHAT I LIKED: The clear story, lucid language, and the believable main characters
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: The long yearning of Alex for a jerk (makes her weak, might be the author’s intention, but is still irritating). And making Alex the reason history is still untainted. (Wait; was it the whole point of the story?)
VERDICT: Go for this one. It is written for teenagers, with the least amount of crudeness.
RATING: 4/5
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shay West was born in Longmont, CO and earned a doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical. Dr. West currently lives in Grand Junction, CO with her two cats. When not writing novels, she plays with plushie microbes and teaches biology classes at Colorado Mesa University. She is the author of the Portals of Destiny series and the Adventures of Alexis Davenport series. She has also been published in several anthologies: Battlespace (military scifi), Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior (fundraiser), and Ancient New (steampunk/fantasy).
You can find Dr. West and more of her work at Shay-West.com.
Social Media Links:
http://Shay-West.com
https://www.facebook.com/shaywestauthor
https://twitter.com/DrShayWest
PRICE: Rs. 240 for Kindle


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Even God Doesn't Know Rajeev Pundir : A Review



BOOK TITLE: Even God Doesn’t Know
AUTHOR: Rajeev Pundir
GENRE: Fiction/ Romance
NUMBER OF PAGES: 355
FORMAT: Paperback
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Dhivya Balaji
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Blackbuck publications sent us a copy in exchange for an honest review.
SUMMARY:
Amar and Akbar are bosom friends. Rekha is their classmate while studying in an engineering college. Where Akbar and Rekha fall in love, Amar also has a crush for Rekha which changes into a one-sided love affair and gradually into an obsession. He continues to endure his feelings for Rekha for years together, silently.

A sudden mishappening changes the lives of all three in a single night. The novel unfolds the story of the threesome lead by infatuation, possessiveness, obsession, love, hate, doubt and greed against the backdrop of premonitions.
REVIEW:
          Some books start out very promisingly. They offer you some sort of sneak peek into how the book is actually going to progress. Then there are some books that make you want to pick them up by the summary given in the back cover. Then there are books that impress you in the first line of the first page. And finally, there are books that crash your expectations in the subsequent chapters so much so that you want to close the book and be done with it.
          The word in the summary made the reader cringe. It is ‘mishap’ not ‘mishappening’.  Overcoming the obvious misspelling and already wondering about the editing, I picked up the book. The opening pages containing the first prologue, was mildly interesting, and it made me sit up and think maybe, just maybe, the book might prove to be interesting.
          But over the course of the story (the plot is a triangular love story) that hopes to portray the struggles of budding, blossoming love, sacrifice and all those gentler emotions, somehow, somewhere, there is always a sour feeling because of the substandard way of writing and editing.
          The story might have made it big, and had more of an impression in the minds of the reader if only the reader themselves didn’t feel the urge to correct the word phrasing and grammar (occasionally spellings). What could have been a really nice love triangle that never goes larger than life falters in the shoddily written dialogs. It fails to stay in the mind.
          There is the typical middle class struggle, of the poor unable to afford coaching, to the pangs of young love, the story has it all. But basically, there is that thorn. If you are not a seasoned reader, or if you don’t feel the urge to correct misspellings, or if you can overcome the language to enjoy the story, go for this.
WHAT I LIKED: The opening pages.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Language, story construction, and the whole drab areas of description.
VERDICT: If you can digest the writing, the story can manage to make an impact.
RATING: 2/5
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback
PRICE: Rs. 171 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: http://www.flipkart.com/even-god-doesn-t-know-english/p/itmdxw8sfag7dqhf?pid=9781630415976#overview

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Full Moon Bride by Shoban Bantwal


Displaying Full Moon Bride.jpg


BOOK TITLE:  The Full Moon Bride

ISBN: 0758258844

AUTHOR: Shoban Bhantwal

GENRE: Fiction – Romance/Chic-Lit

NUMBER OF PAGES: 352

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE:  Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The publishers sent us a review copy. We thank Fingerprint Publishers for the same

SUMMARY : What makes a marriage--love or compatibility? Passion or pragmatism? Bantwal's compelling new novel explores the fascinating subject of arranged marriage, as a young Indian-American woman navigates the gulf between desire and tradition.

REVIEW:
The concept of arranged weddings is a mystery to any young woman of Indian lineage. The idea of spending the rest of the life with some random guy is baffling and at times scary. In fact, many woman dread that “D” day where they are made to parade in front of a group of complete strangers. Though the process of “matching- making” and “bride viewing” has been diluted over the ages, the process is still unnerving enough.

The writer has successfully portray that “unnerving” feeling of an eligible bride. Our protagonist, Siya, a successful environmental lawyer is subjected to endure the process of “bridal viewing”. Along comes our hero Roger aka Rajesh who eventually falls in love with Siya in spite of all her “so called shortcomings”  of which Siya has a complex about.

Enter the charismatic “Black”  attorney who attracts Siya like a magnet. The story is about how Siya ends up choosing between the two men.

The writer has beautifully portrayed the emotions and complexes of an average Indian girl with a dusky complexion and has more than just a bit of curves. I went about nodding and sympathizing with Siya all the way. There is a fine line between being in love and being attracted .The writer managed to convey that fact to the point.

The writing was simple and conveyed all the emotions of a 20 something girl going through that haunting phase of “Bridal Viewing” to the dot. The writer is obviously well acquainted with the South Indian method of the “bridal viewing”.

The story line had its share of ups and downs. I felt that bachelorette party  of Siya’s friend was a bit overdone. The high point of the story for me would be when Roger tells Siya that she just perfect. SIya isn’t exactly the “heroine” type material. She is just like any other woman from down south.  Being accepted for what we are is a major boost of confidence. The story conveyed that perfectly.

To sum it up, I enjoyed reading the book in spite of the shortcomings.

VERDICT: Why not?! A practical story. A rarity in this genre.

RATING: 4 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shobhan Bantwal is the Indian-American author of THE DOWRY BRIDE, her debut novel set in India and slated for release by Kensington Books in September 2007. It is the first of a two-book contract with Kensington.

Since 2002, Shobhan's articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications like India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, Desi Journal, India Currents, Overseas Indian, New Woman India, Kanara Saraswat and Sulekha. Her short stories have won honors and awards in fiction contests sponsored by Writer's Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines.
Her award winning stories are accessible through her web site: 
www.shobhanbantwal.com
EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback


BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.in/gp/product/0758258844/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=goodreads_in-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0758258844&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Silent Partner by Stan Schatt : A Review

READERS MUSE NOTE: With Special thanks to Deepika Anandakrishnan, as always, for one of her spectacular guest reviews. And her honest and 'to the point' assessment.



Title – Silent Partner
Author – Stan Schatt
Genre – Mystery/Crime Fiction (with Supernatural Overtones and Adult Content?)
Review:
          Francis “Frankie” Ryan is one of Sea View Police Department’s finest Detectives, with a troubled past (you may break your heads over what it is!). When she is assigned to investigate a gruel case involving a castrated playboy Feature Writer and a beautiful Market Analyst in a lonely motel, support comes from an unexpected source for solving for the dual murder. Josh Harrell is the ex-Ranger reporter for an above mediocre newspaper, who gets to fill the dead guy’s job, and he just found out about his convenient supernatural ability that had troubled his family for generations. Together they team up to solve the frustrating case where nobody associated with the dead people seems to like or get along with them.

          Simply put the dead guy has a LOT of weird sex and the dead woman has a lot of sex with most men other than her husband. No wonder this crazy pair was going to end up dead in a seedy motel one of these days! Ironically, the husband is one of the two people who shed a tear for the dead. Love is strange and it shall continue to elude and baffle this poor reviewer.

          This is quite a different mystery thriller with the teeniest bit of supernatural element thrown in, in the form of the psychic abilities of the male lead. The story begins out with the usual scene of a faithful cop Frankie, investigating a murder scene along with her sidekick partner. But certain unexpected twists are in store for people expecting it to be a regular crime fiction. Josh comes out (pun intended) to help the police by lending his psychic abilities when questioning suspects. The story not only develops this strange deviation but also relies heavily on adult content and introduces this reader to some new sexual games/activities, which she would have preferred to be ignorant of forever.

          The fact that the author has tried to cash in on the success of Fifty Shades of Grey is clear in some instances, where direct references are made more than a couple of times. The entire investigation seems to lead to strange new hints at every corner but described in such a way that it’s quite obvious after a certain point, that some characters were introduced just to keep the guessing game juicy.

          Moreover, you realize quite soon the nature in which the seemingly ‘perfect crime’ was committed and spelling it out letter by letter seems more like mocking the reader’s intelligence rather than a slow mind-blowing revelation. However what struck me as funny but never touched upon by any of the characters was how the culprit wanted to get caught from the beginning. If you think about it, had this person just taken a vacation or sick leave, this would have been the perfect crime. But I have seen and read enough detective stories to believe that it is in every criminal’s nature to boast and that’s usually what brings about their end.

Would I Read It Again? – Not really. Quoting the author himself, this is neither Gone with the Wind nor Fifty Shades of Grey. But a pretty good story overall.

What I Liked – The twists, the occasional dry humour & the good writing.

What Not To Like – The hurried ending, pointless characters, some loose ends and my sufficiently enriched knowledge about the (un)known underworld of dark pleasures.

Rating – 3.5/5

About The Author:
          Stan Schatt is a futurist, technologist, novelist, and a person curious about many things. His writing takes advantage of his wide-ranging work, from autopsy assistant to police department administrator, salesman, literature professor and telecommunications professor, technology analyst, and research director. He has always loved technology and politics almost as much as writing. Stan is also volunteer job acquisition facilitator for the unemployed in San Diego. He writes mysteries in Carlsbad, California, where he lives with his wife, Jane.
Find Stan at www.StanSchatt.com (website and blog)
and on Twitter at @stanschatt.