Friday, October 24, 2014

The Echoes of Love by Hannah Fielding : A Review


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BOOK TITLE: The Echoes of Love

ISBN: 0992671833

AUTHOR: Hannah Fielding

GENRE: Fiction – Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 360

FORMAT: Paper back

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The writer sent us a review copy in exchange for  a honest review

SUMMARY : Set against the breathtaking beauty of Italy, The Echoes of Love is a passionate, heart-breaking romance to ignite the senses and rekindle your belief in the power of love. Seduction, passion and secrets... Venetia Aston-Montagu has escaped to Venice to work in her godmother's architectural practice, putting a lost love behind her. For the past ten years she has built a fortress around her heart, only to find the walls tumbling down one night of the carnival when she is rescued from masked assailants by an enigmatic stranger, Paolo Barone. Drawn to the powerfully seductive Paolo, despite warnings of his Don Juan reputation and rumours that he keeps a mistress, Venetia can't help being caught up in the smouldering passion that ignites between them. When she finds herself assigned to a project at his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia not only faces a beautiful young rival but also a sinister count and dark forces in the shadows, determined to come between them. Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will Paolo's carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?

REVIEW:

The first line of the summary was just about enough for me to fall for the book. I admit! I am shamelessly attracted to anything Italian – be it the culture or the food. Watching too much of TLC channel left me bewitched and besotted with Italian city so much so that visiting Italy at least once in this life time has become top in my “things to do before I die” list. Also, having worked with Italians professionally, I quite enjoy their culture. 

I had set obnoxiously high standards for this book just because the story was set in Italy. But when the book landed on my door step I did chastise myself for being a hopeless “Italian Romantic”. I almost dreaded that I would come to regret my decision of picking up this book for the book was quite heavy to begin with. It has been ages since I read 400 odd pages paperback copy. Books these days are no longer than 350 pages.  But when I finished reading the book I was truly happy for not missing such a beautiful book.

To start with, the book cover was beautiful. The eye mask and the title of the book is glossily embossed in black against a beautiful cream background thus giving it a rich texture.

Our protagonist, Venetia is a restoration specialist with a traumatic past. The love of her life “left” her and she lost their love child in a freak accident. She escapes from the clutches of her traumatic past and her strict father by moving to Venice to work for her godmother in her architect firm. For some odd reason, Zia (the god mother) reminds me of Meryl Streep from the movie The Devil Wears a Prada. Venetia falls in love with Paolo, the handsome Italian who again has his own share of traumatic past. So do they actually find each other? Obviously yes, they do. But what matters is the narration of the “how”.

The narration was bang on. Italy was described so beautifully that with pages that I turned, my desperation to visit that country increased exponentially. To make matters worse the story was written so beautifully. The beauty of courtship narrated against a back drop of a romantic city is indeed an intoxicating combination. Being a late (like horribly late) bloomer in discovering Love & Romance Literature, this story ended up leaving me with a fluttering heart and a flipping stomach!

The characterisation was perfect and realistic. Due to this, the emotions that the writer tried to convey were eerily realistic. I felt like I was living in the middle of the story. Till date only one book
(or a series maybe….) had managed to do that to me. No prizes for guessing which book.

My only weeny tiny qualm though would be that there was a bit of drag in story – The book would have been better off without that “evil witch girl” in play. And of course, the climax was predictable, though I can’t really put my finger on why I was able to predict it in spites of a gripping tale with very minimal loophole in the plot.

To sum it up, this story is akin to the perfect coffee served in a traditional fashion. Such books are hard to come by in the age of Vending machine quality quicke romance (er….may be like the slurry liquid that my work place’s vending machine serves me in the name of coffee?!)

VERDICT: This book is strictly for people who love to read literature and beautiful romances. If you can’t admire the beauty of courtship and true romance don’t dare touch this book.

RATING: 4.9 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (In her own words!)
I grew up in a rambling house overlooking the Mediterranean. My earliest memories are of listening, enchanted, to fairy stories at the knee of my half-French half-Italian governess Zula. When I was seven we came to an agreement: for each story she told me, I would invent and relate one of my own. That is how my love for story-telling began.

Later, at a convent school, while French nuns endeavoured to teach me grammar, literature and maths, I took to day-dreaming and wrote short romantic stories to satisfy the needs of a fertile imagination. Having no inhibitions, I circulated them around the class, which made me very popular among my peers and less so with the nuns.

After I graduated with a BA in French literature, my international nomadic years commenced. I lived mainly in Switzerland, France and England, where I had friends and family, and during holidays I travelled to Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and Spain.

I met my husband in London at a drinks party: it was love at first sight, just like in the romance books that were my constant companions. He brought me to his large Georgian rectory in Kent, surrounded by grounds and forests. After my children were born, between being a mother and running a property business, there was little time for day dreaming, let alone writing. 

Then, once my children had flown the nest, I decided after so many years of yearning to write, write, write it was time to dust off the old manuscripts I’d been tinkering with for a lifetime. 

Today, I am living the dream: I write full time, splitting my time between my homes in Kent and in the South of France, where I dream up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

My first novel, Burning Embers, is a vivid, evocative love story set against the backdrop of tempestuous and wild Kenya of the 1970s, reviewed by one newspaper as ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. My new novel, The Echoes of Love, is a story of passion, betrayal and intrigue set in the romantic and mysterious city of Venice and the beautiful landscape of Tuscany

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle,Hardcover & Paperback

PRICE: Rs.99 (Kindle)


BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.in/Echoes-Love-Hannah-Fielding-ebook/dp/B00H3S3FFO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Twinkle by S J Parkinson : A Review





TWINKLE BY S J PARKINSON
Publisher: SJ Parkinson (July 14, 2014)
Category: Science Fiction, Thriller
Tour Date: October, 2014
Available in: Print & ebook, 600 Pages
For more details about the tour, visit :
BOOK SUMMARY:
In the newest book from award winning author, SJ Parkinson, The richest man in the world wants to celebrate the July 4th holiday as never before. In a bid to get into the record books, a global fireworks show is staged from orbit. Satellites drop pyrotechnics into the atmosphere, thrilling everyone from the Arctic to the Antarctic with their rich colors and massive explosions in every time zone.
The next day, people around the globe begin to lose their sight. Governments crumble, society degenerates, and infrastructure falls into chaos. Humanity finds itself stumbling in the dark and losing all hope.
A few fortunate individuals retain their vision. Attempting to deal with the growing despair around them, they come together to discover the true purpose and origin of the affliction. They race to find a cure before the world is subjugated under an invading power.
BOOK REVIEW:
Twinkle is one of the few books that ensnared me with the summary and the book cover. It is a science fiction novel, as simple as that and there are added bits of other genres. When the paperback copy arrived, I was amazed by the size of the book. Its length did put me off for a few days from reading it. But Twinkle is worth every page of the story. A different premise altogether offered a promise of a refreshing reading experience and delivered on the promise.
A fireworks show goes wrong and turns catastrophic. The one word storyline is woven into a web of thrill and suspense. There is the suspense element, the underlying thrill to reveal the motives. Though predominantly set in the US, Twinkle is a story applicable worldwide. It is something that can happen (and has happened) everywhere. The military concerns (superbly explained by the author) are explained well, aided by the author’s experience in the field.
The quest for world dominance by individual nations is a very relatable struggle. Though we’re supposed to be living in a civilised world, stories of individual countries preparing weapons and blueprints to give them scientific/ technical superiority just under the surface keep the tension palpable. Twinkle is a book about how bad it can go, in a totally unexpected way. Therefore it is a book that can be read with heads nodding occasionally.
Verdict: Don’t be deterred by the length. Twinkle is one book that should NOT be missed if you are a suspense / thriller fan!
Rating: 4/5
AUTHOR:
Mr. Parkinson was an Air Force avionics technician, a decorated veteran of the Persian Gulf War, and several United Nations peacekeeping missions. He has lived overseas in numerous countries and travels extensively. His novels have been praised for their realism and sold in fourteen countries, winning multiple international awards.
Awards: Three “Outstanding in Genre” Gold Seal awards from Red Adept Publishing and Kindle Book of the Month award Oct 2013 by the People’s Choice Book Awards.
BOOK BUY LINK:


Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Isolated Incident by Soniah Kamal : A Review


An Isolated Incident

BOOK TITLE: An Isolated Incident

ISBN: 9788172345327

AUTHOR: Soniah Kamal

GENRE: Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES:  400

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. We thank Fingerprint Publishing for the same.

SUMMARY: Zari Zoon, a vivacious girl from Kashmir, is looking forward to marrying her fiance when tragedy strikes. Next thing she know, she is on a plane to America to stay with distant relatives who have offered to give her a temporary home to help her stitch back the tatters of her life.

Billy Nabi, fiercely tender-hearted, longs to help Zari but the choices he makes will jeopardise them all.
An Isolated Incident is a story of haunting memories and yearnings of a home lost, of a faith continuously tested and questioned and of a love that blossoms against all odds

REVIEW:

 I’ve always regretted not visiting Kashmir when I had the opportunity to do so. My dad resided in Jammu for quite some time and used to describe its endless beauty. He obviously left out the ugly injustice being served to this beautiful place. Since then, I’ve had this fascination with Jammu & Kashmir. Of course, I always knew that beneath the beauty lies a state marred by wars and ridden with unspeakable sorrow. Having never read a proper literature account associated with J&K, I was more than eager to read this book.

The story is a about a simple Kashmiri girl Zari who loses her family and undergoes a major trauma. She then relocates to USA under the ruse of pursing her education. Her life changes dramatically after Billy comes to her rescue. But then, Billy has his own share of emotional baggage in the form of a burdening past to handle. I can’t possibly elaborate more about the story for I would be depriving the reader of a life changing experience.

The narration is filled with raw emotions. It’s been long since a book affected me in such a way. Reading a tale of unspeakable and horrendous injustice experienced by a woman left me choking with unspeakable sorrow. Zari’s narration seemed so realistic that I truly wondered if this story wasn’t a figment of imagination.

I really wouldn’t believe that this writer is actually a rookie to Lit Business.  The narration, the plot and portrayal of emotions were almost perfect. If at all I had to find a flaw, it would be with Billy’s story line. I could connect with his feeling of  lost identity, but his decision to flee USA didn’t pack a punch for me as it normally should. This could be attributed to a slight slack in narration in that part of the story.

The characterization was perfect and all the characters had so many facets that at one point I wondered if they were actually modeled after real people.  Again, if I really had to find a negative with characterization, it would be with that of Zari’s. A trauma obviously changes a person’s character. I couldn’t understand much of Zari’s character before that “life altering” incident. 

The cover deserves a special mention. It clearly depicts the beauty of Kashmir but in shades of Brown, which obviously signifies the struggle and injustice. 

This book changed my perception of Kashmiris and made me understand why they would actually want a separate country.

The book also re-emphasized a lesson that my parents drilled in me. Love and compassion are the ultimate medicine to any trauma.

VERDICT: A must read for all who whine about the injustice of life. Definitely not for the faint hearted.

RATING: 4.9 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Soniah Kamal was born in Karachi and grew up in London-Jeddah-Lahore and resides in the US where she has called myriad States home. At present she lives in Georgia where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind, Flannery O’ Connor kept pet peacocks and Alice Walker set The Color Purple. Soniah has a BA in Philosophy from St. John’s College where she received the Susan B. Irene Award and is earning an MFA from Georgia State University where she is the 2014 Paul Bowles Fellow in Fiction. Soniah's work is published or forthcoming in the Rumpus, Huffington Post, xoJane, Bengal Lights, Sugar Mule, various anthologies and more. She enjoys long strolls around koi ponds, doodling forests of curlicues. She cannot resist the drumbeat of a dhol and her talisman is a globe in any shape of size. Her favorite activity is time traveling through books. Soniah has shared her life with a sandy dog, a silky cat, two ginuea pigs, one long haired and one short haired, frogs as big as thumbnails, and a multitude of budgies and betta fish red, blue, green and yellow.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback

PRICE: Rs.200 (Papeback)


BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.in/Isolated-Incident-Soniah-Kamal/dp/8172345321/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413654192&sr=1-1&keywords=9788172345327

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Love Lasts Forever : Only if you don't marry your love By Vikrant Khanna : A Review


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BOOK TITLE: Love Lasts Forever

ISBN: 938266517X

AUTHOR: Vikrant Khanna

GENRE: Fiction -Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 248

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:  This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program and Blog Tours.  To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com"

SUMMARY :

So you think your love can last forever…?

Get married! Eighteen-year-old Ronit falls madly in love with Aisha the moment he meets her at his graduation day from a naval college. He believes he has found his perfect soul mate, and come what may, his love for her will last forever.

Seven years later, he gets married to her. Big mistake! A week later, he completely hates her and believes she has turned into a
devil.

But his perception about love and life change when he hears the poignant love story of Shekhar, his Captain, on a ship that later gets hijacked by the pirates of Somalia.

As they are left fighting for their lives; they confront if love truly can last forever…? Or does it get too late

REVIEW:

This book has been doing rounds in Facebook like forever. I always wondered how a book with that title and tag line got famous. The title and the tag line ticked me off : Love lasts forever – Only if you don’t marry your love. That statement misleading and sort of contradicts the summary. Curiosity got the better of me and I signed up for me as soon as this book came up for review from Readers Cosmos. Thankfully, after I finished reading the book, the title was justified( though it turned out to be a bit ironical).

The book back summary is rather well phrased which saves reviewers like me from the explaining what the story is all about without divulging the plot. Our protagonist is a sea farer who narrates the story partially while being captured by pirates of Somalia. The narration switches between his past, present and that of his captain’s past. There is always a factor of risk with time bound and character bound switch in narratives. I’ve read books by writers who messed up with emotions by switching timelines in the narration leaving me with a blinding headache. Thankfully, this writer sure got the switch bang on.

I felt Captain Shekar’s story was rather well written when compared to that of our protagonist’s story. This could be attributed to a fact that the writer actually completed Shekar’s story after a prolonged gap in the narrative.

Being a short fuse, I was almost prepared to throw this book out of nearest window during that part of the story when Ronit believes it’s his entire wife’s fault that their relationship has gone kaput after wedding. Why does the wife always have to “adjust” with the tantrums thrown by her SIL/MIL? Why can’t the husband actually understand that the poor girl has left her home and needs time adapting? That episode where our protagonist’s love walks out and he doesn’t really care was well written (which obviously is the reason behind “throw-the-book-out” feeling). I concluded that the writer was just another chauvinist who vented his feelings through his writing only to realise I was an absolute fool for the climax of the story blew me away (er…..I can’t tell why for that would give away the story!).

Amongst all the positives, the one thing that didn’t really impress me was the whole kidnapping drama. I couldn’t really connect with all the emotion that a person might actually undergo while being kidnapped at gun point by pirates.

The writing was simple and clean conveying all emotions intended but sort of slacked during with whole kidnapping scenario. I finished reading the book flat in day for the narration kept me hooked.

VERDICT: Intense emotions, addictive narration, why not?!

RATING: 4.3 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A sailor by profession and a writer by passion.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Digital

PRICE: Rs.114


BOOK LINKS: http://www.amazon.in/Love-Lasts-Forever-Only-marry-ebook/dp/B00LK1UZ94/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

P.S. Here is a video that features the writer! Enjoy listening.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Under My Skin (Bistro La Bohème Book 2) by Alix Nichols : A Review

BOOK TITLE: Under My Skin (Bistro La Bohème Book 2)


ISBN: 1500502537

AUTHOR: Alix Nichols

GENRE: Fiction - Romance

NUMBER OF PAGES: 180

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Bistro La Bohème Book 2

REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy as a part of NjKinny book tours

SUMMARY : "UNDER MY SKIN" - a delightful Parisian version of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" - will entertain you with a gripping story, endearing characters and sizzling romance.

Feisty bartender Jeanne and geek-turned-hottie Mat embark on an emotional and sensual roller coaster, as their paths cross at an engagement party, a baptism and a wedding... not counting all the other times they "accidentally" run into each other. 

UNDER MY SKIN is the second novel in the Bistro La Bohème series. It can be read as a standalone

REVIEW:

Having read the previous book in the series I quite knew what to expect from the writer. The story line is more or less like an extension of her first book or what Americans term as a “spin off”.

The protagonist of this book in the series, Jeane didn’t play  much of a role apart from being portrayed as Leena’s friend who has a taste for “wrong sort of man” and has this “gothic” addiction. Apparently she is a changed woman in this edition. Of course, we need a suitable hero for our “reinvented” protagonist. Enter Mat, the geek who couldn’t garner a second look from our protagonist in the previous book. He suddenly “grows” in to this ‘oh-so-desirable-hunk’ (apparently a “later bloomer” in our writer’s words). They are virtually like Tom & Jerry only to end up being heads over heels in love with each other.

To me, the story line seemed to be almost the mirror of her previous book. May be that can be attributed to the recurring theme of ‘does he love me? Does he love me not?’. To a seasoned reader with an insatiable appetite for unpredictable twists this book proved to be a through disappointment. I couldn’t help but draw similarities between Leena & Rob’s story and that of Jeane’s and Mat’s. Though the latter was a less intense and uncomplicated when juxtaposed with that of Leena’s & Rob’s story, the similarities were simply too much.

Much to my disappointment, the writer didn’t describe the backdrop of the story much. In sense, the whole Paris charm was missing. Moreover, I strongly believe Paris would be the perfect backdrop of an Intense romance unlike this story.

In spite of the above mentioned shortcomings, the book still turned out to be a nice light summer sort of read.

VERDICT: Not bad. Not good.


RATING: 3 on 5