Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer: Release day blitz

~ Release Day Blitz ~
Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
12th August, 2017
Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of the Rig Veda
But largely forgotten to the memory of India
Is the Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement. But peril pursues her everywhere.
Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?
Read an Excerpt
“I am the Queen! This will be my throne!” The seven-year-old chirped leaping from the middle of the porch towards the broken mortar which served as a mock throne. “You will be my guard!”
“Guard?” the man pondered scratching his unkempt beard.
“No.” He shook his head and smiled seeing her indignant eyes. “I will be the Queen’s elephant.” He beamed.
Sukratu stepped out of the house to see his daughter in action, perching herself on the tramp Loha’s back, pretending in all earnestness that he was her elephant. He smiled and was about to set out for his duty as the night guard of the King. A sudden lightning appeared in the eastern skies. Sukratu had barely walked a few paces when a deafening thunder made him instinctively turn towards home. He heaved a sigh, finding Loha shielding the girl as if he would, his own child.
“Father, don’t go.” The girl pleaded.
Sukratu smiled and shifted his gaze towards the sky. He saw dark clouds loom over the city. The monsoon winds had started to make their presence felt. He had to reach the palace soon. “Isn’t my little Queen brave?” He called out.
The girl nodded. He saw the fear fade. From her eyes. From her heart. She knew she was the queen! Pride filled his heart. His mind ached to stay home but duty beckoned. Tearing his gaze away from the one he treasured the most in his life, braving the drizzle that would soon turn into a storm, he unwillingly walked towards the King’s residence. Sukratu’s house was in the third ring of the concentric structure of Vrishabhavati. In the centre, was the structure, that served as the residence of the king and as the centre of all trade activity of the city. Here no wealth or goods could change hands without the king’s knowledge and approval. The residences of the noblemen formed the two rings around it. The guards and soldiers forming the outermost circle with the citizens living around them.
As per the protocol, Sukratu approached General Ugra’s residence quite ahead of his reporting time— an hour before the moonrise. He walked into the empty courtyard. But the rain made it impossible for him to stand there any longer. He knocked at the giant wooden door fervently. The doors creaked as a strange woman clad in a dark indigo garment opened them and glared at him with a frown on her forehead.
General Ugra, Sukratu knew was never faithful to one woman. His superior’s romantic exploits were not his concern either. But something about the woman at the door disconcerted him. “Please let General Ugra know that…”
“He has already left for the palace!” The woman frowned before attempting to shut the door.
“What? How ca…” Sukratu’s words hung in air as the door slammed on his face and the woman disappeared from his line of vision all of a sudden. Something did not feel right. He knocked at the door again. Firmly this time, as though seeking answers. Any change in the reporting time would have been announced the day before and he remembered that nothing of the sort had happened. His knocks went unanswered. Frowning and muttering under his breath, Sukratu hurried towards an empty cowshed three houses away from Ugra’s place hoping to catch his companions who he knew would be equally surprised.
The first to arrive was Khela, the eighteen-year-old guard, holding a metal shield above his head. The newest addition to the King’s guard, Khela was related to General Ugra and Sukratu felt that his position in the King’s guard was largely a result of undue favours that Ugra showered upon an otherwise impudent boy.
“Sukratu! By the great Varuna, I should have come to you earlier!” Khela hurried towards him. Pausing for breath, he added. “Our platoon has been given a relief tonight! It was a sudden decision and I personally informed all the others.”
“Relief for tonight? That happens only when…”
“Our guarding hours change from night to day!” Khela completed in a hurry. “Now, come with me.” He turned towards the western direction and the javelin he held started to sway dangerously and came close to grazing Sukratu’s arm.
The older guard’s instincts made him dodge the cut. “Where?” Sukratu hissed, visibly annoyed, first with the fact that he was kept in dark about the change in guarding hours and then about Khela’s irreverent behaviour. “And watch who your weapon hurts, boy.”
Khela shrugged and changed the position of his weapon. “We are now going to the place.” He winked, stretching his hand in the direction. “Follow me, this is the only night we get to have some fun.”
Sukratu did not move. The place he knew implied the tavern where wine was served. “We cannot drink tonight, Khela. When do we have to report tomorrow? By sunrise?”
“You ask too many questions. The rest of us are there too!”
“That does not answer my question.”
“Well, I don’t know, and I don’t care to. The palace is paying for the wine. Are you coming or not?”
The last sentence sounded more like a threat than an invite. Sukratu had all the mind to give the youth a piece of his mind and storm back home. His daughter would be overjoyed to see him before she went to sleep. It gnawed at Sukratu’s heart every day to leave her under the care of Loha— the tramp who had begged him for shelter about six months ago and then became a part of his life. The girl liked him instantly and had begged Sukratu to let Loha live with them and he, despite his misgivings about the tramp’s origins and his unkempt appearance, could not refuse his only daughter. Over time, Sukratu felt grateful for Loha’s company. Now his daughter did not have to be all by herself every night. The guard’s home would have been unguarded if not for that stranger. Sukratu brushed aside these thoughts and had almost decided to go home when the thought of meeting other senior guards and clarifying the confusion struck him. He followed Khela’s lead, making no attempt to hide his displeasure.
When they reached the tavern, Sukratu to his dismay, found many of his brothers in arms deeply drunk. “When did they reach here and when did they…”
“Quite some time before. I just forgot to tell you in advance!”
Sukratu’s eyes scrutinized the men and women of the tavern who were serving wine to the guards. There were no other citizens or travellers in the tavern.
“Just for us, the whole night!” Khela said as if reading his thoughts, bringing him an earthen goblet.
The older guard accepted the goblet taking his first sip with a sense of foreboding.
“Where were you all the time, old friend?” The voice belonged to Tunga one of the senior guards in the platoon.
The grin on his friend’s face brought a smile to Sukratu’s lips. “Tunga, what is this about the sudden change in our guarding hours?”
“The King… that imbecile, has finally remembered that we are human too!” Tunga guffawed, emptying his goblet, waving vigorously at a woman of the tavern who obliged with a seductive wink.
She approached them, skilfully distributing her attention between both the men, winking at Tunga and pouting her lips at Sukratu. Her brows rose at Sukratu’s filled cup. “Don’t keep the Sura nor this Sundari waiting, my love…” Serving Tunga his wine, she placed her fingers upon Sukratu’s shoulders, digging her nails into his skin for a moment locking her gaze with his and turned around swiftly, letting her light upper garment rest on his face for a fleeting moment.
It was a wilful invitation and Sukratu knew it. His attention though was caught by the colour of the garment. The Indigo hued garment! All the women of the tavern wore clothes of the same colour. So did the woman he saw in General Ugra’s house! Was Ugra at home while the woman lied that he was at the palace? If the General and the whole platoon of the night guard were lying down drunk, who was minding the security of the King? Sukratu looked at the rest of the guards. No one seemed sober enough to talk. The only sober man Khela had disappeared!
“By the great Varuna!” Sukratu exclaimed aloud and rushed out, pushing the woman who tried to stop him away.
He raced to the King’s residence, as fast as his legs could carry him. The huge wooden gates of the structure were closed and secured from inside. The rain lashed drowning his cries. Misgivings regarding the King’s welfare made him shudder. He had to meet General Ugra. Something told him that the General had his own reasons to send the whole platoon of guards to enjoy a drunk night. He was a guard who had sworn to protect the King with his life. The general owed him an answer. Sukratu rushed to General Ugra’s house determined to confront him.
That, Sukratu realized was the biggest mistake of his life.
At the gates of the general’s residence he saw a familiar figure hurrying out of his house, a heavy bundle on his shoulders. “General Ugra!” he called out, feeling relieved.
The figure started, and the bundle fell to the ground. Sukratu came to a sudden halt as he realized it wasn’t a bundle after all, but a blood-drenched corpse. A stroke of lightning from the sky revealed the face and the very familiar greying curls. Sukratu froze for a long moment before he could speak.
 “K… King…”
Something hit him on the head even before he could utter the name. Sukratu staggered, reeling at the impact, clutching at his long sword in a vain attempt to defend the next move.
“Finish him!” The General shout behind him.
Before he turned around, Sukratu felt the cold metal tear into his back. Lightning struck revealing the contours of the person. Khela! The javelin stabbed him again. Thunder drowned his screams. Falling to the ground with the weapon still stuck to his back, Sukratu lifted his sword and managed to slash Khela’s palm though the latter, unlike him was vigilant and alert. Crawling away from the menacing duo, knowing very well that he could not last more than a few moments, Sukratu’s thoughts, went to his innocent daughter. She would now languish as an orphan remaining in dark about the monsters who killed her father. Or would they kill her too?
Sukratu would never know.
About the Author:
Saiswaroopa is an IITian and a former investment analyst turned author. Her keen interest in ancient Indian history, literature and culture made her take to writing. Her debut novel Abhaya, set in the times of Mahabharata was published in 2015. Avishi, her second novel set in Vedic India explores the legend of India’s first mentioned female warrior queen Vishpala.
She holds a certificate in Puranas from Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She is also trained in Carnatic Classical music and has won a state level gold medal from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.

 

Breathing two worlds by Ruchira Khanna: Book Review

Book: Breathing two worlds
Author: Ruchira Khanna
Published: 24th April, 2017
Number of pages: EBook, 181

About the book:

Neena Arya, a Delhi-born goes abroad for further studies and decides to settle down there. Determined to be a ‘somebody’ from a ‘nobody’ she blends with the Americans via the accent and their mannerisms while having a live-in relationship with her European boyfriend, Adan Somoza.

When illness hits home, Neena rushes to meet her ailing dad. Tragedy strikes and amidst the mingling with relatives and friends, she finds herself suffocated with the two different cultures that she has been breathing since she moved to the United States. How will she strike Continue reading

Pishacha by Neil D’ Silva




Name of the book: Pishacha
Author: Neil D’Silva

The Story:


On the outside, he is a Pishacha – a terrifying demon compelled to eat human flesh to survive. Yet, inside, he has a tender heart that still pines for the lover of his previous human birth.

More than a century later, when he discovers that his lover has been reborn in a rich Mumbai household, and is now a beautiful woman, his heart begins to beat again with a happy rhythm.

There are monumental obstacles in his path though, the least of which is the fact that she loves another man. But, the biggest challenge is that she is human and he is demon.

To make her his, he will have to become human again; and to accomplish that, he will have to fight holy men and witch-mothers and giants, and challenge the gods themselves.

From the best-selling author of Maya’s New Husband, comes a tragic tale of forbidden love — Pishacha.





Here’s your chance to win a paperback of Pishacha, the upcoming novel from Neil D’Silva

All you have to do is to guess the five main characters’ names (look at the image below).
1. Post your replies in the comments below. 
2. Only one reply per person. Edited comments won’t be accepted.
3. The first person with 5 all-correct answers gets the paperback. 
4. The Winner will be announced on eBook launch date (December 5, 2016) on the Pishacha eBook Launch Event Page here.
5. The book will be dispatched to the winner upon the paperback release.
6. Winners will be chosen at the sole discretion of Kaffeinated Konversations.


About The Author 



Neil D’Silva is the author of three books. His debut, Maya’s New Husband, tells the tale of a woman who finds herself trapped in the wrongest kind of marriage, and the subsequent horrors that unfold upon her. His second book, The Evil Eye and the Charm, consists of three short tales of the Indian lemon-chili charm, each of which raises the perpetual debate between rationality and superstition using horror as their narrative element. His third book, Bound in Love, is a collection of eight short stories of dark and twisted human relationships.

Neil D’Silva also finds himself published in two anthologies. The first is Vengeance, an anthology put forward by Wrimo India, India’s arm of the global NaNoWriMo organization. The second is When They Spoke, which is a collection of winning stories of a short story competition organized by Readomania and the Delhi Literature Festival.

His stories and writings have appeared in the American MONSTER! magazine. He regularly puts up new stories on his website at NeilDSilva.com.

Maya’s New Husband has stayed on the Amazon bestseller charts ever since it was published in January 2015. The book is now on its way to be translated into a movie.

Neil D’Silva is one of the many contemporary writers who have tasted success through self-publishing. His primary platforms are the Amazon Kindle. He is invited to speak about his journey with self-publishing to various cities across India. 

He is also the founder of For Writers, By Authors (FWBA), India’s most vibrant author-reader community on Facebook that has close to 10,000 members. He is the creator of the Mumbai litfest Litventure as well.


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Equinox by Madhuri Maitra

 

Read some reviews:

1. Sundari Venktaraman
2. Ashwini Gopalkrishnan
3. Nikita Jhanglani

The Story:

When Indus Publishers announces a short story competition, it affects the lives of the ensemble cast in unexpected ways. A jaded journalist, a bored housewife, a starry-eyed ambitious girl, an army colonel, an impoverished divorcee-all enter the competition for pressing reasons of their own. They emerge with only slightly deeper pockets than they had but far richer in experience. Social issues are explored in an engaging manner, entwined in the lives of the characters- this is indeed the way of life. The novel also promises an enchanting look at the diversity in India; the characters belong to different Indian states and embody the peculiarities of the people of that region. Equinox and its checkered characters step to music of their own; many readers will find that it resonates with their own inner music.





You can buy the book @

About The Author 

Always an avid reader, dreaming of delighting her own readers someday, Madhuri published her first two books in 2014. Haiku and other Micropoetry is a collection of short verse on nature and on life; while Equinox is a novel dealing with urban realities. While the former is pithy and thought-provoking, the latter is a simple reflection of modern lives.


Madhuri lives and teaches in Pune. Films are as close to her heart as books are; she teaches Film Appreciation in addition to Creative Writing. She enjoys bringing her favourite authors and films to young minds. She also conducts workshops for children and adults. She has also written and published papers on films and on writing.


She is currently enjoying the monsoon, immersing herself in her personal library and nurturing ideas for her third book.
 




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Optimal Exposure by Dan Rogel: Book Review

Book: Optimal Exposure
Author: Dan Rogel
ISBN: 978-1539103905
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: 1st November, 2016
Book type: Mystery
Number of Pages: E-book, 276
Price: $13.45 (for paperback)

About the Book:

A visit to an Indian festival by a photographers’ expedition turns into a riveting murder case.

A group of world-travelled photographers losses two of its members in unexplained circumstances. When the son of one of the victims decides to investigate on his own, he retrieves disturbing discoveries revealing unknown information about his late father. A bright police investigators and his talented team join the investigation in attempt to solve a mystery, in the context of photography commerce and international travel.

Travel the world with this realistically written tale while solving a gripping murder mystery.

Optimal Exposure is a memorable novel that skilfully weaves personal experience and rare writing talent to bring about an enthralling and pleasurable read. It is a gripping thriller with a rapidly unfolding plot and nuanced characters that will grab your attention from beginning to end.

My Review:

A murder mystery where you get to see the photographic world through the words of the author. Quite a gripping which you won’t feel like putting down once you start reading the book. The starting of the book is good and in the beginning only the book hypnotizes the reader.

The story doesn’t have too many characters to confuse the reader and also all the characters are well developed. The story unfolds in a very interesting way. Almost all the members of the ‘Photographer’s Group’ are under suspicion especially Bar and Shuky. Also I liked the way the mystery is resolved at the end. I really liked the photographic world and a photographer’s work explained in the book.

But one thing I wanted was that there was a little more of Shemesh’s and Hagit’s personal life and their story.

About the Author:

Dan Rogel is a senior scientist, who worked for many years in the Israeli defense industry, where significant achievements bear his name. He has twice received (an exceptional phenomenon) the most prestigious award in the country – the Israeli Defense Award. He also spent many years initiating start-up ventures in the development of technologically advanced medical devices. Throughout his life, he has dedicated much of his time to photography and has acquired considerable expertise in this field.

Since his retirement, several years ago, he writes thrillers and also travels around the world to places suited to photographing nature (Africa, the Amazon Forests, the North Pole).

He bases the content and the background of the stories in his books on his professional experience in these fields. Until now, his books have only been published and distributed in Israel, in Hebrew and online for reading on computers and the like.

His books have won acclaim from a steadfast audience that faithfully follows his stories and his photographs.

My Rating: 4/5

My Verdict:

Do you like suspense, thriller or murder mystery books? Then you will enjoy reading this book. Add it to your reading list.

Buy here

Amazon.com
Pic source

The Lively Library & an Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund



Name of the book: The Lively Library & An
Unlikely Romance
Author: Niranjan Navalgund

Read some reviews:

1. Floryie
2. Preethi Venugopala 
3. Kavya Janani 

The Story:


Unknown to Nayan, the library he inherits from his deceased father, is a mysterious place. Hiriya Halepu, Pu.Nayaka, Kapshi and and many others live there. They have a secret world with celebrations, romances, pangs of separation and conflicts. This is the Book-World. As two souls in this world fall in love, they encounter a strange predicament that separates them from each other. Things go from bad to worse when an unknown enemy sends a threat of destruction to this whole mysterious world. They call their resolute protector, Helmine, who unravels many unknown facets of this world, in an attempt to save it from the danger. The lovers struggle to find each other, and Helmine tries hard to decipher the threat messages. But will she be able to save this world from destruction? Will the two souls in love be united? There are no easy answers. Because, this is no ordinary Library, this is the place where books come to life.





You can buy the book @

About The Author 



Niranjan Navalgund is a young chess professional who derives great pleasure in learning about life through the game of chess. He is a former National U-17 Chess Champion and a Commonwealth Silver medalist in the U-18 Category. He has been conferred with ‘Indradhanushya’ (2007) ‘Giants International Award’ (2009), ‘Kreeda Ratna’ Award (2010) and ‘Belgaumite of the year’ Award (2012) for his achievements in the field of Chess. He is a lover of words and occasionally tries his hand at writing stories and poems. He believes that writing is a wonderful exercise for the soul. Being a bibliophile, he harbours a special interest in the New Age Philosophy. Unusual stories excite him. He hopes to visit the Panda Zoo, someday. Niranjan lives with his family in Belagavi.




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Go to Book No. 57 >> Fantastic 40: A Collection of Micro Stories by Reetwika Banerjee

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