Tuesday, October 20, 2020

~ Cover Reveal ~ Love, Scandal, and Second Chances by Shilpa Suraj

~ Cover Reveal ~

Love, Scandal, and Second Chances
by Shilpa Suraj

About the Book:
Arav has only ever loved one woman, Disha. But, she broke his heart to further her ambitions. 
Years later, she's achieved everything she set out to but at a steep price. She wants to come home but home doesn't want her and her work won't let her.
Arav knows Disha needs his help and the boy he once was can't walk away. 
But while his heart is large enough to forgive, it hasn't forgotten. 
Can they overcome the bitter hurt of their shared past, face the scandalous present and find their way back to each other? Is this their second chance at love or a first chance at redemption?

About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Newbie Corner Author Interview: Manasi Patil

 Today in 'Newbie Corner', we have Manasi Patil, a 14-year-old girl from India who is passionate about reading and writing. When she was 5 years old, Manasi had written her first story ever. From then, her journey in the writer's world has started. She has written many unpublished stories and poems. 'The Cousins Crime' is the first ever published book and she wishes to continue the series.

Let's learn more about Manasi.

Say hello to Manasi Patil...

  • Tell us about your first book.

‘The Cousins Crime’ is my debut novel. It introduces ‘ Krisha Batra’, a sharp young teen, who loves mysteries as much as a bee loves nectar! She’s a very determined girl, and values compassion in others. While on a stop at the Glazer’s bakery, the shop suddenly faces a blackout and the cashier is robed. Previous ‘accidents’ have also been taking place at the bakery, calling for a close-down. Krisha strives to find the vandalizer. The novel is very action-packed, and readers experience an adventurous feel while reading it.

  • Name your top 2 favorite characters from books you’ve read so far.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember this particular book’s name, but one of my favorite character is Jake. He’s Amber’s brother, and I’m fond of him because of his nature. He loves Amber to no extent, and is always there for her. There are times when they face challenges, but Jake never leaves his sister’s side. 

Anne, from Anne of Green Gables, too is my favorite. Her day-dreaming and imagining takes a deep place in my heart. She’s always ready to help others, and can’t withstand anyone’s sadness.

  • Which authors do you mainly read?

I keep reading new books as I discover them and my favorite authors keep changing, but my all-time favorite author is Carolyn Keene (Mildred Benson and other ghostwriters…)

My recent favorite authors are Vera Jane Cook and Ann Evans. J.K. Rowling too, has been a long-time fav.

  • What makes you write?

I have always loved writing. It’s my hobby. But I also write to inspire people, somehow, and make them speak their voice too. As I always say, ‘Words are containers of power.’ Nothing can be more powerful than words.

  • What is your normal writing process like?

I aim to write for an hour daily. When I write, I try to forget the real world and get absorbed in my character’s world. It takes the writing process to a whole new level and makes it more fun! 

Along with it, I do daily writing exercises, which benefit a lot.

  • What kind of writer are you? Do you plot the entire novel/story or make it up as you write?

It depends. I do a basic outline of the novel, but not entirely. I discover scenes and make them up as I write.

  • Who inspires you most, and to whom would you dedicate your creative growth?

My greatest inspiration are my parents. They teach me to make way through struggles and I would dedicate my creative growth to them.

  • What is favorite genre of writing?

I like to write mysteries, of all. Other genres include fantasies, thrillers and sci-fi.

  • What comes first, the plot or the characters?

A bit of both. How would you know what kind of character to sketch out, if you don’t know the plot? And how will you write the plot without knowing the characters? It won’t seem real, in my opinion. So, you should have an idea of both when you plan out a novel.

  • What message do you want to convey to your readers?

I just want to tell them to keep imagining, keep reading, and be happy!

It was fun talking to you, Manasi. Keep going and all the best to you!

Check her out on her Amazon profile here: MANASI PATIL

Author's Featured book :

Book blurb:

This Summer, nothing is safe at the Glazer's Bakery. Not even the bakery itself!
It's summer vacation for Krisha. She intends to make most of it with her favorite detective books and donuts. But when on an usual visit to the bakery, the cash register is robbed, it prompts the owner, Sneha Kaur to tell Krisha about the other sinister threats and happenings going on in the bakery.
Disguised as a waitress, Krisha tries to figure out who's behind the vicious accidents. And as they get more devastating, Krisha realizes that she needs to act quickly. Although it's the first real-life mystery the 17-year-old will be solving, her efficiency doesn't show it at all. Will her sleuthing skills be enough to save the Glazer's Bakery from closing down?  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Cover Reveal : The Wrath of Hellfires by Shatrujeet Nath

Patience is a Drawn Bow.
Rage, its Relentless Arrow.

Shukracharya’s plan to break the unity of Vikramaditya’s Council has borne bitter fruit. Friends have become sworn enemies, and brother has turned against brother, setting Avanti on the path to self-destruction.

Even as Vikramaditya prepares to counter a Huna invasion, a rebellion brews within Ujjayini, while a devious conspiracy is hatched to humiliate him. With Indra’s spies swarming the palace and Shukracharya making a bold bid to take the Halahala, the king is dangerously close to the brink of defeat.

Alone and abandoned by those dear to him, fighting to protect his wife and his people, trying his best to keep his promise to Shiva, will the Samrat rise one last time to defend his love, his city and his honour?

As the asura and deva forces muster in a final, desperate gamble to claim the Halahala, The Wrath of the Hellfires brings an explosive conclusion to Vikramaditya’s epic tale of action and adventure.

Other Books in the Series:

About the Author:

Shatrujeet Nath is the creator of the runaway national bestseller series Vikramaditya Veergatha, a four-book mytho-fantasy arc which comprises The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru, The Vengeance of Indra and The Wrath of the Hellfires. Described as “a new face to Indian mythology” by DNA, Shatrujeet writes for movies and web shows as well. His also the author of The Karachi Deception, an Indo-Pak spy thriller.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Morning Pages : A Quick and Magical way to Creative Recovery

If there is one routine that has changed me as a person, it is the Morning pages.

 It has given me clarity of thought like never before and made me see the big picture in life.

 I write faster now, with clarity and often solve many confusing conundrums while doing this daily ritual.

What are Morning Pages?

Julia Cameron calls the morning pages as ‘the bedrock tool for a creative recovery.’

Morning pages are three pages written in longhand immediately after you wake up. That is three handwritten pages.

It can take around half an hour to complete.  

It is a stream of consciousness way of writing where you just transcribe the thoughts that are hovering in your mind early in the morning.

 It is to be done without putting much focus on the grammar or the topic you are writing about.

 It is in a way making your brain vomit on the pages. 

And *most important* don’t reread them.

Why morning pages and not afternoon pages or evening pages?

Early in the morning, your monkey brain is half asleep and hence you can easily make it voice the venom it is preparing to spew out on you, once it becomes fully awake.

 Your anxieties, your fears, your dreams, your ideas, everything gets captured in these three pages that you write.

There are people who do this ritual in the afternoon or evenings and find the same benefits.

I, personally, prefer to write them first thing in the morning.

Can I type the morning pages?

Some people do the morning pages on their laptop or computer. 

It is then 750 words of stream of consciousness way of writing.

It keeps tracks of the number of words and alerts you when you reach the word limit.

Morningpages.net  allows users to write their morning pages online and save them. You don't even need to register at the site if all you want is to just write.

Again, I prefer to write longhand. There is something very satisfying about writing in longhand.

My experience with morning pages

I started writing morning pages in the first week of December. 

It is a routine I have religiously followed since then and I plan to stick with it.

The morning pages have made me more confident about my creativity. 

I don't get writer's block anymore.

They also gave me different ideas that I could implement in my life.

 Other Personal takeaways?
  • I got ideas to blog about.
  • I have written difficult scenes in my WIP that were troubling me since long after I dissected them over in this morning ritual.
  • I have tried out techniques of writing by attempting them in my morning pages.
  • I plotted an entire book idea one morning.
  • I have become more conscious about the little things that matter in life.
  • I completed one short story, which had been going nowhere, within one week of beginning the morning pages.
  • I have vented my anger and sadness in these pages.
  • I am more perceptive and grateful to the gifts that I have in my life.
  • Synchronicity has become commonplace.
I can go on and on about the benefits I have experienced after I began this routine.

How to write the morning pages?

As Julia Cameron herself says,

" *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. 

They are not even “writing.” 

They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. 

Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.

 Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

The only important thing to remember is, do not re-read your morning pages. At least not for the first eight weeks.

Write them and keep the journal away.

 If you find it difficult to begin you can even write things like,’ I don’t know what to write here’ repeatedly and fill the three pages.

Trust me, you will get enough material to write about even if you are not a writer by profession.

Morning pages are for everyone. It is like meditation on paper.

Are you ready to unleash the magic of morning pages in your life?

Have you tried this technique? Do tell me what you think about it in the comments section.

Indian Bloggers

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Along Came a Spyder by Apeksha Rao


About the Book:

At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life.

She wants to be a spy. And why not?

Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW. Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor. When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood of teen spies — The Spyders. And, she wants in!

The question is, do they want her?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt from Along Came a Spyder

Three in the afternoon is such a wrong time to be tailing someone, that too, when you’re stuck in a car that’s getting hotter by the minute. I stared longingly at the McDonald’s across the road. The orange float on the hoarding was calling out to me, but I didn’t have the time to fight my way through the crowd of college students just to join the long queue at the beverage counter.
I turned my face resolutely away from the hoarding and narrowed my eyes at the target — a plump woman with tacky gold highlights and loud makeup, stuffing her face with fries as she haggled over a pair of mojris. Our driver, Ranga, sighed for about the fiftieth time and as usual, I ignored his passive-aggressive sighs. He was just bitter because he was stuck driving around a bunch of girls, instead of some top cop.
“I was the official chauffeur for the Assistant Commissioner of Police, for twenty years. Not once was I in any danger. But in the one year that I’ve been driving these crazy girls around, I’ve been shot at thrice! The third time, the bullet missed my head by just an inch,” he’s been known to grouse.
That was a gross exaggeration. 
We have CCTV footage of the whole incident. The bullet missed his ear, not his head and that too, by a large margin. Also, if he had just kept his big head down like he was told to, the bullet wouldn’t have been anywhere near him.
But no! Catch our macho Ranga taking orders from a chit of a girl, even if said chit of a girl knows fourteen different ways to kill a man!
Yet, according to him, ‘these crazy girls’ are the cause of all his problems. Which is so unfair! It’s not like we go looking for trouble. At least, I don’t. I don’t have to, because trouble comes looking for me.
“Curiosity is one of your besetting sins,” my Baba used to say.
“No Ranjit,” Ma would argue. “Curiosity brings forth information.”
For my Ma, information of any kind was always gold. What she found really sinful, was my tendency to find trouble. Drama was anathema to my parents.
“Yet, trouble and drama follow you like a drone to its homing beacon, Samira!”
A slap on my arm snapped me back to the present.
Debbie was raving about something.
“Sammy ya! Just look at this cheap aunty. I bet she won’t mind dropping thousands in one of her high society card parties, but see how much she bargains for a pair of shoes. He has kids to feed, you mean cow,” she said, shoving a handful of chips into her mouth.
I sighed. It was way too hot for a sociology lesson. Plus, Debbie’s rants were getting a little old. It didn’t take too much to get her revolutionary Bong blood boiling, and she was totally capable of inciting a French Revolution-style riot if you let her go on. But this was neither the time nor the place.
“Debs, I don’t care how much they haggle. I just want her to get on with it,” I said, squirming on the hot car seat. My skin was starting to fuse with the rexine of the seat.
Monica Shah finally walked up to the store and stood looking around.
“Oh, go in already! You’re not fooling anyone with your dawdling. We know you’re going into Pretty Woman,” I grumbled.
“Okay, here she goes. Give her 15 minutes, then, you go in, Debs. If you can, please take some pics of whatever she does in there. Just don’t lose her, and whatever you do, don’t get caught. If they catch you taking pics, deny it outright. Your camera app will upload the pics directly to the server, so, your phone will be clean. Now, don’t look scared, and admit nothing! When you’re done, meet me at the end of the lane,” I said as I sent Debbie off with an encouraging fist-bump.
Then, I sank down in my seat, and whispered to Ranga, “Do you think we’re going to survive Debbie’s outing in the field?”
“I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t want to die so soon,” whimpered the lily-livered Ranga, in response.

About the Author:
Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).

Apeksha on the Web:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

BookBlitz ~ A Lifetime to Move On by Anupriya Chowdhary

~ Release Day ~

About the Book:

When Kumar finds out that his only daughter is in love, he has a tough time coming to terms with the fact that his Doll has grown up already. But his displeasure takes a different turn when he realizes who his daughter’s love interest is.

Sarika couldn’t have been happier at the news of her elder son having found the love of his life. She can't wait to see him happily married. But the revelation about the girl’s parents numbs her as much as it shocks her.

What is it in their past that Kumar and Sarika need to make peace with, so that their children can find their ‘Happily Ever After’.  Will they be able to do so?

Book Links:

Meet Sarika

Sarika believes that she has left her traumatic past and move on in the true sense. And why not?

She is successful, recognized and rewarded. Not only as a social entrepreneur but a loving wife and a doting mother to two sons.

She had really not foreseen that on his annual vacation to India, her elder son would drop a bomb albeit a pleasant one on them. And now she couldn’t wait to prepare for the Shagun for the girl who her son has chosen as the one for himself.

Only if she knew better. However ironical it sounded, but for her son to be happy, she had to clear a test herself. Was she prepared to face the past she had thought she had left far behind in her life?
His silence has angered her then. She had endured a lonely bitterness and worked her way through life. But had she moved on in the true sense? Probably not.  Was she ready to face her demons in person at this age?

The stakes are high. Her only hope is that her nemesis too understood the same. Could they finally patch up after 30 years?

About the Author:
Anupriya belongs to that generation of Idiots (the proud ones though), who did their engineering first and then decided on what they actually wanted to do. She completed her MBA in Human Resources and worked in the corporate world for 8 years, before taking a professional break. A mom by day and a reader/writer by night, Anupriya is a die-hard romantic. Yet she believes that love (in any relationship) is a part of life, not, the heart of life. And she aims to bring to the world, stories around this theme. She can be found in the dot com world at her blog www.mommytincture.com, which contains her ranting about her experiences in her various roles as a mother, daughter, wife and foremost a human being, all churned together. It is also her outlet to the world where she doles out loads of gyaan on self-improvement and relationship management.

Anupriya on the Web:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

Sunday, August 16, 2020

~ Book Blitz ~ Itsy Bitsy Spyder (The Spyders #0.5) by Apeksha Rao

Young Adult / Espionage
15th to 17th August

About the Book:
What do you do when your mother feels that you don’t trust her?
If you’re Samira Joshi, and your mother is an elite spy who works for RAW, the first thing you do is … hide the knives.
After that, you go straight to the therapist that she has chosen.
For, when your mother knows seventeen different ways to kill a man, you don’t argue with her. Much.
Unless she’s trying to destroy your dreams.
Then, you fight dirty. Like a spy.
Samira is sweet, sassy, and almost seventeen. She dreams of becoming a badass spy like her parents.
And, why not?
That’s exactly what her parents have trained her to be.
So, why is her mother suddenly acting like a typical Indian mom and pushing her to be a doctor?
Samira can swear on her stack of covert operative manuals that it has something to with her mother’s last mission.
Her therapist disagrees. She feels the key to the mystery lies in Samira’s childhood.
Between her mother’s drama, a trouble-making grandmother, and a confused therapist, Samira’s life is spinning out of control.
What’s a good spy to do when her dreams are in danger?

Book Link:
Goodreads * Amazon

Meet Samira Joshi

Samira is smart, sassy, and seventeen - with a difference.
While other teenagers dream of the latest trending hunk, Samira dreams of spies.
She wants to lead missions, run agents in the field, evade exploding napalm. In short, she wants to be a spy!
And why not? Spying runs in the Joshi genes.
If you look closely, her family tree is littered with all sort of spies.
Her great grandmother was the nosiest person in Ratnagiri -  the village repository of gossip … er … information.
Her grandmother was the toast of the Hindu Colony Bhajan Mandal for her Miss Marple-like skills. She could solve any problem, whether it was a missing servant, an errant husband, or a stolen diamond bangle.
And, her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW … also known as … spies!
They trained Samira to be a spy. So, why did they suddenly change their mind? Why are they pushing her to be a doctor instead of a spy?
They’re up to something, and Samira wants to know what that is.
Like her father says, curiosity is her besetting sin.
But her mother doesn’t think so.
According to her, Sam’s main problem is the fact that trouble follows her like a drone to its homing beacon.
What does a good spy do when her dreams are in danger?
She fights dirty. Like a spy!

About the Author:
Apeksha Rao is a multi genre author from Bangalore.

She is the author of Along Came A Spyder, which is the story of a seventeen year old girl who wants to be spy.

Apeksha has written many short stories based on the same series, The Spyders, which are available on this blog.
She is a voracious reader, and a foodie.

Apeksha's current works in progress: A middle grade book, a chick lit featuring a detective, and a horror novel (the writing of which is giving her sleepless nights).

Apeksha on the Web:

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Bookspotlight on Truly Madly Crazily in Love by Esha Pandey


What happens when you can't let your first love go? What happens when you keep hoping that the one that got away, will be yours again...forever?

Sue is short, vivacious and dreamy. Viv is tall, spirited and focussed. Dressed to the nines on School Social, she bewitches him. He kisses her. She kisses him back. They fall in love. But the kiss that should have sealed their love, becomes their undoing. 

Sue is truly, madly and crazily in love with him. There is no one like Viv. She pines for him, but he can't be hers. Days go by and she isn't over him. 

When she finally lets him go and is ready to start over, he walks into her life again. 

Hearts are broken. Promises are shattered. Lives are wrecked. Love is tested. 

In a tale transcending time, Sue and Viv weave a story of love like none other. Will hope, trust and love win the test of time? From Lucknow, to Delhi to London, will Sue finally have Viv forever? 

Author Bio :

Esha Pandey, is an author and a police officer. She made her debut as an author with her book I Will Meet You There, a collection of short stories.

Esha is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 2010 batch. She has a Masters in International Relations and Masters of Philosophy in American Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Before becoming a civil servant, she dabbled with the idea of being a journalist and worked with Times of India as a copyeditor. She has won a United Nations FPA Award for Excellence for the “Best Short Story”. 

Esha has kept her passion for writing alive through her tough assignments in policing because writing is music for her soul. Her TDH hero is her partner for life, her husband Rajiv, who supports her in all her endeavors. When she is not doing either, policing or writing, she is busy dealing with her two bundles of naughtiness, her sons.  She can be reached at twitter.com/PandeyEsha and https://www.facebook.com/EshaPandeyAuthor/

twitter: @PandeyEsha

Insta: @eshapandey27

Links for buying the book  : https://www.amazon.in/dp/B08DMJ7HCN

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Falling for Cinderella : An Excerpt

Chapter 1


Every once in a while, when books transported me into unknown worlds, I gathered impossible dreams from them and weaved my own little fairy tales. Through them, I opened magical portals that led me into lands where life was a long, thrilling adventure. But in reality, my life was filled with nonstop misadventures that never seemed to end.

What was currently happening promised to be the perfect recipe for a disaster. I shouldn’t have agreed to this. But was there even another option?
I winced as one of the hired beauticians worked on my untouched eyebrows. I had never felt the need to trim them. Two others were waxing my legs and arms, respectively.

“Hurry up! We don’t have all the time in the world. The party begins at eight.” Neeru Aunty snapped at the beauticians.

It was only six now. What was the hurry?

Once she completed shaping my eyebrows, the beautician set out to work on my hair, trimming them into layers and styling them. My hair felt soft like silk, courtesy of the multiple hair treatments I had sat through. I might have loved this experience if the very thought of what awaited me in the next few hours didn’t make my knees go weak.

Whenever someone entered the room we were in, through the open door, I glimpsed servants hurrying past carrying flowers, fruit bowls and vessels, getting things ready for the party. Parties at Malhotra Mansion were not new to me. Never had I been a part of such celebrations, nor had I wished to be a part of them.  
Ever since I remembered, Malhotra Mansion, situated in the city of dreams Mumbai, has been my home. When Grandmother was alive, the cosy little bedroom on the second floor had belonged to us. The day after she died, I had been asked to shift to a small bedroom in the annexe attic. My old bedroom had been converted to one of the four guest bedrooms in the mansion. That was three years ago.

 According to Grandma, if God hadn’t been so cruel, my life would have been different. I would have inherited the Malhotra Group—or the Venus Group as it had been once called. When my father had founded it twenty years ago, it had been a small-scale textile industry. Within ten years, he had turned it into a public limited company with profits increasing manifold every year. But tragedy struck in the twelfth year of its existence.

 Ratan Malhotra, the son of Grandma’s sister, had become the major shareholder of the Venus Group after the untimely death of my father. He renamed it overnight to give it a face-lift after the scandalous death of its founder.

Apparently, plagued by losses, father had taken the shortcut to escape from his troubles. I only have vague memories of that fateful day at the resort in Bali. But sometimes, I still woke up in the middle of the night, choked by tears and guilt weighing like lead inside my chest. Survivor’s guilt. I should have died along with my parents. Hadn’t they planned just that?

“I owe a lot to Ram bhaiyya. You will continue to stay with us. I will take care of you from now on.” That was what Ratan Uncle had told me on the day Grandma passed away.

Of course, he took care of me. I was packed off to the annexe the same day. From then on, the Malhotras, who were renowned Scrooges, forced me to earn my keep. Once I returned from college, I became their all-round help. I had to step in for whatever was the pressing job at the time. These days, I was a part-time gardener one day; on another day, I was doing chores in the kitchen and on yet another, I would be housekeeping. I ate food with the other staff and hardly found time to study.

When Grandma was alive, after she fought yet another time with Neeru Aunty, she would curse me and blame me for my parents’ death.

 “You are an unlucky girl, Chandni. Else, why would my son kill himself? Ever since you were born, his business started to fail. You shouldn’t have wandered out that day; you should have died with them.”

The very next minute she would apologise and cry.

“Devil take my tongue. That wretched Neeru gets on my nerves every single time. If my Ram had been alive, he would have raised you like a princess,” she would say as she wiped her own and my tears. 

I had grown up wearing hand-me-down clothes of Lavanya, the only daughter of the Malhotras, and cherished playing with her discarded toys. We were good friends in childhood and had remained so until money induced disparities started corrupting the bond we shared. The glue that bonded us was Grandma. But the bond started to weaken due to the quarrels between Neeru Aunty and Grandma.
Grandma’s fights with Neeru Aunty were always on the same topic. According to Grandma, the Malhotras were living off the efforts of her son. In retaliation for this accusation, Neeru Aunty treated Grandma like trash. She never missed a chance to humiliate her in front of her guests, after insisting on Grandma’s presence at her kitty parties. Neeru Aunty loved boasting about how she and her husband were taking care of Ram Khanna’s old mother and daughter. After each fight, their hostility increased. I often begged Grandma to not attend them. Grandma, however, found peace if she could hurl a few insults back at Neeru Aunty whenever she got an opportunity. She loved keeping scores.

Caught in between, I found solace in my books and studies. 

“You got your father’s brains, child! Didn’t he singlehandedly build the Malhotra empire? You make me proud.” Grandma had hugged me tight when I got the 9th rank in the 12th board exams.  My rank had helped me land a seat in my dream college in Mumbai. That too with a scholarship provided by a charity foundation that had tied up with the school I attended.

Neeru Aunty hated that I had gained admission into the same college as her daughter. Grandma had passed away during my final semester in college leaving me completely at the mercy of the Malhotras.

Luckily, Ratan Uncle had stepped in when I graduated with a high rank and granted me one of the educational scholarships given by the Malhotra Group for talented students. The scholarship helped me enrol for an MBA course in the same college. But after class, Neeru Aunty made sure I helped in the kitchen, ran errands and cleaned bathrooms and toilets while Lavanya, who was my classmate, roamed around the town partying. By the time the day ended, I would have energy only to crash into bed.

Somehow, I managed to do all the college work early in the morning and studied during lunch hours. My friends, Vani and Shweta, who knew my predicament helped me with assignments and exams whenever possible.

College would have been fun if Lavanya wasn’t a bitch of the highest order. Taking a cue from her mother, now a days, she didn’t lose a chance to insult me in front of our classmates. She would hurl snide comments at me randomly and she would often make me carry her things. If somebody questioned her, she would say, “Oh she is used to that. After all, she is our servant.”

It didn’t help that the Malhotras, who used to be filthy rich, were now going through a very bleak period financially. But they always tried to prove to the outside world that all was well. Neeru Aunty had by now relinquished all hopes that her ageing husband would revive their slowly dying business. She had pinned all her hope on Lavanya.

“She has to marry into a rich household. That’s the only way.” That had become her mantra nowadays.

Lavanya was beautiful and would certainly snag a rich man as a husband. She had the looks and with a mother like hers, who paraded her like some hallowed jewel, she was not far from landing herself a priced groom. But it was an almost open secret that she was a drug addict. Last night, she had gone out with her friends and had to be hospitalized after a drug overdose.

The media had got scent of the news and had hounded the Malhotras for an update.

“What rubbish! Lavanya is fine. I don’t know where you guys get your info from. She will be the hostess for her birthday party happening at home tonight. We will be sending pictures to the media and posting them on our social media handles as well.” Ratan Uncle had declared to the media right from the courtyard of the Malhotra Mansion today morning as I was leaving for college.

When I arrived at the mansion after college, Neeru Aunty had simply told me what had to be done.

“You will take Lavanya’s place at today’s party. She will be at the recovery centre this whole week. Be ready to pay back all the kindness we have showered on you.”

---Read more here:

Saturday, May 9, 2020

~ Book Blitz ~ The Songbirds by Alif

About the Book:
The Songbirds is a literary tale that goes to the heart of what’s ailing today’s world and tries to find the answers to our most pressing questions.

Amidst poetry and the innocence of youth, the love story of Kasim and Sumera sprouts in the romantic settings of Bada Ghar, the mystical house of a long-gone but not forgotten poet, Bulbul Baba, their mutual ancestor. To carve a better future for Sumera and himself, Kasim migrates West. But, once there, an increasingly westernised Kasim begins to see his for love for Sumera as taboo. So, instead, he tries to find fulfilment in London, forcefully burying his love.

However, with time, Kasim realises that the West doesn’t have the answers he is looking for and his yearning for Sumera returns, becoming stronger than ever, but a huge barrier now stands between them. Not only that, but time could also be running out because, back home, Sumera has gone on to become a fiery blogger over controversial issues, earning herself many enemies, possibly one too many.

“A meditation on love’s complicated intimacies...A stunning literary tale!”

To the free bird in all of us...

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read some Snippets from The Songbirds

~ Snippet 1 ~

The study room at Bulbul Baba’s Bada Ghar. To me, it is the most magical room in the whole world, for it has the poetry of the heavens. There, year after year, I see many bulbuls sing, competing with each other to see who has the sweetest song. There is one, in particular, a young bulbul, whose chirps rise like the scented petals of jasmine caressed by the breeze and touch the heart.

~ Snippet 2 ~

Ironically, years ago, I had taken a big leap to reach where I now precariously stood. I hadn’t known then that the hand I had leapt for would turn out to be a mirage. Not only that but in making that leap, I had let go of the only hand which had truly ever anchored me; I had let go of her hand.

Now, as my hands flail in desperation, she is the only one who can save me. However, the distance that separates us is the distance which separates the Moon from the Earth. Still, impossible as it may seem, I have to reach for her hand.

Though, there is also a fear that she is no longer there, waiting for me. For all I know, it could be another mirage beckoning me, but I have to find out. I have to leap back to her; only this time it is a leap of faith. My faith in love.

Download a copy on 8th or 9th May!

About the Author:
 I write because silence is not an option. At the   same time, my novels brim with hope in   addition to having a riveting plot. My debut   novel, which was published by a boutique   publisher in Europe some years ago, was seen to be refreshing.

My recent novel Guns and Saffron has received exceptionally good reviews on Amazon, NetGalley and Goodreads saying that it is addictive, fresh and enlightening. The Songbirds, a literary tale, is my latest novel.