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.






Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book Spotlight on 10 literary works by B S Murthy

BS Murthy

BS Murthy is an Indian novelist, playwright, short story, non-fiction 'n articles writer, translator, a 'little' thinker and a budding philosopher in ‘Addendum to Evolution: Origins of the World by Eastern Speculative Philosophy’ that was originally published in The Examined Life On-Line Philosophy Journal, Vol. 05 Issue 18, Summer 2004.

Born on 27 Aug 1948 and schooled in letter-writing, by 1983, he started articulating his managerial ideas, in thirty-odd published articles. However, in Oct 1994, he began penning Benign Flame: Saga of Love with the ‘novel art' and continued his fictional endeavors in ‘plot and character’ driven novels, Jewel-less Crown: Saga of Life and Crossing the Mirage: Passing through youth. 

Then entering the arena  of non-fiction with a ‘novel’ narrative in Puppets of Faith: Theory of Communal Strife, possibly a new genre, he ventured into the zone of translations for versifying  the Sanskrit epics, Vyasa’s Bhagvad-Gita (Treatise of self-help) and Valmiki’s  Sundara Kãnda (Hanuman’s Odyssey) in contemporary English idiom. 

Later, ascending Onto the Stage with Slight Souls and other stage and radio plays, he returned to fictional form with Glaring Shadow - A stream-of-consciousness novel and Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel to finally reach the short story horizon with Stories Varied - A Book of Short Stories. 

While his fiction had emanated from his conviction that for it to impact readers, it should be the soulful rendering of characters rooted in their native soil but not the hotchpotch of local and alien caricatures sketched on a hybrid canvas, all his body of work was born out of his passion for writing, matched only by his love for language, which is in the public domain in umpteen ebook sites https://g.co/kgs/q6fp5o

Some of his published articles on management issues, general insurance topics, literary matters, and political affairs in The Hindu, The Economic Times, The Financial Express. The Purchase, The Insurance Times, Triveni , Boloji.com are  at https://independent.academia.edu/BulusuSMurthy 

He, a graduate mechanical engineer from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, India, is a Hyderabad-based Insurance Surveyor and Loss Assessor since 1986. 

He takes a keen interest in politics of the day, has an ear for Carnatic and Hindustani classical music and had been a passionate Bridge player. 

 He is married, to a housewife, has two sons, the elder one a PhD in Finance and the younger a Master in Engineering. 

1_ Benign Flame:Saga of Love


Roopa marries Sathyam, hoping that he would help her become a doctor but as he fails her, feeling let down, she insensibly seeks lesbian solace in her friend Sandhya’s embrace. Soon, in a dramatic sequence of events, Tara, a suave call girl, tries to rope Roopa into her calling; Roopa herself loses her heart to Sandhya's beau Raja Rao, and Prasad, her husband’s friend falls for her. And as Prasad begins to induce Sathyam to be seduced by whores to worm his way into her affections, Roopa finds herself in a dilemma. But as fate puts Raja Rao into Roopa’s arms in such a way as to lend novelty to fiction, this ‘novel’ nuances man-woman chemistry on one hand, and portrays woman-woman empathy on the other.

Who said the novel is dead; 'Benign Flame' raises the bar as vouched by -

The plot is quite effective and it’s a refreshing surprise to discover that the story will not trace a fall into disaster for Roopa, given that many writers might have habitually followed that course with a wife who strays into extramarital affairs - Spencer Critchley, Literary Critic, U.S.A.

The author has convinced the readers that love is something far beyond the marriage tie and the fulfillment of love can be attained without marriage bondage. The author has achieved a minor revolution without any paraphernalia of revolution in the fourth part of the novel – The Quest, India.

The author makes free use of – not interior monologue as such, but – interior dialogue
of the character with the self, almost resembling the dramatic monologue of Browning. Roopa, Sandhya, Raja Rao and Prasad to a considerable extent and Tara and Sathyam to a limited degree indulge in rationalization, trying to analyse their drives and impulses – The Journal of Indian Writing in English.

Overall, Benign Flame is a unique attempt at exploring adult relationships and sexuality in the contemporary middle-class. All the characters come alive with their cravings and failings, their love and their lust. Benign Flame blurs the lines and emphasizes that life is not all black and white - it encompasses the full spectrum of living. - Indian Book Chronicle. 

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


2_ Crossing the Mirage - Passing through Youth



If passing through youth was like crossing the mirage of life for Chandra and Nithya, it proved to be chasing the mirage of love for Sathya and Prema though for plain Vasavi, Chandra's pitiable sibling, it was the end of the road.

As life brings Chandra, who suffers from an inferiority complex for his perceived ugliness, and Nithya, who was bogged down being jilted by Vasu, together, they script their fate of fulfillment.

And as poetic justice would have it, Sathya, who caused Prema's heart burn, himself was led down the garden path by Kala, doing a Sathya on Sathya.

Just not that, life has in store just deserts for Vasu owing to Nithya's retribution as he tries to stalk her. Besides, after many a fictional twist and turn, the way the story ends, challenges the perception that fact is stranger than fiction.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


3_ Glaring Shadow - A stream of consciousness novel





In a stream of consciousness mode, ‘Glaring Shadow’ is the self-account of the life and times of a man, who liquidates his immense wealth only to consign it to the flames. The agony and ecstasy of his life as he makes it big in our materialistic world and the way he loses his soul in the bargain, only to regain it when tragedy strikes him makes one ponder over the meaning of success in life. This philosophical ‘novel of a memoir’ is a compelling read that is conducive to contemplate about the nature and scope of human relationships.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


4_ Jewel-less Crown: Saga of Life






It's perilous penning this blurb. It's fine when a man is modest about his work. It even affords him the aura of an invisible crown!

But what about his work?

Were it an art or craft, it is there for all to see. What of the literary work of an unheralded author? Well, lauding the same might raise one's eyebrows. Failing to praise wouldn't make a 'jewel-less crown' either!

Why not see, if this is the great Indian novel.

This is the story of the rise and fall of an ambitious man, the decline, and the decay of his conniving wife, the trials, and tribulations of their wayward son as well as the grit and gall of a spirited woman, who enters into his life.

This depiction of their life and times not only pictures the facets of ambition and achievement, intrigue and betrayal, compulsion and compromise and sleaze and scandal, trial and sentence, but also portrays the possibilities of repentance and resolution, love and empathy coupled with compassion and contribution, leading to the spirituality of materialism, and that makes it the saga of our times.
The story of a lifetime, truly.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


5_ Prey on the Prowl - A Crime Novel






Who could have poisoned Ranjit the realtor, Shakeel the Inspector, Pravar the criminal and Natya his accomplice?

Well, the needle of suspicion tilted towards Pravar that was till he perished with his mate, but then who was the one? 

Could it be Radha under the scanner for her role in the death of her husband Madhu and his mistress Mala, Pravar's sister? Or was it Ranjit's spouse Kavya, who owing to Stockholm Syndrome, takes to Pravar her kidnapper.

As these deaths by poisoning puzzle Dhruva, Radha, who worms her way into his life, avers that Kavya had the motive and the means to kill her spouse, her paramour and his wife beside the cop.

However, Dhruva begins to look around for the culprit reckoning that when the ill-motives of the natural suspects to commit a murder are an open secret, someone with a hidden agenda might be tempted to use that as a camouflage for his subterfuge.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


6_ Stories Varied – A Book of Short Stories


This collection of Indian short stories deals with women's dilemmas in the Indian social milieu accompanied by unique denouements.

While 'Ilaa's Ire' contrasts woman's lot of the day with her eminence in the Vedic Age, '201' Qualms" depicts her predicament, torn between personal loyalty and citizen's responsibility.

As "?" addresses woman's marital stress in an alien land, 'Cupid's Clue' is about her acting on rebound in her native place.

Even as 'Autumn Love' lets woman discover the marital void in her life, 'A Touchy Affair' makes her amenable to her man's other woman.

Just as 'Love's How's That' inflames woman's old flame, 'A Hearty Turn' brings her innate lesbian leanings to the fore.

If 'Love Jihad' bridges lovers' religious divide with a secular plank, 'Tenth Nook' creates her marital gulf on the materialistic ground.

While 'Eleventh Hour' is about woman's lust for love, 'Twelfth Tale' underscores her zest for power.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


7_Onto the Stage – Slighted Souls and other stage and radio plays


A compendium of the author’s stage and radio plays: "Slighted Souls" is a poignant love story set in rural Telangana, beset with feudal exploitation of the downtrodden dalits. Besides forcing the dalits to toil in the fields as bonded labor without impunity, the land owning doras had no qualms in reducing the womenfolk of this ilk as sex slaves in the gadis.

"Men at work on Women at work" is a tragic-comic episode depicting the fallout of sexual harassment at the workplace in the Indian urban setting with its traditional cultural underpinnings.

"Castle of Despair", built on the slippery ground of man's innate urge for one-upmanship, portrays its facade of falsity on the grand stage of human tragedy.

The radio play, "Love on Hold", lends voice to the felt anxieties of a man and a woman as their old flame gets rekindled and the dilemmas of possession faced by the couple in a conservative cultural background.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


8_Puppets of Faith: Theory of Communal Strife



This thought-provoking work, besides dissecting the anatomy of Islam, steeped in the Quran, seeks to depict the psyche of the Musalmans, shaped by the proclivities of their prophet, vicissitudes of his life and the attitudes of his detractors, which the mechanism of their umma perpetuates. More to the point, aided by “I’m Ok – You’re Ok”, the path-breaking work of Thomas A. Harris and Roland E Miller’s “Muslim Friends–Their Faith and Feeling”, this book, for the first time ever, psycho-analyzes the imperatives of the Muslim upbringing, which has the potential to turn a faithful and a renegade alike into a fidayeen.

Also, apart from delving into the ironies of the faiths that affected the fate of the peoples, eclipsed the cultures of communes, altered the course of history and afflict the politics of the day, this book examines how the sanaatana 'Hindu' dharma came to survive in India, in spite of the combined onslaught of Islam and the Christianity on Hinduism for over a millennium. This book is for those who wish to be aware of the follies of their faith and the foibles of others to lighten the burden of dogma and reduce the baggage of prejudice postulated in its thirty-four well-structured chapters.

Possibly in a new genre, this free ebook is a book for our times.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


9_ Bhagvad-Gita: Treatise of Self-help



Bhagavad-Gita is the most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue’ so opined William von Humboldt.

In this modern rendition, the beauty of the Sanskrit slokas is reflected in the rhythmic flow of the English verses of poetic proportions in modern idiom even as the attendant philosophy of the song that is the Gita is captured in contemporary idiom for easy comprehension.

The general consensus is that the in vogue Gita of 700 slokas has many an interpolation in it, but no meaningful attempt has ever been made to delve into the nature and extent, not to speak of the effect of these on the Hindu society at large. The methodical codification of interpolations carried out here puts the true character of Gita in proper perspective. Identified here are hundred and ten slokas of deviant nature and or of partisan character, the source of so much misunderstanding about this book extraordinary, in certain sections of the Hindu fold. In the long run, exposing and expunging these mischievous insertions is bound to bring in new readers from these quarters to this over two millennia old classic besides altering the misconceptions of the existing adherents.

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


10_ Sundara Kãnda: Hanuman's Odyssey 





While Mahabharata's Bhagvad-Gita is taken as a philosophical guide, Ramayana's Sundara Kãnda is sought for spiritual solace; many believe that reading it or hearing it recited would remove all hurdles and usher in good tidings! Miracles apart, it's in the nature of this great epic to inculcate fortitude and generate hope in man for it’s a depiction of how Hanuman goes about his errand against all odds. Besides, it portrays how Seetha, on the verge of self-immolation, overcomes despair to see life in a new light? With rhythm of its verse and the flow of the narrative this sloka to sloka transcreation of the canto beautiful of Valmiki's adi kavya - the foremost poetical composition in the world, Hanuman's Odyssey that paves the way for Rama to rescue his kidnapped wife is bound to charm the readers and listeners alike.  Interestingly, as the following verse illustrates, it was the forerunner of the magic realism of our times – “Gripped she then him by shadow / Cast which Hanuman coast to coast, Recalled he in dismay then / What Sugreev said at outset / That one fiend had aptitude / To grip its prey by mere shadow.”

GOOGLE BOOK LINK


~ Blog Tour ~ A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen




About the Book:

An abandoned half-human child.

An immortal warrior whose villainous past keeps him in hiding.

Two monsters in need of a family.


A Stolen Heart transports science fiction fans to the fantastic Tarthian Empire in the distant future; a wealthy but deliciously seedy corner of the galaxy. Here, powerful immortals comingle with genetically-enhanced humans and animals, aliens and androids, and secret societies are commonplace.

After rescuing a half-alien / half-human child who's running for his life on the planet Kelthia, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur named Luc Saint-Cyr stumbles onto a conspiracy at the highest levels of the powerful Thieves' Guild.

Complicating matters, the king--Luc's immortal ex--might be involved.

As if that's not enough, an unseen enemy is undoing every good thing Luc accomplishes.

But, when it comes time to give up the child to a family who can care for him, how will Luc bear to part with the adorable little boy who has stolen his heart?

Goodreads * Amazon


Read an Excerpt from A Stolen Heart


 The word arcane conjures up magic and sorcery, but its definition is "requiring secret or mysterious knowledge." To Luc, who's an Arcane Master in the Thieves' Guild, those secrets are the lifeblood of the skill. Here, he explains one of the basic rules to Senthys, who is three.
In this scene, Luc and Senthys are riding in Luc's hoversine, a limousine that flies right above the ground.


Arcane Secrets


Senthys swung his feet, which, on the short rise of the hoversine's safety seat, meant he kicked the main seat with his heels.
That was already old and it had just started. Luc leaned down close to distract him. "Let's learn some thief rules."

"Why?" Senthys tilted his head. "Don't you already know them?"

Luc stopped himself from reacting. After all, he was talking to a child, not that different from talking to Pietas. "Yes, I do, and I'm going to teach them to you. I told you there would be two rules inside the store and if you obeyed them, you could pick out a toy."

"Oh. I 'member." Like Luc, Senthys folded his hands before him. "Ready."

"You are to stay next to me at all times. You may hold my hand if you like, but do not leave me to look at things, or to see things unless I give you permission. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Say it back to me."

"Um..." The boy fidgeted. "All of it?"

Luc decided against counting--to any number. "Tell me what you understood."

"Stay with you."

"Good! That's perfect."

The child bounced in his seat.

How delighted this boy was to do well. Luc must encourage that. "The other rule is not to steal anything in this store. Say it back to me."

"Don't steal in the store?"

"That's right!" Luc patted his hands together. "What a good job."

Senthys clapped, grinning.

"I'm going to tell you something and I want you to always remember it. Honorable thieves do not steal unless under contract. If an honorable thief cannot afford something, then he must work a regular job to earn the money." Luc placed a hand on the boy's arm. "My Deshai are honorable. They do not take things without a contract. Understand?"

"Yes, sir. Can I have a contract?"

"You can have one when you reach level thirteen. At that level, you can be hired professionally."
"Are you level thirteen?"

Luc brushed at his sleeve. "I'm level forty-eight."

"Oh." The boy nodded as if impressed. "Is that better than thirteen?"

Amusing, however deflating that might be. "Quite a bit better," Luc told him. "It's the highest in the Guild. Arcane Master."

Senthys cocked his head. "Then that's what I want to be. A Arcane Mister."

"Master," Luc corrected, smiling. "Arcane Master."

"Arcane Master. I want to be that. Brinn says I can be anything."

True words. Luc held up a hand, reached across the seat, and Senthys high-fived him. "Your brother is absolutely right."



A Stolen Heart, sci fi from Kayelle Allen

Want to know when this book is available? Like to have a free read before it's out? Join one of Kayelle's reader groups. You'll also get free starter books right away. https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups/




Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She is the author of multiple books, novellas, and short stories. She's also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she's tenured.




Friday, April 17, 2020

~ Book Tour ~ Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj 10th to 30th April



About the Book:

She believes in love, family and…squiggles!

Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin's prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He's never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He's Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the 'right' man or a chance at happiness with the 'wrong' one?

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Read an Excerpt from Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj


Alisha was dreaming about tiny babies crawling all over her when a tinny, buzzing noise filled the room. Struggling awake, she located her phone on the side table and squinted at the display. Vivaan. At this hour? It was close to two in the morning.
Heart pounding, she answered the phone. “Are you okay?”
Silence was her only reply. Checking the phone’s display to see if the call had been cut off, she frowned when she realized he was still on the line.
“Vivaan?”
“I get it now.”
The quiet words had her flopping back against her pillows in relief. He didn’t sound like he was hurt or in pain.
“Get what now?” she asked, staring into the darkness of her room. There was something frighteningly intimate about lying in bed, enveloped in darkness with only his voice on the other end of the phone anchoring her to the moment.
“Everything you said. About the way people think. About the way they behave.” He sounded sad. Alisha wanted to soothe and comfort but didn’t know exactly where this was going. Instead, she waited.
“I want you to know,” he stopped for a minute and then continued, “No, I need you to know that you’re incredible. That you can smile, you can laugh, God, the fact that you can love and live in the face of the incredible assholes who make up huge chunks of our society is beyond incredible.”
A single tear rolled down Alisha’s face as she let his words wash over her. They soothed her in places she hadn’t known were still hurting.
“Are you there, Alisha?” His voice reached out to her again bringing her back to the moment.
“Yes.” She could never let him know it but for him, she would always be there.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“I don’t remember you doing anything that needs apologizing for,” she answered.
“For not taking what you said seriously. About people and society. For dismissing it the way I did.”
His words had pain knifing through her. If he finally understood, he also understood there was no future for them. A sense of loss swept through her at the thought of Vivaan no longer wanting her. It was what she’d wanted, what she’d pushed for and still….it was devastating.
“Alisha,” he whispered her name, recalling her to their conversation. “I’ve never wanted you more.”


About Shilpa Suraj:


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.




Shilpa on the Web:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Friday, April 10, 2020

~ Cover Reveal ~ A Stolen Heart by Kayelle Allen - Antonello Brothers -







An abandoned half-human child.An immortal warrior whose villainous past keeps him in hiding.Two monsters in need of a family.


A Stolen Heart transports science fiction fans to the fantastic Tarthian Empire in the distant future; a wealthy but deliciously seedy corner of the galaxy. Here, powerful immortals comingle with genetically-enhanced humans and animals, aliens and androids, and secret societies are commonplace.

After rescuing a half-alien / half-human child who's running for his life on the planet Kelthia, a glorified space pirate turned entrepreneur named Luc Saint-Cyr stumbles onto a conspiracy at the highest levels of the powerful Thieves' Guild.

Complicating matters, the king--Luc's immortal ex--might be involved.

As if that's not enough, an unseen enemy is undoing every good thing Luc accomplishes.

But, when it comes time to give up the child to a family who can care for him, how will Luc bear to part with the adorable little boy who has stolen his heart?


A Stolen Heart, sci fi from Kayelle Allen

Want to know when this book is available? Like to have a free read before it's out? Join one of Kayelle's reader groups. You'll also get free starter books right away. https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups/




Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She is the author of multiple books, novellas, and short stories. She's also a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she's tenured.




Tuesday, March 17, 2020

AutHer Awards 2020 declares its top winners



It was an exhilarating evening at Taj Palace, New Delhi that saw a heart-warming celebration of women on Women’s Day. Times of India and JK Papers joined hands to celebrate women authors who have added value and creativity to the literary space. The AutHer Awards 2020 was attended by the who’s who of the town and the hall jam packed with authors, academicians, publishers, bureaucrats, politicians, artists and book lovers, cheering at the winners was a sight to behold.

And the awards went to……..

The awards were handed over in 4 categories and consisted of a trophy and cash prize worth Rs 1 lakh each. There was a Lifetime Achievement award and a Popular choice award too.
In the category Fiction the award went to Madhuri Vijay for her book, The Far Filed (Harper Collins Publishers India)-(Literary Fiction) and Sutapa Basu for The Curse of Nader Shah (Readomania)- (Historical Fiction).
The Best Author Non-Fiction award went to Saba Dewan for her book Tawaifnama (Westland).
The Best Author Debut award was split between Rudrakshi Bhattacharjee for This is how it took Place (HarperCollins Publishers India) and Rehana Munir for Paper Moon (HarperCollins Publishers India).
The award was given to Rudrakshi posthumously who passed away at the young age of 16. It was an emotional moment for the entire gathering when her parents Debasree Bhattacharjee and Ratnadip Bhattacharjee received the prize on her behalf and said how happy and incredulous she would have been to receive it.
Bijal Vachharajani was given the Best Author Children’s award for her book A Cloud called Bhura (Speaking Tiger).
The Popular Choice Award went to Sutapa Basu for garnering maximum number of votes online.
Legendary author Nayantara Sahgal was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award that was received by her daughter who read out a soulful message by Nayantara, thanking TOI for giving her an award that she had never received earlier-a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution as a woman author.
Times Group CEO Raj Jain who graced the occasion with his presence, emphasised on the need of focussing on the contribution of women and said, “Since times immoral women have always played an integral role in all aspects of life and indeed have been at the forefront of the creation and origin of existence. Sadly though, they have always been praised out of fringes and have never been a part of the mainstream social and historical narrative.”


 The journey of the awards

The books were chosen, post multiple layers of screening, out of a whopping 850 entries submitted by both publishers and individual authors for the coveted national award, the first of its kind in India. The jury considered books by women published in India between December 2018 and November 2019.

Eminent writer and politician Shashi Tharoor who was the Chief Guest of the event, said: " Of course, things have changed very much, but the fact fundamentally remains that too much of our history, too many of our stories have been written simply by men and if you look at the global picture, the vast, vast majority of published writings have not just been written by men but by white men. Therefore the literate public have looked at the world or have been shaped and conditioned by perspectives of these men."

The jury

The chairs for the AutHer Awards jury consisted of author Ashwin Sanghi (Fiction), actor and author Sonali Bendre (Non-Fiction), columnist and author Shobhaa De (Debut), and author Bulbul Sharma (Children’s books).

The other jury members were author Jaishree Misra (Fiction), author and former Deputy Secretary, Sahitya Akademi Gitanjali Chatterjee (Fiction), author Yasser Usman (Non-Fiction), author and journalist Manimugdha Sharma (Non-Fiction), author and comic writer Arjun Gaind (Debut), Co-founder of ScoopWhoop Rishi Pratim Mukherjee (Debut), actor, compere and Director of The Study School Shivani Wazir Pasrich (Children’s books), and author Ramendra Kumar(Children’s books).

Vinita Dawra Nangia, Literary Director, AutHer Awards beautifully summed up the need for having a special award for women authors, “Why should there be an award for women authors? This is to encourage them and recognise their talent because men still seem to have a disproportionate advantage in the field of publishing. It was 174 years ago that Bronte Sisters wrote under the pseudonym of a man because it was felt women writing fiction would not be acceptable in men and although a lot has changed after that, but women continue to use pseudonyms and initials and men dominate the bestselling lists. We need to change all that.”


The AutHer Awards was hosted by popular stand-up comedian Papa CJ who interspersed his conversation with humorous anecdotes and added a lively nuance to the gala evening.

Monday, March 16, 2020

~ Cover Reveal ~ Love, Marriage, and Other Disasters by Shilpa Suraj





About the Book:

She believes in love, family and…squiggles!


Alisha Rana is not your typical single desi girl. For one, she is on the wrong side of 30.  For another, she is divorced. And last but definitely not least, she is still, gasp, a virgin!

Alisha doesn’t want much. But what she does want is that elusive thing all women search for – A man who gets her…but a man who gets her hot! She calls it “feeling the squiggle.”

Enter Dr. Vivaan Kapoor, cute, hot, squiggle-worthy. The younger brother of her cousin's prospective groom, he’s got the squiggle factor in spades. The only catch? He's never been married and is years younger than Alisha. Basically, completely off-limits.

And then there is Arjun. Widowed, older than her by the right number of years and a genuinely nice guy. He's Vivaan’s cousin and a so-called perfect match for Alisha. The problem is, Alisha’s squiggle-o-meter refuses to budge for him.

What will Alisha choose? A lifetime together with the 'right' man or a chance at happiness with the 'wrong' one?

About Shilpa Suraj:


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.

Shilpa on the Web:





Friday, March 13, 2020

~ Cover Reveal ~ Murder in the Chowdhury Palace by Sharmishtha Shenoy






About the Book:

What if someone you loved... was murdered? How far would you go to bring a killer to justice?


Orphaned in her childhood, Durga has always longed for wealth, security and, above all, a sense of belonging. She finds it all when she marries Debnarayan Chowdhury, heir to an immense, multi-crore estate. But the Chowdhury family has been under a curse that dates back to the British era. The first-born of each generation dies young, purportedly killed by the spirit of Kadambari, a young woman murdered by the notorious Shankar Dakat, the founder of the Chowdhury family and their Zamindari. When her father-in-law Birendranath dies unexpectedly, Durga and Debnarayan come down to the ancestral home in Kakdihi, a small village near Kolkata. The moment Durga enters her new palatial home, she crosses a threshold of terror. She loses her husband within a month of her marriage and finds herself a widow in a house full of strangers. Are Debnarayan’s and Birendranath’s deaths accidental? Everyone in her new family and the neighborhood appear to be friendly. Most of them have a motive to kill her. A well-meaning neighbor tells her, ‘Run from this place. You have no friends here.’ Is she, the current owner of the estate, now on the murderer’s radar?

Read an Excerpt from Murder in the Chowdhury Palace


The trees were denser beyond the pond on the northern side, and the area was unkempt and full of thorny bushes and nettles.  Debu remarked, ‘Not many people venture into the northern part of the woods from this point because the haunted house is less than a mile from here. So this part of the estate is in a rather wild state.’
‘Yes, I can see that nature has completely taken over this part. But still, let’s go there.’ I said excitedly.
‘Some other day…,’ Debu murmured. His face was slightly pale.
‘Debu! You really seem to believe in these ghosts and all that nonsense…,’ I said rather incredulously.
‘No… no… of course not!’ Debu exclaimed.
‘Then prove it! Let’s go and visit the house.’
‘Look… it won’t be very safe. The walls are crumbling, and I am sure that bats have made their home there.’
‘Please, Debu, let’s go, I have never seen a haunted house,’ I said, cajolingly. I gripped his hand and almost dragged him towards the house.
We came upon the abandoned temple first. The plaster was coming off the walls, and the aerial roots of a huge banyan tree had encroached upon the temple and gone in through the walls causing rainwater to leak into the walls and damage them further. The house was located a further quarter kilometer away.
There was a strange, sinister silence all around. Even the birds did not twitter in this part of the woods. The house with its closed shutters and peeling walls was a one-storey medium-sized building. It was dark and uninviting, steeped in shadow due to the jungle of trees that had flourished around it. Darkness echoed and folded upon itself. I walked resolutely to the main door, only to find it locked. 
‘Where is the key to this door?’
‘I don’t think anybody has it.’
I was in a naughty mood. ‘Then let’s break it open. I really want to see what’s inside.’ 
In spite of Debu’s protests, I picked up a heavy rock and hit the rusty lock with it. The lock broke easily.
We stepped inside a large hall. It was full of cobwebs and broken dilapidated furniture. Suddenly, a bat swept past my face. I let out a startled cry and drew back. I would have fallen to the ground had Debu not caught me.
‘Let’s get out of here. You shouldn’t be so adventurous in your present condition. The baby might get hurt,’ he said in a quavering voice. 
‘Oh come on... please Debu…let’s explore a bit more.’
I went further in and switched on the torch of my mobile to see better. At the center of the hall, were the remains of a havan done a long time back. The bricks used for the havan were blackened, charred and crumbling with spiders spinning their webs over the layers of dust. There was a portrait of Shankar Dakat and another of a woman on a wooden platform near which the havan had been performed.
‘This is, of course, Shankar Dakat’s portrait. And this must be Kadambari…,’ I said. ‘Who painted this?’ The painting of Kadambari mesmerized me. She was little more than a young girl in a green sari, worn without a blouse in the traditional fashion. Her big eyes were strangely life-like and sad and her long, thick, curly hair cascaded down her bare shoulders like a cloud.
‘I don’t know who painted this, nor do I care. Let’s go, Durga. I feel really uncomfortable here.’ Debu said a little impatiently. I started coughing because of the dirt. ‘Durga, you know you are allergic to dust. Come away now. I don’t want our baby to get hurt.’ He clutched my hand in a death grip, and almost dragged me out of the house.
The fear in his voice was contagious. Also, to be honest, the life-like painting had spooked me. We hurried back towards the pond. As we almost ran back and neared our home, there was a shout from the ground-floor east-wing balcony. It was Kanak. She shouted, ‘Who goes there?’



About Sharmishtha Shenoy:

Sharmishtha Shenoy is the author of the Vikram Rana Mystery series. The books under the series are “Vikram Rana Investigates,” “A Season for Dying,” “Behind the Scenes” and “Fatal Fallout”. She has also published a book of short stories, “Quirky Tales.”
Her short stories have been published in efiction magazine and Woman’s era. She loves writing murder mysteries, the kind of books that she likes to read. Her favorite authors are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. She also likes the work of Satyajit Ray – especially the Feluda Series. 
Before starting to write, she had been an IT professional and had worked in TCS, Satyam, Infosys, and Microsoft. 
She is a big foodie and enjoys Biriyani (both Hyderabadi and Awadhi versions) and rasgullas like most Bengalis. She is also a lusty singer of the bathroom singing variety.
Though she is happily married to Mr. Shenoy in real life, in her fantasy world she is wedded to her creation Vikram Rana.  You can get to her blog by typing the word “Sharmishtha Rana” into Google. No, seriously, try it.
She was born in Calcutta. She is an M Tech from the University of Reading, Great Britain and had received a 100% British Government Scholarship to study there. She lives in Hyderabad.

Sharmishtha on the Web:

Monday, March 2, 2020

AutHer Awards 2020 by Times of India: Shortlist announced



The AutHer Awards 2020 Shortlists for best women authors in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Debut and Children’s Literature were announced today by a panel of 12 eminent judges. The books have been chosen, post multiple layers of screening, out of a whopping 850 entries submitted by both publishers and individual authors for the coveted national award, the first of its kind in India.

The AutHer Awards – a joint venture between JK Paper and Times of India -- are a celebration of women authors who have added value and creativity to the literary space. The jury considered books by women published in India between December 2018 and November 2019.

The chairs for the AutHer Awards jury consisted of author Ashwin Sanghi (Fiction), actor and author Sonali Bendre (Non-Fiction), columnist and author Shobhaa De (Debut), and author Bulbul Sharma (Children’s books).

The other jury members were author Jaishree Misra (Fiction), author and former Deputy Secretary, Sahitya Akademi Gitanjali Chatterjee (Fiction), author Yasser Usman (Non-Fiction), author and journalist Manimugdha Sharma (Non-Fiction), author and comic writer Arjun Gaind (Debut), Co-founder of ScoopWhoop Rishi Pratim Mukherjee (Debut), actor, compere and Director of The Study School Shivani Wazir Pasrich (Children’s books), and author Ramendra Kumar(Children’s books).

The Longlists for the awards were announced yesterday. Seven books in Fiction category, nine books in non-fiction category, four in Debut category and seven in Children’s category made it to the Longlists. For the complete Longlistclick here.

The shortlisted books in the four different categories are:
(The lists are in alphabetical order)

Best Author Fiction
1. 'The Far Field' by Madhuri Vijay
'The Far Field' by Madhuri Vijay gives us a potent critique on Indian politics and class prejudice and traces history and relationships through a fractured family and state.

2. 'In Search of Heer' by Manjul Bajaj
The book is a modern retelling of the 600-year old legendary love story of Heer and Ranjha.

3. 'The Curse of Nader Shah' by Sutapa Basu
'The Curse of Nader Shah', as the title suggests, is a fictional retelling of Nader Shah's journey. The book follows the rise and fall of one of the world's most notorious conquerors.

Best Author Non-Fiction

1. 'The Anatomy of Hate' by Revati Laul
Looking back at the gruesome Gujarat riots and a decade long research, Revati Laul's 'The Anatomy of Hate' is an important addition to the literature of violence and mob mentality.

2. 'Tawaifnama' by Saba Dewan
'Tawaifnama' by Saba Dewan traces the story of a family of courtesans, their history, culture and music- belonging to a bygone era. It is a walk through a forgotten landscape of Banaras.

3. 'Coming Out As Dalit' by Yashica Dutt
In this deeply personal memoir which is also a Dalit narrative, journalist-author Yashica Dutt opens up about her journey of accepting her identity of being a Dalit. She also writes about the history of Dalit movements, their fight for equal rights, the caste injustices in our society and a need for change.

Best Author Debut

1. 'Paper Moon' by Rehana Munir
Set in Bombay, 'Paper Moon' follows Fiza's journey of finding herself and falling in love. When her estranged father passes away, he leaves a sum in her name hoping that she'll open a bookshop-- this changes Fiza's life overnight. Meanwhile, Iqbal tries to woo her while she is still confused about her feelings for her ex-boyfriend Dhruv.

2. 'This Is How It Took Place' by Rudrakshi Bhattacharjee
It is a collection of interconnected stories that touch upon the issues of mental health and loneliness. Some tales sound familiar and others are open ended, moving and thought-provoking.

3. 'Looking For Miss Sargam' by Shubha Mudgal
Singer Shubha Mudgal's debut book 'Looking For Miss Sargam' is a collection of short stories, each centered around music and misadventures!

Best Author Children

1. 'A Cloud Called Bhura' by Bijal Vachharajani
'A Cloud Called Bhura' by Bijal Vachharajani is a funny and interesting tale about the changing global climate and the havoc it can cause to humanity.

2. 'Flyaway Boy' by Jane De Suza
Jane De Suza's 'Flyaway Boy' is a realistic representation of how children of the contemporary era are being pressurized to move along with societal demands.


3. 'Being Gandhi' by Paro Anand
'Being Gandhi' not only traverses through the Gandhian ways having relevance in the modern world but also raises some pertinent questions on our society.


For the Shortlist, click here.


The winners of the AutHer Awards 2020 will be announced in a grand ceremony on Women's Day, i.e. March 8, at Taj Palace, New Delhi. The winners in each category will be given a prize worth Rs 1 lakh. Apart from this, a Lifetime Achievement Award will also be given to a woman author for her lasting contribution in the field of literature and a Popular Choice award will be given to the author selected through public voting. To vote for your favourite author, click here.