Book Review – Shifting Sands: Tradecraft: Phase One by Michael Shusko

About the Book:

Shifting Sands: Tradecraft: Phase One

Iranian physicist Dr. Sara Qaderi has been leaking intelligence to the UN detailing her deadly work at a nuclear facility in Iran for months—but her time is running out. Colonel Mostafa Sabri is on the hunt for the traitors who have been compromising Iran’s national security. And he always finds his prey.

Since birth, Sara has been taught that Americans aren’t to be trusted. Now her life is in the hands of Nick Shane, an American Marine whose mission is to get her and the vital information she carries to Afghanistan before Israel drops the first bombs of the next world war. He has his own reservations about this Iranian physicist and her motives. But he also has his orders, and will carry out his mission at all costs.

Will they make it in time to save the world from erupting into a violent global conflict—or die in the unforgiving Iranian desert?

My Thoughts:

The plot is good, the story solid and well-written. Shifting Sands takes the reader into a world at the brink of war, showing us the harsh reality of the conditions around. We are introduced to Nick and his brothers on one side, and Dr. Sara Qaderi on the other. Israel is on the verge of dropping bombs on Iran, and the good doctor’s testimony may be the one thing that can stop it all. While there is friction between Nick and his elder brother, it is clear that each one has issues of their own and Nick is trying to deal with his demons.

As the story progresses, the reader is given some insight into each of the characters and their lives. However, this proves to be a little confusing since we are introduced to so many people and chapters abruptly jump to describe someone completely new. Everyone of the characters has an angle and a mission. Experience and some knowledge of the area plays a big role in this story. It takes a little while to get used to the concept and style, but the writing is simple and straight forward. As a result, it may take some time to complete the book, but it’s worth a read, especially when all the action starts! The author portrays how the war affects people and how they deal with it and this is clearly from some experience, otherwise it would be difficult to articulate and explain the emotions behind it all.

This book is definitely worth a read for those who enjoy the action and a slightly fast-paced story of duty, honor, and protection of countries and their people.

 

The Silk Weaver’s Wife – An intriguing story of two women!

About the Book:

The Silk Weaver's Wife

‘On the way back down the grand staircase to the hall, her eye was caught by a portrait, hanging in a particularly dark corner of a landing. It was of a young woman, seated at an easel; she was painting a silk moth, its eggs nestling on a mulberry leaf.’

1704: Anastasia is desperate to escape her controlling and volatile father and plans to marry in secret. But instead of the life she has dreamed of, she finds herself trapped in Venice, the unwilling wife of a silk weaver.

Despite her circumstances, Anastasia is determined to change her fate…

2017: Millie wants more from her relationship and more from her life. So when her boss Max abruptly ends their affair, she takes the opportunity to write a feature in Italy.

Staying in a gorgeous villa, Millie unexpectedly falls in love with the owner, Lorenzo. Together they begin to unravel an incredible story, threaded through generations of silk weavers.

And Millie finds herself compelled to discover the identity of a mysterious woman in a portrait…

A gorgeously written, richly evocative story, The Silk Weaver’s Wife is perfect for readers who love Kate Morton and Gill Paul.

My thoughts:

The Silk Weavers Wife is a well-written story, set in Italy and which tells of two tales set almost three centuries apart. The story revolves around 2 women, Anastasia and Millie, both strong and well crafted characters, who prove to be an inspiration for all.

Anastasia is brought up to be respectful, proper and do as her father says. Along with her younger sister and mother, they live in constant fear of her Father’s moods and hate. He only ever seems to show his love to his dog and the horses. Anastasia develops an interest in art and secretly tries to pursue the same. When she is taken away from the man she loves and is forced to marry someone her father had made a deal with through his gambling, her life takes a turn for the worse. Forced to lead a life she doesn’t want, she finds solace in her maid, who helps her find a way to escape the abuse and eventually find her way back to the man she loves. However, even this road is not smooth and is filled with learning and a journey of self-discovery, as well as healing. Anastasia travels across Europe and then to London where she learns to improve her art and then to apply it to the finished product of silk weaving.

Jump ahead to the current day scenario and we meet Millie who has come down to Italy to write a feature on Silk Weaving and how it has evolved over time. Ironically, this trip also proves to be one of self-discovery and developing a sense of respect of oneself. She develops a bond with Lorenzo, the owner of the villa where she is staying and his charming daughter. Millie learns to deal with her failed relationship with her boss, a married man, and as she researches more into the subject of her article, she digs up information pertaining to Anastasia.

As connections are made with the past and parallels are drawn, the author takes the reader on an interesting adventure. In many ways, the journey of the silk worm relates to the journeys led by both women they they finally discover who they are meant to be and learn to be content with their lives. The story moves across time as it unravels, going back and forth to give us a complete picture. The characters are well developed and deep, with the supporting characters playing major roles and contributing to this beautiful tale.

An inspiration, this story brings out the strength of women and how the love and support of those around them, helps them achieve wonders!

 

Book Blitz: Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal

Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal
Indian Mythological Fiction
~ Book Blitz ~
11th August, 2017

 

When Satyavati, wife of Rishi Ruchik, exchanges with her mother the magic potion for bearing a child, they change not just their children’s destiny, but also the history of mankind. Born of this mix up is Vishwamitra, the son of a Kshatriya, who strives to become a
Brahmarishi—the ultimate and most powerful of all Gurus.
Vishwamitra is the powerful story of a brave but stubborn, haughty yet compassionate, visionary king of Aryavarta who not only acquires material wealth through military conquests but also becomes one of the most well-known sages of all times.
Top 5 Rishis of all
time:

5. BHRIGUthe father-in-law of none other than Lord Vishnu! He is famous to have tested the three gods of the Hindu Trinity to see who’s the most deserving out of them! He is the author of the famous Bhrigu Samhita also known as ‘Laal Kitab’ that supposedly contains
information about every human being’s past, present and future.
4. KASHYAP the father of all species of life that exist including Devas, Daityas, Danavs, Manavs, Apsaras, Gandharvs, Nagas, Plants, Animals, Birds, Aquatics and many more! He gives realmeaning to the thought – Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam – the World is my Family.
3. VISHWAMITRA an ordinary human who in spite of being born as a Kshatriya reached the highest levels of spirituality and became a Brahmarishi at par with Vasishth! He is the discoverer of the famous Gayatri Mantra, and the creator of an entire constellation!
2. ATRI – another son of Brahma and one of the oldest rishis to exist. Husband of a very powerful lady Anasuya and the father of Chandrama, the Hindu Moon-god; Dattatreya, the combined Avatar of Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva; and the angry rishi Durvasa.
1. VASISHTH – the son of Brahma the creator-god is number one on the list. He is the original Brahmarishi whom Indra gifted the Divine Cow Nandini. He was the Kulguru of Suryavanshis or the Solar Dynasty of kings in ancient India and mentored many famous kings like Divodas, Harishchandra and Shri Rama.
About the Author
Dr. Vineet Aggarwal is described by many as a doctor by qualification, manager by profession and artist by temperament. Born in a family of doctors, he successfully completed an initial stint with the family occupation before deciding to venture into pharmaceutical management and currently pursues writing and photography as a passion.
He is the author of popular online blogs ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ and ‘Fraternity Against Terrorism and Extremism’ and the author of books ‘Vishwamitra – The Man who dared to challenge the Gods’ and ‘The Legend of Parshu-Raam’
 

Book Review: Henry and the Hidden Treasure by B.C.R. Fegan

About the Book:

Henry and the Hidden Treasure

Henry and the Hidden Treasure is an imaginative adventure a young child has in defending his pocket money against his little sister. Henry constructs elaborate defensive measures that he is sure will stand up to the clever ambitions of Lucy. Little does he know, Lucy has a few tricks of her own.

With a focus on introducing children to the use of ordinal numbers, Henry and the Hidden Treasure also draws out some important qualities of being a kid – such as creativity, the value of listening to parental advice, and of course, being nice to your sister.

My Thoughts:

A simple enough children’s story, this book seeks to enlighten children about the importance of listening to your parents and of having an imagination and not shying away from it. It also subtly brings out the concept of ordinal numbers and thus proves to be a useful way of teaching a mathematical concept to children.

The story is imaginative and Henry’s ideas are highly amusing. However, though it is a short story, it felt very abrupt and incomplete, as though the whole point of the plot is not yet conveyed. Looking at this from a child’s point of view however, it proves to be enjoyable and just enough to perhaps keep their attention.

This is a good story to use for both fun reading and as a teaching aid with it’s wonderful illustrations.

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

What I thought about The Man called Ove

‘Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say,’ said Ove.

Set in Sweden, this story of your everyday person and the things they face in life is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. The author takes us on a journey through Ove’s life, a short duration after his wife dies and while he is contemplating committing suicide to join her. Ove is a grumpy old man, who seems to put people off with his attitude. Little does anyone know that underneath that hard exterior, there is a wonderful man inside!

A perfectionist, Ove expects things to be a certain way, to happen in a certain way. He has a routine and he expects to keep it. When he is suddenly out of a job, he is thrown off center for a while. Add to this the death of the one person who truly understood him and accepted him for who he is and I am sure that you can understand Ove’s state of mind. If not, read on! This book is truly worth it.

We are introduced to an intriguing set of characters who make this story more colorful. Parvaneh, a pregnant lady with two children and a weird husband, seems to take it upon herself to bring Ove out of his shell. As Ove sets out everyday with the idea of killing himself, something happens to prevent it and make him postpone by a day, each day. A stubborn man, Ove has a set way of doing things and he follows the rules. He has come up through sheer hard-work and determination and all theses experiences seem to have shaped him. The entry of his wife into his life proves to add some color into it, but just enough for her to bring out the best in him.

This story shows us all sides of life and how it shapes a person and their attitude. We are shown how Ove has grown and how the people in his life have affected him. The story goes back and forth, thus ensuring that we get all parts of the story. The man called Ove, has a lot to say and a lot to teach us. It’s up to us to understand this and learn. We are also shown a side of him where he has made friends and lost them over something that ideally wouldn’t matter much to us. With a set mind and ideals, Ove is as stubborn as one can be. This story is about how to break out of this and adapt to the changes in the world around you.

The supporting characters in this story are well crafted and seek to bring out different shades of life. They are from different backgrounds, and show us various kinds of lifestyles and thought processes. The children are delightful and it is partially their innocence, coupled with Parvaneh’s bossy nature that seeks to bring Ove out of his shell. As he begins to help people again, frankly speaking, he is forced to, it changes him once more and gives him a new purpose in life.

A well-written novel, the author brings out the truth behind every person’s life, the hardships they face and the ease with which they can handle it when surrounded with people who love and support them. The simplicity of the plot and the depth of the characters make this a brilliant read.

Cover Reveal: Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer

~ Cover Reveal ~
Avishi by Saiswaroopa Iyer
12th July, 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?
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.
This Cover Reveal is brought to you by Book Review Tours

 

Book Blitz: Love, Murder and Mayhem – an Anthology edited by Russ Colchamiro

~ Book Blitz ~
Love, Murder & Mayhem
 
About the Book
Love science fiction stories that all include elements ofLove, Murder & Mayhem?
 
Then welcome to the latest anthology from Crazy 8 Press! This amazing collection from 15 all-star authors will delight you with superheros and supervillains. AIs, off-worlders, and space cruisers. We’ve also got private eyes, sleep surrogates, time travelers, aliens and monsters—and one DuckBob!
 
With tales ranging from wild and wacky to dark and gritty to heartbreaking and fun, take the deadly leap with authors Meriah Crawford, Paige Daniels, Peter David, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman Paul Kupperberg, Karissa Laurel, Kelly Meding, Aaron Rosenberg, Hildy Silverman, Lois Spangler, Patrick Thomas, and editor Russ
Colchamiro.

 
You’ll never look at Love, Murder & Mayhem the same way again—and that’s just the way we like it.
 
 
About the Editor:
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.
As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.
 
 

Take a short and fun trip in the Yellow Bus with Giggly Bear!

About the Book:

Giggly Bear's Fun Trip in the Yellow Bus

A Fun Safety Rhyme for Young Readers

Did you know that children are safer riding the yellow school bus than in their parent’s vehicle?

Climb aboard and hear Giggly Bear and his friends teach kids valuable lessons on how to ride the school bus safely.

Giggly Bear’s Fun Trip in the Yellow Bus is the third book in the series Let’s Learn while Playing.

Children 2-6 year old will rhyme away to safety while learning new concepts and building vocabulary in this fun yellow ride.

Fans of Pete the Cat and The Pout-Pout Fish series don’t want to miss this adventure.

My Thoughts:

This is a simple enough read and a rather quick one. The author focusses on the importance of wearing seat-belts in the bus and being safe.

However, though the various parts rhyme, there is one part which keeps repeating throughout. Also, there is not a lot of detail about the circumstances of the trip or what happens when they reach their destination. We are only introduced to two main characters and one of them, Giggly Bear is the main character. There is no indication as to why that is his name and I assume it is not really important to know that! The author touches upon the topic of safety at a surface level but gives enough information and stress on the topic

Overall, this book is decent and the illustrations are captivating enough, though very less in number. The story is easy to read and understand and children will definitely enjoy this book and learn something from it, in spite of the lack of detail or a longer plot!

Book Review of The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards by Steve LeBel

About the Book:

Gods vs. Wizards ~ an epic struggle for survival

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…

My Thoughts:

 In this next book of ‘The Universe Builders’, Bernie now has a job and he is working on creating universes to please their customers. This book takes off from where the last left off, with the main characters now out of school and trying to find their footing in the commercial world. It is wonderful to see how the characters have grown and changed. If you have read the previous book(s), you’d understand this. If not, here is a brief idea of the basic plot.

Bernie and his friends are young gods. They have just completed God school where they learnt the art of creating universes, how to create life and how to find out what are the elements that when combined, would sustain life. In this book, Bernie has to restore the production of a particular plant on a planet. When Bernie arrives on the planet, he finds that there is a lot more going on. As he teams up with his friends to try to figure out a solution, he is faced with problems from the people of the planet. This story is also one of discovery and understanding, of strong bonds and friendship and trust. We watch them grow and mature a little, while Bernie’s cloud becomes naughtier by the minute!

A well-written novel, this book proves to be fun to read and is more mature in the nature of the plot as compared to the previous story. There the focus was on introducing the characters and making us familiar with them and the world. Now, it is more focused on the emotional depth of the characters and the plot. The story moves quickly and it is nice to read about a developing relationship between Bernie and Susie, which most of you would have seen coming. An entertaining concept, the author brings out a different perspective on life and creation.

Everyone who enjoys a good read in the fantasy genre would really enjoy this book and the others in the series!