Delve into the depths of mysterious happenings and rebirth in the book When Shadows Turn Dark!

I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

When Shadows Turn Dark

by Vidya Anand

Published by Notion Press, March 2016

When Shadows Turn Dark

About the Book:

Anirudh is clouded with the mysteries of a past life, which he relives through his nightmares. Though his logical mind denies it, he sets out to unravel the secrets about the girl in his dreams, Chitrangada, and her brutal death.

His friends, Madhav and Trisha, support him through his inner battle.

In another part of the world, Sanjana and Abhimanyu are happy in their lives, quite unaware that they are also destined to become a part of this cryptic game.

Will Anirudh be able to save himself from slipping completely into the past?

When Shadows Turn Dark is a tale about friendship, love, betrayal and revenge that interweaves the lives of these people.

A tale about the mystical world of rebirth, and much more!

My Thoughts:

I did not enjoy this book much and I had to concentrate hard to get through it. The main plot seems to have come right out of a Bollywood script, with so many similarities that it is not so easy to distinguish which is original and which is not.

Anirudh, the protagonist, has had dreams about the death of a girl named Chitra, his entire life and he doesn’t know why. He doesn’t even know who she is. Sanjana, the descendant of princess Chitrangada, who lived almost 100 years ago, suddenly experiences changes in moods and we have no idea why. Set in a time when everyone has secrets and won’t talk openly, the concept of rebirth is frowned upon. The story draws upon the past to define the present and the decisions of the various characters take the story forward.

The characters are not very interesting or well developed. The reader is not given much to go on and it is quite difficult to relate to the characters. The women are created under the usual stereotypes of gossip, giggles and being bothered about guys more than their work or career. The men are shallow and there is no depth in the character personalities.

The story runs in two parallels, present day, and a story-line from almost 100 years ago, about which the protagonist has been having dreams his entire life. It doesn’t seem as though a lot of research has gone into the career choice of the characters and it’s ironic how they all end up in the same palace that the past refers to. Even though his friend Madhav has been shown as supportive, the characters never really express themselves and the reader doesn’t know what they are really thinking or how they fit into this story.

There is a lot of repetition of points and this acts as a deterrent while reading, making it difficult to concentrate. Also, while bringing together the past and present, and introducing the concept of rebirth, there is no clarity in the plot. When all the characters meet (this is extremely brief), there is no explanation or connection to what they have experienced. It’s just a short connection and then all of a sudden they all go their own ways. This makes the story uninteresting as it ends up flowing without coherence of thought. The story could have been brought out better with a little more explanation and stronger background information.

On the whole, however, the story is simply written and if you’re looking for a quick read that doesn’t need much thought, this is worth a shot.

Guest Post by Andrew Joyce author of Yellow Hair

It has indeed been a while since I have featured a guest post on my blog, so when Andrew asked me for the opportunity, I jumped at it. He has recently released his new book titled Yellow Hair, and in the post below, he talks about the inspiration behind writing this book. Read on to know what he has to say.

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About the Author:

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Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

Guest Post:

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Namrata has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

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Through no fault of his own, a young man is thrust into a new culture just at the time that culture is undergoing massive changes. It is losing its identity, its lands, and its dignity. He not only adapts, he perseveres and, over time, becomes a leader—and on occasion, the hand of vengeance against those who would destroy his adopted people.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage depicted actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in my fact-based tale of fiction. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. It is American history.

End of commercial. Now what I really want to talk about:

The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River.

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the Americans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties.

In 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America.

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year.

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders.

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer.

“If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

“We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long. It will be yours until the grasses no longer grow,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity.

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota.

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota.

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the warehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside.

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down.

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death.

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

Find the book and connect with the author at the following sites:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Smashwords

Andrewjoyce.com

Facebook

Review: Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero

About the Book:

Broken Angels

A Nazi doctor. A Jewish rebel. A little girl. Each one will fight for freedom—or die trying.

Imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, Elsi discovers her mother’s desperate attempt to end her pregnancy and comes face-to-face with the impossibility of their situation. Risking her own life, Elsi joins a resistance group to sabotage the regime.

Blonde, blue-eyed Matilda is wrenched from her family in Romania and taken to Germany, where her captors attempt to mold her into the perfect Aryan child. Spirited and brave, she must inspire hope in the other stolen children to make her dreams of escape a reality.

Willem, a high-ranking Nazi doctor, plans to save lives when he takes posts in both the ghetto and Auschwitz. After witnessing unimaginable cruelties, he begins to question his role and the future of those he is ordered to destroy.

While Hitler ransacks Europe in pursuit of a pure German race, the lives of three broken souls—thrown together by chance—intertwine. Only love and sacrifice might make them whole again.

My thoughts:

How would you feel to be imprisoned in a Ghetto with the bare minimum amount of food and clothing provided? How would you feel to be on the other side which is inflicting all this pain and horror?

How does one hurt people in the name of science and research? How did it feel to be a Jew or a German at the time of the Holocaust?

The above are just a few of the questions that the author has chosen to address in her book Broken angels. The story has 3 main protagonists and it is divided into chapters from each of their points of view. This heart-wrenching story, filled with raw emotions, touches on the topic of the lives of Jews and Germans alike, set in the time of the Holocaust. The three protagonists are brought together through various circumstances which alters their lives forever. The various people we meet along the way add some color to the plot and complement the setting.

A riveting story, this tells a tale of love, loss, heartbreak, sacrifice, death and cruelty among various other emotions.

The heinous acts by German doctors, justified as medical experimentation on women in Auschwitz was difficult to read about. The vivid and graphic descriptions of the reality of the situations and the kind of life people led, made the story darker and all the more chilling.

To be honest, I had to put up a fight with my sane self (or conscience) to read the book and at times I had to pause for a while to let go of the emotions that were building up while reading. Sometimes the plot sows down, but the author does justice in the way she has described each scene and the setting of the story.

I enjoyed this book immensely in-spite of  everything it portrays and I strongly urge you all to give this book a chance. It will be worth spending time on this book, it is truly about Broken Angels!

Book Review: The Amulet II (The Gallic War) by Fredrik Nath

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Read on to know my thoughts:

About the Book:

The Gallic War (Amulet, #2)

When Aulus Veridius Scapula flees Pontus his heart is breaking. He has been comfortable there for too long and realises he must find the amulet, stolen from him by his cousin Marcus, for it contains the key to untold wealth. He follows Marcus to Gaul where he fights under Caesar but despite his desperate efforts, he fails to find what he seeks. Sent back to Rome in disgrace, he continues his search, leaving a trail of blood in the streets and the arenas of the Mother City. In this tale of love, battle and family honour, Aulus follows his inexorable fate once again.

My Thoughts:

As mentioned, I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. In all honesty, I admire the way the author has crafted the tale and has written about some of the historic events, interspersing them with the story. He has masterfully used them as a backdrop for the events occurring in the story. I read this book without having read the first one and it is true that to a major extent, this can be read as a stand alone book. However, there are some events that occurred in the first book which do carry over or are mentioned in this one which it would be nice to have an idea of beforehand. Simply put, even though this book can be read as a stand alone, since it is a part of a series, it would be better to read it in order.

The story however does seem a bit of a drag in some parts, with a lot of repetition of details that have already been mentioned. Also, I noted that the story involves an Amulet, but even though it is talked about a lot by the protagonist, not much happens in the story with regard to the same. It feels as though the plot has deviated in this book, focusing more on wars and fighting. However, I choose to believe that the author has done this on purpose, perhaps to set the stage for the next book where the focus may shift.

Overall, it is a decent read with great background details. The description of the wars and fighting was on point and well done. Some of the characters were well introduced and developed and I assume the author has some tricks up his sleeve to be brought out in the upcoming books. A well written tale, it will definitely interest readers who enjoy fiction that involves history, wars and some amount of mystery!

Book Review: Under the Pong Pong Tree by Hal Levey

I was provided with a free copy of the book by Publishing Push in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Under the Pong Pong Tree

“Nothing can prepare the Chinese residents of Singapore for the tyranny that is ahead when the Japanese invade Singapore during World War II.

They get a sense of their new reality when Col. Kosaka stands in the shade of a Pong Pong tree—a tree that bears poisonous fruit—and orders the beheading of Mr. Tan, owner of a rubber plantation.

Li Lian Goh, a beautiful, sixteen-year-old girl, survives the carnage that follows, but her family is torn apart—like so many others that come under the iron fist of the Japanese.

She’s consigned to a military brothel where she is impregnated by a cruel Japanese officer. Desperate to survive and protect her unborn daughter, she manages to escape and gives birth in a Malay village to a baby girl she names Maimunah.

Capt. Mike Cagle, an American fighter pilot in Vietnam, meets Maimunah in her home village many years later, and he’s dazzled by her beauty. But their blossoming romance seems doomed when a missile locks onto Cagle’s F-4.

Love and the brutality of war are woven together in a beautiful, heart-wrenching tapestry in Under the Pong Pong Tree.”

My thoughts:

The story brings out the truth behind what people faced during the WWII when the Japanese invaded Singapore. It is  both horrifying and brutally honest. The author does not hesitate describe the events in great detail with no sugar coating to make it seem less horrific.

The story told from the perspective of a female protagonist is strong and highlights her life and what she has faced. the story is phased out in two parts; the first from Li Lian’s childhood until she takes over the rubber plantations and the second is when her daughter Maimunah comes back into her life along with the introduction of Mike Cagle, an american who only seems to add to the charm of the various characters present.

There are a lot of characters involved in the story, but the beauty lies in the way they all come together at the end. Each one has a specific role to play and they each bring with them a part of the story. The strength of the story lies in the plot and the style of narration.

The author intersperses the deeper relationships of friendship and family along with the more superficial ones. He brings out the feelings of misery, hatred as well as love amidst the backdrop of the war. The underlying message is that of trust and loyalty as well as to stick to one’s beliefs.

Li Lian may have been through a lot in the story as well as done a lot, however we are shown that she was human. She was not always right and even she accepted it. She meets a lot of people in her journey, many who help her and many who don’t and she forms bonds that remain for life. This is the beauty of the narration and character sketches. The characters are very well developed and have various shades to them some even coming across as vibrant. A peep into our history in a fresh way is a good way to describe this book.

If I continue typing I may just give away the entire story as it is still fresh in my mind. To prevent that, I will stop with my raving and say that I strongly recommend this book to all bookworms out there. This is a refreshing read and a breath taking, heart  stopping account of life faced during the WWII, and a look at a smaller war that most would not comment on.

Buy links to the book on Amazon:

Book Review: The Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

About the Book:

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“In the summer of 1947, when the creation of the state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million people—Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs—were in flight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and all of northern India was in arms, in terror, or in hiding. The only remaining oases of peace were a scatter of little villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. One of these villages was Mano Majra.”

It is a place, Khushwant Singh goes on to tell us at the beginning of this classic novel, where Sikhs and Muslims have lived together in peace for hundreds of years. Then one day, at the end of the summer, the “ghost train” arrives, a silent, incredible funeral train loaded with the bodies of thousands of refugees, bringing the village its first taste of the horrors of the civil war. Train to Pakistan is the story of this isolated village that is plunged into the abyss of religious hate. It is also the story of a Sikh boy and a Muslim girl whose love endured and transcends the ravages of war.

My Thoughts:

The story has been narrated quite well and manages to capture the horror of the situation at the time of independence at the borders. The story is based in a small isolated village called Mano Majra where the most exciting thing to happen would be the stopping of a train. This would be watched by all the villagers. The village is also one where people from different religions live together and treat each other as equal.

Amidst all the peace, an unknown person steps into the village and slowly things start happening. First is the arrival of a ghost train in the middle of the night, following the arrival of a number of soldiers. This triggers various incidents leading to slow divisions between the people of the village due to religion.

The one aspect of the story which I felt was a bit out of place or rather did not seem to fit was the love story between a Sikh boy and a Muslim girl. There was no concrete development on this front and though I waited until the end to understand the point of this plot line, I could not find any. Also, there are a few times the story seems to move away from the main plot line and these side stories do not seem to fit with the entire idea. They just seem to be there without a reason.

In spite of the above, the story is well written and does get across to the reader the situation at the time as well as the hardships faced by people. It also shows us clearly, how the people were so easily divided when asked to choose and ultimately how religion started becoming a barrier between those whose families had lived together for generations.

I recommend this book to all as it outlines a part of the history of our country in an interesting way.

Buy link to Amazon.in (courtesy of the amazon associate program):

Book Review: Once Upon A [Stolen] Time by Samreen Ahsan

We are once again delighted to post our review  of the first book in the new series written by Samreen Ahsan. The book is yet to be published and is currently available for pre-order. We received a complementary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Her first series was the Prayer series which is already reviewed on redpillows.

About the Book:

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2015…

All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…

Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.

My Thoughts:

This story is a romantic fairytale where the author will take the reader on a magical ride. The story follows Myra and Edward, and how their lives intersect. Myra lives in the present day world but is lost in her dreams of princes and kings and kingdoms. She loves everything to do with history and castles and their stories. Edward on the other hand, exists in the 15th century and has grown up seeing a particular woman in his dreams. His story is quite different, he is a prince and the next in line for the throne.

The author weaves a wonderful plot as we are shown the worlds of the two characters, the people who inhabit them, and their destinies which lie in each other. The supporting cast or characters are well developed and add much flavour to the story. However, there are a few times when the story does seem a little unbelievable, but if you put that aside and just fall into the world of magic and fairytales, you’ll realise that anything is possible.

The story is well written, the dialogue interesting and the descriptions precise enough that the reader can easily create an image of the scenes and settings in their minds. The story does justice to the theme of fairytales and has a good amount of fantasy in it that holds it strong. The fact that it is filled with romance adds further to the beauty of the book and the ending is a cliff-hanger which will ensure that the reader is left craving for the more.

Overall, this is a great read for all those who love romance and who do believe in fairytales. Do keep the magic alive by reading and enjoying this book as much as I did.