Check out what Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of bestselling novel turned motion picture, Pay It Forward, has to say about her upcoming novel!

Allie and Bea have both lost everything.
Now they have nothing to lose.

Allie and Bea
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

On Sale: 23rd May 2017

About the Author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 32 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list, and has been translated into more than two dozen languages in 30 countries. More than 50 of her short stories have been published in journals, and her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories. Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with
AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

A Conversation with the Author: (taken from the official press release).

Q: When readers are first introduced to Bea and Allie, both characters are at a point where they
have lost everything. Bea has fallen prey to a telephone scam and has nothing left but her cat and
her van, while Allie has been forced to live in a juvenile group home after her wealthy parents
are arrested for tax fraud. There is a quote in the book about this that is particularly striking:
“All her life Bea had felt fear, especially fear of the lack that seemed to hide around every
corner, and all her life she’d been ruled by it. But now she had a new secret weapon: nothing to
lose. And that was a freedom the likes of which Bea had never known.” In a way, it isn’t until
they hit their respective rock bottoms that Bea and Allie are truly free. What do they each gain
by losing seemingly everything?
A: It’s an interesting phenomenon, the freedom that comes from losing everything. It remains largely
theoretical because no one wants to test it out if they can possibly avoid it. But I’ve had little glimpses
into the feeling. I think most of us have. Our fear seems to stem from the idea that we have something
that could be lost, and that we are nothing without it. But once we are in that “lack situation,” the one
we once thought was nearly akin to death, we realize we’re still alive and our life goes on. And in
some very basic way we continue to be “okay,” though the definition of that word might shift. I do
think it changes us. Having faced our worst fears, the timidity we carried with us through the world
tends to fall away. It’s one of those odd aspects of the human condition that are a novelist’s life blood.

Q: As the income gap between America’s rich and poor continues to widen, many experts
suggest that we now live in an era of drastic economic inequality. Your novel brings together two
individuals who come from either end of the economic spectrum: Bea, who was already living
from Social Security check to Social Security check, is now penniless, while Allie is a teenager
who is accustomed to a life of affluence and luxury until her parents are arrested. What made
you want to pair these two characters together, and what were you hoping they could learn from
each other?
A: Some of these themes were not as premeditated as people might think. I made Bea economically
strained because the plot needed her to be. I knew I wanted a—well, I hate to say “dishonest” because
I’m not sure that’s true in Bea’s heart of hearts—but let’s say an “honesty challenged” character. Then
I wanted to throw that character together with a scrupulously honest one. Allie I chose to be more
affluent, probably because that helped create the contrasts that make good stories—both between her
experience and Bea’s and between her old life and the one in which she suddenly finds herself. And
the things they (and I) learned from the pairing involved a few interesting surprises.

Q: So many senior citizens are targeted in scams these days. In fact, New York City currently
has an ad campaign running in taxi cabs warning people about phone scams just like the one
that Bea is a victim of. Did you have any real life inspiration for her situation or her character?
A: Well, I live in the world, which I think is my real-life inspiration for everything I write. And while
Bea is not based on anyone I know, I have certainly seen a reflection of her struggles in the real people
all around me. My mother lived with me for the 25 years of her retirement, and I watched her struggle
to understand the technological world in which we now live. I watched her collect her Social Security,
wondering exactly how she would manage to live on such a small monthly payment if she didn’t have
family. I think I’m most aghast at the “scam culture” that seems to have no heart—the catfishers who
prey on the lonely and the financial scams that disproportionately affect the elderly. I don’t understand
how anyone could rob another human being of the one thing they can least afford to lose. And
anything I can’t understand is likely to come up in my novels.

Q: In addition to the differences in their economic backgrounds, Allie and Bea must also contend
with the generational divides that separate them. You yourself are closer in age to Bea, although
you write about both characters with a great deal of empathy, nuance, and believability. Was one
character harder to write for than the other, and what are some of the unexpected benefits of
spending time with people who are younger or older than us?
A: Both characters were easy to write for me, probably for the same reason that I am equally
comfortable writing from the point of view of a male or female character. I try to get underneath the
thin veneer of our differences and write from that deeper place in which we are all human. We all want
the same basic things—love, safety, acceptance—and we all have the same basic fears (whether we
admit them or not). Once you find that place, differences such as age or gender begin to seem quite
trivial. Plus, when writing young characters, my own arrested development helps a lot!
As to the benefits of spending time with people of different generations, the more we get over—or
under, or around—what we think of as our differences, the more we see how much we all have in
common. Life can only get better from there.

Q: At certain points in the novel, Bea and Allie are forced to resort to theft and deceit in order
to pay for things like gas and food. Stealing and dishonesty don’t necessarily come naturally to
either Allie or Bea, but the ways in which they wrestle with and justify these seemingly immoral
acts is quite interesting. In what ways do you think fighting for survival can change the nature of
“right” and “wrong”? How did you negotiate that tension as an author?
A: Some of this was unplanned when I began writing the novel. The original idea was that Bea had
turned into a scammer and Allie was honest, and Allie would help Bea see the light. Seems almost
laughably simplistic, looking back. This is not to say honesty is not good. Of course it is. But we have
these seniors (and others) living in poverty. They were promised security if they played by the rules
and paid into their government funds. The rich are getting so much richer, and so many people like Bea
have next to nothing. Many don’t even have what they need to survive. Everybody has the right to
assure his or her own survival, so to say to someone like Bea, “Now, now. No taking what isn’t
yours…” well, it seems downright immoral. Why do we live in a system where the very stuff of
survival is not within her reach? And Allie, she has to learn that it was naïve to be as staunchly pro-honesty as she has been, because until now she has never wanted for anything in her life. As a novelist, these are the situations I thrive on. They refuse to be black and white, no matter how badly we want them to be. So this was a process of discovery for me, a series of happy surprises that sprang up as I
went along.

Q: Allie and Bea’s journey together becomes something of an unconventional road trip. Were
you inspired by any of the classic road narratives from literature while you were writing this
book?
A: The road trip has always been a passion of mine, as long as I’ve been writing. My first novel,
Funerals for Horses, is a road trip. As is Becoming Chloe, Take Me with You, to a smaller extent
Chasing Windmills… and I may even be forgetting one or two. I’m sure I have enjoyed reading classic
road trip novels in the past, but none spring to mind now. What comes up strongly is my own love of
travel. I have driven and camped and hiked through so many of these places, and they have changed
me and become part of me. I guess it was inevitable that they would spill out into the work.

Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about the setting for this novel and what this area of
California means to you?
A: Part of it is my beloved home. I live in Cambria. San Luis Obispo, the place where Allie and Bea
were thrown together, Morro Bay where they first had breakfast, that overnight in Cambria… the
zebras on the Hearst property and the elephant seals just north of town… it’s all my backyard. And
I’ve done quite a bit of traveling along the coast, once with my mother starting at the top of Oregon,
once with just my dog Ella all the way home from the Canadian border. It’s a deeply familiar place for
me, with such striking scenery that it was crying out to be the backdrop for a story.

Q: When they first meet, Allie and Bea are both technically homeless and have no real family to
rely on. In what ways does their time together change their notions of what “home” and “family”
can mean?
A: Family is a concept with a practical necessity. And it’s a concept that comes up again and again in
my novels. We need community, we need the support of others. So what do we do when all of our
“others” fall away, or can’t meet our needs? The answer seems to be that we find what we need in
unexpected places. Allie and Bea are not exactly “made for each other.” Their relationship is a scratchy
one. Then again, isn’t that true with most of our blood family? I think, more than anything else, they
learn that if two people have the other’s best interest at heart, they can fill each other’s needs against
almost any odds.

Book Review: A Way Back Into Love (Love, #1) by Veronica Thatcher

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Title: A Way Back into Love

Author: Veronica Thatcher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Notion Press

 Blurb:

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love…well, that makes everything complicated. And when you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.

 Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life gets turned upside-down when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home…to the man she left behind?

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32998245-a-way-back-into-love

 Buy links: Paperback – http://www.amazon.in/Way-Back-Into-Love/dp/1946641170/

                                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946641170/

                             eBooks – https://www.amazon.in/dp/B06WRR5FN3

                                                https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WRR5FN3/

Author Bio:

Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!

 Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it. You can reach Veronica through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Wattpad and Gmail.

 Author Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorthatcher/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/merderlover1

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/merder32

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16087807.Veronica_Thatcher

  Excerpt:

 Emily stepped back from him and shook her head. “Oh, you know damn well what I mean. You know what, Derek? I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m so done with this conversation and I’m so done with you,” Emily spat out angrily before brushing past him.

 “Emily, wait,” Derek said, catching her by her arm. “Where are you going?”

 Emily spun around and gave him a bitter look before looking down at his hand gripping her arm. “Leave my arm,” she said in a low yet threatening voice, “And why do you care where I’m going? It’s none of your business.”

 Derek didn’t leave her arm in spite of her warning and said, “Em, you’ve had too many drinks. You can’t drive in this condition. I’ll drop you home.”

 Emily jerked her arm free from his grasp and replied in a bitter voice, “Thank you, but no. I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home on my own. I don’t need you to drop me home. Do you get it, Derek Thorpe? I DON’T NEED YOU!” Emily yelled the last words, causing a few people to look their way.

My Thoughts:

A Way Back Into Love is a story of finding yourself and standing up for what you want. Step forward and ask, talk, otherwise you can lose it forever. This is what the protagonist, Emily, realizes, after she gets her heart broken. However, the plot runs on the basis of a series of events, which result due to what seem to be minor misunderstandings, until they finally get together and blow up at once.

The characters are likeable, though sometimes I felt like putting my hands Emily and giving her a shake! She could get rather annoying with her thoughts flying all around the place. But, the strength that she has to walk away, to try to live a life in a different place, change her and shape her into a better person. Also, the support from family and friends counts a lot and we can see how this affects the characters!

I enjoyed the concept of self-discovery, and this story is something that most people can relate to. The author’s style of writing is simple and though the concept is a tiny bit cliched, it is a rather enjoyable read.

Book Review: Granjy’s Eyes by Matt McAvoy

About the Book:

Granjy's Eyes

Meet Ollie.
Well-educated and spoilt – a rich kid, fun-loving party-goer and brutal sociopath. Ruthlessly arrogant Ollie takes what he wants, when he wants it. But Ollie’s going to learn, the hard way, that for every action there’s a consequence, and for every bounty a price.

Because living with Granjy isn’t the bed of roses he thought it was going to be; the blind old lady sees everything – sees him – and most of all sees the monster he is becoming. It was she that made him rotten-to-the-core, and now his payment is due – Ollie will tear apart his own dark soul, and Granjy will teach him new meaning of the word ‘remorse’.

My Thoughts:

I come away with mixed feelings after reading this book. At the end, I just gave a sigh of relief that it is over. Some parts of the book had me cringing in horror and wonder at the kind of things the protagonist gets up to. More than that, it amazed me to read about his justification and rationalization of various events.

Our protagonist lives with his grandmother for a good number of years after being kicked out of his parents house. The dynamics between Ollie and his grandmother is weird enough to raise eyebrows, but is well portrayed in the book. However, it is sad that even though Granjy knew everything about Ollie, she didn’t have the mental strength to stand up to him and put him right, and in the end it cost her dearly.

Ollie is a self-absorbed, money minded and materialistic human being, used to getting his own way and not being accountable for anything he did. This is re-enforced when his grandmother always stands up for him and seems to always see the good in him. This particular relationship and Ollie’s ideas will be severely tested later on in the story. The author’s style of writing is quite different and it took me some time to get into the book. It feels abrupt and there seems to be a lack of flow between chapters. This isn’t that much of a problem since the plot seems to flow on in a clear direction.

The characters are interesting and developed to some extent, though there could have been some more depth given to Ollie. There are many incidents that are not even described enough but are mentioned quite extensively, seemingly to make the reader imagine additional details by themselves. The author maintains the pace of the story and the atmosphere quite well. The story moves at a steady pace, the destination becoming clearer and clearer as we progress, with a climactic ending that I am sure no-one will see coming.

A decent pick-me up for those who enjoy psychological thrillers which also touch upon horror.

Conversations Among Ruins by Matthew Peters

About the Book:

Conversations Among Ruins

CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS is a portrait of a descent into madness, and the potential of finding salvation there.

While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed* professor meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter. But Mimi has secrets and, strangely, a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died.

Drawn together by broken pasts, they pursue a twisted, tempestuous romance. When it ends, a deteriorating Stavros seeks refuge at a mountain cabin where a series of surreal experiences brings him face to face with something he’s avoided all his life: himself.

Though miles away, Mimi’s actions run oddly parallel to Daniel’s. Will either be redeemed, or will both careen toward self-destruction?

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency.

My thoughts:

A raw, deep, emotional book, this will give the reader an insight into a troubled soul and the mind of a person dual diagnosed. The author seeks to bring out the troubles of a young professor who wants to avoid confronting his inner demons. When he meets Mimi while in rehab, he falls in love and we are drawn into a world of love, secrets and some amount of mystic is thrown in. Mimi has her own share of secrets and they are forced to decide how to proceed with their lives.

Written beautifully, the author pulls us into Daniel’s world of confusion and inebriation. Between the two, we are as confused as Daniel and ultimately imagination and reality seem to merge and the line between them disappears. As with the author’s style of writing, all the plot lines in this book are important and come together very well by the end of the story.

We are shown the importance of life along with the necessity and ways of dealing with alcoholism and mental illness. The descriptions are vivid and conversations are thought provoking and the question of whether our characters attain salvation will encourage the reader to finish the book. There is a message to this book and I am sure many can relate to some of the topics raised in this story. For the style of writing and the concept, I strongly recommend this book which I enjoyed immensely.

Book Review: Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Book:

Someone Else's Summer by Rachel Bateman

Anna’s always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm’s summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm’s list along with her sisters best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm’s dream summer would eventually lead to Anna’s own self-discovery?

My Thoughts:

 This was a quick read for me, finished off in one sitting. I really enjoyed the story and the plot is quite heart wrenching and sad but well written.

The story follows Anna as she tries to deal with the loss of her sister, who was about 11 months older than her. She finds a list written by her sister, a kind of bucket list of things she had wanted to do that summer (which was just after her graduation). Anna thinks that completing the list will be the best way to remain close to her sister and her memory. Along with Cameron, their childhood friend, she sets off on a journey of adventure , self-discovery and healing. We watch them as they try to deal with their grief and come to terms with their loss, the death of Storm affecting them each in ways they never expected.

The authors brings out the emotions and feelings very well, ensuring that the reader will empathize. Though a part of the plot seemed straight forward and cliched, the author gives us a twist at the end that will change the readers perspective entirely. We meet various people, Anna’s parents, who are trying to come to terms with the loss of their elder daughter in a freak accident when she had managed to battle cancer and survive. We also meet Piper, Anna’s best friend and Jovani, her ex-boyfriend and though he seems irrelevant to the main plot, he does say some things in the end which justify his presence. Perhaps the best character of all was Anna’s aunt, who understands her and supports her the most.

This is a bitter-sweet story with a mixed ending and an assurance that everything will be alright at the end of the day. Time goes on and is the best healer.

Love Warrior : A Memoir by Glennon Doyle Melton

About the Book:

The highly anticipated new memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage.

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out—three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list—her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another – and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, fall in love.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

My Thoughts:

I came across this book on the Oprah’s Book Club group on Goodreads. The synopsis was compelling and being someone’s true life story, I felt the need to pick this book up and read it. I was into it from the moment I started reading and didn’t put it down until I completed reading it.

Glennon talks about finding herself when she hits rock bottom, how at each stage she is pulled down and tries to come up. She speaks so openly about her thoughts and emotions. She talks about finding God and how she keeps the faith. A raw approach to everything she has faced, written down so openly, it puts a lot of things in perspective. This book is not only for married couples, but for everyone who feel that they have lost their way. Through Glennon’s journey we learn of loving oneself, trusting in oneself and then learning to be comfortable with who we are.

This memoir, teaches us all to be warriors. We can all do it, even when one hits rock bottom, one can only go upwards from there. The writing is wonderful and through this, Glennon expresses deep emotions, sharing a lot of her experiences with us. The memoir will pull the reader into it, making us experience every single emotion that the author did, and at the end, it will spit the reader out, a different person. The entire book will touch you in ways you will not expect and is worth the time spent reading.

Bottom-line: Stay strong and stay positive. Things will work out in the end.

Review: The Seeker by Karan Bajaj

About the Book:

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A violent encounter on the streets of Manhattan forces Wall Street banker Maximus Pzoras to confront questions about suffering and mortality that have dogged him since his mother’s death. His search for a mentor takes him to the farthest reaches of India, where he encounters a mysterious night market, almost freezes to death on a hike up the Himalayas and finally, finds himself in an ashram in a small drought stricken village in South India where strange things begin to happen to him.

But are Yogis who walk on water, do impossible poses, and live agelessly for 200 years the stuff of fiction or fact? Can a flesh and blood man ever truly achieve nirvana? Max struggles to overcome his rational skepticism and the pull of family tugging him back home. In a final bid for answers, he embarks on dangerous solitary meditation in a freezing Himalayan cave. Will Max penetrate the truth of human suffering, or is enlightenment just a new age illusion?

The SEEKER is both a page turning adventure story and a journey of tremendous inner transformation, a SIDDHARTHA for our generation.

Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an hones review. Frankly, I am glad that I came across this offer and took it up. At first I did not know what to expect but as I persevered to finish the book, I realized that it was indeed worth it. Read on to know my thoughts about the book.

My Thoughts:

This is an enthralling and gripping story of a wall street banker’s journey on his path to self discovery. Max, an American wall street banker, has been through a lot in his life and has come up from the depths of poverty making something of himself. A chance encounter with an Indian yogi on the street sets him thinking along the lines of yoga and enlightenment.

Max sets out to India seeking a teacher and through the journey he treks up the Himalayas and then down to South India. Almost freezing to death in the Himalayas and later almost starving during the Drought in the village he goes to in the South, all shape Max into the person he becomes in the end. Throughout the story the author describes the trials he faces and how he seeks to overcome them. This is done beautifully without sounding far-fetched in any way. If you have any idea about the author’s background, it is easy to see that he has used some of his experiences in life to describe various incidents in the story.

The story is packed with adventure as Max treks up the Himalayas and then ventures down to South India with a stop in Mumbai along the way. The author brings out various lessons through the story without sounding as though he is preaching. The reader can learn a lot about how yoga and meditation can help one relax and be at ease through this story. The author’s style of writing is wonderful and he has woven a story that is ripe with adventure and learning. The reader will definitely feel as though he/she is personally experiencing what the characters in the book are and this is just an example of how strong the descriptiveness of the story is.

If I continue on this path, I will end up revealing a lot about the story which is not fun. So instead, I will stop here and just end my review with a strong recommendation to read this book. Who knows, you may also be inspired to follow the road to self discovery or at least take up yoga and meditation for the peace of mind and soul.