Book Review: Gryphon Riders Trilogy by Derek Alan Siddoway

About the Books:

Windsworn (Gryphon Riders Trilogy #1)

Windsworn (Gryphon Riders Trilogy, #1)

An unlikely young hero. An incredible destiny.

Eva has never swung a sword. She’s never flown through the open sky on a gryphon or dreamed of being a hero. She’s content with a quiet life — two feet firmly on the ground, working in her foster-father’s forge. But that’s all about to change.

When Eva discovers a young thief hiding in her woodshed with a stolen gryphon egg, the shy, timid girl is forced to leave everything she’s ever known to become Windsworn — elite warriors who ride fierce gryphons into battle. As she struggles to learn the ways of the Windsworn, Eva finds herself caught in a plot to destroy the gryphon riders and plunge the kingdom into war, a plot that somehow involves her deceased parents.

In the face of growing danger, can Eva conquer her fears and unravel the secrets of her past in time to save the Windsworn?

Fans of Eragon, Harry Potter and the Dragonriders of Pern will love this fast-paced coming of age fantasy, set in a world of majestic gryphons and ancient magic.

Windswept (Gryphon Riders Trilogy #2)

Windswept by Derek Alan Siddoway

A long-forgotten champion. An ancient darkness.

Now a full-fledged gryphon rider, Eva’s come a long way from the timid girl she used to be.

After proving herself to the Windsworn, forging a bond with her gryphon, Fury, and discovering the truth about her parentage, Eva thought life would get easier. Instead, war is blossoming on the eastern frontier. And raiders on giant sabercats might only be a shadow of worse things to come.

If that weren’t enough, a captured enemy reveals a startling truth: Eva’s long-lost father is still alive.

Against direct orders, Eva and her friends desert the Windsworn, risking everything to bring her father home. Eva and Fury have come a long way in a short time, but beyond the mountains, danger lurks at every turn. Will Eva sacrifice everything she holds dear for a man she’s never met?

Don’t miss the rousing second installment in the Gryphon Riders Trilogy!

Windbreak (Gryphon Riders Trilogy #3)

Windbreak by Derek Alan Siddoway

From the fires of war, a queen must rise.

Against all odds, Eva and her friends are alive. And they’ve returned home with the only chance the Windsworn have of defeating the Smelterborn.

Hope, however, will prove to be short-lived and bittersweet.

An army of iron golems marches west and nothing can stop them. To survive the coming war, the gryphon riders must stand with old enemies against the ancient darkness. As the fighting begins, a small band makes their way east on a desperate quest: to destroy the source of the Smelterborn’s power once and for all. Chances are, none of them will make it out alive.

Eva and Fury will be tested like never before. Heroes will fall. Kingdoms will shatter. The price of victory has never been higher.

Will Eva succeed in driving back the darkness or will everything she loves be crushed beneath the iron fist of the Smelterborn?

Don’t miss the epic conclusion of the Gryphon Riders Trilogy!

My Thoughts:

This started off with a review request for book #1, but turned into a marathon reading session of the entire series!

Windsworn (Gryphon Riders Trilogy #1), introduces us to Eva, a young girl who chances upon a thief in possession of a Gryphon egg. This part of the story will remind the reader of the Eragon series ( if you are a fan ), but later on the story takes on it’s own identity and the reader is taken on a wonderful adventure of discovery and learning. The entire series follows Eva’s journey as she learns to be a Gryphon rider, gains the trust of her Gryphon and forges new friendships. Having earned the trust of some of her peers and teachers, Eva, embarks on a journey to save the world from those seeking to destroy the Windsworn.

The plot thickens in Windswept (Book #2), where Eva discovers the truth behind her parentage and the chance that her father might be alive. Throwing caution to the winds, she takes off on a journey with some friends against all orders to discover the truth. Finally, in Windbreak (Book #3), Eva and the Windsworn must stand against the Smelterborn and also unite with others whom they previously considered to be enemies. Having learnt the secret to destroying the golems, Eva must do what she can to end it all. What ensues is a thrilling war that will have the reader on the edge of their seats.

Throughout the series, we follows Eva on her journey of growth, self-discovery and the search for the truth. This coming of age series is filled with adventure and action. The war sequences are well written and the entire plot comes together very well throughout the three books. The author keeps the plot simple but ensures that the reader is hooked until the end of not just a book, but the entire series. The supporting characters are well crafted and add a lot of spice to the book.

I am grateful to have been given the chance to read and review these books and I do recommend them for fans of fantasy adventures. Do give this series a shot!

Book Review: INKREDIA Luwan of Brida by Sarang Mahajan

I would like to thank Gloryburg Publishing for reaching out to me and bringing to my attention this wonderful new series.

About the Book:

INKREDIA Luwan of Brida by Sarang Mahajan

Luwan finds himself in a grave danger and now he must make a daring choice. He must leave the village that kept him safe all these years and set out through unknown regions in search of a safe haven. But there is a good chance that this journey itself will kill him.

Luwan sets out with his sister, but only to head into a mysterious new enemy, a band of legendary assassins that bring down men of great power. Luwan is clueless why they are after his head, but he has no luxury to find an answer to that question. He is thrown into a relentless run across a great distance, chased by enemies with supernatural powers. Little does Luwan know that he is part of a great conspiracy that shall soon shake the vast empire of Inkredia.

Can Luwan protect his sister against such powerful enemies? Will he find answers to all the mysteries? What is the world of Inkredia made up of?

My Thoughts:

Inkredia – Luwan of Brida is the first book in a trilogy.

The story starts off by introducing us to the main protagonist, Luwan. He lives in a village at one end of Inkredia, and has lived there all his life. However, fate has something else in store for him and he reaches a point where he needs to leave the place he called home. Thus starts off a fast paced adventure, where the characters and the reader do not have time to pause and take a breath.

Forced to escape, Luwan is faced with the daunting task of facing the world beyond. He is accompanied by his sister and along the way they encounters many characters who aid them in their escape. All of a sudden, the brother-sister duo come to realize that they are being hunted by a group of trained and lethal assassin’s (the author’s version of the famous Nazgûl, from The Lord of the Rings). This is the starting point of a very long journey.

The author seamlessly brings the plot together, explaining the background, towns and places along the way. We are not treated whole paragraphs of information about Inkredia, but through facts put forth as part of answers given to the question’s raised by the characters.

The author’s style of writing inspires the reader to visualize and imagine the setting, the fights and the flight. The story is a page turner not only due to the strong plot, but also the style of writing. We meet many interesting characters : human non-human, beasts and even those that live off of dark magic and magical artifacts like talismans. It is also interesting to learn the importance Luwan, a seemingly normal and uninteresting boy, has in the grand scheme of things and where his destiny leads him.

At times it is easy to compare the characters created in this story to some of the more iconic Fantasy series like the Lord of the Rings, but the author brings in enough of his own creativity that the reader is finally convinced that Inkredia has it’s own setting in the fantasy world. There is action, adventure, magic and intrigue, all thrown into one book and this is just the first book!

As can be expected, the story ends on a cliff hanger and is definitely a must read for all the fantasy genre enthusiasts out there!

Book Review : The Piraroo by Marko Kitti

About the Book: (taken from the back cover of the book)

The Piraroo (Tales from Puffington Hill, #1)

Dear Reader,

I’m afraid you’re soon going to meet a tarantula the size of a kitten. You’re also going to bump into a whopper of a seagull who is the British Champion in Poop Bombing. Not to mention an extraordinary, furry creature whose ancestor once belonged to a notorious pirate captain.

You’re also going to meet a ten-year-old boy called Max, the owner of the tarantula, whose life is about to turn upside down in this nail-biting adventure that includes petnappers and disgusting healthy smoothies!

So I am warning you, Dear Reader: Should you decide to read about Max and his animal friends, your life will never be the same again.

Yours sincerely,
MK

My Thoughts:

The Piraroo, a new book by author Marko Kitti, is another delightful read for not just children, but everyone. The story follows Max, a ten year old, as he deals with the loss of a pet, the acqusition of a new one and an unexpected adventure. The story comes with illustrations by Ant Carlos which are wonderful and expressive. They complement the story and make it more interesting to read.

The most wonderful part of this book is the way in which it is put together, right from page colors to match the environment upto the plot, the whole concept is different and enchanting. I enjoyed the effects of these colors and the way they matched the story. I am not sure that it is wise to expand upon this point since it is worth the surprise when you get to those pages!

The story brings out the importance of friendship and belief as well as love towards animals and other beings. It also brings out a contrast between greed and deception with love and kindness. The animals and birds are fascinating in this story, becoming the main characters towards the middle. Max’s interaction with them is delightful to follow. We also meet Max’s dysfunctional family and are thrown into the midst of a fascinating smoothie contest!

Bringing together all these plot lines, Marko once again crafts a fun filled story which will leave the reader in splits. He also ensures to mix in a little seriousness and emotion with a strong message, a newer concept as compared to the general humour filled Jesper Jinx novels. As always, this new book by Marko Kitti is worth the read!

Book Review: Her Sister’s Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1) by Ashley Farley

About the Book:

Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)

Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Packed with Southern charm and memorable characters

Her Sister’s Shoes is the story of three sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.

Samantha Sweeney has always been the glue that holds her family together, their go-to girl for love and support. When an ATV accident leaves her teenage son in a wheelchair, she loses her carefully constructed self-control.

In the after-gloom of her dreaded fiftieth birthday and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity, Jackie realizes she must reconnect with her former self to find the happiness she needs to move forward.

Faith lacks the courage to stand up to her abusive husband. She turns to her sisters for help, placing all their lives at risk.

In the midst of their individual challenges, the Sweeney sisters must cope with their mother’s mental decline. Is Lovie in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or is her odd behavior?

My Thoughts:

My Sister’s Shoes focuses on the lives and relationships of three sisters and their mother. A story about love, family, secrets and trust, the three sisters are forced to be true to themselves and each other as they try to balance their careers and families. They learn to lean on each other and connect with each other like they never did before. As we encounter the problems each one of them face, we come to know a little more behind some of the carefully constructed masks. We learn to love and hate the characters, as we connect with them a little.

Added to the mix is their mother who seems to be a little odd. As they start noticing, each of the sisters refuse to take responsibility claiming that their life is more important. As time passes, they are all forced to accept that something is wrong, but none are willing to take proper decisions, and if someone does, the others do not agree. Amidst the bickering that is normal among siblings, the sisters learn to trust each other and lean on each other for support. Not everything is perfect and the whole idea that each one builds up in their mind about the other is re-constructed and a they learn to see things in a new light.

A story of togetherness and family, there are some strong messages in this story. Sometimes it feels as though it is all over the place, with the focus always shifting from one to the other, but as the story progresses, a lot of plot points come together. The story is decently written, and while i would not call it awesome, I do think that it is a compelling read and it touches upon some relevant topics.

Book Review: The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

I was provided with a review copy by Little Bird Publicity in exchange for an honest review. Read on to know what I thought of the book.

About the Book:

The Family Gathering (Sullivan's Crossing #3)

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.

My Thoughts:

The Family Gathering is the third book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. It focuses on Dakota, bringing out his story and relationship with his siblings. As complicated as his life has been, we are given glimpses into the past of the siblings’ which helps us understand their personalities. The romance that develops slowly between Dakota and Sid, seems to change both of them slowly, forcing Sid to start trusting again.

The story consists of a number of mini plots, focussing on each of the siblings and their lives at that moment. This takes away the focus from the main plot and reduces the impact of the whole story. Though the characters are developed, some of their personality traits come off as annoying, like how Dakota is initially rather cocky and arrogant and then miraculously he changes. Though the story is a decent read in the romance genre, there seems to be too much happening with no specific plot line being given more importance. Somewhere along the way, we find that Dakota is on a path of self-discovery and understanding, developing a better relationship with his siblings and making the effort to understand them and just be there for them.

I found the book to be alright, not exceptional, but a light read that helps to pass the time.

Book Review: Silver Hollow by Jennifer Silverwood

 


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Silver Hollow
(Borderlands Saga #1)
By Jennifer Silverwood
Urban Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 429 pages
May 31st 2018 by SilverWoodSketches

“I shouldn’t have to tell you this isn’t a fairy story…”

After her parents’ car crash ten years before, Amie Wentworth trusts books more than people. She may be a writer, but she believes in reality over fiction. She ignores the unexplained mysteries surrounding her, never mind the dreams of a past life, or the fact she can fry technology with a touch. Not even a timely invitation from her long-lost uncle in England gives Amie incentive for anything other than ire.

Until she is stabbed in an alley and brought back to life by a handsome stranger. Soon Amie is dragged into the very sort of tale she is used to selling. To make matters worse, the man who saved her life keeps turning up and her would-be-murderer is still at large.

After crossing the Atlantic to her father’s homeland, she discovers a world beyond imagining. Silver Hollow is a place of ancient traditions and supernatural dangers, where everything is the opposite of what it seems and few escape sane. Faced with an impossible choice, Amie is forced to confront a deadly family legacy while remembering a life she soon wishes to forget.

**Previously published in 2012. This NEW EDITION has been FULLY REVISED AND EXPANDED. The original novel is now no longer available.**

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About the Author

Jennifer Silverwood was raised deep in the heart of Texas and has been spinning yarns a mile high since childhood. In her spare time she reads and writes and tries to sustain her wanderlust, whether it’s the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, the highlands of Ecuador or a road trip to the next town. Always on the lookout for her next adventure, in print or reality, she dreams of one day proving to the masses that everything really is better in Texas. She is the author of two series—Heaven’s Edge and Wylder Tales—and the stand-alone titles Stay and Silver Hollow.

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Tour Schedule

May 21st:
Launch
It’s All About the Romance
Red Pillows
Paulette’s Papers
Reading for the Stars and Moon
May 22nd:
Min Reads and Reviews
Rockin’ Book Reviews
May 23rd:
Hearts & Scribbles
E-Romance News
May 24th:
Mythical Books
The Cozy Reading Corner
K. D. Jones: Epic Fantasy Author
May 25th:
An Indie Adventure
Colorimetry
May 28th:
Jorie Loves A Story
Wishful Endings
May 29th:
Singing Librarian Books
Bri’s Book Nook
May 30th:
Nicole’s Book Musings
Becky on Books
May 31st:
Locks, Hooks and Books
What’s Beyond Forks?
June 1st:
Stacking My Book Shelves!
Ms. J Mentions…
Teatime and Books
Bookworm Lisa
June 2nd: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

PRIZE PACK #1: 1 winner will receive new Silver Hollow swag, themed bookmarks, stickers, bookish themed tote, and B&N Illustrated Hardcover Editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Story of King Arthur & His Knights (US only)

PRIZE PACK #2: 1 winner will receive signed swag (mainly Silver Hollow and Wylder Tales), ebooks of the Wylder Tales Collection, and a free voucher for Bound Beauty to be published later in 2018 (open internationally)

ENDS: June 6th

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My Thoughts:

Silver Hollow is the first in a series that introduces the reader to Amie and a world of magic. This story is well-written and completely UN-put-down able. In fact, I managed to get through this story in a day!

The story follows Amie as she struggles to cope with the death of her parents. She has her best friends and their family to support her as she moves on to become a writer. After ten years, she is once again forced to think of the long-lost uncle who tried to contact her on the day of her parents funeral. What follows is a tale of discovery, finding oneself, acceptance, and finding love. This well-crafted story introduces us to so many characters with whom we cannot help but fall in love. There is so much to learn and love, so much to know, that as a reader you will be left yearning for more.

The bond Amie develops with her uncle and with the man who saved her life, as well as with the various people she meets is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching. How much can you trust a person? How well can you know someone? As secrets are revealed and memories of a past life come to the surface, Amie is faced with decisions that could shape her life and who she is. She discovers the truth about her parents, her friends and this alters her perception of who she is. I especially enjoyed the many references made to some characters of legends like King Arthur, Merlin, Titania and many others. This is a world filled with magic and non-magic, a place where for a long time secrets have been buried. Amie is destined to either fill the void and save everyone or destroy it once and for all.

The story is sprinkled with romance and witty comments, many light-hearted moments that are sure to bring a smile to the readers lips. It is definitely worth the read and is a book that I would recommend in the fantasy-romance section now.

Book Review: Seeds of Intention by Andrea Thome

About the Book:

Seeds of Intention

Garrett Oliver has just settled into his job as heir apparent to one of the most renowned master gardeners in the country. After a difficult few years, he’s found a home and a renewed purpose at a famed resort in the secluded Smoky Mountains.The stars seem to be aligning for Garrett as he plans a future with his college sweetheart and envisions a simple life with her in the mountains of East Tennessee.

Willow Armstrong, fresh off a painful breakup, is coming home to Knoxville to care for her ailing father. She finds herself in the right place at the right time, landing a dream job alongside Garrett—as his boss. As they are thrown together by their work, an undeniable magnetism grows between them, despite the fact that Garrett is ready to start a future with someone else. Circumstances persist in drawing them closer, and an unexpected opportunity in Colorado prompts Willow and Garrett to wonder if a life together out west might be beyond anything either of them had dared to imagine.

My Thoughts:

Seeds of Intention is a quick and light read. It is the kind of book that you can pick up and finish as fast or as slow as you like.

The story is simple, focusing on Garrett and Willow, and the relationship that develops between them. Both the main characters are dealing with their own set of problems and we, the reader, follow them as they find their way out of it. The characters are warm and likeable, developing quite well as the story progresses. Though at times everything just seems to fall into place perfectly, most of the story flows well and can be related to.

The author emphasizes on the need to adapt and the ability to handle even the most difficult situation with the support of loved ones. This is a feel good story which brings out the fact that not everything happens the way one pictures it.

Cover Reveal: The Vengeance of Indra (Vikramaditya Veergatha #3) by Shatrujeet Nath

~ Cover Reveal ~
The Vengeance of Indra 
(Vikramaditya Veergatha #3)
by Shatrujeet Nath
VENGEANCE IS A CAGE
FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM
In their greed to possess the deadly Halahala, the devas and the asuras have employed every dirty trick against Vikramaditya and his Council of Nine. But the humans are still standing, bloodied but unbowed.
When the wily Shukracharya discovers the secret to breaking the Council’s strength and unity, he forges an unlikely alliance with his arch-enemy, Indra, to set a deceitful plan in motion.
As cracks emerge between the councilors and their king, ghosts from the past threaten to ruin Vikramaditya and Kalidasa’s friendship, signaling the beginning of an eclipse that will cast a long shadow over all that Vikramaditya holds dear. And into this shadow steps Indra, bearing an old grudge — and a devastating new weapon.
How much longer before the Guardians of the Halahala finally fall apart?
Other Books in the Series:
 
(Click on the Covers for more details)
About the Author:
Shatrujeet Nath is the creator of the runaway national bestseller series Vikramaditya Veergatha, a four-book mytho-fantasy arc which includes The Guardians of the Halahala, The Conspiracy at Meru and The Vengeance of Indra. Described as “a new face to Indian mythology” by DNA, Shatrujeet writes for movies and web shows as well. He is also the author of The Karachi Deception, an Indo-Pak spy thriller.
 
 

 

Travel 200 years into the past with Cross Stitch (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

About the Book:

Cross Stitch (Outlander, #1)

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts:

I picked up this book after watching Season 1 of the TV show Outlander on Netflix. The series caught my attention and kept me hooked and yearning for more. Once my interest was piqued, I had to give the book a try more out of curiosity to see how close to the story the series was.

The story itself interested me to some extent. The concept of traveling back into the past and getting caught up in a time much different and more primitive compared to the one you live in is indeed an adventure. For Clarie however, it started off as a nightmare. The moment she stepped through the stones at Craigh na Dun, she found herself 200 years in the past, and in the sight of her husband’s ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. Thus starts a story of discovery, love and friendship set in the time of the Jacobite rising. Armed with knowledge from the future, Claire is forced to bide her time until she can return to the stones and find her way home. In an ideal world, things should have worked out that way, but her encounter with Jack Randall also brings her in contact with Scottish Highlanders and Jamie Fraser.

What do you do when you have to marry a handsome highlander to save your life from the English soldiers? How do you reconcile with the fact that you are already married, 200 years in the future? Is it alright to make a life in the time where you are now? What do you do with the knowledge you have of the past when you end up in the past?

With the above questions arising, Claire is faced with a much bigger challenge, starting with acceptance from the Highlander Clans as well as  the fact that she might not go back to see Frank. She is forced to accept her fate and in time falls in love with Jamie, thus further tearing her apart, torn between her vows to Frank and her current marriage to Jamie. Not one to be very superstitious or believe in magic, Claire finds herself in an unimaginable situation, where her skills as a nurse come into action to help.

A well-written story, this first book in the series will keep the reader hooked until the very end and leave them yearning for more. The characters are well crafted and wonderfully portrayed with the plot moving at a steady pace. It is possible to believe in love and magic and this is made more evident through the love that blossoms between Jamie and Claire as they understand and accept each other. The decisions Claire makes, and the path she takes, the people she meets, all seek to set the course of this story!

The book is well worth a read and the series is equally worth watching!

Book Blast: Soul Warrior by Falguni Kothari

★.•**•.★ Soul Warrior Book Blast ★.•**•.★ 
15th to 17th September, 2017
 
 
The Age of Kali is a series of mythic fantasy novels by international bestselling novelist Falguni Kothari. The first book of the series, Soul Warrior, introduces readers to a fictional law-governed Cosmos made up of heavenly, demonic and human realms and its protagonist, Lord Karna, the legendary guardian of the Human Realm, who is coerced into training six godlings into demon hunters against a rising demon army. The series arc interlocks into a war of domination between the Light and Dark forces of the Cosmos and the race to control the one soul capable of total cosmic annihilation, demi-god Karna’s and Draupadi’s secret child.
 
Get Your Copy from AMAZON
 
 
 
 
Praise for Soul Warrior:
 

“A beautiful exploration of fantasy and mythology, Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali) is the latest release from Falguni Kothari and by any stretch of the imagination she’s delivered an awesome story. Rich, enchanting, evocative, she effortlessly blends an ancient Indian epic and South Asian mythology with grace and quiet elegance to create the canvas upon which her miraculous world finds form…. Beautifully written and enviably imaginative, Soul Warrior proves an exemplary example of Fantasy Fiction. Definitely deserving of your attention it is recommended without reservation!”
   —Book Viral 


“I loved the writing which… hit that nice spot between being evocative and descriptive and still keeping the story moving….It has a huge cast of fascinating characters, a deep and rich world and definitely something I’m interested in following.”
   —Fangs for Fantasy 


“I loved the way Ms. Falguni has shown an eye for the details scattered throughout the novel…. Will I recommend this book? Oh yes, and be assured you will grab the next one too just to know more about the Soul Warrior.”
   —Global Asian Times 


“The plot is intriguing, much in the tradition of a modern thriller…. Precisely sketched and nuanced with quirky detail, the characters enrich the story they inhabit…. The vibrant characters in the multi-hued setting are the stuff superhero animation films are made of. Soul Warrior engrosses and enthralls. A thumping good read, I would say.”
   —Of Prose and Poetry blog 


Read an Excerpt:

SHUNYA: NOTHING AND EVERYTHING

Kuru Kshetra Battlefield.
        Day 17 of the Great Kuru War, seven thousand five hundred years ago.

Death is hot.

That surprises me. I’d imagined death as cold and brutal. Merciless. But in truth, death is hot as blood, and constant like a heartbeat.

Thrum. Thrum. Thrum. My lifeblood ebbs to the rhythm. My head ripped from its torso by Anjalika, the arrow of death that burns even now with the energy of the sun. Struck from behind like some novice. Felled in battle by that lily-livered usurper the Heavens smile upon—Prince Arjun. Brother Arjun.

What have I done?

I harness the thought. Cease all reflection and wrench free of my mortal body. I soar up, up into the gloaming, snapping the ties that tether me to life. Dead, I have no use for ties.

“A matter of perspective, Karna, O son of my godsire.” The unearthly words strum through the air, and I quiver like a plucked bowstring, overcome as much by the voice as its blasphemous claim. 

“Bonds of devotion nourish the soul, brother.”

There is that word again. Brother. Unpleasant laughter wells up in me. Alive, I am abandoned, denied my birthright—Celestial or royal. Death, it seems, changes everything.

A bright, nebulous light brings forth Lord Yama, the God of Death, atop his divine mount. His elephantine thighs ripple beneath a silken dhoti, ochre and crimson of color, as he guides the mammoth water buffalo to a halt. An iron medallion sways against the God’s powerful cerulean torso, its center stone an ethereal blood orange.

Hypnotic. Pulsing with life. I am drawn to the stone.

“Piteous waste,” Lord Yama mutters, surveying the carnage of war far below us.

I trace the trajectory of his gaze and behold the battered remains of my army drenched in the evidence of its mortality. Is it true? Have we died in vain?

Words form inside me and I will them out. “Shall we go, my lord?”

“Ha! Impatient to be judged, are you? Anxious to have your fate revealed?” asks the Judge of the Hell Realm. His red-black eyes burn with intelligence and compassion in a blue-tinged face that is long and lean and hard. “Rest easy, brother-warrior. You are not bound for the Great Courtroom.”
Not bound for Hell? Where then? Fear has eluded me for so long that I take a moment to recognize it. 

A hollow-bellied feeling it is, as annoying as a bone stuck in my throat.

“My lord, I have done bad deeds…terrible deeds in my life. I have waged wars, this horrendous bloodshed, and all because my pride could not—would not abide rejection. I have sinned. I must atone for my actions.”

Lord Yama smiles in a way I do not like. “You have redeemed yourself admirably, Karna. You forfeited your life for the greater good today. The deed far outweighs any misguided ones. Be at peace, brother, and enjoy the fruits of your karma.”

There is but one place to enjoy such fruits—the Higher Worlds.

I’d rather burn in Hell for eternity. I say so. “I won’t live amongst the Celestials.” Coexisting with the very souls who’ve spurned me is unthinkable. Watching her—for she would surely reside in Heaven soon—will be eternal torture.

Yama shakes his head, the horns on his crown slashing to and fro. “I thought you might say that. Relax. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”

“Am I to be reborn then? Am I to begin a new life, and forget the past?” Pain, sharp as a blade, lances through me at the thought. Forget my past? My family? Even her? Was that my punishment? To forget all that made me human?

It must be so. For have I not betrayed them as surely as I’ve betrayed my prince regent?

“Human rebirth is not your destiny, either. You are chosen, brother. Your war skills are needed for a higher purpose.” The God slips off his mount, his garments rustling in agitation. “This unjust war has pushed the Cosmos to the vortex of a cataclysm. Tomorrow, the Kuru War will end. Fearing its outcome, the Celestials rolled the Die of Fate and have unwittingly bestowed on Demon Kali untold powers.” Lord Yama bares his fangs in disgust at the foolish gamble. “Imagine the havoc that asura and his minions will wreak on the weak if left unchecked. The Human Realm must be safeguarded during Kali’s dark reign.”

I can imagine the horror only too well as I have battled with evil all my life. But I am done with wars. 
I am done with defeat. I won’t waste another lifetime fighting.

“With due respect, my lord, I am not the man for this task.”

“You are not a man at all,” Yama thunders, fists shaking. “You are the son of Surya, the Sun God. Accept that you are no ordinary soul.”

I say nothing. I think nothing. I feel something but I squash it down.

Lord Yama’s thick black brows draw together. “Demon Kali will try to pervade every particle of good that exists in the Cosmos, beginning with the corruptible Human Realm. Once he obliterates all of humanity, he’ll set his sights on the Celestials. Kali will not stop until he’s destroyed our way of life. But you can stop him. You are light to his darkness. Do you understand now why you had to betray him? Your beloved humans need you, Karna. I need you. Our father believes in you. Claim your rightful place in the Cosmos.”

Impatiently, Lord Yama removes the iron medallion from his neck and holds it out. The vermillion sunstone glows as if its soul is on fire. Nay! It is my soul that is on fire.

Indescribable energy curls through me. I gasp, though not in pain. I shudder and feel myself grow large, grow hot. Was this rebirth?

I am strong, full-bodied and lethal once more. Then I roar as light bursts forth from my very core and I throb with glorious, blinding power. When I come to myself, my world has changed again. Bubbles of color shimmer all around me: cobalt and saffron, azure and rose. By karma! They are souls. Infinite floating souls.

“Behold the spectrum of life: the worthy, the notorious, the righteous and the sinners.” The God of Death’s soul was a worthy sapphire blue with a tinge of silver. “Your duty, should you choose to accept the office of the Soul Warrior, is to hunt down the red-souled asuras and crush them. Whatever you decide, I wish you a long and successful Celestial existence, Karna,” Yama booms out and vanishes into the purpling sky.

The parley has stunned me. The world of color holds me in thrall. I was dead. Yet, now I am not. A new path lies before me. Unwanted, unwelcome, I insist on principle. I close my eyes. Open them to stare at the medallion cupped in my hand—a golden-hued hand at once familiar and not—and know myself for a fool. I do want this. It’s what I am.

Bastard-born. Rebel. Son. Husband. Father. Warlord. And protector. I fist the talisman, buoyed by its concrete warmth. This is who I am.

I am the Soul Warrior.

 
 
About the Author:
 
 

Falguni Kothari is a New York-based South Asian author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a semi-professional background in Indian Classical dance. She’s published in India in contemporary romance with global e-book availability; Bootie and the Beast (Harlequin Mills and Boon) and It’s Your Move, Wordfreak! (Rupa & Co.), and launches a mythic fantasy series with Soul Warrior (The Age of Kali, #1)I’m embarrassed to admit how many social media accounts I own :

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