Spotlight : Encounters

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Encounters – Someone’s Always Waiting by Sumana Khan

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EXCERPT FROM THE NOVELETTE “THE STORYTELLER” IN ENCOUNTERS COLLECTION

I stare at the cement bench covered in pigeon shit and spot the dim outline of the granite slab embedded in the backrest. Years ago, when the bench was new, the granite slab was a shiny black mirror inscribed with the words ‘Dedicated to the courageous people of Thirukadal’. Four cyclones and many pigeons later, the words have disappeared. The place is so choked with weeds that the bench appears to rest on the thorny plants. Behind me, beyond a muddy track, the Bay of Bengal hisses and sighs in a treacherous language.

I look up at the sky, as if to decode the time. My watch says it is half past seven in the morning, but the sky, clotted with grey clouds, remains secretive. It could be evening as far as the heavens are concerned. A depressing form of rain is assured; the kind that only occurs in this eastern coast of South India—skies that sob continuously for forty-eight hours, increasing humidity, mosquitoes and the stench of choked drains, damp walls and wet clothes. I wonder if the sky had been just as morose on the morning of 26 December, 2004.

I tie a handkerchief around my face, covering my nose and mouth, and hack away at the weeds. Swarms of mosquitoes and flies rise in a static buzz and hover over my head like a satanic dark halo. It takes me an hour to clear a small area around the bench. The sky starts its weeping just as I scrub the bench with a coconut husk and Vim detergent powder.    

After half an hour, the granite slab gleams into existence once again. I’ve got my memorial ritual paraphernalia in a Food World plastic bag. I bring out a strand of jasmine that I loop around the granite slab, its fragrance weak in the rain. I crouch under my umbrella that won’t open fully and light a couple of incense sticks. I’ve forgotten to bring the incense holder, so I stick the smouldering incense into a banana that was to be my breakfast. I place it on the bench in front of the granite slab and hold the umbrella over it. I close my eyes in an attempt to pray. All I can think of is the angry allergic rash that’s spreading on my legs and hands thanks to the weeds and that the incense smells like a cheap aftershave.

I give up and sit on the bench, still holding the umbrella over the incense. The rain stings my skin like the rash. The hard, wet seat numbs my thighs instantly and a dull arthritic pain blooms in my knees and lower back. I squirm, shifting my weight from one butt cheek to the other. I wait, just as I’ve waited in vain for the last seven years, for the storyteller to show up. The incense is all ash now. I may as well eat the banana and tell you the story of how I met this mysterious man.    

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About The Author

Sumana Khan was born and raised in Bangalore and currently lives in the UK. She is a blogger and a student. Her debut novel was The Revenge of Kaivalya.

Author website: http://www.sumanakhan.com​

Soul Warrior

Cover Reveal

SOUL WARRIOR – THE AGE OF KALI : Book One BY FALGUNI KOTHARI

Blurb 

Twisted myths. Discretion advised.

Fight fate, or succumb to destiny?

In the dark Age of Kali, the Soul Warrior alone stands guard over the Human Realm, protecting its denizens from evil-willed asuras or demons. When a trick of fate appoints him guru to a motley crew of godlings, he agrees to train them as demon hunters against his better judgment. Suddenly, Lord Karna is not only battling the usual asuras with sinister agendas, but also rebellious students and a fault-ridden past.

Spanning the cosmic realms of mythic India, here is a tale of a band of supernatural warriors who come together over a singular purpose: the salvation of Karna’s secret child.

Author’s Note  To Lovers Of Mythology….

What have I done with SOUL WARRIOR?

When you grow up in India, you are engulfed in tales of good and evil, gods and demons, karma and reincarnation on a daily basis. India’s myths are as much part of day-to-day life as is bathing. So I wondered if heaven and hell actually exists what would they look like? What are the good or bad souls doing in this Heaven and Hell? Are the souls in Heaven any happier being stuck there than the souls repenting in Hell? Do they want to come back to Earth as humans?

These questions were the basis of Soul Warrior’s mythos, as was Vedic India and the Mahabharata. India has such a rich offering of grand stories, and its people have a thirst to read them. I want to tell these stories, but in my way. I didn’t want to simply retell the popular tales. I wanted to reimagine them. Go beyond the known myths into the realm of pure fantasy.

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.

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Meet 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)

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Tornado Giveaway : The Temple is Not My Father

 

Name of the Book: THE TEMPLE IS NOT MY FATHER

Author: Rasana Atreya

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1. Inderpreet Kaur Uppal
2. Ruchi Singh
3. Sridevi

The Story

Ensnared by a tradition hundreds of years old, a woman fights for her daughter’s happiness.

From the author of ‘Tell A Thousand Lies,’ which was shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. UK’s Glam magazine calls ‘Tell A Thousand Lies’ on of their ‘five favourite tales from India.’

If you like Rohinton Mistry or Shilpi Somaya Gowda, you might like this short story of 40 pages.

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About The Author : Rasana Atreya

Rasana is the author of Amazon bestseller ‘Tell A Thousand Lies’, which was also shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia award. UK’s Glam magazine calls this novel one of their five favourite tales from India (June 2014). Her other works are ‘The Temple Is Not My Father’ and ’28 Years A Bachelor’.

Now on to more personal stuff – Rasana would like to be able to tell her readers that she once stopped a robbery single-handedly, except she’s terrified of robbers. And geckos. And two-year-olds who throw tantrums. When she’s not running scared, she’s mother to a girl and a boy who were respectively six and eleven years-old when they wrote and illustrated ‘The Mosquito and the Teapot’. She lives with her husband and children in Hyderabad, India, where a lot of her stories are set.

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Tornado Giveaway : The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Name of the Book: THE NIDHI KAPOOR STORY
Author: Saurabh Garg

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1. Nimue
2. book r3vi3ws
3. Namrata Ganti

The Story

Two dogs and a cat are butchered at the home of Nidhi Kapoor, a leading Bollywood actress. Left behind is a mysterious letter threatening Nidhi and her family.

Nishant Kapoor, Nidhi’s father and a superstar of the yesteryears is confined to a retirement facility in the hills. Tormenting him are his recurring dreams of someone trying to hurt him and his family.

A film set where Nidhi Kapoor is shooting for her much anticipated film goes up in flames. Trapped inside are Nidhi and her sister, Payal.

ACP Prakash Mohile is forced to take up the investigation. Rujuta Singh, a photojournalist chronicling the lives of policemen in Mumbai and shadowing Prakash, gets embroiled in the case.

Unwarranted incidents continue to happen and in absence of any real clues or motive, Prakash and Rujuta are forced to dig deeper in the past of the Kapoors. They unknowingly stumble onto a violent tale of lies, betrayal, treachery, infidelity and murder.

Time is running out fast and the unknown assailant is adamant on taking away from Nidhi everything that she holds dear – her career, her home, her reputation, her family and her life. With each move, he seems to be getting close. The answers however continue to elude Prakash and Rujuta.

What is it in their past that Kapoors are hiding from the world?

What grudge does the assailant hold against the Kapoors?

And, can they save Nidhi?

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About The Author : Saurabh Garg

Curious marketeer by the day, Saurabh Garg is a storyteller by the night. The Nidhi Kapoor story is his first full-length story.

Apart from writing, Saurabh is passionate about startups, travel and poker. When he is not working on creating characters and plots for his upcoming stories, he likes to meet and talk to other interesting people and ask them stupid questions that often don’t have answers.

Saurabh maintains a very elaborate bucket list. The item on top of his list is to visit every country in the world. So far, he’s been to 15.

Originally from Delhi and based out of Mumbai, he went to Delhi university and MDI Gurgaon for his undergrad and postgrad respectively.

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Tornado Giveaway : All Aboard

The TORNADO GIVEAWAY which started on 5th Aug and is making waves all across the globe. It is a great opportunity to know about books and win them too. Yes, you can win around 700 books from over 80 authors by participating in the Raffelcoptor given at the end of each book’s post.

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Name of the Book: ALL ABOARD

Author: Kiran Manral

The Story

When Rhea Khanna is dumped just days before her wedding, by her boyfriend of four years, the only thing she wants to do is to get out of the city to clear her head.  The opportunity presents itself immediately when her aunt, a retired school headmistress, invites her to accompany her on a Mediterranean cruise.

As Rhea struggles to cope with her grief of being dumped at the altar, she finds herself getting attracted to the seemingly unavailable Kamal Shahani—the infuriatingly attractive ex-student of her aunt and a hot shot entrepreneur.  To add to the confusion, Sonia, Kamal’s very attractive ex-girlfriend boards the ship in a bid to win him back.

Will Rhea heal her broken heart, or will she end up even more shattered than she was when she got on this cruise? Read, to find out.

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About The Author : Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral worked as a journalist with The Asian Age and The Times of India before she quit full time work to be a full time mommy. One of the leading bloggers in India, her blogs were listed in Labnol’s list of India’s top blogs, and her parenting blog was ranked among the top five parenting blogs in India by Blogadda. She was also a Tehelka blogger columnist on gender issues.

She was listed among the 10 non-celebrity ‘social media stars’ on twitter by the TOI and IBN Live named her as among the 30 most interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter in 2013. Fashion 101.in named her as amongst the most stylish authors in India. Womensweb.in listed her as one of the 20 women authors from India to be followed on twitter.

Post the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai, she founded India Helps, a volunteer network to help disaster victims post 26/11 and has worked on long term rehabilitation of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack victims and 13/7 Mumbai bomb blast victims, amongst others. She was part of core founding team behind Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month (www.csaawarenessmonth.com) and Violence Against Women Awareness Month (www.vawawareness.wordpress.com), two very well received social media awareness initiatives.

Her debut novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland in 2012 and her second novel Once Upon A Crush, was published by Leadstart in May 2014. She has three books due for release in 2015, the first of these being All Aboard! from Penguin Random House.

She is on the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival, an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi, an Author Mentor at sheroes.in and a columnist at iDiva.com. She was awarded the Women Achievers award by Young Environmentalists Group in 2013.

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Tornado Giveaway : Bootie & The Beast

The TORNADO GIVEAWAY which started on 5th Aug and is making waves all across the globe. It is a great opportunity to know about books and win them too. Yes, you can win around 700 books from over 80 authors by participating in the Raffelcoptor given at the end of each book’s post.

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Name of the Book: BOOTIE AND THE BEAST
Author: Falguni Kothari

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1. Adite Banerjie
2. Reet Singh
3. Aditi Saha

The Story:

Opposites attract!

Diya Mathur (Aka Beauty), celebrated supermodel and party princess of India, is adored by everyone. She works hard, plays hard and has the biggest shoe fetish on the planet! But after she purchases one baby bootie, Diyas reputation is in ruins! Theres only one place to escape the rumors – Texas, under the protection of her life-long friend and secret love, Krish Menon (Aka the Beast).

Financial whiz-kid, CFO and entrepreneur, Krish is a brooding workaholic with a charisma that still brings beauty Mathur to her knees! He has no idea, of course! They have shared a bond since childhood – a special friendship that thrives on sparring, teasing and goading-but with Diya back in his life and under his roof Krish finds his latent desire for her explodes! And when he finally admits to the secret that has never allowed him to commit to any woman especially Diya, everything changes. Krish might finally realize how much he wants his Beauty but he wont get her until Diya has finally tamed her Beast!

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About The Author : Falguni Kothari 

A Mumbaikar at heart, Falguni Kothari lives in New York with her family and a sweet as chocolate Maltese named Truffles. She loathes cooking and flying and holds a fervent hope that teleportation become a viable travel option within her lifetime.

When she is not playing Domestic Goddess, Soccer Mom or Canine Companion, she is found embroiled in some or other scandal—sorry, creating stories—on her ever-faithful laptop. She loves tales of all kinds and is partial to sassy ones with happy-ever-after endings.

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Tornado Giveaway : The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer

The TORNADO GIVEAWAY which started on 5th Aug and is making waves all across the globe. It is a great opportunity to know about books and win them too. Yes, you can win around 700 books from over 80 authors by participating in the Raffelcoptor given at the end of each book’s post.

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Name of the Book: THE MANY LIVES OF RUBY IYER
Author: Laxmi Hariharan

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1. Privy Trifles
2. Mukti Jain
3. Biswanath Banerjee

The Story

A YA action-thriller, with strong dystopian undertones and a kickass protagonist, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City.

A terrifying encounter propels Ruby Iyer from her everyday commute into a battle for her own survival. Trusting her instincts, she fights for the things she believes in, led on a mysterious path between life and death on the crowded roads of Bombay; and when her best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the sexy Vikram Roy, a cop-turned-rogue, on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza’s teen army. As Bombay falls apart, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?

The Origins of Ruby Iyer

Growing up in Bombay I was weighed down by the expectations of traditional Indian society. Yet, I wanted to be economically independent. So, daily I would leave the relative safety of home, knowing that my commute to work was going to be nightmarish. It’s just how public transport is in this city. When you get on a crowded local train platform, you accept that you are probably going to be felt up. Every time this happened to me, I would get really angry. But, I would deal with it and get on. When a young photojournalist was raped in the centre of Bombay in broad daylight, I was furious. It was as if nothing had changed in all the years I had been away. I had a vision of this young girl who would not back down anymore; who would stand up for herself regardless of the consequences. Who would follow her heart … Thus Ruby Iyer was born. Ruby is her own person. She leads I follow.

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About The Author : Laxmi Hariharan

A near life experience told Laxmi Hariharan to write…She never stopped. Laxmi is the creator of Ruby Iyer and the Bombay Chronicles (The Destiny of Shaitan). London is where she writes. Bombay is what fuels her imagination.

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Tornado Giveaway : Battered Hope

The TORNADO GIVEAWAY which started on 5th Aug and is making waves all across the globe. It is a great opportunity to know about books and win them too. Yes, you can win around 700 books from over 80 authors by participating in the Raffelcoptor given at the end of each book’s post.

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Name of the Book: BATTERED HOPE
Author: Carol Graham

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1. Traci Lawrence
2. Marie Abanga
3. Charisse Harris

The Story:

Need encouragement? Ever feel hopeless? It is your choice to be VICTIM or VICTOR. Carol Graham lived a life of outrageous traumatic events, always a fighter and a winner over cancer, rape, marital abuse, jail, loss of child, huge financial losses from fraud and greed of others. Believes strongly that laughter will get you through anything. This fast paced memoir reads with all the elements of a good novel – character, conflict, suspense, and resolution. Follow her family through insurmountable hardships and witness the tenacity it takes for her to survive. It is a story of hope, perseverance, and faith. This is her compelling story

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About The Author : Carol Graham

Sharing laughter, inspiration and encouraging stories to anyone who has been put through the wringer of life. If I overcame tragedies…so can you. I am a motivational speaker sharing my incredible story of surviving cancer, rape, marital abuse, loss of child, suicide attempt, huge financial losses and more. I firmly believe laughter will get you through almost anything. I published Battered Hope in 2013, which is a memoir written as a compelling novel. It is a story of perseverence and faith.

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Tornado Giveaway : A Patchwork Quilt

The TORNADO GIVEAWAY has started on 5th Aug and is making waves all across the globe. It is a great opportunity to know about books and win them too. Yes, you can win around 700 books from over 80 authors by participating in the Raffelcoptor given at the end of each book’s post.

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Name of the Book: A PATCHWORK QUILT

Author: Sulekha Rawat

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Kriti Ghoshal

The Book

This book is a collection of poems by the mother-daughter duo, Sulekha and Shloka Rawat. 

Publishing facilitation : AuthorsUpFront

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About The Author : Sulekha Rawat
Sulekha is a dreamer, healer and writer; loves drinking strong and sweet tea, listening to music, watching movies, spending time with her family and friends, and pouring out her thoughts on the pages of her notebooks. She was born and brought-up in Mumbai and now lives in Delhi/NCR with her husband, Vikram Rawat, and now grown-up children, Shloka and Kartik. Sulekha also has a side-kick named Sparky, her 11 year old Dalmatian who listens to her read out her rough drafts and gives her suggestions for improving them with a shake of her adorable head.

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Tornado Giveaway : 26 – 26 Stories. 26 Colours. 26 Emotions

The TORNADO GIVEAWAY has started on 5th Aug and is making waves all across the globe. It is a great opportunity to know about books and win them too. Yes, you can win around 700 books from over 80 authors by participating in the Raffelcoptor given at the end of each book’s post.

Check all the Books Here

Name of the Book:  26 – 26 STORIES.26 COLOURS. 26 EMOTIONS

Author: Aditi Kaushiva

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1. Inderpreet Kaur Uppal

2. Leo

3. A. Moran-Soley

The Story

This anthology is an attempt at crafting stories which subscribe to the genre of flash-fiction which is a compendium of extremely brief narratives and stories. This anthology strives to explore the myriad hues of life by painting 26 bite-sized stories, each based on 26 colours which commence with every letter of the alphabet from A to Z. The themes developed in these stories range from marital despair to urban city-life blues, from love to loss, from child abuse to infidelity, divorce, and much more.

This anthology is inspired from ideas which took shape during the April A- Z blogging challenge which the author undertook in 2014. Each story has been written in just one day and tries to bear testimony to the fact that short, swiftly written, and transient narratives can be as powerful as the complexly constructed lines of drawn-out prose.

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About The Author : Aditi Kaushiva

In the author’s own words: A dreamer. A believer. An enthusiast. I’m in love with Life and I strongly pursue ‘Life is what YOU make of it’. A banker by profession and a blogger by chance, I’m here to share my world with you. It may not always be perfect but I certainly strive to make it beautiful. If you happen to visit my space do leave a comment…share your life’s snippets…I’d love to strike up a beautiful conversation with you!!

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