Friday, December 23, 2016

Spotlight : Shadowed Promise

From riots in Bombay to the riches of Beverly hills...
Sunanda Chatterjee


Moyna’s cousin panted at the doorway, heavy with child. “Who did this to you?” her father shouted. And Moyna knew that somehow she would be blamed for this unspeakable shame on the family. Her aunt blamed her for all the tragedies, from the death of Moyna’s own parents to the riots in Bombay. But, as her cousin lay dying of stab wounds, Moyna promised to protect the baby.

In a panic, eighteen-year-old Moyna made a hasty decision that would return to haunt her years later. 

Bullied as a child, Sameer wants to make the world a safer place.  He has spurned a cushy career in his father’s law firm for public service. Sameer is drawn to the mysterious Moyna when they meet in Los Angeles. The attraction seems mutual, but Moyna remains cautious and secretive about her past, insulating herself from love to protect others from her unlucky curse.

At the cusp of political victory, Sameer faces increasing gun violence and death threats leading to an FBI investigation. But his greatest challenge comes when a shadow from Moyna’s past threatens to destroy their future.

What hope do they have with the media hungering for a scandal?

A story of friendship, redemption, and forgiveness, “Shadowed Promise” is a journey from blind faith to triumphant love.

Read an excerpt of #SP here:

Sameer chased after Moyna as she opened the side-door to the stairwell. When the door nearly swung shut, he stuck in his foot and opened it again. She had already reached the landing, so he took the stairs two at a time. “Moyna, I wanted to say congratulations!”
Her face glowed in the cardinal and gold graduation gown. A low pony swung below the cap, the tassels of which hung at her cheek. She looked happy. She smiled at him, for a moment, without holding back. Her smile was dazzling in its brilliance. Why didn’t she smile more?
She said, “Was that all you wanted?”
He grinned. You have no idea what I want! “I was thinking… now that you’ve graduated, maybe we can take this to the next level.”
She stared at him. “Sameer, I have a lot of baggage. There are things about my past… I can never tell you.”
“I don’t care about the past. I want to know if there’s any hope of a future for us.”
She sighed, a sorrowful, regretful sigh that turned his heart cold, as if she had slapped him on his face. She would never let him into her heart. But she said, “You’ll never be satisfied with what I can offer.”
You’ve offered me nothing before! He put his arm around her waist and pulled her close. “As long as you’re giving me all you can offer. Moyna, you have no idea what you make me feel. Just be with me. With time, you’ll trust me enough to let me into that wonderful heart of yours.”
She stared with those hypnotic eyes. Her lip trembled a little. And he had no doubt she felt the same way. He drew her closer, held her face, and pressed his lips to hers, as her cap fell to the floor.
Her lips felt petal soft against his, her arms on his back felt like chains from which he never wanted freedom. His hands roved over her neck and back and came to rest on her hips. The smell of her perfume, her breath, the feel of her skin against his, intoxicated him.
Above and below them, footsteps of students echoed in the stairwell. He hungered for breath, but couldn’t let go. She seemed to melt in his arms as she clung to him, teasing his hair, and raking his back.
When she pulled away, he wondered what year it was.
She was panting.
He watched his reflection dance in her eyes and it felt so right. That’s all he wanted. Her image in his eyes, and his in hers. Nothing else mattered. “I … I think I’m in love with you.”
He felt her stiffen as she took a step back. Did I say something wrong? Her expression was inexplicable. Her lips trembled, her eyes moistened, and it seemed that every fiber of her body wanted to be with him.
And yet he heard her saying, “I can’t do this!” She turned away and darted down the corridor toward her room.
He chased after her and grabbed her wrist. “I don’t understand. Is there someone else?”
She whirled around to face him, eyes wild with panic. “What? Yes. Yes, there’s someone else!”
She tried to wrench her hand free, but he tightened his grip. “Who? Karan? How come I’ve never met him?”
She stopped struggling. “You’ll never understand. Please, Sameer, I can’t be with you. Walk away from me. For your own good. It’s best for both of us.”
“I don’t believe it.” He jabbed his finger at the stairwell. “Just a minute ago you were kissing me. Tell me it meant nothing to you!”
He saw a sparkle of tears in her eyes and his face softened. “Moyna, look into my eyes and tell me you don’t love me.”
She didn’t say anything. He wrapped her into a powerful embrace and kissed her, tasting the tears on her cheeks. He shivered as her hands snaked below his arms and ran up his back, hooking around his shoulders; she clung to him, and their bodies molded into each other.
He felt the warmth of her breath, her skin, and her flesh, and knew he never wanted to be with anyone else. After a moment’s hesitation, she kissed him back, sending his head spinning.
He lifted her off her feet with ease and pinned her against the wall. She wrapped her arms around his neck and nipped at his lips, as his hand found her breast. Control was out of the question. The fire of that raw desire burnt any logic he had left. He wanted her as much as she wanted him.
And then she struggled out of his embrace. A sharp pain pierced through his numbed consciousness when she stamped on his shoe with her three inch heel. He winced and hopped on one foot.
Panting, she glared at him and scrubbed her mouth. Then she pushed against him with both her hands, her eyes brimming with angry tears. “You arrogant, presumptuous, selfish bastard! Just because you’ve never been refused anything in your life, you think you can go about taking what’s not yours.”
Confused, he frowned and took a step toward her as she backed into the wall. “But you’re mine, Moyna!”
She gave a scornful laugh. “Your wealth means nothing to me. Your beauty means nothing to me. You’ll never be like Karan. Karan was brave, noble and selfless. You’re nothing!”
Sameer stepped back, his mind in turmoil. She hates me. Her dalliance with him had been a farce. The last three years had been a lie. He rubbed his forehead, stunned. “Wh…”
She yelled in a shaking voice, “Do you hear me? You mean nothing to me! Leave me alone.”

He clenched his fists, turned on his heel, and walked away, his steps booming in the quiet corridor, as his future with her vanished into oblivion.

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About the author

Freelance author, blogger, and ex-Indian Air Force physician Sunanda Joshi Chatterjee completed her graduate studies in Los Angeles, where she is a practicing pathologist. While medicine is her profession, writing is her passion. When she’s not at the microscope making diagnoses, she loves to write fiction. Her life experiences have taught her that no matter how different people are, their desires, fears, and challenges remain the same.

Her themes include romantic sagas, family dramas, immigrant experience, women’s issues, medicine, and spirituality. She loves extraordinary love stories and heartwarming tales of duty and passion. Her short stories have appeared in and 

She grew up in Bhilai, India, and lives in Arcadia, California with her husband and two wonderful children. In her free time, she paints, reads, sings, goes on long walks, and binge-watches TV crime dramas.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book Review : Knitted Tales

Short stories speak volumes though they end so soon that the reader is left thirsting for more. I have come to enjoy the short stories more & more as time goes by. Knitted Tales is a lovely collection of a myriad of emotions.

This collection is  by Rubina Ramesh whose tales have been published earlier in anthologies by Fablery, IndiReads &   Readomania among others.

One story is  about a child who behaves so strangely that the mom fears her secret may tumble out. What is causing nightmares ? Something that happened in the past or is something  creepy being foretold ? In another tale, racism is in the background & yet, friendship blooms & how ! Domestic abuse is the base of another tale .Even mountains speak & lament the loss of humanity .A young woman wants to break free.Is she able to break the shackles & chart her destiny? Legitimacy  is the  theme in another story.

And yet there is a common thread which connects all these tales. And that is,that  human emotions are so fragile , ever changing & continue to bind us all.The author weaves the tales with much love & how ! She subtly allows the readers a peek into the love that happens by chance, by birth, by sympathy, by simply being there. And the stories seem to be there in our subconscious too .Yet, they could only be narrated by the author in the most subtle way.She makes the readers aware of the underlying feelings  through her portrayal.The rest is left to the imagination of the readers. And this is what makes this collection so special !

The stories are so interestingly told that the reader can complete reading the collection in no time.And yet , the tales stay with you.And make the readers wonder why they coudn't think of such stories !

A Collection of Emotions


What forces an innocent girl to become a sex symbol? Her desires? Or cruel fate? 

Is a lifetime enough—for avenging a betrayal? How do you hide secrets that never stopped haunting you? 

Can vengeance and secrets of your past devastate your present? How can long-buried crimes of yours suddenly raise their head? Can sinning be saving?

Is your spouse your soulmate? What if they never understood your feelings? Can you still live with them?

Lastly, does life give only two options? Live or die? What if there is a third?

In her debut anthology, Rubina Ramesh tries to find answers to these questions that are often from the heart and yet makes the mind ponder over the solution. Or is it the other way round? Either way, Knitted Tales is a bouquet of emotions that is bound to touch both your head and your heart.

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 About the author

Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time.  She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona.  Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer. 

Her other published works include:

'Home is where Love is’ a short story in the anthology Writings from the Heart. Ed. by Beth Ann Masarik. 
‘You Stole My Heart’ and ‘Let me Go’. Short stories as a part of the anthology Long and Short of It by Indireads.
'Wake Me Up' as a part of the anthology Marijuana Diaries by Fablery Publishers.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Sexual corollaries in Rape.

The Times of India reported the  trials & sentencing in rape cases is based on myths perpetrated since a long time. The said article stated that a new study was done by associate professor, Mrinal Satish .The study indicates that punishments in rape cases are based on unscientific  evidence  which have little or no basis in facts.

The study says that it is believed that if the doctor is able to do the  two finger test ( TFT ) with the victim, that is an indication that victim has suffered less .And so ,the accused is given a feeble punishment .And in case, the doctor is unable to perform the two finger test, it is concluded that victim is virgin & not habituated to intercourse. Accordingly , the accused is punished harshly.This is outrageous.  as the two finger test has been denounced time & again as being totally inadequate for sexual assault cases. The Supreme Court has stated that TFT violates the privacy of rape victims. The TFT is based on the myth that hymen is flexible if  woman is accustomed to sexual intercourse & is tight if not so habituated. And yet, hymen can get torn due to  activities like swimming, cycling etc. Moreover, WHO has declared that TFT is outdated to determine sexual assault. And yet, Indian courts continue to be guided by this archaic test. And the courts should note that they are going against precedent set by the Supreme Court which has held that TFT offends  the dignity of the  victims of rape.

In rape cases,. the onus is on the perpetrator to show that he did not commit rape.And yet, courts rely on  medical jurisprudence textbooks which perpetrate patriarchy by relying on unscientific & invasive tests on the  victim .The manner in which  the rape cases are conducted makes a mockery of justice.It is like the victim is on trial .Her character is supposed to  be gauged  from her sexual history, her way of dressing , her way of conduct , her social standing , her race, caste etal.  As against this, the perpetrator is never judged on his character or caste, race etc. It is implied that men will be men & sexual assault, stalking, etc are second nature to them or perhaps an inherent, inborn , innate tendency .This tendency has been allowed to grow sorry nurtured, so much, that it has become a menace.

The trauma of rape is enough & proving it in court is like a series of sexual assaults on the victim though in- camera. This deters many victims from filing complaints & going through the rigmarole of the judicial process . And yet, the danger of perpetrators not being brought to justice is too evident. Such perpetrators would get bolder  & assault many more .And lawlessness would prevail more than ever before.

 Mrinal Satish 's next finding is that consent is implied if victim shows no physical injuries. This is another fallacy ,as a victim can be bullied by menacing threats which affect the victim mentally.Will a drugged woman or girl resist rape ? What about a woman, who has had a few drinks willingly or unwillingly &  is then subjected to rape ? What about her consent ? Is her silence because she is under the influence of drinks amount to consent  or silence in such cases is a negation of consent .Similarly, physically & mentally regarded females have been raped & they are unable to resist That's why no physical injuries are visible.Yet, can it by any stretch of imagination be said that there was no rape ? Rape is an act of power play. And when there is no consent, obviously it is an assault. And as it involves sex against and or without consent, it is rape. And yet, sentences have been less harsh  when physical injuries were absent & more when physical injuries were evident.Physical injuries are taken as proof that the victim resisted while absence of physical injuries is meant to be taken as consent .And this may be completely wrong &.This has lead to acquittal in many cases of rape.

Yet another myth in rape cases ( as determined by the aforesaid study ) is that if victim knew the accused, it is understood that both were attracted towards each other. And it was a an act of passion. This seems very much like Hindi films wheres stalking the heroine is the way to make her fall in line.What is consent anyway ?  And whose consent ? The accused   consented .Enough said. Such patriarchy prevails in our nation that the wheels of justice move slower and slower that is ,if they move at all.

And the as per National Crime Record Bureau,in 2015,  in 95 .5% rape cases, the accused were known to the victims. Does the pain, shame & trauma lessen in case, victim knows the accused ? On the contrary, in such cases, it is a violation  of trust .And yet , courts have awarded  higher punishment in cases, rapes were committed by strangers. This means only in 4.5 % cases were culprits given harsher sentences. The aim of punishment is to deter others from committing similar crimes. If punishments are feeble , the message being sent across is that rape is fine , if victim is known.Hence, choose known persons & assault them sexually .And punishment will be less or maybe if victim is too ashamed to admit rape happened, the perpetrator can get away scot free ! And taking cues from courts, cops will tell the victims to settle matter amicably as it is "Ghar ki baat ".

The study concludes that medical jurisprudence books are referred too often to bring in evidence such as hymen elasticity, chastity, presence, absence of injuries etc to verify the victim's complaint. Yet, rape as an an offence only talks about penetration & consent under section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. Though , the Justice Verma Commission report has broadened the definition of rape making it more inclusive, the tests in courts still rely on medical books to corroborate evidence about the woman's testimony.This is shocking & deplorable. Medical jurisprudence books need to be total rehauled to match the current scenario.Only those medical tests must be admitted as evidence which can be scientifically proved & are relevant legally.Then only can victims expect justice. Patriarchal attitudes about chastity of women  needs to give way.

Both the  law  & administration  need to be sensitized to deal with rape cases.Then only can some headway be made in dealing with cases of sexual assault .Only then, will women in India feel safe as also secure.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Spotlight : Shadow in the Mirror

Shadow In The Mirror 
Deepti Menon

Publisher: Readomania 


It all begins with a death. Nita, a pregnant woman falling from her balcony becomes the string that unravels the plot. Her death casts a shadow over many lives; her heartbroken father, her husband and Vinny, a young journalist, drawn in by the whiff of foul play and murder.

What follows are stories within stories, eras and worlds colliding with each other, leaving behind splintered relationships and mesmerizing slices of lives that appear to be drawn together and driven apart by the whimsical threads of destiny.
As events cast their shadows ahead to link the stories of Vinny, Kavita, Roma, Krish and Nita in an unrelenting knot, a journey starts to uncover the truth. What is the secret that links Nita’s death to the other characters? Will Vinny be able to unravel the mystery of Nita’s death?

From intimate diary entries and letters, to bantering over a meal and sharing memories while spring cleaning, this novel de-familiarizes the ordinary, presenting a kaleidoscope of our own pasts, broken edges and pulsating hearts. 

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About the Author

Deepti Menon has always believed in the power of the pen. Having done her post graduation in English Literature and her B.Ed. in English, she had the option of teaching and writing, and did both with great enjoyment. She started writing at the age of ten, long before she acquired a Diploma in Journalism. She also had the advantage of being an Army kid, and later an Army wife, and loved the idea of travelling around India, meeting new people and acquiring new skills. She firmly believes that much of her personality was honed during those travels.

In 2002, her light hearted book, ‘Arms and the Woman’, depicting life as seen through the eyes of an Army wife, was published by Rupa Publishers, Delhi. This was written mainly to reveal the warmth and camaraderie within the great institution. She is now working on her second book that is a work of fiction, and not- to-be divulged yet! 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Spotlight : His Drunken Wife

(Marriages Made in India Book #2)
Sundari Venkatraman


The badass Shikha is startled when the nerdy Abhimanyu proposes marriage. She loves... herself, and Abhimanyu doesn't figure on her list anywhere. For Abhimanyu, however, it was love at first sight when Shikha walked into RS Software, where the two of them work. 

When Abhimanyu shows her that he just might be rich enough for her, a pleasantly surprised Shikha accepts his marriage proposal and moves into his swanky apartment. 

But it looks like the love is all from only Abhi’s side as Shikha continues to drink herself crazy. Yeah, even at their wedding party. 

And then Abhi sets out on a honeymoon to Thailand with His Drunken Wife... 

*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.

Read an excerpt from #HDW

It was at least another half an hour before Shikha returned to the party. She directly walked up to her husband and kissed him on his masculine lips. “Forgive me?” 

Abhi pulled her close, kissing her deeply. “Always.”

“Did I tell you that you’re the best thing that’s happened to me?” she whispered in his ear, nipping at his earlobe. 

“Shikha,” growled Abhi, “Are you even aware of what you’re doing to me? Position yourself in front of me till I gain control or I won’t be responsible for the consequences.”

Shikha gave a tinkling laugh, her hand on his fly, tracing his shape delightedly. “How did I ever imagine you were a staid guy?”

Abhi groaned. “Take your hand off, woman. Please!”

Shikha laughed again, kissing him. “How I love to hear you beg.” She winked at him. 

She turned right around and got a waiter to get her another drink, much to Abhi’s chagrin. “Will you lay off the drink, Shikha?” he frowned. 

“Why? You can’t afford it or what?” she challenged him, a shapely eyebrow up in query, sherry brown eyes dancing. 

“You’ve already had four large pegs.”

“You’ve been counting.” The smile left her face.

“Do you plan to get drunk?”

“Arre yaar, Abhi! It’s our wedding, a once-in-a-lifetime event. I’m only celebrating. Give me a break,” she protested. 

“The way you’ve been knocking down the drinks, anyone would think that you’re in pain rather than celebrating.”

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About the author

Sundari Venkatraman

His Drunken Wife is the ninth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #2 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India; Book #1 being The Smitten Husband. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books are on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK, Canada & Australia under both #romance & #drama categories.

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