Tuesday, 16 December 2014






Rescued by Love 
by 
Shilpa Suraj

Author: Shilpa Suraj
Publisher: Harlequin India
ISBN: 978-93-5106-495-4
Genre: Romance
Price: INR 150
No. of pages: 184



The Blurb

When Naina Ahuja is kidnapped as hostage days before her father, a Supreme Court Chief Justice, must sentence a terrorist, the stakes are very high. Lt Col Arjun Rathore and his team are the only ones who can be trusted with the mission of saving her. 
During their arduous trek back through the hostile terrain of Ladakh, Arjun and Naina spend days in danger of losing their lives - and their hearts. Back in safety, the real world and its very real problems threaten – as do their own perceptions of the differences between them. 

They must separate – but will life rescue their love?



Review: When you have a opening line which is as enticing as it can get, you are pretty sure that the following pages will be nothing short of excitement that makes your pulse race every second. And believe me the book lived up to my expectation with a perfect balance of romance, action and drama. 

The start is racy with some action scenes in the terrain of Ladakh, followed by the blossoming of love between the kidnapped Naina Ahuja and her rescuer Lt Col Arjun Rathore, infact Naina was smitten by the suave Lt Col at his first sight and then what follows is the journey of their hearts through trying situations and turn of events. It is a story of coming together first then sort of parting ways only to be together again! And in the process trying to know each other better.

What is more impressive apart from the plot? Definitely the characters. Each and every character has been superbly dealt with bringing out the perfect blend of emotions while reading. Naina's character brings out that rigidness along with a sweet aura of romance and innocence to her whereas Arjun's character makes your heart flutter just as Naina's did in the story. Also a special mention to Aryan's character. Yes, it is so well penned. And when it is flavoured with perfect use of words, it adds to the overall effect making you visualize the story in front of your eyes.

A story with a good choice of words makes it more interesting to read and the author does justice to it with her writing and narration. 

This is a book that I finished in one go and reading the initial part of the story, somewhere it made me relive my sweet and naughty memories, of the days of our courtship. And I would like to thank the author for that.

Overall: Rescued by Love is a make-you-feel-good book with a happy ending which is usually with most of the romance stories but I recommend this book especially for the story and the characters. You will definitely fall in love with them.

Ratings: 4/5*

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Meet the Author





Shilpa was a year and a half when she was first introduced to the world of books. Her mother would park her with a picture book on the floor of the kitchen while she finished her cooking for the day. While it’s no longer the kitchen floor, you can still find her tucked away in a cosy nook somewhere with her nose buried in a book. While books in all genres interest her, it was romance that captured her heart. While racing through every romantic fiction book she could beg, borrow or buy, her over active imagination started to work overtime and weave its own stories. Years in the corporate world followed by a stint of entrepreneurship crystallised her belief that all she really wanted to do was give life to the stories bubbling inside of her. She briefly managed to tear herself away from the world of fiction to find her own personal happily ever after and now spends her time happily focusing on the two loves of her life – family and writing romances. 




You can stalk Shilpa Suraj @

                          

           
       




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Saturday, 13 December 2014


That morning we had no clue where we were about to be taken. We were waiting early morning at our hotel reception and I casually took a stroll outside to check the weather. And with double the speed I ushered myself back to the safe confines and stood near the reception a bit away from the main door. My teeth were still chattering aloud as the outside was too chilly for me to stand and take the soft rays of the sun. She eyed upon seeing me, gave a look and winced, "The temperatures have not run into minus yet. The sun is shining outside!" I gave her a wry smile and stood there waiting to be called by our guide.

"Did I make a mistake by choosing this destination for our annual trip?" I wondered and left a silent prayer to give me strength to endure this day. 

Armed with all my gloves, cap, jacket and with two layers of clothing under the jacket I braved walking outside, this time clutching her hand as the guide called us outside signalling it the start of the adventure.

And to further advance my worry he said quite animatedly that it's going to be one hell of an adventurous and tiring day. I simply placed my palm at now hyperventilating heart and crossed my fingers. 

The journey by car was far more enthralling as we could see some snow that had been swept to the corners of the road, mountain peaks in white and wind brushing past our faces.

My heart had somewhat come to its normal self but only till I came to know that the remaining ride to the top will be on a horse. I quivered. I saw her pretty excited for the ride and decided not to kill her excitement by proposing to stay back. My throat had gone dry as I reluctantly sat on the horse, for the first time in my life and saw hordes of them riding tourists uphill with deep valley on both the sides of the narrow patch called as a 'road'.

After having shouted the most in the half an hour journey, the sight was beautiful and welcoming. A table top covered full of snow with people enjoying the fun activities, clicking photographs and having a memorable time.

"Look there", she pointed a finger upwards. "I want to do it."

A rope was connecting the two points placed strategically in a downward slope. All we had to do was grab the rope as tight as possible and slide. The only thing being it was at some height.

"I value my life", I replied with a blank face.

"So do I. But imagine dying with my arms around you, looking into your terror struck face and shouting over the top of our voices would be like living our lives in that moment." She managed to drag me with a bit of emotional and more of a romantic drama pulling me closer to her and planting a kiss on my cheeks. "More would follow during the course of our adventure." She had winked saying that.

"I just hope that life doesn't blink at us", I murmured as she dragged me and I followed like an obedient pup. 


"It seems like the day of the 'Firsts'." I yelled as they pushed us, closed my eyes with my fingers clenching upon the harness tightly as my heart whirled from inside whereas she was as calm as a cat and enjoying with loud shouts of 'wooo' as we slid .  


"See you are alive and breathing!" She took my hand and placed it on my now thundering heartbeats and hugged me tight giving me enough warmth that was required at the table top of Khufri, Shimla.

Relieved that it was over and at the same time a little bit of me was happy that somewhere I beat the fear of heights, of doing something adrenaline that made be feel and hear the beating of my heart which in our day to day life gets unnoticed and unfelt. And to cherish the moment of rush I had the company of Mountain Dew along with piping hot bowl of Maggi and the smiling Her.

And this is exactly what is being seen in the below mentioned video - To rise above fear towards victory.



For more you can visit their Facebook page -  https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia.


Thursday, 11 December 2014


Today at PonderingTwo we have Mr. S.V.Divvaakar who writes under the pen name Dee Walker and is out with this latest thriller 'The Winner's Curse' . You can read my review here


He is an alumnus of IIT Delhi and a self employed professional assisting international companies to invest, set up, and grow their businesses in India and also serves on board as a professional Director. He alos works closely with international agencies in Pro Poor Policy and Programme Development, Monitoring and Evaluation. Through his writing and storytelling, he yearns to connect with young people who he believes are the key to a better world, a better tomorrow.






In conversation with Dee Walker on his latest book and writing...


PonderingTwo welcomes you. It is a pleasure to host you on the blog and thank you so much for the interview.

1) How did the transition happen from being a business consultant to an author?

It is not a transition; these remain two parallel tracks, one has been running for a longer time. I believe I will always remain an evaluator and business observer, for my professional work not only enriches my writing in many ways - source of interesting plots, characters, and settings- which you can feel at several places in The Winner’s Curse, but also funds the luxury of being able to write and promote the writing until one might get a critical threshold of recognition.

2) How different and challenging it is for you sitting in a room penning your thoughts than being in a corporate suit? 

Being self employed and travelling/ working across three time zones gives me the liberty of working business deals in pyjamas and equally writing manuscript texts in suits inside airport lounges. However, I write best early morning or late night, invariably therefore in my night clothes.  But the most challenging part is when I am stuck or grappling with a plot point calling for resolution and the day is lined up with meetings - then I really wish I could take the day off. Interestingly, when I give up looking for it, the answer pops up miraculously, rather soon.

3) What was your inspiration to pen 'The Winner's Curse' ?

I came across this Nobel Prize winning theory called the Winner’s Curse, which says that the winner in an auction is the one who pays the highest price, betting on the uncertain future value of his purchase. He then tries to preserve its image and value at times even by deceit and deception. I have seen this curse play in many people’s lives, including those of some illustrious persons. Besides that, my professional and first hand knowledge of some of the tech stuff mentioned in the book.

4) How different was the journey penning the thriller compared to your previous books? 

My attempt is to write thrillers, I have my next two books coming out in end 2015. The other book I wrote (BBB) is more a memoir about the travails of getting a book published and sold. It is a kind of key, a reality check for aspiring authors.

5) According to you how difficult it is to market a book especially when we see thousands of books coming out each year? 

It is not only difficult; it is indeterminate. There is no sure-fire formula to crack the market. No one knows what makes a book connect. I believe there is an ethereal force that gathers momentum when many readers begin to feel good about a book. It can be catalysed a bit by marketing/promo tricks but never faked or engineered. So, having done all, we must eventually surrender to the  Cosmic Will to give us our due retribution and accept the verdict humbly, and gather enough resolve to pick up the tools once again to chisel our next works.

6) Do you see yourself bidding the corporate world goodbye and penning only novels?

Never. I am fortunate to have the luxury of being in the corporate world on my own terms, i.e., working with the best, but not as an employee. I have discovered that it is possible to devote quality time to writing, if one cuts off other distractions or obligations that are a drag. For me, TV alone has given way to a lot of writing time.  And I have been lucky to be able to junk some less paying work for more productive, high-end work or for writing.

7) Who are your favourite authors? 

Many. All time inspirations (fiction): Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Frederic Forsyth, and Arthur Hailey. I have read all their books; several of them more than once.

Among contemporary Indian thriller writers, @Ashwin Sanghi  (I loved Rozabal Line most) and @RaviSubramanian (loved Incredible Banker and Devil in Pin Stripes most). Both are fine human beings too as I discovered in person.

8) Any advice that you would like to give to young and upcoming authors?

Know clearly why you wish to write. Writing is and should be its own reward; don’t get trapped by the glitz and glitter, the lure of fame and fortune, which, as Ashwin Sanghi says in his latest book, is 99% good luck and 1% bloody good luck. And write with loyalty, seek to give the reader her time and money’s worth, a book is a sacred pact, a seal of trust. You may fail to delight, but your intent should shine through.

Beyond that, it is a play of stars. In the beautiful sky above there are a million stars, but only one Sun and one Moon that loom so large.  

That is the hard truth for writers too: a hundred thousand writers but only one CB, one AS, and one- oops- two RS. Alas, how many suns can the sky hold? But we can all be twinkling little stars, adding to the grandeur of the sky. It can be a very depressing or enlightening thought, depending how one takes it. I vacillate between both emotions.  

9) Describe yourself in a sentence?

Inspired by the Sun, I seek to spread happiness and light, fully aware that for the light and warmth to shine through something of me has to burn within incessantly.

10) One thing that comes to your mind when I say:
a) Author – pain and pleasure, in relentless turns
b) Books – windows to an inner magical world
c) Life -   intractable if you order, indulging if you surrender


A huge thank you for sharing some interesting things on writing and I must say the answers to the questions are straight from the heart and can connect with readers easily. And here's wishing you all the very best for your future endeavours!!

Monday, 8 December 2014




Cover Reveal:

MATCHES MADE IN HEAVEN

Romantic Short Stories by

Sundari Venkatraman

Sneak Peak

Swayamwar on TV reality show; Dating Clubs; Matchmaking websites; parents setting up their children with one another; friends getting married and more – there are many ways that couples get together for hopefully a “Happily Ever After” experience. MATCHES MADE IN HEAVEN explores the various premises in the form of short stories that one can relate to in everyday life. There is even one based on Gods falling in love. Shh! I am not going to say anything further. It’s for you to find out.

And there are thirteen of them. While many insist that “13” is an unlucky number, I am quite fascinated by it. I absolutely believe that it’s a lucky number for me. That’s why I decided to publish this anthology with 13 romantic stories. 



About the author

Sundari Venkatraman has authored four novels and a short story anthology till now, Matches Made In Heaven (anthology) being the latest. The Malhotra Bride; Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven have all been self-published on Amazon under the banner of Flaming Sun. The three novels are regularly seen on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ Contemporary Romances list. The Box Set and Anthology are bound to catch up soon. 



A great fan of Mills & Boon romances over the past four decades, Sundari has always believed in ‘Happily Ever Afters’ and all her books promise happy endings. 

Matches Made In Heaven is a compilation of thirteen short stories – all romantic – based on many situations anyone can come upon in their day-to-day lives. The stories revolve around the different ways a couple can get to meet and tie the knot in a culture rich country like India. Those reading the stories will definitely be able to connect realising that one of the situations has definitely been a part of their lives. 


So here you go........

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Book Launch by:



Wednesday, 3 December 2014


I had a wonderful privilege to attend a special screening of the movie Bhopal - A Prayer for Rain in Mumbai which in fact commemorates with the 30th anniversary of the deadly gas leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal - the biggest man-made disaster in the history.

With a bit of restlessness and eagerness as well, I waited for the movie to start and trust me not even for a single minute I was left disappointed. Many things were going in my mind before the start of the movie but all those things were laid to rest just by the first frame itself.




I flew back in time with those dusty and dirty roads of yesteryears, unhygienic state of living (which shockingly still exists in some parts of our country) and more importantly a constant struggle to earn a livelihood. Rajpal Yadav portrays a role of a labourer with finesse and Tannishta Chatterjee essays the character of concerned and highly understanding on screen spouse with ease. Kal Penn portrays the character of a journalist trying hard to reveal the actual truth and in the process allows the viewers a break from all the gloom and sadness that is being presented on screen with his comic.

There are no songs and dance sequence in the movie but the void of a 'commercial - money spinning movie' is filled by a stark and striking background score, coupled with its dark and hard hitting facts, along with a subtle mix of varying human emotions which is very nicely brought out by all the characters in the movie. At times, few of the scenes left me shockingly disturbed especially at the tail end of the movie which made my heart to recoil in its shell. 



But what was even more striking and audacious is the way the state government had handled this disaster at that time, brazenly passing the responsibility off their shoulders and I don't see any better even today after three decades of the disaster. 

What was pleasing to see in the movie was the portrayal of the character of the chairman of Union Carbide, Mr. Anderson played by Martin Sheen. One would usually think the character to be shown as the villainous and the bad guy but it is actually not. Yes, the character is grey, with no signs of remorse. But with the only concern of his image and reputation which should not take a hit whatsoever. 

Breaking out from the commercial league of Cinema, director Ravi Kumar has taken a bold step in directing this social whodunit thriller without any gimmicky but with straight facts that will hit you hard and leave you thinking and worried for the future.

Overall, the director has done a thorough justice through his cinematic lens in this dramatization inspired by real events. Am sure you well have goosebumps making you to hold on to your seat tight while watching the movie and leaving you with one haunting question in mind - 

- Thirty years later is the world safe?


Tuesday, 2 December 2014



Author: Dee Walker
Publisher: Shrishti Publishers & Distributors
ISBN: 978-93-82665-24-3
Genre: Fiction
No. of pages: 283
Price: INR 195



On the cover: Orphan Harsh makes it to the billionaire club with a burning vision, sheer intellect and the blessings of his political Godfather. The favours must now be paid back, through a huge Guru Dakshina. To honour his Master's wish, Harsh, with the help of his fellow IITians, sets out to create a never-seen-before governance technology based on the national ID numbers that will change the face of democratic India.

Everything is at stake: money, reputations, egos and morals. Even lives.

Will they succumb to insatiable greed in the murky games of politics, backstabbing and subterfuge, or will they be redeemed by the "Ten Commandments" that once forged their ideals at college?

If you thought that the supreme technology and unalloyed power can bring lasting public good, or that e-governance and transparency can address the ills of our system. The Winner's Curse... will force you to think again. For, ultimately, what's at stake is YOU.

The Winner's Curse ...: the turbulent voyage of talent and intellect in the morass of turpitude.

Review: When I read the blurb it gave a feeling that the story will be something worth a read as I felt it to be unique and class apart from the rest of the thrillers that I have read till date. And when I got an opportunity to read and review the book, I grabbed it with a glee on my face. And I must say the book had completely arrested me, leaving me in complete awe and astonishment. And without giving out any plot outlines, I'll proceed with the review.

The book started a tad slow but caught pace rapidly with each turn of the page and got me completely hooked with it's engrossing storyline, strong and defining characters, excellent narration and twists after twists which is what keeps the story moving forward. The way in which the sub-plots are handled by the author and weaved around the main plot shows the author's complete control and direction over his storyline. And apart from that, how the story progresses from past to present to past makes it even more gripping.

One can easily relate to the characters shown in the story and can probably tell who is who in the real world. Similarly, few of the instances are strikingly similar to what's actually been happening in the recent past. And also, the characters are very nicely etched, in a way that brings out the subtle emotions of greed, dominance, jealously etc. perfectly. 

The writing is crisp and clean without any proof reading errors. The book is perfectly edited which keeps the readers on tenterhooks all the while. The page quality is perfect and the cover design is also apt.

The book is based on the Ten Commandments of IIT which are sadly forgotten in today's times. The author through the use of the ten commandments tries to show the people's mindset after passing out from the institute and how they get lost in the starry world of money, fame and power. In fact it is the author's way to reflect on the forgotten Ten commandments. 

And more importantly, the author carries the message of truth, integrity, justice and honesty through the story and as it is mentioned in the book - "For truth can only be saved by conscience."  

Overall: For all the book lovers especially those inclined towards thriller, I say, this is the book to lay your hands upon asap. An unputdownable, riveting political thriller that will leave you sitting on the edge of your couch! Highly recommended.

Ratings on: 

Plot - 4/5*
Characterization - 5/5*
Writing - 4/5*
Entertainment - 5/5*
Overall - 4.5/5*

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the author, Dee Walker  for the signed copy of the book and also to +Yatin Gupta for getting me an opportunity to read this wonderful thriller. Thank you!



Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. The book will soon hit the stores. You can pre-order the book from Amazon.

Cheers!!


Saturday, 29 November 2014




Montu

Montu saw something usual while he was walking back home. He simply shook his head, made a wry face and continued walking. Walking for few steps, his insides suddenly quivered leading him to take a walk back where he had saw a group of people devouring some road side foodstuff. He stood there as one of them rolled the paper dish into a ball and threw it aside to a corner near near the boundary wall of a building. He swiftly took it in his hands and threw it in the dustbin placed near the stall. He then urged the group to keep their surroundings clean and cultivate a habit to raise their voice for their betterment and make a notable difference in our surroundings.

"Be the change if you want to see the change in your surroundings, kyunki bin bole ab raha nahi jayega" - Montu said as he walked to his way. #AbMontuBolega

What is the campaign all about?

As a global leader in consumer health and hygeine, RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser), has launched a new campaign in tune with its social responsibility on Strepsils "Ab Montu Bolega". It is a digital campaign which resides on an exclusive online platform www.abmontubolega.com that encourages people to speak their minds and not to be a silent spectator. 

Bollywood actor Saqib Salim of Mere Dad Ki Maruti and Hawa Hawaii fame has been roped in to gave Montu a face that could speak up without any inhibitions. The campaign creatively shows his journey in an interesting way where he speaks his mind without any fears and possesses enough courage to stand up and speak on issues that concern the youth as well as modern and constantly changing India. And in this journey, Strepsils  gives him that much needed voice of courage to speak up and be heard on issues that concern the welfare of the people and society by large.

The basic aim of the campaign is to allow people to let their voices be heard in support of what they think is right. The campaign provides a sort of a boost to the Bharat Swaach Abhiyan that is initiated by the Hon. Prime Minister of our country. And now it is up to us to not let such initiatives and this campaign lie down for a sad demise but instead it is high time to stand up and let the power of our voices be heard for a clean India.

So are you game to be a part of this campaign and give Montu a much needed show of Power of Voice to Clean India?

Below is the video of the Ab Montu Bolega campaign.


For more, you can visit - www.abmontubolega.com
Follow on Twitter - www.twitter.com/strepsilsindia
Find them on Facebook - www.facebook.com/strepsilsindia