J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the category “book tour”

Book Tour – The Treasure Syndicate

The Treasure Syndicate by Jatin Kuberkar

~ Book Tour ~

18th to 20th September


About the Book:

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When Kaliyug resolved to enter Aryavatra, and encountered the lats Pandav, king a curse gave the world it’s first ‘Nidhi-Palak’ or The Guardian of treasure Troves in the form of Lord Kuber’s mortal son, Suta. In time, the Guardian bloodline scattered all over the world. Acharya Agnihotri is an astrologer. He searches for hidden treasures, to fulfill his destiny as a ‘Nidhi-Palak’. Dr. Mahesh secretly finances missions for Acharya. Kumar is favored by unfathomable luck.. Jabbar is a legendary digger, and Srikanth is just a common man. United, they form the Treasure Syndicate, always a team of five; a motley mix with an uncanny balance. Bound by the elaborate framework of coincidence, destiny, and fate, the mission of the syndicate is not a cakewalk. The danger is real, and the conditions are never favorable. A hunting past awaits Acharya’s team, as the Kaliyug threatens to turn the mission upside down.

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon

About the Author:

Jatin Kuberkar copy

For the mortal world, I pretend to be a Software Engineer who works hard (or hardly?) in the hours of a day. I am the guy next door, a hard core Harry Potter fan and a movie buff. I literally ‘live’ every movie, I have strong opinions about its content and I hate it when a movie based on an interesting concept is messed up for the sake of commercial value. I enjoy watching cartoon shows (doremon, dora and Choota Bheem) with my son. I never get bored of listen to the endless chatter of my wife. When I’m not writing, I make toys for children.

But beyond the boundaries of this ‘cholesterol rich’ coil, I am a rider of rapturous thoughts. I am a thinker, a philosopher, a seeker, a story-teller, a writer, a wanderer and every other thing that a thought can be. At times some of these figments fire out of my thoughtful bowl and command me to write, muse, create, recreate, destroy…EXPRESS!

Who Am I? I have been asking this question to myself since 33 years, and I got a different answer always. Sometimes I get confused and think, am I asking the right question to seek the correct answer? or may be that am I missing the  whole fantastic universal drama around me while I am busy finding an answer to an irrelevant question?

Does the answer even matter?

Contact the Author:

Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

 

New Book Tour

About the Book:

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The Man

Security expert Nikhil Mahajan is in mortal danger. Gravely injured and unable to see, he is in the midst of hostile strangers in an unknown place. Any hope of survival is fast fading away. 

 

The Angel

Should an innocent man be left to die just because he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Someone has to intervene.


Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com


Read Short Excerpts:


#1

He walked across the few yards of the forest toward his freedom, leaving behind his guardian angel. He walked across the road to the army cantonment fence leaving behind a piece of his soul. His chest, it seemed, would explode but for the heavy weight pressing on his lungs.

 


#2

Taking the support of the wall, head bent down, he stood under the shower with the water running down his face, and wept. The adrenaline rush of keeping himself alive receded as he emptied the fears, worries, and helplessness of the past month down the drain with the bathwater. The thought of being able to see his parents soon made him more emotional. He sniffed and sniveled, and resolved to take back control of his life. And most of all, he resolved to do something about those monsters back in the Tral forest.

 

Reviews for Guardian Angel:

 

I couldn’t have begun the New Year with a better read! Thrilling, fast-paced, edgy…Ruchi Singh is on top of her game with this unputdownable book! ~ Adite

 

The build up to the culmination is fantastic – the suspense carries through to the end. The romance simmers and sparkles. ~ Reet Singh 

 

Guardian Angel is a brilliant thriller set in Kashmir in which both the principal characters are in deep trouble. This sets the tone for a nail-biting story. There is no let up in the suspense and the book kept me hooked till the last page. I liked the ending immensely! ~ Jennifer Thompson

 

About the Author:

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Winner of TOI WriteIndia Season 1, Ruchi Singh is a novelist, and writes in two genres; romance and romantic thriller. A voracious reader, she loves everything—from classics to memoirs to editorials to chick-lit, but her favourite genre is ‘romantic thriller’. Besides writing and reading, her other interests include dabbling with Indian classical dance forms.

 

Blog | Official Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter


Giveaway:

~ 1 winner for 500/- Amazon Gift Card + kindle copy of Guardian Angel
~ 1 winner for 250/- Amazon Gift Card + kindle copy of Guardian Angel

 

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Book Blitz – Curse of Dragon’s Claim

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About the Book

The flame within a dragon warrior’s heart awakens Arianna’s passion as she begins a journey in which she will discover she’s something more than she ever imagined possible.

The realm of the dragons is a world of magic, danger, and mystery. For centuries they’ve been at war with the vampires, but now the two enemies must work together to save all immortals, and the mortals they co-exist with, from an ancient evil. In order to do so, they need the help of the Forsaken, descendants of immortals who were cast out into the human realm, their memories wiped clean of their true heritage.

Clayne MacDagon is a powerful dragon warrior who is sent on a mission to find one of the Forsaken. Although he’s told that this woman is his fated mate, he can’t believe it could possibly be true. Arianna Mergliano possesses both dragon and vampire blood, and Clayne has an intense hatred for anything even remotely related to vampires, the evil beings who were responsible for his beloved twin’s death.

When Arianna meets Clayne, she’s convinced that the man is insane, or maybe he’s a warlock or even the devil himself, but whichever it is, she wants nothing to do with him.

Clayne knows he can’t fail at his mission. And once he meets Arianna he also knows that what he’s been told is true—she is, ironically, his intended mate.

Convincing her to accept him is only the beginning. He has to protect her from those who might want her dead. Together, they must face the shadows and evil that have long plagued the immortal realms and find a way to survive the coming war.

Curse of a Dragon's Claim Cover

Excerpt

Curse of the Dragon Claim Book Two

Curse of the Dragon Claim

“Arianna, please come and sit down so I can fix your hair.” Alba waved Arianna over to the chair in front of a long mirror.

“Sorry, I’m excited. Can’t sit down.” Nevertheless, Arianna obeyed Alba’s direction and sat down.

“We must be ready to leave within an hour. It’s quite a drive to the Allegretti summer home. I’m eager to spend time there. It’s beautiful.” Alba flitted around as she brushed then braided Arianna’s long tresses. “I’ve laid your emerald dress out. If you approve, I’ll pack it. I’ve another for you to travel in.” She pointed to the yellow traveling dress.

Arianna looked toward the bed where her garments were laid out in preparation. “Oh, a lovely choice.”

“Yes, it is. I thought it would make a wonderful impression for this afternoon’s luncheon. In the evening, you can wear your scarlet dress. You’ll be breathtaking.”

“Thank you, Alba. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“No thanks is necessary. I’m doing what your mama asked me to do.” Alba smiled. Arianna watched Alba in the mirror as she fussed with her hair, arranging it on top of her head.

“My hair looks wonderful.” Arianna appraised Alba’s handiwork.

“You should think more of things like hairstyles, dresses, and shopping. It’s what wealthy young women are supposed to do. You spend too much time thinking about other people. This event is important. Your papa and Signor Allegretti are depending on it to impress their new associates. Your papa is counting on you to charm them as you always do.” Alba set the carved jewelry box on the dressing table. “Perhaps you should pick some jewels out now so as not to risk taking all with you.”

“Perhaps.” Arianna frowned, her gaze locking on the older woman’s reflection in the mirror. “I feel particularly nervous about this garden party. For some reason I have this uneasiness…no, not really uneasy, I’m not sure what it is, but I’m worried.” Arianna placed her hand over her stomach. It pained her. “I feel something life changing is about to occur.”

“Hush now, Arianna.” Alba patted her arm. “Such talk makes people very nervous, including me. Change can be good.”

“I can’t help it, I feel something momentous will soon happen. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. I need to be able to speak of things to someone, and the only one I can reveal myself to is you.” Arianna pouted.

“Put these thoughts from your mind and relax. You’re merely nervous about meeting the eligible gentlemen your father invited. I overheard your father say there will be several eligible, well-respected businessmen there. A widower and one who has never been wed are said to be present.”

“Father doesn’t know what an excellent catch is.” Arianna rolled her eyes. “He’s only looking at their wealth.”

“Of course he is, Arianna. It would do you well to understand the way of it. You’d never wed a pauper. You are meant for greater things. Hold still, your hair’s almost done,” Alba instructed.

Arianna handed Alba another pin. The words swirled in her head, a familiar mantra she’d long since gotten tired of.

“There, you’re absolutely exquisite. I want you to look wonderful as soon as you step off the carriage. We’ll refresh you once you’re there. But first impressions, you know.”

“I can’t believe you think wealth’s the only important thing. Not you, Alba. Love’s important. Don’t you think? Isn’t love with physical attraction most important? I know most girls don’t think of this. But I do.”

“I know you think differently in many things, but don’t speak of this to any other. Just remember, love doesn’t pay your bills or buy your lovely silks. Love doesn’t do much, and it may not last.” She motioned for Arianna to stand, then helped her into her dress.

“Papa and Mama loved each other, theirs lasted.”

“Yes, a rarity in itself. If you can tolerate him and he’s wealthy, you’ve the makings of a good husband. Love may come.” Alba stood back, inspected Arianna, and smiled. “You look gorgeous. Let’s get downstairs. The carriage is already parked out front.”

“There will be other females there to charm the gentlemen. They’re much better at being amusing. Sarah’s always so charming and delightful.”

“Yes, but these men are eligible suitors. You’re in need of a husband.”

“I don’t need a husband, at least not yet.”

“Hush, you speak silliness,” Alba scolded as only a beloved servant could do. “You’re a young woman, you need a husband.”

“The other girls need husbands too.”

“Don’t be foolish, you know as well as I, Rafaela’s engaged, Jenna’s being courted by a very appropriate suitor, and Sarah…well, she’s Sarah. You most certainly need a husband. You’re nineteen years old, and getting older every day.”

“You make me sound ancient.” Arianna giggled.

“Someone must take care of you. It won’t be your father forever, he grows older too.”

“Truly, I can take care of myself.”

* * * *

Clayne relaxed against the ornate couch, a drink in his hand. He appraised the home with a quick eye, the luxury of the human’s dwelling spartan compared to the spacious townhouse he’d recently purchased in the heart of Florence. The invitation to the Allegretti home was most advantageous. It allowed him to continue his search without breaking his cover of a rich merchant who recently relocated from Rome to enjoy the art and culture of Florence, the jewel of the Renaissance.

It amused him to interact with these uncomplicated people. Signor Antonio Mergliano had been insistent that Clayne accept the invitation to the garden party, assuring him an entertaining visit. For some reason, Clayne was compelled to accept, he liked the old man.

Clayne shifted. While fortuitous, the invite was a hindrance. He should be searching for a godforsaken female with the mark of the dragon. No doubt the Forsaken bitch was an ugly, cold-hearted, half-breed bloodsucker. His blood boiled at the very notion of a vampire’s offspring.

There’s no fucking way she’ll be my mate. Mother’s prediction is wrong.

Clayne stood up, stretching his legs. Taking a sip of his drink, it cooled his inner heat. He burned with annoyance at having to do the Goddess Amuliana Synvera’s bidding.

His hatred for anything remotely related to vampires ate at him. They were only good for killing, as far as he was concerned. As loyal as he was to his king, this quest made his temper burn. He’d much rather be back in Ejdeha Dragoni having his teeth pulled than searching for this abomination in human form.

Mother’s wrong. How could the fates be so cruel to me?

He sighed into his drink. It had been years since he’d spent so much time among mortals. Only his trips for his king drew him from his seclusion, and the grief still stung at the loss of his beloved sister.

Perhaps he’d find a simple-minded human female to dally with, relieve his frustrations. Dragon females could be so complicated and greedy of his time. Often, human girls pretended to be virtuous, yet he knew better, seeing through their facade immediately. Allegretti’s daughter was one such female, she smelled of many men. Perhaps she’d be willing and eager to sneak off to a secluded place where he could get lost for a bit between her thighs. The thought brought a smile to his face.

 

Ciara

About the Author

Welcome to Ciara Lake’s World. Meet Gorgeous Werewolves, Vampires, Dragons, Mermaids, Wizards, Witches, Mythological Gods and Goddesses, Mere Mortals And More! Fiction has always been a passion of mine. Creating worlds and developing characters is a great way for me to relieve the stress and strain of my everyday world. In fantasy (paranormal) and sci-fi stories, the author has the unique ability to invent wonderfully exotic places and people. I do that in my books. These fantastic genres provide a limitless ability to be creative and inventive. My stories provide an escape into a special world filled with unique and otherworldly things. And there is always a happy ending.

Website * Twitter * Goodreads

Book Review: The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm

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I recently read this book and wrote a review about it, which is posted below. But first, here is an excerpt from the novel.

About the Book

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“The metal horned unicorns are doomed!” That’s what Lauda Lead Horn wailed when she first saw the tribe’s new savior. OK, so his horn was not metal. . .and he did not have a magic power. . .and he was really a puny little runt. But doomed? Were things really that bad? 

Well, things were pretty bad in the land of MarBryn. Magh, an evil sorcerer utilized unicorn horns and hooves to create his magical potions and spells. Those he used, to increase his power and to conquer everyone in his path. All of the unicorns from the Tribe of the Metal Horn were now gone . . . except for twelve survivors. 

Before the blue unicorn was born, Numen told Alumna, the aluminum-horned oracle, that he had a plan to bring the tribe back home to Unimaise. His prophecy was, “Only the blue unicorn can join with the Moon-Star. Until then, no new unicorns will be born.” Blue was the last unicorn born. Twenty years later, his horn was still covered with a plain blue colored hide. There was not a glint of metal to be seen on it or his hooves. And he still didn’t have any magic. But he was no longer scrawny and he had his wits. Though no one else in the tribe thought he had a chance, Blue felt ready to make Magh pay for his evil deeds. And he went off to do it alone. That was Blue’s first mistake. If the entire tribe was not standing horn-tip to horn-tip at the proper time and the exact place to help usher the Moon-Star Spirit into Blue’s horn, he would die. Then, the rest of the tribe would really be doomed. 

Readers will follow along two journey paths in this book. Blue is joined in his travels by his mentor Gaiso, the Stag and his friend, Girasol the Firebird as they try to find their way across a danger-filled MarBryn to Muzika Woods. The rest of Blue’s tribe is forced to follow another route due to Nix Nickle Horn’s unfortunate incident with a Manticore. Nix, the great unicorn defender must safely lead the way for Ghel, the Golden-Horned unicorn; Silubhra Silver Horn; Cornum the Brass-Horned unicorn; Steel Horned Style; Cuprum the Copper-Horned unicorn; Tin-Horned Tinam; Dr. Zinko; Iown the Iron-Horned unicorn and the others in an action packed adventure to their destination in Muzika Woods. Both journey paths converge there in the Nebulium Circle.

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble

About the Author

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I’m Sybrina. . .. . .Just one of millions of wannabe author/singer/songwriters out there but I hope, after reading or hearing my books and songs, you’ll think my contributions to the world have as much value as any other famous artist out there today.

Fame is all in being in the right place at the right time but at least with the internet and venues like this, all of us have opportunities to share our creativity with the world. I’m so happy that I am able to share my works with you. That is awesome!

The books I’ve written span a wide range between illustrated picture books, coloring books and YA novels to technical and how-to books. If you’re so inclined you can read a little bit about the inspiration for each one below.

My latest effort is “The Blue Unicorn’s Journey To Osm. It is a book I started writing 30 something years ago and never finished. At the time, it was meant to be an epic fantasy along the lines of novels written by Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Ursula K. Le Guin and other amazing fantasy writers. I’ve pulled out my notes, dusted off the outline and began rewriting and expanding upon the 50 pages I had began. This story is now available as an Illustrated Book for teens and older readers in full color and in black and white, too. The black and white version is a “Read and Color” book. Read a chapter, then color the following pages. How fun is that? There is also a picture book for pre-schoolers called Unicorns From Unimaise – The Magical Metal-Horn Trobe. A longer version of the chapter book will soon be available as an Illustrated Novel with a companion glossary called, The Marbryn Compendium. All of the fantastic fantasy illustrations are by Dasguptarts. There is also a companion coloring/character description book, edited by Calyie Martin. It will introduce potential readers to the myriad of characters, places and things in the story.

Website * Twitter * Goodreads

My Review

I really loved this book! From MarBryn to Unimaise, this enchanting book kept me enthralled to the very end. The writing was captivating, and author Sybrina Durant included enough description so that I could envision each individual creature, as well as the mystical land of MarBryn. The artwork throughout the book is creative and colorful, and artist Dasguptarts has a unique, distinctive style that defines the novel. I also liked the options at the end of the book, so that readers can purchase coloring books, a picture book, and various other merch in relation to the series. The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm was so imaginative that I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy fiction.

Soul Warrior Book Blast  

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15th to 17th September, 2017

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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:
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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 :

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Pinterest
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Book Tour for Breathing Two Worlds

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Excerpt

“Oh!” the Mom answered, but could not contain her curiosity with one hand holding the hyper toddler and the other on her hip she could not resist, “You two don’t look like brother-sister, hmmm. So, what is your relationship?” she inquired with a slight smile in a soft voice but without any inhibition. A handful of seniors sitting in the same room observed all the drama and nodded to each other while their fingers were moving on the Tulsi neck beads.

Neena rolled her eyes and thought to herself, “Jeez! We Indians are always darn inquisitive.”

Nikhil immediately got up and started walking towards the dining area. This was happening to them for the umpteenth time, and he was now tired of clarifying things. He had lived in this country for half a decade now and still he could never understand the fascination Indians had for marriage and children. 

Neena was confused at first because it was unlike Nikhil to be so rude. On the contrary, sometimes Neena referred to him on lessons in patience but today it was different. But then she didn’t have a choice; she felt it was rude to walk away from the young mother leaving the conversation unanswered. Moreover given Indian mentality in all possibility, she might even follow them till she had a convincing answer to her question. 

About the Book:

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Neena Arya, a Delhi-born goes abroad for further studies and decides to settle down there. Determined to be a ‘somebody’ from a ‘nobody’ she blends with the Americans via the accent and their mannerisms while having a live-in relationship with her European boyfriend, Adan Somoza.

When illness hits home, Neena rushes to meet her ailing dad. Tragedy strikes and amidst the mingling with relatives and friends, she finds herself suffocated with the two different cultures that she has been breathing since she moved to the United States. How will she strike a balance between both the cultures as she continues to support her widowed mother? Will she be able to do justice to her personal and professional life after the loss?

Amidst the adjusting she bonds with an ally and learns about ties beyond blood. On what grounds will she be able to form an invisible thread that she has longed for since childhood?

Breathing Two Worlds ventures into cultures and ethnicity allowing Neena to ponder upon her foundation and priorities.

Available on Amazon

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About the Author:

Ruchira Khanna, a biochemist turned writer, left her homeland of India to study in America, where she obtained her Master’s degree in Biochemistry from SJSU and a degree in Technical Writing from UC Berkeley.

After finishing her studies, Ruchira worked as a biochemist at a Silicon Valley startup for five years. After the birth of her son, Ruchira took a job as a technical writer, so that she could work from home. Soon, she began doing freelance writing work as well.

Her love of writing grew and she started working on her own books. After four years of freelancing, Ruchira published her first book, a fiction novel for adults called Choices.

Then came the children’s book The Adventures of Alex and Angelo: The Mystery of the Missing Iguana. She got a thumb’s up review from Kirkus Reviews.

In January 2016, she has published her second fictional novel Voyagers into the Unknown. It talks about the quest for happiness as the heavy hearted tourists travel miles from different parts of the world to Raj Touristry in Agra, India. Return to their respective home with a healed heart. This book talks about their journey!

In Breathing Two Worlds, Ruchira talks about ethnicity and cultures, and helps to strike a balance via a fiction-drama novel as her characters breathe two worlds.

In addition to writing books, she is a holistic healer associated with Stanford Healing Partners and also maintains a blog of daily mantras on Blogspot, called Abracabadra. Ruchira currently resides in California with her family.

Find her on: Website Blog

Release Blitz: A Way Back Into Love by Veronica Thatcher

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Title: A Way Back into Love

Author: Veronica Thatcher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Notion Press

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Blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Author Bio:

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

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

Author Links:

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/merderlover1

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

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

Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Series on Book Tour

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Here is an awesome new series that is going on tour this week, and it looks like so much fun! Check out the info below to learn more about these novels.

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The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr

Published by: Wondertale, California

Ebook Publication Date: November 8, 2016

Paperback Publication Date: April 25, 2017 (estimated)

ebook ISBN: 1-945353-11-2

ebook ASIN: B01MQGHGBH

Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic

Ages: 12 and up.

Length: 85,000 words / 290 pages

Buy/Media Links:

Webpage: www.oceea.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MQGHGBH

In Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01MQGHGBH

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32948256-the-magician-s-workshop-volume-one

Synopsis:

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

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The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr

Print Length: 273 pages

Publisher: Wondertale

Publication Date: November 22, 2016

ASIN: B01N988TW7

Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic

Ages: 12 and up.

Buy/Media Links:

Webpage: www.oceea.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N988TW7/

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33128294-the-magician-s-workshop-volume-two

Synopsis:

Return to the world of The Magician’s Workshop: Where Dreams Become Reality.

In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.

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Author Bios:

Christopher Hansen

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The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

J.R. Fehr

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When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

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Books On Tour

My books are officially on tour! I have pasted the post below, and will be sharing blog posts with you for the next few weeks. Please like and share. I would really appreciate it!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

#TourKickOff :: A Rebel Among Us (Renegade #3) by J.D.R.Hawkins

About the Book:

After David Summers enlists with the Confederate cavalry, his delusion of chivalry is soon crushed when he witnesses the horrors of battle. Shot by a Union picket, he winds up at a stranger’s farm. Four girls compassionately nurse him back to health. David learns his comrades have deserted him in Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg, but his dilemma becomes much worse. He falls in love with the older sister, Anna, who entices him with a proposition. To his dismay, he must make a decision. Should he stay and help Anna with her underhanded plan, or return to the army and risk capture?

Buy Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Excerpt:

Chapter One

“Anna!”

She dropped the darning in her lap. Her sister called her name again, this time with more urgency. Springing from the rocker, Anna ran from the room and scurried down the wooden staircase.

Maggie clung to the newel post. “There’s someone in the barn!”

“Who is it?” Anna asked, but her younger sister was already racing from the house with a lantern in her hand.

Anna followed her out the back door, lifted her ankle-length skirt, and hurried across the dark barnyard. She entered the warm, musty building.

The lantern’s glow illuminated the barn’s interior. A saddled, spotted steed stood nearby, its eyes an eerie, glowing, brownish-green. The horse snorted and stomped. Something in the corner moaned.

Anna’s heart skipped a beat. Stifling a scream, she clamped her hand over her mouth to suffocate the sound.

“He’s over there,” Maggie said and pointed at a heap in the corner.

Anna squinted in the dim, flickering light. She cautiously made her way over. Her sisters and Claudia, the little girl they were in charge of, followed so closely behind they all seemed to be attached.

“Stay back, Abigail,” Anna commanded. “You too, Claudia.”

“Who is he, Anna?” Abigail asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “But he’s bleeding.” Anna drew closer.

The stranger’s horse snorted threateningly, but allowed her to advance.

The interloper moaned. He opened his eyes and gazed around at them, either confused, delirious, or both. “Please,” he groaned, nearly in a whisper, “please, can y’all help me?”

The girls stood frozen, looking down at their quandary.

Anna came to her senses. “Come on, Maggie,” She kneeled down beside the young man. “Help me get him inside.”

Maggie failed to react. “I don’t think we should touch him.”

Anna glared at her, forcing Maggie to give in under her stare and pull him up. Anna reached around his other side. The soldier cried out in pain. Balancing the young man between them, they made their way out of the barn and past the sentry steed.

“Girls,” Anna called out over her shoulder, “give that horse some hay, lock him in, and bring the lantern.”

Staggering toward the house in the dark, Anna and Maggie dragged the weak man across the barnyard toward the house. Two dogs, one a black-and-white sheepdog, the other a sable collie, approached to sniff at the stranger.

“Colby,” Maggie hollered in annoyance. “Floyd! Go lay down.”

The dogs scurried off into the dark.

Entering through the back door, Maggie asked, “Where are we going with him?”

“Upstairs to Father’s bedchamber,” Anna replied.

Maggie’s eyes widened, but she complied.

The sisters made their way through the kitchen and struggled to hoist the man up the long wooden flight of stairs. Abigail and Claudia ran into the kitchen and followed the others upstairs. At the top, Anna opened a bedroom door. Its hinges squeaked loudly. They led the wounded stranger over to the four-poster bed. Carefully, they eased him down, lifted his legs, and gently swung him up onto it. The young man moaned in agony.

“He’s too long for the bed,” Claudia commented.

Anna noticed his feet hung over the end. She quickly turned to light a kerosene lamp on the bedside table while Maggie pulled the windows open to let out the hot, stale air. Flickering lamplight illuminated the soldier’s condition. The front of his shirt and his right trouser leg were soaked with blood. Anna’s heart clenched.

“Oh,” Claudia exclaimed at the sight. “He’s all leaky.”

Abigail pulled her long, blonde hair back from her face and drew closer to him. “Eew!” She pinched her nose shut with her thumb and forefinger. “He smells like a horse!”

Claudia giggled at the sound of her friend’s voice.

“Abigail,” Anna said. “Go downstairs and boil some water. Claudia, please fill that pitcher on the dresser and bring it back up with the prongs, a long knife, and some clean towels. Go quickly!”

The two girls scampered off downstairs. Their feet thumped like sticks on a snare drum.

“Maggie, help me remove these filthy clothes from him,” Anna said.

“Do we have to?”

“Yes.” Anna was reminded of how she had tended to their ailing father not so very long ago. The recollection made her shudder.

Both sisters gingerly lifted him. They pulled off his shirt, boots, socks, and belt. Anna noticed the letters “CSA” embossed on his belt buckle.

“Anna.” Maggie’s voice caught on her breath. “He’s a…Rebel soldier.”

Pursing her lips, Anna nodded. “He must have come from the battle at Gettysburg. “But that’s over ten miles away. How could he have made it this far in his condition?”

The girls exchanged cautionary glances. They carefully set his gun and holster on the floor and removed his trousers, but left him with his drawers for modesty’s sake. Anna passed the limp, frail soldier to her sister, and thought he felt like an oblong sack of potatoes. He fell back onto the bed and moaned again.

Anna’s heart ached at the sound of his agony. Stifling a sob, she covered him with a sheet. “Fetch two large needles and some heavy thread.”

Maggie winced but did as she was told.

Looking down at the failing soldier, Anna summoned her strength. It was all too sudden and overwhelming, but she had to be strong—for herself and her sisters. “You’re going to be all right, sir,” she comforted him.

The soldier opened his eyes and tried to speak. She understood he was asking for water.

Claudia returned with the supplies. Anna took them from her and laid them on top of the dresser. She poured the pitcher’s cold well-water into the glass and porcelain bowl. After dipping a towel into the bowl, she placed it across the suffering soldier’s brow and helped him take a sip of water. He faintly smiled at her.

About the Author:

J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective.
Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, and A Rebel Among Us. All three novels are award winners, and tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Ms. Hawkins is currently working on a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as another sequel to her series.
Contact the Author: 
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Amazon

Other Books in the Series:

 
(Click on the Cover for more details)
 
Tour Hosts:
(Submissions close in 22d 3h 2m)

Thursday, 24 November 2016

#TourAnnouncement :: A Rebel Among Us (Renegade #3) by J.D.R.Hawkins

About the Book:

After David Summers enlists with the Confederate cavalry, his delusion of chivalry is soon crushed when he witnesses the horrors of battle. Shot by a Union picket, he winds up at a stranger’s farm. Four girls compassionately nurse him back to health. David learns his comrades have deserted him in Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg, but his dilemma becomes much worse. He falls in love with the older sister, Anna, who entices him with a proposition. To his dismay, he must make a decision. Should he stay and help Anna with her underhanded plan, or return to the army and risk capture?

Buy Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

About the Author:

J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective.
Her Renegade Series includes A Beautiful Glittering Lie, A Beckoning Hellfire, and A Rebel Among Us. All three novels are award winners, and tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Pikes Peak Writers. She is also an artist and singer/songwriter. Ms. Hawkins is currently working on a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as another sequel to her series.
Contact the Author: 
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Amazon

Other Books in the Series:

(Click on the Cover for more details)
Sign Up HERE!
 

Latest Book by Falguni Kothari on Blog Tour

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Earlier this week, I featured the new novel by Falguni Kothari titled My Last Love Story, for her release day blitz. I asked the author some questions about her book and writing, and our interview is as follows:

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Please tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.

Hello! I am NY-based hybrid author and I write novels about India mostly and its diaspora. I’m published in romance and fantasy fiction and with My Last Love Story, my latest book, I’ve added women’s fiction to my writer repertoire.

My Last Love Story is a narrative about an unconventional love triangle between a fate-battered young woman, Simeen, who has come to fear love and happiness, her terminal husband, Nirvaan, who wants Simeen to stop living in fear, and their best friend, Zayaan, the man Simeen had once agreed to marry. This novel is an exploration on the complexities of trauma and the true qualities of love.

How did you come up with its title?

My working title for this story was Love Undeniable. Heart Unreliable. For about 60% of my first draft, this title was stuck in my head. I thought it held a nice ring of truth to it. But then I wrote a scene between Simeen and Nirvaan in which she tells him that he was her last love story. It was like an epiphany. I immediately realized that I’d stumbled on gold. I’m so happy that the right title came to me at the right moment.

Who is your favorite character in MLLS?

I don’t have a favorite. I love them all.

What genre do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I think mythic fantasy because it takes the best parts of all other genres into itself. A good fantasy novel has action and adventure, an epic love story, a mystery, the paranormal, life lessons, women of strength and men of valor woven into it. It has a story within a story. It is a coming of age story. You get the drift.

How would you describe your writing style?

I’m both a pantser and a plotter, depending on the book I’m writing. My prose is easy to follow and humorous. It is snarky and smexy at times, but mostly its just fun.

What authors inspire your writing? Do you have a mentor?

Many authors have inspired me. Many other people besides authors have inspired me to write. MLLS was in part inspired by a cousin who succumbed to cancer way too early in life. We were both teenagers when she was diagnosed, and it was horrible. She was a writer too. She kept journals and wrote letters and her thoughts about life and love and everything in between in them. I’ve dedicated MLLS to her.

No, I don’t have a mentor.

What would you like to be if you weren’t a writer?

I am a woman—I love that. I was a jewelry designer in the distant past. I was a potter. I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and a dog companion. I have my hands full even if I wasn’t writing. But, I am incredibly glad that I am one.

What are you working on now?

I am plotting Book 2 in my Age of Kali mythic fantasy series.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Find your niche and sit down and write. Don’t think about what happens after the manuscript. Finish the manuscript first.

If you have to choose only one book to keep, knowing the others would be destroyed, which one would you save?

The Mahabharata. It’s the longest and most comprehensive Indian epic and it is said that all things related to man and God, earth and the sky are found within it. That if something exists, it has a place in the Mahabharata. If that is true, then saving the epic would make the most sense.

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About the Book:

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before YouMy Last Love Story is a heartbreakingly romantic tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me.
But Nirvaan is dying.
I love my husband. I want to make him happy.
But he is asking for the impossible. 

I don’t want a baby.
I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.
I don’t want another chance at another love story. 

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon US * Amazon IN


Advance Praise:

At once heartbreaking, delightful and completely unexpected. A must read! 

~ Sonali Dev, author of The Bollywood Affair

In My Last Love Story, Kothari examines love and loss, desire and desolation, with a deft, wry touch that kept me reading late into the night and moved me to tears. 

~ Julia Tagan, author of Stages of Desire


About the Author:


Falguni Kothari is an internationally bestselling hybrid author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with her readers. My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.

Contact the Author:
Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * Pinterest 

Dear Readers, thank you for coming along on the My Last Love Story Blog Tour. Here’s an excerpt to enjoy.

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“Love is a dish best served naked.”

As a child, those oft-quoted words of my father would have me rolling my eyes and pretending to gag at what I’d imagined was my parents’ precursor to a certain physical act.

At thirty, I’d long ago realized that getting naked wasn’t a euphemism for sex.

Neither was love.

It wasn’t my father wording the meme just now but my husband. Nirvaan considered himself a great wit, a New Age philosopher. On the best of days, he was, much like Daddy had been. On the worst days, he was my tormentor.

“What do you think, Dr. Archer? Interesting enough tagline for a vlog? What about ‘Baby in a Petri Dish’?” Nirvaan persisted in eliciting a response from the doctor and/or me for his ad hoc comedy, which we’d been ignoring for several minutes now.

I wanted to glare at him, beg him to shut up, or demand that he wait in the doctor’s office like he should’ve done, like a normal husband would have. Khodai knows why he’d insisted on holding my hand through this preliminary checkup. Nothing of import would happen today—if it did at all. But I couldn’t perform any such communication, not with my eyes and mouth squeezed shut while I suffered through a series of uncomfortable twinges along my nether regions.

I lay flat on my back on a spongy clinic bed sheeted with paper already wrinkled and half torn. Legs drawn up and spread apart, my heels dug punishingly into cold iron stirrups to allow my gynecologist’s clever fingers to reach inside my womb and check if everything was A-OK in there. We’d already funneled through the Pap test and stomach and chest checks. Like them, this test, too, was going swell in light of Dr. Archer’s approving happy hums.

“Excellent, Mrs. Desai. All parts are where they should be,” he joked only as a doctor could.

I shuddered out the breath I’d been holding, as the feeling of being stretched left my body. Nirvaan squeezed my hand and planted a smacking kiss on my forehead. I opened my eyes and focused on his beaming upside-down ones. His eyelids barely grew lashes anymore—I’d counted twenty-seven in total just last week—the effect of years of chemotherapy. For a second, my gaze blurred, my heart wavered, and I almost cried.

What are we doing, Nirvaan? What in Khodai’s name were we starting?

Nirvaan stroked my hair, his pitch-black pupils steady and knowing and oh-so stubborn. Then, his face rose to the stark white ceiling, and all I saw was the green-and-blue mesh of his gingham shirt—the overlapping threads, the crisscross weaves, a pattern without end.

Life is what you make it, child. It was another one of my father’s truisms.

Swallowing the questions twirling on my tongue, I refocused my mind on why we were here. I’d promised Nirvaan we’d try for a baby if he agreed to another round of cancer-blasting treatments. I’d bartered for a few more months of my husband’s life. He’d bartered for immortality through our child.

Dr. Archer rolled away from between my legs to the computer station. He snapped off and disposed of the latex gloves. Then, he began typing notes in near-soundless staccato clicks. Though the examination was finished, I knew better than to sit up until he gave me leave. I’d been here before, done this before—two years ago when Nirvaan had been in remission and the idea of having a baby had wormed its way into his head. We’d tried the most basic procedures then, whatever our medical coverage had allowed. We hadn’t been desperate yet to use our own money, which we shouldn’t be touching even now. We needed every penny we had for emergencies and alternative treatments, but try budging my husband once he’d made up his mind.

“I’m a businessman, Simi. I only pour money into a sure thing,” he rebuked when I argued.

I brought my legs together, manufacturing what poise and modesty I could, and pulled the sea-green hospital gown bunched beneath my bottom across my half-naked body. I refused to look at my husband as I wriggled about, positive his expression would be pregnant with irony, if not fully smirking. And kudos to him for not jumping in to help me like I would have.

The tables had turned on us today. For the past five years, it’d been Nirvaan thrashing about on hospital beds, trying in vain to find relief and comfort, modesty or release. Nirvaan had been poked, prodded, sliced, and bled as he battled aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’d been the stoic spectator, the supportive wife, the incompetent nurse, the ineffectual lover.

And now? What role would I play now?

As always, thinking about our life left me feeling even more naked than I was in the open-fronted robe. I turned my face to the wall, my eyes stinging, as fear and frustration bubbled to the surface. Flesh-toned posters of laughing babies, pregnant mothers, and love-struck fathers hung from the bluish walls. Side by side were the more educative ones of human anatomy, vivisected and whole. The test-tube-like exam room of Monterey Bay Fertility Clinic was decorated in true California beach colors—sea-foam walls, sandy floors, pearl-pink curtains, and furniture—bringing the outdoors in. If the decor was meant to be homey, it wasn’t having such an effect on me. This room, like this town and even this country, was not my natural habitat, and I felt out of my element in it.

I’d lived in California for seven years now, ever since my marriage, and I still didn’t think of it as home, not like Nirvaan did. Home for me was India. And no matter the dark memories it held, home would always be Surat.

“All done.” Dr. Archer pushed the computer trolley away and stood up. “You can get dressed, Mrs. Desai. Take your time. Use whatever supplies you need. We’ll wait for you in my office,” he said, smiling.

Finally, I can cover myself, I thought. Gooseflesh had erupted across my skin due to the near frigid clinic temperatures doctors tortured their patients with—like a patient didn’t have enough to suffer already. Medical facilities maintained cool indoor temperatures to deter inveterate germs from contaminating the premises and so its vast flotilla of equipment didn’t fry. I knew that. But knowing it still didn’t inspire any warm feelings in me for the “throng of professional sadists with a god complex.” I quoted my husband there.

Nirvaan captured my attention with a pat on my head. “See you soon, baby,” he said, following the doctor out of the room.

I scooted off the bed as soon as the door shut behind them. My hair tumbled down my face and shoulders at my jerky movements. I smoothed it back with shaking hands. Long, wavy, and a deep chestnut shade, my hair was my crowning glory, my one and only feature that was lush and arresting. Nirvaan loved my hair. I wasn’t to cut it or even braid it in his presence, and so it often got hopelessly knotted.

I shrugged off the clinic gown, balled it up, and placed it on the bed. I wiped myself again and again with antiseptic wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels until the tissues came away stain-free. I didn’t feel light-headed. I didn’t allow myself to freak. I concentrated on the flow of my breaths and the pounding of my heart until they both slowed to normal.

It was okay. I was not walking out with a gift-wrapped baby in tow. Not today. No reason to freak out.

I reached for my clothes and slipped on my underwear. They were beige with tiny white hearts on them—Victoria’s Secret lingerie Nirvaan had leered and whistled at this morning.

Such a silly man. Typical Nirvaan, I corrected, twisting my lips.

Even after dressing in red-wash jeans and a full-sleeved sweater, I shivered. My womb still felt invaded and odd. As I stepped into my red patent leather pumps, an unused Petri dish sitting on the workstation countertop caught my eye.

The trigger for Nirvaan’s impromptu comedy, perhaps?

Despite major misgivings about the Hitleresque direction my life had taken, humor got the better of me, and I grinned.

Silly, silly Nirvaan. Baby in a Petri dish, indeed.

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