Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Sudhi Kannan: An Elephantic Adventure by Krishna: Entertaining Suspense Adventure Humor

Sudhi Kannan: An Elephantic Adventure by Krishna is a complete entertaining suspense adventure thriller drama that you will enjoy right since you start reading short introduction of the author, throughout, till you finish off page number 292, the last page. Though it is a debut adventure fiction from Krishna, but it speaks a lot about the promising natural writing talent that the writer carries within but that needs a quick run of polishing, enhancement and maturity. Still I would say the plot woven is quite catchy that keeps its readers hooked to the book and engrossed in its story.

Krishna has shown a number of strengths in presenting Sudhi Kannan: An Elephantic Adventure. There is a freshness in his writing that will keep reflecting during your journey to Elephanta Island. Writing 292 pages for a one day trip of a father and a son from Mumbai Port to Elephanta Caves, with so interesting plot, story and flow is really remarkable. One the first go, when I reached to the climax of the story, I felt the story did not meet to as excellent end as it was up to that instance. But later, on the second thought, I realized that the twists created in the story were so powerful and climax was also something beyond expectation which makes the whole book getting great impact. Krishna has been quite creative in building the story, sequences, characters, scenarios, and its twisty plot.

Story of Sudhi Kannan: An Elephantic Adventure is about Sudhi - a 5th grade student and his businessman father Kannan. Sudhi is full of wits and smart acts. His friend Shijon is as witty as Sudhi. Then we have many more interesting characters in the book - the principal of Sudhi's school, the teachers, Pooja & Andrea (Sudhi and Shijon's classmates), Pooja's mother Megha Mithaiwala, and many more. Each character is so uniquely carved that you will enjoy reading about it. So is the case with the scenic descriptions in the book that are so complete but far away from getting boring. The interest remains intact throughout.

Few things that are spoilers are - the spots that you encounter quite often where editing and proofreading job is left undone. There are certain grammatical mistakes. But good part is that even while encountering these spoilers, your interest remains intact in the story and plot of Sudhi Kannan: An Elephantic Adventure, and therefore, the book passes the acid test of winning over the flaws that are left in the debut attempt by Krishna that certainly proves that there is a lot that is still to come in his forthcoming writings. Another not too good thing is the cuss words of strong abuses that have been used in the story at few places could have been avoided keeping in mind that the book is going to be read by all ages of kids - 10 to 100.

Book Review: The Power of Project Management Leadership by Laszlo A Retfalvi

Driving a project to a road that ensures smoothly progressive flow with least number of speed breakers has always been a prime requirement in project management and that is where the role of a project manager comes into picture. A project manager need to have more of leadership qualities to attain higher amount of success in his project ventures. That is what the new book The Power of Project Management Leadership: Your Guide on How to Achieve Outstanding Results by Laszlo A. Retfalvi emphasizes on.
The book talks about crucial requirements for the leadership that holds and controls project management, to run a project successfully in today’s scenario of higher complexities, greater demands of zero defect, stricter following of timelines, tough roads and highly aggressive/volatile customers. There have been many books earlier on guiding how to run a project successfully or how to handle project manager in a more effective manner. The power of Project Management Leadership by Laszlo A Retfalvi focuses more on a project manager as an individual to empower him for managing a project by means of inculcating certain leadership qualities that can help him managing his projects in a more effective manner and having effective and timely closures in a successful manner. The book talks about marrying management and leadership in such a powerful manner but with a concrete balance. If understood and followed well, the book can act as a superb guide to a project manager to acquire higher levels of excellence.

Overall The Power of Project Management Leadership: Your Guide on How to Achieve Outstanding Results by Laszlo A. Retfalvi is an excellent book and a must read for all project managers to find out the hidden treasure of leadership skills within, polish them and use them effectively to acquire excellent results in their projects.

Author Interview: Ann Chamberlin: Author of Fourteen Published Historical Novels

She’s the author of fourteen published historical novels.  Her trilogy set in sixteenth-century Turkey spent many months on the Turkish bestseller list.  She has also written a nonfiction book entitled A HISTORY OF WOMEN'S SECLUSION IN THE MIDDLE EAST: THE VEIL IN THE LOOKING GLASS.

She has lost track of how many plays she has had produced across the country from Seattle to New York, but JIHAD, produced in New York City in both 1996 and 2000, won The Off-Off Broadway Review's best new play of the year.

A very warm welcome to you Ann on my space. J

Your real name and pen name?  

Ann Chamberlin

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

I had a great childhood, I see now, although it seemed hard at the time.  A bright brother and four bright sisters to challenge me, to act in my plays, to be the first audience for my stories.   Academic geeky parents.  Our many jaunts abroad--these things were not conducive to local popularity, nor were my thrift store clothes or clothes I made myself, but these things taught me to be alone, to have great relationships with the people in my imagination.

I remember my brother and sister painting each other turquoise--the color of the root cellar door.

I remember being bitten by my pet garter snake in the living room--and then another snake dying in striking position in the basement closet.  These scenes appeared in my novel Snakesleeper.

I remember when the fire my mother was tending to clear the irrigation ditches in spring got out of hand and she told me to run across the fields about a block to the fire station to tell them to come and help.  I got too afraid half way there and had to come back so she could run. 

I spent most of Kindergarten in the principle's office because the sadistic teacher and I didn't see eye to eye about my education.  Besides giving me a lot of time to make stories up instead of swallowing hers, it was gratifying that she ended up in a sanatorium before she drove me there.

What career did you plan during your education days

I always wanted to write and didn't always have the discipline to think I might need a real job besides.  But I did know that I didn't like the way English departments taught writing--with the single exception of one quarter I had with EL Doctorow who validated my love of historical fiction.  Instead of English, I majored in the thing I wanted to write about--archaeology and anthropology.  I found the library as a part time job, and that became my career path.  They let me research and write.

What languages you can speak and write?

English, French and German well enough to translate professionally.  Hebrew and Arabic well enough to give me my job at the library.  Akkadian and ancient Egyptian I've studied on the side.  Nobody much to speak those languages with.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life 

The women I've met in many countries in the world, including in my own fami
What hurts you most in this world.

Right now, the fact that I didn't try harder to publish things I saw in Syria, to make people see—

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

I'm still dealing with my biggest challenge--a husband with multiple sclerosis.  I don't think I'll ever overcome that.

A high school creative writing teacher who thought girls couldn't write and said so frequently, a mother who believes fiction is immoral--these hardly seem like challenges at this point in my life.  Instead, I thank these people for telling me this stuff and making me determined to prove them wrong.

What is your favorite genre and why?  

Historical Fiction

When did you start writing?

I have a book for which I drew the pictures before I could write in one of my dad's exam blue books.  I made my mother write the story entitled The Fairy Princess.  Since Mom had three, eventually five, kids younger than me, plus a score of foster kids, she quickly got me a dictionary so I would stop bothering her asking her to write or spell for me.  She still helps me edit, however, no matter how immoral.

 What is the purpose of your writing?

The purpose of storytelling--as of all true art as well as all true religion--is to support positions in exact opposition to the views prevailing in a culture's powerhouses.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

When all the contracts I have signed are fulfilled, I will have published twenty books.  Rather than all those synopses, I'll just give one for my most recent novel, The Sword and the Well, the conclusion to my Sword in the Well Trilogy.

In the early years of Islam, three lives braid together.

Khalid ibn al-Walid never lost a battle, either fighting against the Prophet Muhammad or for him.  "Women no longer give birth to the likes of Khalid," the Prophet said.  In old age, the general dictates his memoirs to a eunuch scribe, with a new perspective to all the blood he shed.

In the desert oasis of Tadmor, twelve-year-old Rayah comes of age, accepting her new religion and her own power.

And on the third floor of the house in Tadmor, a woman with blue eyes hides her past in the safety of a harem--which cannot remain secluded forever.  For she and her mothers led the tribes of the desert on sacred camels--and with the help of beings of fire and smoke, the jinn.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I'm editing a trilogy based on the Nibelungenlied with Penumbra Press.  Brynhild is my main character, the trilogy is called Choosers of the Slain, with titles The Choosers of the Slain, The Linden's Red Plague andInto the Bog or maybe that last one should be called Twilight of the Gods.

I'm working with my illustrator Julia Homenko on two more scratch-and-sniff stories to join with The Fair Maid and the Pirates we just recently finished.  One of the new ones will be called The Witch's Cottage, thenA Medieval Castle.

What are your future plans?

Beyond getting these books out, I have four or five titles without homes yet.  At the front of the queue are a memoir of my grandmother and her seven sisters and then a collection of my plays.  I hope to see them settled, and of course I have a dozen manuscripts I'm working on.  I hope to finish at least some of those books.

I have a couple screen plays and stage plays I'd like to see produced, too.

Your dream destination on Earth?

Damascus.  I was fortunate to have visited twice before the terrible war going on now, so perhaps I should revise this statement to say--Damascus of the past.  There are also scenes in Damascus of the seventh Christian century in my most recent book.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?  

I was born in Mormon Utah, learned to walk in France.  My first memories are, in this order: the ginger tom cat in Yorkshire, England, the round window on the Queen Mary on the way back to the US and the black dog named Judy in Albuquerque, NM.  I attended high school in East High in Salt Lake (the school in High School Musical--only I attended before the fire and the rebuild), Lycee Kleber in Strasbourg, France, Humboldt Gymnasium in Ulm, Germany and Venice High is S. California.  By the time I graduated, I had been to most countries in Europe, including Communist Hungary, many for months at a time.  It was time to expand my world view.  I began to focus on the Middle East.  I have now been all across North Africa, to Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

All this history ill prepared me for life in Mormon Utah where I was born.  What I have learned is that "progress" is highly overrated.  The arrogance and exceptional view of my native land doesn't suit me.  O Brave New World that has such people in it!

Your favorite time of the day?  

Morning.  I write best in the morning, before anyone is up.  By the time dinner is over I can get pretty depressed.

Your zodiac/ sunsign? 

Aries.  Get the hell out of my way.

Ann signs a copy of The Woman at the Well for a fan.

Your favorite color and why?  

Brick red.  The red of my son's hair.  I'm an Aries.

Your favorite book and why?  

The King Must Die by Mary Renault.  Made a historical fiction author out of me by the time I was out of high school.
A summer's day picnic atmosphere with delicious munches greeted Ann's friends and admirers.
Your favorite celebrity and why?  

Celebrities?  Ick.

Your favorite food?  

Whatever's in the garden.  Right now, that's lots of eggs and spinach and greens and lettuce and rhubarb.

Some quickies: (highlighted ones are Ann’s choices)

Sun or Moon,
Laughter or Smile, 
Morning or Evening,
Coffee or Tea,
Mountain or Sea,
Long Drive or Short Drive, 
Silence or Conversation,
Water or Fire,
Air or Earth,
Mars or Jupiter, 
Moon or Sun,
Tulip or Rose,
Red or Blue,
Left or Right,
Glance or Stare

author of The Sword and the Well and The Fair Maid and the Pirates

Book Review: Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin by Stephanie M Ward: Learn To Dream And Make Them True

Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin written by Stephanie M. Ward is a fantastic book for kids in the age group of 1 to 4 years. Illustrations in the book are by Vanessa Landin. This rhyming board book with beautiful and perfectly fitting illustrations creates a cheerful atmosphere for which the credit goes to its amusing rhyming sequences and the vibrant and lively illustrations. Children will definitely love reading and rhyming this lovely book.

The lead character in Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin written by Stephanie M. Ward is Wally, the Emperor penguin who is young by age and heart. Wally loved to play in snow, sledge and enjoy all around. Sally would always be found with his feet covered in his boots and head covered with a hat. The story is about an adventurous ride that Wally took to land on to Galapagos Islands to enjoy what he kept missing all his life but had been dreaming about for long.

Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin written by Stephanie M. Ward is definitely an interesting rhyming book for all kids of 1 to 4 and would also be a handy one for their moms and dads to get their kids into a cheerful mood with the help of this book.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Author Interview: Cassia Cassitas: Saga of Wealth: A Historical Fiction Novel

Cassia Cassitas made her career in technology. She has remained in academics both as a teacher and as a student, working on innovative projects including those that involve prospects.

She specialized in philosophy and existence, information engineering, and college didactics. Currently she studies French, due to her husband’s influence, and English to enlarge her world.

Mother to two adolescents who devour books, Cassia published her first work, Sunday, The Game, in 2010, a digital best seller in Brazil. Cassia Cassitas lives with her family in Curitiba, where her dreams prosper under the eyes of her readers.

Your real name and pen name?

Both are Cassia Cassitas.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

I lived in a big house in a small and sunny city with my sisters. It was a wonderful time. Since that time I wished to write.

What languages can you speak and write?

I speak Portuguese, English and French.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

Life itself. If we look around, it is possible to watch something bigger than all, orquestrating everything. I really like seeing nature solve what we see as problems.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Myself. I believe we have opportunities and talents together for living our own life. What to do in other life with my talents, without the talents for that life?

What is your favorite genre and why?

I love historical and contemporary novels but most of my readings are non-fiction related to social sciences.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I started at eight, nine and never stopped. I want to introduce to open eyes, minds and hearts different ways to live.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

The title is “Saga of Wealth”, a historical fiction novel set during the financial crisis of 2008.

The novel tells a story of people who live in the era of finance, fund implementation risk and the quest for money and power. People that, despite real estate bubbles, subprime securities, and unemployment, envision and pursue paths of prosperity. 

The chapters tell the story that originated the facts to the current developments. While the U.S. real estate bubble burst in 2008, leaving many people homeless and jobless, the first generation of the saga left Europe in search of housing and employment. 

The main character is Ricardo, a financial executive torn between his own wealth and the ethical conflict of endangering an entire segment of society in favor of the profitability of his investment agency. Through his thoughts, the reader will learn a little about the rules of the economy and the alternatives governments possess in relation to the distribution of wealth. 

Carolina, his wife, is an architect who decides to create her own company when she discovers that she is pregnant. Amidst her relationship with her husband, the international crisis, and the opportunities of the globalized environment, her trajectory reflects the decision making process of the contemporary woman. 

The novel addresses several veridical events pertaining to Brazilian history, such as the transformations which occurred at the start of the republican society, the Estado Novo, and the real estate and economic expansion. The characters in this fiction live amid real facts. When the U.S. real estate bubble bursts, the characters react accordingly to their socio-cultural characteristics. 

Saga of Wealth is a living book — a story that is not over. It goes on in countries that struggle with instability and unemployment.

What are your forthcoming writings?

I am finishing the Andrew’s story, a novel related to the universal searching of happiness. Andrew will live experiences around the world that will do you think about your own points of view. I am confident that Andrew will conquer your mind. 

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

If you want to attract the reader, write about intriguing issues. My first book ‘Sunday the game’ treats the familiar Sunday dinner as a strategic game. ‘Saga of Wealth’ talks about money and wealth in a love story.  And mostly, I write from my heart because, besides reading, the reader will feel the words.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

Fiction is firstly a point of view, which can be real, wished or feared. Then, in a way, real life will be there. What would you say about ‘Star Wars’? The portraits are fictional, but the characters, feelings and dilemmas are real.
Personally, I don´t write about my life.  When I don´t know, I search for knowing. Then, maybe it becomes part of me and all fiction writing becomes parties of the real life. It is a possibility.

Your dream destination on Earth?

I love to travel!  My dream destination is the next sunny peaceful place  I am going. 

Your favorite book and why?

The Miserables is a wonderful story full of truths written with emotion.   Victor Hugo is a master for everyone.

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon, Laughter or Smile, Morning or Evening, Coffee or Tea, Mountain or Sea, Long Drive or Short Drive, Silence or Conversation, Water or Fire, Air or Earth, Mars or Jupiter, Moon or Sun, Tulip or Rose, Red or Blue, Left or Right, Glance or Stare

The last line of your autobiography would be…

”ela passou por aqui, viveu e seguiu.” [in Portugese]
which means - she came through here, lived and followed

Twitter handle: cassiacassitas


Me 'dressed up'
He is an English teacher (MA Applied Linguistics – University of Birmingham), a poet and an e-book author. ‘The Olympus Killer’ is his first book. The book has so far made it into the top50 bestselling books on kindle in the category ‘International Mystery and Crime’. He is currently working on the second and third book from the Greek Island Mysteries book series. He resides in Limassol, Cyprus with his wife and daughter. Hobbies include travelling the Greek Islands discovering new food and possible murder sites for his stories.

Welcome and thanks Luke!

Your real name and pen name?

Luke Christodoulou

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood

My mother reading to me at nights. Me reading my first book ever (The witch, the lion and the wardrobe). Playing out in the streets with my friends. The ice cream man passing by every evening on hot summer evenings. Going to the cinema and watching just about everything!

About your education

exploring the Greek Islands
I studied Education at Ioannina University in Greece and Applied Linguistics at Birmingham University in the UK. Been studying life for the last 31 years on planet earth.

What career did you plan during your education days

Primary teacher and the plan worked out. Been teaching the little ones (ages 6-12) for the last 8 years.

What languages you can speak and write?

I am bilingual. I am fluent in English and Greek. Proud of the 10 words I know in Spanish, Russian and French!

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life

Life. Every little detail could spark an explosion of ideas.

What hurts you most in this world

Death. Injustice. Hunger. Child abuse. Racism.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?

Accepting life and who I truly am. Still have not overcome my fear of dying. I can’t accept the idea that one day, I will be no more.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Island hopping
Marco Polo (or maybe Cook, Columbus, Magellan). Before Google maps; when it was possible to travel and still discover new places.

What is your favorite genre and why?

Thrillers all the way! Because they thrill me J I like many genres but love anything that thrills me, scares me, has me in suspense, and drives me nuts with guessing the killer.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I have been writing since I can remember. I need to get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or screen). I decided to publish with main goal to entertain people. I love hearing feedback from people from all over the world saying how they stayed up all night reading my work.

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

So far, just the one book. THE OLYMPUS KILLER: A GREEK ISLAND MYSTERIES THRILER. But it is selling great and has made kindle’s bestsellers. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have all been five stars. I am a very happy boy!

What are your forthcoming writings?

I am currently working on the second book that will be subtitled A Greek Island Mysteries Thriller and will feature Captain Papacosta and Lieutenant Ioli Cara (the characters of my first book).

What are your future plans?

Keep loving life. Keep travelling. Keep teaching. And of course keep writing. The plan is a book a year!

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

Listening to music on the road to the port
Every place we go, every person we meet, every event we witness or hear, every piece of music and food can become part of our fictional world. There is no particular ratio. Sometimes a chapter is more ‘real life’ than fiction, sometimes the opposite!

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Definitely. You could  be great at writing but if your story is lacking imagination, you have nothing.

Your dream destination on Earth?

Looking for good Greek food
Barbados! (And visiting the Greek Islands that I have not yet visited!)

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?

Born in London on a rainy September day. Moved to Cyprus at the tender age of five. Lived in Greece for four years. Have travelled ‘only’ through Europe. I love seeing new places, meeting new people, eating new food...

Your favorite time of the day?

Night time.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?


Your favorite color and why?

Looking for murder sites for THE OLYMPUS KILLER
Blue! I am half GreekCypriot. I am in love with the sea!

Your favorite book and why?

Lord of the Rings. I love the setting, the characters, the story and I admire the amount of work it took to create.

Your favorite celebrity and why?

Angelina Jolie. Beautiful, talented, humanitarian.

Your favorite food?
Octopus with red wine (some say I cook it better than restaurants!).

Some quickies (bold ones are Luke's selections): 
Sun or Moon
Laughter or Smile, 
Morning or Evening,
Coffee or Tea, 
Mountain or Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive, 
Silence or
Water or Fire (Both!)
Air or Earth, 
Mars or Jupiter, 
Moon or Sun, 
Tulip or Rose
Red or Blue
Left or Right

What three words come to your mind for each –

Technology needed evil? hmm,
Life, beautiful, exciting, stimulating!
Humanity, could be better
Racism, its 2014 people!
Childhood Abuse, sick, sick, sick
Love, love my wife
Parenting, love my daughter
Old age Scares me plenty
Me in Santorini (book 2 setting)

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote

‘Evil under the Greek sun’ (My favourite tagline)
‘The Greek James Patterson’ (Trust your mother to overreact! Her best quote by far)

The last line of your autobiography would be…

and having attained immortality he continued writing for ever and ever...

Twitter handle: GreekIslandMysteries @Olympus Killer

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