Tuesday, June 14, 2016

#375 : 600033 - Musings from Mambalam

Mambalam - The word that conjures up the image of a frenzied shopping area for many, while to me, it is home engulfing me in a warm fuzzy blanket. A home I initially hated. Now, I dread the prospect of relocating. Some tremendous shift in perspective isn't it? That shift happened unknowingly.

I spent a good part of my childhood in Besant Nagar and Adyar till my parents decided to buy a house in West Mambalam. Having grown up amidst wide roads with lush green canopy and a beautiful beach nearby, Mambalam seemed like a desert to me. The goodbye was so painful that I had become numb and mechanized for a good 6 months. Try saying goodbye to your best friends who knew you from kindergarten! Try saying good bye to loving neighbors who treated you as their own children! It was one difficult time for a child all of 10. Given that we planned to  shift in the middle of a term, my parents found it difficult to secure an admission in any school in that area. I sincerely hoped their attempts failed so that I could continue being with my friends at school. Sadly, fate had different plans. I secured an admission in this all girls school which was located over Duraiswamy subway. We relocated from MG road to West Mambalam.

                                        My School - Shri BS Mootha girls's sen.sec. school

Life became difficult for me. I was surrounded just by girls who spoke a weird language - Marwari. The new school was run by a Jain trust, so the Marwari population. There were enough kids who did speak Tamil but it took me close to 6 months to get acquainted with them. I was looked upon like an alien as I predominantly spoke in English. Given that my bench mates from my previous school were from South Africa and Mumbai, I had become accustomed to speaking in English. Adding to the agony was the travel to school - narrow dusty roads filled with little shops. It was just shops shops shops everywhere.

As time passed I adapted. I made friends who made life bearable. The pain of being relocated and out of your comfort zone faded. In fact, thanks to these very friends - Dhivya & Lakshmi, I started loving the crowded streets of West Mambalam. I started loving the warm people I encountered every day. I started loving the eateries which served everything from the perfect filter Kaapi to delicious chaat items.  I started loving the temples filled with Tam-Brahm population.

Bakya fast food, Vinayaka Chat, Satyanrayana temple, Bus stand pillayar temple, Venkatasewara Boli stall - all regular haunts became deary to me. I had started to love the very place I hate with all the might a 10 year old could muster. Mambalam had finally become my home.

Yes, the roads are crowded with shops and people alike, but that is what defines this area. The warmth of the people, ease of access to  food & clothing shops, defined connectivity to other parts of the city - yes, we have it all.

In the mood for some authentic South India Milaga Bajji? We have Venkateshwara Boli stall. Try your luck racing the maamas and maamis of our area to eat Bajji in the evening. In the mood for delectable chaat items? Bakya and OSB it is! In fact Bakya fast food holds so much happy memories than my own house!

Want to listen to good Carnatic music? Try getting yourself a space to stand to watch Unnikrishnan/Sudha Ragunathan/ Kadri Gopalnath/Sikkil Gurucharan and many other established singers perform at Ayodhya Manpadam during the Raama Navami season.

Going abroad for a project? Shop for yummy Vadaams, Pickles, Rasam Paste/powder,Sambar paste/powder, all properly packed for your sojourn abroad.

Travelling to other part of the city? town? state? Ashok nagar bus stand, T Nagar bus stand, Ashok Nagar metro, Mambalam railway station - we have it all at the distance of a stone's throw.

Shopping for wedding and festivals? Pothys, Nalli, Kumaran - I don't even need to elaborate!

Medical emergency? We have a doctor in just about every street and SRM hospital is there as well.

I could go on and on writing about why my area is the best in spite of all shortcomings. Such has been the impact of the place, its culture and its warm inhabitants on me!

16 years since I made this place my home and now I don't regret moving at all.

Note : Written based on CBC's writing prompt! 

PS. Given  that I very much enjoyed writing this post, I'm now considering writing a second post on this very topic tracing the history of the area and elaborating the above discussed aspects. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

#374 : The Triumph of Love - The Immortal Romance Of Savitri And Satyavan byShivdutt Sharma : Review

GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Digital


HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy from Kalamos Literary services in exchange for an honest review.


The historical story of Satyavan and Savitri has been told and re-told to ‘inspire’ men and women alike to be committed to the person you love. This story is an adaptation of the tale. Aptly titled, ‘Triumph of Love’, this story is about Savitri who falls in love with Satyavan and stays with him in spite of knowing his fate.

The writers starts off by narrating the circumstances of both Savitri’s and Satyavan’s birth. He then moves on to give glimpse of their childhood and adolescence followed by love life. What follows is the story of a very willful woman’s determination to protect the man she loves. Given that the plot was already told and re-told the writer didn’t have that rein to maneuver around. However, what he had a free rein over was the narration and the characterization. He crafted all the character with utmost care and did do a good job of it. Savitri is portrayed as a strong woman who uses simply uses her common sense properly. Satyavan’s character doesn’t pale out in comparison surprisingly.

The narration however is seems to be stark opposite. Given that the story is rich with characters, the setting could have been elaborated in a better manner. The writer focused on characters and left out the setting making the narration a bit too flat for my taste. In fact, it is common for writers to elaborate about the setting and bore the reader with it. This writer, I felt did the opposite. It felt as if the writer wanted to highlight the traits and virtues of the character instead of the story itself.

MY SAY: For Mythological fiction lovers only.

BOOK LINKS : Goodreads, Amazon

Sunday, June 12, 2016

#373 : Hell to Pay (What Doesn't Kill You, #7) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins :Review

GENRE: Fiction


FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: What Doesn't Kill You, #7

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review copy as a part of TBC book tours in exchange of an honest review. Thank you guys :)

Being the 7th book in the series I wondered how this book could be read as a standalone when TBC mailed me about the book. However, the book spoke for itself and I managed to happily finish off the book.

The book starts off with Emily, our protagonist who is a paralegal hanging out in a bar, celebrating the victory of her latest case and client. Just when things seemed fine, a man is murdered and her client is again held responsible for it. Thus follows the tale of Emily’s battle – both professional and personal in solving the case and setting her own life straight.
The first few pages were totally confusing for someone who hasn’t read the previous books. However, that quickly changed as the story progressed. The writer beautifully introduced all characters one by one and also gave them various shades. The introduction was balanced enough not to bore the readers who have read the previous book and at the same time interesting enough for those aren’t following the series. The writing was good and humorous. The plot is paced perfectly with enough twists and turns. Given that the story contained multiple threads of plots, each contributed by various characters, I wondered how the writer was going to tie it all together and give that perfect closure. Undoubtedly, she has gone a good job of it save the final rush. Felt as though the writer was in one great hurry to finish off the book. As a result the climax turned to out to be simply hilarious.

MY SAY: Right mix of a Mystery and Romance


Do check out the spotlight & giveaway here


#372 : Hell to Pay (What Doesn't Kill You, #7) by Pamela Fagan Hutchins :Spotlight + Giveaway

Hell To Pay


Pamela Fagan Hutchins


USA Best Book Award-Winning Series, Cross Genre Fiction.

Third book in the Emily series, a spin-off from Katie & Annalise.

Big-haired paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily thinks she’s got her life back on track. Her adoption of Betsy seems like a done deal, her parents have reunited, and she’s engaged to her sexy boss Jack. Then client Phil Escalante’s childhood buddy Dennis drops dead, face first into a penis cake at the adult novelty store Phil owns with his fiancée Nadine, one of Emily’s best friends. The cops charge Phil with murder right on the heels of his acquittal in a trail for burglarizing the Mighty is His Word church offices. Emily’s nemesis ADA Melinda Stafford claims her witness overheard Phil fighting with Dennis over a woman, right about the time Phil falls into a diabetic coma, leaving Nadine shaken and terrified. Meanwhile Betsy’s ultra-religious foster parents apply to adopt her and Jack starts acting weird and evasive. Emily feels like a calf out of a chute, pulled between the ropes of the header and the heeler, as she fights to help Phil and Nadine without losing Betsy and Jack.

She says her first book came out in 2012 and that her latest, Hell to Pay, is the seventh book in the series. The books all have ties to Texas, with “an interrelated cast of kick-ass female protagonists.” She says the novel's heroine (“a former rodeo queen turned paralegal”) returns to her home town in west Texas and discovers an extremist cult has set up shop and is terrorizing the local townsfolk.

Read a Teaser 

Chapter One Excerpt

Disco lights whirled around me, or was it the room? My inner party animal had atrophied, not that I’d ever been a real heavyweight. If it wasn’t for the fantastic people-watching—and the fact that this was the celebration party for the burglary acquittal of our firm’s client Phil Escalante the day before, and his engagement to Nadine, one of my best friends in Amarillo--I've bagged this shindig. Instead, there I was with tendrils of fake smoke floating past my face, ten

feet from a DJ dressed in a black latex fetish costume and spiked dog collar and A tall woman maybe ten years older than me appeared out of the low lights and sidled up to me, engulfing me in the odor of cigarettes. Her vanilla hair sported a generous dollop of dark chocolate roots, which was pretty funny to me since she had a body shaped like a cone. A waffle cone. A waffle cone with sparkly sprinkles from the spinning ball overhead. Behind her trailed a paunchy man of roughly her height. His eyes had locked on me in a way that made my skin crawl with leeches that weren’t there.

Rick James’s “Super Freak” ended. The silence in the cavernous L-shaped room was immediate and complete, but short-lived. A clamor of voices from the one-hundred- or-so guests resumed, their voices echoing off the bare walls and “Hey, Foxy Loxy,” the man mouthed at me. Or did he? Surely not. It was hard to tell with the lights playing tricks on my eyes.

The woman spoke past me. “You and your wife got any plans later?” Her bellow seemed to fill the room to its farthest corners, even with all the other voices. I winced and shrank under the eyes that shifted our way.

Not Jack, though. The horse rancher cum criminal attorney was nothing if not unflappable. His topaz eyes twinkled. “Emily’s not my wife.” 

The man surged toward Jack. “You’re not together?”

“I’m his fiancée,” I said through my recently tightened braces and painfully rubber-banded teeth, leaving out “and he’s my boss.” I waved my big, fat teardrop-shaped diamond at him to accentuate my point, then I pinched Jack’s arm where my hand was looped through its crook. I’d capitulated to the mouth gear when my childhood orthodontist saw the gap between my front teeth and insisted needed Invisalign then, filled my mouth with metal instead. Payback for never wearing my retainer, I guess.

The man and woman looked at each other and nodded. She asked, “Care to join us? We’ve got a room at a no-tell hotel nearby.”

Jack’s whole body shook and I didn’t dare look at him. I was a sucker for his laugh. In fact, I was a sucker for everything about him, from his lived-in boots to his permanent tan to his Apache cheekbones. Before either of us could think of an appropriate response, Phil interrupted.

“Millie, Pete, leave my poor friends alone.” He clapped a hand on my shoulder and gently pushed me aside to clap his other onto Jack’s. “They’re not swingers. And this isn’t a swingers social. I’m out of the business.”

The space between Millie’s eyebrows narrowed and puckered as drops of

light rained down on her face. “It’s a free country, ain’t it?”

Grab your Copy @


Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long emails, best-selling, award-winning mysteries (WINNER USA Best Book Award, Fiction: Cross Genre, Finalist) and hilarious nonfiction. The Houston Press named her as one of Houston's Top 10 Authors (2014).

She is a recovering attorney and investigator who resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Wyoming. Pamela has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, traveling in the Bookmobile, and her Keurig. Visit her at http://pamelafaganhutchins.com or drop her a note pamela at pamelahutchins dot com. 

And if you would like her to visit your book club, women’s group, writer’s group, or library, all you have to do is ask.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

#371 : Tales of Sunshine by Sundari Venkatraman : Spotlight!



(A collection of short stories)


Sundari Venkatraman


TALES OF SUNSHINE is a collection of ten short stories that bring hope.

“A Ray of Sunshine” is about young Raj who’s terribly upset when many people in his team lose their jobs. But is he able to do anything about it?

“A Promise Given” is about Sachin, the poor, rich, young man; and the pregnant Aparna.

“Life Goes out of Control” is the story where Preeti, an only child, is a bone of contention between her parents.

Rakesh Nath has slogged throughout his life to become rich, to suffer a massive heart attack at 57. Read “Rakesh Nath’s Recovery” to find out more...

“Exam Fever” is about Renu and her anxious mother, Maya. Renu wants to play truant from studies while Maya is terribly worried about her daughter’s exams.

“Until Death us do Part” is the story of Rekha, the 35-year-old COO of an MNC. She finds love or does she?

Ansh adores his grandfather. But his mother Anu is scared of her son spending time with the Alzheimer patient in “Is Grandpa Home?”

The “Daydreaming Mercenary” is Reema. She blows up her sister Rita’s hard-earned money. But are things what they actually seem?

“Breaking Free from the Mould” is the most difficult thing as a human. With so much pressure from his Grandma, will Aarush pursue his calling?

“The Elephant in the Room” is in the first person where the poor Nandita talks about her friendship (?) with the rich Shruti.

Grab your copy @

About the author

Tales of Sunshine is the seventh book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This book is an anthology of human interest stories. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books have been on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK & Australia many times over.

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