Book Reviews

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This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that I had time to do what I love: read. I finished two books and the book reviews are below.

Red Queen

I am a little late to the Red Queen party. An avid reader, especially of the fantasy genre, I am not sure how I did not discover Victoria Aveyard and her Red Queen series until now.

Worldbuilding is woven into the story beautifully, and the author reveals layers slowly for the protagonist and the reader. Mare is a flawed female lead, my favorite kind. Her heart and our’s swings between Cal and Maven. 

The magic in the story feels very real, and as I read the pages, I could almost feel my palm spark. The author has written an excellent cast of side characters to keep our heart rate up.

The plot moves at breaking speed and keeps the reader anxiously turning pages. The twists, while shocking, have enough hints through the books that you can see how it came to be.

I look forward to diving into the next book.

Warning: Gruesome deaths and battle scenes and violence.

Recommend for fantasy readers and game of thrones fans.

The Duchess War

I love Happily Ever After stories. When I saw Courtney Milan listed as NYT Best Selling author for her self-published novel, I had decided to read her books as a fellow author.

I started with The Duchess War like her web site recommended. 

A spunky girl pretending to be a mouse, and a big-hearted Duke who wants to do what is right, encounter each other behind a curtain, both hiding from the world. 

As the story evolves, the hiding behind feels out of character for both of them. 

The best character for me was Dowager Duchess. The author portrays her frailty in the early years, and the price she paid for her freedom and her struggles realistically. 

Mrs. Marshall, who appears just for a few pages, has a similar impact.

Sebastian and Violet spiced the pages and looking forward to their story in a later book. 

Overall, I understand the Duke’s reluctance to hope, but the pages don’t do justice to his character arc. Similarly, while I grasp Minnie’s fear, her story does not tug my heart.

That said, the story is fast-paced, and there is a happy ending and plenty of kissing.

Warning: Explicit sexual acts

Recommended for Downton Abbey fans.

War of the Three Kings

Magadha is at war, and kings are being hunted. Who is next to fall?

Heir to Malla, the first book in the series, is out. If you are new to my series, please start your reading there.

Warning: There are spoilers below for Heir to Malla!

Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoiler!


War of the Three Kings is the second book in the Land of Magadha series.

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News of her father’s death shatters Queen Meera’s peaceful life. King Nakul is invading Malla, while her brother Prince Jay is fighting a battle in neighboring Sunda. Can she stop Nakul without revealing the deadly secret she holds? She makes a fatal mistake, allowing her heart to rule her head. Will it destroy everything she cherishes?

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Prince Jay seeks revenge for his father’s death. But he cannot tell friends from foes. Can he save Malla and his crown? Or, will a secret revealed destroy him forever?

Book Review: Everyday People

Everyday People by Salini Vineeth is a delightful collection of eight short stories that depict life in modern urban India.

I grew up reading Tamil magazines, and my favorites were the short stories in them. In a page or two, to create an impactful character and narrate a story that touches your heart is a difficult task, and Salini pulls it off.

The blue light had a nice twist. The first steps brimmed with a mother’s love and the accompanying worry every mother feels. Each story is wonderfully crafted, and you can picture the crowded streets of India buzzing with people going about their days as you read these tales. Many stories feature a female protagonist, and I loved the window into their lives.

Recommend this book for fellow Tamil magazine fans who read them hidden inside their school books. These stories are great for busy folks that want to read more but don’t find the time. You can read each story in under ten minutes.


I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is sale now in US, UK and India.

I am currently writing my second book “War of the Three Kings“.

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.

Book Title Reveal

Drumrolls, please!!!

I am returning to the Land of Magadha in book two of the series, set a few years later, and with many familiar characters. I left plenty of hanging threads in book 1, and I am having fun pulling them to see what unravels and what tightens into a knot.

All book 2 related blog posts can be found here

To celebrate the title reveal, Heir to Malla is on sale for a limited time in US, UK and India. Books make great gifts!!!

Furry foster baby

For a few weeks, my family has been fostering a rescue Chihuahua dog. Marty is six years old and has been a great addition to our family.

For us, this has been a fabulous opportunity, with all of us at home. I imagine this is how grandparents feel. We have been pampering Marty with cuddles, playing fetch, and walks.

Look at him. Isn’t he adorable? In a short time, he has become a part of our family, and we have arranged our days around him. He has touched our hearts and lives.

Marty’s first human parent passed away, so he has been through a lot. He deserves a loving family, and I believe we have found him one. He is off to his forever home tomorrow, and we will miss him terribly.

We will definitely foster another furry baby in the future.


Just a week left in my Instagram promotion. No purchase necessary. Two winners to be announced on Oct 31st.

Book Review: Who threw Draco down the Chimney

I write medieval stories, so I looked forward to reading this mystery novel with a modern Indian female protagonist. Smita Bhattacharya did not disappoint me.

In “Who threw Draco down the chimney?”, Smita brings Romania and Sibiu alive. With the folklore interspersed with the present day, the city is very much part of the story. I would love to visit one day. The eyes did give me the creeps though. Nice touch to include pictures of the city in the book.

Several threads are running in the book, and they are all weaved together to a satisfactory conclusion. I enjoyed the time jumps from present-day to the past.

This is not a typical mystery book where the dead body is found in chapter one, and the rest of the novel is devoted to unraveling the mystery.

Darya plays an active role in the story. She relies on her intuition as much as her research to solve the mysteries (there is more than one).

Darya is a strong modern woman, and I enjoyed her portrayal. I have not read the first two books, and that did not prevent me from enjoying this book. The first two books might have helped me understand Darya better because the reader only gets brief glimpses into her past.

Warnings: Gruesome deaths, Teen sex with an older adult, Romanian folklore and legends are not always depicted positively in the story.

Who would enjoy the book: Mystery lovers and readers looking to read books based on a strong female protagonist.

Preorder here


I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is available on Kindle Unlimited

I post reviews of books I have read, and you can view all my reviews in GoodReads or here in my blog.

Guest Blog by Penmancy

Penmancy is a coven of creative characters who are fascinated with the magic of the pen to weave new worlds with words. One of our main goals is to create a virtual space where writers and readers support each other and build a wholesome community that cherishes literature.After the massive success of our first anniversary collection of short stories, ‘a fallen leaf’, we give you our second anniversary collection as ‘SHATTERED’. We hope that you have enjoyed the stories as much as we have enjoyed putting them together for your reading pleasure.

Introduction to ‘Shattered’

Life is beautiful yet filled with pain and suffering. Many people in the world, young or old, regardless of their gender, endure excruciating experiences throughout their life. The smiles that people wear on their faces are not proof of happiness. Deep inside, they may be hurting; their hearts broken; their hopes and dreams shattered; and probably, even the life that they so treasure hangs in the balance. It is in this very premise that this anthology, titled Shattered, was born. 

Believe it or not, we do love to read stories that are sad or make us angry and shed tears; tales where vengeance is sought and justice served. And the reason for this is simple- they make us realize the fragility of our own lives and see our own shortcomings; they remind us of the flawed society that we live in and wish we could do something about it. Most often, it is a realization that wakes us up from our deep slumber, urging us to be appreciative of our advantageous situation and forcing us to evaluate how fortunate we are to have not gone through the pain and suffering that others have experienced.

As the title of this collection suggests, this anthology offers a wide range of interpretations of the word ‘shattered’–stories of broken lives, unfulfilled promises, cracked beliefs, fractured egos, crushed hopes that are weaved tugging our heartstrings. While some of these are not shattered pieces beyond repair, others are smashed to smithereens, and the only way to handle the misery is to confront it and try to heal and rise above it or face death.

Shattered contains nineteen incredible stories in varied genres from eighteen talented writers. It is a product of Penmancy’s second-year anniversary celebration and its attempt to showcase the brilliant minds behind these stories to the world.

Stories and their authors

  1. Collateral Fractures – Sanjukta Ghoshal
  2. Sundarpur Chronicles – Nilutpal Gohain
  3. Him – Pai
  4. Splintered Souls – Supriya Bansal
  5. The Road to Hell – Aradhna Shukla
  6. Scarlet Skies – Chandra Sundeep
  7. The Best Man – Fabienne Meyers
  8. Beneath the Golden Seams – Sanjukta Ghoshal
  9. 1947- an Imprecation – Sonal Singh
  10. My Journey Beyond Life – Shweta Mathur Lall
  11. Dialogues Across the Realm – Sreemati Sen
  12. The Shattered Souls – Kokila Gupta
  13. The Unheard – Rasya Krishnan
  14. The Street Without Cherries – Trixiah Ann Gumba
  15. Wings – Archie Iyer
  16. Hrishikesha – Ravi Valluri
  17. Her Place on Earth – Preethi Warrier
  18. Anastasis – Alpna Das Sharma
  19. Pietra Angolare Dell’Universo – Olinda Braganza

Note from Anna Bushi:

I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I feature authors in my blog regularly. You can view all the authors I have featured here. If you are an author and you would like to be featured in my blog, please contact me.

Book 2 Progress

I am making steady progress in my second book set in the Land of Magadha. It starts a few years after Heir to Malla and has several characters introduced in book 1.

Heir to Malla is available everywhere books are sold and is a historical fantasy without magic based in the fictional land of Magadha. I am running a free Instagram giveaway for Heir to Malla in the US. Please check it out.

In book 2, our protagonists are older and in power, and their challenges pit duty vs. following their heart’s desires. I am deeply interested in exploring what makes someone a good ruler, and monarchy provides a unique way to explore that.

I have written 40,000 words, so I am about half-way through my first draft. While I am not writing a happily ever after romance, love and hope are recurring themes.

In terms of writing style, I have broad chapter outlines written for the book, and then I let the characters take me where they want to go. I am sometimes pleasantly surprised or shocked by how certain events turn out. This mix of some planning and then letting nature take its course works well for me.

Writing continues to be my refuge in a chaotic world, especially with the pandemic upending so many normal activities.

Until next time.

Guest Blog by Wendy Waters

Wendy Waters is an author, composer, lyricist and librettist. Born in Australia, she grew up in Sydney, lived in the USA for six years and now divides her time between London, Sydney and Paris. In 2011 Waters volunteered to work with OASIS Salvation Army Crisis Centre in Sydney, helping musically gifted young people. Waters has written three musicals: FRED, ALEXANDER and THE LAST TALE (with composer Shanon Whitelock) and two books, Catch the Moon, Mary and Fields of Grace. Music is a constant theme in Waters’ work.

Set against a backdrop of war in 30s Europe, Grace Fieldergill, a starry-eyed young actress from Devon moves to London to pursue her dream of becoming a star. The lovable boarders of Wyncote House, a ladies-only establishment, take her under their collective wing and share her triumph when she is accepted into the brilliant young John Gielgud’s Company as Peggy Ashcroft’s understudy. When Peggy misses a show one night Grace gets her chance. Watching her performance that evening are two people who will change her life forever, London’s most famous actress, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, and a man whose love she never thought she could win. 

Fields of Grace is a searingly beautiful love letter to the performing arts, based loosely on my grandmother’s life as a virtuoso violinist whose stellar career in London was cut short by the burgeoning war in 1936. Even though I have made my leading lady a theatrical ingenue her rise and fall echo my grandmother’s experiences, which she told to me in the last few months of her life. She loved passionately – her music, her family, my grandfather and the mysterious man who rocked her world in Europe in the 30s. 

Excerpt from review by Sarah Sansom @theBookWhiskers: Fields of Grace is a story about every kind of love silhouetted against the evils of persecution and envy.  The narrative carries the reader from the flirtatious bright lights of 1930s London, to the grand romance of Paris, before mercilessly setting down in the hostile streets of Hitler’s Berlin where life takes an ugly twist. Grace is the story’s leading lady, and its main narrator.  We first meet her in Sydney in the autumn of 2009, the winter of her life.  An ethereal tawny fog has settled over the city, and its portentous arrival lets Grace know that this will be her last earthbound day; the day when she can finally set herself free from the secrets of her past, and heal old wounds. “Time has a way of sorting out most things, but I have no more time, so today I will unlock the trunk pass John’s legacy on to Sam [Grace’s granddaughter], and tell my son the truth about his father.  Then the amberglow may claim my soul.” Standing in the corner of Grace’s bedroom is an old trunk that has remained locked for over seventy-four years. It holds little of monetary value, but its contents are the precious mementoes of an unparalleled life.  A faded program from a production of Hamlet staged in Berlin in 1936 still holds the bloom of a lilac rose frozen in time between the pages.  A scroll of handwritten notes remains tied with a lilac ribbon. The intoxicating scent of fresh roses. With the tenderest of prompts the scenery changes, and Grace is recounting her breathtaking story of theatre, friends, love and war…Overall, this is a breathtaking story about every kind of love:  the uplifting love of friends, the anchoring love of family, the romantic love of partners.  It’s about true love, passionate love, unrequited love, forbidden love, illicit love, failed love, infatuation and forgiveness. By Sarah Sansom @theBookWhiskers 

When I was fifteen, I moved in with my grandmother, ostensibly to help her during the period of her mourning after my grandfather passed away. During that time, she told me stories about her early life that even my father had never heard. She spoke of her music and the years of training that turned her into a virtuoso performer. I was studying drama at the time and my love for the theatre chimed with her passion for music and that acceptance of the yoke we all bow to when we aspire to artistic excellence. She recounted an extraordinary life playing for the famous and infamous in London and Europe. Such was her reception that she fully expected a stellar career culminating in an appearance at Covent Garden and one day, Carnegie Hall. Her talent merited such an arrival. But alas, her family summoned her home in 1936, fearing she would get caught up in the war that was looming. She returned and as the war dragged on and there seemed to be no end in sight, she accepted a marriage proposal from my grandfather who had loved her for over a decade. He had fallen in love with her when he was fourteen and she was twenty-two. They were neighbours. My grandmother was the love of his life and she adored him but during the revelations I was privy to in her final months I realised there had been another great unfulfilled love for her – the career she had left behind in Europe and London. Australia was far from welcoming in 1936 – the most she was offered was second fiddle in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, hugely insulting for a consummate musician who had studied with Ysayë, a master violinist in Belgium and played in some of the most salubrious salons in London and Paris. 

I felt her heartache so keenly and her story stayed with me for years, long after she had gone. Every so often I would examine aspects of it and wonder if there was a turn she missed along the way.

In writing Fields of Grace, I am both reconciling myself to the loss of my grandmother and her dream and also hoping to inspire others to follow their dreams no matter how steep the climb, how inhospitable the terrain.


Note from Anna Bushi:

I am an author of medieval fiction “Heir to Malla” that is available on Kindle Unlimited.

I feature authors in my blog regularly. You can view all the authors I have featured here. If you are an author and you would like to be featured in my blog, please contact me.