Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Book Feature: THE SINNERS by Sourabh Mukherjee

The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee

~ Release Day Blitz ~

12th November


The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee


About the Book:


Vikram Oberoi is found dead in his penthouse. A few hours ago, his involvement in a sex scandal in NexGen Technologies made headlines across the world.


Who is behind the sinister conspiracy that destroyed Vikram Oberoi, the philandering India Head of NexGen? Rivals within and outside the firm? One of his many jilted lovers or the miffed wife? A mysterious conspirator laying out honey traps to sabotage his plans? Or, is it the ghost of a sinful past that continues to haunt the Oberois?


The Sinners is a fast-paced thriller with a shocking twist that unravels against the backdrop of corporate warfare, illicit relationships and ruthless seduction games.




Book Links:

Read an Excerpt:
Agastya picked up the call from a private number after the third
ring, taking his eyes off the monitor in front of him.

“Is this Agastya Bakshi?”

“Yes… who’s this?”

“Agastya, my apologies for calling you late. I assure you this won’t
take too long. But, we need to talk in private. Where are you right now?” The
male voice at the other end of the line sounded authoritative. Agastya could
not recall having heard the voice earlier.

Agastya looked around the near-empty office and said, “I am at
work, but we can talk. Not too many people around at this time of the night.” His
curiosity, by this time, was at its peak.

It was past eleven. It was the third time that week that Agastya had
to work through the night. Hired a couple of years back, his work as an engineer
in the Network and Systems Division of NexGen kept him rooted in front of
computer screens through his days and very often, his nights. Agastya did not
have much of a social life. A clumsy desk littered with pizza crumbs, empty cartons
and soda cans, and a paunch growing at an alarming rate – that was what his life
had been reduced to. But, he did not complain. Agastya loved his job.

“Great! Then let’s talk business. I’m sorry I cannot disclose my
name. I belong to a private investigation agency that’s currently looking into
the dealings of the company you are working for. There are reports of certain
financial irregularities in the business.”

Agastya sat up straight in his chair.

“Okay! But, what - what do you want from me?” Agastya asked tentatively. “I work in Network and Systems. I
don’t think you have the right number!”

“Agastya, I know who I am talking to,” there was an almost
imperceptible hint of annoyance in the voice of the man at the other end of the
line. He went on, “We need access to the e-mail accounts of some of the top
guys in your company to check their correspondences. And I’ve been told that you
are the right man for the job.”

Agastya took a sip of the cola that had already gone flat.

“Why - why me? You can
speak to my Manager in the morning. He -“

The voice at the other end of the line did not let him finish.

“Agastya, this is a covert operation and we are a private agency.
We cannot turn up at your office with an order to gain access to these
accounts. Also, right now, we’re not sure how many of the big guys are involved
and in what ways. For all you know, your boss – the Systems Manager you are
referring to - might as well be a party! Let’s not forget that, he has access
to all records of transactions. We do not want anyone getting alert and
tampering with the data we are looking for. We cannot risk exposure. It’ll take
us some time to complete the basic investigation. And I’d really appreciate
your cooperation while we are at it. Once we have enough evidence at our
disposal, we will make this official.”

Agastya thought for a few minutes. The whole thing could be a
hoax, for all it’s worth!

“Look… how do I trust you?”

“I knew you’re going to ask, Agastya. We’ll be completely
transparent with you. One of my agents will get in touch with you. You’ll be
working with her. I want you to hand over the details to her in person. This is for reasons of
safety. And also, to make sure that you put faces to names. We want to win your
trust and make sure that you are
comfortable working with us because, as I said, this investigation isn’t going
to get over in a day. We’ll need to work together for a while.”

“I - I’ll need to think this through. What’s in it for me?”

“We’ll most certainly compensate for your time and your
cooperation. And I can assure you that, you will have no reason to complain
about the money. Don’t worry about that,” the voice sounded reassuring. Agastya
did a quick mental calculation of the remaining EMIs for his new car. Almost at
the same time, the full front-page advertisement of the upcoming apartment complex
in South Mumbai flashed before his eyes.

The voice continued, “So I gather we’re good to go here, right?”

Agastya mumbled an uncertain “Well…”

The voice did not seem to care.

“Thanks for your co-operation, Agastya. Ruchika will get in touch
with you shortly. Have a good rest of the night at work.” The man hung up.

Agastya looked disbelievingly at his phone. Agastya wondered if he
should call someone and discuss. The next moment, he decided against it. The
man did sound like he meant business. And, in any case, Agastya was the one in
charge. He was the one who had access to the data the agency was asking for. He
was willing to give it a shot if the money was good. If, at any point in time,
he had any reason to doubt the authenticity of the agency, he could always step
back. Maybe even report the guy to appropriate authorities. He could always
make an honest confession.

He put the phone down on his desk and went back to monitoring the
data backup jobs. In a couple of minutes, his phone buzzed.

“Hey, this is Ruchika” – said the Whatsapp message.

About the Author:
Sourabh is the author of two psychological thriller novels The Colours of Passion: Unravelling Dark Secrets behind the Limelight (Readomania) and  In the Shadows of Death: A Detective Agni Mitra Thriller (Srishti Publishers and Distributors); Romance Shorts, a collection of dark-romance short stories; a 2-part series Beyond 22 Yards (Srishti Publishers and Distributors) on stories of Love and Crime from the world of cricket and a 7-part series of short stories titled It’s All About Love (Srishti Publishers and Distributors). The titles in the series are The Gift, The Cookery Show and a Love Story, A Special Day, Masks, An Autumn Turmoil, The Hunt, The Death Wish.


A keen observer of human behaviour and cultural diversities, Sourabh loves travelling and has travelled widely across five continents. An avid reader of fiction, Sourabh is equally passionate about photography, movies and music.


Connect with the Author:




Giveaway:

A Paperback Copy of The Sinners by Sourabh Mukherjee.

Open till 25th November, 2019
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Why I got bored with a vegan diet

Fourteen months ago I switched to a vegetarian diet for health reasons. The net result was worth the pain and inconvenience of those first weeks of detoxing from eating meat for 50 years. But about a month ago, I came across a Veggie Challenge on Instagram and decided to try it out - as a vegan. So this my take on following a vegan diet for 31 days, in South Africa.

Exciting and challenging

The first two weeks everything was great. I cooked interesting meals at home and even managed to lose two kilograms. The weight-loss was not planned, but I do have to say not unwelcome. The challenge at this time was mostly finding things for snacking. Having a snack or two each day helps to keep my blood sugar levels stable - a good thing to do for anyone with a busy lifestyle.
As the challenge coordinator mentioned, there are more vegan snack options available these days than there had been say, 5 years ago. Unless you have high blood pressure, then these temptations are not an option. Too much salt, as you would have guessed no doubt.
So snacking options were severely limited for me, hence the weight-loss I think. I did have raw nuts in the cupboard, the bag is still fairly full, but nuts are heavy on calories, and I can only eat so much of them anyway.
Snacks remained a frustrating challenge throughout the whole 31 days.

Then the boredom started to creep in

Ever since leaving my high paying full-time job in January this year, we have been more conscious of the budget and eating out less often than before. On the vegan diet eating out in this country is a huge challenge on the best of days. Something I was not so aware of, until last month.
Boerewors picture courtesy
TempestSA at the English language Wikipedia
Allow me to elaborate for a minute. South Africans love meat. The more the better. We have a standing joke that people in South Africa eat boerewors for salad and chicken for vegetables. Seafood is probably considered a snack I suppose.
Unfortunately, there is more truth in that joke than you can imagine. Eating out options are extremely limited for a vegetarian, and borders on the near-impossible for vegans.
I do have to say this though: at the places where we dine out often, the waiters and chefs have been nice in trying to accommodate my vegan choices during October, but franchise restaurants are so restricted in their menus, that it became a problem for me after a while.
Whoever designs those menus seem oblivious to the fact that there are more food options out there than butternut (which I dislike except during winter), mushrooms (don't much like those either) and zucchini (also called courgettes over here). Whatever happened to lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, wild rice and all the other (very tasty) options to use as a base in cooking?
Even salads - which I love all year round - can definitely be spruced up with nuts, and the aforementioned ancient grains and starches in summer dishes.

Vegan proteins and vegan cheese

Fortunately for me, I had a vegan shake available which I could use to supplement my protein intake during the month. Since I have a dairy allergy (mainly the raw product - milk and cream) I even use the shake on the vegetarian diet.
Meat substitutes are readily available in supermarkets and are wonderful for home cooking. If only the restaurants shopped at the large supermarket chains too. (Hint?)
Back to the cheese. I like the taste of vegan cheese, but be warned, it is not a protein substitute. Aside from being expensive (even more so than the mature dairy version), I feel it a waste to buy because it is only a starchy food.

Fruits and vegetables

October is basically summer already in this country, so the abundance of fruits and vegetables is a pleasure to someone who has always loved fruit and raw vegetables. At least I got all my fibre and vitamins!

Enter the last ten days

By now I was getting really bored with the vegan diet. Except for the breakfast cereal, which I do eat every day of the week irrespective of the kind of diet - with almond milk.
Eating out became a chore, not a pleasure and I started to eat more 'normal' again, including cheese in my evening meals, and sometimes even for lunch. Two days before the end of the month, I started eating eggs again too.

Coffee, coffee, coffee ... my kingdom for a coffee

I drink my coffee black and have been since I was a child. I was the first person in my family diagnosed with the dairy allergy, after almost dying when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I have some tolerance for the mature cheeses, but still have to watch how much I eat.
I love coffee, Americanos, especially, but since hitting the sexy age of 50, drinking my coffee black has become a problem too. So I stuck to drinking coffee after a meal, but I don't have time to eat the whole day just so I could drink coffee.
I found a cappuccino premix - it does contain some milk powder - which I could drink at any time without the pain I experienced with drinking black coffee without eating. Vegan? Not so much, but I love coffee too much limit myself to two cups a day (I don't drink black coffee after a breakfast of cereal and fruit).

A veggie future?

I am not keeping up the vegan diet. That is not to say that I will not eat vegan meals, because I mostly still do at home, but as a South African the long term options are not worth it, at least not right now. Will the restaurants ever change?
I am delighted to say that some already have. Even on Friday when my friend, Vanessa, and I were having breakfast together for the first day of NaNoWriMo, our favourite meeting place had two new vegan options on the menu. I cannot claim to be the reason for it, but maybe I helped to raise awareness for the need that some of us have not to eat any meat at all.
But unless more people ask for a meal to be adapted to a vegan, or vegetarian, diet I don't think the average South African restaurant is rushing to include more interesting and seasonal vegetable-based options on their menus. And they really should.

PS: With NaNoWriMo challenging me once again, this will be the only post for November. But do keep an eye out for my newsletter, and #TheTinyBroom tweets twice a week.

Until December!
💜 Linzé

Monday, 28 October 2019

Book feature: ANYBODY WANT TO PLAY WAR by Tommy B. Smith

book cover, Anybody Want to Play WAR by Tommy B. Smith, fictionAnybody Want to Play WAR?
Brutal injuries can leave scars.
As the teenage survivor of a savage dog’s rampage, it’s a lesson Bryce Gallo will never forget.
Struggling to cope with his damaged appearance, along with a newfound fear of dogs and mounting anxieties at home and school, he flees his suburban home into the moonlit streets of St. Charles.
Along the roads of suburbia and through the shadowed heart of the city, he encounters Wheels, a maintenance worker for a series of apartment buildings; Paloma, known to some by the moniker of Lady Luck; and a woman in a dark house who is, as far as Bryce can fathom, like no one else he has met before.
His new life is not without obstacles or enemies, he learns. The future is a battlefield. Fire and smoke loom on the horizon, and his dangerous course may see the lives of his family and friends forever changed.

Buy Links  >>      Bookish      Amazon      Barnes and Noble



Excerpt
For several seconds, Bryce Gallo stared back at the dog until it shot toward him and lunged. 
It drove him to the street on his back. With a flurry of spittle, its teeth latched into his face, digging in deep. The beast fought to rip the flesh away. 
Bryce’s senses spun. He struggled for survival, pummeling the dog with his arms, pushing against the daze consuming him. Grinding its teeth in, the hound wrenched its head back. 
Bryce’s flesh tore. He gasped. Blood, tears, and canine saliva leaked down his face. 
It required a true effort of will to cram his hand into his right pocket, withdraw the pocketknife, and unfold its four-and-a-half inch stainless steel blade. Desperate, he stabbed it deep into the dog’s rage-quivering neck. 
The dog reeled, grunted, and squealed. Its jaws slipped free. The canine staggered aside and darted across the street. 
With a screech of brakes and a blasting horn, a white Cadillac struck the dog and smeared it across the street in a mess of red, white, and brown. 
The hound’s death broke the fog of fear stalling everyone around. A woman screamed. Her boy stood transfixed. 
A diminutive older man shouted, “Call an ambulance!” 
Bryce pressed his hands against his bleeding face. It hurt, it burned, and that was his base assessment of the pain through his shock. Blood seeped between his fingers. He couldn’t restrain a choked cry. Wild dizziness consumed him. 
The hard street, the blood, and the pain fell away in another instant, swallowed by minutes and hours of incomprehension. 

About the Author
Tommy B. Smith is a writer of dark fiction, award-winning author of The Mourner's Cradle, Poisonous, the short story collection Pieces of Chaos, and the new coming of age novel, Anybody Want to Play WAR?
His presence currently infests Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he resides with his wife and cats.
More information can be found on his website at http://www.tommybsmith.com.




Sunday, 20 October 2019

Living the creative life...most of the time

Life has been crazy since my friend, Vanessa, challenged me to take part in Inktober this month. But my challenges did not end there. I also decided to follow a vegan diet in October (I follow a vegetarian diet since August 2018) and that has turned out to be quite the challenge indeed. But that is not all. Two large art projects have to be completed too - one at the end of November and one in December. November as you know is NaNoWriMo time, so I really have my work cut out for me on top of an increasing workload as a self-employed engineer.
As whiney as all that may sound to you, I am actually happier than I have been in a very long time. And the one thing I can attribute to that state of mind is control of my time. With more hours spent drawing than I have in a long time, I have also managed to work on a large cross-stitch project which I started in 2009. It is not finished yet, but I have more progress on that in six months than in the three years before. 
While I do work longer hours than I ever did in a full-time job, I also now only work 4 days a week. And I am taking three days off in the coming week.
I am a long way away from earning the kind of income that I had before, but the freedom of my time totally makes up for that.
Inktober Day 9 prompt: swing

Cammy: "Told you that thing didn't look safe."⠀
Cricket: 🤬
My drawing skills have improved although I am drawing a cartoon for Inktober which does not show the extent of my present skills. I still love the characters, Cricket and his friends, and am having a load of fun writing the little story to accompany each drawing. Maybe there is a cartoon series to contemplate with the (mis)adventures of Cricket and his friends, Tim and Cammy. Don't forget the dragon, Draco, who also has a few tricks hiding under those scales.
Inktober is running until the end of October and you can follow the adventures of Cricket and friends on Instagram.
The vegan diet will remain an option for me, but not permanently. Eating out in South Africa is for carnivores, with few vegetarian options and even fewer vegan options on the average restaurant menu. Cooking at home is not difficult, and that includes feeding my husband who is a committed carnivore. Snacking requires more planning than I anticipated, but my biggest challenge remains drinking coffee. With a dairy allergy, I drink my coffee black, but recently that has been a problem. So I have limited my black coffee drinking until after a meal.
I love having coffee while working (and not eating), so I have taken to "cheating" by drinking a pre-mix cappuccino powder twice a day. The powder does contain milk, but the processes it has gone through makes it palatable enough that two cups a day does not make me sick. I am not converting to a strict vegan diet despite some weight-loss (grateful for that) but can see myself be open to eating vegan more often in the future.
This time of year I think can get beyond the normal level of crazy we are used to, so I am making sure to get enough sleep, drink enough water, and focus on the things that work towards my mental well being too. And I trust that you will be mindful to do the same. We do after all only have one life, so we need to make the most of it, including taking personal time.
Until we meet again!
💜🙋‍♀️Linzé

Monday, 16 September 2019

COVER REVEAL!! The Last Gryphon by Linzé Brandon

Pre-order links:   SMASHWORDS     B&N      KOBO    Apple Books 
Release date: 29 September 2019

book cover image, The Last Gryphon by Linzé Brandon, fiction, romance
War destroyed everything they loved when the oldest race in the universe, had no answer for the machines that ravaged their new home planet, Xyridia.
The last words of their queen sent Galen and Richard on an impossible quest to find the Lost Gryphene to save their people.
But destiny had different plans for the two men when they crossed paths with the people of Zo'en and Xa'an.

Release date: 29 September 2019
  
Get your copy @  SMASHWORDS    B&N    KOBO   Apple Books