Monday, April 22, 2013


Meet KERRY LETHEBY, the author of a wonderful suspense fiction novel, MINE TO AVENGE (reviewed here). Read on to find out more about the book and the brain behind it... 

ZR: Did you always have this story, 'Mine to Avenge' in mind before you put it down on papers? What inspired you to come up with this beautiful story line?

KL: No, the story was something that more or less evolved. It began with an idea - a ‘What if?’ thought, triggered by the disaster of September 11, 2001. As I watched the drama unfolding on the television during those first few days after the event, I was struck by a thought that gradually became an obsession. Unfortunately I can’t reveal this thought, as it is one of the major plot elements of the story, and it would spoil the enjoyment of the story for those who haven’t yet read it. This thought often came to me over the next few years, and I eventually began to wonder if there might be a story lurking in their somewhere. I eventually sat down in January 2010 to see what I could do with it, and Mine to Avenge was the result.

ZR: Which parts of your own book do you like the most?

KL: I think I like the revelation of Spyridon’s character - finding out about his background and how this impacted his life, his personality and his choices. I also like the part where the protagonist, Alcandor, finally discovers the truth about what is happening to his family, and something dramatic happens to prevent him warning his family of the danger they are in.

However, I think my favourite part is a passage toward the end of the book, where one of the main characters is reunited with his family after an absence of many years. When he returns he is a changed man, and very broken after his experience, and his reunion with his family always makes me teary.

ZR: At the first sight, it appears that the book might have been written by someone who might have had a Greek origin. Is it actually the case with you? 

KL: No, I have absolutely no Greek heritage or background at all, so this aspect of the book required significant research. My heritage is mainly Cornish, with a dash of French in there. However, I grew up in the 1960s in South Australia’s Riverland area, area, which had a high percentage of Greek immigrants at the time. I drew on my knowledge of this area and of the Greek families I knew personally for some of the background to the book. I also interviewed several older Greek people who had some knowledge and personal experience of Greek village life and customs, but most of the Second World War and Civil War information was gleaned through research.

ZR: How much time did the whole process take - from inception of the idea to the final product in hand?

KL: The idea for Mine to Avenge began, as I said earlier, with September 11, 2001, and I had the finished product in my hand in October 2012 - so that is eleven years and one month. The writing process took up almost three years of that time.

ZR: What, according to you, are the greatest works in suspense fiction till date?

KL: I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t have much knowledge of current suspense fiction, as my tastes tend to lie in the older classic favourites. There are so many of them, but these are the first few that came to mind - Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca/ Jamaica Inn), Lew Wallace (Ben Hur), Norah Lofts (How Far To Bethlehem), Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities), James Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice), Len Deighton (The Ipcress File), and Geoffrey Household (Rogue Male).

ZR: You had mentioned about a sequel to this book. By when should it be out and what would it be like?

KL: I would like the book to be out sometime in 2014 but I am not making any promises at this time. As I work full-time, I am finding it difficult to give my writing the time I would like to. The book will be part sequel and part companion volume to Mine to Avenge. In Mine to Avenge, we read of two characters by name only, Christina and Anna, but they don’t come into the story at all. This work in progress is their story. The first half of the story is a companion volume to Mine to Avenge, with the events running parallel in time to some of the events in Mine to Avenge. I have already written most of this part, which will make up the first half of the book. However, the second half is proving to be the most difficult. This part will be the sequel part of the story, with Linus, one of the main characters from Mine to Avenge, attempting to find Christina and Anna as they are his aunt and grandmother. I have some of this part worked out, but not enough to bring it all together yet.

Thanks Ms. LETHEBY!!
It was a real delight getting to know more about you. We are all eagerly waiting for your next book.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Where's Green? by Renee Heiss and Gary A. Stewart

Title : Where's Green? (The EnteleTrons Series)
Author : Renee Heiss and Gary A. Stewart
Illustrated by : Fay Cofrancesco

'Where's Green?' introduces us to three EnteleTrons : Ellie - the electron, Priti - the Proton and Ning - the Neutron. And in tune with the typical characteristics of these particles, Ellie is always looking for ways to make connections and sometimes ends up making mistakes too. Priti, the Proton brings positivity to everything around her. She is a loving character taking strength from her positive outlook towards people and life in general. Many times she gently nudges Ellie to correct her mistakes too. Finally the mediator, the most neutral character is the Ning. He is the one looking to solve problems and to work on challenges. He is an expert in using various devices that are available in their EnteleLab.

The author has very intelligently chosen the names for these significant particles highlighting the essence of their personalities . The name Ellie is of Greek origin meaning Light, name Priti is Indian and means love and Ning is of Chinese origin which means peaceful.

This time all three of them are trying to investigate the reason for the green color to be missing from the plants, trees and even from the rainbow. They decide to question the primary colors first for the reason behind the disappearance of green color from among them. They come to know that the bickering of all the rest of the colors annoyed the calm green color to such an extent that it decided to leave the group.
Thanks to Ellie, Priti and Ning, the rainbow colors realize their folly and agree that the natural order was indeed the best way to be. This appeased the green color too and it wooshed back at its rightful place.

A colorful book for young readers and a step towards starting them early on the concepts of science in a fun and light way. The rainbow colors, the three particles of matter, the prism, separation of visible light and many other things are introduced in a very simple manner through an interesting tale. Moreover, the life lesson of working together and in unison is also conveyed beautifully here. The after notes written by the author are worth mentioning too - "When you read about the EnteleTrons and their adventures, think about how tiny they are in size, but how huge they are in their effect on the universe. You can be just like the EnteleTrons.  Think about how you can make a huge difference in other people's lives too."

More activities, experiments and interesting discussions can be accessed at

Monday, April 15, 2013

I'd Kill For You by Alan Plessinger

Title: I'd Kill For You
Author: Alan Plessinger

The wife of a man convicted of killing his own son is found dead, the man goes into hiding, and thus, the whole story begins. As an unlikely twist, the detective agency hired to search for the man and solve the murder mystery, come upon a teen aged runaway who is looking for her mother whom she has never met but has been writing to. The girl falls in love with one of the detectives, just a little bit, but it is decided that they have better things to do for the present.

'I'd Kill For You' is a very complex tale with the detective agency, trying to uncover two full fledged mysteries and it seems unlikely that the two cases could possibly have any connection. The detective agency is being run by five brothers, who apart from being detectives, have their other lives as well. One runs a hotel, one is an ex-cop, one is a male prostitute, and so on, and all of them together, also form a music band.

The best part about the book is the mystery, for it is the only part that makes the book worth reading. But there are several other things as well that may put some readers off or maybe, just turn them on. A wonderful read for those who love a complex murder mystery, rolled together with loads of adult stuff, while also some great inputs on Christianity and God and a variety of other stuff and even some good values. 'I'd Kill For You' is one book where you could get all that.

The most touching aspect that I found about the book was the letter the father of the teenager runaway wrote to her. Even the toughest of shells could contain the most tender of hearts. And parents are parents, after all. Also, one could actually take lessons in forgiveness from Adam De Remer, one of the detectives, his patience being mountain sturdy.

And, you'll really have to read till the last few chapters to know who'd kill for whom, and of course, what becomes of the two strange cases that the detective agency is working upon, if you can brave it till there, that is.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview with Sieglinde C. Othmer

Here, we have a mini interview with Seiglinde C. Othmer, PhD., the author of 'Whims, Wits and Whiskers: A Californian Pet Tale' [reviewed here]. She shares her views on her book, 'juvenile fiction' and her future plans. Read on...

ZR: Did you always have this story, 'Whims, Wits and Whiskers: A Californian Pet Tale', in mind before you put it down on paper? What inspired you to come up with this beautiful story line?
SCO: I have always loved and been fascinated by animals.  I enjoy imagining what truly goes on in their minds and what happens when we humans are away.  Insight into animals can provide an intriguing parallel to humanity – behavior, motivation, satisfaction, and disappointment.

Once during a party that my husband and I hosted, I fantasized about what our pets were doing in the backyard.  Were they having a party of their own?  Who had they invited?  The neighborhood pets or the wild beasts from the woods or both?  What did they do?  Was it a success?  The story developed from there and transformed into this book.

One major inspiration was witnessing my daughter Julia create music. I was also motivated to show my granddaughters what matters most in life: problem solving, sharing, getting along and creating. I love nature, art, animals, traveling and languages. The story gave me a chance to mix them together.

ZR: Do you have a lot of pets whose behavior you observed over a long period of time?
SCO: Yes. The core of ‘Whims, Wits, and Whiskers—A California Pet Tale’ is true to life. The dogs and cats in my story were inspired by real family pets, and all were rescues.  They lived in Los Altos Hills, California, in Danville, Pennsylvania, and yes, the cats whose Mistress and Master are artists lived in Hollywood. Even the duck is true to life—Harvey was my neighbor’s pet who chose to never set a foot in water.

ZR: In your story, cats and dogs (born to fight) come together for the realization of their dreams. Is there an implied moral behind this, or is it just meant to be taken as it is?
SCO: Thank you for posing this question. The power of cooperation and appreciation of differences is one of my favorite themes. If we can effectively communicate, despite our differences, we can reach a point where all obstacles can be overcome and dreams of any sort can be realized. 

ZR: Which parts of your own book do you like the most? Which pets among all those mentioned, are your favorite?
SCO: What I cherish the most is the moment where the unlikely happens: cross-species communication. Mammals and birds talk (Chap. 4) and all witness how far we can go when that happens.

My favorite pet—and I never thought about this until you asked—is Lexi, because she develops the most.  From being a naïve sweetheart, she grows to muster the courage to play the lion role in the show.

ZR: How much time did the whole process take - from inception of the idea to the final product in hand?
SCO: Four years and many drafts. 

ZR: What, according to you, are the greatest works in juvenile fiction till date?
SCO: I love E.B. White: Charlotte’s Web.

ZR: Is there any sequel to this book in the pipeline? If yes, what would it be like?
SCO: I have plans.  At this time, I will keep them as my secret. But I hope my next story will be funny, meaningful and a total surprise.

Thanks a lot Mrs. Othmer!! 
It is actually heart warming to know that something with its roots in reality can be transformed and made into a story so interesting and meaningful. I am sure a lot of new authors will take inspiration from you.  And  we are all eagerly waiting for your next book.



 A refreshing and a delightful book for children. The sweet little story is of a third grader, Katie, who is depressed about leaving her old friends and her school. In spite of her new school mates friendliness Katie is not able to come out of her shell. Then Captain Courage, with all his finery, enters the story and helps Katie’s class teacher with putting Katie at ease.

I would have loved to have Captain Courage in my school in my childhood days. I am quite sure that children with their vivid imagination are going to lap this story up and will be on a lookout for a super hero of their own.

I shared this book with my ten year old daughter and it resulted in her roaming about the house in a cape dangling around her back and wearing squeaky shoes!

I enjoyed reading the book and especially liked Captain Courage’s dressing sense and his exuberance. The illustrations done by Michelle Morse are good and make sure you make your child look for tortoise that she has put in each picture.

In the end the author has shared some tips for confidence building for the children.
The suggested age range for the readers is 4 to 11,but I would recommend it for a little older children, aged around 6 or so.

Go ahead and let your children read this book and let them learn that they can overcome their fears just as Katie did! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Feast of Roses by Indu Sundaresan

Title : The Feast of Roses
Author : Indu Sundaresan
Publisher : Harper Collins
ISBN : 9789350292099

After reading 'The Twentieth Wife'(reviewed here), I did not want the wonderful reading experience to end there so had to read the sequel of that book immediately.  The first book ended when Mehrunnisa became Jahangir's twentieth and last wife. This was one betrothal based entirely on love between two individuals and not for any political favours. Overwhelmed with happiness emperor Jahangir bestows the title of Nur Jahan upon his new wife Mehrunnisa.

An intelligent, clever, well-read and politically aware woman as Mehrunnisa was, she knew she would have to face her rival in the imperial Harem in the form of the then Padshah Begum Jagat Gosini but her calculated moves made her the new owner of the prestigious title Padshah Begum pretty soon. Nur Jahan knew how to turn Jahangir's unflinching adoration towards herself to gain many favours, including - positioning of trustworthy people around her, transfer of royal seal under her command, accompanying emperor to give audience to commoners and tactically banishing many others who could pose a threat to her commanding position. Her clever machinations very understandably antagonized many people in and outside the palace grounds.
She became the powerful woman who challenged the dynamics of how male dominated royalty functioned. Nothing could restrain her within the walls of the emperial harem. Though veiled, she made sure that her voice reached far and wide. She monitored, molded, maneuvered and manipulated Emperor Jahangir's royal farmans and decisions and Jahangir became the required cloak for her feminine voice.

Between the two books, my recommendation would be for 'The Twentieth Wife' as I always maintain that the 'first' books enjoy many privileges which sequels can never get. In spite of this fact, Indu Sundaresan has managed to maintain the same charm and fascination in her second book that she so beautifully created in her first. Her works are testimony to the amount of research she must have done while penning these books down but what stands out the most and must not remain unacknowledged is her treatment of the characters. Their sensitivities, vulnerabilities, dependencies are brought out beautifully by the author.
Through her portrayal, Mehrunnisa stands tall eclipsing the rest in her passion to put her signature on the annals of history for posterity to remember. Ironically because of the epitome of love - the Taj Mahal that Khurram (Shah Jahan) built in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, rose another Mughal Empress whose fame and popularity eventually surpassed that of Nur Jahan.

Indu's writing has the power to give wings of imagination to the readers and this makes the saga rise much higher than the one that is simply narrated rather it becomes the rare one which is felt and experienced. So a big thumbs up to the books written by Indu Sundaresan.