Book Review: #JustRomance by Jyoti Arora (Short Stories)

Jyoti Arora
My Review of Jyoti Arora's #JustRomance

The title and the cover art of #JustRomance perfectly portray the fact that the stories in there are a celebration of love and make for a relaxed reading that one can escape into.
Besides the common theme of romance that the seven stories share, there is a central female character in each struggling against pressures from society and family and at times, even within. Each tale strikes a balance between ambition, familial priorities, and romantic relationship.

Not all is blindly fair in love, but there are other factors that matter. And this is what makes the stories relatable. What is aimed at is a balance. The craziness of love is not of foremost importance. Love does conquer all though...

Each story starts with a few poetic lines, all of which are delightful and some of which are a little cheesy too.
"Oh darling, don't you see? You are my spacebar. No matter what words I use, my story means nothing without you. I need you all the time."

Are all the authorial comments always universally true? Well, there is much to be said about the universally acknowledged truths, such as this one from Drunk on love in #Just Romance
"Deep inside the heart of even the quietest, simplest, plainest, most morally-culturally-socially-legally-politically-correct good girl hides a mischievous goddess yearning to break free." 

The characters of #JustRomance rebel, but there are boundaries to the rebellion too. These boundaries are at times chosen, and at other times, circumstances help. The choices made are not solely over 'just romance' and for me, this adds to the charm of #JustRomance.

Despite the many commonalities among them, each of the stories is very different too. Some are about discovering self, others about letting go of oneself. There are stories of thrill and mystery, and also of emotional turmoil. The locales vary from metro cities to remote islands.

These are simple, sweet, relatable, true-to-life, and so-very-possible stories of the modern, urban young adults.

*  *  *


7 heart-warming love stories to make you smile

You raised a song in my heart
That I never knew before.
Now kiss me, Love,
For I yearn to know
What a dream must taste like.

Luxury adds glamour to romances, danger adds thrill. But it is real emotions that turn love magical. And when love casts its magic, even ordinary people can have extraordinary love stories.

It is seven such delicious and relatable Indian romances that this book brings to you.

With realistic characters that will live in your heart. With romance spanning across mountains, forests, glowing beaches, or coming alive in roadside dhabas and buzzing city streets. With myriad gripping emotions of friendship and love, these feel-good love stories are sure to touch your heart with delight.

If you are in love with love,

then these beautiful romances are a must-read for you!

Seven couples, seven clean contemporary romances, one delicious book.


Because nothing matters more than love.
Read an excerpt

Grab your copy @ | | 

About the author

Jyoti Arora is an Indian novelist and blogger. Besides her books, her writing achievements include several wins in blogging competitions, over five years of freelance writing experience, developing books for kids and abridging 30 English novels like Jane Eyre, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, etc. 

Jyoti’s first novel ‘Dream’s Sake’ was published by V&S Publishers in 2011. It tells a beautiful love story revolving around the troubles of physically challenged people. Her second novel ‘Lemon Girl’ is based on the theme of gender crime against women and victim-blaming. It is featured in Ezvid’s wiki list of 9 Well-Written Novels That Put Women Front & Center. It also received appreciation from Ms. Maneka Gandhi. Her third novel ‘You Came Like Hope’ talks about the opposite side of the issue discussed in Lemon Girl. That is, it talks about the fake cases filed by women. This too is a case of gender crime and victim-blaming. But in this case, it is the man who suffers. The book received much appreciation for its unique theme and heart-warming love story. All three books are intense and based on serious social issues. For her fourth book, Jyoti decided to write something lighter and happier. That’s what has resulted in #JustRomance, a collection of happy love stories. 

Books have always been Jyoti’s best friends. In fact, books so fascinated her from early childhood that she learnt to read by herself even before she started going to school. And she considers herself fortunate that she is able to pursue her dream of being a novelist and work at what she loves best.

However, if books are her first love, the thrilling and steadily advancing world of technology also fascinates her. As a result, one of her blogs is a technological blog called TechnoTreats. One of her posts in this blog even won her the title of Samsung Mobiler in 2011. After that, she has won several other blogging competitions too.

She is a patient of Thalassemia which forced her to drop out of school too soon. But she did not let that defeat her. She studied on her own and completed her schooling through correspondence courses. Then she went on to Jyoti study BA English (Honours) from Delhi University and then achieved postgraduation degrees in English Literature and Applied Psychology from Annamalai University.

For her determination and achievements, she has received appreciation from several eminent dignitaries and her life story has been covered in various TV shows, radio programs, newspapers, magazines, and websites. In the year 2016, she was one of the 100 special women achievers of India that were invited as special guests to attend the Republic Day parade in Delhi. 

You can stalk her @

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  This Tour is Hosted by 

We Promote So That You Can Write 

*  *  *

Search for Self (Book Review: Thar Express - Nagendra Murti)

Title : Thar Express
Author: Nagendra Murti
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

A man is found in the aftermath of a landslide in Kashmir. He has no memory of either who he is, or how he got there.

Thar Express, the book by Nagendra Murti, is the story of this man. The story of is struggle to find ‘himself’, despite being suspected by Indian authorities. The fact that he's caught in Kashmir, close to LoC (Line of Control between Indian and Pakistan) leads to serious questions about his nationality and intentions.

Thar Express, the train connects Karachi, Pakistan to Jodhpur, India.

Thar Express, the book weaves an intricate tale that takes the reader from Kashmir to various cities and states of India, and across the border too, in search of truth and identity of this man.

As he leaves Kashmir, and moves from one place to another, his actions send mixed signals, which keep the authorities on their toes trying to figure out who he really is.

Thar Express, by Nagendra Murti, opens with serene monsoon memories of childhood friends. The peaceful scene soon changes to the plight of the mysterious man and his heart-rending plight.

Just a few pages into the book, I had a soft corner for the protagonist. I was rooting for him, whether the proof was in his favour or not.

Truth and deceit, Patriotism and Terrorism, Humanity and Selfishness, all clash in this fast-paced thriller.

The craving for home, the pain of not belonging, the insecurities of being a stranger even to oneself and the fear of authority is effectively portrayed in this book.

“His mind struggled between a terrible urge to remember who he was, to reunite with his family, to meet someone who he would recognize from past and the trauma of death and pain all around him.”

The goodness or at times, the unbelievable, innocent susceptibility of human nature finds a place too.

It is disturbing that most of this can happen to anyone. It can be so easy for a person to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, to make a small mistake and set the dominos falling... dominos, which may never be able to get back up.
As a reader, there was a feeling of a certain helplessness when I was lost in the story of Nagendra Murti's Thar Express. I guess, what I am trying to convey is that this book made me ache for the dilemma of Mano, the man with only a nickname.

The tale of Thar Express has many a twist, its’ fast-paced narrative keeping the pages turning fast.
It is the ending that is the icing on the cake. The climax of the book is unexpected and a fitting finale to Thar Express’ gripping tale.

Book Review - Supertraits of Superstars (Priyanka Sinha Jha)

Title: Supertraits of Superstars
Author: Priyanka Sinha Jha
Genre: Non-fiction / Self-help
Publisher: Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
First published in 2014
Pages: 186
Price: Rs. 195 (Print copy)

Priyanka Sinha Jha's Supertraits of Superstars is about 'Success Secrets of Bollywood's Brightest'. A self-help motivational book, using biographical anecdotes from the lives of some Bollywood Stars.

The book is not exactly biographical because it doesn't narrate life-stories of these actors. Rather a few incidents from their lives are used to highlight their 'supertraits'.

As the author says in the introduction to this book, reading Richard Bach's Illusions as a youngster was a life-changing moment for her. As a journalist, she interacted with Bollywood actors. She got inspired by them.

It takes an open and positive mind to be able to appreciate and soak up the goodness, to be able to make it a motivational factor for oneself.

Eleven superstars with supertraits that have been 'sharpened patiently over the years'.
Amitabh Bachchan's Discipline, Shah Rukh Khan's Passion, Vidya Balan's Reinvention, Aamir Khan's Perfection,...

The book starts with Amitabh Bachchan - a good start. His discipline, punctuality and humility is impressive, and the author illustrates them with impressive incidents.

"Success can be as difficult to process and assimilate as a failure and rejection"
The supertraits are about achieving success, but all these individuals have been successful for quite sometime now, and it is a supertrait in itself to be able to not let this success get to oneself and take it in one's stride.

Discipline, hardwork, humility, never-say-die attitude, focus and much more... and knowing that these stars live each day working harder, not taking their success for granted, is a great motivation.

One of the questions I was asking myself as I read this book was whether a reader who is not familiar with the world of Bollywood would enjoy this book.
I think, yes, but not half as much as a Bollywood fan would.

To clarify, I love my fair share of Hindi films and do browse through Bombay Times and HT City almost every day. In a Dentist's waiting room, I would usually reach for 'Filmfare' or 'Stardust'.
On the other hand, I don't read any of these cover to cover.
So, I am interested enough, but not a crazy fan.

Being the Editor of Screen, I am sure she knows tons about the private lives of these stars. Her integrity has to be appreciated as she doesn't resort to gossip - it would certainly have additional waves for the book.

A lot of incidents or habits she wrote of are already well-known. Aamir Khan, for instance, is referred to as perfectionist all the time. It is the way, these traits are explained that one can use this book as a positive motivational book.

There are a couple of instances where I felt that certain topic has been over-discussed, though.

The book is about admiration of these wonderful individuals.

The author uses clear expression, identifying the core strength of these actors, rather than vaguely telling stories about them.
It is like someone explaining a boring subject to you in an entertaining way, making it interesting.

I would have loved a few more anecdotes, some more stories I didn't know of.

In the author's words:
"While this book may or may not turn you into a Bollywood star, it can certainly make you a superstar in your own universe."

Some actors I wish had been included - Kajol, Anil Kapoor, Sushmita Sen (Don't call her a superstar, but write about her), Farhan Akhtar.

Can we look forward to a sequel?

Read it even if you don't usually read about Bollywood stars. The book is about hardworking individuals who are actors.

About the author
Priyanka Sinha Jha is a journalist who, in her eighteen-year-long career, has written on celebrities, films, lifestyle, business and more. She has been a correspondent for publications as varied as Citadel, The Asian Age and Intelligent Investor. At the age of twenty-six, she became the editor of Society, India's first celebrity magazine, followed by a stint as editor of HT Style and HT Saturday. Currently, she is the editor of Screen, India's foremost film and entertainment weekly. She has also contributed to Outlook, The Week and Tehelka, and has a regular column in The Indian Express: Play.

Fun Quotes from Kiran Manral's Once Upon a Crush

Title: Once Upon A Crush
Author: Kiran Manral
Genre: Fiction (Romantic Comedy)

"What do butterflies get in their stomachs when they get nervous..."

"Maybe we humans needed to take lessons from the animal kingdom where all females were busy playing Prove Your Love with the Hapless males of their species before they consented to get down and dirty with them."

"Maybe marriage was a communicable disease."

"Complicated happens when bodily fluids are exchanged on a regular basis."

"... the funny wigs that airhostesses wore as part of their uniform, making them look like they were the airhostess version of Oompaloompas having emerged out of some cookie cutter airhostess factory run by Willi Wonka..."

"The scariest thing about growing up must be the realization that one's parents are closer to their date with mortality than one would like."

Introspective Quotes from Aarti V Raman's Kingdom Come

Title: Kingdom Come
Author: Aarti V Raman
Genre: Fiction (Romance, Thriller)

"He didn't believe in either heaven or hell... But he did believe, absolutely, in right and wrong. In truth. In justice. And in freedom. He believed in choice. He believed that we all got exactly what we wanted, because we chose it."

"The Woodpecker
The bird that chipped and chipped away at the branch in a tree to make a nest for herself and her chicks."

"Kids who bounced from foster home to foster home, learnt the value of being grounded to places rather than people early on in life. Places that you had been to, places that you dreamed about, were something else altogether. They were permanent. They were forever."

When all the stars in the universe conspired to give you the very thing you wanted."

"If there was ever a place on earth that whispered peace and serenity, it was here."

Click for My Review of Kingdom Come

TF Carthick's More Unfairy Tales

Title: More Unfairy Tales
(Carthick's Unfairy Tales Book 2)

Author: T.F. Carthick

*  *  *

My Review

Fairy tales - stories that we have heard, read and watched various versions of, over the years. Some toned down to cater to the young readers, others giving a more feminist angle to them, some overplaying the romance angle, others putting some practical sense into the characters while maintaining the romance though. The list can go on and on.
What is special about TF Carthick's More Unfairy Tales is that they are narrated by the 'insignificant' characters of the fairy tales. So it's not all goodie-good stuff, sugar-coated for consumption. The 'unfairy' version of these fairy tales have depth.

My personal favourite from this collection is Snow White's famed fable with the dwarves as narrators. Not only is does it make for an interesting read, it is also a study in the behaviour of different people. After all, the dwarves are named Encyclopedius, Pessimius, Introvertus, and more, with each one pitching in with what they can do best. And then overcoming their shortcomings too.

The point is that as you read between the lines, you hear the voice of the underdog and you know you have been learnt things without any preaching. And then there is profound philosophy thrown in. The last is what I enjoyed the most.

This is elves trying to understand the complicated ways of humans:
"Well, that is how humans are. Ownership is more important to them than creation. They even have this principle that possession is nine-tenths of the law."

Why do we read fairy tales? What is the fascination we have with them? Questions that have been asked often. Through Unfairy Tales, I realised that I like the scope for discovering more from the same oft-repeated story.  

Once you see things from the viewpoint of Carthick's characters, you won't be able to unsee it. It gives a whole new meaning to putting yourself in another person's shoes and feeling the emotions of the ones in the background.

*  *  *


A knight rescues a damsel in distress. They marry, the whole kingdom rejoices, and everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

Or at least that's what Official sources say. But what tales do insiders tell? What secrets lie buried deep inside Davey Jones' Locker?

What, dear reader, about The Unfairy tales?

The stories the Knight-in-Shining-Armour and the Damsel-in-Distress have never wanted you to know. Tales which Fairyland had kept locked up in secret and thrown away the key. Until our rogue bard went back in time and ferreted out skeletons hidden within secret cupboards of desolate mansions.

Our fearless crusader of truth and justice brings to you the second volume of revelations from fairyland.

You will find five more unfairy tales hidden within the pages of this tiny tome, the sequel to Carthick's Unfairy Tales. Stories of elves out to decipher the ways of men and dwarves seeking to reclaim their own histories. Of spurned witches and lost wolves. These stories are going to change everything you have ever believed about fairyland and give you a peek underneath the gossamer threads of glamour and magic peddled by the Fae.
Read an excerpt

Grab your copy @ | | 

About the author

T F Carthick is a Bangalore-based writer and blogger who has been blogging since 2008. He is an avid reader of Children’s Fiction, Science-fiction and Fantasy. Enid Blyton, J K Rowling, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams are some of his favorite authors. His paranormal thriller ‘Bellary’ was one of the three stories in the book Sirens Spell Danger, published in 2013. Six of his stories have featured in multi-author anthologies and literary magazines. He has written over 50 short stories, many of which can be read for free on

He is an Engineer and MBA from India’s premier institutes IIT, Madras and IIM, Ahmedabad and currently works as an Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Consultant at one of the world’s leading Consulting Firms.

You can stalk him @

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  This Tour is Hosted by 

We Promote So That You Can Write 

Banking on God (If God Was a Banker - Book Review)

Book: If God Was a Banker
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre: Fiction (Thriller)
Published by: Rupa Publications
No. of pages: 260
Cover Price: Rs. 199

Sundeep and Swami are star students from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), one from Bangalore, the other from Ahmedabad. 
It is 1986. New York International Bank (NYB) is about to change how banking is done in India.
The two young geniuses join the bank and set on, what initially seems to be, a similar path.
At NYB, the two meet the third of the 'trio', Aditya. 

This is the second book by Ravi Subramanian that I have read. The first was God is a Gamer (2014).
If God Was a Banker was first published in 2007, Subramanian's first book.

I say 'trio', because the same three characters are there in God is a Gamer too. I am going about reading the books in reverse sequence. Well, it seems to be reading a flashback in a story.
God is a Gamer worked very well, without having read the previous works. But having read about the characters before, this book was more fun to read.

Back to If God Was a Banker. Sundeep and Swami start their careers together at NYB. Destiny (or shall I say 'God') had other things planned for them. Or one can justify it as their actions/ethics/convictions.

I have written before that I enjoy the fictions that revolve around facts. This book talks about India in late 80s onwards, and the ways of banking sector then and later.
Since my knowledge of such topics is minimal, it is a bonus when such books add to the knowledge packaged in an easy-to-read fiction with interesting characters.

In a couple of instances, relationships fell into a pattern rather too suddenly, a little too conveniently, that they stood out in the narrative. But the fact is the character it happened to was an unscrupulous, insensitive person and that could be explained as his ways.

In Ravi Subramanian's world of fiction, Good and Bad is usually as distinct as Black and White. Are they cliches or are they also true to the real corporate life, I wonder.

Ravi Subramanian's words from If God Was a Banker -
  • There are two basic things in life, which no South Indian will ever compromise on: The Hindu newspaper, and his morning cup of coffee.
  • He played the devil's advocate. He questioned every simple logic. He made sure that they thought through every option and every consequence of their actions.

I enjoyed reading If God Was a Banker. I have read God is a Gamer before, though. And the comparison was inevitable.
God is a Gamer is faster-paced in comparison. And its' story revolving around Bitcoins is more complex than If God Was a BankerGod is addressed to, referred to and thought of more openly in If God Was a Banker.

Ravi Subramanian's books are about the intricate balance between self-will and belief.
If God were a Banker, though, I wonder what world would be like. Ravi Subramanian's world is forgiving to most. If God were a banker, the banks would certainly be very different.

Book Review and Author Interview (The Cloudosaurus Rex by Emma R. McNally)

Title: The Cloudosaurus Rex
Author: Emma R. McNally
Genre: Children’s Book / Picture Book

*  *  *

My Review of The Cloudosaurus Rex

Angels in snow, castles on sand, figures in clouds... stuff that childhood memories and grown-up relaxation moments are made of.
Just as common is the fascination with dinosaurs.

Emma R. McNally's The Cloudosaurus Rex is a story of dinosaurs in the sky.
"The Cloudosaurus Rex is the king of the sky."

And he's not there just for show.
"And it's he who decides if it's wet or dry."

How is he like then?
"Some days he's friendly and others he's rude!"

How does it affect us?
"The weather we see is the same as his mood."

I have always loved reading Dr Seuss books aloud (much to my kids' indignation) with their rhyming, repeating lines and fun rhythm. I asked the author about this in my interview to her, which follows this review.
I enjoyed reading The Cloudosaurus Rex aloud on my own, and to my children too. They like to pretend they are too grown up for all this but they do join in after a while.

"Stand on one leg and close one eye.
Tilt your head and look to the sky.
Can you see him? What is his mood?
Should we wear sandals or a snuggly snood?"

A warm children's book for all seasons, The Cloudosaurus Rex has me looking for dinosaurs in the sky now...

*  *  *

The italicised text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

*  *  *

My Interview with the author, Emma R. McNally

  • Watching clouds and imagining shapes in them is part of every childhood, yes. But how did you think of a dinosaur in the clouds? Was it as simple as seeing a dinosaur shape, or is there more to the thought process behind Cloudosaurus?The idea of writing about clouds came when I was in a plane on the way home from a holiday. I was playing around with words in my notebook, as normal, and I looked out of the window and let my mind wander. Some of the lines that popped into my thoughts were:

    'Clouds are like people, if you study their shape,
    they will show their emotions by the movements they make.'

    I liked the idea of being able to tell how people were feeling and making a comparison with clouds and the weather. There was a cloud in the distance that seemed to stand above the rest in the shape of an animal, but it wasn't until I got home that I developed the idea into the Cloudosaurus Rex.
  • I love Dr Seuss. And the repeated rhymes in your book immediately made me think of him. Is he an influence on you? Which children's book authors are you inspired by?

    To be mentioned in the same sentence as Dr Seuss is a huge compliment and one I can only hope to aspire to, thank you. I love his work, especially the fact that he was also both an author and illustrator. I am also inspired by AA Milne, not just for his timeless Winnie the Pooh stories but also his wonderful poems, my favourite being: 'Us Two'.
  • Do you do illustrations first or the writing? Or is it a simultaneous process?

    I always write first and then illustrate. When I am writing, I do have very clear images in my mind of the characters and what they should look like, which I then translate into pictures.
  • Who are the first readers/critics of your book?

    My husband and Mum are always the first. My husband is brutally honest and always right!
    I then continue to work on the book until we are in agreement that it is ready and I send it off to my editor.
  • Back to Dr Seuss, I have always been fascinated by his usage of a set number of words in some of his books. The logic being, to choose words that kids can easily understand.
    When writing, how often would you find yourself searching for a simpler word?

    I am always very conscious of making sure the language I use is at the right level. I consider every word I use as I believe there is a find balance between using language that a child can understand, wanting to help them to grow their vocabulary, as well as not wanting to 'write down' to them or be patronising.
    For example, in The Cloudosaurus Rex, I use the words 'snuggly snood' - some children may not know what a snood is, but I decided to keep it in along with an illustration. It turned out to be the right decision as at a local recently, this phrase was the one that they loved saying and called out the loudest!
  • I saw from your blog and website ( that you spend a lot of time with children. There are many fun pics of you with kids in schools, etc. Any experience from these visits that stands out in your memory?

    There are so many great experiences but a few definitely stand out. Some funny; such as when I asked a class: 'what is an author?' and one little girl answered: 'is it an alien?'
    Through to the amazing feeling just before Christmas when I was at a school and finished reading one of my stories, closed the book and the children spontaneously ask to hear it again.
    The most recent experience that stands out was when I performed The Cloudosaurus Rex for the first time in front of 240 children; they joined in with the actions, called out the rhyming verse and the noise as they roared like a Cloudosaurus Rex nearly took the roof off!
  • On a personal note... ever been to India? If not, any plans? :)

    No I haven't and as I normally have ideas when I am away, this would be a great location for a new story. This year I am visiting Isle of Skye to do some research on my next character (not wanting to give too much away) as well as Canada, so maybe next year? Who knows!

Look forward to reading a book based in India, with nice colourful illustrations. And I especially loved reading about the experiences with the children.

*  *  *
About the Book

May, Adelle and Eddie go outside to play,
but the weather keeps changing every day.
They see a Cloudosaurus Rex, kind of the sky;
it’s he who decides if it’s wet or dry.
You can learn the days of the week together,
as the Cloudosaurus Rex changes the weather.

Book can be purchased via:
Barnes and Noble:

Bookshops – book can be ordered via any good book shop ISBN: 9780993080654

*  *  *

About the Author

I have always loved reading and writing. In fact, I had the idea for my first book when I was only 8 years old. As a child we didn’t have a TV, so I was always writing stories, poems, reading or making things out of left over fabric. I studied English Literature and languages at school and gained my Master’s Degree with distinction in 2004. My love of reading has helped me throughout my career and I want to encourage children today to develop their own love of books, which I believe will help them to reach their future potential.
After a successful 25 year corporate career, I took the step to set up my own business two years ago and write, illustrate and publish children’s books – an ambition of mine for many years. I have had amazing reviews and articles written about my work. I believe the greatest critic for a children’s author is the children themselves and they are always honest! It is when a group of children are captivated by my story, mesmerised and hanging off every word, joining in with the rhyming verse and actions and then, when I have finished, ask to hear the book again – this is when I know I have written a great story.

I am always inspired by people who have pursued their dreams relentlessly – their tenacity and drive motivates me to be successful. My late father was a big influence on me and I have inherited his passion, enthusiasm as well as his love of reading. My favourite authors will always be AA Milne and CS Lewis, purely for the fact that you can read their books at any age and be swept away on the waves of your own imagination.    

*  *  *

Author Interview - Bruce Edwards (The Age of Amy Series)

Bruce Edwards writes young adult fiction on subjects most YA authors shy away from. His award-winning The Age of Amy series explores unconventional topics—from the trappings of modern technology to the absurdity of Washington politics. Through fantasy and imagination, Bruce addresses real-world issues, as young readers enjoy a fun read.

The Age of Amy - 'An inquisitive adolescent girl embarks on a quest to understand the times she was born into'.

From a boot camp for troubled teens to political decisions and a smartphone implanted inside humans, The Age of Amy is a series with insightful fun.

Here's my curious questions to the author of The Age of Amy series, Bruce Edwards and his answers...

Why the name Amy? Is there a story behind it?
I want readers to see the title character as an ordinary teenager, so I chose an ordinary name. What makes Amy unique, however, is that she’s not content to travel the same road as today’s youth culture. She questions everything. She sees the bigger picture, and unlike her peers, actively involves herself in improving the world her generation will one day inherit.

Your books are clearly the result of a lot of research. How much work goes into researching an idea that you think of for a book?
I actually do very little in-depth research. I just keep my eyes open. I write about problems and solutions that should be obvious to everyone, but aren’t. The Thumper Amendment is a story where corruption in American politics is simply an accepted fact. Amy looks at its inherent flaws and asks, “Is this the best you can do?”

From sci-fi to politics to dark magic, there is such variety in your books. What are you working on now?

Book# 5, The Age of Amy: Mad Dogs and Makeovers, sends Amy in search of a personality-altering shampoo, and is on track for a June, 30th release date.

Are you getting a sense of Déjà vu with the ongoing Presidential campaign, having written The Thumper Amendment?
The central theme of this book is “meanness”. In developing the plot, I looked for a situation where people are at their nastiest. A contentious presidential campaign, where mud-slinging, attack ads, and character assassination are the norm, provided the perfect backdrop.

Understanding teenagers seems to be an impossible task. How do you work on writing from the point of view of one?
I think of teenagers as a two-sided coin. Heads is the fun, carefree existence that all teens are entitled to. Tails is the untapped idealism that hasn’t fully developed. My books offer the best of both sides: enabling young adults to explore real-world issues while enjoying a fun read.

Thanks to Bruce Edwards. Looking forward to The Age of Amy Book #5: Mad Dogs and Makeovers.

Author Interview - Michael Thal (The Koolura Series)

Author Michael Thal
Michael Thal is the author of five published novels—Goodbye TchaikovskyThe Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura, Koolura and The Mystery at Camp Saddleback, andKoolura and the Mayans. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education.
 Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.

I asked him a few questions about his books, his writing process and more...


Thank you for having me on your blog.

Were you a blogger before you started writing articles and books? Did one lead up to the other? 

Actually, first I wrote articles to develop a name for myself. Some of those publications included Highlights for Children, San Diego Family Magazine, and Writer’s Digest. At the same time I worked on a novel and then submitted to publishers and agents. I only started writing a blog when my publisher indicated that it would help with sales and promotion. Thus, Pop’s Blog was born. It’s a blog about YA books, its authors, and readers.

I like the simple, uncluttered, yet thorough look of your blog. Why the colour green? You do have a greenish shirt on, so favourite colour? :)  

That’s a good question. When the blog was set up by my webmaster, Savio, he placed The Abduction of Joshua Bloom on the front page of the blog because it was recently published. The publisher, Solstice Publishing, chose green as the major color for the book cover. Therefore, Savio chose green as the dominant color of the blog. Since there hasn’t been a good reason to change it, so it stays. And my favorite color is red, not green.

Why is your blog titled 'Pops Blog'? Is there a story that led up to this name? 

Another good question, Nimi. When my daughter, Channie, married her husband, David, he wanted to know what to call me. I recalled my father calling my grandfather Pop. I thought that was cool, so I asked David to call me “Pop.” For the first six months of my blog, I didn’t have a name. Then I thought of David and the idea just popped into my head and hasn’t let go.

Koolura is in sixth grade in the first book. It says on your website that Koolura series started as 'an impromptu story for your daughter'. How old was your daughter then?

Channie was in sixth grade when I wrote The Legend of Koolura. It was a motivator to get her interested in reading.

Your medical problems and subsequent severe hearing loss is also mentioned. Did you use to write before this too, or may be aspired to? 

I taught elementary/middle school for 20 years prior to my hearing loss. I started writing The Abduction of Joshua Bloom when I was in my twenties, two decades before I awoke one morning deafened. Only after my hearing deteriorated where I couldn’t understand my students any longer did I decide to take disability and learn the craft of the writer.

Why the name Koolura? It is a 'cool' name, yes, but how did you come up with it? 

When Channie was in sixth grade everything out of her mouth was followed with, “That’s cool.” Since my main character had to be cool, the name just popped into my head.

What is your writing process like? Any particular idiosyncrasies that find a place in it? 

I make it a point to write a chapter every month. Then I bring the polished chapter to my writer’s group meeting. There my three writing buddies tear it apart, suggest changes, and compliment areas they liked. I take home their suggestions, edit and resubmit to them via e-mail. They’ll make further changes and after I edit the chapter again, I file it then work on the next chapter. This process continues until the manuscript is complete. Then I go back and edit, submit to one writing buddy, and then the other. When I feel the book is the best I can get it, I’ll submit to my publisher. When I submitted Koolura and the Mayans to Solstice Publishing the editor said, “This is near perfect and should take no time to get ready for publication.”

What are you working on next after Koolura and the Mayans? Or is it a time of break between two books? 

Right now I’m interviewing Jila’s family. Jila was my wife of 16 years. She died of colon cancer over a year ago. Deaf and Jewish, a bad combination in Iran, Jila had a tough childhood. Gem of Peace: The Story of a Deaf Girl in Iran will be about Jila’s childhood, her positive attitude, and the love she always showed to family and friends.

Do you work on only one book at a time, or are there many plots and many stories simultaneously? 

No, I only work on one book at a time. I also tutor children and recently was recruited to become an International Educational Coordinator for EF High School Exchange Year. I’ll be meeting many young people from all over the world with marvelous stories to tell. Great fodder for novels, don’t’ you think?

It sure is. And do you plan to write a sequel to Goodbye Tchaikovsky?

No plans. If sales improve, perhaps.

Thanks a lot and all the best for Koolura and the Mayans.

To read more about Michael Thal's latest book Koolura and the Mayans, click here.

You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website and blog at His books can be purchased on and Barnes & Noble in print and as e-books.