Fantasy Review: The Bonds of Blood by Travis Simmons (The Revenant Wyrd Saga #1)

Epics usually have long-winded and convoluted plots with stories within stories. They are also not supposed to be read at one go. So, attempting to write one is quite a feat!

The Bonds of Blood is rather like a quest where Jovian, Angelica, and Joya go in search of their kidnapped sister Amber. They are provided with invaluable weapons and gifts, that once belonged to their mother, to help them succeed on their quest. But quests are never as straightforward as that so, they also have a mysterious guardian in the form of Grace, an elderly scholar, powerful and ancient spirits who test them at every step. The Neferis children also discover hidden gifts within themselves which they were quite unaware of. Rather a nefarious plot don’t you think? (pun intended).

As an epic fantasy the Bonds of Blood is a commendable attempt and Simmons’ imagination and creation of this vivid alternate world is remarkable.  His detailed descriptions have created an alternate reality with different beings, races and creatures, which further removes the Wyrd saga from being a simple adventure in a fantastic world.

However, just as Simmons’ descriptions are brilliant he has  sometimes gone overboard with it. Too many adjectives and adverbs clutter a page and distract the reader from clean lines of prose and plot. Every character in the story has a point of view. Which is quite natural. Different people do have various perspectives! But when all these versions are thrown at the reader, the reader gets confused. I confess, that  I did have a hard time continuing with the book at certain points of time. I even skipped a few pages to find out what happened and then went back again to follow the plot. So, I think too many perspectives is not a good thing. A good story should be read and the job of the storyteller is to make it as appealing and as smooth as possible.

As much as  I like Dickens I do not like the speed at which his stories move, similarly Travis Simmons needs to find away to speed up his stories. If the people on a quest are slow they might not reach their holy grail in time. Simmons has a lot of potential, he has a good story to tell and he has already created a captivating world. All he needs now is a fast paced fantasy and that is what  I would like to see in The Mirror of the Moon.

The Bonds of Blood (The Revenant Wyrd Saga #1) 

In the world of Saracin, the Goddess damns the earth that killed her two beloved angels and tears it into six realms. As a reminder of their transgression, each person is branded with a stigmata on their palms as testament of their home realm and their separation from the Goddess.

Thirty years later, in the Holy Realm, Jovian, Angelica, Amber, and Joya, quadruplets whose mother died in childbirth, have just reached their 21st spring and are now adults. When terrible visions depicting the downfall of their family stir within Jovian and Angelica, they struggle to make sense of what they have seen while trying to live a normal life.

After Amber is kidnapped in the night, her three siblings are drawn into a dangerous pursuit across the Great Realms to find her. With every step they uncover more mystery surrounding their families past, and something far worse–an ancient enemy that could threaten their hope of ever seeing Amber alive again.

Will this enemy grant the answers they seek, or will she fray the tenuous threads binding them to their old lives?   Buy The Bonds of Blood today and enter a dangerous world of magic!

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About the Author
Travis has been writing since he was 14.  He began writing a book called “The Calling of the Two” and while writing that on and off he started uncovering another idea.
“Yes, this is all well and good, but what about before? What happened in the world before these characters came into it?” He always knew there was a “before” and as he started wondering about it he got ideas. At first they were little ideas but as he discovered the names for his characters a whole story about them emerged.

Travis started working on The Revenant Wyrd Saga several years back and he is very happy he did because hearing and documenting Jovian and Angelica’s story has been one wild ride for him.  He has also written the Infernal Design series.

He lives in a small town at the base of the Adirondack Mountains and hoofing around my neck of the woods gives him a ton of inspiration for his novels.   He loves research, and speculating on different ideas and theories.

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Also available in The Revenant Wyrd Saga
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‘E’ for The Elephant in the room #atozchallenge

Have you had that moment when you were reading an inappropriate book at an pink_elephant1inappropriate time and place? Do you think anything that you deign to read is inappropriate?

How about that time on the tube while you were reading Fifty Shades of Grey and having an erotic interlude in your head and the person behind you or beside you peeped into your book. Maybe they couldn’t help it because it was too crowded. Then, your eyes meet and you both know that he knows what you were reading. The space in the train just got smaller because there’s an elephant in the room and you start counting stops.

A while ago an Indian journalist friend of mine posed a question on social media, ‘would you openly read Fifty Shades of Grey on public transport in India? Or, would you conceal its cover, so that no one knew what you were reading.

I think I would openly read it but, I would conceal it if it had a racy cover. Imagine a train full of people surreptitiously glancing at your reading material. Are they forming opinions about you? Would you mind? I might be too busy reading to bother but, I did have a habit of covering my racy romantic reads in old newspapers once upon a time.

Dragons in my air space #atozchallenge

Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf

Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf

If there was one creature I would want to bring to life from the realms of fantasy. It would be  the dragons. Although, I still have to figure out which version of dragons. The mute and savage beasts from the Harry Potter series (Author: J. K. Rowling), or, the beautiful and intelligent dragons from Eragon  (Author: Christopher Paolini). There are others like the Dragons of Dragon Rider (Author Cornelia Funke) and How To Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell).

I think I’d choose the intelligent dragons from Eragon. We as human beings don’t value our humanity enough, or, give it too much importance. Another intelligent species on earth would give us some competition and stop us from becoming monsters.

Mind reading Dragons will be so much better and prettier than Aliens don’t you think?

Dragons on my shelves

1. Eragon series (The Inheritance cycle)

2. Harry Potter series

3. Dragon Rider

4. How to Train your Dragon

Looking at the C-lver Screen by KM #atozchallenge

Brad Pitt Cinema. Anybody interested in anagrams will have noticed that rather modestly, the word itself says ‘am nice’. In fact, it is magical. But I don’t want to turn pseudo-critic and deliver an essay on the art of cinema. I want to share three (because that’s the date) anecdotes related to cinema and cinema halls, in no particular order.

1. I was rather disappointed with Hollywood movie The Fighter. Christian Bale, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, plays a drug addict in the film, and hence, his look in specific and the film in general were very different from what I had hoped for – something more in the lines of The Dark Knight. But that is not why I remember this film. Turns out people book cheap tickets for a morning show of an Oscar-winning film for different reasons. Making out, for example. The hall was hardly filled to 30% of its capacity. There was probably no one else in my row. Halfway through the film, feeling as if someone was pushing my seat with her/his feet, I turned back irritated. A couple was sitting behind me; the guy on the seat and the girl on his lap. While he seemed to be dividing his attention between the screen and his partner, her entire attention was given to such gestures of interest as would have won any film at least a U/A certificate. No doubt the show behind me could have given competition to the show going on in front, but I felt no interest in watching it. In fact, I lost no time in moving to a different seat. I doubt if they noticed, but I was certainly relieved. In a short time, I realised that those two were not the only couple who had felt horny, been told to get a room, and had the bright idea of using one which also happened to be a cinema hall. After a much milder version of this experience was repeated the same year while watching Bollywood flick My Name is Khan, I added a private cinema hall to my list of things to get if and when I am rich.

2. A film where Brad Pitt gets younger with every passing year – well, you got me at Brad. When I sat down to watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I found myself beside a group of excited young girls – of the age where going to watch a film with friends is still deliciously novel. I remember two of their reactions very well, and rather fondly. One was at a scene where Brad Pitt is driving a motor boat, white foam swelling up all around the boat as he cruises through the blue water, his hair flying in the wind. The character was getting older, and so Brad was looking younger. Sigh. As his boat curved into the screen, the group of girls beside me gave a collective gasp. I had outgrown the age of gasps. I merely widened my eyes. But in my mind, I uttered a sympathetic ‘I know!”

The second reaction was at a love-making scene. It wasn’t intense or explicit at all; on the other hand, rather playful. When the couple on screen kissed, the girls beside me seemed to hold their breaths. But when it appeared to be in undress (white sheets, bare shoulders), they seemed to be divided between fascination and shock. I believe there were a couple of ‘tut-tut’s. It seemed as if my young fellow-viewers still enjoyed a platonic notion of love. Probably they were already on the verge of outgrowing it, but that reaction at that moment felt rather sweet.

Years later, while watching Hindi candy floss Student of the Year, I found myself near a similar group, and this time, the collective gasps went out whenever newcomers Varun Dhawan or Siddharth Malhotra ran in slo-mo or emerged from the water topless. I had grown older, and they are no Brad Pitt. This time, I merely thought, “Oh please!”

3. Shall I write about the first movie I watched alone? Or the first movie for which I purchased tickets in ‘black’ (from illegal sellers outside the hall)? The movie that was withdrawn from halls four days after its release? Or the one I watched from the first row, sitting on my father’s lap, getting bitten by mosquitoes, as a four-year-old? Maybe someday I should try and write down all those stories. This time, I want to finish with something common to every time I have watched a film on big screen. No matter how mediocre it turned out to be, no matter how little I expected of it, every time the curtains have gone up inside a cinema hall, the lights have gone out and silence has descended, I have felt a thrill of anticipation. As if something wonderful is about to begin. It’s been 20 years since Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (one of the first ‘Bollywood blockbusters’) released, but I still love its title song; I still remember Madhuri Dixit blushing and Salman Khan smiling in the deceptively innocent manner he reserves for Suraj Barjatya’s family entertainers. Probably because it was the first time that I had the feeling – as the titles began rolling and the music started playing – of being ushered into a new, magical and fascinating world.

To cinema.Cheers.


KM is my friend and reclusive writer who loves sharing her words but not her identity. Her blog Tithi Katha (translated as, ‘Tithi’s Tales’) is a treasure trove of her life experiences and vivid imagination. So, this April, the social media friendly me is going to share with you, every Thursday, KM’s writing. So stay tuned for more.

Enid Blyton once upon a time #AtoZChallenge

A to Z Challenge B for Blyton

blytonEnid Blyton was my favourite author as a child. It was in a time when Golliwogs were not taboo in books and over zealous editors weren’t trying to change Blyton’s words into something that the modern generation would understand. ‘Peculiar’ is apparently very old school, ‘Weird’ is cool! I was probably one of the last generation of readers who read the books with their original text.

I really feel strongly about updating books to reflect a generation because books are our window into the past. Blyton wrote of her times when caning was legal and children played in the sun. They went camping, and parents and teachers were allowed to discipline children. I think it is as important for children to know about the past, as it is the present and there are enough children’s fiction writers these days.

However what really shocked me was the film Enid, where Blyton was portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter. If the story is really true to her life, then it is amazing how a troubled person like her could produce best-selling, sensitive and well written children’s books! Her relationship with her own children were appalling but you would think she was an ideal mother from her books. The mother who was so in tune with her children’s needs, desires and fantasies, that she could write books about them. In reality she was just like one of the troubled girls in her books trapped in a woman’s life. Whatever she wrote and generations of children have enjoyed were idyllic fantasies she wished she had lived in.

Helena Bonham Carter was superb as always and won a BAFTA for her performance. Going by her portrayal I pity the author and cherish my unadulterated copies of Enid Blyton books even more. They are not just a window into a bygone era any more but a  person’s unfulfilled dreams and desires.

Kolkata or Calcutta is always a dilemma #atozchallenge

Review: Calcutta by Amit Chaudhuri

Summary: Although it appears to be a travelogue or an autobiography, it does not fit perfectly into either of the two genres. Chaudhuri’s succinct and elegiac account of a global city, that tries very hard to hold on to its identity, amidst the rapid globalization of a rising economic power is a mesmeric read as diverse as Calcutta itself.


This is the cover of the book in the Indian Sub-continent. The one I own was bought in London, UK and has a garish orange cover, which is very unlike Calcutta. Kolkata or Calcutta has moments of flamboyance and high drama but never garish!

Main review text:
To a non-resident Calcutta-n this book will evoke extremes of emotions. Some, like me, will be taken on a nostalgic trip through Calcutta, a city that was British India’s capital until 1911, the dilapidated metropolis, which had once defined India’s future and national identity. Without its freedom fighters, social-reformers, philosophers, scientists and artists, the India as we know today would have been a different place.

Amit Chaudhuri’s social commentary and economic history of Calcutta are interspersed with character sketches of a derelict city and its inhabitants, who are still clinging on to its colonial past. The Ingabanga community, as coined by Chaudhuri, is the remnants of a culturally elite class that after much intellectual turmoil chose the communist ideals and was then crushed mercilessly by India’s government. Bengalis built their history during their relationship with the British Empire. With the departure of British and the decline of its industries, all its connections with the world were severed.

However, politics is not the book’s major concern. Chaudhuri speaks of the aftermath of politics in Calcutta, commenting on the costs incurred in its battle to preserve the connection with the world outside.  On reading Calcutta, I realized that Chaudhuri wants to impress upon us that we are not living in a world very different from Calcutta. Calcutta is just a case study of the aftermath of globalization. Towns and cities culturally destroyed by commercialization – chains of supermarkets and technological highways are all that connect us – just like in Calcutta.

The other cover

The other cover

Chaudhuri discusses the disconnection that Globalization has to offer. An Italian chef in Calcutta expresses his frustration, that people in Calcutta don’t want his fresh olives and tomatoes. Why would they? I wonder, Italian food is what globalization brought to Calcutta, which already had a mature and developed cuisine, which transforms tomatoes into chutneys!
This book is going to enrage a lot of people. However, it is a kind of book that India truly needs. A book sans the glamour of Bollywood, the mysticism of snake charmers, spices and forgotten villages is not quite the usual fare for literature from the sub-continent. Devastating, it may be, but reading Calcutta will give you an insight of the real India that travelogues will not.

Further reading suggestionA Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta by Paul Theroux, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy

Disclaimer for reading suggestions: I haven’t read all of these, but I will read them at some point of time. After careful research they looked like books that are similar in theme or style to Calcutta by Amit Chaudhuri.

Artemis Fowl

AWhen I was young I fell in love with fairy tales and I always wished some of them were true. Not the original Grimm’s Fairy tales or Hans Andersen kind, but more Enid Blyton or Beatrice Potter-like. Then, I discovered Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl and with a bitter-sweet poignancy  I wished all of it was true.

Artemis Fowl is an odd boy. He is villainous but he believes in fairies (like me, but I am very nice). Then, he catches one under an oak tree and all hell breaks loose in the fairy tale. The fairies in Eoin Colfer’s eight book saga gain their super powers from not just magic but advanced technology. They live in underground cities after being chased away by human toxicity.

20140401-111051.jpgArtemis starts off as the genius spoilt brat who picks on people weaker than him for his own amusement (read fairies) but during the course of eight books he slowly becomes a criminal with a reason for his crimes. A pint sized Robin Hood with a conscience. Unlike Harry Potter, Artemis has never been just a child hero in a fantasy novel. He has always teetered on the edge of being the anti-hero or the villain of the piece. All his dilemmas have been of his own making and the situations that he deals in are real world adult problems. Artemis Fowl II is a cross between William (Richmal Crompton), Richie Rich (Harvey Comics) and Peter Pan.

On discovering Eoin Colfer’s books I felt that I had found the perfect books. They had magic,


The Last of the series first published in hard cover in 2012 by Puffin books

crime and drama, my perfect ingredients for a good book. Also, the author managed to make each book more complex and gripping than the previous one. Unlike Rowling, who was telling one story in seven books, Colfer had seven villains (one made two appearances). So, you can actually start reading them in the middle of the series. The Fowl series are for all ages from 9 to 90 so, if you are strict about what your children read and are in the habit of reading the books they read, do pick these up. You will surely enjoy them. Just don’t bury an acorn in the moonlight yet!

My first copy of Artemis Fowl was stolen on a train in India. I bought another copy at an old bookshop. It wasn’t the same but I couldn’t bear to lose it. My love-affair with old books never ceases!

Find out more about Artemis Fowl and where to buy them.

Which fantasy series or book do you like best?

I had to start of my #atozchallenge with a bit of fairy dust. Stay tuned for more magic on The Book Drifter and adventures on the Drifting Traveller.