Win-a-Book Wednesday: The Migrant Report

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By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

MigrantReport

Win a free e-copy of Mohana Rajakumar’s first mystery novel. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling BestSelling Reads:

What do you like best about mysteries?

Don’t forget to leave your email address.

About The Migrant Report

The penalty for stealing is losing your hand. No wonder Ali can leave his wallet overnight in his office. Yet crime hovers on the fringes of society, under the veneer of utopia. Police captain Ali’s hopes of joining the elite government forces are dashed when his childhood deformity is discovered. His demotion brings him face to face with the corruption of labor agencies and also Maryam, an aspiring journalism student, who is unlike any local girl he has ever met. Ali and his unlikely sidekick must work together to find the reason so many laborers are dying. Against the glittery backdrop of the oil rich Arabian Gulf, Ali pursues a corrupt agency that will stop at nothing to keep their profits rising. As the body count rises, so does the pressure to settle the source. Can Ali settle the score before the agency strikes again?

About the author

MohanaMohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.

Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

 Visit her:

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Focus Friday: The Opposite of Hate

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By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

OppositeOfHateCoverChapter One

October 1973

Luang Prabang, Laos

The scent of the Mekong River, wet earth and water, permeated the air. Dampness, like a blanket, folded around them, as the final weeks of the monsoon lingered in the air. Purple clouds of dusk populated the sky. The watchers below stretched their necks, hoping to hasten the moment when the moon would hang like a jackfruit over them, impervious to the hustle of human bodies gathered for the Lai Hua Fai festival. Only when the moon appeared could their boats set sail and signal the end of the monks’ three-month retreat, or Buddhist Lent. All along the shore, fathers prepared to light fireboats fashioned from banana stalks and leaves to send across the river while children hopped from one foot to another in anticipation of how far theirs would travel on the glass-like surface of the water. Mothers hung back, nestled on logs and blankets, putting the final touches on spicy papaya salad and sticky rice for when the stomachs of their family members would remind them of the lateness of the hour. The biggest and boldest boats would launch first under the glow of the full moon. Older children were instructed in technique. Elders, grandparents, aunties, and unmarried uncles watched with one eye for those too eager with the match or careless with the wicks, their ears attuned to the latest gossip from friends and relatives. Qui, Sengchanh’s wife, held the boat he had bought from one of the stalls.

The banana stalk boat hung in her loose grip on top of her distended belly. Qui’s hair was knotted into a bun at the nape of her neck. This time next year, they too would have a pudgy-fingered toddler reaching for a boat, a vessel Sengchanh would whittle for this long awaited firstborn. A boy, impatient for full dark and the moment when hundreds of boats would set sail across the Mekong, taking away bad luck and bringing in the good, like all the other boys up and down the shore, their parents catching on to the excitement.

For now, Sengchanh was content at the sight of Qui’s cheeks, flushed from the breeze, the color returning to her skin, hinting at the vigor of the woman she had been before.

“Now can I?” she asked, like one of the dozens of children eyeing the river, for the umpteenth time since they had arrived to the embankment. “Seng?”

He laughed. “No, we have to wait for the moon,” he said. He pointed at the visible edge of the orange-rimmed sinking sun.

They sat down again on bamboo stools near the makeshift eatery, recently established for the occasion. A balding street vendor in a grease-stained apron called out the names of meats as they were grilled. Seng signaled for a cup of rice wine and a young boy with longish hair ran one over to him. He pulled out a few hundred kip for a Green Spot, the Lao soda, for Qui. A few paces away the transaction was monitored by the wide-eyed stares of two children who bore a striking resemblance to each other. There were no adults around them, and from their worn shirts and shoeless feet, Seng wondered if there were any.

About The Opposite of Hate

During the 1960s and 70s, more bombs were dropped on a landlocked part of Southeast Asia than in any other war – and it wasn’t Vietnam. The turbulent history of the Land of a Thousand Elephants, the Kingdom of Laos, is the backdrop for this family saga, told as a historical novel. The Opposite of Hate opens a window onto a forgotten corner of Southeast Asia and brings little known history to life through vivid characters and settings which explore the cultural heritage of Lao history.

The Opposite of Hate explores the intersections of family, loyalty, and nationalism as Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is being taken over by Communists. The political instability drives Seng, a widowed engineer, to marry his best friend’s teenage daughter, Neela, so they can escape re-education or even worse, death. The unlikely husband and wife cross the Mekong River into Thailand as strangers.

Life in the refugee camp brings surprises along with the grime. As they struggle for survival, romances blossoms into an unplanned pregnancy. Seng and Neela get their wish of immigrating to the United States. Succeeding in suburbia, however, presents another unique set of challenges, ones that are not black and white.

This is a tale of intermingled violence, love and ambition.

Seng and Neela embody the historic cultural struggle of thousands who fled the threats of communism only to face the challenges of democracy.

About the author

Mohana.Family.July2014-LR-72Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.

Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

 Visit her:

 

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Focus Friday: New release—The Migrant Report

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By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

MigrantReportMohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s newest book is the opening of her Crimes in Arabia series. It’s now available for pre-order.

What’s it about?

Against the glittering high-rises of the capital, Manu, a recent arrival from Nepal, drips his days away on a construction site, cut off from the world outside the labor camp. His sister despairs of finding him among the thousands of migrant workers flooding into the Arabian Gulf to build the country’s infrastructure. Manu and Sanjana must keep their younger siblings out of poverty, even if at their own expense.

Police captain Ali’s hopes of joining the elite government forces are dashed when his childhood deformity is discovered. His demotion brings him face to face with a rising pile of unexplained dead bodies and also an aspiring journalist who is unlike any local girl Ali knows. In danger of flunking out of university, Maryam is searching for an original story that will appease her professor and keep her family’s machinations for marriage in check.

Can the unlikely trio fit the pieces of the puzzle together before agency thugs get to Manu?

You can pre-order it now from Amazon.

About the author

Mohana.Family.July2014-LR-72Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion. She was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

Qatar has been a source of inspiration for Mohana’s latest work including From Dunes to Dior, a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later, her second novel, is a modern day multicultural romance set in Doha and London and was short listed for the New Talent award at the Festival of Romance.

Mohana has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan. She was a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition.

She writes because words can help us understand ourselves and others.

Mohanalakshmi can be found:

BestSelling Reads Author page   |   Amazon Author page   |    Blog   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   YouTube

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Wordless Wednesday: Colored and other Stories

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By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

 

Colored and otherShadedWhat’s it like being the ant in the ice cream? The characters in this short story collection will show you; experience life as they know it as transplants from across the world into American suburbia.

Adapted from real life anecdotes both her own and those of others, Mohana takes us into the world of the South Asian immigrant living the American Dream. Think of her as a cultural translator for those who you may not notice otherwise, living in the margins of our cities.

“What are a few inches when you know he will provide for you the rest of your life,” her mother would have said, smacking her in the cheek.

The sight of his feet, white, broad toes, and clean, short-clipped nails startled her. Americans normally wore their shoes everywhere; they had special shoes to wear inside their houses, shoes specifically for their bedrooms.

About Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Mohana.Family.July2014-LR-72Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer.

She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine. In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books. Qatar has been a source of inspiration for Mohana’s latest work including From Dunes to Dior, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later, her second novel, is a modern day multicultural romance set in Doha and London and was short listed for the New Talent award at the Festival of Romance. She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010). Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies.

Since she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines. Mohana has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation project was published as Haram in the Harem (Peter Lang, 2009) a literary analysis of the works of three Muslim women authors in India, Algeria, and Pakistan. She was a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. Currently she is working on a historical novel set in the East Asian country of Laos in the 1970s. She writes because words can help us understand ourselves and others.

Visit Mohanalakshmi’s 

And follow her @moha_doha on Twitter.

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Focus Friday: Our first cookbook

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VegginItI’m Veggin’ It

A Beginner’s Guide

By Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

BestSelling Reads’ first cookbook comes from the bestselling author of The Dohmestics and Saving Peace. Here’s a sample recipe:

Clean Out Your Cupboard Soup

I’m going to tell you a secret about soup: you can’t really mess one up. As long as you have a tasty broth as a base, which you can cheat on with bullion cubes, pretty much anything can go into a soup and come out tasting great. When I panic about how much is going unused in our fridge and cupboards, I resort to this soup.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes, depending on how many ingredients you’re using

Cook time: 1-2 hours, depending on the mode of cooking. Shorter for a stovetop, more for a slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 cups vegetable broth (more if you like your soups with broth, less if you like them more like stew)
  • Possible items to include: note that all canned vegetables should be rinsed and drained before tossing them into the pot.
  • Black beans or beans of any kind
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Celery or anything that gives a bit of crunch, like chickpeas
  • Cabbage
  • Edamame
  • Mushrooms
  • Leftover rice (either in the soup or on the side)
  • Potatoes
  • Onions

Seasonings:

  • Garlic is a staple for nearly every dish and soup is no exception
  • Ginger, if you fancy an Asian flavor
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, if you like a little kick

Directions

Using the broth as a base, rinse, chop, and combine any or all of the ingredients above, including the seasonings. Be sure to monitor how much broth you might want to add, if you like a higher liquid to veggie content in your soup.

Cook on low for 3 hours in a slow cooker.

Cook on high for 1-2 hours in a slow cooker.

Simmer on the stove for 4 hours.

Bring to a boil on the stove and then simmer for 2 hours.

About the book

You juggle many roles for a wide range of people. Being a good employee, friend, and sibling are probably high on the priority list. Taking care of yourself, however, often drops off entirely. In my first year as a vegetarian, I realized how interesting food could be both socially and nutritionally.

This is a simple cookbook, designed to help you prepare nourishing food as frequently as you check your email. There are 8 recipes, assembled as a starter kit, allowing you to practice until you perfect. In each recipe you’ll find suggestions to tailor to your own palate by adapting spices, flavors, and ingredients. Every recipe can be made gluten-free or vegan friendly by following the substitution suggestions.

Whether soups, or salads, substance and sweets, you can mix and match across the four categories to put together a meal to delight your taste buds.

From my kitchen to yours, let’s get cooking. A night in never sounded so good.

Find it on Amazon.

About the author

Mohana.Family.July2014-LR-72Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005.  Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

Qatar has been a source of inspiration for Mohana’s latest work, including From Dunes to Dior, is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf. Love Comes Later, her second novel, is a modern day multicultural romance set in Doha and London and was short listed for the New Talent award at the Festival of Romance. She is the creator and co-editor of five books in the Qatar Narratives series, as well as the Qatari Voices anthology which features essays by Qataris on modern life in Doha (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2010).

Her research has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Since she joined the e-book revolution, she dreams in plotlines. Mohana has a PhD from the University of Florida with a focus on gender and postcolonial theory. She was a winner of the She Writes We Love New Novelists competition. Currently she is working on a historical novel set in the East Asian country of Laos in the 1970s. She writes because words can help us understand ourselves and others.

Visit Mohanalakshmi’s BestSelling Reads Author page, and find her at:

Blog   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Google+   |   YouTube

 

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New release! The Opposite of Hate, by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

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Your first look at the newest novel from this Bestselling author and founding member of BestSelling Reads.

OppositeOfHateCoverChapter One

October 1973

Luang Prabang, Laos

The scent of the Mekong River, wet earth and water, permeated the air. Dampness, like a blanket, folded around them, as the final weeks of the monsoon lingered in the air. Purple clouds of dusk populated the sky. The watchers below stretched their necks, hoping to hasten the moment when the moon would hang like a jackfruit over them, impervious to the hustle of human bodies gathered for the Lai Hua Fai festival. Only when the moon appeared could their boats set sail and signal the end of the monks’ three-month retreat, or Buddhist Lent. All along the shore, fathers prepared to light fireboats fashioned from banana stalks and leaves to send across the river while children hopped from one foot to another in anticipation of how far theirs would travel on the glass-like surface of the water. Mothers hung back, nestled on logs and blankets, putting the final touches on spicy papaya salad and sticky rice for when the stomachs of their family members would remind them of the lateness of the hour. The biggest and boldest boats would launch first under the glow of the full moon. Older children were instructed in technique. Elders, grandparents, aunties, and unmarried uncles watched with one eye for those too eager with the match or careless with the wicks, their ears attuned to the latest gossip from friends and relatives. Qui, Sengchanh’s wife, held the boat he had bought from one of the stalls.

The banana stalk boat hung in her loose grip on top of her distended belly. Qui’s hair was knotted into a bun at the nape of her neck. This time next year, they too would have a pudgy-fingered toddler reaching for a boat, a vessel Sengchanh would whittle for this long awaited firstborn. A boy, impatient for full dark and the moment when hundreds of boats would set sail across the Mekong, taking away bad luck and bringing in the good, like all the other boys up and down the shore, their parents catching on to the excitement.

For now, Sengchanh was content at the sight of Qui’s cheeks, flushed from the breeze, the color returning to her skin, hinting at the vigor of the woman she had been before.

“Now can I?” she asked, like one of the dozens of children eyeing the river, for the umpteenth time since they had arrived to the embankment. “Seng?”

He laughed. “No, we have to wait for the moon,” he said. He pointed at the visible edge of the orange-rimmed sinking sun.

They sat down again on bamboo stools near the makeshift eatery, recently established for the occasion. A balding street vendor in a grease-stained apron called out the names of meats as they were grilled. Seng signaled for a cup of rice wine and a young boy with longish hair ran one over to him. He pulled out a few hundred kip for a Green Spot, the Lao soda, for Qui. A few paces away the transaction was monitored by the wide-eyed stares of two children who bore a striking resemblance to each other. There were no adults around them, and from their worn shirts and shoeless feet, Seng wondered if there were any.

 About The Opposite of Hate

During the 1960s and 70s, more bombs were dropped on a landlocked part of Southeast Asia than in any other war — and it wasn’t Vietnam. The turbulent history of the Land of a Thousand Elephants, the Kingdom of Laos, is the backdrop for this family saga, told as a historical novel. THE OPPOSITE OF HATE opens a window onto a forgotten corner of Southeast Asia and brings little known history to life through vivid characters and settings which explore the cultural heritage of Lao history.

THE OPPOSITE OF HATE explores the intersections of family, loyalty, and nationalism as Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is being taken over by Communists. The political instability drives Seng, a widowed engineer, to marry his best friend’s teenage daughter, Neela, so they can escape re-education or even worse, death. The unlikely husband and wife cross the Mekong River into Thailand as strangers.

Life in the refugee camp brings surprises along with the grime. As they struggle for survival, romances blossoms into an unplanned pregnancy. Seng and Neela get their wish of immigrating to the United States. Succeeding in suburbia, however, presents another unique set of challenges, ones that are not black and white.

This is a tale of intermingled violence, love and ambition.

Seng and Neela embody the historic cultural struggle of thousands who fled the threats of communism only to face the challenges of democracy.

About the author

Moha2013Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a South Asian American who has lived in Qatar since 2005. Moving to the Arabian Desert was fortuitous in many ways since this is where she met her husband, had a baby, and made the transition from writing as a hobby to a full time passion.

Her work has been published in Variety Arabia, Brownbook Middle East, Isola Magazine, AudioFile Magazine, and Society Magazine, as well as Explore Qatar, Woman Today, The Woman, Writers and Artists Yearbook, QatarClick, and Qatar Explorer. She has been a guest on Expat Radio, and was the host for two seasons of the Cover to Cover book show on Qatar Foundation Radio. She was the Associate Editor of Vox, a fashion and lifestyle magazine.

In addition to print titles, Mohana has published five e-books including a mom-ior for first time mothers, Mommy But Still Me, a guide for aspiring writers, So You Want to Sell a Million Copies, a short story collection, Coloured and Other Stories, and a novel about women’s friendships, Saving Peace, which was a semi-finalist in the Literary category of the 2012 Kindle Review of Books.

 Visit her:

Share