Book Reviews, reading

What day is it? Its Thursday Next!

Are you on the lookout for a series of high-concept books that are very smart, very funny and demand knowledge of the classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights? Fear not, because I present you the great Jasper Fforde!

I discovered the books of Jasper Fforde rather late, only after the third in his famous Thursday Next series. Thursday Next, in case you are wondering, is the name of the central character in his metafictional books. She is a literary detective who wades in and out of books to fix literary problems.

His first novel, The Eyre Affair, offers a rather creative explanation of how the ending of Jane Eyre came to be the way it is today. If you have read Jane Eyre and disliked the way it wraps up, you have only Thursday Next to blame!

In The Well of Lost Plots, there are some amazingly funny scenes depicting Heathcliff and the entire cast of Wuthering Heights undergoing rage counselling as a part of group therapy. You can read more about it here.

His latest novel I read was Shades of Grey, a dystopian novel in which a person’s ability to recognize colour determines their social class.

To glean just a little idea of his writing, check out The Locked Room Mystery Mystery – a hilarious whodunit featuring the death of …The Locked Room Mystery!

Have you read any books of Jasper Fforde? Which is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Reviews, reading

What I’m Reading

Remember when I said I had embarked on a reading spree? That’s dwindled just a little. Since I last wrote in, I’ve finished My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and a couple of other books. I loved the dark humour and the lithe female serial killer, though it seemed to me a little like an abrupt end.

A shorter more truncated list this time, but still containing valuable gems that I would urge you to check out!

One Way to Love (Book 1 of the Jasmine Villa series) by Andaleeb Wajid

Andaleeb Wajid has deservedly earned the title of ‘The prolific author you may not have heard of’! She writes easy-to-read books featuring Indian women, primarily romances but she’s dabbled successfully in horror too! This is the first of her books I’ve read, and I loved it! Its simple but absorbing, an enchanting realistic tale of love-cum-arranged marriage.

Arrivals and Departures by Vrinda Baliga

This is the author’s second collection after Name, Place, Animal, Thing. Any short story by Vrinda Baliga is guaranteed to delight, and collection doubly so. The relationships depicted in her stories, the elegant turns of phrase, and the varied settings – what’s not to love?

Less by Andrew Greer

I’m late to the party for this book. I know it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018, but I had bought it and let it languish. Criminal, I know. I’m only about a quarter of the way through and I can tell you to go read it immediately if you haven’t done so already!

What are you reading now? Any book you would like to recommend?

Book Reviews, reading

A Series so Fowl

Many years ago, after I’d consumed the entire Potter series and embarked on the hunt for another series to fill my world, I came across a golden-covered shiny book designed to attract the eyes of passersby. I opened it, and, as I am wont to do in the middle of a crowded bookstore, started reading.

Here’s the first page:

Ho Chi Minh City in the summer. Sweltering by anyone’s standards. Needless to say, Artemis Fowl would not have been willing to put up with such discomfort if something extremely important had not been at stake. Important to the plan.

Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of day. “I hope this isn’t another wild-goose chase, Butler,” he said, his voice soft and clipped. “Especially after Cairo.”

It was a gentle rebuke. They had traveled to Egypt on the word of Butler’s informant.

“No, sir. I’m certain this time. Nguyen is a good man.”

“Hmm,” droned Artemis, unconvinced.

Passersby would have been amazed to hear the large Eurasian man refer to the boy as sir. This was, after all, the third millennium. But this was no ordinary relationship, and these were no ordinary tourists.

They were sitting outside a curbside cafe on Dong Khai Street, watching the local teenagers circle the square on mopeds.

Nguyen was late, and the pathetic patch of shade provided by the umbrella was doing little to improve Artemis’s mood. But this was just his daily pessimism. Beneath the sulk was a spark of hope. Could this trip actually yield results? Would they find the Book? It was too much to hope for.

A waiter scurried to their table.

“More tea, sirs?” he asked, head bobbing furiously.

Artemis sighed. “Spare me the theatrics, and sit down.”

The waiter turned instinctively to Butler, who was after all, the adult.

“But, sir, I am the waiter.”

Artemis tapped the table for attention.

“You are wearing handmade loafers, a silk shirt, and three gold signet rings. Your English has a tinge of Oxford about it, and your nails have the soft sheen of the recently manicured. You are not a waiter. You are our contact Nguyen Xuan, and you have adopted this pathetic disguise to discreetly check for weaponry.”

Nguyen’s shoulders sagged. “It is true. Amazing.”

How could I resist? I swooped it up.

The movie version will be out in 2020 so stock up on this and read it before the film releases! Take a sneak peak at the movie trailer here.

If you read one and can’t get enough and you’re looking for more, I have great news for you – Eoin Colfer has a new book out featuring characters of the same family! The Fowl Twins is set for release later this year.

You can bet I’ll be reading the new book as well as rushing to the cinemas when the movie comes out. I sincerely hope the movie retains the humour of the books.

Eoin Colfer is quite prolific and has penned other books as well. The one I’m most fond of is The Half-Moon Investigations.

Have you read Artemis Fowl? Or any of Eoin Colfer’s books? Which is your favourite? Any other YA or MG series you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

You Beneath Your Skin
Book Reviews

You Beneath Your Skin

You Beneath Your Skin Cover reveal

Today it is my privilege to reveal the cover for Damyanti Biswas‘s debut crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin to be published this September by Simon & Schuster, India. I’ve known Damyanti since so long I can’t even remember. Though we’ve never met in person I feel like I know her as well as my in-person friends!

So, without further ado, here’s the cover! The red and black suggests blood, murder, intrigue and suspense – all the key ingredients of an awesome crime story. The shadowy face beneath the title provokes curiosity. It makes you wonder who she is, and what her story might be.

You Beneath Your Skin

Lies. Ambition. Family.

It’s a dark, smog-choked New Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious Police Commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all.

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.


Check out this book if you like pacy reads that also engage with various social issues.

Pre-order YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN here.

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You Beneath Your Skin Back Cover

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You beneath Your Skin Damyanti
The Author Damyanti Biswas

Do you read crime novels? What do you think of the cover of You Beneath Your Skin? Would you like to read You Beneath Your Skin, and make a pre-order?


For You Beneath Your Skin, all proceeds to the author would be divided between Chhanv Foundation and Project WHY.

To support the organisations, pre-order HERE.

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Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter.

Book Reviews, reading

Science Fiction in India

I joined a readers group on Facebook last year. It’s a very active group that has a vast number of well-read and articulate readers. A recent post on this group lamenting the lack of good science fiction in India inspired this post today. Allow me to present the science fiction books I have read that have come out of India:

  1. Satyajit Ray’s Professor Shonku series
  2. Anil Menon’s The Beast with Nine Billion Feet
  3. Samit Basu’s Turbulence
  4. Vandana Singh’s books

There are a few literary journals too that publish SF with an Indian or Asian influence.

  1. Indian SF

Sadly this site has gone defunct but the quality of stories published was quite high and the archives are worth browsing through.

This is an international science fiction and fantasy magazine that often features stories with an Asian influence.

Papercuts by Desi Writers’ Lounge is not focused primarily on science fiction/fantasy

Published by the renowned Kitaab Publishers, and featuring a story by (ahem!) yours truly!

Science fiction and fantasy is picking up in India in a big way. Here are a couple of links I found interesting:

The unbelievable meteoric rise of Indian SFF

3 Indian works of Science Fiction

Have you read Indian science fiction? Please do recommend some of your favourite stories/books in that genre! �0

Book Reviews, Writing

Starting with Goodbye

If you write creative nonfiction, you must head over to Lisa Romeo’s corner of the web right now. I’m pleased to share that her memoir Starting with Goodbye was launched on 1st May! 

Lisa-Romeo-fuller-2015

Lisa works as an editor, teacher, and freelance book manuscript editor. Her work is listed in Best American Essays 2016, and she has been nominated for additional BAE and Pushcart Prize awards. She also serves as an editor for two literary journals.  

I enlisted her help with my creative nonfiction and I highly recommend it. If you ever feel stuck and need guidance, sign up for her services! 

You can order her book here, and watch a beautiful book trailer here!

 

Book Reviews

What I’m Reading

Every so often, I list out the books I’ve managed to eke out precious time to read. The time constraints imposed by a day job and a baby means I have less time to read than ever before, so my annual totals are nothing to write home about. I have dipped from an average of 3 books a week to perhaps 1 or 2 a month.

Despite that, however, I recently read and enjoyed five rather popular and well-reviewed novels.

 

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

I recently joined a readers group on Facebook that has fuelled my reading like nothing else has before! This one was recommended by one of the members there who had posted the link to it as it is available online. This is an amazing science-fiction novella, though the title might scare away potential readers who might mistakenly believe it is a software engineering textbook. The story revolves around “digients” – digital pets who are trained to grow and gain intelligence, and how their human owners strive to maintain them.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Here’s a book that I wanted to read before watching the movie. I had read so much about it but finally I caved in and read it. A young girl called May joins a Google-type company, and while initially she’s lost at sea, she eventually gets sucked into its vortex. Reviews online have criticized it for adding nothing new to the conversation about tech companies like Google becoming an overarching monopoly, which I agree, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless and totally recommend it.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The TV show is making waves on Hulu but I haven’t started on it yet. This is another one that I wanted to read first before watching the show, and I’m glad I did. It’s dark, foreboding, but page-turning, more quiet and literary than a thrilling adventure. For some reason it brought to my mind Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, though they have nothing in common apart from both being dystopian novels. Read it at leisure, and wait for the drama to slowly unfold.

 

Carrie by Stephen King

I have to shamefully admit here that I have NEVER read a Stephen King book other than On Writing because he writes primarily horror! I am very squeamish and even violent or gory thrillers give me sleepless nights. But I caught the movie version of Carrie and generally knew the story, enough to know that it was well-within my tolerance limits. So this became the first Stephen King novel I have read. And I, of course, loved it. I am glad to have read it and will be seeking out more of the same, non-gory stuff that he’s written. This one is not gory (in my opinion, YMMY), and recommended for all who are on the fence like me about Stephen King.

 

 

Unbroken by Nadhika Nambi

I came across this on my Juggernaut app and simply started reading without any context or background, knowing only that it was YA. A few pages in, it dawned on me that the protagonist Akriti is in a wheelchair, which is probably what fuels her acerbic chain of thoughts.

I have to say – it was an engrossing read. The author writes sensitively from the POV of the teenager, who is suffering twice the regular teen angst thanks to her situation. My only gripe with this book is that the character of the brother is a bit of a Mary Sue – almost too good to be true, but nevertheless, this is a great read for young and old alike!

 

Note: All links above are Amazon affiliate links.

 

Have you read any good books lately?