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!

reading

Chipping away at the TBR Pile

I’m on something of a reading spree these days, having finished 4+books in the last 6 weeks. Granted, two of them are nonfiction books on writing, but that’s how I read anyway. Consuming some writing advice always inspires me to write more and to just keep writing.

The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright

A funny, heartwarming, female-oriented book centered around three mom-bloggers and the fierce competition between them. I read this pretty quickly and enjoyed it a lot, but I had to overlook the unlikely coincidence that all three women are related in some way or the other (this is not a spoiler – its revealed pretty early in the book).

Unladylike: A Memoir by Radhika Vaz

I read this book almost in one sitting! I found it quite a quick and easy read, and extremely funny! The most hilarious parts dwelled on her childhood and growing up in different places. I’d have liked to read more about her journey into comedy but that is somewhat glossed upon towards the end. Overall a great read!

Show Don’t tell by Sandra Gerth

A handy guide for writers that illustrates the old adage of ‘Show Don’t Tell’ using examples to show both how to do it and how not to do it. I know most of this stuff already, but seeing it laid out specifically to show both how to do it and how not to do it.

Releasing the Words: Writers on Writing by Various Authors

I am mainly browsing through this book so I can dip into the nuggets of advice it contains, on a variety of topics pertinent to writers, from conquering the inner critic to battling writer’s block.

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I’m reading this now, and it totally deserves all the accolades it’s got so far! I’d never imagined that a novel featuring serial killers could be so darkly comic! If you haven’t read this yet, please do so now!

Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale

My second current read, a complete contrast from the other one, features all the drama that happens in an apartment building in Mumbai. Its familiar and interesting and another book deserving of all the accolades coming its way.

I’m really enjoying my reading these days, and I’m so glad I’ve fallen back into the reading habit with such ease. The rush of reading and finishing a good book is unparalleled.

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

reading, Writing

Writing Resources Roundup

It’s been a while since I did a roundup of useful and exciting writing-related articles on the web. Here’s the latest I’ve been reading:

Ten Writing Resolutions

If you’ve ever followed any kind of resolutions for writing, check this post. It offers a completely different set of resolutions, not the usual goal-setting kind.

How to Outline a Novel

The brilliant Roz Morris has a new post on Ingram Spark that details the various ways one could outline a novel. I am very much a plotter for long fiction, though I move into pantser mode for short stories. This article gave me a few good ideas on how I’d plot my next novel (even if the previous one lies unsold :D)

15 Exercises to Strengthen your writing

Searching for prompts to practice your writing and beef up some of those writing muscles? Look no further than this article from Writer’s Relief.

The Anti-Procrastination App from Hell

Ever yearned to watch your words evaporate in a wisp of virtual smoke? Then try the world’s most dangerous writing app! It will delete everything you write if you stop typing for five minutes. Frankly, I’d prefer that option, because under that kind of pressure anything I wrote would be super-crappy.

Why and Where You Should Start Submitting Your Writing This September

Once you’ve made your resolutions, tackled the prompts, outlined your story and overcome the dangerous writing app, you might have a finished story that you would want to start sending out to suitable venues. Check out this post to read a helpful guide to submitting, and it also includes links to markets. And while you’re there, subscribe to Authors Publish! It’s one of the best resources for writers filled with links to literary journals and publishers accepting submissions.

And bonus exciting news – Margaret Atwood’s book The Testaments is out! This is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, a book that terrified me but was a brilliant read.

Do you have any exciting writing-related links or news to share? Drop it in the comments below!

reading

The Grand Georgette

If you’ve been reading books for any respectable length of time, you would have encountered the works of Georgette Heyer, even if for some reason you haven’t read them. (Why haven’t you, by the way!)

Georgette Heyer is the final word in Regency Romance, though she did write detective novels as well that were equally funny and brilliant. She wrote her first book while in her teens, and churns out the wittiest dialogues in her novels.

Her books are often thick and published in tiny print, but I have read them all to ragged shreds and would never part with them.

My favourite books of hers include:

The Unknown Ajax

This is not the most popular choice even for those die-hard fans of Georgette. Most of her books feature lavish balls in London and plenty of shopping, but this has none of that and instead focuses on intrigue and mystery.

Cotillion

The rare book in which (spoiler alert!) the heroine unites not with the handsome devilish rake but the well-mannered and stylish hero. Freddie and Kitty are one of my favourite couples from all Georgette Heyer books.

Venetia

An unusual one in which the heroine does fall in love with the rake but is the rake as rakish as he appears? I didn’t mean to turn that into a tongue-twister but that’s essentially the plot.

Frederica

Another unusual one in which the heroine is not the prettiest girl, her younger sister is.

The Devil’s Cub

This one is more of a conventional romance with a rakish hero who, we hope, will mend his ways by the good influence of the feisty heroine.

Georgette Heyer remains one of my favourite authors whose books form my set of comfort reads. Whenever I want to read something funny and literary but I don’t want to tax the brain with the intricacies of a brand-new plot I reach out for my good old stack of Georgette Heyers and they never fail to disappoint.

Check out this website dedicated to her and her books.

Have you read Georgette Heyer? Which of her books do you love most? Or is there any other author who’s your favourite?

reading

What I’ve been Reading

Every so often I compile a list of my latest reads, inspired mostly by Nina Badzin who maintains an enviable collection of books she’s finished reading.

Here’s the latest on my pile:

Name, Place, Animal, Thing by Vrinda Baliga

This is a beautiful collection of extremely well-written short stories by my friend Vrinda Baliga. Each story throws up little gems that the reader can savour. The title story could almost be a novella with the multiple aspects and sub-plots within. Though I loved Bonsai and Preparing for Life in a Dead Man’s Home and many others, my favourite remains Stranger Anxiety. The different POV but simplicity of the story and the subject held me riveted, and when it ended, I felt just a little sad, both for the protagonist and for myself.

A great collection, highly recommended. Read it and enjoy.

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’ve read this before but long ago, enough that I can partake of the beauty in the writing and the storyline. If I remember correctly, I’ve even seen the movie version starring the brilliant Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as well.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I’ve just started on this number one bestseller, and it’s a fabulous literary read so far.

The Productivity Project: Proven Ways to Become More Awesome by Chris Bailey

I try to mix at least some nonfiction into all the fiction reading I do, and this came recommended from multiple sources. I’m halfway through and finding it useful if not groundbreaking.

All this reading has helped me reduce my ever-burgeoning TBR pile just a little, but not much! I’m eager to read more of the books I’ve purchased recently.

What have you been reading lately? Any particular book you would like to recommend?