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?

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.

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?

reading

What I’ve Been Reading #WorldBooksDay

On the fabulous occasion of World Book Day I thought I’d share the names of the books I’m reading which is coincidentally the post I was working on next anyway!

I usually read 2 or 3 books at a time, two on Kindle and one print book. Usually I go for a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I try not to read fiction in the same genre that I’m writing, but anything by the master is always welcome.

The Fisher Queen’s Dynasty by Kavita Kane

I recently finished reading this book, my first by this author. Though I knew a lot of the story beforehand I enjoyed reading it and I plan to add more books of hers to my ever-burgeoning TBR pile.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Several readers in the readers group I’m a part of recommend this book. I picked it up and though I’m only a quarter of the way through, so far I find it a fascinating look at how our species came about.

The Four-hour Workweek by Tim Ferris

I had been curious about this one for some time and finally ordered the print version. I am not a great fan of self-help books in my adulthood, having consumed tons of them during adolescence. I’ve made good progress on this one and I’m halfway through now. It has thrown up some good ideas which I intend to try out in the near future.

Men without Women by Haruki Murukami

I needed a break from all the nonfiction I was reading so I chose this and of course I don’t regret it. His stories are inexplicably simple and well-written and thought-provoking at the same time.

What have you been reading lately?

Image by Gellinger on Pixabay

reading

Marie Kondo and the 30-Book Challenge

The internet has been abuzz with Marie Kondo and her Tidying up, and especially the part most relevant to writers and book lovers all over the world has them in a tizzy.

Her philosophy of ‘spark joy’, i.e. pick up an item (in our case we will consider a book) and if it doesn’t spark joy, then dispose of it.

The suggestion to throw away books that we will cherish forever even if they don’t tantalize us in the moment is what caused the controversy. Twitter, the blogosphere and a number of thinkpieces have erupted on it, essentially outraged at the seemingly sensible advice.

She clarified later that you don’t really need to toss your books, you can also donate the ones you don’t want to keep anymore.

Over on Writers Digest, Robert Lee Brewer has issued the “30-book challenge” in response to Marie Kondo’s tidying up advice.

I already declutter as much as possible and have, several times a month, stood facing my bookshelf with a critical eye, trying but failing to home in on titles I don’t mind disposing. I don’t ever throw away my books – I don’t know any reader who would do that – but I donate them to the library near my house who always accept the bounty gratefully.

Even if I tried to keep only 30 books and give away the rest, I don’t know how I would go about it.

Here’s just a tiny snippet of the books that sit on my shelf:

Harry Potter – 7 books

Artemis Fowl – 7

Agatha Christie – 14

Georgette Heyer – 12

Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series – 9 books

Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street Series – 9 books

Alexander McCall Smith’s Corduroy Mansions Series – 3 books

Jasper Fforde – 3 books

As you can see, that totals to way more than 30 (64 if you’re counting), and this is apart from the all standalone books I’ve acquired, and the nonfiction titles I cherish like Houdini’s biography, Eat Pray Love, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and even Capote for that matter. This also doesn’t take into account the 100-odd books lying on my Kindle, some read, some (ahem!) unread.

So, 30 books? Make that 300 and I’d still be wringing my hands about how many you’re making me throw away. Make it 3000 and then maybe I could consider the matter.

What’s your take on Marie Kondo’s “30 books” advice?

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!

 

My Writing

My story up on Juggernaut

I recently posted about my story The Demons of November up on Juggernaut. It has garnered good ratings so far.

Here’s the opener:

The Demons of November

The rooftop of our tenements affords us a direct view to Bansilal’s farmhouse just opposite. The ugly purple curtains framing his picture windows are drawn apart in that artistic style as if he’s hosting a play in his living room. Soni trains the binoculars at the window – the bania is entertaining guests. His maid must have served them exactly two biscuits and a cup of tea. He wouldn’t part with any more than that from his pantry.

Soni demands to know – is he really chatting with friends, or executing one of his “transactions”?

We each take a turn with the binoculars, but none of us can spot cash changing hands. It might be a personal visit, but with Bansilal one never knows.

The new government had marched in one day armed with bulldozers and razed the slums, leaving us homeless. They promised us new tenements, but no timeline. Shakti Uncle witnessed our plight, and eased his conscience by handing us the keys to his flat before he headed for the Gulf for a company posting. Then the water turned bad and Pinki fell ill with amoebic dysentery, and we had to hustle to buy her medicines. A week to the day of her recovery, Jivan Uncle tumbled down the stairs and fractured his leg in a freak accident.

The tenements came much later.

We light up a cigarette and pass it around. This is taking more time than we’d planned for.

The guests leave. Minutes pass, then the maid opens the door. A man enters and slumps down on the divan facing Bansilal. His bald pate shines under the chandelier lights in the bania’s house. He runs a hand over his head.

Jivan Uncle stubs out the cigarette and touches my shoulder. “That’s our cue, Amar. Let’s go.”

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Security guards fall in two categories – the ones you can pull aside and slip a little more cash than they’re used to, and the other burly kind who’re gunning for a fight. The latter can knock down most opponents with a glare of their bloodshot eyes and a punch with a well-rounded fist. Bansilal’s guards hold steadfastly loyal to him – I don’t understand why – but it means Soni and I need to use our hands and knees. It doesn’t faze us. We dispatch them easily.

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If you liked what you read and want to know what happens next, click through to the Juggernaut site/app and grab the rest of it! It’s free for your reading pleasure! Please do leave an honest review and rating and let me know what you thought of it!