#MicroBlog Mondays: The first Gurgaon BYOB meet-up

The first Gurgaon BYOB (where the last B stands for books, not booze) meet-up took place yesterday at The Wishing Chair’s adorable Mad Teapot cafe. It was quite a turn out, and I was blown away by the variety of books and authors that people brought along to the discussion. Ranging from Murakami and Rushdie, to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, to an Indian author from Nagaland and an Iranian graphic novelist (yes, the Iranian graphic novelist), to a pilot and a sports writer – the discussion was engaging, illuminating, and passionate. The best thing was the absence of Chetan Bhagat and his ilk – although there was quite a heated debate on bad writing and there being no such thing as bad writing. It was a stimulating meet-up, and I came away with a couple of more books added to my TBR list. Here’s to more BYOB events in Gurgaon; may the tribe of readers grow!

Linking up with MicroBlog Mondays.

Book review: Seahorse by Janice Pariat

Seahorse is the story of Nem, a student of English literature at Delhi University. He drifts between classes, attends off-campus parties with free-flowing drinks and weed, and writes articles for the college magazine. Until one day he crosses paths with an art historian - an encounter that changes the course of his life, steering him into a world of pleasure and artistic discovery. And then one day, without warning, his mentor disappears.

In the years that follow, Nem settles down in South Delhi, earning a name for himself as an art critic. When he is awarded a fellowship to London, a cryptic note plunges him into a search for the art historian - a search that forces him to revisit the past and separate fact from fiction.

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Guest post: KB Hoyles interviews Gateway Chronicle fans

This is a guest post by KB Hoyle, author of The Gateway Chronicles. Enjoy!

Because sometimes it’s more fun to hear from the readers than the author, I interviewed several of my teenage readers this week the day after the release of book 5, The Scroll. Blaine and Jennifer are ninth-grade girls, Keisha is an eleventh-grade girl, and Terra, who came into the room just as I was asking the last question, is in twelfth grade. With the exception of Keisha, these are all girls who have been readers of The Gateway Chronicles since I first self-published them, before I was signed by TWCS Publishing House. They are also current creative writing students of mine, so they really have the inside track!Continue reading

Book review: Bellman & Black by Dianne Setterfield

Bellman & Black - Dianne SettOn a day like any other, young William Bellman boasts that he can hit a rook sitting on a branch a great distance away. His friends aren’t so sure that he can. Determined to prove them wrong, William loosens a stone from his catapult. It finds it mark. The young rook resting on the branch is killed instantly. Though William feels sad at the time, the event is soon forgotten.

The rook is comfortable pretty much anywhere. He goes where he pleases and, when he pleases, he comes back. Laughing…There are numerous collective nouns for rooks. In some parts people say a parliament of rooks.

Life goes on. William grows up into a fine young man. He leads a charmed life – he has a job he loves at his uncle’s mill, a wife and children he adores, his business is thriving and everything he touches turns to gold. But slowly, people around him start to die. And at each funeral he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling nonchalantly at him. Soon, death comes closer to home, claiming his wife and most of his children. Driven to despair, unhinged by grief, William is determined to end his own misery.

Now some great hand had peeled back the kind surface of that fairy-tale world and shown him the chasm beneath his feet.

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Book review: Two Brothers by Ben Elton

Two Brothers by Ben EltonBerlin, 1920. Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood. As Germany marches towards its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice…which one of them will survive?

The novel follows the Stengel family – Frieda, a community doctor, and Wolfgang, a Jazz musician, and their sons Otto and Paulus. The young couple works hard to make ends meet. But in 1920s Germany, when the country was reeling under the aftermath of the Great War, things aren’t always easy. Wolfgang gets lucky, though, when he meets Kurt, “Germany’s new kindergarten entrepreneurs, crazy alcohol- and drug-fuelled chancers” who loves jazz music and gives him a well-paying job at a nightclub. But once the crazy inflation is brought under control, Wolfgang finds himself, once again, unemployed. At Frieda’s insistence, he places an ad in the paper offering to teach music. And then enters Dagmar Fischer – the heiress to the Fischer fortune. And both Otto and Paulus fall head-over-heels in love with her – a love that lasts a lifetime and changes the course of their life.Continue reading

Book Review: Sophie Says by Judy Balan

Sophie_Says_Judy_BalanEver since I read Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number, I’ve developed a new-found love for “chick lit”. I thought it was all sugary sweet teeny-bopper love stories, and I really have outgrown those. But it isn’t! It’s romance all right, but pretty darn believable, told from a woman’s perspective with issues that modern women can totally relate to. But I’m still skeptical about Indian chick-lit, largely because I’m skeptical about most Indian authors. So when I got an opportunity to review Judy Balan’s Sophie Says, I took it – mainly because the story sounded interesting.

Sophia Tilgum has dated all kinds of men in thirty years. Men who’ve stalked and pleaded, men who’ve lied and cheated, men who’ve written songs and wanted to play house after three dates. And equally scary, men who’ve sported hot-pink bow ties and called her Sweet Cheeks.

So after a decade-long attempt at sustaining long-term relationships, Sophie has finally thrown in the towel and has found her calling as The Breakup Coach via her super-popular blog: Sophie Says – in which she makes a case for Single-Singles or people who are wired to remain single (because according to Sophie, commitment phobia is not a real thing) and shares her many theories on breakups.

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Two books to look out for this April

One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

One Step Too Far - Tina SeskisFrom the back cover:

Is running away ever the answer?
An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start all over again? Has she had a breakdown? Was it to escape her dysfunctional family – especially her flawed twin sister Caroline who always seemed to hate her? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?

This was an excellent, compelling read. What would force you to plan your escape from your life – from your husband…your soulmate…and your lovely boy Charlie? What would make you put a stone on your heart every time you think about them in your new life? And how would you cope with the pain, the loss, the deception? In this searingly beautiful novel, with twists you’d never see coming, Seskis sets a crackling pace, with characters you’ll love and others you’ll hate. Kirkus Reviews calls itContinue reading

Book review: Alexandriad trilogy by Mary Renault

“Rarely does a single novelist cast such a shadow over an entire topic in a genre of fiction. If one asks for a list of mainstream historical novels on Alexander the Great, or even on ancient Greece, the reply is usually some variation on, “You have read Mary Renault, haven’t you?” – Dr. Jeanne Reames, Professor of History, University of Nebraska

And possibly with good reason. Her Alexandriad trilogy is a comprehensive tale of the life and legacy of Alexander the great.

The first book, Fire from Heaven, traces Alexander’s early life, from childhood until the assassination of his father King Philip, which leaves Alexander poised to ascend the throne.Continue reading

Book review: The Other Side of the Table by Madhumita Mukherjee

Circa 1990.
A world drawn and woven with words.
A bond punctuated by absence and distance…
Two continents. Two cities. Two people.
And letters. Hundreds of them.
Over years. Across oceans. Between hearts.

The other side of the table by madhumita mukherjeeI was delighted, and a little apprehensive, when I read the back cover. Delighted because three of my favorite books are epistolary works – May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude; Helene Hanff’s 84, Charring Cross Road; and Mary Ann Shaffer’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Apprehensive because I am generally wary of Indian authors, even though there are some excellent novels out there – Indu Suderasan’s brilliant Taj trilogy comes immediately to mind. But then, there are also disasters, like I, Rama or How About A Sin Tonight. And telling a story through letters isn’t the easiest thing to do.

The Other Side of the Table tells the story of Abhi, who is training to become a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who has just entered medical college in Calcutta. They write to one another about medicine and life, love and friends, about travels and family, and things that are close to their hearts and about nothing at all. Each letter reveals a tantalizing glimpse into their lives.Continue reading

Z by Therese Anne Fowler: First chapter, first paragraph – Tuesday Intros

20130223-201539.jpg I’m currently reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. It’s a beautifully written book so far, as you can see from this excerpt from the first page.

Montgomery, Alabama
December 20, 1940

Dear Scott,

The Love of the Last Tycoon is a great title for your novel. What does Max say? I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ll brave an airplane ride and come to see you for New Year’s. Wire me the money, if you can. Won’t we be quite the pair?—you with your bad heart, me with my bad head. Together, though, we might have something worthwhile. I’ll bring you some of those cheese biscuits you always loved, and you can read me what you’ve written so far. I know it’s going to be a wonderful novel, Scott, your best one yet.

This is short so I can send it before the post office closes today.

Write me soon.


If I could fit myself into this mail slot, here, I’d follow my letter all the way to Hollywood, all the way to Scott, right up to the door of our next future. We have always had a next one, after all, and there’s no good reason we shouldn’t start this one now. If only people could travel as easily as words. Wouldn’t that be something? If only we could be so easily revised.

Beautiful, don’t you think? Would this be a book you’d like to read?

Note: Quotes taken from an ARC – finished copy may be different.

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