Book Review: A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth OzekiWhen Ruth picks up a piece of flotsam that has washed up on the beach near her home in British Columbia, little does she know that her life will be changed. For in that package, which at first glance looked liked a jellyfish, is a Hello Kitty lunchbox with a diary, a bunch of old letters in French, and an old watch.

The diary belongs to 16-year old Nao Yasutani, who wants to write the story of her 104-year-old anarchist, feminist Buddhist grandmother. But she ends up writing about her life, the unimaginable ijime (shame) she faces in school, tidbits of Zen wisdom from her grandmother, and the sheer heartbreaking despair of life – both she and her father want nothing more than to commit suicide.

As Ruth is drawn into Nao’s world, she finds herself spending all of her spare time trying to track Nao down. She desperately scrolls through information online to try and find out if Nao or her family feature in the tsunami casualty list; she runs a number of searches to try and corroborate some of the stories from Nao’s diary; and in her quest, she forgets that a decade has passed between the time that Nao wrote the diary and it washed up on the beach near Ruth’s home.Continue reading

Book review: A Serpentine Affair by Tina Seskis

Can I let you in on a secret? I have seen the devil, and I know its name. Come closer, so I can whisper it in your ear.

{ NetGalley }

Really. It is the devil! Because every time you promise to be good, to not get tempted by another book you simply have to read and to hell with all the other books that are piling up alarmingly on your to-read pile, there it is, with a shiny new book that you just cannot resist. And so you succumb, over and over and over again.Continue reading

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: Final Cut by Uday Gupt

I tend to read chick-lit and short stories as “fillers” between two heavy books. Chick-lit because they’re light and generally feel-good stories. They rarely linger with you too long. Short stories, on the other hand, are always a joy to read. A few pages and the story is done. Perfect for times when you’re  feeling kinda restless and not in the frame of mind to read an entire novel. (That happens very rarely around here, but it does happen!) Final Cut by Uday Gupt is a collection of longer than usual short stories.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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Why book editors should NOT be a dying breed

Cover of "Anna Karenina (Barnes & Noble C...

Cover of Anna Karenina (Barnes & Noble Classics)

The best way to learn English used to be to read books. We got some beautiful turns of phrases and excellent English from the classics.

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

A woman after my own heart, there!

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

Words that hold true even to this day, don’t you agree?

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.” ― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

What a beautiful, beautiful thought!Continue reading

Book review: Love is Vodka A Shot Ain’t Enough by Amit Shankar

If love is all about freedom and honest expression then how can one associate it with loyalty?

Love is Vodka_Amit-ShankarThe story starts with 19-year old Moon sitting at an abortion clinic, wondering why she was there and who was responsible. The answer to both questions: LOVE.

And so we join Moon as she ruminates on her 19 long years and all the boys she has loved.

First is Ash, her first love. Five years older than her, he knew exactly what he wanted from life – to own a chain of flower stores across India and to marry Moon. But please, how can the daughter of a leading TV news anchor love a flower seller with a pathetic small time business background? The minute she finds a better option, she forgets all about Ash, but conveniently forgets to tell him he’s been dumped. After all, he’s her first love, he’s been her mentor and someone she really looked up to. And she can’t see him hurt. So the best strategy – ignore him and move on.

Enter Aditya, a cool copywriter at an ad agency where Moon is working as an intern. He’s the only one who doesn’t drool over her or send her a friend request on Facebook the minute he sets eyes on her. So of course she’s intrigued. Continue reading

Book review: Boomtown by Aditya Mukherjee

Boomtown by Aditya MukherjeeYou know what they say about not judging a book by it’s cover? Add another one to it – don’t judge an author by the author blurb. Aditya Mukherjee may be yet another IIM graduate to have penned a novel, but unlike most of them who write about college life in particularly bad English, Boomtown is a breath of fresh air.

JJ, son of a rich businessman, meets Jaaved, the grandson of legendary Old Delhi chef Khan Mian. Jaaved is passionate about cooking, but unlike his grandfather, who refuses to change his family recipes in any way, he enjoys experimenting with new ingredients. Like using a dash of vanilla essence in a traditional meat curry “to give it a bit more balance.” When JJ tastes his food, he has a brainwave – setting up a chain of fusion restaurants spinning new twists on traditional recipes.

He ropes in Roy, his engineering buddy who has just been laid off, and Sheetal, a single mother and manager at a five-star hotel. Boosted by a glorious review from celebrated chef Romesh Ghosh, “the three friends travel from the crumbling Mughlai kitchens of Chandni Chowk to the trendy upmarket eateries of Gurgaon, from the corporate corridors of venture capitalists to the crummy offices of property brokers.”Continue reading

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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