Monday, 30 January 2017

Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty

A story about relationships or rather the truth of it.

I have always maintained that the onscreen version of a book pales in comparison to its written version. Not in this case.

I heard about Apple Tree Yard when I watched a trailer on the BBC. It sounded great, looked intriguing and I was looking forward to it. After watching the first episode, I couldn't wait for the next one. I headed straight to my local library and got out a copy.

Funnily enough, the beginning was slow, the style was a bit strange and the pace very lethargic. I did not enjoy the first chapter at all. The only thing that kept me going was that I had watched the first episode and could tell therefore where the story was heading.


Yvonne Carmichael is a high flying geneticist. She is a middle aged woman with grown up children, enjoying all the hard work that she put in during her children's growing up years.

However, a chance encounter turns into a clandestine affair and then a compulsive habit. And then something happens that transports Yvonne at the Old Bailey court forcing her to defend herself and all that she lived for. Does manage to get off scott free or does she pay for the choices she made?

What works:
  • The language. There is something very compelling about the way she uses words to build a sequence of events and the narrative. 
  • The lead character is believable. It is easy to identify with her. Funny, how you would look at her as accomplished and successful whereas from the other side, it looks all tilted. I read a couple of reviews where the protagnist was berated for her choices. I can imagine that having an affair and expecting it to be something more may be delusional but then what happens to her is definitely not her fault. (I am trying hard not to give the story away!) The rationale behind the character's actions seem to be justified in the story and I could feel sympathetic for her by the end of it. The fact that the character's psyche was so accessible to the reader made me like the story and that is where the story gets another star for it. 
  • The sequence. It is not linear and keeps shifting back and forth until the past catches up with the present. The scene opens in a court and then backtracks to what happened to before then. It is very well done.
  • The suspense is well kept, making you turn that page, one more time.
  • I am a hardcore fan of courtroom dramas and love the dynamics of how words are twisted and prodded to suit a version. It is a gameplay that keeps me hooked and this book did complete justice to it.
  • I also loved the way the central character takes control of the narrative. How we women never take things at face value and tend to read much into it. Our tendency to analyse and overanalyse things can be often our unravelling. Doughty captures the psyche of Yvonne very well. 
  • Her justifications for her actions are a bit unbelievable. However, Doughty makes it believable. How a careless act can then spiral out of control and complicate things. 
What doesn't:
  • I don't think I would have read it, had not been for that compelling first episode. The very writing that bowled me over later, did not initially pull me into the story. 
  • The initial chapters take some patience. The story moves slowly and at times the writing is so subtle, devoid of any emotion.  I suppose that tone of clinical detachment  is what makes the pace hard but it does create an impact. 
I have been reading many reviews where people have either loved or hated it completely. My favourite is where it says-  "Relationships are about stories, not truth." - what we tell ourselves rather than perceiving it for what  it is. Very true. Loved it.  

Friday, 27 January 2017

Churning the Wheels of Time

This post was written for Friday Fictioneers, a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wissoff Fields. 
The writers have to write a 100 word story in response to the photo prompt provided.


Although inevitable, it was still shocking. Watching them strip down the proud mansion was like surgically removing a nostalgic memory.

The vintage cars were the first to go. As the metal machines were wheeled out, they took away with them, the glamour of those grand evenings.

Soon a battle of wills competed over the house and its fate: a stubborn, dwindling past versus a shiny and sniggering tomorrow.

Then the winds of change blew in, heralding a confident yet unpredictable future, snuffing out the archaic at last.

Little did they realise, that today’s future will soon be tomorrow’s past.

Let The Dead Speak - Jane Casey

 Great story. Superb characters.

Disclaimer: I received this book as a part of goodreads giveaway in return for an honest review. 

I love psychological thrillers. Having read so many, I realise it is difficult to come up with a distinct detective duo when there are so many of them in crime fiction. I had never heard of Jane Casey before and it surprised me to discover she had written so many in the Kerrigan series. I loved Kerrigan and the way she and Derwent are such different personas and yet they work great together when it comes to solving cases. 

I read somewhere, Casey's husband is a criminal barrister. So that explains how she get the police aspect of the story so well. It was a joy to read the inner workings of the police system. Reminded me of the TV programme "No offence". Although the only similarity between the two is its focus on inner workings of the police system, it makes you appreciate the constraints under which these police officers operate.


Chloe, an 18 year old girl returns home unexpectedly to find herself in a blood stained home and no sign of her mum.

Kerrigan arrives with her new rookie partner Georgia Shaw to investigate. Derwent joins in soon after and you realise these guys have a history. Kerrigan takes on the neighbours as she pieces together what happened and finds out some unsavoury secrets.

What works:
  • The plot. It is interesting and hooks you at the outset.
  • The characters. A bit confusing at first because there is a lot of them. However, the personas become clear as Kerrigan sifts through them to find out the truth.
  • The insight into how thw working of a police team is great. I loved the conversation between Kerrigan and Georgia about the importance of being a team player.
  • I loved the personas of the characters who solve the case. The two characters are intriguing and their partnership a distinct feature.
  • The writing. Even after who" is revealed, the "why" bit keeps you going. It requires a certain amount of skill to handle this and Casey is good at it. The underlying psychological aspects work so well to explain the motive.
  • I loved Maeve Kerrigan as a character: the not so perfect persona who is a great detective. 
  • Also loved the equation between Kerrigan and Derwent. It is an interesting relationship and I am curious to know how they first got together. 
What doesn't:
  • The reference to past makes you feel a bit lost especially if you haven't read the previous book. 
Overall a great book. It was great to find a thriller with such great characters and such a compelling story. Guess, I have goodreads to thank for it.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Naughtiest Girl Collection - Enid Blyton

A great read that I enjoyed again as a mother!

I bought this book when Cheeky was  a year old. As a bookworm, I was keen to pass on my love for reading to my daughter.

So after she turned six and became a fairly goaod reader, I introduced her to Enid Blyton. Naughties Girl Again, was her first book ever. We decided that I will read it to her as a bedtime story. As the story progressed, I could see Cheeky was first intrigued and then hooked on it.

The collection has three stories and we read them all back to back.


The story begins when Elizabeth Allen grows to love the school she first hated. She is looking forwards to coming to Whyteleaf boarding school. But this girl has a tendency to get into trouble even when she resolves not to. Will she stay away or find herself in a muddle again?

What works: 
  • It helped that the story is set in a British setting. Cheeky being a school girl herself could identify the school setting and dealing with naughty pupils.
  • There is something endearing about the school series. It allows children to imagine them easily and enjoy them.
  • She loved the whole boarding school setup with the school meeting and everything.
  • The stories are very simple. There is a school and there are good children and bad children. Cheeky could relate to the friends sticking together and punishment for naughtiness bit.
  • The stories have a "moral science" element to it. Blyton can be very preachy at times, rewarding good behaviour and condemning bad. But atleast at this age, the kids accept it without questioning it too much. 
What doesn't:
  • The language is a bit archaic. Cheeky found it funny to see words like "jolly well" . Although, terribly British, such words are not common, certainly not something she uses.
  • However, I realised that as a mature reader, I loved revisiting the story too. It was fun going through my earliest reading favourites and recall why I loved Blyton as a kid. 
Next mission: To introduce the St Clares/Malory Towers books to my daughter.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Writing Down the Bones - Natalie Goldberg

A fantastic read for those into creative writing.


I got this book when I was just about to start a writing course. As a journalist, academic writer, copywriter, I had dabbled in different forms of writing and found that creative writing is a different ballgame altogether. I had just started this Becoming a Writer Course and was required to read Dorothea Brande. The course allowed me to meet myself as a writer and demanded us to develop skills to become one.

When it comes to good books on writing, Natalie Goldberg and Brande are talked about in the same breadth. So while buying Brande, I procured a copy of Goldberg as well and found practical ideas that got me to open my notebook and start scribbling. 

It is said that nothing will teach you writing better than getting down to writing. But I have found, that dipping into this book now and again, has given me insight and many answers to queries about writing per se. 


Goldberg analyses the craft and the whole mindset of writing - how to write and what to write. In short succinct chapters, Goldberg de constructs the myth of writing and talks us through the process with her no nonsense approach.

What works:
  • If you are a writer who has dabbled in creative writing and worked towards constructing a story, then this book is great. It is great, inspirational and the book really talks to you.
  • It also addresses various issues like where to write and when to write.
  • It allows you to forget the world, inhibitions and get your thoughts on paper. It makes you take yourself seriously as a writer even if what you are writing at the moment is rubbish!
  • I like to consult it when I am in the middle of writing a piece and find it boosts my morale and gives me direction in terms of writing.
  • It was a book written in the 70s but it holds true even today. It is this element that makes this book timeless to me - a classic.
What doesn't:
  • If you are thinking of becoming a writer and are looking for inspiration, then it is nothing but a good read.

But if you want to make it work for you, get down to writing and this book will help you get there!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Cruising through the Cracks

What started out as a random attempt is now becoming a fruitful association. Super thrilled to be published in Writer's Ezine latest issue. There is nothing like seeing your name in print!

Below is the entry for the picture prompt released for the magazine: 

The punishing sun burns everything in sight.
The battered land is now bereft of life
Forlorn farmer looks around, perks up,
At a wild weed, rising from its place of birth.

Her made up face is ready for the charade
That face of eternal beauty is just a facade
She is happy to strip it off, reveal the cracks
For that one soulful connection that her heart lacks.

The youthful heart was mourning love's loss
His ego bruised, his life up in knots,
Shirking life, he feels no reason to survive
Until, a new face walks by and he revives.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

You Sent Me A Letter - Lucy Dawson

A promising title for an average plot.

A very arresting title and a tight plot. It sounded just like the right book to settle down for the weekend. The premise sounded very intriguing. I had never heard about Dawson before. I love a good story and even better if it is a thriller.


Right before her fortieth birthday Sophie finds a man standing at the foot of her bed. He hands her a letter and tells her to open it right in front of everyone at her birthday party.

Sophie is confused, shocked and left wondering what secret does the letter contain.

What works:
  • It ticks all the boxes. A great title, an intriguing premise and a good central character.
What doesn't:
  • Unfortunately it did not hold interest. It starts off great the letter and all Sophie's attempts to get to the bottom of it. However, after a point, it became too twisty to keep a track off. It was as though the author wanted to keep the reader guessing and kept confusing her.
  • However, so much for the twists in the plot, the end was quite predictable.
An OK read. But that would not deter me from looking out for Dawson's next.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Missing Hours - Emma Kavanagh

A story  that is both enjoyable and enlightening.

It is a thriller like any other. But what makes it different from the rest is the way it sheds light on an industry that is not so well known.  The kidnap and ransom industry is a very secret and high profile, one full of risks and dangers. Kavanagh has weaved a tale based on it and what a compelling story it is!


DC Leah Mackay is investigating the case of a mother of two girls, who just vanished from the playground. She resurfaces hours later much to everyone but with no recollection of where she had been.

Her brother, DS Finn Hale is investigating a murder of a solicitor. As the brother sister duo get down to work, they cannot help thinking there is a connection between the two and get set to reveal some shocking secrets. 

What works:
  • The story is told through various perspectives. The detectives and the central characters take turns to tell their versions. It is a very fascinating yet complex device. I admit there were times when the police version of it got a bit confusing. However, the case histories were a great read. It got me hooked and it felt like I was learning about something new.
  • The characters are so strong. Ed and Serena Cole, Dominic, Seth and Beck are such significant personas. They have a distinct personalities shaped by their military backgrounds. 
  • A good deal of research has gone into it. As the author admits in the author's note, it was a tough call deciding on how to write about a high profile industry without divulging its dealings. The plot reflects the writer's ability to weave fact and fiction well. Wow!
  • Kavanagh's psychology background shows how she is concerned about the mindset of her characters by laying out pointers for the way they act. Leah can identify herself with Serena and Orla. This prompts her to act in a certain way, as Finn points out. These sublties add to the persona making them well rounded and strong.
  • Her work experience also reveals itself in the way she talks about the police force and the challenges they face. Her characters look humane yet committed to their work, adding strength to the narrative. 
What doesn't:
  • The story gets a bit confusing at the beginning as mentioned earlier. 

A great read, something very different to the other crime thrillers. The writer's style and content both put her in a different league. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

About God and Faith

photo courtesy.

Based on a true incident fictionalised for creative purposes.

“Your aunt is worried about her niece not getting married yet. She wants to offer prayers for her at a special temple, few hours away. I am going with her, want to come?” Shika’s mum asked.

While in between jobs, Shika was visiting her parents in India. Temples were not really her thing and she was not exactly devout. However, she decided to make a day trip of it.

So the next day, a car was arranged to pick up them around 7, hoping to get a headstart on the 3 hour journey.

As the car made way through the busy roads, Shika looked out of the window taking in the city life. Students with their headphones plugged in, waiting eagerly at the bus stop. As the car circled the massive public park, sweaty elderly residents were walking along the ringside, getting their early morning exercise before the rush hour traffic kicked in. 

Shops with their shutters half open were preparing for potential footfall. There was movement everywhere. Despite being early morning, the sun was hitting hard already. Soon there will be mad rush for every inch of space on the roads, Shika thought, as office goers will clog the roads in their cars and two wheelers.

As the car curved along the roads moving alongside trucks and buses packed with people, Shika couldn’t help but feel relieved. The best part of being on holiday was, you did not have to be anywhere. No school runs, as she watched a mum talking away to her child sitting behind her with a book in hand. To her, this was India, this vibrating, pulsating beat. People were so busy getting ahead and just surviving that they did not stop for anyone or anything else. Was that a good sign, she wasn’t sure.

As the car moved away from the city and entered the highway, the traffic eased out a bit, the buildings too seemed a bit spaced out. Shika could relax as she no longer jostled against her mother-in-law as the car overtook other vehicles. It felt better as the car 
picked up speed and raced along the highway.

Shika felt herself dozing off and when she woke up, it looked so different out of the window. They were fewer buildings, amid huge patches of land with trees lining up the roadside. There were vehicles on the road, but hardly any people. Soon enough, the car moved along a small road and spotting a man walking by, her aunt rolled down the window as the car slowed down beside him.

“Which way to the Neyveli town?”

“Keep going straight and as the road forks out, take the left” he said.

They kept on going. Clearly, they did not know how to get to the temple and in the absence of any signage, their only hope was seeking a passersby.

They managed to get into the town. The town’s main street was packed with people going about their lives. People instantly recognised them as out-of-towners and came up to us, liberal with their time in explaining directions.

These people probably are used to it, guiding visitors to the temple all the time, Shika thought.   As they drove on, Shika was looking out for a dome or a structure of some kind to indicate a temple. But they found themselves driving past rows of houses, into a quiet residential road instead.

“Look out for a flag on top of the ground floor flat,” the last person to give them directions, had said.

It sounded odd but by this point they just wanted to get to the place. Spotting the flag, they got out of the car.

They walked into what looked like an apartment and as they opened the gate, a gentleman wearing a checked shirt and orange dhoti, his forehead smeared with kumkum and ash beckoned them in.

They walked into a dark entrance that lead to a brightly lit shrine. The floodlights were directly aimed at a small bronze idol seated on a bronze throne, surrounded by mirrors from all sides and huge posters of the goddess.

“Please come in. Do you have an appointment?” The bewildered look on our faces said it all but he persisted.

“Did you call ahead of your journey?” We shook our heads.

 “Ah, I see. Please come in. You see, we always advise devotees to call ahead before they come. We are a family that looks after the shrine and often are open only a few days in a month. People like you who have travelled from far, often have a wasted journey if we are closed. But it looks like you are lucky.”

He asked us to sit down on the carpet laid on the floor.

“Would like me to tell you about the deity?” 

He then launched into a story about how the deity had been in the family for 200 years. The deity apparently appeared in the dream of an ancestor and asked him to look for her idol. After days of searching, the ancestor managed to find the tiny 6 inch idol and the family has been worshipping the deity for generations.

The deity which was a child like form of the goddess was called “Bala”. He brought the goddess to life as he started talking about the various characteristics of the deity. The shrine was her home and she decided who came there. Everyone is allowed into a temple but only a few are allowed into a home, he said.  Today, it was not luck, but her wishes that determined that we could see her. Also, the child goddess had a fondness for chocolates and biscuits and preferred them as offerings instead of the traditional offering of flowers and fruits. My aunt opened up a bag and took out the chocolates. Clearly, she had been briefed about the unusual request.

The deity had the supreme ability to fulfil all that her devotees asked for - Health, glory, children, peace of mind.  In return, the devotee was not expected to follow any ritual, make any donation or promises to the god. This goddess did not believe in “deals”. All that the devotee had to do was believe in her and once the desire was fulfilled, make a journey again to thank her. That was the only condition.

That’s impressive, thought Shika. After seeing temples adorned in gold and the notes offered as donations, this goddess sounded appealing. Shika found, she found herself warming up to the goddess already.

As she looked around, there were pictures lining up the walls of special events celebrated at the shrine. There were also numerous pictures of renowned celebrities in the arts seeking blessings and performing at the shrine. In a corner there was a shelf which had prayer books, beads, small objects that were supposed to help devotees with their troubles.

With soft music playing in the background, the smell of incense filling up the air and the priest’s engaging voice taking them what was clearly an oft repeated story, it was clear how privileged we were about being there. In that aura of spiritual tranquillity, it felt as though this goddess indeed had the power to grant any devotee’s desire.

Shika looked around at her aunt who was listening in rapt attention. As he finished yet another story extolling the virtues of the goddess, he gave her a pictures of the goddess and some red coloured powder kumkum. He asked her to place picture under the person’s pillow and apply the powder to the head. "The desires would be fulfilled," he said with conviction.

After sitting for a couple more minutes, they stood up and made way to the door. The aunt was profusely thanking the priest. As they stepped out, they felt a strange calm. The heat seemed to have lost its bite, the air smelled fresher and the strain of the journey alleviated.
They just stood there in silence, each in their own thoughts when the aunt said, “I think this will work for Priya.”

Priya was Shika's youngest cousin, a high achiever absorbed in her career. She had been married to a colleague for years and the family was looking forward to their baby.  But Shika always got the impression that everyone apart from the couple was interested in the idea.

The real purpose for the 3-hour journey just sunk in.
“Do you honestly think she will keep the picture under her pillow and apply that kumkum even she is not keen on babies,” Shika asked.

“Why not?” her aunt said.

I had my doubts.

But in that deliciously, calming atmosphere, anything seemed possible.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith

Better romance than crime

I was excited when I got to this one, but alas the excitement quickly turned to despair as I trudged along, desperate for it to end!

A major fan of the Harry Potter Books, I was disappointed by the last two crime novels. This one however, was better, but for different reasons.

Like the last two novels, there is crime and gore, lots of it. However, what makes this one better is the parallel story concerning the personal lives of protagnists. It was that got me through this whodunnit.


Robin and Strike have now settled down to their lives chasing obsessed fathers and paranoid men. However, things take a turn when Robin finds a severed body part in post. Suspicions rise when it has a connection to Strike.

It doesn't help that  Robin keeps finding other dismembered body parts belonging to random women attacked in the dead of the night. Soon it becomes apparent that Robin is being stalked and could be a possible victim until Cormoran digs his past and tracks down the killer. 

What works:
  • Cormoran and Robin are such well etched characters. It was a delight getting back to where the other book left off. The troubled relationship between Mathew and Robin, Strike and Robin trying to salvage their failing business and figuring out their feelings for each other.
  • I loved the tension between Robin and Mathew. The way the tension escalates in fact for me that became the focus rather than the crime and who did it.
  • It was the only thing that kept me going, my favourite bit being the cliffhanger.
What doesn't:
  • There is a desperate overdose of crime and gory to justify its position as a crime thriller. However, it is lacklustre and fizzles out.
  • I found myself waiting to find out more about Robin and Strike rather than the figure out the killer.
  • There is such an overdose of crime that it feels desperate. 
  • The search for the killer makes for a very boring read and there are moments of wading through paragraphs just to get to the end.

The way the story ends is a clear indication it will be picked up in Strike's later novel. I look forward to Rowling's sequel in the series for that reason alone I concede this one is the best of the three.

Monday, 9 January 2017

The BFG - Roald Dahl

A treat for adults and kids alike!

It was Roald Dahl's 100 birth anniversary in 2016 and thanks to the celebrations last year, I read my first Roald Dahl ever - and enjoyed it ! What was special was the author was a new introduction to me and my 6-year-old daughter. Together we discovered the joys of reading Dahl. 

We have watched the Matilda DVD numerous times and seen Charlie and the chocolate factory on TV. But this was our first book.

Besides, the movie BFG was out last summer and since we couldn't catch it, we decided to devour the book instead. It took a lot of bedtime reading sittings to read it through, but it opened my eyes to the brilliance of Roald Dahl.


The story is about Sophie a little orphan girl and BFG - big friendly giant. One night, BFG whisks Sophie from her bed with him to his land.

She quickly finds out that this giant is different from the rest. He blows dreams into windows. Sophie learns about the giants who inhabit a different world and come to human world eat children. Together, she decides to put an end to with the help of BFG and  - the Queen.

What works:
  • The supremely creative way of giving BFG a new voice, a new language
  • The conversations between Sophie and BFG are very endearing. 
  • The entire premise is so fantastical and unreal, yet Dahl manages to infuse conviction into them.
What doesn't:

My 6-year-old found the going a bit tough at times. Perhaps 6 is a bit too young, but then I was so eager to introduce Dahl to her that I ignored the fact. But now that she has read it, she has watched the movie and can't stop talking about the book.

Funnily, Dahl was never a part of my childhood. Enid Blyton dominated my shelves then. But living in the UK, Dahl has been part of every generation's childhood. I intend to make sure he is a part of my children's growing up years.

A must read for every child. 6+ preferably. 

Welcome Home

This post was written for Sunday Photo fiction - a story in 200 words or less.


Ayesha walked in cautiously, the house looked like a massive, mysterious maze. Looking around and at the carpeted floor, she followed it to the kitchen.

Standing there, a memory flashed through her head; a messy, buzzing kitchen. Vegetables and spices strewn about, a pot simmering on the stove. Her mum wiping her brow, bending over the pot, stirring the ladle. She and her brother playing in a corner, the wafting smell teasing their hungry tummies.

In contrast, this kitchen looked immaculate, almost surreal. Did they really cook here? The colour coordinated kitchen looked listless, as though craving for a reason to come alive. The small breakfast table on the side, stood poised for company even when not expecting any. 

Hearing some noise, she walked over to the lounge. She found herself facing a room full of people, nobody she recognised. Seeing her, they erupted in cheer. The man who had followed her in, led her toward a woman who puts her arms around her. Someone whispered, “A family, finally”.

Her eyes were drawn to a set of teddy bears in a corner. That is how they must look, she thought - an Asian child with her new Caucasian parents.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The EX - Alafair Burke

A legal thriller that thrills!

Reading John Grisham's books as a teenager was how I was introduced to the genre. Time to Kill, Pelican Brief and my favourite the Client were books I went back to, numerous times as a teenage reader. But then there came a point when I outgrew them all. Even the later ones Scott Turrow or Steven Martini failed to hold any interest.

Burke's book was a surprise find. I just read the title and the tagline and this was enough to tickle my curiosity. A contemporary voice and a new style, this story kept me hooked till the end.

The Gist:

Olivia is a successful lawyer although not so successful in her life. She has made some mistakes and she prefers not to look back. There is a blast from the past when one day she gets a call saying her ex has been arrested for three counts of murder. Olivia agrees to take up the case because she believes in Jack's innocence. She is convinced someone is trying to frame him and Olivia is keen to know why.
But then as she delves deeper into it, she is forced to admit conflicting thoughts regarding her client's innocence.

What works:
  • Perhaps I am comparing it to legal thrillers of the past, but I found this one modern in terms of language. A good thing.
  • It is an intriguing plot but often such plots end with a whimper. The first chapter is a killer and so bizzare that it seems Jack is digging a deep hole. You feel sorry for the guy and really want Olivia to help him out.
  • The narrative flows well and the voice is strong. The way the story weaves through the legal system, it is clear Burke despite being an insider, has done her research well. She meanders through the nitty gritties of the legal jargon very well.
  • The characters. Jackson Harris the soft, celebrated novelist as the victim and Olivia as the hardnosed lawyer are very well etched indeed. Even the peripheral characters of Melissa and Charlotte have a role to play and together the characters make it a formidable plot.
What doesn't:
  • The twist was a bit predictable. However, the way she led to it was compelling in the sense, I had to keep reading to make sure it turned out the way I had thought it would.
A great read, a talented writer. I am on a lookout for her books. Recommended. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

My Year in Books

Happy New Year!

Although this was supposed to be mylast post of 2016, December was so busy that it just flew by!  But what better way of starting 2017 than by reminicing about the books read last year? My reading journey has been interesting and Goodreads tells me I read 40 books in 2016. I have cherry picked one from different genres from the collection, ones that had most recall value and also highlighted some debut writers that I enjoyed along the way.

1. I Let You Go: Clare Mackintosh

I have a weakness for psychological thrillers so much that i even tried writing one, (a disastrous short story!). But anyway, I love the complexity of the genre and its study of human mind and through its complex characters.

This book ranks high because it is cleverly written and at one point, it really floored me with its clever use of device. Usually, I can predict the twists, but I admit, I did not see it coming. So yes, this definitely ranks high up there.

Perhaps, yet another reason is the fact that part of the story is based in Wales, a place I love. The plot, the atmospheric setting with its description of the seaside and  the biting winds just did not "let me go" till the end.

2. BFG

I just realised that the book review is lying in my drafts. But this was read in my 2016 and therefore deserves a mention here. What a wonderful book! My daughter and I discovered Dahl together and since then we have bookmarked all his other books. My daughter kept on laughing at BFG's weird use of language whereas I couldn't help but marvel at how Dahl flexed language so deftly. I always thought Rowling was the only one who could write for adults and kids alike. Nope, Dahl got there first!

Playing It My Way: Sachin Tendulkar

I haven't read too many autobiographies and Sachin's is someone I grew up with. His legend, his triumphs, his failures are open knowledge to most Indians. Therefore while reading his autobiography, I had expectations. He has always maintained silence even amid tough media speculation. I was hoping to get some inside stories.Though I did not get much, I liked the way the book tries to break his mega star superhero persona. It tries hard to show him as an average human with flaws. Even if I feel it did not work hard enough, it is a good read with some well written bits about the cricketing God.

Promising Writers of 2016: 

Radhika Swarup and Sudha Balagopal

I always get excited by new writers. It was a pleasure to discover Radhika Swarup's Where the River Parts (WTRP) and Sudha Balagopal's A New Dawn. They are similar in terms of their Indian heritage yet different in their style and subject. I loved the Partition element in WTRP and the diasporic tone in A New Dawn and found their writing to be fresh and their perspective new. I look forward to see what they think of writing about next.