Monday, 15 January 2018

Rounding up the year in books

I love doing this yearly round up - cherry picking from my reads of the year. A bit late (year end holiday and little one's bday party to organise) and I realise we are already in the second week of January. I refuse to believe that its too late to do my 2017 round up in books and here  I am.

It was a great year, bookwise. Lots of good books to read from all genres - literary fiction, crime, chick lit -  a good reading experience. Goodreads tells me I have read more than 2016 which feels good. A quick look through the list refreshes my minds of the titltes that made it to my book log. Here are my favourite reads that made an impression on me:

The Peshwa - Ram Sivashankaran

After watching Bajirao Mastani, I was keen to find out more about this valiant Maratha Warrior and Shivasankaran's version does proper justice to it. It offers depth and character to the persona and offered a well researched insight into the lesser known warrior.

What I loved is the holistic way in which the writer had approached the subject. Instead of giving a breezy, superficial account, Shankaran has taken the pain to paint a detailed background which offers a well rounded perspective - meaning a satisfying story.

The Perplexing theft of a jewel in the Crown - Vaseem Khan

A great fan of crime fiction, it was great to read a thriller set in an Indian setting. For me, it was "Death in Paradise" set in Mumbai. A lighthearted crime story with its backdrop in a city dear to me. You can see why it has sold me. But that is not the reason why it has made it to my top five. It is also a well written story, that touches upon the main character and follows a parallel storyline. It looks superficial but it works on a subtle level.

Love the light humour, great array of characters and a superb writing style. It definitely had me hooked.

The secret lives of Amir Sisters -Nadiya Hussain 

Families, confusion and chaos in a Muslim family. The Bake off winner turns her hand to writing apparently - or that is how it is packaged. Well it worked. Perhaps it was the name that made me pick up the book but then I am not sure if Nadiya would have done this without the help of the hugely talented Ayisha Mallik. But hey! I am not complaining. The combo works very well.

I remember reading that the story was like Alcott's Little Women but then if that is the case because it is about sisters then yes but then that is where the similarity ends.

A set of colourful characters in the exotic Asian family set up, sprinkled with some great writing and humour and voila that's a story served up with a well packaged book.

What sets this apart as my top reads it that it does what it says - light, fluffy yet filled with great characters and writing. It has a writing style that is refreshing, making you want to read more.

Lie With me - Sabine Durrant

A crime thriller that sets off from the word go. It is menacing and kept me edgy for days. A writer who meets his friend on an off chance and says a lie that he has to maintain throughout. A great premise which is sustained very well throughout the novel. Loved the way the writer has used the narrator and came up with a racy style.

What I liked was the narrative device that Durrant has used. I am struggling really hard to not spoil for those who have not read it yet. But go for it if, like me, you dig crime thrillers.

Writing Down The Bones

I discovered quite a lot of books on writing this year. It is amazing how many there are out there. Is it because of the creative writing classes or because more people are turning their hand to writing, I don't know.

 From getting inspiration to write to finding out the nuts and bolts that make short stories work, there are a range of books to choose from. But what got me writing and impressed me with its no nonsense approach was Goldberg's Writing down the Bones. She nails the anxieties and procrastination of a writer very well. It spoke me directly. She reprimands, coaxes and encourages the writer mindset. Job well done.

There goes my top five I suppose. Ready to close the chapter on 2017, I look forward to a brand new book filled year. Join me as I embark on a yet another journey of discovering glittering gems in the world of books.

Happy New Year.

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