The acceptance of a first pitch is quite special. Blogchatter selected my pitch on four life-altering books that I feel every creator/artist/writer must read to nurture their creative streak. I wrote this post straight from the heart while recovering from a ligament tear in my left knee. The past three weeks were difficult as I struggled at every small step (literally and metaphorically). I’m grateful for the company of books by Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Gilbert, Natalie Goldberg, and Julia Cameron. I hope creators/writers find value in these words.
I’m sharing a snippet from the post and the original link.
“2020 was my year of ‘unlearning.’ As I wrapped up an MFA-creative writing course by the end of the year, I understood how unlearning facilitates making space for new learnings. Books by Lisa Cron taught me how to write a compelling story, Robert McKee honed my dialog writing skills, and Charles Baxter enlightened me on the ‘show, don’t tell’ aspect of storytelling as I aced one topic after the other. Hola! I got my certificate and was ready to introduce my honed craft to the world.
Or so I thought! No one told me that the craft of writing or any form or creativity crumbled if the creator wasn’t aware of the necessary skills for survival. During this period, I discovered four books that taught me ways to nurture my creativity and conquer my fears and insecurities as a writer.“
After three months of writing and editing my second Detective Raya Ray novel, I was finally ready to take the next step. So, on Tuesday afternoon, I initiated the process of mailing a document set related to the book to my literary agent. While there are many steps before the final version is published both in paperback and e-book format, I’m glad that I could give Raya a challenging case to crack. Coincidentally, it is also my birthday month.
Since March’21, the doctor husband is back to his erratic schedule. I’m left with no choice but to raise the kid single-handedly once again. Shuttling between anxiety and helplessness, writing this book was my survival strategy. It also helped that I had my strongest support system in my brave five-and-a-half-year-old, who has barely met his father six times in sixty days. His interest in my project is beyond inspiring.
But I must also confess that the kid is a tough taskmaster. No reporting authority in my erstwhile corporate career has ever sought a status update of my work at a frequency of every half-an-hour, like this child. Phew! I’m quite glad that he has decided to shift his focus to Enid Blyton’s Mr. Noddy for the time being.
It is a tough time to live in. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard close friends lose their loved ones. I wasn’t even sure if I should put up an update on the book, especially when we are struggling to survive. But, art is a great survival strategy as well. It takes away our grief, worries, and hopelessness momentarily and gives us reason to dream of a better world. With a ray of hope in my heart that this too shall pass, I go back to balancing my role as a mother and a writer. Someday, I wish to write a book on what it means to be the wife of a frontline warrior.
Stay safe, stay home (if possible), take care, and wear a mask. We need to break the chain. Stay tuned for more updates related to Raya’s latest case.
I’m not much into book reading challenges because it takes away the joy of reading from me. I’m quite an old school when it comes to correlating books with happiness.
My breathing issues resurfaced in January, leaving me with very little energy or motivation to write. Instead of feeling miserable about the situation, I decided to spend those sleepless nights reading as I literally continued huffing and puffing. So, I ended up completing 14 books and leaving two midway in January. Right now I’m reading 4 books.
Here are the details of books I read-
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osborne (my best read of the month)
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Best Served Cold by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
5.Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
6.Gunning for the Godman by Ajay Lamba and Sanjeev Mathur
The itsy bitsy spyder by Apeksha Rao
How to be a writer by Ruskin Bond
Dasavatara by Piyusha Vir
A suitable boy by Vikram Seth
Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie
And there were none by Agatha Christie
The TMYS December review by Koral Dasgupta & TMYS team.
Chumki and the elephants by Lesley Denise Biswas
Girls and the city by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
All books have been reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads (if updated).
Not mentioning the books I left midway, both of which are famous and critically acclaimed.
Currently reading –
Each of us killers by Jenny Bhatt
Along came a spyder by Apeksha Rao
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
The artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
As we begin February, I hope that I can continue my reading pace while getting back to writing the second novel.
I’m posting a wish 15 days late because I was unwell for more than ten days. The respiratory issues that engulfed my life in 2019 resurfaced after a year and aggravated during winters. It kept me away from reading, writing, blogging, or even working on my writing projects.
Unfortunately, the husband also returned from duty with a severe stomach infection. So, the situation at home looks a little grim right now. But I hope that we can overcome this state and return to a healthy life soon.
On the positive side, the country started the vaccination process today. It is the first step towards winning this battle against the Coronavirus. I’m waiting for the day when the ‘new normal’ gets replaced by our old lifestyle.
Before the breathing problem overtook my existence, I began the new year by reading some beautiful books. Since last year, my reading range has primarily covered literary fiction. So, after getting the MFA degree, I rushed back to the thriller genre. My first book was the delightful read ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osborn. I will put up a detailed review later, but I enjoyed every bit of this crime thriller.
I hope everyone had a great start in 2021, a year of hope and happiness. I intend to get back to frequent blogging this year; I’ll share my blogging plans for this year soon. Until then, take care and stay safe.
In the blog posts that I wrote in October, I spoke about a series of my Favorite Indian Detectives. It also had my creation, the female sleuth Raya Ray who made her debut with the Thriller ‘Deal of Death’. Two months later, it gives me immense pleasure to announce that Deal of Death has recently got me the ‘Literoma Rising Star Award 2019’ for the Best Debut Author. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to declare that the book, which has held a consistent rating of 4.59 on Goodreads is finally live on Amazon. The pricing is just Rs.99. I can assure you that it has the potential to be your perfect weekend read or a Christmas/New Year gift for anyone who loves reading.
Literoma Rising Star Award 2019 for Best Debut Author
Santa has been kind to me this year and I hope I can count on my readers for the same support. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance.
Sharing the blurb of the book here –
Munshiganj is a quaint town with a rich historical background. Its biggest attraction has been a temple and mosque co-existing within the same premises along with the tomb of Nawab Rehamat Khan. Recently though, the peace of this little town has been affected by the paranormal – the temple bell rings by itself daily at midnight.
Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho, had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu, marked her debut as a private investigator. Detective Raya Ray lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for help from Sharmila – the sister of her house- help Sutapa. Sharmila suspects foul play when the doctors at the town hospital tell her that she delivered a stillborn child. Detective Ray steps in to assist.
Raya steps into a field of landmines after the body of Dr. Sonam Misra from the same hospital is discovered on the deck of a steamer. Soon after, Raya chances upon a secret safeguarded for ages inside the temple. With the help of a local rickshaw puller Habul, she starts unraveling the mystery, unaware of the danger lurking over her as a pair of blue eyes trail her every move.
As she puts the pieces together, Detective Ray realizes that nothing and no one is what they appear to be.
Disclaimer – This post is about my experience of reading the book ‘You Beneath Your Skin’. It is not to be confused with a book review that is more analytical and exhaustive in approach.
How often do you read a book that has such a deep impact on your soul that you fumble for words to speak about it? Keigo Higashino’s books have had that effect on me almost every time. And a recent addition to the list is debut author Damyanti Biswas’ crime thriller ‘You beneath your skin’. I finished reading this book more than a month ago but I had to let the emotions sink in before I could speak about it with clarity.
Set in Delhi, this is the story of Dr. Anjali Morgan, an Indian American psychiatrist and a single mother raising an autistic teenaged son Nikhil. She had come to India to escape her strained relationship with her mother after her married life fell apart. Police commissioner Jatin Bhatt, a much-married man with a teenage son is having an extra-marital affair with Dr. Anjali. In between balancing their personal and professional lives, both witness an upsurge in rape and murder of women belonging to the lower strata in the city. While trying to help Jatin in solving the crime, Anjali lands in a life-threatening situation. By the time the truth unravels, relationships and equations have undergone a transition beyond repair.
At 390 pages, this book is not the kind that can be finished at one go. The primary reason is that it is written in such a hard-hitting way that you cannot stay indifferent to the pain and trauma of the characters. It shakes the reader up, makes her question about the kind of society we live in where danger lurks in every turn of a woman’s life and gets her into a feeling of hopelessness and anger. Sometimes, it feels so real that it doesn’t even read like fiction. Damyanti started writing this book after the horrendous Nirbhaya incident in 2012 and I am writing this review after the horrific rape and murder of Dr. Priyanka Reddy a fortnight ago. If anything, the situation has only gone from bad to worse and this book is a harsh reminder of the same.
This book peels off layers of crimes that connect the lowest strata of the society with the most privileged class of elites. From abduction, minor sex racquet, prostitution, drug abuse, acid attacks, rape, and gruesome murder, this book manages to cover a wide spectrum of crimes effortlessly. The author has shown expertise and finesse in ensuring that none of the sub-plots feel exaggerated or forced. The reader experiences a similar spectrum of emotions in the form of sympathy, hopelessness, frustration, remorse, and anger though I must mention the slight ray of hope that appears at the end of the book.
It is quite difficult to believe that this is the work of a debut author. Her command over the plot, language, development of characters, and flow of the story is commendable. It is quite evident that extensive research has led to creating this book. A lot of incidents are also inspired by the real-life circumstances that people around her have been subjected to. She has absorbed their pain and channeled it into creating a story that lays bare the skeletons of an inhuman society. And here is one author who is not ready to stop at just writing about the barbaric acts. The sale proceeds of this book will be transferred to two charitable institutions ‘Project Why’ and ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ that she has been attached to and that’s her way to bring a positive change in society.
Months ago, I had decided to stop writing detailed book reviews because it took away the happiness of reading. The critic in me could take a backseat while my bibliophilic entity could savor the world of written words. That is why it is essential, to begin with, a disclaimer first – this post is not a book review in the strictest sense but more on the lines of sharing my experience of reading Richa S. Mukherjee’s latest release ‘Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd’.
Anyone who has ever lived in a small town would know how every small town holds a flavor unique to its people, traditions, and culture. That is why I would want to first mention the strongest aspect of this book which is the setting of its plot in the town of Kanpur. The author manages to take the reader on a ride through the lanes of Kanpur into Awadh Nivas, the residence of the Tripathi clan. Every character, scenario, festival, and even their food choices feel amazingly real and relatable. Kudos to the author for her sharp observation skills in creating this fictitious world by drawing inspiration from the real world.
Enter Prachaand Tripathi aka Prachiand his partner in the real and professional life, Vidya Tripathi aka Viddu. Together, they run Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd, a Detective agency that survives on mundane cases but aspires to be much more. Often they find themselves spending more on keeping friends and acquaintances entertained (unwillingly, though) than earning through prospective clients.
The Tripathi’s (other than the detective couple) consisting of Ammaji Rampyari, mother Rachna, father Dinbandhu, uncle Dinanath and brother Bhushan (the Kanpuriya Justin Bieber) are a hilarious bunch. As their daily life unfolds through the pages of the story, I often found myself laughing my heart out. If there is one quotient that the book excels in, it is humor. Richa’s sense of humor keeps the plot from never becoming too grim.
Disclaimer – This bibliophile blogger is also an author and I made my debut with the Detective thriller ‘Deal of Death’ last year. While writing the favorite Indian Detective series, it was quite difficult to choose seven Detectives amidst many that I had read. But the intention was to keep it personal and so I blogged about only those who I had grown to love. This series saw some great responses from authors like Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, and Swati Kaushal. Not to forget, even Anita Nair had liked my tweet about her Detective. But the 8th Detective is a character created from my brain and heart. So how could I not let it be a part of my favorites list! Despite the risk of making this post sound like a bit of self-promotion, I felt that there couldn’t be a better way to make some announcements with respect to the lady sleuth who created quite a furor with her entry.
Novels in the series –
Deal of Death
About the Detective –
Raya Ray, an ex-marketing honcho had been dealing with loss when a chance to help her Banker husband, Krishanu Banerjee, marked her debut as a Private Investigator in Kolkata. Raya had been handling mundane cases until she lands in Munshiganj in response to a call for assistance from the sister of her house-help.
Raya, who is well-aware of her need to get fit to keep up to her professional needs rarely has any second thoughts while ordering pastries and sweets. She is sharp and analytical while cracking mysteries. During the course of the case, she is often found to seek closure of her wounds through the happenings in her clients’ life. In the world of investigation dominated by men around her, Raya is here to smash gender stereotypes chasing chases criminals and solving cases.
Raya’s journey –
I wrote ‘Deal of Death’ as part of the Blogchatter E-book carnival in 2018. It was one of the first books to reach the download limit of 600 on the Blogchatter platform and it continued being in the ‘out of stock’ status until recently. The book opened to rave reviews and the recent review on the blog Vartika’s diary goes to prove how much this novella is popular even today. The Goodreads rating of the book has been at a consistent 4.59 for more than a year now.
Niki Marwah, as the Superintendent of Police is in charge of maintaining the law and order of Shimla. At 5ft 6inches, this razor-sharp minded investigator loves her stilettos as much as she enjoys chasing down criminals. When she is not dodging marriage proposals from her mother , she finds herself meeting men set up by her best friend Kamini aka Kam who understands how intimidating a woman in uniform can turn out to be for future prospects. When a body is discovered at the Sonargram cable car base, SP Marwah along with her team consisting of Inspector Gupta from the crime branch, the veteran Inspector Pande and the new recruit ASP Shankar Sahay start investigating the death of the 37-year-old Rakesh Mehta aka Rak – President, and CEO of a publishing firm. As the highly competent cop and her team start delving into the details of the death, involved parties start getting exposed and the truth of the events turn out to be different from they are presumed to be. During the course of the investigation, she also runs into Captain Ram Mathur, a close friend of the murdered CEO and despite the development of a budding romance, a sudden discovery of past relationships lands him in the list of suspects. This action-packed thriller takes a reader through multiple twists and turns before revealing the identity of the killer.
Janardan Maity, like Byomkesh Bakshi(by Saradindu Bandopadhyay) is not quite fond of the word detective attached to his name. Prakash Ray, an out-of-luck journalist, who is also the narrator of Maity’s adventures, has a chance encounter with this unusually intelligent and observant man at the birthday party of Ray’s uncle, Rajendra Mukherjee. Mukherjee introduces Maity as one of his closest friends who has never lost a game of chess. After the host and his second wife get murdered, all the guests gathered for the birthday party of the host turn out to be suspects in the eyes of the police. It is Maity and his logical reasoning that helps solve this mystery putting the murderer behind the bars. The climax of the novel brings back memories of Satyajit Ray’s Feluda who was also in the habit of assimilating all the parties involved in a case before revealing the truth and the identity of the killer.