Let’s Talk Embroideries

No wait. It is not what you think it is.

Embroideries need patience. In fact, tonnes and tonnes of it. And I don’t have that reserve of patience in me. What I am talking about is the book of the same name by Marjane Satrapi.

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Image Source: Amazon.com and I hold no rights to it.

It is not a book per se, but a graphic novel and a fine one at that. A quick read, you can actually finish this brilliant piece at one go. On a flight, on a long drive or on a day when you want to take a break from everything and need a change. It is rib-tickling and there are moments that would make you laugh out loud. Really LOUD.

I am afraid of giving away spoilers and hence, I steer clear of penning down more words and not including any quote. You have to enjoy it one word at a time. All I can say is that the book is a masterpiece and this is only the first of her many books that I have picked up to read.

I have targeted her book Persepolis next as a friend highly recommends the same to me.

Have you read Embroideries? What do you like about the book/graphic novel?

 

 

Guestpost: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Review by Nam H Nguyen

About Nam H Nguyen

Nam H Nguyen is a Melbourne based freelancer. His publications can be found online at The Australia Times magazine and on his personal blog, Scratches and Scribbles. An Australian by birth, Nam is a major in Creative Writing and English literature. He can be found perusing Melbourne’s many laneways blanching at the prices of tea.

Do visit his blog to read more write-ups: www.scratchesandscribbles.com


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 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler

Published 30th May, 2015, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

ISBN 0399162097 (ISBN13: 9780399162091)

310 pages

Man Booker Prize Nominee (2014)Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2013)PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2014),California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction (2013)John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee (2014)

Specsavers National Book Award for International Author of the Year (2014)

“In the phrase ‘ human being,’ the word ‘being’ is much more important than the word ‘human.’ ”

Imagine if your father operated your childhood as a social experiment. That is the life of the younger Rosemary Cooke, a life of the apathetic notes and scientific assertions. Now older, her twin sister, Fern has disappeared and her older brother, Lowell, has run away – leaving her with only her mother and father. Weeks after having finished the novel, I still stare at its cover and her voice still echoes with her grief.

Awkward and lonely, Rosemary hides from many things in life, but she doesn’t shy away from everything – and it’s with this determination, that she won’t lose her parents, or herself too.

Author of the 2004 critically acclaimed Jane Austen Book Club, now a film, Karen Fowler has again brought to us a modern work of art.Interspersed with her natural charm, Rosemary Cooke makes for an endearing protagonist. With such talent that couldn’t be done otherwise, she comes too readers as isolated, and then ordinary – and suddenly she leaves you unique and profound. Now older, her voice she echoes with youthful jubilance, and her intelligence and wit leaves you with observations that you can take with you for life.

It’s this complexity –Rosemary’s voice and Fowler’s skill that reshapes your typical family drama into something more relevant today. Readers would forgive the authorsdiscourse, only because it integrates so seamlessly into the structure of the narrative.

What happens when you remove the word human from human being? That’s what half the people I knoware today. Humans or beings, both aspects are important to the modern representation of humanity. Fowler’s greatest achievement is not her innovation on family drama itself – but rather how she sets about asking questions which otherwise are so heavy handed.

Ultimately, the narrative asks us to accept the reality of the world which we live, but leaves us with emotionally charged knowledge to decide our own.

 “I didn’t want a world in which I had to choose between blind human babies and tortured monkey ones… that’s the sort of choice I expect science to protect me from, not give me.”

It’s through novels like these, where we can ponder a little bit, and put the word ‘human’ back where it belongs – right beside the word ‘being’.

 

Reader’s Nook: QA with Kimsiang

Image Source: Flickr.com

Image Source: Flickr.com

Kimsiang is all of 15 years and dreams big already! She aspires to be a fashion designer, travel the world and of course, read as many books as she can! She blogs at The Spines Breaker. Show her some love, will you?! 🙂 Here’s what she has to say.

 


Most favourite books/series
HP: Like of course ;D
Throne of Glass: It’s my new obsession. I never thought I would pick up the first book even but to these days I have been nagging everyone around me to pick it up!
The selection: I’m a real sucker about royalties, prices and princesses. I know many people didn’t really like this series because the MC is annoying and I agree to that point, but I read this book solely because of the love story and it was amazing!
The Lunar Chronicles: This series has come to a close recently and I can’t stop fangirling. This series have one of the most amazing set of characters that I can’t help but love.
Anna and the French Kiss (and the other companion novels): It’s one of the first books that got me into the YA community and as cheesy as they were, I love each and everyone of them with all my heart! My favourite tho is Lola & Cricket’s story.
A book that you’ve reread the most
Anna and the French Kiss (about 5 times) 😉 Told ya I love it
Favourite authors and why
I haven’t read anything else by J K Rowling (or Rovert Galbraith) other than HP, but I’m gonna go with her anyway, because she is amazing and a genius. Also Morgan Matson and Stephanie Perkins, the queens of contemporary. Also Sarah.J.Maas!
Genre you dislike
Non-fiction, I find it too boring.
Character Crush
  • Etienne St.Clair
  • Cricket Bell
  • Dorian Havilliard
  • Maxon Schreave

and more…XD

What is your ideal reading space/environment
my bed is my small comfortable nook and also cafe but can’t have too many people :-/

Reader’s Nook: QA with Jody

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

About Jody: I have been a keen reader since as long as I could remember. I was a late bloomer when it came to learning to read. Once I did, I ate books for breakfast. I spent the first thirteen years of my life on a tiny island in the Shetland Islands, so our school only had about ten students and that was across all year levels for primary school. We had a very limited book collection there, no actual library, but I would regularly borrow from there and I spent all my pocket money on books. I am also a keen artist of many mediums and I began to illustrate from my dreams and imagination, and from there stemmed a vast collection of books I have written that has only grown with time.

I am hoping in the future to publish all the books I have written, but I expect it to be a few years before these can hit the shelves as my kids are still young and I need the time to be able to write long into the small hours of the night otherwise I lose my mojo!

I currently live in a remote area of Western Australia, which is in the middle of a desert. I live next to the biggest open pit mine in the world (I think!), and in summer temperatures can reach over 50C and winter, you can see frost on the grass!


 

1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

This is a tough one! my fav books are in no particular order

1 Dietland

2 The Way We Fall

3 A Year of Marvelous Ways

4 Shamsuddins Grave

5 Mango Girl

6 The Bone Collector

7 Einstein’s Beach

8 The Immortal Empire (it’s a trilogy)

9 Priests of Mars

10 The Lovely Bones

2. A book that you have re-read the most

Earthsong would have to be the most re-read book I have, I read it when I was very young, and I read it again recently.

3.Favourite authors and why

It’s hard to pick my fav authors, there are so many! Kate Locke, Kylie Chan, Jacob M. Apple are some of my favs though.

4. Genre you dislike

I haven’t yet found a genre that I haven’t enjoyed, it really depends on the author. There is always the potential for even the best genre to be awful if it isn’t written well.

5. Character crush

Character crush? It has to be Vex from the immortal empire trilogy.

6. Character you strongly identify with

I think most of the main characters in books I have read, I have been able to identify with in some shape or form. The older I get the more life experience I collect, so I always find a piece of myself in characters.

7.One character you want to bring to the real world

Too many to be able to pick a single character.

8. What is your ideal reading space/environment

Best reading space is the hammock on a nice spring day after dosing myself up with coffee.

9. Must-have books in a collection

All my favs I’ve listed, and then some 😀

10.Earliest memory of books and reading

I remember being the only kid at my school of 10 kids (I was raised on a small island in Scotland) that liked reading as much as I did. I was always borrowing from our limited collection, and would spend all my pocket money on books, Animal Farm was my fav series. I used to record all the books I read, and today, we have goodreads to do it for us! I wish I still had that list!

11. Weirdest book or reading experience

Forty Bibles and Forty Dictionaries. Absolutely bizarre, made no sense and I never finished reading it.

Reader’s Nook: QA with Edvin

Image Souce: Flickr

Image Souce: Flickr

Bio: I’m a young guy from Sweden, running the blog As the oatmeal swell, and I publish posts about things I find value in. I devour simple and granted things and make them complicated and long, and the opposite. I post social criticism and paintings. I philosophise about things I’m not sure about. Why? Because I think that nothing exist. And, I call myself an artist, and my works focuses on delivering something in a ‘raw’ way. Or something completely different. I dream about doing performance art!


Name 5-10 of your most favourite books.

Thank you so much for allowing me to choose more than one. You know bibliophiles well! Stoner (novel), Capital, Silmarillion, The Tolkien reader, Momo or the Grey gentlemen, Power Systems, Goya and Anders Petersen (1966-1996.)

A book that you’ve reread the most.

Darn… I don’t reread, because I have a good memory, but Silmarillion.

Favourite authors and why.

J.R.R. Tolkien, because he made a very large impact on me; his stories has engraved themselves in my heart, and they are intertwined with many things I do, John Williams because he can embrace the reader and create a bond between them and the story and Noam Chomsky because he delivers his messages in an upright and clear way, while also complicating them in a way that is challenging for everyone.

Genre you dislike.

Horror. I’m scared shitless out of those things.

Character crush.

I really don’t know.

Character you strongly identify with.

Niggle. He is and artist valuing loneliness, and above all his art. People in his surroundings takes distance from him, and it seems like he is not of the world. It results in sad things happening to him, but he still shrugs his shoulders; he knows they have no importance. Niggle finds comfort in himself!

One character that you want to bring to the real world.

Master Secundus Minutus Hora. He is a very interesting man, because he has seen the roots of time, and since he doesn’t have the , he can delve deeper into other things, and he values thinking and waiting.


Like the questions? Why not participate in it? I am all up for it 🙂 Just drop me an email.

 

Reader’s Nook: QA with Cherrie

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

There is something about Cherrie 🙂 And you can read it in her bio:

I live in the centre of Amsterdam, with my husband, a 9-year-old daughter, a cat, and about 600 books. I work in IT, but my real passion is travelling (a passion I share with the family) and books. If I’m not travelling, sailing our own boat, or busy making plans for upcoming trips, I will be sitting somewhere reading. I have always been a reader, and I read for the same reason I travel; they satisfy my curiosity about the universe, while at the same time let me escape into other places and be in other people’s skins.  When in need of some excitement, I enjoy a bit of adrenaline rush doing rock climbing, bungee jumping, sky diving, go on a tree top zip line, or hang upside down doing some aerial yoga. I just love the sensory feeling of being higher than the grounds, which is probably a compensation of me being short.

If I won the lottery, I would spend the money to sail around the world, build a library (or two) somewhere in the world that needs it, and buy designer chairs for my house.

I write about my travels in my travel blog: https://deliciouslydoingnothing.wordpress.com


  1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

This is a hard question for me, but in no particular order:

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

The Hunger Angel – Herta Müller

Battle Royale – Koushun Takami

Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud

The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters – Matt Ridley

  1. A book that you have re-read the most

The Shrinking of Treehorn, by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Edward Gorey. I picked it up from a library when I was 3, not even yet able to read. We never returned that book to the library (I’m such a criminal!), and I love to the book so much, rereading many times after I could read, even into adulthood when I’m able to get more from the story and the underlying dark humour. This book was also the reason Edward Gorey became my favourite illustrator and later on led me to discover his other, more grown up works.

  1. Favourite authors and why

The thing is, I don’t have a favourite author because for me, limiting my reading to favourite authors is like travelling to the same place over and over while there are many other destinations to go to. I tend not to seek out a book from the same author even if I loved their books (with the exception to series). But if I have to choose a favourite author, it will be Frank McCourt. I can’t help getting drawn into his words, his genuine personality that shone through all his books, and the Irish charm that makes me want to invite him over for tea.

  1. Genre you dislike

Romance, because I find it mostly boring and formulaic. Self-help and inspirational books, because, well, I don’t like being told what to do.

  1. Character crush

I thought long and hard about this question, but the truth is, I never had a character crush. Perhaps because the best books I’ve read tend to have flawed characters, which make for great storytelling, but not so much as a crush.

That being said, I wouldn’t say no to a date with Mark Watney from The Martian. An intelligent, cool headed and resourceful man is always sexy.

  1. Character you strongly identify with

Emily the Strange. I could really relate to this brooding introverted girl with poker face and her anarchic tendencies. In fact, I had the exact same hairstyle as a kid.

  1. One character you want to bring to the real world

Pippi Longstocking. It would be interesting to find out what kind of adult she grew up to be (even though I always imagine Lisbeth Salander as a grown up and darker version of Pippi).

  1. What is your ideal reading space/environment

I can read pretty much anywhere, from a noisy public transport to a secluded beach, but nowhere is as comfortable as my own bed.

  1. Must-have books in a collection

When I was 8 or 9, my grandmother gave me this huge Random House College Dictionary, and I thought it was the best book ever. Not only it contained word definitions, but it also includes illustrations, diagrams, the full periodic table under ‘element’, a language tree of Indo-European languages, and several different alphabets from around the world. In the pre-internet days, it became my go-to resource for a lot of things. Today, whenever my kid asked me the meaning of some words, I told her to look it up in the dictionary even though she could also Google them. There is something about searching for a word in a physical dictionary and along the way found some other beautiful or weird words that you haven’t known to exist before, and there is always something to discover. Mine is an old one now, and you wouldn’t be able to find more modern words in it, but I think every household should have at least one very good quality physical dictionary on the shelf.

  1. Earliest memory of books and reading

My parents took me to the library as a toddler, and I always loved the library and I would pick books I found interesting for them to read for me at home. And that was how I came to my answer for question no.2

  1. Weirdest book or reading experience

I love reading weird and random books! From Alice in Wonderland, a book narrated by a bowl (The Collector Collector – Tibor Fischer), the story of the invention of currywurst (The Invention of Curried Sausage – Uwe Timm), the history of the screwdrivers (One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw – Witold Rybczynski), a hyper-detailed narration of a game of Go (The Master of Go – Yasunari Kawabata), to a book containing 99 identical stories told in various writing styles (Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau). The weirdest of all was probably The Curious Sofa by Edward Gorey. It was supposedly written as a satire to The Story of O, in the truly wicked and bizarre Gorey way.

Reader’s Nook: QA with Kritika

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Bio: Hello, everyone. I am Kritika Vashist from the blog, From the Soul to the Nib of the Pen. I am from India and an economics graduate. I am a lost soul finding a purpose and my pen is helping me in this journey.

Someone asked me once, “What would you choose; writing or reading?” My answer was, “There is no writing without reading. If you don’t stimulate your brain with some reading, how will your thoughts ever grow or how will you ever think? I will read and then I must write, for without it I feel incomplete and worthless.”

I was much surprised when Sucheta told me that she wants me to be a part of her Reader’s Nook. I haven’t been invited for something like this before, so I was excited and nervous at the same time. I want to thank her for inviting me and giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts and likes on books and reading.

We all have a different taste and perspective and that is what makes us explore more about books. My journey with books, reading and writing hasn’t been normal. They all have entered my life at odd times, yet I feel that anytime is perfect and right when it comes to reading and writing.

There are a lot of books that I haven’t read and haven’t known. Life seems too short when I think about it. However, I try to live a moment in all those books that I have and I can read. The number of books to read and to buy is quite high and I won’t mind if you add one that you think I must read. Thank you very much.


 

1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
Ans: My Journey by APJ Abdul Kalam
Rumi: Bridge to the Soul
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
2. A book that you have re-read the most
Ans: White Tiger By Arvind Adiga.
Rumi: Bridge to the Soul is that one book I have re-read while reading it for the first time.

3.Favourite authors and why
Ans: First is Rumi because as I say he is mystical. He digs deep into his soul and his words and metaphors give me Goosebumps. If one hasn’t read him yet, they must, right now or after reading this.
Second would be my true inspiration, APJ Abdul Kalam; he wasn’t a writer by profession, but I love how he manages to attract his readers with his simple yet motivational words of wisdom.

4. Genre you dislike
I don’t have a dislike for any genre. If I am enjoying reading a book, I will continue to read, even if it is a horror (because I usually avoid reading horror.)

5. Character crush

Ans: Leo from The vow

6. Character you strongly identify with

Ans: I don’t think I have come across any. However, I remember reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and a couple of lines made me go like, “Hey, that is so me!”

7.One character you want to bring to the real world

Ans: Hermione Jean Granger. Do I need to give reasons? I think Harry Potter is more about her than Harry. She is the real hero and heroine as well.

8. What is your ideal reading space/environment

Ans: I can read while I am travelling by a bus or train. The ideal reading environment would be silence, pen and a notepad or my phone (that has a Memo) I have a habit of writing down lines that I love or would want to read again and jotting down few notes of my own.

9. Must-have books in a collection

Ans: All that I mentioned under my favorite books.

10.Earliest memory of books and reading

Ans: I had Panchatantra, little books about fairytales, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and Tom Sawyer; these are books that are still with me, safely and neatly . There are also lots of children magazine.

11. Weirdest book or reading experience

Ans: I was once reading a book completely unaware of its genre and storyline. I was experimenting with myself. The book was Valentina by Evie Blake. I was in the metro and reading it, and if my memory serves me correctly, after chapter two I realized that it was an erotica. It was weird because people were staring, and I was reading an erotic novel around 8:30 in the morning while heading to my college! I wanted to attend the lectures with all attention, so I closed that book, and never again thought of experimenting.


How about giving Reader’s Nook a try? Get in touch with me and I will feature you here 🙂

 

Reader’s Nook: QA with Michael Noss

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

About Michael: Married, four children, grew up in Idaho, currently a contractor living in Colorado, former officer in USAF, first time author who challenged myself to simply see “can I actually write a full-length novel” as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2013; completed a year later as part of NaNoWriMo 2014, published this past April. Originally wasn’t going to bother getting published, just have a copy for myself and my mother (avid reader who inspired a love of reading in me), but wife’s online friends begged for copies of their own so I went through CreateSpace to self-publish. Very limited sales thus far (~55), but very positive feedback from those who have read it.

My novel is a fantasy novel about a human girl who discovers she is descended from dragons. Now her draconic blood will allow her to travel to Draco Keep to help stop a war from breaking out between dragons and the rest of creation. Along the way she has to learn about her dragon heritage, but ultimately it’s her humanity which helps to save the day.

Dragon Born is available on Amazon or at dragon-born.com.

1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

Ender’s Game, Armor, Starship Troopers, Magic the Gathering: Arena, Elfstones of Shannara, Time/Test/War of the Twins (trilogy), and of course Dragon Born (my novel) 😉

2. A book that you have re-read the most

Scions of Shannara.

3. Favourite authors and why

Terry Brooks and RA Salvatore. Beyond their characters, their style of writing is less like a college professor giving a one-way lecture, and more of a round-the-campfire storyteller. I modelled my own writing after their styles.

4. Genre you dislike

Mystery — it’s such a copout when the author reveals a crucial detail just pages before the end of the book to conveniently explain something which you, the reader, couldn’t possibly have known all novel long.

5. Character crush

Drizzt Do’Urden and Raistlin Majere (not romantic, just my favorite characters of all time).

6. Character you strongly identify with

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin.

7. One character you want to bring to the real world

Professor Xavier.

8. What is your ideal reading space/environment

Living room, late at night, single light on in house.

9. Must-have books in a collection

Trying to complete my collection of Shannara books by Terry Brooks, since I recently agreed to read his prequel series as well.

10. Earliest memory of books and reading

My grandfather worked for NASA, he once visited with some junior astronomy books when I was very young. He read them with me, all the excitement of wonder in his voice, and I was hooked on both reading and astronomy (got my degree in astrophysics).

11. Weirdest book or reading experience

I forget the title, but as a fan of both Star Trek and X-Men, I once found a novel which had the two worlds join together for an adventure. Let’s just say I think I prefer the two separate.


Found the questions interesting enough? How about you answer them? Feel free to drop me an email for the same at sucheta dot scribbles at gmail dot com.

 

7 Reasons Why ‘Buying Books’ Wins Over ‘Buying Makeup’ For Me

Nope. I am not against those who buy makeup and love it to the core. It is just that they are a different species and I am a different species. And after buying makeup with a friend, for the friend, I have come to a definite conclusion and that is – I rather invest in books than makeup. My reasons would be:

  1. Makeup has a poor shelf life. 3 years max. Books, well no such limit on them!
  2. Spending a grand on a makeup fetches you maybe a handful of products or just one product. Spending a grand on books, can fill up your entire shelf (if you purchase from sales and book fairs).
  3. You need to practice with a steady hand – how to apply makeup. No such skills are required to read a book.
  4. Can you multitask while applying makeup? I bet you can’t. Books allow you to multitask in more ways than one. 😉
  5. Makeup trends change with season and time. Books refuse to do so. That is why we have classics.
  6. You cannot inherit makeup products passed down several generations. With books, it is a possibility.
  7. Precision is a must for makeup. But books let you be an oaf.

These are my excuses of not investing in that perfect Marsala lipstick or the latest eye liner. I would rather have a rare copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, plop on an unshapely bean bag and start reading it nonstop.

Book Excerpt: People We Love by Jenny Harper

PWL_FC web

This is an excerpt from Jenny Harper’s latest release – People We Love. If you like it, please feel free to share your feedback here and with Jenny. You can also read her interview here.

Webpage       http://jennyharperauthor.co.uk/

Blog                http://jennyharperauthor.co.uk/

Amazon           Buy the book


Chapter One

Catalogue number 15: Child’s shoe. 16th-century? ‘Concealment shoe’. Found in rafters of agricultural worker’s cottage outside Hailesbank. Donors: Eric and Sheila Flint, Forgie. ‘Concealment shoes’ have been found concealed in wall cavities or among roof rafters of many old houses. They were thought to ward off evil.

When Jamie was alive, AlexaGordon wore hippy dresses in luminous colours and danced barefoot on the lawn at midnight.

When Jamie was alive, they ate drizzle cake and made scones heaped high with cream and jam.

When Jamie was alive, she had a future.

And then it all changed.

I don’t know what you thought you were doing,she saidsilently to her brother for the hundredth time, getting into that car that night. You might have accepted the risk for yourself. But you had no right at all to ruin everyone else’s lives.

She looked down at the bowl in front of her. Breakfast cereal stared back, sodden and limp. She pushed the dish away.

‘You must eat, Alexa dear,’ her mother Martha said, capturing a stray grey lock that was hanging in front of her face and twisting it round her fingers.

‘Don’t fuss, Mum,’ Lexie answered without thinking.

Martha bit her lip and hunched into herself as she pulled her tired-looking peach candlewick dressing gown closer round her thin frame.

Idiot, Lexie chided herself. It’s the anniversary of Jamie’s death. Think before speaking, today of all days.

The problem was that her mother’s tendency to fuss had become an obsession with her wellbeing. It was understandable, but sometimes hard to bear. Lexie looked down at her plate. She had barely touched the cereal.

‘It’s gone soggy,’ she said, trying to be conciliatory. ‘If I make toast, will you have some?’

Concern could run both ways.

She saw Martha’s mouth twitch at the corners. Whatever else she might be, her mother wasn’t stupid.

‘A little,’ Martha touched her hand lightly. ‘If you have time.’

Lexie stood up and cleared her plate from the table. Living at Fernhill again was both strange and stiflingly familiar. She was thirty years old and once believed she could build a career as an artist. Now all she had to remember this by was a tattoo round her thumb and hair the colour of a flamingo’s wings, plus a tendency to see everything in terms of how it might be captured on canvas.

Thanks for nothing, Jamie— 

‘Brown bread okay?’

‘Fine. Thank you.’

She cut two slices and pushed them into the toaster. Outside the tall sash window, the garden was blanketed in an early morning mist. In the far corner, by the pergola, she could just see the blossom on the cherry tree, delicate and wraithlike.

‘I do appreciate this, Alexa. Your being here, I mean.’

A blackbird took off from one of the branches and a small flurry of petals swirled softly towards the grass. Lexie pursed her lips. How could she fail to know this? Martha’s thanks were expressed ten times a day, their utterance a delicate trap. She was all her parents had left and she had to be there for them. This meant, she told herself, that she didnot regret marching into Patrick Mulgrew’s gallery in Edinburgh a year ago and telling him she was withdrawing her exhibition.

Even though it meant the end of their relationship as well.

Her throat swelled with unshed tears and she had to summon all her willpower to push away the hurt she still felt at their separation. Thinking about Patrick wouldn’t do any good. Instead, she retrieved the toast and rearranged her face into her customary jaunty smile before she turned round.

‘I know you do. Come on, Mum. Let’s eat. Then I must get to work. I take it Dad left early?’

She didn’t really need to ask. Where her mother was all dependence, Tom Gordon had turned into The Great Provider – strong, uncompromising and utterly resistant to any kind of conversation about his son.

Martha’s eyes glazed over.

Some family we’ve become, Lexie thought. Surely we weren’t always like this?

‘I’d better go, Mum. Dad’s called a special meeting.’

‘Please be tolerant, darling. I know he’s obsessive about the store, but it’s because he wants to show he loves us.’

‘I am tolerant. Most of the time, anyway.’

She and her father were two of a kind in many ways. They certainly both threw themselves into work as a diversion.

‘Will you be all right? What are you going to do today?’

Martha stood up. Her dressing gown hung off her body in loose, sad folds. Once she’d been a legal secretary – smart, efficient and very organised. Grief was eating her up.

‘I’m going,’ she said, ‘to do some gardening. I think.’

Lexie found the shifts in her mother’s character profoundly unsettling. And now she had to prepare to be unsettled all over again, because her walk to work would take her past Patrick Mulgrew’s house.

Ten minutes later, Lexie stepped through the front door of Fernhill and pulled it closed. It was eight thirty in the morning and she tried to leave the ache of loss behind her in the gloomy spaces that had once been filled with laughter. She tugged her old tweed jacket closer, glad of its warmth. There was no point in being bitter. It was a waste of time to think about the things that might have been.

Despite the obvious truth of this, there was no way of avoiding Patrick’s house. It took seven minutes to cover the distance between Fernhill and The Gables. Seven minutes of separation. For a brief time she and Patrick had both found it amusing that he lived in Hailesbank near her parents while she lived in Edinburgh, near his gallery. They hadn’t been together long enough to change that.

Three minutes. She reached the end of James Street and crossed onto Darnley Place. Patrick’s continued proximity was a fleabite that itched, she reminded herself, nothing more. She didn’t care about him now: she could never have sustained a relationship with Patrick because they were too different. The way she saw it, she put family first and Patrick thought only about profit. Better to find that out sooner rather than at some point in the future, when they might have become knotted together, like roots round a boulder, so that separating would tear at the fabric of life.

Six minutes. Patrick owned a smart art gallery – or, to be more precise two, one in London and one in Edinburgh. People saw him as either discriminating and astute or snobbish and arrogant. Lexie lengthened her stride. She found it impossible to forget Patrick because everything that mattered to her was so tightly entwined with him: ambition, career, and passion. Was that why she’d loved him so much? In the short time they’d been together, he’d taken her heart, her body and her brain – the complete package – and made them all his.

Seven minutes. There it was now, a million pounds’ worth of sandstone and lawn, the epitome of everything the man stood for – style, statement and substance. Crow-stepped gables, baronial turrets and an old Scots pine standing sentinel by the gate.

Lexieglanced down at the tattoo round her thumb. ‘Artbollocks’ it read – an indelible statement of belief about art and honesty.

‘Why disfigure your beautiful hands like that?’ Patrick had once asked, tracing the letters with his long fingers as they’d lain limb to limb, half drugged by ardour.

‘So that I never forget,’ she’d answered fiercely, ‘about pretentiousness.’

He’d lifted her thumb to his lips and kissed each letter, one at a time. Eleven feathery kisses.

‘You’re very different,’ he’d said, ‘but I think I might just be in love with you.’

His car wasn’t there, she noted, which was a relief. They’d learned politeness this last year, but kept their distance. Too many words had been spoken that couldnever be unsaid. Still – he didn’t know it – but  fending off the hurt she felt about their break-up was like rolling back the tide:­ impossible.

By the time she arrived at the Thomson Memorial Park, the mist was beginning to lift and the park was already alive with its quota of elderly dog-walkers and mums with buggies. She glanced right – a habit she had developed – to catch a glimpse of the river as it flowed past the foot of Fisher’s Wynd. She found the water soothing and it worked its magic again this morning because at last she was able to put Patrick firmly out of her mind and focus on Jamie. This was his day, after all, and despite her anger about his death, he’d always be a part of her.

Stay with me, bro.

When she reachedKittle’s Lane she turned right, so that she’d pass Cobbles. If Pavelwas in the shop already, she’d wave to him.

Lexie adored Cobbles. She loved the jumble of antiques Pavel seemed able to conjure up from nowhere. Each object, however humble, had a story to tell. A stone hot water bottle shivered out a tale of freezing nights in icy beds; a moustache cup in fine porcelain whispered of male vanity; a carpet beater, twisted from rattan into a Celtic knot, hinted at the hard labour that housework once was. Most of all, Lexie loved the vintage clothes that peeked tantalisingly from cubbyholes or begged for attention from serried ranks of hangers on rails at the back of the shop. She was addicted to vintage.

Half way down the lane, she spottedPavelSkonieczna sashaying out of the shop. He placed his sandwich board on the pavement and stepped back to admire it, his hands wafting up to his mouth with characteristic grace. Cobbles, read the elegant copperplate script, Antiques and Collectibles. Lexie smiled. Pavel(always dressed in vintage, always colourful) was the perfect advertisement for his own shop. Today he was smart in green tweed – his favourite suit – teamed with a mustard moleskin waistcoat and brown brogues.

She speeded up. ‘Pavel! Hi!’

Shoulders straightened and tweed turned. ‘Lexie. Darling. You’re early today.’

Lexie grimaced. ‘I know. Dad’s called a staff meeting before we open.’

Pavel shook his head. ‘You shouldn’t be working in that place. It’s not right for you.’

Spot on, Pavel. Like trying to shove a jelly through a sieve and expecting it to come out whole on the other side.

‘I know. But what can I do?’

‘Stand up for yourself. You always used to. They use you.’

‘It’s not that simple.’

She let her parents use her, because she had to. It was the only way she could think of to make things better. It was her way of helping herself as well.

‘You’re a good daughter.’

Lexie hesitated. Pavel confided recently that his partner Guy had died some years ago and he’d moved to Hailesbank to escape the sad memories. His only family now was a snake of a sister who had disowned him and, because he never talked about it, Lexie guessed how much it hurt him.

Pavel spared her the embarrassment of having to think about what to say.

‘Is it about that marketing plan?’

‘I expect so.’

She’d spent the last month working with Neil Taylor, the assistant manager at her father’s furniture store, on a plan designed to drag the old family business protesting and spluttering into the twenty-first century. Or rather, Neil had been working on it, in his careful, business-like way, and she had been attempting tomodernise the store by selecting more stylish stock and updating the layout. At least, that’s how she sawher role.Her father was proving resistant to change.

‘I’m a bit nervous, Pavel, to tell you the truth.’

‘Do you think he’ll veto it?’

Lexie shrugged and pulled her jacket across her chest. The sun might be dappling the river already, but it hadn’t dropped in on Kittle’s Lane yet.

‘You know Dad.’

Compassion glowed in Pavel’s eyes and Lexie looked away. Sympathy was always the hardest part of friendship to accept.

‘I must dash,’ she said. ‘Sorry.’

‘Good luck, darling.’

‘Thanks!’

The store where Lexie was heading was at the east end of the high street. It was part of a run of shops built in the mid-nineteenth century when Hailesbankhad been at its most prosperous. Her great-grandfather had taken up the first lease, and the sign he’d proudly commissioned to run above the entire shopfrontwas still there.

Gordon’s Furniture Emporium (Est. 1892)

The elaborate letters were painted in pure gold leaf on a forest green background and the whole sign was covered in protective glass so that, a century and a half later, it still announced its presence with undimmed glory.

‘The trouble is,’ Neil had observed when they’d studied the frontage as part of their research, ‘that sign is probably the last smart thing left in the whole place.’

He’d put his finger on the problem. Was there really any need to look further to discover why Gordon’s was struggling for survival?

Lexie pushed open the heavy oak door and marched in. A man was standing by the overstuffed chesterfield, the tartan one she particularly disliked. He was around six feet tall and strongly built, with wide shoulders and narrow hips, and he was casually dressed in a rugby shirt and jeans. One of the new guys from the removal firm, probably. She hadn’t seen him before.

Or had she? Although he was facing away from her, towards the back of the store, there was something disturbingly familiar about the figure.

‘Can I help you?’ she said, the nagging in the recesses of her brain making her voice sharper than usual. ‘We’re not actually open yet.’

He whipped round.

‘Christ! Where’d you materialise from? I didn’t hear you come in.’

Lexiewasn’t breathing. Why wasn’t she breathing? It should be simple, shouldn’t it? She did it all the time. She’d done it all her life, for heaven’s sake.

‘Cameron?’

The man stepped forward.

‘You haven’t changed a bit. Not even the hair, I ssee.’

Six years was a long time, yet it disappeared in an instant. Lexie’s lungs inflated with sweet oxygen before a sense of devastation caught the back of her knees. She was drowning in desire again, just as she always used to be. Shocked by her reaction, she forced herself to look amused – one humiliation by Cameron Forrester was enough for a lifetime.

‘Well, well, the wanderer returns. Have your folks killed the fatted calf?’

‘Nah. Mum won’t buy meat at the supermarket and the butcher’s closed since I was last here. She made apple crumble for me. I’ve missed crumble.’

His grin was just as Alexa remembered it: irrepressible. The smile faded as he scanned her face. He’d changed. Once, he would just have flashed a wink and cracked a joke; now there was something more observant – or was it more calculating? – in the way he was studying her.

‘Crumble, huh?’

The words emerged as a croak and she cleared her throat.

Cameron Forrester had been a member of the Hailesbank Hawks until injury had put him out of rugby for good. He still bore the scars: a broken nose that gave his face a lived-in look, and a scar under his chin from where a studded boot sliced it open in a hard-fought league game. ‘Badges of honour’, he used to say, when Lexie teased him about the nose or ran her fingers along the white seam of the scar.

‘You’re looking terrific.’

He took another step closer. Instinct made her edge away. How was it possible that he looked so like the Cameron she’d fallen in love with all those years ago?

‘Am I?’

Her reserve seemed to fluster him.

‘I’ve been away,’ he said needlessly. ‘Running activities for children on a cruise ship. Children! Me! Can you imagine?’

‘Not really, no.’

Questions scratched at her mind like horsehair. Does he know about Jamie? Does he know I’m back living in Hailesbank? Is that why he’s come?

‘So how are you, Lexie?’

He edged towards her for the third time. She clutched at a high-backed recliner, upholstered in gunmetal and steel blue chenille. The cloth felt coarse and unfriendly under her fingers, but this time she managed to stand her ground.

‘Why did you leave, Cameron?’

Why didn’t you write?

‘I heard about Jamie,’ he said. ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Thank you.’

The stock response slipped out before she could stop it. It was what she always said whenever anyone offered condolences. Damn him! Using Jamie as a personal shield was unforgivable.

‘What a bloody waste,’ he blurted out.

People didn’t usually say things like that. They tiptoed round the subject, they never trampled right through the heart of it.

‘Oops,’ he said, seeing her expression, ‘Sorry. Me and my mouth. But honestly, it’s true, isn’t it? Jamie had so much going for him.’

‘Can we leave this?’

‘Shit. I’m not good at—’

Lexieswung away. She spotted a sagging cushion on a nearby sofa and grabbed it, bashing the middle to plump it up. What are you good at, Cameron? Apart from breaking hearts.

‘Did you want something? I’ve got work to do.’

‘Just to say hi. And see if you’d meet me for a drink after you’re finished here.’

Meetyou?’

‘Well,’ he muttered, dropping his head in a semblance of repentance so that all she could see was a mass of thick, sandy hair. She didn’t need to stroke it to remember how it felt.

‘I owe you an explanation.’

‘I really don’t want to hear it.’

Liar! She really didwant to hear it, but six years of hurt got in the way of admitting this.

‘No. Fair enough.’

The grin was back, but wry – another new trait. Cameron had never been one for navel-gazing. He was a physical contact man. A cheerful, generous, blunder-in-feet-first-but-in-a-well-meaning-kind-of-way man. The absolute antithesis, now that she thought about it, of Patrick Mulgrew.

‘Take your point.’

He ran his hand through his thatch so that it stood momentarily on end before tumbling, in the old way, down across his eyes again. When he turned to go, she was conscious of disappointment. At the door the grin reappeared, spiced this time with mischief.

‘It’s okay, I can see you need time to get used to me being back. It doesn’t have to be today, we can meet up tomorrow. I’ll call you.’

Infuriated by his presumption, her spirit returned and she hurled the cushion at him.

‘Don’t bother! I won’t change my—’

But it fell, softly, a yard short and the heavy oak door swung on empty air.

Six years of silence and now he was back. Where did this leave her, for heaven’s sake?

Reader’s Nook: QA with Anjana from The Greedy Reader

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

About Anjana: I’m a Libran and I live and love life to the fullest. I’ve got 2 kids, who in equal parts inspire and exasperate me. Blogging has opened a whole new world for me and I’m loving it. I also blog at The Greedy Reader about one of my passions, books !”
Anjana also blogs on The Glass Bangle. And I happen to love her take on life and other things on her blog 🙂 Do check it out!

  1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
  • Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • Jane Eyre – Jane Austen
  • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson
  • Exodus – Leon Uris
  • Sister of my Heart – ChitraBanerjee Divakaruni
  • My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
  • Far Pavilions – M M Kaye
  • NeermathalamPoothaKalam (Malayalam) – Kamala Das
  • Sheer Mischief – Jill Mansell
  1. A book that you have re-read the most

Jane Eyre. I never grow tired of reading about Jane Eyre. Such a plucky heroine and the best thing Ilike about her is her strong belief in herself. Of course the gorgeous brooding Mr.Rochester adds to the allure J

3.Favourite authors and why

Kamala Das – For creating magic with her words. For constructing beautiful word pictures and taking the reader right into them.

Harper Lee – For creating amazing characters like Atticus Finch and Scout. For giving me idols, fictional admittedly, but who I can look up to.

Jill Mansell – For having the most spunky and interesting heroines I’ve ever read about. For creating  truly delightful worlds peopled by endearing characters. How I wish I could live at least for a short time in one of her novels J

  1. Genre you dislike

Paranormal, Science Fiction

  1. Character crush

Ari Ben Canan from Exodus written by Leon Uris. He’s a Jewish freedom fighter who’s strong, principled and kind.

  1. Character you strongly identify with

There’s no particular character as such , but I strongly identify with certain aspects of  different characters. I love

  • the independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
  • the quiet strength of Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre)
  • the zest for life of Zoya(The Zoya Factor)
  • the absolute belief that Scout has in her father, the way she sees him as a bastion of all that is good and moral (To Kill A Mockingbird)
  • The ability of Jennifer Parker to bounce right back with renewed vigour from the countless adversities that life hands to her. (Rage of Angels)

7.One character you want to bring to the real world

Atticus Finch. It would be great if he could be my neighbor, since I can have long conversations with him over ice-cold glasses of lemonade.

  1. What is your ideal reading space/environment?

Anywhere I’m undisturbed. Reading is a passion and so I just need a book and uninterrupted time J

  1. Must-have books in a collection

Power Of One – Bryce Courtenay

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Wheel of Time series – Robert Jordan

Calvin and Hobbes series

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

The entire P G Wodehouse collection

10.Earliest memory of books and reading

Poring over books in the Trivandrum Public Library when I was 7 or 8. Waiting eagerly for the story telling aunty to start her stories.

  1. Weirdest book or reading experience

The brother of a best-selling author, who himself had written a book, had come to my town for a book reading. He spoke quite eloquently about himself and I had very high expectations from the book. It was a shock to my system when I actually read the book. It was such a let down!


How about taking part in this series? Contact me and I will reach out to you with the questions 🙂

We Are Readers

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

We are readers…

There are chances you will spot us. In a park, on a bench.

At the cafeteria, probably by a window.  In the tube/sub or at a quaint little street.

On rooftops in the setting sun. On rooftops in the rising sun.

In transit from one continent to another – airport lounges and mid air.

At bookstores, catching a whiff. Fillings carts with books and filling lungs with the smell of books.

In libraries, amidst our kith and kin – having lived similar lives, embarked on similar journeys through stories.

We also hide books within books to let not the world know we are ‘UP TO SOMETHING‘.

Strain eyes to read under sheets with a torch. Take our books everywhere. Even the loo.

Raise your hand, if you are a reader too!

Reader’s Nook: QA with McCallum J. Morgan

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

BIO: McCallum J. Morgan is a twenty year-old author from Bonners Ferry, Idaho. A Hole in the Ice is his debut novel, which he worked on for five years. He enjoys writing, reading, painting, sketching, sewing, watching old horror movies, and playing the occasional game of volleyball. And tea. Don’t forget the tea. Find out more at mccallumjmorgan.weebly.com
1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel, The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Predator’s Gold by Phillip Reeve, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket.
2. A book that you have re-read the most
The Series of Unfortunate Events.
3.Favourite authors and why
Lemony Snicket—his wicked humor. Phillip Reeve—his world building and characterizations. Kenneth Oppel—his gripping writing.
4. Genre you dislike
Romance.
5. Character crush
Hmm…The White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia.
6. Character you strongly identify with
Frankenstein’s monster 😀
7.One character you want to bring to the real world
NOT Frankenstein’s monster.
8. What is your ideal reading space/environment
I think a window seat with a little bit of sun (not too much or the pages get blinding) and roses outside would be ideal.
9. Must-have books in a collection
Dracula, Frankenstein, Faust (by Von Goethe), A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, Metropolis by Thea Von Harbou.
10.Earliest memory of books and reading
Mom reading me the Hobbit.
11. Weirdest book or reading experience
The Hanging Woods by Scott Loring Sanders. Just unexpected and unpleasant.

These were some interesting answers! What about you? If you are interested in taking part in this series, I am just a ping away! 🙂

Reader’s Nook: QA with Chhimi

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Author Bio: Half Tibetan, half English, Chhimi Tenduf-La has lived in Sri Lanka, on and off, for thirty years. Educated at Eton and Durham, he runs an international school in Colombo, teaches economics and provides university counselling. His first book, The Amazing Racist, was published in January 2015 and Panther was released in July of the same year.

What I have to say about Chhimi: He is a down-to-earth persona and is extremely polite. I have interacted with him many times virtually and it is always a delight to know more about him and his work. Also, I have just read one of his books and he writes well. I will soon read and review his next work – Panther.

Here are the questions answered by Chhimi. 🙂

  1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

Fight Club, Catch 22, Chinaman, The Sense of an Ending, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Of Mice and Men.

  1. A book that you have re-read the most

Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilika because I loved it and also for my own education writing about Sri Lanka.

3.Favourite authors and why

I find it hard to name my favourite authors, but I do like South Asian writers just because I live here now and it is what I am familiar with. Also I love any author who praises my books.

  1. Genre you dislike

Fantasy, but that is a bit unfair as I have not read any. I just can’t get into anything with dragons.

  1. Character crush

That’s a brilliant question but it’s very hard to answer. In real life I like good girls, but maybe in fiction I’m drawn more to bad girls, like the women I write about. So maybe Amy in Gone Girl.

  1. Character you strongly identify with

Yossarian in Catch 22. Just the way he looks at things with humour.

7.One character you want to bring to the real world

Allan Karlsson in the 100 Year Old Man who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared. This is a man who tells stories about sitting the North Korean Supreme Leader on his lap.

  1. What is your ideal reading space/environment

On a sunbed by a pool, under an umbrella. With a two year old daughter, I no longer get the chance to do this. Now my reading space is with her on my shoulders.

  1. Must-have books in a collection

If not for my kindle, I would have no books in my collection. I give all the books I like to someone else to read. If I don’t like a book, I give it on to someone I don’t like (just joking). If I ever want to read the book again, I am more likely to do so if I don’t have it in my collection than if I do, for some reason.
10.Earliest memory of books and reading

I remember those books for kids where you had to choose your own ending. I loved them and I guess that is why I like whodunits now because I have to think about what I think will happen next.

  1. Weirdest book or reading experience

There are a number of books I have started that are a bit weird and I try to work out whether the author is a genius or just pretentious. It is normally the latter.  Chuck Palahniuk’s books are pretty odd. I loved that about Fight Club but some of his others are a little too weird for me even though I still really like them.


Want to feature in Reader’s Nook? Drop me a message here or on my mail ID and I will promptly get in touch with you 🙂

 

Reader’s Nook: QA with Kim

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Bio: Kim blogs at – The Booklover. She is a business educator by day and book blogger during off time. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University (BBA), Kennesaw State University (MBA), and The University of West Georgia (M.Ed. and Ed.S.).

1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
2. A book that you have re-read the most
3.Favourite authors and why
4. Genre you dislike
5. Character crush
6. Character you strongly identify with
7.One character you want to bring to the real world
8. What is your ideal reading space/environment
9. Must-have books in a collection
10.Earliest memory of books and reading
11. Weirdest book or reading experience

1. Favorite books: The Orphanmaster’s Son by Adam Johnson, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, The City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw, Night Film by Marissa Pessl,  and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.
2.  I don’t really re-read books because there are too many books to read in this lifetime, so there isn’t really time to go back and re-read one.  If I were going to choose one to re-read right now, it would probably be A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.
3.  I like Umberto Eco because his subject matter is so interesting.  David Mitchell is a standout, although I don’t necessarily agree with his messaging.  Authors I plan to read again soon are Donna Tartt, Adam Johnson, and John Burdette.
4.  I dislike romance as a genre.  It is so predictable and I don’t even like romance in the story except on the rare occasion. For example, the romance really ruined A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness for me.
5.  My character crush is so predictable – Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.
6.  I strongly identify with Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter series.
7.  Father Peter in The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
8.  My ideal reading environment would be outside in a beautiful garden with NO mosquitos!  They eat me up.
9.  I don’t have any of them, but would love to have the entire set of Penguin Hardcover Classics with cover by Coralie Bickford-Smith.  Those are beautiful books.  I will take donations if anybody is willing!
10.  My mother was a librarian, so my earliest memories are of going to the library with her.  I loved the library in my hometown.  It was in a log cabin built in 1792, but has since moved to a larger more modern facility.
11.  The weirdest book I’ve read is The Celestine Prophecy.  It really is a waste of time.

Love books and reading? Be a participant in Reader’s Nook. I will be happy to feature you! 🙂

Reader’s Nook: QA with Susan Tarr

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

About Susan: Susan is a very lively person, whom I came across through Goodreads. She currently resides in New Zealand and I envy her for being a part of the place where Lord of The Rings was shot 🙂 Without shameless gushing about fandoms, let me quickly give you a link of her website – http://susan-tarr-author.webnode.com/. Go through her answers for Reader’s Nook.


1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
~~ God Knows by Joseph Heller
~~ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
~~ An Angel at my Table by Janet Frame (honoured New Zealand author on mental health)
~~ Spring Sonata by Bernice Rubens
~~ Geek Love
~~ Of Mice and Men & Pearl by John Steinbeck
~~ The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
~~ And of course, anything by Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult

2. A book that you have re-read the most

~~ I save all my favourite books, and read them all again.

3.Favourite authors and why

~~ John Steinbeck – His writing is both gentle and impacting.

~~ Louis de Bernieres

~~ Doris Lessing

4. Genre you dislike

~~ Erotica or cult

5. Character crush

~~ I don’t have a particular character crush, but there are a couple of people I wouldn’t mind crushing. The people who borrow my books and never return them. (I know, I should write a list!)

6. Character you strongly identify with

~~ In my books, Miranda and Bethany. They are part me and part my daughter.

7.One character you want to bring to the real world

~~ Both of my favourites are already in the real world. Miranda and Bethany from MIRANDA BAY & When the ROLLER COASTER Stops.

8. What is your ideal reading space/environment

~~ On my bed, nestled in pillows, coffee and nibbles, and my ereader.

9. Must-have books in a collection

~~ Mine!
PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children (Historic Fiction Mental Health)
MIRANDA BAY (Gorgeous young thing attempting to build up a tourism resort in New Zealand – she hasn’t a clue! Humorous drama)
JACK just an ordinary dog in the dog house (Jack, the dog, decides to write a diary about what really goes on in a boarding kennels. Humorous dog story)
When the ROLLER COASTER Stops (Another gorgeous young thing. Medical drama. Humorous. Inspirational)

All of my books are listed here: http://enovelauthorsatwork.com/susan-tarr/

10.Earliest memory of books and reading

~~ Famous Five and Secret Seven and of course Noddy and Big Ears. These were pretty much our required reading.

11. Weirdest book or reading experience

~~ Geek Love. I admired this old book, when I wasn’t in shock!, and I loaned it to someone – who now deserves to be crushed as above. Lol.


Love the series and want to be a part of it? Get in touch with me and I will have you featured! 🙂

Reader’s Nook: QA with Akansha Varma

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Bio: I’m a seventeen year old Indian, extremely shy, introvert and hate social gatherings, unless initiated by me. I am interested in English literature and I want to become either: 1) a journalist 2) an author 3) an architect. I want to live in New York and travel the world and after retirement, I want to live in the English country side.  I love laying down, and am very, very, very, very lazy. My favorite movies are Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kal Ho Na Ho. And I’m a romantic at heart. I like One Tree Hill too. I am yet to skydive, deep sea dive, bungee jump and climb the Everest. There’s a lot to be done. And so little time.
You can learn more about me and read my stuff at https://akankshavarma.wordpress.com/. Have fun, and enjoy.
1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books
The Book Thief, Harry Potter series, Those Pricey Thakur Girls, Hunger Games trilogy, Marley And Me, Perks Of Being A Wallflower and A Thousand Splendid Suns are my top ones.
2. A book that you have re-read the most.
Harry Potter or Those Pricey Thakur Girls.
3.Favourite authors and why
JK Rowling because she is godess. Ruskin Bond because his characters are lively, relatable and capture the essence of what he wants to convey. Agatha Christie because she creates suspense.
4. Genre you dislike
Not really dislike but unfathomable because I don’t relate with it: Science fiction.
5. Character crush
Dylan Shekhawat from Those Pricey Thakur Girls, Fred Weasley, Gale Hawthorne and Noah Calhoun. Also Laurie from Jo’s Boys.
6. Character you strongly identify with
Jo from Little Women.
7.One character you want to bring to the real world
Um, that’s a tough one. Severus Snape, Rudy Steiner, Liesel Meminger, Dylan Shekhawat, Katniss Everdeen, Four and Hermione Granger.
8. What is your ideal reading space/environment
Mostly, I read while travelling to my school. Otherwise, it is my bed, with a warm quilt, 2-3 pillows, air conditioned room without interruption.
9. Must-have books in a collection
The Book Thief. I would have said Harry Potter but I know a few people who don’t find it endearing. They say it’s beyond their imagination. The Book Thief on the other hand, will change your perspective entirely.
10.Earliest memory of books and reading
It’s not a memory rather it is about how I started reading in the first place. I was in class 4 when I had gone to a stationery shop to buy something for a project. There, my eyes on the red Famous Five and I found it interesting. I begged my father to buy me the book. My mother resented though since she thought that as I don’t read books, it’ll be pretty useless. My father consented though, and he brought that for me. After that, there was no stopping me.
11. Weirdest book or reading experience
I would describe my weirdest reading experience to be half Fifty Shades Of Grey that I read. I could read only half of it was because I didn’t have the heart to read the entire book, let alone the trilogy. I can assure you however, my grossing-out level is so low, I regularly threw up inside my mouth. It was disgusting. And the weird thing was I coudn’t stay away from it either. I just reread the part I already had read for some time, and then gave up entirely.

How about you share your book/reading experiences in this space? Let me know if you are up for it.

Lessons Learnt: The Book Thief

I stumbled upon The Book Thief while combing through new arrivals at the library of a school, where I worked as an educator. Unfortunately though, I did not have the time to pursue the book and had to return it without reading a page. It was the first edition of the book and it was in 2009. After many years and many jobs later, when I turned a writer – of a different sort of course, I chanced upon The Book Thief again and decided to give all my extra time and undivided attention to the book. Having a deep set curiosity about the Holocaust and Holocaust literature in particular, I kept on reading the pages till one fine day, there were no more pages left for me to explore. I have been meaning to write a review ever since that day but I think with so many reviews of the wonderful book, I will crumble and not do justice! Instead, I thought of this post series where I will write about the lessons learnt from the brilliant work by Marcus Zusak. Let it begin 🙂


Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

  • You will find the most unusual narrator for your books. Death is the narrator for The Book Thief. And he does a wonderful job of it. No, not death. Marcus Zusak!
  • You will never feel like wasting food at the table. Never. Or at least think of the situations in a WWII era with limited rations.
  • You will find a Rudy Steiner and a Liesel Meminger in your friends. Maybe a Max as well.
  • Reading will look more appealing to you and so will be writing.
  • Maybe, you will know how to prioritize things in your life. You will understand why “the most important things in life aren’t things” in the true sense.
  • You will be thankful for having so many privileges. You really will.
  • You will get a new perspective about Death.
  • You will have a bunch of quotes to guide you in your life.
  • Saukerl and Saumensch. You will learn how to swear in German. Like a PRO!

Read the book guys and girls. It is lengthy but it is speedy. It is a tearjerker….saying for those of you who need tissues with some books. But it also has its share of laughter and bittersweet joys!

Guestpost: Happiness is part of the Self by Erika

Prologue: First of all I want to pass on a big, big hug to Sucheta for inviting me not only for an interview on her blog but also for this guest post. It came to me out of the blue and I feel honored I was considered. Feel strongly hugged again, Sucheta!

My book I’m Free – Awareness of Who You Are by Discovering Who You Are Not!Is a guide from fear, self-doubt, and misunderstandings accumulated over a life time to awareness, clarity, and a conscious reconnecting with the powerful and creative spirit we are. When we feel this connection, we have access to unlimited possibilities in order to live the life we always dreamed of. Happiness  – real solid happiness– results from it. I thought this might be an interesting topic for this guest post. I hope you enjoy it.


Image Source: Wikimedia

Image Source: Wikimedia

Everybody wants to be happy. But still so many people believe that happiness is something they get from outside. But that’s not true.

True happiness is an aspect of our Self. We don’t need to hope for it, beg for it, or even fight for it. Don’t fight for anything. Fighting for something says that you believe in a lack. You believe that you lost something or something was taken from you. Fighting for happiness would mean that happiness is something you have to get, something you could lose, or something you are gifted with. Fighting for happiness is a conviction that you need to get it from outside.

But this whole fight is a big misunderstanding. You are created from the image of God which means you are love with everything you are. You are light and bliss into the deepest core of your being. Happiness is an inseparable part of this love. So how could you ever need to fight for happiness when it has always been part of yourself?

Let the outside world be outside and make yourself aware of who you are. You will find happiness and any empowering feeling always (and only) within you. Yes, we can be inspired by the outside world to rediscover happiness. But even then it leads us inside again where this flame has always been burning. Everything you were looking and fighting for so desperately lies within you waiting patiently for the moment to be called from its sleep. It has been never gone but only unseen because of a misunderstanding due to the belief into an illusion.

Whenever you think you had to fight for love, peace, happiness than just because you started to believe more in what you see outside of you instead of what you are always connected with, always have, and never can lose. Of course there can be events in our lives which can make us sad. But sadness is not the same like unhappiness. I was very sad when my father died, I was sad when my pets died. I was sad when I had to let go of dreams. But what kept my feet on the ground was the carpet of happiness I have been walking on. This happiness as a basic condition. It is the reason for my power and strength during sad times. Happiness is an aspect of love. Love is God and you are an aspect of God. Carrying his spark within you. Happiness is always with you.

Whatever good you have is all from God.

Whatever evil, all is from yourself.

– The Koran

In Love and Light!


I thank Erika for this lovely post. You can go through her own blog by clicking here.

 

Reader’s Nook: QA with Michelle

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Bio: Michelle is a soon-to-be journalism student, aspiring writer and bookworm. She is very curious and righteous and wants to make a difference in the world, through journalism and writing, as the latter is her passion. It’s her dream to one day find her own books in the bookstore, and that these books can be for her readers what Harry Potter is for her.
 
She blogs at http://thewritinghufflepuff.wordpress.com mainly about books and writing, but now and then there are posts about her personal life and her other passions, like all things Japan, Disney, certain tv shows, games, food, music… But in the end it all comes back to reading and writing books.

1. Name 5-10 of your most favourite books

Bless you for allowing me to name more than one haha. I mean Harry Potter will always be my ultimate favourite, but I have so many more: Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Throne of Glass, The Lunar Chronicles, The Shadowhunter Chronicles (major cheating here as this consists multiple series but ssh), The Picture of Dorian Gray, Alice in Wonderland and Fangirl. I cheated a lot since most of these are series, but oh well! I already left out a few that I didn’t want to leave out haha. 

2. A book that you have re-read the most
 
Harry Potter. I’m not sure, but I think that out of the entire series I’ve reread Philosopher’s Stone the most.
 
3.Favourite authors and why
 
I’m going with my two favourite authors: J.K. Rowling for making my childhood so much more magical and being a great inspiration, both writing and person-wise. Rick Riordan for his brilliant way of interweaving myths into our modern world and his great sense of humor (which is a lot like mine). Of course I have many more, but I don’t want to bore you all haha. 

4. Genre you dislike
 
I think erotica. I’ve never read it, but for my Dutch class I had to read quite a bit of literature that had very graphic scenes in it and that wasn’t even considered erotica. If I didn’t like reading those scenes, then I highly doubt I’ll enjoy erotica!

5. Character crush
 
Haha *enrolls huge list*. I don’t think it’s possible to have only one character crush (if you do I admire you). I’m going to go with Étienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss as I’ve recently reread it and once I again I found myself screaming ‘WHERE IS MY ST. CLAIR’. Mind you I don’t yell this out loud. What would the neighbours think!

6. Character you strongly identify with
 
Hermione Granger and Cath from Fangirl. Hermione is not just a bookworm, she’s also very serious about her studies which I can relate to. People bully her because of this, but she overcame this and became a wonderful inspiration for little me who was also bullied for the same reason. Cath is also a bookworm, but she’s also a fangirl and a writer. She also deals with anxiety and doesn’t do well in social situations (reading Fangirl was like reading about my life, minus college, minus a twin, minus being famous in a fandom/on fanfiction.net and sadly minus Levi). 

7.One character you want to bring to the real world
 
ONE? JUST ONE?! I was going to go with Hermione, but then I realised that Cath and I could be writer buddies: beta-ing each other, writing stories together, talking about our stories etc. And as much as I love Hermione, it’d be nice to have a real-life writer friend!

8. What is your ideal reading space/environment
 
My bed and with not too much noise. I don’t need complete quiet, but I don’t need a concert near me either!

9. Must-have books in a collection
 
In general? Or for me? I have to admit that whenever I see pictures of peoples shelves I immediately start looking for Harry Potter haha, so I guess Harry is a must for me. But of course I won’t hate you if you don’t have Harry on your shelves! 

10.Earliest memory of books and reading
 
I sort of remember my grandmother and mother reading to me, but it’s a very vague memory so I can’t say that much about it.

11. Weirdest book or reading experience
 
Weirdest book… Hmm, I’m sure I’ve read weird books but right now none come to mind! A weird reading experience… Last year when I read The Picture of Dorian Gray I read that Dorian (I think? I’m not sure which character it was, but I think it was him) was planting puppies instead of poppies (which makes a lot more sense of course). I don’t know if that counts as a weird reading experience, but that’s what I thought of! 

This was from Michelle and she got 100 points for Hufflepuff 😀 Want to be a part of this series? Feel free to comment and let me know 🙂