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#Author #Interview with Damyanti Biswas ( @damyantig ) About Her Debut Novel #YouBeneathYourSkin proceeds to go to @projectwhydelhi & @stopacidattacks

You Beneath Your Skin Cover

Recently had the pleasure to interview author Damyanti Biswas about her debut novel “You Beneath Your Skin”. Welcome, Damyanti! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your debut novel, “You Beneath Your Skin”.

You beneath Your Skin” is my debut published by Simon And Schuster. It is a literary crime novel set in New Delhi, about a woman who suffers an acid attack, against the background of a crime spree. I’ve been writing short stories for more than a decade, and they’ve been published in a few venues, and for the last three years, I have been one of the editors of the Forge Literary Magazine.

Please share with us what was the inspiration behind your novel?

You Beneath Your Skin” was written over six years, so I don’t know if there was a firm inspiration. Anjali’s character came to me first, and I kept going back to her. Her son, her lover, her friend, her troubles. The rest of the novel came from there.

 You are a very prolific writer, how was working on this novel different from your previous work?

I’ve written “You Beneath Your Skin” over many drafts. 15 rewrites, 15 edits, and many rounds of copyedits. I draft my work several times of course, but this one took more patience and perseverance that anything I’ve ever done.

 As an author what does your average work/writing day look like? Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I do not have average days—my days are all different. Some days I write like a maniac for 14 hours, and others, I don’t write at all. Most days I try to get in a long walk, some exercise, a bit of gardening and cooking. I try to write either in complete silence at home and if the words don’t come, at a busy café with white noise earphones. Once in a while I would use a song when writing characters—I did that a fair bit for “You Beneath Your Skin.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a writer and how do you overcome them?

The biggest challenge is within. Mostly, it is about writing without any expectations. To write a novel over months and years needs a lot of discipline and self-motivation, and to sustain this gets difficult on days when the words don’t pour out or the rejections trickle in. The writing life is a head game. To keep at it despite the obstacles can be a challenge sometimes, but I don’t know that I have any tips to overcome them. I cope with self-doubt and disappointment from rejections by writing for fun, for no reason at all. That always reminds me why I wanted to write in the first place, to create worlds, to go out of myself, and for a sense of immersion.

What advice would you give someone new to writing?

Writing is about writing. Not reading about writing. Not writing about writing. Writing is also about figuring out your own process, about listening to advice but taking only that which works for you. About true clichés like hard work and grit and not giving up. It is also about reading a lot, pretty regularly.

What message do you hope your readers take away with them after reading your book?

I don’t necessarily think You beneath Your Skin does or needs to, carry a message. When I began writing it, I had no message in mind. Now I feel it is about appearances and reality, and the ability to look beneath the surface. About women and their place in this world. I had set out to tell a good story, but I hope readers carry away an experience of what it is to be a person in New Delhi in contemporary India.

Can you tell us what is coming up for you and where can we find you online?

I’m on my website http://www.damyantiwrites.com, and that will connect you to my entire online presence. I’m continuing to write more crime novels and short stories, and am currently wrapping up travels in India about You Beneath Your Skin.

About You Beneath Your Skin

Review Blurbs

“You Beneath Your Skin” is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered. While the framework is that of a thriller, the novel threads together different narrative strands. The author tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it, adults or children. Of these, the issue of crimes against women is the strongest—why do men attack women? Why do they gang together? What happens when a woman tries to break the glass ceiling? Can toxic masculinity masquerade as benevolent patriarchy? Parents would also find this novel fascinating: how do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? How much do you know about your teenager’s life? If you’re the parent of special needs child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect? It is a whodunnit, but also a whydunnit because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin. The narrative of the book was researched and shaped during the author’s work with ProjectWHY and some of the experiences generously shared by acid attack survivors from the non-profit Stop Acid Attacks. To return this debt of gratitude, all author proceeds from the book will go to these two non-profits.

D Biswas Bio PictureAbout the Author 

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter. All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and StopAcid Attacks.

I would like to thank Damyanti for taking the time to speak with us, please Check back next week to read my review of “You Beneath Your Skin“! 

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer#Historical #Mystery #Sherlock

Review

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols Cover

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols

Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D.

by Nicholas Meyer

Release date: October 15th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols
(Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D.) by Nicholas Meyer from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/MacMillan in order to read and give an honest review.

” …an intelligent and intriguing read …”

I have always been a fan of author Arthur Conan Doyle and have always loved stories that bring the brilliant duo back to life. In The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols, Nicholas Meyer does just that.   At an auction, a newly discovered mysterious journal of Dr JohnWatson surfaces with the notes from a 1905 investigation: The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols. After a lengthy absence from his partner Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson a newlywed and very busy physician is drawn back into the life when a murder points to a mysterious document, zionists, antisemitism and political corruption. Fiction mixed with real events in history this is a unique approach taking us on the Orient Express from Paris to Russia. Holmes, Watson and their fiery and very beautiful translator, Anna Strunsky are on a quest to find the original source of the document and the corruption behind it. They are chased by a wide-reaching group who wants to stop them from asking questions that could disrupt their plans and destroy their future!

I have to say although slow to get into at first I enjoyed it and found it an intelligent and intriguing read that I would definitely recommend!

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron #Mindfulness #Meditation #Bodhisattva

Review

Welcoming the Unwelcome

Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World

by Pema Chodron

Release date: October 8th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron from NetGalley and Shambhala Publications, Inc. in order to read and give an honest review.

“…is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again…”

I recently became a fan of Pema Chodron after reading Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears and was so pleased to hear she had a new book coming out. Just beginning my journey toward Bodhisattva, I appreciate her downtoearth and non-intimidating approach to Buddhist teachings.  

In Welcoming the Unwelcome Chodron offers us wisdom on how to face the often overwhelming and uncomfortable aspects of life, embracing our emotions about those aspects while fostering a sense of peace by putting things in perspective. Each chapter discusses a particular practice with stories of others as well as personal insight about her journey.  The overall message to me was learning to see both the positives and negatives in ourselves in order to foster a level of understanding of our vulnerabilities and to help us to gain insight and compassion towards others. 

Throughout the book, Chodron offers us spiritual teachings to awaken us and assist us through our journey towards enlightenment. Although the practices are discussed in detail in each chapter, she has been kind enough to include a detailed outline of the practices at the back where they are mentioned in a more direct “how-to” approach. This book is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again learning more each time I read it.  

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Books of the Dead: A Death in Paris Mystery by Emilia Bernhard via @crookedlanebks #Mystery

Review

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The Books of the Dead

A Death in Paris Mystery #2

by Emilia Bernhard

Release date: October 8th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Books of the Dead
(A Death in Paris Mystery #2) by Emilia Bernhard from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Having read Ms Bernhard’s first book in the series, Death in Paris, I have to say she has outdone herself!

Best friends Rachel and Magda are at it again after being persistent amateur sleuths and beating the police in solving a murder in the first book of the series Death in Paris.  This time when dining at a small cafe Rachel stumbles across the body of a male librarian from the Bibliothèque National.  Reuniting with Capitaine Boussicault, she is thrilled when he asks her to go undercover as a volunteer at the library to observe after a previous murder had occurred as well. Rachel is thrilled to be given the opportunity, unfortunately, Magda feels left out when the mission is only for Rachel.  Although just meant to observe Rachel gets pulled deeper into the investigation which appears to be linked to missing antiquarian illustrations.  After overstepping boundaries Rachel eventually gets dismissed by the police but is determines to solve the crime needing her best friend Magda’s help.  Working together they work to solve the two murders.

After reading several very “heavy” books this was a fun and intriguing cozy murder mystery which kept me guessing to the very end.  I was sure I knew who did it but was left second-guessing after coming across some very cleverly placed red herrings. I also love the quirky, flawed and very fun characters that Ms Bernhard has created.

This book would be great as a stand-alone, but I do recommend reading the first as it is also a fantastic read, both I feel are suitable for most ages.  A fun, brilliant read that will keep you turning pages!

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman #Holocaust #HistoricalFiction #MagicRealism

The World That We Knew

by Alice Hoffman

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Release date: September 24th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

A huge fan of Alice Hoffman I was eager to read “The World That We Knew” and I was not disappointed.  This is a beautifully-written, heartbreaking and poignant story following the lives of Jewish children fleeing the German occupation.

…a hauntingly meaningful story filled with good vs. evil and shows what love, family, loyalty and survival mean during the darkest moments of humanity…

When Hanni Kohn realizes she must send her daughter Lea away to safety from the German occupation she is aware she cannot go with her.  Hanni looks for a suitable escort who would love and protect her daughter the way she would while she must stay to care for her invalid mother.  Desperate she remembers the story of the Golem from Jewish folklore and enlists the help of her local Rabbis daughter, Ettie.  One dark night Ettie, her sister Marta and Hanni break curfew to go to the water and create a Golem named Ava out of the pure river clay. Ava’s sole purpose in life is to protect Lea and lead her to safety. In return for creating the Golem, Ettie receives payment and insists that she and her sister be able to join Ava and Lea.  They initially board a train to head to her mother’s cousins in Paris and are separated while escaping the Nazi’s as they take over the train. Once in Paris, Lea and Ava form strong bonds with the two sons until the Nazi’s occupy Paris forcing the children to flee again together. Separated along the way they cross paths with others, creating friendships, sharing bonds and losing people along the way trying to reach safety at the Swiss border. Their stories interconnect and show the resilience of bonds tested by events that would be devastating to adults.  Although the story shows Ava who communes with Angels and can foresee futures, the magic realism doesn’t overshadow the story of what the children endure during the Nazi occupation. 

Knowing and having connections with several Holocaust survivors over the years and hearing their stories, Hoffmans’ story feels so incredibly real. Showing the holocaust through the eyes of children is gutwrenching but this book was perhaps one of the most emotionally difficult to read was one that will stick with me for a long time. This really is a hauntingly meaningful story filled with good vs. evil and shows what love, family, loyalty and survival mean during the darkest moments of humanity.  I would definitely recommend and beware it’s an emotional rollercoaster!

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#NetGalley #BookReview of Fallen by Benedict Jacka #AlexVerus #UrbanFantasy

Review

Fallen by Benedict Jacka Cover

Fallen

Alex Verus #10

by Benedict Jacka

Release date: September 24th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Fallen (Alex Verus #10) by Benedict Jacka from NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group/ Penguin Random House in order to read and give an honest review.

… is a brilliant, page-turner which is perhaps my favourite in the series…

I am a huge fan of Benedict Jacka and was so I was thrilled for the opportunity to read and review the tenth instalment in his Alex Verus series. I really enjoy this series, it’s such a unique, fast-paced urban fantasy, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem.    

Definitely not a stand-alone, Fallen picks up with the fallout from San Vittore as witnessed in his last book Marked.  So much has happened to Mage Alex Verus and his friends and in this book, we see Alex face a whole new set of challenges. The council becomes a huge issue and we see a significant departure from the normal Alex we’ve followed through the previous books. In Fallen, we see the “normal’ good guy Verus, change into a more ruthless and cut-throat Alex.  Sadly, we also say goodbye (hopefully, not permanently) to a main and much-beloved character and Alex’s old life as he knew it. This book has the usual cast of characters, Anne, Luna Varium, Arachne, the quirky air elemental, Starbreeze and some of the ones we love to hate. Dark mage Richard, Rachel/Deleo, Onyx and Cinder all reappear to make this perhaps one of the more action-packed books in the series to date.

As always, Jacka does an amazing job and putting Alex in almost inescapable situations where he’s damned if he does or damned if he doesn’t and Fallen is no exception. The Council decides to put a warrant out for both Anne and Alex their life is changed forever. On the run, and using stones to jump through gate after gate, they also have to contend with another problem. When Richard hatches a plan that involves capturing Anne and forcing her to do his bidding Versus must fight for her even if it means his death.

Without giving away much more this is such a brilliant, page-turner and I have to say is perhaps my favourite in the series! I would highly recommend it!

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards #Mystery #GoldenAge

 

Review

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Gallows Court

by Martin Edwards

Release date: September 17th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards from NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

“…interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings.”

New to author Martin Edwards, I am so impressed with Gallows Court! This novel is right out of the Golden Age of Mystery and I loved it! Edwards has created an intriguing and dynamic story to rival those of such greats as Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen but with his own unique twist. 

Set in  London, 1930, ambitious crime writer Jacob Flint tries to work his way up the ladder at a disreputable rag called “The Clarion”. Pursuing a story about a string of mysterious deaths, his path crosses with the late Judge Savernake’s daughter, Rachel Savernake an amateur sleuth, who was capable of solving a crime that had Scotland stymied. Getting a scoop from the infamous and very wealthy Ms Savernake would catapult him to the top of his field. While fed anonymous tips, interviewing witnesses and following bizarre leads Jacob is led into some questionable situations which seem to cast his suspicions on Rachel and makes him realize there is more going on than meets the eye.  

This book had it all, interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot, filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings. All in all an extremely satisfying read and one that I highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview How to #Draw and #Write in #FountainPen A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura

 

Review

How to Draw and Write in FountainPen

A Modern Guide

by Ayano Usamura

Release date: September 17th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of How to Draw and Write in FountainPen
A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura from NetGalley and The Experiment Publishing Company in order to read and give an honest review.

“a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or  love to add a little creativity to their journals…”

Whether you’re familiar with using a fountain pen or a complete novice this book offers how-to’s, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of writing with a fountain pen.  I have been using a fountain pen since I inherited my grandfather’s old Sheaffer Imperial when I was eight years old (many moons ago). I still have that pen but over the years have added about 15 more to my collection.  Although I have always written with them, I have never used fountain pens favouring technical pens for any inked artistic drawings. 

I have been journaling for years and over the past few have decided to add art and organization to my journalling practice.  My bullet journal has evolved from simple to-do lists into an artistic, fun, motivating and inspiring record of plans, goals and trackers. This book is fantastic in the fact it offers so much that both novice and experienced users will find useful. I for one loved the detailed how-tos for creating quick fun doodles for my bujo spreads which I am now using my fountain pens to create.

I highly recommend this book, it’s a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or love to add a little creativity to their journals.

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#NetGalley #BookReview of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow #SciFi #Fantasy #Portals

Review

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

by Alix E. Harrow

Release date: September 10th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Since tales of Narnia and Oz, stories about secret portals to other worlds have been embraced by readers young and old.  The idea of quickly transporting to new and exciting locations always seems to thrill us and the Ten Thousand Doors of January is no exception.  Author Alix E. Harrow beautifully crafts her debut novel to appeal to those who love to escape into the written word.  

The author introduces us to a young January Scaller who is intelligent, well-read and inquisitive.  Her father a treasure hunter of sorts has left January in the care of his employer a rather wealthy and well-respected collector, Mr Locke, after her mother’s disappearance. Being of mixed race at the turn of the century, January has always felt out of place in Mr Locke’s social circle but Mr Locke and his money have always provided her with more than she needs. Well educated, well cared for and lavished with gifts, January has it all but is still unhappy. Her father Julian is always away hunting down artefacts for Mr Locke, leaving January alone much of the time. Although lonely and missing her father she has one friend, the local grocer’s son, Samuel who gives her a pup called Bad (Sinbad) so she never feels alone, cements their friendship which will endure time and the trials which lie ahead.  

January discovers a strange door, which, at the time she doesn’t realize, will change the course of her life forever. When a mysterious friend of her father, Jane, comes to assist Mr Locke in January’s care she gets the friendship of another woman. When she receives a mysterious book on her seventeenth birthday which delves into mysterious doors to new worlds and the intriguing adventures of Adelaid Lee Larson, she discovers much more than she bargained for.   When Mr Locke begins realizing that January is close to discovering a secret, a secret that he has kept at all costs, her kindly old guardian and his friends become her worse nightmare come true. Isolated from her friends and facing insurmountable odds, she realizes what true friendship is when her friends’ rally around her and begin an adventure that will change their lives forever. 

Without giving too much away Ms Harrow has crafted an incredible novel that is full of intelligence, beauty, whimsy, tragedy and just pure entertainment.  Well-written, with unique multi-faceted characters and imaginative plotlines, this is perhaps one of my favourite reads of the year and I highly recommend it!  

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#NetGalley #BookReview A Course in Meditation A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness by Osho #Health #Mindfulness #Meditation

Review

A Course in Meditation

A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness

by Osho

Release date: September 3rd, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Course in Meditation:
A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness by Osho from NetGalley and Crown Publishing/Harmony in order to read and give an honest review.

“…well-written, user-friendly and Osho’s experience and wisdom shines through…”

Whether you’re experienced in meditation or new to the practice, A Course in Meditation: A 21-Day Workout for Your Consciousness by Osho is a great book for everyone.

I gravitated towards meditation when I was facing health issues and found it so beneficial but sadly over the spring, I hadn’t been as consistent. I have to admit “A Course in Meditation”, a twenty-one-day course, really helped me get back on track and I am happy to say I am now back to a daily practice.

Each day the book tackles a subject whether it is relating, balance, anger or maturity, just to name a few, you get Osho’s insights, meditations and techniques to help you put the concepts into practice, and each day finishes with a quote to keep you inspired all day.

This is a book I would highly recommend, it’s well-written, user-friendly and Osho’s experience and wisdom shines through! A must-have for all those who would like to have more balance in their lives and enhance their well-being.