Small Screen Big Lies; Kish, Wisdom Village Publications, Rs.150.

Dashing television host Steve Saunders has it all; a killer smile, a lucrative career and an exciting life. Until one day, rumours start flying about a mysterious woman who is responsible for the exit of Steve’s closest rival, Tyler. Thus begins a tale of intrigue and suspense woven into a complex web of deceit, blackmail and struggle for power.

The Book of Joshua; Tanya Mendonsa, HarperCollins India, Rs.299.

This story takes you on a joyous romp through Paris and the South of France; it shows you the colonial city of Bangalore, the sun-splashed beaches of Goa and the blue mountains of the Nilgiris. You meet two irrepressible human beings and their pack of four-legged friends as they coast from crises to parties and from disasters to miracles. If you’ve ever laughed with Gerald Durrell or cried over Black Beauty, or just love animals, this book is for you. A dog and a mistress you’ll never forget. 

A Monster Calls; Patrick Ness, Walker India, Rs.299.

Young Conor’s mother is ill with cancer, and he has nightmares regularly. The monster has a physical form, the yew tree Conor can see from his bedroom assumes its shape. It speaks to him and tells him three stories: about a bad prince, a foolish parson and an invisible man. Conor, who is being bullied at school, is estranged from his father and dislikes his grandmother, struggles to accept what is happening to his mother. Ness writes about a fractured family, and his lonely, alienated child-hero has lots of battles to fight.

Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe; Edited by Indira Chandrashekhar and Rebecca Lloyd, Thames River Press, price not stated.

This anthology of 34 short stories by 25 writers from 13 countries is a reflection of the title. Pangea means “all lands” or “all earth”. The writers include journalists, scientists, a lawyer, a costume designer, a magazine editor, a crofter in the Scottish highlands, a bookseller, and a writer-in-residence at a young offenders’ prison. Their narratives are equally diverse and distinctive —whether about a man’s confrontation and failure on a road in Scotland, the dramatic preparations for a big birthday party in Nigeria, or the moment a young man comes face-to-face with his Bollywood idol — but have an enormous commonality. The conflicts faced and the emotions felt are recognisable, irrespective of the authors’cultural identities or the settings of the stories themselves.

Blasphemy; Asia Bibi, Hachette India, Rs.350.

Punjab, Pakistan, June 2009. It’s a boiling hot day and Asia has been out picking fruit for several hours. At midday she goes to the nearest well, picks up a cup and takes a long drink of cool water. She refills the cup, drinks some more and offers it to another woman. Suddenly a fellow worker cries out that the water belongs to Muslim women and that, with her actions, Asia (a Christian) has contaminated it. An argument arises and, with one word, Asia’s fate is sealed. ‘Blasphemy!’ someone shouts, a charge punishable by death in Pakistan. First attacked by a mob, Asia was thrown into prison and sentenced to be hanged. Since then she has been kept in a windowless cell. Her family have had to flee their village, under threat from extremists. Only two public figures came to Asia’s defence: the Muslim governor of the Punjab and Pakistan’s Christian Minister for Minorities. Both have since been murdered. Asia Bibi, now a symbol for all those concerned with ending violence in the name of religion, bravely speaks from her prison cell.

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