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Ryan The Reviewer

The IPL may be guilty of many sins but reading ain’t one of them. So imagine Bookworm’s surprise when she found herself burrowing into a book blog only to realise that it’s being written by one of Calcutta’s very own Knights!

Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate is using his spare time this IPL season to read one book a week and write a review in his blog (http://ryantendoeschate. wordpress.com). That’s not all. The hunk from Netherlands is trying to raise money through the blog to build a library in Delhi for underprivileged kids.

The first book Tendo — as he is fondly called by his mates — has reviewed is Amit Chaudhuri’s latest, Calcutta: Two Years in the City. Then came Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner, Tendo’s “favourite book”. Next in line is The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh.

“My favourite books are non-fiction, narrative histories of places or events. I am into real things, I like to learn things and understand things. Any book that sheds light on places and people, I find enjoyable,” said the cute Knight.

What Bookworm likes best about this blog is how it’s not bookish. Here’s one paragraph from the first review: “One negative is the constant use of complicated vocabulary which I think would scare off readers with a less than excellent handle of the English language. (Chaudhuri studied at Cambridge.) I had to look up the meaning of many words and while I personally found the exercise interesting and insightful I feel that it will prevent many readers from enjoying this unique account of this fascinating city.”

A good-looking sportsman who reads and is man enough to admit that he needs a dictionary? Now that’s Bookworm’s kinda guy alright!

BONKBUSTER IS BACK

If we say “Julie Burchill”, chances are you’ll draw a blank. Unless you’ve been doing naughty stuff in between the covers in the 1980s — book covers, silly!

Julie Burchill, it appears, wrote a steamy novel titled Ambition in 1989, when she was barely out of her 20s, which became a No.1 bestseller and even earned the moniker “bonkbuster”.

Anyhow, now that book racks are sagging with the weight of me-too racy reads thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, Ambition is all set to be

re-issued by Atlantic, that too with a cover blurb that goes: “Makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like Anne of Green Gable”!

The book is about deputy editor Susan Street, a nakedly ambitious woman who will do “anything” her boss Tobias Pope asks, to get the top job. As Bookworm tries to dig up more dirt on this steamy story, she can’t help pause on the names — Christian Grey now, Tobias Pope then... are we missing something?!

india’s miss marple

Curious, curiouser, curiouser still… and that my dear Watson is the graph of Kalpana Swaminathan’s latest in the Lalli series. This time, our desi Miss Marple is delivered a fresh mystery when a newspaper package with a perfectly manicured fingernail lands in her hands in The Secret Gardener [Penguin, Rs 299]. Move over to 24 Patwardhan Cross, where the garden yields a bone, followed by a “perfectly manicured” finger. What adds to the mystery are the last words of a dying gigolo. The cops may turn their backs but Lalli is unable to ignore the curious findings as a child is involved.

Lalli, a self-styled detective in her sixties with perfect shooting skills, made her first appearance in surgeon-author Swaminathan’s short story Cryptic Death in 1997. Since then, she’s appeared in The Page 3 Murders, The Gardener’s Song, The Monochrome Madonna and I Never Knew it was You. Lalli is stylish, observant and a collector of curiosities — and quite a few murderers it seems!

PENGUIN GETS INKED

Moving away from its aviary, the black and white bird has got itself some colourful body art! No, Bookworm hasn’t lost the plot, what she means is after launching imprints like Puffin and Partridge, Penguin has now come out with an imprint called Inked. Targeted at 13 to 20-year-olds, Inked will publish Young Adult fiction and non-fiction titles from India and abroad. The inaugural list ranges from high-school romances and soul-eaters to science fiction and Unmukt Chand’s charmed U-19 success story.

Apart from its books, Inked is also searching for “talented, quirky, opinionated and imaginative young adults” to provide content for its funky website (www.penguininked.com). Books, music, the arts and games, the website hopes to be one cool hangout, with interesting sections like Iread, Inkspiration,

Coat of Ink, Inkterviews, Ink--meter, Jinx, Musink and the Inked Shelf.

To become an Inkster, log on to www.facebook.com/PenguinIndia or send an email to Iaminked@in.penguingroup.com with a sample of your creativity in words, video, art, photos or anything you can think of. Go, get Inked!

TEEN LOVE IN TOUGH TIMES

The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “biography of cancer”, may have won the Pulitzer Prize but a book based on this dreaded disease is rarely seen on a bestseller list. So, when The Fault in our Stars [Penguin, Rs 399] by John Green shot to the No. 1 position on the New York Times bestseller list, it was time to sit up and take note.

The Fault in our Stars is the story of Hazel Lancaster and Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters, two American teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and fall in love. What brings them close is An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, a fictional title by a fictional author.

Hazel convinces Gus to read Houten’s book. Gus then saves his wish from The Genies (similar to Make a Wish Foundation) to fly himself and Hazel to meet author Peten Van Houten, who lives in Amsterdam. What happens next? Read and find out.

Though aimed at teenagers, the book is being picked up by adults too. Are you wondering about the title? Green said in a blog post that the title was inspired by a famous line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where Cassius says: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

The film rights have already been acquired by Fox 2000 and will be produced by the guys who are behind the Twilight franchise. Last heard, the pretty Shailene Woodley [seen with George Clooney in The Descendants] has been offered the role of Hazel.