Monday, 30th October 2017

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  • Published 5.09.12

Move over Katniss Everdeen, young adults have a new heroine to worship — Celaena Sardothien. According to Bloomsbury, which launched Throne of Glass [Rs 645, imported edition] by Sarah J. Maas recently, she’s beautiful, she’s deadly and she’s destined for greatness.

So, what’s her story? Eighteen-year-old Celaena is an assassin, the best kind. But she makes a grave error… she gets caught. After serving a year of hard labour in the salt mines of Endovier, she is brought before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. She has to fight thieves and killers and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and be set free. Even as she trains under the captain of the guards, Westfall, and things spice up a bit when the prince seems interested in her, one of the contestants ends up dead. Then another. Is Celaena next?

If you need any more incentive, here’s what an online review says: “Throne of Glass is the perfect escape to a fantasy world; an epic tale with all the romance of your favourite fairy tale, the action of The Hunger Games, and the political intrigue of Game of Thrones” — The Hunger Games Examiner.

If you are a Potterholic, chances are you’ve already played your way through Book 2 on J.K. Rowling’s, which was made available on the popular website in August.

Only the first four chapters of The Chamber of Secrets is up for play till now. Opening on 4 Privet Drive, where Harry celebrates his ‘Worst Birthday Ever’ with the Dursleys, one can’t miss the locked cupboard under the staircase and the resounding crash as Dudley falls off his chair (though imaginary as the website isn’t high on sound effects), thanks to Harry’s one little remark — “You’ve forgotten the magic word.” Watch out for house elf Dobby and help keep Aunt Petunia’s pudding in the air. Also take a trip on the turquoise blue flying Ford Anglia to The Burrow. Unlock new stories, technology and exclusives from Rowling even as you wait for the rest of the chapters to be uploaded. We can’t wait to walk through the Chamber of Secrets with Nagini in hot pursuit!

A British-Asian documentary filmmaker, Ray Bhulla, steps into an Indian village to make a BBC film called Doing Time, along with two British colleagues. Of course, the village is no ordinary run-of-the mill Indian village (neither a Night Shyamalan sci-fi thriller) but an open prison camp where each family has at least one convict serving time. The Village [Penguin-Viking, Rs 399] is the second title by Nikita Lalwani, a Rajasthan-born Cardiff-brought-up author whose debut novel Gifted was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007 and won the Desmond Elliot Prize for new fiction in 2008.

The Village takes the reader into a conflict of morality as Ray, the Indian-looking Hindi-speaking “firang” director, along with Nathan and Serena, manipulate the villagers’ stories for greater emotional effect. The village — Ashwer — with some 48 families, is like any other rural setting, with cattle running amok, women in colourful saris, men smoking beedis and nothing like the barred and locked-up prisons we know of. However, the concept of an open prison camp is not new, it’s based on the ones existing in India since the early 20th century.

As the simple stories of the villagers are given dramatic overtones of bride burning, fratricide, and more, the villagers eye the filmmakers suspiciously, while the guards eye both sets with doubt. Soon, Ray is left questioning her own ethics while her colleagues want to stick to what makes good TV.

By the end of the book, one question looms large: who is the actual prisoner? The insiders or the outsiders?

An evil sorcerer king readies to die with his seven wives on the funeral pyre so that he is reincarnated with the powers of demon king Ravana. But his plans go haywire when his youngest queen, the enchanting and spirited Darya, escapes with the court poet. This was the story of Mandore in 769 AD.

Thus starts David Hair’s Pyre of Queens [Penguin Books, Rs 225], the first title in The Return of Ravana series. From ancient history to the present world, Hair, a history and classical studies major, blends mythology with reality, bringing alive a fantasy world that’s oh-so-different!

From 769 AD, the New Zealand author zooms ahead to 2010, to the very same spot — Mandore, presently called Jodhpur. Four teenagers — Vikram, Amanjit, Deepika and Rasita — come together without even the slightest idea of what is in store. The deathless sorcerer and his queens are on a hunt and soon the teens realise that they are the targets.

Hair is the author of the award-winning The Bone Tiki, which is the first book in the mythological fantasy Bone Tiki trilogy, set in New Zealand. He lived in New Delhi from 2007 to 2010 and has already written three more books in The Return of Ravana series. Inspired by the handprints of the burned queens of Jodhpur in the Mehrangarh Fort, Hair penned Pyre of Queens, which is a promising page-turner.

Swayamvara, Souls in Exile and King of Lanka take the story of the four teenagers forward as Ravindra, the evil sorcerer king, has sworn to hunt them down in each and every birth. While Swayamvara sees Prithviraj Chauhan battling Mohammed Ghori, Souls in Exile deals with the Mutiny of 1857.

Having broken down myths and folklores to form stories for young minds, the reincarnation of Ravana and others from ancient Indian history, along with the sacrificial edge to the thriller series has pushed the author into the list of must-reads for young adults. If you need any more convincing, just look up the fiery promotional video for the series by Penguin on YouTube ("

The fantasy world of changelings, trolls, vampires, hobgoblins, vampires and more is back with a bang on Indian shelves. The last two books in Amanda Hocking’s Trylle Trilogy — Torn and Ascend [Rs 299, Pan Macmillan] — are now available in India.

In the trilogy, Hocking, a 27-year-old American author and member of the Kindle Million Club, writes about Wendy, a 17-year-old who discovers that she’s a changeling, switched at birth with a human boy. Thus the first novel in the trilogy is called Switched.

The story unfolds around Wendy, who is actually a troll or rather a Trylle princess with supernatural powers, destined for a future laden with mysteries, revelations and life threats.

In a war to save the kingdom, the new princess must fight for her love, duty and honour while dealing with the sudden revelations about her true identity. A choice between Loki, the rival Vittra prince, and Finn, her tracker bodyguard, throws in a lot of excitement for young readers. The last book, Ascend, promises to be an “epic finale”.

Kareena Kapoor is writing a book. Published by Penguin Books India, The Style Diary of a Bollywood Diva promises to be Kareena’s “ultimate tell-all style bible”. The book is being billed as the first attempt by a Bolly babe to take the reader into her fabulous life and reveal her beauty secrets. Combining style, fitness and beauty, the diary will have Kareena writing about how she got to size zero and how to replicate her iconic looks — from Poo’s sexy red choli-pants in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Geet’s T-shirt-salwar casual look in Jab We Met to uber-glam gowns in the soon-to-be-released Heroine.

In the book, fans and fitness buffs will be able to follow Bebo’s journey from the chubby teen accompanying her sexy sister (Karisma) on shoots to becoming the bombshell she is today. The Style Diary of a Bollywood Diva is expected to hit the stands in December.