‘Half Bad’


 

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.    half-bad-400x400-imadty4qnqcfcdxr

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

Are you curious to know more..?

Well today we give you a sneak peek into the new YA Fiction book that’s been creating raves across the world.

Sally Green’s Debut Novel ‘Half Bad ‘is about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.  It is set in modern-day England. Witches and Humans live together. There are the Black Witches and the White Witches. The 16-year-old protagonist, Nathan is half-white and half-black. His mother is dead, and his father is the most powerful and the cruelest Black Witch in the world. Trapped in a cage and abused, Nathan has to escape before his seventeenth birthday, when he will receive three gifts from his father and his magical ability. Otherwise, he will die.

We are very excited to read this book..Hope you are too!!

Below is an extract from the Book. The book releases at a Crossword store near you as well as www.crossword.in  from 24th March 2014

 

Part 1

The Trick

There’s these two kids, boys, sitting close together, squished in by the big arms of an old chair. You’re the one on the left.

The other boy’s warm to lean close to, and he moves his gaze from the telly to you, sort of in slow motion.

‘You enjoying it?’ he asks.

You nod. He puts his arm round you and turns back to the screen.

Afterwards you both want to try the thing in the film. You sneak the big box of matches from the kitchen drawer and run with them to the woods.

You go first. You light the match and hold it between your thumb and forefinger letting it burn right down until it goes out. Your fingers are burnt, but they hold the blackened match.

The trick works.

The other boy tries it too. Only he doesn’t do it. He drops the match.

Then you wake up and remember where you are.

The Cage

The trick is to not mind. Not mind about it hurting, not mind about anything.

The trick of not minding is key, it’s the only trick in town. Only this is not a town, it’s a cage, beside a cottage, surrounded by a load of hills and trees and sky.

It’s a one-trick cage.

Press-Ups

The routine is okay.

Waking up to sky and air is okay. Waking up to the cage and the shackles is what it is. You can’t let the cage get to you. The shackles rub, but healing is quick and easy, so what’s to mind?

The cage is loads better now that the sheepskins are in. Even when they’re damp they’re warm. The tarpaulin over the north end made a big improvement too. There’s shelter from the worst of the wind and rain. And a bit of shade if it’s hot and sunny. Joke! You’ve got to keep your sense of humour too.

So the routine is to wake-up as the sky lightens before dawn. You don’t have to move a muscle, don’t even have to open your eyes to know it’s getting light, and you can just lie there and take it all in.

The best bit of the day.

There aren’t many birds around, a few, not many. It would be good to know their names, but you know their different calls. There are no seagulls, which is something to think about, and there are no vapour trails either. The wind is usually quiet in the pre-dawn calm, and somehow the air feels warmer already as it gets light.

You can open your eyes now and there’s a few minutes to savour the sunrise, which today is a thin pink line stretching along the top of a narrow ribbon of cloud draped over the smudged green hills. And you’ve still got a minute, maybe even two, to get your head together before she appears.

You’ve got to have a plan though, and the best idea is to have it all worked out the night before so you can slip straight into the plan without a thought. Mostly the plan is to do what you’re told, but not everyday, and not today.

You wait until she appears and throws you the keys. You catch the keys, unlock your ankles, rub them to emphasise the pain she is inflicting, unlock your left manacle, unlock your right, stand, unlock the cage door, toss the keys back to her, open the cage door, step out keeping your head down, never look her in the eyes (unless that’s part of some other plan), rub your back and maybe groan a bit, walk to the vegetable bed, piss.

Sometimes she tries to mess with your head of course, by changing the routine. Sometimes she wants chores before exercises, but most days its press-ups first. You’ll know which whilst still zipping up.

‘Fifty.’

She says it quietly. She knows you’re listening.

You take your time as usual. That’s always part of the plan.

Make her wait.

Rub your right arm. The metal wristband cuts into it when the shackle is on. You heal it and get a faint buzz. Then, you roll your head, your shoulders, your head again, and stand there, just stand there for another second or two, pushing her to her limit, before you drop to the ground.

 

One                             Not minding

Two                             is the trick.

Three                           The only

Four                             trick.

Five                              But there are

Six                                loads of

Seven                           tactics.

Eight                             Loads.

Nine                             On the look-out

Ten                              all the time.

Eleven                          All the time.

Twelve                                     And it’s

Thirteen                       easy.

Fourteen                      Cos there ain’t

Fifteen                          nothing else

Sixteen                                     to do.

Seventeen                    Look out for what?

Eighteen                       Something.

Nineteen                      Anything.

Twenty                                    En

Twenty-one                 E

Twenty-two                 Thing.

Twenty-three               A mistake.

Twenty-four                 A chance.

Twenty-five                  An oversight.

Twenty-six                   The

Twenty-seven              tiniest

Twenty-eight                error

Twenty-nine                 by the

Thirty                           White

Thirty-one                    Witch

Thirty-two                   from

Thirty-three                 Hell.

Thirty-four                   Cos she makes

Thirty-five                    mistakes.

Thirty-six                     Oh yes.

Thirty-seven                 And if that

Thirty-eight                  comes to

Thirty-nine                   nothing

Forty                            you wait

Forty-one                     for the next one

Forty-two                     and the next one

Forty-three                  and the next one.

Forty-four                    Until

Forty-five                     you

Forty-six                      succeed.

Forty-seven                  Until

Forty-eight                   you’re

Forty-nine                    free.

You get up. She will have been counting, but never letting up is another tactic.

She doesn’t say anything but steps towards you and backhands you across the face.

Fifty                              ‘Fifty.’

 

As If!

After press-ups it’s just standing and waiting. Best look at the ground. You’re by the cage on the path. It’s got mud on it, but you won’t be sweeping it, not today, not with this plan. It’s rained a lot in the last few days. Autumn’s coming on fast. Still, today it’s not raining, already it’s going well.

‘Do the outer circuit.’ Again she’s quiet. No need to raise her voice.

And off you jog . . . but not yet. You’ve got to keep her thinking you’re being your usual difficult-yet-basically-complying self, and so you knock mud off your boots, left boot heel on right toe followed by right boot heel on left toe, you raise a hand and look up and around as if you’re assessing the wind direction, you spit on the potato plants, look left and right like you’re waiting for a gap in the traffic and . . . let the bus go past . . . and then you’re off.

You take the dry-stone wall with a leap to the top and over, then across the moorland, heading to the trees.

Freedom.

As if!

 

Publisher: Penguin Books India

 Price: Rs 350

 You can also pre order it on http://www.crossword.in

 

Signing off for now

 Until next time Geeks.

 Happy Reading!

Crossword Bookstores

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‘The Accidental Theologist’


Hello & Welcome back Book Lovers.   blog

It’s been a while and we apologize for it.

Hope you reading a lot of books these days.

Today we have a very intriguing and curious psychologist turned reporter turned theologist turned writer with us.

Meet Award winning writer, Lesley Hazleton  who has spent more than 10 years of her life staying in the Middle East, covering stories on politics, religion and history of the country.

She is an agnostic and has written extensively on Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Anyone who meets Lezley will tell you that that she is confident, articulate and a classy style diva.

Her previous works include detailed stories of Israeli women, A memoir of Jerusalem, Mother Mary, Jezebel, Shia Shunni Split. Her in-depth narrative, coherent writing and archaic facts is what keeps one glued to her books. She started researching and writing on various religions during her stay in the Middle East.

Her new book “The First Muslim” examines the narrative account of Prophet Muhammad in his formative years and how he rose to power. She describes him as a complex man with varying notions on politics and faith.

‘The First Muslim’ is also on The Crossword Bestseller list.

She currently stays in Seattle and spends gloomy evenings working on her next project, you can also know more about her from her blog .wwww.theaccidentaltheologist.com

Read an extract of her interview with us..

 

1.         A lot of Biographies have been written on Prophet Muhammad and on  his life and teachings…what made you delve  into his life further?

Basically, frustration!   I’d read many modern biographies of him, but either they seemed overly timid, as though tip-toeing through his life, or they were devotional hagiographies.  Either way, they had a soporific effect on me, and this seemed utterly wrong;  how could anyone do that to such a dramatic life?   Muhammad carved a huge profile in history, and yet the more I read, the less I seemed to have any real sense of who he actually was.  I wanted to do justice to a remarkable story – to accord him the integrity of reality, of a full life lived.  And sure enough, the deeper I went, the more complex and interesting he became.

 

2.         You have also written on the whole divide between the strongest Muslim communities ‘Shia and Sunni Muslims’ which is a strong intense war even today..Do you think the basis of this laid the foundations during Prophet Muhammad’s era?

It did.  My previous book, After the Prophet, explores this.  In a sense, the split began at the moment of Muhammad’s death, though the roots of it reach back into his lifetime.  It’s an intensely human story – a tragedy of epic dimensions that spans three generations of Muhammad’s family and the first fifty years of Islam.  And it goes deep to issues that still haunt us:  pragmatism and idealism, faith and politics, power and powerlessness.  Sometimes I imagine that if the story had only been better known, the US would never have been so foolish as to have invaded Iraq, which is precisely where the Sunni-Shia split crystallized.  But I know that’s probably just wishful thinking

 

3. For writing any kind of extensive biography you would have to spend huge hours in researching and checking every facts that must have come along.. tell us about your difficult  days spent on writing this book?

In a sense, I was living a kind of dual existence:  I’d wake every morning in misty Seattle to people and events half the world and almost half of history away, in seventh-century Arabia.  Yes, it was difficult – not least because I was aware of how intensely The First Muslim would be scrutinized, especially since I am an agnostic Jew, not a believing Muslim.  But it was also a joy.  To live in two worlds at once, the Pacific Northwest and the not-so-pacific Middle East?  To keep daily company with a prophet and bring a remarkable life to life?  This is a writer’s privilege.

 

4. Care to tell  the readers more about the sacred relationship between Muhammad and his first wife Khadija..

Islamophobes love to paint Muhammad as a lecherous polygamist, thus betraying nothing but their own ignorance (and their lascivious imagination).  Muhammad and Khadija were in a loving, caring, monogamous marriage for 24 years until her death, when he was still struggling for acceptance of his message.  In late life, he married nine other wives – diplomatic marriages, as all leaders of the time made – but it’s clear that he mourned Khadija until the day of his own death.

 

5.         You have stayed in the Middle East for more than 10 years.. where women are treated as  inferiors and the status never seems to change for the longest time right through Islam and women don’t have a say at all .Do you think we will see changing times soon for women in the Middle east?

I think this change is inevitable.  After all, the Quran, unlike the Bible, goes to great pains to include women.  It won’t happen overnight, just as revolution doesn’t happen overnight (or in a single season, per the journalistic meme of “the Arab spring”), but more and more strong women’s voices are emerging both in the Middle East and in other Muslim countries.

 

6.         We always see a whole debate where in the West, Islam as a religion is now being considered very negative, extremist and as a religion disliked by the West due to the Jihad wars and terrorists acts committed in the name of jihad. Any views on how this opinions of Islam as an extremist religion can be changed and Did Muhammad actually preach Jihad the way it has been preached by militant Islamist groups.

There have been dozens of fatwas by leading Islamic scholars saying in the strongest terms that slaughtering civilians in the name of God is an obscene travesty of Islam.  In the Quran, jihad specifically refers to the struggle to lead a good life “in the path of God,” not to armed conflict.  The interpretation of jihad as warfare only came into being three centuries after Muhammad’s death, and while I certainly can’t speak for him, I’m pretty sure that if he could see what was being preached in his name by violent extremists, he’d be the first to stand against them and call them out as murderers.

 

7. All your books are so detailed, factual, gripping. What can we expect next from you?

Well, talking of gripping, I think it’s time for me to come to grips with my own agnosticism, so I’m working on a kind of agnostic manifesto.  I’m enjoying the luxury of writing again in the first person – there’s great freedom in that – and of exploring (and challenging) my own thinking.

 

8. Apart from being an Accidental Theologist, tell us some of your quirks?

Off the top of my head:

— a love of paradox

— an ability to eat six dozen oysters at a time

— a weakness for knee-high suede boots

 

9. Authors you admire?

Let’s just start with Graham Greene, Peter Matthiessen, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion…

 

10. Types of books you dislike reading

— books with lazy, clichéd language (alas, most popular fiction)

— books that fail to spark my imagination (alas, most academic writing)

— books that are self-serving (like too many political autobiographies)

 

11.       Books you can’t put down

I seem to be very good at putting down books described as “un-put-downable” (I fell asleep a few pages into The Da Vinci Code).  Books I really can’t put down are books I read for a second, even a third time.   Right now that’s Richard Rodriguez’ new book Darling.  It’s subtitled “a spiritual autobiography” but I’m glad to say it’s not – it’s something far more intricate and supple, and I love the way his mind works.

 

12. You have travelled the world over, your favourite country/destination?

Places I keep secret!  Untouched, magical places.  A hidden saltwater lagoon in the San Juan islands;  a hot spring coming out of the rock in the mountains north of Guadalajara;  a sage-scented wadi deep in the Sinai desert – these and others are places where I have sat quietly for hours at a time, and I am still grateful for their existence.  I’m not religious, but as Laurens van der Post once wrote, “an amen to such places.”

 

Price: Rs 599

Published by Atlantic Books

Represented & Distributed exclusively by Penguin Books India

Available on www.crossword.in and at a Crossword store near you.

 

Signing off for now

 

 Until next time Geeks.

 

 And don’t forget to drop in your comments.

 

 For details and queries write to crosswordconnect@gmail.com

 

 Happy Reading!

 

 Crossword Bookstores

‘The Prince Of Romance’


Hello & Welcome back Book lovers. 

Hope you are enjoying the Festive Season with lots of sweets, lights and firecrackers.

Well this week on the hot seat is really buzzing with excitement.

After so many requests from fans on FB and Twitter we just had to interview the Prince of Indian Romance who sentimental and tear dropping love stories have touched millions of hearts in India.

Meet Ravinder Singh, the boy next door. Tall, Dark,Handsome & Intelligent, he has all the makings of a romantic hero. But his charm lies in his narrative writing. A die hard romantic, as many people know him, you will be high on emotions after reading his books. We know fans who have cried buckets after reading his books and worship him like a Love Guru.

Author of 2 Bestselling Books, ‘I too had a Love Story’ & ‘Can Love Happen Twice ‘, Ravinder Singh’s 1st book was a narrative account of his true love story. Though when he release his second there were rumors that it was a true story but Mr Singh completely dismissed it and has said it is based on certain life experiences.

His Books have been our Bestsellers list for a while now and he his book’ Can Love Happen twice was also nominated for the Popular Award for The Economist Crossword Book Award 2011

Ravinder Singh has currently completely his MBA from ISB and is working with Microsoft in Hyderabad. He recently got married to Khusboo Chauhan, his long-time girlfriend which left thousands of girls heartbroken.

Here is an excerpt of his Interview..

  1.    You broke a lot of hearts when you recently got married.How has Ravinder Singh changed after Marriage?

Well Ravinder Singh hasn’t changed at all after marriage. But yes Ravinder Singh has come across new changes, as is expected in the school of marriage. And I come across them right from the beginning of the day. For ex: I now don’t wake up alone but there is someone next to me and its a beautiful feeling to see my wife beside me as the day begins. There are new set of responsibilities and expectations (that’s true for both my wife Khusboo and me) which are outdone by the charm of this warm relationship.

2.       Tell us something about Khusboo, where did it all begin, The Proposal  and is she anything like the character Simar?

The best way for an author to tell about someone important in his/her life is to sketch them as a protagonist in the book and narrate the story. May be I will do it that way. And for the latter part of your question: No she is unlike Simar (from my second book) and for that matter unlike Khushi (from my first book). I am mentioning this because of lot of readers of mine have related Khushboo with either of the two characters from my books.

3.       How do you handle all the female fans who absolutely adore you and your books?       

It is always a special feeling to hear from and get back to fans and readers. It is they who make me feel special and I respect their love for my work and me. As far as fan following is concerned I wouldn’t divide it on the grounds of gender. Having said that, I believe it is normal to see more female fans for a male author and male fan following for female authors (that’s the case with Bollywood and sports as well).

4.       You will be soon coming out with a book on Short Love stories on the competition done by Penguin. How difficult was it for you to judge it ?

Yes that’s right. Well we got thousands of stories and by the end of the entire selection process we had to arrive at best 25. So you can understand how difficult it would have been for all of us (and not just me). I think it was an interesting experience. For a person like me who is not at all a great reader it was a lot of effort but the best thing was that – They were short stories. I would complete reading them in 20 mins at max. I am super impressed by the variety of submissions. The diversity of those stories took my heart away. Some had painful ending while some had left me with a smile by the last paragraph of it.

5.       How big a Punjabi are you. Your Punjabi Fetishes?

It’s in the DNA. It is perfectly fine with me to wear “Punjabi Jutti” along with a jeans in my office. I am poor in western dance but on the contrary I am well equipped with “Bhangra” so much so that once in the US in a disc I made the entire disc dance onto the beats of “Dhol”. Those “Memaan Shemaan :-)” simply couldn’t resist NOT Dancing. The song was a Punjabi no. from Bend It Like Beckham. The first peg will surely be a “Patiala Peg“. I would admire a “Patiala Salwar” more on a girl’s legs than jeans. And the CD system of my car just has the collection of “Punjabi songs“. So as I said – It’s in the DNA.

6.       Your first book was based on your personal experience; did writing the book ease your emotions on what you went through after your loss?

Certainly. In fact that was the whole purpose behind writing it. I believe in the philosophy that sharing your joy with others multiplies your happiness and sharing your grief with others and reduces your pain.

7.       Your 3 favourite Love stories..        

A walk to remember by Nicholas Spark. Love Story by Eric Segal. There is a commonality in these two stories with my story in ‘I too had a love story’. And the 3rd would be ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Spark again, for the way he has described the element of time and things that have changed in the course of time in that love story.

8.       Your ideal Romantic date?  

Hmmm….Driving up the hills, late in the evening when it is foggy in the months of winter. Nice romantic music in the car. Chilled champagne followed by a warm dinner. Pick up a conversation as if the two of you don’t know each other and discover the new being in yourselves. Drive down the hills early in the morning before the fog settles down. Have a cup of tea at some road side dhaaba in the mid way. My life in Chandigarh and my trips to hills of Kasauli had left me with these thoughts.

9.       A romantic catchphrase or line that you have used on women a lot?       

If it is about ‘a lot of women’ my line is – You may fall in love with the book, but resist falling in love with the author of the book 🙂

10.   How do you manage the time to write from your hectic schedule?

Where there is a will there is a way 🙂

11.   Your fans are waiting for 3rd Romantic Blockbuster from you. When is that going to happen..

Don’t know. Apparently the 3rd one in line is not on romance. It is something very different yet special. Early next year people will get to know what it is. But that does not mean that I am not going to write romantic novels in future.

Publisher: Penguin Books

Price: Rs 125

Signing Off For Now..

Until Next Time Geeks..

Happy Reading!

Crossword Bookstores.

The Name is Bond…


 

Away from the noises of city life in the hilly green areas of Mussoorie lives the beloved Rusty.He enjoys short naps, long walk beside the hills and his room full of books.   

 

Most of our Readers would have read his stories as kids either in their textbooks or would have watched movies based on his books (Saat Khoon Maaf,Junoon, )This Beloved Children’s author who is nearly 80 years old will make you laugh and smile with his witty humour, spell bounding storytelling and his mischievous smile.

 

He prefers maintaining a low profile and confines himself to the greener pastures of Mussoorie .Not very fond of travelling he prefers only to get out of his comfort zone only to meet his readers and audience. A Bona fide lazy person as he calls himself his daily routine consists of eat sleep and read.

His New Fiction book Titles Maharani has recently released by Penguin India across stores.

 

When we put him in hot seat, here’s what he had to say..

 

You have stayed in Mussoorie for so many years. Whereas authors prefer to travel a lot to draw inspiration. Does the city of hills make you a better author?

I have been living here since 50 year now. Love the greenery around me.  Have grown trees here and watch them grow. I enjoy spending time writing here by the hill side.  My adopted family is here and they take good care of me here. One of the major reasons I moved to Mussoorie was in 60’s I had just left Delhi to be  a free-lance writer and Mussoorie seemed the natural option to shift because of the proximity. Also I am in love with the city and don’t feel like going anywhere.

 

How much of your self do you portray in your books?

I am a very subjective writer. For me Fiction always overtakes reality. Of what I write 2/3 accounts for fiction and the rest all are experiences I draw from my own life. Most of my stories are written in the first person context so people tend to conclude the stories are based on my life. My writings draw inspirations from childhood memories and people who I have met over the years. I  suffer from vivid imaginations which are purely fictitious.

 

Your new book Maharani talks about love and friendship. How does the Mr Ruskin Bond perceive love to be?

(Laughing) Well I have always been in love.. I was in love in 20’s in my 30’s in my 40’s. I have never stopped falling out of love. I have just stopped  expecting the same intensity of love that I feel. My expectations and imagination of love is always high due to which I have had some disappointments in life. Probably one of the reasons I never got married.  I think I am charming, cynical at times,  not  bad catch after all.

 

Tell us some peculiar characteristics about Maharani ?

Bold..Unconventional..Strong Minded..Entertaining..Smart..Has had Many affairs in the past.. She is somebody who will keep you glued to the book.

 

Your Favourite reads..

I have grown up reading books that were written in 40’s and the 50’s,.. I like to read a lot of Detective fiction and Crime Novels by Peter Robinson, Robert Gordon. My favourite book currently is ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. I read it some 60 years back and it had kept me up all night and when I picked the book again to read it currently it again kept me up all night.. That to me is a test of a good novel. Plus the characters in the book are very strong and gripping. Also Emily Bronte writing is very passionate.

 

In the days when authors and publishers are catching on social media bandwagon and promoting themselves heavily you choose to stay aloof from all of it..your views..?

I think it’s the need of the hour since there are some writers and publishing houses spread all across. And competition is increasing. When I had starting writing I use to send the books out to the world hoping that somebody will read.. Scenarios have changed a lot today the backgrounds of my time were different and of today are different.. I grew up during the British Raj and today kids grow up with mobile, internet, tv and much more. The only thing constant is the writing values that a writer possesses. These days’ writers talk about their book on Facebook and all. But for me I prefer the old fashion way.. I keep away from the limelight. I always prefer to connect to my readers face to face.. I stay away from literary festivals as there are more so over for authors to meet together. Also I prefer stepping out and do a bookstore reading or session for my readers. You see we authors have big egos and we need to be pleased all the time through different mediums… even though I have a big ego, my way of life is very reserved to my readers and family and I prefer it that way. You can call me an old school person.

 

About Maharani:

Maharani who drink too much, the real story of Jim Corbett, and friendly ghosts – a magical novella from Ruskin Bond! 

H.H. is the spoilt, selfish, beautiful widow of the Maharajah of Mastipur. She lives with her dogs and her caretaker, Hans, in an enormous old house in Mussorie, taking lovers and discarding them, drinking too much, and fending off her reckless sons who are waiting hungrily for their inheritance. The seasons come and go, hotels burns down, cinemas shut shop, and people leave the hill station never to return. But H.H. remains constant and indomitable. Observing her antics, often with disapproval, is her old friend Ruskin, who can never quite cut himself off from her. Melancholic, wry and full of charm, Maharani is a delightful novella about love, death and friendship. 

About The Author
Ruskin Bond is the acclaimed author of over five hundred novellas, stories, essays and poetry, all of which has established him as one of the India’s most beloved writers. His most recent work are Secrets and Susannas Seven Husbands which was turned into the film Saat Khoon Maaf. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993 and the Padma Shri in 1999.

 

Price: Rs 299  

 

Signing off for Now..

 

Until Next time Geeks.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Crossword Bookstores.