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Addicted to Fiction? Here’s Your Emergency Read-covery Kit

Ready to unleash your inner bookworm? The one that’s addicted to fiction? Yes?
Well then buckle up for a whirlwind tour of 12 sizzling fiction reads, each one a portal to a world as unique as you are. From chilling thrillers to laugh-out-loud rom-coms, we’ve got something for every mood.

Are you ready to get hooked? 😉

 

The Housemaid's Secret
The Housemaid’s Secret || Freida McFadden

“Don’t go in the guest bedroom.” A shadow falls on Douglas Garrick’s face as he touches the door with his fingertips. “My wife… she’s very ill.” As he continues showing me their incredible penthouse apartment, I have a terrible feeling about the woman behind closed doors. But I can’t risk losing this job-not if I want to keep my darkest secret safe…

This absolutely explosive and shockingly twisty sequel to international bestseller The Housemaid will keep you racing through the pages late into the night. Anyone who loves The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose, The Woman in the Window and Gone Girl will be totally hooked! This book can also be enjoyed as a standalone.

 

Strange Sally Diamond
Strange Sally Diamond || Liz Nugent

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally’s life will be thrown into chaos once again…

 

The Last Devil to Die
The Last Devil to Die || Richard Osman

Shocking news reaches the Thursday Murder Club.

An old friend in the antiques business has been killed, and a dangerous package he was protecting has gone missing.

As the gang springs into action they encounter art forgers, online fraudsters and drug dealers, as well as heartache close to home.

With the body count rising, the package still missing and trouble firmly on their tail, has their luck finally run out? And who will be the last devil to die?

 

None Of This is True
None Of This Is True || Lisa Jewell

Celebrating her 45th birthday at her local pub, podcaster Alix Summer crosses paths with an unassuming woman called Josie Fair. Josie is also celebrating her 45th.

A few days later, they bump into each other again, this time outside Alix’s children’s school. Josie says she thinks she would be an interesting subject for Alix’s podcast. She is, she tells Alix, on the cusp of great changes in her life.

Alix agrees to a trial interview and indeed, Josie’s life appears to be strange and complicated. Aix finds her unsettling but can’t quite resist the temptation to keep digging.

Slowly Alix starts to realise that Josie has been hiding some very dark secrets, and before she knows it Josie has cajoled her way into Alix’s life – and into her home.

Soon Alix begins to wonder who is Josie Fair really? And what has she done?

 

Happy Place
Happy Place || Emily Henry

Two exes. One pact.
Could this holiday change everything?

Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple – they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

Every year, they take a holiday from their lives to drink far too much wine with their favourite people in the world.

Except this year, they are lying through their teeth, because Harriet and Wyn broke up six months ago. And they still haven’t told anyone.

But the cottage is for sale so this is the last time they’ll all be here together. They can’t bear to break their best friends’ hearts so they’ll fake it for one more week.

But how can you pretend to be in love – and get away with it – in front of the people who know you best?

 

Pineapple Street
Pineapple Street || Jenny Jackson

Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights is one of New York City’s most desirable residences, and home to the glamorous and well-connected Stockton family . . .

Darley, the eldest daughter, has never had to worry about money. She followed her heart, trading her job and her inheritance for motherhood – but ended up sacrificing more of herself than she ever intended.

Sasha is marrying into the wealthy Stockton family, who are worlds apart from her own. She feels like the outsider, trying to navigate their impenetrable traditions and please her new mother-in-law – plus her hesitancy to sign a pre-nup has everyone questioning her true intentions.

Georgiana, the youngest, is falling in love with someone she can’t (and really shouldn’t) have – and is forced to confront the kind of person she wants to be.

Witty, escapist and full of heart, with an unmissable cast of loveable – if flawed – characters, Pineapple Street is a beautifully observed novel about the complexities of family dynamics, the miles between the haves and the have-notes, and the all-consuming insanity of first love – while also asking the age-old question, can money really buy you happiness?

 

The Housemaid
The Housemaid || Freida McFadden

Working here is my last chance to start fresh. I can pretend to be whoever I like.
Every day I clean the Winchesters’ beautiful house top to bottom. I collect their daughter from school. I cook a delicious meal for the whole family before heading up to eat alone in my tiny room on the top floor.

I try to ignore how Nina makes a mess just to watch me clean it up. How she tells strange lies about her own daughter. And how Andrew, her husband, seems more broken every day.
But as I look into Andrew’s handsome brown eyes, so full of pain, it’s hard not to imagine what it would be like to live Nina’s life. The walk-in closet, the fancy car, the perfect husband.
I soon learn that the Winchesters’ secrets are far more dangerous than my own…

I try on one of Nina’s pristine white dresses once. Just to see what it’s like. But she soon found out…and by the time I realize my attic bedroom door only locks from the outside, it’s far too late.

I reassure myself though: the Winchesters don’t know who I really am.

 

Romantic Comedy
Romantic Comedy || Curtis Sittenfeld

With a series of heartbreaks under her belt, Sally Milz – successful script writer for a legendary late-night TV comedy show – has long abandoned the search for love.

But when her friend and fellow writer begins to date a glamorous actress, he joins the growing club of interesting but average-looking men who get romantically involved with accomplished, beautiful women.

Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch, poking fun at this ‘social rule’. The reverse never happens for a woman.

Then Sally meets Noah, a pop idol with a reputation for dating models. But this isn’t a romantic comedy – it’s real life.

Would someone like him ever date someone like her?

 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Wrong Place, Wrong Time || Gillian McAllister

It’s late. You’re waiting up for your son.

Then you spot him: he’s with someone. And – you can’t believe what you see – your funny, happy teenage boy stabs this stranger.

You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is charged with murder. His future is lost.

That night you fall asleep in despair. But when you wake . . . it is yesterday. The day before the murder.

Somewhere in the past lie the answers – a reason for this crime.

And your only chance to stop it . . .

 

The Woman Who Lied
The Woman Who Lied || Claire Douglas

Emilia Ward lives quietly in suburban London with her husband and two children.
Just an ordinary wife and mother. But also a bestselling crime writer.
When she starts writing her tenth Detective Miranda Moody novel, however, life takes a frightening turn: an incident straight out of one of her novels occurs in real life.
Just an unsettling coincidence, she thinks. Until it happens again.
Then someone she knows dies exactly like a victim in the book she’s still writing . . .

Why is someone doing this?
How do they know what she is writing?
And how long before Emilia and her family are next?

 

 

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow || Gabrielle Zevin

 

Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987. One is visiting her sister, the other is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there. Their love of video games becomes a shared world — of joy, escape and fierce competition. But all too soon that time is over, fades from view.

When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – making games to delight, challenge and immerse players, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars.

This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow takes us on a dazzling imaginative quest as it examines the nature of identity, creativity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play and, above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

 

Assistant To The Villain
Assistant To The Villain || Maehrer, Hannah Nicole

ASSISTANT WANTED: Notorious, high-ranking villain seeks loyal, level-headed assistant for unspecified office duties, supporting staff for random mayhem, terror, and other Dark Things in General. Discretion a must. Excellent benefits.

With ailing family to support, Evie Sage’s employment status isn’t just important, it’s vital. So when a mishap with Rennedawn’s most infamous Villain results in a job offer-naturally, she says yes. No job is perfect, of course, but even less so when you develop a teeny crush on your terrifying, temperamental, and undeniably hot boss. Don’t find evil so attractive, Evie.

But just when she’s getting used to severed heads suspended from the ceiling and the odd squish of an errant eyeball beneath her heel, Evie suspects this dungeon has a huge rat…and not just the literal kind. Because something rotten is growing in the kingdom of Rennedawn, and someone wants to take the Villain-and his entire nefarious empire-out.

Now Evie must not only resist drooling over her boss but also figure out exactly who is sabotaging his work… and ensure he makes them pay.

After all, a good job is hard to find….

Politics, patriarchy and parochialism-charting the course of a political destiny

Beginning at the peak of Nehruvian era and ending in the early seventies, Devesh Verma’s sharply witty saga The Politician gives an enthralling, evocative view of provincial northern India-once the political heartland of the country-and the ebb and flow of the fortunes of its protagonists.
Ram Mohan is an intrepid and ambitious young man in newly independent India, who refuses to be held down by his humble origins. Spurred on by his diehard optimism, he aims for things usually inaccessible to people of his extraction. However, he soon realizes that without political or bureaucratic power, the idea of a respectable life in India is nothing but pretense, and after a Gulab Singh rescues him from being insulted by a thug, Ram Mohan becomes persuaded of the efficacy of violence in certain situations.
Read on for a glimpse into Ram Mohan’s early days, and his initial faux pas balancing political ambition and political correctness!


The flame of political ambition kindled by Kishan Lal Tiwari was still burning bright in Ram Mohan. It was one of the reasons Ram Mohan did not want to defer his research work any further.

 

Parliamentary and Assembly elections might still be a few years away; he wanted to employ this time to achieve his scholarly objective, a feather in his cap; after which he could think of a way to assert his presence in the political arena as well. It could be either through contesting an election as suggested by Tiwari ji or through associating with the campaign of some important candidate of the Congress. But he was sure if he decided to be in the fray, it would not only be to prove his following. He would fight with a view to securing victory by convincing castes other than Kurmis of his merit. The mere thought of surprising them by his ability to quote from Sanskrit classics and Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas was uplifting.

 

He was never apolitical, but his interest in politics after meeting Tiwari ji had jumped to another level; he would make it a point now to keep abreast of all important political happenings. Just the previous year, he had taken part in a public meeting in Kanpur organized to condemn the allegations of corruption against Nehru government. It was district Congress committee’s answer to the protest rallies of the Communist Party and the People’s Union, the right-wing Hindu party; the former had a strong support base among the workers in state-owned mills of Kanpur, the latter drew its strength from the city’s Hindu shopkeepers. Given his poor grasp of the details, Ram Mohan simply lambasted the opposition, declaring that it was a sin to even insinuate that the allegations could be true; to back up his contention, he invoked the figures of Gandhi, Patel, Nehru and the like whose values were the cornerstone of the Congress. Biting at each word, Ram Mohan wondered how a respectable member of the Union cabinet chosen by Nehru ji could be accused of any financial misconduct. His speech had brought tears to the eyes of some old Congressmen.

 

Later however, the controversy had transformed into a monstrous scandal, brought to light by none other than Nehru’s estranged son-in-law, a Congress MP. He had raised the issue in Parliament. What had seemed to have transpired was that the Life Insurance Corporation of India had ploughed a huge amount of money into a private company of tenuous reputation; the shares were bought the day the stock markets were closed and at a price much above their market-value. The resulting uproar forced the government to order a judicial enquiry, which found the finance minister guilty of making the fraudulent investment. He had no option but to resign. It was the first big instance of government corruption coming to surface in independent India, which shocked Ram Mohan into making a fetish of financial honesty and pouring scorn on people suspected of bribery. Before Ram Mohan could plunge into research on the poetsaint, there had been a couple of more Congress-related events to engage him.

 

Soon after the scandal, Nehru dropped the bomb of his reluctance to continue as PM, arguing the position demanded ceaseless work, leaving him with no time ‘for quiet thinking’. The Congress was thrown into turmoil. Congressmen across the country were falling over themselves to issue appeals to the party to pay no heed to the hideous idea. When local congress leaders in Kanpur met to pass a resolution against Pandit ji’s ‘request’, Ram Mohan committed a political faux pas by suggesting— to the extreme embarrassment of all the office bearers in the committee—that the resolution should also urge Nehru ji to identify and nurture an alternative leadership before he could think of quitting. Ram Mohan had to be shouted down by all those present. ‘We’re shocked and disgusted at this temerity,’ bellowed a committee member. Anyway, the crisis blew over shortly as Nehru quit the idea of quitting by bowing down to the party’s wish.

The Politician Front Cover
The Politician || Devesh Verma

 

Inspiration for your next Illustrative and Writing Project

Still Life, by Anoushka Khan is an experiment with visual storytelling, using pictures and words to create a world that is both unsettling and extraordinary. Part road trip, part existential thriller ,it seeks new ways to look at love, isolation, memory and loss, asking what connects us to each other and to the natural world, and how we are governed by impulse we barely understand.

Today we have a chat with the Anoushka to understand how she worked on this masterpiece, and her inputs!

Front Cover Still Life
Still Life || Anoushka Khan

When did the idea for this book first come to you?

I was doing the washing up a few years ago and I suddenly thought, I’ll do a novel with paintings! I’d seen that paintings with words scrawled on had the power to move me, as did children’s picture books, and I wanted to recreate that simplicity and intensity.

What is your writer-(and illustrative) routine? 

I’m lucky enough to have a home office; I shut the door, look at the artwork I’ve already made as a run-up, and then dive in. I only really get snatched hours here and there.

Was there a different element or zone you had to bring yourself to whenever you’d get down to work on this book?

The only way I can work is with my headphones on playing music—it shines a mental spotlight on the work and makes everything else disappear. I feel like music made this book, it’s far and away the biggest influence on my work.

What was the most challenging, and was the most rewarding experience of this project?

The most challenging aspect was probably my relative ineptitude with technology; I don’t know how many hours I spent trying to figure out how to lasso images in Photoshop or compress PDFs or whatnot. The most rewarding? A couple of people I know nearly cried when they read the book. I was so happy that it made a mark.  

What is one thing you would, and one thing you wouldn’t recommend to anyone wanting to work on a book?

Enjoy getting lost in the process, rather than looking to the horizon. Try not to compare your work to others.

How difficult was it to illustrate such dark and complex emotions?

It’s really useful to be able to deploy words as well as images to convey mood or tone, and in some ways you can use one to balance out the other. And you can make it cinematic: focus on the character’s feet or a bowl of fruit while a particularly disturbing train of thought or difficult conversation is taking place. There is a darkness that permeates the book, but it’s from melancholy and mystery rather than bleakness—I think that would be much more difficult to sustain.

 

Thrilled in 240 pages

Bilal Siddiqi’s The Phoenix is a classic roller coaster of intrigue, vengeance and excitement. Read an extract here.

Mumbai

The Gateway of India was beautifully illuminated in honour of the victims of that fateful night of 26 November 2008. It had now been over a decade since the day those ten Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists swarmed in and carried out a series of attacks that brought the city to its knees. The coordinated massacre had lasted about four days, taking at least 170 lives and leaving some 300 injured. The city had been under siege, but the residents began to pick up the broken pieces soon after, resuming their everyday lives with their indomitable spirit.

The city was now paying homage to the martyrs of 26/11. Around 200 people had gathered at the Gateway of India, and the number was increasing with every passing minute. A popular actor had just taken to the stage and was addressing the crowd. It was a sombre moment for everyone present—some were reduced to tears as they lit their candles and uttered their prayers. Little did they know that there were plans for an unprecedented attack to be carried out that very night by a patriot who had repeatedly put his life on the line for his country.

The Indian flag fluttered proudly in the wind. People bowed their heads in respect. The actor’s voice from the stage broke the two-minute silence…

 

Aryaman’s eyes met those of a policeman. They nodded to each other, and Aryaman put on his hoodie. The policeman stepped back and turned off the metal detector as Aryaman went through. Aryaman read the policeman’s name as he moved past: Sanjay Rane.

Although he had switched off the security system to allow Aryaman to pass, Rane went slightly against Eymen’s plan and frisked Aryaman when he saw that a fellow constable was casually looking over at him. Aryaman felt Rane’s hand go over the concealed vest. The frisking done, Rane cleared Aryaman and gently pushed him in towards the venue.

Aryaman moved past the crowd, reluctantly walking towards the centre… His unsure steps were being watched through a sniper scope by Eymen, who had perched himself atop a nearby terrace.

Eymen’s instructions could be clearly heard through the earpiece that Aryaman was wearing: ‘Any funny business and a bullet ends you on the spot. And I don’t have to tell you what happens to your family after that.’

Aryaman didn’t bother responding. He was going to do it. There were no two ways about that. He stepped on a poster that had the faces of the deceased printed on it with the words ‘Gone But Not Forgotten’, and he pushed past a group of children as he reached the centre.

A middle-aged woman looked at him disapprovingly. She saw his bruised face, his glassy eyes, his salt-and-pepper stubble and his dishevelled, greying hair. And then she witnessed something she couldn’t decipher until it was too late…

 

There was mayhem—the kind Aryaman had rarely witnessed. People began to scream and run haphazardly. The actor, who until a few moments ago had been talking about how Mumbai had risen like a phoenix from the ashes after the 26/11 attacks, was now being whisked away by security personnel into an armoured car. Aryaman was jostled and pushed to the ground by the frenzied crowd.

A security team of four, all in hazmat suits, rushed towards him. They handcuffed and dragged him along the ground towards an armoured vehicle.

[The Phoenix is out now. Get your copy today!]

The Phoenix|| Bilal Siddiqi

“Where I sweated and wilted, Edwina was as cool as a cucumber”, 'The Last Vicereine' — An Excerpt

In the spring of 1947, Lord and Lady Mountbatten set foot in the sultry heat of Delhi. A woman of unparalleled charisma, influence and beauty, Edwina Mountbatten was also one of Jawahar’s closest. Little did anyone know that their lives were about to change forever as lines would be drawn through the soul of undivided India.
A beautiful, heart-breaking tale of love, loss and unflinching faith, Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang’s The Last Vicereine takes us through a blossoming relationship that was one of a kind, amidst the storm of Partition.
Here is an excerpt from the novel:
My God, India was hot! Standing on the tarmac at Palam airport, the heat took my breath away. Everything was white. My eyes ached from the brightness. Had I been living so long in the darkness that I had forgotten the light?
Where I sweated and wilted, Edwina was as cool as a cucumber. We had landed ages ago and the boxes were mostly unloaded. The Viceroy and Vicereine Designates had been received by the waiting dignitaries and Dickie had long since finished inspecting the guard of honour. Yet she tarried.
She stood about ten feet away from the foot of the steps to the aircraft. All fizz and sparkle, her weight resting seductively on to one hip, she was deep in conversation with two Indian men. Already, they were under her spell. They were Liaquat Ali Khan, General Secretary of the Muslim League, and Jawaharlal Nehru, Vice President of the interim government. Both of them were famous and I recognized them immediately from newsreels, papers and books. The handsome, charismatic Nehru was the man most likely to be the Prime Minister of the new independent India after we left. But it looked like Edwina knew them personally. She had greeted them like they were long-lost friends. Now she was chatting animatedly, talking French style, with her hands and shoulders, as was her way.
The rest of us were gathered by the cars, waiting to leave the airport. Dickie’s face was inscrutable. But he pulled awkwardly at the hem of his jacket as if trying to straighten it when it was not creased. It was getting embarrassing. She was almost flirting. Did she know she was keeping everyone waiting? If she did, she didn’t seem to care.
Squinting and shading my eyes against the sun, I saw that now Nehru was doing the talking. He must have said something very funny for Khan rolled his eyes to the sky and all three of them burst out laughing.
It was a relief when at last we got in the cars.
‘Best keep the windows up as much as you can once you enter Delhi,’ the young British officer from the 14th Punjabi Regiment warned. He closed our car door gently, almost as if he were tucking children up in bed.
I was squashed between the side of the car and Ronnie Brockman who seemed owl-like in his spectacles. He, in turn, was wedged against a bulging padlocked briefcase and Elizabeth Ward. Just after we landed Edwina had thrust the shoebox containing the tiara into my hands for safe keeping. Tenderly, I cradled it in my lap as the cars sped towards New Delhi.
On the outskirts of the city we stopped so that Edwina and Dickie could transfer into the horse-drawn landau for the final leg of the journey to Viceroy’s House. I could not see the point of such a show for there was a marked lack of crowds to welcome the new Viceroy and Vicereine. Out of nowhere, I remembered that in 1912 someone had thrown a bomb at the elephant carrying the then Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, and his wife when they were passing through Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. The Viceroy had sustained serious injuries, and the mahout had been killed. And now Dickie and Edwina were out in front in the open-topped carriage. They smiled through clenched teeth at the non-existent crowds, and hated one another. They had not exchanged more than a few words during the whole flight.
Through the windscreen of the car I watched the landau with its mounted escort of the Viceroy’s bodyguard, wheel past India Gate. Facing the Gate was a high stone canopy underneath which stood a monumentally square, almost Soviet-style statue of King George V.
‘Look!’ Ronnie Brockman pointed to the great cupola dome of Viceroy’s House. In the distance, it seemed to float on a cushion of the palest blue. ‘Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Isn’t it magnificent?’ Ronnie had been in New Delhi during the war when he was Secretary to Lord Louis in his capacity as Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia. He was gearing up for the role of tour guide. ‘The city of New Delhi was commissioned in 1911, and designed by Lutyens and his colleague Herbert Baker. It is in a unique style, as you will see, combining Western classicism with Indian decorative motifs.’ Elizabeth and I nodded dutifully. Judging the danger of bombs, stones and Molotov cocktails to be minimal by this point, I rolled the window down.
There was no wind, not even the promise of a breeze. The pennants on the lances of the Viceroy’s bodyguard barely moved. The men were tall in their turbans, splendid in white breeches, black jackboots and red jackets. The hooves of their horses clattered as they rode a neat collected trot.
‘North Block, South Block.’ Ronnie Brockman was feeling at home, proudly indicating the two great administrative blocks of red sandstone, one on either side of the road, each topped with its own miniature dome. Here was the heart of the British Raj that ruled over four hundred million people. I wondered who might be looking down at us from behind the black unblinking windows. The size and the scale of the buildings made Whitehall look like a toy town. Surely it was Britain that was ruled by India, not the other way round?
Grab your copy of ‘The Last Vicereine’ here today!

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