Shelf Control #45: The Glory of Patan by K.M. Munshi

Wednesday the 22nd of May, and Shelf Control time again. Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about celebrating the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. Each week, simply pick up a book from your TBR, and write a post about it. Don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do share your links in the comments with me as well as I’d love to check out your picks.

This month, I’ve been reading (or at least am attempting to read) the 2018 books on my TBR pile and so for Shelf Control have been featuring other recent publications waiting to be read on my shelves. This week’s pick is The Glory of Patan by K.M. Munshi (translated by Rita and Abhijit Kothari). The book is and isn’t a recent publication. The book was originally published in Gujarati in the 1910s, but this translation came out in 2017.

What it’s all about: This is the first of the ‘Patan Trilogy’ ; in the book, the Kingdom of Patan is facing an uncertain future. The king, Karnadev is on his deathbed while his heir, Jayadev is much too young to take the throne. Warlords are scheming and merchants attempting to wrest power. In this atmosphere, it falls to the Queen Minaldevi, and chief minister Munjal Mehta to maintain order, and ensure that the throne is secure for Jayadev to take over. Thus begins an exciting and fast-paced tale of the exploits of the Chalukya dynasty in Gujarat.

The Author: Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (1887-1971) was an activist, politician, educationist, and writer from Gujarat. He has written many novels, dramas, and also non fiction in Gujarati, Hindi, and English. I have mentioned this in another post but my first acquaintance with Munshi was in college classes, as when studying the Constituent Assembly and its debates in any context, Munshi is often quoted, and it was only much later that I realised that the novelist and politician were the same. The translators Rita and Abhijit Kothari are researchers and teachers based in Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad.

The author on a stamp
Source: India Post, Government of India [GODL-India (https://data.gov.in/sites/default/files/Gazette_Notification_OGDL.pdf)%5D via wikimedia commons

Last year I happened to read one of his books, Prithvi Vallabh (review here), also a work of historical fiction based on a twelfth-century poem, which I enjoyed reading, mostly because of its many unconventional elements. After reading that I wanted to explore more of his works and someone on Goodreads recommended this trilogy, so when I found this one on sale, I picked it up last year (I think it was in October). I have a hardback edition published by Penguin/Viking.

Have you read any books by this author? Which ones and how did you like them? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

All the info about the book is from the blurb on the book itself, while about Munshi is from wikipedia (here).

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Shelf Control #44: The Great Passage by Shion Miura

Wednesday, the 15th of May! Shelf Control time again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles. To take part, simply pick a book from your TBR and write a post about it–what made you pick it up, why you are excited to read it and such. Link back to Lisa’s page of course, and do leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to look at your picks!

This week, I’m continuing with featuring recent publications in these posts as my theme for this month is 2018 reads. [I don’t have that may 2018 books pending as of now so have broadened the range for Shelf Control.] The book I picked this week is The Great Passage by Shion Miura. The book was first published in Japanese in 2011, while its translation by Juliet Winters Carpenter was published in 2017.

What it’s all about: Described as ‘[a] charmingly warm and hopeful story of love, friendship, and the power of human connection’. Kohei Araki has been inspired from a young age by the various meanings that words carry, and finds a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime, who collects antiquarian books and has a background in linguistics. When Majime finds himself tasked with completing The Great Passage, a 2900-page tome on the Japanese language, on his journey he finds friendship, romance, dedication to his work, and inspiration from something that binds us all–words.

I got this book on Kindle as part of Amazon’s World Book Day offers.

This sounds like a really interesting read, focused around themes that I love–books and words. The description of Araki’s character reminds me very much of a character I ‘met’ in another Japanese work recently, Tomura in The Forest of Wool and Steel (review here), who is so deeply affected by the sounds of a piano being tuned in his school, that he takes up tuning as a career. This book, which is also about the making of a dictionary, also has shades of another read I very much enjoyed, The Surgeon of Crowthorne. This seems to be a book that I’m quite sure I will enjoy reading, and certainly one that give me plenty of food for thought as well.

The Author and Translator: Shion Miura, the daughter of a classics-scholar, who loved reading from a young age, published her first novel in 2000, the year after graduating. She has written several novels and short stories, and won the Naoki prize in 2006 for her linked short-story collection, The Handymen in Mahoro Town, and the Booksellers Award in 2012 for The Great Passage.

Juliet Winters Carpenter is an American translator of Japanese literature and has translated several novels, short story and poetry collections. She has won the Japanese-US Friendship Commission prize for her translations of Abe Kobo’s Secret Rendezvous, and Minae Mizumara’s A True Novel, besides other awards.

Have you read The Great Passage or do you plan to? What did you think of it if you have? What are some of your favourite books about books or words? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

All the info about the book and Shion Miura is from Goodreads (here and here) and about Juliet Winters Carpenter from Wikipedia (here).

Shelf Control #43: Superstar Tapir by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy

Wednesday the 8th of May, and time for another Shelf Control post. Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about celebrating the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles. If you want to join in, simply pick a book from your pile and write a post about it, linking back to Lisa’s page. Do also leave your links down below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This month as I mentioned in last week’s post (here), my reading theme is 2018 books but for Shelf Control, I’ll be picking recently published books (broader year range) to feature. This week, my pick is a 2017 publication, and a children’s book, Superstar Tapir by Polly Faber (author) and Clara Vulliamy. (illustrator).

This is the fourth in a series of (so far) four books, which feature the adventures of a little girl Mango Allsorts, and her unlikely friend, a Malaysian Tapir, Bambang, who ‘meet’ and start their journey in The Not-a-Pig (2015).

Superstar Tapir, like the previous books in the series, features four short stories including one where Mango and Bambang have a ‘snow day’, another where they go to the fair, and one which involves a rocket to the moon. They meet a filmstar tapir, Guntur; a sausage-seeking dog; and even a mummy.

I first heard of this series when a Goodreads friend mentioned it in her review, and what caught my attention about the books was not only the charm of the stories (which came through so well in her review), but also the art work. Each of the books is illustrated (by Clara Vulliamy) in black, white, grey, and one colour, the first book in purple, the second, an reddish-orange, the third blue, and finally, this one a mango yellow (actually it could be called orange, but the colour reminds me very much of a ripe mango). The covers and pages between the stories are done in distinctive stripes–white and the colour in question.

Book 3: Tiny Tapir Trouble

My friend’s review really made me really want to try out this series, and when I found this one on sale last year, I decided to pick it up. I bought a paperback published by Walker books (ordered online, as most of my books are lately). I’m really looking forward to trying this out, as the characters and stories look really endearing and sweet, and I also loved the artwork as I flipped through the book.

Have you read this one or any others in this series? Do you plan to? How did you find it/them if you did? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Shelf Control #42: Attendant Lords by T.C.A. Raghavan

Wednesday the 1st of May (wow, time is flying) and time for Shelf Control once again :). Shelf control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. All you do to participate is pick a book waiting to be read on your TBR pile, and write a post about it. Link back to Lisa’s page, and do leave your links in the comments below too.

For the last few months I’ve been trying to focus these posts and others on the theme or genre that I choose to read that particular month. This month (April wrap up and May plans will be up later in the week), I am going to be reading books published in 2018 which I bought but haven’t got down to reading yet. But I don’t have so many of these that I can include in my May TBR as well as Shelf Control, so for these posts I broaden the range a little and will be featuring recently published books which I have waiting to be read. This week’s pick, is a non-fiction title, Attendant Lords: Bairam Khan and Abdur Rahim: Courtiers & Poets in Mughal India by T.C.A. Raghavan. This was published in 2017, and I have a hardback from HarperCollins India which I bought in August last year.

What it’s about: Bairam Khan (1501-1561) was a military commander and later regent for the Mughal Emperor Akbar (who took the throne at fourteen, even earlier by some accounts if I remember right). He began serving under the first Mughal Emperor Babur, then Humayun, before becoming regent for Akbar. His son, Abdur Rahim (1556-1627), was a soldier, poet (well known for his couplets), and one of Emperor Akbar’s navratnas (nine gems). The book traces the lives of this father and son, who together served four Mughal emperors, against the background of court intrigues, brutal power struggles, and grand literary endeavours, concluding with a chapter on their afterlives–how they are perceived and interpreted by other writers, scholars, etc. in the centuries that followed.

The young Abdur Rahim being presented to Akbar
Source: Wikimedia commons,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Young_Abdul_Rahim_Khan-I-Khana_being_received_by_Akbar,_Akbarnama.jpg

The Mughal period in Indian history is one of my favourites, and while I have been reading fiction set in the period (I’m reading through the Empire of the Moghuls series by Alex Rutherford which I’m enjoying very much), I haven’t so far gone into much non-fiction. This one sounds interesting as it takes a look at the Empire, and more importantly the court from the perspective of two very important courtiers, rather than from that of the Emperors themselves (as in the books I’ve been reading so far). Also while it covers only the four emperors the father-son duo served under, it will probably give a broader picture of the course the empire took which would be interesting reading. Rahim’s dohas or couplets were something we read in school (I found them a little tougher to understand than Kabir), and this book goes into these as well, which I am looking forward to looking into.

The Author: The author, T.C.A. Raghavan holds a PhD in history and is a former High Commissioner of India to Singapore and Pakistan.

Have you read this one or do you plan to? What did you think of it if you have? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Shelf Control #41: Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell

Wednesday the 24th of April, and time for Shelf Control once again. Shelf Control is a feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, celebrating the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles. If you want to join in, every Wednesday, simply pick a book from your TBR pile (or mountain, as mine is:) ), and write a post about it. Link back to Lisa’s page and do share your links in the comments below as well, as I’d love to see your picks!

This is the final Shelf Control post in April, and I have yet another book today published in the 1930s (which is my reading theme for the month). Today’s pick is Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell. This book was first published in 1934. This is second in a series of thirty-two books that Thirkell set in the fictional county of Barshetshire, created by Antony Trollope. He wrote six Chronicles of Barsetshire.

What it’s all about: The story is centered on the Leslie family of Rushwater House, where Lady Emily reigns amidst confusion and turmoil. Mr Leslie has taken off on a cruise to the “Northern Capitals of Europe”. Agnes, the daughter of the house is home on a visit with her children. Two other sons deal with their problems and try to find their own paths. One grandson, Martin is fast growing up. There is a cousin Mary, also there on a visit. And there’s more of a cast to add to the confusion–French tenants, and a social leech, Mr Holt. Wild Strawberries takes us on an amusing journey into all their lives and interactions!

Angela Thirkell
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Angela Thirkell, was an English and Australian novelist. Daughter of John Mackail and Margaret Burne-Jones, she was a first cousin once removed to Rudyard Kipling. Her brother Denis Mackail was also a novelist, best known these days I think for Greenery Street republished by Persephone books in 2002. [Going off on a tangent here, but Mackail’s work was praised by Wodehouse in one of his books, and the one book I’ve read by him, Romance to the Rescue was really good fun, very Wodehousian.] Thirkell’s works are described as having ‘satirical exuberance’. She has written a handful of standalone books, besides the Barsetshire Chronicles. Find out more about Angela Thirkell on Wikipedia (here) and from the Angela Thirkell Society of North America here.

I read one of her Barshetshire books a couple of years ago, August Folly (1936) which was a delightful comedy of manners set around an amateur performance of Hippolytus being rehearsed in a village amidst which many f the characters fall in love or fancy themselves in love, only to be shaken back into reality and their senses eventually. Based on that reading experience, I so expect Wild Strawberries to be a fun and crazy journey as well!

Have you read this book or any of Thirkell’s other Barshetshire books? If any other/s which one/s? Did you enjoy them? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

All the information about the book and Thirkell, are as always from Wikipedia and Goodreads, and about August Folly, from my own review.

Shelf Control #40: Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

Wednesday, the 17th of April, and time again for Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is about celebrating the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR and write a post about it, linking back to Lisa’s page. Do share your links with me as well as I’d love to check out your picks as well.

As April 2019 is my month for reading 1930s books, I’ve been trying to include 1930s publications or books set in that period in my other posts as well, including Shelf Control. So, this week to I have another 1930s pick, and another mystery (the first, two weeks ago was a British Library Crime Classic (here)), Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer. Death in the Stocks was first published in 1935.

This is the first in Heyer’s series of mysteries featuring Superintendent Hannasyde, described on Goodreads as “a perspicacious police superintendent for Scotland Yard”. He appears in four books (Death in the Stocks, Behold! Here’s Poison, They Found Him Dead, and A Blunt Instrument), and the series continues with his junior officer, Inspector Hemmingway, who appears in a further four books.

In this one, an English bobbie on his way back from patrol finds a body in evening dress, where else but in the stocks of the village green. The victim is Andrew Vereker, a not-very-well liked man, and in whose family there are several people with a motive to kill him. The family are corrupt, eccentric, and in no way cooperative. So of course, Hannasyde must investigate and identify a killer “so cunning that even his consummate powers of detection are tested to their limits…”.

Georgette Heyer, English writer of romances and detective fiction, was born in Wimbledon in 1902, and named after her father George Heyer. At seventeen, she began a serial story to entertain her brother who was ill, which her father enjoyed so much that he asked her to prepare it for publication and found an agent. This was The Black Moth. She went on to write numerous historical romances (particularly Regency romances), and other historical fiction, mysteries, short stories, and also a couple of essays.

I’ve read a few of her romances which were enjoyable, and also a couple of books featuring Inspector Hemmingway which I very much enjoyed. The mysteries, even when I could figure out the murderer, were enjoyable reads and what I especially liked about them is the humorous tone in which they are written, and the somewhat eccentric characters the Inspector encounters in each of his cases. (Incidentally, another of her mysteries, Penhallow, is an excellent character study, keeping one completely engrossed even when one knows whodunit.) So I am hoping that this first part of this series will have these elements too, and am looking forward to reading it.

Have you read this one or any of Heyer’s mysteries? Did you enjoy them or do you prefer her romances (if you’ve read those)? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

All the information on the book and on Heyer is from Goodreads, and Wikipedia as always!

Shelf Control #38: Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Wednesday, April 3rd, and time again for Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a weekly feature, hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about celebrating the books waiting to be read on your TBR pile. To participate, all you do is pick any book and write a post about it, linking back to Lisa’s page. Do also leave your links in the comments as I’d love to check out your selections.

So the last couple of months I have been trying to pick books from my TBR for this feature which also fall into my reading theme for that month, and I am going to try and continue that attempt this month as well. This month, my theme is the 1930s, and I’ll be reading books written in that decade (reading plans here). So as part of that, my first pick for Shelf Control this month is a British Library Crime Classic, Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

What it’s all about: This is of course a mystery, one of my favourite genres. The story is set around a hunting party hosted one autumn by Lord Aveling at his country home Bragley Court. Guests include a mystery novelist, an artist, a journalist, and an actress. John Foss, injured at the local train station, is brought to the house to recuperate, and is the thirteenth guest. But suddenly, a painting is mutilated, a dog stabbed, and a man strangled, followed by other deaths. Detective Inspector Kendall investigates!

This book, first published in 1936, sounds like a perfect classic country house mystery which is something I really enjoy reading. A seemingly harmless country house party with guests that harbour secrets, one of them perhaps turning out to be a murderer–it can certainly make for some interesting reading! This book seems to have received mixed reviews, though a few of my GR friends have liked it very much. I have read one other book by this author before, The Z Murders, which I had mixed feelings about (review here), but the plot of this one, especially the country house setting, makes me want to give it a try all the same. [I also have another of his, Mystery in White on my TBR pile for this month!]

The Author: Joseph Jefferson Farjeon (1883-1955) was an English writer, screenwriter, and playwright. He has written numerous works of detective and other fiction under his own name and pseudonyms, besides plays and short story collections (A full list is on wikipedia here, and while I was too lazy to count, there are well over eighty books on the list).

Have you read this book or any other book by J. Jefferson Farjeon? Which one/s? How did you find it/them? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Shelf Control #37: On the Come Up

The final Wednesday of March, and time again for Shelf Control. I’ve missed putting up posts under this feature through most of this month, and have been slack in my blogging generally, but am hoping to get back into it. [Reading has been going well this month, however.] Shelf Control is a feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR pile. To participate, pick any book from your TBR and write a post about it. Link back to Lisa’s page and also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to read about your choices.

This month I’ve been reading (mostly) Young Adult fiction (see March Plans here), and like I did last month, I’m trying to focus my shelf control posts on that theme as well. Today, my pick is one of the newer additions to my shelves, On the Come Up by Angie Thomas.

Earlier this month, I read The Hate U Give by the same author, and found it to be worth all the hype that surrounds it, gritty, impactful, compelling (review on Goodreads here). Having read that, I almost immediately went ahead and ordered this one. (This has happened with me twice this month, I also ordered The Wicked King as soon as I finished (in fact, before I technically finished) The Cruel Prince).

What It’s All About: On the Come Up is, like The Hate U Give, about another teen Bri Jackson, who is sixteen and dreams of being one of a greatest rappers of all time. Her father was a rap legend who died before making it big. But her mother has lost her job, Bri is labelled as trouble in school, and they find themselves struggling to make ends meet with bills piling up, and homelessness staring them in the face.

The Author: Angie Thomas born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, where she still lives, is a former teen rapper. Her first book, The Hate U Give debuted at no. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and has received several awards. On the Come Up is her second book.

On the Come Up sounds like it will turn out every bit as compelling as THUG but the only thing that makes me a little bit sceptical is my unfamiliarity with the music that will obviously feature in it. But I am still looking forward to reading it very much.

Have you read this one and/or the Hate U Give? How did you find it/them? Looking forward your thoughts!

I’ve written on the Hate U Give previously in a Shelf Control post (here).

Shelf Control #36: Revelation by C.J Sansom

The final Wednesday of the month, and time again for Shelf Control. Shelf Control is a feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR pile. To participate, simply pick one of the books from your TBR and write a post about it. Link back to Lisa’s page and also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to read about your choices.

February being my month for reading historical mysteries, I have also been featuring historical mysteries in Shelf Control all this month (my previous posts are here, here, and here). This time, my pick is a book from a series that I’m really enjoying reading, Revelation by C.J. Sansom.

The Series: The Matthew Shardlake series is set in Tudor England, a period about which I enjoy reading very much, and features Matthew Shardlake a lawyer who is a protege of sorts of Thomas Cromwell. When the series opens, Shardlake is charged by Cromwell with investigating a murder at a monastery in Scarnsea, amidst the unrest that the dissolution of monasteries by Henry the VIII has brought on. His service with Cromwell continues into the second book, but even after Cromwell’s death, he continues to investigate fairly complicated cases. The series has seven books so far, the first six in Henry VIII’s reign, while book 7 sees Shardlake in the service of Elizabeth, while Edward VI is on the throne.

Henry VIII, Joos van Cleve [Public domain] via wikimedia commons

The Book: It is Spring 1943 and Henry VIII is wooing Catherine Parr, while the protestant faction at court watches with bated breath as Lady Catherine is known for her reformist tendencies. Alongside, a teenage boy, a religious fanatic is placed in Bedlam. When an old friend of Matthew Shardlake is murdered, he finds himself led to both these threads, and also to the book of Revelation. There are a series of murders, witchcraft and possession to contend with on the way, in this once again complex mystery or should I say mysteries. Revelation is the fourth book in the series.

The Author: C.J Sansom is a Scottish-born writer of historical novels, who holds a BA and PhD in history. After holding different jobs, he retrained as a solicitor, and practiced for a while before taking to writing full time. Besides the seven Shardlake novels, he has also written two other historical novels, one set in 1940 Spain in the aftermath of the civil war, and one an alternative history in Britain after World War II.

The Author, from the goodreads page, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/80212.C_J_Sansom

I’ve loved what I’ve read of this series so far, and am really looking forward to get to this one!

Have you read this one or any other books in this series? What did you think of them? Which is your favourite in the series. Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

Shelf Control #35: The Hanover Square Affair

Wednesday the 20th of February, and time for another Shelf Control post. Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about celebrating the books that are waiting to be read on your TBR. To participate, all you do is to pick a book from your TBR pile and write about it. Don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave links to your posts below if you chose to participate as I’d love to read about your picks.

This week, still on my historical mysteries February reading theme, I’ve picked yet another book that I got on Kindle, The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner.

What it’s all about: This is once again a first in series, the Captain Lacey Mysteries, which has thirteen full books, and a few shorter stories. In this book, Captain Lacey, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars returns to Regency London, burned out, and fighting Melancholia. When back he learns of a missing woman, who may have been kidnapped by a member of parliament. His interest is piqued, leading him to look into the mystery. In his way are murder, corruption, and even a tryst with the underworld. Alongside, he struggles with transitioning from life as a soldier back to civilian life.

The Author: Ashley Gardner also writes as Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James and writes in the genres of mystery, romance, urban fantasy, and historical fiction. She has written over fifty novels. Among her books are the Captain Lacey Regency mysteries, and the Kat Holloway Victorian mysteries.

This book doesn’t have the most attractive covers (either of them) but the description sounds fairly interesting, and the historical setting, in Regency England, was something that drew me to it. The book is still available free on Kindle so, if you’re interested find it on Amazon India here and Amazon.com here. (I can’t post the links to the UK site since they don’t let me access their kindle store.)

Have you read this book or any other in this series before? How did you like it? Do you plan to read any/any more? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!