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Book Nook - 05-12-2016

Monday, December 05, 2016
By Deepa Gahlot

There are Lit Fests taking place all over the country, but the community of readers is dwindling. Still, passionate book lovers would like to know what others like themselves are reading. This Book Nook suggests some books, but would also like to connect with serious readers, or even casual airport book browsers. Do write in about books you have loved or hated and why. The best entries will be shared on this page. Please send your recommendations to

Magic, She Said
The film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has recently hit the cinemas, and the screenplay written by JK Rowling, has been published in an attractive, illustrated hard cover volume. Reports say that it has shot to the top of the bestseller charts. Right now, anything the Harry Potter author touches turns to gold.

The story was based on the textbook written by Rowling’s fictional “magizoologist” Newt Scamander, which is used by students at Hogwarts. In 2001, Rowling published a version of this textbook –with scribbled margin notes by harry Potter – with a large chunk of the proceeds from the book’s sales going to UK charity Comic Relief. Now a five-part movie franchise has been planned to grow out of this slim volume, the first, starring Eddie Redmayne as Newt was out a couple of weeks ago.

The film, following the screenplay, is set in 1926 New York, where Scamander arrives with his magical briefcase, in his quest to find and protect magical creatures. His encounter with a No-Maj (or Muggle) named Jacob ends up in the escape of a few of his fantastic beasts from the briefcase, into a city already terrorised by viciously destructive attacks.

There has been trouble brewing between the community of magic folk and the No-Majs. The villain here is Grindelwald, who is just as evil, if not more, as Voldemort from the Potter books. This story with its clear allusions to social problems of today—like suspicion or hatred of the outsider or ‘other’ which is far worse now than the race related problems of that era—is meant more for older people than for kids. When it comes to creating and naming her fantastic beasts, Rowling lets her imagination run wild--like the kleptomaniac Niffler, or the wondrous Swooping Evil, who would delight kids. The CGI team that worked on the film, must have enjoyed the challenge of bringing them on to the screen.

Those who have seen the film might be a little disappointed with the drawings in the book. Those who have not seen the film, will have fun imagining what the critters would look like. In any case, it is worth picking up.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
By: JK Rowling
Publisher: Little Brown/Hachette
Pages:  288

The Niffler is a British beast. Fluffy, black and long-snouted, this burrowing creature has a predilection for anything glittery. Nifflers are often kept by goblins to burrow deep into the earth for treasure. Though the Niffler is gentle and even affectionate, it can be destructive to belongings and should never be kept in a house. Nifflers live in lairs up to twenty feet below the surface and produce six to eight young in a litter.

The Demiguise is found in the Far East, though only with great difficulty, for this beast is able to make itself invisible when threatened and can be seen only by wizards skilled in its capture. The Demiguise is a peaceful herbivorous beast, something like a graceful ape in appearance, with large, black, doleful eyes more often than not hidden by its hair. The whole body is covered with long, fine, silky, silvery hair. Demiguise pelts are highly valued as the hair may be spun into Invisibility Cloaks.

The Erumpent is a large grey African beast of great power. Weighing up to a tonne, the Erumpent may be mistaken for a rhinoceros at a distance. It has a thick hide that repels most charms and curses, a large, sharp horn upon its nose and a long, rope- like tail. Erumpents give birth to only one calf at a time.

The Graphorn is found in mountainous European regions. Large and greyish purple with a humped back, the Graphorn has two very long, sharp horns, walks on large, four-thumbed feet, and has an extremely aggressive nature. Mountain trolls can occasionally be seen mounted on Graphorns, though the latter do not seem to take kindly to attempts to tame them and it is more common to see a troll covered in Graphorn scars. Powdered Graphorn horn is used in many potions, though it is immensely expensive owing to the difficulty in collecting it. Graphorn hide is even tougher than a dragon’s and repels most spells.

A horned, pale-green water demon, the Grindylow is found in lakes throughout Britain and Ireland. It feeds on small fish and is aggressive towards wizards and Muggles alike, though merpeople have been known to domesticate it. The Grindylow has very long fingers, which, though they exert a powerful grip, are easy to break.

The Mooncalf is an intensely shy creature that emerges from its burrow only at the full moon. Its body is smooth and pale grey, it has bulging round eyes on top of its head, and four spindly legs with enormous flat feet. Mooncalves perform complicated dances on their hind legs in isolated areas in the moonlight.These are believed to be a prelude to mating (and often leave intricate geometric patterns behind in wheat fields, to the great puzzlement of Muggles). Watching Mooncalves dance by moonlight is a fascinating experience and often profitable, for if their silvery dung is collected before the sun rises and spread upon magical herb and flower beds, the plants will grow very fast and become extremely strong. Mooncalves are found worldwide.

The Murtlap is a ratlike creature found in coastal areas of Britain. It has a growth upon its back resembling a sea anemone. When pickled and eaten, these Murtlap growths promote resistance to curses and jinxes, though an overdose may cause unsightly purple ear hair. Murtlaps eat crustaceans and the feet of anyone foolish enough to step on them.

Swooping Evil is a large, butterfly-like creature that emerges from a small object, possibly a cocoon.  Appearance: Blue and green winged beast.


The cyber world is growing in power, and the change it brings about in human behaviour is a fascinating subject for study, which Dr Mary Aiken has done in her pioneering book. A must read for anyone who is interested in the way the internet impacts society. The synopsis says, “Dr Mary Aiken is the world’s leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology—a discipline that combines psychology, criminology, and technology to investigate the intersection where technology and human behavior meet. In this, her first book, Aiken has created a starting point for all future conversations about how the Internet is shaping development and behavior, societal norms and values, children, safety, security, and our perception of the world. Cyberspace is an environment full of surveillance, but who is looking out for us? The Cyber Effect offers a fascinating and chilling look at a future we can still do something about. Drawing on her own research and extensive experience with law enforcement, Mary Aiken covers a wide range of subjects from the impact of screens on the developing child to the explosion of teen sexting, and the acceleration of compulsive and addictive behaviors online (gaming, shopping, pornography). She examines the escalation of cyberchondria (anxiety produced by self-diagnosing online), cyberstalking, and organized cybercrime in the Deep Web. Aiken provides surprising statistics and incredible-but-true case studies of hidden trends that are shaping our culture and raising troubling questions about where the digital revolution is taking us. The Cyber Effect will upend your assumptions about your online life and forever change the way you think about the technology you, your friends, and family use. Readers will gain a new understanding of the rapid change taking shape around us and come away with critical tools to become part of this very necessary conversation.”

The Cyber Effect
By Dr Mary Aiken 
Publisher: Hachette 
Pages: 388

Keeping with the current trend of thrillers based in real life cases, right out of the news, Puja Changoiwala’s book is about the cunning, smooth-talking killer Vijay Palande and the sensational Tikku murder case. The synopsis states, “It takes a fearless mind to harbour such a dark heart, a heart that knows no nobility, no apology...  Mumbai, April 2012. The gruesome murder of a senior citizen in a wealthy Mumbai neighbourhood leads the city’s Crime Branch to unearth several half-naked, mutilated and dismembered bodies rotting in the ravines of the Western Ghats on the outskirts of the city. A trail of missing suspects, a lethal honey-trap, and unexpected links with Mumbai's film industry and the underworld, brings the investigators - and the press, ever hungry for breaking news - to Vijay Palande, a cold-blooded killer equipped with the sophistication of Charles Sobhraj, the manipulative genius of Ted Bundy and the cruelty of Jack the Ripper.

In The Front Page Murders, Puja Changoiwala, who covered the incidents as they unfolded, recounts in gripping detail the story behind the sensational case of multiple murders that shocked the country. Startling and intensely sobering by turns, her compelling narrative explores not just the murky depths of a serial killer's mind but, tellingly, the media's frenzy for a juicy story and the insatiable human appetite for horror.”

The Front Page Murders
By Puja Changoiwala  
Publisher: Hachette 
Pages: 355

Kamini Kusum is a management professional and write, whose new book is about five women.  The synopsis states, “This collection of tales about the lives and loves of five women traces their long, eventful journeys. Meet Pooja, a teenager forced into the flesh trade but determined to escape and get justice. Shrawani who dreams of becoming a bureaucrat despite all the trials life throws her way. Avni who is torn between her childhood friend and her brand-new boyfriend. Harsha who is trapped in a loveless arranged marriage while still being haunted by thoughts of her forsaken lover. Geshna who falls head over heels for a high school sweetheart only to find her own life shrinking to accommodate his. These stories are about the odds stacked against these women in their paths to love and success, and their hope that the next turn that they make will be the one that leads them to the happiness they are longing for. "

Secrets, Sins & Struggles
By Kamini Kusim 
Publisher: Zorba 
Pages: 212

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