Archive > April 2011

Q&A with Abbas Kazerooni

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Abbas KazerooniOne of the great pleasures of writing for Curious Book Fans is getting the opportunity to indulge your curiosity by carrying out a Q&A with the author of a book you’ve loved or admired. In the case of Abbas Kaazerooni’s book ‘On Two Feet and Wings‘ I knew within the first few pages that when I got to the end I would want to know more. It’s a fascinating and largely autobiographical account of leaving his homeland of Iran when he was just nine years old and having to make his own way in the world, first in Istanbul and later in the UK. As someone who has visited Iran and is fiercely interested in its history and culture, the placing of his story during the Iran-Iraq war meant this was always going to be right up my street. What I didn’t expect was how attached I would become to the young Abbas and how much I’d want to know about the man he has become and the lessons he hopes that people – young and older – will take from his book.

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The Paris Wife

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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, book reviewThe Paris Wife is an intriguing look at the life of a literary legend from a different perspective, a novel in which Ernest Hemingway’s first wife tells us her version of their marriage, and their life in 1920s Paris, including encounters with other American expat writers.

I was attracted to this novel by hearing an abridged serialisation on the radio – the confiding intimacy of the first person narrative worked really well in this form, as does the selection of dramatic incidents and turning points in their relationship.

This novel worked well as a piece of storytelling – it must be 3 times the length of Hemingway’s own account of that period of his life in A Moveable Feast, a memoir in the form of a series of vignettes. McLain acknowledges that she drew on the memoir, which I read afterwards for comparison, and I did recognise a lot of the events Hadley describes.


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The Decision Book

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The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking by Mikael Krogerus, By Roman Tschappeler, book reviewMost of us face the same questions every day: What do I want? And how can I get it? How can I live more happily and work more efficiently?

A European bestseller, The Decision Book distils into a single volume the fifty best decision-making models used on MBA courses and elsewhere that will help you tackle these important questions – from the well known (the Eisenhower matrix for time management) to the less familiar but equally useful (the Swiss Cheese model). It will even show you how to remember everything you will have learned by the end of it.

We will be publishing series of decision making thought processes our koshkha was going through with the help of The Decision Book.

Today we start with very general thoughts on everyday decisions but be ready for more specific ones in the coming days…

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The Return of the Penny Dreadful

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Doctor Dread, Ibne SafiFor many people the discovery of an Urdu penny dreadful may be an eye opener, but Chennai based Blaft publications tied up with Tranquebar to bring out the four novels which belonged to Ibne Safi’s Jasusi Duniya series. Ibne Safi, born in Allahabad district, migrated to Karachi and there steadily churned out four novels a month, the first of which Dil-e-Mujrim, was priced at less than a rupee when it came out the 1940’s. The world he describes is a cosmopolitan one, a city that has no name or location though it is somewhere in Hindustan. This unique metro boasts bars called Arlecchino and Rialto where beautiful girls in short skirts smoke and drink and rub shoulders with criminals of the likes of the evil American Doctor Dread or the four foot high Finch who can masquerade as a monkey thanks to his agility.


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Ten Pound Pom

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Ten Pound Pom by Niall Griffiths, book reviewI’ve read very little travel writing on Australia, but then very little has grabbed my attention. We feel like we know Australia even if we haven’t been there ourselves; from Ramsey Street to the late Steve Irwin and the Australia Zoo we’re familiar with Aussie culture without having to spend twenty-four hours stuck on a plane to experience it. In his book “Ten Pound Pom”, however, Welshman Niall Griffiths turns all that on its head and makes sure that, in no uncertain terms, we learn the truth about what this faraway bastion of equality and opportunity is really like.

Back in 1976, Griffiths was, along with his family a “Ten Pound Pom”, emigrating to Brisbane under a scheme sponsored by the Australian government. Griffiths was nine at the time, twelve when the family returned to Liverpool.


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From Here to Maternity

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From Here to Maternity by Sinead Moriarty, book reviewI had already read ‘The Baby Trail‘ and ‘Perfect Match‘ by Sinead Moriarty where she tells of James and Emma Hamilton’s quest to start a family. In those two books they go through unsuccessful fertility treatment and then the lengthy process of trying to adopt a child. In this third book – From Here to Maternity – we find them with their newly adopted son Yuri, and also discover that now she has given up trying, Emma is actually pregnant! Having enjoyed the other two books very much, I was very keen to read this one although I also had a worrying niggle that, like many sequels, it would not live up to my expectations. In fact could this be one book too many about this likeable couple? I have to admit that I did not get into this book quite as easily as the other two, but by the end of it I realised that I had thoroughly enjoyed it – as much as the other two!


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A Perfect Match

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A Perfect Match by Sinead Moriarty, book reviewSinead Moriarty is one of my favourite Irish writers and the book that sold me on her writing, which I read a while ago, was The Baby Trail. In this book we met the character Emma Hamilton who was desperately trying to become pregnant without any luck. It was a book that was equally funny and moving, and I just loved reading it. Therefore I was delighted to discover that Sinead Moriarty had written two more books about Emma and her husband James. The next book was A Perfect Match, which I am reviewing here, and this one follows the couple on their quest to adopt a child.

At the start of A Perfect Match, Emma and James are just about to embark on the adoption process.


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The Baby Trail

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The Baby Trail, Sinead Moriarty, book reviewJust lately I seem to be stumbling across a number of wonderful Irish writers and I’ve just discovered another one – Sinead Moriarty! I have just read The Baby Trail which I believe was her first book and is also the first in a series about a young couple – Emma and James Hamilton – and their quest to have a baby. I found it was a brilliant read from cover to cover and it was the sort of book that I really did not want to put down.

The subject matter is really quite sensitive as anyone who is trying for a baby will soon tell you.


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Pieces of My Heart

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Pieces of My Heart by Sinead Moriarty, book reviewYou might think after reading just a few pages of ‘Pieces of My Heart‘ by Sinead Moriarty that it is going to be a light easy read typical of much chic lit. However, do not be deceived as this book is anything but that. It does have its moments of light relief but it is a heart-felt emotional read that tackles the serious issue of eating disorders and it definitely had me in tears more than once!

The story centres on the Mullen family. Paul and Ava are both pretty successful, running their own pub and party business respectively. They have two teenage daughters – Ali, clever, hard working and co-operative, and Sarah, outspoken and confident.


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My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

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My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young, book reviewThis moving historical novel tells the story of 5 people during World War I, and the opportunities, dangers and changes they face.

Working class Riley Purefoy has had a grammar school education, and an insight into upper middle class artistic life. He has known Nadine Waveney since they met playing in Kensington Gardens as children, but her wealthy parents’ bohemian principles have their limits, and when they suspect a romantic attraction the two are kept apart. Nadine wants to study art at college but her mother is concerned that she shouldn’t jeopardise her prospects of a suitable marriage. Riley enlists and Nadine signs up as a VAD, a volunteer nurse.


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The Truth About You

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The Truth About You - Melissa Hill, book reviewMelissa Hill is one of my favourite authors. She writes fabulous books about Irish women, mainly facing everyday issues but always with a twist in the tale that keeps the reader on her toes. This is one of the reasons that I love reading her books, and I always try to guess what the twist is likely to be and I am always wrong! Because of this I find her novels fresh and original but also with a formula that I know that I will enjoy. I have just finished reading her book ‘The Truth About You‘ and it did not disappoint me at all.

The book starts with a bit of a mystery. A tiny baby has been left on the doorstep of Ella’s café in the tiny quiet town of Lakeview not far from Dublin.


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On Two Feet and Wings

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On Two Feet and Wings - Abbas Kazerooni, book reviewOn Two Feet and Wings is the partially autobiographical account of how Abbas Kazerooni left his home and family in Tehran, fled to Istanbul and sought asylum in the UK. It’s not the first book to look at such a challenging journey but this one is different because the asylum seeker was just 9 years old at the time of his adventure. During the Iran-Iraq war, the Iranian authorities were desperate for more young men to send to the front. So desperate that they dropped the age at which boys could be drafted to the forces to just 8 years old. Kazerooni’s father was under surveillance by the authorities and believed that it was very likely that they would start by drafting the sons of their enemies first, sending them off to almost certain death. The family planned for Abbas and his mother to flee to Istanbul and apply for asylum and they sold up all their belongings to raise money for their journey.


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