A woman sitting with books

Meet The Author Joining Our Book Club This Month

Quick, spaces are SUPER limited!

With the huge success of July’s Book Club & Social, which saw the Gaggler ladies get together at the fantastic CMP Bar & Grill to discuss everything from books to life in Dubai. This month, we thought we would up the ante and read a novel written by a world-renowned author based right here in Dubai: Annabel Kantaria. Not only will we be reading her tantalising book The One That Got Away, but Annabel will also be joining us for our monthly book club, so you can ask her anything you want! Keep reading to find out how to join.

Up Close with Annabel Kantaria

We interviewed Annabel to learn all about her and the book we will be reading this month with The Gaggler Book Club!

How did your journey as a published author start?

I worked as a journalist and magazine editor until I had children, then I decided to take a step back from office life and focus on fiction as it had always been my dream to be an author. I started writing a novel that I’ve never shown to anyone – it was truly dire – but the process taught me quite a lot about writing. While I was writing it, I went to as many writing classes and workshops as I could each year at the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature (EAFOL) and learned from authors such as Tony Parsons and Louise Doughty. 

How did you get your big break?

When I was about a third of the way into a new manuscript, the EAFOL launched a writing competition for unpublished authors. The competition would be judged by a literary agent from London, Luigi Bonomi, and the winner would get to fly to London to meet him.

I’d spent a lot of time researching how difficult it is to get an agent in London, so I thought it was a golden opportunity. I entered, and I won first prize. Having Luigi on my side really got my foot in the door of the publishing world. He encouraged me to finish the manuscript that I’d started, and then he took me on as a client and managed to secure me my first – and then second – three-book contract.

Can you tell us a little about The One That Got Away ?

This story starts at a school reunion, where ex-lovers George and Stella meet for the first time in 15 years. Things hadn’t ended well when they split up at the end of the sixth form and George is now married, but there’s still an undeniable spark between the two of them. I can’t say too much more about what happens without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say it isn’t pretty. 

The story is told alternately from George and then Stella’s point of view. As the story unfolds, you see how differently they each view the same situations, which gives you a creeping sense of dread: how’s it all going to end? I always ask people who are reading it if they’re Team George or Team Stella. Warning: your loyalty may switch halfway through!

What was the inspiration for The One That Got Away?

I went to a 30-year school reunion myself and had the idea the same night. Nothing so juicy happened at my own reunion – not that I know of, anyway – but it did make me think what a great starting point for a novel a school reunion would be. 

Who is your favourite female author, and why?

I don’t have a single favourite female author – there are way too many amazing ones out there. But at the moment, I’m reading a lot of Lisa Jewell, Louise Candlish, and Ruth Ware. All of them are masters at creating suspense.

What is the process for writing and long does each novel take?

Well, obviously, you start with an idea. It could be a great premise, a twist, an ending, or – more rarely for me – a character. I work this up into how it could become a story, work out the bones of the plot and structure, and decide if I think it will a) work and b) be interesting enough for people to want to read it. As I’m in a contract, I usually run it past my agent and editor before I start writing – just to check they’re on board with the idea, too.

I write five mornings a week and sometimes a bit in the afternoon, too, if after-school activities allow me the headspace. I don’t usually work much in the school holidays. At that pace, it can take anything from three to six months to get the first draft down, and then another three or so months to edit and polish it up ready to send to my agent. He has a read and sends me comments, which I take on board before I submit it to the publisher. Then there’s a whole extra round of edits to go through with my editor before the manuscript is copy-edited for typos and typeset. That whole process – from idea to final manuscript – can take about a year, then there are quite a few more months while the publisher sorts out things like marketing, cover design, and finding a suitable publication slot.

Can you offer some tips for anyone looking to get their work published?

The first thing is to finish writing the book! There’s no point in worrying about how you’re going to get it published until you have something you can potentially publish. That means making time in your life to write every day. Writing really is like exercising: the more you write, the better and more efficient you become, so it’s good to make it a daily habit.

Once you have a manuscript, it’s probably worth hiring an editor or a literary consultant to look through it to make sure it’s as good as it can be before you send it to a publisher. Unless you’re writing something like poetry or non-fiction, you’ll have a better chance of getting published if you have an agent. The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook is a brilliant resource for finding an agent – it lists what each one in the UK is looking for and how to approach them. 

Tell us about your new book, The House of Whispers.

My latest title is written under my new pen name, Anna Kent, and will be out on August 5. It’s a chilling story about guilt and obsession. When Grace returns to Abi’s life years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting and, now, as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell. Just what influence does Grace have over Abi, and why has she come back now?

Welcome to the Gaggler Book Club! We want to read stories that make us think, move us, and open us up to meaningful conversations with each other and build life-long connections. We can’t wait to talk to you about this month’s book. Spaces are limited for our August Book Club featuring dinner & drinks with the author (yes! you can pose your own questions to the author in real-time!). To secure your place please find us on social at Gaggler Facebook Group to sign up and stay updated with our fellow readers!


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No, This Is Not Your Typical Advent Calendar

Let the 24 days of giving back begin!

‘Tis the season of overindulgence, late nights, and way too many social events, but at Gaggler, we’re doing things a little differently, taking this holiday season to give back instead. Here, our 2022 advent calendar will help you mark the 24 days until Christmas by conserving our oceans, educating a child, empowering underprivileged women, and more. Click on each image to get started.

December 1: Plant a Seed

With its ability to stay green in harsh desert environments, Ghaf is the country's national tree because of its cultural significance. Now, not only can you plant a seed with the help of social enterprise Goumbook, but you can also join its Community Planting Day and plant it yourself. Learn more at www.goumbook.com

December 2: Repair Local Reefs

Are you a diver, an underwater photographer, a marine biology student, or a marine biologist? Support the marine conservation efforts of Freestyle Divers by joining its environmental monitoring programmes to get involved with protecting local reefs. Learn more at www.freestyledivers.me

December 3: Enrich a Life

While there are no statistics available on the number of people diagnosed with autism in the UAE, we know that it's on the rise, so volunteer with Dubai Autism Center if helping those with special needs is something close to your heart and you have time to spare. Learn more at www.dubaiautismcenter.ae.

December 4: Educate a Child

Operating 1,687 schools across Pakistan, The Citizens Foundation has been educating children from underprivileged families since 1995, and you can support the cause by sponsoring a child's education or an entire classroom. Learn more at www.tcf.org.pk.

December 5: Caffeinate Differently

The Bee Café in Abu Dhabi is the first in the country to be operated entirely by people of determination, so supporting it with a visit is a must-do. The café is part of the Bee the Change campaign, which aims to increase the employment of people of determination. Learn more at @beethe_change on Instagram.

December 6: Save a Preemie

The world loses a newborn every 10 seconds, so let's live in a world where all premature babies – including those from vulnerable populations – have access to an incubator by donating to the founders of the portable and life-saving Embrace incubator. Learn more at www.embraceglobal.org.

December 7: Offer a Safe Space

Skateistan has been empowering Afghan girls through skateboarding and education programmes since 2009 and, now, it's expanding to 20 locations – starting with Jordan. Help the award-winning international NGO write its next chapter by making a donation. Learn more at www.skateistan.org.

December 8: Scour the Seas

Whether you sign up as a temporary or permanent volunteer, you can make a difference for the local dolphin population by volunteering with UAE Dolphin Project. As for why your help is needed? Not only are dolphins “ecological indicators” of the status of the sea, but sightings have also declined drastically in the past few years. Learn more at www.uaedolphinproject.org.

December 9: Empower Underprivileged Women

Empowering underprivileged women through sustainable crafts, Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts deserves your patronage. Looking for unique Christmas gifts? Head to its e-store and opt for something that features Sadu, a traditional weaving technique that plays a central role in the social lives of Bedouin women. Learn more at www.alghadeeruaecrafts.ae.

December 10: Gift a Meal

Partnering with UAE Food Bank to guarantee responsible distribution, the Gift a Meal initiative is on a mission to ensure that no one ever misses a lunch. Join the movement to help feed an individual in need – gifting a meal will only cost you AED 10. Learn more at www.makemymeal.ae.

December 11: Help a Sister

The first licensed non-profit shelter in the UAE that runs specifically for the care of women and children, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is always seeking volunteers who are professionals and highly skilled in educational, vocational, and recreational training, so lend a hand if you fit the bill. Learn more at www.dfwac.ae.

December 12: Remember the Forgotten

SmartLife is an NPO/NGO that reciprocates the immense hard work of blue collar workers by educating them to walk towards a better tomorrow and unleashing their hidden potential. As for how you can chip in? Anything from donating your time and passion to help to sharing creative ideas and marketing skills. Learn more at www.smartlifefoundation.org.

December 13: Buy a Doll

For each personalised doll sold that you purchase from Dumyé, a doll is gifted to a child in need. Not only can you choose your ethically handcrafted doll’s body colour, eye colour, hair colour, and hairstyle – that’s over 140 unique combinations at your fingertips – but it also makes for a present suited to a budding philanthropist. Learn more at www.dumye.com.

December 14: Grant a Wish

Make-A-Wish exists for only one reason – to grant wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions. You can make a difference to a child's life by volunteering as a wish granter, an office worker, a translator, a fundraiser, a speaker, or event staff member. Learn more at www.makeawish.ae.

December 15: Raise Awareness

Pink Caravan is a UAE-based breast cancer initiative that falls under Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP) for early detection of cancer, and you can play your part in raising awareness about this disease by donating money, registering as a volunteer, or even joining the medical team. Learn more at www.linktr.ee/pinkcaravan.

December 16: Serve the Sick

Equip a struggling hospital or clinic by making a financial donation to Project C.U.R.E., the world’s largest distributor of donated medical equipment and supplies to resource-limited communities across the globe – it has been serving the sick and dying in over 135 countries since 1987. Learn more at www.projectcure.org.

December 17: Support Health Equity

Another global non-profit rooted in improving public health, PATH comprises a global team of innovators working to accelerate health equity by advising and partnering with public institutions, businesses, grassroots groups, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. Donate now and your contribution will be matched – win-win. Learn more at www.path.org.

December 18: Protect the Planet

Shop with purpose by turning to Azraq's e-store for essentials like soap, shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable face masks, and more. The Dubai-based organisation is on a mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect the marine ecosystem and species. Learn more at www.azraqme.org.

December 19: Start Fundraising

The first licensed online donation and crowdfunding platform in the Middle East, YallaGive is all about fundraising with a smile. Campaigning for a charity or a personal cause? Start fundraising through the platform or donate to one of its many active campaigns to make a difference. Learn more at www.yallagive.com.

December 20: Join the Movement

Like the idea of simultaneously looking cool and giving back? Not only is the activewear and streetwear clothing by The Giving Movement entirely sustainable and made in the UAE, but the brand also donates AED 15 to its partner charities for every single item sold. This is conscious consumerism at its best. Learn more at www.thegivingmovement.com.

December 21: Break the Cycle

A locally based philanthropic organisation with a global outlook, Dubai Cares has been on a mission to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring all children have access to quality education since its inception in 2007. Here in the UAE, you can participate in initiatives that are linked to its global mandate – Walk for Education, Volunteer Emirates. and Volunteer Globally included. Learn more at www.dubaicares.ae.

December 22: Donate Your Locks

This holiday season, chop your locks in the name of making a cancer survivor more beautiful and confident – and what could be more beautiful than that? Enter: Locks of Hope, a campaign that provides wigs to individuals who have undergone chemotherapy with the help of both DHL and Friends of Cancer Patients. Learn more at www.focp.ae.

December 23: Get Social

With the need for improved animal welfare more urgent than ever, you can help the dedicated staff at Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre. Unable to adopt or foster a pet? Volunteer! You can head there to socialise with its adorable animals, taking the dogs for walks or spending time with the cats. Learn more at www.rakawc.com.

December 24: Save a Life

Founded in 1986, the Dubai Health Authority's Blood Donation Center is the city's main blood donation center and committed to providing a safe supply of blood to all DHA hospitals and private hospitals in Dubai. You can also donate platelets, a type of blood cell that is essential for blood clotting and helps the likes of leukemia patients and premature babies. Learn more at www.dha.gov.ae.

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Wooden Live Well

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for December

Mark your calendars.

December 3: Rediscover Dubai

Explore a side of the city that you may not know with the UAE National Day Food & Chai Tour. Guided by three homegrown brands that are passionate about exploring the city and showcasing street flavours – Frying Pan Adventures, Project Chaiwala, and Rove Hotel – you’ll head to one of Dubai’s most historic neighbourhoods for three hours of traditional snacks and local tidbits.

Learn more here.

December 4: Understand Scent

You know the region’s love of perfume – now roll up your sleeves and actually make one yourself at the Arabic Perfume Making Workshop led by social enterprise alBeqsha. Conducted in English, the hour-long session will be held at art and events space The Workshop in Jumeirah.

Learn more here.

December 10: Watch This Space

Movie screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout the month of December, with the independent cinema platform in Alserkal Avenue hosting a flawlessly curated selection of movies. Also on the roster? Making Waves, the globe-trotting film programme celebrating Hong Kong cinematic arts by showcasing an eight-film programme from December 9 to 14.

Learn more here.

December 12: Heal from Heartbreak

Coping with the breakdown or end of a committed romantic relationship is never easy, and there could be collateral damage, but healing is made a little easier with the free Heartbreak Support Group at The LightHouse Arabia. Designed for men and women over the age of 21, it’s led by a clinical psychologist and aims to provide a safe space to share, connect, seek support, and explore the challenges that come with break-ups.

Learn more here.

December 15: Take a Walk

Hone your street photography skills with the Creekside: Street Photography photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques to overcome unfavourable lighting conditions – regardless of the camera or cell phone in use – and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you on a route through Dubai Creek that is laced with culture and history.

Learn more here.

December 16: Catch a Classic

The festive season brings with it a Christmas favourite as The Nutcracker returns from Russia to Dubai Opera. A treat for the whole family, Moscow Ballet “La Classique” pairs its artistic ballet mastery with lavish costumes and magnificent stage sets to take you on a journey back in time to the beautifully nostalgic world of Clara and her beloved nutcracker doll.

Learn more here.

December 20: Feel Festive

For a festive twist on a quintessentially English tradition, book your spot at the Christmas Afternoon Tea hosted by Anything To Eclair on BreakBread. Expect to dine on Sausage Rolls, Cranberry & Kumquat Scones, and Black Forest Yule Log alongside a selection of teas and mulled wine.

Learn more here.

December 24: Cultivate Awareness

According to Mayan belief, working with cacao – a.k.a. food of the gods – allows one to cultivate awareness on an emotional and spiritual level, guiding you in the direction that you need to take. And that’s where the Heart Opening Cacao Ceremony & Sound Healing Journey at Yoga House comes in. Led by energy, sound, and breathwork practitioner Lisa Oxford, the ceremony will open your heart in order to release what no longer serves you.

Learn more here.

December 27: Ring in 2023

With 2023 on the horizon, make a beeline for the Casting Your Visions meditation session at Illuminations. Led by healer therapist and life coach Jana Reddy, this hour-long New Year meditation ritual will help your visions come true by rooted your resolutions in a resounding ‘why’ so that they’re not lost after a few months.

Learn more here.


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Wellness Calendar for November

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for November

Mark your calendars.

November 1: Speak Up

We all know the impact and importance of interpersonal relationships – and that’s where the Open Communication workshop at Illuminations comes in. Led by intuitive healer and spiritual teacher Neus Ventura, the session will focus on both personal relationships and healthy partnerships, guiding participants on how to effectively communicate about everything ranging from everyday nuisances to more serious matters.

Learn more here.

November 5: Follow the Glow

Candlelight Concerts bring the magic of unique, one-of-a-kind concerts played by flickering candlelight to locations worldwide – which now includes Dubai. The upcoming 65-minute performance will feature the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and more alongside a ballerina performance at The Theatre in Mall of The Emirates.

Learn more here.

November 7: Revisit a Myth

Choreographer Boris Eifman has mastered the tragicomedy genre. Case in point: The Pygmalion Effect, a ballet interpretation of the archetypical story of Pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his creation, a statue of a beautiful young woman. Two productions will run at Dubai Opera across two days, November 7 and 8.

Learn more here.

November 7: Revisit a Myth

November 8: Dive Into Design

Design buffs have reason to celebrate once again as Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest creative festival, returns for its eighth season. Expect everything from experimental mediums and talks to temporary pop-ups, workshops, and even children’s activities. This year’s edition is focused on designing a sustainable future, so the theme ‘Design With Impact’ will entail a series of immersive installations that demonstrate innovative design thinking.

Learn more here.

November 12: Make a Connection

Alserkal Art Week returns to Alserkal Avenue, this time spanning nine days of art and design. Reminding us that everything eventually intersects, the event will feature thought-provoking exhibitions, a Majlis Talks programme, intriguing slow art walks by curators, conversations with artists, and more.

Learn more here.

November 18: Swing and Sway

Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from exhibitions and yoga classes to breathwork meditation sessions. We’re marking our calendars for the immersive Jazz Music Night, a unique 90-minute jazz performance accented with stunning 360-degree projections.

Learn more here.

Swing and Sway

November 20: Take a Walk

Explore a side of Dubai you may not have seen and hone your street photography skills with the Karama: People & Places photo walk hosted by Gulf Photo Plus. Not only will this three-hour trek teach you techniques for difficult lighting conditions and tips on how to compose an image, but it will also take you through a route in Karama that is laced with culture and history.

Learn more here.

November 21: Grasp Your Grief

Grief is a truly complex process and affects us all – now start to understand it. The LightHouse Arabia is hosting its annual Evening of Remembrance from 6pm to 8pm, designed to help participants understand the nature of grief, its impact, and how to support someone who is grieving. The event will take place both in-person and online via Zoom.

Learn more here.

November 25: Test Your Palate

If you love chocolate and drink coffee, but have no idea what the term “single origin” means, the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop is perfect for you. Hosted by artisanal chocolate factory Mirzam, it features samples of chocolate from the Maps collection as well as single drip V60 coffees from El Salvador, Ethiopia and Brazil. You’ll receive not only instructions and handouts, but also detailed suggestions for pairing options from Mirzam’s Master Barista.

Learn more here.


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diwali in abu dhabi

5 Places to Celebrate Diwali in Abu Dhabi

Go all out for the Festival Of Lights.

In Abu Dhabi and looking to celebrate Diwali in style this month? We’ve curated a list of experiences ranging from fine dining to family fun to help you ring in the Festival of Lights with lights, colour, and sparkle. Diwali will take place on Monday, October 24 this year and will be one of the most significant holidays for Hindus who reside in the UAE.

Apart from the religious festivities, celebrations include decorating homes with clay lamps, known as diyas, and creating decorative patterns called rangoli on the floor using coloured powders or sand. Most important, though, is the quality time spent with family and friends and indulging in delicious food and desserts. Read on to make your plans. And if you’re in Dubai, don’t worry – there’s plenty to do there too.

Diwali in UAE


Head down to Emirates Palace this weekend to take in the air and enjoy an all-day outdoor street food adventure with six stalls showcasing Indian street food and sweets at the Diwali Mela from October 22-24 between 11am and 7pm. There will be special Diwali gifts for every table, as well as Martabaan sweet boxes are also available to purchase.

Martabaan, Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, 02 690 9000

Bollywood Parks

Bollywood Parks is at a prime location on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so it’s a great reason to stop by – whether you’re heading in or out of the capital. It really is a memorable destination on its own. It’s the first Bollywood-themed park in the world, and only 56 minutes from the heart of Abu Dhabi. The traditional Indian street dancers are the best part, along with the theatre performance that happens multiple times during the evening.

There is a lot to do apart from the customary performances. There’s the rocket-shaped gravity ride, carousels, vibrant hang gliders, and the Bollywood Sky Flyer, which holds the record for the largest swing ride in the world. From food and rides to just soaking in the vibes inspired by your favourite blockbusters, there is something for everyone at this theme park.

Bollywood Parks, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 800 262 9464, www.bollywoodparksdubai.com

diwali celebration in abu dhabi

Osmo Lounge

There is no better location than Osmo to celebrate Diwali in Abu Dhabi. Visit the terrace to enjoy a variety of healthy street snacks, nibbles, and treats while admiring the magnificent Yas Bay fireworks. Live stations will provide typical fare like chaat, pani puri, freshly grilled tandoori skewers, a variety of samosas, and tea. You can order off the à la carte menu or enjoy the benefits of the limitless meal and soft drink offer for just AED 200.

Osmo Lounge, Yas Bay, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 02 208 6900, www.hilton.com

Yas Bay Waterfront Fireworks

Yas Bay Waterfront Fireworks

What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights than to visit Yas Bay and take in the breathtaking fireworks display? You can enjoy this spectacle that will light up the sky on Monday, October 24. To experience a wonderful light show for the Festival of Lights, be there by 9pm.

Yas Bay Waterfront fireworks, Yas Island Yas West, Abu Dhabi, www.yasbay.ae

Capila Pool Bar & Grill

Capila Pool Bar & Grill

If you’re in Abu Dhabi for the weekend after Diwali, the Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island will continue to celebrate the Festival of Lights on October 29, and invites guests to enjoy a memorable Diwali. You can visit the spice market at Capila Pool Bar & Grill and DIY your own delicious chaat. The exquisite masala bike will serve tantalising Indian dishes while the tandoori BBQ will dish out succulent tikka. As no celebration is complete without dessert, guests can end their meal with indulgent Indian sweets. The Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island’s façade will come to life with a special 3D animated light show, and you’ll have a view of the fireworks at Yas Bay.

Capila Pool Bar & Grill, Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, 02 208 6900, [email protected]


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wellness events in Dubai

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for October

Mark your calendars.

October 1: Laugh Aloud

If laughter really is the best medicine, then consider Riaad Moosa the cure. The South African doctor-turned-comedian famed for his observational humour returns to Dubai for one night of stand-up comedy at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. Audiences will also get a chance to attend a screening of the award-winning actor’s latest release, New Material, the sequel to his hit movie Material.

Learn more here.

October 3: Recognise the Signs

With the pandemic resulting in a rise of eating disorders worldwide, the Getting to Grips with Eating Disorders and Body Image webinar hosted by The LightHouse Arabia is a great tool to help university students, university educators, and young adults gain a better understanding of what an eating disorder is and how they develop. The session will help recognise the warning signs, learn about treatment, and learn practical tips for supporting young people with such issues.

Learn more here.

October 5: Lose Your Blues

A collision of singing, dancing, and plenty of laughs awaits as Footloose The Musical makes its way to Dubai Opera for four days of performances. Whether you’re loyal to the 1984 original starring Kevin Bacon or only familiar with Craig Brewer’s 2011 remake for a new generation, this is a stage adaptation you don’t want to miss.

Learn more here.

October wellness events in Dubai

October 7: Broaden Your Perspective

At the intersection of art, science, and technology is Festival X, a one-of-a-kind event that hopes to attract and create a community of open-minded artists, scientists, and tech experts coming together and sharing knowledge. Taking place at Alserkal Avenue from October 7 to 9, it will feature exhibitions and talks (free to attend) alongside shows (priced AED 150) and workshops (priced AED 1,200).

Learn more here.

October 11: Go Green

Vegan or not, foodies across the city ought to experience the culinary prowess of French chef Vincent Caudet. We recommend booking the Fusion Vegan 5 Course Secret Menu, which encourages diners to keep an open mind and surf the vegan trend, returning to nature through a selection of 100% plant-based products.

Learn more here.

October 16: Embrace Imperfections

Take a cue from the Japanese and give a new lease of life to something broken during the guided kintsugi art workshop taking place at the upcoming UnleashYou Retreat. Held at Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, this daylong event will also feature a coaching session using the art of mandalas and another that delves into the correlation between music and interpersonal relationships.

Learn more here.

Embrace Imperfections

October 25: Think Global

Impulse purchases, cultural performances, street food, extreme rides, and family-friendly attractions – if you want to pair the return of cooler weather with a little old-fashioned fun for all ages, Global Village is where it’s at. Season 27 is set to begin on October 25, bringing with it 80 different cultures across 26 pavilions as well as plenty of new entertainment offerings.

Learn more here.

October 27: Watch This Space

Advocating tolerance and unity through film, META Film Fest marks the first film festival to take place in the country in five years – and it promises to be a big one. Spanning three days, this brand new film festival will be held at Vox Cinemas at Nakheel Mall and feature movie premieres, international blockbusters, and regional feature films. Cast members and celebrities from the Arab world, Hollywood, Bollywood, and even Nollywood are expected to make an appearance on the red carpet.

Learn more here.

October 30: Catch a Classic

It’s never too early for young ones to develop a taste for ballet, especially if it’s a production that the whole family can enjoy. Enter: The Sleeping Beauty: A Bite Size Ballet at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates. A unique spin on a classic, this 60-minute show is the perfect blend of classical elegance and immersive fun, capturing children’s attention and telling the story adapted specifically for younger audiences.

Learn more here.


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Places to Celebrate Diwali in Dubai

5 Places to Celebrate Diwali in Dubai

Let the festivities begin!

One of the world’s grandest festive occasions is right around the corner. Diwali, meaning “row of light”, marks five days of joyous cheer celebrated by friends and family. It is during this period that Hindus adorn their homes with blossoming marigolds and a wide variety of candles to commemorate the return of the Hindu god Rama to his kingdom after being exiled for 14 years. Dubai, being home to nationalities and religions from far and wide, offers a wide range of dining and entertainment options suitable for all cultural and traditional celebrations. Want to make Diwali a little extra special this year? Here are our picks of the best dining destinations for the occasion.  

Bombay Brasserie

In addition to its spirited murals and unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa, Bombay Brasserie at Taj Dubai offers a lavish blend of traditional and contemporary Indian cuisine. Enjoy the breathtaking fireworks display this festive season while you indulge in rich, aromatic flavours. Each dish promises to deliver an authentic Indian experience that’s well-suited for this joyous occasion.

Bombay Brasserie, Taj Dubai, Burj Khalifa Street, Business Bay, 04 438 3222, eatapp.co

Basanti & Co.

Celebrate Diwali in style at Basanti & Co. at Bluewaters Island. It’s the prime location to enjoy the astonishing fireworks display and the magnificent Bluewaters Street Festival while feasting on classic Indian fare. Top off your evening with a craft cocktail from the in-house lounge or a delightful gulab jamun from the dessert menu.

Basanti & Co., Bluewaters Island, 04 557 6947, [email protected]

Farzi Café

Located at City Walk in Al Safa, this beloved spot offers an elevated gourmet experience that will take your culinary journey to new heights. The gastronomic array of traditional classics fused with global delights at Farzi Café reinterprets Indian cuisine in the most unexpected ways. Additionally, the restaurant shines with the glow of diyas and fairy lights during Diwali to truly pay tribute to this major holiday.  

Farzi Café, Dubai City Walk II, Al Safa St., 04 394 2556, [email protected]

farzi cafe

Source: @khyberdubai


This award-winning restaurant situated in the heart of Palm Jumeirah stays true to its Indian identity through awe-inspiring murals, vibrant décor, and unmatched North Indian food and beverages. Share the festive spirit with company at Khyber by treating yourselves to scrumptious vegetarian delights such as the paneer tikka and makai ki tikki.

Khyber, Dukes The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, 04 455 1101, [email protected]


No matter which special occasion calls for a splurge, this elegant spot at Souk Al Bahar has you covered. Patiala’s sophisticated setting and relaxed ambiance is just the right choice if you prefer a more laidback celebration. Sit back and take pleasure in well-loved Punjabi classics accompanied by service that reflects exuberant Indian hospitality. Take your taste buds on a sensory experience this festive season with the signature vegetarian delicacies such as the dum ke khumb and garbar falooda.

Patiala, Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai, 04 451 9151, [email protected]


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You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for September

Mark your calendars.

September 2: Break Bread

Expand your culinary horizons at the Taste of Owambe supperclub hosted by Man like Mus via the BreakBread platform. Inspired by Nigerian “Owambe” parties, this intimate dining experience introduces attendees to classic festive dishes (think: jollof rice with lamb chops and plantain, puff puff, goat meat peppersoup, and more) and illustrates why the food is the best part of every Owambe party.

Learn more here.

September 3: Laugh Aloud

Jo Koy was meant to kick off his Funny Is Funny world tour in Dubai back in December 2021, but his show was postponed due to “unforeseen circumstances”. As for his rescheduled performance on May 14? Cancelled, this time due to the death of Sheikh Khalifa. Now, in a case of ‘third time’s the charm’, the Filipino-American talent will take to the stage at Coca-Cola Arena on September 3, promising that we’ll be among the first to see new material from his Netflix special before it even airs.

Learn more here.

September 8: Breathe and Reboot

Located at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Theatre of Digital Art is an immersive art space that continues to diversify, hosting everything from jazz performances to yoga flow sessions and Indian music nights. We’re marking our calendars for the hourlong Breathwork Meditation Session, which invites participants to take an immersive journey into themselves. Elisabeth Bohler, a certified meditation facilitator, will guide you through an intense circular breathing technique that has the power to reconnect you with your inner self and release stress for both body and mind.

Learn more here.

September 12: Let Go

We all know our beliefs shape the very foundation, affecting how we perceive ourselves and others, interact in our relationships, perform our work, and show up in the world – and that’s where the Letting Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs session led by Annabel Lynch at Illuminations comes in. Exclusive for women, this onsite guided meditation session is designed to help you to let go of self-limiting and critical beliefs, while inviting you into a space of presence, positive self-belief, confidence, happiness, compassion, and contentment.

Learn more here.

September 15: Catch a Must-Watch

Film screenings continue (almost) daily at Cinema Akil throughout September, with the independent cinema hosting a flawlessly curated selection that includes a Stanley Kubrick retrospective. Our pick of the roster is The Housemaid, a 1960 erotic thriller that will screen only once. Restored in 2008 by the Korean Film Archive, it chronicles how a comfortable home becomes a physical and psychological battleground in the wake of a romantic entanglement between a piano composer and his housemaid. 

Learn more here.

September 19: Pleasure Your Palate

If you love chocolate and drink coffee, but have no idea what the term “single origin” means, the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop is perfect for you. Hosted by artisanal chocolate factory Mirzam, it features samples of chocolate from the Maps collection as well as single drip V60 coffees from El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Brazil. You’ll receive not only instructions and handouts to assist with the experience, but also detailed suggestions for pairing options from Mirzam’s Master Barista.

Learn more here.

September 23: Immerse in Art

Launching on September 23, Gaudí, Kandinsky & Klee: Raise Vibration will be a one-of-a-kind cultural and immersive experience that uses cutting-edge digital technology to transform the way we perceive, understand, and feel art. Step foot into The Dubai Mall’s impressive Infinity des Lumières venue, complete  with 130 projectors and 58 speakers. Here, you can witness 3,000 moving images on a huge projectable surface, designed to bring the works of renowned artists Gaudí, Kandinsky, and Klee to life as a magnificent fusion of light, colour, sound, and rhythm.

Learn more here.

September 24: Hit the Trail

Discover the beautiful new trails in Hatta, encountering gazelles and oryx while you explore the foothills of the Hajjar mountains – all in the company of like-minded women, courtesy of UAE Trekkers. Entitled Ladies Only: Hatta’s Gazelle Trail, this weekend experience spans three hours – 4pm to 7pm – and is perfect for beginners who feel that it gives them a chance to experience hiking without worrying about their footing or fitness level.

Learn more here.

September 25: Snap Happy

You constantly take photos with your smartphone – now take them up a notch by attending the Smartphone Photography & Editing workshop at Gulf Photo Plus. The three-hour session will delve into essential camera controls, focus, and exposure lock in addition to teaching you the fundamentals of using light and shadow. Also included? How to develop a personal style, apps to conduct in-camera editing, and more.

Learn more here.


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The Ultimate Expat Woman’s Guide to Dubai

What to expect in one of the world’s most happening cities.

Are you new to Dubai? Excited to discover your new home? Overwhelmed by all the rules and regulations that you need to know? We at The Gaggler have your back! Here are some of the top things to keep in mind as a newly minted Dubai-ite.

1. Make sure to tip.

Dubai is famous for all the wide range of services available, from bee venom facials and underwater fine dining to run-of-the-mill food deliveries – the sky’s the limit. So, it’s not surprising that questions around tipping come up often. We recommend tipping anywhere from 10-15% of the cost of the service (or more if you can afford to and are feeling generous!) depending on the kind of service and its quality.

2. There’s a high chance that your body will change – and that’s okay!

It’s not uncommon for people to gain weight after coming to Dubai, and there can be several reasons for it. In some cases, you might be coming from a country with a more moderate climate where walking is common, whereas here, that may not always be an option. Dubai is also famous for its brunches and wide variety of restaurants. All that combined with the stress of moving to a new city and starting a new job makes for the perfect recipe for gaining weight. If you want to lose the extra pounds, fret not – there are plenty of gyms and experts here that can assist you. On the flip side, you may decide to embrace this new you! Because why not?

3. A quick intro to women’s health will come in handy.

There are several clinics dedicated to women’s health, while most hospitals have a robust OB-GYN department for your health concerns in Dubai. When deciding where to go, it’s always a good idea to ask a friend or colleague who has lived here for a while. If that’s not possible, you can also comb through internet reviews and contact your HR department for advice. It’s also most likely that yourOB-GYN will be a female doctor considering the cultural sensitivity in this region.

Contraception is freely available in Dubai. You can easily find condoms in supermarkets, petrol stations, and delivery apps. Birth control pills are also available in pharmacies and can be bought without a prescription or having to show your marital status. Keep in mind, though, that abortion is illegal in Dubai – unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or if the foetus is not viable. 

4. Modesty is a tricky subject sometimes.

There are several misconceptions around how to dress in Dubai. Unlike other countries in this region, like Saudi Arabia for instance, the UAE is more liberal so expat women aren’t expected to completely cover their bodies at all times or wear an abaya or headscarf. That being said, context and location matters. If you’re visiting some of the older regions of Dubai – such as the Spice Souk – or you want to tour a mosque, you will definitely need to dress modestly. This can mean covering your arms and legs (no cleavage!) along with a headscarf if you are visiting a mosque. In comparison, if you are going to the beach (where you are allowed to wear a bikini or one-piece) or places like Downtown Dubai, you can dress more liberally. 

You also have to factor in the weather aspect when deciding what to wear. Summers in Dubai can be brutal, with temperatures ranging from 35-55ºC, so nobody expects you to wear trousers or full sleeves during that time. Ironically, we also recommend carrying a light jacket with you during the summer as most places tend to blast the AC indoors to compensate for the heat outside.

5. If you drink, invest in a liquor license!

All Dubai residents who want to buy and transport alcohol, or wish to drink at home or outside, need to have a liquor license. All you need is your Emirates ID and an NOC from your spouse if you are on their visa. You must also be non-Muslim and 21 or over. It costs AED 270 per year and comes with vouchers and rewards. African + Eastern, MMI, and legalhomedelivery.com are the only stores where you can legally purchase alcohol. Keep in mind that drinking in public and public intoxication is not allowed. 

6. You no longer need to marry to cohabit.

As part of law reforms in November 2020, unmarried couples can now live together and have consensual sex without having to get married for the sake of cohabitation, unlike before.

7. You may experience some hair fall, but plenty of help is available.

Hair loss woes are common among the expat population in the UAE, and many people blame it on the water. However, according to experts, this phenomenon is not linked to the water quality and can instead be explained by other causes – stress, hormones, genetic predisposition, and a poor diet included. Many people resort to shower filters (especially if you’re suspicious of the water), rely on hair loss products, and consult medical professionals and experts to resolve the issue. And have seen success, too! 

8. Cut down on the PDA. 

In order to respect other people’s cultural and religious values (and to not get into trouble with the law!), avoid kissing and being overly affectionate with your partner. Holding hands or light hugs are usually okay, but anything more is likely to turn heads. Of course, familial displays of affection are acceptable.

9. Me-time at the salon is practically a rite of passage.

No move to a new city is complete without a new self-love ritual and, here, we swear by the weekly mani-padi and hair blowout. And considering Dubai boasts countless quality salons that won’t break the bank, you’ll always be spoilt for choice.

10. Buttermilk is surprisingly hard to find.

If you enjoy buttermilk, you might be in for a bind as it is not always easy to find it. The closest thing available would be laban, or Middle Eastern buttermilk, which might taste different from what you’re familiar with, but will definitely get the job done. 

11. Be careful of what you bring in through the airport.

The rules on what is allowed to be bought here can be quite strict. Some things that are not permitted and that travellers might not be aware of include poppy seeds (which might be present in certain bakery products), cannabis products (even if they don’t make you high), and adult toys.

12. Girl’s night out doesn’t have to break the bank.

Dubai is famous for its nightlife, but that doesn’t mean that you have to splurge each time you go out. Ladies’ nights are plenty in Dubai and, if you plan your night out well, you can end up spending very little – and in some cases, even nothing for drinks! We recommend websites like ladiesnightdubai.com and apps like 7Nights to find the best deals.

13. Be careful of where you point your camera.

While Dubai might be one of the most social media-ready cities, there are some rules to keep in mind regarding photography. For security reasons, make sure to not take images of military sites and government buildings. Do not take pictures of others, especially women and children, without their consent. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it may be easy to forget when clicking away in public, especially when taking selfies as people in the background may not appreciate being included. The same applies to distributing or exhibiting images of others – always get their consent. 

14. WhatsApp calls won’t work, but there are alternatives. 

Certain websites and voice-over-IP services like WhatsApp calls aren’t available in Dubai, so many people use VPNs to circumnavigate these restrictions. VPNs in themselves are not illegal, but using them for illegitimate purposes such as committing fraud or crime is a punishable offense. If you’re looking for free voice and video services, Zoom, Google Meet, and the new app GoChat Messenger are great alternatives!

15. Add a handful of Arabic words to your dictionary.

While people of all nationalities reside in Dubai – and English remains the most widely spoken language – knowing certain Arabic phrases is essential for any resident! Let’s start with the ubiquitous yalla. This is one of the most common Arabic words you’ll hear, and it means ‘let’s go’ or ‘come on’. Mafi mushkila, meaning ‘no problem’, is another common phrase.

Habibi (male) or habibti (female) can mean ‘my beloved’ or ‘my darling’, and is used as an expression of endearment between friends, family, partners etc. Be careful who you use the term with unless you’re sure about your relationship. A few other common greetings include:

  • Shukran means ‘thank you’ and can be responded with afwan
  • As-salamu alaykum can be translated to ‘peace be upon you’ and is often responded with wa-alaikum-salaam, which means ‘and unto you peace’ 
  • Marhaba means ‘welcome’
  • Inshallah means ‘if God wills’ and is used to refer to future events

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wellness events in Dubai

You, But Better: The Gaggler Agenda for August

Mark your calendars.

August 1: Shop Responsibly

The Rethink Summer festival at d3 continues to keep residents entertained, but one event in particular is encouraging sustainability, too. Hosted by upcycled fashion store Reborn, an ongoing pop-up held until August 26 will help you both spruce up your summer wardrobe and give back – the collection is made from recycled materials that are 100% cotton. Additionally, AED 11 is donated to UNHCR for every item purchased.

Learn more here.

August 5: Reconnect with Nature

Come summer, family-friendly excursions are always a good idea, so The Turtle Trip by UAE Trekkers wins our vote. Taking participants to some of the most scenic places in Oman, the two-day jaunt is rooted in the best time of year to see the baby turtles hatching and the big mamas laying their eggs in Ras al Hadd. You’ll also explore the canyon and waterfall cave of Wadi Shabb followed by a sea safari.

Learn more here.

August 7: Take the Wheel

In Sanskrit, the word ‘chakra’ literally means ‘wheel’, describing the circular whirlpools of energy that work to keep the life force (prana) flowing through us. Enter: the Chakra Yoga course at Yoga House, which is designed to give participants an understanding of the chakra system and how it is related to one’s health, well-being, and yoga practice over a span of four weeks.

Learn more here.

wellness events

August 11: Shift Your Perspective

A collective exhibition featuring ten female artists from around the world, Eyes Wide Shut embodies a visual exploration on a wide range of socio-political issues through multidisciplinary mediums such as painting, collage, and installation. Hosted by Firetti Contemporary, the exhibition wraps up on August 12, so take the evening to join these women as they challenge preconceived notions and expose blind spots.

Learn more here.

August 12: Prioritise Yourself

It’s no secret that women always put the needs of others before their own, and that’s precisely where the Embracing the Goddess Within session at Illuminations comes in. Led by Neus Ventura and created exclusively for women, this 60-minute meditation session will help you embrace your own feminine energy to open your ability to receive. It’s a beautiful opportunity to understand the power of your own ying energy and use it to embrace your uniqueness and your magnetic ability to manifest. 

Learn more here.

August 17: Join the Community

Glitches and Stitches has created quite the creative community in Dubai and, this month, it’s hosting its monthly Craft Jam at Kave in Alserkal Avenue. A hybrid of co-working and networking sessions for creatives of all sorts, the event inevitably turns into a hub of ideas and inspiration over a span of three hours. It’s open to all, so bring in supplies for your latest project and join at one of Kave’s large communal tables.

Learn more here.

Wellness Calendar for August

August 20: Expand Your Imagination

JamJar continues to host adult workshops that dig a little deeper, with the Process Art session led by Yusra Ismael inviting participants to discover the Zentangle Method. It’s an easy-to-learn and relaxing way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns that are dubbed ‘tangles’. You create tangles with combinations of dots, lines, simple curves, S-curves, and orbs, all elemental strokes that can help improve one’s self-esteem and creativity in a fun way while staying calm and focused.

Learn more here.

August 23: Customise a Candle

Considering the significance of fragrance in the Arab world, From The Arabs is a home fragrance brand that was created to reinvigorate Emirati culture with scents, infusing traditional scents usually found in Emirati homes (think: bokhour and incense) into candles. Led by From the Arabs’ team of experts, the Candle Making workshop at d3 will teach participants how to create their candle scent and design their very own candle.

Learn more here.

August 27: Catch a Classic

P. Tchaikovsky – The Best of Swan Lake, the new showcase at The Theatre in Mall of the Emirates, is sure to appeal to ballet aficionados and otherwise. Featuring soloists from leading European dance companies like the Paris Opera and La Scala, this performance promises to be outstanding and suitable for all ages. Audiences will see the best of this classic, a touching story about Prince Siegfried and Swan Queen Odette, love, and fidelity.

Learn more here.


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10 Timeless Authors to Add to Your Reading List

Plus, our picks of their ultimate works.

Reading has been a way of connecting and finding kinship throughout human history, and books are proof that you are not alone in this spectacle of life. Every experience and emotion you are going through has coloured the lives and thoughts of other people. No matter what genre or style of writing you prefer, you can always find a book that will touch you with its story, characters, and journey. Fiction, in particular, has an element of timelessness.

Although there might be differences in place, culture, and even time itself of the stories being told, all fiction is rooted in human emotion, which transcends these differences. And even within fiction, certain authors are adored by readers of different ages, countries, cultures, and tastes. Their books are timeless as they appeal to generation after generation of readers and continue to be bestsellers over several decades. Here are 10 such timeless authors and their works that you should add to your reading list.

1. Danielle Steel 

Everybody is familiar with this awe-inspiring queen of fiction. Danielle Steel’s stories are not just about romance. They are wholesome portrayals of relationships and friendships that colour the lives of her protagonists. 

Steel has a keen eye for capturing the human condition and emotion, especially from a woman’s point of view. Her stories contain an honest portrayal of women and their lives as they deal with issues like finding love, the challenges of raising a family, and the pursuit of their dreams. Steel’s stories move at a deliciously slow pace, compelling you to soak in the world of her characters and their journey.

Until the End of Time, Danielle Steel

Full Circle, Danielle Steel

My Pick:

Danielle Steele has written many absolute classics, so it’s definitely hard to pick a favourite, but Silent Honour is a novel that I believe best represents her style and content. The protagonist, Hiroko, is already dealing with the challenge of adjusting to the vast gap between her own culture back home in Japan and life in California, when her life gets more complicated in wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbour, as she and her family end up in detention centres. The novel follows Hiroko and her family as they deal with life, death, loyalty, love, and tragedy in their struggle for survival.

Silent Honour, Danielle Steel

2. Jane Austen 

Jane Austen is a favourite among classic literature lovers. Although her books were written in the 1800s, her eye for human emotion still shines through and her works remain relatable for many women. Austen’s writing is characterised by emotion and imagination that will instantly transport you to aristocratic England. Her stories are a delight to read because of the charming sarcasm and wit in her observations and dialogues.

Although set in the strict social scene of 19th century England, her heroines often defy these norms to follow their hearts. Austen’s books also contain a subtle social commentary on the norms and morality of society and how they affect women.

Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen

My Pick:

Emma by Jane Austen is not only the perfect story to gain insight into her style, but it’s also a book that you can come back to again and again. Emma is beautiful and witty, but can be a little confused sometimes. She is a lively young lady whose misadventures in matchmaking cause much heartbreak and hilarity in her sleepy little village. Though she can come across as spoiled and self-absorbed, her heart is in the right place. You will laugh and cry along with her as she goes on her quest to help people find love.

Emma, Jane Austen

3. Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is considered a pioneer of the modern mystery genre. Her language is simple and her words are sparse, but her intricate and cleverly paced plots can hook any reader. She weaves a tangled web of deceptions that are cleverly designed to manipulate your thoughts. 

You can’t help but get drawn into the guessing game as her legendary crime-solving characters – Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple – move through the English countryside solving crimes. As you read, you will keep second-guessing your own convictions about the character’s motivations and the ultimate culprit. And when the suspects are finally revealed at the end, it will feel like they were right in front of you the whole time.

Elephants Can Remember, Agatha Christie

 Halloween Party, Agatha Christie

My Pick:

The Labors of Hercules is a timeless classic in which Hercule Poirot decides to take 12 great cases, like the 12 labours of Hercules, as he bids farewell to crime-solving. All cases are unique. There is a lost pet, a reputation poisoned by gossip, political blackmail, a man spiralling into madness, a lost poet, and a Russian countess in love. This book gives a bird’s eye like view of Christie’s distinct style and her ability to create intriguing and unusual plots. 

The Labors of Hercules, Agatha Christie

4. Cathy Kelly 

Cathy Kelly is beloved for her warm storytelling and strong female characters. Reading her light and comforting books will feel like catching up with your best friend over a warm cup of coffee on a cold day. The stories are complex, intelligent, and layered without being pretentious. Her books are full of love, laughter, tears, and just the right dose of drama. Plus, they often end on a happy note. 

Kelly often portrays relationships between women in a down-to-earth way. Her protagonists are believable and refreshingly relatable women. They often deal with family dynamics, secrets, friendship, parenting, trust, and grief. Although these women’s stories overlap, each one has a distinct voice and every reader can relate to at least one of them. 

What She Wants, Cathy Kelly

Just Between Us, Cathy Kelly

My Pick:

If you have never read Cathy Kelly, then you must start by reading Between Sisters. The story takes us through the lives of two sisters, Cassie and Coco, who were abandoned by their mother and raised by their grandmother, Pearl. This abandonment continues to shape them as they grow up while Pearl carries a frightful secret.

Between Sisters, Cathy Kelly

5. Ian Rankin 

Ian Rankin is well-known for his slow and methodical police procedural genre. His books are not just about simple crime-solving. They have a moral complexity that is addictive to fiction lovers. Rankin’s brilliant portrayal of characters and places has even earned him the moniker “The Dickens of Edinborough”.

His famous protagonist – the maverick detective, Rebus – battles both criminals and his superiors. He works under tremendous personal and professional pressures, but he is not perfect. He is relatably flawed and human. There is rarely a dull moment in Rankin’s stories as they move at a fast pace with constant action. His dialogues have a dry wit, and even the supporting characters are developed enough to add meat to the story.

Doors Open, Ian Rankin

 Exit Music, Ian Rankin

My Pick:

While each one of Inspector Rebus’ books is a fan favourite, Dead Souls is definitely a good place to get started. This novel has Rebus fighting demons and killers that are not just from the present, but might have links to the past. There is a missing child, a paedophile, an exiled serial killer, and a dead policeman. The question is, are they all connected to Edinborough or each other? 

Dead Souls, Ian Rankin

6. John Grisham 

A lawyer himself, John Grisham is a household name in contemporary legal fiction. Grisham’s stories can be a bit slow, but his characters are charismatic and the suspense is intense. He indulges the readers with descriptive narratives and detailed character backgrounds. On top of this, there are constant surprises and revelations that will compel readers to keep turning the page. 

Grisham’s novels are often set in courtrooms, but they are not dry legal procedurals. He is the master of describing laws and procedures without getting too much into legal jargon. His works often contain thought-provoking commentary on social issues like racism. There is also a good dose of personal conflict and dilemma that makes his characters human. His ability to balance drama and facts is perfect for the genre.

 The Runaway Jury, John Grisham

The Client, John Grisham

My Pick:

A Time to Kill by Grisham is a favourite for many and much applauded by critics for the flair of its narrative and plot, and the relatability of the characters. This is a searing courtroom drama that explores racial violence and uncertain justice as young attorney Jake Brigance tries to save a father who takes law into his own hands. In a divided town where loyalties are clearly marked and various outside influences are trying to leverage the case for their own ends, all hangs in the balance as Jake tries to save his client.

A Time to Kill, John Grisham

7. Sidney Sheldon 

Sidney Sheldon is the undisputed master of mixing glamour with human emotion. He often confessed that his secret was the ability to compel the reader to read one more chapter. His books are fast-paced and brimming with constant action that magnetically pulls the reader along until the very last page. His stories are full of twists and turns and contain everything from suspense, thrill, and action to romance. His language is simple and he gets right to action from the very first page. 

Sheldon’s trademark is the complex and immersive storyline with endearing characters. His stories are set in the most happening cities around the world and led by strong female characters, and the lead often battles insurmountable odds to ultimately emerge victorious.

 Memories of Midnight, Sidney Sheldon

 If Tomorrow Comes, Sidney Sheldon

My Pick:

Although all of his novels are international bestsellers, Master of the Game is a standout. The novel tells the story of Kate Blackwell, an enigmatic and powerful woman. Her empire is built upon her ruthlessness and naked ambition. Her life is littered with blackmail, murder, and constant manipulation. Her family loathes her and fears her. But who is the real Kate? Is she a saint or a sinner? 

Master of the Game, Sidney Sheldon

8. Jeffrey Archer 

Jeffrey Archer is adored for his eye for detail and the trademark twist in the tail. His books can not be confined to a particular genre. They all have elements of history, politics, thrill, suspense, drama, and romance. Archer is particularly good at seamlessly weaving historical events into the lives of his characters.

His books have a larger-than-life canvas where powerful characters clash against the backdrop of constant and clever action. His protagonists are many, and multiple storylines move in and out to create a complex and engaging narrative. His characters are both relatable and memorable. Archer inspires a passion for his characters by giving descriptive, almost visual, insights into their lives and emotions.

 To Cut a Long Story Short, Jeffrey Archer

The Sins of the Father, Jeffrey Archer

My Pick:

Kane and Abel is an essential Jeffrey Archer novel with the style, plot, and characterisation much loved by his fans. It tells the story of Kane and Abel, two ambitious men born on the same day, but on the opposite sides of the world. The novel traces the journey of both men over 60 years as they battle their enemies and each other through fortune and disaster.

Kane and Abel, Jeffrey Archer

9. Dean Koontz 

Dean Koontz is the timeless international master of suspense. His books are a mix of horror, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy sprinkled with subtle sarcasm. He also has a penchant for supernatural stories that often take a religious overtone. Koontz originally started as a sci-fi writer, but found great success as a suspense and thriller writer. Many of his books have an element of science, usually warning about some technology or an idea.

His books are fast-paced and have an element of ‘chase’, where the protagonists are either pursuing or being pursued by the antagonist. Koontz’s characters enjoy great autonomy and play an active role in taking the story forward. And his diverse range means that no matter what your area of interest is, you can find a Koontz book that you will love.

Devoted, Dean Koontz

Phantoms, Dean Koontz

My Pick:

Tick Tock is one of his all-time bestsellers with his trademark combination of horror and humour. The story has supernatural elements and takes place in less than 24 hours. The protagonist Tommy is a successful detective novelist who discovers a rag doll on his doorstep and takes it into his home. But the doll is far from innocent, as something demonic and vicious comes from it that wants Tommy’s life. It even leaves a warning on his screen that the deadline is dawn. Now, Tommy has to race against time to restore his life with his only ally, an intuitive waitress he meets by chance.

Tick Tock, Dean Koontz

10. Lee Child

Lee Child is famous for his pulp fiction-style thrillers. His books feel more like an 80s action movie with a perfect hero who never fails. His stories are quick and light – a perfect distraction without forcing you to reflect or work too much. 

His writing is marked by an economy of style or some would even call it non-style. There is constant action that grabs your attention and keeps you reading page after page. Lee Child’s beloved protagonist is Jack Reacher, the ex-military policeman who has turned into an avenging drifter. 

Bad Luck and Trouble, Lee Child

The Enemy, Lee Child

My Pick:

Killing Floor, the first novel in the Jack Reacher series, is considered a must-read in the action-thriller genre. In this book, we are introduced to Reacher, who has spent all his life in the military and is now wandering across the US. Just as he goes in to grab a coffee, he is arrested for murder! While trying to get clear of the charges, Reacher encounters strange secrets and weird behaviours, and develops a personal stake that forces him into violent and constant action.

Killing Floor, Lee Child


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