Monday, June 22, 2015

#BookReview: Simple plane love by Priyanka Luthra

On the jacket:

A perfect landing is a mirage, the more you chase it, the more it eludes you…' Meet Captain Meera Khanna. As a first officer on an Aeroflot Aviation plane, with a luxurious apartment in the beautiful city of Manila, she seems to have it all. Flying to exotic destinations, navigating turbulent flights through typhoons and handling engine failure are all in a day's work. Even when a leg injury forces Meera to take time off her busy schedule, she has the perfect solution - an exciting vacation to Subic Bay with her glamorous best friend Diana, aka Dee. And nothing could have been a better idea, what with the unexpected arrival of her childhood friend, the suave Aditya. But when Aditya seems to want more than friendship, it throws Meera off-kilter. Will Meera's perfect life come to an abrupt landing? Or will she find her happily-ever-after? In Simple Plane Love, join Captain Meera on a rollicking adventure, where navigating an aeroplane seems simpler than negotiating the many twists and turns of love.


I had read Luthra before I read her book. I had stumbled some of her short stories even before I knew who she was. And I'd wondered if she is a published author. Surprisingly, she wasn't one back then, but now she is.

Simple Plane Love is a simple story of a simple girl, Captain Meera Khanna. Do you, for even a second believe that a girl who flies fearlessly can be simple and have a simple story. Well, yes and no. Meera is one of us. In fact, there is a Meera in all of us. Bold, yet scared. Sure, yet nervous. Independent, yet a child. An independent girl, Meera lives alone in Manila. The book begins with her last flight before she packs her bags to head back to India. 

Luthra has developed her characters with love and care. It shows. Be it Meera herself, or her mother, her boss or her friends, they are all well-rounded characters. The events seem straight out of a real person's life and nothing seems far fetched. Having said this, I think Luthra can do better. I look forward to even more beautifully sketched stories by the author.

Rating: ****/5

[This is an author request review, however the views are mine and unbiased.]

#BookReview: Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing Edited by Annie Zaidi

On the jacket:

Unbound is a collection of some of the most significant writing by Indian women over the past two thousand years. Divided into eleven sections, it encompasses writing on various aspects of life: spirituality, love, marriage, children, food, work, social and individual identity, battles, myths and fables, travel, and death. While many of the pieces are commentaries on the struggle that women undergo to overcome obstacles—social and political—all of them showcase the remarkable creative ability of their creators. The term ‘women’s writing’ has often been used to limit and stereotype the work of women writers. But it also has a larger and more constructive meaning, and that is the sense in which it has been used to inform and describe the context of the book. As Annie Zaidi explains in her introduction: ‘Women bring to their writing the truth of their bodies, and an enquiry into the different ways in which gender inequity shapes human experience.’
Selected from hundreds of novels, memoirs, essays, short story collections and volumes of poetry that were either written in English or that have been translated into English, the pieces in this collection include the most distinctive and powerful voices from every era. There are verses from the Therigatha, written by Buddhist nuns (circa 300 BCE), and writing by poet-saints like Andal, Avvaiyar, Lal Ded, Mirabai; modern classics by writers 
like Ajeet Cour, Amrita Pritam, Arundhati Roy, Attia Hosian, Bama, Bulbul Sharma, Irawati Karve, Ismat Chughtai, Kamala Das, Krishna Sobti, Mahasweta Devi, Manju Kapur, Mannu Bhandari, Mrinal Pande, Nayantara Sahgal, Pinki Virani, Qurratulain Hyder, Rashid Jahan, Romila Thapar, Sarojini Naidu, Saudamini Devi, Shivani; and powerful new voices from our time like Arundhathi Subramaniam, Nilanjana Roy, Nivedita Menon.


I had not read a lot of Indian women writer in the past. Few, whose names kept coming up in conversations, yes. But mostly, not. So when the opportunity to review Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing came up, it was thrilling. I have not read Annie Zaidi before though I have heard good things about her books. So, I picked this book up with some trust and some hesitation.

The cover is, let's not be shy with words, KICK-ASS. I was sold to the book here itself. When I turned the cover and reached the index, whatever doubts I had went flying through the window. This book is an extremely ambitious and daring project, I must say. Ambitious and very very difficult. It is not a matter of joke to research about women authors from the last 2000 years, read them, decide whom to include and whom not to, pick their best works and put them together in an order that will appeal to the reader, is no mean feat.

When putting together an anthology what is probably the most difficult, is choosing which stories to include and which ones to leave out. Also, in this case, which authors to include. Zaidi has done a great job regarding this, in my opinion. While reading Unbound : 2000 Years of Indian Women's Writing I felt that there is something in the book for everyone. You can pick your favourite authors/translators and read/re-read them. You can also have a pick from the authors you have not read but heard of. And, you can read works by authors completely unknown to you. 

If this book was compiled by someone else, the chosen authors and their works might have been different. But it becomes easier to associate with the chosen ones, once you read Zaidi's account in the introduction.

If you love literature, I'd say give this book a try. It is one such anthology which you might want to read a few pages of today, and come back to months later, to read someone else as your mood demands. This is a book to keep.

Rating: *****/5

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#BookReview: Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan

On the jacket:

Betty Plum has never been in love. She's never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it's like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid's arrows. It's like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!  More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn't died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that's when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about …  Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?


Not a fan of YA fiction as I keep saying but I must say that Bloomsbury publication is coming up with some really good fiction in this genre, even for people who don't particularly like reading this genre!

The second book in the Ladybird series, Love Bomb is a light hearted take of our protagonist Betty Plum and her life. Betty has just turned 15, and though a little late compared to her peers, but she is finally in love and that too with the new kid in school. Toby is the new kid in school and according to Betty, the true love of her life.

The book begins on Betty's 15th birthday, when she breaks the tradition of reading her dead mother's letter to her. This used to be abirthday tradition but this year she decides she doesn't want to read it, when she learns this is the last one. Eventually she does open it and read it. 

Back at school, Betty seems to be getting Toby's attention. She is moving away from her best friends in the process but new love is previous too. How do things move on from here for Betty? 

The story is fun and cute, a story almost all girls can related to. A well-written book that will keep you hooked.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Bloomsbury India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview: Anyone But Ivy Pocket (Ivy Pocket #1) by Caleb Krisp

On the jacket

Ivy Pocket is a twelve-year-old maid of no importance, with a very lofty opinion of herself. Dumped in Paris by the Countess Carbunkle, who would rather run away to South America than continue in Ivy's companionship, our young heroine (of sorts) finds herself with no money and no home to go to ... until she is summoned to the bedside of the dying Duchess of Trinity.  For the princely sum of £500 (enough to buy a carriage, and possibly a monkey), Ivy agrees to courier the Duchess's most precious possession – the Clock Diamond – to England, and to put it around the neck of the revolting Matilda Butterfield on her twelfth birthday. It's not long before Ivy finds herself at the heart of a conspiracy involving mischief, mayhem and murder.  Illustrated in humorous gothic detail by Iacopo Bruno, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is just the beginning of one girl's deadly comic journey to discover who she really is ...


I am not a fan of young adult fiction as I keep mentioning. I simply cannot relate them to the books I'd read when I was a YA. When I read the blurb, it intrigued me and when I started reading the book, I was not disappointed one bit. This book is sheer genius, going by the other YA books that there are.

Ivy Pocket is an orphan who holds a very high opinion of herself and genuinely belives she is the prettiest, smartest and wittiest kid ever. She is a nutcase and has a tendency to exaggerate and lie. She is funny. so funny in fact that even her sorrows seem like they will pass soon.

The plot has a lot of elements to it. It begins with Countess Carbunkle to whom she was a companion to, abandoning her & leaving to the dying Duchess of Trinity entrusting her with personally taking the Duchess' most entrusted jewel to a twelve year old girl. From the moment Ivy accepts this deal, her life turns into a saga of mysteries. Thefts, deaths and confessions become everyday affair.

The narration is brilliant as is the plot and character development. Even before the story is half way through I was impatient with curiosity to know the climax. It takes it's time to build up, with its own twists and turns but the plot does reach it's deserving end. I cannot wait to read more books in this series, however irritating Ivy can get, she is extremely lovable too.

Rating: ****/5
[This review is for Bloomsbury India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

#BookReview : The Shrine of Death by Divya Kumar

On the jacket:  Prabha Sinha, an IT professional in Chennai, is plunged into a murky world of idol theft, murder, and betrayal aft...