Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Ladybird Book of Dating by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris

The Ladybird Book of Dating Title: The Ladybird Book of Dating
Authors: Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris
Publisher: Michael Joseph
ISBN: 978-0718183578
Genre: Humour
Pages: 56
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

We all must remember Ladybird books while growing up isn’t it? We read them as kids, didn’t we? Our first foray into reading. Well at least for me they were and I remember loving them till of course a certain age and outgrowing them just as easy.

So then the very same Ladybird books have come out (of course they are an imprint of Penguin Random House) with a series for grown-ups and the first one I happened to read in the series was “The Ladybird book of Dating”.

Dating 1

The tone of the writing is in line with what you’d expect from a Ladybird book – as if these grown-up concepts were dumbed down for children but the humour is super – it is British, it is wry, and above all you can relate to it. It is irreverent, in your face and in sync with what we think or feel but never say out loud. Also, might I add, I thought at first that they would be dumbed down, but that did not seem the case once I started reading this book and more that followed in the series.

Dating 2

The book is a great short insight into the dating game and what people expect and what they end up getting. I did laugh out loud so many times while reading this book, that I went ahead and ordered the rest available in India in this series (a book of hangover, the wife, the husband, mindfulness and the hipster).

Dating 3

These books will make for great gifts for friends and family. At the same time, if you have had a bad day or having a bad day, it takes about less than half an hour to finish reading them, so keep them by your side – a good laugh is always welcome.

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Upon an Old Wall Dreaming: More of My Favourite Stories and Sketches by Ruskin Bond

Upon an Old Wall Dreaming - More of My Favourite Stories and Sketches by Ruskin Bond Title: Upon an Old Wall Dreaming: More of My Favourite Stories and Sketches
Author: Ruskin Bond
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
ISBN: 978-9384067472
Genre: Anthology
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

There is no way that Ruskin Bond can ever go wrong when it comes to writing. There isn’t. I don’t say that just because I adore what he writes, but because it is true. Ruskin Bond writes with charm and grace that is very rare to find in writers today. So even if a compilation of his stories and non-fiction pieces comes out, and even though you might have read most of it before, you still reach out and read it, because it is way better than what is doing the rounds right now in the book business.

“Upon an Old Wall Dreaming” is the second anthology of Mr. Bond’s fiction and non-fiction pieces, published by Aleph Book Company. This anthology has once again some of the finest pieces, handpicked by Mr. Bond with a wonderful and most surreal introduction by him. The stories (if you haven’t read them before) will most certainly warm the cockles of your heart and make you want to live in times that were calmer, more serene and stress-free. The non-fiction pieces were my most favourite in the book, only because a life this rich just keeps you in awe and makes you want to live this way.

I love how Ruskin Bond intertwines life and fiction and also the way he writers about life endlessly. “Upon an Old Wall Dreaming” is a collection that stays and lingers on with you. It is the anthology that everyone must read to keep the child in them alive and know that there is so much of the world we still have to see and discover. I would also recommend the first anthology of Mr. Bond from Aleph titled “A Gathering of Friends” – it is just as good as this one.

American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

American Housewife - Stories by Helen Ellis Title: American Housewife: Stories
Author: Helen Ellis
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0385541039
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Imagine Desperate Housewives being written into a book – just a little funnier, sarcastic, edgy perhaps and with a dash of American angst, loneliness and the no-good housewife, trying to make something of herself. But the stories in Helen Ellis’s book “American Housewife” is not just about the average housewife, so don’t be fooled by the title. The book is about dreams gone wrong, frustrations dying to get a way out, of thwarted hopes and a lot of pointed commentaries on womanhood and the world around them today.

The stories range from the unique initiation ritual of a book club (the twist is there throughout the story and you can sense it) to the set of a rigged television show to the getaway car of a pageant princess – they are all unique and full of wit and tragedy.

I think for me reading this book felt like I could connect on so many levels – well not of being stuck in a marriage or being betrayed in a relationship, but just that I could relate to the women and the layers of intensity of emotions of every kind that Ellis draws up for this through the dozen stories.

What struck me the most while reading these stories was the tone and pace of each story and how each is different from the other, when it comes to those two parameters. Some stories are definitely sharper than the others, and some just jolt you off your daily existence to make you see how bizarre life can really be.

“American Housewife” is a brilliant, raw and real collection of stories that tells you a lot about women in general, only if you care to listen or in this case read. I would most certainly recommend it to every one out there. Waiting for her next!

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN: 978-0062278227
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novels
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

Nimona is a refreshing comic debut. Noelle started it as a web-comic, till it was a rage and voila, then a book! I am disappointed that I waited this long to get my hands on this one, but I am also quite glad that I read it perhaps way at the end of the pile, so I could enjoy it so.

Nimona is a comic book anti-hero like no other. She is a shapeshifter and the comic itself is set in the near future. There is a regime at work and they want the law and order situation to be maintained as per them. Nimona is the new sidekick to her super-villain boss Lord Ballister Blackheart. Ballister Blackheart has a history with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin (you will also know of the twist there once you read the book) who works for the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. It is up to Nimona and Ballister to prove to everyone that the institution is not really what it stands for. How they do that forms the crux of this graphic novel and more than anything else the past of Nimona and the terrors she holds. Might I also add that Nimona is barely a young girl with a knack of villainy.

The entire shapeshifting angle in this graphic novel worked superlatively. It is hilarious and often terrifying. The plot is taut and as a reader, I am so looking forward to the sequel (hoping there is one). The comic is delightful and also the scientific angle is explained quite simply. There is plenty of action, adventure and incidents that follow throughout the course of the book. Graphic novel and superhero lovers will simply adore this book. I know I did. “Nimona” is the one graphic novel you cannot miss out on.

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain Title: The Red Notebook
Author: Antoine Laurain
Publisher: Gallic Books
ISBN: 978-1908313867
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

You watch a romantic movie about two people meeting in the strangest of ways and wish it were a book so you could savour the words and get more of it, page by page. And then you do chance on such a book, you read it; you actually devour it and love it to the hilt! You talk about it to everyone you meet and cannot stop talking more. You wish that someone would make a film out of it so you can see the magic appear on screen. “The Red Notebook” by Antoine Laurain is one such book.

The book is a delight. It is whimsical, it is hopeful, it is the kind of book that makes you want to fall in love and stay there. Laurent, a bookseller (I was already sold on the book) finds an abandoned handbag. He doesn’t know anything about the owner. Paris a big city and he cannot even find her.

Laure on the other hand has been mugged and hit on the hand. Her handbag is stolen and she is now in a coma. Laurent of course doesn’t know that it is Laure’s bag he’s found. That is where the story begins. Through a series of objects and clues that are there in the handbag, Laurent makes sense of the woman Laure could be. One of the items is a red notebook where Laure has written her thoughts and innermost confessions are penned there. He gets to know her. She is in a hospital, unaware of what is going on. Will they meet? What will happen after all? How will Laure react when she is out of her coma and gets to know of Laurent?

Laurain’s (love the wordplay of the author’s name throughout the book and love how the author has used it to his advantage) writing is playful, melancholic (in most places) and uplifting in so many other places as the book progresses. You see what a short book can do in terms of impact and how one incident can change lives for the worse and sometimes pleasantly for the better. I love the writing. It is short, crisp and full of humanity and life. These are the kind of books that we need, the kind of books that can uplift the spirit and make hearts sing.

The translation by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce for sure have hit the spot (I don’t know French but the book worked with me on so many levels). What works for the book the most is that it is set in Paris – the city of love, the clichés, the extraordinary amidst the ordinary and the chance that each of us must get – of finding love.