I have been trying to post my TBR reads post by the mid of every month. But something or the other keeps pushing it further. Fingers crossed for next month and I hope you enjoy going through my June reading list.
Three thousand stitches by Sudha Murty
A travel journey is my perfect excuse to buy a new book and that’s what happened on 3rd June as I was headed home to drop dad. Sudha Murty’s Three thousand stitches caught my eye at the airport book store. I had first read a children’s book by her and since then been enamoured with her simple but power packed writing. This book has a tag line “Ordinary people, extraordinary lives” which is what attracted me to it and I have to say that’s exactly what it delivers.
Each of these tales is a real life event which features her, her family members, colleagues,etc – each tale has a powerful message hidden inside. From fighting her way into an all boys engineering college to working with the Devdaasis to uplift their conditions; each tale brings out her strength, determination and intelligence to overcome massive odds to achieve her goal. I loved the story about the girl saved by her father who years later meets him and honours him in more ways than one. More than the writing, I am inspired and influenced by this down to earth and humble woman who has shattered huge glass ceilings without even setting out to do so.
This book gets a 41/2 stars from me and I would recommend folks to give it a read to know more about this fantastic human being.
The case of the love commandos by Tarquin Hall
My next read was The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall which incidentally is crime fiction based on an Indian detective Vish Puri – yup that last bit is what got my attention when Anamika gifted me this book. I haven’t heard of this author ever or this series either and that my dear friends was remiss of me.
The scenario is set akin to a popular Bollywood fare – lovers from different castes, girls father baying for the boys blood, crooked politicians, greedy corporate and poverty, illness, rape, etc thrown in for a good measure. Add to that a dose of crime solving mummyji (detective ‘s mom) who does her own sleuthing and solves the case of the millions stolen from Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and we have one helluva potboiler. I simply loved the fast paced story telling of the plot that was predictable yet had plenty of twists and turns till the very end. The writing is crisp and the author seems to be well acquainted with the Indian milieu even though he is a “furrriner” 😉
I would rate this 4 stars and urge the mystery buffs to try out this son of the soil (yup he is a Panjabi) type detective with an office in upscale Khan Market (that got me believing about his fame) who simply loves to eat above anything else. An excellent read for a train journey for insomniacs like me who can’t catch a wink there.
The girl who drank the moon by Kelly Barnhill
This book had me so excited when I saw it in the bookstore as the cover is simply gorgeous. Bonus for me is that this is a fantasy fiction – my favourite genre to read. The tale unfolds in a little town just beyond the forest which is surrounded by a bog. Thanks to all the harmful gases and poison spewed out from once active Volcano, the soil seems dead and the townsfolk depend on the plants of the bog for sustenance. Town legend speaks of a witch who lives in the forest and every year the youngest member of the village is left out in the forest to be claimed by the witch. That’s a deal the townsfolk made with her in order to gain protection from her wrath. But there are a few errors here.
Don’t get me wrong, the bit about the witch is true. But she is neither wrathful nor does she kill the babies left for her. Instead she gathers them with love, feed them some starlight which marks them as special and then places them in faraway cities in homes with loving parents and then watches over them as they grow. Now one day, by mistake, she feeds moonlight to the baby. Maybe she was tired or maybe she just needed a change. Whatever the case, this baby becomes magicked. So she decided to undo her mistake by adopting her and bringing her up to guide her into magic later. A four armed bog creature who spouts poetry and a tiny dragon who flits about on tiny wings and doesn’t stop talking, are her two comrades in this crusade. There is a boy who smells of sawdust and a mad woman who makes paper birds that fly – are the other two important characters in this story. The story telling is interesting with some very imaginative writing.
This book is for young readers, say 14 year olds though I thoroughly enjoyed it. A 4 1/2 star rating for this one.
The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim
I was intrigued by the cover and so browsed through the blurb. Set in China, this book has a lot of folklore and simple beliefs woven in that it reads like a fairy tale in parts. 11-year-old Li Jung lives in a tiny Chinese village and is the daughter of a poor farmer. She has two younger brothers who she takes care of as her mother died in childbirth. Her grandmother and widowed aunt complete the family scene. To help tide the family poverty, she is married off to a three-year old son of a rich Chinese businessman. In reality she is sold off as his nanny and is treated like a slave by her in-laws.
Hard work, long hours and cruelty are the order of the day for Li Jing who is a simple-hearted girl unable to comer to terms of being sent off in this way by her family. She adores her husband who in turn loves her like a big sister. But rest of her in-laws are indifferent or cruel to her. She ends up helping out a spider while living there and it spins her a pair of ribbons to be burnt in emergency so that the spider may come to her rescue. One day she discovered she is being sold off to a brothel for a huge price and tries to run away but is caught and beaten up.
To her surprise she finds the life in the brothel is not what she was dreading as her current status there was a maid and only when she will upgrade to an intern is when her training as an entertaining companion to men would begin. She yearns to be back with her family and once again plans an escape and ultimately reaches home through some adventures involving a spider, a humanoid tree with vicious intent, strange blue-eyed boy and a talking nightingale.
Once there she decides to apprentice herself to the local temple as she feels that’s her life’s destiny. All through the tale, there are religious references to the local deities and their powers. She seems to meet hers whenever she is in abject need of help but is clueless that its him who came down to help her. Animals , birds, insects and trees seem to be powerful creatures who aid her in her journeys as well as kind souls who feel for her.
The book was a little slow read for me though I loved the folk tale elements in the story. I finished the book in two days and found it a good one time read. It’s for young readers though I was intrigued by the book blurb of cultural references woven into the tale. My rating lingers to a 3 stars for this one.
Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik
Devdutt Pattanaik is a very well-known author for his writings/discourses on mythological legends. He seems to be an expert in bringing a fresh flavour to the age-old tales through his unique interpretations. I have always been fascinated by the Mahabharata and the Ramayana – much credit is to be given to the televised versions of course; but as a child I would peruse Amar Chitra Katha comics with a zeal. And that’s where I first came across the mini-stories that were layered in the main text of these epics.
Mahabharata is a tale that needs no introduction or preamble; its something that almost every Indian is familair with, courtesy grand parents / textbooks, etc.
I love the concept of Jaya as explained by Pattanaik – he has rechristened the epic and explains so why. I am in love with his simplistic tale telling which doesnt embroider the story.
Jaya infuses a fresh look at the epic via much re-telling of stories from tales which have their origin across many cultures/sects of India. This book was like unwrapping chocolates from a mixed box – I just didn’t know what I would read next. Each story comes with a strong lesson which is reinforced beautifully. All the flaws and traits of the heroes are brought out equally and explained further to educate us about follies and temptations.
Not to be missed are the illustrations that the author has created himself. If you are fond of Indian mythology, do not miss this book.
I have given it a 41/2 star rating. This book is for everyone who wishes to know more about our epics and mythology as it has great learning lessons in each story.
Well that’s it from me for the June reads; look out for the interesting ones I have read in July.
If you have read something interesting recently and think I should too, would love to have you recommend it to me. So dont be shy and leave some book reccos for me please.