Saturday, 10 October 2015

A new Twilight book from Stephenie Meyer

A new twilight-y book from Stephenie Meyer, the author who changed the face of and opened the doors to young adult genre with her twilight series, is out.
This is something that looked impossible. Steph had time and again said she doesn’t want to visit the world she created anytime soon. But on the tenth anniversary since the time the first twilight book came out, she decided to pull the cat from the hat and announced a complete new [well, or maybe just modified] version of twilight.

A peek in the past...
Back in 2008, the world went frenzy on social media and everywhere else when the news of Meyer working on ‘Midnight Sun’ spread like wildfire. Midnight Sun was supposed to be a full length twilight book narrated from the point of view of Edward. Everybody wanted a piece of it.
But we all know the fiasco. Twelve chapters from the unfinished book got leaked on the internet and pissed Steph off so much that she decided to give up on the book altogether.
So now it wasn’t surprising that Steph maintained a hush-hush to such a far stretched extent that not even insiders and prominent reviewers seemed to know about it. No advance readers copies sent out, no elaborate title and cover reveal. Just the final copies directly turning up on the book shelves worldwide.

For the tenth anniversary...
All those years later, Meyer’s publishers hoped she would give up on her grudge and let Midnight Sun slip through her fingers for the grand anniversary. But she was past it. Instead, she asked them if they would like to have something else. Something a lot more fun.
So when Meyer’s publishers insisted she write a new book in the series, give them some sort of a forward or finish the unfinished book, she decided it was time to shun the haters who haven’t let her live in peace.

Hatred for Twilight...
The most common hatred was targeted to Bella Swan who was ‘a damsel in distress,’ and ‘the worst heroine in the history of literature.’
People also went on to show their contempt for Edward. ‘Wow, now a guy who is impossibly beautiful and sparkles! A perfect female dream. Oh, wait...’
Meyer argued, “Any one surrounded by super heroes is gonna be a 'human' in distress.”
Good point. But what about her obsession with love? As if she has nothing else going on in her life. Her life crashes down when her ‘guy’ leaves. Ridiculous!

“Twilight has always been a story about magic and frenzy and obsession of first love,’ she insisted. "So it would have made no difference if the humans were male and vampires were female." To prove her point, she put that theory to test in this new book.
Although all her arguments made sense, they didn’t stop people from circulating GIFs and creating hundreds of twilight parodies in the form of books, movies, short films and anti-fanfic.

Frustrated with all this, she decided to swap the genders to see if the story changed. Bella [the meek damsel in distress]was now a boy Beau. And the sparkling guy with inhuman powers, Edward, was now Edythe, a girl. She also swapped the genders of every  other character in the book. [Except Charlie, Bella's dad, and mom]
Minus the minor changes that were inevitable when you narrate a story from the perspective of a boy instead of a girl [For example, the narration, words and thoughts are "not nearly so flowery"], majority of the plot remained unchanged.
And for Steph, writing this new book was "not only fun, but very fast and easy."
So in a dual attempt of silencing the haters and giving her Twihard fans a gift on the tenth Twilight anniversary, Stephenie Meyer wrote Life and Death: Twilight Re-imagined. [The book released on 6th October, 2015]

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My sister’s keeper by Jodi Picoult

 Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now.
Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

My Thoughts:
Minus all the sub plotlines that dragged the story on, it was a good read. A gripping and different story. Some of the sentences and life theories author presents are enlightening.

Characters are shades of grey and not simply black and white. You end up taking sides but don’t outright hate any character. Except probably the mother. Her favouritism is obvious and no matter how many times she says she loves her daughters equally, you can tell in the heart of heart she simply doesn’t.

Jesse (Anna's brother) who is a lost cause doesn’t play any major role expect be a constant reminder of how ignorant the parents are to their kids other than Kate.

The story jumps from different points of views. We see a total of 7 to 8 perspectives each with their complete back stories which gets overwhelming and annoying in the beginning. Eventually you get used to it. There are also a lot of characters I hoped the writer would do without. Like Seven or Izzy. 

But most of all, I didn’t expect the story to end the way it did. I am not sure if I like the ending. Or if I'm still fully convinced. But for now, I’ll just sit in a corner and grieve over that epic loss that I found a tad bit disturbing.

Ratings: 4 stars
Pages: 423

All in all, I still do highly HIGHLY recommend it.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Epic Fail by Claire Lazebnik

My thoughts:

A modern day story retelling of the famous classic, Pride and Prejudice, Epic fail captures the tone and sentiments of a seventeen years old Elize. The story is narrated in her tongue.

Frankly, I read the book not knowing it was a retelling. I picked it up because the title and cover captured my attention. Both gave the idea that the book would be a light, contemporary, young adult-ish read.

When I googled the author and the book to gauge on more details about the characters I fell in love with, I discovered the truth. And then I traced back, stunned at the obvious plot plucked out of Austin land and my lack of ability to recognise the screaming resemblance.

Plot in short: 

Elise Benton, the rational, prejudiced and daddy’s favourite of all Benton sister was a younger shadow of Elizabeth Bennet. Derek’s character was moulded to fit modern day shy, standoffish Darcy. Charming but wicked Webster was twisted to form an epitome of Wikham. A poor family of four sister and two parents, a Chase (Mr. Bingley, who falls for the oldest, modest sister of all), a pain-the-the-arse sister to mess up things and the prejudices based on classes and who is who was captured well to fit the taste the younger audience.

Why you should read it: 

The plot is same, the characters have more or less exact same personalities, even the names match. What stood out were the High School setting, tone and the modern twist to almost all events that took place.

In a way I was glad I plunged into the story without pre-knowing it was a retelling. It just made the entire experience more authentic for me.

But even if you’re not an Austinite, you should read this. It’s not exactly the kind of book that will linger in your mind for days, but it sure will make you stay up late till you finish it and make you want to root for main characters.

Overall: A light, fun, throw away read.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Book Haul #1

So I went to this amazing book sale (I know, yet again) where they had about 85 percent discount on all books and I got some pretty amazing deals and amazing books. So here’s a quick haul of that.

Ajaya by Anand Neelkantan
We all know Mahabharata has two sides, one good and one bad. And Anand Neelkantan is known for supporting the bad side. Well, not supporting them in literal sense, but telling the entire story from their perspective.
He does the same in this one, narrating Mahabartha from Duryodhana's  view point (eldest of the 100 Kauravas). And the book looks meaty, thick and just waiting to be ripped off of its plastic cover. I cannot wait!
Plus, I met the author at a literary fest and absolutely loved his funny, down to earth, pulling-jokes-on-himself personality.

Leap day by Wendy Mass
It’s a story of a girl who celebrates her fourth birthday at the start of the novel. But technically she is sixteen because she was born on the leap day of the leap year, February the 29th.
One of my favourite booktubers recommended this book and it intrigued me a lot. So when I saw it just lying there over a stack of books I flipped out. This was the book I started reading the minute I boarded train back home. And so far, it’s really good.

Night in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
A woman moves to live in Rodanthe when her heartless cheat of a husband abandons her for a younger woman. But life has decided to be mean to her, particularly when it decides to hit her new home with a storm.
It sounds like the book will be fun. Besides, anything Nico writes is worth paying for.
Amongst a lot of Nicholas Sparks books lying there I decided to buy this for a couple of reason: it was the only hardback NicoS book. It was cheap. I didn’t own a copy of it. It looked extremely pretty. And it was in a perfect condition.

Water for Elephant by Sara Gruen
This story follows a man and his life at a circus. The book has been turned into a motion picture that was a blockbuster starring Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory of HP and sparkly boyfriend from Twilight).
I had to get it since the book is not only hyped but also looks very promising. And it’s a little different from what I usually read in case of setting of the story.

Dream trilogy by Nora Roberts
I can blindly buy Nora Roberts books. She is one of my ultimate favourite romance novelists and this was one of my best buys of all times. A three books in one edition (Daring to dream, Holding the dream and Finding the dream) this massive book is a trilogy. But you don’t have to follow the order in which they’re written since all Nora books are more or less stand alones.
And now The News. *Drumrolls* it was only for a 100 bucks.
I know. I stopped breathing for a second too.

A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
I have wanted to read this book since the time it was a recommended read in my literature class. It’s one of the most acclaimed Kunstleroman or artist novel and James Joyce’s first semi-autobiographical book. The copy I own is a 2010 edition, but this book first came out in 1916. And coincidentally, it is also an optional read in my next Sem. So I had to get it. 
Interesting fact about the book is Joyce burnt his work in frustration because publishers rejected his story. Later on, it was retrieved and reworked.

Just as long as we’re together by Judy Blume
This book revolves around three or four childhood best friends and there is a lot going on between them. There’s not much revealed in the blurb and I’d rather it stays that way. It just makes the experience all that authentic. And I can’t wait to get into it since it’s written by my darling author Judy Blume.

Lord of the flies by William Golding
This is one those books that you need to buy for college, no matter if you personally want to or not. I am not expecting a lot from it since I have no clue what to expect. And if I just keep it that way, I might actually end up loving it.
But there’re things I don’t like about the copy that I own. The condition, the smell and the font size which is as tiny as it could get. I don’t like books that have weird fonts or fonts so small that you need magnifying glass between your eye and the page to actually read what’s written.
Yellowed pages give this typical smell to the book which some people tend to love, but I usually sneeze if I come in contact with it. sadly, this book just gives me that. Sigh.

The sale was by Ashish book centre in Thane, near station. Check their website here:

And also as a reviewer of Indireads, they let me download one ebook amongst their delicious collection for reviewing. I chose ‘The Perfect Groom’ by Sumeetha Manikandan which is a story of a newly-wed Indian girl who marries an NRI. It sounds promising.
All in all, I’m pleased with the haul and hopefully I’ll complete reading all that by the end of this year.

Monday, 9 June 2014

I’ve got your number by Sophie Kinsella

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier.  She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart.  Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers!  Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. 
Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree.  He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.

The story kicks off right into action on page one. The story is narrated in present tense through Poppy’s eyes. Poppy’s ultimate decision lies hanging till the last moment and she finally makes one while standing in front of her to-be-husband in church on her wedding day.

Poppy is goofy, honest and extremely funny. She was so easily likable and relatable that it was hard not to smile each time she walked on page. More than the characters, the situations are so over-the-top that they naturally churn out laughable reactions.

I admire not only all of Sophie Kinsella’s heroines but also all her male protagonists. They are all real gentlemen, laid back and sincere but also not without flaws. It’s very easy to relate to her characters. Sophie Kinsella makes situations hilarious more than the dialogues.

What I did not like:
Poppy worried about things that could have been solved easily had she been a little brave. Like confessing she lost the ring or that she isn’t a genius like her in-laws.

Poppy’s lack of confidence and her inferiority complex. But these flaws made her seem more real nonetheless.

The footnotes. They were distracting.

Suitable for: Anyone who wants to have a good laugh, enjoy a well-written story with gripping plot and doesn’t mind staying up all night with puffy eyes just to see what happens next. Go pick it up!

Overall: gripping and hilarious. Once again, Sophie Kinsella meets her fans' expectations.

Stars: 5/5

The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Bianca Piper is too smart to fall for the charms of a man-slut and school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, she hates him. But things aren't so great at home. Desperate for distraction, she ends up kissing Wesley and throwing herself into enemies-with-benefit relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener and his life is pretty screwed up too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated the most.

I have a short interest span. I can’t keep reading a book beyond 50-60 pages if it doesn’t pull me in by then, unless it’s for college assignment. So a book that keeps me up for a whole night ought to shoot up in my favorites list. And this one did.

Bianca is like any other insecure teenager who has her fears and preconceptions that she isn’t beautiful enough. But she wasn’t always so insecure. It is when the only dashing, cocky guy in college she hates calls her a duff that she starts to look at her body in a new, gloomy light. She notices everything she doesn’t possess— great body, long, skinny legs, pretty face.

Wesley Rush, I hated him in the beginning. A cocky guy who thought too highly of himself and didn’t believe in chasing girls because— duh— girls chased him. But Bianca’s presence subtly changed him in the most believable way and we got to see his nicer, deeper, hidden side. The ‘changed Wesley Rush’ was a really irresistible guy.

Toby Tucker falls in the ‘good guy’ category who as sad and clich├ęd it sounds, ends up last. He’s gentlemanly, who doesn’t snicker or looks to check when a friend makes a joke about his girlfriend’s boobs and takes things slowly. He maintains limits while kissing, he looks out for his girl, takes her to nice dates.

In short, very unlike Wesley.

He is in his own way very attractive. He might not have abs or the charm that sweeps a girl off her feet or leaves her feeling dizzy, but he is just the person who you want to spend your life with. He is loyal, affectionate and extremely intellectual.

The book was extremely well written. I almost longed at one point to have written it. Character development is bang on! At the end of it I knew the side character of Casey and Jess just as well as I knew Bianca or Wesley.

Lessons learnt: 
It’s more than just a romance story between two people who are opposites. It shows different angles of a teenager's life.

Words and name calling hurts no matter how unintentionally you toss it around. And the ones that are casually tossed hurt more than the ones meant to sting.

Every teenager has insecurity, everybody has screwed up and in a way everyone is a duff if compared to someone else. It's only a matter of time and maturity that one learns to shrug these titles off and learn to forgive oneself for past slip ups.

And lastly, looks never define you.

Without spelling out these lessons, the writer has rather easily weaved those into the story.

Suitable for: Parents and teenagers alike. For teenagers to have a laugh at their life and learn from it and for parents to know their kids better.

PS: Watch out for the movie. The rights have been sold to CBS films.

*Spoilers* Places where I went frenzy (either laughed or cried or swooned):

I officially fell in love with Wesley when he sent that note to Bianca after a series of insults and flings. ‘Wesley Rush doesn’t chase girls, but I’m chasing you.’ *sigh*

The bouquet and letter Wesley sent her was a gesture well done.

When Toby asked her about prom and she screwed up by saying she hated it and then he said ‘too bad coz I was hoping to ask you for it.’ So funny.

When Cassy made a joke about the ‘padded bras’ I almost fell out of seat laughing.

When Bianca poured her heart out to Wesley and said that the word 'Duff' hurt her, I cried at that.

Stars: 4.5/5

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Acting up by Melissa Nathan

The book goes by the name 'Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field' as well.

Jasmin Field, a witty columnist of a woman's mag, lands a coveted role of Elizabeth Bennett in one fund-raising adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Better yet, the play's director, Harry Nobel is every bit obnoxious as she'd hoped. Which means a lot of material for her column. And a lot of fun at the rehearsals.


The blurb doesn't even begin to sum up this book. It's a lot deeper and tangled than it sounds  up there. All for better.

The modern story retelling of Jane Austen’s classic ends in the same fashion. Lizzy and Darcy of this book, who are highly opinionated about each other, clear their differences and fall in love.

Like Darcy, Harry Noble seems like a man who thinks too highly of himself. And like Lizzy Bennet, Jasmin Field is prejudiced and hates him the minute she sets eyes on him. Their initial encounter isn’t too pretty.

There is also a snotty sister, like Ms. Bingley, trying to court our Darcy-slash-Harry. 

But what distinguishes this book from the classic is its use of language, the sarcasm, modern, comic tone, the supplementary characters, their voices, their pasts and their stories as they unfold.

Acting up showed a lot of different point of views but did not mix them up. The strongest and probably the most sarcastic voice was of Jasmin Field.

There are tons of sub plots wired into one another. At the beginning it gets a little confusing and overwhelming with all those names that are thrown at us when we’re introduced to the huge cast of the play. But the writers eases our way into each one of their heads and by the end of it, they all become as real as fictional characters go.

I like the fact that apparently the most handsome director alive on planet is not without flaws. When we finally learn about his fears, shortcomings (like poor driving and conversation skills), he feels more real making the story believable and much more agreeable.

Random thoughts: It’s by far one of my favorite chic lit I have read in a long time. It held my attention throughout. I tend to wander off after about 50 pages if the book fails to grip me. I can’t finish a book if it doesn’t pique my interest. And I read this one in single sitting.

Overall: Predictable at times, it’s still unputdownable for its amazing writing style, hilarious scenes and super fast pace. I love the fact that we get to see the doom of every single character. Yes, Every Single. The book gave me joy and laughter more than my money’s worth.

Stars: 5/5

Highly, highly recommended