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

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A twist of date by Susan Hatler #5

Genre: Romance
Language: English
Pages: 138
Publisher: Hatco. Inc. (29th July, 2013)

Malanie Porter has been dumped, again. When others accuse her of 'being in love with being in love', she agrees to let her best friend, Patti, step in and direct her dating life.

Patti charts out a few rules and calls them 'the boyfriend bylaws'. Malanie has to adhere to 'em if she doesn't want to lose her Betty, the shiny convertible Beetle, and wants her love life to pep up.

Previously titled as 'The boyfriend Bylaws', A twist of date is the fifth book in 'better date than never' series. Though a part of a series, it can be read as a standalone novella.

Main character/narrator is an adorable and beautiful Malanie who happens to be in love with the idea of being in love. She seems to make a prince out of every guy she meets, expecting long term commitment from them within a week. Idolizing a guy only blinds her from seeing his flaws and she ends with her heart broken each time.

The reason behind her desperate attempts to find true, everlasting love is she has had too many failed relationships and she has only ever loved one guy, Matt who is seemingly unattainable. Matt is that charming, player man who can't stick around with one woman for long. And at 27, Malanie can't afford casual flings.
So to suppress her true feelings for Matt, she looks to invest those overwhelming emotions into other guys. She also has a compulsive desire to prove she is nothing like her mother who loved and left.

I enjoyed the book a lot. The writing flows with ease from scene to scene and dialogues are crisp. Those roller coaster emotions the narrator feels are well painted with words.

Climax of the story was predictable but not dull. Ending could have been a little more elaborate.

The thing that prodded me was the sisters mended the bridges too abruptly. From the start, we are made to believe Malanie's step sister is an epitome of perfection and that they both don't get along too well.
But at the end with sharing one secret they suddenly cry in each others arms and profess their sisterly love.

Matt's character is easily likable. Malanie feels real and has our sympathy till the end.

Random thoughts:I downloaded this book on Kindle primarily because it was free and I wanted to read a quick, light chic lit. But Susan Hatler, must i say, was a pleasant discovery and I'm planning to buy other books by her in the series.

Overall: A perfect lunch break read.

Stars: 4/5

Sunday, 20 April 2014

To all the boys I've loved before by Jenny Han #1

Genre: Young Adult
Language: English
Pages: 368
Publisher: Simon and Schuster books (April 15, 2014)

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letter in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letter that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved- five in all. When she writes, she pours her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

The whole point of the book is not if all the guys she likes fall to her feet when they receive her letters or not. Or if she ends up with four options to choose from.

It’s more about her growing up, judging people right, not hiding away from her emotions and her sisters and taking responsibility for her actions. She has to do a lot of things on her own when her elder sister takes off to Scotland for further studies. The responsibility to care for a sister seven years younger, drive around, make sure there’s breakfast, lunch, dinner every day on the table, do laundry, be strong and ideal older sister whilst handling her personal chaotic life falls upon her.

The bond between the Song sisters is what stands out in the entire book. Every sister has a distinct personality.

Kitty (Katherine, the youngest sister) is more of a brat, who doesn’t like when someone orders her around and will bite if you rub her the wrong way. She’s an eye for an eye kind of a person. I could almost picture her growing up to be a strong, dignified woman with a successful career and good fashion sense. It might turn to arrogance or rudeness if she doesn’t watch it though.

Margot (eldest) is more of a mother figure. She ensures everybody in the family is well fed and happy yet maintaining her own personality. At work, she’ll be sincere, helping and indispensable kind. She’s that person whose absence is felt more than her presence.

Lara Jean (I always found this name weird. And weirder when nobody ever abbreviated it to, say, Lara or Jeany) is the narrator. She is sixteen years old and feels most real and close to a girl that age than most sixteen year olds portrayed in many other novels. She is more on the goofier, naive side. She can’t get everything right, but she tries her best. It’s hilarious to watch her hide and run when the letters are sent out and one by one the boys approach her with confused looks demanding explanation.

Even though the letter gets sent to five boys, only two of them play a major role in her life.

There are a lot of incidences where I couldn’t help laugh out real loud. Her reactions when she learns the letters got sent out and how she tries to tackle the situation. Or when she drives to grocery store with Kitty on passenger seat being her ‘another pair of eyes’, I pitied her driving skills.

At the end, I was left wanting for more. Not only because the book is good, which it is, but also because the ending was abrupt. I wanted to know what happens to Lara Jean when school starts, how people react to the whole scene, what happens to Gen and Peter, Margot and Josh. Lara Jean and Josh. Lara Jean and Peter.

It ends with Lara Jean starting to write yet another letter.

And then I Google a bit and learn there's a sequel after all called 'Ps. I still love you' . *sigh of relief*

...Coming out in 2015 *cries*

Random Thoughts:
The book  vaguely reminded me of Taylor Swift at one point. Her diary is open for all to see and (sadly) judge. The only difference is Taylor chose to come clean, while our heroine just stumbled into the whole thing.

Also, it reminds me of ‘Can you keep a secret’ by Sophie Kinsella which walks on the same lines of accidental spilled beans and open secrets. Though the stories are both different and addictive.

And Jenny Han is a great writer. Reading her is like watching a movie. Imagining is as effortless as breathing.

And the cover. *sigh*

Suitable for: All teenagers and girls. And boys if they want a sneak peek into a sixteen year old girl's mind.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Montana Sky by Nora Roberts

Genre: Romance
Language: English
Pages: 352
Publisher: Jove (in 1998, first publisher)

A rich dead father, who has three young daughters— all born to different mothers and each unknown of the other— writes an unusual will. The will states that if they each want one-third of his multi-million dollar fortune, they’ll have to live together for a year on the Montana Ranch.

The book takes us through their journey through that year.

Review:The three sisters have distinct personalities. It’s almost as if by the end of the book, you can tell how each one of them will react in varied, real situation.

Willa is the sister who’s lived on Ranch all her life and knows how to run it. Lily is the timid divorcee who has escaped from an abusive marriage. Tess, the scriptwriter of Hollywood, is the woman on a mission which is to get her fair share and get the hell out.

Forced to live together they slowly but surely, with heaps of clashes, bond together. But just as they think the stay might be good after all, a murderer is set loose who apparently not only likes playing with their mind, but also with innocent lives.

While reading, it wasn’t difficult to guess the culprit. For a dozen times. Each one turning out wrong. And I’m glad I couldn’t figure that killer out until the end. That made it all worth it.
Writing is typically Nora-like, with lots of description of beautiful landscape, meticulous characterization, irresistible love interests and crisp dialogues. I almost felt the presence of the characters around me. I lived with them on the Ranch and saw the action as  it happened.

It was fun to read how they cope with the situations and with each other, how they survive a brutal killer with underlying intentions and how everything typically ends in the Nora style. Happily ever after.

Suitable for: 
Mostly female readers, but no age bar. Like Nora puts it, her books are a bond between generations. Anyone can enjoy them.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Last Song by Nicholas Spark

Genre: Romance, Fiction
Language: English
Pages: 390
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

A seventeen year old Veronica is angry with her father who divorces her mother and moves out. Three years later, her mother decides that Veronica and her little brother need to spend their summer time with their father. Veronica sulks but has no other choice. But a few turn of events and some revelations changes her life forever.

The story starts with Veronica preparing to return back to her home after spending the summer with her father. She narrates the stay to her mother who's come to pick her up in a flashback.

Review:Veronica's transformation from being a passive aggressive, ignorant teenager to a mature girl was what stood out in the novel. There were many shocking, some pleasant some not so, revelations that kept me turning the pages. The book didn't give away all its secret at once and I admire Nicholas Spark for that.

The relationship between Veronica and her father as it developed was heart-warming to read. The romantic side of story was portrayed in a believable, sweet way with family, friends and petty issues posing as hindrances. I especially liked the way Veronica's love life and family problem collided in a most unexpected way.

Movie Comparison: (Starring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth).
I imagined Veronica as a more mature girl than Miley's portrayal of her in the movie. It was a tad bit disappointing, but overall a treat to eyes because of the wonderful picturization. And amazing music.

The best was the song 'When I look at you' which was actually the 'last song' Veronica played for her father in the book.

Random Thoughts:I picked it up because I learnt Nicholas Sparks wrote this book especially keeping Miley Cyrus in mind, a pop star cum actress I adore. And needless to mention, I'm a huge fan of both of them.

Overall: High on emotions, well written with sad, but apt ending.

Ratings: 5/5