Friday, 31 January 2014

January 2014 Book Haul- II.

I got all these book off of Amazon and once again they arrived in like 12 hours! Super amazing. I've already read and reviewed Imaginary Girls and I can't wait to get to the rest of these, I love that most of these books are supposed to be well-written pieces of literature...yay! I've heard nothing but great things about them! 

There will be one more January Book Haul...I just got some books in the mail today...I know..I have a problem! But my birthday is in 18 days and I like to buy books to distract myself from the gloom and doom of the upcoming birthday! Gah! 

Tell me if you've read any of these books and what you think of them? 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Sister Reads | Review: The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

Book: The Great Indian Novel

Author: Shashi Tharoor

Pages: 423

Time it took me to read: Over the course of three days

Plot Summary: In this award-winning, internationally acclaimed novel, Tharoor has masterfully recast the 2,000 year-old epic, The Mahabharata, with fictional but highly recognisable events and characters from twentieth-century Indian politics. Chronicling the Indian struggle for freedom and independence from Great Britain, Tharoor directs his hilarious satire as much against Indian foibles as the bumbling of the British rulers. 

Thoughts and Review: I read 'The Great Indian Novel' for the first time in college.. in my First Year (as we say in India) or my Freshman Year (as our American friends call it). One of my closest friends- Mich- recommended the book to me and even gave me her copy. I had not read too many Indian authors (writing in English) at this point and so, was slightly sceptical. Well, sceptical till I read the first three pages and then I as a fan. 

It is unfortunate that Shashi Tharoor is in the news for all the wrong things right now (and in the past few years) because all these shenanigans take away from the fact that the man is a BRILLIANT author! 

The Great Indian Novel, in its most obvious avatar, tells the story of India's struggle for independence from the British rule. It tells the story of our nationalist movement and the leaders who were in the front and center of it. However, what makes this book brilliant is how Tharoor uses wicked satire and superb form to use the characters of the Mahabharata- the greatest Indian epic with the most well-sketched, legendary characters. So, at one level, you read about the events that took place in the first half of the twentieth century, but you experience them through the characters of the Mahabharata. That's a crash course in Indian history (of sorts) right there! 

The way the characters of the Mahabharata come alive in our Nationalist Movement leaders is quite interesting and totally hilarious! 

One need not be familiar with The Mahabharata to enjoy this book, because Tharoor does provide a context to the events and characters and you don't feel lost or anything. So, even if you are totally unfamiliar with the great Indian epic, you can still read The Great Indian Novel

The book is told with a wry and wicked sense of humour and there are so many laugh out loud moments. I think I scared my roommate by giggling out loudly in the middle of the night whilst reading this book. 

Highly, highly recommend this book. 

Will You Like It?: If you enjoy history in any shape or form and if you love clever writing and satire, then this is an absolute must-read for you! I am going to re-read this very soon just because it has been SO long! 

Rating: 4.5/5 (I remember feeling it dragged on a bit in the middle, but I could also put that down to being 18 and silly *grin*)

January 2014 Book Haul- I.

The books in this haul are mostly Bengali authors. I have heard family and cousins talk about these authors all my life and I am so glad I am getting to read some of their works due to the wonderfulness that is translation!

These books are all from Flipkart and I got them pretty much in the first week of the month. There will be a part II of the January books because I did get more books over the rest of the month. So come back for that.

I have read one other book by Ibn-e Safi in like 2012 I was a fun read with a very retro cover. It read like a 1950s Bollywood film and I like that kinda thing, so I deeply enjoyed that book. I am excited to read this one too. Should be fun!

This little book is just plain beautiful! Cloth bound and golden edged pages! Love it! I have actually read and massively loved this book! Will do a full proper review soon!

This steamy little book was banned when it first came out in 1966 (I think). It deals with adultery and I am very, very excited to see what the fuss is all about!

My mom has read several books by this author and highly recommends it. This is a collection of several and I mean several..nearly 70 short stories. I cannot wait to read it!

I was on a major Byomkesh Bakshi kick last year and read every translated version I could lay my hands on. This collection was out of print last year and the minute it was in stock on Flipkart I had to have it. Read it already and really loved it!

Oh My God! Just feast your eyes in this piece of art! This book, this beautiful hardcover book is simply marvelous! I have heard great things about this book and I am curious to read it but to be honest I 60% bought this book because of how gorgeous it is! Swooooon!

OK, this last book is from Amazon, my first ever book purchase from the site and I was blown away by the service! We ordered it late on a Friday 11.20 pm and it got to us by noon the next day! In like 12 hours! Mind blown! I have since ordered more books from the site and I am a happy camper!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Review: Torn by Cat Clarke.

Book: Torn

Author: Cat Clarke

Pages: 372

How Long it Took Me Read: 1 day.

Plot Summary: Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares… 

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down. 

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever...

A compelling story of guilty secrets, troubled friendship and burgeoning love. 

General Thoughts and Review: I have read one more book by Cat Clarke in the past. It was called Entangled and I picked that book purely based on it's cover. I thought it was OK but I didn't love it or anything. I actually ended up selling it when I moved cities. I wasn't impressed by the writing and when I heard of this book I thought meh...not reading a book by an author whose previous work failed to impress me. 

But...the plot of this book sounded pretty fun and I needed to read a fast paced, suspenseful book. I thought I'd give this author another chance and I am glad I did. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was everything it promised to be, a quick read about secrets, friendship and bad choices and the aftermath of these choices. I was hooked from the first page and kept reading at breakneck speed to find out what happened. I read somewhere that this is the book for the fans of Pretty Little Liars. I love (OK love might be a word too strong) more like- really like the TV show. I haven't read the book series. I read the first book in the series and didn't like it at all. It was basically the first episode of the show. Yes, the entire book was a first episode. Pretty much nothing happened and the writing was just too middle grade. But since I do like the TV show and the basic premise of PLL, I wanted to read this book. 

It is a little like PLL- in the sense it is about 5 girls in a cabin and one of them goes missing. The four remaining girls are left grappling with the decisions they made that night and how these decisions change them. 

The one thing that realllllly made me happy was that there was murder...or death...the missing girl isn't just missing. She is dead. I hate books that promise you one thing and give you something else. There is a dead girl and her four cabin mates had something to do with it. 

Alice- our lead character is having a hard time post the death of Tara and she wants to make things right but doesn't know how. To complicate matters, she finds herself falling for Tara's little brother and lying to him and everyone else is making her life miserable. I liked Alice and how she was dealing with a pretty messed up situation. Sure I would like to think I would do things a little differently but then...forget it. 

The main thing I loved about the book is the many twists and turns and surprises it holds. Some of them predictable, only slightly, but the main twist was pretty freaking awesome! I also loved how this book has you thinking you know a character and trust them and feel a certain way about them but BAM! suddenly you are left with a whole new view and perspective on them. (***SPOILER ALERT***) Also, this book is interesting in the sense that it turns the stereotypical perception of the "Mean Girl" and the "victim" totally on its head! 

Really, read this book! 

Rating: 4/5 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

Book: Imaginary Girls

Author: Nova Ren Suma

Pages: 365

How Long it Took Me to Read: 2 days...ish!

Plot Summary: Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

What I Liked: There were so many things I adored about this book. 

The writing was really good, better than so many other YA books. The quality was above and beyond a YA book. In fact, this book is not what I'd categorize as strictly YA, it has several teenage characters but the content is fairly adult and dark and grown-up. 

I also loved the sister relationship. The connection between Ruby and Chloe is remarkable and I absolutely loved reading about their bond. I love my big sister and she is my best friend and biggest supporter and mother and confidante and partner in crime all rolled into one. So I love books that talk about sibling relationships and especially books about sister. I really loved this aspect of the book. It got the love, closeness as well as  certain tricky aspects of the sisterhood were captured very well. 

This book more than anything else is a character study of Ruby. An ode to Ruby if you will. I love reading about enigmatic characters and the pull they have over everyone else. Eccentric, weird, crazy, whacky, original and intense- Ruby makes for some very good reading. 

What I Didn't Like: OK....this might be confusing but hear me out. 

The writing..yes I just said I liked it. But it was a little too stylized sometimes and the writing sometimes took over the narrative. It felt like all style and at time little substance. I said, this book was an out and out ode to her character. I am not even kidding more than half of the book is about how awesome Ruby is, how crazy and whimsy and how she is such an original. While I liked reading about Ruby earlier, after a point it got a bit much. Yeah, I get it Ruby is awesome and has done some amazing things and everyone loves her and she is magic. I didn't need it shoved down my throat every five pages. 

Chloe- I never like characters that are so meh. I get that with an enigmatic sister like Ruby, she'd take somewhat of a backseat in life but it made for some insipid reading. 

Magical Elements- strictly speaking this is not a con. Not at all. I love magical realism and magical elements in book. I just didn't think this one had magical elements in it. So needless to say it came as a huge whopping surprise and that threw me off a little bit. I didn't expect it and it really did surprise me. 

General Thoughts: This book has been on my TBR since 2011! But I could never get my hands on an affordable edition. Till I finally saw it on Amazon for Rs.245! 

I normally try to keep my review sensible and clear but with this book I really did have very mixed feelings. There were things I really appreciated and then there were things that just didn't sit well with me. 

I didn't hate this book or anything and I will recommend this book with caution, it is not for everyone. 

Will You Like It? If you like reading about intense relationships, family and character studies you will like this book. Also if you want to read a nicely written YA, this is a good book to pick. 

Rating: 3/5 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer.

Book: Frost

Author: Marianna Baer

Pages: 396

How Long It Took Me to Read: 2 days.

Plot Summary: Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate—eccentric Celeste Lazar.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House: frames falling off walls, doors locking themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And although Leena strives to be the peacekeeper, soon the eerie happenings in the dorm, an intense romance between Leena and Celeste’s brother, David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind…or in Frost House itself?

General Thoughts and Review: I love boarding school stories. I guess anyone who didn't go to a baording school, finds stories from there endlessly fascinating. Add to that a ghost story/haunting scenario and you bet this is a book I want to read! 

Frost- it's basic premise had me hooked! A Victorian cottage where four best friends will use as a dorm in their senior year and weird things start happening! Perfect!!! I loved the plot and the setting of this story. I also liked the various friendships in this book- Leena and her friends Abby and Vivian seem like a nice bunch of girls. Popular but not mean, not mere cliches but real people. I loved reading about their friendships, their fights and them getting miffed with each other seemed like something girls in high school all go through. 

I also liked that Leena wasn't perfect in any way and seemed for certain bits of the book rather messed up and troubled and I kept wondering if she was mentally unstable. I also really liked Celeste. She was meant to be the outsider who was messing up the cosy friendships in Frost House, but I sorta liked her. She is artsy, whimsical and crazy, I wouldn't want her a roommate but I liked her. 

The romance in the book is OK, frankly, this book didn't need a romance! I hate when a forced romance is shoved down in any book just to add a dimension to the story. Plus, I wasn't a big fan of David. 

This was an enjoyable book with quite a few creepy bits. 95% of the book (and I know 95% because I was reading it on my Kindle) I loved! I was hooked. Gripped and just couldn't wait to get to the bottom of the mystery. I just couldn't put the book down! 

Then the end arrived....and it was a bit of a let down. Basically, and without giving any spoilers away, the end was an open ending sorta thing. Meaning you were given two possible explanations for all spooky things. And you, the reader, are left to choose the explanation you prefer. I don't know about you but this just upsets me. I like books that take a stand...that choose one way or the other and doesn't take the safe route and leave it open. Gah! 

But for most part, I didn't enjoy the book and the writing and the characters. The ending just was disappointing. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sister Reads | Review: Little Face by Sophie Hannah

Book: Little Face

Author: Sophie Hannah

Pages: 368

Time it took me to read: 7-8 hours across 2 days

Plot Summary: The first time Alice Fancourt goes out after their daughter is born, she leaves the two-week-old infant with her husband, David. When she returns only two hours later, she swears the baby in the crib is not her child. Despite her distress, David is adamant that she is wrong.

The police are called to the scene. Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse is sympathetic, but he doubts Alice's story. His superior, Sergeant Charlie Zailer, thinks that Alice must be suffering from some sort of delusion brought on by postpartum depressions.

With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it's too late?

Thoughts and Review: I enjoyed the core premise of this book and the way the narrative built up. A new mother steps out, albeit rather reluctantly, for the first time after having her baby and returns home to find that the infant sleeping in the nursery is not her baby but someone else. Of course, no one believes her and as things intensify, the reader is drawn into the intrigue and the book is fairly gripping. So, the premise is quite interesting. 

Of the characters, those who are recurring (this book is first in the series of what is called the 'Spilling CID' cases) are Simon Waterhouse- a loner of a cop, who'd rather work alone than with a team; his boss Charlotte (Charlie) Zailer- who sort of has a crush on Simon (which is not reciprocated by him) and the other two cops of their team- who don't really have a significant presence, so their names completely escape me now. 

Then we have the Fancourt family- Alice Fancourt- the new mother who is convinced that her daughter has been switched and who completely seems neurotic and hysterical but is actually quite sane. She totally falls apart when no one really believes her about the baby switcheroo and one feels quite awful for her. Then we have her husband- David Fancourt- who goes from normal to a total psycho as the story unfolds. He is a spoilt mama's boy who starts torturing Alice and refuses to believe her about the baby being switched. David's mother Vivienne is a total matriarch and control-freak bully who runs her household with a tight fist. She is the only one who is willing to believe Alice about the baby switcheroo. 

As the story unfolds, we learn that David's first wife was murdered right at the end of their driveway and there were certain loopholes in the case. Simon pretty much single-handedly leads the investigation and figures out what really happened. 

So, the book has all the right ingredients. There is a mystery, which seems quite interesting and makes you wonder what the motive for the baby switcheroo is. The book is quite the page turner too.. which is why I found the ending very disappointing. 

What I Didn't Like: For a book that starts off well, has an interesting set of characters and a good central mystery, Little Face really disappoints! The whole big mystery was just so disappointing! There was an obvious aspect to the mystery, which is very guessable (I am sorry I am being vague but I don't want to spoil the book for those who are either mid-read or want to read) and which is not as much of a big reveal as it is made out to be. So, the book is sort of a let down. You speed through it thinking it will be something awesome but it ends up being something totally lame! 

Will You Like It?: You will enjoy the journey rather than the destination when it comes to this book. But given how weird the ending is, I don't think you will. 

Rating: 2/5 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Review: Joyland by Stephen King.

Book: Joyland

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 280

How Long it Took Me to Read: 2 days

Plot SummarySet in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny, in the amusement park called Joyland and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. He also makes friends, grows up, heals his broken heart and tries very hard to spot the ghost of the girl killed in the park. 

General Thoughts and Review: This was my first proper Stephen King book, I have read a collection of short stories- which were rather nice and proper out and out horror stories. I love horror and watch pretty much any horror movie I can get my hands on. Last year, I wanted to read horror, but for some reason I didn't enjoy the few horror books I picked up. Weirdly enough it never occurred to me to pick up the the one person whose very name is synonymous with horror stories- Stephen King! 

I picked up Joyland because it sounded really nice and a was a decent size, most of Stephen King's books are pretty massive. This one at 280 pages was a good place to start. 

The first thing I should mention is that this isn't very scary. There is a ghost. There is murder. A serial killer. But it isn't a typical horror book. It is so much more. 

Another thing worth point mentioning is how surprised I was at the brilliant writing! Seriously I am a moron for thinking all Stephen King was good at was scares! He is such a good writer that at several points in the book I just stopped and marveled at it. 

Now on the the book: this book is many things. Like I said is is a murder mystery, a ghost story, a story of lost love, heartbreak and summer jobs. Its also about coming of age, growing up and making friends. And for all this alone you must read this book. 

I loved it. Really loved this book! I enjoyed it immensely. The story, the excellent writing, the characters and the setting of this book...also the time period- I am a massive 70s fan. In short I loved pretty much everything about this book and the fact that it didn't scare me at all didn't disappoint at all. Strange but true. 

The characters in the book, from Devon to his friends, his spunky landlady and the entire staff at the amusement park are amazing to read about and get to know. They are such well-written and etched out characters. Such a delight to read. 

I really recommend this book, it has so many things that are so great. The murder mystery is great and the end reveal is pretty surprising. 

I can't wait to read more of King's works, next time I want to read a proper scary book! 

Rating: 5/5 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday Favourites /// Part VI

Sharing some more favourites this Friday.

This month has been really busy for me, in terms of work, but I have been able to sneak in some reading time. Been loving a new quiet hours of reading every night. 

I am not a big fan of lip glosses, mostly, because I don't like their texture, but these Apocalips from Rimmel London are, as the kids say, the bomb-dot-com! So buttery, silky and smooth. Love the berry coloured one that I picked up- shade is called Galaxy. 

Tea Center is the perfect spot for a late lunch, snack or just getting yourself a cuppa whenever the whim strikes. Highly recommend the Apple Butter Tea and the Watermelon Ice Tea. So, so good! 

Have been running off to work and such with a PBJ these days. The Peanut Butter & Co. Crunchy PB is just so delicious! Pair it with any odd jam, I love the Bon Maman Strawberry preserve, and enjoy the most delicious PBJ sandwich! :) 

Been good with journal-ing so far this year.. Been writing down the big things and the little things that happen each day. Sometimes the best memories are made in the 'smaller' more everyday moments that the big-big ones. 

I hope all of you are having a great Friday! 

We will be back with some book reviews tomorrow and day after! 

Have a good one! 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sister Sundays | Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Book: I Capture the Castle

Author: Dodie Smith

Pages: 566

Time Taken to Read: 9 hours across two days

Plot Summary: 'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink...'

This is the diary of Cassandra Mortmain, which tells of her extraordinary family and their crumbling castle home. Cassandra's father was once a famous writer, but now he mainly reads detective novels while his family slide into genteel poverty. Her sister Rose is bored and beautiful, and desperate to marry riches. Their step-mother Topaz has habit of striding through the countryside wearing only her wellington boots. But all their lives will be soon be transformed by the arrival of new neighbours from America, and Cassandra finds herself falling in love...

What I Liked: I loved the Mortmain family and their crazy, slightly off-beat life in the giant, falling-apart castle. The Mortmains don't have any money- in fact, things are so bad that they take money from their maid's son- Stephen- to put food on the table. But don't for a moment think that I Capture the Castle is some sad, depressing book about poverty. It is anything but! True, the Mortmain family does not have any money- their father, a one-hit author, spends his days locked up in a room reading detective novels and since it is the 1930s, there is not much that the women can do to make money. However, in spite of their poverty and having only tea and no dinner, the Mortmains are not wallowing in self pity. I really love their spirit and how they make the best of a bad situation with good humour and spirit. 

I loved Cassandra's character- she is the protagonist and it is her journal which documents the lives of these characters in the castle. Cassandra is a young girl whose coming-of-age or growing up is documented in the pages of her journal (and hence, the book). Cassandra has a lot of insight for someone her age and I love her non-judgmental about the people who surround her- be it her step-mother's penchant for "communing with nature" (walking around in the nude occasionally) or her father's eccentricities. Cassandra also has a strong moral compass, which is wonderful, especially, given how abject poverty can easily make people choose the easy way out. 

I really liked Stephen as well. Stephen is the Mortmain family's maid's son who has been living with them in the castle since his mother passed away. Stephen is not really 'help' but he does a lot of work around the house. He takes another job to earn money when the family had no source of income. He adores Cassandra and does a lot of sweet things for her. Too bad his love is not reciprocated but I love how the author has given him a 'happy ending' of sorts.

Another character that I really loved was that of Topaz- Cassandra's step-mom. She is a wonderful woman who loves her step-children and has a wonderful gung-ho approach to dealing with all their money problems. She is just delightful! 

The Cotton family (the ones who arrive from America) are also pretty interesting. They are nice, kind and thoughtful and the way their arrival changes the lives of the Mortmain family is very interesting to read about. 

The book is also laugh-out-loud funny in several places, which is always a good thing. 

What I Didn't Like: I don't want to spoil the book for you, but there was one plot point which I felt was a tad bit predictable, which was slightly disappointing, but I can look past it :) 

Would you like it?: If you like reading about nice, quirky and interesting characters and love well written books, then this is a book you simply must read! It may even inspire you to keep a journal! 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Review: The Mad Man's Daughter by Megan Shepherd.

Book: The Madman's Daughter

Author: Megan Shepherd

Pages: 468

How Long it Took Me to Read: 2 days.

Plot Summary: In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect. 

General Thoughts and Review: I don't know how or where I heard of this book but it sounded fascinating. A gothic horror type novel always gets me excited! Now, I haven't read The Island of Dr. Moreau, but like most classics I had a vague idea about the plot. So I knew what the premise of that book was and a re-telling of it sounded pretty amazing. I do want to read the original now...because I feel odd about having read a re-telling but not the original book. Also, I haven't read any H.G. Wells and I would like to change that as soon as I can! 

I really enjoyed this book, I liked the writing and I liked the characters and the pace at which the book moved. 

I really liked Juliet, she was sensible, smart, independent and sweet. I liked hearing her thoughts and seeing the island and it's creatures through her eyes. I also liked her almost romance with Montgomery- oh and I liked Montgomery himself! :) 

The creatures were less of monsters and more gentle beings to me and I really felt sad about what they had gone through and I liked them. I thought the islands creatures were very well done. 

There is a twist in the end which I had sorta part, but the whole truth definitely shocked me! It was a good twist. 

I also liked that Dr. Moreau remains a total villain...he is horrible but great to read about. 

I do recommend this book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and getting lost in this world and I am really curious to read the second book in the series which is a re-telling of The Strange Case of  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It sounds amazing. 

Rating: 4/5 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux.

Book: Asylum

Author: Madeleine Roux.

Pages: 310

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days..rather 2 sittings.

Plot Summary: For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

General Thoughts and Review: I heard of this book a while back and it was also a recommendation on GoodReads and it seemed that is just perfect for me. Creepy dorm? Ghosts? Asylums? Criminally insane? What't not to love?! I just had to read it! 

For most part this book is just what it claims to be: a fun, intense, spooky read. I liked the pace and the use of pictures to aid the story. Some might find it gimmicky, the use of pictures in books, but I just love it. If done right it can really add to the story. In this book, as the three friends find new clues and see new things, we the reader, also see them via these black and white pictures. I just loved it! 

I also loved the setting and the writing...sure sometimes it seemed more middle grade than Young Adult, in the sense that the writing is sometimes simplistic. It didn't take away from me enjoying the book. 

The mystery was good too...I guessed some of it, and the rest of it was revealed at a decent enough pace. 
There was also a mystery behind Dan's life and we find out more as the book progresses- this was nice added element to the plot. 

I liked the way in which the friends went about investigating and none of their efforts or interest for that matter seemed forced. In some books the characters get involved in the spooky scenarios for no good reason. This book was different, these three get pulled into the freaky things in almost believable ways. 

The characters were nicely etched out and came across as real and normal. I especially liked Jordan, it's not very often in YA literature that you find a gay character who is going through something difficult with his family. I also liked equation between the three friends and their chemistry. I liked Abby too. I liked Dan the least...I actually didn't like him very much. He is sorta insecure, clingy and reallllly whiny! I found him fairly irritating. 

The book was overall an enjoyable experience and I think there is a second book coming out this year, which makes sense because a lot of things were left unexplained. I am going to read the second book as I did enjoy this one and I am curious to see where the story goes. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Vignettes ~ 3. Six Little Lovelies!

Cute little bracelets bought from Blur. A fork for a foodie and pink glasses for a geeky girl. 

A cuddly little friend- a just can't pass up cute things and this little polka dotted teddy bear with fuzzy ears just had to come home with me. 

Though originally a has since broken and now will just stay in my bag and keep my company on my adventures. 

A slim little simple notebook to keep track of my writing this year. I intend to jot down story ideas and even scribble some plots and peoples. I loved the simplicity of this notebook. 

And finally, just the cutest things I've ever seen. Magnetic bookmarks from the Little Miss and Little Mr. series. I am a fan! I have coffee mugs, toys and miniatures toys from this line and I just love them!!! I could only find Little Miss Chatterbox and Mr. Tickle, I hope I find some of the other creatures and have a little bit of a collection going. 

These are a few of my favourite things I've recently bought. Life has been kind and I've spotted some cute things in shops. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year Book Haul!

Picked up some super cute books at the end of the year. I found myself in Crossword Bookstore with a few hours to kill and spent them happily book browsing. 

I just died over the gorgeous covers of the Tagore and Bankim Chandra books! The cover art is just beautiful and I just couldn't leave them behind. I am so excited to read both those books. 

Ah book hauls! They make me so happy! 

I spent all of..well most of today doing a massive book case re-org and if you know me you know playing with my books makes me deliriously happy. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

January 2014 To-Be-Read TBR List.

Let the reading for 2014 begin. Here is my TBR list: 

1. The All Bengali Crime Detectives by Suparna Chatterjee- read, loved and review..just below this post. 
2. Torn by Cat Clarke- read and enjoyed. Review coming soon! 
3. Lord Edgeware Dies by Agatha Christie- being read currently. 
4. Lady Chatterley's's Lover by DH Lawrence. 
5. Three Women by Tagore. 
6. In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. 
7. Joyland by Stephan King.
8. In The Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith. 
9. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi (RR) 
10. Some Sherlock Holmes short-stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 

I hope I stick to this list and maybe read even more! 

Happy January you guys! Have a brilliant start to the year. 

* RR stands for Re-Read. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Review: The All Bengali Crime Detectives by Suparna Chatterjee.

Book: The All Bengali Crime Detectives

Author: Suparna Chatterjee

Pages: 180

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: Nothing much can be expected from the peaceful neighborhood of Kolkata where only middle-class families reside. However, the lives of four men change drastically when a sudden crime takes place in their neighborhood.

The All Bengali Crime Detectives by Suparna Chatterjee narrates the story of four misfit detectives who are hot on the trail of a criminal. The crime committed is not as straightforward as it seems. As the novel progresses, the four realize that something dangerous is going to occur if they do not catch the perpetrator on time.
The boring lives of these four retired men change completely when they follow the trail of the criminal in hopes of solving the crime before it is too late. Besides the crime, the novel also introduces the subplots of the fair Bengali girl about to be married off, the competition with the neighborhood clubs for the best Durga Puja pandal, and the problems created by a jobless Romeo-like figure.
General Thoughts: This was my first read of the year and I spent the first day of the year thinking hard about what my first read should be. I am a weird like that, I want to start the New Year with a new book. I took quite a risk starting with a book I knew very little about. A book that could be terrible and thereby begin my year on a sourpuss note!

Well, that didn't happen! This book was delightful! Simply put- it was sweet, heart-warming, funny and full of Bengali-ness. It made me smile and laugh out loud on several occasions. I absolutely loved it! And I cannot recommend it enough. I loved it so much that I had my sister stop reading the book she was mid-way through and read this instead. I am now going to send it to my Dad to read it. And I really wish some of you pick it up!

Review: A crime story set in quiet locality in South Calcutta, a host of sweet and well-meaning characters and lots of cute snippets about middle class Bengali life. The quiet neighbourhood in Golf Green is jolted out of its everyday, humdrum life when a huge diamond ring belonging to a wealthy neighbour goes missing after a party. All the elderly gentlemen of the neighbourhood present at the party are most shaken and a few of them, led by a newly retired High Court judge- Akhil Banerjee, decide to carry own their own covert investigation and unearth the culprit.

So, we have these four retired men- Akhil Banerjee, Bibhuti Bose, Chandan Mukherjee and Debdas Guha Roy, all of who are going through an identity crisis of sorts because they no longer feel useful or relevant after their retirement. They are reduced to running errands for their wives and being sidelined and poked fun at by the younger men of the locality. The robbery of the diamond ring gives them a reason to feel relevant and needed.

While the crime is simple enough and I am sure, just like me, several others will be able to make a pretty accurate guess about what really happened, but the way in which the story unfolds and the couple of other sub-plots more than make up for the simplicity of the crime.

The author also captures the rhythms of everyday Bengali life really well.The sub-plots about the paara Pujo, Potlu's crush on Piya (Debdas' daughter), the boys who come to "see" Piya for matrimonial purposes are all so fun to read about.

The characters are extremely endearing and so very real. Their reactions to the rapidly changing world, their gentleness and their chutzpah are so lovely to read about. I really hope there is a second book with these characters.

Will you like it?: If you like reading about sweet characters and charming people, then you will love this book.

Rating: 5/5 because this book made me really happy and so nostalgic! It was like being in Calcutta all over again. 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Sister Reads| Reading Resolutions for 2014

I am not much of a planner- for pretty much everything in life. So, I don't really plan what I am going to read in the year ahead, but I have seen my sister's reading-related goals every year and I love how she manages to achieve most of them, which really inspired me to put some down of my own.

So, here they are.. My 2014 Reading Resolutions:

  1. Read at least one classic from a never-before-read author >> I have always shied away from reading the Russian greats like Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, so, this year, I have decided to read my first Dostoyevsky. I think I will start with Crime and Punishment. 
  2. Read some translated works by Bengali authors >> It is a shame that I can't read Bengali as fast as I read English. This really hampers my willingness to read Bengali writing in, er, Bengali. So, in 2014, I really want to read translated works of Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Bankim Chandra. I am really looking forward to this. 
  3. Read stories from countries/parts of the world I haven't read about (in fiction) before >> So, any good recommendations of book by Eastern European authors? Or any new African authors? I read and loved Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie last year and I want more of African literature! Also, any recommendations of Aussie authors? 
  4. Read the Nancy Mitford novels >> Pooja has been reading these and laughing out aloud, so I really want to get in on the giggles and read these books as well. 
  5. Do not labour over a dull book >> I started reading The Luminaries. Yup, the very one that won the Booker last year. A N D. It did not grip me. The writing style, the plot, the characters.. none of them seemed interesting even after being 200 pages in. I kept on reading in spite of not enjoying the book, because, come on, it won the Booker dammit! I gave up only when Pooja told me that life is too short to waste on books that we don't like. Well, I tried. I gave it 200 pages. 
  6. Read new genres >> I don't read a lot of fantasy fiction or even paranormal/supernatural themed books. Oh, or even pure and simple horror stories. So, this year, I will read one of each and I eagerly solicit your recommendations. 
  7. Just have fun >> After all, above all, reading is supposed to be fun. I want to read books that make me happy, make me think, make me feel. 
Here's wishing all of you a very bright and happy 2014! 

If you have any author/ book recommendations or reading resolutions, please share. :) 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Hello 2014! Here are my 2014 Reading Resolutions!

Happy New Year guys! Hope this year brings you all kinds of happiness! 

At the beginning of each year, I tend to write down my goals and aspirations for the year. Since last year, I've been making specific Reading Resolutions, to keep my reading focused and giving myself some goals and making sure I stick to it. I have found it useful in the past year and hopefully this year is just the same. 

So here are my Reading Resolutions for 2014! 

1. Read More Classics/// I have this on my list every single year and last year I actually did abide by it. This year I want to read more classic literature, modern classics and Indian classics as well. 

2. Read A Classic a Month/// Similar to point 1, but more focused. I want to read one classic- any kind of classic- each month. This shouldn't be hard...I really should just do it. 

3. Read Big-Fat-Huge Books/// Basically don't get intimidated by the sheer size of the book. The longest book I read in 2013 was Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry, which was 700+ pages. I also read and loved The Night Film by Marisha Pessl, which was 648 pages. I already have a few big books lined up that I want to read this year. 

4. Don't Read Books That You Don't Like/// I cannot tell you how freeing this feels. To not have to finish a book is a freeing thing! There are bad books, that is a truth. So when one comes across a bad book, you just don't need power through (something I did), you just drop it. In 2013, I started and didn't finish about 10 books or more and it felt good. 

5. Buy Books you Really Want to Read/// Simple really, just buy books I want to immediately read and not something I will read in the future. 

6. Read More Graphic Novels. 

7. Read More Children's Classics/// These books just make me happy! 

8. Re-Read More/// The whole point of buying books is to build a life-library and obviously read beloved books over and over. I re-read quite a few books last year and I hope this year I can more of that in 2014. 

9. Read Books from Different Countries. 

10. Read More Bengali Authors/// Bengali is my mother tongue, I speak it fluently but don't read it. So translated books are my fix of Bengali books. I want to read the books my parents have read and books my family members rave about. 

11. Read Older Books on my Bookshelves/// I have books sitting unread on my shelf for a decade unread! I need to fix that...really fix it! 

12. Read Books That Make Me Happy/// All good books make me happy. Sometimes I just want to read inane silly books and I plan to read more of them this year.