Friday, 28 February 2014

Friday Favourites Part VIII

Another month of 2014 draws to an end. It's amazing how quickly the first two months of the year have gone by. We've been busy and lazy in equal parts, but the good thing is that we have been reading all through the busy and lazy times.

Here are some of my favourite things from this past month.

The days of early sunsets are now over. Caught this beautiful sunset on my way to NCPA for a play. 

Less is more when it comes to everyday jewellery, though, sometimes more is more- I do love me my big chunky silver rings! :) 

Re-purposed a bunch of used stamps to make tiny wall "art". I use the word "art" very loosely. These just add such a cute pop of colour to our on-going above-the-bed collage of little bits of art. 

How cute are these little floral ones!

A box of sweet treats that made me VERY happy. The little Nutella brownies- the ones with the hearts on them- are so good. Definitely go check out Le15 if you happen to live in Bombay. 

I hope all of you are having a wonderful Friday. 

I am going to read a Murakami book- most probably- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- and I am so excited! :) 

Happy March, everyone! 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Book Haul: Books of February 2014- Part II.

February was a happy and lovely book buying month for me. Given it's my birthday month I went allllll out buying books! 

All of these books are from Amazon

2 beautiful Sherlock book with the beautiful Benedict Cumberbatch on the cover! I seriously want all of these books. I am a proud member of the CumberCollective! That man makes me very happy! 

2 Penguin Modern Classics...I love these editions of books. Also I love Modern Classics. Easier to read and imminently enjoyable. 

I also added to my Penguin English Library collection by getting an E.M Forster book. 

And finally caved in and got another Random House Classics cover with seriously such a pretty Indian print on it!!! Love it. 

Hmm...the running theme of this book haul seems to be pretty books...I promise I am not that superficial, pretty as these books might be, I am more interested in the words and the stories. But the Cumberbatch books are beautiful...and I might have...just might have hugged them...for a long while! 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sister Sundays | Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Book: The Language of Flowers

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Pages: 322

Time It Took Me To Read: 3 hours 

Plot Summary: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Thoughts and Review: The Language of Flowers at its very core is a book about giving yourself a second chance at building your life into something beautiful and happy. 18 year old Victoria has not had a happy life. She has been in the foster system since her birth and has hopped from one foster family to another till she got emancipated at 18. Victoria has no money and nowhere to go. She is passionate about one and only one thing- flowers and their secret language, which was taught to her by the only foster parent she ever loved and felt close to- Elizabeth. Victoria starts working with a florist and slowly starts helping people by giving them the most meaningful bouquets. 
The story is really about Victoria building her life from scratch and slowly taking steps to lower her defences and find love and happiness. 
I really loved how beautifully written this book is and how Victoria's character is so real and nuanced. Victoria is someone who has a massive distrust of people and she is afraid of happiness and so, her reactions to things, events and people is driven by this innate distrust. As we follow her journey in the book, we see how tentative Victoria is when it comes to opening up her heart to happiness and family but also how she is determined to make something of herself slowly but surely. 
A very heart-warming book with some amazing supporting cast of characters as well. There is Elizabeth, whose story we learn about in Victoria's flashback to a year and a half that she spent at Victoria's vineyard. Elizabeth was also struggling with distant, cold relationships and a lifetime of loneliness and her interactions with an angry and, sometimes, violent Victoria are very heart-warming. Then there is Grant- equally damaged in some sense and just like Victoria is taking one step at a time to find happiness and love. Renata- Victoria's boss- and her lovely family show Victoria how there is niceness to be found even with strangers. 
Overall, a fabulous book with lovely characters. 

Would You Like It?: Yes! If you like well-written books about interesting characters and which warm the depths of your heart, you will love this book. Also, if like me, you like learning new things from books- like the language of flowers- you will love this book as well.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Review: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.

Book: The History of Love

Author: Nicole Krauss

Pages: 260

How Long It Took Me To Read: 2 days.

Plot Summary: Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing that she might discover it is an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author. Across New York an old man named Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the lost love who sixty years ago in Poland, inspired him to write a book. And although he doesn't know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives...

General Thoughts: This book has been on my bookshelf since 2005, the year when this first came out. This book was a gift to my sister from a lovely couple. My sister read this book back then and I kept meaning to read it but never got around to reading it. Finally, this year, I made myself pull it out from a storage trunk (where I store some of my old books) and vowed to read it. I put it on my TBR for February and I am glad I finally read this book. 

For the longest time I only saw/knew this author as a the wife of Jonathan Safran Foer- one of my favourite authors- whose books Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are some of the best books I've ever read. I highly recommend these two books and will go a post on them in the future!

What I Liked: The writing was as expected brilliant. It was very, very well-written. I enjoyed the style and the prose. The book's premise and the connected lives of it's two main characters was really interesting. I also really liked that the inter-connected lives didn't just have a simple connection. The ways in which Alma and Leo find each other and are influenced by each other is complex, unique and a little bit magical.

The way in which the author describes Leo's life was simply perfect. The loneliness, the heart-break and the sadness Leo feels really comes across in a real and genuine way. His anger, resentment and sorrow at the life that he has lived really touched my heart. He is an old, angry, sad man who is all alone in this world and spends his days wondering when his time will be up. I also loved Leo's love story and the horrible things he has to live through.

Alma, our 14 year old parallel lead was also a fascinating character. I adored Alma's family, her recluse and lost mother and her younger brother who believes he is the Messiah. Alma's life was full of odd things and people she needed to care for. I loved Alma's voice, her spunk and her determination to fix things. I also loved how Alma was trying to stay connected to her dead father by reading his books and trying to be outdoorsy like him.

What I Didn't Like: There was just too much going on. Apart from Leo and Alma and all the people in their lives- and there were a lot of side characters. The book also had a whole other story line about the man, Leo's friend, who stole the book from Leo and published it in his name. We also saw their story and got inside their heads. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing but there was just soooo much going on in the book. Half way through the book, I felt like there were too many people, too many voices and too many back stories to focus on.

And I hate to say it..but this book was slightly pretentious. It was trying tooooo hard to be different. To be meaningful and be quirky and edgy. The ending has an open ended sort of quality, where you the reader can decide how the story ends. I am in general not a fan of this style of endings.

Rating: 2.5/5

Friday, 21 February 2014

Friday Favourites: Part VII.

A mixed stack of bangles and cuff. All of these pretty things are from Rajasthan, Jaipur to be specific. I love these gorgeous cloth covered bangles, such an easy way to add colour to an ensemble. 

2 other favourites from Rajasthan, my lovely colourful mojris. Pretty as a picture and comfy as hell. Bought these from Jodhpur. 

My absolute favourite silver necklace. I love the flowers and it's simple beauty. This is from Fabindia from years ago. 

This is a seriously old outfit picture..from around Diwali (November) but I loved the prints and the bangles I randomly threw on. 

An amazing book and a great cup of tea- black Vanilla tea- a lovely evening this was, a great writer and a soothing cup of tea. 

Red leather love- I love the colours and the beautiful embroidery on this little bag. I bought it from the artisan who makes these. He was so proud of his work. And was so happy to hear me gush about his bags. 

Stripes and a super printy bag. 

These are some of my favourites. 

Happy Friday guys and have a lovely weekend! 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sister Reads | Review: In the Blood by Lisa Unger

Book: In the Blood

Author: Lisa Unger

Pages: 352

Time taken to Read: 4 hours

Plot Summary: Lana Granger, a senior in college, has a disturbed and violent childhood that she is desperate to put behind her and, which she keeps as a closely guarded secret. Lana's mother was violently killed and her father is serving time on the death row for that crime. Lana has some free time on her hands and so, her Student Adviser and Mentor- Langdon Lewes- suggests that she babysit a kid to get child psychology experience. That's what brings Lana to Luke Kahn- a highly intelligent eleven year old who displays all the signs of being a total sociopath.
Luke knows the secret that Lana has been hiding from the world and he enlists Lana to play a sinister game through which this closely held secret may just get exposed for the whole world to know.

What I Liked: The basic premise of the book is very gripping. There is a girl with secrets and a sociopath kid who is keen to manipulate her and reveal those secrets- very interesting. I don't know about you, but I find sociopaths fascinating- in a very I-don't-want-to-meet-one-but-I-do-enjoy-reading-about-them way. Parallel to Lana's story, we also get to see glimpses of the life of a new mother who is struggling with a very difficult son. Who this woman is and who her son is are not revealed up until the very end. So, these two stories are quite interesting and keeps you guessing.
Apart from these two mysteries, so to speak, there is also the question of Lana's best friend- Beck- who has gone missing. Lana was the last person to see her, right after the two had a fight in the library. As Luke's game threatens to reveal Lana's secret, Lana's life further unravels as she is a 'person of interest' in Beck's disappearance.
The characters are well-etched for a mystery book and it is easy to link who they are with what they do, which is great when you try to guess who the 'bad guy/s' is/are.

What I Didn't Like: The main mysteries of the book were very guessable. Now, I don't know if it was just me- I read and watch a LOT of crime fiction/shows- or if this was true for everyone else. A quick peek at Good Reads tells me that this was not the case for most reviewers and that they were surprised by the 'twist' in the end. So, that's good then! :)
Also, there were a couple of elements that were way too convenient. I can't mention them here because they are spoilers but the odds of those things happening to the same person/family is just ridiculously astronomical! I am being a bit nit-picky because the author does do a good job of explaining everything really well, but still...

Would You Like It?: Yes. If you enjoy fast-paced mystery books that are well written and keep you guessing, then this is a book that you will enjoy.

Rating: 3.5/5 

Book Haul: Books of February 2014. Part 1

February has been a good book buying month for me. Also, for me, February is a guilt-free book buying month because it is my birthday month! Yay for birthday book hauls! :)

Here are the books that I ordered off of

I have been meaning to buy a copy of The Cold Comfort Farm for ages, but I held out because I wanted this particular cover! Sometimes, it helps to be choosy about things like that! I mean, come on, just look at these crazy cute illustrations! :) Aren't they adorable?! So super cute! 

Even the inside flap has pretty illustrations! Love! 

Here's more loveliness! 

Even the back cover is so cute! Okay, so, this is a very pretty cover. 

I love Alexander McCall Smith and so, show me anything by him and I will read it. Like the title suggests, this is a trilogy. So, yay! Three books to read! 

How cute are these illustrations?! I love the little wiener dog! 

Capriconia is the book on which the movie 'Australia' was based- you know, the one in which Hugh Jackman played, what he said, "An Australian starring in a film called Australia about Australia"! Well, that was a good movie and I think the book will be even better. 

O Henry's Gift of the Magi is one of those iconic short stories about love and selflessness which we all have read. This graphic novel version of the story is equally great and, plus, pictures! What is not to love.. See below :) 

See, so cute. 

As I gushed on Instagram, the BBC Books' edition of Sherlock's adventures each have Benedict Cumberbatch on the cover and a foreword written by the actors or the producers of the hit show- Sherlock. So, obviously, I had to get it. 

Look at how amazing this is! 

This book was for Rs. 99 and so, I thought why not try a new author! :) Sometimes, one needs weird incentives to try new authors. 

Since we really loved Lucinda Riley's 'A Midnight Rose', we thought we should get the other highly acclaimed book by her. 

And here they all are in a pile. A nice little re-cap, if you will. 

I will be back with another haul very soon. A big Birthday Haul is also in the offing! 

Have you been buying books lately? If yes, please share your recommendations and favourites below! :)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Review: Waiting To Be Heard, A Memoir by Amanda Knox.

Book: Waiting to be Heard

Author: Amanda Knox

Pages: 489

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: In the fall of 2007, twenty-year old college coed Amanda Knox left Seattle to study abroad in Perugia, Italy for one year. But that November 1, her life was shattered when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in their apartment. Five days later, Amanda was taken into custody and charged by the Italian police; her arrest and the subsequent investigation ignited an international media firestorm. Overnight, this ordinary young American student became the subject of intense scrutiny, forced to endure a barrage of innuendo and speculation. Two years later, after an extremely controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011 an appeals court overturned her conviction and vacated the charges. Free at last, she immediately returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.

General Thoughts: Like thousands of people around the globe, I was deeply interested in the Amanda Knox case. I remember when in 2007 this case first made the headlines, I read about it in the papers and was shocked to think that Amanda Knox had allegedly killed her British roommate in a brutal manner. At the time, I had just moved cities, and for the first time in my life living with strangers. I had two roommates and reading about this case and talking about it's gruesome details just became something we discussed around the flat. Thankfully, none of my roommates nor me met with such a sticky end! 

But this case was interesting for so many reason, a brutal murder. A strange murder suspect- Amanda did a lot of frankly weird things when she was brought in for questioning- accusations of Satanic rituals, a sex game gone awry! 

Over the years, as the trial started and eventually as the verdict was given, I kept up with the case. When I heard there was memoir out I wanted to read Amanda's side of the story. 

Review: The book was decently written and covered not only the murder and the trial but a little of Amanda's life before moving to Italy. We got to see her life in the US and Italy before the whole mess. It helped me to think of her as a person- a young girl excited to be studying abroad- and not just an accused murderess. The book does a very good job of taking you inside Amanda's head through the whole event- from the discovery of Meredith's body to Amanda's imprisonment and trial. You can feel her sense of helplessness as well as her fear at being questioned and tried in a language that is not native to her as well as of the accusations against her. 

The other thing which this book, and a related Diane Sawyer interview that I saw on YouTube, reminded me of was a book called 'Dangerous Girls' by Abigail Haas. Just like in 'Dangerous Girls', even in Amanda's case the prosecution and the media culled out selective information about her from social media and made her sound more menacing than she is/was. For instance, a big deal was made about her nickname being 'Foxy Knoxy', which supposedly implied her wayward sexual ways. No one mentioned that this was a name given to her by her Middle School soccer team and had nothing whatsoever to do with sexual prowess or preferences! The same Myspace page from where this tidbit was picked up also mentions that she loves Harry Potter. So, how is it fair to take one bit of information about her and leave out the other, which does not further the agenda of painting this sinister and horrible picture of Amanda. This in itself, this persecution by media, is something we all should be concerned about. 

I also felt absolutely sad about everything Amanda's family went through and had to sacrifice in order to help with her defense. A middle class family had to re-mortgage their homes in order to be able to be in Italy and pay Amanda's legal fees, something which is so frightening to just think about. If this is not a middle class family's version of absolute hell, I don't know what is! 

There are parts of the book, which are just slow and repetitive. The parts about the trials and the lack of evidence were very dry. Also, this book is sort of a campaign to make Amanda seem very quirky and awkward and spaced out, while, in fact, to me, she comes across as borderline naive and stupid. For instance, in what world is sitting on your boyfriend's lap in a police station, when you have been brought in for questioning merely hours after a murder, a good idea? Would anyone with any sense display such behaviour? Similarly, is making faces at each other, in full public view, supposedly to calm down their rising panic (of which there was no other evidence) the best thing to do under the circumstances? One can argue till the cows come home about appropriate and inappropriate responses to grief and shock etc., but some of this behaviour is just plain odd. Also, call it a horrible stereotype, but aren't all Americans more predisposed to asking for a lawyer when faced with police interrogation? Amanda didn't ask for her embassy reps or for a lawyer, which to me is just sad and extremely naive! 

The truth of the night of November 1, 2007 is not for me to speculate about. However, this book and even several other articles about this case, do highlight the startling lack of any real evidence that connects Amanda to the murder. I only hope that truth and justice prevails. 

Rating: 3/5  

Romance Reads: Review for How To Love by Katie Cotugno.

Book: How To Love

Author: Katie Cotugno

Pages: 389

How Long it Took Me to Read: 3 day ..but I stopeed midway and read another book!

Plot Summary: Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind. 

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

What I Liked: I liked the writing. It was sufficiently well-written and enjoyable to read. I also really liked the characters, both Sawyer and Serena or Reena as she is called throughout the book, are well-written and it felt like I really got to know them in course of the book. They were real and messy and we were given a lot of information and insight into their lives and I felt like I  knew a whole lot about them as the books went on. Apart from our lead characters, the side characters, both sets of parents, Reena's brother and her friends as well as a few of Sawyer's bandmates were decent characters. 

I also liked this was a set of Hispanic families, a nice change from just reading about all-white stories. 

The book is told in a Before-After format which makes for an interesting story telling format. 

I also liked the premise of the book, a relationship that goes through a trying thing like an unplanned pregnancy, abandonment and tries to pick up the pieces. 

I also liked how the said unplanned/unwanted teenage pregnancy was handled in the book. Reena's father is clearly unhappy with the way Reena's life is turning out and his relationship with his daughter in the aftermath of this is strained and awkward. This awkwardness is shown brilliantly in the book. 

What I didn't Like: Well....

I was bored precisely at 57% into this book. In fact, I put this book down and picked up a true-crime book instead. I was pretty freaking bored and thought about not even finishing this book! 

My biggest grouse with the book was Sawyer! Reena LOVES Sawyer, since they were kids. Their families co-own a restaurant and she has seen Sawyer her whole life and loved him silently from the wings! I just didn't get why? Why love this guy so much? He is cute. Very cute. Plays in a band....but that just seems about it. Pretty shallow, superficial stuff really. Even once they get together he isn't particularly charming, nice or sweet. I really just don't get his appeal! Especially after he disappears for 2 years and doesn't even keep in touch, Reena still thinks of him as the bees knees. Also he keeps calling Reena Princess...UGH! 

The disappearance of Sawyer was also dealt with an unnatural air of calmness. He wasn't a minor or anything but he still had a loving, well-to-do family and they were just meh..about him going AWOL for 2 years without any news! 

Halfway through the book I just really couldn't care if Sawyer won Reena over again, I just really didn't care where this story went. 

General Thoughts: This was an overall disappointing read and I just thought it would be a better story but I was so bored halfway in that I pretty much sped-read the last half. 

Rating: 2/5 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Romance Reads | Review: Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry.

Book: Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

Pages: 392

How Long it Took Me to Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.
General Thoughts and Review: I read this book nearly a year ago. I kept meaning to review it but kept forgetting. I really loved this book! A romance is not usually my go-to-read but I had heard really good things about this book and picked it up on my birthday last year whilst book shop hopping! From the cover and the blurb on the back of the book, it seems like any other happy little YA romance. But this book is so much more than that! 
I loved the writing in this book. The story, premise and the pace. The book switches between Echo and Noah's perspectives. We get to see both their lives and their struggles. A nice romance read, it isn't all fluffy and light. These characters have some serious struggles in their lives and are going through some pretty serious things. They also gradually and slowly fall in love, unlike so many other YA books where BAM! love just happens in a second. I loved how these two characters are helping each other out while sorting through their own battles. 
Noah is such a great guy! His bits in the book were really great. His foster care friends are very sweet. Noah's love for his two little brothers is really heart-warming and everything he does to make sure he is a part of their lives and that they don't forget who their parents were is just so inspiring and is just too much for a teen to deal with. 
Echo is an interesting character as well. We go through the whole book with Echo trying to figure out what happened to her. Echo's friends- the popular clique in their high school- were trying very hard to get her to go back to her pre-accident/incident self. So, it was not some mean girls' re-hash where everyone was giving her a hard time. 
Essentially, this is a romance book with a heart. This is about two broken young people trying to get back on track and have a "normal' life. 
If you are in the mood for a fun yet moving love story, then definitely pick up this book. Highly recommend it. 
Rating: 5/5 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

E-Book Haul: Part II.

 I have been adding to my eBooks collection and thought I'd share another eBook Haul with you guys. Most of these books are for my Kindle. Some books are so much cheaper in e-format, while others are only a 20 buck difference, in which case I prefer getting the paper and ink version.

Most of these books are thrillers/YA/Romance or as I like to think of as fun read. Books I'll read once and then might not re-read, so it makes sense to get them on an e-reader.

A girl who lies about her past meets a young kid who sounds like a nightmare. He knows her secret and hold that over her head. Then the girl's friend goes missing and all hell breaks loose. 
I think I've read a Lisa Unger book previously, from the library I think and I really enjoyed her writing. I picked up this book after I saw it mentioned on someone's bookhaul. It sounds amazing, I read the first 30 odd pages and really enjoyed it. The writing is good and I hope the mystery is good! 

A re-telling of Beauty and The Beast that sounds kinda cool. There have been very many fairy tale re-tellings that have come out in  the recent past, so far I've stayed away from them. But I was curious about this one and I think Beauty and The Beast is a fascinating story and I want to see how the story is re-told. 

This book has amazing reviews and rating on GoodReads. The plot is a little controversial. It's about incest, between brother and sister...yes..kinda sketchy! But such a complicated story...premise..idea...might be a good read. I read the first few pages and the writing seems really nice. 

I am currently reading this book and I like it. It's about first love, a teenage pregnancy and falling in love again. The writing is nice, the characters are well etched out and likable. 

This is a fairly new release, I first up LOVE the cover! It looks like a sweater!!!! So cool! 
This is a story of a small town with a population of 600+ people and a murder occurs in this community and the victims friend decided to solve the crime. Sounds good and I can't wait to read this! 

I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book. It's really acclaimed and I can't wait to read it. It's also been made into a movie. 

Let me know if you've read any of these books! 
Happy Reading! 

Romance Reads | The Friday Harbour Series by Lisa Kleypas

Hello Hello!
Since we're inching closer to Valentine's Day (or Galantine's Day, if you are celebrating with your girl friends), we thought we'd share some of our favourite romance reads.

The first in the series are these four books by Lisa Kleypas, which form a part of her Friday Harbour series. These are:
1. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbour: Here is the plot summary. It sums up what the book is about pretty well.

One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.
The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.
Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.
Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbour is a sweet book about finding love when you least expect it and about interesting characters, who you grow to love through the book. Mark and his brothers are very endearing. It made me very happy that the other books in the series are about his brothers finding love!

2. Rainshadow Road: This book tells the story of Mark's brother Sam. More than the other books, this book has a hint of magic and the like. Here is the plot summary

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy's bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. 

Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy's parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to "romance" Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.

3. Dream Lake: This was my favourite book in the series! Alex Nolan is the perfect angished hero and Zoe is just so sweet and she is a chef! Plus, there is a ghost and another sweet love story in this book, which was a nice surprise. 
Here is the plot summary:
They say that opposites attract. But what happens when one has been devastated by betrayal and the other is so jaded that his heart is made of stone? Enter the world of Friday Harbor, an enchanting town in the Pacific Northwest where things are not quite as they seem and where true love might just have a ghost of a chance….

Alex Nolan is as bitter and cynical as they come. One of the three Nolan brothers who call Friday harbor home, he's nothing like Sam or Mark. They actually believe in love; they think the risk of pain is worth the chance of happiness. But Alex battles his demons with the help of a whiskey bottle, and he lives in his own private hell. And then a ghost shows up. Only Alex can see him, Has Alex finally crossed over the threshold to insanity?

Zoë Hoffman is as gentle and romantic as they come. When she meets the startling gorgeous Alex Nolan, all her instincts tell her to run. Even Alex tells her to run. But something in him calls to Zoë, and she forces him to take a look at his life with a clear eye and to open his mind to the possibility that love isn’t for the foolish.

The ghost has been existing in the half-light of this world for decades. He doesn’t know who he is, or why he is stuck in the Nolans’ Victorian house. All he knows is that he loved a girl once. And Alex and Zoë hold the key to unlocking a mystery that keeps him trapped here.

Zoë and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark, and sometimes love can reach beyond time, space, and reason to take hold of hearts that yearn for it.

4. Crystal Cove: This was my least favourite book of the series, perhaps because it didn't have the Nolan family in it. But, having said that, this is quite a sweet book.
Here is the plot summary:
As the proprietor of a successful boutique hotel, Justine Hoffman has the life she has always wanted. But there is still something missing: Love. A spell was cast on Justine when she was born, with the result that she will never find her soul mate. But she is nothing if not determined and eventually Justine finds a way to break the enchantment—never dreaming of the dangerous complications that will follow. 

If you are in the mood for some fast-paced, sweet romance books, then these are good picks.

Hope you'll enjoy these books and we'll be back soon with another set of romance recommendations!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West.

Book: The Distance Between Us

Author: Kasie West

Pages: 224

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 hours.

Plot Summary: Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

General Thoughts and Review: I  don't read a lot of romances. It's not even a conscious choice, I just find myself reading other genres and staying away from romances. But once in a while, a sweet little romance is just what the heart needs. Happy, light and fluffy is just what I was in the mood for when I picked this book up. 

A classic rich boy-poor girl story but with a lot of heart and a whole lot of awwwww moments. I enjoyed this book immensely. I liked our two lead characters, I especially liked Xander. Caymen was sweet and I liked her even though at times she was a little too whiny and suspicious of Xander's motives. I also liked her friends and their equation. Her mother was a bit batty and I wish she wouldn't pass on her paranoia and prejudices to her daughter. 

This was a sweet, fast paced read and kept me smiling. There is also a little bit of a twist in the end which was nice too. And I really like the dates Caymen and Xander went on, really sweet stuff! 

I recommend this book if you are in the mood for a light and happy read. Perfect for Valentine's Day if you ask me! 

Rating: 4/5