Thursday, 31 July 2014

Review: Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke

Book: Swimming at Night

Author: Lucy Clarke

Pages: 384

I Read It On: My iPad

I Read it in:  5 hours

Plot Summary: People go traveling for two reasons: because they are searching for something, or they are running from something. 

Katie’s world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia jumped—that her death was a suicide. 

Although they’d hardly spoken to each other since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves her orderly, sheltered life in London behind and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries in Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death. 

What I Liked: Quick bullet points here:
  • Loved the premise of the story- a sister dies mysteriously in a foreign country, where she was not supposed to be and her older sister decides to go looking for her. There was an element of mystery and of retracing someone's steps, which immediately appealed to me. 
  • I loved Mia's character- her feeling lost, out-of-place in her family and, sometimes, in the world, her impulsiveness, her unexpressed love for her sister.. She is a wonderful character, who is fairly enigmatic for most of the book and you start to understand what drives her and what she is running from only gradually. 
  • Katie is a contrast to Mia in every way- she is the sensible one. She is the one who makes the 'right' choices, she stays in control of her emotions and impulses and has never done anything remotely wild or out of character. So, it was a huge change for her to leave her simple and structured life behind and follow in Mia's footsteps, hoping to understand the events during Mia's journey that could have led to her taking her own life. Katie's journey is interesting at multiple levels and her growth as a character was interesting to watch. 
  • The writing is beautiful and very evocative- you can picture the beautiful Hawaiian beaches and the wilderness of Western Australia and even the wild beauty of Bali. 
  • Supporting characters were also well crafted and well used. There was an overall economy of words and situations and sub-plots and the book didn't meaninglessly meander- always a good thing! 
What I Didn't Like: The ending felt a bit rushed. Mia's death's mystery was, almost, too conveniently and magically resolved. It seemed like the author didn't want to add anything more to Katie's adventures and wanted to wrap up the book very quickly. 

Rating: 4/5 (Recommend it if you enjoy well written mystery books) 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer.

Book: The Shock of The Fall

Author: Nathan Filer

Pages: 310

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.

There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.

There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.

The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.

The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. 

General Thoughts: This book always caught my eye in bookstores and I've picked it up and put it down numerous times. Till I finally bought it a few months ago. I am always interested in reading books about mental illness. It's an area of interest of mine, since I studied it in college and graduate school. It always intrigues me to read a first person account of what it feels to slowly loose a grip on your mind, from what I've read and studied and on occasion observed and helped treat, it seems to be the scariest thing to loose your mind. Though this is only a fictional account of a young man's failing mental health, it was real and genuine and captured the essence of grappling with mental illness. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was spot on. The book is told in the first person, journal style, memoir writing style and it reads wonderfully apt as the writing of a 19 year old boy. 

2. The back story of Matthew's childhood, his brother Simon especially were simply wonderful to read about. The family dynamic was messed-up but it made for some very interesting reading, crappy family stories always are always good to read about. 

3. Matthew himself was a good person to get to know, to read about his life, his thoughts and his descend into mental illness was both heart-breaking and scary. I really liked him and wished him well. 

4. The book was full of little illustrations and I like books with details like this. 

5. Matthew's mother was a very intriguing character, lost, sad, scared and even cruel and clingy and flawed. The way she reacts after the death of Simon was peculiar and it made me mad to see her treat Matthew so coldly. 

6. The thing I loved best about this book was reading about how it's like to be the 'normal'/'ordinary' child in a family with another child with special needs. The benign neglect. The not being the focus of your parent's attention. Having to be older than your years...stuff like this is my jam. I love reading about these subtle feelings of hurt and the long-lasting effects of this sort of unintentional parental slights. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

I really loved this book, most of it, parts of it were very slow. Too slow and the pace slowed down quite a bit and I was a bit bored. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami | All-time Favourite Book

Book: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami

Pages: 296

I Read: The paperback copy pictured above

I Read It In: 6 hours (This was a re-read for me and I was savouring every line!)

Plot Summary: Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before.  Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable.  As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age,Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.

Everything I LOVE about Norwegian Wood: 
Let's get this out of the way, Norwegian Wood is one of my all-time favourite books from one of my absolutely favourite authors. I first read this book in 2004 (wow! Has it been ten years already?!) and this was the first time I went back and re-read it. I remember that rainy evening in Bangalore when I first laid eyes on this book. A flatmate had picked this up on a whim and was not particularly enjoying it. I picked it up, read the blurb and decided to give it a whirl. It was a rainy Saturday and I didn't have much going on. By the time I was fifty pages in, I was in love- with the book and with Mr. Murakami. 

So, let's get into what I love about this book and why you simply MUST read it! 
  • The writing. Oh the writing! Murakami writes in Japanese and his works are translated into English and this alone makes me want to learn Japanese, just so I can read his original writing. The writing is so, so, so, brilliant. And evocative. And lyrical. And just bloody good! 
  • Toru Watanabe- the protagonist. It is through Toru's eyes that the events in the book unfold and he is our narrator of events. Toru is just so well etched. He is sensitive, really sees people for who they are, is nice, a little lost and disillusioned and has seen more confusing tragedy than anyone should at that age. The book is his journey, his story of emerging from situations he can't control to really embracing whatever happiness he can find. 
  • Naoko- doomed, sad, fragile Naoko. Your heart breaks for her and the way this book is written imbues you with the same sense of helplessness that Toru feels when it comes to dealing with her and her pain. Naoko's valiant attempts at trying to 'fix' herself and trying to be better for Toru are just so heartbreaking. 
  • Midori- she is the contrast, of sorts, to Toru and Naoko. While Toru and Noako are all about internalising their pain and grief, Midori is a survivor. She has seen her share of tragedy but she is all spunk and spirit and she labours on and grabs at whatever happiness that she finds. She is what Toru needs and he knows that... and therein lies one of the most beautiful love stories you will read. 
  • Reiko- wise, broken but resilient. She is the voice of experience and wisdom that, one hopes, finally, saves Toru from himself.
  • All the music references.. from the obvious hat-tip to The Beatles to Bach, de Bussy etc.. this book is also about a whole lot of music. 
I could go on and on and on, but I hope you get the idea- this is an amazing book. At one level, it is a coming of age story.. at another level it is about the fragility of the human experience and our helplessness at often helping those in our lives who need it the most.. it is also about saving yourself as much as saving someone else.. and above all, it is about finding happiness in one way or another in, an often, bleak-bleak world. This book is glorious

Rating: 5/5 

Highly, highly recommend! 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Book Haul: Books of July 2014.

I was so good in the month of July, I only bought these 7 books! Seven. 7. I have never been this good about my book buying. Never. Ever! 

It feels good to be a little controlled now and again. 

I love all the books I've acquired this month. 

The Woman in White- Wilkie Collins 
The Portrait of a Lady- Henry James 
Middlemarch- George Eliot 
Suite Scarlett- Maureen Johnson 
Tuck Everlasting- Natalie Babitt 
The Teller of Tales- Bhaskar Ghose 
Aerogrammes- Tania James 

Three glorious Penguin English Library books. A children's classic. A YA novel and a short-story collection. 

A mixed bag of goodies! 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Review: Sorta Like A Rockstar by Matthew Quick.

Book: Sorta Like A Rockstar

Author: Matthew Quick

Pages: 355

Read On: My Kindle

How Long It Took Me To Read: 3 hours or so with frequent breaks for laughing and crying.

Plot Summary: Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism—and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope.

General Thoughts: I got this book randomly because this sounded really good. The plot sounded interesting and I have heard only great things Matthew Quick's writing, I also have Silver lining's Playbook but haven't read it yet. But after having read this I am very curious to read the book as well. 

I am so glad I read this was perfect. Brilliant. Fantastic. 

Get ready for a rave review! 

Things I LOVED: 

1. The writing was fantastic. Really good,  engaging and the first person narrative seemed real and believable and true. 

2. The characters in this book, every single character in this book was just pure gold. Kind, loving, generous and heart-warming. I am a little sick of reading books about damaged, real, tortured people. Yes, sometimes there are unlikable people in the world but I am really sick of constantly reading about broken, damaged and flawed people. There are good people in the world and goodness. Why can't we have more books about good people? The people in this book were just gems. 

3. Amber especially was just wonderful. Hopeful, so full of love and hope, she is one of the most hopeful characters I've read in a long time. I loved her and cheered for her and wished her well. Even in the most miserable place in her life, she holds on hope. 

4. There was something so inspiring about this book. It made me want to be better and do better. 

5. Reading this book made me happy, so incredibly happy. I didn't want to read another book for a while, I wanted to stay in this world. 

6. There was a dog in this it needed another awesome thing! But a dog in a book is always a good thing be. 

Rating: 5/5 

This is such an amazing world. The end had me crying many, many happy tears. It really touched my heart. This is a wonderful read and I cannot recommend it enough. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Book: Hopeless

Author: Colleen Hoover

Pages: 430

I Read: On my iPad

I Read it in: 5 hours

Plot Summary: Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

What I Liked: Colleen Hoover is an excellent New Adult writer. Scratch that. She is a wonderful writer of relationships and wounded people. I read and loved 'Maybe Someday' by her and was so excited to pick up this book. Here is what I liked:
  • I loved the characters in this book- Sky and Holder. Sky is sassy and fun; she is also sweet and interesting. Holder (as Dean likes to go by) is really sweet and intense. They both grow and face their demons and are stronger people for it. 

  • The storyline is great- it starts off as a love story and then tackles some very difficult and painful issues for both characters. The range in the story is incredible and it makes for an interesting read. 

  • The other characters- Sky's friend- Six, her mom, her mom's boyfriend, her new friend in school (I forget his name now)- were all lovely and well-written. 

  • The grittier bits in the book (parts from Sky's past- don't want to reveal too much here) are also well-written and make you cringe and feel immense amounts of anger (as it is supposed to). 

  • The romantic bits in the book are also very well-written; highly recommend checking out Colleen Hoover if you are a fan of love stories. 
What I Didn't Like: Nothing much, really. There was one major character that was very conveniently done away with (Argh! Don't want to spoil anything!). That was a bit of a cop-out, but it was not someone anyone cared for too much and that person deserved more than the stick end that they got! 

Rating: 4/5 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday Favourites

Our garden is full of colourful summer flowers. The humble, and often under-appreciated, bougainvillea are one of my favourites! 

I am a sucker for any kind of stationery! I love pretty iPad covers, phone cases, notebooks, planners and whathaveyous! The iPad case (bottom most) is from Forever New and is rose gold and blush coloured. The day planner (in the middle) is also from Forever New in a similar colour scheme. I added some gold polka dots to my Moleskine for fun! 

A glass of 'cutting chai' (commonly available street vendor tea) is just the perfect cure for super-rainy and overcast days. 

I have been writing a lot this year, which is such an achievement for me! I am inconsistent, at best, when it comes to documenting events or even writing down my thoughts. I have been loving my Moleskine and my Midori Traveler's Notebook. 

Finally, my favourite tasseled necklace. Brightens up any outfit and is so fun! 

Have a lovely weekend, people! :) 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review: Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan

Book: Finding Claire Fletcher

Author: Lisa Regan

Pages: 430

I Read: The Kindle Edition

I Read it in: 4 hours (in one sitting)

Plot Summary: Newly divorced and with his career in jeopardy, Detective Connor Parks takes solace in the arms of a beautiful woman he meets at a bar. The next morning, Claire Fletcher is gone, leaving nothing behind but an address and a decade-old mystery.
 The address leads to the Fletcher family home where Claire's siblings inform Connor that their fifteen-year-old sister was abducted from a city street ten years ago and is presumed dead. 
During those ten years, Claire endured the cruel torture and depravity of the man who abducted her. Paralyzed by fear and too ashamed to return to her family, Claire is resigned to her life as Lynn, the identity her abductor forced upon her. 
Every time she attempts escape or betrays him in the smallest way, someone dies. Even now, her clandestine run-in with Connor Parks may have put his life at risk, as well as the lives of her family. 
Connor is convinced that not only is Claire Fletcher alive, but that she is also the woman he met at the bar. Driven to see her again, he begins his own investigation, off the clock and without the police department's consent. He is determined to find her and unravel the mystery of her abduction and odd reemergence. But finding Claire Fletcher proves more dangerous than he anticipates. In fact, it may be deadly.

What I Liked: In bullets: 

  • I loved the premise of the book. There are so many tragic cases where young girls were abducted and kept imprisoned for years- Jaycee Duggard and Elizabeth Smart come to mind. {Read our review of their memoirs HERE.} It is unimaginable what they go through- the sadistic torture, rape, the cold fear that if they call attention to themselves or make a run for it, something awful will be done to their loved ones... and of course, the crippling shame. Somehow these girls blame themselves- for either getting in their abductor's path or for not trying hard enough to escape. It is just awful all around. So, when I read the summary of this book, I was tempted to read it.
  • The book provides a very sensitive account of what it is like to be held against your will and how even the most strong-willed person is slowly and systematically 'broken' by their abductors. 
  • I liked Claire's character- her strength, determination, will to survive and making multiple attempts to break free inspite of what her abductor does to dissuade her. 
  • Other characters that were well written are that of Connor- his methods of re-investigating an old case, finding clues and re-interpreting the existing ones were all very well done. 
  • I also liked Claire's family-hired PI (I forget his name now) and her mom. Their relentless belief in her being alive and well is what kept them going for years. 
  • *SPOILER* 
  • I also liked Claire's recovery process once she finds her way back home. How it was difficult for her to open up, the questions her sister had for her, the challenges she faced in "reintegrating" into her old-new life. 
  • The investigative process that led us to the true identity of the abductor was also interesting. It didn't feel too convenient or forced. 
What I Didn't Like: Nothing much, really. The ending was slightly dramatic, but one can forgive that. 

Rating: 4.5/5- this is a good, fast-paced thriller; highly recommend it. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Book: Love Letters to the Dead

Author: Ava Dellaira

Pages: 327 

I Read it on: My iPad

I Read it in: 6 hours

Plot Summary: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. 
Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. 
She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. 
Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

What I Liked: Let's bullet-point this, shall we? 

  • I loved reading the letters per se. Each of the letters written to a dead person had a bit of that person's life and the circumstances of their death. While I knew about most of them- their lives, their work and their death- I enjoyed reading about the ones I didn't know much about. So, I learnt something new. Always a good thing when it comes to a book. 
  • I liked how the story was set up. Laurel is about to start High School and she has just lost the person she was closest to in her dysfunctional family. The angst and the pangs of missing her sister and the assignment of writing letters to the dead flowed seamlessly. It did not seem like a force fit at all. 
  • I liked Laurel's friends- Hannah, Natalie, Kristen and Tristan- they all had well-etched personas and all had their little and big battles to fight. 
  • I also liked Laurel's love story. It was sweet and poignant, but mostly sweet. 
  • I liked how the various issues faced by multiple characters in the book were resolved. 
What I Didn't Like: 
  • Laurel got a bit whiny sometimes, but she can be forgiven for that; she was going through a rather rough spot in her life. 
  • I wish there were more people that the letters were written to. There were far too many letters written to River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain. I would have liked some variety.
Would You Like It?: Yes. If you enjoy YA and well-written books, then you will enjoy this. It is slightly melancholic but eventually uplifting. 

Rating: 4/5 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tag: Reading Habit Book Tag!!!

I am feeling super-bored (yes, this is a legitimate feeling!) and felt like doing a fun tag post. I simply Googled Book-Tag and found a list of questions that make-up the Reading Habit Tag. I am a avid reader and I have a few reading habits...let's see what they are!

1. Do you have a certain place at home to read? 

Yes, I read on my sofa. Or on a big comfy chair in my living room. I also loveeeee reading in bed.

Sofa- full of cushions, a good place to read! 

My bed, also full of cushions..also a great place to read. 

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper. 

Bookmark, as a general rule. I always have a bookmark or two lying about being super handy. But if I don't find a bookmark..which is rare, I don't mind using Post-Its or a pretty piece of paper, but it is very, very rare that I don't find a bookmark. 

Bookmarks! The ones above are ones we made ourselves and the one below is a bookmark I love! 

3. Can you stop reading at anytime you want or do you have to stop at particular page, chapter, part etc..? 

Hmm...I can't stop reading mid-sentence. So if the phone rings or the doorbell chimes, I take a second to finish the sentence and then get up. But if I need to do something or go out, I prefer finishing a chapter and then setting the book aside. I am slightly OCD about these things. Even when I put a book down for the night, I stop at a chapter end. 

4. Do you eat or drink while reading? 

I could do some coffee or tea. But I prefer not eating while reading. I am terrified of dropping something on the book or it's a pain to turn pages. Technically you could eat and read on the Kindle but I don't do that. I prefer watching Youtube videos on my iPad when I eat. 

Books, tea and journaling! 

5. Can you read while listening to music or watching TV? 

It really, REALLY depends on the book. Some books..YA, romance...basically lighter reads lend themselves well to music and even a TV show on in the background. But certain books..classics, wordy books or books with intricate plots are best read alone. I mostly read books on their own and like doing so without any distractions. But some nights, I like putting on some music and enjoying my books and music together! 

6. One book at a time or several at once? 

I am a one book at a time girl. I don't juggle books. Though, if two books are very different from each other it's possible to read both, like a short-story collection can be read with another book. But I prefer reading one at  a time. 

7. Reading at home or everywhere? 

Home. I also enjoy reading in coffee shops, in the car (I don't drive) and on flights. 

Here is me reading at Starbucks on my Kindle. On this particular afternoon, I finished one book and started another. 

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head. 

Silently in my head. Who reads out loud?? 

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages? 

Yes to both if it's a bad book or I am not enjoying it enough. I also speed-read through portions if I am not really feeling it. Also, I skip certain bits if I am re-reading, for instance, I skip most of the Quidditch bits in the Potter books. 

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it new? 

Whatever makes reading a book easy. I am OK with breaking the spine of a book, I'd much rather have a easy reading experience than leave my book looking new. Also I like the read/loved/used look of my books. I don't need them to remain virgins! 

11. Do you write in your books? 

No, only the ones I studied in college have writing in them. I sometimes highlight certain bits but I never write in my books. I've never felt the need to. 

If you love reading or have a book-blog consider yourself tagged! 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega.

Book: The Merciless

 Author: Danielle Vega

Pages: 278

Read On: My Kindle

How Long It Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary: Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
General Thoughts: I wanted to read this book because it was being described as a mix between Mean Girls (one of my all-time favourite movies) and The Craft (a 90s golden film, if you haven't seen it you've simply got to!). Now, having read the book, I can say the Mean Girls part is true enough, there are some elements especially in the beginning of the book that were fairly Mean Girl-esque. But The Craft was sorely missing, perhaps the groups of girls in this book and their dynamics were slightly like the girls in The Craft, but other than that there wasn't any witchy-ness in this book.

Also, the fact that this was a horror novel really drew me in.

Things I Liked: 

1. This book is freaking hardcore. The torture scenes will turn your stomach. It was intense. So if you are sensitive to descriptions of violence, this might not be a book for you. But  I liked that this book didn't shy away from actual violence. The exorcism was intense, creepy and really graphic.

2. I really liked Brooklyn, she was sassy, fierce and tough.

3. The action in book was past-paced and the 278 pages moved quickly. I wasn't bored for a minute.

4. I loved the truths that came out from the three mean girls during the night of the exorcism. The half-truths, lies and hidden secrets that these girls kept from each other was interesting.

5. The twist in the end was really good and I didn't see it coming.

Things  I Didn't Like: 

1. Even at the end of the novel, I felt like I barely knew Sofia. I didn't get to know her at all and I didn't really like her.

2. For a horror novel I wasn't scared for a second. It was gruesome but not scary.

3. This is now going to be a book-series, I didn't know that and I don't quite care about it. This really doesn't need to be a series in my really could have been one book.

4. The last 20 pages were so rushed.

Rating: 2.5/5

This isn't a bad book but it didn't live up to my expectations.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Romance Reads///Review: On The Island by Tracey Garvis- Graves.

Book: On The Island

Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves

Pages: 347

Read On: My iPad

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 hours (I read it in one sitting!)

Plot Summary: When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments -- instead of his friends. 

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

General Thoughts: I've been in a mood for romance books really in the mood to read something light, happy and fluffy! This was one of the many books I've recently read from the genre. i meant to read only a few pages and see if I liked the writing but I was totally sucked in. I couldn't put the book down and read it all in one sitting. 

What I Liked: 

1. The writing was rather nice. Easy, simple and very engrossing. 

2. Even though the premise sounds incredibly skeevy- what with the woman being 3o and the guy only 16 when they first get stranded on the island, their romance and the physical aspects of their relationship are handled well and in a total non-creepy way. 

3. I liked both the characters, the book flips from one perspective to another and I enjoyed both their voices equally. 

4. The life on the island was simply brilliantly done. This bit of the book was the best part in my opinion, it was insanely gripping- their day-to-day struggles was engaging. This entire portion moved fast and I found myself rooting for the two of them. 

5. The struggles on the island and their ways to deal with it was very realistic and how I'd imagine most people would act in a similar situation. 

6. The pace of the book, the way in which the four years moved was great too. 

7. The second half of the book, the part where they come back home is also just as good..nearly as good as the first. I liked reading about Anna and TJ re-adjusting to regular life after life on the island. 

What I Didn't Like:

1. The book switched between TJ and Anna's perspectives, but you really couldn't tell a difference between their voices. For a woman of 30 and a teenager, they sounded way too similar. 

2. The second half was not as great as life on the island. 

Rating: 4/5 

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and recommend it if you are looking for a fun and sweet read. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.

Book: How I Life Now

Author: Meg Rosoff

Pages: 224

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days.

Read On: Paperback

Plot Summary: “Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.
General Thoughts: This is a dystopian novel. I am very over all things dystopian. So very over. But this book is different, it's a literary fiction more than your run-off-the-mill YA dystopian- now nothing wrong with that genre but I am personally a little over it.

I have wanted to read this book for a long, long time and I really want to watch the movie.

This book was a tricky one for me. I struggled with this book, I really struggled with it. By page 87 I was *this* close to leaving it unread. The writing style was the main reason for this. It was a bit off and took a hella lot to get used to. The punctuation was unique and it was a stream of consciousness sort of thing which was jarring at times because it was jumpy and choppy. This book, at page 87, gave me a dull headache. I was not enjoying this book in the very least.

Then I went to bed, turned away from my phone and iPad and just read with concentration. And things changed. I got used to the writing style and begin to enjoy this book.

What I Liked: 

1. I liked that for a short book there was lots going on- war, falling in love, taboo love, incest, finding family, coming of age, survival and a couple of other things as well. It was amazing how the writer managed to do all of this in such a short novel.

2. I liked the cousins bonding and making friends and trying to take care of themselves. It felt real and natural how they went from total strangers to being close.

3. I loved how Daisy's character-growth. I liked how she went from a fairly whiny and selfish girl to a girl who goes above and beyond to take care of her cousins, especially a her youngest cousin, with whom she spends most of her time during the war.

4. The war itself was shown very well. The chaos, the not knowing every bit of information and the feeling of being so lost and out of control was depicted well.

5. This book to me seemed more like a book of survival more than anything else. And it was a great book that showed surviving very well.

What I Didn't Like: 

1. The writing style...any book that gave me a headache in under 100 pages has got to be a deal breaker. Even though the writing and I got on better as the book progressed, I still was not the biggest fan of the writing.

2. Even though I appreciated how much was put into this book, it was a bit much. Like one book had waaayyyyyyy going on and too many issues cramped into it. Anorexia, incest, war- seriously bit much.

3. The way in which Daisy cures her own anorexia was a bit simplistic and not very realistic.

4. The book jumped from war to post-war too fast and the ending seemed a bit rushed.

5. I would have liked to read more about Daisy's life during the war in America. That entire portion was just briefly mention and done away with.

6. There were also certain supernatural elements..meaning some of the cousins had 'special abilities', this was just too weird and not needed in the book at all.

Rating: 3/5 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Favourites: Bangles, Wallet, Bag!

1. Pink Punch by Rimmel London. A perfect happy pink nail-paint to contrast the grey skies in Bombay at the moment. 

2. An armful of cloth-covered bangles. These babies add a dash of colour to any outfit. 

3. A total favourite bag of mine, small but it surprisingly fits a whole lot. Handmade and embroidered and lovely. The colours look especially bright and alive against the black. 

4. A tiny flower print shirt and a strawberry pendant. Things that pair well and make me happy. 

5. The newest addition to my wallet collection. I love the pretty colour and the birds all over it. So freaking cute. 

The wallet is from India Circus. 

Book Haul: Super-Sale Books.

I had nearly forgotten I had this bunch of books to haul. I bought all of these books during Flipkart's Clearance Sale. I got each of these books for 75% off! I couldn't say no to such a good deal. 

Most of these books I chanced upon the sale and they sounded interesting and I bought them. The House of Lost Souls though I've wanted for years..OK 2 yrs but it was always too expensive to buy but I got it for only Rs. 110 during the sale!!! Yay! 

Also the Granta was such a steal. Love it! 

Blood Rose- Margie Orford 
Britain Granta 
The House of Lost Souls- F.G. Cottam 
The Alchemist's Daughter- Katherine McMahon
Footsteps-  "
The Return of Captain John Emmett- Elizabeth Speller

Books for cheaper just make my day! :) 

Happy Reading guys :) 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Read and Loved: Part- III.

Matilda by Roald Dahl- A girl who loves to read...isn't Matilda adorable? I had seen the movie ages ago and loved it. But I had never read the book. The only Roald Dahl I have read before are his wonderful short-stories for adults, fantastic twist-in-the-tale stories. I've also read Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and loved it. 

I loved the message in this book- that the family you are born in may not always be conducive to growth and love. The people that are your family may not be the best people to raise and love you and you can make your own family and find your own people out in the world. 

This was a fun, quick, easy and heart-warming read and I can't wait to read more of Roald Dahl's children's book. 

Rating: 5/5 

Ten Things I Love About You-  Julia Quinn.
I love Julia Quinn's Regency Romance books. If you haven't read any of her books you just have to! If you enjoy sweet stories, funny moments, dreamy men and interesting women and steamy romances, these are the books for you! 

This book was a lovely. About a girl from an poor family and the eldest of several siblings, her family depends on her to make a suitable match to help her siblings. But being penniless her options are rather limited. When a lecherous old rich man sets his eyes on her, he is deemed the perfect man to marry her and rescue her family. But she soon meets the old man's nephew and her heart and head are at war! 

Fun, I read this pretty much in one sitting. 

Rating: 4/5. 

The Artist of Disappearing- Anita Desai 

I cannot believe I hadn't read any Desai before this! Stupid me! This book was wonderful. Three short novellas written impeccably well. I just have to read more and have two other books lined up to read next month. 

The first novella, tells the story of a young man a government official, on his first posting in a small village. His loneliness, his isolation and his complete disconnect with his situation was done so well. Loved it. 

The second novella is about a middle-aged woman, a professor profoundly unhappy in her life and her thwarted dreams. She then sets about translating an Oriya novel and finds for the first time some satisfaction and happiness and thinks her life is changing. I loved how Desai gets inside the head of her characters and depicts their deepest fears and desires so well. 

The third novella was my least favourite. But it was still rather nice. 

Rating: 4/5 

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

A story about two seemingly unrelated crimes, people's perceptions, complicated families and a misplaced sense of entitlement. This is one of my favourite Miss Marple books! Apart from the brilliantly crafted plot and the usual sharp insight that Agatha Christie has into human nature, this book also features the very fun Dolly Bantry! 

Rating: 5/5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I re-read this magical book and loved it all over again! Need I even say more?! :) 

Rating: 5/5