Thursday, 30 October 2014

Halloween Reads: The House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam

Book: The House of Lost Souls

Author: F.G. Cottam

Pages: 343

I Read: The paperback copy pictured above

I Read It In: 7 hours (across two days)

Plot Summary: Just weeks after four students cross the threshold of the derelict Fischer House, one of them has committed suicide and three are descending into madness.

To save his sister, one of the three, ex-soldier Nick Mason must join ranks with Paul Seaton- who visited the house a decade earlier and survived. But Paul is a troubled man, haunted by visions of an ordeal that even now threaten his own sanity.

Desperate, Nick forces Paul to go back into the past, to the secret journal of beautiful photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare, to a decadent gathering in the 1920s and to Klaus Fischer- master of the debauched proceedings and an unspeakable crime.

What I Liked: Quick bullet points:

  • The premise of the story was very interesting. Paul's mysterious encounter at the Fischer House, why his life was the way it was now, unravelling the mystery behind Pandora's life and death.. lots of things going on. 
  • Paul was an interesting character to read about.. how he was as a earnest cub reporter in the 1980s to the man he had become in 1995 (which is present day in the book) was an interesting journey. 
  • Pandora's life in the 1920s, her experiences at the Fischer House and the events that occur a decade later are all very interesting. In fact, the book starts to get interesting and starts making sense when Paul is showing reading Pandora's journal. 

What I Didn't Like: Quick list, again:

  • The book take a while to build up. The first 100 odd pages were slow and the main plot of the book was totally unclear. I was almost about to give up and put the book away when it got interesting. 
  • It was not very clear about the exact nature of the 'evil' that lurked in the Fischer House.. it seemed like a cross between the Devil and some form of dark magic.. it could have been explained better. 
  • Nick Mason was an interesting character but not enough time was devoted to his back story or even how he managed to vanquish the demon... the latter, especially, was very lame! 
  • There were some investigative bits in the book, which were quite nice. I wish that was more of the tone the author had taken in the book rather than the 'nameless' horror pursuing all characters! 

Rating: 3.5/5
This is a good book, but it needs patience! It is not 'scary' as much as 'thrilling'. 

Halloween Reads: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

Book: Sharp Objects

Author: Gillian Flynn

Pages: 349

Read On: Paperback

How Long It Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben's innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother's? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day... especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

General Thoughts: I read this book some two-three years ago, around the time Gone Girl came out and there was all this insane buzz about the author. I couldn't get my hands on Gone Girl at the time and read this instead. Gone Girl is reviewed HERE if you are interested. 

This is my favourite Gillian Flynn book out of all her three. And I mean favourite in not the strictest sense. I am not a fan of Ms. Flynn at all. But I liked this book. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The premise of this book really drew me in. One always reads about families massacred by their own family member in newspapers and on the TV. Sometimes there are survivors and I often wonder how they move on? Can they move? After something so horrible happens to you, is it possible to make a new life for yourself? I was very curious to read about Libby Day and her life. 

2. The book switches from present day to the days leading up to the Day family massacre, this was a good way to tell the story. 

3. Apart from seeing the Day family struggling to make ends meet in the past, we also see Ben and his life. It was nice seeing the world of our alleged killer. 

4. Libby Day was a piece of work. Messed up, greedy, lazy and way too happy being the victim. She was utterly unlikable. But I guess if you go through something so traumatic and lose your whole family in one go, you might not grow up to be sweetheart! 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Flynn only writes unlikable characters. Not one person in this book is likable. Like really, if all of them got hit by a truck I couldn't care less. I wasn't cheering for or rooting for anyone in this book. 

2. The end of this book, the big reveal was a bit...a bit unrealistic. Like really far fetched. 

3. The reason for Ben taking the fall was so silly. Why would a 17 year old boy take the fall for murdering pretty much his entire family? Get labelled a matter what the reason! 

4. Libby clearly remembered a whole lot more and some evidence that would have cleared Ben from the get go, why did she lie at trial? I get that she was a child at the time but she clearly hid a lot. 

Rating: 3/5 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Halloween Reads: Lamplight- Paranormal Stories from The Hinterland by Kankana Basu.

Book: Lamplight

Author: Kankana Basu

Pages: 200

Read On: Paperback

How Long It Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary: The year is 1934. The picturesque town of Monghyr, in Bihar, lies devastated after a massive earthquake. The mansion of the Chattopadhyays an old aristocratic family continues to stand upright though a wall is cracking right down the middle. The members of the big joint family find their lives suddenly touched by the eerie and inexplicable. The ancient house has always had its share of creaks and quirks, but now strange incidents suddenly start occurring.

General Thoughts: I read this book back in May. I saved up the review for Halloween. I randomly came across this book while browsing on Flipkart and something, well a lot of things about it drew me to it and I decided to give it a shot. 

I read this book when I was battling the flu and I needed to read something that would cheer me up and for me nothing cheers me up like a good ghost story. 

Things I Liked: 

1. A Bengali joint family, ghost stories, set through the decades 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s and 70s. All these things seperately always draw me to a book. Put them all together and I will most certainly pick the book up. 

2. The writing was great too. I am so glad I took a chance on this book. 

3. The stories are all from the same family but I was very pleasantly surprised that they didn't all come from the same time in this family's life. The stories were from different characters in the same family but across generations and across time-periods. So while the first story is set in 1934 and in the house, the last story I believe is the grand-daughter of the house and set in Mahabaleshwar. 

4. Some stories are typical ghost stories, scary and creepy while some are about kind ghosts that help a family member in a way. I found this sweet and interesting, not all ghosts are vicious and unkind. Some people do have non-threatening encounters with ghosts and it was nice to read about it. 

5. Like I already said, some of the stories are set in this old ancestral house, while others are in different cities altogether. I really enjoyed this. 

6. The scares in this book were hardcore. The author didn't shy away from showing death and even showing really bad things happening to people. Like really bad things! 

7. There was also a wide variety of ghosts, from dead family members, to nasty neighbors and to even ghosts from a long, long time ago! A variety of ghosts are always a good thing be! 

8. This book just made me happy. A well-told, a well-written ghost story is always a good thing be! 

Rating: 4.5/5 

I really recommend this book! 

Review: The Romantics by Pankaj Mishra

Book: The Romantics

Author: Pankaj Mishra

Pages: 286

Read On: Paperback

How Long It Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: The young Brahman Samar has come to the holy city of Benares to complete his education and take a civil service exam. But in this city redolent of timeworn customs, where pilgrims bathe in the sacred Ganges and breathe in smoke from burning ghats along the shore, Samar is offered entirely different perspectives on his country from the people he encounters. More than illustrating the clash of cultures, Mishra presents the universal truth that our desire for the other is our most painful joy.

General Thoughts: I've wanted to read this book for very long, I had heard and read many great things about this book and it is set in Benares and I wanted to read it for ages. I am glad I got to it finally. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was really lovely. It get a good job taking the reader with Samar to his travels in India and a great job inside his head. 

2. The setting of his book, in Benares was a huge draw for me personally. A part of my family, my mother's father and his family come from Benares and I have heard so much about the city from my mum, that I really want to visit it. I loved the descriptions of the city, it's lanes, it's people and it's general atmosphere. 

3. The people Samar meets, both Indian and the western are all very interesting. And even the ones we meet briefly, we get to know well enough. The author does a great job at giving us an idea of who each person is and what drives them. 

4. I liked Samar a lot, he is in many ways a typical young boy who is trying to find his way in the world. The people he meets, the places he visits and the many, many books he reads are all helping him become the person he wants to be. He is shy, quiet, unsure of how he thinks and feels about things. All of this endears him to the reader and makes him seem real. 

5. The travels in this book, the places Samar visits are all places on my list of places to go- Benares, Pondicherry and Dharmashala, I loved reading about it. 

6. The relationship of Catherine, an affluent French woman and her impoverished Indian musician boyfriend made for an interesting read.  The difference of language, class and education between the two and the weird dynamics of their relationship was all very interesting. 

7. I also loved Miss. West, Samar's English neighbour. Her life and her love-life were sad and heart-breaking but made for interesting read. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I really liked this book, it made me want to travel and go see all the places mentioned in the book. I loved the subtle sense of melancholy in the book. However, this is not a book for everyone. Plot wise a lot doesn't happen in the book. It's not an action or plot driven book. So if you like books where lots happen and all story-lines are neatly wrapped up in the end, this might not be the book for you. 

2. I also didn't quite get Samar's angst for a large part. 

3. I also didn't like Rajesh and didn't really see the point of him being in the book. I get that he was meant to be the opposite of all of Samar's Western friends, but on the whole I don't really get his point. 

Rating: 4/5 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Scary Review: Horns by Joe Hill.

Book: Horns

Author: Joe Hill

Read On: iPad

Pages: 368

How Long It Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: 
Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge. . . . It's time the devil had his due. 

General Thoughts: I read this book back in January and really enjoyed it, I saved this review up in time for Halloween. 

Things I Liked: 

1. I really enjoyed this book over all, the writing and the premise of this book. 

2. I also enjoyed being inside Ig's head, his thoughts, his confusion and him dealing with his peculiar little problem. I empathized with him and liked his forays into his past and him thinking about his relationship with Merin. I really liked Ig and was rooting for him. 

3. The best part of this book for me was the bit where people just spoke of their deepest, darkest thoughts in front of Ig. People he loved, his family and just normal people saying horrible, horrible things. It was fun...well...really interesting to hear what people really think. 

4. The small-town setting was really good too. The bad parts of being in a small-town, where everyone knows everyone else's business and judges you and has set opinions. This claustrophobia of living in a small town was shown very well. 

5. The book got to be a lot of fun when Ig realizes that he can get people to do what he wants and I laughed through those parts. 

6. The suspense was good too. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

While this book was peculiar, strange and creepy in parts, it wasn't scary. It didn't scare me at all. And considering I went in looking to get scared, I didn't find what I needed. 

Also this book has a whole lot of theology which isn't my favourite thing to read about. 

Rating: 3/5 

I am very curious to check out the film adaptation of this movie and reading other books by Joe Hill. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Review: Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance) by Gyles Brandreth

Book: Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders (also known as Oscar Wilde and a Death of no Importance)

Author: Gyles Brandreth

Pages: 368

I Read: The paperback pictured above

I Read it in: 4 hours

Plot Summary: A young artist's model has been murdered, and legendary wit Oscar Wilde enlists his friends Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Sherard to help him investigate. But when they arrive at the scene of the crime they find no sign of the gruesome killing -- save one small spatter of blood, high on the wall. 

Set in London, Paris, Oxford, and Edinburgh at the height of Queen Victoria's reign, here is a gripping eyewitness account of Wilde's secret involvement in the curious case of Billy Wood, a young man whose brutal murder served as the inspiration for "The Picture of Dorian Gray." 

Told by Wilde's contemporary -- poet Robert Sherard -- this novel provides a fascinating and evocative portrait of the great playwright and his own "consulting detective," Sherlock Holmes creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. 

What I Liked: I went in to this book with no major expectations and was pleasantly surprised to find a rather well-crafted whodunit! Here is what I liked:

  • I really enjoyed getting a glimpse- fictitious though it was- into the life of Oscar Wilde. The man's witticisms are the stuff of legend and his tragic death has always bothered me.. so, getting to read a bit about his life and having his persona brought to life was rather nice. Though, I must add that in this story, Oscar Wilde's crime solving "deductions" are very, very inspired by Sherlock Holmes! So, you'll have to accept that with a grain of salt. 
  • The crime itself was quite macabre and interesting- there was a hint at it being a ritualistic killing and then the mysterious disappearance of the body and all the other murder paraphernalia was quite intriguing. I fully expected this to be a series of killings (in the same ritualistic manner) but it wasn't so, which was a good thing. 
  • The writing was very nice. It was polished and the narrative flowed smoothly. Also, there was nothing superfluous in the book. Robert Sherard's narrator voice was nice to read. He was an entertaining character to read about. 
  • How could I not mention Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?! I loved that he was present in key parts of the book. It was most amusing to see Wilde and Sherard fanboying over the first two Holmes books! :) 
  • The actual crime, the investigative process, the breadcrumbs dropped by the author, which helped me make a pretty accurate guess about the killer- all nicely done. The killer was not too obvious and I liked that each character was sufficiently well crafted and you felt that you got to know them at more than just a superficial level. 

What I Didn't Like: Nothing much, except that I had assumed from the blurb that Wilde and Conan Doyle solve these murders together! I really wanted to see more of Conan Doyle in the book! 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Really recommend this book! I can't wait to read the other books in this series! 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Review: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey {The Fifth Wave #2)

Book: The Infinite Sea

Author: Rick Yancey

Pages: 480

I Read it on: My Kindle

I Read it in: 3 hours

Plot Summary: How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

What I Liked: As mentioned in the title, The Infinite Sea is the second book in The Fifth Wave trilogy. If you have not read The Fifth Wave, CLICK HERE to read our review of it. Now, The Fifth Wave was a pretty decent YA dystopian book with engaging characters and an interesting premise, so, even though I am fairly sick of the whole 'series' business- unless JK Rowling writes more Potter books or JRR Tolkien resurrects himself to write more Hobbit/ LOTR books- I decided to give this book a shot. 
Here is what I liked: 
  • Unlike most second books in trilogies, stuff actually happens in this book! Hallelujah! The story actually moves forward and new plot twists, new characters and a huge reveal are introduced in this book. Well done, Mr. Yancey! 
  • We get to learn about the backstories of a few supporting characters like Ringer and Poundcake, who we met in the first book but didn't get to know at a deeper level. 
  • Now some may find this annoying, but I liked the fact that the narrative moved ahead through the perspectives of multiple characters- it was not just Cassie and Evan (like it was in the first book) but there were chapters from Ringer's and Poundcake's perspective as well. 
  • The big reveal about the 'Others' (the alien race that has taken over and killed more than seven billion humans) was quite, quite interesting. I did not see this coming... and *SPOILER ALERT* this makes the series not very similar to The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Exciting. 
  • We also get to learn more about Evan's past, which is most interesting. 

What I Didn't Like: Okay, so, I liked Ringer as a character but I did not want to know that much about her. The biggest track in the book was centered around Ringer- her past, stuff that happens to her in the present etc. I was not that into her, so after a while, her bits got slightly boring for me. I would have wanted to see more Cassie and Evan interactions in this book.. their interactions and their 'love story' was a big reason why the first book was so good. I hope there is more of them in the third book. 

Rating: 4/5 
This is a good YA dystopian series- good premise, interesting characters and a pretty fast-paced narrative- if you are interested in this genre. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Happy Diwali! Love and Light!

From our home and hearts to yours.. Happy Diwali! 

May your life be full of love, light and laughs!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Review: The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine.

Book: The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

Author: Barbara Vine

Pages: 438

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: Writing as Barbara Vine, Britain's preeminent mystery novelist Ruth Rendell crafts literary suspense of the highest order. With this richly textured and utterly absorbing page-tumer, Vine adds to her growing reputation as one of the great writers of our time.
Bestselling and critically acclaimed novelist Gerald Candless dies suddenly, and leaves behind a wife and two doting daughters. To sort through her grief, his daughter Sarah puts aside her university studies and agrees to write a biography of her famous father. But as she begins her research and pulls back the veil of his past, her life is slowly torn apart: a terrible logic begins to unfold that explains her mother's remoteness, her father's need to continually reinvent himself -- and sheds shocking light on a long-forgotten London murder. 

General Thoughts: I've read only one other Ruth Rendell book before this one and I wasn't massively impressed by it. It was not the best psychological thriller I had ever read. But this book sounded really nice and I am a huge fan about dysfunctional families and the like, so I had to give it a whirl. 

Truth be told I have had this book on my bookshelf for over two years and the only reason I picked it up now was because the blurb on the back of the book claimed this was a suspenseful psychological thriller. was not. But read on for more thoughts. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was really good. The book flowed smoothly and the writing was polished and lovely. 

2. The plot and the subject matter was pretty amazing. A devoted father who turns out to be a different person altogether. I love family stories and mysteries surrounding family members. 

3. The book did a great job of taking us right inside this family and it's rather screwed up dynamics. 

4. The characters were fantastically written and very memorable, this is even more remarkable because there are quite a few characters in this book. Big or small, each character is crafted very well. 

5. I really liked Ursula's characters, her life, her strange married life and her life as an ignored mother was both sad, heart-breaking and incredibly interesting to read. I was equal parts rooting for her and frustrated by her almost passive acceptance of her life situation. 

6. The little investigation into the past of Gerald Candless was also interesting and it lead from one point to another really well and in the course of this investigation we meet some very nice characters and told their stories too. 

7. The sisters, meaning the beloved daughters of Gerald Candless- Sarah and Hope, were some of the worst people I've read in some time. Spoilt, entitled, snobs and so horrible to their mothers. It was hard to believe at times that these were full-grown women and not teenagers! 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I was really enjoying this book and then around the half-way mark I wished it would hurry on a bit. 

2. As much as I liked Ursula, I did wonder why she stayed in a marriage, a family where is wasn't wanted at all? Why not leave? Why would she, or anyone put up with such type of abuse? 

3. Sarah and Hope were just horrible and such insufferable snobs, but the worst thing about them was their attitude towards their mother. They are plain unkind and indifferent to their mother and it made me so mad! 

4. The worst person in this book was without a doubt Gerald Candless. He was a jerk. An abusive dick. The way in which he pretty much ensnares his wife and treats her during the course of his marriage and writes about her in his fiction was deplorable. 

5. A lot of answers are given when the mystery is solved and we find out who Gerald Candless was, I still felt it didn't serve as an excuse for his behaviour. Nothing is an excuse for being abusive and cold to your spouse. NOTHING. It slightly bothers me that, we, as readers, are perhaps meant to feel sorry for poor old Gerald for being gay *SLIGHT SPOILER* in a time where is wasn't acceptable to be gay. That just can't be an excuse for being a jerk. 

6. The big reveal, the very reason why Gerald gave up his former life and changed his very life was a bit..underwhelming. I didn't really think it was a reason to abandon a family he loved so much. Especially, later, he could have gone back at any time but chose not to. 

7. One of the bigger elements of the mystery were incredible easy to guess. Even if this was your first ever mystery book you'd guess it. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

I really enjoyed this book, but I did have some problems with it. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan {2014 Man Booker Winner}

Book: The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Author: Richard Flanagan

Pages: 467

I Read it on: My Kindle

I Read it in: 9 hours (across two days)

Plot Summary: Richard Flanagan's story — of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho's travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

Review and Thoughts: Let's get this out of the way- The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a BRILLIANT book! It deserves the Man Booker and more! I loved, loved, loved it! It moved me, it angered me and it made me think. Can't ask for more from any book. Quick bullet points on what I loved, loved, loved about this book:

1. The writing is just lovely. It is beautiful, evocative and has this poetic grace to it. The 467 odd pages just breeze past because the writing is so good. 

2. This was a hard book to read because so much of it takes places in the Prisoner of War camp (POW camp) on the Burma Death Railway. There were several occasions when I had to stop and just breathe because what I read was so damn horrifying. I also cried. A lot... but I read on because we have to bear witness to what men our age or even younger than us went through. The inhuman living and working conditions, the cruelty that they had to face, their spirit, their determination to not give up hope even things were so, so bleak.. it was heart-breaking... I only have the deepest respect and admiration for all those Allied POWs who went through this hell and lived to tell the tale. If for no other reason, read this book to bear witness to their suffering and heroism. 

3. This is a book that makes you think... mostly, about how futile war is... and that there are no winners.. and that humanity loses. Also, humanity is lost when one man treats another worse than vermin. 

4. Dorrigo Evans is an interesting character. He seems very disconnected from his true self- not because of the war and his experiences but even before. It is almost like he is a spectator in his own life. I won't say I could relate to him.. but I understood him and his struggles. Like everyone else in the POW camp, the war changed Dorrigo... but he was also changed by his encounter with Amy- his uncle's wife. I wish there was more of the Amy-Dorry love story in the book.. 

5. I really liked Darky Gardiner.. I liked his optimism.. how he was grateful for the smallest of things that he had while at the POW camp.. how he never gave up hope.. he never let go.. he never stopped being him. He was such a wonderful, heart-breaking, quietly brave character to read about. 

6. I also liked the snippets of post-War life of both the POWs and the Japanese army men. It was interesting to read how no one really survives a war and that it damages you in some sense or the other. 

7. Apart from Dorrigo's voice we also get to see events from multiple other perspectives- that of other POWs, Japanese soldiers, Amy, Dorrigo's wife- Ella... It was interesting to read two perspectives on some events and situations. Some may find multiple voices annoying but I enjoy it. 

Rating: 5/5 
Highly, highly recommend this book. Read it! 

Friday, 17 October 2014

General Whimsy: Diwali 2014 Wishlist!

Diwali is right around the corner and it's time to splurge and treat yourself or someone you love. There are a few things I've had my heart set on and I thought I'd share some of these things with you. Things to love. Things to want and things to wish for.

Here goes...

1. Since I am a self-confessed bookworm of course the first thing on my wishlist are books. These gorgeous books to be precise. The Random House UK re-designs of the Jane Austen books are totally darling. And utterly beautiful. I might have already ordered Emma and it is on my way as I type! So excite!!! But all these covers and their art is simply lovely and gorgeous and would look great on any bookshelf.

2. Keeping with the books theme, here is a bx-set I have wanted for ages. The Puffins Classic Deluxe box-set. Beautiful covers, pretty art and classic children's stories. What's not to love?

3. The Marc Jacobs Lolita eye-shadow palette. Basic neutral browns, some matte and some with a hint of shimmer and shine. So pretty. Perfect for everyday wear. I really, really want it!

4. I have heard only amazing things about the Tom Ford lipsticks. Diwali is the perfect time to splurge on a luxury/high-end lipstick. In my experience, they cost a pretty penny but you pay for the quality. I absolutely love love love my YSL lipsticks and Chanel lip-glosses.

5. Perfumes are a love of mine. Who doesn't like smelling divine? Chanel perfumes have always been my absolute faves. I am currently half-way done with a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and all done with Chanel Chance. So it is time to stock up on some new loves. I have my mind set on a bottle of Coco Mademoiselle, a perfume I have used years ago and it's time to re-buy.

6. Since I am still basically a child of course I want me some Hello Kitty shoes! Aren't they just the cutest darn things ever! Ever! Pink or in black these darling shoes from Vans have had me at hello. :)

7. Satchels are my undoing. My obsession. My great love and my big weakness. I just can't have enough. And if you are a satchel lover then you must have your heart set on The Cambridge Satchel Company goodies. I have crushed hard on them for years! I just love them. Their classic design. The clean lines. And all the old world charm. I WANT IT SO BAD!

8. Just look at these babies. Just look at them. Aren't they gorgeous!??? They are from Jaypore. I can't decide which one I love more. The blue one or the black one. Or both. Simply stunning. Simple but beautiful!

9. I have recently gotten a little obsessed with the idea of getting a brown leather backpack. When I say slightly obsessed I mean full-on mad. There is something so organic and retro about leather backpacks. Since I was a true blue child of the 90s, I did own a black leather backpack and to my utter horror a transparent one as well! I have looking online for the perfect backpack. I might have one from Fossil that I will get once it comes to stores in India. So excite!

10. Kikki K, a Swedish design firm headquartered in Australia, is one of my favourite stationery brands. EVER! They have the best planners and diaries and post-its and the like! It is all lovely! This Textured Pink Leather Planner is something I am obsessed with! It looks beautiful!

What are you wishing for this festive season? :)

Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.

Book: The Chosen One

Author: Carol Lynch Williams

Pages: 213

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 hours

Plot SummaryThirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.
But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.
General Thoughts: I am very curious about cults and religious sects and communities and how they live. Well, I am curious about how everyone lives. I am a nosy Nancy. Books are such a wonderful way to get to know how other people live and what their lives are like. 
I got this book a couple of months back because the premise sounded good. A couple of nights back, I couldn't sleep and was flipping through the book on my Kindle and started reading this book and was sucked in. 
Things I Liked: 
1. The writing was simple, direct and nice. 
2. This was a short little read, only 213 pages and they flew by, the pace of this book was fantastic, I just couldn't put it down. 
3. I loved Kyra's character and rooted for her and was worried about her and wanted her to get out of this horrid situation. 
4. The book did a wonderful job at portraying life in this community. Even though the book was from Kyra's perspective, it felt like we got to see this entire world. Their rules, their limitations and especially the life of the women in this world. 
5. This book makes a great point about the powers of books and reading and knowledge. Kyra wants more of life and she questions the rules because she reads books and know more about the outside world. 
6. I really liked Kyra's family, her parents, all her three mothers and her many siblings. It was nice to show that not all people in this community were bad. 
7. I was worried and anxious about Kyra and that made me flip pages and read this book in one sitting. The tension and nerves especially in the second half of the book was great. 
8. The romance element in this book was subtle and felt real. 
Things I Didn't Like: 
1. The ending was a bit abrupt and a lot of questions about the fate of several characters were not answered. I would have liked to know what happened to so many of the characters. 
Rating: 4/5 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Review: The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters.

Book: The Cure for Dreaming

Author: Cat Winters

Pages: 368

Read On: My iPad

How Long It Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. 

Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

General Thoughts: I read Cat Winters debut novel In The Shadow of Blackbirds last year. I heard it was a little like Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, with it's creepy pictures and what not. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book at the time of it's release and I was very curious to read it. It was set around the First World War and the Spanish Flu. It was interesting but I was expecting it to be very spooky and it wasn't. 

This book was little similar in that aspect. I thought it would be a scary/spooky read and it wasn't. 

This is not a horror novel. This is not a scary book, not at all. Don't go in expecting to be scared. 

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was good. Winters did a great job at creating the atmosphere of 1900, the era and it's beliefs and it's issues. The world comes alive. I felt like I was there. 

2. This was an interesting period of time to read about and one I have never really read about. The turn of the century and the life of women in this time period was interesting to read about. 

3. The pictures, real ones from the era, were a wonderful addition to the writing and did a great job at making the time period come alive. I love old pictures in general and these pictures of Suffragettes, fighting for the right to vote was lovely to see. 

4. This book makes such a strong and wonderful point about Women's Right and The Right to Vote and have voice, an opinion and contribute to the world they live in. 

5. I loved the characters in this book. There were so many well-written and memorable characters in this book. Olivia our main character is a strong young woman, with thoughts and dreams and ambitions, is a great character to read about and root for. Henry and his sister Genevieve, Olivia's friends Franny, Katie and even her maid Gerda were nice characters. 

6. This book was a great reminder of all the struggles and challenges women have gone through to get us, women today, where we are. We owe so much to the women who protested, got pelted with stones, heckles and belittled for the Right To Vote. I was reading this book when Elections were around the corner in my state so it was a very appropriate read for me. 

7. There are so many mentions of Dracula in this book that I really want to pick it up next. I love it when one book lead you to another. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Once hypnotized Olivia sees the world as it really is, she sees people that are bad like vampires and good people shine and so on. The people that appeared as pure evil, was very obvious. You knew exactly who would appear frightening to Olivia, there was no surprise here. 

2.   I felt that some of Olivia's father's reactions and his actions were a little too dramatic and over the top. 

3. The cure for dreams...literally means the hypnotist is meant to strip Olivia of her opinions and ambitions and her dreams for her future. It felt a bit a stretch, that hypnosis could cure someone of her inner wants and dreams. 

Rating: 3.5/5 

I enjoyed this book, I really did, I was a bit disappointed because I went in expecting a scary book and this wasn't a scary book by a longggggggggg shot. But I loved reading about the 1900s and Women's Issues of the day.