Saturday, 28 September 2019

Book Review: The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke


Book Review: The Two Lila Bennetts

Authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Pages: 307

Read on: Kindle

Read in: 3 hours

Plot Summary: Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.

In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.

Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. 

But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? 

Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.

Things I Liked:

1. This is very differently structured crime thriller and that is what made it interesting for me. I know, this book may not be for everyone. I enjoy the split time narrative. Like in the movie Sliding Doors. If your life split into two paths and you had the chance to go down both, what would happen in each? This is a question that has always fascinated me and this book uses this plot structure to delve into the life of our protagonist- Lila Bennett- a woman, who is not the nicest of people and has made many mistakes in her life. 

2. I liked both the paths taken by Lila's character. She realises pretty quickly in each that her sins have come home to roost. So, on the one hand, we see a kidnapped Lila trying to figure out who her captors could be, whilst trying to make amends for her mistakes and on the other hand, in the version where Lila is a free woman, we see how she gets disillusioned with the way her life is and how that leads her to make some changes in her life. 

3. The book also gives us a detailed look into Lila's backstory- the mistakes she has made, the callousness she has shown towards those who love her- which makes the redemption arc of the book interesting. 

4. There are several interesting characters in this book starting with Lila. She is a grey character- not very likeable but somehow the reader does root for her to save herself- body and soul. She is saved from being unlikeable by being self-aware. I also liked Chase- Lila's Assistant and friend, who is witty and fun- and Lila's mother, who is really supportive. Even her boss- Sam- is well written as an alpha, control-freak with a vindictive streak. 

5. This book is really fast-paced and interesting. A great read during a flight or a road trip. 

Things I Didn't Like:

1. I wish a little more time was spent on red herrings in this book. The authors had built up an alternative set of perpetrators, but it was pretty indirect and weak. The real perpetrators become obvious due to a simple process of elimination, which is pretty blah. 

Rating: 4/5 

Friday, 27 September 2019

Travel Diary: Snapshots from Kalimpong. {Friday Favourites.}


Hello! 

Long time no see! 

Since we last spoke and since I pretty much disappeared from this blog, I've been a little busy.
First with some manic packing. 
Then, travelling from Bombay to my parent's home in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal.
I've been here for a week now and in this week I've also managed to squeeze in a little holiday to Kalimpong! 
:) 

And it's been grand. 

Fog. 
Mists.
Rains. 
Hills.
Tall tress. 
Flowers. 
Winding roads. 

Ah! 
It's been the best. 


If you know me at all, you must know that  I am my 100% happiest in the hills. 
I am my best version. 
It makes me giddily happy. 



All this greenery is just good for me and my heart. 


Flowers, every where you look. 
I couldn't be happier. 
These pale pink beauties were aplenty in my hotel. 


THIS was the view from my hotel window. 
Can you even?! 
That's the river Teesta making her way down the hills. 
And these fluffy clouds were everything! 

More pictures and stories coming soon.
And regular bookish content as well. 

Friday, 13 September 2019

General Whimsy: 20 Things I Miss.


Here are some things I miss right now..

1. Sunshiny days. 

2. College Days. Jai Hind...God I miss everything about Jai Hind. The classes, the people, the fun, the foyer, the steps, the canteen, the professors, the laughs! 

3. Sea breeze. 

4. Sitting on Marine Drive. 

5. Sweaty walks on hot Bombay days. My hair pulled into a bun, a bottle of water and my bag cross bodied and out of the way. My hands free to take pictures and mop up the sweat. And that delicious relief of walking into an air conditioned space after being out all day. Or that breeze hitting you at the  right time. Ah! 

6. Personal blogs. Both writing one and reading some of the most honest and funny and heart felt documentations of life. Do people still have personal blogs?! You know the ones from mid 2000s and then on. I miss them. I wonder what happened to some of those people I read way back when. 

7. Raincoats from my childhood. 

8. A blue velvet frock with a lace peter pan collar I had when I was three. I also had a similar one in maroon but I don't miss it quite as much. 

9. Writing. 

10. Bangalore. Every little thing about it, but especially it's weather and food and places. And my little home. Indira Nagar. 
:( 



11. Swati Snacks, I haven't been there in a decade I think! Also Cafe Churchill which was such a college time staple. Cramped space but good food. We would wait outside patiently to land a table. 

12. Colaba Causeway. The shops, the noise, the junk jewellery, the bargains, the cafes and kolhapuri chappals. 

13. Sex and The City, the show..not the films, never the films. 

14. Libraries. 

15. Being stupidly and irrevocably enthusiastic. Trying new things. Cooking elaborate recipes. Baking, even when I didn't know enough. Trying new places. 

16. Those alphabet erasers from the 90s. I had collected quite a few of them and gosh they smelt so good. I also maybe miss those eraser and sharpener combos with a brush in the end. They almost always fell apart and the sharpener was a dud but they used to be so colourful and had that psychedelic sticker on them. 

17. Amul Chocolates, which for some godforsaken reason are so hard to find in stores or online for that matter. But the even sadder thing is they don't taste nearly as good as they used to. 

18. My iPod, which finally sorta died last year. It still works, but takes over 8 hours of charging to play music for under 2 hours. :( 



19. Singing in the shower, I don't know when I stopped. Was it when I lived with roommates? 

20. Buying books just because I liked the sound of it. Walking in to a bookstore and spending unhurried hours lost in the stacks of books and coming back with a few books that called out to me. No hype, no bookstagram, no Good Reads rating..no none of that. Just me and my instinct. The older, simpler and no fuss picking of reads. 


What do you miss? 


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Book Review: Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. by Richa S. Mukherjee



Book: Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd.

Author: Richa S. Mukherjee

Pages: 296

Read: Paperback edition (pictured above) that was kindly sent for review by HarperCollins

Read in: 3 hours

Plot Summary: Meet Mr Prachand Tripathi, private investigator and owner of Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd. Accustomed to tracking down missing pets and cheating lovers, he is about to have his world change completely when a new case requires him to tail actress Shailaja Kapoor. 

What seems like a simple request turns into a dramatic dive into her murky past, wading through which is not going to be easy. Or safe. 

Soon Prachand and his wife, and partner against crime, Vidya, fall under the glare of the police as Shailaja Kapoor is abducted right before their eyes. Now he must put his skills to the test before they become victims at the end of a dark and dangerous game.

Things I Liked: 

1. First of all, I am a big fan of India-based original detective stories! I truly believe that we have so much masala and colour in our lives here that Indian detectives will forever have interesting cases to solve and, must, I am sure, lead very interesting and colourful lives themselves! So, when HarperCollins sent out their list of monthly titles and asked me to pick one for review, Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. was an obvious choice because it ticked all the boxes! A husband and wife detective team from Kanpur, who are used to tracking down missing cats and dogs and tailing cheating spouses get into a case that's way above their pay grade! What is not to love?!

2. This is a really hilarious book! Prachand Tripathi and Vidya Tripathi live in a joint family in an old neighbourhood of Kanpur in a traditional kothi complete with an angan, a cow and a cantankerous amma ji (grandmother) ruling the roost from the charpai! So, you can only imagine what happens in such a traditional, Brahmin family when the elder son, after completing his Engineering degree, announces that he is opening his own Private Detective business! Just imagine! And, you're right- much hilarity ensues!

3. I really liked the colourful characters in Prachand's family- his mother, who has newly become addicted to WhatsApp, his younger brother, who is the lead singer in a Justin Beiber fan band, his quiet, but supportive Chachu, the cantankerous amma ji, Prachand's best friend- Yatin- each and every one of them are such wonderful characters!

4. There are many laugh out loud moments in this book! The funny and weird situations that Prachand and Vidya find themselves in as well as the shenanigans inside the Tripathi house are really funny!

5. This book is about a detective, who has strong observational powers (like Sherlock) but he is also a novice. He is just starting out and the Shailja Kapoor case is a huge leap out of his comfort zone in terms of the nature of the job as well as the type of clients he has dealt with thus far. I liked that the author has shown how out-of-their-depth Prachand and Vidya are and how they gradually find their sea legs and solve the case.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. I wish the investigation process was outlined a little bit more. A lot of things very conveniently fell into place and then suddenly the case got solved! I enjoy the process as much as the outcome and so, I felt I missed out on that.

Rating: 4/5 


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Book Review: Lying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen


Book: Lying Next to Me

Author: Gregg Olsen

Pages: 391

Read on: Kindle (via Kindle Unlimited)

Read in: 4-5 hours

Plot Summary: Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter are vacationing in Washington State’s Hood Canal for Memorial Day weekend. It’s the perfect getaway to unplug—and to calm an uneasy marriage. But on Adam’s first day out on the water, he sees Sophie abducted by a stranger. A hundred yards from shore, Adam can’t save her. And Sophie disappears.

In a nearby cabin is another couple, Kristen and Connor Moss. Unfortunately, beyond what they’ve heard in the news, they’re in the dark when it comes to Sophie’s disappearance. For Adam, at least there’s comfort in knowing that Mason County detective Lee Husemann is an old friend of his. She’ll do everything she can to help. She must.
But as Adam’s paranoia about his missing wife escalates, Lee puts together the pieces of a puzzle. The lives of the two couples are converging in unpredictable ways, and the picture is unsettling. Lee suspects that not everyone is telling the truth about what they know—or they have yet to reveal all the lies they’ve hidden from the strangers they married. 

Things I Liked:

1. The premise of this book was very interesting. A woman abducted in broad daylight on a busy weekend. Hints of all not being well in her marriage. Another couple with hints of trouble-in-paradise holidaying close by. All of this made for an interesting read. Also, dysfunctional marriages and relationships may suck in real life, but they make for good reading material! And boy! Did this book deliver on that! So much messed up stuff going on in the lives of our protagonists!

2. Interesting cast of characters. This book is told from four different perspectives- Adam (whose wife Sophie goes missing), Lee (the detective on the case, someone who has known Adam since childhood), Kristen Moss (a lawyer, who along with her husband were renting a cabin on the same stretch as Adam-Sophie) and Conner (Kristen's husband). Each of these characters is real, flawed and interesting. Some of them are outright nuts, some are cold, some are well-meaning... So, overall a nice mix of attributes to sink one's teeth into.

3. The book is fast-paced and quite gripping. The narrative moves quite effortlessly from present day events to events in the marriages of the two couples. The shift back and forth is quite seamless and with each glimpse into the past, you wonder more and more if, indeed, it was a stranger who abducted and killed Sophie or was it someone closer to home?!

4. The ending is very satisfying as well. Won't get more into this point, because, spoilers, but, I love a nicely rounded ending and this was one!

5. I really liked Lee and was rooting for her! She has overcome a very horrific personal tragedy and I liked how she trusted her instincts and followed the evidence in spite of everything that happens in this case.

6. I am an avid mystery/ crime/ thriller reader and so, the big twist-in-the-tale was apparent to me very early on in the book. However, I kept on reading because I was interesting in the 'how' and 'why' and not just the 'who' when it came to Sophie's abduction and murder. So, even if you do guess the big twist, it is still worth it to read on.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. Nothing really, just some minor nitpick-y things to do with how the case was investigated in the book. There were some glaring oversights that the cops made on the very first day and I don't know if some very obvious things like that would be missed! But, Lee did redeem herself in the end, which is why I say I am nitpicking :)

Rating: 4/5 


Monday, 9 September 2019

Book Review: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.




Book: The Family Upstairs

Author: Lisa Jewell

Pages: 464

Publishers:  Atria Books/ Simon and Schuster

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: Be careful who you let in. 

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am. 

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them. 

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone. 



Things I Liked: 

1. This is the third book of Lisa Jewell's that I have read and as always her writing, world building and pace is just brilliant. The book is perfect read for a weekend, but mind you, you won't want to put it down. This book was my constant companion over the weekend and I kept wanting to return to this story and its people and unravel this mystery. So good. A good thriller is just what this particularly rainy weekend needed and I loved the time I spent with this book.

2. The premise was this book had me from the word go, a family moves in and the lives of the hosts change forever. And of course, the suicide pact and a healthy and happy baby left behind. There is so much to unpack and dive into, there wasn't a dull moment in this book. I loved all the little mysteries and loved that the premise and plot were everything I had hoped it would be.

3. Stories about families are my favourite things to read about, across genres, give me a meaty family saga and I am in. Here we have that and then some. In essence we have two families. The Lambs and the Thomsons. Two very different families that come to cohabit and mesh together. Apart from these two families we have the new family formed as a result of cohabiting of these people. The dynamics and power struggles within these units made for very interesting reading.

4. The book is told from three perspectives. One is Libby, a 25 year old who inherits a huge house in a posh neighbourhood on her birthday from her birth family and is thrown into the deep end of a mystery from her childhood. We see Libby, formerly named Serenity Lamb, grappling with all this new information and trying to find out more about her birth family and going about it in a sensible way, in a way I'd guess most of us would if we found ourselves in her place. I liked Libby, a lot. She is such a sensible and good person and I found myself rooting for her. I also liked Miller, a journalist who is helping her with her investigation into the past.

Our second perspective is that of Lucy, a single mother of two, struggling to make ends meet and homeless and helpless when we first meet her. Your heart breaks for Lucy and her kids. She has not had an easy life and seeing her trying her hardest to make a life for herself and her kids will have to cheering her on. I really, really enjoyed spending time with Lucy and seeing her side of the story. Mostly rooted in the present.

Our third perspective is Henry Lamb. We see most of the past events from his eyes and we see his family change and mould to the will of David and all the nefarious ongoings and see his rage and even sheer helplessness of a 11 year old. I found his chapters very interesting because it was here that the whole past was laid bare. We saw the 'cult' come together and how this family went from perfectly normal/ordinary to something truly sad and dysfunctional. Henry was also an interesting character on his own, he was odd and not all black and white and, by the end of the book, I had some very mixed feelings about him and his actions and motivations. But interesting to the end.

5. The book has a slight cult angle. And I LOVE all things cults. From both a psychological and sociological angle, what makes people give their free will to a charismatic leader? How do these cults work? While the cult size is small, only 8-10 people but the hallmarks of a cult are all there. This was more like a commune with but some very strict and off putting rules. Disturbing and incredibly interesting. I also liked how soon even the extraordinary becomes normal. Rules that you'd think you'd never abide by become your life and before you know it your new normal is nothing like your older life. It might seem incredible but the capacity to adapt to the bizarre is astounding.

6. Normally, with books that have multiple perspectives and that go back and forth in time, I find myself invested more in one part over the other. But this book, I loved all three perspectives and all three voices and both the periods of time. Of course, the cult-ish activities of the 90s were amazing but I was just as invested in Lucy and Libby's lives. The three perspectives come together in the end brilliantly and we are given all the answers we were hoping for.

7. There are quite a few characters in this book and I felt like they were all well-crafted and nuanced and not perfect but perfectly human and flawed. Especially Henry, he is odd and a little bit off and his honesty as a narrator questionable but he is someone you will remember long after you've turned the last page. Also this rage and helplessness and confusion jump off the pages and I think all this was so well done.

8. This book is perfectly atmospheric, creepy and sinister. A perfect read for a rainy night. It's disturbing and unsettling and will keep you hooked. It is also oddly sad and heart breaking, how one decision and one action of inviting the wrong people into your life and home can change everything and honestly ruin lives.


Things I Didn't Like: 

For most part I loved this book. I really did and I highly recommend you pick it up.
But there were somethings that are a little bit off..slightly off.

Especially in the 90s portion of the book. Some of the characters motivations are not entirely believable or explained properly. This David guys just shows up and moves in and takes over, in every way possible and Henry and Lucy's dad just sits back and lets it happen, he is the guy with the money, the house and yet he is seemingly powerless, yes he has had a stroke but still...it just doesn't add up.

Also there are two teenage boys and one other adult who isn't exactly happy with life in this cult yet they don't do nearly enough or soon enough.

There are some other small plot-related issues, but those are all in the spoiler zone, so I'll stay away from it! :)


Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed this book, highly recommend.




Sunday, 8 September 2019

Stationery Sunday: My On-the-Go Planner and Supplies


Hello, hello! 
I hope you're having a lovely Sunday! 

We had a sort of lazy and quiet one. It rained a lot here in Mumbai and so, we just stayed in, reading. 

I thought I will share my on-the-go planner supplies along with a look at my planner of the moment. 





I am currently using this lovely Mustard A6 sized Traveler's Notebook from The Black Canvas, which houses my journal. I love how pretty the colour is and the leather is really soft. 


 


My go-to journaling supplies live in this pen sleeve from Lyra & Co. and it currently houses a Vintage Red-Black Sarasa, a Medium Lamy fountain pen, a Pilot Frixion pen in black ink, a yellow Mildliner and a pencil. All of these pens (apart from the Lamy) are from Cute Things from Japan. 




And, last but the least, a closer look at this cute as a button (pardon the pun!) button from Pranita Kocharekar.


Have a great week ahead, guys!

See you soon! 

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Weekend Reads: The Carpet Weaver + Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. + The Family Upstairs.

Hello! 

This is such a rainy weekend, it's made perfectly for staying in and reading. 
And that is exactly what I plan to do. 

So far my weekend has included, sleeping in. 
Lemon Rice for lunch. 
Coffee. 
&
Reading. 

This is what my sister and I are reading this weekend. 


I am reading two books actually, one a physical book and another on my Kindle, that I tend to pick up  before bedtime. So I can read easily and not be fussed about holding up a hardback book when I am sleepy. 

THE CARPET WEAVER BY NEMAT SADAT: I am very little into this book, like 40 odd pages. It's set in 1977 in Afghanistan. It's about a boy coming of age  and grappling with his queerness in a world where it's impossible for him to be his true self. Love. Shame. Family. Political changes and so much more make up this book. 
I am really enjoying it so far in. 

PLOT SUMMARY: Afghanistan, 1977. Kanishka Nurzada, the son of a leading carpet seller, falls in love with his friend Maihan, with whom he shares his first kiss at the age of sixteen. Their romance must be kept secret in a nation where the death penalty is meted out to those deemed to be kuni, a derogatory term for gay men. And when war comes to Afghanistan, it brings even greater challenges-and danger-for the two lovers.
From the cultural melting pot of Kabul to the horrors of an internment camp in Pakistan, Kanishka's arduous journey finally takes him to the USA in the desperate search for a place to call home-and the fervent hope of reuniting with his beloved Maihan. But destiny seems to have different plans in store for him.


THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS BY LISA JEWELL: I am also reading this very dark and eerie book at the moment. On my Kindle, I started last night, right before sleeping and I love it so far. It's spooky and told from multiple perspectives and I can't wait to crawl into bed and binge read it. 

PLOT SUMMARY: In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note. 
They’ve been dead for several days.
Who has been looking after the baby? 
And where did they go?
Two entangled families. 
A house with the darkest of secrets. 




KANPUR PHOFIYA PVT. LTD BY RICHA S MUKHERJEE: My sister is working this weekend, for most it. But she started reading Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd last night and has been really enjoying it. It's funny and the mystery is promising so far in, she is about 70 pages and really keen to read this tonight, once her work is done. 

PLOT SUMMARY: Meet Mr Prachand Tripathi, private investigator and owner of Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd. Accustomed to tracking down missing pets and cheating lovers, he is about to have his world change completely when a new case requires him to tail actress Shailaja Kapoor. What seems like a simple request turns into a dramatic dive into her murky past, wading through which is not going to be easy. Or safe. Soon Prachand and his wife, and partner against crime, Vidya, fall under the glare of the police as Shailaja Kapoor is abducted right before their eyes. Now he must put his skills to the test before they become victims at the end of a dark and dangerous game.

Thank-you to the publishers, Harper Collins for sending this book my way. I am so excited to read this book. It sounds like so much fun. 


I hope you are having a lovely weekend too and it's full of good books. 
:) 







Friday, 6 September 2019

Friday Favourites: Ganesh Chaturthi, Sunsets, Bags and Hobonichi Cover

It is another Friday! Yippity Yay Yay!
Here are some of our favourites from the past week!


This week's highlight was welcoming and celebrating Lord Ganesha or Ganapati or Ganpu :) We performed a small Puja at home and prayed for peace and well-being of our loved ones, the environment and the world- 'cause how can one not these days? 
We've been blessed with some glorious, autumnal lavender-pink sunsets this past week or so. I've been living for these sunsets! 

Look! 

Look! 




Our yellow bags from Chiaroscuro went on a little outing with us and look how cute they look! 
The tote is called the Lazy Bailey (because slouchy) and the sling is called Big Stella (because classy)! 

Last, but not least, this gorgeous Rifle Paper Co. fabric cover made by Lyra & Co. has been adorning my Hobonichi and I love it so much!!! 


Hope you guys have a lovely weekend! 

See you soon with some book reviews! 

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Haul: Book Sleeves from Book Bestie.

Hello! 

Today I want to share some absolutely stunning book sleeves that I am so in love with it. I was on Etsy one day, looking for Luna Lovegood merch. I love Luna and have very little Luna goodies. I was on a lookout to find some cute things to fuel my love for all things Luna. I came across these gorgeous book sleeves And got 2 for me and one for my sister and was so happy when these arrived in the mail. 

These are from Book Bestie UK, an Etsy shop. 
So check out the shop, it has a ton of beautiful book sleeves. 


Ah! 
Luna in all her glory. 
Quibbler. 
Ravenclaw colours. 
Ah! 
So perfect. 



Hermione + Books. 
This makes me bookish heart so happy. 


When in doubt go to the library. 
:) 




This one I got for my sister, with her favourite quote ever, we've always had this quote in our home in one form or another and now we have it on a book sleeve. 
I am currently using it to hold two of my main planners. And it holds them perfectly. 



Review: 

- All of the book sleeves are so well-made. 
- The illustrations are gorgeous. 
- They have the print on both sides. 
- They are perfectly sized to hold most paperbacks. 


Monday, 2 September 2019

Monday Moods: Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

What a glorious Monday this is!
We woke up to the sound of Ganesh bhajans and a general air of drizzly festivity!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

May Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and the bestower of wisdom, bring peace and happiness to your life!

Some little glimpses of our puja at home...








We have multiple Ganesha idols at home and during Ganesh Chaturthi, we bring them all together and offer flowers and sweets to them. :) 

Hope you had a nice, relaxing Monday!