Book Reviews: The Girls

The Girls_Cover.jpg

Title:  The Girls

Author: Emma Cline

Pages: 355 pages

Plot: Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Favorite Quote: “…I was confusing familiarity with happiness. Because that was there even when love wasn’t…”

Thoughts:   There was a lot of hype around this book and it was a close winner of the Goodread  Readers Choice Awards 2017 for the Fiction category. I finally got a chance to read this book this month.

14 year old Evie, daughter of a divorced couple seems to lead a rather dull life until one day she spots a group of unkempt girls in the park. They are confident, carefree, with no care of being accepted, just being themselves, everything Evie is not. Suzanne from the group particulary caught Evie’s fancy and her obsession begins. She starts mingling with the cult which the society dreads, spending more and more time with them, filling the void. Over the period of time her obsession with Suzanne intensifies to the level where there is no line between right or wrong.

This is not a regular teenager coming of age novel; it is much deeper and intellectually well rooted. The plot is based in North California in 1960. The author has done a commendable job in bringing this era to life with her narration. The book unveils from Evie’s point of view transcending between the past and the present seamlessly. The book is very well written but at few places like description of a simple meals, etc is overly written.  The pace of the story is a little slower than it should have been. The characters were well carved but I honestly could not connect to any of them. I found Evie’s character annoying at the beginning and later her choices made me roll my eyes, but I really didn’t sympathize with her at any point. But I loved the parts where Evie nails the worlds perception about girls in genral and their illusionary love that fixes things.In all the book didn’t really impress me but few parts made the read worthwhile.

Ratings: 3/5

The Girl_Banner.jpg

 

Book Review: A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

APM

 

Title:  A Perfect Murder and Other Stories

Author: S.R. Nair

Pages: 170 pages

Plot: A naïve man and a divorcee, a wronged woman’s fight for justice, a poor woman’s desire for an iPad, a charming young man plots to seduce a beautiful, blonde tourist, a staunchly orthodox immigrant’s struggle to assimilate in the U.S. … These are some of the captivating stories in this book which heralds a distinct voice and is a “seriously good read”.

Thoughts:   I have always been a little hesitant to read short stories, until recently when I have read a few short stories in a row and I am becoming fond of short story books. A Perfect Murder and Other Stories by S. R. Nair contains 14 short stories about murder, matrimony, betrayal, greed, dowry harassment, reach of the internet, etc. The book is quite short but it covers wide range of genres. The plot of the stories are based in India and America. Most of the stories are spread across three to four pages except for two, ‘A Perfect Murder’ and ‘Salma’s Fate’ that are around twenty-five pages long.

I liked the fact that the author managed to do justice to each and every story in only 170 pages. The narration is crisp yet apt enough to understand the characters and the plot. All the stories seemed realistic and authentic and the emotions of the characters were easily conveyed. My top three story picks from the book would be ‘Ipad’, ‘Visa for America; and Zubair.

Ipad: This story is about Hira bai who just got aware of the existence of Ipad by her employee’s son who has visited from US. Her innocence and love for her husband are well portrayed in just three pages. The reason she wants an ipad is heart touching.

Visa for America: An executive form US finds his wife on an Indian matrimony site. But love is not always the reason people marry. There is much more to it. I like the mystery created in this story and I loved the end.

Zubair: A progressive Musilm, Zubair, is forced to move to US due to family pressure. He is really concerned about his orthodox wife and kids adjusting to the US culture. But to his surprise he is the one facing trouble while his wife and kids adjust easily to the west.

With gently detached narration, realistic plot and authentic characterization, makes this book is an enjoyable read.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

APM-banner.jpg

 

Book Review: A Tapestry of Tears

ATOT_Book.jpg

Title:  A Tapestry of Tears

Author: Gita V. Reddy

Pages: 190 pages

Plot: Set in the early nineteenth century, A Tapestry of Tears is about female infanticide, and the unmaking of tradition. If a woman gives birth to a female child, she must feed her the noxious sap of the akk plant. That is the tradition, parampara. Veeranwali rebels, and fights to save her offspring.
The other stories span a spectrum of emotions and also bring to life the varied culture and social spectrum of India. Woven into this collection is the past and the present, despair and hope, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Thoughts:  The author, Ms Gita V. Reddy usually writes children fiction. She has ventured into writing short stories for adults with ‘A Tapestry of Tears.’ This book consists of 12 short stories deep rooted in the Indian culture. The stories touch upon various dilemmas that a woman faces. Issues like female infanticide, women’s struggle during partition, female killing, etc are well highlighted. The stories also touch upon an aging mother, self reflection of a person, losing your loved ones, working on marriage etc.

I am not much into reading short stories since I like to empathize with the characters of the book and since short stories are mend to be short, there is a possibility that they lack to offer a well crafted and  well expressed characters. But with this book I must admit that I was able to empathize and well as sympathize with most of the characters and their struggles. The stories are very well narrated and the word flow was seamless. I was immersed in each and every story in this book. My top three picks of stories would be ‘A Tapestry of Tears’, ‘The Quizzing Glasses’, and ‘Only Her Daughter’.

I simply loved this book and would recommend it to all those who like reading stories with female protagonist, books about relationships and emphatic tales. Looking forward to reading many more books by this author.

Ratings: 4.5/5

PS: – Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

ATOT_Banner

 

Un-boxing- ‘The Pucker Up’ Fab Bag Feb’17

I have recently subscribed to the Fab Bag for a year. I was contemplating whether to review it on the blog or not. But then I though why not? There is no harm in adding a flavor to the blog, right 😉

I have already received the Jan’17 Fab Bag and I was quite happy with it. Those who follow me on Instagram must have seen a glimpse of it. I received the Feb’17 Pucker Up Fab Bag last week.

Full bag.PNG

The products came in a cute white pouch imprinted with pink and purple lips and lipsticks. Getting the hint from the bag it was quite clear that this bag will be a lip product heavy one. Let’s see each product one by one.

img-20170219-wa0003

  • Sugar Liquid Lipstick Smudge Me Not 06 Tangerine Queen (Orange Coral) Full size (Rs.499) -Sugar cosmetics launched their new range of liquid lipsticks. I received an email from Fabbag to choose a shade of my preference and I went with Tangerine Queen (Orange Coral) since I have very few shades in orange. This clearly was my favorite product from the Feb Fab Bag. This liquid lipstick lasted long and also settled well. But if your lips tend to dry easily I would recommend using this with a non tinted lip balm.

IMG-20170219-WA0010.jpg

  • Matra Holistic Lip Care in Kiwi- Full size (Rs.199) I am a lip balm hoarder and this was a new brand for me to try. I received the Kiwi variant. This product is 100% natural and also infused with SPF, offering protection from sun. The product is barely tinted. It has a nice fruity scent to it. It is not the best in its range but worth a try.

IMG-20170219-WA0009.jpg

  • Just Herbs Lively Clean Honey Exfoliating Facial Cleansing Gel- 50ml (Rs.230) This is a honey based for face exfoliation and cleansing from “Just Herbs” It is gentle on the skin and smells great too. I love natural products, especially for the face since they are gentle on the skin. After usage my skin felt refreshed and cleansed. This is not a full size product but 50 ml will easily last a month, two months if used twice a week.

IMG-20170219-WA0008.jpg

  • Makeup Revolution the Matte Effect Concealer Stick- (Rs 550) I received this shade in MC 1. The concealer stick is smooth on the skin and settles easily. Though I thought it was a bit dry. I tried using both by direct application from the stick and by dabbing it on a brush and preferred the later one.

Over all I quite liked my Feb Fab bag and I would give is 3.5 stars. You can subscribe to the Fab Bag here

 

Book Review: A Way Back Into Love

WBIL_Cover.jpg

TitleA Way Back Into Love (Love, #1)

Author:  Veronica Thatcher

Pages: 372 pages

Plot: Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love…well, that makes everything complicated. And when you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.

Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life gets turned upside-down when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home…to the man she left behind?

Thoughts: I picked this book up since I wanted to read something very light and breezy. This book was definitely that. The story revolves around Emily Stevens and Derek Thrope who are best friends since the first day of school. With time their bond blossoms and so does their feelings for each other. But they dread to confess their feelings for each other in order to preserve their friendship. With one drunken night and lots of misunderstandings Emily moves out of town and Derek ends up with Emily’s mean half sister, Emma. But this is all in the past. Emily is back in Frenso for her surgical internship and she has to face Derek again.

The story is quite predictable but is still fun to read it. The plot was based in present with constant flashbacks from the past. A lot of incidences in the hospital reminded me of the series Grey’s Anatomy. But maybe it’s just me.

The narration is from a third person’s perspective throughout the book. I felt that the narration from both Emily’s and Derek’s POV would have added a flavor, making it easy for the reader to sympathize with the duo. For me the highlight was the relationship that Emily and Derek shared. I loved how they rebounded immediately after Emily’s return inspite of so much hurt and history.

This is a love story that clearly states that confessions at the right time are very important and life may not offer second chances to everybody. This is the first book in the series and I will recommend this book to whoever is looking to read a light, quick love story.

Ratings: 3/5

Buy links: Paperback – http://www.amazon.in/Way-Back- Into-Love/dp/1946641170/
eBooks – https://www.amazon.in/dp/B06WRR5FN3

PS: – Thanks to b00k r3vi3w Tours for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

WBIL_Banner.jpg

Book Review: The Legend of Laxmi Prasad

TLLP_Cover.jpg

Title: The Legend of Laxmi Prasad

Author: Twinkle Khanna

Pages: 233 pages

Plot:  A collection of utterly magical stories that will leave you crying, laughing and wholly enchanted.
A gangly young girl transforms her village with a revolutionary idea. Sixty-eight-year-old Noni Appa finds herself drawn to a married man – ‘Why do people have to define relationships, underline each word till the paper gives way beneath,’ she wonders. Bablu Kewat becomes obsessed with sanitary napkins much to his family’s horror, and a young woman keeps checking the weather forecast as she meticulously plans each of her five weddings. Funny, observant and wise, this is storytelling at its most irresistible.

Favorite Quote: “Life is but a play of chance in the game of choice.”

Thoughts:  I am a fan of Twinkle Khanna’s quick wits, her sense of humor and her unapologetic views on various issues. She dares to bare her thoughts to the world which is visibly evident in her tweets and columns for TOI.  The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad is the second book from the author. I quite enjoyed Mrs Funnybones which was classified from A to Z taking us through various facets of her life.

This book is a collection of four short stories with lead protagonists breaking the ideologies and societal norms and bringing transformation in the society in their own ways. The first three stories have a strong female protagonist and the fourth one is a male character, inspired from the real life, who is working against the tide to help female hygiene and sanitation. Let’s dig in a little more into these characters.

Laxmi- Laxmi had always seen that women were treated as a burden in her village. Birth of a girl child brought a hefty load of dowry. Until the time Laxmi decides to bring a change and comes up with an idea so simple but so meaningful that the birth of a girl becomes a reason to celebrate. I loved Laxmi’s character and the fact that how simple thoughts can change lives of generations to come. I especially loved the note on which the story ended.

Noni Appa- 68 year old Noni Appa is a lonely widow, whose only daughter is settled in London. Her only support system is her younger sister Binni. Noni Appa and Binni both decide to take up yoga classes with Anandji. Noni Appa finds herself drawn to her yoga teacher and dwells on the thought ‘log kya kahenge’ until she breaks free. I loved the relationship Noni Appa and Binni shared and how supportive Binni and Noni Appa’s daughter was of her decision. I loved the fact that Noni Appa broke free from “log kya kahenge’ and set an example for the society.

Elisa Thomas- Elisa was married for five times with five weird men. Sooner than later she got back to her parents house leaving her marriage behind. Her well educated father always said that ‘a man is a man is man’. The story intended to bring out the fact that according to the society, independent, well-educated women need a man to survive in the society even if the man in her life is insane or just for the namesake.

Bablu Kewat- Inspired from the achievements of Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man famously known as the man who wore a sanitary pad. All Bablu Kewat wanted was to make a low cost sanitary napkin which will benefit the women who cannot afford the expensive sanitary napkins sold by the big conglomerates. Little did he know that his noble intentions would be misread and he will lose his friends, family and respect? But this didn’t stop him until he achieved his goal. This story stood apart in the book because it was the only story with a male protagonist thriving to make a change for the female sanitization which was considered a as a female problem, a taboo to be spoken about.

The stories are simply narrated and various issues are highlighted. There are times where Khanna’s cynical narration makes the reader grin. It is a quick read for all the Twinkle Khanna fans.

Ratings: 3.5/5

tllp_banner

 

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty

TMG_Cover.jpg

Title:  Truly Madly Guilty

Author:  Liane Moriarty

Pages: 415 pages

Plot: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Favorite Quote: “There is no special protection when you cross that invisible line from your ordinary life to that parallel world where tragedies happen. It happens just like this. You don’t become someone else. You’re still exactly the same. Everything around you still smells and looks and feels exactly the same.”

Thoughts:  Truly Madly Guilty, won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category. I have read a few books by Liane Moriarty and they were pretty interesting so I decided to give this book a read.

This book is about an incidence that takes place, out of the blue which changes the course of life for three families. Who thought a simple BBQ would turn into a fateful event disrupting the normal lives of three families and will leave their marriage, friendship, survival at stake? Will they be able to cope up? Revive? Get back to being normal? Read the book to find out.

The story maneuvered between two months after the BBQ and the day of the BBQ. The mystery is well built but I felt that the revelation didn’t live upto the mark. I was quite a bit disappointed by it since I was anticipating a breath stopping, sharp gasping suspense. The story did seem a little stretched and could have kept the interest of the reader higher with a tighter edit.

There are three couples Sam and Clementine, Erika and Oliver, Vid and Tiffany whose POVs are clearly dissected. Understanding each character and their thoughts, feelings and behivour was effortless. I especially loved Erika’s character and her complicated friendship with Clementine. I really liked the characterization and also the fact that wherever relevant the odd behavioral habits of the individuals were backed up with a psychosocial explanation.

Over all the narration is the strength of the book, there are a few high moments but the story line could have been better.

Ratings: 3/5

TMG_Banner.jpg

 

 

Book Review:The Doppelgänger

Doppleganger Cover.jpg

Title:  The Doppelgänger

Author:  Prateek Yadav

Pages: 170 pages

Plot: The perfect plan for the perfect heist-a team of con-men, foolproof disguise and a painting worth millions, nothing could have gone wrong. But something did… A man finds himself on a bus to Manali with nothing but some cash and severe memory loss. Embarking on a frantic hunt for his identity, he begins to discover that his presence in Manali isn’t an accident. The closer he gets to the truth, the more elusive it becomes. Ghosts from his past haunt him as he finds himself trapped between his doppelganger, the police, a sadistic gangster and his own dwindling sanity. The journey of the search for his identity ends up being a race for survival.

Thoughts: What if you wake up to find yourself in a bus and you don’t remember getting on it in the first place? What if you don’t remember who you are? Scary. Isn’t it? The Doppleganger is a psychological thriller that trails Sameer, who finds himself on a bus to Manali with no memory at all. He starts a search to regain his memory with the clues he finds in his path and discovers himself at the epicenter of a labyrinth of odd events, murders and circumstances.

The Doppelgänger is Prateek Yadav’s debut novel and he has done a great job with the story plotting. I personally got intruded in the story post page 50, but then on the suspense lived until the end.  The author tricks the reader in drawing a conclusion and believing it only to find out that it wasn’t true. I was constantly trying to fit Sameer’s identity as either good or the evil doopleganger. The characters are well explained to be easily understood by the reader. I loved the fact that the story had a crisp editing that kept the essence of the book alive.

For a debut psychological thriller, The Doppelgänger is a great attempt.

Ratings: 3.5/5

PS: – Thanks to TBC for sending a copy of the book for an honest review.

 

DG_Banner.jpg

 

 

Book Review: Soulless

soulless-book

Title:  Soulless

Author:  M.V.Kasi

Pages: 303 pages

Plot: They say when you take revenge you lose a part of your soul.

But Sia hadn’t felt her soul in a very long time. She only knew the feeling of soul-crushing fear and helplessness. Especially during the nights, when she fought an invisible enemy that terrorized her during the nightmares. Her days weren’t any better either. She spent them desperately trying to gain control of her life while battling her various fears and addictions.
She was only twenty three, but she had resigned herself to live the rest of her life that way. Fearing the unknown.
Until it all changed one day.
Now she remembered. And she knew. She knew that the monster from her nightmares was real. And also that her soul had been ripped apart from her.
The memories brought in fear, rage and pain, along with a strong craving for a swift payback.
But revenge was a dish best served cold. And it required a complete absence of emotion.
So now? Now she plotted. And she schemed. She prepared herself in every possible way to hunt and destroy her enemy.
But every mission, however well planned can go awry. Sometimes it’s because even though one can be soulless, there is always the heart. A very weak and desperate heart that was being stolen by a man.
A man who was like a bright spark of vivid colors in her otherwise dark and dreary life.
A man who was only supposed to be collateral damage in her ultimate war.

Thoughts:  Soulless is a revengeful tale that brings out the psychological repercussion of unresolved traumatic childhood issues with a lot of jaw dropping twists.

Sia, our protagonist is an heir to a successful empire, Blush International. She is a strong, ambitious and talented with severe psychological issues that keep her up at night. She is a girl with a revengeful mission whose soul has been ripped out as a child. She moves to Hyderabad from Boston to accomplish her operation when she meets Ajay, a handsome and successful young entrepreneur who is bent upon taking Sia out on a date in spite of her repeated cold detached refusals.

The story is well narrated and fast paced. I was looped in right from the beginning till the end. The narration maneuvers interestingly between past and present, unveiling the plot twists little by little. The name of the book and the cover are totally apt for the plot.  I loved the characterization since I was able to empathize and sympathize with both Sia and Ajay. I loved their sizzling chemistry, the way they try to one up the other each time.

I did feel though that Jo and her family accepted things too easily which seemed a bit unrealistic to me. I absolutely despised the way the book ended abruptly at the turning point. Hopefully the story will pick up right from where we left in the sequel titled ‘Ruthless’.

Overall, this book is quite an interesting read with ample of twists and a strong characterization.  Eagerly looking forward to read the sequel.

Ratings: 4/5

Grab  your copy @ Amazon.com Amazon.in Amazon.co.uk

About the author: By day, MV Kasi works for a software company. She currently lives in Hyderabad, India with her husband and son. By night, she gives in to her fascination to explore the human psychology and the various facets of life in her writing. She has particular fascination with successful people who are not considered ‘normal’ by society’s standards. Her love for reading has led her to start writing on her own. She likes to add depth to her characters and explore their psychological motivations. Due to the nature of topics and plots, she does not shy away from writing about sexuality or violence. Despite covering some heavy topics, she likes to infuse humor into her writing.

This Tour is Hosted by

TBC.png

Facebook | Website Blog Tours | Twitter | Linkedin

We Promote So That You Can Write

Soulless Banner.jpg

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors

BCD Book.jpg

Title:  Behind Closed Doors

Author:  B.A. Paris

Pages: 304 pages

Plot: Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Thoughts: Behind Closed Doors was a semifinalist in Goodreads’ best mystery/thriller 2016 category. I would start by saying sorry for subtle spoilers in the review, but I had to let it out.

The book is about a married couple Grace and Jack, who are perfect in the eyes of the world but have a very unusual dimension of life inside the house. Grace is an epitome of a perfect wife for the world, but she is carrying the burden of secrets she dare not share with anyone. Jack is a handsome and a successful lawyer, who specializes in defending victims of domestic violence. But appearance can be deceiving.  Grace had a younger sister, Millie, who was born with a down syndrome. She was soon going to move out of the boarding school and move in with them. But Jack has some special plans that give Grace nightmares.

Bravo to B.A. Paris for writing such an amazing debut novel.  The plot was unlike any other suspense novel I have read and I loved the narration, flow and the characterization. The narration was fast paced, gripping and consuming. It was so well plotted and narrated that shivers and panic ran down my body a couple of times.  I simply loved the characterization. I loathed the psychopath Jack’s character to the core and felt protective about Grace. I loved how seamlessly the story swirled between the past and the present creating a confluence in tale at a point.

I especially loved the end conversation between Esther and Grace. How understanding and sharp Esther was. Also, even Mille could identify Jack’s evilness and how her act instilled fresh hope and courage in Grace. I read this book over a period of two days and I must say that my heart was at peace only when the book ended. The book left me with a lot of after thoughts mainly if Grace could have planned an escape sooner?

All the mystery/suspense lovers watch out for this one.

Ratings: 5/5

BCDBanner.jpg